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Forty-Nine: Bubble, Bubble

"Lucius' potion?" Harry queried, his mind still quagmired in his efforts at concentrating his thoughts and restraining his negative emotions.

Severus' eyes slipped closed again for a moment before focusing upon Harry, his voice tinged with weariness and frustration. "The potion we started before going into the Forbidden Forest, you dolt," he prompted with increasing urgency despite his depleted energy. "Was that just last night? How long have we been here?"

"It was last night, I think." Keeping his hands positioned to heal Severus, Harry craned his head to call, "Madame Pomfrey? How long have we been here?"

The nurse's voice wasn't too distant, coming again from across the room by Sirius' bunk. "You came in from the Forbidden Forest last night, Mr. Potter." Her tone, as calm as ever, held no anger for her newest patient, instead containing the carefully moderated warmth she gave to all those under her care.

"I need to finish the potion before it's delayed any further," Severus managed to lift his head from the pillow, but it was obvious that he wouldn't be walking easily on his own yet.

Apparently Madame Pomfrey knew Severus well as she spoke again without seeing him through their curtained partition, "Lie back down, Severus. You're not going anywhere for the moment. Not until we get you back up to acceptable levels of energy."

Severus scowled in her direction without settling back down. "It's important; the potion needs to maintain constant heat throughout the brewing process, and it's been on its own for long enough. We need to add the Fluxweed as soon as possible." Suddenly swiveling his head, Severus' eyes widened. "You do have the Fluxweed, do you not?"

Quickly Harry raised his hands in a calming gesture, "I brought it with me. The basket's over there," he added, indicating the basket resting in Madame Pomfrey's storage shelves which were charmed to protect its contents.

"Help me get up, Harry," Severus muttered as he started to wearily brace one arm on the bunk to push himself to sit. "It is quite possible that Lucius will be called tonight, or might have been called last night. He'll need the potion to recover."

Gently, Harry kept his hands where they were to press Severus back down to rest. It ran through his head to comment on how much he thought the elder Malfoy deserved a bit of pain to teach him how to treat others. However, he remembered the warmth and concern veiled in the floo conversation between him and Severus. From Severus' behavior now, those emotions didn't seem to be faked during the conversation- at least on Severus' part. Harry kept his thoughts to himself, again trying to prevent them from growing any darker, and worked on soothing the restless teacher. "If you don't rest now, you'll probably be paying for it later. And you won't have the energy you need to brew."

"Spoken like a true mediwitch, Mr. Potter," Madame Pomfrey called in. "You have the potential for a career in the healing arts with that bedside manner."

Severus' expression darkened again, but he stayed still under Harry's hands. "What is taking so long?" he irritably asked. "If this happened last night, you've been ... healing me since then?"

Harry squirmed uncomfortably for a moment. "... No," he hedged. "Just for a few hours now, I think."

Frowning, Severus peered up at Harry as though trying to see into his brain. "You're not hurt, are you?" Without the aura sight, Severus certainly couldn't see as much as Harry was able to. Thinking of that, Harry reluctantly put the sight to use to check on Severus' condition. Still weak but not as badly as he had been before. Irritated and frustrated- not surprising. Buried under that- concern? Worry? Obviously for Malfoy's possible condition, Harry decided. "No, I wasn't hurt like you and Sirius were."

Staring for some moments longer, Severus suddenly gave a shark-like smile. "Good. Then you can help me down to my lab. You can heal me just as well there, and I can oversee the potion while you add the fluxweed."

Harry's mouth gaped open in preparation to protest, but he couldn't immediately find a response to that.

It was then that the capable mediwitch came to his rescue again. "You can leave the hospital wing when you are able to walk out on your own two feet, Severus. There is a reason why there isn't a floo connection from here to your laboratory, you must realize."

"Quite," Severus snarled in her direction. "So you can keep me prisoner here."

"Your understanding of the situation is impeccable as always, Professor," Madame Pomfrey replied with a dignified sort of amusement.

"Poppy, the potion is almost to the point where it will have been boiling for too long. I'll have to start again if we wait any longer!" The increased tensing of muscles under Harry's fingers was all he needed to sense the building frustration.

"Give me just a few moments and I'll go down there to cast a stasis charm over the potion. It doesn't have any of the ingredients that will react to that, does it?" Apparently, Madame Pomfrey wasn't about to take 'no' for an answer regarding Severus' health.

A sigh of exasperation escaped Severus lips. "No. It's a delicate potion, but it can take a stasis spell. But I can't stay here for days- I need to finish the potion- it takes two days to brew in total and we've only been working on it for several hours."

The nurse's steps approached the curtain partition and drew it aside only enough to step through. "I understand, Severus, but if your health is deteriorated who is going to look after necessities such as this in your absence? Now, calm yourself; your anger isn't assisting in the speed of your recovery."

The frustration remained, but the tension drained from Severus with a deliberate effort. More quietly, he asked of the mediwitch, "Please hurry."

Gently placing a hand on Severus' forehead, Madame Pomfrey nodded. As she left the partition and headed to the door, she called back, "I've diagnostic spells on all of you, so don't think of attempting to leave. I'll know of it when you've keeled over." The door quietly closed behind her and silence fell over the Hospital Ward for several moments. Outside a soft breeze could be heard rustling through the distant trees of the forest, breaking through the warmth of summer outside for that short span of time.

"Well then," Severus' words startled Harry as they broke the silence. "What have I missed?"

"Nothing important," Harry automatically replied, not wanting to voice his inner thoughts for the sake of maintaining the healing, and for the protection of a sudden desire for distance.

With a pointed stare at Harry, Severus proved that he blatantly knew better. "I'm not blind, Harry. Even if I don't currently have the sight. Tell me what exactly happened that put us back here in the ward with the refreshingly silent company of an unconscious Black. The last thing I remember was his charge at me."

"Erm," was Harry's informative reply, further enhanced by his, "Um". He couldn't find the words to say that wouldn't make him cringe in regret and self-hatred for his actions.

"Don't make noises at me; you have a tongue," Severus growled in a manner more akin to his previous years. "Speak with it."

Driven to irritation by the brief reminder of a harsher hateful man- back when he was Snape and not Severus, Harry found the impetus to growl in return. "You tried pushing me aside, I think, when I was casting to stop Sirius. Then I felt a massive surge of energy. The next thing I knew, Sirius was in a heap back down the hallway and you were unconscious next to me." His miniature tirade slowed to a halt there, his expression crumpling. "I ... I think Dumbledore found us and brought us here. I don't remember anything until a few hours ago."

As he was intelligent, Severus predictably came to the same conclusion, murmuring, "One is the power while the other is the key. Apparently we have just experienced the ability referenced by that line."

"What line?" Sirius croaked from across the hospital ward.


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