He's so sad. It's probably because of that damn prophecy. And Black's death, of course. He hates me. He has always hated me, but now he hates me even more, blaming me for Black's death.
I don't feel guilty. I did my best to save the bastard. Merlin knows I didn't want him to die. I wanted to see Black licking my boots, that's for sure, but I never wanted him to die. His death robbed me of the pleasure of seeing him humiliated or...
What does it matter, now?
The only thing that matters now is defeating the Dark Lord.
Who am I trying to deceive?
Harry. Potter. Since when does he inhabit my thoughts so insistently? Who has given him the right to do so?
~* ~* ~
Where is he now? No one can find him. I have already inspected the whole castle. I'm going to look for him outside. Sometimes he sits by the lakeside, completely alone and isolated. But not today.
I use Legilimency to find out where he is - it's harder without the eye contact, but I still can sense him. Albus would kill me, if he knew. I find him in a small cave formed by rocks near the lake. I approach him.
He raises his head suddenly, and glares at me with a barely controlled fury.
"What is it? Leave me alone."
I give a deep breath.
"It's getting cold and dark. Go back to the castle."
I glare daggers at him.
"Go to hell, okay?"
All this repressed hate that he directs at me overwhelms me. I fight not to retaliate or to lower my eyes. I sit on the banks of the lake, about ten feet from him, trying to calm myself.
When I turn back, he's already walking away, leaving me alone with my frustration and despair.
~* ~* ~
I find him in the same place. He becomes even more furious when he sees me. He shouts that I am the one responsible for Black's death, and that I want to see him dead too. I shout back at him, saying he is an ungrateful brat, who doesn't acknowledge the efforts of the people who try to protect him. He stands up and leaves me talking to myself. He walks away with quick steps and, probably distracted by his rage, he doesn't see a gap in the ground, and trips.
I run toward him and, as I run, I see him falling.
I come near him. He tries to get up quickly, but he can't stand on his feet, and moans in pain.
"Potter, stay seated. I'm going to help you."
"No. Go away. I don't need your help."
While he tries, in vain, to stand up, probably aggravating his injury, I sit by his side. He faints. I take off his right boot and sock, and touch his skin, feeling his bones and sinews. Fortunately, he hasn't broken anything. I massage his ankle while pronouncing a healing spell.
He opens his eyes again, with a stunned look. He stares at me, surprised.
"It's not broken. It was only a sprain. I have fixed it," I say to him.
He stares at me for a long time. I see no hate in his eyes, only incredulity. I still massage his ankles, even knowing it's not necessary any more.
Finally, he sits on the grass, tests his foot and gets up.
"Oh! It's healed."
I arch one eyebrow, looking at him smugly, as if to say 'did you doubt my skills?'
He puts his sock and boot back on, doesn't thank me, and leaves without looking back.
~* ~* ~
He has disappeared again. This time he's not in the cave. I look at the lake, feeling lost.
"Why don't you leave me alone?"
Startled, I turn to face the owner of this voice that affects me so deeply, and see him by my side. Where did he come from? Anyway, I don't reply.
"What do you want?" he asks me.
You, a voice inside me replies. Suddenly, I'm afraid I might have spoken aloud.
"I want you to find yourself," I answer, surprising myself once again. "You can't live that way, isolated from everything and everyone."
I grab him by his arms, violently.
"Because you need to fight. You can't give up."
"Why would I want to fight? To kill the villain and save the day? Spare me this nonsense and let me go, Snape. And stop coming after me. Why do you bother, if you hate me?"
I don't let him go. My hands slide up his arms, from his elbow to his shoulders, in a slow caress.
"I don't hate you."
Now my hands move over his shoulders and up his neck and chin. I gently cup his face. He stares at me with surprised, even frightened eyes. I run my thumbs over his cheekbones, and don't say anything else. I resist my desire to kiss him and this time it's me who leaves.
~* ~* ~
He's not inside the castle. I walk to the cave, surprised to find myself sure of his presence there. Why does he wait for me there, every single day? If he wants to be alone, if he doesn't want my company, why doesn't he find another refuge? A ray of hope brightens my soul.
This time, he doesn't look at me with hate or surprise, but with... anxiety? Fear? Yes, he seems terrified. I sit by the lakeside, quietly. We stay silent for a few minutes. Suddenly he approaches me and sits by my side.
I look at him, consumed with the desire to touch him, and he stares at me... What is it in his eyes? It's not fear any more. It's a kind of sadness, but not the same as the previous days'. When I come back to earth, I see that I'm stroking his face again, first with my thumbs, then my knuckles. He stares at me with those sad and... eager eyes? I lean in and bring my lips close to his, and slightly touch them - barely brushing them. He sighs, and returns my caress. Then I grab him fiercely and crush my body against his, capturing his lips in a wild and desperate kiss. He clutches me tightly and presses his body against mine too.
"So... this was what you wanted?" he murmurs in my ear.
A cold chill runs down my spine, and I pull back a little to face him.
"If... if you don't want this, say it now. If you're only testing me, or having fun at my expense..."
He shakes his head vehemently.
"No! It's not that." He smiles, and his eyes sparkle in a way I have never seen before. "It's just that... I finally understand your mystery."
He approaches his lips to mine, in a silent invitation. I don't understand why he's still here, now that I have lost my mystery, but I am not so foolish as to refuse his invitation. Perhaps I still have other mysteries in store for him.
Ptyx, October 2004