|webmistresses (webmistresses) wrote in severus_sighs,|
@ 2010-02-13 17:53:00
|Entry tags:||event: anti-valentine's day 2010, fic, member: roozetter, pairing: severus/harry, rating: r|
Hold Me In The Darkness by Roozetter
Title: Hold Me In The Darkness
Rating: PG-13? R? There’s…a few swear words.
Word Count: 2,023
Warnings: Swearing, illness, hurt/comfort
Summary: Genetics suck. Sometimes, they over-rule the best laid plans and change one’s reality.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: Much love to B, H, and F for the super-quick beta! I would be less sane of a person without you. Which… is an oddly frightening thought. Hmm.
Valentine’s Day wasn’t supposed to be like this, of that Harry was certain.
There was supposed to be music, soft candlelight, scented flower petals placed in a steaming bath, ridiculously over-priced chocolates on stand-by, bottle of champagne chilling. No wrapped presents – they were too predictable this time of year. Just them, together, hushed voices, smiles, lingering kisses, wandering hands…
Harry let a single tear fall down his sweat-dampened cheek as he vomited into the toilet again. He wasn’t indulging in self-pity, he really wasn’t, he reassured himself as he sat back and wiped his forehead, his cheeks, the back of his neck, with a damp flannel. It was just… the arms that wrapped around him so carefully, one about his shoulders, the other under his knees, and lifted him off the tile floor, were so strong and dependable, so achingly gentle and beloved.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered, feeling the comforting softness of his bed beneath his aching, shivering body.
“Hush.” A mere murmur in the quiet as soft blankets were pulled up to his shoulder and tucked carefully in. The bed dipped behind him seconds later, one hand running over his hip before sliding securely around his waist. “Sleep.”
The darkness was seductive and welcoming, the arm about him anchoring him to the present and keeping him from falling away, simply falling to pieces. Harry felt himself relaxing into the comfort. “I love you.”
“And I you.”
~ Six Months Before ~
Harry was laughing, watching sixteen-year-old Annie widen her brown eyes, tilt her head to the side, wrap a lock of blonde hair around her finger, pout, and completely manipulate her father into doing what she wanted. Dudley Dursley gave his oldest daughter a stern look. “Home by ten, not a second later.”
Annie squealed, launching herself into her father’s arms for an enthusiastic hug. “Thank you, Daddy! Thank you, thank you, thank you!” She ran off, dancing on air as she speed-dialed her cell phone. “Sarah? I can go!”
Dudley watched his daughter disappear up the stairs with a perplexed look on his face. Harry laughed again, slapping his cousin companionably on the shoulder. “Way to stand your ground there, Big D.”
“Oh, fuck you, Harry.” Dudley scratched his head, scowling. “She looks so much like her mother I can’t help it. And you’re one to talk.” He popped the top on a beer, settled into the chair next to Harry, and gave his cousin an amused look. “Didn’t you just get back from spending a week at some Potions convention?”
“Severus wanted to go,” Harry muttered, bringing his own beer to his mouth to hide his rising blush.
“Uh huh.” Dudley smirked, satisfied. They drank in companionable silence, idly watching the Leeds game on the telly. On commercial, Dudley hit mute and turned to Harry with a serious expression. “I’m glad you came over today.”
Harry shrugged. “You said you needed to talk to me.”
Dudley ran the back of his hand across his neck, looking awkward and uncomfortable. “So, you know how everyone poops?”
He couldn’t help it, he really couldn’t. Harry snickered. “You called me over to talk about bodily functions?”
“No.” Bright red and uncomfortable, Dudley scowled at the television set. Harry’s smile faded.
“What’s the story, Dud?”
“I’m getting a colonoscopy next week.” Dudley shifted in his seat. Harry blinked. “Mum had one about ten years ago, her mum had one when she was fifty-five… colon cancer isn’t necessarily hereditary, you don’t need to be tested until you’re fifty, but with the kids and all I went in, they checked, and I’m having the operation.”
Harry blinked. “You… huh?”
“I know you’re different.” Dudley gestured between them with his hands. “Having,” he dropped his voice to a whisper, “magic and all, but that’s three generations.”
“O – k,” Harry agreed cautiously.
“I want you to get checked, is all.” Dudley looked relieved when the commercial ended, taking the television off mute and settling deeper into his chair. “Promise me you’ll go to the doctor and get checked out.”
“Sure, Dud.” Still bemused and not quite sure he’d caught what Dudley was trying to say, Harry nodded none-the-less. What would it hurt to go to the doctor? “I’ll go.”
“Good.” Dudley nodded, taking another swig of beer. “Now I’m done talking about your ass. Shut up and watch the game.”
~ Three Months Earlier ~
It sounded like a song. Harry nearly smiled, thinking Hermione was telling him about something Rosie or Hugo had gotten up to, until he noticed the line between her eyes. Her thinking line, as he and Ron used to call it. The line that only came out when she was faced with a dilemma she didn’t want to acknowledge but couldn’t hide from and was determined to correct.
Severus tensed in his chair next to Harry, staring at Hermione like she was still one of his students and not the head Healer of her own private practice. “Pardon?”
“You have colon cancer, Harry.” Her voice was brisk, professional, belying the line between her brows and the suspicious brightness of her eyes. “Surgery is the most common treatment. I’ll go in, remove the tumor, a small margin of the surrounding healthy bowel, and some of the adjacent lymph nodes. Then the healthy sections of the bowel are reconnected, and we’ll go from there. With magic, the procedure is not terribly invasive and you should be allowed to go home within a few days.”
Harry opened and closed his mouth several times. “But I’m only forty.”
“I know, Harry.” Hermione’s voice softened.
“Chances of survival?” The tone was terse, arms crossed tightly and protectively over his chest. Harry forced his mind back to the present and placed a hand on Severus’s thigh.
Hermione had been a Healer for years, she knew how best to deliver information in the style her client needed. Her voice was once again devoid of emotion and brisk as she answered. “High. Over eighty percent survival rates.” She handed over a file, neatly labeled and color-coded. “I know you will both have questions, and I know you need to mull this over. Read these, do your own research, and come back next Tuesday to talk.”
Severus stood, collected the file, and swept from the room without a word. Harry stood as well, feeling confused and panic-stricken in a way he hadn’t felt in years. Just as she’d known Severus needed impersonal facts, Hermione knew Harry needed physical contact and rounded her desk to pull him into a tight hug. “It’ll be ok, Harry.” She kissed his cheek, smiling at him. Were it not for the ever-present line between her brows, he would have believed her. “We’ll get through this.”
Harry smiled wanly, kissed her cheek, and left the office. Severus was standing in the hallway, staring fixedly out the window. He turned when Harry shut the door behind him and pulled Harry into his arms to Apparrate them away.
“It’s always something with me,” Harry joked feebly. His eyes landed on the file clenched in potion-stained hands and skittered away. “Do you want some tea? I’m going to go make some tea.”
He made no move to step away from the comforting embrace, however, and Severus made no move to release him.
~ One Month Earlier ~
“It’s diarrhea!” Harry bellowed irritably from his hospital bed. “Everyone gets diarrhea! That’s no reason to hospitalize a bloke!”
“It is not just diarrhea!” Hermione yelled back. “You’re seriously dehydrated, Harry. I have no choice but to postpone your next round of chemo.”
“And why,” Severus asked coldly from his position next to Harry’s bed, “would you do that?”
Hermione closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and forced herself to calm down. “Blood in your stool, excessive diarrhea, pronounced exhaustion, rapid weight loss… side effects of the treatment, yes. Chemotherapy is a systematic therapy, Harry. The medication travels through the body destroying cancer cells. That’s why I give it to you in stages… fourteen days on, then a short period of time for your blood cells and platelets to recover. But if it is making you this sick…” Hermione stepped closer to the bed, looking at her best friend with shiny, imploring eyes. “If you weren’t my best friend we wouldn’t even be having this fight,” she whispered. “I would tell you my decision was final, and as your doctor ask you to respect that.”
Harry’s hand trembled. He looked down at his twitching limb in fury. Chemo sucked. Cancer sucked. His whole fucking life sucked. He didn’t look up when Severus gripped his hand, tuning the conversation out. He was getting better. Why couldn’t they focus on that, instead of worrying about the fact that chemo was making him sick and tired?
“… postpone the next round by only a week, Severus. Give him a chance to get stronger…”
He couldn’t fly anymore, his equilibrium impaired by random bursts of dizziness. He’d tried to go running, thinking maybe he’d have a new form of exercise to keep him going. He could feel his muscles trembling, protesting, but he’d pushed himself until he was lying on the side of the road, panting for breath and sobbing. He couldn’t cry around Severus. He just couldn’t. It had taken ages for them to come together in the first place, both being such private, wounded people. Crying felt like giving up, admitting helplessness.
“… if it makes him this sick again… we’ll have to see. It doesn’t do any good, mentally, to keep him hospitalized.”
Mental. Ha. Hermione, the pamphlets, all the information he’d read, discussed how fighting disease was sixty-percent mental. They didn’t know the half of it. If it were up to Harry… Well, he’d make his plans, organize his life, and see where fate took him. But it wasn’t up to Harry, not really. It was up to Severus.
Severus, who didn’t sleep the entire first week of Harry’s diagnosis, staying up all night to research and plan. Severus, who changed their dietary habits to one that would be most beneficial for Harry’s immune system, bought a softer mattress when Harry winced upon waking in the morning, held Harry all night long, stroking his hair and whispering reassurances, argued over and memorized the most minute of details regarding Harry’s health. Severus, who held Harry’s hand when words would only seem meaningless and empty. Harry would fight for Severus.
~ Present Day ~
Harry awoke slowly, relishing the feeling of the soft cotton beneath his cheek and the warmth of the body pressed behind him. The shadows on the wall told him it was dusk, he’d nearly slept the day away. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”
“To you as well.” Severus stirred, pressing a kiss to the back of Harry’s neck. “How are you feeling?”
“Better.” Harry rolled over, smiling into black eyes that searched his face for any sign of deception. His smile faded when Severus kissed his forehead, unable to kiss him properly due to the mouth sores brought on by the chemo. “When this is over, I want you to kiss me until I can’t breathe.”
“I can do that,” Severus murmured, reaching up to brush a strand of hair from Harry’s face. “Last round.”
Harry nodded, snuggling closer. He was nearly finished with the treatments, finally allowing himself to relax when Hermione had read over his current test results with a smile and no line between her eyebrows.
Severus gently dislodged Harry, reaching over to the end table and producing two flutes of chilled sparkling cider and a plate of sliced fruit. “So much for chocolates and champagne,” Harry muttered, moving into a sitting position and accepting the glass.
“I know.” Harry smiled wryly. “So what should we toast to?”
Severus let their glasses lightly clink together, reaching out with one finger to trace the curve of Harry’s cheek before pressing another kiss to Harry’s forehead. “Our future.”
The bubbles from the cider tickled his throat. Harry blamed them for the tears that prickled his eyes. For a Valentine’s Day unlike any he’d ever experienced, it was surprisingly sweet.