Burning the candle at both ends by Vee
Summary: Something is off with Professor Snape and it falls to Harry and, of all people, Sirius Black to find out what is going on. Can enemies help each other?
Categories: Teacher Snape > Professor Snape Main Characters: Sirius
Snape Flavour: Snape is Depressed
Genres: Action/Adventure
Media Type: None
Tags: Depression Recovery
Takes Place: 5th Year
Warnings: Out of Character
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 5 Completed: No Word count: 12476 Read: 2147 Published: 13 Sep 2023 Updated: 30 Sep 2023
Sirius by Vee
Sirius’ room in his old family home looked like that of a teenager. Harry usually loved being here and imaging Sirius when he was his own age, lounging moodily on the bed and launching spells at the cracked and battered plaster of his ceiling. Today however, sitting at the old schoolboy desk under the huge window and facing his godfather, Harry was frustrated with Sirius for the first time ever.
I should have gone to Remus with this!“ he said and angrily pushed his chair back. “You are not even listening to me!”
“Harry!” Sirius finally sat up straighter in his chair and stopped changing the colour of Harry’s socks for fun. “Why are you so angry? And why do you want to waste the precious little time that we can spend together with talking about Snape of all people?”
Harry clenched his fists. Outside, birds chirped loudly and their brooms stood in the corner of the room, beckoning him silently. But Harry had lost all interest in flying with Sirius today. “I told you, Sirius,” he said. “Something is wrong with him …”
“Of course, something is wrong with him!” Sirius interrupted. “He is a slimy git and a Death Eater …”
“Didn’t you listen to what I said?” Harry fumed. “He didn’t move out of the way when the cauldron exploded. I think … I think he wanted to be killed …”
Sirius barked a humorless laugh. “Snape? Letting himself be killed by a potion? Come on, Harry! He won’t do us that favour.”
Harry stared at him. The cruelness of Sirus’ words hung between them, cold.
Sirius scrambled for anything to say. “Why do you care anyway?” he said, flipping his wand into the air and catching it as if his words meant nothing at all.
Harry shook his head. “Why don’t you?” he asked quietly.
Sirius was taken aback by the disappointment he could see in his godson’s eyes. “Harry …”
But the boy turned around and walked out of the room. He didn’t storm off in a huff, but Sirius was sure his godson didn’t want him to follow. How had their pleasant afternoon turned into this?
He had been looking forward to this day all week. The rare occasions on which he could meet Harry were a real blessing to him. Sirius was sure he would lose his mind if he was trapped in this house for too long with nothing to do, and a visit from Harry was always a welcome change.
And now Harry was disappointed with him. Sirius had never shared this with anyone, but his secret fear had always been that one day Harry would stop looking up to his godfather and realize that Sirius wasn’t such a great man after all.
From downstairs came muffled voices. People were arriving for the Order meeting. Sirius had hoped to go flying with Harry after the meeting, but he heard the distinct whoosh of the floo-network being activated and Harry’s voice, probably going back to Hogwarts. Sirius growled and kicked his chair through the room. Their afternoon had been perfect – care free and wonderful. And then everything changed. Why? Because of that greasy git. Why was Harry worried about Snape all of a sudden anyway? Did that Slytherin somehow trick him? Did he play with the boy’s mind?
He must have done! Sirius couldn’t imagine a Potter being worried over Snape for any other reason. It was Snape, for God’s sake! He would throttle that Death Eater when he next laid eyes on him. Snape was Snape and nothing would change that. It was the one constant thing from his former life that Sirius could cling to after his break-out of Azkaban.
James and Lily were gone. His relationship with Remus was still somewhat strained despite their best efforts to make up for the lost years. Dumbledore … Well, there had been a time when he had trusted Dumbledore without a doubt. But the Headmaster had believed him to be guilty and hadn’t interfered when he was sent to prison without a trial. Even though Sirius could understand it, it still created a rift between him and the older wizard.
And then there was Snape. He had hated Snape in school, after school, through his years spent in prison and he kept on hating him now. Snape was not to be trusted, a Death Eater who turned spy? Well, Sirius was wary around him and had no problem voicing his suspicions and riling the old bat up. It was a fight that never ended and he needed it to stay that way.
Suddenly feeling that the room was too small, the house suffocating him, Sirius stormed out of the room and down the stairs to the entrance hall. The portrait of his mother shrieked and insulted someone, but he didn’t pay any attention to it. He needed some fresh air, he needed to get out of this rotten place. With a flick of his wand, he opened the door and then transformed into Padfood. He was out of the door and in the garden even before any of the arriving Order members saw him.
The black dog raced through the high grass that covered every patch of the grounds surrounding his family home. He had played in here as a boy, he knew every corner of the grounds. It was liberating to race through them now as a dog. The wind ruffled through his long fur and he felt his muscles working while he pounced through the garden. All thoughts drifted from his mind, all that was important now was to run.
Run, run, run and maybe find something to chase.
He reached the edge of the grounds and the end of the wards securing his house. The wizard knew that he should probably stay inside the wards, but the dog didn’t care. He left the grounds and explored more of his surroundings.
Members of the Order apparated in front of the wards as their meeting was about to start soon, but none saw the black dog hiding from them. Sirius knew he should probably get back, but the Order meetings frustrated him a lot. There was always so much to do and no one would allow him to be part of it. No, he had to stay hidden, he had to lie low for a while … for how long? How much longer could he stay sane trapped in this place?
The dog shook its head and started to explore the garden of an abandoned house that bordered his own garden. It was much more interesting than thinking about the Order.
A noise behind him made him freeze in his tracks. Sirius’ body reacted as the body of a dog. He stood completely still, his ears flat to his head. His mind, however, was still the mind of a wizard and he forced his body to move and hide under a bush. That noise had been the distinct crack of someone apparating. Was it a member of the Order? But why would he choose to apparate here in this garden? It was more likely that it was someone with something to hide, who didn’t want his arrival to be known.
Sirius contemplated turning back into his human form as it was easier to think then and he would not be distracted by the urge to chase a squirrel that was running up a tree next to him. However, before he could make up his mind, a man stumbled into his line of vision.
The hairs on the back of his neck stood up and Sirius started to growl quietly. What was Snape doing here? Why wasn’t he apparating in front of the house like all the other Order members?
The Potions Master stumbled and nearly fell to the ground, but he caught himself as he grabbed the branch of a nearby ash tree. Sirius smirked inwardly. It would be fun to witness slimy Snape fall and crack his head open …
Snape however didn’t do him that favour. He gripped the branch of the tree firmly, his knuckles turning white, and steadied himself. If he hadn’t been a dog, Sirius would have frowned. There was a scent coming of the Potions Master that strongly reminded him of the coppery smell of blood. He looked sharply at the Potions Master, but could see no obvious injuries. Of course, any stains would be well concealed by the thick black material of his robes. Snape’s face was pale, but the git spent most of his time in the dungeons – no wonder he was pale.
It was then that Sirius noticed the shaking. Snape’s whole body was wrecked by tremors. The man let go of the branch and slowly lowered himself to the ground until his back rested against the broad trunk of the tree. One trembling hand came up to cover his face, while the other curled into a fist and punched the soft moss that covered the ground he was sitting on.
Then he sat still. Still, apart from the tremors that ran through his body and his shaking shoulders.
Sirius stared at him. Was Snape crying?
No, it couldn’t be. Snape didn’t cry. He fumed and snarled, he sneered and leered - Sirius had seen that happen many times over the years. But never ever had he seen the Slytherin cry – no matter how much they harassed him.
But he was alone now, wasn’t he? Or at least he thought he was.
Sirius thought that it would be best to turn back into his human form as the dog had the strange urge to approach the other man and offer some form of comfort. That was just unthinkable!
Before he could transform, though, he noticed that Snape had changed his position slightly. The hand that had covered his face, dropped to his side and for the first time Sirius caught a glimpse of the Potions Master’s face. There were no tears in his eyes, so he hadn’t been crying. Nonetheless, the pained expression of the other man’s face was so intense that for a moment Sirius wished Snape would cry and release whatever was going on in his mind.
The Potions Master opened his robe and rummaged through one of its inside pockets. After some struggling, he retrieved a vial with a shimmering liquid from it. He held it up, squinting at it briefly, before uncorking it with shaking hands and downing its contents in one gulp.
Nearly instantly his tremors ceased.
Of course.
The dog shook its head. The Cruatius Curse. Snape must have been cursed before he came here. But how …?
Sirius cursed inwardly when the answer came to him. He really had to change back. Being a dog slowed his mind down. Snape had come directly from a Death Eater meeting. Slowly, the man in front of him stood up as if he wasn’t trusting his legs yet. He lowered his head slightly, his black hair falling forward and hiding his face from Sirius’ view. He stood completely still for some time. Then he raised his head again and his face was a blank mask. Not a trace of emotion could be found in it. Sirius shuddered and had to suppress the urge to whine. Now wasn’t the right time to give away that he had witnessed Snape’s arrival. He sat completely still and watched as their spy moved through the garden and headed towards their Order meeting, looking for anybody else as if nothing had happened at all.
To be continued...

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