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Chapter Forty-Five: Healing and Hegemony

Severus' unfocused gaze tried to settle itself upon Harry as sleep continued to drag at him. "... infernal ... humming ... idiot ... forest ... beasts," he managed to utter, the effort quickly draining him of energy and forcing his eyes to close again. He curled further on his side.

Harry's voice came to him, amused but concerned. "We're not in the Forbidden Forest anymore, Severus." The amusement became guilt as it continued, "I did seem to attract something from the forest, though. I'm sorry."

A hesitant hand brushed against Severus' shoulder and he gasped at the sheer warmth in the brief contact. Straining himself, Severus tried to move forward to regain the warmth. He heard a soft pained noise as he did so and he vaguely realized that it came from himself.

"Shhh, quiet down, Severus," Harry's voice cautioned. "I just want to give them a few more moments to get further from the Hospital Wing." That hand settled upon his shoulder again and he found himself relaxing; his nausea, pain and confusion slowly retreating into the background in the face of the warmth seeping into him through that one place where he was being touched. Balanced on the edge of consciousness, afraid of losing that energizing contact, Severus kept utterly still apart from opening his eyes.

Harry was cautiously looking towards the door, his brow furrowed, one hand resting upon Severus. A few moments later Harry relaxed minimally and turned to look down at him, smiling apologetically and with relief. "You'll be all right," he said, seemingly a promise as much to himself as to Severus. His free hand carefully moved towards the back of Severus' head and Harry winced as he looked at something there. "You'll be okay," he insisted again before gently cradling the back of Severus' head with his hand.

Overwhelmed, Severus felt himself pushed over the edge and into unconsciousness.

Harry grew alarmed when Severus' black eyes rolled and then shut the moment he touched the back of his head. Madame Pomfrey had healed the wound itself but it was still swollen and tender- still, Harry knew he'd been careful not to press at Severus' head too much. When Harry started to feel his fingers tingle, he hoped that the unconsciousness was due to relief, not pain.

Craning his head for a better look where he sat, Harry was glad to see the amount of pain and darkness in the aura around Severus' head was slowly ebbing around his fingers. The faint tinge of green to Severus' features were also fading into the paleness of shock, but the potion that Pomfrey had first given Severus upon his arrival in the Hospital Ward would see to that.

Settling into his chair, Harry turned his concentration upon the older wizard, willing healing energies to transfer themselves into him, willing Severus to heal, broadcasting his affection to the man he had hated the previous year.

After some time, when Harry straightened a little to concentrate upon Severus' aura again, he noticed that at the outer edges it was limned with lighter colors that were seeping inwards into Severus', making colors of pain pale and lessen, fear and dark memories faded and were soothed. Harry even noticed some faint glittering that floated upon the surface of the lighter colors near his head, as though it were oil on water. Curious, Harry briefly moved his hand from Severus' shoulder, carefully keeping his other on the back of his head, and reached to brush at the sparkles.


Harry frowned, irritated. How much had Dumbledore interfered with Severus' life in the past? Was he intending to continue to do so? Should Harry be concerned about himself as well? He decided to have Severus take a look at his aura for the sparkles once it was his turn at possession of the aura Sight.

When he settled his hand back upon Severus' shoulder, Harry was still angry with Dumbledore. Absently he ran his fingers over his upper arm in a restless attempt at soothing both the unconscious man as well as himself, but his thoughts worked against him. When he and Severus got back to Hogwarts via the portkey, Dumbledore saw Severus when he was mostly healed. Harry wondered if there had been occasion for Dumbledore to see Severus when he was hurt. If he'd come back from spying on Voldemort like this or worse. And Dumbledore had known it, yet asked Severus to continue spying.

Harry's anger grew until he felt a restless shifting under his hands along with a quiet whimper of protest. Looking down at Severus, Harry was shocked and dismayed to see the light around the aura's edges had faded back to darkness and Severus' pallor had paled further.

Cursing himself, Harry quickly drew his hands back and breathed deeply, desperately trying to calm himself. Forcefully he turned his thoughts away from Dumbledore and searched for something more pleasant to focus upon. Another weak protest and hesitant movements came from Severus as he seemed to be caught between wanting the contact and fearing it. With a sigh, Harry replaced his hands.

Harry's frustration with Sirius didn't help improve his mood, so instead he thought about flying. One of the more silent grudges that Harry held against Draco Malfoy was how he'd distracted Harry during his first actual flying experience in favor of his efforts to get Neville's rememberall back. Harry never felt as free from all cares as he did when he became one with a broomstick in mid-air.

Of course, the broomstick that Severus had brought with him when he'd come to retrieve Harry hadn't been anything approaching his Firebolt or even the Nimbus 2000. But he still remembered the broom flights with Severus with a certain amount of fondness. It was actually one of the rare occasions in which he flew with someone else rather than going solo.

The experience itself wasn't pleasant out of being comfortable with Severus; on the contrary, at the time they'd been experiencing ... well, problems. Even now they weren't entirely at ease with each other, although the difficulty was more on Severus' side than Harry's. But what was pleasant was how well they'd been able to work together, how smoothly the flight went. There was none of the tug-of-war from the disagreement of direction or the unintentional leaning-the-wrong-way that one usually experiences with paired flying.

Harry spent some time in recollection of the trip across New York to the coastline, remembering the scenery, the wind, and how wonderful it felt to be on a broom again- even if he wasn't pushing the broom and himself beyond the limits by doing acrobatics.

Thankfully, the next time he checked Severus' aura it was continuing its path back to normality and lined once more by the paler shades of his healing.

//Questions. A concerned voice. Other more youthful voices rising in protest. The first voice sounded stern and resolute. Vaguely he became aware of movement as the youthful voices left. A pair of worried blue eyes came into view.


"Severus ... Severus, my boy." A hand settled on his shoulder. "Come back now... Come and talk to me."

Only briefly was he drawn from within his quiescent thoughts before settling down again, like sand briefly stirred up only to settle once more upon the ocean's bottom. He was mired too deeply in the puzzle, the inconsistencies, the sheer wrongness he sensed in the back of his mind.

The hand squeezed Severus' shoulder, and he felt the tingle of restrained magic; a huge potential of energy laying in wait. "Severus. I know it's difficult, but you must try." Dumbledore called to him from the immeasurable distance of inches. The power tingled through him, stirring the sand from an outside influence this time. "Reach ... Come here."

Severus took a long and breath, and found that he could finally lift his eyes of his own volition. Dumbledore's gaze met his and kept it, "Yes, there you are," he murmured. "Will you tell me what happened now, Severus?"

Severus flinched inwardly, his eyes falling again to hover at some unknowing middle distance. The test was inconclusive to his mind. The werewolf, and James conveniently there. The test itself seemed somehow inconsistent. A reason rather than a purpose. A wrongness that he couldn't resolve.

"Oh, dear," Dumbledore murmured. With a sigh, he settled his free hand upon Severus' other shoulder. "come now, Severus. Reach, and I'll help. We'll sort you out soon."

A pause, and Severus felt suddenly breathless as though unexpectedly lifted several hundred feet in the space of a moment. He heard Dumbledore again as things faded to black, "... Oh, my."

Later on, Severus opened his eyes to found himself back in the Slytherin dormitories, Lucius seated on the edge of his bunk even as he was curled there on his side. "Severus? What's happened to you?" Lucius inquired, his customarily clear grey eyes now clouded with puzzlement. Perhaps even concern.

Severus recalled that he couldn't speak of that night's events. Dumbledore had required his oath on that. He couldn't find the energy nor the desire to speak at the moment anyhow, so he just shook his head and rested on his bunk, staring at nothing in particular. He felt deadened of will and desire.

Lucius stared at him speculatively for some moments before rising to his feet. He paced a few times in the space nearby before coming to a decision. "Have it your way. For now, Severus." Returning to his own bed, Lucius took up his Charms textbook and started revising, although not without distraction as he glanced at Severus from time to time. Lucius knew when to let well enough alone, when pushing an issue with Severus would only result in less cooperation in future endeavors.

Lucius asked after his health again before bed, and Severus couldn't find it in him to speak then, either. Dully, he heard himself reply, "Let me be, please." That politeness was enough to startle Lucius into doing so although Severus could almost feel Lucius' gaze upon him from across the dormitory even after the lights were put out and everyone else had fallen asleep.

In his dreams, Severus heard the whisper of spell words. He shivered.//


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