Setting: The day after 'Snape's Worst Memory'. With one difference. Snape continues Occlumency lessons, setting off a chain of events I'm quite sure J.K. Rowling never intended.
Author's Note: I know I haven't written in almost a year so this is my way to try out my rusty skills. Sorry for the wait on my other stories. :(
"All of them…constructed at infinite cost to themselves these Maginot Lines against this enemy they thought they saw across the frontier, this enemy who never attacked that way –if he ever attacked at all; if he was indeed the enemy." –A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Breathing heavily, Harry swayed on his feet, clearly too tired to continue, and yet he said nothing in response to the ridiculous command. He deserved it.
A sneer. "Are even words too good for perfect Potter? Leglimens."
Harry fought to clear his mind, but visions of his father taunting Snape kept intruding. Harry had invaded his Professor's pensieve yesterday, seeing a memory of Snape being bullied by the Marauders –mainly by his father. And now he was faced with the fact that quite possibly, everything he had been told about James Potter had been a lie.
Adding salt to that gaping wound was the horrifying prospect that Snape, greasy, horrible Snape, was right and Harry had spent the last fifteen years being wrong. This did wonders to his self-esteem.
But perhaps worst of all, Harry would never forget the taunting smirk his father's face had, so disturbingly similar to Dudley's. Harry felt betrayed by the man he was coming to realize he had never really known at all; how could Snape honestly expect him to clear his mind with this load to think about?
Had Harry summoned enough energy to care, he would've thought it humiliating how easily his mental barriers collapsed at Snape's Leglimency.
Ron's blushing ears as 'Weasley Is Our King' chanted in the background…Sirius' grinning face as he opened Harry's Christmas present…Harry learning his first spell…Gryffindor winning the House Cup…
Harry waited for the inevitable veer toward the darker, painful memories. He didn't have to wait long; Snape was eager.
Tom Riddle's handsome face leering down at him in the Chamber of Secrets…A rat escaping into the forest…The Fourth Champion bearing Ron's hateful glares…In Grimmauld Place, a mercurial Harry lashing out at his best friends…Nagini striking the red-haired man, savoring the warm taste of blood…James Potter reasoning to Harry's mother, "Well, it's more the fact that he exists, if you know what I mean…"
Harry opened his eyes to find himself leaning against a desk, pale as a sheet, gasping for breath. At this rate, he was going to collapse. Snape looked as if Christmas had come early.
"You need to concentrate, Potter," Snape remarked and already he was reaching for his wand once more. It was becoming quite clear why Snape had agreed to Dumbledore's offer of continuing Occlumency despite yesterday: revenge. 'Bloody hell,' thought a frustrated Harry. 'Is the Headmaster a sadist? Why on earth would he force me to show up to this Occlumency lesson -which wasn't even onthe scheduled weekday- with the anger still fresh in Snape's mind? I know he won't make eye contact with me but still-'
As Snape disrupted Harry's train of thought with an impatient tap of his foot, Harry knew he had to state his opinion soon or the next time, he would awaken in the Hospital Wing.
In the best apologectic tone he could muster, "Sir, what my father did was wrong-"
Snape's knuckles turned white at the fierce grip he had on his wand; the Potions Master now looked extremely volatile. Clearly, this was the wrong thing to say.
"You arrogant boy," Snape's silky voice, as deadly as a cobra's, was wavering with rage, ready to strike. "Tell me, Potter, do you hope to redeem your father of his actions?"
"No! I just want to-"
"It's always about what you want, Potter, isn't it? You are just like him." Harry flinched; Snape smirked.
The professor walked closer to Harry, and Harry forced himself to look up at the spiteful, cold black eyes with the hooked nose and the thin lips compressed into a white line, telling himself that everything Snape did to him was justified. As the wand came inches in front of his face, Harry knew this was his last chance, not for redemption, but empathy, and perhaps, an understanding. Ignoring the protests of his rational mind screaming that this was suicide, Harry whispered, "I'm sorry he did it, sir."
This was the last straw. "LEGLIMENS!" the Potions Master bellowed, his face contorting hideously with fury, his anger reaching a degree Harry had never witnessed before. Harry shuddered at the intensity through which Snape tore through his memories like scraps of paper, but Harry refused to protest. He had failed and now he had to pay the price.
The Dark Lord's merciless red eyes…"Kill the spare."…The Cruciatus Curse burning every part of his being, and Harry wishing he were dead…A woman screaming and then a bright green flash…Harry was dying in the Chamber of Secrets, knowing that he had failed his school, failed Ginny…
And then in the deepest, most private recesses of Harry's mind, he felt a prick. And then a tug…and then…yank.
Snape was going for the jackpot.
Harry was confused; why was Snape going through his childhood memories? There was no Voldemort there. There was just…
Forgetting his promise, Harry began to struggle, giving Snape everything he had. Not this one, anything but this one…
"Professor," weakened lips murmured while the Potions master continued flipping idly through Harry's private memories, about to go through an unusually firm memory. But at the sound of Harry's voice, Snape paused, an ugly smug expression on his face. The boy had been taking it like a martyr, thoroughly ruining the fun of Leglimency. Snape would much rather the boy go down like the sniveling brat he was.
"Professor, no," continued the boy through unseeing eyes, desperate. The brat was actually trying to Occlude his mind now.
Oh, this was just too good.
Snape gave the memory a tempting jerk and watched with glee at the horror on the boy's face.
"Professor, please," Harry begged. "Not this one."
A nicer man would have listened, stopped, and prayed for his soul in taking pleasure in such heinous acts. Severus Snape, however, relished it. Curiosity peaked, the man had no qualms with going through this. Did the boy just whimper? Rolling his eyes, Severus almost considered just letting Potter go crying back to his little friends in Gryffindor; Dumbledore would think this abuse. But then he saw James Potter's face, beads of cold sweat trickling down his face, absolutely helpless.
And Snape thought it justice.
He was five. Standing on top of a stool, he was doing what no normal child should be doing on a Saturday morning at seven 'o clock in the morning: chores.
But as had been long instilled, Harry was no normal child.
Little Harry read aloud the instructions for making the biscuits. "After…stur, no…steer, um…steering?...I'll just skip over that…put the biscuits into oven." After some fumbling and near burnings, Harry placed his batch of biscuits into the working oven. Now, to set the timer…
With his reading skills, Harry read aloud the time on the back of the box. "3…0…minutes," The boy jumped on the stool and pressed in the appropriate numbers on the timer. Or at least attempted to. His tiny, pudgy hands were not firm enough to punch the numbers in. Harry was very worried; Aunt Petunia would be mad, and Harry couldn't let her get mad if he ever wanted her to like him. Harry had always reasoned that if he tried hard enough to please his relatives, then maybe they would come to love him as much as they did Dudley. So far he had not been successful, but Harry, optimistic as ever, was sure that with these biscuits, his Aunt would have to love him.
Biting his lip in concentration, Harry needed just a zero and he would be done. He jammed his little thumb as hard it would go in the zero slot, willing the timer to say 30. Apparently his will was so strong, that not only was there one zero next to the three, there were two! 300 minutes. Harry grinned happily, clasping his hands in delight.
The little boy sat down in the kitchen and began to work on his homework.
Watching the memory, Severus was extremely disappointed. Potter's worst memory was cooking. What a spoiled brat.
Meanwhile, Harry tried to Occlude Snape out, but it was no use; too many emotions were tied to that memory for Harry to clear his mind, the most prominent emotion being shame.
He had been such a fool that day…
Harry was working on his subtraction, enjoying the wafting aroma of the biscuits, when Aunt Petunia stormed in, looking furious.
"What the hell have you done, boy?"
Uh-oh. Harry had been going for something more along the lines of, 'Harry, you made breakfast! How lovely.' Maybe, he should've made brownies.
"But Aunt Petunia, I made breakfast-"
"You stupid boy," Petunia's shrill voice cut in. "Desecrating my kitchen with your filthy hands. You've disturbed this whole household with your antics," Petunia said the last word as if it were a sin. Harry dropped his head in regret.
"I'm sorry Aunt Petunia, I just thought you would like it if I made you breakfast." Petunia looked like Harry had just told her to burn in hell.
"Breakfast?" She said with a mirthless laugh. "As if a boy like you could ever make breakfast right,"
In a very quiet voice, Harry whispered, "But I followed all the instructions,"
Mrs. Dursley glared at the brat's challenge. "Well, let's see how you did," Harry wished with all his heart that the biscuits would turn into the flaky, buttery bits of heaven advertised.
Furrowing his brow, he thought as hard as he could, 'Please! Please just this once, let everything turn out alright!'
The oven chose this moment to burst into flames.
Petunia Dursley had had enough. "VERNON! VERNON, COME DOWN HERE AND SEE WHAT THIS BOY HAS DONE!" With the smoke alarm blaring in the background, Petunia grabbed Harry by his ear and dragged the boy over to a corner away from the growing fire. "Stay here until Vernon comes here to deal with you." Now, Harry was scared.
"Aunt Petunia, I'll go get the extinguisher," Harry offered with tears in his eyes. He was so stupid; all of this was his fault. "Haven't you done enough?" Aunt Petunia snapped. Harry sat very still as he heard lumbering footsteps coming down the stairs. But the person who came through the door was not the person Harry had been expecting; it was Dudley Dursley.
"Mummy, what happened?" Dudley asked, bleary-eyed from sleep. "I heard shouting,"
Petunia had just been in the middle of a tirade at Harry when she caught sight of her precious son. "Dudders, you shouldn't be here! It's not safe! The oven could explode!" Petunia cried in horror, her glower replaced with maternal concern.
Missing the warning completely, Dudley asked, "Is our oven on fire?" His beady eyes were transfixed at the inferno where the oven once was. Most people would've had the common sense to back away, but Dudley, of course being Dudley, decided to go closer.
Four things happened simultaneously.
Vernon Dursley entered the kitchen.
Dudley Dursley decided that feeling the singing of one's eyebrows was not close enough, and decided to touch the growing fire.
And Harry, disobeying his Aunt's orders, jumped from the chair, upset; Dudley may not be the nicest of people, but he was still Harry's cousin. Harry intended to save him. "NO!"
At this exclamation, rain began falling from the ceiling, dousing all the members in the room with icy cold water. All movement in the room stopped; no one spoke. Harry felt three sets of eyes staring at him; Harry chose to look up at the more agreeable, if impossible, sight of water seeming to come from nowhere. But as suddenly as it had come, the rain disappeared, leaving a wet kitchen, a smoking oven, and a very angry Aunt and Uncle. Harry wanted the oven to go back on fire.
There was absolute silence. A horrible, heavy silence, where one is sure that everyone is thinking about you, but choosing not to say so aloud. Feeling self-conscious, Harry shifted his feet, and decided to break the silence. "Was that magic?"
Petunia paled violently, Vernon colored a rich plum color, and Dudley…got bored and moved to touch the smoking oven. Seeing his relatives' appalled expressions, little Harry wanted to smack his head against a wall; how could he forget how much his Aunt and Uncle hated magic? The only time Dudley ever got punished was when he wanted to be a wizard for Halloween.
Harry's comment seemed to spring the Dursleys into anti-magic mode. "Vernon, do you think any of the neighbors saw?"
"No, pet, the Wilkins are vacationing in France,"
That job done, Petunia whirled onto Harry, and snarled, "Just what were you thinking, boy? I never want to hear the word, 'magic' in this house again!"
Vernon, looking menacingly down at tiny Harry, fixed the child with his best, you-are-this-close-to-the-orphanage glare. Harry was not going to be eating anything edible for the next month. "And your little tricks will NOT BE TOLERATED!"
Trying to defend himself, Harry said, "But Uncle, please, I was just trying to stop Dudley from touching the fire,"
Petunia covered her son's ears, looking horrified at the thought that Dudley might actually do something wrong. "Popkin, go into the living room and watch some telly," Dudley gave a huge fake sniff that sounded more like a dying camel in Harry's opinion. Petunia totally bought it.
"But Harry told me to touch it," Harry's cousin blubbered with fake tears leaking down his chubby cheeks. As soon as his weeping mother turned the other way, Dudley stuck his tongue at Harry and mouthed, "Sucker."
"Go, run along now, son," Vernon said pleasantly enough, with a smile.
But as soon as Dudley left the room, it seemed that any inhibitions holding Vernon Dursley back were gone; the smile dropped. And Vernon Dursley, doting father and loving husband, became Uncle Vernon, the man who wished Harry out of his life, dead or alive.
"Only Lily could've spawned a vermin like this," Petunia commented off-handedly, but Harry froze, hanging onto her every word; his parents were so rarely mentioned that Harry would take anything he could get. "Corrupting my poor Dudley…"
"Now, calm down, Petunia," Vernon said with an affectionate smile. "They're dead and you're alive," Harry ignored the pang in his heart as his Aunt muttered loudly, "Yeah, but he's still alive too,"
In the end, it was Harry's hope, his stupid, foolish hope that triggered it. The hope that somehow his parents were still… "How did they die?" he asked softly.
Petunia gave a slow smile, as if she had been waiting for this question for years. "How did they die?" she repeated softly, and to Harry, who had grown up accustomed to his Aunt's screaming voice, this soft, intimate rasp was downright creepy. "Your stupid mother and her worthless husband-"
"What did they look like?" Harry murmured softly in awe. Petunia scowled.
"No interruptions, boy!" Harry tried not to show his disappointment, and gave an obedient nod.
"As I was saying…your parents decided to go drinking one night at a party, leaving you locked in their car. After they had gotten drunk, they thought they could still drive themselves home…" She paused, enjoying the scared, widened eyes of her nephew. Harry wanted to clamp his hands over his ears; he did not like where this was going. "Naturally, they spun out of control and hit a tree. I believe your father died on impact,"
Harry was almost afraid to ask, "And my Mum?"
Little Harry could not understand why his Aunt smiled at the question. Had his Mum somehow lived-?
"She suffered." Petunia paused and then added, almost mockingly in a 'I told her so' voice, "And then she died." Harry didn't truly realize how much he had been hoping against hope that somehow one of his parents was still alive until he felt the heavy sadness at that answer. The only way Harry could describe it was that his heart hurt. A lot.
And his Aunt's answer still didn't explain his dreams. Harry didn't realize he had voiced this thought aloud until he felt familiar sausage hands tighten around his neck. "What did you say, boy?"
Harry wasn't completely dumb. "Nothing, Uncle Vernon."
His Uncle didn't believe it. "I know you said, 'That doesn't explain my dreams,'" The hands tightened uncomfortably. "Now, what were those dreams about?"
"It was noth-" Involuntarily, Harry let out a gasp of pain as Vernon's hands tightened even further. "They were just some silly dreams," Harry conceded; Vernon loosened his grip a little, temptingly. Harry stayed silent, determined not to say anything-
Harry scrunched up his face in pain as his Uncle gave his ear a vicious pinch. But he had to stay strong.
One second…ten seconds…thirty seconds…fifty seconds, oh please stop, his ears were on fire!
"In one, I see a tall man with a long white beard. He's smiling at me with eyes as blue as the sky that are behind half-moon glasses," Harry rushed out quickly, both ashamed and relieved when the pinching stopped. Petunia stopped washing a dish in mid-air. "Dumbledore," she breathed, horrified. Vernon was incensed, "And the others, boy?" He asked, shaking Harry's shoulders roughly, "Tell me the other dreams!"
Harry was frightened by his Uncle's frantic tone, but he gamely replied, "In the next one, there's a dark-haired man with round glasses (maybe he's my relative or something) in a house standing in front of a door. I can only see his back. He's shaking and he looks scared. The door opens, I hear laughing, and then all I see is a bright green light."
"The Killing Curse," Petunia murmured, curious in spite of herself. Vernon listened, turning redder by the second.
"And then I see a pretty red-haired lady with eyes as green as mine. I think she's my Mum since Aunt Petunia says we have the same eyes. She's holding me as a baby, talking to me, telling me everything will be alright." Harry was getting lost in the memory of that kind voice whispering soothing words in baby Harry's ear. "But then," Harry said, a bit angrily, "The talking stops when a door slams open. I don't see who opened it, but I don't think Mum liked the person because she told the person to leave her alone. The bloke didn't listen, telling her to step aside. I think the person wanted to see me for some reason. And then my Mum started crying, it was awful, begging the person not to. 'Not Harry,' she cried, 'Please, not Harry. Take me instead,'" Harry paused; this next part was confusing. He didn't realize his Aunt was shaking like a leaf and his Uncle had turned purple.
"The person started laughing again, and it wasn't a nice sound; it was like he wanted to see my Mum unhappy. But suddenly, my Mum stopped begging, and she stepped in front of me saying, 'It doesn't matter. You won't have him either way,' Now, I can tell the person is mad at what my Mum just said because I can see his hand holding a stick and he's pointing it at my Mum-"
Harry toppled off the chair and onto the floor, utterly shocked. A few moments later from his awkward position on the floor, he touched the stinging mark on his cheek, both fascinated and scared at how hot it felt under his fingers. He had never been hit before. His Uncle yanked him up by the collar of his shirt so he could look Harry in the eye. "DON'T MAKE UP LIES!" he bellowed, enraged, with spit landing on Harry's face. Harry didn't want to be the cause of such anger; he tried to appease his Uncle by gently saying, "But Uncle, I'm just telling you what happened in my dream-"
Harry landed painfully on his rump a moment later from the fall. "But nothing, boy," Uncle Vernon growled threateningly, "There will be no lying in my house," Harry knew not to argue that Dudley lied about doing his homework but still, Harry felt that the whole world was against him; he just wanted to make breakfast and look what that got him. He could never do anything right.
"I'm sorry, Uncle," Harry whispered from the floor. He started to get up but after seeing his Uncle's enraged face, felt that perhaps it would just be better to sit down and hope the earth swallowed him up. "I'll just be going to my cupboard…"
"Such insolence!" Vernon barked suddenly, formulating a plan. "It looks like I've been too lenient," Harry openly stared at him. "You, boy, need to be disciplined!" There was quiet for a few seconds where all you could hear were Mr. Dursley's heated breathing and the faint sound of television in the living room. Harry was in shock. If his past years of punishment hadn't been discipline, then Harry was scared to find out what it actually was.
Little Harry stood frozen as Vernon whispered his punishment in his ear. 'So this is discipline,' Harry thought sadly. Stinging tears gathered in Harry's bright eyes; this wasn't fair."Uncle, please," Harry begged softly, with a hiccup.
Vernon would have none of it. "Say it," he ordered.
Harry opened his mouth and faltered. The words, those awful, acid words that burned his throat and made his eyes water would not come out. Harry would not let them out. Another slap.
Through a glaze of tears, Harry looked to his Aunt, cleaning the dishes as if nothing was happening. To her, it was true. The boy's heart hammered as he darted his eyes back to his Uncle's red face full ofanger and then back to his Aunt's calm expression as she washed a plate. Harry felt something vile rise up in his throat; the realization was there, on the tip of his tongue, just out of his reach, and Harry wanted to stay that way.
But it wouldn't stop.
"Uncle, Uncle! Look what I made you!" 3-year old Harry shouted, shoving a detailed drawing of the family, catching even the pattern of his Aunt's frock and his Uncle's mustache in the stick figures. Dudley looked furious; he had forgotten today was Father's Day. Clearly, it wouldn't matter. His Uncle grabbed the drawing and threw it across the room in a fit of anger. "I am NOT your FATHER!"
Snape watched young Harry's face contort as an unpleasant truth began to form in the boy's head. "At last, I meet the perfect Potter family," Snape murmured to himself, still keeping his condescending lilt in his voice. The insult sounded hollow even to his own ears.
"Aunt Petunia!" a dark-haired toddler cried, his knee scraped up horribly from the fall. "Aunt Petunia, please help me..." Mrs. Dursley continued fixing her son's breakfast. In a rage of despair, the boy yelled, "LOOK AT ME!" She would not.
Harry wished he were stupid. It was making too much sense.
And that's when Harry could hold back the flood no longer. The painful realization had finally come; his Aunt and Uncle would never love him. With a gasp, Harry began to sob, really sob with snot running down his face, his throat on fire, and every part of his body hurt from the cries racking his tiny frame. This was the day Harry gave up.
This was the day Harry lost his whole family: father, mother, cousin, uncle, aunt.
His uncle was right; he was unlovable.
When the sobs dwindled into silent tears, Harry looked straight ahead, feeling awful; the words choked their way out because Harry let them, realizing they were true. Vernon had unwittingly exploited Harry's weakness.
The one thing he couldn't have.
"Magic doesn't exist…My parents are dead. My Mum...got what she deserved. My Dad was a worthless drunk. And I…I-I am just a freak, a freak who should be grateful to live with my relatives. A freak-"
Severus felt himself catapulted out of the memory and caught completely off guard, in that one moment where his Professor's defenses slipped, Harry's magic, frantic in his escape, leapt into the first thing it saw, even if it was Professor Snape's mind.
The magic fled into the easiest passage: recent memories.
A hated boy, looking so smug with his hideous, bright green eyes…
Even with the circumstances, Harry felt a vain thought flit across his mind, 'Hideous? Really?'
Snape was making a potion, hands trembling; his sleeves were rolled up, revealing a familiar tattoo, a snake intertwined with a skull…
Harry could feel Snape looking for him, and he felt imagined doors shutting all around him; Snape was kicking him out. But Harry, desperate, grabbed hold of a deeper memory, one with snatches of conversation, gripping onto the memory as if his life depended on it. He couldn't face Snape right now. No one knew about his childhood, and maybe if Harry just stayed here, he could avoid the dreaded, contemptuous words that would surely follow: "Your own family didn't love you? At least someone got it right."
Harry leapt inside the memory without a second thought.
There was Snape. He was white and furious: was this after the pensieve? Oh God. Harry didn't want to see this, but unless he wanted Snape to find him…Oh, if such a thing existed, Harry knew he was going to hell. He dove deeper into the memory, praying for forgiveness.
"Headmaster, the boy has gone too far! He needs to be expelled!"…Twinkling blue eyes… "Perhaps, in normal circumstances, he would be,"
Harry felt his heart skip a beat.
…A proposal and a sherbet lemon…The Potions Master stood up, incensed, refusal written clearly on his face... "You're wrong, Albus," he murmured, each word punctuated, "This cannot possibly be the boy prophesized to defeat the Dark Lord!"...A long pause…"Would you rather Mr. Longbottom, Severus?"
Suddenly, Harry felt a horribly familiar presence jerk him back into the present and the poor boy was flung backwards, back into the cold dank dungeon.
Harry's first sight was of the ceiling. He was on the floor, the wind knocked out of him, his back smarting, and for one precious moment, he could not remember how on earth he had gotten this way. And then that precious moment slipped when Harry sat up, with a gasp of pain and realization as he saw the frozen figure a couple feet away: Professor Snape.
Harry fought the urge to vomit. Instead, he let out a noise that was the cross between a cry and a moan. Snape's face snapped up to meet Harry's. They both looked repulsed at what they saw.
Harry didn't know how long he stared into those bottomless black eyes, that had been hiding something all along, just like Professor Dumbledore. Before this moment, Harry would have said Snape knowing his childhood would be one of the worst memories he could have, but now, as he stared unblinkingly at his Professor, he knew this had to be the worst.
You just couldn't resist kicking me while I was down, could you professor?
Harry felt his mouth speak his thoughts when a hoarse voice that had to be his own, croaked out, "I've been prophesized to defeat Voldemort?"
Tell me, it's a lie, Harry begged silently. Tell me, I'm just being stupid.
But whatever Snape was, he was brutally honest. A small but firm nod. Harry closed his eyes, and then opened them moments later, dismayed that this wasn't just a nightmare. His professor never failed at making him miserable. Again the mouth spoke unwillingly, before Harry's mind could stop it; he didn't want to know! "Why wasn't I told?"
Snape began to walk over to Harry and the boy panicked, shying away from him, scurrying backwards on the ground until he hit the wall. Dammit, he was trapped. Snape sneered. "That is why, Mr. Potter,"
"I've just found out I have to defeat the darkest wizard of all time!" Harry was furious now; how dare he-! He at fifteen years old, had just been given a death sentence. "Pray tell, sir, how would you react?"
"I'd stop acting like such a baby, for one," Snape quipped, entirely unmoved by Harry's righteous fury. Before Harry could retaliate, his eyes caught the Pensieve in the room and visions of an abrasive James Potter and a furious Lily Evans filled his head, angry and foolish perhaps, but at least they had been alive. And now they were...Suddenly, a horrible implication of the prophecy shook him to the core, leaving him aghast and shaking.
"I killed my parents,"
Snape rolled his eyes, "Enough with the theatrics, Potter. What in Merlin's name are you babbling about-?"
"If I hadn't been born, then my parents wouldn't have had to die. Voldemort-"
"Do not say his name!" Harry ignored him.
"Voldemort," Harry repeated, "was after me, wasn't he?" Snape did not dismiss the notion. "Not my parents. They could still be alive…"
Severus rubbed his temples, feeling a headache coming on. Talking to Potter was like talking to a brick wall. "Stand up, Mr. Potter,"
Snape might as well have spoken Pig Latin for all the response Harry had; the boy was still going on about his parents. Snape tried not to curse Potter into oblivion by muttering a quick levitation spell in its place and forcing Potter upright. Stupid child.
"Your behavior is exactly why you shouldn't be trusted with such secrets; you are much too delicate." Harry stopped his babbling midway and scowled.
Snape continued, unperturbed, "As for your foolish reasoning, the Dark Lord killed your parents, not you. I hardly think a one-year old is responsible for his actions."
Despite the contempt laced within his words, Harry felt a hint of relief at Professor Snape's words. He sighed softly and looked up into Snape's face, which bore an unreadable expression. "Is something wrong, Professor?" Harry asked, worried that he had caused yet another catastrophe. (As if the baking episode with the Dursleys wasn't enough.) Some would say he might as well have been poking a Hungarian Horntail in the eye,but in truth, Harryfelt much too drained to care about his Professor's current volatile nature.
Severus stared at Harry, and for once he looked past the familiar mop of hair, the wiry frame, and those bright emerald eyes. He did not see James Potter, nor Lily Potter, he saw Harry. The boy had been mistreated throughout his childhood, had been lied to his whole life, had been terrorized by him, and still the boy was more worried about his dead parents than about knowing he was destined to fight the Dark Lord and more likely lose! Severus wanted to shake the brat and yell at him to stop being so damn stupid and start being more selfish!
The boy had to toughen up. "I am perfectly fine, Potter." Snape spat, suddenly feeling the desire to break him, see him helpless again. Voldemort would crush him. "But, I will be seeing the Headmaster about your expulsion after you decided to trespass my mind again!"
Snape wanted Harry to cry, to whine about unfair punishment, something!
Harry didn't so much as blink. "But, we both know you can't do that, Professor," Harry said calmly, absently rubbing the back of his neck in discomfort. Severus stared fixedly at the growing bruise; Harry would never know Snape had done it to him in his fury while Harry was in his mind. Harry spoke on, looking idly at the jars lining the walls, oblivious to the troubled black eyes watching his every move. "I can't be expelled Professor. I have to have an education and endure two more years with you if I want to have a chance of defeating Voldemort."
There. He just talked about defeating the greatest dark wizard of all time with the air of discussing the weather. "Impertinent-!" Snape sputtered, furious, but he halted as he saw Potter's weak smile. Had the boy just been teasing him?
"I can see it now, Professor," Harry murmured, trying to crack a grin; he didn't notice he was trembling. "The final battle. The whole battle will hinge on how well I can do a deflating draught. Voldemort, of course, shall be stuck on the flobberworm mucus, but I, under your tutelage, shall prevail-"
"Potter," As a well-trained spy, Severus managed to turn his snort, into a scoff. "This is no time to be joking,"
Jaded green eyes. "I know, sir," Harry said, sobering up, his voice turning bitter,"I doubt it's going to be the right time to joke for a long time. But I'm prophesized to defeat him, and I have no choice but to accept it and try to fulfill it. I'm in need of a good laugh, sir." Blunt but direct. That was Harry Potter. He couldn't be an Occlumens if his life depended on it. But Severus remembered how raw emotion alone had thrust Snape out of a memory. Perhaps…
Snape quickly looked up and saw Harry's eyes gazing with unseeing eyes at the desks before him. Those green eyes were missing that bright spark now, once full of emotion, whether it be hate or affection, were now dull, clouded with troubles and worries.
But Dumbledore couldn't possibly foresee-?
In a rush, Severus' mind played the part of that conversation Harry had not witnessed…
"If Potter is so great, then why won't you tell him about the prophecy?"
"You wouldn't understand Severus," Dumbledore had murmured, actually looking his age for once with a saddened, world-weary gaze. "Look at Harry one day, and perhaps you will understand what this old man's reasoning is."
Seeing those dulled eyes, Severus had an inkling of what the Headmaster had meant. A mutter of words, a flick of a wand and the dark color confirmed it. Harry was lost.
And Snape had no choice but to play Bo Peep. Bloody muggles.
Harry's head whipped around to meet Snape's as he heard the sound of a spell being said. "What did you just do?" He asked accusingly.
Severus didn't bother answering and instead, walked closer to Harry until the desk was the only thing standing between them; Harry gulped in apprehension.
"Mr. Potter," Severus began, knowing the next words were going to be painful. The Potions Master took comfort in the fact that in a few minutes hence, Harry would remember none of this encounter. But this needed to be said because Severus was a Slytherin. And at the end of the day, Slytherins only sought to serve themselves, and if these flimsy little words could help stop the nightmares, then Severus would gladly say them every single day."Let it be known that to this day, I hate your father, and I think your nosy mother should've kept to her own business."
Instinctively, Harry opened his mouth to protest, but shut it a moment later. Who knew anymore? Snape's words might actually be true. Seeing Harry's inner conflict, Severus knew he was doing the right thing, no matter how much it hurt his pride. Tonight, he wouldn't see Lily Potter's dead green eyes."However, as adults, Lily Potter and…" God, the next word had to be forced out, "…James Potter..." At the name, Harry's eyes met Snape's, curiosity emanating from his aura. He was sold. Snape allowed himself a small inward smirk at Harry's pained expression at the suspense. The boy was worse than a toddler.
"They were...good people,"
"Even my Dad?" Harry blurted out.
Severus gave him a pointed look. "I believe 'they' is plural," Harry looked flustered but relieved.
'And I hate them, especially for being that,' Snape added in his mind, subconsciously rubbing his forearm. Harry's eyes caught it.
Harry stared at him, as if trying to see his motives. Finally, after what felt like hours, he murmured slowly, "I think I understand, sir,"
But with a small, silly smile, he said, "But I disagree with you on your last point. You're better than a lot of people I know; at least, you tell the truth. In fact, you're the most honorable person I've ever met."
Seeing Harry's mischievous look, Snape waited for the end of the sentence."Arrogant, spiteful, greasy, and rude, but honorable."
"Cheeky brat," Snape snapped back, highly affronted, but both Harry and he noted the insult was half-hearted, almost teasing.
"Damn straight," Harry retorted before he could stop himself. His lips were twitching again, struggling to keep a blank, straight face. Harry decided to push his luck a little further. "Professor, why don't you ever act nice in class?"
A muscle in Severus's cheek twitched. "Potter, I'll start being nice the day you children stop being stupid,"
"I'll take that as a never," Harry muttered, but his eyes danced with humor.
Snape was about to say something back when he remembered himself. What the hell was he doing –joking with Potter like old friends? He turned back to the task at hand. He said, in an obvious request to leave, "Potter, I think Dumbledore wants to see you right now," The transformation was immediate; Harry's laughing green eyes hardened into a glare while his hands clenched into fists.
"I'm not going to speak to that liar," He declared.
"Careful, Potter. With all that hot air inside you, you might just explode." Snape said coolly. Inside, he was not pleased with Harry's antics; after everything Albus had done for this brat, Harry still showed no gratitude. And Harry thought he was the git.
"Dumbledore's been lying to me my whole life about that prophecy! That lying, backstabbing, senile-" Harry found himself picked up by the collar of his robes until his back slammed painfully into the wall.
"Now, you listen here, Potter, and you listen well," Snape murmured quickly but vehemently. The lighting from the candles in this position made the close-up view of the Potions Master's face even more menacing. "You have no right to talk about him like that," 'Watch me,' Harry's mulish expression read. In response, Harry felt a wand pressed uncomfortably against his neck.
"Dumbledore is a great man," Snape started out, and Harry's only thought was that Snape sounded like Hagrid. "So great that we begin to believe he has all the answers. But Dumbledore isn't infallible; he has a weakness. A weakness so crippling it could cost us the war-"
"Is it his taste in robes?" Harry interrupted and was rewarded with a sharp rap of the wand on his skull.
"Don't be cute Potter. Dumbledore's weakness is far worse: his damn heart." Harry looked confused, and the Potions Master was glad; it meant the boy was listening. The Professor clarified, "If the Headmaster was a proper war leader, you would've known from the start. He wouldn't have spared your feelings; at your young impressionable age, Dumbledore could've molded you into the perfect weapon. A tool who would do exactly as he was told for fear of messing up, knowing that he had to be perfect if the whole wizarding world was depending on him. A tool who wouldn't have gotten into so much…" A perfectly timed pause. "trouble."
Harry's eyes were wide, but with fear or understanding, Severus could not be sure. 'A tool?' Harry thought, horrified. 'The perfect weapon…'
"I wanted you expelled from the moment I laid eyes on you; I was sure you would be killed before the end of first year."
Raised eyebrows. "The troll? The broomstick? Going after the sorcerer's stone? My, my Potter, you always search for trouble. And yet despite your incredible stupidity," A noise of protest was quickly silenced with a nudge of the wand. "You manage to live to the next school year…year after year,"
"I bet you aren't too pleased with that," Harry said with a triumphant smirk. Snape brushed it off impatiently,
"Of course, I'm not. Not only do I lose fifteen galleons every year to McGonagall, but for the sake of yourwellbeing, I have to fight for your expulsion every year with Dumbledore."
"Wait, wait," interrupted Harry with a furrowed brow, "Let me get this straight. You want to get me expelled in order to save my life? That's some twisted way of showing you care."
"I DO NOT-!"
"Hold up!" Harry interrupted as another, more importantrealization hit him. "You and Professor McGonagall bet on my life?"
Snape looked at the boy with an expression that can only be described as 'duh.' "Did you not just hear what I said, you daft boy?" Snape said quickly, distracted as he thought up ways to punish the boy's ridiculous thought of him caring. Severus was having a pleasant daydream where Harry had to face one of Hagrid's monsters with a toothpick as his only defence, until he found himself staring at the real Harry. Seeing Harry's stricken face for the first time, the Potions Master continued, annoyed. "Oh, don't fret Potter. I won the next bet on you dating Ms. Chang."
"Oh my GOD,"
Deciding a need for a change in topic from the disturbing lives of teacher, Harry said, his voice almost begging, "Please continue with the lecture on my stupidity,"
"20 points from Gryffindor for your rude behavior," Snape snapped but complied with the boy's request."Now, before you interrupt, Potter, your Head of House -Potter! Stop shuddering!- does not appear in these meetings because she does not see the problem in your rule-breaking. More to the point, every summer I have a meeting with the Headmaster over your expulsion. Logically, with the ridiculous amount of trouble you get into each year, you should've been expelled years ago. But as I list out to him all of the school rules you've broken, Dumbledore…" Snape paused, remembering the happily twinkling blue eyes whenever Harry's 'adventures', (Dumbledore's word, not his)were mentioned. Severus noted with satisfaction that the ungrateful brat was hanging onto his every word.
"Dumbledore would what?" Harry implored.
"Dumbledore would laugh and smile and his eyes would do that bloody twinkle," Snape said quickly, bearing a striking resemblance to a jealous child. "The Headmaster loved hearing all about your 'adventures'. Tell me, Potter, do you now see the weakness? Dumbledoreis sacrificing the entire wizarding worldjust so you can be happy. He-"A search for the right verb. The next word clearly did not get said often."...loves you."
An utterly shocked Harry sagged against the wall, his jelly legs unable to bear his weight, and only Snape's iron grip on his robes saved Harry from an untimely fall. "…L-loves me?" the boy squeaked. Harry had never been told that by anyone to his face.
"Oh, don't act so surprised!" The Potions Master huffed, "Surely, even you wouldn't be so stupid as to think you were unlovable?"
And then Snape saw the thunderstruck expression. A weary sigh. "But then again, Potter, you've always been special."
Harry seemed to be having trouble forming coherent sentences. "But I'm not…I can't-he can't!…I'm just his student! I-I-!" Harry hushed a moment later when he choked on the potion shoved down his throat.
"That should stop your hysterics. You're acting as if the Headmaster proposed to you." Snape said dryly. "Are you going to let me finish now?"
Snape narrowed his eyes. "You better hope that means 'Yes, sir,'"
Snape continued as if Harry was not dry heaving his potion at the moment, "You are hardly unlovable, Mr. Potter. Your idiotic friends love you to the point where they will follow you anywhere, even the ridiculously dangerous situations you put yourself into. The Weasley Clan would adopt you if they could. Your Head of House glorifies every accomplishment you've ever done like a proud grandmother. Even your mutt godfather defends your honor at every chance to protect his delicate little Potter,"
Harry couldn't help a wild smile; if Snape of all people was telling him he was loved, then there was a good chance that it was true. But he still managed one weak objection, overcoming his first reflex to gag the awful goop still sliding down. "But what about my parents?"
Snape's retort was immediate. "I'm sure they would've doted upon you sickeningly had they been alive." Both smirked at the other for a moment. As Snape turned around, he murmured to the unspoken question hanging in the air, in a voice so low Harry had to strain to hear it, "And your relatives are fools."
Severus was sure the gasp he heard from behind was one of happy surprise and not a sign that the potion was coming back up.
If Snape had turned around he would've seen Harry giving a small smile in his direction; perhaps the greasy git cared. Wanting to end this bizarre meeting of minds on a high note, Harry headed for the dungeon's doors.
Snape heard the shuffle of feet and he stiffened, feeling an unexpected sense of regret. It was time.
"Forgive me, Harry."
Harry froze, his hand on the doorknob, and the young man slowly turned around to face the wand pointed directly at his heart. Unexpectedly, he looked at it with a sad, knowing smile.
"You're not evil," Harry insisted quietly, almost as if he were convincing himself. "You're just..." He trailed off, inspiration coming as the Professor's raised arm revealed the telltale beginning of a tattoo. Despite himself, Snape waited for the boy to finish. "Just an ugly shade of gray,"
Impulsively, Harry grabbed the hands aiming a wand at him. They were cool, bony and calloused. His were sweating. Already opening his mouth to say the spell, Snape looked at a spot just above Harry's shoulder; Harry broke his focus with a vicious squeeze on his hands. "Don't ignore me, Professor," The voice was desperate, demanding and husky. It belonged to no child.
And Snape couldn't resist. "How could I, Mr.Potter? You're such an obnoxious shade of white."
In the thin line Harry had set them, his lips twitched before relaxing into their original state. The hands let go and Harry slowly relaxed. Now, it was Harry who couldn't look at him. Intuition told him that he may never see his Professor like this again. "I'm going to hate you, Professor," Harry murmured softly and he paused, raising his eyes on Snape's,before his next words came out in a rush, as if fearing the answer to his question. "Will we?...um...ah, what I mean to say is if I'lleverseeyoubeingadecenthumanbeingagain?"
Snape blinked; Harry blushed furiously.
There was a long silence where the Potions Master considered ending it once and for all, right here, right now. Snape would be doing Harry a favor; certainly, this fate would be better than what the boy's future held in the long run. This might even end the war. But Severus was selfish; if Harry could remain the oblivious, stupid, and happy child he was...Oh God. He was becoming like Albus.
Fortunately, unlike Albus, Severus played dirty.
"Yes, Mr. Potter, you will meet this 'decent human being again'," Harry did not hear the warning in his Professor's voice. We'll meet in the final battle. We'll even be in the exact position; I'll be holding my wand, wishing for another way, and you'll be there in front of me, gazing at me with those hopeful, stupid eyes.
There'll be only one difference, Harry. Next time, you'll be dead.
Author's Note/Babblings: After seeing many OOC abusive Dursleys, I tried my hardest to make them stay true to their characters. Yes, I know Harry normally makes meals for the Dursleys but I thought at five, the Dursleys would definitely be wary of their abnormal nephew doing something so complicated as cooking breakfast (gasp)…For the story's purpose, I changed the way Leglimency works (it's supposed to be just flashes of memories I think)...Why would Dumbledore, as all-knowing as he is, basically force Severus and Harry to continue Occlumency most likely knowing that Harry would be Obliviated? For the sake of a plot. And for Severus's sake...I take full fault for making 5-year old Harry know OOC big words...What spell did Snape use? Sort of works like a mood ring that tells a person's emotions in a color. As for Snape…let it be noted that it's a helluva lot harder to write a 'kind' Snape than a mean one. Hope you liked the Snape-Harry interaction as much as I did!
Please tell me what you thought and leave a review!
P.S. Sorry for any grammar mistakes!