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 24: Adjustments
Harry almost fell down into the nearest chair.
Severus watched as Harry's eyes became unfocused. The boy's voice became quiet, intense and unnaturally even, and Snape realised that the boy was actually living the memory.
"There are buildings all around me, most of them reduced to rubble. It is growing dark, and the dust and fog have combined to make visibility such that I cannot see more than a foot in front of me. The only indications of light anywhere are flashes of light sparking in the distance, the sign that the battle is still continuing. All of the people in the surrounding area are dead though, bodies litter the ground. I cannot see them, but walking is made difficult by their presence. I see a particularly bright patch of glowing in what must be the centre of the town, and I make my way there. There is a large opening, and the fog is less dense here. Many wizards have congregated here. To the right of the square are the death eater forces, to the left, looking a lot worse off, are the wizards resisting. There is an old man with a long white beard leading them. Dumbledore!"
Severus started as Harry's voice lost it's impassivity and became filled with complete hatred as he spoke the headmaster's name. Surely the boy did not feel so strongly about the headmaster?
"I walk to the front of the lines, and begin casting. None can stand against me!"
At this point Snape suddenly realised that, as Harry had seen it through Voldemort's eyes, he had also felt what the dark lord was feeling. He knew he ought to try and snap Harry out of the trance, but he desperately wanted to know what had happened. His inner voice told him he was being selfish again. But he needed to know what it had been like there. He needed to ascertain for himself if he could have made a difference. If he could have stopped the deaths.
"They fall before me, so many of them. I do not bother keeping count this time for I know that the rat will have, so that he can boast of my prowess later. A moment later I see him fall to the other side. It is no great loss, he was starting to annoy me anyway, but now I shall have to find someone new to number my kills for me. It is a matter of pride, after all. I am nearing the old bastard Dumbledore now, he has been making trouble for me and mine for so long. But he cannot take me. He knows that he will lose this fight. Why else would he have avoided it for so long? His defences will not hold too much longer, I can see that he is weakening. Avada Kadav..."
Harry gave a choked gasp and doubled over. Severus hurried to his side, and began trying to rouse him. This had gone on long enough. Harry mattered more than seeing the dead. And the boy was obviously in great pain. He must be reliving Voldemort's final moments.
"Turn. A man. Not even an auror. A dagger. Hurts. Hurts so much. Didn't think...One of my death eaters comes up behind him. Vengeance. Hurts. Dumbledore. Flames."
Harry's voice trailed off and he went very pale.
"Harry, Harry! Wake up Harry."
Severus held the boy close to him and willed him to stop the memory. He stroked the boys forehead, and thought he could see a shadow of Harry's old scar glowing. Then it was gone. Harry breathed out.
He didn't breath in again. Snape shook him, frenzied.
"Harry. Harry!" he shouted. The boy couldn't be dead, couldn't be! Slyrissin, who had been hissing in panic from round Harry's wrist, decided to take matters into her own jaws. Snape looked down to see that the little snake had sunk her fangs deeply into Harry's flesh.
Harry breathed in. The snake let go. Severus reached down and stemmed the twin rivulets of blood with his long fingers. He called the boy's name again, desperate to get some response.
Harry opened his eyes. They were still slightly unclear, but Harry managed a weak smile.
"Hi." he croaked.
Severus helped him to sit up again, still supporting him.
"Well, that was fun. Let's do it again." the boy remarked, his voice heavily laced with sarcasm.
"You scared me." Snape didn't think he'd ever admitted to being scared before in his life. Being around Harry was certainly providing lots of new experiences. Some, in fact most, of them he would rather not have had.
He gave Harry some water and bound his wrist again. The boy slowly began to recover and Severus moved him out to the living room and made sure he was comfortable on the couch. He felt tempted to ply the boy with cookies again but resisted the urge. If he did it too often then Harry would stop seeing them as treats and no longer want to eat them. He ate little enough of everything else.
Harry was still slightly disorientated, and Snape saw that when he picked up a book to try and read, he merely squinted at it for a few minutes, then put it down and rubbed his temples. The boy turned and stared into the fire. He seemed lost in his thoughts. And knowing the sort of things that Harry was likely to think about, Severus did not believe this to be a good state of affairs.
Once again he would humiliate himself then. His little voice told him that he loved it really. He made a derogatory comment regarding it's ancestry. It just laughed, that it had managed to provoke him so.
"Harry, would you like me to read to you?" There, that didn't hurt.
The boy's head lifted slightly and a shy smile flitted over his face.
"I'd like that. Please."
Severus glanced at the boy's book. Werewolves. He didn't think so. He picked up his own volume on advanced potions and began to read aloud. If Harry didn't like the subject then he could say so. This way at least they would both learn something. There were no objections however, and he lost himself in the words. Fascinating.
Some hours later, the headmaster arrived. Severus was still reading. Harry was still awake listening to Severus reading.
"Ah, Harry, Severus." Albus greeted them.
"Hello Headmaster." said Harry. Severus glanced at the boy in mild surprise. He was talking to Albus again. Maybe he had overcome the worst of his fears then?
Snape himself merely nodded acknowledgement of the headmaster's presence. He was still smarting from Albus preventing him helping at the battle. Less people would have died if he had been there. He was sure of it! Simion might not have died.
"How are you doing then Harry?"
"I think that I'm doing alright now sir, thank you."
Severus thought he was going to fall off the couch in shock. Harry was voluntarily telling the headmaster how he was feeling. This was definitely a marked improvement in the boy. And it appeared to be genuine. Progress. At last.
They told the headmaster what had happened earlier with Harry's vision. He thanked them for the information and recommended with a laugh in his eyes that Harry not try that again.
"There is one more thing, Severus. Young Mr. Malfoy has nowhere to go now that his parents have been taken to azkaban. He will have to stay here too. I am sure Harry will not mind sharing with him?"
Harry shook his head. Severus groaned inwardly. The two boys hated each other. They would be squabbling all the time, he could tell. And he was somewhat worried about what Draco's insults could do to Harry, whom he still believed to be quire fragile.
When the headmaster went to get Draco, he looked at Harry.
"Are you troubled about him being here? I can order him to be civil if you want?"
Harry seemed surprised at the questions.
"No sir, that's fine. I really don't mind. I'm sure we'll manage to get along."
The headmaster re-entered the room. With Draco trailing behind him.
"I will leave him in your capable hands then Severus. Goodbye, Harry, Draco."
Once he was gone, Draco came nearer. Snape watched him carefully as he looked at Harry. He saw Draco's eyes flick to Harry's wrists, and note the placement of the bandage there from Sylrissin's bite.
The two boys nodded at each other silently. Severus thought that maybe they didn't trust themselves to speak. He was sure that all hell would break lose as soon as he wasn't in the room.
Draco reached over and picked up Sylrissin. Snape expected Harry to protest and the snake to bite, but both seemed unworried as Draco stroked her.
"Her name is Sylrissin." said Harry.
Draco's eyes flew up to meet Harry's in what looked like surprise. Severus thought that maybe he wasn't used to people being nice to him.
Draco nodded. "She's beautiful." They both smiled.
Snape was beyond words. Well, that was unexpected, said his little voice, looks like they won't be at each others throats after all. They must have grown up while you weren't looking.
Harry uncurled his legs a bit and moved over so that there was space for Draco to sit down. The two of them started talking about amusing little anecdotes from school, avoiding any sensitive subjects.
Draco must have quite a few of those himself, thought Severus. After all, he had betrayed his family just as Snape had. And he knew that even though Draco had done the right thing, he would still be feeling guilty. He would have to watch Draco too then.
Dinner was a largely silent affair. Since there were three of them they moved back to the table to eat. Severus noticed that Harry took very little on his plate, and ate even less of it, but didn't want to raise the issue in front of Draco. So he casually dished out some more food to everyone, and gave an extra large portion to Harry.
He was treated to a death glare. But, he was the master of those, and finally forced Harry into submission with a look. He continued monitoring every bite that Harry took. He could see how hard it was for the boy to eat any more, but he really needed to. When Harry had managed to clear most of the plate, and gave him a pleading look, he nodded. Harry left the rest.
The boys were both tired from the stress of their respective days, so quickly went to sleep. Snape removed to his chambers and stayed up thinking.
His whole life was now changed. There was no more Voldemort. He no longer had to live in fear. He no longer had to stay at Hogwarts.
Now that he had the choice, he was no longer sure if he wanted to leave. Perhaps it had only been the restriction of his freedom which irked him, rather than the place he was imprisoned.
He wasn't entirely disappointed that sleep eluded him, the dreams he were likely to have experienced had he done so would not have been pleasant. He read for a while in bed. He missed the fire. That was the worst thing about having company, he could not wander around his chambers at bizarre hours of the night.
But surely the boys would be asleep now. And he had cultivated quietness over the years to make it easier to sneak up on troublesome students. So he would not disturb them.
He went out into the living room, checked on the boys, then sat in his usual place.
He wasn't sure how long it was before he heard movement behind him. His muscles tensed in anticipation of attack instinctively, but he overrode his bodies natural responses and turned stealthily, wanting to know who it was.
Harry was walking across the floor, barefoot and shivering. Towards the bathroom.
Severus sighed inwardly. And turned back to the fire. After a minute his inner voice came back to haunt him. It brought up the possibility that Harry had reverted to his self harm habits. He told it that Harry had been doing much better. It asked him incredulously whether feeling Voldemort die all over again could be classified as better.
He went to check on the boy. Feeling slightly awkward, he tapped lightly on the door and asked if everything was alright.
"Yes." came the soft reply. The toilet was flushed. The door opened. Harry came out.
Snape felt very foolish. He spanked his inner voice, for now Harry would think that he didn't trust him. His inner voice directed him to take a closer look at the boy.
Harry's eyes were glazed over, only slightly. But still. Severus knew that look.
"I need to change the bandage now I think. Let's go into my room so that we don't disturb Draco."
He saw the fear flash in Harry's eyes. Now he was certain.
"It's fine, really. Can't you leave it. I'm so tired." A large exaggerated yawn.
Snape was not fooled. He dragged the boy into his bedchamber and closed the door behind him.
In the living room, Draco's eyes slowly closed as the voices faded away.