Potter felt dangerously light in his arms as Severus stepped through the floo into the hospital wing. He saw Poppy next to Potter’s usual bed and rushed over to her. Gently, he placed the boy down on the bed and handed his diagnostic scroll over to Poppy. “He’s hypotensive with a pneumothorax and lacerated spleen causing internal bleeding. I cast thorektimia to reinflate the lung and gave him a blood replenisher before bringing him here.” Poppy nodded as she scanned the diagnostic Severus had run, her expression darkening the more she read. When she reached the end, she cast her own more extensive diagnostic charms.
“Thank you, Severus, the pneumothorax is stable so we’ll just monitor it. I’ll set to work on the spleen. He’s severely anemic and thrombocytopenic, can you get me a clotting potion and blood replenisher?” Severus nodded and headed to the supply closet. He had never been more grateful that he had to take basic medical courses at St. Mungo’s for his Potions Mastery. At the time he grumbled about it and hated working with patients. After 13 years of teaching, however, he understood that accidents were ubiquitous in a potions laboratory and required training to properly respond. He took the requested potions back to Poppy. The need for the clotting potion indicated how dire the situation was; it was regularly in short supply due to the rare ingredients and lengthy brewing time. Luckily, he restocked it earlier this week.
He placed the potions on the metal tray next to her and stayed close in case she needed his aid. “It seems he had a few broken ribs which can account for both the pneumothorax and the laceration. The breaks are old, but they must’ve shifted at some point hitting both his lung and spleen.” At her words he heard a gasp from behind his shoulder and turned around to see Draco standing there, his breathing quickening.
“Draco, what’s wrong?” Severus asked, placing his hand on Draco’s shoulder and leaning down to look at him. “Do you know something about this?”
Draco gulped, his wide eyes on Harry. Severus stepped in front of him blocking his view and waved his wand to close the curtain. Draco slowly nodded, “I th-think, I think I did this.” His voice wavered and fear leeched into his eyes as he looked up at his Godfather.
Severus took a deep breath to control his temper. “Why do you think that?”
“Yesterday on the Express, I bumped into him and then Crabbe sent a hex at his back.” Draco wouldn’t meet Severus’s eyes and he started breathing rapidly, working himself into a panic attack.
“Draco…Draco,” Severus shook him slightly trying to get his attention, he needed to help Poppy and a hyperventilating teenager who thought he was to blame was the last thing he needed. “These injuries only happened about an hour ago, it wasn’t your fault.”
Draco looked up at those words, “Parkinson. It was Parkinson, she tripped him in the hallway, that’s why he had his wand out.”
Severus closed his eyes, knowing that he would need to deal with Parkinson later. “Thank you for telling me. Can you go inform Professor McGonagall of what has conspired and tell her that her presence is requested in the infirmary?” Draco nodded once before running off, letting the heavy double doors of the Hospital Wing slam shut behind him. Severus turned around and opened the curtains to check on Poppy. She had an intense look of concentration on her face entirely focused on the boy in front of her as she waved her wand in complex motions, lowly muttering a string of Latin.
“Bloody hell,” she cursed as her arm stilled. She looked up at Snape, dread marring her features as she wiped the sweat from her brow. “I tried resealing the splenic capsule and parenchyma, but it didn’t work, we’ll have to remove it.”
“Fuck,” Snape cursed. “Can we transfer him to St. Mungo’s?” Removal of an organ wasn’t as massive a procedure in the wizarding world as it was in the muggle, but it still required an incision in a sterile environment and at least two healers. Snape was the only other person at the school with any form of medical training, but he’d never done anything this skilled before.
Madam Pomfrey shook her head, “He’s not stable enough; another floo trip could be disastrous.”
“Very well. Tell me what you need me to do.”
She quickly set to work, wasting no time in clearing the area around Potter’s bed. “Can you summon my sterile equipment bag from my office while I sanitize the area?” Snape nodded and did so as the doors burst open and he heard the click of Minerva’s heels as she made her way across the room to them.
“Mr. Malfoy has informed me that there has been an incident involving…Oh my,” she gasped as she finally reached them, her eyes filling with tears as she took in Harry’s state. “What happened?”
“We’ll discuss that later,” Snape replied as drapes began unfolding themselves at Poppy’s direction and tools flew out of her bag to arrange themselves on a metal tray. “Can you inform the mutt?”
“Tell the Headmaster. Severus I’m all set, go scrub your hands and put a gown and gloves on.”
He nodded while still looking at Minerva, “Do not tell Albus.”
“Severus,” Poppy started, “I must insist..”
“No,” Snape cut her off with a snarl. “He cannot know, we need time to come up with a plan.” His voice left no room for debate and Minerva nodded along.
“I agree, Poppy,” she stated at the nurse’s bewildered expression. “I’m assuming his relatives did this?” Her colleagues both nodded, having come to that assumption even though they did not have confirmation from Harry as of yet. “Albus is the reason he was there. I tried to warn him that they were the worst sort of muggles, but did he listen to me? Luckily, he is in London meeting with Fudge about the tournament, so we have some time to form a plan on how to get Potter out from under his control. I’ll go inform Sirius and ask Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger if they noticed anything.”
Severus and Poppy didn’t wait to see her leave to get to work. “What do you need me to do Poppy?” Severus asked, feeling very out of his depth, but refusing to show any anxiety.
“I’m going to make a seven-centimeter midline anterior incision. What I’m going to need you to do is retract the stomach for me while I cauterize the splenic artery and vein and free the ligaments. It’s going to be quite bloody, so after I open his abdomen, prepare a suction charm. I’ll need a clean visual field to work.” Snape nodded and watched as she took a blade and made the first incision, following her instructions he rapidly fired a suction charm to help remove the free blood. “Now I’m going to position the retractor, pull the stomach back so I don’t accidentally slice it while removing the ligaments surrounding the spleen. The last thing we need is a gastric leak.” Snape did as she said and pulled back on the retractor, pulling the stomach up toward the liver. After about ten minutes his arms started to ache; he was alarmed by the amount of force this task required. Thirty minutes later, Poppy was finally finished and pulled the spleen out after cauterizing the splenic artery. Snape cast one last suction charm to remove any lingering blood filling the abdominal cavity and Poppy enchanted a needle to suture the incision closed.
They both sat down for a moment, catching their breaths, while Poppy reassessed Potter’s vitals. “He’s stable. His hemoglobin is increasing, but he could still use another blood replenisher.” Snape spelled one into his stomach while Poppy reread the diagnostic, triaging what to fix next. “We’ll need to fix those ribs, so they don’t further aggravate any injuries and then we can get to work healing all his bruises and the lashes on his back.”
They both set to work, Poppy healing his ribs while Severus started to apply bruise paste to his arms. They’d only been working for about 10 minutes when the doors burst open yet again and Black ran in screaming Harry’s name.
“What the hell did you do to him, Snivellus? He hasn’t even been back to school a day and you’ve already almost killed him? God, Harry,” Black sobbed, kneeling next to the bed.
“What did I do? I just spent hours saving his life, mutt. You’re an even bigger fucking imbecile than I thought if you actually believe that I would do this. He may be a conceited brat with zero respect for the rules or authority like his father, but I would never lay hands on a student, no matter how aggravating they are.”
Sirius stood up, a retort on his lips when Poppy cast a silencing charm on both of them. “Enough! This is an infirmary and I have a very sick patient here who needs rest. Sirius, if it weren’t for Severus, you would be burying this child, so you’d better get on your knees and thank him for saving Harry’s life. If you are able to sit quietly and keep out of the way you’re welcome to stay. If not, leave.” Remus had entered halfway through her lecture and stood behind Sirius.
“Maybe we should let them work and take a walk around the lake, clear our minds,” he suggested, placing an arm around the animagus’s shoulder.
“I can’t-I-I can’t leave him. Remy, I..” Sirius’s voice clogged with unshed tears unable to speak anymore. He latched onto his mate, burying his face in Remus’s shoulder.
“Shhh,” Remus calmed him, “I know. He’s our pup, and we only just got him back, but he’s going to be fine. We’ll help him get through this.” Remus turned to Severus and Poppy, “Thank you so much for saving his life, we are indebted to you.” Severus gave a single nod of his head in acknowledgment as Remus ushered Sirius out the door.
“Thank you, Poppy,” Snape said quietly as he went back to work applying bruise paste to their patient.
“No need, Severus,” she replied, not looking up from her work. “I meant what I said, if it weren’t for you Harry would be dead, you saved his life. Now let’s get back to work. It’s going to be a long night.”
An hour later they finally finished up healing the last of the lashes on the boy's back when Minerva entered with Sirius and Remus at her heels. “How is he?”
“He’ll be fine,” Poppy answered, “Physically, at least. He’ll have no lasting injuries, only a few scars, but it would seem that he is used to that.” Black let out a sob at her words as he grasped Harry’s hand and carded his fingers through his unruly black curls.
“I ran a full historical diagnostic on him. I was just about to read through it if you would like to take a look as well.” Poppy headed in the direction of her office, Severus and Minerva following her to leave the couple a chance alone with their godson. With a flick of her wand, the nurse made two copies of the report and handed it to the two professors. As they read, they became increasingly distressed. Minerva and Poppy both started crying, reading all of the injuries he had amassed over the years, while Snape felt like he was going to vomit. It turned out Potter wasn’t a pampered prince, after all, just a broken abused boy in need of help. This history certainly explained his unwillingness to trust adults, Severus knew that feeling all too well. He had arrived at Hogwarts similar to Harry, with bruises from his father’s fists, and there was not a single professor he trusted enough to confide in during his seven years at Hogwarts. The only one who knew was Lily, but he swore her to secrecy and kept the extent of his father’s abuse even from her. His mind drifted to those bright green eyes, Lily’s eyes. They were filled with so much contempt and hatred earlier today as Severus goaded Potter, claiming his family waited on him hand and foot. His words could not be any further from reality.
Severus dropped his head in his hands unable to finish reading through the entire report. It painted a ghastly picture, a lifetime of starvation, burns, concussions, broken bones that went untreated, and whippings with a belt. And all this time, Severus mocked him and called him spoiled. He’d never felt more like a dungeon bat as the dunderheads called him than at that moment. Yes, part of his persona was for the role he had to play as a spy in Dumbledore’s war, but not when it came to Potter. He truly loathed Harry, seeing only his childhood bully in the child and none of his childhood friend. But, as it turned out, he was wrong. Harry was far more similar to himself than to James, and Snape had missed all the signs. He looked up from his hands and was about to read the rest of the report when he heard Poppy make a sound of confusion.
“What’s this? That hardly makes sense.” Snape looked down to figure out what she was referring to when he saw it at the very bottom of the list.
Age: 6 months. Altered appearance via a glamour spell
Minerva let out a gasp of shock, “But why on earth would anyone need to change his appearance, I would assume it was Lily and James, he was only 6 months after all.” Severus and Poppy only shook their heads in response just as confused.
Poppy let out a sigh, “I suppose that will be an issue for tomorrow, we have more pressing matters at hand: Albus Dumbledore.” Minerva’s lips thinned at the mention of his name and Snape’s expression turned sour. “From your reaction earlier, I stand to reason that Albus knew about the abuse the entire time?”
“I doubt he knew about the extent of it,” Snape looked petulant at Minerva’s words, clearly disagreeing with her assessment. “He did know, however, that Harry was mistreated. A squib, Arabella Fig, lived across the street from the Dursleys at Albus’s request and would watch Harry from time to time. She sent word that she was concerned about how Harry was and that he was always covered in bruises. I went to check on Harry in my animagus form and was shocked to see him working outside in the hot sun all day long doing yard work. He was a tiny little thing, eight at the time, but he looked no more than five. He was weeding the garden when his cousin came over and taunted him before kicking up the rose bush he had just planted. Harry said nothing, did nothing to get his cousin to stop, and just took the abuse even when his cousin started punching him. I finally stepped in and cast a stinging jinx at Dudley to make him stop. I-” she broke off with a sob. Severus handed her one of the handkerchiefs he always carried. She gave a murmur of thanks and took a moment to compose herself before continuing, “I should have done more, checked on him more often. I told Albus about what I saw, but he just brushed it off, saying that he had a high metabolism like his father and his mother's petite stature, or that's how cousins play ‘boys will be boys after all’.”
“By the time he arrived at Hogwarts, he was so happy to be here and captivated by the magic. He made friends and fit in easily,” at that she stealthily glanced at Severus, comparing the two abused boys. One was an athlete and popular and the other was the exact opposite, a misfit who was bullied. “I thought Albus was right. Clearly, I was wrong, that’ll be the last time I doubt my own instincts in favor of that meddling old fool.” Her words were stepped with wrath and for a moment Severus pitied Albus for getting on her wrong side. Then he remembered exactly why she was mad and any empathy for the Headmaster vanished.
“We all missed it,” Poppy comforted her. “I should’ve run a full diagnostic from day one, I should do it on all students. But, it’s been done, we can only learn from our mistakes going forward, so how will we fix this? Clearly, we can’t inform Albus.”
“No,” Snape stated firmly. “We cannot tell Albus. He’ll insist that the blood wards are needed for Potter’s protection. No, instead we’ll go straight to the Aurors. Once a complaint has been made and we’ve shown them the evidence even Albus can’t dissuade them from pursuing an investigation.”
“Any particular Aurors you had in mind?” Poppy asked, clearly Severus had already used his Slytherin cunning to develop a plan.
“Kingsley Steele,” Severus knew him from the order and knew that he would be able to stand up to Dumbledore. “I can contact him.”
“Thank you, Severus. Tell him I can provide him with more medical information.” Poppy gave him a small smile in appreciation. The three lapsed into silence, sitting with the weight of what they had learned that evening.
Minerva was the first to speak, “As I see it there’s only one more major thing to handle.” Her colleagues looked at her curiously, “Who wants to inform Sirius that his godson was horribly abused?”