Harry sighed softly as he wandered through the castle corridors. He was alone, but that didn't surprise him. He was usually alone on Halloween.
Everyone else was at the feast, having fun. He didn't mind. He didn't begrudge them their good time. It was just impossible for him to have fun on Halloween.
It hadn't always been like that. He used to love the holiday, watching all the trick-or-treater's going by outside the parlor window. Before his uncle caught him watching and threw him back into the cupboard, that is.
But somehow, ever since he learned that Halloween was the day his parents had been murdered, he just couldn't bring himself to enjoy the holiday. The day always served to depress him.
Which was the reason for his current wandering of the corridors, and the fact that he was straying dangerously close to the dungeons. It seemed that the lower he went, the less he heard his mother's screams in his ears.
Yes, he still heard it. A year and a half after the dementor incident and he still heard his mother's dying words in his mind everytime he thought of her.
"Not Harry! Please, not Harry! Not my baby, no, plea-"
Harry slammed his fist into the stone wall, effectively cutting off the memory, but also hurting his hand in the process. Something sharp cut into the side of his fist, making him wince and hiss. He pulled his fist away from the wall, but not without the wall keeping some of his skin and blood.
When he looked, there was a thin stream of blood running down the wall where a jagged bit of the rock had stuck into his hand. Not much, but just enough to be noticable to anyone who cared to look.
Harry cursed silently as the hand began to throb and blood began to drip on the floor. He was bleeding badly, and his hand ached something horrible. He was beginning to get light-headed from the pain.
He looked down at his wounded hand. The cut was deepest on the side, but when he had removed his hand from the rock it had sliced his palm too, so he was now looking at an extremely deep, jagged cut all the way across his hand.
He cursed again, knowing there was no way he would make it back to Gryffindor tower as dizzy as he was.
"I'm only about two staircases from the Potion's classroom. Maybe I can nick a salve or something from Snape's stuff," Harry thought as he pulled off his Gryffindor tie and wrapped it tightly around the cut. The blood immediately began to soak through.
Harry cursed once again as he took off down the staircase, concentrating on his breathing and the motion of his legs to block out the pain and dizziness.
When he came to the end of the stairs he stopped, about ready to give up. His head felt ready to split open, and he was certain his hand was on fire. He closed his eyes and drew a shaky breath as the pain failed to do it's job, and his mum's scream filled his mind once again.
He sank to the ground, his hands fisted in his messy hair, as though they were trying to pull the sound from his mind by way of his hair. A dry sob ripped from his throat as the scream echoed on and on and on...
Then, as though coming from a trance, hard for a sound he thought he'd heard.
From somewhere far away he heard a soft note played on what he thought was a piano. A melancholy, lingering note that made Harry ache inside and yearn for more.
He took a step toward the sound as another not was played, this one darker and louder, reminding Harry of a storm.
He began to quicken his pace, the pounding in his head and the throbbing of his hand nearly forgotten. The notes began to come faster now, playing up and down a...scale, was that it? Harry had never been one for music, but this sound was intoxicating.
The notes were lower, darker, more intense as Harry ran down the stairs and rounded the corner. The song began to build, the notes falling over each other like a flooding stream. Harry walked-no, he ran-to the door at the end of the corridor, where he was sure the music was coming from.
He stopped in front of the door, closing his eyes and just listening to the dark sound that was now nearing a crescendo.
He put his face against the cold door, listening, pressing close, trying to hear as much of the violently beautiful music as he could.
As the chords grew louder, at the peak of the crescendo, Harry could no longer stand it. He pushed open the door just as the notes dropped of from the dark chords to the melancholy melody he had heard on the stairs.
He stared at the man sitting at the piano. He was dressed all in black, his ebony hair falling into his face as he moved swift, obviously skilled hands across the ivory keys of a grand piano made from dark cherry wood.
Harry stared as Severus Snape crossed hands and trilled two notes on the black and white keys; he watched as Snape closed his eyes and played two low chords, looking for all the world like a man lost.
And Harry began to cry as Severus Snape played the last few notes of the song: lingering sounds high up on the keys, that made Harry's heart ache.
Harry tried to be quiet, but as Severus' hands left the piano he let out a soft sob, unable to stop it.
Snape whirled around as he stood. Harry backed up against the door, tears trailing down his face as he noticed that Snape had tears in his eyes too.
"I-I'm sorry-" Harry began,
not meaning it. He didn't want to say he was sorry. He wanted Snape
to keep playing.
"What are you doing her, Potter?" Snape hissed.
"I-I heard the music, and...I...I-" Harry couldn't finish. "Sir, please, don't stop!" he said, a sob breaking the end of the sentence.
Snape looked taken aback for a moment. "Potter, wha-"
"Please!" Harry practically screamed, his voice desperate. "Please, please, don't stop playing."
He took a deep breath and moved closer to Snape, reaching out a hand as though to grab the man's arm, but pulling it back.
"I-" he whispered brokenly. "I can't hear my mum screaming when you play," he said, looking past Snape to the keys, a feirce longing burning in his gut.
Severus just stared.
"Please..." Harry trailed off, the word barely audible.
"Potter," Snape seemed at a loss for words. "You-you hear Lily's screams?" He took a deep, shuddering breath as Harry nodded.
"You're bleeding." Snape said, causing Harry to jerk his gaze back to the man's face at the abruptness of the statement. He had forgotten his hand in his desperation; but with Snape's words the pain came flooding back. He hissed and bit his lower lip, nearly causing that to bleed as well.
Snape was beside him in one smooth motion, and he grabbed Harry's wrist, unwrapping the makeshift binding Harry had put around the wound.
He sighed and shook his head, muttering something about idiot Gryffindors, and pulling a vial from his robes he set it to Harry's lips. "Drink." he said. Harry did so, the pain taking away all thoughts of resistance.
He saw Snape reach into a pocket in his robes and take out another vial. This one's contents he poured onto Harry's hand.
Harry whimpered and writhed as the liquid seeped into the wound, making it burn like fire. The pain was awful and Harry felt like he would sick up from it. Either that or the dizziness would do it. Harry's head throbbed along with his hand, making it hard see, much less form a cohenerent thought, and he began to sway.
He stumbled forward, putting out a hand to catch himself and latching onto Snape's robes with it. The rest of his body soon followed, and he collapsed against Snape.
He felt rather than heard the man sigh as strong arms wrapped around his small torso.
"I'm sorry," was whispered in his ear before he felt a hand under his legs and he was hoisted up into Snape's arms, the man holding him like a baby. He tried to squirm away, but Snape hushed him.
"Easy, little one. Shh."
Harry let the soft voice calm him, and he closed his eyes, relaxing against Snape's broad chest, allowing his mind to rest, not really registering what was going on around him.
Soon, he realized he was being laid on a soft bed, and that the warm, strong arms that had been holding him were no longer there. He whimpered, reaching out with his eyes still closed.
He felt a cool hand grasp his groping one.
"Easy, Pot-...Harry. Hush. Go to sleep, little one. You need it."
Harry didn't protest, and as his mind and body drifted into slumber, he could have sworn he heard a gentle, deep voice singing a lullaby.