A/N: The characters and universe in this story do not belong to me; they belong to J.K. Rowling.
Plot summary: Ignores The Half-Blood Prince, but borrows a few elements such as Snape's parentage, the concept of non-verbal spells etc from said book. Voldemort curses Harry during the final battle, and Harry consequently loses the ability to speak and becomes mute. Dumbledore assigns a most reluctant Severus Snape to teach Harry how to overcome this obstacle by means of non-verbal spells, sign language and a lot of training and iron discipline. During their lessons, they slowly learn to respect each other…and more. Darker, more passionate and sensual than my first Snarry fic Crash Boom Bang. Harry's utterances in sign language, written sentences or, later on, mental messages, are displayed in italics, as are his diary entries (also later). Enjoy! PS: Incomplete sentences are intentional and used for stylistic purposes (to create a breathless and stumbling atmosphere).
Flashes of memory. Ghostly screams, flares of spells, the Order of the Phoenix holding the Death Eaters at bay, Harry alone with Voldemort in the Department of Mysteries…
Voldemort's distorted face and blood-red eyes. Voldemort screaming out with his dying breath:
"YOU, HARRY POTTER, WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO SPEAK AGAIN, NEVER EVER AGAIN! SILENTIUM AETERNUM°!"
Fog descending on Harry, engulfing him in clammy tendrils, and then that excruciating pain in his throat, as if someone was gauging out his larynx and slicing through his tongue…
He had awoken in the hospital wing. Madam Pomfrey had been there, along with a tearful Hermione and a pale Ron, the former with her arm in a sling and the latter with a bandage around his head to cover the injuries sustained during the battle with the Death Eaters. Other members of the DA lay in beds near Harry, fortunately alive. And Albus Dumbledore had been there as well. Everyone had looked sad and completely exhausted.
And now he was sitting in Dumbledore's office – but not alone with the eminent Headmaster of Hogwarts. Severus Snape was present as well. There was a cut on his cheek which, thanks to Madam Pomfrey's ministrations would disappear within a few hours, and his hands, too, were scratched.
More flashbacks, this time of the hospital wing, invaded his mind. Madam Pomfrey telling Dumbledore that Harry would never be able to speak again, that he remain mute for the rest of his life after Voldemort had cursed him during his demise. Dumbledore's fingers travelling over Harry's face, touching his forehead, where the scar was still etched, resting upon his throat from which his voice had been ripped forever even though his tongue and larynx were still in their usual places, unharmed on the surface.
"Severus," Dumbledore said gravely, bringing Harry back to his current situation and whereabouts, "I have to ask you to teach and train Harry how to perform magic without a voice."
Snape stiffened in his chair.
"I don't think I am the right person to teach Potter," he replied tersely while Harry stared at his feet, still too numb to react properly. He had not cried when he had been told about his voice. He had cried for the people who had died because of Voldemort. Cried inwardly. On the outside, he had remained impassive, frozen, rigid verging on lethargic.
"Severus, you are one of the few people who possesses all the right abilities and skills to tutor Harry. You even know sign language," Dumbledore said softly.
Snape shot Harry a venomous look.
"I am sure there are qualified people for a case like Potter's," he said smoothly. "They are bound to have more in-depth knowledge and expertise in the area of muteness and magic."
"I regard you as the most qualified teacher, Severus."
"It might well take a year until Potter can manage on his own," Snape pointed out coldly.
"I am fully aware of it, Severus."
"So you are adamant that I should baby-sit Potter," Snape stated resentfully.
Dumbledore simply gazed at Snape without saying anything. Harry raised his head, watching the interaction between the two powerful wizards attentively.
Then Snape leant back after a minute or two.
"Fine. I'll do it. And I expect you to make an effort, Potter, a very big effort indeed. I had hoped never to teach you anything again, especially after your miserable attempt at Occlumency in your fifth year. I had hoped to see the last of you after this war. Obviously, it is going to be a rather long time until we can call it quits. Six o'clock in my office on Monday, Wednesday and Friday."
Harry was too tired to balk at the prospect of spending three evenings a week with Snape.
In the background, the portrait of Phineas Nigellus Black snickered appreciatively.
"Thank you, Severus. You may go," Dumbledore said courteously.
Snape rose with a bitter sneer and left, his black robes rustling ominously.
Dumbledore shifted his gaze to Harry.
"Harry…my dear boy, there is so much I would like to say to you; but all I can say to you is that you must be stronger than ever in order to cope with what the war has left in its wake. I ask you to trust Severus Snape – you have no more reasons to distrust him after what he has done for the Order and in this battle. The lessons won't be easy for him and for you, but this is for you, Harry, for your life. Severus is the most capable wizard who can teach you. There are other witches and wizards who are mute like you are now; yet your circumstances were and are highly unusual. I hope you understand why I am doing this, Harry."
Harry nodded slowly. Dumbledore came round his desk and placed his hand on the young man's head for a moment.
"I am very proud of you, Harry. Very. You are strong. Have faith in yourself, in your friends – and in Severus."
Harry's green eyes became teary for a moment, and Dumbledore pressed his shoulder.
Fawkes the Phoenix had burst into flame the day before, but his fledgling form managed to produce an encouraging flute-like sound.
Harry had been given a notebook and a pen in which to write anything he wanted to ask or say; he extracted them from his robes and began to write. When he had finished, he handed the booklet to Dumbledore.
What will I do for a year at Hogwarts besides being trained by Professor Snape? I have graduated, but how can I train to be an Auror without a voice, or become a professional Quidditch player? What shall I do for a living?
He would have liked to leave "Professor" away, but he knew that the omission would displease Dumbledore.
Dumbledore read the sentences and actually smiled.
"I am pleased to see your concern about your future. It means that you are looking ahead in spite of what has befallen. I see another option for you besides a career as an Auror or a Quidditch player. If you succeed in your lessons with Severus, then I could imagine giving you the Defence Against The Dark Arts post after a year. Alastor has promised to, er, catch up on the year of teaching he missed out in your fourth year. He was extremely unenthusiastic about it at first. I am sure he will provide you with plenty of solid suggestions."
Harry was so startled that he nearly choked. Then, too desperate to write, he pointed to his throat and added a questioning gesture with his hands.
"Oh, you can teach without a voice, Harry. It should be no problem once you have mastered the advanced forms of Legilimency; and that is Severus's domain…"
°Silentium aeternum: eternal silence.