Warnings: child abuse, depression, suicidal tendancies
Summary: Devoid of the will to live, Harry decides that it is simply time to end it all. Too bad for him that one of his professors had to come and screw it up.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters. I am simply borrowing them; therefore, do not sue me.
Chapter 14: The Couch
Whenever Snape saw Harry now the silver snake always accompanied him. Harry spent most of the day taking to it in parseltongue. Snape would often just sit and listen to the amazing sound of the language, though he always had his nose buried in a book so as not to be too obvious. The snake was becoming a great friend of the boy. It was exactly what Harry needed, Snape had decided. He actually seemed content when talking to Sylrissin, if not happy. Snape feared that happiness would not be a look seen on Harry's features for a long time to come.
With the melodious hissing as a background, Snape pondered over all that he had learned of Harry. Harry who felt the pain of others as they died in his dreams. Harry who felt guilty for every one of those deaths. Harry who was only fifteen yet had gone through so much.
Harry who should have been in Slytherin.
He had always thought that parseltongue was a trait which should never have showed in a Gryffindor. And now he knew. Harry was supposed to have been in Slytherin. Why then was he not? It was a question which could only be answered by applying to Harry personally, and he would not do that. Not only did he not wish to interrupt the boy's enjoyment of his new pet, but he also didn't wish to remind Harry of the other cruel words that the Sorting Hat had uttered. Harry had enough guilt.
So this is what it is like to be sensitive to the needs of others, he mused idly. This is how Albus feels, and why he acts the way he does. How long had it been since he had genuinely cared about the well-being of someone else? He did not need to care for Albus, as the headmaster took care of himself, but this boy, this vulnerable, defenceless boy, whom he had 'coaxed' into opening up to him and was now therefore dependant upon him for support and stability, he had at some point without realising it begun to care about what happened to Harry.
Harry took several naps during that day, making up for the previous sleepless nights. And Snape stayed nearby, and woke the boy up if he showed any signs of distress. The snake lying with him, curled around the Harry's wrist, seemed to help drive the nightmares away as well, and she always hissed him back to sleep. Snape wondered if snakes could sing lullabies.
Late in the afternoon, when Harry was awake and just gazing down at the dozing snake, who had been sated with a dish of warm milk, and Snape was sitting next to him reading, the boy started to talk to Snape. It made something in Snape's heart clench that the boy trusted him. That anyone trusted him. What a foolish thing to do. He was almost afraid of the amount of pleasure he derived from knowing that Harry did so, had proven last night in speaking of his true fears, and was proving now by speaking of his past. What was he to do with such trust? The very least he could do was listen.
"They never really hurt me before you know. Not like that. It was just... They weren't expecting to have to take me over Christmas. I mean, things weren't that great during the summer after the Weasley's made Dudley's tongue swell up. But this time. Well. Dudley wasn't any worse than usual. He would pick on me whenever he got the chance. He used to trip me up a lot, spill things all over the place so that I would have extra chores. Tell my uncle lies to get me into trouble."
Harry's voice faltered slightly, "Uncle Vernon. Well, he's always hated me. And I guess it was my fault for using magic in the first place. But he shouldn't have killed Hedwig. How could he? She never did anything. It's so unfair."
Severus watched as tears began to flow. He reached out, as he had once in the hospital wing, maybe that was when he started to care? He gently brushed the drops away.
"So they put me back in the cupboard. I guess it wasn't so bad. I was living in there for eleven years so I should have been used to it. But it made all of my fears worse somehow."
They kept the boy in a cupboard for eleven years? And he speaks of it so casually. What kind of monsters would do that to a child? The same kind that would beat a boy to within an inch of his life, and not care for him when he was sick, and starve him. He found himself growing angry at the Dursleys all over again, but made sure that his temper did not reach his eyes, for he knew that Harry would believe it to be directed at him and throw his walls up again. And it had taken such effort to break them down, even when they were already crumbling. Again he marvelled at his instinctive need to protect the boy.
"And then they couldn't feed me since there was no way of getting food in, not that they fed me before but I always stole something while I was cooking. Though sometimes I was caught. Which just meant more chores."
All of this on a person was more than enough, but then Harry had to carry the burden of Voldemort, knowing that he was very likely to die, and that the world expected him to save them. He was not surprised that Harry had cracked under the strain. Now he was just astonished that it hadn't occurred earlier. Harry must be strong indeed. But no one was that strong. Everyone needed someone to confide in, to rely on.
His inner voice questioned who he had. Albus. It saw that for the pathetic excuse it was. Albus was someone he could rely on yes, but he was not someone that he could truly confide in. For Albus would not understand Severus. Just as the Headmaster had not understood Harry.
Harry fell asleep, and Snape just sat there staring at the boy's features. Until his face was relaxed in sleep, it was not truly apparent how much his cares weighed on him.
The little silver head of the snake lifted to turn to him. She hissed in agreement, though Severus wasn't sure with what.
The next few days flew by. Snape started helping Harry with his potions practicals again. the boy did seem to have some talent after all. Although he could have sworn that the snake was giving the boy tips the whole way through. Maybe she was just commenting on the smell.
When Harry found something in one of his textbooks, no matter the subject, that he did not understand, he would ask Severus. And Severus would explain. As patiently as was possible for him. Which of course wasn't very, but when Harry started going into more depth on why it made no sense to him Snape found it much easier to help. He would have refused to help Harry directly with his homework, but the boy didn't ask, so, feeling magnanimous, he pointed the boy in the right direction when he was looking for answers in the wrong places.
Meals became less formal, usually consisting of junk food, which Snape confessed a hidden liking for, alternating with salad. And lots of cookies. The dining table was abandoned for the couch, as it was far more comfortable, and allowed them to keep on reading whilst eating. Harry was turning out to be quite a little bookworm. Meals were eaten with their fingers, and Snape took care to spell all of the texts against dirt and grease. Ever practical.
Snape was almost ....comfortable with Harry around.
Term started. Harry moved back to Gryffindor Tower. Hundreds of children flooded the corridors. Snape had to readjust to being glared at the whole time, naturally starting to glare back. The school was too noisy for him now.
In contrast, his chambers were too quiet. He had got used to Harry being there, the little noises he would make, the sound of his breathing, the sound of his snake hissing.
Now that Severus could stretch out on his couch again he found that he didn't enjoy having his space as much as he had thought he would.