To Make It All OK - (part 5) Chapter 4: Keeping Face
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Title: To Make It All OK - Chapter 5: Keeping Face
Fandom: Harry Potter
Characters: Pretty much everyone, but mainly Harry and Snape centric (Not slash)
Almost instantly, his body relaxes into the bed and with half-open eyes, he stops struggling. It’s like the energy has been sucked out of him like blood through a needle.
No energy to move.
No energy to speak.
No energy to think.
No energy to hold up the glamours anymore...
Chapter 4: Keeping Face
As Harry stills in the bed, the room is filled with the sound of relieved sighs. However, the brief moment of relief is cut short as, even in the dim, artificial light of the infirmary, Snape sees a change in the boy’s face.
“...Severus...” Poppy says shakily, eyes fixed on Harry. Snape’s brow furrows deeply, but he doesn’t say a word.
Slowly, Harry’s pale complexion begins to change; the ghostly white fading, only to be replaced by a sickly purple-grey that seems to bleed through his skin. As the colour reaches his right eye, it blackens like smudged charcoal. His lips, now dry and chapped, begin to split and scar as though they’re lined with tiny, vertical paper cuts. At the sight of Harry’s rapidly yellowing jaw, Poppy lets out a disbelieving breath and looks once more to Snape, her eyes begging for an answer to the many questions buzzing through her head.
There is no answer.
Snape’s legs feel heavy, as though he’s spent hours standing on his feet, when in reality, mere seconds have passed. For a brief moment, his mask cracks as he watches the dirty colours grow over one another on Harry’s skin, weaving and layering, blending and swelling.
In his life, Snape has managed to remain stoic through everything from the deaths of the people around him, to Death Eater attacks on happy and innocent muggle families, but now, he can feel his carefully constructed guise corroding at the edges. Everything’s wrong here. The whole damn situation is wrong.
He starts as a shaky breath to his left reminds him that Minerva is still in the room, and by her expression and the slight quiver of her lips, Snape can tell she too is struggling to remain calm.
Clearing his throat, he sucks in a breath and takes charge.
“Minerva, fetch the Headmaster.” Her wide eyes show no sign that she’s heard him. Swiftly, he turns his body and places himself in front of her, breaking her focus. “Minerva, leave this to Poppy and I. Please fetch the Headmaster.”
Without a word, she strides shakily to the infirmary door, pausing once to glance back and worry over the small boy in the bed. When the clacking of McGonagall’s heels fades down the hall, Snape runs a hand through his oily black locks and releases a low and troubled sigh.
He watches as Poppy peels back the covers on the boy’s bed, untangles him from his shirt and begins noting down the injuries. The list is so long. She pauses, taking in the state of Harry’s body and trying hard not to imagine just how he’s managed to end up this way.
“He’s just a child, Severus,” she says out of nowhere, eyes still fixed on the bruises. Snape doesn’t speak. At this moment, there is nothing in the world to say. Nothing even remotely right. As he steps up to the bed once more, he says nothing as Poppy’s fingers carefully brush the stray fringe from Harry’s face. He says nothing as her fingers trace the outline of the thickest bruise. He says nothing, but Poppy’s words are fast rattling through his mind like a throng of Cornish Blue Pixies.
A child, he thinks. He’s a child. Just a child.
And behind his stoic mask, he can’t fight off the sharp pangs of guilt for harbouring so many ill-thoughts of the boy.
Control yourself, Severus, his own mind admonishes. The boy doesn’t exactly make it hard for you to dislike him.
Hearing his name, he blinks and clears his mind, opting to feel nothing instead of thinking everything at once.
“I’ve checked his front; I need help turning him,” Poppy says, her hands already resting softly on Harry’s naked shoulder.
“Of course.” Tugging the rest of the blanket out of the way, Snape takes a firm hold of Harry’s legs and lets Poppy count...1...2...3.
A split second is all it takes. An unintelligible sound from Poppy’s lips as she stares in horror at the sheets. Red. Deep, rose red.
“Hold him still, Severus,” she says, her stern voice cracking in the middle.
Keeping Harry on his side, Snape moves a hand towards the boy’s back, and he carefully begins peeling the sticky, bloodstained shirt from his body.
The things you get yourself into, Potter...reckless Gryffindor through and through, his mind murmurs gravely – not yet ready to relinquish the strong sense of loathing he’s felt for so long.
Dropping the sodden shirt to the floor, Snape does his best to remain calm when he sees the gashes littering the boy’s back; some still bleeding, others old and crusted black. The scarring is the worst and Snape finds himself wondering just how old they are.
When Poppy returns with the Blood Replenishing potion, her shock is tangible and Snape finds himself having to take charge once more – taking the potion and administering it himself. He spells new sheets onto the bed and quickly cleans Harry’s wounds, ordering Poppy to fetch him the equipment, if only to get her out of the room to allow her a moment to compose herself.
When Snape has finished and Harry is settled back under the clean covers, the silence in the infirmary hits the professor’s ears like a new kind of bliss; warm and consoling, like nothing has even happened. If not for the boy in the bed and the nurse at his side, he might even think he imagined it.
“I’d better fetch the bruise salve,” Poppy says, her voice empty and devoid of any emotion.
“Do not apply it until the Headmaster has seen. Perhaps he might be able to shed some light.”
As Poppy sidles out, Snape frowns, surveying the damage for himself, paying particular attention to Harry’s face. Though not irreparable, he realises that the damage is likely to take weeks to fully mend. The boy’s back doesn’t even bear thinking about.
The energy needed to cover up such injuries...Merlin. If nothing else, Potter, you are certainly adept at glamour charms.