Disclaimer: Harry Potter and his world belong to J.K. Rowling. This story belongs to me.

A/N – Hello again, my wonderful readers! Thank you for all your kind words after the last chapter – it wasn't my favourite, and I might even go back and rewrite bits of it – but I appreciate your kindness all the same! I enjoyed writing this chapter a lot more, even more so once I'd sorted out a few plots holes that I realise had popped up! Anyway, I hope you like it!


~Strength in Weakness~

The Guilt


Pushing past his pain and exhaustion as best he could, Harry tiredly dragged himself back through the doorway of the old, abandoned house, running a shaky hand through his hair as he did so. With one last nervous look at the street outside, Harry dumped his newly acquired "supplies" and began to pull the broken door closed. The task, though necessary, took far longer than it ordinarily would have done, owing largely to the almost useless limb that his right arm had become.

Despite the fact that it had got them out of the rain and into relative safety last night, Harry couldn't help but think that knocking down the door certainly wasn't one of his proudest moments to date…

Once the door was firmly closed again, Harry shivered and hugged his good arm to his chest. He was still only wearing a t-shirt, and last night's rain meant that all his clothes were still slightly damp, so to say that he was cold was an understatement. It didn't help either that the house was missing half its windows. In fact, Harry was beginning to wonder if he'd ever feel warm again…

Suppressing another shiver, though allowing himself a small sigh, Harry slowly made his way back over to the far wall, specifically to where he'd unceremoniously dumped Snape last night, and where, ultimately, he'd passed out himself.

Not that his brief sleep had helped much, he admitted to himself. It was well passed midday now, but worry still gripped at his stomach, making it difficult for him to get any rest whatsoever, and it was made all the worse by the fact that Snape still hadn't woken up.

Harry had checked on the Professor as soon as he'd woken up this morning, fearful that Snape had slipped away in the night whilst Harry had been unconscious, but he had found that Snape's condition had barely changed. His shoulder had still looked a mess, and the unusually deathly pallor of his skin was still a worry, but he was alive, Harry told himself. That was something at least…

Harry sighed again, and took one last deep steadying breath before dumping his supplies by his side and finally crouching down over Snape. Guilt gripped at his mind, and it forced him to check again, compelling him to make sure that Snape was still alive, that he hadn't become responsible for yet another death...

Harry closed his eyes briefly, trying to will away the images that pounded at his mind. His parents, Quirrel, Cedric...

Harry shook himself slightly and forced himself to concentrate back on Snape's current condition. The Professor was still pale, almost as if he was already a ghost, making the dark circles under his eyes appear even more startling. Snape was almost deathly still as well, and, for a moment or two, Harry held his own breath just to make sure that Snape was still breathing as well. Once that was once again confirmed, though he didn't allow himself to feel too much relief, Harry knelt down, ready to inspect the man's shoulder again.

The heat surrounding the wound was unsettling, and the brightness of the blood still pooled in the area was startling, but Harry proceeded to pull the bandage off anyway. As much as he didn't want to even go near it, Harry knew that he had little choice. If there was even the smallest sign of infection, Harry knew that he was going to have to drag Snape off to the nearest hospital, never mind the consequences. He knew that they needed to stay hidden, but what use would that be if Snape died from his wounds..?

Snape couldn't die...

Harry inspected the wound closely, suppressing his growing nausea as he did so. Despite the heat surrounding his shoulder, to Harry's intense relief, infection didn't appear to have set in yet. Whether it was luck, the Professor's own immune system, or some latent magical reaction, Harry didn't care. He was just glad that he didn't have to deal with that along with everything else. Maybe they would survive this...

The wound seemed to have stopped bleeding as well, he noticed, and Harry breathed a deep sigh of relief, though he still made sure to replace the cloth ball and home-made bandages just in case.

Now all he needed to do was wait until Snape woke up, preferably sooner rather than later. Harry was scared, tired and hungry, but he couldn't shake the feeling that once Snape was back with him, everything would be alright. The man had saved him when he'd been poisoned, and he'd saved him at the Ministry. He would save them now too...

Final job done, Harry allowed himself to sit down, shifting until his back was against the wall. Tiredly, and trying to move his injured shoulder as little as possible, Harry pulled over his small bag of "supplies". This morning, once he'd realised that Snape was still unconscious and that they'd be stuck here a little longer, Harry had first explored the house – though that hadn't turned up much - then eventually the street outside.

Upon seeing a small, somewhat shady corner shop not too far from the house, Harry had quickly made a decision. Eventually, though a little bargaining and no small amount of begging, he had managed to sell his watch for a bit of money, which he'd immediately used to buy some food and water.

It had been hours since he'd eaten, and he reckoned it was probably about the same for Snape. It wasn't much, but since he'd had absolutely no money on him when he'd left for the Ministry – and since he also valued his life too much to check if Snape had any – there hadn't been a lot of choice.

Now, back in the safety of the rickety, old house, he took out one of the bottles of water he had managed to buy and drank as much as he could, knowing full well how important it was. Deep down, he knew that he should probably be saving whatever he could just in case, but Harry also knew that if he didn't drink some water, especially after all the excitement and stress of last night, he'd get severely dehydrated, and then he wouldn't be much use to anyone.

He'd experienced enough near-starvation at the Dursleys during his childhood to know that water was the most important thing when it came to survival.

Shoving that rather depressing thought away, Harry quickly pulled out a packet of crisps as well, eager to settle his starving stomach. With once last worried glance over to Snape, he ripped open the crisps and eagerly dug in.

As he ate his meagre meal, pausing occasionally to make sure that Snape was still alive, and that they were still alone in the rickety old house, Harry thought back to the day before.

It seemed like a lifetime ago that he was sat in the Great Hall, dreading meeting Snape in the evening for that talk.

In the end, the 'conversation' between him and Snape had gone as badly as he'd feared, but it was the aftermath that was still fixed firmly at the forefront of Harry's mind. He'd been upset, and because of that brief lapse, Voldemort had managed to get into his mind undetected. He'd been tricked, but in the end, it was Snape who had paid the price. Snape had saved his life by coming after him, and if Snape didn't make it now, Harry knew it would be all his fault…

"What is…that…infernal….rustling…?"

Harry nearly jumped out of his skin at the sudden noise, and it only by sheer will that he didn't cry out. With his heart thudding loudly in his chest, his exhausted brain took a few moments to work out what had happened.

When it eventually caught up, relief quickly overtook fear. He turned to Snape, hardly daring to believe it.

"Snape?" Harry asked tentatively, mostly because the man's eyes were still closed. He placed his almost empty crisp packet on the floor and immediately shuffled closer to Snape.

"Potter?" Snape mumbled. His voice was a little slurred and weak, but it was there. He was alright…

Harry's eyes widened. "Snape, you're awake…"

Snape cracked his own eyes open, immediately meeting Harry's worried gaze. "Obviously."

Harry bit back a sarcastic response, too relieved to even consider fighting with the man. He'd been angry with the Potions Master after their last disastrous conversation about his childhood, and he'd been furious with the man when he'd refused to let Harry go through the door to rescue Sirius once he'd made it to the Ministry, but none of that mattered now. Snape was alive…

"You shouldn't move, Sir," Harry said nervously, once he realised that Snape was trying to pull himself up. "You were injured."

"I realise that, Potter," Snape ground out, already clearly in a considerable amount of pain. "But as I have no desire…to die lying down, will you please…be so kind as to…help me sit up..."

Harry only just stopped himself from rolling his eyes, though it was a close run thing. And Snape thought he was stubborn…

Harry obeyed Snape's request, however, and dutifully moved over to the man's uninjured side. Carefully, using his one good arm, Harry helped Snape manoeuvre himself until his back was leaning against the wall. By the end of the movement, both he and Snape were sweating profusely, and Snape himself seemed to have paled even more, though that was hardly surprising. Harry knew that even though the Professor's shoulder had more or less stopped bleeding now, it was by no means healed.

"What's our…situation, Potter?"

"What?" Harry asked, turning to face Snape as he leant beside him against the creaky wall.

"What's our situation?" Snape repeated, obviously still struggling, though Harry detected the man's usual sarcasm bleeding through slightly. It seemed as if Snape was making a concerted effort to push his pain away, and Harry found his respect for the Professor grow even more.

"We're safe for now," Harry replied, glancing around the dark, dingy house. "You were hit by Voldemort's spell when the Portkey activated, so you were pretty much out of it when we landed. I managed to drag you here, and get you inside before you passed out. That was yesterday." Harry glanced at his left wrist, where his watch used to be, before frowning. "I think it's about Midday now."

Snape nodded, obviously trying to work through it in his head.

"I…er…I've managed to get us some supplies," Harry continued, a little nervous. "Some food, some water. It's not much, but I didn't have any money, so I was lucky to get that much."

"How did you get it?" Snape asked, and Harry immediately ducked his head. He'd been hoping Snape wouldn't ask.

Harry could hear the hint of an accusation in Snape's tone, and he immediately felt the rising of anger run through him, though he did his best to quickly quash it. He hadn't done anything wrong...

"Potter," Snape warned, when Harry didn't answer immediately.

"I didn't steal it, if that's what you're asking," Harry replied defensively, still a little annoyed by Snape's implication.

"Then how?" Snape pressed. Harry immediately felt frustration rise up in him, almost completely overtaking the relief he had felt only moments ago. Why couldn't Snape just be glad that he'd managed to get them anything at all…?

"Potter…"

"I sold my watch, alright?" Harry replied eventually, doing his best to suppress his growing annoyance, though his words came out harsher than he'd intended. "It was the only thing I had on me that was worth anything, and this area's shady enough that it didn't take long to find someone willing to buy it without asking too many questions." Harry took a deep breath, trying to calm down his beating heart. "Where the hell are we anyway?"

"I don't know," Snape replied bluntly, looking around himself at the dark house.

"You don't know?" Harry asked incredulously. He felt panic rear up in him again. "How can you not know? It was your bloody portkey!"

Harry knew he was getting slightly hysterical, but he couldn't help it. He was tired, scared, and in pain, and he had been counting on Snape to know what to do when he woke up...

"It was not a normal portkey, Potter," Snape replied tightly, clearly making an effort to bite back his frustration. "It was a phoenix feather, made into a portkey. It allowed us to get past the wards in the building and any that the Dark Lord might have put in place upon our discovery, but there was no particular destination keyed into it. It was always meant only to be a last resort. As to where it took us…it was not meant to carry two people. The magic in it was strong, but it would have been affected by the extra passenger. We could be anywhere."

The explanation, though fairly brief, seemed to take a lot out of Snape, leaving him pale and breathless, and they were both quiet for a few moments then as the full implications of what this meant finally sank in.

"Shit," Harry muttered.

"Quite. Did you not find anything out on your "travels"?" Snape asked, sounding only slightly sarcastic. He shifted slightly, clearly still in pain. Harry tried not to look too concerned.

"Not really," Harry answered seriously, shaking his head slightly. "I saw a few street names, but nothing I recognised. It looks like we're still in Britain, at least. I didn't want to ask anyone though, because it would have looked suspicious…"

"Well, it seems you have some sense at least," Snape muttered. Harry did his best to ignore that comment, though Snape's obvious anger was beginning to get to him. Not that he could blame him...

"So what do we do now?" Harry asked, steeling himself.

"You mean the Boy-Who-Lived isn't going to save the day?" Snape snapped sarcastically. Harry bit back another response. He knew that Snape was in a lot of pain, and that this was all his fault, but he also knew that it wasn't going to do any good for them to be fighting. Not when they were still in a lot of danger.

"Look, I brought you here, didn't I?" Harry replied instead. "I got you here, and stopped you from bleeding to death."

Snape barely even blinked. "You also allowed yourself to be tricked in the first place, putting us both in danger. I would not be in this state if it was not for your arrogance and stupidity, Potter."

Harry glared at him, but didn't contradict his words. "I didn't ask for your help."

"But clearly you needed it. So, Potter, forgive me if I'm not astounded by your brilliance," Snape replied, closing his eyes as the pain seemed to rear up again.

Harry pushed away his concern and readied himself for a fight, despite the fact that Snape had only just woken up, and despite his earlier thoughts, but Snape got there before Harry could even say one word.

"What's wrong with your shoulder?" the Professor continued suddenly, his eyes open again.

Harry couldn't keep the surprise off his face. "My…what?"

Snape rolled his eyes. "Your shoulder, Potter. You seem to be in some discomfort."

"I…I think I dislocated it," Harry began slowly, trying to act as if it was nothing. With Snape as angry as he was already, he didn't want the man to think he was weak on top of that.

"You think you've dislocated it?"

"Okay, I've definitely dislocated it," Harry sighed, resisting the urge to shrug since he knew it would hurt beyond belief.

"How?"

"I had to get us inside," Harry replied simply, trying to make it seem as if it was no big deal. "And the door was locked. I couldn't get you in through a window, and I couldn't use magic because they'd probably be able to track it, right?"

Snape simply nodded, gesturing for Harry to continue. Harry hoped that the man's initial anger had passed, though he didn't hold out much hope.

"So, I broke the door down," Harry continued, still trying to seem as if it was no big deal.

"You broke the door down?" Snape replied, a hint of anger tinging his words.

"I panicked. Look," Harry interrupted, before Snape could have a go at him again. "I had no choice, alright. It was raining, and you were just lying there on the floor, bleeding to death for all I knew! I couldn't exactly go and get help because I have no clue where the hell we are, and even if I did, I can't trust anyone, because Death Eaters are probably tracking us down right now! So, yes, I broke down the bloody door."

"Are you in pain?"

"What?" Harry asked, still slightly out of breath from his outburst, and taken aback by Snape's serious question.

"Are you in pain?" Snape repeated.

Harry sighed again, running his free hand though his hair. "Some. It's not that bad as long as I don't move it."

"Idiot boy," Snape muttered, though to Harry's relief it seemed as if most of the anger had gone from his voice. "Pass me my wand. I'll heal you."

Harry felt the air stop in his chest, and fear rise anew in his chest. Oh, he hoped this didn't mean what he thought it might mean…

"Your wand?" Harry asked, eyes widening in growing fear. He glanced around the room as if somehow it would hold the answer, before turning back to Snape. "You mean you don't have it?"

"What are you talking about, Potter," Snape snapped. The anger was back. "If I had my wand, help would already be on the way by now. Now, give it to me."

"I don't have it," Harry replied hoarsely. "I thought you had it."

A flash of fear and pain ran across Snape's face so quickly that he would have missed it if he'd closed his eyes even for a second. But Harry hadn't closed his eyes, so he hadn't missed it, though a part of him wished he had. Snape was scared at the thought of not having his wand, and Harry really couldn't blame him. What the hell were they going to do now…?

"You really don't have it," Snape said finally, and the flatness in his voice terrified Harry to the point where he almost wished the anger was back. Truth be told, a scared Snape was ten times scarier than an angry one.

"No," Harry replied numbly. Whatever trouble they had been in before, it had just doubled after this latest revelation. Harry had been counting on Snape being able to contact the Order for help. He knew that he himself wouldn't be able to do magic, but the underage restrictions didn't apply to Snape.

But for neither of them to be able to use magic…

"Do you want to try with my wand?" Harry offered, more out of desperation than hope.

"There would be little point," Snape replied, his voice tight and controlled. "We are too incompatible."

Harry couldn't argue with that.

"So what do we do now, then?" Harry asked finally. "They…The Order won't know how to find us, will they?"

"The elf, Potter," Snape replied bluntly. "Have you called the elf?"

"I tried, Sir," Harry replied, trying to hide his desperation and growing panic as best he could, though it was becoming harder the longer this conversation went on. "It was one of the first things I tried. He didn't answer my call."

"Then I will have to think on it, Potter," Snape said, closing his eyes and effectively shutting Harry out. Harry tried not to be affected by the action, but it was a losing fight.

"Look," Harry began, trying to hide his nervousness. "I think we're just going to have to make the best of this…"

"It seems as if we are," Snape said slowly, opening his eyes once more. "I'm going to need to know I can trust you, Potter."

Snape dark eyes held such intensity that Harry almost turned away. "What do you mean?"

"I need to know that you will listen to me and do as I say. No matter what. I need to know that I can rely on you to follow my orders to the letter. Do you understand, Potter?"

"I…yes, I understand.

"That's means no more gallivanting on your own. Our lives may depend on it."

"I wasn't – "

"You went to the Ministry without calling for help first. You went to face Voldemort, knowing that you were alone. That goes beyond idiocy Potter; it was downright suicidal! There will be no more of it, do you hear me? I will not have you risking your life – and mine – on a misplaced belief that you must handle everything yourself."

Harry gulped deeply as Snape's words cut into him, each sentence a blow to everything he had always been taught to believe. And yet, Harry knew that he was right.

"I thought Sirius was in danger," Harry replied lamely, a part of him still wanting to defend his actions. Truthfully though, he wasn't sure even he completely understood why he'd gone to the Ministry alone, let alone Snape. His thoughts were a confusing mess, and it didn't help that his mind was as exhausted as his body. He was just so tired of it all...

"And now instead, we are the ones in danger," Snape replied, closing his eyes once again, clearly still in considerable pain.

"I'm sor – "

"Do not say it, unless you mean it, Potter," Snape interrupted bluntly, anger still clear there, though Harry could see that he was making an effort to control it. "If you would do the same again, you are not sorry."

"I'm sorry you got hurt," Harry replied quietly instead, bowing his head slightly.

"I do not need an apology," Snape replied tiredly. "I need to know that I can trust you from now on."

"You can," Harry replied, and he knew that he meant it.

They were in danger; they had Voldemort undoubtedly hunting them down, they were both tired, injured and in pain, they had no way of using magic, and no idea where they were or how to get back to Hogwarts. The situation was as dire as it could possibly be, and yet, Harry could help but think that maybe, with Snape back in the game, they might just make it home in one piece.

Now that Snape was awake, some of the burden had been lifted from his shoulders. Harry had faith that Snape would find a solution, a way of saving them...

"Get some rest, Potter," Snape said, just as Harry allowed his eyes to finally close, exhaustion finally overcoming him. "You are going to need it."


A/N - So, how was it? I'm really worried about this chapter for some reason; in particular, I'm concerned that Snape and Harry are becoming a little out of character. I know that the situation they are in could account for some of that, but I'm still worried that I've taken it too far. Please, please, let me know if I'm still on the right track, or if I'm going to have to go back and change a few things to make it a little more believable.

Until next time, though, thanks for reading!