Summary: Harry regularly escapes to the Astronomy Tower whenever he wakes up dreaming of his Potions Master. But one night someone is already there! Will Harry reveal his secrets? Takes place during Harry's 7th year. Dumbledore is still alive. Voldemort defeated at the end of 6th year.
Warnings: Pre-Snarry, Snarry, Slash, HPSS, language. Don't like, don't read!
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters nor anything else you recognize. I'm just borrowing the characters for a bit of fun. :D
Italics indicate emphasis in dialogue and the thoughts of a character. Un-italicized words during thoughts indicate emphasis.
Chapter One: Sanctuary
Severus couldn't sleep. Again. It wasn't his night to patrol, but perhaps he'll take a stroll anyway. And it wouldn't hurt to find a student or two out past curfew and deduct house points. He wandered through the corridors, empty but for the occasional ghost. Feeling bored and depressed, he found himself drawn to the Astronomy Tower. The crisp night air and the black sky dotted with stars were almost comforting.
Meanwhile, Harry had yet another one of those dreams. He laid awake in bed, sick to his stomach with worry, hoping desperately to fall asleep again. To fall asleep without dreams. But after an hour of restlessness, he retrieved his invisibility cloak and headed for the Astronomy Tower. It was already the fourth time this week, but this time he wasn't alone.
Severus heard quiet footsteps approaching and quickly stepped into a dark corner and pulled out his wand, preferring to have the advantage of surprise. As the footsteps drew nearer he pondered how many points he should deduct for not only violating curfew, but also coming up to the Astronomy Tower, forbidden for students outside of class hours. Hmm, perhaps some detention as well? Yes, I believe so!
The footsteps, although quiet, seemed so near now, but Severus couldn't see anyone. Then there was a peculiar sight as someone removed an invisibility cloak. Potter!
Severus stepped into the moonlight, triumphant. "POTTER! Thought you wouldn't get caught –"
Harry turned his tear-stained face and looked at his professor. "Please sir," he choked. "Please, I know I'm out past curfew and I know I shouldn't be here. You can deduct all the points you want and give me as many detentions as you want, and I won't complain. But I reallyreally need some time alone."
Severus stood still transfixed by Potter's glassy eyes. His heart nearly broke by the look of agony and desperation in them, but Severus quickly hardened his heart, determined to not succumb to such weakness. He pocketed his wand and crossed his arms.
"Yes, Potter, I will deduct points, and yes, you will receive detention. But no, you may not stay here. I will escort you to your common room."
"No, please sir, not there!" Harry pleaded. "I can't bear the chance that someone might wake up. I don't want anyone to see me like this. Please, just let me stay here for awhile. This is the only place that gives me any peace."
"Potter, it's past curfew and it's forbidden," Severus said neutrally, fighting the urge to give in to Harry's pain-filled green eyes. Harry? No! Potter!
Harry turned away, stepped towards the edge of the balcony and crumpled to the floor. He sat with his knees bent and wrapped his arms around them. "I know, and I'll accept whatever punishment you deem fit. Just please let me stay here for a little while."
Severus was surprised that Harry Bloody Potter didn't protest punishment. And at receiving punishment, he usually reacts with resentment, anger, and disrespect, Severus thought. And he ached at the desperation in Harry's voice. His heart couldn't hold out any longer, but couldn't let Harry—no, Potter! – off easily. His mind struggled not only over the urge to comfort and the need to maintain his walls and mask, but also over his increasing tendency to think of the boy as "Harry" instead of "Potter." Well, not so much of a boy any more is he? He become of age this past July! And he has already lived through much more than many men do in their whole lives.
"Potter, 50 points will be taken from Gryffindor and you will serve a week of detention. I will escort you to the Gryffindor common room -"
Harry's body tensed and his arms grabbed tighter around his legs.
"—but not for an hour or so," Severus continued. "I was already here in the tower, partaking of the clear sky and night air and I am not ready to abandon it yet. So, you will remain with me until then." Yes, perfect. It wouldn't do good to appear that I'm doing this for his sake, nor that I give in to tantrums and begging.
Harry looked up at his professor in disbelief, fresh tears rolling down his cheeks. They locked eyes unblinking for what seemed like an eternity.
"Thank you," Harry whispered, gratefully. Harry was truly shocked that Snape, the professor with a nasty reputation, would allow Harry to stay here past curfew in the forbidden tower. But he couldn't decide if he was pleased or irritated that Snape would stay here with him. Why is he letting me stay? Is it because this is an opportunity to taunt me and make me miserable? Or does he really care that I'm upset? But how can I calm myself with him hovering nearby?
Severus grunted softly, walked towards the edge of the balcony, a few feet from Harry, and rested his arms on the railing. They remained silent and still for several minutes. Finally Severus couldn't contain himself; he had to break the silence.
"Nightmares?" Severus asked nonchalantly.
"No." Harry replied softly. "Not exactly." He looked at his shoes, determined not to look into Snape's eyes. He remembered Snape's legilimency skills and did not want him to invade his mind. He was too tired and emotional right now to use occulmency.
"Do you still dream of the Dark Lord?"
"Yes, but not like I used to. This summer I dreamt about him, the Final Battle, and well, all the other bad things that have happened over the years… Voldemort attacking me when he wanted the Sorcercer's Stone, Dementers, Voldemort coming back, Cedric, Sirius…" Harry's voice broke and he sat in silence for a few moments. "Maybe four or five times a week? But towards the end of summer, about three times a week. And now, once a week, or once every couple weeks." Harry sighed. "I'm very thankful for that."
Severus grunted. "Yes, I'm sure you are." He was truly happy for Harry's sake, but didn't want appear too enthusiastic. He stood quietly for a moment. So if he's not having nightmares about the Dark Lord, then what? "Not exactly" nightmares? What does that mean?
"So what's keeping you up at night? Why do you come here? I presume-" Severus gave Har— Potter – a hard look, "-that this is not the first time."
Harry didn't notice the look, keeping his eyes on his shoes. He detected a subtle, very subtle, note of concern in his professor's voice, but found it hard to believe. Does Severus really have a heart? Could Severus actually care for me? Harry shook his head to himself. Snape! Not Severus! He's my professor! He's a git! A cruel heartless - Harry closed his eyes tight. No, he does have a heart, and deep down he's not cruel. He's suffered a lot and he's built up a wall so he can't get hurt. I know this… But still, I cannot allow myself to think of him as "Severus."
"Potter?" Severus asked, more gently.
Harry looked up momentarily, his thoughts interrupted. Then looked down just as quickly, relieved that Sev—Snape! – wasn't looking at him. He took a deep breath.
AN: Uh oh! Cliffhanger! Will Harry confide in Severus? Will Harry tell Severus what, or whom, he's dreaming of? How will Severus react?