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Anachronism (1/16)

Title: Anachronism
Written for: 2009 Snarry Games
Genre(s): Alive and Kicking
Prompts: Seeking Knowledge and Doppelgänger
Ratings and Warnings: NC-17. Highlight to read. *

Abuse/Violence, Non-con, Non-Snarry pairings


Word Count: ~97k total.
Summary: Upon waking up, Severus finds himself not recovering from Nagini's bite, but healing after a long-term mysterious illness. Not only must he uncover the mystery of the cause of his affliction, but also deal with his lover, who is the very last person he wanted to ever see again: Harry Potter.
Author notes: A huge thanks to magic-helmet for doggedly convincing me to enter the Games. To whitestar for cracking the whip and beating this story into shape. Joanwilder for her patience, help as my captain, and awesome French skills. To Lisa for keeping Severus and Harry in line. To research_girl and gingertart50 for Brit-picking. To yivel for picking up on all the tiny things. To all my fellow Snitches for being great team members. To everyone else who helped me crank this out in a month. And a lifetime of thanks and kisses to my own Harry who went above and beyond the call of duty in support.



3:27 AM

More than anything else in the world, Severus Snape wanted to die. He had made sure that Hogwarts remained in the hands of those who cared well for it, left his few possessions to the school and his closest acquaintances, and had given the necessary memories to the brat to ensure that even that complete dunderhead would be able to figure out what needed to be done. The antidote to Nagini's venom remained in his pocket, unopened, and he slipped into oblivion, staring into the green eyes for which he had sacrificed everything. It was a good death, one of the few things he was proud of in his entire life.

Of course, things never work out as one expects them to. The universe always had a way of playing tricks on him, giving him exactly what he didn't want. He should've known that when he set out to die, he wouldn't actually accomplish the task. Just when he thought he had succeeded in ending the life that he was more than happy to be rid of, when he felt his soul slip towards nothingness, the enigmatic pull reversed and air flowed into his lungs. His eyes flew open to see that exquisite shade of green staring down at him again.

"You're alive!" cried Potter. Then, to Severus's horror and the consternation of the pack of Healers surrounding them, Potter threw his arms around him. Fortunately for Potter, the Healers pried the idiot off before Severus could curse him. There were many good reasons he had chosen to die, and never having to deal with that insufferable child had been at the top of the list. Glaring at the brat, who was held securely in place by two Healers, Severus took note of the crimson silks being worn by the bane of his existence. Odd, why was Potter wearing Auror robes? Surely they had not given the child a position in the department simply for defeating the Dark Lord? Severus's only consolation for being alive and stuck in a room with Potter was that it meant the boy had succeeded after all. The Dark Lord would not allow the brat to play dress-up, nor would he himself be alive now.

Then again, the Dark Lord might have ordered him healed to be well enough for torture. Severus shuddered.

"Sir?" asked a Healer who appeared to be fresh out of Hogwarts. "Sir, can you hear me?" At the Healer's questions the rest of them descended on Severus like a pack of Thestrals at a fresh kill.

Severus opened his mouth and found, to his surprise, that he could speak. "Of course I can hear you," he croaked out, his voice raw and his throat dry. "Now go away and leave me alone."

"His magic!" cried someone.

"He needs his wand," said another and the crowd parted to reveal Potter who held out Severus's wand. His eyes were shiny as if tears were threatening to spill at any moment.

Idiots. They were all idiots who took the word of an easily manipulated and controlled child that he, Severus Snape, was harmless. They would accidentally kill the damned prat he'd just spent the last seventeen years trying to save! Memories were facile to fake and sentimental fools like Potter easy to convince. He was a Death Eater, a known murderer, and they had no reason to suspect he hadn't the intention of becoming the next Dark Lord himself.

No matter, he would not refuse what was offered, especially in case someone more sensible took control of the situation and decided to try to cart him off to Azkaban. He would die before going to Azkaban.

Severus snatched the wand, turning it back on Potter in case the brat should try to hug him again. Lying back against the bed, he attempted to relax. Potter had triumphed. The Dark Lord would have never been so foolish as to allow Severus to regain his wand. Now the only matter was whether he had to face Azkaban or not.

"Sir?" repeated the too-young Healer. Since when did they let children be Healers? "Sir, can you cast a spell?"

They all stood expectantly, watching him grip his wand, as if they were waiting for a magic trick. Fear flickered in Severus’s chest. Had Nagini’s venom affected his ability to use magic? To be brought back from a well-timed, well-earned death was bad enough, but to live as a Squib? He would not do it. With a calm flick of his wand that belied his inward panic, Severus said, "Lumos."

Nothing happened. But then, he'd not actually cast the spell, just said the words.

Previously ecstatic faces dropped as if Dementors had invaded the room. The Healers and Potter crowded in a corner and whispered furiously, their backs to Severus. Severus took advantage of their distraction to cast a cleaning spell on his thumb, and a tingle raced across the tip as the spell scrubbed it clean.

He had his magic.

As Potter and the Healers were still in consultation, Severus examined the bed and room in which he lay. He was not at St Mungo's, where impersonal white walls and sheets dominated the very plain and sparsely decorated rooms. Nor in the Hogwarts infirmary with its small, narrow beds separated by thick sheets of cloth and where suits of armour and portraits lined the walls.

He had spent his convalescence—at least the latter part—ensconced in a bed with rich sheets of tan. To his right, a bedside table held books, a bottle of his favourite liquor, and a glass. The heavy wardrobe in the corner—the same style as his own—confirmed his suspicions that he had been placed in someone's bedroom. Whoever it was had his taste in decoration and style, although the sheets were considerably softer than his own, and all of the fixtures looked fresh and new, as if they had been purchased recently.

If Potter had gone snooping through his private rooms at Hogwarts to decorate this place, he would strangle him.

As if knowing Severus's mind was dreaming up ways to kill him, the brat freed himself from the Healers and wound his way over to the side of Severus's bed. Severus trained his wand on Potter's chest and wondered if perhaps, as a Death Eater, he had a duty to kill the arrogant little shit.

Potter smiled, a small tight smile that tugged at the corner of his lips. His eyes were red, although his face was thankfully free of tears and snot. He looked older than Severus remembered. Not counting the Shrieking Shack, where Potter had been covered in soot and grime and Severus had let himself die, the last time they had seen each other in close quarters was the night of Dumbledore's death. Potter had been a boy then—a young, reckless student who could barely keep a single lesson in his thick skull. War had changed him: filled out his jaw, broadened his shoulders, painted a dusting of black across his chin, and aged his eyes which now gazed at Severus with far more understanding and depth than had ever appeared in them before. He was still short, and Severus relished the fact that the son of Potter would apparently always be a runt, but in the course of one year, Harry somehow seemed to have aged ten.

Potter's eyes flickered over Severus's face, darting around as if he couldn't decide where to look. He swallowed hard and opened his mouth. "I..."

Severus didn't want to hear it. He had planned his death precisely to avoid these awkward moments. "Potter, I am exhausted." In truth he was—his body ached in places he'd not even known could ache. "Take the Healers and leave me alone so that I may sleep."

Potter's smile widened. "Right. You're probably feeling ill after your brush with death. You nearly died. In fact, you did die. Technically. Healer Kessler said-"

"Potter, shut up and let me sleep."

Potter chuckled. "It's good to have you back." And then, he bent down and kissed Severus on the cheek. Severus was too stunned to do anything but lie there, dumbfounded. When he finally recovered, ready to hex the brat, Potter had left his bedside and ushered all the Healers from the room.

Severus closed his eyes. Maybe he had died and now resided in Hell.

2:35 PM

When Severus returned to consciousness, Poppy was attending to him, running her wand over his body.

"Let me guess. Muscle spasms and heart arrhythmia," said Severus, naming the two most common after-effects of the anti-venom needed to free his system of poison.

Poppy turned her head and smiled. "It's good to see you back," she said simply, as if being a Death Eater and murderer of a beloved Headmaster were basic mistakes anyone could make. How could he be so easily forgiven for his crimes? He would’ve demanded imprisonment for traitors of his kind.

"No," Poppy was saying, "it appears that your illness has vanished completely. I can't find a trace of it and all of your systems appear to be functioning fine, just more weakly. You should be tired for the next few days, but there’s nothing that restorative potions and rest won’t fix with time."

An illness. That was one way to describe the consequences of having been bitten by a giant, poisonous snake. "You used the potion I had in my possession?"

"We used everything you asked us to, Severus." She shook her head. "It defies explanation." She stepped over towards the bedside table and waved her hand. A standard repertoire of potions covered every inch that had previously been free. "Your muscles will need plenty of work after your having been bed-ridden for so long, but you mustn't stress yourself either. I know you like to try to speed the recovery-"

Severus interrupted the speech, impatient, as usual, to ignore whatever injury or illness kept him confined to this room and the hovering Healers, who seemed convinced they knew his body better than he. "How long have I been unconscious?"

"Nearly a fortnight." That explained the relaxed guard. Somewhat. A fortnight was an awfully short amount of time for absolution. Then again, few held grudges as well as he did.

"The Prophet has been printing, yes?"

She frowned. "Of course it has."

Asking people for explanations of what had happened in the war, who had died, who was imprisoned, would only get partial answers. He needed printed word, which tended to be slightly more reliable, as its inaccuracies and slants were more predictable. "Bring me a copy of each issue since I’ve been unconscious. Any other papers as well."

"I will," she said. With a bustle of skirts, she turned around the room and flicked her wand at the walls. Panels of light flooded the room as each flick revealed a large window in what he had assumed to be solid stone. Through the windows, he could see a cloudy sky and the tops of trees. "Would you like to face towards or away from the sun?" she asked.

"Away." He snatched a potion off the table and quaffed it down.

Poppy waved her wand, casting artfully and the windows began to slide across the wall. With a start, Severus realised the windows weren't sliding—the entire room was turning. He had heard of these sorts of buildings but had yet to visit one. Someone of considerable wealth owned the building in which he now rested. The Malfoys came to mind, but this structure couldn't belong to Lucius; it lacked the blatant displays of wealth.

"I've asked your visitors to wait in the courtyard below until you’re ready to receive them," said Poppy with a wave of her hand towards one of the windows. "I'm afraid I'll not be able to hold them at bay for too much longer, Severus; it’s not every day a man returns from the dead for a second time."

The prospect of several well-wishers waiting for him was a thought so sickening, he didn't think to ask what she meant by 'a second time'.

"Call me if you need anything." In a flurry of skirts, she left through one of the two doors.

To his credit, Severus waited several minutes before he disobeyed Poppy's orders. Transfiguring one of his books into a cane, an act that left him breathless and trembling as if he had exerted himself physically, he hobbled over towards the door he assumed led to a bathroom, or at least a toilet. His assumption was correct; he found himself in a room disconcertingly familiar. Like the bedroom, this one did not replicate exactly the style he had used at both Hogwarts and Spinner's End, but the decorations were nearly identical with those he would have chosen to outfit a room if he’d had the money. Even the toiletries were nearly the same as those he had used in his rooms before the final battle.

Perhaps the familiarity was offered as a form of comfort, a way to help him feel at ease, but it had the exact opposite effect. He felt dissected, like a potion ingredient taken apart and examined. He'd known they would invade his personal spaces after his death—he had removed the wards in expectation of that fact. But he had planned to be dead when that desecration occurred, when they trampled through his rooms and rifled through his meagre belongings, finally seeing him for what he was rather than his carefully crafted persona.

He did not want his familiar, threadbare grey nightshirt to be replaced with this elegant, sleek black one. It was too much like pity and, of all the emotions, that was the one he could least stand to feel directed towards him.

In far too long a time for what should have been a simple task, he finished his ablutions, ignoring the aches of his body. He paused only to catch his breath and give himself a critical glance in the mirror which had been set (as he preferred) apart from the sink. He had never been attractive and thus tended to avoid the insufferable things, particularly the ones that spoke. This one remained silent—a simple Muggle mirror—but rather than a relief, it was yet another irritation, another reminder that someone had chosen to take his life apart and tried to make it better.

It was as if they thought by taking him away from the dirt and poverty and placing him in this rich, new home, they could somehow change what he was, that his Death Eater past could be exchanged for a new life with silk sheets and marble floors. There were some wounds that never healed and some spots of darkness that would forever tarnish his soul. No amount of varnishing, no fancy surroundings, no second chances could ever erase or make up for what he had done.

He pushed down the collar of his nightshirt, revealing faint scars on his neck. With his fingertips, Severus traced the etchings of silver that revealed where the fangs had ripped skin. They were healed better than he could have ever hoped; the scars lay flat and smooth. If he had not heard the amazement over his healing in their voices, he would have been convinced that the scratches on his neck were an illusion covering up extensive damage buried beneath them. He had no explanation for how the wounds could've healed so well in a mere fortnight.

The trip back to his bed sent splinters of pain up and down his legs, sharp enough to raise bile in his throat. He relented and downed an analgesic before laboriously journeying over to the window to spy on those who wished to see him. Taking a seat in a chair, Severus gathered his strength before casting a spell of concealment. It appeared his magic had been damaged more than he'd originally thought; even that simple spell sapped what little strength he had left.

Once he could move again, he pulled himself up to lean against a chair and peered out the window. The building stood in the centre of an elaborate garden transected by winding paths of brick that meandered past a vast variety of foliage, leading towards a central courtyard that wrapped around the base of the tower. A group of people sat chattering in the courtyard, sipping tea and ignoring the two small brats who were hopping across lily pads in one of the ponds, dangerously close to a creeping mass of tangleroot. With a few empty dishes scattered across the table and the cups mostly ignored, the people appeared to have been sitting for some time. Even more distressingly, most of the heads were red. Weasleys. This had to be Hell.

A figure with familiar messy black hair strode into view of the courtyard, followed closely by yet another ginger, both dressed in Auror robes. Their presence stimulated the gathered party who rose to greet them. With a flash of long red hair, a witch ran forward and threw her arms around the dark-haired man. He picked her up and spun her around, the joy on both of their faces obvious to Severus even from his distance of three stories above.

Severus turned away from the window. He knew how the war must have ended, but now the full meaning of the Dark Lord's defeat settled on him as if a dragon had landed on his shoulders. Why couldn't they have just let him die? He was an anachronism, a reminder of the darkness that had been, rather than part of this new era beginning. Soon Potter would marry the ginger witch (if he'd not already done so) and produce offspring, thus ensuring Lily the only form of eternal life possible. With Severus’s purpose in life accomplished, he had no place in this brand new world.

He had just returned to his bed for rest when the door burst open and Potter tumbled into the room, followed by an entourage of Weasleys.

"Just what I've always wanted," sneered Severus, filling his voice with as much venom as possible. "Potter and a plethora of Weasleys. I must be in heaven."

Potter laughed. "I know, I know. You aren't supposed to have so many visitors, but everyone wanted to see how you were doing."

"He's awake!" said one of the ginger devil spawn, no doubt as astute as Potter.

Ginevra, who was holding the boy, said, "Yes, your Uncle Severus is feeling much better than before."

Uncle Severus? Severus fell into a coughing fit. Potter hurried to the side of the bed, plucked a Summoned glass from the air and filled it with water from his wand. After checking to confirm the liquid was untainted, Severus drank it down.

In addition to Ginevra, the twins (Severus's least favourite Weasleys) stood smiling at him. Even worse, whichever one had lost the ear now wore a realistic looking prosthetic, so Severus couldn't even tell them apart that way anymore. Where they had found the time to create the fake ear in a war was beyond him. Granger slipped into the room after them, a baby in her arms, while Ronald followed, grasping the hand of a small girl. The children were too old to belong to Ronald and Granger; had their parents been killed?

Tartan skirts revealed his next visitor before he saw her face. Considering what had happened between them the last time he saw Minerva, he tensed, prepared for the emotional onslaught. Gryffindors never seemed to know when to let things go and surely Minerva, of all people, would have a few harsh words for him. However, she just smiled uncharacteristically wide and said, "I'm glad to see you still with us."

Shortly after her, Poppy bustled past Minerva into the room, glaring at everyone who crowded the doorway as if they were personally responsible for Severus's condition. "Now that you've seen him, let him sleep." She shooed them from the room, all but Potter who remained by his side. Showing no care that the brat still remained in the room to bother Severus, she shut the door behind them.

Potter probably thought that saving the world meant that he was beyond the rules and limitations of other wizards. The rest of the world might do nothing to disabuse him of that notion, but Severus had no intention of relinquishing what little authority and control he had—especially over Potter. He arched his eyebrow, looked down his nose (which was rather difficult to do when looking up, but there were a few distinct advantages to hooked noses), and asked, "Don't you have a Weasley to impregnate?"

Potter's mouth fell open and his brow furrowed. He looked almost as stupid as he was. "Ginny?" he asked when the Niffler in his head that he used for a brain finally woke up.

"Yes, Ginny," Severus sneered. "I doubt a pinhead such as yourself has managed to unlock the secrets of male pregnancy."

The lines in Potter's forehead grew darker. "Why would I impregnate Ginny?"'

How could such a bright and clever girl like Lily have such a brain-dead child? "That is what is typically done with that otherwise useless thing between your legs."

Potter's eyes widened and he shut his mouth with a snap. After staring at Severus for a moment, he asked, "Do you want me to do it now?"

"Yes. Were you waiting for my permission? There, you have it." He waved his hand to shoo Potter away. "Now go propagate and leave me alone."

Potter did not budge. "I think we should talk about this first. I’m not sure I’m ready to be a father."

Of course he wasn’t. He was a stupid child who couldn’t take care of himself, much less anyone else. Severus pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to hold back the headache storming through his head. He tried so hard not to hurt the brat, but really, the child seemed to want to be punished. "I think you should leave before I hex you."

"Hex me?" Potter’s eyes widened. "But you-" A grin darted across Potter's face and he smacked Severus on the arm. Hard. "You have your magic!"

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. This was why he hated taking analgesics; they made him as stupid as Potter. Severus rubbed his bruised arm, glaring at the brat.

"I should've known," Potter prattled happily. "Of course you wouldn’t want to reveal it in front of everybody. I was so worried for you though. I mean, I know you would adjust fine without your magic, you’ve always been adaptable, but-"

It was no use. One could never be subtle with a Gryffindor like Potter. To get rid of him, he would have to be blunt and clear. "Now that these things are behind us, I want nothing more to do with you."

"What?!" Potter's brows drew in together.

Severus ignored him and forced out the words he had tried to avoid ever having to say. "I loved your mother, Potter. My affections have always remained with her and everything I did was out of that devotion. I did not care for you. I never have and never will."

Potter scoffed. "You can't be serious."

Severus glared at him, showing the hate in his soul on his face. "Do you think I did this for you?"

"Did what?" Potter's face was a mask of confusion.

"Helped you defeat the Dark Lord, you imbecile!"

Potter tilted his head and pursed his lips. "What does Voldemort have to do with this?"

It was too much and the thin band holding back Severus's anger broke. "OUT! OUT!" He snatched up a potion bottle and hurled it at Potter's head. Potter sidestepped it, his eyes nearly as wide as the rim of his glasses.

"Stop!" he cried. "You'll hurt yourself! I'm going! I'll come back later." With a worried, confused look back at Severus, he fled the room.

Once Severus's heart had stopped racing and thoughts of homicide were safely tucked away to the edges of his mind, he once again explored the room with his transfigured cane aiding his shaky steps. The wardrobe contained his clothes, all in his size and his favourite styles. He slipped into the robes, each layer, each button a reminder of a life he had tried to leave behind. It was oddly comforting. He would never be as powerful, as mysterious, or as intimidating as he had been before, but he was not completely bereft of the old forces that had maintained and shaped him. He could still force Potter from the room and that was enough, for now.



Chapter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Epilogue

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
L Charlie
Sep. 7th, 2018 05:06 pm (UTC)
Permission to translate in Vietnamese
I'm a Vietnamese reader and I love your story! Can I ask for permission to translate this story into Vietnamese for Vietnamese readers to enjoy the work as well? Thank you.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )