Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter

It has been said that I'm a heartless man, feelings such as fear, pity even remorse are beyond my comprehension. I will be the first to admit that at one point in my life I would have wholly agreed with these beliefs, but going to that house, preparing myself to pick up the child or my school rival and closest friend, I felt these and so much more.

At first I feared how the child would act, would he display the arrogance of his father, or the gentleness of his mother? To be honest I didn't know what I wanted more, I know I wanted to hate him, I needed to hate him! It would have been easy if he had been arrogant, but no, life has never been easy so why would it start now?

I remember walking down the street, lined with identical houses and perfectly mowed lawns, I even remember the feeling or dread building in my stomach as I arrived at Number 4, the dread growing with every step I made towards the front door, the hesitancy in which I reached my hand forward to knock. I must have stood there fifteen minutes, knocking repeatedly and waiting for an answer, my dread quickly turned to annoyance, and I eventually tried the handle to discover the door unlocked.

Dust, that's the first thing I saw, dust and cloth. The furniture was covered and personal items gone, the damp in the air telling that nobody had been in this house for a very long time. I gradually made my way through the rooms finding the occasional abandoned picture showing a man and woman, with a fairly rotund child, but no sign of and black haired, green eyed child. In fact there wasn't any indication of another child having ever lived in this house.

I carried on searching, hoping to find a clue as to where the family had gone, or where the child I had come to collect had gone. It wasn't until I reached the kitchen that I paused, I could almost feel the eyes of somebody watching, my bones were screaming that somebody was there, that was when I heard it, what sounded like the giggling of a young child coming from behind me, but as a spun around I it disappeared. There was no trace of anyone having been near me, or in the adjacent rooms. I returned to the kitchen to continue my search, and there sat at the kitchen table was the boy I had been searching for.

Something was wrong; the child sat at the table, swinging his legs back and forth couldn't have been more the five years old. Yet he sat there, smiling, eating what looked to be strawberries, however as I neared the table, he vanished.

I started to panic, wondered what had happened, where he had gone. I once again ran through the house, searching like a mad man, just trying to find a trace of the child. I had almost given up hope when I heard a voice,

"Mister?" I turned, and there stood at the base of the stairs stood the child. He looked so innocent, so damn small! Dwarfed in clothing that was obviously not his own. He was so small damn it!

He spoke to me again and held his bowl, which until this point had been clutched in a death grip, towards me,

"Would you like a berry?"

Without thinking, I climbed down the stairs and reached my hand as if to take a berry, but as I was about to grasp the fruit, the child vanished once more.

I'm ashamed to admit that I turned to leave, I was afraid. Afraid of what the apparition of this child meant, or for my own sanity, I can't be sure. I was almost at the front door when he spoke again,

"Will you be my friend?" I turned back to face him, and the look of hope, of innocence on his face, there was no way of me refusing this child. I nodded my head and tried to reach for him, even now I'm unsure whether it was to comfort him, or to reassure myself that he was there, but before I could touch him he said the words that would haunt me forever,

"Was I bad?"

It was said with a tilt of his head, he had a sad, curious smile on his face, almost as though he was accepting his fate. It was said with the innocence that only children have. He looked at me as if I held all of the answers in the world, as though I could explain things to him, protect him from something I didn't yet understand.

That's when I made my decision, the decision that I am deeply ashamed of and will always, always regret.

I ran.

It was months before I learnt of the events that took place in that house. The young boy that nobody in the surrounding houses knew existed, the young boy that had been abused. Forced to work and locked away, beaten for things beyond his control. It wasn't until a neighbour spotted him one day, glimpse of him through the window, they became suspicious and called the police, but they were too late.

The Uncle admitted to his crimes, he told of the pleasure he took in causing his nephew pain, the pleasure he got out of the happiness the child showed when he was released from his cupboard. The pleasure he got from the pure joy the child had shown at being allowed a place at the kitchen table, and given his own bowl, of fresh strawberries. He told of the contentment the child had as he ate what was to be his last meal.

Harry Potter was five years old when he was found dead in the cupboard under the stairs, his small body was bruised and broken, but in the end the beatings weren't what killed him. Harry Potter was poisoned, his Uncle having coated his stale food, and sparse water with arsenic for months, and having administered the final deadly dose in a bowl of freshly picked strawberries.

It is said that even to this day, that small child can be seen sitting at the table, swinging his legs and smiling happily, freely at the world, waiting for thirty years for somebody to save him, for a friend, and I Severus Snape have never forgiven myself for not being that somebody.

A/N: It has taken me 4years to revise this chapter lol, i hope you enjoy reading it, i will post the original first chapter at the end of the story if you prefer that version! Please leave any feedback you may have, and i understand that the story is completely AU and that the other chapters don't follow this one completely and i hope you enjoy it anyway.