Chapter Eight: Enlightenment and Experimentation
The question hit Harry like a Stupify curse with the same- albeit temporary- results, leaving him speechless for several moments. "... What were you like? Erm. Well. Uh, you taught. And gave out detentions. And... told us when you thought we were being idiots- shouldn't we try and figure out what potions those are?" Harry finished in an uncomfortable rush.
Snape's eyes were still dark as they studied Harry, but they lacked the glacial disdain that were their customary occupants. Instead curiosity lingered there until the man gave a small sigh, "Unless you can identify them by smell or I have an epiphany, I doubt we'll be able to do that without testing them out on something. And unless they can be ... enlarged, there is little enough in them to be wasted on tests."
With a sudden determination to keep Snape off the subject of Harry's past opinion of the Potions master, Harry reached for the box, "Well then, let's see what we can smell." Snape snorted quietly at the statement, but reluctantly handed over the opened hematite box.
Harry squinted through his broken glasses as he peered at the tiny bottles nestled in the black velvet. Two of the bottles were filed with a clear green liquid, the containers themselves having the sleek and graceful curves of a fancy wine bottle. The third was an amber-like color contained in a rectangular bottle with a large square stopper at the top. Harry felt some relief at recognizing the contents of the last bottle- he hoped. "Hey, this bottle looks exactly like the ones Madame Pomphrey used when she gave me some Draught of the Living Death once... And that bottle was a normal sized one, not tiny."
"So then," Snape murmured, "We know that at least one of the bottles should be enlarged, so the same might be true of the others." In a mildly humoring tone of voice, Snape asked, "What did that draught do for you; it sounds rather unpleasant."
"That's what I thought at first," Harry smirked, forgetting his troubles for the moment as he shifted his seat on the rough wooden floor so that he blocked the slanting sunlight from Snape's face again. Finding a terrible sort of amusement in lecturing his Potions master about his own potions, Harry continued, "Actually what it does is puts you into a very deep sleep that prevents any dreaming." With a small snicker, he added, "It's asphodel in an infusion of wormwood."
The older man blinked once, his lips slowly framing the words 'asphodel' and 'wormwood', seeming to test them out... to analyze the rhythm of the syllables. "Let me see that bottle," was the firm request afterwards.
Delicately prizing the bottle from its velvety home, Harry held it up for Snape's inspection, the liquid inside the half-full bottle shimmering as it moved in Harry's trembling hand.
//"A bitter taste on the tongue, a heavy weight on the mind." Severus heard his Potions professor comment as he lectured. "There is a reason the potion was given its rather melodramatic label, and that is due to its long-term side effects. The Draught of Living Death is useful as a restorative when applied properly, however it is not recommended for repetitive use." The elder professor slowly paced the front of the room as he continued on, delving into other medicinal potions, his pace deliberate as he cast occasional glances at his students to measure their attentiveness.
After class, Lucius approached Severus as they returned to their dormitory. "An interesting potions class today," he commented before the door closed behind them, securing their privacy. "I wonder what sort of side effects the Living Death potion would cause; sounds perfectly insidious. Do you think that Tom would be interested?"
Severus set his book bag on his bed before settling there himself, the darkness of the green curtains contrasting with the paleness of his pallor which had increased over the last year. "The Draught of Living Death," Severus corrected, "Is not a new invention; I am certain that Tom knows all about it and its properties. It is insidious, true, but that insidiousness is in the potential harm it can cause one to do to oneself when it is being taken to... relieve oneself. The problems that the draught is usually given for are minor issues. But when faced with chronic problems at their worst, it will usually result in the user wanting or needing to take repetitive doses despite the fact that the draught is not addictive. On top of that, the body can build up an immunity to some of the effects, so that a larger dose would be required as well. Thus you can see that unmonitored, a person can quite easily do a great deal of harm to himself without realizing it."
"But what are the long-term effects?" Lucius inquired, his eyes sparkling with interest as he sat opposite Severus on his bed.
"As this is a potion that affects the mind which is linked to how one uses one's magic, the effects are changeable and according to the individual. Past cases... and past testing... have ranged from radical personality changes to total insanity," Severus murmured, his eyes lowered to the green bedspread and the Slytherin crest before him.//
"... Profess- Severus?"
Severus' brow furrowed at the lowered level of liquid in the bottle before he looked back up at Harry. "I believe that I am ... slowly recalling things. I just remembered a conversation that I had once about this... potion." Deciding there was something dark he didn't like about the memory that he didn't want to discuss, Severus pointed to the small box Harry held. "Let me see the others."
Harry replaced the tiny bottle containing the Draught of Living Death and carefully took out one of the twin bottles for inspection, holding it up to the light within Severus' view. It quietly sparkled like liquid emerald, a match for the boy's eyes behind the damaged glasses. "Open it, please. But don't smell it; let me do that in case it is harmful."
"But you're still hurt," Harry objected.
"All the more reason to make certain at least one of us is fully functional. And if I used to be your professor, it would be more than remiss of me to allow you to come to harm."
Wide eyed, Harry delicately held the open bottle towards Severus. From instinct, Severus first held his hand briefly near the bottle's opening but felt no reaction, then wafted the fumes towards himself as he remained reclined. Wordless thoughts flickered through his head with fleeting touches which began to solidify themselves more when Harry nervously touched his right arm. "Hmmmmm. Mandrake, I think.... I smell Mandrake which is in most restorative draughts."
"That's great," Harry exclaimed, perhaps at the news of what the potion might be or perhaps that Severus was remembering more. Whichever it was, the boy seemed just a little more animated than before... which gave Severus something else to wonder about. Why had the boy been given a dose of the Draught of Living Death?
Severus' attention was drawn away when the boy had set down the bottle on the cloth at Severus' side to reach into the box for the other one. After a few moments of being untouched, the bottle seemed to shift- and then grow in size until it looked like it might hold a half a liter of liquid. "Well," Severus noted, a little breathless at his first actual witnessing of magic while awake, "That seems to have answered that little problem."
For a moment Harry grinned a bit manically as though witnessing the first sign of salvation in far too long before he put down the box and grabbed for the enlarged bottle. "I hope you don't mind drinking from this."
"I believe that considering the circumstances I can forgo the goblet. I'll require some aid in sitting up enough, however." Harry shifted around at Severus' side for better leverage before Severus felt a cool hand and arm slowly insinuate itself under his neck and back. For a moment the movement sparked pain, but it swiftly subsided before he was lifted enough that the contents of the bottle wouldn't pour over him before he could swallow it.
"Try just a little at first," Harry suggested, lifting the heavier bottom end of the bottle and letting Severus guide the bottle's mouth. Severus shot the boy a mild glare at the suggestion that he'd considered doing differently.
The droplets he tried were surprisingly refreshing despite the sharp unpleasantness of the taste. That sharpness made him feel just a little more aware, however, and he made an intrigued noise as a comment to Harry before taking a small mouthful and swallowing. "Calendula," Severus murmured thoughtfully. With a slight shiver he added, "Caffeine or Ephedra. Definitely a restorative," he noted as he was feeling much better. Taking a last careful swallow, Severus lifted the bottle's mouth towards Harry. "You should have a little as well; you may not be wounded, but you look worse for wear and bruised."
Eyeing Severus, Harry muttered, "I don't have to ask if you've recovered your memory," before setting the container down and lowering Severus back to the floor. Harry picked up the bottle again and thoroughly wiped its mouth with the least soiled spot of his shirt, hesitantly taking the advised sip. All Severus could do is wonder again at what was behind Harry's words and feel sheer relief at the gradual lessening of his body's pains.
"It appears to be getting towards evening. Unless you think the pursuer you mentioned would come upon us soon, I would suggest resting here for the night and letting the potion do its work. I should be able to move tomorrow if my improvement from this morning continues." Severus paused to measure Harry's reaction before adding, "You have looked towards my health and safety, Harry, and I would like to thank you."
Severus didn't know whether to be amused, concerned or irritated at the renewed expression of shock on Harry's face.
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