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 5: Surviving with Serpents
Harry trailed behind the potion's master, his whole body aching. But Snape wouldn't slow, though he had surely noticed that his charge was lagging.
What else was he expecting, thought Harry with a hint of bitterness, this was Snape after all, who hated him above all others. He could ask him to stop, but couldn't show such weakness, especially not in front of this Professor. So he slogged on, even though he began to find breathing difficult.
He specifically remembered Madame Pomfrey telling him to take it easy and move as little as possible. He was supposed to do nothing more taxing than lying in bed.
Snape's ideas of what was taxing on him were apparently quite different from his own. They weren't even in the dungeons yet and Harry's legs were already threatening to give out on him. His head began to spin and he thought he might faint.
He weaved his way to the nearest wall and slid down it. Snape hadn't noticed his bout of dizziness and strode on. Harry was glad that he wasn't being watched as he curled up into a ball and trembled as waves of nausea crashed over him.
Snape came back round the corner of the corridor and silently witnessed the boy's shuddering. With an unreadable expression on his face he turned around and retraced his steps to the next passage. Then he waited.
Harry got up a minute later, fully believing that no one had seen. He tried to walk as fast as he could, worried about Professor Snape's reaction when he found out how far behind he had fallen. He rounded the corner and blinked, surprised. Snape was not much further ahead than he had been before. He could still catch up.
Snape halted in front of a large portrait deep in the dungeons. There was no discernible door that Harry could see. The picture was of snakes entwined, it was impossible to distinguish how many there were, or where one ended and the next began. Unlike all of the other portraits Harry had seen at Hogwarts, this one did not move.
Snape gave it the password and the portrait swung open. Harry was still in shock over the fourteen word, completely unpronounceable phrase when Snape walked in. He followed.
Inside was a large, spacious living room. The ceiling was so high that you could not touch it if you stood on a chair, the tiles made of silver metal, and the walls an icy mint green. The lack of windows seemed unnatural. The room was lit by floating globes of light every few metres. There was a large table in the centre of the room which could seat many people, Harry wondered if it ever saw any use. The place was more than a little intimidating. One corner of it however, looked far more inviting. There was a huge open fireplace with a worn sofa and a black rug on the floor in front of it. While this area had a totally different air to it than the rest of the room, it still seemed to fit in. There were three doors leading out of the room other than the one they came in. Snape pointed at them.
"My private lab."
He threw a lemon drop onto the floor in the middle of the room and transfigured it into a bed. It looked comfortable enough.
"You will not leave here. Enjoy your stay, Mister Potter." he sneered, before sweeping into his bedroom and slamming the door shut.
Harry assumed he was sulking. He walked slowly round the room , not touching anything, just observing. There were not many personal items in it, and Harry deliberated over whether this was because Snape kept them in his room, or because he had no personal life to collect items from. He decided to reserve judgement for the moment.
He sat on one end of the black leather couch, taking his shoes off and putting them to one side, then dug his toes into the warm and fluffy rug. There was a pile of books on a small table beside him. He glanced idly at the titles. Potions, potions, more potions. Twenty-six ways to despike a hedgehog. Harry frowned, did that mean in the literal sense? He got an alarming mental image of Snape with thick rubber gloves on, holding the hedgehog in one hand and using a pair of oversized prongs to yank the needles out. All done with a wicked smirk on his face. Harry felt sorry for the hedgehog.
He was bored. He wanted to do something. He wouldn't have minded reading a book, but got a feeling that touching one of Snape's might bring about a loss of limbs. He stared into the fire and let his mind wonder.
He was startled out of his daze when Snape stalked back into the living room. The door slammed behind him. He raised his eyes to meet those of his professor as he stopped in front of him. Snape pointed.
"My end of the couch." delivered in a flat, absolutely serious tone.
Harry blinked at him. Then shifted over. Snape nodded but showed no intention of sitting. Bastard, thought Harry, he was just being spiteful.
"Here is the salve Madame Pomfrey said that I should give you. She said to use it twice daily." said Snape.
Harry took the vial.
"Thank you." he said, attempting to be polite. He got a curt nod in reply. Well, he thought, better than nothing, it could have been a sneer.
"I will be in my lab. I am not to be disturbed and you may not come in. Call a house elf if you want food, or anything else, I eat while I work, alone."
He swept out of the room, and slammed the door, though with a little less force this time.
Harry sighed, this would be a long day.
In the bathroom, Harry rubbed the salve everywhere that he could reach. Which did not include his back due to the soreness of his arms, particularly the one which had been broken. Unfortunately his back was one of the areas bruised worse, when he had curled into a ball it had become a prime target. He could not use magic as he had no wand. He couldn't ask anyone to help him, Madame Pomfrey was gone, and he hated to remind Dumbledore of his state in case the headmaster became even more overprotective or started to become suspicious. Snape was out of the question. Not only might his tending Harry's back bring about further questioning about how his injuries had been received, but the man wouldn't even do it in the first place. After all, he liked seeing Harry in pain, didn't he?
Harry therefore remained uncomfortable. The bruises on his back hurt a great deal, stopping him from sitting, lying or moving in general without pain.
When he left the bathroom, there was still nothing to do. He couldn't call a house elf without his wand, they wouldn't hear him, and knew that interrupting Snape would be suicidal. No food today then. Which was just as well, as Madame Pomfrey had been feeding him a bit too enthusiastically, he was never really that hungry and was unused to eating much food after the starvation rations at the Dursleys.
He considered going into Snape's bedroom, going so far as to stand in front of the door and reach for the handle when the boredom overwhelmed him. But he couldn't work up the nerve. It was sheer cowardice, he knew, no use making excuses about how the door was probably warded to keep him out. What kind of Gryffindor was he, Ron would have been in there in a second.
He went back to the couch, sitting on the end that wasn't Snape's. He contemplated why the man was so grouchy. Snape was acting like it was a huge affront that Harry was here, even though Harry wasn't too happy about it either. Snape had practically told him not to move, forbidding him from going anywhere or touching anything. It could be because Snape wasn't use to company, that was probably part of it. It could be because he wasn't use to having company in his chambers. Now that Harry thought about it, Snape must have been living alone for a long time, certainly all of his years as a professor. He was acting very territorial, because he wasn't use to sharing his things. Harry almost laughed at the idea that Snape had only child syndrome.
Harry counted the black bricks round the fireplace. It didn't take very long. He carried on staring into the fire. It was hypnotic. Even the noise of a door slamming couldn't pull him away from it. The cold voice of the Potion's Master could.
"Mister Potter, what precisely are you doing?" said with an inflection suggesting that he didn't really want to know as he doubted that anything Harry could be doing would be interesting enough to hold his attention.
"With a great deal of skill I notice. You are very proficient at the art. Comes from years of practice, does it Potter? You certainly cannot do anything else." delivered in a scathing tone which rubbed Harry raw. Against his own better judgement, Harry let the last remaining shred of Gryffindor pride bubble to the surface.
"I can do some things." said quietly but firmly.
"Like what? Others have talent. You have that scar. It gets you everything, far more than their hard work ever will." he said, his voice hardening.
Harry blinked, that was harsh. The way that Snape was talking made it seem as though one of the others was himself. He definitely had a personal grudge. But it was true, Harry didn't really have any talent. He didn't have enough to stop the Dursleys from killing Hedwig, or punishing him. The Gryffindor spirit shrank back and hid.
"I should of known that you would have nothing better to do with your time than waste it, but you shall not have the same chance with mine." Snape walked back into his lab. The door slammed. Harry winced.
He hadn't got the chance to ask Snape if he could read a book. Anything was looking good right now. His fingers hovered tentatively over the top one of the pile, but he stopped. Snape had probably cursed them to bite his hands off.
Harry was even daring enough to knock on the door to the lab sometime after midday, but only softly, and there was no answer. Disheartened, he went back to the couch.
The logs in the fireplace didn't actually burn, Harry decided some time later. They looked like they were doing so but did not turn to ash. It was obviously a magical fire. But if it wasn't real. What was the need for it in the first place. Snape could have easily have put a heating spell on the room. So he must like it. Maybe he stares into it when he is bored too, mused Harry.
He fell asleep curled up on the couch in the late afternoon, his body aching and tired.