Chapter Forty-Eight: Power and Potions
Harry gasped at the sheer amount of magic flowing through his fingers. It was the most amazing rush of power he had ever felt; as though his magic was multiplied and focused more than he'd ever thought possible and for a moment he reveled in how fantastic it felt. But then he came back to himself, saw what had just happened and felt time slow to a crawl.
All the way down the hall, Harry could make out the motionless form of Sirius slumped against the wall. It was as he started to grow numb with mortification and shock that he vaguely remembered the nearby sound of something falling heavily to the floor. Something was there, leaned partially against his leg. Slowly, Harry turned and looked down at the untidy pile of robes and unconscious Potions master. Just as slowly, Harry felt his knees weaken and sent him next to the pale figure that was barely breathing. With his leftover impetus, Harry moved away to keep from touching Severus in fear that he would harm him further.
As time seemed to speed back up to its normal progress, Harry heard a rustling of robes down the hallway, and a murmured, "Oh, my," as a white haired figure bent over the Sirius shape there. Harry couldn't bring himself to move or glance over as the numbness had spread throughout his mind while his entire body still echoed with that refreshing wash of magic. It thrummed along his nerves, sparkling with the energy he hadn't released from himself, even as his thoughts were starting to travel inwards, circular and unproductively repeating. 'One is the power while the other is the key...'
The next time Harry became aware of the outside world, he absorbed the sight of a worried Madame Pomfrey who was standing next to his bed, an empty potions vial in one hand, and noticed the taste of potion in his mouth. The hospital wing again. They hadn't made it down the hall before he had gotten himself and Severus into trouble again, this time including Sirius as well. Just great, he addressed to himself with the beginnings of self-loathing.
"Ah, good," Madame Pomfrey smiled gently, bending to check his eyes and pulse. "Rest there a moment while I gather a few more potions, Mr. Potter. Your Godfather and Professor Snape are both going to be all right, but they just need a little help." As she bustled off to her room in the back, Harry noticed the increased lighting in the ward. Puzzled, he lifted his gaze to one of the windows. Daylight. It must be the next day at the very least.
When Madame Pomfrey returned with a small rack of vials, she helped Harry to his feet, giving him a pair of slippers to wear and handing him one of the vials after making sure Harry was strong enough to walk. "Give Severus this; it's an energy potion. Now that he's stable, between the potion and your healing he should recover quickly." Escorting Harry to Severus' bedside, she drew a chair close by so that Harry could sit down.
Not wanting to look at Severus for fear of proving what he'd done to him, Harry instead studied the potion vial. It did indeed look like some sort of energy potion as he recognized one of the more colorful ingredients suspended in the liquid. Harry reminded himself that he needed to give Severus the potion now, but he couldn't bring himself to look up, or to reach out and touch the older wizard. Instead, he sat there until he heard Madame Pomfrey call to him, "Mr. Potter, is there a problem?"
Harry slowly glanced over at Pomfrey who had just finished giving Sirius his potions and was smoothing his covers into order as Sirius sighed quietly and curled onto his side, sleeping now. "Have you given Professor Snape the potion?" the Matron gently coaxed, apparently well able to see that the vial was still full. That concern had reappeared as she awaited his reply or any indication that Harry was aware and able to comply. He didn't want to worry Madame Pomfrey, but the only movement he found himself easily able to perform was to scoot his chair safely away from Severus whom he still couldn't make himself look at.
"What's wrong, Harry?" Madame Pomfrey asked as she slowly made her way over to him. Kneeling at Harry's side, she murmured a quiet command to Harry's chair which promptly let off a soft diagnostic glow, assuring her that Harry wasn't in any physical distress. He'd been finding more and more that it paid to pay attention in classes...
"I ... can't touch him," Harry managed to mutter, pressing himself carefully against the back of the chair. "I don't want to hurt him or Sirius again."
So cold ... tired ...
He sensed that he had a body, and it ached. Blood flowed sluggishly, but it flowed. Air moved in and out of lungs. A heart beat steadily under careful watch of what felt like the diagnosis charms of a medi-witch.
The taste of foxglove and other herbs called to mind the potions he had been given. But although his body functioned ... he was so cold ... so drained.
The warmth of his magic was reduced to the smallest of flames, kept alight for the moment but in dire need of ... warmth. He ached so...
He thought there might be warmth close by. Close but not there. Not touching. The warmth called to him; it was near and he needed it. He was submerged in the cold and couldn't move- hadn't even thought of moving until now.
He tried to surface, to find the warmth.
"Touching him won't hurt either of them, Harry," the nurse tried to assure him. "Remember that you share a gift with Severus now, and that you can heal each other."
Harry bit his lip, shaking his head with grief and guilt. "I hurt them both," he muttered in an effort to keep his voice from cracking. "I didn't think- I just acted. And I drained Severus of his power and used it to hurt Sirius. ... and the power felt so ... amazing."
"Well now," a weak voice rasped from the bed, "I didn't get to ... do that directly ... but I can ... celebrate ... that it was my power ... throwing him against the wall." Surprised, Harry found his gaze met by black eyes that were barely opened. Surrounding Severus were pale wisps of an aura, but nothing he saw was in the least accusatory. A bit wary, perhaps, but that was entirely understandable, considering.
Harry remained unmoving, both because he didn't want to cause Severus further unease, and because he still was unable to make himself reach towards him, even with the renewed urgings from Severus' aura. Harry tried to resist the near-to-siren call which insisted that he do something to bring the aura back to normal, to see silken hints of darkness veiled behind a deliberate calm rather than this faint copy of his teacher's inner self.
Feeling his hand shake at his thoughts, Harry tried lifting it and was able to do so. Putting the sealed vial of potion on the bedside table, he could sense his muscles tightening in protest when he pressed his hand forward towards Severus' arm, the tremor increased just before contact.
When Harry's hand touched, the tingling and numbing sensation of the healing washed over him and he gasped in relief. An echo of his gasp came from the faintly trembling body on the bunk next to him, and Severus' eyes closed again. Worried and uneasy, Harry found it much easier to reach with his other hand and got the sensation of closing the connection; it felt much more stable ... right to do it this way. The way that Severus' further relaxed under his hands seemed to confirm that as well. Severus was shifted briefly as Pomfrey retrieved the vial of energy potion and administered it to him.
Time seemed to change again as Harry concentrated upon Severus' welfare; he became less aware of what was going on around him. Slowly Severus' aura began to fill in with color, although at the moment it was muddled- as though it were sand being stirred up in dark and cold waters. Harry was further relieved to see the whole of the aura was limned by the paler colors of healing he'd seen before, and he tried to keep his thoughts at least neutral in tone. He couldn't bring them to be actively encouraging due to the load of guilt and self hatred he was experiencing and trying to keep from Severus.
A while later, he heard quiet talking and sensed movement nearby. A curtained partition was being wheeled around Severus' bunk and his chair. The voices of Madame Pomfrey and Dumbledore murmured in the background. From the words he was able to vaguely interpret, it had been Dumbledore who found and brought the three of them to the Hospital Ward over fifteen hours ago now. Poppy was insisting that Harry take a meal in the ward, sending Dumbledore down to the kitchens to make the arrangements even though the Headmaster was full well able to do so from wherever he wished to. Harry felt a fleeting gratitude towards the nurse for sending him away, but he also couldn't help but feel a fainter gratitude towards the Headmaster for knowing when to leave.
Harry jumped in surprise when Severus spoke again, his voice quiet but much steadier than before. "Lucius' potion."
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