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Let Me Breathe

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Severus remembers the last memory of his mum. He was only twelve. The image of his mum choking on bloodied carnations is forever etched on the back of his mind. He remembers his father beating him to a pulp when he found out that his wife had died. He remembers waking up at a hospital. He remembers being told that he was in comatose for nearly a month. He remembers the doctor’s sympathetic gaze after he asks where his mum is.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus learns that his patronus was a jaguar during DADA. It reminds him of his mum.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus was fifteen when he found out the disease that killed his mum. It was called Hanahaki. It was apparently an infamous rare disease that targets less than one percent of the wizarding population. [1] The victim coughs up flower petals when they suffer from one-sided love. It ends when the beloved returns their feelings, or when the victim dies. It can be cured through surgical removal, but when the infection is removed, the victim's romantic feelings for their love also disappears. The limited studies about the disease had shown that it was mostly hereditary. Only one out of ten thousand lineages have the genes of the disease. Apparently, the Princes are one of the bloodlines that carry out Hanahaki.

From that day on, he studied Occlumency and Legilimency.

Severus vows that he wouldn’t end up like his mother.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus was seventeen when he received a letter telling him about his inheritance. He goes to Gringotts and finds out that he was the last member of the Prince and Ravenclaw bloodline. He secretly takes the mantle of Lord Prince and Ravenclaw before assigning his seats to the neutral party.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

At the age of nineteen, Severus finished his masters and became the youngest potions master in history.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus travels to Japan, France, America and Rome to further study about his latest project. He meets different masters and trades information and techniques with them. He also visits hospitals to talk to his potential patients. All of them were already aware that he was finding a cure.

He meets a five-year-old girl named Eileen. He decides that she’s the one.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus was twenty-one when he was forcefully marked by the Dark Lord. He blames Karkaroff for dragging him into his mess.

Needless to say, Karkaroff spent the next six months in St. Mungo’s.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus was rendering his entry potion when Dumbledore shows up at his doorstep. The old man told him that he was a valuable asset and that he would like him to be on the Order of the Phoenix. He laughs at the headmaster and tells him to fuck off. He closes the door at Dumbledore’s face before he can even preach about anything else.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus tries his best to stay within the Dark Lord’s ranks without aiding them to the best of his abilities. He lies about his abilities in dueling, spell crafting, and warding. This made him useless in raids and other missions. He got crucioed for his lack of skills and Karkaroff was beaten up for lying about his “recruit’s” abilities. For this reason, he was rarely called into death eater meetings.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

One day, the Dark Lord asked him to stay behind. To his surprise, all of his elite were also present. Severus represses his shiver as the Dark Lord looks at him with a satisfied grin. Apparently, Lucius had ratted out that he was an exemptional strategist when he fought against the marauders back at Hogwarts.

Later, Lucius invites him back at Malfoy Manor to talk about what happened.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

After four years of research and trial and error, he finally finishes his potion and runic work. He immediately sets an appointment with Eileen’s healer and portkeys to America.

Eileen became the first Obscurial to be cured in history.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus was twenty-three when he was awarded the highest honor in potions making, Zygmunt’s Plaque of Excellency, by the Potions Association. He had never been so proud of himself.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus would never think that he’d see the blasted duo at his doorstep. Black and Lupin wanted to recruit him for the Order. He swears Dumbledore’s name under his breath before snarking at his uninvited guests. Before they can even draw their wands at him, he spells them immobile and vanishes them.

He packs his belongings and moves into a flat in muggle London.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Lily arrives at his new home two months after the mutts’ unwelcomed presence. She apologizes for her behavior back then and tells him that she had just recently found out that she was under spells and compulsions. She cries over his shoulder as she recalls all the lies and manipulations.

She leaves him promising to look after Harry if something happens to her and Potter.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Potter owls him no less than a day after Lily’s visit.

He also apologizes for the pranks, bullying, and everything he did wrong. He confesses that Lily had taken him for a purge in Gringotts and sure enough, he was also dosed and compelled. It explains his uncanny hatred towards Severus despite just meeting him.

He also tells him to look after Harry if something happens to them.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus was twenty-four when he learns that the Dark Lord was dead. Lily and James were also found dead. Their son had fulfilled the “prophecy”, but the four-year-old boy was nowhere to be seen. He decides to investigate about it.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

He finds out that Dumbledore dumped the boy at Petunia’s house. He carefully dismantles all of the wards around the house before knocking at the door. He threatens them with his wand before taking a shocked Harry and obliviating all of them.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus takes Harry to Gringotts to have him checked. They remove all of the compulsions, blocks, and potions given to the child.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

He lets Dorea and Fleamont have custody of their grandson. He tells them about Dumbledore’s part in their son and daughter-in-law’s death as well as his involvement in placing Harry in a magic-hating family in Surrey. The goblins advise them to move in one of their lesser known properties to put off the headmaster.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Harry cries on the day that they were about to move. The child clings to him as if he was about to disappear. Dorea and Fleamont gives him their new address and tells him to visit them when he wants to.

To Harry’s delight, he did visit often.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus had just finished filing the patent on his newest creation when the old coot appeared. He calls his house elf, Viskey, and tells him to get rid of Dumbledore.

He decides to finally move to Prince Manor. He then adds wards that repel and curse the headmaster as a precaution.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

An old colleague named Gertrude Johnson decided that he loves Severus. He sends letters and courting gifts every day to show his “love”.

Severus burns everything he receives because Gertrude was a sycophant who only loves fame and fortune.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Fleamont passes away due to natural causes when Harry was turning eleven years old. He comforts him as he watches his grandfather’s coffin get buried.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

 

Severus laughs as Lucius tells him that Dumbledore was removed as Chief Warlock. During the last session, various Lords complained about Dumbledore being senile. They pointed out how he was constantly preaching about the Dark Lord on every session if he doesn’t get his way.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus gets a letter from the Potion Association. They tell him that it was urgent.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus almost backs out when he finally learns why he was called. Memories of his mum started to flash around his mind as one of the senior members of the Potions Association explain the details.

He was called to research the Hanahaki Disease.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

He watches nonchalantly from the one-way mirror as his subject vomits daffodils in the trash bin.

He hates Hanahaki because the host only last a few months.

It leaves the host defenseless.

He hates it because it runs in his veins.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Harry was fifteen when he tells Severus that he was gay. He asks him how he figured that out. The young man replies that he fancies a bloke for quite a while now. Severus offers his support and hugs him.

He entirely misses Harry’s satisfied smile as they do so.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus eyes the golden liquid inside his vial before placing it inside his potion’s cabinet. His subject, Blake, finally agreed to drink the potion he invented.

It worked.

It killed the flower.

However, it also killed his subject’s feelings regarding love.

There was no other way.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Dorea passed away one night while she was sleeping. Harry was already of age by then. They conducted a small private burial for her. She was buried next to Fleamont at a private cemetery.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

After her death, he and Harry spent more time together. They ate dinner outside. They take walks along lakes. They read by the fire in the library. They play wizard’s chess. They see plays and movies in muggle London. They even make potions together.

Everything was fine.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Harry was eighteen when he introduced Charlie Weasley to him. He assumes that Weasley was the bloke Harry told him about. He looks at Harry with a raised eyebrow before dragging the red head to a corner to talk.

He ignores the weird tightening in his chest as he threatens the boy to never hurt Harry.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus gets nominated by a senior to be the Head during a closed session. To his shock, the vote came out unanimously. It was 56 ayes out of 4 nays.

At the age of 38, he became the youngest Head of the Potions Association.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Lucius and Narcissa took him out to celebrate in Milan. He indulges drinking expensive liquor with the company of his friends.

To make things better, Lucius tells him how the Board was finally beginning to look for a replacement for Dumbledore after all these years.

He passes out from too much liquor to remember what happened for the rest of the night.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

For the first time in his life, he dreams about his mother. He dreams of bloody petals on their chipped worn out floor. He dreams about the sound of his mum choking on carnations.

He wakes up with a start, his heart pounding loudly as he leaves the bed to get some fresh air.

He misses the white petal falling down the floor.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus was the guest speaker at a Potion’s Convention in Greece when an idiot presenter accidentally knocked his unfinished potion on him.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

He wakes up to the sound of his colleagues talking. They seem to be discussing about what happened to him earlier. He doesn’t feel any different. Maybe it was a side-effect of the potion? He does recall the idiot’s incompetency while making the potion.

When they noticed that he had awoken, they told him that the presenter had forged his documents to look like he was a licensed master and that he was currently under the custody. The magical signature was familiar, but it was still under investigation. They also asked him if he can still fulfill his responsibilities as the Head of the Potions Association.

Outraged, he demanded to know why they were assuming that he cannot fulfill his duties.

They handed him a mirror as their answer.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

To prove his capabilities as the Head, he called a closed session and presented his latest research about the potency of aconite in healing potions. He also demonstrated his several renditions of complex potions with only ten ingredients. The session ended with him delivering a speech alongside with the opportunity for the members to remove him from his position.

After a discussion, the members all agreed that Severus is still fit to be the Head even though he had been de-aged by almost a decade.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus left Britain at the age of 38 and returned as a twenty-year-old.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Harry shows up at the manor the day he returns from the closed session. He nearly faints when he sees a younger version of Severus.

Severus merely laughs and tells him about the fool who spilled his potion at the convention.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus would never admit it, but he looks forwards to Harry’s visits every now and then.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

He misses those times when it was just the two of them.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Out of the blue, owls carrying courting gifts and invitations came rushing in his Manor. Most of them were pureblooded families wishing their sons or daughters to be his spouse. He scoffs and tells Viskey to give them all to charity.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Lucius tells him that maybe he was de-aged for the sole reason of second chances. He sputters that he will never consider Draco to be a significant other. The blonde laughs and defends his son who is apparently dating a girl named Hermione Granger.

But still, he reflects on what Lucius said.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

When the “first” petal slipped out of Severus’ mouth, he knew that he was screwed. He’s confused because he doesn’t even know who he’s in love with in the first place. He shrugs his head and decides that he needs to find out who it is before jumping into conclusions.

He can always drink the potion in his cabinet anyway.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

He starts coughing up petals after a week or two and he still doesn’t have any leads. How was he supposed to face this if he doesn’t even know the root of it?

Severus decides to visit a muggle psychiatrist in Italy to help him reflect.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus thinks that the psychiatrist was lying to him when was told that he has feelings for Harry. The idea of it was ridiculous! Never in a million years would he be with someone twenty years his junior. Let alone somebody in a happy relationship.

He wasn’t in love with Harry.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

He decides to prove a point by visiting Harry himself.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Harry was drinking tea with Charlie when he visits him. The redhead greets him before smiling and offering him a seat. He sits down and asks them about their conversation out of politeness.

Harry chokes on his biscuit while Charlie shrugs. He glares at the other boy, his eyebrow raising – making a reminder about their ‘talk’ when they first met.

“We’re alright, I guess. We spend most of our time talking about – “Charlie winces as Harry discreetly elbows him.

“I-I mean, we talk about the…t-the books in the library, yes, that’s it.” He sighs but accepts his answer even if it sounded odd. He’s never been in a relationship, so he doesn’t really understand how it works.

“Charlie and I were also talking about going to a movie in muggle London later, weren’t we, Charlie?” Harry purrs, his eyes looking towards the other boy.

“Wha-oh, right.” The redhead nods, his face scrunching up as if he tasted something sour.

Severus suddenly feels a tickle on the back of his throat. He excuses himself as he coughs, his hand immediately covering up his mouth. He ignores the coppery taste of blood and swallows the petals. He couldn’t exactly spit it out in front of them. That would cause a lot of trouble.

Harry asks him if he’s alright. He lies through his teeth about swallowing at the wrong tube before excusing himself.

He misses Harry swatting Charlie for forgetting how to act.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus couldn’t exactly tell when he got attracted to Harry. He doesn’t know how or why, but somehow, he had caught feelings for him. The proof would be the flower growing inside his lungs. All of his life, he had watched over the boy as a guardian. He was even old enough to be the boy’s father for Merlin’s sake! Surely Lily and James would frown upon his feelings towards their son.

And then there’s Harry. He’ll hate him. He’ll be disgusted.

He tugs his hair and thinks about the consequences of drinking the potion. It would mean falling out of love. Oh, how easy would it solve his problems! The only downside is that he would cease all emotions regarding love about the person, may it be platonic, romantic, and even familial. He can’t do that to Harry.

He promised them that he would look after him.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

He decides to hide his feelings in the end.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

 

He dreams of gentle kisses and caresses as Harry makes love to him. He dreams of bearing their children and being happy and –

He wakes up and vomits bloody flowers on the floor.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

 

Lucius was beaming when he invites him at the Malfoy Manor. The older Malfoy joyfully tells him that McGonagall was now the headmaster of Hogwarts. Dumbledore had been forced to retire and was taken to a private wizarding hospital in Vienna. As it turns out, his excessive consumption of lemon drops had somehow rotten his brain. After that, he talks about how he’ll be hosting a gala to celebrate the old man’s removal.

He hands him an invitation to the gala before prying about the recent happenings in his life.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

When he opened the invitation at home, he curses Lucius in his mind. He should’ve opened it when they were talking earlier.

The invite states that he needs to bring at least one guest or date to the gala.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

As the day of the gala comes nearer, his coughing has also gotten worse. He’s been spitting out flower buds for a couple days now. He secretly buys a secluded property near the Potions Association in Rome for emergency reasons.

He would rather die somewhere where no one can find him.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus finally gets the guts to invite Harry and Charlie on the night before the gala. He apparates there and looks for them since no one answered. He finds them in the ballroom. Harry and Charlie were dancing a slow waltz in the middle. Harry’s head was covered by the redhead’s and judging by how they dance…

They look happy.

Severus tries to steady his breathing, but he couldn’t. His chest tightens and his hands begin to shake.

He closes the door as silently as he can and flees.

He misses Harry thanking Charlie for teaching him how to dance properly with Severus for the gala.

 

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus laughs inside his room as he thought about the irony of it all. He remembers swearing that he wouldn’t end up like his mother. He remembers promising to guard his heart until he dies. He packs his belongings and portkeys to Rome on the same day.

There is no way in hell that he would attend the gala after all that had happened earlier.

He sends Lucius a letter about an emergency at the Potions Association to cover for his absence.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

The next day, Severus coughs until his throat finally expels what blocked his airways.

He wasn’t surprised when he sees a whole bloody camellia on his palm.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus suddenly thought about Blake while he was lying on his bed.

So this was how Blake feels back then.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

He receives a letter from Lucius hours later. His friend was furious because he found out that there wasn’t an emergency at the Potion’s Association. But being the good friend that he was, he lets it slide because he wouldn’t lie without a good reason. He wishes him well and tells him to come over if everything turns out well on whatever he was doing.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

He sends a letter to Harry after the gala. He tells him that he’s handling some personal business at the moment. He’ll him all about it once he gets back.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus makes a show about an idiot forgetting to file something at the Potion's Association to Harry.

His heart breaks when he hears that Harry looked for him for the entire night at the gala.

It breaks even more when they hugged, and the camellia in his lungs began to shoot.

He ignores the lone tear that rolls down his cheek.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus comes back to work a week after the event. He looks a little worse for wear, but it’s something a strong glamour can fix. He approves the stack of patents and requests pending on his office. He supervises new potion masters. He acts as a consultant to his fellow masters whenever they want an opinion about their research. He develops programs to young prodigies of herbology and potions.

He coughs flower buds somewhere in between his duties.

No one noticed a thing.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus announces that he’ll be working on a project regarding lycanthropy in one closed session. His fellow masters cheer as all of them believing in his skill and passion in potions and runes.

He appoints Master Oneus as Acting Head during his research.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

The news of his project spread like wildfire along the potion’s community. It didn’t take long for newspapers, periodicals and magazines all around the globe to receive the news. The whole wizarding world rejoiced. They have faith in the Head of the Potion’s Association.

After all, he did create a cure for Obscurus.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus isolates himself from the world in his property in Rome.

He closes the floo network and places a powerful ward that repels owls and patronuses. Anti-apparition wards were also placed around the property.

He doesn't have the heart to tell Harry about anything.

He spends his days researching about lycanthropy inside his laboratory. He studies the effects of the full moon. He hypothesizes different combinations and correlates them with his runic works.

He lets himself think that if he’ll die doing something he loves.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus casts his patronus while he was sitting by the garden. To his surprise, the white wisp turned into a doe instead of a jaguar.

He laughs and laughs with tears falling from his eyes.

Viskey takes him inside when he begins to choke on the camellias in his throat.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

There are some days that the tightening in his chest seem to worsen. He lays in bed all day and pukes dozens of bloodied flowers in a bucket.

Viskey looks on his young master with saddened eyes. He was told to never inform anyone about it. He takes care of his master as best as he can.

He knows that he lost his mistress in the same way.

He won’t let it happen to his young master.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Severus collapses on the day that he gets a breakthrough on his research.

He smiles.

He won’t have to suffer anymore.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

The first thing he sees was green. Even in death, the first thing he sees are Harry’s beautiful green eyes.

Lady Magic must’ve really hated him.

But then, his eyes wander around the white room. Realization hits him like a bullet.

He wasn’t dead.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

He curses Viskey and looks away from Harry’s piercing gaze. This wasn’t supposed to happen. He was supposed to die!

“Why didn’t you tell me?” He watches as Harry wipes his bloodshot eyes.

“…t-there was nothing...I...i...can do.” Severus rasps between pants. His throat feels full.

He can’t breathe.

He wants to throw up.

“Who is it?”

“n-no….” Severus suspires. He doesn’t want to have this conversation. He already knew the answer.

“Please, tell me. I-I can’t lose you like this. Whoever it is, they’re not worth it. Just drink the potion. Everything will be fine. Please.”

”But you are worth it,” Severus desperately wants to say – but he can’t. He’s too weak and scared to admit it. He doesn’t want to lose him either.

Harry goes to his side and touches his cheek. His heart flutters at the touch.

He smiles as he feels the flowers push through his throat. His lips were already dripping with blood.

He can only tighten his hold on Harry as he tries to breathe with his constricted lungs.

He was so lost trying that he almost misses it.

“No! I-I love you, Severus. I wish I told you sooner. P-please, don’t leave me.”

He looks at Harry with glassy eyes before surrendering to the pain.

But he didn’t feel it.

For the first time in so many weeks, he breathes comfortably.