A Season for Healing
Summary and disclaimer in part one.
Rating: The series overall has an adult rating due to the Severus/Harry plotline... This part is R for language and angst.
Notes: An apology to all my readers and friends for the delay in this. The muse deserted, the muse danced around with other chapters, the muse has been hit over the head with a waffle iron and stuffed into a sack now, and so we sincerely hope to have a more reliable rate of progress from this point on. Dien solemnly swears to try and do better, since far less than a chapter a month has to be one of the most abysmal speeds of 'progress' found on a WiP in this fandom. If this chapter disappoints, as it may very well in both shortness and failure to meet everybody's expectations, then we do sincerely apologize and say only in our excuse that we wanted to post something, just to be writing on SoH again.
Dien has a livejournal. Her username, perhaps unsurprisingly, is Dien. You are more than welcome to friend Dien.
Dien wishes to thank all the very kind people who have been nice enough to review as they are probably the only thing keeping her going on this story, which has become something like my darling Winston's description of writing:
"Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement, then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him about to the public." ...the thing is that Winston understood you do not publish things that are half-finished. Smart man, that.
Dien does not know when Siobhan will arrive. The woman is notoriously unpredictable.
To Black Goddess-- mostly for Dien's own amusement. And you are quite right about limpid vs. limpet. Dien is ashamed.
To Sofia Dragon-- apologies, but that would be incredibly hard to do. It's not going to be a sex scene or two that can be skirted around; the fic will be dealing with their overall relationship and how it changes. Rather hard to edit out. *grins* Perhaps you ought to simply desquick yourself.
To weltenauge-- It has to be the epitome of flattery when you find a part of your fic has become an in-joke for someone else. Thank you for making Dien's day.
To NemesisMuse-- (neat handle btw) Yes, there will be more on Petra. And Dien gets it fairly often. Ergo, the long delay of this chappie.
To FlameRhiannon-- Ha ha ha. Dien wishes she were that organized.
To that Nyarth bitch person-- Thank you, dear, for making Dien feel so much more guilty. A fecking year and a half. Damnation. *Dien flops onto Nyarth and sobs* Note-- Nyarth is the lovely beta whose Snape fics you SHOULD ALL BE READING. Goooooooooooo.
Dien will now stop talking in third person so you do not kill her...
Chapter Fourteen. In which Harry learns about the unique doors of Snape Manor.
Harry walked across the battlements, heading from the library tower to the house proper, shaking his head as he went along. The man was so completely. ..barking, raving, mad. Third day in, and if things were this ridiculous now, how were the two of them expected to survive a whole summer together? He sighed.
Harry skirted the outside of the Owlery tower, hearing the soft sounds of chirping through the tower's windows. "Hello, Harry Potter," croaked a voice from above his head, and he looked up to meet Poe's beady black eyes. The glossy raven was perched on the Owlery tower's roof, head cocked curiously. "Hey Poe," he replied, pausing a moment to talk to the raven. "How's things?"
"Infinitely better with the menace that is Caperian safely departed," the bird croaked in a self-satisfied manner. "Now the only problem is I don't know where Macavity is, and that is a dangerous thing not to know. ...And yourself, Harry Potter?"
The boy sighed and hauled himself up into the space between two of the battlement projections, sitting down for a moment. "I've been better. Snape and I are probably going to kill each other by the end of summer. That man is so annoying."
Poe let out a squawk and fluttered down to land on his knee. "Severus can be ...difficult at times, can't he?"
Harry laughed. "Congratulations, Poe, you win the prize for understatement of the year," he chuckled. "He... well, I need to go and talk to him. In a moment."
The raven cocked his head curiously. "Need to talk to Severus? And why would that be?"
Harry frowned, and became engrossed with his hands. "Just need to, you know, work some things out. Um. I think I maybe owe him an apology. And it would be nice to... get one from him too."
The bird made an odd croaking, hacking sound that it took Harry a moment to realize was laughter. "Apologies. ...Harry Potter, I think you may be in the wrong house for such things."
Harry crossed his arms defensively. "Hey-- he's the one who threw a temper tantrum squarely at me. I'm saying I'm sorry for something that happened years ago, when I was eleven and thought he was trying to kill me; he was a jerk just today. I don't think it's too much to expect a little compromise from him too."
The bird merely ruffled his feathers in a way that somehow managed to communicate Harry might have better luck in expecting the moon to meet him halfway. Harry sighed. "Oh come on. Is it that unreasonable to want an apology for him calling me every unprintable name in the book?"
Poe gave an awkward little hop from one knee to the other. "Well. It's just that-- You must know-- I don't think apologies in general are something this family does much of. Something Summanus-- that was Severus's father, by the way-- used to say-- 'an apology is a weapon effective only against the simple-minded.'"
"Well, bully for him-- from what I've heard, he was an absolute wanker, and you'll have to forgive me if I don't think his life philosophy is one I should be following," Harry grumbled. The bird blinked, then made the croaking laugh again.
"Wise, Harry Potter. Very wise. Well then; apologize if you will. I look forward to seeing what comes of it," Poe croaked with what sounded like amusement, spreading his wings as he prepared to leave Harry's knee. "Oh-- by the way. Your owl is back. Hedwig. Very pleasant owl, that."
"Hedwig's back? From Ron's? Great! Where--"
"In the owlery," Poe said with a nod towards the tower, and Harry quickly scrambled to his feet and made for the door, even the matter of Snape temporarily forgotten.
After giving Hedwig a reproaching look for not coming directly to him with the letter-- if you asked Harry, Hedwig was getting a bit too comfortable in the Owlery with all the other birds to chatter with-- he took Ron's reply and headed back outside with it, shutting the door carefully behind him. He read the letter as he walked.
Yeah, mum is on the warpath. I wouldn't want to be in Ginny's shoes right now; she was helping the twins with that new thing they're doing with the bootblack charm and turned her skin and hair pitch black. Mum says she's going to have to wait for it to fade, and be grounded the whole time.
Damn, Harry, you have to give me more of a hint than that? 26 elves? Lucky git. Ministry or something? I don't know; I give up. But at least you're getting to fly; I can't see Ministry morons allowing that...
By the way, you started your Transfiguration make-up yet? I owled Hermione for some help, but she just gave me the usual blather about 'you ignored my warnings and now you can do it yourself.' Bloody hell-- what's the point of having a genius girlfriend if you can't count on her for school?
Heh. Don't tell her I said that.
Anyways, take care, write back.
-Ron (and all the clan)
Harry grinned fondly as he folded the letter and put it in his pocket, pulling out the map and his wand instead. The labyrinth of the house was, once again, before him. Now where had the-green-dot-that-was-Snape been.... ah, right there. Harry scrutinized the map, trying to figure out which staircases he needed to go up to manage an ascent to that floor. Okay, left corridor... then right... down that stairwell, which would put him at the base of that stairwell...
"Who designed this bloody place," he muttered to himself as he clomped down the first set of stairs, then rolled his eyes when one of the paintings called after him, "Arawn Septimius Snape...."
"Does EVERYTHING in this bloody house talk?" he shot back at it. A statue a little ways ahead shifted position and blinked stonily at him, then shook its head in a solemn no. Harry couldn't help a snort as he exited the stairwell and started up the next one.
It was a good ten more minutes before he found himself in front a solid-looking oak door, with a gold handle in the shape of a snake curling sinuously in front of him. Harry checked the map; yes, the green dot labelled 'Severus Snape' was supposedly on the other side of that door.
He took a deep breath. And knocked.
Thirty seconds passed with no response, and he frowned, then knocked harder. It was a thick door; maybe Snape hadn't heard him. He waited again, and grimaced.
Bloody stupid stubborn Snape. He had come all this way in the Slytherin equivalent of a Tri-Wizard Tournament Maze just to apologize, and the man was refusing to open his door. He considered banging on the door for a bit, then sighed.
He was going to be mature about this if it killed him. After all, one of them had to be the mature one. And as Snape didn't seem like he was going to....
"Professor Snape," Harry called out, rapping on the door again. Waiting. Nothing. Harry exhaled a short annoyed breath, then decided just to test the doorknob, see if it was locked. He curled his hand around the snake's body--
--and let out a pained gasp as the metal shifted and fangs buried themselves in his wrist.
"Well, of course, Harry," he heard a distant voice mutter-- his own?-- as everything started to go black around the edges, faster than he would have thought possible. "Snape's.... door... you really... should have seen.... that one... com-iiiiiiinnnnnnnng--"
The floor rose up to claim him.
"...and suppose, Mister Potter, that I had not been already on my way to the room when I sensed the door ward activating? As it was, it was a remarkably close thing I reached you before the poisons got to your heart," said a very strict, displeased voice. Harry woozily hunted for whatever switches were needed to turn his brain back on.
"And I do hope that in the future, you will be a bit more circumspect about grabbing onto doorknobs shaped like venomous creatures. Really. What are they teaching you children at school, these days....?"
Snape? No way-- voice had the right pissed-off tone, sure, but way too squeakish and high... Harry struggled to open his eyes.
"And for that matter; what possessed you to come looking for Severus right now? He is hardly up to seeing anyone at the moment. No. Most certainly not. Lie still-- these toxins are a right bugger to get out of the system, and I'm not quite done yet."
A sensation like a wave of pins and needles passed through his body, and Harry finally managed to get his eyes back open. He found himself looking up at Wiggin, which in itself was rather odd; it wasn't often you found yourself looking up at a four-foot tall creature. Unless you were on the floor.
Which was where Harry realized he was. He coughed slightly, then feebly lifted his hand to examine the wounds.
"Snake.... bit me..." he muttered weakly.
"Yes, well, if someone grabbed you around your mid-section without telling you they were going to do that, I imagine you'd bite them too, Mister Potter. Please be a bit more courteous towards the doorknobs in the future," sighed Wiggin with a pained expression. Harry looked up from the two tiny dots on his wrist-- funny, those fangs had felt a lot bigger going in-- with a slightly incredulous look.
"I was... poisoned... by Snape's doorknob... and you're telling me I need to work on courtesy?" he said, then winced as his voice cracked on the last word. Wiggin coughed politely. "Indeed. Now, how are you feeling? Dizzy? Nauseous at all?"
"Um... a bit dizzy actually," Harry said, truthfully, and tried to sit up. "But can we concentrate on the fact that I was just poisoned by the doorknob when--"
"When you obviously grabbed it without permission, Mister Potter," sighed the elf. "Now do pay attention, young man. I have... heard... that you spend a great deal of time among... Muggles. Now I'm not quite sure how things are done there, but in this house, if a door does not open upon being knocked, that indicates it is for all intents and purposes meant to stay shut. Therefore, young men should not go thrusting their hands onto door-guardians who quite obviously have a purpose and, then, be surprised when that purpose is fulfilled. Lie down; you are in no condition to get up."
In that moment, Harry Potter realized that arguing with Wiggin the Not-Quite-a-House-Elf was probably as productive as arguing with glaciers, or mountains, or a tectonic plate, and laid meekly back onto the stone floor of the corridor. "Snape... didn't answer the door..."
"No he did not. Severus is sleeping and in great need of it; and if anything other than the imminent end of the world shows up here and threatens to interrupt that sleep, they shall have me to deal with," Wiggin said severely. "Now; you ought to apologize to the snake. I have had a terrible time calming her down and she is still quite skittish."
"Apologize... to the door?"
"To the door-warden, if you please," Wiggin said implacably. Harry sighed and cast a glance up and over at the door. The golden snake was indeed moving about, writhing in nervous little circles around the keyhole, the two emeralds that served as eyes glinting malevolently at him. Harry stared at the two small crystalline fangs, pretty sure that the red on them was his blood. "Uh... okay. I'm, um, sorry for grabbing you, door," he said awkwardly.
Wiggin clucked disapprovingly. "You ought to touch her. Show that you trust her."
"What? I don't trust her! It! It bit me!"
Wiggin looked at him.
Glacier, Harry remembered. Mountain. Tectonic plate. He sighed. "Okay. Okay, but if you don't want me getting up...."
Wiggin waved long goblin fingers and Harry found himself levitated upright, within reach of the door. Cautiously, he began to inch his hand forward towards the door. The snake did not look happy to see it approaching. "Er, Wiggin, someone told me today that you don't have to apologize in this house...."
"Well, they were obviously an untrustworthy source of information," Wiggin said firmly. Harry sighed and moved his hand a little closer. The door-warden began to hiss furiously, and Harry suddenly burst into an embarrassed laugh. Wasn't he forgetting something here?
He cleared his throat and said, in Parseltongue, "I'm ssssorry about the missundersssstanding, sssnake. Pleasse accept my apology?"
The snake blinked, obviously startled, then sent a rapid metallic hiss back at him that sounded something like, if-you-sspeak-one-of-uss-why-not-ssspeak-sso-to-begin-with-and-thusss-avoid-whole-confusssion-by-ssaying-what-you-wanted-then-likewisse?
Harry shrugged. "I'm ssorry. I wassn't thinking about it. I'll do better next time, I promisse."
The snake nodded once, then said in her soft tinny voice, sso-then-likewisse-I-accept-your-apology-and-now-I-musst-sssleeeeep--
And before Harry could blink, the golden snake had melted back from life into non-life, a firm frozen door handle. He shrugged again and turned to Wiggin, who was observing him through slitted eyes, which was a highly strange look on the elf. "Severus had failed to mention you were a Parseltongue," the elf said after a moment. Harry raised his eyebrows in what he hoped was a suitably bland manner.
"You don't say."
Wiggin snorted and made another gesture with his hand. Harry found himself floating gently through the halls, away from the door. "Um, Wiggin, not that I don't appreciate it, but I can walk, really."
"I doubt that. And in any case, you might walk in a direction other than your room, and right now you should be in your room. Sleeping."
"Sleeping? It's not even two in the afternoon!"
"Your body needs to recover, Mister Potter. Not unlike Severus's, though thankfully he doesn't go around presenting his extremities to be bitten," Wiggin said with appropriate tsk-tsking noises, and Harry came to another important realization about Wiggin.
"You like this, don't you," he said accusingly as he trailed in the elf's wake. Wiggin paused and stared at him, the pained expression giving over to a confused one. "I beg your pardon?"
"You like having someone to mother-hen to death, don't you? And since Snape and his sister are all grown up, I'm the first one you've had in years... oh, I'm so going to hate this," Harry moaned as they made their way down a spiral staircase.
"Stuff and nonsense," said the elf briskly and just a tad guiltily. "And you're quite obviously delirious. All the more reason you should rest." There was a momentary pause, then Harry muttered, "And what if I can't sleep?"
"Then we shall simply have to bring up some warm milk to help you on your pleasant way to dreamland," said Wiggin in the most blandly innocent, and yet truly evil, tone Harry had ever heard anyone manage. "That always helped Severus sleep, as a boy..."
And for the second time-- or was it the third now, he really wasn't sure-- in two days, Harry Potter found himself pitying Severus Snape. With a tyrant like this proscribing warm milk.... ye gods.