Past Midnight

Oh, screw this. I'm sure you have read assorted kinds of disclaimers by now and I won't bother to add another flavour in the rainbow.

Author's Note:
This is a combined effort from Snow Raine and Xxpresso, of which took almost a month of emailing, grumbling, complaints and delighted squeals of laughter before it was bravely posted. Tread softly.

Based on:
Detention with Umbridge, Book 5
Severus/Harry friendship


Harry stifled a back breaking yawn as he closed Professor Umbridge's door with a gentle click. He would have loved to smash the door into place instead but he was smart enough to realize that is would not fare well with him indeed.

His hand stung as usual and he briefly wondered if he was still capable of holding the broom handle while flying but he remembered, bitterly, that Quidditch was several dreams away. Walking towards a flight of stairs, he pulled out a cloth he had prepared earlier (experienced by now to do so) and wrapped it tightly around his bleeding hand. The blood had ran from the back of his hand to his fingers and was in the position of dripping off onto the floor before Harry quickly rescued it.

"Not even you," he complained as the staircase moved out from under his feet to swing to another direction. Momentarily stranded, he cursed under his breath and leant against the banister, waiting for another staircase to swing into place. The option of taking another way escaped his mind as he rested his forehead on the smooth surface of the railing and yawned again.

Detentions from Umbridge had seemed so routine (he had to admit he had asked for it, provoking her like that, knowing full well he would gain a detention as he did so but he could not resist the temptation of aggravating the witch) that the firstly unbearable pain in his hand had faded to nothing but a dull throb and brief stinging. He knew that the words would probably be with him forever because it didn't seem to be going away after repeated cuts.

He unwrapped his hand and noted that the bleeding had slowed. The pale words welled up blood and he hurriedly clamped down the cloth again. Quite embarassing, if you asked him. He had to find some potion to get rid of the scar some time later. Walking around with 'I must not tell lies' on his hand was humiliating.

He glanced back up to check whether the stairs had arrived and was startled to see Professor Snape studying him with cold black eyes from a floor above. The only thing that separated them was the empty abyss that could be overcome by a stairway.


"Night, Professor Snape," said Harry awkwardly as he turned get out of the professor's sight. Snape had never looked at him that way before and it was a little scary.

"You stop right there."

Harry felt hopelessly miserable as he turned back to face Professor Snape. "Yes, sir?"

"Do you realize it is past curfew? What are you doing wandering the hallways at this hour?" He snapped back.

"I..." began Harry, feeling that it was obviously obvious. The whole bloody school already knew by now that he was getting detentions most regularly from Professor Toad.

"Come up here," Professor Snape barked. "I'm not going to talk to you while being meters away."

"There's no st..." Harry felt triumphant, hoping that he would be excused since the stairway wasn't available but just as he was rejoicing, the staircase swung from the right side to knock into place right in front of him. Jumping gargoyles.

"You were saying?" Professor Snape replied in a cold voice that could freeze the entire Sahara Desert over to icebergs.

"Nothing," Harry sighed and proceeded to climb the stairs.

As it was absolutely no where near his day, he had just put his foot on the safe surface of the next floor when the staircase chose to move again. He had barely managed to pull his left foot up when it swung away leaving a fall up to three floors down. Harry glanced down and gulped.

"Mr. Potter!"

Purely on instinct, he snapped his head back to face the professor and took a step backwards at the same time, forgetting that unless he could walk on air, he was taking a trip down.

He yelped as his right foot could not find any solid footing and slipped. Professor Snape registered a look of surprise before grabbing Harry's right hand to save him eliciting a yell of pain from Harry as Professor Snape clutched his wounded hand. Professor Snape nearly let go of Harry's hand before collecting his senses and grabbing the other one, pulling him back onto safe ground.

Harry took a couple of deep breaths, shaking his throbbing hand before realizing that Professor Snape was leaning heavily on the banister, shaking his head.

"I should have guessed that calling a Gryffindor up here would be a bad idea," he snarled as Harry got to his feet.

"I should have guessed that being called by a Slytherin would never bring anything good," Harry retorted then immediately wished he hadn't.

Professor Snape looked ready to snap something along the lines of 'ten points from Gryffindor' or 'detention' but instead replied, "I see that petty arguments with Professor Umbridge had done some damage."

"I live to insult," Harry muttered bitterly.

The door to Professor Umbridge's door opened and Dolores poked her head out. "Still here, Harry dear? Don't you think you should go back to your dorm room, it is way past curfew. If you don't get a move on, I might have to take away some points."

"And whose fault is that that I am out here way past curfew?" Harry responded at once.

Professor Umbridge smiled. "Oh then. We just have to work it out in the next detention shall we? Tomorrow at nine, I'll see you here, Mr. Potter. Good night, Professor Snape." She slammed the door shut.

"Congratulations, you have earned yourself the sixth detention," said Professor Snape dryly. "Ever thought of keeping your mouth shut?"

"The seventh," replied Harry rolling his eyes. "She'll find another way to get me detention if I don't reply so why suffer for something I didn't do? I must as well earn it."

Professor Snape saw a little logic but snorted instead. Glancing momentarily at Harry's bound hand before turning towards the staircase which led them down to the dungeons. "Follow me."

"I am free tomorrow at seven," offered Harry trying to keep peace. He really wasn't up for detention right now. All he wanted to do was crash on his bed. In fact, he was sure he was going to topple over and just spend the night on the floor.

"For what?" spat Snape as they descended towards the dungeons.

"Detention. It's way past midnight and you need your sleep too," Harry said as he tried to keep in pace with the Potions Master.

"I will sleep while you clean," Professor Snape replied.

Harry groaned inwardly. He should have known.

"But I never said you were going to get a detention with me," he continued.

Harry's head snapped up. "Oh?"

Severus mumbled the password and he entered the dungeons, Harry right behind him. "Even if so, I don't think I want you bleeding over my cauldrons."

"I am not..." began Harry indignantly but the professor cut him off.

"Give me your hand."

"My...what?" Harry spluttered.

"Are you deaf?" Severus snapped.

"Just partly," Harry muttered.

"I heard that."

"Of course you did."

"Mr. Potter, I am not here to listen to your impertinence..."

"Are you married?"

Severus froze. "What?"

"Married," Harry smirked. "You and Professor Umbridge would make such a good couple." He winced inwardly. Did he just say that? Something was wrong with him. He had meant to keep it to himself. But well, the fact that he was half asleep and half in pain with every movement he made with his right hand, he wasn't exactly in the mood to be civilised with Snape.

Severus scowled, and snatched Harry's right hand in a fluid motion not even giving Harry time to register and holler in pain. He tore off the bandage but was surprisingly gentle as he brought up the hand to his eyes, inspecting the cuts and reading the words with a frown.

"You could just ask you know," said Harry uncomfortably trying to pull his hand away from Snape.

"I must not tell lies," Severus sneered. "What a good line."

"So that's what you were trying to read for the past five minutes," Harry shot back. He winced again when he realized he had made yet another remark that would probably land him into detention or a loss of points. Really, what a person can do past midnight...

He stamped down another yawn.

The professor let go of his hand without a word and turned to throw open his cupboard. Slamming down a bowl of yellowish liquid he glared at Harry. "Soak your hand in it," he said gruffly.

Harry looked at the murky yellow sludge. "It doesn't..."

Severus grabbed his hand and shoved it into the bowl. Harry opened his mouth to protest but then began to grasp the fact that the pain was fading.

"Umbridge can be annoying at all times, but that doesn't mean that you have to start a battle that you are losing with her," Severus muttered from the depths of his dark cupboard. "By this time, I am sure you have already comprehended that detention with her isn't something fun. With the rate this is going, that wound on your hand isn't going to heal easily."

Harry blinked. Severus Snape giving advice? He had to get Colin Creevey...did those photographs come with sound?

"That Gyffindor attitude of yours," he spat the word out as if it was poison on his tongue, "will get you no where with Umbridge at this moment."

Harry sank into a chair and propped his head up with his left hand, his right still stuck in the bowl.

"You hear me, Potter?"

"Yes, sir."

"How long is your detention with Umbridge?"


"You heard me."

"Two hours, sir."

"And you had better watch your tongue because you are acting most Slytherin with it and as much upsetting it would be for Dumbledore that his Golden Boy is mutating into a Slytherin, it is even more upsetting for me to have to take you under my house." Professor Snape pushed a few bottles of ingredients away to fit in a huge bowl of worms not bothering to reply on Harry's answer.

Professor Snape's advice was bordering on nagging and Harry grinned, closing his eyes. Professor Snape spoke with no emotion and his flat tone soon lullabied Harry into deep sleep.


When Harry woke up, he was startled to realize that he was still down in the dungeons, sitting at Professor Snape's desk. Jumping slightly, he noticed that his right hand was placed on the table, the bowl taken away. The scar was barely noticeable and as he started to get up, he caught sight of a blanket someone had thrown over his shoulders. He flushed a deep red and quickly folded the blanket, placing it neatly on the chair.

"Haven't drooled on my table I hope," Professor Snape came out from another doorway, halfway sticking his wand in his robes.

"No, sir," Harry was still a little blown that he couldn't think of anything else to reply.

"What are you still standing here? I am not going to be responsible for your delayed attendance in class. And I believe it is the Defense class you are having this morning."

"Yes, sir," Harry moved to the door quickly, wanting nothing but to flee from the professor.

"And Potter? Detention tonight at eleven for sleeping on my table without permission." Snape walked past him. "And close the door properly."

Harry stared at the departing back of his professor before closing the door. "You could have just woke me up..."

Then pausing, he ran after Snape and just barely caught him as he ascended a flight of stairs to head to the Great Hall. "Professor Snape!"

Snape halted and turned to see Harry running towards him. "What?" he snapped.

"Uh...thank you," said Harry awkwardly.

"You don't need to thank me for detention, Potter. I am most pleased to have you cleaning my cauldrons until dawn." Professor Snape continued climbing the stairs.

"Not that!" Harry yelled up. " other one."

Severus didn't turn to face his student, but produced a loud snort that Harry could hear at the bottom of the stairs. Harry sighed but grinned.


(stairs) /
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