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Chapter 16 : Rescue Me
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When Alexis arrived in the darkened street in front of Number 12 Grimmauld she was nearly knocked off her feet by the tidal wave of fear and despair emanating from inside of the house. If Severus hadn’t been standing so close to her and had been able to stabilize her by grabbing her by the elbow, she would have fallen to her knees by the force of the emotions.
“What’s wrong? Are you ill?” Severus asked in alarm.
The concern for her well-being coming from him allowed her to mentally collect herself and straighten up.
“I’m ok. But Harry is not. I can feel him from out here. He is scared, confused and has given up,” she muttered.
As she looked up at Severus she saw his face change from gentle concern to angry determination. He nodded at her dropped her arm and walked up to the front door of the cursed house.
“I would stay back a bit as I try to break through these curses. Unfortunately, it is a common practice for death eaters to layer curses one on top of the other in order to make them harder to break through,” he stated grimly.
Alexis nodded and took several steps backward as Severus raised his wand and started to mutter to himself. She watched in anticipation as he softly spoke one spell after another and she could sense his growing frustration as each failed to counteract the curse that was holding Harry in it’s grips.
Finally after what felt like hours she sensed the overwhelming relief flowing off of him that signified to her that the magical barriers had been broken through. She ran up the steps ready to burst into the house and was surprised when she was blocked from the door by his out-stretched arm.
“Hey! Come on we need to get in there!” she gasped.
Severus took a deep breath and said, “I understand, however, neither of us will be any good to Harry if we barge on in and get ourselves maimed or killed by whatever physical traps might be waiting for us inside, now will we?”
Alexis took a careful step back from his arm and said desperately, “So what do you suggest? His pain has intensified to a disturbing level with the sudden return of his senses, which means we need to get to him, like now.”
“Since I know this house fairly well and know what to look for, I will go in and get him, while you wait here for us to come back out,” he said fiercely.
She stared up at him in astonishment. Did he truly expect her to just sit here helplessly waiting to for them to come back out? But even as the question formed insider her head she sensed his resolve and determination as he carefully opened the door and proceeded inside the dark house.
She waited for several very long moments to allow Severus to be able to advance far enough inside the house, before she drew her wand and silently followed him. She found herself in a long dark hallway but saw no sight of either Harry or Severus. She slowly made her way down the hallway listening carefully for any signs of either of them.
As she crept closer she began to hear a soft, but distant whimpering, which apparently had caught the attention of Severus as he appeared at the end of the hallway from what she soon noticed was a dining room, and startled Alexis.
“I thought I told you to wait outside,” Severus snarled in a whisper.
Alexis did not bother to give him and answer as she gestured towards the small staircase leading down at the very end of the hall. With a sigh Severus turned and began to lead the way down the steps.
The staircase was dark and narrow, which prohibited her from seeing around Severus as they made their way down into the kitchen. The sound of the violent curses that erupted out of his mouth however as he entered the kitchen and caught sight of Harry lying on the floor turned was enough to turn her blood to ice.
As Severus ran to his side, Alexis could see that Harry was curled up in the fetal position trying to simultaneously hold his arms over his eyes and his ears. He was covered in cuts and bruises most likely caused by him flopping around the cramped kitchen unable to feel anything, and he was mumbling incoherently to himself.
For several agonizing moments, Alexis found herself frozen in place unsure of what she needed to do. The fears and insecurities that she had experienced in her nightmare all came flooding back to her. How in the world was she supposed to know what to do to help Harry? This was way out of her area of expertise.
As the tears began welling up in her eyes, she caught sight of Severus talking quietly to Harry in a soothing voice being careful not to touch him or doing anything to over-stimulate his already strung-out senses. Standing there watching him, he saw him lift his his head and he met her gaze. In that brief moment his eyes acted as open portal to his heart and his feelings showing her an unmistakable plea for help mixed with what she could only describe as absolute trust in her and her abilities. She felt her fear melt away and her feet unfroze from the floor as she rushed to kneel beside Severus.
“We have to get him out of here,” Severus whispered.
Alexis nodded. “It doesn’t seem like he’s physically hurt besides these superficial scratches, but I really am worried about trying to move him like this. If his senses aren’t acclimated slowly, his mind could just shut down and just start blocking everything out which could lead to permanent damage.”
“Well where should we bring him? I really don’t want to bring him to St Mungo’s. He really doesn’t need the kind of publicity that would bring,” Severus mused.
“We can bring him back to the manor,” Alexis decided. “It’ll be much easier for us to control the environment, plus it’ll be more comfortable for him there when he wakes.”
She looked down upon the still writhing Harry and waved her wand over his body to do a cursory diagnostic check to assure herself that he wasn’t physically harmed. She then silently cast her mood stabilizing charm over him, and was pleased when she saw his trembling cease.
“The protection charms that Black had established on the house are still standing strong, which means we will have to get him outside to apparate. Do you think he’ll be able to handle a side-along?” Severus asked.
Alexis didn’t answer him. Instead she touched her wand lightly to Harry’s forehead and muttered, “Soporium”
As she had hoped, Harry’s mutterings simmered out and his body stopped the writhing. His breathing evened out and his face showed signs of being at peace and calm.
“A sleeping charm? Impressive. Those are not easy to master,” Severus commented quietly.
“I’ve had a lot of practice at it working with children. I don’t usually like to try it on adults since it is harder to regulate, but I really don’t see any other option right now,” she relied.
Severus very gingerly scooped up the sleeping Harry, as Alexis stood and began to lead the way up the stairs and back into the dark hallway.
Walking towards the front door she found herself looking around and taking in her surroundings. She was suddenly very much aware that this was the house of her mother’s brother. She had heard stories about the Black family and what they were like, but being inside this house really seemed to reiterate the type of people that they truly had been. For so long, she had longed to be a part of the family that she had been exiled from, but as she walked through the house she began to feel as if maybe she had been lucky to have not been associated with these kind of people. She couldn’t help but wonder how much different of a person she may have turned out to be.
Shaking her head to clear the thoughts from her mind she glanced behind her and saw Severus looking awkward as he tried to hold Harry away from his body. She wasn’t sure if he was just feeling weird holding the sleeping boy or if he was just trying to minimize contact for the sake of Harry’s senses. Regardless of his reasons she could feel the intense worry and fear that he was struggling to mask for this young man that he had spent so much time despising. She also sensed confusion, exhaustion and even some guilt. For some unexplainable reason, the mess of emotions that Severus was juggling brought a small smile to Alexis’s face that she hoped would go unnoticed as they reached the sidewalk outside and disapparated to the safety of the manor.
The headache that finally woke Harry was easily the worst he had ever experienced. He forced his eyes open and was surprised to see that he was back in his room at Prewett Manor. No. That couldn’t be. The last thing he knew he had been stranded at Grimmauld Place. So how did he end up here?
He sat up in bed, which he immediately knew was the wrong thing to do. The pain in his head became too much and he began to vomit over the side of his bed. Once the contents of his stomach was expelled onto the floor he brought himself back up and laid down on his bed trying not to move his head too much more than necessary.
He heard his bedroom door open, but he didn’t dare trying to move to see who it was in case he became nauseous again.
“How are you feeling, Harry?” Alexis whispered as she knelt next to the bed so he could see her.
He tried to shake his head but instead whispered, “My head hurts.”
“I imagine it does,” she replied sympathetically. She reached over him and produced a glass full of a bright blue liquid. “Here. Severus was kind enough to brew this up for you.”
A million questions were trying to formulate in his aching brain, but he pushed them aside as he accepted the cup and drank the bitter, cool liquid. The potion began to work almost immediately. The dizziness began to subside, his stomach settled and the pounding in his brain faded away. He sighed in relief as he relaxed into his pillow and looked around his room.
He was surprised to see Professor Snape standing next to his bed. He supposed he was probably cross with him for missing his appointments and immediately realized that he had most likely blown his chances at the auror program. He shut his eyes to avoid meeting his gaze and wished that he could just disappear. After everything Snape had done to help him out, he had gone and gotten himself in a bind and ruined it all.
“Are you going to be ill again?” Snape asked quietly.
“No, sir,” he murmured without opening his eyes. “How did I get here?”
“When you didn’t show up at the Ministry, Severus came to the house looking for you. When Kreacher told us where you were we hurried to find you.” Alexis said softly. “Thankfully he was able to break through the curses.”
“Harry,” Snape began, “What in the world prompted you to go back to that house despite Kreacher’s warnings? Do you truly have a death wish?”
“Severus…” Alexis said with a warning tone.
“It’s ok. I know I was stupid,” Harry said feeling as though he needed to defend Alexis. “I was just trying to get away from the people at the ministry and didn’t stop and think.”
“What people?” Snape asked sharply.
Harry opened his eyes fearfully and looked up at Snape. “I’m not sure, sir. There was a crowd of people who kept asking me questions and wanting to talk to me. As more people arrived at the Ministry they just joined in. I-I- panicked. I tried to get through the crowd, but they just kept pushing me back, so I just backed up until I was a fireplace and went to the first place that I could think of.”
Harry closed his eyes waiting to be scolded for his thoughtlessness, but all that followed was silence. He slowly opened his eyes and saw Alexis and Snape engaged in some sort of silent exchange of looks and expressions. Much to his surprise and amusement it looked as though Alexis was winning, since Snape was wearing a grim and almost guilty expression.
After what seemed like forever Snape finally spoke, “This is a situation that I should have better anticipated. Be certain that I will be speaking to Kingsley about this although I doubt there is much that can be done. Until further notice, Harry, it might be best if you do not venture out in the wizarding public without having someone with you. While it may not stop these imbeciles from harassing you, it may be enough to help you get out of such situations in the future.”
Harry nodded his head feeling relieved. He supposed he should have been upset that he was still being treated like a child, but couldn’t think about it like that. He had been avoiding going out anywhere since the incident at Diagon Alley for precisely this reason and he felt certain that he wouldn’t be so intimidated if he had someone with him.
As he pondered this, another more pressing issue intruded in on his musings.
“Sir,” he began timidly, “Am I out of the auror program now?”
Snape looked at him with a bewildered expression. “Whatever do you mean boy? Surely you do not think that this would disqualify you in some way!”
Harry didn’t look at him. “I missed the appointments that you set up,” he mumbled.
“Oh. Well I don’t see anything stopping you from heading to the ministry in a couple days to accomplish what needs to be done. I daresay, that no one will dare deny you anything,” he said dryly.
Harry immediately began to feel his pulse quicken at the thought of having to go to the Ministry again so soon. Even with someone with him, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to face those people again.
The sound of Alexis’s voice interrupted his thoughts. “What’s wrong Harry?”
Thankfully he was saved from answering when Snape spoke up. “I will come by to pick you up in a couple of days after you have had some time to recover a bit more from your ordeal.”
“Yes, sir,” Harry replied gratefully. He knew that if Snape went with him, people would be sure to leave him alone.
With a nod to Alexis, Snape rose and made his way to the door. Alexis tucked the covers around Harry’s shoulders, much to his embarrassment, and followed Snape’s lead.
As Harry began to settle back in his bed and close his eyes Snape said, “Oh and Harry? I would expect, based on recent events that you have learned to take warnings for the sake of your safety more seriously?”
“Yes, sir.” Harry mumbled. “And thank you.”
“Hm,” was Snape’s only response before shutting the door.
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