Civil War

Chapter Nine - Bones

By Sushi


Sev was already there, leaning on an elbow, dividing his carrots by size.  He glared at Harry as he sat down.  “You’re late.”

“I was busy.”  He grabbed a bowl of peas and strained a spoonful before dumping them on his plate.  Sev snorted.  He stuck a single carrot in his mouth and chewed longer than necessary.  Harry touched his emaciated knee.  “You need to eat more.”

“I eat plenty.”  He jerked his leg away but cut a large bite of toad in the hole.  They ate in silence.  Dumbledore never showed.  Harry looked up occasionally to see various students stare nervously at Sev.  Colin and Dennis could barely take their eyes off him, except possibly to glance at Harry in awe.  I’m ‘the boy who lived’ all over again.  Except now I’m ‘the boy who stood up to Snape and lived’.  He wrenched a sausage free of its pudding and gnawed.  It was scant improvement over being treated like a traitor.  When Sev finally pushed his plate away and stood up Harry was relieved to see it was mostly empty.  Stomach annoyed at being forced to stop so soon, he followed.  In an empty corridor he took a clawlike hand.  Sev didn’t shake him off.

“How’s your neck?”

Sev snorted.  “I’ll live.”

“I’m sorry about that.”

“Why should you be?  You were perfectly justified in what you did.  After all, I’m just the psychotic, greasy, lying Potions monster.  High time someone stood up to me, wouldn’t you say?  Oh, that’s right, you did.”  He’d slouched, and stared at Harry with a bitter expression.

“Dennis ran into you.  You didn’t need to scream at him.”  Sev looked away.  “I’m really worried about you.”

“I’m fine.”

“If you’re fine, why are you down almost three stone?”  Harry clutched his hand before he could pull it away.  “And why are you doing everything you can to make your students hate you?”


“Nadja Alabaster came in crying today.”

“Good.  Maybe she’ll finally pay attention to what she’s doing.”  Harry’s mouth made a hard line.

“She knocked over her cauldron, Sev!  Neville must have done that a hundred times.  You never made him read Antidote To Life.”

“Neville Longbottom is a screaming moron.”  Harry frowned.  “Nadja Alabaster might not be if she’d just remember to bring her brain to class.”  He dropped the bony hand in disgust.

“So why don’t you stop yelling at her long enough for her to try?”

“Don’t tell me how to deal with my students.”

“Don’t tell me how to deal with my friends.”

They stared, daring each other to blink first, as they walked slowly towards the dungeons.  Suddenly, Sev crashed into what seemed to be a beanstalk wrapped in gauze.  “Bloody Hell, Sibyll!  Watch where you’re going!”

She took a dramatic step backwards.  Her garish eyelids fluttered behind thick lenses.  “I knew I’d find the two of you here.  The Fates have spoken to me.”

“Really,” Sev muttered dryly.

“They have told me that one of you,” she took a poignant breath, “will die before the turn of the year.”

Severus gave her a bored look.  “I’m terrified.  Truly, I think I’m going to leave a puddle.  Did you fall asleep with the wireless on again?”

She glowered at him before regaining her distant air.  Trelawney put a hand on Harry’s shoulder.  “Should you ever wish to speak once again with forces beyond the veil, Harry, I will be more than happy to act as a medium.”

“Dry up, y’old coot.”  She sputtered and wrenched her spidery hand away.

“If I were you, Mister Potter, I wouldn’t be so eager to incur the Fates’ wrath!”  She slipped between them, grumbling.  Harry watched her for a moment before turning back to Sev.  Those thin lips were twitching.

“Perhaps your talent for mouthing off to teachers has some merit.”  Harry smiled weakly.  In all honesty, what Professor Trelawney said did scare him.  The concept of Sev dying had crossed his mind more than once.  Without thinking he put an arm around that thin waist.  “If you believe anything she just said I’m going to be sorely disappointed.”  Sev draped his arm around Harry’s shoulders anyway.

“How could I believe anything Trelawney says?  I took Divination.”  He tugged Sev towards the stairs leading to the dungeons.  “Can you take a night off research?  We need to talk.”

“Hmm.  I’m afraid not.  I’ve reached a critical stage—“

“You haven’t found anything.”  Sev pulled free and walked quickly, trying to leave Harry behind.  He jogged down the steps.  Harry kept up easily.  “Wait up.”

“I have to work.”

“You need a break, and we have to talk.”

“I don’t need a break.  I need to be left in peace!”

“Professor Dumbledore told me about Eversor.”  Sev broke into a dead run.  Harry reached his office door just in time to hear the lock slide home.  “Sev!”  He pounded on the door.

“Go away.”

“For god’s sake, grow up!”  Harry took out his wand.  “Alohomora!”  The lock slid back with a shshink and the door opened.  Sev was at his desk, hand tangled in his hair, quill shaking, huge book in front of him open to a woodblock print of a wizard being chased by demons.  One carried an hourglass with the sand flowing up.  Harry took the quill from his hand and set it beside the gold-lined cauldron that had recently taken up permanent residence.  “Why didn’t you tell me about him?”

“There’s nothing to tell.  Why?  What did Albus say?”

“Not much.”  Harry leaned against the back of his chair and pulled Sev up.  He gently kneaded the thin shoulders.  “He said you killed him.”

“Hmm.  I need to have a little talk with Albus.”  He leaned forward and picked up his quill again.  “I’ll see what I can do about getting you a different room.  Until then I’ll sleep on the couch.”  Only the scratch of his quill broke Harry’s stunned silence as Snape copied the print.


“That is what ‘we need to talk’ means, isn’t it?”

“No!”  Harry grabbed his shoulders and pulled him back in the chair again.  “How can you think that?”  Now he saw the choppy, purplish ring around the man’s thin throat.  Was he really that fragile?

“I thought you might prefer to wake up alive.  Or do you think it’s kinky to sleep with a murderer?”  Cold eyes bored up into Harry’s.

“I just want to know why you never told me anything about him!  I thought your great-grandfather did something.”

“How could he?  He died before I was born.”  Yet again, he wrenched free and continued drawing.  Harry growled and dragged Sev’s chair away from the desk.  A yelp told him he’d managed to ruin the picture.  Sure enough, a black smear ran from the hourglass to the edge of the parchment.  He perched in the middle of the desk and glared; Severus glared back.  “Apologise.”

“I’m sorry I ruined your picture.  Now can we talk?”

Snape’s eye began to twitch; the vein in his temple joined it.  His clawed hands grasped the arms of his worn leather chair and tried to talon through.  In a low, dangerous voice he said, “I have nothing to say to a rude, insolent, disrespectful little brat like you, Mister Potter.  I would thank you to get out of my sight before I’m forced to remove you!”

Harry slammed his feet onto Severus’ chair, pinning him by the robe on either side.  “Yes, you do.  First, I find out you swore to Poppy that you’d told me about the Unicorn Blood.  Then, you promised Dumbledore that you’d tell me whatever it is I need to know about Eversor.  That was in May.  This is, what, middle of November?  Six months isn’t long enough to say, ‘oh, by the way, I had a brother but I killed him’?”

“Get out.”

Harry shook his head.  He dragged the wheeled chair closer and secured his legs around Sev’s back.  “I want a few of those answers you were supposed to give me.”

“Let me go, Potter.”  Sharp fingers dug into his knees.  Harry refused the pain.

“Do you want to answer a few questions, or do you want me to walk out that door and never look back?”  Sev stiffened.  To Harry’s dismay he seemed to be thinking about it.  “Come on,” he snapped in a tightly controlled voice, “if you want me to go I need to get packing.”  His voice cracked slightly on “packing”.

“You’re bluffing.”

Harry shook his head sadly.  “No, Sev.  I’m not.”  He felt slit from gob to gullet.  His ridiculous Gryffindor loyalty shrieked in outrage, but his Gryffindor bravery said someone had to draw the line for Severus Snape.  Snape rest his elbows on the arms of the chair and steepled his hands.  He looked blank.  Harry untangled his legs.  “I’ll see if I can stay with Remus tonight.”  He stood up.  A sudden hand pushed him back onto the desk.

“Damn you.”

Something beneath those cold, dead eyes looked very small, and young, and afraid.  Harry wanted to take him in his arms, but that would give the Slytherin bastard an out.  “Are you ready to talk?”

“What do you want to know?”

“Where are you from?”

“Norfolk.  Near The Wash.”

“Any brothers or sisters?”  A pregnant pause.

“One.  Eversor.”

“Tell me about him.”

“I’d rather not.”  Harry started to get up again.  “Sit down, Potter.”  Sev pushed his chair back a few inches, just out of Harry’s reach.  “Eversor was nine years, eight months, and sixteen days older than me.  He made sure I spent my excuse for a childhood learning to hide.”  His sneer couldn’t completely mask the fear behind it.  “I probably deserved it.”

“Why would you deserve it?”  Sev shrugged.  It was a far cry from the vicious, domineering Snape who’d screamed at Dennis Creevey.  “What did you do?”

“I didn’t need to do anything.  Eversor, the pride and joy of our father, was a Squib.”

“Is that why you hate him?”

Murder flared in those obsidian eyes.  “What kind of pureblood elitist do you take me for?  You don’t see me looking down my nose at Filch, do you?”  Harry shook his head.  He didn’t feel the need to mention that he already knew what Eversor was.  “As soon as I proved myself he was dropped from heir-in-case to nothing.  Even if I died, he would always be The Squib.”

“What did he do?”

Severus leaned back.  The toes of his scuffed black boots pressed into the floor.  “He encouraged me.”  A painful smirk played on his lips.

“Encouraged you to do what?”

“Learn.”  Harry had a sudden, horrific flashback to the day he’d been so frightened and so desperate he’d come to Snape for help.

“Why did you follow Voldemort?”

“I suppose I thought there was a lot he could teach me.”

“Was there?”


“Was he the reason you became a Death Eater?”

Snape looked at him, an odd, pained expression on his narrow face.  “I thought you wanted to know about Eversor.  Surely, that question is about me.”

“Is that a yes?”

“It’s a non-answer, you cheeky brat.  Get back to the subject.  I have work to do.”

Harry looked at his hands.  One finger was purple from being wrung.  He released it; prickling warmth flowed back in.  “Why did you kill him?”

Sev put his chin on his stiff fingertips.  “It would have been cruel to let him live.”

“Why?”  No answer.  “Why would it have been cruel?”

“That information is private, Mister Potter.”

“Just like what the Death Eaters did to you.”

“No, not like what the Death Eaters did to me.”  Sev pushed himself to his feet and unlocked the door.  “I think it’s time for you to go.  I need to work.  I’ll be up before midnight.”

“If I’m still there, you mean.”  Harry couldn’t meet that cold glare.

“Your insufferable Gryffindor traits say you will.”  Severus was right.  Harry would be there, tonight and every night until he was given no choice but to leave.  He wondered when that would be.

He slowly got to his feet and stretched.  A large knot had taken up residence between his shoulder blades.  “What would you do if I’d been put in Slytherin?”

“Probably get a lot more sleep.  Fuck off.”  Sev leaned forward to kiss him.  Harry halfheartedly returned it.  “Let’s not get overenthusiastic, shall we?”

“Sorry.  I’m tired.”

“Hmph.  I’ll just let you sleep then.”  He shoved Harry out the door into the chilly corridor.  A couple of passing Slytherins saw him and snickered.

“How’s detention, Potter?”

“Shut up.”


“Harry, wake up.”  Someone was shaking him.  It was awfully cold.  He groped for the blankets but found none.  “Wake up.  You’ll catch your death.”

“Quit hogging the covers.”  He rolled over and sucked in a lungful of water.  Spluttering, he sat up.  Sev raised an eyebrow at him.

“Perhaps I won’t just let you sleep.  It seems to lead to drowning.”  He helped Harry out of the freezing bathtub.  Harry’s teeth chattered.  Severus rolled his eyes.  “You always did have a flair for the dramatic.”

“Bite me.”

“Perhaps when you’re no longer that alluring shade of blue.”  Harry felt a thick, warm towel wrap around his shoulders.  It fell past his knees.  It was difficult to bear a grudge against Snape while he shuffled him into the chair in front of the fire.  At a flick of his yew-and-unicorn-hair wand the flames roared higher.  Harry was sure his skin would blister.  “Don’t move, or I’m dropping you back in the bath.”

“Yes, dear,” Harry muttered under his breath.  Sev either ignored him or didn’t hear because he vanished into their sitting room.  He returned several minutes later with a large, steaming mug.  Harry took a sip and nearly choked.  “What the Hell…?”

“I thought you liked cocoa.”  Sev took the other chair and watched him with a trace of amusement.

“Yeah, but that doesn’t explain this stuff!  What the Hell is it?”  Alcohol permeated his sinuses.

“Cocoa.  I thought you might appreciate a little amaretto.  Apparently I was wrong.”  Sev sniffed and tried to look dejected, but he was enjoying himself too much.  Just to spite him, Harry took another sip.  The alcohol warmed him much more quickly than cocoa alone.

“Thanks,” he growled.

“You’re quite welcome, I’m sure.”  He pulled out his glasses, picked up a book from the table between them, and found his place.  Harry squinted around for a clock.  Uh… ten thirty.  Sev was home early.

“Any luck?”  Harry braved the scorching liquid and took a drink.  He couldn’t taste the alcohol so much now.  In fact, it was kind of pleasant until his taste buds blistered.


Harry squirmed in his chair.  The towel was uncomfortably damp, but pleasantly warm, and he couldn’t decide if he wanted his dressing gown or not.  He also couldn’t decide what to make of Severus, and the many faces he’d shown in the last seven or so hours.  Snape turned a page.  “Do you want me to help?”

“Not especially.”  Liar.  Those ridiculous glasses were nearly off the hooked tip of his nose again.  Harry leaned over and pushed them into place.

“Why won’t you let me help?”

“Because it’s none of your business.”  Sev looked genuinely shocked when Harry yanked the book from his hands.  It was immediately replaced by stony annoyance.  “Give that back.”

Harry dropped the book on the floor.  “No.”  He drained his scalding cocoa and set the mug on the table.  “And it is too my business.  I’m not exactly keen on having the blood to my brain shut off.”

Severus stood up.  “If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have a bath.  If I fall asleep I’d appreciate it if you’d fish me out before I drown.”

“Ha, ha, very funny.  Can I have a straight answer for once?”

For someone with no discernible expression, Snape was witheringly expressive.  “You can help as soon as you’ve demonstrated fluency in Latin, advanced knowledge and understanding of neurometabolic mediwizardry, and master status at potion-making.”  Harry pursed his lips.  Normally, he would be grateful for the no-nonsense reply, a rarity where Severus was concerned.  The amaretto had done something to his brain, though.

“It doesn’t seem to have helped you.”

“Pardon?”  Sinister, silky ropes of sound bound his mind, both infuriating and fascinating him.  If Harry didn’t get hold of himself soon he was going to make a fool of himself.  He mentally shook it off.

“I just meant that you don’t seem to be getting anywhere.”  Snape’s glared bored a hole through him.  “Maybe if you had someone to help it would go better.  And there might be some non-potion solution.  Y’know, like a charm.”

Sev stalked over to his chair, graceful and deadly.  The joints stood out on his slim fingers when he bent them.  He plucked at Harry’s damp hair.  “And from what realm of fantasy did the concept of an antidote charm come?  Hmm?  Spells cannot and will not counter potions.  That, my wretched dolt, is one of the basic tenets of magic.  I don’t know how you saw your second year without understanding that much.”  Harry frowned.

“There might be an exception,” he mumbled.

“You’re drunk.  Not even you could be that daft sober.”

“Have you tried it?”

Sev’s fingers tapped against his skull.  After a long time he muttered, “It’s been tried.”  Without another word he turned on his heel.  The bathroom door clicked shut behind him.  Harry didn’t hear the lock.  He waited until water stopped running before following him in.

Sev’s head floated in a glacier of foam.  Their oversized claw-foot bathtub had a knob on the tap that replaced the slew of taps around the prefect tub.  His eyes were closed, lashes curling over the hollows beneath.  The rest of him was buried in foam.  Harry settled behind him and stroked his temples.  A low growl started in Severus’ throat but he didn’t seem bothered to move.  “Want me to wash your hair?”

“You’ve done enough for one night.”

Harry grabbed his shampoo from under the tub anyway.  “Duck under.”

Sev turned to look at him, rising out of the water to the shoulders.  “Don’t you have to take care of that horse-thing of yours?”

He shook his head.  “It’s Lupin’s turn.”

“Oh, yes, how could I forget?” Severus muttered, sinking back into the water.  “It’s the werewolf’s turn.  Maybe he’ll eat the blasted beast and be done with it.”

Harry dumped a glob of pearly white shampoo on his palm.  “Do I have to dunk you?”

“I don’t want my hair washed.”  He sat up and hugged his knees, back to Harry, lumps of froth strewn from neck to mid-chest.  Harry sighed and scraped the shampoo back into the bottle.  He stuck his hands in the warm water to rinse them.  “Who do I have to kill to get some peace around here?”

“Just me.”  The water sent happy tingles up his arms and Harry had an idea.  He found a flannel and climbed into the tub behind Sev.

“What are you doing?”

“Washing your back for you.”  He rubbed a bar of soap on the thick terrycloth and, gently, pushed Sev’s greasy hair out of the way.  The ring, turning black, was just as obvious here as it was on his throat.

“I’m not yet so decrepit that I can’t wash my own back.”  It still curved like a serpent at the touch.  His head drooped.  Harry felt the ridges of his spine, the ripple of his ribcage through the heavy cloth.  It reminded him of pictures from the Holocaust he’d seen at Muggle school.  Dudley had laughed; Harry punched him, and had been beaten within an inch of his life for it, first by Dudley and his gang and later by Uncle Vernon.  It was the only time he could remember that Uncle Vernon beat him.  Sev’s skin was warm from the water, but underneath the warmth was a coolness that defied logic.  He re-soaked the flannel and rinsed the soap away, trying to drive out the cold.  It wouldn’t budge.  He wrapped his arms around Sev’s waist and lay his cheek between the man’s shoulder blades.  Severus grasped one of his hands.

“Why do you like your hair dirty?”

“Who said I like it?”  Sev squeezed his hand and groped for the flannel and soap.  In a moment he started scrubbing his face.

“You act like you do.”  Severus held his breath and ducked forward.  He came back up with a gasp, flinging water and suds everywhere.  Harry squeaked.  Snape chuckled.

“You certainly seemed to enjoy that.”

“Nyah.”  Sev started scrubbing the rest of himself.  “Why don’t you wash your hair?”

“It’s a waste of time.”  This was going nowhere.  Harry decided to switch gears.

“If you’re from Norfolk, you’ve been to Hunstanton, right?”

“Hmm.  Once or twice.  Why?”

“Oh, nothing important.  The Dursleys sometimes stayed with a friend of Aunt Petunia’s who lived there.  They never took me.  I just wondered what it’s like.”

Sev scrubbed a shoulder until it turned red.  “Very hot and sunny in summer.  And crowded.  And it smells like rotting fish.”

Harry smiled.  “Can you take me there someday?”

“Only if you want to go in February.”

“Who in their right mind goes to the North Sea in February?”


“Kind of your dungeon away from home, huh?”

Sev slapped his arm under the water.  “Why are you so bloody annoying?”

“So I can inherit your fortune that much sooner.”

Sev snorted.  “What makes you think I’ve got a fortune?”

“Well, let’s see.  You’re related to the Malfoys, you’ve got your own family crest, you drop seven hundred Galleons on a watch without blinking.  Hmm, I wonder?”

“How much money do your precious Dursleys have, Harry?”  His voice was low and cool.

Harry shrugged.  “Enough to feed Dudley, so probably a lot.”

“How much of it do you have?”

“I don’t want their money.”  He shuddered at the thought.

“Just because the Malfoys and I share some distant lineage doesn’t mean we have to share our financial situation.  I paid for that watch myself, not that it’s any of your concern.”

“Oh.”  Harry found himself a little disappointed.  He flushed with guilt.  Silently, Sev pried himself loose and rinsed off his layer of soap.  Legs crossed, he leaned against the side of the bath, giving Harry a sidelong look.

“So sorry to shatter all your hopes and dreams, Potter.”

“You didn’t.  I mean, it’s not a big deal…”

Snape tutted.  “First a murderer, now a poor professor.  What injustice must you face next?”

“I’m not complaining.”  As if to prove it, he cuddled up against Sev’s side, hugging himself.  The water was starting to cool off.  A thin forearm dangled casually down his chest.  “I’ve got enough to gripe about already.”

“You wound me.”  Sev sounded utterly bored.

“I try.”  He leaned his head against a prominent section of ribs.  “I mean, you’re greasy, sarcastic, arrogant, you look like a walking corpse—“


Ah.  Struck a nerve, there.  “Sorry.”  There was a time when Sev would have had a biting comeback.  Now, torn between total exhaustion and ever-greater frustration, he’d lost some of his sarcastic edge.  He thought of something.  No, that’s silly.  He had to change the subject again, though.  “Does Unicorn Blood ever wear off?”

“Presumably not.”


“Nobody’s ever lived long enough to find out.”

“Ah.”  Well, that just made the day perfect.  Harry slid miserably into the water until his nose was barely above the surface.  His legs hung over the other edge of the tub, goosepimpling in the cold castle air.  The thick foam glacier had dissolved into random icebergs.

“You don’t need to drown yourself yet.  They were primarily suicides.  Despite your gushing faith, I don’t plan to slit my wrists any time in the near future.”

Harry nodded vaguely.  He tipped his mouth out of the water.  “Good.  It’s not like I’ve got an inheritance to look forward to anymore.”

Sev made an odd sort of grunt.  “As if you’d get it, anyway.”  Thin fingers traced Harry’s lips.  He kissed them.  Sev lightly pressed them to his own mouth, then back to Harry’s.  It was another in a long string of uncharacteristic affections.  Harry settled in closer.

“What happened to Eversor?”

Sev flinched.  “Why did you bring that up?”

He shrugged.  “I thought it might do you some good to talk about it.”

“If I thought it would do some good I would have done so a long time ago.”  He started to lift himself out of the bath.  Harry flung an arm around his waist.  “Don’t you ever give up?”

“No.”  Sev scowled.

“He was in pain, so I put him out of his misery.  He didn’t deserve it, but I did it anyway.  Satisfied now?”

No.  “Yes.  Thank you.”  Sev settled back into the water, a couple of inches away from Harry.  What Albus said earlier made a little more sense.  Presumably, Sev didn’t cause his brother’s pain or else it wouldn’t have been a mercy killing.  Or justifiable in the headmaster’s eyes.  He still had the nagging feeling Voldemort was involved somewhere in this mess.  For some reason it brought back what Sirius had told him on his birthday.  “Um… how did you kill him?”

Sev glared at him.  “I thought you were satisfied.”

“I’m just curious.”

A sardonic smirk played on his face.  “I see I’m starting to wear off on you.  Perhaps you would have made a good Slytherin after all.  Gryffindors don’t lie, do they?”  Harry looked away.  He had the horrible feeling Sev knew about the journal.  No, that’s impossible.  “The Killing Curse.  Quick, painless, and effective.”  Harry shivered.  The water was cold, so cold.

“Is that all?” he asked in a tremulous voice.

“What else would you have me do?”  His smooth voice was both seductive and terrifying.  “The Cruciatus Curse?  Maybe turn him over to the Death Eaters for a while so they could have their fun?”  Harry could hear him sneer.

“Sirius said the Death Eaters were all rapists.”  He spoke before he realised it.  Sev shoved him.  Tepid water went over his head.  Harry choked, groping for the surface.  His eyes burned with soap and he had to close them.  Water seeped into his lungs.  Finally, his hand found the edge of the tub and he came up, gagging and spitting.  The door slammed.  Harry pulled himself onto the wet tile floor and lay there for a moment, breathing hard.  He grabbed his sodden towel and wrapped it around himself.  As soon as he yanked the door open a blanket and pillow hit him in the face.

“I assume you’re less resolute about sleeping with a rapist than you are a murderer.  You can find your own room tomorrow.”

“Sev, I’m sorry!”  He dropped the bedding.  “I didn’t mean you!”

“I distinctly heard you say all Death Eaters.”

“According to Sirius.  I didn’t say I believed him.”  Suddenly, deceptively strong hands grabbed his wrist and dragged him halfway onto the bed.  His feet dangled.  He was pressed into the mattress.  Sev leaned on his shoulders, teeth bared, eyes burning like coals.  With a swift, slick motion he ran the tip of his tongue from Harry’s nipple to just below his ear.

“Maybe you should,” he hissed.

“Sev, stop.  Please?”  He fought not to struggle.  Struggling would be a harsher accusation than his words.  Severus’ weight levered down on him.  For the first time, he seriously wondered if Sirius had been right.

“Why should I?  There’s absolutely nothing to stop me from casting binds and doing whatever I want to you.”  His breath was hot.  The end of his nose traced Harry’s ear, eliciting a whimper of fear.  He jerked back.  “Except that I have some semblance of a conscience.”  He stormed to the bathroom and picked up his robe.  On the way he threw Harry’s pillow at him.  “Go to sleep.”  Ignoring his boxers, Sev yanked the damp robe over his head.  He stepped into his slippers.  Harry lay there, petrified.  “I said, ‘go to sleep’.  Are you dim?”  Harry couldn’t respond.  In disgust, Sev shoved his pillow into place and yanked back the duvet.  With no great gentleness he rolled Harry into bed and left him there.

“Where are you going?”

Sev glanced back with frostburnt eyes.  “Out.”  The sitting room door shook.  In a moment he felt the bed vibrate as the main door slammed.  Harry clutched his knees.  He was quite sure he would sick all over the bed, but it never came.  Loneliness, self-loathing, shame all fought for dominance.  He trembled, unable to cry, unable to scream, unable to do anything but feel every twinge of guilt as it settled over him like snow.  The bastard had terrified him.  The bastard had lied to him more times than he wanted to think about.  He couldn’t get rid of the feeling, though, that a few poorly spoken words had caused Severus more pain than he’d caused Harry in eight years.

Harry tried to stay awake until Sev came back.  He tried to be able to apologise.  He tried to keep his eyes open long enough to prove that he wasn’t afraid of either him or his touch.  When Harry opened them, though, Sev was asleep, back to him, and oddly peaceful.  Carefully, he sat up.  In Severus’ limp hand was an oversized goblet.  A puddle of algae-blue liquid stained the white sheets; a wash of it stained his colourless lips.  Harry stared at him in wonder and in agony.  He’d never seen Sev so still or so quiet.  If not for the barest rise and fall of his chest Harry would have pegged him for dead.  He dreaded to think how much Draught of Living Death it took to put him in this state.  Ignoring the puddle, he pulled the duvet over Sev’s naked shoulders, and placed a meek kiss on his cheek.  “I’m sorry.  I love you.”

“Ten points from Gryffindor,” Sev muttered distantly, and buried his face in the pillow.










English for Americans And Other Deviants (I’m Oklahoma born and raised, I can say things like that)


Stone, or stoneweight: 14 pounds.  Body weight in the UK is typically measured in stone, i.e. 9 stone 12 pounds = 138 pounds.

Flannel: washcloth

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