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 2: Crushed
The alarms in Dumbledore's office went off, blaring their alert throughout the whole school
In his lab, Severus looked up from the ingredients he had been meticulously preparing in annoyance, and moved to the fireplace to contact the headmaster.
However, Albus got to him first. He apparated, possible because of the weakness of the wards, into the middle of the room and began to speak urgently.
"Severus, there is an emergency at Harry Potter's house. One of the monitoring spells on him has just signalled that he is in great physical distress. It may be a false alarm, but I need you to go and find him, and bring him here. I will contact Poppy and have her here. I fear death eaters, Severus."
"But Albus if that is the case am I not the last person that should go. They will be looking for me in particular, I would have very little chance of sneaking in unnoticed."
"I cannot go myself, the wards are at a crucial stage, and at least you know something of their ways. There is no one else who can go! I know that he is still at the house, 4 Privet Drive, or the other alarms would have sounded. Please Severus, go to check on him and bring him back if he is hurt." The weariness mingled with concern in his voice was convincing.
Severus found himself agreeing automatically, and was almost angry with himself for it once Albus had left. If this was a false alarm he would not speak to the man for a month, and he would find a way to decimate the Gryffindor house points. Of course if it wasn't, if he actually rescued Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived, that might go a long way towards his redemption.
Casting a last, longing look at his potions experiment, he apparated out.
Severus appeared at the end of a long, darkened street and immediately hid behind the nearest hedge. Peering over the top, he could not immediately see any death eaters, and decided to do some further scouting. He transfigured his robes into muggle clothing to be more inconspicuous, though the death eaters despised muggles, they were far less likely to be suspicious of them than of a wizard.
Cautiously he skulked down the street, staying in the shadow. Nothing stirred. Counting down the doors, he arrived outside number four. The road in front of the house was blackened, with quite a large crater deforming it. It looked like the results of one of Neville Longbottom's potions experiments.
The windows of the house were dark. Still no movement. Concluding that it was unlikely death eaters were around any longer, Severus moved openly up to the house. One of the windows on the second floor was shattered, the curtains billowed through it gently.
Levitating up to the hole, Severus clambered through it as noiselessly as possible, and surveyed the room. There was no one there, not surprising seeing as the room was cold due to exposure to the night air. It was a very cluttered room, filled with toys and garbage. The room of a spoiled child. Must be Potter's he thought, before noticing that in all of the photos in the room, Harry was absent, they were of a hideously fat boy and his friends.
Then he saw the owl upon the floor. Potter's owl. Dead. He speculated that maybe she had tried to warn him of the attack and been killed, but as he bent to examine the bird he found that her neck had been snapped. Someone from inside the house had killed her! Did that mean that death eaters had breached the wards? No, for Albus would have known. Who else would have done it, not the Potter boy, for he did not hate him so much to believe him of that. He was far to noble, and idealistic, and full of self righteousness.
There was a note on the floor. It mentioned a Christmas present. So the owl had been carrying a parcel, and was attacked or intercepted. Severus cursed, it didn't make sense.
He quietly opened the door to the hall and checked the next bedroom along. This one was bare, but in a bed slept the fat boy. Snape considered waking him to demand the whereabouts of Potter, but decided that it would be better for this visit to remain secret until he knew all of the circumstances.
The room after that was the adult's bedroom, Potter's aunt and uncle. The man was snoring loudly. They didn't look like they had been attacked, mused Severus. More pictures of the fat boy, simply disgusting.
That was all of the rooms on this floor. He thought that the boy had been captured for a moment before remembering Dumbledore said that he hadn't left the house.
He stood on the landing considering his next move, and rested his hand on the banister. It was wet. His heart began to pound. He brought his fingers up and smelled blood. Fresh blood. Icy fingers of fear spread throughout his body. The boy was hurt. He rushed down the stairs, some of them creaking ominously. Casting lumos, he squinted against the light at his surroundings. More blood on the floor. A broken lamp with more blood on it. Bloodied footsteps. And a trail of blood, as if a body was dragged, leading to a door. A cupboard under the stairs.
It was locked. Several huge padlocks and a chain decorated the door. How festive, he thought idly, all the Christmas spirit one needs combined with security. Hah!
"Alohamora." spoken softly. The door swung open, grudgingly. Inside, in a space not three feet by four, was huddled Harry Potter. He was not moving.
Severus reached in and lightly shook Harry's shoulder.
"Come on Potter, come on." The boy was unconscious, and showed no signs of waking.
He levered the boy out of the cupboard with more gentleness than he showed most people and gazed down upon him. Dressed in overlarge, baggy clothes with the sleeves and legs rolled up, Severus could see that Harry was brutally wounded. He laid a hand on the boy's check, expecting him to be cold, afraid that he was dead, but Harry was hot, too hot, and he breathed in pained gasps that made Snape's chest ache in sympathy. He gathered the small form up into his arms, holding him close, and straightened up.
Severus knew that he had to get the boy straight back to Hogwarts, and apparated away.
Snape laid the boy down on the nearest bed and, magnifying his voice, shouted out "Albus, Poppy, come to the infirmary."
They apparated in seconds later, Poppy gasping at the state Harry was in and Dumbledore shaking his head in dismay.
Pomfrey listed all of his injuries, they were more or less as Severus had surmised, and covered the whole of the boy's body.
"Severe bruising on seventy two percent of his body, blood loss from cuts all over, a broken arm, three broken ribs, a bad fever, a concussion." Pause then added, "Some of the wounds are older than others by several days, some of the bruises might be more than a week old."
She continued to examine him then said angrily "This boy is suffering from malnutrition, Albus, he hasn't been fed enough or at all in a long time."
The mediwitch cast a spell to remove Harry's shirt without moving him, for fear of his injuries, and Severus was startled to see how thin the boy was. With all of the bruising on top of that, the boy looked barely alive, practically a wraith.
While Albus talked with Madame Pomfrey, Severus just kept on staring at Harry's broken body. The boy had almost died. Potter had almost died. Earlier in the day he would have quite happily confirmed that a world without Potter in it could only be a better one, but now he began to feel that having him dead would not be the answer to Severus' problems, indeed would only worsen them.
And no one deserved to die like this. To suffer like this.
"We will just have to wait until he wakes up," said Dumbledore, rousing Snape from his thoughts. "Poppy thinks it may be some time before he does so." Albus looked down at the boy sorrowfully. "Will you stay with him Severus, he cannot be alone, and I must go to get the wards finished as quickly as possible. We have already done this wing, but until they are complete Harry is in danger."
Snape nodded, sighing. There went his Christmas, forced to look after a boy he despised during a holiday that he had hoped for once would be his own.
He drew up a chair next to the bed, made himself comfortable, and watched the boy broodingly, wand in hand, as Pomfrey scurried back and forth with potions and salves.