By Avellina Balestri
Word Count: 29645
Summary: Harry and Snape spend Christmas together and come to understand one another a little better
“Amidst the debris and dead insect population, Harry discovered a high pile of assorted bins and boxes he was expected to sort through. But as soon as he touched this little brother of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the whole structure gave up the ghost and collapsed in a heap. He groaned as he snatched up the smallest item first, which happened to be a shoebox from the 1960’s.
“Great,” Harry mumbled to himself. “Please don’t tell me I’ve just rediscovered his first pair of shoes or something…””
“Snape exhaled. “I…I didn’t bring you here to analyze the locale. I just…wanted to tell you that your mother would come here often. In the winter, she used to hang ribbons and food for the animals on this tree.” He stared at it intently, then glared back at the town below. “She was the only thing to come out of this place that wasn’t beyond salvation.”
Harry moved closer to the tree, and very gingerly ran his hand along the bark, almost as if it were some sort of relic. “So she was the spirit who cared for the deer?”
Snape winced a little, then nodded. “They were her favorite of all the animals.” His eyes drifted to the ground. “I remember once…one doe ate oats right out of her hand, not afraid of her at all. They knew her and they trusted her. She lent them a touch of kindness in a cruel world.””
“Problem noted,” Snape huffed. “Now where is this degenerate aerial located?”
“On the rooftop,” she answered.
“Rooftop?!” Snape exclaimed. “Madam, this is becoming exceedingly precarious…”
“There’s a ladder in the lean-to garage…oh, do hurry!”
” “Now don’t be so hard on Harry, Sev,” she would lecture him, starting to randomly pick the bits of lint off his cloak with a motherly hand, and brush it out straight. “You need some curtains to brighten this place up; it’s turning you into a cranky old man ahead of your years. There are some lovely calico ones I can bring…”
Damn. Damn. He could have lived with that. Being this boy’s snarky surrogate uncle, with his mother still acting like some sort of surrogate sister to him, he might have even managed to force himself to maintain a bare minimum of civility around James. And she would doubtlessly have teased him about needing to get out and meet some nice girls, maybe she would even have tried to set him up on dates…but he would have staunchly shaken his head, and they both would have tacitly known what that meant. If he could not have had her in that way, he would not have had anyone in that way. But even having lost the moon of romance, he still would have been able to cling to the stars of their friendship.”
“Bolting into the shed, Harry was dumbfounded by the sight of Snape sprawled on the floor tangled up in a spread of barb wire, swearing violently as the bully children from the woods were cackling and holding Angelfang upside by the tail. One of them had a cigarette lighter and another one a pocket knife.
Harry seriously didn’t know what he was doing, nor the consequences that would be sure to ensue, but he found himself resolutely walking up to the one holding Angelfang…and calmly punching him right in the nose.”
“Snape gazed down at his hands. “So you chose the dirt poor Weasleys and that uppity muggleborn Granger over one of the most distinguished families in the Wizarding World?”
“In a heartbeat.”
His teacher shifted uncomfortably. “Mr. Malfoy offered you a very useful chance for advancement, glory, power; he would have been…”
“He wouldn’t have been any real friend,” Harry retorted. “He only wanted to use me.””
“And in that instant, Harry recognized a side of his teacher he had never acknowledged before. He was brave. Not like a Gryffindor, full of grand gestures and reckless pluck, but boiled down to bare bones bravery, the kind that has a job to do, even an unpleasant one, and does it with an unsung dignity. A kind that recognizes duty to others, even if he holds little affection for them; that uses rationality, and yet still is willing to pay the price without receiving thanks or recompense. Because it’s part of the job, the everyday grind of living, the grind of being too human to turn away. And in the end, perhaps, that was the sort of bravery that made the world turn round.”
““The snow it melts the soonest when the winds begin to sing, and the bee that flew when summer shone in winter cannot sting, and all the flowers in all the land, so brightly there they be, and the snow it melts the soonest when my true love’s for me…””