I promise in advance that anything I write here is not going to mess up progression on my other piece I Did Nothing. This is not by any stretch a replacement fic and the other one is definitely not abandoned, it's just this came into my mind and was messing with my work on the I Did Nothing. So I wrote it up. Warnings in advance: Suicidal ideation, Suicidal attempt/s, depression, child abuse, potential self harm and pretty darn dark things like that. If you think you will be triggered please don't read, but if I think there is a specific trigger in a chapter I will put a specific bold trigger warning in them because I'm nice like that.
As per usual, all reviews are very much appreciated and a huge motivation to keep writing! *hint hint*
Trigger warning: Suicide attempt
Loud persistent banging on my door at some godforsaken time in the morning is never a good sign. In fact, in these dark and troubled times it would usually be classed as an exceptionally bad sign. It is either a sign that something has gone really, really wrong or otherwise a sign that whichever students are engaging in that particular activity are going to be in one hell of a lot of trouble. If I'm honest, part of me is severely tempted to just roll over and ignore it but I can't for several reasons. Firstly, the last time this happened Arthur Weasley was an inch from death and only the quick actions of students and staff alike saved him. Secondly, my students would have to be fools beyond imagination or belief to disturb me at this sort of time without a startlingly good reason and thirdly because joining the bangings of fists against my door is a chorus of voices shouting 'Professor' and 'Please' in a cacophony of voice that could wake the dead. I recognise those voices.
With several mumbled curses I stagger out of bed, grabbing my tartan robe from the side as I do so and fitting my feet into equally tartan slippers. By the sounds of the ruckus outside my door, this is not an appropriate time to shuffle around looking for a decent set of clothing or careful tying of my bun. As I stagger to the door I feel the increasingly present tightening of my chest; my ever present reminder of the tenure of one of our more unpleasant colleagues and one of the many occasions I have been grateful in recent years for the curse on that particular post. Or so I tell myself at least as I wince. It can't be fear starting to tighten its grip on me, although with everything that's happening now that would not be an unreasonable reaction I suppose.
I swing the door open, ignoring the fact that my portrait has sulkily moved over to this side of the door in order to avoid the pounding on the other side. It's no great surprise to find Granger and Weasley outside; this was bound to have something to do with Potter, most unexpected things do. I have a great deal of affection for the boy but it is an unavoidable fact that chaos follows him like goblins follow galleons. It's more of a shock to find the entire gaggle of sixth year boys standing there in varying states of dishevelment and barely restrained hysteria. All of them except one. Before I can say a word Granger speaks and there is no mistaking the fear and panic that lie closely behind her words.
"Professor, it's Harry. You have to find him. Please. Please, Professor. You have to find him."
For a fraction of a section I feel an extreme irritation that I have been awakened due to a simple case of a student out of bed, even if it is Potter. But whatever words I was going to say to that effect die in my throat as I look around the rag tag group of students in front of me. Tears are falling down Granger's face without her seeming to even notice them, I could count the freckles that are standing out on Weasley's face and Longbottom is so pale he looks about to faint. Finnigan and Thomas don't look much better. They all look like terrified children, rather than the sixteen year olds they are. My chest tightens sharply.
I'm interrupted again, this time by Weasley stumbling forward clutching a piece of parchment in his hands. Hands which are shaking alarmingly. He looks at me beseechingly as he holds it and I take it from him slowly. In that look I can see his fear, his helplessness, and his need for me to fix whatever is wrong.
By the time I am two lines in my heart is beating erratically and I start the staff alarm going with a shaky movement of my wand. By three lines in I've upped that alarm to one of the highest priority calls and added both my personal signature as well as the signature of Deputy Headmistress. That alarm will wake every member of staff up and is a call that we very rarely have to use. I have effectively used the 'all staff to my quarters, student in danger'. As I keep reading I add the extra harsh charms that should bring everybody running; 'Mortal danger. Student down. Medical assistance required.' If that doesn't move them; nothing will. That should merit a firecall to St. Mungo's for extra hands in case they are required from Poppy.
"Well!? Aren't you going to do something!?"
Finnigan's words break through my haze as I stare at the letter in my hands. A letter I never thought I would be reading. A letter that has shaken me to my core.
Dear Ron and Hermione
I'm so so sorry for leaving this burden to you but I don't have anyone else. I don't know if I even still have you. But I'm sorry I couldn't tell you, I'm sorry that this is going to hurt you so much, I never wanted to hurt you.
"I just have," I respond shakily, not even registering the lack of respect in the teenagers tone or words. Now is not the time. "I cannot do anything on my own, we have an entire castle to search. I have sent a full scale alarm out to all staff. They should be here shortly." A thought crosses my mind briefly, hopefully. "Unless you know where he is?"
By the time you read this I will be dead.
A harsh, helpless laugh erupts from Weasley.
"He took the map and his cloak. He could be anywhere and we can't even see him!" His tone is harsh but it's due to the desperation and helplessness I can see in his face. Damn Albus to hell for giving the boy that cloak.
"Please, Professor. You have to find him," Granger sobs.
I'm sorry. I'm not a saviour, I'm not a hero, I'm not the golden boy and I can't be the boy-who-lived anymore. I'm not even a good friend. If I was I wouldn't be writing this, I wouldn't be thinking this, I wouldn't have lied to you. I am sorry. So so sorry.
The words I have read are resonating through my mind like a badly tuned tuning fork, shattering my heart with their implications. I have no idea where the boy has gone and I have no idea how we are going to find him. Part of me desperately hopes that this is just a bid for attention, but I don't think it is. He could have done that any time in the last two years when everything seemed to turn against him and we sat back and let the world bay for his blood. He could have tried a sympathy bid then. He didn't. I don't think he's joking. But I have no idea how to find him. There are hundreds of rooms in the castle, some which I don't even know of. There's the outside grounds. There's the lake, the forest, the Quidditch Pitch, the courtyard, the Astronomy Tower. How are we going to find an invisible child who could be dying as I stand here? But I can't tell these kids that. I'm the only hope they have left.
I'm sorry. I know I keep saying it, but that's because I need you to know it's true. I can't do this anymore and if I'd have told anyone you'd have tried to stop me. I can't allow that. This is the end. I can't hold on anymore. I can't be what everyone expects me to be. I can't be the one they hate or adore because of this jagged scar on my head. I can't be the pawn or the saviour. I can't cope anymore.
The staff start to arrive in a hurried rush in various states of undress and dishevelment; even Severus is moving more quickly than his usual slow, careful stride. It's not often that call is sent out and it isn't one that's taken lightly, even Binns should be down at some point and he pays attention to virtually nothing. The looks on the faces range from confusion to concern and I suddenly don't know what to say, I have no idea how to explain the crushing fear that has taken over my chest, that's making it so difficult to say.
Filius is the first to speak as he looks at me sharply and then at the group of panicked teenagers huddled in front of my door.
"Minerva, what's wrong? What's the emergency?"
Please try not to hate me for what I've done. I never meant to hurt you. I never meant to cause you pain. I just want it all to stop; I need it all to end. Please don't blame yourselves; you could not have stopped this, you could have done nothing to prevent me from dying and if I didn't do it tonight it would be tomorrow, or the day after. I can't hold on anymore, I am not strong enough. Please don't judge me too harshly.
I can see the concern glinting in the smaller man's eyes as he looks at me. I shake my head wordlessly and just hand the letter over to the Charms Master. I don't know how to say how far we have failed this sixteen year old boy who has chosen death over life, I don't know how to say how slim a chance we have at finding him before it's too late. I watch Filius' face as it moves from confusion at just being handed a letter, to concern, to comprehension and when he looks back up I can see the fear that mirrors my own feelings exactly. He takes charge, slamming the letter into the hands of Severus as he casts Sonurus on himself.
"We need to find Harry Potter. He's going to…" he stops hesitantly before closing his eyes and building his resolve. "He's disappeared and left a suicide note."
I've tried to be strong for so long. I've tried to be the saviour. I saved the stone, I saved Ginny, I saved Sirius. But I killed Cedric by my actions and I killed Sirius by my stupidity. I've been strong for too long and now I'm broken. I'm broken and I'm shattered and I can't be the saviour Dumbledore needs. I can't do it. I can't even save myself. Give me something good, something precious, something valuable, unique or special and I will break it. Love me, care for me, protect me or comfort me and I will destroy you. I will break you. I may love you but I will still break you.
"The idiot boy won't do anything," the snide drawl of Severus comes from the side of the hallway. "He's just an attention seeking brat looking for the attention."
"No, he's not Professor!" The voice of Granger rises through the deafening chaos around us. "He's not! He's not been right since…since…Sirius."
Her voice cracks on the last word and I realise suddenly she is completely right and who could blame him. The boy was run through a gauntlet of horrors for four years, watched another boy die, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named come back from the dead, was derided and hated for another year and then watched the death of a man he loved dearly. And he felt it was his fault. Why did none of us see him? Why did none of us approach him and ask? How didn't we see this coming? How did we miss so much
I know I'm not worth anything. I am nothing. The only thing I'm good at it causing chaos and destruction. You look at me but don't see me. Only Professor Snape sees what I really am. You look at me and see something worth saving. There isn't anything left, I don't know if there ever was. I've hung on because I didn't want to hurt you, I didn't want to cause you so much pain, so much guilt. I can't hold on anymore. I don't want to and I can't.
I find my voice suddenly as I glare death at Severus.
"Is that really a conversation to be having now, Severus?" I snap angrily. "If you're right, you're right. If you're wrong we have a boy who could be bleeding to death at this very moment. Are you willing to take that risk? Are you willing to have that death on your conscience?" He pales as he recognising what I'm saying. Despite appearances to the contrary on occasions the man does have a brain. "We need to find him!"
"But how are we going to do that?" Poppy asks in dismay, not noticing the way the teenagers seem to curl up on themselves. "He could be anywhere…""
Tell me something I don't know.
"We split up and search every wing of the castle top to bottom as well as the outside grounds," I say briskly ignoring the fear in my heart. "We will find him, we have to find him." I look at Filius. "Filius you take the ground, the Point-Me charm will work much better outside in the open and you are the most proficient."
Please tell Professor McGonagall not to blame herself; it's not her fault, it's mine. I could have gone to her but didn't, I could have asked for help right from first year, but didn't. I hid everything from her; she can't blame herself. That wouldn't be fair. It's not your faults either, either of you. I promise you that. And apologise to Professor Dumbledore for me would you? I can't do what he needs, I can't be what he needs. I'm just not strong enough.
As members of staff start moving off in small groups to start the impossible task of searching an entire castle before one boy kills himself, the Weasley boy lets out a triumphant shout and I turn around to see what's excited him so much.
"The house elves," he gasps excitedly to my complete confusion, but Granger seems to understand what he's getting at. "DOBBY!" he shouts without any warning. "DOBBY! HARRY NEEDS YOU!"
Just when I'm trying to figure out whether the stress and worry has actually managed to send the youngster insane and what to do about it an astonishing figure appeared out of nowhere right in front of my feet. I say astonishing because I have never seen so many socks on a creature so small and frankly they all clashed with the hideous jumper he was wearing or the tea cozy on his head.
"Harry's Weezy calls Dobby?" the elf said squeakily looking in obvious bemusement at the rather random array of teachers and staff cluttering up the hallway. He looks around closely. "Where is Dobby's friend Harry Potter? The Weezy hasn't left his Harry has he?"
I'm sorry for all the promises I made that I couldn't keep. I'm sorry for all the lies that I have told and all the people who have been hurt by them. I'm sorry. That's all I can say. And yet, I know it can never be enough. I'm sorry for all the times I've dragged those of you I care about into my world of chaos, pain and hurt. I'm sorry for all the times when because of me, you ended up in the firing line, you ended up being hurt.
"Harry is in grave danger, Dobby," Ron says quickly. "He might be dying. He will die if we don't save him."
The little elf gasps in horror and starts jumping around distractedly in clear and obvious distress. I note that Weasley is actually subtle enough not to mention why Potter might be dying and wonder how close an attachment this elf has formed to my student. And again, how I was completely unaware of it.
"No! Master Potter must not die! Harry Potter can't leave his Weezey. Where is Harry Potter?"
"That's what we don't know, Dobby," Ron explains breathlessly and I wonder where he's going with this. What can one elf do? "Can the house elves help us look, Dobby? Will they do that? There's more of them than us and we need to search every room for Harry." He looks at the small creature searchingly then adds as an afterthought. "He might be invisible as well."
This didn't seem to faze the creature who started jumping up and down excitedly.
"Dobby will find Harry Potter. Dobby will get all the elves to help. Weezey wait here."
He cracks off immediately and I am starting to understand. Nobody, not even Albus, knows how many elves we have in the castle. If every one of them can search…the Weasley boy may well be a genius.
I'm sorry, I'm through.
Suddenly the hall is filled with thousands of small creatures cracking in and out of view as Dobby seems to be giving orders to them then pointing at me. If it hadn't have been so serious I would have found it funny, never in my life would I have thought to see an army of house elves. I certainly wouldn't have thought to enlist their help.
After minutes that seemed like hours there was another sharp crack and an elf almost landed on my feet.
"Cora has found the young Master," it squeaks at me. "Master is not in good shape, Cora is sorry for being so slow, Cora will iron her fingers."
"Never mind about that," I say impatiently. "Can you take us to him?" I indicate myself, Poppy and Severus both of whom have summoned their respective kits.
"Cora can take you. No other Master will get in without help. Young Master has refused entry. Cora can though."
I sigh in relief as I grab the completely shell shocked form of Poppy Pomfrey who has been staring in amazement at the complete chaos of small bodies around the corridor along with Severus who is now looking very pale indeed. Apparently he really believed his previous words and now they've come back to bite him. I have little sympathy or patience. We need to get to the boy.
I love you. Please don't hate me.
Harry James Potter
As soon as I've grabbed them the small form cracks us all out of the hallway with a feeling disconcertingly like apparition but distinctly, nauseatingly different. And then suddenly we're in a room I don't recognise. It has a huge bath in the middle of it but I can't see Potter anywhere. I look at the elf questioningly.
"Cora thinks this room is called the Room of Requirement. Young Master is in the bath."
We all move towards the huge tub and my heart is in my mouth. I can't believe I'm doing this. I can't believe one of my students has done this. I can't believe the boy who I have come to love for himself rather than as Lily's son could be lying dead in that bath. I don't want to do this. I can hear my ragged breathing and the similar sounds coming from the two beside me. Severus has seem much death, but never on school property. Never one he has so much to blame himself for. Less than me perhaps though. Less than me.
I see the blood before I see the boy.
Please don't be dead. Please let us save you. Please don't be dead.
I drop to my knees retching as Poppy and Severus rush forwards as once. He's one of mine. One of mine did this to himself and I didn't stop him. I didn't notice. I did nothing.
Please Harry, please don't be dead.