A brisk wind swept through the corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, carrying with it the echoes of ghostly whispers and the distant hooting of owls. The moon, a silvery orb suspended in the inky blackness, illuminated the deserted hallways and the ever-changing, seemingly sentient staircases. It was a time when students, professors, and even mischievous poltergeists were abiding by the unspoken rule of slumber, all nestled in their respective quarters. All, save for one.
Unbeknownst to everyone, Harry Potter, the bespectacled boy with the infamous lightning bolt scar, had left the warmth and comfort of his four-poster bed in the Gryffindor common room. Despite it being his first year at Hogwarts, he had managed to find his way around the vast castle. Still deep in sleep, he walked through the portrait hole, the Fat Lady giving a startled squawk as he nudged her awake. His footsteps were barely audible as he navigated through the labyrinthine corridors of the castle, seemingly with an innate sense of direction. His slumbering eyes unblinking, he descended one moving staircase and then another, the whispered enchantments of the castle guiding his sleepwalk.
Suddenly, a voice, as chilly as the draft that wafted through the stone corridors, shattered the serene silence. "Potter!" Severus Snape, his black robes billowing around him like the wings of a predatory bird, emerged from the shadows, a scowl etched deep into his sallow face. His eyes, dark and intense, gleamed with a peculiar mix of annoyance and curiosity. He couldn't fathom why the boy was wandering around so late. Surely, he was aware of the school rules?
Harry, heedless in his slumbering state, continued his wayward march. His mumbled words were a foreign symphony of enchantments and forgotten spells, his wandless hand gesturing faintly, as if echoing his dreambound dialogues.
"Stop, Potter!" Severus's words grew harsher, the icy veins of command striking a discordant note in the nocturnal melody of Hogwarts. He moved towards Harry, his dark eyes never leaving the boy's oblivious form.
And then Severus saw it: the staircase moving to another location. His heart hammered in his chest as he realized the dangerous trajectory Harry was on. The staircase, in its typical, unpredictable Hogwarts fashion, had shifted away from its usual position, leaving behind a yawning abyss.
"Potter, NO!" Severus shouted, fear spiking his voice. He broke into a sprint, his long robes snapping around his legs, a night phantom galvanized into motion. But he was too far away, too late.
In the specter-light of the moon, Harry stepped off the edge of the corridor with no staircase beneath his foot. For a moment, he seemed to hang suspended in mid-air, gravity's reluctant prisoner. Then, his body tilted forwards, and he began to fall.
"No!" Severus's yell echoed in the empty corridor, carrying the sheer terror that clung to his usually impassive voice. He whipped his wand out, his mind racing as he fought the paralyzing fear clawing at him.
His shout had barely finished echoing when he barked out a spell, "Wingardium Leviosa!" But his desperate attempt to halt Harry's fall came a moment too late. Even as the charm burst from his wand, the distance was too great, the boy's descent too swift.
As Severus closed the gap, Harry fell past the precipice, plummeting into the dark void below. A heartbeat later, a resonating thud echoed up the stairwell, followed by unnerving cracks, the unmistakable sound of breaking bones.
Startled awake by a searing pain, Harry's eyes snapped open as he took in his surroundings in a disoriented panic. The pain was so overwhelming, it consumed his entire being until the world went black, and he sank back into unconsciousness.
Below, the moving staircase had shifted into place, but it was a moment too late to cushion the severe fall. Harry lay in a crumpled heap on the cold stone steps, dressed in his pajamas, his body twisted in an awkward position.
Severus was there within seconds, his heart pounding in his chest with a mixture of fear and urgency. Looking down at Harry, he saw the boy's face etched with pain even in his unconscious state. Harry's right leg was contorted at a horrifying angle, and his arm was splayed out in an unnatural position.
"Potter." He took a moment to take a deep breath.
Severus knew he needed to handle this situation with utmost care. His fingers closed around his wand tighter, his knuckles turning white. Beads of cold sweat trickled down his sallow face as he murmured, "Mobilicorpus."
With this nonverbal incantation, Harry's unconscious form lifted from the stone staircase, levitating in mid-air as if cradled by invisible hands. His body was a mere puppet to Severus's spell, and he moved it carefully, with precision, knowing that any wrong movement could cause even more damage.
At a flick of his wand, a conjured stretcher appeared next to them. Severus slowly moved Harry towards the stretcher, his every action deliberate and precise. His eyes didn't leave the boy's contorted form, the sight making his stomach clench uncomfortably.
"Finite," he whispered once Harry was safely on the stretcher. The spell that had been keeping Harry afloat ceased, and the boy's unconscious body eased down onto the stretcher. Severus heaved a sigh of relief but knew this was just the beginning of what was to be a long night.
Gently, he started maneuvering the stretcher with Harry on it, levitating it as he walked up the stairs. His path was now to the infirmary, where Madam Pomfrey was surely asleep, blissfully unaware of the emergency that was about to befall her.
Suddenly, Harry stirred again. His eyes flickered open, and a guttural groan of pain escaped his lips. His emerald green eyes, now clouded with confusion and agony, met Severus's dark, worried ones. Harry tried to sit up, but a wave of unbearable pain washed over him, making his head spin.
"Potter," Severus warned, his tone softer than it had been in a long time. "Stay still. You're injured."
Harry looked at him, uncomprehending. He tried to speak, but the only sound that came out was a whimper of pain.
Severus increased his pace, hurrying to the infirmary. This was a race against time, and for once, Harry Potter's survival depended solely on him. The thought sent a shiver down his spine.
Grim determination settled on his face as he muttered, "Hold on, Potter. We're almost there."
As they rushed through the silent corridors, the severity of Harry's injuries became apparent. Pain radiated from his broken bones in pulsing waves that swept over his body in a relentless tide. His face contorted with each gasp, his eyes squeezing shut as he tried to fight the blinding agony coursing through him. His shallow, ragged breaths echoed around them, a chilling reminder of the urgency of their situation.
Severus clenched his teeth, the sight of Harry's suffering bringing an unfamiliar emotion: worry. Gripping his wand so tightly his knuckles turned even paler than usual, he quickened his pace. The infirmary was within sight, his strides growing longer and faster as the desperation crept into him.
Arriving at the infirmary, he kicked the door open with an unceremonious bang. The noise reverberated through the empty room, cutting through the deathly silence like a blade. The peaceful tranquility of the infirmary was shattered in an instant, replaced by a flurry of activity.
A moment later, Madam Pomfrey, rushed out of her chambers, her usually neat bun of hair disheveled and her eyes wide with surprise. "Professor Snape, what's the meaning of—" She stopped abruptly when she saw Harry lying on the stretcher, his face drained of color and twisted in pain.
She gasped, her eyes darting over Harry's form as she took in the severity of his injuries. Her experienced hands moved quickly, gingerly inspecting him, her touch eliciting pained groans from the boy. "We need to stabilize him immediately," she declared, her tone grave. She glanced at Severus, her eyes holding a spark of reproach, as if blaming him for not preventing this.
Severus ignored her gaze, his dark eyes focused on Harry. He could see the boy biting his lip, a futile attempt to muffle his cries of pain. "Do what you can, Poppy," he said, his voice barely audible, as if he was choking on the words.
"I always do," she replied curtly, her eyes never leaving Harry's writhing form. She wasted no time in beginning her work, casting spell after spell in an attempt to ease Harry's pain and begin mending his broken body.
While the skilled healer worked tirelessly, Severus lifted his wand, ready to cast a levitation charm to safely move Harry to a bed in the infirmary. He aimed his wand, the incantation hanging on his lips as he prepared to transport the injured boy.
But just as he was about to utter the spell, Poppy's sharp voice rang out in the room, halting his actions. "Wait!" she called out, her voice laced with worry, just as Severus began to move the makeshift stretcher.
She had felt something with her diagnostic spell that caused her heart to flutter with anxiety. "His back... the fractures... they're bad. I need to see them clearly before we move him."
Her eyes, usually warm, were filled with fear as she conjured an examining screen around the streature. It flickered into life, providing an X-ray-like view of Harry's injuries. It was as if she could see right through him, the fractures in his back showing up as jagged, white lines on the black backdrop of the screen.
The sight of the boy's fractured spine made her swallow hard. "Merlin's beard," she murmured, her heart pounding against her ribcage. The fractures were bad, worse than she'd first thought. This was a situation that needed immediate and careful handling.
"Severus, keep him where he is," she instructed, her voice wavering slightly. She was afraid, very afraid, but she had to stay composed for Harry's sake. It was going to be a long, grueling process of healing, and she had to be ready.
Reaching into her apron, Poppy pulled out a vial of pain potion - the most potent she had. "Harry," she said softly, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder, "I'm going to give you something for the pain."
With a flick of her wand, a magical straw appeared and she slipped the vial onto it. Placing the straw gently between Harry's lips, she allowed him to sip the pain potion. As Harry swallowed, she held her breath, hoping it would grant him some relief.
But as the minutes ticked by, it became apparent that the pain potion was hardly making a dent. Harry's face remained twisted in agony, his body writhing on the streature. His shallow gasps for breath echoed around the room, a testament to the pain he was in.
Poppy swallowed hard, her gaze flicking to Severus. "I've given him as much as I can," she confessed, her voice barely a whisper. The room seemed to grow colder with her words, the weight of Harry's situation sinking in.
Severus's eyes were fixed on Harry, watching as the boy grappled with the pain coursing through his body. The sight seemed to awaken something within him; a sense of urgency, a need to act. "What do you need, Poppy?" he asked, his voice taking on a steady resolve.
She glanced at him, the stark concern in her eyes replaced with a flicker of determination. "We need a Healer from St. Mungo's," she stated firmly, "and...you need to inform the Headmaster. We may need to move Harry to the hospital."
Severus nodded, understanding the gravity of the situation. The request wasn't a small one; contacting a Healer in the middle of the night and the implications of transporting Harry from the safety of Hogwarts, were significant. But given Harry's condition, he knew there was no other choice.
"I'll get the Healer," he said, pulling out his wand. A quick flick and a whispered incantation sent his patronus, a shimmering silver doe, racing out of the infirmary with the urgent message. The doe would find its way to St. Mungo's, bypassing all the magical barriers and wards to deliver the message to the Healers on duty.
Severus then turned to leave, his dark robes billowing around him. He paused at the door, casting one last glance at Harry before leaving to find the Headmaster. He knew this news would not be easy to deliver; after all, it was about the boy who lived, the boy who now fought an agonizing battle against pain.
As he walked down the moonlit corridors, the castle was silent, its inhabitants blissfully unaware of the drama unfolding in the infirmary. Yet, there was a sense of unease in the air, a prickling sensation that whispered of worry and fear.
Meanwhile, in the infirmary, Poppy was left to battle her own fears as she continued her work on Harry. Her experienced hands moved quickly, yet gently, over Harry's injured body, trying to alleviate his pain while preparing him for the Healer's arrival. She had eventually given Harry a dreamless sleep hoping he could escape the pain of his body.
Time seemed to stretch on endlessly as the castle waited, holding its breath, praying for the boy who meant so much to so many.
Severus quickly made his way to the Headmaster's office. His normally calm and collected stride was replaced with a sense of urgency that was unfamiliar, yet necessary.
Upon reaching Albus's office, he muttered the password to the stone gargoyle guarding the entrance, stepping onto the staircase that spiraled upward into the tower. Once inside the office, Severus found Albus Dumbledore asleep behind his desk, his silver beard resting atop an open book, the soft glow of the candlelight casting shadows on his aged face.
"Albus," Severus called out, his voice cutting through the stillness of the room. But the old wizard did not stir. He hesitated, an unexpected pang of guilt washing over him. It was rare to see Albus in such a state, yet the severity of the situation demanded interruption.
With a swift stride, he approached the desk. "Albus," he repeated, this time more firmly, placing a hand on the old wizard's shoulder to wake him.
Albus's eyelids fluttered open, his bright blue eyes quickly focusing on the dark figure before him. "Severus," he said, his voice tinged with surprise, "it is unlike you to disturb at such a late hour. What brings you here?"
Severus took a deep breath, pushing aside his feelings of unease. "It's Potter," he said, his voice heavy with concern. "He's badly injured."
The words seemed to hang in the air, the gravity of the situation etching onto Albus's face. "How severe?" he asked, already rising from his chair.
"Madam Pomfrey believes we may need to move him to St. Mungo's," Severus replied, his eyes meeting the Headmaster's.
Albus's brows furrowed, concern etching into his usually calm features. "I see," he said, his voice heavy with worry. "What happened"
"He, I assume, was sleepwalking and fell when a staircase moved. By the time I got to him... it was too late to prevent the fall," Severus replied, his voice flat. It wasn't an excuse, it was a fact.
Albus looked at Severus, observing the set of his jaw, the flicker of guilt in his eyes. He knew Severus all too well. He would take the blame upon himself, just as he always did, even when it wasn't his fault. It was a pattern, a habit rooted in his self-deprecating nature, something Albus had seen countless times before.
Albus's gaze softened. "It's not your fault, Severus," he said quietly. It was a sentiment that would have been lost on anyone else, but Severus Snape was no ordinary man. He understood the unsaid, the unexpressed - and right now, he didn't need anyone telling him it wasn't his fault.
"Perhaps, but it is my responsibility to inform you," Severus said, his voice cold, "I've already sent my Patronus to St. Mungo's. The Healer should be there already."
Albus nodded, a thoughtful furrow creasing his brow as he absorbed the situation, his formidable mind already setting the gears of strategy in motion. "I'll alert the others on the staff," he declared, each word a considered step in a grand plan, "and I'll inform the Ministry as well. They need to be involved whenever we face the necessity of transporting a child out of Hogwarts."
Across from him, Severus inclined his head in a gesture of acquiescence, the rigid line of his shoulders easing slightly. It was a barely perceptible relaxation, but to anyone who knew the tightly-wound Potions Master, it signified a fraction of relief.
"Let's go see Harry then," Albus said, pushing himself up from his imposing oak desk with a sense of purpose. His voice retained its characteristic calm, yet beneath the steady veneer ran a thread of urgency, a palpable shift that added a new weight to the situation. The usual twinkle in his eyes had dimmed, replaced with a look of focused concern, underlining the gravity of what lay ahead.
Just before they reached the entrance to the hospital wing, Albus gently placed a hand on Severus's shoulder, causing the man to halt in his tracks. Turning to face the potions master, Albus's eyes were filled with an understanding and a certain determination.
"Severus," he said, his voice imbued with a calm strength, "everything will be alright. We will ensure it." The intensity of his gaze bore into Severus, a silent reminder of their unyielding commitment to the wellbeing of their students.
The older man's touch lingered for a moment longer before falling away, leaving a faint warmth where his hand had rested. It was a brief exchange, yet it held the weight of a promise.
Then, ending their journey, they arrived to the hospital wing to find Madam Pomfrey and the summoned healer deeply immersed in their work. Both were attending to Harry with extreme care, their hands moving in steady, practiced motions despite the severity of the situation. As Severus and Albus took in the sight, they were relegated to the role of silent observers, entrusting the boy's care to the practiced hands of the healers.
Looking at Harry's unconscious form on the still levitating stretcher, the reality of the situation made Severus stomach fell. He had spent so much of his life despising the boy, resenting the very sight of him. But now, faced with Harry's pale, pain-stricken face, something in him twisted uncomfortably.
Albus placed another comforting hand on Severus's shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. "It's not your fault, Severus," he repeated, this time louder, clearer. "You did everything you could. Now, it's up to Poppy and the Healers."
Despite the reassuring words, Severus's gaze didn't leave Harry. His mind was a whirl of thoughts, regrets, and guilt. He had always seen Harry as a reminder of his past, a past he desperately wanted to forget. But now, looking at the boy fighting for his life, he couldn't help but see him as he was - a child, just a child, who had been thrust into a world of danger and darkness far too early.
"Severus," Albus's voice interrupted his thoughts, "I need you to focus. We have a long night ahead of us."
Snapped out of his introspection, Severus nodded, meeting Albus's gaze. He drew a deep breath, steeling himself for the tasks ahead. The past could wait, but Harry's future could not.
At that moment, the healer from St. Mungo's rose from Harry's side and approached them. His robes were marked with the hospital's insignia, and his face held a stern look of professionalism, yet there was an unmistakable hint of worry in his eyes.
"Professor Dumbledore, Professor Snape," he addressed them, his voice steady despite the grim news he was about to deliver. "We've managed to stabilize his limbs, but there's internal damage that needs immediate attention. His lumbar vertebrae have suffered a severe impact. The first and second lumbar vertebrae are fractured, but it's the third that's of greater concern. It's shattered, likely where he landed the hardest. He needs to be transferred to St. Mungo's immediately for surgery."
Albus's eyes tightened, his hands folding together as he processed the information. Severus, on the other hand, felt a cold shiver crawl up his spine, his eyes drawn to the unconscious boy once more.
"Will he...?" Severus started to ask, but his voice trailed off, unable to form the rest of the question.
The healer offered a sympathetic glance towards Severus before turning his attention back to Albus. "We'll do everything we can, but I won't lie. The next few hours are critical. Our team at St. Mungo's is ready. The sooner we get him there, the better."
Albus nodded slowly, his gaze settling on Harry. He looked frail, too young to be lying there, marred by pain and injuries. "We understand, Healer. Please proceed with the transfer," he instructed, his voice laden with concern.
Severus stayed silent, his mind racing. As much as he loathed to admit it, he cared. For Harry's survival, for the boy who bore his hated enemy's face and yet carried the heart of the woman he had loved. It was a complicated, painful realization, but it was a reality he had to face.
As the healer moved away to prepare for the transfer, Severus stood rooted to the spot, his gaze never leaving Harry. He felt a strange knot in his stomach, a mix of dread and hope. Dread for the worst, and hope for the best.
It was an excruciating wait as they prepared Harry for the transfer, but eventually, a team of Healers arrived. They worked in tandem with the healer, casting protective spells and charms over Harry to ensure a safe transfer.
Once the protective spells were set, the team lifted Harry carefully, with the help of levitation charms, they started to transport him to St. Mungo's. As they prepared to leave, Albus turned to Severus, a serious look in his eyes.
"Severus," he started, his gaze firm, "I'd like you to accompany them."
Severus turned to look at the headmaster, surprise flashing across his face before being replaced by a scowl. "You want me to what?" he asked, his tone incredulous.
"I think it would be best if someone familiar is with Harry," Albus said, his voice calm but firm. "And someone who can keep me updated with his condition."
Severus stared at Albus, clearly taken aback. "Why me?" he asked, his voice strained. "Surely, there are others..."
Albus looked at Severus for a moment before he responded. "Yes, there are others," he admitted. "But you are here now. And you were there when Harry was injured. You understand the situation better than anyone else."
Severus sighed, a frown creasing his brow. "You know Potter and I... We're hardly close. He might not appreciate waking up to see me at his side," he pointed out, his tone a touch sarcastic.
Albus responded with a simple smile, a twinkle of profound wisdom dancing in his eyes. "Harry might surprise you, Severus," he stated, his voice brimming with a confidence that was almost infectious. "But above all, I trust your judgement. This isn't about his wants, it's about his needs. And what he needs right now, more than anything, is a familiar face from Hogwarts by his side."
The room fell into a contemplative silence as Severus's gaze shifted to the unconscious form of Harry. He was, by no stretch of imagination, the ideal choice for providing comfort to the boy who lived, but the Headmaster's words resonated with a truth he couldn't deny. He was intricately tangled up in the situation, and perhaps most importantly, he possessed a clear understanding of the stakes involved.
With a heavy sigh of resignation, Severus nodded, turning back to Albus. The weight of responsibility lay heavy on his shoulders, but he acknowledged it with a simple, "Alright. I'll accompany them."
His commitment earned him a gentle pat on the shoulder from Albus, the Headmaster's face softening into a comforting smile. "Thank you, Severus," he said, the words carrying an echo of relief that lightened the heavy atmosphere, if only a little.
With a final glance at the Headmaster, Severus moved to join the group preparing to leave. As they set off through the corridors of Hogwarts, Severus could only hope that Harry would indeed surprise him.
St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries was a hubbub of activity, even at this late hour. Healers were rushing about, attending to various emergencies while house-elves moved efficiently, providing aid where they could. Amidst the chaos, Harry was quickly transferred to the special care unit where a team of highly skilled healers was waiting.
Severus followed at a distance, watching as they moved Harry with efficient, calculated movements. They were quick, but careful, every one of them focused on the boy who lay unconscious. For a moment, Severus was taken aback by the sight. The boy who was always so full of defiance, so ready to fight, was now so still, so helpless.
As the Healers got to work, Severus was asked to step outside. With nothing else to do, he found himself in a waiting area, its walls lined with uncomfortable chairs and adorned with bland, soothing paintings. Alone in the waiting room, he was left with his thoughts and the ever-present worry gnawing at his insides.
He paced the length of the room, the click of his boots on the polished floor the only sound breaking the deafening silence. He replayed the incident in his mind, every detail, every second. Could he have been faster? Could he have done something different? The what-ifs were endless, tormenting.
Severus' thoughts inevitably drifted to Lily. He remembered her bright smile, her infectious laughter, her unwavering kindness. And he remembered the promise he had made to her - to keep Potter safe, no matter what. What a great job he's done so far.
A wave of guilt washed over him. He had promised to protect Harry, but had he truly done everything he could? Could he have been more patient, more understanding? Perhaps he had been too harsh, too quick to judge. And now, Harry was lying in a hospital bed, fighting for his life.
Feeling a lump forming in his throat, Severus sat down heavily on one of the uncomfortable chairs, his head in his hands. He couldn't help but imagine what Lily would say if she were here. Would she be angry? Disappointed? Or would she, in her infinite kindness, find a way to forgive him?
Severus was interrupted from his thoughts by the sound of hurried footsteps. He looked up to see a healer approaching, her face grim but determined.
"Professor Snape?" she asked, her voice professional yet empathetic. "Harry Potter has been stabilized. He's still unconscious, but we were able to successfully repair the damage to his vertebrae. He'll require extensive magical and physical therapy, but with time and care, we expect he should be able to make a full recovery."
He nodded, his throat too tight to speak. The healer offered him a sympathetic smile before excusing herself, leaving Severus alone with his thoughts once more.
For a moment, Severus just sat there, relief washing over him. A full recovery. The words echoed in his mind. Harry was going to make it, he was going to be okay. The relief was nearly overpowering, but Severus quickly shoved it down, reminding himself that there was a long road ahead.
He let out a deep sigh, raking a hand through his hair. He should send a Patronus to Albus and Poppy, let them know that Harry was going to pull through. But he found himself rooted to the spot, staring blankly at the polished floor, his mind still reeling with the news.
After a moment, he finally found the strength to stand, his hand shaking slightly as he withdrew his wand. With a swift motion, he conjured his Patronus, a silver doe that held so much meaning to him.
"Potter has been stabilized," he spoke to the shimmering doe, his voice barely more than a whisper. "They expect him to make a full recovery with time and therapy."
The doe looked at him for a moment, as if understanding the emotional turmoil that he was going through, before it dashed away, carrying his message to Albus and Poppy.
With that task completed, Severus sank back into the chair, exhaustion washing over him. He felt drained, both physically and emotionally. He looked down at his hands, still shaking slightly, a grim reminder of the fear he had felt.
With a deep breath, Severus stood from the chair and made his way to the nearby washroom. As he splashed cold water on his face, he stared at his reflection. His eyes, usually so cold and impassive, were filled with a tiredness and vulnerability that he barely recognized. He straightened his shoulders, his gaze hardening. Harry was going to be okay. That was what mattered now.
After tidying himself up, Severus returned to the waiting area just as a healer was exiting Harry's room. The young woman gave him a small nod of acknowledgement. "You can go in now, if you like. He's still unconscious, but we've done all we can for the moment."
Severus nodded, taking a moment to brace himself before pushing the door open. The room was bathed in a dim, calming light, the only sound being the rhythmic hum of various monitoring charms. Harry was lying in the hospital bed, looking even smaller and more fragile than before. But the tension in Severus' shoulders eased a bit. The boy looked peaceful, as if he were merely sleeping.
Moving closer, Severus pulled a chair up to the bedside. He reached out, taking one of Harry's limp hands into his own. The skin was cool, but there was a faint pulse throbbing underneath his fingers, steady and reassuring.
"Potter..." he began, the name feeling strange on his lips. He usually snapped it with irritation, a jab at the boy who was always a thorn in his side. But now, there was a softness to it, a quiet plea for the boy to fight, to survive.
"Potter," he repeated, squeezing the boy's hand gently. "You're a stubborn fool. So don't you dare give up now."
Sitting there, holding Harry's hand, Severus finally let himself feel the full weight of his relief. It was overwhelming, his heart swelling with emotions he didn't quite understand. It was a confusing, exhausting mixture of fear, relief, guilt and an odd sense of pride.
Looking at Harry now, it struck Severus how much the boy resembled his mother. Not just in his features, but in his spirit. Lily had been strong, fiercely so, and it seemed her son had inherited that same resilience.
Lost in his thoughts, Severus didn't notice the change at first. It was a small twitch, a barely noticeable tightening of Harry's fingers around his own. But when he looked down, he saw Harry's eyelids fluttering, his brows furrowing slightly in what seemed to be confusion or discomfort.
"Potter?" Severus called softly, releasing his hand to smooth back the boy's unruly hair. "Harry?"
Harry's eyes slowly fluttered open, his emerald-green eyes - Lily's eyes - focusing on Severus with a bewildered expression. "S...Snape?" he slurred, his voice hoarse and weak.
Relief and an odd sense of satisfaction swept through Severus. "Yes, Potter," he said, his voice softer than he intended. "Welcome back to the world of the living."
Harry seemed to contemplate this for a moment, before a faint smile crossed his face. "Didn't...expect...you," he admitted, his words punctuated by small grimaces of pain.
"Neither did I, Potter," Severus confessed, his lips curling into a small, reluctant smile. "But it appears we're both full of surprises. Go back to sleep now, you need all the rest you can get."
Harry nodded, a faint sigh escaping him as his eyes slipped shut once more. But before he fell back into unconsciousness, he managed a soft, barely audible, "Thanks, Snape."
Severus was taken aback, his eyes widening at the unexpected gratitude. He could only nod, swallowing the lump that suddenly formed in his throat. "Rest, Potter. You have a long journey ahead."
With that, Severus tightened his grip on Harry's hand, providing a silent reassurance that he would be there when the boy woke again. As he watched Harry's steady breathing, he found himself reflecting on the strange turn of events. Just hours ago, he'd been convinced that his presence would only disturb the boy. Now, he was Harry's anchor, his reassuring presence in a time of uncertainty and fear.
It was a strange role to fill, but Severus found himself willing to play it. If it was what Harry needed, if it was what Lily's son needed, then he would be there. He owed her that much. And perhaps, he owed it to Harry too, to be more than just an antagonistic professor.
Deep in thought, Severus failed to notice his own exhaustion taking over. His grip on Harry's hand relaxed, but he didn't pull away. His eyes drooped, his mind finally giving in to the exhaustion. As he drifted off, one final thought echoed in his mind.
'I will be here, Potter. For you, and for Lily. I promise.'
Harry's eyes flickered open once more, this time to the soft morning light streaming through the window. He turned his head slightly, his gaze falling on the figure slumped over the side of the bed. Severus was there, his usually stern face relaxed in sleep, his grip still on Harry's hand, albeit loosened.
For a moment, Harry just looked at him. The last thing he remembered was Snape's voice, telling him to rest, and the sense of safety that came with it. It was a strange, unexpected sensation. Severus was usually a source of stress and tension for Harry, not comfort.
With a sigh, Harry shifted slightly, the movement causing Severus to stir. His eyes fluttered open, immediately landing on Harry. Severus straightened, releasing Harry's hand to smooth out his robes in an automatic gesture of self-consciousness.
"Potter," Severus acknowledged, his voice still rough from sleep. "How do you feel?"
Harry considered the question. His body ached, and he felt weak, but the overwhelming pain from before was gone. "Better," he managed, his voice sounding strange to his own ears.
A flicker of relief passed over Severus's face, quickly replaced by his usual stoicism. "Good," he said, standing from the chair. "I'll fetch the healer."
Harry watched him leave the room, feeling a strange sense of loss. He had no idea why Severus had stayed by his side, but he found himself grateful for it. Severus's presence had been unexpectedly comforting, a grounding force in the sea of pain and confusion.
When the healer arrived, followed closely by Severus, she immediately began to check Harry over, casting various diagnostic charms while peppering him with questions about his pain levels and general wellbeing. Through it all, Harry kept his eyes on Severus, who stood by the doorway, his arms crossed over his chest, a stern expression on his face.
Harry would have never guessed he'd find comfort in the presence of Severus Snape. But as the healer finished her assessment and left the room, promising to bring him some breakfast and a potion to help with the remaining pain.
Harry couldn't help but let out a sigh of relief when Severus returned to his side. The older man gave him a scrutinizing look before settling into the chair he'd vacated earlier.
"Potter, do you remember what happened?" Severus asked, his voice barely above a whisper. Harry frowned, racking his brain for any memory of the previous night. He remembered being in his bed in the Gryffindor dormitory and then...
Harry blinked. "I... I was sleepwalking, wasn't I?" he asked. He vaguely recalled instances of sleepwalking when he was younger, back in the Dursley household. But it hadn't happened for years.
Severus nodded, his face as unreadable as ever. "Indeed. I found you in the hall, but unfortunately, I was too late to stop you from stepping off the ledge of one of the moving staircases," he said, his voice steady but there was a hint of guilt in his eyes.
Harry's heart sank at the revelation. "I... I didn't..." he stammered, unable to comprehend the gravity of what had happened. Severus reached out, placing a reassuring hand on Harry's shoulder.
"Do not blame yourself, Potter," Severus said, surprising Harry with his words. "This was an accident, nothing more. Focus on your recovery now, we will handle the rest."
Harry nodded, trying to digest the information. "Recovery," he murmured, his voice barely above a whisper. Suddenly the aching of his body made sense. "Will I... am I going to be able to walk?" His voice was laced with fear and uncertainty, his gaze dropping down to his hands clenched tightly in the blanket.
Severus's hand on his shoulder tightened for a moment before relaxing. "The healers are optimistic," he began carefully. "You've suffered damage to your spine, Potter. They've done what they could to repair it magically, but full recovery... it's going to take time. A lot of time, and a lot of physical therapy."
The words hung heavy in the air, and Harry could feel a lump forming in his throat. "So... I'm going to be... crippled?" The words were hard to get out, but he forced himself to say them, to confront the reality.
Severus remained silent for a moment, as if considering his words. "The term 'crippled' is not quite appropriate," he finally said, his voice steady. "Your condition, although challenging, is not permanent. It will require work, determination, and patience, but knowing you, Potter, I have no doubt you'll pull through. And until you do, I'll be here for you."
There was sincerity in his voice, a kind of warmth that Harry had never heard before. It was strange, coming from Severus, but oddly comforting. For the first time since he had woken up, Harry felt a sliver of hope.
"Is that a compliment, Snape?" he asked, a small smirk tugging at the corner of his mouth. Despite the fear, despite the uncertainty, he found the energy to tease, if only to mask the whirlwind of emotions threatening to consume him.
Severus rolled his eyes, but there was a small smile playing on his lips. "Merely an observation, Potter," he replied, his tone bordering on fond.
Harry chuckled, though it came out more as a cough. "I suppose I'll take it," he said, grinning at Severus. The fear and uncertainty were still there, but so was a glimmer of determination. He had faced Voldemort, he had faced countless perils. This was just another challenge, one he would overcome, no matter how long it took.
He could see Severus studying him, a strange mix of amusement and approval in his eyes. "You truly are your mother's son, Potter," Severus said, his voice barely audible. It was the highest praise he could have given, and Harry felt his cheeks heat up.
"I'll take that as a compliment too," he mumbled, looking away to hide his blush. Severus let out a low chuckle, a sound that Harry had never thought he would hear. But it was comforting, familiar in a way that only a few things in his life were.
They sat there in comfortable silence for a while, each lost in their own thoughts. It was a moment of peace amidst the chaos, a moment of understanding between two people who had spent most of their time at odds with each other.
"Thank you, Snape," Harry said after a while, his voice serious. Severus looked at him, surprise evident in his eyes. "For...for being here. For all this," he gestured vaguely around the room.
Severus simply nodded, his expression softening. "You're welcome, Potter," he said quietly, an unspoken promise hanging between them.
Their moment of tranquillity was interrupted as the door creaked open and the healer reentered the room. She carried two trays laden with breakfast foods: toast, fruit, and what looked like porridge. She also had a third tray with a pain potion and a glass of water for Harry.
"Time for breakfast. Eat as much as you can manage, Harry. And I thought you could use a bite too." She turned to the potion master who had lifted an eyebrow in surprise. "You've been here all night. I think you need some sustenance just as much as he does."
She then turned her attention to Harry, offering him a warm, encouraging smile. "The pain potion should help. It's designed to work gradually over the next few hours. You just need to drink it slowly along with your breakfast."
Harry nodded, grateful for her kind demeanor. His gaze flicked to the food, and he found his stomach growling. The smell of the food, though simple, was appetizing. He suddenly realized just how hungry he was.
The healer excused herself, leaving Harry and Severus alone once more. Harry gingerly reached for the pain potion first. He swirled the vial around, watching as the purple liquid sloshed about. Taking a deep breath, he uncorked it and took a sip.
Severus watched Harry from the corner of his eye as he too reached for his tray. He hadn't realized how hungry he was until he smelled the food. The healer was right, he needed sustenance just as much as Harry did.
As they ate, they fell back into a comfortable silence. Every so often, Severus would glance at Harry, watching as he slowly ate his breakfast. He was glad to see the boy eating.
Harry finished his breakfast slowly, his body welcoming the food after so much exertion and trauma. As he set his tray aside, he turned his attention back to Severus, a question forming in his mind. "How... How long will I have to stay here?"
Severus paused for a moment before answering. He cleared his throat, setting his own tray aside. "You will need to stay here until the healers are satisfied with your progress," he replied carefully, his gaze steady on Harry. "There are numerous variables in a situation like this... it is difficult to put an exact timeline on it."
Harry nodded, his heart sinking a bit. He had feared as much. "And...Hogwarts?" he asked, his voice quiet. The thought of missing classes, of falling behind, only added to the pit in his stomach.
A crease formed between Severus's brows, and he hesitated for a moment before answering. "Potter," he began, his voice softer than usual, "your health is the priority right now. Hogwarts... it can wait."
"But my classes, my friends..." Harry began, a note of panic in his voice. Severus held up a hand to stop him, his expression stern yet not unkind.
"I will speak with your professors and arrange for your classwork to be sent here," he said firmly. "You will not be left behind. As for your friends, we will work out a way for them to visit. But right now, you need to focus on getting better. Can you do that?"
Harry swallowed hard, his gaze dropping to his hands. He felt a warm pressure on his shoulder and looked up to see Severus looking at him with an unfamiliar softness in his eyes. "I... I can do that," he finally said, his voice barely more than a whisper.
"Good," Severus said, his hand falling away. "I will return in a few days with your classwork. Until then, try to rest. It's what your body needs the most right now."
As Severus stood to leave, Harry found himself reaching out, catching hold of the older man's sleeve. "Thank you, Snape," he said quietly, his eyes earnest. "For everything."
For a moment, Severus just stared at him, his eyes wide with surprise. Then he slowly nodded, his hand coming up to pat Harry's arm awkwardly. "You're welcome, Potter," he said, his voice a little hoarse.
The following months were, perhaps, the hardest Harry had ever faced. There were days when he felt like he was made of nothing more than pain and frustration. Each physical therapy session was a grueling ordeal that pushed his body to its limits. Simple tasks, like sitting up or moving his legs, felt like climbing a mountain. The constant reminders of his limitations were a hard pill to swallow.
But every step, no matter how small, was a victory. And he wasn't alone. Through every tear shed, every scream of frustration, every moment of despair, Severus was there.
He was there to offer a stern word of encouragement when Harry felt like giving up. He was there with a sharp reprimand when Harry pushed himself too hard. He was there to quietly read Harry's classwork to him when his body was too tired to focus. He was there with a surprisingly gentle hand when the tears came.
Harry began to look forward to their nightly reading sessions. It was a welcome distraction from the discomfort and the tedious exercises. Severus would read aloud from his textbooks, his voice steady and calming. He would explain the concepts in a way that even Harry, exhausted and in pain, could understand. Sometimes, he would even add his own insights and opinions, giving Harry a glimpse into the brilliant mind hidden behind the stern exterior.
There were bad days, of course. Days when the pain was so intense Harry could hardly think, days when the frustration got the better of him, days when he just wanted to scream and give up. But through it all, Severus remained a constant, unwavering presence. He didn't offer empty platitudes or false hopes. He offered reality, blunt and unflinching. And, oddly enough, Harry found comfort in that.
Four months after the accident, after countless hours of physical therapy and a river of tears, Harry managed to take his first, shaky step without the aid of a walker. The feeling was indescribable. His legs were trembling, his heart was pounding, but he was standing. On his own. The relief and joy that flooded through him were so intense, he felt lightheaded.
He would have fallen if it weren't for Severus. Quick as a flash, the older man was at his side, his arms providing support even as he wore a rare smile of genuine pride.
"Well done, Potter," Severus said, his voice barely above a whisper. It was perhaps the most sincere praise Harry had ever heard from him, and it meant the world.
From that point forward, Harry's progress was slow but steady. He was able to ditch the wheelchair entirely and began to move around with the aid of a cane. It was hard, of course. His body was still weak, his balance shaky. But each day brought small victories, each victory a step closer to his goal.
Severus was there with him every step of the way, his stern demeanor a comforting constant in the tumultuous journey of recovery. He became an unlikely ally, a mentor, and, dare Harry say it, a friend. For all his snark and biting comments, Severus Snape had proven to be a steadfast support, a guiding light in the darkness of Harry's ordeal.
And Harry was eternally grateful for that. Despite their past animosities, they had found a common ground, a mutual understanding that transcended their previous roles. In his darkest hour, Harry found an unlikely friend. And Severus, for all his gruff exterior, found a new respect and fondness for the boy who lived.
Recovery was still a long road, but Harry was no longer afraid. of gratitude had not been a common occurrence between the two of them, and the sincerity in Harry's words caught Severus off guard. He left the room, a heaviness in his heart but also a renewed sense of purpose. This was a different kind of fight, not against dark magic or an evil wizard, but against time and physical limitations. But it was a fight he was ready to support Harry in, just as he'd vowed.