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Chapter 3 : Unintentional Catharsis
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“Excuse me, ma’am,” said the young orderly through the closed door. “I know that you asked to not be disturbed, but the reception witch downstairs called to say that Harry Potter was requesting to be allowed to see Mr. Snape.”
Alexis, still struggling to pull herself out of her sleepy fog said, “Ok. Thank you. I will ask Severus if he is feeling up to visitors and then head down to escort Mr. Potter up myself.”
The increased security measures that had been implemented after Rufus Scrimgeour had been killed required everyone that visited the hospital be vetted and escorted by a Healer to assure the safety of the patients in the hospital wards.
Alexis attempted to freshen herself up a bit before heading downstairs, but quickly decided that it useless and gave up. She left her office and headed down the hall to the patient’s ward. She was beginning to think that she should have given her patient his own private room, with all of the attention her was attracting attracting from what she had to admit was an impressive collection of visitors. First, the Minister of Magic and now the famous, Harry Potter, himself. She had to admit, if only to herself, that she was becoming extremely curious about the reasoning behind these visits.
When she had arrived at Snape’s bedside she was almost relieved to find that he was sleeping quite soundly. His sleep thus far had been fitful and appeared to have been plagued with nightmares causing him to toss, turn and mumble incoherently. She let out a sigh as she decided that she would need to inform Mr. Potter that he would need to come back at a later time. Snape appeared to be sleeping peacefully for a change and she had no desire to bother him. Not even for the boy hero himself.
Alexis was deep in thought as she waited for the lift to take her to the ground floor. Immediately upon stepping out of the lift she knew that something unusual was happening. The reception area was extremely crowded and very loud. She could not help but notice that the majority of the crowd was focused at someone or something near the welcome witch’s desk.
As she pushed her way through the crowd, she was nearly blinded by the flash bulbs of several cameras. Blinking her eyes against the spots the flashes had created and was now clouding her vision, she realized that the crowd that had gathered was there in hopes of catching a glimpse of Snape’s famous visitor, Harry Potter.
When she reached the reception desk someone roughly grabbed her arms, “Please tell me that you are here to take him out of here, Lexi. These people are causing such rukus that patients needing to check in can’t even get through!” the welcome witch shrieked desperately.
Alexis patted her arm reassuringly and pushed her way to the front of the crowd. She recognized Harry immediately and was somewhat surprised to see that he appeared to be trying to hide behind his two friends that were flanking him protectively on either side. The female with the bushy ponytail looked somewhat lost and frightened. The boy of Harry’s other side was a tall stalwart boy that she recognized as a regular visitor to the hospital's Long Term Spell Damage ward. He looked as though he was ready and able to fight back the crowd if needed. Actually, judging by the many cuts and bruises that all three of them were covered with, they all looked rather intimidating even disregarding the battle worn glazes they wore. Harry, himself, was staring out into the crowd with a dazed look on his face as people shouted questions at him which his friends seemed to be answering instead of himself.
“Was Professor Snape your favorite teacher in school?” shouted an unseen person from the back of the crowd.
“Are you planning on returning to Hogwart’s to complete your N.E.W.T.s?” yelled another.
“What spell did you use to kill 'you-know-who'?”
“What do you have to say to the families of your fellow students that were killed because of you while you were battling ‘you-know-who’?”
The questions were being shouted out at rapid fire from witches and wizards in every direction. Alexis noticed that Harry continued starring out into the crowd with the same shell-shocked, pained look on his face as his friends continued to deflect the questions for him. Sometimes they would answer the questions for him, other times just speaking quietly to Harry before answering and completely ignoring other questions all together.
Alexis stepped forward through the last few gawkers and turned to face the crowd. “I think it is past time for everyone to return to minding their own businesses and allow Mr. Potter and his friends to do the same,” she said loudly.
Her announcement was met many with many grumbles and groans, but she was pleased to see people beginning to disperse to their seats in the waiting area, towards the entrance doors and head off to wait for the lifts.
Harry looked up at Alexis and said in a low, unsteady voice, “Thanks.”
The haunted look that she was met with when this boy had looked up at her made her instantly change her mind about just sending the boy away to come back at a later time as she had originally planned to have done. She felt a strange obligation to at least sit down with him and hear what he needed to say. She almost felt as though she would be willing to sacrifice Snape’s sleep being disturbed if seeing him would help ease the cares that Harry seemed to be weighed down with.
“Mr. Potter, I am Alexis Prewett. I have been caring for your Professor Snape since he was brought in. Would you care to accompany me to my office so we can talk and I can try to answer what questions I can? I’m sure you would feel more comfortable somewhere where you won’t have to worry about being harassed by anymore of your admirers.” She finished with a small smile.
Harry hesitated for a moment as he looked at his friends as if asking them what he should do.
“You go on, Harry. I am going to go visit with my parents for a bit,” the boy said.
“I can wait for you here, Harry. I’d expect that Professor Snape would not be too thrilled with having all of us come barging in on him,” the girl said reassuringly.
“Thanks, guys. I will see you both in a little bit,” Harry said as he turned to follow Alexis to the lifts.
Neither of them spoke until the doors of the lift had closed in front of them. Alexis broke the silence by saying, “Your friends were not as eager to learn about your professor’s condition as you?”
“Well…Neville has always been afraid of Professor Snape. Although I think he was able to overcome most of those fears this year. Hermione has always disliked Snape because of how he treated me and other Gryffindors,” Harry explained simply.
“So you are saying that he did not treat you kindly?”
“Definitely not, ma’am,” Harry said emphatically. “Professor Snape hates me. He has hated me since the first time that he had laid eyes on me.”
“Goodness!! May I be so bold, then, to inquire why you are here visiting a man that hates you?” Alexis questioned suspiciously.
“You can ask, but I am afraid that I don’t really have much of an answer for you,” he replied. “I guess I just need to see for myself that he is really going to be ok.”
Alexis thought about this quietly as the two of them stepped off the lift and she lead them down the darkened, vacated hallway and into her office.
“Please, have a seat,” gesturing towards the old, but comfortable looking couch. She crossed the office and sat down in her black leather office chair. Once Harry had settled himself on the couch she said, “Please tell me something. Why is it so important for you to know that your professor is ok if you are certain that he hates you?”
Harry sighed. “Mostly because I recently found out that he wasn’t the person that I had originally believed him to be.” He paused for a long moment as if lost in thought. When he spoke again his face wore such a pained expression it caused Alexis to feel a shooting pain not unlike how she would have imagined a spike being driven through her heart would feel. “I don’t even know what to think or feel anymore, honestly. Everything just seems so backwards now.”
For once in her life, Alexis felt as though she was at a complete loss at how to help this shattered boy sitting in front of her. Since she had been very young she had always been able to sense the feelings of others around her. Often she even had the unfortunate problem of absorbing the feelings of others causing those feelings to become her own. It had taken large amounts of self-discipline to block out those feelings from invading her mind. Now with the intense feelings that the boy was projecting she was having difficulty maintaining her mental wall. She had never known anyone to have such deep feelings of anguish and despair. The pain that this boy was wrestling with would push any healthy, sane person completely over the edge.
As she struggled to regain control of her emotions she found herself becoming increasingly angry. Was it possible that Severus Snape was the cause of all this pain? She pushed her anger aside and took several deep breaths.
“I must ask, is Professor Snape responsible for your disturbed confusion?”
“I guess I could say that he was. But he also managed to answer a lot of questions that no one else could or would give me the answers to. Now, however, I am faced with the guilt about how I treated him and things that I accused him of.” He began to fidget nervously. “But how was I supposed to know the truth about anything he had done and what he had been dealing with? Especially since everyone is STILL trying so hard to keep me in the dark about everything?!” his voice rising into a yell.
Alexis grew even more confused. When Harry spoke of Snape he radiated feelings admiration and guilt, not anger like she would have expected. Maybe it wasn’t Snape that had caused the pain that this boy struggled with.
While she knew that Harry had come to her because of his concern for Snape and not a counseling session she felt that she just couldn’t let him leave her office feeling the way that he was. She closed her eyes and cast a silent mood stabilizing spell on him. As she opened her eyes she could almost see the tension being released from him. His shoulders dropped a bit and he appeared to relax into the couch.
Harry looked up at her in surprise. “What did you do to me?”
She smiled as she spoke softly to him. “It was just a simple mood charm. You were so tense and trying to juggle so many emotions that I thought that you could use to relax for a bit.”
“Oh. Thanks.” Harry said with a small nod. “It has been a rough couple of days.”
“From what I hear it has been more than a rough couple of days. More like a rough couple of years.” When Harry did not respond she changed the subject. “So…what was it that you wanted to know about Mr. Snape?”
“Um…well…I mostly just needed to know if he was going to be ok,” Harry mumbled.
“He is going to be just fine. It was very lucky for him that he was found when he was, before the venom was able to spread,” she said reassuringly.
Harry stared down at the floor and mumbled, “No thanks to me. I just left him there to die.”
“Excuse me? What do you mean by that?” she asked.
“I was there. I saw Snape get attacked and I did nothing. I didn’t try to stop Voldemort or Nagini from attacking him. I just kept on hiding like a coward. By the time that I went to Snape, after Voldemort had left with his little pet, he had seemed like he was beyond all help.” Harry began trembling all over and his began to sound unsteady as he continued to speak. “Not that I could have given him any help anyway since I never thought to learn even the simplest of healing spells.” His voice was now growing into a more hysterical scream. “So what did I do instead?! I took his memories and then just left him there to die! I left him in that cold and dark place to die completely alone! I never even thought of trying to get him any help!! It is all my fault that he is even here at all!” he finished as he began to sob uncontrollably.
Alexis, grabbing a box of tissues off of her desk, moved from her chair to sit next to him on the couch. She handed him the box of tissues and began rubbing his back sympathetically letting him cry it out for several moments.
When Harry began to show signs of calming down, Alexis finally said, “You are being incredibly unfair to yourself, Harry. First and foremost, allow me to say this, there was no way that any simple healing spell would have helped Severus. If a healing spell would have been used and had been successful at closing the wounds, it would have killed him for sure. The venom would have spread throughout his body much quicker without the open wound for the venom to be expelled through. Even now that I am most certain that the venom has been removed from his body I have refrained from closing the wounds as a precaution.”
“I didn’t know that,” he said quietly as he visibly tried to regain his composure.
“What do you honestly think would have happened if you had shown yourself and tried to stop Voldemort from hurting Severus?” she pressed.
Harry shook his head violently not wanting to answer.
“Ok,” she said deciding to change tactics. “Tell me this. How is it that you were able to defeat the darkest and most evil wizard in this century when wizards much more practiced and wiser than yourself could not?”
He looked up at her for several long minutes contemplating his answer. He hadn’t told many people the real story about Voldemort’s defeat, but figured that the story would get out eventually. “Voldemort could not have been destroyed, because he had created several horcruxes. Anyone that would have tried to kill him without first destroying those horcruxes, and didn’t end up getting killed themselves, would only have succeeded in destroying his body like what had been done when he tried killing me as a baby.”
Alexis felt like she had been punched in the gut. While she certainly could not claim to have an extensive amount of knowledge about horcruxes, she knew enough to know how they were made and that they were among the darkest objects that could be created. She shivered involuntarily, before asking, “So…When you had seen Snape being attacked, had you already destroyed the horcruxes?”
“No,” he muttered.
“I am also going to guess that you did not advertise this information about how to destroy him to many other people?”
Another shake of his head.
“So if you had revealed yourself and had tried to help Severus, you would not have been able to kill him and it is quite possible that you could have even gotten killed yourself in the process?” she asked softly.
Harry shrugged his shoulders, not trusting himself to speak or look at Alexis.
“I can’t pretend to know how you are feeling right now, Harry, given everything that you have been through. I do know that these things that you are feeling are very normal for anyone that has experienced a traumatic situation. You have been living in a state of fear and high alert for such a long time that it may be rather strange or even difficult for you to unwind and calm down at first. You will need to give yourself some time to work everything out. What you don’t need right now is to add more pressure and responsibility onto yourself especially for things that you had absolutely no control over,” she finished soothingly.
“I just can’t stop thinking about it. I keep seeing him lying there. I have never seen him looking so helpless. Even when I hated him the most, he always seemed so strong and I never thought that he could be afraid of anything. Looking at him lying there I could only think that if HE was defeated than I had absolutely no chance of surviving. Then when I took his memories to the pensieve and saw the truth behind who he really had been and the things that he had done I felt so much worse. I wanted to just have the chance to go back and tell him that I was sorry for everything; sorry for what my dad and Sirius had put him through, for blaming him and hating him, for not believing Dumbledore about him…So many things,” he muttered quietly. “But now that I know he’s alive and I’m here and can actually speak to him I am too scared to do so.”
“What is it that you are afraid will happen if you tell him these things?” she prompted.
“I dunno. That he wouldn’t believe me, maybe, or that he would just tell me how foolish and stupid I am for being so weak.”
“Do you think that he is going to be angry with you for not doing more to save him?” she asked softly.
Harry’s eyes began to fill up with tears and he nodded hesitantly.
Alexis sighed and said, “And what if he is angry with you? What if he had expected you to have saved him? What could you possibly do about it now?
“Nothing,” he replied looking taken aback.
“If you could go back and do things again, would you change anything about what you did?” she asked.
“No,” he whispered.
“Then who cares about his anger? If he is unable or unwilling to understand, then that will be his issue that he would need to overcome. Not yours. You have enough of your own life to sort through and deal with without trying to fix someone else’s problems. Right?” she said simply.
At this Harry could not help but smile. “I think I like that way of thinking.”
Alexis stood and indicated that Harry should do the same. “Come with me. He was sleeping the last time I checked on him, but I think it would do you some good to see with your own eyes that he is alive and well.”
She escorted Harry out of her office and down the hall. They passed a few closed office doors and a waiting room that had a person sleeping rather awkwardly in an uncomfortable looking waiting room. When they reached the double doors of the ward, Harry paused and looked up Alexis timidly. Without a word she gently pushed open the door and led him onto the ward.
She led Harry down the row of beds that were tightly packed together and looked very cramped together. Seeing the curious expression that Harry wore as he glanced around she said, “They had to add a number of beds to all of the units last year when things started getting very bad over here. I’m actually hoping that everything will start calming down here now so that I can return back to the States,” she whispered softly to not wake the sleeping patients.
Harry gave her a confused look. “The states? So you aren’t from here? You don’t sound like an American.”
Alexis laughed. “No. I was born here and even went to school here at Hogwarts. I made the decision after my N.E.W.T.S. to continue my education at a muggle university. So I moved to the States, much to the dismay of my parents I must add, got a muggle degree and then started working at a wizarding hospital in New York City.”
“What made you want to study at a muggle university?” he asked curiously.
Alexis thought for a moment before replying. She was not sure that he needed to know how much of an outsider she had often felt at that age and if she was being honest, often still felt. Instead she said quietly, “There were a lot of reasons, but most of them are too complicated to explain right now. Let’s just say that I thought that it would be silly for me to only have skills that would only be useful in the magical world. I thought it would be wiser to have a backup career available.”
“Is that something that I should be worried about?” he asked with a hint of worry in his voice.
“I’m thinking you are all set. I daresay that the wizarding world will never allow you to disappear,” she said with another small smile.
Harry looked as though he had wanted to say something, but was distracted when Alexis stopped at the last bed in the row. The curtain was drawn around it and Alexis gestured for him to come closer and have a look behind the curtain.
He approached cautiously and when he reached the side of the bed he stood staring at the man in silence for several long moments. Finally he heaved a big sigh and turned to face Alexis. “Thank you. For everything.”
Alexis nodded and said, “It’s no problem, really. I’m just glad to be able to do anything to help. And please, if you should need it, please feel free to seek me out if you need someone to talk to in the future. I would be more than happy to meet with you anytime you need.”
Harry thanked her and assured her that he would keep her offer in mind, shook her hand and then walked away off the ward.
Alexis stared at her sleeping patient for a few moments before whispering, “You are definitely proving to be quite the little mystery, Severus. I don’t know if I am supposed to keep on hating the person that you were or begin admiring the person that you have become.”
Snape did not respond, but just shifted in his sleep, completely unaware of the internal struggle that his caretaker was struggling with.
I truly hope that everyone is enjoying reading as much as I am writing. This is my first attempt at FanFiction, but I must admit that I am enjoying writing so much that I am already working on my next story.
I do have many more chapters for "Out of the Ruins" written and I will be posting them as fast as the validation process will allow! Thanks for reading!!
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