Disclaimer: Alas, very little of this is unique.  The characters and the world they inhabit are the creations of J.K. Rowling, as I'm sure you all know.  The song quoted at the beginning of the chapter is owned (and performed) by Jars of Clay.  Finally, many pieces of the plot were subconsciously (or consciously) influenced by the many "Snape rescues Harry" "Harry is abused" and other fics of this general type.  If there is at any point something in particular I can cite, I will do so.

Summary: Snape is acting strangely toward Harry after he retrieves him from Privet Drive.  Why is he suddenly visiting Harry in the hospital wing constantly?

Rating: PG-13 to be safe.  Some child abuse mentioned, but not overly explicit.

Warnings: Spoilers up to and including OOTP.

Author's Notes:  By popular demand, I am posting this as its own fic.  I had originally inserted this chapter as a preview in my other story, Lies, to replace my review responses chapter when they were outlawed.  I will warn you that since I find this less original than Lies, it will probably be updated far less frequently.  That having been said, on with the chapter, and I hope you enjoy!


you sit and stare out at the sky
and think of ways to fake a smile
but life is never what it seems
sometimes it only takes a while

i'm in the way of fallin' down
i won't let you go that far now
i'm in the way of fallin' down
i won't let you go that far now

i won't let you go

you think that hope was left behind
i picked it up a mile ago
i am running close behind
so don't give up and don't let go

-- Jars of Clay

It was a beautiful Saturday on Privet Drive, and in fact in all of Little Whinging.  The sun was out, and a light breeze perfectly counterbalanced the heat that it put off.  Perhaps it was the perfection of the day that emphasized the abnormality of the neighborhood.  No one sat on their porches drinking lemonade, and no children played in the street.  A few people could be seen mowing lawns or weeding their perfectly maintained yards, but otherwise no one could be found outside.

What was even more abnormal, however, was that a boy of almost sixteen who was always expected to handle all the household chores was instead lying supine on his lumpy mattress in his tiny bedroom on the second floor of number 4, Privet Drive.  Not surprisingly, his monster of an uncle was just outside his door, screaming at him as he undid the multiple padlocks on the outside of his door.

"Boy!  What are you doing in there?  You had better be ready to get going on your chores; you've already slept half the day away!"

Harry Potter gently hugged his arm to his chest and bit back a moan.  Why couldn't he have a normal holiday, with a family that loved him and wanted him alive and well, rather than dead or, if that was not possible, badly injured?  He heard the last padlock slip open and dragged himself slowly to a sitting position with a grimace.  He was glad that he didn't have a mirror for once, as he didn't want to see what he looked like.  It had been five days since anyone from the Order had checked in on him, and Hedwig had disappeared before his uncle had boarded up his window, and begun to take out his aggressions upon his nephew.

Still, part of Harry felt that he deserved how he was being treated.  He had gotten his godfather killed, his only hope of ever escaping this horrible house disappearing in an instant.  All because of a "saving people thing".  That, and his miserable progress (or lack thereof) on occlumency, not assisted by the fact that his worst enemy of a professor had been the teacher.  It had been all too easy for Voldemort to trick Harry into doing exactly what he wanted, and it was only by pure luck that Sirius was the only one to lose his life.

Sirius.  Harry's heart ached at the thought of him.  He pushed his godfather out of his mind and focused on his uncle's furious face.  If he didn't pay attention now, he would only get more hurt.

"So, boy, how does it feel to get what you deserve?"  Harry remained mute at this.  Who was he to argue?  "Are you ready to do your chores, or should I teach you another lesson in obedience?  I will beat the… freakiness… out of you yet!"

Harry idly wondered if that was possible.  Could he have the magic beaten out of him?  What would happen to the wizarding world then?  The prophecy said that he was the only one who could beat Voldemort, that he *had* to be the one to do it.  Perhaps he should take boxing lessons from his grossly overweight cousin, Dudley?  A corner of his mouth quirked up at the idea of beating the scourge of the wizarding world with a few punches.

He saw the expression change on his uncle's face and knew that he had made a mistake.  As his uncle's large form loomed in over him, he screamed, "Oh, you think this is funny?  I'll teach you to laugh at me!"  With that, he raised his arm over his head, and Harry melted back toward the wall, anticipating the pain that was coming.

Instead, he heard a loud popping sound from below.  It sounded like someone apparating!  Sure enough, a moment later he could hear a male voice.  Unfortunately, he could neither recognize nor understand the person, but when his aunt responded her high-pitched voice carried up the stairwell and through the door to his room which still hung ajar.

"Oh no, Harry's not here at the moment.  He took a walk, down to the park I think."  His aunt seemed to have succeeded in not sounding nervous as she uttered the lie, and Harry felt his heart drop.  So much for being saved.  He looked up to his uncle, his arm still frozen over his head, and saw the malicious glint in his eyes right before he swung it toward Harry.

Despite having grown several inches in the time since the end of the last term, if anything Harry had lost weight.  He had no idea what they were feeding Dudley, as he was generally either locked outside to do chores or in his room, but he knew that they were feeding him next to nothing.  This made him that much easier for his uncle to throw around, and the big man apparently found it quite entertaining.  Harry felt the fist impact with his shoulder, feeling something give, and then he was thrown against the wall by the force of it, his head smacking against the wall with a loud crack.

Already Harry felt himself slipping away.  He felt several more punches impact several parts of his body, and then he was thrown to the hard floor.  The loose floorboard jabbed into his back painfully, but he barely noticed it.  He was too busy twisting, trying to protect his arm and the several ribs that he suspected were broken.

Unfortunately, this only encouraged his uncle to attack those parts of his body more aggressively.  He heard several ribs snap, and wondered at the lack of pain.  It seemed that his entire body had gone numb.  The next moment, he felt a flash of some of the most intense pain he had ever experienced as his uncle's boot made contact with his already broken arm, and that was the last he knew.

*  *  *

"Potter, wake up!  Now, Potter, I don't have all day!"  Harry could hear a harsh voice demanding that he wake.  Why was he asleep?  And why was it so hard to wake?  Suddenly, with a rush, the pain and the memories returned to him.  Immediately he snapped his eyes open and began backing away from the blur in front of him, knowing that his uncle would kill him if he didn't do something, and now.

"Fell down the stairs, did you?" the sarcastic voice continued.  "The least these despicable muggles could do is come up with a good excuse."  Harry didn't hear words, just the hostile tone of the voice.  With a cry of pain and fear he finished backing himself into a corner, ignoring the incredible pain that radiated from nearly every part of his body.

"Leave me alone, please!" he cried, wondering if this was it.  "I'll do the chores, please, just don't hit me!"

The tone changed suddenly.  "Potter?  Can you hear me?" the voice sounded concerned now.  He wished his head would clear enough for him to make sense of the words that the blob in front of him was uttering.  He didn't think he could ever remember his uncle using such a worried tone with him; he must be close to death.

"Please, don't, I have to… I have to…" He couldn't get the words out, to utter what he knew he had to do, what he couldn't do if he were dead, even though death seemed such an appealing option at the moment.  This time the voice did not reply, but a moment later he felt a hand on his arm, the bad arm.  He screamed and pulled it back, protecting it from whatever new game this was that his uncle had decided to play.

"This is not good… I can't do anything.  I'll need to get him to Pomfrey," the voice muttered to itself.  Then it spoke louder.  "Hang on, Potter… I'll be right back."  He heard the voice mutter something else, and then the door slammed shut.  A moment later he heard a loud pop.

A heavy silence fell over the room.  Harry breathed a sigh of relief.  He was okay, he wasn't dead yet.  His brain, numbed by pain, struggled to think of a way to get out of this situation.  He might deserve beatings, but if he was dead no one would live to fight… he decided not to finish that sentence.  He crawled painfully back to his bed, until he was over the loose floorboard.  He let go of his bad arm, using his good hand to pry open his secret hiding place.  When his fingers closed over smooth wood, he smiled—though it was really more of a grimace—in relief.  His uncle wouldn't dare come near him when he had his wand in hand.  At least, he hoped he wouldn't.

Another pop sounded, and this one almost seemed louder.  Harry realized that he had been slipping back into the fog that seemed to fill his mind, and tried to claw his way back to the surface, to full consciousness.  The blur that had appeared in his room approached him, and he brandished his wand, hoping to halt his advance.

"Oh, now you're going to attack your rescuer?"  The voice chuckled, causing Harry to grip his wand tighter.  He would not be anyone's amusement anymore.  Before he could react, though, a hand had reached down and pried the wand from his own.  Choking back a sob at his return to defenselessness, he tried to back away further but he was against the wall.  A moment later he felt something smooth and hard being shoved into his hand, and then he felt a tug behind his navel and spun out of control.

The room where he landed when the spinning had ended was brighter than his own, Harry could tell that much.  He couldn't see much else without his glasses, except that the blur that had been laughing at him earlier was still with him.  He shied away from the hands that reached down to him, but they took a firm grasp of him and lifted him up, before setting him down on a slightly softer surface, raised off the ground.  A bed?

"Pomfrey!"  The voice of the blur yelled loudly, and he flinched away.  The blur held him steady, however, so that he did not fall off the edge of the bed.  "Get in here, now!"

"What is wro—oh!"  He could hear a female voice now.  He felt himself relax slightly; his uncle never beat him in front of his aunt.  "Severus, what happened?"  The new blur moved closer, and then he heard her gasp.  "Is that—Harry?"

Once again he flinched, not wanting anyone's attention.  "Just—Just leave me alone, please?" he begged.

*  *  *

When she saw the frail and battered form on the bed resolve into that of Harry Potter, Poppy couldn't hold in a gasp.  He was painfully thin, emaciated to tell the truth, and every exposed part of his body was covered in bruises.  From even a glance, she thought she recognized the symptoms, and when she saw the boy flinch away from her as she spoke his name, she was even more certain, but she needed to confirm her suspicions with Snape, who had brought him in.

"I thought he was supposed to be safe at home?"

The potions master and professor tore his glance away from the shaking boy on the hospital bed, and Poppy was surprised to see a bit of concern on his face before he smoothed it out into its usual expressionlessness.  "As did I.  Apparently his relatives were not willing to cooperate."

She felt anger pass through her, directed towards anyone who could do this to an innocent child.  And Harry of all people—he certainly didn't need this!  "Well, I'll see what I can do.  You should call Albus."  The potions master nodded, and she turned back to her patient.  He was shaking, and she knew that he must be going into shock.  The first thing was to get him calmed down, and then she could begin to heal his many injuries.  She quickly retrieved the appropriate potion and then moved back to her patient's bedside.  "Harry, I—"  She paused when he flinched again.  "I need you to drink this, Harry."  She pushed the goblet towards his hands, but even the good one did not close around the cup.  She sighed.  "I'll hold it to your lips and you can drink it that way," she decided.  However, when she held it to his lips, he refused to swallow, spitting the little bit that he got in his mouth out immediately.

The medi-witch turned around at the sound of approaching footsteps and saw both Snape and the headmaster.  "I'm going to need some help—he's refusing to drink the potion."  She directed this comment primarily to Severus, as the younger man would be more capable of assisting her.  As she stepped out of the way to let him by, she heard a gasp from the newly-arrived headmaster.  She pursed her lips but didn't look him in the eye or vocalize a response.

Meanwhile, Severus was now next to the boy, who was sitting up but whose glazed eyes didn't appear to be seeing anything in particular.  He was rocking slightly and hugging his injured arm to himself.  Severus began to speak, more softly than Madam Pomfrey had ever heard from him.  "Come now, Potter… surely you don't want to continue to be in pain."  He lifted the potion, then began to speak again.  "Just drink this potion…"  He held out the goblet, and then put his hand gently on Harry's shoulder to stop his rocking.

Everyone in the room jumped when Harry cried out and jerked away from Snape's hand.  After a slight hesitation, Snape reached out again and took a firmer grasp on the boy's shoulder, ignoring his cry.  He looked across the bed to Poppy, who was standing on the other side.  "I don't think he's going to drink this voluntarily.  I can hold him still if you'll pour it down his throat."  The medi-witch nodded.  The potions master removed his hand from the boy's shoulder and reached up to open Harry's mouth and tilt his head back.  He struggled briefly but was clearly too exhausted to put up much of a fight.  A moment later Pomfrey was pouring the potion down his throat.  They heard him gag at first as he tried to reject the thick liquid, but it was an abortive attempt and he quickly began to swallow in order to clear his throat so that he could breath again.  When Snape released him, he gasped for breath, still shaking slightly.

The three adults sighed in relief as they saw his muscles begin to relax and his eyes begin to droop to cover his glazed eyes.  The shaking slowly ceased, and the medi-witch and potions master were able to ease him onto his back.  After this Madame Pomfrey set to work healing his many injuries, and Snape turned to face the headmaster.

The headmaster, who recently had begun reflect more and more his old age, slowly pulled his eyes from the sight of his battered student and focused instead on Snape.  "Severus… what happened?" he choked out.

"I went to check on him, as you asked.  I met Petunia," he spat this name out, as there was no love lost between him and the magic-phobic muggle, "downstairs and she told me that Harry had taken a walk and she thought he was at the park.  I went looking and eventually came back, ignoring their excuses and going upstairs.  At first I checked the other rooms, but then I realized that the door with all the padlocks must be his.  I unlocked it and went in, and found him, like this."  He gestured to the boy, who appeared calm now at least.  Poppy was still working hard to heal him.  "Petunia had followed me upstairs and told me that he had fallen down the stairs, but it was obvious that even she was surprised at how bad he looked.  When I woke him, he—"  Snape paused for a moment, and anyone who did not assume him to be heartless would guess that he was trying to collect his emotions.  "He begged me not to hurt him.  I came back to get a portkey that I keep to get to the hospital wing quickly, and returned.  When I got back, he had retrieved his wand and was pointing it at me.  It was obvious that he couldn't even see straight, though, so I just took it out of his hands," at this he pulled said wand from his pocket, handing it to Dumbledore.  "And then I put the portkey in his hand and we came here."

Dumbledore in turn looked back toward the still boy on the hospital bed.  More to himself than to Severus, he murmured, "How could I have imagined he was safe?"  He moved closer to Madame Pomfrey, then asked in a hesitant tone that was completely out of character for the confident headmaster, "Poppy, can you tell—was this the first time?"

The medi-witch looked up from her work, making eye contact with the older man.  She shook her head.  "I'm sorry Albus, but there appear to be at least some injuries that aren't new.  There is a break in his arm, for instance, that had partially set."

"What are the injuries?" Severus asked, knowing that the headmaster would find it hard to speak.

"Well, his arm is broken in three places, and as I said, at least one of those breaks is not new.  Five broken ribs, and he was incredibly fortunate that none of him pierced his lungs or any internal organs.  He definitely has a concussion, with several major injuries to his head.  I don't think there is any damage to his brain, but…"  She paused, then continued, "If I didn't know better, I would guess that he had been attacked by a swarm of bludgers.  It is a testament to his stubbornness and pain tolerance that he was still moving."

The hospital ward fell silent as each of its occupants considered the boy who had fallen into a light sleep, lost in their own thoughts.

*  *  *

As Harry awoke, the first thing that he wondered was why his room was so bright.  He could see the light through his closed eyelids.  The next thing he wondered was why his bed was so much smoother than usual.  He was used to the lumpy old mattress that Dudley had abandoned for another over ten years ago.  The next thought that crossed his mind caused his eyes to snap open, and he attempted to sit up in bed—only to discover that he didn't seem capable of moving.

"What—" he began, or rather, tried to.  All that he heard was a low moan.  He felt a shiver of panic that seemed to run through the inside of him as he realized how helpless he was.  Let me go! he thought to himself, and would have screamed it if he could.  A moment later, he felt a hand on his shoulder, and then saw the face of someone lean over him.

It was—but it couldn't be, could it?  He could have sworn that it was Madame Pomfrey leaning over him, and now that he moved his eyes around a bit he saw familiar signs of the hospital wing at Hogwarts.  But he couldn't be there, it was summer!

"Ah, Mr. Potter, I see you have awakened.  Just a moment, I believe the headmaster wishes to speak with you."

Harry heard a high pitched whine emerge from his throat as he tried to cry out.  She couldn't just leave him there, trapped!  He felt a hand rest on his shoulder for a moment, and her voice was comforting as she told him, "I'll be right back, don't worry.  You're safe here."  He heard the swish of her robes as she walked away and felt another shiver of fear run through him.

Two sets of footsteps returned.  He heard the two people consulting in whispers, just out of his hearing range.  Finally, Madame Pomfrey moved to within his sight and muttered something.  He felt warmth rush suddenly through his head and neck, and found that he could now turn his head side to side.  The rest of his body remained immobile, however.  He turned quickly so that he could see both the medi-witch and the headmaster, and then demanded, "Let me go!"  He was surprised to hear much more panic than demand in his voice.

The kindly headmaster was the one to respond.  "Harry, you've been through quite an ordeal.  We need to give your body its best chance to heal."  He frowned sadly.  "Can you tell me who hit you, Harry?"

Harry turned his head away, looking out the windows on the far wall.  He was surprised at the variety of emotions running through him.  It wasn't that he wanted to protect his uncle, but how could he explain that he deserved what he had gotten?  He knew instinctively that Dumbledore would not believe him, would try to convince him that he was wrong, and a feeling of shame flooded through him.  He did deserve it.  He had gotten Sirius, his only remaining family, killed in a moment of stupidity.

He felt a gentle but firm hand grasp his chin and slowly turn it back, until he was looking into the headmaster's deadly serious eyes.  There was no sign of the twinkle of humor that he almost always saw there.  If anything, there was a great depth of sadness.  "This isn't your fault, Harry," Dumbledore told him softly.

Harry felt tears well up in his eyes.  He knew that Dumbledore wouldn't understand.  "I can't… You don't…"

"What, Harry?  Talk to me, please…"

Harry tore his chin from the headmaster's grasp and turned his head away, refusing to speak.  What could he say, after all?

"This is all my fault," he heard Professor Dumbledore whisper.  Harry turned his head back quickly, eyes wide in disbelief.  How could the headmaster think that this was his fault?  "If I hadn't sent you back there, summer after summer…"

Harry's lips were open, shaping themselves into different words that his vocal cords didn't appear to be willing to vocalize.  Finally, he regained his voice.  "It's not… I deserved what I got."  This time it was the headmaster's turn to widen his eyes in disbelief.

But though he opened his mouth to reply, a smooth voice spoke instead.  "I believe you are both blaming yourselves unnecessarily.  This is no one's fault but that idiot Vernon Dursley."

Harry turned to look in the direction of the voice and was shocked to see that it was Professor Snape.  But, Snape wasn't civil with him… Once again he found himself without words, staring into the face that was strangely lacking in the usual hatred.

"That is who hit you, is it not?" Professor Snape continued.  Harry's surprise had swept all his words away, and he simply nodded numbly.  "Well, now that we've worked that out… I need to speak with you, Albus, and I believe he," Snape nodded toward Harry, "needs some more sleep."  Harry followed his gaze to where he could now see Madame Pomfrey.  She was carrying a potion in her hand.

Harry felt something clench up inside of him.  "No, please, I'm not ready to sleep yet… Can't you let me free, please?" the words slipped out of his mouth quickly, revealing the panic that was quickly building up inside of him.  He wanted—needed—to move.

Snape got a strange expression on his face, a wince as if he was remembering some pain.  He shook his head.  "I don't think that's a good idea."

Now the medi-witch had arrived at his bedside with the potion.  "Now, Harry, I'm going to lift your head up and pour the potion into your mouth.  You just need to swallow, alright?"

He shook his head quickly.  "No, please… no…"  He could see that his words were having no effect on the woman.  He felt as though everything was spinning out of control.  His heart beat faster still, and he gave a choking gasp of fear.  Some distant part of his brain recognized that this reaction was not proportionate to the circumstances, but his fear-ridden mind was not listening.  "Let me go, please!"

Then he felt firm hands that did not belong to Madam Pomfrey lifting his head up and opening his mouth, despite his struggle.  "Okay, Harry, get ready to swallow… if you cooperate this will be much more pleasant," said the woman as she lifted the goblet to his lips and began to pour.  He tried to reject it, but just found himself choking painfully, and the potion just kept coming.  His mouth full of the potion, he swallowed desperately, his lungs now demanding air.  Finally his airway was free and he gasped for air as his head was lowered back to the bed.  Tears streamed out of his eyes, and he choked back a sob.

"Why…?"  He was unable to finish his sentence, as he suddenly felt his eyes slipping shut as an incredible tiredness rushed over him.  He heard a bit of murmuring just before he was unconscious.

*  *  *

When Harry woke again it was much darker than before.  He opened his eyes and found that he could still move his head and neck, but the rest of him remained immobile.  Looking to the right, he saw a familiar figure dozing in a chair next to his bed.  He called out to the werewolf quietly.  "Professor Lupin!"

The man jerked awake with a start, glancing around quickly before realizing that the source of the noise was the bed that he had been keeping watch over.  "Harry!  I'm so glad you're awake!" he exclaimed, sounding genuinely pleased.  "How are you feeling?"

"I've been better," he replied wryly.  "Can you… I mean, will you… I…"  He couldn't seem to get the words out.

"What is it, Harry?" Lupin looked concerned at this uncharacteristic hesitancy.

"I… I can't move…" he whispered, trying to force down the fear and the tears that were threatening.  "Can you…?"

"Oh!"  A flash of recognition crossed the former professor's face.  "I don't see why not."  With that, he waved his wand and called out clearly, "Finite Incantatem."  He smiled.  "I don't think you should move around a whole lot, though."

Harry nodded, but wiggled his fingers and toes to see that he could.  He felt relief flood through him when he was sure that he had control of his body back.  This time he was able to offer the werewolf a weak smile.  "What are you doing here?"

"I came to visit you, Harry.  As soon as I heard that you'd been hurt, I came as quickly as I could."  He smiled weakly, and Harry saw that the lines in his worn face had only increased.  He knew suddenly that the death of the last of his best friends had been an awful blow to the werewolf.  He felt the familiar wave of guilt rush over him, accompanied by grief, and blinked back tears.

Lupin moved closer to his bed.  "I'm sorry, Harry.  Your uncle had no right to do this to you."

Harry turned his head and mumbled his recurrent thought.  "I deserved it."

"What!" the exclamation sounded a bit like a yelp, and then his former professor's voice became firm.  "Harry, look at me."

He closed his eyes and shook his head, cursing the werewolf's exceptional hearing.  He didn't want to be convinced that he was wrong; he knew that he wasn't.

"Harry!"  The stern voice and the almost angry tone caused Harry's eyes to flash open as he flinched away from the man, frightened.  He grimaced at the pain still present in his ribs and the general ache that covered his whole body as he moved.  From the far edge of the bed he stared at his former professor.

"I'm sorry, Harry, I didn't mean to…" he watched as the boy flinched again at the use of his name.  He modulated his voice to be as soothing as possible.  "You need to calm down… you're going to hurt yourself, you're still healing."

Harry tried to relax himself, but he found that the fear and adrenaline did not leave him so easily.  He had never felt anything but safe with the werewolf, but now he found that there was a part of him that panicked at his presence.  Watching the man's face he could see that he knew how frightened he was, and Harry remembered once again the heightened senses of a werewolf.

"Why don't you get back to the center of the bed, Harry?"  He winced as he saw the injured boy flinch again.  "I don't want you to fall off accidentally."  He took an exaggerated step back, giving Harry space.

For his part, Harry wasn't very interested in falling off the bed either.  Shaking slightly, he ignored his protesting muscles in order to get himself back away from the edge of the bed.  He continued to watch Lupin, torn between horror at the reaction he had to this last of his father's friends and a continuing fear that he couldn't throw off no matter how hard he tried.  Curling up a bit to protect himself, he felt his ribs give an angry twinge.  "I—I'm sorry," he stuttered.

There was understanding in the man's face.  "It's alright, Harry, I understand… You've been through a lot."  Moving slowly, he seated himself in his chair, leaning back and relaxing slightly as Harry did not have any further reaction.  "Now… what's this about you deserving this?"

"I don't want to talk about it."  He said this flatly, hoping that it would end the conversation before it started.  He didn't want to talk about Sirius with the one person who missed him more than he did.  Not when it was his fault.  "How did I get here?  I thought students weren't allowed at Hogwarts during the summer?"

"They're not, usually, but you were hurt and under the circumstances Professor Snape didn't think it a good idea to take you St. Mungo's."  The werewolf seemed to be willing to let the change of subject go without an argument.

"Snape?" he asked blankly.  Then understanding rushed through him.  "Oh Merlin, he was the one who came to get me?"  I will never live this down, he thought to himself.

Lupin gave him a calculating look.  "Well, he was just checking in on you.  None of us expected you to be hurt."

"Merlin, he will never let me live this down," Harry moaned, more to himself than to Lupin.

"Do you really think so little of me?" came a smooth voice from the doorway.  He felt every muscle that he didn't realize he had relaxed clench up again, pain stabbing through his ribs at the sudden movement that he made.  He stared at Snape without blinking, desperately trying to slow his heart rate back down.  The potions master was striding quickly over to Harry's bed, and he found himself backing up toward the edge of the bed again as the tall man approached.

"I see you deigned Madam Pomfrey's precautions unnecessary, Lupin," he commented with a harsh edge to his voice.  His attention was now on the still-seated werewolf rather than the fearful boy in the hospital bed.

"I saw no harm in allowing him a bit of freedom while he was awake," he replied calmly.

"I see… Lupin knows best," the potions master sneered.

"Leave him alone!" Harry cried before he even thought about it.  The tall man turned on him, his robes billowing out behind him, and with an abortive cry of fear he pulled away from the angry gaze—and toppled right off the side of the bed.

He landed hard on his back, and thought he heard a crack as he landed.  And incredible pain blossomed from his ribs as the jarring impact undid some of the school medi-witch's hard work.  An instant after he landed both Snape and Lupin appeared around the side of his bed.  Nearly whimpering at the pain, he pulled himself back toward the wall, away from the two towering figures that were fast approaching.

Lupin knelt down so that he was a less menacing figure.  Softly, he began speaking, "Come on, Harry, calm down… We just need to get you back up onto your bed, so that Madam Pomfrey can help you."

But Harry was too far gone to register a word that the werewolf was saying.  "Leave me alone, please!" he pleaded.

"I'm sorry, Harry, you're going to hate me for this, but…"  Ignoring the boy's cries of fear he reached forward and took him into his strong arms.  Harry fought back but his slender frame was too weak to do any real damage, and the pain was making it hard to focus.  A moment later he found himself back on the hospital bed.  Lupin pressed on his shoulder gently to return him to a supine position.

Snape returned with Madam Pomfrey following him.  Lupin's hand continued on his shoulder and kept him from either sitting up or moving around.  Poppy pulled her wand out, and Harry jerked convulsively against Lupin's hand.  "No, don't!" he cried in desperation.

The medi-witch paused in her movements and looked at Harry.  "Will you drink a potion?"  The terrified young man stared at her, weighing his options.

"What kind?" he finally asked, his voice shaky.

"A calming draught… I'm sorry, but I can't give you any more of the dreamless sleep potion today."

He nodded and reached out his good hand for the potion.  "Can you—Can I sit up?"

Madam Pomfrey narrowed her eyes.  "Only if you can do it on your own."  She nodded to Lupin to let go of his shoulder.  Harry handed the goblet to him, and then lifted himself up on his good elbow.  He gasped at the pain and both Lupin and Snape leaned in as if they were going to push him back down, but the medi-witch motioned them both back.  Gritting his teeth, Harry stubbornly pushed on.  He felt himself getting lightheaded from the pain, and knew that either Lupin or Snape would catch him if he were to pass out.  Finally, painfully, he reached a sitting position.  He held out his good hand and Lupin placed the potion into it.  Throwing his head back, he downed the disgusting potion as quickly as he could.  He barely noticed as the werewolf pried the empty goblet from his hands and the potions master gently eased him back down.  Some part of his mind noted that it was supremely odd for his usually cruel professor to be treating him so gently, to even be present at all.  Another part of him noticed when Madam Pomfrey cast the spell to immobilize his body, but he found it hard to care.  His eyelids drooped and his exhaustion carried him away from the pain and fear and into a deep sleep.

Author's Notes:  Please review if you liked it (or hated it, or anything in between)!  Even one or two words, since I have no way that you have read the story or what you thought of unless you tell me! :-)