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 23: Living past Death
Harry woke and felt as though he couldn't possibly move again. Ever. All of his muscles were unresponsive. For a long while he drifted. Then his last vision came back to haunt him. Voldemort had died. He had seen Voldemort die, He had been Voldemort as he had died. And the pain had been excruciating.
It was so strange to think of his arch nemesis being dead. Ever since he had become aware of the existence of the wizarding world, he had been indoctrinated with the idea that since he had, for a reason which really had nothing to do with his own abilities, defeated Voldemort once, he was the one meant to do it again. Instead, it had been his blood in the forth year which had let Voldemort return.
And now Voldemort was dead. By someone else's wand.
So Harry wouldn't be expected to save anyone now. They would all leave him alone. Unless they were all disappointed that he hadn't been the one to do it. But he was just a boy! Just Harry! How could he have possibly defeated Voldemort?
Maybe Colin Creevy at least would finally stop following him around.
He persuaded his eyelids to open.
He stared at the ceiling for a long while. Then he rolled his head to one side. Professor Snape was sitting in a chair nearby, his head had lolled forward to rest on his chest. He was asleep. Harry had never seen Snape sleeping, he was the sort of person who never let down his guard in public, but now, when asleep, he seemed softer somehow.
He turned his head back to it's previous position and patterns of silver danced briefly before his eyes. Slyrissin hissed at him. At first he thought that it was just for dramatic effect, or punctuation, or something, but as she continued he realised that she was talking. And that he couldn't understand her.
A tear rolled down his cheek. He had lost her too then. With the death of Voldemort the link had been severed and he could no longer understand parseltongue. A wave of misery swept over him, was everything in his life tainted by Voldemort?
The hissing came back, louder. There was a rhythm to it, a certain cadence. He could almost anticipate the next word. There were distinct sounds, Harry just couldn't make them out. He concentrated. Sylrissin seemed to be repeating the same thing over and over. He tried saying the syllables. They sounded foreign. He tried again. Her hissing became exaggerated and slow. He tasted the words on his tongue. He drew them out.
The first thing he recognised her say was his name. It sounded so different in the snake-language. He was encouraged, and paid more attention. It almost made sense. He knew what she was trying to say, but found that the actual words escaped him. He knew that she was saying 'Harry, you can do this', but he knew that in his head rather than through his ears. The repetition began to annoy him, she was assuming it was easy, and her tone of voice was so patronising.
"I know I can do it!" he said in frustration. Then stopped in astonishment.
It had come out in parseltongue. Sylrissin looked at him in pride.
"I knew you could, you just needed to know it too. Now that the powers of darkness are not binding you and overriding your own, your latent talent has come through. But since you have never used it yourself before, just leeched off the dark man's, you had to adjust to the change in source."
"I thought that I'd lost it." Harry breathed.
"No, little man-snake. You will always have what is yours."
Harry hated cryptic commentary.
"Are you alright, little master?" she asked. She had never called him master before.
"Yes, thank you." He ached all over actually, and could still feel the residues of the pain of Voldemort dying flitting through his body. But it was fading. Slowly. It would be fine.
And Voldemort was dead.
He was still talking to Slyrissin when Snape woke. He saw the movement of black and shifted slightly so that the potion's master was within his field of view. Snape was watching him.
"Still talking, Harry?" Snape smiled.
Harry smiled back. Maybe the world wasn't such a bad place after all.
Snape got up and stretched to ease the muscles which must have become cramped during his time in that awkward position. Harry's smile widened into a grin to see his professor acting so relaxed.
Harry tried to move, to get up, but Snape was by his side in an instant.
"Stop right there young man." he said in a commanding tone. "You fainted yesterday, or don't you remember?"
"Voldemort died?" Harry asked timidly, suddenly afraid that it would be untrue.
"Yes." Snape confirmed. "Voldemort was killed." He reached out and stroked his hand over Harry's forehead, "And your scar is gone."
Harry reached up a hand and tentatively ran his fingers over his skin. There was nothing there. It was really gone. Voldemort was really gone.
"I saw it." he whispered. "I felt it." Harry shuddered, and when he looked up he could practically see the effort it was taking Snape not to ask him about it. It was still too near, and he did not feel ready to speak of it.
"Where is everyone?" was his next question. Or did they not wish to see him now that he was no longer important in the grand scheme of things?
Some of his insecurity must have come out in his voice, for Snape gave him a reassuring smile. "School has been suspended. The students have gone home to stay with their families," Harry had no family. Where would he be going? If the headmaster had not let him stay here at Christmas, then he probably would not now. "To celebrate, and to mourn. It was a hard battle." Harry looked up and Snape nodded in confirmation. "Yes, many were lost. The remaining death eaters are being rounded up even now, which is where the headmaster is."
What was going to happen to him? He couldn't go back to the Dursley's, they were in prison. Not that he'd want to. And who else would have him? Maybe he would stay at Hogwarts after all.
"Arrangements have been made for you to stay here."
Harry nodded his head distractedly. He would be staying in the Tower by himself then? That could get lonely. Though perhaps having only Sylrissin for company would be better than having to deal with the rest of the Gryffindors.
"So if you want to bring all of your belongings down and get settled in today, that's fine. I'm unsure of how long it will be until the school is reopened."
Harry had taken in only one thing from that whole speech. "Here?" he said, absolutely flabbergasted. "You want me to stay here? Why?"
Why would he want to have Harry around? Maybe the headmaster was forcing him to do so. Snape sighed. Harry definitely thought that his professor was being coerced into this now.
"I asked the headmaster if you could say here." Harry told himself firmly to shut his mouth, but apparently his body was out of his control. "I thought it would be a good idea if I kept an eye on you." So, Snape thought he would try to commit suicide again. And this whole caring attitude was engendered by the guilt of shouting at Harry right before he had cut himself. "And I've noticed that you've been showing a great deal of promise in potions recently, now that you're trying, and have had some expert tuition. I thought perhaps I could instruct you further, and help you develop your talent?"
Harry could do nothing but stare at him. Snape thought that he was showing promise? Snape thought that he had talent? This was all some sort of huge joke wasn't it?
"We will start with lessons later, but if you would bring down your things first, and place them in an organised fashion. I will not have you cluttering up my rooms."
"Ummm, sir? I don't really have anything. Dumbledore lent me an old robe of his, and I'm not sure where my wand is, but otherwise..."
Harry thought he saw a look of pity cross Snape's face. He felt a flash of anger. He hated it when people pitied him. He was about to turn away when Snape spoke. Harry certainly couldn't hear any pity in his voice, just practicality.
"Right, well I have your wand here, and you can wear one of the Slytherin spare robes for now. That will be easiest."
Harry nodded. He was just happy that he would finally be getting out of the hospital pyjamas. He seemed to have spent a disproportionate amount of his life in them. And wanted to stop doing so as soon as possible.
He got changed in the bathroom, and pondered over whether or not he could discreetly throw the pyjamas in the fire without Snape noticing. He went back out into the living room.
Snape looked up from his book. He seemed pleased. "Those hospital clothes were an eyesore."
Harry laughed. There was no edge to it, no hysteria, no hidden depression. He had, for those few seconds, forgotten all else in his amusement at finding that the potion's professor shared Harry's taste. And distaste. His sense of mischief uncurled from where it had been hidden.
"Can I burn them, sir?"
He saw a twinkle in Snape's eyes somewhat similar to the one which Dumbledore possessed. "Now, we couldn't do that, and besides, I'm certain that Madame Pomfrey would have placed a charm on them to stop patients relieving stress by incinerating their clothing."
Harry snorted. "I just know I'd feel better if I watched the damn things turn to ash." he muttered.
It was Snape who laughed this time.
As they went into the lab later, Snape said "You can carry on using the school supplies for now, as you have been doing, but if you're going to take this seriously then you will need to get your own ingredients. We could go to Diagon Alley in the next couple of days, and you can pick up anything else you need as well."
Harry opened his mouth to say that he wasn't allowed to, that the headmaster had informed him it wasn't safe for him to leave at all. And then it hit him. Voldemort was dead. He halted. His mind still couldn't quite wrap around the concept.
Noticing that Harry had stopped, Snape turned.
"Harry? Is something wrong?"
"Voldemort's dead." The words felt so impossible as he uttered them. "Voldemort's dead." It was true. His whole life would change.
Snape's eyes became kind. "I know." he murmured. He took Harry by the arm and steered him into the lab. Harry was all to happy to be distracted from his overwhelming thoughts.
Harry found the methodical chopping and stirring very calming. He thought that Snape watching his every move wasn't so off putting when he knew that the professor would not criticise his mistakes but explain them. His head cleared, and the lovely minty smell of the plant growth potion soothed his troubled mind.
"Why did you come down here the other night?"
The question surprised Harry, and he had to think for a moment. "I had a nightmare, and Professor Lupin died in it. I thought it was real until I was almost in the dungeons, then I realised I had run out of dreamless sleep potion. So I came to get some more. I was too afraid to go back to sleep. I didn't want to see anyone else die."
Snape took some of the potion in question out of the storage cupboard and placed it on the table. "It's just as well that you will no longer be having visions, as I was having little luck finding a counter agent."
No more visions! Harry hadn't even thought of that. He might actually be able to sleep at night now. He was almost used to waking up screaming. But it seemed that the vision of Voldemort's death would be the last. Which was good, he didn't think that he could handle anymore like that. He had actually been a part of Voldemort, had felt his hate. Had seen through his eyes. Had seen....
"Your brother in law, what did he look like." Harry spoke in a far away voice, as the memories flooded through him. "I think I saw him. I think I saw everything..."
Snape was staring at him, stunned.