Chapter 5: Trial and Error
Harry woke from a dead sleep and gritted his teeth against the pain in his legs. White hot shards of agony formed at his hips sockets and ran straight down the bone. A trickle of blood ran down his lip from where he'd bit down. This was the price of standing on his own two feet, as Snape had put it. Magical medicine was leaps and bounds ahead of its muggle counterpart, but that didn't mean they had the answers for everything. Medi-wizards could give a patient potions to reestablish some nerve connections, but the side effects were often nearly as bad as the afflictions themselves. In Harry's case, the potion enabled him have a little range of motion below his waist. He could force his legs to move forward slowly and, with the help of feather light braces, walk haltingly. However, he didn't have any real feeling from his navel down. He did get twinges of things. Thankfully, he was free from any of the muggle methods paraplegics went through with bladder function. He could also feel indistinct pressure on his legs if he were to bump against something. The downside was that the potion sometimes caused the nerves to rebel. When the pain came, there was absolutely nothing to do but bear it. After an hour or so, the pain subsided to a dull ache and Harry laid back in bed still sweating from the torture.
Waking up in St. Mungo's had been a nightmare for Harry. He had hoped that, when he closed his eyes on the battle field, he would never wake again. It wasn't just the pain that he feared, but also the desolation that he felt. Harry knew that nothing would ever be the same again. His world had been torn to shreds at the hands of a mad man. His best friend, his future, and even his hope were all gone. There had been a small group of devoted friends that had pulled for him. Hermione had been mostly responsible for him not committing suicide once he was able. Yet even with friends, he wasn't the same, and he knew that he never would be again.
Harry dragged himself upright in bed. A flick of his wand brought the wheelchair from across the room to his bedside. At times like this, Harry didn't have the strength or endurance to walk. Even in the wizarding world, the wheelchair was still the most practically way for many disabled people to get around. There had been a time when even the sight of the chair would send Harry into a rage, but now he had mostly resigned himself to using the thing on occasion. He slid himself into the seat and wheeled himself to the kitchen.
A long time ago, Mrs. Weasley had taught him to add just a drop of dreamless sleep potion to his tea when things were dire. He missed the motherly woman more than words could express. In fact, he missed all of the Weasleys that had died fiercely. The massacre at the Burrows was still one of the most infamous attacks on purebloods. Molly, Arthur, Charlie, Fred, and Ron had all been brutally tortured and murdered. Their corpses were so badly mangled that it had even made Moody loose his composure. The three living Weasleys—Percy had been officially disowned—never did recover from the tragedy. Ginny eventually married Neville, but her spark was a little less dazzling these days. As for Bill…Harry didn't know exactly how Bill was. He'd heard rumors about Bill going mad, but he didn't know for sure. George was probably the most devastated by the death of his twin. Harry could never forget the look in the man's eyes as he shakily met his gaze, and said, "I've never been alone before. We were always together." In truth, Harry and Hermione faired only marginally better than the remaining Weasleys. The trio was no more.
Harry pushed away the painful memories, and added a second drop to his cup. Tonight demanded just a bit more than usual, he reasoned. Though he was well aware of the addictive properties to the potion, it seemed less dangerous than his own demons.
In the morning, Harry was feelingly much the same as he had when he'd fallen asleep. It wouldn't be smart to attempt to use his braces today, and he wouldn't dream of leaving the house in his chair. He wrote a quick note to his co-workers telling them to forward his papers to his home, and gave it to the dark brown owl in its cage After Hedwig, he refused to become attached to a bird.
The day passed slowly. Honestly, work occupied very little of his time. His job wasn't exactly had to do. Stifling a yawn, he flipped the last folder open. One of these days, he would tell the ministry to shove it up their arse and go find something he really wanted to do. There had even been a time when he had considered taking the DADA position at Hogwarts, but the place held too many memories. He thumbed through the pages unenthusiastically.
A pop sounding in the living room got his attention. Godric's Hollow only allowed a select few people to come and go as they pleased. Harry imagined it was just Hermione. "I'm in the study, Mione!" he called.
"Granger is not here," a deep voice said from the door way.
Harry glared at Snape. The potions master was the last person he wanted to see him like this. "I thought it would be a month or more?" Harry demanded.
Snape shrugged. "Are you not feeling well?"
"Don't see why it matters to you," Harry grumbled.
"It doesn't, but I have quite a few questions to ask before I start pouring potions down your throat," Snape explained caustically. His eyes locked with Harry's coldly.
Harry closed his file, and sighed. "What do you want to know?"
Over the next half hour, Harry answered almost every conceivable question about his condition. He kept his replies brief. Mostly, a yes or no sufficed. There was no false kindness between the two. Both men were focused on a goal. The last question, however, put a snag in their forced partnership.
Snape raised a dark brow, and gave Harry an indiscernible look. "And what about sexual function?"
Immediately, heat rose to Harry's cheeks. "That's none of your business."
A snort escaped the older man. "I forget that you are barely more than a child. Does the topic of sex make you uncomfortable?"
"No, I just don't think it's any concern of yours whether or not I get laid," Harry managed to say through his clenched teeth. He felt like a fourteen year old caught with a dirty magazine.
"If you aren't going to cooperate, Potter, this isn't going to go well."
"Fine," Harry spat angrily. "I don't feel a bloody thing below my naval, and my cock utterly useless. Is that what you wanted to know?"
Snape's eyes didn't betray an once of emotion. "Close enough."
Harry's head was aching. Between his lack of sleep and the stress of Snape's visit, he was not at his best. "Was there anything else you wanted to know?"
"For now, no. I think your injuries may be harder to fix than I first thought. It may take me a bit longer to figure this out. Are you really prepared to allow me to test these potions on you?"
Harry's voice was barely a whisper: "yes."
"Then I will be back as soon as I find something."
Snape disapperated leaving a very weary Harry Potter sitting in his wheelchair with only his paperwork for company.