A/N: (1) The wonderful world of Harry Potter, and everything in it, belongs to J. . (2) Special thanks to my amazing beta reader waitingondaisies! (3) This is a novel-length story that is *complete* and will be posted in chapter installments. (4) Story takes place in the spring of 5th year and follows canon up until that point, and then goes a bit A/U. (5) The mature rating and warnings are due to memories and flashbacks of abuse by the Dursleys, NOT abuse during the story's timeline.
Snape was going to slaughter him.
Harry stood outside Snape's office, bent double and trying to catch his breath, a stitch in his side. He'd sprinted all the way to the dungeons, knowing he was already late yet hoping to minimize the damage. But first, he had to find a way to clear his mind. And just how was he supposed to do that?
He clenched his jaw and squeezed his eyes shut. He'd gone to bed the night before with a headache, which had kept him awake most of the night. He and Seamus had gotten in a fight over Voldemort before breakfast, and when Ron had tried to intervene, Harry had snapped at him, too. So Ron wasn't talking to him, and when Hermione had tried to intercede on Ron's behalf, Harry had gone off on her as well. Now, none of the Gryffindors were speaking to him, and that was just as well with the mood he was in.
On his way to his Defense Against the Dark Arts class, Draco had tripped him in the corridor, causing Harry to sprawl on the floor, landing hard on his left hand and wrist, resulting in nauseating pain. Just as he'd managed to gain his bearings and raise his wand to curse the laughing git, Umbridge had stepped out of the shadows of her classroom, a triumphant look on her face.
"Caught cursing students in the hallway, Mr. Potter," Umbridge had simpered.
"I did no such thing," Harry had refuted.
"Lying again, Mr. Potter?"
"I'm not– I didn't– Malfoy tripped me!" Harry had felt himself swell with anger and indignation.
"Tsk, tsk, Mr. Potter. Clearly you haven't learned your lesson yet. I do not tolerate lies, Mr. Potter. Perhaps another detention will help to etch the message into your memory. My office, 6 o'clock tonight."
"But Professor," Harry had said, "I have… a lesson… with Snape tonight at 6 pm. And he doesn't tolerate tardiness any more than you do."
Umbridge had studied him closely. "What kind of lesson?" When Harry had hesitated, Umbridge had chimed in, "Don't even think about lying to me Mr. Potter, unless you'd like a week's worth of detention."
Gritting his teeth and dropping his head to avoid the mocking stares of his peers, Harry had mumbled, "remedial potions."
"Come again?" Umbridge had asked sweetly. "I didn't quite hear you."
Hands balled into fists, knowing full well she'd heard him but that she'd want to humiliate him further in front of his classmates, he had bit out, "REMEDIAL. POTIONS. PROFESSOR." If looks could ignite, his hate-filled gaze would have set the toad-like woman alight then and there.
With a truly evil and calculating look, Umbridge had seemed to make up her mind and had nodded in decision. "Very well then, Mr. Potter. You will report to my office immediately after your last class and serve your detention with me until it is time to meet Professor Snape."
"But then I will miss dinner," Harry had complained, knowing all too well that he should have kept his mouth shut.
"Of course you will. Do you honestly think you deserve to have dinner with the rest of your civilized classmates? I think not, Mr. Potter. You are a nasty boy, and nasty boys need to be punished." Turning away from him with a smirk, she had addressed the rest of the class gathered in the hallway. "Take your seats, students. We will begin with Chapter 10. There'll be no need for wands."
She must have been running low on students for detention, Harry had thought, as he was forced to carve the words "I must not tell lies" into his hand once again, opening and deepening the scars that were already present.
Umbridge had seemed to be watching him more closely than usual, taking immense satisfaction in any sign of discomfort that Harry wasn't able to conceal—the hiss of pain, the gritting of his teeth, the traitorous tear squeezed from between eyelashes and hastily wiped away, the sweat that drenched his clothes, the occasional whole-body tremor, the pregnant pause between sentences.
"The more you procrastinate, Mr. Potter, the longer you will be in this detention," she had practically purred.
"But I have to see Professor Snape at six o'clock," he had lamented.
Umbridge replied, "Well then, I suggest you hurry up if you don't want to be late."
Seething inside, Harry had bit back the many curses and retorts he had wanted to throw at the vile woman preening in front of him. He knew there would be hell to pay if he was late for Snape again, and so he had kept his mouth shut and had bent his head to the task.
The problem was, he was pretty sure he'd sprained, or perhaps even broken, his wrist and hand when Malfoy had tripped him and he'd fallen on them earlier. So, in addition to the sharp, biting pain of the words cutting into the top of his hand, was the ever-present, acute agony of his swollen and throbbing hand and wrist. Every time his hand involuntarily cringed away from the pain of the blood quill, his nerves fired and his muscles tensed, thus aggravating his pre-existing injury. It was a vicious cycle, and he was nearly convinced that Umbridge knew it as well, and the reason she had seemed so satisfied this evening. To be able to get off on someone else's misery was a class of evil all its own, Harry had mused bitterly.
Blood ran freely from his scarred hand now, and his robes were soaked with sweat. His throat was sore from rasping in pain, and his bottom lip was bleeding from trying to prevent himself from crying out.
It was three minutes to 6 pm, and still she refused to release him. His heart was racing as his stress levels rose. He was shaky, and clammy, and felt nauseous. It was 1 minute to 6. He looked up at Umbridge, silently pleading to be released. She made a show of looking at the clock, and then at his lines. Looking back at Harry, she smiled cruelly and shook her head.
Harry cursed under his breath. She was doing this on purpose. She wanted him to be late. She wanted to make him suffer. Oh, what he wouldn't give to be able to make her suffer too, he thought vengefully.
At ten minutes past 6 pm, Dolores Umbridge dismissed Harry Potter from her office.
"Snape is going to slaughter me," Harry moaned, trying to get control of his anger at the injustice of it all, and his fear of what his now second-most-hated professor was going to do to him once he realized how compromised Harry's shields were. Not to mention the excruciating agony that was his hand and wrist. Perhaps he could focus on the pain, use it to block everything else from his mind. Then, even if Snape broke in, there would be nothing to see. It was worth a shot, because he knew he didn't have a chance in Hades of taming his emotions, not after the day he'd had, and especially not after spending 2 hours with the deranged, sadistic witch who called herself a teacher. More like a torturer, Harry thought darkly.
Finally catching his breath, Harry straightened, pulled his injured hand back up into his sleeve to hide the evidence, and knocked on the door, his wand held loosely by his side.
The door to Snape's office flew open of its own accord. Snape stood behind his desk, looking furious. Snape spoke with words as cold as ice, "So nice of you to gift me with your presence this evening, Potter."
"I was detained…" Harry began.
Snape snorted with derision. "Detained, Potter?" Looking him over, Snape said, "Your face is flushed, your lip is bleeding, and you are clearly sweating. Tell me, Potter, was it a Weasley reunion match? All the banned Quidditch players sneaking out onto the pitch to have a quick go at it on the school brooms while everyone else was at dinner in the Great Hall and none the wiser?" Leaning over his desk, his eyes filled with anger and impatience, Snape spat, "You think this is a game, Potter? You think I enjoy wasting my evenings with the brat-who-lived? The boy who thinks of nothing and no one but himself?"
Harry opened his mouth to counter the man, but Snape cut him off.
"Precious, pompous Potter, raised with a sliver spoon in his mouth, coming to Hogwarts all holier-than-thou," Snape scoffed. "You may beDumbledore's favorite, but I see nothing more than an entitled, ungrateful brat, a boy who thinks he is above the rules, and prances around this castle as he pleases, day or night. Arrogant, impertinent, better than everyone else," Snape's eyes were narrowed, his nostrils flared, "just like your father. Well, Potter, you may have fooled the other teachers, but you have not fooled me."
Harry clenched his fists, causing the pain in his injured hand to skyrocket. The blood from the cursed cut began to flow more freely, likely dripping onto the floor, but he didn't care. Anger and resentment curled through his veins like thick black smoke. How dare he? How dare Snape insinuate that he, Harry, was all those things? Snape had no idea, no idea at all. Harry was bursting with hatred for this wizard, who from the day Harry met him, had taunted him and singled him out, made his life a living hell, for no reason at all. "You're wrong," Harry hissed, his breathing labored as his magic swirled around him, uncontrolled, building up in a blind fury. Without even realizing it, he had raised his wand.
"Prove it," Snape sneered, his wand outstretched, menace and vengeance clear is his voice. "On the count of three."
Searing hot rage whipped through Harry, surging through his core and strengthening his elemental magic. Snape wanted him to prove it? Fine, he'd PROVE IT, he'd show Snape, the cruel, presumptuous bastard! So instead of fearing the brutal invasion into his mind, Harry welcomed it. Welcomed the chance to teach the know-it-all git a lesson.
Hate-filled eyes met hate-filled eyes. Harry's heart beat hard and fast.
Their gazes locked together, clashed. Harry's fury stoked the flames of his magical core.
Neither moved, both refusing to look away, blink, or break the contact. Vindicationscreamed through Harry's soul.
Harry held his wand tightly as the room began to tremble. The jars on the shelves filled with dead things rattled ominously into one another; a couple dancing to the edges of their shelves until they finally toppled over the precipice and shattered spectacularly on the stone floor. But neither man took note, because the burst of light that blinded the room's occupants when Harry's wild magic was released knocked Snape backwards with such force that Snape flew from standing behind his desk into his chair, which screeched backward until it hit the wall.
Snape's eyes were wide, pupil's dilated, nostrils flared. His hands gripped the chair's arms, his fingers claw-like and digging into the hard wood. His gaze was still locked with Harry's and the look on his face said he'd never in a million years expected this unrestrained force of magic from the teenager in front of him.
Harry focused on the link, his anger and hatred channeling his magic so that it exploded through their connection. He drilled into the other man's psyche with the force of a tidal wave, challenging every false illusion Snape had ever had of him. 'Snape wanted to see? Well, let him see,' thought Harry. 'Let him see it all.'