*BEEP* “Hello, Mr. Snape. This is Chelsea from Children’s Hospital. If you could please give us a call back urgently, that would be greatly appreciated. My number here is 020 7946 0142. Thank you!”
Severus sighed as he transfigured his Death Eater robes into his more ‘respectable’ muggle attire. He had just finished delivering the potions the Dark Lord had requested, delivering the antidotes and a smattering of other potions to Dumbledore, and receiving a list of medical potions the Hospital Wing would need to replenish its stocks for the coming year. In some ways he was ahead, but in others he was just as behind as ever. If Draco hadn’t have been working with him, he certainly would not have gotten the Hospital Wing’s potions done.
He had hoped for the afternoon off, but it seemed that would not be the case. Elias was supposed to be getting discharged from the hospital this afternoon, though with that ominous phone call now on his answering machine, he wondered if that would be the case. Any number of things could have happened to the boy, and he could have been the root cause of them as well. Especially if he had any magical outbursts.
He was planning on going to pick up the boy now, though he felt it would be pertinent to call the hospital back before going, in case there was a change of plans.
“Draco?” He called down to the lab before picking up the phone and preparing to dial the number the woman on the other end of the line had given. “When did the phone ring?”
“About four hours ago,” Draco’s muffled voice could be heard from within the lab. “I was brewing at the time and was wearing a bubble-head charm.”
“I’m going to call them back incase plans have changed, though I doubt they will have, then I plan to go get him,” Severus said as he dialed in the number.
“May I come?” Draco said, the sound of his stool being moved against the stone floor nearly drowning out the question. He was admittedly curious about what a muggle hospital would look like and hoped to meet the boy as soon as possible. He was curious about everything regarding the mysterious son of his mentor. Also, he was beginning to feel quite claustrophobic living in such a small house and spending most of his time in the basement preparing ingredients.
“No,” Severus said bluntly, listening to the sound of the phone ringing in one ear. “There is no floo network connection.”
“6th floor, this is Chelsea?” a woman’s voice said from the other side of the phone. She sounded rather frazzled, as though something had been happening that she had been pulled away from in order to answer the phone.
“This is Severus Snape, you called?” Severus said, listening to Draco coming up the stairs with his other ear. Undoubtedly he had questions as to what he would need to be doing while Severus went to fetch Elias from the hospital.
“Oh, yes. Mr. Snape,” Chelsea said, sighing in frustration and relief. “You are planning to pick your son up today, yes? He has had discharge orders in for several hours now.”
“Yes, I will be arriving in a few minutes,” Severus sneered. “Was that the only reason you called?”
“No, sir,” Chelsea sneered back. “There was an incident today involving your son and one of our volunteers. From what it looked like, he bodily threw her from the room. There were no injuries, thankfully, and the volunteer does not want to press assault charges, but we were hoping when we called you four hours ago that you would be able to weigh in on the situation and help calm him down. He was very upset at whatever led to the incident.”
Severus repressed the urge to growl in frustration. Of course, P-Elias had to go and do something ridiculous just before he was to be discharged from the hospital. “I shall discuss this incident with him when I arrive. Goodbye.”
He quickly hung up the phone and turned to Draco who was now standing next to him. The young Malfoy had his arms crossed and an eyebrow raised in a manner very similar to what Narcissa would do when she was curious about something she wasn’t supposed to be overhearing. Or Bellatrix when she was debating whether to torture someone or just kill them right off. Despite his obvious Malfoy appearance, there were some very prominent Black traits in him.
“He sent a volunteer flying across a room?” Draco said, a bit of awe tingeing his voice. “Has he been getting training in wandless magic?”
Severus sighed and readjusted his suit jacket. “I doubt he knew what he was doing. It is far more likely that he was under some sort of duress and his magic responded poorly.”
Draco nodded, though he was concerned for the boy whom he hoped would be a friend. It wasn’t common for a witch or wizard to have accidental magic once they began to go to school unless they were under a lot of stress or were forbidden from using it for an extended period of time; longer than a summer’s holiday. Maybe the muggle was threatening him? Muggles did have a tendency to do that; over half of magical history was them threatening and murdering those who openly practiced magic.
“I do not foresee being gone for more than an hour,” Severus said, walking to the living room. “Please continue to prepare the ingredients for the first four potions on the list, but do not begin to prepare the bases for these until I am here. We will begin working on these tonight.”
Draco nodded and watched as Snape turned rapidly on his heel and with a loud pop, blinked out of existence. With a sigh, he returned to the basement and looked at the list of potions Snape had been told to make. Every week, it seemed the list would grow longer and more elaborate; it was no wonder the man had requested an assistant. And now with his son moving in, that list was bound to grow.
“Are you ready to leave?” Severus asked, picking up the boy’s backpack and the small sack of personal items he had had on him when he came into the hospital.
Harry nodded silently, pulling his cloak over his head and wiping the sleep out of his eyes. After the fight with Hermione, he was in no mood to do much of anything other than sleep. His leg and arm ached fiercely, making him wonder if something had happened when his magic threw her from the room. It was extremely strange; he hadn’t been overly angry at her, just frustrated that she wasn’t letting him finish a sentence or leave when he asked. Then all of a sudden it felt as though his power had been amped up and suddenly she was flying across the room, out into the hallway, and the door slammed shut behind her.
He had tried to stay up and wait for the ministry owl he was certain would be coming for him, but found he could barely keep his eyes open once he laid down. Even when he finally did wake up almost an hour later, he was surprised at how tired he was. He was happy there was no exceedingly angry owl waiting for him to open the window, but the idea of even getting up to double check was exhausting. Even sitting up in bed made his head swim slightly.
Hermione was no longer there, naturally, but he felt quite bad about what happened. He hadn’t meant to blast her across the room and wished to apologize. He had no doubt in his mind that she would be forgiving, but he didn’t know when he would be able to apologize now. Especially since he would not be attending classes with her or any of his other friends, a fact which he expressed to his father that he was not overtly happy about, but had been reassured that there was a possibility of his attending at least some of the classes to audit them.
He had asked the nurse where she went, but the nurse had been rather more tightlipped than usual when it came to giving out her location. Even after attempting to reassure them that he had no intentions to injure her, they refused to give her location to him. In all likelihood, she had returned home as she was only a volunteer and not permanent staff.
The question then became ‘where was Snape?’ He asked the nursing staff where the man was, but no one knew or was willing to volunteer the information. After the incident with Hermione, the nursing staff was more hesitant than usual to enter his room and even less willing to speak to him.
The longer he waited, the more anxious he became. No one had any information for him, Snape wasn’t here, and he was alone in his room. He tried to come out to the nurse’s station, but was greeted by a security guard who asked him rather nicely but forcefully to return to his room. It felt as though he were being imprisoned and abandoned. It wouldn’t be the first time he had been forgotten about, but this time was almost more painful than all of the times Vernon had left him at primary school and forced him to walk home or threw him in the cupboard and forgot to let him out for several days.
He had dreamed for so long that things would be perfect if he had a real family, that he wouldn’t be forgotten and left alone all the time. Now here he was, waiting with seemingly false hope that the man a letter from his mother (or someone who claimed to be her) sent years ago would show up and take him home. He had never felt quite as abandoned and forgotten as he did sitting in that hospital bed, not allowed to leave his room, waiting for someone to come get him.
He had finished packing his bags and was fully prepared to check himself out despite not knowing where to go when he finally heard the man’s unmistakable deep voice speaking in the hallway. He tried to listen in on the conversation, but they were too far down the hall for him to understand, even if standing in the doorway. A part of him hoped they were discussing his care going home, but another part of him felt Snape was trying to get out of taking him home. Why else would he have taken so long to get him?
When Snape finally entered the room, he entered with a rather large folder in one hand and was followed shortly by a nurse’s aid, who took out the IV in his arm quickly before turning and leaving the room.
“I apologize for my tardiness,” Severus said, double checking the book bag to make sure none of the magical books he had brought for the boy to begin studying would be left behind. “I got tied up in a … meeting, one which I was unable to leave from in a timely manner without arousing suspicion.”
Harry nodded, chewing on his lip. They had discussed his involvement in the war while they discussed the content of Harry’s letters, so he understood the importance of his father not missing a ‘meeting’ be it with Dumbledore or with Voldemort, whom Harry had been told he ought to refer to as ‘the Dark Lord’ to prevent arousing suspicions that he may not be on the side of the dark. This didn’t make the fear of abandonment go away, however.
Severus turned to look at his son, rather surprised at the lack of response from the boy. It was still hard to imagine the boy as such, but looking at him made it much easier to see the complete lack of resemblance to Potter and more of a resemblance to himself. A much more insecure, borderline fearful, yet independent version of himself.
How had he not seen the signs of neglect in him before? The desire for praise at the expense of one’s own personal safety, the very obvious signs of malnutrition, the continuous pushing of boundaries, even the lack of trust towards adult figures in his life all screamed something was amiss in his homelife. He vaguely remembered Minerva saying something about an issue with Potter’s Hogwarts letter, but he couldn’t recall exactly what she said. Now, however, without the effects of the potion changing his features, the full effects of his relatives' treatment was shockingly apparent.
“I have had the nurses procure us a taxi to take us ‘home,’” Severus said, checking through the small glass window on the door to see if aid was coming back with the wheelchair she had briefly mentioned she would be getting. “We will actually be dropped off a few miles from here and apparate from there to my house in Cokeworth.”
“C-cokeworth?” Harry said curiously as he fiddled with the fasteners on his cloak, noting the fingers on his left hand seemed to be more dexterous than those on his right. “I think-k I’ve b-b-been there b-before.”
“It’s quite likely you have, or your aunt at least mentioned it,” Severus said, stepping away from the door. “She, your mother, and I grew up there. I will warn you now, do not go wandering the neighborhood alone. It isn’t safe to do so.”
“B-b-because of the s-seizures?” Harry asked, face rather downtrodden at the idea of never being able to go on a walk alone.
Severus smirked a rather dangerous smile before answering. “No, my neighborhood is bloody awful. Seizures aside, I wouldn’t want you wandering Spinner’s End alone anyways. Even Mr. Malfoy hasn’t been allowed into the neighborhood alone, and he currently has an unregistered wand in his possession.”
Harry’s eyes widened and swallowed hard then coughed as his spit went down the wrong way slightly. It was no wonder the man had such a terrifying demeanor if those were the kinds of streets he grew up on. That was one thing he hoped he would inherit from his father, though now it seemed more of a ‘nurture’ rather than a ‘nature’ sort of occurrence. If he could channel even the slightest bit of that persona, it would help him hide even better that he was ever Harry Potter.
Severus frowned at the cough and mentally added another potion to the list that needed to be made. Nurse Chelsea had mentioned he was on a special diet due to swallowing difficulties, but for him to choke on his own saliva was yet another thing Severus would have to be concerned with for the upcoming year. It would be simple enough to correct as the mechanism for why he was having issues was easy enough to sort out as they all stemmed from the same problem, but it was the idea of it that was just another daunting problem they would have to deal with. A simple anti-reflux potion with an antispasmodic component ought to work well enough and was relatively simple to make with just a few ingredients.
“Alright, Mr. Snape,” the aid said, wheeling a wheelchair into the room, interrupting Severus’s thoughts of the potions he would need to make. “The taxi is on it’s way. Are you ready to go?”
Harry nodded as Severus grabbed the bags, resisting the urge to shrink them and put them into his pocket for ease of travel. Standing and quickly pivoting to the wheelchair, Harry was glad when his head didn’t immediately begin spinning upon standing up and his legs, particularly his left, didn’t immediately try to buckle under him.
Throwing a blanket over the boy and doing one final cursory glance around the room, the aid then wheeled Harry to the door and began heading down the hall towards the elevators. Harry and Severus couldn’t help but notice how a security guard was now following them, but they didn’t mind too much. A muggle security guard against a trained Death Eater was a laughable matchup should a fight occur.
“I was told his prescriptions would be ready for him at the chemist here in the hospital,” Severus said as they boarded the elevator and the security guard pressed the button to go to the ground floor.
The aid huffed slightly, clearly wanting to be away from them. Something about the two of them was extremely off-putting. The nurses had said it, but this had been her first time working with the Snape family and she had honestly thought the nurses were being dramatic. Even going into the boy’s room to deliver his meal tray had left her with the same feeling they described. It was almost as if Elias had an aura around him that she couldn’t shake. Something about being in his room just felt off, and then, despite struggling with even the most simple tasks, he manages to throw a volunteer out of his room. The entire situation felt strange, and she didn’t like it.
And if the younger Snape made you feel strange, the older Snape made your skin crawl.
Thankfully the chemist was on the ground floor and close to the exit. As stated, the pharmacist had the medications ready to be picked up before they even got there. A few brief instructions on how to take the medications and what side effects to look out for and they made their way to the exit where the taxi had just arrived.
“Take care!” the aid said in a chipper tone that was obviously forced, waiting rather impatiently for the teen to shakily transfer into the car before turning and nearly running back into the hospital followed by the security guard.
“Did you feel that?” she said to the guard once they re-entered the building.
“The feeling that something was off with them?” the guard said, his heart rate returning to normal now that they were back inside. “Or the feeling that we were being watched as soon as we stepped outside?”
The aid nodded and shuddered involuntarily. “Both. I don’t know what was going on with them, but I will say I am glad they are gone.”
The guard nodded in agreement before turning and walking back to the guard station by A&E nearly running into a rather short woman with shockingly pink hair and a oddly shaped, long red coat in his haste to get back. If they never saw either of the Snapes again, it would be too soon. He couldn’t shake the feeling that they had been watched while they were outside, the feeling of eyes burning into the back of his skull leaving him with goosebumps and a sinking feeling of fear aching in his gut for the remainder of the day. He hadn’t seen anyone suspicious, but the feeling remained. Someone was watching as the Snapes loaded themselves into the taxi.
‘Finally, a room where the family didn’t leave the entire place an absolute wreck!’ Carmen thought as she quickly stripped the bed and threw the linens into a bag before wiping down the bed with antiseptic.
In all of her years working as a housekeeper, there was one fact which remained true: everyone made a mess then expected housekeeping to deal with it. A little bit of effort on their part and she could get a room cleaned in much less time, but management didn’t want to hear that. They only wanted results. They wanted the rooms cleaned as fast as possible to reduce turnaround time and open beds for the next round of patients. It didn’t matter the nurses didn’t do their part and get the machinery she wasn’t allowed to touch out of the rooms. It didn’t matter the rooms were generally in a state when she got there, or that children were messy beasts. If a room wasn’t cleaned fast enough, it was her fault.
This room, however, was extremely well kept. There was very little garbage in the bin, the towels were even hung on the rack as opposed to being all over the floor. Even the bed had been made prior to whichever patient was in here’s leaving. Needless to say, it was a relief to know she would be finishing a room within her allotted time for once.
Wiping down the bed and turning her attention to the two chairs in the room, she absent mindedly began cleaning them off as well. Maybe today she would actually get a lunch on time? That would be a first!
Grabbing her mop, she quickly began mopping the floor, checking cabinets and drawers as she went around, making sure no personal belongings had gotten left behind. Nothing. It was almost as if the person who had been in here had had nothing and left with everything. Again, a first for her!
Pulling the chairs away from the wall, she gasped and stepped back. Where once was an electrical socket in the wall was now a smoldering hole in the wall. The plastic had melted into an unrecognizable mass of goo and the occasional wire could be seen running behind it. Thankfully there were no sparks coming from it, but this room would definitely need to be shut down until they could figure out what was wrong with it.
Quickly finishing cleaning the room and calling the ward matron and the maintenance department, she sighed. The wiring in the whole hospital had just been re-done, it shouldn’t have been having these kinds of major issues already. This was the third time this week that some sort of electrical issue had occurred! First all of the fuses randomly blew and the generators had to be emergently activated, then the lights in a bunch of random rooms in this area of the hospital went out momentarily, and now this!
Whoever did the electrical job would certainly be hearing from management! This was insanely dangerous to have such bad wiring in a hospital, a children’s hospital nonetheless!