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 6: Living with Legends
Severus had managed to spoil every potion he attempted that day through distraction and inattentiveness. He added the wrong ingredients, he stirred the wrong way, he let the mixture boil too long due to the fact that he was glaring into the distance. Or at the door to the living room.
Harry Potter was sitting on his sofa. Breathing his air. When he'd agreed to this with Albus he hadn't realised how difficult it would be to have someone invading his space. These rooms had always been a sanctuary for him when the outside world became too much, now they were likely to provide more stress than he would find out of them. And he was forced to stay near the source of his displeasure, unable to leave it, forced to protect it.
He had been rather surprised at the lack of noise coming from the main room all day. When he had returned to it, he had been relieved to find that Potter preferred doing nothing to destroying Snape's property.
Finally finishing cleaning up the lab, he could not think of any other ways he could put off entering the other room. He steeled himself. After all, they were his chambers. He would not be driven out.
Snape cautiously seated himself on the free end of the sofa. He really did prefer the boy asleep. He was so much less aggravating. It was harder to think of Potter with such hatred when he wasn't conscious though.
He picked up a book on experimental techniques for preparing rare potions components, and asked for a plate of biscuits from the house elves. As he ate them, he glanced suspiciously over at the boy. If Harry should wake and see him eating cookies he would undoubtedly be ridiculed. Not that he cared.
Severus became so engrossed in his book that a couple of hours passed before he looked up again. He had completely forgotten that Harry was there. He thought that maybe it wasn't so bad having him there, if he stayed as unobtrusive as he had so far. When the boy was silent he wasn't bad company at all. It was almost nice having someone there, keeping the other end of the couch warm, evidence that he wasn't alone in the universe.
As though Snape's thoughts had provoked some malicious sense of timing in the other occupant of the room, Harry stirred.
Snape looked down at him in horror. He had just been starting to relax, and now the boy would wake up and harass him. A frown settled over his face. He'd have to see about that. Severus began to compose several sarcastic witticisms which would cut the boy down to size.
Harry's restless movements increased.
Snape's imagined remarks grew more harsh.
Every demeaning comment about the boy's parentage flew right out of his head when Harry screamed. Severus jumped to his feet. It was a piercing, agonised sound which could be caused only by the worst kind of pain imaginable.
Convinced that the boy was experiencing the Cruciatus curse, Snape quickly kneeled on the floor beside him and grabbed his shoulders. He looked about the room frantically, but no one else was there, and he could detect no invisibility charms. But how could they cast the curse from a distance, it was impossible.
Harry was writhing now and digging his own fingernails into his palms so hard that blood trickled over his hands.
Severus shook him frantically, knowing that external stimuli could sometimes help the victim to deal with the pain.
Harry opened his eyes and stopped screaming.
He immediately lurched backwards and tumbled off the arm of the sofa, then crawled backwards to the corner of the room, where he huddled into a shivering ball. Snape slowly approached and crouched beside him, touching a shoulder gently. The boy's head raised jerkily. His eyes appeared to be having trouble focusing and he looked straight through Snape. He was displaying all of the aftershocks caused by Cruciatus.
Severus left the boy, hurrying to the stores in his lab and grabbing two bottles, then returned.
Harry was still in the same position, though the shuddering did seem to be calming slowly. Snape tried to get him to take the calming potion, but Harry wouldn't uncurl. So the professor sat down next to him with his back against the wall and hauled the boy's head and shoulders round till they rested in his lap. The eyes still wouldn't look at him, flickering randomly. He held Harry's chin firmly in one hand, then poured the potion down his throat quickly. Next was a relaxation potion. Before the tremors calmed fully and Harry's eyes became clear once more, he heard the boy muttering to himself.
"Swore that I wouldn't scream. So weak. Couldn't even stop that. Shouldn't have screamed. So stupid." in soft, slurred voice.
Then Harry finally looked at him in recognition. Scooting backwards till his back was also against the wall he developed a look of trepidation.
"What just happened, Potter?" Snape asked, not fully understanding the events of the past few minutes.
"I had a nightmare?" Harry's tone was one that invited Snape to make up another explanation.
"It sounded like..." Snape bit off what he had been about to say. He forced himself to sound considerate. "What was it about?"
That really pissed Severus off. There he was, making an effort, trying to be nice to the boy, and he got a shrug. The brat had no manners at all.
"Was it a nightmare about how tiring your perfect life is, about being buried under mountains of fanmail, about being idolised and adored. I'm sure it must be so hard for you." Snape couldn't help it, the words just came. Potter brought out the worst in him.
"That's all you think about isn't it, you're just like Ron," said Harry sadly. Then, "If you must know, it was a dream about this war. I have them quite often."
Snape stared, still smarting from being compared to anyone as insufferable as the Weasley, but beginning to think that now the truth would come out.
Harry continued. "And there was this sheep, right, and he had this umbrella. and he was shaking it, and then the coconut shells started falling. And the other sheep had cannons, and lasers, and paper aeroplanes. It was so scary I couldn't take it. And then you woke me, and I thought you were one of them. Sorry sir." he said with utter seriousness. Then he laughed wildly.
Snape trembled with rage. Potter dared to mock him. Lie to him.
"Get out of my sight Potter." he yelled.
"Aye, Aye sir, happy to oblige." came the forced chirpy reply.
Harry tried to get up. He moved slowly, as though very stiff, but he shouldn't be if he had used Pomfrey's salve, thought Severus. He supported himself on the wall for a second, then started to walk away. He didn't get very far.
Snape, watching Potter's retreat with a scathing glare which he regretted the boy couldn't see, noticed the boy seemed unstable on his feet. Harry wavered, swayed, then fell. Much as he would have enjoyed watching James' son crack his head open on the floor tiles, it wouldn't do anyone any good, and so he lunged forward and caught him. The boy appeared to have fainted.
He carried the prone body to the couch, and summoned a glass of water to throw over his head. Just as he was about to do so, he spotted something which the boy's fringe had previously concealed. The famous scar. It was bleeding. Severus reached out and ran his index finger over it, looking at the blood in shock. He remembered something that Albus had once told him, that through his scar Potter was linked to Voldemort, and felt his presence and magic. He looked down at the boy's hands again, and saw where the blood trailed from self inflicted wounds.
Sheep indeed, he thought to himself, it was Cruciatus. The satisfaction of knowing that he had been right was significantly diminished by what he had been right about. What had Potter whispered as he woke? That he had sworn not to scream. And he said he had the dreams often, though that may have also been a lie, Snape suddenly didn't think so.
He had nightmares himself, fairly often, and usually on the same subject, but he never actually felt the pain. He had never woken screaming like that. For the first time, Snape looked upon Harry Potter with not hatred, but pity.
He had lost his place in his book.
The spell Severus had set to inform him of when Potter woke up was the only indication he had that the boy had done so. He watched as the form next to him remained perfectly still, and breathed with the regularity usually only found in unconsciousness. It was a masterful act. He took a sip of his coffee and turned the page. As he looked seemingly intently at his book, he saw Harry's eyes open from the corner of his own. No further movement. Finally he put the book down and turned to face the boy. Harry was staring at him, and seemed to be trying to work up the courage to say something. Snape lifted an eyebrow. It was enough.
"Sir, I'd like to apologise for my behaviour earlier, I'm sorry for all that I said and did."
Now that caught Severus off his guard. Potter apologising to him! He spluttered for a movement then collected himself.
"It was no trouble." Somehow he managed to make it sound like there was no possible way Potter would ever be significant enough to cause him trouble yet at the same time that he had been so much trouble that he shouldn't be apologising but shooting himself. He congratulated himself on the effect, Harry went quite pale, before he remembered that he didn't want to crush the boy's attempts at politeness. Humility should be encouraged. And the Potter boy had enough troubles on his plate anyway. So he did not follow up with the other cutting remark he had held in reserve. He turned back to his book.
A few minutes later. "Were you planning on eating tonight, Mister Potter? It is past eight you know."
"Ummm," came the reply, "I'll have whatever your having."
Snape rolled his eyes. "What if I told you I was planning on giraffe eyes stuffed with eel guts served with a pepper and shredded porcupine tail garnish?"
Harry stared at him disbelievingly.
Snape sighed, "I am not, however, planning on eating anything. So you order whatever you want and don't be too loud."
At the lack of action from beside him, Severus turned. The boy was half sitting, wrapped in the blanket laid over him, with his hands in his lap. He was gazing fixedly at them.
Probably wondering if the cuts he made will leave scars, thought Snape. As though he felt the weight of the professor's unspoken question, Harry said, "I'm not hungry thanks."
Snape doubted that. Boys were always hungry. And Pomfrey had said that he was very underweight. So he levelled one of his inescapable stares, which had never yet failed to produce results, at Potter. Harry seemed to be holding out for a minute, but then he caved.
"I haven't got my wand." he muttered.
The stare continued, though now it was also one of shock.
"What did you do for lunch?" Why hadn't the boy told anyone it wasn't with him, they could have gone back and fetched it.
"I wasn't hungry then either." Now Snape was getting suspicious.
"We can go and get it..."
"No," said Harry, obviously in get distress, "It's broken anyway."
Snape looked at him sharply.
"I sat on it." he explained. The look stayed trained on him, not even Potter could be that clumsy. Neville might have managed it. "When the death eaters were there, I fell on it and it snapped." That sounded far too much like an excuse.
"Hmmm." He summoned a house elf to get food for the boy.
Severus retired to his bedroom so that Harry could sleep. The boy wasn't quite as obnoxious as he had imagined, he decided. Certainly, he had more problems than Snape had thought. Perhaps the boy's life was not so perfect as he had believed it.
He knew that Albus would want him to go and get the pieces of Potter's wand tomorrow so that it could be mended. Expertly, not like the awful and hazardous case of the Weasley boy in his second year. He wondered what the headmaster would do to occupy the boy during the day. Then dismissed the thought.
He fell asleep trying to clear the vision of Potter's bleeding scar from his mind.