uDisclaimer:/u I don't own Harry Potter or anything to do with Harry Potter. That's all JKRowling's and Warner Brothers' and whoever else's. I wish I did own Harry Potter because then I'd be rich and not scrounging for money to pay for university, which starts next week...

uA/N:/u This is not a terribly happy fic, although it has somewhat of a happy ending. There is a character death in this fic, and it is somewhat graphic. There is abuse to a minor in this fic, although not sexual abuse. But still, physical and emotional abuse is just as bad. I simply ask that if you know someone who is being abused (mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, sexually, or in other way), please contact authorities. It's usually too hard for the abused to get help themselves.

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Once again, he was sitting in the office surrounded by knickknacks and doodads and thingamajigs. Once again, he was listening as he was castigated and rebuked. Once again, he wasn't really paying attention. He was sure he would figure out what he'd "done wrong" this time at a later date. Once again, he keep his eye rolls and sighs to himself. Once again, he nodded or made some agreeing noise so it appeared as if he were paying attention. Once again–

"Damn it, Severus! Are you even listening to me?!"

Well that got his attention. Albus almost never cursed. It was too plebeian, too childish, too simpleminded for the Supreme Mugwump. For a moment, he just stared at the headmaster with eyes wide and mouth agape. Albus continued to rant, both from his original dressing down and from this new infraction. Once again, Severus wasn't quite paying attention. Until one word made him sit up a little straighter and take notice.

"-anything else, then do it for her. She's always been a friend to you. The moment she married James, you dropped her out of your life completely, as if he'd infected her. Even when she had her child, little Harry, you refused to have anything to do with her." Albus paused for a moment with a sigh. "Lily was your best friend as a child. Was marrying James really so horrible that you had to cut her from your life?"

"What Lily did was betray me. She married the man who made my life here as a child miserable," Severus spat. "I think it low and despicable that you would try to use her against me in this argument. Even for you."

Both men just stared at one another for several minutes.

"Go see Harry, Severus. Go when James is at work, if you must. I'll come with you if you want."

"There's a snowball's chance in hell, Albus. A snowball's chance," Severus hissed. Then he stood, pivoted on his heel, and stalked from the room with his trademark sneer and whirl of his robes. He would not be schemed into doing anything he did not wish to do of his own free will. Even if was to see Lily and her child.

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The next several years of his life would find him facing many trials. Not normal trials, not even remarkable hardships. It was a hard life for him, one that almost no one thought was acceptable. Abuse on many levels, in many forms. Not from strangers or burglars; not because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, or because he 'deserved it' by someone's distorted views of reality. Being hit, being thrown around, being smacked, being punched, being kicked. And that was just the physical abuse from his cousin. Add in the physical abuse from his aunt and uncle, and the emotional abuse...

Harry Potter was not a normal child.

He watched, when he was just a year and a half old, as the most evil wizard of the time entered his nursery, killed his mother with just two words, and then tried to kill him with the same two words. It didn't work, seeing as how he was older and living with his aunt and uncle. It did hurt though, he remembered that much. The pain, the noise, and the frightening light that filled his room haunted his nightmares almost every night.

He often woke in a pool of sweat, panting as he tried to catch his bearings. It always took several moments in the dark, small space that was his bedroom. He learned a while ago that if he cried out, things would only be worse for him. What he wouldn't give for a hug or a simple reassurance. Just once... Just for a moment...

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The first day he used the stove, he burned himself, burned the food, broke a plate, and spilled the ketchup. And he received a spanking that left him black and blue and unable to sit for three days straight. The kids at school teased him more than usual, and Dudley got his gang to beat him up on the playground at primary. When the teacher came around the corner and caught the scene, Dudley threw himself on the ground and claimed, in a teary voice, that Harry had twisted his arm because he wanted the ball Dudley had been playing with.

Harry's recess was taken away for a week, his aunt and uncle were called, and Dudley was given a lolly. Once home, Uncle Vernon walloped him again, Aunt Petunia smacked his hands with her wooden spoon, and he was sent to his bedroom with no supper for the week. It wasn't horrible. He'd learned a long time ago that if he drank just enough water before leaving school and before bed, his stomach wouldn't hurt and cramp so much. On the other hand, if he drank too much or too fast, he'd make himself sick. Then he'd get in more trouble from his aunt and uncle.

He learned the rules very quickly. Sometimes, it took breaking them to learn them. And sometimes, they were changed without him knowing. Like the one about questions. That was one of the first rules he learned: no questions. And the one about being outside. That one got changed when he was old enough to use the old-fashioned push mower. It didn't have a motor, so he wasn't in danger of harming himself from that. But the blades were still sharp. He knew they were very sharp, indeed.

There were different rules for each person, his aunt and his uncle and his cousin, and there were some rules that were made for all three of them, or only two of them, or whatever. Like, no questions was for all three of them. One rule that was for his aunt and uncle mostly was that Harry had to do whatever they said. He only followed that rule for Dudley if his aunt and uncle weren't around because Dudley couldn't boss Harry when they were. And when there were people over, Harry was to stay in his room and be absolutely silent. No one else was supposed to know he was even there.

Yes, the rules were very important.

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Times changed. Fashions changed. Seasons changed. Even Uncle Vernon's car changed. But the rules? No, the rules never changed. Maybe they were added onto, but never changed. He still couldn't ask questions, still had to be quiet, still had to do what his aunt and uncle said. Like, now he used the push mower with the motor on it when mowing the lawns, and the weed eater. But if he ruined the rose bushes or any of the plants Aunt Petunia had planted (or had a professional plant), he was in for a beating.

That was another thing that changed: his punishments. He was older now, old enough to go to real school. But he didn't. No one was allowed to know he existed. And if someone did find out he existed, they were told he went to St. Brutus' Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys. He didn't like people thinking he was a criminal, but he knew better than to contradict his aunt or uncle. He was beaten when he got back inside the house anyways for letting someone see him. As for his punishments, he was beaten instead of spanked now. Spankings were for little children. He was seven. He was a big boy.

He cooked and cleaned and did the yard work and did the house work and washed the car and picked up after Dudley and anything else his aunt wanted him to do throughout the day on top of his uncle's list of chores. Those were given each morning after Harry cooked breakfast and they ate it. Not Harry, of course. Just his aunt, uncle, and cousin. Once they were done and Harry was clearing their dishes to wash them and dry them and put them away, his uncle would give him the lecture about behaving and the consequences of not obeying, the list of chores to be done, and the consequences should he not finish the list.

Sometimes Uncle Vernon used the same consequences: a week without supper, no washings for a month, working outside all winter, beatings, canings, and the like. Sometimes he came up with new ones: thrashings with the vacuum cord, sleeping outside on the porch like a dog, being sold off into little boy slavery. Harry wasn't sure why anyone would want little boys as slaves. Harry was useful doing chores and the likes, but other than that?

It didn't really matter. Harry never finished the list iand/i what Aunt Petunia added on randomly throughout the day. He was always cuffed upside the head and smacked on the hands with her wooden spoon if something wasn't just right to her exact specifications. Then Dudley would come home from school and complain that Harry had somehow messed something up at school for him. Well, Aunt Petunia would take the wooden spoon to his bottom for that, and promise his uncle would give him better when he got home.

If anything happened, like a power outage or a weird rumor at Uncle Vernon's work, he was severely punished for that. He didn't really understand these instances, but he knew better than to ask about them.

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The day the social worker showed up at the house was the worst Harry could remember. It was an April afternoon when Harry was ten years old. He'd been working outside since his uncle had left for work as almost all of his chores were outside things his aunt and uncle wanted done. Things like mowing, weeding, watering, washing windows and the walkway, cleaning the garage and the shed out, and various other little things. However, he wasn't allowed lunch until it was all done, and (as previously mentioned) he never got the whole list done before his uncle got home.

But on this particularly sunny and hot day in April when Harry was ten years old, Harry had to stop working when he was about two-thirds of the way done. He'd snuck water while watering the plants (there were exact specifications as to how much water each plant got) and when cleaning the walkways, but food was still a necessity for the young boy. He'd had to stop while watering the plants simply because a woman dressed in a business jacket and skirt came up to him in the yard.

Another rule: never talk to anyone. Ever. Period. End of story.

But she kept asking him questions. About how he was treated, how he liked his school, how his cousin played with him. At first, he was too confused to answer any questions. Then it didn't matter, because he quickly remembered the rule about talking to strangers. iThen/i it didn't matter because Aunt Petunia came outside hollering about why the water wasn't running. As soon as she saw the woman in the business jacket and skirt, she clammed up though. She sent Harry inside, turned on the charm, and invited the woman into the house for tea.

Harry listened from the slats in his door as the woman went from nice to imposing in about a minute. Aunt Petunia followed suit, giving short answers in a tone she rarely used for anyone but Harry himself. As soon as she was able, she got the woman out of her house. Then she yanked Harry out of his bedroom, walloped him with her wooden spoon until ishe/i was aching, and finally sent Harry outside to finish his chores with the threat of his uncle trailing behind him.

And when Uncle Vernon heard the story later that night...

Harry didn't do chores for the next week, because Harry couldn't walk.

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If he'd thought the woman social worker was a bad incident, nothing topped the letters that came a few months later. He had finally gotten the limp in his right leg to go away from the broken ankle and two toes he'd had, as well as the broken right hand, left wrist, and four ribs. Maybe. He wasn't terribly sure just how many ribs were broken, or if they were broken and not just cracked. Or whatever.

The letters. He'd been cooking breakfast one morning in July, as usual, when he came to spot that he was able to leave the food for a moment to run and fetch the mail for Uncle Vernon. As he sorted the items, bills in the back with personal mail in the front, he noticed there was a letter addressed to ihim/i. He inever/i received mail. He handed the mail to his uncle, took his letter to the stove, and continued to cook the food.

After a few moments, he came to another spot in the cooking where he could pause long enough to read his letter. There was no return address, and it didn't come in a normal envelope like mail should. As he was perusing it and getting ready to lift the flap in the back, his cousin saw him and told Uncle Vernon about the letter. It was snatched out of his hands before he could blink as they all made fun of him because there was no one alive who could possibly care enough to send ihim/i a letter.

However, once his aunt and uncle looked a the weird, wax seal on the back with the capital letter 'H' in the middle of it, they turned milky white and dismissed him and Dudley from the room immediately. They'd never really yelled at Dudley like that before, and it confused him as much as it confused Harry! Harry wasn't an idiot though; he went straight to his room and sat there, waiting for judgment to be passed on how he should be punished for this letter.

It was fairly simple: no supper for the week, extra chores to be completed, a bit of a thrashing with Uncle Vernon's belt, and a letter written to the sender of the letter informing them that he, Harry, would not be attending ithat/i school. He didn't know what school his uncle spoke of or how the letter would get to the sender as there was no return address on the envelope, but Harry wasn't going to argue. He wrote the letter, being precise and clear:

centeriTo Whom It May Concern,

I, Harry James Potter, will not be attending your school this coming September.


Harry James Potter/i/center

"That should clear things up nicely," his aunt had said. Harry didn't know what was to become of the letter addressed to him or the letter he'd written; his uncle took care of them both. And Harry put it from his mind as his uncle removed his belt to thrash Harry with.

But the next morning, there was another letter. Harry stayed by the door to read it this time. It was addressed to him, in his bedroom! Clear as day it read 'The Cupboard under the Stairs'. That was his bedroom alright. But how did this person know where he slept?! He looked around as if he might spot the spy looking at him right then and there in the house, but of course he didn't. When he took too long getting the morning post, his uncle came looking for him. He was cuffed upside the head for almost letting the food burn. Then he was sent to his room when his uncle saw the letter.

Later that evening, Harry was to write another letter insisting that he did not want to go to the school the letter talked about and that no more letters needed to be sent. But the next morning, there was another letter with the morning post. His aunt convinced his uncle to open the letter and read it to see exactly what it was about. He even read it aloud for Harry and Dudley's benefits, although they were crouching at the kitchen door in the hallway trying to listen in.

centeriDear Mister Potter,

Regardless of what you seem to be implying, we must

insist you arrive at Hogwarts on the correct day at the

correct time by the correct means. It is not only your

privilege to attend this fine institution, but your right.

You are born of two powerful people, Mr. Potter, and are

sure to be powerful yourself. You need to be trained and

educated properly, and you can receive the best education

only at Hogwarts.


Headmaster Albus Dumbledore

(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock,

Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. Of Wizards)/i/center

There was a rustling of papers as his uncle moved things around, and then continued reading.

centeriDear Mister Potter,

We are please to inform you that you have been accepted at

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find

enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.

Term begins on September 1. We await your owl by no

later than July 31.

Yours sincerely,

Minerva McGonagall

Deputy Headmistress/i/center

His aunt and uncle discussed how to get it through 'those' people's thick heads that he would not be attending their freaky school. They talked about hiring a detective and how 'those' people were watching the house and how maybe they should take a holiday so no one could find him. They'd return in time for Dudley to start at Smeltings on September 1. Uncle Vernon decided that, for the time being, they'd just move things around so that if 'those' people iwere/i watching the house, they'd be a bit happier with the arrangements. There was no need to get drastic just yet.

And so Harry was moved into Dudley's toy room. Dudley threw a big fuss, but Harry slept on the bed in Dudley's toy room. If anyone had bothered to ask Harry, which of course no one did, he'd tell them that he was much happier in his own bedroom and that sleeping in Dudley's toy room was actually quite scary. It was much bigger, and there was a tree right outside the window that scratched at the pane when the wind blew. He lay awake all night waiting for the monsters to get him and eat him like Dudley said they would to little boys who slept in places they ought not be.

He spent the whole night thinking about what the letter had said, since he couldn't sleep. Headmaster and Headmistress? Those were terms rarely used except in the expensive schools. There was no way his aunt and uncle would let him go to an expensive school that Dudley couldn't go to; they wouldn't waste the money. Besides, he hadn't been in school since primary! He didn't know anything! They'd kick him out. And there were other weird words too: witchcraft, wizardry, hog warts. He didn't know hogs got warts, but he definitely thought it was a stupid thing to name a school after.

But that didn't help. His uncle got the mail that morning. There were itwo/i letters the next day. The only change was the address for Harry: the smallest bedroom, 4 Privet Drive. His uncle about turned purple in anger. Again, they sent Dudley and Harry out of the kitchen. Out of habit, Harry went to his bedroom. His ioriginal/i bedroom. His uncle thrashed him good when he went upstairs looking for him in Dudley's toy room and couldn't find him. Then he thrashed him for getting more letters. Then he thrashed him because he felt like it.

Uncle Vernon started making plans with Aunt Petunia on what they were going to do. First, he went out to the shed and brought back a hammer, some nails, and some planks of wood. Once he boarded up the mail slot so no letters could get through. But the next day, the letters came in some very different ways. There were lots of letters, and they came from inside the eggs and were pushed under the door since they couldn't get in the mail slot. Uncle Vernon tried to find someone to complain to at the dairy or the store the eggs had come from while Aunt Petunia just used the food processor to destroy the letters and the eggs.

The next morning, all seemed calm. Harry was cooking breakfast while his aunt, uncle, and cousin sat at the table. His uncle was actually smiling. It took Harry a few minutes, but he finally realized why. It was Sunday. No post on Sunday. He was never going to be able to read his letter for himself, not that he could actually read of course. But as he thought this, there was a rumbling in the flue. All four occupants turned to look at the fireplace as dozens of birds, no! they were owls!, came down the chimney and into the house, sending Aunt Petunia running and screaming. Harry tried to catch an owl because they were all carrying letters attached to their legs, but Uncle Vernon wrestled him to the ground and told everyone to pack bags because they were leaving.

They traveled from place to place, staying in hotels, cabins, motels, homes for rent, and anywhere else Uncle Vernon could find on short notice. And every morning, it was the same. More owls with letters attached to their legs trying to deliver them to Harry. As soon as he saw them, he ushered everyone back into the car where they drove some more until finding another place to sleep for the night. Dudley complained about missing his favorite telly show one Monday evening as Uncle Vernon booked a night on a little shack way out at sea. It was almost impossible to see from the shore.

But that's not what concerned Harry. If it was Monday, that meant that the next day was his birthday. He'd be 11. iAnd/i the letters had said they needed a reply by July 31. He wanted his questions answered, but he knew better than to ask his aunt or uncle. It looked as if they'd never be answered now. There was one bedroom in the shack, which his aunt and uncle took for the night. The couch was quickly claimed by Dudley. So he was left with a single blanket on the floor. He counted down the minutes on Dudley's watch until he turned 11 officially. He even drew a cake with candles in the dust and blew them out at midnight after making his wish.

As soon as he did, there was a great booming sound at the door to the shack. His uncle came from the bedroom with a shotgun as a giant of a man entered the shack. A lot happened all at once then. The shotgun was bent, his cousin grew a curly pig tail with a point from the giant's umbrella, Harry finally got his letter and was allowed to ask questions, and so much more. In the morning, he went with the giant to a magical shopping district to get his school supplies.

He got books and a real magic wand and robes and a great big room full of gold all for him and an owl as a present from the giant, whose name was Hagrid. His first real friend. There were downsides too, however. There were crowds of people who wanted to say hello to him and shake his hand and hug him and get his autograph. They mostly scared him, really. He didn't like large crowds, or even small crowds. Luckily, Hagrid chased most of them off. He also met another boy who was going to Hogwarts who was very rude and reminded him of Aunt Petunia and Dudley all rolled into one. He made fun of poor people and Hagrid and people who knew nothing of magic. Harry didn't like him at all.

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Thankfully, he was allowed to go to this school on the condition that he inever/i mention anything about how things were done at the house. His uncle dropped him off at the train station specified, laughing as he sped away. Harry shyly asked a man in uniform how to get to Platform 9 ¾. The man laughed and then berated Harry for being a snot-nosed little brat who was too cheeky for his own good. Luckily, a woman asked if he was trying to get to the platform and showed him how it worked. That was when he made his second real friend: Ron Weasley.

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School was no walk in the park. He wasn't smart enough to know anything besides his letters and numbers and some basic reading skills. He knew how to work, but that wasn't required here. He was so lost and confused. And scared. There were so many people, and so many new things he didn't understand. Then he'd had a feast to eat, literally! He was afraid to eat, not knowing the rules of this new place. He'd stuck to water and a few rolls since the other kids were suspicious of his not eating, but then went to bed straight away once they reached the dorms.

He had a huge bed all to himself! There were four other boys in the room, but he had a bed with proper linens and curtains for privacy all to himself. It was... so big! He went to bed on top of the bed until he heard the deep breathing and snores from the other four boys. Then he snuck a simple blanket and a pillow under the bed where he finally fell asleep.

Classes were a nightmare. He barely knew how to write his name, much less how to hold his wand or weigh ingredients or where the greenhouses were. Most teachers seemed to be upset with him over his lack of work completion in class and with homework. How was he supposed to tell them he couldn't read the books? How was he supposed to tell them that he felt safer sleeping under his bed and scrubbing the walls then eating breakfast in the Great Hall and learning in classes?

The worst was Potions. It not only required reading and writing, but maths and knowledge of magical things. He knew none of those! And, the teacher hated him because he was famous. He didn't know why he famous, but apparently he was. Professor Snape was a tall, dark, foreboding man who liked to pick on Harry because he always messed up and didn't know the answers. The blonde boy from the robe shop was there, and Harry still didn't like him.

One day, in Potions, Professor Snape was making fun of Harry as he asked him question after question that Harry couldn't answer until Harry began to tear up. That provoked more insults and taunts until the tears were streaming down his face and Harry couldn't stand it anymore. He stood and ran out of the room, not caring where he was going just as long as it was away from the mean teacher. He didn't care when he fell up the stairs or ran into walls or went through ghosts that were floating by. He finally fell into a boys' bathroom somewhere near the Great Hall where he hid in a corner near the sinks and cried in peace.

It was several hours later that Professor Snape found him. And berated and taunted him all the more. He was meaner and crueler than he had been in class to the point that Harry just shut down. Sometimes he would do that with his aunt and uncle. When things were so bad and it hurt so much, Harry just went away. He'd come back eventually, and he'd deal with the problems then. Right then, however, it hurt too much to deal with. So Harry went away. When he did come back to himself, he was standing in the bathroom in the Gryffindor Tower for the first year boys. He shook his head and looked around, trying to figure out just when and where he was.

When he realized that he was alone and everyone else was still in classes, he gave a sigh of relief. But then the pain came back. It didn't usually happen this way, if only because his uncle beat him after he went away in his head. So when he 'woke up', he was concentrating on the physical pain. There was no physical pain. It was all emotional and mental. He ran each insult the professor had delivered through his head time and time again until suddenly there was physical pain to distract him.

He looked down. He had a razor blade in his hand from Seamus' toiletries bag. And there, on his left forearm, was a thin red line where he'd cut himself. Although he was appalled that he'd just cut himself on purpose, the mental pain went away and he could concentrate on the physical pain he'd caused. It only took a few minutes for the emotional pain to return, however, and he cut his arm again to distract his mind. It took several more cuts before the mental pain was gone for good. For now, at least.

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All year long, Harry would sneak into bathrooms and alcoves before and after Potions classes to cut his arms and legs and even his stomach if a class was very, very bad to distract his mind from the emotional pain Professor Snape would or had dealt him that day. Every so often, he'd do the same for other classes, but it was really only Professor Snape's classes. In his Defense Against the Dark Arts, he had a physical pain to distract his mind, so he wasn't worried about that class.

When Christmas hols came around, he signed up to stay at the school instead of going back to his aunt and uncle's house. He would just be put in his bedroom or Dudley's toy room. Why do that when he could stay at Hogwarts? Unfortunately, his head of house and Transfigurations professor, Professor McGonagall, took the opportunity to question him on his appalling classwork and inattentiveness. He tried his best to explain things to her, but she thought he was lying to her and ended up giving him detentions with Professor Snape because of it.

All Christmas break, he spent mornings, afternoons, and evenings with the Potions Professor cleaning, gutting, scrubbing, sorting, and doing whatever else the professor told him to do. He was usually okay with detentions as they involved, for the main part, cleaning. That was something he was good at. But Professor Snape added a more than healthy amount of sarcasm and insults to his detentions. Harry had started cutting his arms and legs and stomach multiple times each day throughout the Christmas hols to escape the mental pain the detentions and Professor Snape caused.

One day, it became too much. Instead of going to lunch, he went to the boys' bathroom outside the Great Hall, took out the razor blade he'd taken to carrying on his person at all times now, and cut himself in several places very deeply. He'd been told all his life by his aunt and uncle that his parents died in a car crash because his father was drunk. Professor Snape liked to gloat that his parents had been murdered by an evil wizard that their best friend had betrayed them to and that, if that best friend weren't locked away in Wizard prison, he'd be after Harry as well.

So he cut and cut and cut, until there was no pain at all. No mental pain, and no physical pain. It was several minutes later that he realized he may have cut a little too deep and permanently injured himself, but his head hurt a little and he was very tired. Professor Snape would be very mad at him, indeed, when he didn't return to his detention.

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A day and a half later, Harry Potter's body was found slumped against the wall by the sinks in the boys' loo by the Great Hall, a pool of dried blood all around him from various, deep cut marks on his body. In his right hand, a simple razor blade was stuck to his fingers because of dried blood. His body was cold and well into the stages of rigor mortis. It was Professor Flitwick that had found him, and the poor, little dwarf (no pun intended) was beside himself as he tried to tell the other professors what he'd seen in the boys' loo.

Soon, the bathroom was crowded with professors and Aurors, trying to find out what exactly had happened to the Boy-Who-Lived, and when. Just as they were getting ready to move the body, a ghost floated through the wall and froze in the air at all the people looking at him. Harry Potter's Ghost was just as shy as the real boy had been. About ten adults started asking questions all at once, but Harry Potter's Ghost just looked at them in confusion. How could anyone understand ten people talking at once?

Ironically, it was Professor Snape that got everyone to be quiet while he asked questions one at a time for Harry Potter's Ghost to answer. And he did answer every one of them. How scared and shy he was, and why. How he didn't know how to write or read just about anything, or do his maths. How he knew nothing of the Wizarding World before Hagrid had burst into the shack on the rock in the sea on Harry's eleventh birthday a mere few months prior. How he was a house elf at his house in Little Whinging, Surrey. How everyone had lied to him until he came to this school. How Professor Snape had treated him, and how he started cutting the skin on his arms and legs and stomach to escape the mental pain the professor caused him. How the detention two days prior was so horrible that he cut so much and so deep that he finally fell asleep and woke up as a ghost.

Harry Potter's Ghost watched as people apologized to him and tried to explain how things had all gone wrong ten years ago when Headmaster Dumbledore had placed him on the doorstep of his aunt and uncle's house... But it didn't really seem to matter anymore. He was a ghost, and he was free to wonder Hogwarts without taking classes all he wanted. And he never had to return to his aunt and uncle's house again.

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He fell back into his chair, causing it to scrape against the stone floor for a second. He was dazed and confused and couldn't quite see correctly. His head was spinning as he tried to think. That made things worse, so he tried inot/i to think. But a voice made his fast-oncoming migraine blossom into a full-blown migraine.

"And that's just one possibility, Severus," Dumbeldore said clearly. He knew the young professor would have a pounding headache, but this was more important than the man's pride. "That spell is meant to show you a possible outcome of a decision. The more times I cast it, the more possibilities you see. I set it to show one of the worst so you could see what effects your choices incur. Every outcome it shows is completely within the realm of reality and possibility. Severus? What did you see?"

Severus, still dazed, started to cry. Silently, mind you, as he'd been taught from a very young age from his Muggle father who hated everything Magical. That included his son, Severus. "He killed himself," he whispered. It was too quiet for Albus' ears, for he asked Severus to repeat his words. "He ikilled/i himself, Albus. He used a Muggle razor blade to slash up his limbs until one day he cut too much and too deep and bled out." He raised his eyes to meet the headmaster's without blinking, though tears ran down his face. "He was eleven. It was just before his first Christmas here at Hogwarts."

Albus was dumbfounded and floored. Such a horrible outcome from Severus refusing to visit the child? How could that be?! "What–? How–? Why would he do such a thing?"

The young Potions Professor did look away at this question, unable to meet his mentor's eyes. "Because of me," he answered solemnly. "His aunt and uncle were abusive after his parents were murdered. He didn't go to school, so he was very far behind all the other children. He was claustrophobic and afraid of people in general. I berated him in class until he was given detentions with me over Christmas hols his first year. They were so horrible, he killed himself. We found his body two days later, and got answers from his ghost. All because I wouldn't visit him?" he whispered, more tears falling.

"Severus, remember, it's just a possible outcome."

Severus' head whipped up. "And how many more are there?! What others could you show me?! Could he become the next Dark Lord? Could he grow up happy and safe with Lily and Potter with eight brothers and sisters? Could he be lost on the streets? Could he win the lottery? Could he be taught to hate me as much as Potter does? How many other tragedies could you show me with that little spell of yours?!" He took a breath and looked away again. "Just show me where they are instead, please."

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Severus met with Lily and James, and asked to bury the hatchet so he could visit more often. While James was cautious and wary, Lily was so very happy. She had Severus over two and three times a week to see Harry and just chat. Sometimes he stayed for dinner, and even babysat Harry a few times so James and Lily could go out.

When the Potters were betrayed by their Secret Keeper, custody of Harry was given to Severus as a secret document stated. James and Lily had filled it out and filed it mere weeks prior to their murders since all three of their friends were being considered as the spy for He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

Severus adopted and raised Harry properly, once he gained custody. He taught Harry both Muggle and Wizarding histories and cultures and customs. He taught him to read and write and his maths. He sent him to Muggle grade school until it was time to start at Hogwarts, and praised him often. He made sure he knew his real parents and what had happened to them, but he also made sure that Harry knew that he was still loved even if his real parents weren't there anymore.

It was everything Severus never had as a child, and everything Harry deserved.

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uA/N:/u Don't ask where this came from, because I don't know. The only thing I can say is that it's very angsty because I wrote it yesterday, January 5, 2010. It's my mother's birthday, but she died in July of 2009. So it was her first birthday I haven't talked to her since she died. I sat at home eating ice cream all day, and finally started writing. In one sitting, I wrote this whole ficlet. It took me until 1:30am this morning (January 6), but I finished it. Then I promptly fell back asleep. So, let me know what you think. Please, no flames. Constructive criticism is always welcome. Thank-you. ib-dpa06-/b/i