Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fictionusing characters from theHarry Potter world. No, I don't own Harry Potter or any other characters, surprising though that may be. JK Rowling owns the characters – I'm simply expanding on what she provides.
Summary: Harry is given a diary by Dumbledore and when he writes in it he receives an unexpected response. His correspondent learns of Harry's less than suitable living conditions and an unlikely bond is formed. Abused!Harry, DrugAddict!Harry.
Warnings: Swearing, drug abuse, reference to child abuse, slight reference to sexual abuse/rape in later chapters.
A/N: Well, that was kind of a long hiatus. I'm going through and re-uploading all the chapters to fix any errors. You'll have to bear with me – I'm about half way through them right now. This new chapter is a little information heavy, sorry about that!
…Harry jumped backwards at the sharp command, the ground dragon scales falling from his fingertips.
Severus had never added ground dragon scales at the end very end of brewing a sleep inducer. And he didn't have time to think about the potential consequences – adding an ingredient at the end might change the way the existing ingredients bind together, which could cause anything to happen. More often than not it would cause ingredients to react undesirably, and the potion would explode.
Time seemed to slow down as the potions master watched the shimmering powder hit the bubbling, crimson liquid. He lifted his arms to protect his face from any fluid that might be spat from the cauldron. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the Gryffindor cowering slightly, also covering his face with his forearms.
The potion turned from deep red through orange and then to golden yellow. Aside from that, nothing happened. Nothing. For a moment, Severus didn't know whether to be relieved or disappointed. He let out the breath he had unconsciously been holding and flicked his wand over the potion to check that it would not undergo any further changes. Satisfied, he stepped closer for a better look.
Harry was frozen in fear. Had he fucked it up? He'd though the dragon scales would do the trick, but judging by the Slytherin's reaction, he clearly disagreed. Yet nothing had happened, aside from the colour change. He mimicked his professor's movements and stepped closer to the cauldron to peer into the liquid, surprised at the deep yellow it had become.
"What happened? Do you think it's okay?" He enquired.
"I'm not entirely sure just yet." Was the quiet reply, tinged with curiosity. The older wizard was silent then, watching the potion bubbling lightly over the flickering flame. He waved his hand to shut off the flame without saying a word.
"Shall I dispose of it, sir?" Harry was nervous, unsure as it whether he was in trouble or not.
"No. But you have just earned yourself some extra homework. Decant it into vials and we'll discuss it once you are finished."
Harry nodded and gulped hard.
"So what you're saying is… I may have created a new potion, or I may have created a poison, or I may have created something totally useless, and you want me to find out what, exactly, it is and what it may be useful for, if anything?"
"Correct, Mr. Potter."
"Can I just take some of it and see what happens?"
Snape stared at the boy incredulously for a few seconds, unsure whether he was joking or not.
"Absolutely not! Do you have no sense of self-preservation? It could be poison, for all you know! Bloody reckless Gryffindor."
He waived his hand lightly and two fairly thin books from the back of the room settled gently onto the table between them. Once Harry had finished decanting the potion and cleaning up, they had adjourned to the library. The Gryffindor was comfortably curled up in one armchair, while Snape sat on the opposite sofa, sipping tea. The older man was curiously quiet, which made Harry uncomfortable. The days when his uncle didn't yell at him always turned out to be the worst ones.
"These books may help you. The first is the theory behind sleep potions – there is a chapter on basic sleep inducers, including the particular one you were originally brewing. The second is about using dragon components in potions and how they react with other ingredients, depending on how they are prepared and when they are added."
"This sounds like a lot of work, and I'm not even very good at potions to begin with, sir. I'm not sure I can do this."
Harry wasn't a potions master. He wasn't even a very good potions student. In fact, he was a fairly atrocious potions student. How was he going to figure out what the heck he'd done? This seemed like a semester-long research project, not a week or so of light reading during summer vacation!
"I don't expect you to spend weeks on it." Severus intoned, as if he'd read the boy's mind. "Read these books, and I can talk you through it tomorrow afternoon."
"Yes sir." Harry picked up the first book – thankfully it wasn't huge – and began to idly scan the contents. He wasn't feeling very hopeful about his ability to figure this one out.
The end product of Harry's potion (prior to the dragon scales) had been crimson instead of burnt orange. He figured out, correctly, that this was because, after adding the valerian, he had not stirred the potion clockwise enough before adding the newt eyes. This meant that the properties of the valerian had not been activated to their full extent and so the potion would not be potent enough.
He also had thought, incorrectly, that the dragon scales would strengthen the properties of the valerian enough to counter this mistake. So, prior to the dragon scales, he had a weakened version of the sleep inducer, which might make a person sleep for three hours instead of six. Or maybe he had a sleep inducer that would cause drowsiness, but not necessarily sleep. Either way, it was still a sleep inducer, just not as it should be.
The basic sleep inducer potion contains three active ingredients: salamander blood, valerian and fairy wings. The rest of the potion's ingredients serve binding and triggering purposes for the other ingredients, but do not actually cause the potion to do anything specific. The valerian is the main sleep inducer, salamander blood is supposed to react with the fairy wings to ensure that the sleep inducer does not simply knock the person out, but also allows the person to be replenished and rested when they wake up.
Dragon scales usually strengthen the potency of an ingredient. So, the person should wake feel more replenished than they would from a regular sleep inducer. Or, maybe they will wake sooner than usual and feel as replenished as if they had the full sleep time. Perhaps a 'power nap' potion. Or, it could strengthen the valerian component instead of the fairy wings and salamander blood, which would result in the person being so asleep that they may, in fact, not wake up for twice as long. Or, they may not wake at all – their organs effectively going to sleep as well. It could be a 'gentle death' potion.
It also, however, depends on the time at which the ingredient is added. Because the salamander blood is the first active ingredient to be added, it would be the least affected by the dragon scales, in theory, and the fairy wings, added last of the three, would be the most affected. In some potions, dragon ingredients, when crushed, are used to neutralise the effects of fairy ingredients (to turn the fairy parts into inactive ingredients), however, because kneazle hair is added immediately after the fairy wings, prior to the dragon scales, the neutralising may not have occurred.
Harry's head was swimming. He'd spent much of the night reading books and jotting notes down on parchment – ideas, thoughts, questions, and queries. He couldn't believe how interesting he was finding potions! Ron would kill him!
It was mid-afternoon and he'd been in the library since just after lunch, doing some more potions research. He knew his professor would be there shortly to discuss what he'd found out. And, for some reason, Harry was looking forward to it! He really felt like he'd done okay with his research, even though he wasn't entirely sure that he'd found the right answer.
Severus fought a smile as he entered the library – he couldn't have the boy passing out at his stoic professor's expression. The Gryffindor actually looked like he was engrossed in his research, rather than procrastinating like he usually did. His quill scratched quickly over the parchment, jotting down notes from the book he was hunched over.
"How is it going, Mr. Potter?" The Slytherin broke the silence.
Harry nearly fell out of his chair in surprise – he'd been so focused on his work he hadn't even heard the older wizard enter the room.
"Getting there, I think."
Severus sat in the chair opposite, as usual, and waited for the young wizard to begin.
"I think that it will cause the person to feel drained, or weak, maybe. And, I believe, it will also promote telling the truth when asked a question. So, effectively, it's like a low level veritaserum, but works in a different way."
"And why do you think this is?"
"Dragon scales, when ground, don't just neutralise a fairy ingredient like they do when they're crushed, they cause the ingredient to have opposite effect that it usually would. The dragon scales change the fairy wings, so that, rather than feeling replenished and well rested, the taker would feel drained and exhausted. Also, the kneazle hair was added immediately prior to the dragon scales. In a regular sleep inducer, the kneazle hair would be an inactive ingredient, but the dragon scales turn it into an active ingredient, which promotes truthfulness. But I'm not sure if the valerian still works or not, professor?"
"The valerian would then become inactive, because kneazle hair is a stronger ingredient and takes priority – most potions only have three active ingredients. Once you start adding more they compete with one another and their effectiveness is limited. The salamander blood stays as an active ingredient but instead of working on the fairy wings to strengthen their ability to provide replenishing powers like in the original potion, they work to strengthen that drained feeling coming from the dragon scales acting on the fairy wings. The taker may, indeed, feel exhausted and weak and may be encouraged to speak the truth."
"Oh okay. So the valerian is now inactive. Could I make the same potion if I left out valerian altogether?"
"No, Mr. Potter, because the valerian stabilises the ingredients in the beginning, it only becomes inactive once you add the dragon scales. Do you know how the effects of your potion would differ from veritaserum?"
"I think that veritaserum causes the mind to speed up to such an extent that the taker cannot control their answers. It promotes truthfulness, maybe by using kneazle hair as well? So even if the taker did want to lie, the two main effects of the potion make it impossible."
"That is mostly correct. Would the taker be able to lie through your potion?"
"To some extent, I guess? Because the only reason this potion might work is because the taker will be too drained and weak to think quickly enough to focus on lying."
"Also correct – if the lies were practiced, then the taker could bend the truth fairly fluently. But their ability to lie would diminish throughout the questioning because they would become even more drained due to the exertion of fighting the kneazle components."
Harry had done well. Very well, in fact. He clearly had at least some understanding of what the different ingredients seek to achieve, how they interact differently depending on the way they are prepared and why adding them in a different order changes the properties of the potion.
"Do you think this potion already exists, Mr. Potter?"
"I think it has probably been made before, but is not a named and listed potion because it's not all that useful. In a nutshell, veritaserum does a better job."
"Can you think of any benefits of this potion over veritaserum?"
"Umm.. not really? I think it's pretty useless, all in all."
"Veritaserum has strong side effects at the time you take it. You know almost immediately if someone has slipped it into your drink. It makes the world around you feel as though it's moving in triple time, or faster. You could dose someone with the potion you are describing and, despite feeling drained and weak, they wouldn't know they were being encouraged to tell the truth. It is also unlikely to show up on any simple medical scans – it would read very similarly to a sleep inducer, which is not a particularly unusual thing for a wizard to be taking. Furthermore, it will act for about six hours, while veritaserum wears off in about an hour."
Harry smirked a little at that – he could think of plenty of people he'd quite like to get truthful answers from without them even knowing they'd be dosed with a truth enhancing potion.
"How well do you think it'd work, sir?"
"I do not know, Mr. Potter. Do you think it would cause any negative effects, aside from exhaustion?"
"I do not think so?"
"How certain are you that this is, indeed, what your potion will do?"
"Fairly certain, I think? From what I read, I couldn't find any other likely effects, professor."
At that, the dark eyed Slytherin handed the vial back to the young Gryffindor.
"Try it, then."