Chapter Fourteen: Auras and Abodes
The look that Severus sent over his shoulder only caused Harry to pause for a moment; there was irritation and frustration there, yes, but not true anger. Not enough to disuade Harry from delving into this new distraction which made him feel... something again. Made him feel like he wasn't worthless. "I wasn't able to heal like that before, and I certainly couldn't ..."
Despite himself, Severus prompted as he continued his ground-eating strides, "Couldn't what?"
Risking an outburst, Harry hesitantly replied, "... sense you."
There wasn't an outburst, but Severus' body and aura rang with a sudden tension. "... What exactly do you mean?" he ground out.
Harry's hesitation continued until Severus stepped through a patch of shadow which allowed one of the darker colors in his aura to be differentiated from others, letting Harry understand that the source of tension still was not anger but rather uncertainty and the smallest touch of fear. The instinct that was allowing Harry to understand what it was that he was seeing also drove him towards doing something to take away the fear. The darker emotions were jarring to his senses. "It's ... what allowed me to heal you earlier. It's ... new to me, yet I feel almost as though I'd always known. I just hadn't realized- been aware of it."
"What," Severus bit out, "is it?" Apparently he wasn't satisfied with a vague answer, but it was all that Harry had to give.
"I'm sorry, Severus, but I really don't know. It just started the last time your- ... mark started to hurt you, and I touched you. Actually, no... I think it might have started before then when we were in the shed. There was a few times I'd touched you and felt a tingling in my fingers afterwards. And although the healing draught certainly helped, you were really bad off at first yet still recovered more quickly than any unmagical healing would have accounted for."
Irritation took over again, pushing away the fear as Severus growled, "Watch what you say now; we'll be nearing the town soon and there can easily be people hunting or exploring in the woods." Pausing and turning towards Harry, Severus produced his wand from his sleeve, "We'd best see to the glamour now. Hold still."
With a gesture and words mutterd under his breath, Severus cast a spell at Harry who watched in amazement at how the magic interacted with the energies pooled around his aura. Trickes of light seemed to gather itself together at Severus' gesture, slowly forming itself into a subtly colored blanket shape which was then directed at and over Harry, sinking into him. Where there had been color changes in the energy, Harry noticed slight changes in himself although it wasn't constant. His skin appeared to fade in and out of being darker and his glasses appeared and disappeared on the bridge of his nose until all of the changes faded entirely.
Concerned, Harry asked, "Did it work?"
"Of course it worked. You won't be able to see it or the other changes once it's taken hold because you are too familiar with your own appearance. My own will likely fade away to you because you are expecting it to be there," Severus continued in full lecture mode, "but you will see it briefly so that you may familiarize yourself with what everyone else will be seeing. It would be rather awkward to not react correctly to anyone we might interact with who might be curious."
With that Severus repeated the process, or it seemed that he intended to. Gathering the energy with wand gestures and murmured syllables, Severus worked until another blanket shape took form- however, the shape then faded away without enveloping him first. For a few seconds, Severus looked quite different; his hair was the same color but his skin took on a more tan hue than before and his eyes lightened from an abyssal black to a dark brown. There were also subtle differences to his features; his nose was a little straighter and less hooked, and the deep grooves in his forehead were less apparent. Robes and clothes that were torn and dirty were unchanged, unlike the better fitting clothes that Harry had glimpsed in his own glamour before it faded. Without waiting for comment, Severus turned and resumed his path towards the town.
"Uh.... Severus?" Potter ventured from behind him. Again tension roiled through Snape and he slowed a step as he was caught between biting the boy's head off for his presumptiveness of using Snape's given name, frustration at the current situation as a whole, and a defensive need to keep shoring up the newly built wall around him by distancing himself- something that his anger wouldn't be of help with. As he paused, he also remembered allowing Harry to call him by his name when his memories were still eluding him. Weary and still finding his memories slowly trickling back, Snape just shook his head and didn't comment further, continuing on their trip.
Perhaps Potter was suprised by that as he had taken several steps before hearing Potter's footsteps following behind him. "... Severus, why did your glamour work differently than mine?"
Severus' shoulders tensed up again, but not as much as previously as he turned briefly to frown at the boy. "I already implied that the degree which you see the glamour depends upon your familiarity. That and your focus of mind," he added pointedly.
"That's not what I meant; I see you again just fine. It's how the magic moved that I'm questioning."
Snape stopped again and spun around to spear Potter with a disbelieving expression, "More of your newly gained magical abilities?" He kept his tone sarcastic, but his unease grew; he didn't like unknown quantities, especially when they affected himself.
"It looks that way. Along with seeing your... aura, I was able to watch the last two spells you cast- how they formed and moved. Almost how they worked, I think." Potter kept his voice factual and quiet, entirely unlike his father who would have sounded at least proud if not downright smug.
Staring at Potter without expression, Snape came to a decision. "We'll speak of this later, once we've obtained our supplies and are securely settled where we won't be found." Pivoting on his heel, he didn't wait for Potter to follow... not for long anyway.
The rest of the trip to the town was made mostly in silence, Severus broodingly so while Harry followed in fascination of the flickers of color surrounding the surly professor. Another facet curious to him is that he didn't see auras around anything else; not trees or even the occasional glimpse of a squirrel or birds that flew overhead. All looked the same as they had before except for Severus.
The town they reached was indeed a small one, and old fashioned looking. First they reached residences made of wood and brick which were nestled among the forest in small clearings, and following the path of the dirt driveways they were able to glimpse the paved road in the distance. As they neared signs of life, Harry thought to point out to Severus the state of his shredded robes and suggested that he carry rather than wear them. Severus' dark outfit beneath wasn't in the best of condition, but it would pass for muggle more easily than flowing strips of cloth.
The town itself consisted mostly of a main road and a few intersections, all lined by quaint storefronts which on the whole wasn't entirely unlike Diagon Alley apart from the contents of the stores themselves. They travelled first to a grocery store and purchased some supplies from muggle money that Dumbledore had given Severus, then on to a camping shop where they had just enough money to purchase one sleeping bag a few thin but soft blankets, and a few camp candles. The shopkeepers looked at the two curiously, but didn't ask questions beyond those normally offered as friendly conversation.
Harry knew better than to further aggravate Severus during the shopping, and as a result they were headed back out of town in just over an hour later. It was nearing dinnertime although the long hours of summer meant that they still had a few hours left of evening sun and twilight to light their way before full darkness fell. They took advantage of it to continue putting distance between themselves and their point of origin, moving faster once they were out of sight and able to shrink down the bulk of their supplies to a manageable size.
Their next campsite was much more comfortable than the shed, backed against a wall of rock and sheltered from casual sight by the nearby trees and shrubbery with a blanket of leaves on the ground in addition to the opened sleeping bag and blankets to pad them from the ground's chill and hardness. They cooked a meager stew with a magical lightless fire, and as it heated Severus put forward his quiet but sternly voiced concern. "Tell me exactly what it is you saw, Potter."
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