The following day, Potter practically burst into Snape’s rooms, and Madam Pomfrey, who had been giving Snape his daily dose of anti-venom, shrieked and spilled half the serum on Snape’s bandages.
“Mr. Potter!” shouted Pomfrey.
“I’m sorry Poppy, I’m just so excited, I was able to find him- Augustus Pye!”
Forgetting her anger, Poppy clapped her hands and said, “oh, well that’s just wonderful news! And I’m assuming, by the look on your face, that he’s agreed-”
“-Yes! He said he’d be delighted to help me and he’ll be here tomorrow after breakfast!” As he spoke, he sat down on his cot and inserted the IV himself.
“No, not yet Harry, I’ve just been summoned to the student’s ward, and we need to do something about Severus’ bandages.” She uncorked another vile of the potion, gave half to Snape, and continued, “no cleaning charm will get this mess out, besides, he’s due for a change. I’ll let you handle this, shall I?” Before the boy could answer, she had already closed the door behind her.
Potter scratched the back of his head, “I’m sorry professor, it looks like she’s left you with no choice. I’ll have to do your bandages this time.”
“So be it,” replied Snape.
Harry looked momentarily shocked by Snape’s quick acquiescence, his hand pausing its motion in his mess of hair, but then he hurried over to the cupboard and got a fresh set of bindings.
“Madam Pomfrey showed me how to do this already, so you’re in...relatively good hands.” He poured a small amount of clear liquid in a dish and let the bandages soak in them. “I’m just letting them absorb some of this serum that allows the blood to clot on contact-”
“-I know Potter,” Snape practically growled.
“Right. Er-,” Potter paused and looked momentarily at a loss for what to do. He took a deep breath, then carried the dish over to Snape’s bedside table. “Can you sit up on your own yet Professor?”
“I believe I am able to.” Snape didn’t actually know this, but he hated appearing so weak and helpless. With more effort than he would ever admit, he sat up and leaned forward so Potter could properly wrap the bandages around him.
“I’m going to take the dirty bandages off by hand, alright? I’ve magicked the fresh ones to apply themselves directly where the last one’s were.”
Poppy usually did both by magic, but Potter probably felt more confident that he wouldn’t unintentionally harm Snape this way. Snape closed his eyes as he felt shaking fingers begin to loosen the bandage covering his neck. Potter took his time, surprising Snape in his care. He could feel Potter’s breath by his ear, could almost hear the concentration the boy exuded while he made sure not to hurt Snape. By the time Harry began on the second binding covering Snape’s upper torso, he felt strangely relaxed and light, as though his body weighed nothing. The boy’s ministrations were much gentler than Poppy’s, and much more soothing. As though answering his thoughts, the boy said, “We’re running short, but I’ve added a bit of Murtlap Essence to the new bandages.”
Snape was almost disappointed when Potter finished. Though it was partially the drowsiness induced by the anti-venom he had consumed, and the soothing properties of Murtlap Essence, he couldn’t remember the last time he had felt so at peace.
He didn’t open his eyes until he heard the creak of the cot next to him and Potter’s yawn interrupt what he was about to say. He looked over to see Potter settling on his side, the IV already attached to his arm. Potter began again, “Augustus Pye was one of Arthur Weasley’s healers after he was attacked by Nagini. Unfortunately, his trainer was killed during the war, and Augustus has been very busy, but he’s agreed to help me. I haven’t told him who he’s healing, but Minerva told me she’ll deal with that tomorrow morning.” The boy gave a content smile and yawned again. “I think I might fall asleep here Professor, I hope you don’t’ mind too much.”
He watched the boy, his breath growing slow and steady in a matter of minutes. No, Snape thought, he didn’t mind. Not too much anyway, he grinned to himself.
It was decided that they would disguise Snape for Augustus Pye’s visit. Minerva transfigured his face so that his hair became temporarily brown, a scar marred his cheek, and she added a small moustache and goatee, not unlike Karkaroff’s. Pompfrey charmed his medical records so that his name appeared as Ambrosius Ashdown to an unwary eye.
Pye seemed fairly adept. He was particularly intrigued by the intravenous drip (“such an ingenious muggle contraption!), which irked Snape, but he also came prepared. Potter had apparently told him that Arthur and Snape were attacked by the same snake, however it had been imbued with powerful dark magic while attacking the latter (for obvious reasons, they could not tell Pye that the snake had been a horcrux for the Dark Lord). Pye provided them with the same antidote used on Arthur that, if they were lucky, would eventually rid all traces of the poison from Snape’s bloodstream. Then came the difficult part:
“Mr. Ashdown, do you have any knowledge of this dark magic the snake possessed at the time of your attack? I’m afraid you won’t be able to recover properly unless we can identify it and use the appropriate counter-magic.” Pye regarded Snape for an answer.
Snape coughed and looked at Minerva, who looked at Poppy, who looked at Potter. The boy stared Pye directly in the eye and said, “it was a horcrux.”
Pye gaped at Potter, and then gave a terrible wobble. Minerva transfigured a chair behind him just in time, and Poppy rushed forward to make sure he was okay. Snape didn’t know whether the situation was morbidly hilarious, or downright mad. The boy had backbone, of that he was certain.
Potter continued, “I’m very sorry for the bluntness Mr. Pye, but Ambrosius means a great deal to me, to all of us, and I think it best you know the entirety of what’s afflicting him.”
Yes, thought Snape. The situation was mad. Utterly and completely mad.
After several long moments and many deep breaths, Pye finally spoke, “Yes... no sense beating around the broomstick...,” he pressed his fingers into his eyes, removed them, and blinked, as though the whole thing had been a silly dream. He looked at Potter “I’m afraid I know very little about...about that kind of terrible magic Mr. Potter. I understand what it entails, but for a living creature to be a carrier...”
“The snake is dead. The horcrux is destroyed, as well as its creator,” said Potter.
“Ah, well, I suppose that does make things a bit less complicated....” A look of horrible apprehension dawned on Pye’s face, “you mean to tell me- that was....that was you know who’s Snake that....oh dear.” Pye sagged down further in the chair
Potter spoke again, “Yes, it was Voldemort’s snake that attempted to kill Ambrosius, but you musn’t be afraid Mr. Pye. Voldemort is dead. I saw him die. He’s no longer any threat to you.”
Pye looked up at him. “You’ve been so brave Mr. Potter, I can’t see any reason in failing to show a fraction of your bravery myself.” He swallowed audibly, but stood up and faced the group. “As I said, I know very little about that kind of dark magic, I’ve only heard whispers and rumours. Considering everything now connected to Mr. Ashdown’s bite is either dead or destroyed, I strongly feel that we can treat this like a case of level five dark magic.”
“Ah yes,” cut in Poppy, “similar to the hazard rating we give to magical creatures, injuries or illnesses that were inflicted with dark magic fall under a certain rank. Depending on what level of mediwizard you are, you’re trained to know how to deal with most levels of dark magic.”
Pye continued, “Considering Mr. Weasley’s case was similar and resulted in success, the best way to approach this is by deciphering any differences between the effects Mr. Weasley and Mr. Ashdown experienced from the attack.
Potter answered this time. “Both Arthur and Ambrosius began to receive treatment about one hour after the attack. Arthur needed to take blood-replenishing potions every hour for about five days following the attack, the same for Ambrosius. Unlike Arthur, Ambrosius must undergo daily blood transfusions, because for some reason, the poison becomes too concentrated in his bloodstream without it. Blood-replenishers only duplicate the cells already in your body right? I suppose that’s why he needs the fresh stuff.” Potter paused briefly before continuing, “I guess he’s also needed to wear the medicated bandages for a longer period of time, because the wounds aren’t healing nearly as fast.”
Pye thought about this for a moment before replying, “What we need then, is a more concentrated dose of this special anti-venom. The problem is, this is the most concentrated and powerful poison antidote I know of.”
Potter suddenly hit his palm to his forehead, “I’ve been so stupid! What about a bezoar?” What a surprise, thought Snape, the boy could retain information.
“I’m afraid that is already a key ingredient in this antidote, Mr. Potter.” The boy looked completely crestfallen.
“No,” continued Pye, “unless any of you have any ideas, I’ll have to research this matter. Continue everything you’ve been doing so far, but replace the standard anti-venom with the special formula I’ve brought- there should be enough to last you about a week, and I’ll get back to you by owl as fast as I can. Maybe we’ll get lucky and the new formula will be enough.”