Arc One: August
Chapter One: Awake
Date: July 5, 2011
Time: 10: 32 am
“I hope you don’t mind me doing this. Seeing as you’re currently unconscious I’d say you’re in no position to argue at the moment.”
There was a pause, then:
“I’m not supposed to be here right now, you know. Visiting hours at Mungo’s don’t start until eleven. I had to play up the ‘war hero’ bit with the girl at the front desk so I could get back here before the reporters could catch me.”
Green eyes covered with round glasses gave the unmoving body on the hospital bed a quick once over, lingering over the scarred neck, then turned sad. Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived Twice, slumped in the uncomfortable plastic chair and sighed.
“When will you wake up, Professor Snape?”
Date: July 17, 2011
Time: 1:05 pm
Harry stared out the window to the busy street below. Muggles walked at a brisk pace past the Wizarding hospital St. Mungo’s, and it never ceased to amaze him how so many people could be so close to something so magical, but so far away at the same time.
“Hey, Professor Snape, do you ever wonder how many of them want to be like us? How many of them like to pretend they can do magic, thinking it isn’t real, but…here we are.”
Harry turned to look over his shoulder at the pale, black haired Potions Master. He didn’t move. Harry slowly crossed to his bedside and sat down.
“Professor Snape?” No answer. “Did you ever want to be like the Muggles and pretend nothing happened? I know I do, sometimes.”
Even though there was no answer, Harry could practically hear the derisive insults Professor Snape would give him if he had heard his desperate tone; how incredibly weak he sounded. He shook his head.
“Never mind. But while we’re on the subject of ignorance, d’you mind if I call you ‘Severus’? Calling you Professor Snape is too much of a mouthful.”
“Good,” Harry slouched in his chair and flipped open a magazine. “Glad we’re in agreement.”
Date: July 20, 2011
Time: 3:45 pm
Harry straightened up suddenly, the thick potions book he had been reading aloud sliding to the floor.
“Oh, I forgot to tell you,” he reached down to pick the book up before hurriedly leaning forward to deliver the good news, “Kingsley’s been named the new Minister of Magic. Some people in the Order were upset, I think they wanted the position, but I’m glad. I think the Wizarding World could do with a man in charge who finally knows what he’s doing. What do you think, Severus?”
The older man only breathed steadily in reply. Harry slumped back and frowned.
“I know you’re stubborn and all, but you don’t have to keep this up. People are waiting for you.”
Date: July 29, 2011
Time: 11:01 pm
“You couldn’t have given me at least a little bit of warning?”
Harry didn’t bother with his usual greetings as he entered Severus’ hospital room. He flung himself down in his usual chair and pulled a rolled piece of newspaper from his robes. They were new, neatly pressed. He had to give a speech later about the war. He didn’t want to.
“Dumbledore showed up; guess you knew about that too, huh?” Harry opened the paper and turned to the second page. “First, I see this in the paper, then he shows up on my doorstep—well, it’s Sirius’s house, but you get the idea—saying he’s proud of my work and that I’ve done nicely! Old man. I knew all that eye twinkling had gone to his head. Listen to this: “…The famous wizard, Albus Dumbledore, was spotted a few days ago leaving Hogwarts School, which is currently under reconstruction. No reports have been made as to where exactly he’s been hiding, but witnesses have confirmed that this is in fact the very same man who was reportedly blown off the Astronomy tower by his faithful servant and Death Eater, Severus Snape, two years ago. Was the great wizard really dead all along, or did our Boy Who Lived spread his Death-defying powers to his favourite mentor? No comments as of yet from the Hogwarts staff, or Harry Potter on Dumbledore’s return’.”
The teen folded the paper down to sneak a peek at Severus. The corner of his mouth twitched. It wasn’t much, but it was enough.
Date: July 31, 2011
Time: 10:27 pm
The small hospital room was dark, casting long shadows from the moonlight that streamed in from the windows. Everything was still in the quiet of the night, including the bed’s occupant. Severus didn’t even twitch was the door creaked open slowly and shut quickly. There was a slight shimmer of the air near the door, then:
“I’ll only be a mo,” Harry crossed the room, his golden robes glinting brightly to make the dark room a bit lighter. “I’ve only just managed to sneak away from the party the Order is throwing for my eighteenth birthday.”
He set his invisibility cloak down on the bed and stared down at Severus’s face. It was the first time he had been able to visit all day, and, the one time it seemed he didn’t come during the day, was the time Severus showed true progress. His skin wasn’t the unhealthy pasty white it had been, and his lips were flushed with colour. Even his black hair, which used to be greasy from being around potion fumes, was cut and didn’t look as lanky framing his face.
Not too much longer now.
Harry leaned down and, even though there was no one else around to possibly hear him, whispered softly, “I wished for you to wake up.”
Date: August 8, 2011
Time: 2:00 pm
Condition: Very Good
“Today was the day.”
Harry waited, just as he always did, to see if he would get a response. When there was none, he continued. Just like always.
“I had to meet with the Wizengamont about Dumbledore’s involvement in the war,” Harry ran a hand through his messy black hair. “Yours, too. It went…well. I showed them some of my memories and Dumbledore showed some of his. Together, it was enough. Severus,” he smiled at the sleeping man, “it’s over. You’re free.”
Harry let out a bark of laughter and slumped in his chair. It had been a stressful week for him. He had been pulling strings left and right to keep those he knew to be innocent out of Azkaban. Severus was one of them. Draco Malfoy was the other.
“I wanted to get you an Order of Merlin, you know, for everything you’ve done,” Harry said softly. “I managed to get you one without you having to go through the ceremony bit later, but Hermione said we should do something more. I didn’t think you’d appreciate it.”
The answering silence seemed almost grateful, though that might have just been Harry’s wishful thinking.
“You should wake up. Soon would be good. The Wizarding World is rebuilding itself. You would like it, I think, but you have to wake up first. Even Hogwarts is almost finished with renovations. It repaired without any help. Did you know it could do that?”
He was babbling. He knew it. His fists clenched and he stood quickly. The thought hadn’t occurred to him, but what if Severus never woke up? What if…
“Well, I’ve got to go. But…Hogwarts starts back in a few weeks,” Harry looked over his shoulder when he reached the door. “I’m going back, and so are Hermione and Ron. For once, I’d like to think that this will be a peaceful year. No dark lords trying to kill me every other class. You can be a regular teacher now, too, since you don’t have to worry about what Voldemort will think. I don’t think you’d want anybody taking over your position as Potions professor, so you should wake up and come back. Nobody can torture your students quite like you.
“Please, Severus. Just…wake up.”
Date: August 8, 2011
Time: 2:05 pm
Condition: Very Good
Severus Snape opened his eyes after the door to his hospital room clicked shut. He stretched his limbs, which creaked from being stiff for so long, and sat up slowly, allowing himself a small wince at the tiny bolts of pain that shot through his neck. He messaged the place where Nagini had bitten him and swallowed.
For the past week, he had been awake. He had heard everything that was going on around him while his visitors thought him to be unconscious. Including when Harry was around. He was always hovering over Severus, and it bothered him to no end.
“Insolent child,” Severus muttered more out of habit than anything else. His voice, which had always been deep and smooth, was gravely and cracked to his ears. The healers, he sneered mentally, obviously haven’t administered the correct dosage of the Muscle Fuser potion; otherwise I wouldn’t sound so weak. The sooner I’m out of this wretched place and back in my own home, the better.
“Now, now Severus. He did save your life. The least you could do is put his worries at ease.” Dumbledore walked into the room, his quiet appearance making Severus frown.
“And why should I?” Severus snapped. “He is nothing more than a child, waiting for the chance to use my weaknesses against me. Something you foolishly lead me to believe was necessary.”
The elderly wizard gave him a disapproving look.
“You know as well as I that Harry will do no such thing,” Dumbledore replied calmly. “He has stayed beside you these past few weeks, coming here daily, and encouraging you to wake from your unconscious state. He has asked for nothing in return.”
Severus narrowed his eyes. He clutched the white bed sheets in his hands. He knew what Potter wanted and he wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. He did not want to discuss his pensieve memories with the brat. Ever.
His shoulders tensed, but he raised his gaze to find Dumbledore staring at him almost…pityingly.
“Harry understands,” Dumbledore said after a moment. “He does not wish to relive the days of war, but move forward. If the reason you pretend to sleep when Harry comes is because you think he will mock your memories, then I implore you to see reason. Harry is above such petty things.”
Severus couldn’t help scoffing, but Dumbledore continued as if he hadn’t.
“Since this is nothing like your normal behavior, Severus, I assume you will stop pretending to be half dead any day now and swiftly begin your miraculous recovery. Time is running short.”
“Are you going to ask more of me, Albus?” Severus asked quietly. “After all that I’ve given you? Was it not enough?”
Dumbledore smiled at the thin figure that was Severus Snape.
“Yes, it was,” he admitted. “But I ask this of you, not for me, but for you.”
Severus opened his mouth to speak, but closed it. Albus was right. He was always right and the bastard knew it. Damn…
Seeing the fight drain from his face, Dumbledore patted Severus on the shoulder and started back towards the door.
“I think I might find this year at Hogwarts to be the most exciting yet,” he commented cheerily.
“Why? With Potter around, nothing will ever be normal,” Severus muttered.
“Because, my dear old friend,” Dumbledore turned and the sight of the twinkle in his blue eyes made the Potions Master want to wince. That was never a good sign. “Pretending to be dead can become terribly exhausting. I’m looking forward to being alive this year. Aren’t you?”
Severus just glared suspiciously.
“Your usual seat will be open. I’ll be expecting you two days before the start of term,” Dumbledore called behind him as the door closed.
With a growl that had his throat aching, Severus reclined back on the pillows and scowled. As much as he didn’t want to admit it, Albus was right. For the first time in years he was a free man, and returning to Hogwarts would give him a sense of peace. He could finally teach the way he had always wanted without worrying if he was keeping up the correct image in front of the children of Death Eaters that would report his every move to the Dark Lord. There would be no more summons from the Dark Lord, having to act through scenarios with Dumbledore as to have something to produce while being tortured, or returning to the gates of Hogwarts bloody and trembling, but relieved at being able to survive one more night.
Severus recalled the words Harry had spoken before leaving his room:
“For once, I’d like to think that this will be a peaceful year. No dark lords trying to kill me every other class. You can be a regular teacher now, too, since you don’t have to worry about what Voldemort will think.”
“‘A peaceful year’,” Severus mused, rubbing at the scars on his throat. With the right potions, the internal and external scarring would be gone completely. He would sound like the same, menacing Potions Master he had been.
“We’ll see, won’t we, Mr. Potter?”