Severus Snape growled.
The argument coming from the hospital wing was resonating clearly down the corridor and the sheer existence of the noise was enough to drive him mad.
"What in Merlin's beard is going on in here?" he spat as he strode into the room. Thankfully Poppy and Minerva had at least the decency to look abashed. Unfortunately they rose to the occasion rather quickly.
"I assume we're disturbing you, Severus?" If McGonagall wan't a blasted Gryffindor, Snape would almost have admired the sneer the woman was able to produce. Almost.
"Greatly, so if you would please keep your hysterics to a more acceptable volume…." He trailed off so he wouldn't have to include any false pleasantries. With that he attempted to leave the room, only to find he was unable to do so. Sighing he turned around, "Colloportus? Is this some sort of a farce?"
Poppy frowned and cast a glance at her gown wardrobe. "Of course not, Professor. We've had an – incident. A student was attacked and deposited here on my doorstep." Her voice became more menacing with each word. "He's frightened and tried to escape and as such, I had to prevent it."
"One of the students was attacked inside the school? Has the Headmaster been informed?"
"It was an assualt by other students, Severus. No one from the outside has been able to get in. I did not see why it was necessary to involve Albus at this juncture." McGonagall interrupted.
"Which student?" Snape repeated.
Professor McGonagall sighed. "Mr. Potter."
"Well surprise, surprise. Someone at Hogwart's doesn't care for the school pet?" he smirked. Minerva raised her eyebrows in what she hoped was a sarcastic look.
"Yes, isn't that truly shocking Professor Snape?"
"Are you implying that I would wish physical harm come to the boy, Minerva?" He felt a small sense of amusement at the insertion of "physical". No one in the school would dare accuse him of that. Nicely played, Severus. McGonagall only snorted.
"You're in here now, Severus. We can't risk an unlocked door until we've calmed the boy down, and I've tried everything."
"Where is he?"
"He's hiding in the gown wardrobe." Madame Pomfrey said miserably, as if a frightened student was some sort of sign of her incompetence.
Turning so that his robe twisted around his ankles, Snape stalked over to the cupboard in question. Wrenching the door open he opened his mouth to throw out a standard insult, but quickly snapped it shut so quickly his teeth clicked. This he had not expected. He had imagined the boy to be curled in on himself, face hidden, crying. And while there were tears, Harry was staring straight ahead, rocking slightly, but otherwise quiet. Far, far too quiet. And his face and neck were covered in red marks and bruises.
"Potter?" It came out more quietly and gently than he had intended. He received no answer, not even a small reaction, just continued rocking. Turning back to the two women he couldn't help but express his shock.
"Who did this? The state of this boy is unacceptable! Even for a child as troublesome as Potter!" he added at the last minute.
"We don't know. We haven't been able to get him out of whatever stasis he appears to be in. We've surmised that whoever did this must have gotten frightened at how far they had gone, because they dropped him on Poppy's doorstep. She found him outside the infirmary. We were able to get a few non-verbal answers out of him before he started hyperventilating and shut himself in the wardrobe."
He'd seen this sort of behaviour before, though certainly not from the Potter brat. Obviously his precious colleagues were at a loss. Turning back to the cupboard he attempted to get the boy out of his dissociative state by calling his name. When that predictably failed, he grabbed Harry's hands and began to slap the boy's palms against the bottom and sides of the cupboard.
"Feel that, Potter? You're in the wardrobe, in the infirmary. Not wherever you believe you are in that thick skull of yours." Once again on the sides. "You're at Hogwarts, Potter. You've hidden in a cupboard. You can feel it beneath your palms."
And sure enough, the boy began to tap his palms against the bottom of the wardrobe of his own volition, pulling his hands free from the Professor's grasp. But he did not speak. He simply turned and stared at Snape, blinking, and then opened his mouth, but all that emerged was a painful guttural noise. Harry quickly stopped trying.
"Good. Well, good enough. Remove yourself from the cupboard. You've wasted enough of Madame Pomfrey's time."
The lady in question spoke up, with more strength in her voice. "Really professor, it's hardly necessary to make him feel guilty."
"Fine, handle it yourselves. I have better things to do." With a final sneer he cast alohamora at the door and moved towards it.
"Harry, child. Up on the bed with you now. Harry, no!"
With relfexes honed from preventing many a disaturous potions accident, the lanky man snatched Harry by the back of the collar before he could get through the open door of the hospital.
"Where do you think you're going, Potter?" He received no answer from Harry who just continued to rail against him, trying to get away from the nurse and his teachers. For Snape it was anything but a struggle. Potter couldn't have weighed more than 35 kilos soaking wet. All he had to do was stand there holding the boy's collar and Potter would eventually wear himself out. He made a point to look bored.
And that's when he looked down and saw the marks on Potter's back through the gap in the back of his collar.
They were faint, very faint, but they were there, and Severus Snape knew exactly what they were.