Harry Potter sat in his cupboard under the stairs, tears streaming down his fever-flushed cheeks, struggling to pull himself together after another night in the Dursley home. His uncle had done it again, had beaten him until he could hardly move, but he hadn't rejected it. His left arm was broken in several places, and his right wrist was as well. His legs were bloodied up, his thighs covered in welts from the belt. His back hurt the worst though- there were scabs reopened and new fresh wounds that he knew would get infected like the rest of them from the whip. Several fingers and his nose were also broken, and he had trouble breathing because of it.
But tonight, Uncle Vernon did something he's never done before. And Merlin, it hurt, it hurt so bad. His arse was sore and leaking semen from when his Uncle had taken his virginity hours earlier. He was so scared and felt so violated. His Uncle had said it was a going back to school present before shoving him back in the dusty, spider-infested cupboard.
Flashes of colors, vomit greens I'm gonna be sick- are the last thing he sees before it all goes dark again in his tiny prison cell.
He knew he deserved it. Harry felt that it was only fair, after all, he had caused the death of his parents and Sirius. It still may not be punishment enough. At least, that's what everyone, trusted and untrusted by him alike, seem to keep telling him.
If not when he was awake, in his dreams.
He kind of felt tired of it all. Harry didn't see a point in anything he was doing. Defeating Voldemort seemed especially pointless. All he wanted was a family, and true, Voldemort denied him many options at having a family, not by just killing his parents, but by making him famous. He was scared no one would love him for who he really was. The Dursley's certainly didn't help with that fear.
He was tired of being mad, and after a long period of four years, he decided that he shouldn't cry over spilled milk, even if it was his parents that it was spilled over.
It only gets you beatings.
Of course, no one else new about that. Now he was just kind of sad. He knew he was denied possibly a life that maybe Severus Snape expected him to have. He couldn't blame the man, he believed anything Dumbledore told him, and the old coot had a manipulative streak.
But, in reality, he felt like anyone he ever loved died. His parents, Sirius, even Cedric Diggory, who was his short-lived friend from the Tri-Wizard Tournament from just the last year.
It all just comes back around to being ungrateful. He should have been more grateful to have parents, to have a godfather, to have at least one true friend.
Well, that wasn't entirely true.
George and Fred Weasley, while knowing nothing, had loved Harry, which Harry knew, as Harry was sensitive to the magic of love. He could feel it. He knew true love, and that's why he let his guard down when he found it. But that just get's everyone killed. He hoped that the fiery haired twins would not have the same fate, for they were all he really had.
But then he also had no one. No one knew the secrets he kept.
And that was what Harry thought about every time he was beaten, refused food, and stuffed back into the dark cupboard until it was time to head to King's Cross Station.
How he had no one to save him.
Harry was beyond relieved to be back on the Hogwarts Express. He was in so much pain, his arse hurt, and his back stung, but he was leaving, and that's what mattered. And, so no one knew, he had glamours on to hide his hideous skin. They came naturally, his magic soothing him, having healed what it could as soon as Vernon let him be, to make up for what it could not do.
He didn't talk at all. Not when Ron and Hermione came into the train car, not when Malfoy came to pester them, and not when he was poked and prodded at by the three of them. He just stared ahead, flinching as Malfoy poked a sore spot. Eventually, Harry just picked at a piece of thread stringing from his brown, ratty pants, picking, picking, picking. When that thread broke he picked at the seats, just picking, picking for something to do.
He was surprised with how much he trusted them, even Malfoy. Everything was different now. Beatings, yeah, he got them pretty often. But rape? That was another new and entirely horrible chapter of his life that he needed time to get over before he even thought of speaking to them like everything was normal and okay.
Even so, he thinks that all three of them are relatively harmless, told by their auras. Ron's was grayish, Hermione's a lighter gray. He wished that they were white, he really did. They were his closest friends, so of course he did. But Ron had such childish jealousy in his heart towards Harry that his white was tinted darker, into a pavement gray. Hermione was a much lighter shade, and he thinks it's because of something that she can't control. Most days he feels that she should be brighter than she normally is, and he just can't shake that feeling that she has one of the brightest auras of all his friends.
Malfoy's, however, was a dark blue, something that Harry had come to realize was just who the small slytherin was. There was no black, not for him. His sadness was tinged with hope, making it the beautiful shade it was. He may have been dark, darker than Ron and Hermione, but he would never be the vomit green of Vernon Dursley.
Ron spoke up, his grayish aura flickering as he spoke. "Maybe he just wants to be left alone. He can often be tired after the summer," he suggested. Malfoy sneered. "Only after the summer? How... odd." Malfoy silently reminded himself to tell Snape about Harry. Something wasn't right.
The only reason he noticed was that because of his own summer, that he had to spend alone, as Lucius was away on a mission from his Lord, and Narcissa, well... she had been gone for some time. His mother, as it turned out, was never so much in 'love' with his father as much as his money. It really did make sense, as Lucius had been the one taking care of him all his life (contrary to belief), and he had barely seen his parents so much as talk to each other ever since he had been born, probably. Anyway, spending time with no one had made him think about how pathetic he really was. No one really liked him for him so much as feared him or liked his devilishly handsome looks. That was all he wanted really, and for him, it didn't have to be a pureblood girl, or he would be a hypocrite. No, he feared what his Lord would do if he learned of the information. Somehow he still was offended by Mudbloods, but it was more of just a chain reaction. He was used to saying it, and he didn't know how to stop following his stupid instincts.
Hermione huffed. "Yes, well, what are you doing here anyway? You can pester us more at school, now shoo."
Malfoy sneered, ready to retort that he wasn't going to listen to a girl, much less a Mudblood, but he realized, it wasn't as fun without Potter. He didn't really have anything against the three. He just loved the reaction. His shoulders slumped when he thought about how petty he was being. "Yeah, okay. Just see if you can snap him out of it, will you Hermione?"
The bushy haired girl gave him a look of surprise. "Umm, yeah, sure Mal-" She tilted her head. "Draco," she amended.
"M'kay, thanks." He rushed out of the little cabin, the tips of his ears and his cheeks a bright red.
Ron was shocked, to say the least. "Did DRACO MALFOY just thank you, or am I hearing things?"
Hermione laughed. "You said the same thing about your hearing when Lavender asked you out a couple years ago." Ron glared at her. "Lavender is my girlfriend, and I would appreciate if you-"
"Ron, I'm just kidding."
"Right, I knew that."
Then the train whistle blew, and Harry jumped up, grabbing his trunk and making his way off of the train after the prefects. The prefects looked at him surprised as he rushed past to get to the carriage's, not giving the train a second glance, not even looking towards the first years making their way towards the boats.
Ron and Hermione were still lingering on the train, continuing the playful banter from before, not suspecting that their younger friend might be in pain.
Harry, on the other hand, was looking in wonder at the bony magical beasts pulling the carriages. Luna Lovegood approached him, the light lavender of her aura enveloping the space around them, but not confining them. She was just… there.
"Thestrals. They're rather gentle really, just a bit different. You can only see them if you've seen death."
She looked into his dull eyes.
"Oh, my. And death you've seen," she whispered. She reached out and grabbed his arm lightly, not missing the slight flinch he gave. It still hurt from healing incorrectly. "Come, young one, we can still make it to the first carriage. Maybe then you can be alone for a few moments, hm?" she asked in a dreamy voice, leading him to the front end of the line of carriages, a thestral for each one.
He climbed in, waiting for Luna to join him, looking at her confusedly when she didn't. She smiled at him. "I know you well, Harry. Spend some time to yourself." And then she was gone.
Harry breathed a sigh of relief and laid his head back on the seat just as the carriage lurched forward. A quick glance behind him told him Luna had sent this one early, as the other students rushed to find a carriage.
And that's where he fell asleep, the carriage moving softly with a steady thump of the thestral's walk lulling him to darkness after many sleepless nights.
After the first day of coming back, Harry successfully managing to take a shower while keeping the glamours in place after coming back from the first years sorting, he was exhausted. But he had Potion's now, for two hours, with the Slytherins.
That was another thing he had thought about to distract himself from his summer. He didn't care about the Slytherins anymore. They were just judged badly. Not every witch or wizard coming out of Slytherin was bad, just as not every Gryffindor was good. Harry learned where prejudice would get you, and that would either be on the wrong side of a stinging hex or nowhere. Neither sounded appealing, especially in his condition. He was especially tired of beating back Malfoy just because he didn't accept his friendship in first year. He was just plain tired.
He was interrupted by Snape's voice.
"It's called a Verba Animae. Even Longbottom couldn't possibly mess this up."
Harry thought about Snape and his deep, dark black aura, black like everything else he wore. Harry thinks that the darkness surrounding Snape portrays his loss, his sadness, rather than his anger. He was a right foul git sometimes but had saved his life on many occasions. He was the bravest man he knew, yet was so childish. He wouldn't give up his prejudice, against Gryffindors, and his father, James. Harry was kind of disappointed in him, even if he could understand that what his father did was despicable. It was in the past, and Severus should learn to let go if he ever wants to be happy. Harry suspected he was younger than he looks, and more of Snape's life should be spent happy, for all of the lives he saved and made happy. Harry shook his head in sympathy.
Hermione raised her hand. "Uh... sir? Neville isn't here today. He's in the infirmary," she said tentatively.
Snape critically raised his eyebrow. "Exactly, ignorant girl." Hermione blushed, resting her chin on her hands.
"Now that we've gotten that out of the way..." Hermione blushed harder, "the Verba Animae is a potion that is a lot like Veriteserum, but it forms it into a poem, and when you swallow it, it will express your very soul, and the words will just come to you."
Now Harry was panicking. He was very sure that his soul had some nasty things to say about himself. Maybe there was a way out? Just magically become poetic and make it up?
"And like I said, it is like Veriteserum, so you cannot resist what your soul is telling you to say. Now, turn to page 394 and get started."
Harry sighed. Figures. He turned to the page and started reading, preparing the ingredients exactly, making sure to cut the proportions evenly. After several minutes of stirring and adding ingredients, and waiting, the potion came to simmer at a nice, light blue color. With a flick of his hand the worktop became clean, and his fire out. He cast a wandless stasis charm on it, with several shields, determined to have at least one potion turn out alright, even if it would probably spit out his own secrets that made him feel worse than if he were Voldemort.
Eventually, everyone had a light blue potion on their desk, capped and ready for consummation. Snape sneered at the Gryffindors and came to a stop at Harry's desk.
Harry mentally groaned.
"Well, well, well, Potter seems to have actually made a potion correctly. Since he has, he get's to go first." Harry grimaced at the menacing look on Snape's face. "I want to get the spoiled brat's poem out of the way anyway." He waved his hand as a gesture to continue, carelessly walking to his desk as Harry obediently downed the potion. Immediately, his eyes went blank, and Hermione watched curiously as he appeared to have an internal battle with himself.
Then his mouth opened, the deep voice full of sorrow stopping the professor in his tracks.
"If I could speak
A thousand words come to mind
But can't come out
For my enforcer has left me voiceless
But never painless; no, never painless.
The locks on the door reflect my heart
In which nobody holds the key
Nobody cared, that I can see
Silence was a solemn sound that comforted
When no one asked questions
When no one healed the pain
When no one loved without conditions
When no one shunned the shame
When he came and brought the horrors
That haunt me in my sleep
Secrets beneath the glamours
Things that will taint your dreams
They taunt, they blame, they give you nowhere to hide
These are the things I feel inside
So many wounds
So many hurts
But if you complain
You get so much worse.
But this just one world,
The other is just the same.
No one to hold onto
Only myself to blame.
To blame for many lives; gone or at stake
Innocence destroyed by the evil it must take
To feel so filthy; unclean
To feel the hands where they should not be.
Look into my eyes; my hope is gone.
How long until I die?
Harry stopped speaking, looking ashamed. He stared at his feet, wishing he could disappear. Especially after the death part. That wasn't supposed to be told to anyone, it was Harry Potter's number one secret.
If he had looked up, he would have seen confused faces.
Many of his fellow students didn't understand it, just that it was bad, and that ultimately confused them. Why would anything bad be happening to their savior? Hermione and Snape seemed to be the only ones with their mouths dropped in horror. Hermione looked at him with such sad eyes, whispering, "Oh, Harry... how long have you been hiding this from us?"
Severus was the first to recover, grasping Harry's arm and leading him to his office, Hermione and Ron scurrying to make it in without the door closing on them to be with their friend. Seconds later the door opens again to reveal Malfoy, who quickly shuts the door behind him. No one protests his presence, too focused on Harry.
Snape first decided to dismantle the glamours, not knowing what to expect. "Revelare!"
The glamours slowly faded, along with the shirt, to reveal the marred back, a deep black tinged with purple, with different torture marks of every kind. Burns, welts, lashes of a whip, boot prints, hand prints... He had it all.
Not even the Dark Lord would do this. Snape blanched at the sight.
"Po-Harry... how could you not tell anyone, child?" he asked.
Harry shifted his gaze to the wall beside him, unwilling to talk. He was shaken by all of his secrets being revealed, to so many people that just wouldn't understand.
Snape kneels beside him, surprisingly gentle with his words. "Harry, we are only here to help, but in order to help you, we have to know how this happened."
Harry's troubled expression finally gives when Snape uttered the word, "Please."
"It's just," he began, struggling to find the proper words, "I felt unhappy and unloved. I know I'm not loved by the people that mattered to me. I felt sad and empty, but I also felt silly. I'm the boy-who-lived, so why would I need any of those things?" He paused. "If I had asked, I surely should have been punished for being ungrateful for what I've got, even if I don't want it, because everyone else wants me to want it, so I have to."
He looked at Hermione and Ron, like he was screaming for their help, but with his eyes.
"I get the belt, you know, for being ungrateful. It was like he knew what I was thinking."
Snape had a look of horror on his face, and Harry's two best friends wondered how they didn't see. Harry just stared blankly ahead, and Severus knew that look well. He was living a memory.
His soft voice broke the silence. "I didn't mean to be ungrateful, for the cupboard, but it just hurt so much, curling into a ball to fit, when you had gashes on your back, you know?" He snorted. "I doubt it."
"What hurt more was to be sent back, knowingly, every year. I thought Dumbledore cared. I THOUGHT HE CARED ABOUT ME!" Harry was screaming now, tears running down his red face, his Adam's apple moving to swallow the lump in his throat.
Severus didn't want to hear any more. But he had to know what happened. He caught young Harry's eye.
"Legilimens," he whispered softly.
Then he was in his mind, where the teen was concentrating on trying to block most, though couldn't for the child was too emotional to even think straight.
It was horrible. A fat, walrus of man - Petunia's husband, he realized - was ripping the innocence from the child that Severus now held so tenderly in his arms while he sobbed. The memory was full of pain, misery, disgust, regret, and shame. The boy was so small, in such a mean, nasty world. He cradled the child closer, and Harry buried his head in Severus' shoulder, passing out from the sadness and the pain.
The professor turned towards the other two of the trio. "You knew about this?" Ron stared at his feet, while Hermione was quick to shake her head about it. "No, we never…" She stopped when she realized Ron hadn't said anything in his defense. "Ron...?"
Ron let out a deep sigh. "I'm sorry 'Mione. I never realized it was this bad. I didn't know the extent of it, but I was told to try and keep him at his relatives, no matter the cause. The only reason we picked him up last time was that Fred and George took me along. I knew something was iffy, because he had bars on his window, for Merlin's sake! But..."
Snape pinched the bridge of his nose. "Who told you to keep him there?"
Ron furrowed his eyebrows. "Dumbledore, actually. Why would he keep him there?" he asked. Snape snarled. "Why, indeed. Of course, he must have known." He stood up, carefully picking Harry up bridal style, wincing at the pain this must cause the small boy.
He turned to Hermione and Ron. "Not like I don't believe you Granger, but I don't believe you. Yet. You two will stay with Draco," the two Gryffindors look at Malfoy with surprise, only just now noticing him, "and wait here. I'll ask you questions when I return. Then I will see the Dark Lord, and inform him of this event." He then turned to the floo, managing to toss the powder even with Harry in his arms, and shouting, "Albus Dumbledore's office, Cockroach Clusters!" and disappearing in a flash of green flame.