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Chapter Ten: Tonic and Tourism

Severus realized that he felt hands upon his chest after abruptly waking up and crying out the name. In a moment of blind panic he scrambled backwards until his back met with the rough surface of a wall made of wooden planks. Trying to get his breath under control, he eventually became aware of someone talking to him with rapidly paced words; he let his eyes follow the voice to its source... he remembered the boy. Harry.

"... It's me. you're safe- well at least for now, I mean. Whatever you were dreaming isn't here. Well at least I hope it's not here from what you seem to think of it- Sorry. Just calm down; I'm the only sentient being other than you within- well, at least- some distance. Maybe you should be just listening to my tone of voice; I don't seem to be doing well in the reassurance end of things where words are concerned. But it's not all that bad, really. Yes, that's it, remember where you are now..."

Gradually the words and their meanings penetrated the dull horror surrounding Severus' consciousness, helping him calm down further although it didn't lessen the impact of the source of his distress. He lifted a hand, staying Harry's rambling monologue so that he could attempt to frame one of his own. "... Dream. ... but it was so real... I believe it may be ... further memories returning to me."

The immediateness of the situation must have taken hold of Harry as he seemed to forget to be wary in his concern and his wish for knowledge. "You said the name again. Albus. That's Professor Dumbledore, the Headmaster," he prompted.

Again the realization that came with the most recent recollection took a hold of Severus and he slowly shook his head with disbelief. He tried to deny the possibility - the man he felt such trust of when he first saw him in the dream... doing such a similar thing that the other... man did. What they did... and why. He still didn't understand fully, but he was determined to figure it out.

In the meantime, Severus took a steadying breath and murmured, "My health seems to have further improved." Harry looked ready to protest the change of subject, but Severus quickly continued, "With assistance I believe I could make it outside, and I would very much appreciate the chance to take care of certain physical necessities." Harry's protest reluctantly died upon his lips and the boy stood. From his expression however, Severus knew that the subject would be coming up again soon. To further distance it from the immediate presence, Severus added, "It would be best for us both to take another dose of that draught as well. How are you feeling?"

"Better, sir- I mean- Severus," Harry replied when Severus gave him a meaningful look at the honorific. "The bruises are gone."

"Good. Fetch the potion. With luck, we'll start travelling within the hour." Harry retrieved the bottle, opening it and cleaning the top of it before offering it to Severus who had delicately leaned himself back against the wall. Showing further improvement, Severus was able to lift the bottle on his own to take a measured swallow. Contemplatively murmuring the names of another few herbs, he passed the bottle back to Harry who cleaned the top again.

"This doesn't do harm if you don't have anything to heal, does it?" Harry asked, eyeing the contents through the opening.

"If you're a student of mine and I'm teaching potions, shouldn't you know that from the ingredients I've named so far?" Severus was somewhat amused but no longer disbelieving of the idea of his being a teacher, although still unused to the concept of having advanced so far beyond his recent memory of his school years.

Harry's reply came out as more of a mumble, "Er... I'm not the best at Potions, sir- Severus."

Severus was further amused, but tched at the reply. "The potion is a healing balm, but it is also helpful as a bolster against that which can weaken the body."

"Very useful," Harry commented after a swig. "I can see why you kept that much with you." After carefully closing the container, he set it down to one side.

"It is a rather large amount," Severus considered with a puzzled frown at the bottle, transferring his gaze to the sleeve in which he had replaced the small box. "Enough to heal one person over several times between the two bottles. Was I also a... healer of some sort? Did I visit the wounded?"

Harry choked a little at the idea, briefly muttering, "Not quite. Let's just say this is probably not the first time you've needed the potions." As he spoke the words Harry grew very thoughtful, as though considering something he'd never realized before. Wanting to review his own thoughts and potential memories, Severus allowed the subject to drop for the moment.

"Let's be on about it, then." Severus gathered his feet below him and cautiously pressed against the wooden wall behind him. When the wall creaked alarmingly, he sighed and moved to accept more of Harry's aid to lift himself to his unsteady feet. Closing his eyes, Severus waited a few moments for the slight dizziness he had to lessen itself. When it had mostly subsided, he opened his eyes and moved to take his first cautious step.

The trip outside wasn't without difficulty, but it was eventually accomplished with the use of the detached broom handle as a sturdy walking stick. Harry politely turned his back and hastily put a few very large trees between him and Snape while the professor did his... business. He'd speculated returning to the shelter of the shed altogether, but his conscience demanded that he remain within reasonable listening distance should Snape run into a problem. At least a problem that didn't involve his... business.

Thankfully there were no mishaps, and Snape stood leaning heavily against one of the large trees next to the shack since they risked the shack falling over if it was used as a prop instead. //Good shack. Good shack. Don't fall on us before we go,// Harry mentally told the shed, patting it lightly and receiving an odd look from Snape as a result. "I'll get the broom and those cloths for us to use later," Harry called before going in. "How is your leg holding up?"

"I don't think I'll need the splint for too much longer. Perhaps tomorrow," Snape replied in his thoughtful too-young voice. It wasn't that Snape sounded like a kid, Harry decided as he started to collect and fold the covers. It was that there was little trace of biting sarcasm, irritation, anger, impatience or just downright hatred in his mannerisms. Giving the shed one last visual sweep for anything useful, Harry grabbed the broomstick and thankfully quit their unstable shelter for the much fresher air outside.

The air appeared to be more agreeable to Snape as well who was taking slow deep breaths of it, no doubt to flush out the tang of motor oil and sawdust from his lungs, Harry figured. As he approached, Snape greeted him with the question of, "Did you see any sign of habitation during your time here?"

Glad to see Snape continuing to take an active part in their survival, Harry shook his head and pointed. "The only thing showing that anyone ever comes here is the small road in that direction about a mile off. It's paved but it looks like it was done a long time ago. No paint on the road splitting it into lanes- not that it's really large enough for two lanes- and no traffic signs on it for at least an hour from that direction," and again Harry pointed in the general direction that he had come from when he was still in the car with the Dursleys. "At least I think it might have been an hour, but I was terribly bored on the drive and Dudley was taking up most of the backseat, so I could be wrong about the amount of time." He decided to bring that aspect of his monologue to a halt at Snape's curiously arched eyebrow. Continuing his description he indicated the opposite direction, "There's a small stream that way in about one half of a mile that had some bushes nearby and an apple tree on the way. We should get some water if we're going to travel, plus I don't want to go back in the direction that guy came from. I'm hoping that when you've healed more you might be able to do magic again without getting hurt." With that information relayed, Harry took a pause for breath.

Taking a breath of his own, Snape murmured, "Let's head for the stream then. You can finally tell me the full story of what has happened since you were left here on your own." Harry wasn't certain of it, but he thought Snape gave him a sympathetic look that he decided to not think about. With Harry's lack of response, Snape added, "It would be best for me to be aware of everything involved; there isn't a reason that I can see to avoid the topic any longer."


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