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I Still Believe (HPFF; HP/SS)
by: Swanky

Rating: PG-13
Summary: Harry Potter has gone missing and most of the wizarding world has given up hope for his return. Ron refuses to believe that Harry would abandon the world and people he so loved. Finally, everyone's prayers are answered.
Warnings: Character Death, established relationship
Diclaimer: The boys are not mine, they belong to JkR. I make no money off of this, and I promise that once I am done playing I will return them relatively unharmed...


I Sitll Believe

Once upon a time I thought love was never ending

Ron reread the sprawled sentence for the millionth time. It had been three months to the day that he woke up to find Harry’s bed empty, only a folded piece of parchment with the one cryptic sentence written on it, resting on the pillow. Around him, the world had begun to lose hope. Harry Potter was not coming back, he would never be found, and You-Know-Who would soon make his last attack on Hogworts and the light would lose.

The Order had been in a sad state before Harry’s disappearance. Just a week before, He Who Must Not Be Named had attacked Hogsmead, taking down several Order members, including Mad-Eye Moody, Remus Lupin and Minerva McGonagall. Harry spent the next four days in Snape’s quarters. Extensive silencing charms must have been used on the room, and Madam Pomphrey must have visited several times, because when they finally emerged neither appeared permanently damaged. Ron was in awe. Snape had managed to step in front of a Crucio on its way to Harry, but the man had saved him before and Harry still hated him.

Ron had expected to spend hours in the Gryffindor common room with Hermione trying to get Harry to talk about how he felt. He had expected Harry to withdraw and brood over the loss of Remus, like he had done when Sirius fell through the Veil. He had not expected Harry to hole himself up with the one man he hated more than anything. And he had most certainly not expected that they would both live to tell the tale.

Not that either of them did tell the tale. There was no explanation given, from Harry or from Snape. That night, when Snape was called off to another Death Eater meeting, Harry sat forlornly in the common room, as close to the floo as possible. When Ron asked him what he was doing, he didn’t even look up from the flame when he absent-mindedly answered “Waiting for word.”

When whatever word he was waiting for had not come by morning when Ron gently woke Harry, still sitting in the same chair next to the fireplace, Harry went straight to the headmaster. Ron didn’t know what the headmaster had told Harry, and he suspected that he never would, but when Harry silently crawled into the Charms classroom he looked more battered and tired then ever before. After class, Harry didn’t respond when Hermione tried to tell him he was going the wrong way, that the dungeons were downstairs, he just continued climbing the enchanted stairs as if in a daze.

That was the last time anyone had seen Harry Potter.

Ron and Hermione knew that something was not right with their friend, but didn’t have the time to press the issue as Potions was due to start any moment. Snape was not in the room, as usual but the man never missed an opportunity to make a dramatic entrance. Only today the swirl of his robes and the scowl on his face were made even more impressive by his insubstantial form. Even as a ghost the man was a drama queen. Though, Ron had to admit that he was impressed that Snape managed to make his incorporeal robes snap.

When Harry did not return to Gryffindor tower before Ron and Hermione slipped off to bed, neither had thought much of it. Harry had spent many of his fitful nights roaming the castle halls. But when he had not returned by morning and Ron found the folded parchment where his friend’s sleeping form should have been, they knew something was amiss.

The entire Order searched for Harry, but despite the collective effort of some two hundred witches and wizards, the Boy Who Lived remained The Boy At Large. It had been three months to the day since Harry disappeared, and it seemed that even Hermione, with her undying optimism, had lost hope of ever finding him. Everyone was about ready to give up and hand the world over to You-Know-Who -- everyone but Ron. Ron would never give up hope. He knew Harry better than anyone, and Harry would not leave the world to fend for itself against the most powerful Evil Lord ever seen. Not when he knew that he was the world’s only hope of defeating him, not even if he wasn’t The Boy Who Lived. No, Ron knew that Harry would be back; that once again, Harry would save the day.

Ron was snapped out of his musing by the morning bell. It was time for breakfast, and if he was late Hermione would go into fits. After loosing so many friends, she seemed terrified that one day she would wake up and Ron would have left her as well. Ron carefully folded the wrinkled parchment and placed in his back pocket, for safe keeping, as he done everyday since Harry left.

As Ron made his way down the stairs and to the Great Hall, he noticed a flicker of light from a dark and unused corridor. Silently he crept into the forgotten hallway, a shimmer of light drawing his attention in the corner. As he crept closer he recognized the disembodied light as Snape’s ghost. Ron turned to leave the ghost to his brooding, not wanting to get caught in the sour minded ghosts cross hairs. It seemed that death did nothing to improve Severus Snape’s out look on life. A familiar whisper stopped Ron in his tracks, half turned away from the ghost, and the sound.

“Severus…” The voice hissed. There was no mistaking it; that was Harry’s voice. At that moment, Ron heard cries of pain coming from the direction of the Great Hall. Ron wanted to run to the hall and make sure his friends were ok, but stopped himself when he heard Harry’s voice from behind him again. “It’s almost done.”

Harry was here, behind him, in the very same corridor, but Ron was too afraid to turn around and see him. What if he was imagining it? What if Snape was playing some cruel trick on him and imitating Harry’s voice? What if Ron was dreaming and none of this was really happening? Suddenly the far away screaming stopped and Harry’s voice broke through the deafening silence that took its place. “Once upon a time, I thought love was never ending…”

Ron spun around so quickly he almost threw himself off balance, and stared in awe as the shimmering, disembodied form of Harry Potter materialized in front of him. The two ghosts paid no attention to Ron as he stared at the picture before him, mouth slightly agape, eyes bulging out of his head. Harry wrapped his arms around Snape’s neck, pulled him close, and met his ethereal lips with his own in the sweetest kiss Ron had ever seen. Snape’s hands wrapped around Harry’s waist, pulling him impossibly closer, as Harry ran his hands through the Potion’s Masters hair. Pulling away, Harry rested his forehead against the other ghost’s, a smile playing on both their faces, and whispered ever so quietly.

“I still believe.”

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