Title: Verisimilitude

Author: GrapeSmshr

Rated: R

Coupling: HP/SS slashy goodness

Disclaimer: As much as I wish it were so, these charas don't belong to me.

Thanks to: Crazy Mary-J... You're my lifesaver with this, you know.

A/N: This is my first attempt at said pairing. But rest assured, I've written several slash fics before, so I'm definitely not new to this. I'll make this brief, so you can dive right in. Read on and enjoy!
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Chapter 1: Death Sentence
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"I'm sorry, but I'm afraid there is no cure."

The words weren't said callously, nor with pity, but matter-of-factly, and for that he was grateful. The very last thing he wanted was pity, especially from the headmaster.

"So I see," he murmured, clasping his hands together and resting his chin on his interlaced knuckles. He couldn't say he was surprised, because he wasn't. Something inside told him as much; it was as if he felt death itself coursing through his veins. And for all his knowledge, that very well may be the case. "How long?"

"I can't pinpoint exactly, but I'm afraid not long indeed." With these words, the slightest hint of sorrow could be detected.

"Then I should begin making arrangements." There was a strange sort of resignation in his voice, one that he didn't quite like. But at this point, he surmised bitterly, it really didn't matter.

"That's it? You're just accepting this?" another voice exploded, the owner rising from his chair and tipping it over precariously in the process.

"Really, Mr. Potter, do calm down--"

"Calm down, my arse!" Harry Potter was seething at this point. How could he be so accepting of a death sentence? It had been he--Harry--that had saved him from one in the first place!

"Ten points from Gryffindor for language," he leered, but it lacked his usual contempt. "Why are you here in the first place?" he continued, ignoring the teen's rage. "This doesn't concern you--"

"It doesn't? Because as I recall, I was the one that scooped your unconscious, convulsing body off the floor and took you to the infirmary." Hands defiantly on his hips, Harry declared, "This does so concern me."

Pinching the bridge of his nose in both exasperation and tiredom, the potions master knew there was no point in arguing. He had learned from the start what an utterly stubborn and annoying brat Harry Potter had been and still was. Maybe if the Gryffindor was humored, he would go away. "Yes, I suppose you have some right of presence," he admitted reluctantly," but that is all. This is my life, and I shall accept whatever happens. In this case, my untimely death."

Harry stared at the man in disbelief. His mouth opened and closed as if to spill forth words, but none came out. What was there to say? Oh yes. How about that the man was a crazy, selfish bastard? But he couldn't very well say this out loud; at least, not in the headmaster's presence, so he chose other, more appropriate words. "Professor Snape, I don't know you that well, and that is for the best of both our interests, I'm sure," he started, taking a seat in his right-turned chair. "But I don't understand how you can be so accepting, especially after what Voldemort did to you! Is it so easy to forget?"

Severus's eye twitched at the name of the Dark Lord. He doubted he could ever be able to forget what had been done to his person. After all, having the majority of his bones broken and then painfully magicked back together was not something one was bound to forget. Of course, going through that while under Cruciatus was something entirely different. No, he would never forget, but that still did not aid him in this predicament.

"The Dark Lord poisoned me," Severus hissed. "How am I supposed to take this standing up when this poison will have my lying in a coffin in a presumed matter of mere days? A retaliation will gain me nothing, especially since there is no known cure. I have accepted my fate. Why can't you?"

Leaning back in his seat, Harry squeezed his eyes shut briefly. Deep down, he knew this was none of his business, that he had absolutely no reason for arguing. But he just couldn't sit back and accept this. Loathe as he was to admit it, and he would never admit it aloud, the Potions professor was not that bad. Sure, his personality could use a revamp, but he shouldn't be condemned to an early death. No one should. "Too many people have unnecessarily died as it is," he answered quietly. "Your death would be both unnecessary and unfortunate."

Severus's onyx eyes regarded the teen warily, searching them for any signs of deceited emotions, but all he observed was the truth. No matter what he may have always thought about Harry Potter, he knew that the boy was much stronger than anyone gave him credit for. The majority of wizards, basically those not in his closest circle of friends, didn't realize the burden that Harry had to carry from years of staving off the Dark Lord's attacks. Even though his life was constantly in danger, he worried about other people's welfare. Severus supposed he should feel honored that Potter cared about his well-being, but years of animosity between the two wouldn't quite allow it. "While your Gryffindor compassion touches my heart, I feel the need to remind you that there is nothing to be done," he clipped tersely, watching in satisfaction as Potter scowled.

"Actually, I may have an idea."

Both arguers turned their startled attention to the headmaster at these words. In all of their sniping, they had forgotten his presence.

Eyeing him suspiciously, Severus couldn't help but allow the tiniest glimmers of hope to manifest in his stomach. He inclined his head, indicating for Dumbledore to explain.

"There is a potion you can take which will suspend your body in time, exactly as it is right now," Dumbledore began, steepling his fingers and pointing them at Severus. "In doing this, the poison will halt in its affecting you, thus allowing for safe preservation until a cure is found."

Severus was quite surprised. And grateful. This was something he hadn't even considered, namely due to the tiny fact that he was unaware that such a potion existed. Shouldn't his being a potions master allow him the knowledge of potions such as this?

Noticing his surprise, Dumbledore plowed on. "There were only two batches ever made. The first was used on the maker as a tester, and the second was bestowed upon me for safekeeping. As the ingredients used are long since lost and forgotten, another batch can never be made."

"And you want to use it on me?" Severus asked with raised eyebrows. If it was such a rarity, then surely it would be more prudent to save for someone more worthy of it.

Apparently Dumbledore had been expecting this sort of reaction and told the man in a stern voice, "Hogwarts cannot function without its resident potions master." He held Severus's gaze for a long time before the other man simply nodded and looked away thoughtfully.

Harry watched the entire exchange with confused interest. Judging from the way the inevitable argument was quickly settled, they must have had this debate before. And quite obviously, the headmaster always won.

"Um, I hate to be the one to bring this up, but who is going to be working on finding a cure?" Harry asked hesitantly.

"There are wizards who would be obliged to help. Other potions masters, if you will," Dumbledore explained reassuringly. "Don't worry, dear boy, we will find a cure."

Harry couldn't help but relax slightly at Dumbledore's confident words. The man was so sure about things that his optimism was catching. But as he glanced at Snape's indifferent expression, Harry frowned. Why did he--Harry--seemed much more heartened by the prospect of a cure than Snape himself? There was definitely some room for a role reversal.

His thoughts were interrupted when Dumbledore asked, "Harry, would you so kindly go to the infirmary and ask Madam Pomfrey to arrange a bed? We will be along shortly."

"Yes, sir." Harry rose from his seat, sparing a glance at Snape, who seemed completely oblivious to the Gryffindor's presence. He ducked out the door just in time to hear the conversation immediately pick up again.

"Now, Severus, don't--"

"Don't what? Don't be realistic?" Snape's voice rose, a hint of anger lacing through the bitterness.

Harry made to leave but couldn't quite will his feet to move. He wanted to hear what the two would say.

"You and I both know that the other potions masters are too busy with their own projects to take on one such as this. I refuse to burden--"

"You are a burden to no one," Dumbledore interrupted firmly in a voice that left no room for argument. "I told Harry the truth; I wasn't just trying to ease his worries over your situation."

"Rubbish!" Snape scoffed. "Potter reserves his worry for trivial matters such as Quidditch and how many fans ask for his autograph each week."

Harry didn't stick around to hear any more. Even if the man was potentially dying, that was no reason to stick it to Harry when he wasn't even there to send jibes back! Shaking his head, he took off for the infirmary.
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"Can I get you anything else? A glass of water, perhaps?"

"No, thank you."

"An extra pillow?"

"No."

"Or maybe a blanket? Sometimes it gets--"

"For Salazar's sake, Poppy, stop bumbling about!" Severus growled in irritation at the Mediwitch who had been fussing over him for the past five minutes.

Looking scandalized, she harrumphed and mustered up her best glare before retreating to her office and slamming the door.

Chuckling at the exchange, Dumbledore shifted in his seat to face Severus. "Poppy was just trying to make you comfortable."

"What does comfort matter? I'll be as good as dead while under that potion," he replied sourly. He loathed being doted on almost as much as being in helpless situations. And this was pretty much as helpless as things got.

"Severus. Severus, look at me." When the younger man reluctantly turned his way, he said softly, "I will not give up on this. I've already made arrangements to devote some of my best resources to the project."

Before he could ask about these resources, Madam Pomfrey entered the room once again, carrying a stabilizing potion. As she knew more about how the body reacted to potions, she informed them that this potion was necessary to make sure his body could handle the other potion without shutting down immediately, as ingredients in potions made in earlier times tended to be much more potent.

Eyeing the potion with distaste, Severus downed the contents of the vial in one sharp swallow. Years of practicing a Slytherin lifestyle kept him from making a face at the foul taste. He could never really get used to the taste of potions, even after years of brewing and testing them.

As Dumbledore held a smaller vial out to him, Severus gulped. He took the vial and was amazed to see his fingers trembling.

"It will take a few moments to kick in," Dumbledore explained. He watched the other man scrutinizingly, adding, "You will know nothing in this state, and you will wake up in the same state in which you fell asleep, your wake followed immediately by administration of the antidote." He smiled gently. "We'll try to make the passage as swift as possible."

"Headmaster, I... Thank you," Severus finished, drinking the potion. This time he did make a face, unable to stop himself. He could already feel the liquid coursing through his blood, slowing down his movements, embracing his vital organs. With a slight nod, he mumbled, "Make it swift."

At a knock on the door, the headmaster rose from his seat and left Severus to his thoughts. This wouldn't be so bad. He had lived a moderately full life. Sure, his days were ending at the age of thirty-six, but that was fine. Although he'd never admit it aloud, he'd had some enjoyable moments at Hogwarts. He was especially fond of taking points away from Gryffindor and a certain member of its House... who happened to now be sitting in the chair next to his bed. "What..."

"I asked Professor Dumbledore if I could speak with you for a moment," Harry explained as the other man's eyes darkened. Wringing his hands nervously under the intense glare, he murmured, "I just wanted to tell you not to worry, because we will figure out how to bring you back and cure you."

Severus couldn't help but sneer, even though his face felt leadened. "Not to worry, hmm? Exactly what kind of expert are you at Potions, Potter? I do so believe the only reason you pass my class at all is because of Miss Granger's constant meddling."

Harry frowned at these words briefly, only to recover with a bright smile. "I have a lot to learn then, don't I? Especially since I offered to help the headmaster work on a cure." He sat back and waited for the words to sink in, watching in amusement as Snape's expression turned to one of disbelief, then horror, and finally settling on anger.

"You will do no such thing!" he hissed, words slurring.

"Oh, but Professor Dumbledore already agreed, sir. He thought it was a brilliant idea." Harry was quite enjoying this taunting.

"Why, you little--"

"Now, now, sir. Don't want to say anything you'll regret after waking up from that little sleep of yours, do you?" Harry winked.

"That's it! One--"

But the words fell silently from his lips as he collapsed back against the bed, eyes closed, unmoving.

And so ticks away the clock, Harry thought to himself. He noticed one of Snape's arm dangling off the side of the bed. Reaching over, he crossed the arm over his chest. On impulse, he patted Snape's hand awkwardly and murmured, "See you again." And then he was gone.

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Thus begins the drama! I'm ultimately a fluff writer. While I do enjoy a healthy dose of angst, I try to keep it at a minimum and use it only when necessary. Of course, I do realize that this coupling will be far from fluffy, but I'll definitely have my fun with the sarcasm.

Please review! I do so love to know what you guys think, and I greatly appreciate and rely on what you tell me. Aww, hell, even if you don't review, I appreciate you reading anyway. Until next chapter, then!