Chapter Thirteen: Dissension in the Order Revealed
Severus awoke to someone groaning softly and a murmured curse of irritation. Every last inch of him hurt; he swore he could feel every strand of hair on his head throbbing as well as his toenails and everything in between. Wearily, he opened his eyes after the bed jostled.
"Sorry. Didn't mean to wake you. Just wanted a drink."
Severus made a mental note to throttle Potter at the first possible opportunity once he was able. "What in Circe's name happened to you, Lupin?"
"Wolf doesn't like chains," Remus managed.
Severus gaped. Lupin was bandaged and battered and truthfully not in that much better condition than Severus himself. It did make sense to bring Lupin to Severus' chamber. Both Severus and Remus would cause too many problems of one sort or another if they were placed in the Hospital Wing. This way, they were both in the same place and easier to keep watch over. Still, Severus didn't have to like it.
"Where is that idiot boy?" Severus demanded. His voice carried pain and resignation rather than its usual impatient venom.
Remus pointed toward Severus' side of the bed. With great effort Severus managed to turn enough to look. Potter was sitting on the desk chair that had been brought into the bedroom, his feet propped on another chair, leaning sideways partially to rest his arm and head on the bedside table.
"Do you have your wand, Lupin?" Severus asked, lying back with a soft hiss of pain.
"Yes," Remus said slowly.
"Can you levitate the brat over here?" The bed was certainly large enough, and it made Severus ache just to look at the boy.
"I think so," Remus smiled. With a wince and a groan he reached for his wand and awkwardly levitated the exhausted boy into the center of the bed without mishap or waking Harry.
"Harry, c'mon Harry, wake up." Seamus stood at the foot of the bed, tugging on Harry's feet. The fact that Harry had ended up in the bed with the two Professors hadn't caused Seamus to do more than blink and shrug.
In the process of waking Harry, Seamus managed to wake both Severus and Remus.
"Harry, get up," Seamus repeated.
"Shay?" Harry mumbled groggily.
"C'mon, gotta wake up. Dumbledore floo'd a bit earlier. You're supposed to floo him at the Leaky Cauldron, room 410, at nine. It's six now, you need to clean up and eat. These two need their medicine and their bandaging changed."
Several House Elves popped in and out at a dizzying rate, leaving behind a pile of muggle-looking clothing and several trays of food--both soft invalid's food and a feast fit for at least a dozen people.
"I'm up, I think," Harry mumbled, sitting up carefully so not to jostle the two injured men in the bed. He yawned and rubbed his eyes. "Six?" he repeated somewhat dumbly with another yawn and a stretch.
"Yeah, mate." Seamus nodded.
A House Elf popped in front of Seamus. "Sir, it is being done, but Pippy is not thinking the Professor sir is going to be being happy," the creature said nervously.
"Thanks, Pippy." Seamus smiled. "And the Professor Sir will appreciate it even if he'll never let on."
"If you is saying so, sir. Pippy is going now." The words were barely spoken before the House Elf disappeared with a crack.
"What did you have Pippy do, Seamus?"
"Remodel Snape's bathroom. I've got some Wound Cleansing Potion and some potion Pomfrey had us make, mild stuff that encourages skin regrowth. She was using it to bathe the burn injuries with. Put those in the new whirlpool Jacuzzi Snape now has and it'll do both Professors a world of good."
"Brilliant," Harry smiled, reaching for the tea Seamus was holding out.
"Potter, what is a Jacuzzi?" Severus demanded.
Harry blinked. "Wizards don't have anything like Jacuzzis?" He frowned in Seamus' direction. Personally he found that a bit odd, considering the tendency of Hogwarts to have such massive bathrooms and swimming pool sized tubs ... why not Jacuzzis?
"Nope. They're exclusively muggle. We put in some mild liniment and spell the bathtub at home for Great-Gran when she visits. She thought mum was off her rocker the first time mum did it up for her, but has since come to think it's the best thing since cushioning charms on brooms."
"Cushioning charms might be a good idea for it," Harry frowned pensively.
Seamus agreed. "I'll get the water going and do that. You can use Snape's shower and I'll keep an eye on them so they don't slip under and drown."
Severus glared at Harry as Seamus hurried into his bathroom.
Ten minutes later he was fit to start casting the Avada Kedavra on the two Gryffindor boys for the unrecognizable room that had been his bathroom and the huge sunken circular tub that was nearly ten feet in diameter.
Both Severus and Remus watched warily as the tub was filled up. Three full cauldrons of potions were dumped into the water, and then Seamus cast "Aqua contorqueo" on the water.
"That is for washing laundry, Finnegan!" Severus managed to snap.
A few moments later Seamus was smirking as the two older wizards, clad in their boxers, were settled into the just a degree from too-hot tub of mildly churning water. With the cushioning charms and the seat-like benches in the tub it was nearly like sitting in an easy chair.
"Shower, Harry." Seamus pointed at Snape's regular tub with it's shower head.
"Yes, mum." Harry rolled his eyes tiredly at Seamus' fussing.
Just being levitated into the whirlpool tub Finnegan had managed to get the House Elves to fit into his bathroom, soaking for 20 minutes, and going back to bed was exhausting. The bandaging of his wounds was excruciating, but Severus had to admit that Potter wasn't unduly rough or clumsy at his task. Any protest of not wanting the werewolf or the other young Gryffindor present was pointless under the circumstances.
"Hands now, Professor," Harry said gently. He was becoming rather frightened at Snape's quiet compliance with the treatment of his wounds thus far. Snape quietly complying--with anything--was simply wrong.
"Hey, Harry, what about stitches?" Seamus frowned at the gouges Remus had torn into his side as the wolf. The ravaged flesh on Remus' side was the werewolf's worst injury, though his wrists and ankles were nearly as bad. The wolf had quite obviously tried to chew his way out of the chains. The wards on the Room of Requirement had stopped the wolf from chewing it's paws (and therefore the man's hands and feet) entirely off, but the damage done was horrific.
"Stitches?" Remus gaped.
"Don't think those can really be sewn up, Seamus." Harry glanced at Remus on the other side of the bed. "Not like a cut or bad slice, you know? Too torn up."
"Stitches?" Remus repeated. "Sewn?"
"Stitches for wounds are pretty common for muggle medicine, Remus," Harry offered. "Just like whirlpool treatments are for burn victims or bad muscle and joint injuries. Or just relaxing sore muscles."
"Er, have to tell you that the tub's permanent, most likely." Seamus glanced at Severus quickly before returning to his attention to Remus' wounds.
Severus did manage a semi-derisive snort that was not up to his usual standard of disdain for all things Gryffindor. He swallowed, holding out one bandaged hand for Harry. The bandages on his hands had been the only bandages not removed during the soak in the tub.
"Lady Ygraine knew the counter curse to stop it, and she's almost completely certain we'll be able to reverse the damage," Harry said as he concentrated on unwrapping the hand. "First we have to get the skin healed up, then there are a series of spells and potions she thinks will help, but you're going to have to keep your hands bandaged and not use them for at least a month. By October you should be healed up enough that the first round of potions and spells can be started. Once the bandages come off, though, you should be able to at least brew some things. Ingredients that require fine slicing, mincing or powdering you'll have to have someone help you with, same with those that take constant stirring for any extended period of time. At least for a while. Lady Ygraine is 95% positive you should have total use of your hands back by Easter Holidays though, and certainly recovered enough to teach come September and the start of term."
"Lady Ygraine?" Remus questioned, wincing at the new bandaging Seamus was now applying to his side.
"Ravenclaw's Grey Lady, her name's Ygraine," the Irish boy answered, not looking up from his task.
Severus watched in a strange combination of horror and relief as his first hand was completely unwrapped. There were a few patches of new skin starting to form on the raw, exposed muscle. He swallowed, seeing the white of bone of at least two knuckles exposed. His hand was a horror to look at but it was healing. Typical Gryffindor--no, it was typical Potter stupidity. The boy didn't know that the only "cure" for the curse that had been inflicted on Severus' hands was amputation to keep it from spreading. Out of sheer ignorance, the boy had once again managed the impossible--this time with the aid of a ghost, a werewolf and Finnegan. The boy was rambling on as he tended the wound, charms on the bandages to control bleeding and seepage, which potions and salves the ghost had told him to use. Severus didn't process a word of it as he simply stared at his hand. It was actually healing. The raw exposed muscle and tendon were awful to see, but weren't gangrenous, rotting, or looking like any of the pictures Severus had seen of this curse. His hand was very clearly healing. There wasn't supposed to be a way to stop the Slow Flesh Decimation Curse any more than there was the Avada Kedavra!
The hand was carefully re-bandaged, and the process repeated with Severus' other hand. This hand looked even better; no bone was exposed and there was maybe just a square centimeter or so more of new skin.
"Professor, who did this?" Harry demanded in a soft tone underlaid with steel that told Severus the boy wouldn't give up until he had his answer. Potter's damnable curiosity was going to kill someone eventually, most likely himself or Severus.
"Harry, he couldn't have seen--" Remus protested.
"This was done at close range, it hit too perfectly. His hands, not his arms, or leg or side. His hands, dead on." Harry shook his head, answering Remus but keeping his eyes locked on Severus' own. "Voldemort didn't do it. If he wanted you dead, you'd be dead. Using the curse and locking you up, letting it run its course 'til it killed you, I could believe that, but this? He'd kill you outright, or at least slowly while you were his prisoner. He wouldn't let you go back to where, if you lived, you could at least give information to his enemies. And he certainly wouldn't deprive himself of your potions-making skills. Whoever did this knew their curses too well--so it likely wasn't one of the people from Regis Isle. They knew who you were and how to hurt you badly. This was a torture shot, not a kill shot, to put it in muggle terms. And whoever did it knew exactly who they were aiming at. Who was it?"
"Kingsley Shacklebolt. He was with the Aurors that initially responded to the distress call from Regis Isle before Fudge managed to recall them," Severus answered flatly, black eyes locked on to green, daring the boy to make excuses or to tell him he had to be mistaken.
Harry did neither. He cursed soundly for a moment, earning him a sharp "Harry James Potter, watch your language!" from Remus.
"Who's this Shacklebolt?" Seamus wanted to know.
"A member of the Order. One of the higher up Aurors that are in it," Harry answered.
"Do you really think he knew it was Snape, not just some random Death Eater?" Seamus asked.
"Aurors don't use illegal curses--well, they aren't supposed to. This was done too close of range, too accurately." Harry shook his head. "He damn well knew."
"Bloody hell, and there's no way to get him for this is there?" Seamus sighed, looking up from wrapping Remus' wrist.
"Gee, let's go file formal charges at the ministry. Our spy got injured by an Auror who's a member of a secret society Fudge wants locked up possibly more than the Death Eaters. Auror versus cranky bastard--sorry, sir--with a Dark Mark. Even within the Order itself--what the hell can be done? We're too few as it is. Snape's personality doesn't change outside the classroom. No one's going to believe it. The few who tolerate the professor because he's useful would probably turn on him and want him handed over to the ministry for being a Death Eater." Harry ranted.
"He could say he hit one with a curse, check new amputees or injured for the Dark Mark--" Seamus murmured.
"Oh, we've got Snape's hand injury explained away. Neville was the one who thought it up yesterday. Snape was watching Neville brew some new fertilizer potion, and Neville blew up the cauldron. Snape's hands got burnt."
"Scary thing is, no one would ever doubt that for a second. Neville's bloody dangerous with a cauldron," Seamus snorted.
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