A/N-Hey! This is ckat44 coming back at you in the fanfiction world! I have been absent for a few months but in the next month I will be updating this story, Tangle with Affliction and Portrait of the Man on the Moon several times. Sorry for the wait and thanks for being patient. I had this on the name qilonil for personal reasons that don't apply anymore. I will take this story of of qilonil tommorow.
Warning:This story does have drug references, alchohol, smoking and child abuse. Snape is also a bit OOC. I know this! Don't have your reviews tell me this. Don't read if you don't like!
Disclaimer: This doesn't belong to me. It belongs to J.K Rowling.
Chapter One: Dependence
Harry walked slowly to the potions master's classroom, feet dragging as he trailed his hand along the stones of the wall. He had been ordered to continue the dreaded Occlumency lessons with Snape. He didn't even care about Occluding his mind anymore. He felt like it was useless to learn something like that after Sirius had died. He was gone and nothing mattered anymore. There was no reason to try and fail at Occlumency again. The final showdown between Voldemort and himself would happen, whether or not he could clear his mind. But like everything else in his life, he had no choice whether or not he wanted to take these lessons. No choices ever, except for... no. Best not think about anything he would rather keep secret before one of Snape's hellish lessons.
He was not looking forward to dealing with Snape. The terms that they had left on last School Term could not have been worse. The accident with the Pensieve would make the horrid relationship they had for the last 5 years even more despicable than it had ever been. He would never understand Snape's hatred of him. He knew that people hated and hurt others for no reason, he had known that for his entire life, but he would never understand why. But it didn't matter now. It didn't matter. He reached up to knock on the door and waited. He didn't have to wait long.
Snape flung open the door to reveal the arrogant boy standing at its threshold. This boy, this arrogant golden child who had violated his privacy by snooping into his personal, embarrassing memories. He'd like nothing better than to strangle him where he stood. Snape still couldn't figure out how Dumbledore had roped him teaching this boneheaded whelp once again. He clenched one fist, hidden beneath his robe sleeve. He would do his duty but it would not be pleasant for the boy.
"I'm here for my lessons sir," Harry said without making eye contact. He waited in the doorway for whatever condemnation Snape chose to lash out this time. It was expected and Harry was determined not to let it bother him this time. It didn't matter anymore.
"Well don't just stand there like an idiot boy," Snape sneered. "Let's get this over with." He turned and stalked angrily back into his office.
Harry followed quickly, obediently. He did not want to be here. There was no point to it but he had no choice. Snape whirled behind his desk and placed himself in his chair ill temperedly. Harry sat in the chair in front of Snape's desk and waited. Snape shuffled through some papers on his desk tempestuously and slammed them into a drawer before addressing Harry once more.
"Have you been practicing or are you once again going to insult my intelligence by coming to these lessons unprepared and wasting my time," Snape said maliciously.
"I have been practicing," Harry gritted out in annoyance but still did not look in the professor's eyes.
"Then get to your feet and empty your mind. You've delved into my most private memories, so I'm going to look into yours if you are unable to keep me from them," Snape hissed. He couldn't wait to make the boy feel the embarrassment he'd faced when Harry had gotten access to his Pensieve.
"I didn't mean to do that!" Harry spat. "It isn't as if I liked what I saw!" He did not want his most private memories being seen and especially by Snape. The vindictive git would take and use everything he could against him. Harry shifted in his chair wishing he could bolt through the door.
Snape scowled and forced himself to control his anger. "Your lies may get past everyone else at this school Potter, but remember that I see through you. You're exactly like your arrogant, selfish, bullying father. Now, do not make me repeat myself. Get. To. Your. Feet." he said slowly with an underlying growl.
Harry scoffed but tried to ignore what the cruel man said. He stood up and finally looked into Snape's eyes. He tried not to think about the one thing that he most desperately wished to keep from Snape. Clear your mind Harry, clear your mind! He tried to push everything out but he didn't manage to do it in time before the spell was cast.
"Legilimens!" Snape shouted. He probed into the idiot's mind, seeking out the part that he could feel Potter was trying to hide.
Harry tried desperately to push him out but it wasn't working.
"Move Potter!" Uncle Vernon said and shoved him down the front porch stairs. Overbalanced, Harry tumbled down the stairs and landed on the concrete with a sharp hit to the head. Through the throbbing pain, he looked down to see splatters of blood on the ground. His hand reached up to feel the wound and came back with a smudge of blood. "I want you to-" Vernon was cut off as Harry found himself on the floor in front of Snape. Oh no! How would he explain that?
Snape looked at the boy in surprise. Surely that couldn't have been what it looked like. Maybe it was an emergency and Potter had been getting in the way as usual as his uncle was trying to get help or go to help someone. That made sense didn't it? Because there was no way it could have been what it looked like. This was Potter, after all. "What was that, Potter?"
"Nothing," Harry said all to quickly. He slowed down a bit. "I was getting in his way. It isn't important," Harry lied rather convincingly. He stood up and tried to clear his mind once again.
Snape nodded. Just as he thought. "Legilimens!"
Harry managed to keep Snape out for a little longer but when Snape finally managed to break in this time the scene was worse.
"Potter, what did I tell you about Dudley's presents!" Vernon roared.
"I didn't touch any of them!" Harry insisted.
"Like hell you did. I see a rip in three of them. What is your problem boy? You don't get enough from us? Food, clothing, a room? You ungrateful little prick!" Harry was backhanded and then shoved violently away. He grunted in pain as he smashed sideways into a tall table covered with photo frames. He desperately flailed his arms out to try to catch himself, but knocked into more photo frames instead. Several glass ones shattered and rained down on him as he fell, cutting into the reflexive arm he had raised to protect his face. He cringed at the pain as the glass slashed into him.
"You little freak! Look what you've done!" Vernon spat. He was kicked and then yanked up by his less hurt arm. The other one had already started to bleed from the cuts the glass had made. Harry felt sick as he realized that there were still several shards imbedded in his arm.
"I can't stand the sight of you!" Vernon yelled as he forcibly dragged Harry the short distance to the cupboard under the stairs, his meaty hand digging into his arm with malice.
"Stop, please!" Harry pleaded. He wanted to get the glass out of his arm. It hurt so bad.
"Shut up!" Vernon yelled as opened up the door to the cupboard under the stairs. Harry was shoved in and then the door was slammed closed. NO! Harry couldn't believe Snape was seeing this!
Harry once again found himself on the floor in the dungeons breathless, disoriented and humiliated as usual. He jumped up without looking at the man in front of him and turned to try to make his way to the door quickly.
Snape was not so inclined to let the boy go without confronting what he had seen. He reached out and grabbed Harry's shoulder to keep him from running.
Harry flinched. "No!" He said desperately. "Let me go!"
Snape looked at the boy, his mind buzzing with shock. He couldn't comprehend what he'd just seen. "Who was that?" he asked breathlessly.
"No one, let me go!" Harry said in anger instead of fright this time.
"Was that your uncle?" Snape asked in shock. "It was, wasn't it?"
"No of course not, why would my uncle hit me? My uncle loves me and spoils me rotten. I'm the golden boy remember? It doesn't matter just let me go," Harry said in a hurry, still in Snape's grip
Snape grasped Harry's wrist tightly with one hand and with the other, quickly pulled up the boy's sleeve before the boy could do anything. He was horrified to see the irritated cuts all over the boy's arm. The memory had been real.
Harry yanked his arm out of the potions master's grasp and pushed his sleeve back down over his arm, trying not to wince. He eyed Snape cautiously, trying to decide what the man would do next and how he would get out of this mess.
Snape pinched the bridge of his nose as his mind spun. How had this happened? "We're going to the headmaster."
Harry blanched. "No! Why do you care? It was an accident. Why do you care?" Harry repeated. He had to find a way out of this!
"I don't care!" Snape yelled, but he wasn't sure if it was true. "I don't want to deal with this. This is not my problem. Dumbledore is much better suited for this kind of crap," he rambled.
"There is no crap to deal with! There is no problem. It was an accident. Dumbledore won't talk to me anyway. It doesn't matter!"
"Don't you get it, Potter?" Snape sneered, looking into the boy's eyes. "Your uncle abused you."
Harry shivered at that word and the tone of it. "He did not a-abuse me! It was an accident!" Harry was lying but he would not back down.
"An accident. An ACCIDENT?" Snape yelled incredulously. "That was no accident. People don't accidentally do things like that unless you have some warped view of human behavior. I can't deal with this, I'm going to take you to Dumbledore. Come on," he said, starting toward the door.
"No!" Harry didn't know what to do. How could he have let anyone find out? The Dursleys had never been remotely decent to him, but the more abusive behavior had only started this summer. He knew why it had started. It was because the Order threatened the Dursleys. Harry had done nothing to protect himself when it started. He had deserved it but he couldn't let Dumbledore find out about it. If the headmaster found out then everyone would and then they would all know how weak Harry really was. He had no choice but to beg.
"Professor please. I don't need help. Dumbledore doesn't need this. It really doesn't matter. Professor, please. I'm sorry about the Pensieve. I didn't mean to look into it. I was mad about what I saw and yelled at Sir-my godfather for it. Please just don't tell Dumbledore anything."
Snape was stunned for the second time that night. He couldn't believe Potter was acting like this. He opened his mouth to tell the boy that of course the headmaster needed to know about it, but instead found himself saying something entirely different, "You yelled at your godfather about my memory?"
"Yes," Harry said a little taken aback at the question. Harry straightened the sleeve around his hurt arm and tried not to wince at the pain as the fabric moved against his irritated cuts.
Snape looked at the boy in disbelief, momentarily forgetting the greater problem. "Why?"
Harry was relieved to move on to a different topic, even if it was a distressing one. "Because what they did was stupid. It was pointless and I didn't like that they did it simply because they were bored."
Snape studied the other boy in silence for a few moments, just staring at him in disbelief. He couldn't grasp the fact that he had been wrong about the boy. It left him feeling confused. Yet somehow, he felt a bit warmer towards Potter, even though he tried to push it away. He inwardly sighed. "Sit down on the couch," he said evenly.
Harry would do anything not to talk to Dumbledore so he quietly obliged, hiding any signs that there was pain coming from his arm or any other part of his body.
Snape went over to his potions cabinet and took out several healing salves and some sterile cloths and brought a chair over to face the boy. He was prepared to clean the cuts on the boy's arms, but suddenly wondered if that was all that was hurt. "Take off your shirt," he demanded calmly.
Harry shied away. "No..."
Snape looked at Potter with a masked expression. "Fine, then I will take you to Madam Pomfrey."
"No!" Harry said as he quickly reached to take off his shirt. He winced in pain, not hiding it this time. He finally got the shirt off and slumped down self-consciously.
Snape stared in horror at the vivid bruises and cuts littering the boy's torso and arms. "What the bloody hell?" he murmured before asking, "How long has this been going on? And I suggest you do not lie to me." He added in case the boy claimed that it was nothing more than an accident again.
"Um...just since the end of term," Harry said as if that was the shortest time in the world.
"Merlin, Potter! Why didn't you tell anyone? And what the hell triggered your uncle into becoming abusive?" Snape asked incredulously.
Harry winced at that word. He so hated it. "Um...I don't know," Harry said suddenly not wanting to be anywhere near Snape.
"Hand me your arm," Snape said in a business-like tone.
Harry slowly did so, looking away. He never looked at the results of the abuse if he could avoid it.
Snape gently took Potter's arm and wiped the cuts with a clean rag covered in healing balm. "Potter, you know I'm going to have to inform the headmaster about this," Snape said coolly as he carefully cleaned the boy's cuts.
"You can't do that," Harry said pulling his arm away.
"And why not?" Snape asked, pulling Harry's arm back with a stern look and continued to heal the cuts as best he could.
"Because! You can't!" Harry would not say why. He couldn't.
"If you can't give me a good reason, then I have no excuse, nor desire to keep this from him," Snape threatened. He wasn't sure why he hadn't just brought the boy to Dumbledore in the first place. Somehow, he felt his compassion for the young Gryffindor. He immediately pushed that feeling away.
"Professor," Harry sighed. He would try something out first. "Dumbledore doesn't care. He will send me back no matter what. He wouldn't even look at me last year."
"Are you mad, Potter?" Snape asked incredulously. "The headmaster would never let you go back to that household if he knew what was going on. You are not going back."
This wasn't working. Harry didn't know what he should do. "Professor...." He wanted to find the words to say what he must but he couldn't.
"No, Potter, you are not going back and of course the headmaster will need to be informed in order for him to place you in proper care," Snape explained with more patience than he knew he possessed.
"Professor, it's not just that," he went on and then stopped, at a loss for words.
"Potter, what in the world are you on about?" Snape asked sharply. "I suggest you start speaking in full sentences, because I can not even understand what case you are trying to make."
Harry screwed up his courage to say what the real problem was, what he thought he would never get a real chance to say to anyone. "Professor, everyone thinks I am strong, the 'golden' boy. If they find out that I can't even stand up to a Muggle what do you think they will think of the great Boy-who-lived," Harry sneered hatefully at himself.
Snape sat there stunned. He had always prided himself on being able to really see who Harry Potter was, but now it seemed that he was just as in the dark as everyone else, even if it was in a different way. What was he supposed to say? He wasn't going to lie to the boy about the world's expectations of him. "Neither Dumbledore nor myself nor anyone worthwhile would ever think you were less able because of what your uncle did."
"If you hadn't found out about this from me directly, then you would have definitely thought less of me, not that you have ever thought of me as anything greater than less." Harry said resignedly.
Snape winced. It was true, he'd always thought of the boy as nothing more than the offspring of his wretched father. It seemed however that there might be more to Harry than met the eye. "Potter, don't be ridiculous. You're the headmaster's favourite student. He would never think less of you for something somebody else did," Snape said with a bit of bitterness to his voice. He'd always disapproved of Dumbledore so blatantly picking favourites.
"Maybe he wouldn't but what do you think is going to happen once Dumbledore finds out? The Order will find out, Sirius- I mean... Remus and Hermione and Ron will find out and then everyone will find out. And what about you?"
"What about me, Potter?" Snape asked uncomfortably, feeling those emerald eyes on him.
Harry sighed. It didn't matter. "Nothing but please sir, don't tell anyone."
"Stop your platitudes Potter. I will keep you in this office until you start coming clean with me and if you cannot, then I will take you to Professor Dumbledore. Now answer my last question," Snape said in frustration. The only reason he hadn't taken the boy to Dumbledore already was because he didn't trust the old wizard to press Potter until the truth came out. The headmaster was too susceptible to the boy's lies and Potter would end up back at that abusive house.
"What are you talking about?" Harry asked. "I was talking about you and you ignored that and went straight to some stuff about Dumbledore. And it isn't just Dumbledore. It is the whole Wizarding world finding out!"
Snape thought about what Harry was saying and realized that the boy was right. Dumbledore was a wise man in many ways, but Snape knew he would feel obligated to tell select people. The man would ignore Potter's privacy in order to attempt to help him, but Snape was sure that wasn't what Potter needed. If the headmaster was to know about this, he would also contact the authorities, and then it was sure to get out into the public, despite any assurances of discretion. Dumbledore trusted people far too easily. "And if I didn't inform the headmaster, what would you do come the next holiday?" Snape asked carefully, working on the boy's other arm.
"Professor..." Harry started. "You have to realize that I have dealt with this all summer. It wasn't that bad. I was stupid and got in his way. It was my fault anyway. As long as I don't do that anymore... I'm sure it won't be as bad," Harry said. He was lying to himself... and Snape.
"Don't be an idiot, Potter! You know as well as I do that it will not stop! These things get worse, not better," Snape snapped in frustration. "Lie down so I can tend to your stomach."
"No," Harry said and continued to convince himself. "You don't know. It will get better. I will just avoid him. It was my fault. His sister died, so he was irritable. I won't get in his way this time."
"Potter, I don't care how insolent or annoying you might be, there is NOTHING you could do to warrant that type of behavior from anyone, especially your guardian. It is unacceptable and you will no longer be in anyone's care who would treat you that way," Snape said firmly,
"You don't understand! It was my fault! I got in his way! I asked for something when he came home from work and he was busy and he wanted me to do my chores but I was doing something for Aunt Petunia so he threw me down the front porch so I would be closer to the garden, so I would weed it. He also thought that I had opened Dudley's presents so he was mad but really it was Dudley, so of course he would be mad. I deserved it. It's fine. I won't get in his way." Harry didn't know he was rambling at this point. He was also not looking at Snape during his rant. When he was finished he stared at his partially healed arm for the first time.
Snape stared at the boy in horror. "That is the man's excuse for beating you?" he asked, barely suppressing his rage at the boy's uncle. No one deserved this. The man sounded like a monster.
Harry shivered at the word 'beating'. He was too lost to answer, remembering what it had been like. The man was so big and always seemed to restrain and hurt him easily. Harry could never do anything about it. The heavy footsteps thumped up the stairs as the fat man laboriously climbed them, coming for him. What would he do to him this time? Harry was never certain and he was always a little fearful that this time the damage would be too much to ignore later, that it would be really serious this time. Hundreds of different scenarios flashed through his mind... each worse than the one before.
Snape looked at the boy caught in thought. There was a look of fear on his face. He cautiously put a hand on the boy's shoulder to get his attention.
He was here! How could he not have realized that Vernon had come so quickly? "No stop!" Harry yelled. He crouched on the floor and buried his head in his hands. "Stop, stop, stop, stop," Harry muttered.
Snape stared at the boy in horror and instead of running to get the headmaster, followed the protective instinct he was feeling and crouched down beside the boy, putting his hands on the boy's shoulders. "Potter! Pot...Harry!"
Harry heard his name being called. At first he thought it was his uncle but then he realized that his uncle would never call him by his first name. Harry opened his eyes and sat up wearily. He was looking into Snape's horrified face. "I...I..."
"I'm not going to hurt you," Snape said sincerely, feeling strange comforting another. "I will never strike you, do you understand?"
Harry nodded. What just happened? He didn't know what to say. He was in such shock. Maybe he was being abused... Why would he act like that if he wasn't? "I- I'm sorry," Harry tried as he stood up and stared at the stone floor.
"Don't apologize, Potter," Snape said gently, if the man was capable of actual gentleness. He gestured for Harry to sit back down on the couch. "Lie down so I can heal the wounds on your torso. The cut on your chest is infected," he said courteously changing the subject.
Harry was incredibly embarrassed. He said nothing as he walked over to the couch and lay down.
Snape gently spread healing balm over Harry's chest with the cloth. "Do you have anyone else you can live with on a permanent basis from now on?" Snape asked hopefully.
"No, Sirius is-no."
Snape sighed. "What about the Weasleys?"
"I can't live with them. They would be in danger."
"We could put up extra wards around their house. Then you can tell them about what happened and live with them," Snape said in relief.
"I can't tell them!" Harry said sitting up but hurting his chest in the process.
"Potter, you're irritating your injuries. Lie back down," Snape ordered. "Now surely you can tell them or have someone else inform them."
"I can't tell them sir," Harry said despairingly. "I just can't."
"Well we can't have you sent to an orphanage. And Lupin's a werewolf so he can't take you," Snape muttered. "Think Potter, isn't there anyone who can take you in? And your pitiful excuses for relatives don't count."
"I can stay at Hogwarts or... I will just go back to the Dursleys'."
"You will NOT go back to your relative's home and staying at Hogwarts would ensure the entire Wizarding population to find out why it is necessary for you to find alternative care. No, you need someone who's good at discretion and keeping secrets, someone who's able to provide protection and could know about this. Potter, don't you know of anyone who could fit that description?" Snape asked anxiously.
Harry thought. If it wasn't Lupin then the answer was no. He had no one. Harry glumly shook his head. "I will be fine at the Dursleys'," he insisted.
"Potter, think. Someone in the Order would be preferable. Who can you think of in the Order that you'd let know about this? Can't you think of anyone who fits the criteria?" Snape asked desperately.
Harry cringed at who first came in his mind. "You?"
Snape stilled and made a scoffing noise, about to reject the boy's nonsense, but suddenly thought about it. He could provide the boy with protection. His home was heavily warded. His job as a spy made him discreet as all hell, and he already knew of the boy's home life. "Me?" he muttered to himself, more than anyone else.
"Well, you are everything you just said," Harry said. Harry didn't necessarily want to go with Snape. Snape had always been such an evil git to him, especially last year. But where else would he go? It was true that he really couldn't go back to the Dursleys'. He didn't know how long he would last there.
"Well, that settles it," Snape said, concealing the intense doubt he felt. "You can come home with me for the holiday unless you'd like to talk to the headmaster about finding a more suitable place to stay."
Wow. He was actually going to stay with Snape. Who would have thought? "Thank you sir... I will not be talking to Dumbledore."
Snape nodded sharply. "Nor will I, at least for the time being." "That is, if you choose to be honest with me. Remember, I can tell when you're lying and will not tolerate it in the future in regards to anything, especially while in my home."
"I will... how can you tell?" Harry asked curiously.
"Legiliments can tell if they need to," Snape said simply but firmly.
Snape would be reading Harry's mind? Harry certainly did not like that! "Um... what about Occlumency lessons and how will you get Dumbledore to let me live with you without telling him why?"
Snape frowned. That was a good question. What was he going to tell Dumbledore? "Occlumency lessons will continue as scheduled, and over winter holiday, I will make sure you have mastered it. As for Dumbledore, he is willing to be left in the dark about things if they fit his motives. I doubt he will object or question my motives far enough to risk that I might revoke the offer. He trusts me."
"Why are you doing this?" Harry asked still wanting to know.
"I don't know," Snape responded truthfully.