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When Severus had first attempted to reach Harry's thoughts, he had encountered a violent, freezing storm of sensation; her mind was in a state of chaos. It had been impossible to remain. That had been what it was like in the first several weeks after she had destroyed Voldemort.

Eventually, Charlie had returned to Romania, but a Weasley came by to check on Harry once a day. Sometimes that Weasley was Charlie, but most often it was Ginny, Fred, George, or Molly.

Albus had persuaded Sirius to join Remus as a Hogwarts' teacher by the time the school had reopened two months after Voldemort's last attack. This would allow him to be with his lover and his godchild, while also permitting Minerva to rest.

By this time, the vehement screaming of the "wind" of Harry's mind was only an occasional gust.

Hermione, who was living at Novitiate One in Hogsmeade while looking for a home and continuing to train as a medi-witch and studying with an established haruspex, came to visit her friend each day, looking stern and deliberately cheerful as she related news of her pregnancy's progression.

The rush of Harry's thoughts had become nothing but a whisper by the time Miss Granger had entered her second trimester.

Poppy kept an eye on the former student while steadfastly refusing to permit the many Gryffindor requests to visit the Girl Who Lived to Defeat Voldemort, and she had thwarted the attempt of an unscrupulous journalist to take pictures of the comatose hero, half-squashing the individual when she transfigured into an insect to get away--Skeeter her name was. She was still recovering at St. Mungo's.

Harry's mental emanations had become almost impossible to detect about the time the press and other interested parties had stopped their attempts to circumvent the wards placed around the Infirmary.

After six months, in fact, the Infirmary was actually quiet at times. But it was never empty, for when everyone else had gone to bed, Severus Snape would visit Harry.

Tonight was no different.

"I have just graded the most unimpressive collection of essays on the uses of asphodel that it has ever been my misfortune to read, Miss Potter. When I think of the aptitude toward potion-making--toward basic thinking--displayed by the newest members of House Gryffindor in particular, I am not certain it is within my power to teach these students anything at all. I am almost convinced that I could better bear Mr. Longbottom's presence in my classroom than that of Marcus Cavendish."

Snape stared at Harry's smooth features, pausing in the recount of his day. There was not even a flicker of a reaction. It did, however, please him to see that the young woman did not appear to be having any frightening dreams.

"You are missing the most stoic pregnancy in the history of witches, you know," he said thoughtfully.

He suspected that he could reach Harry if he would hit upon the right topic.

"Miss Granger remains firm in her desire to remain alone and in training. Even Alastor Moody has stopped trying to persuade her to leave. Oh, she shows tremendous promise in both her fields, and she seems in good health, but I have to wonder when her indefatigable attitude will make way for her grief. . . . Perhaps she is waiting for the birth of her child. . . . Perhaps she is waiting for her friend to wake up."

Wake up, Harry, Severus thought, reaching into the young woman's mind again. It was like standing in the middle of a field after a long snowfall: silent save for the heaviness of the quiet. I cannot hear your thoughts, but I know that you must be having some. I know that you are in here.

"And I knew that you'd be here, as well, dear boy," Professor Dumbledore said.


"Have you eaten today?"

"Surely you are joking, Albus?"

The other man chuckled. "Dobby is as good as his word, and you do seem to have put on some weight. . . . How is the patient?"

"I cannot reach her."

"It was a great shock to her system."

"So you have said."

"When she's ready, Severus, she'll wake up."

"This is not sleep."

"No, it is a healing coma."

"She could be this way for years."

"She could wake up tomorrow."

Snape turned to look at the older wizard. "Was it worth it?" he spat angrily.

Albus looked stricken. He was ill-prepared, he had discovered in recent months, to deal with Severus' fury. He thought of the war: Hundreds of people had died, and many more had been wounded, in the final assault on the Ministry, Hogsmeade, Hogwarts, and various towns throughout Britain in Voldemort's push for power. The veil over the magical world had almost been ripped away by the dark wizard's activities. Aurors and Ministry officials were still putting things to rights, and the clamor over Harry's condition, and the condition of the war's other heroes, had yet to diminish because of a disturbing effect of the war.

Voldemort and his Death Eaters had used wasting magic against the battle mages and other citizens in the fighting, which caused otherwise healthy looking people to take ill and die quite suddenly. These unexpected and bizarre deaths were fueling a terrible panic. There had not yet been a true accounting of the war's damage. Perhaps there never would be.

"Yes, it was worth it."

"If . . . Minerva dies . . . will you still feel that way?"

Albus did not hesitate to respond. "I will, Severus, and she shares my view."

"If Harry dies, I do not . . . I do not know what I will do," Severus admitted, his flare of resentment toward the older wizard cooling as it was dampened by his despair.

Since his abrupt liberation from the Dark Lord, the Potions master had found that the only thing keeping him from breaking apart was the connection he felt to Harry. If she died, he felt that his only reason for existing would extinguish with her.

It's not a healthy situation for you--or her--should she awaken.

But it is certainly an understandable way to feel after what you have endured, old friend. "Harry is not going to die," Albus said, squeezing his friend's shoulder in reassurance.

Severus flinched at the other wizard's touch. He wasn't in the mood to be reassured. Anger burnt through unwelcome emotion so much better than pity. "I am not as generous as Minerva is, you know."


"I will not forgive you."

Albus' face fell and he dropped his hand. Severus had not forgiven him for keeping secrets with Harry from him.

"I'll leave you to your vigil," he said, walking slowly away. I serve the Greater Good, he thought. I must remember that I serve the Greater Good.

It was not the comfort it once had been.

Severus, feeling close to rage again and damning himself for being unable to reign in his emotions, decided to leave, as well. He did not like being near Harry when he was angry. She had absorbed too much that was toxic without having to add his feelings to her burden.

"I will see you tomorrow, Miss Potter. Though I do not know why I bother coming to visit you at all, as you are a woefully inadequate hostess. It does become taxing to carry on a one-sided conversation."

As he left the infirmary, he thought, Please wake up, please wake up, please wake up . . . .

He did not find his personal mantra satisfying, but it was a necessity for him. It prevented him from having to think about what might happen when Harry actually did become conscious.


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