Author: Juxian Tang
Summary: Victory over Voldemort costs dearly
This story is for Saint-Olga
"I remember... wings."
The flame of a candle is flickering, distant and hazy, and sometimes it seems to him that it goes out all in all. And then darkness swells, enveloping him, stifling, smothering darkness, like a living creature sitting on his chest.
An angular figure that seems to consist entirely of sharp lines and thicker shadows straightens in the armchair, a book tossed on the lap carelessly.
"Potter? Don't talk."
The voice doesn't belong to shadows. And it doesn't lie, doesn't falter, dry, cold and unchanging. He feels relief. It is not a fragment of his dream, not a nightmare. He knows it - it is the only thing he knows for sure. Everything before that has been vague, for how long he doesn't know, like pictures in a book quickly leafed through. Dark - light - dark - Ron's face, very pale - Hermione's face, she's crying - Dumbledore, very serious - something very bitter Pomfrey pours into his mouth - and his throat hurts so much, his chest hurts.
He has been looking for this dark figure - but could never find it.
"I remember," he says stubbornly. Don't shut me up. It is important. "I remember you."
His voice is hoarse and weak, and it feels like there are splinters of glass in his larynx. He wants to touch his throat, check if it is all right but can't raise his hand; doesn't feel it at all. It's scary.
"So, you are not amnesic. Good." The face is hidden too deeply in shadows, he can't see it, just the hands, long-fingered and very thin, clasped over the pages of an ancient book, fingertips stained with potions. And the voice, calm, has a ghost of a chuckle in it. "It would be a shame, the Boy-Who-Killed-V- Voldemort not remembering it."
Breath is caught in his throat, excruciatingly painful and wheezing, as he struggles to comprehend what is said. The man in the chair shifts, and his shadow on the wall shifts too, huge and strangely shaped.
Wings, he thinks. Wings.
"I killed him."
The truth is that he much better remembers grit on his teeth, and his fingers digging into grass, and blood running over his face from the scar - than anything else.
"Is... is everyone alive?"
Darkness comes when his eyelids, too heavy, fall down. He resists it, blinking, making himself look at the feeble light of a single candle.
"Why... are you here?"
"Someone has to be," Snape says. "I can wake up Pomfrey if you need her."
"No..." He shakes his head on the pillow, from side to side, and this motion is almost the extent of what he can do.
"All right." The voice is neutral and the absence of hostility in it bewilders Harry. Snape agreeing with something he's said - amazing.
"You were... there too."
He is afraid Snape will start denying it, and he is too hurt and already too tired to argue. But he remembers, he remembers it.
"Of course, Potter. The whole Order was there."
It was different. He was falling. And there was the sky, starry sky above him, and he couldn't breathe, he hurt, he knew he was dying, he knew he was going into this sky and there was no way back.
"You brought me back. You..."
Wings - dark, shielding the sky from him, stopping his fall, enveloping him - and there was safety, there was peace, he knew he was protected.
"Keep quiet, Potter. You'll hurt yourself."
Oh, he already hurts. But it was not *that* pain. Not like the one he felt when Voldemort's face, skull under colorless skin, was closing on him. Not like when the bony hand was pushing into his chest, wanting to tear his heart out, crushing his bones.
No, no... He wheezes again, in panic, trying to push away the memory. But it comes back and his hands, are they tied - why can't he raise them?
"Stop it. Stop it."
He doesn't know who says it - is it Snape ordering him to stop? And then recognizes his own voice, thin and croaky, begging.
The dark figure moves, rising from the chair, long folds of the robe falling down with a soft rustle. Harry gasps for breath, pitifully, as something clanks - and then Snape returns and looks down at him. His eyes are so dark they seem to be consuming light.
The sleeve of the black robe rises over Harry's face, hiding the candle from him. Smell, sharp, herbs and chemicals... he remembers it, in the safety encircling him. Cold edge of a cup clinks against his teeth.
"What is it?"
"I don't want to sleep."
I don't want darkness to come.
"Don't be difficult."
Familiar irritation infuses into the voice. The next will likely be, 'Mr. Potter, our new celebrity, is afraid of a bitter medicine.'
But he remembers. He remembers this face, so terribly pale, blood running over its left side - looking down at him - and the dark eyes not cold but wild and desperate as the voice, distorted, repeated:
He didn't know who Snape tried to revive - and frankly he didn't care much because finally he didn't feel pain. But he couldn't look away, his eyes opened and unblinking.
And then the wand was thrown aside, and Snape's face was very close, leaning even closer, and there was such panic in these eyes, such frantic determination. And Snape's lips pressed to his, forcing them apart, a warm gush of air entering him, forcefully, despite his will. And also - the heaviness on his chest, pushing, pressing, wanting something from him, something he couldn't give...
And: "Breathe, Potter! Breathe, damn it."
And suddenly pain was back, and his eyelashes fluttered, tiny spells of darkness as he blinked, and his chest hurt, heaving, going up and down. He could feel the weight of Snape's hands pressing on his ribs, and Snape's sharp knees against his side, and the warmth of his mouth still present on his lips.
"You kissed me."
The hand holding the potion falters a little, leaving a moist trace on Harry's lips.
"No." He sounds quite insulted.
"I remember it. And... and the wings."
Something changes in Snape's face, the corner of his mouth quivers but only for a moment, and then he keeps looking at Harry calmly.
"You always tended to demonize me, Potter."
He doesn't know how to argue with it. Maybe it's true. Maybe Snape is... a demon. Or something.
"Drink your potion."
"If I do... will you stay with me?"
"Don't bargain." The hand pushes the cup to his lips again.
"What answer do you want?"
"That you will stay."
Harry opens his mouth. The potion slides into it, as bitter as he expected it to be.
Snape returns to his place, sits down, picks up the book from the table.
"I should think you would be afraid to stay with me," he says in his cold, sarcastic voice. "Do you know what demons do at night?"
The cover of his book flashes in front of Harry's eyes, old Latin letters, and a stamping of a strange creature hovering over a spread body with flapping of leathery wings.
The potion already takes effect. His eyelids are heavy and everything blurs in front of his eyes.
"You're not a demon like that," he says, words slurry. "You're my demon."