I've grown rather obsessed with these challenges on Potions and Snitches. You might see a lot more stories from me now. Nothing like good prompts to get the brain juice flowing.

Anyway, the challenge was this: Runaway, by nnjj - A pre-Hogwarts Harry Potter is unhappy at his relatives' house and keeps running away. So far Dumbledore has sent Lupin or a nice witch from family services to retrieve him, but to no use. Stronger measures are needed for Harry to stay put and he decides to enlist Severus' services to scare the boy into staying put. Once Severus retrieves the boy they are forced to spend a certain amount of time together before it is possible to return him to Privet Drive. Will Severus notice that something is not right in the boy's home? What will Dumbledore do if his plan fails?

So, I will do my best. An idea hit me as soon as I read it and no one else had responded so I'm taking my chances. Let me know if this'll make a good story!

For the record, it may contain Corporeal Punishment, I haven't entirely decided yet. We'll get there when we get there. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Do not own Harry Potter

Albus Dumbledore paced in his office, anxiously waiting for Severus's arrival. He had sent a note to the Potions Master asking for his assistance in a . . . rather complicated task. He had left out that the complicated task involved one Harry Potter.

The Boy-Who-Lived hadn't even started Hogwarts yet. If Albus had his math correct, Harry was only seven years old. But even at such a young age, the boy had run away from his relatives' home for five times – no, this was the sixth. The wards had just alerted Albus moments ago that Harry had taken off once more and was gaining quite some distance away from his home. It was too dangerous for someone as valuable as Harry Potter to be leaving the safety of his home.

And yes, he was completely aware of what went on inside that house. He knew Harry's life would be hard, but this was the only way to keep the boy safe. He needed the protection of the blood wards and Petunia Dursley was the only living relative of Lily Potter. Besides, what went on in the house wasn't that bad was it. Albus had only been told by the witches from family services what they saw when he sent them to retrieve the boy to take him home.

They mentioned that the child's bedroom was a cupboard under the stairs, that he was a thin boy, and he seemed terrified of his aunt, uncle, and cousin! But that wasn't too bad, Albus was sure he had seen worse. Kids survive pretty rough times. And besides, the witches never mentioned bruises or broken limbs. And the boy was breathing and able to run miles from home – though a little accidental magic may be playing a role in that.

But each time he sent a friendly witch who knew how to speak convincingly to a child, the boy still ran away within a month or so. Once a year back was the first incident, in mid-July with clothes that were practically falling off the boy. He had been on the streets of Surrey for a night before the witch Albus sent had found him. She managed to reassure him and take him back home peacefully.

The second, third, and fourth times were each a month apart with three different ladies collecting the boy. They were each similar – the boy left home in the evening and ran until nightfall where he would find a place to sleep. The next day, one of the ladies Albus could get in touch with would find the boy, take him out to lunch, talk sweetly, then return him home.

The fifth time had been a little different. The boy had managed to hide for about three days in an alleyway before the witch he sent managed to find him. She had been so terrified, but her relief overwhelmed her when she spotted him digging in trash for food. She took him to breakfast that time and explained like the other ladies that she worked with family services and why she couldn't allow a boy to live on the streets.

What was concerning to Albus though was the one thing that remained consistent in all five cases, the boy never spoke a word. No matter what the ladies said or did, Harry just stared at them blankly or pointed to what he wanted if they were out to eat. Was he mute? Did he fear speaking to adults? Or did he just obey the "no talking to strangers" rule so well?

No mater, Albus had a new plan this time. Perhaps the boy didn't need a sweet stranger to return him home. Clearly, that didn't work to keep him there. What might work could be a good scare. Perhaps if the boy had a little fear of the outside world, he might be more willing to stay put in his relatives' care. And what better man to scare children than one of the feared professors, Severus Snape?

Albus was torn from his thoughts as the man in question stepped into his office.

"Good evening, Severus," Albus smiled, taking a seat behind his desk.

"Evening, Headmaster," Severus greeted, taking a seat in front of the man's desk. "You wanted to see me about an urgent matter?"

"I did, Severus, I did," Albus nodded. "It seems we have an out of Hogwarts situation that needs tending to. And I thought your help in this might be very beneficial."

"Can we just get straight to the point, Albus?" Severus asked impatiently. "I have many papers to grade and a potion brewing presently."

"Of course, dear boy," Albus smiled. He was used to Severus's temperament; it was just how the man was and he meant no harm by it. "You see, a young boy – a halfblood – lives with his muggle relatives but he has been consistently running away from his home. I have sent five witches from family services to return the boy safely to his home, but he never remains there for long."

"And you summoned me, why?" Severus frowned.

"What I am thinking is that perhaps instead of sweet visits, the child needs a . . . scare to get him to stay put. Nothing big, no need to traumatize the child. Just a quick little reality check of what the outside world has to offer to little boys alone on the streets."

"Again," Severus's frown deepened. "You summoned me, why? Who is this brat anyway?"

"Harry Potter," Albus answered.

"Harry Potter?" Severus practically spat out, his frown now a glare. "So, the spoiled little prince isn't satisfied with his relatives' fancy home, is he? Perhaps the house isn't big enough? Or his relatives' slaving away to his every need isn't enough for him?"

"Now, now," Albus raised a hand. "The boy may have his reasons, but I am hoping that a little scare may encourage him to stay home. That is where you come in."

"You want me to scare the Boy-Who-Lived?" Severus raised an eyebrow in disbelief. "Albus, I may instill some fear in the students here, but I think to scare a young child on the streets may be rather . . . cruel, don't you think?"

"I'm afraid we have little choice. Harry must be kept in the safety of the blood wards around his aunt's home. It's the only way to keep him protected and hidden. He must return home and he must remain home. And if instill a little fear of the outside world is the only way to do this, then I'm afraid it must be done."

"And I was the first person that jumped to mind?"

"You are the best at it. And the only one I can trust to keep this matter between us."

"Where is Potter anyway? He ran away in this weather? It's the middle of January for Merlin's sake!"

"Yes, and you will have to work quickly. I do no believe the boy is properly dressed at all and we do not want him catching frostbite or pneumonia."

"Of course, he's not. He probably doesn't even know how to dress himself without the help of his servants."

"I would also ask you to remember that you are not supposed to know this boy. Try to keep magic to a minimum and refrain from using his name."

"How did the other five ladies manage?"

"They managed, have no fear. It is better this way. Harry is just a child after all. I am not sure what his relatives told him of his past –"

"Probably every little detail of what a wonderful hero he is."

"But," Albus continued, ignoring Severus's snide comment, "we will treat him as a muggle child just in case. And one we do not know."

Severus sighed and rubbed at his head. "I'm going to have to banish the potion I have brewing. This will also set me behind on my work."

"No worries, no worries," Albus said. "It is a Friday after all. This task shouldn't take long. Maybe get him running back home or if you'd like, I can call another witch from family services . . ."

"I do not think they would approve," Severus said. "What am I supposed to do? Attempt to kidnap him? What if he doesn't even run home?"

"I'm sure you'll think of something. Good luck, Severus."

Damn old coot, Severus thought as he walked away from Hogwarts, so he could apparate to Surrey. Here he goes, off to scare a little boy who couldn't be any older than seven. This was terrible and ridiculous. Forget that it was freezing, and the snow had picked up speed. He hoped a blizzard wasn't on its way. He had checked the weather, and the snowstorm was supposed to be just south of Surrey. It better stay there.

Severus past the anti-apparition wards and disapparated from Hogwarts. Once he arrived in an alleyway in Surrey, he used a locator charm to find Harry's location. He just wanted to make this as quick as possible, so he could get back to Hogwarts and back to work.

Why did I agree to this? Severus thought as he followed the tug of his wand. He didn't want to deal with the spoiled brat four years earlier than he needed to. This was torture on his behalf. And it felt . . . wrong. Despite his willingness to terrorize his students, a small child was a whole other field. Students needed a little fear – potions nor defense against the dark arts (a class he hoped to one day teach) were something to fool around in. To scare a child running away from home . . . why was he even running away from home to begin with?

Severus sighed, seeing his breath in the air. The wind was picking up and it howled around him. There was no one on the streets. No one would be stupid enough to be out in this weather. Why on earth would a little kid think any differently?

A little Gryffindor in the making Harry was.

There he was, speak of the devil. Severus paused where he stood. The small body of the child was in an alleyway curled up against the side of a building where little snow touched the ground due to the overhang. The boy had his arms wrapped around his legs and was shivering. Severus frowned at the boy's attire.

He had on a tattered old jumper that swallowed the small body and some ripped up trousers that seemed much too large on him. They covered the boy's feet, which Severus hoped had sneakers or, better yet, boots. Severus didn't like the look of this. Did the boy take off from home in the worst clothes imaginable? Why would he even possess such atrocious clothes?

Severus cautiously approached the boy, not wanting to startle him. When he stood in front of him, he gently tapped the boy's knee with a knuckle.

The child gasped and jumped, curling in on himself more.

"Easy," Severus advised. "Can I ask what you are doing out in this weather without even a warm coat and hat?"

Harry just stared up at Severus, his eyes wide and his cheeks red and chapped from the cold.

"Right," Severus sighed. "You don't talk much, do you?"

Harry remained silent, just stared up at Severus. The wind picked up and howled, snow blowing all over the place. Harry shivered violently and curled in on himself more.

"You know, if you stay out here much longer you could freeze off a limb," Severus tried, trying to instill some fear. He really wasn't up to scaring the boy with much else. Clearly, the snowstorm was moving further north than expected. It would definitely hit Surrey. "Perhaps an arm or a leg. Which would you rather be without?"

Harry simply shrugged, remaining on the ground shivering.

Severus sighed. Wasn't he intimidating enough towering over the boy? Just standing near one of his students left them trembling and clumsily dropping whatever they're holding. This boy didn't seem the slightest bit unnerved by him. Though there were more pressing matters at hand, like freezing. Surely that was the child's concern.

"Have you," Severus tried again, "ever been told stories of what happens to little boys with no guardians nearby?"

Harry didn't react, just stared up at Severus, his body trembling as the wind blew at them harshly again. This is pathetic, Severus couldn't help but think.

"No? Well, I definitely have some fun stories to share with you," Severus said, though his mind couldn't think of one. What was something parents told their children a lot? Possibility of being kidnapped? Never being seen or heard from again? "You could be taken by a stranger, perhaps one who is a murderer. You could be killed or taken by a –"

Severus swallowed what he was about to say. No need to get too graphic, the boy was only seven. But wasn't the point to scare the child? Yes, but there was no need to get too detailed. Severus wouldn't do that. But Harry just stared up at him with his glassy green eyes, his nose just as red as his cheeks.

"What are you, deaf?" Severus snapped, his own body starting to shiver. The storm definitely just hit Surrey. They couldn't stay out here. But this task was proving more difficult than intended. "Can you hear me?"

Harry nodded. Wonderful. The boy was listening. Did nothing phase this brat?

"Are you mute?"

There was nothing from Harry. Did the child even know what mute meant?

"Can you understand me?"

Harry nodded.

Good, at least the boy knew what he was saying. Mute or not, the snow was blowing at a faster pace around them. They couldn't stay there. Why did he bother? Maybe if the child ran away the next time, Albus would decide to lock him up somewhere. Why didn't the boy's relatives teach this kid something about running away? It was their job to keep him safe. Did they even care he was out here in this weather? Giving up, Severus decided to forget the plan and just take the kid home.

"You can't stay out here. There's a storm. You have to go home."

Harry shook his head. No? Why not? Wasn't the boy freezing? He obviously was, just look at his red face.

"You need to go home; you'll freeze out here! Come on, let me take you home."

Severus reached down and tried to get the boy to stand. Harry whined in protest and pulled against Severus. Then, the boy leaned forward and bit down on Severus hand. Severus released him out of surprise more than pain.

That damn brat! Severus glared down at Harry, who curled in on himself once more, shaking furiously in the wind, staring up at him with glassy eyes. Hs gloved offered protection for the most part, but they were thin, and he felt the slight pinch of teeth on skin. Fine, if the spoiled horror wanted to stay, then Severus wasn't going to make him leave.

"Freeze for all I care," Severus snarled before turning away and leaving the alley. He made it a few feet when his morality caught up to him and he stopped himself, sighing.

He couldn't just leave the poor boy in the storm. Harry would be dead by midnight.

Severus turned and looked back at Harry, who hadn't moved. The boy wasn't dressed properly at all and he was already turning red and chapped from the weather. Severus peered through the flying snow closer at the boy. His nose was turning slightly blue.

Severus rushed back to the boy and grabbed his arm once more, trying to lift the boy up. Harry whined in protest once more before trying to bite again.

"Stop it," Severus warned, grabbing a hold of Harry's other arm. "You can't stay here. I won't make you go home yet. You can come with me and we'll go somewhere warm for the night."

Harry kept trying to bite at Severus's hand, whining louder. Severus kept his grip on Harry out of the boy's teeth reach.

"I promise," Severus said. "I won't take you home, not tonight. We'll go someplace warm, honest."

Harry stopped resisting and just stared at Severus for a long moment before nodding. Severus pulled the boy to his feet . . . and stared at the boy's bare feet. The tips of his toes were also turning blue.

"Why don't you have any shoes?"

Harry shrugged and shivered away.

Thinking fast, Severus unzipped his coat and unbuttoned his winter robe. He gathered the boy into his arms, wrapping Harry in his robe then zipping up his coat halfway, cradling the boy with his left arm. Harry's body was ice to touch and his body shook Severus's. Severus rubbed his hands over the boy's small body, trying to warm him. Where was the nearest hotel around here?

With Harry wrapped up in his robe and coat, Severus discreetly pulled out his wand and used a locator charm once more for a hotel. He followed it in the blinding weather, casting a heating charm on his and Harry's body. The boy still shook however.

Finally, he came across a hotel and rushed inside, keeping Harry against his body the whole time. He stopped at the front desk to check in and get a room. The front desk clerk started immediately checking availability when she saw Severus enter.

"Room for . . . two, sir?" the lady frowned as she looked at Harry's head against Severus's chest. "Is your kid okay?"

Severus blinked at the lady and glanced down at Harry. She really thought this was his kid? Well, with the position he found himself in, who wouldn't jump to that conclusion? He'd have to roll with it. No need alerting any authorities.

"Yes, he's fine," Severus insisted. "We got caught in the storm. Do you have available rooms?"

"Let me see," the clerk stared at her computer. "A lot of people have come in, all trapped by the storm tonight. We have one room left – but it has one bed. That shouldn't be a problem, though, should it?"

Yes, it's a problem! Severus growled in his head. This isn't my kid, dammit! Severus groaned. They needed a room and the poor boy needed a warm bath immediately. He was still shivering against him.

"It'll do," Severus decided.

The clerk nodded and booked their room and directed them where to go. Severus climbed on the elevator to the second floor and rushed to his designated room, inserting the key to unlock the door. He threw the key on the table with a loud clank as he ran to the bathroom and immediately started drawing a warm bath. He carefully maneuvered out of his winter coat, keeping Harry wrapped in his robe.

Once the bath was halfway full, he unwrapped Harry and helped the boy strip out of his clothes. He hesitated briefly when he reached for the child's shorts, but they were as frozen as everything else and he slid them off. Harry didn't seem to mind being starkers in front of him.

"There you go," Severus said, turning the water off now that the bath was full. "Go on, get in."

Harry just stood there shaking in front of him. Severus sighed. Did he have to do everything? Well, the boy was half-frozen, he could help a bit more. Severus lifted Harry up and slowly lowered him down into the warm water.

As soon as the boy touched the water, Harry started to whine and struggle in his arms.

"It's okay," Severus tried to reassure him, slowly continuing to lower him. "I know it must feel too hot, but it's because you're cold. Calm down, this will help."

Harry kept whining even as Severus lowered him completely. As Severus began pulling his hands away, Harry quickly bit down on Severus's wrist.

"Ow!" Severus yanked his hand away, then pointed a stern finger at the boy and shouted, "Stop biting!"

Harry's face scrunched up slightly and his lip trembled even more, but this time it wasn't just because of the cold. The eyes looked even more glassy and a tear escaped his eye. Oh no, Severus mentally kicked himself. Don't cry, don't do it.

Harry started crying against Severus's wishes, silent shaky sobs as more tears trailed down his already irritated cheeks. What was he supposed to do? Severus just watched Harry as he tried to think of a way to end the tears. He was not prepared for this night. Why on earth did he agree to this stupid idea? Now he was stuck with a bawling seven-year-old on the verge of frostbite. How did parents get their kids to stop crying? Why couldn't Harry be eleven?

"Stop it," Severus demanded but in a softer tone. That seemed to make Harry cry more. "Enough, no more tears. Everything's fine."

Was it? Was everything really fine? Harry just kept crying and Severus felt like he was losing his mind. He sighed and rubbed at his face.

"Hey," Severus tried again, trying to soften his voice as much as he could. "I'm sorry for yelling. I didn't mean to make you cry. Please stop."

Harry sniffled as he stared at Severus for a long moment, hiccoughing slightly. Severus raised an eyebrow and asked, "Finished?"

Harry rubbed at his cheeks and nodded.

"Good boy," Severus let out with a sigh of relief. Harry just stared at him, then offered a small smile. Uncomfortable, Severus tested the warmth of the water and added a little more hot water. He talked to the silent child. "Just sit in here while I get you some po-medicine. I'll get you medicine. Stay in there."

Harry nodded.

Severus left the bathroom and leaned against the desk in the room, trying to breathe his nerves away. He was not in any shape for dealing with a tiny child. Why tonight? Why couldn't Harry have picked a warmer day to runaway from home. Severus reached into his robe and pulled out a small emergency kit he brought with him just in case. He enlarged it and grabbed a warming potion, a pepper up, and a potion to ward off any infections, like pneumonia. He found a syringe in his kit, good thing he thought about muggle ways of giving medication. He used a spell to duplicate two more syringes and measured out a good dose of each potion. Then he returned to the bathroom with them.

"Here, Po – err, kid," Severus said. "I have your medicines. One at a time now. Here, take this one first."

Severus held up the warming potion to Harry's mouth. Harry obediently opened his mouth, but when Severus squirted the potion in, Harry's face turned sour and he leaned over ready to spit the vile potion out. Severus quickly covered Harry's mouth.

"No-no," Severus said. "Swallow it."

Harry whined in protest.

"Don't give me that. You have two more and you will take them. You will not waste my . . . medicine. Now swallow."

Harry whined again but forced himself to swallow it down. Severus picked up the next syringe, but Harry clamped his mouth shut and turned his head away. Severus frowned.

"You will take these," Severus stated plainly. Harry didn't move. Seeing no other way to go about this, Severus reached out and grabbed Harry's chin, pulling the boy's head around and holding the syringe at Harry's mouth, trying to jab it in between the boy's tightly clamped lips. "They'll make you feel better. You don't want to get sick, do you?"

Harry whined in protest. Severus squeezed Harry's chin tightly until Harry gave in and opened his mouth the slightest. Severus squirted the potion in and covered Harry's mouth until the boy swallowed. One more. This was taking too much effort. Harry had already pulled his head away.

"C'mon, kid," Severus sighed, reaching for the boy's chin.

Harry turned his head quickly and tried to bite Severus. Already taught on this lesson, Severus snatched his hand away. He gave Harry a glare that scared most of his students into quick submission.

"What," Severus scolded, trying not to shout like last time, "did I tell you about biting?"

He had hoped not yelling would keep the boy from crying, but it seemed glaring and snarling at the boy had the same effect. Harry's eyes watered and his lips trembled. Severus dropped the syringe on the bathroom floor in utter defeat and held his head in his hands. He didn't know what to do know. He should have just left the boy in the storm.

No, that wouldn't have been right. The child needed to be somewhere warm and it would have been on his conscience all night. But who knew treating the boy would have been so difficult?

Severus heard the water as the boy shifted. Something scraped on the bathroom floor and Severus looked at Harry. The boy had the syringe in his mouth, his face scrunched as he slowly ejected the potion in his mouth. The boy made a face as he handed the syringe shyly to Severus. Severus stared at him in disbelief for a moment before accepting the syringe.

"Thank you," Severus muttered. He looked at Harry, who's eyes were bright as ever and staring intently at him. "And good boy."

The boy gave another small smile.

Severus grew uncomfortable and felt the warmth of the water. "Another few minutes and you'll be good to come out."

Severus stood and left the bathroom, packing away his emergency kit. He sighed and leaned against the desk, burying his head in his arms. What had he signed himself up for? They would both need nightclothes, very warm ones preferably. Severus could just transfigure his clothes into something to sleep in, but what about the boy? Deciding on the best course of action, Severus stripped off his robe, removing all the items from the pockets and putting them in his trouser pockets, and transfigured it into a long, black night shirt, guessing the size. Then he found a small towel and, using the boy's undergarments for sizing, he transfigured the towel into shorts for the boy, making sure they were soft and not uncomfortable. The size still looked too big for the boy, but he had been wearing them so maybe it was just perception. He could still shrink them if need be.

Severus entered the bathroom with the clothes and set them aside. He held out a towel.

"Okay," he told the boy. "I think you're done. Come out."

Harry obediently stood and allowed Severus to wrap him in the towel. The boy stepped out of the bathtub and took over on drying himself, his muscled moving with more ease now. As Harry turned slightly to dry his legs, Severus took in a sharp breath as he saw the boy's back and hind covered in dark, large bruises.

"What happened to you?" Severus asked.

Harry jumped and backed away from Severus, keeping his rear out of sight. Severus knew the panicked look and bit back any more questions on what happened. He swallowed. He could only imagine how those bruises came to be. And he would have to investigate his thoughts later. But it would make the numerous times Harry ran away from home understandable.

"Does it hurt?"

Harry shook his head.

"Are you being honest? I have something to make it better."

There was a long pause from Harry before the boy nodded slowly. Severus held up a hand to indicate that Harry should stay put. Severus left and dug for the emergency kit in his pocket. He enlarged it and found the bruise balm he would need. It was in a jar muggle enough to pass. He replaced the emergency kit and went back into the bathroom.

"Here, I have this," Severus showed Harry the balm. "Would you like me to apply it, or do you want to do it?"

Harry stood with his back against the far wall and just stared at Severus for long, silent moments. Finally, Harry stepped closer to Severus and turned. Severus nodded and opened the balm. The trust the boy displayed to him was rather . . . disconcerting. Severus wasn't sure why, but it felt misplaced. He rubbed the bruise balm into the boy's bottom and lower back. Clearly, Harry had taken a beating, and very recently as well. Something wasn't right, but he would dwell on it later. The child was tired and practically falling asleep against the counter as Severus finished up. Severus capped the jar and pushed the clothes closer.

"Here are some clothes for you."

Harry frowned at the new clothes, tilting his head at them and looking up at Severus with clear confusion.

"Just wear them," Severus said, not feeling the need to explain where they came from.

Harry pulled on the shorts and frowned as he held out the elastic. Severus sighed. They were too large. Why was the kid wearing clothes too big for him? Severus used wordless and wandless magic to shrink the elastic on the shorts. Harry jumped at the movement, staring down at the shorts and shooting Severus a panicked look as he backed away again, hunching his shoulders, his eyes wide.

"It's okay," Severus said softly, "it was just . . . I mean, I didn't . . ." Severus sighed. The boy was just staring at him wide eyed as if afraid Severus would hurt him. And Severus couldn't, well, wasn't allowed to explain a thing to Harry. "It's okay, kid. I didn't mean to scare you."

Severus slowly approached Harry, watching the boy's reaction. He picked up the nightshirt and held it open to drape over the boy's head. "May I?" he asked.

Harry seemed to take several deep breaths before pushing away from the wall and warily drawing closer to Severus. He gave the man a nervous glance, but all Severus did was drop the nightshirt over Harry's head.

"There," Severus said, glad that the nightshirt fit. "The hotel has extra toothpaste and brushes, so wash your teeth and then we'll get you in bed."

Harry complied and allowed Severus to lead him to the one bed in the room. Once the boy was under the covers, Severus took care of himself in the bathroom, taking a brief hot shower and transfiguring his clothes into nightclothes, all the while thinking of the bruises on Harry's back. He had so many questions for Harry, but the boy didn't even speak. Instead, he whined and tried to bite. A thought struck Severus – could Harry speak? Did he know how? He hoped Harry wasn't mute. That would complicate a lot of things.

After brushing his own teeth, Severus left the bathroom and stared down at Harry sleeping peacefully on the bed. Severus pulled out his wand and sent out his doe patronus to inform Albus of where he and Harry was and why. After giving the message and watching the doe leap away, he nearly had a heart attack when he realized Harry was staring right at him, his green eyes wide. He sighed.

"Well, I guess I don't need to hide that piece of information from you, do I?"

Harry remained silent and just stared. Severus sighed again and set his wand down on the bedside table.

"I'm a wizard, kid. As are you. Now go back to sleep."

Harry seemed even more awake now as he stared at Severus's wand and looked up at the man.

"We'll talk more in the morning. Go to sleep."

The boy stared at him before opening his mouth. In a whisper so soft, Severus swore he imagined it, the boy said, "Harry."

Severus felt a bit of hope rise in his chest. So, the boy wasn't a mute after all. And he shared his name.

"Harry. I take it that's your name?"

Harry nodded.

"My name is Severus Snape. Now go to sleep. It's late. We both need it."

Harry shifted on the bed, moving over on the bed. He made room before patting at the empty space. Severus frowned. Harry was actually offering to share the bed. It did look more comfortable than his other option.

"I'm fine, Harry. I can sleep in the chair."

Harry's eyes glanced to the chair then back to Severus. He patted the place again.

"Go to sleep, Harry," Severus demanded, sitting in the armchair and leaning back.

Harry just stared at Severus. Didn't those eyes ever blink? How unnerving. Severus tried to ignore Harry and closed his own eyes. But he could still feel the boy staring at him. After nearly five minutes, he snapped his eyes open and sighed.

"Fine, fine," Severus groaned, standing next to the bed. "If I sleep here, will you go to sleep and quit staring at me?"

Harry nodded.

"Fine," Severus snapped, climbing into the bed and under the blankets. "Well, I hope your happy for making this harder than it has to be. Now go to sleep."

Harry stared at him with his large green eyes for a moment more before giving Severus a small smile and closing his eyes. Severus leaned back in the pillows, sighing as Harry finally fell back to sleep. He looked over at the boy, watching the even rise and fall of his chest. Suddenly, thoughts of what could have been crossed his mind – thoughts of Lily and himself and . . . Severus shook the thoughts away. He had to worry about what he would do in the morning.

Clearly, the boy had a pretty good reason for running away. And Severus wasn't sure if he was ready to deal with truths yet.

It'll be dealt with in the morning, he thought, turning on his side away from Harry. He closed his eyes to earn some much needed rest.

I hope you liked it. Please review!