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Just in Case

Just in Case

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sherlock.  not good?
Author: janus
Title: Just in Case
Prompt: A badly wounded Evan shows up at Severus’ place in the middle of the night…
Characters/Pairings: Severus, Evan, Rabastan, Regulus
Rating: PG
Warnings: none
Word Count: 3900
Summary: In increasingly dark and dangerous days, young Death Eaters do their best to save their lives. But Regulus disappears, and then Evan is injured.
Notes: for Alley Skywalker

Severus’ home was in Abraxas’ dungeons. It was there that he had his potions and books, his keepsakes and his more rare and important tools. But Abraxas was his sponsor. As a father would have done, he had arranged for rooms in London for Severus when he grew older. This, Abraxas had reasoned, would encourage Severus' independence even as he was protected there with wards. It also served the Dark Lord, in that it was of benefit to him to have a cadre of young men at the heart of the world, interconnected in a web of flues and familiarity. Should he raise a call to action, or should any emergency arise, they would all be there already prepared, already oriented to the locale.

It was Severus’ first personal private space, and there was a small kitchen where he could prepare potions as well as meals. There was a small sitting room, a washroom, and a bedroom. All were tiny, but they were his. Rabastan had brought him various small antiques, most from his storeroom, but a few he knew that Severus loved. Thus it was not bare but warm, especially when the fire and oil lamps were lit. There were long thick curtains of Slytherin green and silver at the leaded windows, and Severus had cast a charm on the walls so they appeared to be the rich reddish wood of mahogany panels. There was a carpet as well. It was not a Persian carpet that looked as if it would fly but a plain one, again of the deep green. He looked at his white feet against it as the nap curled a little against his toes. He imagined they too were Slytherin silver.

His rooms were neither as fine nor as large as those of his friends. But still, they came by to visit him. Rabastan came often to cook for him. A master herbalist as Severus was a master of potions, he was pleased to share his skill with his friends. He eschewed parties, noise and bustle. He had taken himself from the popular entertainment of vying for power. He was a second son but he was wealthy enough that he would never need to consider the price of anything. He contented himself with his dog, his plants, his antiques and this pleasant aptitude he had discovered for cooking.

Evan, on the other hand, was an adventurer. He was not an adventurer in the Gryffindor sense but more casually, as if it were a persona he assumed for his amusement. If there were an occasion, or an opportunity for advancement, or some possibility of active offbeat participation, Evan was the first to sign up. He would also arrive late with a lazy grin and seem to lounge casually confident, albeit in the centre of activity. Perhaps it was unlikely that the three of them should be such close friends, much less along with golden young Regulus, who was still in school. They had grown up together and knew one another intimately. Even though Rabastan did not want to join in with Evan’s more exciting escapades, he was happy to hear them, and Evan was glad of an appreciative audience. He was proud of his forays and still excited to be free in London, which was full of potential to be transformed by his spirit into a wonderland. Evan brought his world to them in open hands, glittering with the riches of exploits he wished to share.

Severus was the consistent one who held them together, a balance between Rabastan’s quiet world and Evan’s vibrant one. He was serious and dedicated. After all, he was still Abraxas’ ward, and he owed the great man everything. He studied. He brewed potions. He developed spells, working with Antonin. On his excursions from his suites he was careful to watch for signs of Dumbledore’s Order, and he was careful to watch the Muggles for their anomalous trends as well. The IRA was active and it had been his suggestion for the Death Eaters to use them as cover. He still spent most of his time in Wiltshire, but when he was in London he was there to work. He and Rabastan were close; their methods and idiosyncrasies worked in easy tandem, companionable and reassuring in their warmth.

Severus had always been as severe as his name, but there was a part of him that simply wanted to be young. He had his own secret, it was true, but after he had introduced Evan to its ethos, he felt closer to him as well. Of course Rabastan knew of his dalliances with punk rock out by the docks. He didn’t want to join him, but he blessed him and watched the new aspect of his friend with his gentle detached interest. Evan, however, had not only accompanied him but exceeded him in daring and enthusiasm. Severus had always indulged with a certain grimness. But Evan had thrown himself into it, if not without irony, certainly with a grin, a dedication, and a surrender to its charms that surpassed even that of the Muggle youth who had invented it. Severus looked up to him socially, not the way he emulated and followed the aristocratic cues of Abraxas, Lucius and the others. He looked up to Evan as he would have to an older brother exploring the world before him.

Thus they met most frequently in Severus’ rooms, and young Regulus came as well when he was able. When they were in town the three of them ate together and worked together, eagerly discussing the Dark Lord and the war. They came to know one another better than brothers because they kept less from each other. When they went on missions, Severus was paired with Lucius, Rabastan was sent out with Rodolphus and Bella, and Evan was paired with Mulciber. Despite this, they all felt more human with one another, and humanity was what they needed most. Gradually they moved from the formal sitting room to the warmer kitchen where they leaned on the table and curled their hands around mugs of cocoa. Finally it became their habit to come together comfortably on the big soft bed.

They were all horrified when Regulus went missing.

It had been expected that Rabastan was in the most danger because he was subject to the effects of Bella’s excesses and recklessness. Severus and Rabastan privately worried about Evan, because he took chances and inserted himself into situations that caution would have forbidden. He did not do so brazenly and openly as Bella did, but he did it. They never expected it would be Regulus who would disappear. It was true he went on missions for the Dark Lord, but they were not dangerous or bloody and were probably not even illegal. Everyone loved Regulus, with his sunniness and loyalty, and not even the Dark Lord would have risked him. His parents were beside themselves. His mother blamed everyone who was not unquestionably loyal and pureblood, and she seemed as if she were becoming increasingly unbalanced when they enquired if there had been news. His father had been rushed to St. Mungo’s the week after he had disappeared.

The three friends had searched and worried, delving into even their most distant contacts for word. Eventually there had been nothing they could do, and then they wept together, which they had never done before. They were neither weak nor cowards, but among themselves, sharing their grief and horror, they dropped their Occlumescent facades and wept. In truth, Severus cast a Muffalatio charm and literally howled when everything had seemed darkest, but he had also been alone.

Desperate for any action and afraid anew for Rabastan and Evan, Severus had made up port-keys of real keys in little bags of dragon-hide that they could wear on chains around their necks. Just in case. So many things he did, so many things he learned and shared, researched and created were with this provision in mind. Just in case.

“Here are port-keys in case Aurors break into your home while you are sleeping.”

“Please allow me to tutor you in Occlumency in case you are taken or questioned (by either side.)”

“Please take these potions with you: Oblivious Unction, Draught of Peace, Murtlap Essence, Dittany, Bruise Paste, Burn Paste…”

“Please.”

“Please.”

“Just in case.”

And they acceded, for they were as worried as he was, but they also heeded Severus to comfort him.

Severus usually went home after the missions with Lucius. They worked together, after all, and home for them both was Malfoy Manor. Afterwards, though, Severus liked to recover alone and often went to spend the night in London, curled about himself and his books in his tiny rooms.

It was after Christmas, but before the new year. Outside it was dark and cold, and his heart seemed dark and cold as well. There was something comforting in the glowing fire, slippers and a dressing gown, and hot milky tea he had made in the old way. Snow lay against the window frames and squeaked on the roof, but it could not come in. Severus liked the contrast. But while he had all he needed in Abraxas’ dungeons, they could not be said to be warm. Though at the manor, there was a sense of luxury in the perfection of tea delivered in bone china by a House Elf, here Severus was cheered looking out at the winter world from his cocoon with his own mug of tea.

Tonight Severus had just returned and the kettle had just begun to whistle on his tiny Aga. He was engaged in the long but critical procedure of relaxation, which was a victory of will he only managed by concerted focus upon himself. There was a thump in the cloakroom, which was really a portion of hallway. This was followed by a flailing sound, as if a great bird had become trapped and was beating its wings against the wall. He squinted his eyes shut for a moment, then moved into the hall. No matter how trepidatious he felt, ignoring the sound was the worst thing he could do. He clenched his wand, hoping he was prepared for anything.

There was blood soaking the rug, in which a figure was partly rolled, and there was blood flung up the lower portion of the walls. There was a final thump as a head fell back against the floor unconscious. Severus’ breath sucked into his chest in shock. Evan.

It was as if the world froze for a second, and they were a tableau in Madam Tussaud’s Chamber of Horrors. Severus had never been there, but he had an imagination. Then he rushed forward and was casting the spells to lift and move Evan to the bed. He did this without thinking, simply letting himself do what was best. Evan’s clenched fist opened when he was moved, and the little 19th century key — the port-key Severus had prepared — fell with a metallic clink to the floor.

Severus felt his friend’s pulse, then forced blood-replenishing potion between his lips, then strengthening solution. But this was only a beginning. He unwound Evan’s wet scarf from his arm. It seemed he had attempted a hurried tourniquet, and dittany was smeared into the wound through the sliced coat. More blood flowed, and from his chest as well. So much blood. Severus looked more closely at the telltale edges of the wounds. Oh, No. Sectumsempra. O Merlin, No. He ripped open the top of Evan’s robes; there was no time for buttons.

He began to sing and to trace the wounds with his wand, drawing in Evan’s flesh, trailing Evan’s blood. He and Antonin were the only people who knew the complicated counter-spell to close the cuts. If Evan had not come to him, he would have died.

The potions began to work and Evan opened his eyes and turned his head. “Sev… What are you doing? It was that Potter and his friends. Some kind of junior Aurors, I suppose. I don’t know what they did to me. I thought I was going to die.”

Potter. Again. Severus hissed through his teeth. It must have been that time in fifth year when Lily had taken his Potions book by mistake. At least… he assumed it had been a mistake at the time. But the first instances of Levicorpus had occurred just after that. They had used his own spells against him, and now, heedless, they were throwing curses they did not understand at his friends. At his loved ones. Stupid. He had been so stupid. “Sectumsempra,” he told Evan, pausing in his song. “This is the counterspell.” He immediately continued as the edges of the cut began to part again. No time for talking yet, and the kettle was screaming on the stove.

Evan was looking question marks at him, as well he might. When the wounds were closed, Severus tended to the tea before the metal of the kettle bubbled itself molten. He added rose buds to the lapsang souchong that Regulus had once brought, and then carried it in to Evan with honey, half-filled with milk. “More potion, and then this.” Severus helped him to sit up, leaning him back against his pillows. “You’re so cold, as well! Don’t move until you’ve healed a little more. This isn’t instant.”

“Sectumsempra. I’ve never heard of that.” He lay back with the tea and let Severus care for him, his face white. Normally he would have laughed at his friend’s little orders, though he would have acquiesced.

Severus cast a warming spell on the bed and spelled away the blood. So many small things to do, and they all needed to be done at once. “I will teach you.”

“You know it?”

He nodded, sorry, even as Evan’s eyes brightened in anticipation. Then he fetched more blankets from under the bed and nested them around his friend. “I don’t want to put wool against your skin yet, or even cotton.”

“Don’t try to change the subject. You wrote it, didn’t you? It’s one of yours.” But Evan was impressed rather than accusatory.

“Yes…” Yes, he had.

“Sev…” began Evan, then paused. “I think I love you.”

Severus froze; he simply stopped moving. This was not what he had been expecting. He and Rabastan never spoke of such things.

Evan was laying back now with his milky tea, certain he would fully recover. “It’s the way you do things. It’s so simple it is innocent. I come here, and there is no silly talk, no crying or waiting, no moaning or wondering what you should do. You don’t worry about the carpet. You don’t ask me if I’m all right. You just come right out and do everything, with your serious little face, and your serious little frown. Here I am resting, and five minutes ago I was dying out there. You’ve not only healed me when I thought it was impossible; without your worry and your port-key, I would have been stuck out there, too, in the snow.”

“It is just relief after shock. And you are not healed yet. Please rest.”

“It isn’t just that. I’m just… my world has been rocked enough to say it. I almost died!”

“Now you are just being melodramatic.” But Severus knew it wasn’t true. What did you do when someone loved you? I love you too. He knew that was what one was ‘supposed’ to say, but it felt so unnatural.

Evan shook his head stubbornly, if weakly. “Sev…”

“Yes?” And there was that immediate little frown of concern again.

“I know you’ve done so much, and I know you’ve cleaned the cuts with spells, but…” Evan hesitated, for Severus had already done so much. “The Dark Magic just feels so creepy, and I know it is only in my mind, but it feels itchy as well. Could you wash the wounds, please? With water and soap?”

Severus knew what to do then. He reached out his hand to Evan’s chest, and gently touched the wounds to see if they were knitting. Though Evan was only an arm’s length away, it seemed as if he were moving towards him from outer space. They had always found it easy to touch one another before. Yes, his spell had worked. The terrible cuts had not broken open again.

He stroked his chest, then. Surely it would be all right, and Evan would not laugh at him.

“You love me, too, don’t you? Along with Rab? It is all right. You don’t have to say it.”

Severus nodded, not looking at his eyes, though his hand stroked Evan’s chest again. He would have done this anyway, he told himself, as part of caring for him. Then daringly he lay his knuckles very gently to Evan’s cheek. He had always taken the advice not to wear his heart on his sleeve as best for everyone. “I will wash you,” he said instead.

The water from the kettle was still hot, though not enough to burn them. Severus did not want to use a flannel, for even the softest would be too rough. “I don’t want to irritate your cuts with soap,” he told Evan. “It will just be water.” He fetched a big fluffy towel from the washroom and a soft cloth from the kitchen. And he washed first the cuts very carefully and the reddened skin around them, then the places which had been covered in the most blood. Then his hands were moving with the cloth over Evan’s perfect aristocratically muscled shoulders. They were gentle again with his throat. Then he washed his face, as if he were sculpting him, as if he were forming him from clay.

Evan lay back against the pillows and almost smirked at him. But Severus knew he was not making fun of him, for Evan watched him appreciatively. The water was warm and he moved his fingers into the edges of Evan’s hair too, almost massaging now with a little more boldness. Severus took away the bowl of water before it spilled and patted him dry with the towel. More confident, he sat down close against him on the bed.

“That’s better.” Evan’s eyes were sleepily half-closed now. Healing was hard work, and so was recovery from shock.

“Go to sleep.”

And Evan moved finally, gingerly, and curled against Severus’ leg, his head on his thigh. That left Severus to stroke his head, watching Evan’s individual hairs spring up as he moved his hand through the velvet at the back of his neck. He was beautiful. He was delicate, though Severus would never tell him. He was alive.

Eventually Severus felt restless. He was doing nothing, while Evan was sleeping and healing. Pleasurable as the movement of his friend’s breath was against his knee, he felt strange. He pointed his wand at his Potions journal and called it over, propping it on his other knee. “Accio book” he cast softly, and then, “Lumos.” That was how Rabastan found them hours later. He had come by hoping to heal his own soul by making a small supper for them.
“Evan’s been hurt,” Severus whispered.

“He’s in good hands.” Rabastan touched his lips to Severus’ head and, as comfortable in Severus’ home as his own, went to begin his meal preparations. He too would stay the night.

The next morning, Evan was feeling a little better — not well enough to go out, perhaps, but well enough to sit with the others in the kitchen and to learn the new spell.

“Well,” Severus said, “it isn’t new, exactly. I was working on it with Antonin in fifth year.”

“How did they get it?” Evan asked.

“I think they got my book once by mistake after Potions. But there wasn’t even a counter-spell. What kind of irresponsible brat would use a curse without a counter-curse? Finite Incantatem does not even work on this spell. As you saw.” Then he said aloud the first thought he had when he saw Evan’s wounds. “How dare they use my spells against you? How dare they?”

“Teach us.” Evan knew him well and deftly redirected him.

Severus taught them by helping them make breakfast with him. He himself had practiced by preparing potions ingredients. The spell itself was simple enough, but when it could be so deadly, control was trickier. “When you can peel an orange, I shall let you try it on my arm and I shall show you how to heal it. Just in case.”

Soon the French toast was done, with its increasingly less haphazardly peeled and sliced apples, which Rabastan had fried up for them. They then used Sectumsempra to produce a bowl of minced oranges. They had been cut so finely and thoroughly that it was essentially now a bowl of orange juice. Rabastan strained it, Severus added wine, and Evan cast a happy little charm on it that gave it bubbles. “It is a ‘Mimosa’ now,” he said, almost laughing as he pronounced the Muggle word he had learned on one of his amused forays to the Muggle clubs. Severus put his arm around his waist, gently because of his wounds.

They were ready. He showed them the wand motions necessary to counter one’s work. He taught them both the words and the melody of the complicated song-chant of the counter-spell. They sang it together, and Severus’ heart was warmed by his friends. Careful of his left arm, with its Dark Mark, he extended his right. Rabastan went first. He cautiously cut a shallow heart pattern into Severus’ white forearm. Red blood flowed from it over his skin onto the table. Quickly, Rabastan traced the wound, singing over it with close concentration. Then it was Evan’s turn, and he carved a linking heart with Rabastan’s. He sang over his, leaning close, his forelock almost brushing Severus’ arm. When the cuts had knit, he washed them as Severus had done for him the night before. This was the way they had learned to curse when they were boys taught by Antonin and Abraxas. They had injured and then healed one another. It seemed so long ago, but it had been such a short time. Perhaps it had been Regulus’ disappearance, but they were men now.

Nevertheless, when Evan looked up at the end of his counter-spell he said, “I almost wanted to kiss it better.”

They laughed, and Severus waved his wand over his friends with a small charm to shower them with stars. “I pronounce you certified in Sectumsempra!” He showed them his two arms, the left with the black skull and snakes, the right with the healing love of his friends.

“The next time I see an Auror, I shall take off his nose!” Evan grinned and sat back to rest and heal.

They all laughed again.

first posted to my dreamwidth account.
  • Just to let you know it's part read, I'll finish it later. So far, so very good. ;) I've never read a decent Evan before, and you portray him well. Like a well done OFC DE.
  • I LOVE the idea of port-keys being keys. I love the the concern for the fate of Regulus and the concern for each other which so many people rob Severus and Dark folk of. i really like Severus being in love with his small rooms, that is just so IC. I want to be certified in Sectumsempra btw. Well done fic. The lead in was long but it was so worth it.
  • As ever, you bring us closer to Severus and his friends and illustrate why it is that this essentially noble man would be friends with other Death Eaters. You give life to the other men, who would otherwise be just names and ciphers. *applauds*

    Hoping you are not averse to a quick Britpick -
    it's Madame Tussaud's
    and
    an Aga isn't tiny - it's essentially a huge thing. I'd say "stove" or "gas stove" (I assume he would want to regulate the flame)
    • Thank you so much, Dicky. It is my mission. *winks*

      I fixed the spelling error and included a link to the exact model of Aga of which I was thinking. It is tiny for an Aga. (I wanted to get it for my kitchen in real life, because it is the best possible stove for the space available for a stove, but alas... I'd fixed on a blue model when we bought the house.) It is important it is that kind and not just any stove or cooker, because it shows that he is finally having nice things, even though his flat is wee, and that Abraxas is allowing him choice and showing care for him and his potions. It is a Muggle device to show Abraxas' indulgence and acceptance of something Sev would want from his 'misguided' childhood, and it is the very best Muggle device possible to show that Abraxas cares for him anyway.
    • Can I have Abraxas for a guardian, please?
    • The Aga is perfect - I didn't know they had small versions with flame hobs on top. *wants*
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