|snarryhols (snarryhols) wrote in snarry_holidays,|
@ 2007-11-20 14:55:00
|Entry tags:||fic, post-dh: ewe, rated: nc-17|
A Second Chance, for saiyaku
Title: A Second Chance (1/2)
Word Count: ~12,500
Warnings: Major DH spoilers, right away.
Disclaimer: Idea is mine, characters and the world are not. They belong to J.K. Rowling & co.
Summary: Severus is granted a second chance, but he loses something important. Harry offers to help him.
Author's Note: Written for Snarry_Holidays! It's been a lot of fun, and I hope the giftee enjoys reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. My betas rocked, especially on such short notice. Thanks everyone!
A Second Chance
He stared into those green eyes, her green eyes, and he felt his life slipping away. Dying - he was dying, on the floor of the Shrieking Shack. A quiet, plain death - no majestic battleground death for Snape. Not even a confident stand, like Dumbledore chose.
He almost mouthed her name - except she was already in the afterlife, with the person she loved. The person she chose. And Snape was dying, on the floor of the Shrieking Shack; alone save for Harry bloody Potter, staring at him.
The green faded, and the heavy presence of his physical vessel also faded. He felt no pain radiating from his neck, no hard floor beneath him... No, he felt nothing, no attachment. He was ethereal, a mind without a body, a thought, an idea. Severus Snape...
...and he stood. Harry Potter was still staring at him, at his body, sweaty fingers clutching the phial with a lifetime of memories Severus savored. His favorites, his only happy memories. And he gave them to her son, so he would understand. It wasn't because he wanted to be remembered as a martyr - he didn't care what anyone living thought of him (everyone that mattered to Snape had died, because of him, or directly by his hand). He didn't care, except he knew that boy saw him kill Dumbledore.
...and Dumbledore wanted Harry to know the truth.
Severus Snape, puppet through and through, 'til the end.
Leaving was easy; he simply turned away from Harry, into the blinding white light. It was cliché, but the light was warm, comfortable. It was tugging at his consciousness , coaxing him into a safe embrace. It was... natural.
Tingling peace overwhelmed his senses, and for a period he simply let go. Floated. Safe in the beginning of his afterlife, he would figure out the details later. Much like a cat sleeping in the warm sunlight falling through a glass window, he felt his reality ebb away, until there were simply no worries, no concerns. The comfortable haven he'd found was everything he needed.
Some time passed before awareness came to him again. Had he slept? It certainly felt like sleep, but maybe he was letting go... maybe it was like going to sleep, except the conscious did not reawaken in a physical body. An insistent tugging was what brought him back to his awareness, and he was uncomfortable for a moment. Something was reaching for him, insistently, and this wasn't like the white light. This was an irritating, demanding tug on his psyche, not asking, but demanding that he move, that he go back.
Go back? He thought, but the tugging grew stronger - just behind his navel, just under his gut, like a portkey from the afterlife. The thought made him snigger, and that temporary break - it was enough for the tug to get a firm hold and jerk, and Snape found himself flying back, through the white light, and he was afraid he was going to hit bottom; he saw the sky, trees, the outline of Hogwarts in the distance, and the roof of the Shack; through it, and into the room below he managed to catch a brief glimpse of a frazzled bun, and a burning bird.
There was a high pitched song, which strummed through his soul, and he heard the beautiful, haunting song of the phoenix as his psyche slammed into his physical body.
He gasped, his eyes flew open; sensation overwhelmed him, and his lungs didn't know what to do with the air he'd brought in. Dead, they said, we're done, but an outside force hit his chest, and suddenly they were working again, his heart was beating - and he could feel everything in his body, the blood trickling through his veins, he could feel the capillaries and arteries contracting with each pulse of his heart, now beating again.
The pain was a secondary feeling; he felt his body, everything, and then he felt his pain. Years of the Cruciatus and crawling, had his knees and spine flaring with constant pain, usually manageable, except every single wall and defense he'd ever possessed were gone, like his dream of the afterlife. His eyeballs hurt, his heart hurt, his organs hurt. Fluids that had pooled were moving again, and everything was shifting, accommodating the return of his life, and he ached.
He closed his eyes, damning and just not caring who was in the room with him, and he wept. For his loss of death, for being a pawn yet again... to Dumbledore, because that damn bird was the essence of Dumbledore. Was - perhaps now it was taking commands from Minerva.
Through the pain, a familiar, comfortable black static began to creep through his mind, and Snape recognized the relief for what it was: lack of consciousness. Without any resistance he allowed himself to succumb to the darkness.
He woke up in his private rooms, in the dungeons. Poppy could freely travel through his Floo, and obviously she and Minerva had thought of his consideration - he would have words with anyone who dared put him in the Hospital Ward with the other bumbling idiots from the school.
The crackling in his fireplace was a quick warning but the whoosh of green flame that spat out Poppy Pomfrey. Wand in one hand, contain of vials in the other, she looked like the formidable nurse.
"You're awake!" She declared. "You can administer these yourself. Unless...?"
Snape stared, experimentally moved his fingers and toes. They all worked, almost better than before - he had an awareness of his physical body that had not been present before. Perhaps from the lack of a body for a moment - because now he was unusually aware of how awkward limbs were, how confining muscles and tendons and ligaments were when compared to the bodiless being.
"I can take them," he said, and his voice was rough, raspy. Unused. He coughed, a dry, brittle sound, and found a glass of water shoved in front of his face. He took the glass and drank, easing the dryness in his throat.
Poppy sat the vial container on the stand next to his bed.
"Minerva will be down sometime today," Poppy said brusquely. "I'll bring your meds, but I think you're adult enough to take them on your own - and I have children in the ward that need my help."
Questions - so many questions - Snape wanted to ask, but he didn't have the strength, and he didn't have the voice. His throat ached. He took another sip of the cool water.
"How many people know?" He croaked, attempting the most important question.
Poppy knew him well. "About you?" At his slight nod, she frowned. "Not many. Minerva, me... a few other staff, probably Harry Potter. Harry..." a smile quirked the corners of her lips, and it looked as if she was going to say more, but she simply shook her head and smiled at Snape. "Not many," she repeated, and stepped back toward the Floo. "Minerva will visit you soon," and with a toss of the green powder, the flames licked out around Poppy and took her back to the Hospital Ward.
It was later that evening before Severus realized something was horribly wrong. Hours before he felt like doing anything except lying in his bed, waiting for the feeling to settle, but his bladder demanded a visit to the loo. Back in the bed, he picked up his wand and uttered a simple warming spell, hoping to boost the room's temperature a degree or two. Nothing happened. First try, rusty - he'd give himself that, and he tried again. And again. Until his eyes were red and his lips were a thin, angry snarl. Nothing of the force that had sustained him his adult life - no magic? Unless it was something Poppy was using in her potions, or... a side effect of his experience. That's what the Muggles called it - when they were brought back - a "near death" experience.
He trudged back to the bathroom and ran a very hot bath.
"I was dead," Severus muttered flatly, staring at the running bath water and wondering if he would have to call a house elf to warm the damn water - because wizards didn't need hot and cold spouts, there was only cold. Cold for him, and maybe he wouldn't call a house elf after all. Maybe he'd shock his magic back to life, too.
"Sure you were, dear," his mirror murmured back.
"This is Hell," he told Minerva, watching her lips thin. She was probably thinking him ungrateful. "Death was comfortable, pleasant. Why did you bring that damn bird to me?"
"I didn't," Minerva said, quietly. Her two words stopped Snape. "I simply followed him. I didn't know where you were, after Harry... killed Voldemort." She paused. "There was too much commotion. Everything was raw, and I needed to step out of the Hall, and when I walked outside I saw Fawkes flying. I followed him."
Severus scowled. "I suppose."
"There are other people that want to visit you," she continued, softly. Snape stared at her, and she looked right back - despite her tone, her posture was firm, decided. She was a force to be reckoned with.
"No," he said, immediately. If he was going to be forced to live, he was going to do so as a recluse, and get as far away from children and other people as possible. He'd rather everyone think him dead, so he could live out his life with some sort of peace.
"Harry," Minerva continued, "had to know. He's already gotten you Order of Merlin, third class." She raised a glass of tea to her lips, but he could see the movement of her lips, the barest smile she tried to hide. "He's on a personal vendetta to make sure everyone knows how noble you were."
He didn't know how to respond to that. "Why?"
"You apparently left quite an impression on the boy," she said, setting her cup down. Smiling now, and not hiding it. "I had to tell him. He wants to see you. I think he wants to give you your Order of Merlin."
How was he going to face the person he'd given his most intimate memories? He'd only done it because he was dying.
"Not yet," was all he said, and Minerva didn't press him.
But she did ask another, very specific question. "What about your magic, Severus? Is it returning at all?"
He'd often wondered how he'd managed to last such a long time as a spy, first for one side, then for the other, when he couldn't control his damn facial features. He'd once blamed it on Dumbledore's twinkling eyes, but Minerva wasn't Albus. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
"No." There was no reason to lie. She would know. He held up one hand, because he knew she was going to suggest something and he wasn't going to do it. "Don't. I'll make my own choices regarding this matter." He knew his options.
The first time Harry Potter visited, Severus was unprepared. No one knew the location of his private rooms, save for Minerva and Poppy, and even though he knew they would use the Floo to visit, when the knock sounded at his door, he was blatantly presumptuous.
A mess of black hair and familiar green eyes behind spectacles staring at him made him curse himself. Some spy, just open the door - and bang, dead.
Except this boy wasn't here to murder him. His eyes were wide, face full of questions and hope and youthful exuberance ... Severus doubted he ever radiated the energy and the damn brightness that could be felt around this boy.
"Hullo," Harry said, licking his lips. He rubbed palms against his robes, probably unconsciously, but Severus could almost smell how nervous the boy was. Curious, yes, but terrified of the consequences of his actions, of his knowledge.
Minerva's words came back to him: "Be nice to him. He was upset, and when I told him that you lived... well, he made it clear that he wanted to speak to you. How can you deny the boy? He killed Voldemort." Everyone said his name now, and even though Severus no longer felt a painful twinge from his mark when the name was spoken, it made him flinch. He'd never dared call the man - thing - by anything other than the Dark Lord, in his thoughts and out loud, because to put any other name into his head would be to invoke the wrath of the monster. It was a risk best not taken.
He opened the door, and allowed the boy to enter his chamber. He watched Harry look around, taking in the neat, simple appearance. Comfortable furniture, sparse "personal" items. Severus had no use for clutter, or knick knacks. He wanted no memorabilia from his past, no reminders of the times he'd tried to leave behind.
"How are you?" Harry asked, perching on the edge of a soft leather sofa, one hand clutching the arm of the sofa, the other fisted tightly on his knee. The words were awkward, and Severus wanted to sneer, but he didn't. There was no longer a reason. Age was of little consequence when one defeated the most powerful dark wizard the wizarding world had known for one hundred years.
"Alive," Severus answered, bluntly. There was no need to explain further, not to this boy.
Harry looked up at him, and Severus couldn't identify the emotion behind the green eyes - but they were dark, troubled. More than he'd ever seen in her eyes, but then Harry had seen more in his few short years than she in hers, hadn't he? ...even without the permanent mental connection to the Dark Lord.
"I don't think I was supposed to survive," Harry blurted out. His fingers clenched around whatever was in his hand. Severus couldn't see it, except for a dull shine now and then. "I thought I would die when he died, and that would be the end." He looked at Snape. "I don't have a plan. I don't know what to do."
Ah. This... Severus was familiar with this, the survivor's guilt. Never mind that Harry's closest friends had survived, but there were so many that hadn't. His parents were in the beginning, and his contemporaries were there at the end, lying still on the battleground.
"Help. Rebuild, restore. Donate your magic." Severus ticked off the things any young war hero should be doing. Not visiting people who should be dead, but he didn't say that. "Visit the masses with inspirational messages of hope and wisdom. Twinkle at them."
"I'm not Dumbledore," Harry muttered, tone bordering on sulky. Now he was staring at the dungeon floor. "I..." He looked back up. "I thought you might understand," he said, and his eyes darted away again, staring at the wall, the floor, the fire. Anything except his old professor.
Severus understood. But Severus was older, and wiser, and he wouldn't tell the boy that the guilt wouldn't wash away. He wouldn't tell him about the dreams, and their eyes, and he wouldn't tell him what was worse than knowing they were dead. It was listening to them accuse you of killing them in your dreams.
No, Harry still had some innocence. He might be able to avoid that particular pain for the rest of his life.
"You are not either of them - you are your own person. You may have fulfilled a role that was plotted for you since your birth, but it's over now, and you can go and live your life, however you want." Severus' words were filled with acid, and accusing. "Is that what you want to hear? That you did not cause any of those deaths, directly? Because you didn't. The Dark Lord was born long before you, Harry Potter." There was a pause, and Severus said, "Don't disgrace their deaths by refusing to live your life."
...and Harry ran one hand over his face, through his hair.
"That's the problem," he said. "My life. What now?" He looked up, and their eyes met. Black and green, except Severus wasn't dying this time, he was just stunned. What now? From the boy who had the world at his fingertips since he'd been a baby?
"That's the question of the day," Severus murmured, and this time he looked away first. "What now." He didn't know himself, so he certainly couldn't suppose for the boy. Being a war hero couldn't replace finding a path in life. It wasn't a reason to live.
The silence wasn't quite awkward, but it wasn't comfortable. Severus looked at the fire, trying not to watch Harry. Harry, who was sitting on his sofa, rolling something around in his hand. Something shiny...
"Here," Harry said abruptly, reaching the hand holding whatever out. "I wanted to return this to you."
Severus held his hand out, diatribe ready - because he didn't give a damn about any Order of Merlin, or any other bureaucratic crap - but when Harry dropped the item, and Severus saw it, he was stunned speechless. His fingers closed around the glass phial with the shiny, luminescent silver memory-stuff, and he nodded dumbly.
"Thank you," he managed, and Harry was standing, nodding. Accomplished his task, and leaving. Severus stared at the memories, almost in awe. Harry knew more about him than anyone except Albus Dumbledore, and, he gave them back. The best memories of his life, and Harry gave them back. Gave them back without a word, and now he was leaving.
It was all over. Thankfully he'd survived the encounter with the world's latest great wizard (without becoming a spy or a pet), Harry turned back toward him. He asked an innocent question, but Severus didn't understand the reason.
"Would it be okay if... Well. May I come back and visit you again?" Earnest, but polite - he thought that if he said no, the boy would not return. Perhaps one day he'd receive an owl from him...
...but he said "yes," and he thought he meant it. It would be okay.
Severus put the phial on the shelf, in the locked cabinet in his bedroom, where he kept his other memories. The most horrible, grueling things he'd ever done, the memories he didn't want to remember - those he'd had Albus extract completely, and they were opaque. Thick, dull, dingy gray (like snow that sits on the side of the road for a month), and Severus didn't think about them too much. There were many things he didn't want to remember.
He tried to make his first potion after Harry left. There were simple potions that did not require the incantation of magic, but Severus found his fingers shaking as he shredded and chopped simple, basic ingredients. Potions that were taught to First Years. He would be able to...
...and he had to find matches to light his flame. When the potion was complete it was a shade off - nothing that anyone except a master would notice, but he did. It was a small error, probably due to his lack of temperature control over the flame (and all of the bits of parchment Severus kept adding to keep the flame burning) but it was a potion.
He warned against tasting from the ladle, but his skin felt the milliseconds ticking as he scrambled and searched for a phial, unable to conjure. The store was in an open cupboard, so he could summon them, but it was an unexpected setback. Once bottled, he downed the potion.
It slid down his throat, smooth and thick, except the taste was off and that was his only warning before his world exploded into pain first, and then darkness.
Later Minerva would tell him that the house elves found him, notified both Poppy and herself, and that they managed to get him to the Hospital Ward in time for Poppy to administer the antidote to the Pepper-Up Potion.
"Did you want to die?" Minerva asked calmly, her eyes bright and curious. No condemnation in her voice or her features, no twinkling in her eyes.
Severus laid his aching back against the crisp linen pillow and closed his eyes. He didn't know. He ought to have remembered, known off the top of his head about the incompatibility of the ingredients, but he was too hopeful that the potion would work...
"It didn't work," he said, quietly. "I tried to brew a simple potion. A Pepper-Up Potion."
"You know," Minerva began, and he could hear the meddling underlying her tone.
He shook his head.
"You almost died, Severus," and now her tone was angry, like the quick snap of a whip. "You were granted a second chance, are you going to simply throw it away?" ...and then, she paused, and Severus could almost feel the particles in the air drawing toward Minerva as she absorbed an unseen power, and with four words she nearly broke his resolve. "What would Albus think?"
Aside from Minerva and Poppy, Harry was his only visitor. He was moved from the Hospital Ward back to his rooms immediately, with a promise that if he did brew another potion he wouldn't try it by himself.
"What happens if the house elves don't find you in time?" Poppy fussed, but allowed him to leave the Ward despite her concerns. Whatever Snape was, they had never known him to be suicidal. He supposed that he really wasn't, even though he knew more about the ingredients of his potions and their effects with - or without - magic, but he also supposed that somewhere he had hope. Plain and simple. Now it was gone, but he'd had it, perhaps felt it for a moment - a twinge of pleasure as he stirred clockwise, then counterclockwise. A hum of familiarity, a comfortable place...
...and now. He had nothing, save for his mortality.
No fire was burning in his rooms, and he didn't bother starting one or calling for someone else to start one for him. He sat in his chair, in his cold empty rooms, in a dressing gown. Sat and stared at the hearth, and wondered how long it would take Minerva to notice if he simply disappeared... maybe in the Forbidden Forest, where he could die or kill himself honorably.
Living like this, without magic, was hell. Damn the bird for bringing him back, for nothing. And damn Dumbledore, and those twinkling eyes he could feel from beyond the grave.
In the midst of his angst, there was a knock at his door. He recognized Harry's knock this time, the confidence behind the rapping knuckles. He sat and contemplated letting him knock until he left, but something inside snapped, and he found himself opening the damn door, holding it wide and staring at the boy. Staring at those curious green eyes staring back at him, and what the hell was going on? Was this a sort of group therapy? He almost spoke out loud, but Harry beat him to it.
"Minerva told me what happened," Harry said, instead of bothering with pleasantries this time. Severus preferred it this way, straight to the point. No beating around.
Pointedly, almost, Harry didn't say anything about how cool the rooms were, or the lack of light or fire. He made his way back to the same sofa, sat down and waited.
"Yes, I suppose she did," Snape said, weary. Empty. The spark of fight was gone from his veins. The world would soon know Severus Snape was a squib, Death Eater turned muggle, back from the grave but without his life force.
"What can you do?"
Snape shrugged. Hell if he had a clue, but he wouldn't say that to the boy. Too many years of teaching instilled in him to never admit imperfections. Not to those who studied under him.
There was a slight pause. Severus knew he was being rude, but... he didn't have anything left. Not to give Minerva or Poppy, not to give this boy - not even the slightest damn thing for himself. He was empty.
"I took your advice," Harry said softly. Severus glanced up, eyebrow raised. "I've been helping. Visiting. They... they don't even know me, but they think they love me." A weird smile crept across his face. "I've been rebuilding and donating my strength. It... feels good to help."
Especially to that boy, with his damn sense of martyrdom, it was probably perfection.
"Thank you," Harry continued, "for giving me a purpose. I..." He laughed, a half-bark, a short, staccato of noise in the empty, dark rooms, and then he sobered. "I thought about giving up." He said the words quietly, as if he was afraid of giving them too much power.
"No," Snape said, something inside reacting against Harry's words. "No, damn you, not with your magic teeming from your fingertips." And his face was getting red, and he was standing, shaking, pointing a finger - he couldn't control this burst. "You're the hero, the one who lived, and giving up would be blasphemy. Throwing back everything that everyone did for you..." and when he tried to catch his breath, he realized he was shouting, and trembling, but the boy was simply watching. Green eyes, wide open. Absorbing.
"I know," Harry said, softly. "Thank you, Professor. You're a hero to me," Harry continued. The room was deadly quiet between each word. "Don't you dare give up, either." The boy was oddly placated, as if he'd found the answer to life, the universe and everything, by helping the people. Oddly calm, but not twinkling. Not yet. And then he was up, leaving, leaving Severus to his quiet, dark rooms without magic.
....but he could almost read Severus' mind, and that was scary enough.
This time, when Harry returned, Severus was ready. His lab was set up, ingredients out and waiting.
"I require your assistance," Snape asked, and for a moment his rooms were teeming with uneasy silence. He knew this boy, or he thought he did, and he wouldn't refuse... but...
Harry nodded, and a shy smile brushed across his face, but was gone just as quickly.
They worked side by side, movements almost mirrored. Once, or twice, Harry brushed against him, and their skin came into direct contact. Tingles of latent magic spread through his arm, through his fingertips, and the differences were obvious when they were finished. Both potions shared the bright magenta, and they appeared to be the same consistency.
Severus jotted his notes in a leather bound journal, but he didn't understand why the results were different when he was alone. He voiced his thoughts, on the chance that Harry might have an idea.
"Maybe my magic affects you? Or..." His chewed his bottom lip, brow furrowed. "Muggles jumpstart car batteries that have run dead with other batteries that have power. Maybe my magic affects your magic? Like jumpstarting a battery, when our skin touched?"
Snape didn't know. No one knew - not many people returned from the dead via phoenix. Not many returned from the dead without losing part of their soul. Maybe this was the part he had to sacrifice to live. He didn't realize he'd spoken until Harry gave him a horrified look.
And Harry grabbed his arm, without warning.
The tingles were gone, replaced by a sizzling fire that spread throughout his body. It felt familiar, so comfortable... and for a moment, Severus was tempted to try to speak a spell.
Then Harry dropped his arm, and the feeling was gone. He rubbed his arm where Harry's fingers had rested. The limb felt numb, devoid of life. He didn't bother trying to use magic, he could feel its absence. But for a moment, it had surged beneath his skin...
"There must be something," Harry said, in a wondering tone that indicated he would probably call up Granger on the Floo immediately and sic her on research. Even to the boy who lived, a life without magic wasn't much of a life.
Severus didn't bother telling him that his research would have put hers to shame, but let the boy have his hope. It was almost infectious.
Weeks passed before the boy visited again. He looked exhausted, with heavy black shadows beneath his eyes and lines creasing his forehead.
The lab was set up (had been, since the boy had left the last time), but Severus didn't bother asking if he wanted to work. His exhaustion spoke volumes about how much he'd been working.
"Any progress?" Harry asked, and Severus shook his head. None. He hadn't tried to brew alone, but he didn't need to tell the boy. "Hermione couldn't find much either."
Snape looked up, but Harry was looking away, pointedly. There was more.
"She did find something about sharing magic. Not the same as donating, but giving magic."
McGonagall knew about this, too, and so did Severus. To him, it was barely an option - a last ditch effort that he would probably never have the chance to attain. Giving magic was very private, because one without magic opened themselves up completely to the mercy of the one with. It required a strong bond, and trust, and the only documented instances in the recordable past were between lovers.
"Yes," he said, slowly. "That's all I've been able to find." And he had scoured the Restricted Section at night, when the halls were empty. The days found those halls filled with people who needed help and healing, and the nights found them full of ghosts (particularly one damn Weasley who loved to sing Peeves-esque songs at Severus).
He could feel Harry's stare digging into him, but he couldn't meet it. He couldn't see the question in the boy's face, because it was a question he shouldn't know to ask. One he couldn't risk the boy asking, because - despite the risks - the temptation was too much.
"Have you thought about it?" He could hear the puzzlement beneath the words, and he realized that Harry didn't know. Not as much as he should, because there was no one Severus Snape was willing to accept magic from that would offer it.
His harsh laughter was his response and Harry scowled. Snape shook his head, feeling his age and bitterness. "If you really know about giving magic, then you must also know the answer to this question. Who would give me, Severus Snape, their magic?"
Once the words were spoken, Snape realized his mistake. He saw it, a subtle gleam beneath the piercing green of his eyes, and he knew.
"Do you really understand?" He continued, before the boy could speak. "It's a bond like sex, except mentally. I'm opening myself up to you, to be at your complete mercy, and you are doing the same to me. With your magic, I could use it against you. I could rip it away from your soul, and leave you an empty shell, just like me."
"But you wouldn't," Harry said quietly.
No, Severus didn't respond. He wouldn't. As much as he might like to kill the boy (because no one, not even Dumbledore, had left him feeling this open and vulnerable, and if the damn boy had his way, he'd have more control of Severus than either of his two previous masters - so much for living out the remainder of his life in debt to no one), he couldn't. Couldn't look into those green eyes and hurt what he'd died trying to protect.
"Think about it," was all Harry said. Severus wanted to snort, but didn't. "I'm willing to give you whatever you need." The boy paused, and this is where Severus could see the naiveté of his youth, his age gleaming through. "But I won't force it on you. This has to be your choice."
"What choice?" He finally snapped, glaring. "Explain to me what choices I seem to have, because I don't see a damn choice. I'll either live like this, a damn squib, for the remainder of my pathetic life, or I'll take your magic and live the remainder of my life in debt to you." He paused, before the boy could respond, and injected the most scathing bitterness into the words as he could. "And we all know that Severus Snape doesn't mind living under the thumb of a master, or two."
"It wouldn't be like that!" Harry snapped back. Fury sparkled in his eyes, and in his tightened fists. "I don't want to be your master, I just want to help! You saved me time and time again, even if was just for my mum, and I'd like to return the favor!"
He couldn't respond. Didn't know what to say. He felt bitter, and angry, and trapped. Wings beating as hard as possible, hitting glass walls over and over. Briefly, he wondered if he killed himself, if the damn bird would bring him back again.
"Just think about it," Harry muttered, tone sulky, and he left.
Severus put his head in his hands, and felt every bit as powerless as he was without magic.
When Severus entered the Headmistress' office Dumbledore's portrait beamed at him and waved and waved. Minerva told him it was a great idea, if Harry was willing, and Dumbledore nodded earnestly (but chose not to interrupt the conversation). He didn't bother asking Poppy. She'd not bother answering the question, as silly as it would sound from him. Snapes took what they wanted, what they needed. He had no choice.
He tried the potion again, with the assistance of a house elf. The murky results were similar, if not exactly the same, to the first potion he brewed by himself. The elf's magic maintained the heat beneath the cauldron, but it did not provide any magic to fuse the potion ingredients. Even unspoken, unconscious magic had an effect on potions, which was why Muggles brewing their own concoctions simply ended up with tea.
It was a frustrating situation, but it could have been worse. Harry Potter could have loathed him just as Severus had set out for the boy to do, the moment he set foot upon Hogwarts ground. He didn't. That in itself was close to miraculous. Then, when he thought of how the boy kept coming to visit (even immediately after he was sick), and how the boy was actually willing to share his magic...
Yes, Severus decided, it could have been much worse. He wasn't sentenced to be a squib for the rest of his life, unless he chose to condemn himself. He might have been a martyr, but he wasn't stupid.
Go on to part two