i How long have I been holding this book in my hand? /i Severus thought as he shook himself out of a reverie. His fingers were white at the pressure of his grip. He wasn't even reading it. He didn't even know which book he had plucked from the shelves on entering his chambers. i Anything would serve as a distraction /i . Looking down now, he realized with slight surprise that it was upside-down. Quickly and deftly, he flipped it round the correct way, with a strange feeling of embarrassment. i There's no body else in here, fool, why even pretend to read? /i However, the pages of the book were unfamiliar, and peculiarly crisp, compared to the other well-read books on his shelves. Severus closed the book, subconsciously running a long-fingered hand down the un-creased leather spine.
i b 'Social Situations; A Wizard's Guide To Making New Friends, By Geramenia Shamcoddle' /i /b
The sickeningly happy words shone up at him in misleadingly sophisticated script – Ornately twirly in i red and gold, /i of all colours. It had been a birthday present from Albus. i Note to self : spike the bowl of blasted lemon drops which the insane and acutely infuriating old bat offers you every single time you enter his office, with the worst potion you can possibly brew. Preferably one which causes immense embarrassment and discomfort to the one ingesting it. /i Under the text, was a garish picture of a witch in silky silver robes, showing far too much cleavage, in Severus' opinion, sipping delicately from a goblet and now and then, letting out a tinkling laugh and stroking the arm of the well dressed wizard with whom she was in conversation.
With a snarl, Severus tossed it, face down on the coffee table and reached for his glass of Scotch. Which wasn't there. i Damn and blast it! /i He had left it in the other room, and he was damned if he was going to walk back in there and risk hearing Merlin knows what from the newly made bedroom, or, the God's forbid, they hear him and investigate in…in the nude. And he wasn't about to go i sneaking around /i in his own quarters! No, the scotch would have to wait until morning. i Whisky with my breakfast, what a way to be! /i He smiled ruefully to himself, but the thought was quickly followed by an imaginary voice in his head, sounding suspiciously like the Mcgonagall, saying the exact same thing, in a much less indulgent, far more reprimanding tone. i Can't they ever leave me be? Even my own brain is siding with them. I /i like i my scotch! What else is there in this piss-awful Griffindor playground for me to enjoy? /i
The image of the Doctor, sprawled, at ease, on his armchair earlier that evening, flashed before his eyes for the briefest of seconds. i The man still smiles the same… /i
Severus growled, turned and threw himself onto his four-poster, landed on his back and glared at the canopy, which, in all fairness, had done nothing wrong. If it had been anyone but him, this would have looked somewhat like a childish tantrum. But it wasn't – it was Snape, and even a tantrum performed by Severus Snape is impressive, in an overly-dramatic sort of way. There was no-one there to see it anyway, so he might as well have whined and kicked the mattress with his heels, for all anyone cared.
After a while, could have been ten minutes, could have been an hour, Severus wasn't counting, the snarl had gone. His eyes were shut, and the pale figure looked as peaceful as if he were sleeping, if it were not for his hands held in fists at his sides, his jaw clenched tightly shut and his thin mouth muttering angrily under his breath. All things considered, this was probably as peaceful Severus had been, or could ever be since he was a baby. If he ever i was /i a baby, which, for most who meet him, is somewhat hard to imagine
Now and then a few words could be made out from the indecipherable general diatribe.
"….Fool….blasted…damned FOOL….how dare…yanky…privacy…never….the nerve…Merlin….fucking…. i Doctor and his pet /i …"
Severus opened his eyes, the brow above deeply knotted, reached for his wand, spelled off the lights, and rolled sharply onto his side, not even bothering to undress or get under the covers.
"… i He hasn't even /i aged!" Came the despairing groan from the now darkened bed.
Meanwhile, out of Snape's bedroom, where the poor man lay awake for the best part of the night, berating himself, the Doctor, Jack, the Headmaster, and his parents for letting him live at birth. Across the silent living room, and into a newly made room, with one exceedingly soft, double bed…
The doctor paced. Playing with his sonic screwdriver, which he'd got into the habit of doing when he was thinking, Jack noted.
Jack was sitting against the wall.
The bed lay, un-creased and un-touched, in the other corner.
"…we i know /i he's i not me /i , Jack!" the doctor willed the man to understand at last, as he rubed his jaw and screwed his eyes up. "We covered this hours ago – He's not me because Barty Crouch has grown up in the public eye of the wizarding world. He didn't just appear with my face and go out killing people pretending to be me! He i grew into /i this face! It's…it's his face too."
"But Doc, how i can /i it be?" Jack gestured emphatically with his hands which were resting on his bent and spread knees.
The Doctor sat heavily down on the bed, destroying its crisp, neat hospital corners in the process. His face was calm, but something was busy behind his eyes. He shook his head slightly
"…I don't know…but there's i something /i , Jack. Something I think I should be seeing, but I'm not." He leant on his thighs, frowning and spinning the sonic screwdriver between his fingers as he thought.
"Well" Said Jack, with absolutely no caution in disrupting the doctor's puzzling "What have we been through? He's not you, because you weren't born with that face, and defiantely not …here. Wait, do TimeLords get born? …Never mind" Jack smirked at the Doctor's raised eyebrow. "But doc, this isn't our universe, right? What if he's i this /i universe's version of you? Y'no, like an evil version?"
"This isn't a Hollywood film, Jack." The Doctor couldn't help as small smile at Jack's musings. "…Not yet, anyway"
"Are ya sure?" Jack smirked. "But anyways, why not? He could have been born…or hatched…or whatever it is you TimeLords do, and then just grown up evil instead of human-loving and freaky like you"
The Doctor threw a pillow at him.
"I'm serious!" Jack laughed, deflecting the pillow and sending it back at the Doctor. "Why not?"
The Doctor caught the returned pillow held it behind his head with both hands, flopped backwards, crossed one ankle over the other and his arms loosely over his ribs.
"Because there is no way, if he knew he was a TimeLord, he could have stayed in one place for his whole life, even if he was, as you put it, 'evil'. I know my race – we're the gypsies of space – never staying in one place too long – always wanting to know what's happening beyond the next star. And if he was more like my forefathers – dusty old history keepers, than like me, he would still yearn to go home. And if, by chance, he i didn't /i know, there's no way he could have got through an entire life without people realizing he wasn't human – you've already seen how sophisticated magic is here" He gestured to the room they were in, which was small, but nicely decorated and much warmer than the other dungeon room had been. "No, Jack" He sighed loudly " I think our only answer is that Barty Crouch was a human. A particularly twisted and cruel one, but a human nonetheless. And his likeness to me is merely one of those interesting anomalies that crop up in alternate universes."
"I don't think Snapey-boy is going to like that much for an answer" Jack said, pushing himself up to his feet and crossing to sit on the foot of the bed, his joints popping slightly as he stretched. The Doctor carefully propped himself up on his elbows to watch Jack flex his arms up and give a little yawn. Through the thin material of Jack's shirt, he could just see the outline of his rips, slight concave belly and slim waist. The Doctor's mouth quirked in un-admitted appreciation of the sight, but before Jack could finish yawning and notice, he answered.
"No, he's not. But I trust Severus to keep trying to help us, even if we can't help him."
"Doc, why do you trust us humans so much?" Jack sat down, next to the Doctor's feet. "The guy's a greaseball! As soon as he realizes we've got nothing to tell him, he'll kick us out on our asses, and then what?"
"Oh I'm not going to tell him i yet /i " the Doctor said as he sat up completely, and at Jack's confused expression, continued. "Don't get me wrong, I'm going to explain, but I might just give it a while – give him a chance to…get used to us a bit. And you never know, in that time, our i wonderful minds /i " He said the phrase with a grin "might just shine a light on a hitherto un-appreciated possibility."
Jack looked at him, leaning on one of the bed-posts. The sparkle was in the Doctors eyes, and when that happened, Jack had learnt that it was always the best idea (and conveniently the most fun) to just go with the doctor's own individual flow. He cocked his head sideways in a nod of agreement and smirked.
"You're the boss, doc."
"Oooah-yes indeed" The Doctor smirked back, mimicking Jack's tip of the head.
There was a moment where nothing happened but eye contact. The smiles went, and were replaced by completely nothing.
"We're gunna get home, Doc." The Doctor's expression didn't change.
"See, you trust him too."
"No. I trust us. I trust you. Never an apocalypse you haven't got me out of, Doclove." Jack winked and slapped the Doctor's calf.
"Yes, I i wondered /i when that nick-name would enter into your vocabulary since I thought it up. Quite nice, isn't it? Though Jack" and he pulled his face into a mock-serious frown and leant forwards, placing a hand on Jack's cheek "Only in the bedroom, ok?" he grinned and jumped up off the bed, leaving Jack a tad surprised. "Right! A shower for me! Then, I think, sleep. Not something I get much of a chance to do, but that bed is bloody comfy".
With that he was in the bathroom, door shut, shower running and already singing loudly.
"Uh- i huh /i " Jack stated, taking up the Doctor's former position on the bed, arms crossed behind his head and a wining smile being offered up to the indifferent ceiling.