Fifty-One: Recharging and Rescues
Slowly, Harry reached out towards Severus, rising from his chair so that he could touch Severus' arm with one hand and rest his hand above Severus' heart with the other.
To some degree, Harry suddenly thought, this instinctive position was a little like the setup to recharge a car battery. Harry remembered watching once; Harry and Uncle Vernon had gotten stuck at the grocery store in the rain when the car wouldn't start. He remembered how Uncle Vernon had muttered dire things under his breath even as some kind passerby had stopped to help them out.
The good Samaritan had produced jumper cables and attached them to the car batteries- first to his own and then to Uncle Vernon's. One cable was used for grounding while the other was used to charge the battery, the thin man wearing the baseball cap explained to the young Harry with an easygoing smile.
After the cables were attached, the man waited a minute while revving his engine a little, and then had Uncle Vernon start his car. When the car started with a cough, Uncle Vernon had gruffly thanked the man- one of the few times he had witness politeness from his Uncle and thusly made it stand out in his memory.
Harry came back to the present and realized that Severus was resting easily although trembling a little. His chest rose and fell with deep breaths, and Harry's hands were tingling as though they were in the midst of recovering from falling asleep. Eyes widening with surprise, Harry checked Severus' aura to find it growing perceptibly stronger and edged with a startlement of its own.
When she cast a diagnostic spell upon Severus, Madame Pomfrey smiled with pleased relief. "You've got it, Mr. Potter," she encouraged, "Keep it up for just a little longer." More intently, she added, "We've no information on when it would be best to stop, or how to know this, but your abilities have seemed largely instinctive thus far. I would suggest continuing until it feels right, but don't feel that you should go on past that just to give Severus more energy. It's quite likely that with your donation, Severus' magic will be able to regenerate itself to its normal levels. Without it, it would have taken several months on its own."
Harry turned to gape at Madame Pomfrey, his mortified guilt swelling to a new height. "Did I take that much from him? Is it that hard to regenerate?"
Severus apparently had enough discussion without his involvement and glared irritably up at Harry. "That isn't important; I'm doing well enough now."
"You're not leaving quite yet, Severus," the nurse admonished. "You're to remain there until I clear you to leave the ward." Turning back to Harry, she added, "Now I should see to Mr. Black; the Headmaster has gone to fetch something for you, Harry." With that, she slipped out of the partition, keeping the curtains in place.
Curiosity distracted Harry further as he kept his hands in place. What did Dumbledore have, and why give it to him now of all times? He and Severus had been back at Hogwarts for a while now.
It wasn't long before the answer to the question was provided. Cheerfully, Dumbledore reappeared at the partition's entrance and announced, "Ah, there you are!"
When Severus muttered an annoyed, "Where else would we be," the Headmaster appeared unaffected, summoning forth a comfortable chair in which to sit and doing so with a flourish more reminiscent of Dumbledore's affectations in Harry's first year. Severus brushed Harry's hands away from himself, and as Harry felt as though it wouldn't do Severus harm, he didn't object, turning instead to watch Dumbledore and allowing Severus to compose himself unobserved.
Once he was comfortable, Dumbledore produced a small packet of ... letters! But- this was too many of them for them to have been sent just recently. Harry stared at the bundle with a mix of pleasure at the idea of hearing from his friends, and growing irritation. He /hated/ having his correspondence kept from him. First the Dursleys, then Dobby in his misguided effort to keep Harry safe, and now Dumbledore!
The Headmaster's tone of voice remained ever cheerful and innocent of all wrongs even as Severus was staring at the older wizard warily. No doubt Severus had experienced behavior like this before during his professorial career, Harry thought, perhaps even during his time as a student. Holding out the letters to Harry, Dumbledore smiled, "I collected these for you this summer, Harry. Unfortunately, it seems that these letters were not able to reach you whilst you were at your Uncle's. The owls delivering them were instructed by your friends to come to me if that were the case."
Not about to allow Dumbledore to get away that easily, Harry glared at him. "And what about when I was here at Hogwarts?"
Sternly, Dumbledore regarded Harry, "You were taken by the circumstances surrounding your present situation, and although it might have been a pleasant distraction for you, it would have been a distraction that you and we could not afford."
"You wouldn't have given me the letters even now if you had decided differently, wouldn't you?" Harry accused.
Calmly, Dumbledore nodded, "Indeed. But you seemed to need to be brought out of your inner troubles. And you are drawn out of them now, aren't you, Harry?"
Blinking with startlement, Harry regarded Dumbledore in return for some moments, torn between his continued anger at the interference and the realization that in his own way, Dumbledore was right. With a quiet mutter of irritation, Harry took the small bundle of letters from Dumbledore whose eyes twinkled with amusement now. Looking over at Severus, the Headmaster noted, "You're rubbing off on him, Severus."
Severus didn't dignify the jest with a reply, sitting up and pointedly turning his attention to Harry. "I feel much recovered," he solemnly intoned with a formal nod. "Thank you."
Startled by the faint light of a diagnostic spell passing over him, Severus swiftly looked to the partition opening and noticed Madame Pomfrey who nodded to herself with satisfaction. "You /are/ much recovered, although you shouldn't have sat up until I checked you over again," she announced with a scolding edge. "Hidden injuries don't always make themselves known with immediate pain."
"How well I know, Poppy," Severus growled back at her. "Can we leave at long last?"
Sniffing once, Madame Pomfrey nodded. "Minerva's here to escort the two of you down to your rooms."
With that statement, Severus didn't hesitate to get up and retrieve his neatly folded robes. "We'll be going, then." Expecting that nothing would stop Severus from departing post haste, but the older wizard paused and gave Poppy a faint smile. "Thank you as always," he murmured before pushing past her, ignoring Dumbledore on the way out. Dumbledore looked sad but said nothing, and so Harry trailed out in Severus' wake.
Professor McGonnagal was approaching the partition as Harry emerged, and it was then that he was able to appreciate that there had been a silencing spell around it. Sirius was glaring daggers at Severus from his bed. Severus returned the gaze impassively, but when Sirius spotted his godson, Sirius turned his attention to the younger wizard and softly murmured, "Harry..." his voice filled with confusion and regret. "Are you all right?"
"Yes, Sirius," Harry tried for a reassuring smile, clutching the small bundle of letters between his hands. "I'm fine."
"Where'r you going?"
Pausing for a moment, Harry looked down at his feet before he approached Sirius' bed. He could sense that Severus paused on the way to the door, watching him. "I have to help out in the potion's lab," Harry replied, again trying for something casual. Something lighthearted and affectionate for his godfather. "I'll see if I can come up later and visit."
Shooting another brief glare at Severus, Sirius protested, "He can brew potions on his own; he's been doing it all his life. Can't you stay here a while, Harry?" His expression underwent a full reversal as he studied Harry with a deep concern.
Professor McGonnagal chose that moment to intervene, "Harry's help is necessary in this instance, Mr. Black. Along with the potions that have been delayed by your arrival and the time in the Hospital Wing, there are a number of others that Madame Pomfrey will be needing for the upcoming school year."
As Dumbledore approached and sat in the chair by Sirius' bed, he placed a comforting hand on Sirius' arm. "In the meantime, we should go over the next mission that I'll need you and Remus to see to. Don't worry, Sirius," Dumbledore smiled. "Harry is in good health and in good hands."
Harry put a hand on Sirius' other arm and managed a warm smile. "I'll see you soon. You can tell me what you and Professor Lupin have been up to. I'd love to hear about it." With a last pat and a quiet goodbye, Harry turned to follow Professor McGonnagal and Severus to the door. From Severus' aura, he was none too thrilled about Sirius' presence, but he was restraining himself, possibly for Harry's sake.
Suddenly Harry felt much better about things in general.
Once they were out of the Hospital Ward, Severus led the way to the dungeons and his laboratory. Not wanting to take the time to take the students' more roundabout route, he instead took the small group through his customary shortcuts.
"Severus," Minerva prompted him, keeping up with them easily due to the boon of her animagus nature, "We still haven't had that talk."
"Not now, Minerva." Severus sighed, "I've had a lot of time to think things over. I cannot ... entirely blame you for those past actions. I don't like that you and Albus thought it necessary to supersede my free will back then," he added in a voice that grew harder as he spoke, "And if anything like that is done to me again, I shall be most displeased."
Minerva primly replied, "You were in your minority, Severus, and you were being influenced by a powerful wizard elevating himself into becoming another Dark Lord. He was gathering an army, and he had apparently discovered that you were one of those spoken of in the prophecies."
"I realize all of that," Severus growled as he spelled the door to his laboratory open, letting her and Harry enter. "But I expect to be consulted next time- should there be one."
Crossing the room and casting a quick glance at the cauldrons under the stasis fields, Severus satisfied himself that there was no damage to the potions within.
It was then Severus noticed the unbreakable bottle that rested on the floor by his fireplace. Looking suddenly uneasy, he swiftly moved to retrieve it, cursing under his breath and muttering, "We may have run out of time..."
Sure enough, after checking the bottle for curses and forgery, he opened it only for Draco's voice to emerge, urgent and frightened.
"Uncle Severus, Father has just returned. He needs your potion. Please floo over as soon as you can!"
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