by Dream Painter
Summary: All Harry wanted was a few happy memories of his parents, yet, when he fails in the attempt, it might very well cost his life. In answer to the Potions Poisoning Challenge by Jan_AQ on Potions and Snitches.
Story Notes: AU, basic canon through start of fourth year; Snape knows some medicinal magic, but is not as proficient as Pomfrey. Chapter 14 rewritten and revised as of 12/30/12.
Potions Poisoning Challenge by Jan_AQ:
"Harry tries to brew a complicated potion on his own in secret. Unfortunately he messes up, poisoning himself in the process. Severus Snape, Potions Master, is called to fix it. Poisoning can be from preparation of the ingredients or the finished potion, during the summer or at Hogwarts, etc."
**Disclaimer: If you recognize it, it isn't mine. I hereby disclaim any possession of the characters or any and all canon events or dialog.**
A/N: A special thanks to my favorite Scot, Fraggle (Mind of the Dragon), who checked for any reader-eating plot holes, and to my best friend and roommate, Ebbtide, who heard the whole thing – and then some! – from start to finish. Love you both!
Harry Potter bent over the cauldron set up in the middle of the floor. He'd been thinking about doing something like this all summer. After his encounters with the dementors the previous school year, the boy dreamed frequently of that night his parents had died. It occurred to him that if he could recall that memory, then maybe he could find a way to remember others before that, when his parents were still alive.
At first, he couldn't determine how he would best accomplish his goal, but then something he had read in one of his textbooks came back to him. A thorough search while his aunt and uncle were sleeping soon uncovered it in his first year Potions text, in the chapter on memory potions. It was mentioned only in passing: Perfectus Memoria, also known as the Perfect Memory Draught.
Upon returning to Hogwarts, Harry had spent so much time in the library that Hermione had begun to think he had turned over a new leaf. His research took only a couple of weeks before he found the directions for the potion and set to work gathering the ingredients. Several he had in his own kit and a few he was able to come by without breaking any rules, but the rest – nearly half – he had to pilfer from Snape's private and student stores.
Hermione had quickly grown concerned by his secretive behavior and even Ron had made an effort to keep an eye on him, but Harry told them nothing. He got his friends in enough trouble as it was, he wasn't about to drag them into this as well. Besides, now all he had to do was brew it.
It was a Hogsmeade Saturday. Harry had declined joining his friends, stating that he just wanted some time alone. Hermione had looked like she wanted to argue, but Ron had nudged her out through the portrait hole before she could start. No sooner were they gone, than he had secreted himself to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom on the second floor. Now, it was just after lunch and he was more than halfway through making the potion.
"Stir counter-clockwise," he murmured aloud as he read the directions he had copied down, "six times, before adding the four Jobberknoll feathers..." He had reached the count of three when Myrtle appeared with a sudden screech. Startled, he jumped, knocking the cauldron off of its stand onto the flagstone floor. As the potion sloshed back upon itself, there was an ominous hiss followed almost instantly by a deafening crack as the potion exploded.
Professor Snape looked profoundly unamused. Not that he often looked otherwise, but his ill-humor at the current moment seemed more pronounced than usual. He'd been called from his private lab to investigate a potions accident – in the second floor girls' lavatory, no less. It just figured that Potter would be the source of the trouble. After determining that no lasting damage had been done to Myrtle's bathroom, he made his way to the hospital wing where the boy was being looked over by Madame Pomfrey.
"As there appears to be nothing else, Poppy, I think I shall go try to determine what, exactly, Mr. Potter did to make a memory draught so explosive," he dryly declared.
"I assume that means I can finish treating my patient, now?" the mediwitch demanded. She was a bit annoyed. Though, she'd already healed a gash above the boy's right ear and several cuts along his arms and face, she had yet to get a second look at him because a certain Potions professor had been questioning him. The small pucker between Harry's brows could very well mean the poor child had a headache.
"I see no reason why you can't," Severus responded indifferently. She frowned reprovingly at him and he returned it with a slight smirk before turning to leave.
"Let's finish getting you cleaned up, Mr. Potter," Pomfrey said.
The Potions Master headed to his office, intent upon researching what Potter had done wrong. He recognized the potion scrawled upon the parchment, of course. Perfectus Memoria. Snape wasn't overly familiar with the draught. Most people avoided it as it caused its drinker to recall all previous memories – including those which were unpleasant or repressed. He couldn't help but wonder why Potter would feel the need for such a brew.
As he read over the ingredients yet again, alarm bells began to sound. It didn't take much to make a lot of potions unstable – the more elements, the easier this became – and even though memory draughts were known for their stability, it was not entirely unheard of for one to explode, particularly since this potion called for Erumpent horn shavings, which often were a bit combustible. Furthermore, the boy had mistaken a mildly toxic plant for a benign one, but that wasn't the source of Snape's unease.
No. The situation alone reminded him of something he'd seen or read somewhere. Slowly, he went over the ingredients list once more, reading them aloud under his breath. "... lacewing flies, gurdyroot, asphodel, Jobberkno-" He stopped short, suddenly remembering where he'd read about the scenario before.
Hurrying the rest of the way to his office, he went straight to the far bookshelf and pulled down a dusty tome. After a bit of fumbling, the man located the page he was searching for. His eyes scanned it long enough to confirm his suspicions before he lunged for the floo, throwing a handful of powder into the grate.
"Hospital wing!" he shouted, speeding across Pomfrey's office a split-second later and jerking the door open. "Don't give him anything!"
The mediwitch jumped in surprise as his yell echoed in the large room, dropping the potion she held onto the floor. "Severus?" she gasped, trying to regain her composure. "Good heavens, what..."
"What have you given him?" Snape demanded, striding over to where she stood near Potter's bed.
"Well, I put antiseptic on his cuts before I healed them, and some bruise salve..."
"What has he ingested?" the man clarified.
Poppy looked a bit miffed. "Nothing, as of yet," she tartly replied. "I was about to give the poor boy a mild pain draught before you came storming in here, scaring the daylights out of me."
"Give him nothing. He is not to take any potions unless I have brewed them specifically for him."
Harry, who'd watched the adults' interchange silently up to this point, gave a cry of protest. "That's not fair!" he winced as his head throbbed, then lowered his voice. "Professor, I know I messed up, but this really isn't –"
"This really isn't up for negotiation, Potter," Snape informed him. Pomfrey regarded the man with growing alarm and confusion.
"Why, then?" Harry snapped. "Why can't I have a stupid pain draught?"
The Potions Master leveled a scowl at him. "Because that 'stupid pain draught' would most assuredly have left you in a coma," he growled. "That is assuming, of course, that it didn't kill you."
Harry's anger abruptly vanished. "What?"
"Congratulations, Mr. Potter. You're dying."