Here is another chapter! Seriously, all of you who reviewed have given me hope; there is a fanbase for this marvelous pairing! The world needs more Harry and Viktor! Well, I'm going to do my part. Warnings from the prologue still apply here.
"Harry? Are you all right? You aren't looking so well."
Green eyes looked up almost lazily from the soup he'd been trying to consume, the once vivid color now dulled and weak. In comparison, however, his body wasn't fairing much better. It had been a month since he'd returned to Hogwarts, and several of his graver injuries had been resolved. Bruises were still visible without the glamour, though they were no longer the ugly blue and yellow, but a faded purple. Yet, the young boy knew he'd never remove the glamour, even once the bruises and what was left of the cuts and burns fully healed; it would reveal the god-awful scaring that made him every bit a freak his Uncle accused him of being.
"Fine," he lied. The boy kept his voice at quiet tones, because while it was no longer hoarse, the vocal cords were still healing. "Just, ah, a little tired." Hermione either believed his lie or didn't actually care enough to seek the truth; Harry suspected the latter.
Over the past month, he'd been slowly growing further and further apart from his two friends; certainly not from lack of trying, though. Realizing his silence might have been hurtful to the duo, Harry tried to amend the problem. He spoke more, made more attempts at conversation, tried to keep himself involved despite his condition. It was a lot more difficult than he thought it would be to make his malnourished and battered body walk the halls to the library with Hermione, or out to the Quidditch field with Ron. However, it soon became apparent that it wasn't helping the situation, so he stopped forcing himself to talk and go places that physically tired him out.
It completely baffled him. What could he have done to drive them away? Did he do something, or had they finally realized he brought danger with him wherever he went? Whatever the reason was, however, it hurt a lot more than he could bring himself to admit. He barely had anyone he could call a friend, much less family; Sirius and Lupin, though he could barely contact them nowadays, Ron, Hermione, and the Weasley family. What if the Weasley's all tried to distance themselves just like Ron was doing? What if all the things Vernon said were true, even though he tried desperately to not allow himself to think so? He was useless, good for nothing, a freak.
His rumination was disturbed by sudden excitement from his table mates, few students at the door of the hall yelling for their friends to 'come quick,' which immediately prompted all students to go rushing. Hermione and Ron wordlessly among them. The Boy-Who-Lived didn't bother—he knew what it was. The Durmstrang and Beauxbaton students were arriving that very day, which meant Harry would have just distraction he needed to slip into the hospital wing. When the Great Hall was mostly emptied, Harry himself stood up and headed out, taking a different route.
Cursing because his body wasn't capable of rushing, the black haired child reached the hospital wing and peered around inside the room carefully, drawing the Marauder's map out to peer at it quickly. Pomfrey wasn't in the room, but she wasn't far, either. He had a short time frame to get in, get what he needed, and get out. Forcing himself to run across the room despite the strain it put on his awkwardly thin legs, Harry yanked open the familiar cabinet containing blood replenishing potions. Glancing at the door one last time, he quickly stuffed a week's worth in his magically extended pocket, along with two infection fighting potions, before heading towards the door. Much to his dismay, Madam Pomfrey was also coming through the door.
"Potter? What are you doing in here?" she asked.
"Oh, um, I was just… hoping you would be able to give me a sleeping draught. I haven't been able to sleep lately." Silently praising himself for quick thinking, even though he was sure he was getting less and less oxygen to his brain with each passing day, he just hoped that Pomfrey believed him. He was always paranoid when it came to stealing; it wasn't right, he knew that, but it was quite literally a matter of life and death. He had some internal bleeding—something was punctured or cut—and he was lucky it was nothing important. Or if was, blood replenishing potions seemed to keep him stabilized. That, and leeching himself. Harry Potter was quite literally keeping a pet leech. At least until he learned the blood syphoning spell.
"You do look like you've been run down by a hippogriff, Mr. Potter. Very well, this way." Giving a mental sigh of relief, the young boy followed after the medical wizard to the very same cabinet he'd just visited, watching nervously as she pulled a sleeping draught out and handed it to him. Much too pleased she didn't discover the missing potions, he thanked her quickly and headed out, just in time to see all the Hogwarts student beginning to file to the Great Hall for introductions, as posed by the Headmaster himself.
Slowing down, Harry wondered if anyone would notice him missing, or if they did, would they care to figure out where he had gone. Biting his bottom lip in a nervous habit he'd adopted, the Gryffindor ducked down an empty hall and quickly made his way towards the second floor girls' lavatory. Somehow managing to dodge seeing Moaning Myrtle, Harry whispered to the right faucet and was on his way down to the Chamber of Secrets.
Almost immediately, he was greeted by a three foot hissing serpent, one that was blind and very protective of the Chambers.
"It me, Coal, calm yourself," he hissed, calming the serpent almost immediately. The entirely black serpent wasn't the only one in the Chambers; his two brothers and sister were also down there, and they were also the ones responsible for the low rat population in Hogwarts' sewer. Harry had taken the liberty of naming them all, though he wasn't exactly original with it.
"Master, you've returned," the serpent purred, slithering over to the child and letting his tongue flicker over the boy's hand. "You are still ill…"
"I will always be ill, Coal." His tone was defeated, but he didn't linger on what the serpent told him every time he came down to the Chambers. Instead, he followed down the path to the all too familiar open room, where his meager things were gathered. At the beginning of the year, he had stashed some belongings where no one could find them unless a parselmouth—and he didn't think Voldemort was going to come looking for his pet leech, medical books, and pictures of his parents any time soon.
As he approached the tank he had brought down for the leech, he was not surprised to find a foot and a half serpent coiled around it, waiting. "Hello, Ruby," he greeted the female, before removing his outer robe and making himself comfortable on the floor. Moments later, his shirt was tugged off over his head, and he set that aside, only to find the blind snake suddenly curling in it, hissing his pleasure of the warmth. Harry couldn't help but to smile.
"Has Master come to let the vile creature have his blood again?" Ruby asked, leaning her thin body up to glare into the tank at the leech.
"Yes." He didn't bother to explain it to her again, because she knew exactly why he had to leech himself. The four snakes that lived in the Chambers were like his family, and he told them everything—especially since Ron and Hermione seemed to be distancing themselves from him. Soon, he'd have no one but the serpents.
Fishing into the tank with his right hand, Harry let the glamours that shielded his body fall, revealing a myriad of scars, bruises, old cuts and burns. It also revealed how absurdly boney he was; his shoulders and collar bones jutted out awkwardly, while each rib was countable and his abdominal region was sunken in. His arms and legs were incredibly thin, which in turn made them incredibly fragile; he'd already once broken his right arm in class because of a spell backfiring and causing him to jerk, snapping the brittle bone. It wasn't like he wasn't eating, because he was (he'd finally been able to start eating solid things, a shred of a piece of fruit, for example, though it was still mostly soup, broth and juice), but it was a slow process to get the fat back on his body. Until then, he wore the glamours to keep others to see the disturbing sight of his gangly, brittle body.
"Master, I will catch a rat for you," Ruby offered, her black eyes peering at his body. "You have no meat."
"Thank you, Ruby, but that's all right," he said softly, running his fingers over the scales on her head. She seemed disappointed, (as disappointed as a snake could get) but said no more.
Grabbing the leech with his hand, Harry placed the creature over his abdominals, where immediately teeth punctured the skin and it began to drain him. Since a normal leech didn't have teeth sharp enough to cut through the thick skin, Harry had enchanted the thing to be a bit larger, with teeth a bit sharper. It was more painful for him, and he had to be careful of how long he allowed it to leech, but it worked well enough that he didn't stop.
"Master," another serpent hissed, slithering through the nearby water onto the cold stone Harry sat upon. This serpent was about two feet in length, and a murky green color. The boy had been just as creative naming him as he had been with Coal and Ruby.
"Scales, I see the hunt was good?" Harry could clearly see the lump in the serpents form.
"Yes, a plump rat on the edge of the pool," he hissed in agreement, slithering over to the human where he flicked his tongue over the ghostly skin, tasting Harry and getting his skin. Unlike Ruby and Coal, Scales did not comment on the boy's condition.
It was silent, while Harry leeched himself for the proper amount of time. When he began feeling light headed, he immediately pried the leech off with a bit of salt, before putting it back in the tank. Within seconds he had all three serpents coiling around him, eager to bring his brittle body heat when it obviously wasn't able to produce much on its own. Coal coiled around his waist, Scales around his shoulder and neck, and Ruby around an arm. Lucky he could support the extra weight, Harry said nothing as he took a blood replenishing potion and one for fighting infection, before eyeing the sleeping draught. Was it really such a good idea to sleep down there?
"You… you would keep me safe, right?" he asked the serpents hesitantly. He was immediately met with hisses of agreement, Coal going as far as to describe the violent death he would bring should someone dare try to hurt his Master. Unable to help the smile, Harry curled down on the stone, bringing his robe to use as a blanket and keeping his shirt as a pillow, before taking the draught.
Harry didn't know what time it was that he finally woke, but a low groan escaped his lips as he sat up, looking around. It took a moment to remember why he was in the Chambers still, before he cast a brief spell to see the time. It was nearly noon, but Saturday. He slept a lot longer than he intended to, but couldn't be bothered to care much. A bitter thought entered his thoughts; he doubted anyone noticed him gone. A disturbing thought followed suit—would anyone even notice if he withered up and died?
Finding his serpent friends were still with him—joined by Brutus, the seven foot dark blue snake—a smile graced his lips and he wondered if he had to leave. Maybe he could get a house elf to pop in down there and bring him food, and he could just live the rest of his life in the Chamber of Secrets. The Wizarding world could go fight Voldemort themselves.
"Master, let me come with you! I want to keep you safe always!" Ruby pleaded, rubbing her head against his jaw bone as he sat up. He smiled softly, running his fingers over her scaled head.
"I wish I could bring you with me, all of you—but I am not allowed, and I would not want anything to happen to you," he said regretfully, frowning deeply.
"One day you will be able to take us with you, Master," Scales said, nuzzling him too. It was going to make it harder to leave, Harry knew. He'd leave the few that cared about him to walk among those who didn't even want to see him most days. When he finally climbed out of the Chamber, he left the lavatory swiftly and headed to the great hall, feeling a bit stronger physically, but a lot weaker, emotionally.
Reviews would be awesome! Let me know if this story is worth continuing, or even suggestions! I don't have this set in stone yet, kind of making it up as I go, haha. One question: should Harry take Ruby or the others with him? Shrinking charms could work wonders, and then, what do you know, you've got the Boy-Who-Lived walking around with snakes in his pockets! ...Wow, that sounds like a perverted joke. Anywho, I would love reviews!