A Fitting Body
The battle had ended. Voldemort had been defeated, and the battlefield was littered with corpses. The injured people had been taken to St Mungo's; the surviving supporters of Voldemort had been taken to Azkaban. Some of the members of the Order of the Phoenix and its supporters had left to take care of their injured friends; others, to celebrate the victory.
Harry had adamantly refused to leave. He was knelt beside one of the corpses. "Damn you," he mumbled. "How could you leave me like that? It's only been a month since I found out you were one of ours, and a few weeks that... well, you know... Do you have any idea how guilty I feel because I've never told you how I felt about you?"
There was no one to hear Harry's lament. Or rather, there was someone. A small ebony serpent slithered close to Harry and curled around his arm.
Harry held it on his lap. Suddenly, he had a strange intuition. "Do I know you?" he asked in Parseltongue.
"I suppose so, since you seem to be mourning my death."
Harry's heart raced. "B-but... How?"
The serpent sighed. "Your deductive powers are abysmal, Potter."
"Did you make a... Horcrux for yourself?"
"With Dumbledore's death?"
The serpent sighed again. "He asked me to. He told me that, if my intentions were good, my soul would not be damaged."
Harry stared at the serpent in awe, trying to absorb the news. He absently stroked its back with his fingertips, and felt it shuddering in pleasure. "I thought that, if you had a Horcrux and your body was intact, your soul wouldn't leave it."
"That wasn't how it happened. When my body died, my soul left it. It was horrible. An unbearable feeling of emptiness."
"Why didn't you enter your own body again?" asked Harry.
"Because you were here. I was waiting for you to leave. I didn't want to scare you."
"I bet you were spying on me."
"I have to admit I was surprised to see your grief at my death. I didn't expect such a reaction."
"Will you enter your body now?"
"It seems the wisest thing to do," said the serpent. "If you want to leave..."
"No! I'll wait. I want to see if everything turns out okay."
"As a matter of fact, I am not sure I want to go back to that particular body," said the serpent, sounding impatient and looking at Snape's body.
It took more than a few seconds for Harry to understand. "What? But... You mean..."
"Why not choose a fitter body?" asked Snape.
Harry shook his head. "Oh, no! Can't you see that it wouldn't be you?"
"You and your friends call me 'ugly git' and other unflattering epithets. Don't think that I don't hear you."
"Yeah, but... Look, I've been watching you: the way you duel, the way you move. You're so skilful, so deft. You've been training for years. Your body does exactly what you need it to do and does it perfectly well."
The snake arched an imaginary eyebrow, and Harry realised he had betrayed himself by describing Snape's physical attributes so enthusiastically.
"Well, well," hissed he serpent. "I should die more often, just to hear you speak of my body with such high admiration!"
The little snake's body went limp for a moment, and Snape's body stirred. Very slowly, Snape opened his eyes and sat up on the ground beside Harry. The serpent slithered away, looking frightened.
Snape's eyes met Harry's. "Are you satisfied now?"
Harry nodded. Snape stood up, and Harry did the same. Harry touched Snape's chest with his palm, pretending to be feeling his heart. Then, to Harry's delight, Snape wrapped an arm around his waist. Harry held him as if he would never let him go, and Snape buried his face in the curve of Harry's neck.
"I thought I had lost you forever," said Harry, finally giving expression to the deep emotion he had experienced.
Snape lifted a hand to Harry's cheek, his thumb stroking gently. Harry sighed into the touch. Their lips touched. Harry made a small sound of approval in the back of his throat. Snape's lips were soft and warm as they moved against his. Harry slid his tongue into Snape's mouth and then it was Snape who moaned, opening his mouth wider, allowing Harry to explore it. Their bodies melted perfectly together.
The kiss ended with the slow parting of lips, and Snape brushed a finger across Harry's mouth.
"Harry," Snape whispered. "You are so young... Do you really like this old body?"
"I do. But maybe I should try it a bit more and then decide," said Harry with a mischievous smile, and grabbed Snape for another kiss.
Ptyx, November 2006