What most dissatisfies me about many Harry/Severus mentor fics is the common occurrence of major ongoing abuse by the Durley's toward Harry that initiates the need for Severus to be placed in guardianship of Harry. I personally just cannot see this as completely believable as I fail to see how all incidences would go completely unnoticed by Harry's teachers, Mrs Figg and other neighbours, etc. And also I fail to see why Harry (spirited as he is) would continue to accept that this is 'normal' when he can see the prime example right in front of him in the form of Dudley of the exact opposite of how Harry is treated. I can't imagine that he would stay much past the age of about 8… he would start running away, or at the least 'saying' things to the other adults around him. So this is my answer to finally satisfy my imagination as to how things really might happen…

I hope you also enjoy!!!! :D

Oh, and don't worry – Fans of "Second Chances" – I am working on the next chapter, I assure you… stay tuned!!!

Building Bridges

Chapter One -Reckless

The argument was intense and distinctly hostile.

Vernon Dursley was almost purple with rage, his fury compounding on itself every second that Harry remained within his line of sight… and well within his site Harry was!

Harry was screaming in his face, in fact, yelling about the injustice of being treated so unfairly and cruelly ever since his Aunt and Uncle had taken him in as an infant.

Harry had to admit it felt good to finally rebel against his long time tormentors. He had recently turned sixteen and teenage hormones were running rampart within his system. His body and mind were being soaked with testosterone, resulting in all his bitterness, hurt and rejection over the previous fifteen years to manifest themselves as aggression and recklessness.


Ten minutes earlier, the Dursley family (and Harry) had been almost ready to sit down to a hearty Sunday roast lunch. Vernon had been sharpening the carving knife on the long steel in preparation for slicing up the succulent lump of pork still sizzling in the roasting pan on the kitchen bench.

Harry had been standing at the sink washing up the dishes used during the preparation of the meal. There would be another round once they had all finished eating, so Aunt Petunia had demanded that Harry wash the current dishes to make the kitchen clean and pleasant for the duration of the meal, and to make room for the coming piles of crockery.

Dudley, instead of standing at Harry's side assisting him by drying the dishes, was sprawled unattractively on the couch watching the television, his mouth agape in relaxed lethargy and his multiple rolls of fat hanging over the edge.

'The lazy spoiled tub of lard… why isn't he helping?' Harry thought bitterly, turning to stare resentfully in his cousin's direction.

But, of course, he knew his Aunt and Uncle would never ask Dudley to help with the housework. He'd never done so thus far, not as long as Harry could remember, at least. And, in fact, the fat lump had never even gone so far as to clean his own room. Harry, more often than not, had been blamed for any mess in the larger boy's bedroom and so had been required to clean it for Dudley, despite the fact that Harry rarely, at most, had set foot in the room.

Dudley, upon feeling Harry's gaze upon him, turned and smirked smugly at him. He was thoroughly doted upon, and worst of all, he knew it, lapping up the extra attention at Harry's expense with glee.

Internally Harry was slowly burning hotter and hotter with resentment. He turned back to his task. No point dwelling on it. May as well get on with it and finish the dishes, he only had a few left to do, and the lunch would be served any moment now. Vernon had ceased sharpening the knife and was testing his handy work on the little hairs on his arm. As the blade scrapped across the blubbery arm, Harry could see the hairs being sheared off. The knife was perfectly sharpened.

As Harry predicted, Vernon did not rinse off the knife before he lifted the hunk of meat from the roasting pan, placing it on a large wooden chopping board and proceeded to slice generous portions of pork. He shuddered in disgust, but his rumbling stomach refused to allow him to dwell on the knowledge.

He had hardly been allowed to eat these holidays. Well, it felt like it anyway. He was a growing sixteen year old boy, no different to any other normally bottomless pit teenage male, and compared to what Dudley was allowed to consume, Harry felt as though he were being starved. His portions were no bigger than the meager eating Aunt Petunia's. In comparison, Uncle Vernon and Dudley's plates were routinely piled so high Harry wondered how the food defied the laws of physics and remained on the plates. Therefore despite the horrible notion of eating the hair contaminated pork, Harry admitted that he was so hungry that he would gladly have eaten his serving off the floor today.

Harry hurried to scrub the last article in the sink and placed it on the drainer. Then he quickly began wiping each dish with a dry tea towel and placed them away in their proper places within the kitchen cupboards.

Aunt Petunia was busy setting the table. Her horse face pinched in concentration until her eyes glanced up at her son slumped on the couch; changing instantly to a picture of sickening adoration.

"Go wash up for lunch, my little Diddy," she crooned to her obese son: though of course if anyone asked her, she merely claimed that Dudley was a healthy growing boy and he needed a little extra in reserve. "Lunch will be on the table in five minutes."

Dudley hauled himself off the couch after groaning an acknowledgement. Normally he would have ignored his mother until she had had to ask several times, and even had to walk over and pull up the large boy herself, but today Dudley was happy to oblige; the food smelt heavenly and Dudley had spent the last hour constantly nagging his mother to serve the food.

Harry finally put the last bowl away in the cupboard and began to drain the sink of washing up water.

"What do you think you're doing?" Vernon snapped harshly at him as he moved aside to let Petunia dish up the food onto the plates.

"I'm finished," Harry answered, slightly startled at the tone. What in the world had he done wrong now?

"No you're bloody well not!" Vernon insisted hotly, carving knife still in hand, turning and snatching up the pot mit on the bench behind him. "And don't think you can leave this one until after lunch, either. I won't allow it!"

He then carefully lifted the hot roasting pan with one hand and thrust it toward Harry. Reflexively, Harry grabbed at the hot metal pan, hissing and gasping when he found the tray much too hot for his bare wet hands. Juggling it slightly he hurriedly tried to get the hot dish to the sink before his hands became one big blister, but unfortunately the hot oil in the bottom of the pan splashed up and over the whole of his right hand scalding him further. He yelled out in pain, and watched in horror as the roasting pan fell to the floor where dirty, brown, hot fat splashed over the linoleum and coated the cupboard doors.

Shocked, Harry looked up to see various expressions cross both his Aunt and Uncle's faces, ranging from initial shock that matched his own, then to distaste, morphing to disdain and finally settling in an accusing glare directed straight at him.

"CLEAN THIS UP NOW!" bellowed Uncle Vernon, pointing insistently at the mess coating the floor with the knife. "You will not eat until it is completely clean!"

"Petunia dear, take this to the table so you, I and Dudley can begin our lunch," Uncle Vernon muttered tightly, indicating to the food for Petunia. The thin woman stepped delicately over the mess toward the table with the platters of sliced meat and roast vegetables.

Shocked and in pain, Harry felt the burning resentfulness inside his gut and chest suddenly bubble over at the injustice of it all.

"What...? NO!" he yelled angrily, and he couldn't help a slight stamping of his foot from accompanying the retort.

Stunned momentarily at Harry's nerve, Vernon did not react except for donning a large scowl on his face. The boy had never truly stood up to him before! Oh, there were minor incidences of resistance, but nothing to this extent.

Harry continued to scream, leaning closer to Vernon's face, "NO, I won't! I'm going to eat now! Just like you and Dudley! I'll eat as much as I want… 'til I'm full… and I'm NOT washing up the stupid pan! To make up for all the times I've done the washing up and he hasn't… HE CAN DO IT!" Harry demanded, stabbing a pointed finger in his cousin's direction.

Dudley had returned to the room a few moments earlier and he and his mother sat dumbfounded at the table; mouths dropped open in surprise at Harry's rage filled tantrum. As the finger was jabbed in Dudley direction the large boy let out a quiet whimper of dismay at being brought into the argument.

By now the fury inside Vernon had built enough to outweigh the shock keeping him silent. "Oh NO you will NOT, boy-!

"WATCH ME!" Harry screamed, so worked up that a small amount of spittle escaped with the explosive words. He began to take slippery steps out of the kitchen toward the luncheon laden table to prove his point.

Enraged at being spoken to in such a way, and livid at having his directive ignored, Vernon stuck out his free left arm and shoved Harry violently backwards into the bench behind him; advancing on him with a large step. He began stabbing the knife toward him to emphasize his argument.

"You WILL do what you are TOLD you ungrateful whelp… AND, you will DO it ALL on you own! Dudley is three times the lad you will ever be…!"

"That's an understatement!" Harry sneered disrespectfully.

Rage consumed Vernon and with it disappeared any inkling of good sense. "YOU WILL NOT TALK ABOUT MY FAMILY THAT WAY!" He thrust the knife toward Harry to punctuate every word.

Harry, barely aware of the weapon, stood his ground glaring at his Uncle, consumed in his own anger and righteousness.

The blade came closer and closer with each drive until the inevitable happened. The large, very sharp carving knife plunged one last time where it pierced Harry's shirt sleeve, slicing a long deep wound through the skin and muscle of his upper arm.

Harry grunted a gasp at the stinging pressure of the knife puncturing his body, but the blade was retracted immediately.

Both males looked down at the stain of red which was now blossoming outwards from the torn fabric of the overlarge, white t-shirt sleeve. At first Vernon wore an expression of shock and regret, but soon his anger returned and coloured his face with scorn and triumph, though his features were still tinged with a hint of guilt.

"That'll teach you, you little wretch," he snapped nastily, attempting to cover up his own culpability regarding the incident, as was the large man's habit.

Vernon hastily stepped bodily up to Harry, placing his vast mass in between the bleeding boy and the line of sight of his wife and son. He tossed the offending knife into the sink and snatched the tea-towel off the side board and shoved it at Harry's injured arm.

Harry winced as the towel was pressed onto the cut, but then he clasped it to himself with his own hand nevertheless. He was just beginning to register what had happened and was reacting with shocked silence; looking up in alarm at his beefy uncle.

"GO to your room!" Vernon barked pointing his finger insistently toward the staircase. "You WILL clean this up later… after Petunia, Dudley and I have eaten and have retired to the living room to watch television. We do not wish to watch you scrabbling around here like a dog while we eat! This will teach you to make a mess… NO dinner for a WEEK!"

Harry did not immediately move, still bewildered by what had happened and stunned at how somehow it was all being blamed on him… and STILL he wasn't getting anything to eat!

Real physical shock was beginning to settle over him like a suffocating blanket…

"MOVE!" yelled Vernon, startling Harry out of his overwhelmed inaction.

He immediately hurried from his obese uncle to the stairs, taking them two at a time until he was pushing past his bedroom door, barely resisting the urge to slam it closed behind him.

Standing and shaking slightly in the middle of his bedroom time began to catch up with Harry. He took in several deep breaths trying to calm himself, but it seemed the task was beyond him. The sensations that were fortunately muted during the altercation began to reappear with cruel intensity.

Both the young wizard's sets of fingers and both palms stung ferociously from large weeping blisters, his entire right hand doubly so; burned up past his wrist from the splashed boiling hot drippings, and Harry's right upper arm began to pulse painfully. Looking down at the covered wound, Harry noticed that blood had begun to soak the tea-towel and had even run in rivulets down his arm; apparently the cut was bleeding copiously.

He abandoned the use of the tea-towel to stop the flow of blood and looked frantically around his room for an alternative bandage. Spying another t-shirt, Harry scooped it from the dresser drawer where it was messily draped over the corner. He tried to wrap the shirt around the wound and tie the ends with a granny knot, but it proved too bulky, so he once again abandoned the soaked article and went in search of its replacement. He eventually decided on his pillowcase folded in half, which he planned to wrap around the wound as many times as would fit, but before he did he noticed the abundance of blood that had literally splashed in large streams down his arm and were dripping heavily off the end of his blistered fingers to make varied stains on the carpet across the floor throughout the room. There was now an alarming amount of blood, Harry noticed...

'If Aunt Petunia came in to my room now she would have a pink fit-'

Harry instantly cut into his own thoughts. How bizarre that he would be worrying about this now. Uncle Vernon had very nearly cut his arm off! Harry hastily continued his job of wrapping the wound to try to stem the blood loss. Apparently it must be already affecting his brain, he thought, half amused.

He hissed and gasped as the makeshift bandage tightened around his arm. Blowing out a shaky breath he noticed that his tremor had remained and now he was beginning to feel a little nauseous. His pain was also getting worse… or maybe he was just not tolerating it anymore. Either way, he knew his cut to his upper arm alone was serious enough that he could not ignore it for much longer; the burns he could suffer through until they began to heal, but the laceration to his arm was deep. He would need to seek help from somebody; it was unlikely to heal very well on its own. Looking back down at the bandaged arm he saw that the pillowcase was now also soaked in his blood.

'I better get someone soon, I guess, before I pass out from blood loss! Fat lot of good I'd be as the Saviour of the wizarding world if I bled to death in my bedroom because of my doting uncle!' he thought sardonically.

Harry shook his head at his undying sense of humour at the most inappropriate times whilst snorting in amusement at his own thoughts. Ron would be proud of him.

The thought of asking Uncle Vernon or Aunt Petunia for help was utterly ridiculous at this moment. He felt Uncle Vernon in particular would merely sneer at his request for assistance, and was more likely to offer to cut a matching wound in his other arm than take him to a doctor and relay what he had done. Whereas Aunt Petunia would just pinch her face in disgust whilst mopping up the blood and Harry shuddered at having to tolerate such repulse right now. No, Harry needed someone who could both calm him and attend to his wounds… someone who cared.

He immediately made the moves to retrieve his wand from its hiding place beneath the loose floorboard in his room. Sending Hedwig (if she were even here) with a message would take far too long… but a patronus

Harry were about to swing his wand and incant the required spell when he decided that he did not want a repeat of last year when the Dementors attacked he and Dudley in the alley and Harry was rewarded with a full wizarding trial for defending himself and his cousin with the use of underage magic. No, it would be a much better idea to perform the spell as far away from Privet Drive as possible; perhaps the Ministry would be unable to tell that it was Harry performing the spell in this instance.

Taking a long look around his bedroom, Harry settled for tucking his invisibility cloak in his small shoulder bag with a handful of wizard money (he didn't actually have any Muggle cash) and a light jumper. He then slipped his wand into his back pocket. His right arm was now throbbing intensely and he knew he could not carry the bag with it, so he lifted the small load with his left arm and slung it over his good shoulder and left his bedroom, heading down the stairs and exiting the front door as quietly as he could.

The Dursleys were enjoying their lunch at the table without him, as if their injured nephew/cousin didn't even exist… well, to them he had never existed as part of their family, Harry realised. And now, gazing in the direction of the dining room listening to the happy banter of the three Dursley family members, that realisation had never hurt him more. He closed the door behind him with a soft click, more devastated than he would care to admit.

Harry made his way down Privet Drive until he reached the main intersection. He crossed over and headed in an easterly direction for several streets, passing a convenience store, the primary school he had attended in his younger years, the video store and several small shops including the local hairdressers and butcher. He saw no-one on the streets, it was the middle of a summer Sunday and it was hot in the sun. It seemed everyone had retreated indoors to escape the heat… so nobody noticed the bleeding teenager make his way along the street.

Directly across from these shops was a narrow, dark alley way which serviced an empty shop front and a Doctor's surgery. Being a Sunday, the surgery was closed. Harry crossed over the side street and entered the alley. It was the perfect location from which to send his patronus… far enough away from his Aunt and Uncle's house to protect his identity from the Ministry of Magic, and private enough so that Muggles would not witness his display of sorcery.

Before retrieving his wand from the back pocket of his jeans, Harry dumped the satchel that had been slung over his shoulder. His right arm was now virtually useless. He had taken to cradling the injured limb with his other arm, and just removing the support to extract the wand left him breathless with throbbing pain. He gasped loudly and his eyes pricked with tears.

Blowing out a long calming breath, Harry resisted the urge to succumb to those tears. He was sixteen, he told himself… and sixteen year old boys did not cry, no matter how much pain they were in!

He transferred the wand from his left hand to his right and once again wrapped his left under the other for support. Checking one last time that he was definitely alone, he began his chant of the Patronus Charm.

"Expec-" at the same time he attempted to swing the wand to complete the incantation to produce his patronus, but alarmingly found that he could barely move the limb. He could not have prevented the moan of pain that accompanied his attempt even if he tried.

"Ah… Merlin!" Harry hissed out.

He closed his eyes with a grimace. How on earth was he going to produce his patronus if he couldn't wave his wand?

Feeling suddenly light-headed, Harry sunk to the ground against the brick wall. The idea of excessive blood loss causing his demise suddenly did not seem so amusing anymore.

A puddle of Harry's blood was in fact pooling on the concrete at his side; the exertion having increased the bleeding of the arm wound… or perhaps re-opened the wound if it had miraculously managed to clot. Either way, the makeshift pillowcase bandage was virtually pointless for containing the spill of blood at this point. However, the mere thought of removing the sodden length of material from his painful, bleeding arm sent chills down Harry's spine.

Harry rested his spinning head back against the rough bricks, closing his eyes. He could barely feel the stinging in his hands anymore; the throbbing in his arm far overshadowed it, but now even that was dimming. He felt so tired all of a sudden… he would just rest with his eyes closed… for just a minute…


He was in a groggy haze of pain… washing over him in waves, concentrating in biting peaks of fiery sting.

As Harry woke further, he became more aware of the sites of pain; isolating each one from the rest of his body which was pulsing with an uncomfortable strain, but not really hurting, as such. But Merlin, his arm! He groaned at the sensation and tried to shift himself to ease the throbbing, though the effort seemed to be in vain; the ache persisted regardless.

Opening his eyes he squinted at the sudden light, but as memories of the morning flooded back to him, he realised that it was actually darker than what he remembered it should have been.

He could hardly believe he had dozed off to sleep, sitting uncomfortably against the wall, his injuries getting more and more painful as time passed.

Glancing down at the concrete beside him, he noticed the puddle of blood was significantly larger, but it had dried around the edges somewhat. Just how long had he been asleep for?

'A number of hours by the looks of it,' he thought in alarm. 'I need to get out of here… I need help!'

Harry shifted himself against the wall again, but this time the movement dislodged his wand which had been resting in his lap. It clattered softy against the pavement before he registered what the article was and retrieved it with his left hand.

Extremely hesitant to try to move his right arm again, Harry lifted his left, wand in hand and readied himself mentally to cast his patronus charm. Thoughts of his mother's soft red hair and inviting, nurturing arms flooded his mind…

"Expecto Patronum!" Harry incanted, whilst moving his wand through the appropriate motions.

But nothing happened.

Disconcerted, but not discouraged, Harry tried again, placing more accent on his precise wand movements, but still to no avail.

He tried again and again, becoming agitated and anxious.

"Come on!" he whispered to himself, "I need someone… an Order member, anyone… Remus, Dumbledore, Mr Wealey… Professor McGonagall, anyone…"

Several continuingly more desperate attempts later, Harry ceased trying… taking deep calming breaths. There was no point getting worked up, the Patronus Charm was only successful with positive, happy thoughts. Harry would need to compose himself enough to replace the frantic feelings building inside him with serene memories.

He began to recall times when he had smiled and laughed, remembering the joyous faces of Ron and Hermione… Christmas at Hogwarts… Flying on his broomstick… Yes, flying… that always made Harry feel calmer… uninhibited.

He found himself almost with a smile on his face, and much calmer. He again began to think of casting his patronus charm, and when he mentally went through the motions, he soon realised his mistake. Harry had been using his left hand instead of his usual right and had failed to invert the movements.

His first try after adapting the motion, Harry held the memory of both his parents in his mind. He concentrated further and as his patronus blossomed from the tip of his wand he recalled the earlier desperation of needing help.

He was soon facing his magnificent Buck patronus whispering his emergency instructions and his location.

"Deliver the message to Remus Lupin… or Professor Dumbledore. Get whichever Order member is available, as quickly as possible… Mr or Mrs Weasley, or Tonks… heck, I'd even be ecstatic to see Snape! GO!"

Harry watched the glowing patronus zoom off into the dimming sky with hope, but as the glow diminished into the darkening blue, Harry was suddenly horror struck as he realised that Professor Snape had been his ultimate request to the patronus.

Snape! The man whom Harry blamed the most aside from himself for Sirius' death, the man who hated his father and whom James hated in return, the ex-Death Eater and dubious spy for the Order, the man who had called his mother 'Mudblood' in their youth, the spiteful, bitter Potions Professor who despised Harry for no apparent reason from the moment he had met him…

With a perverse chuckle Harry thought, 'Surely Prongs wouldn't do that to me!'

It was an oddly amusing idea that Prongs would retrieve Snape of all people to aid Harry, and soon the teenager forgot all about the horrifying notion, dismissing the thought entirely as a ludicrous impulse. He'd asked for others by name too, after all!

Adjusting himself once again against the hard brick wall at his back, Harry tried to make himself as comfortable as possible for his wait for help. Prongs would hopefully deliver the message in a timely fashion and Harry wouldn't have to wait in pain for much longer. He allowed himself to rest his head against the wall again and close his eyes… he truly felt wretched now!