Chapter one

The Full Moon

By Raven Dancer

rating: PG

disclaimer:  All characters belong to J.K. Rowling except for the Drs. Barnes.  I receive no monetary compensation for these works.

Summary:  The Full Moon

Harry felt the door close and heard the muttered curse that trapped him inside.  The air vibrated from the thudding slam.  Then,  the sound of a heavy latch falling into place and the few footsteps leaving.  

Where was he?   Pretty dark, even with the large windows high above him letting in the sunset light.  As he stood, he looked around the long room.  Near the back wall he saw two figures, one prostrate on the ground, the other bending over and shaking it furiously.

"I should be hearing them," he realized, moving closer.  Lupin looked up into his eyes, frantic.

"Help me wake him, your only chance is to wake him before I change."

Harry looked down at the crumpled figure.  Snape.  The pale face was slack.  Looked pretty cadaverous.  Didn't he believe in eating?

Change?  It sunk in.

"What happened?" Harry asked.

"Do you have your wand?"  Lupin ignored his question.  Harry pulled out his wand and held it towards him.  

"It won't open the door, Remus.  I didn't hear what spell they used," the youth stated.

The DADA professor again ignored Harry's comments. 

"Thank God!" he snapped the wand away and whipped it over the stilled form at his knees.  

"Finitus Incantantum!" Lupin gathered the limp man into his arms.

"Severus?  Come on Severus, wake up."  The lax face began to animate.  

"Yes!"  Lupin hissed, raising his hand he wiped the hair from the other's eyes.

Snape's eyes fluttered opened, confused at first, then focusing on Lupin's concern.  

"Remus?" he struggled to sit up.  

"No time, Severus.  We're locked in and the moon is rising.  

Door's cursed.  You've got to protect Harry."

Snape pushed up onto quivering legs.  A quick glance at the "boy" and then turned his full concentration on his companion.  

"They took my wand, Remus," Snape stated simply.

Lupin shoved Harry's wand into his hand.  

"Gotta move."  He moved as far away as possible, near the door.  Snape gathered his robes and cloak around himself and straightened.  He gestured to Harry to follow as he went to the opposite wall and into the farthest corner.  The night sky was dark outside the vaulted windows.

No mincing words:

"No time, Potter.  Behind me.  If anything happens to me, try 

to stay under my body."  

Harry felt sick.  Under the body?  What was going on?  

"Did Professor Lupin take his medicine?"  A cold dread filled him.  Without the potion Snape brewed, Lupin would change into a werewolf.  A trapped werewolf.  Angry.  Couldn't forget that.   Most of his studies had confirmed that particular point.  He frowned at the mental checklist.  Snape just looked at him quietly and motioned with his head.  

"We'll have plenty of time to talk if I can bind him," he added.

Harry didn't know if that was a threat or a promise.  Being stuck with an antagonistic, sneering Snape was not his idea of an interesting time.  

Except Snape didn't look like either.  He looked very worried.  

So, Harry allowed the Potions Master to wedge him tightly into the corner.  Contrary to Ron's caustic comments, Snape didn't stink.

Where in the hell did that come from?  Here he was getting ready to die and the scent of soap and Earl Gray tea wafted by him.  He clutched the man's waist as directed and buried his face into the warm smells.  The familiarity comforted him.

Snape was mumbling to himself, the wand arm up, slightly moving in tight circles.  Waiting.  There wasn't too long to wait.  Lupin was whimpering, apologizing to them.  

"It's ok, Remus.  You'll be fine.  I'll take care of you," Snape answered calmly, soothingly. 

Well, Harry didn't feel fine about this.  He wondered briefly if Lupin would be content just to bite them each once or if they'd be ripped to bloody shreds in the widening pool of moonlight.  He tightened his hold on the thin, taut, body and shuddered.  He had a vivid imagination.

He couldn't see the transformation but just hearing it was enough to make his knees weak.  Lupin's whimpering cries of pain became snarls.  Clothes shredded into smaller pieces.  Full-throated growls began to fill the available space.  He felt Snape tremble as the man straightened to his full height.

Harry's mind drifted back two years to a defense against dark arts class.  It had been a horrible experience.  Snape had substituted for a sick Lupin and had terrorized the class.  Most classes with Snape were horrible experiences.  During this one he had forced them to review how to identify and kill a werewolf.

His eyes flew open.  Surely he wouldn't kill Lupin!  No, no he had said Lupin would be fine.  Something about binding him.  Could he be bound?  He'd have to be fully transformed… and the incantation was difficult.  It dawned on Harry that Snape was possibly the only one at Hogwarts, other than Dumbledore, who could actually pull this off.

Then came the piercing howl that tore away any little confidence he had pretended to hold.  It was too late, Harry was sure of that as the snarling came closer.  Damn.  He wished Snape hadn't lost so much weight.  He'd never be able to hide under the body. 

In a rush of movement Snape brought the wand down sharply.  

"Pedium Bindus," he spat out firmly.  There was a soft 'thud' of a body hitting the stone floor.

Again Snape lifted the wand, twirling it slightly above their heads, waiting.  He could hear Snape murmuring to himself "steady, steady," then it fell again in a tight arch "Canid bindus."  A click.  A thin whine and snuffling noise.  

Snape dropped his shoulders and sighed deeply. 

 "You may cease trying to throttle my waist, Potter."  The words were Snape's but the tone wasn't.  It was amused and, strange as it may seem, full of warmth.  Harry loosened his hold in confusion.  

Taking advantage, the man turned slightly and reached a long arm back around the young man, pulling him out from the corner.  Harry let go, but Snape kept him close, dropping part of his cloak over him as he was pulled under his arm.  A comforting hug.  He could count the ribs on the man.

"I have to sit, Harry," he said, the trembling returned.  Was it weakness from the spell he had been under?  Or perhaps it was weakness from lack of food?  Snape carefully slide down onto the floor bringing Harry with him.  The heavy outer cloak wrapped them both as they leaned back against the wall.

After a few minutes of just breathing, Harry opened his eyes.  Lupin's wolfish form was stretched out before them, the eyes glared angrily, but the muzzle was clamped shut.  The front and back legs were tightly pressed together in a classic binding spell.  He noticed Lupin could still move his body and the tail beat helplessly against the ground.

Harry turned his attention to Snape.  The head leaning against the wall, eyes closed, sallow face relaxed.  The dark rings under the eyes bothered Harry for some reason.  That and the hollow cheeks.  Really needed to eat more.  Aware of the scrutiny, an eye opened, glittering, and the lip twitched up into a sneer.  But Harry wasn't threatened by the display.  

"It's all a hoax," Harry accused as he straightened up in indignation.

"Oh no, Remus really is a werewolf," Snape pulled the other lip up into a small smile destroying the disapproval he had tried to project.

"No.  You.  Your whole display is a hoax."  He glared at the man daring him to deny it.   Snape shifted uneasily.

  "My 'hoax' as you call it, isn't far from the truth.  I really am that bastard you hate in Potions classes."  A glance told him Harry wasn't going to buy that.  

"Sometimes we have to continue to be what we are no longer." 

Harry considered that a moment, then scooted closer to the warmth generated from his companion.  

"No longer?"  He was rewarded with a long side wards glance.  Evaluating.  Then a warm arm went around Harry's shoulders and pulled him snug against that heat.  

"Dumbledore has been working hard trying to teach me there are more important things in life than nursing old hatreds and regrets," Snape said simply.

Harry simply snorted, not yet ready to believe that.

Snape closed his eyes and leaned back again, 

"Well, I don't have to convince you."  His lips defined a tight line, but no anger.  Harry could see exhaustion and nothing more.  He returned to his queries.

"You could have petrified Remus.  It would have been easier and more effective," a calculated departure from the more formal title.

"Yes, I could have.  Much easier.  But petrification is much 

riskier for Remus.  We might not be able to get any mandrake 

draughts in the next 24 hours.  Then he'd be stuck; he might 

lose the ability to return to his human form."

"That would be a problem?"  Harry challenged.

"That would be a disaster," Snape replied.

Another long side glance, this time from Harry.  

"Binding is risky too, especially for us, Severus."  He flicked his eyes over the Potions master to see his reaction to that reduction in title.

A small smile.

"A full body bind would be chancy, especially for Remus," he said firmly. 

 "Can't control all the movement all at once.  Might bite his 

tongue or hurt himself falling when his legs freeze up.  So," and he began to sound like a teacher for just a moment,

"I started with his legs and let him get used to that indignity.  

Then I waited until he swallowed to bind his muzzle.  He can 

breathe and his tongue is safely tucked behind his teeth."  

He carefully shifted his legs, pulling his cloak closer, flipping the hood over his head for warmth.  

"Anyway, I didn't want Remus to suffer any additional discomfort.  It was hard enough for him to lose all his control in the transformation."

Before Harry could respond Snape lifted him up into his lap, shifting him against his chest.  The cloak was pulled tighter around them both.

"Conserving the heat," was the only comment Snape would offer.  Harry didn't answer immediately, weighing the indignity versus the comfort.  Enough robes to cushion the bony legs beneath him.  The heat was good;  he only had on his thin robes.  Snape was dressed for snow in that heavy woolen cloak lined with soft flannel-like material.  Sighing, he shifted against the professor, putting his head against his chest.  The quiet thumping of the man's heart a soothing litany of acceptance.

"What happened to his medicine?" he finally asked.  Snape sighed.

"I'm not sure.  Someone got into my office and tampered with 

it.  I don't even know when since it is locked except when I'm 

teaching in the classroom."  He rested his cheek momentarily against Harry's head, snuffling, then settled back against the wall. 

"If I fall asleep wake me when he transforms.  We'll need to warm him."

Harry decided he wasn't uncomfortable and shifted his arms around Snape's sides into the warm folds.  He also decided he would buy a cloak like this in Diagon Alley.  Probably pricey, but it definitely was worth it.  It must be colder than he realized in the dungeons.

"How did you two get locked in here?" he asked.

"Another mystery," replied Snape.  "I was working on a potion 

for my second year class tomorrow, when I was hit from 

behind.  I gather Remus performed a 'stop-curse' of some 

sort on me?"

Harry nodded, breathing in the spicy scent of the potions master, reflecting again on his surprise at the lack of 'stink'.  The hair was greasy, but maybe that wasn't from lack of hygiene.

"I was coming to see Remus.  I had a note at dinner from him 

telling me to meet him alone in an empty classroom.  Since I'd 

met him before to work on different curses and charms after 

class I didn't suspect a thing.  When I walked into the room I 

was grabbed from behind and shoved into here."   He shrugged and added,

"I couldn't even tell if it were a man or woman who got a hold of me.  Strong, though."

Snape rolled his left shoulder, then his right in a circle, stretching his back.  

"Someone wants Remus and me out of the way.  Or this may 

just be a healthy warning.  Maybe my cover's been blown."

"Or maybe someone in the castle wants to get you," Harry speculated. 

 "To help Dumbledore's cause in some way.  You are not well 

liked."

Snape snorted indelicately, a sound approaching mirthless laughter.  

"That is very true.  I am an expert at being a bastard."  There was no pride in the voice; it was nearly the saddest thing Harry had heard in a long while.

So he snuggled closer, encouraging the older man to more fully encircle him with his warm arms.  They sat for several minutes listening to the castle creak and groan, Lupin whimper and Snape's heartbeat smooth out in a comforting beat.  

"It's okay if you sleep Harry.  Lupin will not transform until 

dawn, just after moon set.  I think I will probably nap myself."

Comforted, Harry closed his eyes.  He felt safe, as safe as when he was with Dumbledore.  How odd.

They dozed, the room quieted.  Even Lupin seemed to settle into sleep.  Nothing and no one came near that door.  The moonlight flooded the room, and then slowly dimmed as the moon passed over to the other side of the castle.  

Harry realized with a start he had fallen asleep.  His eyes opened to graying light of predawn.  Severus was moaning softly in some forgotten dream, his hand twitching in remembered pain.  Gently Harry moved his hands against his flanks making quiet calming sounds.  He nearly snorted in laughter when Snape actually took comfort and cuddled down sighing against his hair.  

Nope.  There was nothing remotely scary about this man anymore.  All the angry smokescreens had dissipated.

Harry pulled back the cloak a bit to watch Lupin.  The werewolf shifted uncomfortably on the stone floor.  It was nearly time for him to transform.  He idly wondered if the binding curse needed to be released before he could completely change back into his human shape.

He reached up and touched Snape's face.  "Severus?"  A sleepy "hmmmm?" replied.

"The sun is about to rise, Severus," he warned.

Snape lifted his head.  It was getting very light and Lupin's body was beginning to twitch more violently.

"You'll need to move a little, Harry," his voice was bleary with exhaustion.  Snape gently eased Harry off his lap.  He immediately missed the closeness.  It was strange; he was not exactly sure that he could believe the man had changed, but Harry was missing an intimacy that he hadn't shared with anyone else and definitely never thought he would with Snape.

They watch together as paws slowly developed fingers; the muzzle shrank back into a nose and chin.  Snape held out the wand and sharply swung it over the prostrate form releasing both binding curses at once.

Lupin lay naked on the cold flagstone shivering.  His clothing had been ripped apart the night before.  Snape levitated the cold body to them, fitting him into the warmth of his lap and chest.  He stretched the bare feet and legs over to Harry for heating.  The cloak closed over the cradled body, head resting on the Potions Master's shoulder.

Harry was still cocooned in the deep recesses of the heavy cloak.  He could also see out of the cloak into the room if he wished.  Yep.  Definitely going to get one of these cloaks.  He noted Lupin's shivering increased as he warmed up and decreased as he became comfortable.  He also noted that Snape was slightly rocking the sleeping man, humming a little hum, as it were, to make him feel safe.  Concern lit his dark eyes as he took care of the unconscious werewolf.  How could he have ever thought Snape was evil?  

Well, uhhh, he searched for something outside of hating his father.  Something besides the creepy feelings he used to get around the man.  He set the thought aside for later introspection. 

The sun rose higher but did nothing to heat the room as light spilled across the floor.  He wondered idly about breakfast and as his stomach rumbled in complaint, remembered, reaching into his robe pockets.

Several chocolate frogs spilled out and he offered one to Snape.

"They're a bit soft Severus," he said by way of an apology.

Snape chuckled.  

"Thank God for teenage appetites!"  He accepted a frog and peeled back the wrapper, carefully biting off a piece.  

"Just need some tea," he sighed softly.  The rich smell of chocolate permeated their warm cocoon.  Lupin's nose twitched expectantly, eyes opened slightly.

"Hello, Remus," Snape welcomed him, displaying as much affection as he could muster.  He peeled the wrapper off the chocolate and slowly fed the rest of the frog to Lupin.

He wasn't really awake, Harry decided.  Lupin seemed totally unconcerned about his lack of clothes.  Must have gone through this a lot of times over the years, but maybe not had the warmth and comfort too often.  He watched the tired body curl closer to Snape accepting the gentle kindness being offered.

As well as the chocolate.

So Harry peeled open another frog and handed it to Snape who continued to feed the drowsing man.  He glanced up at Harry.

"You ought to eat at least one of those, Harry.  You could 

use the warmth.  We're going to be stuck here a while 

longer, at least a couple hours until someone decides we're 

missing."

There were two frogs left.  He held Snape's eyes a moment then purposefully peeled open one chocolate and bit the head clean off.  He held the decapitated amphibian to Snape's mouth, which politely opened and took a bite.  They shared that frog then opened the last.  Each took a bite then Harry fed the rest to Lupin who sleepily smiled and drifted off.  

Snape adjusted the cloak and the sleeping body to maximize the body contact.

"You know," he began conversationally, "once that door 

opens I'm going to accuse you of tampering with the potion.  

Then I'll snarl and stomp off demanding your expulsion and 

that my cloak be returned properly cleaned.  With lots of 

spit, of course," he tilted his head and raised his eyebrows.

Harry regarded Snape quietly.  

"Okay, that sounds like something a bastard would do.  Of 

course, Lupin will point out I would never do that to him and 

most of the teaching staff will agree with him."

"Since when did I give a damn about the teaching staff," Snape chuffed in disdain.  

"Bunch of unobservant idiots."  

"They'll shun you.  As will the students," Harry carefully pointed out.

"Wonderful.  I don't want to talk to any of them anyway."  Snape looked away quickly, but his eyes gave him away.  Isolation was wearing away at him.  He was tired and his body was slowly deteriorating.  

Harry snorted, 

"Except for some of your Slytherin students.  Just think, you 

can chat up Crabbe and Goyle after potions class."

Snape regarded him with a sneer, eyes sparked.  

"That was cruel," he said in a dangerously soft voice.  

"So why do you have to go through the motions?"  Harry cajoled,  

"Why can't you just be the good guy this time and let 

everyone know how you took care of me and Remus?"

"Because I'm NOT the GOOD GUY!"  Harry watched a variety of emotions rip across Snape's face.  

"I'm Voldemort's spy for God's sake.  I am a Death Eater.  I am 

not a good guy in any shape or form."

"You are a 'good guy', Severus.  You've been a good guy for 

a hell of a long time."  He reached out and softly stroked the clinging hair away from Snape's eyes and mouth.  The eyes were raging now, like angry storm clouds harboring lightening.

"I know it's a ruse, Severus.  So no matter what you want the 

rest of the school to think, I know.  I will not forget, no 

matter how nasty you try to be."  He smirked, "and I know 

exactly how nasty you can be."

For a wild moment Harry thought Snape would leap up off of the floor and storm across the room, breaking the door down.  Which of course was impossible since the door was sealed tight.  Then the moment passed and Snape leaned into Harry's touch sighing.

"I hate this game," he closed his eyes tight, "I would like to 

eat breakfast and not feel sick because my stomach aches 

from a variety of curses.  I want to go for a walk in the 

sunlight and not be glared at and dogged by angry people 

the entire time.  I would like to sit and talk with people who 

like me, just me, and don't expect passing grades or some 

favor they think I can give them."

Harry continued to run his hand along the face, from temple to chin and back in a soothing motion.  

"Who's cursing you, Severus?" he found himself concerned.

A shrug.  

"Does it matter?  It happens daily now, so I suppose it's one 

of the staff."  He shifted against the hard wall with a grimace, but never lost the grip on Lupin.  

"Dumbledore nixes them when he's here."

"The headmaster has been gone a lot lately," Harry said, more of a thought to himself.

"Yeah," tired sigh.  

"I can help you.  I can perform the counter charms after class.  

You need to eat, Severus.  You need to sleep."  The hand stilled a moment until Snape finally opened his eyes and regarded Harry's small smile and honest eyes.  

"I'd like to be your friend, Severus.  I know you didn't like my 

father, and  I'm only a student.  But we have a lot more in 

common than not."

Snape regarded Harry for a time, eyes trailing over his face, almost checking the sincerity in his eye before answering.  

"I'd…  I'd like that Harry," he sighed softly, 

"although I cannot be a friend to you in public.  I can't.  Word 

would travel to Voldemort and I'd be dead."

"An uneasy public alliance for Dumbledore's sake?  

Punctuated by the occasional detention for my 

rebelliousness?" he smirked.

"Leaving you to clean cauldrons?  At least it would fit in with 

my explosions," he eyed the young man smiling.  

"You know how to push my buttons better than any other 

student."

"Just don't turn me over to Filch," Harry shuddered.  "He 

actually thinks up nastier detentions than you!"  He looked into Snape's dark eyes, seeing shy acceptance.  Reaching out slowly he hugged the man, snuggling his head into the hollow of his neck.  Snape reciprocated and rested his cheek against the warm hair.  Lupin slept on while Snape tried vainly to control his emotions.  It had been so long and he had only Dumbledore to lean on for friendship and help.  This year the Headmaster was busier than usual and he was alone for long stretches of time.  So alone that this one student's offering, the son of an old, hated rival, was gratefully grasped.  Snape just needed one person who would believe in him.

There was a shuffling at the door and voices were heard.   A fist pounded against the wood.  In one fluid movement Snape unclasped his outer cloak and stood up, leaving Harry and Lupin wrapped in the warmth.  He ran his hand over Harry's upturned face, 

"Thank you.  I accept."  He pulled back and stood straight, "I'm sorry for what I'm about to do."

Harry smiled briefly, and then composed his face stoically.  

"I'm just as sorry, Severus."  He would act the part of angered student.

Snape pitched an awful fit, spit shooting out with a vengeance.   It was a most impressive display.  Dumbledore was passive, but his expressive eyes added to the atmosphere.  Madame Pomfrey, on the other hand, muttered invectives while she looked over Lupin.  The man woke confused and disoriented while the tirade was going strong.  Harry added a few choice retorts to the accusations.

Lupin managed to refute the allegations and sat wondering if the chocolate and warm cocoon had been a strange dream.

Snape finally burst out of the small room leaving the wreckage of the night on the floor.  Harry stood up and helped Lupin to his feet, wrapping the warm cloak over the man's thin body.  Not as thin as Snape's, he thought to himself.  Lupin was shivering slightly from the turmoil and unsuccessfully attempted to reconstruct the previous night's events.

"Go with Madam Pomfrey, Remus," Dumbledore ordered kindly.  

"You'll need warm food and sleep."

"I seem to be full of chocolate at the moment," Lupin said quietly, giving Harry a long, searching look.  Harry looked away, affecting pissed-off rather well.  Lupin was perplexed and finally allowed Madam Pomfrey to lead him off to the hospital wing.

That left Harry and Dumbledore.  They regarded one another for a long moment until Harry decidedly fidgeted.  

"I have to, uh," he stumbled over the words and looked vaguely embarrassed.

"It is nearly eleven," the Headmaster began, 

"and we need to talk."  He turned to the door and smiled.  

"I believe you can use my lavatory."

They walked silently and swiftly through the halls and up the staircase to Dumbledore's rooms.  The gargoyle opened at the password "raspberry trifle" and the moving staircase brought them to the door.  Harry now wondered if he could actually make it to the washroom.   It might just be an academic question after all.

He was pointed in the correct direction.

When he came out, relieved and washed up, Dobby was setting up a luncheon.  The house elf smiled at him as he finished ladling out two bowls of soup.  

"Better, Harry?" asked the Headmaster.  Harry could only grin with the heat of embarrassment creeping up his face.  They sat down as the elf poured tea.  With a snappy 'crack' he disappeared leaving Harry to stare at Dumbledore.  He turned his attention quickly to the thick barley and mutton soup.

"Eat," Professor Dumbledore instructed, his old voice still strong.  

"I'm sure those chocolate frogs didn't really fill you."

How did Dumbledore know about that?  He began to sip soup from his spoon while Dumbledore tore bread and dipped it into the hot liquid.  He silently hoped Snape would get something to eat, too.

Now his mind raced back over the previous night's adventures.  What would he tell the Headmaster?  The truth?  Or should he preserve Snape's ruse?  Hell, Dumbledore knew practically everything, he even knew about the breakfast frogs so he supposed there was no use in lying.  He'd just follow the Headmaster's lead.

After 15 minutes of steady eating Harry was ready to look up.  Dumbledore was sipping tea and intently studying the design on the tea cozy.  Catching his eye, they regarded one another.

"Which version?" Harry asked, noting the complete surprise in the man's eyes.

"Version?" the confusion was genuine.

Perhaps the Headmaster didn't know everything after all.

"The truth, Harry.  I always prefer the truth.  We are alone here."

Harry launched into what he and Snape had reconstructed, admitting they didn't know exactly how Lupin had actually come to be there too.  He told of his initial disbelief then delight in Severus Snape.  Even though it had been a dangerous situation, and contrary to everything he thought he knew about the professor, it had been an epiphany to both of them.  

Throughout the story Dumbledore encouraged Harry shamelessly, needing to know everything Harry knew.  Fortunately he shared more than he thought he knew.  A very close call, very close.  He had to admit to Harry he didn't know who had set them up either.  It could have been Voldemort's agent, and then again it could be one of the staff loyal to Dumbledore.  Snape was dangerous and many thought it best if he were dismissed or dead.

Harry busied himself with more tea and some dessert, a lemon cake.  He could tell Dumbledore wanted to think about his story, yet he didn't want Harry to leave quite yet. ˚ 

A second piece of cake made it onto his plate when Dobby returned to begin cleaning up.  A fresh pot of tea was placed on the table while all the dishes (except dessert) disappeared.  Harry only smiled and received a toothy grin in return as the elf worked in silence in deference to the thoughtful  man.  

"It is good to have another person who knows about Severus," Dumbledore finally allowed after the elf had left.  

"Just you and I."  He sipped his tea and looked at the cake.  

"A rather difficult situation none-the-less."

Harry could see the Headmaster was weighing his words carefully.  He knew better than to try to talk at this point;  Dumbledore would tell him only what he should know.  

"I have been stretched fairly thin lately, between running off 

to the ministry and taking care of minor crisis  elsewhere," he locked eyes with Harry.  

"You can do me a great service."  He waited a moment, judging just how much service Harry could actually do. 

"There are at least two people in this castle who continue to 

put minor curses on Severus, enough to keep him too sick to 

eat much or rest.  We know one is Mr. Malfoy," he leaned back with his tea and cradled the mug in his hands.  

"I have been regularly performing the finitus incantation on 

Severus.  Daily, in fact, when I'm here."

"Which means there are some days he goes without eating," Harry added quietly.  

"No wonder he's so thin."

Dumbledore nodded.  

"He hides it from me the best he can, he doesn't want to 

worry me.  But Harry," and here he looked completely serious, 

"we can't afford for Professor Snape to be weakened.  He 

stands between us and Voldemort.  He is one of the major 

protections because that mark on his forearm gives us 

warning of the enemy's movements.  Severus is more 

powerful than anyone in this castle, or even most of the 

wizarding community, knows.  But being sick and weakened 

by one of our own is a terrible blow.  He needs to eat.  He 

needs to sleep."

"Who else is cursing him?"  Harry asked finally.

"I'm not entirely sure.  The curses have been more and more 

frequent, sometimes twice in a day, so we  know it's one of 

the teaching staff that he regularly sees."

Harry thought on this.  

"I guess it almost doesn't matter who it is, it just has to be 

neutralized or stopped."  Dumbledore nodded.

"I can perform the counter curse for Severus when I'm in 

class.  He and I have also discussed the possibility of 

detention periods.  At least I can get to him three or four 

times a week without raising any suspicions.  Plus I have the 

invisibility cloak at my disposal if need be."

"That is the key, not raising suspicions.  Right now the curses 

are simple and distracting.  I don't want the ante raised, so 

to speak, and stronger curses brought to bear on Severus."  Dumbledore stressed the last part, 

"although at the rate things are going we're going to see 

some more tenacious curses soon."

"I can be careful," said Harry.  "But Severus is getting 

overwhelmed.  Just the fact he's let his guard down to me 

shows that."

"I know," the Headmaster shook his head.  "He is walking a 

tight line spying for us.  I can't give him all the support he 

needs, especially now, because of all the travel."

Harry sat up straight, looking him in the eye, 

"I'll do what I can.  Maybe if Dobby brings more of his meals 

to his rooms and he keeps a lower profile that will help."

Dumbledore conceded that point, 

"We talked about that;  he wanted to start skipping meals in 

the hall at least part of the time.  With midterms coming on I 

think he can start doing that.  I'll talk with Dobby."  He began to make mental notes, lining up the things that needed to be done.

"And now," he said with a warm smile, "you should return to 

your classes and your friends.  Perhaps embellish your 

adventure a bit without making Snape sound too evil."  

"No, not too evil," Harry chuckled, "just enough to sound like Professor Snape.  He stood and went downstairs.