Change the World

~summary: Harry explores new feelings about a certain professor
~ pairing: SS/HP
~ categories: slightly angsty; songfic.
~ feedback: always welcome
~ rating: M 15+
~ beta: thanks Kitara for once again boosting my confidence
~ music: Eric Clapton-Change the World
~archive: InkStained Fingers

 

A quick glance at the front garden of number 4 Privet Drive would have revealed very little to the casual passer-by, it being a nondescript collection of grass and shrubbery bordering an unremarkable house in a boring suburb. The more discerning observer, however, would easily have noticed something not usually found in front gardens, at least not lying under said shrubbery in front gardens. This garden contained the young Harry Potter.

Not a striking name surely. A name probably better suited to a middle-aged double glazing salesman than to a young man inescapably destined to kill or be killed - to save or damn the world. Harry Potter was considering this fact in his hiding place under the bushes.

Damn the world/Save the world. Eeny meeny miney mo. It was enough to drive him crazy, and for the millionth, millionth time he mentally formed the unanswerable question, "Why me?"

"Feeling sorry for yourself again Potter? It seems self-pity is the only thing you even remotely excel at. Unfortunately for you it is not in the Curriculum and even if it were, you would fail the final examination because you don' have the balls to make a choice and get on with it."

Snape.

Why does his own inner critic always have the voice of Snape? Silly question really. Who else could demolish inner confidence and resolve with just one sneering flash of those cold, black eyes? Who else treated Harry with such utter contempt on a daily basis that he was driven to repeated fits of suppressed rage? Who else had made scathing criticism into an art form? Who else made sure he was not beguiled by the whole Boy Who Lived golden Gryffindor glamour circus? Who else would not give in to him or favour him even though he was the [reluctant] hero of the entire wizarding world?

Snape.

Only Snape gave him no quarter, no mercy, no recognition.

Only reality.
Snape.
Reality.
Save the world/damn the world/fuck the world.

Harry sighed, imagining the look on the Professor's face if he was able to see the 'saviour of the wizarding world' skulking fearfully under a rosebush. The vision caused a wry grin to soften his serious features. He wondered what Snape was doing now. In the weeks before he had left Hogwarts at the end of his sixth year, Harry and Snape had been paired as a 'war team'. The war had started and Dumbledore feared that the underhand tactics Voldemort had employed to date would soon be replaced by out-and-out confrontation.

He made the announcement in the Great Hall. They needed to prepare, he said. Small teams could train themselves to work in concert and be more effective than a multitude of lone warriors acting spontaneously. No matter how vehemently Snape and Harry voiced their opposition to the pairing, Dumbledore was unmoved. He simply stated that they were ideally matched and that he expected both of them to apply themselves to the task at hand for the good of all. Snape had stiffened his back at this, as if slighted that Dumbledore would even consider the possibility he would do any less. "Of course, headmaster."

**********************************

Harry sighed and moved to brush an errant ant from his face. He recalled the first training session for the war teams. Snape had approached him, glaring, broomstick in gauntleted hand and stated with all the enthusiasm of a man preparing to eat a 5-course meal prepared by Hagrid, "Letâ's get on with it then, Potter. I've got other things I'd actually prefer to be doing."

The professor then mounted his broom and rose smoothly into the air.

Not bad - for a git.

Harry had hesitated while watching Snape ascend and when he did not move fast enough for Snape, the professor whipped out his wand and zapped a bolt of magic to the seat to Harry's pants.

"Oi! Shit! What did you do that for?"

"Twenty points from Gryffindor for tardiness and disrespectful language. Now, if the great Harry Potter would deign to mount up, we have a war to train for, if that isn't too much trouble for him. Or perhaps he has another newspaper interview to go to which would, of course, be far more important than merely overcoming the darkest force the wizarding world has encountered this century."

Typical. He isn't going to even try to make this bearable.

"All right! Give it a rest will you?" Harry shouted, disregarding the possibility of losing more points. " Im coming, I'm coming."

He glared with what he hoped was a sufficiently pissed off expression,swung his leg over his broom and took to the air. The sight caused the professor to completely forget about deducting said points. It seemed to Severus that the boy was instantly in position at his side. The breath caught in Snape's throat. Harry was absolute poetry in motion on that broom, he did give him that. No one could hold a candle to him in the air. He made every maneuver appear absolutely effortless and graceful.

Beautiful ... he's ... just ... beautiful ...

Snape cleared his throat, spat, "Very pretty, Potter but we are not at an air show,"and hoped that this comment camouflaged his admiring look and distracted the boy from other physical evidence that had arisen. He continued in as officious a tone as he could manage. "Now apparently, we are to practice aerial dueling first between ourselves, then against an opposing team. Are you ready?"

As he said ‘ready’, he let fly with a disruption hex that caused turbulence and a severe downdraught around Harry. His broom dipped alarmingly, bucking and swerving, losing height, rapidly. Quick as a flash though, Harry cast a stabilizer, then accelerated almost vertically under Snape"s position.

"Immolato!" he shouted, aiming at the tail of Snape's broom. A blaze of fire erupted from his wand and hurtled towards the target. Snape evaded the blast with almost careless nonchalance, watching, as the hex burned itself out in the air above him.

"Is that the best you can do, Potter?"he snarled hovering over Harry. "Perhaps you would do better polishing snitches in the Quidditch tackle room."

"Revoluto!" This one caught Snape in mid smirk. To Harry's immense satisfaction, Snape had to endure several complete barrel-rolls before countering the hex and righting himself.

"Expelliarmus Extremis!"

During the long flight back, Harry surmised that Snape had sent him to the far side of the lake, just so he would not see the queasy look on the professor's face from the barrel-rolls! He made his way back to the training arena, stopping his broom a discreet distance away from his "opponent". They eyed each other warily, both grimly poised to strike.

The wind caught in Snapes hair and cloak, causing both to flick about his lean body. The sight of focused and windswept Snape transfixed Harry. He had no idea why, but suddenly he felt ... had never even noticed the professor's body before and the wind parted his cloak in just such a way that ...

Snape, noticing the boy's inattention, was the first to move. "Laceratio" he spat.

Harry screamed! He felt his skin burn and sting, as if it was being flayed from his body. "Cesatio", he gasped. Then "CRUCIO!"

Severus tried to block but was not quite quick enough. He fell, gripped by agony and unable to help himself. Harry released the curse, shouted "Wingardium Leviosa!" and slowly levitated Severus back into position. One look at the professor's face was all it took for Harry to see that Snape was REALLY angry now.

"Mr Potter ", he rasped. "understand that the Ministry has give us leave to use the unforgivable curses during this war. However, if you ever, EVER try that on me again, I will personally deliver you, bound hand and foot, to the feet of the Dark Lord and happily eat chocolate frogs as I watch him torment you into madness. DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?"

The almost instant physical effect of hearing Snape talk about binding him, startled Harry - oh god! he was so hard. Distracted by this, he did not have the concentration required to respond before another laceration hex was released at him. This time, though, he responded instinctively, effectively blocking and neutralizing the hex before it reached him.

"Vinculo" he replied and from his wand several black writhing ropes sprang toward Snape, with the sole purpose of binding him . Snape countered with a casual flick of his wand and an inevitable smirk.

Show off.

They continued hurling hexes and curses at one another, sometimes striking, but increasingly, deflecting or minimizing the effects. Harry often had to call his Quidditch skills to bear, as he swooped and soared in an attempt to evade Snape's onslaught. Snape was a relentless opponent, not giving Harry a moment to relax his vigilance. He played for real. After Harry had let go his anger, and regained his composure, he found the whole experience exhilarating. Snape was an excellent warrior, strong, cunning, quick and deadly. It was an achievement to get one past him and Harry felt a warm glow deep inside when finally, he out maneuvered the man and managed to disarm him.

Snape looked at him - and smiled.

He actually smiled and it lit up his entire face - the entire universe, it seemed to Harry. It made Snape's eyes come alive in a way that sent warmth straight to Harry's groin, robbed him of his breath and made his bones tremble.

"Enough for today," the professor said, still smiling softly ( gods! was that approval in his voice?) extending a hand to retrieve his wand from Harry. Harry felt able to fly without his broom. The one-to-one training was over for the day, which was disappointing - he wanted to try for that smile one more time!

**********************************

The team-to-team dueling was altogether different. This time Snape and Harry were on the same side against the "enemy" Malfoy and Weasley.

Ha! That's almost as weird a match as Snape and me.

The 'battle' commenced, both sides seeking victory neither giving an inch. Severus and Harry soon settled into an easy partnership, communicating sparingly yet clearly with looks and slight hand gestures. Sometimes they just moved into position without notice. It was always the correct position. Harry began to understand Dumbledore's decision to pair them.

When Snape got into a spot of bother, Harry swooped in and rebounded Malfoy's Stupefy hex before it could reach Severus. The hex hit Draco, leaving Ron to save him from spiraling into the ground. Snape blocked a shrinking hex meant for Harry, countering it with a protective shield thrown around both of them. The hex impacted the shield and dissipated harmlessly.

The session finally came to an end and wearily, the combatants made their way back to the hall to eat. Harry walked up the steps in comfortable silence beside Snape. Before they entered the Hall, Harry stopped, turned to Severus and said quietly, "Thank you, Professor. I learned a lot from you this afternoon".

Snape froze and looked at Harry, his expression unreadable. Something dynamic briefly flitted across his features - and was gone.

"Wonders will never cease", he drawled, turning and making his way to his place at the head table. Harry sighed.

Git.

Several times during the meal, Harry looked up to find Snape's eyes on him again, that fleeting expression on his pale face. The expression that made Harry's heart do little flip-flops in his chest.

**********************************

Under the rosebush, Harry's heart did little flip-flops again, as he remembered that look in Snape's eyes, of the feelings the man could evoke in him with merely a glance ... He remembered also, the feeling of trust, of being totally protected and defended by him, as they fought together during training and also as they met the real enemy in battle.

Under that rosebush, Harry had a sudden insight - a revelation. Even though Snape was ruthless with him, it was a ruthlessness born of care . Harry realized, that under all the harshness, Snape actually cared whether he lived or died. Even more amazing, it seemed he wanted him to live! Otherwise, why did he chastise Harry's stupid mistakes so fiercely? Why did he never let him rest on his laurels; never let up on him? This was a completely different kind of caring. It was honest, primal, and meaningful. Knowledge of it filled Harry's heart to bursting point. Some of the overflow found its way out via his eyes. Inexplicable tears, shed for a man who would callously scorn them. A man who wasn't there with him. A man Harry missed more than he could say.

He smiled, wanly, as he realized that he was looking forward to returning to Hogwarts tomorrow for a new reason altogether.

The soft summer breeze carried the sound of the neighbour's radio into the garden, interrupting his reverie. Harry recognized the song.

Ew! Poxy Clapton.

The words caught his attention, though, and he strained to hear them.

If I could reach the stars
Pull one down for you
Shine it on my heart
So you could see the truth
That this love I have inside
Is everything it seems
But for now I find
It's only in my dreams
That I can change the world
I would be the sunlight in your universe
You would think my love was really something good
Baby if I could
Change the world ..
.

The breeze stole the song, leaving Harry strangely touched, his feelings in turmoil.

Save the world/Damn the world/change the world.

I want to be the sunlight in his universe.

DAMN!

May as well try to make Voldemort into a pacifist and invite him over for a nice cup of tea. In fact, the tea thing might just be do-able, whereas the Snape thing - Forget it. Put it in the ˜too hard basket' Potter. Get on with killing or being killed.

Harry sighed and closed his eyes against the strange heavy pain in his chest. A swoosh and rustle next to him startled his eyes open. Morgana, Snape's personal owl sat patiently, regarding him with a look that was uncannily like her owner's. When Harry made no immediate move, the owl proffered her leg towards him.

"OK, girl, "he said softly., then gently removed the note that she carried, and searched in his pocket for a treat. She took it, retreated a little, then took off in a flurry of wings. Harry opened the dog-eared note with shaking hands. Scrawled hastily in familiar red ink were the words: "Happy Birthday. See you tomorrow."

Harry smiled.

Maybe, just maybe it would not be so difficult after all...

Posted 27/9/03.
Alterations made 28/11/03
This work will continue with a sequel to be inserted between this fic and Scene From a War [1].