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 12: Discoveries and Judgements
Snape was, though he would not fully admit it to himself, relieved when Harry came back through the door. Now that he was aware of the possibility of the boy harming himself he could not find any reason stopping Harry from doing so. He dreaded telling Albus this, the old man would not react well to the sign that Harry had broken down entirely.
It had been just a small cut on the thumb, such a small cut. But Severus had seen the look in the boy's face, had seen him try to hide and deny. He had seen those reactions before, though not for a long time, and he feared what they meant for the boy. He feared what it meant for the world, if the boy who lived was to fall.
Harry sat down in front of the fireplace, allowing Snape to watch him more easily. The boy looked contemplative, his hands playing with something in his lap. If he was feeling calmer now then perhaps Severus should try talking to him again. He had to try and prevent the boy from making further attempts until the boy would talk to Albus. Though he wasn't sure, especially after this, that the boy ever would talk to Albus.
He called the boy's name, softly, several times before Harry finally looked up at him. He wasn't sure this was from a reluctance to talk or because the boy was daydreaming again. Harry tentatively turned around fully, staying down on the rug. He was cradling his right hand against him, and for a moment Snape thought that he had made a severe misjudgement and shouldn't have let Harry go before, then he realised that the boy had not hurt himself but was rather holding an object.
His eyebrow raised along with his curiosity. He wondered what on earth the boy had found. He was going to ask in a civilised manner but his tongue slipped into the habits of old.
"Bringing in the trash are you now..." he stopped himself from continuing and comparing it in some way to the boy. Be neutral. Be neutral, ran through his head. Dealing with suicidal, trauma case here.
"Yes well, it should match the rest of the room then, shouldn't it!" retorted Harry.
For a second Snape's ire was incited at the boy's insult to his accommodations, but was quickly doused by the realisation that Harry, however feebly, had answered back to his professor. He had some spirit left in him then. He was not a lost cause. He could still be saved.
Snape forbore to answer in case he pushed the boy too far, and held out his hand in command. Harry got to his knees and shuffled closer, but would not give the item to him. He barely stopped a scowl. He wasn't sure if he didn't personally prefer the boy without spirit. Then the little voice reminded him how broken Harry had looked in the hospital wing, and after his nightmares, and told him that that kind of loss of spirit was not a good thing. He couldn't think up a reply. He supposed that Harry's slight rebelliousness was not as irritating as it might once have been.
"Let me see." he ordered, though with as little harshness as possible. The boy hesitated, then held out his open hand.
Snape saw an egg, just big enough to fill the centre of the boy's palm. It's shell was smooth and shiny, and though white it had a slight silver sheen to it. He reached out his hand to touch it, and the egg was swiftly withdrawn.
He stared at Harry. "Where did you get this?" The egg looked rare and magical, a snake egg if he wasn't mistaken. Where on earth could the boy have found it.
"Serminysa gave it too me." Snape frowned at him, that had made no sense whatsoever. Obviously noticing his professor's confusion, Harry added "The snake in the portrait. The egg was hidden inside. She said I should take care of it, and keep it warm."
Severus was astonished. Absolutely taken aback. A snake in a portrait had given the boy a magical egg. Of course, that was just the sort of thing that would happen to Potter. Then he reminded himself that this was Harry. He reached out to touch the egg again, this time holding Harry's gaze, and the boy did not move back. He ran his fingers over the surface of the shell. It was fairly cold.
"You really should take better care of such a gift, boy." Harry flinched, and Snape was surprised, he hadn't said anything that mean, he had been far more callous before with no reaction. What was it then which frightened the Harry this time?
"What is it boy?" another flinch, quickly suppressed, but not soon enough to hide it from Snape. He knew that the egg should be warmed immediately, but something told him that this was more important.
"Harry?" The boy just stared at him mutely. Severus had a sudden idea. his little voice said it thought that testing it was wrong. He went ahead and did so anyway.
"Boy!" shouted sharply and with hate. Harry cringed away and folded in on himself, Snape could hear words being muttered. He crouched beside the trembling form.
"Please don't hurt me, Uncle Vernon, please stop." was repeated over and over again. Snape realised from the symptoms and the link that the boy was having a panic attack, he must have triggered it by calling Harry by the same title his uncle did. His little voice told him he was cruel. He noticed he was out of calming potions. How was he supposed to deal with the boy then? The little voice told him he had brought this on himself. Then it blew raspberries. He thought he must be totally deranged to have such an immature inner voice. There was probably some deep meaning to it. He hoped Trelawney never found out.
He put a comforting hand on Harry's shoulder. Harry however, didn't seem to find it comforting as he scrambled backwards, apparently expecting a blow. Snape sighed. He was not meant for this. Now, what had he done with the last one?
"Harry, Harry?" Damn boy, listen to me. "Harry, no one is going to hurt you. Harry, it's Severus." Damn, he hadn't meant to say that. He was Professor Snape. It was so hard being one thing in your head and another to everyone else. He briefly wondered if that was how Harry felt about being Potter. "Harry?"
This time when the hand rested on his shoulder the boy did not pull away. Severus felt the heartbeat begin to slow through the link. At last, progress. Harry slowly raised his head.
"Come on," he coaxed the boy. he was not made for coaxing. Why couldn't Albus be here. The little voice told him that if it was the headmaster present, Harry would not be Harry anymore but Potter, he would show his true feelings even less than he did with Snape. And it was not good to shut your true feelings inside. Snape knew from personal experience. Ongoing personal experience.
He took the egg from sweaty fingers. "At least you've warmed it up a bit." he said, drawing the topic away from Harry's relatives. Severus instinctively knew that now was not the time to push. The boy could not take much more.
He modified the amount of heat that the fire was giving out, then placed the egg in the ashes.
Harry spent the rest of the day studying, and practising his magic. He occasionally just monitored the egg, and Snape honestly did not think that he had ever seen him look as content as when he was doing so.
Snape himself was making more calming potion, and meditating upon ways to improve the dreamless sleep mixture.
Before Harry went to sleep, he remembered to wish the boy a happy new year.
Before he himself went to sleep, he remembered to cast the counterspell to silencing charms on Harry.
Screams. Why was he not surprised. Sighing, he got out of bed and trekked to the living room. It could have been a repeat of the night before, Harry was in exactly the same state. He could not think of a better way to wake the boy, so another glass of water went over his head, and the potions down his throat. Harry was still whimpering in pain so Snape reached out a hand to calm him. The boy flinched as he had earlier.
"I'm sorry Uncle, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to." was whispered hoarsely.
Harry's apology for waking him the night before suddenly made sense. What had the boy's relatives done to him when he'd screamed at night? Snape reached out a second time, and when Harry understood that the touch was not to be followed by pain, he leaned into it.
They stayed like that until Harry's rasping breathing eased, then Severus withdrew his hand. Harry was crying, silent tears meandered down his face. Snape supposed that it had finally become too much for the boy to bear.
"Harry, what's wrong?" He would have thought it would have practically killed him to be this nice to the boy a week ago, but now it wasn't so annoying. And he did genuinely want to know what was wrong. His inner voice laughed at him. He didn't see what was so funny. He handed Harry the water left in the glass.
"Sirius." Snape tensed at the name. Bloody bastard, tried to kill him. It was an automatic reaction to the name. The stupid man had never even apologised. He should have been expelled. He should have damn well stayed in azkaban.
"Sirius is dead."
Snape just stared at Harry, before logic reasserted itself.
"Harry, you have no way of knowing that. It was just a nightmare. Nothing more."
Harry scowled at him, it was a passable imitation of Snape's regular look, and he would have laughed if Harry hadn't been crying in front of him.
"It wasn't a nightmare, the potion stopped the nightmares. This was the blackness. This was a vision. This was real. He's dead."
"Harry, I really don't think that..."
"He's dead! He's dead." The absolute conviction in the boy's voice shook Snape. He opened his mouth but found nothing to say. Except.
"I'm taking you to see the headmaster." The boy tensed up immediately. But it was time, and Albus should know about the boy's nightmares anyway. Visions. Whatever.
At three in the morning he really shouldn't have been surprised that Albus wasn't there. He was, however, having formed the impression that the headmaster never left his office. He left Harry sitting there in his pyjamas and went to search for him.
He found Dumbledore in the kitchens, eating cheese and talking to the house elves. Shaking off the shock of the bizarre sight, Snape quickly explained what had happened.
They hurried back upstairs, but as Severus was about to enter, Albus shook his head, and cracked the door open just enough for them to see and hear through. Snape gave him disapproving look, mainly annoyed that he hadn't thought of it first, then put his eye to the crack.
Harry was fidgeting in the chair where he had been left. Severus was growing impatient, but acknowledged that the headmaster must have a reason for waiting. Suddenly a voice came of the room. It was not Harry's.
Harry looked up and saw the sorting hat on the shelf. He sighed wearily.
"Hello." he said to it.
"What are you here for then?"
"I'm supposed to talk to the Headmaster about my visions." Without waiting to be asked he picked up the hat and put it on before sitting down again.
"Can you really call them visions when you don't see anything?" it continued talking out loud.
Then, "I'm sorry about your Godfather."
A tear seeped out against his will. The storm within Harry began rising to the surface. He fingered the egg which had been transferred to his pocket again.
"It's just... I didn't know him that well, but he cared. I think. Cared about what happened to me. He didn't know me at all either, but that's because he never got a chance, because I was too weak to kill Pettigrew. And he died so horribly..." Harry's voice trailed away as he tried to throw off the memory of the pain Sirius had gone through.
"You've been though a lot, haven't you, Harry Potter?" It was a rhetorical question. "You know, if you'd been in Slytherin, not all of this would have happened."
Harry's head snapped up. "It wouldn't?" he whispered.
"I told you, you would be better off there, you would have been helped Harry. There you would have been understood. And you would have understood your own world, yourself, and the darkness so much better. You would not have stayed with the Dursleys, The Triwizard tournament would not have ended like that, and you would have found a way to deal with the connection with Voldemort. You were not meant for Gryffindor, and your bravery is wearing thin."
Harry's head was bowed once more.
"Then I made the wrong choice again. I was so stupid. And everyone suffers because of me."
"Now, now, Harry Potter, not everything in the world is your fault. And there is hope yet."
"I cannot see it. Cannot see through the darkness."
"Then find a light to guide your way."
Harry thought in his head that the hat sounded suspiciously like...
"Serminysa. Yes, well, she and I have talked. The bare walls are not interesting enough to occupy my time or hers. So she sometimes slithers her way through other portraits to come up here. Has not in a long while, for she was guarding something, but she came earlier for she said she was released."
Then quietly in his head it said 'You will find hope Harry, do not fear. And being in Gryffindor may have given you other things, and prevented other deaths. No one can tell for sure.'
He took the hat off his head and set it back on the shelf, then rearranged himself more comfortably in the chair, thinking that the Headmaster must have wandered into the forbidden forest or something.
Severus followed Albus into the room, sitting in his usual corner. He was still trying to process the fact that the sorting hat had said that Harry was supposed to have been in Slytherin, would have done better in Slytherin! Although he could see it's point. Had Harry been in his house, Snape would have known the boy better and seen the signs of abuse. And his house members would have been far more likely to accept him as he was.
"So Harry, how can I help you?" The boy's heart rate sped up. Snape sighed, Harry really was terrified of explaining everything to the headmaster.
"Sirius is dead."
Dumbledore slowly extracted the story from the boy, though Harry was most reluctant to tell. Snape carefully watched the way that Albus showed no disbelief, not doubting the boy for a second, and compared it with his own reaction of telling the boy he was imagining things. So that was how it should be done then. Harry showed no inclination to talk about anything beyond his nightmares, and did not mention that he had cut himself with a razor. Snape wasn't surprised at that either.
"Well, my boy, I don't know what we can do about the visions you have, but I shall further research blocking the connection between you and Voldemort, and Professor Snape will see if he can find a potion to help you. We will find a way." The Headmaster had managed to put enthusiasm in his tone, and smiled encouragingly at Harry.
Harry nodded indifferently.
They left, the Headmaster calling out "Happy New Year, and Harry, if you ever want to talk to me about anything, I'm here."