Title: I Am Stuck With You
Beta-read: pekeleke, suitesamba
Word Count: 4700
Disclaimer: Don´t own characters. No money for it.
A/N: This idea came to me after reading So Lonely Without Me by Caligryphy which was translated into Czech in spring 2013. I like the tale very much.
Summary: After the final battle Severus and Harry ended up somewhere where they shouldn´t be... //A performance for only two actors.
I would like to thank two wonderful ladies here: pekeleke and suitesamba. I think I can´t even imagine how difficult can be to do beta-reading for foreign writer, but I am grateful that they had so much courage and patience to do it for me. Thank you! You make this tale better that I could dream...
I Am Stuck With You
Harry woke up lying on a cold stone floor. He tried to sit up and look around, but he was weak and confused and his glasses were missing. He opened his eyes wide, but he didn´t like what he saw. Not at all. And besides, his whole body was in pain. His muscles weren´t listening, they didn´t want to move. His breathing started to accelerate and he panicked. The place was dark, unkind and horribly similar to one from his dreams or visions or something.
All he remembered was the party at the Ministry of Magic where he´d been invited along with other guests after the Final Battle. There were only a few people at the event - the most important guests for the government. And the newly re-instated minister himself, of course - Fudge had managed to get his job back. Harry hadn´t agreed with the Wizengamot´s decision, but who would listen to a seventeen-year-old child? Yeah, he was a hero, like many others, but he was still only a powerful child in the eyes of the Wizarding world. No one needed him any more now that he’d defeated Voldemort. There were no more dark wizards on the horizon. No more predetermined quests awaited the Boy-Who-Lived.
So he´d been there. With Shacklebolt and Moody and Fudge and Skeeter and… Snape. None of his friends had been invited, none of the other members of the Order, not even McGonagall and Dumbledore, who were both still recuperating in hospital from their severe injuries while Harry fervently prayed for their survival.
It had been an official party, complete with its stiff atmosphere, political pretence and role-playing. Only Snape had behaved like... well… himself. He´d been lurking in the corner, dressed in his usual plain black robes. He seemed unfriendly and reluctant and grumpy. In other words - altogether normal. As if he was the only island of normalcy in an otherwise strange world.
Then they had all raised their glasses in a toast and… that´s all Harry could recall.
He blinked once, twice… trying to calm himself. The world around him stilled but the darkness remained. Harry forced his body to move and - after the longest ten minutes of his life – managed to sit up, leaning against the rough wall of a room that looked exactly like a cell. He was wearing some sort of dirty second-hand black long-sleeved t-shirt and a pair of trousers. He had no smalls on, only an undershirt. His entire body was shivering. Everything looked blurry without his glasses.
Harry was terrified.
He swallowed then cleared his throat. Nothing happened. He hadn´t made a sound. Harry was more or less certain - only because he could feel a touch of a soft breeze - that there was an open window somewhere near. He didn´t know what time it was or what day. He glanced up but the window only revealed that it had to be night. It was placed too high and far away for him to see the stars or the moon or anything else.
Harry sighed and tried to use his voice again.
„Hello? Where am I? Is there anyone else here?“
Nothing. His voice echoed against the stone wall of the cell and Harry rubbed his eyes tiredly, trying it once more, louder this time.
“Hello? Can anybody hear me?“
“Shut up, Potter. Are you mad? Nobody wants to listen to that racket!“
“Snape?! Is that you? Where are you? I can´t see you.“
“Of course not, you pinhead. I am on the other side of the wall between us.“
“But… Where are we? And why? I don’t understand…“
Harry moved closer to the wall so he could hear Snape’s voice better.
“I should have suspected something like this… I should have,“ Snape repeated to himself. “There were so many clues…“
“Suspected what? What clues? Where are we, Snape?“
“We are in prison, Potter…“
Harry shivered and tried to examine his surroundings. “This is... Azkaban?“ he asked in a small voice.
“No, there are other prisons, Potter.“ Some are even worse than Azkaban, he thought, but didn´t say it aloud.
“But why, Snape?“ Potter asked, sounding almost on the verge of tears. “Why are we here? Is anyone else here?“
“I don´t know, Potter, I can only guess…“
“Just tell me!“ the young man shouted angrily. “Tell me what you know, you bastard!“
Snape sighed. “No, there are no others. Only us.“
“But why us?“
“Because they are afraid of us…“
“Everyone. The entire Ministry and the minister himself.“
There was a moment of silence and then: “But…“
“There are no buts, Potter, no damn buts! They are afraid of our power because we defeated the Dark Lord, and they think we could take their places in the Wizarding world!“ Snape was breathing as fast as if he´d just run a marathon and he was pale as a sheet, paler even than normal. But Potter couldn´t see that. Not without his glasses and definitely not through the wall.
“Snape? They must know that we would never want to…“
“Fear changes human beings, Potter. You, of all people, should know that…“ His voice sounded tired and so very old.
Harry swallowed past the lump in his throat. “So, they´ve sent us to prison? Hidden us away? But the public…“
“The public won´t suspect anything. Why should they? The minister only needs to say that we are seriously ill. That will suffice. At first everyone will be worried but then as time passes, they will forget about us.“
“No! Our friends will…“ Potter protested.
“Your friends, Potter. Your friends. My only… friend, if you can call him that, is currently lying on his deathbed, and who knows what they´ve done to him…“
“Dumbledore is a hero. He’s the strongest wizard in the…“
“As are we, don´t you remember? Does it look to you like we’re in Buckingham palace, you imbecile?“
“I´m only trying to help!“
“It´s not working! I’d have thought you would know that much at least, after seven years in my class…“
“Why are you doing that?“
“Why are you picking on me… even now?“
“…In plain terms – this is me. I can´t behave otherwise.“
“Fine. Don´t change. Everyone needs his rock.“
“Potter, you are hallucinating. I am your rock?“
“Yeah. I think so.“
“Oh, too many questions for one day, don´t you think?“ Harry sighed. “Whenever I turned around, you were always there. Through thick and thin. Always… And this whole situation proves it all the more.“
“Potter, I think you´ve gone insane.“
Potter shrugged. “Who hasn´t?“
“So eat your foot.“
“Very funny. Aren´t you hungry?“
“Complaining about it won't help…“
A bowl of porridge appeared in front of Harry. “…Oh, I think it will. Try it!“ he said as exited as a child who had just gotten his first toy.
Snape sighed silently. “I´m hungry as a horse…“
“I´ve got porridge. Do you have the same?“
“Yes,“ Snape answered reluctantly.
“It doesn´t look too bad,“ Potter told him.
“Maybe not for your sweet tooth!“ Snape cut him off.
“How long do you think they´ll hold us here?“
“I don´t know…“ Until we´re dead, but he couldn´t say that aloud. Potter would be upset and he wouldn´t be able to sleep. And Snape needed some sleep.
“Snape? Don´t be mad at me, please, but… If I had to be stuck with someone, I’m glad it’s you.“
Great, after hearing that, falling sleep is going to be absolutely impossible.
“Potter, could you use your wand?“
“I haven´t got mine.“
“And your magic?“
“Gone or unreachable. Yours?“
“So... either they´ve put up some kind of magic dampening shield or our magic is…“ His throat suddenly constricted as if crushed by a vice.
“No, there is some kind of shield. I can feel it.“
“Good.“ Harry breathed a sigh of relief.
“Is the shield over our cells or directly over ourselves? I mean – how does it work?“
“It doesn´t let us use our own magic to either apparate away or cast spells but it allows the food and drink to appear as soon as we wish for it, so it´s either one-sided or the walls are behaving like a barrier.“
“Could we do wandless magic behind them?“
“I don´t know, Potter. Perhaps.“
“Great, we just have to destroy the walls and we´ll be free.“
“And how do you propose doing that? With your fists? You are being ridiculous, Potter…“
“Well then come up with something yourself, then. You’re the brilliant one here, not me!“
“There is nothing we can do. We are stuck here…“
“You of all people are saying that to me. YOU, the spy, the double agent, the wizard who outsmarted Voldemort, are telling me that you’re giving up? Who are you and what have you done with the real Snape?“
“You don´t know the real me, Potter. I´ve always been a stranger to you. But I am not planning to give up.“
“Fine. So think, Professor, think! It´s all up to you.“
“I´m cold, Snape…“
“Try the same spell you used for the food.“
“It doesn´t work, I´ve already tried… But I´m really cold.“
“And what do you expect me to do about it?“
“I don´t know, say that you’re cold too?“
“I am not interested in sharing my every discomfort with you, Potter!“
“Why not? There’s no one else here.“
“That doesn´t change anything. In case you haven´t noticed, I am not the kind of person who enjoys sharing... things. Especially not my feelings.“
“Except with my mother…“
“So, you are planning to use that against me now, Potter?!“ Snape challenged him, voice low and dangerous.
“No! No, I didn´t mean it like that. I´m glad you had her…“
“But I didn´t, Potter! That´s how you came to be. Because I never had her!!!“
Silence... there was a long, long silence on the other side of wall. And then…
“I´m sorry, Potter. I shouldn´t have said that…“
“Did you ever want children?“
Snape sighed. “Potter, I never got the chance.“
“So... you wanted them?“
“Perhaps. It doesn´t matter anymore, Potter.“
“It does, Sir. It always does…“
“Let´s play a game…!“
“Oh, great idea, Potter! And the absence of a cabinet full of board games hasn´t registred with your atrophied brain?“
“Come on, Snape, let´s try. It´ll be fun. What about a game of Associations?“
“What is that drivel about?“
“I´ll say a word and you have to respond with the first word that comes to your mind. It´s funny how people can go from… I don´t know… ice cream to volcanic eruption.“
“That sort of stupidity doesn´t surprise me at all.“
“Don´t be such a bastard. Let´s try. Please, Snape. I won´t bother you any more today after this.“
“Today and tonight, Potter.“
“Fine – agreed!“ He was bubbling over with enthusiasm.
“Great, so what about… CAR,“ Potter said.
“ANIMALS IN CAGES.“
“TOO MANY PEOPLE,“ Snape added.
“That´s more than one word!” Potter cried out.
The man growled. “I am changing the rules. You insisted on this annoying game.”
“Fine!” Harry snapped. “SCHOOL.“
“PLEASURE FROM GRADING. You were right, Potter. This is fun.“
Harry frowned. “RED INK.“
“MY FAVOURITE COLOUR.“
“THE ONLY ONE, WHO… Fine, Potter, enough. I want to sleep.“
After that the only sound in the cells was their breathing. Harry knew that Snape wasn´t sleeping and Snape knew that Harry knew it.
“Potter,“ Snape stated after a quite long time.
“Thank you for the game. Now go to sleep.“
Harry woke up with a shiver. He was shaking, clenching his teeth to stop them from rattling. Sweat was beading on his forehead and he felt ill, like he was walking through fire and ice at the same time.
He closed his eyes and tried to calm himself. He didn´t want to wake Snape on the other side of the wall. He’d promised not to disturb him and he would keep his word. ‘Til morning. But he felt so nauseous, so sick, so… alone. If only he could touch somebody…
“Potter, are you all right?“ The question echoed between the walls.
Harry swallowed hard. “No,“ he answered in a hoarse voice.
“What does that mean?“
“I think I caught a cold.“
“Damn it, Potter,“ Snape cursed under his breath. „You must drink and eat something. Do you have a blanket over there?“
“Cover yourself with it. Properly. You have to keep yourself warm.“
“Yeah, that crossed my mind, thanks.“
“Do you have fever, Potter?“
“I´m not sure. Maybe.“
“Keep drinking, do you understand? Drink as much as you can but only sip by sip. The water is cold and there's no need to make you even colder. Be careful.“
Harry was lying on the floor, his head near the slit in the wall through which he could hear Snape´s voice more clearly. He tried to stay awake and drink as Snape told him.
“Snape, if I die here…“
“Shut up, Potter, and drink. How are you feeling?“
“Don´t try to get up.“
“I´m not trying. I´m not so stupid to try doing something I can´t manage…“
“Your entire life is full of such stupidity, Potter,“ Snape reminded him softly.
“Yeah, true. But maybe I´ve matured?“
“I seriously doubt it. You are ill. It is different.“
“So maybe I needed to catch a cold to became an adult.“
“Nonsense. Get some rest. You will be fine in the morning.“
“You don´t believe it yourself, Snape.“
“Yes, I do believe it, Potter. Now go to sleep.“
“You´re lying…“ But then the boy fell into restless sleep.
Snape was watching him through the slit in the wall. Potter’s skinny body was shivering under that threadbare cover.
Snape knew that he had to do something. But what could he do? And how? He tentatively took in hand one of the loose stones lying around on the floor of his cell and hit the wall with it. Nothing happened, despite the deafening noise it made. Potter was still sleeping like a baby. A very sick baby. Snape hoped that he wasn´t unconscious but it wouldn´t surprise him if he was. All the stress, the fatigue and illness… He marvelled that Potter had been able to stand it so long.
He struck the wall once again, and then again and again. Because Albus had once told him:When someone tries often enough, anything can happen... So he tried… and tried... but nothing happened.
Later, Potter opened his green eyes. They were so tired and dull. He looked around, clearly confused. „Snape, what are you doing…?“ he whispered and Severus stopped hitting the wall, mesmerized by his gaze.
Harry lifted his hand and touched the gap. And suddenly a bit of rock fell apart and the hole was bigger than before. They could see each other’s face.
„How did you…“ Snape tried to ask but the words died on his lips. Harry smiled at him faintly, then lowered his hand and fell asleep again. Snape sat there, looking at him through the gap, totally speechless…
„Harry, here... Drink this, please,“ the quiet but urgent voice said. It was a voice that he knew. He could recognize it among thousands of others. But he didn´t want to drink; he wanted to sleep in peace, sleep and nothing else. ´Let me be. Don´t touch me. Why are you doing that? It´s cold, I don´t want to drink this cold water.´
Someone was using his fingers to caress his hair, holding his head and forcing him to gulp that awful liquid. Someone gentle, someone who shouldn´t be here because they were both in…
“Snape?“ he tried to speak.
“How… how is this possible?“
“Animagus form. I used my animagus form to get through the slit in the wall.“
“What is it? Your animagus form?“
“I thought so.“
“Potter, drink. I´ve been trying to keep you warm but I must return to my cell or they will find out I´ve been out and come to check up on us. And then we might never get another chance to escape.“
“I don´t know.“
“So what did you use to deceive them?“
“Urine... Since it has my DNA, the magical barrier believes I am still in my cell.“
Potter laughed. “Well done. How long does it work?“
“I don´t know. Maybe ten minutes, maybe less. I have to go…“
Harry caught his hand with his cold fingers. “Snape?“
“Thanks. I´ll be alright, I promise.“ Those green eyes looked so certain…
“I hope so. Because who would force me to play those stupid childish games otherwise?“
“Yeah, next time we can try to play chess.“
“As you wish.“
And then he was gone.
Harry nestled into the blankets and, remembering Snape’s instructions, tried not to die.
“Queen to G4.“
“No, Potter, you can´t make that move, because your pawn is already on that square.“
“Oh, pardon me for not being a genius like you. My mind isn’t as strategic as yours, and I’m not fully recovered yet.“
“A cold. It was only a cold.“
“Yes, but people can die from a cold.“
“Some people can, but not the Boy-Who-Lived. He will be here forever as a punishment to all the teachers in the world.“
“You’re right as always, Professor.“
“Interesting that you needed to be imprisoned to realize that. And I am not your professor any longer.“
“So... what are you, then?“
“A former professor…“
“Great. And would you like me to call you that? Former Professor Snape?“
“Potter, you´ve never followed any rules, so why would I expect you to show me some kind of respect now?.“
“I can show you as much respect as you want. What would you like me to call you? Snape? Former Professor? Sir? God?“
“Severus would suffice…“
“As you please, Severus. I´m Harry, just Harry. It´s nice to meet you.“
One finger met the other through the wall in what passed for a hug.
“Ugh, this is disgusting,“ Potter complained during his meal.
“It´s edible, Potter, be grateful for that.“
“It´s Harry. And I can´t help it if it´s utterly disgusting…“
“You said that already. You keep repeating yourself and it changes nothing at all. You're only going to make me lose my appetite.“
“But… How can you eat it?“
“Try to imagine that it´s lamb…“
“I´d love to see the sky…“
“You can, Potter.“
“…lie on the grass, listen to the fresh wind rush by as it plays with my hair…“
“Are you all right? Are you getting sick again?“
“No, you git, I´m just trying not to go mad.“
“Oh, nice try,“ Snape laughed.
“You have a better idea?“
“No, go on…“
Harry tilted his head to side. “What is the date today?“
“It's July 28th.“
Harry stood up abruptly and stared in surprise. “How could you know that so exactly?“
“I am a methodical man. This is how I keep hold of my sanity.“
“Great! Could you teach me?“
“You are a lost cause, Harry…“
“Where were you born?“
“Personal questions, Potter?“
“Yeah, you know everything about me, but I know almost nothing about you. And I´m curious by nature so... where were you born?“
Snape sighed. “My mother was a witch, my father was a muggle. We lived in a town near your mother´s home where I met her and her… sister. Our family wasn´t very happy. My father couldn´t cope with the idea of magic and my mother… she was in love and weak and I was left to adjust to the differences between them all by myself. Father hated me because of my magical ability, mother tried to act like a Muggle but she couldn´t manage it. By the end he was drunk all the time and she was sad, depressed and alone. I was glad to go off to school when I was eleven.“
Potter was quiet for long time after that. Snape was quiet too; they were quiet together... and then Potter said: “I´m sorry…“
“I don´t know. Children should be happy…“
“You are very naive, Harry.“
“Yeah, I know. I know…“
They were lost in their own thoughts that night. They thought about everything, about nothing. Just for the sake of thinking itself and knowing that they were not alone while doing it…
Severus was telling him about Lily and their joint adventures around the nearby neighbourhoods. Harry was laughing – with the kind of cheerful boyish laughter that cheers the heart. Severus could feel it and he tried to speak vividly, going into great detail.
Lily was… she was amazing. He could recall every moment spent in her company. Her smile. Her eyes. The playful spark in her gaze… Harry is very much like her, just so much more grown-up because of what he went through. He'd had the kind of life that he shouldn't have had to live… He deserved more. Much more.
Someone who could understand him and help him conquer his fears, his nightmares, someone who could love him and only him, not some kind of icon, not his name or his heroic image or that lightening-bolt shaped scar…
He deserved someone worthy of him.
Harry smiled at Snape through the wall. „I can imagine it. It´s like the movie I saw once in the cinema when I was a kid. The children in the film were trying to find their dogs and the dogs were trying to find them. They were looking for each other over half the country. It was great.“
„Only once, Harry?“ Snape asked curiously. “Do you mean to tell me that you were in the cinema only once? There were cinemas everywhere when I was younger.“
Harry suddenly became sad. „I couldn´t even watch the telly at the Dursley´s.“
„Harry… why couldn´t you watch it?“
The younger man frowned and tilted his head down. „They treated me like a house elf. I had no rights. They didn't allow me to have fun or money, and occasionally they didn't even allow me to have food… “
There was a long silence. Severus didn´t respond - he was simply looking out into space. Maybe he´d fallen asleep.
„Let´s sing something!“ Harry was evil, Severus was certain of it.
„Oh, no, Potter. Absolutely not!“ he protested.
„Oh, yeah, Severus, let´s try. I know you have a nice voice when you try…“
„No, Potter, and that’s final!“
„Well what if we could escape from here just by singing? That would be great! We’d be free and I could go to the beach and lay in the sun all day long!“
„Oh, really?” Severus raised an eyebrow. “You´ll get skin cancer if you do that…“
„Come on. Just try it, please…!“
Puppy eyes. Emerald puppy eyes... Who could resist? Severus sighed. „Damn you, Potter, pick a song and maybe, MAYBE I´ll join you.“
Harry started thinking and when Harry decided to think anything could happen in the world.
„There is a gar-den,“ Potter started, „what a gar-den. Oh, come on, Severus, you know this song, everyone knows the Beer Barrel Polka…“
„Only happy pla-ces bloom there…“
Snape had no choice. He could either join in or kill Harry. He chose the former. All those years of teaching would go to waste if he killed Potter by himself.
„And there is never a-ny room there…“
„For a wo-rry or a gloom there…“
„The Magical community is crazy if they think they can simply lock us up here and leave us at the mercy of… what? Time? Age? Illness? I can´t understand it, Snape...“
„Harry, there is nothing to understand. We were fools, we were tricked, drugged and relocated here. Our names were erased from the records of people who are alive. We are lost and forgotten.“
„So what can we do?“
„What? The same thing we´ve been doing all our lives… In a word - fight.“
„Your word is law here, sir. Tell me what to do.“
„Take my hand,“ Snape answered.
„Severus?“ Harry was confused. He was only teasing; he hadn't expecting Severus to do anything.
„Trust me. Take my hand.“ Severus´ voice was very serious.
Potter was looking at him, searching his face for something. Something that he might find. He gulped and then took his hand firmly.
Harry felt as if he'd fallen inside a tornado. His head was whirling, his stomach tried to turn upside down. But then everything became still and he had to close his eyes against the intense sunshine. The man beside him fell down, breathing way too fast.
Harry knelt beside Snape in the sand, squinting into his face. „What was that, Severus? How did you do that?“
The older wizard closed his eyes and turned away. „I felt the shields fluctuating from time to time. So I attempted....“
„But why didn´t you tell me? I could have helped you.“
„You said that it was up to me, remember? And besides - I didn’t want to give you false hope in case I was not successful. I´m not… Oh…“ Snape´s eyes closed and he stilled.
Harry was scared. „Severus? What’s wrong? Bloody hell, why didn´t you say something, you stubborn man…“
They were on some kind of island, one of them was unconscious while the other sat beside him, trying to recall everything that he ever learned about wandless healing magic. But there was only one treatement for magical exhaustion – time.
When Severus finally woke up, he felt better than ever. He glanced around and his eyes fell on the young man sitting beside his bed. They were in the cottage. „You found it…“
„Yeah. What is this place?“
„Dumbledore´s old hiding place. It´s protected by his magic so…“
„Oh. I get it, Dumbledore is alive. He’ll find us soon.“
Severus hesitated. „Would you like to return? To our world? Fight for your right to live in the wizarding community?“
„After everything they´ve done to us? Never… If I have to, I´d rather go to the Muggle world, somewhere far, far away from England. Somewhere… like this island…“
„You don´t want to get revenge on them?“
Harry spread his arms. „Look at me. I´m eighteen-years-old and I´ve been fighting all my life. I don´t crave it any more. Never. I just want to live my life with somebody who…“ He turned away and looked out the window. Sunlight glowed on his face. He looked so young and so old at the same time…
„So stay, if you want… You could stay here, with me. I could teach you how to keep track of the time,“ Severus said quietly.
Harry opened his mouth to speak but then shook his head and folded himself into Severus´ embrace. The older wizard wrapped his arms around him and didn´t let go. There is a time to stop fighting and simply live. And life as one half of a couple has many advantages.
For example – oh, I know what you’re thinking, you curious readers, I´m thinking about it too – there are hugs, so tight that that you could cut the other person in half, and kisses that can be gentle and warm and passionate and possessive, and the kind of lovemaking you´ll never forget. Because whatever else might be lost, even the most intimate kind of memories, the feeling of both loving and being loved in return is eternal.
And I think Harry and Severus know that too.