|starduchess (starduchess) wrote,|
@ 2017-01-29 19:32:00
|Entry tags:||christmas16, fic, snape/harry|
Fic: I'll Have a Blue Family Christmas Without You
Title: I'll Have a Blue Family Christmas Without You
Word count: ~4120
Content/Warning(s): angst, established relationship, EWE (but NO infidelity)
Summary: Every year, Harry asks Severus to come to Christmas dinner at the Burrow with him. Every year, Severus declines. One year, Harry comes home early to a very unpleasant surprise. (NOT infidelity)
A/N: Written for snape_potter Secret Snarry Swap 2016. Thanks to the mods for their patience and thanks to my beta for the quick once-over. Dear prompter, I hope this meets with your approval. I hadn't planned on the middle part getting quite so angsty, but I drew from a period in my own history when there was a moment of emotional betrayal with my future husband. We worked through it, and so do Snape and Harry, so all's well that ends well. I hope every one of our Snarry readers has a happy holiday season. Title modified from the song "Blue Christmas" by Elvis Presley.
"Look out, Harry!" said Ron from one floor up as young Victoire shrieked around the landing next to him. Harry deftly moved a step away and charmed a red and green bow into her hair as she passed.
The Burrow was bursting at the seams with young and old in residence, and Harry sometimes wondered how the building, even with magic, remained standing. Kids were racing down bannisters and hanging decorations out of windows, parents were running up the stairs in pursuit of lost fairies, and in the middle stood a grinning Arthur and Molly. Life was exuberant and the place was warm and welcoming, but Harry still felt like an outsider, even though he'd been coming to Christmas dinner for almost ten years now.
"You alright, dear?" Molly asked him from the sitting room's doorway while hanging the live tinsel above her head. "If you don't mind, add some bows onto everyone's doors."
Harry leant over the balustrade and said, "Sure, I'll do that." He didn't mind having a chore to do. It made him feel included and helped him not think about his predicament. He spent twenty minutes putting up festive bows while weaving in and out of various family members, all of whom said hello with a smile and a wave and then promptly went elsewhere. Harry chuckled a little at the chaos.
He was putting the last bow on the attic door, wondering if the ghoul enjoyed all this Christmas noise, when Ron sought him out.
"No Snape again, mate?" Ron always had very little tact, but Harry knew he meant well.
"Nope, it's the same as every year. 'I had nearly two decades dealing with the Weasley shenanigans. I'll not subject myself again.' He wishes me to have a good time, though." Harry shrugged, both sadness and resignation infusing his demeanor.
Ron patted him on the shoulder. "I know how much you wish he was here, but honestly, Harry, he would sulk in a corner the entire time, glaring and muttering at all of us. Be right the mood killer, that one." For all his emotional faults, Ron had at least come to accept that Snape wasn't a horrible git and that he was generally good for Harry, but it was this one holiday that Snape refused an invitation to every year that put him back on Ron's disgruntled list. He saw Harry's hurt over it, but he'd long accepted that this was one of those relationship things that had to be fixed by the inside participants, not an outsider. All he could do was offer support ... and distractions. "Charlie caught all the fairies. Want to go hang them on the tree?"
Harry allowed himself to take the bait and improve his mood. "Sure. Why not?" He gave Ron a small smile to say he was fine and not to worry about him.
Ron led the way back to the sitting room, where four young kids were trying to grab baubles off the bottom of the tree while the adults were tripping over icicles, paper chain strings, and each other to finish the decorations. Harry happily accepted some of the fairies used for lights and placed them on the tree.
Things went well with the family for a while after that, until a loud clash, followed by another crash, indistinct yelling, and then glass shattering sounded from the kitchen. "Mum!" Ron said as he and his dad and Harry rushed to find out what happened.
"Fire! Someone put it out!"
"No, the goose will be ruined!"
Harry watched as a flood of water hit the oven, drenching the bird.
"Cough! Cough! The smoke's already contaminated the dressing!"
"And the Christmas pudding's all filled with glass shards."
Hermione spelled the glass serving tray back together, but it didn't help the food mess all over the cupboards and floor.
"Mollywobbles, are you okay?" Arthur asked, concerned for his wife.
Her face crumpled into tears, but she managed to nod her head that she was physically okay. "Oh, but my poor dinner," she wailed. Arthur stepped up to her up, enveloping her in a hug.
"What happened in here?" said George from behind them all. "I thought you were helping, Percy."
"I was." Percy picked himself up off the floor, covered in burnt stuffing, half waterlogged, and looking a bit peevish. "We were moving items around, and I thought Mum was going one way when she was really going the other. We collided and I fell over the bird."
"That then … tipped the … grease pan … over the … flames," sobbed Molly.
"And in my haste to get out of the flames, I knocked the pudding over. I'm so sorry."
"Can anything be salvaged?" asked Hermione.
Everyone looked around the kitchen. The turnips, brussels sprouts, and bread were still sitting on the side board waiting to be served, but it seemed that the main course and dessert were done for. "No, not the chocolate cake!" Ron whinged as it hit him, the carnage he was seeing.
"'Fraid so," Arthur agreed. "What options do we have for dinner, then?"
The other adult members of the family all crowded around the scene. Some wished to order food from the Muggle establishments that boasted of ready-to-pick-up holiday meals. Some wanted to start preparing another, smaller meal, using some chickens or something. Some wished to leave for a restaurant.
Finally, Fleur spoke up. "Why don't I contact my family? Papa has a permanent, international floo connection to Shell Cottage. I'm sure the family house-elves can cook us something and send it through the floo. We don't have enough living space for sleeping, but ze dining room is big enough for dinner."
"That sounds like the best idea," said Arthur. "Check with your folks and see what they agree to. Everyone else, let's clean this up and finish decorating the tree."
Fleur nodded and rushed to the floo. The others moved to either straighten the kitchen or return to the sitting room. Harry looked around in dismay at the ruined meal and the prospect of moving venues and felt lost. He looked forward to this meal every year, getting a chance to spend quality time with his adoptive family, even without his lover next to him, but this time it was all starting to fall flat.
He caught Ron's arm before his best friend could head on back to join his family. "Uhm, Ron, look. If you all go to Fleur's, that's going to be really crowded, and Shell Cottage doesn't have the best memories for me. I'm feeling out-of-sorts anyway, so maybe I'll skive off for once." He gave a sad, disappointed look, but his eyes pleaded for Ron to understand.
"Gonna go spend it with Snape, then?" Ron glanced around at the mess still being picked up. "Don't blame you, mate. Alright, then. I'll give everyone your regrets." He patted Harry on the shoulder.
"Yeah, that'd be great. Thanks." Harry felt relieved that he wasn't going to have to put up with the Weasley nonsense of transporting the whole family elsewhere -- for once he agreed with his partner concerning the great Weasley chaos -- but he did feel a tad guilty for not following them to the new location.
Knowing that the floo was occupied, Harry simply walked out the back door and down past the anti-apparition boundary around the Burrow. With a sigh, but also with a small hope of cheer in his chest, he disapparated home.
Harry landed outside of the wards of their cottage in Wales. This meant that he was on a small ledge amidst the rocky outcroppings in a hilly part of the landscape. There was a two-foot stone wall a few feet in from him that ran all around the property, which currently was decorated with boughs of holly for the Yule season. A small, unobtrusive gate was located in the middle where a walkway went down to a narrow street that headed into the nearest town. The walkway also extended up past the gate and around a bend to the unseen house. Muggles, of course, would only see a rugged, unused pasture, but even wizards could not see the house from this point near the road. Both Harry and Severus liked their privacy.
Glad to be home and hoping to spend a lovely, surprise Christmas with his lover, Harry hummed a happy tune as he walked through the wards and up to the house. It was an odd feeling coming back here during the day, as it was usually far after sunset when he returned from Christmas dinner, but he figured they could go for a short walk this evening and see the lights then. With a lightness he hadn't felt in a while, he opened the front door and walked in.
He took off his outer robe and placed it on the hook to the left and then turned right to go into the sitting room where lights were on and the Christmas tree was placed next to the front window. Smells of a savory Christmas dinner wafted around him, and he smiled at the thought of a quiet meal for two. "Honey, I'm home --"
Harry stopped dead at the threshold. There across from him, sitting on the settee, was Snape, holding what looked like a just-opened present and staring at him with wide, fearful eyes. Sitting next to him was an unknown, older woman with an expectant gaze, black hair streaked with grey, and severe black robes with only a splash of colour in the small poinsettia brooch at her throat.
After examining her more closely, he realized he did know this woman … and he knew that she should be dead.
"Severus?" he said into the awkward silence that stretched forever in a second. "What is this?"
Snape huffed and his expression recovered and turned dour. "It is exactly as it looks, Potter. You celebrate Christmas with your family; I celebrate it with mine."
Harry continued to stand there, gaping like a fish as his brain tried to work through the most logical conclusion. Reality was screwing with him, he was sure. "But I thought your mother was dead." He went back to staring at the very-real flesh-and-blood woman before him, only acknowledging a few seconds later that that was very rude of him. "No offense, ma'am."
Her flat-lined lips, which a moment ago were pinched in annoyance, softened and the corners turned up just a tad in amusement. Her eyes also took on a distinct twinkle that reminded him too much of Dumbledore. "None taken, seein' as how my boy has never introduced us. I kept askin' him why you was never around for the holiday, but he always told me you was with that large family of yours."
"Speaking of which," Snape said, setting the gift on his lap and crossing his arms over his chest in the 'I'm clearly annoyed with you' pose, "why aren't you with the Weasleys?"
In a nervous habit Harry had never been able to break, he raked one hand through his messy hair. "There was a bit of an accident in their kitchen and they're moving the whole dinner to Bill and Fleur's cottage by the sea. I was already feeling out of sorts, so I opted out and came home." He sighed. This wasn't how he'd expected to be greeting his lover when he got here.
Snape still sat affronted, though. "And you decided to disturb my quiet holiday with your loud brashness."
Harry bristled at this. He would admit to sometimes being either cheery or cheeky around Snape, but he never thought it bothered him, or at least not since they'd reconciled their differences after the war and become friends. In fact, he thought his attitudes had become a source of amusement for Snape, but apparently not. "I thought to spend it quietly with you, but instead I come home to find out you've been lying to me all these years!" Harry's voice had risen to shouting levels.
The woman's eyebrows shot up. "Oh, dear, Severus. Did you never tell your young man that I was here?"
"Potter, I suggest we take this into the kitchen. Please, do excuse us, Mother." Snape stood up, setting the present on a side table and straightening his robes while inclining his head to her.
She humphed. "Fine. Go get yourselves resolved, then." She made a shooing motion with her hands and then crossed them back over her breasts in a long-suffering way that spoke of resignation to things beyond her control.
Harry tightened his hands but said, "Fine," and walked through the house, noting that Snape followed on his heels.
When they entered the kitchen, Snape threw up a silencing spell so they could yell all they liked without his mother hearing. Harry wasted no time in rounding on his partner the second the spell was up. "What the hell, Severus? We've been together for eight years and you couldn't tell me your mother was still alive?"
"I never pry into your personal relationships with other people, especially your odious relatives, so I would appreciate it if you did the same." Snape's eyes were narrowed in frustration.
Harry threw out his arms in a wide, exasperated gesture. "I never pried because I never knew! You never talk about your private affairs."
"That's because they're private, Potter. Read a dictionary and memorize the definition." Snape crossed his arms over his chest, looking annoyed that Harry was still displaying signs of low level intelligence.
"But we are in this life together; there shouldn't be secrets between us!"
"Is that so? Then how was it that I only found out about Hedwig as your first real present a mere two weeks ago? And there are still memories from my Death Eater days I have not shared with you and shall not."
Harry ran his hands over his face in a tired manner. "Ugh, that's one thing to not expose every bad memory we have had from our pasts, but this is today! This is current! I would have loved to have met your mother under better, less surprising, circumstances!" He was back to yelling, and his eyes flashed with anger and hurt at not being trusted.
Severus' eyes scrunched up at this declaration. "She does not intrude upon our lives. I simply require one day to spend with her in private, but I suppose that's too much to ask from the ego of the Boy-Who-Lived."
Harry's hands clenched into fists. Severus hadn't been this spiteful in years. "That's not fair, Severus, you never even asked me! How am I supposed to give permission if I don't know? I would be perfectly happy for you to spend lots of days with your mother, but you couldn't even be arsed to tell me she existed!" He turned away, not wanting to look at Snape as he reined in his temper. It had taken him a long time to learn how to calm down in the midst of one of their verbal fights.
"It was not to be bothered with the rest of the year. She has her own life in the Muggle world and would prefer not to deal with the Wizarding chaos that surrounds you." Snape had lowered the volume on his own voice, trying to use logic in his argument to appeal to Harry's more rational side.
Unfortunately, it didn't work. "So, I'm the embarrassment, is that it?" He rounded again on Snape, green eyes dark and piercing.
Snape sighed and pinched his forehead right between the eyebrows. "That is not what I meant and you know it. My mother simply wants a quiet life and yours is anything but. You spend every Christmas at the Weasleys, which is the loudest assembly outside of the Great Hall at Hogwarts. She is too old and frail for that."
"But you never said anything. You just kept secrets behind my back." All of a sudden, Harry felt the fight go out of him. Snape didn't trust him, that was clear, and so he sank quickly into depression. He had felt like an outsider at the Weasleys and now he felt betrayed in his own home. He felt unwanted again, just like the discarded child he had been growing up, watching as his family had had Christmas dinners without him, exchanged presents without him, shooed him out of the house so they could celebrate without him. And now to find out Snape had been doing the same. Hurt lanced through him and he gasped at the pain, shutting his eyes from the instant tears.
He wouldn't cry over this. He wouldn't. At least, not in front of Snape and be mocked for it later. But he couldn't stay, either. "Fine," he said in a small, hoarse voice, "I'll leave."
Without waiting for a reply, he turned on the spot and disapparated to the front gate. He rushed through it, not wanting to give Snape the time to come after him, and once he was outside the wards, he disapparated again, this time far, far away.
It was colder here, the winds rushing by, burning sheets of ice into his skin, the sun hidden behind grey clouds. Harry wrapped his arms around his torso for warmth as his feet crunched through the snow as they carried him over to his parents' graves, the one bit of family that had truly cared about him, or at least he hoped so.
He stood there, shivering, reading over the gravestones and the inscription that he still didn't understand. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is Death. He wasn't so sure about that. Death sounded like a pretty good friend right now, someone that would accept him, someone who would take the pain away, who would take him to be with his real family.
Teeth chattering, he turned his sight inward to the revelations of the night and let the hurt swell up within him. It became too much and broke through him on a scream of rage. His knees landed in the snow on top of the hard ground, but he hardly noticed the cold or the wet as betrayal, white hot, sliced through him. It felt like an age before his breath left him, taking the bulk of the pain with it, yet leaving behind little hiccuping sobs. Tears froze on his face as he knelt there, hunched over in agony.
He was so lost in despair that he didn't hear the crunching of other feet approaching, but he did feel arms encircle him with a scratchy, but warm, woolen cloak. "I am sorry, Harry. We have talked much about your familial needs, but it had not dawned on me that you would see my mother included in that circle."
Through gasps and hiccups, Harry responded. "Of course, your mother would be part of our family. How could you think not?" He was so confused as to why Snape had kept this information hidden.
"I never saw the Weasleys or the Dursleys as proper family, even if you do, and I assumed you would not see my mother as family, in the same way. So I had no intention of … sharing her." There was hesitation in Snape's voice, unsure of the word or the phrasing or maybe the implication of what he was saying.
"But that's just it," Harry said, still forlorn, but the sobbing was slowing. "We're supposed to share everything. And this was just one more time I was excluded from something." He turned in Snape's embrace to glare accusingly into his eyes.
Snape's eyes hardened a bit in response. "Yet you always seemed exuberant to spend time with the Weasleys, so forgive me for not knowing otherwise."
Harry unwrapped one arm and pointed a finger at Snape. "What I wanted was to spend time with you! All these years I thought you were being lonely and I felt bad -- for you -- for myself -- that we were apart. You never let on you had this other side of your life." He stared hard at him, knowing Snape could read the full feelings of betrayal inside him.
No snarling, no fierce rebuttal, only a calm countenance met his own anguished one.
And that was it. No more explanations. No more accusations. Snape simply hugged Harry closer in his embrace, holding him as he cried out his heartbreak, letting him spend his anger.
When the crying had subsided, he said, "It is not sensible to stay out here. Come back home, and I'll introduce you to my mother."
Harry nodded his head and said, "Okay," desperately wanting to be included in their Christmas, willing to pay anything to have that, even forgive Snape for his thoughtlessness.
They helped each other stand up and Snape adjusted the woolen cloak around them, though the howling winds through the cemetery kept thwarting his efforts. He cast a warming spell on them both, noticing Harry still trembling.
Glancing once more at his parents' graves, Harry felt an odd sense of deja vu. In remembrance of another Christmas almost ten years before, he conjured a wreath of white roses and put it down against their headstone. "Happy Christmas, Mum, Dad."
With a kiss to his forehead, Snape side-along apparated them back to their cottage in Wales.
The clouds had grown a bit thicker while all this had taken place. Harry wondered if it was going to snow soon, as they hadn't had much of it here, yet, but that was the least of his worries. He felt wrung out and nervous. He let Snape walk him back up the path to their front door.
Entering the house again was like a new experience for Harry. He would be meeting Snape's mother officially, with that other non-official meeting hanging over their heads. He felt like a teenager going to meet the parents of his first crush, even if he was a decade older than that and well established as a survivor of many things. He had never got over, however, social awkwardness.
Snape brought him into the sitting room, where his mother still sat. Taking on a formal air, he said, "Mother, may I present to you my partner, Harry Potter." He turned a little to face Harry. "Potter, this is my mother, Eileen Snape nee Prince."
Harry looked at Mrs. Snape, who sat very stern and proud, with dark hair, dark eyes, and pale complexion. "How do you do, ma'am? Sorry about the … fight earlier."
She rose from the settee and came forward, looking with intense scrutiny into his eyes. He knew he was being judged, but he tried not to flinch, tried not to let the worry, the feelings of inadequacy, and the fear of rejection control him. She surprised him when she reached up with her gnarled hands and took his face in them. He felt a coolness there along with a dryness that came from aging. Even though she was a witch, living in the Muggle world for so long must have taken its toll on her body.
"Ye are a good man, Harry Potter. My son speaks highly of ye, in his own sarcastic way. Aye," she continued in response to Harry's widened eyes, "he may spit and snarl but there's a fondness there when one knows how to look for it. And there's no missin' his content mood, all these years. You're good for him. I'm pleased to meet you at last."
Harry was stunned at the rush of good warmth. "Oh, thank you." He was so relieved that he pulled Eileen into a hug, wanting to cling to her as a mother figure. Snape had had this all along, and now he was finally getting to share it. Harry sniffed, while urging himself not to cry again.
"There, there, we were just openin' presents. Come and give a look see." She dragged Harry over to the cushions and urged him down to sit with her. She gave Snape a stern look. "Now, if my son's done with his foolishness, we can all have a nice day of it, yes?"
Harry looked between his lover and his lover's mother and saw the resolve for family there. With his first joyful smile of the day, he said to her, "Yes, please. And has Severus ever taken you for a walk to see the lights?"
Her face lit up. "Why, no, he hasn't. That sounds right lovely. Yes, let's." She smiled over at her son, who confirmed the trip with a simple nod of his head. "Wonderful!"
And it was. Finally, he felt welcomed. Finally, he had his own family to call home.
It was a Happy Christmas, indeed.