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 20: Saviour
When Severus was jolted from his rest by red lines of agony streaking down his body, he was initially convinced that a curse had been placed upon him. When his heart rate calmed somewhat and he could focus he realised that the pain was not his but reflected. It was not coming from his mark, the pain from that had disappeared. It was coming from the link, the spell binding him and Harry was reacting to the boy's life being in grave danger.
He threw himself out of bed before he had even started thinking clearly. He ran out of the door and started up the corridor in the direction that the trace was leading him.
The adrenaline cleared his head. He suddenly remembered what had happened last night. How he had handled Harry. How the boy's eyes had gone dull and flat upon his rejection. Merlin. What had he done?
He ran faster.
He hadn't meant to be so harsh to Harry. But he hadn't been able to think, with the level of exhaustion and the enormous pain flooding his body. And the news that Albus had given him had put him in the foulest temper he'd had in years.
Draco Malfoy, deciding to betray his father, had informed Albus that not only were death eater numbers still on the rise, but that he had overheard that Voldemort was planning a large attack soon. On one of the few places left in the world that Snape cared about, where one of the few people in the world he could tolerate lived. And Albus had forbidden him to go and warn them, or help in the defence in any way. Because it was too dangerous for him.
He had felt useless and angry because of it. He had had a feeling that everyone around him would die and he would be left sitting at Hogwarts. Safe. Anyone he'd come across that night would have been on the receiving end of his tongue. Why did it have to be Harry? The one person he least wished to hurt, and the one who could least take the hurt he dished out.
The trace stopped in a bathroom on the third floor, rarely visited as it was quite far away from all of the classrooms.
As soon as he walked in he saw Harry lying in a heap on the floor and knew that his worst fears had been realised. But the link told him that Harry was alive.
He threw himself down on the floor next to the boy and turned him over.
There was so much blood.
This was all his fault.
He accioed some bandages and wrapped them round Harry's wrists to stop the bleeding. The boy had lost so much blood already. Then, his mind functioning on a level which completely excluded levitation spells, he picked the boy up in his arms, and sprinted to the infirmary.
He placed Harry on a bed and screamed for Pomfrey.
When she arrived, looking extremely dishevelled, she saw how Harry was injured and her hands flew to her mouth in distress.
She quickly assessed how much blood had been lost.
"I can save him. He'll be fine."
Severus could not stop a sigh of relief escaping him. As she got to work he called Albus through the fireplace and told him what had happened. As he waited for the headmaster to arrive, he returned to hover by Harry's bed. Pomfrey told him to get out of the way. He didn't hear her.
She worked round him.
Albus arrived, looking grim. "How did this happen?" he asked sadly. "How could I have overlooked this?"
"My fault." whispered Snape. As soon as the words were out they seemed even more real to him. He had done this. He had pushed the boy over the edge. Harry had needed him. And he had rebuffed him. He knew from his observations of the boy that he had nowhere else to turn.
"My fault." a little louder. This time Albus heard, and turned to him.
"Now, Severus, I doubt it was your fault. The boy must have been hiding the way he felt, none of us could have known."
Merlin, did the man have some kind of diagram showing him precisely where to hit to make Snape feel the most guilty.
"I knew. I knew everything. He was cutting himself." The headmaster turned to stare at him in surprise now. This was a time that Severus could not take pleasure in seeing Albus' usual calm demeanour undone. "I'd convinced him to stop. He would tell me everything. I was the only one he could talk to. From their behaviour yesterday, I think that he had fallen out with his friends. So he came to me last night. And I found him just after I left from talking with you."
Dumbledore closed his eyes in sudden understanding. He was clearly remembering the mood that Severus had been in at the time. Snape had actually sworn at the headmaster, and had smashed most of the objects in his room without unbreakable charms on them. Unfortunately, Harry did not have charms on him to stop his feelings from being smashed.
"I don't even remember most of it. I was too tired, and in some pain. I think I took points. I know I must have said something unforgivable. Probably several things. Merlin, I did this to him."
The headmaster looked like he was searching for something to say, he obviously didn't find anything.
Snape sat in the same chair that he had the last time Harry was in here. When Harry had been hurt by his relatives.
This time the boy's wounds were self inflicted. But the cause of them was Snape.
Madame Pomfrey turned to them.
"I've stabilised his condition. He shouldn't wake for at least another five hours or so, when his body will have recuperated somewhat."
Severus looked at the time. It was three in the morning.
"Someone will have to stay with him at all times. Call me if there is a change, but otherwise he shouldn't have any problems." The unspoken word 'physically' hung in the air.
"I'll stay." said Severus, in a tone which brooked no refusals. Albus looked at him sadly. Snape knew that the headmaster finally understood.
He relaxed in the chair as Albus and Pomfrey left and watched Harry's chest rise and fall.
He had abused Harry's trust. He had had such power over the boy, and look what the result had been. He was not meant for looking after people. Everyone he cared about got hurt.
He took hold of one of the fragile hands, and tried not to look at the wrist which was evidence of how desperate the boy had felt. How desperate Snape had made him feel.
He fell asleep, his fingers still over Harry's.
Severus woke up to the quiet noises that Madame Pomfrey made as she bustled around the ward. There were no other patients in at the moment, for which he was profoundly grateful.
He was just about to contact Albus to see if there was anyone else who could cover his classes when he realised that it was Sunday. Thank Merlin for Sundays. It was a measure of how much the boy affected him that he had forgotten the days of the week. He who was so precise in all things.
He was roused from his contemplation by Harry stirring. He quickly cast a spell to stop the boy from moving temporarily. He also cast one to stop Harry from hurting himself, that he had recently researched in the library. He had thought Harry was getting better. He had hoped that he wouldn't need it. But now the boy did, because of him.
He signalled to Pomfrey, and she came over.
Harry opened his eyes. He squinted against the light for a moment, then started to close them again.
The eyes opened again. They flickered round the room until they came to rest on Snape. They just stared at him. He saw Pomfrey open her mouth to speak out of the corner of his eye and held up his free hand to forestall her. He waited.
Emotions played across the boy's face. Severus could read him so easily. He saw the guilt, the shame, the anger, the helplessness, and the despair.
He knew even before Harry did what the boy's first words would be.
"Sorry." he mumbled, seemingly unaware that he had said the words out loud.
Snape knew exactly how he was feeling. He just knew. Had been there himself, and had treated others in the same situation as well. He knew that Harry was thinking about how he had managed to cause even more trouble. He was thinking how disappointed everyone would be in him. He was almost undoubtedly thinking about escaping at the earliest opportunity to try again.
A tear leaked from Severus' eye as he saw the wish for death in those beautiful green eyes, which used to hold such spirit. He had to talk to the boy. Had to somehow find the right things to say.
"Harry, it's alright. We're going to help you get better."
The eyes, now devoid of emotion, looked at him with scepticism.
Snape could hold Pomfrey off no longer and she came forward to fuss over the boy. Harry's eyes closed again.
Albus came to see Harry, he tried to talk to him. Severus almost laughed. If the boy hadn't confided in the headmaster before then he was far more unlikely to do so now.
Harry wouldn't speak.
The headmaster left.
Weasley and Granger came by. Severus wanted to throw them out. But he restrained himself. He thought Albus a fool for telling them though. This was not what Harry need. He was fairly sure that these two shared some of the responsibility for what Harry had done. They might even have been the reason that Harry was coming to talk to him in the first place.
They tried to talk to him. They apologised. Harry turned his head away. Snape barely managed not to sneer at them, but knew that getting angry could only hurt Harry. However, when he saw them becoming frustrated at Harry's lack of response, and knew that they might say things which could hurt the boy, he told them that their time was up.
For a second he thought he saw gratitude flash in Harry's eyes, but then they returned to their expressionless state.
Trying to deal with his own guilty conscience, Severus had not made much of a further attempt to speak to Harry, even though he knew that leaving the boy to stew in his own thoughts was a very bad idea.
Before he could pluck up his courage and start talking, Albus entered again.
With Remus Lupin behind him.
So the werewolf had come out of hiding. Risking his life to see the boy. It made Snape think more highly of him.
Seeing Lupin had a great deal of effect on Harry, more than the presence of anyone else had. The boy burst into tears.
Lupin tried to hug him, but Harry didn't respond, just lay there and cried. He would not speak. Lupin sat on the bed and held his hand. He talked to Harry about little inconsequential things, then asked safe questions about Harry's schoolwork. Then he mentioned Hedwig. The stupid idiot had obviously not been told. Harry turned away. Snape motioned for Lupin to leave.
Though actually, the wolf had reminded him of something. He went up to the Gryffindor Tower to pick up Harry's snake, for she had not been with him when he had found him. Maybe she could help Harry.
She was in the middle of the common room, on the rug in front of the fire, reared up and hissing. Various students were standing round the edge of the room, casting hexes at her. They bounced off. Severus wasn't surprised they hadn't called a professor. Gryffindors were notorious for putting courage before common sense. He picked the snake up.
She hissed. But not in an 'I'm going to bite you' way. More a 'finally, where the hell have you been' way.
He went back to the infirmary, ignoring questions about Harry's whereabouts.
When he got back there, Harry was gone.
Pomfrey walked in just after him. She stared in shock at the empty bed.
"But I only left him for a minute. He should have been to weak to move."
Severus thought to himself that the words 'should have' didn't apply to Harry. His spell on the boy to keep him from getting up had only held when he himself was present, and he had never imagined that Pomfrey would be so foolish as to leave Harry alone.
He swept out of the room in a hurry, Sylrissin providing unintelligible commentary from his pocket.
The link was becoming weaker. It seemed to be dissolving. It was pointing him in different directions at once. Snape didn't understand it. He passed Draco Malfoy. Then he backtracked, catching the boy by the arm.
"Where is Potter?"
Draco glared at him coldly.
"I don't know."
He was lying. Severus could tell he was lying. Sylrissin hissed.
He tried again. "Where is Harry?" He hadn't meant to say that name. His tongue was working against him.
Or not. Draco looked at him in new interest. "Why do you want to know?"
What the hell, go with the truth. He was in a hurry. And Draco's reactions so far had puzzled him.
"He's trying to kill himself."
Draco stared at him as though assessing the truth of this. Then he nodded, and pointed to a door off to one side of the corridor.
Snape entered. He knew immediately where he was. Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. She was huddled in a corner sulking. He checked all of the stalls. Empty. Where was Harry? He went over to the sinks, to check behind them. Then he saw the hole.
The Chamber of Secrets.
That would be why the link was going haywire.
He cast a spell to stop any students coming into the bathroom, then he entered.
Having crawled past piles of rubble, he entered a large chamber. Giant snake statues lined either side. The skeleton of a basilisk was draped over a platform at the front.
Which was where the now stable link was directing him.
Severus was terrified for Harry. His inner voice had gone entirely quiet. It had nothing to say that his conscious mind wasn't already thinking.
He ran to the front. He could not remember ever running so much in his life, not even as a death eater when trying to escape curses. The boy would be the death of him. As long as Harry didn't die he didn't care.
Harry was lying beside the skeleton. He seemed to have collapsed from exhaustion. He was holding something in his hand. As Snape neared and knelt beside him, he saw that it was a large tooth. Probably from the basilisk. Harry was scraping it back and forth across his arm, but it would not penetrate. Severus was hugely thankful that he had put the spell to protect against self harm on Harry. Undoubtedly the poison in the tooth was still potent, and would kill if the tooth broke the skin. At least the boy hadn't thought of trying to swallow any.
He took hold of Harry, who struggled feebly.
"Leave me alone." the boy shouted. Snape was glad that he had finally said something, even if it was in anger. Anger was good, better than despair.
"Why won't you leave me alone? Go away."
"Because I care Harry, I care."
The boy became even more infuriated. "You don't care. You don't." Severus knew that it would be hard for him to trust again. Harry was too afraid to have hope now because he had grown used to it being crushed every time he did.
Snape cradled the shivering body to his own as he stood. "I'm sorry Harry. I'm sorry." Words he had thought he would never speak to anybody, but this boy deserved more than to be neglected because of his pride. He had left it too long already.
He carried Harry back to his chambers, feeling that he would be more comfortable there than in the hospital wing, and more likely to talk, as he had before. He told Albus what had happened. The headmaster said nothing.