Title: Stormy Weather
Author: PD Boggart
Disclaimer: Not mine
Archive: Sure. Spoilers: PS/SS, GOF, HBP (if you count locations…)
Summary: A teacher, a student, a cup of tea, a thunderstorm, a brand. SS,HP A/U gen
A/N: The title comes from the Art Tatum song I had on in the background for inspiration.
Surreal, that was how Harry would describe the scene before him, surveying the room from behind the safety of a teacup.
A booming clap of thunder interrupted the steady pattering of rain on the glass and the sidewalk beyond Spinner's End, lighting up the somberly lit parlor, and causing Harry to flinch. Outside, the occasional clink of raindrops falling into a metal pan joined the sound of the pouring heavens.
And all the while, Snape had Art Tatum playing.
Truthfully, Harry had been more than a little surprised to learn of the dour Potion Master's music preference. He didn't seem the sort to enjoy any music, let alone jazz. The music could be both extremely upbeat, and extremely melancholy, sometimes both at once, oddly enough.
He had asked.
"The complexities, Potter."
Well, Harry supposed that made sense. The man was nothing if not complex himself.
And that was that. Admittedly, the stark contrast between the music and the downpour outside was strangely soothing. Besides, the oddness was slightly counterbalanced by his discovery of classical in Snape's collection. Chopin, Handel, Vivaldi, and even a Dvorak record or two were ferreted away between the likes of Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis, and Oscar Peterson.
Harry jumped as another crack of thunder reverberated near the house.
"Surely you've been in a thunderstorm before, Potter," Snape said disdainfully, his own tea turning stone cold as he perused a potions annual.
Harry frowned, of course he had. He twisted the tea cup in his had, running a finger over the green, ivy pattern. A large part of those storms had been spent in his cupboard, trying to fall asleep. He'd been deathly afraid of them as a child, not that his Aunt and Uncle had cared -- not like they had when Dudley was afraid.
He winced slightly at the connection between the memory and the present, burying himself in the large armchair.
Luck was not with Harry; Snape noticed and narrowed his eyes thoughtfully.
Sometimes Harry wondered if this Snape or the one from school was worse. The clipped answers and shallow tolerance, the glares and suspicion of resentment lurking within the older man made Harry miserable, more so than a mean, spiteful Snape. It was like being at the Dursley's, but without the blessing of being ignored.
Not to mention that Snape seemed to have an uncannily easy time catching Harry off guard. "No."
In retrospect, his surprise must have looked like guilt. Snape raised an eyebrow, pointing his wand to Harry's sleeve, which promptly rolled itself up.
The dark mark, branded by Voldemort himself in vindictive glee, stood out starkly against red-welted skin.
"You have been scratching it again," Snape observed dryly.
Harry pulled his sleeve back down angrily, "So?"
The Potion's Master's lips thinned, "Thus you haven't been taking the potion to dampen the magical connection."
"I don't like it," Harry said, raising his cup to his mouth. "It makes me drowsy." He left the implied, "and prone" unspoken.
Snape snorted irritably. "Honestly, Potter, I would not rescue you from the Dark Lord, drug you, and then drag you back," he paused. "You do the Headmaster a disservice -- he who was concerned so greatly about the repercussions the mark and scar might bring in conjunction with one another."
Harry set the teacup down, and fingered the hem of his sleeve, feeling the black eyes bore into him, but unwilling to meet them. Snape was right of course, and Harry couldn't stand that, not when the dislike and worry of vulnerability still ebbed within him.
Lightning once again filled the room with radiance, thunder splitting the air, and again Harry jumped.
"For goodness sake, Potter," Snape snapped. "Perhaps no one bothered to tell you, knowing it would go in one ear and out the other, but you are perfectly safe so long as you remain indoors, and decline taking any impromptu walks."
Longer, angrier insults -- Harry could deal with this. He waited, hoping for a snipe about Gryffindor foolishness, but none came. Harry bit his lip; Snape surveyed him, spitefully curious, over the drooping page of his annual.
"Your Aunt and Uncle did lecture you on storms, did they not?"
"Yes." Briefly, he wondered if feigning idiocy was better than telling Snape the truth.
Snape huffed in annoyance, eyes returning to his reading, "No they didn't."
Harry's eyes widened. How--?
"One does not need to be a skilled Legilimens to read the look on your face, boy."
He actually flushed, picking up his cup again, despite its emptiness. He forced his focus to fall within it, away from Snape and his embarrassment.
The horrible man was smirking. Harry felt as though a blow to that hooked nose would do the older wizard a world of good -- not that attacking his guardian pro tempore would be a wise move.
"I will endeavor to enlighten you."
Harry glared at him.
And suddenly, Snape lost the bite, falling into the realm of facts, explaining electrical phenomenon, and lightning rods.
Strangely enough, much as Harry tried to tune the Potion Master out, having heard some of it in primary school, he found himself grasping onto Snape's words. It wasn't exactly the way the Dursleys had hugged little Dudley, and patted him on the back. But it wasn't ridicule either. It was a small grace, but nonetheless, Harry took it.
Another thunderous explosion, followed in quick succession by another, and sounding quite close, caused Harry to flinch. It was better than jumping, but Snape still scowled.
"Heaven help us if the Dark Lord finds out about this."
Harry immediately protested, "It's not usually--" but his voice died, and his eyes turned to stare out the window. The rain lashing against the panes turned the glass to molten silver.
"Not usually what?" Snape pressed. "This bad?"
Harry shrugged, and was unnerved when Snape fell silent.
"It may very well be a side-effect from having the mark forced on you."
Harry let one of his eyes regard Snape, head still turned, seeing only a blurry black mass in his peripheral vision.
"V--he's making me like this?" Harry asked skeptically.
One of Snape's long fingers rested on his thin lips, "No. From the act itself."
Harry looked surprised, "Why is that?" As an afterthought he added, "Sir?"
There was a spell of silence, "Because I experienced such, even though I took it willingly."
Complexities. They were so wondrously interesting, and yet devilishly frustrating. Harry wanted to ask just what had happened, and yet feared snapping the proffered olive branch.
Snape set his magazine aside, "I freely admit that when the Headmaster suggested this, I loathed the idea, and was fully prepared to deny his request." He looked up, resting his chin on his laced, sallow fingers. "But, as the Headmaster so succinctly put it, there is no other choice. This is not like Occlumency."
Odd really, that the mark burned on both their arms would force the Potions Master to overlook the one James had left.
Unfortunately, Harry did not have a chance to reflect on this further. His left arm seized up, and his forehead split open in agony. The pain was incredible, and Harry knew Dumbledore had been right to fear what would happen. It was worse than the Cruciatus.
Dimly, he heard steps, but couldn't be sure if they were leaving or drawing closer.
Finding it hard to breath, Harry tried to focus on that, but the pain made taking anything more than short gasps virtually impossible. The room was spinning, and a strange freezing, absent of numbness, was creeping in around the pain.
Then, quite suddenly, he felt a warm hand on his upper arm, and another propping him up, coaxing him to drink something that smiled vile. It tasted worse, bitter, and it felt like sludge, not potion, was running down his throat. And then another came, tasting like fish and ginger, with the consistency of tomato juice; it was only mildly better than the first.
Mercifully, the effects were almost immediate; his confusion lifted, and while his breathing was still ragged, it was deeper, and closer to normal. Harry found that somehow he had traveled out of his chair and on to the floor in front of it. Snape, Harry was alarmed to see, was kneeling by his side, still supporting him, and observing the boy with a look that would put Madam Pomfrey to shame.
"What were those?" Harry croaked.
"An anesthetic and mild paralytic to stop your convulsions."
"Oh," Harry rubbing his arms.
"Are you cold?"
Snape got up, returning with a blanket, and wrapping it around the fallen youth.
"Why didn't it affect you?" Harry asked weakly.
Snape smirked, "Unlike you, Mr. Potter, I have been dampening the bond."
"You don't seem groggy," Harry grumbled bitterly.
"That is because I have only one connection, giving me more options than you."
"Yes, Potter, bugger," Snape repeated, hands on Harry's shoulders, watching the boy's pupils dilate. Under any other circumstance, when the next peel of thunder boomed, Harry would have been embarrassed. As it was, the hands, barely perceptible as it was, tightened reassuringly.
It was another little grace, and it made everything so complex.
"Potter--" Like the hands, there was the tiniest hint of compassion and long-suffering in the stern voice. "Honestly, I do believe that even if you went outside right now, or hopped about madly in an open field begging to be struck dead, whatever gods may exist would spare you, if only to spite me."
Snape, Harry thought wryly, had an interesting sense of humor, but was terrible at consolation. And although he still didn't have to like Snape, or vice versa, Harry found he had a growing trust in the older wizard.
The sound of a piano drifted in and out, weaving itself around the sounds of the storm, and Harry closed his eyes, savoring the moment, thinking about this trust, and what he would have to do now. When green peeked out from behind his glasses again, Harry was startled to see a hint of concern swimming to the surface under Snape's austere veneer. It quickly disappeared behind a scowl.
Harry struggled to pick himself up, but the residue of the pain had left his muscles feeling weak and atrophied. He wobbled and fell back on his heels.
"Where do you think you're going, Mr. Potter?"
"To get my potion, sir," Harry said, carefully keeping his voice even.
He watched Snape roll his eyes, and mumble something about Gryffindors never listening until pain was involved. Harry tried to stand again, only to feel Snape help him up -- and then push him back into the chair.
"Stay, Potter. I don't want you dropping it, and making me work needlessly. I will fetch it for you."
Harry watched the black robed figure retreat through a doorframe, down the hall. The normally sun-faded wallpaper Snape passed was grim looking, faintly illuminated by the window, and at the same time shadowed by streaks of rain.
Harry settled into the armchair, rewrapping the blanket around him more tightly, and waited for Snape to return.
Little graces, he decided, were still sweet.