Disclaimer – property of JK Rowling. I just wanted to play with them for a bit.

AU of 'The Goblet of Fire' and sequel to my own story 'The Guardian, The Ward and the Convict'.

Warnings – Pre-Slash pairing of Harry and Ron. Snape/Harry mentor fic.

Authors Notes – the first bit is set between Harry waking in the Hospital wing after the Dementors come for Sirius and attending the Quidditch World Cup with the Weasley's – I wanted to explain a little how H/S bond changes after the Dementors. Once again, I won't be echoing the book closely, and I may skip some stuff out or reshuffle the timeline to make my own fic work (cue gasps of outrage and thrown vegetables…)

For Meggs – who has been so patient!

The Guardian The Ward And The Cup


There was a slight twinge in his chest and Severus sighed. He put down his book – a work of fiction no less! The boys influence was shockingly degrading! – and stood obediently, going to the new door in his private sitting room. Located between his bedroom door and the entrance to his kitchen, it had appeared without warning not long after the summer holidays commenced. Five shallow stairs were encased behind it, leading to another door that led to …

The stars were particularly bright tonight, he mused as he crossed the floor with long strides, heading for the keening boy in his nest of patched and colourful blankets. The moon was only a bare sliver in the sky – Merlin's thumbnail they had once called it – and the air was especially crisp. The most comfortable couch in Hogwarts sank slightly beneath his weight as he perched on the edge and put a hand on the messy hair black hair, all he could see of his small Ward. Any good his potions had done the boy over the last year had been erased in the aftermath of the Dementors attack at the end of the school year. The brat had lost weight and was once more struggling to regain the energy to do more than read his assignments in bed and make short trips to the bath.

Their bond had grown wildly. It had been his Legilimency alone that had been able to break Potter free of the nightmares the Dementors had instilled in the boy, and that act had allowed the boy through his Occlumency shields, forging a bond that was stronger than any Severus had ever known. In the darkest recesses of his mind, he suspected that the bond was even deeper than that of his cursed Mark. It was the bond that alerted him to Potter's night terrors and illness, something that the boy would never have done on his own. They may have been bound in a mockery of a relationship, but Potter had never once sought to trespass on Severus' good will. Aside from the shocking and accidental revelation that Potter recalled the murder of his parents when brought into proximity with a Dementor, there had been no attempt on the teen's side to forge an emotional connection with his teacher.

Severus found this very frustrating. As long as the bond was so unbalanced, Potter would continue to have night terrors. As his guardian it was Severus' duty to ensure his physical and emotional well-being. While he had no desire to dandle the brat on his knee, he certainly had no wish to see him tormented nightly by unspeakable horrors. Hence the almost nightly ritual of terror and … well, comfort was the general idea, though he had the feeling that he was falling somewhat short in that department. He had a notion that if he didn't work something out soon then the Meddling Coot of Hogwarts would call in outside help. He had absolutely no intention of taking 'parenting' tips from Molly Weasley. No matter who ordered it.

The boy quietened under his hand, which was progress. He hadn't had to shake, cajole or otherwise interfere with the child for at least a week. Potter recognised his touch as safety, something that had been established in the Hospital Wing immediately after the attack. He had spent several days with the boy cradled against him, his own heartbeat acting as an anchor to his distressed Ward. Not even Lupin or the Headmaster himself had been able to take his place to comfort the child, which Severus put down to the Bond and his use of Legilimency. Once fully cognizant of his actions, Potter had very properly withdrawn the contact, thanking Snape in formal words that had been jarring in their poor grammar. 'Teach the Brat to speak properly' had headed his list of Things To Do from that point on.

"Sir?" Potter's voice was cognizant, and the child turned under his touch, emerging a little from his nest. Wide green eyes met his, but the tousled head made no move to pull away, a sure signal that the contact was still necessary to the boys comfort. It was a small indignity that Snape tolerated.

"I am here, Potter," Severus confirmed, reading the relief in the green eyes without the need to resort to the mind arts. Shame swiftly followed.

"I'm sorry, sir. I disturbed you again," Potter did not sound at all steady, and Severus sighed, pulled lightly on the hair under his hand and then let go, folding his fingers together in his lap as Potter sat up. The training inculcated by the Muggles was at the root of this problem; it was insidious to a degree that was as disturbing as it was distasteful.

"It is my duty to see to you when you are disturbed," Severus reminded him, "Those useless Muggles may have accustomed you to the lowest possible standard of care required for a sentient being, but I would remind you… again … that I am not they. If you are in distress then I wish to know so that it may be dealt with appropriately."

"Yes, sir," Potter sighed, "It's just that…"

The brat bit his lip and swallowed down his words, darting a small frightened glace his way. This was another behaviour that Severus resented. The boy was terrified to speak his own mind, express any opinion other than what he thought his Guardian might wish, or to reveal any of his inner desires.

"Complete your sentence," Severus commanded, knowing that his extremely small stock of patience was already stretching to its limit. Potter had been the source of this stretching, and it seemed that he was called upon to expand the small store on an almost daily basis.

"I shouldn't still be scared," Potter murmured after a long moment. Severus had no doubt that the brat would speak, it had merely been a matter if the words came before or after his patience snapped.

"I should remember that you did come when I needed you; that Sirius wasn't kissed… that Ron and Hermione weren't killed… but at night I see what might have happened…"

Judging that now was not the time for yet another variation on the 'that is why you should have listened to my instructions in the first place' lecture, Severus nodded in acceptance. He was all too familiar with the vagaries of the mind and its penchant for using sleep to play 'what if'.

"The mind is a very complex thing, Potter," he announced, "Sometimes it requires a short span of time to play out alternate possibilities to past events. In addition, the magical exhaustion makes you more prone to sleep disturbances. As your magic recovers so will the dreams fade. Until then, I will continue to check on you."

Deep in the back of Potter's eyes there was a small spark of pleasure at that last statement, proving that the brat was not as averse to Severus' presence as he had previously indicated. Severus didn't care to dwell on his response to that.

"Now lie down and sleep. Tomorrow you will resume your duties of ingredient preparation. Madam Pomfrey has agreed to allow you down to my lab on the condition that I give you sufficient rest breaks," he announced, reminding his Ward of yesterday's discussion with the resident Healer. Potter smiled happily and flopped back down into his nest.

Severus checked that the boy was adequately covered and stood, shutting the door softly behind him. If Potter was to have his birthday treat towards the end of the holidays he would need to recoup his strength. The Weasley's had insisted, and Severus had found he was not entirely opposed to the idea of watching an International Quidditch match, even in the company of red haired Gryffindors. He had yet to inform his Ward of course – he may not have been the most experienced of Guardians but even he knew that he would have Salazar's own hell to pay getting the brat to settle to anything other than his day dreams if he knew of the treat to come.