A/N: Here's the next chapter in the TLBL series, I hope you enjoy it.

Disclaimer: Plot mine. Characters... y- no... sadly...

Chapter 1

If one were to look at the manor house that was situated by the lake, the first thing that would come to mind would be that it was huge. To be exact, its grounds included three quarters of the lakeside while the manor itself was the size of two football fields and was three storeys high not including the basement, dungeon and attic. The entire building had been in that land for as long as the Muggle inhabitants of the village could remember. The people who lived in this manor house were quite recluse; rarely were they seen roaming around the village square mingling with the others. Stories of who were actually living in there were far and wide though none of them have yet to be proven. The only outward sign that someone was still living in the house was a little boy who could always be seen peeking out of a window on the third floor of the manor, looking all too lost and lonely. Occasionally the same boy could be seen wandering the grounds of the manor; though he had never stayed long for even before he could reach the banks of the lake, he would immediately dash back to manor, looking terrified as if he was about to receive a sound beating.

It was uncanny how close these Muggle stories were to the truth.

Harry Lilium Potter, the youngest son of the renowned Auror, James Potter, was a skinny little boy with bright green eyes. However, unlike his older brother Joshua, who was a splitting image of their father, Harry was more of a perfect blend of both his mother and father, though it was quite obvious that Lily's features were more evident on the young child.

Having the last name of a prominent Light Family, one would immediately jump to the conclusion that this little boy was the happiest little boy you'd find anywhere else and the fact that his family was close with the Boy-Who-Lived would instantly make him a celebrity in the Wizarding World. However, the boy was far from happy; him being the saddest boy in the village would be a more accurate description than the previous one. And the assumption that he would be famous for being the boy who nearly became the Boy-Who-Lived was a lie. As a matter of fact, Harry Lilium Potter was only known to those who've actually seen him. It was not that he didn't like to socialize; in fact he longed for someone to be able to talk to without being snapped at or shouted at. It was more because his father refused to let him out of the house. He had no idea why his father would want to confine him in the vast manor, but he knew better than to question the man.

A memory of his father coming home drunk late one night when he was five would always prove to be a vivid reminder to him that asking questions in the Potter household was definitely taboo. But he knew that rule only applied to him. For years he'd tried to understand why his father acted the way he did. Why the man favoured his eldest son more than his youngest. Or why he could never do anything to please the man.

When he was younger he thought he knew the answer to these questions. It was a stormy night and he was scared to death of the flashes of lighting and the roaring thunder that came from outside his window. Next thing he knew the door to his bedroom had opened causing him to hide underneath his blanket. Then he felt hands tugging at his blanket, pulling it down until it was below his chin. The person he saw sitting beside him on his bed surprised him more than the opening of his door. His father was looking at him in the same way he looked at his brother when he was scared. It was a look of concern he was not accustomed to receiving from the man.

"Hush, my child," he had whispered softly, brushing the stray hairs on his face. "The storm will be over soon."

Having been denied this kind of affectionate touch from his father, Harry immediately leaned in to the touch, hoping that his father had finally accepted him. "You look so much like her you know," he said in the same soft voice quite unlike the tone he usually used on him.

Harry looked at his father in confusion, not understanding what he had said. "You have your mother's eyes," replied James to his son's confused look. Giving him one last gentle touch on the cheek, his father left his room and he fell asleep for the first time not dreading what tomorrow would bring.

He had woken up the next day with a brilliant plan to make his father happy. He'd scoured their entire manor hoping to find pictures of the mother he hardly remembered. Once his father had arrived from the Ministry, he'd run straight from his room to greet him and presented to him the pictures he'd been able to find. But instead of his father being happy like he thought he would when he showed the pictures to him, the older Potter had grabbed his arm in a painful vise and spoke to him in the most dangerous voice he'd ever heard.

"Don't you dare look for these pictures again," he had said in a voice harder than rock. Harry tried to ignore the pain his father's hold was giving him and nodded timidly, mumbling his apologies as he did so.

"You have no right to even look at her with those eyes. You don't even deserve to have her eyes," he growled, tightening his grip causing his son to whimper in pain. "Get out of my sight." He had pushed the boy roughly, not caring what kind of injury he had now inflicted on him, and walked out of the room, leaving a battered child behind.

Since that day, Harry learned never to go looking for pictures of his mother or ask about her again. However a part of him, to this day, still longed for the man who had come to his room during the stormy night. The man who had looked at him with concern in his eyes; the man who, even for just a moment, had shown him that he was loved.

Harry was at present reading in the family library, a thick book lying open on his lap. He loved going there since both his father and brother never did fancy reading which meant that this was one of the few places in the manor he could actually stay in without being given dirty looks. He could sit there all day and read through the many books that were stocked in the shelves that reached all the way up to the ceiling. He'd always wondered what a library such as this was doing in their manor since neither his father nor brother liked to read. The room could always calm him down as if a comforting presence was keeping him safe.

Today he was reading through one of the many Potions texts that could be found in the library. He loved Potions better than anything he'd ever read about and it didn't hurt that the manor had a fully stocked Potions' lab that his father never entered. On days when he'd rather forget what was going on, he would either retreat to his two most favourite rooms in the manor, the library and the potions lab, where he could get lost in the books or get so caught up in one of his experiments that he could easily forget how his life wasn't all that great.

He was so engrossed in what he was reading that he failed to notice a house-elf appearing before him until the creature tapped him on the leg.

"Young Master Harry sir, your father and Young Master Joshua have arrived," the house-elf announced.

"Thank you, Pimpy," said Harry, smiling at the elf. Pimpy was his favourite house elf because she was always there for him when he needed her. In fact it was she who had cared for him when he was only a baby and they both shared a connection unlike that of master and his servant. Whenever his father got into one of his moods, she would always be there to stop him in time before anything seriously damaging was done. She would always get punished by his father for disobeying him but she had said over and over again that as long as she was in the manor, she didn't mind having to iron her hands if it meant Harry wouldn't have to suffer his father's hands. She was like the mother he never had and he loved her for that.

Harry stood from where he was sitting and placed the book back on the shelf. His father had treated his brother to a trip to Italy for his twelfth birthday and it seemed that they'd finally come home after two weeks. He buried the feeling of jealousy towards his brother knowing that showing that kind of emotion would do nothing but bad to him.

Walking back to his room, his earlier good mood at having read something new in Potions now gone, Harry tried not to think of the times his family had completely ignored his birthday but with every step he was finding it too hard to do so. Every year as far back as he could remember, his brother Joshua had always celebrated his birthday by having a grand birthday party out on the grounds by the lake while he, Harry, had to remain in his room and watch the merriment from his bedroom window. This year, however, his brother told their father that he was getting too old for parties and begged the older man for a trip out of the country.

Seeing as Harry had never been anywhere outside the protective shields of the manor, he hoped that his father would let him accompany them. But his father refused, telling him that two tickets were expensive enough let alone buying three. He of course wanted to believe his father's words but it was quite hard to fathom that his father would find it hard to get another ticket considering the size of their Gringotts vault. Though he'd never actually been in the vault to see how big it really was, he'd read about how far back his family went and that must mean that their vault was very big indeed. So instead, he had to stay all alone at home for weeks, spending all his time reading up on Potion ingredients and methods, not knowing when they would return.

"Don't think about this," he said to himself frowning. "Thinking about it doesn't make anything any better." But no matter how many times he reminded himself that, he would always find himself thinking of it the next day.

He was still deep in his own thoughts when he bumped into someone wearing a black and white shirt with a red scarf tied around his neck.

"Do you like it?" asked his brother Joshua, fanning out his arms and turning around for his brother to see his clothes properly.

"What is that supposed to be?" asked Harry, looking at his brother's weird attire in mild confusion.

"I'd have thought that with all the time you spend cooped up in the library, you'd have at least read about it," said Joshua teasingly.

Harry stared at his brother and said, "I don't read about Muggle clothing."

"Yes, yes, how could I have forgotten? All you read about is how to bottle fame and brew glory." His brother continued in the same teasing voice, "I think you and Snape would get along just fine."

"Who's Snape?" asked Harry, ignoring his brother's comments on Potions.

"You'll meet him this year. He's Hogwarts' Potions Master and a downright greasy git," said Joshua crossly.

"He's probably just like that because you're in the room," quipped Harry, making a move to get back to his room.

"Hey!" his brother screamed at his back once he'd figured out what Harry had said. "And for your information, this happens to be a Gondola driver's costume."

Harry stopped at his tracks and turned to look at his brother who was grinning from ear to ear. "You guys went to Venice?" he asked in a small voice.

"Yup. It was so fantastic, Harry. There were practically no roads and everyone had to travel using these long Muggle boats called gondolas."

Joshua saw the look on his brother's face and immediately regretted what he'd said. "Look, Harry, I tried asking dad whether you could come along with us. But you know how he gets…" He left the sentence hanging, hoping that his little brother would understand.

Harry turned back to his earlier direction at that and mumbled sadly under his breath, "Yeah, Josh, I know how dad gets…"

Once he was back in his room, Harry flopped down on his bed and closed his eyes tightly to stop the flow of tears that he knew had been threatening to come upon seeing his brother so happy. Why couldn't he ever be that happy? Was there something horribly wrong with him that made it hard for their father to care for him the same way he cared for his brother?

He stayed that way until he'd managed to calm down enough for him to get his emotions in check again and by the time he'd gone up from his bed, the sun had already set, streaming his bed with orange light. Knowing that his father would be upset if he didn't at least show up for dinner, Harry hesitantly made his way to the dining room.

By the time he'd gotten there, both his brother and father were already seated and seemed to be engaged in a conversation pertaining their holiday. Harry walked towards his customary seat in the dinning table, four seats away from his father, and waited for his meal to appear before him, making sure not to make any noise that would get his father started on him.

After a while he felt that someone was watching him eat. Fearing that it was his father, he lowered his head even closer to the table so that his nose nearly touched his plate. But when the feeling wouldn't stop, he tentatively lifted his head and saw to his relief that it had been Joshua who was watching him and when he saw that his brother had finally looked up, he smiled, making Harry smile back in return.

Unfortunately, their father used that precise moment to look up, catching briefly his youngest son's eye before Harry quickly lowered his eyes, hoping that his father had not seen him. But the thing is, sometimes when you really don't want something to happen, it has the uncanny ability to do exactly the opposite, and this was no exception.

"What have you been doing while we were away, boy?" James barked from across the table.

Harry, who was trying to look at anything but his father's direction, answered in a timid voice. "I have been reading, sir."

"Reading," said his father in a voice that told him that he did not believe a word he'd said.

"Yes, sir, reading," replied Harry hoping he would get luck tonight.

"I see," came his father's calm voice which for him was never a good sign. "So you mean to tell me that while we were away, all you did was read?"

Harry's stomach was starting to churn and it was not due to hunger. "Yes, sir."

"I see," his father repeated, turning his gaze back to his cooling dinner. Harry held his breath, waiting for his father to say whatever it was he wanted to 'say' to him. But when it seemed that his father had dropped the subject in favour of eating his meal, he breathed a sigh of relief.

After that, the meal passed in silence with his brother making a few comments every now and then. With his plate having vanished in thin air, Harry excused himself from the table and started to move towards the door when he heard his father's voice.

"Meet me at my study in an hour," said his father, his voice neutral. Harry's breath caught and he stared wide eyed at his brother, hoping that the older boy would help him out. But Joshua seemed determined to keep his eyes averted from where Harry was and was taking an interest into boring a hole through the wall.

Harry swallowed; he knew he was alone, he always was. "Yes, sir," he answered, keeping his voice even.

The hour-long wait was excruciating; Harry paced around his room trying not to think of what his father would do this time around. By the time the dreaded hour was only a few minutes away, Harry was a bag of nerves and any unsuspecting noise would send him into a mild panic. If he'd had time he would have run to the lab and grabbed a couple of Calming Draughts to ease his nerves but his father had a knack of finding out whatever it was he had been doing. For a man who showed blatant favouritism towards his first born, the man was surprisingly determined to know whatever his other son was doing.

He stood before his father's study five minutes early and knocked softly on the wooden door.

"Enter," he heard his father's curt voice.

Harry turned the knob and braced himself for the unexpected that was his father. The study, like the rest of the manor was richly decorated in red and gold.

"Close it," said his father, not even looking up from the stack of parchments he was reading. Never wanting to be alone in the same room with his father, he reluctantly closed the door. He stood by the closed door and waited for his father to finish whatever it was he was reading. He knew his father was prolonging things on purpose and wished that he'd just get to what he wanted to this evening; he hated having to wait for his fate because often he never could figure out why he deserved it in the first place.

At last his father dropped the last of the parchments and lifted his head to look at his youngest son. "Sit," he said, still preferring to use as little amount of words as possible.

Harry took the offered seat and stared down at the floor; his father hated it when he looked at him with his green eyes, eyes that he said should never have been his in the first place.

James surveyed his last born, chin firmly resting on his interlocked fingers. Some would say that with this gesture, the man looked just like Albus Dumbledore. However there were major differences in the look; with Dumbledore, there would be a mad twinkling in his light blue eyes but with James Potter, his hazel eyes held nothing but cold aversion towards his son.

"I have given you enough time during dinner to explain yourself," he began in the same neutral voice he'd used earlier.

Harry's terrified expression turned into that of confusion though his father did not see it since he was still looking at the floor. He had no idea what his father was talking about. He had followed all of the man's rules no matter how unreasonable they were; he had followed them.

He dared to lift his head a bit to find that his father was staring intently at him. "I don't know what you mean, sir." he said in a small voice.

"You don't know?" said his father incredulously, his calm features contorting to anger.

Harry's head snap back down immediately and mumbled. "No, sir,"

"Tell me, boy! What did I tell you before your brother and I went away?"

"Y… y… you to… told me t… to… b… behave," he couldn't help but stutter the answer.

"Yes. And did you behave?" asked James.

"Yes, sir," said Harry forcefully, trying to make his father believe him.

James stood from his leather armchair and paced the room, hand clasped behind his back. "You do know I hate being lied to, don't you?"

"Sir…" mumbled a terrified Harry, not knowing what he'd done this time to incur his father's wrath.

"You still don't know what I'm talking about, boy?" snapped James, moving towards his son so fast that Harry recoiled backwards in his seat.

Harry shook his head, not trusting his voice to speak without breaking.

"How many times have I told you not to leave the house?" growled his father. Harry stared at his father for a while before understanding dawned on his face, and his eyes widened in fear.

He had been reading in the library a few days after his father and brother left for Italy when a gust of wind came from the opened window, blowing away some of the parchments that were folded within the book he was reading. Fearing that the precious papers would land on the lake outside, ruining them, he had dashed out of the manor to retrieve them. He had thought nothing of it at first considering he hadn't really left the manor but now he'd come to think of it, he should have known his father would make a big deal out of it. He always did.

"Father, please…" cried Harry, begging his father.

"What have I told you about calling me that?" James had moved so quickly that Harry never saw his father's firm hand flying to grip his jaw and pulling his face towards him so that they were only inches from each other.

His father's grip on his jaw was so painful that it wouldn't be surprising that he'd have a bruise on his face tomorrow. "What have I told you, boy!" repeated James when Harry failed to answer him the first time.

"You told me not to, sir," whimpered Harry.

James glared at his son for good measure before releasing his hold on his jaw. Harry tried not to rub his hand on his painful jaw and waited anxiously for whatever punishment his father would give him tonight. He just hoped it wasn't what he thought it would be.

His father retuned to his seat across from him and the silence that stretched between them was agonizing. When James finally spoke, he spoke in a tone that Harry had heard only once in his life; during that horrible thunderstorm.

"Do you think I take pleasure in doing this to you?" asked James, looking at his son who was clearly shaking in fear.

Harry dared not raise his hopes; this was one of the ways his father would punish him, luring him into a false sense of security before giving out a punishment worse than the last one.

"Do you not think it pains my heart when I cannot even keep my son in line?" continued James. But just as fast as his expression changed, it returned to its earlier detachment.

"Pull off your shirt," he ordered, leaning back on his brown leather armchair.

Harry's eyes widened and looked disbelievingly at his father who was still looking indifferently at him.

"Don't make me repeat myself, boy! NOW!"

He could barely stop his hands from shaking now as he slowly pulled off his shirt and placed it on the seat he had sat on.

James opened one of the desk drawers and retrieved what seemed to be an old battered rattan whip. "Turn around,"

"I'm sorry, sir. It won't happen again. Please," begged Harry. His wounds had yet to recover from his previous whipping and now his father would be doing it again.

James ignored his son's pleas and moved to turn his son around. He didn't even flinch when he saw the countless lacerations that his son had acquired over the years, many of which were still oozing blood.

When the whip first made contact with his raw back, Harry bit back a scream as some of his wounds opened up again. But as his father continued to land hit after hit, each having more force than the last one, he couldn't hold it back anymore and cried out in agony.

"Please, sir…" he cried continuously, trying in vain to sway his father. He knew pleading with the man was useless but he'd always hoped that perhaps there would come a day when his father would finally listen to his cries.

"This pains me just as much as it pains you," said James, delivering yet another forceful lashing. But before it could come into contact with the boy's bloody back, a small wrinkly hand made a grab for the whip.

"Pimpy!" he heard his father scream. "What have I told you about coming in here when I am disciplining my sons?"

"Master James sir needs his rest," said the elf coolly, eyeing his master. "Yous had an exhausting journey and must take your rest. Pimpy will take Young Master Harry back to his room now."

James glared coldly at the elf before reluctantly pulling the bloodied whip from the creature's hands. Stowing the "Disciplinarian" as his father affectionately called the tool, James left the elf and his son to their own devices.

Harry crumbled down on the carpeted floor once he heard the door snap to a close and cried like the battered child that he was. Pulling his knees closer to his chest, he rocked himself backwards and forwards, trying to lose himself in his miserable existence.

Pimpy watched helplessly as her young master cried himself out to exhaustion. She knew better than to approach the hysterical child now when he was still reeling from the beatings. It took an hour and a half but when she was sure that the boy was calm enough to allow her touch, she didn't hesitate to comfort the wounded child.

"Hush, young master," she whispered to his ears, trying not to touch his back. "No use crying over it now." Even though she was a mere house-elf, she knew that what her master was doing was wrong. Not even goblins disciplined their young in such a barbaric manner and that was saying something, since house-elves and goblins rarely saw eye to eye. But what could she do about it other than try to limit the damage inflicted on the boy? She was only a house-elf after all, who would believe her that the great James Potter was such a hardened man?

It took a great amount of persuasion before Pimpy finally managed to Apparate her young master to his room. Harry was still completely out of it when Pimpy Apparated him to his room and didn't even realize it when she deposited him on his bed and slowly started applying salve on his injured back.

"Drink this, Young Master Harry," crooned the elf to the distressed child. "It will help ease the pain."

Harry turned blood shot eyes towards the elf and took the offered vial. He knew this potion; he had brewed it himself just days ago. Mumbling a heart-felt thank you to the elf, which Pimpy promptly brushed off, Harry pulled the blankets over his thin frame and curled up tightly into a ball, a position Pimpy knew her young master placed himself in every single night. She made sure that the boy was resting soundly before leaving to tend to her other chores and perhaps receive yet another lecture about disobeying her superior.

It was probably late at night already when Harry felt someone staring at him. Opening one bleary eye, he saw that his brother was sitting on the edge of his bed. Upon seeing his brother stir, Joshua stiffened; he didn't know what to say now that his brother was actually awake.

"Harry…" he began awkwardly.

"Yeah, Josh," mumbled Harry, turning to his side to get a better view of his brother.

"Er, about earlier…" Joshua looked at his brother's eyes which were still swollen due to crying and felt very uncomfortable.

"It's okay, Josh," said Harry, figuring out what his brother was trying to say.

Joshua's eyes lit up at his brother's words and said quietly so as not to wake their father, "So you're not mad at me?"

"No, Josh. I'm not mad," Harry said throatily, his throat still sore from all the crying he'd done.

"Phew. I thought for a moment there that you were mad at me," exclaimed Joshua, his earlier disposition forgotten. "You know I would have helped you but you know how dad gets…" Joshua trailed off, getting off the bed to return to his own room.

Harry had a faraway look on his face and stared at the canopy of his bed. "Yeah, Josh, I know how dad gets…"

A/N: I don't know when I'll next be able to update this story since this one is harder than the other two stories I'm working on since this story deals more with abuse. But do put this story in your alert list, I will not abandon this. I have yet to abandon my works and i will not start now...

read and review...

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