Jumping At Shadows
According to the luminous face of the cracked muggle watch Arthur Weasley had given Harry last Christmas, it was 2am on Christmas morning and he had been lying in the hospital wing for the past14 hours. It was only a simple broken arm but without Poppy Pomfrey's presence about the place, it was really bothering him. The school nurse taking a holiday always was a rather troublesome thing and Harry had had to choose the day she left to fall down the stairs. Now, all he could do was wait, unable to sleep with his arm in the fussy muggle cast it was bound in.
With yet another sigh, Harry glanced up at the large wizard clock on the wall, which, rather similar to the clock in the Weasely household, showed the whereabouts of each and every teacher in the school. He ran through the list boredly and was slightly irritated to find that almost every single teacher was fast asleep in his or her bed… He skimmed through the other headings.
Teaching, Marking, Procrastinating, Corridors, Daily Needs, Vacation, the Forbidden Forest, Hospital, Sleeping, Travelling, Mortal Peril, Other.
…Other. What was that supposed to mean? And what were Severus Snape and Minerva McGonagall doing at 2 in the morning that couldn't be defined in any other category?
Harry glanced at the folded cloak on the table beside him- he'd been wearing it when he'd tripped down the stairs earlier, trying to slip past a particularly aggravated Peeves the Poltergeist- and it had been returned to him by Albus Dumbledore, who had chanced upon where it had fallen later that day. He frowned slightly before sitting up properly and casting a cautious glance around the almost deserted hospital. All clear… Was he really going to do this??
Harry picked up the cloak, shaking it lightly and grinning as the Marauder's Map fell from within his folds. Of course, Dumbledore would have picked that up too and seen it returned to him. With another quick look around him, Harry leaned over the piece of parchment and whispered quickly, "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good!"
At once, the piece of blank parchment sprang to life and the intricate labyrinth of hallways and staircases that was Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry appeared in miniature before his eyes. "Minerva McGonagall," he whispered, and there she was.
Her dot appeared, stationary, in a classroom that was, in fact, just down the hall from where he was now. Nothing illicit there… but if she wasn't marking, she wasn't procrastinating and she wasn't sleeping, what was she doing in a classroom at 2 am on Christmas Day? He was certain she had chambers of her own and, as it was the holidays, there was absolutely no reason for her to be in there at all… Confused, but not entirely suspicious of any sort of wrongdoing or misdemeanour –it was McGonagall, after all- Harry speedily moved onto the second teacher, whom he was infinitely more suspicious of.
"Severus Snape." Dot Number 2 flickered into existence directly on top of the first. …But that couldn't be. "Severus Snape," he whispered again and the dot flashed insistently.
Another glance around the darkened room, then- "…I can't believe I'm doing this…"
Harry stood up and tucked the map into his pants pocket reluctantly before grabbing the lamp by his bedside, pulling the cloak over to cover him and walking out the door. He was just testing whether or not the map was malfunctioning, he assured himself diligently, it's not like he'd care if Snape really was… well, on top of his head of house. …Aside from being severely grossed out, anyway.
Eventually, he reached the door to the classroom that both the Transfigurations and Potions professors supposedly occupied. There was a window set in the upper half of the doorframe and Harry had to pause for a moment to gather the courage to peek through- not really sure what he was hoping or even expecting to find.
"…Severus, did you hear that?" whispered Minerva McGonagall, receiving an amused chuckle and a smirk by way of a reply from the man whose pyjama shirt front was clutched in her little white fists.
"You're paranoid, Minerva," he muttered, shaking his head in amusement. "And the idea that someone like you could be scared enough of anything to come running to me in the middle of the night is really quite-"
"Shh!!" Minerva exclaimed softly. "I definitely heard something that time!"
The first of the tiny little noises that the poor anxious professor had heard had been Harry fishing around his pockets for, and unwrapping, one of Fred and George's extendable ears, the second being him scampering away from the window as McGonagall turned her head to look out it. Now, he peered back through, and paused to take the situation in properly…
Minerva McGonagall was standing by the window, clutching Snape to her chest desperately. She was frightened and afraid and he was laughing at her? A sudden and familiar rush of hatred for the greasy haired ex-Death Eater surged to life in Harry's chest as he watched, but what came next made him begin to doubt whether or not it could actually even be the real Snape in there. It was that bizarre.
Severus pulled Minerva closer and wrapped his arms around her gently. "You've had a fright and your poor little heart is palpitating wildly…" he told her calmly, a hand delving beneath the folds of her robe to rest atop her heaving chest. "It's all in your head, I promise. It was just a dream."
"Severus…" Minerva closed her eyes and returned the embrace needily. "Thank you…"
The two continued to whisper sweetly to each other and, still standing and, watching from outside, Harry was feeling rather as though he had outstayed his welcome. He knew that McGonagall -a woman whom he cared for deeply, almost the way in which a son loves his mother- was in a bad way right now. She was upset and scared and vulnerable… but she was in safe hands. Even if they were Snape's and probably covered in frog juice.
As he turned to walk away, however, a hand clapped onto his shoulder and held him there firmly. "Harry Potter."
Realising that his cloak had slipped slightly, Harry knew that he was caught and turned around to face the man behind him. "I'm sorry, sir, I just-"
Dumbledore pushed Harry away from the door gently and peered through the window himself, just in time to see his deputy press her pale pink lips to those of his potions professor. He chuckled lightly. "Come, Harry. I think we should go in and ask Professor Snape if he has a sleeping draught for you, eh?"
Harry's eyes widened as the headmaster opened the door and stepped inside, but managed to follow obediently.
"Sorry to disturb you both," he said cheerfully, drawing the pair's attention to him and grinning wider as both started blushing fervently. "But Mr Potter is having a little trouble sleeping and we were wonder if Professor Snape might have a simple sleeping draught made up downstairs?"
Snape's eyes narrowed slightly at Harry, who nodded quickly. "…Come on then, Potter. I'll see what I can do."
"Again, sorry for interrupting!!" Dumbledore called after them cheerfully, before turning to McGonagall.
Minerva, who had taken this opportunity to tidy herself up a little, met the headmaster's eyes bravely.
"Are you quite alright, Minerva?" he asked wonderingly. "You look rather frightful."
"A nightmare, sir," she replied firmly. "Nothing more. In fact, it's quite ridiculous that I should even-"
"No fear is ridiculous, Minerva. I am sure that you were well within your rights to be afraid," Albus assured her with a bright-eyed smile. "In any case, it is a good thing that Severus was nearby, ne?"
"Ah, yes, indeed, sir…" Minerva agreed, blushing deeply. "A good thing indeed…"
Dumbledore smiled understandingly and petted her on the shoulder. "The two of you make an absolutely charming couple," he assured her sincerely.
"Thank you, sir..."
"Ah! And here he comes now! Splendid timing, don't you think?"
Minerva looked up quickly, just in time to see the door open and Severus Snape stride back into the room purposefully.
"Potter is asleep in the infirmary once again," he declared, seeming so uncharacteristically flustered all of a sudden that Minerva had to wonder what Harry has said to him before he'd been put to bed.
"Then I'd best be off to bed as well," Albus replied heartily. "Goodnight you two- and try to get some sleep!!"
The two of them blushed as he left and turned to each other, unsure of quite what they were supposed to say.
"You're all right now, I suppose?" Severus settled for asking a few moments later.
"Yes, I'm fine," Minerva agreed truthfully. "You were… a big help. Thank you."
Severus grinned- his cocky smile masking his relief. "Good… but next time I'll have to take points off Griffindor for fraternizing with the enemy."
A sharp crack followed that statement and a suddenly the tension in the atmosphere had completely disapperated on Minerva's part and been replaced with equal smugness and amusement as she trotted out the door in her favourite tartan nightgown, leaving behind her a particularly greasy frog with a black eye… but who would guess that same frog would find its way into her bed that very same night?