Chapter Four - The Journal
The stack of books hit Madam Pince’s desk. Harry groaned. “Come, now, you’re doing well. Separate these by section and then we’ll see how you do finding them homes.”
He couldn’t complain. He was too tired. He couldn’t even sneeze anymore. Harry muttered under his breath as he sorted, “History… fiction… fiction… home economics… Muggle sciences…” Breakfast felt like ancient history. Halfway through the stack, Harry pulled out his watch and glared at it. It was still an hour and a half before lunch. “You’d better appreciate this, Sev,” he muttered. God, the things he did for that man.
“You’ll have to move faster than that if you want to get anywhere here, Mister Potter.” He jumped. That woman moved like a cat; Professor McGonagall could have taken lessons.
“Sorry, Madam Pince.”
“Sorry, Irma,” he sighed. Scowling, he stuck the watch back in his pocket. Come lunchtime, he and Sev were going to have some words. “Ancient runes… potions… potions… advanced potions… bloody useless… boring… wouldn’t use it to wipe my arse…”
When he’d finally gotten the fifty or so books sorted and Mad- Irma checked his categories (making a few minor corrections with a “tsk”) she followed him like a hawk while he shelved. “Brilliant work, Harry. We’ll have you working the restricted section by start of term!”
“Thanks,” he murmured. Secretly, he wondered what would happen if he released the restricted Care of Magical Creatures books and if the ensuing chaos would be enough to let him go to lunch early. It probably wasn’t really that bad a job if he thought about it. A lot of these books looked interesting, and he didn’t have to read anything he didn’t want to. He’d been in a foul mood since Severus cast that icing charm on the bed to get him up, though. Harry shoved another book on the shelf. Irma made an approving noise.
It was nearly lunchtime when he’d filed those and more to her standards. Sensing his sudden interest in a battered copy of Fahrenheit 451 she let him go a few minutes early. “When you get back, we’ll make a start on periodicals.”
“Oh. Excellent.” Snape was a dead man.
The corpse in question was nowhere to be seen in the lunchroom. “How are you getting on in the library?” Dumbledore asked genially as Harry loaded up his plate with chips.
“Okay, I guess.” He couldn’t even convince himself.
“Give it time. You’ll do a wonderful job.”
“I don’t know. Are you sure I can’t take mediwizard training?”
Dumbledore pushed him a small plate with an enormous piece of raspberry pie. “Even if you did, Harry, there’s no way you could finish before term begins. Give yourself a chance to get settled in where you are, and if you’re still unhappy we’ll see what we can do.”
“Thanks, sir.” Harry glopped beans all over his chips and started shoveling as much food as possible into his mouth. Every few minutes he checked his watch. Twenty minutes later his worry peaked. “You haven’t seen—?”
“I’m afraid not. Minerva? Did you see Severus on the way here?” McGonagall seated herself.
“Neither hair nor hide, Albus. Why?”
“I was going to surprise him.” Harry slumped in his chair.
McGonagall raised her eyebrows. “He hasn’t been in for lunch that I’ve seen in weeks, Harry.”
He frowned. Normally, he had lunch in Hagrid’s hut – even working in the library wasn’t going to change that. He’d just assumed that Sev was eating with the other teachers. He looked at the watch again. Irma expected him in a little over half an hour. Quickly, he stuffed the last of his pie in his mouth and grabbed another piece for Sev. Harry tried to say “See you later,” but it came out more like “Heeyu ‘ayer”.
“Good luck this afternoon!” Dumbledore grinned impishly. McGonagall nodded; he wasn’t the only one with a full mouth.
Harry set out on his Snape hunt with a head full of questions. Sev’s office was deserted, which only added more. That was where he did all of his research. Maybe he’d popped up to the library for more materials. Irma’s face lit up when Harry poked his head in. “Well! Eager to get back to work?”
“Have you seen Professor Snape?” Her face fell. He ignored it.
“Sorry, Harry, not since breakfast. If you can’t find him I could use some help cataloguing—“
“I’ll see you at one, Irma.” She muttered something suspiciously like a hex as the door closed. The only other place Harry could think to check was their suite. “You’d better be getting a nap, Sev,” he muttered under his breath. He ran as quickly as he dared, robes flapping. It was getting closer to one than he liked to think. Harry pushed open the door. “Sev?”
No answer. Harry spotted a haphazard pile of robes on the desk and chair. It took him a moment to realize the pile was breathing. For the first time he’d ever seen it, Severus was sleeping peacefully. He scowled, and the quill in his hand twitched occasionally, but there were no screams, no writhes, no curses muttered at horrors long past. Harry touched his hair. Sev stirred and he jerked his hand away. On the desk was an empty goblet. There were traces of an algae-blue liquid at the bottom. It looked suspiciously like Draught of Living Death. He held the goblet, puzzled – if it really was the Draught there was no way Sev should be moving. Still, just the fact that he was finally asleep was enough to bring a faint smile to Harry’s lips. The plate he carried joined the goblet. Carefully, he gathered the shuddering body in his arms. “Mm… who…”
“Just me, Sev. Go back to sleep.” Maybe he’d only had a partial dose. Yes, that must be it. Harry managed to get his shoes and robe off, but left his boxers. There was a bit too much temptation to, ahem, give him pleasant dreams. Harry giggled at the irony when he saw which ones they were. A Risk With Every Mouthful. They were starting to get a little worn – it might be time to ask Professor McGonagall where she found them. Harry arranged the pillow under his head and Sev automatically turned to face Harry’s side of the bed. He stroked that dense, oily black hair. With a gentle kiss on his temple, Harry tucked the thick duvet around his body. He nearly vanished under the heavy cover.
Harry’s first instinct was to tiptoe out and let him rest. That mysterious sticky book was on the desk, though, and open. It might have something about the Death Eaters. He only hated himself a bit when he took his hand off the doorknob.
There was a large inkblot on the upper left-hand corner where Severus had fallen asleep holding the quill. It was almost like he hadn’t expected the potion to have an effect. “Oh, Sev… why didn’t you show me?” The blot bled into a sketch. It was angular, like his handwriting, but in its sharp lines and unfinished curves Harry half-expected the unicorn to look up at him and run away. It was a strange thing for the greasy Potions master to draw. He felt like he should know why, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. As silently as he could, Harry flipped back through the book. There were a few more sketches: more unicorns, Voldemort captured in chilling mid-curse, Harry sleeping with his lips puckered into a heart. Sharp, neat handwriting filled almost every page.
7 July, 1998. It burns. Oh, gods and demons, it burns. Sometimes I think I’ve set my soul on fire, if I have any kind of soul left. My work isn’t going as quickly as I’d hoped. I know I’m on the right path, have been since I created the stuff, but what doesn’t fit? Poppy told me today that she can’t do anything else until it progresses. I’ve asked her to destroy the entire supply, but I’ve kept a small vial in my personal stores. Just like me to cling to something unholy. I’m starting to have trouble getting to sleep. Tonight I just sat there for an hour, watching Harry. Albus once told me that my eyes are dark tunnels; Harry must be the proverbial light at the end. I can’t keep him. I can’t live this “half-life” I’ve damned myself to knowing he’ll suffer just as much watching me turn into… something. But how do I push away the only reason I have anymore to want even half a life? Damn you, Eversor. And damn you, Lucius.
Harry blinked. Nausea filled his gut and tried to bubble up his throat. He looked from the book to the sleeping lump on the bed. Sev whimpered. Quickly, Harry turned the pages back to the unicorn. His eyes strayed over the scant text on the opposite page.
31 July, 1998. Thank you.
1 August, 1998. Oh, my god, what have I done to him?
There was no entry for August second; the third, too, was blank but it was only halfway through the day. He stared at the words and tasted bile.
Harry left the desk as he’d found it, save the pie, and hurried out of the room. He looked back at Sev. The thin body was still again, face hidden in a stripy mess of hair. He locked the door and almost ran to the library. Something he couldn’t reach nagged at the back of his mind. He needed to talk to Madam Pomfrey, but what was he supposed to say? I was reading Sev’s private journal behind his back and it said that he’d damned himself. What do I do? He prayed to gods he wasn’t sure existed that the monotony of the afternoon would let him think.
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