When he finds out that Lockhart's specialty is memory charms, he feels sick, even though he's not sure why. He thinks about all the times he went to Lockhart's office for detention, all the times he remembers feeling sleepy and fuzzy and faint, how Lockhart sometimes touched the back of his neck and he didn't like it, he pulled away, and Lockhart laughed and Harry could only think that it wasn't funny. It's not funny. He can't remember anything (is there even something to remember?) and when he tries he just feels sick and scared and he can't remember. He can't remember.
He spends the whole summer not remembering. When Aunt Marge comes, it's almost a relief, that he can think about something else, focus on ignoring her, because it's easier to ignore her than to ignore himself. It's when she calls his mother a whore that he snaps, because he can remember, all of a sudden, someone else, some deeper voice, saying that word and he doesn't like it, he doesn't want it. He can't remember where or when, but when he leaves the house, with his trunk and his broom, his heart pounding, he vomits in the street, falling over with the force of his retching. The Knight Bus comes and he wipes his mouth and rides away. He feels dirty, covered in a sheen of sweat, his mouth tasting awful, his stomach still roiling. And he doesn't know why.
Professor Lupin is nice to him. Professor Lupin gives him chocolate and invites him to his office. He gives him extra lessons. But Lupin scares him, a little. He likes it when he leaves the door to his office open, when he lets Ron and Hermione sit in on his Dementor lessons. He's furious with himself. Professor Lupin knew his parents. Professor Lupin likes him, treats him different than any other teacher he's ever had. He shouldn't be scared of him. He shouldn't be scared of anybody, because there's no reason to be, he doesn't think, he doesn't remember any reason why. When he finds out about Lupin being a werewolf, he clings to that. Maybe he knew. Maybe he could just tell. And Lupin leaves, and Harry is never alone with him again, and he feels safer. Maybe.
He doesn't like being alone with Professor Moody, either, but he hardly ever is. Moody tries to help him-with the task, in class, when he almost gets caught by Snape. But sometimes he catches Moody watching him, in the Great Hall, or in class, his blue eye going up and down and after the Yule Ball, he tries to keep himself covered by desks and other people, but he knows Moody can see through anything, and it makes him uncomfortable. He's not scared, though-he doesn't get scared. At the end of the year again, after the graveyard, when he learns that Moody isn't Moody, then he knows it. He's not scared of people. He's just smart. He just knows that they're hiding something.
He just can't remember what...
Oddly enough, one of the people he's not afraid of is Snape. Snape is mean and ugly and cruel, Snape hates him, but that's all right, because he can remember this. He can see it. Because Snape isn't hiding anything. He lets everyone know how much he hates Harry, and in detentions he just sits at his desk marking things and lets Harry be at the other side of the room, he doesn't make Harry sit at the desk with him (he doesn't remember anyone making him do that, but Snape doesn't, at least). Harry disgusts him-he never tries to touch him, or be nice to him. Snape is sharp and biting and sneering, but he is always that way with Harry. He is predictable, and Harry likes that. He hates Snape, and that feels so much better than being scared and unsure and so he clings to it, he feeds it. Sometimes he feels safer around Snape than Professor Lupin, or even Sirius, and he hates that as much as he hates Snape. He hates himself sometimes too-how can he let himself be alone with Snape when being alone with Sirius, who loves him, who wants Harry to live with him, makes him check the exits and almost flinch when he touches him? After his hearing, all he can feel is relief, that he won't be left alone with Sirius forever in Grimmauld Place, where the doors all stick and lock and Sirius sometimes comes to his room at night and just watches him sleep. Snape watches him sometimes, but always with a scowl. He hates Harry, and Harry likes it that way. It's comfortable, like the Dursleys, to always know where you stand. To know that some things don't change.
The Occlumency lessons scare him, though. He doesn't like it, Snape rummaging through his mind, and he doesn't get scared, not around Snape, so why is he trembling every time he leaves? Snape is seeing everything, and Harry can't close his mind, because he can tell that there's something in there, something Harry can't find, but maybe Snape...but he doesn't want Snape to find it! He can't! He lets Snape see the Dursleys and Voldemort and his dreams, but he knows there's something else. He just doesn't know what...
When he sees the Pensieve, part of him thinks that maybe Snape found it. His stomach rolls and he almost retches, but he has to know. He leans in and it's not his memory at all. And he's disappointed and relieved, but then Snape is there, Snape is touching him, pulling his arm, and Harry is scared, and he runs, and he says he'll never go back. Snape was wild, Snape lost control, Snape wasn't predictable, and he didn't like that. He's glad Snape decided to stop the lessons. But his mind has been agitated, and the nights where he dreams about the corridor, he wakes up feeling scared, and he doesn't know WHY.
The next lesson they were meant to have was on a Monday. On Tuesday morning, Snape corners him in the hallway and snarls at him for missing his lesson. When he stammers out that he thought they were over, Snape smiles and says 'Tonight, Potter,' and stalks away and Harry is scared. Maybe Snape is hiding something. Maybe Snape got scary. He doesn't want to be alone with him, not alone in the dungeons with no one there to make sure, to help him if...
The first thing that Snape does is lock the door. Then, without even an introduction, Harry hears 'Legilimens!' and he is falling, falling-Snape is being too hard. His head feels like it is torn in two, like Snape is digging for something-he sees himself with Professor Lupin, touching his shoulder and Harry pulling away-Moody demonstrating the Imperius curse-Sirius hugging him, too tight, too tight-and then, suddenly, the terrain is unfamiliar, it's fuzzy and blurry like he's not wearing his glasses, and someone is touching him, somewhere, everywhere, and he can hear the word whore, like he heard it after Aunt Marge, and suddenly he is pushed against the door and the ground is underneath him and his forehead stings, stings like crazy, and he reaches up and there's sweat and blood, oh god, his scar-no. He scratched his forehead hard enough to break the skin, trying to pull Snape and the memory out.
He looks up at Snape, who looks shaken, and Snape reaches out and Harry can't stop himself, he flinches back, he stands up and tries to open the door and he pretends he doesn't want to cry.
He can't remember. He can't remember.
000 000 000
His express purpose in restarting the lessons was simple. He wanted Potter to know. He wanted Potter to suffer. He wanted to humiliate him, to pull out his dirty laundry. He wanted Potter to feel violated, as he had. He wanted all the memories that Potter had awoken, all the regret and pain and self hatred, he wanted them gone. And if bringing Potter back and teaching him a lesson was the only way to settle back into his semi comfortable piece of mind, than he would do it.
Dumbledore would be furious if he stopped the lessons, anyway.
Potter is shaking when he shows up, and Snape is glad. Potter has always been too mouthy, too defiant. If Snape can teach him to behave, just this once, if Snape can scare him straight, then he'll do it. For the good of the wizarding world, of course, and he was a part of that world, wasn't he?
He doesn't play around, this time. Before, he would just let the memories come, steering them here and there but never actively seeking. Now he is looking, looking for something deep and buried and humiliating, something to show the boy what's what, to teach him to respect other peoples privacy. He looks for some time the boy was scared, so he can laugh at it, so he can understand humility. But he's confused. These are all innocent memories. Lupin, giving the boy unjust praise. Moody, teaching a class-or Crouch, he supposes. The mangy cur welcoming him to Headquarters. He gives a push-this is not what he is looking for!-and suddenly a memory darts by, colored black and thick and sludgy, and Snape reaches out and pulls it into the open, demands it reveal it's secrets, and it tries.
It is corrupted. Snape had seen such things before, but never like this. It is twisted, the colors twirling together, black and red and gold and green, and being smashed and crushed and remolded every moment, a kaleidoscope-it is almost enough to make Severus sick. And if that didn't, the sound track, an obscene, slow, warped set of panting and groaning, would have. Severus listens, tries to decipher the noises, and hears one high pitched, saying 'No. Please.' And one lower, going 'Yes. Yes. Say it. Say it.' It is grotesque and vile and every inch of the memory is foul, making Severus pull out and stumble back, making him gag. And then he sees Potter.
The boys forehead is a ragged, bleeding mess. His nails have blood on them. His eyes are out of focus, and he has fallen against the door, pushing himself against it with his feet, and he is gasping for breath. Severus doesn't know what to do except try to help him up-a chair would be better, at least-but the boy lets out a shrill, terrified cry, pushes back against the door even harder.
He had wanted to violate Potter. He had wanted to humiliate him, tear his privacy from him, make him suffer. And he had done that, surely. He had succeeded, somehow. But this was no victory.
He sighed. Pinched the bridge of his nose. Backed away from Potter, slowly, watched the boys shoulders ease a little in their shaking. He grabs the Floo powder and calls for Poppy, who comes spinning from the fireplace a moment later, scolding Severus before taking steps forward. Potter. Always had to stir up something.
If he noticed the lack of venom in his thoughts, he dismissed it, and watched Madam Pomfrey try to put the pieces back together. He wasn't sure she'd be successful.
Maybe as successful as you, some little voice inside him says.