Fic: Coming Home - for [personal profile] torina_archelda

Dec. 26th, 2009 01:47 pm
snarryhols: (Snarry Hols (sambre))
[personal profile] snarryhols posting in [community profile] snarry_holidays
Title: Coming Home
Author: The Grinch that Didn't Steal Christmas
Giftee: [personal profile] torina_archelda
Word Count: ~20.900
Rating: PG
Pairing: SS/HP, GW/DM
Warnings: Post DH, EWE,
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: 2013: Severus Snape gets a job offer he cannot resist. For once Ginny gets what she wants. And Harry gets what he needs. Win-win for everyone.
Author's Notes: Dear [personal profile] torina_archelda: This is the first time I’ve participated in an exchange fest, my first Snarry ever, and my first attempt at a romantic story ever. - So many firsts! I admit I would have never done it if I didn’t have to fulfill the requirements of the assignment — and I am so very glad because I learned so much!

Dear [community profile] snarry_holidays mods: Thank you for organizing this fest, your support and your patience! Thank you so much to my betas l and uhm, l, for being fast, reliable and efficient! Danke schoen!



Chapter 04

December

“He should have never played,” whispered Ginny.

A day or two before the final confrontation with Russia — a merciless opponent — the coach had actually asked permission to withdraw Potter from the team and replace him with an unknown, Irish seeker.

When the team president consulted the sponsors, they refused. Too much money was at stake, and Potter had cost them already a lot. They insisted on him playing that night.

The Munich finals were important for many reasons. Many were wondering why Germany, a country famous for harsh winters, had been chosen for this World Cup. In fact, it gave a whole group of wizarding industries the opportunity to display a new technology: warming charms and spells interwoven in the supporting framework of the whole stadium. The new technology was supposed to be sold to the UK and the US, and what better way to advertise it than the Quidditch World Cup?

Potter had lost control of his broom, Ginny told him. During the whole game, he had been reacting too slowly or too rashly, losing his temper over insignificant things and overlooking the important ones. The Russian players had capitalized heavily on Potters erratic, confused performance.

He had almost missed the Snitch and then set off in a jerky, uncoordinated movement to follow it when he finally did see it, then flew much too close to the support beams. The Russian Seeker performed a manoevre and managed to get the Snitch out of Potter’s reach. Then the Russian flew straight up, yanking his broom up in a vertical movement and averted the support beam that Potter crashed into a split second later.

Most of the stadium construction was supposed to be secured so that players who flew at neck-breaking speed had a chance to survive collisions with them. It was an unfortunate coincidence that the charms on these particular beams had, unbeknownst to anyone, worn off. The theory supported by the German authorities was that the new warming spells had interfered with the cushioning spells, weakened them.

The broom crashed against the unprotected beam and spun madly against the railings, throwing Potter with brutal force against the walls for nearly 4 minutes. He had been going full speed — almost 150 km/h — and he would have been hurled from his broom if his right leg hadn’t been fastened to the broom - in that case he would have fell onto the lawn and suffered bruises and maybe some broken ribs.

Eventually, the broom dropped down from its height of almost 300 metres. Potter's limp body was connected to the broom only by his right ankle. His left leg was almost disconnected, and his head was more or less a bloody pulp, when the medics finally retrieved him.





For the first two weeks after the accident, Potter had been hospitalized in Germany, where the worst injuries had been taken care of. He was not recognizable at that point. The medics had to fly around the stadium and gather body parts and tissue. His legs and the shattered right arm was another matter. The team's medics insisted on transferring Potter back to England, and in the midst of December, in a heavy snowstorm, he was transported back in a floating carriage.

Ginny, who at that time was luckily still Mrs. Potter, insisted on Severus preparing the necessary potions for Potter. St. Mungo's was not only graceful enough to allow Severus to treat Potter, but they even granted him full access to the potion labs in their basement.

He realized, of course, that they were glad to be able to shift some of the responsibility to him. If Potter were not to survive — which he would very likely not — the ex-Death Eater could take at least part of the blame.

Potter's team called in two additional healers were called in: one specialized in bone reconstruction and the other one specialized in tissue reconnection.

Additional staff was hired to supply magic that could be channeled to heal Potter’s severe injuries. There was a hectic coming and going not only of healers and medics, but also of team members. The walls of the corridors were lined with drawn faces and the blue robes of the assistant healers who needed to rest after their magic had been exhausted.

The children were at the Burrow with Molly Weasley, but Molly had already asked when she could bring the children to visit. As long as Potter didn't even look remotely human, it was out of question; but after the first batch of healing potions and Skele-Gro, his body would at least look ... somehow ... recognizable.

Severus didn't need to give Potter the potions directly, and he was busy brewing, so Ginny administered Potter’s potions. She returned grateful, but pale, and helped him bottle the next batch of potions. They were for Potter's inner organs; his lungs had been perforated, and the stasis charm on them could be renewed only several times.

This time Severus had to be present. The two healers who were at Potter's bedside chanting spells nodded briefly when he and Ms. Weasley entered.

Severus had seen Potter when he was admitted to St. Mungo's, but somehow the shock of seeing the bloodied mess had disconnected him from the reality that this was really Potter.

Now he had been knitted together: His skin was mostly intact, and the worst bone injuries had been mended. There were still bruises and the internal injuries, but now ... it was clear that this was not just any victim of a gruesome accident.

This was Harry Potter.

What a joke. Potter didn't even want him, but here he was, old fool that he was, running to his bedside like some infatuated girl.

He shook his head and stood behind the healers, waiting until they had finished.

"We got a lot of work done today," the exhausted healer said. He wiped his sweating face on his sleeve and then gave a nod towards the potions. "Of course, if they don't do what they are supposed to do, he'll be nothing but a healthy vegetable."

To Severus surprise Ginny said hotly: "Severus Snape is the best in his field. The potions will work."

There was an awkward silence, and then the other healer bowed his head and stepped away from the bed. As Severus approached the bed, he saw that Potter’s eyes were only half closed. His eyeballs had rolled back, and only the white was visible. He was twitching a little, no doubt the healing spells were still connecting nerves and muscle and tissue. Half of his brain was mush though, thanks to that unprotected support beam.

Severus remembered the last time he had seen him, full of regret and offering his hand .. which he had refused to take.

And the countless times Severus had wished Potter would fail, and now his wish had come true, in the worst possible way.

Severus couldn't help it anymore. He reached out and touched Potter’s cheek and then immediately yanked his hand back when he remembered Ginny standing behind him.

"It's alright," she said softly. "I understand. He loves you too."

"Well, I don't." Severus snapped. "I was checking his temperature."

He broke the magic seal on the first potion, and it immediately started to hiss.

"I need your assistance now, Ms. Weasley," he said in a different tone. "Please hold his head back."

He poured the mud-colored potion into Potter’s mouth, then put the empty vial on the night stand. For a few seconds, nothing happened, and then Potter started to convulse.

"Help me hold him down." He could see her muscles strain while she was holding Potter down.

"What does it do?" she asked with a shaky voice.

"It will repair his lungs, his soft tissue, his tongue, and his respiratory tract."

"You mean he breathed that stuff in?"

He waved to one of the healers. "I need you to extract the blood from the lungs," he told him.

"Can't you do that?" asked Ginny.

"I could, but I am not allowed to," Severus said. "St. Mungo's is specific about what I am supposed to do and what not. Besides this gentleman is one of the best healers who ever graduated from Durmstrang, isn't that true, Herr Tillmann? The team knows how to treat their star Seeker."

The healer squared his shoulders and smiled almost shyly. He performed his spell without saying it, but touched Potters chest with his wand.

Potter arched and coughed up clotted blood and some yellowish slime. Tillmann sucked the rest of the blood out with a little tube and wiped the corners of his mouth.

"That's it?" Ginny asked.

"More or less."

Potter went slack in their arms, but his breathing was less mechanical.

"He is breathing on his own now," said the healer. A soft shimmer enveloped Potter. "It's cleansed air for the next 12 hours. He won't need it by tomorrow."

"Next step, then. Come now, Ms. Weasley. Please hold his head — carefully." Severus carefully unsealed the second bottle. "Gospodin Feric, please if you could assist us now?"

The other healer, who had been lying down on a bed in the corner of the room, advanced.

"You know my name?" he asked in a thick eastern european accent.

"Your late Headmaster Karkaroff was always very fond of you," said Severus. "He always knew that you would become a great man."

The other healer moved to Potter’s side and pressed his wand against his temple.

"Not the forehead, Herr Kollege?" Tillmann asked, fascinated. Feric just shook his head. He had deep purple circles under his eyes but was calm and concentrated. "How unconventional," breathed the German.

"Not with these head injuries. Some of his brain tissue is still in Munich," Feric mumbled. He cast tempus, then announced the exact time: "It is 06:15 pm."

He waited for Severus' sign. This time Severus poured the potion into Potter’s nose. Ginny tilted his head. They watched for some minutes.

After what felt like an eternity to Severus, he finally felt the little spark of magic where the potion was supposed to connect with Potter’s tissue.

He said, "Now."

Feric immediately started chanting in a low, growling voice, closing his eyes, rocking back and forth. Severus didn't understand the words, but he recognized the language from his studies.

Macedonian.

He had always held a keen, academic interest, especially in the Dark Arts; but for the first time in his life, he was not at all interested in the spell itself — even if it was Dark Magic — that was bringing someone back from the brink of death.

Tonight he could not think of anyone and anything else than Harry Potter.

This time, the healing took one hour. Eventually, a black and red cloud swirled around them and settled on Potter. Ms. Weasley had her eyes tightly shut and was shaking.

After twenty more minutes, Feric stopped his chanting.

The silence was deafening. Ginny was still holding her husband’s head. Feric's colleague Tillmann leviated a chair behind him, and not a second too early, as Feric sank limply into it, his eyes still closed.

Severus kept his gaze on Potter's face, on the sliver of white between the eyelids.

"This will take the whole night," said Feric hoarsely. "We'll know by tomorrow 7 o'clock if we succeeded."

Severus nodded dully, with a strange, dead stare. His eyes were blacker than the darkest night.

"What do you mean by that?" asked Ginny.

"If the potion and the spell reached his brain injuries and healed them, Potter will recover within a night. Until seven o'clock to be precise," Severus said without inflexion. "If not, he will remain unconscious. Forever."

"You can administer the third potion," Feric said.

"The third potion?" asked Ms. Weasley, eyeing the innocuous looking vial on the nightstand.

Severus looked at her.

She closed her eyes in sudden understanding and breathed in.

"The Brother of Sleep," she whispered.

Feric and Tillmann looked at her.

"It's your decision," Severus said. "He is your husband."

"He would not want to live like this." Her voice was strangled. "Right?"

Then she opened her eyes and smiled: "He won't need it. He is strong. He survived Voldemort. Twice. He won't be killed by a stupid Quidditch accident."

Tillman helped his exhausted colleague up. "We will be at your call, Mr. Snape. It is an honor to be working with you."

Feric looked at Potter and then Severus. "May we succeed," he said softly.

They left the room.

Ginny, too, went to the door.

"Where are you going?" asked Severus.

"I'll be in the next room. My family is here. I need to be with them. You ... you stay with him," she said, without turning around.

"Ms. Weasley ... there has been a misunderstanding," he said hastily before she could leave the room.

She turned around, her eyebrow raised and a light smirk on her lips. Something about her look made him shut his mouth.

"You know, Mr. Snape, as long as he thought you were dead, he sincerely mourned you. For a long time he was inconsolable. Only when the children were born, he tore himself away from the memory of you. And when you returned to England — very much alive — he was in such a state. He was beside himself for days with relief and fury and happiness and anger.

"I know my ex-husband, Mr. Snape. I know him better than he knows himself." She paused, rubbing her temples. "He never forgave me for that, you know."

She smiled at him.

"I never truly had a hold on his heart. But in one way or the other, you have a hold on his heart. If anyone can bring him back to life, it's going to be you."

And with these words she left.

He was alone with Potter.

He sat down in the chair Feric had occupied briefly and took Potter's hand.

Potter was not lying still. He twitched as the spells and the potions worked on his brain and his body.

Severus knew better than to take this as a sign of recovery — it was just nerves reacting to the potion - but every time Potter seemed to shift, every time his eyes moved behind the lids, his head snapped up, and he held his breath.

They would know in the morning. Within seven hours, the work of the potion and the spell would be done. If Potter had not awoken by then, he would never wake up.

Never.

Strange, how a single word could fill Severus with so much terror and hopelessness. The thing in his chest clenched.

I have a heart after all, he thought with bitterness.

He had hoped he could sleep a little, but his thoughts and memories kept him from falling asleep.

Potter as an eleven-year-old boy, looking at him in the Great Hall, clutching at his forehead.

Potter stupefying him in the Shrieking Shack.

Potter at Spinners End, holding out his hand for him.

One memory after the other came back to him. At some point during the night, he realized he was talking to Potter. He stopped as soon as he realized, horrified about his lack of self-control. Then he remembered that speaking apparently helped coma patients to recover. Potter's magical coma was not exactly the same as a Muggle coma, but it couldn't do any harm, could it? And if Potter should for some miraculous reason hear him speaking consciously and remember, he still could deny it. He peered around to see if he was really alone in the room and cast a heavy silencing charm.

"So, there," he said, looking at Potter's pale face.

"What would I get if I would add powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?" he asked.

There was no reaction.

"Of course. You never could be bothered with learning. If I remember correctly your own son expressed his disbelief when he saw you with a book in your hands."

He bent closer to Potter and laid his hands on the bed.

"Mrs. Weasley is bringing your children. Do you really want to see them in this state?" He smirked. "Hermione and her Weasley husband are already here. I am sure they are wondering why Severus Snape is the only one allowed in your room."

Severus had never talked so much in his life. He talked about his dislike of milk, cats, dogs, and canaries. He told Potter that he had arachnophobia and that he liked cooked beef with parsley. He informed Potter that Quidditch was a sport for idiots and that no intelligent person played Quidditch. He spent an hour insulting every single Gryffindor, from Dumbledore to Sirius Black, hoping that the insult would rise Potter.

The hours went by. Behind the opaque windows the darkness faded into a cold blue. Soon the sun would be rising. Panic gripped his heart.

"So I would have been your pity fuck?" he said suddenly in an angry tone. He thought of other insults that would have driven Potter over the edge were he awake. "You arrogant, pathetic excuse of a Gryffindor.

"Thinking of joining that mutt of a godfather, aren't you?" he hissed.

When the sun finally rose, Potter had stopped twitching. He was lying there peacefully.

"The Brother of Sleep, Potter?" Severus finally asked his still form. "Is that what you want? Going over and never having to wake up?"

At seven o'clock the door opened and the two healers, accompanied by several other healers and nurses, came in. Severus snatched his hand away from Potter’s.

Feric and Tillmann didn't speak. One of them held a wand over Potter and then shook his head. It was the German.

"I cannot detect any sign of brain activity."

One of the healers spoke up: "Do we have the consent of Mrs. Potter to administer the Brother of Sleep draught?"

Feric and Tillman confirmed with a nod.

"Not. Yet," said Severus with clenched teeth.

The healers consulted with each other, and the nurses replaced the pure oxygen charm and left again.

After a while, the room slowly filled with friends and family. None of them spoke. Once Severus looked up and he saw Minerva, red eyes and her lips pressed into a thin white line. Hermione and Ron, both of them with glazed eyes, but silent, were beside her. Molly and Arthur Weasley and Fred, a pale Draco Malfoy, holding Ms. Weasley's hand, Luna Lovegood, Neville Longbottom, who had become a thin, tall man with soft brown eyes, and his wife Hannah, and finally, even the minister, Kingsley Shacklebolt.

"You are a conceited, vain bastard just like your father," he whispered harshly into Potter's ear. Insulting Potter's father always had held the best results in the past. "Do you hear me? Like father, like son. Always going for the easy way, lazy and complacent.

"You don't have the right to. I won't let you off the hook that easily."

Someone laid an arm on his shoulder. Tillmann.

"Mr. Snape," the gentle voice said.

Severus shook his head. "No," he said.

"It's time for the Brother of Sleep."

"Not yet."

"He must not suffer."

"Let him go in peace," someone else whispered. The healer put his hand on Severus’ shoulder.

"It's nine o'clock, Mr. Snape. By now the patient is beyond any ..."

"NO," roared Severus and swiped the bottle from the table. It rolled away from the bed towards Feric, who picked it up with a sad, solemn face.

He could see Hannah Longbottom covering her mouth with her hand, her eyes full of tears. Someone gasped.

Severus took Potter into his arms. He didn't care anymore who saw him. It didn't matter.

"Damn you," he whispered. "If you think you can sneak away like that, you will be sorely disappointed."

His vision was blurry, and he realized he was crying. His tears were falling on Potter’s half-closed eyelids and on his cheeks.

Someone tugged at his arm.

"It's time," Feric said, gently. He had witnessed these scenes a thousand times already and knew what to do. Slowly and carefully he had uncorked the vial.

Severus shook his head stubbornly and held firmly on to Harry, cradling his head.

"Harry, please," he whispered. "Please. I was so angry and I wanted you to make a mistake, to fail to win that cup. This accident was entirely myfault, do you understand?"

Finally his voice broke and he said nothing anymore. Feric was still standing beside him, but did not dare to touch him.

Then after a while another voice whispered.

"Snape?"

Severus heart skipped a beat. He looked around, confused.

He felt fingers on his arm.

"Snape? ... Are you holding me? ... In your arms?"

Amazed he looked down into green eyes that regarded him sleepily.

"Harry."

"That's my name."

Yet again, Harry Potter rendered him simply speechless. All he could do was to stare into Harry's face.

And then, after a moment's shocked silence, suddenly everybody was around them, crying, laughing, embracing Harry, each other, even embracing Snape who still sat there, numbly, still holding Harry in his arms.

Hermione and Ron flung their arms around both of them. And Harry smiled only at him, with his wide, impish grin as if he had not teetered along the brink of death mere minutes ago. When Severus attempted to let him go, Harry simply held on to him.

Feric and Tillmann examined him and were beside themselves congratulating each other and clapping Severus repeatedly on the shoulder. Harry was almost completely healed; only his knees would take some more days.

After half an hour, the nurses came and cleared the room. The last remaining were Ginny and Draco, who was standing in a safe distance.

"Do you want to see the children?" asked Ginny.

"That would be great." Harry beamed at her. He was still clutching Severus’ hand.

"Good. I'll go and get them." Before she could leave, Harry took hold of her hand.

"Ginny," he said, "I'll sign the papers, OK? First thing in the morning."

She looked at him with disbelief. "Who are you, and what did you do with Harry Potter?"

Harry squeezed her hand and whispered. "It would be nice if you wouldn't drop your name. Ginny Weasley-Malfoy is still better than Ginny Malfoy."

Ginny snorted.

"Draco?" called Harry, his voice hoarse from several weeks of not using it. Reluctantly, Draco Malfoy emerged from the shadows.

"Thank you for coming here today with Ginny," he said. "I hope you two will be very happy together."

Draco nodded. "Congratulations to your recovery. Please get better soon ... Harry."

After they had left, Harry turned to Severus, who hadn't said a single word since Harry had woken up. He still seemed to be in shock.

"Are you alright, Severus?" Harry whispered.

Severus smirked. "I am not the one who lost half his brain in a Quidditch stadium in Munich."

"Can we not discuss medical details in romantic moments?" Harry frowned.

"So, this is a romantic moment? And since when have you learned the art of quipping?"

"Since I realized I am not afraid of you anymore." Harry reached up and kissed his nose. "I am in love."

"Don't be disgusting."

"Don't be afraid."

Severus could only stare at him.

"Now, Severus." Harry sobered up. Without hesitation he pulled Severus towards him. "I want to kiss and harass you sexually."

Severus leaned towards Potter.

"Dad!" James and Sev were at the door.

Severus straightened himself. Potter smiled and spread his arms to embrace his children who approached the bed.

"Are you going to kiss him again?" asked Sev.

"It's hard not to," said Severus.

Potter looked at the door, where Lils was standing. After a moment, she ran to Potter and flew into his outstretched arms and he hugged and rocked her. "Oh, my little star," he murmured into her hair.

Lils looked at Severus. "You can kiss him, Dad," she said. "You like him like Draco likes Mum. And they kiss all the time."

James made a gagging sound.

"Will you be with us for Christmas?" asked Sev.

"Yes, of course he will," answered Potter. He took Severus’ hand in his.

Severus pressed his hand and did not let go.

~fin

A/N: The name of the euthanasia potion "Brother Of Sleep" is taken from the novel "Brother of Sleep" by R. Schneider.

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