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Lucid Intervals 1/4 (unfinished) HP/SS

Title: Lucid Intervals
Author: Sundara
Pairing: HP/SS
Rating: Adult
Word Count: 17,127 (unfinished)
Summary: Harry’s magic talents mature earlier than usual, and the consequences last for years.
 
A/N: Originally begun many years ago for the Severus Snape Fuh-Q Fest Scenario #127: Neither Snape nor his partner are loud/vocal during shagging.  In a moment of personal clarity, I had to admit to myself I'm probably never going to finish this story...which makes a part of me very sad, because I adore it, I love what I wrote, but...it's not where my head's at anymore. So...here it is, just because I think it deserves to be seen and read. And, if anyone perchance actually falls in love with it and wants to take a stab at writing the rest of it, hell, go for it! Just let me know, and I'll tell you what I know about what I had planned, if you want. So, with no further ado, here's my languishing, errant Harry Potter/Severus Snape story. 




Lucid Intervals

He is mad past recovery, but yet he has lucid intervals.
                                                 ~ Miguel de Cervantes

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
November of Harry's 7th year

Severus walked slowly through Hogwarts' grounds after gaining entry past the layers of protective wards. He breathed in the damp night air, redolent of unspoiled earth and greenery, gradually ridding himself of the metallic tang and burnt stench that clung in his nostrils like leeches.

What a hellish night, yet one more in the list of nights spent thus over the past many years. One joy, at least─no one had followed him back, of that he was quite certain. The others had been too...preoccupied. When the evening’s events had waned, he’d wasted no time leaving the ancient estate far, far behind him. Not far enough, though, never far enough, despite Apparating half-way across the British Isle.

It was always hardest, returning here. Leaving had become easy after these many years. What was the worst that could happen? Cruciatus? Death? Even that threat no longer carried the weight it once did, possibly something to do with familiarity and contempt.

But the coming back.... It got harder each time. He hated it, hated the struggle he fought, the effort it cost him. Hated the way he felt upon returning. He was filled with the taste of hate, seething with it. Despite using various charms to rid his clothing and person of any lingering physical reminders, the images of the past evening remained vivid in Severus' mind. The presence of filth and rot penetrated far deeper than mere skin.

Severus spoke the necessary unlocking spell, and an unremarkable side door in the castle swung wide. Without a sound, he swept through the silent, empty corridors and headed for the dungeons. Dumbledore’s report could be delayed. Severus' need, however, could not.

His boot heels and robe whispered over cold, gray stone as Severus trod wearily down the hall. Perhaps tonight, time to use his latest decoction of wrack root and Dragon's Breath. The potion was drastic, but he believed drastic measures were called for tonight. The results would help him to...refocus.

A sound behind him in the lower corridor captured his attention briefly as he paused halfway to his door. Filch and Mrs. Norris, or--he grimaced--possibly one of his bolder Slytherins, out well past curfew.

Severus quickened his steps. He would leave them to Filch's tender mercies. He definitely did not want to come face to face with one of the (as yet) innocents of Hogwarts at the moment. With a few whispered words, his door opened. Severus sighed in relief and disappeared into the familiar dark.

An hour later, as he left his rooms, Severus' hair hung damply around his lined face and clean robes whispered around his slow, very careful strides. Dumbledore still waited. Severus now felt prepared to sit calmly in the Headmaster's lair and participate in yet another surreal little chat, talking of death and worse over dainty cups of tea and biscuits. He hated this ritual, but Dumbledore always insisted firmly when Severus refused the amenities.

The steps up through the Great Hall to the Headmaster's office seemed endless tonight. Severus was tired; his body ached. He wanted nothing more than a large dose of Dreamless Sleep potion after his meeting, and a day far away from the classes filled with bright, chattering faces on the morrow, a luxurious thought.

An obvious noise on the landing caught his attention, and Severus' annoyance flared hot. Whoever was out from Slytherin tonight would feel the weight of his displeasure. He was in no mood for games and childish pranks.

Without looking up, he continued up the stairs, ears attuned to the slightest sound. There, just around the banister, yes-- His hand shot out to the side, tangling in warm material, and he yanked his fistful forward.

“What do we have here....” His words drifted off as he stared at empty hands. Slow anger heated quickly to simmering.

“Mister Potter.” With a flick of his wrist, he slid the Invisibility cloak from a solid form. Mussed black hair slid into view. “Recent events not withstanding, you are still a student in this institution for six more months, not a member of staff with the privilege of roaming wherever and whenever you choose.”

Green eyes gleamed accusation from behind glasses. “You went out tonight. To him. By yourself .”

Severus glared at him. “I believe that information lies outside your purview, Mister Potter. As does this corridor at three o'clock in the morning .”

Potter drew himself up to his full height, a steely look in his eyes. “Then you need to tell that to Voldemort. He's the one making it my business.” Harry thrust up the hair falling over his forehead with an angry jerk, exposing the red-tinged scar.

The nasty retort gathering in Severus' mouth stuck behind a pursed mouth. He knew well the pain it rendered when that cold, scaly bastard used his power. “It is very late, Potter. I will grant you a certain allowance for being under...strain.” A sudden wave of exhaustion swept through Severus, and he released his hold on the young man. “Now go see Madam Pomfrey, or go to bed. It's over.” He turned toward the steps, suddenly wanting nothing more than Dumbledore's fireplace and the chair awaiting him.

 “It may be over for tonight. But we both know there will be a next time.” A hand as determined as Harry's expression closed on Severus' arm to detain him.

Severus flinched, and a wince of pain crossed his face before he could control it.

Harry's gaze narrowed. “You're hurt.”

Severus twisted his arm out of Potter's grasp. “I'm fine, Potter,” he gritted out. “Leave now before I reconsider my regrettable leniency.”

Harry gave him an uncomfortably knowing look. He grabbed Severus' wrist tightly and shoved the sleeve of his robe high up his arm. And gaped. “Your skin...it's red. Like it's...burnt .”

“Potter, release me at once.” Severus struggled in vain against determined young muscles honed by years of Quidditch practice.

Harry ignored him, too busy attempting to disrobe him. “So is your other arm. And your neck, and your chest--”

“Potter, what in the name of Merlin do you think you're doing? Stop this immediately!” Severus couldn't reach his wand with both wrists held tightly in Potter's hand, and a part of his mind began running through various spells to cast without it. Preferably one that left Potter hog-tied and gagged, in his short pants, hanging from the Great Hall rafters.

Unmoved by Severus' anger, Harry stopped running his free hand over Severus' body and stood nose-to-nose with him. Obnoxiously dramatic Gryffindor outrage turned his eyes to molten emerald. “Just what did that bastard do to you? Your skin's burnt all over!”

Severus set his jaw, ignoring the pain where Potter grasped his wrists. “Twenty points from Gryffindor for being out of line...you presume too much, Potter. Our enforced work together this past year does not grant you the personal liberties you've taken. Now either release me, or add a few more bruises to the ones you've already left.”

The barb flew straight and true, and Potter drew in a sharp breath, loosening his grip immediately. “You've got to see Madam Pomfrey right away.”

“I'm fine, Potter,” Severus clenched his jaw against the combined pain and mounting exhaustion sweeping through him. Unfortunately, although the pain helped him focus, a weakness swept in and countered any clarity he achieved. “I simply need to talk to the Headmaster. Immediately.”

If he had been thinking straight, Severus realized, he would not have found himself back against the wall while Potter gently held him, his gaze so very earnest and intent. “You need to go see Madame Pomfrey now, Professor. I'll go get Professor Dumbledore.”

He started at Potter’s wide, intense eyes, his mind whirling uncomfortably, and opened his mouth. “I need to see Pomfrey,” Severus agreed, and frowned. Wait. He tried to think, but Potter's green eyes gleamed at him. Something wasn't right, but Severus couldn't think straight enough to figure out what it was.

“You can't just ignore it when that bastard injures you. I--We need you. There's so much I don’t know...you've got to finish what you've started.”

“Finish what we've started...” he breathed weakly, unable to move, and for some reason, not concerned. Odd. The pain had receded, blurring his clarity even further. All he knew was green, green moving closer....

“Uh,” Harry breathed, his gaze locked on Severus' wide eyes. “Lots of unfinished things. But right now, you need medical attention.”

“I need attention...” Severus parroted dumbly.

Harry shook his head, frowning. “You're being very agreeable, Professor. It’s definitely not right. Appealing, though.”

Severus smiled back. “Appealing...”

Harry sighed. “Go on, please. Go see Pomfrey. I'll get Dumbledore.”

Severus turned to walk down the stairs toward the hospital wing.

“Wait!”

Severus stopped immediately at the sound of Harry's voice rumbling softly behind him.

“...once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Severus turned back and warm breath feathered his face just before firm lips touched his briefly, pulled back, then swooped in again to plunder his mouth in a very thorough way. When the mouth disappeared, he blinked, surprised and vaguely lost. Green blinked at him, then he found himself surrounded by a warm, lithe body as a hot mouth sucked the breath from his lungs. His back thudded gently against the cold stone wall, setting off sparks of pain where it scraped through the robe to his irritated skin. But the pain seemed very distant, far away and underneath the pleasure of warm mouth and tongue invading him, sharp teeth worrying his lower lip and the skin on his neck, strong hands burrowing in his hair, digging into his scalp to hold his head still. It went on for a blessedly long time.

He moaned when the mouth finally pulled away from his.

Harry breathed deeply. “Should've done this months ago.” He sighed and backed away. “Realistically, though, if I’d tried, you’d have transformed me into the Slytherin House mascot.”

“Should’ve done this months ago....” Severus echoed, reaching for Harry again.

Harry jumped back. “Go! See Madame Pomfrey. Ask her to help you, and then you need to rest. Please, Professor. It's...something’s not right. I’ll fetch the Headmaster.”

Severus turned around and headed up the stairs. This time, Harry did not call him back. He continued walking mindlessly until he stood in the main room of Pomfrey's domain and called out her name.

“What? Who is it?” In less than a minute, Poppy came bustling out of her rooms, wrapping a belt around her dressing gown. “Severus! Whatever is the matter?”

He smiled vaguely. “Harry told me to see you immediately.”

“Harry told you...?” Pomfrey gave him an odd, searching look. “Oh...oh dear. I see...I think. Severus, why don't you stretch out on this bed.” She pulled the covers down on the closest one, still eyeing Severus strangely.

Severus complied. “Harry kissed me and said he would get Albus.”

Pomfrey's mouth opened and closed once and she blinked. “Well, now, I think that's a good thing. Getting Albus, that is. A very good thing.” Poppy waved her wand and removed Severus' boots and socks and robe, leaving him in his underwear. She frowned, examining his skin closely before covering him gently with the sheet and blanket.

Severus relaxed under the covers. “Harry said I should rest.” He smiled as Poppy frowned down at him.

“Another excellent suggestion....”

Her voice and face faded from his mind as Severus sighed and slipped off to sleep, a peaceful smile sitting oddly on his well-kissed mouth.


.oOo.

“Ah, I think he's coming around, Poppy.”

“Excellent. See if you can get him to drink this, Albus.”

“Severus, dear boy, do try and open your eyes.”

He did, and winced as daylight knifed into his eyeballs. “Unh.”

“Welcome back to the land of the living.”  Albus Dumbledore smiled benignly from his chair next to the bed.

“Wahp...whahappnd?”  Severus couldn't seem to make his mouth work properly, which thoroughly annoyed him.

“Well, now, that is a very interesting question. But first, you need to drink this. You'll feel much better.”

His muscular coordination was as bad as his speech, it seemed. It took the combined efforts of Pomfrey and Dumbledore to prop him up. He eyed the bright blue concoction suspiciously with unfocused eyes.

Madam Pomfrey snorted impatiently. “Drink it, Severus. It's your own brew.”

Severus glared at her briefly before choking down the bitter draught. He grimaced, the taste coating his mouth and curling his tongue. But even as he swallowed to remove the flavor, his felt its charmed effects twisting through his body, returning strength to his limbs and clearing his mind of a lingering haze.

Suddenly everything became clear. There were only a handful of potions that peculiarly virulent shade of blue. And only one whose use in this situation made any kind of sense at all.

Libertaserum. Severus blinked up at Albus. “No. Absolutely not. It cannot be. It was only an exceedingly horrid nightmare.”

The Headmaster raised his eyebrows and shook his head. Severus closed his eyes again and swallowed hard. Oh dear Merlin.

Madam Pomfrey finished waving her diagnostic wand over Severus' body. “Everything is back to normal, Severus. It seems you will live.”

“I'm not sure why I should find that welcome news at the moment.” Severus took a shaky breath, ignoring Pomfrey’s amused snort.

Albus glanced at Pomfrey. “Poppy, may I have a word alone with Severus, please?”

Pomfrey gathered her things together. “Certainly, Albus. I'll be in Minerva's fifth year Hufflepuff class. They're casting on themselves for the first time today. Minerva likes me to be available in the event of...well, you can imagine.” She bustled to the door. “Oh, and Severus...no work for a day. You need to be monitored for any lingering effects. You're aware of the high initial potential for recurrence.”

Severus blanched. He hadn't quite dealt with the idea of the original experience yet, much less moved on to a possible encore.

“I've already cast the monitoring spell,” Pomfrey continued, “if you prefer to return to the dungeon rather than stay here. It will be in effect only for a day. Since you've taken the Libertaserum, the Afficio Cupitus should most likely not recur.”

Of course. There was no threat, absolutely none at all.

Except to his very sanity.

“Thank you, Poppy,” Albus smiled as she left them alone, closing the door behind her with a click.

They sat in silence for a few moments.

“Albus, I--” Severus' throat tightened as last night's events replayed in his mind.

 “Severus, there is no need for that wild look in your eyes. Things could have been much, much worse. It could have been the Volo variant.”

Severus blinked. It might have been worse. It was hard to think of anything worse than the current situation, yet Albus was correct. The effect of Afficio Volo was even worse than Cupitus, and could not be countermanded by the use of Libertaserum. Or by much of anything else, to be exact. Both were a sort of exceedingly advanced version of control, using as a fuel one’s emotions. Only applicable with the best of intentions, of course.

Most commonly used by parents when their children might otherwise cause disaster, both Volo and Cupitus required a deep, mutual connection between both the caster and recipient to be fully effective, no matter how unconscious and buried.

Severus shuddered, wishing again that Poppy's diagnosis had been dire, requiring sedation. Lying here nicely unconscious right now would be infinitely more preferable.

“Now that we've got everything in perspective, let's start with something easy and take first things first, my boy. Humor me with a few answers. Poppy said your skin was red and raw, nearly burnt. Luckily, however, it was easily fixed. Was it Voldemort?”

As he eyed the ancient wizard waiting benignly for his response, it occurred to Severus that it didn't matter if Albus' little chats happened tucked away up in the Headmaster's office, or elsewhere in and around Hogwarts, such as, say, in hospital. He still hated them. He still felt as if he were a young and gauche school boy in his first year, ill-at-ease and ignorant. He still felt that, somehow, this great wizard could see right through him, read his every fault, see his every transgression. It left him feeling terribly naked and exposed, no matter how elegant the layers of his haughty personality and attire.

Stuck in bed in nothing more than his boxers and vest certainly didn't help matters. Sighing, he lay back and pulled the covers up to his chin. “You may lay the blame at Voldemort's feet.”

Albus cocked his head and looked down his nose through his half-glasses at Severus. “Hmmm. Interesting that he would use wrack root and Dragon's Breath to accomplish it, instead of casting a spell.”

Severus closed his eyes.

“My boy--”

“Albus, you charged with me with a task,” the younger wizard interrupted, “and for twenty years I have fulfilled it.” Severus' carefully enunciated words had a bladed sharpness. “For nearly twenty years, I have done whatever was necessary to accomplish your goals. I have done what was necessary to survive in that half-life, and I do what is necessary to survive in this one. You've not quibbled about that in the past, and I see no reason to start now.”

When the silence dragged out, Severus opened his eyes and glanced at the Headmaster. He sat stroking his beard, sad eyes looking sightlessly at the floor.

“Perhaps it was wrong of me to charge you with that task,” Albus murmured.

Severus swallowed the panicked laughter that bubbled up. “It's a bit too late to question it now, Albus. It is long done.”

“Hmmm.” Albus continued to stroke his beard.

The reality of last evening loomed suddenly in Severus' mind.  I am done, he thought, hands clutching at the top edge of the covers.
“Albus, the boy--I--he--” The words stuck in Severus' throat.

Albus' shifted his gimlet, blue-eyed gaze to Severus. “Yes. Interesting, isn't it? We discover new powers in him daily, it seems.”

New powers? The ability to wield Afficio with a seasoned wizard? With him? Dear Merlin. “You must see that I cannot work privately with him ever again, Albus. Not after--” Severus could not begin to say it. “And he must be trained. You must do this. Merlin's tongue--think of what he might do, now that his abilities have evolved to this extent. And he does not understand! He does not even know what he has done!”

“Calm yourself, Severus,” Albus admonished lightly.

Severus breathed deeply, surprised to find he'd sat up and flung the covers away in his agitation. Leaning forward, he ran his hands through his tangled hair, then covered his face. Memory of a lithe, young body wrapping itself around him, the feel of a warm mouth open on his.... Sharp desire taunted him from the distant corner where he'd shoved it.

“You cannot ask this of me, Albus. It would be a disservice to both the boy and to me,” Severus said in a low voice. “You must take over his advanced training yourself.”

He heard the chair scrape as Albus stood up. A warm, loving hand rested upon his head, and it took everything in Severus to resist leaning into the older wizard's strength. He felt the flow of power trickle into him, felt a blessed sense of peace permeate the guilt and dark need that roiled inside.

“I will work with our young prodigy,” Albus assured him. “Time grows short; he must be made ready.”

“I once believed I was ready,” Severus murmured hollowly. “It is an insidious myth, Albus. The reality is elusive and always retreating from acquisition. It turns into a path that brings no happiness.”

“Severus, forgive me. I should have made this offer a long time ago.” Albus stroked through the dark hair, soothing the tension in Severus' rigid neck and shoulders. “I can erase your memories of last night. You need not suffer the weighted emotions connected to Voldemort’s vile actions.”

Severus inhaled sharply. To be rid of the worst of the memories, the emotions...oh, the thought was tempting. To give over the images of suffering and pain, the endless disgusting actions to which he had been witness and participant. He had never even thought of the possibility before now. He could not imagine being without their dark weight; they had been a part of him for so long.

But last night's memories were a mixed group, and Severus was quite familiar with the charm used to expunge memories. It was not delicate enough to be selective to a fine degree when memories were highly intertwined. If he was rid of his reactions to Voldemort's actions of last night, the entire experience might be wiped out.

And he'd be rid of his related memories from later in the evening, also.

This time Severus did not stop the rusty, self-mocking laughter. “It's a double-edged sword you've offered me, Albus. I'm exposed for the defiled man that I am.”

Albus frowned. “Severus, that's far from the truth.”

Severus scrubbed his face wearily with his hands and took a cleansing breath. “Thank you for your offer, but I must decline. It is safer that I retain everything concerning my time with Voldemort. I will live; you heard Poppy.”

“Yes, yes, I heard.” Dumbledore sighed. “Very well. But Severus, have a care. I've no desire to see you hurt yourself in that way again.”
He gave one last stroke to the midnight hair and began to make his way slowly to the door. “We need to end this hell-begotten war soon, dear boy. The toll has been entirely too high. I fear what else we will be required to sacrifice.”

The door closed soundlessly behind the old wizard, and Severus leaned back against the pillow mound behind him. Long ago, he had believed himself ready, but who could have anticipated that he would end up sacrificing the whole of his life? So far, his entire adult life had gone to the war, on one side or the other.

There was little left inside. A majority of the time, he felt hollow and brittle, taken over at times with bitterness and anger and pain. Now he could add perverted to his list of sins. True perversion, this, not just something enacted out of youthful pain or for the Dark Lord's benefit. Wouldn't Voldemort laugh? Oh, how he would be amused if he knew.

How he would calculate and plan and use such knowledge to further his purposes. 

Severus shuddered. Perhaps he should have given over his memories to Albus. Keeping them intact could put at risk the one thing so far strong enough to defeat the Dark Lord. The very same person who had inspired a gamut of reactions in Severus from the first time he'd laid eyes on him.

Fascination, envy, hope, pain, anger--it all roiled within. What was one more emotion in the midst of such confusion? He was long used to burying his desires; he would closet this one. He could function with the boy in his class, that would be no problem.

But he would not work alone with him anymore. The boy didn't know his own power and therefore could not be trusted. Bright and shining, so strong...Severus knew his power. Too well. Knew the feel of his need, the feel of the boy's body pressed hard against his...no.
 No.

He sighed. So...neither could he be trusted. The thin line of ethic, once crossed, was too easily breached again.

He would avoid the boy as much as possible. Let Albus take over the boy's training. Voldemort was planning something. Soon he would be making his move, of that Severus was certain. He could no longer afford the distraction that teaching the boy would entail. The boy was irrevocably off-limits. And for Severus, there he would stay.

oOo

Continued in part two