Severus hadn't been in the hospital wing and confined to his bed for more than a day before he started to go stir crazy. He sat up in his bed scowling at Poppy with his arms crossed over his chest. "Poppy, I am not a foolish twelve year old boy. I am a responsible adult. I think I can manage to take care of myself in my own quarters."
"Is that so?" Poppy questioned, amused. "If your past is any indication, I think not." She turned back to Harry's bed and finished fixing his blanket. "Severus, in all seriousness, someone needs to watch over you. You've had a concussion. Besides, we're still not sure of all the effects those unknown curses have on you."
"Fine," Severus huffed, because he knew her statement was actually true. He looked over at Harry with indecision. "What if you move me to the professors' wing?"
Poppy looked over her shoulder to Severus. "I do not trust you to stay."
Though he was glad for that answer, since he truly wanted to stay as close as possible to Harry, he dropped his hands down on to the mattress as loud as he could. "Can you at least spare me some dignity and put up curtains around my bed, please? It will not due for students to see me in this condition, and in hospital pajamas, no less."
Having finished up with Harry, Poppy walked over to Severus' bed. "The school is almost empty. There is no need."
"Are there still students residing in this castle?" Severus asked, with an eyebrow raised.
Poppy rolled her eyes. "You better not force me in to putting up a monitoring spell over your bed." She pulled out her wand and three cream colored curtains on wheels came rolling out of the storeroom. "I swear, Severus. With the way you're behaving, I'm actually surprised you let the students see you eat."
Severus watched in satisfaction as the curtains surrounded his bed while ignoring her jab at him. He frowned at the medi-witch, however, when the curtain on his right blocked his view of Harry.
Reading the look on Severus' face, Poppy charmed the offending curtain with a one-way view. This allowed the potions master a full view of Harry from the inside while anyone on the outside would see just a solid curtain.
"Thank you, Poppy," Severus said in appreciation a few seconds later.
Replacing her wand and without a word, Poppy left Severus' bed and returned to her office.
Later that night, after a dinner of stew and crusty bread, Severus sat reading one of his novels that Poppy had a house elf fetch earlier. He had just begun reading a new chapter when the hospital wing doors squeaked open, disturbing the peaceful quiet. Severus glanced up from his book and looked towards Harry and the room's windows. By the placement of the moonlight filtering through the windows, it looked to be right around curfew. Hearing two different sets of footsteps, Severus marked his page and set the book aside, curious as to who was visiting the wing.
His gaze followed the path of the footsteps, even though he couldn't see the visitors. They both stopped in the direction of the right side of his bed. A moment later, Severus was able to see the headmaster and transfiguration professor at Harry's bedside. Poppy joined the two a few seconds later.
"Can we assume there hasn't been any change Poppy?" Minerva asked.
Severus didn't hear Poppy's response. He was too busy trying to keep himself in his bed. If he didn't care about his future, he would have walked over to McGonagall and cursed her. But not before giving her a piece of his mind. If she had been more responsible for her students, Harry wouldn't be in the position he was currently in.
As he was going through all the different curses he could throw at her, each more evil then the next, the words 'more responsible' kept making an appearance in his mind. He looked sadly at Harry; the boy still as pale as his pillow.
More responsible. Severus felt like he got kicked in the stomach. It was his fault Harry was lying a few feet away from him in a coma. If he had been the adult, had truly spoken to Harry and actually listened to what Harry was saying on the occasions they had talked, and had replaced all his altered memories months ago, none of this might have happened.
Since he couldn't seem to do anything right, maybe it was a good thing Harry ended up rejecting him. Maybe he was better off watching out for Harry from the sidelines, having had that role during the boy's first five years at Hogwarts. Harry seemed to have fared fairly well without any interference from him. Well, except for trying to save the sorcerers' stone, going down into the chamber of secrets, chasing after an escaped convict, the fiasco at the Ministry of Magic. Severus shook his head. He'd have to watch out a little bit better in the future.
It was then that he noticed that the wing was peacefully quiet again. Standing up, he slipped to one of the corners of the curtains and peered out. The room was empty. Glad, he returned to his bed and continued reading.
He got through two paragraphs before he slammed the book back down. Watching Harry from the sidelines wouldn't be good enough. There was no way in hell he'd allow Harry to go back to the Dursleys. And that would definitely happen if he didn't officially call Harry his own.
Severus spent his remaining waking hours that night trying to come up with a way to get Harry to talk to him again. They really had some important issues to discuss whether the boy liked it or not.
"Well?" Severus asked in slight anticipation, sounding like a second year after asking his parents if he could try out for Quidditch. "What's the verdict?"
Poppy put her wand away and smiled at Severus. "You'll be happy to know that you are no longer confined to this bed or in need of the hospital wing. You are free to return to your quarters at any time."
Severus looked over at Harry and then back to the medi-witch before responding. "Thank you, Poppy."
Nodding her head, Poppy turned around and returned to her quarters which were on the other side of her office.
Normally he couldn't wait to be out of the hospital wing, but for the first time in his life, Severus had no desire to leave. It had been three days since the attack on Hogsmeade; three days since Harry was brought to the hospital wing in a coma with no sign of improving. Slowly, Severus got out of the bed and walked over to Harry's bedside. He pulled a chair over to the head and just sat there staring at the boy, willing him to wake up.
A few minutes later the sound of the door opening and closing behind him could be heard, but Severus' eyes remained fixed on Harry. He no longer had an interest in who was visiting the wing.
"Any change in Harry?" the visitor asked.
"No," Severus answered quietly. He then finally looked up as the visitor stood on the opposite side of Harry's bed. "How are you doing, Remus? I hope that spell didn't cause any harm."
Remus gave Severus a warm smile. "Don't worry about me. I've had much worse." Following Severus' gaze, he looked down to Harry. "I'm more worried about Harry. And you," he added after a pause.
Severus looked up in surprise.
"Poppy's told me she's had a hard time getting you to eat and sleep, Severus. All you've been doing is lying in bed watching Harry."
Severus swallowed. "He needs to wake up." He put a hand on top of Harry's.
"And what good will that do if he's awake and you're sick? He needs you healthy, Severus, for when he gets out of this."
"I know," Severus whispered, "but I don't dare leave him. What if he wakes up and I'm not here?"
"Why don't you just come down to the Great Hall and have some lunch. Harry's been in this state for three days. What will being gone for forty minutes hurt? If there's any change in Harry, I'm sure Poppy will notify you immediately."
Knowing he couldn't afford to get ill, Severus gave Harry's hand a gentle squeeze and after speaking with Poppy, reluctantly followed the man out of the hospital wing and down to the Great Hall.
Fifty minutes later, after having eaten and been convinced to take a shower and change clothes, Severus was seated again at Harry's bedside. "I am so sorry, Harry. I didn't mean for this to happen. Please wake up," he murmured while running a hand through Harry's hair. He then took the boy's cold hand in his own.
Not long after, the exertion he'd put his body through that afternoon, along with his lack of sleep, began to take its toll. Severus yawned as his eyelids began to get heavy. Laying his head next to their combined hands, he fell asleep.
Harry lolled his head from side to side and slowly began to wake up. It took him only seconds to realize that he was in the hospital wing. He closed his eyes and almost groaned in response. He always seemed to wake up in the hospital wing. Most occasions he knew why he had arrived, but not this time.
Having been notified by the spell she placed over Harry to alert her when he woke up, Poppy rushed out of her office seconds later grinning madly. "Wonderful, Mr. Potter. You're finally awake."
"How did I get here?" he asked, his voice rough and quiet. He tried to scoot up in bed, but Poppy gently pushed him back down. "The last thing I remember is standing up to Voldemort." He coughed a few times then cleared his throat.
"Stay still, Mr. Potter. I'd rather you not move around so much right now." She handed him a glass of water. "Some Aurors brought you here after finding you in Hogsmeade."
"Oh." After taking a few sips of water through a straw, he handed the glass back. "What day is it?"
Poppy ran her wand over Harry to determine what remained of his injuries. "It is Wednesday evening. And before you ask, you'll be here until at least Saturday."
"Okay," Harry said, his voice still quiet, almost like it took too much energy to talk. As much as he hated the hospital wing, he would rather stay here and be alone then back in his tower surrounded by his classmates who stayed at the castle for the weeklong break. Pulling the covers up closer to his chin, he winced at the pain the action caused. "What's wrong with me?"
"Well, you've been in a coma since you were brought here Saturday afternoon. That was our main worry. Now you just have a major case of exhaustion and a lot of lacerations and broken bones that are on the mend. Unfortunately a few of those bones are your ribs and those will take just a little more time to heal properly."
Harry thought back to the last moments he remembered in Hogsmeade. "Could almost all of those injuries be because of curses?"
"I would say yes. It is because of those curses that not all of your injuries are being healed with magic. I didn't want to take any chances of things going wrong."
Harry nodded. That would definitely explain why it felt like all his bones were being broken when he was being cursed by Voldemort and why he was still hurting.
Poppy waved her wand again and a bowl of broth and a glass of pumpkin juice appeared on a tray which she levitated to Harry's lap. "You are probably not all that hungry, but I really would like you to try and eat a little bit. Nutrient potions spelled into your system can only do so much. I'll be in my office, but if you need me, just ring the bell that's next to your bed."
"Okay. Thanks." Once the medi-witch was gone, Harry just stared at the bowl of soup. He wasn't the slightest bit interested in eating. Not caring what would happen, he put the tray aside, and turned onto his side facing the wall.
Staring at the wall, he tried to determine what went wrong. The last thing he remembered was the killing curse being cast, and he didn't think it came from his mouth. By all rights he should not be alive and in this bed. He took a shuddering breath and cursed his luck. Not that he was truly suicidal, but he had hoped everything would have ended right there.
Now what was he to do? He'd be forced to go back and live with the Dursleys. Remus was dead and Snape was no longer his father. And even if he still was, there would be no way he'd want to have that relationship with the man. Not after he killed Remus. Snape should actually be locked up in Azkaban for it. Harry smiled at the thought that maybe Snape never even made it out of the attack alive.
Thirty minutes later, after an admonishing from Madam Pomfrey, Harry grudgingly ate the bowl of broth. Once finished, he returned to lying on his side and eventually fell asleep.
By early Wednesday, Severus realized he had to keep himself busy to stay sane. Hanging around the hospital wing waiting for Harry to wake up wasn't doing anyone any good. Besides, he knew he would be the last person Harry would want to see when he woke up. He was driving himself, along with Poppy, absolutely crazy. Deciding it best for all parties involved, Severus left the hospital wing and returned to his quarters to get back to his normal routine. He did decide to set aside some time to visit the hospital wing for a few hours in the late evenings to check up on the boy though.
Wednesday evening after dinner, Severus decided to stroll through the castle. Halfway up the stairs to the astronomy tower he heard a pop and the hospital wing house elf appeared, handed him a letter and then disappeared. Severus opened the parchment and read the short note. With the note clutched in his hand, he quickly turned around and headed to the hospital wing.
Not more than five minutes later, he was walking through the doors and on his way to Harry's bed. Poppy was standing at the foot reading through the boy's medical records.
"He's awake?" Severus questioned, looking at Harry asleep on the bed. "Are you sure?"
"Yes, Severus. He woke up about two hours ago. I had him eat some broth and when he was done, he fell asleep."
Severus studied the boy in front of him. He looked just like he did over the past few days. With a bit of fear, he looked at Poppy. "But how do you…"
"Relax. He did not go back into a coma. He is just asleep."
Severus let out a deep breath at the news. "How is he doing? Will he be okay? Will he have any lasting effects from the curses or coma?"
Poppy replaced Harry's file at the foot of the bed. "Aside from malnutrition and exhaustion, not to mention the mending of all his broken bones and lacerations, he is well. I will be keeping him here until Saturday for observation and to make sure he is completely healed. I don't anticipate any further complications after he is released, however I will have him return to me with anything unusual or out of the ordinary."
Severus breathed a sigh of relief. "That is good to hear."
"Would you like me to notify you when he wakes up again? I am sure you have plenty of things to discuss with him.
With his stomach twisting almost painfully, Severus looked to Harry. "No," he choked out. "I think it best if I don't return when he is awake."
Poppy looked at the professor with confusion. "Are you sure? I thought you would have liked to talk to him."
"I am sure, Poppy. But please continue to keep me updated on his progress."
"Of course." Before Poppy could utter another word, the fireplace in her office sprang to life. "Excuse me, Severus. I'm expecting a fire call from St. Mungo's."
Severus nodded. Once Poppy was back in her office, he walked to the head of Harry's bed and gently ran a hand through the boy's hair. A few seconds later he turned around and quickly left the hospital wing.
Waiting expectantly for some of his housemates to visit, Harry scooted to a sitting position and retrieved his glasses when he heard the hospital wing doors open. At the sight of his Head of House walking in his direction, he sunk back dejectedly.
McGonagall approached Harry's bed. "Good afternoon, Mr. Potter. How are you feeling this fine Thursday afternoon?"
Harry shrugged. "Okay I guess."
"That is good news." She smiled and placed the items in her arms onto the side table. "Madam Pomfrey has given her okay for you to begin your holiday homework and partake in any recreational reading you would like."
That being the last thing Harry wanted to hear, he glowered at the items that had been set next to him.
"Don't make that face Mr. Potter. You know you are not excused from completing your assignments. There are still a few days until term resumes so you should have plenty of time to relax and complete your homework."
"Yes ma'am." Harry sunk even farther down into his bed.
"If there is anything else you find you need from your dorm, please let Madam Pomfrey know. I'll leave you to it then," McGonagall stated after Harry nodded, then turned and left.
Harry glanced at the stack of books and groaned. It was then he remembered his friends had gone home for the week long vacation. Turning away from the offending items on the table, he closed his eyes and eventually fell asleep.
For the rest of the week, Severus continued with his normal routine and received updates on Harry's progress every morning. Thursday and Friday night, when he was certain Harry would be sleeping, he ventured up to the hospital wing and spent some time just sitting at his bedside. Friday night he spent almost five hours there knowing it would be the last time he would probably ever get to be with Harry. He was not looking forward to the boy being released the next day.
Saturday morning, while eating his breakfast in the Great Hall, one of the school owls dropped a note in his scrambled eggs. Scowling, he wiped the parchment on his napkin and unfolded it to read.
Having just run a diagnostic on Harry, I have decided to keep him in the hospital wing until Sunday morning. There is no need to be alarmed. He is just not as recovered as I had hoped he would be. He's still slightly exhausted.
Severus crumpled up the parchment and it was then that he finally looked out at the students in the room and noticed Harry was not among them. He had been reluctant to see the boy so he never looked around the room after he entered.
Even though Poppy said there was nothing to worry about, Severus couldn't help but do just that. It was only natural after what Harry had been through last week. Trying to ignore his feelings, Severus quickly finished his breakfast and went down to his lab. Brewing usually put his mind at ease. He only hoped it worked this time.
Harry stood just outside the doors of the Great Hall Sunday morning, not yet ready to go in. No doubt his friends had heard about the attack on Hogsmeade and would want to know what he knew. He just didn't want to talk about it.
"Hi Harry!" Neville exclaimed as he walked up behind Harry. "What are you standing out here for? Come on."
Reluctantly, Harry followed Neville into the large room and to their table. Though he still wasn't all that hungry, he grabbed a bowl and took a few scoops of oatmeal. Between bites, he decided it would be best to just act normal and hope the subject of Hogsmeade was never mentioned. "How was your break Neville? Did you do anything fun?"
Neville swallowed his food before answering. "It wasn't all that bad. I did have to do my homework and some things around the house, but Gram also decided to take me to London. We spent a few days there."
"What did you see and do in London?"
"We actually took a Muggle river tour of the city. It actually surprised me. I never thought she'd want to do anything Muggle." Neville stopped talking and munched on a piece of bacon. "You really need to go on one of those Harry. You'd be in awe of all the things there are to see. So what did you do while stuck here all week?"
At Neville's mention of the river cruise, Harry's eyes had been immediately drawn up to the head table as he remembered the river tour he took with Severus months ago. His eyes went wide and he began to turn pale at what he saw. Sitting in his usual spot to the headmasters left, was Professor Lupin.
At the lack of response from Harry, Neville looked over at him. "Harry, are you okay?" he asked at seeing how pale Harry was. "Harry?" When he still didn't get a response, Neville followed Harry's gaze hoping to see what had his friend's complete attention, but he didn't see anything out of the ordinary. "What's wrong Harry?" He waved a hand in front of Harry's eyes to get his attention.
Seeing the hand, Harry finally looked over to Neville.
"Are you okay?" Neville asked again.
"I…" He paused and looked back up to the head table knowing he couldn't be seeing what he was seeing. Lupin was dead. "Sorry. I don't feel good." He stood up and rushed out of hall. He could not be seeing what he was seeing. Maybe the medi-witch missed something. Maybe one of the spells Voldemort cast on him made him hallucinate. Wanting to get up to the hospital wing as soon as possible to keep his promise to Madam Pomfrey, he began running for the stairs.
He burst through the doors of the hospital wing a few minutes later. "Madam Pomfrey! Madam Pomfrey!" he yelled, extremely worried. "I think one of the curses that hit me is causing hallucinations. I know someone to be dead, but I just saw them in the Great Hall. Madam Pomfrey!"
"What is all this racket?" Severus asked, coming out of the storage closet and locking it closed behind him. "This is a hospital wing, not a Quidditch pitch."
Skidding to a stop, Harry slowly turned around at the sound of the voice. He stared up at the professor and gulped audibly. This was the last person he wanted to see. "Where is Madam Pomfrey?" he asked angrily.
"I'm right here, Mr. Potter," she answered coming out of her office. "What has you so agitated?"
"Can we please go to your office, Madam Pomfrey? I don't want to talk in front of him." He glared at Snape then turned and faced the medi-witch.
"I do not tolerate that type of speech, Mr. Potter," Poppy admonished. "I haven't done it in years, but I will take house points."
Harry shrugged his shoulders in response, not too sure what had gotten in to him.
"Mr. Potter, you are on very thin ice," Severus said, moving a few paces closer to Harry. "That being the case, I feel it best if you stay right here and answer Madam Pomfrey's question. I am not going anywhere."
In anger, Harry crossed his arms over his chest and stayed quiet. He really wanted to speak with the medi-witch about what he had seen, but he wasn't going to the give the professor the satisfaction of doing anything that he told him to do.
Severus was now standing right next to Harry. "You have to the count of three to start speaking, Mr. Potter. Unless you'd like to have Gryffindor lose twenty house points."
"Fine," he said, glaring again at the professor then looking away. "Madam Pomfrey, I think one of the curses that hit me is causing me to have hallucinations."
She pulled out her wand and began a diagnostic on Harry. "What makes you say that, Mr. Potter?"
"Well, I saw someone I know to be dead sitting down for breakfast in the Great Hall." He began to turn pale again as he remembered seeing Professor Lupin taking a sip of coffee at the head table only minutes before.
Noticing Harry was slightly wavering where he stood, Poppy put a hand to his shoulder and steered him to the nearest bed. "Who do you think you saw?"
Harry sat on the bed staring at his lap. "Professor Lupin."
At those words, Madam Pomfrey and Severus exchanged quick glances.
"But it couldn't have been the professor," Harry continued. "I watched him die. By his hands," he yelled, pointing at Snape.
"Mr. Potter, I am afraid…" Poppy began before Severus cut her off.
"Poppy, don't you have an appointment with the Headmaster?" Severus asked, an eyebrow raised.
"Oh yes," she nodded in understanding. "Thank you Severus. I completely forgot." She put her wand back in her pocket and began walking away from Harry.
"But what about the curse? What about what I saw?" Harry questioned in disbelief then jumped out of the bed. "You told me to come to you if I experienced anything unusual. Well, I've come to you like you asked and now you're dismissing it and me?"
"No need to work yourself up, Mr. Potter. Just because I have to leave doesn't mean you or what you've experienced is being dismissed." Poppy stopped walking when she met Severus' side. "Professor Snape is fully aware of your condition and I believe the best person to answer your questions."
Harry looked horror struck. He almost asked how the professor knew about his condition, but decided he truly didn't want to know. "But I came to you, not him. Besides, he's the one that killed him. I am not speaking to him."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Potter, but I cannot help you. I need to get to the Headmaster's office immediately. I'm late as it is." She turned to Severus. "Thank you for bringing up those potions you brewed for me, Severus." She then swept out of the wing.
Harry stared at the hospital wing doors in disbelief. How could the medi-witch just leave him like that? Well one thing was certain. He was not going to talk to Lupin's murderer. Quickly he began to head for the doors. He'd just come back to speak with the medi-witch later.
"Where do you think you are going, Mr. Potter?" Severus asked as he put a hand on Harry's arm to stop him from leaving.
"Let go of me," Harry yelled, struggling against the grip on his arm. "I am not talking to you. You're the one who should be dead. Not him. Get away from me, Snape!" he screamed, while trying to pull his arm out of the man's grasp.
Taking a deep breath, Severus closed his eyes and ran his free hand over his face. Ignoring Harry's protests, he led Harry to one of the beds, the grip on the boy's arm tightening.
Harry tried yanking his arm back. "Let me go!" Not wanting to be led back to the beds, he dug his heels into the stone floor and continued struggling against the grip on his arm. "You killed him," he accused. "I saw you do it. You belong in Azkaban. You're a murderer! Why would I want to talk to you?"
Fed up with Harry's antics, Severus shook the boy's arm once. "Enough, Harry."
At his first name being used, Harry stopped struggling and stared at the professor. The man had switched out his memories about a week ago. Remus had told him so. Why did the professor call him by his first name?
"You are not leaving this room until we have talked." Without any resistance, Severus brought Harry to one of the beds and made him sit down. "You will sit here until you talk."
With arms crossed over his chest and a scowl on his face, Harry sat on the bed and stared at the floor. The professor could stand there all day, for all he cared. He was not going to speak.
Knowing the boy's stubbornness, Severus grabbed a chair from the side of one of the other beds, plonked it down in front of Harry and took a seat. "I can sit here all day. Can you?"
At those words, Harry's stomach growled. It was then that he realized he hadn't really eaten any breakfast. Well, he'd gone through days without meals at the Dursleys. He could certainly handle missing one or two meals today.
Smirking, Severus summoned one of Poppy's magazines and flipped it open. While pretending to read, he took to observing the boy with obvious concern. He knew Harry was not hallucinating, but he wasn't sure if the boy's attitude was because of a curse.
"Why did you do it? Why did you kill Remus?" Harry asked quietly a few minutes later, the hurt very noticeable in his voice. All his previous anger had since disappeared. "He was the only adult I could count on." Harry knew that statement was a lie; Lupin's actions towards him over the past few months were proof of that. However he couldn't help adding that last statement.
Severus felt like he got kicked in the stomach after hearing Harry's last comment. Did the boy truly think he had no adult to count on? "You had me to…" Severus stopped himself as realization of his actions towards Harry the last month or so came to his mind. Harry hadn't had anyone to count on. Clearing his throat, Severus decided to return the question. "Why do you think I killed Remus?"
Harry whipped his head over to Severus in astonishment. "You're joking right? I saw you. Both of you were at the back of the alleyway behind Honeydukes. I saw you lift your wand to him and cast the killing curse. Lupin dropped to the ground seconds later." He swallowed painfully as the scene replayed in his mind. "And then you had the audacity to laugh about it with another death eater." He paused as his earlier anger returned. "Why did you do it?"
"Harry," Severus began, closing the magazine and setting it on the bed behind him.
"No. Stop. Stop calling me that. Why are you calling me that?"
Severus didn't want to get into that discussion so he ignored the question. "You should not have seen that. You were not even supposed to be in Hogsmeade. How do you think I would have felt if…" Severus again stopped himself.
Harry realized that was the second time Snape stopped himself from saying something that had to possibly be about the two of them. He looked at the professor a little curious.
"Remus is not dead," Severus finally answered. Taking a chance, he got up from the chair and sat down on the bed next to Harry.
"He is. I saw…"
"I know what you saw, Harry, but Remus is alive. It was all an act."
"I don't understand." He looked at the professor in confusion, not truly realizing the man was now sitting right next to him.
"I won't go into detail, but my loyalty to the Dark Lord was in question. I had to prove my allegiance was to him. It was all an act."
Harry sagged in relief, unconsciously leaning against the professor. "So I'm not hallucinating. I really did see Lupin in the Great Hall?"
"Yes you did. And he's perfectly fine." Severus put an arm around Harry and pulled him closer to his side. When Harry didn't immediately pull away, he began to feel hopeful.
"That's good," Harry whispered happily, and closed his eyes sinking further into Severus' side. Remus was alive. Snape wasn't a murderer. He could go back to having a father again. But then he remembered that the man had removed and destroyed all his real memories of the both of them. The professor didn't want him. At that realization, his eyes flew open and he took in his current position. He was lying against the professor with the man's arm around him. He stiffened immediately.
Noticing the change in Harry, Severus looked down in concern.
"This isn't real," Harry whispered to himself, shaking his head back and forth. "It's a dream. It's just like the others. As much as I want it, it's not real. It never will be," he added sadly.
All the air rushed out of Severus' lungs at Harry's quiet statement. Harry still wanted him in his life; still wanted to be sitting next to him like this. He never thought he'd get the opportunity again. Severus' eyes prickled painfully and he felt tears building, but did nothing to stop them.
Harry felt the arm around him tighten and his throat constricted immediately. "It's just a dream," he choked out and dropped his head.
"It is not," Severus responded quietly but roughly, while removing his arm from around Harry and standing up to face him.
Harry slowly looked up and was startled by what he saw. Aside from the memories he'd seen in the pensive, he'd never seen the professor look so emotional. The man was even trying to hold back tears. "Dad?" he questioned hopefully.
Severus nodded his head, his heart constricting painfully in his chest at Harry's question. "Yes," he answered in a strangled voice.
At that word, Harry flew out of the bed and into Severus, wrapping his arms around him tightly. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry for what I said in your office when you got called. I didn't mean it," he cried. "I didn't mean any of it."
Relishing in the feeling of Harry in his arms again, he tightened his hold of the boy and rested his chin on top of his head. "Shh!," he whispered. "Don't worry about any of it right now."
When Harry's stomach growled a minute later, Severus chuckled and moved out of the embrace. He held Harry at arm's length and just looked at him. The boy had a huge grin on his face with tears streaking down both cheeks. "I think it's time you ate breakfast."
Harry's face fell. "But I just got you again." He sniffed and ran a hand under his runny nose. "I don't want to leave you."
"Oh Harry," Severus said, feeling his heart constrict again. He reached into his pocket, pulled out a handkerchief and gently wiped the tears off of Harry's face.
Harry closed his eyes, savoring in the feeling of the small gesture.
Severus shook his head. "You silly boy. We're going to our quarters. I need to eat as well." He handed the handkerchief to Harry when the boy gave a loud sniff again. "Blow your nose."
After Harry obliged, he put a hand to the boy's shoulder and led him out into the corridor and toward their quarters. "After we are done eating, we need to have a serious discussion."
Harry gulped in slight fear. "Okay." He had a hunch the discussion wouldn't be pleasant, but all he cared about at the moment was the feeling of the professor's hand, his dad's hand, on his shoulder.
I know...I know. It's been ages since an update. Believe me, I have been writing. I can't tell you how many times parts of this chapter had been rewritten. Hope everyone likes it. Happy Labor Day!
As always, thanks for all the wonderful reviews!