A/N: Already beta'd by my wonderful beta Vicki! Anyway I hope you all like this fic, yes I am still working on the others and this one has been on the back burner and finally posting it. Please review!
Why do we live? Why do we stand up each day and go on? Why do we bother to fight a battle we are so obviously losing...Why am I even alive when I should be dead! Harry Potter froze at the words that were on his paper. He was sitting in class taking a Potions exam, and he couldn't remember writing any of the words. He quickly crossed them off and went back to working, though he was careful with how he held his quill. He spared his hands a glance and winced. He hadn't realized the damage that he had caused the night before when he had slunk into Myrtle's bathroom. All he had cared about was making the pain go away; he hadn't realized that he had been slamming his hand against the wall and directly through the mirror until he felt the pain on his hands. He could still remember Myrtle's latest offer to share her toilet with her. She had meant it just like she had the last time she offered, but this time her eyes had held a glint as if she was up to something. Harry shook the memory away and went back to his exam.
I mean, seriously, every year—hell, even every summer—I barely survive, but somehow, in some manner, I do? Does that mean that when I kill maggot-breath that I'll die? Because there won't be any reason for me to live any more? And do I care if there isn't? Has it ever really mattered since I found out about…about everything?
Harry gaped down at the words on his papers that he hadn't consciously written; what the heck was going on? He glanced up to see everyone working hard on their own exams. No one else seemed to be having the trouble he was; they were all writing madly away and nobody looked surprised by what was on their papers. He swallowed, paling slightly as he quickly scribbled out the words and went back to working on his exam.
I mean, that's probably the real reason why my mother saved me…nobody acts in a selfless way without any gain to themselves, that isn't the way the world works. I don't even know why she had me…she probably would've given me up if it hadn't been for the prophecy, she had to know the deaths I would cau –
"Potter! Come here!" Snape bellowed. Harry jumped and stood. "Bring your exam." Harry snatched his parchment up, turning once to look at his friends as he followed Snape into the potions master's office. Ron stared after Harry and then turned to look at Hermione, who was trying rather hard to look like she was doing her exam. Before any gossip could begin, Snape slipped back in and glared at the entire classroom. "You all had better keep at your own exams and no talking! Or I will have the entire class peeling newt eyes and scrubbing cauldrons until your arms ache," he thundered, and was quite satisfied when most of the students jumped. The sound of quills scribbling rapidly on parchment was music to his ears. He was furious, furious about what he was about to do. He stormed back into his office, where Potter was trying to blend in with the shelves that held his private stash of potions.
"Sit down, Potter," he snarled, curling his lip. Honestly, why couldn't anyone else see what was happening before their eyes? Their precious savior was fading and they weren't doing anything to save him. He snarled as he watched Harry stumble a little to the seat; it was obvious Potter had no idea why he was being signaled out.
Harry clutched the paper tightly in his hands, crinkling it from the force of his grip as he finally sat down, not able to withstand the force of his professor's glare. They stared at each other in silence until Harry looked away. Snape cleared his throat, calling Harry's eyes back to him. He paled when Snape held out a hand.
"Let me see it, Potter."
Harry shook his head. "It isn't finished
"Yes, Potter, it is. Hand me your exam," Snape commanded. Harry closed his eyes tightly as he handed the paper over. He was miserable; Snape was going to laugh at what he had written, or give him a year's worth of detentions because he hadn't been doing what was assigned. He closed his eyes tightly, but all he saw in the darkness was a face…a face that caused him to gag, vomit sliding up his throat until he forced it back down. His eyes sprang open and he could feel cold sweat slid down his face and neck. Snape sat silently, his eyes skimming over the entire paper. Then he slowly raised his eyes. Potter sat with his back rigid, he mused, like a boy about to be sentenced to death. He didn't flinch, his hands didn't shake, but Snape could almost sense the tension in the boy. He had known when he had slipped this particular piece of parchment in front of the boy that the results would be worrying. But he hadn't known how bad it would be. He knew the boy was shaken with his godfather's death. He was also letting himself go; the boy was thinner and he didn't eat at meals, though he was at least putting on a façade at dinner to make his Housemates believe that he had. Snape added in his mind as his trained eyes easily took in the new image Potter was sporting. It was one thing to know Potter wasn't handling the recent events well, he'd known even before he had called Potter into this office that the boy's former self was fading…but to go as far to think these thoughts? No, Potter wasn't simply fading—he was breaking, about to shatter from the pain and the stress that he was under. And not even his Head of House seemed to notice. He placed the piece of parchment down on the desk in front of him, smoothing out the wrinkles as he chose his words carefully. He didn't feel a desire to have his office dismantled by a traumatized teenager. Traumatized, that was what Potter was. He wished that for once in his life, Potter would not insist on doing this the hard way, because Snape was in no mood to fight. In fact, he was very much sick to his stomach at the thoughts written on the parchment…not that he cared about Potter that much, but he was still his student. He must have eaten something that was spoiled during breakfast, that would certainly explain why he wasn't feeling well; he knew it was a mistake to allow a house elf to actually cook for him. Potter coughed slightly, bringing Snape from his thoughts. Right, the problem at hand, Snape thought.
"Do you know why you wrote this?" he asked. Harry shook his head, studying his shoes. "You cannot lie—not on this particular piece of paper, at least," Snape added, tapping the parchment. Harry raised his eyes cautiously, not sure what to make of this, not sure he wanted to know.
"Write down what House the Hat wanted to sort you into," the man commanded as he handed Harry a quill. Harry gripped it and leaned forward.Gryffindor, Harry thought and began to write.
Gry...Slytherin. He managed to write three letters before his hand moved automatically on his own. He quickly moved to cross out the word, but Snape captured his hand and removed the parchment. He read it slowly, face not showing any of his emotions. Then Harry watched as the man slowly raised his eyes to meet his.
"You convinced it not to, didn't you, Potter...that was very stupid of you." Snape sighed and rubbed the ridge of his nose. He knew it, all along he knew that the troublesome Gryffindor belonged in his House.
"It wasn't stupid! Ron said-"
"Oh yes, the same Mr. Weasley who was jealous of you during fourth year? The same one who foolishly allowed you to leave the safety of Hogwarts and go to the Department-"
"Shut up!" Harry screamed, his hands fisting at his side. His breathing was off, Snape mused as he studied him carefully. He knew of the episode in Dumbledore's office, the entire faculty knew and Dumbledore had warned them all to tread carefully with Potter. Just as he knew the guilt and despair that was lurking inside the teenager's mind. Granted, there were only a few days left before the official school year ended, but Snape was now bound and determined to find out why the boy loathed his muggle relatives. The brief glances of the memories he had seen during their private lessons were enough to hint at a problem, but he intended to find out just what was going on in Potter's home. And the thoughts on the paper before him were extremely disturbing…and worrying.
"Just shut up!" Harry's voice shook as he whispered it. All he could see was Sirius...Sirius falling through the Veil with that shocked look, the way his eyes had widened as they stared into Harry's, the sadness, the knowledge he had been able to see. Tears began to slide down his face, and he rubbed at them angrily. He would not fall apart in front of Snape.
"And this, Mr. Potter, is why you should have let the Sorting Hat do its job properly," Snape sighed as he pulled out his handkerchief and offered it to Harry, who stared blankly at it. "Wipe your face." Harry took it and slowly did so, his breath still hitching.
"I don't belong in Slytherin," he said wearily. His head was buzzing, but surprisingly his magic hadn't acted up as it had the last time he had gotten mad, in Dumbledore's office.
"Slytherin is more than the House that creates bad witches and wizards. It is also the House that deals with children who have tormented pasts and problems. Had you been in that house..." Snape shook his head. Now was not the time to argue, now was the time to take what little action he could.
"By all rights, I should fight to have the Hat resort you..." Snape mused out loud. He could see the panic entering Harry's eyes rapidly, as well as in the way the boy began to hyperventilate.
"Silence, Potter. I will not, as that will not help this situation in the least," he said. The panic began to recede from green eyes, and he could see Harry visibly relax.
"There isn't a situation, sir," Harry said, his eyes darting to the door. Maybe Snape was going to let him leave now...
"Yes, there is. Your aunt and uncle are abusive, you don't seem to understand the importance of your own life, and I'm afraid you're becoming suicidal," Snape replied with honesty.
"I am not suicidal!" Harry snarled. Snape raised an eyebrow and stood. He walked over and picked up one of Harry's hands, turning it over until the palm was clearly visible. The bruises were dark on the tan skin and cuts on it looked inflamed, a sure sign of infection.
"Yet you do yourself harm," he spoke softly, watching Harry go red from embarrassment.
"I was flying, and the broom..." Harry fumbled with the lie as he stared down at his hand. Cool fingers forced his chin up and he found himself staring at Snape.
"Don't lie...you don't ever have to lie to me," he spoke again in that soft voice. Harry's breath caught in his throat.
"Professor...I...that is, you-"
"I will speak with Dumbledore and make the proper arrangements," he said as he stood, gesturing for Harry to follow him.
"Arrangements?" Harry said, his voice shaking.
"You won't be going back to those muggles of yours...no, you need constant watching, and I have a few ideas on two of the people you could be placed with. Now go and finish your exam," he instructed, handing Harry a new piece of parchment. He watched with even more concern as the boy fled. He hadn't protested being shoved off on a stranger, Snape mused, and that was not a good sign. He shook his head—no, he couldn't push this one off on someone else...he was going to have to tend to this one personally.