Severus all but ran to his rooms, not caring if any of the students saw him. He had gone to the Slytherin common room to give his new snakes an introduction to the rules and expectations Severus expected them to live by, when he noticed that Harry wasn't there.
Asking around, it wasn't long until he discovered the Malfoy boy had let slip that Albus was the one to leave Harry with the Dursleys.
Barking out instructions for the new prefects to teach them the rules, Severus made his way out of the common room as quickly as he could while still looking respectable.
Once out of sight of the few portraits that lived in the dungeons, Severus took off, getting to his quarters in half the time it usually took.
Looking through each of the rooms, Severus' worry grew as each room turned out empty.
"Harry! Harry, where are you?"
Hearing something behind him, Severus turned around, hoping to see his missing ward. What he wasn't expecting was to see the snake that Harry constantly had with him.
Feeling like a fool, but knowing that if anyone would know where Harry was it would be Cissy, Severus asked the reptile, hoping to Merlin she would know.
The snake looked at him for a second, before giving what could only be a nod. It turned around and left the room, a confused and worried Severus following after it.
The two walked (or slithered as the case may be) for what felt like an age, before finally coming to a corridor that only had one door.
"Is he in there?" Severus asked, by now having figured out that the snake could understand him.
Cissy nodded and Severus opened the door, only to be met with the most horrifying sight.
Huddled in a corner was Harry, and while that in its self was not such an unusual occurrence, the horrifying thing was the other person in the room.
Vernon Dursley, just as he was when Severus last saw him, was yelling insults at Harry, while systematically hitting him with a belt.
Harry was pleading with the grotesque man, begging him to leave him alone.
Without even thinking about it Severus pulled out his wand and cast the first spell that came to mind.
The spell hit Dursley square on the back. The strength of the spell should have rendered the man unconscious, but all Dursley did was turn around and glare, before turning into a hideous werewolf.
Suddenly Severus knew what he was dealing with. Thinking of how he could turn the horrible beast into something amusing, Severus cried "Riddikulus!"
The spell hit its target and where a snarling, drooling monster once was now sat a tiny puppy barely able to stand on its own overgrown feet.
Severus banished the puppy to who knows where, and ran over to the bloody boy in the corner.
"Harry? Oh Harry I'm so sorry."
Severus tried to hug the quivering child, but Harry pulled away with a small scream.
He again tried to get near the boy, but was met with a punch in the face, curtesy of a small boy trying to defend himself from non-existent enemies.
"I'm sorry Uncle, I'm sorry. Please I won't do it again. I'm sorry. Please, please, no! No I'm sorry!"
Severus felt like crying. No child should ever say such things, especially not a boy like Harry.
"Harry I'm not your uncle! Please Harry, I'm not going to hurt you. Please. Harry, I am not your uncle."
Severus didn't know what to do. Trying to get closer to the boy would only result in more pain (for both him and the boy), but Harry seemed oblivious to Severus' calls.
Severus kept trying for almost fifteen minutes, but the boy was lost in a world of his own.
Sighing, Severus looked over at the snake that had so far been quite placid during the whole ordeal.
"Insolitus lingua Parseltongue. Cissy do you know what I can do to help him?"
The snake looked at him sadly, before shaking it's head. Once again Severus was astounded at the intelligence of the creature.
"I am sorry potions man, but Harry is trapped in memories he cannot escape."
Potions man? Well I've been called worst things before.
Cissy's comment, while being hilarious at the same time, struck an idea in Severus' mind.
"Cissy, if I could get into his memories, would I be able to help Harry?"
Cissy looked uncertain. It was clear to Severus that she understood, but she was weary of causing Harry more pain.
Finally, after Harry started screaming again, Cissy nodded.
Trying to ignore the pain filled cries that were coming from the boy, Severus put his wand to Harry's temple and muttered "legilimens."
"You stupid freak! That vase was a present from my mother!"
Severus watched as someone, who could only be Petunia Dursley, slapped a younger Harry, knocking him to the floor.
"I-I'm sorry Aunt Petunia. I was just trying the dust it but it was too high for me. I didn't mean to knock it off."
Harry's aunt looked murderous. The worst thing about this scene was that Severus knew it would pale in comparison to what would happen to Harry in a few short years.
The horse-faced woman grabbed the quivering child by his arm and threw him onto the pile of broken ceramics. Harry whimpered at the pain as his small hands were cut open, but managed to hold back more the tears.
"Clean it up you ungrateful little shit, then off to your room. If you behave, I won't have to tell Vernon about this."
Harry looked up at his aunt with wide, hopeful eyes, but the illusion was ruined when Petunia went to slap him again. Harry ducked at the last second, before his eyes widened as he realised what he had done.
"You little bastard! How dare you duck when I try and discipline you! Now your uncle will definitely hear about this! No forget the vase, you can clean it up tonight after your uncle has finished punishing you. Now get to your room and stay there!"
Harry stood up, trying not to get any blood on the carpet as his hands were bleeding freely by this stage.
Just as he was leaving the lounge room, his cousin Dudley came running in and the two of them went flying.
"Mummy!" Dudley Dursley started bawling, but Severus could see that there weren't actually any tears.
"Oh Duddykins, are you alright? What did you hurt?"
Severus couldn't watch the disgusting display of favouritism, so he looked over at Harry, and felt his heart break just that little bit more.
The boy was on the ground silently crying, clutching at his left wrist, which was obviously broken.
"The-the freak pushed me, Mummy! He pushed me 'cause he knows no one will ever love him!"
Despite the fact that it was an obvious lie, Petunia rounded on the smaller boy and started giving him an earful, even though the boy clearly needed medical attention of at least the most basic kind.
Severus felt hopeless, his little Harry was being destroyed before his very eyes and there was nothing he could do to prevent it.
"…and you've gotten blood on the new carpets! Go to your room! Your uncle will hear all about your behaviour today, and don't think you'll just be getting a beating for this! No you little bastard, you'll be getting what you rightly deserve!"
Harry pulled himself off the ground, not even bothering to keep his bloodied hands off the carpet any longer, and shuffled off to the cupboard under the stairs.
At first Severus thought Harry was getting something for his hands from under the staircase, but that was before he saw the small sign stuck on the back of the cupboard door;
Severus felt himself falling, before he landed painfully back in the empty classroom at Hogwarts.
After seeing the first disgusting scene, Severus had witnessed several more memories, including the punishment Harry had received that night.
Severus looked over at the small boy in the corner, who was silently watching him as if he were about to strike.
Knowing what Severus did now, he was amazed Harry had turned out the way he had, and not the least surprised he had problems being around adults.
The boy was completely tense, his eyes darting from side to side as he looked for a way out. Severus was almost afraid to say anything to him, worried it might cause Harry to relapse back into his memories.
After several minutes, when it was clear to Severus that Harry wasn't going to make the first move, Severus cautiously held out his hand to the shaking child.
Harry didn't take the hand as he would normally have, instead he hissed something and Cissy came from behind Severus and made her way around the boy's shoulders.
Severus realised the spell had worn off, and quickly reapplied it, trying not to flinch when Harry jumped at the noise.
"Harry? I…" But Severus didn't know what to say. What do you say to a child that experienced all that? What do you say to a child that lived his first five or so years with his highly abusive guardians, only to be locked away for another five years in a dark attic with only a snake to keep him alive, let alone to give him company?
"When will you do it to, Severus?" Harry looked up at him, his vibrant, green eyes looked dead. Severus had no idea what the boy was talking about.
"When will I what Harry? When will I hit you? When will I hold your head under the water until you almost drown? I promise Harry, I will never do those things, not even if you were to break into my laboratory and destroy all my research. What those people did to you was inhuman and they will be punished for it."
Severus looked Harry in the eye, confused when the boy started shaking his head.
"That- that's not what I meant Sev- Severus. What I meant was whe- when will you be-betray me to? When will you get sick of having me around? WHEN WILL YOU STOP CARING, JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE?!"
Severus felt tears run down his face. It was the first time in many years that he had actually cried, but seeing this broken child before him tore at even his black heart.
"Harry, Albus didn't… he had no idea they would treat you like that. You must believe me; he was just as devastated as everybody else was when he heard what happened to you. Albus loves you and loved your parents; he would never have left you with those monsters had he had any idea what sort of things would happen to you, even before you were put in the attic."
Harry started to cry, even as he forced the next words passed his lips.
"But- but he did, Severus! He left me, and I- I had to live through that! I-I'm a freak and it's all- all their fault! Unc-uncle Vernon and- and Al-bus! It's too much, Severus! I just-" Harry cut off, not wanting to reveal the horrible thoughts that had just entered his head. But Severus needed to know. He had to know what Harry was thinking or there was no way he could help him.
"What Harry? What were you going to say?" The desperation in his voice shocked Harry enough to tell him.
"I- I just wish… I just wish I was…I just wish I was DEAD!" Severus gasped, never expecting Harry to say something like that.
" I can't cope being here, but I can't go back to where I was! Even before the-the at-attic I was different, a freak. I've never been normal and I just wish so bad that I could. Severus, I can't be normal, ever, and I just want to be! I just want to be like everyone else but I can't!" The boy broke down completely, sobbing and rocking back and forth.
"Oh Harry." Severus got up and walked over to the small child in the corner. Ignoring the snake that was desperately trying to comfort the small boy, Severus knelt down and wrapped his arms around Harry, refusing to let go even when Harry struggled.
"Harry I'm not going to let you go. Ever. I will always be here for you, even when you don't want me to be. I promise, I won't betray you. Even if everyone else turns away from you, I will be here, waiting to comfort you and keep you safe."
The two of them sat in that position for almost two hours, Severus continuously murmuring words of care and assurance to the broken child.
Looking down, Severus realised the boy had fallen asleep in his lap. Not wanting to upset him further, Severus stood up with the small child in his arms and carried him to his rooms.
Placing the boy in his room, Severus transfigured the boy's robe into a set of pyjamas and put him into his bed.
The boy stirred slightly when Severus was leaving, drawing him back to Harry's bedside.
"Sev'rus, I don' wanna go tomorrow. No' ready."
Severus nodded his head; having already thought that it would be unlikely Harry would be able to face the other students after the night's revelations.
"I'll speak to the Headmaster, Harry, and see what he says."
Harry closed his eyes and rolled over, facing away from Severus.
"Thank-you Sev'rus. Nigh'."
"Good night Harry."
Severus was almost at the door when he heard a soft voice, which was little more than a whisper; mutter some of the most painful words he had ever heard.
"Love you Sev'rus." By the time Severus turned around again, the boy was fast asleep.
After checking on his Sytherins to make sure the first years were settled in, Severus made his way up to the Headmaster's office.
Softly saying the password as he came across the stone gargoyle, Severus waited as patiently as he could while the stairs slowly took him up to his employer.
"Ah Severus, do come in."
Grumbling about senile old coots and their strange powers, Severus opened the door and was more then a little surprised to see half the staff seated in the large office.
Albus looked as though he were about to speak, before he noticed the red eyes of the potions master.
His jovial smile vanished in an instant, being replaced by a look of worry Severus hadn't seen since before Harry was brought in.
"Severus my boy, what on earth has happened?"
The dark man collapsed into the nearest chair, holding his head in his hands.
"Harry found out who left him with the Dursleys."
Severus could see the instant Albus caught on to what that meant.
"Oh Merlin. What happened?"
Many of the staff looked confused, few knowing that it was Albus who had made the decision to leave Harry with his relatives.
Ignoring the inquiring looks from many of the staff, Severus told Albus what had happened earlier that night, including what he had seen in the memories. He purposely left out the last comment Harry had made while half asleep.
"And you say he doesn't wish to start school with the others? Well if that is what he truly believes then there isn't much we can do. Those of you that are scheduled to tutor him will continue to do so. I also believe, in light of what young Harry has revealed to us tonight, that it may be beneficial to look at getting him a therapist."
Severus looked outraged; Harry didn't need to speak to some strange adult about what had happened to him, he just needed more time to get used to his new life.
He argued with Albus about the issue for several minutes, before Albus finally conceded defeat.
"Alright my dear boy, if that is what you truly believe will be best for Harry. However, if he isn't showing signs of improvement by Christmas, I would like to have at least have one session with someone."
Considering he had won the last battle, Severus agreed to this request.
Sighing, Severus bade goodnight to his fellow staff and made his way back to the dungeons. The next few months were going to be very trying, he only hoped that he had the strength to handle it.
"Come on, Severus! You are so slow!"
Harry Potter was anxiously waiting in the living room, impatiently tapping his foot and looking at the clock every thirty seconds or so.
It was mid December, and Hogwarts was covered in a fresh bed of snow, snow which Harry was eagerly waiting to play in, never having done so before.
Finally, after what seemed like hours to the small child, but in fact was only about fifteen minutes, Severus was ready and the two of them made their way up through the dungeons of Hogwarts.
Harry slowed once they reached the entrance hall, knowing that there would be many students about.
In the three and a half months since the school term had begun, Harry had slowly become more confident in himself and his surroundings. His English had improved and he was finally able to pronounce "er", which Severus was extremely thankful for, as Harry was now able to pronounce his name correctly.
His writing was still abysmal and his reading had become a problem during some of his classes as some of the teachers preferred to write instructions on the board, but Severus was slowly working on that and Harry was beginning to make progress.
It had taken a good two months for Harry to be able to start attending classes and he was still too nervous to spend time with his classmates outside of class time. Considering the boy had only had about five months to get over ten years of neglect and abuse, Severus considered the small amount of trust Harry had in other people as nothing short of a miracle.
Surprisingly Harry had made friends with one of the Gryffindors, Neville Longbottom. Thought considering the Longbottom boy was about as confident as Harry was; it wasn't really much of a surprise.
While Harry would never actually spend time outside of class with the boy, he would work with him during some of their joint classes. Severus was thankful that Harry was making some attempts to socialise, even if it was with a boy who was not only a Gryffindor, but also one of the worst potions students Severus had ever seen.
Pulling himself from his thoughts, Severus watched Harry out of the corner of his eye as the two of them slowly made their way across the large hall, before exiting the large front doors, not missing the fact that Harry's eyes were dancing across the room, watching out for signs of trouble.
Severus would never forget the look on Harry's face when Harry saw the snow-covered grounds. It was the happiest Severus had seen the boy look since… forever. Harry hadn't even noticed the other students enjoying different activities around him.
Letting his mind wander, Severus didn't notice Harry bending down to play with the soft snow. Unfortunately, that also meant he didn't see the snowball come flying at him until it hit him… straight in the face.
Coughing on the snow that he had swallowed, the first thing Severus noticed was that the entire grounds had gone silent, everyone watching to see what the greasy git of the dungeons would do to the Boy-Who-Lived who had just pelted him in the face with a fairly sizable snowball.
Wiping the snow from his face, Severus secretly pulled his wand from is pocket before turning to his young charge.
"Harry Potter!" The smile on Harry's face vanished only to be replaced with a look of fear. It wouldn't affect Severus however; no one does that to him and gets away with it.
"Harry Potter I am very disappointed in you. You should not have done that, and I will be forced to punish you for your utter lack of respect… to the correct procedure during a snowball fight." With that, Severus conjured up a much larger snowball, one that was easily the size of Harry's head, and promptly dropped it on the shocked boy.
Giving a squeal of surprise, Harry shook all the snow from his hair and face before glaring at the potions master.
Severus was a little worried when the glare turned into a very Slytherin-esque smirk, which was all the warning he got before Harry wandlessly lifted an even larger amount of snow and dumped it all on Severus' head before running off.
Oh two can play this game Mr. Potter, thought Severus.
"Fifty points to whoever can get Mr. Potter with the largest snowball."
"Fifty points to whoever can protect Mr. Potter from the most snowballs."
Severus turned around to see a smiling Albus. It was clear that the headmaster had been standing there for sometime.
Looking back at the grounds, the students were still too shocked to move.
"What are you waiting for? Move!"
The students got moving again.
It was war. After Severus' declaration, the students had divided into two fairly even sized groups. So far no snowballs had hit Harry, it was a pity that the same couldn't be said for Severus.
Fred and George Weasley were the main perpetrators, and Severus planned on making their lives hell for the rest of the year. For the time being however, he could forget about them as Harry was finally interacting with other students and Severus wasn't going to jeopardise that for the world.
After three hours the students were beginning to tire, and as it was getting dark, Albus decided to call all the students inside.
Albus called Harry over which, much to Albus' surprise, the boy did happily.
Harry was still nervous around Albus and was yet to forgive him for what he had done. It clearly wasn't an issue for the time being and Albus was happy to see the boy acting so… normal.
"Now Harry, it seems that not a single snowball has hit you since Severus first started the snowball fight earlier." Severus was about to argue that it was Harry who started it, but decided against it.
Albus winked at him and continued.
"I do believe that you have managed to stay snowball-free mostly due to the valiant efforts of Mr Fred and George Weasley, so I award you each fifty points."
The Gryffindors cheered while the rest of the houses groaned.
Fred walked forward and held out his hand to Harry. After some hesitation, Harry grabbed hold of Fred's hand and shook it quickly.
What neither Harry, Severus or surprisingly Albus saw (thought the latter is questionable) was George coming up behind Harry and shoving a giant snowball down his back.
Harry yelped, but it quickly turned into laughs.
The others all laughed, even Severus couldn't help but smile (though he continues to deny it).
George turned to the two professors, trying to hide the mirth in his eyes.
"I do believe, Professors, that I just got Harry with the largest snowball."
Albus chuckled. "I do believe you are correct Mr Weasley. Therefore I award you a further fifty points."
Severus tried to argue, but was unable to form any words.
"But- they- how?"
The students just laughed some more at the thought of the Head of Slytherin being out manoeuvred by two Gryffindors. They all stopped when he sent a glare at them all promising them a slow and painful death if they ever brought it up again.
The students began to wander inside for dinner. It wasn't until they were all seated that the professors realised that Harry was sitting with his fellow students at the Slytherin table.
Ok don't hate me how long it is between chapters, RL is just stupid atm
Review, pretty please :D