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"You should count yourself lucky you are not scrubbing cauldrons for the remainder of the day," said Snape as he handed the child another vial, casting a side glance at the pile of glass shards on the ground, "with a sore backside."
"I said I'm sorry," reminded Harry, carefully wrapping his fingers around the small bottles. He had said it a few times and had meant it each and every time. From the moment he finished his lunch to when Snape placed all sorts of protective charms on his chambers as he watched from the sofa. Even now, when he was being half-heartedly scolded once more. He meant it.
"Yes," Snape turned back around, gathering a few more vials, "that is the least you could say after destroying half of my supplies and attempting thievery." He watched as Potter slid the last of his vials into a small wooden crate sitting on the ground.
"It was an accident," pleaded Harry, eyes lingering on the cork stoppers for another second before traveling up to the black ones.
"One that I am certain you do not regret much now," said Snape with a raised eyebrow, "knowing that the work I expect you to complete is half of what it could have been." He handed the child the next group of vials.
"That is not true," supplied Harry, fingers secured around the glass, sitting back on his heels as he carefully positioned the new group of vials. "I regret it just as much." Using one hand on the corner of the box, Harry steadied himself, taking a soft breath.
"Hmmm," breathed Snape in a tone that portrayed his disbelief of Harry's statement.
"I really, really do regret it and I am very sorry" Harry looked up to the professor from his half-kneeling position. Snape let one short breath out, watching the child for a few more seconds before squatting down next to him, quickly placing the last of the vials inside the crate. In one more fast movement, he stood up, lifting the box with him.
"Come on then," said Snape, leading the way out of the small storage room. Harry followed, a bit surprised that the professor had actually accepted his latest apology but barely a second behind.
"On a usual year," mentioned the professor, holding the door open with an elbow "inventory of my supplies would have taken place a number days, if not weeks, ago. This year, however, other responsibilities have taken a good portion of my time." The black eyes met the ashamed ones as the child crossed the threshold; Harry's traveled to the ground soon after. "Therefore we will be doing that now," emphasized Snape, hoisting the box back up as he allowed the door to close behind both of them. In a few steps, he was standing in front of one of the desks. "Part of the punishment you will complete," Snape motioned for Potter to move to the stool across from him, "is checking the freshness of the supplies." The wooden crate now sat on top of the closest table.
"Now, this," announced Snape, hand reaching inside the wooden crate; Harry raised his chin, attempting to get a look of what he was pulling out, "is Hemlock Tree Essence."
"What does it do?" Harry asked as soon as the light emerald liquid was within sight.
"It is used in a few select potions due to its calming properties," said Snape, lowering the vial to the spot right across from the child.
"Oh," exclaimed Harry at the remark. He ran the tip of his tongue over his lips, eyes raising, looking inquisitively at the professor.
"You may open it," confirmed Snape, going to a nearby cabinet to retrieve a few tools. Running his tongue over his lips one more time, Harry slowly took the vial, pulling the cork off with a pop.
"Take out your hand," said Snape untying and unrolling a black leather tool kit. A quick glance at the child, and he was obeyed.
Harry released a shaky breath, his left hand out. Palm up. Snape pulled out a small glass dropper, carefully introducing it into the liquid filling just the tip. In one swift movement, he pulled it out with practiced ease. The professor's hand traveled under the smaller one before bringing the dropper against Harry's pointer finger. A large drop was released. The emerald eyes not missing a second.
"What does it feel like?" questioned Snape, opening a short leather-bound book. The dropper sat on the desk, a white quill taking its place.
"Ummm," thought Harry, unable to take his eyes off the glistening semi-transparent drop. His mouth felt dry and yet he wasn't thirsty. "Cool, I guess," he ventured, his breath was becoming heavy, his heart rang in his ears in slow beats, "like cold water." His hand twitched upward just the slightest of bits. It was barely noticeable but it gave him the strangest feeling. It was as if he was watching someone else's hand. He had no control over it and yet he did not want to stop it. His hand moved up a bit more. Gliding through the air towards his mouth.
Snape flipped the book open to the page containing his ingredient inventory. He looked at Potter, ready to ask him a new question on the consistency of the faint green liquid, instruct him to rub his fingers together. Instead, his eyes immediately narrowed at the droplet on the child's finger. He knew that particular ingredient was fresh. He had gotten it just a few days ago. And yet, there was something wrong. The droplet was clouding over. Potter moved his hand. Something was wrong.
Less than a second later, Snape's fingers closed around Harry's wrist. A rag appeared, with which the drop was wiped away from his finger. Harry blinked in surprise as if he was just waking up from a nightmare. He moved his eyes from where the droplet had been to the professor's face, but Snape was looking down. The damp rag and the professor's hand made an appearance over his finger once more, wiping it clean. The movements were sharp and short.
"I-" whispered Harry, eyes moving back down to his hand. He stopped however when the black eyes intercepted his. The professor looked angry and shocked. Snape had a hold of the vial again, bringing it to his nose.
Snape took a whiff of the ingredient, eyes scanning the label immediately after. His wand was out right away, waving over the vial, and then the table. Nothing. Snape lowered the wand and vial with a soft grunt, quickly moving to dig through the box. He pulled out another vial. It looked just like the previous one except this one was labeled Poison Hemlock. He quickly uncorked it, taking a whiff of its contents just as he did with the other one. He lowered the vial. And then the professor's large hand was on Potter's forehead, pushing Harry's fringe aside.
"Do you feel dizzy?" questioned Snape in a harsh tone. How could he have been so careless! He thought he had covered every centimeter of his chambers in protective spells. He looked for any remains of magic to see who had broken in. From what he found his ingredients had not been touched. They were fine. But clearly, he was wrong.
"N-No" denied Harry, his voice still faltering from the shock of it all. Snape had his hand on his forehead.
"Not even the slightest bit?" His right hand lowered, leaving the small forehead alone for the time being. "Nauseous? "Tired?"
"No," tried Harry again, less falter in his voice this time, "I feel fine."
"Let me see your hand," commanded Snape, extending his own to emphasize his request.
"It's fine," repeated Harry. He was not sure what happened, but he was certain the man felt guilty and that made him feel uneasy.
Snape let out a frustrated sigh, before reaching across the table and taking a hold of Harry's hand. He pulled it forward. His right one unfolded the small digits. The finger looked fine. He let out a relieved breath he did not know he was holding. He blinked, lowering his and the child's hands onto the desk's top. He slowly ran a hand down his face.
"Whoever gained access to my quarters had a plan, " unceremoniously announced Snape with an air of seriousness. "That was not Hemlock Tree Essence as I thought. Not entirely." He stared at the child, eyes locked. "It was mixed with Poison Hemlock." He lowered his pointed index finger. "Luckily, it seems the attempted potion was not a success."
Harry quietly sucked in air through his mouth, absentmindedly turning his hand to face him, fingers curling as he took in the information provided. The air was very tense. His mouth quirked sideways along with a raised shoulder.
"At least whoever got in is as rubbish at potions as I am," softly joked Harry, looking up to the angry black eyes. His smile dying very soon after.
"This is no laughing matter," nearly barked Snape, taking hold of Potter's chin. "You could have been gravely injured. Killed even." He released the small chin, their eyes still lingering on each other. "What if it had been one of the ones that broke earlier? Had you accidentally ingested any of it you would have died before I made it back." Snape closed his eyes for a few seconds, slowly letting his breath out through his nose.
"I should not have let you back here," commented Snape as soon as he re-opened his eyes.
"No," quickly argued Harry. "Nothing happened. I'm fine."
"Sheer luck," snapped Snape through gritted teeth. His jaw pulsed. "Out." He stood up. "Come on."
"But it was not my fault." Harry spun on the stool so that he was still facing the professor, suddenly feeling annoyed.
"Now," instructed Snape, glaring at the child. "Get up." His left hand traveled to the child's side, just centimeters away from Potter's arm. He did not have to pull the child up, however, as Potter stood up on his own, dropping his arms back to his side.
Harry walked out of the classroom. The professor's hand was very close to his arm, so he took a larger step, twisting out of reach. Quickly, he walked to the sofa, sitting down with a huff.
"I do not know why you think this the right moment to be cheeky," warned Snape, observing with narrowed eyes as the child sat down, "but I have no qualms with putting my concern on hold and aiding you instead with correcting your attitude."
"Well you don't have to be short with me," claimed Harry, looking at the professor with what was most definitely not a pout. He was not pouting. Not even an angry pout.
"That," continued Harry as he gestured towards the closed storage door, "was not my fault."
"I never said it was," countered Snape.
"No," annoyedly accepted Harry, "but you act like it was." His arms were crossed over his chest. "And I'm sure that even though you haven't said it you think somehow it is my fault."
Snape said nothing. Instead, he took a step in the direction of the corner cabinet at the back of the room, releasing a sharp sigh along with a shake of his head. He opened the door, taking a small box out. He walked back to the sofa.
"You always blame for everything," accused Harry in a much lower voice, taking one short glance at the approaching man. Snape pulled a chair closer, sitting down directly across from him.
"You do," continued Harry in the same low voice. A side table was pulled near, squeaking through the stone floor. The box Snape had sat on top. Shifting to sit straight once more, Snape briefly locked eyes with him. The professor's face was almost blank. A serious kind of blank. The large hand made it back to his forehead.
"Whenever something bad happens," claimed Harry, raising his eyes to look at the palm above his eyebrows, "you look at me as though you are sure I had something to do with it." He looked back at the professor. Snape took in a breath, slowly bringing his hand down.
"I always get blamed," finished Harry in a resentful tone, looking at the edge of the sofa. He could feel the professor's stare. Glaring at him.
"Are you quite done?" Snape asked, raising an eyebrow. Potter did not say anything, looking away instead. Snape stared at the side of the child's face, releasing one sharp breath. A minute went by. Synchronized breathes the only sound in the room.
"You are absolutely certain you do not feel the slightest bit off?" Snape continued to stare at the child. The green eyes met his for a second, before Harry softly nodded his head, looking back down at his own knee. Snape held his gaze to the side of Potter's face for another minute, before tearing it away as well. He released yet another sigh. A tired one this time. His hand left the top of the box, leaving it closed.
"Making it seem as though I was blaming you was never my intention," confessed Snape sitting straight on his chair once more. "As I said earlier today, I believe you are not responsible for most of the things that transpired, nor do I believe you tampered with my ingredients."
"I know," agreed Harry, turning his body to face the professor.
"Yet you did not say that." Snape dipped his chin, attempting to meet the child's eyes.
Harry shook his head, visibly swallowing once. Shame continued to creep along his neck. He felt ashamed of the way in which he had talked to the professor. Allowing his anger to take control. Exploding because of such a silly thing. He should have been glad, not angry. The professor cared.
"I mean it, Potter," emphasized Snape, shifting a bit forward in his chair. He stared at the child, hoping to get some sort of acknowledgment that Potter believed his words. But none was given. He closed his eyes for a few seconds.
"What is that?" asked Harry, giving a slight tilt of his chin.
Snape immediately opened his eyes, searching the child's face. He followed the green stare and gesture with his own eyes, landing on the forgotten box. Snape pulled it a bit closer.
"All of the things I apparently need to keep you alive," responded Snape, taking the lid off and sliding it across the side table. Harry lowered his eyes and peered into the box.
Inside were a series of small bottles. One of which he recognized from the few cuts Snape had healed before. There was also gauze, a glass thermometer, and a few other odd items. All forming part of a sort of aid kit. For him. One more glimpse into the box, and Harry's eyes settled on the glass thermometer for a second, a small dry laugh escaping his lips.
Snape looked away from the child's green stare, following it, his own eyes settling on the same glass object. He swallowed. A second later he took it out of the box, taking all of a second before carefully shaking the thermometer out to his right.
"I'm fine," Harry attempted to say before Snape even had a chance to try to place the object in place, yet he was quickly shushed by the professor. In one short movement, the cold metal tip was hosted under his tongue and his chin pushed up to close his mouth around the thin glass. The professor moved forward, taking up Potter's left hand. He laid it on his knee. His right hand quickly going to feel the child's pulse. He stared at the clock across from him.
"No fever," announced Snape when the minute was up, glancing at the numbers on the thermometer and shaking it off to the side one more time. "You do not appear to be extremely agitated either, and" he quickly extended the fingers on Harry's right hand, "there is still no sign of damage."
"I told you I was fine," claimed Harry with both eyebrows raised, pulling his hand out of the professor's grasp.
"You said a great deal of things," said Snape from between tight lips, putting the thermometer back in the box. Immediately he let out a big breath, closing his eyes for a second, palm over the side of the box. It was not Harry's fault. He opened his eyes, turning his attention back to the box. He took out one of the small vials.
"I thought you said there was no damage," said Harry, looking away from his knee and towards his finger, searching the professor's face immediately after. Snape was applying one of the salves onto his fingertip.
"There is not any that I can see," acknowledged Snape, wiping his hand clean, "however, I feel better knowing that I did not miss anything."
"Oh," breathed Harry, swallowing hard once, eyes back down on his lap. The professor sighed next to him, putting the bottle off to the side. A soft cough.
"If I had known-," began Snape, the words catching in his throat.
"It wasn't your fault," softly interrupted Harry, looking up to the professor with a saddened look.
"Perhaps not directly," said Snape, forgoing the stern glare he should have given the child for interrupting, "but they are my ingredients and it is my job to make sure you do not come to harm." He locked eyes with the emerald ones before him.
"But you did not know it was going to happen," argued Harry, "and besides, nothing happened."
"Sheer luck," scoffed Snape, at which Harry gave a dry laugh.
"I guess I am pretty lucky." Harry looked back up at the professor, watching as the stern features relaxed just a bit.
"It would seem so." Snape raised an eyebrow, letting the previous heaviness in his tone vanish. He stared down at the far lower corner of the room, deep in thought.
"What now?" asked Harry after coming back from his own thoughts. "What am I supposed to do?"
"About what exactly?" questioned Snape, not sure what the child was referring to.
"Well," Harry swallowed in brief embarrassment, "my punishment." He shifted in his chair. The professor was staring straight at him. "I can go back to the supplies. I really don't mind. I can, umm-" he trailed off.
"Nevermind that," quickly responded Snape. "I for one think that enough happened today to risk you going back near any potions supplies."
"But then-" mentioned Harry, unsure of how to word his question.
"I will worry about that later," emphasized Snape. "For now, your punishment will consist of accompanying me tomorrow." He glanced at the clock. "There is enough time nonetheless for you to work on your school assignments if you find yourself in need of something to do."
"Could we play a game of chess instead?" questioned Harry before he could stop himself. The idea had not even truly formed in his head before he heard it voiced.
Snape raised an eyebrow at the child, tilting his chin to the side. And then, he relaxed.
"We could," said Snape with a sharp nod, not believing what he was saying. "There is a set in my study. The second drawer on the cabinet furthest to the right." Harry stood up, headed in the direction of the man's study.
"I swear," commented Snape in a rare bout of contentment, "if you somehow manage to hurt yourself during the game," the child turned around, the beginning of a grin spreading over his face, "I will bind you in pillows until you become of age."
"I'll be careful," promised Harry over his shoulder with a laugh.