I wrote this last night between 10 o'clock and two in the morning for the [profile] accio_is_love community. This is what happens when the muse listens to Renaissance choral music in the middle of the night.

Title: New Life
Pairing: sort of Snarryish? Some Harry/Ginny (sorry!)
Author: [personal profile] perverse_idyll
Rating: Gen
Word count: 2201
Summary: Severus finds it hard to let go.

Once a year Severus sought out Harry Potter.

He didn't come to haunt. He wasn't bent on revenge. The blood he'd spilled in the Shrieking Shack didn't bind him. No debt or last-minute sin forced him to return to the living world. It was entirely of his own free will that he paid the boy these spectral visits. No one but Severus knew of them, and when he departed each year he left no trace behind.

On the anniversary of his death, his spirit materialised inside the walls of Godric's Hollow. The dark of midnight lay over the house; to Severus it was the same as day. Once inside he moved as he had in life, gliding the halls. He scorned the theatricality of floating. Here, where his memories beckoned, he touched the earth. It was merely a matter of respect and self-control.

A soft whimper as he swept past the nursery provoked only a faint snort of dismissal. Severus was no longer obliged to care about the children of those he'd died for. The sunny, busy dreams emanating from the room didn't call to him in the slightest, and his presence skimmed over it like a crow's wing.

He walked as one still living, but there were limits to his observance of the old flesh-and-blood ways. Confronted with a bedroom door, he hesitated, smirked, then melted right through.

The intense desire to descend upon Potter faded, as always, and Severus stopped. He was here now. He never questioned the compulsion that blew him from one side of the veil to the other, pursuing him through overlapping layers of sorrow, fury, forbidden emotion. Every year he rushed forward until he fetched up inside these walls, staring down at these indistinguishable lumps lying side by side in an ordinary bed.

Potter. Harry. And his…wife.

Harry. The name shivered inside him as if he still had a body, as if his bones were hollow, as if the name were a breath blowing through every moment that had led him here. The shadow representing his existence rippled as if their proximity to each other summoned a windstorm. An emotional dissonance that made him feel…alive.

He knew which side of the bed Potter favoured. As usual, having got this far, he hesitated to continue. His past had ceased paining him long ago, but he felt it stir every time he drew near the boy. But why was he here, if not to prove to himself, one last time, that Potter lived? He'd done what he promised to do. He'd helped save Lily's son.

No. He'd saved Harry. The last thing he'd seen as he died had been Harry. No wonder he kept coming back.

His obsessive focus on the wretched brat had brought him to the bedside. Sometimes he didn't need to move; a mere thought would suffice. Severus frowned. He could see the bed's occupants. To his eyes they emitted an unearthly radiance, brightest wherever he happened to be looking. He barely glanced at Harry's wife, although as ever the sight of her long ginger hair prompted fickle memories of Lily and fickler thoughts about Harry in bed with his mum. It didn't escape his notice that there were three people under the warm, rucked-up quilt, although one of them hardly qualified as a person.

Quick, owl the tabloids! Potter's spawning again!

That thought was like a flame burning through the last of his mortal tissue. He wanted to shake the boy. Every new life carried Harry farther away. From the past. From him. Each child changed him, as each year made him less the child Severus had once—

What? Protected? Yes, that was acceptable. Protected. It would do.

The day would come when it wouldn't be worth crossing over. On that day Severus might even forget he was dead.

He stood there, suffering Harry's presence—every second spent near the boy brought back another memory. Eventually he noticed he'd started to breathe. That was irritating. His incorporeal form was trying to imitate the hypnotic rise and fall of Harry's chest. Irresistible, as so much about the little bastard tended to be.

In the light generated by Severus' scrutiny, the boy lay exposed, slack-faced, a bit stubbly, his fringe curled and twisted upon the pillow. Without his glasses he looked— Severus cast about for words that wouldn't disgrace him or give him away. In that case, not 'innocent.' Not 'beautiful,' either. Potter beautiful? What a laugh. To think otherwise was simply not to be borne. Bad enough that he was temporarily too distracted to come up with a more suitable description.

Suddenly greedy, he ran his invisible fingers through Potter's fringe, thinking hair with unutterable scorn, hoping that, in the same way a thought could send him to the place he was thinking about, his opinion of the incorrigible Potter mop would allow him to…experience it…as he never had in life. A hopeless hope, a sign that he still wasn't able to let go.

Fuck it. His fingers strayed to the faded scar on Potter's forehead. It was stupid to stroke it—the boy wasn't a sodding cat—but he did so anyway, consoled by the fact that it didn't matter. He could no more detect the silky smoothness of skin than he could enjoy the crazy flutter of hair.

Harry's eyelids twitched. Severus froze, convinced that his uninvited touch and ethereal trespass had disturbed the boy's peace. But the glow around the bed actually brightened, and for a moment his whole hand was bathed, visible, his fingers delicate upon the symbol of Harry's childhood curse.

Moved by the sight, Severus bent as if to kiss the spot where his fingers rested. Wait, was he insane? Had he taken leave of his senses? But he stayed leaning over.

Beneath him Harry shifted, and against the backdrop of his own shadowy hair he saw the boy smile. So he kissed his sleeping lips instead.

Horrified, he straightened up. He'd felt it. Hadn't he? He was almost certain he had. Dear Merlin, what was he trying to do? The afterlife represented acceptance, release, the cessation of pain. Would he prefer an eternity of regret spent reliving his lost chances? Rubbish to that.

"Mm," Harry murmured, turning over and thrusting his blanketed arse toward the edge of the bed. Severus stood trembling, wishing now that he couldn't see, feeling his soul, his spirit, shaken once more by a terrible craving. Ginny Weasley—oh yes, he knew exactly who lay in Harry Potter's arms—rolled onto her back, and after a brief turbulence Harry's right arm fought free of the quilt and slung itself across her.

"Shhhh," he whispered, hand gentle on her belly. "It's all right. Go back to sleep."

Out of nowhere a cold wind rushed at Severus like a horde of Dementors. His already insubstantial grip on reality flapped like a scarecrow, but he refused to be shredded and cast out. Bugger that. He'd find himself back on the other side of the veil if he yielded now. Tumultuous in the darkness, his robes billowed violently but made no sound.

As he struggled, all he could think was: he's awake. Harry's awake. That had never happened before.

Clinging to the world with all his might, he bent lower. The light dazzled him as he dipped his face into it.

Harry's hand moved, a slow, steady caress. Hovering over him as if suspended above a Pensieve, Severus watched him pet his pregnant wife's belly.

Harry wanted this child. It was obvious. Obvious, and yet it had never occurred to Severus before: some parents love their children. Some parents love their children even before they're born. He stared unblinking as Harry's hand traced the swell of the quilt. He had to blink to break the spell. When he opened his eyes again he was staring at Harry's mouth.

"Hush," Harry said, warm and quiet in the middle of the night. "Be a good boy, Albus Severus. Let your mum catch some sleep."

There are thoughts that can move you from one place to another. But there are words that call to you as if you've been waiting for them all your life.

Severus would never dream of lying down on the bed. Good Lord, no. He wasn't here to fantasise about what might have been. He didn't climb atop the covers, didn't slide a knee along the mattress, didn't scramble into position. As far as he was concerned, he hadn't moved.

Yet there he was, lying full-length next to Harry. The mattress was under him. Or he was on top of it. Somehow he'd ended up stretched on his side, shielding Harry from behind, his head half on the pillow. Gobsmacked, he pulled his nose from the sleep-tousled nape of Harry's neck and wondered what the bloody hell had just happened and what the bloody fuck he was supposed to do now.

The wind that had tried to drive him from the world had died away, leaving him becalmed. His body, such as it was, knew exactly what it wanted to do, flowing into position around the living, blanketed boy.

As Harry breathed, so did Severus. He felt no desire to pry himself off the bed. The other occupants evidently had no clue he was there, dark and dead and full of bitter yearning. Inside him something shivered, yet he lay still, moss on a log, fog around a lamppost, determined not to disturb the—stop saying 'boy,' you stupid arsehole, just look at that sturdy neck.

Ginny coughed and made a restless noise, and Harry said, "Shhh," his hand stroking gently. "Hush, Albus Severus, you'll wake your mum. I can't wait to see you, either, but it's not time yet, all right? Shush, little one. Be good and let her sleep."

Severus' nonexistent throat closed, nearly choking him. He wanted desperately to snicker. He wanted even more desperately to press his face into the crook of Harry's neck.

"Listen, I'll tell you what," Harry whispered. "I just want you to know," and his voice vibrated through Severus like someone brushing velvet backward, a static-electric strangeness blocking out everything else. "You'll always be loved. We'll never make you feel as if nobody wants you. We'll never make fun of you. Or call you names. We won't dress you in secondhand clothes or—or keep you from having friends. We'll always give you enough to eat. You'll have the—"

His voice hit a snag, and without a second thought Severus wrapped his entire existence around Harry like a coat. Harry swallowed, and Severus felt it all the way down his spine to the tips of his toes. "You'll have the childhood he never—that we—well, none of us ever had."

Experimentally Severus rested his face against Harry's hair, shrugging himself closer and reaching out to place his hand on top of Harry's. He wished with every nerve in his body that he could feel something.

Bugger the history books. Forget the Order of Merlin. Someone had named a child after him, and that was an honour far beyond anything the Ministry could even think of bestowing.

It was so entirely unexpected, so beyond belief, beyond the bounds of anything he'd ever experienced, that he couldn't bear the thought of having to let go.

And he felt something. Alarmed, Severus raised his head. He did. Dear Merlin. He felt the heartbeat of the little boy who would replace him. The child who had yet to be born.

He and Harry lay that way, hands joined, Severus' darkness diffused by the light around the bed, all four of them quiet and easy together.

But he didn't belong here. Not just here in this room, on this connubial bed, but here in this world. He had to leave.

To his surprise, when he pulled away Harry instantly scooted back, pressing against him, following the memory of being held, the loss of his ephemeral body. Confused, Severus caught him, and Harry wiggled his shoulders free of the blankets the better to snuggle into place. Severus' robes enclosed him; the rest of Severus could do no less.

Beside them Ginny stretched and sighed, and Harry's hand passed through his, reaching to be sure she was all right. A certain amount of groping about and shifting position rocked the bed. Then, to Severus' utter amazement, Harry's hand travelled up the hill of Ginny's middle and found him again, Harry's fingers meeting his and sliding home with quiet certainty, exactly as if Severus' hand were real.

He stayed where he was for the rest of the night, not moving, just holding Harry Potter, his hand quivering with the miniscule beat of a baby's heart. Near dawn, Severus tucked his face into Harry's messy hair and closed his eyes.

In the morning, when sunlight flamed over the bed and the baby kicked and his parents marvelled at their son's impatience to be born, it was as if no one else had ever been there at all.

free hit counters

enname: (Default)

From: [personal profile] enname

I am in the middle of doing a high speed dash to the Place of Employment, which means I really only have time to string together a few over used and rather bland adjectives in order to tart up a very basic, 'yay!'. Except of course now I realise I have managed anything in the above sentence, but instead used enough words saying nothing to drown one small flotilla. Lovely, and everyone should listen to Renaissance choral music in the middle of the night. Night is the time for polyphony.

*throws on a shoe and sprints out the door*


perverse_idyll: (Default)

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