Chapter 14

When I woke up the day after the pain in my head had receded to a dull thud. The potions Madam Pomfrey had given me had made sure all broken or sprained bones in my body were healed. She knew her potions, and of course she knew her field, so when she had come to ask how I felt she had seen straight through my lies. Physically I was healthier than I had been in a long time, but still my stomach nearly wrenched itself inside out when I tried to get out of bed, and a cold sweat had erupted all over my body. She let me stay, even if she knew better.

'There are things potions and medicines just can't heal on its own,' she had told me as she put down a tray of lunch beside my bed. Just the sight of it made me retch miserably and I had to turn away when the smell reached my nose. 'It's all the potions that's making your stomach upset,' said Madam Pomfrey matter of factly, 'it will help if you settled it by eating something wholesome.'
I was sure she knew what she was talking about, but food really did seem like the last thing I needed, and so I let it stand there untouched.

Through yesterday and the night I had stared at the ceiling sufficiently to know every crack, every splotch and every spider and cobweb. My mind slipped away and even if I had healed from yesterday's events, there was nothing more desirable to me than sleep. And so I slept.

I slept through the first two classes of Muggle studies, and the two following after that. Severus would have to hand in our task alone. But he had done it all anyway so perhaps it was just as well that he would get the credit too. The image of him wrestling the book to the floor in the forbidden section of the library came unbidden to my mind, and it made me smile just as tears burned behind my eyes. Curling up in fetal position, I fell asleep again.

The sound of steps and voices carried me out of my dreamless sleep and I cracked open one swollen eye. A boy, something in the back of my mind told me he was a Ravenclaw, was being held upright by his friends. His nose was bleeding and his robes were badly ripped and covered in dirt. Typical quidditch wounds. He must have been the new third year ravenclaw seeker. Quite a promising prodigy, we were all eager to see how far he could go even if staying on the broom seemed to be too difficult for him.

Madam Pomfrey came rushing out of her office, much like she had done for me time and again, to help direct the boys so they could put their hurt friend on a proper bed. The movements had made him white as a sheet but he said not a word. Tough guy.

'Fell from the broom just as he was reaching for the snitch, must have been the wind or something. Freak accident.'

'Yeah, he crashed straight to the ground, didn't even lose consciousness!'

'He's a warrior this one!'

The latter statement was enthusiastically underlined by punching the prone boy on the shoulder, though that did make him shout out.

'Oh Merlin, I'm so sorry! I am so sorry!'

'No matter Charlie, he's out of it. You knocked him right out.'

They kept on going back and forth on the subject for a while, but I had already lost interest and dozed off.

It was a shallow slumber, and as soon as Pomfrey had chased out the noisy boys I rolled over again and peered over at the bed on the other side of the aisle. The boy's tousled black hair was spread over the pillow, his face nearly as pale as the cover. We were the only ones in the hospital wing and I could hear his heavy breathing loud enough for it to have been my own. The black strands glinted dully in the autumn sun shining through the window and all I wanted to do was to touch it. Let it glide through my fingers and kiss him. Or the 'him' that I imagined he was. But Severus had not come to see me, and I didn't really think he would. Perhaps I should have been glad of it.

'Sirius, you have to eat something.'

Madame Pomfrey had managed to sneak up on me without my noticing while I was too occupied staring at the quidditch player. My lunch still stood untouched on the bedside table but everything in me recoiled, even if I could feel the hunger.

Later in the afternoon, just as the sun was starting to set, the doors to the infirmary opened once again. The person entering was so non-obtrusive that I knew who it was even before I could see him. Remus was carrying my school bag over his shoulder, and it looked heavy. Slowly he walked up to my bed, a lopsided smile on his face as if he was wondering whether it was ok for him to come any closer. I smiled back at him, feeling the muscles in my face ache from both the unfamiliar motion and the bruises I had acquired.

'I hope I am not disturbing?' asked Remus before sitting down in a chair I couldn't remember having been there previously. 'We have a lot of homework now, so I figured I could give you some of it. It must be boring being chained up in the Hospital Wing.'

'Ye-ah,' My voice was raspy and unused; making me cough a bit to get it going again. 'Pretty boring. Nice of you to come.'

A flicker of worry went across Remus' gentle face, and his smile faded a margin. 'Was it Snape who did this to you?'

I was quiet for a long moment, staring at the folded hands in my lap. The knuckles were a bit worse from wear, but otherwise my hands were as handsome as they had always been. Severus had called them handsome, not me, though I didn't mind hearing it. I gave a small shrug and shook my head. There was no answer to his question.

'Actually, I don't know,' I answered honestly. 'It could have been him, but I have a feeling it isn't. Not directly anyway.'

'This is all so insane…' Remus shook his head, much like I had just done, and closed his eyes tight. 'Here you are in the hospital wing, looking like a hippogriff went rampage on you, and you think it indirectly might be Snape?'

I had to laugh a bit at his phrasing when I realized the humour in the situation.

'Well, Severus was not there, but you know how he is, that doesn't have to mean anything,' I waved my hand in an exasperated fashion.

A giggle erupted from Remus, 'he sounds like a terrible person!'

'He is!' I agreed enthusiastically, glad I finally had someone to talk to.

'But still… you… ehn… love him?'

'Of course.'

My heart suddenly felt heavy again, and I had to yawn when sleepiness threatened to take me over. To distract myself I opened the bag Remus had placed on my bed and took a look at the books inside. There was a paper sheet in there too and looking at it I found it to be a detailed description of all the homework we had been given in Remus' neat handwriting.

'Thanks,' I smiled. 'You have to be the best friend anyone could ever hope to have.'

A small smile flickered across his face and he bobbed his head in embarrassment. 'Well, one has to always try and keep what one have, right?' With the last words he suddenly looked up and straight into my eyes, his gaze searching for an answer he hoped I'd give.

But for all that had happened I found that it was Remus who had given me the answer this time. With my skull cracked open, my memory lost and my heart broken in ways I didn't know it could be, the answer to all my questions was ridiculously easy, and had been all the time.

'I think I've gotten water over my head this time,' I smiled wryly, feeling a perverse humour well up inside me and I laughed quietly.

'Well I can't blame you for trying,' shrugged Remus in response, his warm eyes glowing. 'It must be tough being so handsome, having all the boys and girls chasing after you, even the slimy Slytherin ones.'

'You have no idea,' I whispered dramatically, letting my hair fall forward and obscure my face. 'I wouldn't even wish it upon my greatest enemy.'

A loud laugh escaped Remus, his Adam's apple bobbing up and down while he threw his head back. It was rare seeing him laugh so freely, he only ever did so whenever he was truly humoured and around people he trusted.

At that moment I knew my conclusion had been right. Severus had asked me to choose, even if I at the time had not understood why, or what. I didn't trust him, but he meant the world to me.

When my options had stood between doing homework and sleeping, I had opted for sleep. Feeling better and already having slept most of the day away all I got from it was a shallow nap. I was slowly drifting into a state of awareness, feeling sluggish and overheated under the warm covers. Lying completely still I just enjoyed drifting lazily back and forth from reality and dream. An image of Severus eventually appeared before me, grayed and hazy, as if my brain had problems remembering exactly what he looked like.

His eyes were big and he wasn't even wearing robes, only a shirt and his tie, hair messily secured behind each ear, even if some strands were still escaping. A shadow fell across his face when he creased his brow, muttering something to himself.

My heart was beating heavily and slowly in my chest while I watched the half-dream image of him, wondering when my imagination would take it further. My libido was certainly interested enough for the dream to evolve.

'Sirius?' asked Severus, and it felt like he had thrown a bucket of ice cold water over me. Blinking a couple of times my eyes became focused enough to realize that the hallucination was very much a reality. Severus was standing over me, face close enough for me to be able to count his long black lashes.

'Holy shit you startled me,' I said, feeling my voice having gone raspy again. He took a step backwards and I pulled myself up in a sitting position, finally getting a good look at him. Without his customary armour of robes, cloak and small library of books he looked peculiarly lost.

'Rosier just told me what he did,' said Severus. 'I very nearly killed him.'

Knowing Severus I didn't doubt that for a second. Opening my mouth to comment on why he didn't I was stopped by a sudden stinging pain spreading across my face. Bewildered I closed my mouth again and stared at him. It took yet another few seconds before it registered in my slow brain that he had just slapped me. I must have looked like a fish on land for a while before pulling together enough to carefully pet the insulted skin on my cheek.

'For letting him,' hissed Severus, again reading my mind and explaining without further prompting.

'I'm sorry?' I tried, uncertainly phrasing it as a question. You never really knew with him.

'You better be,' he huffed angrily, but fell back in the chair Remus had previously vacated and let out a longwinded breath. Leaning back his head and resting it on the back of the chair, he peered at me through lidded eyes, one eyebrow raised. 'Though this does put us in a magnificent position, really.'

I didn't even ask how, because I knew he would elaborate if he feel like it, and if not I'd never get to know anyway.

A long silence stretched out between us then. A silence in which Severus remained lounged in the chair, tapping his slender fingers against the wood of the armrest, I was content just watching him.

'I talked to Dumbledore again,' blurted Severus. I didn't know him well, but I knew him enough to know he hadn't really intended to tell me. Sometimes it seemed difficult for him to not speak out loud when he was thinking very seriously about a matter. 'Apparently he hasn't told McGonagall or anyone else what happened; you know the Unforgivable and all. He muttered something about you being a good influence. I mean, how much will you be able to get away with in that old coot's eyes? What do you do, offer your ass to him?'

Severus was perfectly still through this entire tirade, but at the end he sat up straight and looked me right in the eyes. He had to be genuinely curious.

'Not really no,' I answered, laughing. The image it gave me was so bad I had to struggle not to shudder.

'Must be because you're a Gryffindor,' continued Severus to muse. 'He does favour them a great deal, no matter what you say.'

I didn't argue. Partially because there was no use changing his warped mind, but mostly because I knew it was true. Getting up from his chair, Severus crossed his arms and held around himself, obviously uncomfortable with his state of undress.

'My robes are lying there,' I said and pointed at the end of the bed, 'you can borrow them if you want?'

But Severus shook his head and moved over to me instead, something softening in his ice cold face and in a moment of rare compassion he let his fingers caress my cheek gently. I leaned into the touch, feeling myself ache. It was hard to describe, but I knew something had changed in me, and I was able to see the entire situation a lot clearer. Just a touch, just looking at him, even just the remembrance of his smell, had me wanting to hold and touch and own him. It wasn't love, it was obsession.

I hadn't been able to see this in quite some time, I realized. It wasn't Rosier's punches and kicks that had awakened me, but his words. Severus had never belonged to me and never would. I didn't doubt that somewhere in there Severus cared for me, I could see it in his eyes, but he was too twisted to let that control him for any length of time.

Leaning down Severus rested a pointy chin on my shoulder and blew lightly on the sensitive skin on the nape of my neck. Laughing in the back of my throat I stroked his back, revering in the feel of him.

'As I said,' continued Severus like our conversation never had been interrupted. 'This does put us in a rather nice position.'

I stopped stroking him and pulling back I used my hand to hold his hip, keeping him an arm length away. Placing my feet on the floor I sat up straight, my face serious while I looked at him, though I never let go. Severus placed his hand above mine, uncertainly caressing it, a look of doubt on his face. It was shadowed by his hair and his uncanny ability to hide his emotions, but never the less I saw it. I couldn't decide with myself whether it was because he wanted me to, or because I had finally learned to read him.

'Tell Dumbledore what happened and Rosier will be expelled in less than a second,' said Severus eventually, nearly reluctantly. The request was not unexpected, I had thought about it myself, but still something in me was appalled.

'He only protected what's his,' I answered, 'I don't think I have any right to get him expelled for that.'

Severus stilled before letting go of my hand as if burned, his face contorted.

'It was a clever plot,' I continued, pretending to be undisturbed. 'Luring me along, getting me interested, ticking off Rosier enough for him to act out of impulse. You could have gotten two birds in one stone, had you done it right. Both annoyances gone; him and me.'

During my rant he had taken a few steps backwards until he bumped into the chair behind him. Opening his mouth he closed it again. This was the second time I had seen him speechless and somehow I felt proud of that.

'Fine,' he eventually whispered, voice contorted with anger. 'Fine.'

Something broke in me when I watched him turn around and walk resolutely out of the hospital wing. Swallowing hard I blinked away the tears and before it had registered in my mind I was on my feet and running after him.

The doors were still swinging after he had walked through them and I didn't even bother to open them, but merely smashed my entire weight into them, falling out into the hallway.

'Severus!' I hollered and pure panic let my voice pitch unnaturally high. Turning in both directions I finally saw he had stopped at the end of the corridor, looking at me with the wand in his hand. With everything in me I wanted to run up to him and gather him in my arms, but something kept me back. The murder that glinted in his eyes made my skin crawl and pure self-preservation had me rooted to the spot.

He wasn't moving a muscle, just stood there staring at me. Eventually I took a hesitant step forward, but stopped dead when he raised his wand and a disgusting sneer formed on his lips.

'One step closer, dog, and you will regret it,' he hissed, nearly spat, at me before turning and disappearing down a hidden set of stairs.

In a second the two past weeks flashed in front of my eyes and I couldn't decide whether I hated him, or myself, the most. I would have screamed, but I couldn't remember how to use my lungs, tongue or throat. A fatigue beyond anything I had felt before descended on me, nearly breaking me down, and so I let him go.

Life continued as if the two weeks had been erased from history. It wasn't until a cold summer night in '79 that memories began to stir again. Feelings I had believed buried and forgotten revealed themselves in Death Eater cloaks and more madness.