Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.
Note: This is my first actual comfort story. It features Harry in his first year and I was struggling so much with the young and tender age of our Mr Potter that I couldn't bring myself to make it slash. So here we go, let's begin. I always write slash but this isn't one.
Summary: Having managed to find the courage to ask for his book back from Professor Snape, Harry learns that there is a reason everybody fears the Potions Master but can one first year see through his mask of fear to see a teacher he can confide in?
Warnings: none that I can think of. Except for AU warning.
Timeline: takes place after Harry discovers Snape's leg being wounded by fluffy and his first Quidditch match.
Title: Unjust fear.
Harry James Potter slowly slouched his way to the dungeons. He had managed to talk his best friends Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger out of coming with him. He needed his book back. Just anything to take his mind of the next Quidditch game. The last one had been a disaster
He had asked for the book back before but the look on the face of his Potions Master and the ordered, "GET OUT!", had made him retreat faster than whenever Dudley was chasing him. But he still wanted his book back and if it meant going down to the dungeons to ask, beg or even work for it, well then so be it.
Harry sighed and steeled himself as he tossed his shoulders back and lifted his head high, he could do this. This was what he was good at, asking for things in a humble way; if anything had been taught to him at the Dursleys it had been to act humble, even when he meant nothing by it.
He walked past the Potions classroom and ahead to the office that lay beyond. Was he really sure about this? His head throbbed for a moment and Harry remembered the way his broom had bucked underneath him.
He knew he might be in terrible danger from Snape but he wasn't afraid of the man. He would show Snape that he didn't need to fear the man, even if Snape had hexed him during the Quidditch match that had probably been done to make Slytherin win the Quidditch cup.
Harry shook his head; he needed his wits about him now. His hand tightened on his wand in the pocket of his robe as he summoned all of his Gryffindor courage to do the unthinkable, to ask Professor Snape for a favour.
For a moment he thought back on asking things from his family, things he would never get but he knew how to ask and in such a way that they couldn't refuse him and surely Professor Snape was more reasonable than uncle Vernon, despite his loathing of Harry since the first Potions class.
Harry still didn't know what he had done wrong. He had thought that Potions was going to be the one subject he would get right, despite his muggle schooling. He had always been fairly decent in school when there was chemistry so he had hoped that Potions would be similar but like every other subject at Hogwarts, it was hard, extremely hard and not to mention learning to live in a dorm with other people, learning to write with a quill and coming to term with everybody forming an opinion about him without even getting to know him.
He had hoped that his teachers would be different but it didn't seem so. They all expected great things from him, everybody except Professor Snape it seemed. Harry sighed again and then, before he could change his mind he knocked on the door.
There was a moment of silence, in which Harry chewed his lip and hoped that Snape wasn't going to be there. The next moment a loud curse sounded and Harry flinched. It seemed he had come at a bad time, could he perhaps sneak away before Snape would reach the door? But then…
"Enter." The deep baritone of his teacher sounded and Harry took another deep breath as he pushed open the door and stepped inside.
The dungeon office was circular with many unpleasant things floating around in slime or water on shelves. There were some book shelves and a narrow desk at which Snape was sitting. There were several chairs that looked like they came from the Potions lab and the sneer that welcomed him made Harry swallow thickly.
One chair was standing right next to Snape's desk and the older wizard was quickly pulling his black trouser leg down to cover his mangled leg, Harry had seen it before but he had expected it to be healed up by now. He quickly tore his gaze away with a small blush as he met the narrowed black eyes.
The dark greasy hair hung to Snape's broad shoulders as the black eyes bore into Harry's green ones. The Professor tugged his robe back down and said with a sneer of the thin lips. "And what brings you down here to my humble office, Potter?"
"I was….I wanted to…."
"Speech is hard, isn't it, Potter?"
Harry balled his fist around his wand as he said. "I wanted to ask if I could have my book back, sir. Quidditch Through The Ages, you confiscated it a couple of days ago before the Quidditch match."
"And why would I give it back to you, Potter? Last time I looked you could fly remarkably well."
Harry was shaking with rage suddenly. All he wanted was his book back, just one simple thing, was that so hard? Snape was studying him and then snarled. "Tell me why, boy, I should give that book back when I confiscated it with a good reason. You don't bring library books out onto the grounds and then you come into the Staff Room when you have been told explicitly not to by your Head of House no less! Or didn't Professor McGonagall tell you that the staff room is only for staff members and last time I checked you were still a student, Potter, no matter what little notions you might have gotten in that head of yours. If you had been in Slytherin…."
"I nearly was so you can get off on the notion that you safely escaped being my Head of House!" Harry snapped even before he was aware of what he had said. The moment he did he could have slapped himself and he placed his hands in front of his mouth in shock.
What had he been thinking? The last time he had said such a thing in front of Uncle Vernon, he had been sent to his cupboard for three days straight. And now he showed such cheek in front of a teacher, he would never get his book back like this.
He glanced up at Snape to see that his teacher had rose fury in his face, though his mouth twitched upwards for a moment as if Snape couldn't suppress triumph. Harry was rooted to the spot as Snape rounded the desk and said in a deadly soft voice.
"And this is how you think you will get your book back, Potter? By cheek and insulting me? I don't know what sort of family you grew up in but this kind of cheek is normally punished severely….though I suspect that given your parentage, it is…."
"Yeah, three days in the cupboard without food wouldn't be punishment enough for Uncle Vernon, usually a belt too if he considered it to be dirty enough to be wasted on me…." Harry muttered softly under his breath.
"Potter, have you learned absolutely no manners that you don't even know when to keep your mouth shut when an adult is talking?" Snape snapped suddenly and Harry was shaken roughly by his shoulder as he refocused to see his teacher standing in front of him.
Harry flinched away, the close proximity of Snape and him being startled was too much as he tried to mask him taking a step backwards by doing something else but it seemed that he was failing. Snape was staring at him but Harry's nose caught the smell of blood, a smell he was familiar with because of the many times he'd had to deal with his own wounds.
"Professor?" He managed to squeak after a moment and Snape glanced down at his own leg. He cursed and straightened when he noticed the dark strain spreading over his robe. The teacher stood and then said with a warning glance at Harry.
"Move one inch, Potter and I will use your entrails for Potion ingredients. We will discuss your punishment for your cheek in a moment."
Harry merely gave a nod as he watched as Snape went through a different door and he focussed his attention around the office rather then his own gloomy thoughts. He steadied the things floating in the glasses with narrowed eyes; he could barely focus upon them with his bad eyesight and the poor light in the dungeon.
He sighed and glanced around the other wall, where the books stood. His book wasn't in there and he wondered if he knew where it was, he could snatch it and run but no, Snape wouldn't let him, probably. The man had already cursed him for fear of winning the Quidditch game so what else was Snape capable off?
Harry flinched badly when Snape's voice suddenly came and he turned to see his teacher standing with his wand in hand and his robes open, revealing dark trousers and a dark shirt underneath.
The dark eyes bore into Harry's green ones and the messy haired teenager took a step back as he blurted out. "I am sorry, sir for what I…."
"Silence!" Snape boomed as Harry swallowed the rest of his words in as Snape limped to his desk, seating himself on the edge, his lip curled in disdain as he glowered down at Harry, his dark eyes narrowed as the older wizard said. "Ten points from Gryffindor for your cheek, Potter and you may be very glad that it isn't more and you will serve a detention…."
"Please sir, I wish to apologize…I shouldn't have said that…it slipped out…I am sorry…." Harry cried out. He figured a little bit of humbleness wouldn't be too wrong in this situation and he really did want his book back but what was more, he was ashamed of what he had said. No matter how wrong Snape had treated (!) him, he should be above such petty things.
The Dursleys might deserve it but the Snape didn't deserve it, or at least…
Snape sighed and the dark eyes met Harry's green ones as the Potions Master said after a moment. "That apology won't take the points that I took back to Gryffindor. Those ten points still stand and detention will be served with me. As for your book…."
"Please, sir, allow me to have the book back…I…I really want it back and I will do anything you want me to do…anything…." Harry knew he was pleading and Snape might not like it but he really wanted and needed the book back.
"Anything, Potter?" Snape whispered and Harry nodded, echoing.
"Yes, sir anything…"
The older wizard shook his head and opened his mouth to say something when he suddenly changed his mind and got off the desk, limping around it and rummaging through a pile of scrolls until he pulled one out and gestured for Harry over to desk as he tossed down the scroll and said, with barely suppressed glee. "Here!"
Harry glanced up at his Professor, taking in the sallow skin and the hooked nose as he asked, unrolling his scroll. It was his Potions homework, words crossed out and comments in a bright red ink as he asked. "What do I have to do with it, Professor?"
"You will rewrite it, Potter, your handwriting was so bad I could barely read it."
"Oh." Harry swallowed thickly as he glanced down. Suddenly his eyes were glistered over with tears which he angrily wiped away. Really, he shouldn't be crying about such a small thing. It wasn't the first time that he had to redo work because of poor penmanship. Last time he had broken his wrist and it had hurt so badly that he couldn't write straight for weeks.
Why did he think that it would suddenly improve now? Those quills were hard enough to use for drawing so why would somebody actually write with them? He glanced down and chewed on his lip for a moment before he glanced up and asked. "All of it, sir?"
"Yes, Potter, all of it. You will finish it tonight or I will send a letter to Professor McGonagall and your relatives about your poor penmanship and that you require extra practise." Snape sneered as if the very word practise had a bad taste to it.
Harry's insides were suddenly freezing. "Please, Professor, not to my relatives….they…."
"What is the matter, Potter? Afraid that your family won't like to see anything else then a perfect record?" Snape snarled and Harry felt the colour leaving his face.
"No, sir…" Harry ducked his head. How could he tell Snape that if the Potions Master sent such a letter then Uncle Vernon would never let him forget it? He could still remembering the stinging words of his uncle when they had said that he didn't belong on this school and such a letter would only prove that it was true, if he couldn't even master the simple task of writing then how was he ever to master the complexity of magic and spells?
He kept his head down, unaware of the frown that was directed at his messy head as he sought in his bag for parchment and a quill and ink to write. Slowly he uncapped his ink, taking a deep breath and remembered Ron's lessons. He could do this; he just needed to focus and not rush things like he often had to do in the Common Room.
Slowly he copied the title, ignoring the comments added to the parchment which sprang out in bright red letters:
"Unacceptable, Potter, theory is the first grasp to a well practical experience but most students lack even the basic grasp of theory!"
"Sometimes I wonder if you can read, Potter, because I certainly can't decipher this scrawl of yours. Are you a child brandishing a wand and learning magic or a baboon brandishing a quill and learning to write because I am unable to tell the difference?"
"One would imagine that being in Gryffindor would give you a sense of loyalty to your class mates? But it seems that I was wrong and you are very lucky that I do not take points for bad essays, for you would have turned in a better one if I did."
"How long does your attention span last? Because the longer the essay gets, the worse the words and theory get. One would almost think you didn't think Potions was important."
And it went on and on in such a fashion and Harry was reading the comments with growing unease and wiggled in his seat. His ears were burning with shame. Snape really did hate him, how could he ever think that he was going to get his book back by simply asking?
His hand ached from holding the quill too tight and he dropped it, only having copied down the title. His lip was trembling and he realized much to his shame that he was once more blinking away tears.
What was wrong with him? It wasn't any worse in this school then it had been on the other, except for Dudley who wasn't here. Still nobody liked him, well except for Ron and Hermione, and he was blamed for things he couldn't even remember doing.
Why was he the only one having trouble with reading the blackboard so that sometimes Ron had to read out the instructions to him, or the magic that certainly didn't come easy, or the fact that he was dreaming weird things and that he was terrified of being spoken to and he kept his wand on him at all times, like somebody would surely hit him for his stupid mistake and he could defend himself.
He angrily wiped at his eyes, upsetting his glasses and even before he could grasp them, they tumbled to the ground and Harry could hear a loud crack. Oh no, not his glasses. They had broken again by the sound of it.
He slid to the ground, even as he heard a chair being pushed backwards as it scraped over the stone floor. He picked up his glasses, hiding them in his robe as he pretended to clean them.
"Potter, give them to me, please." The impatient voice sounded and Harry glanced up, squinting to get Snape into focus. His teacher appeared to be frowning.
"They are fine, sir…"
"Don't hold me for a fool, Potter; I quite clearly heard your glasses break. Come on, hand them over…"
"You can't go around wearing broken glasses, you daft child, I can fix them easily."
"No, sir…please…." Harry held his glasses tightly in his robe. Snape couldn't see his glasses because he would know that even with his glasses, his eyesight was very bad.
"Potter, what is the matter with you and recognizing authority? Hand them over, child, now!"
Snape's voice had dropped and Harry begrudge handed his glasses over. One of the glasses was cracked in the middle and Snape tapped on it, saying. "Reparo."
Harry took his glasses back and glanced at them, they appeared totally new, no longer held together by tape and smudged with grease but fully clean and repaired. Harry easily put them on, smiling up at his Professor. "Brilliant, sir." He managed after a moment but Snape merely frowned.
"Yes, I suppose it is quite brilliant as you so elegantly put it now please return to your work so that I may enjoy the rest of my evening or what is left of it anyway…"
Harry's smile faltered as he asked. "Sir, can you please take a look at the title to tell me if I am doing alright….I don't want to have to redo it again."
A black eyebrow rose and Snape said. "I am sure that you can do it on your own, Potter. Normal children do so as well so I am not going to make any exception for you simply because you are famous. I am sure that at home there are people to even do your writing for you but in here you will do your own writing."
Harry fell silent, his gaze down to the floor as he said. "But Professor, if you tell me if I am doing alright now, instead of later, then I can still fix my mistakes and I won't have to redo it and you won't be here all evening sitting with me until I have completed my work to satisfaction."
He held his breath, wondering what Snape would think. He could hear a sigh somewhere above his head and then the strong hand of his teacher on his shoulder as Snape said. "Very well, Potter. Show me whatever you have done."
Harry knew that he would likely receive a scowling, not that his teacher ever did much else. He approached the desk, sitting down on the chair as he pulled his parchment to him. Snape snatched it from him and then said, in an exerted tone. "Potter, you only copied the title?"
To his shame, Harry felt his face flush and then said. "Yes, sir…I…"
"Potter, your handwriting is still awful. I do fear that I will need to send out that letter to your relatives…." Snape was bent over his parchment, his hands on the desk as he picked up the discarded quill and scratched on the parchment quickly.
Harry's heart was suddenly hammering a little bit too fast. His mouth had gone dry and he felt like a fish on dry land, unable to move or to breath. "Please, sir…I will try to do better…."
Snape glanced down at him and the dark eyes narrowed as the Potions Master took in the rapidly paling complexion of his student. This was a surprise. Potter seemed almost terrified but of what? Perhaps he should keep his student a little bit longer to find out?
"Try to draw the lines as I have added them below. Does nobody in your House care if you have poor penmanship?" Snape knew that if he had found out that first years didn't know how to work with a quill in Slytherin his prefects would be severely punished.
Harry knew his ears were bright red as he stammered. "My friend Ron tried to help me but I can't get the hang of it. I…I never was really well with my writing…" Harry rubbed his wrist. Ever since breaking it about a year ago when he had tripped and his arm had been trapped underneath his body as he ran away from his cousin in school, it had ached sometimes to remind him of the old injury.
He had to swallow back tears that day, even when Aunt Petunia took him to the hospital to get the cast on his arm. Uncle Vernon had been even less pleased when his chores suddenly took longer to complete because Harry had been unable to work rapidly with his arm.
He remembered the throbbing feeling and he tensed, causing him to flinch when Snape suddenly asked. "Why are you so afraid that I am going to send a letter to your relatives?"
Harry's head snapped up and he met the narrowed eyes as he said. "I am not afraid, sir. It is just like you said; they don't want to see anything else but a perfect record…."
It doesn't matter to Uncle Vernon if I come home with a perfect record or not because I will have to mow the lawn and do all the other stuff still.
"Do your work, Potter!" Snape finally snapped his patience thinning. Something was wrong with Potter and he was going to be damned if he wouldn't find out. It wasn't right for somebody to be so fearful of a threat to send a letter to one's relatives, if only the Weasley twins were a bit more like that, the threat would hold more power.
Harry released a long held breath as Snape snapped out the comment. It made it so very much easier to deal with then when his teacher, like Professor McGonagall had done a few weeks ago, had asked him if everything was alright at his home situation when she had requested some information like she always did with all her students.
Harry had been beet red and unable to respond only to say his aunt and uncle hadn't been used to Owl post. She had merely thinned her lips and had told him to get to his next class but what if she told the rest of the Staff, what if Snape knew? What would that mean?
"Potter, this is the last time I am warning you or I am going to go to Professor McGonagall and tell her that you are very slow and do not follow instructions very well." The Professor's angry voice made Harry jump and he made himself as small as possible behind the desk as he murmured.
He ducked his head even when he was seething with anger. The hateful Professor couldn't do anything to him; much less send a letter to the Dursleys. But Harry was doubtful, Ron always said that Snape was the worst of all teachers and he could even keep the Weasley twins in line, what if it meant that his teacher could?
He picked up his quill, his eyes on the parchment. He glanced up when suddenly the fireplace behind the Professor flared green and a parchment flew through. It was rolled up and bound and as Harry watched, amazed, the parchment was even smoking, the Professor merely plucked it out of the air and laid it down beside him without opening.
Harry realized he was staring as Snape lifted his head to glance at Harry. Meeting the black eyes without blinking or blushing, something Harry was quite proud of, he glanced back down at his parchment and continued writing.
After a while he glanced up again to see the black eyes regarding him again above the unrolled parchment. Snape's eyes shot down to read the rest of the parchment and Harry feared it was about him when the Potions Master rose and said. "I have to step out of the class for a moment, Potter. I trust that you will remain in your seat and continue with your work. There will be very grave consequences if you don't, boy."
Harry gulped and nodded, he didn't even want to know about those consequences. With Uncle Vernon he knew what to expect when his uncle said such a thing and he knew how far he could go. What would Professor Snape do? Some part of him wanted to find out, it was always best after all when you did it as soon as you were capable so that you know how far to push an adult.
He sighed as he heard the door close behind him. He glanced around the classroom, leaning back in his seat. Couldn't he just look for his book now, while Snape was away? Surely it was somewhere here in this office, it had to be.
Looking backwards at the door, he pushed his chair back as gently and as silently as he could and rushed up to the desk. It might be a bad idea but he had to find his book, perhaps he could leave and return to the common room.
Harry's green eyes flew over the tidy desk. The scrolls that were being marked lay in one neat pile while the unmarked scrolls lay on the other end of the desk. Three drawers were screaming for Harry's attention.
He glanced around the deserted classroom, listening for a moment to hear if anybody approached. No noise came from the corridors and the door behind Harry. He didn't even know where that door would lead but he didn't really want to know.
He focussed on the desk, hoping with all his might that nobody would come in because he would be done for. He remembered the punishments Uncle Vernon always gave him when he didn't follow the rules and since Snape knew magic and had tried to hex him because he could beat Slytherin; there was no telling what the man was going to do.
He pulled open the top drawer, or at least tried to but the drawer wouldn't budge. Pulling a little harder the drawer still wouldn't budge; in fact, it looked like it was locked. Sitting down on his knees, Harry tried to see if he could find a keyhole but there was no hole but then how could the drawer be locked?
He sighed; perhaps it was the same spell that Hermione had muttered when she had opened the door to that dog. If only he had memorized that spell, it had started with an A, he could remember that but he had forgotten the rest of the spell. He sighed and resisted the urge to bang his head against the desk, knowing from experience it wouldn't do him much good.
He pulled his wand from his pocket and tapped it on the desk, perhaps by some divine miracle the drawers would...
But no, they stayed shut and Harry felt frustration welling up within him. How come Hermione had already learned that spell and he sometimes even had trouble to grasp the beginning of magic?
Suddenly a hand landed heavily on his shoulder and Harry startled, unable to hide it as he flinched away and turned when the very dangerous, silky voice came. "And pray tell, Potter, what are you doing fumbling behind my desk?"
"Nothing sir." Harry stammered, having the courage to meet the angry dark eyes. He gulped for he saw the promise of certain death within those eyes and he shivered as he tried to pull away.
"This doesn't look like nothing, Potter! I told you to continue with your work and you fail to follow through. I think points will be taken and you will serve a detention but perhaps I should inform the Headmaster of your dubious behaviour?"
"No, sir, don't..." Harry felt his heart hammer in his throat. He knew that when somebody informed the Headmaster, Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia would be informed and they wouldn't be happy. They would have to come to school and...
He remembered his third year extremely well, when a nice teacher had informed the headmaster of his primary school that he was being beaten by Dudley every day...well he had spent days in his cupboard, only coming out for school and right back in when he came home, except to do chores...he didn't want to go back to that confiding space, better to sleep with five boys in a dormitory then this...
He scampered backwards, Snape sneering and growing angrier every second but Harry wondered, perhaps he could outrun his teacher, surely Snape wasn't that fast, his robes would hinder him in his movements.
He allowed himself to relax and then he tore himself away from Snape's grip, twisting his body this way and that way until he could run to the door, hoping it would open at his touch. It didn't and he realized he had failed when Snape snapped. "Potter!"
He ducked his head, knowing he would earn a swap for something like this. Whenever he had run at home, Uncle Vernon would try to hit him with the belt...
Iron grips on his shoulders turned him around but Harry didn't dare to lift his head.
"Potter, look at me when I speak to you!"
The hand under his chin and Harry tore himself away, knowing that a blow to the face would send his head spinning and him losing all control.
"Potter!" The deep voice dropped lower and this time he couldn't tear himself away from Snape's hand as it came up from under his chin. His eyes fastened themselves onto the other slender hand as he followed the movements of the potion stained hands, afraid that at an unguarded moment they would strike, fast as lightening and he would be unprepared.
His magic was rising, agitated but Harry had never been able to defend himself as he dropped his eyes as Snape snapped again.
Harry's eyes flew up to meet the dark ones, they were probing his face and Harry felt the colour rise in his cheeks as he asked. "Please, don't...don't tell the Headmaster...I will be in so much trouble..."
The dark eyes narrowed and Snape frowned as he hissed. "You are already in a lot of trouble, Potter so why should I not inform the Headmaster?"
"I will do anything, sir...I won't tell Professor McGonagall about that time when you hexed me at the Quidditch match..."
Snape seemed to swell with rage and he hissed. "You arrogant idiotic boy, I was trying to safe you..."
Immediately Harry pulled away and he used his arms to cover his head when he saw the slender hand rise. He closed his eyes, waiting for the blow, perhaps if he held still long enough, it wouldn't hurt so bad.
But the blow never came; instead Snape's hand hit the door behind him with a loud bang as the teacher released a frightening hiss of anger and rage. Harry pulled back deeper, trying to roll into a ball.
Fear was curling his stomach, making him queasy as he closed his eyes tightly, hoping to appear invisible. He murmured. "Please don't hit me!"
"And why would I hit you, Mr Potter? Just because you are an insufferable, arrogant, noisy brat without any regards for the rules wouldn't justify any blow, no matter how right it may seem in your strange mind."
"Because I made a mistake and I ran and I am not supposed to run...unless Uncle Vernon chased me with the belt but..." Harry clamped his mouth tightly shut when he saw the look on Snape's face.
His Professor's already pale complexion was paling even further as Harry's words registered. The dark eyes were glittering oddly and then Snape softly asked. "Is what you are telling me true or are you trying to attract more attention to yourself, Mr Potter?"
The deep voice was controlled and dangerously soft and Harry couldn't bear to lie to make it seem alright. Something had changed in the room and he was so weary suddenly, so tired of having to be the one who got punished even when he came home with a good report card, an even better one then Dudley and he would still get send to his cupboard.
He gave a timid nod and Snape's eyes widened momentarily before the teacher sank down upon one knee, his dark eyes still fixed upon Harry and the thin lips pressed together.
"Please, sir, don't send out a letter to my relatives? I don't want you to..."
Snape interrupted as he said, holding up a slender hand, his dark eyes following Harry's frightened green ones as they fixed upon his hand. "I will send out a letter if what you are telling me is true, it is a very serious crime to beat a child..."
"No! If they know that I told you and that I can't read the blackboard or that I can't write or even know any magic they will come and take me away...I don't want to go...I don't care if I can't do magic just leave me with Hagrid...anything is better than being there..."
All his frustration and fears suddenly bubbled over and he found himself suddenly weeping, his hands fastened themselves in the dark fabric so close by. He couldn't take it anymore. He didn't want to be sent back, he would be a punching bag for Dudley again and...
He was still talking, probably not making any sense. "Don't send me back. I don't want to go back to the cupboard and not getting food. I will adapt, I swear...I will work harder than anybody else...don't send me away..."
"Potter, calm down!" Gentle hands sought to pull his hands away but Harry tightened his grip as he cried out harder, his tears making it harder for him to see.
"Don't send me away...I will do anything! I will clean, cook...I will do anything...I promise...I..."
He was sobbing wildly and it was harder to breath. Hands pulled him closer, winding themselves around his shoulders as they gently guided him against a warm body and Harry broke down completely. He drew in large mouthfuls of air as he sobbed deeply.
"Hush, you won't be sent away. I will promise you that much, Potter..."
"I can't stop...sir..." He hiccupped and a large hand at the back of his head pushed him forward and Harry rested his head against the strong shoulder before him.
"Hush, it is alright. Just go through it. It will fade after a while. Just breathe in and out..." The deep voice soothed Harry as did the hand that gently rubbed circles in his back. He would have laughed hysterically if he had known that it was Snape, the feared Potions Master of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry who was allowing him to cry now.
It didn't matter how long he cried but finally a few hiccups was all that was left. Harry's heart fell raw, as did his throat and his nose was stuffy as he tried to pull away to run a hand over his burning eyes. He managed after a moment, Snape's slender hands loosely resting on his shoulders as the Professor steadied him.
"Potter, is it true what you are telling me?"
Harry only gave a nod. His head ached and exhaustion was overcoming him. He didn't even remember the last time he had cried like that. He was sure he looked a right mess now but Snape didn't seem to mind. His eyes focussed on the damp spot of his Professor's robes and he blushed.
Snape sighed and then refocused his dark eyes as he said. "I need to inform your Head of House and the Headmaster so we can make other arrangements for you during the summer..."
Hope was blossoming in his chest and Harry glanced up as he asked. "I won't have to go back?"
Sighing again, Snape smiled ruefully, Harry nearly stepped back and said solemnly. "You have my word..."
A doubtful look must have crossed Harry's face because the Professor added. "Regardless of whatever else I might be, I am a man of my word. Come, I will escort you to the Hospital Wing so we can give you a Calming Draught. I think you have been through enough for one evening though I will need you to tell Professor McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey what you have told me, Harry..."
"You will stay?" Harry was sure he was old enough to do this alone but something about Snape's presence and the way his Professor was taking charge, it made him feel much better and much more at ease.
The hand on his messy head made him glance up to see the Potions Master glancing down as he said. "Yes, I will stay however strange it might be."
Harry yawned and feeling strangely at ease with the hand on his shoulder as he walked in front of Snape, he knew, he could handle strange because how strange had it been to find his fear unjust because if Snape was on his side, well, he wouldn't want to be Vernon Dudley whenever they meet and he grinned despite himself and the problems he had, because it would be a sight that would warm his memories when he thought about it.
That is it for now. I am thinking of perhaps continuing this with them going up to the Healing Wing, Professor McGonagall's and Dumbledore's reactions to the news and perhaps even a confrontation with the Dursleys. But it will depend on what the reviews will be and what you think of the story. Review of course.