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 7: Talking to the Walls
Harry buried his head under the covers as the lights in the room automatically grew brighter. The luxury of staying in bed for once, of having a bed at all, even if it was borrowed and made from a lemon drop, was one he intended to take advantage of fully. There had been no sign of Snape so far, though Harry had never thought of him as the kind of man who would sleep in late.
He heaved himself out of bed with a sigh, wincing as his back became the most painful reminder of what had happened, though everywhere else hurt too. He had forgotten to use the salve last night since he had fallen asleep. God, he was so stiff.
He limped his way to the bathroom and grabbed the jar. Stripping, he turned around and craned his head over his shoulder, which of course hurt, to take a look at his back. It looked awful. Black blue and purple with some green providing highlights. Everywhere else on his body was starting to fade to a yellow-green colour but his back wasn't healing at all. He still couldn't reach it though, so he would just have to live with it until it went away.
Having spread the goo over most of himself, he headed back out to the couch. He cringed as he recalled what had passed the night before. Snape had found out. Two of the things he had wanted to hide, although admittedly the wand could not stay secret long, he had spilled in less than a day. It was the worst sort of luck. Harry didn't think that his attempt to keep Snape from prying into his nightmares had been very successful, but he really hadn't been thinking coherently at the time.
Aside from one or two poignant insults the day before though, Snape hadn't been that bad. Not worse than usual anyway, and he seemed to improve gradually as it had got later. Maybe he had adjusted to having Harry there. Maybe Dumbledore had ordered him to be nice. The thought of how Snape would take the last command made Harry laugh out loud. That of course was the moment that Snape chose to enter the room.
A sardonic eyebrow was raised, and Harry fell silent immediately. He was fascinated by the way that the man employed his eyebrows as intimidation tactics, did Snape know he was doing it? He must.
"Mister Potter, I am glad you find me so amusing." his voice dripped with disdain.
While the subject of Harry's mirth had indeed been the professor, he wasn't about to tell him that.
"No Sir, I was just coughing," he coughed a few times into his hand for effect, then gave an innocent smile.
Snape gave him a look which promised a fiery death, but when his next words came out the were entirely civil. "How did you sleep." with no inflection at all.
"Fine, thank you Sir." There had of course been more nightmares, but none so bad. Just Cedric taking Uncle Vernon's smeltings stick and pounding him with it, giving with each blow a reason why he deserved it. Fun! Harry really, really wished that he didn't remember his dreams. He never got any good ones to compensate for all the others.
They ate breakfast. Toast and cereal. Harry could only manage a few bites of each before he was so full that he felt sick. He pushed the rest around a bit, but stopped when he felt Snape watching him.
"The Headmaster will be arriving soon to take you for the day, I am going to be very busy." said Snape when he had finished.
Harry nodded obediently, and wished today might be more interesting than yesterday.
Dumbledore collected Harry, and bestowed a special smile on Snape which seemed to irritate him exceedingly. Harry supposed it must have been a private joke.
"We are working in the library today Harry, I hope that you will not mind accompanying me there?"
"No, that's fine, I wanted to get some books anyway."
"Ah yes, of course. I don't suppose there is much entertainment for a boy age in Professor Snape's chambers, Hmmm?"
"Or any at all!" mumbled Harry to himself. Dumbledore of course heard. And smiled.
The library had been rearranged to accommodate the many aurors now working inside it. The tables had been taken away, or shrunk, or something, and the aurors formed a huge crowd in the centre of the room, sitting, standing and some even hovering a couple of feet off the floor. Several of them stared at him and whispered as Harry entered, and he began to feel uncomfortable.
"I'll leave you to your own devices for the day then Harry, but please don't interrupt us unless it is urgent." said Dumbledore, before moving to join the others.
Harry moved back into the stacks until he was no longer within the view of all the people, and then began scanning the shelves for books. His main problem was that he couldn't actually practise the magic. He hoped that Mr Ollivandar would give him another wand. But what if he wouldn't, what if Harry had blown his only chance at being a wizard? He should never have taken his wand from out of it's hiding place. And to take it downstairs! He was such a fool. It really was all his own fault.
He picked up a book on the history of dark curses. Another on the theory behind transfiguration. He couldn't be bothered with divination as he always received top marks for his imaginative death scenes anyway. Not that they were totally fabricated. Most of them were things that he had seen Voldemort doing in his visions and dreams.
He found a book on potions which he had started reading before the end of term, it explained what each ingredient would do to a potion and how they reacted with each other. Harry doubted that Snape would let him use the lab but he took out a copy of that years potions textbook as well. Even if he wasn't allowed to practise he could still reference it to the other book to try and understand the experiments better.
A book on werewolves, Snape would have a fit if he saw that. He passed over a book on animagi, but it made him think of his godfather. Sirius hadn't communicated with him in anyway since about a month before Christmas. That wasn't like him, though Harry was almost glad that he hadn't sent a present this year considering what the results would have been.
Charms to use on yourself would be very useful. Maybe he could find a charm to stop people hearing his screams. Not that he could do it without a wand. He had already been using a mild silencing charm before Christmas so as not to disturb his dorm mates, but it wouldn't stop screaming. He hadn't screamed since the summer. Now it had started again.
He thought resentfully of the Dursleys. It was all their fault he was having nightmares. How are you supposed to sleep peacefully locked in a cupboard. Though he wouldn't be having nightmares at all if it wasn't for the things he had done and seen. So it wasn't their fault but his.
He found some comfy chairs in a corner and started to read. He wasn't aware of time passing until a house elf popped up in front of him. Amidst the usual chatter he managed to ascertain that Dumbledore had sent it to get him lunch. He asked for some fruit. Then, realising how dangerous that was, visions of mountains of apples filling the library, asked much more specifically. For a banana.
The house elf brought back a banana. And an orange. And a pear. And a bowl of cherries. It had obviously decided he needed more to eat.
He did actually end up eating most of the food, nibbling on it as he read and the windows gradually became darker. Finally, the headmaster came to take him back.
"A good days work that was, Harry. I see you got some reading done too." Dumbledore enthused.
They wound their way down through the dungeons. Harry was glad that he had someone to guide him or he would have become completely lost. Snape's rooms had to be located in the deepest and least accessible part of the castle. They arrived in front of the entrance to them, and Dumbledore lowered the books that he had been levitating for Harry.
"There you got then. Have a nice evening Harry, and I'll see you tomorrow." The Headmaster left.
Harry didn't know the password.
"Professor Dumbledore?" he called, but Dumbledore had vanished. He knocked timidly, then more loudly on the portrait, but it did not open. Snape was probably in his lab.
He attempted the password. Badly.
Then one of the snake heads laughed at him. It didn't move but he could hear it laughing, a low hissing noise.
"Well I'm so pleased you think it's funny." he snapped. It came out in parseltongue.
Slowly the picture came to life. The coils slithered over each other and gradually untangled itself. It was only one snake after all, but Harry could have sworn that he had seen more than one head to start with. Maybe the others had hidden. Maybe he was delusional
"What do we have here then?" hissed the snake. "A little human who talks like one of us. Most interesting. I have not seen one of your kind for centuries."
Harry waited with baited breath, was it talking about Slytherin himself?
"The last was a kind man. He stayed here, in these rooms. He used to talk to me for hours, and tell me everything he did. His name was Darion. I liked him." Her gaze came back to Harry again. "I have had no one to talk to in so long, these idiots," she motioned with her head at the rest of the painting but Harry could see no one there, "think nothing worth hearing. But you, you will talk to me, won't you? What is your name?"
"Yes, of course," said Harry, his mind whirling, "It will be nice to talk to someone for me as well. I'm Harry."
She, for he now believed it to be a she, nodded her head sagely. "The man who lives here is quiet is he not. Like a snake, which is good. But sometimes too quiet. And then sometimes to loud. He is confusing, which a snake should not be. I would not like him in my den until he is of a better temper."
Harry smiled. "I don't suppose you could let me in, could you, I can't remember the password but I have to get inside. I can't sleep outside."
She laughed again. Snake laughter, while very understated, was quite a soothing sound to hear. If you were a parselmouth anyway. "Ah yes, that dreadful sounding phrase he came up with, I cannot understand it."
"Neither can I." said Harry glumly.
"I wanted to tell him quite what I thought of it. But he could not hear me, and I was frozen. You have unfrozen me, and for that I thank you."
Harry was about to reply when the portrait suddenly swung inwards. Snape stood behind the door. He looked like he was about to say something, then he saw the snake moving. She hissed at the professor, and this time it was Harry who laughed.
"Goodbye, little snake." she hissed, "Do not concern yourself with learning the stupid words in case you crack your tongue and you can no longer talk to me. I will always let you in. Come and speak to me soon."
"I will." said Harry, then carried the books inside past Snape.