The ignorant awakes
Severus Snape woke up feeling as if a dragon had decided to use him as a chewing toy and had complied in doing so. His whole body felt stiff, as if thousands of ants had decided to walk on it. His eyelids flickered to the sun and the horrible stench of the Hospital Wing invaded his nostrils. His temples throbbed and when he touched them he discovered his head was bandaged all around. It was then that he noticed that he was not alone. The silver head on Albus Dumbledore lay on the edge on his bed, as the old man slept on the chair next to him. It seemed that the Headmaster found it more comfortable to half-sit and half-lie on the bed rather than sleep only on his seat. It was at this moment that Snape realised how thirsty he felt.
He looked at the table near his bed but to his disappointment the jar and glasses of water were not there; but they rather rested on the table opposite his bed. Snape let out a faint groan and then moved the Headmaster's hand, which was currently residing on his belly. He tried to move really slowly, hoping that he would not wake the old wizard, but a terrible pain spread down his back and he let out a yelp.
Albus Dumbledore, shot up startled. He looked at Severus intensely for some seconds, an action that caused the young wizard some discomfort.
"Headmaster…" Snape said hoarsely.
Dumbledore arose abruptly, much to Snape's surprise and rushed to the closed door near the man's bed. He opened it and looked inside.
"Poppy, he has awakened!" he announced quickly.
Madam Pomfrey entered the room without delay, approached Snape's bed and grabbed the Potion Master's hand.
"Poppy…" Snape said hoarsely, trying to think, as his temples throbbed painfully.
Madam Pomfrey gave an impatient 'shush' and raised her wand, flashing a blue beam. She saw the number that appeared for some seconds, and then grabbed the man's bandaged chin.
"Open your mouth please," she ordered.
Snape opened his mouth as much as he could and Poppy flashed her wand, gazed at the man's larynx carefully and then stared at the Headmaster in amazement.
"He's healthier as ever," she announced seriously.
"Are you sure?"
"Absolutely sure, Headmaster."
"Headmaster…" Snape said hoarsely.
"No signs of fever?"
"Fever?" Snape asked.
"None. This man's health system will never seize to amaze me."
"Perfect, I am amazed."
"Headmaster," Snape insisted weakly."
"However the case, he will remain here for another four days, I esteem." Poppy explained.
"Shall I contact Minerva?"
"Headmaster!" Snape said as loudly as he could, and in much impatience. Both the Healer and Dumbledore turned to see him, "A glass of water if you please."
"Certainly," Dumbledore answered and filled a goblet with water.
Snape sat up cautiously, growling slightly when Madam Pomfrey attempted to help him and drank the water with little slow gulps. He remained quiet for a second, discomfort drawn on his features. He finally drew a big breath.
"What happened to Harry? For how long am I here?" he asked softly. He wiped his palms under the bed covers and, secretly, wondered why he felt so anxious inside his chest.
"Severus, first things first. You have been in a coma for a week," Dumbledore said softly.
"A week?" Severus shot up, something that caused him much pain, "The exams – my students – What happened to my students?"
"Severus, all due to their time," Dumbledore said softly, yet pushing the man with his hand back to restrain him.
Snape stopped rambling and looked at the Headmaster in embarrassment. He regained his composure fairly quickly, nevertheless, and asked calmly.
"What happened after I passed out that evening?"
"I think," Dumbledore started, "I should tell – No I think it is better you see it with your own eyes," the headmaster said with a faint twinkle and produced his pensive, an action that reminded Snape of someone that was anticipating the moment he would be asked. Dumbledore took out a small vial that held a silvery substance he knew well and poured it into the Pensieve. Touching Snape's shoulder gently, he touched the tip of the silver liquid with his wand.
Beginning of memory
Snape was half-lying on the bed, watching the Hospital Wing. The room was empty, the beds were all made up with clean sheets and Poppy was checking her medical cabinets. Suddenly the door burst open and there was Minerva McGonagall. She was red in the face, her breadth was unstable as if she had climbed five floor running and her hair were loose from their bun, something that seemed very peculiar to Snape.
"Poppy – Severus – He… is … hurt," she breathed out.
Madam Pomfrey stared back at McGonagall in pure disbelief. The idea of Severus Snape getting injured, in the level the Transfiguration professor's behaviour implied, seemed totally unrealistic.
"What?" was her response "How?"
"Severus – A Death Eater – he attacked Harry and Severus tried to stop him – I don't know, I just don't know," McGonagall said quickly and in so much loss that made Madam Pomfrey seize her by the shoulders and shake her.
"I don't know. Remus and – and Alastor are going to carry him from Hogsmeade as quickly as they can. They send me an owl for Dumbledore – I talked to him - Fifteen minutes perhaps?"
Poppy rushed to her drawers, taking out bowls, goblets, potions, sponges and many bottles of herbs. It seemed to Snape, the watcher, that everything went to speed motion until the Hospital Wing opened abruptly and he saw Lupin and Moody entering quickly, with him levitated horizontally at the tip of their wands.
Snape was placed on a bed quickly. Madam Pomfrey froze. He was covered in blood, his face matted and bloody and his hair was tangled and pasted on his head from what later proved to be a mixture of sweat, blood and mud. Madam Pomfrey took a deep breadth and leaned over the unconscious man. She touched his black robes and winced as she felt the ribs move with an unheard 'crack'. The robes were moist and she tried to unbutton them, to find out that her hands were slightly trembling. Losing her patience in the second button, she took her wand and severed the robes and shirt, undressing the man, giving the clothes to no one in particular.
For a second, Madam Pomfrey thought she would faint. In all her years as a Healer she had cured welts the size of galleons, regrown bones and healed boils caused by dragon burns, but she had never seen such a state of damage in a human being before. His ribs were broken, she could picture the bones broken and tangled together under the skin, while the skin itself was taking a nasty yellowish colour. Suddenly Poppy realised that the room was not quiet but it was filled with voices, some loud, some sobbing, some eager and some soothing.
"Silence!" she ordered slowly and silence spread in the room like a wet blanket that made her feel as if she was suffocating, "I don't need all this racketing in here. All of you get out! No, Lupin and Tonks," she eyed Tonks that had entered the room, "stay here I will need some help."
The room emptied with a soft murmur and nods. At last Madam Pomfrey was alone with the body of Severus Snape and two anxious helpers. On that moment of silence in the empty room, Madam Pomfrey found herself wanting to cry from desperation, since at that moment the burden of healing that man seemed unbearable. She controlled herself, nevertheless, and took out her wand.
Water poured out of her wand and cleaned the body throughout, before she would dry it magically. She became calculating then, seeing what needed to be healed magically and where muggle healing should applied. She run to her office and searched her drawers frantically for a vial that Severus had given her. It was supposed to contain a potion that would heal broken bones quicker whether taken by mouth or applied to wound. She had meant to use it to smaller bone damages but, ironically, that was the first case she needed it. She got out, she saw the body and she immediately knew that the potion had to be applied on the wounds. That would be slightly difficult.
"For how long has he been unconscious?"
Lupin looked at her, then turned around and stared at the clock in the wall. He closed his yes, opened them and spoke.
"I would say approximately fifty-five minutes."
Madam Pomfrey closed her eyes and exhaled. She rubbed her forehead as if there was something troubling her.
"I think it is essential for you to know what you ought to do and what needs to be done," she said with a tone that foreshadowed that the next hours would be tiring. "Severus created a potion that heals broken bones much quicker and can be both applied and taken by mouth. Severus is in no condition to drink the potion; therefore I will open small slits on the broken areas; put the bone to its place and then apply the potion on it. I will bandage him quickly and we can all hope it will work."
Both Tonks and Lupin looked at her, slightly pale, and nodded.
"Now your purpose in this room. Remus, I need Severus to be conscious during the process. I will wake him up and I need you to keep him awake. I will numb him, so he won't feel pain. He will probably not remember your conversations when he awakes. Tonks, I need you to conjure fresh water and sponges with which you will clean the wounds from extra blood."
The man and the woman nodded in uncertainty and stared at the body. Lupin was sceptic. It seemed impossible to him that the man would wake up and he, Lupin, would be able to keep him awake. Madam Pomfrey stared at Snape for a second, drew long breadth, raised her hand and slapped the unconscious wizard so hard across the face that made every watcher, Snape and Dumbledore included, wince.
Severus Snape's eyes flickered open, and Madam Pomfrey murmured the spell to numb him. His eyes were glassy, he blinked and he growled softly before closing them.
"Severus," Lupin spoke hastily, fearing the man would fall asleep again, "Severus."
"What do you want?" Severus grumbled groggily, "I want to sleep."
Lupin watched as the wounded man drifted to sleep, so he seized him by the arm and shook him. Snape's eyes opened.
"What?" he grumped in annoyance.
"I need to talk to you," Lupin said in uncertainty.
"Can't it wait until later?" Snape whispered, drifting out. Lupin shook him, "You torture me when awake. Is it necessary to torture me in my sleep as well?" Snape whimpered,
"Yes it is," Lupin answered swiftly, "It is really important."
Snape snorted groggily and stared at the ceiling with an empty stare, "Ok, I am listening."
"Umm, what I want to say is – um"
"Lupin get to the point," Snape snapped groggily.
"Umm- Severus I am really jealous of you," Lupin blurted out.
"WHAT?" Snape, the watcher cried out in unison with his injured self.
End of memory
The memory started dissolving quickly, the place shrivelled and a second later he was outside the Pensieve in the Hospital Wing.
"Hey, I was watching that!" he shouted in annoyance.
Then, realising what he said he frowned; and turned his head away from the Headmaster. At that second the Hospital Wing opened and the aroma of hot tasty chicken soup hit Snape's nostrils. His stomach let out a loud growl that he suspected was heard up to Hogsmeade and he let out a moan as he saw the bowl with the hot thick soup left on the table opposite his bed. Madam Pomfrey went near him and carefully cut the bandages and removed them from his face. He opened his mouth slowly, causing his jaw to crack as he did so. He touched his cheek wondering on how he must look unshaved. A small bed-table was conjured on his bed and the bowl was placed in front of him, along with a plate of crackers.
He ate the first bowl of soup silently, gulping, dipping the crackers and munching. He asked for more and he kept eating focused for a moment.
"Then what happened?" he asked between his gulps, not caring much into following the rules of propriety, "What happened after whatever Poppy did to me?"
"You went into a coma. Just like that," Madam Pomfey said, "I was not worried about it. There are many cases of wizards that fall to a small coma. The body takes charge of everything, food, water and the patient sleeps until all magic is replenished and all damage is healed. What worried me was that twenty-four hours later you developed a high fever. You body was fighting hard and your fever was causing further damage. I could give you nothing for the fever."
Snape gulped down and looked at Dumbledore who was watching him eating, while drinking some hot tea.
"What happened to your eye Headmaster?" he asked suddenly realising that the old wizard's right eye was purplish black.
"Umm last night," started Dumbledore smiling, "your temperature got really high and it seems you were hallucinating. Madam Pomfrey called me to help her restrain you and at a point you punched me straight into the eye."
Snape's cheeks painted red.
"I am sorry Headmaster," he said uncomfortably as Madam Pomfrey got out of the Hospital Wing.
"Don't worry Severus," he said patting his shoulder, "Between you and I, I deserved a good punch lately."
Severus restrained from letting his jaw fall by taking a few more gulps from his soup.
"I was horrible. I put the future of an institution much higher than human lives and I will never forgive myself. I did that, almost repeating the mistake I did in the past with you, Severus, I am terribly sorry for what I said to you in my office," the old wizard said slowly bowing his head. "If I hadn't done that you wouldn't be in that position right now."
"You should not blame yourself of what happened to me Headmaster," Snape said seriously, still gulping down his soup, "I acted hard-headed and would not talk to you. Ah you can not un-boil a boiled newt's eye! So what are you going to do about my Slytherins?"
"They will remain hidden in Hogwarts. It was something Harry told me that gave me the solution?"
"Harry. Harry?" he remembered abruptly. "What happened to Potter?"
"We aged him to sixteen of course, after we calmed him down and assured him of your welfare, and we send him back - Minerva, Filius, Alastor and I – by performing a Chorochronos spell. The reason we did this is for not having all those memories erupt in his head immediately. There was the possibility of this crazing him."
The old wizard fell silent in order to allow the man to digest what he had heard. Snape filled his third bowl of soup and ate quietly.
"As you are aware Severus, a person sent back with the Chorochronos spell must not meet his or her self as it will cause severe damage to the time continuum. Therefore Harry was hidden away to avoid any contact with you and his younger self."
Snape felt lightheaded. He wanted to ask many questions but he felt so exhausted, as if he had run a very long tiring race. He was stifling a yawn when Madam Pomfrey entered the room and announced that the Headmaster had to leave. Dumbledore rose slowly and said that he was going to pass by in the afternoon. As the door closed, Snape closed his eyelids and fell into deep sleep.
Later that same day Albus Dumbledore walked into the Hospital Wing to meet a very strange sight. Severus Snape was sitting up holding the bed sheet up his torso with all his might while Poppy Pomfrey was trying to take it away from him. Dumbledore stopped dead to his trucks in uncertainty, staring at the scene before him.
"Headmaster can you put some sense in this man head?" Madam Pomfrey said in exasperation turning to look at him.
"She wants to see me naked!" Snape shouted immediately - a blush spread across his face - making the old wizard gulp down the lemon drop he was sucking.
"Oh, don't think I am doing it out of pleasure Severus Snape," Madam Pomfrey huffed in annoyance, "You had been out for an entire week and you need a good wash. I am the only one in this place that is capable in doing so."
Both the wizard and the Healer turned to see Dumbledore, each waiting for his aid. Dumbledore, of course, took the wisest decision. He turned to his heels and left, closing the door behind him. Madam Pomfrey let out a snort and turned to look at the Potion Master with a dangerous look.
"Snape," she whispered dangerously, "if you don't put that bed sheet down this now, I will Petrificus Totalus you and have my way with you."
Snape gazed at the Healer for a moment, let out a sigh of defeat and let the bed sheet drop.
A sponge bath and a clean set of underwear later, Snape had his hair combed by the Madam Pomfrey. Though he would not admit it out loud, the sponge bath and the combing of his hair made him feel completely relaxed.
"So what happened to Jackomo?" he asked softly.
"Jackomo, the Death Eater that attacked me."
Snape felt the Healer's hand stop.
"Oh that monstrous man," she mumbled angrily, "Well he was brought to Dumbledore's office. I must tell you, we had never seen Dumbledore so angry in all the time he is in Hogwarts. Even Fawkes took leave when he saw him entering the office and this must be saying something. Anyway from what I know that dreadful man was sent to Azkaban with a huge chunk of his memory erased."
Snape stifled a yawn as the Healer let him lye back and covered him with the bed sheet and the blanket.
"Oh on another tone," Madam Pomfrey said, "Harry Potter passed by while you were asleep and asked me if he could visit you tomorrow afternoon. I said it was alright," she concluded and closed the door behind her.
Snape remained looking at the ceiling.
"Oh great, now I am unable to sleep," he finally exclaimed with a snort.
It was almost tea time. Snape, who was staring at the clock on the wall for the entire day, tried to hide his fixation by looking outside the window. And then the door was knocked.
Snape looked at the door for a few seconds, rubbed his palms on his bed sheets and asked from his visitor to enter. Young Harry Potter, currently at almost seventeen years of age, entered the room slowly. Snape was amazed to notice that the boy looked the same and yet entirely different. He seemed healthier and a bit stronger. The boy sat down and silence fell between them. A tray of tea with biscuits appeared seconds later.
"I am sorry professor," Harry blurted out suddenly, causing Snape to almost spit out his tea. The man looked at the teenager. "I felt so confused as I remembered what was happening during the year. Agh I put you in so much trouble."
"I must admit," Snape said slowly, "that I wasn't fair to you. I held my grudges and gave you such a hard time since you started attending Hogwarts. No wonder you hate me. I am such a bitter idiot."
"No you aren't" Harry protested, "I never saw things as you did. Not even after I looked at your Pensive. I am so sorry I did that. I am the idiot one."
"No, no, you were a kid I picked on, I was the idiot," Snape insisted hotly getting irritated.
"Oh for the love of Merlin!" Madam Pomfrey's irritated voice echoed in the room, "You were both idiots. Now shut up, I am losing the potion count."
Snape and Harry looked at the direction where the voice was heard. Harry stifled laughter of amusement. They started chatting, Harry explaining what he was doing while hidden, when Snape looked at him in epiphany.
"You were hidden at the second floor! So that day with Weasley – and Granger!" he blushed as he remembered that embrace.
"You almost discovered where I was. They weren't careful and you heard them. So when they realised you were coming that way – well Hermione panicked and so Ron decided to 'protect' my hideout. Anyway then they spent the next week not talking to each other and avoiding each other and then Ron spoke to me and then Hermione spoke to me – and – and – WELL IT WAS ABOUT BLOODY TIME! THEY HAD BEEN DRIVING ME CRAZY THESE LAST TWO YEARS!" Harry exclaimed loudly.
He looked at Snape then, who seemed to go under a terrible ordeal. He squinted his eyes and pierced his lips together. Finally, unable to control himself longer, he tossed his head back and started laughing hard, while letting out some yelps of pain at the same time.
"I almost got you killed," Harry said glumly some time later, as his features darkened, "I am sorry I left your side sir."
"It wasn't your fault Harry. Jackomo was a twisted dangerous man and you couldn't know he was there."
"You don't understand," Harry said hotly, "People die because they try to protect me. My parents, Sirius and you, almost. I don't want people at risk because of me."
"Harry," the wizard said seriously, "we all have our ideologies. We want to vanquish this danger from our lives and yes, we do want to protect you, but we are also ready to die for what we believe. Though I do want to survive this war, I know there is a possibility I will not. I am prepared to face the consequences, and all I want is to know that you understand and accept the dangers we face. It doesn't have to do entirely with you."
Harry shook his head slowly, not uttering a word. Madam Pomfrey entered to tell them that it was time for Harry to leave. As Harry stood up, Snape did something he never believed he would do. He asked for Harry to visit him again and the boy accepted.
Three days later Snape was allowed to leave the Hospital Wing. He was still in some pain and his knees were weak, though he would not admit it out loud. When Harry offered him to escort him to his chambers, Snape told him to stop being ridiculous for he was no damsel in distress. Harry, who could recall some of the Potion Master's foulest moods when assisted help, escorted him and hoped that the man would grab his shoulder in case he needed support.
By the time they arrived to where their chamber once was, Snape was heaving in pain as a caustic sensation spread in his ribs. Harry opened the door quickly and the Potion Master sat on the sofa immediately. The room was as he had left it, though many of the toys the little boy had left in their living room were missing. Harry stood opposite him in silence.
"Well – ahem – I better get going now," Harry said slowly, as if expecting something from the Potion Master.
"Alright then do so," Snape said indifferently as he accioed a book from his library.
"I am going to drop by tomorrow to take you to the Slytherins' hideout," Harry said with a tone of disappointment and got out of the room.
Snape walked into the boy's bedroom. The bed and toys were as the boy had left them. He sat on the bed slowly and took Bibi the unicorn toy into his hands.
"Here it is my friend," he said slowly, "he is grown up now and he does not need us. Neither of us." He looked at the unicorn's bead eyes and with a huff he tossed it on the pillow. "Oh what do you know, you are a stuffed toy anyway," he glared.
The door was knocked and Snape shot up, causing much pain to his ribs. He walked slowly to the door and opened it to find young Harry Potter. They silently looked at each other for a second.
"Harry – em – nice weather we are having," Snape said and immediately slapped himself mentally as a rumble echoed inside the castle.
Harry looked at the man in puzzlement as a horrible storm was going on for the entire day.
"Well, yes, if this is a weather of your taste sir," he answered back. "Umm – I –I came to escort you to the Slytherins' hideout."
They both walked slowly, they both shot trivial questions to each other that the other answered very briefly. Finally Harry stopped to what it seemed to be a girl's restroom. Harry opened the door and Snape followed him realising immediately where the hideout was located.
"Well professor, I see you are recovering well," Moaning Myrtle said grimly as if his recovery was the worst thing that could have ever happened to him.
"Yes an unfortunate situation my dear," Snape answered back so comically that Harry had to suppress a laugh.
Snape saw Filius Flitwick in front of the sink, the entrance to the chamber of secrets. He appeared to be exhausted yet completely satisfied and excited. He hurried to Snape and Harry and called them to see his work.
"Salazar Slytherin's magic was old and hard to break, but I finally did it after two weeks of hard work. Come, come and see."
Harry and Snape looked at the sink, where Flitwick was pointing. Snape looked carefully and spotted the little snake that was behind the tap. The snake, then to Harry's and Snape's surprise, tilted his head and asked for the password in simple English.
"There is no password yet," Flitwick said cheerfully, "It is after all your privilege Severus, as the Slytherin House Master. Now do follow me and see what else I have done."
The chamber's entrance was a big pipe that one could slide and land into a very long tunnel that was big enough for the average man to stand and walk properly. Snape, on his behalf, was left staring as Flitwick jumped into the pipe and wondered how they expected him, an injured man, to do so himself. Harry remained staring at him, waiting for him to jump in. Snape let out a scoff and jumped inside while he thought that if he was damaged further he would let Harry and Flitwick suffer Madam Pomfrey's wrath.
As Snape fell down the pipe, which twisted and turned, he felt a weird sensation spreading in his body. It was as if he had no real weight and after many twists and turns he shot out of the pipe, high in the air and landed down softly as if he was as light as a feather.
"So what do you think of my spell?" Flitwick squeaked enthusiastically, "Pretty impressive don't you think? I wanted to put it into practise for years now."
Snape confirmed how much he was impressed as Harry landed softly next to him. He, then, followed the Charms Professor and the boy into the tunnel, with much discomfort as he was taller than the average man. The tunnel was clean from the gruesome skeletons of animals now and when they walked into the Chamber of Secrets; their eyes met a totally different sight.
The big chamber reminded very little of the horrific place Harry Potter entered years ago. A big green carpet had decorated the floor while at each side, where the snake pillars were, one could see square cubicles, each with its big four-posted bed and curtains. The middle of the room was now transformed to a big living-room with its sofas and tables and at the very end the statue of Salazar Slytherin stood, old and ancient, with the house's tabards on each of his sides.
What seemed peculiar to young Harry Potter was the fact that the room did not seem threatening anymore but was rather warm and full of light, something he had not experienced when he was in the Slytherins' common room. Snape saw professor McGonagall with the group of his Slytherin students. He was about to go near and greet when someone called out a "sir" full of delight and he found himself surrounded by his students.
"Sir, you are finally out of the Hospital Wing!"
"You got us so worried."
"Hey the man is injured. Give him some space. Let him sit down," Draco Malfoy's voice of authority declared and Snape found himself sitting on a sofa while his students stared back in expectation.
"So how are you all doing?" he finally asked them causing a mixture of jumbled voices to narrate how they spent their time preparing the Chamber of Secrets as a hideout for the summer. In the case the Ministry decided to search Hogwarts for them they would hide in there. Luckily, Dumbledore had conveniently forgotten to mention where the Chamber of Secrets were located. Now only one little detail was left to deem their plan successful. And that was where Professor McGonagall would help.
The plan was easy. The Slytherins had to be seen entering Hogwarts Express so that the Ministry officials would think they had run away when they departed from Kings Cross. To do so, advance Transfiguration was needed. Professor McGonagall would create replicas of the students that would last until the end of the Hogwarts Express' journey. Then they would turn back to their previous form which was stones. Professor McGonagall spent the last days measuring the Slytherins and then working on the replicas to the most minor detail until their features, height and colours were closely to the original. Then, half an hour before their supposed departure, the Slytherins would pass some magical energy, each one to his or her replica, barely to give them speech and movement until they would reach Kings Cross.
Harry watched grimly as Snape was dragged around by the enthusiastic Slytherin. He watched as the man shared their excitement and a pang of jealousy sprang into his chest. The Potion Master seemed to show no interest to him anymore. Maybe it was because he had grown up; maybe the man had only done it out of duty. He sighed, expressed his goodbyes to Professor Flitwick and left the chamber sadly.
The days passed swiftly and the day when the students would leave for the summer came. Snape looked sadly from his window. The Leaving Feast that took place the evening before was not cheerful but glum. He recalled what had happened when he retired from it to his chambers.
He sighed in exhaustion as the room was knocked and he opened slowly to see the boy standing outside. He invited Harry in and they both sat on the sofa. They looked at each other silently.
"I am leaving tomorrow to go to my aunt and uncle," Harry said softly. "Once again, thank you for taking care of me. It was very kind of you."
Snape lowered his head.
"It was my duty, Harry," he said slowly, calculating his words, "you don't need to thank me. Please don't feel obliged."
Harry nodded and after a few moments of silence he wished the man good night and left the room. Snape remained looking at the door feeling extremely angry on the pain that had risen inside him. He reminded himself that he was no longer needed and retired to bed.
END OF FLASHBACK
A knock was heard and he opened it with nervousness. At his doorstep stood none but Remus J. Lupin, tired and very uncomfortable. Snape invited the man to enter and offered him tea and sandwiches. The werewolf looked at the offerings in amazement, as if he expected them to have poison. He contemplated on the idea as ridiculous and took a bite and a sip.
"Lupin," Snape said in hesitation, "th-th-thank you for what you have done for me that night in the Hospital Wing."
Lupin looked at the man in discomfort. He was not really sure why he had invited him to his rooms that day, or why he had accepted.
"Lupin," Snape asked suddenly, "why did you say you were jealous of me?"
The werewolf froze, his fingers clenched on the cup. He drew a deep breadth and let the cup rest on the tea table.
"I was jealous," he started slowly, stopping for a second, "because – because – you had the chance to see Harry growing up. I was the next in line to take care of him after Sirius was arrested. But at the time I was not given permission because I was a werewolf. So he was sent to his mother's relatives."
Snape stared as the man turned angrily to see him.
"You can't possibly understand how useless I felt. I would give my legs to have the chance to look after James' and Lily's child. He was such a sweet boy. I wanted to be a part of his life and I was denied that. And you," he said in anger, "you make him feel he is nothing to you."
It was Snape's time to be taken aback. His eyes narrowed in anger.
"How do you know? How could you possibly know? He does not need me," Snape exclaimed hotly.
"He does, he contacted me through the firework to tell me you don't care. He was distressed" Lupin said hotly, baring his teeth.
"He does not need me. He is a grown up now," Snape insisted with a growl.
"Oh for Merlin's..." Lupin shouted, "He remembered your attack! He was devastated when he thought you were killed by that man."
Lupin closed his eyes and rose from his seat.
"Snape that boy is leaving with the train in half-an-hour and if you don't show him you care, then you will do a mistake you will surely regret!" he said and in anger he stormed out of the room.
Snape remained sitting for some seconds as if he was trying to swallow a huge piece of information and suddenly he sprang from his chair and shot outside his room.
Remus J. Lupin stood outside the castle's entrance and sighed in resign. He was about to walk to Hogsmeade for some Firewhiskey when he was turned around. He saw Snape looking at him intensely and for a moment he thought that the Potion Master would punch him. Yet the big-nosed man clasped his hands in his and shaking them he hurried towards the Hogwarts Express platform.
Lupin smiled and walked to Hogsmeade. A butterbeer seemed to him a nice drink right now
Harry put his trunk in the compartment and sat down with Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Neville. The train would start in fifteen minutes, taking him back to his uncle and aunt for one last summer. He sighed to the thought of his ex-guardian and turned his attention to his friends that were chatting in excitement.
Suddenly he heard a knock on his window and to his surprise he saw Snape waving his hands at him, motioning that he wanted to speak to him. Harry stood up and hurried outside.
"Harry," Snape started immediately when the boy approached him, "I have a house."
Harry stared at the man in puzzlement, not really understanding the purpose of this announcement.
"It is not a great house," Snape continued quickly, "It has two bedrooms, a kitchen, two studies, two bathrooms, a living room and a small library. You could call it decent I suppose."
The man stopped, drawing a breadth and stared at Harry expectantly.
"I am sorry sir," Harry said puzzlement, "but are you trying to sell me your house?"
Snape let out a snort of desperation. Why was it so difficult for people to understand what he was trying to say? Sighing he said.
" I know I am not as great as Sirius was but I – what I want to say – well I know you are going to be a grown-up soon – ummm – when this bloody war is over would you mind visiting me in my house for a week or so and spending some time with me?" Snape finally asked in embarrassment.
"I'd love to!" Harry exclaimed immediately and to much Snape's, and Harry's, surprise he grasped Snape to a tight hug, "It would be my pleasure sir."
"And for Circe's blazing hair Harry, stop calling me sir," Snape mumbled uncomfortably, "Call me-"
"Sevvus?" Harry asked playfully, "I like that one."
Snape could not suppress the laugh that escaped his lips. He grabbed Harry and squeezed his shoulders affectionately.
"Oh go you silly teenager or you will miss your train," Snape said in mocking annoyance and gave the teenager an affectionate slap in the cheek.
Harry hurried in the train, which started moving away. Snape remained looking at it until it disappeared in the horizon. He then turned and walked towards Hogsmeade. A butterbeer was in order now.
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