Hello!

Welcome to my second fanfic. I've had this in my head for some time, and I've decided to start this. Don't worry, Sticks, Stones, and Ice Cream Cones will be my first priority, but as that story is wrapping up, I thought it'd be rather neat to start a new one.

Actually, this is a result of my prolonged procrastination…but that's another story for another time. I've also twisted time a little bit, so there will be inconsistencies with canon.

Please enjoy, and don't forget to review! I'd love to hear what you think.

~shige

Disclaimer: The original plot, characters all belong to J.K. Rowling. I claim no right to this other than the occasional ego boost. Please note this disclaimer holds for all future chapters.

"NO!" An anguished scream tore through the air, and the emotion hung in the air for several minutes. A limp form on the bed convulsed, and only stopped when it needed to breathe. The room was dark; the only light came from the moon, streaming in through barred windows. The figure on the bed tentatively sat up, panting hard. Unconsciously, he fingered the scar on his forehead, and remembered.

It had only been days since he left his refuge. Here, he was conscious of the terrible loneliness, the dread of being discovered. There, he was safe…not from visions, but safe, nonetheless. He would be taken care of there, comforted. In this house, he would be beaten, starved, and abused. He never told anyone about it, partially out of pride and partially from misguided fears.

He had instilled the words of his teacher in long ago. After all, Severus Snape had been the only one to tell him the truth – that he was as worthless as a penny fallen into the sewer. His aunt, uncle, and his cousin had told him that his entire life. And it was true – oh, so unbearably true. Those people who told him otherwise…they meant well, but they didn't have to hide the truth from him. No, he knew it already, and nothing could change that.

If it weren't true, why did his parents leave him? There was the whole your-mother-loved-you-so-much-she-died-for-you crap, but inside, he knew that she had died so she could be reunited with his father, leaving, no, abandoning him. And there wasn't anything he could do, except keep quiet.

It was nights like these that made him wary. He could hear his cousin Dudley's snoring in the next room, effectively drowning out all other sounds. Which, as a result, prevented him from knowing what his uncle was up to. Harry shuddered. His uncle, hopefully, was passed out on the couch, dead drunk. If he was only half-drunk, and he'd heard Harry's screams…there'd be hell to pay.

Unfortunately, his uncle was only half-drunk that night, and even more unluckily, he had heard Harry's scream. At first, he passed it off for a teenager's midnight vigil (he had turned the corner the other night trying to find his house, and he found a couple PDA-ing instead). But as he thought about it, he realized that the scream had come from his own house. It couldn't have been Dudley; his boy was still snoring to high heavens. Petunia, his wife, was out of state on a visit with her old friend…which left one person. The useless, arrogant, freakish brat – Harry bloody Potter.

Vernon Dursley stormed up the stairs, eager to take out his anger on the child. To his dismay, he couldn't get into the room. The boy must have done magic. In truth, Harry had done nothing, and had no idea what commotion was happening outside his door. No, there were far more serious matters at hand. To be exact, the Death Eater's mask that had fallen onto the floor, having appeared out of nowhere.

Harry was huddled on the far side of the bed, as far as he could from the mask. There was something inherently evil about the mask, even without a master. Harry could feel it ooze out of the mask, and he inadvertently shuddered. What was it doing on the floor of his room? Unless the Death Eaters were outside waiting to kill him. He welcomed death, of that there was no question. But why toss a mask into his room? And how did they know that was his room? Oh, right, the bars. That would give it away, no problem.

It was such a lovely birthday present for his thirteenth birthday. Harry supposed he should be glad that someone had remembered, flattered, even. No one had ever given him a gift before…a birthday gift anyways. He had received Christmas gifts at Hogwarts, but that was about it. Come summer, everyone forgot about him – which was the way it should be. Gingerly, Harry reached over the side of the bed with a part of a lacrosse stick Dudley had broken. He quickly flipped the mask, curious to see what was underneath. There was nothing. To be exact, nothing other than the mask. But the drawing inscribed on it made him breathless. Inside etched on the mask… was an exact rendition of a lily.

********

Interestingly enough, Minerva McGonagall was not spending her evening with Albus Dumbledore, her long time soulmate. She was curled up on the couch, perusing old letters, dabbing a tear for some, and bursting out in laughter at others. One particular letter drew her into the past, and she was catapulted into old memories.

Dear Professor,

What you saw the other day…Please, I beg of you, keep it to yourself. James and I have discussed it thoroughly, and believe it is for the best. I know, I haven't been the best of daughters…but please, keep this quiet for my sake. I want this to be over soon, so I can finally reveal the truth. But for now, until He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is dead, we can do nothing. Please, Mother, for my sake?

Love,

Lily McGonagall

Lily wasn't Minerva's biological child. No, rather, she was her child in spirit…and had formally adopted her when her parents had died tragically in a car crash. Lily's sister, Petunia, had refused to be adopted by a magical person, and had been given over to the system. It wasn't until Lily's death that they had found her; after all, though Minerva might be the grandmother, she wasn't true blood. And so she had willingly given up the boy to her daughter's sister, hoping that he would be safe. She saw the child every so often in her Animagus form. Harry had seemed all right, though sometimes he sported bruises. She, of course, had told Albus, but he had gravely told her that there was no solution for it. Harry must stay at the Dursleys'.

She trusted Albus, no doubt about it. But yet, there was something nudging her at the back of her brain. It was quite odd…she hadn't had such a reaction from her sixth sense in a while. Oh well, she would think about it after she finished sorting the letters.

********

Severus Snape was in his potions lab, and he was not happy. No, not even his usual snarky attitude compared with this today. His mood may have been possibly been due to the Headmaster and the Deputy Headmaster's need to incessantly check up on him for the past few hours. He had blown up three pewter cauldrons (thank God they weren't gold!) and destroyed at least a 100 Galleons worth of potions ingredients. The only bright side he could see at the moment was the fact that the replacement cost wouldn't come out of his own pocket; after all, he had been brewing for the school. On the other hand, he really had to do something about their annoying habits.

He smirked. They wouldn't admit it, but they were in love. It was so obvious. On several occasions, Severus had caught the Headmaster and Professor McGonagall holding hands. When he coughed to announce his presence…how high they had jumped! It was tremendously fun to torment the two of them; they were as good as tormenting the Gryffindors or the Hufflepuffs. Yes, he schemed, he must do something about it. An evil smirk contorted his face as he considered his tormentors' fates. It was too bad he couldn't do anything permanent to his surrogate father.

He hadn't always been this way, nasty and cold. In the past, he had a heart, loving, cherishing those around him. But his beloved's betrayal and death had changed him. Like Stalin, Severus's heart had turned to stone after Lily Evans's death. Yes, Evans. Not Snape, because he had divorced her, and not Potter…because he refused to acknowledge that scum's presence. In fact, until she died he had harboured a hope that she might still come back to him. But now…he still loved her, yes, but all other emotion was void in him, no matter how much his father – the Headmaster – tried to pull them out of him.

But soon would come a time when his mask would slowly break, cracking, tearing little by little, until the sunrise could be seen again.