Author's Note: This is an outtake from the novel Civil War. It picks up immediately where the chapter "Brevis Tui Tempus Est" leaves off and, while it makes a nice piece of smut on its own, it contains several details pertaining directly to the main novel (several of which will make certain points of the story clearer), and the exact situation makes absolutely no sense on its own.

Disclaimer: Sorry, Jo. Iíll give them back when Iím finished.


Shell Shock

By Sushi

       

"Where are you going?"

Severus paused. He glanced back over his shoulder. Harry's face, tight-lipped and large-eyed with fear, wasn't quite enough to slice through his shell of fury. Whether the shell was to block out his maritus or himself, Severus wasn't yet sure.

Coldly, he said, "Out." He slammed the door. A moment later he slammed another one, distantly satisfied at the heavy bang it made.

Alone in the corridor, he finally allowed his hands to shake. His ugly, stained, emaciated hands, the ones that had ground Harry's naked shoulders into the mattress where they'd twitched oh-so-delicately in his effort not to throw Severus off. Or, possibly, he was just too scared to move.

Rapist.

All the Death Eaters are rapists.

Snape's head moved jerkily, by degrees, seeking some course away from that damnation. It followed, like a fresh bruise on his soul. Not a rapist, not a rapist, never a rapist. Murderer, plague-bringer, corruptor of families left beneath the earth in fixed rows, traitor to all he'd held dear, but never rapist.

Then what was that little show, old boy? I know you wouldn't, and you know you wouldn't, but he doesn't know that. Didn't you see the doubt in his eyes? Isn't the inspiration of that fear enough? He shoved the thought to the back of his skull to rot.

A mirror hung amidst portraits between the suite and Albus' office. Severus had walked past it at least a thousand times and never cared. Flickering motion grabbed him this time; he froze.

Hollow, black eyes stared at him from its impassive depths. They glittered slightly, sunk in shadow. The same sickly grey shadow bled down the sides of his nose, rose up beneath his painfully sharp cheekbones, lived in the crevice of his mouth and down his neck. He didn't have to look to know that his entire body had been traced with the same brush. He looked like a walking corpse.

That wasn't what made him drop his head so the streaked hair dangled in his face, though. He didn't see himself; he saw the shadow of the Destroyer welcoming him into the fold.

"Now you understand, little brother. Go back, show him you love him. He'll be yours forever if you do."

"Shut up, Eversor," Severus muttered between his teeth. Nails dug into his palms. He felt burning red moons deepen, couldn't even wince when they popped and thin, hot trails of blood began to drip between his twitching, digging fingers.

"You know I'm right." The deep voice, perfect as black pearls and spawned from the same filth, grew solid. Snape's heart sped up. He glanced up, and blue eyes met his from the mirror. He shrank. "Go on, my love. Don't you want to hear him tell you that he loves you?"

"Go away, Eversor. Please, not tonight." The robe stuck to Severus' fleshless arms where he'd gripped them, trying to put a futile wall between himself and the Destroyer. "Leave me alone."

"Why would I do that?" Eversor cocked his head, looking puzzled. "Don't you love me?"

Silence. Severus' mouth trembled with words as his body did with terror. It was cold, so very, very cold. A draught tickled the bare skin under his robe and he yelped.

"What's wrong? You used to like it when I did that."

"No," he squeezed his eyes shut. "No, no, no..."

"Poor little wizard. You're not thinking straight. Are you poorly?"

"Go. Away."

Eversor gave a sad little sigh. "You don't look well at all." A second draught touched Severus' cheek; he flinched. "If you don't get better, we can be together again," the Destroyer said tenderly. "I'd like that, little brother."

Severus rocked on his heels. "Go away," he whispered. "Go away, leave me alone, Crucio, Imperio, Avada Kedavra. Crucio, Imperio, Avada Kedavra..." I hate you, I hate you, Eversor, I hate you. I hate you, I hate you, Eversor, I hate you. "... Crucio, Imperio, Avada Kedavra..."

"Tell me you love me."

"No," he whispered stubbornly.

"It's only three little words, Severus. I know you do. You've always loved me. Just as much as I've always loved you." The cold breeze brushed his lips. Severus pulled them into his mouth. "You always say it so sweetly, and it's been such a long time. Just once? Tell me you love me?"

"NO!" Severus smashed his fist into the mirror. A deafening crash rang through it corridor; it was followed by a shower of glassy tinkles and the soft, choking sound of old sobs. Very dimly, he felt myriad painted eyes jerk open and blearily fix on him.

"PEEVES!"

Filch's roar stopped Snape from falling to his knees. Quietly, he scuttled away from the shards, from the portraits' silent stares of horror. His slippers slid on scattered drops of blood. Before either Argus or that goddamned cat could appear out of nowhere, he'd slipped around a corner and down a staircase and hidden behind a curtain with his face in his knees. He had to get to Albus. Albus would keep him safe from the Destroyer. A small voice said it wasn't real; Eversor was dead, this was all a side effect of the Unicorn Blood.

But it didn't absolve him of what he'd done to Harry.

All the Death Eaters are rapists.

So they were.

He couldn't face Albus, not with the taint settling over his skin like soot. The stomach-turning ferric stench of blood saturated the air around him. He couldn't work out where it had come from. It smelled wet, and brought a surge of bile and cherries to the back of his throat. Severus gagged, and very nearly emptied his stomach when a foul spurt of maraschino acid came out his nose. He wiped it from his face with the back of his hand. It burned. Salt on his cheeks itched.

Without quite knowing why, he pulled himself up and hurried down the steps. The dungeons were near, his dungeons, and the rooms in which he'd never, ever hurt his Harry. He was outside them, getting ready to open the door, before it struck him that they weren't his anymore. He hugged himself. There was no place left for him to go.

Suddenly, the door opened. "... And if you're good boys maybe tomorrow night you can have a walk outs--" Vector's coos were cut short by a yelp. "Oh, my god, hon! What happened?"

Severus felt himself being dragged into the antechamber. It looked wrong. New leather wingchairs stood where the sofa should have. An odd barking sound filled the air.

"William! Arthur! D'Oyly! Settle down!"

His hand was lifted. It stung a little.

"Severus..."

"Hello, Emily," he said thickly. It was rather an odd sanctuary, he realised distantly. He and Vector had been... different... since she'd learned about Harry. She'd not even stopped by his office to tease him in months. He glanced down, and had the impression of three small, white puffballs sniffing his robe and wagging their short tails madly. Oh, yes. That's right. She has dogs.

"Hon, we've got to get you cleaned up."

"Sorry?" he asked.

Round, grey eyes caught him. There was a bit of lint in Vector's hair. He picked it out, watching his hand, watching the way the silvery flecks of glass glittered in the torchlight.

Emily set her mouth at a funny angle. "You're sleeping on my couch tonight. Come on, let's get this sorted. D'Oyly, get down!"

One of the white puffballs whimpered, but dropped from where it had leaned against Severus' shin. They followed, tails frothing madly, as she dragged him into the bathroom.

"It's my fault," he murmured. "I didn't mean to do it."

She started the tap and held her hand under it for a moment. "Hand first, talk later."

He allowed her to take it; when the water turned red, it started to dawn on him that he was bleeding. Emily muttered under her breath, "Son of a bitch... kill the little..."

He watched quietly while she picked shards of glass from his knuckles, first with tweezers and then with her wand. The whole time she muttered angrily. "Tell Albus... violent little bastard... Azkaban's too good... never going to get away with this..."

"I'm sorry," Severus mumbled meekly. "I didn't mean to..."

"Hon, don't you dare say this was your fault. God, you're acting like some sort of battered housewife! Heel, Arthur. Good boy. Jesus Christ, Severus. If I can't fix this we'll have to go see Poppy."

"Harry didn't do anything wrong."

Emily narrowed her eyes. "Really."

Severus nodded. It took an awful lot of effort.

"You know I don't believe you."

"You ought to."

"Right. You show up at my door at eleven in the evening with half a mirror embedded in your hand and I'm supposed to believe there's nothing wrong." She squeezed his arm. A grim greyness grew beneath her skin. "Severus... honey... there's nothing left of you."

He tried to nod, but only succeeded in dropping his eyes. "I've been a bit poorly."

"We've got to get you away from him." She found a small towel and wrapped up his hand. What looked like a tin of Grandpa Claudius' Salve went into her pocket. "My god. My god, I'm so, so sorry I let this happen. I should have known something was... the way you were talking when..."

Severus found himself being led to his old green sofa, now in front of the fire. Emily babbled on, "Forgive me, hon. If I'd known... if I'd bothered to think--"

"Harry hasn't done anything."

She settled next to him and unwrapped his seeping hand. Deftly, she plucked her wand from her pocket again and murmured a basic suturing spell. It held well enough. At least, the blood slowed from dripping to oozing. She plucked out the tin as well and started rubbing some of the sweet-smelling goo into his knuckles.

"I don't understand what else could have turned you into a skeleton, hon. What's he doing, starving you?"

"It's not Harry." Severus stared dimly as the edges of his wounds pulled shut. "Emily..." he keened.

She put her arms around him. His head came to rest on her shoulder. "I'm not going anywhere, hon. Neither are you."

Eversor's voice came back to him, rich and deep and spreading over him like warm treacle. If you don't get better, we can be together again. "I don't want to die," he said firmly into her shoulder. "I don't - want - to die."

She hugged him. "I'm not going to let you. You're staying with me until we get that little monster out of this castle and into Az--"

"It wasn't Harry. It was me." His voice sounded thick in his ears, sluggish.

Emily held him out a little ways. She frowned. "What are you talking about? There's no way you could have--"

He grabbed her hand, squeezing it tightly. She froze with her lips formed in the shape of her next word. Silently, Severus pressed his mouth against their knuckles, her whole ones and his leaking ones. "Don't hate me."

"Why would I hate you? God, hon, you're nattering on like--like a Gryffindor or something. What - is - wrong?"

Severus set his mouth sadly. Without looking up, and in a voice so low he could barely hear it, he said, "I've got Unicorn Blood poisoning."

Silence. Emily's fingers twitched.

"Sorry," she whispered several moments later. "I thought I heard you say you've got..."

He nodded. He couldn't meet her eyes.

The fingers in his flinched and gently disentangled themselves from his grasp. He let them go with a chilly pang of loss. She cleared her throat quietly, hands in her lap. "Like Edmund," Emily said softly.

"Yes, like Quirrell. Before you say it, no, I haven't got anyone peering from back of my skull." His eyes flickered up briefly, hoping to catch a hint of a smile, but Emily only stared at him in shock and, perhaps, a little bit of fear.

"How long?" The skin around her eyes had creased and shadowed, pulling tight in a pained, calculating stare.

"Just over five months."

Emily frowned. "But... shouldn't you be a screaming wreck by now? I know everything I've read says six months tops to go off the deep--I mean, six months to..." she trailed off. She surreptitiously tried to scrub a few traces of drying blood from her hand with her robe.

"It's a bit more complicated than that."

"Uh-huh." She didn't seem to have quite gotten her head around the issue yet. "How...?"

"It was a potion. It was my own bloody fault."

"Did you have an accident? I didn't even know you've got any Unicorn Blood. I thought it was, you know, regulated."

"It is." He gave her a long, steady look.

The corners of her mouth twitched down, and her brow furrowed. "Oh." Suddenly, it must have dawned on her because her face stretched into surprise. "Oh! Oh. Oh, god, Severus, where in the name of--"

"Quirrell. You don't honestly believe I'd leave those carcasses to rot, do you?"

Her nose wrinkled. "Ew."

He sighed softly, feeling a bit more himself, and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "So, as I said--"

"So Potter's punishing you for having an accident with your ingredients, is that it?"

He growled. Pushing himself to his feet, Severus wrapped his arms around his chest and stormed for the door. A trio of puffballs yapped at his feet; he was hard pressed not to kick them.

A hand grabbed his arm before he could go too far. Emily stared up at him, eyebrows nearly vanishing in her ridiculous mop of curls. She leaned over the back of the sofa. "Is he?" she asked. "I only want to know because I'm worried about you, dammit."

"No," Severus growled, "he isn't." He tried to wrench his arm away, but even at the peak of health he'd not had a hope in Hell of overpowering Emily Vector.

"Then what's going on?"

"Let go of my arm and I might tell you."

They stared at each other for a hard moment. Finally, Vector dropped her gaze and loosened her fingers. Severus pulled his arm closer to his body and rubbed it, the pressure of her fingers lingering in the scant muscle.

"That's better," he snarled.

"So are you going to tell me?"

"Are you going to let me tell you?"

Vector's silence was enough.

Keeping his eyes locked on her, he strode to the other end of the couch, where he sat primly. His hands lay folded in his lap. Very quietly, eyes to the floor, he said, "I assume you remember when I was in hospital this year."

"Yes." Of course she would. They'd barely spoken since.

Severus licked his lips. An odd chill settled in his sunken belly at the thought of even saying what he was about to say, but if only to save his Harry's reputation - if not Harry's faith in the man he'd oh-so-misguidedly married - he had to. "I... died. Technically. Poppy has informed me that I was, ah, communing with the Bloody Baron for precisely one minute, forty-seven seconds, plus some intermittent moments afterwards." He gave it a moment to settle in.

"Oh, hon," Emily whispered. She scooted over and dropped her head on his shoulder. It wasn't as annoying as he'd have liked it to be. More out of some misguided need to comfort the deranged bint than anything else, he draped an arm around her. She sighed pitifully. "Why didn't you tell me when I came to see you?"

"I seem to recall you being more interested in berating me for pulling a student than in my physical state."

"Well, yeah, but... my god." She shook her head, making the unruly lot of lank, brown corkscrews wriggle like worms. "Merlin's teeth, Severus, you were dead!"

"Of this I am quite aware. May I finish?"

She nodded. Absently, she rubbed her nose on her sleeve. The three puffballs had settled on the floor in front of the couch and were staring in dim anticipation.

"I..." he trailed off, shifting slightly against the memory of... that. All of the Death Eaters are rapists. All of the Death Eaters are rapists. Enough, Severus! Get on with the story so you can go back ho-- He shivered. Have you even got a home to go back to anymore?

Swallowing, he tried again. "Several years ago, I had attempted to re-create a potion from the Late Roman occupation of East Anglia. Even a drunken little cow like you ought to know about the potions advances made during that era." Emily snorted, but said nothing, and Severus continued. "The original had proven to be faulty, but I thought I'd found a way to make Unicorn Blood safe."

"Bollocks."

"May I finish?"

Emily shrugged. "Was only saying you're talking bollocks."

"I'm aware of that, thank you very much. At the time, it seemed a bit more feasible. The rats I'd used to test the stuff lived a solid two years after I'd administered it. That's longer than my rats usually live, mind. One made it to three," he added a little wistfully. Three years with his Harry was an attractive prospect. Certainly better than the mere two months they would have had if Severus hadn't been administered his own lethal serum. "Anyway," he said, shaking his head a little to clear those thoughts, "I'd read about a possible treatment a long time ago and I thought I could reproduce it."

"Now you're really talking bollocks."

"I hope you're referring to my memory and not to the research in question. I happen to know that the inventor was a genius."

"Yeah, well, even geniuses can be wrong."

Severus started to open his mouth to snap. With a little pang of sadness, he closed it. "That doesn't mean they've not earned their reputations." Te fecisse scio, Avia. "I... suppose I'm not as clever as I'd thought. I'd made Poppy promise she wouldn't test it on anyone but me, and a situation arose in which she felt she had to use it."

Emily snorted. "You think?"

"She says I only died when she sent Harry away. You know what a sickening romantic she is. I have no reason to disbelieve her."

Vector was silent a moment. Severus glanced down to see her wide grey eyes narrowed in thought, her wide mouth set at a harsh angle. Ah. Yes. I did say something about being unsure as to how long I'd live once he'd gone, didn't I?

"Still doesn't explain how you ended up in my room with half a mirror in your fist," she finally muttered.

Severus closed his eyes a moment. "Please don't ask me that. Only, believe me that this was entirely my fault. I... fear I may have hurt Harry irredeemably."

She arched an eyebrow. "Do we need to get Poppy?"

He shook his head. "No. I fear this damage is significantly deeper than her quackery can reach." The despairing hollowness settled in his chest once again and he slumped against the back of the sofa. His arm slid from around Vector's shoulders and came to rest in his lap. Severus rubbed at the flakes of dried blood on his white-traced skin. Emily underestimated her skills at field mediwizardry - Severus couldn't have repaired soft tissue with such alacrity. In his nerves, though, in the places between his cells, he could feel the damage. Simply because something is shrouded doesn't mean it isn't there.

Severus had the vague sensation that Emily had gotten up. A minute later, she set a pillow and an extra blanket on the end of the couch. "You're staying here tonight," she said firmly, but softly.

He nodded commiseratively. He had no illusions that he would be welcome anywhere else.

       

The clock read three.

Severus lay awake.

Behind him, Emily snored softly in the bed he and Harry had once shared. Her low, slightly grating sounds meshed with the sighs and snorts of three somewhat insane bichon frises. Severus tried to block out the sound, block out the reality of his sleeping arrangements. Of course, it might have been easier had he mentioned that he needed a hefty dose of Draught of Living Death; on the other hand, he wouldn't have been able to feign sleep in order to get Emily to leave him be.

He'd spent the time thinking: about Harry, about what he'd done, about the invisible taint now covering his skin like grease that could never wash away. There was really only one thing for it, now. He'd made a bollocks of life. Perhaps other alternatives would prove more to his abilities.

Silently, he folded back the thick green blanket, sitting up and finding his slippers by the orange light of coals. His wand was on the mantel, and he remembered to slip it into his pocket before he left. He tiptoed to the sitting room door, glancing back only once with an edge of a frown. "Goodbye, Emily," he whispered, and left her chambers for the last time.

He didn't remember much of his trek out of the dungeons and into the main part of the castle. It didn't seem a terribly important thing to waste his time with at this particular juncture. Severus had the odd thought that Albus was going to kill him for this. His loss. I've no intentions of dying more than twice in my life. He reached his door. Biting his lip, still holding some weak hope that Harry might be awake to hear his apology, he opened the door.

Inside the warm inner chamber, Harry lay sleeping. The same look of utter peace that had enthralled Severus since the Easter holiday was painted over his face. Those pink lips were once again puckered in a heart, and the day's tension had washed away in sleep. Odd, really, that it could still be present even after what had happened.

He paused by the bed for a moment. In a burst of weakness, Severus ran his fingers over Harry's brow, his cheek, lifted them to his lips and kissed them only to press the kiss to Harry's. The heart-shaped lips pressed softly against them when he did; Severus turned away hurriedly, lest he lose his spine.

The Draught took only a minute to prepare. A skin of tension ran across the surface of the liquid as it domed over the top of the goblet. Severus bent down and drew a hefty mouthful to prevent spilling any of the precious liquid. Not even Unicorn Blood ought to be able to counteract this much, he thought resolutely. It did nothing to ease the chill in his belly, but the sense of clarity, of cool logic that permeated his brain, grew.

Tugging off his robe, he hung it neatly before picking up the goblet and carrying it to bed. He had the oddest feeling that he was dawdling as he pulled back the covers, settled in, spent a moment watching his Harry (who had turned to face his side of the bed the moment Severus slid into it). He didn't touch the soft, wild hair; that might have forced him to send the liquid down the sink. Severus yawned. He blinked in mild astonishment - perhaps that careful sip had taken a bit of a toll.

Casting a final, apologetic glance at his maritus, Severus lifted the goblet to his lips. "Goodbye, my love," he whispered just before he tasted the bitter substance. I shall miss you more than... He closed his eyes, content that the afterlife he'd chosen, his eternity with the Destroyer, might be scant penance for the damage he'd inflicted.

He'd only drunk perhaps half of the liquid when he felt an unparalleled weakness scream through his limbs. Too soon, far too soon for the Draught to overpower the Unicorn Blood entrenched in his brain, the goblet tilted in his grasp and he fell back against the pillow. Oh, bollocks! Why can't you be like anyone else and tip the excess down the sink? Severus mentally gritted his teeth. He felt cool liquid spread across the sheets, trickle down his lips to puddle on the pillow. Severus, despite himself, couldn't help but feel the softest thrill of relief. He pushed it away as well as his slowing neurons would allow.

He'd slipped into the disoriented dreams that always began before he was properly asleep when he felt the duvet cover his chilly shoulders, felt a soft kiss on his cheek. Harry, he thought dimly. For once, the night might be a pleasant one. The familiarity of the touch brought a sense of warmth, of comfort, of a strange anticipation to see the dawn drive away part of his dark little world. It banished some of the mysterious cold than had settled in his belly.

Cheeky little brat. You'll have to go back to your dormitory soon, Severus pondered hazily. Of course, someday you shan't be a student anymore and you'll be able to stay the night. But until then...

"I'm sorry," Harry whispered. "I love you."

Severus smiled in his dream. I see I shall have to assign detention tomorrow night as well, then, Mister Potter. Really, falling in love with your teacher. That ought to be punished. "Ten points from Gryffindor," he murmured softly, turning his face to bury it in a pillow that still smelled faintly of Harry.

 

 

 

Latin Lexicon For Latin Lovers

Te fecisse scio: I know you did


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