Summer No Holiday
Summary: Set during the summer holidays after the Tri-wizard Tournament and Voldemort's return to human form. Left with minimal contact to the magical world, Harry is depressed and miserable, riddled with nightmares. With Dumbledore's decision to begin some proper training, Harry is sent to spend the summer with Snape.
Harry choked against an abrupt sense of vertigo. He stumbled into the figure beside him, only to rebound painfully as his only anchor remained indifferent to his lack of co-ordination. His responding curse was swallowed by the sudden, relentless gust that threw his hair into his face, obscuring his vision.
Harry clutched his glasses to his face and remained on his knees until an insistent hand clamped onto his shoulder. A set of fingers curled round his wrist to firmly pull him back to his feet.
Harry shrugged away from the pressure, stumbling through a rotation of his heels and absorbing his surroundings with wide-eyes.
''Professor?'' he prodded, unsuccessfully concealing his impatience.
Snape's head jerked in his direction. He threw Harry a sharp, intolerant glance before drawing his collar up higher about his neck. With a small, irritable nod of acknowledgement, he strode on forwards, away from their apparation point, with Harry close at his heels.
Robes whipped left and right in front of him, torn in a ruthless pattern by the wind. Lifting his gaze from Snape's back, Harry glared at the greasy head of the Potions Master. He could not help but deeply resent the man's effortless grace and sense of balance, when every uneven turf and unsettled stone sent Harry to his knees.
Snape's own amusement with the increasing level of shabbiness that adorned Harry's already faded jeans, along with fresh cuts and bruises, was unmistakable, as was his unwillingness to offer assistance.
''Couldn't you have apparated us any closer?'' Harry complained, struggling to match the stride capable of Snape's fully developed limbs. Harry's recent growth spurt had left him feeling gangly and awkward. Though he was still very much short for his age, his stretched, unusually skinny legs gave the sensation of being far too tall for his body.
''Security, Potter,'' Snape replied briefly, as though the answer were simple. ''You may want to apparate directly into a house you have not stepped foot in for over a decade, but I certainly do not.''
''And of course,'' he added a moment later, glancing over his shoulder, his gaze lingering on Harry's scratched palms and bloody knees, ''one must consider a factor of entertainment.''
Harry tightened his lips, his eyes narrowing in intense dislike. Shouting himself hoarse at Snape, seething with frustration and crying over the unfairness of the world was a response he'd abandoned soon after his first year of Hogwarts. It was a form of outlet for his emotions Harry had yet to discover a replacement for.
Too many days of the summer had been spent laying around in weary confusion, as news of Voldemort failed to arrive and he was slowly alienated from his allies, one by one, for Harry to accept Snape's current unforgivable attitude with any patience. His misery and rejection had churned around inside of him, unchallenged, for too long for optimism to break the surface of his depression.
Harry did not even blame Snape. The man had always been cruel; it was to be expected. It was Dumbledore that bore the brunt of his anger. It was the older man's ridiculous, foolish request that he train with the worst teacher imaginable for the summer, in order to prepare him for his inevitable battle with Voldemort.
Neither Harry nor Snape had much of a choice in the matter.
Harry cursed loudly, without censoring his language or manner of expression. The corners of Snape's eyes creased into a brief wince, but he did not comment. Harry guessed he felt very much the same.
Their departure from Privet Drive had begun, as Harry had predicted from the moment he'd make the bold decision to allow the Dursleys to remain ignorant of Snape's visit, with a tirade of foul language.
''Boy, get down here. What have I told you about inviting your kind into this house?''
Harry winced and closed his eyes briefly, Dumbledore's letter clutched tightly in his left hand.
The pure look of loathing, emitted from Snape as Harry finally descended the stairs, was one that took even Vernon and a cowering Dudley, completely off guard.
The man looked exactly the same as ever. His hair was suffocated in grease and was lank, framing the all too familiar, severe face that could not possibly hold more distaste than at present. His black t-shirt and dark slacks were the only other indication of the extensive distance they were from Hogwarts.
It was a more obscene idea than Harry had predicted, witnessing his teacher standing so awkwardly in the doorway with his muggle relatives.
''What is it that you wanted with the boy?'' Vernon asked, an edge of caution to his voice.
Snape's lip curled unpleasantly. ''What a question,'' he drawled, casting his eyes critically over Harry's thin form. ''Nothing pleasant I can assure you.''
Harry's heart thumped uncomfortably in his chest, as he matched the disdainful expression in the all too familiar, pitiless black eyes.
''Gather your things,'' Snape instructed, eyes drifting from Harry's in order to glance more closely at the large man before him. ''We must depart immediately.''
Harry could not afford to loiter for the prolonged second that he did. Snape, with a sharp hiss, seemed to release a large amount of pent-up frustration.
''Potter, I have a schedule to keep.''
''I...'' Harry felt himself tongue-tied, the roof of his mouth unbearably dry and unresponsive to the reflex insults that he longed to throw back.
Such hesitation was dangerous in the presence of this man, and Harry felt himself cut down before he could move an inch.
''Today...'' Snape sneered, drawing out the word with exact precision, demanding respect and authority from his helplessly disobedient student. ''Time is not something that I have the luxury of now you've imposed yourself onto my summer."
Harry's face contorted into a defiant frown. ''I didn't-''
"Save it," Snape cut him off almost lazily, his hand sweeping through the air with impatience. "If you are not back down here in thirty seconds, I shall leave without you, and let the headmaster know that your utter incompetence kept you from an education. A predictable conclusion, I am aware, though professor Dumbledore, as naïve as he remains, shall be far more disappointed with your inevitable failure, than I. I suggest, therefore, that you exert some effort, Mr. Potter, into movement. Now.''
Harry stared at the unwelcome form of his Potions Master, and hated him more than ever for insulting him at a time like this, in front of his relatives and when he was obviously so unhappy. It wasn't as though Harry had expected a warm greeting, but for some reason Snape's cold, indifferent attitude, when he was already feeling so utterly terrible, cut deeper than he'd been prepared for.
Before Harry could retort, Snape had raised an eyebrow, his lips tightening into a thin line. Harry knew better than to keep him waiting. He cast his uncle a wary glance and padded the familiar path back to his bedroom, breathing deeply.
Harry pointedly ignored his own reflection as he sorted through his few belongings. Dark, heavily bagged eyes, an unhealthy complexion, unwashed hair and hollow cheeks would have been a cause for concern if Snape had been any other member of the Order.
To his mentor-to-be however, his physical and mental deterioration would merely serve as a perverse entertainment.
Regardless, Harry would have felt much more confident stepping into the next phase of the summer with a little more health on his side. He should not have allowed his mind to be plagued by images of Cedric's lifeless body, and horrific graveyard scenes, as much as he had.
Not trusting his nephew's temper in the slightest, and reading correctly the warning signals from the stranger in the doorway, Vernon allowed Snape inside, shutting the door behind him with a sharp snap.
Very reluctantly, Snape crossed the threshold, his eyes lingering distastefully on countless photos of a large, fat child covering the walls within the hallway. He did not need a great amount of insight to determine that this boy was not Harry.
Despite himself, Vernon's eyes were fixed on Snape, a curious expression adorning his flabby features.
"What is it, muggle?" Snape snapped finally, his attempt to ignore the unwanted attention failing fast.
"You may be a...'' Vernon begun hesitantly, a wide-eyed Dudley peering over his shoulder.
''A wizard,'' Snape supplied impatiently.
Vernon winced sharply. ''Hm... But you seem to have some sense about the boy. Nasty little wretch.'' He cast such a hateful glance in the direction in which Harry had disappeared, that Snape raised an eyebrow, following Vernon's gaze with reluctant curiosity, and mild surprise.
''You do not welcome the boy?'' he asked tonelessly.
Dudley made a whimpering sound from behind his father, but grew silent once more as Snape sent him a scathing glance, his eyes raking over his massive stomach with distaste.
''Welcome him?'' Vernon snorted, eyes narrowing. ''I never had any say in the matter. My wife and I have always had a clear picture of the boy. I'm so glad that you agree… Other… frea...wiz...members of your... cult,'' he paused, anxiously surveying Snape's reaction, but the man merely appeared bored. ''...They have been in this house… God forbid, and they've all treated the boy like he was half-way decent, but we know better. We have experience of his nasty little habits-"
''You know! Waving that stick around... Frightening our Dudders. Half the neighbourhood thinks he's insane!''
''And you intend to take him for the entire summer, you say? He won't be back until next year?'' Vernon asked, unrestrained hope flushing a pink tinge of excitement across his large face.
Snape nodded shortly. "Rest assured, Mr...''
''Of course. Mr. Potter will receive no pampering or hero-worshipping from me. He may think incredibly highly of himself but he is as mediocre and arrogant as his father was."
"Right you are. And just so you know...'' Vernon leaned in closer. ''You have our… encouragement, permission…whatever.. to use any means you wish on the boy, however extreme…"
The cruel glint in his eye left Snape with no question as to what he meant.
He eyed the larger man calculatingly. Admittedly, he was not what he'd expected from Harry Potter's relatives. He'd heard they were unpleasant people and that the boy disliked them, but his sympathy had always been with the muggles.
What was clearly being depicted, was not a effortless existence of pampering and endless indulgence, as Snape had assumed fitting for a child he considered so self-satisfied. In fact, it appeared to be the opposite. Harry's role in the composed, clinically tidy muggle home seemed disturbingly unclear. Snape was not blind enough to ignore the blatant fact that, despite his previous accusations, Harry had suffered greatly for the absence of his true parents.
Before he could fathom a response, Harry had appeared at the top of the stairs, dragging his trunk and Hedwig behind him, his obvious depression heightening Snape's own.
Looking between two of his most hated people in the world, Harry despaired at his misfortune.
"Come on, Potter,'' Snape beckoned impatiently, attempting rapidly to ignore the faded lettering on the cupboard under the stairs, where the word 'Freak' had been scrawled in permanent marker.
Harry did not need to follow Snape's gaze to understand the minutely horrified expression that dominated his teacher's features. When the man's eyes swept up and met his own, morbid curiosity creasing his forehead, Harry blinked and turned away.
''Look here, mister, I must insist-''
''Quiet,'' Snape hissed, cold eyes rooting a nervously babbling Vernon to the spot. He curled a finger in Harry's direction, urging him closer. His wand slipped into his opposite palm, and with a moment's hesitation, was raised in line with his elbow. ''Potter, spare us the dramatics. Come here.''
Vernon, his feelings towards the strange man abruptly converted to its former on the sight of potential magic, ushered him out also.
"You heard him, boy. Out! And I don't care what happens in the next few weeks, you're not to come back here, you hear? Not for anything. I don't want to see you darkening our doorstep again this summer."
Harry found himself out on said doorstep moments later. Snape marched purposefully up the garden path, following the curve of the pavement out of sight before Harry could even grasp at the situation. He blinked and hurried awkwardly after him.
Snape's scowl deepened with each pace, as his fate was further sealed. He glanced around as they walked with sharp, narrow eyes, uncomfortable in the humid evening air of the muggle street.
He ignored Harry to the best of his abilities and took in, without emotion, the street in which 'The Boy Who Lived' had spent the better part of eleven years.
Harry took a moment to appreciate how odd it looked with Snape gliding along the streets of Little Whinging. There was no question that he didn't belong. The mixing of his two worlds, in this way, was not something he could have envisioned using imagination alone. If there was ever anything that could have made his muggle world more unbearable, it was Snape's presence.
With a deep breath, Harry gathered the courage to do what he'd been anticipating all summer.
''Sir...'' he began, urgency clear in his voice. He paused here, waiting for the man's attention as they fell into step.
Snape inclined his head an inch in Harry's direction, raising an eyebrow.
Harry swallowed back his nerves, more than aware of the lack of sympathy with which his concerns would be met. ''What's happening? Where's Voldemort? Why's nobody allowed to tell me anything?''
Snape strode on silently, the tightening of his jaw the only reaction Harry received to his frantic questions.
''What?'' Harry cried, resisting the urge to fling his arms in the air and cry out at yet further disappointment. ''You as well? What are you all hiding? Voldemort's back, I know he is. I saw him. Everyone's just pretending that he never-''
''Keep your voice down, Mr. Potter,'' Snape snapped. He swirled round to fix Harry with a trademark glare, effectively silencing the boy.
Harry stared back defiantly. He couldn't help but recoil slightly at the clear hatred displayed in Snape's eyes. How could he have forgotten, in such a short amount of time, just how much pure venom that could be projected from the man by a mere glance?
''I cannot answer a single one of your questions, at present, so I suggest that you desist-'' Snape warned, but Harry was having none of it. He'd waited too long for answers.
''But why?'' he interrupted recklessly, knowing as instantly as he did that he would not benefit from it. Snape was not a man to be persuaded, least of all by him. However, that was not reason enough, it seemed, to stop his mouth from projecting his intense, almost painful craving for knowledge. ''Why? Why? Why, Snape?''
''The depth of your own self-pitying never ceases to astound me, Potter,'' Snape sneered in disdain. ''What in Melin's name do you think you are asking?''
He tore his eyes from Harry's to glance at the number of houses stretched on either side of them, their windows thrown open as far as they would go in the stifling heat. He could not detect any eavesdroppers, but the sight of the dust on the cars and the abandoned hoses made him aware, once more, of his own personal discomfort.
He pulled fractionally at the confines of his collar, before lowering his voice to the boy. ''Not centre of attention for once in your life? I can see how this would upset you, as predictable as you are, but surely even you, Potter, can understand the importance of the current situation-''
''I know!'' Harry seethed. ''But nobody's told me anything. Not even Ron or Hermione.''
He tried to convey, through his expression, the desperation he was feeling, but Snape remained cruelly impassive and apparently immune to the pain that Harry knew was etched into every syllable of his speech. Uncontrollable emotions were a fatal show of weakness and ineptitude where Snape was concerned, which would inevitably further throw up the man's defences, until he was guarding such vital knowledge indefinitely.
''I thought Dumbledore... I just...'' Harry shrugged helplessly, suddenly feeling extremely lost. ''But you're here now.''
''Indeed I am,'' Snape replied dryly, ''and what a displeasure it is.''
Tense silence settled between them. Harry stared stonily at the ground while Snape pointedly averted his eyes in a similar fashion. Finally, with a weary shake of his head, Harry was forced to accept that he'd been a hopeful fool to expect Snape to co-operate with him to any degree.
''So, you're not going to tell me anything at all?'' A fresh wave of disappointment threatened to overwhelm him as he glared accusingly at his teacher.
Once again his questions were met only with a conclusive silence. The only sound to disturb it was the renewal of their hurried footsteps on the pavement. Harry sighed deeply and kicked a stone, frustrated beyond belief.
He found an odd sense of satisfaction in releasing his aggravation on the tiny pieces of upturned cobble. It wasn't until he put a little too much force behind one of his kicks, and a stone came into contact with Snape's heel, that he realised he may have got carried away.
Snape stopped so abruptly that Harry almost collided with him. He looked up and gulped slightly at the expression on the man's face. It was a look of deep, insufferable pain.
''Potter,'' Snape uttered quietly, pinching the bridge of his nose, ''spare me your childish antics. You are going to have to start behaving in a mature fashion or I shall...'' He sighed deeply, as though for a loss of an adequate description of his exasperation.
His sudden weariness surprised Harry. He searched Snape's face a little more closely. The man looked tired. Really tired. And much paler than normal. But then again he'd probably been working for the Order, actually doing something constructive while he was not, and on realising this, Harry's empathy was limited.
''...or I shall go mad,'' Snape finished, looking in all seriousness like he meant it. ''I know that acting your age may be alien concept to you, but I will not compete with your theatrics for the entire of the summer.''
Harry squared his shoulders. He blew his fringe from his eyes to stare the man in the face. ''I have a right to know.''
''God damn it, Potter,'' Snape growled, anger once again dominating the temporary weariness that had clouded his eyes. ''Has anybody yet put that to question?''
Snape looked reluctant, but equally as determined to make his point clear. He opened his mouth to speak but seemed to think twice, and sighed deeply before closing it again. Two small boys on dusty worn bikes were staring at them with open mouths, from across the street.
Snape eyed them shrewdly for a moment, clearly intimidating, before shooting a meaningful glance at his student and moving on.
Harry was close at his heels as Snape moved their conversation to the privacy of a nearby abandoned car park.
''You may have every reason to be... well-informed,'' he continued immediately, with impatience, ''and yet you are not. Does that not conclude any specifics?''
Harry thrust his hands deep into his pockets and frowned miserably in incomprehension. ''What are you talking about-''
''Did you honestly not think that the headmaster may have every reason for keeping you in the dark?'' Snape looked almost disbelieving as he posed this question, an eyebrow raised.
Harry's silence was enough to give him his answer.
''No, of course you didn't,'' he snarled, and despite himself, Harry felt a moment of shame. He'd been so caught up in his anger and resentment, that he'd somewhat deserted his trust in Dumbledore.
''I did not say that I would not tell you anything,'' Snape pressed on, refusing to move another inch until the boy had got over, what was in his opinion, nothing but a spoilt tantrum.
Harry knew that tone. He was in for a lecture. He winced as Snape's voice adopted a quiet, silky edge that was far more dangerous.
''You need to start listening to me very carefully. I will not tolerate this pathetic plea for attention any longer, Potter. Your time of unjust glory is coming to an abrupt end.''
Snape shook his head in disapproval and allowed his eyes, for the first time, to linger over his student more closely, taking in the pale sunken cheeks, the tired eyes, the thin frame and bring meaning to them.
The boy had suffered, just as Snape had expected. Much more so than the headmaster had warned him. He was in for a greater challenge than he could have comprehended, when faced with a child in this state. Utter despair, misery, boredom, resentment... It was not a fit mix, especially with the strenuous training programme headed the boy's way.
''There is nothing essential that you need to know... at the present time,'' Snape continued, as though there had been no significant pause in his speech, his voice adopting a streak of calm and control, as he forced some detachment on himself. ''So, I suggest, as some long overdue advice, Potter, that you calm down. You are not, as many may believe, attached to the headmaster's hipbone. What he chooses to confide in you or, in this case, not... is hardly my concern.''
Snape struck a warning glance as Harry's fists tightened at his sides.
Slowly flattening his palms, Harry closed his eyes with a deep breath, feeling his misery intensify.
''If you attempt for a moment to act your age, Potter,'' Snape called as Harry began to march off, his trunk wobbling unsteadily behind him, ''and demonstrate, for once, some maturity, I may choose to put you out of your misery and explain to you in terms that your simple mind may understand, why exactly you have been presented with less knowledge than the rest of us with regard to the Dark Lord.''
Harry turned back, trying to hide his obvious surprise and crossed his arms. ''Go on then.''
''Not here, you imbecile!'' Snape snapped, striding once again past Harry and giving him a cold look. ''Exercise some control and when we arrive at the Manor, I shall tell you everything you need to know.''
''Arrive where?'' Harry questioned, eyebrows raised in disbelief and confusion.
Predictably, Snape chose not ro respond, a satisfied smirk on his face as Harry spluttered ineffectively.
He was given little time to contemplate Snape's exact meaning, as the man was demonstrating, all too clearly, his impatience to leave the muggle world.
Snape seriously doubted this little arrangement of Dumbledore's would last long; his hopes for the supposed 'Chosen One' were certainly not high. The boy obviously had no idea what he was in for.
He gave his wand a minuscule twitch from where it rested, hidden along the lining his sleeve. Harry stumbled forwards and was forced to grab onto a street lamp to regain his balance, nearly twisting his ankle in his attempt to stay on his feet. He pushed roughly away from it as he steadied himself, and scowled at Snape, but took the message and got a move on.
Snape waited until Harry had caught up, barely containing his impatience, before leading the way to a secluded corner and checking discreetly to ensure they were well hidden. They could just make out the deserted playground, with its broken swings and graffiti.
Snape took in the dismal setting, wondering momentarily, just how long the boy had spent loitering about here in his summer with nothing to do but twiddle his thumbs and dwell on the horrific events of the previous year.
''Just about sums this place up...'' Harry muttered, following Snape's gaze out towards the playground.
He was glad that he'd not be setting eyes on this place, or his family, for another year. It was about the only good thing about this whole raw deal. He opened his mouth to continue, a sudden desire to rant and release some of his pent-up emotion, but he was silenced almost immediately.
''Do I look like I care, Potter?'' Snape responded absently. His dark eyes were trained for any sounds or movement. When he was satisfied they were alone, he glanced down at his burden with an extremely distasteful expression, and stiffly held out his arm.
Harry grimaced, the thought of touching Snape, however briefly, making him physically nauseous. With much reluctance, he held on tighter to his belongings and obeyed the silent command.
Gripping Snape's forearm, as lightly as he could while still ensuring contact, Harry screwed his eyes shut and immediately felt the disorienting, unpleasant effects of side-along apparation.