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Slash and Yaoi Fiction
Title: Something Only Mine
Author: Juxian Tang
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Severus Snape/Albus Dumbledore
Rating: R
E-mail: juxiantang@hotmail.com
Site: http://juxian.slashcity.net
Warning: mpreg, death
Summary: Everything comes for a price. When you take something that doesn't belong to you, you should be prepared to pay as much as it costs.


"I wish you haven't done it, Severus," he said.

And I? Do I wish it, too? Regret is the feeling best known to me; that - and self-loathing. But in this case... It's him who shouldn't have done it. Shouldn't have come to my quarters, shouldn't have tried to drag me out of my voluntary seclusion, shouldn't have succumbed to my request - after all, he resisted it for so long till then. He should've known better - should've known nothing good could come out of it, as 'good' never has anything to do with me - even if I sometimes forget it.

He should've known it is a bad day for me.

A very bad day. Well, I think I haven't always disliked my birthdays. There must've been time when I actually relished them, counted days till the date, rummaged through the secret places of our house trying to find the presents my parents hid. But how long ago was it? - thirty years - long enough for the memories to fade into nothing.

I hate my birthdays very well now. The other faculty members of Hogwarts - I broke them out of habit of arranging any kind of celebration for me quite early, even of congratulating me, saying those inane things like 'Happy birthday' or 'Many happy returns of the day'. Merlin, who can stomach it? They stopped when they realised it couldn't be less welcome.

Not him, though. Albus. He never stops once he sets his mind on doing something.

Not that I ever give up hoping that once I will eventually be able to get through one of these incredibly unpleasant annual occasions as if it is just a normal day. That's how I try to keep it: loading myself with work, from the morning to the evening. Being occupied is healthy; if there is enough to do, it's likely I can put the blasted thing out of my mind completely. When the alternative is thinking over and over that another year passed - and nothing changed - and I'm still there, teaching children I hate and living among people I can't care less for - well, thank you very much, I'd better grade essays.

Which I'm trying to do when he knocks.

That's right; when Albus wants to 'make this day special' for me, he does it.

In my rooms, the fire pleasantly flickers in the hearth and the candle flames quiver in the small drafts. The light, yellow and sickly, creates my own world - the world where I don't feel safe (I just don't feel safe, period) but safer than outside, anyway. It's a joke, really, that my birthday falls on the end of May - when the weather is usually so disgustingly bright and sunny then - adding insult to injury. And oh, don't my colleagues always make such a fuss out of it: 'It's such a fine day, Severus. Why don't you take a walk, Severus?' Not to mention the children - you can hear them anywhere in the castle, you would think the walls are thick enough to prevent that - but here you are...

He lets the voices of the children in with himself when he comes.

I know it's him as soon as there is a knock - still hope it might be someone else, however. Yeah right; so many people are in the habit just to stop by at my place. I wish I had the guts to say just: 'Go away' and stick to it. But I've never done it - not with Albus - and I don't think I can start now.

So, it is 'Enter' instead - and here he is. I don't look up from my essays, like this way I can make him disappear - like even without looking I don't feel his presence, his sheer being here - the awful, impossible warmth of his that make my body tingle, make breath catch in my throat...

I wonder if he knows how he affects me. I think he does; it doesn't escape his notice that I stop writing, my hand is trembling so much - even if I don't stop pretending I'm too occupied to spare him a glance. I hear his chuckle, soft and rumbling and low - that I wouldn't mistake for anyone else's.

"Happy birthday, dear boy."

He is the only one who can say it like he means it; like the word 'happy' used in my regard is not a travesty.

And there is a present, of course - a package in aesthetically pleasant silvery-green paper, neat but not too neat, wrinkled enough for me to know that it was not shop-packed but that he wrapped it himself.

He tries so hard that I almost can believe I'm worth of those efforts.

"Thank you, Albus, but you didn't have to."

Those words of mine don't change anything, are mostly a part of the charade we play every year. And I'm still so careful not to look at him, not to meet his eyes. Looking everywhere... essays scattered on the table, red ink in my inkwell - dark like coagulated blood in this light - and silvery sparkles of embroidery on his purple robes; he wore blue today, did he change specially for me?

"Nonsense, Severus."

Such a kind voice; always so bloody kind - I wonder if Albus does it on purpose, knowing how vulnerable it makes me. His white bony hand rests on the edge of the table and I look at it, still not raising my eyes to him. The skin of his hand is paper-thin but the fingers are so long and strong - and I can't help remembering their strength from the times he held me, in my weakness, and his fingers seemed to be the only roots that kept me bound to this world.

"I got the house elves to make a cake for you, you know. But you'll get it only if you promise to eat at least a slice."

I laugh at that; make a small choked noise - not that I have much experience in laughter. But Albus always amuses me so.

"Never happened before, did it, Headmaster?"

"I keep hoping."

All the previous years, he came accompanied by a huge levitated cake, with thin candles alit on it. But since Albus always was the only one who ate it, he said it was bad for his sugar balance and promised there would be no cake next year. Could caught him lying, you see...

"It's coated in pistachio marzipan, like you love it."

"And you know that how?"

"That's my work, to know."

I smile again, a smirk twisting a corner of my mouth. My fingers touch accidentally the paper wrapping my present - and I notice it only when it's too late.

"Aren't you going to open it, Severus?"

"Of course."

It is a book; Snakes and 1200 Ways to Use Them in Potions. Seventeenth century, never re-published since then. Albus knows I will be excited out of my mind to have it - couldn't even dream of having it. His presents... always so well-thought, always something I will appreciate - always meant specially for me.

"It's too... too expensive to accept."

"Not a word more, dear boy." His hand covers mine that tries to push the book away. I shiver; in some way the warmth from his palm turns into icy cold inside my body.

It is when I look up - hate doing it, feeling like my soul lies bare behind my eyes. But it's not that there are any of my secrets Albus doesn't know.

In his eyes, there is kindness - as always.

"You deserve it, Severus."

What a blatant lie. He knows as well as I do what I really deserve. Not presents, in any case.

His hand stays on mine - I don't know if he is aware of it. But likely he is - he never misses anything. He probably even knows how much I want this moment to last - and how much I want to break it, at the same time. He squeezes my fingers gently.

"Enjoy it."

"I don't want to."

How stupid... I feel ridiculous even as I say that - knowing that I sound petulant and nonsensical; but it's too late to catch what I've blurted out. And Albus' blue eyes look at me with slight amusement and gentleness.

"And what do you want, Severus?"

He asks it so simply - like he's ready to give me whatever I want. What hubris - so sure that nothing I can say will put him out of his blithe mood! Let's see if it's so. He shouldn't have asked it; doesn't he know what kind of answer I might give?

It infuriates me, more than anything else until then. Heat rushes in my head, my face burning - and I almost can't see, can't control my movements - the book is nearly shoved off the table as I get up abruptly - and our hands fumble and part.

"You know what I want!"

My lower lip trembles; my chest flutters - and even saying that, I cringe inwardly, imagining what an ugly sight I am. What am I even talking about... Standing so close to him, too close - like I shouldn't have, like he doesn't want me - but the heat of his body - no, all of him - it is too irresistible, too impossible to relinquish.

"Don't say you don't know, Albus."

It sounds bitter; and it tastes bitter in my mouth - and I know he can see it in my eyes - my near-despair - my apprehension of what will happen now.

What will happen? Exactly nothing. Like before - like always. 'Lemon drop, Severus?' or 'Good night, Severus.' And then he will be gone - like he should've been a while before, shouldn't have come here at all.

I wonder why he even bothered...

"I won't say that, Severus."

Oh Merlin. It's bad. It's worse because it is not what I expected. Here I stand, biting my lip, waiting for a reprimand - and none comes - just infinite patience of Albus - of a parent towards the frolics of a child. Thirty-seven - I'm thirty-seven today, it's a little late to play a cute child - not that I ever could do anything cute. Disgusting is a much more appropriate word.

I swallow - suddenly aware of Albus still being right next to me - and it is tormenting enough for me to want to stop it, make him leave finally, let me return to my favourite pastime - loneliness and self-hatred. But it is also so good...

I don't know what I try to do, eventually, to step back or to cover this distance between us - and I just stumble, so awkward in his presence, it never happens to me with others... He catches me - like he always does, never letting me fall - his strong, impossibly gentle hands hot on my upper arms, steadying me carefully. And his eyes behind those half-moon glasses - so blue, so sweetly, purely blue - how he managed to live for a hundred and fifty without letting anything taint him - while I've been tainted irrevocably, long ago?

"Please," I say.

There is no reason to beg, it won't bring me anything and I know that - but I still do - I would cry and writhe on the floor if I knew it could bring me what I wanted.

Please... don't refuse me just yet. When you do - I'll live through it, I know, I've lived through it before. Another year another notch on my board of rejections. But the night is so long and it isn't even dark yet... you can leave me in my disappointment a little later...

He holds me; his hands on my shoulders are steadily warm - and I wring my hands to keep them from touching him. I can't - I must not - I'm not good enough to touch him. But it hurts, it hurts so much.

"I know I'm not... suitable... I haven't redeemed my crimes, will never redeem them..."

I'm so afraid he'll stop me, before I can say everything - the words rush from my mouth. I almost can't see what the expression in his eyes is - my vision blurs - it can't be pity, can it? It would be the worst, even I don't deserve it.

Previous times, by now he always interrupted me - put the end to it, mildly but firmly - and it amazes me that now he lets me talk away, so far. And it's bad. Because it lets me hope - how awfully easy it turned out to - and I think I probably won't be able to handle it when this hope is going to be taken away.

I know it can happen any moment now - he'll let me go, push me away slightly, subtly. And if it hasn't happened yet, if he seems almost to pull me closer - it doesn't mean anything. But I still talk.

"I know I'm ungainly..."

Ugly is a better word; dirty hair - no matter that I did wash it today - and my face so irregular that sometimes it seems grotesque to me as I look at the mirror. I wish I was as beautiful as those whom he loves or used to love - as handsome as James Potter - or as sexy as Black - or as sweet and delicate as Lupin. I wish to be everything best for him - clean and beautiful and desirable.

I'm not - and yet I dare to ask him.

"But if you could, Albus..."

I know that he even didn't love any of them - Potter, Black, Lupin - in this way. I want something from him that others didn't have. Because if he can never love me like he loves them - at least I would have that. Something special. Something that will be only mine.

His hand on my shoulder lets go - and then it moves up, to my face, and pushes away a strand of hair from my temple. My heart skips a beat - and I can't breathe - choke out:

"Please, Albus, please... just one this time."

Here, I've said it. Push me away now.

He looks at me - he's one of few people who actually can look down at me - and I look up and dissolve in blueness of his eyes. When he is so close like that, I almost can forget who I am and what I've done. He purifies me - the only one who can do it.

Then his thumb runs over my eyebrows, first one, then the other, smoothing them.

"Just one this time, Severus?" he repeats. "Just one this time."

I gasp; I can't speak - my heart swells and burns - and I feel lost. So, that's how it feels - when you get something you longed for - for years? His thumb touches my mouth - my parted lips - and I almost can believe he isn't disgusted to touch me.

"Just one this time, dear boy..."

That's overload; I whimper and shudder, two undignified actions that I would never allow in any other case - but now I can't care less. I jerk and clasp my hands on his robes, feeling heavily embroidered material under my palms - holding so tight one will probably have to break my fingers to make me let go.

But Albus doesn't make me let go. For a few moments the edge of his palm strokes my faces - and then he tilts his head down and presses his lips to mine. And this kiss is everything I could dream about - warm and strong and gentle and thorough - and I cry out in his mouth helplessly, those small needy voices that I know I have to stop but can't.

"Shh, Severus," he says when he breaks the kiss - still caressing my face, in little, pacifying touches, like it's supposed to calm me. "It will be all right. Everything will be fine."

He holds me; he handles me like I'm something precious; like I'm something breakable. Maybe, he can't do otherwise - but still, for now I want to believe that his gentleness, his care - they all are for me. I can believe that the kindness that shines from his eyes - it's for me, too. I gasp and kiss him again - and my fingers fumble, not wanting to lose the contact with him even for a moment - and struggling at the same time to pull his robes open, fiercely, greedily.

He hugs me - presses to his chest briefly - in a breathtaking affectionate gesture; and then walks me to the bed. My bed... it won't be cold and lonely tonight.

It's weird - I dreamed about it so many times - and when it actually happens, I'm surprisingly awkward with logistics and actions. But Albus makes it okay somehow - smoothes what goes rough, corrects where I blunder, is strong when I'm weak.

My mind blurs - it's like heat that comes in waves and sweeps my reason away, with a thing now and then imprinted in my memory forever: his hand through my hair - his mouth on my lips - his long leg driven between mine.

I moan and arch towards him - and there is the draft of cold against my skin, naked - and his heat next to me is almost unbearable, driving me crazy. I'm afraid I'd hurt him, do something wrong in my awkwardness, in my eagerness. But he makes me feel safe - even from myself.

"Easy, easy, dear one," he says. "Here... that's right..."

Those are such simple words - it's amazing they affect me so much, make my near-hysterics abate. How does he know what to say? Oh, of course he knows - who if not Albus? It still feels so good...

He touches - gently, almost reverently - the scars left on my chest from that summer two years ago, when my mission turned out to be a failure and Voldemort knew in advance that I betrayed him. They are healed long ago, just marred flesh but I don't particularly like touching them, try not to do it myself. Yet from Albus I would take anything - I just don't want him to feel guilty. I take his hand and bring it to my mouth and kiss the palm. And he pushes my hair away from my face, his other hand cradling my head.

His glasses tumble from his nose as he leans to me - and he laughs and puts them on the nightstand - and without them his eyes look so vulnerable, squinting slightly, almost funnily.

I remember seeing him in the position I've never even fantasised about - my hands plaited through his long hair, his head bobbing over my thighs - and his mouth on my cock like bliss, everything I could dream about and more. And I think nothing can be better than that - but oh, it can - his weight on me - and his shaft filling me, and his arms wrapped around me as our bodies strive towards each other in frenzy.

He says my name then - and it's probably the most precious gift he's ever given me - proving that he never forgets it's me with him, that everything he does is meant for me.

* * *

He stays with me after it is over. He's so kind... And it is his worst mistake.

He really should've known better; was always too trusting - didn't I say that time and time again, when he gave a second chance to Black, to Lupin. But it's really me he shouldn't have given that chance.

It's me who didn't deserve his care, who was too tainted in too many ways for that.

He should've been gone the moment our bodies disjoined - but he must've wanted to be really good to me. My bed seems too big and cold for leaving me alone there; and the walls, so implacably grey, seem to step too close. He stays. His body emanates heat - heavy alive weight, his chest against my shoulder, his beard prickling my neck slightly, the braids in it thin and smooth. His arm is wrapped around me - like even in his sleep he protects me.

Only it's really him who needs protection.

I think about it as I lie and listen to his breath and count seconds because every one of them is precious. Because it will be the only thing left for me when I do what I'm planning.

Just one this time, I asked for - and he gave it to me. No more.

But I want more.

I want something special from him; something for myself.

Something I have no right to. One time, I could lure Albus Dumbledore, the most powerful and the kindest wizard alive, in my bed. One time, I could steal him from his responsibilities, from his morals, from his true affections. It won't happen again; not tomorrow, not next year, not in as many years as I'll live.

I didn't deserve it to happen even one time. And I'm going to prove that I didn't deserve it.

It's amusing; I never really believed he would ever do it to me. But I learned that spell when I stumbled across it once, in a book on Dark Arts. Just in case; in case of a miracle.

The miracle he made happen.

I reach for his wand, placed so trustingly on the nightstand at my side of the bed - and put it into the hand of his arm that embraces me. I need it to be his wand - I need it to be his hand - as it is his semen I can feel thick and sticky on my legs and try to clench, not to move to keep it from leaking out.

He sleeps; I take his long wrist in my hand carefully and move it over me.

"Clepsero prolem."

The light shoots out of his wand, entering my belly.

It hurts. Merlin, I never expected it to hurt so much - although I should've - it is a Dark spell, after all. It hurts - a fireball born in my abdomen, growing in heat and then bursting in an explosion of fiery spikes. It feels like my insides are shredded - cut in a million pieces and re-arranged again - and maybe it is what really happens. My belly hurts - and my head hurts, pain rising over my spine in a sweeping wave. I arch, trying not to scream, not really believing I will manage not to. I thought I'd known everything about pain, after my tryst with Voldemort. But this is something entirely new, the agony of the body turning into something it isn't supposed to be.

I don't scream, after all - bite my hand through for that - but it is futile efforts because I shiver too much and he still feels it, wakes up. Through the haze in front of my eyes I see how he looks at me, his head raised from the pillow, long hair tangled - and there is immediate worry in his eyes as he looks how I shudder and sweat.

"Severus, what..."

A little yelp breaks from my lips instead of answer. And then he sees the wand in his hand.

"Priori Incantatem."

For a few moments he looks at the misty cloud that appears from the end of his wand - dark-red, dirty red - and it can be nothing else, it is dirty what I've done to him, a theft, a crime.

And this pain is really not enough a payment for it.

I can't see too well - but I still notice how his face distorts and his eyes blaze up. Oh Merlin, if I were not so much in pain, I would piss myself in fear. Voldemort is afraid of Albus - and for a reason.

He must've known this spell; he knows what I've done. He knows I transformed myself to be able to carry his child - the child he was never intended to give me.

This spell doesn't need the other parent's consent, you know - it's Dark for a reason. It was used by witches and wizards a long time ago to secure their position with a chosen man, by pregnancy. I know it won't secure my position next to Albus. If anything, I will lose him forever.

But I still have done it.

Something special for me... something of his that will be only mine.

His eyes are not blue at this moment - but thunderstorm dark. If it had hurt when he looked at me in disappointment - when I showed him the Dark Mark on my arm or when I gave Lupin away - then now it's much worse. I thought I was prepared to handle it - oh how wrong I was, how stupid and arrogant.

I can't bear it; I want to undo what I've done and beg for forgiveness. I want to die rather than to face his anger.

Then he raises the wand - and I know what he'll do.

His power and knowledge are enormous - he probably knows a spell to undo this one - to repair what I've done, leave me barren and empty again - and then, in another wave, to obliviate me, so that I remember neither what I've done nor that night we've had.

And the thought of losing it - not the child, although in my stubbornness I hate something I worked so hard to get to be gone - but the memory of us - it makes me fight.

I grab my wand and shriek:


Pain makes me so weak; his wand just rolls over the blanket and even this effort leaves me gasping and shivering. I can't even move, when he reaches and picks up his wand and waves it over my body. His voice saying the spell comes to me as if from afar, words I don't recognise.

The pain isn't gone; it's dulled somewhat - and there is a strange sensation going through me, like my skin tingles and my bones vibrate minutely. But the heat in my abdomen is still there - the foetus - I can feel it.

He didn't take it away!


"Why what, Severus?"

"What have you done?"

"Protective charms," he says. "Shield for your body not to be hurt by accident. It won't saved you against a direct attack - but at least you'll be safe if Mr. Longbottom blows another cauldron or you trip off the stairs."

It almost sounds jokingly - but I know better. Blood trickle from my lip as I gnaw at it.

"Why?" I ask again. "Why have you done it?"

"Because you'll need all your strength and safety to carry out your child."

I see; that's it. No emphasis on 'your' - but I understand it with slamming force. I couldn't really expect anything else - I don't expect anything else! That's right; Albus Dumbledore is the most powerful wizard currently, to let someone speculate with his child like this would be wrong.

So stupid of me... I haven't thought about it. I haven't thought about a lot of things.

"I wish you haven't done it, Severus," he says.

I've done what I thought right. Well, isn't it the story of my life? Doing something and then spending lifetime regretting it. I suppose I'm really for a treat now - previously inexperienced regrets.

"No one should have a child for reasons other than for the sake of a child itself - and I think your reasons are not that."

I don't argue; Albus is right - he knows me better than I know myself. But hearing it still makes me so miserable that I feel like curling up, turning away from him - and covering my ears not to hear his words, lulling myself into oblivion like that.

But I have to listen; I've made my bed - so, now I have to lie in it.

"What is done, is done," he said, sorrowfully and mildly - like he almost forgives me. Only his voice is distant; he won't ever be close to me again. He reaches to my face and wipes blood from my bitten lip - and I know it's the last time he touches me.

"Take care of yourself, Severus," he says.

I don't want to... take care; but I know I will.

* * *

Next two months I don't fare very well. I have to admit, some things turned out to be unexpected; never knew I would be throwing up like that... and there are all kinds of discomfort in my body. I attribute it to the fact that a male body isn't supposed for carrying out a child - but those might be usual symptoms at pregnancy; I wouldn't know.

Talking to Pomfrey would help, I think, but I'm not ready for that yet - for the huge eyes of surprise and questions: 'How, Severus? Who is the other parent, Severus?' And I don't want to risk using any potions that can alleviate my condition but might be potentially harmful for the foetus.

Foetus... Never thought this word would have anything to do with me. Now I have two months - sixty nights - to think every single thought about it to death. That I couldn't choose a worse time to get myself knocked up (isn't there this muggle expression?) Things are going to their end, it looks like the final stand with Voldemort is nearing. Everyone of the faculty stayed in Hogwarts for summer; and this damned boy, Potter, of course, too. At least other annoying children left.

Yeah, you know, I love children so much. No wonder I decided to have one of my own.

There is still something unreal about this thought. I know it (he - because in case of two wizards male babies are born) exists - and in seven months it'll (he'll) get out into the world (if I'm lucky) - but I totally can't imagine how it'll be. How someone else - another creature - will share my rooms with me; he'll needs all kind of baby things... and then he'll grows... how will he look like, resembling me or...

Well, never mind.

It's difficult; not only physically - although this regular nausea alone is enough to drive me crazy. And those around me don't help it in the least. I even start thinking I'm not paranoid but they're really out to get me. Otherwise why would Minerva shove that smoked salmon under my nose so insistently and Flitwick never stop advertising how great strawberries are with all that whipped cream?

It's difficult because Albus... well, he's exactly as he used to be towards me. Kind and firm and always there for me should I want to talk about another operation against Death Eaters or if my Dark Mark bothers me.

About the other thing - we don't talk. Not that I should expect anything else, being a thief, being a criminal who betrayed the trust of the only person ever kind to me. All right, all right, I didn't expect anything else! It's just... it would be better if Albus reproached me - than this... than knowing that he knows and that I know. How can he not think about it looking at me, offering me a lemon drop, calming me down when I go irate with Potter's stubbornness?

It's tearing me apart; but I'll be damned if I let Albus be bothered with it.

In my pride - in my conceit - I thought I would manage it through, was so sure of my strength. I should've known better - there was never anything strong enough in me to rely upon.

But - come what may.

One time, I barely make it out of the Great Hall during the lunch - to the first floor lavatory - and there pathetically hunch over the bowl; nothing new about it. And then - I feel him come in. It's exactly how it is, I don't see him or hear his steps - but have this sharp awareness of his presence. I don't look up, until the hems of his robes nearly brush against me - and then I can't look up at all. My stomach tightens in an even worse spasm although I don't have anything in it any more.

I would give anything for him not to see me like this - for the Fates to leave me at least some dignity in coping with the ordeal I have no one to blame for apart from myself.

I feel the warmth coming from him and flinch - and then his arms are around me, gentle fingers tuck my hair behind my ears neatly. For a moment my breath is caught, my body freezing in disbelief. His hand lies down on my shoulder, wonderfully hot and steady - and for a little while I just let myself relish it, allow this feeling seep through all my body - and believe that it can last.

Then Albus helps me to get up, walks me to the tap, scoops some water in his hand and lets me rinse my mouth. It's almost funny; like I'm a small child who needs to be taken care of. I know I'm a sorry creature; but Merlin, it feels so good to be near to him, everything in me clenches, goes for this warmth, this attention.

I think no one took care of me like this since I was six or seven and my mother was still well. Strange that I remember it.

Strange that it comes to my mind now; regressing into childhood, don't you, Severus? How perfectly disgusting. I try to pull myself together and straighten - even though I don't have self-control enough to pull away from Albus. And he doesn't let me go, washing my face carefully, then pushing my hair away from my face.

He's so close - close like he'd been that night when he brought me my present - and it is as difficult to raise my eyes to him as it was then. But when I do... I've almost forgotten how he affects me - how easy it's to lose myself in the blueness of his gaze.

I want to say something - so much - to beg him for forgiveness - but I know it would be in vain, some things just can't be forgiven. I want to ask him to do something, to correct what I did wrong - but it's not like it's possible. I don't think abortion is a way out - and in my stubbornness I somehow feel like sticking to what I did start.

So instead of it - what comes off is:

"I m-miss you so."

Great; I'm stammering like Quirrell. Not to mention the utter stupidity of what I've said. Anger flares in me - against myself.

There is something in Albus' eyes that I can't figure out - or afraid to believe that I see; this gentleness - this compassion.

"I missed you, too, dear boy," he says and he still holds me, even though there is no need to support me any more; it feels so good... so good that even his words mean less than this feeling of his arms around me. "I shouldn't have left you like this."

For a moment I'm speechless - and when I do talk, it comes far from eloquent.

"But... it's my fault... I have to go through it alone... you're right..."

"No one should go through this alone."

Sometimes his kindness is too much for me; sometimes I wish he gave me what is really due to me. Then I wouldn't feel shame like this - wouldn't wonder how I'm even going to pay up for it. I haven't even paid my debt for joining Voldemort yet - and now Albus forgives me this new crime.

"I'm sorry," he says. "When I realised what you did... I got scared."

It almost make me chuckle; great Albus Dumbledore - scared?

"Did you ever wonder," he says, "why I don't have a family, in my age?"

I didn't. I should've, I know. But Albus... he was just always there, it's like no one could imagine him belonging to someone else but Hogwarts and his students.

"I had once," he says. "It hurts so much to lose someone you love. I'm a coward, Severus. When I lost them... I thought I would never let my heart be shredded in pieces like that again - I would be safer giving my care to someone else's children. And when you..."

He stops - and I can't say anything as well. Shame is wracking me. What have I done? What have I done to him? I didn't know, oh Merlin, I didn't know - didn't think - I thought only of myself - my wishes, my needs - something I want to have...

"There're so many dangers connected to what you've done. You know that, I think, must've read about it. But besides that, there's Voldemort. I'm an old man, Severus. I thought I couldn't go through this kind of pain again... if something happened to you."

"But... but it doesn't necessary have to happen..."

He chuckles.

"You're right, child. It's just sometimes it so difficult to see reason." His fingers run over my face, lightly - the tips so soft and warm.

"Don't call me 'child'," I say.

"Well," he smiles again. "Technically I can call anyone younger than a hundred and twenty 'child'."

And then he says a most incredible thing:

"You are my most beloved child, Severus."

Is it a lie? I look at him trying to read in his eyes - but Albus can't lie, can he? Yes, I know he can - and does sometimes - but he can't lie now, not like this.

"Oh Severus..." He looks at me that there is a kind of heartbroken expression in his eyes. "Didn't you know? Did you think that for all those years I... didn't care for you?"

Well, basically... yes. Why should've he? What did I do to deserve his love? And why would he say it now, when I did everything to deserve his contempt?

"But Potter..." I don't even know which one I mean now. "Black... Lupin... I thought..."

"Yes, it's easier to care for them - there is so much in them that cause love effortlessly. But love... sometimes it has to go where it is most needed."

I bite my lip, trying to keep from asking a question, knowing it won't be right to ask, it can ruin everything. But I can't keep, in the end.

"You forgive me?"

"There is nothing to forgive."

"Yes, there is." I kiss his hand and he doesn't pull it away - and half-hiding behind his palm, I ask: "And... what now?"

"You'll always be my beloved son, Severus. Do you understand?"

I do; whatever had been between us in my bedroom - it is crossed out with this word - 'son'. That's what there will be between us from now on. And the child that I will have...

"I'm too old to have children," Albus says. "Grandchildren now - it's another matter."

Oh... all right; I think it's more that I could ever hope for... I suddenly feel so wrung out that it's difficult to stand. Albus steadies me gently.

"Let's go," he says, "I'll take you to your rooms."

"I don't want to," I say feebly.

"Nonsense, nonsense, dear boy..."

He does what he says - and absolutely annoyingly insists on me to lie down - and close my eyes - and try to relax; like I'm some invalid or something. But as my eyes close, it turns out surprisingly easy to start falling into sleep.

"One day," Albus says and it sounds amusingly like a fairy-tale, "you'll meet a person who will make you happy."

"Already met," I mumble. "You."

"No, not me," he chuckles.

* * *

I don't know how it happened. Oh hell - I know, of course - I wish I could say I would ever be able to put it out of my mind - every little moment of it. But I know it isn't likely.

I'll just have to live with it; from now on.

August 31, a month after Harry Potter's seventeen's birthday - three months and four days after my thirty-seventh birthday - and Voldemort is right outside Hogwarts, under the walls of the castle - and we all know this time he won't just leave to lick his wounds if we kick him well. He hasn't gathered all his ranks of Death Eaters - and his allies, Dementors and dark creatures - to retreat again.

It's either him or us, this time.

And Voldemort is pretty sure it'll be him. He even says to Albus he'll spare the school - after all it was his 'home once, nostalgic memories, you know, old man' - in exchange for giving away Potter and me. Merlin... Voldemort and his grudges! And I thought I was the one who can never let anything go.

But in this case I find Voldemort's lust for personal vendetta rather opportune. And for once the irritating Potter boy and I agree in something. If we manage to get closer to Voldemort, we will have a chance at a strike.

A life or two for a chance to get rid of the bastard - it's really an acceptable price.

We really should just do it - instead of wasting our time arguing with Headmaster Dumbledore.

"Don't you understand anything, Albus, for Merlin's sake?" I think Potter gapes at me as I say that; he's never seen me so disrespectful before - but who cares? "Do I have to spell it for you? We have a chance to finish it once and for all - and you're going to waste it?"

Well, there are few more annoying things than Albus' twinkling gaze when he makes his mind on something and nothing can push him off the set way. He thinks he can decide what Potter and I should do to our lives - like we can't deal with it ourselves.

In the end, I just do it. I know Albus won't bugger up - so, I leave him occupied with Potter, who tries to persuade him with reason and politeness - and I walk out of the castle towards Voldemort. I remember his scarlet eyes flash up - the eyes that are an integral part of my nightmares, along with his soft voice whispering 'Crucio' again and again. I know there won't be 'Crucio' this time - at least it's consoling. He won't risk dragging out his revenge.

I don't particularly want to die - who does? And I feel kind of guilty - because of the child, you know. But I do what I have to.

I see Voldemort smile and raise his wand - and it seems to me he does it so very slowly. But as I pull my wand from the sleeve, I also seem to move like through thick liquid. He manages to wave his wand before I can wave mine - and I see his lips move. Although I don't hear the words, the articulation doesn't look like 'Avada Kedavra'. Figures... he probably has something less instant and more showy for me - like breaking every bone in my body or bursting my inner organs. Something that will kill me for sure anyway.

And then:


At the first moment I don't know what's happened - only that I'm still alive - unscathed - and at the same time I'm hideously aware that something wrong happens right next to me. I turn and...

On the green grass at the Hogwarts' doors - he's there and blood is leaking from his mouth on the white thin braids in his beard. And next to him there is Potter, his eyes huge behind the round glasses.

"How stupid," Voldemort says. "I wanted to kill him only later."

I don't know if he can see what I see - the light seeping from Albus' wand into Potter's - golden, swirling light. I don't want to know what it means - I don't want to think about anything at all, can't afford thinking. I turn to Voldemort and hurl 'Avada Kedavra' at him and I don't care if he is too strong to be harmed with it. And I hear another voice, young but sounding low with anger, saying the same words.

For a moment Voldemort's eyes become surprised as my curse hits him - and a second later a huge shaft of green light enters his chest. It's nothing like I've seen before - but then again, I've never seen a curse cast with force combining the power of two strongest wizards of the generation; because Potter is a great wizard, as much as I hate to admit it - and Albus is... was... oh Merlin.

Voldemort folds - like a paper figure, a marionette with cut strings - falls on the ground and doesn't move. And I feel how the constant awareness of the Dark Mark on my arm fades away.

Just like that - it is over. Voldemort is dead - and I feel nothing. I feel nothing because I'm afraid to feel. I walk up to Albus and kneel on the ground next to him. And on the other side of his body there is Potter, kneeling, Albus' hand in his and his eyes turned at me, green and incomprehensible.

What are you looking at, boy? Don't you think I don't know what I have done... I don't need you blaming me, I'll perfectly do it myself.

What I have done... It suddenly slams on me, defeating me - and everything else stops existing. The battle around is obviously going on, there are still Voldemort's accomplices to deal with. But I don't care, I don't care for anything...

Albus, please! When I said a life for Voldemort's defeat was an acceptable price - I didn't mean your life. You can't do that to me! Don't you dare to do it to me...

I reach to him and my hands clasp on the dark-blue of his robes - and suddenly there is a small flutter of his chest under my hands - and my heart skips a beat because he's alive, he's alive!

I knew you wouldn't leave me, Albus, I knew - if anyone is strong enough to survive it - it's you.

His eyelashes tremble and eyelids raise - his eyes are so blue - and I smile, I know he will be all right, everything will be all right, Voldemort is dead and he, Albus, he'll recover, he'll get his power back. And he will forgive me for the wrong I've done again - because if he doesn't - how will I live?

Albus smiles back at me - and some more blood rolls out of his mouth. It shouldn't be like that, all this blood...

"Harry..." he says.

I think Potter squeezes his hand.

"He's dead, sir. I think... it's over." How he manages to sound so steady; at this moment I'm really in awe with the damned boy. Albus nods - and then his gaze finds me.


But I can't talk, I can't even breathe, it hurts even to look at him - not that I can - or will - look away.

And suddenly his hand, holding on Potter's, rises - and finds my hand. And in Albus' fingers - long and cool - cool, they'd never been cool, always were so warm! - I feel smaller, hot, callused hand of Potter pressed to mine.

Everything blurs in my eyes - and for some moments it seems that this hand is the only thing that keeps me grounded, keeps me from going over the edge.

"Please..." Albus says.

His eyes twinkle, feebly, and then close. And I know that no matter what I'll say, no matter if I scream, or call for him, or shake him - he won't hear.

I look at his serene face - blood drying on his lips, small breeze waving strands of his long hair - and it seems it's the only thing I can do. I don't think I can move, or go, or keep living. Not when my life comes at such a price... not when my guilt is so enormous.

What have you done, Albus?

Why have you done it? Would you have done it if you hadn't known I have this child of yours? These are the questions I'll never know answers to. And I'll have to live with it - because he died for me.

I just don't know how.

A small, hot palm tugs on my hand slightly - and I'm aware of reality again. I don't know what he's trying to do - get his hand free from mine? It's not like I want to hold him in the first place. But the hand doesn't go - if anything, it tightens on my fingers a little. I turn and look - and meet Potter's wide, green eyes staring at me.


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