"Get out here, boy!"
Vernon Dursley pounded on the door to the cupboard under the stairs. When the door didn't open, Vernon used the strength of his size to pull it from the hinges and dragged his wife's nephew out of the tiny room by his wrist.
"When I tell you to do something, you do it!" Vernon screamed in the thirteen-year-old boy's face. He threw the child against the wall and proceeded to kick at him. The boy gasped when he felt his uncle's large foot hit his chest repeatedly.
As soon as Vernon stopped for no more than a second, Harry scrambled over to a corner of the room. He pulled his knees up to his chest and covered his head with his arms. Rocking back and forth, he mumbled for his uncle to stop, but Vernon showed no signs of ceasing any time soon.
"I'm sorry for whatever I did, please, stop, I'm sorry..."
Thursday, September 2, 1993
"I'm sorry for whatever I did, please, stop, I'm sorry..."
"Harry!" He felt someone shaking him and whispering. "Harry, wake up, Snape--"
Harry awoke quickly when he heard the deep, angry voice. He looked around and saw that he was in his Potions class, and that the whole class was staring at him. The Slytherins on the opposite side of the room were all snickering, whereas the Gryffindors watched silently. Harry's best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, looked concerned. Hearing the Potions Master's voice again, Harry snapped his head up to look at the professor. Once he saw the man's pale face, his expression full of anger, Harry turned his gaze towards his hands in his lap.
"Mr. Potter, do you realize that it is only the first day back to school, and you have already fallen asleep in my class?" Professor Snape sneered at him. "One would think that you would have had enough time during your summer holidays to sleep, and not have to do it in my class! Look at me when I'm talking to you, Potter!"
"I-I'm sorry, sir," Harry stuttered, quietly. "It won't-- It won't happen again."
"I should hope not. Twenty points from Gryffindor, and you will have three days of detention. Stay after class to arrange them."
At that, Hermione swore that she saw a flicker of fear in Harry's eyes. Looking back at Snape, she realized that she hadn't been the only one to notice. The teacher's expression showed slight surprise.
"Yes, sir." Harry looked back to his hands, and Snape made his way back to the front of the room.
"Everyone take your cauldrons out!" he announced. "I want you all to make the Eye Color Potion, and it must be done by the end of class; otherwise, you will stay here and finish it."
Hermione went to sit next to Harry, as the potion was to be made in partners. As they readied their ingredients, Hermione spoke quietly to Harry.
"Are you all right? It sounded like you were having a pretty bad dream." Harry merely nodded. He didn't want to get into more trouble for talking.
At the end of class, everyone left except for Harry, Hermione, and Ron.
"Do you want us to wait for you?" Hermione asked.
"No... You two don't need to be late to Charms as well," Harry responded, quietly. "Go on. I'll be there as soon as I can."
"Good luck, mate," Ron offered, clapping a hand on Harry's shoulder. Harry inhaled sharply when a surge of pain coursed through his arm and back. "Sorry about that. We'll see you later." Harry's friends left, and Harry gathered his books, carrying them in his right arm. He slowly made his way up to Snape's desk, where the teacher was scribbling on a piece of paper. He didn't even look at Harry.
"Potter, if you answer some questions for me, then I will reconsider your detentions."
"Wh-what kinds of questions, sir?" Harry wondered.
"Can you give me a good reason as to why you fell asleep in my class on the first day of school?"
"I didn't sleep very well over the holiday, sir," the boy answered, truthfully. "I'm just really tired... I tried to stay awake, Professor, I really did!" Snape's eyes narrowed when he heard the shaky tone in Harry's voice.
"You had a nightmare today. You were talking in your sleep, and you were telling someone not to hurt you."
"Yes, Potter, you were." Snape changed the subject. "I also noticed that you have gotten thinner over the summer, yet at breakfast this morning, you ate nearly everything you saw. It was quite disgusting, might I add... It has been like that every year you've been at Hogwarts. You come looking thin and sick, and you leave looking healthy and strong. But then when you come back, it's the same thing. Why is that, Potter?"
"Um... I don't know, sir."
"There is something else I noticed about you today, Potter." The professor took this time to look up, and kept his gaze set on Harry. "When you arrived at the beginning of class, you were out of breath, yet you could not breathe properly because it obviously caused you a severe amount of pain. You have several cuts and bruises on your face and your neck, and I believe I saw a bandage on your left wrist. Also, I saw your reaction when Mr. Weasley touched your shoulder just now.
"But do you know what stood out most in my mind, Mr. Potter?" Harry shook his head. "You seem afraid of me. That in itself shows that something isn't right with you, because never before have you seemed scared of me."
"So tell me... Why am I noticing all these strange things about you? Why are you in so much physical pain? Where did all those injuries come from? Why do you look like you will suddenly just fall apart if I say the wrong word or make a wrong move?"
"I-I don't know, sir." Harry's voice was no more than a whisper.
"You don't know, Potter?" Snape asked in a soft voice. "Or you don't want to tell me?" Harry was silent. "Very well, then. You may go." Harry nodded and headed for the door. "Oh, and Potter? Forget the detentions, and don't ever fall asleep in my class again."
"How did it go with Snape, Harry?" Hermione asked at lunch, as they hadn't gotten a chance to talk in Charms. Harry shrugged his shoulders.
"No detentions," he said, quietly. Ron's mouth dropped open.
"How did you get out of it?!" he asked in awe. "Last year I had to go to Snape's detentions even if I was sick!" Harry shook his head and stood up from the table.
"I'm not feeling very well," he mumbled. "I think I'm going to go up to the dorm and..." His words trailed to an end.
"Do you need to go to the hospital wing?" Hermione wondered, a look of concern taking over her face.
"No, I--I think I just need some sleep." With that, Harry left the Great Hall. Hermione turned to look at Ron.
"He doesn't look good at all, Ron," she sighed.
"Do you think Snape did something to him?" Ron wondered, his eyes wide. "Maybe gave him some kind of sickness potion, or--"
"No, no!" Hermione cut him off. "Didn't you see how he was acting in Potions? And that nightmare he had... Something's wrong. Something is really wrong."
"Should we tell Dumbledore?" Hermione closed her eyes and took a deep breath, then looked back at her friend.
"Yes. I think we should tell him right away. After lunch, we'll tell him."
Meanwhile, Harry was dragging himself up the stairs to the Gryffindor Tower. He prayed that the staircases wouldn't move, and thankfully, they didn't. Slowly but surely, Harry made it to the portrait of the Fat Lady with no trouble.
"You look a fright!" the Fat Lady exclaimed when she saw Harry.
"Yeah, I know," Harry sighed. "Chocolate frog."
The portrait swung open, and Harry went up to the room he shared with Ron, Neville, Seamus, and Dean. After rummaging through his trunk, Harry climbed into his bed, under the blankets, and clutched a small object in his hand.
Why is this the only thing that brings me comfort anymore?He thought to himself shortly before drifting off to a restless sleep.
Ron and Hermione had planned on catching Dumbledore before he left the Great Hall, but when they finished their lunch, the looked up towards the teachers' table and found that the headmaster was already gone.
"Oh, I knew we should have gone to him sooner!" Hermione sighed.
"Let's ask McGonagall where he went," Ron suggested. "Then if we can't talk to him, we'll talk to her." Hermione agreed, and the two of them quickly headed for Professor McGonagall, the Transfiguration teacher.
"Professor!" Ron exclaimed, running up to the woman.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Weasley, Miss Granger, but I must go to a meeting with Professor Dumbledore," McGonagall said.
"Professor, please, this is an emergency," Hermione begged. "We need to talk to either you or Professor Dumbledore im-med-iately." McGonagall stared at the two for a moment, noticing that Harry wasn't with them. That was odd, since the three were hardly ever separated.
"All right," the professor said. "Follow me." She led them up to Dumbledore's office and said the password to get in. "Headmaster, you have two visitors who say that they need to speak with you immediately."
Albus Dumbledore came to greet his guests and brought them to a sofa, where they all sat down. McGonagall sat in a chair, as well, as Hermione had said that they wanted to talk to the teacher too.
"Miss Granger, Mr. Weasley, what can I do for you?" Dumbledore asked.
"Headmaster, something is wrong with Harry," Hermione began. The old man held a hand up to stop her.
"Are you referring to his lack of sleep, his nightmares, and his sudden fear of people?"
"How did you know?" Ron asked.
"Professor Snape came to me after he spoke with Mr. Potter," Dumbledore explained. "It seems that the same things, plus others, have concerned him as well."
"Professor Snape, concerned about Harry Potter?" Ron snorted. "I don't believe that." Hermione elbowed Ron in his side.
"What other things, Headmaster?" she wondered.
"Snape has noticed that every year, Harry leaves the school healthy, and when he comes back, he is very thin and sickly." The Headmaster glanced at McGonagall, then back at the students.
"Professor Snape also noticed that Harry has several cuts and bruises on his face and on his neck. He saw a bandage on Harry's wrist, and it seemed that he has shoulder, back, and chest injuries, as well."
"Where is Harry now?" McGonagall inquired, softly, after a few moments. Hermione and Ron were still shocked by what they'd heard from Dumbledore. They hadn't noticed the injuries!
"Um... He said he wasn't feeling well," Ron replied. "He went up to the dorm to get some sleep."
"We asked if he wanted to go see Madam Pomfrey," Hermione added. "But he insisted that all he needed was sleep."
"You are good friends for coming to me about this," Dumbledore told them. "To be so concerned about Harry."
"What are you going to do?" Ron asked.
"I am going to ask all of Harry's teachers to keep an eye on him for the next day or so. They are to report to me as much about his behavior as they can. After that, I will insist that he go to the hospital wing, if only to be checked out by Madam Pomfrey. From there, I don't know what I'll do yet. If you find anything else strange, or if anything worries you, please let me know." Hermione and Ron agreed.
"Thank you, sir," Hermione said.