Monday morning was a bleak one for Harry. He'd spent the night in the Infirmary with Madame Pomfrey's blessing. It was an easier way to keep track of the boy; besides, she'd wanted him to stay after he'd exhausted himself healing Deliverance. All in all, it was a good deal for all three of them, as Deliverance now had company as well. And she knew the boy needed him right now, especially after what Severus had pulled on the poor child.
She was still very upset with her cousin. What had the man been thinking? He would deeply regret giving Harry away, especially when all three of those blasted men realized what they were doing to him emotionally. He was torn up inside over this ordeal. They'd be lucky to regain his trust after this all blew over.
Harry sat on the bedside opposite his grandmother. He'd already decided, even if Severus no longer wanted him, that he wouldn't give up ties with this woman. She meant more to him now than ever before, especially after all that had happened just last night. She was the only one who seemed to care for him, and it broke his heart. He still wanted Severus to wake up and realize what he'd done, but so far, the man hadn't even stepped foot into the infirmary. No one had, minus Madame Pomfrey with her usual checkups. He had hoped his father would show up in the middle of the night, realizing the massive mistake he'd made. He hadn't. No one came, not even Sirius or Remus to make sure he was okay. Of course, they probably thought he was still in the Gryffindor Dormitories. How wrong they were.
It was almost time for breakfast, but Harry honestly didn't want to go down and face anyone, especially not his father sitting at the teacher's table. He didn't think he'd be able to handle it if his father didn't even acknowledge his presence. Things were hard enough as it was. How could his father give him up? Didn't he mean anything to him? Any doubts he'd had before were now magnified ten fold. Life couldn't get any worse than this.
"Yes?" he asked, leaning forward slightly over the bed. He knew it was time to go downstairs.
"Breakfast will be starting in five minutes. Don't you think you'd better go down and meet with your friends? I'm sure they're worried about you," she asked him.
Harry shook his head. "No, I'm still under detention. Sometimes I eat breakfast with…with Severus. They won't think anything of it if I don't show for breakfast," he mumbled distractedly.
Deliverance sat down beside him and wrapped an arm around his shoulders. "I'll be speaking with them today, Harry. I'm sure there's nothing to worry about. I'll knock some sense into that damnable cousin of mine and make him see reason."
Harry smiled desolately. "I don't think so," he murmured.
"Don't be so negative, child. You must look on the brighter side of things."
"What brighter side? There is no brighter side," he said angrily, but then paused. "Except for you. If you weren't here, I don't know what I would have done," he said honestly. She had been like a beacon to him last night.
"You would have figured something out, though, I am glad I was here," said Deliverance. "But, I'll be worried if you don't go and get something to eat in that empty stomach of yours. Harry, you're entirely too thin for my likings anyways, please do an old woman a favor and go eat with your friends. It will set my mind at rest."
Harry groaned. Ah, how guilt made him do things he didn't want to. "I guess I'll go," he replied morosely. "I'll see you after classes?" There was a tinge of desperation in his voice, he knew, but he couldn't shake the feeling that somehow, she'd decide he wasn't worth the effort, just like his father had.
Deliverance smiled reassuringly. "I'll always be here," she said, conviction strong in her voice. "You're going to classes?"
"I have to. When it is nearing the end of term, it's always a bad idea to skip classes," he told her, sadly. He hadn't wanted to go today for two strong reasons. Not only did he have Defense with Professor Lupin, but also his last class of the day was the one he was dreading the most. Potions. Harry couldn't help but be apprehensive about seeing his father after last night.
"I'll see you this evening after dinner," she told him, "You best go now, or you'll be late."
Harry nodded and quickly swept out the door before he could change his mind.
Walking down the last flight of stairs before reaching the Great Hall, Harry stopped when he heard voices coming from the corridor ahead of him. Most of his dorm mates were standing right outside the doors, along with Fred and George Weasley and Hermione Granger. They were all talking animatedly, without a care in the world. Seeing this, seeing them so happy, something in him suddenly fell apart. He was nothing but a nuisance and a disappointment, a dangerous person to even be around. His own father refused to keep him in his home any longer. They probably wouldn't even notice he was there, standing on the steps. Besides, everyone would be better off if he wasn't around, especially his friends. Fighting against his sudden feelings of despair, Harry knew he couldn't step foot into the Great Hall. He'd never make it.
But, it was too late. Hermione had already seen him. She took one look at him and was suddenly darting across the threshold and up the stairs. Their other friends watched in surprise as she rushed to his side, throwing her arms around him.
"Harry?" she asked, concern lacing her voice thickly.
He knew he shouldn't give into the urge to hug her back, but he was so desperate for any form of affection, especially after the awful thoughts that had been invading his mind just moments before. He needed this. Wrapping his arms around her in return, he clung to the back of her shirt so tightly his knuckles turned white.
"What's wrong?" she asked, as Harry felt one arm tighten around his waist as the other went to rest on the back of his head, her hand smoothing down his ever restless hair.
Harry shook his head wildly on her shoulder. He couldn't talk about it. He refused to break down any further in front of his friends. He'd heard the pound of footsteps as his other friends came running up the staircase at the sight of their distraught friend.
"Harry?" asked a voice close to his ear. Harry glanced to his right and saw a shock of red hair. He couldn't be sure if it was Ron or Fred, but didn't have the energy to move his head to ask. Feeling much too open and vulnerable, Harry pulled away from Hermione and quickly headed downstairs.
"I have to go," Harry said frantically as he almost ran towards the Entrance Doors.
"Wait, Harry, what's going on?" he could tell the voice this time, it was Ron.
He couldn't tell them. He was too embarrassed to tell his friends what had happened, that his own father no longer wanted him in his life. And he was still angry, but trying to fight the urge to go down to Professor Snape's classroom and give him a piece of his mind. He had felt wanted by an actual parental figure for the first time since he had been a baby. And now all that had been ripped away from him in one vicious move. What right did they have to take his feelings of trust and contentment and treat him as if he couldn't make his own decision in the matter?
He wasn't a complete imbecile. He knew when he was being hurt or taken advantage of. And he was still adamant that it had just been an accident. If only Severus would see! He could be stronger than this! Maybe that's why Severus didn't want him anymore. He was acting too much like a child for Severus' tastes. He was being too much of a hassle for his father to take care of. Harry shook his head, pulling himself from his morose thoughts. He'd wait until he could speak with Deliverance about her conversation with his father, Sirius, and Remus before jumping to any unfounded conclusions.
Out on the grounds now, Harry quickly made his way to the lake, but forewent sitting on his rock, his usual spot. Instead, he paced angrily right in front of it. Hearing a branch snap behind him, Harry spun around, pulling his wand from his pants pocket on instinct, only to replace it moments later.
"Fred!" he said, grasping his chest over his rapidly beating heart. "Don't do that!"
The redhead laughed softly and joined Harry beside the lake, watching him curiously and with a bit of apprehension. "What's going on, Harry? You're not acting like yourself. Ron and Hermione are really worried, and Ron's about fit to be tied. He's getting a little overprotective again, I think, and might go questioning Professor Snape," he said, smirking a bit. It had really been more of a joke than anything, but with the current situation as it was, Harry didn't find it humorous at all.
Harry turned from Fred, finding a sudden interest in the rippling waters at his feet.
"Harry?" asked Fred, placing a wondering hand on his thin shoulder. "Something's going on, isn't there?"
There was no answer from the dark-haired boy and Fred frowned. Feeling now wasn't the time to push Harry into speaking; he instead pulled the younger teen into a one-armed hug, lightly resting his arm across his shoulders. "I'm here if you need to talk," he told the boy, simply standing with and letting the young Gryffindor be.
Harry sighed. Fred didn't know how much he just needed someone to be there, silently, but be there. Harry was tired, and not just physically. He was emotionally tired as well. He was sick of everything constantly going wrong in his life. Why couldn't anything go his way for once in his life? Why couldn't he be normal? But, that was one thing he would never be.
Running late for their first class of the day, Ron and Harry stormed into Transfiguration and timidly took a seat at the glare Professor McGonagall was sending their way. Ron had waited for Harry in the Entrance Hall until he and Fred had come back inside, worried about his friend. No one had been able to pry from Harry what was bothering him and Harry, for one, didn't plan on telling them.
Harry was finding it extremely difficult to concentrate as he found himself being called on more times than seemed usual in McGonagall's classroom. Unable to answer any of the questions directed to him, Harry ended up losing quite a few house points and with detention this coming Saturday. The raven-haired Gryffindor didn't seem as upset about this as the rest of Gryffindor did. This served to further concern his friends. Something was wrong with the boy, but he refused to say a thing. Even Professor McGonagall looked concerned as Harry continued through the rest of class with his eyes unfocused and with no one being able to reach him.
"Potter?" asked Professor McGonagall after she'd been standing beside his desk for five minutes without any response.
Harry shook his head, as if coming out of a deep trance. "Yes?" he asked blandly.
"Are you ill?" she asked. The room had become completely silent and Harry cursed himself for getting so caught up in his negative thoughts.
"No, I'm fine. I'm just a little tired, I guess," he answered her with an almost truth. He was tired.
The Professor's brow furrowed in thought. She didn't completely believe him, which was all well and good, considering he was feeling remarkably ill at the moment, but not for the normal reasons a person fell sick.
"If you're not coming down with something, do you think it would be possible for you to pay attention?" she asked, arms crossed and looking quite strict.
Harry grimaced. "Yes, Professor. Sorry about that."
A sharp nod was all the reply Harry got as the woman walked back to the front of the classroom. He looked around wondering what it was they were supposed to be doing. He noticed Ron was staring at him intently and instantly diverted his eyes.
"Are you okay?" he asked, clearly wanting an honest answer.
Harry sighed. "I don't want to talk about it right now," he briefly said before turning his head back to his textbook.
Ron scowled at him but not another word was spoken for the rest of the class period. As soon as they were dismissed, Harry grabbed his bag and rushed out the door, intentionally trying to stay away from Ron. He wasn't ready to talk and although he knew Ron wouldn't force him to, he knew he'd feel compelled to tell his best friend what was going on with him and his father. Harry could only imagine how the redhead would react.
The more the day progressed, the more Harry wished he'd just stayed in bed. He had Defense Against the Dark Arts next. With Professor Lupin. Harry didn't even want to talk to the man after what he and Sirius had done. They'd pulled him from a perfectly good home and left him drifting in the seas of loneliness. He hoped Deliverance got a chance to talk to Severus soon. His only optimism was if she got him to somehow change his mind. But would he?
Stepping into the classroom, Harry quickly made his way to a table in the back. If he could keep eye contact to a minimum, he would. The less he had to deal with Remus, the better. Ron and Hermione looked at him strangely as they entered behind him.
"Why are you sitting there?" asked Ron, standing beside the desk as Hermione stood watching curiously. "We always sit up front."
Harry just shrugged as he pulled out his DADA book and laid it before him. "Just felt like sitting somewhere else for a change," he replied cryptically.
Ron accepted it at his word and sat down beside his friend. Hermione, however, seemed a little suspicious. "I'm going to sit up front, if it's just the same to you," she told the two boys. Harry watched sadly as his friend went and sat at the desk directly in front of Professor Lupin's.
"We didn't want you to sit with us, anyways," said Ron haughtily. But he was looking at Harry strangely. "Can't we sit up front?"
Harry glared. "You can, but I'm staying here."
Ron backed down and pulled out his own bag. "That's alright, I'll stay here," he told the raven-haired boy, watching Harry worriedly. "Is something going on with you and Professor Lupin?"
Harry wondered at his best friend's ability to know what was wrong with him at the exact moment he didn't want Ron to know. It seemed as if it happened every time.
"Not really," said Harry. "Class is starting, we better pay attention," hedged Harry, opening his book to the requested page.
Ron didn't seem convinced, but Harry didn't really care, either. Remus was now looking at the two of them with an odd expression on his face. Throughout the entire class, Harry kept his eyes diverted from Remus', much to the werewolf's dismay.
Harry couldn't talk to the man, not without getting upset at least. At least Sirius wasn't here, then the situation would be even worse. He saw out of the corner of his eye that Professor Lupin was coming their way. Taking in a large breath, Harry braced himself for anything the man might say.
Remus stopped beside Ron and Harry's desk and waited for the small Gryffindor to look up. Ron was looking between the two of them, growing more and more nervous as the tension grew around him. He poked Harry in the side, wondering why his friend was obviously ignoring Professor Lupin, of all people.
"Harry," he whispered desperately. His friend glanced at him quickly before shaking his head and turning back to his book, as if it was the most interesting subject in the world. He tensed when he felt Remus lean over him and place his arm on the back of his chair.
"Are you alright, Harry?" he asked, concern laced in his voice.
Harry felt a pang of guilt before he quickly squashed it back. "Perfect," he said, harshly turning a page in his book.
Remus quickly let go of Harry's chair and stood up straight. The anger coming off of the boy was tangible. Rather than cause a scene, Remus instructed Harry to stay after class. All he got in reply was another harsh turn of Harry's textbook.
Ron glanced up at his teacher. Remus could see in Ron's eyes what he didn't dare speak out loud. Ron would make sure Harry stayed afterwards. Remus nodded and walked back to the front of class, occasionally glancing at the boy he truly cared for like the son he never had. He knew he and Sirius were doing the right thing, but he was beginning to wonder if this wouldn't be what destroyed Harry.
At the end of class, Ron waited as Harry packed up all his belongings and stepped out into the aisle. Harry made to go for the door, not to the front of the class where Professor Lupin was patiently waiting for them.
"Harry, you're supposed to stay after," he tried to remind his friend, but Harry continued walking. Sighing, Ron grabbed hold of the smaller boy's arm and pulled him back. Harry spun around angrily and wrenched his arm out of the redhead's grip.
"I'm not talking to him!" he spat, before stalking out of the room. Ron couldn't help but think Harry's father had truly begun to rub off on the boy, especially if Harry was beginning to stalk.
Harry could imagine the look Ron was giving Professor Lupin and then he heard the redhead running after him down the corridor.
"Harry, wait!" he yelled, trying to catch up. Harry wasn't going to make it any easier for him. He didn't know why he was being so callous to his best friend, but he honestly had other things on his mind. Like Potions, the class they had next. Maybe if he got there early enough he could slip in and talk to him. With this thought in mind, Harry quickened his steps and made for the dungeons.
"Would you wait!" yelled Ron, sounding very irritated. Harry didn't slow. When he felt a hand grab his arm and roughly pull him to a stop, Harry cringed. Ron immediately let go. "Sorry,"
Harry nodded and turned to continue his walk. "You don't have to follow me, you know," he told his friend.
Ron rolled his eyes. "We have the same class, I'm not exactly following you. And, do you know how much trouble you're going to be in? I can't believe you just blew off Professor Lupin like that. What's wrong with you?" he asked.
"It's nothing," he said quickly.
"I don't believe you. Something's going on, you would never act like that with Lupin otherwise. Come on, tell me what's going on," he implored, taking hold of Harry's arm once more.
"I can't. Please, just let me go. I need to talk to my father, okay?"
Ron's brow furrowed at the look in Harry's eyes. "Harry? Are you all right?" Ron had never seen his friend look so lost and sad.
Harry turned away without answering his friend. But, Ron had seen the look still haunting Harry's eyes. His friend wasn't okay.
By the time the two subdued teens reached Potions, the classroom had already started to fill. It was too late to speak with his father, but maybe afterwards. Harry wouldn't give up yet.
As they entered, Harry quickly went and sat down beside Neville as Ron sat beside Hermione.
"All right there, Harry?" asked Neville.
Harry groaned. He really needed to work on covering up his emotions.
"Fine, Neville, I'm fine," he said quickly, and nearly felt his heart thump out of his chest as the door opened and Snape came stalking in, his robes billowing out behind him. At the front of the room, he began writing down a series of potions ingredients on the board before instructing them how to brew the potions as required.
"You all know where the ingredients are stored. Get moving," he said menacingly. Harry hadn't seen Professor Snape act this callous in a class since before he'd been adopted. Feeling as if there truly was no hope for them ever regaining their family, Harry dejectedly walked up front and grabbed what he needed. He tried to lock eyes with his father, but the man kept turning to another student, either to yell at them, or in the case of one of his Slytherins, he praised them. Malfoy looked at Harry curiously. Harry just shook his head sadly, walking back to his seat.
"What's up with Snape?" asked Ron, looking to Harry for the answers.
Harry looked up at his best friend and sighed. "I wish I knew," he mumbled.
Later on in the brewing process, Neville accidentally added chopped angel hair instead of diced, causing their potion to fizz and turn a rather violent shade of purple. It was supposed to be yellow. Obviously, the potion was destroyed, but Harry couldn't find the energy to care anymore. He was shocked when Snape suddenly appeared beside them.
"Can you do nothing right?" he asked the two menacingly. Harry looked at his father sadly.
"Obviously not," Harry said, not referring to the potion. "No matter what we do we're never good enough,"
Severus stopped and stared at Harry, as did the rest of the class. Neville was watching Harry nervously, but when he saw the look in Harry's eyes he knew this wasn't about a potion, this was something personal. What had happened between the father and son?
Gathering all of his things to his chest like a shield, Harry left the room, unhindered by the Professor. All Snape could do was stand rooted to the spot as his son left looking more broken than he'd ever seen him.
Harry dumped his school bag on his bed before rushing through the castle and outside to the grounds. He couldn't stand to be inside a minute longer, he felt as if it had turned into one big closet that was closing in on him. He needed fresh air and once again found himself standing at the edge of the lake. He heard footsteps behind him. He figured Ron had probably followed him after that little outburst in Potion's class. He turned around and was surprised to see that it wasn't Ron at all.
"Malfoy?" he asked, surprised the older teen had even wanted to leave class. Hell, he was surprised Snape let him leave class.
"What happened Saturday night?" he asked. Harry was honestly surprised to see the level of concern in Draco's eyes. Harry had forgotten that the Slytherin had witnessed Severus come home the night he'd been locked into his bedroom. Sighing to himself, he turned back to the lake.
"Things went to hell in a hand basket," he said darkly. "That's what happened."
Draco raised a brow. "He looked really pissed that night when he ordered me to leave," he went on, undeterred at Harry's words. "He didn't do something incredibly stupid, did he?"
Harry shrugged. "In a manner of speaking."
Malfoy growled. "Would you stop talking in riddles and just answer the damn question!"
Not caring if Malfoy knew or not, Harry shrugged, and with a growing look of despair told Draco what he wanted to know. "He locked me in my bedroom," he shuddered.
"He did what?" asked the Slytherin. His father had locked him in his bedroom plenty of times, but he'd never looked the way Harry did right now. Obviously, there was a deeper threat to being locked away for Harry than for Draco.
"I don't like to be locked away," he said. Draco saw the haunted look on Harry's face and wondered what fears lay in the boy's past.
"Did Severus know this?"
Harry nodded. "Yes," he whispered. "But he was upset. He didn't know what he was doing."
Draco nodded. He'd seen his godfather get so upset before that he completely blocked out what was going on around him…not something he should have done with Harry.
"Severus is an idiot," he told Harry. "But, he wouldn't have realized what he was doing, do you know that Harry?"
"Yes, I know that."
"Are you scared of him?" asked Draco, simply curious as to the scene he'd witnessed in class.
"No," he answered monotonously.
"Then what is going on?" asked the Slytherin, truly confused.
"My godfather and Remus Lupin found out about it. They're taking me away from him. And Severus isn't even fighting it," he told Draco sadly. "He doesn't want me," he added quietly.
Malfoy shook his head. "Idiot," he grumbled under his breath.
Harry looked up. "What?"
"Not you. Severus. He's an idiot. I can't believe him. Knowing him, which I do, he's going around thinking it's his entire fault and that he could have prevented it. He's afraid he'll do something to hurt you again and therefore thinks it is in your best interest not to be with him any longer." The Slytherin stood up and paced agitatedly before him.
"Well, that is stupid," replied Harry. "Why would he think that? Of course he wouldn't do it, at least not on purpose. What happened the other night wasn't on purpose!" he said agitatedly. "Why does everyone else think they can just butt into my life?" Harry was as irritated as he'd ever been. It was no one else's business, not really. He could understand Sirius' and Remus' point of view, but they had no right. Severus was his father now.
"Have you talked to him?"
Harry shook his head. "Not since that night. He told them to 'take me.' Of course I wasn't going to go back and try to talk with him. I just figured this was the most convenient way of getting rid of me," he said darkly.
Draco snorted. "Severus doesn't want to get rid of you, you imbecile. Why do you always think the worst?" he asked, looking the smaller teen over. "Never mind, judging from what I discovered over Christmas holidays, it's probably due in large part by your relatives. Muggles, I swear."
Harry stood silently by, not denying what the Slytherin boy had said. It was the truth, after all. "I still don't think I can talk to him. I wanted to before class, but didn't get the chance. And, you saw the way he was acting in class. He seemed awfully angry in my opinion."
"He's angry all right, but not at you, at himself."
"Well, he doesn't need to be!" ranted Harry. "How many times do I have to say it? It was an accident!"
"I know that, you know that, and hell, even Severus knows it, probably. But, he won't want that kind of accident happening again, you see?" asked Draco, now standing in front of the lake, watching as a fish poked it's head above the water for an instant before darting back down. Harry stood at his side.
"I suppose so. Why does everything have to be so damn complicated? If I didn't have issues with claustrophobia, would this really have been such a big deal?" he asked Draco, not really expecting an answer.
"Probably, by your godfather at least. But, because you are afraid of enclosed spaces, it just makes the whole situation even worse, doesn't it? For everyone. Had you not been afraid, you probably wouldn't have even notice you were locked in until later, and it wouldn't have caused you to break down, either. I'm just assuming you had some kind of fit, otherwise this wouldn't be such a big deal?"
"Well, yes," replied Harry, shifting his feet uncomfortably in the leaves. "That's when Severus let me out."
"Of a sort." Harry walked closer to the water in a vain attempt at a bit more space. He didn't want to just walk away, that would be rude.
"Perhaps I should have a word with my godfather?" said Draco, more to himself than to Harry.
"No!" Harry spun around to face the Slytherin. "You can't talk to him."
Draco smirked. "Why not?"
"Well, I don't know. I just don't want you to, alright?" he asked, desperate for Malfoy not to speak with his father. Somehow, he didn't think that would be a good idea. Thankfully, Draco relented.
"Someone needs to."
Harry nodded. "My grandmother, in a fashion, will be talking to him. She's not too fond of the whole thing either. If she can't knock some sense into him, no one can," he looked out at the water, still wary that his father indeed didn't want him. It was a hard notion to get out of his head.
"It's almost time for dinner. Shall we go inside now, or would you prefer to stay out a bit longer?" asked Draco.
Harry didn't know if Malfoy wanted to stay with him or go back inside because he was hungry. "You go on, I think I'll just sit out here for a while, if that's okay."
Draco turned to more fully face Harry. "Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'll be fine. I'll probably go to Deliverance's quarters instead of the Great Hall, so you go ahead."
"Deliverance? Isn't that Severus' cousin?" asked the Slytherin boy, turning around after he'd been about to walk away.
"Yes, she's the one I mentioned was supposed to talk to Severus."
"Ah. I suppose I'll see you in class tomorrow then?" he asked.
"Uh-huh," answered Harry, his mind beginning to wander as his thoughts drifted to Deliverance and the possible discussion she might be having with his father at that very moment.
Harry looked up. "Yeah?"
"I'm sure everything will work out for the best, but if you need someone to talk to, you know where to find me, right?" he asked.
Stilling in shock, Harry just nodded. This had to be the most bizarre conversation he'd ever had with Draco Malfoy. The Slytherin was acting more and more, well, good-natured than he ever thought possible.
Draco nodded and went back into the castle. Harry waited until the doors had closed completely before turning back to the lake. He was so nervous he couldn't stay still. Fidgeting a bit, Harry finally got up the nerve to go inside and up to Deliverance's quarters. He tried knocking, but no one answered. The three women in the portrait told him to come back later. Sighing in resignation, Harry left.
Deliverance must still be talking with them, he thought. He walked throughout he castle, evading anyone who might possibly want to speak with him. He only wanted to talk to one person. Perhaps that was the reason he ended up right outside Severus' chambers. He waited as the snake, which guarded Snape's quarters, scanned him before the portrait swung open. He stepped inside, realizing at once that no one was home. It was something he could just sense. It felt so odd being back here, in a place he had considered his home until just last night.
On impulse, Harry walked over to his bedroom and swung the door open using his foot. He still refused to step foot inside it, he just wanted to look. And, he was a bit surprised to find it looking exactly as he'd left it. Somehow, he'd thought Severus would have gotten rid of everything and turned his bedroom into a study or something. It was actually pretty nice to see that Severus had left his things as they were. Was there still hope, then? He didn't dare get his hopes too high, just to have them shattered into a million pieces.
He stared into his old room, trying to gain up the courage to step one solitary foot inside, but couldn't manage to do it. As soon as he was one centimeter inside the room, an irrational fear arose making him feel the door would slam closed behind him, trapping him inside. Instantly, he was back in the living room, hating himself for this weakness.
Knowing this could quite possibly be the last time he would ever step foot inside his 'home' ever again, Harry deliberately took his time leaving. He ran his hand across the back of the couch, fingering the soft blanket that lay there. He remembered all the times he'd curled up on the couch and his father had covered him with this same blanket. How had things gotten so messed up? Why didn't anyone want him? He had thought Severus Snape had been the one person who finally cared about him for just being Harry. The Dursley's had conditioned him to believe no one would ever want him. He would never be loved. No one wanted a freak. Severus must have finally seen what his relatives had.
Harry had been about to leave when he noticed the portrait was beginning to open. Startled, Harry unthinkingly dove into the kitchen and forced himself into a tiny nook in between a counter and the wall. Severus wouldn't see him unless he walked directly into the kitchen and stood on the opposite side of the doorway. And Severus hardly ever entered the kitchen.
He didn't know why he couldn't just tell Severus he was there, but he found himself wondering what the man would say to him if he did. Would he be mad Harry had come inside uninvited? This was no longer his home, he reminded himself. Severus didn't want him. Resolved to stay put, he hoped Snape would either go into his laboratory or go to bed early. Otherwise, he would grow rather uncomfortable very quickly. And, although Severus hardly ever entered the kitchen, Harry couldn't help but worry he might do just that.
But, all thoughts of his comfort fled when he heard the portrait open once more and a familiar voice call out.
What was Deliverance doing down here? Hadn't she already talked to him? What if she hadn't? Did this mean he was about to hear the conversation that he'd been fixated upon the entire day? Harry didn't know if he wanted to hear this conversation or not. What if he had to hear Severus admit to Deliverance that he didn't want him? He didn't think he'd be able to stay hidden a moment longer, in that case. He'd up and leave, that's what he'd do.
Then Deliverance started speaking, startling both Harry and Severus with her opening line. "I just had a little chat with Harry's godfather and Remus Lupin," Harry heard her say.
"A little chat? What on earth for?" Severus sounded annoyed but Harry got the feeling Snape knew exactly why his cousin had been chatting with Sirius and Remus.
"Because I told Harry I would."
Harry flinched at the words. He hadn't wanted her to tell! Harry cursed his position crouched in the kitchen. He couldn't see a single thing going on from here. Taking a chance, Harry crept slowly from the nook he'd stuffed himself into and quickly repositioned himself against the wall parallel to the entrance to the kitchen. Glancing around the corner, Harry could see Severus standing behind the couch. He could see the annoyance now. Deliverance was at the doorway, looking a mite cross, herself.
"That insufferable child! Does he not know this is a personal matter? He should know better than to blab our current circumstances to the entire castle!"
Harry bristled at the obvious insult. He hadn't blabbed to the entire castle! He'd only told one person, not including his godfather and Remus. Which, as it turned out, had been a terrible idea. But, much to his relief, Deliverance hadn't yet finished.
"You know he didn't tell anyone but those he could trust, Severus Snape! He knows there are certain people who would like nothing more than to get their hands on your 'current circumstances' and run rampant with it. And besides, he needed to talk with someone. Why else would he come to me?" asked Deliverance, hands on her hips.
Severus appeared angry at this admission. "Was he not with Black or Lupin?"
"No. They sent him back to Gryffindor Tower."
"Those fools! Did they not realize Harry shouldn't be alone at such a time?" he bellowed, now pacing the room, his anger clearly showing.
"Obviously not. He came to me, instead. And do you want to know what he told me?" she asked, walking straight up to Severus and blocking his path.
Severus sneered. "Do enlighten me."
Narrowing her eyes, the older woman practically growled. "That boy has the fool notion going through his head that you don't want him!"
Severus had been walking away from her but stopped dead when her words filtered through his hectic thoughts. "He thinks I don't want him?" he asked, sounding shocked. Then he straightened. "Perhaps that is for the best. It will be easier for him to let go if he thinks I no longer want him," he sighed. "He'll grow to despise me as before."
Harry, who had flattened himself more thoroughly against the wall to see better, gasped softly at those words. Did the man want him or not? He was abruptly pulled back into the conversation before him at Deliverance's angry words.
"For the best?" she asked incredulously. "Are you completely dense? How could that be the best for a child who has been constantly abandoned? His parents left him, in a fashion, his relatives never wanted him, and you're abandoning him to Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, neither of whom can take the child in! Harry is going to develop a complex if this insanity does not end! Did none of you even stop to consider what you were doing to Harry?" she paused then, her eyes glimmering sadly. "You're tearing him apart. He's being pulled in so many different directions he doesn't know which path to take. He's confused and hurting emotionally. Don't you see, Severus? He needs you. He doesn't want you to give him up, and he's rationalizing it all with what's been drilled into his head since he was a small child. He's not worthy of anyone's love and affection. To him, you've realized this, just as his relatives did, and you're trying to fix the mistake you've made!" she took a deep breath to continue. "And he doesn't despise you. He can't. He loves you. That's why this is killing him."
Harry's eyes widened at what this woman had just said. It was as if she had read his mind. Those were his sentiments, exactly, and it frightened him that he was so easily read. He couldn't help the blush that slowly tinted his cheeks, even though no one knew he was there. But, Deliverance had just informed his father that Harry loved him. Would Severus throw it back in his face?
"He told you this?" asked Snape, sinking down in the armchair facing the couch.
"No, but it's easy to see. You should have seen him last night, Severus," she took a deep breath and sat down across from him. "You can't possibly still be considering leaving Harry with Merlin only knows whom? Are you? Because if you are, you're not the man I thought you were," her tone was cold, causing the older Slytherin to look at her in shock. "Don't think for an instant that I won't take Harry straight away from here if the three of you continue on with this ridiculous plan!"
Severus slammed his hand down on the table beside him. "Wait just one minute, Deliverance. You have no right to take him! He needs to stay here where he's safe. What are you thinking?" he yelled, massaging his hand, which was now stinging furiously. "Are you trying to get him killed?"
Harry was just as surprised by this outburst from the old woman as Severus obviously was. He couldn't help but smile at the way she was defending him.
"I would never put Harry in danger!" she exclaimed. "How dare you! I'm trying to protect him from you!"
The raven-haired boy growled quietly from inside the kitchen. It was an accident!
The dark haired man was apparently thinking along the same lines. "He told you what happened?" he asked, more subdued. Harry realized with a jolt that Draco had been correct. Severus did blame himself for what had happened.
"With the closet?" she asked quietly. He nodded. "Yes, he told me, but that's not what I'm referring to."
Severus looked about as confused as Harry felt. What was she talking about?
"I won't have him here with the three of you conspiring against him. He has nowhere to go, did you know that? He can't go back to his relatives, as if either of us would allow that no matter what the circumstances, he feels he no longer has a place here with you, and Sirius Black, his own godfather can't take him. Where is he going to go, Severus? An orphanage?" she asked, her voice sounding strangled. "Do you know what that would do to him?"
Harry felt his own heart constrict at the thought, because that hadn't even crossed his mind. Would he be sent to an orphanage? He'd flee before allowing something like that happening to himself.
Snape looked torn. "I hurt him, Deliverance. Don't you understand that? I locked him inside his own bedroom. He can't even step foot inside it without trembling in fear. And I forced that fear upon him. He doesn't feel safe here. He doesn't feel safe with me."
Harry wanted to jump out from his hiding spot to let Severus know just how much he didn't think that, but also didn't think that would be the wisest decision. They would know he'd been here the entire time, hearing every single word they'd spoken, in the presumed privacy of Severus' quarters. Harry could only imagine how upset they'd be with him. Then again, maybe they wouldn't. He still didn't dare risk it.
"Sometimes, Severus Snape, I really want to smack you," said Deliverance completely out of the blue. Harry's eyes nearly widened beyond capacity.
"I believe you heard exactly what I said. Honestly, how could you possibly think he doesn't feel safe with you? You're the only one he does feel safe with. He knows what happened with his bedroom was an accident. He's told me repeatedly, in fact."
Sighing, Severus laced his fingers together tightly and his lips became a fine line. "An obvious mistake on Harry's part, wouldn't you think?" he asked contemptuously. Harry knew that contempt was directed at Severus himself and no one else.
"No, I don't think. Do you honestly think you did that on purpose?"
Shrugging, the younger man stood up from his chair and began his pacing once more.
"Did you want to scare him?" she asked suddenly. Severus spun around so quickly his hair whipped around his face. Harry didn't think he'd ever seen the man look quite so angry before.
"Of course not!" he yelled, glaring at his cousin ominously.
"Then what's the problem?"
Harry was wondering the same thing.
"The problem is that I did it at all. Why would I do something so heinous to someone I care about so deeply?" he asked. Harry flushed at the words and had a feeling Severus hadn't realized he'd said them.
"We all do incredibly thoughtless things when we're upset. You were so overwhelmed by what happened…well, to me, I suppose, to even think clearly. I'm sure it was quite a shock to find me in the manner you did. You're last living relative, slowly dying…" she trailed off, looking closely at her cousin. "I'm sorry about that, I should have been more attentive to my surroundings. I never would have been attacked otherwise. It was quite a shock to us all. Had I been more attentive, none of this would have ever happened."
Severus snorted. "Now that is ridiculous and you know it," he said, going to her side. "It was a surprise attack, under no circumstances could you have known the island village was about to be under fire."
Deliverance didn't seem nearly as certain as her cousin obviously was. "I still feel I should apologize. And poor Harry, seeing me in such a fashion, I know I must have looked terrible," she said slowly. "I still can't believe he healed me. The boy is a wonder."
"You have no idea," he said.
"Are you still going to give him up?" she asked after a long moment of silence. "If you care for him, why let someone else take care of him? Someone who might not be as suitable to the task as you."
"Anyone would be more suitable than I," he answered darkly.
Deliverance had apparently had it by the man's words and followed through with her earlier threat. Much to Harry's surprise and shock, she walked right up to Severus Snape and smacked him upside the head. Harry had a hard time stifling the laugh that wanted to spill forth. Severus looked so shocked and angry it was amusing.
"You bloody woman!" he bellowed, rising to his feet menacingly.
"Shut up and sit down," she yelled back, shoving him into the chair.
Harry smiled. This was why he loved Deliverance. The woman had absolutely no fear, and Severus Snape could be frightful when he really wanted to be.
"You can't possibly let Sirius Black and Remus Lupin run your life. Harry is your son. Put your foot down, for Merlin's sake, and take what rightfully belongs to you!" she ranted, impossibly angry at the young man's idiocy. "What are you going to do if your son is placed with someone who really hurts him?" she asked, he eyes boring into her cousins. "Did you ever think of that? What happened between you and Harry is nothing compared to what his relatives used to do to him. And Jeb Corwin, remember him? He hurt your son as well, I'll never forget the bruises I saw on that child." Harry shrunk back against the wall, never realizing that Deliverance had seen the extent of his injuries. This was all entirely too embarrassing and awkward. The shame was seen clearly on his face and Harry was glad he was out of sight. "Trouble seems to follow that boy, what is he going to do when you're not there to protect him any longer?"
Harry felt a little indignant at that phrase. He was capable of defending himself, but then he remembered just how many times Severus had saved his life, even before he'd been adopted, and his irritation faded. He'd be dead by now if it weren't for Severus Snape.
"What are you going to do?" she finally asked. Harry held his breath.
"What if I do it again?"
Deliverance frowned. "You won't."
"How can you be sure?"
"Because I know you. I know how much you care about that boy. You'll never do it again. You'll make sure of it, I know," she said emphatically.
"And what if Harry no longer wants to be my son?" he asked, sounding almost worried to Harry's ears. "I've done irreparable damage to him in more ways than one."
"He still wants you as a father." Harry whole-heartedly agreed with her.
Severus shook his head. "He thinks I don't want him," it was a statement of fact.
Harry couldn't help himself, and slowly came out from his hiding place.
"Do you want me?" he asked, causing Severus to raise his wand and Deliverance looked as if he'd given her a heart attack.
"What? How long have you been in here?" asked Snape, looking bewildered and almost annoyed. Perhaps he should have stayed hidden.
Harry felt what little hope he'd let grow within him dither at the older man's look. This had been a mistake.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have listened in on your conversation. It won't happen again, sir," he couldn't seem to drag his attention away from the floor. "I…I'll just go now," he said sadly. He jolted out the door.
Harry could hear Deliverance talking harshly to Snape, but didn't stop to listen to what she was saying, something scathing, no doubt. He was halfway down the corridor when a voice caught his attention.
Looking back, Harry raised glistening emerald eyes and met black ones. "We need to talk," said Severus. "Come inside."
Nodding jerkily, the young Gryffindor followed behind the Potions Master and the door slammed shut behind them.
A/N: I really wanted to continue writing from where I just left off, but seeing as how I would probably never quit writing, I decided it was as good a place as any. And, I wanted to actually get it out by my deadline.
So, what do you think of this chapter? I'm sorry I kind of left it at a cliff-hanger, but hopefully, the wait will be worth it. It's after midnight right now, and I'm very tired, so I'm going to skip this author's note crap and get right onto the next chapter stuff.
In The Next Chapter:
Severus' discussion with Harry.
Sirius and Severus butt heads over what is best for Harry.
Harry is confronted by his friends.
The Next Update:
Two weeks from today. I am a bit sick right now, and just in case I feel like utter crap and don't want to write, I'll forewarn you now it might be a little later than that. But, I am feeling a bit better, so far. I'll post on my Yahoo group whether or not the chapter is up to speed.
Oh, someone asked me if I would have this finished by the time Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince comes out. I'm going to TRY to finish it before the book comes out. This next chapter will probably be the end of the school year, and I'm not even sure if I'm going to have Voldemort attack, but something will happen at the train station…a little spoiler for you, I suppose. So, you all can look forward to that. So, I think there will only be a few more chapters left before the end.
Please review! I can't wait to hear what you thought of this chapter!