Chapter 26 : Great Need, Great Power
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Great Need, Great Power
The two children screamed themselves hoarse in a few minutes' time. About the time he lost much of his voice, Severus realized that no one in the upper level of the house could hear them. He coughed, his throat was dry from all the shouting. "Al . . . Alby, stop!" he said, grabbing the little boy by the shoulders and spinning him around so Alby was looking into his eyes. "It's no good, they can't hear us. The walls down here are too thick, our voices won't penetrate them."
"But . . . what do we do now? I want Daddy!" Alby cried, his green eyes frightened.
Severus held up a cautionary finger. "Don't cry, Al. You have to brave, like you were with the centaurs. If we can't go back, there's only one thing we can do."
"What, Sevvy?" his brother asked, struggling valiantly not to cry.
"We go forward. You wanted to go and explore the tunnel, remember? Well, you got your wish."
"I changed my mind," Alby whimpered.
"Too late for that. Come on, let's go," Severus said, forcing himself to sound more excited than he was.
This time it was Alby who hesitated. "But what if Daddy or Mummy comes to find us?"
"They'll come down the tunnel, it's the only way out of here," Severus reasoned. "And maybe there's another way out of here."
Severus felt nearly certain there was another way out of the tunnel, since the smugglers had built it to be able to come and go with their various items. He just hoped that wherever the tunnel came out of was still passable, and not blocked by something, like a rockslide or dirt.
"You think?" Alby asked hopefully. He clutched Severus' hand.
"Yes." Severus said firmly. He had to be convincing, so Alby wouldn't panic. "I'm just glad that there's a permanent Lumos charm on this tunnel, I'd hate to be down here in the dark."
Alby shivered. "I hate the dark, Sevvy."
They continued down the tunnel, their footsteps echoing as they walked. It was damp and smelled moldy, but neither child paid much attention to that.
"Sevvy, do you think that there's treasure down there?"
"I don't know. Somehow I doubt it. Smugglers wouldn't leave behind expensive items, they'd want to sell or trade them quickly, before someone saw and reported them. Plus, this tunnel and whatever else is down here has been here for centuries. If anything's left, unless they put a preserving charm on it, it's probably all rotting and trash by now."
They continued walking. It felt as if they'd been walking a long time, but Severus knew they hadn't been down there all that long, maybe fifteen minutes. Suddenly the tunnel broadened a bit and the light spell brightened.
"I see more light, Sevvy." Alby said, looking eager. He tugged at Severus' hand.
"Stay by me," the older boy ordered. "We don't know what's down there."
"You think there's monsters?" his brother asked fearfully.
"Of course not. But I don't want you to get lost. Stay close," Severus hastened to reassure him.
After about two minutes, they came upon a large wooden door barred with iron. It had a large rusty padlock on it, and was partially open.
Alby gasped. "A secret room!"
"Probably where they kept all the items they were smuggling," Severus surmised. He walked forward, slipping into the open entrance first. To his relief, the Lumos spell activated here too, illuminating the room with a warm golden glow.
The two children crept into the room like thieves, seeing that it was a huge natural cavern, big enough to hide several ships' worth of cargo. The spell illuminated most of the space save for the highest points at the top of the cavern, and in the furthest shadowy corners. Nothing moved in the cavern, which was mostly empty, save for a cluster of broken crates to the left and four intact ones on the right, some of which looked old and worn. The top of one of those had been shoved aside, as if someone had tried to take something out, and Severus caught the glint of glass.
The other thing that was very evident was the roar and hiss of the ocean. It echoed loudly in the cavern, though Severus saw no water anywhere.
Alby pressed close to Severus now, not inclined to go and explore. "Sevvy, I hear the ocean."
"Yeah, there must be another tunnel somewhere."
Together they walked across the large cavern, following the gurgling rush of the sea.
Soon they spotted another hole in the opposite wall, and as they entered that tunnel, they could hear the ocean's roar even more clearly. They walked down a path that was a mix of dirt and sandy rocky soil. This tunnel twisted a bit more, but Severus kept walking towards the sound of the ocean.
Finally the tunnel widened into a slightly larger opening and the two children saw daylight, as well as a slice of sandy beach. "Look, Sevvy! It's the beach!" Alby squealed, pulling free of his brother's hold and running towards the strip of sand.
"Alby! Stop!" Severus shouted to no avail. He could see the water frothing and foaming against the sand.
But Alby was deaf to Severus' command, continuing to run towards the beach.
Severus sprinted after him, but was unable to grab the boy before he reached the mouth of the tunnel.
There was a small spit of land that reached into the ocean, it was a small inlet surrounded by a curving cliff wall, and the waves broke up against it with terrific force. Alby stumbled before he could venture out on to the strip of land, a good thing, as the ocean current was not gentle here, and fell. His arm scraped against a sharp rock, cutting it.
At first there was no pain, and he climbed to his feet, but then he felt a sudden throbbing in his arm and looked at it—it was bleeding and covered with sand and tiny particles of crushed rock. He began to howl. "Sevvy! I hurt my arm . . . I want Mummy and Daddy!"
Severus reached the little boy seconds after the fall and grabbed him. "Hey, let me see."
But Alby was hysterical and continued to clutch his arm to his chest, screaming for his absent parents.
Severus hugged the child to him. "Al, calm down. Let me see how bad it is."
"No-o-o! I w-want Daddy . . .!" Alby sobbed, tears coursing down his face.
"Shhh . . . he's not here right now, scamp. Now please let me see. I don't think you're hurt all that bad, you're just scared and cranky. Come on, Al." Severus coaxed, tugging gently on his brother's arm.
"But . . . I'm b-bleeding!" Alby cried, his little chest heaving with sobs.
"I know, that usually happens when you fall down and scrape your arm." Severus said matter-of-factly, finally pulling Alby's arm out so he could examine it. It was not as bad as he had feared, the cut wasn't deep, but it was a large scrape and covered in sand. "It's not so bad, Alby. You won't die. We just need to wash it out."
Alby looked up at him. "It hurts."
Severus nodded. "Sure it does." He led Alby closer to the water, hating what he had to do next. And this will hurt even worse, but I have to clean this out. "C'mere and stick your arm in the ocean, Al, so the water can wash off the sand."
Alby didn't fight Severus' command this time. He thrust his arm into the frothy waves. Then he started to scream as the salt water stung the abrasion. "Owwie! Owwie!" He went to pull his arm out of the water.
Severus grabbed his arm and forced the crying child to keep the arm in the water a few moments longer. He winced as Alby shrieked in his ear. "I'm really sorry, Al. I know this hurts like a bitch, but you have to clean the dirt out."
Alby struggled, howling like a banshee. "It burns, Sevvy! Oww! Oww!"
"I know. I know. I'm sorry." Severus crooned, lifting Alby's arm from the water. The scrape was clean. "Shhh . . .you'll be okay."
Alby was still screaming, and Severus held him. Alby buried his face in Severus' shirt, sobbing. His arm felt like it was on fire. "It h-hurts . . . I w-want M-mummy!"
Severus felt terrible, even though he knew cleaning out the wound was the right thing to do. "Me too, but she's not here . . . I know it hurts, let me blow on it." He gently blew on the scrape, trying to ease the burning. "I'm sorry, Al, but I had to do that."
"W-why? Now it hurts worse!" Alby sniffled. "You're mean, Sevvy!"
"If I didn't, the dirt in there would have made you get an infection and then you might have gotten blood poisoning and your arm would have turned all black and you might have had to get an operation and lots of shots," Severus told him.
Alby's eyes widened. "I don't wanna get an op'ration an' shots! I hate shots!"
"I know, that's why I had to clean your scrape with the salt water. It stings, but that's better than getting lots of shots and your arm cut off, right?"
Slowly, Alby nodded. The pain was slowly fading. "Uh huh." Then he glared at his brother. "You're still mean." But despite that declaration he still held onto his brother.
Severus chuckled. "Yeah, I'm terrible. Hold still, let me wrap it." He ripped a strip from the bottom of his T-shirt and wrapped it about Alby's arm in a makeshift bandage. After he had tied it up he asked, "How's that feel?"
"Still think I'm mean?"
Alby shook his head. "How come you can't use magic to fix boo boos?"
"I wish I could," Severus sighed. "But I'm too little to do much with my magic and I don't have a wand. Or any potions." That was the worst drawback of being a child again, the loss of much of his magical power. Oh, he could still feel his magical core, feel all the untapped potential, but he couldn't access it. Or not very well.
He stared out over the ocean, the water was starting to rise, and Severus knew it wouldn't be safe to stay here much longer. There was no way off the spit of land save by sea, and there was no boat to sail away on, and the cliffs were too sheer to climb. "Al, let's go back to the secret room. We can't stay here. The tide's coming in."
"But I wanna go home."
"Well, we can't get to the house this way, the sea's too rough, we'll drown." Severus pointed out logically. "We have to go back. Come on." He pulled Alby around and began walking back into the tunnel.
Alby followed, he was still upset, but he didn't want to be anywhere near the burning water again. "Can we see what's in the secret room?"
"Yes. Maybe they have something in there to drink."
"I'm thirsty, Sevvy."
"So am I."
They found their way back to the secret room, and began to look inside the crates that were still intact. To their surprise, the crate with the glass Seveus had seen before contained a whole case of butterbeer! After Severus had rubbed off the dust, he twisted off a top and drank some. "Mmm! It's still good! Must have a charm on it." He handed the bottle to Alby. "Here, Al. Drink it."
Alby took the bottle in his small hands and began to gulp it down. He was so thirsty he didn't even care that it was warm.
Severus opened another bottle and drank that one down. Then he took several more bottles out and put them in the center of the room, along with the food they had taken from the pantry. "Let's have lunch." It wasn't much, but better than nothing.
Together they ate the Cheez Crunchies, peppermint toads, and peanut butter. The peanut butter they had to eat with their fingers, but it wasn't too bad, since they could lick them clean. They drank some more butterbeer, then Alby said, "What's in the rest of the boxes?"
"Let's find out," Severus said, trying to keep Alby occupied. It was over an hour now since they'd gone missing, and Severus feared no one even knew they were gone yet. Ginny was probably asleep, and Harry too.
They gently shoved the crate of butterbeer off to the side and opened the three other crates. Two of them contained bottles of firewhiskey, but the other crate had a soft fuzzy lavender blanket and a small rosewood box and a leather diary. The items had been carefully packed with cedar shavings and seemed undamaged. "Preserving charm," Severus murmured. He took the journal and opened it.
Alby grabbed the blanket and hugged it to him. "Sevvy, it smells good! And it's warm."
Severus nodded, perusing the diary. It was a little parchment book, and the handwriting was a girl's, all loops and curliques. "Miranda Brentwood's Book of Secrets, July 20th, 1889." He read aloud. "Today I am twelve, and my mother gave me this diary so I might record my thoughts and feelings and any other private musings I might have. She knows how hard it is coming from a family of free traders and sorcerers, and now I have a place to put all the secrets I have learned. I am studying to be a witch, but there are some things I cannot learn at Hogwarts, but must learn from my granny and mama, spells of shaping and water working, that have been in our family for time out of mind . . ."
"That's a good story, Sevvy. Read some more."
"In a bit. Let's see what's in this box." He opened the rosewood carved box and found a lovely beaded necklace made of sea glass and purple, blue, and lavender agates. A large sea shell polished to a high gloss and edged in gold was suspended from the beaded chain. "Wow! That's a nice necklace. I wonder why she left it behind?"
"Is it magic, Sevvy?"
"I don't know. Let's sit down and see if she wrote anything about it in the diary." Severus walked over to where they had the remains of their lunch and sat down. He began to flip through the diary. Alby curled next to him, sharing the lavender blanket.
"July 31st, 1889:
My aunt Tabitha has arrived, and she has given me a special gift, one of magical heirlooms of our family, a necklace of sea agates and a magical shell that contains several powerful spells of disguise. The shell necklace has helped members of our family before when they have had to hide themselves from the revenue men or those in collusion with them, like the Gorwins. The Gorwins are traitors and I hate them, for they work against their own people because the revenue men give them a cut of whatever they take from any free trader they capture. My father always says you can trust a shark quicker than a Gorwin any day. A Gorwin would sell his own mother if the price was right. Aunt Tabitha has promised to give me lessons on using the necklace while she is here. I look forward to them, at least someone isn't treating me like a stupid little child.
There was more in the book, drawings of various plants and herbs, recipes for potions she had learned from her aunts, cousins, and mother, even charms specific to her family. Miranda had kept the diary a whole year, writing in it faithfully until the last entries, when they became scarcer.
The final entry was dated August 7th, 1890.
I must hurry and finish this before I have to go into hiding. The Gorwins have betrayed all of us living here, and led the revenue men right to our door, as well as the Office of Magical Confiscation for Forbidden Objects. They've already arrested my Aunt Tabitha on suspicion of harboring a dangerous magical object. Father says the charges are fake, they just want to get away with harassing a member of our family. I believe him, but am still nervous. Mother says I need to stop writing now and come with her, she has already taken the necklace from me to hide it, because if the Aurors, who are in the pay of the Gorwins, find it on me they will take it. Even though it's not an evil object, she says they've been after it forever, and so she must hide it away. I will give her this journal and also my favorite lavender Blanket of Warmth, because I don't want those scummy excise men trying to take them either. My journal contains far too many family spells and secret to risk it falling into our enemies' hands. I hope that one day we can return here and I can finish writing in this. But for now, I must go. Goodbye, little book . . .
There was a scrawled signature at the bottom of the page and then no more entries.
Severus shut the book. "I guess she never got the chance to come back. Or maybe she forgot about it." He mused. He would have liked to read more about the potion recipes and spells, but his eyes were growing tired.
Alby leaned against him and whimpered, "Sevvy, I miss Mummy and Daddy. Why haven't they found us?"
Severus didn't know, and he felt anxious and a little hurt. Didn't they realize their kids were missing? "They will, Al."
"Soon," he told the child, wishing he believed it.
Harry woke from his impromptu nap. He hadn't intended to take one, but he' d been so warm and cozy upon the sofa that he'd fallen asleep in the middle of chapter 24 of his novel. He removed the book from his face and sat up. The sun was sinking slowly in the west and he figured he'd been asleep for perhaps two or three hours. It had quit raining, thank Merlin.
He immediately noticed the silence and got up to see where the children and Ginny were. He recalled Ginny saying she had a headache and wanted to sleep it off. He hoped the boys had also taken a nap. Stretching, he tossed his book on the sofa and went upstairs.
Coming to Ginny and his room first, he tapped gently at the door. "Gin, you still feeling sick?" he asked as he entered.
He saw his wife asleep in bed, snoring gently. He saw an empty vial of Stomach Soother beside another empty vial of Sleeping Draught. He shook his head. Ginny rarely resorted to potions, if she was doing so now it meant she was really sick. He left her sleeping, she would wake on her own and hopefully feel better.
Next he headed into the boys' room, expecting to find them sleeping also, because he couldn't hear them playing. But their room was empty. A small tendril of fear skittered down his spine. "Alby? Sev?" he called.
All right, now don't panic, Potter. They have to be somewhere here, they can't go off the property, he reassured himself. This was a fairly large cottage, with other rooms the kids could explore. One by one, he opened all the doors in the rooms upstairs and searched. Still no sign of the boys.
Beginning to get frantic now, he Apparated downstairs and checked outside. Because of the Boundary Wards, he knew they couldn't have left the grounds, but they weren't anywhere in the garden or the backyard. He began calling loudly, hoping they weren't playing some game like Hide and Seek, last time Alby had played that with him, the little boy had hidden inside a closet and fallen asleep in there, and not heard Harry calling.
He went back inside and began to search the downstairs. When he again found no sign of them, save to note that the pantry door was ajar, and some snacks missing, he cast a Locator Charm. "Point me Albus Potter and Severus Snape," he intoned.
To his relief, the spell did not indicate the children were outside. But it was behaving oddly. It insisted that they were somewhere in the kitchen, and obviously they were nowhere in sight. "What in hell?" he muttered. "If I didn't know better, I'd say they were using my Invisibility Cloak to hide, but I didn't bring it, it's locked up in my closet." He recast the spell with the same result.
"Alby, Sevvy, come here!" he called sharply. "If you're playing a game, stop it."
No little boys came out of hiding or replied to him.
Starting to get frightened, he went back through all the rooms on the ground floor—kitchen, bathroom, den, dining room, sun room. In each room he called and looked around. Each room was met with the same result.
He cast a spell to reveal any kind of dark magic in use, but it came up negative. So nothing evil had gotten into the house to harm the children. Utterly baffled, he Apparated into his bedroom and was about to wake up Ginny, feeling as if he were going insane, when his wife opened her eyes.
"Harry? Were you calling?" she murmured, sitting up.
"I was, I can't find Alby and Sevvy anywhere," he admitted.
"What do you mean, you can't find them? I told them to go play before I . . . I got sick from my migraine. It was a bad one, I had to dose myself with potions." Ginny frowned. Her headache was gone. "What time is it? Has the rain stopped?"
"It's somewhere around five o'clock, you've been asleep for a few hours. I was reading in the front room, I heard them in the kitchen before I dozed off. But when I woke up and went to look for them, they're nowhere to be found." Harry admitted.
"Merlin, Harry! They can't just be nowhere! They have to be here," Ginny cried, her eyes wide and anxious. She slid her feet into her slippers and wrapped her bedrobe about herself, she had changed into pajamas after throwing up.
"Gin, trust me. I cast a Locator Charm several times and it keeps telling me they're somewhere in the kitchen, but I swear they're not! It's like they've vanished!"
"Maybe you're not casting it right," she muttered, heading downstairs.
"What do you mean? I know how to cast that spell!" Harry argued.
Ginny headed into the kitchen, finding it empty. She cast the Locator Charm, and got the same result as Harry. "Albus Severus, where are you? You come out and answer me right now!" she called sternly.
When there was no response, she called for Severus. "Severus Snape, you better show yourself right now. Before you get put in time out and go to bed early." When she still got no response, she frowned. "I don't get it."
"See? I told you they aren't here," her husband said.
Ginny shook her wand and scowled. "This makes no sense. Neither of them have control over their magic, so they can't use it to hide from us. But the bloody spell keeps pointing me to the wall there!" she pointed to the wall next to the pantry on the right hand side.
"You don't think they could be in the wall?"
"In the wall? Harry, don't be stupid!"
"I'm not! What if there's some kind of . . . secret passage or something?" he said. "Like at school?"
Ginny raised her eyebrows. "Well . . . this was once a smuggler's house . . ." she marched over to the wall and banged on it. Then she put her ear to it, listening for echoes. "Nothing!" she cried. "Damn it, Harry, where are they?"
Severus had dozed a little, snuggled into the lavender Blanket of Warmth next to Alby, but he woke when he felt something wet touch his leg. He stared at the sudden wet stain slowly creeping across the floor. At first he thought Alby had wet himself in his sleep, and he jumped up, making a face. But then he saw that the stain was all across the half of the floor facing the tunnel leading to the sea, which was slowly filling with water.
Horrified, Severus recalled that high tide was probably occurring and with all the rain they'd had that day, it had made the sea level rise faster than normal. What if the room flooded? He shook Alby awake. "Al, get up! We have to get out of here. "
Alby groaned. "No . . . I'm sleepy . . ."
"Get up!" Severus yelled. "I don't care if you're tired, get the hell up before you drown!"
That made Alby wake up. Blinking, he climbed to his feet. "Why are my shoes wet, Sevvy?"
"Because the ocean is flooding in here," Severus said, grabbing the rosewood box with the necklace in it and tucking it under his arm. "Come on, we have to go back up the tunnel." He grabbed Alby by the arm.
"Ouch!" his brother yelled.
"Sorry, I forgot about your scrape," Severus apologized. "Come on!"
Nursing his sore arm, Alby followed Severus back through the door. "How do we shut the door, Sevvy?"
"We can't. I'm not strong enough to close it," his brother admitted. "We just . . . have to hope the water doesn't come up this far." He backed away up the tunnel.
Alby began to whimper. "Where's Mummy and Daddy?"
"I don't know!" Severus snapped, losing his temper. "If I did, would I still be trapped here? They're in the house and they can't find us."
Alby's lower lip began to tremble. He hated it when Severus yelled at him. "They have to find us! You said so!"
"Well, I was wrong!" Severus growled. He glared at the smaller boy. "Don't you dare start bawling, Albus! Crying about it isn't going to help us. Got me?" His nerves were shot and he couldn't take seeing his little brother crying and not be able to do anything about it. Oh, how he hated being so helpless!
Alby sniffled, wiping frantically at his eyes. He didn't want Sevvy mad at him, but he was scared and he wanted his dad and mum so bad! He couldn't understand why they hadn't found him yet. They always had before. Two tears slid down his face before he could stop them. He squeezed his eyes shut. But more followed. "Sorry, Sevvy. I'm trying . . ."
Severus sighed, he regretted his outburst. He couldn't expect a four year old to act like an adult. "Forget it. I was stupid, go ahead and cry."
Surprisingly, Alby shook his head. "No. I'm brave." He crept next to Severus and hugged him.
"Like your dad," Severus whispered. He shut his eyes, thinking hard. The problem was that neither Harry nor Ginny knew about the tunnel and the secret room. Therefore they would never think to look behind the pantry wall. Severus had a feeling that the tunnel was probably warded from certain kinds of locator spells, otherwise the wizards who were the Brentwood's enemies would have found it long ago. So maybe Harry or Ginny couldn't use that kind of magic to find them. They had to be led to the tunnel.
A memory surfaced. During the war, when Harry and his friends had been hunted by the Ministry and had needed the Sword of Gryffindor to destroy the Horcruxes, Severus had gone and hidden the sword in the Black Lake. But Harry hadn't known where to look for it, and so Severus had sent out the silver doe, his Patronus, to show him the way. He had done that several times before Potter and his friends had finally caught on.
You can't cast a Patronus anymore, Snape, he reminded himself. That's advanced magic and you can't even light a candle. But then he recalled himself, newly back from the Veil, using his magic to shatter a vase and make its shards fly through the air in a deadly hail. His magic was the same then as it was now. He just had to access it. He knew the key to casting any spell was knowledge, power, and will. He had the first two. Now all he needed was the will to summon what he already possessed.
He had no wand, but he had cast wandless magic before, he was actually quite skilled at it. All it required was focus. With great need comes great power. And their need was dire.
He began to breathe slowly and intently, focusing his mind using meditation techniques. Here was where the iron discipline over mind and magic he had cultivated in his former life would help him the most. He focused his will and summoned up the rich bright core of his magic. He could feel the magic pulse through him, filling him with its glory. He concentrated hard, recalling his single happy memory of his beloved Lily together with him, and then he pointed a finger and cried, "Expecto Patronum!"
A fine white mist shot from his finger and coalesced into the shining silver doe.
"Sevvy, a deer!" Alby squealed.
Severus opened his eyes, a triumphant smile upon his face. "Go, find Harry and Ginny," he spoke to the doe. "Tell them we're in the tunnel behind the pantry wall. Push the second shelf down and it will open." He knew the Patronus would speak his words exactly as he had spoken them.
The silver doe bounded away, diving into the wall behind them and vanishing.
"Where'd it go?" Alby asked.
"To get help," Severus answered. He could feel the magic slowly draining out of him. He slumped to the ground. He was so tired . . . he barely had the strength to hold up his head. But he knew he had to maintain his connection to the doe. He felt his head spin, but forced himself to keep concentrating. He hadn't factored one thing into his equation-his child's body wasn't able to handle the power he'd summoned and it was rapidly being drained of energy.
"Sevvy? Why are you sitting on the floor?"
"Tired, Al . . ."
"You can't go to sleep, Sevvy!" his brother cried. He shook Severus' shoulder.
Severus could feel his eyes shutting despite his attempts to keep awake. It felt as if a huge rock was sitting on his chest. Colored lights began to flash in his vision. Stay awake . . . got to keep awake . . . he kept repeating that thought over and over, using it as a mantra to battle back the terrible exhaustion that threatened to overwhelm him.
Suddenly, the doe Patronus bounded back through the wall.
It landed beside Severus and disappeared into silver sparkles, its task accomplished.
The wall behind them slid open and Severus heard Harry and Ginny's voices. He gave a weary smile and then let himself slip into the realm of dreams.
Ginny had never been so glad to see her sons in her life. She ran to Alby and picked him up and hugged him so hard he almost couldn't breathe. "Oh, baby! You're all right! Thank Merlin!" she was so relieved, she was crying.
Alby saw the tears on her cheeks and he started sniffling. "Don't cry, Mummy. Sevvy and I got stuck in the wall and I missed you lots. I hurt my arm too." He showed her the bandaged arm.
"Poor baby! Mummy will make it better," Ginny crooned, carrying Alby back into the warmth of the kitchen, along with the lavender blanket.
Harry knelt next to Severus. "Sev, buddy, you all right?" He had been amazed when the Patronus had come through the wall. No child should have been able to conjure one, yet Severus had. He knelt and scooped the little boy into his arms. Severus appeared to be in a deep sleep. Harry also picked up a small leather book and the rosewood box.
As he moved back through the entrance to the tunnel, the pantry door swung closed.
He carried Severus into the kitchen, where he found Ginny healing a cut on Alby's arm as he sat on the table. "How is he?"
"Alby's fine, except for a scraped arm, which I just fixed," Ginny answered. She hugged her son again before putting the little boy down. "All better, love! Now you can go potty." As Alby raced off to the loo, she looked at Harry and asked, "How about Sevvy?"
"He's sleeping like the dead. That Patronus must have took a lot out of him," Harry answered. "I found these near him. They must have been down in the tunnel." He set the diary and the box on the table. "I'm going to put Sevvy to bed."
"Good idea. We can see if Alby wants dinner and then ask him about what happened."
Harry Apparated upstairs and put pajamas on the sleeping Severus before tucking him into bed. Harry set a Monitoring Charm over him in case the five-year-old woke and needed him. Then he went downstairs.
The three Potters ate a simple dinner of scrambled eggs, ham, and hash browns, since that was what Ginny was craving. Once they had eaten, and Ginny left a plate warming in case Severus woke up and was hungry, both parents talked to their son. Alby told them what had happened, but after he had done so, he was tired and Ginny rocked him until he fell asleep.
She carried Alby upstairs and put him in the bottom bunk. He was sound asleep, the adventure had worn him out. She kissed him on the forehead and then straightened, going to give Severus a kiss as well. But as soon as her lips brushed his skin, she drew back. "Harry, he's burning up!"
"Sevvy, he's burning up with a fever." Ginny repeated, drawing her wand. She cast a general diagnostic and gasped. "Bloody hell! Harry, his fever's so damn high!"
"How did that happen? He was fine when I put him to bed." Harry said, coming into the room and taking the boy out of bed. "God! Gin, run a cold bath. I'll see if I can get a potion down him." Harry summoned his potions kit and withdrew a vial of Fever Reducer from it and sat down in the chair by the desk, enlarging it with a word.
Then he tried to wake the nearly comatose child. "Sevvy, wake up. Come on, you have to take this, you're sick."
Severus groaned. He was burning and achy, but he was so tired he couldn't open his eyes. "Go . . . way . . ." he moaned.
"Sev, open up and swallow," Harry ordered.
Severus whimpered, but he obeyed.
Harry spooned the potion into his mouth, and waited until the child swallowed. "Good job!"
Severus sputtered at the taste, but Harry coaxed him to open his mouth again and swallow the rest of the vial. "Ick!"
"I know, tastes gross. But you need it, you have a fever."
At that moment, Severus began to shiver, chills wracking his small body. Alarmed, Harry carried him into the bathroom, where Ginny had run a cold bath and chilled it with conjured ice cubes. It was the fastest way Harry knew to bring down a fever in a small child besides potions. He removed Severus' pajamas and placed him in the water.
At first Severus didn't react, then all of a sudden he started whimpering and struggling. "C-cold! Too C-cold!"
"I know, but you need the cold water to take the fever away," Harry said, holding the boy in the water.
Severus fought. "Let me go!" he was barely aware of anything save the burning fever and the freezing cold.
Harry hushed him. "Easy, Sev." He looked at Ginny. "This is no ordinary fever."
"It's because he's exhausted his magical core," she stated. "He's got magical drain."
"Right. Should we try and take him to St. Mungos?"
"We can't, Harry. You can't Floo or Apparate people with significant magical drain, remember?" Ginny reminded him. "They draw upon a person's magic to work and it could kill him."
"And it's too far to fly to," Harry said. "See if you can contact Poppy Pomfrey."
"Okay. Be right back." Ginny said, and she left to Floo the mediwitch.
Harry kept Severus in the water for another fifteen minutes, and during that time the child stopped fighting him and just lay listlessly. That scared Harry even more than when Severus was fighting him. "Sev, you're going to be all right. You hear me? Nod if you can."
A tiny nod was the only response. Harry conjured a large fluffy towel and took the small boy from the water and wrapped him in it. The little body still burned with fever, but it was not as high, according to the diagnostic Harry cast. Still, he knew that the fever wouldn't go away until Severus' magical core was mended.
Ginny returned with Poppy in tow. She had had to explain to the mediwitch about Severus returning from the Veil before Poppy was convinced she wasn't delirious. But once the witch was convinced of Ginny's veracity, she came over immediately.
"Poppy, I've managed to bring down the fever," Harry began upon seeing her.
"Good, but he needs a good dose of Magic Replenisher, Harry. His magical core is dangerously low, if he's having this severe of a reaction." Poppy said, waving her wand over the child in Harry's arms. "As I thought. Harry, put him here, on the counter, on his stomach. I can't give him the potion orally, it'll take too long for his system to absorb it. He needs it immediately. So I'll have to inject it."
Harry did as she said, watching as Poppy prepped herself with disinfectant spells and filled a syringe with the Magic Replenisher, which was golden color. He stroked Severus' hair.
Poppy slid the needle into Severus' left buttock.
Severus yelled. "Owww!"
"Sorry, child. I know it hurts, but it has to be done," Poppy apologized. A red welt appeared on the little bottom.
Severus began to cry.
"Poppy, what the hell?" Harry cried, staring at the welt.
"That happens sometimes. He's sensitive to the potion," the mediwitch replied. She reached into her satchel and withdrew a jar of quick healing salve mixed with murtlap essence. She rubbed some of the translucent blue salve upon the welt and it began to heal.
As soon as the cooling gel was put on, Severus relaxed, and stopped crying. He lifted his head and whispered, "Harry . . . I don't feel well . . . my bottom hurts . . ."
"That's because Poppy had to give you a shot," Harry told him. "Lie still and it should go away. You have a bad case of magical drain." He patted the little boy on the head.
Severus craned his neck about until he was looking at Poppy. He scowled and growled, "Merlin, but don't you know how to give shots yet, Pomfrey?"
Poppy's eyes widened to hear that familiar tone coming from the small boy. "Severus, it really is you! For a moment I thought . . ."
"Of course it's me! Who else would it be?"
Poppy raised an eyebrow. "Same old Severus, I see. For your information, you have a sensitivity to the Magic Replenisher, that's why the injection hurt you. If I remember correctly, taking that particular potion always made you break out in hives."
Severus coughed. "That's why I always took an Allergy Reliever before it."
"Oh. I should have known that," Poppy said, a little chagrined. "Well, you need complete bed rest for a day at least, and another dose of Magic Replenisher again in four hours. I'll make sure there's an Allergry Relieving Draft with it. But you can take them orally this time."
"Good." Severus grunted. "Where are my pajamas?" He felt terribly embarrassed and vulnerable, lying naked on the counter with everyone staring at his bare bottom.
Harry quickly spelled a pair of pajamas and underpants on him. He cast a Drying Charm on Severus' hair as well. "Come on, Sevvy. Let's put you to bed." He picked up Severus carefully. Then he walked out of the bathroom.
"Harry, this isn't my room," Severus said when Harry put him down in a large bed. "Why am I in your bed?"
"Because you're sick and I want you nearby. So instead of me killing my neck and back sleeping in a chair all night in your room, I decided to put you in my room. The bed's big enough for you, me, and Ginny."
"What about Alby? He doesn't like to sleep alone."
"Right now he's out like a light. He probably won't wake up till tomorrow morning," Harry said calmly. "But if he does, he can come in here too." Harry tucked Severus into the middle of the big bed and Accio'd Mimic. "Here, Sev. Hug Mimic."
Severus rolled over on his tummy and hugged the stuffed raven. He wished suddenly that the bird was real. He wanted to tell Harry about the diary and the necklace, but he was too tired. His magical core had started to repair itself, but he was far from recovered. He closed his eyes and slept.
Ginny came in and placed the potions for Severus on the nightstand, as well as the jar of salve. "I figured you'd put him in here," she smiled at her husband. He had always done that when Alby was very ill also. She bent and kissed Severus on the forehead. "Good night, sweet Prince." There were tears in her eyes.
She went and hugged Harry, sniffling. "I . . . I thought we were going to lose him for a minute, Harry. I really did! He was like a furnace. After all he's been through . . . I still can't believe he cast a Patronus. That should have been impossible."
"Impossible isn't in Severus Snape's vocabulary," Poppy said, coming to stand beside them. "He's been doing the impossible since I first knew him."
Harry patted Ginny on the back. "Gin, don't cry. He's going to be fine."
Ginny sniffled, struggling to get her runaway emotions under control. "I don't know what's wrong with me. I'm never weepy like this. Must be stress or something."
"It's more than that," Poppy remarked, lowering her wand. "You're pregnant, Ginny."
The couple turned and gaped at her.
"She's what?" Harry sputtered.
"Pregnant," Poppy repeated. "Congratulations, Mr. Potter. You're going to be a father again."
A/N: Well, how did you like that one? My mom thought of using Sev's Patronus to call for help. I thought it was a brilliant idea. And yes, Ginny is pregnant with her second child. You'll have to wait and see what she has though! I will tell you, however, that it is NOT Lily. Lily comes back through the Veil like Severus and Sirius, as a child with some of her adult memories. Thank you all for reading!
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