It was a simple thing, as far as things go, Harry thought as he made his way back to the Gryffindor tower after another evening spent with Professor Lupin.
Really not worth getting myself worked up about, he tried to console himself as he walked.
He had passed out again from his work with the Dementor (aka the boggart) and had awoken to find himself on the floor . . . again, was his disgruntled thought at the time. It was a bit too familiar really, except for one hair raising detail.
The top button of his jeans was undone.
True, they were Dudley's old castoffs—no reason to get his school trousers dirty if he could help it, yes? So they were a bit big and tended to be a touch unwieldy, but never in his memory had a button just popped open on its own, without any outside help.
He muttered the password to the Fat Lady and made his way inside. Hermione's head was stuck in a book, and Ron was on the other side of the room. From the way they kept furtively glancing at one another, it was clear that they weren't talking again, or was it still?
Harry didn't know, and furthermore, he was too tired to care. Tiredly waving hello to a few people, he climbed the stairs up to the dorm room he shared with the other third year boys.
It was only after he had fallen into his bed for the night that his mind dared wander back to the evening's odd occurrence.
Everything was the same as it ever was. He had awoken prone on the floor, the feeling of dried tears on his face, aware that Lupin was looking at him worriedly as he painfully sat back up. His head pounding as he automatically ate the bar of chocolate the man had given him, not even tasting it, just chewing and swallowing tiredly.
Everything the same, yet not.
The feeling that he had missed something vital niggled in his brain, making sleep elusive despite his weariness. The sleep he did finally manage was full of the sounds of his mum screaming, and the undeniable and disturbing sense that someone was watching him just beyond his peripheral.
. . .
It was winter in Scotland and it was cold. The hallways were drafty, chilling the students further as they made their way quickly from class to class. Harry felt as though he were moving in a daze, his body too cold to focus on anything other than just staying awake as he stumbled through his day. Potions was the worst though, and not just because of the frigid temperatures.
Snape's eyes followed him relentlessly as he worked on his various assigned tasks for class. He knew that at any moment, the man's silken tones would assault his ears, belittling him and his friends in front of the class as they always did.
As far as familiar routines went, this was one that he could have just as well done without.
Severus Snape's eyes were on Harry, but unbeknownst to him, it was out of concern and not pure spite.
It was clear to the hawk nosed man that Harry Potter was not sleeping, but the question was why? Was it all part of some elaborate prank that the boy was involved in? Severus's gut said otherwise. The boy was weary, his body seeming smaller than usual as he hunched in on himself in an effort to better conserve the heat of his thin frame.
Severus decided not to confront the third year on it just yet, but promised himself to keep a closer eye on the lad from here on out. It would not do for the tired child to do something stupid like blow himself up. With his luck, he'd probably take out the entire class.
He told himself that his concern was merely over the safety of the class as a whole, and not because he was worried over the boy himself. Unsurprisingly, his lies weren't any better received than Harry's.
. . .
"Professor?" Harry asked Lupin after yet another private lesson.
"Mr. Potter?" Lupin's gaze was gentle as it fell upon his messy head.
"Did you get really tired when you were learning how to cast the Patronus?" He asked tentatively, hoping that his professor wouldn't see his inquiry as a reason to stop their lessons.
"Perhaps not as tired as you Harry, but then again, I learned it when I was older. Maybe it is time we took a break? We could resume later next week—."
"NO!" He bellowed, instantly feeling embarrassed at his childish reaction. "Please sir, I really need to learn this. I think it's just because it's been so cold." He pleaded.
"So much like your father," Lupin whispered, patting him lightly on his shoulder. "So dedicated," the older man smiled sadly at him.
"Is that a yes?" He prompted, not feeling a desire to hear about his father that day.
"I suppose so, Harry, but I do think we should break for now," Lupin answered, his eyes still focused on something in the past.
"Okay, sir," he answered readily enough, backing out of the room quickly.
The man didn't even wave goodbye, but he didn't mind. He knew that Professor Lupin had a lot to be sad over.
. . .
It was later, after his shower, that he found the strange bruise on his neck.
"Gettin' some action there, mate?" Seamus called out as he passed him.
Harry spat out his toothpaste and looked at his reflection carefully in the mirror. It did look like he had a hickey on his neck. But where on earth could it have come from?
Had he been hit by a bludger during Quidditch practice that week? He didn't remember being hit by anything.
Maybe he had done it in his sleep. His dreams had been unusually active as of late. It made sense that he could have done something to himself in this sleep.
Yeah, that's probably what happened, he told himself as he washed his mouth out.
It didn't go unnoticed by him that the bruise had not been there the day before, but he tried not to focus on that part.
. . .
"Expecto Patronum!" Harry yelled out as the Dementor made its way towards him.
"Please! Not Harry!" He could hear his mother's voice in his mind just before he passed out.
He was only out for a minute or two before he came back around. Not even looking at his professor, he took a piece of the proffered chocolate and shoved it in his mouth.
"Expecto Patronum!" He yelled again, trying desperately to focus on the feeling of flying combined with the feeling of utter joy at finding out he was a wizard.
"Please! Take me instead!" He heard his father say, but this time, he shoved the dizziness away and tried again.
"EXPECTO PATRONUM!" He shouted as forcefully as he could, a small wisp of something making its way out of the tip of his wand. He was conscious long enough to grin stupidly for a few seconds before the blackness took over.
The next time he awoke, it was to find tears in his eyes and a horrid feeling of coldness in the pit of his stomach.
"I think that is quite enough for tonight, Harry," Professor Lupin told him gravely, shoving a larger piece of chocolate in his hand and then going to sit at his desk.
Wordlessly he nodded, standing up and barely making it over to a chair before dropping heavily into it. Once there, he ate the chocolate quickly, a look of consternation on his face. He needed to get out of the classroom as quickly as he could in order to check something.
He nearly ran to the boy's loo, hoping that no one was watching as he did so. He certainly didn't feel like explaining his behavior to anyone at present, especially not a professor.
Once inside a stall, he hurriedly undid his trousers and pushed them down to his knees.
It was true. It was true, was all he could think over and over.
His y-fronts were on backwards.
He hadn't done it.
And his y-fronts were on backwards.
They were staring back at him accusingly and he kept shaking his head back and forth stupidly.
No. No. No.
Quickly, he stripped them off and righted them, pulling up his trousers as he did, allowing himself to lean against the side of the stall for a moment while his brain sought to make sense out of his situation. He was panicky as he hugged his arms around his torso tightly.
Could it be true? Could Lupin—? No, I can't think that! He's an old friend of my Dad's! He's the only connection to him that I have left. I can't think that! There has to be another solution. There has to be!
He wiped his face angrily before leaving the stall with a slightly more determined air.
. . .
The next couple of weeks found Harry in the library as often as not, researching the endless books that seemed to populate the shelves surrounding him. He needed a spell that could record what was happening around him when he was—when he was asleep.
Yeah, that's exactly what I'm looking for. My sleep's been messed up for awhile. It makes sense that I need to know what's going on.
He looked through every book he could find about parenting and monitoring babies while they slept, but the spells involved were all to be cast by another person, and he didn't trust anyone enough to do see the results—should there be any results.
In the meantime, his lessons with Lupin continued, and he continued to make strange discoveries after each one. It was mid-February, after he had discovered what looked like a small partially healed bite mark on his inner thigh that he finally found a spell that looked like it would do what was needed.
His desperation had caused him to actually make friends with Madam Pince, and she had been the one who had clued him into the psychology section of the library. From there, he had searched for books about sleep disorders, and from there he had discovered the incantation for the "Absent Witness" spell.
"Absentis Testimonium," he whispered, writing it down as he carefully practiced how to pronounce it.
The spell merely needed to be cast sometime that day before unconsciousness overtook one's senses, and then it would actively record at that time. The book also mentioned spelling something like an inconspicuous piece of jewelry as something to bind the memories to, which would then become visible only to the wearer after incanting the words, "Revelo Testis" and specifying the date of the desired memory.
Harry learned the spell and then with the help of a kindly jewelry maker that he discreetly visited in Hogsmeade one weekend, he created a rudimentary base to attach the recorded images and sounds to. He spelled it invisible after putting it around his neck, and then cast another spell that helped keep it safe on his person, in case of accidents or whatever other mishaps might befall him.
. . .
Severus Snape was loath to admit it, even if it was true, but Harry Potter was worrying him. He seemed to be withdrawing from everyone around him, even his two closest sycophants could no longer get or hold his attention for very long.
Severus watched him in the Great Hall. He watched the boy fastidiously not eat, all while pretending to be involved in the conversation around him. True, he still played Quidditch, still did his part in the games, but he did it without his usual flair, without the typical spark that made the boy lifelike and so damned annoying.
The tiredness that Severus had seen hinted at in Harry's frame was now quite obvious. There were dark circles under the boy's eyes that were almost purple in their deep intensity. And that, above all else, made him ask the child to stay after class; his only hope being that he could somehow get to the bottom of what was going on before it tore him apart any further.
"Let me see your hands," he said brusquely, after the classroom had emptied out around them.
"Sir?" The boy asked nervously, eyes wide in his far too thin face.
"Hands, Potter," Severus growled. "On my desk, palms down. Now."
He watched as the boy tentatively put them out onto the rough wooden surface; fingers trembling as though he expected Snape to reach out and thwap them with something heavy.
"Just as I thought, Mr. Potter," he said, looking over the bitten fingernails with a critical eye; most had been taken down to the quick, and some beyond that. A few of the lad's cuticles were actively bleeding before him as he watched, and he sniffed disdainfully at them.
"Accio cuticle balm!" The small jar flew into his open hand with a slight slap of sound.
"Sir?" The child's voice was small, unsure. "What are you doing?"
"One's fingers must be clean and healthy when working with ingredients such as these, Mr. Potter," he said curtly, dipping his long digits into the cream and transferring it quickly over to the injured fingers. "Potions can be altered by the slightest change in recipe, including a stray wayward drop of wizarding blood."
Severus watched Harry's adam's apple bob nervously at his words.
"Could you tell—I mean, was that where I went wrong today, sir?" Severus frowned at the faintness of the lad's voice.
"It certainly did not help. However, it is mostly likely your lack of attention during the stirring phase of today's class that contributed greatest towards the ultimate failure of your potion. Potion masters must be well rested to do their work, and you, Mr. Potter, look anything but."
"I'm sorry sir," spoken in that same damnable whisper! "I haven't been sleeping very well lately, sir."
"And not because of any other rule breaking acts you might have been participating in?" He asked sharply.
"N-No sir," the lad's cheeks were, if anything, paler than they had been before.
"Hmph," he answered with a noncommittal grunt, clearing away the excess cream and closing up the jar once more. "Perhaps you should speak with Madam Pomfrey if your insomnia does not clear up on its own soon."
"I don't think that she can help me—sir," Harry answered, turning his face away as though ashamed.
"She is a very capable healer, Mr. Potter."
"I know, sir. She's helped me lots of times," a small smile drifted its way across the boy's face. "But she wouldn't be able to help with this, sir."
"This?" The true crux of the matter, he knew, was something serious enough if it caused the child before him to lose both sleep and appetite.
"It's personal, sir."
"And you cannot talk to your head of house?"
"No, sir," Harry said, glancing back up at him briefly with fear filled eyes.
The scruffy bowed head in front of him shook itself back and forth emphatically.
"I have to go, sir. I have a lesson to attend," Harry said at long last, reaching over with freshly healed fingers and picking up his bag.
"You did not answer my question, Mr. Potter."
"Thank you for healing my fingers sir. And for your question, the answer is no. I don't think he would be able to help."
And just like that, Severus Snape was suddenly alone in his classroom once more; the sound of fading footsteps his only companion.
. . .
Harry showed up to the defense classroom panting and out of breath, but on time—barely.
"Ah, there you are," Professor Lupin said to him, greeting him with a pat on the shoulder that gave him an uneasy feeling.
He had activated the necessary spells earlier that day, so hopefully the necklace would record anything that happened while he was unconscious. He hoped that he would be able to fight off the Dementor successfully and not pass out at all, but most of all, he hoped that he was simply wrong. He didn't know what he would do if he was right.
Things progressed much the same as always that evening. He tried—desperately—to think of an all encompassing happy memory that would work to keep the Dementor at bay and away from him.
But he couldn't.
Time and time again, he found himself on the floor, drenched in a cold sweat; his body aching as he waited for the room to stop spinning so he could make it to his feet once more and start again.
The last time he was out for at least five minutes, and when he came to the final time, he looked at Lupin's haggard face and instantly knew that their evening was over.
"All right there Harry?" Lupin asked, pulling him to his feet with a hand that was much stronger than he appeared.
He took the proffered chocolate and bit down on it quickly, nodding his head to answer while trying to chew as quickly as he could without choking. He wouldn't have thought it possible before, but he was really starting to get tired of chocolate.
Or maybe he was simply tired of what it represented.
As was becoming his ritual, his first stop after leaving the defense classroom was the loo. It was empty and he breathed a sigh of relief and went into the stall farthest from the entrance. Taking a seat on the toilet, he pulled the necklace out from under his shirt and looked at it in trepidation.
Oh how he wished he was wrong, how he wished he could pretend he was imagining things and forget about this entire awful situation.
He clenched his fist around the small bauble and put his head in his other hand. He felt tears prick at the corners of his eyes and blinked against them forcefully. He was being a baby. He didn't even know if there was anything to see. It was probably nothing.
But if it was nothing, why did he feel sick to his stomach? Why did he always feel ill when he came in contact with Lupin in the hallways? Why couldn't he sleep and why, oh why had he found his jeans unbuttoned?
He pulled out his wand and before he could talk himself out of it, he whispered the necessary words "Revelo Testis," and spoke that day's date to activate the spell.
And then he watched in dawning horror as the events played out before him.
. . .
Severus Snape strode quickly to his classroom, an ugly grimace upon his face as he moved silently through the dungeons. His wards had gone off and he dearly hoped that he would catch whomever it was that was trespassing that evening.
There was light coming from his classroom, and he knew then that they would not be getting away from him that night. He walked through the doorway and closed the door behind him with a heavy thud, casting a series of wards that would not only keep the cretin in with him, but that would also alert him to anyone else's presence outside in the corridor itself.
"Show yourself," he growled to the empty classroom.
No movements, but something like a sob came from under his desk and he frowned at the sound.
"Don't think you can blubber your way out of this situation," he hissed, moving over to his desk and pulling out the chair with a sharp jerk of his hand.
"Mr. Potter," he said in a low voice. "I should have known. What—," he stopped mid-query and kneeled down to look at the boy more closely. Potter was rocking back and forth, his hands gripping his knees tightly to his chest as silent tears continued to wash down bright red cheeks.
"I will not have this conversation on the floor," he said in a low voice, attempting to give the boy an opportunity to stand up.
However, it was as if he had not spoken at all. The child continued his rocking, looking straight through him as though he were not even present.
"Mr. Potter," he said, reaching out to touch his student's arm.
That got a reaction. Instantly, the boy threw himself backwards, farther under the desk, and now Severus's delicate ears began picking up the sounds of hysterical mutterings.
"Can't touch me . . . don't touch me . . . he touched me," the boy sobbed, his breath hitching rather dramatically, and Snape's eyes widened as his mind processed what had been said.
His student's hands began rubbing up and down his arms, and Severus's gut told him that he had to get the boy out of there before one of them was hurt.
"Mr. Potter," he said in a soft voice, attempting to remain calm.
"Harry," he tried instead and the Potter's body gave a twitch. "Take my hand, child," he instructed, holding out an open hand to the boy.
"Might see . . . might see . . . he'll get me, he'll get me!" The child wheezed at him, his terror nearly a palpable thing in the narrow space under Severus's desk.
Potter laughed hysterically, throwing his head backwards against the solid oak of the desk and further alarming him.
"You . . . hate . . . him," the boy gritted out between the hitching of his breath.
There were many that he hated, but for Potter to be so utterly aware of it—.
"Lupin?" He hissed softly, watching in growing worry as the boy flinched backwards again and began beating his head repeatedly against the heavy wood.
"Harry," he spoke quickly, reaching out and actually grabbing the lad's thin wrist. "Please come out of there."
. . .
He couldn't think. He only knew that when he had seen the truth, when the images had been unveiled before his eyes, there was only one place he could go that would be safe.
Dumbledore and McGonagall both liked the man because of his house and because he had been friends with his dad. So he couldn't go to them. What if they didn't believe him? What if they made him talk face to face with the man? He couldn't do it.
But Snape—Snape hated Lupin; possibly even more than he hated Harry. And when Snape had applied the healing balm to his fingers, he had wondered if there hadn't been something more significant to his gaze; perhaps even something that said he was worried about him.
He went to Snape, because he couldn't go anywhere else.
Who else would believe that he had been molested and raped by Remus Lupin, very best friend of his father's?
Snape reached out to him, grabbing his arm, and Harry let himself be pulled forwards; let himself be held as his professor awkwardly drew him into his chest and let him cry against his shoulder.
It for that reason that he made himself talk, made himself say the spell that would let Snape see the truth as well.
"That bastard," Snape had growled in a voice more cruel than any that he had ever used on him, and he let himself be picked up and carried into what was presumably the man's quarters.
He took the Dreamless Sleep that his professor gave him and he swallowed it without pause.
He was tired, but with Snape to guard over his sleep, he knew that he was finally safe to close his eyes and relax.
A/N - Your author is evil, but you knew that, right? Here's the question, should I consider leaving this as a one-shot? Or should I do something more with it? Hmm . . .