Harry awoke yelling in wordless horror as a fog of sickly green light enveloped him. When his vision cleared all that he could see remaining was his uncle standing before him looking livid. For a moment he debated which was worse, but common sense dictated that nothing Vernon could do to him would equal the pain in his nightmares. "Sorry," he muttered hazily.
"Boy!" The gigantic man bellowed sharply. "Be quiet! You will be quiet." There was a moment of huffing as his uncle decided if pursuing this now was worth the effort. "I'll give you so much work that you won't have the energy to dream." The overweight lump trundled back out of his bedroom after punctuating his words with a quick cuff around Harry's head.
The dull throbbing from where his uncle had hit him mingled with the residues of remembered pain from his dream and he felt tears threaten. Ever since Cedric's death he had found himself wanting to cry at the smallest provocation, like all his bottled up emotions were now spilling forth. He cursed himself for being a baby, suppressing the urge to break down, and got up to stretch his legs.
Wobbling unsteadily for a moment, he knew that this could not go on. This was his fourth nightmare in as many days since he had arrived back at the Dursleys after the Triwizard Tournament, and his relatives were losing patience fast. He had already been laden down with every chore imaginable, now he feared what they would come up with next in punishment.
He couldn't write about it to his friends or his godfather, it would just worry them needlessly. It's not like there was anything that they could do about it anyway. Dumbledore had informed him that with Voldemort on the loose there was no way he could afford to be anywhere other than his 'home' or Hogwarts.
Maybe if he wrote to the Headmaster he could go and stay at school for the holidays? He honestly couldn't remain here any longer, not unless he didn't sleep at all. That wasn't an option; he had tried it before, leading to him being too tired to work for the Dursleys the next day. Which of course made them angry. He had to have some sleep, but was too afraid.
The look on Cedric's face as he died, the sheer terror, was engraved upon Harry's memory, and he saw it every night. Knowing that he had in some way caused that, that he was responsible for the cup being changed into a portkey in the first place, haunted Harry just as much as the pain in his scar which the dreams of Voldemort's glowing eyes reflecting flashes of green brought.
No, he couldn't take another night of this. Maybe Dumbledore knew of something that could help, and the Headmaster had told him to contact him if he needed anything, or if anything happened.
Trying to dismiss his fear that his letter would be sent back with a note not to bother the important man on trivial business, he got out his quill and parchment.
I am sorry to interrupt your holiday, but I need your advice. My nightmares have been getting worse, so I cannot sleep very much, and my relatives are frequently disturbed when I do. Since I do not want to be a burden to them, could I be allowed to use silencing charms here over the summer? Or is there some potion I could take? Dreamless sleep does not work, I have tried it. Please help if you can, I await your answer,
He looked it over carefully, hoping that he didn't sound too desperate while still being urgent enough to prompt action. He was hoping for something more than silencing charms, but even those would be a relief if it would get Uncle Vernon off his back.
Sighing, he gave the message to Hedwig and opened the window. "Take this to Headmaster Dumbledore at Hogwarts, please."
He watched the white speck in the sky until he couldn't see it anymore. Then he turned and eyed the bed in trepidation, fear flashing through him as though the piece of furniture was his worst enemy. Was it worth trying to get anymore sleep tonight? It was already getting light outside.
Flopping down on the mattress, he lay there with his eyes wide open and waited for his aunt to bang on his door, releasing him from one prison to another.
Opening the front door the next day and finding Snape lurking on the porch was one of the most surprising moments of his life. It might have even beaten finding out that he was a wizard. Accordingly, he stood there and stared, gaping for at least a minute. He was matched evenly by Snape's silent glare, and it was anyone's guess how long the stand-off would have continued had not Dudley seen the man in black robes as he thumped down the stairs. "Mum! Dad! There's one of those freaks at the door!" squealed the mammoth boy before waddling away as fast as his girth allowed. Why had the professor had to wear his robes?
Harry closed his eyes for a second as he anticipated the coming confrontation. He hoped that the Dursleys would just leave this alone; he certainly didn't need this professor to have further ammunition to taunt him with. Of course, where the Dursleys were concerned, he had long ago learned that hope was a futile thing.
"Who the hell are you?" growled Vernon in his most menacing voice from behind him. Every instinct in his body screamed at him to run, to hide until these people had killed each other, and he darted backwards. His uncle had unfortunately predicted this, and a meaty hand shot out to grab his collar and hoist him back into the fray. "You aren't going anywhere, boy." Harry shuddered. He was really going to pay for this. "Not until you get this... person off my property. And then I'll..."
Harry worked quickly to cut his uncle off. He more than agreed with his relatives for once; Snape had to go, and as soon as possible. "Umm, he's going. He's going. He just... brought me something to stop the nightmares?"
Snape's look was icy. Uncle Vernon, however, developed a cruel smirk. "Is that so? Well, maybe there is some use for you freaks after all. Fix him, then go away." The professor opened his mouth to say something, undoubtedly to put such a Muggle in his place. "But," Vernon continued. "I don't want anything... abnormal going on here. I won't have it."
"That is enough!" If Snape ever used that cold tone in class, it usually meant that Neville had melted a hole in the floor and was about to get detention for the foreseeable future. "I was instructed to take Mr. Potter back to Hogwarts with me, to cure his little... sleeping problems. If you would let the boy go then he can fetch his things, and I can waste as little as possible of my time dealing with the trouble he causes."
It was nice to see his uncle looking cowed for once, and even better to know that a wizard was causing it. Still, Harry wished that it didn't have to be this wizard in particular standing in their drive.
The hand, which had been holding him so that his feet floated a couple of inches above the ground, let go abruptly. He fell to the floor, landing on his knees. Looking up, he caught Snape's gaze, and could just imagine the other man thinking that this was a good position for him. Scrambling to his feet, he ducked behind his uncle and made his way to the cupboard. Only when he reached it did his mind start working again and remind him that it was locked.
"Uncle Vernon?" he called hesitantly. The bulk of the man swung around so that it could aim a fierce glare in his direction. "Er, could you unlock it, please?"
The massive man stomped towards him, and the walls practically shook with the impotent rage radiating off him. "Damn freak! Everything was so much simpler when you lived in there, you knew your place. I should have just thrown you back in the cupboard to teach you where you belonged. Now you think that you can just..."
Gods, Harry hoped that Snape couldn't hear this. He felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise and knew that the professor was staring at him.
"Oh!" he muttered, suddenly remembering his wand and other things upstairs. He wanted to take them with him, but if his uncle saw then he would be in so much trouble when he came back here. He ran up to his bedroom and carefully wrapped all of his treasures in the invisibility cloak so that they wouldn't be seen, then trotted back down. That would have to be good enough. When he tried to lift the trunk as well, it was very awkward and he was grateful when Snape cast a levitating charm on it for him.
He trailed out of the door after the Potions master, who said nothing. After they had walked for five minutes in stolid silence, Harry began to think that Dumbledore must have instructed Snape to be nice to him. Or at least not to kill him.
The other man unexpectedly grabbed his arm and, before he could open his mouth to say anything, they blinked into existence somewhere near Hogsmeade. He staggered slightly and would have fallen if not for Snape's fingers clamping down harder around his upper arm.
The trip to Hogwarts was also silent. Now he definitely knew that something was going on, he had given Snape at least a dozen excuses to reprimand him since they had set out, and somehow managed to trip over everything possible in his path. This was just not natural.
It became even more surreal when he was not lead to see the Headmaster, or to the Gryffindor Tower, but instead down to the dungeons and what he assumed must be Snape's rooms.
"Professor? Where are we?" he tentatively inquired, wanting to know yet afraid to break the block on Snape's tongue.
"We are in the dungeons, Mr. Potter. Surely even someone of your mental capacity is astute enough to make that deduction." The man didn't look in his direction at all, instead making a number of complex passes over the bare wall in front of them with his wand.
Harry barely held himself back from snapping a retort. He didn't want to get into trouble already, and being here was definitely better than staying with the Dursleys another day. "Yes, sir. Why are we in the dungeons?" He thought he'd keep it nice and simple and not badger the professor about seeing Dumbledore, or going to the Tower to put his things away.
"Well, if I have to monitor your every sleeping breath, I would rather do it in the comfort of my own quarters." Seeing Harry's look of blank incomprehension, he simplified. "You will be staying here, Mr. Potter, until I discover a way to alleviate your night time incidents."
Only Snape could make curing nightmares sound that complex.
He was staying with Snape. In Snape's rooms. Snape was going to be watching him sleep. Gods, he'd be dead within a week. Still, that was longer than he would have lasted at the Dursleys, so he should probably be grateful for the extra lease of life, even if it was short.
Snape gave him a harsh glare. "Professor Dumbledore. He is away at the moment. He will be very busy with a number of things this summer, so you are not to bother him." Harry thought that he could guess what those things were. He felt another sting of regret for letting Voldemort come back; now the Headmaster had so many more cares.
Snape showed him in then disappeared immediately, after warning him not to go through certain doors. It looked like he was going to be on his own until the evening then.
Harry didn't have the nerve to go against Snape's commands; despite his occasionally morose thoughts assisted suicide was not something he considered as an aim in life. Nor did he work up the courage to touch any of Snape's private items that were displayed, the photographs and curious little ornaments that he couldn't deduce the purpose of. He made the most out of looking at them though, and made up little histories for everything, how Snape acquired them and what he and his friends (had Snape had friends?) had been doing when the photos were taken. From the way that the younger Snape stood in them, stiff and totally still, they might have been taken by a Muggle camera. The other people in them moved though, so Harry dragged a chair over in front of one and stared at Snape until he finally caught a movement, almost half an hour later. The boy in the picture slyly reached out a hand and sharply poked the person next to him in the ribs. When they turned around he had already gone back to his previous position, so they started up a fight over it with the person behind him. Harry couldn't keep from laughing a little and fancied that he saw a subtle smile on Snape's face too.
When he moved on to the next picture Lucius Malfoy smirked out at him horribly, and he remembered hearing the man's voice in the graveyard that night. He gave up after that and played chess against himself until quite late, asking the house elves to bring him some food when it seemed the Potions master wasn't going to show. The chess pieces viewed the activity as a free for all, and they spent the time arguing with him and each other about the best ways to move and how they could improve his game. It got rather tiring after a while, but he had nothing else to do. When they descended into a brawl, crawling over each other in order to hack the other side to pieces viciously, he did nothing to stop them, and watched the carnage on the board with uneasy detachment.
"I never imagined that this could be what the famous Harry Potter did to entertain himself. Surely you have heroic plans to be making; or is that rabble the fate of the wizarding world should you command it?" The barbed drawl from behind him made Harry jump slightly before he forced himself not to react further. It was just the sort of comment he'd come to expect from Snape, and he once again had to struggle with himself not to respond. It was so unfair that this man was allowed to taunt him mercilessly and he couldn't even defend himself.
He allowed himself an angry glare at the man, but nothing more. After all, Snape was supposed to be helping him, so he didn't want to irritate the professor more than he did by just existing.
"Let's get this over with," snarled the Potions master, motioning Harry in the direction of the bedroom. He didn't think it would do him any good to protest that he wasn't tired.
Trying to sleep while someone was watching him so intently was even more difficult than when worrying about his usual night terrors. Now he was not only worried about the nightmare that was undoubtedly waiting for him, but also how much of a fool he was going to make of himself in front of Snape. It was really much better to do one's screaming in private.
It took an hour of his restless shifting before the other man got irritated. "For Merlin's sake, go to sleep!"
Harry felt that was very unjust. It wasn't as though he was purposefully not sleeping just in order to annoy Snape; he was the victim here!
After that he stayed still, making sure that his breathing was even, and pretended in the same way that he had in the dormitories throughout the Tournament, when slumber wouldn't find him.
Snape was not fooled. The man let out an exaggerated sigh, then started reading aloud. It was some sort of potions manual. "Ground Achera root has been found to possess properties not dissimilar to those displayed by the..."
Harry fell asleep straight away after that.
Waking up was not clearly defined by any boundary, there was still darkness, screaming and pain, and that was one of the things that made the nightmares all the worse. He was always afraid that he hadn't really woken up, that he was trapped there in that madness.
Most of the screaming was his own now, though he could still hear echoes of other's howls in his ears, just as he felt shards of remembered pain slicing through his nerves. Nevertheless, he thought he might still be in the graveyard as it was so dark; whenever he woke up there was always at least the light of the moon, so in terror he started babbling to Voldemort.
"No! Please don't hurt them. Please don't. Leave me alone. Don't..."
Then there was a warmth nearby and a hand touching his shoulder. He was awake after all then, awake and not in the graveyard. In that case he had a different kind of begging to do.
"I'm sorry, Uncle, I didn't mean to." Every night in the past week he had lived in fear that Vernon would make good on his threat to throw Harry into the streets. Out there anyone could find him, Voldemort could breeze in and take him away with no barriers at all.
"Potter," said the voice in the darkness, and suddenly he understood why there was no light. They were in the dungeons. He was safe.
A great choking sob emerged from his throat, and he tried to curl in on himself to hide all of the fear and pain inside him.
"Lumos." The dim light that appeared made the abject panic that had swamped him recede a little, and he could make out a dark shape in front of him. The black robes reminded him forcibly of the Death Eater attire, and he was lost in memory once more, shuddering as the details of the dream came back full force.
The warmth pressed closer as he withdrew into himself, solid and comforting, and he found himself clinging to it, no matter what the source. No one had ever been there after one of his nightmares before, unless it was his uncle scolding him, and the sensation of being held was wonderful. He feebly crawled towards the person until he was as entrenched as possible and felt arms come up to encompass him.
Safe, he was safe. It took a while for the idea to penetrate properly, but once it did some awareness of the world returned. There was a low, familiar voice murmuring to him. "Shhh, keep breathing, Potter, don't hyperventilate. It's over. I really don't want to have to explain to Albus how 'The-Boy-Who-Lived' choked in my bed." It was so bizarre to have Snape, of all people, soothing him that he started crying. He didn't mean to, he even tried stifling the sobs, but his emotions had been overloaded and there was only so much that he could conceal.
He would have wished again that there was no one here to see him except that it felt so very good to be comforted like this, to have Snape tuck Harry's head under his chin and hold him.
Cool glass was pressed against his lips and he swallowed down whatever foul potion it was hurriedly. It didn't taste as bad as he'd expected; nothing like Dreamless sleep so at least he knew that they hadn't forgotten it was useless to him.
The world seemed to retreat a bit and become more clear at the same time. He realised that it must have been some kind of calming potion, like they were supposed to study next year. "Thank you," he mumbled blearily. He could just about make out Snape's face without his glasses on, and the expression of concern it wore was so alien that he thought he might not even be seeing that far correctly. He always felt so vulnerable when he couldn't see properly, which was probably connected to Dudley trampling on his lenses frequently in his youth just before 'Harry hunting' was to commence.
"You are welcome." There was a hint of mocking in that controlled tone.
Harry suddenly felt uncomfortable in his position now that things made enough sense to notice it. There was something wrong with sitting half in his most hated professor's lap, with his head buried in the thick black robes and wiry arms wrapped carefully around him. He tried to move backwards, but discovered that his muscles didn't work quite as they should and instead fell back on the mattress with a thump as the arms released their hold.
Snape glanced down at him, amused. Harry might not have been able to analyse the exact details of the man's face, but he just knew there was a smirk there somewhere.
"You're soaked," said the professor with a curl of his lip, and the dampness caused by his cold sweat came forward from the edge of Harry's awareness and made him feel even worse, soggy and bedraggled. This happened every time, he always seemed to make up afterwards for the depths of fear that there just wasn't time for when the actual nightmare was occurring.
"Sorry," he whispered, still feeling out of it. The fact that the world was blurry and swaying slightly around him only added to that.
"I think that a bath is required."
Snape was being unusually nice about everything, Harry mused as he heard the other man tinkering in the bathroom. This just confirmed the idea of Dumbledore ordering the professor to act like this. Unless Snape was just going to save up all the humiliation until term started again so that he could be embarrassed in front of his friends.
The thought wrenched a heartfelt groan from him; he would have to face everyone again when the school year started, which he had managed to avoid at the end of last term. There were going to be so many questions.
"Are you all right?" That would be one of them. It took him a moment to realise that it had been spoken aloud, by Snape. He jumped slightly then at the dark voice coming from beside him and realised the other man must have heard his moaning.
"Fine," he said reflexively, and Snape snorted in disbelief.
"Come on then, Mr. Potter."
Despite both of their efforts to get Harry to his feet, the combination of the nightmare and the potion had rendered his muscles useless. "I can't," he cried out in frustration, as he slumped down once more. Snape calmed him with a hand on his forehead as the professor's face brow creased in thought.
Blushing was too mild a word for what happened when the Potions master started to unbutton Harry's pyjamas as he lay on the bed. Every millimetre of skin turned previously undiscovered shades of crimson. Gods, he hated being fourteen, his body reacted against his commands every other second. Even though his voice had finally settled down, he was still constantly going red at the smallest provocation. This provocation, however, wasn't so small. When Snape's fingers moved to pull his bottoms down he closed his eyes and tried to pretend that he was anywhere but here. There were bound to be thousands of remarks on 'size' in potions classes now, and he knew that he would cringe at every one of them
He was picked up with no warning and had to cling to Snape's neck as the room spun around him. Another involuntary moan spilled from him and he felt more than slightly nauseous. Out of the myriad things he ought to have been concerned with, the only thing he could truly seem to focus on was the way that the other man's thumb felt as it absently twitched over the sensitive skin on the back of Harry's knee as he was carried. It must have been something in the potion.
The copious amounts of bubbles in the bath were a relief to him; the less time spent naked and defenseless in front of his professor the better. It did make him wonder why Snape had bubble bath in his chambers, but he dismissed it as meddling from the house elves. All relief vanished when he realised that the man meant to stay and wash him.
"I'm fine," he squeaked, hearing the edge of hysteria in his voice but unable to change it. The potion seemed to work too well on his motor functions and not well enough on calming him down generally. Maybe it wasn't designed for such extreme situations?
Snape just leveled an implacable look at him. "Can you move enough to bathe yourself?"
Eagerly, Harry reached for the washcloth, trying to prove that he was capable of looking after himself. He missed the first two times, but blamed that on his sight. As soon as he managed to grasp it, his fingers lost their grip and it went splashing down into the tub.
"Precisely." There was no arguing with that.
As his professor fished for the cloth in the water, having discarded his outer robes and rolled up his sleeves, Harry tried to talk himself down from the nervous tension that enveloped him. He was already stressed enough after the torment of the nightmare, he really didn't need this too. On the other hand, there was no other way. Everything would be fine. He started repeating that in his head like a mantra.
Snape began scrubbing at his neck and chest. He was a lot less rough than Harry would have expected; the gentle motions felt nice and he started to feel his eyelids drooping. When he was leaned forward and the hands started washing his back he actually let out a whimper of relief as the hot water and rubbing eased the aches in his body.
"You're so tense," commented the smoky voice from near his ear, and this time he wasn't sure of the exact cause of his redness.
When Snape showed an inclination of going lower, Harry panicked and blurted out, "My back is really stiff." The hand stilled, then retreated, and he tried not to sigh in relief. Some things were just too humiliating.
"Hmm," purred the professor from behind him. "Pomfrey mentioned in her instructions that I should give you massages to help."
Okay, this was getting Harry's mind off the awfulness of the nightmares, but did it really have to be Snape? And... a massage? He wasn't sure if the development of a potion to help him sleep was really worth the trauma he was going through now. Snape couldn't be enjoying this either, pandering to his most loathed student. That thought brought him up short and kept him quiet as he was dried and carried back to the bed. It was actually quite nice being carried, he noted abstractly, it gave him a squishy feeling in his stomach.
If Snape was going through all of this for his benefit, he really owed it to the man to be as cooperative as possible. The fingers working the knots out of his shoulders relaxed him enough that he actually forgot how completely naked he was and what had brought him here. Snape's talented hands gentled and then stopped, and he let out his breath in a long, drawn out sigh, drifting easily into sleep.
Stretching out luxuriously the next morning, the first thing he noticed wasn't that he had no clothes on, it was that he was alone. No dorm-mates, no relatives, no Snape. He allowed himself to stay in bed for over ten minutes just to enjoy the fact that he could.
It was when he started to get up that he observed his lack of pyjamas, which immediately brought back the circumstances that they had disappeared under. He was more than relieved then that his professor had vanished, or he wouldn't have been able to think of a single thing to say.
Once he had plucked up the courage to open the main door, afraid that Snape might be lurking behind it, he went out to the groundskeepers hut. Hagrid wasn't there, busy on a mission as he was, but Fang was. Filch must be feeding him while the half-giant was gone. The very idea of the grisly caretaker being the only contact that the dog had made him wince in sympathy, so he took him out for a long romp around the grounds and lavished attention on him.
At lunch time he went to the Great Hall from habit. It was strange to see the place so empty and bare with all the house banners down. Most of the teachers were off doing business for Dumbledore, and those remaining ate in their own rooms. He went and asked Dobby for something, and left feeling fuller than a hot air balloon.
After that he took his Firebolt out for a spin with the main purpose of tiring himself out. It worked, as by supper time he was already yawning. He planned to do it more often; it was liberating to be able to fly wherever he wanted around the school and have no one in the way or reprimanding him.
Snape returned at the same hour as the night before, and Harry wanted to ask where he'd been, but didn't dare to say anything at all after what had happened last night. He wondered if the other man had been making the potion that would help him, or was it too early for that? Maybe Snape was doing something for the Order? The famed Gryffindor courage seemed to desert itself at moments like this, and he said nothing. The Potions master had probably just been sleeping to make up for time lost the previous night.
It was just as hard to get to sleep that night, if not harder, for now in the darkness he replayed what he had been repressing all day, how he had behaved the previous night, and how Snape had touched him. He was being treated like a child, but it was what he deserved for acting like one about the nightmares, he supposed.
He woke up in the middle of the night with no shaking or screaming, just a pleasant dream that slipped through his mind's efforts to recall it. There appeared to be some source of light in the room, as he could see faint shadows outlined on the wall in front of him. Rolling over slowly, he found jet black eyes fixed on him unwaveringly. It was different to actually discover that Snape watched him the whole night than to think about it. He had imagined that the man would be reading a book, or asleep himself, but he hadn't ever seen his professor looking so focused unless he was working on a difficult potion. The thought that he was of the same level of importance as the man's life long passion was somehow pleasing.
Now that he had seen the Potions master, he found that he couldn't keep his eyes from closing drowsily, but he held Snape's gaze until the last.
The next morning the first thought that he had was that at least he was still wearing his pyjamas this time. Then he scolded himself for it; a night without nightmares, the first since the Tournament, and the only thing that he was thankful for was the preservation of his modesty
Maybe Snape wouldn't need to watch him anymore. Maybe he didn't need a potion after all? He would feel really guilty about worrying Dumbledore if that was the case, but at least there would be no more night time horrors.
The next night, as he panted with his throat hoarse from screaming, he knew that he shouldn't have allowed his hopes to rise. Nothing good ever happened to him and he never got a reprieve.
Stifling his sobs in the folds of volumous robes, scented with various potions, herbs and salt, he heard Snape say, "I will stop this, Potter."
Of course, by the time he worked up the presence of mind to worry about anything other than killing green and goblets of blood, he worried about Snape. The seemingly abrupt change in the man's behaviour, even though the majority of the words directed Harry's way were still acidic, was irreconcilable with what he knew of the professor. He had never really cared what Snape thought before, beyond hating that he was hated without good reason. Now he went over every stupid thing that he did in front of the other man, and what Snape had said in return.
Did Snape think him a useless child whom they could have no faith in, especially after his spectacular failure to protect Cedric? Why was he helping Harry then? Was this all due to Dumbledore's interference?
He was so caught up in his thoughts and the abnormal detachment that the potion wrought that he hadn't noticed when Snape's hands worked their way up methodically from soaping his calves until they were right at the top of his inner thighs. Jerking away slightly and feeling the ever-present blush returning full force, he willed himself not to scream and try and jump out of the tub.
He was just beginning to think that he might not entirely like girls that way after all of the confusing feelings that took place concerning Cho, and now Snape was touching him in places that no one else ever had. How was he supposed to react to that?
To his utter mortification he could feel himself beginning to grow hard, as he only ever had once or twice before when alone, and almost resorted to thoughts of Cedric just to get rid of the problem. He leaned forward in an instinctive motion to hide and protect himself; Snape seemed to take it as an invitation to scrub his back.
He had just got himself back to normal, with disgusting thoughts where Filch played a starring role, in order to be carried back to the bed without embarrassing himself.
Then the massage started.
He told himself that it was the potion making him react like this, as it had made his head spin. He told himself that it was the oil Snape had poured on his back to rub in, as it had a musky, heady aroma.
Oh God, this was Snape. Snape! Yet he could barely restrain himself from humping the bed whilst he was being touched. If the man ever got to know about this then Harry would just go and voluntarily give himself over to Voldemort, as his life wouldn't be worth much anyway.
When Snape finished he was slightly taken aback that Harry was not asleep yet. "Aren't you tired?" he inquired.
Harry's brain stumbled for a moment. "Yes," he said with a groan. "Very. I just can't... I just..." Snape nodded gravely as though he understood, and Harry was never so grateful that someone had misinterpreted him before.
"Well then, I think that I may have identified an ingredient in Dreamless sleep which you somehow neutralise in your blood stream before it can take effect. It is quite rare, so finding a substitute may take some time and experimentation. I have tried..."
Harry fell asleep to the drone of the Potions master's melodious voice.
It was scary how fast he was becoming used to waking up naked in someone else's bed.
That afternoon there was a change from the previous routine. Harry was sitting by the lake, idly swinging his legs off the side of the bank while staring at the patterns the ripples made, when a shadow fell on him. To say that he was astonished that Snape had sought him out was an understatement. He briefly considered fleeing, certain that he was about to be made a slave in the professor's labs, but thought that Snape would merely be even meaner to him when he was then eventually caught.
"Mr. Potter. I have sent out letters to various agencies and experts, and can do little more until they are returned." Snape waited for comments and, when there were none, continued with a calculating look. "Since I observe you have nothing constructive to do in your spare time, perhaps you would care to improve your non existent skills at potions. No? Chess then?"
Harry agreed without thought, and only once he had re-entered the dungeons did he realise quite how badly he was going to lose. This would be one more excuse for Snape to laugh at him. Except that the other man hadn't been laughing at him recently, and that was very confusing. Was the greasy bastard that he had seen in his school time all a front to protect the professor's cover with Voldemort?
The game was largely quiet, neither could think of anything to say beyond talking about the progress of the potion and Harry's health. Harry considered bringing up the weather, but could predict the death glare he would receive.
Night came quickly, and this time Harry found it easier to go to sleep being so keenly observed. It almost warmed him, knowing that in however small a capacity, Snape cared.
Waking up was entirely different to the muddled terror he had become accustomed to. All he could think of was the lingering impression of a wonderful pair of lips kissing him and a hand caressing his most intimate places. They faded away as he was shaken roughly. Grumbling in bemusement, he nonetheless responded when a firm body pulled him close, arching into it and moaning even as he wondered when they had both developed clothes.
"Potter!" Came the insistent voice. His eyes jerked open and he recognised the voice simultaneously.
Snape was holding him.
Gathering all of his courage he looked up into the other man's face and found it concerned. The professor must have thought he'd had a nightmare again. He deliberately ignored the tiny glint he saw flash in the charcoal orbs as being unimportant, and lifted one leg up slightly to form a barrier between their bodies. Between Snape and his own exceedingly ill-timed erection.
"It's all over now," murmured Snape in a supposedly comforting fashion; Harry suddenly found that those tones made him as horny as hell! It certainly wasn't helping to alleviate the symptoms of his desire.
When he felt the now familiar vial pressed to his lips he started to protest, he didn't really need it today, but then the potion was already down his throat and his body turned into obliging soft mush. All except that one essential part of him that stayed hard.
He prayed to God that Snape would leave him this one time...
"You're all sticky," said Snape, almost affectionately, and Harry desperately tried not to see the double meanings in that.
God was laughing at him somewhere.
He was not gay. He most certainly did not like Snape. Professor Snape. Ugly, greasy Death Eater. As the older man left to run the water, he thought about all the times that the Potions master had mocked and shouted at him in class. Then he tried thinking about Dumbledore. Vernon was his last resort, and he thought that it might have worked for a minute but then the memory of the hands from his dream returned. He couldn't help connecting that with the way that Snape's hands would soon be all over him. Touching all over him.
Oh God. He bit back a whimper as Snape lowered his pyjama bottoms, but the other man didn't say anything on the matter. Maybe he hadn't noticed? Harry mentally slapped himself; he might still be growing, but some things were unmissable. Maybe the professor thought that it was a normal reaction to a stressful situation? That had to be it.
Being carried was amazingly awkward; he had never been so self conscious before in his life! Snape had to be looking straight at his cock from that angle; it must have been practically waving in the man's face!
At least Snape didn't try to wash him there. He did spend a great deal of time washing Harry's chest though, managing to scrape over his suddenly sensitive nipples every few strokes. This drove Harry insane as he tried not to come, or to bite through his own lip.
Snape couldn't know what he was doing. The man seemed completely oblivious to how aroused Harry was and that it had most definitely not been a nightmare tonight. Harry earnestly hoped that this would never, ever happen again. In fact, until Snape got replies to his letters, why did he even need to take care of Harry? He was sure that he could do just fine on his own, especially if the dreams carried on in this thread.
He was still hard as a rock and throbbing almost painfully when Snape carried him back to the bed. The other man still didn't say anything, and there was no change in expression. There was no way that he couldn't have seen though. Harry kept trying to cover himself unobtrusively with his hands, but wasn't very successful as Snape kept shifting position.
When he heard Snape getting out the oil he used for massages, Harry couldn't contain a flinch. "I'm fine," he said, hearing an edge of desperation in his own voice. He couldn't exactly admit the problem outright, could he? "Really. I just want to get some sleep."
"Now, Potter." The voice was reproving. "If you go to sleep so tense then you'll suffer in the morning."
Harry had a sudden feeling that Snape knew exactly what was going on, and was taking advantage of the opportunity to humiliate him. He dismissed the idea upon seeing the man's blank face again. How would he ever be able to look at his professor again, even if Snape didn't mention that anything was wrong?
The fact that he didn't dirty the bed sheets was testament to the strength of his self control. He had just never thought that it would be tested in quite this manner.
Next night the nightmares were back worse than ever, and as he woke with a searing pain flooding through his scar and red eyes flashing in his vision he decided that anything was better than this.
The overwhelming terror had been so complete that he submitted to Snape's ministrations without even his usual mental protestations. It felt so good to be held and bathed and eased. The warm water surrounding him merged with the feeling of warm hands moving over his skin, and he just lay there and let them force the residues of the horrific dream back."Thank you," he muttered, even as darkness claimed him.
If Snape was capable of doing so, then Harry would have said that he was smiling.
He actually did work the next day. Usually he didn't bother that much about getting his homework done early, despite good intentions, but this time he didn't want the professor to have a chance to nag him.
Snape came back early again, and they had a silent dinner together. Harry thought that even if he did have anything to say he would have been far too embarrassed to actually come out with it. After that they sat in the living room reading quietly. It was nice. Peaceful.
When he was woken that night he was doubly disorientated. Not only was the last thing he remembered being on the couch, but in his dream Snape had been touching him all over, and now the other man actually was. The satiation he felt was enough to make his stomach clench in dread as he realised that he must have climaxed in his sleep. While Snape was watching him. Had the other man seen? Did he know? Once again there was no change in the neutral expression as the Potions master held him, rocking him slowly.
He attempted to feebly wipe himself off on his clothes while Snape was in the other room, knowing that the house elves would take care of it when it was discarded. At least it should be gone before they came back to the bedroom after Harry's bath.
When Snape undressed him he was torn between watching to see if the other man knew, or just staring at the ceiling and hoping that it would all be over as soon as possible. The ceiling won, as it couldn't glare back at him accusingly or make sharp comments.
Still Snape said nothing, though he very carefully washed his stomach and down between his legs in the bath and Harry could not work up the nerve to protest. It was as though if he spoke out about it, it would make it more real, and his professor would know what had happened. The feeling of the sponge rubbing against him made him fight not to cringe away or get hard again.
The Potions master obviously thought he wasn't relaxed enough by the back massage, as he was rolled over and had his chest done too. The way that the very tips of the man's little fingers kept accidentally brushing against his nipples made him ache terribly inside.
Thankfully after that he was left alone.
The next night there was yet another erotic dream. He woke still hard and, before he had quite come around, he had already rubbed himself off against Snape.
Rubbed himself off against Snape.
Maybe he could deliver himself to Voldemort in the morning.
He wasn't so sure that the professor was so entirely unaware this time; there was the slightest flaring of the man's nostrils and the eyes were even more darkened than usual. Maybe Snape was just pretending that nothing was wrong. That was a scary thought. It had to be almost as embarrassing for the other man as it was for Harry, if he did understand what was going on. Perhaps by treating it as a nightmare Snape hoped to avoid disturbing confrontations?
All of this rationalising was not helping to distract him from the fact that he had just come all over Snape.
This time, as Snape gently washed between his legs, it was a sob that he stifled. He wasn't too happy when the professor decided that a foot massage might help either. He would have thought that if the other man knew how Harry was feeling, he would want as little contact as was necessary. So maybe he didn't know? Harry wanted to believe it, but there was a certain level of delusion that he couldn't reach beyond, and this time there was evidence left on Snape's robes.
Being pulled awake the next night before the dream had progressed very far, Harry found that he could remember it more clearly than usual. It was the same one that he'd been experiencing the last two nights as well.
Snape had pulled him onto his lap and was gently carding his fingers through Harry's hair as Harry got his breathing under control.
"I'm fine. Really, it wasn't that bad. I'll just go back to sleep now," Harry said quickly. Snape frowned, and his heart plummeted. The potion was practically forced into his mouth, and the other man stroked his throat until he swallowed reflexively. "No." He choked on the liquid. "I'm fine." The usual lightheadedness descended.
"I have to take care of you," Snape murmured softly. However hard Harry tried, he couldn't hear any irony or mocking in the other man's tone.
Why hadn't he gone to Voldemort? It would have been so simple.
He was given an extra thorough scrubbing that night, but was glad because it just lengthened the time he had to get himself under control. That was in theory. He found that Snape dragging the rough cloth over the small of his back repeatedly was just making him even more turned on.
When the other man's hand slid down between his legs he tried to twist away and argue, but his body wasn't totally under his control; the potion had made him woozy and his arousal made him buck up slightly into the teasing washcloth with a cry as it brushed across his heated flesh.
"Shhh, just relax, Potter. I have to make sure that you're all right." The cloth wrapped around his erection and Snape's hand squeezed him teasingly though it.
Harry's head lolled back onto the rim of the tub and he closed his eyes with a sigh, waiting for something to happen; Snape would throw him out or at the very least call him a freak.
Nothing of the sort occurred, except that Snape abandoned the hand-towel and soap-slick fingers moved down to caress his balls, then pressed lightly behind them, making him yelp loudly. "Shhh." Came the husky order again, and now Harry did meet the other's eyes and found them burning and unshielded. He was so confused, and was unable to think because of the things that were being done to him. What did this mean? Snape's thumb skated over the tip of his cock, and he stopped thinking all together.
Frustratingly soon after that the hand moved away and washed elsewhere. This time Harry's distressed cry had a different motivation, and he cursed himself mentally as the worst kind of freak. He wasn't supposed to enjoy his professor's touches like this. He really didn't understand what was going on; what was Snape thinking?
He found out soon after he was moved back to the bed. His cock felt like it had swollen to twice it's normal size with unresolved tension. It might have been his imagination, but he thought Snape was taking less time on his back than usual.
He was turned over, and when he looked up found that Snape's eyes were fixed on his bobbing erection even as the skilled hands kneaded his chest. He moaned, and that made the professor glance at his face, then lean over him.
"So beautiful," the Potions master whispered reverently, seemingly to himself. Then, his gaze becoming sly, he said, "There is one more place in which you seem extremely stiff, Mr. Potter, that I have neglected shamefully. I do not think that you will be able to sleep unless I tend to it." The very words, along with the voice that they were delivered in, served to make Harry harder.
Without breaking eye contact, Snape drew a line up the underside of Harry's shaft with his thumb. Harry arched up into the touch mindlessly, wanting this so very badly that he couldn't possibly resist. As the rest of the dark-haired man's fingers joined in the dance of circling his straining erection, Harry whimpered and pleaded and groaned for more.
"Such terrible dreams you have, to make you act like this," Snape said close to his ear. Harry could do nothing but cry out again as the slit at the head of his cock was played with mercilessly. Maybe this was the reason that the professor had been so nice of late. Maybe he had wanted Harry all along. Harry wasn't going to complain about a more bearable Snape, especially if he kept doing... that!
Several minutes later, which had been filled with nothing other than Harry's animalistic noises and the sound of hand on flesh, Snape spoke again. "This was the only way to help you," he said almost fanatically. "But you can't tell anyone, or I'll never be able to make you a more permanent cure. Just let me help you."
Harry could barely make sense of the words as he was kept hovering on the edge of orgasm, but from what he could put together it sounded like his professor was blackmailing him. This was wrong, after all, but it was so difficult to think of it as such while the other man was fondling him so intimately. He was sure that he would feel like killing himself in the morning, but that was so very distant, and Snape's fingers were so exquisitely real.
"Yes," he screamed, practically arching off the bed as he came explosively in Snape's caressing hand.
"Good boy. So good. Don't tell anyone, and I'll take care of you." A warm cloth slowly wiped him clean, and he briefly thought that the bath earlier had been rather redundant if Snape had just been planning on getting him all messy again.
"Yes," Harry gasped, and closed his eyes. He wondered if this was what the rest of the summer was going to be like. If Snape would touch him again. Even as he knew he should be disturbed by the thought, it had a certain appeal. It was nice to be looked after for once.