The halls of Hogwarts were mercifully quiet after the thunderous arrival of the miscreant students. Severus Snape took his time joining his colleagues at the Welcome Feast. Summer holiday was never long enough for the Potion Master. There was always so much more brewing than time allowed for. Just the thought of another year of teaching a horde of dunderheads forced Severus to slow his pace down even more so.
He had just stepped into the empty entrance hall when the sizeable door of the Great Hall slowly opened. Severus watched as the slight figure of a dark haired boy came into view. He quickly stepped back into the shadows as he observed the scoundrel sneaking out of the feast. It did not surprise him in the least to discover the identity of the boy.
He followed the teen up the stairs, observing as the boy nervously paced in front of the infirmary doors. Severus scowled as he imagined the mischief the boy was up to. Without waiting to see what the troublemaker would do next, Severus swiftly stepped into the path of the boy. He took great satisfaction when the teen recoiled at the sight of him.
"Already up to no good, are we? What are you doing wandering the halls, Potter?" Severus snapped in a harsh tone.
Severus couldn't help but to notice the sickly pallor of the Boy-Wonder. The teen looked to be quite emaciated. Upon closer inspection the Potion Master was certain the boy had a glamour charm applied to his face.
Without waiting for an explanation, the professor took his wand out and pointed it at the boy, "Finite incantatem!"
The boy stepped back as if he had been struck. When the teen looked up through angry eyes, Severus could see the reason why a glamour had been applied. Potter's face looked as if it had been trampled upon by an angry pack of hippogriff. One eye was swollen shut, there were several large inflamed bruises upon his face and most evident was the large cut splitting the teen's upper and lower lip wide open. The boy's face and hair was filthy, as if it hadn't been washed for weeks.
The teen quickly turned away, shoulder's shaking in rage for having been found out.
"What trouble have you gotten yourself into now, Potter?" Severus asked in a most cutting tone. When the teen refused to answer, Severus cast a summoning spell in the direction of the Great Hall. "Fine, ten points from Gryffindor. I'll let Madame Pomfrey deal with your misconduct."
The Gryffindor pushed open the infirmary door as Severus used his wand to prod the boy into the room, ignoring the way the teen violently flinched when the wand touched him between his shoulder blades. Potter stood by the closest bed as he defiantly ignored his teacher.
Severus shook his head in disgust as he turned back towards the door, not wanting to invest any further time into the delinquent acts of the Potter brat. He had spent far too much time this past summer in the company of the Dark Lord, with the sole purpose of protecting James Potter's progeny! It infuriated him that the unruly teen would purposely put himself in harms way while so many were trying to protect him.
As his bad luck would have it, Madame Pomfrey came bursting through the doors and before Severus had a chance to escape, she held out several bottles of potions.
She took one look at who was in the room and quickly thrust the bottles at Severus before snapping out a request, "Severus, I've not yet blended the bone mend potion. "
She turned her back to him and went straight to Potter. She pulled her wand out and erected privacy screens around the bed before addressing the teen.
Severus heard her tone change to one of sympathy as she said, "Oh Merlin, what have they done to you now, my dear boy?"
"I'm okay," Severus heard Potter claim in a near whisper.
He then heard the medi-witch incant a spell to vanish the boy's clothes. She let out a sharp gasp followed by a string of profanities the Potion Master had only heard whilst in the company of Death Eaters.
"Merlin help that man for sending you back to those dreadful Muggles, especially after last year! You'll not be going back there again!" Poppy exclaimed in anger.
"It can't be helped," Potter said in a resigned tone of voice. "It's not so bad. Besides, I'm home now," the last part was said in a defiant tone.
"Harry," the medi-witch admonished, "You know the Headmaster doesn't want you to think of the castle as home."
"It's all I have," the boy whispered. Severus had to strain to hear that last line.
The medi-witch incanted more spells before declaring, "This is far worse then last year. I've a right mind to call Albus in to witness this for himself before I heal you!"
"No! Please don't," Potter begged. "It's not so bad."
Severus then heard Poppy huff out in exasperation, "In the very least he is going to read your medical chart and see for himself the damage that was inflicted upon you! That uncle of yours should be sitting in Azkaban!"
Severus couldn't imagine the headmaster sending his precious Golden boy to a family that harmed the teen! He must be mistaken in assuming it was Potter's family in which the medi-witch was talking about. He had always pictured James Potter's son as pampered beyond belief. Then again,…Lily's ghastly sister had always been rather cruel. Growing up he'd been the recipient of her sharp tongue on several occasions.
Poppy then cast a long string of healing spells. Severus was stunned at the extent of the injuries the boy was suffering.
"You'll need to stay the night in the infirmary, Harry," he heard the medi-witch say.
"I have to get back to the feast before they come looking for me," the boy said. "They think I went to the owlery to find Hedwig."
"This bone mend must be taken under supervision. You have two severely cracked ribs."
"What's a few more hours going to hurt?"
"This should have been fixed weeks ago," Severus could hear the sorrow and regret in the medi-witch's voice as she said, "I told him we should have checked on you."
"It's okay," the boy offered, trying to console the medi-witch, "It doesn't help any having someone threaten him like that. It just makes him worse. Besides, I don't want anyone to see me there… not like that. It can't be helped" he said again as if he was trying to talk himself into believing it.
Severus opened up the last ingredient before stirring it into the bottle. He was surprised to find his hands shaking.
"My friends can't find out anything happened. If Sirius finds out…," he heard the boy beg, unable to hide an obvious edge of panic.
After a long moment, the medi-witch finally conceded, "I suppose you could use a good meal. You've lost every last pound we worked so hard for you to gain last year. They didn't feed you, did they?"
Another long silent pause before Poppy finally conceded, "Fine then, go join your friends. Just be sure to come back and see me once they all fall asleep. I'll have the potion waiting for you. At least that way I can be assured that you are sleeping since it is obvious you've had very little rest."
Severus continued mixing the potion as he heard the medi-witch scribbling furiously in her medical assessment of the boy. A moment later he turned to leave just as the boy stepped around the privacy curtain, fully dressed now.
The boy's pale face immediately flushed red and his eyes shifted down to the floor. They both stood without moving.
Severus could see that the medi-witch had not only healed the teen but had also cast a thorough cleaning spell upon him. However, the dark circles under Potter's eyes and sickly pallor still remained.
The boy finally looked up and their eyes met.
Potter had just started to implore, "Please sir, don't tell …" Then suddenly the teen's voice trailed off and his forehead furrowed as if a thought struck him.
Potter's eyes widened and he took a half step forward as he continued staring at Severus.
Severus' own brow furrowed as he wondered what had rendered the boy silent.
Potter pressed two fingers to the scar on his forehead and rubbed at it as he continued to stare at Severus in a most curious way.
Severus felt the dark mark on his arm tingle, he found himself hard pressed to look away from the boy.
At that moment the medi-witch banished the privacy screens, causing the boy to look away. The teen raced out the infirmary doors before another word was spoken.
Severus had no idea what had just taken place between him and Potter, but he knew it had something to do with Voldemort.
Harry raced down the many stairs leading to the Great Hall, feeling better then he had in months and not just because Madame Pomfrey had healed his injuries. He didn't understand what had just happened between him and Snape but he intended to find out.
All summer long he had been having terrible visions of all the heinous acts Voldemort had been committing since that awful night in the graveyard. The more powerful Voldemort had grown the more powerful the visions had become. His scar was constantly burning both day and night now. The terrible visions were always waiting for him to let his guard down. The only time the pain had disappeared had been just now, when he had stood in front of Snape.
The disappearance of the pain had been miraculous. He couldn't understand what had happened but the momentary relief from the pain had been spectacular!
He took the last steps leading down to the Great Hall two at a time. Just before he reached the doors he rubbed his scar as it began to burn once again. Yes, he would find out how Snape had blocked the pain that had plagued him all summer long.