The small room tucked away in a nearly forgotten corner of St. Mungo's hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries looked the same as it had for the past 19 years on this particular day. At 3:00 in the afternoon, a slight wizard with disheveled jet black hair and crooked glasses was strolling down the hallway, just as he had done once a week for every one of those years. To him, the day seemed perfectly ordinary, quite similar to a lot of the ones he lived through for a matter of fact. He entered the room, smiling briefly at a nurse who returned the gesture only to blush and quickly turn away, feigning interest in the plant she was watering. The wizard (who's name was Harry by the way) flopped down in a chair next to the hospital bed, and pulled out some official looking Ministry of Magic papers, intending to get some work done during his visit. Harry's mind, however, had different ideas. It drifted to his children, and most of all to his youngest son, Albus. Earlier that week Al and his older brother James had boarded the Hogwarts express, sending Al to his first year of wizarding school. Harry knew that Hogwarts would probably give his son the best years of his life, but he couldn't help but worry for him. His thoughts continued to wander, bringing up old memories from his school days, and before he knew it darkness had fallen and visiting hours were almost over. Harry was just collecting himself and reading over his papers when he heard a grunt in the direction of the bed. The sound was alarming, as the man in the bed (who's chart read Montague Prince) had not made any in the past two decades. Harry jumped, eyes wide and fixed on the figure next to him. With a certain horror he realized that the man's face had started twitching, and in a sudden movement he had propped himself up on one arm. If the sound the man had made before was alarming, the one he was making now, a rattling, wheezing breath, was, well...real freaking horror show. Harry jumped to his feet, numbed with surprise. "Professor, Professor! Be careful! You should lay back down." It was odd how Professor was the only word Harry could call this man. In the days when he had been conscious Harry could barley muster uttering a Sir in his direction. The man heard him and stopped still, slumping against the bed and squinted disbelievingly at Harry's face hanging above him.
"Potter? You're still here?"
"Er... well, yeah." replied Harry "Im not really sure what you mean...but, hold on, I'll find the nurse" Harry darted to the door wanting to escape this jolt to his reality. Could he really be up now after all these years? As Harry did this, Severus Snape took a moment to look at his small hospital room, take in the randomly purchased plants and copies of Witch Weekly Harry had bought to make the place look homey, and gape at his former student and secret ward. Harry looked older, yet disturbingly the same and Snape couldn't quite comprehend the situation he was in.
"Why am I in the hospital, Potter?" demanded Snape harshly. Harry nervously tried to avoid the gaze of his former potions teacher, silently hoping that he had actually fallen asleep and that all of this was a very messed up dream.
"Professor, its all very complicated, Im just going to get the nurse and-"
"POTTER! If you do not inform my as to why I am her this instant I will-" Harry looked up and caught Snape's glare for just a flash of a second. In it he saw confusion and desperation so intense that he was taken aback. The old spy's face was contorted and paler than snow, he looked nearly dead. Harry couldn't bear to look at it for another moment, and turning away, decided that it would be too cruel to make the man wait.
"Alright" he said, tensely, "Just give me a second, okay?" He still could not seem to form a coherent thought about how to explain the last two decades to a person who still seemed to hold nothing but hatred and contempt for him. "Merlin's Beard, how do I even start?" he uttered, rubbing his temples fiercely, "Erm...well...19 years ago, during the Battle of Hogwarts-"
"19 years?" Harry did not want to see Snape's expression as the news hit him. He ignored the comment and stared diligently at anything other than those dark tunnel eyes and ghostly complexion as he paced back and forth.
"we were in the shrieking shack, you were bitten my Voldemort's..." out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw Snape's mouth twitch, but the man said nothing, so he continued "snake bit you, and we all thought you were dead, but then it turns out that you weren't, so I had you sent here." Harry, upon finishing, realized what an abrupt explanation he had given and tried even harder to avoid eye contact, now attempting to memorize the pattern of the floor tiles. Snape was quiet for what seemed like an eternity, and Harry felt as if all the air had been sucked from the room.
"The Dark Lord is dead?" Snape finally asked, in a slow, weary voice that seemed foreign coming from his lips.
"Yes. Very dead."
"At your wondrously skilled hand, I presume?" Once a cranky old git, always a cranky old git, thought Harry, you would think a 20 year nap would make him a bit more tolerable...
"No, no! Crabbe and Goyle did it, of course!" countered Harry with a grin he knew would irk the older wizard.
"Don't get cheeky with me, Potter."
"Wouldn't dream of it." Snape fired a glare at Harry right out of their days as together in the dungeons.
"You sent me here?" he asked, incrediously. Harry met his gaze now, marveling at how Snape could make him feel 11 years old again even after years of being unconscious.
"Yeah" he countered, gaining confidence as he registered that Snape was the same man as the frail and sickly one he had been visiting. Snape stared at him for what felt like hours and eventually asked "Why?" in a sarcastic tone, adding "Don't you have master of the world duties to attend to?"
"I figured I owed you one" Snape rolled his eyes "or a couple. You saved my life a lot when I was a kid..."
"Well-" a dark eye brow arched over Severus' bone pale forehead as he prepared to comment.
"I know it was your job and all that, but I wasn't about to let you die" Snape looked away, appearing to be deep in thought. For a moment Harry wondered it it really had been the right thing to keep him alive all this time, because for a moment, it looked as if Snape would have preferred to die. He shit his eyes and sighed deeply, his eyebrow crunched until you could not distinguish one from the other. Slowly, he opened his eyes and turned to Harry with a half curious half exasperated face.
"Well, I am honored to be at the receiving end of another selfless act from Saint Potter" Snape drawled. "But, that still doesn't explain why you are here. I find it hard to imagine the 'Chosen One' sitting vigil at my bedside all these years." Harry was nervous about answering this one, he didn't quite know himself. He guessed he came every week for some solitude, to pay respect to this man that he owed so much to without having to be at the receiving end of his snippy comments, which had somehow re-entered his life as if they had not skipped a beat. After a few more long moments of examining the floor, he heard Snape's voice again. "Are you going to say something useful or just stand there like an idiot?" Harry sighed, and because he couldn't think of anything better to say, replied with "I'm here because I'm in love with you" hoping his voice could convey sarcasm as well as Snape's, and began to walk towards the door.
"Potter!" Harry turned to see Snape with a face of utter confusion "you are very strange" he said, in an uncharacteristically defeated tone.
"So I've heard." Harry walked back down the corridor, glad to be out of the most surreal conversation he had encountered in years. He nearly ran into the nurse while he was leaving and asked her to "Please give Mr. Prince a shot of firewhiskey for me won't you?" to which we received an even deeper blush than before and bewildered laughter. He chuckled to himself as he apparted home to have supper with Lily and Ginny