"There is truly nothing you can do?" Severus demanded of the Healer. "I find that hard to believe."
"We have no idea what he was hit with," Healer Resswell said helplessly. "I will run some more tests back at Mungo's but we may be forced to wait and see if he comes out of it."
"And if he does not?" Severus snapped.
Healer Resswell looked grim. "I will be in touch," he said simply. "Call me if anything changes."
He stepped into the Floo and disappeared. Snape cursed and hurried back up the stairs to Harry's room. He had avoided taking him to St. Mungo's for fear that the media would catch on. That would be all he needed. Severus sat down gently on Harry's bed. He lay still, not having moved since Severus laid him there in the middle of the night. He seemed okay except for the lack of consciousness. That was a bit of a problem. Severus stroked Harry's hair away from his peaceful face. He felt so helpless. There was nothing he could do for his son. All of his potions were worthless if he did not know which one to use.
As Severus sat worrying about what would happen if Harry never did come around, he heard a quiet knock on the doorframe. Snape looked up as Sirius came in, looking grim. It was an expression that did not generally grace his features.
"How's he doing?" Sirius asked quietly.
"Oh, just fine," Severus replied bitterly. "Except for the fact he has not moved since he was hit."
"What was he hit with?" Sirius asked.
"I do not know."Severus had sent Sirius a note saying that Harry was hurt, feeling that when Harry woke, he would want them both there. Severus dearly hoped he would wake. Snape looked at Harry for a moment longer before the ache in his chest was too much to take. He stood abruptly and began pacing the room. Sirius assumed his spot on the bed. After a moment of thinking, Severus headed for the door.
"Watch him, will you?" Severus snapped.
"Of course," Sirius replied, looking down at Harry with a concerned expression. When Severus returned a few minutes later, he was carrying a large volume.
"What's that?" Sirius asked.
"A list of almost every known spell and its effects," Severus said dryly. He opened the front cover and started from the beginning.
The next few days passed in a state of heightened tension. Visitors came and went sporadically, each spending a little time at Harry's bedside. Severus was not much of a host. He walked around with his eyes glued to the book of spells, hoping to find something that matched Harry's condition. All he knew was that the light was blue. It was very little to go on. He generally ignored everyone who tried to speak to him, waving off their comments of concern both for him and for Harry. He did not need their well wishes, he needed his son back.
Hermione and Draco came to visit one day. She had been staying with the Malfoys for a few days after the World Cup for it was easier to come visit Harry that way.
"Hey there, Harry," Hermione said, sitting next to him and rubbing his hand. Severus watched as Draco placed a comforting hand on her arm. Hermione looked up at him sadly.
"Severus, may I speak with you?" Narcissa asked from beside him.
"I would rather no one did, but I suppose you may, provided you have something important to say." Severus was in a perpetually foul-tempered mood.
They stepped into the hall, closing the door to Harry's room.
"Did you hear what happened after you left the World Cup?" she asked. "I know you've been avoiding the papers and such. Well, avoiding everything really."
"No, I did not." Severus spoke impatiently, "I don't care, either, but I suppose you will tell me anyway, so get on with it."
Narcissa sighed in a feminine way. "You saw the Dark Mark cast?"
"It was done with Draco's wand," she said.
Severus merely tilted his head.
"Now they think Lucius is controlling him from prison and that he cast it," she said with a sigh. "In reality, he simply lost it or it was stolen. We told the Ministry that but I don't think they really believe us. The only reason they haven't arrested him is because they think him too young to know how to do that. So now they think we are helping the Death Eaters. They're very suspicious, Severus," she said forcefully. "Please, do you know who cast it?"
"Severus," she said imploringly.
"No, I truly do not," Severus said honestly. "I only saw his silhouette. I can assure them that it was not Draco but I doubt they will believe me, of all people." He paused. "May I get back to my book now?"
She looked at him strangely. "Of course."
Sirius had apparently moved back in for the time being. Between the two of them, someone was with Harry at all times. As each day went by, Severus felt his hope slipping farther and farther away. The Healers had come up with nothing and now over halfway through the book, Severus had not either. Severus stared at Harry, thoughts drifting.
Sirius's arrival brought him back to reality. "The Weasleys just left. Molly dropped off a casserole."
"I am not hungry," Severus said.
Sirius stepped closer. "Severus you haven't eaten in almost a whole day. Come on, I'll watch Harry for a while."
Severus shook his head forcefully.
"That's not what I was going to say," Sirius snapped. "What if Harry's hungry?"
Severus looked up. That was true. It had been almost five days that he had been in this state. Though the Healers said that his functions were slower than normal, he would need sustenance sometime.
"Have Midgy bring up a cup of water and some sort of liquid nourishment," he commanded Sirius. Sirius disappeared.
When he returned, Sirius placed the cup of water and protein shake on the stand next to Harry. A straw poked out of each. Sliding an arm behind Harry, Severus shifted him to an upright position. With Sirius's help, they gave him some of each substance, using a swallowing charm to get it down. It required a great deal of patience and where Sirius grew fidgety, Severus remained steady. When at last they were finished, Severus lowered Harry down again, still caught in a state of indefinite slumber.
Again, there was nothing to do but wait.
A week from the attack, Sirius and Severus sat in Harry's room once more. It was late evening and Severus was reading again. Sirius tapped his foot on the ground.
"Stop that," Severus ordered.
"Oh, come on, Snape!" Sirius said in exasperation. "Reading that book isn't going-"
"I said, shut up!" Severus growled, leaning forward and staring at the book intently. "Here it is. Wenterment Curse. 'A difficult curse that interferes with the electrical signals in the victim's body, rendering him paralyzed. Automatic body functions continue as normal though voluntary movements are impossible. Manifests in a bolt of blue light and can be lethal if tissues go too long without re-establishing connection with brain signals,'" Severus's voice cracked. He continued, "'Remedied by a Bolarum Solution."
Severus's heart sped up.
"How long will that take?" Sirius asked urgently.
"I have the component solutions in my lab but it will take two hours to mix," Severus said. He prayed it was not too late.
"Can't you do it faster?" Sirius demanded.
Snape shot him an intense glare. "If I do this wrong, if I do it rushed, Harry may not come back."
He turned on his heel and stormed from the room. He headed straight for his lab, already planning out his every move once he stepped inside.
Harry felt the cool rim of a bottle at his lips and sputtered, spiting out the potion in his mouth. He forced his eyes open with effort and blinked a few times. Before Harry could register where he was, he was enveloped in a tight hug. Eyes clearing, Harry recognized the black hair next to his face and the faint smell of potion fumes.
"Dad?" he muttered, finding it difficult to think and speak. The figure holding him stiffened slightly. Severus squeezed him tightly one more time before letting go. Such a display of emotion was very unexpected from him.
"Harry," he said, voice thick. Harry noted his guardian's slightly watery eyes. What was going on?
"Are you okay, Severus?" Harry asked, fogginess of the brain receding. Harry could think clearly now. He was honestly concerned for his guardian's sanity, he was acting so strange.
His guardian's large hands gripped Harry's shoulders. "I am better than fine. I thought I would never get you back."
"What?" Harry asked, "What happened?" Memory came flooding back to Harry in a wave of such force that he gasped. "Severus! Are you okay?"
"You just asked me that, Harry," Severus said in a gently admonishing and slightly amused tone.
"But they... what did they do to you? You fell and I thought... I thought..." Harry stammered. He did not know the spell with which they had hit Severus but it didn't seem pleasant.
"I am just fine now, thanks to you," Severus said earnestly. He gave him another one armed hug. "Even though you should have run like I told you."
"I couldn't just leave you," Harry protested. For the first time since waking, Harry looked around, noting that he was back in his own room. He caught a glimpse of Sirius standing in the other corner. "Sirius!"
He came over with a wide grin and a hug. "Good to see you, Harry."
"Why didn't you say anything?" Harry asked.
Sirius shrugged. "I didn't want to interrupt the moment. You guys are really sweet."
Harry blushed lightly. "What happened to me anyway?"
"You were hit with a curse that left you paralyzed," Severus said. "We could not wake you until we figured out what it was. I read almost that whole book looking for it," Severus said, gesturing towards the thick book that sat on a chair across the room.
Harry's eyebrows lifted. "How long was I out then?"
"A week," Sirius said.
"A week!" Harry exclaimed. "What day is today?"
"August 15th," Sirius replied. "You hungry?"
"Very," Harry replied.
"I'll go ask Midgy to start something," Sirius said. He left the room.
Harry tossed back his covers. He swung his legs to the side of the bed, feet resting on the floor. Severus came over to that side as Harry tried to stand. His knees gave way and he was forced to grab the post of his bed to keep from collapsing.
Severus helped him to straighten. "Alright?"
"Yeah," Harry said. "My legs don't feel right."
"I am hoping that is from a week of inactivity and not the curse."
"Me too," Harry said. With Severus's help, he made his way to the door. Slowly, they were able to descend the steps towards the kitchen where Harry collapsed onto a chair with relief. "Man, I really hope that gets better."
"You've have visitors," Sirius said, taking Harry's mind off of his condition. "A whole bunch."
"Really?" Harry asked, brow furrowed. "What'd they do? I wasn't really much company."
Sirius shrugged. "No one seemed to care."
In a few minutes, food appeared on the table. Harry dug in eagerly.
"Not too much, Harry," Severus warned. "Your stomach is unused to food."
Harry frowned and forced himself to slow.
"So what happened anyway?" Harry asked. "Why were the Death Eaters there?"
"Terrorism, I suppose," Severus said.
"And after I passed out?" Harry asked.
"The Dark Mark was set off by someone with Draco's wand."
"What?" Sirius and Harry said together.
"It seems it was stolen. He is suspect but is considered too young to have done it himself," Severus stated. "They do not know who did it."
"But what's the Dark Mark?" Harry asked honestly.
Severus considered him for a moment. "It was His symbol. He branded his servants with it. When the Dark Mark was set off over someone's house, they generally did not live to see the morning."
Harry shivered involuntarily. He pushed around the food on his plat, not as hungry anymore. Silence reigned for a moment before Harry built up the courage to voice his thoughts.
"Do you have one?" Harry asked. Immediately after he did, he wanted to retract it. Severus did not look mad, just odd. Even as good as he had gotten at reading Severus's elusive emotions, he could not tell what he was feeling. He looked uncomfortable, regretful. Guarded.
After staring at Harry for a moment, Severus unbuttoned his cuff and rolled up the sleeve on his left arm. He turned it palm up so that Harry could see, face remaining inscrutable the whole time.
Harry didn't look right away. He maintained eye contact with Severus for another moment before turning his gaze to the skull and snake design etched in thick black lines on Severus's arm. Harry looked away.
"Is there any way to remove it?" Harry asked quietly.
"None has been discovered," Severus said, covering it up once more.
Sirius looked very uncomfortable. "i'm going to go and, uh, see if Midgy needs help."
He left. Harry and Severus sat in a strained silence.
"Sorry," Harry said.
Severus's brow furrowed. "What for? You have done nothing for which you need to apologize."
Harry shrugged. "I'm sorry that happened to you. I'm sorry I freaked you guys out. Sorry I made you show me. I'm sorry."
Severus gave him an intense look. "You have nothing to apologize for. I am just happy to have you back," he said. "And as for this, it was entirely my fault. I must live with the consequences."
Harry frowned lightly. "I wish I could help."
Harry smiled weakly.