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 3: Brave front
Harry awoke slowly, his body cocooned in a comforting warmth which drove away all other thoughts. His every muscle was completely relaxed.
Eyelids cracking open, he saw a world of white. With a shadow in it. It loomed closer, and Harry unconsciously shank away from the dark intrusion into his fuzzy view.
"Mister Potter?" he heard dimly, "Mister Potter?" The voice was soothing and familiar, he found it unthreatening and any remnant of alertness in his mind dissolved. He lost the battle (which he couldn't really be bothered to fight very hard) to keep his eyes open, and they dropped.
The last thing he heard before the darkness folded over him again was a name being called: "Pomfrey!"
The next time Harry was roused from unconsciousness he felt far too exhausted to even consider moving at all. He was almost lulled to sleep again by the sound of quiet steady breathing somewhere near, and the occasional rustling that could have been a page turning.
Vague snippets of memory assaulted him, he remembered putting up the lights on the Christmas tree and scraping the burnt bits of the morning toast. He remembered getting a Christmas present from Ron. Then he recalled what had lain on top of it.
A single tear trickled it's way down his cheek as it had when he had first seen her body. He still felt raw about her murder, but now, with the apparent lack of Dursleys around, judging by the comfort level, his mind was undampened by fear, and he felt guilt. How could he have let that happen to her? He should have somehow known that she was coming, and broken out of his hiding place to warn her off. He should have known.
The recriminations flooded through him in a thousand different voices, his friends telling him that someone who had murdered his owl was not someone they wished to know. Dumbledore's voice, unkind and harsh, expressing his disappointment. And his parents, saying that they thought a child of theirs would have turned out differently.
"I'm sorry." he managed to get out in a low, choked gasp. It was so hard to talk. The words repeated in his head, over and over again. They were meaningless. She was still dead. Cedric was still dead. All his fault.
A hand came to rest gently on his brow, the touch breaking the mental cycle he had been lost in , and another tear fell. Soft fingertips wanderingly ran down the trail of it, wiping away the moisture.
Harry's breath, which had hitched at the unexpected touch, momentarily thinking that perhaps Vernon was here after all, eased. This person wasn't going to hurt him, this person cared.
A brief flash of the darkness in the cupboard, the madness, the beatings that he somehow felt he deserved but was not strong enough to take. He was so weak, so weak. And no one could ever know. The person tending him would turn away in disgust if they knew the truth.
He made a feeble attempt to open his eyes now, but found that he couldn't. So weak, the voices taunted him. He tried again. Nothing happened. He was trapped, trapped and no one could help him.
Harry panicked. His breath came out in shallow gasps as he struggled to overcome his weakness. But he couldn't. There was no way out.
Then the touch came again, soothing with a cool cloth. It moved over his forehead, fleetingly over his eyes, then down his cheek and moistened his lips.
"Pomfrey, he's awake." said a voice.
Harry remembered it from before. Had this all happened already? Was this another memory? Was it a dream? If it was a dream, then he could open his eyes if he wanted to.
That was when he realised his problem. He didn't want to. He didn't want to know what was outside. And if he was where he had begun to suspect he was, he certainly didn't want to deal with all of the questions that would undoubtedly come.
The voice again. The presence of the voice let him know that he wasn't alone. If only he could stay in the darkness with that voice to remind him he was alive. But it wouldn't let him be.
"Mister Potter, Mister Potter, can you hear me?"
Yes, replied Harry in his mind, I can hear you. You can't hear me though.
"Mister Potter?" the tone was sharper now, and something in Harry responded to it. Better do as he says, it commanded.
Harry's eyes opened with all of the speed of a tortoise with a brick attached to it's leg. That is to say, very slowly.
The world seemed different to how he remembered it, he thought sleepily, there were no lines or angles, just curves delightfully blurred. He realised that he didn't have his glasses. Then he thought about how he lost them. He decided that the world looked better out of focus, you didn't see the ugly things.
There were shapes moving across his eyes. He blinked drowsily then realised that they were people.
That would make sense, he thought, then attempted to sit up.
Pain exploded through his nerves and he cried out, arms flailing wildly without his consent in a desperate effort to make it go away. This only worsened it.
Hands restrained him, two sets this time, and a new voice told him to lie still. It was a voice he remembered he was supposed to obey. The owner of it leaned closer and in the break from white he made out the face of Madame Pomfrey.
"Oh shit!" were the first words out of his mouth, saying them took a lot of energy, earning a disapproving frown from her and a dry chuckle from the other. He couldn't remember hearing that laugh before. He turned his head slightly, wincing at the pain in his neck, and looked at the man. Harder to see as he was standing further back, Harry made out his general outline by squinting. Only one professor looked like that, Snape. That explained why the laugh was so unfamiliar.
He really could expect the inquisition then. They knew, knew of his weakness. Snape knew. He thought he remembered Snape laughing at him for it, but then realised that had been in his dream. Now he would have a chance to sneer in real life.
"I'll hold him, you get him to drink." said the nurse. Harry was lifted slightly. He tried not to notice that it hurt.
A glass of water was pressed to his lips. He tried to drink, but it was too hard. Everything was so hard. The glass tipped and some of the cool liquid seeped into his mouth. It felt wonderful. He tried to swallow, but couldn't. Long fingers stroked across his throat, and in an involuntary reaction he swallowed.
He wanted to say thank you, but the words wouldn't come, his throat muscles weren't working properly. After two more sips the glass was withdrawn and he was lowered. Harry's eyes began to feel heavy again and he dozed lightly, still aware of the voices in the background.
"It's the spell to keep him quiet. I didn't want him moving and aggravating the breaks before they were mended so I impeded most of his motor functions. He also has a calming spell on him, though from his reaction to waking I would say it is starting to wear off." said Pomfrey.
"The headmaster is going to want to speak with him, I'll tell him that the boy's awake. He'll come as soon as he's finished that section of the wards." said Snape.
"He won't be in a fit state to talk until I take the spells off and give him some pain numbing potion."
"Then maybe you should start." That sounded more like the Snape Harry remembered, impatient and cutting.
Pomfrey came closer, muttering to herself. "Honestly, the check of the man, telling me how to treat my own patients. The boy's bones haven't even mended yet."
Harry opened his eyes as he sensed her nearing. She smiled reassuringly at him.
"Now Harry dear I'm going to give you a potion to help with the pain. You mustn't try and move or you could stop your arm or your ribs from healing, okay?" She helped him up, propping up pillows behind him. Harry ignored the taste of the vile mixture poured down his throat. It worked. He felt a lot better. It also made him feel very tired.
Harry wasn't sure how long he dozed before the voices grew louder. Madame Pomfrey was angry. He wasn't sure why but opened his mouth to tell her everything was fine. He couldn't speak again, this time due to the dryness of his throat. He opened his eyes. Still blurry, but now three dark blobs instead of two. That meant that Dumbledore was there.
He tried to move. Instantly Pomfrey rushed over to the bed.
"No. No. No!" she scolded. "What did I tell you about not moving?"
He was given some more water, and was able to swallow it by himself this time.
"Harry?" said Dumbledore. Harry looked in his general direction and squinted to try and make him out.
He heard a soft chuckle from the headmaster, then a spell, and his vision corrected itself. He could see! He blinked and looked around. The hospital wing. Why was he not surprised? Madame Pomfrey was hovering looking worried, Snape stood in the background looking dour. Dumbledore was right beside him now, with a kind smile on his face.
"Harry how are you feeling?" he inquired.
"Fine sir." was all Harry could think of to reply, his voice a little hoarse.
"Good, good." Dumbledore paused, searching for words, then obviously settled on the simplest choice. "Harry, what happened?"
Harry opened his mouth, then closed it again. How could he tell them? Just to say the words out loud would be betraying himself.
"Were there death eaters there, child?" the headmaster prompted.
Harry's thoughts immediately started speeding along at ten times the normal rate. Death eaters? Not unless Uncle Vernon had joined in secret. He certainly hated Harry enough. But no, he was just a muggle. Death eaters! They all thought death eaters had done this to him. They didn't know. They didn't know! Absolute relief swept through him. They didn't have to. He could tell them whatever he wanted. Whatever they wished to hear.
"Yes sir." he listened to his own voice speak as though from a great distance. He had to think fast, Dumbledore had said that he was protected at the Dursley's because of magic. So the death eaters wouldn't be able to come in. Hmmm. God, I'm such a good liar he marvelled as he continued. "They couldn't come into the house." he whispered, trying to put fear in his tone, it wasn't hard. "They were outside in the street. They were using bombs." Thank you Vernon for that idea, he thought bitterly. Seeing their confused faces, he clarified, "Muggle devices that explode. I was thrown backwards down the stairs. I landed badly on something sharp. That's all that I really remember."
Masterfully told. He mentally congratulated himself. Dumbledore looked concerned, Pomfrey was still worrying about him exerting himself. Snape looked puzzled.
"Why were you in a cupboard?" he questioned.
Damn. Should have remembered that, Snape is way to clever for his own good, thought Harry. He'd probably heard an awful lot of lies before. Oh well, improvisation time.
"Well they wanted to hide me from the death eaters in case they came back. They didn't dare to try and get help while they were still out there, so they had to wait till they left."
Snape just stared at him. He was starting to get a suspicious look on his face.
Please no, thought Harry. This is the truth, this is the truth. He tried to look innocent, dumb and traumatised. Most of it was real rather than acting.
Snape said nothing.
Dumbledore patted Harry's hand reassuringly and said "It will fine now Harry, you will have to stay at Hogwarts where we can keep and eye on you for the rest of the holidays though. I'll send someone to tell your relatives."
"No!" said Harry. Too fast. Snape's sharp gaze swung round to rest on him once more. "I mean, they already knew that someone would come for me, so we already said our goodbyes, and I wouldn't want to put them in further danger by someone going there and attracting attention."
Something in that must have made some sense for Dumbledore nodded.
"Well then Harry, get well as fast as you can, and I'll see you later." As he reached the door, he turned and added "Oh, and Harry, Happy Christmas."
Harry smiled. He was safe.