Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction using characters from the Harry Potter world. No, I do not own Harry Potter or any of the 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, reference to sexual abuse/rape.
Things were escalating quickly. The potion hadn't worked. Neither had the next one that Snape had offered to him. Harry was still wandering around in a semi-conscious state. He was a danger to himself and his classmates, really.
The first potion, which was a deep blue with flecks of silver, had done little more than a headache reliever but had more negative side effects. Although it didn't make him drowsy, it did tend to heighten his detached, foggy feeling and he knew he couldn't afford to be even less in touch with reality than he already was.
The second attempt, which was a dirty brown colour and tasted about as good as it looked, had given him a mild stomach ache for twelve hours and had no noticeable effect on his scar.
He could tell that the potions master was becoming frustrated.
Harry was beginning to think the pain was going to make him insane, like the Longbottoms.
He was barely going to classes, now. What was the point? He was too tired and confused by the constant ponding in his head to be able to keep up with his classmates, anyway. He never knew that such consistent pain could become so torturous. He had dealt with agony before. He was no stranger to discomfort. But not for so long. Not such relentless throbbing and pounding and aching.
It kept him awake at night. It made him stomach turn at the though of food. It made the blood in his head roar so loudly he could hardly head his friends when they were speaking directly to him.
The Gryffindor Golden Boy could no longer transfigure a stone to a marble and could barely summon a feather. Snape had all but kicked him out of potions for being a useless fucking mess.
Each time he failed a simple task, his fear grew and he could feel his sanity slipping away with his magic. It was only a matter of time before Voldemort decided he was weak enough to attack. The bastard was taking away his magic, the only thing he had to live for, and there was nothing he could do to stop it.
The worst part was that he knew his magic wasn't actually gone. He was just too fucked in the head from the torture of his searing, burning, agonising scar to use it properly. He was too fucking weak to fight it anymore.
He had taken to wandering the corridors instead of attending classes. Dumbledore seemed to be taking pity on him, or something, for the professors barely seemed to care. Or maybe they did and Harry was too far removed from reality to notice. His life was a haze of pain and exhaustion.
"Tempus", Harry murmured, watching as the time flashed briefly before him. Damn. It was already late. He was not surprised though. His warming charm had barely worked the first time and now was failing quickly. His breath puffed in a small cloud before him, dissipating slowly into the dim light cast by the flickering lantern.
He knew it was getting late. The cold was creeping in and making his teeth chatter and his fingers tremble.
He stood from the dusty chair and ran his fingers lightly over the book he'd been studying. He only been here for half an hour or so, it wasn't long enough to really understand any detail of what he was reading, especially as it was written in such odd prose. Parseltongue was a spoken language, rarely written. Snakes weren't exactly writers, after all.
He needed more time.
He felt like this book was important. It must be important. Why would anyone have bothered writing it in a language so secretive it was possible that no other human in the world at the time could read it?
He paused for a long moment before making his decision. He slipped the aged tome into his bag and turned to leave. His wand cast enough light before him to find his way out into the dungeon corridor and he cancelled the spell on the lantern in the room as he left.
He was strangely intrigued by this mysterious study. It was the second time he'd come here in the last week, despite Snape's warnings about venturing too deep into the castle. Unfortunately, it was still difficult and slow to find his way here, which left him precious little time to solve the mystery.
He needed more time.
He felt odd taking the book from the strange room in the dungeons. He felt like it belonged there and it wasn't his to take. If he took the book, then he could read it any time. But it was a risk that someone might find it. Someone else might uncover the secret. But he was never going to do it with ten minutes here and half an hour there. Besides, if anyone found it, they couldn't read it anyway.
Harry threw his invisibility cloak over him, as much for warmth as for safety, and headed back towards the warmer parts of the castle. He was getting better at finding his way around now, though it was still slow going.
The dungeons were dark at all times of the day and night. Sometimes, Harry felt like the castle took him down different hallways and through different doors just to confuse him. Maybe she did. Today, he felt like she was helping him, warming him, pushing him in the right direction.
The more Harry wandered, the more he felt in tune with the castle and her innate magic.
Harry paused in front of the entrance to the potions master's quarters, having reached his destination. He drew together his Gryffindor courage and whispered the password under his breath, slipping silently into the snake's lair.
The young, dark-haired wizard hadn't entered the personal quarters of his dour professor since he'd been thrown bodily against a wall in the potions classroom.
He was still incredibly jumpy and fearful around the man, despite his best efforts to quell his fears. He knew, really, that the former death eater would not intentionally harm him. But his instincts now flared protectively in Snape's presence and kept him constantly on edge.
The man's dark eyes glanced upwards to meet green before returning to the book in his hands. He motioned absently towards a vacant armchair and spoke without raising his eyes again.
Harry slowly closed the distance between them and sat tensely on the offered seat. The older wizard was emitting a strong air of calm nonchalance, seemingly engrossed in his study.
The boy took the opportunity to study his mentor for a moment. Flames danced in the hearth and threw strange shadows across the sharp, serious features of the professor. His dark hair hung like a cloak around his face past his jaw, shielding much of his stoic countenance from view.
His elegant, potion-stained fingers deftly turned a page and then shifted to wrap around the heavy tumbler of fire whiskey to his left. Harry watched the shrouded lids flicker as the dark eyes danced across the page in a rhythmic staccato.
In this time, with Severus feigning disinterest, the nervous boy began to relax. He leant back lightly against the back of the comfortable chair and let his eyes drift to the mesmerizing dance of the fire for a few long moments, lost in the endless fight between light and dark as the flames licked across the logs like a hungry kitten.
Unfortunately, Tom sent a sharp bolt of pain at that moment, bringing him reeling back to reality. He hissed through clenched teeth, barely resisting bringing his hands to his head in an attempt to stem the burning in his scar. He closed his eyes tightly and withdrew inwards, biting his lower lip harshly to silence himself.
Severus caught the sudden hiss and let his dark gaze rove over the younger wizard. The boy was clearly exhausted. The blue-black shadows under his too-bright eyes were painfully stark against his pale skin. He had lost weight in the last few weeks, too, Severus could tell. And, Merlin forbid, the boy was already far too thin from his eventful summer.
The other professors and, of course, students, had started to whisper and ask questions about the Golden Boy over the past week or two. The Headmaster had been smoothing things over with the professors as best he could, but his ability to stop them looking into it was tenuous at most.
It was no secret amongst them that the Dark Lord was causing the worrying change in the boy, though there was much mystery and speculation regarding exactly what was going on.
"Try to reinforce your shields, Harry. You need to keep him out."
Those haunted green eyes looked up, then. For a long moment they held blank nothingness, demonstrating to Severus that his shields were, in fact, watertight. Seconds crawled by and the child bit down harder on his lip, a trickle of blood inching slowly down his chin. All the while, he maintained eye contact with his professor. The intensity of his unreadable, emotionless gaze was unnerving.
When he spoke through clenched teeth, his voice was barely louder than a whisper. But it was as cold and hard as steel. Severus was taken aback by the intensity.
"My shields are up, sir. It keeps Him out of my thoughts, but it doesn't block the pain. Nothing does."
Then, without warning and in an alarmingly desperate display of trust, Harry pushed his emotions towards the Slytherin. Without uttering a word, the teenager created a pseudo-legilimency type link between their locked eyes and allowed his feelings to extend forward, linking their minds for a timeless period.
It could have been seconds, or minutes, or maybe only an instant, Severus was unsure. But he greedily drank in the burden of Harry's pain, desperate to assist the boy and bring him back to some sense of normalcy.
In truth, he was ill prepared for the onslaught of emotions. He barely dealt with his own at the best of times, let alone those of an unstable teenager.
The pain was all consuming. It filled his mind and beat against his skull in an agonising pulse that made his vision blur and his breath catch in his throat. To be fair, he was receiving it at its height, without warning, instead of the steady rise and fall of pain that Harry had become accustomed to.
Beyond the pain, the next strongest thing Severus felt was the boy's fear and confusion at how this torture was slowly destroying him. The child was terrified. Not of normal things that a teenager should fear, but of being unable to fulfill his destiny. Being unable to bring peace to the wizarding world. Overwhelming fear of allowing the Dark Lord to win because the pain made it impossible for him to focus and learn and fight.
Severus quickly moved on, pushing that fear away as he felt it bubble up in his throat, strangled by the intensity for a moment. He wasn't sure how long Harry would share this before closing off again. He needed as much information as he could get.
Resignation and relief were fighting for the next position. Harry was completely resigned to fighting the Dark Lord and potentially dying in the process. Snape already knew that part of it. However, the relief was unexpected. He reached forward gently to probe a little deeper but the link was abruptly slammed shut as suddenly as it was opened.
An intense headache filled Severus' conscience and he absently noted, again, the withdrawn, closed off look in the boy's emerald eyes.
Relief? Why relief?
He narrowed his dark gaze and studied the Gryffindor, using occlumency to push his headache to the back of his conscience. If Harry could handle that constant pain, Severus could handle a bit of a headache himself.
He focused on the feelings the boy had shown him, dissecting them in his mind in silence. Trying to make sense of them. There was a strange tone of finality to the emotions.
Relief. Why relief? The boy was in constant pain and fear. Why relief? Was it relief at that moment of sharing his burden. No, that didn't seem right. Something else.
Then it struck Severus. The finality. The relief. That must be relief that it would be over soon. The child knew he couldn't do this for much longer. He knew he was getting weaker by the day. The end was coming and, live or die, Harry knew it would bring him relief either way.
Again, Severus strengthened his occlumency shields. Far be it for him to show his emotions when Harry was doing an expert job of hiding his ninety-nine percent of the time. Pity would only cause the boy to flee.
Severus closed his book with a muted thump and set it on the low table between them. He then smoothly withdrew a slim vial from his pocket. He placed that on the table alongside the book.
"Thank you, Harry. For showing me."
Harry skimmed the cover of the book. It was a potions research text that Harry knew was not for him. He reached over and picked up the vial gingerly. He didn't know how many experimental potions he was willing to take.
The pain in his scar was slowly decreasing again. Tom must be growing bored for tonight.
The potion was an inky green, almost black. It was far more fluid that the last two, almost thinner in consistency than water. The vial was less than a quarter full. He sighed and spoke quietly without shifting his gaze.
"How is this one supposed to work, professor?"
"This one is probably bordering on illegal. Many of the ingredients are restricted due to addictive properties. It's a modified nerve suppressant, usually administered to cruciatus curse victims. I also used some magic from my mark to target your link with the Dark Lord."
Harry eyed the potion warily and placed it back on the table. His fingers trembled lightly.
"Sorry, sir, I'm not sure I want to take that."
Severus leaned back into his chair and took a sip from his fire whiskey.
"I will not force you to consume it, of course. There is inherent risk with consuming untested potions. However, I made something similar when the Dark Lord was torturing me through my mark, and it did assist in dampening the pain."
"May I have some fire whiskey, sir?"
"That would be in breech of school rules, Mr. Potter."
Harry smirked and raised an eyebrow in an unnerving imitation of his professor.
"And feeding me addictive experimental potions with dark magic is not?"
Severus inclined his head slightly, a smirk tugging at his own lips. The boy was right, of course.
"Are you intending to take the potion, Harry?"
"I haven't decided yet."
"It would not be a good idea to mix alcohol with this potion."
Harry stared at the vial for a long time, visibly weighing up his options. Then, without speaking, he reached into his bag and withdrew the thick, dusty tome that he'd taken from the dungeon study. He placed it very carefully on the table, though he knew his professor wouldn't be able to read the snake language, and looked up. Emerald met intense black.
"Before I take it, perhaps you can help me with something."