By: Liz
Disclaimers: These characters do not belong to me. I am using them for fun, not profit. If you sue me, all you'll get are my many college loans.
Pairing: Harry/Snape. And thank you, Tea, for having pushed me onto this path :-p
Author's Notes: This story is for Tea, as it was she who broke down my final resistance to the Harry Potter books. Congratulations, Tea-you did something that my ex couldn't do while we were together :) If it weren't for her, then I wouldn't have gotten this idea.
Archiving: Anywhere, just let me know where it's going, and keep my name and disclaimers attached, please.
Feedback is always appreciated. Flames will be laughed at, then passed around to my friends so they can mock them, too.


He didn't know when it started. All he knew was that one day he was smiling and laughing...and the next it seemed impossible to keep going.

Harry sighed as he gave in to a moment of weakness and leaned against the cold stone of the corridor. More and more lately, he felt these feelings of despair wash over him. More and more he felt that life was more of a burden than a joy.

Suppressing the urge to scream, Harry reached up and traced his scar with his index finger. The lightning-bolt brand that marked him as something special, apart from everyone else.

All Harry wanted to do was tear the blasted thing from his face.

He was so damn *tired* of it-tired of people treating him with awe, worshiping him as 'the Boy Who Lived.' Didn't anyone realize that he was as mortal as any of them?

Forcing himself to move on, Harry stared at the floor. Well, one person-outside his Muggle 'family'-saw his flaws, his humanity. Harry had to fore back an ironic laugh. The one person in Hogwarts who saw him as a simple flawed human was also the one who despised him the most. Severus Snape.

And Harry loved him for it.

This time, Harry couldn't keep back the sudden laugh that burst past his lips, bitter though it was. Just his luck, wasn't it-to fall for the one person that would probably never want him.

Luck might keep his body alive, but it did nothing to protect his heart.

Harry found a deserted bit of corridor-not too hard in a keep as big as Hogwarts-and sat down. "What do I have?" he asked himself bitterly. "Let's see...I have pride, I have a face that no one ever tries to see, I have memories I'd give anything to be rid of, *and* I have a heart that will never be broken, for the simple fact that I can never tell the one I love that I love them." Another bitter laugh left him. "I should throw myself off a bloody cliff right now before I can think of anything *else* to add to the list."

"Then why don't you?" A cold, icy voice penetrated Harry's mind, and he looked up to see the *last* person he could've hoped for standing there.

"Go away, Draco," Harry murmured, not even trying to fill the words with his usual rancor. "I'm not in the mood for your games."

Draco blinked. Even when Harry was at his *worst*, he never lacked the bitter sarcasm that Draco had come to expect from him. To hear such empty words.... "Potter?" he inquired, the name filled with confusion and a bit of concern.

Harry rolled his eyes. "In case you didn't get it, I'm not in the mood for our usual fun and games. So if you don't mind...." Harry waved a hand, gesturing down the corridor, allowing the gesture to finish his sentence.

"Would you really jump off a cliff?" Draco blinked-he even hadn't expected those words to come from his mouth.

Harry's eyes reflected some shock as well, but it didn't stop him from answering the question. "Probably not, since cliffs are few around here."

"But if you could find a cliff?"

For the first time, Harry's eyes met Draco's, and Draco shivered at the emptiness he saw there. "Why do you care?" he asked tonelessly.

Draco sat down next to Harry, putting aside all reactions he had ever cultivated around Harry. "Because believe it or not, I *do* care about what happens to you. Even if we're not as close as you and Ron, or Hermione, I still respect you."

Harry blinked. "That's...different than what I was expecting." Harry bit his knuckles for a second before responding to Draco's original question. "If I could find a cliff...maybe. Not that there aren't plenty of substitutes around here, anyway."

Draco's mind flashed to an image of Harry letting go of his broom during the next Quidditch match, and he couldn't quite repress a small shiver. "Care to talk about it?"

"What's there to talk about? Everyone either reveres me or hates me, just because of this damn scar." He traced it again. "They treat me like I'm some sort of object just because I did something that I can't even *remember*. Either they're filled with awe, or they're like you and hate me for something I never asked for or wanted."

Draco reached out and placed a hand on Harry's shoulder. "For what it's worth, I don't *hate* you."

"I'll remember that."

Draco bit his lip, trying to think of what to do. Harry seemed so dull, lifeless. There had to be something.... Inspiration flashed, and, without knowing what he was starting, asked, "Who is it that you love, anyway?"

Harry jumped, and pushed away from Draco's hand. "How...why...I...how did you *know*?"

Draco had to force down the urge to giggle at Harry's incredulity. "When you were talking to yourself before, you mentioned it." He froze for a second. "It's not...me, is it?"

Harry shook his head. "Sorry to burst your ego, but it's not you. Similar to you, but not you."

Draco thought for a minute. He hated mysteries, and was intent on solving this one. "Similar to me...gender or personality?"

Harry sighed. "Both." He buried his head in his hands.

Draco began talking aloud, trying to work through this. "Male...so that leaves out half the population. Similar to my personality, so Ron's out.... But the only male who acts *anything* like me towards you is...." He trailed off, not wanting to complete the seemingly ridiculous sentence, but Harry's miserable nod forced him to. "Professor *Snape*? You're in love with *him*?!"

"You don't need to advertise it to the whole castle," Harry hissed, but settled back down. "It's bad enough already." Without intending to, Harry began to cry. "Do you know what it's like to find someone who can look past the outside, look past the legends? To know that even though you love that person with everything in you, that the one you love sees past the scar, the legends, the name...and hates what he sees still?" The slow trail of tears running down Harry's face sped up, and Draco took Harry into his arms as the young man began to sob. "I love, him, Draco. I love Severus Snape...and he hates me. And that *hurts*."

Draco did nothing but hold his new friend-for what else can you call someone after sharing an experience like this?-as he cried. He had never realized just how much pain there was hidden in Harry, a pain that was made clearer as Harry kept talking as he cried, sobbing out a lifetime of pain. Draco's heart suddenly constricted with guilt, realizing the role that he had played in Harry's torment.

He stroked Harry's hair as the young man's sobs died down. 'I don't want to see you hurt, Harry...not anymore. Somehow, I'll try and fix the damage that I did.'

And he knew just where to start.