LIES

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter (nor anything else of any value, literary or otherwise).  I am merely borrowing the characters in order to demonstrate how resilient J.K. Rowling has created them. ;-)  Oh, and for my own enjoyment!  The only thing that is mine is the plot, and any resemblance between it and any future Harry Potter novels is accidental.  (Likewise, I apologize for anything I may have inadvertently borrowed/stolen from one of the many incredible Harry Potter fanfics that I have read.)

Summary: In sixth year, it is Harry's turn to keep secrets and lie to protect them.  SEVERITUS, with a twist.

Ships: Not the main point of the story, but will be R/Hr and H/G.

Rating: PG for serious themes.  (May change in the future.)

Warnings: Spoilers up to and including OOTP.

Chapter One: Away

In which some lies are revealed but others buried still deeper.

Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.  – Franklin D. Roosevelt

It was a beautiful day on Privet Drive, and indeed in all of Little Whinging.  This made it unsurprising to see a skinny fifteen-year-old kneeling in front of the flower beds at Number 4, weeding.  What was unusual, however, was the ferocity with which said boy was tearing the invading plants up by their roots.  Harry Potter was attempting to distract himself from the fact that he was utterly miserable.

He might have been miserable about how his "family" were treating him.  He couldn't really consider them family, whatever blood ties they might have shared, because their behavior in the past could certainly not be considered friendly, much less loving.  Since his aunt, uncle, and cousin had been threatened at King's Cross at the beginning of the holidays, however, they seemed to have taken it as a personal challenge to find more "subtle" ways to hurt him.  Thus he was covered in bruises from where he had been "accidentally" kicked, tripped, and shoved into various hard and/or sharp-edged objects.  He had especially appreciated being knocked head-over-heels down the stairs yesterday.  To his great surprise (and his cousin Dudley's displeasure), he seemed to have escaped without any broken bones, although he felt that he might have sprained his ankle.  It certainly hurt to walk on it, though it was not so much pain that he couldn't bear it.

But though he certainly didn't want to spend his summer in pain, his relatives couldn't truly be blamed as the cause of his misery.  In fact, he really felt that this was his own fault, and that he deserved whatever the Dursleys could "accidentally" dish out.  This explained why even though he had to update someone every three days as to his status, he had never mentioned the abuse.  He was not so disillusioned as to think that anyone would believe the Dursley's excuses, but a part of him felt himself unworthy of rescue.

On the other hand, he had also been unwilling to admit to the sudden, bizarre physical changes he had been experiencing.  He didn't think it was normal even for a wizard to grow six inches in under two weeks.  His uncle Vernon seemed to take this sudden growth as a personal affront, not only because it was abnormal ("your freakishness will not be tolerated in this house!") but also because Harry was now taller than him, though he still weighed considerably less.  Other bizarre changes included a change in facial shape, which was now much more narrow with especially prominent cheekbones, and a sudden change in his hair length.  It was hanging down past his shoulders now, despite the fact that it had stayed short without a haircut for at least five years up until now.  The overall effect was striking, and he hadn't considered the implications until yesterday.  What he found was that he no longer looked anything like his (supposed) father, James Potter.  Instead, he bore a strong and unmistakable resemblance to Professor Severus Snape, the potions master who hated him above any of his other students.  There was a conclusion there that he didn't even want to consider.

However, this too Harry found to be a distraction from his misery, rather than a cause.  No, his misery most definitely stemmed from the death of his godfather at the end of the previous term.  He had died, and Harry knew that it was his fault.  He had experimented with blaming others, at first—Dumbledore, Kreacher, and Snape all made apparently good candidates for that.  But in the final calculation, Harry knew that he was the one who could have prevented Sirius' death, if he hadn't been so abysmally stupid for nearly all of the previous school year.

He didn't want to count how many times he had been through this in his head.  He wished he could banish these memories from his mind.  If he had been offered a pensieve to remove them, however, he knew that he would have refused, because he deserved to relive Sirius' death every night.  After all, it had been his fault.  At least he no longer cried out in his sleep—a few beatings from his uncle and some not-so-benign teasing from Dudley had been enough to break him of that.

Not only did he have all of this weighing on him, but for the first time he found that he was not looking forward to Hogwarts, the boarding school he attended to learn the magical arts, nor even returning to the wizarding world in general.  Having finally been informed of the prophecy made about him so many years ago, he now knew that all that awaited him in the world he had considered his own for the last five years were lies and death.  He certainly couldn't tell his friends of the fact that he would either kill Voldemort or be killed by him, and he knew now how much of a danger he was to those around him.

Having finished weeding, Harry dragged himself inside, trying to ignore his angry muscles and his screaming ankle.  "Boy!  You had better take a shower and make dinner quickly, Vernon will be home soon!"  Aunt Petunia's whiny voice warned him as he entered the house.  He sighed.

"Yes, Aunt Petunia," he responded wearily, then dragged himself up the stairs, relieved that Dudley was out at a friend's home.  It was hard enough to control his newly lanky body, without his cousin ready to sabotage Harry's every effort.  His cousin was not someone he considered creative and he felt certain that he would try at least once more to send Harry flailing down the stairs before the summer was over.

Later in the evening, Harry found himself back in Dudley's second bedroom, the door locked from the outside as usual.  His uncle had told him that this was to prevent him from "getting into mischief while we're all sleeping" but he knew that it was to keep him from filching any food from the kitchen.  His stomach wished he could, as they had been feeding him as little as usual, and this summer his body was growing.  On the other hand, it meant he had some warning before anyone entered his room.  This meant that he felt safe reading his DADA book by candlelight in the evenings.  He wished he could practice the hexes he was reading about (particularly on Dudley!), but found that studying was better than nothing.  It was certainly better than sleeping.

He glanced at his alarm clock and saw that it read 12:13.  With a start of surprise he realized that it was his birthday.  He was sixteen.  He leaned over to look out the window, and noticed the suspicious absence of the usual peck of owls bearing an assortment of birthday gifts.  He considered this.  Harry had learned his lesson after the summer between his first and second years at Hogwarts and knew that his friends would not abandon him, and it seemed unlikely that Dobby was once again trying to "save his life".

The alternative was that they wanted to give him his presents in person.  If everyone had decided to do that (which seemed to be the case based on the fact that he had received none of his presents) then that probably meant that they believed they would be seeing him soon.  Any other year he would be ecstatic, but this year, he wanted time to himself.  He still hadn't figured out exactly why he suddenly looked so different, and he wanted to work it out for himself rather than putting himself in a position to be lied to again, or refused an answer.  Likewise, he wasn't ready to start lying to his friends, and he knew that lying was indeed going to be necessary if he wanted to keep them unaware of the prophecy.

His entire train of thought was interrupted when he heard a door open downstairs.  He froze and listened, and confirmed that he could hear the snoring of all three of the occupants of the house.  So who was opening a door downstairs?  He pulled his wand from his back pocket (where he continued to keep it despite a warning from Mad-Eye Moody that it was unsafe) and held it at the ready.  Mentally he cursed the ministry, which made it necessary that he wait to give any deatheaters a shot a him so that he could confirm he was in danger before shooting off a well-placed Expelliarmus or Stupefy.

For several nerve-wracking moments Harry could hear nothing in the house but the snoring of his relatives.  He took a step toward the door, thinking he might need to explore the house on his own, then remembered that his door was locked.  Still, that meant he would have some warning (if only a brief "Alohamora") before anyone entered his room.

Suddenly he heard a step creak.  He knew that step; the second step from the top always made that sound.  He had memorized it back when he lived in the cupboard under the stairs and that creaking noise had woken him each time anyone had gone up or down.  He tensed and waited for the inevitable.

"Why is his door locked?" a familiar whisper asked from the other side of the door.

Was that… "Professor Lupin?" he called out hesitantly.  In an instant a feeling of panic rushed over him.  Remus Lupin, of all people, was not who he wanted to find out about his strange physical changes.  After all, the man had been best friends with his (supposed) father; what would he think when he saw that Harry was no longer a carbon copy of James Potter, but in fact looked much more similar to one of their worst enemies from their school years?

"Harry?  Just a moment… Alohamora!" responded the voice that Harry was now certain was that of his former professor.  A moment later the weary man, who as usual looked many years older than he actually was, had stepped in and closed the door behind himself.  Harry waited for the gasp of shock that he was sure to come, but it never did.  "Harry?  Is something wrong?"

"Wh—What are you doing here?" was his answer finally.

"I'm here to take you out of here.  Dumbledore thinks you've spent long enough here, and I thought this might be a nice birthday present."  He glanced toward the door, then back at Harry.  "I know you don't like it here much."  Now he looked Harry up and down and Harry once again held his breath waiting for an exclamation of surprise.  "Well, you've certainly grown since I saw you last.  About time, isn't it?"

Harry gaped at him for a moment, the conversational tone the werewolf was using completely and utterly unexpected.  He raised his hand up to run it through his hair, a nervous gesture that he still hadn't stopped even though the feeling wasn't as satisfying now that he had long hair… but wait a moment, his hair felt short again!  What was going on??

"Harry?  Are you alright?  You're very quiet, I thought you would be excited."  He was giving Harry an appraising look.

"I'm fine," Harry assured him quickly, despite the fact that he wasn't all that certain that that was the case.  "Am I—where are we going?"

Remus' eyes fell on Harry's trunk.  "Looks like you're already packed.  Is there anything that isn't in your trunk already?"

It wasn't as though he had deliberately packed, more that he had been too apathetic to unpack.  However, he had stashed his more important items—the photo album of his parents that he had been given from Hagrid, and his invisibility cloak—under the loose floorboard in case the Dursleys changed their minds and took his trunk.  He wouldn't put it past them to try to burn everything "magic" he owned, and though most things could be replaced, those mementos of his parents could not.  He reached down and retrieved the two objects and placed them into his still open trunk.  "Now it's all packed.  Now where are we going?"

"We're going by portkey.  Go ahead and take a seat on your trunk, and then we'll go."

Harry frowned.  "Why aren't you telling me where we're going?"  All of a sudden he realized how foolish he had been.  How did he know that this was his former professor, and not someone impersonating him using polyjuice?  He of all people knew how easily that could be done, and here he was completely ignoring the possibility!  "Tell me something that only you know."

Remus looked surprised, then his eyes showed his understanding.  He sighed, thinking for a moment.  "We used a boggart to practice your Patronus in third year because they become dementors for you."

Harry nodded, satisfied.  "Now, where are we going?"

"Harry, I shouldn't tell you.  Just sit down on your trunk and we can talk when we get there, alright?"

Harry frowned again.  "I'm not going back to—to Order headquarters, unless it has been moved."  He stopped himself just short of saying Grimmauld Place, knowing that it was important to keep the secrecy in case they were still using it.  The thought hurt him, knowing that his godfather was dead but that they might still be using his house.  How could they stand to be in it?  He certainly couldn't.

"Harry…"  The werewolf frowned.  "Take a seat on your trunk.  We need to get there, there are people waiting for us."

He narrowed his eyes.  "You are trying to take me there, aren't you?" he said incredulously.  "Well, I'm not coming.  I'll just stay here, thanks."  With a scowl he crossed his arms across his chest and showing no sign of moving.

Remus sighed.  "Please, Harry, you don't want to stay here through the whole summer, do you?"

"I'm not going," the boy reiterated.

A moment later, something was flying at his face.  "Catch!" called the werewolf urgently, and catch whatever it was Harry did.  Immediately he felt a familiar tug behind his navel and felt himself spinning away with a cry of frustration.  How could Professor Lupin do this to him??

A moment later he landed in the middle of the living room at Grimmauld Place, a spark plug in his hand.  He winced at the impact as he put his weight on his bad ankle, but quickly took it off.  To his surprise, Tonks was standing directly in front of him, green hair and all.  "Wotcher, Harry!" she greeted him happily.

He was not in the mood.  "I took the portkey on accident, I don't want to be here.  I want to go back," he told her immediately.

"Sorry, Harry, but Dumbledore wants you here."

Suddenly he felt fury rising up inside of him.  Once again, Dumbledore was interfering with his life.  Who did he think he was to control people like this?  He wasn't staying here, no matter what anyone wanted.

He spun around to run for the front door, and came face to face with Alastor Moody himself.  He turned his head far enough to the right to see that Kingsley Shacklebolt was standing there, and to the left was… Professor Snape.

Feeling trapped didn't make him want to run any less.  In fact, it only increased his need to get away from here.  Deciding to go for the least expected route in an attempt at surprise, he ran at Moody and then quickly rolled just to his right, wincing at the pain this caused in the bruises that covered nearly his entire body.  Coming to his feet past Moody and Shacklebolt, he broke into a sprint for the door—or tried.  Instead, his bad ankle gave out abruptly and with a cry of pain he hit the floor for the second time that evening.

He felt three spells speed just over his head, smashing into the chair that he had been preparing to dodge around.  He scrambled to his feet, but by this time Kingsley Shacklebolt had reached him and captured him in a bear hug that pinned his arms to his sides and left his feet barely touching the ground.

Crying out in pain, he struggled violently against the older wizard.  When the man tightened his grasp, however, he stilled with a gasp, a tear leaking out of his eye despite his best effort.  His ribs were screaming in agony.  He looked down, not wanting to make eye contact with any of the wizards, whose feet he could see coming around to stand in front of him.

A moment later, he heard the sound of something heavy landing out in the hallway.  A moment later, another pair of feet entered the room, wearing the same pair of shoes that Remus had been earlier.  He didn't say a word, and Harry guessed he was communicating silently with the others about what had happened.  What he wanted to know was how they had known what his reaction was going to be so well that they had him surrounded when he had arrived.

He heard the voice of the auror holding him speaking in his ear, quietly.  "I'm going to let you go now, Harry, but we've all got you covered with our wands and we're not above using a full body bind if we think you're going anywhere.  Understand?"

Harry remained stubbornly still and silent.  A moment later, he heard Lupin's voice.  "Harry…"

"I'm not speaking to you," Harry informed him curtly.

There must have been more silent conversation because a moment later the auror had released him.  Immediately he fell to the ground, hugging his rib cage gently and moaning slightly despite attempting to remain silent.

"Harry?" came Tonks' voice.  Harry didn't he'd ever heard her so hesitant.  "How did you get hurt?"

"Isn't it obvious?" came Snape's dry voice in reply.  "He was probably doing something foolhardy, as usual ignoring everyone's best efforts to keep him safe."

This was just too much for him.  "Well I wouldn't want to make you give up your favorite verbal punching bag by being a good little boy," Harry spat out in response.  "I know I make such a good target, the famous hero of the wizarding world, spoiled at home, Dumbledore's favorite at school, and the son of your worst enemy."  He looked up then, directly into Snape's dark eyes, his own blazing with uncontained fury.  "Would it burst your bubble to know that my injuries are from the family that "spoils" me, because Dumbledore is more worried about his own plans to use me to save the wizarding world than he is about whether I am actually safe with my magic-phobic relatives?"  His potions professor's eyes were unreadable, but he continued on without a thought.  "Maybe you think it would have been better if they had succeeded in beating the magic out of me before I had ever gotten to Hogwarts?  Then you wouldn't have had to ever see my face, to hold a grudge against me for something stupid that James Potter did, who probably wasn't even—"  Harry stopped, abruptly, realizing how much he had said and what he had been about to say.  He had already given away far too much.  He glared spitefully at Snape for another moment, then looked away, avoiding the eyes of every other occupant of the room.

The room was deathly silent for what seemed like an eternity.  Finally, he heard Moody and Shacklebolt's moving out of the room, and Snape swept away as well.  A moment later Lupin knelt down in front of him.  "Why didn't you tell us, Harry?  You sent word every three days, and you always said you were okay."

He looked up and saw the disappointment and worry in the werewolf's eyes.  "I just said all that to make him feel guilty," Harry responded in a dead voice, unable to even attempt to make it sound more believable.  He couldn't believe what he had let himself say.  He had kept it all a secret for so long, only for it to get out now… and instead of finally getting one up on Snape, he had only handed him more ammunition.  Now he knew that no one loved Harry, not even his few remaining blood relatives.

"I don't doubt that you wanted to make him feel guilty, but I don't think you meant to say that at all.  Which makes me ask again—why didn't you tell us?"

He stayed silent and stubbornly stared at a small blemish in the floor.  He wished he could do this night all over again.  He could have not caught the portkey, or maybe he could have managed to run even with his bad ankle… or he could have controlled his temper and his tongue and never told his least favorite professor all his deepest secrets.  He was so angry at himself.  He balled up his fists, mentally cursing himself.

Remus sighed.  "Tonks, I think you should get Dumbledore," he said softly to the young woman.  Harry heard her footsteps walk away.

"No!" he found himself crying out, no matter how much he would have preferred to stay silent.  He lowered his voice, but kept it loud enough for Tonks to hear.  "He doesn't need to come.  I told you I lied."

"Regardless of whether you lied or told the truth, Harry, I think it's time Dumbledore paid us a visit."

Harry shook his head violently but turned his eyes to the floor, and finally keeping his lips sealed shut.  Why, oh why had he been so stupid?

Dumbledore appeared surprisingly quickly, and Harry couldn't help but wonder what he'd been doing up at this late hour.  "Remus, Harry?" Dumbledore greeted with a question in his voice as he entered the room.  Either Tonks hadn't told him why he was needed, or he was playing innocent to get the information first-hand.

When it became obvious that Harry was not going to initiate the conversation, the werewolf did instead.  "It seems Harry was hurt at some point this summer.  In a… conversation… with Severus, he implicated that it had been the result of abuse by his relatives... and that this was not the first time."

A moment's silence was followed by Dumbledore's serious voice.  Harry was certain without looking that the headmaster's eyes had lost their twinkle, as they were accustomed to do in only the most serious of situations.  "Is this true, Harry?"

"I lied," he insisted again, his voice dead.  He forced a bit more life into it, even though he didn't feel it inside.  "I'm not hurt badly anyhow, I just fell.  Sn—Professor Snape just made me so mad…"

"And why would it occur to you to suggest such a thing, Harry, even as a lie?  This is a very serious thing to accuse."  Harry was tempted to look up, to examine the headmaster's face, but he knew that he would see many things that he did not want to see… disappointment, worry, …perhaps even anger.

"He just doesn't understand… he thinks the Dursleys, and everyone else, worship the ground I walk on… it makes me so mad!"

"That is still no excuse for lying."

"I know, sir."  Maybe, just maybe, he was going to get out of this without—

"Now, I'm going to call Poppy to take a look at your injuries and fix you up, and then we are going to discuss your apology to Professor Snape and your punishment."

"No!"  In his surprise and panic his eyes moved, seemingly of their own accord, from the spot on the ground at which he had been staring all the way up to the headmaster's face.  What he saw caused him to freeze for a moment.  The man looked so old, even older than he had looked just after the incident at the Department of Mysteries.  His face was filled with sadness, disappointment, worry, and his eyes were completely devoid of their usual sparkle… Harry spoke painfully past the lump that had suddenly formed in his throat.  "I—I'm fine, you don't need to wake her.  It's nothing, really, just a bruise…"

He met those eyes, those amazing eyes that usually held a sparkle and evidence of abundant life, and that were now so dead… Suddenly he found that he could not look away, and he knew that the headmaster was looking into him, was seeing straight through the lies that he was so desperately trying to tell.  The older man was the one to break the eye contact finally, closing his eyes as if in pain.  "No, Harry, I think it is much more than a bruise."  He opened his eyes and looked to Harry's former professor, nodding to him presumably to ask him to go get the Hogwarts medi-witch himself.  The weary younger man nodded once and walked away.

Harry buried his face in his hands, wishing he could just disappear.  He heard Dumbledore's footsteps walking away, and several people conversing in low tones.  Then he heard a set of footsteps approaching again, and he was surprised to find that he could recognize them as those of Madam Pomfrey, the medi-witch from Hogwarts.  He supposed that he shouldn't be surprised, based on how much time he had spent laying in the hospital wing, unable to go anywhere for fear of the woman's fierce temper (and for the secondary reason that he might reinjure himself).

"Now, Mr. Potter, what seems to be the problem?" he heard her ask him, and from the way her voice was coming from above him, he suspected she was still standing, looking down at his crumpled form and wondering where to start.

"I told them not to call you," he mumbled.

"What was that?"

"I said, there's no problem.  I told them not to call you."  He honestly didn't see what they thought was such a big deal.  So he had a few bruises; hardly something to call the medi-witch in the middle of the night for.

"Then you won't mind removing your shirt for me, will you, Mr. Potter?"

"I'd rather not," he replied quickly.  A little of the panic had returned, as he knew that the sight hidden beneath his shirt was not a pretty one.  This was all going to become blown out of proportion very quickly, he knew.

"I'm afraid that I'm not very interested in your desires at the moment, Mr. Potter.  Please remove your shirt or I will be forced to do it myself."

Somehow Harry was not surprised that there existed a spell to remove someone's clothing, and he had no doubt that Madam Pomfrey would have no problems doing just as she said.  With a sigh, he gingerly removed the shirt, wincing at the pain that the necessary movements caused him.  When he had removed it, he heard a gasp from the woman.  "Albus, I think you'd better—" she began to call out to the headmaster.  In an instant, Harry had his shirt halfway back on.  He was not going to let this get out of control, and he knew that that was exactly what would happen if Dumbledore or Professor Lupin saw what lay underneath his shirt.

"Oh no, none of that!" exclaimed Madam Pomfrey, and then, "Accio shirt!"  In an instant Harry's shirt was out of his hands and in hers, and another moment later he heard twin gasps from the doorway, indicating that the very people he had been trying to hide from had learned of his secret.  Reluctantly he looked up and into their faces.

Sure enough, both men were looking horrified and saddened by what they could see.  Harry found himself crossing his arms across his chest self-consciously.  However, as his eyes continued to take in the scene at the doorway, he saw something completely unexpected.  There, just behind the headmaster and his former professor was his potions master, his face carefully schooled into neutrality as he watched Harry.  Their eyes met for a moment, and then Harry tore his away and directed them back toward the floor.

"Who did this to you, Mr. Potter?" asked the medi-witch, her voice professional but not devoid of the undertones of her emotions about the situation.

"I fell down the stairs."

"You could have fallen down the stairs ten times and that wouldn't have caused what I'm seeing.  Now what really happened?"

"I fell down the stairs," he repeated stubbornly.  "It looks worse than it is."

"Harry…" Remus' voice had a warning tone to it, and he knew he had reached the end of his ability to deny the injuries.  Still, he did not want to admit what had really happened.

"I don't see why you care, anyway!  So I have a few bruises, big deal!"

"This is more than a few bruises, Harry!"  At some point, his former professor had moved closer again.  Harry looked up at him, only to see him with his hand raised.  Instinctively he jerked back, scuttling a few feet back without a thought.  Only after he had reacted did he realized that the older man had likely just been about to put a comforting hand on his shoulder.  Remus looked hurt now.

"I—I'm sorry.  I don't know what's wrong with me," he blurted quickly.

Remus managed a weak smile.  "Come on, let's get you into the other room.  You can lie down and Poppy can see about healing your—bruises."  He stood to his feet and held out his hand for Harry to take it.  Harry managed to get to his feet, but when he attempted to take a step on his bad ankle, it gave out from under him again.  Fortunately Remus caught him, and a moment later he had picked him up entirely.  "Harry!  Have you had anything to eat this summer?" he asked immediately, looking at Harry's slight form worriedly.  "You hardly weigh anything!"

"Yes I've eaten," he responded in an offended tone.  Almost every day, he continued to himself.

In what seemed like only seconds, he was in one of the downstairs bedrooms that he had only seen in passing the summer before.  Professor Lupin set him on the bed, and he instantly started to sit up, but was pushed down gently.  "Just relax, Harry."

A moment later, Madam Pomfrey pushed a goblet of potion into his hands.  "Drink this."  Accustomed to her "assertive" nature when it came to healing, he drank it without asking what it was.  He almost regretted it when he felt a strange fuzziness come over him.

"What was that?" he asked quietly, though for some reason he couldn't really find it in himself to care too much.

"A calming draught, dear."  She busied herself for a moment with doing various medical scans, then gasped.  "You have two broken ribs!  When did your ribs start hurting?"

"I don't know…" he replied wearily.  "Uncle Vernon kicked me in the ribs while I was weeding, and Dudley shoved me down the stairs…"  He considered for a moment.  "Or maybe it was when he shoved me into the coffee table?"

"Oh dear…" was her response, along with a look over her shoulder.  "Are you hearing this?"

Harry frowned.  "That was no calming draught…"  He had just realized that he hadn't meant to tell them any of that.  Receiving no response, he continued to talk absentmindedly.  "It was all on accident…"  He chuckled bitterly.  "As if they thought anyone would believe that.  Even Dudley isn't that stupid…"

Dumbledore stepped up to the side of the bed, carefully staying out of the way of Poppy.  "Why were they hurting you, Harry?"

Harry laughed dryly again.  "They need a reason?  They never have before!"  He paused for a moment.  "Uncle Vernon was mad that Moody had threatened him at the train station… and that I was growing… Maybe that was it?"

"Why would he hurt you for growing?" asked the medi-witch, pausing in the midst of her examination and healing with a perplexed expression on her face.

"He thought it was magic."  He lowered his voice to a whisper.  "He really doesn't like magic.  He thinks I'm a freak, he used to think if he punished me enough he could beat the magic out of me."  He gave a grin that would have been considered goofy if it weren't for the fact that all the witnesses were horrified by the words that were coming out of his mouth.  "Say, I don't think I was supposed to tell you that…"

"It's alright, dear, you just get rest.  I think we know enough now."

"Yes, Harry, just close your eyes and relax, you're safe now," added Professor Dumbledore.  Harry smiled beatifically and did as he was told, his breathing evening out within moments.

Author's note:  So what do you think?  Please review, positive or negative, even if it is short.  This is my first HP fic and I need to know how I'm doing.  In addition, I am searching for a beta for this story.  If the premise of the story interests you and you think you can help me to refine the story (I'm especially searching for someone who is good at Brit-picking, as I am American), then please let me know, either in a review or at molly_morrison@yahoo.com.  Thanks for reading!  :-)