"He hated all this, and somehow he couldn't get away."
― Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Chapter One

Some may be critical; others may boldly insult or blatantly distrust the man. Despite the less then friendly glances from the students, other than the Slytherins of course, Professor Severus Snape marched proudly through the Great Hall towards his seat. Breakfast was already underway, and to his displeasure he had arrived at the most crowded time. The Hall was filled with several hundred hormonal brats. His only consolation were his bets on Quidditch with Minerva. Though, considering the desolate mood that had taken hold of the school, there was very little chance that Minerva, or anyone else, would be interested in lighter matters such as house points and Quidditch games.

A week had passed since the DA had revealed the Dark Lord's existance to the world. 'Just fantastic,' Severus glowered. His job was now harder than before. The Dark Lord was in a foul temper because of the failure at the Ministry. At the worst and best possible moment, Potter had finally managed to learn Occlumency and protect the prophecy from the Dark Lord.

Though the Potions Master would faster give a thousand points to Gryffindor than admit it, Severus wished that the boy had not needed to learn the advanced magic at all. Before, the boy's eyes had shone with emotion, whatever it may be. Now, even a smile from the annoying brat would have been preferable to the stone mask the child had worn since Black's death.

There was a month until summer holidays. The entire school seemed eager to stay out of Potter's way wherever he was around. It would have been comical watching the brave lions scamper off, too nervous to meet the boy's sullen gaze, if only his own Slytherins weren't busy doing the same. The Daily Prophet spoke non-stop about Potter these days, from his successes in defying the Dark Lord to his fight in the Department of Mysteries; his success at being an even match to Him.

The fact that Harry-bloody-Potter had managed to get the Dark Lord to back down, to give Him pause, had given hope to the British Magical Community, and as more reports came in, to magical communities the world over. Politicians were writing public apologies for turning a blind eye on Potter's words before. What they planned to achieve was lost on Severus, as he had witnessed Hermione Granger handing the buddle of expensive formal letters to her friend, only to have him drop them, unopened, into his soup after he had finished.

Severus gracefully took his seat. He saw Minerva's solemn look as she watched Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger having a heated discussion over the Silencio charm. Potter wasn't paying them the least bit of attention though. It seemed as though he was focused entirely on his meal. Snape would have mocked the brat another day, but not now, not today. Despite the power he had gained in the eyes of the public, Severus had never seen the teenager so vulnerable.

Potter had lost his godfather a week ago, and that must have taken some toll on him, but he had dozens of people fussing around him day and night. It wasn't as if he was going to be left alone to deal with his grief.

''I have never pitied the boy so much as I do now, Severus.'' Dumbledore's sudden presences almost made Snape jump. Almost.

''Why should I care?'' Severus responded with a raised eyebrow.

''Do not fool yourself, my boy. I know you see the same thing as I.'' There was no twinkle in the headmaster's gaze as he spoke. ''Harry has always had a pure heart. It is his most powerful quality over Voldemort, more than any magic he can ever perform.''

''I see no way in which Potter's hormones are going to scare the Dark Lord away.'' Severus replied skeptically. ''His emotions will only serve as weaknesses for the Dark Lord to exploit.''

''Yes and no. Harry's greatest quality is his kindness, a quality which has allowed others to put their trust in him, Severus. Despite all of the reports against Death Eater activity and all of the articles questioning his sanity in the past months, a group of students allowed him to train them, and then followed him into battle. Voldemort may not be frightened of an emotional teenager, but he would be a fool to discredit an powerful wizard whom thousands, dare I say millions, of people place their hope in.''

''Albus, it won't help Harry that people clap him on his back whilst hiding behind him.'' Minerva's angry brogue brought the two men out of their conversation.

''I do not say it would, Minerva. The ministry is finally being forced to take steps against the Dark Lord, and the official support of the Aurors will help greatly, but this does not change the view of Harry that the media is creating.''

The rest of the teachers listened to their argument and as it ended, so did the other conversations around the staff table. Severus slowly ate his food as he waited on the owls to deliver his Daily Prophet with the morning post.

Less than five minutes later, his copy of the Daily Prophet arrived. The only bizarre occurrence was that several hundred owls flew in though the grand windows, each carrying a copy of the Prophet. The students were rather overwhelmed by the amount of birds flying around, and in their excitement, fought to snag a copy of the paper so as to discover what had made so many parents send them in the first place. Even Potter acknowledged the odd presence of so many owls.

Severus felt uneasy as he unrolled the Prophet, expecting to find some violent attack caused by Death Eaters. His eyebrows rose when he saw the title of the article on the first page:

Harry Potter: A Boy Under the Stairs by Rita Skeeter

Severus glanced at the boy in question, noticing that he too had managed to get a copy of the Daily Prophet and was about to read it. He saw some students settling down to their reading, while other's noses were stuck to the page with wide eyes and gaping mouths.

Harry Potter, the fifteen year old student of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and savior to the wizarding world. Best known as the Boy-who-Lived, he is also regarded as a brave and powerful wizard. He is the Chosen One. He is the youngest seeker in over a century, and it is to him that we owe You-Know-Who's hesitation in walking freely among us. But who is this boy with glasses and a lightening scar?

'He is the Boy-Who-Lived,' I've heard witchs and wizards say, but between You-Know-Who's disappearance on that fateful Halloween night, and the first of September 1991, where exactly has our Savior been? I was rather surprised to find that I was the first to ask such a question. Did no one else care to know where Mr. Potter was when he wasn't saving us all? Or did it not matter, so long as he continued to do so? Uncovering the truth has been a long and time consuming endeavor, but it has also been a fruitful one.

In my journey to understand who Harry Potter is, I came to realize that I, nor any of you, have ever really known him.

While writing this article, I found myself hesitating. For the first time in my career I was unsure as to how to put down the proper words in order to convey the extent of my shock. Please understand, dear readers, that what you are about to read is not a horror novel. Rather, it is the reality that our champion has kept hidden for years.

I started my research by looking into Mr. Potter's official documentation, only to find that the information regarding his supposed relatives, with whom Harry lived and still lives during summer holidays (please remember this as you continue to read) was left blank. I quickly became frustrated with the lack of information, especially when most of it should have been a matter of public record. Everywhere I checked, from the ministry to Saint Mungo's, and even Hogwarts held less on Harry's home life than that of the elves that serve the school.

After analyzing the Ancient and Noble House of Potter, I became sure that the closest relatives the boy possessed were his second-cousins, the Blacks. Today, this included only a few: Bellatrix Lestrange, Andromeda Tonks, Narcissia Malfoy and the recently deceased Sirius Black who was proven innocent of all crimes after Peter Pettigrew was confirmed alive (see article on page 5).

Yet, it was immediately obvious that Harry Potter did not stay with any of these people. His godfather Sirius Black, and known Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange had both spent years in Azkaban. Andromeda Tonks nee Black, though she had turned her back on her family, had lived an open enough life that it was easy to know that Harry Potter had never stayed in her care. Lady Narcissa Malfoy had no contact with her estranged relative, though considering the involvement of her husband with You-Know-Who (see page 7) this was most likely for the best.

Once I realized James Potter's relatives were out of the question, I looked the other way, to Lily Potter nee Evans. Harry's mother was a muggleborn witch, and with the muggle records it was a simple matter to discover that she had an elder sister by the name of Petunia Dursley nee Evans. In the primary school closest to Mrs. Dursley's address, I found that Harry Potter had been register there with Mrs. Potter's sister acting as his guardian.

It was only when I felt that I had completed my task that I realized how little I knew.

What first aroused my suspicion was the attitude of one of the muggle teachers when I made mentioned of our young hero.

''Harry Potter? Oh, I remember him! How can one forget such a strange child? He was always a trouble maker. I heard he was placed in a re-educating facility.'' the woman informed me with distaste.

Though I was aware that the secret of our magic must be kept, her response confused me. I implored her, ''Mrs Hengen, could you elaborate on what you mean by strange and trouble maker?''

''He was just odd. Strange things would happen with him around. When he was upset the weather instantly changed with his mood. Sometimes objects around my classroom just switched places in a matter of seconds. I still don't know how that little devil did it. And once he- once he just appeared on the school roof. I cannot imagine how the boy could even think of doing something so irresponsible. What's more, he refused to say how he did it. An insolent brat he was, and I was not surprised in the least when his Uncle informed us that he had been locked up for being involved with a gang. I probably shouldn't say this, but his cousin always called him freak, and although I realize that it is hardly appropriate, I can see where he was coming from.''

I left this muggle to her musing, though what she described as Harry's accidental magic made me curious. How often was the boy in an emotional state strong enough to cause such magic to manifest? Or was it showing the extent of his powers? I had gathered enough material to write my article, but this description of Harry Potter simply didn't match what we know of him.

I decided to hold onto my article. I began to search for more, but I never expected how quickly new information would start to come my way.

I met another teacher at the same primary school who offered a different perspective of Mr. Potter.

''He was a quiet and shy child. He excelled in his studies in the first semester at our school, and then his grades fell to just above passing. I never understood why. We had planned to offer to move the boy a grade or two up, but his aunt wouldn't even hear of it. After the Christmas holidays that year, Harry came back so very sullen, but there was little we could do.''

When I told her I didn't understand her next response almost caused me to lose grasp on my quill.

''I suspected for years, but there was never any proof. I even sent Harry to the school nurse (a muggle mediwitch). He looked too thin, but there was nothing to go on from. When I asked, he never answered. That little one was so good at changing the subject. I wish I had done more, but what's done is done.''

''I still don't understand why you felt the need to give Harry a medical examination?'' I pressed on, for I knew this old woman hadn't told me everything. The look in her eyes said there was much more to the story.

Even with all of my instincts as a reporter, I could not have predicted her next words.

''I suspected abuse and neglect. If you had seen the way Dudley (Harry Potter's muggle cousin of the some age) treated him, it was obvious there was something wrong going on it that house. I've seen sibling rivalry before, but this was just outward cruelty. Harry was openly bullied by Dudley and his friends. I had to separate several fights between the two, and every single time it was initiated by his cousin. Harry didn't have any friends.

"I remember the very first day, when the children were meeting each other, Dudley chased away any child that came near his cousin, and the situation only continued throughout the years. Harry never had anyone. You know he has glasses? I had to threaten his aunt with social services before she took him to get a good prescription. She always told everyone how troublesome her nephew was, but I remember that boy's expression when he sat alone. I've never seen a child looking so…lost.''

My head spun with this new information. Can you compare a shy frail boy sitting in the corner against the confident wizard who faced the Darkest Wizard of our times barely a week ago? In my search for answers, I only found more questions. Suddenly I too felt lost. I knew I was on the verge of uncovering the truth, and that I had begun to bring to light a secret that most likely would have remained hidden otherwise.

I spent two days wandering around the home of Harry's relatives, until I met the third and final person I would interview for this article: Dudley Dusley.

I must admit that I was not sure what to expect. Mr. Dursley is quite tall and of a sturdy build. I learned that he practices fist fighting until the other opponent is close to unconsciousness, or past it, as a hobby. A barbaric muggle sport called boxing. As I introduced myself, he gave me a weary glance and asked if I was ''one of those freaks''. When I told him that I wished to learn more about Harry Potter's home life, his answer was rather more direct that I expected.

''The only thing you need to know is this: if any of you freaks give a damn about him, you should make sure he never comes back here.''

When I urged him to elaborated, he told me one of the most heart breaking stories I have ever heard.

Who is Harry Potter? One may answer a hero. Another may say a boy, a teenager of no more than fifteen. I will allow his cousin's words to direct you to my conclusion.

''My parents never wanted Harry. They called him a freak and unnatural. They made him work around the house doing the cooking, cleaning, washing, the gardening - everything really, before he was five. He never owned anything. All his clothes were my old ones and they didn't fit him at all. He had no toys. He didn't even have a room and I had two. They made him feel like shit.

"My dad would always congratulate me when I beat him up. My mum hated to touch him. If he was sick, he was locked away in his 'room' until he got better. My parents never spent a penny on him. My mum would hit him with a pan when he did something strange. My dad have never hit him, at least not that I ever saw, but he would abuse him verbally. This happened every single day for years.

My parents hated him even more because he refuses to crumble. He comes back here every summer to basically become a slave, getting little food and being forced to do chores from dawn to sunset. Every single day he was mistreated. On Christmas, he would get a broken pencil while I got dozens of new toys. No one ever mentioned his birthday, and mine were always big parties with loads of presents.

His… ability is probably the only thing that saved his life. I broke his arm once, like it really looked broken. Dad threw him into his cupboard without even a pain killer. The next day it was healed, and they didn't give him food for a week because of it. Once, he just disappeared when we were chasing him around the school. It was so fast like blinking- poof- and he was gone. Maybe if my parents hadn't informed him a hundred times a day that magic didn't exist, he would have found a way to fly away or something.

You want to know the worst part? Few months ago, I was attacked by a demon-thingy (A dementor! See page 12 on Harry Potter's trial last year) from your world. It happened just after I called Potter's mum some really nasty things, but still he saved my life while risking his own. That's the type of person Harry is, it's how my parents conditioned him. Harry just saves everyone he can, probably because he knows what it's like not to be saved.''

These next words are not directed to the public, but I promised to publish them regardless.

''If you see Harry, tell him I am sorry for everything. It's completely lame, but he can't come back. My dad slapped him and threw him to the street just because a thing from your world attacked me, even though he was the one that saved me. If he values his life, he can't come back here. I don't get how no one figured it out before.

"I know he is secretive. He's a bloody good liar, and manipulative too. He had to be living here, but the letter from your freak school was addressed to a 'Cupboard Under the Stairs!" Actually, that letter was the only reason why Harry finally got an actual room. My parents were scared that others would find out how they were treating him.''

I posed one final question for Mr. Dursley. ''What do you think about his magic?''

''He's a weirdo that's for sure, but he didn't deserve what he got from us because of it. Actually, it's like my parents tried to beat the magic out of him, and I think they succeeded.'' Duddley Dusley continued, stating that, ''When I think of it, the older he got, the less stuff happened. I think he learned how to control it after a while, even if he didn't realize it. When he was little; he could just do anything, and I hated him for it. He was fast and strong despite how little he ate. His injuries, don't think the broken bone was a one-time thing, just healed. He regrew his hair once after mum cut it short. Sometimes he would even say things that would happen later on. Do all freaks do that?''

Where should I begin? Should I start with the fact that Harry Potter could apparate at the age of five, or that as a child he performed healing magic, one of the most complicated areas of magic there is, daily? Or should we focus on the image of a half-starved child from earlier being hit with a metal pan for accidental, or dare I say wandless, magic that he used to save his own life. Perhaps Mr. Potter possesses the potential for divination and metamorphmagus abilities, or it could be another manifestation of the ancient wandless magic that we know so little of today. Which is more shocking? Harry Potter- master of wandless magic, or Harry Potter- the house elf of his muggle family?

Again I ask, who is Harry Potter? To me, he is a child whom authorities of both the muggle and wizarding worlds have failed completely in protecting. He is a savior who knows nothing of being safe. I also have to ask, where was the Hogwarts staff? Why didn't the teachers notice that he never went home for Christmas? Where was Dumbledore in all of this? Where was the ministry? Why did Harry never speak up?

I leave you, dear readers, with one final question. How long will Mr. Potter be willing to fight for us when we were never willing to fight for him?

Read my next article in tomorrow's issue: Harry Potter - The boy we forgot.

For the first time in many years, Severus Snape's cool and impassive mask crumbled. It didn't help that on the next page there were two photos of Harry from his muggle primary school. His clothes were too big, his face was too gaunt, his dark hair was too messy, and those green eyes - Lily's eyes - where guarded and unreadable. What made dread install itself is his gut were the smiling happy faces of children all around, while Potter looked forgotten in the background.

The previously chaotic Great Hall was stunned into silence. No one dared to speak. Some students had already finished the article, while many more where still reading. The only difference was that some were gaping at Potter in shock, while others were gaping at the paper.


This story was betaed by xXFor-The-Love-Of-FandomXx