Sleep's Secret Weapon

He feels like he's still a kid, sneaking out of his room in the dead of night, watching the moonlight play on the pillars of the stone halls and the pearly white of drifting ghosts from beneath his invisibility cloak, stepping as quietly as possible to alert no one. It's an almost giddy feeling, but the fun is taken out of it when he realizes that even if he were caught, he has permission to be there. There's no fun in anything you can do with permission.

Harry creeps quietly down the hall anyway, further into the dank dark of the castle, his heart pounding loudly in his chest. The dungeons still manage to make him gulp in fear and anticipation, though, not for the same reason as when he was young, naïve.

He whips off his invisibility cloak as soon as he comes to the end of the staircase, meeting an apparently dead end. He debates simply waltzing into the potions master's room, or knocking first. Before he can speak the password, the wall slides open, revealing a passage way that glows with warmth. Snape is outlined against the soft light, face stern and hard.

"Potter." Snape nearly sighs, brow softening as he leans against the entry way, eyes rolling in exasperation. "forever strutting about the grounds all hours of the night. Do you ever learn?"

Harry can't help his grin. "Nope." Snape lets out a deep breath and steps aside, gesturing into his home with the air of someone who'd given up long ago. Harry makes sure that he struts past him, simply to prove a point. He's not sure what point, exactly, except that he feels good when he hears Snape snort softly in amusement behind him.

"To what do I owe this pleasure, Potter?" Snape asks, settling back into his arm chair, laying his book on his lap. Harry shrugs, not precisely sure what urged him to creep through the whole castle to Snape's chambers while he'd been staring at the dull stone of his bedroom ceiling. Harry slumps into an opposite armchair. He's already labelled it his.

"Blame insomnia." he replies instead. He doesn't tell Snape about the nightmares he still suffers. But he thinks Snape knows. The potion master just nods with an understand hum, staring into the fireplace thoughtfully. Harry's content to watch Snape watch the fire, studying the way his black eyes glitter, or the way his hair falls over his cheek. He figures that if he's going to be awake all night, he might as well look at something more appealing than his ceiling.

"Care to join me for a drink, Potter?" Snape invites suddenly, starting as though he barely remembers Harry's presence. He just grins and nods, watching Snape rise smoothly and sweep into the kitchen. He's not sure how Snape manages to sweep away like that, when he's not even wearing his robes. But then, he's not sure how he manages to make his robes billow either, because try as he might, Harry himself can't manage it. Perhaps they're enchanted to do that when he walks?

Snape returns with two crystal tumblers, handing one to Harry. They sip the amber scotch in silence, Harry watching Snape and Snape watching the flames. Harry feels his eyelids droop. "you snuck a sleeping potion into my scotch?" He'd be incredulous, if he weren't so suddenly tired. Snape's eyes glittered smugly. "you're a sly one, professor Snape." Harry smiled wryly.

"As are you, Professor Potter." Snape returned, and pulled a folded quilt from the arm for the chair to toss over Harry's shoulders. "Now get some sleep."

Harry nodded through a poorly suppressed yawn, grasping Snape's sleeve as he turned. "Be here when I wake up?"

The smile Snape gave him was so small, he missed it entirely, eyes too heavy to stay open, as Snape pressed a kiss to his forehead. "Of course."