Medians and Curves
By Shylee Taregan
Subjected to starvation, abuse, hatred, and cruelty at a very young age, the young Harry Potter is finally left, beaten and alone, in an alleyway. Given no other choice, Dumbledore must put Harry in the care of his only living relative, his father, Severus Snape.
Author's Note. In response to the Severitus Challenge, and a firm and unyielding need to be included in Potions and Snitches's esteemed assemblage of authors. And also because my heartstring's were torn by the full scope and picture of child abuse.
Disclaimer. No copyright infringement intended. The characters, setting, etc. belong to the talented Mrs. Rowling. I own the plot (barely). The sentiment it entails is the reader's.
Thank you. Gillian Middleton, for unknowingly being my inspiration, and S.L.S., for never going that far.
Arc I: aberro, aberre, aberrui, aberritus: to wander, to deviate, to escape.
The five-year-old boy whimpered quietly to himself as he pulled the remains of the tattered and torn sweatshirt, a cast-off of his whale of a cousin, off of the bleeding lacerations on his back. Though he tried defiantly to hold it back, a single tear escaped his glazed eyes and rolled down a dirt-and-blood-smattered cheek. He felt another slide down from his other eye and his breath hitched. He felt the fire in his lungs meet the scream of his hurt and he felt himself suffocating. Like shattered glass, the tears broke free of his hold and coursed down his face. He gave up trying to pull off the shirt and instead curled into as small a ball as he could make himself, his back to the locked cupboard door.
He hadn't meant to disrupt them. But he had needed the bathroom very badly. And, not matter how hard he had tried, he couldn't explain to his aunt and uncle how the cupboard door had come unlocked. He guiltily remembered how he had willed it to be unlocked so that he could just use the lavatory, and he had promised himself that he would be quick, so that his aunt and uncle's guests wouldn't notice the little boy darting upstairs and back down.
But they had noticed. Mr. Crenshaw was the first to notice the dirty, green-eyed child trying to walk, unnoticed, down the hall and up the stairs. Harry remembered all too well what had occurred.
"Oh?" Mr. Crenshaw said, stopped Vernon Dursley at the punch line of a joke that was the furthest thing from funny. Petunia Dursley and Anna Crenshaw looked up as well, neither of the Crenshaw's catching Vernon's brief change of color and bloated eyes at the sight of his nephew.
"And what's this?" Mrs. Crenshaw asked, standing up. "You never told us that you had another son, Petunia…"
"That's…erm…I mean, he's not my son, Anna," Petunia said through pursed horse's lips. "He's my late sister's. He's been living under our care since she and her husband died."
"Oh?" Anna said, mimicking her husband's earlier sentiment. "Why on earth is he wearing that drab old thing? And why is he so dirty? Petunia?" The woman turned to the rod-thin woman, prim eyebrows arched in amazement.
"Come here, dear boy," Mr. Crenshaw said in wonder. Harry dared not look at his aunt and uncle. He knew he would have to pay for this later, so he stayed where he was, poised on the first step upwards, one hand on the banister and his eyes on the Crenshaws'.
"I say, Vernon," Mr. Crenshaw murmured, "the chap doesn't look more than four years old. Surely he can speak?"
"'Course he can, 'course he can," Vernon rumbled, his rising temper continuing to go unnoticed. "Listen to the nice man, boy," the ruddy-faced uncle told his nephew, beady eyes threatening him from a distance and promising punishment if he didn't obey. Of course, he was going to be punished anyway for showing his face at all. But the five-year-old boy slowly walked forward, trying hard not to trip on his overlarge jeans, his face on the floor. The plastic, too-big glasses that Vernon had gotten at the cheapest possible price with prescription kept sliding down the boy's small nose, and he quickly pushed it up, the large sleeves of the sweatshirt hindering the action.
As he came level with the four adults, he looked up into Mr. Crenshaw's face, too terrified of looking toward his aunt and uncle.
"How old is he, Vernon?" Anna Crenshaw asked, looking as if she dearly wanted to touch the boy's shoulder to prove he wouldn't fall to pieces right then; that was how fragile the poor waif looked.
"The boy's five," Petunia said shortly, her grip on her teacup turning her knuckles white. Five was too young of the boy to notice his aunt and uncle's disdain of using his real name. "Boy" was all they ever referred to him as, and if it wasn't for school, he might have forgotten his real name altogether.
"My word," Anna breathed. "He's so small, Petunia. Why is he that small?"
"It's just the clothes, I assure you," Petunia said, appalled to even the implication that not everything in her home was impeccably normal. "Forgive the intrusion, Anna, dear, I'll just send him back to his room for now. Come, boy, let us have adult time."
With her back to the Crenshaws, she gave Harry the most murderous look she could muster, which was enough to scare the five-year-old boy into forgetting how badly he needed to go to the bathroom, enough to make him let his bladder go right there.
Feeling the warmth trickle down his pants, he burst into tears amid Vernon and Petunia Dursley's cries of outrage, and Anna and Mr. Crenshaw's suspicious yells…
Harry had been forced into the bathroom and was locked there by his vicious-looking uncle while his aunt tried to placate the Crenshaws. Harry sat in the corner of the tub, the curtain drawn in an effort to hide, listening to the mingled shouts and threats of lawsuit and child services. It wasn't long before the front door slammed and Harry heard a car speed away down the street. Something had lodged in Harry's throat as two ominous pairs of footsteps made their way up the steps. Harry's frail five-year-old memory blocked out what happened after Vernon and Petunia appeared at the door, Vernon with a long leather strap wrapped around his right fist.
Hours later, when Harry came back to himself, he was in the cupboard, face down, covered with blood and bruises and his own urine and tears.
He was unable to think, unable to feel. He was too young to hate, too young to realize that he wasn't a freak, that he far from deserved his treatment. Four years had taught the young boy that he was unworthy of polite society, that he would wind up like his parents, no good and poor and dead. But Harry hoped; he hoped like only a small child could hope. He hoped that someone would help make it stop, that someone would save him. He didn't care who it was. Even if he was unworthy, he wanted to believe he was worthy enough for that. Just safety. That was all. He neither wanted nor needed anything more. He did not believe he deserved anything more. He did not believe he deserved anything. If his own family could treat him so, then perhaps he had done some inexcusable thing, and Harry knew he could never make them stop their brutality.
He deserved it.
Try as he might, the little boy was unable to sleep until the pain exhausted his tiny body. He fell into a fitful, nightmare-haunted asleep, soiled and in pain, terrified and alone, in the little cupboard under the stairs.
Author's Note. Child abuse is a very serious problem in today's world, more serious than most people want to admit. The authoress Brightfeather said much the same at the beginning of her incredible fic, True Confessions. Here I quote her in an effort to raise awareness.
If you or someone you know knows of a child who is being abused, visit http // www . Kidsafe - caps. org / report. html (remove spaces) for your local reporting hotline (US only), or call 1-800-4-A-CHILD in North America. In the UK, call Childline at 0800 1111.