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Common Interests by Snapegirl
Chapter 36 : In the Wee Small Hours
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 3


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36

In the Wee Small Hours

Three days later, despite a somewhat lapsed memory and general exhaustion, Albus re-opened the school. He did not want to delay the students' return anymore than necessary, and risk them forgetting most of what they had learnt; he also didn't like to admit he wasn't back to his old self. Poppy had warned him about overstressing himself, but he cheerfully ignored her warning. He would rest on the summer holiday, and though his lapses of memory were distressing, he made sure one of his house elves was on hand to remind him of important meetings and dates, such as with the Minister and the Board of Governors. That way his condition would go unnoticed.

Or so it seemed.

In reality, Poppy and Severus had a conspiracy going to make sure Albus recovered, and they informed Minerva, Pomona, and Filius the first day back in an impromptu staff meeting what had happened to the Headmaster. Minerva ordered Winken, Albus' house elf, to give her a copy of his schedule, which the elf happily did, since she was his Deputy. Minerva made a few changes to it, shortening the meeting times and scheduling more breaks for her now aged employer, then she sent it off to the Ministry. She then threw out the original and replaced it with the adjusted copy.

Severus stole Dumbledore's dish of lemon drops, while the Headmaster was in a luncheon with Fudge, and sprinkled a Memory Clarifying Potion on them, coating them thoroughly. He knew the taste might be altered, but better that than a befuddled Headmaster. He then sneakily replaced them. To his surprise, Dumbledore remarked at dinner that night that his sweets must have been improved on since the last batch, because they tasted so much better.

Pomona sent Albus a lavender plant to keep in his office, as the scent of it relaxed and soothed and encouraged one to sleep with good dreams. One of the side effects of being drained almost to death was insomnia and nightmares.

Filius gave him a charmed clock which would remind him of certain events ahead of time, so he was never late for meetings and so forth.

Poppy made up several batches of Nutrient Energy drafts and mixed them into a sugar-free soft drink which she gave him at dinner rather than his usual pumpkin juice, in a sly attempt to get him to take better care of his health.

Harry was glad to have his friends back and had already made a decision to downplay his role in the defeat of Voldemort as much as possible, he was tired of being famous, let the adults take most of the credit this time. But he had forgotten to inform Ron of that little detail, with the end result that within a day of returning most of the school knew he had done something to help destroy the revenant and save his professors' lives.

"Why did you have to tell everyone?" he snapped at Ron over breakfast the next day. "You could have just kept your mouth shut, Ron! I don't want to be in the bloody papers again!"

"Hey, mate, how was I supposed to know you didn't want people to know?" Ron replied.

"By using your bloody brain!" Harry growled. He was so upset he didn't even finish breakfast, just stormed out of the hall and down to the dungeons. His first period class was potions that day and he figured no one would be in the classroom yet, giving him some time to calm down. He threw open the door so hard it banged against the wall, bringing Severus from his office.

"Is there a reason you're slamming my classroom door, Mr. Potter?" he demanded icily.

"Ron's an idiot," Harry replied angrily.

Severus arched an eyebrow. "While that may be true, that's no excuse for indulging yourself in a temper tantrum and breaking my door down." He crossed his arms over his chest.

"Would you rather I broke his head?" asked Harry testily.

"I would rather you sit down and think about acting more like the smart boy you are than a spoiled child," said his guardian sharply.

Harry flushed and slumped into his seat. "Sorry. It's just . . . sometimes he makes me so mad I want to smack him upside the head and knock some sense into him."

"His mother already tried that," Severus remarked dryly. "It didn't take too well."

Harry's mouth twitched slightly in a half-smile. "Tell me about it."

Severus came and half-sat on a corner of his desk, eyeing Harry. "What did Ronald do to make you angry?"

"He told everyone how I helped destroy the Voldemort revenant. I didn't want anyone to know about it because I'm tired of being the hero of the wizarding world. But now it's too late because he told Dean and Seamus and now my whole house knows and soon the whole school will know because they'll brag about it."

"Harry, you wouldn't have been able to keep it a secret for too much longer. The other Weasleys knew about it also, as does the Headmaster, and Albus would see no reason not to tell everyone about another victory over the Dark Lord thanks to you."

"But it wasn't just me. You and Lena helped fight it too," Harry objected.

"True, but it was your magic that finished it off," Severus pointed out. "In any case, the cat's out of the bag, so you might as well stop stamping about and glowering, it won't help anything."

"Is that what you tell yourself when you're in a mood?"

"Don't get cheeky with me, brat," Severus warned, giving his son a quick smack to the back of his head.

"Ow!" Harry rubbed the back of his head. "It was just an observation."

"Right," Severus snorted. "Don't try and play innocent with me, Harry James. I have Skull for a familiar, remember?"

Harry sulked a bit, until Severus handed him a pile of second-year homework and told him to sort it into House groups, making it easier to grade. By the time he was done, it was almost time for class and Harry's temper had simmered down a bit, enough so he wouldn't pick a fight with Ron during class.

Mindful of the tension between the two, Snape partnered Harry with Draco that period and Ron with Hermione, so there were no mishaps.

Harry grudgingly admitted Severus was right and forgave his blabbermouth friend. He went to bed that night in Gryffindor Tower, and had a strange dream where he was walking on air and splashing in the gutters on the roof of the Astronomy Tower. It was such an odd dream that he actually remembered it. But when he went to get changed and put on his trainers, he found the bottom cuffs of his pajamas all wet and muddy and no idea how they'd gotten that way.

Page~*~*~*~*~Break

The next night, after studying with Hermione and Neville for his Herbology final, Harry fell asleep as soon as he lay down on his bed. he was tired from his day of classes and also scrubbing the boys' loo in the dungeon, as per his punishment. Severus had him cleaning every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.

At around three AM, Ron was woken up by a sudden draft blowing on him, since his bed was closest to the window. He hadn't closed his bed hangings, because it had been stuffy inside the dorm room; now it was freezing and he heard an odd thump, as if something had fallen. He sat up and wondered who had left the window open, but then he saw what he thought was Harry climbing into the window.

Shaking his head to clear it, he forced himself out of bed and ran to the window to shut it. When he looked around again, he saw that all his dorm mates, including Harry, were sound asleep.

Must have been dreaming, he thought, yawning hugely. What in Merlin's name would Harry be doing climbing in and out of windows in the middle of the night? He jumped back in bed, tugged the hangings closed, snuggled under the covers and fell back to sleep.

Page~*~*~*~*~Break

Two nights later, Harry dreamed he was climbing a tree, specifically a tall oak tree that grew near the base of Gryffindor Tower, it was very old and nearly a hundred feet tall, its branches nearly touched the arch that spanned Gryffindor Tower and the castle. He didn't know why he was climbing it, but he knew he couldn't stop, or else the unnamed faceless monster that was after him would get him. So he kept climbing and climbing, scraping his hands bloody on the rough bark, until he could go no further, and clutched the branches for dear life, twigs and leaves tangling in his hair . . .

He woke with a gasp, his heart pounding as if he had run up all seven flights of stairs. He slipped out of bed and went to the bathroom, his bladder urgently telling him it needed the toilet now. Once he had relieved himself, he went to wash his hands, and discovered his palms were covered in scratches, they stung when he washed with soap.

Harry stared down at them, letting the water run over them, ignoring the stinging. My hands . . . they're all scratched up, like in my dream. He couldn't understand it. He gently dried them and smoothed on some Quick Healing Salve from the medicine cabinet. As he did that, he noticed something was caught in his hair. Reaching up, he picked out several small twigs and leaves, like those from an oak tree.

Leaves in my hair too. What's going on? It unnerved him so much that he decided to pretend nothing had happened. After all, who ever heard of something in a dream occurring in real life? It had to be a coincidence. Maybe he had scratched himself in his sleep? He had heard of people doing that in their sleep. As for the twigs and leaves, maybe that had been a practical joke from the twins? They always teased him about his hair looking like a bird's nest. Yes, that was it. A stupid joke.

Heaving a sigh, he padded back to his bed and slept soundly until Ron shook his shoulder for breakfast.

Page~*~*~*~*~Break

Snape's office

The same morning:

Severus rubbed his eyes, which stung and ached, he turned and took a small vial from his personal potions cabinet behind him and shook it twice. Then he opened a small drawer in his desk and pulled a medicine dropper out of his first aid kit. Sometimes potions fumes could affect a student's eyes, and he always kept some of his Eye Clearing Draft on hand just in case. He filled the dropper and placed two drops of the soothing potion in each eye. The stinging and burning vanished on contact. He blinked in relief, though he knew that was only a temporary solution. He was overtired, and plagued by insomnia, he had been ever since the battle with the revenant.

"Something wrong with your peepers, Sev?" Skull asked, eyeing his master worriedly.

"I'm fine now. Lack of sleep and too many hours grading homework," replied the Potions Master.

"Ah. Dreamless Sleep for you tonight, Snape," the raven squawked, sounding rather like Molly Weasley.

Severus rolled his eyes. "Yes, Mother," he mocked softly. "As if I needed you to tell me that."

His insomnia was taking its toll, he had to resort to a Stimulant Draft once a day to keep awake through the afternoon, and he hated taking those, as they made him extremely jittery and hyper. But they also kept him from dozing off during class and so he decided it was the lesser of two evils.

He walked into dungeon #2 and magically wrote the ingredients for the potion his fifth year class would be brewing on the board. It was not a particularly hard potion, if they concentrated, it could be brewed in under an hour and a half. He placed the stack of homework on his desk to one side and started reading the essays he'd assigned his first years on the properties and usage of snake fangs in potions.

Lately he was feeling very rundown and exhausted. He resolved to go to bed earlier, an extra hour of sleep might make all the difference.

Page~*~*~*~Break

That night, Harry met Draco, Neville, Ron, and Hermione in the library to study Defense. Since Quirrell's demise, each of the professors were filling for him, taking a week at a time. This week it had been Flitwick's turn, and he had them doing mock duels and studying various countercharms.

"How come we're not meeting in Snape's quarters?" asked Ron.

"He wanted to go to sleep early," Harry told him. "Told me to come study here."

"What should we focus on first?" Draco asked, pulling out his notes. "Dueling or countercharms?"

"Let's do the countercharms. If we try to duel each other in here, Madam Pince or Lena will throw us out on our ears," Hermione said sensibly.

They all opened their texts to the chapter on countercharms and began to study. Then they quizzed each other.

Madam Pince came by, making sure they were studying and not doing something else, like snogging or drawing naughty pictures on the margins of the library books. "Studying hard, children?" she asked softly.

"Yes, ma'am," Harry replied. "We're studying for our DADA final."

"That's good. Defense was never my specialty." She peered at their notes. "Filius's teaching this week?"

"Yes. He had us dueling and learning countercharms."

"Typical, since he's also a dueling master."

"Madam Pince, where's Lena?" Harry asked then. "Is she off tonight?"

"Yes, she is resting. She asked for all day shifts, as she is trying to get extra sleep. Ever since the battle, she feels tired and tends to sleep more."

"Oh. Sounds like Uncle Sev. He's tired too."

"I'm not surprised. He teaches one of the toughest subjects in the school, and he's a workaholic. Well, carry on then, and remember, the library closes at nine thirty." She swept past them, her heels tapping on the carpet.

Page~*~*~*~*~Break

Gryffindor Tower

3AM:

Ron woke to the sound of the window being opened. The sound was unmistakable, since the window hinge was rusted and squeaked. He quickly lit up his wand and jumped out of bed, wanting to see who was opening the window at this time of night. To his surprise, he saw Harry silhouetted in the moonlight, standing and staring out the window.

"Psst! Harry! What's wrong, can't sleep?" Ron hissed.

To his surprise, Harry ignored him.

As Ron watched, mouth gaping, Harry threw a leg over the sill and stepped out upon the narrow ledge that ran around the tower.

"Harry!" he gasped. "What're you doing?!"

The ledge was a mere three to four feet wide and one misstep and Harry would be a splotch on the ground.

Ron ran to the window and looked out. Harry was walking calmly upon the ledge as if it were the path down to the greenhouse, not even concerned with how high up he was. Ron was horrified. "Harry! Get back in here before you fall. You wanna kill yourself?"

But Harry didn't hear him. He continued walking until he reached the end of the ledge that ran across the tower, made a sharp right and continued walking across the archway. When he reached the huge old oak, he began to climb down it.

Ron caught a glimpse of his friend's face in the moonlight. It was pale and his eyes were open, but they looked right through Ron like he was a ghost. Frightened, Ron turned and woke Neville.

"Huh?" Neville groaned sleepily as Ron shone his wand in his face. "Is it morning yet, Ron?"

"Uh, yeah, but really early. Get up, you have to see this!"

"Can't it wait? I'm really tired."

"No, now come on!" Ron half-dragged Neville from the bed. "You got to see this. It's Harry."

"Is he sick?"

"No, he's sleepwalking." Ron pulled Neville over to the window. "He just climbed out the window and walked across the ledge and climbed down the tree!"

Neville's eyes widened. "Why?"

"I dunno."

Together the two friends watched as Harry reached the ground and began running across the lawn in the moonlight.

"Where's he going?" whispered Neville.

Ron shrugged, he had no clue.

About five minutes later, Harry returned, and they watched, frozen, as he made his way back up the tree and walked across the ledge.

Ron and Neville stepped back from the window, giving Harry room to climb back in the window.

As they did so, they noticed Harry's feet were wet with dew and grass stains and his hands were slightly dirty, as if he'd been digging in the dirt. But he looked right through them with that same blank stare.

"Harry, wake up!" Ron went to shake him, but Neville stopped him.

"Don't! You're not supposed to wake a sleepwalker."

"Why not?"

"I don't know. It's what my gran always said."

They watched as Harry made his way back to his bed, climbed in and went to sleep. When they tiptoed over, he was snoring slightly.

"Merlin's pants!" Ron exclaimed. "That was the weirdest thing I ever saw. But at least he's back in bed now." He shuddered to think of what might have happened if Harry had slipped. He went to shut the window.

But it was a long time before he fell asleep.

Page~*~*~*~Break

Once again, Harry woke up slightly muzzy headed and with grass stains on his feet and his palms dirty. He couldn't remember anything about last night, certainly not running outside in his bare feet through the grass. He began to grow alarmed and wondered if he should tell someone, like Snape, about these strange happenings. They made no sense, though. And Harry didn't want to be a worry wart. It wasn't like these events were life threatening, just odd. He washed his feet and hands off in the loo and dressed.

When he came down to breakfast, he noticed Ron and Neville eying him strangely. He looked back at them and asked, "Why are you staring at me like that, guys? Is my tie backwards? My robe inside out?"

"N-No, Harry, it's not that," Neville stammered awkwardly.

"Then what is it?"

"It's . . . we'll tell you later," Ron said, not wanting to discuss something so private in front of everyone in their House and risk Harry's wrath again.

Harry slid onto the bench next to Ron and began eating. Once he was finished, Ron and Neville dragged him out of the hall and into the unused classroom beside it. "All right. Now tell me what's wrong."

"Last night I woke up and saw you standing at the open window in our dorm . . ." Ron began. He told Harry everything he and Neville had witnessed.

"I . . . sleepwalk?" Harry repeated. "But I've never done that before. Was this . . . the only time you saw me?"

Ron hesitated. He recalled the other night, when he had woken up to find the window open. "Well, there was one other time . . . I thought I saw you climbing back in the window, but I could have been dreaming."

"It was really creepy, Harry," Neville put in. "You just walked out on the ledge like it was nothing."

"And climbed down the oak tree."

Harry shook his head. That would explain his scratched hands and the twigs in his hair. Also the grass stains. "I don't understand why this is happening."

"Maybe you should see Madam Pomfrey. Or Professor Snape," Neville suggested.

"No! I can't . . . they'll think I'm a headcase. Maybe it'll stop now that I know I'm doing it." Harry said. "Don't tell anyone, please!"

"But Harry, you could kill yourself accidentally!" Ron whispered.

Harry sighed. "All right. If it happens again, you can tell McGonagall. But not before. Got me?"

Slowly the two boys nodded.

Harry brushed his hair back from his face and said, "Let's get to class." As they walked, Harry prayed the sleepwalking would stop. He didn't want to be labeled a disturbed child on top of everything else.

Page~*~*~*~*~Break

Two days went by and Harry thought he had conquered his sleepwalking tendency. Until the third night. The clock in the Entrance Hall chimed two AM, and like clockwork, Harry rose from his bed and went to the window.

This night it was Neville's turn on Harry watch, and as soon as he saw Harry rise and go for the casement, Neville popped out of bed and went running out of his dorm and down the side passage to McGonagall's quarters.

The Head of Gryffindor had handled many things in her time, but never had she dealt with a child who sleepwalked on a ledge over fifty feet above the ground. She ordered Neville to keep watch, then went back and Flooed Severus, who happened to be awake due to another bout of insomnia.

Severus had to stop taking the Dreamless Sleep, because too much would addict you, thus he was still awake in the wee small hours of the morning.

"Severus! You need to come quickly to the tower. Harry needs you." Minerva firecalled him.

"What's happened?"

"It's better if you see for yourself."

Severus threw down Floo Powder and stepped through into McGonagall's quarters. "Where is he?"

"In the first year dormitory, but try and be quiet, the others are sleeping."

Severus ground his teeth together, not caring about waking the others when his son was in trouble.

But when he entered the first year dorm, he saw nothing out of the ordinary save Longbottom standing at the casement, looking out the window. There was no sign of Harry. "Longbottom, why are you standing next to that window? You'll catch cold, now go back to bed. Where's Harry?"

"He's . . . out there, sir," Neville lifted a trembling finger and pointed.

"What do you mean, he's out there? It's the middle of the night. Don't be ridi—" he never finished his sentence because just then he caught sight of Harry dancing across the parapet and shinnying down the oak tree like a two-legged squirrel. "Dear God! Is he insane?"

"Sir, he's sleepwalking," Neville told him.

"Sleepwalking? When did this start?" Severus could still feel his heart racing even though Harry was now on the ground.

"Uh . . well first I knew of it was three nights ago . . ."

While Severus listened to Neville, he summoned Skull through the bond and asked him to trail Harry and make sure he returned safely.

The familiar was only too happy to do so and followed the boy like a shadow from night's tomb, unseen and unheard.

The raven observed that Harry seemed to know exactly where he was going, he never hesitated, despite the darkness of the night and the fact that he was very nearly blind in the dark, even with his glasses. It was as if some sixth sense was guiding him. Skull felt an odd vibration from the boy, almost as if he were calling upon his Traveling skill.

The raven popped over into the Place Between Worlds and saw to his dismay that Harry's astral self was indeed guiding his sleeping body. He would have been astonished at the boy's aptitude, save for the fact that what Harry was doing was deadly dangerous. In his dream state, he could make sure no harm came to his body, but his spirit self was at risk for any predator—like a Spirit Devourer—who felt him and wanted to grab a quick bite. For all his nascent ability, Harry was still a neophyte Traveler, and vulnerable to the evil creatures that roamed the Gray Road.

"Bran-boy, go back!" the raven ordered sharply. "You're Dreaming, now go back. You shouldn't be roaming here on your own, fledgling, it's too dangerous. Go back, Harry! Go back!"

Spirit Harry glanced up at the raven. "Skull?"

"Yes, Harry. You need to go back into your body."

"My . . . my body? Where am I?"

"You are in the Place Between Worlds, in a dreaming state. You need to return to your body."

Harry glanced down, and saw himself glowing with energy and a silver cord stretching off into mist. Then at the same time, he saw his body, as if through a veil, walking the grounds. "I will, but . . . not yet . . ." He began to guide his sleeping body back the way it had come, as he had done for many nights.

Skull followed, using his own magical Sight to see what Harry was doing. Skull crossed over and appeared in midair just as Harry climbed back into the window and collapsed into Severus' arms.

Harry's eyes opened and he saw Severus' face, drawn tight with concern, and he gave a sort of half-smile. "Uncle Sev . . ." he whispered. Then he felt his stomach heave, as his astral self was disorientated, returning to his body too quickly. " . . .think I'm gonna be sick . . ."

McGonagall Transfigured a sock into a basin in the nick of time.

Severus held the boy over the basin while he vomited, emptying his stomach of everything he'd eaten that evening while studying.

Harry moaned softly, he hated being sick, and he was so embarrassed to be puking in front of Severus and Minerva like some baby, but he couldn't seem to stop. His nose burned and his mouth tasted like a rubbish bin, but every time he moved his head a little the vertigo returned and he threw up.

"Don't fight it, son," Severus murmured, rubbing the back of his neck. "That'll make it hurt more. Just let it come out."

"Hate this . . ." Harry groaned, his stomach spasming. "Dizzy . . ."

"Severus, what's wrong with him?" asked Minerva, alarmed. "Is it a virus? Something he ate?"

"Neither, Queen of Cats," Skull answered, perching on the sill. "He entered his body too quickly and his spirit is disorientated. He's dizzy and that's making him toss up his toenails."

"He was Traveling?" Severus whispered. "Are you certain?"

"'Course I am!" Skull hissed indignantly.

Harry continued to heave until there was nothing left for him to vomit. He shut his eyes. "Ugh! Water, please." He leaned his head back against Snape's chest. His throat was killing him and so was his stomach, from vomiting so hard.

"Relax, child," Severus's hand was soothing on his brow. "Minerva, do you have a Vertigo Reliever here? I seem to remember you used to get migraines."

"That I did, Severus. Let me fetch it."

"That and a Stomach Calming potion as well if you have one."

Minerva departed to get the potions, and it was then Harry said, "Don't know if I can keep them down."

"If you can't, I can give you an injection," Severus said matter-of-factly.

Harry gave a slight shake of his head. "No! I hate those shots, they hurt!"

"Would you prefer a minute of pain or puking your guts up all night?"

"I'll swallow them," Harry whimpered. He would force himself to, because he didn't want to be hurting any place else.

Severus guided Harry to his bed and sat him on it, letting him lean on his shoulder. He conjured a glass of water so Harry could rinse his mouth and sip it slowly.

Neville had retreated to his own bed, not wanting to see poor Harry so ill, and he huddled just behind the curtains, peering out to see Severus sitting on Harry's bed with him by the light of Snape's wand. Neeville smiled wistfully, wishing he had a father to hold him that way when he was sick. But he never had and there was no point in wishing for the moon. He didn't quite understand the whole conversation between the two teachers and Skull, but he knew Harry was in good hands with the professors, so he turned over and tried to get some sleep. Soon he was snoring.

McGonagall returned with the potions. Harry sipped the Stomach Calming one first. When it stayed down, he drank the Vertigo one slowly, alternating between them until both were empty.

"How do you feel, lad?" asked Minerva kindly.

"Better. I'm sorry . . ." Harry blushed.

"For what? You have no need to apologize," Minerva said. She banished the basin with a wave of her wand.

"Minerva, I think I'm going to take him down to my quarters for the rest of the night," Severus said firmly. "Given what just occurred . . ."

"You're his guardian, Severus, you do as you see fit. It's better if he's with you, there are no windows for him to climb out of," the Transfiguration professor agreed.

Severus looked down at the small dark head lolling on his shoulder. "Harry, can you walk? Or shall I carry you? I don't want to Floo with you, you might get dizzy again."

"Tired, Uncle Sev . . ."

"There's my answer," muttered the teacher, and he picked up Harry, who was very light for his age, even after eating regular meals, and exited the dormitory. "Good night, Minerva."

"Good night, Severus. Pleasant dreams, I hope."

Severus heaved a sigh and made his way down the stairs, Harry half-asleep in his arms.

He reached his quarters and put Harry in his bed. Harry woke sleepily. "Huh? Where . . .?"

"Hush. Go to sleep. You're safe in your room in the dungeons. Sleep, Harry. We'll discuss what happened in the morning."

Harry fell asleep then, worn out. Severus gazed at him, apprehension flitting across his features. "Why didn't he tell me, Skull?" he asked the raven. His tone was a mixture of hurt and exasperation.

"Perhaps he didn't know what was going on," the bird clicked his beak softly. "When I found him in the astral, he was disorientated. It was as if he didn't know where he was or how he got there."

"You mean, he Traveled subconsciously?"

"Yes, Sev."

"But I thought that couldn't happen."

"Usually it can't. But Harry has never been ordinary. I think his power is out of control. And unless he learns how to master it . . . he could die. He's lucky a Spirit Devourer didn't find him before I did."

"Is there a way to . . . shut down his power?"

"Not that I know of. Most Travelers have a mentor to teach them how to control their gift, but the talent is so rare now that I don't know if there are any left in Britain."

"I shall have to consult Lena and Irma tomorrow. Perhaps they would know."

"Yes. You ought to get some sleep, Sev. You're about done in."

"You're not my mother, Skullduggery. I don't need a nursemaid."

"No, you need a keeper," the raven shot back. "Otherwise you'll go till you collapse and you haven't regained your full strength back."

Severus said nothing, for Skull was dead on target. "All right, you black harbinger, I will rest if you will keep watch."

"Done, O Master of Subtlety!" Skull agreed. "Now off to bed with you, young man!"

"Skullduggery, don't make me get out the shears," growled his wizard. "My featherduster needs a few more plumes."

"You wouldn't dare! Then you'd have a bald familiar, like a chicken, and you'd be a laughingstock. Because who would be intimidated by a bald raven, eh?"

Severus yawned. "I was teasing, bird, don't get in a tizzy. Goodnight, Skull."

The raven nuzzled him, then began to croon "Rock-a-bye Baby" in a woman's gentle soprano while perched on the headboard.

Severus rubbed his eyes and just managed to undress and slip on a T-shirt over his boxers before falling on his bed. This time he had no trouble sleeping.

A/N: What can be done to help Harry? Any suggestions? How did you like the sleepwalking sequence? I had a cousin who did that, it was very unnerving.
 


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