This is my first story in while and it was written in class. If you find any of the references or terminology confusing, please let me know so I can correct if for the next reader. Thanks!
"Snape!" a friendly but strict voice called.
"Yes, mate?" the former potions master answered evenly.
"Happy to be goin' out?"
"It will be a welcome break."
"You are an odd one, Snape. Anyways, I just came to say that you are on the 00-04 watch – my watch. Any questions?"
Snape shook his head slightly to show that he understood before the 2nd mate walked away.
Slowly, Snape walked along the deserted deck of the ship back to his room. Currently, there were no passengers aboard to bother him. He was dressed in work jeans, a long sleeve t-shirt and a bright orange hard hat – most wizards would have never recognized him. He had even cut his hair. Tobias Snape, Severus' father, had been a sailor and had insisted that the younger Severus spend time on the docks, learning how to be on a ship.
As a result, after Nagini's bite, Severus had fled the Wizarding world. Determined to remain "dead" to everyone he formerly knew, he decided to return to the shipping industry. It would be pretty hard to find him in the middle of the ocean.
At 2340, Snape arrived on the bridge, wearing his brand new, company issued uniform.
"You're early, good. Know watcha doing?" the Mate asked him.
"I can assure you I am a qualified AB [able-seamen]," Snape answered curtly.
"Alright, if ya have questions, just holler. Otherwise, keep the lookout. If we are maneuvering or on alert status for some reason, you will be on the helm but otherwise it's on autopilot," the tall, lanky mate explained. He was in his mid-thirties, had dirty blonde hair and blue eyes.
Snape nodded again and went to make coffee for the both of them. A few minutes later, he handed the mate the cup of steaming coffee and elegantly sipped at his own.
"Where are we headed for?" Snape asked as he looked out over the bow, into the pitch black. He had specifically gone to America to find a ship in order to reduce the chances of catching a ship going to England.
"Normally, we would be running from Miami to Aruba and Tortolla, but we are doing a special run over to Liverpool. You are English, aren't ya?"
"Yes, I am."
"Do you miss home?"
"No." Snape moved away from the radar and went to grab the binoculars in order to keep the lookout.
"I didn't mean to offend," the mate said awkwardly, "I was just trying to make conversation. Shipping attracts some of the strangest people at times."
Having a shipmate always takes time to adjust for the whole crew to be working seamlessly together, a fact that Severus understood well.
"No offense taken. I am simply unaccustomed to small talk," Snape replied calmly as he continued to stare into the darkness.
"Oh- did you do anything before shipping out?"
"I was a teacher at a very small boarding school in Scotland," Snape replied honestly but with a smirk on his face. The darkness of the bridge hid this fact from the mate, however.
"Sure you are jokin?" the mate asked through laughter. Just then the radio came alive:
This is the ELK Pride calling the MacKay Princess. Can we arrange a port to port pass?
The mate thought for a second before picking up the radio and responding:
MacKay Princess agrees to a port-port. Thank you.
Snape raised his eyebrow at the sight of the mate trying to work on radio while attempting to control his laughter.
"I see you find my ex-profession amusing?"
"Hell yeah. You just don't seem like the teachin' type."
"It was not my occupation by choice, I can assure you," Snape patiently explained.
"So you came out here to run-away from teachin?"
"Something like that," Snape responded mysteriously. The mate shook his head slightly and went over the chartroom to get some work done. Feeling more at home on the bridge then he had in fifteen years at Hogwarts, Snape continued to keep a sharp lookout.
The ship they were on was a moderate size cruise ship, called the MacKay Princess. It had sailed from Nassau, where Snape had joined the ship to Liverpool and the journey was set to take ten days across the Atlantic.
The journey across the Atlantic went quickly, too quickly for Severus' liking. He did not want to lay eyes on his home country so soon after he left but he really didn't have a choice. His fellow shipmates soon learned that he was dependable and hardworking but said very little except when directly asked.
About an hour after Severus had gotten off his night watch, a loud buzzer sounded near his door.
"Huh?" He mumbled slightly incoherently until he realized it was the "all-call" button. An all-call buzzer sounded an alarm in every person's room, calling them out for maneuvering.
Severus swore to himself before hurriedly dressing and reporting as ordered to the bow. His team was working on the bow lines.
"Good to see home, Snape?" one of his fellow ABs asked.
"Not bloody likely," he growled back as they put on their gloves.
"What, no pretty thing waiting for you ashore?" another one added. He just glared in response.
The other men burst out laughing good naturedly. The officer in charge, a brand new third mate, snapped at them to be quiet.
Snape looked out and saw the city of Liverpool bathed in the early morning light. It was not a particularly beautiful sight but England was still home. He allowed himself a small smile before they got to work.
Once the ship was tied up, the Captain announced that passengers were due to start arriving on board at 0900. Then Captain posted a list of stations and Snape was not amused to find himself standing at the top of the gangway, helping people aboard.
"Something wrong?" the second mate asked when he saw Snape grimace at the station-list.
"No" came the usual short response. The second mate peeked over the list and saw the reason for the grimace.
"Yeah, helping people aboard is the newbie job. No worries, in a week or two there will be another newbie and you will not have to do it," the mate explained.
"Oh joy," Snape retorted sarcastically before he left to freshen up. There were strict company policies on the appearance of crew members especially when they were meeting passengers.
Two women stood in the line to get on ship, chatting animatedly to themselves.
"That young man up there at the top of the gangway looks familiar," commented Minerva.
"Oh really? I am sure you know a lot of muggles who work on cruise ships," Poppy rolled her eyes at her friend.
"I don't think I know anyone, but he really does look familiar."
"So for the next four days you will be trying to figure that out instead of relaxing and having a good time. You know, I thought this would be a good chance for you to get away for a while and relax." Poppy began in her lecturing tone.
"Alright, mother, I'll drop it," Minerva glared before coughing some.
Poppy watched her with concern but decided to not comment. When they reached the gangway, they had moved on to other subjects, such as the rebuilding of Hogwarts.
Severus was watching the line grow shorter, happy that soon he was going to be able to grab some lunch and a quick nap before he had to return to watch. There were two older ladies who proceeded to make their way up the gangway.
'Oh shit – Minerva and Poppy! They are going to recognize me for sure' Severus inwardly groaned before politely assisting them.
"Good Morning Ladies. Please watch your step as you walk up the gangway," he said with a genuine smile. 'That should dazzle them – I doubt I ever gave either one of them a true smile before!'
"Thank you, young man. You look familiar, have you ever spent time in Scotland?" Minerva asked bluntly as Poppy closely scrutinized him. Under Poppy's scrutinizing, Snape was pleased that he was wearing a turtle neck with his uniform and it covered the scars from the snake bite and the dark mark.
"Not lately, ma'am. Welcome Aboard and I hope you enjoy your travel with us," he told them hurriedly, anxious to have them leave before they ended up recognizing him.
'When I get back to my room I had better cast a glamour. Oh shit, that would never work since the crew would then not recognize me. Well, I will at least have to cover up the Dark Mark so when I roll my sleeves up, it will not appear.'
The crew had noticed his mark, of course, but thought nothing of it. Sailors commonly have tattoos and so no one really commented on it.
"Did you just cast a glamour?" Poppy asked Minerva as they were settling into their cabin. It was a small room, but it did have its own private bath and a tiny window.
"No, why do you ask?"
"I could feel the magic. Someone on this ship just cast a glamour."
"Well as far as I know, we are the only witches on the ship. Maybe that guy we saw at the top of gangway is a wizard and one of his siblings went to Hogwarts," Minerva logically explained.
"Why would a Wizard work on a muggle ship?"
"How many people do you know that left the Wizarding world in the past year?"
"True, true," Poppy said as she finished folding her clothes. A few moments later Poppy questioned, "Do you think I could get away with a Notice-Magic spell?"
"Its legal as long as we are not in sight of Muggles. Of course, if something uncontrollable happens, you would be in a load of trouble."
"Always the rule-abiding one, I see."
"Someone has to be," Minerva retorted while looking sharply at her friend, "You don't really mean to cast one, do you?"
"I want to know who cast the spell. Look at it this way: there are still people out to get members of the Order and I don't want to take any chances."
Minerva agreed with her reasoning silently and motioned for Poppy to do the spell. The current Headmistress had more experience in dealing with surveillance spells, Minerva was still recovering from the Wizard's Flu.
Poppy performed the spell and suddenly a floating image appeared in her mind: the same young man how had escorted them up the gangway was shown using his wand to cover up his dark mark. She also noticed that he used a glamour charm on his neck – to cover up what suspiciously looked like a snake bite.
Startled, Poppy dropped her wand and it clattered as it struck the ground. She was white as sheet, before she fell to the ground in a dead faint.
"Poppy!" Minerva shrieked. She had enough sense to hide Poppy's wand before going out into the passage way to find help.
"Someone help! Please! My friend just fainted!" she yelled down the long passage way.
Severus heard Minerva's passionate plea for help and ran to assist. The fellow he was working with did the same.
"Billy – go find the Doc," Severus ordered in his teacher voice while he rushed into the cabin to see if he could help.
"Poppy!" he exclaimed in his deep baritone.
"Severus? Is it really you?" Poppy whispered as she slowly came back to reality.
"Welcome back," he said softly, not comfortable enough to answer her question. Fortunately, he was saved from further questioning by the arrival of the doctor.
"So you're new AB. How long was she unconscious?" the doctor said as he bustled into the room.
"About a minute," Minerva nervously supplied. She kept looking back and forth between Poppy and Severus, unsure of the situation. Severus stood quietly off in the corner, his hands folded in front of him, not looking at anyone in the room.
"Thank you for your assistance. Wait outside the hatch for me," the doctor ordered Snape as he realized that the room was very tight.
"Understood, sir," Snape answered immediately, gave a short nod to Minerva like he used to when they taught together before the war and vanished. Minerva was fairly sure that the man before her was the ex- Potions Professor. But how in the world did he end up on a cruise ship?
"Do you remember what happened, ma'am?" the doctor asked Poppy gently as he helped her slowly sit up.
Poppy shot a nervous glance over to Minerva before whispering "No. I – I think it was just a bit of dehydration, from a long day of traveling. I'm sure I'll be alright."
"I'd be happier if you spent a few hours in the ship's hospital," the Doctor stated.
Poppy glared at him but Minerva laughed openly.
"Don't be hypocrite, Poppy. You would have kept a student for observation," Minerva commented lightly.
"Oh – are you a medical professional?" the doctor asked Poppy as he helped her stand up slowly.
"Yes, I am a school nurse for a boarding school." The doctor nodded and continued to help her walk. Poppy was sure she would be fine on her own but she understood the need to for the doctor to make sure that she wasn't going to fall over at any second.
The two had reached the doorway, where Snape was waiting for them.
"Snape, that's your name, right?" the portly doctor asked bluntly.
"Yes, sir." Poppy and Minerva both gave him shocked glances; the Snape they knew called no one sir, not even the Headmaster.
"Follow us to the Hospital. I have a few questions for you." Snape nodded and chivalrously offered his arm to Minerva.
"Severus, is it really you?" Minerva turned to him, as they were walking down an infrequently used passageway. Her eyes were moist with tears about to fall.
The doctor overheard her line of questioning and was curious to know if these people knew each other. He had seen the two ladies glancing furiously at the tall, dark, new comer. Deciding it was best to keep his mouth shut – it was, after all, Snape's business, not his.
"Why did you run, Severus? You are a hero! And how in the world did you manage to survive?" Minerva continued her tirade, even though Severus had not told her the truth yet. Her magic could feel that he was a wizard, a strong one at that.
"With the help of an old friend, I was able to survive. No, I will not be returning and I sincerely request that you two keep silent about the matter." Severus stopped walking so that he and Minerva would be farther away from the doctor.
"Minerva, please. That world is dead to me."
"Severus, do you really wish to never stir a potion again or wear your robes? Hogwarts is prepared to offer you Potions Master and Head of Slytherin once more. You could choose to teach Defense or you could not teach at all. Please Severus." The Headmistress, although she was as strong woman, was begging him.
"Minerva—" Severus started then stopped, "We had best catch up to the Doctor and Poppy. May I ask, why did Poppy faint?"
Minerva nervously glanced around to make sure no one was looking. "Her magic has always been sensitive to concealment charms. You cast a glamour over your Mark, I suspect and she felt it. Therefore, she decided to do a Notice Magic charm, to make sure an ex Death Eater wasn't out to kill us or anything. Next thing I know she is on the ground."
"In the maritime industry, we call the floor the deck."
"Ever the teacher, I see." Minerva smirked.
As they neared the ship's hospital, Minerva gave Severus another small plea to return but he made no indication that he had even heard her.
The Hospital on the ship was of moderate size, for a ship. But to someone who had never seen a ship's hospital before, Minerva thought it was ridiculously small.
There was a moderate size window letting the sunshine stream in. Six beds were arranged closely together. Off to one side, there was a small door labeled "dispensary.' Minerva was glad that the room did give off a clean feeling.
By the time Minerva and Severus had arrived, the doctor was helping Poppy lie down. Minerva gracefully walked over to her friend and then sat on the nearest bed. The two women began quietly chatting.
"I will give a report to the Captain, he may want to see you. Then go take a nap – you look exhausted on your feet," the Doctor quietly ordered Snape, who was still standing in the doorway.
"Doctor, I can assure you I am perfectly fine. It is not currently possible for me to nap because I am expected on the bridge in an hour," Severus explained in his silky baritone. Both men were suddenly aware of the women's giggling. As the doctor went over to ask them to quiet down so Poppy could rest a while, Severus took his opportunity to gracefully slip out.
After he had checked in with the 2nd mate, and had a quick lunch in the crew's mess, Severus went out to think about everything he had been presented with that morning.
"They say you aren't too fond of home," a deep voice said softly, pulling Severus out of his thoughts.
"Captain! Sir, I had no idea you were right there," Severus began to apologize.
"Relax, no harm done lad. But I am curious why a man who was so eager to leave and never look back is looking longingly at his home shores," the wise, old officer questioned.
"I was presented with a scenario I thought impossible."
"It's not any of my business but it would be a welcome excuse from my meeting."
"It is trivial, Captain."
"If it was so trivial, you wouldn't be late for watch – no swearing, there are ladies around us," the Captain said with a twinkle in his eyes.
Caught off guard, Snape almost visibly panicked.
After a few seconds of trying to keep a straight face, the Captain laughed.
"Lad – it was a joke – you still have twenty minutes. Please, join me in my office for a cup of coffee," the older man suggested.
"I must admit sir, I am not sure I find your brand of humor terribly amusing."
"Sorry about that. But you did look so lost in thought. Its not a look you see often around here – most of these men don't think period." Snape hid his snort at this comment.
The Captain opened up this office and showed Snape in. Surprisingly, the Captain closed the door afterwards.
"So what is the scenario you were presented with?"
"Well, sir, I am not sure you would really understand." Snape typically hated stall tactics but he did admit they could be useful occasionally.
"Let's just say I know what you did last year and I know what that mark on your arm means. Try me."
"Sir, but how?"
"Well, I see it will take some explaining to get you to trust me. I was born to one of the lesser pureblood families but I am a Squib. Fortunately, my parents thought to provide me with the best muggle education out there and still talk to me. Therefore, I know a few things about your world."
"You – You – You are a Squib?" Severus asked in complete disbelief.
"I believe that it what I just said," the captain commented as he raised his eyebrow.
"Right, sir. So I suppose you want me to tell you the situation?" the Captain nodded and made a motion for Severus to continue, "Professor McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey recognized me. Poppy, apparently, fainted once she realized who I was. I heard Minerva's call for assistance and responded appropriately."
"I see. But that doesn't seem to be the predicament you are in."
"While I was escorting Minerva to the Hospital, she offered me my old Professorial post back home," Severus answered clearly but he was pleased to be able to share his secret with someone. As an ex-spy, he is incredibly relieved to no longer have to hide secrets.
"So what are you going to do about that offer? We will definitely miss you around here but you are welcome to go, if that's your desire. However, if its not your thing, then you have a job here," the Captain offered as he poured himself a cup of coffee.
"I'm thinking about returning to Hogwarts but I was wondering what you thought about an arrangement where I taught during the school year but sailed during the summers. Now that I am back on the water – I just think that I would not be able to completely leave it."
"I understand completely, lad. But now I should probably let you head to watch. Think about it – I think you know where you belong."
"Yes, sir. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me."
"Anytime, lad" the Captain dismissed Severus with a wave of his hand. Severus solemnly and quietly made his way through watch.
Throughout his watch, he was much more quiet then usual and continued to contemplate his situation.
"You okay over there, Severus?" the mate asked as their watch was almost finished.
"You have barely said two words all watch. I know you are usually quiet but this afternoon was probably one of the quietest I watch I have ever heard."
"Thanks, mate," Severus bit back sarcastically.
"I apologize. Good watch then – see you in eight hours. Sleep well"
"Same to you, sir" Severus answered and left the bridge, determined to make a decision about returning to Hogwarts or not.
That night was a long one for Severus, since he spent the whole night thinking rather than sleeping.
"I heard you are considering leavin' us," the bos'un commented as he sat down next to Severus in the crew's mess.
"Bloody hell. The rumors on this ship –"
"So you mean to tell me that ya aren't leavin'? I would hate to loose such a fine AB like yourself."
"I didn't realize that my potential," Severus added a glare at the older man for emphasis, "departure would cause any problems."
"May I ask why you are considering it then?"
"It is a personal matter."
"Well, if ya do go, we will miss ya," the bos'un clapped Severus on the shoulder and went to go get another cup of coffee.
"Yo, Snape, Cap'tain wants to see you in his office," one of the other ABs called from the doorway.
"Thanks," Severus called back before throwing out his untouched breakfast.
When he arrived at the Master's suite, he politely knocked.
"Who is it?" the Captain called gruffly through the door.
"Come on in, then." Snape did so and was startled to discover Minerva and Poppy sipping tea in the office.
"Good Morning, Headmistress, Poppy, Captain," he politely greeted but stood at almost rigid attention.
"I'd offer you a chair but we seem to have run out," the Captain answered, almost apologetically.
"Its no problem, sir. I am fine standing."
"Nonsense, Severus," Minerva reprimanded him lightly as she conjured a black but comfortably chair. Severus reluctantly sat down, but only after a stern glare from the Captain.
"Sit, lad. As long as you don't fall asleep on us, I have no objection to comfort. Snape had briefly closed his eyes and felt the warmth of the magic surround him.
Quickly, he snapped his eyes open and nodded to the Captain.
"You seem a bit tired," Poppy commented. She was taken aback when by the simultaneous snorts from Severus and the Captain.
Minerva made a quick motion with her wand, which Severus recognized as a silencing spell, before hiding her wand back up her sleeve.
"We called this meeting to discuss you future in the magical world. Hogwarts needs you Severus."
"I am hated in the magical world. I killed the greatest wizard there ever was. Why would I ever want to go back?" Snape declared angrily.
"You are hero, Order of Merlin, 1st class. We, of course, knew that you weren't dead because your portrait was most stubborn in coming to life. We are extremely happy to have found you," Minerva patiently explained. Poppy had risen from her chair and laid a soothing hand on his back.
"You are suffering," Poppy stated as a fact.
Severus shrugged her hand off and simply stated "It is the price I've paid. I am fit for my duties."
The Captain raised his eyebrow but chose not to comment just then.
"Will you at least consider coming back to the magical world? You could run a potions business" Minerva pleaded.
"I have a contract to fulfill."
"I could let you out of it early," the Captain offered, "You would be welcome to come back anytime you'd like, for as long as you'd like."
"How long do I have to consider you offer?" Severus asked Minerva.
"We are getting off in seven days in Miami. I request your answer by then."
"Then you shall have my answer by then," Severus gracefully rose to his feet," May I resume my duties, sir?"
"No, sit back down," the Captain ordered sternly. He softened his voice and continued, "Ladies, thank you for bringing this to my attention. I hope you have an enjoyable cruise."
The two women thanked the Captain and he then escorted them out into the hallway. He whispered to Poppy his plan and asked her to stay behind. She eagerly agreed and, unbeknownst to Severus, was waiting right outside the door.
"Spill it, now," the Captain turned to Snape as soon as the door was shut.
"What are you talking about, sir?" Severus asked respectfully. He knew perfectly well but decided to play innocent.
"Your physical well-being is my responsibility, and as a result, I need to know what's going on, so spill it."
"As I already told you, I am fit for my duties aboard the ship."
"I might not be a legilimens, but you are lying. Care to restate that?"
"Its nothing, sir." The Captain glared at Severus for a few moments and began to open his mouth. Realizing he was in deep trouble already, Severus decided to just answer the question.
"The poison from the snake-bite was not completely neutralized so occasionally I have back spasms or pain. Occasionally a moderate fever. Nothing I can't function through."
"Can that Poppy lady help? She is the school nurse at Hogwarts, correct?"
"Yes, sir, she is. I – did not think of asking her for help."
"I want her to check you out. Until you get checked out by a magical healer, you are relieved from duties."
"Sir! I object. There is no need for that. I am fine!" Snape sprang to his feet and fought to control his temper.
"My hands are tied in this Severus. You know how this industry works."
"If I get checked out by her today, may I resume by duties for this evening?"
"Depends on the report."
"Who will cover my watch?"
"I'll find someone. Poppy, if you would come in," the Captain called through the closed door.
Severus let out a string of swears under his breath.
"Language!" the Captain reprimanded.
Severus mumbled under his breath "Sorry, sir."
"Poppy, I have told Severus that he is relieved of his duties until you have declared him fit. We have to be certain that he will be able to perform his duties reliably. Do you need anything?" The captain asked her.
"If you have a muggle medical kit readily available, I would appreciate it," Poppy responded as she moved behind the still-seated Severus.
"Severus, you are to escort Poppy to your personal quarters. I would have sent you to the hospital but I don't want the statue of secrecy compromised. I expect you back here at 1300."
"Understood, Captain," Snape retorted harshly, still seething.
"Lad, its only for own benefit," the Captain handed Poppy the EMT kit he kept in his office, "Poppy, thank you for doing this. I am sorry to waste your vacation time"
"Its not a problem," Poppy said.
"Thank you, sir," Severus added, a little less angrily, as he held his arm out to escort Poppy.
"Thank you, Severus, for deciding to be cooperative," The Captain commented lightly as he held the door for the pair.
"I have known Severus since he was eleven years old. I am sure he will cooperate for me," Poppy smiled.
Severus was oddly quiet as he led her down a maze of passageways and ladderwells. Eventually, the fancy carpeting and beautiful decorations faded to steel deck plates and grey bulkheads.
Abruptly, Severus stopped in front of door #1702 and fumbled in his pocked for the muggle key.
"Home, sweet, home," Severus muttered under his breath as he opened the door. His room barely fit the desk and bed. In one corner there was a tiny head (bathroom). It was neat and orderly but did not feel very welcoming, in Poppy's opinion.
"Lets get this over with, shall we?" Poppy asked gently. She gave him a pointed look and he grudgingly lay down on the bed.
"Drop the glamour, please and tell me what's wrong," she asked as she picked up his wrist to take his pulse. He wearily waved his other hand and his glamour fell. Poppy managed to hide her response to how different he looked.
"Nagini's bite contained a fair amount of venom in it. The majority has been neutralized but the remainder is still causing problems. I have maxed out the number of detoxifying potions I can safely take so I am just riding the rest out."
"Symptoms?" Poppy questioned as she quickly scribbled down notes to herself.
"Occasionally a muscle spasm or shooting pains, I am usually able to walk through them. I typically have a moderate fever at night," Severus kept his eyes focused on the ceiling above him.
"Alright. I am not sure how much I can do for you but I need to do a full medical examination. To being with, I am going to do it the muggle way," she explained as she rummaged around through the EMT bag.
"Why the muggle way?" Severus asked, his curiosity suddenly peaked. Poppy handed him a thermometer and he glared in response but put it in his mouth anyway.
"Casting a large amount of magic might make the Ministry suspicious. Plus, I can gain a lot of knowledge from doing a hands-on examination. Additionally, since Nagini was a magical animal, her venom might make you particularly sensitive to magic being cast on you."
The thermometer beeped and Poppy took it directly from Severus' mouth.
"What is it?" Severus propped himself up on his elbows, trying to get a good look at it.
"99.9 F (37.7 C). Do you have a headache or any other symptoms right now?"
"I didn't sleep much last night so I have a headache from being overtired."
Poppy raised her eyebrow skeptically and requested, "Sit up and take off your shirt, please. I want to listen your lungs."
Severus managed to sit up unassisted but stubbornly refused to take off his shirt.
"Honestly, Severus, its not like I haven't seen you naked before. Shirt off, now." Reluctantly, Severus pulled off his shirt and immediately began shivering.
Quickly and efficiently, Poppy listen to his lungs and to her relief, they sounded clear.
"Thank you, Severus, you may put your shirt back on now."
He gratefully did so and flopped back down on the bed with an ungraceful thump.
"You seem exceptionally exhausted." Poppy commented as she packed away the muggle kit.
"It was a long night last night." Severus explained sleepily before yawning.
"Did you get any sleep?"
"Go ahead and take a quick nap while I perform the diagnostic and write up the report," she said gently as she tucked the blankets around him.
He mumbled an incoherent thank you before falling into an exhausted slumber.
Poppy ran her wand over the sleeping man in a complicated motion. He briefly woke up when he felt the magic roll through him but went straight back to sleep.
"Fever of 99.9 F (37.7 C), moderate headache, moderate amount of snake venom, exhaustion and dehydration" Poppy's diagnostic charm read a few minutes later. Quietly, she conjured a ballpoint pen and a notebook to write her report for the Captain.
Just over an hour later, she reluctantly decided to wake Severus up.
"Is your report finished?" Severus asked groggily.
"Yes but I'm afraid you won't like what it says."
"Poppy, please, I can perform my job. Please don't force me off the ship," Severus sat up and begged her.
"Yes, you are capable of doing your job but your immune system is very weak. If left untreated without strengthening potions, you will develop infections a very fast rate and a small little cold could turn deadly for you. Also, while you have been away, a new detoxification potion has been patented and it promises to be effective. Of course, you would need to go back to the magical world for treatment."
Severus stared down at his lap for a few minutes before whispering, "Would you be able to give me the new treatment at Hogwarts?"
"In your quarters, even, if you promised to behave. No one would have to know that you were even in the castle, except for Minerva. But if we don't hurry up, we will be late for our meeting with the Captain."
Poppy helped a shaky Severus stand up and begin walking through the ship. He did not even reapply the glamour so he appeared pale and weak, fighting the poison constantly wearing him down.
"You okay?" a fellow AB asked as he passed the pair. Poppy, with the EMT bag on her shoulder, was supporting Severus as he struggled to make it up the stairs.
Snape managed to give the AB a quick nod yes. The AB accepted the answer, although the look he gave Snape clearly said that he thought Severus was most definitely lying.
Eventually, they made it up to the Captain's office and Poppy knocked briskly on the door.
"Come in," the Captain called and Poppy helped Severus sit in one of the chairs.
"Goodness, lad, what happened to you?"
"He was hiding his appearance with a skillfully applied glamour," Poppy stated as she handed the Captain her report.
The Captain glanced at it and sighed.
"Do you know what this says, Severus?"
"Yes, sir. She told me earlier."
"So you are exhausted because of the all the arguing you had to do?" the Captain teased.
"He accepted it pretty well, considering who is he is. What he won't like is what I have to say next," both men turned and looked at her expectantly, "I want to apparate him to Hogwarts this afternoon, especially before we get too far away from England."
Severus opened his mouth to protest but the Captain motioned him to stay silent. "The sooner I can start treatment, the less damage the venom will continue to do. He will keep getting worse until something is done about it."
"I have been doing fine for the past few months!" Severus protested.
"Your body is loosing the fight though. Haven't you noticed you are getting more and more tired, not to mention weaker and weaker?"
The Captain silently prepared Severus' seamen's discharge from the ship as Poppy explained to Severus why he hadn't noticed it yet.
"Lad, here is your paperwork and your pay off. I put you down for a personal discharge and it does not say that you quit. Keep in touch and next summer you are welcome to sail with us. I suggest you and Poppy go back to your room to pack up. I will have someone fetch Minerva and bring her down to Severus' quarters. Any questions?"
"Thank you, sir," Severus answered honestly as he shook the Captain's hand.
"Thank you, Poppy. I am sorry you were not able to finish your cruise," the Captain said as he shook hands with the Healer.
Half an hour later, Severus, Minerva and Poppy were standing in Severus' tiny quarters. His seabag was lying beside Poppy and he was almost asleep on his feet.
"Ready to go back to the magical world, Severus?" Minerva asked gently.
"Yes." He answered with finality but a touch of sadness. He loved the ocean and the ships, but knew that he belonged in the magical world. He would be back though, every summer, to sail, for that he was sure. But for now, he just really wanted a nap.
Thank you for reading!