The usual disclaimers apply.

xx

The first night in his first own bed. Well, he had had a mattress with Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon but this was an entire – huge – bed! The bedding was so soft and warm and the pillow just right for him to cuddle in. Oddly enough, there was also a teddy bear in the bed – which wasn't really a teddy bear but a teddy creature. It was round and had almost the colour of custard and made a purring noise when Harry had poked it. And a moment later, the stuffed animal-thingy's tongue had shot out and Harry had jumped a little. Just a little when he had noticed and in the huge bed, had scrambled away a little from the furbally round creature. He was too old for a cuddly toy anyway.

'fesser Snape had not noticed the cuddly creature that almost felt as if it were alive next to Harry there in bed, when he had told him to 'get in there and sleep' but his voice had been kind and silky and soft and even though Harry wasn't used to hugs, he truly had wished in that moment, that the 'fesser had just given him a quick one before leaving the room.

He had, however, kept the door ajar and for that, Harry was grateful. Well, he was used to sleeping in the dark and amongst spiders but that was a new room and a new bed and a new cuddly toy that made purring noises. It was still rather dark and Harry was frightened for a moment. He was in a new place and what happened if he dreamed of that odd, green light and the woman screaming again? Or the flying motorcycle? He knew he had had to be quiet with Aunt Petunia but she still allowed him out of the cupboard when he was afraid and let him sit in the bright light of the kitchen and sometimes, when she was in a particularly good mood, she even only huffed a little and sometimes, but that had only happened twice or so, had given him some warm milk before she sent him back to the cupboard. He didn't know whether 'fesser Snape would allow him to cry, which he sometimes did when he had a nightmare and he knew that Uncle Vernon abhorred it, even though Dudley used to do it often – but only when he did not get the things he wanted.

Again, the cuddly furball purred and Harry thought it was moving towards him again and it frightened him. He closed his eyes very, very tightly, then opened them quickly. Maybe this way, he thought, he'd be less scared. It had worked before. And it worked now, but only because suddenly, the ceiling of the room – his room – had lit up somehow in a thousand twinkling lights. Like little stars that dotted the ceiling and Harry gasped. This was – awesome. His ceiling (well, the ceiling of his room) twinkled with stars. Magic was wonderful, he thought, even though he did not quite grasp it. And maybe the cuddly stuffed round furball toy was magical as well. Someone had probably bewitched it to make those humming, purring noises to calm Harry and when he listened to it closely, it did calm him.

But maybe it was only the ceiling, he wasn't sure.

And even though he did wonder how the cuddly thingy ended up on his chest and even though he really was too old to be cuddling a toy, and even though the lights twinkled so lovely, Harry fell asleep quickly. Unafraid.

xx

No, Severus thought, he would not go and see if the child was sleeping. He would go into his bedroom, do his usual routine before he went to bed, then slip into it and read until his eyes were too tired to keep open. He would not see if the boy was alright. He had to be mean, more or less, to him.

But truly – the boy had accepted his answer. His only telling him that he had gone to school with his parents. Quite uncharacteristically, he had kept quiet then, only a silly, stupid, demented grin on his face and with happiness in his eyes, he had gone to fetch the potions book. Of course that had been when the questions had started. But those were things he taught – there was only one, at the most two, definite answers. It was clear, it was easy to answer them. Easy – but tiring. The boy had more questions than Fawkes had feathers. And incredibly enough, the boy had soaked up the knowledge. He had remembered things. He had asked specific questions. He had listened to his answers. Voluntarily. Happily. And that was, honestly, nothing he was used to. His students had to come to his classes. They had five years to sit in there and had to listen to him talking, or had to answer his questions. The boy wanted to know things. That was – different.

He lay in his bed, wide awake, a book open on his chest, his eyes open, staring at the ceiling. Ne, he would not look in on the boy. He would be fine. Albus had gone absolutely overboard with the room. He wouldn't be surprised if there were twinkling lights on the ceiling as well or any other kind of night light. He was that way, Albus. If nobody else could put himself into the position of a child, he could and Severus had often wondered, still wondered, actually, how Minerva coped with that. But it wasn't his place to think about. He had to sleep.

Simply sleep because – well, the fiend would be up and would have thought of a billion new questions again. And he had to be fit for that – otherwise he would just snap and snarl and that would probably make the boy cry and that was not his intention. His intention was to do all this subtly. Subtly make the boy – what? Dislike him, probably. Slowly. Not with a sledgehammer. Mustn't make Albus suspicious. He smirked to himself, picked up the book from his chest and put it on his bedside cabinet before extinguishing the lights with a softly muttered 'nox'.

xx

He woke up with a start and sat up immediately, disoriented. He had, for a moment, no idea where he was and he was afraid and scared and frightened. He shivered, had somehow shoved all the bedding away, all the covers that had been on him, if there had been some. His sight was blurry and he couldn't find his glasses. He didn't know where his glasses were and he squinted, trying to make out shapes or anything, really, anything to give him a clue where he was. He wasn't at home in the cupboard, that smelled different, that felt different even though the coldness was the same.

Pulling his knees up to his chest, he tried to calm himself, stop his heart from beating horribly in his chest and his hands from shaking.

He needed to find his glasses first, and wherever he was, he needed to be quiet and that whimper that had just escaped his throat wasn't good.

Systematically. He needed to find his glasses first. And then he needed to really wake up and find out where he was and...another whimper, almost a sob this time, really, tore at his throat and though he fought it desperately, needed to be quiet, he couldn't help it and it escaped him before he could clap his hands to his mouth.

Wherever he was, he wanted to go home. No, not home. Aunt Petunia would freak out when he...

Another sob escaped his lips. He couldn't help it. He had dreamed strangely and he knew he wasn't quite awake yet and what made the purring noise in his room? He only saw strange lights on the ceiling and heard that purring noise and it smelled like – grass and wood.

Maybe he had been abducted by aliens. E.T. E.T. had abducted him. No. He had to wake up decently and it would not help to cry.

No, it would not help to cry at all. Not at all.

A fat tear was rolling down his cheek and another, and another and somehow, somehow that made Harry remember.

It hadn't been E.T. at all. 'fesser Snape. He cried harder when he realised where he was. He had been rescued and he was with his 'fesser Snape and he even was frightened there. He sobbed desperately now, unable to stop, frightened and ashamed.

xx

Severus listened. Something had woken him. A strange noise that he had not heard for – about 20 years. Well, or just after the exams before the summer holidays. But it couldn't be. The boy was happy, more or less, wasn't he? He couldn't possibly be sobbing. Could he? Why? Snape thought he liked the room and he had been happy and content before going to bed. He grumbled. This was clearly crying. What to do? What to do.

Before he could think about it decently (he had just been woken by a sob, he knew it), something had made him swing his legs out of his bed and before he knew what he was doing (or if he wanted to do it), he trudged out of his room, lit some lights in the living room and yawning and rubbing his face, he pushed the door open to the boy's room – not exactly sure why he should care. But then again, well, it was clear because there's be hell to pay if there was a distressed boy running around in the morning. So he would just put him to sleep. Though he did not know how. And of course did not know why.

Soft light fell into the child's room, the twinkling lights at the ceiling lighting stronger as well and even though Severus was tired and his eyes gritty and dry but he could make out the thin form of the boy huddled in a corner of the huge bed, his knees drawn tight to his chest, crying uncontrollably. Severus groaned quietly, his feet cold on the ground, and only when he stepped into the room, did the boy look up and pressed himself deeper into the corner.

He groaned – then sighed – then listened. There was a strange purring noise but since the boy still sobbed and cried, Severus paid no attention to the noise but moved slowly to the bed. He wasn't sure what he was doing but he knew that he could not leave the boy alone like this.

It hit him again that – well – another dark haired, skinny boy, huddled crying into a corner. Not in a comfortable bed like this but in a dingy room – and something constricted in his chest.

"Mr..." that would not help. "Harry." he said and tried not to sound like a teacher.

"'fesser Snape," the boy gasped and stared at him with wide, wet eyes and Severus felt himself tugged, somehow, to the bed and as soon as he only lowered himself to sit on the edge of the bed (doing what? He didn't know), the boy had lunged himself at him, crying into his t-shirt.

Somehow, though, and he didn't know why, his hands found the way to the crying boy's back and somehow, he didn't know how, he didn't know why, his hands started rubbing circles.

Maybe, Severus thought, he was dreaming. Or maybe, Severus thought, he just wasn't quite awake yet and that sleep-deprivation had made him do it.

xx