Author’s Note: This is a response to the Snowball challenge on the Potions and Snitches site. It assumes that a close guardian-type bond is already in place between Harry and Snape. As such it is certainly not canon, and they are a bit out of character. There is no slash intended! I suppose if there are any other warnings, it would be that there are enough warm fuzzies here to melt a snowman.
Disclaimer: The characters and situations of Harry Potter do not belong to me. I make no money from this story. Please don’t sue.
1. The Little Things by Perse
Big things have made his life worth living again. Snape is a big thing. The comfort level he’s established with his guardian and his now-strong skills at Occlumency are big things.
But it is the little things that keep him going from day to day. Things like the beauty and magic of the Christmas decorations being put up in the Great Hall. Things like standing outside in the first big snow of the season, breathing in the cold air. Things like having a free day with his guardian, unencumbered by classes or other people judging their newfound relationship.
Things like icy cold snow, which he was currently sifting through his fingers. He looked from it up to Snape, who stood nearby looking out at the lake, and then back to his hand. Slightly wicked grin forming on his face, he began shaping the snow into a ball. “Oh, Severus?” he called innocently.
When his guardian turned, a snowball splattered onto his chest. Severus blinked, looked down at his chest, and then back at Harry. “May I ask what that was for?”
Harry felt his lips quirk. “Play with me,” he requested simply.
Snape stared at him for a beat, eyebrows raised. “Are you sixteen, or six?” came the dry reply.
Harry tilted his head down and then cut pleading eyes back at him, pouting. “No one would play with me when I was six, either.”
There was no visible change on his face, but Harry had learned to read the man. There was a subtle shift in his body language as he registered the truth in that statement. And while he undoubtedly knew he was being played, he nevertheless made the decision that Harry had hoped he would.
Snape bent down, picking up a clump of snow. He didn’t bother to shape it, and he didn’t throw it. He simply walked up to Harry, and plopped it unceremoniously onto his right shoulder.
They both watched it slide from the shoulder and down his arm, leaving a wet streak behind. “You call that a snowball?” Harry asked dubiously, looking back up at his guardian.
Snape shrugged noncommittally. “I didn’t call it anything. You called it ‘play.’”
Harry grinned. He loved how Severus could keep the perfectly serious manner while teasing him. “Let me show you how it’s done,” Harry suggested, bending down to shape another weapon.
But when he stood, Snape was gone. The man could move fast when he wanted to. Harry looked around, suspiciously. “Severus?” he called.
He was spinning in a slow circle when he was abruptly hit with an extremely cold, very well-placed snowball on the back of his neck. Harry gasped, then spun around in time to see a black-clad figure disappear behind a large rock formation.
When another snowball came flying, he ducked and made for the cover of a nearby tree. Grinning, he braced himself against the bark and loaded up with more ammunition. When he turned to throw it, he received a snowball right in the face.
Surprised, he stumbled backwards and sat down hard in the snow. As he tried to scrub the snow off his glasses, he heard hurried footsteps.
“Harry? Are you all right?”
Harry finally got some semblance of vision through the wet lenses and squinted up at his guardian’s slightly anxious face. He still felt an inexplicable warmth when Severus showed concern for him. He resisted the urge to try to prolong the feeling, knowing that the snowball fight that was about to ensue would probably be worth it.
“I’m fine,” he assured, holding out a hand. “Help me up.”
Severus dutifully grasped his hand. But before he could tug, Harry pulled as hard as he could. The great and menacing Potions Master toppled into the snow drift beside his charge.
Snickering, Harry quickly pushed himself to his feet and took off.
“Potter!” came the roar from behind him, urging him on.
Thus the game began. Harry took refuge behind the same rocks Snape had moments before and began hurriedly making more snowballs. He began carefully throwing them, ducking back into cover quickly. Snowballs struck the other side of the rocks as Snape gave as good as he was getting. It was surprising how good the man was at this.
This went on for quite a while. Harry abandoned the rocks for other cover, and they made a wide circle around each other. Eventually, Harry managed to double back and began stalking his prey. He knew Snape was stalking him in return, but he had the advantage. He was behind the older man. He carefully, quietly made his way into firing range. Then he knelt to pack a new snowball, as big as he could make it and still expect it to fly. Then he stood, and waited for the right moment.
Snape stopped nearby, carefully scanning the trees. Harry gave a slightly sinister smile, then aimed, and fired.
It struck true, splattering over dark hair. Snape froze, then turned slowly to face him.
And despite knowing that he was in for it now, Harry burst into giggles. Though the typical glare was in place, the fearsome Potions Master now looked like a wet, bedraggled, black-haired snowman.
The glare didn’t worry him. He knew he was really in trouble when a smirk took its place. But by that point, he was laughing too hard to get very far before he was tackled into the snow.
Gentle but insistent hands turned him onto his back. Then snow was being pushed between his scarf and the neck of his coat. He gasped and squirmed as cold suddenly trickled down his chest, though he was still laughing. “Stop, it’s cold! It’s cold!” he squealed between giggles.
“You wanted to play, Mr. Potter,” Snape intoned as if they were merely having a conversation about potion ingredients instead of wrestling in the snow like two 10-year-olds.
Harry tried to wriggle away, but Snape was bigger and stronger, and he had another handful of snow.
And besides, the man was actually smiling.
That was a rare occurrence with Snape, too rare. Harry was willing to have a little snow stuffed down in his shirt in exchange for the smile.
He still squirmed as the cold trickled over his skin. “It’s cold and it tickles!” he protested, still sniggering.
Snape finally relented, shifting to kneel beside him and pulling him into a sitting position. As Harry righted the glasses that had been knocked askew, Severus reached out to tousle his hair, getting rid of some of the snow that had taken up residence there. Harry went still and simply watched the man. Snape was looking at him with an expression that could only be described as fond affection. And despite the cold on his chest, Harry felt a stab of warmth in his heart.
He shivered as he felt a chunk of snow slide down to his stomach. Severus noticed and stood, reaching out a hand. “Come on. Let’s get you inside before you freeze.”
Harry took the offered hand and allowed Snape to pull him to his feet. They both stood for a moment brushing snow from their clothes, then turned back towards the school. Harry shivered again involuntarily, and Severus casually draped an arm around his shoulders to pull him into his warmth.
They were almost to the doorway before Snape paused, pulling Harry to a stop with him. Harry looked up at his guardian questioningly, then followed his gaze.
They had an audience.
Dumbledore gave them a knowing grin as Snape began moving again. “I’m glad to see you two enjoying this beautiful day,” he said, innocently enough.
Harry smiled. “Did you see our snowball fight, Professor?”
“I must admit Harry, I found it quite enchanting.”
“I think he won,” Harry put in with a mock pout. “I got in a couple of good shots though.”
“You certainly did. Severus, I do believe that is snow in your hair.”
Harry glanced at Snape, then took the dark look he was shooting at the Headmaster as his cue to take off down the hallway.
A short time later, Harry sat on the couch in front of the fireplace in Snape’s quarters. He was nice and dry now, and quickly warming up. Severus was in the bathroom changing his own clothes and probably attempting to dry his hair.
Harry couldn’t believe how good that little snowball fight had felt. For an afternoon, he’d forgotten all about Voldemort and the prophecy. The only things that had mattered were Severus and the snow.
But, as invariably happened when he came down from a high point, the reality of his life was now rushing back. Happiness couldn’t last, not for him. He’d seen too much, lost too much.
He had so much more to lose.
His dark thoughts were interrupted by Snape’s reappearance from the bathroom. “Potter, there are puddles on my bathroom floor.”
Despite the encroaching melancholy, Harry couldn’t help but smile. “Someone must have put some clumps of snow down my shirt, clumps that melted completely when they fell on your bathroom floor. Can’t imagine who.”
“Potter,” Snape growled threateningly. Harry was not concerned. Snape shook his head in resignation and went back into the bathroom, presumably to wipe up the puddles. Harry went back to watching the fire, smile fading.
The flames were mesmerizing. He didn’t look up when Snape came back out; didn’t even notice, really, until the couch sank beside him.
He looked over to find Severus studying him closely. “Something is wrong?” he questioned, though it was more a statement of fact and a prompt to talk.
“Not really, it’s just…I love the happy moments like this afternoon. But when they’re over, everything comes crashing back. And it all seems to be even heavier than normal,” he tried to explain.
Snape nodded slightly, then reached out a hand to very gently stroke his hair. “I am sorry for the burden you must bear, Harry.”
Harry nodded, a lump forming in his throat. He looked away, but conversely leaned into the slight touch.
Snape responded to the action, moving an inch or two closer and laying his arm across the back of the couch. He looked intently at Harry as he whispered, “I cannot promise you that everything will turn out all right.”
Harry looked up to meet his gaze, then took the invitation that the posture offered. He curled against his guardian and rested his head on a solid shoulder. He felt Snape shift to rub slow circles over his back, comfortingly. Finally he responded, “I know. I’m not asking you to. I’m used to this feeling by now; I can handle it.” After a moment he added, “It is nice to have someone to help, though.”
Fingers curled so they could scratch lightly at his lower back. “Happy to do my part,” Snape stated sedately.
Harry nestled a bit closer, picking at a thread in Snape’s shirt. “I’ve learned to appreciate what I have, since there’s no guarantee on how long I’ll get to keep it.”
There was a moment of silence, then, “You do have me, Mr. Potter. Surprising as that still seems at times, you certainly have me.”
Harry broke into a wide smile, which he kept hidden against his guardian’s chest. That type of declaration usually didn’t come unless Snape thought he was asleep and could not hear. The afternoon had clearly affected them both.
And Snape wasn’t done yet. “I will be here as long as I am able,” Severus promised softly, solemnly.
Harry twisted a bit to look up into serious dark eyes. “So will I,” he returned in kind.
He leaned back against the older man’s shoulder as they both went quiet. And Harry thought, yes, it’s the little things that mean so much. Things like a snowball down his shirt, or puddles on a bathroom floor, or the knowledge that a pout could get Severus Snape to play. Or the current little things that were keeping him grounded—the warmth and light friction of the hand on his back and the warm body he was snuggled against.
Tomorrow would probably bring pain. But for today, Harry Potter was happy.