Snape slammed into his private quarters, rage still coursing through his veins. How dare Potter? How dare the boy delve into his most private memories? After all he'd done for the boy? Opened his quarters to him, taken care of the ungrateful brat, healed him. He shook his head in disgust. Had Potter's seeming vulnerability all been an act? Was this his way of getting revenge on the man for going soft?
Reaching for a Calming Draught, Snape was as disgusted with himself as he was with Potter. Really, what had he expected? He should have known better. He downed the potion in one long gulp, thankful that Covey was busy this evening as he'd rather she not see him in this state. So distracted was he that it wasn't until the last of the potion slid down his throat that he coughed, trying uselessly to hack the potion back up. He grabbed the bottle and looked at it more closely.
"Merlin's hairy balls!" Snape cursed, throwing the bottle into the fire, and not the least bit relieved when it shattered. He'd taken a vial of extra-strength Dreamless Sleep potion. Similar in color to the Calming Draught, but clearly NOT the same thing.
Snape ran his hands through his hair. He had work to do tonight. But clearly, Potter had ruined that, too. Snape grabbed the other glass vial, checking the label this time, and downed the Calming Draught as well. His night was over anyway, he might as well make the best of it.
He showered quickly and, by the time he put on a pair of pajama bottoms and crawled into his bed, his lids were already closing and his anger had abated somewhat.
At 7:50 pm, Harry headed back toward the dungeons, his book bag slung around his neck, his injured wrist hidden under his robes, and a note in his other hand. He was bound and determined to gain Snape's audience, even if he had to sleep outside the man's office. He only hoped that Snape's office and quarters were still keyed to his signature and that Snape hadn't removed his access after tonight's events. But first, he had to find a Gryffindor. As he was passing the Great Hall, he ran into Colin Creevey.
"Cowin!" Harry called out.
"Hi, Harry," Colin smiled. "What happened to your teeth?"
"Wong swory," said Harry. "Can you gib dis to Ron?" Harry held out the note, which explained to Ron and Hermione that he'd knocked out his front teeth and might need to spend the night in the hospital wing. He wanted to cover his bases in case he didn't return that evening.
"Sure, Harry," Colin said. "Good luck with your teeth."
"Hanks," Harry said.
He arrived outside Snape's office at exactly 8 o'clock. He knocked, lightly at first, and then harder. But there was no answer. He tried the door, but it was locked. Now what? Remembering seeing Snape open his office this way once before, Harry placed his palm in the center of the door and held his breath. To his amazement, a click sounded and the door creaked open. A wave of relief washed over Harry; Snape hadn't removed his access after all.
Stepping inside the dark office, Harry pulled out his wand and muttered, "Umos."
By the light of his wand, he closed and relocked the office door, and then went to the door to Snape's private quarters. There he knocked again, more nervous now. He knocked louder. He waited. Had the man gone out? Was he ignoring Harry?
Harry tried the knob. It was locked, but even if it hadn't been, Harry wasn't sure he'd go in uninvited. Should he just stay in the man's office and wait? After all, it was alarmed to his presence—or at least it had been. After what happened, Snape may have removed the alarm as Harry would likely be the very last person he'd want to see. Harry fidgeted, debating what to do. In the end, he decided that he couldn't wait until the morning.
Gathering up his courage, he placed his palm tentatively against the door to Snape's quarters. Again, there was a click, and the door swung open. Harry stood on the threshold, wondering how smart it was of him to enter Snape's quarters uninvited. If Snape was that angry about his private memories being breached, what would he do to Harry for entering his private rooms?
"Hewo?" Harry called softly. "Pwofeffer Snape?" he called more loudly. There was no answer, but there was a soft glow in the room from the fireplace. "Cobey?" he called, taking a step inside, and hoping that the healer would be there. She would listen to him and surely side with him. The only sound, though, was that of Earl Grey, who meowed plaintively as she wound her way between his ankles.
Harry pushed the door wider and tiptoed inside, hoping beyond hope that Snape would not find him having broken into his rooms as he'd found him in the Pensieve.
"Pwofeffer?" Harry called again, closing the door behind him. He ran his tongue through the hole where his front teeth should have been; it was strange to speak without them.
There was no sign of the man in the sitting area near the burning fire, nor in his study or kitchen. The bathroom door was open. The room that had been his was also open, but Snape's bedroom door was closed. Harry recalled that the only time Snape closed his bedroom door was when he slept.
His heart beating almost painfully in his chest, Harry considered what to do. Had the man gone to bed so early? When Harry had stayed there, Snape was usually up until at least 11 pm, often midnight, grading essays or chatting with Covey over a glass of wine or mulled mead. Perhaps they were together in his bedroom and, if that were the case, Harry would likely have just signed his death warrant.
Nervously, he approached the closed bedroom door. Was this suicide, he wondered? He looked at the door between the man's office and sitting room, which stood ajar. Perhaps he should just leave now, while he still could. It was tempting.
But, no, he'd promised himself that he'd set things right. And he was in pain. The sooner the man believed him, the sooner he could get fixed up.
With that in mind, and trembling slightly, Harry knocked softly on the door. Nothing. He knocked again, a little louder, and waited. Waited for the sound of a grunt or a footfall or something to indicate the man was approaching the door. Or a shout, perhaps. With still no response, Harry pressed his ear to the door. He thought he heard something. Holding his breath in hopes of hearing better, he waited. And there it was, a soft snore. Harry pulled back. So, Snape was asleep. Harry wasn't stupid enough to poke a sleeping dragon.
He leaned against the wall, debating what to do. He wished he had a pain potion at the very least. He was sure Snape had several, but he wasn't about to go rummaging through the man's things looking for one. Well, maybe he'd have a quick look in the loo. Surely the man wouldn't fault him for helping himself to a pain potion, would he? As the pain throbbed in his wrist, he wasn't sure he cared. He had a plan and if he was going to get any sleep tonight, he was going to need something to ease the pain.
He stepped into the water closet. There were a few bottles and jars on the vanity, but no pain potion. There was, however, a neat little shelf on the wall that had several glass bottles, all labeled in Snape's slanted script. And there was a vial of Pain Reliever. Hoping against hope that Snape wouldn't mind, he uncorked it, took a couple healthy swallows, and sighed as the potion washed over him, taking the edge off the worst of the pain. He put the bottle back on the shelf and headed to the room that had been his.
Nothing had changed since he'd left, although it was neat and clean, probably the work of house-elves. And, as he had hoped, the bed was made. With his good arm, he gathered up the sheets, blankets, and pillow and put his hopefully-not-too-dangerous plan into action, Earl Grey trailing happily behind him.
Snape rolled over and groaned. He had a sickly sweet taste in his mouth—Dreamless Sleep potion, he realized—and he felt as though he'd slept much too long. His back ached and he had a kink in his neck. He grabbed his wand and waved it in the air. The numbers 5:15 glowed brightly for a moment and then faded away. Then he remembered yesterday, and Potter, and groaned again.
He needed a cup of coffee and he needed to use the loo. Pushing the covers aside, he rolled out of bed, stood up, and stretched. Coffee first. Then maybe he'd finish grading the sixth year essays he'd meant to do last night. By then it would be time for breakfast.
He was thinking about his teaching schedule for the day ahead as he opened the door and stepped out into the hallway.
"What in the name of Merlin…" Snape said, barely catching himself from falling as he stumbled over something obstructing his doorway. That something was righting itself into a sitting position.
"POTTER!" Snape hissed.
The boy held up a hand. "I sowwy, siw," Potter lisped.
"What are you doing here?" Snape demanded angrily.
The boy was trying to get to his feet, but seemed to be tangled in the sheets and blankets that were strewn in front of the door to Snape's bedroom. Snape resisted the urge to give the boy a hand up, instead, resting his hands on his hips.
"You'd better have a damn good explanation for this, Potter. I could have you expelled for this."
Now on his feet, the boy looked defiantly at him, one arm curled protectively against his body. "I sowwy, siw. I needed to tawk to ooh."
Snape opened his mouth to yell at the boy, but paused. "What is wrong with your speech?"
"I knock my two fwunt teef out when I fewl in your offif."
"My scaw hut an I fewl in your pensif. It wa an acwi-ent."
Snape scratched his head. The boy was looking at him intently, desperately even, but Snape was too tired to understand. He pulled out his wand and held Potter's chin in his hand. He uttered a spell to regrow the boy's teeth. "Now speak sense before I lose what little patience I have."
"Thank you, sir," Potter breathed, running his tongue over his newly formed teeth. "Yesterday, after you left your office," Potter burst out, "my scar hurt really bad. It does that sometimes. I started blacking out from the pain and I fell. I hit my mouth on your Pensieve, that's how I lost my teeth. And I must have toppled inside." Potter looked up, his eyes pleading. "Honest, Professor. I would never have invaded your private thoughts on purpose. I know you probably don't believe me, but I wouldn't have."
Potter took a breath and continued. "I understand now why you hated my father, and you had every right to. I'm sorry he treated you that way. I hate that he treated you that way."
Snape stood rigid, still not sure he believed the boy.
"Please sir," Potter continued. "You know what happened to me. You know how my cousin bullied me. I would never wish that upon anyone. Least of all you, after all you've done for me."
When Snape didn't respond, Potter stared anxiously at him. "Use Legilimency. You can see for yourself. You can see what happened for yourself."
"You could show me whatever you chose to," Snape said, crossing his arms.
Snape felt a small sense of satisfaction at the panicky expression that crossed Harry's face. "I'm not lying, sir!" he asserted. "Would I really risk breaking into your private quarters and sleeping in front of your door if I'd meant to go in your Pensieve? That would be suicide!"
Snape had to agree with that.
"I wanted to leave the Pensieve the second I realized what had happened but I didn't know how. I swear, Professor. I'm sorry it happened, but it was an accident."
"Why are you holding your arm like that?" Snape asked.
Harry looked down, as if just remembering his arm. "When I fell into your Pensieve, I think I broke my wrist."
"Why didn't you go to the hospital wing?"
"Because I knew I'd have a hard enough time convincing you, and if my injuries were healed, you'd never believe me," Harry replied.
"Who says I believe you now?"
"Also," Potter said, looking away, "I, er, used some of your pain potion last night. I'm sorry I took it without permission, but I just couldn't help it. I will pay you for it, or brew you some more, or serve a detention for it."
"Mr. Potter," Snape said, waiting for the boy to glance up at him. "Let me get this straight. First, you FELL into my Pensieve, knocking out your two front teeth and injuring your wrist. Then, instead of seeking treatment in the hospital wing, you did Merlin only knows what until you decided that speaking with me could not wait until morning. So, you broke into not only my office, but my personal quarters, where you proceeded to steal some pain potion, which, I might add, Madam Pomfrey would have happily given you had you gone to the hospital wing forthwith. Then, when you presumably couldn't rouse me, you decided to camp outside my bedroom door, where you would be poised to ambush me as soon as I left my bedroom. Is that the essence of it, Mr. Potter?"
"Well, when you say it like that…" the boy said, hesitating, "it sounds very…"
"Moronic?" Snape offered. "Asinine?"
"Er, Gryffindor?" Potter said hopefully.
Snape burst out laughing. "You know," he said, "I could assign you detention for the rest of your school career given all the school rules you have broken in the last eighteen hours."
"Sorry, sir," said Potter. "I just really needed you to know that it was an accident and that I didn't do it on purpose."
"And just why was that so important to you?" Snape asked.
The boy's expression grew shuttered. "I'm not my father," he said in a hoarse whisper. "And I don't want to be anything like him if that's the way he treated people."
Snape sighed. "I'll be right back," he said. He stepped into the loo, did his business, and grabbed the remaining pain potion.
"Drink this," he said, handing it to the boy. "Covey will be joining us for breakfast, and she can heal your wrist when she gets here."
Potter looked at him curiously. "You aren't going to punish me, sir?"
"For your complete lack of common sense?" Snape asked rhetorically. "Tell me" Snape said, pinching the bridge of his nose, "would it change anything if I did?"
The boy smiled. "Probably not."
"As I thought. Now, pick up your things and go to your room. I'll wake you for breakfast when Covey arrives."
Potter stood there, looking dumbfounded.
"Is there a problem?" Snape asked.
"Er, no sir. Thanks for the potion. And, er, for hearing me out."
"Of course," Snape said, waving the insufferable boy away. "Now go."
Snape shook his head and walked to the kitchen. He really needed coffee now.