Word Count: 29889
Rating: PG-13 (Realistic depictions and discussions of The Troubles)
Summary: Snape escapes Voldemort’s wrath, but fears he will die anyway, so he flees to a place of safety…
1: The Rites
Severus stared into those bright green eyes and prayed with his entire heart that the Lord would somehow allow this boy to live no matter what Dumbledore said. He could not say those words – he couldn’t order Lily’s child to let himself be killed. Instead, he let Albus do so through the memories he gave him. As his final parting gift – the only true gift he could think the boy would accept – he included memories of Lily with the necessary ones. Even the conclusion of the memory the boy had pried into two years ago.
His vision began to fade as the boy fled the shack, and his hand sought a button, the one closest to his wand. Every article of clothing he owned had one button made into an emergency portkey, all of the taking him to the same place. Brushing it, he breathed out one word, “Sanctuary.”
Father Patrick McKinney jumped at the crashing sound in his kitchen. Grabbing his wand off his nightstand, he flung his sacramental stole over the habit that he slept in. During these troubled times, one never knew when he was going to be called upon, and he preferred to be paraded before all God’s people at least in his habit. Rushing out of the small room, he hoped that all he needed to do was offer sanctuary to some poor soul and that the evil chasing him would agree to it.
Severus? That thought almost brought his feet to a halt. Could he face his friend taking his last breath? For that was the only reason Severus would appear in his kitchen close to two in the morning.
Snatching his emergency portkey off the kitchen counter as he entered, he flew across the room to the black form collapsed on the floor. Grabbing a tea towel, he dropped to his knees, pressed it to Severus’ neck hoping that he was applying just the right amount of pressure, draped himself over Severus holding on as tight as he could, and activated his portkey.
They fell to the cold stone floor, the smell of antiseptic cleaners penetrating Patrick’s nose. He sat up while still holding the towel tightly against Severus’ neck. Closing his eyes, he shut his grief to small corner in the back of his mind. He had a task that needed to be completed, one for which Severus had come to him. Latching onto words said far too often in these troubled times, he began to administer Severus’ Last Rites.
“The grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” He bit back a sob as he paused for the habitual response that wouldn’t come this time. He could hear Severus’ voice in his head rejoin And also with you.
Moving forward, for Severus knew what he was there for, Patrick ran the standard Gospel verses used through his mind, and chose the Gospel of Matthew as a fitting one to use. “Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
The yoke Severus had carried for so long was about to be lifted, especially if the monk who was supposed to be monitoring the Infirmary didn’t get there soon. Patrick was certain that the new yoke God had in store for him would be easier, at least he hoped.
Lifting his eyes from Severus’ pale face, he looked about the Infirmary, hoping to see some tell-tale sign of where the monk was. Seeing no one, he shifted his position so he could search Severus’ robes for a Blood Replenisher and keep the pressure on his wound at the same time. He was positive his friend would have one on him.
“Severus, open your eyes. Please.” His words were torn out of him as he pulled vial after vial out of the robes.
The eyelids fluttered, but there no evidence of consciousness.
Patrick’s head shot up, his eyes wide with hope. “Brother Ignatius! Help, please.”
Ignatius dropped to Severus’ other side, his wand in his hand and his eyes searching the patient’s face. His voice was hard as he asked, “You know who this is, don’t you?”
Patrick snarled at the cold tone. “Yes, I know who this is. I also know he is a loyal member of my flock, one who is trusting me to help him.”
Disbelieving blue eyes clashed with angry hazel. “After all he and his ilk have done?”
Patrick’s own hazel eyes demanded that Ignatius set aside his anger – an anger Patrick had never seen when the man dealt with other patients who were equally guilty of harming others. “Only God shall pass judgement. It is our place to care for all who are His children.”
He scooped up a vial he thought might be the Blood Replenisher – potions were not his forté. Using his teeth, he began to pry the stopper out, hoping it was truly what Severus needed. If nothing else, a Blood Replenisher might buy him enough time to complete the Rites. The vial was quickly taken from him.
Ignatius looked at the contents and then back at Patrick, his anger no longer evident. “Blood Replenisher?”
Patrick nodded to the towel he was still holding in place. It was sodden, blood staining his hand. “I think he needs it.”
Ignatius opened the vial and coaxed Severus to drink half of it. “Let’s get him onto a bed; the floor’s cold and that won’t help with his condition.”
He levitated the vials onto a side table before repeating the same spell on Severus, placing him safely on a bed. “Do you know what happened to him?”
Patrick shook his head. “When he portkeyed into my kitchen, he had two large puncture wounds in the side of his neck. I covered them and brought him here.”
Puzzled blue eyes searched him before turning back to Severus. “Move the towel, I need to see the wounds.”
“Do you have a Viaticum and some chrism here?” asked Patrick as he slowly lifted the towel. “I rushed out and left mine.”
Ignatius nodded absentmindedly as he stared at the gapeing holes. “I’ll bring them to you.” He gestured to Severus’ neck. “It looks like a snake bite. I’ve never seen one that large before, though.”
“Nagini,” snarled Patrick as he covered them back up, gently applying pressure again. “One of those vials might contain the antivenin. I know he made some, I just don’t know if he carried it with him.”
“I’ll check them after I bring you the other items you asked for.” The monk crossed the room and picked up a small tray off the shelf on the far wall. Setting it on the small table, after gently nudging a few of the vials aside to make room for them, he then picked up Severus’ wrist. “His pulse is thread; you should do the Rite for Emergencies.”
As Patrick reached his hand over Severus’ head, the black eyes fluttered open and the throat under his other hand convulsed.
“Patrick,” Severus’ voice was soft, barely a whisper.
“I’m here, Severus.” Patrick fought the tears gathering in his eyes as a small smile curled those thin lips.
“Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been…some time…since my last confession.”
The rushed words were barely a whisper, but the effect was immediate. Patrick felt the Seal of Confession close around both of them. Nothing said from this point until the end of the Rite of Reconciliation would be heard by anyone else – ever.
Severus continued to speak, hardly pausing for the Seal to resonate. “I’ve been bitter…and unkind. I assisted in Albus Dumbledore’s death. Even though it was by his own request, it was still gravely wrong. And…I let more students under my care be hurt. Mere children…”
An unbidden tear trailed down Patrick’s cheek. “Yes. Yes, go on.”
“Worst of all, I…sent Potter to die. I gave him the memory of Albus telling me he had to. I gave him a lot of memories. Those of my role as a spy, proof that I still was one…some of his mother when she was younger…Albus’ instructions.” Black eyes searched Patrick’s face as if looking for the accusation that would never appear. “I killed him.”
Patrick shook his head in denial that Severus murdered Potter, but knew that it would take months, if not years, to convince the man otherwise. Time he hoped and prayed he would have, but doubted. “Do you truly regret all your sins?”
Severus drew a slow breath and whispered, “I am sorry for these sins…and all the sins of my past life…especially for the mission that led…to Lily’s death.”
Even as Severus began the Act of Contrition, Patrick extended his hand over the man’s head and clearly intoned his prayer. The two intermingled, his Latin weaving counterpoint to Severus’ English.
“Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee…and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell…but most of all because they offend Thee, my God…who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace…to confess my sins, do penance…and to amend my life…”
“Deus, Pater misericordiárum, qui per mortem et resurrectiónem Fílii sui mundum sibi reconciliávit et Spíritum Sanctum effúdit in remissiónem peccatórum, per ministérium Ecclésiæ indulgéntiam tibi tríbuat et pacem. Et ego te absólvo a peccátis tuis in nómine Patris et Fílii + et Spíritus Sancti.”
The Seal of Confession fell, allowing sound to enter their small section of the Infirmary.
Ignatius held out a vial towards them, relief evident on his face. “Have him drink half of this. I’ll have the Viaticum ready.”
Patrick accepted the vial, slipped his bloody hand behind Severus’ head to prop it up, and pressed the glass rim to his lips. “Drink, Brother Ignatius wouldn’t poison you, and it is your own creation.”
Severus dutifully obeyed, stopping when he had drunk half of the antivenin. As he did so, Patrick prayed the Apostolic Pardon just in case Severus didn’t survive. He didn’t want the stain of those sins to coat his friend’s soul. His words mixed with Ignatius’ Eucharistic prayers.
“Per sancrosáncta humánæ reparatiónis mystéria, remíttat tibi omnípotens Deus omnes præséntis et futúræ vitæ pœnas, paradísi portas apériat et ad gáudia te sempitérna perdúcat.”
Ignatius’ quietly murmured ‘Amen’ had Severus doing the same once he had swallowed. The monk then exchanged the vial for the small wafer that held so much importance. Patrick held it up before Severus’ eyes in his non-bloodied hand and reverently said, “Corpus Christi.”
Black eyes were trained completely on the Blessed Sacrament. Severus swallowed convulsively before he answered strongly. “Amen.”
As Patrick placed it on his tongue, a sense of relief filled him. Nothing could keep Severus from meeting their Father now. “Ipse te custódiat et perdúcat in vitam ætérnam.”
Severus’ eyes fluttered shut as he swallowed once again. His breathing evened out as he drifted off to sleep.
“Let us ask the Lord to come to our brother Severus Snape with His merciful love, and grant him relief through this holy anointing. In faith, we pray.”
“Lord, hear our prayer,” Patrick responded before his brain realized that Ignatius had moved onto the Anointing. It took watching the monk pour a bit of chrism onto the pale face and draw a cross through it for it to sink in.
In a clear voice, Ignatius prayed, “Per istam sanctam Unctiónem et suam piíssimam misericórdiam, ádiuvet te Dóminus grátia Spíritus Sancti.”
“Amen,” whispered Patrick before he coated his own fingers with the chrism. Touching the hand next to him, he noticed Ignatius touch Severus’ other one.
In unison, they made a cross as they spoke, “Ut a peccátis liberátum te salvet atque propítius állevet. Amen.”
Drawing a steadying breath, knowing he was nearing the end, Patrick continued. “Father, You readily take into account every stirring of good will, and You never refuse to pardon the sins of those who seek Your forgiveness. Have mercy now on Your servant Severus Snape…” his voice quavered as he said the name, “who has now entered the struggle of his final agony. May this holy anointing and our prayer of faith comfort and aid him in body and soul. Forgive all his sins and protect him with Your loving care. We ask this, Father, through your Son Jesus Christ, because he has won the victory over death, opened the way to eternal life, and now lives and reigns with you for ever and ever.”
He closed his eyes as Ignatius’ ‘Amen’ sounded softly from the other side of the bed. They both then raised their right hands and made the sign of the cross while reciting the Benediction. “Benedíctio Dei omnipoténtis, Patris + et Fílii et Spíritus Sancti, descéndat super vos, et máneat semper.”
Sinking down, Patrick would have ended up on the floor if Ignatius hadn’t summoned a chair.
“You can leave him here, Patrick. I will keep him safe.”
Patrick shook his head. “I will stay and keep vigil. It is the only thing left I can do for him.”
“What of your parish?” Ignatius summoned a blanket and draped it over Severus.
Patrick watched as the monk left Severus’ shoes on – clear indication that he did not think the man would survive until dawn. “There is nothing on my schedule today.”
A second blanket was summoned and offered to him. “There is a water bowl and jug under the side table and clean cloths. I’ll be back with a bandage and some salve for the bruising.”
“Thank you, Ignatius.” Patrick set his blanket in his chair before spilling water into the jug. Pouring a little into the bowl, he used the cloths to clean up his friend. He was done by time Ignatius was back. Once the wound was treated and wrapped, he settled into the chair, his eyes trained on Severus’ face, and began to pray.