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Chapter Forty-Six: Depression and Declamations

Harry felt Severus shiver and then stir, his first signs of waking up during the time Harry been working on healing him. "Imperio," Severus muttered, sluggishly raising one hand and hiding his face behind its scarce cover.

Moving his hand from Severus' shoulder, Harry furrowed his brow with concern at the word and the ideas it sparked. He tried soothing Severus' arm in an effort to encourage him to awaken further. "Good evening, Severus," Harry managed with a smile should Severus look at him. "Feeling better?"

"Harry," Severus murmured from behind his hand, not entirely without confusion, but not without warmth either. "What's happened?" The hand was lowered, and black eyes raised to meet with green.

"We had a bit of an encounter out in the Forbidden Forest while we were gathering the Fluxweed. I think that Sirius heard me humming when he was coming through the forest on the way to report to Dumbledore. He must've seen you behind me and ... well, he attacked," he muttered, feeling horrible about the occasion, unable to meet Severus' gaze again. "He tackled you against a tree and you hit your head badly; knocked you unconscious. We brought you here. He's with the Headmaster now." Overwhelmed with guilt, Harry was prepared to cringe at the first sound of anger or sarcasm.

Severus' voice was carefully modulated as he awoke further. "I see."

There was a longer pause as Severus either considered his next words, or prepared to explode. Harry was afraid to check his aura for the answer; he was afraid to know. He didn't want to have to deal with the clash between his Godfather and his ... friend? Harry sighed as depression started to dig its fingers into his flesh in earnest. Severus wasn't really a friend yet; he didn't quite trust Harry in kind. Some example of a Gryffindor he was; fearful and insecure.

Knowing that there were reasons behind Severus' lack of trust in most anyone that Harry couldn't begin to guess, Harry slumped further, his worry and desolation starting to grow as he imagined Severus' rejection and harsh words being delivered in scathing tones at any moment. As more time passed in silence, Harry's guilt and depression continued to spiral, growing to encompass his awareness- when Severus finally spoke, he flinched, despite the deliberate quietness of tone.

"Stop that Harry. You're obviously doing yourself harm as I seem to have just acquired the aura sight."

Harry looked up in surprise and found that Severus was right about the aura; he wasn't able to see Severus' any longer. He quickly dropped his eyes again as he still didn't want to see Severus' expression; as a matter of fact, his growing depression seemed to be draining his energy and will to take action. No matter what he did or said, it just wouldn't matter. Severus and Sirius would always hate each other, and now Severus would hate him again, too.

Severus was at an increasing loss as to what to do about the boy who seemed to becoming mired in the throes of a black depression. More sternly, he said, "I told you to stop it, Harry. There is no call for you to beat on yourself like that." With a moment's inspiration, he added, "It's not your fault that Sirius did what he did."

"Yes it is," Harry insisted wearily. "I was humming in the Forbidden Forest of all places. If I hadn't attracted Sirius' attention I would have gotten the attention of something even more unfriendly."

"There's something more unfriendly?" Severus asked in a weak attempt at humor. It didn't seem to work as Harry's aura grew even darker with his negative emotions. "Harry. You're straining my eyes with the aura you've currently got on display." Now it swirled with even more guilt. "I can see that I'm going to have to work with you on your sense of humor as well as your potions skills tuition." With that Harry finally looked up at him, surprise briefly lightening the colors around the younger wizard.

"You'd work with me?"

"Consider it a duty to prevent the wizarding world from collapsing under your influence." Harry looked crestfallen and the surprise darkened to a sad resignation. Severus shook his head, "There goes that martyrdom of yours. Just like a true Gryffindor. A little time with my Slytherins should instill a few more rational impulses in you."

Harry stirred enough to glance up doubtfully. "Slytherins?"

Bracing himself up on his elbow, Severus smirked faintly, "You don't imagine that you are alone in receiving special treatment?" Severus couldn't help but feel a surge of bitter resentment as he mutters, "Someone has to care for the students of my house." Pausing long enough to compose himself back into neutrality, Severus added, "I offer them tuition and counsel them when needed. If you and I are to be ... linked in this manner, I will not cease seeing to the needs of my students. You will learn to deal with them. And they will learn to deal with you."

This proclamation didn't seem to improve Harry's mood; if anything it blackened it further. With a sigh, Severus tried again. "Such interactions will be good for both you and them. I am all in favor of competition between houses, but the rivalry needs to be a controlled one or it will become an advantage for Voldemort and a crippling disadvantage for us. It would mean people who refuse to work together on the basis of the house they were in- even after graduating Hogwarts. It would also mean prejudice levied against certain people for the same reason, and for those people to feel they had no choice but to follow the only one who seemed to hold any sort of respect or concern for them. All students must have the freedom to make their choice on their own, and not be pushed to it."

The words were hardly cheering, but Severus wasn't one for sweetness and light, and Harry was well aware of that. If the boy was maturing as quickly as he seemed to be, he should come to understand Severus' reasoning behind his words. To see the attempt he was making to treat him more like an equal. In order to reinforce the impression, Severus reached out with one hand and rested it firmly upon Harry's shoulder. As he was opening his mouth to speak again, an angry voice echoed across the ward.

"Get your hands off my godson, Snape! What do you think you're doing?" Black tromped his way over in a rage, one hand already going for his wand. Being a practical man who tried to be rational even in the face of onrushing Blacks, Snape released Harry's shoulder and carefully drew his hand back to rest where it could be seen on the bed. With a mixture of irritation and a certain amount of foreboding, Severus noticed his wand sitting on the table next to his bed, precious feet away. It was Harry's turn to open his mouth as though to speak, only to be interrupted.

"You will keep your voice down in my hospital ward, Mr. Black, or I will have you restrained and sedated!"

There was nothing more intimidating or more powerful, Severus reflected, than the Hogwarts Mediwitch, Poppy Pomfrey, when she was acting to protect the patients in her care.

Nothing at all like an enraged badger.


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