Disclaimer: Anything you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling. I own nothing, make no money from anything, and am writing this purely for personal enjoyment.

 

Chapter 7: Blood

 

I fell into an exhausted slumber soon after Mr Potter left, but after only a few hours, I woke up sweating. It was an effort to separate out the dream world from reality, and the horror clung to me. My emotions were swirling so fast that it felt like they were trying to burst out of my skin. I took a few deep breaths, trying to regain my equilibrium. At some point I had started rocking, but instead of being calming it was rapidly becoming frenzied. There were, however, ways of dealing with even this.

I moved to the bathroom, my hand once again steady. I took the razor blade to the inside of my right arm. Wouldn’t want to get my dark mark all scarred, after all. It wasn’t a lot of blood. More symbolic, really. But it was nonetheless satisfying.

By the time I went through to make breakfast, I had regained myself completely. Mr. Potter did look at me rather carefully, but we fell easily into our old routine. It wasn’t until after a particularly physical Wandless Combat session that Mr. Potter started staring at me again. He turned to me just as I was adjusting my outer robe.

“Severus, what’s that?”

Oh, Holy Merlin. One of the cuts had reopened and was staining my sleeve. How on earth did Mr. Potter have the ability to ignore the most obvious of potion instructions and yet notice such a small patch of blood?

“Nothing to concern yourself with, Mr. Potter. A previous injury must have reopened.”

“Let me see.”

I cast around for an excuse he would accept, but his tone of voice warned me I was within seconds of being ordered. I cursed myself. After all these years I could not believe I had been that careless. But I would not discuss this in front of all these people and their morbid curiosity. I took a deep breath and prepared to humble myself.

“Please, Mr. Potter. Not here. It can wait for us to get home.”

He stared into my eyes, his normal ingenuousness completely absent.

“Then we’re heading home now.”

Well, it had worked, but that was not the response I’d been looking for. Mr. Potter had never done anything like this before. He was taking a little bit of blood entirely too seriously.

“Really, Mr. Potter, skipping lectures? I must admit it’s wonderful to see such dedication and responsibility in action once again, but...”

“Severus. Do you want to do this at home, or right here?”

“At home, sir,” I muttered quietly.

“Then I suggest you remain silent until we arrive there.”

I bit back my next response. Mr. Potter wasn’t someone whose bluff it was a good idea to call. The way he had phrased that sentence was strangely familiar, but I couldn’t place the connection. I shrugged off the small mystery. I had more important things to worry about. Not even Dumbledore had caught me in my little protective mechanisms.

We arrived home still caught up in that silence. Maybe if I just sneaked off to my room, Mr. Potter would forget about…

“Now, Severus, show me that arm.”

Did I never deserve good luck?

I pushed up my sleeve as far as possible, which was mercifully only an inch or so. Without looking at Mr. Potter I gave him my arm. I still had no reasonable explanation other than the truth. I tried to predict his reaction. Disgust? Amusement?

He ran his finger over the two visible cuts.

“Show me the rest.”

“The rest, sir?”

“Don’t play stupid with me, Severus. Show me the rest.”

Ahh, anger then. Strange how that controlled coldness could be more frightening than a loud rage.

I stripped off my cloak, and then unbuttoned my shirt. The only way to see the rest of my arm was to remove it entirely. It wasn’t cold, but I still shivered when I ended up half-naked in the middle of the lounge.

“What?” I said after a tense minute of silence. “Mr. Potter, really, I hardly think my body is so enthralling that it needs such a detailed examination.”

“This is not the first time you’ve done this,” he commented almost clinically.

It didn’t seem necessary to respond.

“But you won’t be doing it again.”

His casual certainty infuriated me.

“I won’t, will I? And you, in your infinite power and goodness will prevent the evil man from desecrating his poor body. Because we can’t have that, can we?”

I paused to draw a breath, and raised my voice again.

“Might I remind you that it is not your personal duty to save every person on the planet? Might I remind you that this is my body?”

“And might I remind you that you are mine?”

I stared at him for a long moment before dropping my eyes and bowing deeply. Penance, service, servitude. Someone was not about to let me forget.

“Come with me, Severus.” It was an order, the first he had given me without me having refused a normal request first. He was driving this particular lesson home rather  thoroughly .

He walked to our reading couch and sat down. Couldn’t he have done – whatever it was he was planning on doing – somewhere else? I had… rather pleasant associations with that couch, and that wasn’t common.

“Severus, I’m not angry with you for what you did. I understand how it can be the lesser of two evils. But I want you to remember that you aren’t alone here. You are my Fidus Servus. Whatever concerns you, concerns me, and I expect you to come to me when you are feeling like this.”

“Yes, sir,” I replied insincerely.

“Severus. I mean it. Before you do anything like this again, you will come and speak with me first, is that understood?”

“You can’t enforce that with the oath,” I snapped back.

“Do I need to?”

The temperature in the room dropped again.

“No, sir.”

“Good. Now sit down.”

He manoeuvred me until I was leaning against him, and then summoned the book and a blanket. It took me some time to accept that our little conversation was truly over, and even longer to forgive it. I sat stiffly, refusing to accept the usual comfort of this position.

After half an hour, he slipped off the couch. Before I could think to get up, he had ordered me to stay put. A tense five minutes followed, as I tried to determine by sound what was going on. Finally he returned, holding – hot chocolate and ice-cream. What did I look like, five? Did I look like the kind of person who would appreciate hot chocolate and ice-cream? I consumed mine begrudgingly.

Once we had finished, he resettled me in a lying position. He reached for my head, and I closed my eyes, suppressing my urge to flinch. It took me a minute to place what he was doing. He was playing with my hair! This was intolerable. I’d been downgraded from a child to a puppy. I huffed my discontent, but Mr. Potter blithely ignored me.

I’d have to suggest getting a bigger couch if we were going to be doing this on a regular basis.

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