Gather Ye Rosebuds
By: GothicLolita009, aka Hayley Macrae
Summary: Written for Professor Flitwick's Prompt of the Day for 8/25/10: "Time is chasing after all of us." Johnny Depp as J.M. Barrie in Finding Neverland. Albus Dumbledore returns to Hogwarts, gravely injured. Severus Snape is the one he asks to help him.
Disclaimer: All HP characters, locations and the like are property of J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. The section of poem is by Robert Herrick. It is being used without permission with with no intent to copyright any material herein.
"What is it, Madame Pomfrey?" he asked, rubbing his face, his thumb and index lingering at the bridge of his nose as he pinched it.
"Please come quick...it's Albus!"
The latter was all Snape needed to hear. He rose immediately from his chair, grabbing some Floo powder. He ended up just outside the Headmaster's office, which was cracked slightly. Madame Pomfrey was attempting to revive Dumbledore.
"Aside, please," said Snape, pointing his wand at the Headmaster. "Ennervate."
The blue eyes opened, and a weak smile lit up his face.
"Severus..." he murmured, raising his hand weakly, a band of pretty gold and an equally pretty stone falling onto his desk.
"Headmaster," murmured Severus, looking from the ring and the the blackened hand.
"The sword...please, Severus...Gryffindor's sword."
Reaching into the glass case, Snape drew forth the sword. Dumbldore seemed to gather his strength, and brought the sword with an almighty crash down upon the desk, cracking the ring in two. The sword dropped to the desk and out of his limp grasp. Dumbledore fell back into his chair as if the effort had cost him every ounce strength he could muster.
Now that he was prostrate and unmoving, Snape was able examine the blackened hand more closely. The curse was deadly, that much was to be assured, if the item was what he assumed it to be. However, Snape wrenched his mind from making suppositions and back to the task at hand.
Closing his eyes, Snape gently probed at Dumbledore's mind, asking him to relay the crucial information he would need. Flashes of an old ramshackle house, and Dumbledore himself putting on the ring. The curse activated almost immediately, and screaming seemed to ring in Snape's head. He nodded inwardly.
"Damn it, Albus—you will stay with us," said Snape icily as he rose back to his feet, "you will need to remain here...I've a potion to make up."
With a sweeping of his ebony robes, Snape took another bit of Floo powder.
"Asphodil...essence of phoenix tears...narcissus or dandelion...of course there will need to be something to bring up the magical..."
Snape stopped momentarily, stunned at the fast workings of his brain. It had registered not only the obvious physical damage, but the damage to the magical powers and, in theory, the soul of Albus Dumbledore. And without conscious thought of it. A well-oiled machine that.
Mentally going through every potion ingredient in his mind, he decided there was nothing for it.
'I've already given up sweat and tears,' he thought with irony as he picked up a silver knife, 'might as well add blood.'
And, choosing a prominent vein which was easily accessible in the crook of his right arm, Snape winced a little as the knife pierced flesh. A bright red river flowed easily down his pale arm. Turning it, he allowed a few drops of his own blood to fall into the simmering cauldron, turning it a bright gold and thickening the mixture within.
"Ferula," he murmured, pointing his wand at the wound. It was bandaged at once. He stirred three times clockwise, once counterclockwise. Taking up the goblet and his wand, he went back to the Headmaster's office.
Snape murmured the ancient words of healing, tipping the goblet down Dumbledore's throat as his ebony wand did its work of sealing. The headmaster's blue eyes soon opened, and he looked over at Snape, who was returning his gaze with a look of annoyance and anger.
"Why Severus, did I wake you?"
"Mostly," murmured the Potions master with a sigh, seating himself across from Dumbledore.
"I must apologize then...and of course, thank you for-"
"It's a miracle you actually were able to return," said Snape with a dismissive hand. "That ring carries a curse, surely you knew that? I have managed to trap the curse in one hand for the time being."
"I am fortunate, most fortunate, that I have you, Severus," replied Dumbledore without batting an eye, "how long do you think I have?"
"A year—maybe less."
Snape's tone was clipped, but clear. He had no desire to confirm what he had no doubt the elder wizard knew; Death had marked him.
"Thank you, Severus," said Dumbledore, "had it not been for your quick action, I've no doubt my plans to assist Harry, imparting the information he needs, would have been irrevocably damaged."
Snape merely looked at Dumbledore, black meeting blue.
"Of course," murmured Snape, "it is all about the plan, isn't it? Perhaps you do not trust me enough to divulge it to me, despite the fact you-"
"Severus, please," replied the other, raising his newly blackened hand, "it is not that which I wish to discuss with you. And you should know better than that. I trust you implicitly. It is more my preference not to put all my secrets in a basket which spends so much time danging upon the arm of Lord Voldemort."
"I do that on your orders," hissed Snape, rising to his feet in anger, "and as to this master plan to rid the world of the Dark Lord for good and all, this may have escaped your notice, but I have always done what you have asked me, and more. You have used me."
"I have spied for you, lied for you, even bled," he said, dragging up his sleeve to show Dumbledore the bandage on his arm.
"Your loyalty does not go unnoticed, Severus," said Dumbledore softly, "but—this new development changes things significantly. We can be sure...I must waste no time..."
"You still insist upon keeping me in the dark over what you and Potter are speaking over," said Snape, annoyed, as he sat back down again.
"I've told you, Severus. There isn't time to go over a closed subject. Harry needs to know these things, and after the affair of the silver doe..."
"Thank you, Severus. And now—I am sure there are other duties which require your attention."
With a sweep of black robes, Snape turned to go.
"Time is chasing us all, Severus. Gather ye rosebuds while you may."
"Thank you, Headmaster. I shall remember."
A year later, Albus Dumbledore was dead.