Authors Note: Hello lovelies! So I'm very excited to be able to say that I am officially done my undergrad degree! My very last assignment got handed in today and all I have left to do is walk the stage to get my degree officially in June. I'm hoping this means I will have a bit more time to devote to writing and will be able to update more regularly. I came to the realization a few days ago that my story is officially longer than three of the Harry Potter books, so that was a confidence booster right there!

As always, thank you for everybody who has reviewed, favorited, and followed me or my story. You guys are the real champs. You're reviews are honestly what keep me going. So leave me a review and let me know what you think of this chapter and any recommendations you have for future chapters!

On that note, Severus has something else he has to be apologizing to Harry for from the previous chapter. I'm surprised nobody caught it yes (or if they did, they didn't tell me!), so if you figure it out let me know what you think it is!


"You tattled on me?!" Harry spit out, tearing his eyes from the letter in front of him to glare at Hermione.

Hermione glanced up from reading her own letter from her parents from where she was sitting across the Gryffindor table and narrowed her eyes at Harry.

"Merlin Harry, I didn't tattle. You make it sound as if we are two and having a spat on the playground."

"How do you explain this then?" Harry shook the offending piece of paper at her.

"I may have mentioned what happened this weekend in my last letter." Hermione said primly, turning her nose up and returning her attention to her own letter.

"You tattled!"

"Oh grow up Harry."

"You grow up!"

"You can't say you didn't deserve it. What you did was really stupid!" Hermione snapped, turning to look at him once more.

"You're just upset because you got in trouble for lying. You're the one who suggested it in the first place!"

Ron was watching the argument with a bemused expression on his face, head going back and forth like he was watching a tennis match.

"I wouldn't have had to lie if you had some common sense!"

"You didn't seem too bothered by it when I was there!"

"I did too and you know it Harry James!"

"Snitch!"

"Liar!"

Harry shoved back from the table and stood up, settling his most ferocious glare on Hermione before snagging an apple off of the table and storming away.

"You're taking his side?!" Harry heard Hermione snap.

"Sorry Hermione. I know you've been an only child your whole life but that's basically rule number one. Never snitch on each other to the parents. Percy's a prat, but I still wouldn't go snitch on him. Well, maybe if he'd really ticked me off..."

"He's not my brother!"

"Good as," Ron laughed. "Otherwise you wouldn't have felt the need to go tell."

Whatever else was said was lost in the chatter of the Great Hall as Harry stormed out. Harry glanced up towards the staff table as he was leaving and caught his guardian's eye. Severus was watching him carefully, his face betraying no emotion. Turning away, Harry pushed the door open to the entrance hall and paused to fold the letter up and shove it and the apple into his bag. His eyes flicked over the page again as he did this and he felt shame well up again. Disappointed. Unwise decision. Better than that. Unsafe.

He scowled and tried to shove the feelings away, but it was hard. He had grown quite close with Mrs. Granger and sometimes wrote to her more often than even Hermione did, and he hated having done something to garner her disapproval. Realistically, the scolding she had given was mild compared to the one he had received from Severus, and had only taken up a very small portion of the letter she had written him but it was the only thing he could focus on currently.

"Oi mate, wait up!" Ron huffed as he caught up to Harry, effectively startling him out of his thoughts.

"She's a prat."

"A right git that one." Ron agreed. "Don't worry, she'll come around and apologize soon enough. Let's go to the tower before classes. I didn't get to finish breakfast and I think I still have some fudge my mom sent."

The rest of the day passed by agonizingly slow. Lessons seemed to drag on forever, nobody being able to pay attention as they were all too excited for the Halloween feast that night. The professors were getting irritated by the whole thing and some gave up on a productive lesson all together.

Harry steadfastly ignored Hermione, making sure he and Ron got a table far away from wherever Hermione sat. He knew he was being petty, but couldn't find it in himself to care. He could feel himself softening up towards her as the morning progressed, but any feelings of good will were bashed as Remus caught Harry as he left Defense class to go for lunch. The professor had told Harry that he had heard about his escapades in Hogsmeade and expressed his disapproval. That in itself wouldn't have upset Harry so much, but then the professor had gone in for the kill so to say, telling Harry that his actions didn't reflect any respect for the his own life and wellbeing that his parents had sacrificed their own to save. Needless to say, Harry left the classroom in an even worse mood than before and any thoughts of forgiving his friend were thrown away.

Harry had to show great restraint he thought, as he barely managed not to stomp through the great hall for lunch. He seated himself as far away from Hermione as he could and silently ate his lunch. Even Ron didn't try to talk to him, though he came and sat across from him. Harry could feel Severus' eyes boring into the back of his head, but he refused to turn around. Why he was in a foul mood was none of his nosy guardian's concern.

The rest of the day went by this way, with Harry ignoring Hermione and vice versa. Both seemed perfectly content to pretend the other didn't exist and to throw glares at each other when they thought they wouldn't get caught. It worked well enough, until Potions class that is.

Ron and Harry rushed in, nearly late, and Harry scowled when he realized that the only open table was the one right at the front, in front of where Hermione was sitting. The pair sat down and Severus began his lecture and introduced the potion for the day.

"Now, one of the ingredient you will be using is fire seeds. This ingredient is uncommon and expensive therefore we do not have as much of them as with our other ingredients. There are enough jars for every four people to share. Get one jar per two table groups and share amongst yourselves. Other than that, you may retrieve your own ingredients. You have an hour and a half to brew and decant the solution. Grades will be given based on the quality of your final product. Go."

There was a great rush for the ingredients cupboard so Harry elected to stay seated until the crowd cleared out. He scanned the directions so he would have a sense of what he needed to do when he gathered everything. Hermione sat back down with a huff and carefully laid out her materials.

"I've got the jar of fire seeds already."

"Of course you do," Harry muttered under his breath and Hermione sneered at him as she pulled her hair back off of her face.

"Grow up Harry,"

"I will when you do. You're the one acting like a two year old."

"Is there a problem here?"

Harry looked behind him to where his guardian was looking down on them, one eyebrow quirked.

"No sir. I was just going to get my ingredients."

Severus held his gaze for a moment longer before nodding and moving on to check on other students. Harry moodily went to fetch his ingredients and set his mind to ignore Hermione for the rest of the class. He wouldn't let her get him in trouble.

Harry's plan worked for the majority of class as he and Ron worked side by side on their potions, both of them seeming to be producing decent results. That is until it was time to put the fire seeds in. Harry glanced down at the directions one more time before turning around to fetch the jar. Add two medium sized fire seeds, staying well back from the cauldron to avoid any splash back from the instantly heated liquid.

He turned and glanced around for the jar containing the seeds. Hermione had it clenched in her hand, a look of frustration on her face as she mumbled to herself.

"Medium? What does that even mean? Which ones are medium sized for Merlin's sake?"

"Oi, pass those over. Other people need those too you know."

"I'm not done with them!"

"You have six in your hand! You don't need that many. Give me the jar."

"You can wait your turn! They teach that in nursery school."

"Do you know what else is taught in nursery school? Not being a snitch."

"You're impossible! You can wait until I'm done with them. You know what? I think Neville needed them before you did. You can wait until he's done with them too."

Neville let out a startled yelp and looked up from where he was reading his textbook intently. He held up his hands in surrender, not wanted to be dragged into their argument.

"Just give them to me."

"No!"

Harry lunged for the jar and Hermione tried to keep it out of his reach. Harry hissed as his elbow knocked into Hermione's cauldron, starting the whole thing wobbling on its apparatus. Before Harry could even react, Severus was there, yanking him back by the scruff of his robes and the other hand steadying the cauldron.

"That is enough," he hissed at the two children. Harry shrank back. So much for not letting Hermione get him in more trouble. "Both of you can go wait in my office quietly. Am I clear?"

"Yes, sir." Both children mumbled.

Harry led the way, cheeks flaming and stomach flipping nervously. Was Severus going to be very cross? They didn't have long to wait at least. Class was over in ten minutes anyways. Harry and Hermione sat silently, listening to the class finish up brewing and shuffle out. There was a quiet clanking, which Harry assumed was Severus magically stacking the cauldrons in the basin to be washed. A few minutes of silence later and Severus finally stalked into the office. He came to stand in front of the desk, leaning against it, and surveyed the two youngsters in front of him. Harry couldn't bear to meet his guardian's eyes and instead stared resolutely at his shoes.

"Would either of you like to enlighten me to what that was about?"

Harry and Hermione glanced at each other before looking away again, neither saying anything.

"Harry, Hermione, look at me." Severus instructed calmly.

Both of them looked up sharply and Harry let out a little sigh of relief. If he was using their first names, he couldn't be that mad. It was strange to hear him use Hermione's first name at all really.

"Now, I don't know what you two are fighting about, and usually I wouldn't press the issue. How you deal with your friendship is none of my business. However, you made it my business when you brought your spat into my classroom and created a dangerous environment for yourselves and the other students in the room. What would have happened if Hermione's cauldron tipped over, or if you had accidentally knocked the fire seeds in her hand into the potion? You or others could have been hurt. So what is going on?"

Harry and Hermione looked at each other again before looking down shame-faced.

"I-it's my fault sir. I'm really sorry, I didn't mean to behave like that and put others in danger." Hermione said softly.

"I'm the one who jumped across the table. It's my fault sir." Harry said quickly, not wanting Hermione to get in trouble. He was already in a ton of it, what was this on top?

"Calm down you two. Nobody's in trouble right now. I want to know what is going on to make you act like this. I've never seen you behave this way before"

"It was a stupid argument that got out of hand," Hermione admitted. "I may have snitched on Harry to mum when I wrote to her last. I'm really sorry Harry, I shouldn't have. I was upset about losing points and Ron was being a prat so I was in a bad mood when I wrote the letter."

"I'm sorry too. I shouldn't have said those things to you either. I was being a prat about it. I just don't like disappointing people and I had already disappointed Severus and then your mum and then Professor Lupin at lunch-"

"Professor Lupin?" Severus interrupted.

"Uh yeah. He held me after class and told me I wasn't respecting my parent's sacrifice by sneaking out."

"Although I can't disagree with his sentiment, he had no right to say that to you." Severus said softly.

"That's rotten Harry. No wonder you were in a bad mood. I'm sorry I was egging you on."

"I wasn't exactly making it easy to keep the peace with."

"No, you were being a git."

"And you were being a prat."

Harry and Hermione looked at each other seriously before cracking a smile and eventually laughing.

"Now that that's settled," Severus interrupted, rolling his eyes at the pair. "There is still the matter of your behaviour in my class. I will not tolerate childish displays of temper and pettiness like that again, am I clear?"

"Yes sir," the pair parroted back.

"Since your tantrum interrupted your brewing, the natural consequences would be that you both receive zeros for today. I will have mercy just this once, since it is Halloween. Both of your cauldron's are on stasis charms. You have 10 minutes to go finish. I believe you were on the last few steps anyways."

"Thank you professor!" Hermione chirped, jumping to her feet.

"Go on ahead Miss Granger. I want to speak to Harry for a moment."

Hermione nodded and rushed from the room, eager to finish her work. Harry once again found himself staring at his guardian's shoes instead of his face.

"Come here Harry," Severus said softly, opening his arms to the boy.

Harry eagerly stepped into Severus' arms and wrapped his own arms around his guardian's middle. Severus allowed the hug for a few moments and then gently pushed him back to hold at arm's length.

"Are you okay Harry? I meant what I said, Professor Lupin had absolutely no right to say such a thing to you."

"It's true though. They would hate me."

"Your parents? Don't be thick child. They would love you very much. They would be quite proud of the boy you became."

"Really?"

"Would I lie to you?"

"Thank you Severus,"

Harry ducked in for one more quick hug before pulling away. Some of the turmoil Harry had been feeling all day settled and he felt truly okay for the first time that day.

"You don't hate me either?"

"Of course not child."

"Promise?"

"I believe I already discussed last night with you that I certainly don't hate you Harry. Now go finish your potion and behave the rest of the day. Don't make me regret giving you a stay of punishment until tomorrow."

"I won't sir!" Harry saluted cheekily before leaving to join Hermione in the classroom.

oOoOOoOo

"Oi! What's the hold up?"

Harry watched with sleepy amusement as Ron tried to shove past the first years in front of him to try to see what was going on. The feast had been amazing as usual and Harry had gorged himself on all of the food and treats - he had three helpings of treacle tart alone - and his pockets were bulging with sweets he had nicked from the table. No one wanted to leave the festivities early and so most of the school was still in the Great Hall when the tables finally cleared themselves and the professors had ushered them off to bed.

The only problem was, they couldn't get into the common room. Or that's what Harry assumed anyways. Why else would the crowd of Gryffindors be backed up all the way to the stairs? Harry grew more alert as nervous murmuring made its way back to where they stood.

"Head boy coming through! Make way, head boy coming through! Merlin, did you all drink a confounding potion and forget the password?" Percy pushed by them irritably, trying to make his way to the front of the crowd of children. Harry, Ron, and Hermione followed closely behind, wanting to see what the problem was. When they got close enough to see the portrait Harry froze in shock. Where the portrait of the Pink Lady was supposed to be, the frame was empty and the canvas was in tatters, having been ripped or sliced until it hung in ribbons.

Harry couldn't take his eyes off the empty portrait and hardly acknowledged Peeves as he swooped gleefully over the heads of the nervous children and Percy tried to get him to tell him what happened. The poltergeist finally said something to make Harry's ears perk up and he spun around to listen.

"...terribly upset when he wouldn't let him through without a password. Nasty temper, that Sirius Black."

The corridor was quiet enough to hear a pin drop for a few moments after that proclamation and then all hell broke loose. Students started screaming and shoving from all directions, no one sure where they were even trying to get to.

"Enough!" a voice cut through the panic and everyone froze and turned to where their Head of House was standing, apparently having heard what Peeves had said. "Mr. Weasley, you will take everyone back to the Great Hall. Everyone is going to remain calm and quietly follow your Head Boy. Now is the time to show your Gryffindor bravery. Everything is going to be fine but you need to follow instructions."

The tension was so thick you could almost see it, but everyone turned obediently and followed Percy back down the stairs, the Prefects remaining behind to usher the stragglers along. Harry was numb with fear and let Hermione pull him along. Sirius Black was in the castle. Sirius Black tried to get into the common room where, if it weren't for the feast, Harry would have been up in his bed, completely defenseless. Severus had been right, he was stupid not to take the threat seriously. He knew that sneaking off to the village was disobedient but he never truly thought he was in danger. He wasn't stupid, he knew Sirius Black was out there and a threat to Harry, but it had always seemed to be a distant and not quite real threat. That bubble of naivety was popped.

The walk down to the Great Hall was a blur for Harry, and he hardly noticed the worried looks his friends shot over his head. The other houses filed in shortly after the Gryffindors had arrived, sitting back down at their tables and looking quite confused. It didn't take long for news of the attack to spread amongst the other houses and hushed conversations created a soft buzz in the background.

Harry watched absently as the Head of Houses stood in front of their house's table, a sheet of parchment in front of them, magically taking attendance of their students. His eyes drifted towards Severus, who wore a fierce scowl on his face as he took roll call. When Severus glanced up and their eyes met, Harry tried to force a smile. He could tell even from across the hall that his guardian was worried about him. Unluckily for his Slytherins, worry made the professor grouchy. That thought brought a more genuine smile to his face. Maybe Draco would do something to earn Severus' ire.

"The teachers and I must conduct a search of the castle." Dumbledore's voice cut through the chatter and everyone turned to him immediately. "For your own safety, you must remain here tonight. The prefects are to keep guard of the entrances to the Great Hall and the Head Boy and Girl will be in charge. Any disturbance is to be reported directly to me. You can send a ghost with a message."

Percy was looking incredibly self-important as Professor Dumbledore clapped him on the shoulder.

"Oh right, I suppose you'll need these." The headmaster had paused on his way to the door and gestured for everyone to stand up. With a wave of his wand, the tables and benches floated and stacked themselves against one wall and hundreds of squashy purple sleeping bags appeared on the floor.

The trio rushed to grab some bags and dragged them to the back corner of the hall. The rest of the school was doing the same. Most of the Slytherins claimed spots along the back wall, the rest of the school spreading out across the floor. Harry spotted Malfoy's blond head about halfway between him and the door and it seemed like the rest of the third year snakes were in the general vicinity. Blaise was the closest to the trio as he placed his bag down against the wall about ten feet away. Percy waved his wand and the lights in the hall dimmed to almost nothing. He was attempting to hush people as whispered conversations broke out across the hall.

"Do you really think he's still here? Black I mean?" Ron whispered nervously as he climbed into his sleeping bag.

"If he was smart he would have fled the grounds by now. He'd have to know that all of the staff would be looking for him once they found out." Hermione answered.

"Well no one said he was smart, did we? He's a bloody lunatic, he is. For all we know, he's still lurking around here. How do they expect a bunch of prefects to protect us if he breaks in here? We are a bunch of sitting ducks in here."

"Ronald!" Hermione snapped, looking over at Harry with a concerned expression on his face. Harry ducked his head and climbed into his own sleeping bag.

"Sorry mate. I'm sure he's nowhere near here anyways. Like Hermione said, he had to have known everyone would be after him. He'll be long gone by now."

Harry made a noise in the affirmative and changed the subject. The trio talked until eventually Hermione and then Ron nodded off. The rest of the Hall was silent, only interrupted by the soft footsteps of the patrolling prefects. Harry laid still and fought off sleep, which, for as sleepy as he was earlier, was fairly easy. His mind was on high alert and a cold panic had set in. He knew if he fell asleep now, he would just have nightmares and he refused to wake up screaming in front of the entire school. Merlin only knew how much joy the knowledge that Harry Potter had nightmares would bring Malfoy.

Harry lost track of how long he lay there. Hours maybe? The waxing moon had made its way part way across the enchanted ceiling at any rate. Trying to shrug off sleepiness, Harry sat up on his elbows, glancing around the hall. It looked like everyone else was sleeping peacefully. Apparently the threat of a mass murderer in the castle wasn't enough to keep them awake, Harry thought bitterly.

A flash of movement to his left caught Harry's attention and he glanced over. Blaise sat up on one shoulder, facing Harry. He quirked an eyebrow and his silent question was clear. Why are you up anyways? Harry shrugged in reply. It wasn't any of Zabini's business. His chin jutted out, displaying his annoyance at the other boy's intrusion. Blaise stared at him hard for a moment before rolling his eyes dramatically and flopping back down to the floor. Harry almost got the feeling that Blaise knew what his issue was anyways.

Harry saw Percy start his rounds back towards where he lay so followed Blaise's lead and flopped himself back down. He absentmindedly fingered his wand, twirling it between his fingers; anything to keep his mind occupied and the exhaustion and anxious thoughts at bay.

"Oi, Potter!" a voice hissed after a few minutes.

Startled at the sound, Harry flinched, sending his wand clattering to the ground in a shower of sparks. He turned to glare at Zabini, who was trying to hide his snickering.

"What do you want you git?"

"Who are you calling a git? You're the prat who won't stop twirling that bloody thing over there. How's a bloke supposed to sleep with you being a distraction."

"Not staring at me would probably be a good start." Harry tried to sneer, but could barely manage when Zabini rolled his eyes and tried to stifle another snicker.

"What is going on over here?" Percy demanded, glaring down at the two.

Harry murmured a quiet 'nothing Perce' but an odd feeling of dread washed over him as he watched Blaise's eyes flicker between himself and the Head boy, an assessing look on his face, before his features settled into their familiar haughty glare.

"Nothing? What are you calling nothing? Did you not hear what Potter was saying to me? I won't stand to be insulted like that. I demand you fetch a teacher right this instant."

"What?!" Harry protested.

"Excuse me, but I am Head Boy and you won't be demanding anything. The teachers are otherwise occupied and I won't disturb them for a petty argument from a couple of children."

"You call yourself Head Boy? A first year could supervise better than you. How could you not see Potter try to hex me? I don't want just any teacher. Go get Professor Snape."

Harry scrambled to his feet as Blaise stood from his sleeping bag, arms crossed and trying to look as superior as possible in wrinkled robes. Harry was stammering, trying to get any sort of objection out. What exactly was Zabini playing at? Severus was already in a bad mood, Harry didn't want to see what he would do if Percy actually called him in from searching the grounds to find that Harry was in trouble again. Harry would probably be lucky if he saw the outside of their quarters before Christmas.

"Keep your voice down Mr. Zabini! You are going to wake everyone up. Get back into bed this instant."

"Fine! If you won't send word to Professor Snape, I guess I will have to find him myself. Loudly. Through the whole castle… I would hate to see what Professor Dumbledore thinks of your suitability for Head Boy if I were to be harmed by the mass murderer that's roaming the halls."

"But-" Harry protested, panic rising in him. Blaise started making his way over sleeping bodies towards the door.

"PROFESSOR SN-"

Blaise's shout was cut off as Percy reached out and clamped a hand over the younger boy's mouth. He glanced around anxiously as a quite a few people around them shifted in their sleep before settling back down a few moments later. Blaise smacked the hand away from him and settled a fierce glare on the redhead which was returned with just as much heat.

"Fine! Come with me and no more talking. I will be most displeased if you wake anyone."

The pair followed Percy to the front of the room, behind the head table. He gestured to the wall and told them firmly to sit down, to which they both complied. Harry glared darkly at the other boy the entire time, but Zabini was staring resolutely straight ahead. They watched as Percy approached one of the few ghosts that were floating around the Great Hall and spoke to it in whispers. The ghost glided away through the wall and Harry groaned, dropping his head to his knees.

"What the bloody hell mate? You realize he's going to skin me alive right?"

This didn't elicit a response from the other boy. They didn't have to wait long. No more than five minutes later the doors to the Great Hall opened and Snape stepped through. Percy met him and whispered to him hurriedly as they strode across the Great Hall. The professor's eyes narrowed as he turned his attention to Harry. The two boys stood up as Severus stepped onto the raised platform that held the head table. Severus grabbed both boys roughly by the shoulder and pulled them through the doorway in the corner that led to a smaller room off the Great Hall. He released them and pulled the door closed again with a snap, leaving an affronted looking Percy behind.

"One day!" Severus snapped as he turned around. "One day, Mr. Potter! You couldn't even stay out of trouble for twenty-four hours. I give you leniency and this is how you show your respect?"

"But I didn't-"

"I don't want to hear your excuses!"

"Sir, he-" Zabini tried interjecting.

"I don't want to hear from you either right now, Mr. Zabini."

"But I didn't do anything!" Harry nearly shouted, stamping his foot. He knew he looked childish but he didn't care.

"He really didn't sir," Zabini rushed out before Severus could comment. His guardian stilled and turned his glare between the two boys.

"Than what is this? Your idea of a good prank? Do you two dunderheads think that all of the professors are combing through the entire castle and grounds in the middle of the night for fun? That what we really need is a distraction right now?"

"It wasn't a prank sir, really! I don't even know what it was. We were just talking and then Percy came over and this git-" Harry turned his glare towards Zabini. "- starting going off about how I tried to hex him and demanding you were notified."

"Care to explain yourself?" Severus asked silkily, turning to his student.

For a moment, Zabini wilted under the glare but he straightened his shoulders and met his Head of House's eye.

"I'm sorry sir, but I couldn't think of anything else."

"Think of anything else for what boy? What could you possibly need me for so desperately at this hour that would excuse taking me away from ensuring the entire school's safety?."

"I- Well- Okay, it's like this. On the first night, when I came to see you and Potter was there, you had him take a calming drought and a dreamless sleep potion. I'm no dunce, I can figure out they were for nightmares and probably fairly bad ones at that. I don't know…" He trailed off momentarily. "I guess I just figured if someone had broken into the castle who I knew their sole purpose was to kill me, I would have extra bad nightmares too and I wouldn't want to have them in a room with the whole school. What other reason would someone be awake at half two? I thought you might be interested to know, that's all."

Severus visibly softened as his irritation faded. He went to a small cabinet in the corner and withdrew a familiar vial, holding it out to Harry.

"I'm sorry H- Mr. Potter. That was foolish of me to overlook."

Harry just nodded and took the vial from Severus' outstretched hand. He was struggling sorting through and managing all of his emotions. He was exhausted, relieved that he didn't get in trouble, embarrassed that Zabini knew about his nightmares, and still anxious about the idea of coming so close to Sirius Black. Most of all he was surprised by how much he craved a hug from Severus and the feeling of comfort and security that he knew it would bring. He even took an involuntary step forward before he stopped himself. Off to the side, Blaise huffed and rolled his eyes.

"Oh Merlin. Do what you've got to do. It's not like I haven't sussed this out already," the boy said, gesturing vaguely between the two.

"Pardon me?" Severus questioned.

"I don't know the particulars of course but I do know that Potter doesn't live with his relatives anymore and you are somehow involved. Enough to be on a first name basis at least. Potter almost called you Severus that first night didn't he? Oh calm down on the glares. I've known for months and if I was going to tell someone I would have done it by now. Who am I to begrudge someone for getting out of a bad situation? Kids don't need scar salve for nothing professor." Blaise said smugly.

Severus was still leveling the Slytherin with a heated look when he found himself with an armful of Harry. He gently turned them so Severus' back was turned to the other boy.

"I really am sorry Harry. I should have been thinking clearer. How are you doing?" Severus asked softly, hugging Harry back tightly.

"I'm sorry Severus! I was stupid. I didn't think Black would actually be so close! I shouldn't have snuck out," came the muffled reply. Severus had to resist a smirk as he pulled back gently from the distraught boy.

"Hush now child. We can discuss it tomorrow. Right now you need sleep, both of you, and I need to return to patrolling. Do you need a calming drought as well or do you think the dreamless sleep will be sufficient?"

"I'll be okay." Harry replied before turning his attention to Blaise, who was tactfully ignoring the pair. "But I wasn't the only one up all night. Blaise hasn't been sleeping all night either."

"Nark"

"You're one to talk!" Harry laughed.

"Blaise, anything you would like to share?" Severus questioned.

"It's nothing really. I just couldn't fall asleep. I got a letter from my step-father before the feast tonight. He is most displeased with my most recent grades. He's threatening to force me home for Christmas hols to 'deal' with my behaviour."

"I'm sure I can find a reason to keep you here over break if it comes down to it. I can also notify all professors that any poor grade notices for my Slytherins must come through me first and I can use my judgement for what gets sent on from there."

"Thank you sir,"

"Take a dreamless sleep with you too, just to make sure you actually fall asleep. Exhaustion won't help your studies. I'll see what I can do for a study partner as well."

"Yes sir," Blaise agreed sheepishly, accepting the potion vial from the professor.

"Now off to sleep, both of you. And try to look properly chastised when you leave! I can't have my reputation ruined. I will not accept any rumours of me going soft."

Both boys nodded in agreement, but had to stifle smiles as their gazes met over Severus' shoulder. Harry snuck one more quick hug before Severus opened the door, ushering them back out. They both tried to look downcast as they made their way back to their sleeping bags but had to stifle chuckles as their eyes met again. Harry quickly swallowed the potion as he settled back down to his pillow, gratefully allowing sleep to overtake him as he slipped off into a blissful nothingness.