Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction using characters from the Harry Potter world, which is trademarked by J. K. Rowling. This story is purely for entertainment purposes, no money is being made from it.
TRIGGER WARNINGS: Explicit, graphic descriptions of all! Snape-centric story! Good SS, Evil SS.
Angst, Heavy Angst, AU - canon divergence, Abuse, Child Abuse, Bullying, Pain, Trauma, Hurt, Regret, Lost love, Torture, Very slow burn, PTSD, Survivors guilt, Rape/Non-con elements, Mental breakdown, Depression, Emotional hurt, Dissociation, Catatonia, Mentioning of past (canon) characters death, Voyeurism, Light BDSM, Flogging
A/N: This story now have beta, so huge, huge thank you to my beta - Loki God of Evil
And, at the start - fair warning! This story is not easy to read, it deals with difficult subjects and it is written from multiple POVs and you will see events the way the character sees them (not necessarily true).
Be sure to read the Trigger warnings! All TW's are above this chapter and some will be above the chapters when I think it's necessary to place them.
He was five years old, and this was his earliest memory, as far as he could remember.
Everything was dark and the damp smell of mould and mildew was choking him, but he remained quiet, resisting the urge to sneeze, the same way he was fighting the urge to whimper.
Shouting, man's voice was shouting fiercely. The woman's voice was weak, a pleading tone. Screams, the woman was screaming in pain.
He gathered his knees under his chin and wrapped his hands around them. And he knew he was shivering, partially from fear, partly from the cold dirt beneath him. One drop of water fell down his neck and trailed slowly down his back. It was damp and wet here, but no one would remember to look for him under the sink in a kitchen cabinet.
The woman screamed again and he covered his ears instinctively. Abandoning the knees and the bit of warmth he'd gained from hugging himself. Instead, he closed his eyes tightly, so tightly that his eyeballs started to hurt and he wished, at that moment, that he was far away.
Heavy footsteps followed by the unmistakable sound of a door slamming.
Then he heard the woman crying. And he waited with baited breath, biting his knuckles. Time seemed to pass by so slowly and nothing more was happening. The only sound he heard, which wasn't the most comforting, was the sounds of a woman, crying. He crawled from his hideout and from his vantage point he could see her, lying on the floor next to the rickety coffee table. She was curled in a ball, sobbing. He approached carefully and kneeled next to her, petting her black shiny hair, whispering. "Mama?"
Pain! Seering, bone-melting pain yanked him from memory. This was hell, he wasn't a believer, but surely this was purgatory, his personal hell on earth. To be dragged to that memory, only to be rescued from it into the blackness, full of pain. He wished to scream, maybe he was screaming but there was no sound coming from his own lips. He could feel every part of his body burning. Something soft was on his forehead, or at least where his forehead should've been.
Something bitter. You can't sense taste if you are dead, can you? Why bitter? He tasted bitter. Ah yes, this is hell. Darkness.
Pain. The hits fell on him like rain. And again, suddenly he was on the floor, curled up, knees pressed to the forehead with his hands wrapped around his head. He's seven.
The unmistakable taste of copper in his mouth and he remembers how copper tastes. Because he had a habit of holding one small copper coin in his mouth, instead of the candy, to deceive the hunger pangs. Only now, he doesn't have the coin, and from experience, blood tastes like copper coins too. His own blood, at that. . .
Tasting it as it ran into his mouth, droplets were on the floor from his broken nose.
The thing is, fists and boots do not choose, they land blows where they can, but he remained silent and he stayed that way when his nose cracked. He was mute when his ribs cracked. Speechless when his hand started to hurt, but he didn't change his position, he didn't remove it from his head.
"You miserable. . ." The fist.
"Good for nothing. . ." A boot.
"Ugly. . ." Boot again.
"Excuse. . ." Fists, five consecutive hits.
"Of a son!" Two kicks with a boot.
"You never. . ." The fist then the boot.
"Should have been born!" A kick in the back and pain shooting white in front of his closed eyes. "Cry now!"
Another kick on his back, he bit his lip to prevent sound from escaping but it was hard, so hard not to. It hurt and he knew by the way it hurts that he was going to pee blood again. He wouldn't make a sound though, because sound meant more hits and more kicks. And despite his state, his injuries, he wouldn't abandon his position. To do that would mean kicks in the stomach, and they would hurt more. For protection, he didn't dare move his hands, repositing them would incite blows to the head. And from experience in his young life, he knew all too well that it was hard to do chores when you were seeing double.
Finally, the man was tired, his blows falter. All stops.
"I'll be in the pub." Heavy footsteps were heard and the door slams shut, as always.
Soft hand caressing, soothing him. "Get up honey, he's gone," she said, in a sobbing voice. "Get up, we have to go to the doctor."
He opened his eyes slowly, unrolling cautiously. And the first thing he saw was that the floor was covered in blood, blood still running from his nose. His face, wet and stained with tears. He gazed at the crying face of his mother and crawled a few paces back. Taking the tattered, now torn book from the ground where it fell from his arms. He carefully folded the book and pressed it against his chest with the hand that didn't hurt as much.
"Can you stand up?" His mother's voice is timid and quiet. "We have to go to the doctor."
He looked at the blood on the floor. "Cween the bwood fst, give me to cween the bwood wfst or we will wit you too."
The air was hard to breathe, and it burned. He couldn't move, his hand, blue and swollen, his nose broken and he could barely see. His back hurt, Hell. . .Everything hurt.
Almost grateful for it because his body still hurts, but it was a different kind of pain. One that ran through his veins like liquid fire. Was there no respite for him? Not even after his death? Surely he paid his dues, he died for the brat, didn't he?
Isn't it the time that he should have been forgiven? To give him just a little bit of rest? If he was truly alive he would've begged, even screamed. Pleading for just a moment of rest, pride be damned.
Bitterness. He felt choking, but you can't choke if you're dead. Hell, he is in hell for what he's done. Darkness.
Huge hands were around his neck and suddenly he couldn't breathe. His head was bobbing like the head of a rag-doll. His feet twitched in an attempt to find purchase on the ground. The world, it seemed to fade around him.
Darkness. A tickle of magic, warm and friendly, his mother.
"Shhhhhhhhhhh, don't tell him." she whispered, hiding her wand. "Next year, you will be in school, far away from here."
"What about you?" he rasped, his throat hurting like hell.
"I choose my life." She replied. Her eyes are soft and dead at the same time. "Go on, go outside, better not be home when he returns." She warns.
He nodded, taking the oversized old coat from the rack and slipped through the door. Walking fast, casting glances left and right while he walked to the river bank. He chose to sit under the tree, obscured by the bushes. The only issue with this place; the air stank, the water was murky and slightly polluted. But, it was peaceful here.
"I got my letter today!" A bright happy female voice intoned.
"Me too." His voice still raspy but he smiled as two bright green eyes and a lock of red hair came to his view. She sat next to him.
"Did he beat you up again?" Her voice and expression seem worried.
He shook his head, not wanting to unduly worry her. "He choked me, just a little."
"I have a sandwich, want to share?" she asked, offering it to him.
He shook his head again. The thing is, he was hungry, but his throat still hurt and he was embarrassed to admit that fact. Furthermore, he was ashamed that she knew how he lived, how poor and insignificant he was or seemed.
The girl packed the sandwich in her pocket and sat a bit closer. Both silent just watching a dirty river flowing its course, just like life. A moment of peace and tranquillity, a moment of happiness, a moment of belonging.
Darkness, the pain lessened. A soft female voice talking, to him! He couldn't hear the words, but the voice was so calming. Hand, silky skin, hand smells like chamomile and rose water as it wipes his cheeks. Was he crying? Could you even cry when you were dead?
Lily… Had she finally forgiven him? Maybe now his torment would end.
~ S ~ S ~ S ~
Hermione sighed and leaned back in the chair, her eyes still watching wearily at the patient. Her fingers still wet from his tears, and she gazed at her hand in wonder. She still can't wrap her head around the fact how human he is right now. If she died a few months back she never would be able to say that he was human.
Her professor, the hero. The man made of spite and cutting remarks. She would never think that anything could have touched him. He always seemed so stoic to her. So strong. Never in her life, she thought she would see him this weak, human.
But ever since the war, he was just a shell of his former self. His body was too skinny to fight on its own and he looked so fragile in white sheets. His head an oily black smear on her white pillow. His hands, calloused and streaked with blue-green veins. Under the thin covers, she could see his ribs, lining out sharply.
It reminded her of something her father used to say; "Only skin holds his bones." It was almost akin to seeing a stray skinny dog because she thought that when she saw him the first time in a hospital bed.
And like the war wasn't enough torment, she would have his screams to haunt her for the rest of her days. Rasp and thorn like his unhealed neck. He'd screamed and screamed, for days, months and then he had started to cry. His lips forming words without sound. Soon, his screams and crying begun to alternate.
He wasn't the acerbic spiteful teacher anymore, he was just the tormented soul. She sighed again.
Matron came to the small improvised room, one bed and one bedside table and one chair, separate from the rest of the beds with the white screen and permanent sound barrier along with few heavy wards. "How is our patient today?"
"He was crying again, and trying to speak."
"Nightmares are a good sign." Matron nodded. "It means he is waking up."
"When?" she raised her eyes full of hope.
"It is hard to say. He is lucky to be alive." Matron placed a tray with assorted vials on the table. "Are you sure you can administer the potions today?"
"Absolutely positive." She nodded.
"I'll leave you to it then. I do hope he will appreciate all you do for him."
"I don't do this for gratitude, we owe him so much." She whispered.
Matron nodded and left her.
Hermione took a small towel and soaked it in the water. So gently and full of purpose, she wiped his face tenderly. His skin remained clammy, soaked with sweat and oily. His head reminded her of a skull with skin too thin, like cheap parchment and overly stretched over his bones. She really wished he would wake up, just so he could start eating and gaining weight because to her, this man that she was nursing. . .he looked like death itself, he certainly was lingering at death's door.