A/N- Yes, I know. It has been...ages.
Well...I hope everyone had a happy 2007! And here's to the end of the wonderful epic of Harry Potter. There were some good moments and bad moments but hey! That's what fanfiction is for, right?
I'm so relieved to finally put this up. I found the inspiration to write again after seeing so many in progress stories just completely dying. Fanfiction is not what it used to be unfortunately.
But enough of that. I hope you enjoy this chapter. It is not beta'ed or proofread or anything. I apologize for the errors but I wanted to get this out as soon as possible.
Chapter 32- St. Mungo's
Snape stood on the other side of the door for a long while. He sighed heavily, reaching a hand up to touch his forehead.
"Damn the brat," he hissed aloud.
Severus closed his eyes briefly before turning to the young nurse. "Yes," he said edgily, arching an eyebrow.
"You haven't slept all night, sir," she said, apparently unfazed by Snape's grouchy mood. "Now that your son is awake, perhaps you'd like to lie down for a few hours?"
Snape heaved a sigh, turning to glance back at the closed door that led to Darian's room.
"Why not?" he muttered, following her to a small room where visitors usually slept.
Snape slammed the door open, striding into his small cottage with a scowl planted firmly on his lips. He threw his dark robes over the ragged, gray couch that had once been a gentle beige color, and kicked off his boots.
"Harry!" he barked, slumping on the couch. "Where the hell are you?"
He didn't turn when he heard the door creak open and a tall boy with long, greasy hair stepped out of the kitchen.
"Get in here," he ordered, rubbing his forehead and not looking up when he heard the slow footsteps of his son's approach.
"Yes Father?" Harry whispered quietly, looking at him through long, dark bangs. His appearance would make any parent cringe. Bruises littered his pale face, surrounding the sickly yellow of his healing eye. He walked with a limp, signaling that his leg was injured as well.
Most parents would cringe at the sight their child was in, but Snape was not most parents.
"I don't smell any food," he said calmly. "I thought I asked you to prepare dinner for us."
Harry swallowed, shifting his weight carefully to the other leg. "I'm sorry, Father. I just….there wasn't anything to cook. We haven't been shopping in—"
"What was that?" Snape growled, finally looking at his son.
Harry flinched violently and backed away. "I-I'm sorry…"
A sharp SMACK echoed through the silent house and Harry recoiled, clutching his cheek and staring at his father fearfully.
"I'm sorry!" he croaked again, tears spilling over his cheeks.
Snape stood up swiftly and Harry trembled, cowering backwards quickly as his father advanced upon him.
"Is dinner such an extraordinarily hard task for you?" he whispered in a deadly calm voice. "Is it too hard for the fourteen year-old Quidditch star?"
"I-I quit Quidditch," Harry whispered, now against the wall. "You told me to…"
Snape snarled and grabbed the boy's hair, yanking him up and causing Harry to cry out sharply in pain. "Don't you take that tone with me," he hissed into Harry's ear. "I'm your father, dammit!" He threw Harry to the ground and walked over to the wall, grabbing a belt off a hook and turned back to Harry with a glint in his eyes.
"Yes," he said, thoughtfully. "I know what's wrong. You've forgotten your manners, boy."
Harry's eyes widened and he backed away against the wall helplessly. "Father, please!" he begged. "Please don't---"
But Snape ignored him as he advanced upon the trembling boy again, snapping the belt.
Harry stumbled and hurried to stand up but Snape's hand whipped forward and grabbed the boy's arm in a bruising grip. He sneered at his son's fearful expression as he raised the belt, aiming for the boy's face, for his eyes……he had always hated the boy's green eyes…
The sharp jolt of pain that met his back from connecting to the concrete floor felt as real as the flow of blood that gushed from his son's face and Severus jolted awake, his cheeks soaked with tears. Bile welled up in his throat and before he could stop it, it spilled from his mouth and onto the floor by his bed. He panted heavily, gagging on the foul taste in his mouth before finally looking up.
It took him a few moments to adjust to his surroundings. When his vision cleared, he found a few people staring at him. Severus ignored the looks and turned over to the other side of the bed, sitting up slowly and putting in head in his hands.
He couldn't believe he had just dreamed that. And the feelings he had felt…..the sadistic happiness at seeing his son cringe away from him like that….
Severus squeezed his eyes tightly shut and concentrated on taking in a one breath after another. After a moment, he looked at his hands, rubbing them together experimentally and turning them over. He could still feel his son's blood on them….
His stomach roiled again and Severus swallowed heavily, trying to fight it back. He wrapped his arms around his middle and took a few more deep breaths, wishing he could obliviate the dream from his mind.
'I'm no better then him,' he realized suddenly, thinking of his own father. He still hurt Darian even now without a single thought as to how this would affect the boy in a long run. What if it got that bad? What if he slipped up and actually struck the boy one day?
The thought of harm coming to the boy by his own hand was enough to make him gag. He bent over and took another breath, willing his stomach to calm down long enough to let him think….
"Are you alright, sir?" a voice asked him and Severus heaved a sigh through his teeth, slowly straightening up to look at the stranger.
It was a man who looked to be about his own age, perhaps a bit older, with dark brown hair and glasses. Strangely enough, the man reminded him of the late James Potter, if only by slight resemblance.
"It will be alright, I'm sure," the man told him quietly. His eyes were bloodshot and had bags under them. "Henry Knight," he introduced himself, holding out a hand.
Severus stared at the outstretched hand for a moment. "Severus Snape," he returned, but didn't take the man's hand.
Henry slowly withdrew his hand. "It isn't good to be in a hospital on such a happy day," he said quietly. "Have you lost someone?"
Severus bent his head, avoiding the other man's eyes. "No," he said curtly.
"You don't look as happy as I'd expect one to be on Christmas."
Severus glared at him. "You are not exactly a bright ray of sunshine either," he said coldly.
Henry's eyes glazed. "Yes," he said huskily, looking down. "If you'd excuse my demeanor," he paused to clear his throat heavily. "But my son passed away a few hours ago."
Severus closed his eyes briefly, taking a breath. "My condolences," he said quietly. He reopened them. "Was he young?" he asked, thinking of Darian.
The other man's lips twitched. "He had just turned seventeen," he murmured and sighed. "He was so very ready to make his way out into the world."
Severus was silent, not having enough experience as a parent to relate to the other man.
Henry swallowed heavily. "He was looking to be a Healer. Merlin did he love to help people…"
Severus shifted uncomfortably, quite unused to listening to something so personal from a stranger. He sincerely hoped that the man wouldn't burst into tears. He wasn't sure he would know how to handle a situation like that.
"Terrible creatures, aren't they?"
Severus looked up at him. "What?"
"Werewolves," Henry answered and Severus's insides froze. The other man gestured at the many visitors that were resting in the different beds that surrounded them. "All of these people…parent…siblings…friends….all of them are here because a werewolf attacked their loved one."
Severus avoided the man's look. "Your…" he cleared his throat, staring at all the solemn faces. "Your son was attacked?"
Henry nodded. "Yes," he said. "He died shortly afterward in here from injuries."
"Oh," Severus said quietly, turning away. He stared out the window to the snow that was slowly piling up before glancing at the clock. It was half past two. "I should be going," he said uncertainly, standing.
Darian stared out the window blankly. The snow had piled up so much that almost the entire window was covered. He shifted and winced as his sore neck throbbed from holding it in place for so long. For the past few hours, he had drifted in and out of sleep, hoping that he would wake up to his father sitting beside him.
Darian heaved a sigh and wondered, for the hundredth time, what he'd done wrong.
He heard footsteps approaching but didn't bother to look as the door opened. It was probably a family member coming to wish another patient a Happy Christmas. A rustle of something close by caused him to slowly tear his gaze from the window.
What met his eyes almost made him forget his aches and pains from the recent full moon.
Snape stood in front of his bed, looking uncertain. He held a large black bag in one had. Darian's lips twitched as he was seized with the sudden image of a twisted, slightly gothic Father Christmas.
Heh. Snape….gothic. He had never thought of the man's attire in that way.
Severus cleared his throat and slowly lowered the bag to the floor.
Darian watched him in amusement, wondering if the man knew the image he was presenting. He ignored the nervous feeling burning in the pit of his stomach. He knew another confrontation was coming up. Every single day brought some kind of dispute with Snape. It never ended; not even when the bright flame of hatred had finally been extinguished did Darian truly feel that he wouldn't have to expect some kind of bite from his father.
"Merry Christmas," Severus said quietly, almost tentatively. "I thought you might like to open your presents."
Darian felt his eyes widen. He hadn't actually thought the large bag contained presents. He thought that Severus had merely brought him some fresh robes to change into when he was released or, Darian shuddered, his belongings so Severus could drop him off at Hogwarts and continue the holiday in peace after their argument this morning.
"Thank you," he said finally, realizing that Severus was waiting for an answer.
Darian watched as his father carefully removed each package. He glanced over Snape's shoulder to notice a medi-witch placing a white sheet over a still body a few beds down and shivered involuntarily. A middle-aged man stood at the foot of the bed, staring mournfully at the unmoving form, his shoulders slumped, giving the image of a man who had lost everything.
"Werewolves!" an old man had choked furiously. "They kill more innocents than You-Know-Who himself does. The filthy beasts are worse than Death Eaters!"
Darian swallowed heavily as the young woman at the old man's side burst into uncontrollable sobs.
"My son! My son! My sweet baby…"
Severus followed Darian's gaze. His dark eyes rested on the older man for a moment before tearing his eyes from the dreadful scene. He grabbed Darian's chin and firmly turned him away from it as well, turning to yank the curtains shut for good measure.
"I daresay Lupin has delighted in getting you a type of chew toy so he can have a break from your teeth," Severus said, snapping Darian out of the small trance he had fallen into.
"Maybe," Darian answered through the lump in his throat.
"Open it," Snape commanded, thrusting the poorly wrapped present into Darian's hands. "As much as I know I'll regret it later on, especially if it's from that blasted mutt you call a godfather."
Darian smiled weakly at him and tried vainly to push the image of the unmoving body from his mind as he opened his first present.
"There are some for you too," Darian said as he studied the four-dimensional puzzle Remus and Sirius had sent him.
"I am aware of that," Severus murmured. "Though receiving a bottle of firewhiskey from the headmaster every Christmas can get quite old."
Darian put down the puzzle and looked at him oddly. "What about my present? Or are you planning to share the bottle? If you do not want it, there's no use for a perfectly good bottle of firewhiskey to go to waste."
"Not a chance," Severus said bluntly, folding his arms and looking down at him smugly. "Besides, it is against school rules to play favorites, Mr. Snape, even with you."
Darian rolled his eyes and dug out a small box from the bag. Obviously, Snape had simply piled the presents into the bag without even looking at them.
"Here," he said, holding it out to him. "Try this one."
Snape gave him a strange look and slowly took the box. It was wrapped in shiny, silver paper and Snape tore through the beautiful wrapping, easily yanking the tied tensile-bow from around it.
The wrapping fell away to reveal what looked to be a shoebox. Severus stared at it and glanced at Darian's anxious expression briefly before lifting the lid.
Darian mentally held his breath.
Severus carefully lifted a dark red velvet box and flipped it open. His confused expression slowly melted into something that resembled awe as he lifted a thick-banded silver ring from the box. He swallowed heavily, obviously recognizing the symbols on it.
"Where did you….?" He trailed off, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath as he tenderly rolled the heavily ring between his fingers.
Darian watched cautiously. "There's more," he said softly, nodding to a few sheets of yellowed, ancient-looking papers that were left in the box.
Severus avoided his eyes as he picked up the papers, unfolded them and smoothed them out carefully. He squinted to read the faded writing. The beautiful script was just as he remembered it. There was the natural feminine grace to the elegant writing and it was so achingly familiar. Only she could have sketched the tiny lily drawn at the bottom corner of the page with such detail.
Darian turned away from his father to give the man a bit of privacy and focused unsuccessfully on solving the puzzle. How on earth were you supposed to control time? And where the hell did that yellow piece just come from?
After a couple of terse minutes, he heard the rustling of the paper and looked up.
Severus was staring at his hands, his face very pale and his dark eyes shining oddly. He took a deep shuddering breath and closed his eyes, palming his forehead for a moment. He cleared his throat.
"Excuse me," he said huskily and hurried out of the room.
Darian watched him go, hoping that he had done the right thing. He looked back at the nearly empty shoebox and pulled out the last delicate sheet of paper: the smallest one of them all. He knew what it said; he knew what it all said.
Faded ink flowed beautifully to form dozens of names and descriptions (Zachary….no, too Slytherin; Aiden….he'd say it sounded too much like a sickness; Nicolas….too cliché, everyone's naming their kid after Flamel). All of them were marked out except for two.
Darian Nobilius……he picked the first name, Nobilius after his great grandfather…has a nice ring to it…
Harry James…I love the first name, NOT Harold though, just Harry…James after my favorite uncle…
Under the names, it read 'August 5th!!!' proudly. He swallowed, tracing the words his mother had written so long ago. Severus had missed this paper, though Darian doubted if it would have more of an affect on him then the ones he had just read.
The first stack of papers was what would have been his mother's wedding vows to Snape. A few years ago, Darian had found this box wedged in a corner of his vault while filling up his pocket for schoolbooks. At the time, he hadn't understood why the items would be in there. After all, his mother and father had both been buried with their wedding rings, so why would his mother's wedding ring to his father still be in a vault? It made sense now. It had hit him just a few weeks ago. While Snape's name was never once mentioned in the vows, it was now quite obvious that his mother had been referring to his father.
Darian shook his head and moved to pick up a present from Hermione to distract himself from his father's absence. It was tiny and when Darian opened it, he found yet another velvet box. He frowned, feeling a bit disappointed. Hermione knew that he did not care for any kind of ring.
Slowly, he opened it and stared at a very familiar necklace. At least, it would be familiar if it were not a stainless-steel color.
Darian gawked at the necklace as he pulled it out. The chain was heavy and thick, though not conspicuously so. Strung on it was a large, flatly pressed ring. He rolled it between his fingers and read the inside.
'It Always Perseveres'
He shook his head and glanced at the insignia on the velvet box that bore 'East Asia's Finest Jewelry!' where as the one he had gotten Hermione had been from the Philippines.
Slowly Darian slipped the chain over his head where it magically shrunk to fit safely around his neck. He gently fingered the ring, silently marveling at the irony of it all.
The door opened and Severus walked in looking tired but composed.
"I'm sorry," Darian said quickly. "I didn't mean to offend—"
"Darian," Severus interrupted quietly. The man took in a deep breath and sat in the chair next to Darian's bed. "You did not…offend me."
The ring, Darian noticed, Severus wore on his left hand. It fit quite snugly, looking like Severus had worn it every day for the last eighteen years.
"Thank you, Darian," Severus murmured, looking directly into his eyes. "I cannot….you have no idea how much this means to me."
Darian watched the man struggle for words. "I think I have an idea," he said, thinking of Hermione.
Severus gave him a ghost of a smile, but it was enough for Darian.
"I was not concerned for you safety simply because of the prophecy, Darian," Severus said after a long moment of silence.
Darian felt his insides clench at the abrupt change of subject. He had hoped that they would avoid talking about their latest disagreement. He looked intently at the patterns on the bedspread.
"I was angry," he heard his father say in a low voice. "You do not think sometimes, Darian." He looked up at Severus.
Severus was staring at him with a mixture of annoyance and regret. "I worry that you will get yourself killed one day. You rush into situations without even….without…!" Snape seemed to be unable to form the right words. "Without thinking!" He said finally.
"You already said that," Darian pointed out bluntly.
"I know," Severus snapped. "But…tell me how I can break you of this habit."
"You know what I am referring to. This…." Severus gestured almost wildly with a hand. "…this sickeningly noble behavior. You seem to have it in your mind that you must save people; you must save everyone from their own stupidity even if it means that your own life is at stake."
"So, you are saying that I should not help people," Darian stated coolly.
"I am saying," Snape continued through clenched teeth. "That you should realize that you are only fifteen—"
"—and should not be disregarding your safety just because you want to play the hero!"
"I do not play the hero!" Darian snapped back.
"Do you not? Then what do you call—" Snape abruptly broke off and closed his eyes as if silently asking the gods for patience. "This is getting us nowhere."
"Why are you getting upset, anyways?" Darian asked, trying not to sound disrespectful. "You will not even hear what I have to say."
"That is because you cannot seem to grasp…" Severus stopped again. He let out a loud breath and leaned back against the chair. "You are right. I do not listen to what it is that you have to say."
Darian folded his arms and lay back on his pillows, staring at the ceiling.
"You will never agree with me," he spoke to the ceiling. "You will never see things the way I do."
"Correct. I won't," Snape said curtly. "Nor will I allow you to continue this foolish 'saving-people' issue any more."
Darian arched an eyebrow. "Really?" he said nonchalantly.
Snape's lips twisted. "No," he said and raised his chin, looking down his nose at Darian. "You are grounded."
Snape ignored him. "When you get back to Hogwarts, you are not to go anywhere but your classes and meals in the Great Hall," he continued.
"What?" Darian said incredulously. "You…you're grounding me?!"
"That is what I said."
Darian struggled for the right words. "What about Hermione and Ron? I have no one in Ravenclaw!"
"That is generally the point," Snape said dryly.
"What is the point? Being alone?"
"No," Snape said heatedly. "Having your friends around as company is not punishment."
"Why are you punishing me in the first place?" Darian snapped. "Because I saved your life."
Snape flinched and stood up, towering over him. "You are being grounded because you do not need to have the temptation of doing something irrationally stupid as you are so often apt to do! This attitude has been going on long enough. It is time that someone actually punished you for your misdeeds instead of receiving a simple slap on the wrist."
"What do you want me to do? Clean out your cauldrons every night?" Darian said scathingly, not liking where this was going at all.
"I believe I made myself quite clear," Snape said quietly. "Besides meals and classes, you will be in your common room at all times. If you have any detentions, then they can be served later on in the year."
"But that's torture," Darian moaned.
"No, that is discipline," Snape retorted with a smirk. "It is time you learned some."
Darian glared up at him defiantly. What the hell did Snape think he was doing? He couldn't ground Darian, that was insane! Since when did Snape have the right to control every aspect of his life? He looked into his father's eyes.
"You can't do this to me," he said defiantly.
Darian felt a chill sweep through him at the look in his father's eyes.
"Try me," the man said softly and Darian paled.
"You're serious?" he breathed.
Snape didn't answer the question.
Darian looked from his father to the floor. Snape had no right! No right! He should yell at the man or threaten to tell Dumbledore. Snape just couldn't do this! It wasn't fair!
"How long?" Darian heard himself ask meekly. He mentally cursed himself. What was he doing? Why was he submitting so easily? He could still win!
"A month," Snape said softly, eying Darian closely. The boy was not accustomed to being chastised. The only discipline Darian had known was at the hand of Vernon Dursley. Severus shivered as he suddenly remembered his most recent dream. He vowed to himself that he would never, ever lay a hand that was meant to cause pain on the boy before him.
"I assume that is an acceptable punishment?" he said smoothly.
"Do I have a choice?" Darian grumbled.
"No," Severus said bluntly.
Darian sighed, folding his arms and looking like a petulant child as he slumped back against the covers. "Isn't this the part where you are supposed to lecture me on how you are only doing this 'because it's for my own good'?" he mimicked in a lofty voice.
Severus arched an eyebrow at the whiny question. "No, this is the part where I tell you to stop pouting like a two year-old or else it will be two months."
Darian looked as if he'd been slapped.
Severus pulled the covers out from under the boy's legs. "I suggest you get some sleep," he said, his voice softening somewhat. "Lupin and your dogfather will be here in a few hours and I sincerely doubt that you will want to face either of them with the small amount of sleep you got last night."
Darian slowly settled back into the covers, still looking completely disturbed at what had just occurred.
"And do try to cheer up," Snape said smugly. "You do have a few more presents to open when you wake up."
Darian barely fought the urge to call his father something very rude.
A/N- Well there you have it. I honestly do not know when the next update will be. Its four in the morning here and I'm very tired... I need to reread most of my story to remember everything so if I have made a few plot-mistakes, I am very sorry but I need to refresh my memory.
Also, I changed the quote in the ring that Darian gave to Hermione. It now reads (as you may have guessed) 'It Always Perseveres'. I'm not good at romance or anything, but I do know the previous quote was absolutely horrible.
Till next time...