Title: Of Potions and Men

Challenge: #31 – Because of a mismade potion of Snape(!) Harry becomes terribly sick. (Enhama)  -  It was kinda changed a little in the process… it does follow this for a little bit until something else is found out. Anyways, one of my beta's pointed out that it wasn't all that incredibly likely that Snape would mess up on a potion that Harry would be taking.

Disclaimer: All the characters, settings, etc. are from the makings of the mind of JK Rowling.

A/N: A huge thanks to my two betas: Fri zzy and daramiyuki! They were both such an incredibly huge help!

Severus Snape walked into Headmaster Albus Dumbledore's office. He was wondering about what his mentor could possibly need on only the second day of school. Maybe the Dark Lord was doing something that Albus needed his input on? Or, maybe a Slytherin was in serious trouble? Whatever the case, the Headmaster's note sounded serious. Striding into Albus' office, Severus' gaze automatically flicked to the man's subdued look. Normally, Albus would be bordering annoyingly cheerful with his eyes twinkling almost constantly.

Now, without a twinkle in sight, Severus sat on the chair placed in front of the Headmaster's desk. Severus wasn't even offered a Lemon Drop.

"Severus, we have a problem with Mr. Potter," Albus began. Severus had to stop himself from sighing. When didn't they have a problem with Potter? "He has taken a Dreamless Sleep Potion that you made. He is having very serious problems at the moment."

Severus just stared at the Headmaster for a moment. Did he really jut say that he had done a potion incorrectly? He was the most sought after Potion's Master in Europe and Albus was telling him that he couldn't brew a simple Dreamless Sleep Potion. The thought was ludicrous, and he told Albus so.

"As much as I hold your skills in high regard, Severus, it does not deter from the fact that I have an extremely ill student on my hands. I would like to believe that this was not your doing. Either way, I would like you to go check on Harry and see if you can determine what is wrong, and what we could do about it," Albus told him in a firm voice that left no room for argument as was usual when something concerned his Golden Boy. Severus scowled at the Headmaster, but knew that there was nothing he could do about it. He would have to go deal with the brat now.

~*~

Severus Snape, Head of Slytherin House, Potions Master, and a world-class 'greasy git' was annoyed, not that that was a surprise in and of itself. He was just more annoyed than usual. The meeting with the Headmaster, which he had just left, had served only to deepen his bad mood. Not only had his Potion-making abilities, but also the potion in question had been administered, not to some poor Hufflepuff student whose name he barely knew. He had to have his potion given to the worst possible person in the entire school: Harry Potter.

What had the ignorant little brat possibly have needed a Dreamless Sleep Potion for anyway? The boy's life was charmed. He should be dreaming of all the girls throwing themselves at his feet and even grown men practically worshipping the ground upon which he walked. For some reason, though, Potter felt the need to be the first one to try a new batch of the potion he made, landing himself once again into the Hospital Wing.

Striding into the Infirmary, he easily could see where Potter was. He was the only student actually there at the time. Treading over to where the boy was sleeping, Severus briefly wondered what was actually wrong with him. The Headmaster only said that something had gone wrong with the Dreamless Sleep Potion he made. Suddenly, Severus had a sick feeling that he knew what was going wrong.

Potter had begun convulsing on the bed, shaking violently and screaming. Severus was shocked. For the first time in his life, he had no idea what to do. Luckily for him, he was saved when Poppy practically sprinted into the room and began holding Potter down. She yelled at him, "Stop standing there like a dolt and help me!" Severus shook his head and then complied with the matron's wishes, a sneer firmly implanted on his face. Potter was much stronger than he looked, though, and it took much effort on Severus' part to keep the boy from thrashing any more than he already was. Finally, the fit passed and Potter lay subdued on the bed; once again in a deep slumber.

After Severus witnessed that episode, he was positive that there had to be some sort of Dark Arts involved. Poppy had given him a sample of Potter's blood that he could test, once he could hypothesize what the exact problem was.

Severus stood next to Potter staring down at his pale form for hours just thinking. He had to figure out what was wrong. Why was this happening to Potter? Where had he gone wrong with such a simple potion? Even a mistake while making the potion should not have caused such a drastic reaction. Unless…

Severus had an epiphany. He would have to research it before telling the Headmaster, but he was almost positive that that was the problem. Severus would have to check over the samples of Potter's blood to be sure, but if he was right he had even more research to do than he had thought. Severus left the Infirmary to begin the work that would guarantee he had little to no sleep that night.

~*~

The next day, Severus was seated in the Headmaster's office explaining to him what he believed to be wrong with Potter. "Albus, I am almost positive that the potion that Potter took is in no way related to the Dreamless Sleep Potion. I first noticed when I had suspicions as to what the poison actually was. I checked the other stores and they do not match what is currently in Potter's system. I can assume from this that someone who the boy trusted had to have given the potion to him. The potion that is affecting him does not dissolve well in food or drink. The boy isn't daft enough to take something from anyone he expects to be a Death Eater or a Death Eater's child. The poison is also the same color and same consistency as the Dreamless Sleep Potion. It would be difficult for all but one who is extremely skilled in the art of Potions to tell the difference, much less someone with Potter's less than adequate abilities," he sneered.

Albus Dumbledore stared over his half-moon spectacles at the man sitting in front of him, the absence of the usual twinkle, notable. "Mr. Potter's potion making abilities are not the issue at hand, Severus," he reproved, "what exactly does this potion do, and how do we fix it? We shall deal with who did this once Harry is safe."

Severus looked even more serious, now. "The potion forces the victim to relive their dreams and any visions if they have them. Not only that, but they feel the effects of anything happening in their visions. Albus, there is a ritual to perform, but it is very difficult. The casters have the danger of dying along with the victim if they fail."

"What must I do, Severus?" the Headmaster asked gravely.

"The ritual requires two people. One enemy and one friend. That is why it is hardly ever cured. There is hardly ever an enemy willing to risk their own life to help. The ritual will allow the two people to basically enter the person's mind. These people must live the visions with the person and bond themselves with the victim there. This is where the danger lies. If the casters become drawn into the visions and dreams, as well, all three will be lost into the victim's mind. If this process is done successfully, the two casters can pull the victim out of their mind. They will have effectively locked the visions away forever within their own minds." Severus finished off his description of what must be done and glanced apprehensively at the man in front of him.

"Are there any lingering effects?" the Headmaster questioned.

Severus took a deep breath, "Yes, all three are bonded for life. We are really unsure of all that this entails as it hasn't been successfully accomplished in at least five hundred years."

The Headmaster sternly looked at the man sitting before him and asked, "And who shall be the enemy to save Harry?" Severus knew this was merely a formality. Unless the Dark Lord planned on stepping forward to save Harry Potter, he would be the one to do it, he knew this ever since he opened the book and saw what was required to save Potter.

With this in mind, he stood up and told the Headmaster that he would complete the ritual. Nodding, the Headmaster stood as well, and the two men began the slow walk to the Infirmary to complete the ritual. The sooner they stopped the boy's dreams, the less chance there would be of him having lasting mental damage. On the way, Severus filled the other man in on just what they had to say and do. The Headmaster merely nodded as he was trying to remember everything that he was being told.

At the Hospital Wing, Poppy was informed that they would be going into the mind of Potter in order to save him. Poppy looked like she wanted to protest against what they were about to do, but agreed to watch over their bodies once the process began.

With this assured, the two men each stood on one side of the frail and sweating boy before them, who was deeply frowning at the moment. Albus gave Severus a small nod and the two began to chant softly and simultaneously.

A warm, green glow surrounded them as they felt their minds becoming more and more detached from their bodies. With the last word of the chant, a final hard tug took them from their own bodies into a swirl of many colored emotions. They spun round and round until they finally stopped.

Both men physically fell hard onto a solid, bleak ground. The two men stood up and briskly brushed the dust off of their robes. "Severus, how can we feel the ground if we are in a dream?" Albus questioned him.

"Albus, Potter feels his visions, we are going through what he does. We need to find him and bond ourselves to him. Do you remember the bonding chants? Good. And remember, after the third line begin to take the visions and dreams from his mind and lock them into yours." Severus told him. It felt odd to Severus that he was talking this way to the Headmaster, but he knew that the Headmaster didn't know just how pressing their problem was.

Potter had to be found, and quickly. He may not find the boy's company the most enjoyable, but he did not want him to become mentally unstable if he could help it. Besides, he was now inside the mind of Potter and if he went insane then eventually Severus and Albus would as well.

The two men walked until they spotted the small form of Harry Potter standing next to a patch of trees. Briskly walking to where the sixth-year boy stood, they saw the shock that registered on his face when he saw them.

"Potter, are you able to function properly?" Severus asked him. The boy's shock grew even more.

"You – you can see me?" he stuttered, looking almost as surprised as if Severus had hugged him and given him a box of chocolates.

"Yes, Harry, we have come to take you away from here," the Headmaster informed the boy gently. "Harry, do you trust us?"

Potter immediately looked deeply into Severus' eyes. Presumably, he already trusted the Headmaster enough. The Potions Master found the emerald gaze incredibly unnerving, but did not look away. Satisfied with whatever he had found, Potter nodded. Severus drew a long knife from his belt and held it before them.

"I assume this means that you will be able to perform your part of the ritual?" Severus questioned the boy. Potter nodded with a look of grim determination rising into his eyes. Severus gave a slight nod of approval before continuing.

"We need to stand in a circle and make a small cut on the palm of both of the people next to us, then press our palms together. All you have to do after the cutting, Potter, is put your trust in us and relax as much as possible. The more relaxed you are, the easier the ritual will be to complete." Potter nodded that he understood. Severus handed the knife to Albus, who had just begun to cut across his palm, when cloaked figures began to appear.

Severus fully turned to watch them, swiftly followed by Dumbledore. The figures made a circle and the three of them somehow knew that the dark-cloaked people did not notice them. Staring in a morbid fascination at the sight in front of them, the three bystanders stood and watched as the Dark Lord stepped forward to speak with his Death Eaters.

He began prowling in a circle like a predator as he began speaking in a deadly voice. "My faithful Death Eaters, the spy has finally been uncovered. I now know that our dear Potions Master has turned to the muggle-lover. He has not answered the summons, confirming what I already knew. He will be punished. But first, you fools did not see it earlier. Many a good plan has been destroyed by your ignorance."

Severus was barely able to take in the Dark Lord's words. He had been discovered as a spy, a traitor. His death would be a priority of the Dark Lord's. Every move he made from that moment on would have to be cautious. He was free, but shoved into yet another cage. Anywhere beyond Hogwarts was off limits to him. From what Albus believed, he would be in this predicament until the frail boy beside him defeated the most dangerous wizard of all time or until he was killed. His fate, like so many others, was tied with Potter's.

The Dark Lord turned to the nearest Death Eater, pointed his wand, and said, "CRUCIO."

At that moment, four people were on the ground, writhing and screaming in agony. This went on for what seemed like hours. The Dark Lord put some dark curse on Death Eater after Death Eater. Each time, Severus, Potter, and Albus felt the effects of the curse. Everything from Cruciatus to a curse that made the victim feel as if every bone in their body was broken, was used. It wasn't until after the vision was over and all three had finally regained their composure, did Albus shakily say that they should complete the ritual before it happened again.

Severus was barely able to keep the panic from his face when he saw the knife in Albus' hands. He had to remind himself that the knife was his and that this magic would do good. It was not dark, and he was not at a Death Eater meeting. With this in mind, he could focus on the task at hand.

This time Albus had cut all the way across his palm, forming a thin line of blood on his hand, before a silvery figure stepped out of the woods. Severus watched once again, in fascination as the figure glided forward in a menacing way and stopped in front of Potter. Very quickly, Severus could see that the figure was none other than Cedric Diggory, the Hufflepuff boy who had been one of the Hogwarts champions in the Triwizard tournament and who had died over a year ago. Severus could see Potter's face change into an _expression of depression, guilt, and fear. For, at that moment, Diggory was yelling, accusing and blaming Potter of atrocities that the boy could not have possibly done. The words were not even directed at Severus and he could feel the pain of them searing at his heart like a hot iron. Severus had had many a similar nightmare, except that he had deserved them.

After a while, Diggory's presence must not have been enough. For many other figures began walking out of the forest. Among them, he saw Lily and James Potter, Sirius Black, Hermione Granger, and the entire Weasley family, were just a few. They were all shouting and accusing Potter.

"It's all your fault."

"You killed me, murderer."

"You are so selfish."

"Everyone you touch ends up dead."

Severus could feel himself becoming more and more fascinated with the dream. How odd that Potter dreamt his closest friends were dead and accusing him of their murders. It was all so surreal, he knew that most of the silvery figures present were alive, at least they were just a few hours ago. What surprised him most of all was when an angry, silvery Albus Dumbledore came forth next. Vaguely, in the back of his mind, he felt something about that was incredibly wrong, but he just couldn't figure out what.

Severus felt a hand firmly shaking his shoulder. Annoyed, he tried to brush it away. He soon realized that the person would not give up, so he turned around to yell at the poor soul behind him. His eyes widened, though, when he saw a very solid and colorful Dumbledore standing before him. Shaking his head, and glad that Albus was with him, he realized that he had almost been sucked into Harry's dream. Turning, he and Albus grabbed Harry's shoulders and pulled him away from the silver figures. Severus could tell that the boy was sobbing in the brief glimpse he had of him before his face disappeared into the Headmaster's robes.

The Headmaster was trying to comfort the boy but Severus shook his head. He knew they had to get out from there and quick. He thrust the knife at Potter and told him to make the cuts. Potter tearfully grabbed the knife and made an incision on Severus' palm. He reluctantly did the same to Albus before Albus and Severus both repeated the process. The three of them stood there with their palms pressed together. Potter was still sobbing as Severus and Albus began the necessary chant.

With the words complete, all three of them were enveloped into a bright white light. It surrounded them until that was all that any of them could see. Their palms were no longer connected and all Severus could see was a bright white light. "Oh, crap, we died," he moaned.

In the next moment, Severus felt extremely foolish, as the head of Poppy Pomfrey filled his vision, replacing the bright light shining over him. He also heard the voice of Potter, We DIED?!? "Poppy, tell Potter to cease his inane prattle." The nurse looked at him with worry in her eyes.

"Severus, Mr. Potter did not say anything," she informed him.

Severus looked at her incredulously and then with sudden understanding, Get the bloody hell out of my head, Potter!

Language, Severus, a third voice merrily told him…

TBC