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Azkaban Blanket for Rabastan (anomalywaiting)

Azkaban Blanket for Rabastan (anomalywaiting)

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sherlock.  not good?
Fic for: anomalywaiting
Title: Azkaban Blanket

Characters: Severus, Rabastan. Dumbledore
Rating: PG
Warnings: None
Summary: Severus visits Rabastan in prison and brings him a gift.
Disclaimer: This journal contains adult material. I am not Severus Snape. I am not Alan Rickman. I am not Alec Hopkins. I do not own Severus, Alan nor Alec, nor any thing nor person from the 'Harry Potter' universe. I do not own Rabastan LeStrange or Albus Dumbledore. I make no money from this journal, which is written by and for adults.
Word count: 2,223
Author Notes: The prompt was 'Blanket'

It had taken Severus two years to arrange this meeting of half an hour. That had been two years of forms and requests; two years pleading with Dumbledore, persuading him to speak to the Wizengamot on his behalf; two years of acquiring references; two years of impeccable behaviour. He hadn't dared to approach Lucius, who had acquired others' suspicion along with power. His claim of Imperius did not quite ring true to anyone's ears, but he was a Malfoy and had taken over the positions and connections of his father. It was better to work with Dumbledore and motives regarded as pure. Oh, Lucius knew, but this was Severus' work alone.

He had been in Azkaban himself and knew its darkness - its bitter cold, draining hope and light, faith, trust, even the bare concept of pleasure. He was older now in ways that he believed Lucius would never be, and under Dumbledore's watchful eyes, if he was not under locks and dementors. Dementors. He shuddered and reached out his mind again, searching for his friend. He could feel him sometimes through the Mark. He remembered the elegant party for Evan, where they had all shone confident and insularly defiant. They were all gone - Evan was dead, Regulus had simply disappeared, Bella and Rodolphus and Rabastan... Only he was left, and Lucius now. Their Dark Lord was gone, killed by James' brat. Always James.

Severus worked: brewing the potions for the school; preparing lessons; lifting the corners of his mouth but not his eyes with the wary, scornful professors in what seemed like endless rounds of appearances and small-talk; spying in bitterness on the parents of his young snakes while he guided their children. Indeed that was the only pleasure, though pride in them was sullied by shame in himself. To Dumbledore it seemed to be endless penance for his sins; to himself it was atonement for his freedom; to both of them it was restoration of his soul.

In the small cracks between tasks, and late into the night, he planned and worked on this one thing. He wrote essays to the ministry and to the prison to allow him this visit. He was not family, and though he had been cleared, he had never been washed clean in their eyes. It was as if, in the muggle world, he lived under house arrest or parole. Still, he was achingly, pathetically grateful. And guilty. But he was free, and perhaps he could offer something, at least to Rabastan. He was only free because he had been paired with Lucius, he knew, and again sadly thanked the memory of Abraxas.

It had taken a long time to think what he could do for his friend, analysing his situation at the prison and the conditions for visits. No magic, he knew, would be allowed in. His wand would be taken from him at the door, lest a dangerous criminal seize it from him. Severus had always practiced silent wandless spells along with the standard ones, learning while the others had leisure time. Now he used his hours of rest to prepare the complex spell network to unroll for his friend. He had included a request to bring a gift to Rabastan, non-magical - a simple gift, a blanket. A Christmas gift. He would visit him on Christmas, when the ministry grew sentimental, even about Deatheaters.

Magical items were not permitted, were scanned and investigated as one entered, but once inside, there were no scans. They would not take it from his friend once he had been permitted to receive it. Cold that ate one's heart; despair; all occurrences, thoughts and objects turned against one, put into the worst possible light; no hope; no view of colour or lightness; abandonment - these were the things that were the worst of Azkaban. It is these that he wanted to ease, and surely, even in anyone else's eyes, that desire would not be sinister. So Severus waited into the night, every night, weaving the spell that would mesh with the blanket, imparting warmth and care, indelible. Even when those things had been drawn from Rabastan himself so that his bones and heart were frozen and empty, he could wrap himself in them, perceptible to himself alone. Again thinking, he also embedded a small charm to keep it clean and rich in that hell devoid of colour, that it would provide some brightness. Green, .

The blanket was dark Slytherin green, for all of them together when they had been young - the softest thickest heaviest wool Severus had been able to find. He had saved for it and even embroidered on one corner a snake of Demiguise hair, invisible and rare. Wool was warm, even when damp, and again he was sorry to think of Rabastan in a cell where such considerations were necessary, though he knew it must be so.

Finally came the day of the visit. He was accompanied by Dumbledore to ease his passage, though he would see his friend alone. It was as much to watch him as to watch out for him, Severus knew. He was stripped and scanned. He was set before Legilimens, though they were no match for him and he concealed the spell easily, projecting loneliness; concern for his friend; fear of the prison; a heartbreaking memory of them throwing sticks for Bernard in a park and laughing together. All were true. His wand was taken and set with wards. His wand! Rabastan had not had a wand now for years. The blanket was unfolded, examined minutely. He showed them the embroidery as they would find it anyway, his heart beating terrified. It was refolded and returned, pronounced innocuous.

It was a long walk to the corridor of cells, and he felt the breath of dementors again. They were forbidden to take his soul, he knew, but their presence and threat dragged his feet to a trudge and weighed his head. Dumbledore walked solidly and frowning beside him. He was drawn back to his time as a prisoner. Rabastan had been here long years now. His friend would be different, would not recognise him, would hate him, resent him, angered that Dumbledore had redeemed him, that he was free. What had he been thinking? He wept silently, sorry for himself, aching uncontrollably for his lost friend. Control. These were not his thoughts, these were the dementors' intrusions, their influence. He lifted his head in resolve to put them aside. He would show light, a breath of something good. He would offer a hand to grasp when his friend was drawn endlessly drowning into the swirling whirlpool of pain and hate and darkness.

At last he was escorted into the dim cell and he was peering through the dusty air at the figure on the steel bed. It rose to greet him when commanded. Then the door was re-warded and locked behind him with the old clang and click of finality.

"Rab. It's Severus." He used the old name, his name, the private nickname that he had never heard another call him. Always clean and neat, his friend had given up. Where was there water to wash? Who was there to have given him a comb? Oh, Rab. The dark blond hair that had always been crisp and neat was matted now, the eyes bruised round with pain - purple eyes in darkened purple circles. His clothes were dirty, stained, wrinkled and baggy, despairing grey and darker grey - not even black. His posture was slumped now, his arms hanging listlessly. Severus only then noticed the smell of the cell, of his friend's body. He didn't say anything, perhaps he was not used to speaking. Severus could well believe it. His eyes. They were wary, disbelieving, hopeless, defiant, guilty. They were silent, opaque. Oh, Rab. Rabastan.

"It's Christmas, Rab. I've brought you a present. Look. I just have to..." He opened the blanket, spreading it on the floor, then knelt and sang over it, releasing the spell, letting it shimmer into it, unrolling slowly, meshing with the warm wool and disappearing. The figure returned to the bed, but watched him. It was a long spell, complex and precise. There was not much time. He had to give him this. He had to tell him and offer him certain things. It was not just these few moments of company he had brought.

Severus gently wrapped the blanket about him and sat next to him on the bed. It was spelled with warmth, with love kept for him. It was spelled to envelope him, to protect him, to give him something better to turn to in this horror. The blanket began to work at once, and his friend moved slightly, more easily, curling it around him with volition - the first he had showed. He really looked at Severus then, still silent, but showing him his pain, pouring himself into Severus, daring to accept company.

Severus sat close and put his arm about him. There was so little time. "Do you remember?" Please remember. "Once you came with me, to still my shaking hands, to care for me after... a hard night. I can't tell you how much that meant, how it... sustained me, then and afterwards, through... everything. It has meant so much to have a friend. That's what I have brought you, Rabastan, in the blanket. It won't dim. They can't take it from you - I've settled it by decree with the permission to bring it to you, to visit you. I was here too, Rab. Do you remember, I called you Rab?"

"The Dark Lord is gone. Everyone is gone but Lucius and I. But look, Rab. There's something they can't take, magic they can never remove from us, keep from us. Look. Feel." He rolled up his sleeve, himself also in the ugly prison garb, and rubbed his Mark. How the wardens had recoiled when they saw it, then sneered. How their faces had closed, despite Dumbledore's presence. He reached and rolled up Rabastan's sleeve, and as he put magic into his own Mark, as his snakes undulated and coiled through the skull, so Rabastan's did as well in answer, and there was that sure knowledge of presence there, of communication between them. It was not strong enough for words as it had once been. Yes, the Dark Lord was gone. The small movement of attention and presence remained. It was cold, not warm, like ice drawn over the skin, but it was there, a link between them.

"It was hard to come. I may not be able to come again. Remember, Rab? I promised, and I am still glad I did. I didn't regret it. It seems someone else's story now, a children's story. I said I would be there for you, always, should you need me. You need me, now, I know. Feel, when use my Mark? Even when I am not there, this will work, despite distance or even Azkaban. I will do that, feed it magic every night, and you will know that I am thinking of you. Each night. Every single night. If ever you have the opportunity as well, you can come to me. The blanket will keep you too, remind you. As much as they do to you here, the worst is what you do to your own mind. Give me your hand?"

It was offered, placed in his. Severus was relieved and repeated the old gesture, the old vow, with the flash of sealing magic, stronger than it had been the first time, enduring to defy the darkness here. "I will be there for you, should you need it. Always."

Rabastan spoke, experimentally. "Thank you. Severus." Then again he said, "I remember." There was the answering if weak flash of brotherhood.

"You are still human, no matter what they tell you, no matter what you cause yourself to believe. I will know and keep that for you. I'm so sorry Rabastan." This was the important part of the visit, the part that would be ongoing, that would give his friend company and contact, preserve his sanity with the best Severus had to offer. He held him then with living warmth, told him of himself, the house at Spinner's End, his work at Hogwarts.

"What of the others?" Rabastan asked. There was no good answer. They were all gone, all of them. Severus said it briefly, did not dwell on darkness as he knew how it would settle on Rabastan's imagination and grow the more horrifying and worrisome, eating into his heart. He told him instead about Lucius and Narcissa, their small promising son. He told him about his duties with the young Slytherins. Hope. Even Abraxas was gone.

It was over too soon, and Severus wept as he walked along the hallway with Dumbledore, who had waited patiently with the guards outside the locked door. He had probably known everything Severus had said and done. It didn't matter. Severus wiped his eyes with the filthy prison sleeve. I'm so sorry, Rab. I'm so sorry. Again the pressure of the dementors assaulted him. I'm so sorry. The Headmaster's hand took his elbow.
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