Upon exiting the Floo, which he had barely managed to not stumble out of, Harry was immediately beset by a rather hysterical sounding Mrs Weasley.

"Oh, Harry!" she cried from her seat in front of the Headmaster and Harry jumped in surprise.

Fawkes even awoke at the alarm in her voice, his ageless eyes looking over them carefully before deciding that his nap had been more interesting and he went back to it.

Mrs Weasley moved quickly toward Harry, reaching out as if she would gather him into a tight hug and never let go. Stopping about an arms length away, her wide eyes roamed over his figure. Harry knew what he must look like, he could feel the dried blood still in his nostrils from where the Death Eaters had handled him roughly, his leg wasn't healed all the way from where Brent had driven that dagger in. There was still blood on his blue jeans as evidence to the violence, though it had turned a horrid, crusty brown now.

Harry followed Mrs Weasley's eyes down to his hands. They were trembling slightly. Embarrassed, he moved them behind his back, hoping she wouldn't comment or declare that he needed immediate medical attention. Cruciatus lingered on his body like a bad smell, and the tremors had a tendency to come on without warning.

Apologetically, Harry grinned at her, "Professor Sprout could probably plant a mandrake or two with all the dirt under my nails."

He should have known that Mrs Weasley would read right into that, she had raised six boys of her own, of course she could see that he was trying to direct her attention elsewhere. Fortunately for him, she was also tactful.

"You've managed to frighten me more in a few days than Fred and George did all of last year," she murmured to him, eyes bright with unshed emotion.

"Careful, they might take that as a challenge."

Smiling tearfully, she laid a careful hand on his arm, a look in her eyes that promised a lot of coddling-then her eyes widened in curiosity at the two children peeking up at her.

"Who is this?"

Guiltily, Harry realized he had almost been ignoring the children for the past couple of hours as he desperately tried to convince the Goblins that he wasn't a thief. There hadn't even been time to comfort Lizzie before a trolley was throttling down the tracks and they were being surrounded by furious Goblins.

Kneeling carefully, for his shoulder and arm felt like they could burst with pain, Harry pulled Lizzie and Parker towards his side where they couldn't hide anymore.

"Mrs Weasley, this is Lizzie and Parker-they've been very brave, and Parker is the one who found the cave to Gringotts. I'd still be sitting in the woods if it wasn't for them."

It was a comfort, to have Parker smile at him because of his words, though Lizzie still looked shaken. Shock wasn't something that Harry could remember affecting him very badly. There had been so many traumatic events in his lifetime, that his nervous system seemed to just realize the best course of action would be to get over it as quickly as possible and move on...the same could not be said for his young friend.

Hoping his eyes conveyed things that he could not say out loud, Harry glanced at Mrs Weasley and said comfortingly to the children, "This is Mrs Weasley, she has seven children, all who were in Gryffindor like your dad."

"Except, I'm sure your daddy never got into as much foolishness as my boys did," Mrs Weasley said in fake severity and winked at them.

Parker stepped forward and whispered, "Those Goblin's were mean and scared me a lot-like, this much." He spread out his arms as far as they would go and hit his sister in the side.

Mrs Weasley covered her mouth with one hand, covering a smile by feigning surprise.

"I didn't cry," Parker added, looking up to make sure she was suitably impressed.

"You cried a little," his sister muttered and Parker shot her a look of betrayal. Harry couldn't help but smirk and saw that Dumbledore was watching the scene peacefully.

"The Murdock children are actually the reason I asked you here today, Molly," he began in a subdued tone. "They have been through quite a trial and are in need of a mother's tender care while I talk with Harry."

"Where is mum?" Lizzie asked suddenly, looking around at the adults. She crinkled up her nose in a way that led Harry to believe she was trying to hold back tears. "You said she would find us later, when is later?" she asked Harry. There was something close to accusation in her tone and it left him without words.

He cleared his throat helplessly.

"I believe it's time for the children to leave," Snape cut it firmly from behind them.

Harry he hadn't even heard the man Floo in. The children turned to stare at him. Now that there was not a Goblin to look at, they seemed to realize how intimidating the man could be. Parker even reached for Harry's hand without once looking away from Snape's imposing figure, his mouth dropping open of its own accord.

"Molly, I've had the house elf's prepare a room for the children, you'd be doing us a great service if you could take them there and see to any needs they may have." Dumbledore glanced reproachfully at Snape, but the man just crossed his arms and watched as Mrs Weasley tried to convince the children to come with her.

"Harry will come along with us in just a little while, he has many things to discuss with the Headmaster," she told them. Their clothes were covered in grime and a few clinging spider webs, the original colors of the garments now but a vague guessing game. Not seeming to notice or care, Mrs Weasley lay a hand on each of their backs and led them toward the door. "I'm sure he won't be long, Harry needs to eat and rest too."

Mrs Weasley glanced back at the two Professors, a stern look on her face that promised much suffering should they keep Harry long.

"Who's that man?" Parker asked loudly as she ushered them out the door. "He's not going to hurt Harry, is he? He looks like a vampire!"

Mrs Weasley reached behind her, almost slamming the door in her haste to cut off Parker's words. When the door closed behind them, and their voices faded away, Harry's shoulders sagged and he let go of a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding.

"They're going to hate me."

"Potter," Snape said after a moment, his voice serious but not unkind, "they're mother was dead long before you arrived."

Harry gaped at him, "She was not, I talked to her-"

"You misunderstand me. Listen, you stubborn child," Snape scowled and stepped closer. "There was no chance for survival after she walked in that room. Elizabeth Murdock was too loyal to the memory of her husband to lie and say she would serve the Dark Lord. Even if it meant she would leave her children orphans. She was dead when she walked in that room. There was nothing you could have done."

At those words, his throat tightened painfully.

Harry wished he could have done more, knew that there would be moments where he would dwell on how thing might have gone if only something had been different. But, to hear from Severus Snape, someone who did not mince words, that there was nothing else he could have done...it gave him an exhausted sense of relief.

Harry blinked furiously, fighting against a wave of emotions.

"We need to have a funeral. What did they do with her body?" he asked thickly.

Snape went still, his face an emotionless mask.

"Harry, come and sit," Dumbledore said, his voice sad and tired.

He didn't miss the way the Headmaster's eyes looked at Snape, warning him against something.

Obediently, Harry walked over to the chair Mrs Weasley had abandoned and sat, eyes still aimed at the faded carpet under his feet. After a moment, he remembered the two wands in his back pocket and took them out carefully.

"Neither of these are mine," he said and laid them on the Headmaster's desk. "Mine's at the Dursley's."

He could feel Snape's eyes on him. Let him look, or better than that, let him ask the inevitable question. How had he managed to not have his one form of protection on his person when the attack came? Harry felt like he might even tell his Professor the truth. At this point, what was the point in keeping secrets anymore...he was too tired to see any use in it.

Would Snape even care that his relatives hated him? He couldn't help but imagine one single eyebrow rising up, 'You thought to tell me this...why?'

That would hurt worse than the man using the knowledge to embarrass him. Indifference always hurt more.

A small voice reminded him that the man had been surprisingly decent at Gringotts, but luckily, Dumbledore spoke up and interrupted his dangerous thought process.

"I hate to ask it of you, Harry, especially after you have been through a great trial. But, I need to know exactly how you came to be taken from your relatives house. Did you leave the wards?"

Harry rubbed his brow roughly and met Dumbledore's eyes, "Can I...show you instead? There's just so much that's happened."

"Pensieve's don't work like that, Potter," Snape said in a long suffering way. "To try and remove a series of memories, especially correlating memories of such length would be highly dangerous-and perhaps even impossible."

Harry closed his eyes. His shoulder felt inflamed, and his head had begun to throb with such intensity that he wondered if the signs were visible on his temples.

"Take this."

Harry opened his eyes and stared at the potion vial Snape had placed in front of him. The sun shining through the office windows gleamed off the surface of the clear glass and Harry looked at it in distrust.

"It will help with your pain, the clearer you mind the easier it will be to get through with this. Then we can see to that arm, and whatever else you might be suffering from."

Blinking up at Snape, and wondering when the man would start sneering at him like usual, Harry uncapped the potion vial and drank the minty potion without resistance.

"Wow," he couldn't help but mutter a moment later. It was like cool, fresh water was running through his bloodstream, washing away the pain in his head, even though it did nothing for the terrible ache in his shoulder and arm. "That's some potion, Professor."

Snape made a snorting sound and leaned back into Dumbledore's desk.

"If you are ready, Harry..." Dumbledore prompted, moving to stand away from the table and instead staring out at the Hogwart's ground at a nearby window.

"Okay," Harry sighed and closed his eyes, thinking back to what felt like weeks ago. "I guess it all started with the Muggle, Brent. He was a new friend of Dudley's, that's my cousin," he added and glanced at Snape who crossed his arms and nodded. "Anyway, Brent...taunted me and I responded in the same way, which just made him more aggressive. I thought it was just him being a bully, but then the cat showed up in my bedroom-dead."

Recounting the incidents that led up to him being stabbed and kidnapped was remarkably draining. Fortunately, the Headmaster and Professor Snape did not ask him many questions, just listened, and when Harry had described the dagger going into his leg, Snape had looked down and frowned at the dried blood, looking like he wanted to step forward and examine it.

Shifting his leg so that Snape's eyes went back to his face, Harry continued.

"The knife was a portkey." Harry described waking up to find Elizabeth and the children in the small space with him, and repeated what had happened to her husband, Stormy. When it came to giving more detail about why Thomas had kidnapped Harry, what his intent had been...he drew a blank and paused.

Dumbledore turned to stare at Harry's confused face. "Try Harry, this information could be important...perhaps another potion, Severus?"

"No, it's not the pain," Harry said in irritation and closed his eyes tightly. "I can remember almost everything, except-it's like there's a blurry spot in my mind, something keeping the picture from being clear. I can't explain it."

A warm hand cupped his down-turned chin and lifted it up firmly. Opening surprised eyes but not jerking away, Harry found Snape staring at him in curiosity, from much closer than he had been momentarily.

"Obliviate, Severus?" The Headmaster asked.

"Normal circumstances dictate that Potter wouldn't even realize that his memories were hazy, under the control of the Obliviate he wouldn't think anything was amiss," Snape replied quietly.

Harry wanted to say something, but was slightly afraid to try and speak with his jaw still being held still.

"Have you been practicing, Potter?"

The hand released him, and Harry tried to think of what Snape was asking him.

"Practicing-oh, Occlumency? You think my mental shield could have protected me from Obliviate?"

Snape frowned and Harry could tell the idea seemed ridiculous to him too, especially when one considered whom they were talking about.

"Not fully, obviously, but perhaps it helped-if you were indeed trying to occlude."

"I had been practicing, sir. Before all this happened I practiced...a lot. Er, do you think maybe the Obliviate, if there was one, could have been weakened because Thomas...died?"

Snape eyes flashed with some quickly concealed emotion when Harry said Thomas was dead, but withheld his questions. "I would assume that would depend on the strength of the spell caster, but if that were true, then it could make the retrieval of the memories easier."

Harry swallowed, "I'm sorry, the retrieval of my memories?"

Dumbledore moved to sit across from Harry, and Snape moved farther to the side of the desk, still not bothering to sit.

"It's most crucial that we try to salvage these memories, Harry. I believe that you learned something that this Thomas would have preferred was kept a secret, it would be foolish to not at least attempt the retrieval of the memories through Legilimency."

"Unless the process causes Potter to forget other memories...such as all words beginning with the letter 'Q'. Wouldn't that be unfortunate?"

Dumbledore smiled without much humor, "Now Severus, I think we all know that is not likely."

"Yeah, and I don't really like all those 'Q' words anyway," Harry said to Snape sarcastically, shooting a small displeased look at the Headmaster. "Though, 'God save the Eeun', doesn't quite have the same ring to it."

Snape looked too peeved to laugh, he even narrowed his eyes when Dumbledore turned to stare at him pointedly.

Harry couldn't blame him. The job of retrieving Harry's memories would fall on his shoulders. After the last time, when he had quite literally thrown Harry out the office, he couldn't be looking forward to more forced contact with him.

Harry dreaded the thought of it himself. They seemed to be on a delicate wire at the moment, nothing harsh or mean had been said toward the other in the past hour or so, it was almost like a shared respect. But, those memory retrieving sessions were sure to throw them both off that thin wire and send them plummeting down into the familiar pit of hatred.

Stomach churning at the thought, Harry scowled at his feet and his bruised face twinged in pain.

"Perhaps you should continue, Harry. We will discuss the process of retrieving those memories at another time."


Severus listened intently as the story was dutifully told. Conscientiously Potter gave credit to Elizabeth Murdock for his escape, giving a detailed description on how she had hidden that small pouch on the inside of her cloak. He even went so far as to mention that he would have overlooked the potential of the contents if the children had not told him of the sleep-inducing properties.

Severus took in his exhausted frame, the dark shadows under his eyes and thought about how careful the boy had been to thank him for coming to Gringotts and retrieving them.

The gratefulness was so different from what Severus remembered of Potter's attitude during the course of his time at Hogwarts. He hadn't been able to find any trickery in the boy's words. There was no sign of an attempt to conceal anything from him. The gratitude had been sincere, and Severus honestly couldn't remember the last time someone had thanked him for anything in such an honest manner.

"I hesitated to help him," Potter was saying now, and his face was once again staring down at his intertwined hands. "He fell off after Lizzie threw that rock, it was like the force of it just-confused him or something, I mean, she's not that big. I didn't think she would be powerful enough to do any real damage to him."

"You might be surprised what one can do, even a child, when they feel threatened. Thomas was determined to hurt you, Harry, she could sense that and was desperate to help. Her magic could have easily played a roll. Remember your own wild magic from a few years ago? It is quite a powerful thing to behold."

Nodding, Potter sighed, "Someone is going to have to talk to her about it, she'll probably have nightmares about it for years."

There was a pause as Potter brooded over what he'd said.

"So, Thomas fell off and when I finally did look, he was holding onto the rails of the trolley track, begging for me to help him-and I froze."

For just a moment, self-loathing passed over Potter's face and Severus frowned. That would have to be dealt with.

"Er, I tried to help him, I figured I could pull him back up and tie his hands together or something, but I was too late and he fell...I was still standing there when the Goblins came around the track and cornered us. They took us back to that office and tried to threaten us with Azkaban and such. Then, Professor Snape came and got us."

The last section of his explanation had been rather rushed. Severus could tell that the boy wanted to glaze over the one issue that probably needed to be discussed more, but it was not his place to discuss morals and offer solace. Hopefully Albus would take note of it.

"Thank you, Harry," Albus said and stood to walk around the desk and place a hand on Potter's shoulder. "You have shone great courage and resourcefulness. Those children owe you their lives."

Potter shifted, looking uncomfortable though Severus couldn't tell if it was Albus's hand lying on his shoulder or the words that bothered him.

"What will happen to them?"

Albus sighed, "Someone will search for any remaining family members, and the children will go to stay with them once they are found."

Potter hesitated, opening his mouth twice before he spoke. "And...what if the family doesn't want them?"

The faint curiosity at Potter's home life reared its head, and Severus spoke before he could stop himself. "What sort of family would they be if they turned away from their newly orphaned relatives?"

It was a challenge. The words almost cruel considering how tired Potter must have been at that moment. His guard was down-but Severus had seen the opportunity and seized it. Not that it did him any good, Potter's face did not even blanch, though his body seemed to stiffen.

"Sir?" Potter asked Albus, completely ignoring Severus who looked away so neither one of them would see his scowl.

"If the search for a suitable relative turns up negative, then we will turn to Wizarding Children Services. They will take Parker and Lizzie and find them a guardian capable of providing for them."

Not looking appeased in the least, Potter frowned, his green eyes troubled and dim with fatigue.

Moving to sit in his high backed chair, the Headmaster clapped his hands together once with the contented smile of someone who had finalized a rather difficult deal.

"Now! Harry, Madame Pomfrey is away for the remainder of the summer holiday as I'm sure you've realized, but if you will go with Professor Snape, he can suitably heal any injuries you are still suffering from."

Potter seemed quite alarmed to realize Madame Pomfrey was gone. His mouth was open slightly and he glanced at Severus with trepidation.

"Calm down, Potter." Severus said, sarcasm dripping from every word, "I won't fold back the sheets on your favorite hospital bed or fluff your pillow, but I'm sure you'll survive."

Potter swallowed. "I wouldn't dare ask you to fluff my pillow, Professor."

"Ah," Severus shook his head in dismay, "I see the famed Gryffindor bravery only extends so far."

Potter smiled weakly, "That seems more reckless than anything else, and I've just had my fill of near death situations for the week, sir."

Albus was watching them, his face stoic but eyes sharp. It made certain promises come to Severus' mind. The man knew he would keep Potter safe-so it was odd that their banter seem to unsettle him, after all, had he not been fawning over the boy in front of Severus for years? Surely the lack of hostility between them at the moment should have brought the old man a smug joy, if anything.

Perhaps he was reading too much into it.

"Come along then, Potter."

Heading towards the door, already thinking about what potions he would need, Severus waited for Potter to bid farewell to the Headmaster and then ushered him down the staircase. Potter had lost some of his color just from the short walk down the stairs, it was alarming but Severus kept his face neutral and walked beside the boy, keeping close enough to catch him should he lose unconsciousness.

"Sir, do you know what happened to Brent?"

Severus glanced at Potter, looking for more signs of that self-loathing he had seen earlier and finding none. "By the time the Headmaster was made aware of the situation, the Muggle authorities had arrived and began an investigation."

"Shit," Potter muttered, turning pale, his steps faltering.

"Yes," Severus agreed, deciding that the language was appropriate. "I've heard from Kinglsey Shacklebolt that the Auror department had quite a time trying to reign the investigation back in-your relatives were not much help. A believable excuse for his death was given to the neighbors, it seemed the boy lived with some...friends, none of which were of sound mind at the time they were told of his death. Substance abuse...with more than one type of substance, I should think," he added to Potter's curious look. "No relatives have been located."

At his side, Potter went quiet with a slow nod.

There was more to tell, the Ministry had been held off by the Headmaster's influence, but they would want answers to Potter's whereabouts soon enough. He did not see a need to burden the boy with that information at the moment.

They continued walking until the air changed and grew cool around them, the silence of the dungeons both comforting and all encompassing.

"I thought we'd still be going to the Hospital Wing," Potter said hesitantly, his voicing bouncing off the stone walls. "Aren't all the potions and medical supplies there?"

Stepping into a small corridor, Severus went directly to a certain area of the wall and traced his wand around the four corners of one particular brick, just as he had done for many years.

Glancing at Potter, Severus felt oddly pleased to see the boy gaping as the bricks moved aside slowly, flipping over and sliding around to form the shape of an open doorway. The silencing spell ingrained into their mortar causing the whole effect to be utterly silent. Most rooms in the castle were guarded by picture frames and their odd inhabitants, but Severus didn't trust most people, so why would he trust the magical painting of some long deceased person?

Stepping through, Severus replied to Potter's question at last.

"I understand you are tired, Potter, but take a moment to think. Who do you suppose supplies the Hospital Wing with potions and balms that heal the cuts and bruises of your fellow students?"

There was a soft, "Oh," from Potter as the boy hesitantly stepped into the room. The fireplace lit with a muttered spell as Severus noticed how the boy had wrapped his unhurt arm around his chest. The dungeons were always chilly, the jokes about Slytherin's having a stronger immune system than most circulated around at the beginning of every school year.

"Yes, and though most of what you need would be accessible upstairs, there is at least one potion here that won't be found in the Hospital Wing."

"What's that, sir?"

"It helps with the aftereffects of the Cruciatus. You are the only student to ever have needed it..." Severus frowned when he saw how far back Potter was lingering, his eyes cautious.

"What is it?"

"I've just never seen a Professor's rooms before. It's...nice."

He could read on the boy's face what he wasn't saying. It was all there in how he shifted from one foot to the next, his eyes darting around as if trying to find other exits.

Severus blinked and stood up straighter.

"These are my guest quarters, Potter. Seldom used except when I need to hold a private audience with the Slytherin Prefects to discuss the new students or reaffirm rules. It's hardly a breach in propriety. The door will open to your touch, no need to feel trapped or look so uncomfortable."

Severus paused and then said carefully, "I have a license to practice medicine, Mr Potter. The Headmaster has entrusted me with healing you and once that is done there is a room waiting for you near the Murdock children...would you prefer that I asked Mrs Weasley down here?"

He had not meant to sound slightly defensive, part of him could understand Potter's hesitation, but the part that held dignity was larger.

"Er, no that's okay. Sorry, I was just surprised you'd let me in here. I'm not exactly a Slytherin Prefect."

Dismissing Potter's qualms, Severus sighed and pointed at the cloth couch, "Sit there, I'll be back."

He left Potter alone in the guest room, where if the boy knew what was good for him, he'd sit down and not touch anything. The small storeroom was a part of his private rooms, heavily guarded with wards as some of his more expensive ingredients were kept here, along with some potions that involved months of attentive care.

It was kept room temperature to not interfere with the more delicate potions that would ruin in the heat, he'd had mold grow more than once when the potions hadn't been preserved properly. The tedious task of removing the slime had fallen on the shoulders of more than one unfortunate Gryffindor.

Severus cast his eyes over the orderly labeled rows and he frowned, normally by this time in the summer he was thoroughly stocked. Recent events had upturned his normally productive days. He should have been able to spend his time at home by now, happily ignoring the world and its multitude of problems.

Using a supply tray to hold them, he selected the potions that Potter was sure to need and a few that he might not.

Potter was sitting on the edge of the couch staring into the flames of the fireplace when Severus returned. Walking over, he sat on the strong wooden coffee table in front of Potter and placed the tray of potions at his side.

"With your permission, I'm going to cast a diagnostic spell, to help determine the severity of your injuries."

Potter nodded, but leaned back into the couch and away from Severus. Barely resisting the urge to roll his eyes, Severus cast the spell and then said to the empty air beside him, "Jilly."

The elf promptly appeared, "Yes, Master Snape?"

Severus preferred Jilly to the majority of the other house elf's. She didn't fall over herself to please him, but gave him exactly what he asked for with respect and in a timely manner. It helped that he had never seen her decked out in a multitude of ridiculous hats like some other house elf's.

"Bring me a pitcher of water along with a glass and something light to eat, a bowl of broth or a sandwich will do."

Jilly bowed her head and promptly popped away. The diagnostic spell finished with the sound of a small bell jingling cheerfully and a rolled parchment appeared on the table next to him.

Potter had grinned (rather cheekily, in Severus' opinion) at the sound of the bell and received a scowl for it.

He had yet to find a diagnostic spell that concluded with a more masculine sound. One that announced its findings with a deep 'dong' like that of the drums before a beheading would have been quite acceptable. Alas, he would have to make do with what was at his disposal.

Severus looked down at the paper, his eyes scanning over the first few lines-and then he froze and looked up incredulously.

"Potter, your shoulder is broken."

"Yes, sir."

Severus leaned forward, frowning and barely resisting the urge to peer into that mind. Potter's mental shield was probably laughable, it wouldn't take much...but it would also ruin the barely perceptible amount of civility they had thus far managed to not destroy.

"Will you take off the shirt so I can see if Skele-Gro will suffice, or should I vanish it entirely?"

After a slight hesitation, Potter seemed to realize that his teacher wasn't going to budge, and tried to remove the grimy shirt. Unfortunately, small things like buttons could be quite difficult without the use of both hands and Potter gritted his teeth after a few tense moments.

"Just vanish it, I guess-though I don't have anymore clothes."

Speaking evenly, Severus replied, "I'm sure something can be found."

With the shirt gone, the bruises were on full display. Varying shades of dark purple to angry yellow mottled Potter's skin from the top of his shoulder to half way down his skinny arm. Defensively, Potter used his good arm to cross over his chest, eyes daring Severus to say anything scathing.

For a moment, the only sound in the room was the crackling of the flames nearby as Severus stared. Professionalism seemed the best option.

"Mr Potter, when did you break your arm?"

Potter blinked at his patient tone. "Er, I was thrown down on it by some Death Eaters, I think they just bruised it then. But, Thomas broke it in the Gringotts cave-I thought you knew."

Severus tried to think of how to respond without sniping. It was true, he had never once tried to make the boy like him. However, that should not have given Potter reason to believe that he would allow his student to remain in terrible pain. He'd made a promise to protect the boy, damn it, and he felt rather insulted by Potter thinking otherwise.

Carefully, he replied, "I knew your arm was hurt, but I was under the impression you had sprained it-or only bruised it. This is a serious break, you can't even move your arm, can you?"

"I...no, but you gave me a pain potion."

Severus reached forward to see if the skin was truly as inflamed as it appeared, and was aghast to see Potter throw his weight into the couch behind him, putting as much distance between them as possible. Severus blinked and pulled his hand back. There was confusion mingled with his anger now.

Listening to some instinct within, he spoke without moving, "Your arm looks like it could have enough internal damage to cause an infection. The potion I gave you doesn't effect the pain of a broken bone the way it does other physical injuries. Why have you been suffering for the past two hours instead of speaking up?"

"I thought you knew!" Potter said again, eyes narrowed this time and face flushed. He obviously didn't understand why he was being scolded.

Realizing it was the truth, Severus stared yet again.

Living the majority of the year in a castle full of reckless teenagers meant that Severus had seen his fair share of injuries, including broken bones. Unlike his fellow schoolmates, who would have immediately thought to bring their pain to the attention of a Professor, Potter had sat without complaint and endured it. Somehow he believed that Severus even knew the extent of his injury and was not even angry about the lack of care he had received.

I thought you knew.

It had not been an accusation, and now facts raced through his mind. Potter had been at Hogwarts now for at least two hours, speaking about the kidnapping, being told that he would have some relief as soon as this long, terrible ordeal had been dragged out of him. He hadn't once voiced a complaint, as if he thought it would fall on deaf ears.

A prickle of unease went through him.

How often did a child have to be ignored before they stopped asking for attention? The curious thought was not welcome.

Potter was watching him, his face guarded and breathing measured. The way he sat would almost appear relaxed if Severus hadn't sat that exact way himself in his early years. The boy's hand lay pressed flat into the seat of the couch, ready to launch himself away if he needed to. His feet were already pointed at the door.

They stared at each other. For a moment, the room was so quiet, you could almost hear Severus' misguided preconceptions falling to the ground.

Author's Note: ANOTHER UPDATE IN LESS THAN A MONTH? I guess when I had surgery they removed my writer's block, *chuckles at her dad humor* Glad to know I haven't lost all of you! Your kindness and understanding is very appreciated, the reviews about how long you had been reading just made me so very happy, thank you. I'm back to walking around though my foot is still tender, back at work again and twelve hour shifts (and a surprise seventeen hour shift when my co-worker quit, grr). Luckily, my town just got a Starbucks, betta believe I'm going to make that caramel iced coffee last all bloody day!