This chapter was a lot of fun to write...just interesting experimenting with the strained relationship between Snape and Harry. I have a couple alternate versions to this chapter, but I thought this one fit the best :), and I hope you all think so too!
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Harry had finished his bagel and had joined his Professor back in the kitchen when he had finished examining the last of the house. It was a really dark and depressing house; Harry could not wait to leave. His Professor seemed to be restocking his bag of various potions as he walked in, and some of the vials Harry didn't even recognize. There were a few that he could name and place, like the blood replenishing potion, and he could immediately distinguish between the teal shading of the calming draught and the slightly darker blue color of the dreamless sleep.
"Umm…I finished my breakfast, sir." He said gaining his Professor attention. "Are we ready to leave again?"
Severus placed a third vial into his satchel and then put it back over his shoulder. Nodding he strode over to Harry and gently placed a hand on his shoulder to lead him into, what had to have been, the sitting room. Again Harry watched almost mesmerized by how graceful Snape could move in his black robes.
"Yes Potter," Severus said with a nod. "I took care of the Ministry, so I doubt they will be following us."
"Brilliant," Harry said with a slight smile. "How did you do that?"
Severus's lip curled a little and he crossed his arms over his chest.
"Persuasion." He said simply.
Harry didn't need any further explanation; Snape had a gift when it came to getting people to agree with him. Liking him, now that was a different story entirely, but his intimidation would definitely come in handy seeing as Harry wasn't the creepiest person in the world.
"Who was it you…persuaded…if I may ask?"
Severus shook his head.
"You may ask, but that doesn't mean you are going to get an answer…now we have to move again. I'm not sure if apparation is a good idea…so I think we are going to use the Floo instead and go straight to the cottage."
"Professor," Harry interrupted. "I thought the Ministry monitors the Floo Network."
"Typically, they do…however this cottage is off the map."
Harry nodded, he wasn't sure how Snape would be able to do those things but he decided that he didn't really want to know. The point was that they would be able to get to the cottage and not have to worry about being intercepted on the way there. If it was off the map, maybe he would be able to find a way to contact his friends.
Severus reached into his satchel and pulled out a rather large amount of Floo Powder. The hearth was large enough that both him and Potter could fit inside of it together and reach the cottage safely. He really did not want the boy out of his sight or far enough away that someone could try and snatch him away. Tugging on the boys arm, he pulled him into the hearth and said, "Snape prosapia tutus domus."
The green flames engulfed them and several, nauseating, spins later Severus found the Potter boy rolling out onto the hard wooden floor. It was still dark in the small cottage, and rather frigid from the fall morning. As soon as he could he would put a kettle of tea on and light a small fire. Dropping his cloak onto the back of a chair he sighed and sat down.
"I have never been so happy to be here…" he whispered, softly. "Potter…this cottage is all one floor…your room will be next to mine while we stay here."
Severus didn't trust letting Potter run wild in his home. The boy had proved too many times before that he has a way of getting into trouble, even when it doesn't necessarily find him. It often got to the point that Severus wondered why he had even tried to protect the brat in the first place; all of his work just kept unraveling.
Harry looked around the cottage and his eyes widened a bit. It was so homey, so…muggle. Harry had never imagined Snape being in a place like this ever. It always just seemed so impossible for his Potions Master to be any form of normal. He supposed that all students had to feel that way about their Professor's. Harry would admit that no matter how old he got, he would always wonder what the Headmaster did in his spare time at the school.
"Potter!" his Professor snapped suddenly. "Were you listening to me?"
"No, sir…I was thinking."
"Hmph…a first if there ever was one…" Snape sneered. "I asked you if you would like to be showed to your room."
Harry had to bite his tongue to keep from lashing out at Snape. Couldn't the man cut him any slack whatsoever? Why did he have to pick and pick at him? His mother would not like the fact that he was being bullied by an adult, didn't the greasy, old, git understand that?
"Yessir…" he growled softly.
Gesturing with his head for him to follow, Severus moved in front of him and began making his way down a hall. The cottage really was small, it had two bedrooms, one full bath, and then the kitchen and living room. However, regardless of how small it was Severus had always preferred this cottage to Spinner's End. It was a home free from memories, free from his father, and, sadly, free from his mother.
"The bathroom is across the hall from your room, and you may decorate your own space however you wish…only your room, Potter."
Severus had difficulty accepting change; he liked things the way they were. He liked order, and rather bland colors. More than once he had found his home slightly remodeled by the Headmaster or Minerva, they both thought it was unhealthy for him to live in a home that had not changed since his childhood…he, however, preferred his home being exactly as it had been when he was a child…it served as a constant reminder to not make the same mistakes his own father did.
Potter would get Severus' old room, and he would get the master bedroom. The master bedroom really wasn't made up, and he didn't want to risk Dumbledore's Golden Boy getting all heroic and trying to use the Floo Network to find the Dark Lord himself. Opening the door to his past room, he moved to the side so Potter could walk past.
"I know it isn't as lavish as you would have probably preferred…but, it is all I could do on such a tight budget."
Harry glared up at his Professor and pursed his lips.
"Look," he snarled. "I am NOT going to stay here and let you insult me! I am NOT spoiled, Professor Snape! I never HAVE been!"
He watched as Snape's eyes darkened, but said nothing.
"You dragged me from the school, told me some bullocks story about my mother, but was ANY of it true? Because for someone that loved her, you sure are treating her SON like a bloody prick!"
Harry's chest was heaving up and down and he wasn't sure if it was because he was so angry, or because he was absolutely terrified that Snape would murder him. He watched his Professor, unable to read his expression whatsoever. Was he angry? Contemplating on the correct Unforgivable to use on him? What was dwelling in those dark tunnels anyone else would call eyes?
"I would suggest you take a nap, Potter," his Potions Master hissed. "Clearly this constant travel is grating on your nerves."
Harry felt his lips purse and the corners of his eyes burn slightly, Merlin he had never felt such frustration before in all of his life! But nodding he watched as the Potions Master turned on his heel and left, closing the door gently behind him. Harry turned his back on the door and brought his hands through his hair.
He wanted to scream, to yell as loud as he can until his vocal cords threatened to tear and fall apart into strips! How could anyone be so cold, so unfeeling, how could Snape live like this and NOT get bloody frostbite from his own unfeeling soul!
Tears in his eyes he turned towards the full size bed and flopped down onto it. Perhaps a nap would do him good, he was tired after all. Getting up at five in the morning was not something he enjoyed, and the fatigue that followed it was exactly why. Closing his eyes the moment he rested his head on the pillow, it didn't take but a moment for him to fall into a deep, unsettling, sleep.
Severus had left Potter sleep for as long as he needed to, knowing that there would be plenty of early mornings ahead of them. He also didn't want the boy to be tired for what he was going to have to do later in the evening. For him and Potter to continue on this little adventure, he was going to have to teach the boy Occlumency…if he didn't the Dark Lord would kill them both before they had any chance of being good to anyone.
So he was sitting in the living room with a cup of hot tea, in hopes of helping him keep calm so he would not blow up on Potter when he started to try his patience and irritate him to no end. Needless to say, it wasn't doing much to help him. He knew that this was going to be difficult, but he had hoped that he would be able to exercise more patience then what he was…and he almost hated to admit it, but if he didn't know better he could swear that his conscious was trying to tell him to apologize for how he had spoken to Potter earlier… good thing he knew better. Leaning back into the sofa, he closed his eyes as the soft crackle of the fireplace popped and warmed him. His nerves were so on edge that not even this peaceful setting could help him calm down.
Glancing out the window he sighed, it was starting to get dark again…he had actually let Potter sleep the entire day away. Oh well, it had no doubt done him some serious good. The boy was clearly suffering from insomnia, and after all the Hell he had been through Severus could not blame him. At sixteen though, Potter did not need to have the sleeping patterns of a forty year old man…It just wasn't healthy, and if that meant Severus would have to make a Dreamless Sleep potion every night for the boy then that was what he would do.
With a small yawn, Severus reached forward and grasped his tea cup, only he stopped when he heard a shrill scream coming from a mere door or two away. Dropping the cup with a small clatter he raced to the sound and threw Harry's door open. The boy was screaming in his sleep, his head whipping form side to side in agony and discomfort. Rushing to the boy's side, he lightly tapped his face with his hands.
"Potter…Potter!" he snapped, gaining no response. "Harry!"
The green orbs flew open and Severus found himself releasing a breath he had not realized he had been holding. Blasted brat, scaring the living Hell out of him like that! Who the bloody Hell did he think he is? Still he found himself fussing and fretting over Potter's safety and what he had seen to make him go into such frenzy.
"It was a dream, Potter," he said softly, his voice calming and gentle. "I promise you are safe."
Harry's chest was heaving up and down, and his hands grasped Snape's arms so tight that he was sure he would leave bruises after all this was done. He felt like he might throw up and his scar was tingling uncomfortably against his forehead. He hated waking up to that…waking up at all as it were… especially when it was Snape he was waking up to.
"Alright, Potter?" he asked. "You look pale."
Harry couldn't find his voice, he really was trying to answer his Professor, but so far the only thing that came out was a soft whimper or his loud breathing. He just couldn't form a coherent response, and he truly wanted to! He wanted to show his Professor that he wasn't some idiotic child.
"Potter, answer me, what did you see?"
Severus could tell that Potter was scared out of his mind, screaming like that wasn't brought on by any normal nightmare. No, this had been a vision…something the Dark Lord had placed in his mind, or had accidentally let slip through. If that WERE the case then Severus had even more reason to be worried. He watched the boy in front of him, his hands still clutched to his forearms and decided that at the moment he was not going to get anything out of Potter.
"You need a calming draught, and some tea…and a seat in front of the fireplace…you are shivering."
Grabbing the blankets from the bed, he wrapped them around his student's shoulders and gently coaxed him out into the living room, and every step they took was met with the young Gryffindor shivering or letting out a soft whimper.
"Shh…" he said softly. "I am here, Mr. Potter…you are safe here with me."
It had taken some doing, but Severus managed to get Harry to take a calming draught and stop his constant shivering. He had been worried that he was starting to catch something…he hardly had what was needed to heal the boy if he were to get sick. However, with Potter calm and able to speak to him, he could get down to what had scared the poor child so severely to begin with.
"What did you see, Mr. Potter."
Harry closed his eyes, he was trying to remember…trying to remember exactly what had been going through his head when Voldemort had tapped into his mind…but everything just drew up blank. He truly could not recall…had Voldemort put that vision into his head just to torment him? Or to make him look like an enormous twit in front of his school teacher.
"I…I can't remember, sir…" he said hoarsely. "I…am trying…it just keeps coming up black…"
Severus frowned, he knew that Potter wasn't lying, him being an Occlumens made him perfectly capable of sniffing out one of Potter's, half-baked, stories. No, he truly could not recall what had caused him so much pain. And to Severus, that was almost worse than if he could. That could mean there was a slight chance the Dark Lord was managing to tap into Potter's mind without Potter tapping into his own.
"We need to resume your Occlumens lessons, Mr. Potter." He said sternly. "We will be in constant danger if we don't."
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Oh, and the Snape prosapia tutus domus...that is Latin for Snape Family Safe House