Chapter 18 : Compassionate Safeguards
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Ever since the incident at the ministry, which had resulted in his entrapment at Grimmauld Place, Harry had been feeling vulnerable and weak. He felt foolish that he had been overwhelmed so easily and wanted to desperately get himself into a position where he would be able to get out of such situations in the future. He had been assured, by Snape, that by the time his auror training would be over he would easily be able to know how to not only react in similar situations that may arise, but also how to better avoid them all together.
Throughout the past month Snape had been a regular visitor at the Prewett Manor. For the first couple of days following Harry’s rescue, Snape had all but lived at the Manor. He had taken over one of the rooms down the hall, but Harry had seen very little of him during this time. Once in the middle of the night Harry had woken up and had thought that he had seen Snape pacing back & forth in front of the window in his room, but he knew that he must have just been dreaming.
A week after Harry’s incident Snape had come to Prewett Manor to escort him to the ministry to get his auror paperwork and security clearance paperwork finished. Harry, naturally, had been incredibly nervous about the excursion and had barely slept the night before. He had tried assuring himself that nothing would happen to him with Snape with him, but these thoughts only brought new ones that involved Snape sneering at him and taunting him.
By the time that Snape had arrived in the morning and had joined Harry & Alexis for breakfast, Harry had been a complete nervous wreck. So much so that he didn’t notice that unspoken conversation that had taken place between Alexis & Snape. He did, however, recognize the effects of the mood stabilizing charm that had been silently cast over him and had been immediately grateful with a touch of embarrassment. But he dismissed that embarrassment quickly by reminding himself that Alexis was only trying to help.
When Harry had arrived at the Ministry via side-along apparition, the anxiety returned almost immediately before even getting his bearings. His presence was loudly announced by an overly excited, plump witch that shouted “Harry Potter is here!” as she rushed to try to shake his hand. Before Harry could even register what it was that was happening however, Snape had stepped in front of Harry blocking the witch access to him as he glared down at the woman menacingly. Having been, often times in the past, on the receiving end of those glares, Harry almost felt sorry for the woman as she backed away, apologized and hurried on her own way.
It did not take long to realize just how intimidating his escort truly was as they walked through the halls of the ministry to their various destinations. The whispering and staring was still present, but there were only a few brave souls that had attempted to approach Harry. There was a bit of a tense moment as they loaded onto a crowded lift, that the panic began to set in for Harry as several questions and words of thankful appreciation were thrown his way. The surprising feel of the firm hand being placed on his shoulder immediately squelched his rising anxiety before he had barely had time to register his fears. While Snape didn’t let his hand linger long on his shoulder he was grateful to know that he was there. He even found that he was able to politely thank everyone for the kind words as he exited the elevator and endure the rest of the day remarkably well.
Several days later Snape had resumed his role as chaperone/bodyguard as Harry and the trainees met up at St Mungo’s for their physicals and medical clearance processes. Despite being of age in the wizarding world, Ron, Neville, Seamus and Dean had all been accompanied by a parental figure or a guardian, which had immediately made Harry astutely aware of how alone he truly was.
As each of his friends were called to go back into a room with a healer, Harry’s anxiety increased. He tried to calm his fears by assuring himself that there was nothing that he could be asked that he could not answer or clarify himself, but his anxiety only increased.
By the time his name had been called to go back into an examination room, Harry’s heart was pounding so fast that he had been certain that it was going to just explode inside his chest. His vision had begun to narrow and black dots appeared before his eyes as he stood to follow the assistant to his room.
As walked into the examination room practicing the deep breathing techniques that Alexis had shown him he realized that Snape had followed him into the room. The relief washed over him like a warm blanket as he heard the assistant address his former teacher.
“Excuse me, sir, but I’m afraid I am going to have to ask you to wait in the waiting room until Healer Gorgison is finished with Mr. Potter.”
“I am here to serve as a guardian figure for Mr. Potter in the obvious absence of any other eligible candidates,” Snape had replied coolly.
The assistant turned and had addressed Harry skeptically and had asked him if this was correct. Despite Harry’s repeated reassurances the assistant still seemed unsure, but had wisely refrained from voicing further objections.
Once the healer had come into the room and had begun his questioning, Harry was immensely relieved to have Snape with him. This physical was nothing like any of the few muggle ones that he had gone through previously in his life and had found himself unable to answer many of the questions that he had been asked.
Growing up in a muggle family he soon learned that there had been a whole plethora of wizarding diseases and conditions that he had never heard of or encountered that was typical in most wizarding children. The healer had tried convincing Harry that he needed to be inoculated against these childhood diseases, but Snape had been able to convince him against such actions. While Harry had been unsure what inoculation against these diseases would have involved he was glad that someone had been there to intervene on his behalf.
The medi-wizard took twice as long with Harry as had been done with the rest of the trainees, which Harry had mused had been because he had wanted a full explanation and description of the events that had resulted in every scrap, bruise or scar that he had on his body. Several times Harry could have sworn he had heard a low growl coming from the corner of the room that Snape was standing in, but he had convinced himself that he imagined it. When the healer had reached the most identifying scar on his forehead, Snape finally spoke up questioning the validity of the questions. With a gulp and an apology the healer cleared Harry for entrance into the auror program and dismissed him back to the waiting area.
Much to his surprise, Snape had sent Harry along ahead claiming that he needed to have a word with the healer and that he would not be far behind him. As Harry had left the room, the audible gulp from the healer made him fight back a giggle. True to his word it was only a couple minutes before Snape joined the group and they all retreated to Prewett Manor for another enjoyable dinner party.
Harry hadn’t been sure how much longer after all of his friends had left that Snape had stayed that night, but after that night he became a regular guest for dinners and sometimes even for lunch. It had been following one of these lunches that a surprise visitor from the ministry came to the manor.
Unbeknownst to Harry, Snape had arranged to have someone come to the house to administer his apparition test. Since Harry had been on the run since his seventeenth birthday he hadn’t had the chance to take his test like his fellow classmates. Honestly he had almost forgotten about needing to take the test since he had already apparated so much in the past year, but he was grateful that Snape had arrange for the testing session.
Harry quickly finished his breakfast and hurried out onto the lawn in order to avoid being late for his first day of physical conditioning. That was the LAST thing that he wanted to especially after everything that Snape had down for him in the past few weeks. For the first time in his life he actually felt like there were people looking out for him and concerned about what happened to him and he did not want to let either Snape or Alexis down in anyway.
Smiling to himself he realized how foreign these kind of thoughts were to him. He had become more than accustomed to fumbling through life on his own, that it was a completely foreign idea to him that anyone else would be stepping in to share the load with him. The fact that Snape was one of those people looking out for him, had at first seemed to be some kind of cruel joke. It had taken him some time to feel as though he could actually let his guard down and trust that he wasn’t the evil git that he had once assumed him to be for so long. Since the Grimmauld Place incident, however, Snape’s presence had become crucial for Harry to feel safe and secure both at the house and out in public.
With a quiet chuckle and a shake of his head Harry turned on the spot and disappeared with a pop.
Alexis sighed and slammed her papers down on her desk. When Severus had asked her to teach the auror candidates basic living saving spells, she never in a million years could have guessed that it would be so complicated. She had spent years studying and working in a variety of wizarding and muggle hospitals and she was still learning new spells and procedures. So how was she supposed to “dummy down” everything she had learned and try to determine what was considered essential?
She mentally reminded herself to have a stern word or two with Severus the next time she saw him, and then made her way into the library. She wasn’t sure what potions were kept in stock at the infirmary at Hogwart’s, but she wanted get started brewing some of the more time consuming ones to have on hand before term started.
As she searched the shelves for the books she needed she found herself unable to concentrate. So much had changed in the past several weeks leaving her feeling like she was running a race and is unable to catch up to the leaders. She felt lost and confused, but surprisingly happier than she had felt in a very long time.
Since they had rescued Harry from Grimmauld Place, Alexis felt as though something had changed between her and Severus, although she was quite unable to pinpoint exactly what it was. She supposed that it could just be the way that he acted. He was more social and talkative, although still seemed a bit reserved when it came to anything relating to his past. She also had realized that he smiled more. She had even witnessed him laughing on an occasion or two.
The biggest difference that she had seen in Severus, was simply that he seemed more relaxed. Even when he was around Harry he seemed to be less judgmental and harsh, although he still seemed to be somewhat wary of the things he said or did around him. At least he had stopped referring to him as “Potter” or worse “The Boy”. He appeared to spend a lot of time observing him almost like he was trying to figure him out or understand him.
Regardless of what it was that had prompted this change in Severus’s behavior, she had decided that she liked it. As much as she hadn’t wanted to admit it she had become lonely. Living in this house seemed to serve as an unwelcome reminder of the life that she had been excluded from as a child and made her miss the only people that she had ever known as parents.
Ever since returning from The States, Alexis’s guilt from her abandonment of her adopted parents had been weighing on her with increasing intensity. Her dreams were plagued with the memories of her mother pleading with her to stay. After he father had died her mother had tried again to convince Alexis to move back, but by that point she had already been well established at the wizarding hospital in New York. At least that is what she had told herself at the time.
Her father’s death was during the height of the first wizarding war and Alexis was scared. She had heard stories from across the pond about how horrible things had gotten, but it wasn’t until she had returned for her father’s funeral that she realized how bad things had been. Dumbledore had tried then to convince her to stay and help out at St Mungo’s but she had refused him claiming that she was needed elsewhere.
Thinking back now, she could admit, if only to herself, that her reluctance to stay had very little to do with her job in The States. She had just not been able to allow herself to care what was going on over here. The society that she had been rejected from and treated so horribly by as a young witch both in and out of school, was being torn apart and terrorized by some of the same people that had contributed to the humiliations she had faced. This had only proven to her at the time that she had been right to leave.
Even now, she wished that she could feel some sort of sympathy or shame from her abandonment of her fellow witches and wizards, but she could conjure up anything but relief and even a sense of justification that supported her decision to leave. Sure she could bring herself to care about people like Harry, whose parents sacrificed their lives to bring an end to the violence, but that was about the extent of her concerns for the matter.
Her only hope presently was that she would be able to use her new position at Hogwart’s as a chance to help spot those individuals that demonstrated similarly destructive and cruel behaviors towards their fellow classmates and be able to put a stop to them before someone else’s life was damaged as hers had been. She knew that her position as the medi-witch would not allow her as much exposure to the students as she would like, but she was fairly certain that she would be able to have at least a moderate effect based on the various admissions of hexed or harassed students to the hospital wing.
While she wasn’t feeling one-hundred percent confident that she could actually have any significant impact on how the students at Hogwarts were treated by their classmates, she found herself clinging desperately to that idea that she could do something to chance things.
As the time for the re-opening of the school and the upcoming semester drew ever nearer, Alexis knew that her hope, however small it may be, of being able to help even one student from avoiding what she had gone through, was the only thing preventing her from running away back to the safety and anonymity of her previous life in The States.
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