"HOW COULD YOU?" shouted Severus as soon as he'd slammed the door to the visiting room behind him. It felt like his feet were going to come out from under him, and as he screamed the same words at Dumbledore once more he couldn't stop the tears streaming down his face. This only infuriated him further, and made him feel all the more powerless. He hated that he could not control them.
"HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?"
"YOU KNEW! YOU KNEW I WAS HERE! YOU STOPPED ME FROM KILLING MYSELF JUST TO BRING ME HERE AND SHOW POTTER WHAT A FUCK-UP I AM, RIGHT? RIGHT?"
Albus knew he knew he knew he's trying to make me kill myself no that's paranoid he's trying to punish me for getting caught spying no no paranoia help help what's true and what's not?
Severus glared at the visitor window, and saw Potter standing at a distance out in the main area, white as a sheet. He suspected Potter was far enough he couldn't see the tears, but at this point Severus was almost too angry to care. Almost.
Severus growled and stomped to the window, pulling the shade down further so Potter couldn't see them.
"Albus, how could you," he said, his voice hollow, the blood draining from his face.
"Severus," Albus said quietly, reaching forward to put his hands on Severus' shoulder and bending slightly to his height.
"Don't touch me," growled Severus, pushing Dumbledore's hands away and backing against the wall. He pressed his shoulder blades into it. Safe. He wiped his face roughly with his dirty pyjama sleeve.
"I did not know that there was a fire," Albus said slowly, his forehead creased with concern. "I didn't know that Harry would end up here. He needs help too, and we had arranged for him to go to the teen ward. Then the fire happened, and they did not tell me where they were moving him. Remus did not know you were here, and Richard normally works on the teen ward and was therefore not informed of the history you two have. I'm sorry, Severus, truly. We will just have to work with it."
"We?" said Severus numbly, fury exploding inside him again. "We? You're ... YOU'RE LEAVING ME HERE? YOU NEVER MAKE TIME FOR ME! YOU ONLY VISITED ME ONCE WHEN I WAS IN THE HOSPITAL WING! I DON'T CARE IF YOU'RE BUSY - IF YOU GAVE A DAMN, YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!"
"Severus, I wanted to sit with you, I did," said Dumbledore, taking a step forward, his eyes wide.
"But you didn't!" said Severus, panting and out of breath, his fists clenched.
"I know," said Albus, his voice trembling, to Severus' surprise. "But the Order needed my attention. Your discovery changed the face of the operation - we needed new strategies immediately to reduce the risk -"
"The Order, of course, the Order!" Severus said, starting to pace. "It's always the Order over PEOPLE. Over ME. THE GREATER GOOD, RIGHT? RIGHT?"
Nurmengard, yeah, Nurmengard. I know you've been there. I know you know that saying - everyone does - "the Greater Good" carved across that arch, and you live every second by it! How did I never see it before?
Severus knew it was a low blow, but he didn't care. Dumbledore was famous for his defeat of Grindelwald, but Severus was starting to see a tyrant not so different before him as well. Severus was angry, hurt, and betrayed. A part of him knew that he was probably being irrational, that Dumbledore wasn't quite as cold as he was making him out to be, but the rest of him just didn't care.
"You know," he said in a dangerously quiet voice, "for someone who beat Grindelwald, you sure do sacrifice a lot of people."
Dumbledore backed away. All the colour had drained out of his face. The effect shocked Severus. He hadn't expected the words to cut that deep. He didn't understand that look on Albus' face, that look almost akin to fear. He knew he should have felt bad for making Albus look this way, but the hate inside his chest was still yearning for attention.
"What did you say?" Albus asked, his voice crackling and his eyes wide.
"I SAID," Severus bellowed. "FOR SOMEONE WHO BEAT GRIDELWALD, YOU SURE SACRIFICE A LOT OF PEOPLE!"
"Yes," said Dumbledore heavily, suddenly showing weakness and sinking into a chair. "Yes, I do. And I hate doing it."
"But you do anyway," Severus said, his words low and shaking with anger, his breathing coming in sharp gasps. "You never cared about me. All I am is a pawn to you, and my purpose is over. You said it was for her, but it was for you and your cause. It was always for you."
And Severus stormed out of the glass windowed visiting area. He glared at people, daring them to get in his way. They didn't. They were all scared of him, but that was alright. It was better that way. There was nobody to hurt but himself.
As Harry was led to the front office for a meeting, he watched in wonder through the gaps in the narrow blinds of the visiting room, where a furious conversation was taking place. Snape had looked halfway insane, still dressed in his pyjamas and his hair not combed as he bellowed at Dumbledore. Harry reminded himself that Snape very likely was halfway insane, what with being in the loony bin too. Harry didn't need to hear what was being shouted to know what Snape was berating Dumbledore about. He suspected Dumbledore had put a silencing charm on the room, which meant that nobody except those who thought to look through the partially shuttered window (the purpose of the windows being for security reasons, or so Harry was told) would know there was a heated verbal battle going on in there. Harry shrank back when Snape glared through the window and shut the blinds further.
Miserably, he then followed Richard and Remus, not pausing any longer. Before all of this, Dumbledore and Lupin had had a long discussion with him in the room while Snape went somewhere else. Harry suspected it was an attempt to get Snape to cool down a bit, but it obviously hadn't worked.
During their talk, Remus had apologized profusely for not alerting Dumbledore of the repairs on Willow Grove. But Harry didn't see the point in that, for he had no idea how they could have known that Snape would just so happen to be at the same place Harry was being shipped off to. Apparently he wasn't the only one that had cracked. Harry wasn't sure if he should feel relieved he wasn't the only one that had landed himself here, or if he should feel daunted by all of this. If Snape, the iron fist of Hogwarts cracked, then how could Harry even hope to stand the strain of the oncoming war?
They arrived at the office soon enough, and everyone sat down. Richard looked tired, and Remus looked like he was ready to keel over dead. Then again, Harry had never really known a time when Remus hadn't looked at least somewhat like that, so he wasn't all that worried.
"I am so sorry about all this," Richard sighed. "That's the problem when you mix two wards together."
"Is there any chance one of them can be moved?" Remus asked hopefully.
"I really hate to tell you two this," said Richard as he flipped through the rooming book, "but I don't think there is. I mean, we don't like to juggle patients around, especially if they're improving. We're full to bursting, and the other teens are all paired off, and everyone else has been settled for quite some time with their roommates - some for weeks. It just wouldn't be fair to them, because people tend to get pretty close to each other around here, when they're together for weeks, sometimes months at a time. And, until we get an opening it will be hard to shuffle things around. I'm sorry to say it, but I think you two will just have to work with it for now, at least for a few weeks until someone moves out. At least for now you only have to be in your rooms to sleep, and the rest of the day is pretty full. We try to keep people busy, so you'll be doing a lot of things throughout the day away from each other. You don't really have to see each other much anyway."
"Are you sure there isn't something that can be done?" Harry asked, pleaded, almost.
Richard sighed. "I'm sure, Harry. I'm really sorry. Under ordinary circumstances we could have made it work, but right now, things have been so messed up and hectic what with the repairs and the fire, that I don't think we'll be able to figure something out soon. Like I said, maybe in a week or two, or when we get some patients moved out. Until then, you're out of luck. I'm sorry."
"Okay," Harry said, deciding he might as well just accept it for what it was. He hadn't really expected this whole stay to be a good one anyway. Besides, he was used to terrible living arrangements, and when did complaining every get him out of them?
After that, Richard gave him his schedule and told him to go pick an activity, and Remus said goodbye. Remus seemed to be quite flustered and worried over the whole situation, but Harry found himself reassuring him that things probably couldn't get worse at this point.
That didn't seem to help for Remus. But it helped for Harry, who was thinking that maybe if there was enough conflict going on they might just decide to send him home early. He was cheered by this, and straightened his glasses before reading the schedule. It was eleven-o-clock in the morning, which meant he had until lunch at twelve to try out a few of the activities. There were three slots to pick from on his schedule: arts and crafts in the craft room, reading in the recreation room, or cards and wizards chess in the dining hall. Harry decided he would go read. He wasn't sure he had the energy to read right now, but he thought that he might as well try to get lost in the pages of a book. Anything to get away from his own thoughts.
Severus had hoped things would sink in, but they didn't. He still felt that this couldn't be happening, and at the moment he had started to wonder how his life could get any worse. He scowled deeply from a nook in the corner of the craft room as he folded paper cranes with a vengeance, the argument with Dumbledore still swirling in his head. The worst part was he couldn't even hide away in his room. HIS room. For all he knew Potter was there. That, and, he felt ridiculous. How was folding paper supposed to help him relax and get his mind off things?
Relax relax I don't need to relax. Fickle little paper things - Cranes, really they just fall apart fall apart, just like me and look how easily they fall into pieces just like me just like my mind -
He took one of the cranes which he had finished folding and sat tearing it to shreds as slowly as possible (look at it fall apart look at it fall apart). How could Dumbledore let this happen? How could he let Potter come here? Severus had started to think that maybe Potter had found out something was wrong with him, and then Potter had decided to fake some sort of mental illness to land himself here just so he could get some dirt on his nasty Professor in time for school to start again. Now that he thought of it, Severus wondered if Potter hadn't paid someone off to start that fire in the teen ward. No doubt he had enough gold.
Severus let out a haughty breath. No. He wasn't that paranoid ... yet. Potter couldn't have had a hand in that fire. Though he still did wonder if there really was anything wrong with the boy. Perhaps Albus was just overreacting. And then there was the matter of his betrayal, allowing Potter to be sent to Severus' ward, of all things. Severus had to admit that Albus had seemed downright shocked to find that Potter had ended up in Oak Tree. Of course, the shock may have seemed genuine enough, but Severus was still convinced that somehow Albus had merely gotten better at acting.
Staring at the little pile of paper shreds, Severus let out a deep breath that he hadn't realized he'd been holding. And just like that, the fight was gone from him. He was exhausted. He wished he didn't care about anything, and naturally, the mind's defence to pain and suffering, responded. Severus could feel himself going numb again. He could feel the cold sneaking up, as it always did when he had things on his mind he didn't want to think about. Leaving the pile of paper shreds on the table he stood up, and walked quietly across the room. People didn't pay much attention to him leaving. They were used to him ditching activities halfway through. There were a few that always did that, and Severus was hardly the only one with pyjamas on and his hair uncombed. It was the loony bin, after all, and it was probably a combination of his reputation and appearance that scared people away. People were too afraid to talk to him most of the time, whether he looked put together or not. They still thought he was a Death Eater.
Just like the rest of the world.
See? What's the point in staying when the world wants you gone?
Snape scoffed as he walked down the hallway. He was glad to see Potter was reading in the sitting area, because that meant that nobody would be in his room. It was his room. Not Potter's. He wished that he could have had someone else as a roommate. Anyone. Anybody. But nobody would share room with a mentally unstable Death Eater. Even an ex Death Eater at that. Not that they knew that he been discovered a few weeks before he ended up here, he thought to himself. Potter probably didn't either, but Potter likely wasn't bothered by his so called Death Eater status. He was probably just here because someone overreacted, or because he wanted to do a little snooping. Brat.
Severus pushed open the door and dragged himself into his room. He kicked his shoes off and flopped down onto his bed, pulling the covers up over his head. He was numb again. Blissfully numb. Potter was just a name now. Not a meddlesome boy, for the misty cloud had descended on his senses. He didn't care now. About anything. It was a blessing, and a curse. Depression always was, for him. It had always made it easier to clear his mind and resist the Dark Lord's Legilimency because it was difficult to discover the thoughts of a mind that didn't have the energy to think. Of course, when you needed to think, well, then you were shit out of luck.
Severus swore heavily under the covers. He wished he had been able to think that night, when the Dark Lord had called him for the last time. If he had been thinking it might not have been his last chance to spy for the Order. But most of all, he wished that Albus had just left him well enough alone up on that tower.