I am in a foul mood. Which is not something entirely earth shattering about me. I have been in foul mood for years. But this time I am in a foul mood even when most of what I thought I wanted has come to pass: I am redeemed in the eyes of the wizarding world. Nobody thinks of me as a dormant tumor in the Hogwarts staff. Nobody thinks I am a double faced untrustworthy greasy son of a bitch. Well. I don't know about the greasy part. I am not exactly obsessed about washing my hair all the time.
But I am in a foul mood. First off, I have moved out of the dungeons. Partly of my own accord, but mostly I was manipulated. I never said I wanted to be Poppy's replacement. I look around the infirmary. It's too sunny and cheerful to suit my mood, and lately it is far too crowded. I feel the only competent person here. Since most of the staff perished or was severely injured, I have been forced to take assistants from the students. I wish so badly Granger was alive. At least she would not expect me to tell her everything. I am stuck with Ron Weasley, who gets queasy even with the slightest indication of blood or vomit.
It is surreal how I long for Lupin's presence lately. He is very eager to help me when he is here, and he knows what he's doing, except when he's around Potter. He becomes completely useless when the skinny boy even so much as moans. He's afraid to touch him as if he's made of china. I can't find it in me to scowl at him, however. Something, that thankfully is definately not the case with Ronald Weasley.
It's so ironic. After Lupin eagerly spread the word about how Potter was salvaged by me, I can get away with so many things that otherwise would have been interpreted quite differently. However, with Albus missing, this newfound leniency towards my person is unimportant. I am not eager to test its limits, to scandalize my peers or even savour it as I once dreamt I would. All in all, I am much more... tolerant, at least. It is as if Albus is watching me, seeing what I will do now that he's not there to keep me in check. And I cannot disappoint him. It's frustrating, but inescapable.
I feel beyond tired, and I am working without actually thinking about what my hands are automatically doing. Brewing potions, casting some basic healing charms, wrapping bandages, and brewing even more potions. I am not sure when was the last time I slept. I don't complain though. If I sleep, chances are that nightmares will visit me, and I can do without that.
"P-professor Snape, sir?"
I shut my eyes, inhaling the fumes of the bone-setting potion.
"Harry has started to sweat. You told me to, uh, notify you."
"Obviously, Weasley. Come over here. Keep steering this clockwise. Don't stop until it turns light pink. If I return and find it orange, I will make you drink the cauldronful."
He nods quickly, and it's amusing that he is not angry at me, even though he believes I would act on my threat. I sincerely hope the batch doesn't turn orange. I hate the bone-setting potion fumes. But I instantly get inspired. I'll have Weasley brew it if he botches this one.
I make my way through the rows of beds. The injured are so many that St Mungo's couldn't possibly accomodate them all. The light cases have been transferred here. The serious ones - and they are many- that could not be served at St Mungo's have been transported to other big hospitals abroad, especially in France. Several cots have been charmed to hover above those on the ground, so that more people could be in the infirmary and I can hear them all. Which is not the best way I can spend my time, but here I am.
I can't help a wave of relief as I pass from one specific bed. Minerva is sleeping there. I thought her dead, but here she is recovering from several breaks and internal injuries. She had been my own teacher, and one I didn't particularly appreciate, but she is a strong and reliable one, as steadfast as Albus and Hogwarts needs her. She is also Head of Gryffindor, and she probably knows Harry much more than myself. I am glad she is alive.
Potter has broken sweat. That is good, but has to be controlled. I lift him up gently, slipping my hand underneath his back so that I will put pressure on his spine and not his ribs that are still healing. He sighs and his eyes crack open a little bit. I never thought that I would be so glad to see those reproachful green eyes again, but I am.
"Goodmorning Potter. Drink this and don't even think of talking."
My voice is again emotionless and cutting, but I have the distinct feeling it is somewhat different because it wakes Potter up some more and his eyes try to focus on me with a little surprise. He drinks the potion I give him and sighs as I know the comfort spreads through his body.
"S...irius?" he asks. I do hope he's asking me where he is and has not mistaken me for him. But I am not too certain about that.
"Quiet, Potter. I don't want you bleeding again." I say when I intended to ask him what part of 'don't talk' he didn't understand. He looks so fragile, and I know Black is dead and he probably does not. I can't manhandle him now.
Fortunately, Potter falls asleep. I expose his ribcage area again, and start rubbing another, paste like potion I had made two days ago, when he was still feverish and slightly delirious. It will hopefully ease his breathing and aid the healing process without too much magical interference through charms. Any method, however time consuming is preferable to a heart straining charm. His heartbeats are still a little irregular and far too many. I need to bring them down to normal, strong beats like a boy's in his late teens should be.
It's then that it first happens. I think I am going to cough, and so bring my hand over my mouth. Instead of air against my palm, I feel a sticky wetness. Blood. I quickly look around to see if anyone has noticed. Fortunately, Lupin is not here to smell the blood, Weasley is still stirring meticulously and everyone else is sleeping. I quickly wipe my hand and mouth. I cannot afford to become one of the sick, not when so many depend on me. I need to stay standing and healthy until at least Minerva and Potter are healthy. Minerva needs to be awake enough to run the school, and Potter just needs to be alive to give courage to those left standing after that dreadful battle. Hell, he needs to be alive to give some courage to -me-.
I walk to my stash of potions and choose a dark greenish one. The Panacaea. A degenerate version of the all-healing potion the Ancient Greek wizards had managed to brew. The original recipe was lost through the ages. This potion does not heal everything. It heals quite a few ailments, but not the serious ones. I am just buying myself time. Then I saunter towards Weasley to harass him.
"It's... not orange, sir."
I look at the cauldron full of bubbling liquid. Weasley has done well, but he doesn't have to know it.
"So I see, Weasley. Call Lupin, and be snappy."
The boy obediently runs off. He has grown tall like his older brothers. And far more serious and mature, I think. As most of the wizarding families, his has not escaped the toll of the war. But it has not been taxed as much as others. All the Weasley children are still alive. It is the father that passed on. I suppose that providence gives everyone the burden that they can carry, not the one that will break them. Or most of the times. I don't know if Potter can carry all that he will be called to carry pretty soon.
Lupin comes in, looking at me with slight fear that I am calling him because his protege is dying.
"Potter's fine, Lupin. Stop giving me that look." I snap at him and he breathes. I have the distinct feeling that he doesn't take into consideration my tone of voice as a rule.
"How can I help you, Severus?" he says.
"I need to go to Ollivander's. I don't have a wand. Stay here and make sure Weasley doesn't blow anything up. I should be back by noon."
Diagon Alley is far less crowded than it should have been, and there is a mixed atmosphere of joy and grieving, of partying and sorrow. But most of all, it feels clean. There is no darkness looming, unseen, over anyone. There is no fear. And that is a grand feeling. I cough some more blood into my handkerchief, but the potion is working and it's much less. Soon any blood spitting must stop until the effects wear off. I make my way to Ollivander's.
The old man is just as I remember him when I had walked into his shop for my first wand. He comes over and offers me a chair.
"Severus Snape. It's an honour." he says and turns to go fetch wands. I stand there slightly taken aback again. Nobody has ever told me that before. It almost makes me emotional. What a change from the cold or hostile or downright accusing stares I had been receiving ever since I was 15.
The feeling passes quickly though, because Ollivander treats me as a bloody first-year. I must have tried at least 20 damn wands with the rediculous Wingardium Leviosa. I just wanted a wand to myself and not a loan from Potter, especially when Potter is out cold. But no; I have to get an exact match. I have to lose 40 minutes of my time before Ollivander assents to sell me a 11-inch holly with dragon heartstring. I look at it. It is new and feels like the first snow in winter. No Unforgivables have been cast with this; it's a new start for me. My frustration evaporates.
"You have chosen a strong wand," Ollivander is telling me. "I believe you will use this one better than your former one."
I like what he tells me, and I nod my thanks to him. I feel I am walking with a different stride. Just like the air in Diagon Alley, I somehow feel cleansed myself.
Right. The Sequel's on, people! I wouldn't trust me to make this entirely.... painless. *very evil grin* So, tell me if you like this one as much as you did the intro. Any suggestions or indications welcome. I am writing this primarily for your amusement, since you asked me so vehemently, therefore... I am open. ;)