Summary: After Voldemort's downfall, fifteen year old Harry and Draco are kidnapped and tortured for three weeks by vengeful Death Eaters. After their rescue they are taken in by their potions' professor. As Draco struggles with the trauma as well as his parents' betrayal and Harry is haunted by past abuse in addition to the torture, will Severus be able to help?
Rated T but could be an M for violence in the flashbacks
Warnings: Torture, abuse, flashbacks (other warnings in later chapters)
Severus was in Dumbledore's office when the news arrived. He was sipping at his tea, both of them sitting in weary silence. Neither of them knew exactly what to say- they had both failed miserably. He knew by now that both Lily's son and his godson were surely dead. It had been a month- there would have been no reason for the Death Eaters to keep them alive for this long. He didn't want them to end up like the Granger girl, who had been killed brutally right before the kidnapping. Severus had been about to voice his concerns when the door to the study burst open, revealing a very breathless Remus Lupin. "They found them," he gasped.
Both men were up in an instant. Severus followed after the headmaster, who was striding purposefully out the door. The brisk walk to the hospital wing seemed to take ages, with Severus going over every terrible scenario in his head. The boys could be seriously injured; even insane. He suspected that they had been tortured- that was the only reason they would still be alive after they were kidnapped by the Death Eaters.
All thoughts vanished from his mind as the doors to the hospital wing came into sight. When Potter and Draco had been kidnapped, Severus had blamed himself. He had given up his role as a spy too soon after the battle. All he needed to know was that the boys were all right- then he would know that he had done his job. Well, maybe he did care a bit about their well-being…
Dumbledore halted right before the infirmary entrance, taking a deep breath to steady himself, before swinging open the doors and walking hesitantly inside. The first thing that hit Severus was the smell. The stench of blood, urine, and sweat filled his nose. They were lucky all the students had gone home for the summer, because the scene in front of them was graphic.
Severus could only see Draco- Potter must have been on the other side of the curtain that was hanging next to the bed- but what he observed made his stomach drop. The boy's white-blonde hair was caked with blood and dirt, and his body was a mess of mangled, torn flesh. Madam Pomfrey was attempting to clean him up with her wand while another healer was preparing a blood-replenishing potion. Luckily he was unconscious; he would undoubtedly be putting up a fight if he was awake.
Dumbledore immediately swept to the opposite side of the curtain, while Severus busied himself trying to help with Draco. Stay calm, he ordered himself. Being frantic will hurt him more than it will help. He sighed with relief when Madam Pomfrey informed him that neither boy was in immediate danger, then mentally chastised himself. You shouldn't care this much about them, Severus. People you care about will only be used against you in the end. But the war is over, another voice argued. He shook his head to clear it and continued working, trying to ignore his emotions.
He had lost track of time, but a while later he finally collapsed in a chair, having done everything he could for his godson. The skin had been repaired, leaving only shallow wounds and bruises. He smiled slightly. The boys were alive. Damaged, certainly, but… alive. He quickly schooled his expression back to a neutral look before rising and silently slipping to the other side of the curtain to check on Harry's condition. There were several healers quietly bustling around the bed, so he could not see the boy's body, but his eyes were immediately drawn to Albus, who was sitting next to Harry's bed and looking at the child grimly.
"Albus? What's happened?" he murmured, not wanting to disturb the stillness of the room.
There was a moment's silence, then Dumbledore finally looked up at him. "We should head to my office," he said. "We can talk there."
Severus got up and followed him back up the staircase to his study, where he took the seat across from the desk. He looked back at Albus expectantly.
Dumbledore sighed wearily. "A few members of the Order interrogated the Death Eaters that were captured and explained to me what transpired in these past few weeks for Harry and Draco. They were apparently kept in the dungeons of the Death Eaters' headquarters, where they were tortured by Walden Macnair, Lucius Malfoy, and many other survivors of the battle." Severus let out an angry exclamation, but Dumbledore silenced him with a raised hand. "I suspect that the purpose for this was to avenge the Dark Lord, since both Harry and Draco worked in some way to bring him down. And I think it is safe to assume that these events have been very traumatic for both Harry and Draco. Which… is where you come in, Severus."
Severus's eyes snapped up to meet the headmaster's. "Excuse me?" he said.
Dumbledore leaned back in his chair thoughtfully. "Severus, the war has changed all of us. Including you." Seeing Severus's impassive face, he continued. "I know you have a bit of a past with Harry, and I know that you are not going to be eager to carry out the proposal I am about to give." Severus raised an eyebrow, knowing that this conversation was not going to have a happy ending for him. Though he and Potter had become more civil to each other during the war, he was still not particularly fond of the boy. "When the ministry gets wind of this, they will want to put the boys in St Mungo's. I think it would be best that after Harry and Draco wake up, they are transported to a safe, stable household for a period of time in order to recover."
Severus, seeing where he was going, jumped up. "Absolutely not!" Sure, he was happy that the boys were alive, and he had felt guilty when he thought they had been killed, but that did not mean that he was willing to be their guardian, or therapist, or whatever they needed.
As if he hadn't heard the outburst, Dumbledore went on. "This would be a temporary arrangement, should that be your desire, Severus. I'm asking you this only because I have no other options. I think it would be best for the boys… and I think it would be beneficial to you also."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Severus said, nearly shouting out of desperation now. When he didn't get a reaction, he sunk back into his chair, running a hand down his face. "Why me?"
"Because I think you have the best chance of getting through to them. You have had similar experiences-"
"Like what?" he cried, his voice raising again.
"You, too, have been tortured by Voldemort, Severus. And don't forget about your father."
"What my father did has nothing to do with this!"
"Severus, please. I don't know what else to do for them. I think you are trying to deny the fact that you actually care about them."
Severus shook his head sadly, knowing that he didn't really have a choice. "I don't know what I'm supposed to do, Albus. I have no idea how to help them."
"None of us do," Dumbledore said with a sigh. "We won't know anything until they wake up, but we can only hope they will be able to heal."