The Morning After, a HP/SS story written by LynnZo  August 2, 2004. 4,750 words.

 

Disclaimer:  The Harry Potter universe and all its characters and situations are, collectively, the property of J.K. Rowling, Warner Brothers, and others as applicable.  This is an amateur work of fanfiction produced without expectation of profit, and is in no way intended to infringe upon existing copyrights.

 

Summary:  My take on the final battle with Voldemort, and its aftermath.  A sequel to Family Night (which is also available on my web page). 

 

Rating: PG for combat and sexual situations.  Slash.

 

Author’s Notes: Thanks to AnneZo for the impetus to start writing again, and for her thoughtful beta.

--My LiveJournal is:  http://www.livejournal.com/users/lynnzo

 --My fiction can be found here, courtesy of AnneZo:  http://trickster.org/annezo/lynnzo.html

--Your comments are welcome, I can be reached at LynnZo@yahoo.com

 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *   *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 

 

The Morning After

by LynnZo

 

And somehow it seemed they had made a kind of agreement.  A sort of plan, for after, if it turned out they had a choice.  Harry wasn’t entirely sure what it meant, but he knew he was smiling again, and he thought Snape smiled back, a little, but he couldn’t be sure, it might have been the moonlight.  Harry felt something he hadn’t felt before as they made their way to the sleeping tent, to rest for tomorrow, but as he thought it through, in the quiet of the camp with their unit quietly Apparating back in around them to rest for tomorrow, and he thought it might have been family.

 

***

 

Harry woke early, knowing it was a mistake.  He hated to wait when he was ready, hated it, but their plan to take the manor house bit by bit was working. And for most of the first few months of the war, nothing they’d tried had seemed to work, and so Harry had learned to respect any plan that worked.  This plan meant he had to wait until the unit that had spent the night inside, tracking down what inhabitants they could and making certain no human or animal left the building, signaled their all-clear as they left for Rest. Units had to be careful of each other.  Terrible mistakes could be made in the heat of battle, around blind bends, in dark corridors.

 

So he waited.

 

Waited until Snape rose and came to sit with him at the food table, neither of them eating, but sitting with their unit this last morning.  There was little conversation.  Hermione and Tonks had started weaving their wards, and the rest of the unit simply waited.  The wards would give them what warning they could.  Protection was impossible; no protection they could devise could cover twelve people as they Apparated a mile or more and moved within the floors of the manor. But Hermione had kept looking, and had found a ward-structure that could link them, could give them a flash of warning if someone not in the unit came near.  It helped, and the unit waited quietly as it built around them.  Usually they used Camp as their ward-base, but today it would be the manor itself, all of them inside at one time, and each of them knew this meant they would be together, inside, until it was finally over.  Tonks made her way quietly around the group, touching each wand in turn with her own, and as she connected each with the other, she whispered their linking-word for today.

 

Optare.”

 

And Harry turned startled eyes to Snape’s as Tonk’s wand touched his own, as he felt the word-link reach into his wand, as he let it in, let the rest of his unit in, as he joined with them for the last battle.

 

Choose.  And his eyes asked a question, and Snape nodded fractionally.  He had given Tonks today’s linking-word.  And Harry knew that Snape would be watching, would be waiting, for him to choose.  And he’d meant what he’d said last night, and so he repeated the word for his partner’s ears only, and it came out nearly angry, a challenge, Choose.”  And Snape nodded, and then Tonks had finished, and it was time.

 

They Apparated, together.

 

Inside, it was immediately apparent that last night’s unit had done their work well; corridors had been opened where none had been visible before, scorches on the floors and walls telling their own tales of battles, ground gained and lost.  Stone columns which had once lined the entry-way lay shattered on the floor, long-rotted furniture crushed beneath them.  Sagging depressions in the floor where none had been yesterday hinted at supports damaged, and they knew to tread warily.  But the results were clear: revealed passages, new ways down, where yesterday Snape had felt him, cornered.  Waiting.  How many Death Eaters might be with him, they couldn’t know, nor could they know what traps had been set for them.

 

They made their decisions and wished each other well with looks, not words.  There were certain to be eyes watching, people listening, and the unit, by habit, gave nothing away.  Without words they separated, Harry and Snape retracing their steps from the day before, to the room where Harry’d killed a man.  Today he spared not a glance or a thought for that, he and Snape stayed, as always, in the present.  There was no room for remorse in battle.  By now, Harry had forgotten that Snape had taught him that.  He didn’t even feel triumph when he saw what he’d expected, what Snape had sensed as yesterday’s Death Eater had died: at the back of the room, there was a wall blasted away, and stairs.  Leading down.

 

The room was oppressively still, without even an echo from their unit’s activities reaching them.  Harry understood the heavy silence; those inside the house didn’t have the luxury of rest periods, and would no doubt move only when forced to, fight only as necessary.  In their position, Harry would not have gone on the offensive; he would have waited for the enemy to come to him.  So he knew they were here, somewhere, waiting.

 

They moved carefully, cautiously, expecting at every second that the floor would give way, that the very dust floating in the air would coalesce into an enemy, something.  After months of practice it was second nature to live only in the moment, to be entirely alive with expectation.  Together they moved beyond the ruined wall, smelling the burnt-dust smell that was the residue of powerful magic, and down the stairs, testing each one, hardly believing they could be solid.

 

No resistance was unusual.  Unnerving to find no snares, no wards, no shrieks of warning or attack, no air currents to even disturb the dust on the floor.  The shredded cobwebs resting limply on the walls told their own tale of long neglect, and had there not been the vision, the two of them might have chosen to retrace their steps, to take another path.

 

But the vision had been clear enough: down.  And the corridor, unused, undisturbed until their passing, was definitely leading down.  They continued.

 

Until it dead-ended in an archway bricked up so long ago the new bricks were of the same crumbling texture as the old ones around them.  A dead end.  Everything about it told them it was an end.  The stillness, the silence, the lack of resistance, everything.  It was too perfectly an end.  Harry and Snape shared just a look, and then the bricked-up entry gave way under their combined will.

 

They stepped into Voldemort’s presence.

 

Incongruously, in an old-fashioned music room.  A few spindly chairs, covered now with decades of dust, with the dull remnants of gilt paint showing though.  The remains of a pianoforte, one leg missing, tilted hideously towards them, the yellowed, rotted keys smiling a macabre, hideous grin at them across the room.  Voldemort, sitting regally in an oversized armchair, and Pettigrew, cringing behind him.

 

Harry only had a second, maybe two. He could feel as well as hear Snape engage three Death Eaters beside him, that was their plan, although they’d never discussed it.  Snape was buying him this precious second.  It was his purpose.  Harry knew his own.

 

He raised his wand, looking Voldemort right in the eye, and he gathered the power in him, around him.

 

Time slowed in that second, and Voldemort’s inhuman, ghastly face came alive, somehow, in incongruous triumph, not an enemy cornered, but a trap sprung, and in a flash Harry knew, Snape had been right all along, this moment of preparation, of gathering, was going to get him killed, today, was a luxury he hadn’t had this time, and as he saw the exultation growing on Voldemort’s face, he knew it was all about to go horribly wrong.

 

So Harry hurried, in that second, pulled hard on the power, harder than he had ever done, his mind already forming the curse, and just for a moment, Voldemort--flickered.

 

He flickered, just for an instant, as Harry gathered the power, and for that instant, he wasn’t Voldemort at all, but Pettigrew.

 

Pettigrew, not glaring at him in arrogance and power, but terror, raising that horrible silver hand in a vain effort to shield himself from the curse.  A glamour!

 

Harry’s eyes tracked, to the other Pettigrew, beside and half-behind the ornate chair, and Harry knew, he just knew, and as the curse flowed from him, his aim was sure as he pointed his wand past the chair, to where Voldemort was crouching, hiding behind the shield of the chair and the glamour on Pettigrew, his mad eyes riveted to Harry’s with an avid glee, and so Voldemort saw his death coming as the power blasted through him, Avada Kedavra!”

 

Harry had thought he knew this curse.  He knew its hunger, its greed, but he’d never cast it like this before, had never given it all he had, all he was.  It flowed from his wand, a terrible, ravaging thing that seemed alive, somehow, terrifying him beyond thought.  His hand shook, minutely, and in an instant the balance tipped.  Suddenly it was out of control, too much for his wand to contain, unstable, and Harry realized in a flash, it was going to devour him as well.  He was going to die.  He had expected to die, of course, had expected that it would be the price of victory.  But not by his own hand, his own wand, and it doesn’t have to end this way. That was, somehow, Snape’s voice in his head, saying, choose.  And Harry did, reacting to that internal voice faster than thought.  As he felt the balance of the Unforgivable tip inside himself, he pulled back, just a little, just enough to balance the flow of power through him.  Just enough.

 

A shrill, high-pitched scream tore through the room, and for an instant Harry thought it was Voldemort, which was impossible.  Voldemort had been blasted away, green light still flaring into red afterimages on Harry’s eyes, and as he blinked to clear them he realized it was Pettigrew screaming, caught in the backlash, tied to Voldemort by the glamour and more, and screaming out his agony as his silver arm glowed first red and then white with heat, until it and Pettigrew burst somehow from the inside out into flame in an impossibly few seconds, reducing both the remnants of a man and the chair into charred rubble, then ashes, and then, to nothing at all.

 

Stillness came down over Harry like a blanket, it felt smothering, and dimly he realized, I’m still alive.

 

***

 

“He promised.”  And Harry was speaking aloud, though there was no-one to hear except Snape, here somewhere.  His own voice was loud in his ears.  “He promised, you promised,” and he was talking to Snape, now, as he searched the room, stepped over bodies, around piles of rubble (when had the ceiling caved in?) and there.

 

He was on the floor, of course.  Harry’s instant panic was as quickly dampened.  “He always falls when I do it so close to him,” and he was still talking aloud, “Always, always,” as he reached Snape’s body and dropped to his knees.

 

“He’s not moving, and he’s always moving, why aren’t you moving?”  And Harry was on the floor with him, pulling at Snape’s robes, shaking him, turning him, gasping in horror at the sight of Snape’s face, still and slack in the uncertain light.  “You promised!  You promised!” and Harry knew he was shouting, and from across the room, almost in answer to his cry, he heard someone bursting through the rubble in a shower of dust and rocks, and Harry’s wand was up in an instant, the tingle of optare flowing through him, giving him just the second’s pause it was designed for, but Harry wasn’t thinking, he was clutching Snape to him, his left hand tangled in Snape’s robes, his wand hand steady, and Hermione and Tonks stopped dead in the shattered entry, faced with that wand, and Harry’s anguished face.

 

“He’s not breathing!” burst from Harry, “he promised!”  But Hermione and Tonks were both sending optare,” and that got through his panic, and his wand fell.  Then Hermione was coming, and Harry heard her and felt her making her way across the floor as Tonks covered the room, covered the unit with a man down.  It was procedure, but Harry’s attention was back on Snape, and he reached inside himself again, and pulled. 

 

Pulled again on the power, gathered it inside him, and it wasn’t a spell, Harry didn’t have words for a spell, but Hermione was there and she was providing the spell, he realized, her voice chanting Aspirare continuously, sounding a bit out of breath, but sure of herself as she reached them and dropped to touch Snape’s still chest with her wand, and in that instant Harry turned the power, channeled it and pushed it into Hermione, into whatever spell she was casting, without hesitation.  And Harry heard Hermione gasp as the power filled her, flowed through her, out of her and into Snape, but Harry didn’t stop, and then, Snape breathed.

 

He breathed.  With a great, gasping inhalation, he stiffened in Harry’s arms, reaching up to clutch at him in sheer blind panic, disoriented.  But breathing.  Hermione dropped her wand as if it had burned her, but she was smiling, and she was breathing, so Harry tuned her out, tuned out the rest of his unit bursting through the ruined wall, and his voice was pitched for Snape’s ears alone as he pushed his face to Snape’s where he could feel, as well as see, him breathing, “You promised.  You promised.” And Snape relaxed, breathing.

 

***

 

There was a lot of noise soon, people running, shouting, but Harry and Snape just sat together on the floor, in the middle of it all and yet divorced from it, breathing together, alive.  After a little while, when they had both stopped shaking, Harry pushed his face closer, just a little, they were so close already that it didn’t take much, just enough so that he could kiss Snape, softly, on the lips.

 

“You promised,” he murmured, when he’d pulled back a bit, and he smiled right into Snape’s eyes, and Snape look startled, and he was a bit breathless again, which Harry took to be a good sign, this time.

 

“What,” and here Snape had to clear his throat, whether from the dust in the air or the not-breathing thing or the kiss, Harry wasn’t sure.  But he knew what he wished it to be.  “What happened?”

 

And Snape looked confused, but he wasn’t letting go of Harry, which Harry took to be another good thing.

 

“It’s over.  We got him.  And Pettigrew,” and Harry remembered the other Death Eaters in the room, and glanced around at last, a bit surprised by how full the room had gotten.  It looked like most of their unit had arrived, and a few others Harry didn’t know.  He didn’t care.  It was over.

 

“And the others?”

 

Harry shrugged, “They fell when you did, when Voldemort died,” and really, it was going to take some time to learn to say that easily, when Voldemort died.  “I guess they died too.  We only cared about you.”

 

“We?”

 

“You weren’t breathing.  Hermione cast Aspirare; I helped, gave it a push,” and here Harry gave a little swish and flick with his hand, wand still lying beside them on the floor, “and you breathed.”  He looked at Snape, worried, “you never stopped breathing before.  Hospital tent first, I think.”

 

Snape closed his eyes, nodded, looking more exhausted than Harry had ever seen him, like he was finally letting his control go, letting the exhaustion in.

 

“If he saw it coming, Voldemort would have reached through the Dark Mark to all of us, to pull what power and life energy he could, to try and survive the Killing Curse.  I’ve thought it must be why he was Marking as many as he could, even towards the end, because he thought we could be used.  To save him.”

 

And normally Harry would have taken exception to that “us” and that “we,” an old argument between them, but he was feeling too happy for that, joy beginning to seep into him.  It was over.  He knew he was smiling again, and didn’t mind. 

 

“Good thing Hermione came in, then, don’t know what I would have done if you had broken your promise.”

 

And he had meant that to be light-hearted, but it was a mistake, it took the smiles right away, the thought that Snape might have—.  Harry felt a sudden, crushing wave of grief, was stricken with it, a terrible pain in his chest, and his vision went a little fuzzy at the edges, he could see only Snape’s sad, tired face clearly, everything else greyed away, and he lost track of his body, too, could only feel his hand, still clenched in the front of Snape’s robes.  He could have--.

 

“Harry.” 

 

It was the rare use of his first name that shocked Harry back from that grey, terrified place.  Snape was glaring at him, which was so normal that Harry immediately felt the grief lighten a little.

 

“We do not waste time on what might have been,” and that was so normal, too, Snape telling him to stay in the moment, that Harry relaxed again.  He loosened his hand on the front of Snape’s robes, and then pushed it a little, right up against his chest, and felt Snape’s heart beating, with his fingertips.  Strong.  Steady.  They were alive.  Harry sighed, closed his eyes, letting the grief go, letting it unwind from him, letting it flow away.  Alive.

 

“Harry.”  And that was low, almost a whisper, and Harry looked up, startled, and Snape reached up his own hand, and touched Harry’s shoulder, looking uncertain again, just like the night before, hesitant, and Harry didn’t know what to do, what to say, but when the hand gripped his shoulder and pulled, carefully, he let it happen.

 

And Snape kissed him back.  As softly as he’d been kissed, himself.  But this kiss lingered a few moments, warm between them, and when it was over, they both stayed still a little while longer, breathing together, and Harry felt another promise had been made between them.  Or maybe the same promise, family, but deeper now, with a kiss given and returned.  Without another word, he picked up his wand, helped Snape to his feet, smiled over his shoulder at Hermione, and walked with his partner out into the morning after.

 

***

 

Some time later, Snape left the Hospital Tent with a sigh, glancing around himself for Harry.  Harry was always there, always.  He didn’t stay with his partner in the Hospital Tent any more, not since the first time when his presence had so disrupted the Healers as well as the other patients that he’d been asked to wait outside, but he was always outside, waiting.

 

Today he was missing.  He’d disappeared, and it wasn’t until someone pushed a plate of food at him that Snape realized he’d wandered the entire perimeter of the grounds, looking, and ended up at the food table where they’d talked, last night, after Watch.

 

And Snape knew.  Watch.  He had to find that grove of trees again, it was their secret, their special code together as partners, that if ever they were separated, they’d meet each other at their last Watch station.  It was common, Snape assumed all partners had a plan and a way to connect if they were separated during a battle, but this one was difficult, as Camp of course had moved itself, and as the Watch stations flowed and changed with Hermione’s wards.  Snape refused the plate and turned away, closing his eyes.

 

Watch.

 

Watch.

 

There had been a grove of trees, the ones on his right had been larger, thicker trunks, older growth, and so Snape had steered Harry to those, and had taken the outside for himself, the younger trees, with more space between them.  It had smelled dusty, but not rotten, with enough moisture in the air that they’d tested the ground with their hands before sitting. 

 

Trees.

 

Watch.

 

In an instant, he had Apparated.

 

***

 

Snape.  About time you got here.”  And Harry smiled up at him from the ground, looking somehow entirely happy,  sprawled there amongst a pile of carrier bags, and eating from a plate of sandwiches.

 

Snape felt the relief flood though him, weakening his knees, but he controlled himself, as he always did, and slipped gracefully, he hoped, to the ground beside Harry.  Who smiled a smug smile at him and handed him a sandwich.

 

Snape stared at it as if he’d never seen food before.

 

“Eat.  It’s not poisoned, you know,” and Harry was still smiling at him, and taking a swig of what had to be Butterbeer from a bottle.

 

Snape looked more closely at his sandwich. Thinly sliced him, piled high on brown bread, with mustard.  This hadn’t come from Camp.  He glanced back up at Harry, at the bags piled around him.  It didn’t suit his dignity to look surprised, so he didn’t.  He merely began to eat his sandwich. 

 

“You’re been busy.”

 

“That I have.”

 

“You had urgent--shopping?” In utter disbelief.  He’d been in the Hospital Tent and Potter had gone shopping?

 

And Harry laughed, actually laughed aloud, a sound that Snape had not heard in more months than he cared to remember, and he pulled the bags towards himself, and started rooting in them with all the enthusiasm of a child at Christmas.

 

“First I went to Gringott’s.  For the arrangements.  Then I went to Gladrags, for these.” And here he pulled a wad of black cloth out of a bag and pushed it at Snape, who took it, reluctantly.

 

“Then I stopped at the Three Broomsticks for the sandwiches.  They didn’t have ham at Madame Puddifoot’s.”

 

Snape looked down at his half-eaten sandwich, realizing that with one casual conversation he’d likely condemned himself to a lifetime of ham sandwiches.  He took another bite.

 

He looked at the wad of cloth in his other hand, shook it out.  It turned out to be some sort of short pants.  Black, with pink spots.

 

Pink.

 

Spots.

 

Harry continued, “And then I checked the Hospital Tent.  They said you’d been released, so--” and he shrugged, still rooting through his bags, and then gave a grunt of satisfaction as he pulled out a tangled wad of green cloth.

 

“You went shopping.  Then you came here.  You didn’t realize that there might be people over there,” and here he gestured with the ham sandwich, in the approximate direction of the manor house, “who might be a bit anxious for a word from you?”

 

“I’ve done what I came to do.  They can wait.”  And that was said with a nonchalance Snape hadn’t heard before from Harry.

 

 “What are you up to, Potter?”

 

And Harry met his eyes squarely, and said, “A holiday.” 

 

Snape blinked at him.  “A holiday.  And where are you going on this—holiday?”

 

Bermuda.”

 

Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out a ragged, scorched bit of paper, and reached it carefully over to Snape, who took it gingerly and unfolded its worn creases.

 

It had once been an advertisement, Muggle, since nothing in the picture moved.  Snape stared in bemusement at blue sky, a crescent-shaped beach, improbably colored, and blue-green tropical waters.  Attached to a corner of the picture was what was left of a plasticine packet, fused to the paper by its contents, which appeared to be a lump of pinkish glass.

 

“It’s Bermuda,” Harry added, unnecessarily, since the word “Bermuda” was printed across the top of the page.

 

“That bit,” and here he pointed to the pink glass, “that used to be sand.  Pink sand, it says on the bottom that the beaches in Bermuda are pink, from the coral.  It got melted once when I got hit by a curse,” and he smiled again, “I have the burn on my hip to show for it.

 

“Today, when it was over, I wondered what was next, now that we have an after,” and he faltered a bit, and glanced up at Snape, and took the picture gently back from his hands, looking down at the idyllic scene on the paper.

 

“And I thought.  Bermuda.”  And he shrugged, and put the picture back in his pocket, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, to fly thousands of miles in search of a pink beach from an old magazine photograph.  His voice was casual but Snape could see the tension in him as he pointed to the short pants in Snape’s lap, “They’re swimming trunks.”

 

Swimming trunks?  Snape looked at them blankly.  “With pink spots?”

 

“I figured you’d want black.  That was the closest thing they had.”

 

And Snape picked up the swimming trunks, his, he realized.  Harry had picked them out for him.  Wanted him to go on this ridiculous holiday.  He studied his partner carefully, the elaborately casual posture, the tension underneath.  Waiting, Snape realized, to see what he himself would do.  And Snape thought of soft kisses, and the way Harry had stayed with him, just breathing, and knew what was being asked of him.

 

“I will not wear pink spots.”

 

And he reached over, quick as lightening, and traded them for the green ones in Potter’s hands, which felt smaller, lighter, and he held them up, shook them out, and stared.

 

There was a stripe of green fabric, and what looked like a belt structure.  And that was all.

 

Potter was laughing.  Again.  “It’s called a thong.  Thought I’d give it a try.”

 

Potter was planning to wear this-- this thing-- in public.  Snape’s eyes narrowed, and he looked past the ridiculous garment and met Potter’s eyes with all the determination he had left in him, after a busy day.

 

Very quietly, he said, “Not in public.”

 

Potter caught his breath, and now Snape could smirk at him, feeling fully present, at last. 

 

“Breathe, Potter.”  He reached out his hand to get his own swimming trunks back, but Harry had a tight hold on them, and so he reached out his other hand, also, wrapped it around Harry’s elbow, and pulled.  Gently, but relentlessly.  Watching carefully.  To his secret delight, Harry let himself be pulled, never breaking eye contact.

 

“But in private?  I can wear them in private?”

 

Snape knew it was what Harry had wanted him to do, but he couldn’t help it, he pictured Harry in the impossible green thong, a tiny burn on his right hip, from the pink glass, and it would be just there, where his thumb could--. 

 

Snape liked what he saw, in this picture.  Against his will, he felt his mouth curve in a smile. 

 

He saw the flash of triumph in Harry’s eyes, knew what was coming, and so he forestalled it.  By kissing him again, with heat this time.

 

And by now Harry was coming smoothly into his arms, as if they’d practiced it.  He still held on to Snape’s swimming trunks, but the battle had been joined in a new arena, now.  The cloth stayed clutched in his hand, forgotten by them both, as Harry wrapped both arms around Snape’s shoulders and concentrated, instead, on giving as good as he got.

 

***

 

The End