I Don't Want to be a Hero - Second Year

Chapter Twenty-Three


Severus Snape was in a private room where he lay upon a bed with a strange bladder hovering to the right of his head. The bladder breathed in and out to the rhythm of the wizard's chest. Over his face was a mask that was connected to the bladder.

At the threshold of the door Harry paused as his heart froze in his chest. What's wrong? It was just a cough, wasn't it?

Severus' head turned slightly on the pillow. He stretched out a hand to his son. "Harry." His voice was muffled by the mask.

At the sound of his name Harry rushed over to his father. He was about to throw himself on the wizard but Madame Pomfrey caught him, and settled him onto his feet.

"Careful, Harry, your father's chest is very weak at the moment.

Harry finally grasped the hand that Severus held out. "Dad? It was just a cough, dad. Why are you here?"

"I shall be all right, Harry." The wizard's eyes blinked heavily as he tried to stay awake.

Harry clutched his father's hand tightly. "No… dad… you gotta come back with me. Dad, you want to come back home with me, right?"

"Harry," Severus whispered through the mask. "I… promise… be all well… I shall be home with… you." Harry shook his head and wished he could crawl up beside his father. "I love… you… Harry."

"I love you, too, dad. Please… don't go… please," begged Harry.

"I promise… to… return…" Severus' eyes fluttered, and then they fell closed. To Harry's horror his father's hand went limp in his.

"Daddy! NO!" Harry cried.

Madame Pomfrey peeled Harry away from his father and nearly pushed him out of the room.

"Oh dear, now stop these tears, Harry," the Healer crouched down so she was eye level, and she wiped away at his tears with a large, soft, handkerchief. "Blow dear," she said as she held the linen up to his nose. Harry did so.

"What's wrong with my dad, Madame Pomfrey?" asked Harry as he sniffled back his tears.

"Lung cancer," said Madame Pomfrey. All the colour drained from Harry's face. "Cancer is rare in our world but it exists in the Muggle world, and Severus had a grandfather, and his father, who were all lost to the disease. Both his aunts also died of breast cancer."

"Am… am I going to lose my dad?" asked Harry in such a tiny, little voice the Healer was made aware of how young he was.

"No, dear, you won't," she smiled.

"What was that thing breathing over him, and why is he asleep?" asked Harry looking over his shoulder at the closed door to his father's room.

"First of all, the cancer severely damaged your father's lungs so we had to remove them. The bladder is a breathing bag that is charmed with fresh oxygen to breathe for your father." The Healer rose to her feet. "He is asleep because he will be given a series of potions to wipe out any other cancer in his system, and then a potion to grow new lungs. It is all painful and it will be easier on him if he is asleep."

"Will dad be okay tomorrow?" asked Harry as he allowed Madame Pomfrey to take his hand, and escort him back to a waiting room.

She shook her head. "No, dear. Cancer is tough to eradicate, even in our world, and therefore it must be dealt with both delicately, and thoroughly. Also, growing whole new organs in one's body is just a matter of waiting. Your father will be back with you by Christmas."

"In the meantime, Cissy and I will be your guardians, and we shall visit your father every weekend," said Lucius.

Harry looked up at the familiar voice, and saw that not only was Lucius and his wife Narcissa there in the waiting room, but Draco was there, too. Draco ran over to Harry and gave him a huge bear hug.

Harry breathed out a sigh of relief having the people he considered family around him. "I'm scared, Draco," gasped Harry.

"Me, too, Harry. Uncle Severus just is… forever! Come on." Draco drew Harry over to his mother. Narcissa took one of the young boy's hands into hers. "It's okay," smiled Draco as he saw Harry stiffen at his mother's touch. "My mother's going to be yours for awhile. She hugs nicely."

Narcissa smiled at her son. "Thank you, Dragon. Harry, dear child, would you like to come home with us tonight?"

"There is no class tomorrow," added Lucius. "We shall have you and Draco back in time for the Halloween Feast with all of your friends."

"Will dad be okay if we leave him?" asked Harry just as he yawned. "I'm really tired."

Lucius replied, "Severus will be fine, Harry. The Healers looking after him are the best, I can assure you, and they will take very good care of your father."

Harry breathed a sigh of relief, then sagged as another yawn racked his body.

Narcissa stood, and smoothed the bump of her belly. "That's decided, then." Draco escorted his mother from the waiting room. Lucius glanced down at Harry who looked undecided yet forlorn. He held out his hand. "Come along, Harry. The cottage elves make a delicious chicken pot pie."

Harry smiled at Lucius, took his hand, and then walked out of the waiting room. Right before they turned the corner for the Floo in reception Harry glanced over his shoulder towards his father's room.

"G'night, dad."

a/n: I know this was a terribly short chapter but there was only so much of this emotion I could write. I lost my own father to a combination of Lung cancer, pneumonia, and kidney failure. That was over 20 years ago. Even today I still miss him, and I remember the day he would never be able to breathe just right.

My dad smoked - at least 5 cigarettes a day, sometimes more. He smoked from the time he was eleven until his very last year at 54. Cigarettes DID destroy his lungs, but he was also an alcoholic, and allergic to nearly everything around him. This sort of widespread allergy is rare. What was my dad NOT allergic to? Tobacco, nicotine, and alcohol.

If you smoke, please consider stopping. I will not come and preach the gospel of no smoking to you but I do hope you will quit.

We're all Muggles, you see. We don't have the treatment Severus Snape is getting.