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Chapter Thirty-Two: Debates and Discipline

Meeting Severus' dark brown gaze, Harry exchange looks of uncertain incredulity with him before deciding to throw caution to the wind. He sat up and faced Severus' bunk from where he was still warmed by his covers. "Did you just have the strangest dream about a festival?"

Severus' eyes widened as he nodded. Both wizards looked at the tabletop where Harry's perfectly normal shaped wand rested. Smoothly reaching under his pillow, Severus produced his own for inspection, making a small gesture with it and producing a couple of green sparks. "It doesn't seem to have affected the wands. You dreamt of a competition?"

Harry nodded quickly to reassure and encourage Severus that he wasn't going insane. "And we found... Neville's parents. What are we going to do about that? Is there a way to free them?"

"Have we any idea how we found them in the first place? Where that festival was located and how to get there?" The words Severus spoke contained a pointed tone that Harry had learned often hid other emotions such as frustration or a sense of self-loathing. "If that place is indeed real and we went there again, do you think we would be so lucky as to run into another means of getting out of there again- along with the Longbottoms?"

Biting his lower lip, Harry lowered his eyes, feeling them tear up as they had done within the dream. "Whatever are we going to tell Neville?" he whispered.

Moments passed as Severus pressed his lips together and scowled. "Do you imagine the boy would take such words easily- especially if I were present? He likely either wouldn't believe you, or would be desperate to fetch back his parents and tormented at the lack of possibilities of doing so."

"Possibly," Harry replied, still upset, "But we can't keep it from him. His mother's request..." When Severus seemed about to counter Harry's words again he held up a hand. "If she and Neville's father are doomed to stay as they are, we have to follow her last request- to let Neville know how much they love him, and to watch over him."

Severus grimaced, but the expression didn't seem to be one of disgust; more of one when faced with a very difficult task. Shaking his head, he murmured, "Before he is told, there must be confirmation that this place is indeed real and not just a product of whatever linked dream we both had."

"Great," Harry replied determinedly. "If we figure out that it's real, we'll give Neville all of the information we've found as well. Maybe he can use it in his own research for something to help his parents."

Harry's statement was met by a glare. "I don't like the idea of setting Mr. Longbottom on a path that may lead him into great danger. It is likely he would be overeager to find and speak to them, either not considering the consequences of finding a way back or going even despite that as Gryffindors are sometimes prone to do."

"It's his choice to make," Harry insisted. "If it were me, I would want to know about my parents. I /do/ want to know all I can about my parents," Harry added, suddenly searching Severus' eyes.

Turning away from the inquisitive gaze and quickly returning to the previous subject in order to avoid the one of Harry's parents, Severus frowned. "Yes the choice will be his- when he is of age. In the meantime any choice he makes will likely be made with a lack of consideration. He is under the guardianship of his grandmother, and of the faculty when he attends the school. This /does/ imply that he will not be handed the tools of his destruction while under our watch," he added with a touch of sarcasm.

Thoughts came and went at a furious rate for Harry; perhaps doing all of the research and giving Neville the lot as a birthday present when he came of age would work? Would Neville be furious? Could they perhaps tell Neville's grandmother and she could take action? She sounded formidable from Neville's descriptions. Did this mean that information was being kept from Harry about his own parents until he came of age?

Harry was about to open his mouth to ask the last question when Madame Pomfrey briskly entered the room. "Time for you two to get up and get ready to spend some time in the main room outside the wards. Minerva is going to visit for a while," she smiled at Severus.

"Joy," Severus replied dryly as he got up. "As I can get ready without assistance I'll shower first; you won't be using the washroom outside this time, Mr. Potter." Surprisingly the formality of the name 'Mr. Potter' didn't sound so harsh as the times in previous years when Severus was 'Professor Snape'... instead it was another feeling of reassurance. By the time Harry had ventured off his bed to collect his clothes from Madam Pomfrey, Severus had done the same and swept into the bathroom, the door clicking shut behind him. While he heard the sounds of the shower running, Harry realized that he had rarely seen Severus and Professor McGonnagall together outside their Professorial duties and sitting at the Head Table. He passed the short time it took by wondering how well the two Heads of House got along. Harry still hadn't come up with a definite opinion by the time Severus finished and emerged from the washroom dressed in his customary black robes, so he grabbed up his own towel and went to bury himself in the fall of warm water for a while, even if it could only be a short one.

Emerging afterwards, feeling somewhat refreshed if still intensely curious, Harry was ready and willing to watch the two like a hawk. Or a Gryffindor lion, Harry smirked to himself.

"Something amusing?" Severus questioned from the window where he had been attempting meditation while gazing out at the Hogwarts grounds, instead feeling a restless impatience for Harry to finish so they could see just how powerful their mutual protections were. Harry was smirking faintly and his aura was practically lit from within with that mild amusement and a much stronger curiosity.

Harry grimaced to get the smile off of his face before making an attempt at controlling the amusement that still shone in the colors that surrounded him. "No, sir," he replied with a serious tone of voice more akin to the ones he'd used when Severus had been leaning over one of Harry's many spectacular potions failures in the classroom. Interesting that. A veritable imp.

"You do realize that at this point in time it is fruitless to make the pretense of being serious when you are not," Severus ground out in something approaching classroom tones of his own.

Pausing in thought briefly, Harry questioned with a grin, "Erm. Call it just trying to be polite, then?"

"If you must," Severus sighed as he shook his head and started to turn towards the door. "Let us proceed then."

"Yes, please do," came Minerva's Scottish burr from the door to the main Hospital ward. Her own voice contained warm overtones of amusement as she opened the door wider in preparation to let the two wizards emerge from the isolation ward. "You're looking much better Severus, Harry." As they approached her, she grew much more serious and stern; her customary expression. "Albus has kept me informed of all that has come to pass. Perhaps this first time that you come out, you should keep in contact."

Severus grimaced but internally agreed with the idea, so he reached out and settled one hand firmly upon Harry's shoulder who looked up at him, startled as though for a moment he had heard the inevitable knell of doom. Pleased that his long years of work on his manner and reputation hadn't been completely lost to Harry despite the influence of the new powers, Severus carefully guided Harry past Minerva and out into the main ward.


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