THE DAY THE SNOWFLAKES FELL
03 : RECOVERY :
I stared at the man sitting at my bedside. He moved his hand off my forehead, a touch that I could not feel, and rested it in his lap. I had actually missed him. It was odd. Snape used to come every day and sit by my bed, bringing some break in the monotony of living as a specter outside of the physical world. Weeks of screaming, pleading and otherwise trying to make some effect on the real world were all together fruitless His visits had always been enlightening in some way. Especially when he talked of my mother.
When they stopped I had waited and waited. But months passed, and here he was again. My one constant companion outside of the nurses and healers come again. I wondered how long he would stay this time.
I had long given up at trying to speak to anyone. My voice was muted and my only respite was that I could still think. My body, more thin air than anything, looked real to me. If I had a sense of touch I would surely believe that I was as real as anyone. I could hear just as well, if not better than I could in body, every sound reached my phantom ears with such crystal clarity that I wondered what I had become. If not a ghost then what was I? I knew that my body still lived. I had heard them say that many a time.
Snape stood and left the room. I followed him as far as I could out into the hallway and watched him walk away. I took a half-step further and watched my hands start to disintegrate. This always happened when I stepped just far enough away from my body. I could hold it for awhile but then my body would start to disappear. Over the past few months I had widened the circumference of my range. I could now get a hundred yards away from my body before I would start to fade.
I pushed myself this time. I was two steps away from my limit and my body was fading fast. This was one of the few times that I felt pain. It hurt like the dickens to step out of that limit. It was only sheer bull headedness that had enabled me to push my limit out as far as I had.
I pushed myself as far as I dared and then stepped back into the safety of my limit. My body rematerialized and I breathed a sigh of relief. I went and stood in Poppy's office and read over her shoulder. She was reading about recent discoveries in spell casting for medicinal uses.
Another week passed before I saw Snape again. I happened to be wandering in the hallway where I was trying to extend my limit once again when he walked clear through me startling me. But the most startling thing was that he stopped in the middle of the hallway and turned around. His dark eyes scanned the hallway that surely appeared empty to him.
"Who's there?" he called out.
For the first time in months I tried to use my voice. I was already outside my limit but I took the last few steps between Snape and the edge of my limit and called out to him. "Professor, help me!" my body shuddered as I felt the pain thunder in and start to dematerialize even faster.
Snape's eyes widened and he reached out. His hand went through my chest and for the first time in my whole ordeal I felt something other than pain. I felt Snape's mind. Confusion roiled and shock speared through it all. He could sense me.
But my body was fading fast so I had no choice but to step away and go back behind my limit where there was a void of nothing, no voice, no feeling, no pain, no thoughts other than my own.
"Help me…" I said once again. Snape still had his hand out and was staring into the air like he had just been struck with ice water.
I rushed at the limit once again and had I been tangible I would have slammed right into Snape. Instead I pushed my intangible hands through his chest and called out.
"Help me, help me, I'm here, I'm here!" The pain was nearly unbearable. It ate at my vision and my soul like acid.
Snape back stepped and looked thoroughly unnerved. My body was almost gone so I had to step back into my limit.
"Severus?" Dumbledore stepped into the hallway from another corridor and looked at the teacher curiously.
"Albus… I heard Harry Potter." Snape reached his hand out again and felt around like a blind man would.
"I'm not sure I understand." The headmaster stood next to Snape and looked in the direction that Snape was exploring with his hand. "What do you mean you heard him?"
"I heard him. Clear as if he was standing next to me asking for help. I thought that I felt something, too." Snape took on an inexplicably perplexed look and finally glanced at the Dumbledore. Dumbledore on the other hand looked like he had just been given the biggest bag of candy in all of Europe.
"Severus. I think you have just discovered the answer."
"What ans--" Snape started to say.
"Mr. Potter, if you can hear me. Step out as far as you can. I know it hurts to do so, but once you do and your body has the chance to free itself you will find yourself where you need to be."
Did he mean that all I had to do was just let the fading of my body happen? That all this would have been over had I just let myself go? It seemed like it was such a risk, but I had to take it. I couldn't stand another day in this solitary world.
I ran. I ran as far down the hall as I could and as the pain rushed in I ran harder and my body faded faster. I felt needles, sharp pinpricks of fire and ice spearing my arms, legs face, fingers, toes, chest, back… all of it was surging with pain.
Darkness engulfed everything and a feeling not unlike the feeling of a portkey tugging at my navel pulled me into reaches unknown. My head throbbed with unmentionable waves of pain. A brilliant lightshow played out in front of my eyes, awash with kaleidoscope memories and thoughts. The pain lilted away and I felt a coolness trickled through my veins. I felt something in the core of myself begin to grow like a crystal. Blossoming outwards, solidifying and blossoming out again. I felt like a flake of snow taking on some impossibly complex structure, I wasn't sure what I would become when it was all done.
But suddenly it ended and the world warped like a rubber band set loose and I opened my physical eyes to stare into the faces of Dumbledore and Madame Pomfrey. Snape was nowhere to be seen.
I spent a week in a rigorous physical training to rework my unused limbs. I recovered fast, much to the surprise of Madame Ponfrey and the headmaster. I spent a lot of that time just talking to whoever would listen. I enjoyed the feeling of breath moving past vocal chords to create a cacophony of also discovered that my magical abilities had increased tenfold. All that pushing against the limits of my mind had done more that give my projected mind more area to wander. But once I was declared fit by Madame Pomfrey I had to get ready to leave. I packed my bags and prepared to take the train to London to spend the last month and a half of summer in Surrey.
Before I left, however, I made a trip down into the bowels of Hogwarts and stood outside the door to a certain professor's office. I knocked multiple times but received no answer.
"Professor Snape?" I called.
I heard an indistinct grunt from within and took that as a beckons to enter.
"What do you want Potter?" Snape didn't look up from the book he was reading.
"I just wanted to thank you for all your visits over the past few months. I think they were the only thing that kept me sane." I chuckled uncomfortably.
"Hm." Snape replied, still not looking up.
"So… yeah, thanks." I moved to leave, but Snape's voice made me stop.
"You heard everything?"
He set down his book. "If you've told anyone--"
"Oh, I haven't--"
"I better not hear--"
It was quiet for a good a minute before I half-waved and stepped out. But again Snape's voice stopped me from leaving.
"I do not…" He looked uncomfortable.
"I know. You said it a lot when you visited. I did what any decent human being should do for another."
Snape looked like he wanted to say something but picked up his book again instead and didn't look up again.
I left without being stopped again. But when I was saying goodbye to Hagrid at the train platform at the crossroad between Hogwarts and Hogsmeade a tawny owl dropped a loosely rolled parchment into my hands and flew as quickly away.
You will need proper training. I will see you on Monday 10 a.m. sharp. Do not keep me waiting.
Severus Snape was coming to Surrey. I smiled and boarded the train for London once again. I had a compartment all to myself and had the whole trip to just think about the future.