Title: Muddy Reflections
Warnings: Abuse, Angst, AU?, Brutality, Character-death, DARK, Disturbed, Harry-torture, Language, Self-injury, Yoai/Slash.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter does not belong to Becka; characters are used without permission for a non-profit purpose. No infringement is intended.
It was pretty funny when he thought about it. Not, he amended silently, that the thought gave him any comfort, because it wasn't a pleasant sort of funny, or even an embarrassed kind of "ha ha." It wasn't smiles and sunshine, a walk on the beach, or cotton candy stained lips. It wasn't learning how to fly a broom or earning points for his House. It wasn't _nice_.
It _was_ funny, though.
He was supposed to be their hero. Not that he'd ever really had much choice in the matter. It wasn't like he'd _asked_ a Dark Wizard to cast the Killing Curse on him, though he acknowledged it might have been better for everyone if Voldemort had succeeded. But he'd only been a baby at the time, barely a year old, and though he might wish he'd died with his parents, the past would remain unchanged.
Maybe that's when the cosmic joke that plagued his life had first reared its ugly head. A _baby_ had defeated the powerful Dark Lord. The people of the wizarding world had hung all of their hopes and their dreams on a child. The Daily Prophet probably had something to do that. If it hadn't been for all of the bloody publicity, he would have happily lived the rest of his cursed life in anonymity. But the fact remained, a _baby_ had been the first to survive the dreaded Killing Curse.
What a laugh!
It wasn't his fault that people thought he was some sort of golden boy. Hell, the Sorting Hat had wanted to put him in Slytherin – now _that_ was funny – and he could fully admit to himself that there must be something wrong him. Hadn't the Dursleys told him that he was "unnatural" and a "freak" since before he could remember?
Ah, the Dursleys. They'd believed he was evil from the very beginning, and he idly wondered if they'd been informed of his… situation. If they had, Vernon would undoubtedly be consoling a distraught Petunia, murmuring reassurances that the freakish murderer would never be allowed back in their house again. Perhaps Vernon would finish it up by saying that he was where he belonged.
So much for the Boy-Who-Lived. The Daily Prophet now spouted headlines like, "The-Boy-Who-Turned-His-Back" and "Harry Potter, Finally Defeated!"
They'd put him in Azkaban.
He really had to hand it to Voldemort – the man was nothing if not ingenious.
It was beautiful, in a twisted way, and personally he found it funny as hell, but then he'd always been a cynic at heart. He and Cedric had taken the portkey together, and the echoes of "Kill the spare!" still haunted his dreams. After his escape, he'd brought what he'd believed was the body of his schoolmate back to the Tournament, and no one had been more surprised then he when the corpse had convulsed, then shaken off what appeared to be the lingering effects of Cruciatus.
Oh, he should have seen then and there what was going to happen, but he'd been so relieved that he wasn't guilty of Cedric's death that he'd ignored his instincts. The sinking feeling in his gut was realized when, a few days later, an exclusive interview with Cedric appeared in the Daily Prophet, stating how Harry had _willingly_ revived the Dark Lord with his blood.
Everything had started to fall apart after that. Accusations had flown, but Dumbledore had managed to keep him safe. Harry's wand disappeared the same day Cedric was "murdered," and of course it had turned up when the Aurors stopped in. It came as no surprise to him when the last spell his wand had cast was Avada Kedavra.
Looking back, that day had been his own private Hell on Earth. Ron had attacked him, getting in a few good punches before, surprisingly, Draco Malfoy had pulled him off. He could still feel the sting of Hermione's hand across his cheek, and her bitter, half-hysterical cry of, "I trusted you!"
That day it became quite clear to him why he should have never been born. It didn't matter what he'd been through with his friends; when push came to shove, they were the first to denounce him as the next Dark Lord. Even Neville Longbottom had stepped up to him and spat in his face.
His trial was a joke. The evidence was stacked so high against him that he wouldn't have stood a chance even _if_ Dumbledore had defended him. Of course, the Headmaster of Hogwarts wanted nothing to do with him, and somehow that betrayal hurt worst of all. He'd stood alone at his trial, the court so convinced of his guilt that they'd refused to let him take Veritaserum.
Voldemort was probably laughing his decrepit ass off. Harry's crime was the murder of someone who was already _dead_. His sentence was a life-term imprisonment in Azkaban.
That wasn't the best part, though. Oh, no, not by far. Azkaban was guarded by Dementors, and the Dementors' sole purpose was to suck the happiness from a person's soul. Of course, there was a bit of a problem in Harry's case.
All of his memories were of the people who'd betrayed him. Every "good time" in his past was already tainted with the knowledge that it had all been one big, horrible _lie_. They'd never believed in him if they could throw him aside so easily. They'd never trusted him if they could sentence him to Azkaban without even _listening_ to his side of things. And it was with that certainty that he'd realized they'd never really loved him.
So what joy did he have for the Dementors to take? Certainly not his time with the Dursleys, and definitely not his life at Hogwarts. All of the moments he'd once treasured were already ruined. Ron, Hermione, and Dumbledore's actions had been more effective in that than even a Dementor's Kiss. Sirius had privately disinherited Harry as his godson. Remus had told him that he'd dishonored his father's memory. Fred and George had tried to physically assault him, and the rest of the Weasley family was quite vocal in their hate.
Three people had stood up for him. Hagrid had told the wizarding world that they were daft if they believed Harry capable of murder, but the word of a half-giant wasn't worth much. Surprisingly, Severus Snape and Draco Malfoy had also agreed, though their words were more along the lines of, "He may be an idiot, but he's not a killer."
No, none of that was taken from him by the Dementors, because none of it was happy. Just as his knowledge that he was innocent brought him no comfort.
Harry did have one happy memory, though. Just one. And the kicker was that every time the Dementors came near him, he relived it.
/ "Lily, take Harry and go! It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off –"
The sounds of someone stumbling from a room – a door bursting open – a cackle of high-pitched laughter -
"Not Harry! Not Harry! Please – I'll do anything!"
"Stand aside! Stand side, girl!" /
Sick as it was, listening to his parents being killed by Voldemort _was_ his most precious memory. It was the only time he ever got to hear their voices, the voices of two people who he liked to believe loved him unconditionally.
What a paradox! Or so he thought. The Dementors drained the happiness from a person, forcing them to relive their worst memory. But Harry's worst memory was the only joy that he had left.
Now _that_ was fucking hilarious.
Severus Snape was one of the few people who believed Potter was innocent. He also had several connections that ensured he would be there when the boy was locked away. Perhaps he was a masochist, but he needed to be there to ensure to himself that he would never forget. So he watched, unblinking.
He watched as Harry Potter was led into his cell. Cell Z1263, he noted idly, a remote location that would be his permanent residence in Azkaban, and one of the most strictly guarded.
He watched as the Minister of Magic, Fudge himself, locked the barred door and sealed the boy off from the rest of the world. The irony was not lost on him as Fudge tucked the enchanted key into one of his pockets, no doubt intending to have it squirreled away to a remote, protected location.
He watched as the wizarding world and all of its inhabitants finalized the betrayal of their boy-wonder, who remained, to date, the only wizard who had ever thwarted Voldemort and done so repeatedly.
Severus Snape watched, his heart heavier than he could ever remember feeling. He may not have _liked_ Potter, but the boy was just that – a _boy_. A _child_ playing at things that grown wizards would shy from. A child who did not deserve to be punished for a crime he undoubtedly did not commit.
But there was nothing he could do.
Hesitantly, the Potions Master stepped forward, just a little, to watch as the Dementors swarmed to the boy's cell. He watched Potter sit down on the tiny cot, burying his face in his hands. He watched the slim shoulders begin to shake.
For a horrified moment, Severus believed the boy would cry, and for some reason, he didn't think he could bear to watch _that_.
Then something funny happened. The Dementors _hesitated_.
And the Boy-Who-Lived, slowly at first but with growing conviction, began to quietly laugh.