Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

A special thanks to The Lonely God With a Box for beta'ing my story.

A/N: Enjoy!

Chapter Five: The Next Morning

Albus, Minerva and Quirrell rushed to the corridor. Severus was still holding Harry in his arms. Minerva gasped when she saw the troll lying on the floor.

"What happened?" Albus asked. His voice was hard. His usual grandfatherly tone was not there.

"I was leaving the third floor," Severus said, "when the portraits alerted me that a student was in danger."

Minerva and Quirrell walked closer to the dead troll. The troll's chest looked like it was ripped to shreds. Minerva turned back to where Albus was talking with Severus. Through all the commotion, she noticed that Severus was still holding Harry in his arms. Minerva saw Harry's broken glasses on the floor. Picking them up, she walked over to them in an attempt to help Harry.

"Severus," Minerva said, cutting the two wizards' conversation. "I'll take Potter to the Infirmary, so you can deal with this unencumbered."

Severus honestly forgot that he was still holding Potter in his arms. Hearing Minerva speak of the boy, looking down, he realized that the child had his arms tightly wrapped around his waist. His face buried in his robes, and his shoulders shaking.

"Yes," Severus said. "Take him. He needs tending to after this ordeal."

Minerva walked over to Severus and Harry and placed her hand on the child's shoulders. With the flick of his wrist, Severus retuned his wand back into its holster. The two Professors tried to remove Potter from Severus. It wouldn't work.

Minerva spoke soothingly to Harry saying, "Let's go to the Infirmary, Mr. Potter. Let Madam Pomfrey check you out," rubbing comforting circles on Harry's back.

Harry shook his head. He didn't want to leave the safety of the dark robe that surrounded him. Harry had never felt this safe before. Hearing that someone wanted to take him away from this comfort wasn't happening.

"No," Harry said. His voice mumbled by Severus' robes.

"Mr. Potter," Severus said, sternly. "Stop with these theatrics. Go with your Head of House and get checked out."

"No," Harry said. It came out louder as the boy screamed. The boy's arms tightening around the Potion Master's waist.

Albus interjected, "Severus, why don't you take Harry to the Infirmary. Obviously, he doesn't want to let go of you just yet. We'll talk later."

Severus didn't like that idea. He could see it in those old geezers' faces. They were going to make fun of him about this. They had been wanting to see Severus eat his words, which he was not prepared to do. Yes, from the past few weeks, Severus figured that Harry's life wasn't as lavish as he once thought. But having to admit it to two sentimental fools wasn't on his list.

When Severus took a step back, Harry squeezed tighter and refused to be moved. Severus leaned down until he was by the boy's ear.

"Mr. Potter," Severus said in a soft voice. "I will escort you to the Infirmary since you refuse to release me. Why you feel that you must attach yourself to me like a spider monkey I'll never know." The last part said to himself as he straightened back up.

Harry murmured something that only Severus heard. Since he was gifted at controlling his emotions and facial expressions, he did not show any reaction. After a moment, Severus escorted Harry to the Infirmary.

"Professor Quirrell, why don't you dispose of this troll," Albus ordered.

Quirrell was distracted with the troll's lifeless body that he didn't hear the Headmaster calling him.

"S…sorry, Headmaster," Quirrell stuttered.

"Deal with the troll, my boy," Albus said. "Then come to my chambers."

Quirrell timidly nodded his understanding as Albus and Minerva left the corridor. When he was alone, Quirrell snarled looking down at the troll.

_000_000_000

When Severus and Harry started walking, Harry let go of Severus' robes so he could see where he was going. Well, almost. Harry still had a tight grip on Severus' robe and frock coat. The two of them were silent during their trek.

Severus had his mind on what Harry said. "You're safe." Severus knew he was the only one that heard it, as Minerva nor Albus took notice.

Harry was so scared. When he saw that huge troll swing the club at him, Harry knew he was about to die. The troll missed the first swing, but Harry tripped on his cloak, and with how he landed, that thing wasn't going to miss a second time. He curled into a tight ball, like he did when Uncle Vernon was angry and hit him, hoping that the pain wouldn't be too bad.

Harry heard words being said but didn't understand them. He waited and waited but the pain never came. He hazarded a glance to see what happened and saw that there was nothing standing above him. He looked around and saw who saved him. Without thinking, Harry rushed over to his savior and wrapped his arms around him. He had never hugged anyone before, nor had anyone ever hugged him. But when he felt those two arms wrap tightly around him, Harry knew he was safe.

Growing up, he heard the word "safe" when he was in school. He never truly understood what it meant. He read it in the dictionary. But it was like a foreign concept to the boy. When he felt those comforting arms wrapped around him and a soothing voice validating that he was safe, Harry didn't want to lose that.

_000_000_000

Snape and Potter walked into the Infirmary.

"Madam Pomfrey," Severus called out.

Poppy came out of her office. She was shocked at what she saw. Harry was attached to Severus' side, gripping the Potions Master's clothing. There was blood at the corner of Harry's mouth, his clothes dirty and ripped in places.

"Severus," Poppy said. "What happened?"

"It seems Mr. Potter decided to take it upon himself to not follow the rules," Severus sneered.

Poppy looked at the two wizards standing in front of her.

"Come, Mr. Potter," Poppy said. "Let's get you to right."

Harry turned his head into Severus' side.

"Mr. Potter," Severus tried to extract the boy from his side. "This is unnecessary. Enough of these theatrics."

Poppy walked over towards Harry and put her hand on the boy's head. The child jumped and pressed his forehead more into Severus' side.

"Mr. Potter," Severus grunted.

"Severus," Poppy said, cutting Severus off. "The child is in shock. I'm going to need you to stay here. I don't want to stress Harry out more than he already is."

Severus sighed, absently rubbing his hand on Harry's back. "Come, Potter, let's get you checked out."

_000_000_000

Albus and Minerva walked into the Infirmary and was met by an unexpected sight. Albus eyes twinkled. Minerva had a knowing smirk on her face.

Severus was sitting in one of the chairs that was transfigured into a leather winged chair like the ones in his chambers. He's arms were wrapped around the small child, slowly rubbing the child's back.

Harry was in a set of Infirmary pajamas. But, instead of being on one of the cots, he was on Severus' lap, laying against the man's chest. His head tucked under Severus' chin. One of Harry's hands was gripping Severus' clothes, while the other was snuggled against his chest.

"Well," Minerva said, trying to swallow her laughter. "What is going on here?"

Severus didn't reply; he just glared at the Gryffindor Head of House.

"My boy, why don't you put young Harry down?" Albus asked.

"That sounds like a remarkable idea, Headmaster," Severus snarled. "Unfortunately, the little imp won't let go of me—will you stop laughing?"

"Hush now, Severus," Minerva chuckled. "You don't want to wake him up."

She walked over to where he was sitting. Minerva had Harry's, now fixed, glasses, and she put them on the side table. Before she stepped away, she combed her fingers in Harry's hair.

"Yes, I do." Severus snapped.

Minerva smirked at Severus. Yes, Severus was currently stuck with Harry, but he wasn't exerting a great deal of effort to remove the child from his person.

"Now, now," Albus admonished lightly. "Severus, there's no need to be harsh. I think it is wonderful how you are caring for Harry."

"Leave me alone," Severus bit out.

"I'm sorry, Severus," Minerva said. "I just didn't think you cared about Harry."

Minerva walked back towards Albus.

"Will you two get out of here?" Severus snapped.

"We'll leave," Albus said, raising his hands in surrender. "We'll talk in the morning. Good night, Severus."

"Yeah, yeah," Severus sighed.

Severus was once again alone in the Infirmary. He looked down at the small child laying on him.

"What are you doing to me, Potter?" Severus asked, quietly.

Harry nuzzled against Severus and relaxed with a deep sigh.

_000_000_000

Severus, sitting with the small child on his lap, debated with himself as to what happened a few hours ago. He went over and over what he has witnessed from this child since the beginning of the school term. Severus felt Harry nuzzle against him again. The child's hand gripped his coat tighter.

Severus looked at the child. He had never felt fear like he had tonight. It was not Potter's son that was curled up on the floor, nor was he Lily's. He was a fragile boy. The look in the boy's eyes when he saw him was utter appreciation.

He didn't even know why he felt he had to reassure the child.

Harry stretched again as if he was trying to get more comfortable. In the process, he let go of Severus' clothes.

Severus now had a reason to rid himself of the miscreant. But he found himself still watching the child.

Severus shook his head, snapping out those sentimental feelings. He didn't like children. He couldn't stand teaching them, but he didn't have a choice. He would not start having feelings for this particular boy. Carefully, Severus tightened his hold on Harry, sliding from the chair to the cot in front of him. He lowered the boy turning Harry on his side. After covering the child, Severus got up and left the Infirmary.

_000_000_000

After leaving the Infirmary, Severus went to the Headmaster's office to talk. After enduring sentimental quips from the old coot, Severus assured Albus that the room had not been tampered with. Severus, then, excused himself as it has been a long day and even longer night.

The next morning, Severus was more tired when he got up than when he laid down the night before. So many things had happened that puzzled Severus. He could hardly sleep thinking about the small imp that clung to him like a spider monkey.

There were too many questions that needed answering. The mantra of derisive comments he heard Potter saying. The apology Potter gave him during class. Finally, the fact that he would not release him. After taking care of his morning ablutions, Severus decided he needed to have a serious talk with Mr. Potter.

_000_000_000

Harry woke up and immediately realized that he wasn't in his dorm. It didn't have the same feel. It was soft, but not the same. When he opened his eye, Harry saw the shape of his glasses on the side table. Looking around, he saw he was in the Infirmary again. He started panicking. He didn't want them to find out. They couldn't find out.

Realizing that he was alone, as quietly as he could, Harry got off the cot, grabbed his clothes and quickly changed. He had done well avoiding coming to the Infirmary. Harry was determined not to get checked.

The child straightened the bed and with the practice of sneaking around his relatives, he left the Infirmary. Once he was out of the door, looking down the corridor, the coast was clear. Harry ran in the direction towards Gryffindor tower.

_000_000_000

Walking into the Infirmary, Severus closed his eyes.

This child was a mystery wrapped up in an enigma, Severus thought.

The Potions Master knocked on Poppy's office door and opened it after he was granted entrance.

"Good Morning, Severus," Poppy said, straightening items around her office. "You're up here early. I was just about to run a diagnostic scan on Harry now that I have him here."

"Good Morning," Severus replied. "I came to inquire about your patient, but I see he's escaped you."

"What are you talking about, Severus?" Poppy asked. "Harry is lying on the cot?"

Severus' only reaction was raising an eyebrow.

Poppy exited her office with Severus following her.

"You've got to be kidding," Poppy exclaimed. "Severus, that boy worries me. I thought now that I had him, I could see what he's hiding."

Severus walked out of the Infirmary. He knew he needed to talk to Mr. Harry Potter soon.

_000_000_000

Harry crawled into the Common room and was met with a lot of talking from his fellow Gryffindors. Ron and Hermione were sitting on the sofa in front of the fireplace.

"Harry," Ron called out.

"Hey, Ron, Hemione," Harry said, walking over to the sofa.

"Where you been?" Ron asked.

"We haven't seen you since yesterday," Hermione said.

"Around," Harry shrugged.

"Well, it's about time for breakfast," Ron said, getting up. "Let's head to the Great Hall."

"You go ahead," Harry said. "I want to get something. I'll meet you down there."

"Sure."

Ron and Hermione walked out of the portrait, and Harry went towards the dormitories. The boy was happy that there was no one in his dorm. He rushed, gathered a new set of clothes, and went to the shower.

_000_000_000

The corridors were much nosier than it was when he left the Infirmary. Harry knew that he would probably hear about him leaving the Infirmary. The child was determined that he would not have a check-up. Harry had friends here. He didn't want people knowing he was a freak. The child just knew he had to be extra careful and kept his eyes opened.

Harry felt a little proud that he made it to the Great Hall without running into Madam Pomfrey. He put his hand on the door to open it.

"Mr. Potter."

Harry froze. No no no no no, Harry thought. Anybody but him.

"Mr. Potter," Severus said again. Harry turned around and saw Professor Snape standing behind him. "Follow me."

Severus turned and headed towards the stairs. Harry debated moving. He could go into the Great Hall and ignore Professor Snape's command, or he could…

"Do not test me, Mr. Potter," Severus said.

Harry looked up and saw that Snape was waiting by the stairs. Harry sighed and followed his Professor. Severus didn't move until Harry was in reaching distance. Harry lowered his head as he followed Snape. He just knew that Professor Snape was taking him back to the Infirmary. He tried to think of a way to get out of them finding out.

Harry felt a hand on his shoulder bringing out of his musing. When he looked up, he saw that they were in front of Professor Snape's office.

"Inside, Potter," Snape ordered.

Harry slid past Snape and stood in the middle of his office. Severus closed the door and walked behind his desk and sat down. He waved his hand and the chair that was in the corner of the room moved to the front of Severus' desk.

Harry looked at the chair and took a small step back. He knew that was the chair Professor Snape sat in when he was punished.

"Sit, Potter," Snape said.

Harry slowly moved to the chair and sat down. Harry gripped his robe, twisting the cloth around his fingers.

"How are you feeling, Potter?"

Harry's head shot up and looked at his Professor. Of all the things he thought they were going to talk about, asking how he felt was not one of them.

"Uh, fine sir," Harry said meekly.

Severus picked up a small piece of parchment from his desk and held it so Harry could see. Harry curled more into his chair tightening his robe more around his fingers. He didn't want to know that he did something wrong.

"From your reaction," Severus stated, "you know what I am holding."

"Yes, sir."

"There are two words written on this piece of parchment," Severus stated. "Care to tell me the meaning behind these two words?"

Harry opened his mouth as if he would answer but quickly shut it. He tried several more times, and each time he couldn't bring himself to speak.

"Mr. Potter," Severus sighed. "I would like to have breakfast some time soon. Please answer my question."

Harry opened his mouth again. This time he spoke.

"You were mad at me. I didn't mean to make you mad."

Severus' brows furrowed.

"When was I angry with you?" Severus asked.

Harry twisted his robe tighter and tighter around his fingers, trying to cover up his fear.

"I wanted to share with you that something exciting happened. I thought because you stayed with me, or well, let me stay. You didn't just throw me out. You helped…. No one—" Harry stopped abruptly, biting his bottom lip. He couldn't share that.

"Come to me," Severus said.

Harry's eyes got wide. He was about to be punished again? He didn't do anything. Well, he did sneak out of the Infirmary, but he wasn't going against the rules. Was he?

"Stop that," Severus said sternly. "Come here."

Harry jerked at the abruptness and carefully stood up. The boy took a deep breath and walked to the other side of the desk.

Severus looked at the boy in front of him. He reached out and grabbed Harry's hand. Slowly and gently, Severus pulled Harry's bottom lip, so the child wouldn't bite it. He then unraveled Harry's fingers from the confines of his robes.

Severus tsked when he saw that Harry caused his lips to bleed a little. Silently, Severus grabbed the same balm he used after Harry was punished and applied it to the child's lip. Closing the jar, Severus sat back in his chair and looked at the child before him.

"Why did you leave the Infirmary, Mr. Potter?"

"I'm fine," Harry said softly.

"I didn't ask you how you felt," Severus spoke. "I asked you why you left."

"I didn't need to be there," Harry said quickly. "I needed to get ready for classes."

"Did Madam Pomfrey release you?" Severus asked.

"No, sir," Harry sighed.

"Then why did you leave?" Severus asked again. "You were not to leave until Madam Pomfrey released you. Yet you ran. What are you hiding?"

"I'm not hiding nothing," Harry hollered.

"You will watch your tone with me," Severus said, sternly. "It is not so early that I will not put you over my knee."

Harry's shoulders sagged. He didn't want to answer these questions. No one was to know. He glanced over to the door, wondering if he could make it. Usually, Harry was able to get away from Uncle Vernon even if he was standing in front of the big man. Maybe he could make it with his Professor.

"Potter," Severus exclaimed, bringing the child out of his musing. "Will you pay attention?"

"Sorry," Harry mumbled.

"Answer my question," Severus ordered.

Harry looked at the door back to the Professor.

"And if you're thinking about running," Severus stated, "I've already locked the door. You are not running from this. You are going to tell me why you left the Infirmary. Better yet, why have you been avoiding the Infirmary?"

"I've not been avoiding it," Harry said.

"I beg to differ, Potter. Madam Pomfrey has already informed me she's been trying to get you in so she could run a full check-up on you."

"There's nothing wrong with me," Harry insisted, glancing at the door.

"Mr. Potter," Severus said, silkily. "If you are planning on running from me, you might find it a little bit difficult."

"I'm not running," Harry said.

"No?" Severus challenged. "Then come with me."

Severus stood up. Harry paled.

"To where?" Harry squeaked, trying to get his voice steady.

"You're not running or avoiding the Infirmary," Severus said, grasping Harry's shoulder. "You're brave enough to be cheeky with me now. We're going to the Infirmary."

Harry was allowing himself to be moved, but once it came that they were going back to the Infirmary, he stopped. Severus looked down at the boy.

"Mr. Potter, enough of these games." Severus turned the child so that they were facing each other. "What is your issue about going to the Infirmary?"

Harry didn't want to go. He couldn't go. He wasn't allowed to go. They would learn the truth. And all of this will end.

Instantly, Harry's bottom lip was between his teeth, and his hands were twirling in his robe. Severus could see true fright in the boy's eyes. He knelt in front of Harry and once again pulled the child's lip from his teeth and opened the boy's hands.

"Last night," Severus said softly. "What did you say was the reason you didn't want to let me go?"

"You're safe," Harry whispered.

"You feel that I'm safe," Severus repeated. "Then why don't you want to get checked out?"

Harry lowered his head and said nothing.

Severus sighed and stood up. "Well, I can't make you," walking back to his desk, sitting down.

Harry looked up startled at the change of behavior Professor Snape was showing.

"You don't want to confide as to why you are avoiding the Infirmary, I won't force you." Severus picked up the small piece of parchment that started the whole conversation. He crumpled it in his hand, tossing it aside. Severus sat down, gathered some ungraded homework, ignoring the small boy.

Harry watched as Snape crumpled his apology note and felt something break inside of him. The tears he was trying to hide flowed down his cheeks. He really was a freak. Nothing he did was right. He truly thought he had someone that cared. Professor Snape saved him yesterday. Professor Snape hugged him.

The boy wanted to scream that he was sorry. He wanted to explain why. Anything that would bring back the safety he felt last night.

Click.

The sound of the door unlatching brought Harry out of his musing. He looked back at the Professor hoping for one more look, but Snape never lifted his head. Slowly, Harry walked out of the office softly closing the door behind him.

TBC

A/N: A special thanks to everyone who reviewed, followed and favored my story.

Please leave a review letting me know what you think.

Many hugs and kisses to you all!

Mandancie