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23 September 2007 @ 12:13 am
Fic: Epilogue  
Title: Epilogue
Pairing: Snape/Sirius
Rating: PG
Warnings: Angst, infected wounds
Disclaimer: Alas, nothing is mine.
Summary: Almost twenty years later. The memory remains.
A/N: Ninth and final part in my Snack series. Previous parts are Midnight Company, Best Laid Plans, Mischief Managed, Revelations and Realizations, The One That Really Matters, Moste Potente Potions, Happy Holidays and Sectumsempra.

This is for everyone who's like me and can't live with an unhappy ending. Thank you so much for all the positive feedback you gave me with every new chapter. It was a joy to write for people like you. :) I'd also like to point out that I have no idea how to actually treat an infected wound.




Epilogue



The beginning of July was rainy and cool. The sky above Spinner's End was grey with thick clouds. Rain was pouring down and falling against the dirty kitchen windows. Snape finished his tea and set the cup on the chipped saucer. He stared out and watched the sky turn a darker shade of grey as the sun was slowly sinking beneath the horizon. The few belongings he had brought with him for the summer were piled neatly in a brown cardboard box. It stood on the kitchen table where he had set it two weeks ago. The last rays of sunlight disappeared behind the distant treetops and Snape narrowed his eyes. He leaned forward in his chair and fixed his gaze on the unkempt bushes in front of his house. He thought he saw something move in the grey dusk – a large shadow. But the thing had disappeared into the thickets and Snape figured the pouring rain had played tricks on his eyes. Nevertheless, he was gripping his wand.


Snape stood up and placed his teacup into the rusty sink. The pipes gave a loud moan when he turned the faucet and filled the porcelain cup with lukewarm water. He made his way into the dark sitting room and pointed his wand at the wooden chandelier that hung from the dirty ceiling. The old candles caught fire and filled the room with a warm, flickering light. Snape went through one of the bookshelves and pulled out a small, brown-covered book. He took a seat in Tobias Snape's old armchair and coughed as the ever present dust tickled his throat.


It was hours later when a feeble scratching sound caught his attention. The memory of the fleeting shadow hadn't left his mind and Snape put the book aside and glanced around. He listened intently but the room was quiet. His hand shot into his robes and he pulled his wand out. As he got up from the chair, the sound reached his ears for a second time. It was much weaker but Snape could tell it was coming from the front door. He held his wand at the ready, crossed the small distance and came to stand at the wooden door. The sound had ceased. Snape opened the door slightly and peeked out into the darkness. There was no one there. He lit his wand and pointed it through the crack in the doorway. The rain was still falling in heavy curtains and the night sky was full of black clouds. As he attempted to open the door wider, Snape discovered there was something in the way. He lowered his eyes and pointed his wand at the cement doorstep.


Sprawled at his feet was an unmoving furry black heap. Snape didn't need to look closer to know what it was. Sirius Black had managed to slip from the Dementors only three weeks ago and the memory of their unhappy reunion in the Shrieking Shack was fresh in his mind. The dog looked mangier than before. The black fur was wet and there were hairless spots on the hind legs. Black was presumably unconscious and there was a large gash on his weakly rising flank. Snape stared down with furious eyes. He was shaking with a mixture of anger and excitement. Get the Dementors, a voice in his head was saying. Get the Dementors before the mongrel gets a chance to die on your doorstep. But as he watched the miserable heap at his feet, Snape realized something unexpected was silencing the voice. Something that hadn't had a chance to surface during their first meeting with Lupin and the three brats around. A memory from long ago, so well repressed that it was almost impossible to remember. His mind provided him with a blurry image of his fifteen-year-old self, sitting under an old tree and stroking the fur of a big, shaggy dog. It was so long ago that it felt like it had happened in another life, but the thought of fetching the Dementors was pushed aside - for now.


Snape crouched down and pointed his illuminated wand at the dog's face. A long, pink tongue was lolling out between its slack jaws and the eyes remained closed. Snape could hear Black's breathing was labored. He turned his eyes to the long wound on the shaggy flank. It wasn't bleeding and Snape could see it wasn't fresh. Black had probably been walking around injured for at least a week, because the wound was definitely infected. Snape's brows furrowed as he continued to stare at the unconscious dog. What had happened? Had Black been in a fight with some wild animal? The frown on Snape's pale face deepened. How did the man know where to find him? Snape didn't remember sharing his home address with Black. Yet, there he was, half-dead on his doorstep. Why had Black decided to come to him for help? Wasn't it clear that Snape would hand him over to the Dementors? He most certainly didn't believe Black's ridiculous story. The man may have fooled Potter and the old codger, but Snape knew Black was lying. And he kept repeating this every time a trace of doubt sneaked its way into his mind.


Snape stared at the dog for a while longer before making up his mind. He could simply leave Black out here and let him die on his doorstep. Or he could call the guards of the Azkaban prison and let them deal with their escaped convict. Snape would get to witness the Dementor's Kiss and Black had a notable reward on his head. The gold would definitely come in handy. Snape blinked as he heard the dog's wheezy breathing grow slightly weaker. Of course there was also the third option.


Snape pursed his lips and exhaled through his nose. He pushed his wand back into his robes and took the wet animal into his arms. Its bony flanks shivered under his touch but the dog didn't come to its senses. Snape was surprised Black was so light in his arms. In his youth he had been huge in the Animagus form. But a lot had happened since they were fifteen years old and the healthy, black dog was just a memory. Snape stepped inside and closed the door behind him. He made his way to the old, lumpy sofa and lowered the animal onto it; not in a very graceful manner. Black let out a weak yelp but his eyes remained closed. Snape removed his robes, now wet and probably covered in vermin. He knelt down beside the unconscious dog and nearly gagged at the smell of its dirty, wet fur. Snape forced his nausea aside and turned his eyes to the long wound. It was hard to examine it with all the wet fur around it. Snape frowned as he noticed the hind legs were covered in small cuts as well. He would definitely need to treat Black in his human form.


“You need to transform,” he told Black in a flat voice but got no response. Snape sighed and stood up. He made his way into the kitchen and took out an old enamel pot. He filled it with water and set it on the rusty stove. He got a fire going under the dented pot and began to look for clean cloths. When Snape returned to the sitting room ten minutes later, he was carrying the boiling water and some rags with him. He had also found a few bottles of medicine for cleaning the wounds, and a pair of Muggle tweezers.


Snape stopped in the doorway. Black was still unconscious on the sofa but he had transformed into his human form. And the sight filled Snape with unexpected rage. Sirius Black on his sitting room couch was much worse than the mangy dog. Snape's eyes were drilling into the limp body and his hands were shaking with fury. The dented pot swayed and the hot water inside rippled. Several droplets landed on his hands and Snape hissed, his eyes darting to the red skin. He forced himself to calm down and stepped into the sitting room.


Snape set the medicine, the boiled water, the pile of rags and some other supplies on a small coffee table. For a moment he just stood at the foot of the sofa and stared at Black. He had been a miserable sight in the Shrieking Shack, and Snape had been sure he couldn't possibly look any worse. But Black was obviously ill and his pallid, gaunt face was covered in sweat. He was shivering and Snape was fairly certain Black was having fever-induced nightmares. As Snape watched the withered body in front of him, the boiling fury reduced into the steady anger he had been carrying with him for decades. Black was covered in the same dirty Azkaban clothes he had worn since his escape. It was impossible to tell their original color and the dark stripes had faded under layers of dirt. Black's matted hair was sweaty and unwashed and it clung to his pale cheeks in dark, wet strings. A quick glimpse of the man's fifteen-year-old self flashed before his eyes, and Snape was taken aback as he realized what the years had done to Sirius Black.


Concentrating on the here and now, Snape knelt down and rolled up his sleeves. He reached for the hem of the ragged prison shirt. It was no doubt crawling with vermin and Snape wrinkled his nose in disgust as he began to lift it up. He revealed a hollow stomach, brown with dirt and dried blood. The sight would have been bad enough even without the angry purple gash Black had on his right flank. The skin surrounding it was swollen and red. The wound itself was oozing with pus and the smell was so strong that it reached Snape's nostrils even as he leaned back from the horrible sight. He turned around and used his wand to cast a rinsing spell on his hands. He pulled on a pair of latex gloves he sometimes used when he was teaching his Potions class and had to deal with poisonous ingredients. His supplies in the run-down apartment were lacking, but Snape had been fortunate enough to find the gloves in the cardboard box he'd brought with him. He uncorked the brown bottles and used the medicine to prepare a disinfectant solution. He soaked one of the bandages in the hot solution and turned to face Black.


Snape pressed his gloved hand on the quivering stomach and brushed the wound with his fingers. The surrounding skin was hot and the wound seemed to throb in time with Black's heartbeats. Some of the greenish pus spread out and flowed onto his fingers. The body on the couch jerked and Snape's eyes darted up to Black's sweaty face. He was still unconscious but his eyelids were beginning to flutter rapidly. Had the wound not been so badly infected, Snape could have used magic to fix it. But he would have to get rid of the infection before he could seal the wound. Snape took the soaking, hot bandage into his hands and pressed it on the injury. Black's eyes shot open and he cried out in pain. Snape had to hold his trashing body down as he convulsed on the couch.


“Stay still, Black,” Snape said in a firm voice. Black's frantic grey eyes were shining with fever and he didn't seem to have any idea where he was. His head turned from side to side as his eyes darted around the small room.


“Spinner's End,” Black croaked in a hoarse voice. “The chimneys... And the river...”


“Relax,” Snape said and forced the sick man to stay down. “You made it, you're here. I'll take care of you now.”


“Snape?” Black whispered. He stared at Snape and there was a hint of recognition in his wild, feverish eyes.


“Yes.” Snape nodded and turned his attention to the wound. He dabbed the skin with the wet cloth and felt the muscles in Black's stomach contract. “Your wound is infected,” he explained and glanced at Black's face, but the other man had passed out again and his body had gone slack. Snape raised his brows, his eyes fixed on the gaunt face. The part of him that felt the relentless and almost sadistic hatred toward Sirius Black wished the man would be conscious when he began to drain the pus, just so he could feel the pain. But as Snape continued to watch the face, now ruined by Azkaban, he thought he could see the once handsome and carefree features shine through like an eerie window to the past. The long-forgotten memories fortified, and blinking his eyes, Snape fixed his grip on the cloth and made sure he wasn't pressing the wound too hard.


After he had soaked the gash for fifteen minutes, Snape was fairly sure the surrounding skin was soft enough. He turned around and reached for the tweezers. Sterilizing them in the disinfectant solution, he turned to face Black and removed the cloth, still covering the wound. Snape watched the sharp tweezers, and glancing at Black, he decided it was best to wake him up before he began to drain the wound. He knew it was painful and Black would definitely come to his senses. Snape didn't want him to jump up when he had his fingers inside the wound. He shook the body, not too roughly but with enough force to bring Black out of his fever dreams. “Wake up.”


Black's eyes fluttered open and he seemed to have forgotten their previous conversation. “Spinner's End,” Black whispered again with a manic glint in his eyes.


Snape ignored his muttering and forced Black to listen. “I have to clean your wound, it's badly infected.” He paused, not sure if Black had understood his words. “It will hurt,” Snape continued. “Black? Do you understand what I'm saying?” Black gave a vague nod and Snape thought he saw a trace of clarity in the feverish eyes. “Try to hold still.”


Pressing his left hand on Black's hip, Snape used the tweezers to pry the edges of the wound open. He spread the angry gash and felt his eyes water as the pus flowed out and its stench filled his nostrils. Black was shaking and biting his cracked lower lip, trying to keep his body still. Snape took some of the pieces of cloth he'd ripped and sterilized them with a simple spell. Using the tweezers, he began to dab the wound, careful not to cause any extra pain as Black was already in visible agony. His breathing was shallow and small streams of sweat poured down his temples. When the surrounding skin was clean, Snape began to probe deeper to remove the concealed pus. Black swore loudly and Snape could see his glazed eyes were watering. He had to tighten his hold on the bony hips when they began to thrust up. Black's chest was bent in an arch as Snape's fingers continued to probe deeper.


“Stay still,” Snape hissed. "Black. Stay still." When the body went slack, he knew Black had passed out again.


It took a long time before the wound was completely clean. Snape had to let it soak in the solution for half an hour before he could dry it and spread some ointment on it. He dressed the wound and bandaged Black's still swollen flank. The body on the couch remained unconscious and Snape turned his attention to the limp legs. He had noticed small cuts on them when Black had been in his animal form.


Snape realized he would have to remove the filthy trousers to get a clear view of the wounded skin. He used his wand to rip each hem in half. Spreading them aside, Snape laid his eyes on a pair of bony legs, covered in dirt and small cuts. And there, visible on the right leg were two familiar scars. The sight made Snape cringe but he was unable to pull his eyes away. They were the scars from his spell. The spell that had put an abrupt end to the... thing they had shared during their fifth year at Hogwarts, so many years ago. It hadn't been friendship and it most definitely hadn't been love. But it had been something Snape had continued to carry with him in his memories; and all the painful things that happened after could't take it away.


The tendons in his throat worked to swallow away the sudden flood of old guilt. Averting his eyes from the scars, Snape turned to look at the unconscious Black. The man had once kept a secret for him and Snape had been saved from a certain expulsion. He knew this was his chance to repay his debt. He would help Black back into health and he would allow him to slip away unnoticed. The Dementors would get him sooner or later, but Snape's conscience would be clear.


*



Sirius's fever dreams were full of cloaked figures and their bone-chilling presence. But every once in a while he would dream of a grey sky and factory chimneys, of a brown river and a cobbled road. Spinner's End, his subconscious kept saying. Get to Spinner's End. He'll be there and he will help you.


Sirius knew, even in his feverish state that there was a very good chance that Snape wouldn't help him. There was a huge risk of getting captured and being sent to the Dementors. The anger he'd seen in Snape's eyes in the Shrieking Shack had been so pure and so strong that Sirius thought it was bordering obsession. Obsession to see him in pain, to see him suffer the Dementor's Kiss, obsession to get revenge for all the things that happened in their youth. But it was the thought of their youth that made Sirius head for Spinner's End after being injured. If the other man could only remember what they had shared for those precious few months almost twenty years ago, Sirius knew Snape wouldn't let him die on his doorstep.


Sirius drifted awake from his dreams and his surroundings were blurry. There were dark shadows dancing on the walls around him, and a hand was gently dabbing his forehead with something cool. His eyes closed and there were more restless dreams. The next time he awoke, it was dark and very cold. Sirius knew he was back in his dank cell in Azkaban and he began to scramble up. A dark figure was looming above him and pressing him down.


“Stay still, Black,” a voice spoke. “You've got a high fever, you're hallucinating.” A candle was lit and the darkness was pushed aside. The dark figure had a familiar face and Sirius allowed his eyes to close again.


He continued to wake up from his fever dreams. Sometimes there were cool hands on his stomach, treating the wound he knew to be there. And other times the fever made him shake so badly that he would wake up to his own trembling. From time to time, a hand would sneak behind his neck and lift his head up. A glass was brought to his lips and Sirius swallowed the bitter drink it contained. It seemed the room around him was always dim and Sirius didn't know how long he had been laying there. He wondered briefly whether Buckbeak was still waiting for him on the borders of the town. Sirius knew he would've been dead long ago without the Hippogriff's help. He was aware that his clothes were gone and he was covered in shabby blankets. There was a presence in the room every time he awoke, and Sirius knew Snape was sitting in the armchair close by, watching him.


Sirius didn't know what day it was when he finally woke up with clear eyes. The fever was beginning to fade and his vision wasn't hazy. The room around him was dark and quiet, and Sirius realized Snape's presence was gone for the first time. He sat up and grimaced as the skin around his stomach felt sore. But it felt like the wound had sealed. He was still naked and Sirius could see white bandages twined around his torso. He glanced around and realized the room was indeed empty.


There was something on the coffee table in front of him. Sirius leaned in to get a better view. A set of clothes, a bottle of medicine and something that looked like a small parcel of food. Snape had probably left them there, expecting Sirius to be gone by morning. Not wanting to disappoint the man, Sirius got up and stood on trembling feet. He took the clothes Snape had left for him and got dressed as quickly as his weak limbs would allow him. He grabbed the medicine and the food and started toward the front door.


With his fingers on the handle, Sirius glanced into the hallway between the sitting room and the dark kitchen. He could see a set of stairs leading to the upper floor. His fingers on the door handle loosened and Sirius pulled his hand back. He stepped into the dark hallway and stood at the bottom of the narrow stairs. The landing above was hardly visible in the inky darkness. Sirius didn't know what made him take the first step, and when he was halfway up, his chest was heaving with exhaustion. He transformed into Padfoot, thinking it would be less painful to climb on four legs. When he finally reached the dark landing, he glanced around. There were three doorways with no doors left. He smelled the air and got a scent. Sirius transformed into his human form and took a step toward the furthest room to his left. The floor boards creaked under his weight and Sirius grit his teeth, trying to make as little noise as possible. He came to stand in the doorway and the room beyond was dark. Sirius stared inside and felt his pupils dilate. Amid the dark shapes he could see an unmoving figure, sitting in a rickety armchair. Sirius stood still and watched Snape for a long time. His wounds were treated and his fever was down. Snape had remembered. “Thanks,” Sirius whispered in a soft voice. He got no answer and the body in the chair didn't budge, but Sirius could sense Snape was awake. He stepped away from the door and disappeared into the shadows.


*



The morning was chilly and gloomy. It was hard to believe it was July. Snape descended the narrow staircase and stopped to stare into the empty sitting room. There was still a damp spot on the dented couch and the room smelled of fever and infection. But Black was gone. He had taken the things Snape had left for him and was probably miles away by now. Snape looked away from the couch and stepped into the kitchen. He put the kettle on and took a seat at the small table.


The past seven days had been exhausting and Snape felt weakened by the lack of sleep. He watched the grey dawn and stroked a finger across his lower lip. He knew how Black had found him. Snape had remembered the Christmas Eve they had spent together long ago. It was the night when he shared his memories with Black through Legilimency. And Black had remembered them all these years. Snape guessed he'd never find out what had given Black the injury. And he didn't really care. He told himself this past week hadn't changed anything. Old memories had surfaced but Snape assured himself the hatred was still there, flowing in his veins strong as ever. And he still didn't allow himself to believe Black's story. But if Dumbledore was letting Black fool him, Snape had a feeling that some day soon, his path would cross with Sirius Black for a second time.


The end
 
 
 
nuuknuuk on September 22nd, 2007 09:50 pm (UTC)
*huokaus* voi ei :/

It's just that you know that even if their paths really would cross again, Sirius is still going to die. Ouch.

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

It never is happy ending for this couple - and maybe that's why SS/SB is my OTP.

I would say this fic series was excellent but that word has too much MrBurns-vibes... *cough* And adjectives like "awesome" and "great" aren't really suitable for such an angsty story like this, are they... So, humh, thanks for writing (and drawing), I really really liked this.
not telling!: Snape OotPyorda_ on September 23rd, 2007 12:55 am (UTC)
Eääh, melkein itkua tuherran tässä, kun kuuntelin juuri uuden Potterin soundtrackilta 'The Death of Sirius'-kappaletta, ja sitten luin ton sun kommenttisi...

It never is happy ending for this couple - and maybe that's why SS/SB is my OTP.

I think I agree with you. I love all things angsty and painful.

And I'm so very grateful for the wonderful feedback. This was the first thing I wrote in this fandom, and never in a million years did I think people would like it so much! Like I said in my author notes, it was a pleasure to write it to people like you :)
dramapunk: I've got legsdramapunk on September 22nd, 2007 11:18 pm (UTC)
*Claps* this was a wonderful series, it is sad tho that things can never end well for these two. But alas that is what makes them such a great and tragic OTP.

Hope to read more from you soon :D

*gives you a thumbs up*
not telling!: Snape OotPyorda_ on September 23rd, 2007 12:58 am (UTC)
Thank you, thank you :) I really enjoyed writing this fic and this particular pairing, so if I get bitten by a really good plot bunny, I'll definitely keep writing.
dramapunkdramapunk on September 23rd, 2007 08:13 am (UTC)
ah yes the elusive plot bunny so hard to catch but damn near impossible to get ride of. :D
nwhiker: phoenixnwhiker on September 23rd, 2007 04:39 am (UTC)
We'll just have to send plot bunnies running after you then. Maybe one will bite 'ya!

This was a great ending, and yes, there is no happiness in store for either of these two. But this was beautiful, an acknowledgement of... something very special in both of their lives and they both know it now.
not telling!: Snape OotPyorda_ on September 23rd, 2007 10:38 am (UTC)
Actually, one already bit me last night. *sigh* And just when I thought I'd have time to sit back and enjoy other people's fics and art. I'm not sure if or when I'll actually write the fic. I know I'll be pretty busy at work until December. Then again, I wrote about half of this story while I was at work :)

Anyway, thank you for the feedback. I'm very happy you enjoyed my first Snack fic :)
senjism on September 23rd, 2007 08:31 am (UTC)
brilliant round up of a wonderful fic. thank you so much, this is one of my favourite snack stories :)
not telling!: Snape OotPyorda_ on September 23rd, 2007 10:40 am (UTC)
Thank you so much, I'm very flattered :) I've been wanting to write in this fandom for years and I'm so glad I got such a warm welcome, and that people actually liked my story. I don't think this was the easiest pairing to start with, but what can I say, they're my OTP.
.the_bitter_word on September 24th, 2007 05:29 am (UTC)
I saw this on snapenews and am glad I came over to read the whole series. You've written a wonderful story which depicts these characters and their circumstances so well. The story was believable and rewarding to read. Thanks.
not telling!: Snape OotPyorda_ on September 24th, 2007 07:04 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for the kind feedback :) It's rewarding for me to hear that people have liked my fic.
Arethinn: hp (epitaph)arethinn on September 24th, 2007 06:55 am (UTC)
Huzzah!

I actually found the art well before I found the fic -- I need to go back and match them all up.

p.s. "Sirius knew, even in the throws of fever"

"throws" should = "throes".
not telling!: Snape OotPyorda_ on September 24th, 2007 07:03 am (UTC)
Ah, thanks for the correction :) I really should get me a beta! Anyway, I'm really happy you enjoyed the fic and the art.
rabid_fangrrlrabid_fangrrl on September 26th, 2007 06:11 pm (UTC)
Well done!

The detail was pretty repulsive and full of goo. Pus is never fun. I like the way you chose to resolve this.

X3
not telling!: Snapeyorda_ on September 26th, 2007 06:30 pm (UTC)
Heh, I had to look at pictures of infected wounds to be able to describe them! *shudder* Not a fun experience... Anyways, thank you so much for the feedback you gave throughout the fic :)
Lufialufia_vs_erim on September 27th, 2007 11:00 am (UTC)
This series really was a good read. I like how you leave so much unresolved issues between them, after all they've never been known to be the type to have a heartfelt talk where they bare they soul, resolve every problem they ever had, and end up shagging happily forever...

I'd send plotbunnies your way but I have enough trouble catching them for myself already. :p
not telling!: Siriusyorda_ on September 27th, 2007 11:22 am (UTC)
after all they've never been known to be the type to have a heartfelt talk where they bare they soul, resolve every problem they ever had, and end up shagging happily forever...

I agree. Of course that can written but I personally just don't find it very believable. So, I thought I'd go with the unresolved issues instead. And you know what, I've already been harassed by a plot bunny and I've been working on a new fic all week :) Anyway, thank you for the feedback. I'm so happy to hear people have liked the fic so much.
Anne-Elisaetrangere on November 1st, 2007 01:24 am (UTC)
wonderful story.