Severus pulled his wand out and began to assess Harry's wounds. It was obvious the boy was suffering from an acute attack of the after effects of the Cruciatus, along with bizarre sores all over his face and hands. The extreme frigid air was not helping matters as it just made his breathing much more labored. The tired teen's face was a mass of swollen bruises with a lower lip that bled down his chin.
The stoic potion master's hands shook as he wiped blood off his son's chin. Harry looked up at him at that moment and their eyes connected; for a flash of a moment Severus saw into Harry's memories. The memory was fleeting but so very powerful. Harry had been in the throes of the Cruciatus curse. More disturbingly he was struggling to hold back from screaming. A flash of Vernon and Hedwig flashed into view before the memory was gone
The boy had pulled forth his lessons from Privet Drive in order to keep from screaming. The reason for the bloody lower lip was now clear.
"Harry, you refused to scream in front of Voldemort?" Severus asked incredulously. Foolish Gryffindor bravery.
Harry nodded and swiped more blood from his chin.
"Why?" Severus asked appalled at the dangerous game his son had played with the most evil wizard of their time. He was even more disturbed over Dursley's punishments being called forth by Harry to help the boy hold back from making noise.
"Because he wanted me to scream," Harry painstakingly whispered out, "I didn't want to give him the satisfaction."
"Idiot boy," Severus gently admonished. A small nagging feeling grew deep inside; would Harry revert back to holding in his emotions once again? The consequences would be devastating. He could only imagine the horrors the wounded teen had just lived through but to bottle all that up would surely be too overwhelming for a boy to live with.
"Well, you need not hold back from expressing your pain any longer," the Professor advised hoping his son might let his guard down now. When the boy just stared back at him with a blank expression he knew they might be facing bigger issues down the road.
Severus frowned before pointing his wand up in the air and calling out, "Periculum!" The spark of fire flew out of his wand and lit up the night sky. The ministry officials and Order members would now be aware of their location and couldapparate directly to them. Within moments Aurors began apparating straight to the magical lake. Tonks was the first to arrive and ran across the slippery ice to get to them.
"Is Harry okay?" Tonks asked as she knelt down on the other side of Harry.
"I believe he will recover. I must get him to Poppy," Severus said and bundled Harry closer to him.
"Dad, my wand," Harry whispered out in a gravelly voice. "Fell in the lake, I think."
"I'll find it Harry," Tonks offered as she patted the weary teen on the arm. Harry rewarded her with a small smile.
"You did it Harry! Voldemort is dead," Tonks said with delight.
"Yeah, I know. I was there," Harry answered back with a cheeky grin.
Several more Aurors and Unspeakables apparated in. By the time Severus scooped up Harry and stood to leave, the place was crowded with much excitement over finding the missing teen.
Shacklebolt advised apparating directly to the gates of Hogwarts to avoid the backed up floo. It seemed word had already gotten out that Voldemort was dead and many people began celebrating.
Severus held his son close to his chest as he apparated directly to the gates of Hogwarts.
The Potion Master was unprepared for the onslaught of reporters waiting to get a glimpse of The-Boy-Who-Lived. That fact alone forced him to change his mind and decide not to use a locomotor to get Harry up to the school. Instead he gathered Harry closer to his chest, draping his own cloak over the boy's shivering form and blocking any view the reporters might have of the injured teen. Utilizing his most dangerous glower he plunged into the group of reporters on his way up to the castle gates.
"Stop! Is that Harry Potter? Is he alright!"
"Is Harry Potter dead!
"Is it true, did Potter really kill Voldemort?"
"Wait; give us a glimpse of the-boy-who-lived!"
The reporters were relentless but Severus ignored them all and stayed the course to the gates. He could feel Harry violently shivering against his chest but did not think it judicious to stop and address those problems at the present time. He was almost to the gates when Rita Skeeter stopped him by stepping directly in his path.
"Mr. Snape, will Harry live?" Rita audaciously inquired, completely impervious to the ex-Death Eater's glare.
Mr. Snape, indeed. "Yes. Now promptly step aside," Severus growled out as Harry shook beneath the cloak and clutched at his shirt with a death grip. He could feel the boy's fever through his clothes.
"Is he hurt? What exactly is wrong with him?" Skeeter asked as the Professor brusquely pushed past her.
Severus ignored the bothersome woman and swiftly stepped past the gates. He could hear the reporters calling out to him as they were effectively barred from entering onto the school grounds by the magical gates. He was half way up to the school when Harry clutched his robes tighter. He abruptly came to a halt and pulled the cloak back in time to see the boy stuff a fist into his mouth to silence any sounds that escaped.
"Do not hide your pain from me, son. Your suffering would make a grown man cry out," Severus admonished none too gently. He wished the boy would just stop trying to mask the agony he was in.
"Mm' okay," Harry whispered out thickly. His body shook with a mixture of the after effects of the Cruciatus and the pain the bitter cold had caused.
Severus snorted and shook his head. "We must have Madame Pomfrey assess you before I provide additional potions. Either, occlude the pain or cry out but stop trying to hide it," The Potion Master advised, wishing he could switch places with his son.
"I'll occlude," Harry answered back through clenched teeth. He closed his eyes pushing all other thoughts behind the stone wall in his mind. It worked for a few seconds but the pain broke though sending a new stream of agony coursing through his battered body. He bit his already tender lip to hold back from crying out.
He felt his father's grip tighten and heard Severus whisper words of comfort as they continued up to the school. All thoughts of his success over killing Voldemort had left him as he struggled to get through this bout of agony. He wished he could just pass out until the pain subsided.
They had just crossed over the bridge when a group of people came out to meet them. Severus could see the Minister make a beeline for them, even going so far as to step in front of the Headmaster himself to reach them first! That little man grated on his last nerve.
"Is Harry all right?" Fudge asked as he pulled Severus' cloak away from Harry to get a better view. Harry turned his head into his father's chest, burying his face in his scratchy shirt.
Severus would have hexed the man on the spot save for the fact that he didn't have his wand handy at the moment. He yanked the cloak back out of Fudge's hand and draped it over the teen once more.
"My son is in need of a medi-witch," Severus stated without going into details. When Fudge continued haranguing him with questions he felt his last nerve give way. Fortunately, Albus stepped in and successfully shut the annoying man up by port keying himself and Severus with Harry directly into the infirmary.
"Sorry about that Severus. How is Harry?" Albus asked with true alarm etched on his tired face.
Severus gave him a distressed look that said it all. Albus nodded and flicked his wand at the infirmary doors. The doors locked shut, effectively keeping out all who might try to get in.
Severus noticed the screened off bed in the furthest corner of the infirmary with a group of people behind the screen.
"Ginevra is also recovering here," Dumbledore informed quietly. Severus nodded but focused once more on his son.
He gingerly laid Harry down on the nearest bed, which also happened to be Harry's regular spot when he ended up in the infirmary. Harry screamed out in agony when his leg was straightened out, causing Severus to halt any further movement. Poppy came rushing over to rescue him before he further injured his son.
"Oh he's here! Thank Merlin you found him!" Poppy exclaimed bringing the Weasley's attention out from behind the screen.
"Harry's here!" Hermione cried out and ran from across the room followed by Ron.
The medi-witch waved her wand and successfully immobilized the leg from further movement. Severus stepped back to watch the medi-witch begin the arduous task of healing his boy. Poppy raised up her hand to stop Hermione from getting any closer.
"Let's give the boy some privacy while I examine him, shall we?" Poppy sternly stated as she erected a screen around Harry's bed with a flick of her wand.
"Is he alright?" Arthur asked and gave Severus a pat on the back.
"He will survive," Severus stated, oddly comforted by the man's presence. "How is Ms. Weasley?"
"She'll be fine after a few days rest." Arthur said then gave Severus an encouraging nod before escorting a reluctant Ron and Hermione back to Ginny's bedside.
As Poppy waved her wand over Harry, the boy's clothes disappeared leaving him in just his boxers. Albus, Severus and Poppy all took in a collective breath at witnessing the teen's battered body. He was covered in welts that looked to be blistered burns. His leg was a deep purple and twice as big as it should be. And if that wasn't bad enough his entire body quivered with the obvious after effects of the Cruciatus Curse. He was also suffering from a fever most likely brought on by his time spent at the magical lake.
"What happened to your leg Mr. Potter?" Poppy asked with underlying distress. She had never seen anything like that before. She ran her wand over the leg and knew that it was filled with dark magic.
"Voldemort," Harry answered through clenched teeth and watched as all three adults tried not to look too dismayed over hearing that. Poppy promptly went about casting healing spells with the help of Dumbledore. The spells made the Gryffindor feel even more contaminated as the dark magic seemed to spread. His head spun and he felt as if he might vomit.
Severus felt his anger boil in his veins over the state Harry was in. He turned on his heel and began pacing in the small screened off area until he heard the injured teen call out for him.
"Dad?" Harry looked up as the room continued to spin. Every single part of his body throbbed in pain.
"Hush son, everything will be fine," Severus whispered as he took hold of the boy's hand. He helped Poppy administer the many potions to the wounded boy. There were so many potions to counteract all the damage that had been inflicted.
After several strong potions Harry's breathing became easier and his stomach settled down a bit. He closed his eyes hoping to sleep the pain away. Poppy flicked her wand and Harry was dressed in the infirmary pajamas he knew so well. A soft blanket was swiftly tucked around him by the efficient medi-witch. Within moments he nodded off into a potion induced slumber. No dreams to wake his troubled soul.
Severus sat the entire night by the bed, ignoring his own need for sleep. When the sun began to rise he felt a warm hand gripping his shoulder and realized he must have nodded off.
Albus waited for Severus to fully wake up before he said, "I must show you something."
Severus was hesitant to leave Harry's side but the headmaster looked as if it may be important. He quickly cast a glance around the screen and down at the far end of the room. The Weasley clan seemed to realize the need to leave Harry alone so he reluctantly followed the headmaster.
Albus led him into Poppy's office and pointed to the pensieve on the desk, "Those are Nott's memories of last evening. Apparently Shacklebolt stopped a dementor from giving the man 'the kiss'. Nott is the only other person to witness the events that took place in the graveyard, save for a few Death Eaters that fled. The memory was still intact. Shacklebolt took it as he escorted the man to the ministry."
Severus looked down at the bowl with inscriptions of runes written on the rim. With a deep breath he stuck his face into the bowl.
The scene before him made him sick with the realization over what his son had suffered through. He was standing in the graveyard and watched as Harry was being tortured. He saw everything. He saw Voldemort cast the first Cruciatus and could see the Death Eaters cheer. His heart broke when Harry bravely defended him to Voldemort. He saw Bella cast a dark arts spell that he had never heard before. He watched as Malfoy strung his son up and saw the fear in his Harry's eyes. He could only imagine the torture the boy was going through over being tied up like that. He also noted the way his son never made a sound. He watched as Ginevra Weasley almost killed Harry and the brave act his son took of sending her away at his own cost. The price had been heavy indeed. Now he knew how Harry had acquired the bruises on his face. The memory ended abruptly as Knott was knocked out by that incredible magic coming from his son.
Severus found himself standing next to the pensieve once more. His heart twisted in grief over witnessing such events. It was a miracle the boy could still function after being tortured so violently. He was so angry at himself for not being there to help. Guilt consumed him. He should have kept the boy from harm.
"I revealed the memory so you would understand how to help Harry recover," Dumbledore said in a soft deliberate voice.
That pulled Severus out of his self loathing and helped him to focus on the real task at hand. Yes, he had to be there to pick up the pieces. He had to be there to help put Harry back together. It was his job, his responsibility as the boy's father. His promise to Lily still so fresh in his mind. He gathered his emotions before making his way back to the bedside of his son.
When he stepped around the screen he saw that Harry was still sleeping.
Harry looked better, not quite so shaky and pale. Severus placed a hand on the sleeping teen's forehead. The fever was almost gone. He slumped into the chair and tried to forget the scenes he had just witnessed. He couldn't help but to focus on the fact that his son almost died.
His thoughts turned to the damage that had been inflicted on the boy, forcing him to get up and begin pacing once more. Just the thought of the Death Eaters torturing his son made his hands shake with rage. He looked over at the bed and realized the boy was awake and had been watching him, studying him.
"You're mad," Harry stated in a soft voice.
Severus stopped pacing and gave him a curt nod.
"At me?" came the worried voice of the teen.
"No," Severus answered, then added, "Perhaps a bit… but my anger is directed at the ones who did this to you."
A brief pause before …
"They're dead," Harry said in a soft voice, hoping it wasn't all just a bad dream, that the deed had truly been done.
"Indeed," Severus said and took his seat by the bed once more. "Yes, they are dead."
"I killed him," Harry said in a haunted voice, void of pride or happiness. He scrunched down under the covers and squeezed his eyes closed. Voldemort's red eyes looking up, void of life continued to haunt him. He was a killer now. Even though a curse had not been cast he had still killed someone with his magic. He felt so dirty, so dark.
Harry heard his father call to him but couldn't face the man. He had to push this all behind that stone wall in his mind, bury it deep inside before it took over.
"Harry James Potter, you stop that this instant!" Severus commanded. He knew what was happening. He could tell the boy was internalizing this, making it his fault. Taking the blame as he had been taught to do since he was a young child.
"No, Severus! You don't understand. I killed someone!" Harry shouted then rolled to his side with his back to his father.
Severus brusquely took hold of Harry's shoulder and pulled him back so they could look each other in the eye.
"No, Harry. I will not let you do this. You killed a beast that took pleasure in killing innocent people. The monster that killed your parents, the monster that caused Black to die, Cedric and hundreds of other people who were good and true. You are to be commended, not condemned! I will not let you condemn yourself," Severus stated in no uncertain terms. He would not stand by and watch his son turn against himself for something he had no choice in doing.
"I know all that but… I killed someone," the last part spoken in a near whisper. Harry felt so contaminated over what he had done.
"Yes, but not by your choosing," Severus said with resolve.
Just then Albus stepped around the screen with a smile, "Ahh, you're awake! Harry, you accomplished a great feat! The whole wizarding world is celebrating!"
Harry glared at the headmaster, not wanting anyone to congratulate him for becoming a murderer.
Dumbledore's face became more serious, "You had no choice."
"I don't want to talk about it anymore!" Harry yelled out. His leg throbbed with pain, pulsating with dark magic. "Can't you do something 'bout this leg?" He spat out irritably and glared at both men.
Severus gave him a reproachful scowl before gently folding the covers back to reveal the purple swollen limb. He placed a hand on the leg and felt an odd sensation touch his magic, something dark was beneath the skin. "Voldemort used a curse I do not recognize."
Albus placed his hand on Harry's lower leg then closed his eyes. Harry and Severus watched as the man recited words chanted in a long forgotten language. The headmaster opened his eyes and frowned, "I believe the spell used was quite old. I will need some time to investigate the curse."
"How long?" Harry growled out rudely. Severus raised an eyebrow at him but he chose to ignore the silent reprimand.
"Rest assured, I will work in the utmost haste my boy," Dumbledore kindly declared. He offered a reassuring pat on the foot and pulled Harry's wand out of his robe.
"Tonks spent all night searching for it," Albus said as he handed the wand to Harry, then disappeared behind the screen once more.
Harry squirmed under his father's glower and placed the wand on the nightstand.
"Perhaps you are hungry?" the potion master asked, knowing Harry usually did not act so insolently towards the headmaster.
"Food is the last thing I need. I just want to get home," Harry replied in a surly tone of voice as he pushed his glasses onto his face.
Severus noticed Harry scratching at his scar and pushed the hair back to get a better look at it. The scar had already begun to fade.
Harry pushed his father's hand away and sat up.
"I need to get out of here," The Gryffindor suddenly announced. He begun to swing his legs over the side of the bed but stopped when his father pushed him back down against the pillows.
Severus wasn't quite sure what was wrong with the boy but certainly did not think it wise for him to go traipsing all over the school in his condition. "Harry, you have suffered a great deal. You must allow your body time to heal."
Just then Ron and Hermione stuck their heads around the screen. "May we talk with Harry?" Hermione asked with caution. Severus nodded and left the three teens alone. After all the boy had been through he may need some time to work this out.
Hermione immediately grabbed hold of Harry and hugged him. Ron stood next to her and roughly patted him on the back. "Good job, mate," Ron offered.
"Good job?" Harry repeated with contempt. He shook his head and closed his eyes, closed out the adoration he could clearly see written on both Gryffindor's faces.
"Harry, what's wrong?" Hermione asked and took a seat on the edge of the bed.
Harry scrubbed at his face with his hands, "Just… I don't know, just that I feel … I feel dark." There he said it.
"You mean you feel evil?" Ron asked incredulously. "Harry, that's the thickest thing you've ever said! You just killed Voldemort, for crying out loud!"
Harry threw his arm up over his head and stared up at the ceiling. Nobody could understand the feelings he had eating away at his soul.
"It must have been horrible," Hermione said sympathetically.
"Yeah and I'm sure it didn't help to have Ginny try and kill you?" Ron tactlessly added. Hermione shot him a look that made him re-think his last statement.
Harry covered his face with his hands at the memory of Ginny cursing him with the Avada Kadavra. "Is she okay?" he asked from behind his fingers.
Hermione was ready to strangle her boyfriend over his insensitivity. "She's getting better. Voldemort didn't hurt her or let anyone else hurt her but she's still pretty shaken by the whole experience."
"I expect she should be," Harry said quietly. The thought of Voldemort getting so close to actually marrying Ginny made him want to hit something. He couldn't even imagine how she felt about the whole ordeal but figured she needed time to recover too. Bloody hell, he needed to get out of here and let some steam off. His anger boiled with the thought of Voldemort touching Ginny.
"Every time she wakes up she starts getting so hysterical that Pomfrey has to fill her up with more potions," Ron said. "It's a good thing you came when you did Harry. Mum and Dad think you're brilliant. They can't stop talking about you."
Great! Harry thought with contempt, now even the Weasley's would treat him like a super hero!
Just then Madame Pomfrey stepped in carrying a tray of breakfast foods, "Sit up Mr. Potter. It is time to eat."
"Not hungry," the irritable teen mumbled out still looking up at the ceiling. He failed to spot the arrival of his father now standing at the foot of his bed.
"Mr. Potter, if you wish to get better you must take nourishment. The whole wizarding world is waiting out there to congratulate you. Now sit up and eat," Poppy said and placed the tray on his nightstand. She began to magically plump the pillows Harry had his head on, forcing the teen to sit up.
That irritable dark feeling ate away at him. "Just leave me alone!" Harry snarled out and flung the tray to the floor with a loud crash. Food hit the white screens along with his friends. The medi-witch took in a sharp breath and nervously looked at the teen.
"Mr. Potter is not fit for company at this time," Severus declared sternly with a threatening eyebrow raised.
Harry sat up, suddenly realizing what he just did. He gave his father a sheepish look before awkwardly trying to clean up the mess from his bed.
"Harry, I can do it," Hermione offered hesitantly then waved her wand as she recited a wash up spell. The mess disappeared but the unease remained.
"Please leave us," Severus stated in an ominous tone as he kept his fixed stare on his son. He waited for the Gryffindors to scuttle out of the partitioned room. Madame Pomfrey looked nervous as well and seemed to scurry out with haste.
Harry looked at him with all the guilt and self loathing a boy could marshal. Severus sat down in the chair next to the bed and grabbed hold of Harry's chin.
"You will not behave with such inappropriate behavior again. Hero or no, you will begin to conduct yourself with decorum."
Harry scowled over being called 'hero' by his own father but nodded his head, "I'm sorry sir."
Severus released the boy's chin, "You may apologize to Madame Pomfrey after you eat." He flicked his wand and another tray of food appeared. He thrust the tray at his son.
Harry didn't want to eat but after his embarrassing display he decided not to protest. Once he started eating he realized how hungry he really was. He was almost finished eating when Severus finally spoke.
"What brought on that distasteful display of conduct?"
Harry shook his head and pushed the tray away, "I dunno. I just hope everyone doesn't start treating me differently."
"You might as well get used to it for the foreseeable future," Severus affirmed.
"You called me a hero too," Harry accused in that same surly tone he adopted of late.
"Shut up and take a nap," Severus bit out with irritation as he sent the tray to the kitchens with a tap of his wand.
A smile slowly spread across Harry's face, "I guess telling me to shut up balances out calling me a hero."
"Do not fear, I will not become one of your obsequious admirers, son," the professor declared with disparagement, "As a matter of fact, your recent behavior must still be addressed, Mr. Potter."
"Mr. Potter?" Harry repeated out loud and looked up at his father's stringent face. He must be in big trouble to be called that.
"Harry," Severus said with less severity, "After speaking with Albus I feel we must assume the curse Voldemort shot at you was significantly more powerful than the average dark curse."
"You- you mean I-I acted like that because of the curse?" Harry asked with a panicked look. Oh, bloody hell, when was Voldemort going to be out of his life!
Severus placed a hand on Harry's shoulder, "No need to panic. However, until we find the counter curse I suggest you use extra care with being in command of your emotions."
Harry shook his head in denial but knew it was true, "No, no. I don't want to start acting like him."
"Calm down boy. You will not become the next Dark Lord."
Harry shot his father a look of horror before struggling to get out of the bed. He had to take a shower, wash off all the filth Voldemort cast at him.
"Where do you think you are going?" Severus asked as he tried to push Harry back onto the bed.
Harry pushed his father's hands away forcefully, "I have to shower. Just help me get to the washroom, Dad."
Severus thought he understood why this task had become so important to the teen. Whenever he had come back after attending a Death Eater meeting he also felt the strong desire to wash away the vestiges of evil. He took a firm hold of Harry's arm and lifted him into a standing position. The boy hissed out in pain as his leg straightened out.
Harry heavily leaned on his father all the way to the shower. He waited while the professor started the water in the shower for him, then left him with a curt nod. Once the door closed behind the professor he began to undress. This was the first time he had seen the damage done to his body. He cringed at the thought of those tiny spiders biting him, all the while doing his best to keep from looking at his leg.
The thought of Voldemort's dark magic being transferred into him had continually crossed his mind. He didn't feel evil or dark but … anything was possible when it came to Voldemort.
After the vigorous shower he felt much better. Severus must have brought him fresh clothes because when he stepped out of the shower they were waiting in a neat pile. He pulled the warm long sleeved shirt on then struggled into boxers and soft athletic pants. He used the wall to help support himself on the way back to his bed. He was utterly exhausted by the time he made it back to the infirmary bed but felt a million times better.
Madame Pomfrey bustled over with a tray of potions. After apologizing to the medi-witch and taking the potions Harry fell into a deep slumber.
He wasn't sure how long he had been sleeping but something brought him out of the nightmare that had been plaguing his sleep. Harry opened his eyes to find Ginny standing next to his bed. It startled him to the point of panic and he practically fell off the other side of the bed in his haste to move away from her. Of course it hadn't helped that the nightmare he had just been reliving was of Ginny pointing her wand at him and chanting 'Avada Kadavra' over and over.
His reaction startled Ginny and she stepped away from him as she clapped her hands to mouth. By this point Harry was on one side of the bed panting heavily and Ginny was on the other looking completely mortified.
"Um, I better go," Ginny said with distress and looked on the verge of tears.
"No! Stay," Harry quickly said when he came to his senses. He awkwardly made his way around the bed and stepped closer to Ginny. "I'm sorry bout that. It didn't mean anything."
Ginny didn't look very convinced over hearing that, "I'm sorry about… you know."
Harry put a hand on her arm and pulled her to him. She willingly wrapped her arms around him and began to cry. They hugged each other without saying anything further until she felt a bit calmer.
"Harry, I'm so sorry," Ginny began but Harry didn't let her finish.
"Gin, you don't have anything to be sorry about. It was him. It was just him," Harry said as he pushed her hair away from her face and kissed her cheek.
"Yeah, but you fought off the Imperius before so why wasn't I able to?"
Harry shook his head and grabbed both her hands in his, "It doesn't matter anymore. He's gone." He brought her hands up to his lips and kissed them. Fresh tears were rolling down her face and she looked so vulnerable. He raised his hand up to her face and wiped the tears away with his thumb.
He pulled her closer and kissed her gently on the lips as she wrapped her arms around him, grateful for the forgiveness he offered.
"Better?" Harry whispered into her soft hair.
Ginny nodded but tightened her grip on him, "Everyone knows what I almost did."
"How? Who told them?" Harry asked as anger coursed through him.
Ginny shrugged and shook her head, "It was in the Daily Prophet. My mum said it was probably someone in the ministry."
Harry stepped back away from his girlfriend and ran his fingers through his hair, "Damn it! Why can't people just keep their big mouths shut! Bloody hell!"
"The papers aren't all bad Harry. You're a hero now and Fudge said he always knew you'd defeat Voldemort all along."
Harry snorted with contempt, "Sure he did! That must have been the reason he almost let Umbridge kill me last year with those Dementors. I don't want to see any of those newspapers."
"Why not? You really are a hero, Harry! For Merlin's sake you saved us all," Ginny said emphatically.
Harry stepped back away from her, hating the way he felt. He didn't want to be around her right now. That look of veneration was just too much for him to take.
"I'm a little tired," Harry said and backed up to the bed. He saw the look of worry on Ginny's face but chose to ignore it.
"I-I kinda thought we could watch the fireworks together this evening," Ginny said with hope.
"Fireworks?" Harry asked and shot a look to the window. He suddenly realized the sun was almost set; he had slept most of the day.
Ginny shrugged, "Yeah, they're celebrating in Hogsmeade tonight. Ron said everyone is watching the fireworks from the Quidditch pitch. Dumbledore's even going to have a cake and butterbeer."
"Oh, I don't think Madame Pomfrey will let me go," Harry said, not wanting to have any part in the celebration. He looked down at his hands to avoid the hurt look he knew she'd be wearing.
Ginny looked as if she knew he was lying and stepped closer to the screen, "Okay, I guess I better let you rest then. Bye."
"Bye," Harry said without looking up. He felt horrible over treating Ginny that way but… he didn't think he could stand to be congratulated by everyone over what he did. Damn it! Why did he feel so plagued with anger over all this? He should be feeling elated, right?
He turned towards his bed and punched his pillow before flopping down onto it. Bloody hell, he had to get out of here. The last thing he wanted was to see his schoolmates looking at him with those big expectant eyes. Just the thought of it ate away at his nerves until he couldn't take it anymore. He reached into the nightstand drawer and took out the gold snitch Severus gave to him this morning. He said his father's name and released it into the air. The ball took off flying out the door.
Within moments Severus came walking into the screened room at a swift pace.
Severus stopped short when he saw the agitated state Harry was in, "What has happened?"
"Nothing, I'm fine," Harry said but didn't feel fine. "I want to go home."
"I do not believe that would be beneficial at this time," the potion master stated flatly.
"I don't care what's beneficial anymore. I just want to get the bloody hell out of here!" Harry screamed as irritation coursed through him. He threw the pillow at the screen, knocking it on its side with a loud crash.
Severus couldn't help but believe this belligerent behavior Harry displayed was being brought on by all the torment his son had suffered and was so fond of burying. The boy needed to release his emotions before the uncontrolled magic took over yet again.
He sat downby his son, harshly grabbing him by the shoulders, "What has happened to bring this untoward behavior about?"
"Nothing!" Harry yelled out trying to pull away from the professor's steel grip, to no avail. His shoulders sagged and he hung his head in shame, "I just want to get away from everyone. I don't want people looking at me with those stupid looks of awe."
Oh, now he understood. Severus knew that his son was trying to run away from this whole experience. Of course the looks Harry's friends gave him would remind him of the deed that had just been done. In turn forcing the boy to face the events that just took place. It became clear to him that Harry was trying to push the whole experience out of his mind, never to deal it again. Unhealthy as it was, it would be a temporary solution for the boy's pent up emotions. No, he couldn't allow that to happen this time. He'd already allowed Harry to bury so many other events this year.
They would face this head on …together, whether the troubled teen wanted to or not.
"Harry you were always destined to kill or be killed by Voldemort," Severus stated chillingly as Harry looked up at him sharply.
"No! No, shut up! I don't want to talk about this!" the upset teen exclaimed with fury. Harry struggled once again to be released from the iron grip on his shoulders.
"Harry! Stop that and listen," Severus admonished. He waited until the boy settled down a bit before going on, "Your parents died so you could live. If Voldemort had not died then you would have died. Your parents would have died for nothing. Is that the way you would repay them? Stop trying to hide from the feat you accomplished and begin to face it. The good and the bad need to be faced."
Harry shook his head violently, "No, no, I don't want to think about it."
The question was so simple but the answer was filled with a host of guilty feelings over what he was becoming. His chest hurt to breath and his throat tightened up, "I'm like him now. I killed, I murdered. I can't think about it anymore, please, please don't make me think about it."
"But you must," Harry's father said quietly and pulled his son to him. "You must."
Harry buried his face in his father's chest and let his guard down. He felt his eyes fill with tears and couldn't stop the emotions from coming any longer. He wrapped his arms around the professor, grateful he had someone to share his grief with. He cried for all that he had lost of himself that night in the graveyard. He cried for all that he had lost in life. He cried for his parents not being here to celebrate this day. He cried for all the people who gave their lives for this day to take place.
Severus held his son tighter and shared the deep anguish the boy was going through. His own eyes filled with tears over the torture the boy had been through this past year and the losses they had all suffered. His own guilt over his part in this war begun to fade. That word atonement came to mind once again. He was Harry Potter's father and Lily had trusted him enough to care for her son. His heart had been breached; the hard shell had finally been broken and cast away. He had allowed himself the luxury of being loved and to love back.
Yes, they both had a long road ahead of them but Severus had no doubts they would get through this and anything else that would come their way. He knew this to be true because he would never give up.
They stayed that way until the infirmary was shrouded in darkness as the sun set completely. A bright spark of light exploded in the black sky. Harry turned his face to see out the window but leaned against the father he had always wished for. He felt completely content to stay where he was. He felt a spark of hope for the future. He wasn't alone anymore; he had a father to help him get through this. All those years of yearning and hoping for a family had finally come true.
Another bright colorful light filled the sky, casting the infirmary in blue light.
"You see Harry," Severus said quietly, "the whole world is celebrating. Now it is your turn to live."
Harry smiled. Yes, it was time to live.
It has taken me over 200 hours to write this story ...the least you can do is review before you read the sequel ...please.
Sequel is up! But please stop and review before reading the sequel ... it only takes a minute and gives me the magic to continue writing for you.