Chapter 46 – Severus' Scare
When Harry next woke, he was both pleased and surprised to find that he didn't feel nearly as bad as he did the day before. Sure he was still incredibly achy, but it was nowhere near as unbearable as it had been last night.
Checking the time, Harry discovered that he had not long missed breakfast. That was okay though, because he wasn't quite sure that he was feeling up to eating yet. Sick of being trapped in his room, he decided to freshen up and change into something other than pyjamas for the first time in three days, wanting to feel a cool breeze caressing his tired face and blowing through his messy hair.
After a hurried shower he tugged a long-sleeved emerald green shirt over his head, pulled on a pair of comfortable black trousers and stuffed his wand into his back pocket before exiting through his bedroom door. As usual, the manor was bathing in a calming silence, something Harry had come to enjoy over the past weeks. He quickly noticed Professor Snape dozing uncomfortably in an armchair by the fire, and with a guilty feeling, realised he was probably the reason his guardian was suffering this way. Tempted as he was to wake the man to try to convince him to go to bed, Harry resisted. He was aware that not only did his Professor need his sleep, but if he woke the man now, not only would he not go and get in his own bed, but he would be up and busy, which would wear Severus out even more. No, it was best to let him sleep while he could.
Sneaking past as quietly as he could, Harry crept downstairs, down the hall past the kitchen, dining room and study, and out the front door. He was about to head towards the boundary where the protective wards enclosed the manor when he heard a familiar voice call out from behind him.
"Potter," Draco called, jogging, "wait up." Harry did as he was asked, stopping in his tracks, unsure of why the Slytherin was so eager to talk to him. As the blond slowed down to a brisk walk, nearing Harry, he casually enquired, "So, how are you feeling?"
Harry was stunned into silence for a moment, wondering why his nemesis even cared, before remembering that they had been on friendlier terms these days. He supposed he should have felt ashamed for momentarily forgetting, but then again, it was just his natural reaction. "Not bad actually." He didn't feel as though he had enough energy to elaborate on his condition any further, not that he really wanted to.
Harry felt awkward. He was unsure of what to say. Draco was silent, staring at him calculatingly, as though trying to gauge how he was actually feeling based on his looks. Feeling like a jarred and somewhat disgusting and unusual potions ingredient that was closely being examined, Harry spat out the first thing that came to mind. "Do you want to come for a walk?" He groaned loudly, realising just how stupid that sounded. Why in Merlin's name would Malfoy want to walk around the enormous property with him? "I mean, you don't have to, I was just going for a walk, and…"
"Sure, why not." Harry's eyebrows shot up towards his hairline. "Don't look so surprised, you're not that terrible of company." He smirked briefly and Harry relaxed a little, the bantering assisting him in lowering his guard. "And besides", the slightly older boy added, looking back at him, "I've studied so much in the last three days that I could probably skip fourth year at Hogwarts; I could use a distraction."
Harry smiled shyly to himself, realising that was probably Draco's way of saying he enjoyed his company. "Can't have that," he replied light-heartedly, "Imagine how bored you'd be for a whole year here by yourself."
"Exactly!" He exclaimed loudly and Harry snorted, just as they looped around the ward, moving behind the manor. "…And everyone would miss me too much," he added as a side note. "Good thing you're here to keep me from studying myself to death. Imagine Granger's face if I actually overtook her at the top of the class!"
"Yeah, I'm not sure she'd like that too much," Harry admitted, grinning. After all, all Hermione ever did was study, and she took pride in doing her best and topping their class in absolutely everything.
As they walked round the remainder of the boundary the small talk came easier, growing less awkward over the following hour. Harry felt at ease: the pain in his body, his legs especially, was gradually receding with his movements, and the anxiety that he had first felt while alone in the Slytherins' presence had completely ebbed away. Eventually they found themselves back at the front door, and decided to go their own ways, intent on meeting up to study together after lunch.
Watching Draco as he retreated into the manor, Harry was overcome by a massive yawn, and decided he would take a quick nap before lunch. He locked the door behind him and trudged back upstairs, waving briefly to Theodore who was resetting the dining room table. Upstairs once more, he was surprised to see Severus still snoozing soundly.
The fire was still licking at the remaining logs, and Harry found himself entranced by the sight. There was something comforting about the fire as it danced silently in the open fireplace. Enjoying the warmth he backed up to the nearest chair, sinking down to watch the flames.
Almost two hours later, Harry was awoken by someone gently shaking his shoulder. "Would you like to come down for lunch?" Severus queried, returning Harry's smile.
Harry nodded, jumping to his feet. His stomach rumbled at the thought. "Yeah, I could do with some food."
Together they walked downstairs, finding Draco already sitting at the head of the table. They ate mostly in silence, thoroughly enjoying the mini feast the elves had prepared in their excitement of their little family being reunited. After the dishes had been cleared away, Severus' eyes swept from Draco to Harry, who indeed was looking well. "What are you boys doing this afternoon?" Severus wondered aloud, amused when his students shared a mischievous glance. He raised a suspicious eyebrow, waiting for them to answer.
"Well," started Draco, looking infinitely more confident than Harry, "we were actually wondering if we could practice some of the spells from our new charms textbook?"
Severus was about to say 'no, absolutely not; not without full supervision', but he stopped himself. He thought hard for a moment, deciding he should at least give the other Slytherin and Gryffindor a chance. They had definitely matured greatly, had turned into very trustworthy boys. Yes, so long as they were careful and did nothing stupid, then what was the worst that could happen..?
"Alright, I'll give you my complete trust." He smirked at the stunned looks he received in return. "However, I have a few conditions…"
It was Harry's turn to speak up. "Of course, sir."
"I would like for you to avoid all spells that will cause any form of injury. I will not be here to supervise, so I'm asking that you be smart and sensible about using your magic. I'd almost prefer you not aim your wands at each other at all, but I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt. If you think you can behave, then you may practice on each other within reason."
"Yes Professor Snape, we promise we'll behave." Harry's smile faded a bit, his guardian's words sinking in. "Are you leaving?"
Severus was surprised by that. Was he not comfortable at being left alone with Draco? Did he fear his godson would attack him, and he wouldn't be able to adequately defend himself? Or did he fear that if Severus left then he wouldn't come back, would abandon him? Severus was unable to determine the reasoning behind the small, unsure question. Perhaps he was reading too much into it.
"No," he was quick to assure his charge, changing his plans. He did plan on brewing pepperup and dreamless sleep potions for the hospital wing's stock, but decided he would stick to the former, as it would be quicker to complete. Then he would return to see the chaos that had unfolded. 'Oh Severus, what have you done?' he thought to himself, worried about what he would return to. "I do, however, have a few things to attend to tomorrow. I shall hopefully return around midday." Now that Harry looked less worried, he shooed them with a wave of his hand. "Go. Have fun and stay out of trouble." Receiving excited looks and some very happy 'thank you's', Draco and Harry dashed from the room, wands already in hand.
Severus sighed, seeking out the solace that was his potions lab. Sweet Merlin, what had he done?
"Wait here," Draco called, as he raced up to his bedroom. He dumped the contents of his book bag onto the bed, searching for 'The Standard Book Of Spells, Grade 4'. He was initially also going to grab 'The Dark Forces: A Guide To Self-Protection', but after he promised Severus he'd use no 'dangerous' spells, he decided he'd better not. And anyway, he wanted to prove to his godfather that he was trustworthy; if he broke his promise, then there was a very good chance he wouldn't get permission to practice his magic with Harry again.
'With Harry', he snorted. 'Potter'. Shaking his head, Draco realised how, …likeable, the Gryffindor was once you got to know him. He still couldn't fully grasp the concept that his family hadn't, as everyone had thought, treated him like royalty, when in reality it was actually quite the opposite. He hadn't even known he was a wizard until he'd received his letter. It had been quite horrifying to find out that the classmate he had been mercilessly picking on for three years turned out to be a child of abuse.
And that was why he knew his behaviour had to change…
Draco had witnessed first-hand the effects of long-term child abuse. Not himself, no, he had a very loving mother and father, but some of his fellow Slytherins, especially the younger ones, who had not yet learned how to conceal their emotions. He had witnessed the nightmares, the stress and anxiety over grades, and the severe lack of social development. He had comforted, tutored, and been a friend to those students.
Potter, on the other hand, was different. He had managed to hide his home life so well that not even his own best friends knew the extent of his abuse. At Hogwarts, he was a different person. And in private, he was entirely different again. Draco could understand, after all the years of hiding who he really was, why he'd burnt out and broken down so profoundly; it was a big wake-up call for Draco.
Draco cleared his mind of these thoughts, instead choosing to focus on more positive thoughts. This was all in the past. The very near past, but the past none-the-less. Everything was going to be different now: Harry had been rid of his scum family, he had found a new home, and a loving parental figure that was going to adopt him. But, that didn't mean Draco would resume his ridiculous rivalry...
He raced back downstairs, not entirely shocked that Potter had indeed waited for him. Together they marched into the library, ascending the twisting staircase and planting themselves on the floor beside a massive window overlooking the manor. Draco flipped the book open on the floor between them, and they selected a few easier charms, which they practiced for a while, impressing each other. After a solid three hours of casting spells and taking notes, however, they became extremely bored. Draco scoured eagerly towards the back end of the book, looking for something more exciting to practice.
"Stop there, Malfoy," Harry said suddenly after a prolonged silence, placing his hand over the book so the Slytherin was unable to turn the pages. "Here," he pointed, indicating a passage on the spell 'aqua eructo'. "…is used to extinguish fires, push things and do damage to certain magical creatures, such as salamanders!" Harry summarised, becoming increasingly excited as he read. "Let's have a water fight!" He blurted suddenly, looking mischievous.
"A what, Potter?" Draco asked, wondering what he hell he was going on about. He was intrigued by Harry's enthusiasm though…
"A water fight," Harry repeated, "It's something muggle kids do, especially when it's hot. I guess it's kind of like a duel, only they throw little balls full of water or use toy guns, but…" Harry waved his wand about, "We have magic, so it will be even more fun."
Now, Draco definitely liked the sound of that. It wasn't very often he was provided the opportunity to practice his duelling, without the risk of anyone being injured; "You're on, Potter."
In a flurry of excitement they sped out of the manor, rushing to get out of the house. Harry, using his small stature to his advantage, ducked beneath the staircase, effectively putting him in the lead in the race to get through the front door first. "Aqua Eructo," he yelled, swishing his wand in the correct pattern. The jet of water was more powerful than he had anticipated, so when it reached Draco and hit him dead on in the chest, he was knocked to the ground.
As he hit the ground, the air in his lungs was forced out through his mouth. Unmoving, he remained on the ground, gathering his breath again, but he wasn't hurt. He couldn't believe how powerful that spell had been. He heard Potter rush over, and decided to play a trick on him.
"Oh no, Snape is going to kill me," he heard the Gryffindor muttering under his breath as he reached his side. Draco struggled not to laugh at that, but somehow managed to remain silent. "Malfoy, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean for it to be so forceful…"
In a split second, Draco had rolled towards his nemesis, wand aimed. "Aqua eructo!" he roared, ignoring his sopping wet clothing. The cool jet of water that shot from the tip of his own wand wasn't quite as powerful, but with its target less than a metre away, it appeared as though it was.
Harry flew backwards, landing on his shoulder blades with a loud "Oof!" He scrambled quickly to his feet, ready to retaliate, but Draco had used that moment to retreat.
"What's the matter Potter, can't keep up?" He taunted good-naturedly.
The war went on for over an hour, both Draco and Harry drenched and exhausted, doing their absolute best to out-wit each other. They continued at a slower pace until the sun began to set, and that was how Professor Severus Snape found them…
By the time the stock of pepperup potions had been brewed, allowed to cool, and had been bottled away ready to be handed over to Poppy Pomfrey, it was already late in the evening. Severus swore under his breath, tidying his workspace, dreading what he was about to walk in to. He really should have checked that his students were okay hours ago, but the potion had required the majority of his attention.
Leaving his lab behind him and ascending his way back up into the entrance hall, he was greeted by the silence of an empty house. After checking all the rooms he found himself searching the library, feeling his heart stop momentarily upon looking out over the grounds, and seeing not only one, but both boys, lying sprawled out over the grass, unmoving.
Feeling as though he were about to faint, Severus turned, sprinting downstairs and out onto the property, dashing behind his manor. "Harry! Draco!" he called in a panic, fearing the worst. Of course, he wasn't aware of the intense, hours long water fight they had just participated in, leaving them utterly exhausted beyond belief.
Hearing his calls, the fourth year students sat up immediately, unaware as to why Severus was screaming in his distress. At the realisation that they were both alive and unharmed, Severus dropped immediately to his knees, the knuckles from his right hand a ghostly white where he desperately clutched his chest.
Unaware of anything other the intense pain in his chest, he sat there unmoving, waiting for it to subside. He hadn't had a scare that bad ever since he thought that the 'Dark Lord' had discovered that he had been Dumbledore's spy.
"Professor?" Harry asked worriedly, breaking through Severus' thoughts. Two small hands, both belonging to different people, landed softly on his shoulders, forcing Severus to look up.
When Snape's eyes met Harry's, Harry could tell instantly that he was in severe pain. It didn't escape his notice that his guardian was still clutching his chest, and Harry was frightened that he may have been having a heart attack. He looked at Draco, who appeared to be just as concerned.
"Professor?" Harry didn't really know what to say. It was obvious it was his chest that was troubling him, but he had no idea what to do. He didn't realise that it was extremely uncommon for witches and wizards to suffer from heart attacks. "What happened; are you having a heart attack?"
Snape shook his head, his mouth not working. "Are you sure? What can I do to help?"
Harry received no response. Snape was in too much pain to answer.
"Help me get him inside," Draco ordered, lifting a limp arm around his shoulder. Harry was grateful that the older boy was thinking clearly. Mimicking Draco's actions, they stood, heaving their groaning guardian across the damp lawn and into the house. As if their minds were connected they dragged him straight into the study, lowering him onto the couch and lying him flat, legs elevated to promote blood flow.
As they moved back out of Snape's personal space, Harry watched on helplessly as he clamped his arms tightly around his chest, writhing around in pain. "Are you sure you're not having a heart attack?" Harry asked again, needing to be 110% sure.
"Yes," Severus answered weekly through clenched teeth.
"Is there a potion we can get you for the pain, Severus?" Draco was pale with concern. Severus shook his head, and mumbled 'anxious'.
Harry finally understood. "Anxiety," he said aloud, looking to Draco. The blond looked confused. Harry left the room, heading straight for the potion cupboard. "Please be here, please be here," he chanted to himself, searching through the shelves. His hand knocked a potion in the far back corner, and he seized it immediately. "Yes!"
The moment he was back by his guardian's side, the calming draught was unstopped and held to his lips. Severus wrenched his head away, but Harry was determined. "Please, drink it sir, it will help. I promise." Harry helped the man sit up, so he could sink down close to his side, making sure there was maximum body contact. He gestured for Draco to do the same as the potion was being consumed. He still looked confused, but did so without hesitation.
As the potion took effect, the pained expression Severus was still wearing had slowly begun to recede. As he sunk back into the lounge, fully relaxed, Harry spoke up. "Sir," he said quietly, not wanting to stress his professor out again, "What brought it on?"
"Was expecting the two of you to be cursing and hexing one another…saw you on the ground, not moving…. I'm sorry. Shouldn't have doubted you." He looked tired and miserable.
"It's okay," Draco soothed. "If you didn't want us to be practicing you should have said so. We wouldn't have disobeyed you."
Harry nodded in agreement. "Dinner won't be for a while yet, why don't you get some sleep sir? We'll wake you later."
Severus nodded, before promptly drifting off.
"How did you know to give him that?" Draco asked, almost in admiration. He was referring to the calming draught.
Harry went red with embarrassment, gaze dropping to the floor. "Because," he started, sounding ashamed, "I get anxiety sometimes too. And I thought it might help…"
"It happens." Draco tried to comfort Harry in his own way. "I'm glad you could help him." He looked Harry in the eye…