Title: Misguided Youth

By: Corbin

Rating: PG-13, Just to be safe, mentions some dark matter

Summary: Harry drinks a nasty potion and finds himself once again at Snape's mercy.

Thanks to my Beta reader Molly for helping me out once again!

Harry Potter sat quietly on the floor of an empty girls' bathroom at Hogwarts. The young wizard glanced down at the very old piece of parchment on the floor, and then back to the rancid smelling mixture in his cauldron.

Moaning Myrtle hovered about the cool room, absently humming a tune to herself. Harry really wanted to tell her to shut it. Her constant off-key harmony was making Harry's concentration waver, but he bit his tongue and kept on working. It wasn't often that Myrtle was in an amiable mood, and Harry had no desire to upset her and send her into a fit of self-pity. As annoying as her humming was, it was nothing in comparison to her moaning.

The young ghost watched the boy as he worked, constantly singing to herself.

Harry was very grateful that she hadn't pestered him with questions about what he was brewing; he needed to be able to focus solely on his potion and nothing else. He was not a potions expert, and he supposed he never would be. It did not help his potion brewing skills that he dreaded every moment of his potions classes because of his teacher.

Professor Severus Snape.

Professor Snape was Harry's least admired teacher at Hogwarts, and that was putting it mildly. Snape was extremely temperamental, and not one who was known for showing either patience or kindness to anyone. Harry briefly wondered what Snape would do to him once he discovered that Harry had pinched the majority of the ingredients for his potion during the daily torments of poor Neville Longbottom. It had taken several weeks to gather all of the necessary ingredients that his potion required, and what he could not "borrow" from Snape he bought from merchants in Hogsmeade.

Now the brew was nearly finished; all that remained was to stir in the powdered black mantis wings and allow the liquid to boil for an hour. Harry added the wings and gently stirred them in as he adjusted the heat of his enchanted flame beneath the cauldron. When at last the sludge had begun a hard boil he leveled off the heat and waited.

Once his hour had finally passed Harry lowered the heat and allowed the brew to gently simmer. It turned a velvety black color within a few minutes. It had turned out just as it should, and it was done. Harry ladled himself a fair dose of the thick, black goop and gave the disgusting smelling stuff a sideways glance.

"Harry!" Ron and Hermione shouted as one as they crowded into the bathroom.

"Harry, mate, where have you been? We've been searching for you everywhere! Why are you hiding in here?" Ron continued as he glanced about the bathroom with a less than fond expression on his face.

Hermione had spotted the measure of dark liquid that Harry was preparing to drink. Myrtle seemed to have noticed too, for she had stopped humming very suddenly.

"Harry? Is that-" Hermione didn't have the opportunity to finish her question. She watched in horror as Harry steeled himself and downed the entire portion of the brew that he had prepared for himself.

As he felt darkness beginning to consume his senses he smiled. Very soon he would be set free. Ron rushed forward to catch Harry as he began to drop to the floor.

Without really thinking Hermione dashed out of the bathroom. In her haste to find her head of house or Madam Pomfrey she plowed directly into Professor Snape. Snape reached out and prevented her from tumbling backward onto the hard floor. She tried to pull back quickly to resume her quest to save Harry, but Snape did not release his grasp on her arm.

"Professor Snape, please, I need to speak to Madam Pomfrey," she looked at him with fear in her voice that equaled the panic in her eyes.

"What makes this matter so urgent that you don't even have the sense to watch where you are going, Miss Granger?"

She really didn't want to explain it to him, because it wasn't as though he would care anyway. Hermione took a breath and tried to calm herself enough to explain. "It's Harry, sir. Something's wrong with him."

'Whatever gave you that idea?' Snape thought sarcastically to himself. He should have known. He noted how the girl trembled in his grasp; perhaps Potter really was in danger. "Well, take me to him and we shall see if this warrants all of this commotion."

Ron tried worriedly to restrain his friend as Harry's arms and legs flung about in a sort of nervous fit. Harry had managed to kick over what had been left of his foul-smelling potion and it had splattered all over both Ron and himself.

"Harry, please calm down, mate!" Ron called out frantically he attempted to both control Harry and avoid being punched in the eye. Ron didn't even notice when Snape and Hermione entered the room a few moments later.

Snape wrinkled his nose at the awful stench of Harry's potion. He recognized the smell immediately, and wondered how the boy learned to brew such a complicated potion correctly. Snape narrowed his eyes at Ron who was still wrestling in vain with his friend. Harry's body went rigid in Ron's arms for a brief moment, and then the boy was completely limp.

Severus crossed the bathroom to the pair of slime-covered boys and knelt near them both. Ron sat up, pulling Harry's limp form up with him. Harry's head lolled lifelessly and Ron struggled to keep him from bouncing about too much. Snape had taken a vial from his robes and poured a tiny amount of the liquid on Harry's tongue. Harry didn't make a response.

"Sir, what's the matter with him? He was fine a few moments ago," Ron spoke in a breathless tone, he felt very drained all of the sudden.

"That's not for me to say, Weasley," Snape stated in a clipped tone as he picked up the old parchment Harry had been reading when he had brewed his potion. He pocketed the paper and conjured a stretcher for Potter.

When they arrived at the hospital wing, Madam Pomfrey had quickly reassured Ron and Hermione that Harry would be all right. Then she herded them out the door, and gently suggested that they both should go and clean up for supper.

Suddenly Ron seemed to become aware of the foul stench emanating from his robes and he needed no further convincing to go to the showers. Hermione was not as easily swayed; she did not need to take a shower. She needed to know for certain that Harry was going to be okay. Because she could not argue with Madam Pomfrey and win Hermione decided to follow her advice; a shower might make her feel better. At least it would kill a bit of time if nothing else.

Poppy breathed a sigh of relief; she had expected Harry's friends to put up a stronger protest than they actually had. She was grateful that she had not had to waste time fighting with them about leaving Potter.

The mediwitch wrinkled her nose as she approached Potter. He smelled three times as bad as Weasley had. She muttered a cleaning spell over him and checked his pulse. It felt a bit weak, but it was stable thanks to Snape.

"It's a wonder that he was able to drink that vile stuff. The smell of it alone should have convinced him otherwise," Poppy stated as she adjusted a blanket over Potter.

"He was obviously very determined for some reason," Snape said as he regarded the peaceful expression on the boy's face. 'What had the boy been thinking? Was he that bad off?'

Madam Pomfrey nodded; once Potter set his sights on something he was not easily discouraged. Even something as dark as this was. "Thank you for all that you've done Professor Snape."

Snape waved her thanks away with his hand as if he were brushing away smoke. "I shall return later to look in on the boy. Please contact me when he wakes up."

She nodded without even thinking twice. This must have been serious if Snape had the desire to follow up on it.

***********

Harry groaned with displeasure. He felt so tired. It was as if he had played Quidditch all night long. He tried to reach up and rub his eyes, but he could not force his hand to respond to his thoughts. It felt like he had weights attached to his hands and feet. He wondered how long it would be before his strength returned to him.

The last thing that Harry remembered was being ready to drink his potion when Ron and Hermione had come into the room. He knew that he had drunk the potion, but had it been able to take effect?

The lights in the hospital ward were much, much too bright. His head flashed with pain as Harry attempted to squint about the room and get his bearings. He knew that he was no longer in Myrtle's bathroom. No, he was somewhere else, and he was in a bed. Well, he wasn't in his dormitory, so that left only one logical option. He was in the all too familiar hospital wing. Why had his friends interfered with him?

Out of the corner of his eye Harry spotted a swish of black. If he had been able to move he would risen from the bed and would have run away. But he was stuck as if he had been chained down. As Snape got closer, Harry's heart gave a sudden lurch.

Snape scowled, he hadn't even said anything yet, and already Harry was acting strangely. The Potions Master halted near Harry's bed and pulled up a chair. In an attempt to ignore Snape, Harry squeezed his eyes closed and feigned sleep. Even through closed eyelids Harry could feel Snape's gaze piercing through him.

"Potter, tell me what you were thinking about when you brewed that potion you drank."

Harry opened his mouth to respond, but found that his throat was too dry to make an intelligible response. The Potions Master seemed to take notice, and he thrust a glass of water beneath the boy's chin. Snape allowed him to take a few sips of the water before taking the cup back, and setting it on the night stand near Harry's bed.

"Thanks," Harry croaked out hoarsely before leaning back onto his pillows. Black eyes stared at him still waiting for his response. It was difficult to recall the way he felt; he was so tired. "I don't know what I was thinking. I do know that I was just worried about getting the potion done right. That's about it."

His response made Snape raise an eyebrow. "Have you been sleeping well at nights?"

At this question Harry felt his insides squirm uncomfortably. Of course he hadn't been sleeping well, but then he never did anymore. "Yes, sir. I suppose so," the boy lied and tried not to look away.

Snape recognized the lie, but he let it go. "Are you having difficulties with members in your house?"

He shook his head, negative. Snape's questions were growing stranger by the moment.

"What about your relations outside of Hogwarts?"

"Sir, everything's fine. Nothing has changed really," he answered quickly trying to figure out what Snape was getting at. 'Nope, the Dursleys haven't changed a bit, still the same plump gits I left a few months ago. Everything's Normal.'

"Has anything occurred which Dumbledore should be aware of?"

"No, I would have told him if anything strange had happened."

Snape reached into his robes and pulled out a small jar, about the size of a salt shaker. Upon closer inspection Harry was startled to find that instead of a potion inside the container it was some kind of furry insect. The Potions Master removed the vented lid from the small jar and the glowing blue, oddly flat caterpillar wriggled obediently out onto his palm.

Snape petted the thing affectionately and pocketed the jar. "Well Potter, I'm afraid that you must deal with the consequences of your actions. There is still a significant amount of the potion you swallowed in your system. It is only temporarily neutralized from the potion I gave to you."

Snape looked at the glowing blue worm in the palm of his hand with warmth in his eyes. Harry shuddered; Snape showing affection for anything was disturbing. "Madam Pomfrey is tending to a group of first years who managed to injure themselves trying to turn glass into candy. So, fortunately for you I am familiar with what is needed to treat your particular malady. Do you have any idea what this creature is, Potter?"

He had seen many strange animals during his Care of Magical Creatures lessons, but he'd never seen any fuzzy, flat blue worms that glowed. Harry could feel his insides squirming around again; Snape was going to torture him for stealing the potion ingredients, he was certain of it.

"This creature is a relative of the common leech. Potter, you do know what a leech is, don't you?" Snape narrowed his black eyes at the boy.

At the thought of the worm sucking his blood up like warm soup Harry's eyes went wide. Who knew how much blood it took to satisfy Snape's special leech's appetite.

The former Death Eater almost betrayed a smile of amusement, but he focused on the leech in his hand and petted it with shocking tenderness. The leech seemed to nuzzle his fingers in response.

"This particular species of leech does not thrive on wizard blood alone," Snape paused deliberately and glanced at Harry's fingers. He was sure that if the boy could have moved he would have been clenching the sheets for comfort. Instead the boy just seemed to pale a bit more. "The weakness you feel in your limbs is a side effect from the potion you dosed yourself with. If your friends hadn't acted on your behalf last night, you would have died."

'No,' Harry thought, 'I wasn't trying to do that. That's not what I thought the potion was for.'

"You may still die tonight, and your efforts will have succeeded," Snape spat as he watched Harry's expression. The boy looked a bit shocked.

He blinked, he hadn't been trying to kill himself, just be rid of the nightmares. Just to be free. A glint of metal snapped Harry back to attention, and he frowned when he realized that Snape was holding a rather sharp looking knife.

'Where was everyone else?' Had they all simply abandoned his fate to Snape? Madam Pomfrey was occupied, but where was Dumbledore? Harry wanted him to rush in and drag Snape from the room by his billowing, black robes.

"Potter."

Harry flinched.

"The leech requires a small incision to be made in your flesh to be able to purify your blood of the potion."

Incision? Snape was going to, to cut him?

"No! Don't!" Harry protested sharply as Snape reached for his right hand.

"Potter, you will die if I do not do this. Do you wish to die?"

Harry shook his head.

"I will try and make this as painless as possible."

Harry wanted to struggle badly. It was true that he didn't want to die, but he didn't want Snape to cut him either. He wanted someone else to do it.

Snape took Harry's right hand and quickly passed the sharp tip of the knife into Harry's palm until a small amount of blood welled up. The cut was not deep enough to damage any nerves, but it did hurt. Harry hissed through his teeth in displeasure. Snape guided the fuzzy leech onto Harry's hand.

The young wizard could only watch as the thing squirmed straight for the fresh cut on his palm. Harry clenched his teeth as the thing drew very close to his open wound. He fully expected to be confronted with pain as soon as that worm got close enough to start draining him. When the worm reached the open cut and began to drink Harry felt a shiver of warmth shudder through him.

"It would seem that she likes you, Potter," Snape stated as he watched Harry's eyes glaze over with a forced calm fused abruptly into his system by the leech.

He was so sleepy all of the sudden. Harry had to close his eyes because it was too difficult to keep them open anymore. The pain in his hand had been replaced by a steady, strong throb of quieting warmth. As the leech filtered Harry's blood, it pacified him to ensure that it would be allowed to feed as long as possible without being disturbed.

The Potions Master leaned back into his chair and watched. It was amazing that the small creature had Potter completely subdued. The boy was in a deeper and better sleep than he had been in a long while. Severus was grateful that the leech did not cause a great deal of pain. He was not sure if he could endure Potter screaming his head off for what would be a very long process. At that moment Severus sighed and wished that he had brought a book to read.

Two hours later Snape was alerted to the sound of the boy moaning. He glanced at the boy's hand. The leech was adjusting its position. Once it had fixed itself to feed again the tension in Harry's face relaxed and he seemed to be soothed.

When at last the leech had finished its task Snape was dozing peacefully in his chair. The change in Harry's smooth breathing brought him to alertness. Snape opened his eyes to discover that Poppy had covered him with a fuzzy forest green blanket. He shrugged the blanket off and looked at Potter's hand. The cut had healed over, and the leech had curled up in the boy's palm napping contentedly.

He reached down and gently took the small creature from Potter and returned her to the jar in his pocket.

The boy slept for a few hours longer, and when he awoke Snape was still at his bedside.

"It seems to have worked, Potter. I believe that you will make a full recovery."

Harry squinted. He felt weak, tired, but much better. He lifted his hand to rub his eyes, and to his delight the muscles wearily, but readily, responded

"Professor, was there something wrong with my potion?"

"No, Potter, it was correctly brewed."

Harry bit his lip in confusion. A potion that was brewed correctly, but was going to kill him. Perhaps he'd missed something in his research.

"I wasn't trying to do what you think," Harry mumbled.

Snape grunted, the boy had no idea what he was thinking. "Potter, I believe I understand your intent, and as misguided as you were I don't blame you for trying. The potion would have worked. The nightmares would have stopped, but then you would have died. One cannot live without dreams, Harry. Even if they are terrible ones, the mind needs them. They are just something that you'll have to live with."

Harry gaped in shock. Snape knew.

"As for the ingredients you stole from me to make your potion, we shall discuss your punishment when I feel that you are well enough."

Snape turned to leave. Harry could hear Ron and Hermione's voices in the background. They were demanding to be allowed to see him. Moments later Harry found himself being squeezed to death by Hermione.

"Glad he's gone, the slimy git," Ron spat looking in the direction Snape had billowed off in.

Harry did not reply. Somehow agreeing with Ron this time didn't feel right after what Snape had done for him.



The End. Thanks for reading! Let me know what you thought!