A/N: Do not own. This sort of got away from me. It is a bit longer than usual. A brief warning, there is a PTSD near the end of the chapter. Severus gets stuck in his own mind. While it isn't explicit, it does deal with death. But honestly, if you've read this far in this story, you know how dark I write when necessary. X's are scene breaks, italics are either thoughts or dreams. And as always, use your words.
-x-

"Do we have to Alexis?"

"No Marko. You don't have to. But I would like for you to meet him." She responded for the third time, turning her eyes to the quieter twin. "How do you feel about meeting your grandfather, Milo?" Alexis inquired softly. Paul, Jake, Henry, and she had been talking to the twins about this for a week. But it would be the day their grandfather was here that they refused to see him.

He hesitated, biting his lip before glancing at his brother. "Will you be there, Alexis?"

"The whole time. Paul will also be there." She reassured again. She knew why they were scared, of course, but she had promised both of them that she wouldn't let them go with anyone she didn't approve of, that they'd never hurt like that again. She had actually met with their grandfather several times and the older man was well aware that the boys were spending the summer at the school, although they might try a day or so out with him, and that both boys would take time to warm up to and trust him. Paul was actually with him now, in a room set aside specifically for this purpose, for the campers to met guardians within the safety of the castle.

Marko scoffed, shuffling in place. He didn't like being still but he wasn't sure he wanted to meet this man. The man had never cared about them before, hadn't even met them before, so why should he care now? His brother was more likely to give him a chance, because Milo was like that. "He never cared before."

She closed her eyes for a moment, not moving from where she was standing. They were in a hallway, they had been halfway to the room when Marko started getting angry. Since he was the one most likely to hit when he got upset, she had stopped their journey to find out why he was upset. And there it was. Their grandfather had never contacted them, never met them before. They were fourteen and he was now just entering their lives. She understood why their grandfather hadn't been there all along, she had asked after all. "He cared, Marko. But he wasn't allowed around you for reasons that I cannot explain. I know you are scared, but Paul and I will be right there. " She responded finally, meeting both of the twins eyes. She had known that convincing Marko might be a problem. Marko was the more hot-tempered of the two, more likely to swing first and ask questions later. Whereas Milo was calmer, quieter, shy. Milo would be more likely to give their grandfather a chance, even though she knew that it would take him longer to trust him than it would Marko.

Milo met his twin's eyes, tilting his head slightly. He was curious to meet the man, even though he didn't trust him. But he trusted Alexis and Paul. He was still a bit scared and he wasn't above hiding behind Alexis or Paul if he needed to. "Okay."

He grumbled under his breath for a moment before nodding slightly. He didn't want to do this, it would just be another adult who didn't give a damn about them. But he would do it for his brother, or at least he would try. "Fine."

Grey eyes gazed between the two of them for a moment before she nodded and beckoned for the boys to follow her again. She stopped outside the door, turning back to the silent teenagers. "Are you ready?"

"I don't think we'll ever be ready, Alexis." Milo responded quietly, glancing at his brother again before turning back to her.

Of course they wouldn't be. These two boys had been hurt so much that they didn't trust easily, didn't want to be hurt again. She had promised them, repeatedly, that she would not allow anyone to harm them like that again. But like everything else with the camp children, actions spoke much louder than words. "Alright then. Let's go meet your grandfather." She slowly opened the door, catching Paul's eyes before stepping into the room. She waited a moment but when neither boy followed her, she stuck her head back into the hallway. "It's okay, boys. You are safe here." She stated softly, for their ears alone. It took a moment for Marko to step into the room, gently tugging his brother along with him. The child might have a temper but he was always aware of his brother's feelings and he protected the other boy.

Paul eyed the two teenagers, fighting down a sigh. Milo looked terrified and Marko looked pissed. He had warned Stefan that the boys would spook easily, to let them come to him, to not touch them without explicit permission. He had explained that they might acted younger than they were, that they might refuse to speak to him. The older man had taken it all in stride. Hopefully, he would remember what he and Alexis had told him.

"Marko, Milo, this is your grandfather, Stefan." Alexis introduced, glancing at the older gray-haired man before turning her eyes back to the boys. She had a feeling it was only a matter of time before Milo darted away. He might be the calmer of the two, but he was also the more easily frightened of the two.

"Hello Marko and Milo." Stefan stated calmly, tilting his head slightly when the one he thought was Milo shifted slightly behind the young headmistress. He had listened to both of the healers, so he understood that the boys might be afraid of them, but he had hoped they wouldn't be. He hadn't seen either boy since they were born, not by choice of course. If he had known what was happening in that house...but that was the past and he couldn't fix that. The only thing he can do right now was offer the boys a safe, loving home.

Marko scoffed, dropping his eyes to the floor. "Hello." He mumbled finally, scuffing his shoes against the floor. The man was old and he didn't seem mean, but that didn't mean anything.

"Can we sit down and talk?" Stefan asked carefully, frowning when one of the boys ducked even further behind Alexis.

"That sounds like a great idea." Paul remarked, gesturing toward Marko. It took a minute for the teenager to move toward him. He guided him to one of the couches, waiting for the boy to sit down before he sat beside him. He knew Alexis would have her hands full with Milo and he also knew Marko well enough to know that sitting with him was his best move right now.

She turned slowly, keeping her body between the young teenager and the older man for a moment, so that he could feel safe. "Do you want to go sit down? No? Would you like to move closer?" She inquired quietly, sighing when he shook his head. She turned back around, shaking her head slightly. "We're just going to hang out over here for a while."

Paul nodded, glancing at the terrified child before turning his focus back to the angry child. "Do you have anything you want to ask, Marko?"

"Yeah. Why the fuck did you never visit us? Never care about us?" He snapped, darting his eyes to the older man before glancing away. He could have sworn he had seen hurt in the man's eyes. Good. He had never cared about them, so he didn't care if he hurt him.

"Marko, we've talked about using words like that." Paul shook his head, sending an apologetic look toward the boys grandfather. He had warned him, but he did know that he probably hadn't actually expected it.

He grimaced, shaking his head without bothering to hide the sadness in his eyes. He had expected the question at some point, he just hoped the boys could understand. "Not by choice. Your parents refused to let me see you. They didn't approve of my partner. I'm going to assume that neither of you ever got the letters and packages I sent you."

"You sent us letters?"

He turned his eyes to the boy peeking around the headmistress. Both healers had told him that the teenagers might display behaviour that was younger than they were but it still shocked him. He knew some of what happened to these boys and it had made him so angry that their parents had harmed them so. It was upsetting, seeing the damage that had been done to his grandchildren, the emotional and mental damage. "I did. I sent you letters every month since you were born." He had hoped that one day their parents would have slipped up and the boys would have managed to get at least one letter but that hadn't happened. He did blame himself partly for this, if he had only fought harder to see them...that was in the past now and the boys needed him in the present.

"You have a partner?" Marko frowned, tilting his head slightly. That made sense then, his parents hated gay people. Hated all kinds of people, really. He didn't want to think about it logically though. That was Milo's job. His job was to be angry,

"Yes. His name is Patrick and he looks forward to meeting the two of you one day soon." He would have brought the other man but Alexis had asked him not to, this time, so that the boys wouldn't feel overwhelmed.

Milo hesitated before slowly moving around Alexis. He slipped his hand into the woman's, nodding when she looked at him. He thought maybe he could sit down, maybe he could try to give their grandfather the chance to explain, to talk to them. But only if Alexis stayed beside him. "Okay." He whispered, meeting her eyes when she gestured to another couch. They could try, at least.

-x-

"Just take it off, Damien!"

"Leave me alone!"

"It needs to be washed!"

"Shut up! Shut up!"

He didn't bother knocking, striding calmly into the room. "What is going on in here?" Tim inquired, raising an eyebrow at the teenager for a moment before turning his eyes to the preteen.

"He told me I had to take it off!" Damien whined, pulling the robe tighter to his body.

Isaac rolled his eyes, used to his brother's dramatics. "That's not what I said. I said it stinks."

"I don't stink!"

"Damien...has the robe been washed at all since I gave it to you?" He asked calmly, forcing down a sigh when the child looked away. The boy had had the robe for four or five days now, no wonder Isaac was trying to get it off him. He had thought that it had been washed at least once, while the boy slept, but now it hit him that the child was sleeping in it. Preteen boys and hygiene was going to be the death of him.

"You need a shower and that robe needs to be washed." Isaac added, meeting the little brat's eyes. Sometimes Damien drove him crazy. He knew his brother wasn't fond of showering, but he did stink and he knew the other boys would tease him about it when school started. He hadn't expected Tim to intervene however. Damien was his brother, he was responsible for him, not the adults.

"I'm not taking it off!" He stomped his foot, turning away from his brother and toward Tim. He didn't want to take it off. He felt safe when he had it on, like nothing could hurt him. It still smelt like Tim and that made him feel so much safer than he normally did.

"Don't be stupid, you can't take a shower with it on." Isaac retorted, rolling his eyes.

"I'm not stupid! I'm not showering!"

"You need a shower." He responded, glaring at his brother. The younger boy was so damn stubborn. It wasn't as if a shower would hurt him. And he stunk.

"No!"

Tim shook his head, frowning at Isaac for a moment before turning his eyes to Damien. "Damien, would it be alright if I shrunk down one of Eric's robes or another one of mine, so that we could wash this one? I'll make sure you get it back." He inquired calmly, crouching so he was on the preteen's level.

He hesitated, chewing on his lip for a moment. "That'd be okay. Can I pick it out?" Damien answered finally, grinning when the older man nodded. He still wasn't taking a shower, though. They couldn't make him.

"There are a few you can't pick from but I'll show those to you. Why don't we go pick one of those out and I can shrink it while you are showering." As well as talk to his brother, because Isaac, as closed off as he normally was, looked angry and he had a feeling that anger wasn't directed at Damien.

"Not showering." He folded his arms over his chest, scowling at the healer.

"Damien-"

"You stink. If you don't shower, no one will play with you." Isaac snapped, trying to fight down his irritation at the healer for interfering. He had this, he could take care of his brother, he had done it for years without help.

"That's not true! Malik and Ben will play with me!"

"Then they're stupid! You-"

"Isaac!" Tim interrupted sharply but he didn't raise his voice. He knew he needed to stop this before either boy said something they would regret. "Why don't we all take a deep breath and calm down?"

Damien huffed, biting his lip to keep the tears locked inside. He wasn't allowed to cry, he knew that. He just wasn't sure why Isaac was being so mean to him. Isaac knew why he didn't like water. He didn't want to take a shower, he didn't feel safe enough here yet. He took a slow deep breath, like Tim had shown him, to keep the hurt and fear down.

He knew that he wouldn't calm down, not around this man. Not right now. He was too angry and he was trying hard to force it down so as to not scare Damien. He couldn't go off around Damien, he couldn't do that to his brother. But he was angry and he didn't even know why! He just knew that he was the one responsible for his brother, not Tim. He was the one who had to make sure his brother was dressed properly, slept well, ate well, did well in school. That was his job. "Fuck you." He growled, glaring at the man for a brief moment before high-tailing it out of the room.

Tim caught the younger boy as he lunged after his brother, wrapping his arms around the dark-skinned child. "Easy Damien. He'll be okay, just let him go right now." He murmured, debating for a moment before lifting the child up into his arms, feeling his little arms wrap around his neck. The boy did smell like body odor and sweat but no worse than any other preteen boy who didn't understand personal hygiene. He fought down a sigh but he knew the instant decision he had made, to tend to Damien instead of going after Isaac, was the best one for the moment. He knew Eric would take care of Isaac, thankfully the man had come home when he did.

He grimaced, not looking up to see whose chest he had barreled into. Since he was in Tim and Eric's quarters and Tim had stayed in Damien's room, he was fairly certain that the tall, broad chest he had run into was not Rose. He tried to move around the man, who must have just come in the door since it was still open, but flinched when a hand landed gently on his shoulder.

He sighed softly, listening to the silent information Tim sent him, gently grasping the teenager's shoulder. He had just come home, hoping to relax for a moment before they had to attend supper in the dining hall. It seemed that that wouldn't be happening They had wondered when Rose or Isaac would act out or snap at one of them. It just so happened that Isaac would test them first. "Why don't we take a walk?" He suggested calmly, moving slowly without removing his hand. He knew if he let go, Isaac would take off.

Isaac bit his lip, stealing a quick glance up to see how angry Eric was. He didn't think the older man would beat him, but he never could be sure. He did know that he wasn't exactly angry at Eric, yet, and Eric wouldn't know what had happened, he had probably just heard the last bit of shouting. He hesitated for a moment before nodding and letting Eric guide him into the hallway. He walked beside the man, trying to ignore the comforting weight on his shoulder as he tried to figure out where they were going. If he knew where they were heading, he could figure out the best route out of there, if he needed to escape.

He kept a firm hand on the teenager's shoulder, guiding him to the terrace garden off of the infirmary. He figured it was far enough away from their quarters that the teen would calm down a bit during the walk. Eric stopped at the stretch of bare wall, resting his hand on it a moment before opening the door that appeared.

He loved magic. Isaac knew they were near the medical wing but he hadn't know that this balcony was here and Rose had never mentioned it. He eyed the plants growing in pots around the railing and on small tables, frowning slightly. While he certainly wasn't Bain, he recognized several of them as ingredients in potion. There were a few he had used to treat his and Damien's injuries at his father's house as well. "What is this place?" He asked, curious, stepping further out onto the balcony when Eric released his shoulder.

"It is a herbal garden for the infirmary. It also acts as a small bit of solace and freedom for those who cannot leave the medical floor for whatever reason." He gave a soft smile, settling down in his usual patio chair. Even when he was angry, the boy's curiosity always shown through. He was glad that Isaac's parents hadn't managed to beat that out of him. He observed the teenager silently for a moment before turning his eyes to the grounds. The boy would not be able to get out of here without him, after all.

"It's beautiful."

"That it is."

Isaac hesitated, eyes staring out over the vast grounds he could see before them, leaning against the railing for a moment. He had a feeling it had the same wards on it as the towers did, so no one could fall accidentally or jump. He didn't feel as angry as he had before but he was still angry. Damien was his responsibility, he could handle him. Alone. Without any interference.

"Do you want to talk about why you are so angry, Isaac?" He inquired quietly, meeting eyes the color of his own before they quickly darted away.

He huffed, turning dark eyes to stare back over the grounds. Of course he didn't want to talk about it. Because he couldn't quite explain how intense and
almost irrational his anger had felt at first. Maybe he just wanted to push them away because he knew they would leave anyway. No one ever cared for long, so why let Damien get attached? Why let Tim interfere? "No."

He shrugged, tapping a nearby table. It was not more than a few moments later when a tea tray popped in. "That's alright, we'll just sit here until you are ready to talk." He had to fight down a chuckle at the glare sent toward him. He had faced down many angry teenagers before and he had out-waited all of them. "Tea?"

"No!"

He sighed softly, shaking his head. He had a feeling this might take a while.

-x-

"You can pick any one of those robes." Tim remarked quietly, pulling the last set of suitable robes to the front of the closet. Some of them were just their everyday robes instead of being their work robes but they were all suitable for a child to wear.

He ran his hand over a black robe with purple trim, trying to sneakily sniff it. He knew the older wizard would understand why he smelt them, as the smell helped him feel safe, but he also knew that some people would find that weird. "What are the robes that are black and gold for? There's only two of them." He inquired, curious. Of all the robes Tim and Eric had, there were only two that were black with gold trimming and gold symbols. Those were also one of the few robes Tim had said he couldn't pick. They were the exact same length, which was odd because Tim and Eric's robes tended to be different lengths and different style cuts. Both men were tall but one was a bit taller than the other.

He didn't have to glance at the robes to know which ones the child meant. "Those our are ceremonial healers robes, they have our rank and field of study on them. We wear them only to meetings of the Healers guild and ceremonies where they are required." He responded, carefully pulling his out of the closet. There were a few healers who wore theirs at work, they were usually administrators, but most healers did not. They were hot and itchy, for one thing. The robes were also suppose to be worn only for ceremonies, rituals, and certain guild meetings. He moved it so Damien could see the symbols, lowering it to the child's level. "This one is mine. Do you see the difference between the symbols on this one and my other robes?"

"It still has the two hands holding a heart, that's the healer's symbol right? But it also has a head above the heart and your other robes don't. What does the line mean?" Damien hesitated for a moment, glancing at Tim before carefully tracing the symbols with his finger. The line was a different color than the other symbols, right under the hands and heart.

He knew the child would notice most of the differences, even if he missed a few of the smaller details. "That is the healer's symbol but look at the hands. One is smaller than the other, a mark for pediatric healers. The skull is a mark for mind-healers. The color of the line denotes my rank. I am a senior healer, so it is blue." He explained, letting the child run his hands over it again before slowly putting it back in the closet and pulling out his husband's. "This is Eric's."

"He doesn't have a head." He pointed out, eyeing the details on that robe. There were two lines that were a different color from Tim's and there was an odd symbol above the hands and heart. "What is this one?"

"While he does some mind healing work, he is considered as an advanced pediatric healer, which is what the first line is for. The second is his rank. The symbol states that he has the full authority of the guild to enforce the rules of the guild." He waited until the child was done running his hands over it before putting it back up. He was actually glad that he didn't have to enforce guild rules, because that meant he would have to attend more than one guild meeting a year and he hated those, they were rather dull.

Damien hesitated for a moment before finally pulling the black and purple robe out. It had a purple healer's symbol and it smelt like Eric. He already had a robe that smelt like Tim, so he wanted one of Eric's. "You have different ranks?"

"We do. Eric is a higher rank than me. Is that the robe you want?"

"Yes, please."

Tim slowly removed his wand, carefully tapping it to the robe before setting it on his bed. "Let's get the dirty robe off so you can wear this one." The child really needed a shower but he knew that would be a battle and he could wait a moment to start that battle, so that the child had a security blanket, or robe in this case, to hold on to.

He hesitated for a moment before trying to slip out of it. He had gotten better at putting robes on but he still struggled a little with taking them off, particularly since he didn't want to take it off.

Tim bit down a chuckle, gently tugging the robe the rest of the way off of the child's arms. He set the robe aside, he would wash it later that night, and picked up the fresh robe. He held it out to the preteen, smiling softly when the child hugged it to himself. He sat down on the bed, tapping the space next to him.

"Come sit."

Damien clutched the robe tighter, wanting to put it on but also wanting to just hold it for a moment. He slowly moved to sit beside the healer, looking up at the older man. "I don't want to take a shower."

"I know, Damien. Is there a reason you don't want to?" He questioned quietly, raising an eyebrow when the child wrapped his arms around his knees, burying his face in his knees while still clutching the robe as hard as he possibly could. "You are safe here, Damien. We promised that we would never harm you like that. I know you are upset, I just want to help."

"Our father liked to hold me under water to punish Isaac. I don't like water. It scares me." The dark-skinned child answered finally, rubbing the robe against his cheek. It made him feel safe as it smelled like Eric and he knew neither man would harm him. He had never felt that kind of safe before, like someone besides his brother cared enough about him to fight for him, to protect him.

Tim closed his eyes for a moment, forcing down his anger. He would love to go hex Damien's father but he had a child who needed him now. He could always hunt down the man later. "I am so sorry he did that to you, Damien. It's okay to be scared but I want you to understand that we would never allow that to happen to you again. " He responded softly, slowly setting a gentle hand on the boy's shoulder.

He slowly unfurled his body, releasing his knees and leaning into Tim's side for a moment. He still held tight to the robe, hesitating for a brief moment before lunging his little body into Tim's lap space. He liked it when the healers held him, it made him feel even safer. The only one who had ever held him like that was Isaac and his brother had been pulling away more and more. "Don't wanna shower."

He wrapped his arms around the child, shifting him so that he would be more comfortable. "It's okay, Damien. It's okay." He soothed, running his hand over the child's braids. Remus had convinced him that dreads needed a lot of care and attention, so the child had decided on box braids. He had a feeling that he had decided on that because Eric's hair was currently in box braids. He kept carefully running a hand over the child's braids, knowing that the boy found it soothing but he was also trying not to hurt the child, as he knew that the tighter braids closer to his skull would hurt if touched the wrong way. "What would it take to make you feel safe enough to shower?" He inquired when he felt the child was calm enough, though he still held him. He would not deny Damien the care and affection he so desperately wanted and needed.

He chewed on his lip, thinking in over for a few moments and tilting his head closer to the hand stroking his hair. He liked it when they did that. There were very few ways he would feel safe showering until he felt comfortable there, he knew that. But he did know how he could feel safer doing it, it was just babyish. "I...maybe if..could you sit outside the door? So no one could come in?" He mumbled, burying his face into Tim's chest, his free hand gripping the older man's robes. He still clutched Eric's robes, he wasn't going to let go of it any time soon.

"Of course I will." He answered, stroking the child's back with one hand. "Why don't we just sit here for a little bit and then, when you are ready, we can try that." He added quietly, feeling the child relax slightly. It wouldn't be the first door he had guarded to make a child feel safe and he knew it wouldn't be that last. But for now, he was content to just hold the child until he felt safe enough to try to shower.

-x-

Mary raised an eyebrow, pausing for a brief moment before continuing down the hallway and clearing her throat. She fought down a smirk when the two teenagers leaped apart. "Benjamin, Claire."

She blushed but met Mary's eyes firmly. She knew the older woman wouldn't hurt her and Mary was always good to talk to because it felt like her counselor cared, like she was listening to her. "We weren't doing anything that we shouldn't be." She stated, frowning when Ben backed up against the wall. He wasn't looking at either of them. The brunette had known that she had surprised him when she had kissed him, they had just been talking after all, but she was certain he liked her as well.

"I know that, Claire. It's alright. You aren't in trouble." She responded calmly, glancing at the teenage girl before turning her eyes back to Benjamin. She was almost positive that he had not initiated this, he looked terrified. "It's okay, Benjamin. It's okay." She added softly, sighing when he shrunk closer to the wall. She knew him well enough now to know the signs that he was close to a panic attack. While his attacks had been getting better, they still happened.

He knew he shouldn't have kissed her back, should have just said no. Because he could say no, right? That's what Jake and Mary have told their group repeatedly., that they had the power to say no if someone touched them and they didn't want them to. He tried to take a deep breath, tried to focus like Jake had taught him, but he couldn't. He could feel his heart pounding faster, his palms sweating. He shouldn't be afraid of Mary. He knew Mary, she was safe. She wouldn't hurt him, right?

Claire blinked, eyes widening when Ben started shaking. She knew his group was for kids from really bad homes but she didn't understand what he could be afraid of. Mary wouldn't hurt them.

She crouched slightly, so that she was more on the short teenager's level. The starvation he had gone through had kept him from having a growth spurt just yet. "Benjamin, look at me. Open your eyes please." She ordered briskly, waiting until dark eyes met hers. "Deep breath in and hold it. Good, now breathe out. And in."

He breathed out, listening to her calm voice. He kept following her pattern until he felt the calm reach his centre, when he felt his heart slow and his stomach stopped churning. "I'm okay." He stated finally, keeping his eyes locked with the older woman.

"That's good. Do you want to tell me what's going on?" She inquired calmly, fighting down a sigh when he glanced at the teenage girl. She wouldn't get anything from him right now, but she had hope that teenager would tell her or Jake later.

He shook his head, glancing at Claire again. As much as he knew it would make him feel better, he couldn't say anything in front of her. Even though he did like her, he didn't trust her. He only trusted his group and their counselors to keep his secrets, to understand why he had panic attacks, why he couldn't always keep it at bay. "Can we head back to camp?"

She nodded, shaking her head when the boy quickly took off before turning her eyes to Claire. The sadness and confusion on the child's face pulled at her heart. "It wasn't you, Claire, and it wasn't your fault. Sometimes these things happen and that's okay." She remarked gently, catching the teenager's eye.

She hesitated, biting her lip for a moment. Maybe she should have asked him before she kissed him but she was certain he liked her too. She just didn't want to cause him pain. "Will Ben be okay?"

"He will be with time. Everyone at camp this summer just needs a bit of time to heal and grow. Give him some time." The amount of growing Claire had done in these short few weeks showed her, at least, that all of these kids just needed a bit more time to heal. Time to learn how to be themselves, how to be healthy, and how to let others in. It would take a bit longer with her and Jake's group, but she did have hope.

-x-

Two cups of tea later and he was watching the sun set over the forest. While the teenage boy was still leaning on the railing, a cup of tea in his hands, he knew the younger man was calmer. Hopefully calm enough to be willing to tell him what had happened. But Isaac barely spoke as it was, so he wasn't expecting miracles here. "I know you are angry Isaac. I just want to help."

"I don't need help." He grumbled, keeping his eyes focused on the grounds. He wasn't going to sit down and he wasn't going to give in. He was perfectly capable of handling his brother, they had no right to interfere.

"Alright."

He blinked, turning his head slightly to glance at the healer. While he wasn't sure how long they had been out there, he knew it had been at least two hours. He hadn't expected the healer to give it so easily. "Can I go now?"

"Not yet. Are you hungry?" He forced down a sigh when the teenager glared at him before turning back around. He knew that the boy probably hoped that he would give it but he wasn't. He had been a healer since before Isaac had been born. Hell, before Alexis was born even. Eric was well aware that if he waited long enough the teenager would either get angrier and go off or give in and talk to him. Either way, they weren't leaving until the child told him what had made him so angry, though he did have guesses.

"Fuck off. I'm leaving." Isaac stated after several more minutes of silence, stalking from the railing toward the door. He turned the handle, growling when the door didn't budge. "Let me out!"

So it was going to be angry then. "No." He grimaced, stopping the tea cup from hitting him but he couldn't keep the tea itself from landing on him. He ignored the stickiness, raising an eyebrow at the teenage boy. To be fair, he looked shocked about what he had done. He kept his eyes focused on the teenager, quite aware that the boy was trembling from fear instead of rage now. He set the cup on the little table, keeping his movements exaggerated. "While I don't appreciate having cups thrown at me, I am not angry Isaac. I will not harm you." He stated calmly, meeting the child's eyes when they briefly flew to his.

"But I tried to hurt you." He protested, frowning slightly. He would have never thrown something at his father, although he had fought back to protect his brother a few times. He knew his father would have beaten him harshly for what he had just done. He wasn't even sure why he had done that. He was angry, sure, but he didn't have a death wish, not today at least.

He sighed softly, gesturing toward the chair next to his. He knew exactly what the teenager was doing, even if the boy hadn't realized it yet. He was testing him to see what his response would be. "I'm not going to beat you, Isaac. Come sit down." He waited a few minutes before beckoning to the teenager once more. "I promise I will not harm you, Isaac. I just want to talk to you." He reassured again. The trembling teenager reminded him so much of Remus in that moment, of the first time his eldest had lost his temper. He had to swear an oath on his magic to get Remus to believe him, that first time. He had a feeling he might have to do that with Isaac.

He grimaced, backing up even further. Talking was never just talking. His father had tried that trick a time or two before he had wised up. He couldn't get off the terrace but he could try to put some space between them, to delay the inevitable. "I didn't mean... I'm sorry!"

"Look at me, Isaac." He ordered calmly, waiting for those brown eyes to met his. There was a small bit of fear in those eyes but there was more resignation than anything else. It wouldn't matter what he said, the child would believe he was going to be beaten regardless. "I know you do not believe me and that is alright. But I swear on my magic that I will not harm you. You will not come away from this bruised and beaten."

But an oath on magic was serious! It couldn't be broken easily, because the user could permanently lose their magic. If Eric swore on his magic that he wouldn't hurt him, he knew the older man wasn't bluffing. He had seen the brief flash of magic after all. He just wasn't sure why. Why would the older man swear an oath to not harm him when he had thrown a cup at him? His father had beaten him for much less. Hell, he never would have thrown a cup at his father.
"But...why?"

He bit back a sigh, holding the child's gaze. "Why?" He knew what the child was trying to ask but he also wanted Isaac to verbalize it, as well as he could.

"Why...why would you do that?"

"I know you do not trust easily and I wanted you to feel a little bit safer. While I wouldn't harm you, I knew that an oath on my magic might help you believe that. You have been conditioned to fear and obey. It will take time for you to trust Tim and I, and that is alright. Until then, the oaths will hopefully help you feel just a little safer." Eric explained calmly. There was not as much fear in those eyes now, as the teenager nodded. He had known that swearing an oath would build trust, however temporary. Now he just had to get the child to open up some.

He blinked, staring at the older man for a long moment. He had taken an oath to make him feel safer? But if he violated that oath, his magic wouldn't be the same. He was almost certain that healer wouldn't beat him now, unless he didn't care about his magic. "I apologize for throwing that at you. It was childish of me." He remarked finally, dropping his eyes back to the patio. He didn't even feel as angry now, even if it was still under the surface some.

Eric turned his eyes back to the grounds, hoping that would help Isaac feel more comfortable. "Would you like to tell me why you are so angry?"

He grimaced, biting his lip. The man with skin darker than his wasn't looking at him, which did help. He had said it nonchalant, almost like he didn't care but he knew he did. "I...Damien is my responsibility. I can take care of him just fine without help." He answered, gazing out over the grounds. It really was beautiful, especially as it became darker out. He had a feeling that the grounds would look beautiful under the night sky from here. So beautiful that he might even had to paint it.

"You are not an adult, Isaac. It shouldn't have to be your responsibility to raise your brother." He replied calmly, ignoring the glare shot his way.
"I don't need help!"

He sighed softly, turning his eyes back to the teenager. He understood where the boy was coming from, he really did, but he wasn't an adult. Damien wasn't his responsibility. Rather the preteen was his and Tim's responsibility, as soon as the paperwork was filed. "That's not what I said, Isaac. You have done a good job taking care of your brother. But it isn't your job to take care of him anymore. We talked about Tim and I becoming your guardians, which means we would be responsible for raising the two of you." He paused for a moment, catching the boy's eyes once more. "Wouldn't it be nice to be able to just be a teenager? To not have to worry if your brother was eating properly, if his shot's were up to date, if he was taking proper care of his hair. It wouldn't make you his brother any less. But you wouldn't have to be his parent any more."

He blinked, chewing on his lip for a moment. He had no idea if his brother had even had shots or been to a doctor in the last several years. That hadn't occurred to him. He just knew he had to take care of and protect his brother. Because they wouldn't stick around. No one every did. "No. It's my job!"

"Why?"

"Because you'll leave!" He snapped before grimacing. He hadn't meant to say that, because he almost didn't want it to be true. The two men were growing on him and he knew Damien liked them. Hell, sometimes he was even jealous of how safe they made Damien feel.

"We won't." He shook his head when the child started to protest. "Listen to me for a moment please, Isaac. We won't leave. Nothing you or Damien, or even Rose, does could push us away. Our magic is already forming bonds with the three of you. It has only done that twice before. Even if it didn't form those bonds, Tim and I keep up with every apprentice and ward we have ever had. I've been working a very long time, Isaac, and I have had many apprentices. I haven't forgot a single one of them. But you and Damien and Rose? You are more than apprentices and wards to us. Our magic is forming familial bonds with yours. I have a book on familial bonds if you would like to read it. We would never break a bond as special as that. You cannot drive us away. I know you are afraid to let us in because you are afraid of the pain if we leave. But we won't leave. I can promise you that." He had raised two very stubborn teenagers who were now mostly well-adjusted adults and who both knew they were loved unconditionally. While it still pained him that they hadn't been able to adopt Alexis, no matter the bonds they had formed with her, she was still a part of their family and it brought Filius in to it as well. He understood the teenager's fears but they would not abandon any of the children currently staying in their quarters.

He hesitated, thinking it over for a few minutes. He didn't know much about familial bonds but he knew he could research them to see if the man was telling the truth. He thought he was though, he just wasn't sure if he wanted to trust them just yet.

-x-

Alexis bit back a smile, observing the camp lounge from her chair for a moment. Almost every one of the counselors had a lap full of preteen. This happened nightly the closer it got to bedtime because even the most withdrawn, angry preteen wanted comfort sometimes. There were some, like little Ben, who had never been held before and craved the physical contact. And then there were some, like the young teenager curled into her side who had just had a tough day. She kept an arm wrapped around Milo, glancing at the shifting teenager for a moment before turning back to the papers on her lap. Her eyes darted back up at the shriek, tightening her hold on Milo, who had buried himself into her side. She wasn't even sure who had screamed, since Lila was calmly sitting on Jake's lap and Anna was on Kate's lap.

Henry sighed softly, moving causally toward a very unhappy preteen. It would only take a moment for the other counselors to realize what was happening, but he knew he needed to intervene now before this went any further. "Louis." He said softly, catching the boy's eyes for a moment before the dark eyes looked away. "Let her go please."

"No."

While he wasn't sure why the young preteen had hold of the girl's wrist, he did know that he was hurting her and that she clearly had not agreed to this. "I know you are angry, Louis. But you are hurting Melody." He responded calmly, kneeling so that he was on level with the two children who had been sitting on the floor. Melody kept trying to pull away from the boy and he knew that soon it would get violent. Not because the girl was violent, but because he was pretty sure Louis was going to be violent if he couldn't get him under control quickly.

"No!" He tightened his grip and yanked hard, smirking when she shrieked again. Louis didn't care if he hurt her, she had hurt him first, even if she had said she didn't mean it. It didn't matter. She had hurt him so he was going to hurt her, even if it did make him feel a little bad inside. But he didn't understand those emotions, he had always hurt the kids at his primary school if they were mean to him. So why couldn't he here? That was the way it worked, right? He was suppose to hurt those who hurt him, right?

Alexis went to move, frowning when a hand grabbed hold of her arm. "I think Henry needs my help, Milo. I'll be back."

"No Alexis. Stay. He will hurt you." He pleaded, eyes focused on the older woman. If he let her leave she would get hurt, he just knew it. But he also knew she was an adult and the headmistress so he couldn't really stop her. He just had to keep her here for a few minutes longer. Just long enough so that she would be safe.

She sighed softly, her eyes catching Phil's for a moment. Jake and Charlie both had a child sitting on their laps, Mary was somewhere and Kate looked slightly terrified of the child. Hopefully Phil and Henry could get it under control while she tried to convince Milo to let go. "I'll be careful Milo. But he is hurting Melody and we don't want that to happen, right?"

"He'll hurt you."
She fought the urge to roll her eyes, meeting the young teen's eyes for a moment before turning back toward where Louis and Melody were. He was an eleven-year-old untrained boy, there wasn't much harm he could do to her.

"Let go of Melody please, Louis." Phil ordered calmly, crouching down on the other side of the boy, making sure that he wasn't so close that Louis would feel trapped. He knew the child well enough now to know that he was angry and Melody had probably accidentally set him off. "I know you are angry but we have talked about this. You can't hurt someone just because you are upset."

He scoffed, shaking his head. He could hurt her if he wanted too. He had freedom to make his own choices, isn't that what his counselor always told him? That he could make his own decisions. And while Louis knew he might feel bad about it or not like the consequences to his actions, she had been teasing him. She had hurt him first. So he wanted her to feel his pain because he felt so much pain today. "Leave us alone."

Henry frowned, eyes narrowing at the brief flash of pain in those dark eyes. He tilted his head, ignoring the child's overwhelming anger for a moment and studying the boy's body language. While he had noticed the child's rage immediately, it wasn't the rage that concerned him. Louis was an eleven-year-old boy, while he could hurt Melody, he didn't think he would do much harm to her. No, it was the pain the child shoved down and the fear that made his hand tighten around Melody's wrist. It was fear that made the child's movements stiff and tense. He had a feeling he could make an educated guess about why Louis was so upset. "What does today mean to you, Louis?"

He shrugged, dropping his eyes to the ground but keeping his hand around Melody's wrist. He could always pull on it again the distract the man if he needed to. "Leave us alone." He repeated, grimacing when Phil settled down beside him. He definitely might have to hurt her again, because he was not talking about this. He was angry and she had hurt him. That was all that mattered.

"We can't do that, Louis. Not when you are hurting someone." Henry sighed softly, keeping it to himself that he was actually beginning to believe that the child might harm himself. The child's grip had relaxed on the blond girl's wrist but the little girl didn't try to pull away.

"I'm sorry I teased you Louis. I wasn't trying to hurt you." Melody stated softly, meeting the boy's dark eyes for a moment before finally tugging her wrist free. She knew that the boy wanted to be angry and she had been a close target. She had dealt with bullies in primary school, after all. But she also knew that while Louis got angry and violent, it wasn't her he was mad at. Like all the other preteens there that summer, she knew he had demons of his owns. Just like she did.

He hesitated, glancing at her wrist, which she had pulled closer to her body, before meeting her eyes. While Melody had upset him, he did know that his counselors wanted him to learn to handle his anger. But he wasn't angry at her. She was just there. "It's okay. I'm sorry I hurt you." He responded flatly, eyes going back to the floor.

The emotionless tone of the preteen could fool many but Phil had been working with him for a couple of weeks now and he was well aware that the boy was still very angry. He waited until the preteen girl had finally stood and left before sliding a bit closer to the child. " Would you like to talk about it?"

"No."

"It'll make you feel better." Henry remarked quietly, making a mental note to keep a close eye on the preteen, even closer that he already was. Because there was an inkling of darkness in those young eyes,an anger so strong that he was afraid the child might harm himself or seriously injure someone else.

"No it won't." Louis scowled, keeping his eyes locked on the floor. He had no idea why adults said stupid things like that. Because it wouldn't make it better. It would make it real and real was painful. At least in his head he could force it down, push it away. He wasn't going to talk about it. He'd rather just hit somebody.

Phil bit back a sigh meeting Henry's eyes for a moment. He knew they would get nothing out of the child now. And as much as he wanted to send the child to his bunk room to think about his actions, he was almost afraid to let him be alone, because he wasn't quite sure what the boy might do. "If you change your mind about talking, we are here for you. Now, since you hurt Melody, you are going to come sit with me for the remainder of the night." He stated firmly, meeting angry blue eyes until they darted away.

"I apologized." He grumbled, clenching his fist for a long moment. He hadn't meant the apology of course, but that shouldn't matter. It wasn't his fault that Melody had made him angry, even if that hadn't really been her fault either.

He shook his head, sending a quick look to Henry. He should have it from here and he would call for help if he needed it. He had discussed consequences with Louis repeatedly, as had Charlie. "We talked about this Louis. What happens when you hurt someone?"

He slammed his fist into his leg, ignoring the person standing up. He knew Phil wouldn't leave him, so it had to be Henry. He didn't like Henry, the older man was always around, always watching him. He didn't like it. "No."

"No?"

"I'm not going to."

He fought the urge to roll his eyes. Did the child really think that he wouldn't follow through because he didn't want him to? They had discussed this with Louis repeatedly and they would always follow through. If he hurt someone he would have to sit with one of them or spend the remainder of the day in his bunk, with nothing to entertain him. "That's not an option Louis. But you do have a choice. We can continue to sit on the floor or you can come sit on that couch with me." He caught the child's hand before he could slam it into his leg again.

He didn't want to, he hated sitting with one of his counselors. It made him feel like he had done something wrong. He wasn't even sure that what he had done, this time, wasn't wrong. He just didn't want to obey. But Louis could also see how the Headmistress was looking at him. He would much prefer to sit with Phil instead of her. He didn't want to see that disappointment. "Fine." He huffed finally, standing slowly before moving with Phil toward an empty couch.

-x-

If it wasn't for the small bit of light, he would be in total darkness, which was frightening enough on its own. He took a slow step forward, trying to see what was outside of the small circle of light. He had a bad feeling about this. He squinted for several minutes before taking a few more steps forward. He frowned when his foot kicked something that he couldn't clearly make out. He stopped for a moment, lighting up his wand. His eyes took a moment to adjust to the now brightly lit room before he caught sight of what he had kicked, of what was surrounding him. Bodies, Dozens of broken, battered bodies. Bodies he easily recognized . He fought down the urge to scream, to call out, eyes searching for a way out. If he looked too closely he wouldn't be able to escape. He would break.

His partner's mumbles had been the first thing to wake him. Remus watched him for a moment, tilting his head slightly. He was almost certain that Severus was in the middle of a nightmare. "Severus, wake up. You are safe. You are at Hogwarts." He hesitated for a moment, wanting to touch his partner but also he knew that if Severus was too deep in the dream, he would lash out.

He blinked, glancing at where he could have sworn the body of his daughter had been before stumbling backwards. They were in front of him, moving toward him. But they were clearly dead. His children were Inferi. His family was coming toward him, with empty eyes and chilling smiles. This wasn't real. It couldn't be real. It took him a moment to realize that their mouths were moving, that they were talking. Inferi didn't talk, did they? He finally caught what his...what the inferi were saying. Severus paled, taking another step back. He had failed them. But how? He never would have left them, never would have stop fighting for them.
"No!"

"It's okay. It's okay. You have to wake up now, Sev. It's just a dream." Remus stated firmly, avoiding the flailing limbs with ease of practice. Severus hadn't had an episode like this in a while. He only lashed out in his sleep when he was dreaming of the war. While he hadn't had a PTSD moment in a while, he really wasn't surprised. He gently caught his wrist, rubbing his thumb against his hand. "Shh. It's okay. You are at Hogwarts, in our quarters. It's okay."

He fought for a moment longer before his eyes flew open and his hand reached for a wand that wasn't there. He gasped, bolting upright, ignoring the sweat covering his face as his eyes darted from corner to corner of their bedroom. It only took a moment for him to realize someone had his wrist. He jerked, eyes going to the man next to him.

The wild look in his partner's eyes was unnerving. He hadn't seen that look in a long time. Severus looked terrified. "It's okay, Severus. Take a deep breath. Good. Now let it out. Breath in. You are in our bed, you had a nightmare." He waited several minutes for his breathing to even out and the desperation to fade from his eyes before wrapping an arm around his partner's shoulder. "Do you want to talk about it?" He asked quietly, now that he seemed a little calmer.

He turned, burying his face into his soon to be husband's chest for a brief moment before the soldier in him took over. Every time he closed his eyes he saw his children's faces. He needed to make sure they were safe, he needed to check on them. But he couldn't force down that fear. He took a deep breath, trying to force himself to calm down. The hand on his shoulder was helping a little, it helped ground him in the here and now. He knew he was safe now but it wasn't his self that he cared about. "I-I need to check on the children." He said once he managed to force the fear down enough to form words. The urge to make sure their children were safe was quickly winning over the fear. He palmed his wand, eyes focused intently on the door to their bedroom. Anything could be on the other side of it but he had to check on his children, on his family. He had to make sure they were safe.

He squeezed his hand, gently moving his arm from the younger man's shoulder. It had been a while since he had seen Severus like this, which meant that this dream had to be a PTSD dream, even if parts of it probably weren't exactly as they had happened. "Okay. Let's go check on them." Remus stood slowly, moving around to Severus' side of the bed and holding his hand out to the other man. It took a minute for a warm hand to take his and he gently pulled him to his feet. He wrapped an arm back around his partner, letting the man lead them.

He carefully opened the door to Karrie's room where Harry was sprawled on one side of the bed and Karrie was curled up on the other. He watched their chests rise and fall for several minutes before stepping back and gently closing the door. He moved toward their living room, glancing toward the floo. He needed to make sure Alexis and the boys were alright as well. He wouldn't be able to calm completely down if he didn't make absolutely sure that everyone was okay and where they were suppose to be. He kept his wand clutched tightly in his hand, stepping slowly into the floo and waiting for a moment for Remus to join him. He would have preferred it if Remus had his wand as well but that couldn't be helped right now. He would fight for both of them if he had to.

He stepped through to Alexis' office, fighting a smile at the sight of the young headmistress. She was sound asleep, her head resting on her arms with a piece of parchment stuck to her cheek. "I'll carry her." He knew from experience that Severus would not put his wand away until he knew that everyone was safe and accounted for. He hadn't even seen the younger man grab it. He just hoped that all three of the boys were asleep because he knew that if Severus was startled, he would hex first and ask questions later. He bent down, carefully picking up the younger woman and cradling her in his arms.

Severus moved cautiously into Alexis' quarters, eyes darting from corner to corner before he slowly opened the door to her bedroom. He gazed around the room before nodding to his husband and stepping back out into the hallway. He went silently from room to room, stopping at the one with a messy, empty bed. Where was Elijah?

Remus finished getting Alexis tucked into bed, moving out into the hallway. He tilted his head, eyeing the dark eyed man's still body. From the tension he could see, he knew something was wrong. "Sev?"

He spun, wand still tightly in his hand before relaxing slightly. It was just Remus. But where was that child? He tensed at the sound of a door opening, trying to move around that man who was now firmly between him and the danger. But he didn't have his wand! He had to protect them!

"It's just Elijah, love. He was in the bathroom." He stated calmly, blocking the child from his partner. He knew Severus wouldn't hurt the boy, but he also knew that Severus wasn't exactly in a good mental space right now. He gestured for him to move to the side, so the half asleep child could make it back to his bed. The boy barely glanced at them, shrugging before falling face first back onto his bed. Teenagers.

He waited for several long moments, to make sure the child was asleep before carefully shutting that door and moving back toward the floo. Their quarters and Alexis' were clear. He would check on his children again as soon as he got back.

He followed the younger man back through the floo, shaking his head slightly when he immediately went to check on Karrie and Harry once more. Remus went into the kitchen to make tea, knowing that Severus would either come into the kitchen or sit in the living room. He knew that unless he could get his husband completely calm, since he had seen the frantic fear in those eyes when Elijah had opened the bathroom door, that neither of them would get any more sleep. He carried the tea tray out to the living room, sighing softly at the sight of the younger man pacing back and forth in front of the door to their quarters. "Come have some tea, Severus." He ordered briskly, setting the tray down on a table. As much as he wanted to spike it with a calming potion, he knew that Severus would smell it and think he was being poisoned. This wasn't his first rodeo after all.

He cautiously picked up a mug of tea, sniffing it before taking a slow sip. This was one of the herbal mixes he had made, he recognized the smell and taste of it. He took another careful sip before setting the tea back on the table and moving to guard the door once more. He would protect them. He would never leave them. He wouldn't let anyone harm his family. Not like that, not ever.

Remus sighed softly, glancing toward the potion cabinet. He knew that there was a PTSD potion that would help, one that Severus had designed, but it was always a fight to get Severus to take it. He had a feeling that that would be the only way he could get the younger man to tell him what was going on. He stood finally, deciding to at least try but froze, eyes locked on his husband. "It's just me, Severus. " He stated calmly, waiting for the wand to move off of him again. He couldn't make any sudden moves, he knew that. And as much as he wanted to just talk mind to mind, to use that to calm his partner, he knew that it would make things worse, not better. Severus wasn't thinking rationally right now. "I'm just going to get the PTSD potion, to see if it will help."

"I'm not experiencing flashbacks." Which wasn't exactly the truth, but he didn't care right now. He needed to be alert. He had to protect them.

He shook his head, moving slowly toward the cabinet. If that was the truth, he wouldn't be guarding their door like he was, he wouldn't have a deep fear hidden in those dark eyes.

"It's not in there." Which was the truth, actually. He had given all of the stock to Eric and Tim, for the students who had flashbacks. With all of the abused and neglected children that were there this summer, he had known that they might need it. He hadn't had a chance to brew any more of it, even if he thought Eric might still have some. "Eric has it for the children."

Of course he did. But that was a simple enough problem. All he had to do was contact his father to bring him a vial of the potion. Then the hard part was getting Severus to actually take it. Just enough of it to give him back the control of his own mind, just enough to fight the fear and panic he could see. "That's alright. I'm going to ask Eric to bring you one. Alright?"

"No. I need to focus." But if Eric came down, he could make sure that part of his family was safe as well. He had wanted to go check on them but he knew Eric and Tim had wards up to alert them if someone floo'd or knocked or called. They were healers, after all, and they were both light sleepers. He hadn't wanted to wake them, because he didn't want to talk about it. He needed to focus.

He touched a hand to his pendant, sending a message to his dads. If he couldn't get his husband's fear under control, he knew he was more likely to accidentally hurt someone or his self. "Eric is about to floo in." He informed calmly, so that Severus wouldn't be startled. They didn't need him to start hexing.
He tensed, eyes focused on the floo with his back pressed to the door. He held his wand tightly, watching the dark skinned man who stepped out of the floo. It looked like Eric but that didn't mean it was. "What were your first words to me at the end of the war?"

Eric sighed softly, barely glancing at his son before focusing on Severus. "You can lower your wand now, son." He responded, waiting until the younger man did lower his wand, although he still clutched it tightly. The fact that both of the younger men were in their pajamas told him much. Neither had thrown a robe over their clothes, as he had done. So Remus had been in a hurry to keep up with a Severus currently reliving parts of the war, to prevent him from harming himself and others. "Can you tell me what's happening?" He was pretty sure of the answer.

"I need to focus." He started pacing again, eyes darting from the floo to the door. No one would harm his family. He could feel the smallest bit of calm but he knew that was their bond, that it was Remus. He wasn't actually calm. He was anxious and angry and alert. He had to protect them. That was his job. He wasn't sure what time it was but he would stay here all night if he had to. To protect them.

"Severus, I'm going to remove a potion from my pocket and set it on this table." He waited for the younger man to nod before slowly reaching into a pocket on his robes, carefully removing the potion he had stashed there when he got his son's call. He set it on the table, making sure his movements were exaggerated and clear. He wasn't quite sure what Severus was reliving but he knew they needed to figure it out fast, so that they could get him calm. He had been wondering when this would happen, with the war finally ending in its entirety only a few months before. It had pretty much been over a few years ago but the last ditch effort would have affected Severus, even if his only role in that last battle was to hold the wards of the castle, as all of the teachers had. And suddenly there were a few dozen abused and hurting children in the castle this summer and his responsibilities had doubled...they should have been expecting this. This shouldn't have come out of nowhere like this. Usually there were signs unless Severus had been hiding them, which was possible. "Do you know where you are, Severus?"

"In a castle." He responded, pausing for a moment. He had thought he heard a sound but it couldn't be. Not here. He paced the length of the room before taking up his position at the door, eyes darting from the floo to the door and back again.

That was almost a non-answer. For his partner to side-step like that was confusing. They wanted to help him and they couldn't do that if he wouldn't talk to them. Which made him wonder if the younger man wasn't willing to open up for a reason. If this was one of the worst moments of the war. Remus hoped not because that would make it harder to calm Severus down. "Why don't you take a sip of this potion, Sev? It will help."

"No, I have to focus. Have to stop it." He tilted his head, not stopping in the pacing. There was that sound again. But it couldn't be here, right? It wasn't here. It couldn't be. That was a different castle in a different part of the world. He wasn't there, he wasn't. Not again, never again.

"What do you have to stop?"

Remus frowned, feeling the ward to Karrie's room go off. One of the children was awake. Hopefully they were heading to the bathroom and not coming this way. "One of the kids is up." He stated calmly, meeting dark eyes when they darted to him .

"It's not safe! It's not safe!"

"You are at Hogwarts in your family's quarters Severus. You are safe. The children are safe." Eric reminded firmly, keeping his eyes locked on the rapidly moving young man.

"But they'll come! It's not safe!"

"It is, Sev. They-"

"Papa?" Karrie frowned, standing in the door way to the living room. She had had to go to the bathroom and she had felt the magic around her growing agitated, so she had decided to check it out. But she hadn't expected Severus to be looking at her like that, to have his wand trained on her. Like he was afraid. She tensed, locking eyes with the man and taking a slow step back.

"It's just Karrie, Severus." Remus moved slowly, standing and casually placing himself between the child and his partner. "You are scaring her. Lower your wand please. She is not a threat."

He caught sight of the girl's eyes, peaking at him from behind his partner. She didn't look afraid, just confused. But he knew those eyes, knew that magical cast on her leg, knew that un-brushed hair. He lowered his wand but didn't loosen his grip on it. "I didn't mean to scare you."

"It's okay."

"Let's get you back to bed, Karrie." Remus remarked quietly, turning and motioning for her to go. He followed the child back into the hallway, sighing softly when she stopped in front of the door to her room.

She hesitated, biting her lip for a moment. It had almost seemed like Severus had been somewhere else, had been stuck somewhere in his head. Like she was sometimes and the other kids in her group were. "Will Papa be okay?"

"He will be. You know the flashbacks that you have sometimes, when it feels like you are somewhere other than where you are? Papa is in the middle of one. " He explained softly, hugging the child to himself for a moment before she moved to open her door. He followed her back into her room, setting her crutches aside and tucking her back into bed. "Papa isn't himself right now but he will be soon. Go back to sleep, little one." He added, running his fingers through her hair until she started to doze off once more.

"It's not safe. It's not safe. They'll get hurt. Have to protect them." Severus muttered, grimacing at the noise he could barely hear. "They're almost here! Not safe!" He caught sight of the end table, lunging for it. He could block the door, it would keep them out. Couldn't let them win, he had to fight.

Eric raised an eyebrow, standing slowly. "You don't need to block the door, son. You are safe here."

"But they'll get in!"

"You are not where ever you believe yourself to be. You are safe at Hogwarts, Severus. I need you to take a deep breath and rest your hand on the wall. Feel the stone beneath your hand. You are at Hogwarts. Feel the hardwood beneath your feet. You are safe. " He directed calmly, hoping he could ground the
younger man.

"What if they come? I have to be ready!" They could have surrounded them, they could be all around him. No one was going to harm his family. He would protect them with his life. "Can't you hear them?!"

"Who?"

"The Inferi! They will come!"

Remus closed his eyes for a moment before stepping slowly back into the room. He held his hands up in front of him, waiting for the younger man to lower his wand before moving fully into the room. Of course he would be in that castle, it that room. "I know how it scared you, being trapped in a room of Inferi. You are safe here. Hogwarts has a ward against them, remember? They can't reach you here." He reasoned.

"I'm going to bring this potion to you, Severus. I want you to take a sip, just a sip. It will help you clear your head. It will also help you focus." Eric remarked calmly, slowly picking up the vial and walking calmly to the younger man. He held the bottle out to him, raising an eyebrow. It took a few minutes but the dark eyed man finally took the vial.

He had to focus! But if he took a sip, he could plan his defense a little better. He studied the vial for a moment, recognizing it as a potion he had brewed. He hesitated for another minute before uncorking the vial and taking a careful sip of it. It took a few moments before his head felt a little clearer. He blinked, staring at the vial in his hand for a moment before placing it back to his mouth and downing half of it. What had happened was becoming clearly now. Severus groaned, handing the vial back to Eric and running his hand over his face. He loosened his hold on his wand, closing his eyes. He didn't want to face the two men in front of him, didn't want to talk about it. He almost harmed his own child! "Is Karrie..."

"She's asleep. She is very bright, Sev. She understands that you were experiencing flashbacks and would not normally act as you were." Remus reassured. He reached out slowly, knowing full well that while Severus was back with them, he would still be a bit hyper-aware and skittish. He gently grasped the younger man's wand, carefully taking it and moving to put it on the table.

"Come sit down, Severus. Have some tea." Eric ordered firmly, catching the younger man's eyes when they flew to his. He was well aware that he didn't want to talk about it, but he also was aware that he wasn't quite calm enough to go back to bed. The potion would help the longer it was in his system, as would talking about it.

He picked up his mug of tea, taking a sip of the still warm tea before setting it back on the table. He dropped onto the couch, burying his face in his hands. He felt the couch move on either side of him, leaning into his partner's side. The large warm hand resting on his knee was helping. His partner's arm wrapped around him was helping. He knew that both men would keep him safe, would keep him from going back there again. "I was trapped in the room of Inferi but it was different than it had happened." He started quietly, closing his eyes to fight the images once more. He was safe now, he knew that.

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