A/N: Welcome to another story, lovies! Yes, I've gone and chosen yet another overdone HP theme: abused Harry. But just like my veela fic I'm hoping to be somewhat original here (although that'll probably prove a bit more difficult with this story than with SSoG).
Anyway, just a few notes before you begin: (1) this will be a slash story (if that offends you, hit the back button now); (2) this will also be a Severitus story (i.e. Snape as a father figure to both Harry and Draco); (3) this will be a slightly dark story (but as is my style, the angst will be broken up by moments of humor); (4) characters are likely to be somewhat OOC (so be prepared). I have also disregarded books 6 & 7 and consider this story to be slightly AU.
Okay. Now that the obligatory warnings are out of the way, on to notes about the chapter. There are mentions of abuse in this chapter. Nothing graphic but it's there. Again, if this bothers you DON'T READ IT! Don't you dare flame me for it because you have been warned. That said, please enjoy the story and please review!!
Shadows of an Angel—Chapter One
In the quaint little town of Little Whinging, in a perfectly ordinary house on a perfectly ordinary street, a boy lay sleeping in his tiny room. Number 4 Privet Drive was a perfectly normal home, thank you very much, and the Dursleys were a perfectly normal family…
"Boy! Get up! Now!"
Harry woke at the sound of locks being undone, echoing his uncle's heavy rapping on the door.
Oh, yes. The Dursleys were a perfectly normal family hiding a perfectly peculiar boy.
"Up!" Vernon bellowed. "Up or you'll feel the back of my hand, freak!"
Groaning, Harry rolled onto his back, rummaging around the bedside table for his glasses. Pushing off his sheets, he swung his feet to the floor and stretched his aching muscles. The tender skin around his shoulder blades throbbed painfully. He touched his bruised lip and winced.
"You had better be up!" Vernon warned, pounding on the door.
"I'm coming!" Harry called back. "I'll be right down."
Dressed in clothing several sizes too big, Harry padded out of his room and onto the landing, descending the stairs with care, hoping not to aggravate his fractured ankle. Crossing through the hall, he glimpsed Dudley folded up in front of the television laughing at pointless cartoons.
In the kitchen, Petunia was setting out plates. "Get to work," she ordered sourly. "And don't you dare burn anything."
Harry sighed, picking up the spatula. "Yes, aunt Petunia."
The staircase creaked beneath the weight of lumbering steps and Harry stiffened as his uncle's large form stepped through the doorway. "Hurry up, boy!"
"Coming, uncle Vernon." Lifting the pan off of the stove, drawing in a sharp breath as his bruised ribs protested the sudden movement, Harry dutifully served his relatives.
Dudley waddled into the kitchen with a sneer, 'accidentally' bumping against Harry, ignoring his hiss of pain.
Curling his lip disgustedly, Vernon said, "Clean up that mess, boy, and I might let you have our scraps."
Harry bit hard on his tongue to silence his bitter retort, knowing it would serve only to earn him another beating. Instead, he turned to the sink with a scowl and started scrubbing.
The scent of burning oil caught his attention. Whirling around with a silent curse, he reached out to pull the sizzling skillet away from the fire…and the cast iron handle seared into his palm. "Fuck!" he swore, the skillet crashing to the floor.
"Damnit, boy!" Vernon roared.
Harry dropped to his knees with a wet cloth, mopping up the spilled grease and trying to ignore the near unbearable sting of burned flesh.
Dudley snickered at his obvious pain.
"Wanker," Harry muttered, standing to rinse out the soiled cloth.
Vernon frowned. "What was that, boy?"
"Nothing, uncle Vernon."
"Look at me, freak."
Harry turned, and was struck viciously across the cheek. "How dare you show such disrespect!"
Blood trickled from his nose, a wash of dizziness and nausea staggering him. "I'm sorry, uncle Vernon."
A brutal, meaty hand yanked Harry up by the collar, hauling him out of the kitchen. "Worthless whelp. I'll teach you sorry."
Being tossed into the cupboard under the stairs, his body falling uselessly limp, was the last thing Harry remembered before darkness overwhelmed him.
They were standing in a dark and overgrown graveyard; the black outline of a church was visible beyond a large yew tree to their right. A hill rose above them to their left. Harry could just make out the outline of a fine old house on the hillside.
Squinting tensely through the darkness, they watched a figure drawing nearer, walking steadily toward them between the graves. Harry couldn't make out a face, but whoever it was, he was short, and wearing a hooded cloak pulled up over his head to obscure his face.
The figure stopped beside a towering marble headstone, only six feet from them. And then, without warning, Harry's scar exploded with pain. It was agony such as he had never felt in all his life. His knees buckled; he was on the ground and he could see nothing at all; his head was about to split open.
From far away, above his head, he heard a high, cold voice say, "Kill the spare."
A swishing noise and a second voice, which screeched the words into the night: "Avada Kedavra!"
A blast of green light blazed through Harry's eyelids and he heard something heavy fall to the ground beside him. Terrified of what he was about to see, he opened his stinging eyes.
Cedric was lying spread-eagle on the ground beside him. He was dead.
Harry woke with a strangled cry, tears streaming down his cheeks. His body thrummed with a constant pain, his scar a constant ache. Hunger gnawed at his stomach. He'd lost count of the days since he'd last tasted food or water, last glimpsed the world outside his cold, dark cupboard, last slept without the horrors of nightmares that tore him apart piece by piece.
Breathing had become an agony in itself, and the blood he'd begun to cough up left his mouth with a bitter taste.
He found sanctuary in the endless depths of oblivion, swimming the black waters of unconsciousness and embracing the sweet inertia it offered. Numbness had become his salvation. Lethargy his answered prayer.
But there would be no deliverance for his tortured soul, no divine intervention, no acts of redemption. He had been condemned to a purgatory of familial perversion…
"…letter from those people."
"…take him away?"
"…stuck with him?"
Ever and again, when he had sentience enough to allow, Harry wondered why the Order hadn't yet sent someone to check on him. It had been weeks since his last missive, despite the Order's explicit instruction that he write weekly. Were they worried? Did they care at all?
Dark thoughts arose in answer to such questions. Perhaps they were all too aware of his present condition and were simply overlooking it. So long as Harry remained at Number 4 Privet Drive, he was protected from Voldemort by the blood coursing through Petunia's veins. But at what cost? How much of his innocence, his sanity, was the Order willing to sacrifice for the Greater Good?
Feverish and trembling, Harry lay in his darkened cupboard waiting for another day, his brow slick with perspiration, his lips chapped and raw, his lungs aching with every breath. The trappings of death were hung upon the gallows of his fate.
"Dudders dear, would you answer the door?"
Heavy footsteps waddled forward a few paces. The doorknob creaked. A cool breeze swept inside. Teetering at the edge of consciousness, thoughts swimming through shrouded delirium, Harry listened to the drawl of a distantly familiar voice.
"Is this the Dursley residence?"
"I'm here for Potter."
There was a pause and Harry imagined he heard a soft, strangled breath. "Dad?"
A newspaper crumbled, followed by a gruff voice. "Who is it, Dudley?"
"There's a man here asking about Harry."
Vernon rose to his feet, newspaper fluttering to the empty chair. Petunia coughed gently, spoke softly to her husband. Vernon scowled. "What do you want?"
Slipping ever further towards the promise of unconsciousness, Harry could hear the callous disregard in that satiny voice. "Concerns have arisen regarding Potter's wellbeing. I have been sent to evaluate his care. If you don't mind…"
"Who are you?"
"One of his professors."
Vernon was frowning. He did so at the mention of anything remotely magical. But there was something else. Harry caught a sudden…hesitation in his uncle's voice.
Oh, yes, Harry thought weakly. You should fear what they'll do to you if they find out what you've done to me.
"So you're one of those people, are you?"
The front door was still open, a soft stream of sunlight curling under the cupboard door. Harry felt the warmth of it touch the tips of his toes, coiling up and around his battered body.
He coughed, his body seizing fitfully.
A tense silence, and then, "May I come in?"
"No," Vernon replied stiffly, the slightest of quivers in his voice. "The boy's not here. Goodbye."
"I insist." The door swung open once more, footsteps crossing the threshold. "Now. Where is he?"
"How dare you! Get out of my house this instant!"
Silence. Cold, thick silence. "Do not make me ask you again."
Shadows crept over Harry's vision, his eyes falling shut of their own accord. He was slipping—slipping somewhere poisoned by darkness and death. His breath began to still, the pain rippling through his limbs going numb. Everything was slowly slipping. Slipping…
A hand on the cupboard latch. A panicked voice.
Vernon was bellowing. Petunia was shrieking. Dudley was strangely silent. And then the cupboard door opened, a river of light pouring inside.
"Merlin," breathed in horrified disbelief.
"Get away from there! What do you—"
A dark voice growled dangerously. "What have you done to him?"
Vernon sniffed defiantly. "Nothing the little freak didn't deserve."
"Trust me, Dursley. You too will get exactly what you deserve."
A warm hand pressed against Harry's brow, arms wrapping around his dying body. "Potter? Open your eyes. Look at me, Harry."
He heard only whispers as he slipped ever further into his shadowy chasm. Slipped down until he heard nothing at all.
Draco woke abruptly, a flaring pain coursing through his abdomen. Tears brimmed in his tightly closed eyes as he drew a long, shuddering breath.
Silently cursing his father, he opened his eyes. Lucius was the sole reason he was lying abed in the hospital wing at Hogwarts, the sole reason for every bruise on his body.
Retuning to the Manor after a day spent trolling Diagon Alley, Draco had been shocked to find his father waiting for him. He should have been rotting in an Azkaban cell, but with the Dementors returned to Voldemort's ranks, escape proved laughably easy for Lucius Malfoy.
"It's time," his father said. "Time you take your place at my side."
You mean time to kiss the feet of that maniac, Draco thought, and to his own horrified surprise, he laughed. "Look at yourself, father. Look at what you've become. The faithful lapdog of a psychopath."
The last thing he saw before darkness swallowed him whole was his father standing over him, wand pointed at his heart.
"How are you feeling, dear?"
Draco blinked, looked up. Madame Pomfrey smiled down at him. How was he feeling? "Just lovely, thanks," he replied caustically. "Maybe next time we'll try severing limbs."
Poppy frowned, but said nothing. Setting a tray on the bedside table, she handed him an opaque vile. "Drink this, then eat."
Draco swallowed obediently, shuddering at the taste. "God, that's awful."
"Medicine is not meant to taste pleasant, Mr. Malfoy. Now stop being querulous and eat your breakfast."
"I'm not hungry."
"Eat, or you'll not be allowed outside."
Draco scowled, picking up the fork. "This is blackmail."
Fretting about, fluffing his pillow and checking his vitals, she smiled warmly at him. "It's for your own good, dear. Now eat up. I'll be back in a bit to check on you."
Draco sighed and took a bite.
Lucius had never struck him before. He was sole heir to the Malfoy legacy and, despite his father's constant disappointment, he had never once raised a hand to Draco. Until he refused the Dark Mark.
Pureblood or not, Draco had never believed in Voldemort's psychotic obsession with cleansing the wizarding world of muggle blood. He was hardly about to go out and hug a mudblood, but the genocide of an entire people? That was insanity. And Draco Malfoy refused to kiss the feet of a megalomaniac.
Draco looked up as Snape charged into the hospital, carrying what appeared to be a body in his arms. Curiously, he watched his godfather lay the person down with uncharacteristic gentleness.
From her office, Madame Pomfrey hollered reprovingly, "What on earth is the emergency, Severus?"
Poppy came bustling out. She took one look at Harry and paled horribly. "Good lord," she gasped. "What happened?"
Snape sneered coldly, dark eyes flashing dangerously at the memory. "Those muggles were keeping him locked in a cupboard."
"A cupboard? That's monstrous."
Stepping away from the bed, giving her room to move about, Snape looked Harry over with his usual guarded expression. "I agree."
Removing his clothing with great care, muttering spells under her breath, Poppy asked, "Was he conscious when you found him?"
"He's having difficulty breathing," she said, casting another spell.
Draco watched from his bed as Madame Pomfrey work furiously to heal and soothe Harry's battered body. He was horrified by the sight of his nemesis, the Golden Boy of Gryffindor, lying unconscious, his malnourished body latticed with scars and bruising. Like everyone else, Draco had always assumed that Harry was worshipped by his family.
Seeing him now, so close to death he could taste it, Draco felt horribly nauseous. No one deserved that sort of cruelty.
The sky had darkened by the time Poppy finally straightened and stepped away from the bed.
Hearing her sigh, Snape looked up. "How is he?"
"Not good, I'm afraid," she replied softly. "Severus, he has tissue scarring several years old from injuries that were never properly healed. Bones in his wrists show evidence of repeated, unattended fractures and the bruising around his ribs indicates a long history of reoccurring breaks. He had burn scars and poorly healed lacerations on his palms and along his thighs and back.
"At the moment," she sighed heavily. "He's suffering three broken ribs, a fractured ankle, concussion, burns to his right hand, bruising along his jaw, and lacerations to his back likely caused by a whip of some sort, probably a belt. I've diagnosed him with pleurisy, pneumonia and severe malnutrition."
Snape frowned. "What is it, Poppy?"
She hesitated, her voice a whispered reply. "I fear he's been raped, Severus."
A/N: The italics in this chapter were an excerpt from GoF (if you hadn't already guessed). Okay. So what did you think? I'll tell you upfront that neither Vernon nor Dudley are responsible for Harry's rape. While I'm not particularly fond of the Dursley's, I just can't picture them going that far in their abuse. That said, please review! I'd love to hear from you.