Snape woke to the sounds of cattle moving and a cheerful voice greeting the animals.
"Good evening, ladies," a muggle in blue work trousers and a tartan shirt cried. "Did you have a good day, Bess, Molly, Lucy?" The farmer patted the cows´ necks as he walked past them. He went to another room through a wooden door and returned little later with a bucket and a stool.
The potions master watched as the muggle sat beside a cow, washed its udder with a wet rug and started to milk it. He could hardly refrain himself from dashing to the muggle and begging for milk. Then an idea sprang to his mind. He went for another mouse and approached the muggle with it in his mouth.
"Oi," cried the farmer, "you are new! Did old Daisy allow you in? How did you get her to?"
Old Daisy? Who was that?
The question lost importance when the farmer went to one of the small windows high in the walls and fetched a small bowl from the sill. He poured some milk fresh from the cow into the bowl and set it in front of the potions master.
Snape hadn´t taken but two or three licks, when something hit his side.
It was a huge tabby cat. The biggest feline he had ever seen, if you didn´t count the picture of a tiger in one of his potions texts (´The three uses of tiger whiskers´).
"I take it you are not a new friend of Daisy´s," the farmer laughed.
Daisy, the giant cat, hissed and spit, clawed and bit. Snape did his best to fend her off, but he was barely half as big as the other cat which also had the advantage of having been a cat all her life.
Suddenly there was Potter. The two black cats fought nail and tooth. The three animals rolled in a spitting ball, the milk bowl was knocked over, the precious liquid was spilt. With their forces joined, the two wizards finally managed to break free from the tabby monstrosity and fled the stable. They were both soaked to the skin, which was not good at all in the freezing cold.
They ran until they were sure Daisy – who had named the beast? – wasn´t following them. Then they sat, both panting. They were wet and cold and hungry. Potter blinked at the potions master owlishly. Then he leaned closer and started to lick his teacher´s fur. Snape thought about pushing the boy away before he realised how clever the youth was. It was the solution for their problems at hand. It would dry their fur – or at least remove the worst soak – and feed them at the same time.
Painfully aware of the inappropriateness of the action the potions master mirrored Potter´s action and started to lick his student´s neck.
After they had done what they could for their fur, the two cats left the village. Taking a path through the fields was impossible with all the snow, so they had to hike along a street. They were lucky. There was one leading north. Snape quickened his pace several times after making sure that the boy was able to follow. There was no use in lingering. The quicker they got to back home the better. So far north and given the weather they were going to freeze to death within some days. And running had at least a bit of a warming effect.
When the morning came, Potter approached the first house he layed his eyes on. He walked up the drive and sat in front of the doors, miaowing pitifully. Snape thought this was not really a good way to get fed, because who was going to hear a cat in front of their door?
He was in for a surprise, because barely ten seconds later a boy of perhaps eleven or twelve (Snape would have put him into first year if he had to guess) opened the door and beamed at them. Maybe luck was with the bold after all. That, or the stupid.
They were taken into the house and fed in the kitchen. They snuggled up to the heating and the boy sat by their side and stroked their fur. The kid was quite gentle and so it wasn´t really a high price to pay for a meal.
"Norman, where did you get these beasts from?" a muggle woman shrieked all of a sudden. "Are those strays? They´re probably full of bacteria. Go and wash your hands!"
Norman wasn´t happy about it, but he obeyed. His mother glared at the two cats, her lips pursed tightly. The two cats shrank back in fear. What was the muggle going to do? Snape shuddered to think she might attack them and force them to resume human form so close to Hogwarts.
"Mum, can I play with the cats? Purleeeease?" Norman begged when he returned from the bathroom.
"No! They´re dirty. I´m thinking about how to get rid of them without touching them."
"But Mum!" Norman whined.
"And if I wash them?"
The woman thought about it. Snape started to chant a silent prayer. "Toss us outside! Please, please, please, toss us outside."
"This might be a good idea, Norman. We have to bathe them."
Potter hissed and arched his back. Snape gritted his teeth. One thing was for sure. If the woman put him into a bath, he was going to bite her!
"Go and get Dad, we´ll need help." The muggle woman glared at the two cats speculatively while her son left the room to tell his father that he was needed.
"Yes, dear?" Norman senior turned out to be a giant of a man.
"Norman wants to keep these cats as pets," the woman informed her husband. "This is, of course, out of question unless we bathe them. Especially the shabby one. And we´ll need to see a vet."
"As you say," the man pecked her on the cheek.
"I´ll prepare the tub, bring them in five minutes." The woman turned on her heel and headed for the bathroom.
"May I stroke them, Dad," Norman pleaded. "I´ll wash my hands!"
"Go ahead," grinned the muggle, "but don´t tell your mother."
The child beamed and seized the potions master. Snape struggled with all his power, but the boy was astonishingly strong.
"I think the five minutes are up," the man said a little later. "Let me carry them and you close the door behind me. Cats usually don´t like a bath. Be prepared for a fight."
A fight they did put up, but in they end both wizards were thrown into a tub full of water. And what was more, the water was cold. The woman soaped Snape´s fur first, while Norman senior held Potter. Norman junior watched with glee. After the potions master had been washed to the woman´s satisfaction, she shoved him towards her husband and took hold of Potter.
If he hadn´t been covered in lavender-scented foam himself, the potions master would have found the Boy Wonder´s face funny. Never had he seen the young wizard that miserable. After a thorough soaping of Potter, they were both rinsed under the shower and then rubbed nearly dry with old towels.
"Don´t let them out of the bathroom until I have gotten rid of that rug they were sitting on earlier. We can´t have them catch the germs they were carrying again." The woman left the two Normans in charge of the cats and set out for her task.
Snape hoped she was going to let them sit near some kind of heating. The sooner their fur was dry the better. Now they were in severe danger. As long as they were wet, they had to take whatever the muggles chose to deal out as flight from the house meant certain death in the cold.
A little later they were set on a blanket beside a radiator. Potter seemed to be as aware of the danger as Snape for he sat as close to the heater as he could without being burned. It took them quite long to dry. They had spent most of the winter outside and their fur was rather thick.
It was nearly evening, when they were fed. Cat food from tins it was. Snape wondered how real cats could eat it, for it tasted vile. But then real cats had never indulged in a meal provided by the Hogwarts elves, so perhaps they just didn´t realise how bad the food was. Well, at least it was better than mice.
After their meal both cats watched out for a way to leave the house, but there was no opportunity. The three muggles stayed inside all the time. Norman juniour spent the whole day playing with his new pets. Potter chased after a small rubber ball obediently for hours. It was in the afternoon that the potions master had pity on his exhausted companion and had a go at the ball himself. After a quarter hour Snape had enough of the game and pushed the ball behind the kitchen cupboard. Norman spent the next half hour trying to get the ball back, then half an hour being shouted at by his mother for getting dirty and another half hour taking a bath.
When the boy came back, he glared angrily at the potions master and started to feed Potter small pieces of sausage.
"Want some?" he teased Snape only to pull away when he moved in to sniff at the proffered bit, "then you´d better been nice to me."
The older wizard swished his tail twice – the cat´s equivalent of a shrug – and retreated onto their new blanket, from where he watched Potter being fed salami.
When Norman´s bedtime came, there was another tense moment.
"Why can´t they sleep in my bed, Mum," the boy wailed. "We bathed them! They´re as clean as a cat can be!"
"I won´t have you scratched by two wild animals in your sleep. This is my last word." Snape thanked whatever goddess had convinced ´Mum´ of that. They had to get out of the house and hike on, but how could they if the boy took them to his room?
It was after midnight when the house was finally quiet and Snape dared to check on the front door. They were lucky. The key was in the lock.
The potions master jumped and hung on the door-handle with one of his front paws. He tried to turn the key, but it turned out difficult as it wasn´t one of those oldfashioned, big keys wizards prefered, but a modern one. A small one.
Suddenly he was seized from the handle by gentle hands and set on the floor. A hand stroked his head soothingly. The potions master turned in panic to fight the muggles nail and tooth if need be, but it was Potter who was standing behind him, gesturing to be quiet. The boy reached for the key and turned it. Then he pushed the handle and pulled the door open just wide enough to allow a cat through. Having established an escape route, the young wizard winked at his companion mischieveously, transformed and slid outside.
Snape followed like a shadow.
The potions master, who had learned early to always assume the worst, waited for desaster to strike all night while they hiked farther north. The boy had transformed in that muggle house against Snape´s advice and while part of him argued that it had been reasonable – they couldn´t have opened the door in cat form – an other, even bigger part of him wanted to strangle Potter for risking discovery.
Desaster, it seemed, had other plans for the night and didn´t come to meet the two wizards on their way through the highlands. In fact, it seemed they were experiencing a streak of luck. It was still cold, but dry and there was no wind at all. Snape was just going to point his companion towards the next village to take a rest for the day, when a horse-drawn vehicle overtook them. A young muggle with earplugs held the reins lazily.
Potter, being a Gryffindor, didn´t hesitate for an instant. He ran after the wagon and jumped. Snape thought he was going to suffer a heart attack. True, the vehicle was open, so they could jump on and off easily, but they couldn´t see what was on it. What if the boy had jumped into a load of dangerous creatures? Or poisonous plants? Then he remembered that the driver was a muggle – the earplugs gave him away – and that muggles weren´t nearly as likely to transport dangerous stuff as wizarding folks.
He was just going to run and join Potter, when the other wizard peeked over the dropside to see why he didn´t come after him. Snape caught up with the wagon with some big jumps and a moment later he sat beside Potter on a soft heap of hay. Behind the driver´s seat there were some dirty sacks of what smelled like chicken food, but most of the vehicle was filled with hay.
Potter acknowledged his arrival with a nod and stalked to a corner of the wagon. The place, Snape noticed, was well chosen. There was a soft matress of hay, the driver´s view of it was blocked by a heap of the material, it was protected from draught but nevertheless close enough to the dropside to flee quickly if need be. The younger wizard curled in a ball and closed his eyes. Snape followed his lead in curling up, but he didn´t dare to sleep. The muggle might seem harmless, but he wasn´t going to take a risk.
The potions master checked from time to time whether their muggle taxi was still heading north. By noon he thought he might not be able to stand the hunger much longer, but he wasn´t ready to give up this means of transport for some scraps of sausage. The horses went slowly, but steadily and every mile they covered by carriage they didn´t need to cover on paw.
It was the horses Snape was counting on. The muggle had to stop and give them a rest, feed them. When he did, they could try to get some food and then catch the wagon again for another trip north.
An hour after noon the muggle directed his vehicle to the left and soon they came to a halt in front of a farm house. Snape woke his companion with a nudge of his nose and they left their hiding place stealthily while the muggle greeted the farmer. The two cats sneaked into the closest stable, which turned out to be a good choice. There was a bowl of cat food on the floor and for the first time in over five months on the road they had luck on their side. The resident cat was smaller than them.
Potter hissed at the small tabby and it retreated, its ears flat on its head. The two wizards wolfed down as much of the dry feed in as short a time as they could manage. Potter stayed between the tabby and his smaller companion all the time. After a quick drink from the tabby´s water bowl, they hurried back to the wagon.
The muggle was nowhere to be seen. The horses chewed lazily on a big bucket of oat. The two cats jumped back onto the wagon. Some of the sacks were missing. They went back to their cosy corner in the hay and this time the potions master went to sleep while Potter sat guard.
Snape wouldn´t have bet on their luck to last, but it did. The muggle went north for the rest of the day. When the wagon reached another farm and it became clear that their driver wasn´t going to travel farther this day (a young blonde greeted him with a passionate kiss and they entered the house arm in arm) the two cats set out to continue their journey on paw.
The potions master tried to figure out how far they had come. Some days earlier, he had said that they had another week of hiking before them, but today they had travelled in their sleep and probably saved several days. He looked around carefully, searching for some kind of landmark he might recognise, but he had rarely approached Hogsmeade the muggle way and the incoming darkness didn´t exactly help. For all he could say, they could be minutes from the magical village as well as days.
Potter was in a good mood. The boy had been rather subdued the last days. Snape couldn´t begrudge him. The younger wizard was physically and psychically exhausted. The potions master guessed that the situation was easier to bear for himself as he had experienced far worse during his service of the Dark Lord. But Potter had been, if not loved and pampered – Snape had lost that illusion on their journey – so at least safe, fed and dry all his life. Petunia might not have spoiled her nephew, but on an overall view she had at least given him a home.
The young wizard hopped around the potions master playfully like he had done back in September, when they had just started their journey and the boy had no idea of the ordeals to come. He ran ahead and came back, nudging the potions master with his nose as if trying to make him hurry.
Snape complied gladly. He was determined to make the best of Potter´s enthusiasm for as long as it lasted. While he hurried after the boy, he thought of how to prolong Potter´s positive mood. Then, all of a sudden, Severus Snape was startled out of his reverie. About fifty meters in front of him, Harry Potter stood rooted to the spot on the top of a hill.
The potions master raced to the boy´s side. It wouldn´t do to lose his charge so close to home. After a quick glance at the other cat, he followed his companion´s eyes and gasped. It wasn´t the village down in the valley, that caught his attention, but the brightly illuminated vision on the opposite ridge.
There, overlooking the valley and the big lake in the background, stood Hogwarts castle.
It took them both several minutes to overcome the feeling of awe and longing and move again. Carefully watching out for deatheaters, Snape led the way into the bushes by the street. They couldn´t risk walking into Hogsmeade – and the only way back to Hogwarts was through the village as a detour to the Forbidden Forest wasn´t recommendable for two common house cats – on the street.
The potions master hoped that Potter was aware just how vital cattish behaviour was. The deatheaters didn´t know about them being animagi, but they had one in their own ranks and if the two fugitives acted suspiciously, one of their pursuers would sooner or later remember Wormtail´s special abilities.
They hadn´t put but some meters between themselves and the street, but the magic of the Forbidden Forest was strong and Snape couldn´t help feeling as if he was in the middle of the magical wood. There were sounds that couldn´t be heard anywhere else in Britain, sounds that told of ancient magic and danger. The hoofs of unicorns – they´d trample them to death if they came too close; whilst having a reputation of innocence, those creatures were vicious when it came to encounters with beasts of prey – sounded from a distance. Or were it centaurs? The potions master didn´t wish to end up as a training target for their young. There were also howls of what sounded like werewolves, but could also be common wolves.
Potter felt the danger, too. The bigger cat shivered.
So far it had been safer to travel by night, but here, near Hogwarts, Snape realised, it was daylight they needed. The most dangerous creatures were nocturnal, not counting the deatheaters. With deatheaters, they had the advantage that there was a chance they´d ignore two cats. If those cats behaved like proper cats.
The potions master pushed his companion closer to the road and under a particularly dense bush. The other cat rolled up into a tight ball and as Snape lay down beside the younger wizard he could still feel him shiver. So much for enthusiasm. The howl of a beast had been all it took to bring back exhaustion. The potions master snuggled up to Potter, offering warmth and comfort, which was gladly accepted. After a little while the other cat purred. It was a feeble sound, but it was – undoubtedly – a purr.
In the morning Snape led the way towards the village. They took the route through the edges of the wood, which the potions master had intended to take at night, but found too dangerous. The bushes weren´t nearly as frightening in broad daylight and Potter followed without hesitation.
"I say it´s pointless."
The older wizard stood on the spot and listened. Potter closed the distance between them and stood beside his teacher. There were several minutes of silence, but none of them was willing to go on before they knew who had spoken.
It was the same voice, but Snape was aware there had to be at least two persons. Nobody´d soliloquize in the Forbidden Forest. It was vital for humans to not be heard by its inhabitants. The second complaint gave the potions master a direction where to find the stranger. He signalled Potter to stay behind and tiptoed towards from where he thought he had heard the voice.
The boy followed like a shadow.
Snape stopped short and signalled the boy again. Potter shook his head in a very uncattish gesture. If it hadn´t been so unfeline and therefore could mean their discovery, Snape´d have banged his head on the nearest tree trunk. As it was he made a resigned gesture and they tiptoed on.
There were three of them. They wore black winter cloaks and sat around a jar of magical fire. Beside each of them lay a bony-white deatheater mask.
"They won´t be stupid enough to walk through the Forbidden Forest!" One of the men, the same who had spoken before, complained. He rubbed his hands above the jar, to little success. Magical fires weren´t nearly as warm as real ones.
"What else can they do? They have no wands," one of his companions pointed out. "They need to go back to Dumbledore. The street is the only way to reach Hogsmeade without magic – apart from the train, but we guarded that. They can´t risk staying in the forest too long. It´d be suicidal without a wand. So they have to come by here."
"Suicide might be a clever alternative to what the Lord is going to do to them when we catch them." The third man grinned in anticipation. "I don´t want to be in Snape´s shoes for the crown jewels. The Lord is going to roast him alive."
The potions master swallowed hard. Not that this was new to him, but hearing it made it more real, somehow. A slight weight on his side distracted him. Potter was rubbing his head on the potions master´s shoulder. The gesture was comforting, and even more important, quite cattish.
"Why don´t we just wait at the gates?" the first man continued his complaint. "They have to enter the grounds through the gates. If we place a guard there, they´ll fall into our hands like ripe apples."
"Because," came a cold voice from the side, "they have to cross the village to get to the gates and we don´t want them to floo into the castle from one of the houses." Lucius Malfoy stepped out of the shadows. The arrogant blond tucked his cane under his left arm and removed his expensive black leather gloves – dragon? – finger by finger. When he´d finished he took the pair into his right hand and smacked the speaker´s head with a vicious stroke.
The punished deatheater ducked to avoid being hit again.
Lucius stepped to the fire. "We can´t risk them getting help. The Dark Lord would be very displeased if they escaped. It would be wise to not warn them of our presence by shouting like a herd of baboons."
The man had barely spoken the first syllable when Lucius drew his wand from his cane like a sword from its sheath with a smooth, elegant move. The man gripped his throat and tried to speak, but no sound left his lips.
"This will teach you," Lucius drawled maliciously. He turned to one of the other two, who had paled considerably. "Any news?"
"No, Sir," he whispered.
"Don´t miss them when they come," Malfoy advised the three deatheaters, "or you´ll have to suffer much worse than my wrath." That said, the blond disapparated.
Snape and his companion observed the three deatheaters a while longer, but not a single word was spoken. The silenced man pointed his wand at his throat several times to no success. Either Lucius´ spell wasn´t easily reversed or the man wasn´t capable of nonverbal spells. The potions master suspected the latter. Nonverbal spells were not something the average witch or wizard accomplished. They were taught at Hogwarts, where the wizarding world´s finest were educated, but not even those were all able to do nonverbals. And Snape didn´t remember this man although, judging by his looks, he must have been in school after Snape had become a teacher nearly two decades ago.
When Snape was sure they weren´t going to learn more from the three guards, he nudged Potter and they slid past the deatheaters´ lair in a wide bow. The older wizard was just going to redirect them towards the street, when he heard a telltale swish. He pushed Potter as hard as he could and the two cats rolled into the bushes. With a loud thud an arrow hit a trunk where the two cats had been a moment ago.
Potter needed no further advice. He scrambled to his feet as quickly as the potions master and the two animagi fled at top speed. Both doubled frequently to not present their attacker an easy target.
"Not bad for a first try," they heard a solemn male voice behind them, but this time they didn´t stop to listen in. They ran and ran until the potions master was sure his lungs were going to explode.
He sat under a tree, panting, and looked where Potter was. The boy was sitting nearby, looking equally enfeebled, which was no surprise given the exhaustion the youth had suffered from for days. As soon as the potions master had caught his breath, he stalked over to his companion.
"Miaow?" he asked, concerned.
Potter looked at him tiredly, but gave a nod, which Snape took to mean that he was as alright as he could be under the circumstances.
Once the potions master could be certain that his charge was well, he looked around to decide how to proceed. It was only then that he saw it. There, barely twenty metres from their position, was the first house of Hogsmeade.
The two cats entered the village through the gardens. Snape led the way from one fenced in patch of land to the next, which was not always easy. Some of the inhabitants didn´t rely on fences to protect their properties, but used also spells. They weren´t so bad that the two cats couldn´t pass, but they caused a tickling feeling and Snape found them rather unpleasant. Potter´s expression told that he saw it the same way.
When they had put some distance between themselves and the "muggle entrance" of Hogsmeade, Snape led the way along the side of a house to the front. They reached the village´s main street near the Three Broomsticks, neither too far from Hogwarts nor too near. There were several people in black cloaks, whom Snape took for deatheaters. Having taught at Hogwarts for nearly two decades and having chaperoned several Hogsmeade weekends every year, he knew most inhabitants of the village at least by sight.
The potions master tried to count their opponents, but it wasn´t easy. Hogsmeade was after all the wizarding metropolis of Scotland. There were always shoppers from smaller communities, so not all strangers were deatheaters. Be it as it may, there were still many of whose being Voldemort´s followers Snape was fairly sure.
Snape had nearly forgotten about Potter. What did the boy want? He looked in the direction the younger wizard was looking at and his heart missed a beat. There, in front of a shop window, stood Molly Weasley. A little further down the road was Alastor Moody. The man over there, in the shabby cloak, was that Remus Lupin? The woman with gaudy orange hair beside him could only be Nymphadora Tonks. On second sight, Hogsmeade wasn´t only full of deatheaters, but also members of the Order of the Phoenix!
Of course! Why hadn´t he thought about it earlier? Dumbledore wasn´t going to let the deatheater guard the village without sending his own guards. The headmaster knew they´d try to get back to Hogwarts and did what he could to help.
They couldn´t go to one of their friends, the deatheaters would see them and they couldn´t risk being caught in a fight without wands, but at least there was some backup if they were recognised.
Well, looking was all nice and easy, but it wouldn´t get them home. The Hogwarts gates weren´t but two hundred meters away and they had to cover these two hundred meters one way or the other.
Suddenly Snape had an idea, but how to communicate it to Potter? He nudged the boy with his paw and tried to look meaningly, although he had no idea how a cat actually did look meaningly if ever at all, but he hoped that the other wizard would understand.
Then he arched his back, pricked up his hair and ears and hissed loudly. Potter stared at him for an instant, then he followed his teacher´s lead and hissed back threateningly. Snape raised a front paw, extended his claws and struck at Potter (he missed by a narrow margin, of course). The bigger cat hissed even louder and angrier. He tried to hit his smaller companion (again to no success, but the miss was very narrow).
Snape shrank back and showed his teeth. He tried to hit Potter with several short punches, but his range was too short. The bigger cat advanced on him, hissing and spitting.
Then Snape bolted and Potter gave chase. The witches and wizards in the street watched them with amusement. After hundred meters Potter caught up with Snape and the two cats ended up in a rolling ball of fur. Both cats hissed and showed their claws, but of course neither was hurt.
The humans watched the two cats fighting. Some of the deatheaters laughed. After a short fight, the two black cats broke apart and Snape bolted again, straight towards the Hogwarts gates. Potter came after him and caught up little by little. Snape hissed fearfully, the bigger cat answered angrily. The potions master fled even faster as if the devil incarnate was behind him.
Potter caught the potions master right after they had both jumped through a gap between the bars of the iron gates. They rolled on the gravel drive, but this time neither was hissing. They both felt like laughing and singing.
They were on Hogwarts grounds.
Albus Dumbledore stood at the entrance of the castle and beamed at them.
"Here you are, my boys," he cried happily. The old wizard bent down and picked both cats up. A beatific smile on his face, he carried the two cats up to his office.
As soon as the headmaster had set them down on the carpet, both wizards transformed.
"Harry! Severus!" Dumbledore was beside himself with joy. He hugged them in turn.
Snape was shocked how tired the boy looked. They hadn´t been able to transform for several days, he knew that the boy was exhausted, but in human form the youth looked even worse than in cat form.
"Albus," the potions master sighed, "you don´t happen to have some of your diabolic sweets here?"
"Sweets, Severus? You haven´t discovered a sweet tooth, have you?" the old wizard was bewildered.
"Hungry," Potter whispered feebly.
"Ah, yes, of course. I´m sorry my boys, how thoughtless of me." He called a house elf and ordered lunch. "And bring some fresh clothes for Professor Snape and Master Potter," he added before the elf left.
A little later, the two animagi had a light lunch of soup, bread and tea in front of Dumbledore´s fireplace. The headmaster informed the order of their safe return while they ate.
"Albus, where is Harry?" Sirius Black entered the room a little later nearly at a run.
The headmaster looked up from the book he was reading and pointed over to his sofa. There, snuggled up in a tight ball, lay two black cats, fast asleep.
Nineteen days later...
"Potter! For the umpteenth time! Occlude!"
"I´m trying! But I haven´t practiced in months and I was never good at it to start with!"
"Oh yes, I´m looking forward to that! When the Dark Lord attacks you, you´ll tell him that you had no time to practice. He´ll leave you alone and graciously come back when you had some extra training!"
"Voldemort is not going to attack me in the Room of Requirement, you git!"
"What did you just call me, you pathetic excuse for a wizard?"
Harry Potter glared at his teacher angrily and attacked viciously. Severus Snape deflected the spells with ease. He knew which spell the boy was going to use as the youth´s mind was an open book. After some defensive moves he started a counter attack and Potter was propelled against the wall.
"Ouch!" The boy cried out, but was on his feet again in an instant and attacked anew. Only to land on his behind some minutes later.
They had practiced all morning, but Potter´s occlumency was worse than ever. Snape had hoped that the boy would remember what he had learned after a while, but after several lessons the potions master had to see that they had to start all over.
"´m tired," Potter grumbled as he scrambled to his feet for what seemed like the hundreth time.
"Okay, let´s have a break," Snape growled. He followed Potter to the fireplace. The room, he had to admit, was wonderful. It had adjusted to their new needs flawlessly. Ever since they´d returned to Hogwarts, a cat bed waited for them in front of the fireplace when they came for their extra lessons. And ever since they´d found it, it never went unused.