I do not own Harry Potter.
What? What am I doing writing another fic when I have like a hundred going that need updating? Fear not, my lovely readers, I have completely finished this one. It still needs editing, but it is done. I had planned on this being a one shot, but it got away from me.
Please note, this is a prequel to my Harry/Cedric/Edward Cullen fic, Shattered Souls. If you haven't read that, you can still read this and not be lost.
I will be updating as I edit. It can be days in between updates or just hours. It depends on what is going on in the real world.
For update information, come friend me on Facebook at Potter Obsessed.
For the hundredth time in the past hour, Severus glared hotly at the boy...the bane of his existence. "Potter, why are you not chopping up your Mandrakes? I myself don't care if your little friend gets unpetrified or not, but I'm sure Miss. Granger would like to rejoin the land of the living. Now get cutting!"
Swallowing the acidic bile that was burning its way up his throat, Harry grasped the top of the now fully mature humanoid plant with a badly trembling hand and lifted him from his soil rich home in his large clay pot. "Professor, please, I'm not feeling very well," he cried, ignoring Draco's nasally snickering. "May I please be excused, sir?"
"No!" Severus snapped irritably. "I need these Mandrakes cut today, Mr. Potter, not when you're damn good and ready." Hardening his eyes, he ignored how pale and sickly the boy looked. He looked as though he was minutes from passing out on the cold dungeon floor.
Closing his eyes against the tears threatening to spill, Harry tried to block out the pain and fear he was feeling from the adult male Mandrake that was thrashing frantically in his hand. His empathy had been getting progressively worse over the years, but never had he ever experienced anything as bad as this. The rest of his classmates were lucky, Snape had silenced the weird little plant people so they couldn't hear their screams as they heartlessly chopped them up into tiny little pieces, but sadly he could feel everything that they were feeling and it was horrible. Fear...there was so much fear that it was almost making it impossible for him to breath. These ugly little, dirt dwelling things weren't just plants, they were magical creatures that could think, interact with each other and even reproduce, how could he brutally chop one up while it was still alive and fully conscious? To him, it was no different than walking up to a classmate with a sharp knife and chopping their fingers off. He couldn't do it.
"Professor Snape," Lavender Brown called out timidly. "I really think Harry needs to go to the Medical Wing, his nose is starting to bleed."
Despite his hands violently shaking, Harry carefully returned his Mandrake to his pot then quickly wiped at his bleeding nose. He needed to get out of the classroom before he passed out, the emotions coming from all the scared and dying Mandrakes were just too much for him handle.
"Potter!" Severus roared angrily. "Get the hell out of my classroom and go to the Hospital Wing. Thirty points from Gryffindor for being week and for disturbing my class."
Quickly grabbing his bag, Harry all but flew out of the classroom, running as fast as he could from Snape, his classmates, the Mandrakes and all the emotions that were threatening to overwhelm him. He didn't know where he was going and he didn't care, he just needed to get far enough away so he couldn't feel.
Severus watched the boy go in concern, even though he would never show it. Yes, he hated the spoiled brat, but it was obvious that there was something very wrong with him. He had his suspicions, and he hoped for the boy's sake that for once in his life he was wrong.
Stumbling into an abandoned classroom, Harry fell to the ground and started sobbing. Why? Why the hell did he have to have this bloody curse? Why did he have to feel everything that everyone else was feeling, even stupid, ugly, magical creatures that looked like plants?
As far back as he could remember he could feel people's emotions. It had been very subtle when he was younger, mostly he could really only feel when the person's emotions were high. Unfortunately, his relatives emotions were always high and erratic and, while at times it was hard, for the most part he had no problems handling them. Since coming to the Magical World, though, his empathic abilities had grown and become even more sensative. Every year it got worse and worse, he honestly didn't know how much more he could take. Feeling everything was driving him insane and he had even contemplated suicide a few times. He was so desperate that he would do anything, even kill himself, to make it stop.
"Potter! What the hell are you doing in here blubbering like a little baby?"
Harry went to jump to his feet, but his head started spinning and his vision blacked out for a minutes. Feeling cold, strong hands grasp his upper arms to help support him, he allowed his trembling legs to give out. He hated being weak in front of Snape, but he was seconds from passing out and he didn't have the strength to remain on his feet.
"Easy, boy," Severus said softly, waving his wand and conjuring a sofa. Scooping up the small, twelve year old boy, he carefully laid him down and ran a healing diagnostic charm on him. Grabbing the paper that shot out from the tip of his wand, he frowned as he read the results. The boy was malnourished, dehydrated, his heart rate was sky high and he was suffering from a bloody nose, but other than that he seemed fine. Why then was he damn near comatose?
Harry refused to even attempt to open his eyes until the spinning in his head stopped. He was positive that Professor Snape wouldn't be to happy if he vomited up all over his expensive, black robes.
Severus wasn't a patient man, but conjuring a comfortable chair, he sat quietly and waited until the boy came out of whatever fit he was suffering from. He would like to say that the brat was faking it to get attention, but even he could tell that this was real. The boy was in some serious distress.
Taking deep, calming breaths, Harry very slowly opened his eyes. "Sorry, Fesser," he slurred, still feeling out of it. "I don't know what 'appened. I'm better now though."
"Excellent," Severus growled between clenched teeth, "than you can return to my classroom and finish chopping your Mandrake for detention. You were told to go to the Hospital Wing, not lazy around an empty classroom."
"Please!" Harry cried loudly, his eyes wide and pleading. "Please, sir, I can't kill them. You don't understand. You don't know what it does to me. I can't! I just can't! Take all of Gryffindor's points, make me serve detention for the rest of the year, but please don't make me go back there and kill those creatures."
Severus sat back and studied the distressed boy in front of him. Years of living a double life had taught him to be very observant, it was a matter of life or death for him. He hadn't missed how the last two years Potter had begged and pleaded with his Potion's partner to cut up any of the living animal potions ingredients that they needed to use. Dead animals he had no problems with, but he seemed to be in real physical pain whenever he had to handle the living. "Why can't you cut up the Mandrake? It's just a stupid plant."
"But it's not!" Harry sobbed, sitting up and scrubbing harshly at his face. "They're not just another plant, their magical creatures that have genuine feelings. I-I can't be in there with them, sir, it's too much."
"What is too much?" Severus asked in a deadly calm voice.
"Their feelings," Harry admitted brokenly. "Their feelings, Sir."
Sighing because his suspicions were just confirmed, Severus stood up and started pacing the room. "Potter, are you trying to tell me that you can feel what the Mandrakes are feeling?"
Taking deep breaths, Harry nodded his head. "Yes, Sir. I can feel all their fear and pain. Normally I can handle it, but there were just too many of them and their feelings were too strong for me. I can't, sir. I'm sorry, but I can't kill them."
Retaking his seat, Severus glared unblinkingly at the boy. "Potter, are you trying to tell me that you are an empath?" Empaths were extremely rare, the last known empath had died hundreds of years ago.
Still shaking, Harry nodded his head. "I can feel what everyone is feeling, sir, including most animals. It wasn't too bad before, but this year it has gotten worse and I can feel everything more intensely. I want Hermione to be unpetrified, she's my best friend, but I can't cut one of those Mandrakes up, sir."
Severus held up his hand when the boy started to cry again. "Relax, Potter, I'm not going to make you cut up the Mandrakes. Empathy is a very rare gift."
"Gift!" Harry snorted in disgust. "It's a curse. A horrible, horrible curse that I can't escape. I wouldn't wish this curse on my worst enemy."
Severus had to admit, it had to be hard feeling everything that those around you were feeling. He could understand why Potter called it a curse. "Does Headmaster Dumbledore know that you're a developing empath?"
"No," Harry said, shaking his head. "He can't help me, I already looked into it. There are no spells or potions that will take this curse away. My only hope is finding a grounder. Fred and George Weasley are partial grounders, but they only dull the emotions, they can't take them away completely. I feel everything twenty four hours a day, I don't even get a break when I'm sleeping."
Severus wished that he could help the boy, but he was correct, there was absolutely nothing that he could do. "I'm sure in time you will learn to handle your empathy, Potter."
Harry stood up on still weak legs. "Thank you, sir, but I doubt that very much. Please don't tell anyone about this, I'm sure Draco or one of his goons will use this as a way to hurt me."
"Very well," Severus reluctantly agreed. Potter's fears were justifiable, his empathy could be used against him.
"Swear," Harry asked sheepishly.
Rolling his eyes, Severus glared at the little pain in the ass. "I swear, Potter."
Fred held the small boy in his lap and gently rocked him back and forth while he cried his eyes out. "Georgie, take the cloak and sneak into the hospital wind and nick Harry a Dreamless Sleep potion." For close to two hours they had been trying to calm their honorary little brother down, but nothing they did so far seemed to help.
With eyes full of sadness, George summoned Harry's invisibly cloaked and slipped out of their dorm room. After Harry returned from his adventure down in the Chamber of Secrets, they had whisked him away to their room because they could see that their baby brother was close to breaking. They didn't know what the hell had happened in the Chamber, all they knew was that Harry had saved their little sister's life in the chamber, and that Harry had been inconsolable ever since he returned to their dorm. They had never seen him this upset before.
"It's alright, Harry, I have you," Fred coo'd, wiping at the blood with his sleeve that was dribbling from Harry's nose. "You know that I won't let anyone harm you. George and I are going to take care of you."
Harry clung tightly to his ginger friend, relaxing slightly as Fred was able to block some of the emotions that were overwhelming him. The past couple hours had been too much for him, he just wanted to go to sleep and never wake up. So much had happened, but the worst was him having to kill the giant Basilisk. The Basilisk didn't want to kill, but Voldemort had been controlling the rare and ancient creature. It had physically hurt him when he plunged the Gryffindor sword into the great snake, and it hadn't been because one of its fangs had pierced his arm. He had felt everything the basilisk had felt. It had felt like he was dying with the snake.
Panting heavily, George sprinted into the room. "Here...here you go," he huffed, handing the vial over to his twin brother then collapsing onto his bed.
"I do believe that was a Gryffindor House record." Fred joked, uncorking the vial. "You made it to the hospital wing and back in less than five minutes. Impressive."
"Would have been less than three," George gasped, still trying to take in air, "but mom and dad are in there with Ginny. She isn't looking so good."
Frowning at hearing that, Fred carefully fed Harry the potion then continued to rock him while softly humming to him. "I think he should sleep between us tonight."
"I agree," George said, groaning as he slid off his bed. Still panting, he pushed his bed together with his twins. This wouldn't be the first time the little twelve year old had slept between the two of them. Even though the potion would help keep Harry from feeling too much, they still couldn't bring themselves to let their little brother go. They knew that he would still be a mess come morning and in need of their help.
Fred struggled to his feet with a now sleeping Harry in his arms. "It's a damn good thing that he's so small and light," he grunted.
George quickly made his way to his brother to help him with Harry. "How bad do you think it was down there?"
Pulling his shirt off and stripping down to his orange, checkered boxers, Fred climbed into bed beside Harry. "Really bad. I have never seen Harry this upset. Do you think we should strip him down too?"
George stopped stripping as he thought about his brother's question. All the times they slept with Harry, their little brother had always kept his clothes on. He was very self-conscious of his small, malnourished, heavily scarred body. "I don't know, you know how self-conscious he is of his scars. Then again, the skin on skin contact will help him a lot more."
"How about we just remove his top then?" Fred suggested.
"Good plan," George said, stripping the rest of the way out of his clothes and then helping Fred with undressing Harry.
"Another bad one?" Lee asked, walking into the room and heading for his bed.
"The worst yet," George sighed, slipping under the covers and pressing himself against Harry's front. Not many knew that Harry was an empath, he wanted to keep it a secret, but Lee had to know since he shared a room with them and Harry ended up in bed with them at least once or twice a month...if not more.
"Mr. Potter...Harry," Dumbledore said gently, looking at the young man from over his half-moon spectacles. "Is everything alright? You have not looked very healthy this year and I'm greatly concerned about you?"
Nervously bouncing his knee, Harry jerkily nodded his head. Looking at his hands that were resting in his lap, he cringed when he saw that his nails were slightly bloody from him obsessively chewing on them. "I'm fine, Headmaster," he answered softly.
"You know that you can come to me with anything," Dumbledore sighed, he had thought that his relationship with Harry was stronger than this. He could tell that the thirteen year old was lying to him, the boy looked an absolute mess. He was too skinny, alarmingly pale, the dark circles under his eyes had dark circles of their own and the boy looked like he was ready to jump out of his own skin. "When was the last time you slept, Harry? Is it Sirius Black? Are you scared of him? I assure you, Harry, the man cannot get past the school wards."
Harry didn't point out that the man had already broken in once and trashed his dorm room. He just wanted to go. He wanted to get out of the school and run as far and as fast as he could. He needed to get away from everyone and their overwhelming emotions. This year was bad. Why was he getting more sensitive? It was like everyone's emotions were amplified by a hundred percent. Then there were the Dementors. Holy hell, they were the worst creatures ever. The things they made him relive and feel were nothing short of pure torture.
"Harry, I think you need to see Madam Pom..."
"I'm fine!" Harry snapped shortly, interrupting his Headmaster. "I'm just tired. I have been having a lot of nightmares about the Dementors." It wasn't completely a lie, he had been having horrible nightmares about those horrendous creatures. Everything was just getting to be too much for him to handle, he couldn't take it anymore. He couldn't eat, he couldn't sleep, he was suffering from more and more nose bleeds, he constantly felt like his head was going to explode and that he was going to throw up...he just wanted to end it all. To end his pain and suffering. Why did he have this curse? Why did he have to feel what everyone else was feeling? His own emotions were bad enough, why did he have to feel everyone else's fear, pain, anger, happiness and loneliness? Merlin, he could even feel when they were turned on. It was hard enough being a thirteen year old boy and getting hard for absolutely no reason at all, it was a thousand time worse getting an erection because your best mate was fantasizing over your other best mate. He couldn't look Ron and Hermione in the eyes for a week after that.
"As I was saying," Dumbledore said patiently. "Why don't you see Madam Pomfrey about getting a Dreamless Sleep, you look like your going to drop any minute."
Blinking back his tears, Harry nodded his head. "May I please be excused, sir?"
Dumbledore stared at the boy for a few minutes before finally inclining his head. "Remember, Harry, I am here for you, day or night."
Not responding, Harry got up and quickly left the room. Walking as fast as he could, he ignored anyone calling his name and took off at a run as soon as he got outside. He ran without stopping until he was at the far end of Black Lake, as far as he could possibly get from everyone and their damn emotions without leaving Hogwarts property. Here he could almost relax. Almost! Despite being almost a half a mile away from the castle, he could still feel emotions coming from some of the surrounding magical creatures and some of the students that were hanging around outside. Thankfully, though, he was far enough away that their emotions weren't overwhelming him.
Sliding down the edge of a cliff, he collapsed onto a large rock and stared out over the lake. He knew that it was dangerous being this far from the castle and he would probably get his ear chewed off by Snape and McGonagall if found, but he was at the point that he didn't care anymore. What was the worst that could happen? Sirius Black find him and kill him? Dementors suck out his soul? That was fine, he didn't want to live anymore anyway. He was done with this curse, done with feeling everything. Granted, he would prefer not to have his soul sucked out if given the choice. He couldn't join his parents in heaven if he had no soul.
Looking out over the edge, he grinned when he saw that he was a good thirty feet above the lake with sharp, jagged rocks down below him. There was no way he would survive if he stepped off the edge. Scooting to the edge, he dangled his legs over the side wondering if he would feel any pain if he did it. Would his death be instant or would he lay there suffering until his broken body finally gave out? He wanted to die, but he didn't want to suffer horribly while doing it.
Grabbing a medium size rock, he held it over the edge and let it slip from his fingers. He watched in fascination as it plummeted below, breaking into tiny pieces as it hit the jagged rocks. If the rock shattered that easily, wouldn't his body do the same? Scooting even closer to the edge, he leaned slightly forward so the majority of his body was dangling off the side. Right now he could end it all. All he had to do was lean forward just an inch and his suffering would be over. It's not like anyone would miss him. Well, maybe Fred and George would, but at least he would no longer be a burden to them. It wasn't fair to them to have to deal with all his issues. He could see how much his suffering was hurting them.
Taking a few deep breath, he was just getting ready to lean forward and end it, when a spike of extreme fear slammed into him. Looking back, his eyes widened in shock when he spotted the Hufflepuff Cedric Diggory standing on the cliff above him staring at him with a horrified expression on his face. Swallowing nervously, he turned back to the edge and leaned forward, determined to go through with it before Diggory could stop him.
"Harry, don't!" Cedric cried frantically, quickly making his way down the cliff and onto rock that Harry was on. Stopping just a foot from Harry, he held out his trembling hand to him. "Please, Harry, please take my hand."
"Go away, Cedric," Harry said in a deadly calm voice. He knew who the Hufflepuff was, he too was a seeker for his house team, but he had never talked to the older boy. He knew that he was very popular and all the girls liked him and thought he was hot. He hated feeling their excitement and lust every time he walked into the Great Hall. There were even some boys who felt that way about Cedric too.
Cedric may love flying high on his broom, but standing close to the edge of a cliff was making him very nervous. He couldn't believe that Harry Potter, the famous Boy-Who-Lived, was thinking about taking his own life. "What are you doing, Harry?" he asked nervously.
Snorting, Harry looked back at the good looking Hufflepuff. "Isn't it pretty obvious what I'm doing? Look, Cedric, go back to the castle and forget that you saw me here. You don't want to see this, it's going to be disgusting."
"Shit, Harry!" Cedric cried. "Why the hell do you want to kill yourself? Your life can't be that bad?"
"Can't be that bad!" Harry sobbed. "You try being an empath in a school like Hogwarts. I can't take it anymore. Just leave, Cedric, leave me alone. I don't want to do this with you watching me, but Merlin I will."
"You're an empath?" Cedric gasped. He knew how rare that gift was. How come he never heard that Harry Potter was an empath? That was big news.
"Please," Harry begged. "Please go back, Cedric. This is the only way, it's just too much for me anymore. If you could, could you please tell Fred and George that I said thank you for all their help and that I will always love them? I didn't have time to leave them a goodbye letter."
Cedric once again held his hand out to Harry. "Harry, just take my hand and we will find the twins together. I swear, I'll do whatever I can to help you. This isn't the answer."
"Then what is?" Harry asked brokenly, face red from crying and his eyes bloodshot and puffy. "There are no potions or spells that will help. Tell me, what is it that you can do that noone else can?"
With his hand still out, Cedric got down on his knees so he was eye level with Harry. "I don't know, Harry, but at least let me try. Do you honestly want to die? Do you honestly want to throw yourself from this cliff and split your head open on the rocks below?"
Turning away from Cedric, Harry looked back down at the rocks. "It's so hard, Cedric," he said softly. "Sometimes it's so bad that I can't breath and I feel like I'm going to pass out. If that wasn't bad enough, every year it gets worse. If I could only turn it off for a while maybe I could handle it better, but the emotions are there twenty four hours a day."
"Harry, look at me," Cedric ordered desperately. Holding his breath, he tried to will Harry to look at him and take his hand. When he had followed the thirteen year old's mad dash from the castle, he never expected in a million years that he would encounter this.
Harry reluctantly looked back at Cedric. "Why do you even care? You don't even know me."
Cedric smiled warmly at the boy. "Then how about we get to know each other better, huh? I always wanted to talk to you but I didn't think you would be interested in befriending a rival seeker."
"That's just stupid," Harry said with a small smile. "I'm not prejudiced again houses, and I can still easily beat you in Quidditch and be your friend all at the same time."
"Well, you haven't played against me this year, and if you take your life, we'll never get to see who wins."
Biting on his bottom lip, Harry looked to Cedric's still outstretched hand. "I guess throwing myself from the cliff and you having to see my bloody, mangled remains would be a very bad way to start off a new friendship."
"Absolutely horrible," Cedric said with a huge sigh of relief.
"Don't tell anyone about this. Please!" Harry begged. "Especially the twins. They will lose their shit if they found out."
Cedric knew that he should tell someone so Harry could get some help, but right now he just wanted the teen safely off the cliff. "I'll not tell, but you should really confide in someone."
"I'm not going to tell any of the Professors or the Headmaster, but If you insist, I will tell Fred and George if you promise not to tell any Professors. I always end up telling the twins everything anyway. Just promise that you won't tell any adults."
"Harry, I'll promise you my first born if you will just take my damn hand and get off the damn cliff before you fall," Cedric snapped.
"What? Did I just hear correctly? Did the perfect Hufflepuff Prefect just curse at me twice?" Harry asked smartly, grinning up at the older teen. He liked Cedric, he was easy to talk to and there was just something that was pulling him towards him.
"Harry!" Cedric growled, the corners of his lips tugging up in a smile. "Take my damn hand!"
"So bossy," Harry grumbled playfully, reaching out and accepting the Hufflepuff's hand.
Grasping the much smaller hand as tightly as he could, Cedric quickly pulled the smaller boy to him and wrapped both his arms around him in a bear hug. "Merlin, Harry. I have never been so frightened in my life. Don't ever scare me like that again."
Chest heaving, Harry clung to Cedric, eyes clenched tightly shut. Normally he hated any physical contact, except for with the twins. Years of being abused by his relatives had taught him that touch was bad. Not with Cedric though. Cedric's touch was what he had been craving...what he needed in order to survive.
"Harry?" Cedric called softly when the younger teen in his arms started to shake a cry. "Harry, what's wrong? He tried to pull back so he could see Harry's face, but the small boy clung tighter to him and started crying harder. Not knowing what else to do, he started rocking him and rubbing his back. He liked this...he liked having Harry in his arms, it felt right. He just wished that they could get off the damn cliff before they both plummeted to their deaths.
It took a while for Harry to cry himself out. Slowly sitting up, but still gripping tightly to Cedric's hand, he looked up at the Hufflepuff in awe. "Cedric, it's a miracle."
Unable to stop himself, Cedric brushed the wild, raven hair out of Harry's damp face. He had to admit, the boy was adorable. "What's a miracle?"
"You," Harry said, blushing brightly. "You're my miracle."
Chuckling, Cedric started running his fingers through Harry's hair, checking his scalp. "Did you bump yourself on your head or something? You're talking crazy."
Closing his, Harry leaned into Cedric's hand, enjoying for the first time in his life feeling only his own emotions. Everything and everyone else was blocked off to him. "Cedric, you don't understand. You're a grounder...the first full grounder that I have ever met. Fred and George are partial grounders, but you block everything. You're a miracle. Your my miracle!"
"Harry, I'm lost," Cedric sighed. "What is a grounder?"
Smiling brightly, Harry looked into Cedric's beautiful grey eyes in awe. "A grounder is someone who blocks all emotions when I come in physical contact with them. Fred and George are partial grounders, they block enough to take the edge off, but you, Cedric, you block everything. For the first time in my life, the only emotions that I feel are my own."
Cedric raised his eyebrows in shock. "Harry, are you telling me that when we touch, your empathy is no more?"
Harry vigorously nodded his head. "It's gone...completely gone. It's amazing, Cedric."
"Well, I guess I'll just have to never let you go," Cedric joked, his eyes sparkling warmly down at the younger teen.