The Hard Part
Timeline: Summer of 1998
Summary: He had never thought physically recovering, much less living with an injury that couldn't be fixed, would be the hard part of living past the end of the war. Alternate ending AU.
Characters: Severus Snape, Poppy Pomfrey
Warning: Deathly Hallows spoilers, including things that will be revealed in the Part 2 movie.
The first chapter of "The Hard Part" was written for terajk's 'People with Disabilities (PWD) Being Awesome Commentfic Fest'.
The prompt is from terajk on DW: "Any fandom, any PWD, stop helping me." I went with a 'trying to fix' definition of help. This was partly inspired by watching Roger Ebert's TED Talk on why he can't talk anymore and by some research I did after a relative had much-more-minor problems after throat surgery.
"The Hard Part" is also based on my personal favorite bit of disability fanon, courtesy of long-ago discussions in the Asperger community on LJ, and given the subject matter there was no way I wasn't going to throw it in.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
Severus Snape hadn't thought it would be the hard part when he woke up and understood that he was going to live with the aftermath of everything that had happened.
Surviving Nagini's attack had hurt, but there wasn't much struggle involved in lying still while Poppy poked at him between Sleeping Draughts.
Dealing with the Ministry? When Shacklebolt had peered into a certain Pensieve before it could be emptied? No hearing. He wasn't even going to be called before the Board Of Governors.
His future? When everyone was all for keeping him at his post under some Muggle concept of 'you break it, you bought it'? Not that he minded remaining headmaster, not really - even though he'd not be admitting that any time soon. After the past year, and after years before that being a Head Of House, the Head's Office seemed the best place to stand to keep history from repeating.
Privately at least, he considered that more a responsibility to the future than anything else. It wasn't the hard part, even with its importance to the world.
The hard part hadn't even been those few long afternoons when Potter had asked questions and he had written down everything for the young man, even the things he'd intentionally shared the memories of already for the sake of giving Potter a personal record of it all. The worst of that was already out in the open.
Perhaps the Muggles who said confession was good for the soul had been right. It had been a hard part, undoubtedly, but not the hard part, and the feeling of not hiding things anymore had made up for the effort.
The hard part was this: Poppy apologizing again, lamenting that there was only so much that could be done even with magic and offering to try to find something, anything, even though he already knew that the human throat was so delicate he should be damned grateful that he could breathe and eat without hurting.
Being forced to speak at a loud whisper or less because of pain from damaged vocal chords? There were worse things.
He'd seen worse things happen, often enough that he could have a nightmare a week for the rest of his days and never run out of material.
"Severus, there's a new study. A witch in Boston thinks with the right combination of spellwork and potions..."
"Poppy, no!" he rasped as loudly as he could manage, unable to hold in the resulting grimace.
He felt slightly guilty at the way the blood left her face.
"Poppy, I can manage," he murmured after a short coughing fit and half a glass of water. "Once I get my wand back..."
"You can't cast Sonorous Charms all the time! You'll drain yourself..." she fretted.
"Most of my job is paperwork anyway."
'stop' he signed, fumbling with his left hand through the mostly unfamiliar motion. Sign language in the wizarding world was one-handed - the better to keep a wand firmly in the other - and supposedly taught at Hogwarts as part of a basic defensive education as a solution to Silencing Charms, but it was so rarely used that most witches and wizards only remembered ten or so signs by the time they took their NEWTs.
The ten signs the NEWTs bothered requiring.
He himself knew the language on sight - the better to 'overhear' his opponents with - but it had been years and years since he'd needed to use any of it. Until now.
Poppy was quiet.
"If I need help, I'll ask for it," he rasped, just on the edge of feeling it. "Let me try to work through this myself."
After a moment, she nodded and handed him yet another potion.
What she didn't know, and what he wasn't going to tell her or any other fellow witch or wizard if he could help it, was that he was still known by the Muggles of his childhood neighborhood as that strange kid who read at two, spoke his first sentence at five, and as an adult could still order dinner at the local pub, eat, pay, and leave in under fifty words.
They'll laugh and say I knew I'd need to know how to get by without talking someday, he thought as he started to go under. It will be good to go home.
Another two weeks to go before Poppy would even consider releasing him, thanks to the side-effects of the blood loss combined with those from how he managed to survive - all of which required rest to finish healing and were the main reason for the continued sleeping potions.
He couldn't wait to go home, to have time to adapt in a place where simply not talking much would be just the way he'd always been. The scars would be something even Muggles could understand, even if he'd have to think up an explanation for just why a snake that big had tried to rip his throat out.
Never thought I'd be looking forward to going home to the Muggles...