Warnings: child abuse, depression, sucidal 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 4: Perceiving flaws
Severus Snape resumed his seat by the bed after the boy had been once again claimed by sleep. His mind was trying to work it's way through the challenges which had been set before him in the past hour.
He watched Harry's breathing for several minutes, the slow rise and fall of his chest the only outward sign of life. The boy was rapidly becoming a puzzle to him, his behaviour had not fitted into the stereotype which Snape had believed of him.
The fact that panicking had been the boy's secondary reaction, delayed by several minutes, while the first was tears. Why did he cry? Was it self pity? Resignation to his fate? He had expected that the natural impulse of the boy would be to fight rather than accept. What had changed him, or had he been so passive all along? Where was that famous Gryffindor spirit which was guaranteed to get the Professor riled up.
Then there had been some things about the boy's story that bothered him. His logical mind could not make them fit. First the bomb. Harry said that he was wounded by it, but the blast mark was on the road. Had the boy been outside when it happened and lied about his whereabouts? It made no sense. Why would his relatives hide him but neglect to bandage his wounds? The boy could have bled to death. And they had all been sleeping peacefully, showing no sign of going for help. Where did the owl fit into it all?
He had been about to mention the discrepancies when something in the boy's eyes stopped him. He could have sworn that they were begging him to overlook the matter. So novel was the idea of a Potter ever begging that he had been distracted and not mentioned the matter. Now the boy was asleep and could not answer.
Pomfrey came bustling in, and checked Harry's progress.
"How is he doing?" asked Severus.
A raised eyebrow, "I'm somewhat surprised you care."
"I just want to know when I can leave," came the retort, "The sooner he is well the sooner I am free to go and enjoy what is left of the holiday."
"Fine. His fever has almost gone, his bones and cuts will be mended by tomorrow morning. The bruises I have a salve for but I cannot apply it until the cuts are gone. Even then it may take some time for them to heal. He will be sore for quite a while, I'm afraid."
Severus grunted out something sounding suspiciously like "Good."
Pomfrey rounded on him. "Which part of my analysis was that in reference to. I thought even you would not wish pain on another, not when he has done nothing to deserve it!"
Snape looked down and sighed, "I don't, it's just..." He realised he had been about to explain himself. He never explained himself. He was allowed to hold grudges. And he did have a reason for hating the Potter boy. He glowered at her until she turned away again.
He didn't wish pain on the boy, he continued thinking to himself, it's just that his thought was not for Potter's comfort but his own. All that he was thinking was that at least the boy wouldn't be troubling him for a while, or getting into mischief to disrupt the place. He was just thinking that it would be more peaceful. Though he supposed, come to think of it, that he wasn't entirely unhappy that Potter would be in some pain. Serves the brat right for getting hurt in the first place. And for lying to them.
For Severus was certain that some point in the boy's tale had been fabricated. He would find it and expose him as the liar he was. Or maybe he could manipulate the boy to his advantage.
Albus came back to the infirmary some time that evening. Apparation was no longer possible, most of the wards had been reconstructed. He had brought some Christmas pudding with him. For Harry.
No one would ever think to bring me cake, groused Snape in his own head, then again, all they would get in return would be biting sarcasm. So it wasn't surprising. Not that he was surprised. Displeased with the result of his ruminations, he rose and stretched.
"How is he?" asked Dumbledore.
"Still asleep. Pomfrey's gone to find some salve for him."
"Poppy's been working very hard on him, It's such a relief to know that he'll be alright soon, after coming so close to death."
Snape felt an ominous feeling settle in the pit of his stomach. The headmaster wanted something. When the man used that tone he just knew that great personal pain, embarrassment or loss of sanity would ensue. He said nothing, not wanting to encourage him.
Albus' eyes twinkled behind his glasses, as though he guessed Severus' thoughts.
"Now Severus, would I ever ask you to do something for me if it wasn't necessary?
Realising that Dumbledore could quite easily out wait him, he ground out an answer, "No."
"Good. Now then, Poppy says Harry will be able to leave tomorrow morning, and she has to leave to join her relations. It was very good of her to spend so much time here, I believe that she missed the birth of her nephew to come. I am still busy with the wards, and cannot look out for him." Deep breath then, "I need Harry to stay with you Severus, you have to protect him."
Snape closed his eyes. He noticed how Dumbledore had carefully eliminated every other option before he had a chance to argue. A final loss of privacy then. His chambers invaded by the student he hated most. There would be noise and constant interruptions, accidents, the boy would without a doubt ruin every experiment he had going. And he would have to keep a constant eye on him. Albus was watching him, trying to gauge his reaction.
"What will he do Albus, he cannot sit around all day? I will not have a boy running rampart through my quarters."
"I'm sure Harry will entertain himself."
"That's what I'm afraid of." muttered Severus, defeated.
"I believe he expressed a wish to catch up on his studying, maybe you could help him?" Albus smiled happily.
Severus growled, but the headmaster seemed pleased that he had taken the news so well.
Casting a spell linking him to Harry, so that he would know if the boy woke or was in danger, Severus reclined in his chair. He fell asleep some time later, lulled by the sound of Harry's soft breathing.