"Do you have a death wish?"
She rips her arm out of his.
"Maybe! It'd be better than... than this!"
Conflict wells up inside her, bringing her to the brink of tears. This stuns Snape out most of his own aggression, bringing concern into his countenance, but he's still firmly cold. Harri presses on:
"I feel like my chest is going to... shred itself. I can't stand this. How can you stand this?"
Snape is at enough of a loss for words that she wells over:
"Maybe you can walk around like nothing ever happened... but I can't!"
She's half a breath away from crying. The look he gives her flickers with sorrow, but he forces a grip on himself.
“...Then try harder.”
She chokes out a furious sob and tears off. He watches her go.
It’s all he can do.
Snape unearths yet another memory of the summer they spent together, followed painfully by one of her crying alone in the hospital wing. He backs out of the spell, frustrated and at his wits end, as Harri bites back, trying to catch her breath:
“If you really refuse to talk to me about this, then stop.... rooting around for those type of memories!”
“I'm not ‘rooting around’ for anything, these are your own thoughts that you're pulling up, I’m just observing. If you don't want me prying, then-“
“I'm trying! I just... can't get you out of my head. ...Rrgh, literally!”
“Then try. Harder.”
He performs the spell again and this time Harri, furiously upset over the parallel to what he said to her in the corridor weeks before, parries it back at him, unearthing memories from all throughout the year of Snapes own private, sorrow-stricken pining for her.
“.....Severus....” She rises slowly from her seat, raw empathy guiding her towards him.
Snape, bracing himself on the desk behind him, pinches the bridge of his nose tightly, shielding his eyes. He inhales, then drops his arm firmly.
“.....These sessions are over. Get out.”
He moves in threateningly, grabbing her by the collar of her shirt to toss her out if need be.
Harri swats him off. He moves back, indignantly stunned.
She speaks slowly; levelly.
“...You meant it, didn't you? When you said that... that you loved me.”
His posture seems to drop. He answers softly. Solemnly.
“Why what, Potter;” He swoops in close to her, cutting her off sharply.
“Why have I been doing my best to keep us separated, despite your incessant attempts to cause a scene? You think I haven't noticed your constant jurying for my attention despite my clear instruction that things of any kind between us cannot continue?”
Harri is too shocked to reply.
“Because it's dangerous, Harri.”
True concern overtakes his voice.
"...Can you imagine what he'd do to you? To me, to get to you, if he knew how.... weak I was.
He straightens himself.
“....You’re not skilled enough to hide your emotions, that much is clear-“
“Well maybe it's because I don't want to!”
Snape’s callousness brings Harri back to her fury, and the words burst from her like defensive fire:
“Maybe it's dangerous; but everything is dangerous! If he can't use one door to get to me he’ll... he'll use another! And another! He always does! And right now I need someone I can rely on! Someone… who won't walk away from me. In all that.”
She looks hurt. Brave, but pleading her last.
“...You're not weak, Severus.
...and I need you.”
Hermione: "...Oh my god, Harri, were you...."
Harri: "N-no, I-"
Hermione: "With /Cho/?"
Harri: "....Yes. I mean- None of your business!"
Ron nudges her arm: "Harri! Nice."
Snape, striking Ron with a book as he strides by: “Quiet.”
Ron, mouthing: "Why is it always me he hits?"
“Ten points? It’s your fault I was late!”
“Making a professor late for his own class could be grounds for more severe punishment, you realize. You should be grateful, Potter.”
“That’s not fair!”
“...Though I suppose a repeat offense could be cause for detention… so as not to bring the whole house of Gryffindor down with you.”
“...How gracious of you, Sir.”
“You know I took Draco to the ball to make you jealous? Him being your favorite, and all. It was stupid, really.”
“I can't believe I thought- wait. You did? Oh my god, did you? Did it work?”
“Haha, bloody hell, it worked. I can't believe it.”
“I never said that.”
“It that why you were so hellbent on keeping him off of me? I thought you were just being uptight.”
“You’re good at that, you know. Being uptight.”
At some point when everyone is gathered together for a meal in the Great Hall, Harri isn't there.
While her friends wonder where she's disappeared to this time, up at the teacher's table Snape, who unbeknownst to her friends is usually the cause of her odd abscences, is just as confused as they are, and idly scans the crowd looking for her presence.
He jumps in his seat as he feels a sensation of fabric in his hand, pulling it up quickly.
Flitwick sends him an "are you okay" glance, and in return Snape takes looks to his side to find... nothing.
...Before a theory hits him, and he pulls himself together to brush it off.
He puts his hand back down under the table and as expected, Harri, under the invisibility cloak, takes it again.
Now that he knows she's there she scoots closer to lean against his leg. And she stays like that, pressed softly against him, cloaked hand in his. Being a trained spy, he knows how to keep himself from reacting... and he doesn't. He just lets her be, leaving his hand under the table and not letting on otherwise.
This is the only thing resembling being just... quietly close to him, in public, that she's ever had, and after months of pining for it at the Gryffindor table just wishing she could sit with him, she... goes up and does it.
And even if he's expressionless, the fact that he's letting her stay there is more than she expected, and all she could ever ask for.
Meanwhile, it's all Snape can do not to even just... tighten his grip on her hand. He's obligatorily irritated at her for being reckless, but mostly just because he knows he has to use every tool of composure in his arsenal not to reach out and pet her head. His heart hurts.
Next time they have an encounter she expects him to bring it up, or chide her, or something... but he doesn't. And that says more than anything he could have spoken to her.
She does it again.
She cant always, but she does it as many times as she can get away with it and have a plausible excuse for not showing up at the Gryffindor table right away.
It becomes a secret within a secret. They don't even speak of it to each other.
At some point he does something to make her upset at him, and when she doesnt show up at the table for dinner he assume she's probably run off somewhere to fume... but lo, she takes his hand. This makes him feel relieved, but terrible.
And for the first time, defying the risk of being notcied... he holds her hand back, and with the smallest movement of his thumb strokes it slowly and softly in simple apology.
Despite never apologizing to her verbally, she absolutely gets the message. She can barely keep herself from crying under the cloak.
The next time they meet, they nearly go over the edge.
...In a later instance beneath the table, maybe to get back at him for what upset her, or just another move in her game of pushing boundaries: at first she touches his leg to let him know she's there.
Then she starts moving up his leg.
Alarmed, he tries to halt her progress, but in the interest of not causing a scene he's sort of at her mercy, and she knows it.
Though Harri can't uncover herself with the cloak, she does what she can through the fabrics and as much as he's good at keeping a straight face: this is. Too much.
Before she can get very far at all he pins her invisible arm and excuses himself, flustered and fuming but thankful that he wears loose black fabric.
During further Occlumency lessons (which Harri is improving at, but will get... distracted, on occasion), he manages to infiltrate her mind to be met with a memory of her in her four-poster bed, clinging to one of his spare cloaks and, well...
He pulls out of the memory, flustered and nonplussed. “So that's... where that went…”
Harri and Snape are using the invisibility cloak to be together somewhere in the castle after hours, and part of the way through they both stop what they're doing because they hear something.
It turns out to be Draco and his gang out prowling for Dumbledore's Army, thinking they won't get caught because nobody is around.
Snape pauses and quietly inquires: "...may I borrow this?" (the invisibility cloak), and Harri nods, crouching down to hide behind a bookcase.
Meanwhile Draco and pals are wrapped up in what they're doing; Draco is examining the wall while Crabbe and Goyle are looking over his shoulders…
When quite literally out of nowhere Snape is standing directly behind them, and scares the everloving shit out of all three of them.
Draco nearly faints. Harri can barely keep herself from laughing as all three of them get punished and sent back to their dorms. Snape has to escort them out, but clandestinely leaves the cloak on a banister for her to get out of there unseen, shooting her a look/head gesture.
Harri makes her way back alone, smiling.