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Terrible Choices

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Everything hurt. Suddenly and completely, intense aching pain set into his being as his mind came back into consciousness like being doused with a bucket of ice water after stepping from a hot bath. His head throbbed and his eyes stung as he opened them against the dingy light. Severus Snape squinted through the pain to find himself in a small cot surrounded by time-worn curtains dressed only in a simple beige robe. He felt much too exposed, and underdressed. St Mungo’s - he was in hospital. He tried to sit up, and immediately regretted his actions as a wave of vertigo sent him back to the mattress nauseated.

How had he come to be here? He had meant to die. He had wanted to die. He had hoped to die. He strained his memory through the pulsing of his head. His last memory was a pair of large sparkling silvery eyes entering his fading vision as he stared up at the ceiling of the Shrieking Shack. As all feeling drained from his limbs, a metallic taste filling his mouth, and his heart struggled to keep pumping against the lost blood, he embraced the end. Then the strangely familiar eyes leaned closer before all went black.

“Oh, Professor. You are awake,” a soft songlike voice stated from somewhere beside him.

He turned to seek the source and met those very same sparkling silvery eyes. He blinked to find Ms. Luna Lovegood moving closer to his cot. Of all people to be sitting vigil at his bedside, why this one? Although anyone else would have perhaps been equally curious. He suppressed a groan.

He cleared his throat to respond which brought white hot searing pain into his neck that spread into the rest of his being like a lightning bolt, but no voice followed.

“Oh, Sir. Your throat. Try not to speak yet. Your injuries are still fresh.” Her hands hovered over him as though she wanted to touch him but thought better of it. She pulled them back, crossing her arms around her middle, her eyes wide with concern.

He reached his hands up to neck, feeling the thick dressings as the memories of the attack in the Shrieking Shack overwhelmed his thoughts. The Dark Lord, the wand, the snake, Lily’s son, the memories, the life languidly draining from his body, and then the feeling of gentle hands about his injuries and the silvery eyes as the last thing he thought he would see.

The witch rang a bell on the bedside table. “I will notify the Healers you are awake. I’m sure they can help your pain, Sir.”

He took a deep breath, swallowing down the dryness that had collected in his throat. The pain only intensified at this small gesture.

He must have grimaced or otherwise indicated his discomfort because Ms Lovegood leaned in once again and whispered, “Is it bad?” Her eyes focused on his neck.

But why was she here? How had she found him? Did this mean the War was over? How had it ended?

As if reading his thoughts Luna nodded. “We did it, Professor. He’s gone. It is finally over.”

He raised an eyebrow and nodded once.

“Harry did it. He destroyed He Who -- Voldemort, after everyone thought Harry was dead. And Neville beheaded that poor snake. But Harry wasn’t dead, can you believe it? He wasn’t, only the Death Eaters thought he was. And he did it! He surprised us all and --r.”

Of course she felt remorse for the snake. She probably felt the same toward him, some poor creature needing sympathy. She was about to continue but a wizard dressed in Healer green robes pulled back the curtain. “Ah, Mr Snape. So glad to see you awake. It’s been nearly two days since Ms Lovegood and Mr Longbottom brought you to us.”

Severus glanced over at Luna, who nodded in agreement.

“It is late Ms Lovegood.” The Healer turned to the young witch. “You should probably get some rest. I need to evaluate Mr Snape’s injuries.”

“Oh. Of course.” She bowed her head, several strands of her long blonde locks falling down around her shoulders as they came loose from her haphazard bun where she had stored her wand. “I will return in the morning. Good night, Professor.” She stood and nodded to the Healer. “Please, be gentle won’t you? He seems very uncomfortable.”

The Healer nodded in return. “Of course.”

She smiled. “Good night.”

“Good night.” The Healer said before returning his attention back to his patient. “She has been very concerned about you, Professor.”
He scoffed. His head already throbbed, but the pounding intensified. Why would she of all people feel anything but contempt and hatred toward him? She had witnessed and experienced more terrible things than most during her time trapped at Malfoy Manor than any one person should. He swallowed again, trying not to think further on those moments, and his memories were promptly replaced by another intense wave of pain in his throat conveniently pushing the memories out.

“Sir. Your injuries are healing very poorly due to the snake’s venom. I’ve devised an antivenom of sorts, but it takes time to brew. It should be complete in four days as the final ingredient must be gathered fresh under the light of the full moon. I’ve managed to slow it’s progress for now, however.”

He yearned to question the healer further on his antivenom recipe, but preferred to avoid further pain, especially if it were of no value, so only nodded in response. He remembered the Healer from his time at Hogwarts, Augustus Pye. As a student, he had met all expectations and scored O’s in O.W.L and N.E.W.T level potions. Snape supposed he was capable of even a complex antivenom potion as this was likely to require. It was his job after all.

“Now allow me to check these wounds, Sir.”

The healer pulled back the dressings and foul smell wafted up into Severus’s nares. The healer shook his head. “The dittany salves and healing potions are only minimally improving the situation. I fear you will have a nasty scar when this is over, and I am unsure how the deeper tissues will heal.”

Severus nodded again. He understood his former student was telling him he may not regain the use of his voice. As if survival had not been punishment enough.

“This is probably going to be uncomfortable.” The Healer paused and then applied a thick, greasy concoction to his neck.

Snape cringed as the shocking pain moved over him and his nostrils were invaded with the scent of dittany and camphor.

After replacing the thick dressings, the healer handed him three vials. “Wound healing potion, cough suppressant, and pain reliever. Anything else you might want, Sir?”

A swift Avada Kedavra to the chest? He shook his head.

The healer nodded and waved his wand at the odd bubble lights overhead, dimming them. “Good night, Mr Snape.”