Summary: Winter has come again and all seems well in the castle. Christmas is all but around the corner. And even Snape seems more...approachable. But is it really? Is it all too good to be true? What secrets does the castle hide? And what is the enigma of The-Boy-Who-Lived?(Edited recently) Warning; Self Harm!Abusive Dursleys!Some light character bashing!Alternate Universe!
Disclaimer: I own nothing, nada, zilch of anything you may recognise from J.K.'s world!
A/N: This is a short fic that just popped into my head as we currently are getting heavy snow. It will only be about 5 chapters long. Hope you enjoy and please leave a review, even if it's only a word long
Wisps of snow swirled through the air a testament to the early winter snow that had arrived. People could be seen, noses red, cheeks rosy, and wrapped up in the many layers their mothers insisted on, enjoying the snow. Snowmen littered the grounds, but not only that. Magic was a wonderful thing and so sculptured fortresses and castles could be seen, as well as some of the more fantastical creatures. Laughter floated through the air and even the Professor's had small lingering smiles on their faces, the student's joy was infectious. Christmas was in the wind the swept through the grounds. Huge 12 ft. Christmas trees were to be seen around the castle. Christmas fairies could be seen twinkling everywhere, spreading their Christmas dust. Holly and mistletoe sprung up upon the unsuspected and there was a constant supply of cookies and warm milk for those who wanted. Even Professor Snape seemed almost humane.
But one boy sat huddled in a baggy coat two sizes too big for him huddled up against a tree staring across at the lake. He was hidden in the shadows, so no one bothered him or noticed how his lips were blue from the cold and his body was shaking with light trembles barely noticeable in the baggy garments he wore. His startling emerald eyes were glazed, watching as his consciousness forced his nightmares into his reality. His messy inky black hair was frozen and small icicles had formed on the ends, weighing it down. The sun was setting slowly, casting shades of red, orange and yellow upon him and forming rainbows as they refracted through the ice crystals. It was clear to anyone who was looking that he had been there long enough to seriously affect his health. Unfortunately, no one was looking. No one noticed the small waif like boy's absence. Just like no one had noticed the slow state of depression taken hold of him and how withdrawn he had become the previous months since he had come back from the summer holidays. No, no one had noticed except for one.
P&S P&S P&S P&S P&S
The great hall was filled with noise, full of merry students enjoying their dinner. There was raucous laughter heard from the Gryffindor table, cuddly, overly emotional students at the Hufflepuff area. The Ravenclaws were more relaxed than ever seen with their noses out of their books and even the Slytherins had small, if tense smiles on their faces. The Professors seemed to be basking in the lack of house rivalry for once.
However, one pair of obsidian eyes scanned the hall constantly searching for a glimpse of messy hair, or a flash of emerald eyes. He was well aware of the isolation the boy had drawn into the past months, perhaps more so than the others. He knew that Granger and Weasley had only eyes for themselves and that their close friendship with the Boy-Who -Lived had dissolved to a mere passing acquaintance. He knew that since his spying duties had been discovered he had been much more relaxed and that the students now saw him with respect rather than fear, though there would still be a few who would be scarred by his demeanour, such as Longbottom. But that's couldn't be helped now and all he could do was maintain a healthy distance, trying to help the clumsy boy. But Potter, he had always, even with his then dislike of the boy and his "other" profession tried to look out for the boy. He knew from the moment the child had stepped foot into the great hall, he would cause him great heartache. And Merlin above he didn't know how right he was. But now, he had to admit, he was very worried, though he didn't show it. He was a master of Masks and he wore many to hide his true feelings. But the boy had sunk into an apathetic state, not responding too much, and not even the other Professors had noticed, not his dorm mates, not his supposed friends. And Snape could not help when a small worried frown graced his face as he looked on when the child didn't respond emotionally to anything. It was like he had shut down. Apart from Snape, Poppy Pomphrey was the other who noticed the state the boy was falling in. She had approached him continuously but he had always managed to evade her clutches, no matter what she had tried, short of tying him down. And ever perceptive as Poppy was, she had seen past Snape's masks, as per usual and came to him about her worries, seeing he was in the same situation as herself. He was fading and only Poppy and Snape could see it.
With a sigh he quickly and quietly left the table,rubbing his temples from the onset of a blinding headache that only Potter could cause, his dark green robes flaring out behind him. Despite him now being able to act however he wished, he didn't like to admit it but he had a flair for dramatics and though he had certainly cleaned up his appearance, his hair was no longer lank and greasy and it was pulled back from his face. He still favoured dark colours, though he varied it and yes, he picked those with the best billowing effect. He was no longer the greasy bat of the dungeons, but a sharp and imposing authority figure that commanded respect.
Once in the entrance hall, he almost lost the calm composure he pertained, as a horrible constricting feeling gripped his chest. Something wasn't right and like always, he knew it had to do with Potter. With a silent Patronus to Poppy, he told her to be on "High" Alert, which she knew as to " be ready for Potter", and he began his search. He swept the castle from top to bottom, Astronomy Tower, Kitchens, room of requirement and he even ventured in the hideous Gryffindor dorms. He came out shaking, composure totally collapsing once free from them. So much red! But Potter was not to be found. Students had retired to their common rooms at this stage, curfew was almost upon them and it was dark and no Potter. The feeling in his chest tightened, as it had done steadily for the past hour. He knew he was now racing against the clock. Something had happened to Potter and it was slowly killing him. Merlin blast it!
He had a theory that these chest pains were linked to the vow he had given Lily Potter to protect her son. He had gotten them every last time Potter's life was in danger and needless to say, they were a constant nuisance with the fact that trouble seemed to stalk him. Hence, his constant frustration with the boy for getting himself into those situations. He would never admit to himself that he was actually scared for the child rather than angry at him. He winced; a particularly painful spasm clenched his heart. He stopped to catch his breath. Time was running out. He needed to find the boy NOW! He was starting to panic, which was so unlike the Snape everyone knew. He wasn't one to panic and here he was loosing his head. He needed to take a few breaths and think calmly. He wasn't anywhere in the castle, so ... that left the grounds! He sprinted towards the entrance hall; skidding to a halt in front of the heavy wooden doors and flinging them open, without any care for the magical wards that had been placed upon them by Dumbledore himself. He tore through them, like they were a first year's abysmal potion's assignment.
Once outside he shivered immediately. The air was sharp and the cold permeated right to his very bones. It wasn't snowing, but it was knee deep in places making it awkward to traverse through. Where would that infernal child be? He hoped that he wasn't out here all day, but a small tug at his heart placed the fear of Merlin inside him. He strained his eyes in the semi-darkness until they grew accustomed to it. It was a clear night, the stars twinkling like diamonds in the sky, and the moon full and quite eerie, cast the landscape in grey and silver monotones. He cast around for any inkling of where the child could be. In the distance he could see the Whomping Willow flailing about, dislodging any remnants of snow from it. The Forbidden Forest was hauntingly inviting, but he ignored, knowing it was just the prevalent magic feeding into the soul of the forest.
Suddenly, like an epiphany, though its effect was likened to that of running into a brick wall, he remembered all the times where he was literally the boy's shadow, where he followed him around, making sure he stayed safe. He always wondered why the boy gravitated towards the outdoors and to one particular spot when he watched from afar. Yes! Of course he would be there. How could he have been so dense?
He sprinted towards the lake, the water serene and still, reflecting the full moon, casting odd shadows upon the surrounding vegetation. Almost as if hidden figures were moving just beyond sight in the forest, never venturing into the moon's light. Veering to the far side, he hopped over a large boulder and lo and behold, he could just see the child, in the slight concave of the rock side. It was a strange sight to behold, even from here; he could that the child was shivering. But the surrounding trees seemed to almost bow their branches towards him, creating a sort of a shelter, protecting him. He had never seen them act in such a manner in particular to something that was not native to the Forest. A sceptic would say it was the wind, but the branches seemed to part slightly to let him through. He stepped into the small almost like a cubby hole, hurriedly and was again brought to a standstill. It was completely untouched by the winter. In fact it looked as if late spring was in full bloom. Flowers, plants and vines all wrapped themselves around the small waif of a figure, trying to lend their warmth. He even spotted some creatures curled up against him, staring at him, measuring him up, passing judgement. A small Sage Wolf cub, an extremely rare magical creature, bared his teeth at him as he attempted to proceed. He watched his every step, almost like a body guard. There were faeries, nifflers, baby hippogryffs, magical panther cubs, even a unicorn foal. But what seemed to be the leader was a massive ice blue and silver phoenix, which was majestically presiding over the assortment of creatures. It was beautiful, on par with Fawkes, the Headmaster's phoenix. However powerful she was, it was clear that Po-Harry needed urgent medical attention, something the regal Phoenix couldn't provide.
With a searching gaze, the Phoenix read into the depths of his very soul, and seeing something that not even the man himself knew he had in him, she chirped urgently and moved away, the other creatures following stead. With quick thanks, Snape finally could get a clear view of the boy and his heart thudded loudly in his chest at the sight of the child. The frail child was shivering uncontrollably, his skin was pale, lips and nails blue and dark smudges circled his eyes. His hair was completely frozen and weighed down and if one looked close enough, one would see that even his eyelashes had tiny icicles upon. He frantically check for a pulse, and was relieved when he finally felt one, though sluggish and seeming to slow by the very minute.
Without further ado, he scooped the feather like child into his arms and raced to the castle, leaping over the boulder. Never looking back, he barely noticed how nature itself seemed to aid his progress as even the snow seemed to melt in front of his very eyes. He didn't even notice the trail of animals following behind him, like some sort of frantic and strange procession, keening sorrowfully, urging him on. As he raced towards the castle he was oblivious to all. Not the Professors arranged at the entrance hall, trying to determine the cause of the wards failure. Nor their wide eyed stress, mouths agape, as he rushed past them, with what looked like a bundle of rags cradled in his arms, followed by a trail of rare and wild magical creatures, deaf to all questions hurled at him. No he didn't see. Not how Magic itself helped to try and save the life of the child, how he was almost a blur when he ran or how he glowed golden, allowing him no trouble from any magical hindrances. All that was on his mind was a desperate plea. A plea, begging and promising anything if anyone of any power would let this child live. "Merlin, please hold on Harry. Hold on!" he thought, as he melted into the darkness on the way up to the hospital wing, his steps echoing profoundly in the silence left behind. "Just hold on!"