Not sure how many mistakes are in this, because I wrote it at 3am, but oh well. It's a little too long for me to edit tonight. I'll look at it tomorrow.
This is my compensation piece because I am stuck on Chapter 17 for Glimpses. I hate asking this, but if you are reading it or have read it (or will read it, for that matter), could you possibly PM me any advice you might have? I'm always open to ideas, and I'm stuck...
I just got this idea when I was reading OOTP and noticed that she nearly used the Cruciatus... Also, I remember something about her putting the picture of Fudge facedown and saying "What Cornelius doesn't know doesn't hurt him" but it wasn't in the book so it must be in the film? Also, the majority of the italics are quotes taken directly from the fifth book (you'll know).
Fifth year had started. The days seemed to run together for weeks at a time. He never got any sleep, his homework was never finished, and he always dozed off in class. He found himself in detention more times than he could count, and received quite a few good tongue lashings from Snape for being so heedless in Potions, but he really couldn't find the will to care. After all, he was Harry bloody Potter and his scar ached, his hand burned, and his ever-present nightmares haunted even his waking mind.
So it wasn't quite a surprise when Professor Dolores Umbridge brought her stubby hand down hard on his desk, snapping his mind back into focus. The ugly rings that adorned her short little fingers snapped annoyingly on the desk, and Harry nearly flinched when she brought her toad-like face dangerously close to his.
"We wouldn't want our precious little 'Savior' falling asleep in Defense, now, would we?" she crooned into his face, her voice like poisoned chocolate and her breath like stale potions. Harry fought back the urge to wrinkle his nose.
"No, Professor," he replied dutifully, leaning back ever-so-slightly to breathe in a small quantity of fresh air. He bit back a retort that would surely land him in detention.
"What could you possibly learn about saving the world in your sleep?" Her sickly velvety voice spat the words like an insult, and Harry couldn't keep the next words from tumbling from his mouth.
"Much more than I'd ever learn in this class," he snapped, and Umbridge's face twisted into a satisfied smile as she turned to return to her desk. "Seeing as we haven't learned anything and Voldemort's been back for months!"
"Another week of detention should do it, Mr. Potter. You will learn not to spread attention-seeking little lies."
When Harry knocked on her door at five o'clock sharp that night, the back of his hand was already throbbing and he was dreading another night of torture from the wretched woman.
"Come in," came the high-pitched voice of the woman he hated most. He entered quietly, and wasn't surprised to see the quill already laid out for him on the desk that rested directly across from her own. She watched him carefully, sipping from her tea which was certainly much too sweet for anyone's liking. "I believe you know what to do."
Harry dumped his schoolbag beside the desk and took his seat, the seat he was very well familiar with by now. He picked up the quill and glared at her as he moved it toward the blank paper before him, dread pulsing through every inch of his fifteen-year-old body.
He fought back a hiss of pain as the quill began to flow smoothly across the parchment.
I must not tell lies.
Harry watched, partially fascinated, as the words etched themselves into the back of his hand. The scars he already had were reopened, and he watched as small droplets of blood appeared from the cuts.
I must not tell lies.
Again the quill sliced open his hand, this time deeper, more painful. Red liquid began to fill the wounds, creating a creepy message painted in blood on the back of his hand. Yet he still pushed on.
I must not tell lies.
The blood began to spill over and drip in small rivulets down his wrist and onto the parchment below his hand.
I must not tell lies.
I must not tell lies.
I must not tell lies.
I must not tell lies.
I must not tell lies.
By the time he had looked down at the back of his hand again, the blood from each letter had mixed together, creating an illegible swirl of crimson on his skin. And as he had done a thousand times before, he turned back to the parchment.
But this time, he stopped his movements abruptly, leaving the unusually sharp point of the quill poised less than an inch away from the parchment.
"I haven't been telling lies, Professor," Harry ground out through clenched teeth. He looked at the woman across from him, ignoring the pulsing pain in his hand.
Umbridge rose from her desk menacingly, past all the pictures of cats, past the gilded frame of Cornelius Fudge himself, until she planted herself firmly in front of the boy's desk.
"Oh, but you have," she hissed into his face, and she grabbed his bloody wrist with her sweaty palm. She pushed his hand down to the paper, watching in sadistic delight as Harry gasped in pain as a long glistening line appeared on both the paper and his hand, long enough cut open his arm to the elbow. "But Mr. Potter, clearly my methods have not been working on you. I believe we need to try something else."
She turned and picked up the framed portrait of Fudge, smiling gently at it – ew – before placing it face-down on the desk. She turned back toward Harry with an evil smile. He gulped audibly; that couldn't be good.
"Something else, Professor?" Harry sneered, confidence flooding into his voice – much more confidence than he felt. "What else could you possibly do?"
"A good dose of the Cruciatus Curse ought to help," Umbridge replied with a coldness that rivaled even Snape. The twisted smile on her face grew wider, making her look even more demented than usual.
Harry felt all the color fade from his face. The Cruciatus? Surely she wouldn't. . .
"Professor –" Harry protested, but his words were cut off by the witch before him, looking happier than she had ever been at the prospect of using the Unforgivable on her student.
"Crucio!" she cried, and Harry's knees gave out as he fell to the ground in agony.
He could not breathe, could not move. It was worse than every pain he had ever felt. Worse than the time Uncle Vernon had pressed his hand against the burner on the stove. Worse than the time Aunt Petunia had swung the frying pan at his head and he had been too slow to duck. In fact, he reckoned it was worse than all of that combined. He could not think, could not reason. Screams filled the room, but in the red haze that fogged his mind, he could not know that they were his. His hands hit the floor harshly, but even they were unable to hold his weight and he crashed to the stone floor. His forehead pressed against the coolness hard enough to leave marks, and yet he could not feel it. The screams turned to whimpers and the whimpers to long, drawn-out mewls. He felt his consciousness, his sanity – maybe even his very life – slipping away from him, but if this pain was the alternative, he was more than willing to let it go.
And then the pain stopped.
Harry raised his head slowly from the cool stone, looking into the eyes of his dreaded professor. Never had he hated another human being so much in his life. Not Quirrel. Not Snape. Not even Lord Voldemort himself.
He struggled to form words through the after-effects of the curse, but eventually came out with, "Professor." His voice was hoarse, his tone tremulous. His entire body shook, spasming every now and then as a result of his over-stretched nerves. "I must not tell lies, and I will not tell one now."
She leaned forward eagerly, her toad-like face stretched – if it was even possible – into an even wider, nastier grin. She looked very pleased with the results of her discipline.
"Yes, Mr. Potter?"
"Lord Voldemort is back." His head sunk to the ground with the effort of the words, and he found himself unable to see both the rage that gripped her at his words, causing her teeth to grind together and her face to turn a blotchy shade of purple, and the jerky movement of her arm as she raised her wand and thrust it toward the shaking figure on the floor for the second time that night.
It didn't take long for Harry to lose consciousness.
"Harry! C'mon, mate, you're gonna miss breakfast!"
Harry felt a hand grab his shoulder and shake his roughly. He jumped back in shock before realizing it was only Ron. The redhead gave him an odd look.
"You look like hell, Harry. Are you alright?" His voice was more concerned this time, less urgent to get down to the food.
Harry looked around and found that he was in the Gryffindor dorm room. Had it all been a dream? But a quick glance at the back of his hand and the shaky feeling of his limbs disproved that theory nearly immediately.
"How did – how did I get here? The last thing I remember was being in detention."
"Umbridge brought you up," Ron answered, a suspicious note to his tone. "She said you went off and fell asleep while writing lines in her detention, and she decided to bring you up. A bit sketchy if you ask me. I'm surprised she didn't torture you for the hell of it."
Harry flinched at the reminder. "Who's to say she didn't?" he remarked darkly, before pulling himself out of bed with a stifled gasp of pain. He covered up quickly by adding, "Merlin, the floor is cold."
After hastily dressing, Ron accompanied Harry down to breakfast. The Boy-Who-Lived was felt nauseous and dizzy and his entire body shook, but he would not admit to being weak. It was a battle of wills between him and Umbridge, and he would win.
"Wake up, Potter!" Snape bellowed and Harry's head snapped up immediately. "If you're not going to pay attention, we'll have to set up even more remedial potions lessons for you. As much as you may enjoy them, I have much better things to do with my time than sit there and watch you blunder potions first years should have no problem completing."
Harry fought back the urge to sneer but instead went with a more polite "Yes, sir." That reminded him, he had 'remedial potions' – or rather, Occlumency – with Snape later that night. Brilliant. Just brilliant. At least it would get him out of a detention with Umbridge. Merlin only knew what she would attempt this time around.
"Professor?" Harry asked tentatively after class, flanked on both sides by Ron and Hermione, who seemed certain he would be bitten by the snarky Potions professor at any moment.
"What, Potter? Don't you have something better to do than to ruin my day?" came the impatient reply.
"Sorry, sir, it's just that I have detention with Umb – Professor Umbridge, sir, and I'll have to miss the lesson tonight." He knew what the reply to that would be.
"You will not. I will inform your Defense teacher" – he sneered angrily – "of the conflict and you will attend both. I will expect you outside my office at seven o'clock rather than six. Do not be late."
The trio fled from the room, leaving Snape to his peace, or lack thereof.
Harry's movements were even more jerky and uncoordinated when he returned to Snape's office at seven o'clock that night. Feeling as if he were about to collapse from a new bout of torture at the hand of Umbridge, he knocked and entered, feeling the familiar trepidation that filled him at the sight of the jars filled with every kind of dead animal imaginable.
"Professor," he greeted, and watched as Snape eyed him coolly.
"Sit down," Snape snapped, and as soon as Harry had seated himself in the straight-backed chair, the man was inside his mind.
He was five, crying when he did not receive a Christmas gift. He was seven, hiding under the table to pick up the scraps that were dropped. He was in school, running from Dudley's band of hooligans, somehow finding himself on the roof.
"Focus!" Snape hissed. "Legilimens!"
He was ten, watching as Uncle Vernon tore apart his Hogwarts letter. He was eleven, eating cold soup pushed through a cat flap installed on his bedroom door.
"What was that, Potter?"
"Leave it!" Harry snapped, and he felt the man inside his mind once again.
He was eight, hiding in the tree all night to stay away from Aunt Marge's dog, Ripper. He was nearly thirteen, defending his mother's honor against the very same woman. He was six, locked in his cupboard for growing his hair back overnight. He was twelve, and his trolley had just bounced off the barrier to Platform 9 3/4.
Snape pulled back again. "Ah, so that really did happen?"
"Of course, sir," Harry answered automatically, clutching his head.
"You are not trying, Potter! Empty your mind!" Snape bit out harshly. He muttered the dreaded incantation again.
He was watching the bars be pulled off his window, Uncle Vernon barging in behind them as they left. He was drawing closer to Cho under the mistletoe.
"NO!" Harry shouted, and he blinked, finding himself in Snape's office once again.
"Better," Snape remarked, "but not good enough."
He was mouthing off to Umbridge in her class.
"I'm glad I let you have that detention."
He was running down the street in the pitch dark, trying to stand after being socked in the side of the head by Dudley. He was angry, oh so angry, with Dumbledore for avoiding him during the hearing. He was being fitted for his school robes, looking over at Draco Malfoy with distaste. He was sitting on a stool in front of everyone, listening to the Sorting Hat tell him he would do well in Slytherin.
Snape was looking at him carefully. "The Sorting Hat wanted to put you in Slytherin? Why did you not let it place you in my house?"
"Because I had just met Draco bloody Malfoy at Diagon Alley and on the train, and I wasn't about to be in the same house as a prick like that. And because I had just heard that there had never been a good wizard to come out of Slytherin!"
He was fourteen, watching the Goblet spit out his name. He was flying, watching the Dementors come nearer. He was watching an old man be murdered in a dream he once had. He was talking about the happiest memory he ever had with Professor Lupin. He was lying on the floor in Umbridge's office, screaming in agony while she stood over him yelling 'Crucio'.
Snape had pulled out of his mind once again, and was shaking with barely-controlled fury. Harry automatically moved to take a step back and tripped over the chair he had once been sitting in, falling over it and crashing to the floor.
Snape broke out of his trance and stalked over, picking Harry up by the collar. Spit flew from his mouth as he hissed, "Explain."
"Sir?" Harry stuttered in fear.
"What just happened?" Snape asked sharply. "What did I just see?"
Harry's mind flew back to the last memory, to Umbridge standing over him with barely contained glee at her student's pain.
"Last night's detention, Professor. And tonight's."
"Is that what she has been doing to you over the past month or so?" The older wizard's eyes were piercing, unreadable.
"No, sir. I've been writing lines," Harry answered somewhat honestly. Snape reached out suddenly and ripped his sleeve up on his arm.
"Lines," he spat. "Lines, indeed." After a moment of carefully inspecting the cuts on the back of Harry's hand, he looked up sharply. "How long has this been happening? Every detention?"
"Wait here, Potter." Snape disappeared from the room, only to reappear moments later, several potions held between his long fingers. "Where are you, Headmaster?" he muttered under his breath as he began to spread salve on the back of Harry's hand.
"Sir, I –" Harry managed as he fell to the floor. Snape reached out his arms and caught the boy easily.
"Albus, I'm going to kill you for letting that witch into this school," he muttered as he carried Harry through his office and into his quarters. He placed the boy on the bed, pouring several potions down his throat. "A blood quill. And unforgivables as well!"
When Harry awoke, his body ached everywhere. Raising an arm, he silently observed that it didn't shake nearly as much as it had the day before.
And yet he was warm, much too warm. He looked around, feeling his eyes widen in shock and dread as he looked around. This was not his dorm room in Gryffindor tower. This was a room that most certainly belonged to a Slytherin, and based on what he could remember of the night before, Harry had a very good idea of exactly whose bedroom he was in.
He had passed out – passed out – not only in Snape's presence, but practically on top of the man! Right after Snape had discovered what had been happening in his detentions with Umbridge, no less. Surely he would be laughed at for the rest of his life. The Potions Master had surely run off to tell Malfoy, who no doubt had told the story to all of Slytherin, who in turn would not hesitate to spread the news around the rest of the school. Harry groaned and threw both arms over his eyes in shame.
"That would be a sign that you are awake, I take it?" came a familiar drawling voice, and Harry yanked his arms away from his face to look at his dreaded Potions professor, who was currently standing in the doorway.
"Sir, please don't tell –" Harry began hurriedly, meaning to say 'Malfoy,' but Snape took his pleading a different way.
"Of course I will not tell her. I assure you that wretched woman will be gone from this school, and she will never step foot near it again. If only the Headmaster were here. . ." He trailed off, glowering dangerously.
"But sir, you don't… approve?" Harry asked tentatively, but shut his mouth quickly when a murderous look came over the man's face.
"How dare you accuse me of approving! I may dread every moment I spend with you dunderheads, but even I would never lay a hand on a student!" Snape snapped in anger, and Harry flinched back infinitesimally. "Now, you were subject to long bouts of the Cruciatus Curse, as well as severe treatment with a blood quill, which I assure you is entirely illegal and completely unauthorized by the Minister of Magic, Harry."
"Unless you would rather be called Potter?" When Harry shook his head no, Snape continued. "The Cruciatus Curse, as I'm sure you have noticed, puts an unhealthy amount of stress on your nerves, causing shaking, spasming, and apparently in your case, loss of consciousness. It will take a few days for you to recover fully, but you will be fine. The blood quill, on the other hand, has done extensive damage to your hand. I do not understand why you did not simply tell someone. You could have told the Headmaster. You could have told your Head of House. You could have told me, Harry. I do not care what fears you may have, when someone uses an object of that magnitude and with that much Dark magic, you are expected to let someone know. Why didn't you?"
"I couldn't. I couldn't get any of you in trouble. I couldn't let her think of me as weak because I couldn't take a few cuts on the back of my hand," Harry mumbled into his arms, which he had once again crossed over his face in response to the words of the Potions Master.
"A battle of wills," Snape echoed, and looked up at Harry fiercely. "Yes, I heard that in your head. Nevertheless, it appears your Gryffindor stubbornness prevails over everything the Sorting Hat saw in you. You sacrificed your own personal safety because you didn't want to be seen as weak. Typical Potter."
Harry felt himself growing angry. "I was fine!"
"You could have died! Do you not realize that? If I hadn't seen that particular memory tonight, if you hadn't collapsed in my office, you might not even be with us anymore! You would have gone off to bed like you normally do, and you probably would not have woken up this morning. Your brain can't take that kind of stress, Harry," Snape ranted, and Harry gave him a strange look.
"And why do you care now? It's not like you ever have before. You hate me." His arms were still wrapped tightly around his face.
"I have never hated you," the man replied in a strange tone. "I was by no means fond of you. I found you to be exactly like your father in every way and yet it appears I was wrong about you. James Potter would not have kept everything inside like you have. He would have gone running to the nearest teacher, crying about how his teacher had made his precious hand bleed and how he would be unable to play Quidditch for weeks because of it." A deep scowl was making its way onto the Potions Master's face.
"Don't talk about my father like that!" Harry snapped, looking at his professor with disdain. "He was a good man!"
"Good man?" Snape sneered. "Surely you aren't telling me you knew him? Knew him better than I, who grew up with him? Saw him every day at school? Your father was the furthest from good a man can ever be."
"He saved your life!" Desperate.
"He saved his own skin." Angry.
"He sacrificed himself for my mom! For me!" Insisting.
"And a great sacrifice that was," Snape sneered in response. "We have you to terrorize us every waking minute of the day, and his wife…" He trailed off, before regaining his voice. "You – I'll show you the truth." He yanked Harry out of bed, half-carrying, half-dragging him over to a sparkling Pensieve in the corner of the room. He dunked their heads in it unceremoniously.
Harry landed in the middle of a courtyard, and immediately recognized Hogwarts. His professor landed in a slightly more dignified manner beside him, his scowl deeper than Harry had seen it in a long while.
"Professor?" Harry asked, looking around in curiosity.
"Just watch," Snape grunted, his arms crossed firmly across his chest, his posture stiff and unyielding.
"Excellent," came a voice that could only belong to Harry's godfather, Sirius Black, "Snivellus."
Harry looked quickly between the surly man beside him and the thin, oily teenager who was making his way across the lawn. The resemblance was uncanny, and he quickly made the connection between the two.
He heard the shouted spells, and felt his anger growing slowly.
"Impedimenta!" as younger Snape jumped toward his wand.
"Scourgify!" and pink soap bubbles were immediately choking the younger Snape.
They – his father and the Marauders – were picking on a student who was clearly having trouble defending himself from them. How dare they! It was cowardice of the very worst kind!
Harry shot a glance over at his professor. The man was pointedly looking away, and Harry felt his anger begin to boil over.
But then his mother – and he just knew it was his mother – walked in. Surely this couldn't be right. Harry had always assumed they had been joined at the hip from the very moment they met. And yet she was looking at James like she absolutely hated him.
"What's he done to you?"
"Well, it's more the fact that he exists, if you know what I mean…."
Harry let out a growl through clenched teeth and out of the corner of his eye saw his teacher send him a startled look.
In the next moment, James was bleeding and the younger Snape was hanging upside down for everyone to see, legs and underwear on display.
The Snape beside Harry seemed to choke in disgust and looked away again, but not before Harry saw what appeared to be a tear falling down the man's cheek.
"LEAVE HIM ALONE!"
"I don't need help from filthy little Mudbloods like her!"
The Potions Master wiped another tear from his cheek as Lily stormed off and younger Snape was lifted into the air again.
"Who wants to see me take off Snivelly's pants?"
Harry felt a jerk as he was pulled from the Pensieve. He was dumped back on the bed as the man left the room. He returned a few minutes later, mask back in place.
"I recall you calling your father a good man. What do you think now that you have really seen how he acted?" Snape asked coldly.
"I didn't know," were the only words Harry could choke out in response.
"Obviously. I'm sure our little pampered Prince Potter would assume everyone was a good man, wouldn't he?"
"I'm not a pampered little prince, sir," Harry spat with as much venom as he could gather.
"Oh yes, I know. Now," the professor added, giving Harry a calculating look. "Do you care to explain a few of those memories?"
"Tell me, or I will make you tell me. I do not stand for abuse, Harry, and I will find a way to stop it whether you willingly admit that it happened or not," Snape threatened smoothly.
"I wasn't abused, Professor," Harry hissed.
"So explain sitting up in a tree all night because a dog was chasing you up. I saw your family laughing at you."
"It was a dog. Simple enough."
Snape narrowed his eyes at the lame explanation. "Locked in the cupboard under the stairs?"
"I accidentally locked myself in."
"You were crying."
"I was scared."
Snape moved on. "Punched in the side of the head by your cousin?"
Harry sighed. This one he could honestly explain. "He was scared, thought I was doing magic. The dementors were after us."
"A likely story," Snape scoffed, then continued his interrogation. "Food pushed through a cat flap on your door?"
"I didn't want to come out of my room, but they made sure I was eating."
"The food was cold," Snape retorted.
"I didn't care."
"You did," he answered. "And hiding under the table eating scraps?"
"I had already finished my dinner and there were no leftovers."
"Do not lie to me. You were stuck in the tree because your family simply did not care whether or not that dog bit you. You were locked in the cupboard under the stairs because that was your bedroom. Oh yes, I noticed the writing on the door, the cot on the floor. You had food pushed through a cat flap because you were likely in trouble, and they wanted to punish you. Yes, I noticed all the locks on your door. And the bars on the window, for that matter. And hiding under the table eating scraps? You hadn't eaten anything at all."
"There you go, assuming the worst of every situation."
"Harry, I relived those memories with you. Technically, I was there," Snape replied softly, much softer than Harry had ever heard his voice become.
Tense silence prevailed in the room for several minutes.
"I'm sorry!" Harry yelled suddenly, jumping off the bed and running toward the door. With a flick of his wand, Snape warded it shut. Harry pulled on it for several minutes before his shaking legs were no longer able to hold him, and he collapsed onto the stone floor. Snape picked him up with a sigh and placed him gently back onto the bed.
"Whatever are you sorry for?"
"I'm sorry for lying," the boy whispered, and Snape looked at him closely. "I don't know how it is you know what happened so well, but just send me back for being the little freak that I am."
Snape drew in a long breath before replying. "Do your relatives call you that?" There was a barely visible sigh. "You're not a freak, Harry. You're just the child who, however unfortunately, was chosen by the Dark Lord. You shouldn't have been and to be honest, it was entirely my fault." At Harry's questioning look, he continued, "I gave the prophecy – or what I heard of it – to the Dark Lord. It's my fault. I knew your mother, loved your mother, and it was worst mistake I ever made."
Harry watched the bitterness come out in the man, and reached out. "It's okay. It's not your fault. If it wasn't for Pettigrew, it wouldn't have even mattered." Snape shot him a glare in response and Harry shrank back.
"Don't justify it."
Harry moved closer to the angry man in front of him, hesitating in case he pulled his wand defensively. When he saw Snape wasn't going to hex him, he stood eye to eye with the man for a moment, bracing himself and testing the Potions Master's reaction. With a quiet intake of breath, Harry wrapped both arms tightly around his professor in a comforting hug.
Snape stiffened, instinctively reaching for his wand but forcing himself to stop. It felt reassuring, and besides, he quite liked the feeling of being held. It would always be his fault, of course, but from what it seemed, Harry didn't blame him – and even if he did, he was forgiven. And that was enough.
He sucked in a deep breath and wrapped his long arms around the fifteen-year-old who was currently hugging him. He leaned forward, plucking up all of his courage – and he had quite a lot of it, mind you – and whispering, "You don't ever have to go back if you don't want to, Harry. The Headmaster made the biggest mistake of his life in sending you to live your relatives, and I made one as well in not seeing the signs. I'm so, so sorry."
Harry shuddered lightly. "Could I move in with you?"
Snape hitched a breath, tightening his arms around the boy instinctively. "I suppose you could. I promise I will never hurt you like they did, Harry. But first, for Merlin's sake, could you take this potion? You're shaking!"
Stupid ending. Whatever. This is going to be a one-shot unless you beg, and even then it still might just be a one-shot. ;P
Thanks! And please review!