By: Chaos and Raven
frenzy; syrup; medicinal
What if it was:
The infirmary was quiet now; none of the earlier frenzy left in the air. There was nothing for him to say, really. He looked at the two people sitting by his bedside. Ron and Hermione they'd said. Best friends. It was no small wonder, the horror in their eyes when he couldn't recall a single thing about them.
He was Harry Potter, or so they told him. Charms class. Malfoy. Hexed. All sorts of unfamiliar words jangled around in his head. They'd been talking on top of each other for an hour now. The nurse still wasn't back yet. He managed a weak smile for them.
"Don't worry, Harry," Ron was saying, "they grew all the bones in your arm back second year. I bet fixing your head up will be a snap."
"Honestly, Ron," Hermione said waspishly. "You should try to get more sleep, Harry. I'm sure Professor Dumbledore will know what to do."
He opened his mouth to ask who this Dumbledore person was when the door opened. The round faced nurse bustled in. She was the one who fed him the sugary syrup that soothed his already battered subconscious. A tall dark man came trailing in her wake. Harry stared in shock as his mind provided a name.
The talking ceased instantly. Hermione drew in a sharp breath and Ron squeaked in an undignified manner. Harry kept his eyes riveted on the man who'd just entered the infirmary. Straggly, limp hair fell around his shoulders; his eyes were black and his skin unnaturally pale. He was, Harry thought, not particularly handsome but rather striking nonetheless. And he was the only person Harry had been able to identify since waking. The nurse was scrabbling to his side.
"What was that you said, Mr. Potter?"
He looked at her curiously. "That's Severus Snape. My potions teacher."
The room was silent.
"Isn't it?" He demanded.
"How very astute, Potter," Snape said dryly. "I trust your newly acquired observational skills will be utilized in class on Monday?"
Harry smiled. "Of course, Professor."
He felt cheerful for the first time since waking. Potions. Yes, he had a good feeling about that.
"Madame Pomfrey? How long do you think it will be before Harry recovers his memory?" Ron asked quietly.
Pomfrey -- and Harry was glad to have a name for her -- shrugged lightly. "A day, a year, possibly never. The mind is a curious place, children. No one can quite predict how it will work and memory charms make it all the more complicated."
Ron looked as though he were about to burst, only Hermione's fingers, tightly clenched on his arm, held him in check.
"We'll see you tomorrow, Harry. I bet you'll be feeling better by then." Hermione gave him a grin full of false cheer. "We'll stop by after classes."
He nodded back, feeling better than he had all week. The sickly medicinal smell of the infirmary no longer made him want to choke with revulsion. That was progress, of sorts. Ron stood awkwardly and Hermione patted his shoulder.
"It'll be okay, Harry," she said.
This time, he believed her.
Or it could be:
It started with something he couldn't, and probably wouldn't ever, remember. He'd been told, and came to believe, that it was an accident during class. That didn't minimize the annoyance of having the one face he remembered be a face that didn't particularly care if he remembered it.
He honestly hadn't forgotten much, just everyone he ever knew. He had more factual knowledge stored in his head than, well, anyone he could think of. It was a depressingly short list. 'I am Severus Snape,' he told his reflection every morning. 'Yes, I know,' it replied. But he only knew that because he'd been told.
The only person he remembered was Harry Potter. He didn't know anything about the boy. Couldn't say for sure if they ever even spoke to each other. All he knew was the dark green eyes and the name that went with them. He assumed, of course, that his relationship with Mr. Potter was not particularly congenial. As a matter of fact, based on the cool way Potter dismissed him every time they met, he's fairly certain the boy disliked him rather a lot.
It didn't help the frenzy he felt in his chest on Wednesdays when he taught the Gryffindor potions class. He is a professional, however, and has said nothing to the boy. Nothing. He was fair to Potter when he deserved it, indifferent otherwise. It was, he thought as he surveyed his domain, the only way he would survive this wretched ordeal.
"Open your textbooks to page twenty-seven," he said, pleased when his students obeyed with alacrity. The past two weeks have taught them that memories or no, he will not tolerate foolishness. "Read the pages on St. John's Wort and then prepare the potion on page thirty-one. If you are unsure of something, please ask me instead of assuming that whatever your little minds come up with will work."
The students were silent as they read. Severus stalked up and down the aisles to ensure they remained that way. He rebuked the students whose eyes and attentions wandered. Fifteen minutes later, low conversation buzzed as they attempted to follow his instructions. It was a moderately complex healing draught that could be administered like cough syrup and would heal all manners of scrapes and bruises. A good choice for a class full of troublemakers.
At the end of the hour he dismissed the students, pleased -- though he would never admit it -- at their progress. He looked up from his desk when someone made an aborted attempt to step forward.
"What is it Mr. Potter? I believe you have another class to attend this afternoon."
"Yes, sir," Potter said softly. "I just wanted to tell you, ah, Professor Dumbledore said you can't remember anyone."
"I believe that is common knowledge, Potter."
"Well, yes. But he said anyone, except me."
Severus frowned and steepled his fingers. He should have known Dumbledore to be a busybody. He sighed. "Yes, I'm afraid that's true."
"I thought, if you wanted, I could do my homework while you grade papers some time... so you have something familiar about."
"How very thoughtful," he said dryly. "I'm sure you have other ways to wile away your time, Potter."
"I don't mind, honest."
"Go to class, Mr. Potter. I'll think on it."
He watched as Potter scurried out of the classroom, leaving behind the medicinal scent of camphor and St. John's wort. As well as the potential comfort of familiarity.
They stare at each other for a long moment. Two men and nothing more. The air around them is warm and sweet with spring rain.
"Who are you?" the younger asks the elder.
"Severus," he replies with a frown. "Severus Snape. Who are you?"
"I'm Harry Potter."
Severus nods, as if he expected as much. He draws his cloak closer around himself, not particularly staving off the chill but as a gesture he feels is somehow familiar.
"Where do you suppose we are?" Harry asks.
There is no sign of life aside from themselves. That is untrue though. There is life all around them. The hill they are on top of is brimming with life. Green grass and wildflowers. Lupins, dandelions, vetch, buttercups, as well as numerous others Severus has no hope of identifying. Songbirds trill cheerfully from the underbrush. There is simply no life that will be of any use to them.
Harry plops down on the dilapidated stone wall that meanders through the valley as far as the eye can see. A flock of quail burst into flight behind him in a frenzy of beating wings. Harry turns to watch them fly away but is surprisingly unstartled.
Severus shrugs. "We could be anywhere."
Harry nods, as though the thought has occurred to him as well and he was merely waiting for confirmation. "D'you think anyone is going to find us here?" He gestures with his arms to the wide open countryside.
Severus shrugs again, sitting beside Harry on the wall. The future is rife with possibility.
"Hey, d'you think we were mates?" Harry asks.
"Or maybe lovers," Harry goes on as though Severus hadn't spoken. "I just thought that since we were out here in the middle of nowhere together... Well, anyway. I bet we were. Friends I mean. I can't imagine why else we'd be stuck together out here."
And with that one word he stops talking.
"Regardless of our past entanglements, we are here together now. I would hate to ruin what has been a not completely awful acquaintanceship."
Harry smiles at him. "That was a compliment, wasn't it? You probably can't really say nice things and make them sound nice. No," he corrects himself, "it always sounds nice. Your voice is a bit like syrup. Very slow and mellow. I bet you tell great bedtime stories."
"You're sounding a bit maudlin, Harry," he says with an abbreviated roll of his eyes.
"Cause we're stuck in the middle of nowhere is why. And as far as I know, you can't eat any of these plants."
The thought has passed though his mind. "I believe that some of them may have medicinal properties, but that doesn't help us."
Harry takes a deep breath and then lets it out slowly. Calming. Centering. Severus can't imagine why. He doesn't think he's felt this good in ages. Fresh air; tolerable, if inquisitive, company; and no need to do anything. He slouches a bit, relaxing his ramrod straight posture.
"Well, we're together, right? We can always start walking if we have to," Harry says.
Severus smiles. Just a little. "We do have each other."