Chapter Four: Covers and Conundrums
Thankfully it didn't grow cold enough to warrant the need of blankets during the night as Harry was only able to find a couple of ripped and stained storage covers to serve as insulation from the wooden floor and its splinters. The shed smelled almost overwhelmingly of old wood, but yet again Harry met with a paradox. There were enough holes in the shed's exterior to detract from the coverage of the shelter, but also enough that the rusted machinery in the corner didn't make the air impossible to breathe with oxidized iron and oil. Aside from the state of the air there was also the fact of the lack of light to deal with, but thankfully the light of the full moon also flooded in through the cracks in the woodwork, making it difficult but possible to see. With thoughts of Remus Lupin's condition weighing him down, Harry set to work.
Making the broom hover against one of a couple of large boxes in order to keep Snape's body stable, Harry went about spreading the larger of the covers over the small space available on the floor, worrying a bit as he noticed what looked like holes gnawed into the cloth. His thoughts darkened further in contemplation of Ron's rat, Scabbers, and how he had never seen any signs of damage of Ron's things during the time Scabbers had acted as Ron's "familiar". Harry was on the edge of falling back towards his flirtation with self-hatred at his lack of perception until his gaze once again found Snape's hovering body, and he finished folding the other cover into support for Snape's head with little attention to thought. Placing the padding down at one end, Harry went over and fetched the Snape-laden broomstick, maneuvering it into position so that he could ease his professor to the ground as smoothly as he was able.
Carefully settling Snape's body onto the covers and his head upon the padding, Harry finally let himself rest next to him- at least physically. His ears were straining for other sounds such as the cause of the gnaw marks on the covers, or approaching footsteps. Sleep hadn't been a favorite activity after the end of his fourth year; it had been overly filled with nightmares, and so he'd deprived himself of a lot of it. His conscience was unconcerned with this treatment, imagining it as fitting punishment for his perceived errors during the end of the third task, and thusly Cedric's death. An hour passed during which the day's events caught up with him, and exhaustion finally set in. Harry fell asleep curled up next to the dark and still form of his professor.
Shards of light washed over the man, piercing his skull and he struggled to turn his head, only to cause himself enough pain to make him moan in protest. Something stirred next to him before rising, but the glare of the overwhelming light prevented the man from being able to identify it. The young voice asked, "Professor?"
"Light," the man managed in his disorientation. "Too much."
"Oh," the boy exclaimed, and the shape rose further before moving away. "The sun's risen, and there's a crack in the shed that let it through on you. Here, I'll block it with something." Moments passed and there came the sounds of something heavy being dragged. Suddenly the light cut out, and the man sighed with relief, his eyes slowly slitting open as they tried to accustom themselves to the new light level. "Is that better?" the boy asked as he slowly approached the supine man.
"Much better, thank you," the man wearily replied, not noticing the double take on the part of the boy at his politeness. He seemed to need several moments to compose his next words, his brow furrowed with concentration. "What is happening?"
"A bit of a long story, Professor Snape," the boy replied, eventually deciding to sit on a bit of coverlet just out of the man's reach. The boy paused for some reason, looking at the man expectantly. His eyes were wide from behind his cracked glasses.
Only after another minute did the man reply. "Professor Snape. That's my name? I can't seem to recall," he trailed off.
"Yes," the boy replied, again with a strange combination of wariness and concern. "Severus Snape. You're the Potions professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."
The man tried to look at this odd boy with his disbelief, but couldn't manage lifting his head so he subsided with a frown. "Witchcraft. And... Wizardry."
"Yes," the boy replied with all the confidence of the deranged.
"Potions," the man tried again in his effort to acquire comprehensible information.
"Potions," the boy nodded in affirmation.
There was a pause before the man stated, "You realize that you sound a bit daft, don't you?"
The boy's eyes widened further as he gazed down at the man, "Erm. What is the last thing that you remember, Professor?"
Black eyes drifted closed again as the man eventually murmured with a voice steeped with defeat, "Not much, I'm afraid. Why am I in so much pain? What happened? Please tell me."
"But-" the boy haltingly protested. "You mentioned Albus in your sleep last night. He's the Headmaster. Surely you remember... something."
He felt himself frown in his effort to remember. Something dreamlike and hazy, but shifting like quicksilver out of his grasp. "I said I do not remember. Must I ask again?"
The boy finally relented and told him a tale of how the boy had been staying with his relations during the summer break when his uncle came home from work one day and suddenly announced that the family was taking a vacation in America. His uncle had taken special care to make sure that Harry's school stuff remained in the cupboard under the stairs; he'd thought it was due to the hatred his guardians held for anything magical, but since then he'd wondered. Sitting on the side of the road after having been unceremoniously abandoned, he wondered if it all hadn't been a plan. Especially with his Uncle's comment about seeing to their new summer home while Harry lay on the road in the wake of their car's emissions as they drove away. His uncle didn't have enough money for a new summer home. Someone must have bribed him to leave Harry; it also explained the presence of Snape and the other man.
"How so?" the man interrupted the tale with a furrowed brow mixed with a confused stare.
The boy stared back at the man and swallowed once.
Harry's thoughts were flying at a furious rate. Did Voldemort or one of his Death Eaters bribe Uncle Vernon into leaving Harry helpless in a foreign country where he could be collected without interference from anyone who knew him? It didn't take much of a stretch to imagine the man he had left behind as a Death Eater, and Snape, well he'd revealed himself at the end of last year. Apparently he'd been working for Dumbledore as the Headmaster had sent Snape on some errand... and weeks later they ended up in this situation.
But what was he going to tell the amnesiac Snape?
"We really need to find some way to get in touch with Headmaster Dumbledore," Harry started. "I don't know what effect your injury has had on your ... abilities on top of the memory loss and your leg. Speaking of which, let me have a look at that. You're not bleeding, but I really hope it's not broken; I don't know how to reset a bone properly. I hope we'll be getting a class in first aid next year."
Harry felt hopelessness starting to overwhelm him again at the reminders of Hogwarts, what he'd left behind, and what had last happened at the school. He reached for Snape's leg, expecting some sort of protest that never came. Snape didn't even react to any degree to the pain other than a gasp and a flinch; his hands remained at his sides. "It doesn't look broken," Harry commented, "But there's something wrong with it. Maybe a fracture... Anyway, I don't think you'll be able to walk on it like that. And you're not in a good condition to be moved at any rate; I only brought us here because I had to."
"And where would we be going?" Snape queried tiredly. "To this school of yours? How long would we be traveling?"
"Well," Harry considered, "You could probably Apparate once you got your memory back. I don't know how; we're not allowed to learn until we're older."
An eyebrow raised; Harry was finding it interesting to watch what habits seemed learned or instinctive. "Apparating? What is that?"
Harry searched for a description. "Uh. Teleporting from place to place?"
Snape looked at him in an unnerving silence before closing his eyes again. "I'm rather tired."
Almost too quickly and rather thankfully, Harry jumped to his feet, "I'll let you rest a bit and take a look around." He was finding his reaction to Snape's condition to be as unnerving to him as his stare. Snape's mannerisms, his voice, his eyes and his words all made Harry want to get away; to escape to a place where things were normal. He knew how unlikely that was going to be, however. Ever since he turned eleven. However, the thought of becoming the same as Snape, seemingly without knowledge of the wizarding world, made him cringe even more.
Retaining the haunting memories of recent times or trading them in for ignorant bliss? The thought disturbed him despite the weight of those memories. This was something he had to think about more...
As Harry went outside the shack, his stomach rumbled in annoyance; he'd ignored it since just after the time he'd been abandoned on the road, preferring to languish in the emotionless haze his thoughts had become. But now it became another problem. He needed to find food and water for the two of them. From Snape's reaction to magic the last time he tried it, he didn't think that would be of use without giving Snape an aneurism or something. What did happen to someone's magic when that someone was wounded or lost his memories?
Harry was tempted to delve further into his memories of visits to the hospital wing to work out this puzzle, but figured he'd need to devote his concentration to his immediate surroundings instead if he was going to find anything helpful in these woods. There were birds chirping aplenty, but none he recognized and certainly none within range as they seemed to roost in the trees that towered several dozen feet above them before branching out. He started walking more softly, hoping to catch sight of some berries or perhaps even a rabbit. Thoughts of deer or anything similar were emphatically pushed aside with the memory of his father's animagus form.
Ending the search after a couple of hours, he went back to check on Snape with some berries and apples he'd found growing wild. Even before he entered the shack he felt his brow furrow; something felt wrong. He looked around him but didn't see evidence of another presence nearby. Cautiously, he opened the rickety door.
As Harry let his eyes adjust to the mottled darkness, he heard the sound of quiet but labored breathing. Closing his eyes completely for a few seconds to speed up the acclimation process, Harry was then able to see Snape's form on the cover. "Professor?" he asked with a touch of concern when he saw Snape tremble, "What's wrong?"
It took Snape the passing of some moments before he rasped, "My left arm has started hurting suddenly and without cause. Do you know why this is?"
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