His first night at Snape’s house had gone rather well, he thought. The food was good, the conversation was rather stilted (though he could blame much of that on his stutter), and he finally got to sleep in a bed he could claim as his own. He had even managed to make it up the stairs relatively unscathed, though he did have to go up them essentially on all fours for fear of pitching backwards down them. The only negative he had for the rest of the night was that he had had to ask for assistance in removing the boots, something Snape admitted he didn’t quite think through when he had purchased them and promised to find a spell to make them easier to get on and off.
Almost immediately upon laying down, he drifted off into dreamland, exhausted as he was from the long day of transitioning out of the hospital.
He had only been asleep for about two hours when the nightmares began. Cedric in the graveyard begging him to take his body back to his parents. Watching his blood trickle down from the gash Wormtail had gouged in his arm and hearing it splash into the cauldron below. Hearing Wormtail scream as he sliced off his own hand to place it in the cauldron as well. The sheer helplessness of watching the rebirth of the man who murdered his parents and knowing he would be next.
The dreams then shifted to a large, well decorated hall in what appeared to be a manor of some kind. On one side of the room, Voldemort sat in a high back throne of sorts and gestured wildly at those surrounding him. His face was just as gaunt as ever, though the fury radiating from his person made him seem even more skeletal as his face became more pinched.
“We haven’t found Potter, my Lord,” the Death Eater kneeling in front of him said, voice quivering slightly from fear.
“How?! HOW?! HE IS FIFTEEN! He is barely trained! How have you IMBECILES managed to let him evade your detection!” Voldemort screamed, standing from his throne and stalking forward. “Crucio.”
Immediately, Elias felt his own body begin to scream in pain. His nerves felt as though millions of individual hot pokers had been slammed into them, scorching them and causing his muscles to involuntarily contract. He couldn’t pull his eyes from the man twitching and screaming in front of him much like he was doing.
Finally, Voldemort released him from the grips of the spell and kicked him violently in the stomach out of fury. He then turned to his followers and motioned for one to step forward. Standing behind the man was a slightly smaller figure who, despite not wearing a mask, was still well covered as he had his hood up, covering the majority of his face. A face that had a mildly green tinge to it’s pale skin as it looked in the direction of the tortured man.
“Sssseverussss,” Voldemort said as the man kneeled before him. “What news do you have from the Headmaster.”
“The Headmaster is unaware of where the boy could be,” Severus’s voice said from beneath the mask. “He has had his people out searching for the boy, even venturing as far away as Ireland and France. He is currently trying to keep the boy’s disappearance away from the media in an effort to prevent panic.”
Voldemort’s fury only increased at this statement. “Are you certain he is not hiding in the castle?”
“No, my lord,” Severus said flatly, bracing himself. “I have not been able to search the castle myself as of yet.”
“DO NOT LIE TO ME YOU FILTHY HALFBLOOD!” Voldemort roared. “WHERE IS POTTER?!”
“I do not know, my lord,” Severus said softly, before his body went rigid as the cruciatus ripped through him. He did not scream, however he did let out a small whimper before the curse was lifted.
Elias felt his own nerves begin to scream as the curse hit his father, his muscles once again spasming violently and a cry of pain leaving his mouth. He hurt so badly. Why wasn’t it stopping?
“FIND HIM!” Voldemort screeched. “FIND HIM AND BRING HIM TO ME!”
Elias woke with a start, head feeling muddled and every ounce of muscle he had quivering violently. He felt as though he was going to be sick and was fairly certain he had soiled himself during his nightmare. Was that even a nightmare? He had had one similar before, but Voldemort had been in a remarkably better mood at the time.
Where was he? The room he was in seemed familiar but not. It wasn’t his room on Privat Drive was it? He couldn’t remember if his dad had made him paint it or not, that was the only way to describe why the walls were now a comfortable light green. But ….
Where was he? This wasn’t his bed. His bed had a spring which stabbed him right in the most tender part of his lower back, making it so hard to get comfortable and fall asleep. His dad had talked about him having a new mattress though. And …
Where was he? The light outside of his room wasn’t in the right spot. Had he moved house? There was no way the town council would have moved the light polls over night. Had his dad moved them so they wouldn’t shine directly in his window?
Or had it snowed? He felt extremely cold and hot at the same time, like his body couldn’t make up its mind on what temperature it wanted to be. He was shaking terribly as though he had been stuck outside in the winter rains yet again but was sweating as though it were a hot summer's day.
Was it day or was it night? He looked at the window and couldn’t decide. There was light out there but was that a window or was that the door? Which one was it?
Where was he?!
He needed to go. If he didn’t start cooking breakfast, Aunt Petunia would have his head on a platter and he wasn’t sure if he could cook head very well. He’d never tried to after all. Swinging his feet over the side of the bed, he was surprised when he immediately overbalanced and fell sideways, nearly falling off the bed and onto the floor.
“Elias?” A voice said from the window. Or was it the door. “Elias, where are you going?”
“N-n-n-no!” He yelled, continuing to try to stand. He didn’t need help! He didn’t want help! He just wanted to … to get ready for class? This wasn’t his dorm though. How would he ever find his way to class?! Had he been transferred to Durmstrang? He really hoped not; he hadn’t studied any Romanian.
“Professor?” The person in the door called as he slowly approached. “Professor, I think something is wrong with Elias!”
He heard some shuffling outside of the door and looked over to see a man in all black standing there like it was a dream. He couldn’t be here, could he? His father had died years ago, how was he here now? Had he died too? Was that why he hurt so bad? This couldn’t be real!
“Draco, grab a Cruciatus reliever from the potions cupboard in the kitchen,” his father said in a low voice, striding over to his bed. “Quickly!”
The blonde boy…. Malfoy!..... disappeared in a flurry of rapid steps down the stairs as his father levitated his twitching form back up in bed and spelled him clean. His father then spelled his bed so he wasn’t lying flat anymore and quickly sat by him, spelled the lights on, and began waving his wand over him. Bright lights shone in his eyes momentarily, leaving him seeing spots and, for some reason, sneezing uncontrollably.
“Here,” Draco said, seemingly appearing from nowhere and thrusting a potion into his father’s hand. “What’s wrong with him?”
Elias looked at his father in terror as the man uncorked the vial Draco had brought for him. It was poison, surely. Why else would Draco want to give it to him? Draco had hated him ever since the train. Had he been hit by the train? Was Voldemort the train conductor? Where was he now?!
His stomach was suddenly filled with a cool substance and slowly, very slowly, the twitching began to subside slightly. It was easier to breathe. It was easier to move. His head was still filled with fluff, but it wasn’t whirling quite as bad as before. Everything seemed much ...slower… now. More calm. It made more sense.
“D-d-d-da?” he whimpered, wincing when a particularly bad spasm raced down his back. “Wh-wh-wher-r-r-e?”
“You’re at my house in Cokeworth,” Severus said, summoning a wet flannel and dabbing his forehead while frowning. The flannel came away stained in blood; when had his head started bleeding again? Hadn’t the sutures held? “Do you know what happened?”
“N-n-n-n-night-t-t-m-m-mar-r-e,” Elias stuttered out, attempting to wipe his eyes but smacking himself in the chin instead. “Ooowwwww!”
“A nightmare did this?” Draco said in shock.
“Go to bed Draco,” Severus said, a dangerous tone to his voice.
“Now! I’ll take care of him,” Severus said, continuing to hold pressure on the bleeding wound on his son’s head.
Draco sullenly turned and went to his room, resisting the urge to slam the door in frustration. They had just returned from the Dark Lord’s latest summons, an event Draco was learning to despise more and more, with Severus having to lean quite heavily on him for fear of falling over. He had gotten his mentor one of the many Cruciatus relief potions they had in stock and was heading to bed when he heard what sounded like someone crying. It took him a minute to figure out where the sound was coming from, only to realize it was coming from Elias’s room.
What kind of nightmare would do that?! The boy looked worse off than Professor Snape and he had been tortured for several minutes! Was this a regular occurrence? Would Elias be ok?
Kicking off his shoes and throwing his robes over his desk chair, he flopped into bed and listened to see if he could hear anything coming from Elias’s room. He hoped the other boy would be ok, but something in the back of his mind kept whispering to expect the worst. How could the muggles have discharged him from their hospital if he was this bad off? Did they tell Professor Snape something that he didn’t want to pass on?
Mind racing, he listened to the muffled murmurs from the other room, trying to make out what was being said. He even debated trying to use an amplification spell to see if that would help, but wisely decided against it. Sneaking around would only land him in trouble as it had his first year with that blasted dragon. If it was really important for him to know, Professor Snape would tell him.
Severus sighed as he heard Draco’s door shut. He had hoped to return from the summons, take the Cruciatus reliever, maybe have a small glass of whiskey, and go to bed. A nice, relaxing end to a stressful day. Instead, he now had one moody teenager on his hands and another who seemed to have been cursed by an unknown assailant.
So much for being caught up.
When the Dark Lord hadn’t given them a list of potions to be completed by week’s end, he had been rather shocked but didn’t mention to the man the lack of work. No extra brewing for the Dark Lord meant he could finish the required potions for the school for the start of the year. There would still be potions which would need to be brewed throughout the year, of course, but having a stock of the more basic potions was always a good way to start. A well stocked potions cabinet in a castle filled with accident prone pre-teens and teens was a god-send for the matron of the Hospital Wing.
Now, however, it looked like he would have to set Draco to brewing those more basic potions while he himself brewed a variety of other potions for his son.
The confusion, spasms, and overall lack of coordination he saw in Elias was distressing. As a Death Eater, he had seen those symptoms before in a few of his compatriots as well as in their victims. Few of Bellatrix’s ‘playthings’ had escaped without those exact symptoms; the most well known of which being Alice and Frank Longbottom. Thankfully, Elias had snapped out of it somewhat when given the Cruciatus reliever, but what could have exacerbated his symptoms so much?
Or rather, who?
The wards to Spinner’s End hadn’t been breached. The observation spells he had placed on Elias’s bed hadn’t detected any seizure-like activity. So what had happened? There was no logical reason for him to suddenly get so much worse so quickly. And to add to the mystery, the remains of his ‘Harry Potter’ scar was bleeding.
“Elias, do you remember what happened?” Severus said, voice quiet yet taut. “Do you remember anything?”
Elias stared off towards the door in thought. What had happened? Everything seemed rather hazy. He had come home and gotten sick… No wait, that wasn’t right. He had gotten sick outside then come inside and slept and Aunt Petunia… no, she wasn’t here… Draco? Draco had ordered food and then he had gone to bed but Dudley had wanted to watch a new TV show and… No, Dudley wasn’t here, was he? Dudley liked Chinese food, had he been the one to order the food?
“D-d-d-dud-dley?” Elias asked quietly, looking blearily towards the door.
Severus shook his head and resisted the urge to legilimens the boy to find the information he needed. “Your cousin isn’t here, he is still in Surrey.”
“Oh,” Elias said quietly, then frowned. “Wh-wh-where are w-w-we?”
“Cokeworth,” Severus said with a slight sigh. He had a feeling that would be a common question for a while. “What was your nightmare about?”
“H-h-him! W-w-was-s-s m-m-m-mad! S-s-s-s-so m-m-mad!” Elias hugged his arms to his chest and pulled his knees up, not caring how badly the motion made his feet cramp. “C-c-can’t-t find-d-d m-m-m-me!”
Severus briefly felt a shiver go down his spine, but ignored it. Surely he was talking about his cousin and not the Dark Lord. There was no feasible way that he could have heard anything that was happening in that meeting, no way he could have known the lengths to which the Dark Lord was searching. The lengths that everyone was going to to find him or at least find out what had happened to him. Had it not been for the boy’s request to not be under the thumb of the Headmaster any longer, Severus would have likely turned him over for the simple fact that he would have access to more adept medical care than a potions master with minor training in emergency healing.
“Did you want him to find you?” Severus asked, summoning a muscle relaxing cream as well as a mild pain reliever.
Elias shook his head vehemently, shifting uncomfortably in the bed with a groan as his nightclothes suddenly disappeared and a drying and cleansing charm applied to the bed under him. The strange sensations sent off a volley of spasms throughout his torso and lower back which left him gasping for breath. The murmured apologies from his father did little to quell the pain, though the cream which was gingerly being rubbed into his neck was heavenly and certainly was helpful.
Severus watched in relief as Elias’s eyes fluttered closed as the pain reliever finally set in and the muscle relaxer worked its magic. If it weren't for the side effects, Severus would have happily given the boy the entire tin to use every day as needed. The ripples the spasms were causing in his muscles were clearly visible even under his night clothes leading him to believe the boy was much more sore than he was letting on. Afterall, he had been constantly moving for at least a month, although it seemed to have been getting progressively worse as the potion continued to fail.
The urge to spell Dreamless Sleep into his son to prevent him from having another episode such as this was high, but the addictive quality of the potion made him think again. He couldn’t in good conscience drug his son continuously; anyone with children or an interest in potions would understand that ethical dilemma.
Standing and straightening his robes, he gently pulled the blanket back over Elias’s much more relaxed form. Hopefully he would sleep through the rest of the night with no more problems. Hopefully he would be more alert when he next woke up. Hopefully his tremors would die down.