Warnings: Some sexual moments. Kids don't read this, at least not the beginning. Nothing graphic I promise.
Disclaimer: Do not own. Duh. Though I do claim the poems. They are mine.
"I regret that we could not join fully. What happened tonight will have to suffice. I hope you are not too disappointed?" The question said one thing, but those red eyes said another.
"Devistated my lord," he gasped out. Hell, if the man was going to do it, might as well play along so that he might escape with his life. The dark lord's smile showed his approval of the answer. He kissed him once more before standing up from the couch.
"You may leave from here my little one," Severus shivered at the man's supposedly affectionate tone, "Do not worry about being summoned, I will come get you myself in a month or two's time." At Severus' understanding nod the dark lord swept out of the room. Almost automatically, Severus stood and disapparated.
He reappeared at the edge of the Forbidden Forest. How, he wasn't sure. A person couldn't Apparate or Disapparate on Hogwarts' grounds. Severus slipped to his knees and vomited up his lunch and dinner. God, how, how could he let that.....that creature touch him? He felt dirty in more ways than one. Defiled and dirty. Volated, couldn't forget that. Though Voldemort hadn't gone all the way he'd gone far enough. He hugged the trunk of a near by tree to keep himself from falling completely. Hogwarts, he had to get to Hogwarts. Safe, the only place he was safe. Gathering what strength he had left, he lurched to his feet and began the trek back.
Half an hour later he stumbled into the Entrance Hall. Now that he was here, which way to go? Couldn't go to the headmaster, he was gone over night to the Ministry. It was the full moon so Lupin was out of the question. That left Harry...which meant he'd have to go to the Gryffindor Tower and face the rest of that house. He didn't want or need that at the moment. Making up his mind, he turned towards his dungeons but hadn't gone ten steps before two curses hit him square in the back simultaneously. They drove him to his knees and set him into a coughing fit. Blood flecked out over his hand as he tried to cover his mouth.
"Sleep well Severus," the voice of Pomfrey drifted out from the darkness.
"Yes, Severus. I hope our little presents don't keep you awake," Sinistra said. The two women chuckled and melted back into the darkness. Severus fought for control over his body even as the two curses worked against him. Once again calling on his falling strength, he set out...to the Gryffindor Tower.
The trip took an eternity. All too often he had to stop as the coughing flared up. Suppressing it as well as he could, he eventually made it to the portrait of the Fat Lady.
"Professor Snape!" the portrait called in alarm, "Are you alright?" Severus leaned over as his stomach began to cramp.
"Need....to see....Harry," he managed to get out. The portrait seemed undecided. The man was in obvious distress and needed help. Apparently he though Harry could provide that much needed help. But there was something she needed first.
"Password Professor; I need the password." Severus squinted at her in disbelief. How could she ask for that at a time like this?
"Need....Harry," he repeated, more desperately this time.
"Password Professor. I can't let you in without a password." Severus fell to his knees as the world began to spin. This was all he needed. His only friend and savior lay on the other side of the stonewall and the only passage through was guarded by a pesky painting.
*Lay off Severus, she's only doing her job. Concentrate on remembering the password,* his mental voice scolded. He closed his eyes and tried to follow the voice's advice. He could almost remember, it was just outside his grasp. Something to do with Sirius Black. That's true but not quite right. Dementors; they had something to do with it too. What did Black and Dementors have in common?
"They've both been in AZKABAN!!!" he shouted. Relief washed over the brushstoked features of the portrait and she happily swung open.
It was ten o'clock, still too early for bed. Some were scrambling to finish their homework before the next day, but not Harry. He'd breezed through his and settled down to study. Ron had tried to coercer him into playing a game of chess but Harry'd refused. He'd told his friend that he ought to be doing his work instead of wasting his time playing. Ron had left in a huff, accusing Harry of hanging around Hermione too much; he was starting to sound like her. He hadn't cared; all he wanted was to be left alone. The day before last had been a trip to Hogsmeade and while there he'd procured several books on healing. He'd spent the last two days absorbing the information like a sponge. He knew he'd need the knowledge, especially with Severus being cursed as often as he was. It still amazed him how close he'd become to the grouchy Potions Master. Actually, after the summer they'd had, it wasn't that surprising. Harry had watched the man put his life on the line again and again, saving people he didn't know or that did know him and hated him. He did all this and more with out expecting praise. Albus praised him; Albus loved the man as if he were his own child. Harry praised him as well. In the short three months that he'd spent with Severus after the man had rescued him from the Dursley's, he'd learn to love him. If you dug past that gruff and crusty exterior you found a brave, loyal and loving heart. He thought of the man as his father and knew that Severus saw him as his son and friend; they'd grown inseparable. It sent a great pang of despair through his heart when he thought he couldn't simply be around the man anymore, not if they wanted to retain the elaborate illusion he'd so carefully crafted over the years. He saw him only at meals and lessons or when he decided to draw detention. He found himself doing that more and more often as Albus was gone and Severus kept being cursed. He knew it was the teachers. Pomfrey he knew for sure and one other. Who that other was he wasn't certain yet. Remus had been let in on their deception at the beginning and was helping all he could but Harry wasn't sure if it was going to be enough. Playing the hated teacher, the bastard, was starting to wear Severus thin. Even with Harry's energy feeds he was still losing weight and seemed almost constantly exhausted. Harry was no exception. The act was taking it's toll not only on his health but on his friendship with Ron and Hermione. He cared for his friends deeply and would protect them with his life but he couldn't bring himself to tell them what was going on.
Ron was sitting finishing up the last bit of his homework while Hermione sat by the fire and read. They were extremely worried about their friend. He was constantly moody and snappish (or was that Snapish?) lately. Not to mention little more than a walking zombie half the time. Not only that but he'd practically buried himself in his work. The only time he left the castle any more was for Quidditch and Hogsmeade trips. He always worked in the dorm rooms and never in the common room like he used to. That, and he simply refused to explain what was going on between him and Snape. Since school had begun again the two had made it quite clear to the school that there would be no niceties or strained politeness between them any longer. The student and teacher had alone everything but declare all out war on one another. Though, if they had, Ron reflected, there probably wouldn't be that much difference. Neither he nor Hermione had a clue as to what caused this sudden hatred for the Potions Master in their friend but what ever it was, it had to be big. They wanted to help in any way they could but even Lupin couldn't get through Harry's bull-headed stubbornness. Finally both had decided to give him the space that he needed, although still be there as silent support, and hope the problem sorted itself out.
(Sev's Point of View)
I clung to the frame for support even after it had opened. I wouldn't be able to go much farther, that was for certain. Not with Pomfrey's lung compressing curse and Sinistra's stomach crunching hex. I'm glad now that I've already thrown everything up or it might be much worse. I am almost there, almost, just a little farther. With this realization, I propel myself through the hole. I only made it a few steps before my legs gave way beneath me and I became acquainted with the floor. The impact knocked the breath out of me explosively and caused pain to flair through my broken ribs. They had to be broken; no bruised ribs would cause that much pain. I stayed still for a moment to catch my breath before turning over to face the bright light of the commom room. Unless my ears were deceiving me, I though I heard a mouse squeak and a thud followed by several screams. I closed my eyes, trying to block out the mental images that brought up. Wormtail and the rat's steal toed boots; the Cruciatus curse; Malfoy's mad cackling and the metallic taste of my own blood; Voldemort....
"Professor?" a feminine voice asked tentatively. Granger, it had to be Granger. I'm in luck. If anyone knew where Harry was it would be Granger. I opened my bloodshot eyes and squinted at her. She and Weasley were standing only a few feet from me. Brave by most accounts; I am still, after all, the most feared teacher in all of Hogwarts, even in this condition. The rest of the house was backed against the wall or behind furniture, though they were looking at me with curiosity. I gave my head a shake. Had to stay focused, if I wanted stay alive that is. Time to ask what I came for.
(End of Sev's Point of View)
Most of the house retreated at the sight of the feared teacher, not wanting to be near him. Hermione and Ron, brave souls that they were, approached the prone figure, albeit with a bit of trepidation. They stopped a few feet from him, not willing to get any closer.
"Professor?" Hermione called, wondering if the man was even alive. He certainly didn't look it. He, however, reacted to her voice and opened his eyes. He blinked at them as though not truly seeing them, or trying to confirm he was actually there.
"Potter....I....need....Harry." The two looked at one another in confusion. Why would he need Harry? By the looks of it, he needed Madam Pomfrey.
"Why sir?" Ron dared to ask. Severus closed his eyes.
"Please," he begged, "Please get him." Their eyes widened along with everyone else's in the common room. The Potions Master, begging? They looked at one another again and decided to honor the man's request. Hermione turned towards the stairs.
"Harry! You better come down here quick!" she shouted. They could hear a dull thud followed by the slapping of bare feet on the stone floor. Harry emerged from the dorms, annoyed that his studies had been interrupted but curious as to why. He leaned over the banister.
"What is it Her....SEVERUS!" In the next instance he was at the Potions Master's side. The rest of the house had no time to contemplate how he'd come down the stairs so fast; it was almost like he'd apparated. They were to busy gawking in disbelief as Harry gently lifted the man into his lap and began to run probing hands over his body.
"Severus what happened?" he asked as he scanned, not liking what he was finding. At least two curses and a few broken bones.
"Meeting." Was all he would say, but it was enough. Harry understood, even if everyone else in the room didn't. He understood all too well what kind of meeting he'd been at. If he'd been asleep he might have witnessed the meeting with Voldemort. Unaware that the attention of the entire common room was on them, Harry went to work. With a few deft moves, he unclasped the cloak, unbuttoned the robe and loosened the shirt. He placed his hand on the Potions Master's bare chest, oblivious to the full body flinch this caused, and scanned deeper. Unable to control it any longer, Severus went into a coughing fit, spraying blood over Harry's clothes. Several people gasped but the Gryffindor ignored them and the blood and turned his attention to the lungs.
"Who cursed you Severus?" he demanded to know. His anger raged like a storm at the man's answer.
"Pomfrey and Sinistra," he whispered, his voice barely loud enough for even Harry to hear. So, Pomfrey was at it again, and apparently so was Sinistra. This wasn't the first time but he damn well was going to make sure it was the last. He pulled his father and friend closer to his chest.
"Don't worry Severus, I won't let them hurt you again, I promise," he vowed. Severus could only nod as his eyes began to close. He couldn't sleep but neither could he keep his eyes open. Hermione was shocked at the waves of protectiveness that were just wafting off of her friend. By Ron's expression, so was he. Something in Harry had changed. It was a subtle, almost imperceptible change but still there all the same. It was in the power around him and the way he carried himself. It was similar to that of the Headmaster and the Potions Master. Hermione pulled Neville to her and gave a hurried order in his ear. He nodded and hurried toward the portrait, squirting around the two on the floor. So intent was Harry's attention on Severus that he failed to notice when Neville left the common room through the portrait hole. In facet, he didn't even think about anyone else until someone spoke up.
"Harry? Are you two alright?" Hermione asked. Though the blood the man had coughed up disturbed her she was more worried about her friend's behavior. His head snapped up and he looked around at them, as if realizing for the first time that they were even there. He went into action.
"I want first through fourth years out of here now. Go up to your dorms." No one moved immediately, they were too shocked to move. Harry narrowed his eyes and growled; the magic in the air rising, making the hairs on the back of everyone's neck rise.
"NOW!" he yelled. The students scrambled up the stairs and slammed the doors behind them. Harry stared up at the dorms for a moment and there was a sudden clicking of eight locks locking as one.
"All of the fifth years except Ron and Hermione upstairs, the same goes for the sixth years," he paused and leaned over, whispering a question in the Potions Master's ear. He nodded when the man answered, "Weasley twins and Angelina stay down here, the rest of the seventh years go." Again no one moved and again Harry lost his thinning patience. The air in the common room began to crackle with suppressed power and energy; it's source, Harry. The figurines on the mantle of the fireplace began to rattle. They danced over the edge and smashed on the floor, causing several people to jump.
"Out now," he whispered into the deathly silence following this demonstration. The students didn't need to be told twice and hurried upstairs, six sets of locks clicking behind them.
"Harry," the student locked down, "gonna throw up." Harry nodded but kept a firm hold on the man. The heaves that followed produced nothing but pain and blood. The amount of blood that was coming up was starting to alarm him. He'd have to do something about it. When Severus finished, Harry pulled him closer, tucking the damp head under his chin and rocking him.
"Shhh Severus, everything's going to be just fine, you'll see," he assured, running a soothing hand down the man's back. Severus' eyes lost their focus but he clung to Harry as though he was his only lifeline to reality. Ron and Hermione didn't know what to make of the situation. The imperceptible change was now very apparent. The power Harry had displayed had retreated inside him but the air still hummed with left over energy. They didn't know what was going on between the Potions Master and their friend, but it was obvious the two didn't hate one another. The three seventh years sat down on the couch, wondering why Harry had asked them to stay behind. It was clear he had something he wanted them to do, but what? Everyone but Harry and Severus looked up when the portrait once again opened to admit the forms of Neville and Pomfrey. Pomfrey brushed past Neville and up to the two on the floor.
"Stand aside Mr. Potter. I will take care of Professor Snape," she ordered briskly, taking a step forward. Harry whipped around, surprised by her arrival. His surprise soon melted away into anger and he pointed his finger at her, the power that had hidden within him once again emerging.
"Come near him," he whispered, his finger shaking as rage coursed through his young body, "Come near him again and I swear they'll be looking for pieces of you from one end of England to the other." Pomfrey took a step back, blinking in astonishment at the young man's fury. She regained control of herself and walked forward once more.
"Mr. Potter, I am this school's nurse. I can take care of Snape," she insisted. When she tried to take another step forward she found she could not. An invisible wall had surrounded the two on the floor.
"You mean take care of him like you have the last four months and tonight?" he hissed, a perfect imitation of the Potions Master. The woman blinked again.
"What are you talking about?" she stuttered. Harry let out a harsh laugh.
" 'Poor little Snape got himself hurt again, did he? Snape shouldn't be warm, he should suffer like he has made others suffer. That's right, suffer. But this is only the beginning. Just a few extra curses here and hexes there to make your life a little more miserable,' " he mimicked. Harry raised and eyebrow and sneered when the woman paled to a sickly gray, "Well? Sound familiar? Didn't think I was awake but I was. I don't intend to let you get away with it this time." Pomfrey's face flushed beet red with anger.
"He's a God damned Death Eater, a servant of Voldemort, he deserves what he got!" she screamed. In one swift motion, Harry laid Severus on the floor and stood up. He drew back his arm.
"Severus Snape is no more a Death Eater than I am. I suggest you leave now Pomfrey, while I'm still feeling charitable," Though by his tone, he didn't sound very charitable at all. A ball of gold energy formed in his hand and grew steadily as he spoke. Pomfrey paled again and backed against the portrait. With one last glance at the angry wizard she ran out. When she was gone Harry lowered his hand and the ball disappeared. After a moment he raised his hand and cast a sealing charm over the portrait, ensuring they received no more surprise and uninvited guests. He then turned to the others. The three were still sitting on the couch while Hermione, Ron, and Neville were standing together beside it. All were gaping at him openly, not believing what they had seen and heard.
"All right, it's time to get to work. Fred, George, Angelina, Hermione: round up five cauldrons. I've got some potions I want you to brew. Neville, go up to our dorm and get the two books off my bed. Also, if you look in my trunk, there should be two more books; a small black one and a thin red one, right on top. Get those and bring them down here. Ron I need you to find as many spare blankets and pillows as you can, we have to make him a pallet. Go!" The students nodded and scampered off to fulfill his orders. Once they were gone Harry fell to his knees beside the Potions Master and gently re-lifted the suffering man into his lap.
"Severus," he directed the man's eyes to meet his own, "Severus I need to remove your clothes to access all of your injuries; all right?" He'd done this before but his instincts told him this time was different. Something had happened, though what he wasn't sure yet. At the man's nod of consent, he ever so gently began undoing the fastenings. Bit by bit the clothes came off until only his pants remained. Harry threw the work boots into a pile just as the other Gryffindors came back down. They were shocked to find a near naked Snape but ignored it as best they could and began setting up. The twins, Angelina and Hermione began lining the cauldrons up on the table. Ron and Neville went straight to Harry; Neville toting books and Ron bearing a bundle of blankets and pillows.
"Neville over here. Ron, take all but three pillows and make a mattress and cover it with all but one blanket and make sure that is the thickest and heaviest." Ron nodded and went to work. Harry began to run his hands over the man's chest and stomach, avoiding the cuts. Something about those cuts....he stopped that line of thought. Turning his attention to the lungs first, he pinpointed the curse.
"Does anyone know the finatem incantation?" he asked. All turned to Hermione but she only shrugged.
"No Harry, we don't," she answered for them. The Gryffindor's mouth turned downwards in a frown.
"Then I'll do it myself. Stand back," he warned. Everyone visibly backed away and traded nervous glances. What was Harry going to do? Taking a deep breath, he plunged his hand into Severus's chest. The student's eyes widened to saucers even as Harry's own lost their focus. He remained that way for what seemed to be an eternity before his eyes suddenly snapped back into focus and he withdrew his hand, a dark cloud clutched in his fist. He flung it into the air and pointed a finger at it.
"Finate Incantatem!" he bellowed. The cloud shattered into tiny pieces before dissolving completely. Harry paid it no mind but returned to his previous task of scanning, paying particular attention to the stomach. All the while he muttered under his breath. "Slow and deep Sev, slow and deep." Severus tried to heed this advice and managed to bring his breath under control. After a few more minutes of searching Harry found the other hex and dispatched it in a flash of sparks. Severus breathed a deep sigh of relief and all could see his body visibly relax. They hadn't realized how tense it had been before. Now that he was relaxed it was quite clear what strain the curses had placed upon him. Harry drew back slightly and turned to the four by the cauldrons.
"Take this," He relieved Neville of the black book and tossed it to Hermione, "It'll help you. Inside you should find everything you'll need recipe wise. I want you to brew a general healing potion, a bone-strengthening potion, a calming potion, a body salve and an energy potion. The energy potion should be the kind that gently replenishes energy, not all at once. We don't want him bouncing off the walls. You got all of that?" The four nodded but Angelina had to ask.
"Is that why you wanted us to stay, to brew potions?" Harry nodded.
"Severus said you were the best ones for the job," he answered matter-of-factly. Too startled to answer that they turned to work, Angelina directing them here and there to collect ingredients. Harry turned his attention back to Severus and proceeded to scan for curses one last time. To his great relief he found none, but he did find another spell.
"Now what's that doing there?" he wondered aloud to himself.
"What's what doing there?" Ron asked from Severus's head.
"There's another spell, but it's not a curse, hex, or jinx. In fact, it's not hurting him at all." He sat back a bit and studied the man, deep in thought.
"I'm going to dispel it," he said finally, "Might want to move back, this is a strong spell." Ron and Neville hastily complied as Harry drew his hand back, twirling it in tight circles to gain momentum. The other hand he placed over Severus's chest, allowing him to aim. All at once he brought his hand down, shouting the finatem spell with all his strength. It hit a blue shell that surrounded the Potions Master. The spell danced along the shell like electricity, trying to drive its way inside. First one, then another crack formed. Harry was rewarded when the blue shell shattered and dissolved. What it left behind was nothing short of a surprise of titanic proportions. Severus's once greasy, shoulder-length black hair was now a soft, slightly curly, waist-length auburn. The Potions Master opened his eyes to look up at Harry and they received another shock. The inky black eyes were now a startling yet familiar, cerulean blue.
"He looks like….." Harry trailed off as the truth broke through the confusion like the sun on a cloudy day. "Of course, it makes sense now. Why didn't I see it before?"
"See what? Harry, what happened to him? He looks like a different person," Ron whispered so as not to catch the Professor's attention. Harry shook his head, amusement written in his expression and tone.
"Don't worry, I'll explain later if I can, though I only know half the story. Neville," he turned his attention to the nervous boy beside him, "I need you to run some bath water, he needs to be cleaned badly." The boy looked reluctant.
"In our bathroom?" he asked cautiously. Harry shook his head.
"No, in that one." He pointed to the tapestry on the far wall. The decorative piece floated aside to reveal a door.
"Has that always been there?" Neville wondered.
"Yes," Harry replied with a touch of impatience, "Now hurry up." He shooed the boy away. Neville obeyed readily and scurried to the large door. As he tried its handle he found it locked.
"Harry…" the boy turned. With a distracted wave of his hand, the door creaked open. "Thanks," Neville muttered and hurried inside. Harry once more concentrated on Severus' torso, running soothing hands up and down the sides. By Ron's expression, he could tell he was making the boy uncomfortable. Well he didn't have time to think about that now, Severus still needed his help. After he was sure the man was calm and felt secure he ran his hands over the rib cage, again avoiding the cuts; which, if Harry didn't know any better, looked like teeth marks. Finding the broken ribs, he placed his hand over them.
"Hold him down, this is going to hurt," he commanded the redhead. Ron grabbed the man's shoulders just as Harry lifted up his hand. There was a sickening crack!- of a bone snapping back into place. The Potions Master hissed and tried to rise but both Gryffindors held him back.
"Ready?" Harry asked as he again placed his hand over another bone. Ron nodded and there was another sickening crack. Severus could only moan, too weak to do more at this point. This went on five more times before Harry sat back and declared himself through. Harry ran a hand through Severus's auburn hair.
"It's all right father, I'm here, I'm here. You going to be just fine." Neville came back into the room at that moment and went to Harry.
"It's ready sir," the boy said quietly. Harry was startled by the "sir" but pushed it aside to contemplate later. He gave the boy a grateful smile, hoping to calm his nerves.
"Thank you Neville, I appreciate it." The Gryffindor turned to his friend. "Do me a favor and call Dobby up here and order us something to eat. For Severus, tell Dobby to bring what he normally does, just something light." The redhead nodded.
"Won't I have to go down to the kitchens to do that?" He asked. Harry shook his head and held out his hand. A lush purple bell pull appeared and Harry gave it a firm tug. With a happy crack Dobby appeared, bouncing around the room in his excitement.
"Yes sir, what can Dobby do for you sir?" He asked in his squeaky voice. Harry nodded to Ron who began to give the elf instructions. The dark haired boy levitated the battered body, without his wand, and directed it into the bathroom. Once the door was closed safely behind them, Harry stripped the Potions Master the rest of the way. What was revealed caused Harry to swear fluently and colorfully under his breath.
"Harry?" a groggy voice asked. The boy touched the man's face.
"I'm here Severus," his voice was rough with emotion, "Don't worry, I'll take care of you." The man sighed.
"I'm glad, thank you Harry." The boy only nodded as he left the man floating in the center of the white bathroom and peeked out the door.
"Dobby!" he called. The elf dashed over to him.
"Yes sir!" he chirped. Harry opened the door wide enough to allow the elf admittance before shutting and locking it behind him.
"What is it Harry Potter sir?" the elf asked curiously. Harry only pointed at the floating man. The elf's already large eyes grew wider.
"He hurt bad? Can not heal?" Dobby asked in a whisper. Harry sighed wearily.
"I don't know. He's not hurt that bad, I've seen it worse but the emotions I feel coming from him." He shook his head. "I just don't know." The elf grabbed his hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze.
"He will get better, Harry Potter will help him and so will Dobby and the Headmaster." Harry's head snapped up.
"The Headmaster! Dobby I need to get a letter to him. Would you go get me a quill and parchment please?" The elf nodded immediately and left with a subdued crack.
"Hell's bells Severus, what am I supposed to do for you?" He wondered to himself. Carefully he lowered the man in the marble tub, pillowing his head with a fluffy towel. Grabbing a washrag and lathering it, he gently began to clean the other's body. Severus for his part remained asleep, though he would rouse himself every now and then to watch the boy work before nodding off again. Harry allowed him to sleep, knowing his body needed the rest to heal. Just as he finished, Dobby reappeared with the requested items. Drying his hands, Harry wrote a quick note to his grandpa (as he liked to call Dumbledore) and instructed Dobby to give it to Hedwig.
"Tell her to take it to the Ministry as fast as possible, that it is quite urgent. Oh, before you do, please see if the healing potion is done and if it is, bring it to me." Harry turned away as the elf left to fulfill his requests. Levitating the man out of the tub, he let him hang in the air as he used the warm towel to dry him. He left the hair wet and instead braided it, knowing he could dry it outside. Dobby appeared, carrying a round glass bottle and a set of necessary nightclothes. The boy had to smile at the elf; he thought of everything. Taking the bottle, he dabbed it on a soft cloth and ran it over the deeper cuts along the legs and buttocks. The cuts along his chest were minor in comparison and Harry decided that he would do those later as well. Slipping on the wears the elf had brought, Harry levitated the dozing man out of the steaming bathroom and into the slightly chilly common room. Severus shivered and stirred in his sleep as Harry sat on the couch by the fire, settling the man in his lap once he was comfortable. Food lay in mountainous heaps on the table before him and Harry smiled at the elves enthusiasm. Across from him, sitting on the couch and three armchairs around it, were the six Gryffindors. The seventh years occupied the sofa, with Neville on their left and Ron and Hermione on their right. They were talking quietly among themselves but ceased to do so when Harry entered. As Harry settled into place and once more removed Severus's shirt to finish the healing, Ron spoke up.
"Okay Harry, what's going on? This....doesn't seem normal," the boy demanded. The murmurs from the others said they agreed. Harry ignored them for the moment and instead moved a hand over the Potions Master chest. Seeing the man was still shivering, Harry glanced at the fire and it suddenly began to blaze furiously. The temperature of the room rose noticeably and the man ceased to shiver. The others noticed this and stared at the boy in a bit of fear. So much power he had displayed already, was he hiding more? When the dark-haired boy touched the first cut he was gripped in an emotional storm. Emerald eyes grew wide and unseeing as he relived what Severus had. Every touch, bite, scratch, and blow of a fist. The man seemed not to know what torment he was causing and slept on. Concerned by the other's behavior, Hermione rose from her chair and went around behind him.
"Harry?" She asked, laying a hand on his shoulder.
Voldemort laid a hand on his shoulder....
Without thinking he flung back his arm, sending his female friend flying across the room.
"Hermione!" Ron shouted. Harry's eyes snapped back into focus and he closed his fist, stopping Hermione from slamming into the wall. Carefully he lowered her to the floor.
"I'm sorry Hermione, you startled me. I didn't mean to," he apologized, appalled at the idea that he had almost caused his friend to be crushed. The brown-haired girl, shaking from the unexpected flight, nodded and made her way back over to the table.
"It's okay Harry, I shouldn't have startled you." She sank into her chair and nodded to Ron's worried buzzing. Seeing that she would be all right, Harry returned his attention to Severus. He quickly ran the healing potion over the cuts, avoiding contact with anymore and slipped the shirt back on. Calling the soup bowl to him he commanded it to hover near the Potions Master's mouth.
"Severus," he whispered, voice low. There was no response.
"Severus," he said again, louder and firmer. Blue eyes cracked open.
"Hmmm?" was the sleepy reply. Harry smiled slightly.
"Time to eat a little and then some potions, okay?"
" 'kay." The Gryffindor dipped a spoonful and held it to the other's mouth. Parched lips opened and accepted bite after bite, Harry seemingly determined to fill him as full as he could. Finally, he could take no more and turned his head away. When he did so, Harry banished the bowl to the table and called to him the three remaining bottles.
"Open up father."
"No more fireling," he replied tiredly. The other did not budge.
"Take these potions and you won't have to take more, I promise," he stated calmly. With a resigned sigh he drank down the three potions, one after the other. His complexion turned slightly green and Harry ran a hand over his stomach. The green faded away.
"Some father I make, I'm the one that supposed to take care of you when you're sick," he mumbled despairingly, burying himself against the boy's warm mass. The mass shifted in an unmistakable chuckle.
"It works both ways, believe me father." He nuzzled the other's hair. "I don't mind taking care of you at all."
"If you say so," he mumbled. Harry pressed his forehead against the other's, emerald green staring deep into cerulean blue.
"I do, now sleep." A soft-spoken sleeping charm sent the man back under and Harry lifted his head with weary sigh. Only when someone cleared their throat did he look up.
"Harry, what's going on?"
"I guess I do owe you some sort of explanation." Ron crossed his arms over his chest.
"That's an understatement," he bit out sarcastically. A sharp glance from Hermione made him back down. Harry sighed, leaning back into the soft red cushions.
"I guess it all began this summer while I was at the Dursleys." Angelina broke in.
"I thought you stayed here this summer." The younger Gryffindor nodded.
"I did, but not the first week. That was spent at that hellhole of a place I used to call 'home'."
"How did you end up here?" Neville asked, surprising the others. Harry seemed to be the only one not surprised.
"Severus came and got me."
"Why?" George, or was that Fred?- asked.
"He received my plea for help. You see, the Dursleys did not appreciate your prank at all from the summer before." He pulled back the sleeve of his shirt, revealing but a few of the scars that he possessed. It was enough for the others to get the idea.
"They...beat you?" Hermione squeaked, brown eyes wide. Harry nodded, his expression blank.
"Yes, quite repeatedly. When Severus found me I had a broken arm and leg along with some rather nasty cuts and bruises. I was locked in the cupboard under the stairs and had not eaten since I left Hogwarts."
"That's horrid!" Hermione cried. The dark-haired boy merely raised an eyebrow.
"It was what I was used to Hermione, though this was the first time they had actually beat me. As I was saying, Severus came and took me away, bringing me to Hogwarts. I slept, I believe for around two weeks before waking. Just when Severus was called to another Death Eater meeting." The boy shuddered. "I urged him to go, knowing he was spying for Albus and the that he would need to be there. What I didn't know was what they intended to do with him." He paused, hugging his parent closely to him. The man murmured in his sleep but did not wake.
"What did they do?" Neville asked, frightened of the answer. Harry's pain-filled green eyes spoke just as loudly as his words did.
"They used him to torture. Since no one would confess to having taken me away and admitting they didn't know who had, they tortured him. Though not just him, others as well. But his I felt, every curse, every blow, as if it had been my own body. He came back to Hogwarts nearly broken and it took all of the Headmaster's will and love to keep the man from dying. When I was well enough to move, I insisted on helping as well. It was the first time we had the chance to talk since he'd brought me to the school. We talked, God did we talk. It wasn't the last time either. When we were both well enough to leave the infirmary, Albus asked Severus to watch over me during the summer, and he did. I stayed down in his rooms in the dungeons and, under his tutelage, began my fifth year studies. Sometime during the course of the summer, I'm not sure when exactly; he began calling me fireling, childing, fire child and finally child. Each and every time he came back from a Death Eater meeting, Albus and I were waiting to help him."
"Albus?" Ron queried. Harry's lips tugged upwards in a half-smile.
"Yes, Albus. Normally I call him grandpa," he shrugged at the other's startled expressions, "Just a habit. He once told me he considered me his grandchild as he considered Severus his child." A glance downwards. "And now I think I see why. During the middle of August, Severus asked me a very interesting, and wonderful question."
"What?" Came from Fred, or was that George?
"He asked that, once the war ended, if he could adopt me as his son." A toothy grin spread across his face. "And I naturally said yes. It made sense, we were already practically family as it was, why not go the extra step?" He ran a hand through the mass of auburn. "I do love him, very much. He is my father." A long silence followed this tale as the other Gryffindors thought on what their friend had said. A few nibbled at the food and talked in low voices among themselves. Neville was the first to react. He stood up from his chair and came around to stand in front of the two. He held out his hand.
"Congratulations Harry, I'm happy for you." Harry smiled warmly at the boy and shook his hand heartily. The others followed, congratulating the boy in various ways. It was then the midnight bell from the grandfather clock (that had been enchanted to work in there) rang twelve times and Neville stifled a yawn.
"Why don't you guys go to bed? I'm going to stay down here with him." They nodded and trudged sleepily up the stairs. Once they were gone Harry banished the remaining food to the kitchen and levitated the sleeping man from his lap. Leaving him to hover for a moment, he set out making them a bed. A slight transfiguration of the sofa and several pillows and blankets and they were set. He climbed in first then lowered Severus to lay beside him. Tucking the man's head under his chin, Harry drew the covers around them and settled to sleep.
"Goodnight father," he whispered as the darkness claimed him.
" 'night child."
Albus Dumbledore decided he was getting way too old for this. Though he was a mage and therefore immortal, this was nevertheless the work for younger men. He rubbed a weary hand over his cerulean blue eyes and wished heartly that the minister would finish what he was lecturing about. As the man had finally admitting to the Dark Lord's return, he'd insisted that meetings for the preparation be attended; at all hours of the day and night. It was not that Albus didn't want to stop Voldemort, he did, he was just so bloody tired! He'd rather be at home (Hogwarts) cozily tucked in bed with his child (Severus) and grandchild (Harry) with him. But noooooo, he had to be here. Not that he was paying attention anyhow. Since he was not concentrating on what was happening, he failed to notice the commotion of the sudden appearance of a snowy white owl caused. That is, until she landed on his shoulder. A quick glance identified the bird.
"Hedwig?" She hooted importantly and stuck out her leg. Albus untied the letter and scanned it. His eyes grew wide and his face pallid.
"Albus? Is something wrong?" Fudge asked from his position at the podium. The Headmaster lurched to his feet, swaying dangerously.
"I have to go. Now." Offering no further explanation, he apparated.
"How did he do that? There's anti-apparation wards around this building?" One member whispered to another. The other only shrugged.
"Beats me, but we are talking about Albus Dumbledore here."
Albus reappeared just outside the entrance's mighty oak doors. Not pausing to contemplate exactly how he had done this (he chalked it up to his mage powers), he literally flew through the doors, banging them open in his haste. Through one hallway and then another he went, running faster than he ever had in his life. His only thoughts were of his child. Finally he arrived, panting, before the Fat Lady.
"Headmaster!" she exclaimed. He waved his hand.
"Az-azkaban," he wheezed. The portrait swung open and he leapt through the hole. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the dim firelight but when it did, he sighed in relief, seeing the two curled together in sleep. As he approached, surprise replaced his relief as his dominate emotion.
"Little one?" he whispered, touching the Gryffindor's shoulder. Harry's eyes opened a fraction, then all the way when he saw who it was.
"Grandpa. He's alright, for now."
"He didn't get to go all the way, all the better for us. Albus, he's not going back, I won't let him." The Headmaster shook his head.
"He is never going back."
The man laid a frail looking hand on top of an auburn head.
"How did this happen?" Harry looked him square in the eye.
"I broke your spell, I revealed Severus Snape as he truly is: Severus Dumbledore." The older man sighed.
"I guess I have a lot to answer for." Harry shook his head.
"Not tonight, it can wait." The Headmaster tugged at his sleeve and pulled Severus into his arms.
"Come, you both are staying with me tonight." Allowing himself to be cajoled out of his comfortable position, Harry followed along beside the older mage. The man made sure not to leave the boy behind, tugging him forward when he slowed his pace. Once they were safely inside the Headmaster's bedroom, Albus secured them both in his bed while he himself changed. Harry watched from his place as the man slipped under the covers on the other side of the Potions Master.
"Goodnight little one." He leaned over and kissed Harry's forehead.
"Night grandpa." The Headmaster placed a kiss on Severus's forehead as well.
"Goodnight my child."
"Night father." Severus replied sleepily, burying himself against the Headmaster. The man smiled, a tear trickling down his cheek. His child was his own again.
A/N: Well, (*taps her chin*) I don't know, it seems like I have a great deal of explaining to do, don't I?
A/N: I wonder, exactly how much did Severus hear? Does he know who he really is? (*everyone looks at the authoress* Dont't look at me! I don't know!)
1) If you haven't read my other story, Gold and Silver, Fire and Ice, so of this may not make sense.
2) About Harry's powers. See, he is a mage. Mages, by my own definition, can control and element (Harry's is fire) and are immortal. Severus is one as well (he controls ice) as is Albus (he controls light). With these powers seemed to come the power to heal, as Harry did frequently through the entire story.
3) I am not fond of slash, but to do this, I had to use it. Voldemort had been pursuing Severus for some time and only had been able to "capture" him.
4) I do not like Pomfrey (blame Raven Dancer) so I tend to get rid of her as often as I can.
5) PLEASE DON'T KILL ME GIL-CELEB!! I did promise never to do slash between Sev & Voldie again didn't I? Well, I actually wrote this long before I made that promise so it really doesn't count.
6) I think that covers everything, if you have any questions, or think maybe (I really don't know) I should do a sequel.
Thank you for any reviews ahead of time!