Author's Notes: Sigh…ff.net keeps crashing, and they won't freaking let me update! F*** them! Sheesh! Ok…calming down…right…here's a new chapter, brought to you after laborious struggles with ff.net's faulty systems. Enjoy…

A Fallen Angel

By chibi_tenshi

Snape's POV (1st person)

I quite literally crashed into the room, all composure gone as I fell back onto my couch. I had to suppress the urge to groan as I jarred the tender nerves that were still aflame with the latest bout of Cruciatus torture. Voldemort had been in a particularly vindictive mood today, when he finally got wind about Potter's previous whereabouts. To say that he was mad would be a severe understatement. He had already been livid enough when he discovered Privet Drive to be bereft of its usual occupants and filled with Aurors that few weeks ago. Finding out that Potter had actually resided there for years past only fueled his rage. I am quite willing to bet that every single Death Eater had suffered the Cruciatus curse at least twice through tonight.

Just as I was about to force myself up to retrieve some pain relieving potion, I felt someone press a vial against my lips. I attempted to force that foreign substance away from me when I heard Potter's voice, "It's a pain relieving potion. I got it from your shelf. It's not poisoned…at least I don't think it is. Drink it, it should help."

Of course, being the naturally paranoid person I am, I refused to accept the potion. I turned my head away despite the person's coaxing, and heard a sigh of exasperation before feeling my head being tilted up and the potion being forced down my throat. I could not help the feeling of panic that welled up within me, and I lashed out at the person.

There was slight tinkling as the vial fell across the room – still intact because of the shock-absorbing charms on it – as well as a soft litany of…something…originating from my left. I felt my head clear as the potion took effect and was able to sit up properly without feeling like the world was being inversed in front of me. As I focused my sight on the figure huddled next to me, I could make out from the wild nest of black hair that it was indeed Potter who had fed me the potion.

The said Potter was also rocking back and froth in a huddled heap, and as I strained my ears to catch what he was mumbling, I heard vague 'I'm sorry's and 'Please don't hurt me's. Astonished (though I'm quite sure only a slight widening of my eyes betrayed that), I reached over to touch Potter's shoulder…only to have him recoil in fright and scooting to a corner.

I frowned. I had never noticed how seriously damaged Potter's emotions were. Granted, I had never made any threatening gestures towards him, but Potter had never reacted this badly towards physical contact, not since I had taken him out of the Dursley's custody. I had seen flinches and cringing, but never to such an extent.

I moved forwards and pulled Potter into an awkward embrace, ignoring the creaking of my abused joints, and maintained a loose but secure grip against Potter's struggles. "Relax," I whispered in what I hoped was a soothing tone into his ear. "You are safe. There's no one here to hurt you…"

I continued along the same vein until Potter finally calmed down. After letting go of the boy and settling him down next to me, I got up and glided (as best I could in my current condition) to the shelf to gather a few more necessary potions – including muscle relaxants, bruise medicines, blood clotting potions, etc.

As I settled back to my original position, I heard Potter murmur a brief "sorry". I raised an eyebrow and asked, "For what, Mr. Potter?"

"For breaking down like that."

I pondered momentarily on the implications on that little statement. It could simply mean that Potter was embarrassed at breaking down in front of his Professor, and that he was being his usual headstrong and insufferable self who would never admit to a weakness in front of others. It could also suggest that Potter was hiding something from us, that there was something he had not told us, something that might be the cause of his strange distress…

"He found out didn't he?"

I turned his head sharply towards the boy. "Who is he, Potter? And what, exactly, did he find out about?"

Potter had a slightly shocked look on his face, as if he wasn't planning to voice that question out loud. He looked like he was going to brush off the question, before thinking better of it and replied, "Voldemort…he found out that I used to live at Privet Drive, didn't he? And that I am gone now?"

Whatever answer I had been expecting, it definitely wasn't this. I narrowed my eyes slightly and asked, a little more harshly than I had intended to, "How did you know, Potter?"

As Potter cowered away, I relaxed my stance, to show that I meant no harm, and Potter answered, shakily, "I saw him…"

"You what?!" I really couldn't help that. I cannot even begin to envision how Potter could have gotten anywhere near Voldemort when he was supposed to be safely within the Hogwarts walls, much less having seen him.

Potter seemed to be trying to suppress a whimper. "I…I dream about him at times…ever since I was young. It's happening more often lately, whenever he's torturing and killing anybody. And tonight…tonight…he tortured all of you, didn't he? He tortured all of you because he found out about me. It's all my fault. You were hurt, and it was all because of me…"

Oh sweet Merlin! He blamed himself for that?

"Potter…it's not your fault! You cannot blame yourself for what an egoistic maniac had done. Voldemort tortures people because he wants to, because he takes pleasure out of another's pain. It has nothing whatsoever to do with you…"

"But…but he would not even be here now if I had been more careful during the Triwizard Tournament, if I had gotten away in time. He would not be tormenting all those he could get his hands on if he had not found Privet Drive empty. I should have let him catch me…I should have let him kill me! I should have died with my parents!" By now, he had curled up into a ball again…as if to protect himself from further hurts.

I was shocked at that pronouncement. 'Just how damaged is he?' I wondered, as I gathered him in my arms again. "Potter," I said forcefully, "Don't ever say that! You do not deserve to die! Voldemort does. Do you have any idea how that would affect those that care about you? What would Black do if you died? Or Lupin? And there's the Weasleys, and Miss Granger. How would they feel if you were gone? Your parents didn't sacrifice themselves just so you can die with them!"

I had hoped that that might give him a reason to live. But I was wrong…I was utterly stunned when I heard him whisper to himself, "He's right, you selfish brat! All you think about is yourself! Selfish, stupid, worthless…"

Damn! He is twisting every single word I say!

"Potter! Po-Harry! Listen to me!" I shook him gently. "I did not mean that! And you are not worthless! It is not your fault that Voldemort has returned." I never thought I'd say this, but, "You were brave and courageous enough to face up to Voldemort 4 times in your entire life and intelligent enough to come back relatively unscathed. That's what most wizards twice your age could never boast about doing. Stronger wizards have been killed!"

"But…"

"Harry, do I look like the type that would lie about something as important as this?"

"No, but…"

"Do you trust me?"

This took a while. I could see the conflicting emotions on his face before he answered, "Yes…but…"

"Then trust me on this one. You do not deserve to die. You deserve to live, as do every other normal wizarding child. You should not have had this terrible burden being thrust upon you at such a young age, but it was, and you took it in stride. That's more than can be said for anyone else. You deserve to live a normal life after what you have been through, so stop blaming yourselves for every other thing, because it is not your fault!"

He did not look too convinced, but that will have to do for now. I will work building his self-confidence at a more gradual pace, but for now…

"What did you say about the visions again? I assume they are similar to visions, are they not?" I asked, after giving him some time to absorb what I had said earlier.

"I think they are. I sort of exist in them, like a specter. I couldn't touch anything. Most of the time, I seem to see things in Voldemort's point of view, as if I am seeing through his eyes. Sometimes, I may be just hovering near the area, like a passive observer. And…" he hesitated

"And?" I prompted.

"I feel what he does…every imperius, every cruciatus, every avada kedavra, and all those weird curses I've never heard about, like the one that shreds someone's skin off bit by bit, or the one that make you feel like you were being pulled apart along your limbs, or…" he trailed off, face pale and shivering feverishly.

I could not help a sharp intake of breath as I listened on with growing horror and alarm. How could he have experienced all that and still remain sound? Or is he already hovering along the edge of sanity? I tightened my arms around him reflexively, suddenly feeling an irrational urge to shield him from all the nightmares that are gnawing away on him, from all the terrors that haunt his everyday life. I could feel him flinch away fleetingly, before leaning back into my embrace.

And we stayed that way through the night. I know my bones are probably going to ache come tomorrow, but looking at the peaceful bundle in my arms, I could not help but think – perhaps there's hope yet…

***

TBC

(1695 words)

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Yap, Sev found out about his nightmares, at long last *rolls eyes*. He would have known so much sooner, if he had bothered to ask…stupid insensitive git *glares affectionately (is this even possible?)*

Also, Voldemort would have to be present for Harry to have the visions. He may see it in Voldie's POV, or he may be standing in the sidelines and watching. It is important to note that Harry only feels the effects of the curses that Voldie casts. He won't die, of course, with Avada Kedavra, since he technically should not be there, but he would feel what it does to the victims, i.e. the sudden, extreme pain as the curse rips your soul and life-force away from your body (at least, that's what I think it does…). There also won't be any physical injuries…

Another thing…in that second paragraph, Sev heard Harry's voice, but being distrustful of practically everything around him, he refused to accept the potion (remember polyjuice?)

Xikum - *grins* I have my reasons for a public trial…it kind of helps the plot get along (Gasp! There's a plot?!)…you'll see…later…

Thanks again to the reviewers *yay*…I love you all!

P.S. can anyone please tell me why the paragraphing in the centralizing function just refuses to work? I'm already saving this as an .htm file! And I still lose some of the bold and italics words along the way. It is freaking infuriating, especially when a sentence loses its dramatic effect without the italics function working! *argh*

P.P.S. from what I've found from the net, the OotP has two versions…an adults' one, and a children's one. But, apparently, the text is going to be the same. So…what's the point?

P.P.P.S. I just realized I'm never going to finish this fic before OotP comes out…*dramatic sigh* So, I'm going to put this on temporary hiatus, read the book, then either totally revamp the whole thing to fit OotP's plot, or revamp it anyway to make this thing flow more properly and treat it as an AU (as Hyperbole had said). Let's just see how it goes. *sigh again* Till then…tata! *bows, apologies and tries to avoid the rotten tomatoes*

Right…I realize that this notes are going to be longer than the text, so I'd better stop now…*laughs*…remember to REVIEW people!