It was more difficult than Snape had imagined that it should have been to wean Harry Potter off of the powerful painkiller for his injured knee. During the time that Harry really was in agony, was when Snape felt that things were the most trying. Harry, though he didn't mean to, was beginning to wear at Snape's patience.
Snape had Madam Pomfrey come and make sure that Potter was healing as he should have been. She informed Snape that the boy would be sore for some time, and that he and Potter would just have to have patience. Snape thanked the Mediwitch and showed her to the door. After Pomfrey had gone, Snape went back to check on Potter. Thankfully, Harry was drowsing peacefully beneath his blankets.
Snape carefully changed Harry's bandages, and to his satisfaction, the wound did look like it was getting better. It was still a swollen and angry mess, but definitely an improvement. Snape gently re-tucked the thick comforter around Harry and stood to leave the room. He froze mid-stride at the sound of a slurred thank you from the drowsy boy. Snape hadn't thought that Potter would notice very much, as muddled as he should have been due to drugs.
"I'll be back soon," Snape said in the most reassuring tone that he could muster. Harry didn't hear him; the boy had already slipped back to sleep.
The nightly ritual of potions and new bandages was less than amusing for both parties involved. While he was suffering from the pain in his knee, Potter was both very cranky and equally stubborn. Snape had started to cut back the amount of potion that he gave to Harry each night. He took away just enough so that he wouldn't throw Harry's body into a withdrawal.
It was almost a week later when he was able to inform Potter than they had successfully weaned his body off of the addictive potion. Harry let out a loud sigh of relief. He hadn't liked using that potion at all, even when it was the only thing that phased his agony.
A short while later, Snape brought Harry hot tea and an assortment of little things to eat. Harry started in on the food, and stopped mid bite when he realized that Snape was watching him intently. Not really knowing what else to do, Harry held out a small sandwich to share. Snape refused the offering with an amused expression on his face. Since when did anyone offer to share anything with him of their own free will?
The first time that Harry attempted to put some weight onto his sore leg, Snape wasn't there to stop him. Harry stood on his good leg and then, took a breath to steel himself, before attempting to plant his other foot. He grit his teeth and hissed. That really hadn't been the brightest idea. Harry sat down on the edge of his bed and panted as he waited for the throb of pain to recede.
Snape entered the room only seconds later. Harry tried to make sure that his breathing wasn't distressed sounding. He forced the most pleasant expression he could onto his face and looked up at Snape.
"Pain?" Snape asked narrowing his eyes at the boy. Harry cringed inwardly. Was he really that easy to read?
"It's not very bad," Harry lied. Snape glared at him.
"Afraid to be honest, Potter?"
Harry swallowed. "I just don't want you to think I wanted something for the pain. I've got to be able to stand it sometime."
Snape frowned. "I thought I had explained about the painkillers. I only used that other potion, because nothing else would have been effective. A milder potion wouldn't be habit forming, Potter."
Harry looked away, clutching at his wrinkled sheets with tight fists.
"Something else troubling you, Potter?"
Harry stiffened a little, but didn't utter a word.
"Out with it, Potter. Being silent will not help either of us."
Harry sighed, perhaps it would be best just to say what he wanted before it drove him mad. "I was just wondering if you had changed your mind about letting me stay with you." Harry swallowed, gathering what he meant to say before continuing. "I know I have caused you a great deal of trouble, and I would understand if you had had second thoughts about your offer."
Snape saw it now, when Harry looked to him for an answer, the boy was preparing himself for rejection. "My stand on that matter has not changed, Potter. The decision is yours to make."
Harry felt emotional relief flood through him, and for several moments he felt almost overwhelmed. "I'd like to stay."
Snape nodded silently.
So was it really that simple? One statement and Snape would take him in as a proper family member? How would his blood relatives react to this? If they knew that this was something that would make Harry happy, would they agree simply to be rid of him forever, or would they cause trouble just to be sure that he was miserable?
Snape ordered Harry not to worry about it; he was going to take care of things. All that Harry needed to worry about, Snape told him, was healing properly.
"Uncle Vernon, you just have to sign this piece of parchment, and then you won't have to worry about taking care of me anymore." Harry held out the elegant parchment and quill for Vernon to sign with.
Vernon sneered at the paper. "You expect me to touch that? After it's been handled by all sorts of those freaks?"
Harry felt his hope for an easy release slipping away. He should not have come to do this alone. Why hadn't Snape come to help him?
"What's the matter, Potter? Are we not good enough for you?"
Harry stepped backward defensively when Vernon advanced on him. His uncle's face was starting to turn a frightening shade of red. All Harry wanted to do now was diffuse the situation. He just needed the lousy signature and then he could go where he felt safe.
"Uncle Vernon, I didn't want to cause trouble. I just need you to do this one thing for me, and then you'll never have to see me again."
Vernon paused as if he were in thought. Petunia and Dudley walked into the kitchen, where Harry had been trying to reason with his uncle for several minutes.
"I don't think you should do it," Dudley said suddenly. They must have heard everything.
Harry felt his jaw drop. He would have thought that out of all the people in his family who would have been glad to see him go, that it would have been his chubby cousin.
"Why does he want this so badly?" Petunia asked. "There's got to be a reason for it."
Vernon seemed to light up as he came to his conclusion about the whole situation. "Well, I can see only one answer to this bloody mess, Potter." Harry flinched at the sound of fat knuckles popping. "It seems I must remind you of your place in this family."
Harry woke with a jerk and a cry of fear. He was shaking and covered in a layer of cold sweat. He started when a firm hand rested on his shoulder, and when he realized that it was Snape, he tried to make himself relax. It didn't do him much good though.
"Nightmare, Potter?" Snape lit the fireplace with a charm to warm the room a little more.
Harry nodded, swallowing roughly. Snape conjured a pot of hot tea, pouring some for each of them. Harry took his teacup in a shaking hand and tried to drink from it. He got a small swallow down before nearly splattering the rest all over his lap. Snape gently took the cup back, so that Harry wouldn't burn himself.
"You can have it back when it won't scald you, Potter."
Harry wrung his hands for something to do to distract himself a little.
"Would you like to talk about it, Potter?"
Harry looked up at Snape and gave him a sickened smile. "It's silly, really."
Snape didn't look convinced at all. "You're shaking and on the verge of tears. This is hardly something I would call silly, Potter."
"I had a dream about my family. That my Uncle wouldn't sign the documents I need to be able to stay with you. He said he was going to remind me of my place in his family. I woke up before things got violent, but it was enough to bother me. What if that were to really happen? What if he really refused to let me go?"
"Potter, I told you not to worry about that. I said I would take care of things, did I not?"
"And I have fulfilled my end of the agreement."
"Yes, everything was documented earlier this morning. I just hadn't had a chance to tell you yet."
Harry shivered. "You didn't do anything really awful to them did you?"
Snape chuckled. "Your lousy blood relatives were saved, due to the fact that I had to bring along a witness to confirm the signatures were authentic. It wouldn't have been wise to harm them, when I wanted their cooperation."
"Thank you, Sir."
Snape nodded. "How are you feeling now?"
Harry sat quietly for several seconds. The fear from his nightmare was trickling away, and the new shock of relief that he wouldn't have to face his blood relatives again was still almost unreal. "Better," Harry said, because he was sure that once the physical effects from the dream ebbed he'd be better than he had been in a long while.
Harry sat in the yard of thick green grass, playing absently with a snitch. Snape was nearby, sitting against a thick oak tree, dozing in dappled shade.
"Yes?" Snape asked in a voice that was rough from his short nap.
"It's nice out today, isn't it?" Harry said as he caught the snitch in mid-flight and moved to settle beside Snape. His limp was barely noticeable anymore.
Snape grunted in agreement and blinked at the pleasant drowsiness surrounding his thoughts. "Are you still having trouble sleeping?"
"Not as much as before," Harry answered honestly.
"You're doing very well, all things considered, Potter."
Harry made a chuffing noise. "It could have been worse."
"Yes, I think we are fortunate that it wasn't. From the way that your relatives maltreated you, and my cold reception of you at first, I'm relieved that you were able to work out as much as you did."
"You helped me a lot."
Snape nodded. "Only after I realized that I was going about things in an imbecilic manner."
Harry shrugged. "Well, you didn't know."
"Maybe not, but that doesn't excuse the way that I treated you. I apologize, Potter, for my former actions. I shall try not to make such mistakes in the future."
Harry smiled. "I trust you." Harry found that as he said the words, he really did mean it.