Draco lounged against the wall outside the Great Hall. Managing to convey an air of disinterested boredom, despite the anger he felt bubbling within him. Severus exited the hall, accompanied by a chattering gaggle of Gryffindor's, and stopped in front of Draco. Snape raised an interrogative eyebrow before glancing over his shoulder at the waiting group.
"You go on," he told them, "I'm going to have a quick chat with my cousin."
"We'll wait for you Evan," said Harriet, a red tinge appearing on her cheeks. "You don't know the way to the tower yet, or the password to get in."
"Oh, of course." Severus said, "I won't be long." He turned back to Draco with a meaningful glare. "What did you want Draco?"
"I must confess, I'm disappointed." Draco sneered, with a glance over Snape's shoulder at the Gryffindor's. "I was expecting you to be in Slytherin, but I can see you are making new friends already."
"We will discuss this tomorrow, Draco." Snape hissed, conscious of the watchful eyes of the seventh years. "I can meet you before breakfast. I want to talk to the headmistress anyway."
"As long as it doesn't drag you away from your little fan club." Draco said, nodding at the group by the stairs.
"Get lost Malfoy!" Ron replied with a scowl.
"I wasn't talking to you Weasley." Draco retorted.
"Later Draco." Snape growled warningly. He rejoined the Gryffindor's and followed them up the stairs, leaving Draco to stare after them angrily. He couldn't afford to find out what had got Draco so riled up in such a public place, particularly not under the nosey gaze of Harriet and her friends. Who knew what Draco might let slip in a moment of hot-headedness. Tomorrow he would get to the bottom of Draco's bad temper and appeal to McGonagall to switch him to Slytherin house. For now he would have to make the best of a bad situation and at least pretend to settle in to Gryffindor Tower. If only he could deflect them from asking too many awkward questions for one night then he could get back to the comfort of the dungeons, before Draco said something stupid or he gave in to his urge to strangle Weasley.
Snape sat, rather awkwardly, on the edge of one of big comfy armchairs by the fire in Gryffindor common room. In the matching chair opposite Ron slouched, with Hermione gathered in his lap, while Neville and Ginny curled up at either end of an overstuffed sofa between the two. Harriet hovered uncertainly next to his chair before taking a seat between Neville and Ginny. Severus felt out of place in this room, years of Slytherin Gryffindor rivalry left him unable to shake the feeling of being an interloper. He was surprised to recognise that emotion in himself. He was used to being a spy, so why did it feel unnatural to him? Why did he care so much about what they thought about him? He could only put it down to teenage hormones, but he wasn't convinced.
"You can relax Evan." Neville told him, "You look so uncomfortable sitting like that."
"I'm fine." he ground out, but he sat back in the chair anyway and at least gave the illusion of relaxation.
"So where do you think Snape is 'recuperating'?" said Ron, making the inverted comma gesture around Hermione.
"Does it matter?" Harriet asked irritably, "After everything he went through to help us he deserves a rest."
"What if-" Ron began.
"Merlin's balls Ron!" Harriet shouted, leaping to her feet, "Can't you just shut up? He nearly died! Whatever else he was he was a hero all along. He deserves some respect."
"Idiot!" snarled Ginny as Harriet stormed from the room and up to the private bedroom she now occupied with Hermione.
As Hermione and Ginny left to check on her Ron shot Severus a bemused look. Snape was willing to bet that he was wearing a very similar expression. Miss Potter seemed to be extremely touchy this evening. He wondered why the conversation about him seemed to trigger an outburst. Perhaps she wasn't as untouched by the events of last year as he had assumed. Maybe she was less like James than he had thought.
Draco lay on his back scowling up at the green hangings around his bed. This was not what was supposed to happen. How could Snape be in Gryffindor? He was head of Slytherin for Merlin's sake! Right now he could be sitting with Potter and her friends laughing at Draco and telling them all Draco's secrets in an attempt to ingratiate himself in the group. Draco had seen Potter holding Severus's hand in the Great Hall with his own eyes. He sat up and viciously punched his pillow to relieve his frustration. Was he being ridiculous about this and reading too much into what he saw? Surely Severus wouldn't betray him like that? He was certainly going to keep a close watch on him until he was sure. If he could help convince McGonagall to move Severus back to Slytherin then his task would be easier.
The door to the bedroom he shared with Blaize creaked open. Draco kept silent hoping Zabini would think he was sleeping and leave him alone. There was a heavy silence of someone quietly listening and his bed hangings fluttered slightly as if someone was standing beyond them breathing. In a single swift movement Draco sat up and swung the drapes open. Standing there, looking smug, was Pansy Parkinson.
"What the hell Pansy?" Draco said, folding his arms and glaring at her.
"I thought you might like to talk." she said smoothly, sitting on his bed and stroking his shoulder. "You seem really upset about your cousin. Or is it something else? You know I'm a very good listener."
"I'm just tired." Draco sighed, knowing full well that Pansy's idea of listening would also involve gossiping about whatever she learned.
"I can cheer you up in other ways if you want Draco." she whispered, moving until her mouth was centimetres from his. "Just say the word..."
The door opened again and Blaize stood glaring at them.
"Not interrupting anything am I?" he said with a sneer.
"Of course not," Pansy said standing up and crossing to peck him on the cheek. "I was just seeing if Draco was alright." She winked at Draco and left the room.
Draco smiled weakly at Blaize, who glared back at him and flung himself into his bed waving his wand to close the curtains. Draco sighed and lay back in his own bed, dwelling on his thoughts again until he slipped into a fitful doze.
In Gryffindor tower, in the room he shared with Neville and Ron, Snape also lay awake. He lay on top of the blankets with only his pyjama bottoms on. The sound of the other two snoring softly kept him awake. He was too used to solitude and his own company. What he wanted the most right now was to be able to brew a potion and lose himself in the task. The simmer of the cauldron and the shimmering heat would soothe his mind. He sighed and rolled out of his bed. Treading with care he snuck out of the room and down the stairs to the empty common room. As he was about to round the last turn of the stairs he stopped dead. There was a noise from the common room.
Holding his breath he peered round the corner to see who it was. In the far corner of the room, on a sofa facing away from him, sat Harriet Potter. She was sobbing quietly. Snape felt awkward. Hearing Harriet cry like this felt like he was intruding on something intensely personal. Still he couldn't bring himself to turn and retreat up the stairs. Barely knowing what he was doing he glided across the room to where she sat. If she heard his approach she gave no indication, but neither did she startle when he laid a comforting hand on her shoulder. He sank into the seat next to her and she buried her face in his chest, tears dampening his bare skin. He wrapped his arms around her and rocked her gently as she cried, without them exchanging a single word, until she fell asleep. After covering her with a blanket her returned to his room. Sleep was a long time coming.