Potions and Snitches
Snape and Harry Gen Fanfiction Archive

Chapter 2

“You need to tell someone.” Hermione said for the thousandth time as Harry walked in from detention to the nearly empty common room cradling his hand carefully to protect it from further damage, “She needs to be stopped.”


“She can’t be stopped.” Harry snapped irritably, though his anger deflated rapidly once he noticed Hermione’s hurt expression. He sighed, offering his friend a small smile, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to be a jerk about it - I just know it won’t make a difference. McGonagall just tells me to keep my head down and not provoke her, but just existing provokes her.”


“She only told you to keep your head down because she thinks these are regular detentions. If she knew what that cow was doing to you--”


“It still wouldn’t matter.” Ron piped up from the other side of Harry, “He’s right, she can’t be stopped. If it were possible, someone would have stopped it by now. Harry may not be telling anyone about the quill and those awful detentions, but he’s not the only one who’s had detention with her. I’d expect someone has told someone - a teacher, a parent, anyone - something about what’s happened and nothing has changed. She can’t be stopped.”


“But--”


“Please, Hermione.” Harry interrupted, his voice thick with the exhaustion he felt, “It’s been an awful day and I can’t have this conversation right now.” 


Hermione looked like she wanted to argue, but didn’t try to continue that particular line of conversation. Instead, she asked, “So how did it go when you went to see Professor Snape earlier? Ron and I looked for you, but couldn’t find you anywhere.”


Harry leaned his head back against the cozy sofa, closing his eyes as he tried to ignore the throbbing of his hand - even the murtlap wasn’t making much of a difference anymore, “It went alright.”


“It did?” Hermione asked, “Was he angry about what had happened?”


“Of course he was.” Ron answered before Harry could even think of how to respond to her inquiry, “It’s a good thing Harry’s his kid now or Harry’d be cut up into little jars in the potions cupboard.” 


“He would never--”


“He would!” Ron insisted, “Can you imagine if this accident had happened last year, before the adoption? Snape would have murdered him for sure.”


“Actually, he was pretty upset. I’m still alive, obviously.” 


Apparently Harry’s voice betrayed some of the emotion he’d been struggling to bury since his outburst on the grounds earlier that day, because Hermione descended on him like a vulture to their prey, “What did he do to you?”


“Nothing, he’s confined to a bed in the hospital wing.” Harry replied, refusing to meet Hermione’s gaze. 


“That doesn’t mean he didn’t do anything.” Hermione countered, “You’re upset.”


“No, I’m not.” 


“Yeah, you are, mate.” Ron countered, eyes narrowing as he studied his best friend, “You’re hiding it pretty well, I guess, but you’re definitely upset.”

“It was nothing.” Harry insisted, placing the bowl of murtlap on the table and attempting to rise. 


Both friends pulled him back down to his seat, and Hermione asked worriedly, “No, don’t do this. Don’t walk away from us. We’re your friends, you can talk to us.”


“There’s nothing to talk about!” Harry snapped, though his voice didn’t quite carry the anger he was hoping for. Even to his own ears he sounded like a kid who had gotten their feelings hurt and was trying to pretend it never happened. 


Ron patted Harry on the leg in a friendly-yet-awkward way, “If there was nothing to talk about, you wouldn’t be shouting at us. What did the git do?”


“Nothing, he’s just mad that I hurt him.” Harry replied tiredly, “I can’t say I blame him - it was my fault after all - but I was hoping he wouldn’t be too cheesed off.” 


“Did he tell you off?” Ron asked, glancing towards Hermione with an expression that clearly stated there was more to the story. Her eyes held an equal amount of concern as she put her hand on Harry’s shoulder in a sympathetic gesture. 


Harry shook his head, squeezing his eyes together tightly as his chest started to feel tight again. He knew he needed to calm down, but just the memory of that conversation with his dad was enough to send him into a panic. He couldn’t go back to the Dursleys, not after he’d learned what a real family felt like.


Just the idea of going back to the Dursleys sent his brain into a tailspin again, chest aching as he struggled to properly inhale, his breath coming in loud, wheezing gaps and his tie feeling like it was tightening on its own, threatening to choke the life out of him like a polyester blend version of his beefy uncle.


He couldn’t fall apart like this, not right now, not in front of his friends who didn’t know his secret and how his adoptive dad wanted to get rid of him. He tried to force himself to breathe normally, but the harder he fought to calm down, the harder it became to focus on doing just that.   


The room spun around him sickeningly and for a moment Harry wasn’t sure where he was or what was happening. Slowly sounds began to filter in through the sound of his heart beating wildly in his ears and the world stopped feeling like it was closing in on him. He could hear Hermione talking, but it took a few moments to work out what she was saying. 


“Breathe, Harry.”  


“Should I go get someone? What’s happening?”


That was the last thing Harry wanted, and he reached out to grab Ron’s shirt so he couldn’t make good on that idea. Listening to Hermione’s quiet commands to breathe, Harry became more aware of his surroundings and shame and embarrassment flooded through him.


“Don’t get anyone.”


Harry’s voice sounded scratchy and his throat was sore. Why? He didn’t remember screaming or anything, and wondered if he was coming down with something or if Umbridge had done something to him.


He finally opened his eyes and was surprised to see that both of his friends looked nearly as anxious and panicked as he currently felt. Maybe it was contagious, that panicky feeling that seemed to take over sometimes.


“Mate…” Ron began, but then seemed to lose track of what he was going to say. They sat in silence for a few moments, then the ginger boy tried once more, “What was that? You….it was scary.”


“I’m going to bed.” Harry stated, not wanting to have this particular conversation with anyone, especially his friends and especially not at this very moment. He went to stand, but the moment he was vertical the room spun around him and he sank back into his seat, feeling the concerned looks his friends were giving him even without looking in their direction. 


“Are you sure you don’t want me to get someone? You don’t look very well.” Ron commented as Hermione disappeared to get their friend a glass of water, “You don’t have to hide things from us, Harry.” 


“There’s nothing to say.” Harry replied back, his voice flat and sounding unnatural to his own ears, “I made a mistake and now I’m paying the price for it. I should have known it was too good to last.”


“That what was too good to last?” Hermione asked gently, having rejoined the boys with a glass of water, “What exactly happened?”


He’d said too much, there would be no convincing them now that it was no big deal. Harry rubbed his face tiredly, his eyes burning with unshed emotion and his entire body feeling like it were made of lead and too heavy to support any longer. He wanted to go to bed...to go to bed in his bed in his dad’s quarters and wake up a few weeks ago, before the accident, back when everything was still okay. Conversely, he’d also be happy with going to bed and never waking up again if it meant he wasn’t going to get shipped back to his aunt and uncle just after learning what it was like to be part of a real family. 


“Mate?” Ron asked hesitantly, waving his hand in front of Harry’s glazed over eyes, “You’re starting to scare us.”


Harry sighed heavily, “He blames me for the whole accident, naturally, and told me he never wants to see me again. He wanted to have me expelled.”


“I’ll kill him.” Ron declared, moving to stand only to be pulled back into his seat by Hermione. 


“Sit down, Ronald.” Hermione snapped, “You aren’t going to kill anyone.” she turned to Harry, brow furled in confusion, “Are you sure he said that? Was he, you know, coherent and aware of what was going on?”


“Yes I’m sure.” Harry snapped, his anxiety and fear morphing rapidly into anger - which he welcomed, as it was a much easier emotion to be subjected to, “I’m not completely daft, Hermione. I can hear perfectly well.” Harry lowered his voice to impersonate his adoptive father, then recited, “Yes, well, for someone who doesn’t mean to get himself into trouble, you sure do leave a path of destruction in your wake. Leave. I don’t want to see you again.” 


Both of his friends were silent for a moment before Ron jumped to his feet, “Yeah, I’m still gonna kill him.”


He disappeared through the portrait hole before his words had a chance to register with his friends. Harry’s anger deflated at the memory of those terrible words being flung in his direction, the gaping hole of sorrow he’d initially felt rapidly replacing his flare of temper.


“I’m sorry, Harry.” Hermione whispered, putting her hand on his leg hesitantly, “That must have been awful.”


A sob caught in Harry’s throat - funny, as he hadn’t even realized he had started crying, and within moments Hermione had wrapped her arms around him, pulling him close for a tight hug, “It’s going to be okay, Harry. I’m sure he didn’t really mean it.”


“He was so angry. He’s going to give me back.” Harry confessed brokenly to his best friend, “I can’t go back there, Hermione.”


“You won’t.” Hermione replied firmly, “Harry, you won’t. He’s going to come around, he loves you. He wanted you - he promised nothing would ever change that. He’s probably just confused and hurting. He probably regretted it as soon as he said it.”


“What’s wrong with me?” Harry asked quietly, his face buried in her bushy brown hair, “Why does everyone end up hating me? Why can’t I just have this one thing?”


“You have Ron and I. We won’t hate you, we won’t leave you. We’ll be your family - you don’t need anyone else, you have us.”


They sat together on the sofa for several minutes while Harry regained his composure, then he pulled away, embarrassment tinting his cheeks pink, “I’m sorry.”


“You’ve nothing to be sorry for.” Hermione responded kindly, “That’s what I’m here for. I want to know when you’re upset, when you’re hurting. Burying it never solves anything...you know that, Harry.”


He wasn’t going to admit she was right, not now, not after his pride and self-esteem had already been hurt enough. Instead, he sighed heavily and rose to his feet. His body felt heavy and sluggish, as if he’d spent the day facing actual demons and not just the ones in his head, and he told his friend tiredly, “Thanks for...well, everything. I’m beat, I just want to go to sleep and forget about this whole day.”


“Don’t forget to try and clear your mind first, Harry.” Hermione reminded utterly unhelpfully - it was common knowledge between the three friends that he was rubbish at clearing his mind from anything.


He nodded, waving her off as he trudged up the stairwell. Panic attacks, at least that’s what he thought they were called when his brain moved too fast and it felt impossible to breathe - he’d never sought out an official diagnosis from anyone because he hadn’t wanted to admit to anyone that he was feeling this way - always left him feeling weak and exhausted, as if just the act of existing would be too much to possibly be expected to do. Arms and legs feeling like lead, Harry dropped his school robes at the foot of his bed and kicked his shoes off, not even bothering to change into pyjamas or situate himself under his blanket before succumbing to the pull of sleep. 



~*~


“I won’t change my mind.”


“Yes, you will.” 


Between his talent for brewing effective sleeping potions and his natural talent in occlumency, Severus Snape rarely experienced actual dreams. These skills also left him aware of what happened in his subconscious mind, although he didn’t always have the ability to manipulate or control what was occurring. 


When he slowly returned to consciousness, those two sentences on his mind, Severus Snape was acutely aware that it was a memory and the general haziness of the words indicated that it was a memory from the time he had lost long before he had verified it by trying to recall when those words had been spoken, and to whom he had been conversing with. 


The memory itself was foreign and odd - it contained emotion that he wasn’t sure he even still possessed and that he certainly hadn’t shared with another person in many years. In the short exchange he could feel the protectiveness, the loyalty, the compassion and understanding...dare he say it, even love in his declaration that his mind would not be changed. Yet the person he had been speaking to didn’t believe it...how could they not, when he had felt such conviction in the utterance? 


There was, of course, also the issue of the recipient of those words being hidden in his mind. Who could he have been speaking to? Certainly not a lover or a partner of any sort - if so, that person would have been by his side…of course, there had been no romantic partnerships in many years, not since the day Lily Evans took his heart and then departed this world still unknowingly holding on to it. But then who could he have been speaking to? He had no family, no close relationships that would summon up those protective and, dare he say - paternal! - feelings. Surely if something monumental had taken place over the year, someone would have brought him up to speed on the issue. And just as a partner would have been by his side, so would a distraught piece of his family, even if they were not family in the traditional sense. 


He needed to make sense of this memory, but he couldn’t hold onto it long enough to make sense of it.The voice was garbled and muffled, he knew he recognized the voice but he couldn’t place a name or a face to it. 


“I won’t change my mind.” 


“Yes, you will.”


“Yes, you will.”


“Yes, you will.”


He could not place the voice despite his attempt to visualize its owner in his mind. When he really focused on that fleeting piece of memory, all he could recall was a parchment, a quill, and a pair of new black trainers squeaking against the floor as the other person shifted their weight, clearly antsy. 


“Yes, you will.”


The voice was familiar. It was on the tip of his tongue, a memory nearly ready to be accessed but just slightly out of reach. A boy. A boy with squeaky new black trainers and the weight of the world on his shoulders. 


What in Merlin’s name had gone on this year?


~*~


“Go away.” Harry mumbled tiredly, barely lifting his head up off of the mattress to look at his best friend, “Not hungry.”


“Come on, Harry, you’ve got to eat. We have a busy day today - you’ll be starved by lunch. Besides, you know Hermione’s going to wait to lay eyes on you to make sure you’re alright.”


“Go away.” Harry insisted, ignoring his best friend’s attempt at coercion, “I’m tired.”


“Some pumpkin juice and some warm breakfast will wake you right up.”


“I’ll curse your lips shut if you don’t let me go back to sleep.” Harry mumbled, reaching for his pillow to pull it over his head. He wasn’t typically this moody right off in the mornings, but today he felt exhausted, as if he hadn’t slept at all despite the fact that he knew he’d slept deeply.


He waited, but did not hear retreating footsteps. A few moments passed, then the pillow was being pulled from his head. 


“Seriously, Ron?” Harry snapped, grabbing at the fluffy pillow in an attempt to return to unconsciousness. It wasn’t fair - he was tired, he was irate, and all he wanted to do was to get some more sleep before he said or did something to his friends that he’d later have to apologize for. Why wouldn’t his mate just leave him alone?


Ron, whose expression clearly showed he felt awkward and out of his element, stood his ground and refused to back down, holding the pillow out of Harry’s reach (which was easy, as Harry had neglected to even sit up yet - though it would have been just as easy if they were both standing, as Ron had several inches of height to his advantage). “You can threaten me all you want, but you don’t want Hermione to come up here and start mothering you, do you?”


“Honestly, Ron, I just want to sleep.” Harry replied defeatedly, throwing his arm over his face in an attempt to block out not only the sun, but the conversation as well, now that his feathery barrier had been stolen. 


“We have classes.” Ron pointed out, “I don’t think Flitwick will care that you’re tired. Then he’ll talk to McGonagall and she’ll come up here and she’ll see the state our dorm is in and we’ll have to spend our free time cleaning and then Dean and Seamus will be mad at you...is that really what you want?”


Harry groaned in response, feeling like everything his friend said was hyperbole, though he did sit up, head in his hands as the room faded out slightly when he became vertical. 


“You good, mate?”


Harry nodded, his head feeling like it was filled with cotton swabs and his body feeling oddly detached. He supposed this was a byproduct of crying the previous night although a voice that sounded remarkably like Pomfrey echoed in his head, reminding him that he needed to eat. He’d spent the larger part of time since the accident with no appetite, and this morning was no different.


“Go on without me, I’ll be down in a few minutes.” Harry told his best mate, rising to his feet as a show of good faith. 


Ron studied his pale, tired friend for a brief moment, then countered, “Hermione and I will wait in the common room. Don’t be too long.” 


Harry sighed, but waved Ron off anyway in silent agreement. They knew him too well - if they went down to the Great Hall, Harry would inevitably wait a few minutes and then return to his soft, cozy bed - or worse, he’d get dressed and head down to the hospital wing to see Snape and torture himself a little more. If they waited in the common room, they’d be able to prevent both of those scenarios. 


They were good friends. Meddlesome, but good. Harry didn’t feel like he deserved them. 


~*~


“I just don’t think it’s a good idea, Severus.” Poppy explained, arms crossed and a stern expression on her face. 


Snape buttoned the top button of his shirt, then reached down for his shoes, “You said it yourself that I’m fully healed. What’s the point of keeping me here if I’m fully healed?”


“You still don’t have your memories.” Poppy started, “A few days of resting is not out of order after such an ordeal! And then there’s --”


“Nonsense. I don’t need memories from this year to teach potions. I follow the same curriculum year after year; I could brew these in my sleep.”


“But Severus--”


“I’m not going to lounge in bed when there’s work to be done. It’s nearly the end of term, 5th and 7th years have their OWLs and NEWTs coming up, they need as much instruction as they can get.” Snape replied dismissively. His mind was already made up and the matron of the hospital wing could not possibly say anything that would change it.


He carefully stood, wanting to make sure that being upright agreed with him despite all reassurances that he was fully healed. As expected, all parts were in working order and walked to the foot of the bed, conceding to the clearly upset mediwitch, “I will take it easy, of course, as I don’t want to wind up being your patient once more.”


“There’s just so much you don’t remember…”


“It will return to me. I’ve already seen snippets of memories in my dreams, I have no doubt the rest will force their way to the surface.”


Their quasi-argument was halted by a quiet buzz that indicated someone had opened the door to the hospital wing. Both looked towards the entrance and Snape felt his certainty about his decision to return to his post deflate slightly as the Headmaster walked in. If anyone could override his escape, it would be their boss and leader. 


“Ah, Severus! It’s wonderful to see you on your feet again!” 


Maybe the Headmaster’s arrival wouldn’t impede his exit after all. 


“Poppy has determined I am fully healed.” Snape replied graciously, “I was just on my way to the Great Hall for breakfast.”


“You could have breakfast here--” the mediwitch began, though she didn’t bother to finish her thought at the scathing look Snape sent her way. “You can be stubborn all you want, but don’t you look at me like that. I’m not one of your students, you don’t intimidate me.”


Albus held up a hand, “I see that tensions are running high this morning. Perhaps some fresh air and a change of scenery would be beneficial, Severus.”


“Are you sure it’s wise for him to mingle with the rest of the school’s population with zero memories from this year?” Poppy asked the headmaster pointedly. 


Dumbledore gave a slight shrug of his shoulders, “It is what it is, Poppy. We can’t keep him sequestered until those memories return.” 


With a triumphant smirk, Snape tilted his head slightly towards both Poppy and Albus, “I couldn’t agree with you more. If that is all, I will take my leave.”


As soon as the door closed behind the sour potions master, Poppy turned to Albus with a deep frown, “I can’t believe you encouraged him to leave!”


“If he’s healed, there’s no good reason to keep him here.”


“I can think of one fifteen year old boy who may disagree.” she said, exasperation heavy in her voice, “Severus has no recollection of the relationship between himself and Harry, and Harry doesn’t know about Severus’s memory loss. That boy is going to get hurt when they cross paths.”


“I’ll invite Harry to my office to discuss the situation with him at lunch. I doubt the two will cross paths before then.” Dumbledore placated, “Even so, Harry is a resilient and understanding boy - even if they do cross paths, Harry knows how sharp-tongued Severus can be and will forgive him.”


“I don’t care how resilient you think the boy is - the child is already suffering and putting him in a position where he might suffer even more is inhumane.” Poppy said firmly, “You need to talk to him sooner rather than later, before more damage is done.” 


“If you feel that strongly about it, I will ask Filius to send Harry to me as soon as he is through with his lesson this morning. I would hate for young Harry to miss valuable instructional time with OWLs rapidly approaching.”


“Thank you. We should have spoken with him sooner... “ she sighed, shaking her head sadly, “I just hoped the memories would return quickly and we could avoid it.” 


“Have faith, Poppy. His memories will return and both of them will be fine. They’re both strong and resilient. Things will be back to normal in no time.” 


~*~


Snape entered the Great Hall, robes billowing behind him. Ever observant, he noticed the moment each group of students spotted his return. His Slytherins looked relieved - had they been worried or had the headmaster temporarily replaced him with someone atrocious? The Ravenclaws also looked relieved - probably because it meant a return to normal classes with exams approaching. The Hufflepuffs were involved in a table-wide animated discussion and his entrance was barely noted. He’d expected nothing less - they were inclined to ignore him as much as he was inclined to ignore them unless forced to interact in a classroom setting. And the Gryffindors - dread and misery all around. They’d probably hoped he was dead or permanently incapacited. Even the insufferable Granger was glaring at him, which he found odd since he’d thought she’d have taken the Ravenclaw approach to his return knowing how soon she’d have to prove herself to the examination board. 


Potter, that insufferable brat who had caused this whole fiasco, was refusing to even look in his direction. Snape could only wish that it was because the boy was contrite and ashamed of his atrocious behavior and recklessness, though his gut instinct told him the boy was pouting and looking for sympathy from his housemates against the evil bat of the dungeons. 


With a sneer, he strode towards the Gryffindor table, stopping behind the boy and clearing his throat, “Detention tonight at 7pm. Wear something you don’t mind getting dirty or possibly ruining.” 


He was disappointed not to get a rise from the boy; he was in the mood for a good argument and loss of points. Just when he’d written off riling up the young lion as a lost cause, Potter spoke up quietly, “I already have detention at 7 with Professor Umbridge, sir.” 


“It seems as if she will have to wait her turn. Whatever you’ve done to earn disciplinary action with her cannot possibly be as serious as assaulting me in the corridor and causing internal damage.” 


“It wasn’t like that!” Potter exclaimed, whipping around to face Severus with an alarmed expression. “It was an accident!”


“It was an attempted murder. You’re lucky you’re not in Azkaban.” Severus spat out, disappointed that he didn’t feel the same rush of energy he usually did when verbally sparring with his enemy’s son, “Not to say that you won’t wind up there anyway, once the investigation is done.” 


This was, of course, a lie. There was no investigation and not even a hint that the accident had been malicious in nature. From all accounts that had been relayed to him, it had been an unfortunate accident and Potter was horrified about what had happened. The stack of ‘get well’ cards and treats the boy had left by his bedside were a testament to that, if nothing else. He’d barely spared the items a second glance after recognizing the messy scrawl of his least tolerated student. 


He watched as Potter’s face paled to resemble the color of the porridge being served for breakfast and tried to feel satisfied for getting under the brat’s skin, though it still didn’t feel quite right. Maybe Poppy had been right, maybe it was too soon for him to be released back to his post. 


Severus was disappointed as the boy did not verbally respond to him - though he hated the boy’s quick wit and disrespect, he had grown accustomed to being on the receiving end of it during moments like this. Instead, the boy silently rose and bolted from the Great Hall, the Weasley boy following quickly after him and Granger looking furious, clearly wanting to say something but holding back.


Ignoring the particularly loquacious girl, he turned and stalked to the head of the room, taking a seat beside the deputy headmistress. 


“Good morning, Severus.” Minerva greeted, “I didn’t expect to see you back so soon.”


“Aside from a few gaps in my memory, I’m in perfect health. Sitting around and wasting time has never been my strong suit.” 


“No, your time is better spent dripping venom over my lions, is it not?” Minerva questioned pointedly, glancing back towards the Gryffindor table, where Hermione Granger had just shoved a few pieces of fruit into her robes and had taken off after her friends. 


Severus’s expression hardened and he retorted in an equally irate tone, “Your golden child nearly killed me, Minerva. I think assigning him to detention is the very least that should be done.”

“Potter meant no harm, and you know it.” Minerva reprimanded, “I know you’re having difficulty remembering what happened, but once your memories return, you’ll see that you are being unnecessarily harsh on someone who had zero ill will towards you.” 


Severus ignored her and turned to his breakfast, cutting a piece of sausage as her words reverberated in his skull. Deep down, he knew she was right. He wasn’t sure why - the memories that typically guide his reactions were missing - but somehow he knew he was being unreasonable and felt a twinge of guilt over it.


As he slowly worked his way through the items on his plate, he thought back to the conversation he’d just had with Potter. The boy had not reacted the way he should have. The boy had seemed genuinely distraught by the harsh words - distraught in a way he’d never seen the boy behave during previous large-scale offenses where he’d thrown around the most dramatic and harshest punishments as an option. There had been no defiance, no spark of anger. There had just been resignation and sadness, though Severus thought he must have read the boy wrong as those emotions didn’t make sense. 


He was pulled from his thoughts as Minerva changed the topic and began to speak once more, “While you were unavailable, I filled in as your head of house. Things were pretty uneventful, but it’s worth noting that Mr. Goyle was found with banned contraband. I spoke with his mother and disposed of it, as well as assigned detention for him. Miss Perkins has been removed temporarily by her parents due to a family emergency; we are expecting her back next week. Mr. Malfoy, Miss Parkinson, and Mr. Nott have joined Delores’s inquisitorial squad and have extended curfew privileges as a reward for volunteering their…service.”


It took a few moments for Severus to place the Defence’s teacher’s face with the name Delores, but once he made the connection the conversation at hand made much more sense. 


“The inquisitorial squad?”


 “A student volunteer group formed to enforce Delores’s rules and ministry orders.” Minerva supplemented, “I wish we had been able to keep any students from signing up to help that old--” she paused, spotting the pink abomination approaching the table, “We can discuss it later.” 


Severus raised an eyebrow at the abrupt end of the conversation. Minerva was never one to mince words, nor was she one to keep quiet and talk about coworkers behind their backs. If anything, sometimes she was too honest and upfront - her redeeming qualities also being her downfall at times like a true Gryffindor. 


“Ah, Severus, it’s lovely to see you back at work.” Delores Umbridge cooed as she sat on his other side, “Your recovery has gone well then, I suppose?”


“It’s refreshing to be back.” Severus replied cordially, his subconscious sending off warning bells that this woman could not be trusted, even though he couldn’t remember why. Something about her sickeningly sweet voice made his skin crawl, and he knew he had to tread lightly, “Hogwarts is blessed by Merlin himself to have such a talented mediwitch on staff.” 


He glanced over the Slytherin table, remembering what Minerva had said about the Inquisitorial Squad, “I trust my students have been doing an exemplary job on your Inquisitorial Squad? If they are ever anything less than exemplary, please do not hesitate to come to me so I can discipline them to the full extent of my authority.”


He wasn’t sure why he felt compelled to tell her that, but she seemed to be happy that he was willing to discipline with a firm hand and she asked no further questions about his accident or recovery. 


As he finished his breakfast, he remembered Potter’s words about detention. It really was the brat’s place to sort out his conflicting detention schedules, but since they were both seated here and the blasted boy was on his mind, he decided to lay the groundwork for the insufferable child.


“I assigned Mr. Potter detention tonight for his role in my accident, but he informed me that he was already serving detention with you.” Severus mentioned to Delores, “How long do you expect to keep him? I was hoping he could serve my detention after, though I am under strict orders to take it easy for a few days to make sure nothing interrupts my healing process.” 


Lies, he was told no such thing. He just didn’t want to have to be in Potter’s presence until midnight. 


“Of course, Severus.” Delores gushed in the most sugary-sweet and obviously fake tone he’d ever heard, “I can allow him to serve detention with you first so you don’t have to be overly taxed with his company. When you’re finished with him, you can send him to me and I will take over disciplining him from there.” 


On his other side, Minerva made a disapproving noise, but said nothing. Severus had no choice but to agree, still feeling like something was very, very wrong here. He needed his memories back, and he needed them back immediately.


~*~


“Come on, mate, you know how Snape can be when he’s angry. I’m sure he’d never let them chuck you into Azkaban.” Ron told his friend, trying to be supportive and helpful, but knowing he’d failed miserably when his friend began to retch again from the other side of the closed bathroom stall. 


The awful retching noises came to an end and the only sounds left in the bathroom were the dripping sink and Harry’s loud, harsh gasps of air as he tried to calm down his body and mind.


“Alright, mate?” Ron asked after a minute or so of awkward silence, “Do you need anything?”


“A time turner?” Harry asked wryly, coughing a few times as his lungs refused to cooperate and give him an adequate supply of air, “So maybe I could go back to that day and fix all of this?”


“Wish I could.” Ron said heavily, leaning against the stall door frame, “Honestly, though, I think he was just trying to get a rise out of you. He looked a bit, I dunno, disappointed or something when you didn’t argue with him. If they’d thought you’d done something criminal, aurors would be here by now - they’d have come to question you at the start.”  


There was a quiet knock on the door, followed by Hermione’s voice, “Harry? Ron?”


Ron quickly crossed the room to the door and let her in, then charmed the door shut and locked so no one else could enter. He nodded his head towards the closed toilet stall and Hermione frowned worriedly. 


“Is that Hermione?” Harry asked tiredly, having heard the door and then Ron’s spellwork. He felt overly warm and the room felt as if it had gotten smaller since he’d been in it. He hurriedly unfastened his tie and unbuttoned the top button of his shirt, hoping that it would alleviate the feeling like the walls were closing in on him and threatening to suffocate him. It didn’t help at all. 


Feeling like he probably done choking back up the breakfast he’d forced down, he leaned against the wall of the bathroom stall and lowered his head to his knees. If there had been any doubt that his adoptive father absolutely hated him now, it was gone now. Investigations, aurors, Azkaban...could he really go to Azkaban for what had happened? It had been an accident, he hadn’t meant for anyone to be hurt. 


His chest felt even tighter at the thought of the bleak prison and he fumbled to unfasten another button on his shirt as his mind drifted to the dementors that guard it and what would happen if he had to stay there without his wand and Patronus to protect him from the debilitating memories that they brought up every time he was in their presence. 


“Harry, can I come in?” Hermione asked quietly from the other side of the stall door. Worry was practically dripping from her words and Harry was torn between telling both of them to get lost so they didn’t see him completely fall apart and letting them in so he didn’t feel so alone and jittery. 


When he opened his mouth to speak, no words came out and he once again found himself struggling to get enough air in to make sense of the situation. What was wrong with him? Why was he falling apart like this? The adults in his life had always hated his existence, so why was this bothering him so much? 


He ran his fingers through his hair, fighting the urge to flee and forcing down the black hole of loneliness that he knew would consume him if he gave it half a chance. He pulled his hair slightly, using the twinge of pain to ground him to the moment, to channel his energy in a way that would keep the broken pieces of him together. One deep breath, then two, then three…


His stomach lurched again and he moved back to the toilet just in case there was anything left in his body to eject. He wasn’t sure what was more terrifying to him - the idea of rotting away in Azkaban with dementors and Death Eaters for company or the idea of detention with Snape where inevitably he was going to be told that Snape wanted to end the adoption and that he was on his own….again. 


Harry heaved once more, so caught up in the endless flood of worry and negativity flowing through his veins that he didn’t realize Hermione had entered the stall until she put a hand on his shaking shoulder, startling him out of his panicked string of thoughts. 


“It’s going to be alright, Harry.” she soothed. 


He wanted to believe her, but knew he couldn’t. How could things be alright when his whole life was crashing in on him?


“Here, sit back.” Hermione said gently once it seemed as if Harry’s bout of sickness had passed. With careful hands she maneuvered him into a sitting position, taking his wrist into her hand and pressing down on the vein for a few seconds, “Your pulse is racing. Ron, can you wet us some paper towels?” 


The third member of their trio appeared in the stall doorway moments later, water dripping slowly to the floor as he brought her what she requested, “Should I get someone--?”


“No.” Hermione and Harry said in unison, her voice strong and confident and his subdued and strained. “I’ve got this.” Hermione continued, taking a wet towel and carefully placing it on the back of Harry’s neck while she took the rest and dabbed at his sweaty face. 


The relief was instant and Harry couldn’t be sure if it was an effect of the cool water or the feeling of being cared for that helped ease the tightness in his chest and slow the thoughts racing through his mind. He leaned his head back against the wall, eyes closed as he finally was able to take a deep breath. 


“Better?”


Harry’s murmured response was unintelligible, though both Ron and Hermione understood it completely. The crisis was passing. Things would be okay. Maybe not great, but solidly okay. Hermione sat beside her friend, squeezing his shaky hand tightly when he let his head drop to her shoulder in a sign of trust and camaraderie. 


Why had he been so scared to confide in them? To trust them with this? They’d just seen the worst side of him and they were still here, supportive and caring. Hermione had been right - they were his family. They weren’t going to leave him like everyone else inevitably did. Maybe he didn’t need Snape after all. The flutter that flared in his chest at the thought was a sign that perhaps he did still need Snape, but he was also confident that with his friends by his side, he’d survive even without his new father. 


Ron sat on Harry’s other side, knee touching Harry’s knee. Harry knew it was a way to show he was there for him, as it wasn’t natural for the ginger to be as tactile and direct as Hermione. The gesture was as comforting as the ministrations Hermione had given him, and Harry exhaled slowly, feeling like his life was coming back together, piece by piece. 


“We’re going to be late for class.” Ron commented, checking the time and surprised to see how much time had passed. 


“We’re not going.” Hermione said after a brief pause, “Harry’s in no condition for class and I’m not leaving him alone.” 


“I’m right here.” Harry muttered, “Don’t talk about me like I’m not.”


“She’s right, though, mate.” Ron countered, “You look like you’ve been run over by a herd of Hippogriffs. Flitwick would probably send you straight to Pomfrey if you walked into class like this.”


“Besides that, you’ve been sick.” Hermione reasoned, “If there’s any reason to skive off a class, it’s that. If we tell Professor Flitwick that we missed class because you were sick and we were helping you, he’ll understand.” 


“Out of any of the professors, he’d probably be the most likely to understand.” Ron agreed, “Let’s just go back to the common room. You can lie down for a bit and we’ll go to our afternoon classes.”


“Oh.” Hermione said softly, glancing worriedly towards Harry. At the boys’ questioning gazes, she clarified, “We have double potions this afternoon.” 


Ron looked expectantly at his best friend as if he expected Harry to be sick again, but Harry remained still, letting his eyes shut for a few seconds before banging his head lightly against the wall a few times in a show of frustration. 


“Then we’ll skive off that class, too.” Ron retorted, “If I have to go sit in that greasy bastard’s class I’m going to have to tell him what I think about him. Whatever trouble we get into for skiving has to be less than what we’d get into for telling off a professor.” 


“We can’t just skive off his class.” Harry muttered, “He’ll take it out on me, and I already have enough detentions between both him and Umbridge finding fault in every single move I make.” 


“You certainly can’t go to his class.” Hermione countered, “Look at you. I love you, Harry, but you’re a mess. Do you think you’ll be able to sit in his classroom, having him criticize your potions and call you names and all of that other stuff he does in class without having a panic attack? Because I don’t think you’re ready for that, yet.” 


“I’m fine.” 


“No, you’re not.” Hermione argued, “And that’s okay. It’s okay to not be okay. Honestly, with all that’s happening, I don’t think anyone would blame you for not being okay. But you can’t just walk around and pretend like nothing’s happening. It’s not healthy.”


Harry groaned, hating feeling exposed in front of his friends, even though he knew they were unlikely to judge him or think any less of him for this bout of weakness. He wasn’t sure what to say to her, and he wasn’t about to agree with her and tell her that she was right, even if she was. He didn’t want to admit that he wasn’t fine, he wasn’t even okay. Admitting it would make it real, and it was a lot easier to pretend like he was fine than to deal with all of the chaos swirling constantly in his brain. 


“Can we just stay here a minute? I’m not ready to go back out there yet.” Harry admitted quietly. 


“Of course.” Ron said quietly, looking over Harry’s bowed head to meet Hermione’s worried gaze. They stared at each other for a few seconds, silently communicating their worry over their friend. 


Hermione put her arm around Harry, giving him a slight squeeze as a show of affection and support, and Ron stood, “I’m going to wet some more paper towels.” 


Harry wasn’t sure if needed more wet paper towels, but he understood Ron’s need to do something to show he cared. Hermione was gentle and affectionate at times, as well as their voice of reason most of the time. Ron was different, he needed to do things to show that he cared and wasn’t great at sharing his thoughts and emotions through words or touch. He shivered slightly as a new overly wet and cold paper towel was placed on his neck, slightly uncomfortable as the excess water trickled down his back. Was the paper towel needed? Not particularly, not anymore. Was it uncomfortable? A bit. Even then, Harry didn’t make a move to touch it. Just the fact that his friends cared enough to take care of him when he was like this was enough to remind him that even though everything else was falling apart some things in his life were still solid and would remain solid. 


~*~


“You’re my son. Of course I want to know when someone’s bothering you!”


The memory came out of nowhere, the intensity of its arrival nearly bringing Snape to his knees in the corridor. 


“Not this, this is just stupid stuff. I can handle it on my own.”


“I have no doubt that you can handle it on your own, you’re more adept at handling situations on your own than most your age, but my point is that you don’t have to handle it on your own anymore. I want you to come to me when something is bothering you, even if it’s not a matter of life and death. I shouldn’t have to find out through the school gossip mill that my son is having issues with another student!”


There was a pause, before the child responded, “But why? You’ve got papers to grade and lessons to plan, you have to watch your back so Umbridge doesn’t can you like she’s trying to can everyone else, you have to keep up appearances with the Slytherins and Vol--you know, him...then there’s Order stuff...you put everything on the line for this adoption to happen. How could I possibly come to you with stupid petty school stuff when you have so much else you have to do?”


“I want you to. We’re a family now and families talk about their days and their experiences, even if they’re trivial. I don’t want you to wait until you’re coming to blows with another student to tell me you’re being targeted. I don’t want you to wait until you’re failing a class before you come to me for help--”


“I’m not failing any of my classes!”


“I didn’t say you were. You’re missing the big picture here, son. My point is that I don’t care if all you did for the day was waste time down at the lake skipping rocks and talking about quidditch with your friends, I still want to hear about it. I don’t want you to reserve our conversations for when you’re in over your head. I don’t want to be your last resort option. I’m your father, and I want to be your father. That includes all of the mundane, day to day bits like hearing about what you’ve done in classes, making sure you’ve eaten all three meals, checking your homework, taking care of you when you’re ill or injured, making sure you go to bed at a reasonable hour instead of skulking around the castle…” 


“You really want to do all of that? For me?” 


“I wouldn’t have signed the papers if there was any doubt in my mind.”


“But what if I start talking to you about just regular stuff and you change your mind? I don’t want to go back there.” 


“I won’t change my mind.” 


“Yes, you will....eventually everyone gets tired of me. I’m not that special. I’m not a good kid, a good son. I don’t know how to be. I’ve never been someone’s son before, not really.”


“I won’t change my mind.”


“But what if you do?”


“I won’t.”


“Do you promise?”


“I swear it on my life, there is nothing you could do or say that would make me regret my decision or change my mind.”


The memory ended as suddenly as it began, and Snape found himself holding on to the wall for support as his legs trembled and threatened to give way. He had no doubts that it was a memory, that it was real. He could feel the emotions, the memory was as sharp and clear as if it had just transpired in this very space, at this very time. He still couldn’t put a face to the boy, but he knew it was just within his grasp. 


Had he really adopted a son? He had a child walking around this school and he had no idea who it was? Why had the child not approached him? Why had no one told him? The poor boy, he was probably beside himself thinking that he’d been forgotten, lonely for the person who promised not to leave him. Had they already crossed paths? Would it be someone in his classes today, someone looking for a sign or a signal of recognition and heartbroken when it didn’t appear? 


He needed time to think on this, to process this. But first, he needed to splash some water on his face and strengthen his occlumency shields so he could compartmentalize this new development and unpack it after he’d gotten through his work day. Brewing when distracted was a recipe for disaster, and he wasn’t going to allow a student to be injured as a result of his personal crisis. 


The door to the loo was locked, though the charmwork was substandard, at best, and he easily dismantled the poorly constructed wards. He’d come across locked doors many times, and usually the culprit was a student trying to compose themselves or perhaps two students thinking they were being clever about hiding away to snog. 


He opened the door, stealthily entering to see who he was going to catch being up to no good. He didn’t expect to see the Golden Trio sitting huddled together on the floor. The scent of sickness was thick in the air and it didn’t take long to determine which one was ill. Potter sat between the other two, his face ashen and utterly miserable. If he wasn’t so furious with the boy over the accident and his missing memories - memories of his son, at that! - he may have been inclined to intervene and do something to help. After all, it was his duty as a teacher to be helpful when a student was in distress, even when the student was the single most arrogant and annoying student in the school. Instead, he carried about his business, pretending he hadn’t seen the three students. 


Snape could feel Granger and Weasley’s eyes on him as he splashed water on his face and he found it a bit unnerving, though he wasn’t sure why. It wasn’t the first time students had stared at him with disdain and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. 


A glance in their direction showed him Potter’s eyes were closed and he had no idea they weren’t alone. Without a doubt, if Potter had been more coherent there would have been three sets of eyes following his every move. 


“Miss Granger--”


His voice startled Harry, the boy’s eyes flying open almost comically as he jumped several centimeters, jolted back to full consciousness. It would have been funny if the boy hadn’t immediately turned a delicate shade of green. 


“No.” Hermione said sternly as Harry moved towards the toilet, “You’re not going to be sick again. You’re going to breathe through it and calm down.”


Snape didn’t even notice that the incredulous look Harry was giving the girl matched his own expression perfectly. 


“Hermione--”


“No, Ron.” She turned to Harry with a pleading, worried expression, “You need to just stay calm. I know it’s hard, and I know you feel absolutely rotten, but you honestly can’t afford to lose any more weight and you can’t go back to square one just because we aren’t alone in the room anymore.”


Snape felt like he’d walked into something bigger than just a student with a mundane childhood illness, and he wished he’d gone to any other lavatory in the school. He didn’t want to deal with theatrics and drama, especially with these three students. 


Hermione’s impassioned speech did little for her friend, and Harry was soon retching painfully over the toilet, leaving Ron to step out of the stall with a slightly disgusted expression and Hermione to follow, absolutely livid in a way that the professor had never seen her before. 


“This is all your fault. Do you see what you’ve done!? Was it worth it - making him think you were going to have him expelled, or sent to Azkaban? Does it make you happy to torment your students and absolutely crush their spirits? Do you get your kicks from bullying students who more than half your age?” Hermione asked angrily, tears in her eyes on behalf of her suffering friend. 


“One hund--”


Snape’s scathing retort was cut off by Ron’s frantic gasp, “Hermione, look--”


Both teens had turned their attention back to Harry, who had torn off a few pieces of roll to wipe his mouth, only to have the paper stained red with blood. 


If possible, Potter had gone even more pale at the sight of blood and if his two friends hadn’t stepped forward to grab ahold of him, Snape would have had no choice but to do it himself. What was wrong with the brat, anyway? Certainly all of these theatrics couldn’t be due to one measly threat of an auror investigation into the accident. 


“Come on, mate, you’ve got to see Pomfrey now. I think we’ve crossed over into this being something too big for us to ignore.” Ron was saying kindly to his friend, worry evident in his face and tone though Harry seemed to have completely checked out of the conversation, his eyes glazed over as he allowed himself to be maneuvered by his friends.


It took both students to get Harry to his feet, and once standing he swayed alarmingly, his eyes fluttering with a low moan. 


“Honestly, you won’t get him anywhere like this.” Snape sighed, conjuring a stretcher and guiding Harry to it. ”Weasley, get him to the hospital wing. Granger, we’re not finished.”


“Actually, I’d prefer to go with my friend.” Hermione stated, bold and brave in a way that screamed ‘Gryffindor’ but was usually reserved for some of the more outspoken and reckless students in their house and not for the studious and reserved girl. 


Even Potter lifted his head slightly to watch the scene unfold. 


Snape was surprised to see her standing up to him like this, with such disrespect and unabashed hatred, but he couldn’t dwell on her uncharacteristic behavior for long, lest he lose the little control he had over the situation at hand. “One hundred points from Gryffindor, and we will continue this in the Headmaster’s Office.”


Granger opened her mouth to argue, but he silenced her with one of his most fierce glares and pointed towards the doorway, “When will you students learn that being disrespectful brats is never the answer?”


“When will you learn to keep your promises?” Ron muttered under his breath, though everyone heard it. 


Hermione sighed anger deflating at the prospect of her behavior being detailed for the Headmaster. It really hadn’t made a difference, after all - she’d yelled at the professor and it didn’t miraculously solve any of their problems, just as she knew would be the outcome. Ron silently accompanied his friend to the hospital wing after giving Hermione a sympathetic smile. Harry had began to doze off as soon as he realized Snape and Hermione weren’t going to continue verbally sparring, exhausted from the eventful morning. 


As for Snape, confusion over the events that had just unfolded as well as confusion over his reemerging memories had given him a headache and he wanted nothing more than to retreat to his quarters. Perhaps Poppy had been right and it was too soon to jump back into his daily routines. Of course, it was too late now to change his mind and retreating to the privacy and comfort of his quarters would have to wait - he had a student to discipline and another to check up on. Potter may be his least favorite person, but he wasn’t completely heartless. He’d have to make sure Potter and Weasley made it to the hospital wing and ask for an update on the boy; he wasn’t sure why, but he felt oddly compelled to know what was wrong. 


He watched the boys retreat down the hallway, his gaze landing on Potter’s black trainers. They looked new, which was strange for this point of the school term; it was actually strange for Potter at all, since his clothing usually resembled something rescued from a trash bin. He couldn’t pinpoint why, but for some reason those trainers seemed important. He’d have to examine this later, when he had more time to think and less discipline to dole out. He filed that memory away with the one from earlier, determined to sort out this puzzle once he’d dealt with Granger.   



~*~


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