Title: The Vanishing Glass
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or Lord Voldemort. No money is being made from this fan work.
Summary: Falsely imprisoned inside Hogwarts Asylum, Harry is determined to prove he's sane. But after taking a walk down the third floor corridor at night, he starts to think he might be crazy after all. AU!HP/LV for Ziggy Sternenstaub.
Author's Notes: The madness continues…
PART II: A SESSION WITH SNAPE
"Who are YOU?" said the Caterpillar.
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, "I-I hardly know, sir, just at present- at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then…"
~ 'Alice in Wonderland'
Dr Snape's fountain pen scratched dark ink across the pages of the leather notebook open on his large desk. After a few minutes, he carefully shut the book and pulled Harry's file out of one of his plethora of desk draws, leafing through the pages with his long, cigarette-stained fingers. Only then did he fix Harry with his abyssal eyes, gazing blackly like two endless tunnels above his large, hooked nose. "And how are we today, Mr Potter?" he drawled, making Harry's hackles rise.
"Oh, I'm fine," Harry answered with false cheerfulness. "How are you?"
"My health is not the matter at issue here," Snape replied silkily, "since, if you recall, I was not the one who attempted to bludgeon my cousin to death with a dead tortoise." He smiled through crooked teeth. "Perhaps you're prepared to talk about that now?" When Snape said it that way, of course it sounded like Harry was mad. To be honest, Harry still had a hard time believing he'd actually done what Snape said. The tortoise had been a birthday present for Dudley, who had only fed it for a couple of days before losing interest in the little creature. It had then become Harry's job to feed it and muck out the tank. He didn't mind – the tortoise probably liked being Dudley's pet about as much as Harry enjoyed living with the Dursleys. It very wisely hid in its shell whenever Dudley came into the room, but it always came out for Harry, the-bringer-of-food. But when his cousin discovered Harry playing with the tortoise, he threw a tantrum and chucked Harry's only friend out of the second story window and through the greenhouse roof. Harry didn't really remember what happened next, but Aunt Petunia had told everyone tearfully that she'd walked in on her disturbed nephew beating Dudley with the corpse of her darling diddum's pet.
"Very well," Dr Snape sneered at Harry's silence, "I have a set of questions here and I expect you, Mr Potter, to answer them honestly." Or else, Snape's fierce glare told Harry clearly. It was a very real threat. Snape was his doctor and had the power to revoke all of his privileges. Harry often wished he was one of Dr Flitwick's patients like Luna – or with Neville being overseen by the kindly Dr Sprout who took them for Art Therapy. But no, Harry was stuck with Dr Snape, who seemed to hate Harry quite as much as Harry hated him.
"Yes, sir…" he agreed sullenly.
"Are you ever under the impression that your thoughts or emotions are being controlled by someone else?"
Harry was tempted to say something very pointed about a certain someone else, but thought better of it. Then he remembered what had happened yesterday morning at breakfast. He'd been trying to ignore Draco Malfoy jeering at him (Harry had pretended he'd chickened out and not done the dare after all). Suddenly, in the middle of eating a piece of buttered toast, he'd felt an overwhelming sense of terrified fury flooding his brain like a burst dam. Harry was being restrained, his ankles, wrists and neck strapped to the forest floor. Weak, worthless filth dared to do this to him! Rodents in white coats – prey! If only Harry were not trapped in this place… if only he had his full powers, his wand! "Now, my Lord," said the voice of the wasp, buzzing cruelly, happily, in Harry's ear, "If you would just hold still…" The thing stung him, making him sleepy; the sun on flat stones, soaking up heat… and then something had shot through Harry like a lightning bolt, making him jolt out of his seat and knock his breakfast all over the floor. "No," Harry answered slowly, carefully, trying to appear as truthful as possible.
Dr Snape raised a black eyebrow sardonically but didn't accuse him of lying. After pausing to write something down, he continued: "Do you ever hear or see phenomena which others cannot?"
"No," Harry repeated, a bit too quickly. "Er, I mean, why are you asking–?"
"It is not for you to ask questions, Potter. Do you ever feel that you share nothing in common with your family and those around you?"
"Yeah, sure, all the time," Harry's green eyes – magnified by his glasses – met Snape's glare for glare. It was the doctor who glanced away first, writing something in his notes that was far too long for Harry's liking. When he finally looked up, it was to treat Harry to a leering smirk and Harry's stomach plummeted, knowing he had just made a mistake.
"Do you consider yourself… special?" The question caught Harry off guard. There was a knowing, bitter gleam in Snape's dark eyes, the doctor's malicious tone as thick and oily as his black hair. "Do you have special abilities, Potter? Abilities, perhaps… others cannot understand?" Harry remembered how Voldemort had said the same word – special – like a benediction…
…Harry had waited until Neville was asleep and snuck out, easily getting past the one orderly still on duty. After years of hiding from his cousin Dudley, Harry was very good at not being seen. In fact, he might go as far to say it was pretty much his only talent. When he wanted to, Harry could just about turn himself invisible.
He had to know, he had to go back, to see if it was real. Retracing his steps along the third floor corridor, Harry found that all the doors, which had been locked so securely, simply pushed open without the need for an ID pass or access codes. Maybe Quirrel had left them open for him, had known he would come? Nevertheless, it left Harry uneasy. It was out of the ordinary and that worried Harry. "I'm not crazy," he whispered to himself, trying to sound confident of the fact.
The room was still there, with its viewing window as high as the ceiling. In the darkness, the glass shone like a great mirror. Harry's heart beat fast in his chest as he crept towards Voldemort's cell; the ghostly shadow of a nervous boy reflected back at him, growing bigger as Harry mover nearer to the pane. No one was there, neither Dr Quirrel, nor Snape, nor the plump, balding orderly he had seen before. Harry suddenly had the alarming idea that they were there, hidden, watching him through cameras, seeing what he would do… Harry shook his head: it was the middle of the night. No one was here except him and –
"Harry…" it was a pleased, lazy outstretching of a word, like a cat waking and flexing its claws. "You have returned to me…" Harry couldn't see him in the darkness; only hear Lord Voldemort's cold, eerie voice and the rustle of a hospital gown.
Harry pressed his nose against the glass. "Hello," he answered, a little breathless, his eyes trying to sort through the thick blackness of the room for a glimpse of the strange man he'd come to see. He didn't dare turn on the lights.
"How brave you are, Harry – just like your parents. How brave… and how terrified… but you needn't worry… it can be our little secret – I won't say a word." Voldemort's laughter was high and feather-light.
"You knew my parents?" Harry sank to his knees, his hands flat against the glass, shocked and filling up with hope. The Dursleys would never talk about Lily and James Potter and Harry didn't even have any photos – could only imagine what they looked like. "Could you–" his voice was choked with emotion. It only confirmed what he'd suspected from the beginning: that Lord Voldemort really was a magical being. This wasn't a delusion, it couldn't be. "I mean, could you tell me about them? They died in a car crash when I was little and I…"
There was a dull gleam in the darkness; two glimmering red eyes fixed on Harry, so close they could have felt each other's breath on their faces were it not for the glass. "A car crash, you say?" his chilly tone sounded oddly offended. "How interesting…" Voldemort's whisper trailed off into silence.
"Sorry," Harry said carefully, not wanting to offend his new friend "but what's interesting?"
"Why Harry, we are both orphans!" Voldemort's words swelled with sibilant delight, ending with a hissy giggle. "You see how fate has brought us together? Oh, but it all makes sense…" And he took a deep breath, as if about to confide some wonderful secret. "You see, Harry… dear, brave Harry… my family are dead too… and they died in exactly the same manner as yours." And he sounded so sad Harry didn't know what to say. "But now…" Voldemort went on breathlessly, "You have come… it has been many years, but you have come… my saviour, my chosen one… you can perform the magic I cannot, restore me to myself again… take me from this forest, Harry… let me in…" Once more the voice took hold of Harry, urging him on: just vanish the glass, Harry, vanish the glass…
"I'm sorry, I can't – I… I can't… you're a murderer, I can't free you… I'm sorry… I'm really not special or magical… I'm… I'm just Harry…" He'd gotten sucked in again, sucked into the suffocating dream spun by this alien creature – that was why he'd come, wasn't it? Just to sit here and listen to a beautiful, otherworldly voice telling him tenderly how he, Harry, was special to him. But he couldn't do it, he couldn't vanish the glass. The urge was so strong, like a lust in his body, as clear and brightly resounding as a bell. But it was impossible. He felt like he might cry.
"Of course you can," Voldemort lovingly crooned, "why, when I was your age I could do all sorts of impossible things… you don't mean to tell me you've never made things happen when you were scared or angry? Never hurt those who were foolish enough to cross you?"
It sounded too much like one of the questions Snape and, before that, the school psychologist, had asked him. Harry drew back, worried that he was being watched, that all of this was some trick to get him to admit that he was crazy. Well, he wouldn't do it! He wasn't going to be locked up here forever. Harry was going to get released and have a normal life. "I'm not mad," he said slowly, deliberately, backing away – forcing himself to remember that he wasn't talking to a genie, but a man: a killer who'd undergone some kind of gruesome cosmetic surgery. Voldemort wasn't his friend, didn't care about Harry, and why would he? All he was interested in was getting Harry to help him break out of the asylum.
"That's what I said…" Voldemort replied quietly. "When Professor Dumbledore came for me. I was younger than you are now... a child. I was foolish, proud… I confessed a great many things – things I had no business telling anyone. You are right to be afraid and keep your secrets close. For in the forest no one is safe and even the squirrels in the trees are listening to you breathe…"
There was a muffled scream and a crash that made Harry almost jump out of his skin. "Go, Harry…" Voldemort commanded, wielding his unnatural voice like a whip, "Run, and tell no one where you've been…"
Harry bolted, the high trilling of Voldemort's laughter ringing in his ears…
Dr Snape raised an eyebrow sardonically. "Well?" he sniffed.
"No, sir…" Harry said finally, while his heart raced in fear.
The doctor was suddenly looming above Harry, almost frothing at the mouth, his fingers digging painfully into Harry's shoulders. "You think you're being clever, do you, Potter?"
"No, sir!" Harry whimpered, terrified by the madness in Snape's contorted face.
"I see. Tell me, Potter, why have you been sneaking around the hospital at night?"
"I… I haven't…"
"I think we both know that's a lie," the doctor treated his patient to a nasty smirk, letting go of Harry and stalking back to his desk. "So, what is it you do on these nightly jaunts of yours? I understand last night was the third time Longbottom has reported you missing from your dormitory this week."
"I… I…" Harry tried desperately to think up an excuse. "I just like to walk, you know, clear my head…"
"Ah yes, you do have so many things on your mind at present, don't you, Potter? You obviously–" The door creaked and both their heads snapped round.
It was Quirrel. "E-e-excuse me, S-S-Severus, b-but Professor Dumbledore w-wants to see you; apparently t-there's b-been a development in the Granger c-case… s-something about a t-t-troll in the P-Polyjuice Project."
Snape's eyebrows shot up. Then he fixed Harry with a glare, "Stay here, Potter!" he ordered before capping his pen and donning his coat, almost knocking over poor Dr Quirrel as he stalked past him out of the room, the white coat billowing behind him.
Dr Quirrel gave Harry a nervous smile. Harry returned a weak grin, grateful for the time to think up a good, sane, excuse for sneaking down to visit a patient who in the best possible scenario was a mass murderer and at worst was a figment of Harry's imagination. Still, Dr Quirrel was real. That was a good sign. "How… um… how is… you-know…?"
"Oh…" the young doctor shook his head sadly. "Electroconvulsive therapy u-usually c-c-calms him… but he… h-he couldn't r-r-remember and, w-well… he can b-be so demanding, I… sometimes I… f-find it very hard to be his doctor. He is… s-so much more than a m-man… and I am so weak…" Dr Quirrel burst into tears, sobbing into his sleeve. "I s-swore I w-wouldn't end up l-l-like Slughorn…"
"It's okay, erm… I thought he wasn't talking to you?" Harry stood awkwardly as Quirrel collapsed on Snape's couch.
"I'm not s-stupid!" Quirrel cried, "I know why Professor Dumbledore assigned him to me! But I thought, d-d-despite everything, if I could make p-progress; m-m-my career… I thought if I could only understand him a b-bit better, if… if…"
"Well, you have, haven't you?" Harry fought to find the right thing to say. He thought about patting Dr Quirrel on the shoulder but the gesture was just too awkward. He tried to be kind: "I mean… you told me last week was a breakthrough, right?"
"THE DARK LORD CANNOT BE UNDERSTOOD! HIS GLORY IS BEYOND THE COMPREHENSION OF A PATHETIC MORTAL SUCH AS I!"
Harry looked over at the red button on Dr Snape's desk. It was for the doctor to push if he needed to summon the orderlies in order to restrain a patient. Quirrel's eyes were wide and green froth dribbled from the edges of his mouth. Harry backed away towards the desk. Then a voice seemed to slither out from behind the thrashing doctor, slick against the air, commanding silence. "Let me… speak to him."
"Master," Quirrel whimpered, tears streaking down his face, his blue eyes glassy like those of a fish. "M-m-master, I… I am not s-s-strong enough…"
"But you are," came the voice again, as cold and hypnotic as Harry remembered. Something jarred in him to hear its whispering lilt directed at the doctor and not him. "Let me show you…" Harry's hand hovered over the button, trembling and slippery with sweat.
The young doctor gave a shudder, twitching like a marionette suddenly pulled up by its strings. His head jerked upwards and his hair began to fall out, as if boiled away, flesh bubbling and morphing and dripping. Harry's back hit Snape's bookcase. He couldn't call for help. This was a delusion, some horrible visitation out of nightmare. If he pressed the button, they would never let him out. "Go away…!" he cried, shaking his head, closing his eyes, receding into himself, curling to the floor. This wasn't real, wasn't real… Harry's fingers ripped at his own hair, trying to drown out the horrible slapping and gurgling that was Quirrel. "You're not real!"
"You don't mean that, Harry…" Voldemort crooned and Harry looked up. The terrible face as white as a skull with its glittering eyes was staring at him from the back of Quirrel's head. The aberration held the doctor's body in a strangely sinuous sway; arms stretching out from the swathe of white-coated back, hands offering up contorted comfort, the wrists tilted unnaturally. "I missed you," the gash of a mouth murmured, "Do you know I had the greatest difficulty recalling the colour of your eyes… You see what I have become – mere shadow and vapour. The only way I can touch you is through another's hands. Help me, Harry, and together we shall be unstoppable."
"G-go away," Harry mumbled. "I'm normal! I don't have… hallucinations!" He stood, furious, rigid with anger. He would beat this. He would prove this was all some crazy dream. I'm not mad.
Quirrel was walking backwards towards him and the monstrous face was smiling. "Come, Harry…" And Dr Quirrel's fingers stroked across Harry's scar. All at once, his skin was on fire, as through a thousand tiny needles were trying to escape, trying to get out through his flesh to Voldemort. The hand juddered in pleasure and grabbed at Harry's chin. He bit his lip, refusing to cry out, refusing to acknowledge this was real. "Oh, little one, they haven't told you anything, have they? And it was so tenderly said that Harry couldn't help but lean closer, enthralled even as he denied this was happening. "Our… connection…?"
"I don't know what you're talking about!" Harry shouted. "And its bollocks anyway because YOU'RE NOT REAL!"
Voldemort smiled lazily, Quirrel's legs shaking beneath him, and kissed Harry. "We are the same, you and I." the monster laughed softly between Harry's lips. Livid and surreal, the eyes swallowed him just as the gash of a mouth did the same. It was so crazy and unexpected; Harry didn't even pull away, simply gawped against that ice pale skin, instinctively arching into the touch. "That's why they brought you to Hogwarts, after all. Because you are Lord Voldemort even as I am."
"I'M NOT!" Harry wrenched away from the Quirrel-Voldemort creature and brought his fist down on the button...
Something gold was glinting just above Harry's head. He tried to reach for it, but his arms were too heavy. He blinked. It was a pair of glasses. How strange. Harry blinked again. The smiling face of an old man swam into view above him, forming up around the golden pince-nez perched on his crooked nose. The man continued to smile gently.
Harry looked around blearily, trying to move. He was lying in a hospital bed with white linen sheets. The old man sitting in the chair beside him checked a gold pocket watch. "You gave us quite a scare, Harry Potter, quite a scare indeed." The air stank of disinfectant.
"W-what happened to Quirrel?"
"Doctor Quirrel?" the man's eyebrows shot up.
"He umm…" Harry tried to sluggishly backtrack, "he said he'd - er - get help or… or something…"
"Ah." The blue eyes twinkled. "Yes, Quirinus summoned me as soon as he saw you take ill. Very wise, I must say. Oh, we haven't been introduced, have we? Professor Albus Dumbledore at your service, my boy."