When Harry woke, he’d been blinded. He’d been captured. Again. No, it wasn’t like last time at all. Then, he’d been an untrained child under the control of Death Eaters who knew he was Harry Potter. Now was different. Even if his captors suspected him of being Harry Potter, they had no proof. His Auror training had considered this possibility. He’d spent years preparing for this. He could handle it. It wouldn’t be like last time. Snape, Ron, Hermione, and a good portion of Dumbledore’s Army had been alerted the second he disappeared. Snape had to know the range for minor Portkeys. Even if Harry's captors had found the third tracking spell, he had his ways. Snape would find him.
Harry took a deep and soft breath. You have control. Everyone thought he’d fail this portion of the Auror training. The first few times he’d been captured during the qualifications, he’d fallen apart, even though it was only pretend and he wasn’t in any danger. It wasn’t until he remembered Snape’s fear training that he found a way through it. He just had to focus on one problem at a time.
First, he was blind. He tried the counter curse to Obscuro and his vision cleared. He’d been dumped on the floor of a large, but empty room. Maybe a storage shed of some type? Voices carried from a room nearby and he remained still, lest they discovered he’d woken. Either they underestimated him, or the restorative had worked remarkably well. He would have never left a prisoner of his calibre alone. Maybe it was a good thing so many people thought him to be an incompetent Auror.
He tested the magical bonds that pinned his hands behind his back and kept his legs together. No chance of breaking them without his wand. He’d been placed on his side - another mistake, as his hidden wand was in the side free of any encumberment. Whispering softly, Harry conjured a small mirror. He breathed a sigh of relief when Ben’s face greeted him.
Footsteps sounded towards him and he quickly removed the mirror and closed his eyes. Someone with thick fingers forced his mouth open. It took everything he had not to bite or fight. Somehow, he managed to remain limp and let the first drop hit to see what it was: Veritaserum. Amateurs. Even if he’d been unconscious and unable to fight it, Snape’s tricks had never failed him.
To hide his awareness, he let them pour the rest of the potion into his mouth. He had his wand and he wasn’t defenseless, but instinct told him to ride this out instead of fight. If he waited for the questions before attacking, he could gain valuable intel. A tiny, tiny voice in the back of his mind screamed, “get out!” but he had the feeling it was just the ghosts of his past unable to rest. He needed to get through this, to prove to himself once and for all that he hadn’t been too badly scarred by his past. The minute his captors tried to undress him or touch him, he’d break out his wand, but for now, he wanted to know exactly what they wanted.
Harry blinked his eyes and drew in a sharp breath in mock surprise. Leopold Dolohov, dressed in dark green, bent over him and grabbed his chin. He held Harry’s head firmly in place as he scowled and cast, “Legilimens!”
For some unknown reason, Harry had become pants at Occlumency after he left the prison. His makeshift method worked well enough, but a skilled wizard could break through it in minutes. He only put up a bit of resistance before allowing Dolohov in, pretending that the fight and Veritaserum weakened him.
Dolohov’s sharp blue eyes bored into Harry’s. “Are you Harry Potter?”
No, Snape is Harry Potter. “I’m Benjamin Delton Rose.”
“I’m sure he’s been trained in avoiding Veritaserum,” said Nik, his voice agitated. He’d probably been arguing with the others for quite some time.
“Has one of you ever pretended to be the other?” asked Dolohov.
Harry pretended to try to fight it. “Nnnnn... Yes, when Harry wants privacy.”
“Who was in Kavala?” asked Nik.
Easy to answer. “Harry Potter.”
“How do you switch bodies so easily?” asked Dolohov, his face twisted with doubt and suspicion.
“Our flats are connected by Floo.”
Someone sucked in a breath and Harry could feel the rising excitement he couldn’t see.
“Does anyone else know this?” asked Nik.
“Hermione and Ron. Kreacher.” Although he could call on the house-elf to get him out of most any situation, after what happened with Dobby, he’d swore he’d never put Kreacher in danger.
“Kreacher?” asked a woman’s voice Harry didn’t recognise.
“Potter’s house-elf,” said Dolohov, still staring at Harry with hate. “Stays in Grimmauld Place.”
“He’s on holiday,” Harry corrected them. “I think he’s in Sweden at the moment.”
“Go check on that,” said Dolohov to Nik or someone nearby him.
A crack announced the departure.
Dolohov focused his gaze on Harry again. “Have you seen Dimitri Cantemir in London?”
As Harry wasn’t sure if Dimitri had ever existed outside of Snape’s imagination, he asked, “Who?”
Dolohov shoved Harry back towards the floor, knocking his head against the concrete. Everyone else in the room straightened up, like hares in anticipation of the fox.
“What was that?” bellowed Dolohov.
A short blond man ran into the room, his round face pale. “It’s... It’s...” His fingers worried in his robes, the truth apparently so terrible, he couldn’t get it out.
Dolohov and the others raced out of the room. “Stay here.” Dolohov called back to the blond man.
Backup had probably arrived. Harry shifted onto his side. “Accio wand!” As soon as his fingers closed around the stick of wood, he tried out spells to cut his bonds until one worked. In one swift movement, he leapt to his feet.
The blond man had raised his wand, but he was too late. Harry knocked him out cold before he could finish casting the spell. Harry darted out of the room, into the main hallway of an abandoned storage shed. Voices and the crackling of spells carried through the closed doors at the end. Harry pushed them apart, tumbling into the night.
Snape stood in the centre of the gravel driveway, surrounded by the Death Eaters. Only, he wasn’t wearing Harry’s body anymore, he was entirely Severus Snape. His face, his hair, even his clothes were exactly the same as if he’d stepped through a time portal from the Battle of Hogwarts. He flicked off spells with the same terrifyingly calm rage he’d carried after Albus’s death.
Gravely outnumbered, Snape held his own. Only Dolohov attacked with abandon, the rest hung back, although they still shot off spells. Harry couldn’t blame them for their terror. He trusted Snape with his life, but the sight of that cold fury, and those quick deadly strokes sent an icy chill racing through his body.
Everyone was so fixated on Snape, Harry focused on picking off the Death Eaters on the edge of the circle. He stayed far away from the path of Snape’s wand as he crept near the building.
“He’s free!” someone shouted and Harry had to throw up a shield and run to duck behind a pile of rotting beams. Careful to stay out of Snape’s way so they didn’t accidentally hurt each other, he focused on his training. Parry, counter-attack, check cover, attack. His body moved as if on autopilot, the spells leaving his lips quicker than he could think of them.
Cracks of Apparition filled the air and Harry glanced to the side to see Luna take out a Death Eater.
He darted from behind the pile to hit another one aiming for her, but he fell before Harry could get the shot off. Neville glanced around for another target.
Harry looked for his own, but only Dolohov remained upright. Harry lifted his wand, but the Death Eater crumpled, cut by a streak of light from Snape’s wand. Snape had changed his face to look like Dimitri again, although he still wore his old clothes.
“Amazing impersonation,” said Hermione. She gave Harry a significant look.
“I think I convinced them,” said Snape with a smile and in a voice that was far more Dimitri than Snape.
George Weasley poked at a Death Eater near his feet, while Ginny busied herself tying up the ones near her.
“Where’s Ron?” Harry walked towards Snape. As silly as it was, he couldn’t help but be a bit disappointed that the fight had been over so quickly. “And the Aurors?”
“With the rest of the group in London,” answered Hermione as she walked towards Harry. “They caught a group trying to break into Ben’s flat.” She stopped in her tracks and stared at Snape. “You’re injured.”
Harry glanced over to see Snape clutching his left elbow in his right hand. Snape gave her an easy smile. “It’s nothing. I feel foolish for dressing as a Potions Master and forgetting to bring any healing salves.”
Snape always had healing salves on him. Harry quickly covered the distance.
“Why don’t you take us back to your flat?” said Snape in an even tone of voice.
“Certainly,” said Harry with a calm he didn’t feel. Snape had to be injured badly or he would’ve Apparated himself. His heart in his throat, Harry grabbed hold of Snape’s good arm and concentrated. As soon as they landed in Harry’s sitting room, Snape collapsed to the floor.
“Cut off my sleeve,” he wheezed through sharp, sudden breaths.
Throughout his capture and the wand fight with Death Eaters, Harry had been fine. The sight of Snape, in obvious pain, completely froze him to the core, scaring more than anything else had.
“Cut off my sleeve!”
Lead so heavy in his stomach he didn’t know how he moved, Harry quickly tore away the scraps of cloth that covered Snape’s arm. An angry dark blue line ran nearly all the way from Snape’s elbow to his wrist. Tendrils emerged from the centre, apparently only held at bay from their march by Snape’s concentration. Dark magic. At best, Snape would lose his arm.
“Mungo’s,” said Harry, surprised he could speak.
“No,” hissed Snape. “You need to remove the spell.”
“I can’t! I don’t know how.”
“I’ll tell you. Get out your wand and put your other hand on the wound.”
He’d never been trained in removing Dark magic and he didn’t recognise the spell. If he did this wrong, he’d kill him. “Snape, I-”
“Harry,” said Snape, lifting his eyes to meet Harry’s. “My name is Severus. I know you can do this. Take your wand and place your other hand on my arm.”
Unable to fight, Harry gently placed his hand on Severus’s damaged flesh while he drew his wand. The wound gave off angry sparks, but Harry ignored the pain, concentrating on Severus’s eyes.
Severus sang the counter-spell, his voice soft and oddly beautiful.
Harry clumsily followed along, trying not to miss a single letter, much less a word. The spell pulsed, spreading its grasp even further.
Nodding encouragingly, Severus continued singing the same short refrain over and over again. His voice slowly faded, but Harry had sung it enough times to carry on without him.
“Gather it into a ball,” said Severus softly.
Closing his eyes, Harry sang as he forced the darkness into a tight ball. It raged against him, pushing back against his magic, but the longer he chanted, the easier it was to contain until he had it all gathered up beneath his left palm.
“Now draw it out.”
Harry wasn’t sure how, but he didn’t dare break the spell to ask. He mentally imagined pulling the darkness out of Severus’s arm, and the spell raged, pushing hard against his magic. Shifting himself so that he was firmly planted on the floor, Harry tightly held Severus’s arm and pressed his wand against it. He pulled again, chanting the spell over and over. This time, he was able to yank the magic free. Releasing it, he cast “Avada Kedavra!”
Light and a loud bang filled the room, followed soon by a light yellow powder. Harry cast cleansing spells to clear the area immediately around them, and noticed a dark smudge on the floor where a chair had once rested.
“Reach into my left pocket,” said Severus, his breath still ragged. With a shaking hand, he grabbed his wand and cast a spell over his robes, presumably allowing Harry access.
Harry did as ordered.
His teeth clenched, Severus said, “Fetch the healing salve in the bottle with the square lid and two bumps on the side. Pour it on my arm”
“Accio healing salve!” called Harry. Five flew up to him. He grabbed the correct one, screwed off the lid, and rubbed nearly half of the bottle into Severus’s forearm.
Severus’s entire body went limp against the floor. “I need you to make a list for me,” he said.
Harry pressed his hands to Severus’s cold, pale skin. He’d lost most of his colour, and sweat dripped from his temples. “What’s wrong? Why aren’t you better?”
“Traces of Dark Magic still linger in my system,” explained Severus, his eyes shutting tightly. “I need rest and an easy to prepare potion. I’ll write out the list of ingredients. You can find everything you need at the Apothecary if you don’t have any potion supplies yourself.”
“Of course I don’t have any potion supplies!” said Harry, suddenly overrun with white hot flames. His head pounded and sweat soaked his palms. “You’re an absolute idiot to come chasing after me alone. Arrogant! Reckless! You’re - You’re - becoming a Gryffindor.”
Severus cracked a smile. “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
For the first time ever, Harry fully understood how angry Severus had been when Harry had been sneaking out of the castle his third year. The fear he must have felt when Harry had disappeared from the prison and no one knew where he’d gone. “Don’t joke. I’m serious.”
“As am I,” said Severus. “What I did I would do again a thousand times.”
“You-” He could barely speak his throat was so tight. “Jerk! Idiot! If you had died.... I-”
Severus reached out to grasp Harry’s wrist. “I couldn’t wait,” he said, his eyes full of fire. “Not after what happened to you. I couldn’t leave you alone.”
“I’m not a child,” Harry reminded him. “I was fine. Don’t ever do that again. I mean it.”
“Don’t ever be bait,” said Severus, as if he’d had no control over his actions. “I warned you.”
They were both stubborn as hell and neither would give in. Harry sighed and sat back on his heels. He’d never be bait, but he’d also make sure that Severus never was either. “The Auror Department will expect a full report, and if I don’t show up soon, Hermione and Ron will worry. Not to mention I need to get my new wand back. I’ll bring you your items. What do you need?”
Slowly, as if every bone in his body ached, Severus pushed himself up into a sitting position. He gave Harry a short, but detailed list.
After double checking it, Harry said, “I’ll be back soon. Stay here. I’ll call Kreacher to look after you.”
“I’m fine,” said Severus, his impatience returning. “Go placate the Ministry.”
Without thinking, Harry bent forward and kissed Severus on the lips. He stood, and hurried from the room.