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Chapter Six: Memories and Monickers

The man watched the boy- Harry- retreat into the shadowed corner of the shack without comment. His black eyes remained upon the figure as Harry rummaged rather listlessly among the clutter of odds and ends on the rickety shelves that he had found.

As his stomach growled irritably, the man remembered the apple in his hand and lifted it for inspection. It smelled ripe and felt mostly unblemished under his fingers so he hazarded a bite, startling Harry with the sound as he spun around to eye the man before returning to his search.

Tilting his head, the man regarded Harry again- the boy seemed weighed down by his own thoughts, but didn't seem to want to share them nor divulge what had happened recently. Willing to give the boy some time, the man decided to focus upon the more physical aspect of their current situation. With some work, he could be patched up enough to travel again and find civilization if not the ... school Harry had described.

"Pieces of wood would do, so long as there aren't any splinters. You could tie them with strips from these covers, or rags if you find any." Pausing, he added with a touch of amused irony, "I'd appreciate being able to move from here as there are certain bodily functions that are making their displeasure known to me."

Harry spun around once more, this time to regard the man with a mixture of shock and disbelief at his tone and words. The man considered why he would receive such a reaction, but soon shrugged it off in favor of his current task of finishing the apple.

"Have you found something, then? Perhaps even parts of those shelves if the material is suitable." Something of the words seemed to bring Harry out of his startled state if the mild voice did not. With a quiet sigh, the man let his eyes drift closed in thought. He felt better than he had earlier that morning, a surprising development after the oddly explained pain in his arm which had thankfully ceased.

Despite his inner promise to concentrate upon seeing to his physical problems first, he couldn't help but try to sort out the jumbled snarl of his memories. More recently, he felt as though he'd had a dream- one that began with his sitting up from a body on a stone dais. The details were hazy but they were there in the background... not quite slipping away, but not illuminated into clarity. If only he could focus his concentration for longer than just a few seconds- time without the constant throbbing background of pain and the awareness of the large gap in his recollection. He let out a soft, despairing sigh.

Again Harry's stare returned to him, but this time it was accompanied by Harry and a pair of stained and warped planks he carried, along with a heavy wooden broom handle that he'd unscrewed from the bristle attachment as he approached. The man glanced at the items in brief inspection before nodding. "The best you found, then? Let's get to it." With luck his words would start to put Harry more at ease so that he could learn more about the cause behind the latest puzzle.

Harry didn't know if he'd ever get over his amazement; every time Snape opened his mouth he made it more and more apparent that when divested of the dark thoughts behind his customary reactions, his reactions became very different. Almost human as opposed to his variations of cold and impersonal or raging fury.

The latest thing that set his head shaking to himself in disbelief was Snape's simple acceptance that what he found was the best option rather than questioning his intelligence or capabilities. When Snape shifted himself up enough to reach behind him and fetch the sheet acting as a pillow he quickly paled and fell back again; apparently he'd overestimated either his progress in healing or underestimated his own injuries. Or perhaps he was just a glutton for punishment.

Whichever it was, he couldn't be comfortable with his head and neck at that angle. Harry knelt at his Professor's side and carefully helped to readjust Snape's head into an angle more natural to biology. Slowly the color started to return to Snape's face, a gasp of relief pressing past his lips. After drawing back again, Harry stretched- his hands felt numb and chill like they were about to fall asleep, so he shook them back into life.

Making sure Snape kept still and was aware of him, Harry slowly reached forward again to carefully raise Snape's head a little and slip the pillow sheet from underneath. Although he didn't flinch from the contact, Harry couldn't help but rub his fingers off on the sheet afterwards, unsurprised to find a residue on Snape's hair. He was surprised, however, to find that the sheet where he rubbed his hands slowly turned black despite the lack of colored stains on his fingers. An oddity that Snape's vaunted greasy hair turned out to be a clear substance which changed the color of his hair to black. Wordlessly looking down again at the man who was trying to relax, Harry wondered what Snape's true hair color was. Something he might well find out if they were stuck out here for too much longer.

Muttering something vague about putting the cloth to good use, Harry got up again to use the bent nail he'd seen sticking out of the rickety and splintered shelves so that he could start tearing the sheet into strips. He spent some time doing so in silence, thankful for the distance from the continual emotional barrage beating against the thick layer of non-emotion that he had been keeping himself behind since the beginning of last summer. His thoughts eventually returned to the curiosities of the past two days, but they did so once more from behind his self made shields.

Eventually Harry finished and with a touch of reluctance returned to Snape's side to set to work with Snape's help. Keeping the leg straight as Harry bound the planks on either side was difficult, but once in place Snape almost seemed to be in less pain. Harry set the broom handle down and made certain to stay on Snape's right side to support his head as together they tried to get Snape sitting up. At first Snape paled again, but he insisted it wasn't from pain. When he turned a pale shade of green around the edges, the source of Snape's distress became clear. "You're still too concussed to move, I think," Harry advised.

Snape didn't look pleased, but allowed himself to be lowered back to the ground. Once he was back at rest Snape looked more comfortable, and Harry distractedly brushed a lock of hair from Snape's eye... not realizing that his hand came to rest on Snape's forehead until he thought to himself that the hurt man didn't seem to be running a fever and his temperature wasn't too low and his skin wasn't clammy either. Blinking once, Harry retrieved his hand which was faintly tingling again. Snape sighed quietly, his eyes nearly closing with sudden exhaustion, sinking finally into unconsciousness again.

"Severus? Hey, Sev!"

The brown haired boy looked up grumpily from his book from where he sat cross-legged on his bed, only to witness the spectacle of Lucius Malfoy walking into their dormitory with an almost concerned expression on his face. It must not have been too important as it disappeared soon after Malfoy had set eyes upon him. "Ah. Severus. How did your holidays go?"

Raising an eyebrow at the unnecessary question, Severus returned his attention to his book although he kept his tone of voice absently pleasant. "Well enough, and yours?"

Lucius gracefully moved to sit on his own bed, "Once I was able to get away from visiting relatives I had a restful time of it. Did you speak to your father about visiting over the summer?"

As the conversation showed signs of becoming something other than the 'exchange pleasantries and let Severus be until he's less occupied', instead growing into the 'it's time to drag Severus away from his books and into something more interesting' sort of conversation, Severus sighed and found a stopping point in what he was reading before looking up again. "Yes, I did. He seemed quite agreeable to the idea. I suppose he'll take the time to continue his research on his own." From Severus' expression it seemed as though he was disappointed over missing the opportunity to work with his father.

Unleashing his charming smile upon the lightly tanned figure opposite him, Lucius purred, "Oh, don't be like that Severus. You won't regret the time spent, I assure you. There are some people who will be attending the manor that you really should meet. In the meantime, come with me."

With a sigh, Severus shut his book. "Where do you intend to spend your last few hours of freedom before you are shackled once more to the heinous task of schoolwork then?" Severus clearly didn't have the same opinion of studying that Lucius did, not including himself in the dry description.

"Oh, I've decided to try out my new Christmas present. I do believe your father also gifted you with the latest in Cleansweep technology?" At Severus' solemn nod, Lucius loftily replied, "Well then, let's scare up Evan and Nathan for some Quidditch."

Rising smoothly from his bed and adjusting his robes, Severus muttered not quite sotto voice, "I'd wager you'd convinced Father to make the purchase out of determination to win the cup." Lucius just smiled beatifically and led the way out.

The other two boys were easily found in the Slytherin common room, and once they fetched their brooms the four of them headed out to the snow-laden Quidditch fields. Pairing up in their customary teams, Lucius and Evan took up Chaser positions while Severus and Nathan were their respective Keepers. In a game of two on two, the Snitch was usually left out by most other players- however with their own version of the game they incorporated the smallest ball, allowing for anyone to catch the elusive ball should they happen upon it. A sacrifice of ten points was permissible to one's team if one caught the Snitch in the meantime.

Being the new Quidditch captain for the Slytherin team, Lucius decided to include another distraction in the form of the bludgers. No one used the bats; he announced it would be for dodging and maneuvering practice. The game began smoothly, and the new addition of the bludgers was an interesting challenge.

Severus carefully watched as Nathan tossed the quaffle to Evan after Lucius had made a score, but as Evan started his trip towards Severus, Lucius knocked Evan aside from behind and snatched the ball away. Evan hadn't managed to get more than one or two shots past Severus in the two hours they'd been playing, but Severus preferred to keep Lucius happy by maintaining a secure goal when the others were in their half of the field.

As the other two raced back towards Nathan while warding off one of the bludgers, Severus checked around for the Snitch and was surprised to see it nearby at the top of his goals. With an exclamation and an efficient movement, Severus swept towards the Snitch and flew upwards to catch it. He was even more surprised to find himself suddenly falling from his broom, blindsided by the other bludger which had come at him from behind.

He heard the others call out to him, and then he knew no more.

Severus awoke with a gasp, his body jerking in reaction to the last part of the dream that flew through his thoughts. Looking around wildly, he spotted Harry's approach. "Professor?" Harry frowned. "What happened?" The words were concerned, but the tone was slightly deadened.

"I..." Severus frowned distractedly, "I had a dream..."

Curious, Harry asked, "What sort of dream? Do you... remember anything at all?"

"We were ... flying," Severus slowly admitted. "On brooms," he added with a glance at the damaged broomstick leaning against the door. "We were playing a game of some sort and... I fell."

Harry grinned for a moment although the expression didn't completely reach his eyes. "Sounds like you dreamed about playing Quidditch. You played Quidditch? What position?"

Pressing his lips in disapproval for a moment, Severus felt his energy ebbing again from him as the adrenaline rush wore off. "I don't know," he murmured. "I remember guarding hoops... reaching for something small in the air when I got hit from behind."

Harry winced at the description. "Ouch," was his comment as he sat down at Severus' right side. "Maybe you'd gotten hit by a bludger. Or another player," he suggested after a moment's thought of Slytherin tactics.

Severus' voice was thoughtful and quiet, "The ... other players were on the other side of the field. Do you think it might be a memory then? Rather than a dream? It seemed quite real, but... flying?"

"I hope it was a memory," Harry responded, surprising himself. "It'd mean you're on the way to recovery."

Severus absorbed the words thoughtfully before murmuring, "We were near a castle. Is that your school?"

Harry nodded. "Unless you played Quidditch near another castle, it sounds like Hogwarts, Professor Snape."

"Severus," the other automatically corrected. "They called me Severus there, and it felt... normal." The quiet tone of his voice made Severus sound younger than he was to Harry. "Call me that for now, please."

Hesitating a moment, Harry nodded, "Alright then." Silence dominated the shack for a few minutes, but it wasn't an entirely uncomfortable one.


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