Sighing, Severus shifted around on the hard infirmatory chair. His eyes drooped as he watched the young boy sleep, seemingly peaceful dreams. Poppy had finally taken leave, but reluctantly so. Severus had assured her that he knew what he was doing, and things would be fine until she returned. With these thoughts, Severus dropped off to sleep. He hadn't sleep long however, when he was awoken.

Thrashing and shrieking, Harry tried desperately to fight off invisible enemies. With a final yelp, this one of pain, he bolted forwards, breathing laboured. He fumbled instantly for his glasses, before pulling them on with great difficulty, owing to how much he was shaking. He felt a warm hand on his own, and he whimpered subconsciously.
"Potter?" mumbled a voice as the lamp flared next to the bed. Severus Snape's face emerged from the darkness. Harry hissed and jerked backwards, trying to pull Snape's hand off his own. Severus removed it willingly, but stared at him with something akin to worry on his face. Harry glanced down at his bed covers, still shaking profusely. He couldn't bring himself to look back at his teacher. Severus sighed again, before standing and gently pushing Harry down, back onto the bed. This simple gesture caused Harry to start whimpering again, and hot tears burned in his eyes. Snape gently pulled his glasses off, before he resumed his post by Harry's bed. Harry felt the tears fall down his face, only to have a gentle hand wipe them away, Harry still trembling under the touch.
"Sleep, Potter. Face your demons in the light of the day, where others who care, can assist you," came Snape's voice in a tone Harry had never expected to hear.
"Will you help?" croaked Harry just before he felt exhaustion break over him. He closed his eyes, asleep the second they closed. Painfully, Severus leant down next to him and whispered.
"Yes,"

The day dawned bright and the sky looked as if it had just come back from the drycleaners, yesterday's clouds gone as easily as yesterday's stains. But Harry saw none of it. Miserably, he stared at the ceiling. His body ached from all its recent healing, but it wasn't his body that was damaged beyond repair. It was his mind; again and again he cruelly witnessed every bad event that had ever happened to him. He watched Cedric die again and again, saw Sirius body arch gracefully to his doom. He remembered his childhood of always being hungry, of lying to people who saw the bruises and the blood. And now he'd been found out. Snape had seen him at his moment of ultimate weakness; he'd seen him receiving the punishment he so justly deserved. Not only had he been seen at his worst, his Potions Master now treated him with pity. Pity he didn't want, because he didn't feel like he deserved it. He wished desperately that his uncle had killed him. That he didn't have to feel such pain anymore, that he could finally be realised from it. He didn't even want to exist anymore.
"Potter?" came Snape's hesitant voice. Harry turned listlessly to him. Snape stared back for a moment, almost like he was scared of what he saw in Harry's eyes.
"Perhaps you'd like to get up? If it's not too much of a strain, I wanted you to go for a walk on the grounds. It will stretch out your muscles, so they won't hurt so much," offered Snape.
The boy mutely nodded, and pulled his curtains around the bed, blocking him from view.

As he stumbled his way around the grounds with Snape, Harry couldn't bring himself to say anything. He was confused at Snape's behaviour; hadn't he hated Harry? Shouldn't he have laughed when he saw him, instead of hugging him? It was very confusing, but Snape didn't seem to want to share his innermost thoughts on the matter now. He walked with his usual determination, until they reached the lake, to Harry's surprise. He reached the exact same spot that Harry had mourned for Sirius last year, before stopping. He sat down, motioning for Harry to do the same.
"Ha…Potter, I think we need to talk…" started Snape quietly.
"Please tell me…what your relatives did to you," he said, his voice barely over a whisper. Harry looked ready to bolt, and if his all ready tired muscles had allowed it, he would have. Instead he adopted a blank expression and started tugging resolutely at the grass. Snape inched closer, softly pulling his hands of the ground.
Harry continued staring at the ground. He knew that if he looked into those compassionate eyes once more, he'd burst into tears again. And this time, surely this time, Snape would laugh and insult him. Snape would stop prying, and leave Harry to try and bear this burden alone.
He felt his hands being let go, only to have Snape cup his face up and force Harry to met his dark eyes. Harry sobbed, even before he had seen them, and tried desperately to close his eyes, but it was too late. Snape had allowed Harry to see his pity, and Harry fell to pieces under Snape's eyes' spell. He felt the Snape's thumb softly making circles on his cheek, and he unconsciously brought his hand up and covered Snape's, pressing it almost desperately onto his skin. He fell forwards, and Snape caught him before his face could hit the ground, pulling him closer. For the second time in two days, Harry broke down completely on Snape's robes. Hands wound their way up his back, soothing him, trying to pull out his despair, and Harry became lost under them. Finally, he could cry no longer. He shivered wretchedly, finding himself unable to look up again.
"I won't hurt you Harry," reassured Severus, surprising both himself and Harry.
"I've been here…I've had to deal with this too. I know how you are feeling," he tried to soothe Harry.
Harry didn't say anything, just continued looking surprised.
"Why?" he asked suddenly.
"Why what?" replied Severus, confused.
"Why are you comforting me like this? You, of all people. I deserved this to happen to me. It's my fault," stated Harry as if it was the simplest thing in the world.
"What's your fault?" Severus whispered, not knowing if he wanted to know.
Harry hesitated.
"It's my fault that my parents died. It's my fault- I wasn't good enough to deserve them. It's my fault that I'm a wizard, a freak. It's all my fault that Sirius and Cedric died," Harry suddenly blurted out, saying it in a rush like the very words burned him.
"No, Harry, no…" tried Snape. "It's not your fault!"
Harry turned his tear stained face back to Severus'. His eyes finally met his Potions Master's, who gasped at the sight. Harry put all his depression into this one, long stare, hollow eyes boring into him. Eyes that would kill, but not others. Eyes that would kill…their owner.

"Please Harry, don't do anything rash," begged Snape desperately. Harry stared back hauntingly.
"I won't," he promised blandly.
Severus bit his bottom lip, afraid that he might somehow spark Harry off.
"Juh…just know Potter, that there's people who do still care about you. People who want to see you happy and well again," whispered Snape, almost nervously.
Potter smiled bitterly through his tear stained mask.
"I was never well," he hissed, painfully pulling himself off the ground, and, in as best a manner as he could manage, he stalked right back up to the castle.

Severus stared after him. He knew what is what like to be tortured as Harry had. His own father, Artimus Snape had been an expert at causing pain. Even now, years after he'd finally escaped the sadistic man, Severus would wake up covered with sweat from reliving such horrible experiences. He wouldn't wish such things on anybody else. Harry needed to talk about this, someone who could relate. If he didn't receive help, then…Severus didn't want to think about what Harry might do. Shuddering, his pale hands started circling his own wrist, and he stared fixatedly at them. Slowly, he peeled back the black material, and revealed a maze of crisscrossed lines, weaving their deadly patterns over tender flesh. A finger traced them gently, and a solitary tear splashed onto his skin.

A shadow fell over him, and Severus started and hastily pulled down his sleeve, only to have his hand snatched away from him. Potter. Damn that boy!

Harry realised quite soon that he needed Snape to get back into the hospital wing. Only the teachers knew the passwords for all the doors during the holidays, in case of invasion. Sighing, Harry headed back in his direction, only to see his Potions professor staring at his wrist, as Harry neared, walking softly, he couldn't help but notice the jagged scars encircling Snape's wrist. With a gasp, he reached out for his hand.

"What…what did you do?" he gasped, eyes wide as dinner plates. He stared at Snape; he was shaking under his intense gaze. Quickly, he lowered his eyes.
"Nothing I did not intend," Snape half-shrieked, pulling back his hand and swiftly standing.
"Come, back to the castle," he ordered, almost running over the grounds in his haste.
Harry meekly followed, back his eyes never left the back of his proud teacher. For a brief second, he had seen through his defences but now the sullen potions teacher had returned. This truly was a mystery.

He practically dashed from the wing hospital wing after depositing Harry into its care. He reached his rooms quickly, blurting out passwords all over the place to let him through. Severus collapsed onto the floor, shivering, and his eyes closed, hands gripping each other forcefully. He whimpered when he felt a hand gently stroke his hair.

Harry waited a few moments before going after his teacher. He didn't mean to be so curious, but the desire to find out where he'd gotten his scars was overwhelming. Snape led him to a part of the dungeons Harry had never been to before. He watched, awestruck, as Snape fell forwards, crying onto his floor with his door wide open. Hesitantly he moved forward and placed his hand gently onto Snape's head.

"Potter…you shouldn't be here…" croaked out Severus, still staring at the floor.
"I'm sorry sir," Harry whispered, moving closer.
"Don't…" protested Severus weakly, before the gentle hands pulled him closer, resting his head on Harry's lap.
"Don't worry…it's ok…" he comforted quietly.
Severus sighed and leant against the warm hands, craving human contact.
It was like this the headmaster discovered them some time later, both asleep, Harry leaning against the wall, and Severus against him. Smiling bitterly, Dumbledore conjured a blanket and covered them both. Both to have suffered so greatly, finding even the merest comfort in each other were something truly special.

For the first time in his many years, Severus awoke without worrying.
His coal black eyes lingered on the boy who held him tightly, as if he was the final lifeline. Even in sleep, it seemed the world was still on Harry's shoulders; his eyes were ringed with shadows, and his face tight and drawn. Unable to resist, Severus reached up to pull a strand of hair from his young charge's face. Harry cringed back from even this minute touch; sleep being unable to make him flee from his fears entirely. His face contorted, and wearily Harry opened an eye.
"Professor?" he whispered softly.
"Don't worry Harry, I'm here," reassured Severus.
"Good," murmured Harry, pulling him closer.
Severus made to object, but upon noticing his charge's head droop, gave in and fell asleep once more.

A/N- There! Finally another chapter! Sorry people, I've been so busy lately, but I promise I'll have another chapter out soon, or at least try to. I'm putting all my effort into 'A shadow amongst shadows' at the moment, so read that if you like my work!