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 32: Reviving a Crushed Spirit
Severus was having a bad day. His classes had been horrendous, filled with noisy little brats that all seemed determined to make his life miserable. He had a headache which was making a valiant effort to hammer it's way out of his skull, and the potion he had taken for it wasn't providing much relief.
And Harry hadn't come round that evening. This meant there was no one to calm his tense frustration, no one to soothe his nerves as the boy seemed to do instinctively. No sound of laughter to drive away the buzzing which filled his head.
He stared into the fire, but that just made his eyes hurt as well. He was having a really bad day. He tried eating cookies, but found that apparently they did not have anywhere near as potent an effect when not shared with Harry. He still felt awful.
For lack of anything better to do, he went into his bedroom, where the light was gentler on his eyes since it was not reflecting off the silver floor. He distractedly poked at some of the things lying on his shelves, knowing that he really should organise them someday. After a few minutes he gained purpose, and began searching for a book he had mentioned to Harry. It had to be buried in there somewhere.
Bottles of potions. Notes. Books, some with so much dust covering them that Severus almost choked. He quickly cast a general cleaning spell before attempting to sort them. No, the one he was looking for wasn't there.
Next shelf then. All of the things found on the last one were here too. Plus a dead moth. Lovely. Severus put it to one side to take to the lab later. He could always use it's antennae in a potion.
Souvenirs, from his younger days. Letters. Cards.
A photograph album. He hadn't seen that in years. Hadn't even known it was there. He moved back to the bed, sat, then reverently opened it.
Faces stared up at him. Faces spanning the whole of his life. His parents, looking happy in this picture, though that hadn't lasted after they became divided over his sister.
His sister. She smiled up at him, looking so peaceful, so innocent, so young. She did not deserve what fate had dealt her, did not deserve to be born into such a family.
A picture of her and Simion, on their wedding day. He had his arms wrapped round her, and she would occasionally turn her head and gaze adoringly into his eyes. Both dead now. Severus had failed them both. They should be alive. He would have gladly traded their lives for his. What was his life worth anyway?
Malfoy. Looking smug and superior. Occasionally reaching out to hex Severus, who would playfully do so in return. They had been friends once. Had their differences, but stayed close for a long time. But then Severus had found out that Lucius had been one of the party sent to eliminate his sister. Lucius had had no choice. One did not disobey Voldemort. But still, Lucius had never apologised, though he knew what she had meant to Severus. Had merely said that she was weak and had to be punished. Severus hadn't been sure if he really knew Malfoy any more after that. Lucius seemed to have become the living embodiment of a death eater. But Severus was still just himself. And he had been scared.
He flipped back a few pages, found one of him leaving school. Shaking hands with Albus. The image of the headmaster looked up at him and winked, but he had not the heart to smile at it. Neither did his younger self, as he scowled and gave the impression of wishing to be a million miles away. No, he was not sure if he could forgive Albus, who had manipulated him to untold lengths. Who had caused him so much pain. Who had made him leave Simion to die.
He flicked through the rest of the book casually, seeing the faces of friends flash by. All dead. Or in Askaban. Which could be counted as dead.
Then he found a photo of himself, standing at a railing, staring out into the distance. His long black hair whipped around him in the wind, and tears could be seen running silently down his cheeks. He remembered that day. Oh, how he remembered. His own eyes started to water. Losing his lover to the aurors had been a hard blow. This picture showed the only time he had ever let himself mourn. But who had taken it? He did not recall having seen it before, and was certain he had not been watched. He would not have wanted a photo of this, it was too painful to see the raw grief etched onto his face. Something that he had never shown to anyone. A part of him that no one knew existed.
He looked up hastily. Harry! Harry standing in the doorway.
More than aware that tears were leaking from his eyes he cast the book to the side and stood, turning away from the boy and moving to one of the shelves to pretend to be busy whilst composing himself.
"This really isn't a good time. If you will excuse me."
His mind was swirling with all the pent up emotions which had recently been stirred, and he was definitely not ready to hold a civilised conversation. He wanted to yell at Harry to go away. But he couldn't. He mustn't. Taking in the quiet from behind him he turned, expecting to find an empty room.
But the boy was there. The boy was looking at the photo.
"No!" he roared, lunging forward and slamming the cover down.
A startled face looked up at him. "What's wrong? Severus?"
"Please, just leave now." he said, trying to contain himself.
"Severus, won't you tell me..."
"Leave!" he shouted, harsh and hard. He glared menacingly at the shocked boy, then turned back to the wall.
A slight sound of shuffling, then nothing. He leaned heavily against the wall. And panted as the force of his despair crashed over him. He had nobody. Everyone he loved was dead. Everyone except for Harry, his inner voice told him. And he had just driven the boy away again. He groaned in heartfelt pain.
Then he felt a hand come to rest hesitantly on his shoulder.
He turned his head slightly towards the source of the touch, and opened his eyes a fraction. Another stood there. Harry. Harry hadn't left. The boy did have some of his Gryffindor guts left after all then.
"Why are you here?"
Silence apart from his slightly ragged breathing for a moment.
"I came to see you. And I couldn't leave you. Not when I didn't know what was wrong."
The hand stayed on his shoulder. Severus drew strength from it. From Harry.
"What was wrong?" came the timid voice again.
Harry. Who would not leave him to suffer alone.
"Memories. Memories that haunt me."
The hand dropped as he turned to face the boy. He looked into the emerald eyes.
"Surely you can understand that?"
The boys' eyes dropped for a second, before locking back onto his. He saw that Harry did understand. Was possibly one of the only people who would.
A slight nod. Harry moved back to the bed, picked up the photo album. Severus had to consciously override his urge to protect his secrets. The boy began to flick through the pages.
He couldn't take it. He moved towards the bed. Harry looked up and gave him a challenging look. Of all the times for him to grow a backbone. He reached out towards the book, meeting Harry's eyes as he did so. The boy appeared to measure his intentions before handing it over.
Severus found the page he had been on before. He then gave it back to Harry. He tried to ignore the way that his hand was trembling, ever so slightly.
His gaze remained fixed on Harry's face as the boy stared down at the picture. Harry reached out with a finger and gently stroked it down the picture, as though trying to wipe the tears away.
That won't help, thought Severus. Those tears were engraved on his heart. A lot was imprinted on his heart. Which accounted for it's battered and now almost unreachable state. The fingers once again ran down the photo. Severus looked down.
The younger version of him in the picture was looking up. It hadn't done that before. Had been far too involved in it's own suffering. But now it was staring up at Harry, totally bewildered. Severus wondered if it could see the boy, if it was confused over someone trying to comfort it. Of if it was thinking something else entirely.
Harry looked up at him then. There was no pity in those eyes. Just a depth which spoke of a comprehension of loss. The boy carefully closed the book and lay it down.
"Do you want me to stay?"
Severus nodded mutely. He could do with some company. With Harry's company.
His headache still hadn't gone
They moved out into the living room. Severus noticed that Harry seemed unsure of how to act around him. Probably never expected to have to deal with a professor breaking down. Severus was glad that the boy had stayed to try though. Had known to ignore his wish to be alone. Had known what Severus needed better than he did himself.
"Do you want some cookies?" Harry asked.
He gave a half hearted attempt at a smile. The boy had taken his usual comfort line and turned it round on him.
"No, I already tried that."
He hadn't meant to say that. That made it sound like he'd been sitting around crying for hours. No, because how it actually was was so much better, said his little voice with scorn.
"Do you want to play chess?"
He had a feeling that the chess pieces would just depress him today. After all, the set had been a gift from Simion.
He just shook his head.
"Do you want to make a potion?"
This time the smile was genuine. The boy really did know him. And there was that rare moth he'd found.... But no. He didn't feel like doing anything.
He moved to the couch and sat back with a weary sigh. Harry came to sit beside him.
When he finally lifted his eyes from the fireplace he saw that Harry was unabashedly staring at him. The boy was obviously curious, but just as obviously afraid to push Severus. Who was thankful that Harry had learned when not to talk. That was as important a skill as knowing what to say, and when to say it.
"What did you want to talk to me about anyway?"
Harry blinked. Severus almost laughed. That the boy would be so amazed at the simple evidence that he could indeed talk.
"I just wanted to talk. No reason. Do I need one?"
"No, I just wondered if you were having trouble sleeping."
As Severus suspected that Harry did most nights Unsurprisingly. While they had managed to stop the majority of the boy's nightmares, the problem now was getting him to sleep in the first place.
"No." That earned Harry a sceptical look, one that said remember who you're talking to. "Well, maybe. Yes. I just wanted to talk for a while. Or not talk, since you don't want to. Sitting is good."
Harry realised a long time after Severus had that he was rambling. Sev could see the embarrassment flood over the boy's face, as he stumblingly ground to a halt.
He had to say, he was feeling better already.
"That's alright. It's good to have some company."
Harry looked relieved.
"So, tell me about your day." he said. If the boy wanted to talk. then he could do that.
"But.... I thought." Harry's stammering came to a halt. Severus raised his eyebrows. That seemed to do the trick. The rest of the sentence came out in a rush, "Don't you want to talk about what was wrong?"
"I told you, memories. That I don't want to talk about." he added sharply, anticipating what Harry would say. "Would you like me to remind you of all the bad things in your life?"
Understanding dawned. Along with determination. Severus could just smell it.
"But you made me talk about all of my bad memories. You said it would help. Wouldn't it help with you?"
"Thank you so much for the kind offer but Albus already dragged it out of me."
Inquisitive look. "I can't see you talking to him."
"I did say dragged didn't I? It wasn't pleasant. He believed that he was doing what was best. And it did help. But.... It was painful. It was what I tried to avoid with you. Tried to stop him doing to you."
Harry nodded. Please be sensitive enough to let this go now, Severus silently thought, I don't want to relive that.
"It's all in the past." he said, trying to tell the boy that talking about this topic was over
For a second he was sure that Harry was gazing right into his soul, then those piercing eyes flicked away and the boy provided some light relief to the conversation, updating him on the progress of the ongoing saga of Ron's hair. Apparently Granger had persuaded him to turn it back to green.
Now that was something that he could laugh about.