The Other Half::celeste::Chapter 1Awakening
It hurt. It hurt so badly. The gentle breeze against its naked skin felt like millions of pins prickling at the sensitive flesh. Its eyes were tightly squeezed shut, trying to ward off the searing light that burned into the newly formed retinas. That slight chill to the air, which was in fact mid autumn, felt like sub arctic temperatures. Even the sounds of blasting horns of automobiles in the distance, the roll of traffic as a whole, drove straight through it’s ears and seemed to travel down every single nerve ending of its spine.
“Bloody hell,” it gasped before promptly wincing at the sound of it’s own voice. The great awareness that had enfolded him in its welcoming and loving arms was gone. Absent. And it hurt
Slowly the being recalled the old memories. It had a name. Severus Snape. Yes, that was it. He was a wizard, a spy for the Order of the Phoenix. A Potions Master to countless throngs of imbecilic children that tested his patience day in and day out when the Dark Lord was not putting the fear of Merlin into his heart. He worked for Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts and Head of the Order, and incidentally a barmy old man who enjoyed sweets far too much for his own good.
He- Snape risked opening the new eyes and glancing down his naked body to discover that he
was in fact correct- was a man who was generally feared himself. Reviled, hated, the subject of ridicule, trusted by no one but Dumbledore, and all around repelled people better than any noxious smelling potion. With a groan of absolute desolation he rolled onto his back and gazed up at the night sky.
He had impressions of where he’d been. Panic clutched at his heart as he thought of where he was now. He couldn’t do this. He couldn’t do this again. Why? Why did they pull him from the arms of- of- what he wasn’t sure, but he knew he’d never experienced such bliss before. Even thinking about how happy he’d been sent him spiraling to a deep depression that was unfathomable to anyone.
Yet, yet he remembered something else too. In his mortal mind bound by the damnably inadequacies of words, he could only think that a piece of himself was still missing. At first, he thought perhaps they’d screwed up- Merlin knew that was his luck- but after checking over to make sure he had all his fingers and toes he realized that it had been missing for a while now. Forever.
Perhaps not that long, but it certainly felt that way. Incongruous thoughts of that piece of his soul entwined at last and whole, but Merlin that was the worst pain of all to recall that. That he did not have it now. That he was missing himself. It hurt worse than the pain of separation from eternal bliss. That other piece was his eternal bliss.
In typical Snape fashion, the Slytherin wanted it back. Damn whoever took it from him. He didn’t care what he had to do to have it back. The Dark Lord would look like an adorable puppy next to Snape if they tried to keep what was his from him.
“Oh, you remember now? That’s good. Now get the hell up, Snape, and stop whining.”
Though it hurt to move, about as much as it hurt to breathe and think, Snape turned his head to the side. Beside him was the unmistakable visage of one Sirius Black, complete with long flowing hair and black robes that were all the style twenty years ago.
A mixture of emotions flew through him. There was the old, and the disturbingly new that was alien to corporeal form. The old hatred and animosity was still there, but it was joined now by- dear Merlin- respect and love. Snape nearly gagged at the thought, and probably would have thrown up if he’d had anything in his newly created stomach. “Black,” he eventually croaked.
“Right in one, Snivellus,” Blacks’ form knelt down closer to him, and though he did not look like the regular pearly translucent ghosts Snape had lived with in Hogwarts, the chill from Black was the same, serving as the worst sensation yet. Causing Snape’s body to tremble uncontrollably. “Hey- you okay?”
Snape nearly snorted at the concern in Black’s voice. “No. I am not all right you idiot. I’ve just been put back into a world I’ve always despised- and I find the sentiment has not changed.”
He was answered with a crooked grin that used to drive all the girls in Hogwarts insane. “That’s more like the greasy git I know. No more moping. You’re depression was driving us all to the brink of destruction.” Black rolled his eyes with aplomb. “Count on bitter old Snape to ruin the afterlife for everyone else.”
Snape blinked. “It was taken from me.”
“Yeah, she was. You’ve got to find her. Give us all a little peace of mind. Merlin I never thought I’d be so invested in your love life, but there it is.” Despite the words, his voice held a note of sympathy Snape had never heard before.
Then he locked onto the ‘she’ and ‘love’ part of that statement. “What?”
As if Black could read his thoughts, he answered right away. “Her. You’re other half, Severus. You remember don’t you?”
“I-“ Snape paused and swallowed, feeling the familiar and yet unfamiliar movement of his Adams apple bobbing in his hollow throat. “I’m not sure what I remember. It’s all- jumbled. Hurts to think.”
“Which is what I’m here for,” Black told him matter-of-factly. “Guess what, Snivelly? I’m going to be your guide through all this. Your connection to the greater good that does
remember. In fact, we’re all routing for you- believe it or not. Well, we have an invested interest in it. Anyway, that’s why they sent me.” He gave Snape a disarming smile. “You’re going to need a lot of help.”
Snape suddenly recalled his purpose for life the first time around as his mind moved past the shock of suddenly awakening again. “The Dark Lord…”
Black held up his hand. “No. You’re part in that’s finished, Snivellus.” Black ignored the dark glare he earned for continuing using that old nickname. “Think. Everyone you’ve ever known in life thinks your dead. It would be unbearably painful, not to mention awkward, to see you again. Alive. You’ve already moved on from that. Time for this second gift.” Black held out his arms as if to encompass the world. “You get to find your soul mate- in mortal form. Do you know how rare that is, Severus? What a gift they’re granting you? Both of you?”
“Why?” Snape asked.
Black’s eyes turned compassionate. “Because you were supposed to be joined for the rest of eternity. Then, well, some mortal down here took that away from you both. You both are mourning for each other- we all experienced it. I can’t explain it to you using words. A part of you remembers anyway, even if you can’t really process the profound sadness we all shared at your loss.”
Snape did remember. Not so much in memory- since there was no mortal mind during that time. His soul- his soul recalled. Still cried out for his. “I want it back.”
“Course you do. I would too.” Black straightened up and then smirked. “But first you need to get some clothes on that skinny arse back of yours. Do no good to meet her in your birthday suit. Trust me, we don’t want to screw this up. Eternity depends on your ability to romance and woo. I don’t think it’ll go over well if you meet again, and you’re buck naked.” Black shivered for emphasis.
Too overwhelmed with the damn world and the pain to so much as twitch an eyelid, Snape refrained from biting back with a sarcastic comment of his own. He slowly fought to roll onto his side. Black stood silently beside him, waiting. After panting like a wounded animal at the very difficulty with such a small task, he began pushing himself up to something like a stand. Though, he wobbled back and forth rather precariously until finally grasping onto a harsh and grating brick wall to steady himself. The feeling of the coarse rock prickling into his skin made him nearly want to weep.
“Steady on, Snape,” Black encouraged with a gentleness Snape had never heard from him before.
With the old paranoia and dislike rising quickly to the surface, he regarded Black with a suspicious glare. “Why do you care if I’m in pain?”
Black’s blue eyes glimmered with a flash of regret. “Because I touched your soul, Severus. Changes things quite a bit.”
The soft response surprised Snape with its sincerity. “I don’t remember,” he said in just as soft a whisper.
“I know,” Black answered with a sympathetic look. “Memories of the flesh now. It’s alright.” His lips curled mischievously. “I remember the Before now too. Supposed to help you, if you’re talking to Sirius Black rather than just another soul. For one, I wouldn’t be able to communicate with you, let alone teach you how to sweep a girl off her feet.”
That earned a sneer. “I don’t need you’re help with- anything- Black.”
His eyes twinkled in a way entirely to reminiscent of Dumbledore for Snape’s comfort. “Sure. Whatever you say, Snivellus.”
With a grumble about self-important puffed up Gryffindors, Snape managed to push himself away from the wall and take a few tentative steps. He felt like a newborn baby, fresh out of the womb and screaming. Except Snape was not a newborn, but a fully-grown man, with memories of his life, and definitely not screaming. No matter how much he wanted to.
When he felt steadier, he began to take in his surroundings. He was in some sort of muggle city, given the tarred black top he was cautiously stepping across with his narrow bare feet. The pungent smell, a rotting smell, drew his attention to an overflowing dumpster a ways off from where he stood. Tiny shards of broken glass glittered like stars around the dark ground.
Directing his gaze up a bit, he saw he the street he was on was sandwiched between two brick buildings. A few windows were higher up, and he was relieved to see the shades were drawn tightly shut. Swerving his head again, he realized he must have been in an alleyway, because it opened up to a street where he could see faintly glowing overhead lights muggles used to illuminate their roadways. Further around the sounds of a metropolitan city washed over him a bit clearer as his hearing adjusted. Horns, squealing tires, and the sounds of motors.
“Where are we?” Snape asked as he took one tentative step in front of the last towards the street beyond.
Although Sirius walked just as slowly, albeit much steadier, beside him- Snape realized his footsteps made no sound. It was rather eerie. He was here, and yet he wasn’t. “Give me a moment,” Sirius replied before tilting his head and closing his eyes. Snape stopped and turned to watch with growing irritation as he wondered just what sort of ‘guardian’ Black was supposed to make when he was too stupid to find out beforehand where the hell they’d dropped him off at.
As if Snape had spoken his thoughts aloud, Black smiled widely. “Because I arrived when you did,” he told Snape- answering the unspoken question. Snape startled a bit, but Black kept his eyes shut. “Ah, there we are. They’re telling me we’re in Cleveland, Ohio. Stateside. Won’t give me exact directions to your soul mate or anything though. Looks like some of this we’ll have to figure out ourselves.”
“Will you stop saying that?” Snape asked angrily.
Black opened his eyes and regarded him evenly. “What?”
When Snape answered, his voice practically dripped sarcasm onto the street. “Oh, don’t know- do you? I thought you could hear my thoughts.”
Black shrugged. “Anything you think to yourself I can hear. I can also tell what your feeling. Beyond that, well, you’ll have to articulate the specifics.”
With a roll of his eyes Snape began walking again. After a moment’s silence, he clarified it aloud for Black. “Soul mate. Stop saying that.”
There was genuine curiosity in the statement. It irked Snape, and as long as he was annoyed he had a little less of that all encompassing depression and pain that threatened to suffocate him. “It’s a silly, flowery, ridiculous notion. I don’t believe in it.”
There was a short bark of laughter that brought to mind the hundreds of times Sirius Black had laughed at him. Mocked him. “For someone whose just come from the afterlife, that’s a bit rich Snape. Okay. What do you expect me to call the other half of your soul? That which completes you? That you’ve been searching an eternity for?”
With a scowl Snape answered. “I don’t bloody care. Just- stop mentioning it.”
Another snort of amusement sounded from Black’s direction. “Well, it is the reason we’re here. But, all right, we’ll play the game your way for now Snape. Eventually that bitter shell of mortality you’re trapped in is going to have to accept what your soul is telling you. There’s a lovely girl out there who, unfortunately, got pinned with a miserable wretch of a wizard like you.”
“Shut up,” Snape grumbled.
“Fine,” Black answered cheekily. Had he been in Snape’s classes, Gryffindor would have lost about a hundred points for the tone in his voice. Bastard.
With a dark scowl, and a migraine to end all others, Snape realized he had- in fact- been thrust back into hell.**
They had managed to get to the street, but it happened to not be the best of ideas either had ever had. Sirius Black was invisible to everyone except Snape, but Snape was certainly solid enough. Unfortunately he was also very nude.
Cars, startling enough to the newly raised from the dead Snape, honked as they passed him. Muggles stared as if they’d never seen the male body in all it’s glory before. Snape himself, a pink flush to his cheeks that he doubted would ever go away, was trying to cover the most private bits as best he could. A lid to a garbage can Black had pointed out helped with the front, but he was still mooning everyone from the back.
The old Sirius Black would have laughed his arse off at the sight, and he was chuckling a bit every so often, but he apologized for it nearly immediately. He was enjoying this, no question about it, but Snape did not sense the malicious intent behind each snicker. If anything, it was more like they’d been old friends for years instead of nemesis eager to hex each other to the next century. It was just as disconcerting as the world moving around him, and the stares from the muggles he passed.
This entire fiasco needed to be resolved immediately. Unfortunately the Powers who had sent him back into the world forgot to pack a wand along with clothes. Snape had no means to transfigure anything, so had to continue wandering rather aimlessly with just the trash can lid for cover. In a large city like Cleveland there was no way this would be allowed to go on forever.
After another thirty minutes of the indecent exposure, Sirius groaned while Snape panicked at an impossibly loud wailing that overwhelmed his sensitive hearing. Flashing red and blue lights nearly blinded him as a black and white car pulled to a screeching halt on the curb beside Snape and the incorporeal Black.
The following was an even greater affront to his dignity even while it completely shattered his already overwrought nerves. Two uniformed muggles stepped out of the car, affecting a friendly tone of voice even as they told Snape to bend over the trunk of their car.
Not realizing these were the muggle equivalent to Aurors, he told them both to feck off. There was no way he was bending over anything naked for two men. Ignoring Black’s warnings to heed their orders, Snape attempted to continue walking. Hoping this was perhaps a nightmare he would wake from at any moment- it certainly had all the elements of one.
Such luck was, of course, not with him. Taking an arm each in a grasp that was painful as the heat of the contact and the squeeze they clamped onto his muscles was his first human contact since his murder at the hands of Lord Voldemort. They furthered the trauma by forcing his arms behind his back and placing tight metal rings around his wrists, before finally pushing him into the back seat of their car.
It was not his first car ride. He’d rode from the Ministry with Dumbledore once before at his release from Azkaban when he was acquitted at the Death Eater trials after the close of the first war with Voldemort. Still, this one was rather disconcerting, not only because of the handcuffs and the strange voice that would come out of some device at the front of the car, but because there was a cage separating him from the drivers.
He was not a man prone to claustrophobia. At least, his fuzzy memories ascertained he wasn’t. It was still terrifying to be caged so. So frightening he began hyperventilating.
“Calm down,” Black instructed gently. He was seated beside Snape in the back seat, giving off the chill of all spirits, and watching him wearily. “You’re body can’t take a shock right now. Not for a while.”
“Calm down? You want me to calm down! I’ve been bound and tossed naked into a muggle vehicle, and you expect me to stay calm?! SOD OFF BLACK!” he shouted in return to the preposterous idea.
Black threw him a sour look. One of the uniformed men in the front turned to the other who was busy navigating the heavy traffic. “PCP?”
“I’m guessing LSD,” the other answered diffidently.
“They think you’re on drugs, Snape,” Black pointed out.
“I don’t give a damn what they think! You can tell the Powers that next time they decide to bring me back to life, they can at least give me some bloody clothes!” Snape spat furiously.
“I’ll pass the message on,” Black replied dryly.
“Definitely LSD, or an escapee from the institution,” one of the muggles commented before picking up a small black object and speaking into it. “This is unit two seven eight, dispatch. Requesting information on any missing persons from the psychiatric wards.”
“Ten four,” came the female voice from nowhere again.
“Ten four? What is ten four?” Snape asked anxiously. Once again straining against the metal cuffs that were digging into his wrists.
Black sighed and pressed a hand to his forehead. “Snape, you can just think your questions, and I’ll hear them. And, I don’t know. Do I look like a muggle?”
Snape snarled towards Black before letting his head fall back on the seat. That left him gazing up at the small lights that drifted by over the top of the car as they rode under the lamps. Every so often he’d see a hint of the stars floating adrift in the dark sea of night. They filled him with an indescribably sense of longing, and his heart felt weighted while his mind hurt with that which he could not grasp.
“Don’t worry, Severus,” Black said from beside him. Both ignoring the men and the woman’s bodiless voice up front telling the two no one was a wall from the hospitals. “You’ll return one day. We just have to get this all sorted out first, to make sure you have a place to return to.”
He nearly opened his mouth, eyes still glued on the infinity passed the glass of the car, but then remembered that he did not need to speak aloud. Why?
“Why what? Specifics Snape,” Black returned. Snape could hear the pleased, nearly praising tone of his voice. Probably glad he’d stopped vocalizing his questions aloud.Why would I have no place to return to
? He asked silently, eyes still glued to the sky and the lights that flashed by.
Black sighed. “Well, it’s difficult to explain. You see, we’re all connected- and again we’re not,” he began, speaking slowly as if searching for the words.That doesn’t make any sense.
“Let me finish,” he returned. Snape grudgingly pressed his lips together tighter, even though his side of the conversation wasn’t even vocalized. Old habits, he supposed. “My point is that we all share in this- well- nexus. It’s our reward for a life of hardship. Eternal peace, tranquility, bliss- etc.”Heaven
“Mortal ideas, Severus. There’s no way to explain what it is. I don’t really need to anyway; you’ve been there. You ache for it. You ache all over, don’t you?”
He gave a terse nod.
“I know. I wish I could say you’ll forget, but you won’t. Who could forget that sort of peace? Finding your soul- sorry- you’re other half will help quite a bit though. It’s because of that this whole mess started.” Black went silent for a minute, and it was filled with the two up front conversing about some sort of sports team up front. The inanity of the two separate conversations going on left Snape’s mind swimming. He wondered if he would ever be able to take such stock in the mundane ever again.
“Oh, you will,” Black said with a grin. “Life has as much pleasure as pain, in case you don’t quite recall that yet. Temptations of the flesh, and all that. You’ll move on, Snape. You’re a strong, stubborn bastard.” Black cleared his throat, and there was a rustle of cloth. When Snape glanced his way out of the corner of his eyes, he spotted the spirit guardian straightening his robes. “Back to the point, this nexus feeds itself. Our bliss is shared by all, when one thinks, all think. We experience everything.”
Snape’s head lifted; intrigued despite the misery he was wallowing in. Everything?
“Yep. It’s wondrous, Snape. Beyond words. You understand what you are, finally. That we’re all connected. Not just after we leave our bodies behind, but during too. It’s just that the flesh, our minds, they get in the way. We don’t hear the- ah- song quite as clearly. Inklings, maybe. Yours will be clearer than most, simply because you’ve experienced what’s waiting. You’ve been there.”I can’t remember it
, he admitted mournfully.
“No, but you know none-the-less. Memories, those are connected with your mind, Snape. Remember, your mind is nothing but tissue- it goes when the body goes. This is beyond that, this is knowledge you carry in your spirit. Like I said, it’s difficult to explain.”Go on.
“Alright. Since you have a concept of what goes on. Shortly after you joined us, after your death in other words, your soul mate died as well. Don’t ask me how, they aren’t telling me. Something about the rules- which if you ask me is damned inconvenient. Anyway, it’s fairly common to find your other half in the After. Some of us wait while lifetimes roll by on earth, but that doesn’t really matter because time ceases to matter. Point is, yours came along quickly. Nearly immediately after, in fact, you lucky bastard. I’m still waiting for mine.”This- woman you keep telling me I have to find?
“That’s right. Unless your holding out on me, and not telling me you prefer men,” Sirius smirked at Snape’s answering glare. “Well, it happens you know. It’s the souls that connect, Severus. Nothing to do with our bodies. Bodies really mean very little. They’re only the shells- tools to house us while we carry out our own roles in history while we live in this plane of existence.” He waved his hand dismissively. “Well, if you’re fairly sure you’re heterosexual, then I’d bet you five hundred galleons your soul mate is of the fairer sex. Usually works out that way. You’ll be drawn to each other, either way. It is possible that soul mates are only friends, not lovers. Rarer those.”Get to the point, Black.
Another answering smirk. “Long story short, you two met up and lit up the afterlife with your happy glow.” Black’s smirk widened into a beaming smile and Snape’s dark scowl. “What? You did! Remember, nexus? Your bliss was ours. Trust me, Snape; you were more than just ‘content’. You were bloody ecstatic- out of your mind with happiness.”
Feeling the old sarcasm rise up, he sneered as he fired off his next thought. I thought you said I didn’t have a mind.
“Figure of speech,” Black returned with a one of his elegant shrugs. “Point is you were set for eternal happiness. Then, well, something went wrong. Very wrong.”
Snape waited for him to continue.
Here he turned more serious than Snape could recall seeing him. “Someone took your other half away. Back to the mortal realm, back into her body. That’s not supposed to happen. She was meant to die, all do eventually. Apparently someone didn’t care, and was willing to bend the universe to their whim to have her back rather than wait to join when it was their own time to reunite.”
Black shook his head and sighed before he continued. “You were devastated. When I say that, you have to realize- we don’t feel emotions as we used to. But you- having your soul mate taken from you affected your own soul so badly- well, it overruled all the bliss and peace of every single other soul that you were joined to. Trust me when I say there’s a lot. Perhaps now you’ll give that ‘flowery, ridiculous notion’ the seriousness it deserves. You were in so much pain, it affected the rest of us.”
Black turned to him, a dark shadow over his face. “It’s still affecting us. If you don’t find her, and join again, it’ll destroy the After. No more bliss, no more peace, no more tranquility. Never ending pain, torment, and longing instead for everyone.”
Snape swallowed thickly. Black nodded solemnly. “There’s another place for that, but it’s not where you’re meant to be. Where we’re meant to be. Evil will have a power boost like you wouldn’t believe. Voldemort will look like an ant compared to what will rise up- fueled by all those blackened souls. The First was already allowed to surface again.” As Snape wondered at that, Black held up his hand. “I don’t know. Specifics aren’t what we deal with, that’s the Power’s job. It’s all right for the moment, but the balance is still seriously off kilter. The fates risked a lot to wait for a time when she would be ready to reunite with you. Which, as you can guess by your presence back among the living, would be now.”
Black leaned back in his seat, Snape simply blinked in astonishment. How to process that kind of knowledge? That the fate of- every good person who ever did or ever will deserve an eternal reward- depended upon him? It was so much more than a mere apocalypse. It was the very fabric of the sentient on the balance, not just the world.
Sensing his thoughts Black nodded again. “Glad to see you understand now. Maybe you can appreciate the lengths everyone’s going to for your happiness. Well, all our happiness really. Either way, we have to get you back with your intended. We don’t have a lot of time to waste either. Like I said, the balance is still off as long as you’re longing for her.”Why not just wait until- she died again?
“Doesn’t work that way, Snape. She was pulled out. The balance needs to be reset here, in the mortal realm, not back there. Meaning you had to be pulled out too. It’s never been done like this before, but since you didn’t die by mortal means- we got lucky with the killing curse on that one- you can come back. Unprecedented, but that’s why they’re the Powers that Be. They make those sorts of calls, figure out how to bend the rules.”
He couldn’t comprehend why his happiness was somehow dictating the universe now. He understood what Black was saying- well as much as he could. It seemed the biggest irony of all that eternal bliss depended on a brooding, guilt-ridden man like himself. Severus Snape was not familiar with the concept of eternal peace. He had to wonder if he even deserved such a thing.
“Don’t,” Black stated firmly. “They don’t make mistakes about this stuff, Severus. You deserve it. Everyone knows you do. I told you before, I touched your soul, and you aren’t the monster you like to make yourself out to be. Currently, you’re human. Humans make mistakes. Especially teenagers. I did too, as you’ll recall.”
Black was undoubtedly referring to the Shrieking Shack prank. He felt an old wound re-open and bleed. Hatred and malice coming with it, a putrid puss filled thing that felt like a canker on his soul.
Another weighted sigh. “I know. I’m sorry. I can’t tell you how much I regret it.” He looked over, locking blue eyes with pitch black. “Regret all of it. If I’d known then what I know now, I swear Severus, it would have been different.” He smiled at Snape, surprising the other man yet again at how amiable and open it seemed. “I’ve let it go with my body. With my own fears and insecurities, my own mortal concerns. When we were up there, we connected. We had imprinted each other when we were alive, and we recognized it and were drawn. Drawn despite the past- that didn’t matter any more. We were just two souls who were familiar with one another. If I had to explain it in terms of a human, we were friends. James and Lily too. We all care about you, and want the best. I’m here to help you with that, and even to atone for my past- since I’ve remembered it again. Though, truly, I already know I’ve your forgiveness. And likewise.”
Snape shifted uncomfortably in his seat, and then winced as the handcuffs bit into his wrists again. Despite his the personal pledge he’d made to himself never to trust a word that came out of Black’s mouth ever again, some part of him listened and believed with all his heart. Heart and mind warred with one another on which should be the voice of reason in this.
“Always trust your heart,” Black advised sagely. “It speaks truths you can’t see.”When the hell did you get so damn wise?
He was pleased his thoughts still sounded dry and sarcastic.
Another loud laugh, more like a bark, erupted from Black. When he calmed down enough to turn and regard Snape with those suddenly twinkling Dumbledore-like eyes again, he replied. “When I fell through that blasted veil. A lot of things became clearer.” He folded his arms across his chest with a smug look on his face. “When you’re alive, you make things more complicated than they have to be. That’s all right, I’ll overlook it. I’ve got a lot more patience then I used to.”
Any retort Snape intended to make was cut short as the squad car slowed. Gazing out the window he saw they’d reached a large building with several more cars of the exact same design parked outside. The doors rested beyond as entry into the building, made of glass, and Snape watched as another pair of uniformed muggles led a stumbling muggle inside. He looked drunk, terribly drunk.
“Rides over,” one of the muggles up front told him as the car came to a jerking halt.
“Then you can get these metal bindings off my wrists,” Snape snapped back with irritation. “My hands have gone numb.”
“Touchy foreign nut,” the muggles partner commented flatly.
Black began chuckling again. Since he couldn’t hex him, Snape settled for a murderous glare as the two up front climbed out of the car. When their doors slammed shut, Snape spoke aloud. “What do I do?”
“Play along for now,” Black told him, serious once again. “They’ll give you something to wear. Temporarily until we can find something more decent.”
The car door was pulled open before Snape could vocalize his next question. Still naked, Snape was pulled out of the car by his arm, and the touch sent the same shockwave of contact through him. He couldn’t handle being touched under normal circumstances before his death; he certainly couldn’t handle it now. Unfortunately, he was too weak to put up much more of a struggle than a few ineffectual jerks of his arm.
“Calm down and co-operate,” the muggle told him forcefully.
Snape gave him a piercing glare before trying to take his advice. Black had told him to play along after all.And since when did you start listening to Black?
A snide, proud inner voice asked.
“Since you got yourself killed,” Black answered for him as he walked right through the car to stand next to Snape. “Just be nice, Snape. Even though that’s tough for you. You don’t want these guys,” he jerked his head towards the muggles as they grabbed something from the back of the car, “getting pissy.”
“I’m getting pissy,” Snape muttered quietly. The muggle holding his arm shot him a warning look.
“You and me both, buddy,” the muggle then informed him.
His partner came up with a rather itchy looking blanket. Snape had to wonder why it was just now they decided to spare his decency and thought some more choice insults their way as they led him towards the building- now wrapped up in the damn itch blanket. Black laughed out loud at a few of his insults, and even added a few of his own into the mix.
By the time he was seated in a plastic orange chair situated- purposely he was sure- in the middle of a department of uniformed muggles, he was so infuriated he was turning white. He could feel his lips pressed so tightly together as they ‘interrogated’ him that they would probably bruise. He didn’t answer their questions, simply glared in return. Black himself leaned up on the desk, and Snape nearly fell out of his chair when one of the uniformed men reached through the body as if it wasn’t there (which he supposed it wasn’t) and grabbed a mug of coffee.
He was pleased when the officer spat the drink he’d taken, complaining it was freezing cold. Black just winked at Snape with another of his mischievous smiles spreading across his face.
After another hour of the pointless questions, they finally undid the bindings and allowed him to stop in the bathroom to change into the most horrid orange jumper he’d ever seen. Trying not to think of who had worn it before, and hoping to the Powers they had washed it since, he walked out at least feeling better for being covered.
Once he was clothed they took him to a station where they dirtied his fingertips with ink before pressing them against long pieces of bleach white parchment. Snape had to bite his cheek to keep from saying anything that would land him in any more trouble, instead settling for promising himself vengeance. Vengeance took on a whole new meaning when they took his photo, forcing him to hold up a sign with numbers, and flashing a light bulb in his still sore eyes.
He was then led down blaringly white halls that bounced the fluorescent lighting, and Snape kept his head down to try and lessen it’s obscene brightness. When he looked back up, he saw a barred cell, with a few other men already inside (the drunk from earlier passed out cold on one of the benches). Feeling a growing sense of horror, the officer pulled the door open and pushed him in before turning the lock back with a ringing click of finality.
Snape immediately went to wrap his still ink stained fingers around the bars, glaring through the center at the police officer (as he learned they were called) who sat back and ate from a bag of disgusting looking flat and slightly curled potato slices. Even though Snape would never, ever, consider partaking such junk- his traitorous stomach rumbled loud enough to cause the officer to glance his way- and then back to his reports without care.
“They’ll feed you sometime,” Black stated after he simply passed through the bars and moved to sit on a bench beside the drooling drunk passed out lengthwise.
“Wonderful,” Snape spat.
“Hey, free meal. Don’t knock it,” Black retorted before turning to his robes and brushing off some non-existent lint.
“Why don’t I just apparate out of here?” Snape asked him, ignoring the large fat fellow on the opposite bench who looked between Snape and the drunk with some confusion on his face.
“Because your body’s still too weak for that sort of magic. I’m betting if you even attempted it, you’d just splinch yourself,” Black said. “Get some rest, regain your strength, eat a decent meal- and then apparate if you feel up to it.” Black tapped his lips with a finger. “Of course, you’re on record now as John Doe. I checked it out. That might cause some problems down the road, but we’ll deal with those as they come along.”
“All this for a girl,” Snape said dejectedly before sinking on the bench beside the round man eyeing him oddly.
“Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em,” the man stated. He quickly silenced from the quelling look Snape sent in his direction. Given his mood, it was probably nearly homicidal.
“Not just any girl, Snape, you’re soul mate,” Black reminded him. Rather unnecessarily at that, Snape thought.
Waving a hand in irritation, Snape rolled his eyes. “Yes, yes, so you’ve said. She better be part Veela. I didn’t enjoy life the first time around. I don’t want to go through it again.”
The man beside him scooted further down the bench.
“Keep that up and you’ll have the muggle Healers in here for a check up,” Black pointed out with ill-concealed glee.
A quelling look from Snape promptly silenced him as well. With a sigh that expressed the weariness of not only his body, but his soul as well, Snape laid himself down on the bench. Using his arm as a pillow.
He felt beyond horrible. He was hungry. He still hurt. He was aching inside from more than just hunger. A longing welled up in his heart that he could barely breathe past. It choked him, now that his thoughts were free to roam. And, again, he missed that place of respite, feeling this place was entirely too bright, too loud, and the smell of it was horrendous.
Snape wanted to go home.
It was with that thought that his eyelids, unable to stay open, slowly closed. For the first time since his being brought back from the dead, Snape settled into an uneasy and shallow sleep. Filled with dreams that made the heart ache all the worse, until tears rolled down his sallow cheeks as he slept on oblivious to their presence.**