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December 1st, 2006

Harry Potter Fandom @ 02:41 am

wee_little_me:
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Title: The Cinderman's Kiss
Author: Spirit, ie coeur_de_ma_vie
Rating:
R
Parings: Harry/Snape
Genres: general
Warnings: HBP Spoilers. Though if you haven't read HBP yet, shame on you!
Word Count: Chapter 1: 3691. All chapters are about this long.
Status: incomplete
Summary: For as long as he lived Harry was never going to forget the sight of those black eyes in pain.
The light hit Snape from the side and then it seemed to cover him as he turned in it to face the boy he had protected so many times before. And it looked like he was melting...

Review: This is more of an intellectual piece. The author mentions a lot of medical procedures and goes into some rather gory details of the medical/biological nature. It is all very tastefully and artfully written, and generally makes for a very pleasant read.

Chapter 1
All Chapters

With his own two eyes, Harry Potter had seen Severus Snape die.

After sixth year, Harry had spent a year in training, learning first the discipline of the Aurors and then the skills of the Healers. He thought he needed those two sets of skills in order to reach his goal; finding and destroying the horcruxes. For another year after that, his life had been devoted to the total destruction of Voldemort. The horcruxes had been no picnic to track down and each one he destroyed almost took a piece of him right along with it.

The day he faced Voldemort he had been two weeks shy of his nineteenth birthday.

It was easy to remember information like that because he had been so damned sure he was going to die that he had even started seeing flashes of his funeral in the back of his mind. One hex after another flew by him and always it seemed that it was the Cruciatus Curse that never missed. He had never screamed so much in his entire life. It had all been a sport to Voldemort of course. The bugger didn't know that Harry had come to him only after he made sure that the only horcrux left was the one that Voldemort was so actively using. So they fought in a relatively large circle while the Death Eaters watched.

Then Voldemort had gotten bored with his little game. While Harry laid writhing in agony Voldemort had laughed and then shouted a curse Harry had never heard about in his life. It had sounded demonic and it was. Only Harry hadn't felt it, because just when he thought the prophecy was going to be fulfilled in Voldemort's favour, Severus Snape jumped in front of him and shielded him from the angry stream of burgundy light.

For as long as he lived Harry was never going to forget the sight of those black eyes in pain.

The light hit Snape from the side and then it seemed to cover him as he turned in it to face the boy he had protected so many times before. And it looked like he was melting. Harry didn't even realize that the screams he heard were his own. When he could move again, when he remembered why he was there and why Snape had sacrificed himself like that, he gathered all the love and all the regret and all the guilt he had been carrying around his whole life. He crawled out of the arch that Snape's body had made above him with tears he could no longer hide and somehow he managed to focus his wand through the pounding in his head.

Voldemort's body exploded and his soul, suspended in the air for a second, seemed to crumble like ashes.

The Death Eaters began to scream after that. All collapsed to the ground, clutching their left arm. They formed an ocean of black hooded figures across the mountainside. The first person Harry thought was Snape turned out not to be. He had wanted to carry what was left of Snape to the Healers at St. Mungo's but no matter how he shouted the man's name or searched for him, the screams around him were just a choir of voices that masked the one voice he wanted to hear.

He Apparated away that night, certain that Severus Snape was dead.

Harry enrolled in a Muggle University in London soon after, where he proceeded to try and find some sort of normalcy in his life. For months he wanted nothing to do with magic. Instead he found comfort in the arms of women who knew nothing about his former life. After Ginny there was just a string of nameless faces. While he found the anonymity he craved, something was still missing.

Then Harry met Nathan and for a while he thought that he had finally found the missing links in his life. Nathan turned out to not be so perfect, but at least when Harry finally walked out on his cheating arse, he left with the epiphany that, yes, he was gay and that was what women could not provide for him. A string of nameless men followed. It took a night of tears after another meaningless encounter and a therapist to finally make him understand that he was not alone in the world and he hadn't really killed everyone in his life who truly cared about him.

The two years that followed were a whirlwind of mending relationships with Hermione and the Weasleys, who had never left him. It was a time to rediscover his magic too and to begin to seriously training in a career that held a promise of salvation for him. Not everyone could be a Healer but Harry was determined to become one. He knew that he could do far more than the first aid he’d been taught upon leaving school. He made friends in the Muggle world and changed his University major from Undecided to Psychology. He had to spend countless hours catching up, but it was time well spent, in Harry’s opinion.

On that particular day in December, when Harry stepped off the bus that had taken him from his University's campus to the stop nearest his home, Harry's mind had been a little preoccupied even as he searched for an appropriate place to Apparate.

The winter evening was dark, with only just enough moonlight to see for the short distance it took to walk from one streetlight to the next. The few stubborn representatives of London's begging population took to huddling beneath the glare of the lamps in hopes of being granted even a small bit of heat. Such heat, of course, was only wishful thinking. Whenever Harry passed such a group he fiddled with the wand in his pocket and softly murmured a warming spell. It was the least he could do, although he greatly wanted to do more. The spells would only last the one night and come morning the people would return to the surprising cold of this London winter.

Harry didn't see the figure huddled in the shadows because he had just spotted another shivering group on the path ahead and he had been readying his wand to cast the spell.

He pitched forward over the lump, and went sprawling upon the pavement, barely missing the mountain of snow that had piled up on the roadside. It took a second for him to make sure that he only had a few bruises from the fall because his winter attire had padded his landing. It took another second for him to remember that he had tripped over something.

"Are you alright?"

The something turned out to be someone, but the someone wasn't moving. Harry could just make out the black hooded cloak that was draped over the still figure. He was lying on his right side in an awkward manner as if Harry's clumsiness had jarred his unconscious form into the position.

"Are you alive?" Harry asked, softer this time. His breath escaped in a cloud of smoke that did nothing to appease the fear he felt.

First things first; he checked for a pulse. Grabbing the limp hand, he pushed back the sleeve of the cloak and searched until he found the beacon of life pounding beneath the thin layer of flesh. As soon as he found a pulse, Harry sighed in relief.

"Well, you're not dead yet but you won't last another night out here."

It made sense to try and soothe the man - it was a man, judging by the shape of the hand he held- and Harry had to silently admit that it helped him too, as if with his words he could indeed keep the man alive. Using both hands he clasped the cold fingers between his palms wondering if maybe with a little heat the man would wake. When that didn't work he took out his wand. What he needed was some light. If he could make sure that the man wasn't injured in any other way then he could try the warming spell on him.

"Lumos."

The light of his wand flickered on, just as the fingers he held twitched in his palm. Harry almost dropped his wand in surprise, but he recovered quickly enough. He swept the light over the hand he held, just to make sure that he hadn't imagined the movement. Long, pale fingers were illuminated. The nails were still yellowed and in desperate need of a good clipping. The fingers were definitely skeletal from lack of proper nutrition, but Harry had seen the hand stir enough potions to recognize the fingers. The realization came to him with a sudden intensity that had him blinking in surprise.

Harry took a deep breath, knowing what he had to do to make sure, yet not wanting to see that face again if he could help it. He remembered the last time he had looked upon Snape's face. He still had nightmares sometimes from that scene alone.

"If you are who I think you are, this is going to be unpleasant for both of us." He was rambling aloud into the night again but Harry honestly felt that he needed something to brace himself. "You and I both know that you are in no position to argue so try not to. I won't hurt you. I just need to make sure that you're you."

Harry swung the light up towards where he assumed a face should be. In that split second he found himself hoping that he was wrong and the professor he had known had not been reduced to this. Besides, he really was dreading seeing that face again. He was desperately praying that it was Snape, because if it wasn't Snape then it could be any of the Death Eaters who may have escaped and he honestly hadn't thought of that before.

Of course, one look and he would have recognized that nose anywhere. He would have recognized the dark eye that stared so intently at him also. There didn't seem to be anything wrong with the left side of the familiar face, for which Harry was intensely grateful. At least he could recognize the man. Malnourished or not, Snape was Snape.

"If I turn you over, I'm going to get a nasty surprise aren't I?" Harry spoke ruefully, but not without sympathy.

The eye blinked but didn't shift away. Then slowly, very slowly as if it hurt just to move, Snape nodded. That left Harry with a dilemma. He could face his fears head on, pull on the Gryffindor courage he was so revered for and take the man home with him, or he could back away from the fallen wizard and leave it up to the authorities to realize that there was one ex-Death Eater who wasn't as dead as everyone thought he was.

"I owe you so damn much Professor. I can't just repay all that you've done for me by leaving you to die on some Muggle pavement," Harry finally said softly. "I guess that means that I'm taking you home with me. You'll need a good meal, a good bath and a good Healer."

Snape pulled his fingers away from Harry's hand and turned his head away, letting the cloth of the cloak hide what little part of his face Harry had been conversing with. Harry realized that it was as much of a "Go away and leave me the hell alone Potter. I don't need your pity" as he was going to get. Harry had made up his mind, and would not be dissuaded so easily. The man looked light enough to be carried and Harry was just about ready to resort to that if he had to.

"Forgive me professor. I'm sure that when you feel up to it you'll curse me back to Hogsmeade the first chance you get. As I said, I'm not leaving you here to die." It was the only warning he gave before he abruptly pulled the wizard into his arms and Apparated with him.

They landed on Harry's lawn in a tangle. It wasn't Harry's best Apparition but as he had managed not to splinch either of them, he couldn't feel too bad about the fact that he missed his target by a few feet. He’d intended to land directly in front of the front door. Since they’d landed on the lawn, there was nothing to do but to walk the short distance up the three steps and onto the veranda.

"Professor?" Harry looked over at the figure that hadn't moved when he stood to brush himself off. "Oh blimey, you're not unconscious again are you?"

The silence that greeted the question was enough of an answer to the mild accusation.

Harry stooped to grasp one cloth covered arm, which he swung over his shoulder. He tugged the body until the professor was in a sitting position with his head lolling forward. Harry had to contemplate what to do next. Surely he couldn't pull the man like that across the lawn and up the steps. He couldn't exactly carry him in a full body haul; he would need to get to his keys once he reached the door. When the solution hit him Harry spent a good minute laughing at his own stupidity. One whole year without magic had obviously rendered him stupid and even the two years following had done nothing to help make him any less oblivious.

Pulling out his wand, still chuckling at his lack of intelligence, Harry levitated Snape.

Once safely inside, the first thing Harry did was to gently lay Snape on the bed in the guest room. Then he was able to cast the warming spell he’d initially intended to. The next thing he had to do was to strip Snape of the black cloak. The snow and cold would have seeped through long ago. The man was blue with cold, likely the result of incipient hypothermia. Also, Harry knew that he still needed to check Snape for internal injuries.

Harry braced himself. He didn't honestly breathe as he worked on removing first the cloak then the smalls that covered Snape's body. He didn't allow himself to register anything that he saw as he turned Snape this way and that to get at the clothes. It was only when Snape laid naked on Harry's brown cotton sheet that he allowed himself to face the reality of what he was seeing.

Where there should have been smooth pale skin there was only the patch and wrinkle of a body that was badly burned and had healed only from time passing. Harry could see that no magical healing had been done at all.

It began on the right side of Snape's face. Almost at the exact centre of his forehead, the skin had melted. Along the high cheekbone, across to erase the eyebrow and to meld the eyelid shut, upon what should have been smooth expanses of a cheek it somehow missed the infamous nose and lips.

Somehow beneath the curtain of black hair, it had destroyed the ear, spread along the column of Snape's neck and down the right side of his chest. The right arm and shoulder were unrecognizable. The fingers looked separate but seemed useless.

Tapering down just as the ribs beneath it tapered, the burn mark disappeared, only to re-emerge just above the knees of both legs. From that point downwards everything was burned, even the tip of his toes. When Harry gently turned Snape over, there was not a patch of skin on Snape's back that had not been scarred. In fact the only expanse of skin that had escaped was the left side of Snape's face and his left arm and chest. It was as if the Dark Mark that no longer burned there had indirectly protected the arm from damage.

Harry allowed five minutes of absolute guilt and pity to envelope his body. He didn't try to stop the continuous wave of shivers that ran down his back and shook him all the way down to his bones. It was a normal human reaction and Harry allowed himself to feel it, so he could put it behind him and get on with the process of healing this man he owed so much to. Somehow Snape seemed so much more courageous when Harry thought about all he must have endured.

The moment ended when Snape began to shake.

It began so suddenly that it caught Harry off-guard. Within a minute the seizure had built to a full body spasm that at times jerked Snape almost entirely into the air. Harry pulled out his wand again and was just about to cast the petrifying spell when he changed his mind and decided that what was best was to allow the body to ride out the reaction.

Instead he left the shaking form to draw up a warm bath quickly.

Grabbing potions seemingly at random, he dumped them into the water while calling to mind his knowledge of which potions reacted best together for healing such extensive burns. For good measure he added a drop of alabaster oil to the mix. Muggles used it to soothe the nerves and Harry was hoping that it would work well with the muscle relaxant and warming combination that he was trying to achieve.

A loud noise in the bedroom drew his attention back to his patient.

Harry ran back in, fearing that the worst had happened. In his panic, he was prepared to find the professor on the ground bleeding from the fall with perhaps a couple of broken bones just for karma's sake. Fortunately, it was only the items on his bedside table that had fallen to the floor. He was relieved to note that the professor was still safely on the bed and the shakes seemed to have calmed to a constant tremor.

Using his wand, he levitated Snape into the bathroom, praying silently to himself that the water was still warm. He didn't want to throw Snape in hot water and cause sudden thawing because that could bring on another bout of convulsions. He really hadn't brought the wizard to his house to have him die from hypothermia.

He lowered Snape down gently into the tub.

Kneeling on the cold tile floor, Harry slid his hands under Snape's arms to keep the unconscious man from sliding beneath the water. He could feel the tremors get less and less violent and soon the damaged skin was no longer blue, but a light shade of pink. Harry's arms began to ache. He rested his forehead on Snape's left shoulder, grateful that the wizard wasn't awake to see himself naked, wet and disabled.

"Maybe I should just work on getting you clean first. I hate to sound shallow, but you reek, Professor. You’ll be more comfortable when you’re clean, at least. I'll probably need a shower too. You'll be happy to know that in your revenge of my man-handling you, I've managed to soak my shirt right through."

Harry kept up the stream of words as he stretched precariously for the soap and washcloth. He managed to lather it up well and sat for a few seconds pondering how he would bathe Snape while preventing the former professor from slipping under the water. In the end he had to rely on a wandless levitation spell, earning himself a throbbing headache. At least he was able to comfortably disentangle himself from the slightly floating figure.

Looking on the body, Harry wondered where to begin scrubbing. He didn't want to hurt Snape even if the man was unconscious. He didn't want to scrub too hard for fear that the burned skin would flake or peel off. If he were anyone other than a Gryffindor he would admit to the terror that burned in the bottom of his stomach and perhaps give up. Not all the burning in his stomach came from his desire to not harm the other man.

"He's just a man, not a monster," he muttered severely to himself in a voice that reminded him of another voice that once commanded him. "Belt up Potter. Are you a Healer in training or a pathetic eleven year old?"

Taking a deep breath, he got to work. Soon he realized that it stopped mattering that the skin he scrubbed at wasn't smooth and pale as he remembered. The important thing was to be gentle and careful. Harry knew how to take care; it was natural to him. He wasn't fooling himself into thinking that he could be clinical about the task. It was Snape beneath the coarse washcloth and it was Snape that was covered in the burns. He didn't hate the wizard, though he wasn't about to start doting and fawning. He allowed the pity and compassion to wash over him as he cupped small amounts of water in the palm of his hands to trickle gently over the soapy, crinkled skin.

"All right. This is the best I can do for today, so let's get you out now," he said softly into the silent room as he drained the tub and towel dried the floating form. "Your temperature seems to be closer to normal so I bet you'll just hate waking up to me bathing you. The horror alone would kill you."

He levitated Snape back into the guest room, spent a minute fluffing and stacking the pillows in just the right way before he gently laid Snape down. Then he covered up Snape's nakedness with a thick black blanket.

He was pondering whether or not to cast a drying spell on Snape's damp, but still dirty hair, when the phone began to ring. Grabbing his wand, Harry quickly turned off the light. Then softly he whispered a quick "Goodnight Professor Snape", before closing the door gently.

He spent a few seconds cursing whoever had the gall to call at such a late hour as he ran to his room to get to the phone before it woke his new guest.

 
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