Severus looked out over the Great Hall. It was just 3 days until the First Task of the Tri-Wizard Tournament, and he could see the 4 champions looking more nervous than before. He knew that all of them knew about the dragons and how the youngest was planning on handling the task.
His eyes fell once more to the smallest and youngest of the champions, Harry Potter, sitting surrounded by the few people in Gryffindor who believed him, Hermione Granger on his right with Neville Longbottom on her other side. Oliver Wood, his Quidditch captain on his left side with Oliver's girlfriend, Katie Bell, another team member next to him. Immediately across from Harry was one of the Weasley twins, his brother on his left and their best friend Lee Jordan across from Neville with the other two Quidditch girls, Angelina Johnson and Alicia Spinnet across from Katie and Oliver. Despite the clear attempts from the others to convince the boy to eat his breakfast, he was not doing so, merely fiddling around with his hot cereal with his spoon.
Two years ago, he would not have cared about the boy's lack of appetite. The hostility he felt for the boy's father and projected onto the boy himself made sure that it would not have happened. Nevertheless, he had protected the brat several times throughout the first two years he was here. Everything had changed at the end of second year when the boy had figured out what was in the Chamber of Secrets and had come to him for help, knowing he was a better candidate for help than Lockhart, the current Defense instructor. They had gotten separated during the fight and the child had nearly died after being bit by the Basilisk when killing it. The danger ended as the memory of Voldemort was destroyed, but they had been unable to save Ginny Weasley, nearly destroying Harry's friendship with her older brother and his best friend, Ronald Weasley, though the twins had grown closer to Harry, not blaming him for her death after seeing how it had effected the tiny 12-year-old.
The first couple days after, Harry didn't sleep at all, falling into hallucinations, consequently, in the middle of potions that had him screaming and struggling against Hermione Granger and, shockingly, Draco Malfoy as they held him down to keep him from injuring himself further. Severus had been shocked when, at the sound of his voice, the tiny boy had thrown himself at him, clinging to him tightly as his body was wracked with tremors and sobs until, less than 3 minutes in, he passed out with exhaustion. For some reason, until he left for the summer, Harry had not allowed any physical contact, except from Severus, whom he clung to like a terrified baby monkey.
He mentally shook himself out of his reverie and stood, heading towards the Gryffindor table. He placed a long fingered hand on top of the boy's messy head. "Come with me, Mr. Potter."
Harry stood and followed him out and down to the dungeons, into Severus's private quarters. He took a seat on the couch as the man called for breakfast services then sat beside him. Harry curled up against his side, cuddling close.
Severus indulged him in their morning ritual whenever they were together. The boy craved physical affection despite most people's avoidance of it with their parental figures as they got older. He pulled Harry even closer as he handed him a bowl of peaches and cottage cheese. "At least eat half, child," he pressed lightly, stroking the boy's hair as he ate in silence, Severus sipping at his coffee with his free hand.
About 5 minutes before class began, 20 minutes after they had entered the quarters, they made their way to the classroom. The students finished trickling in and class started. Against his wishes, Weasley had ended up sitting behind Harry.
The first half of class went smoothly for a Gryffindor/Slytherin potions class at least, until Harry's potion exploded, Weasley clearly having been the one to throw it in, judging by his outstretched arm and guilty expression. "Everyone out!" he ordered. "Thomas, take Weasley to your Head of House's office." Hermione, Draco, and Neville remained.
"Please, let us stay," Hermione asked softly.
He sighed but allowed it, distracted by the small teen as he began to shrink, turning younger as each second passed. "Miss Granger, go fetch Madame Pomfrey and your Head of House."
She nodded and dashed out.
"Mr. Malfoy, please go prepare my guest quarters."
He left as well.
"Mr. Longbottom, tell me everything you know of his home life."