AN: This is my first attempt at publishing a fic. This story will eventually be slash, so if that bothers you, then don't read it! It won't happen for a while though, as I'm undecided on the pairing. If you see mistakes, they are mine as I don't have a beta. Feel free to tell me about them and I'll fix them as soon as I can. Enjoy!
Ronald Bilius Weasley is an arse, Harry thought. It was the first time he'd allowed his thoughts on the youngest Weasley boy to become quite so harsh. He'd never understood why Ron was the way he was. He knew Ron had some dormant issues with Harry- namely his wealth and fame- but it had never been this bad before. Harry was the constant target of harassment at the hands of Ron and several other Gryffindors. It was getting so bad that Harry couldn't even get out of Gryffindor Tower without at least one incident. He'd slipped in the bathroom more times than he cared to count due to well-placed slipping hexes courtesy of Ron and Seamus. Dean had kept quiet. He never helped Harry, but Harry was just glad that Dean wasn't siding with everyone else against Harry. It seemed that the only fourth year Gryffindors on his side were Hermione and Neville.
They had been doing their best to shield him from the worst of it, but they had limits. Hermione couldn't go everywhere with him, and Neville was naturally soft-spoken and had difficulties expressing himself, let alone standing up for someone else. Neville was always helpful after the fact, though. He did his best to help Harry get over the effects of whatever prank or insult had been thrown at the Boy-Who-Lived and tried to prevent Harry from breaking down. And he was doing a good job of it.
Or so he thought.
What Neville didn't know was that Harry was slowly losing the battle against the overwhelming harassment he was subjected to. He barely ate, and when he did, it would never be more than a piece or two of toast at breakfast, and maybe some rolls at dinner. He'd taken to getting to the Great Hall before everyone else to get his bread, which was all he had time for before Ron and his lackeys got there. If Harry was still around by the time they showed up, then Harry's food would mysteriously spoil, or disappear as he tried to swallow it. As a result, the raven-haired boy was slowly starving. Thick glamour charms concealed the fact that Harry was emaciated.
Harry never let the glamours down, not even to shower. The only time he ever took them off was while he was asleep, and only after carefully locking and warding the curtains around his four-poster bed. The only reason he hadn't collapsed already was the potions he'd been taking.
Unbeknownst to Professor Snape, Harry had been brewing his own Pepper-Up and nutrient supplement potions for quite some time. The previous summer he'd managed to keep his books from getting locked in the cupboard under the stairs at the Dursley's by shrinking them before he left Hogwarts after owl-ordering a few extras, just in case. He'd spelled them to return to their original size with the right keyword. Because of this, Harry had plenty to study over the break, in between being worked like a slave by his relatives. As such, Harry's understanding of several subjects had skyrocketed, including Potions. It was similar to cooking, really, and much less difficult without Snape breathing down his neck, looking for the smallest mistake to use as an excuse for punishment.
So, yes, Harry had improved in his understanding of several subjects, especially since he spent most of his time in obscure corners of the library in order to hide from his persecutors, but he wasn't about to let everybody know about it. He spent enough time in the spotlight already, thank you very much; he didn't need a sudden jump in grades making anybody curious or suspicious. And he couldn't really blame it on Hermione's influence either, as her attitude toward studying had always been the same.
So he stayed low. He kept away from the public's attention as much as it was possible for the Boy-Who-Lived—which wasn't very much, regrettably.
As a side effect of Ron's bullying, Harry hadn't gotten close to any of the visiting students. The members of Beauxbatons and Durmstrand avoided and ignored him, respectively. The Beauxbatons students made every effort to keep away from him. He wasn't up to their standards, he supposed. The Durmstrang students didn't shun him, per se; they just didn't pay him any attention. It was as if he didn't exist to them. That thought hurt, but it was less painful than the alternative.
Ron had been trying to get on Viktor Krum's good side. He'd buddied up to him every chance he got, but Krum seemed to simply brush him off. However, the youngest Weasley boy was persistent if nothing else. Within the month that the visitors had been there, Ron had managed to visibly irritate the Bulgarian Seeker and his schoolmates to the point where even Ron's flunkies would find an excuse to not be around when he started annoying Krum. They didn't want to be included in the many glares shot Ron's way or the ever so subtle hexes that had started being thrown his way when he got too mouthy.
Eventually though, Krum became interested in just who it was that the Weasley boy was constantly ranting about. The boy never gave a name, so he wasn't sure whom he was even talking about. He most likely thought that everybody felt the same as he and did not even bother with it. Krum thought. He does not realize that no one outside of this castle knows or cares for his petty arguments with the other students.
Ron had recently decided that Harry's name wasn't worth saying. He never used it anymore. All of Hogwarts knew of his hatred for the last Potter, so no name should be necessary. At least, not in Ron's opinion. What he didn't think about was, how were the Durmstrang and Beauxbatons students supposed to know about it, if nobody told them? Almost none of the students spent much time with those from the other schools. They were too intimidated by the veela-like nature of most of the Beauxbatons attendees, and the Durmstrangs made it obvious that they had no wish for company beyond their own. They were a bit like Slytherins that way, who were the only people who'd managed to last more than five minutes near any of the Durmstrang bunch, aside from the thickheaded Ron.
Ron seemed to believe that Harry had personally betrayed him somehow. Harry's name coming out of the Triwizard Cup had been a shock, and shock does things to a person. But, instead of dying, Ron had become poisonous and hurtful. He ranted and raged about how unfair it was that Harry got to compete, that Harry should have told him, and that he'd always known Harry was up to no good. That Harry was going to go Dark one of these days.
Even seeing him get nearly burnt to a crisp by an angry dragon hadn't settled Ron's ire for Harry. And Harry really did almost die. The Horntail had gotten in one good shot before the Gryffindor managed to snatch the egg. Harry had suffered in the hospital wing for three days before Madam Pomfrey allowed him to even stand, let alone attend classes. The vivid red burns had started at about the middle of Harry's ribcage on his left side and continued down until around mid-calf. The only good thing about it was that Harry finally got food that wasn't hexed or poisoned. Madam Pomfrey was practically shoving the huge meals down her patient's throat. The first night hadn't been very nice after she fed him, though. Harry had crawled-slowly- to the bathroom to throw up. His stomach couldn't handle so much food after eating so little for so long.
Thankfully, all that time Harry spent in the library had bore fruit. He'd managed to find the research journals of several obscure wizards with Spell Creation Masteries. One of them had detailed the process of casting a complex glamour that was easily tweaked to fit Harry's needs. The changes he'd made had allowed the glamours to function even while Madam Pomfrey was scanning his injuries and administering treatment. The only anomalies that appeared after her diagnostic spells were a few scrapes and the burn from the first task.
And so Ron's harassment continued. It got worse when he saw Rita Skeeter's article about Harry and her 'suspicions' about the relationship between him and Hermione. So Harry endured. Then Ron crossed a line.
Harry was on his way to Charms class on his first afternoon back in school when he heard it. It'd only been a week since the first task, and he was still recovering from some of the burns he'd gotten along his leg and side, so it was slow going. He'd left early to make sure he got there on time. He enjoyed Flitwick's classes and didn't want to be late.
"Oi! Scarhead!" Harry turned around slowly, wanting desperately to avoid the upcoming confrontation, but unable to think of a way out. Ron was tapping his foot impatiently, waiting for Harry to face him fully.
"Yes, Ron?" It was cautious and quiet, exactly the opposite of what people usually expected from The-Boy-Who-Lived. But the, Harry had never been what people expected.
"I heard about the nice, big, ugly scar you're gonna have after what that Horntail did to you," Ron said with a smirk. It's just too bad she didn't aim a little higher. She might have hit your head instead and killed you. Wouldn't that be nice?" Ron was enjoying this. He liked watching Harry flinch and his eyes widen as each verbal jab struck home. "In fact," he continued, "why don't you just finish the job yourself?" Harry jerked as if he'd been struck. "You'd be doing us a favor you know. Killing yourself. It'd make the world a better place. Without you, we'd all be able to relax. We wouldn't have to worry about you going insane and killing us all. The only reason people think you're special was an accident, and that you lived was a mistake."
Now that hurt. Harry couldn't believe Ron could go that far. Sure, he knew Ron didn't like him, maybe even hated him, but to suggest something like that…. And then the last thing he said clicked, and suddenly, Harry was angry. He was enraged. His wand was out and pointing at Weasley before he could blink. Ron fumbled at his pocket, trying to get his own wand before Harry started firing curses.
"You shut your mouth! My mum died trying to protect me! I don't give a flying fuck what you think about anything, but if you try and tell anyone that what my mum did was pointless or stupid or any other bloody thing your idiot head can think of, then I'll curse you so fast it'll make your eyes cross and get stuck that way." Ron had never seen the boy in front of him so angry. His fist was clenched around his wand in a white-knuckled grip and his green eyes were flashing, practically glowing from the force of his emotions. They were Killing Curse green and his hair was subtly shifting, as if in a light breeze as his magic rose around him, almost tangible.
Ron was suddenly very very afraid. He thought he'd been around Harry to know all there was about him, including his magic levels. But he'd never seen anything like this. You could feel the magic roll off Harry in waves, crackling and snapping as it responded to the raven's emotions, and it was terrifying to the redhead. Ron snapped back to reality as Harry continued, his voice growing louder
"It'd be an improvement anyways. Maybe then you'd be able to see what a git you are. Maybe you'd be able to see that Krum doesn't want anything to do with your bloody smear campaign and neither do any of the other Durmstrangs. But you're a fool, Ron Weasley, if you can't see that I will never allow anyone to speak badly of my mother. Her sacrifice saved me and helped to destroy Voldemort and- don't flinch at his name you bloody coward- and if you think that she did wrong, then maybe you are the one everybody should be suspecting of being Dark!" Harry's magic continued to force its way out of the small body, becoming almost visible in his anger. It made him look huge to the other boy, powerful like nothing he'd seen.
As if out of nowhere, Snape appeared behind Harry.
"Mr. Weasley! You will be serving a detention with Mr. Filch for provoking another student! Report to his office tonight after dinner."
"But, sir! He was the one-"
"And twenty points from Gryffindor for talking back to a teacher. Now get to class before I stop being nice." Snape snarled at the idiot child in front of him, and the boy ran off. He walked around the student in front of him, trying to get a look at the person's face. The brat seemed smaller than any of the fourth years, so he wondered why the Weasley boy had been arguing with him, wands out. But the magic he'd been able to feel three corridors over spoke of someone much older and more powerful than any student at the school, getting close to his own, if not Dumbledore's. When he came to a stop in front of the boy, whose magic was still permeating the air, his jaw nearly dropped in shock. If he hadn't spent years controlling his emotions to the degree that even the Dark Lord could decipher them, he probably would have fainted. Glaring at the redhead's retreating back was none other than Harry Potter.
Abruptly the boy looked up and met his eyes. His magical outflow cut off and Severus saw what he thought might have been fear cross the boy's face before his eyes rolled back in his head and he crumpled like a puppet with cut strings. The Potions Master jerked into action, barely catching the boy before he hit the ground. Severus swung the boy up and into his arms before heading to the hospital wing. He didn't know why the boy had fainted, but he thought it could be because of the injuries he'd taken during the tournament. Even he had to admit the boy's feat was impressive, especially considering he'd practically been on fire when he'd gotten past the she-dragon.
As he looked down at the boy in his arms, there was a rapid release of magic emanating from the small body. While he was watching, the Potter kid's form seemed to shrink in front of him. Bags appeared under his eyes and his cheekbones became more pronounced. His hipbone was sharp in Severus' side and- was he shorter? The Potion's master realized that the boy had been wearing glamours, and rather complex ones at that. But whom did he get to put them up for him? As a teacher, Severus was privy to the students' grades, and he didn't think the brat had the smarts to accomplish that kind of high-level casting. So unless the boy had friends in high places, Severus was at a loss to know who'd helped him. Maybe Albus helped him. He's got the power and skill for it. But why? Unexpectedly, Severus found himself concerned for the boy. If Albus had seen him like this- emaciated, small, nearly dead- then why had he put a glamour on him instead of getting him treatment? Suddenly, the hospital wing didn't sound like such a good idea. If he took the boy there, Albus was sure to know about it.
Severus abruptly turned and went back towards the dungeons. If Potter was in the middle of some sort of conspiracy, then he was probably in more danger than he had thought. Even if he didn't like the kid, he didn't want him dead. And if anything he'd learned over the years was true, then the boy was important. Severus didn't give credence to Albus' insistence that Potter was the only one with the ability to kill the Dark Lord, but it wasn't inconceivable that the two were tied together since that night thirteen years ago.
The Potions Master didn't loathe the boy, though that would surely surprise anyone who heard it. But, he did have a part to play, and if the Dark Lord ever suspected that Severus wasn't fully loyal, he wouldn't hesitate to kill him.
Entering his private quarters, Severus laid the boy on the couch. After locking the portrait door that guarded his rooms, he threw some floo powder into the hearth after flicking his wand to start a fire. The flames whooshed emerald green and Severus called out.
"Hospital wing, Madam Pomfrey!" Poppy appeared quickly, looking surprised.
"Severus! What is it? Have you had a cauldron explosion? Has a student been injured?" With the dunderheads he taught, Severus thought it was no surprise that Poppy immediately assumed that's what happened.
"No, Poppy, I haven't had a cauldron explode," Severus said dryly. He used to call her Madam Pomfrey, but eventually gave in under the persistent woman pressing him to use her first name. She was obstinate that they be on a first name basis. "I need you to bring your kit and floo to my quarters immediately. I'll explain when you get here." With that, he pulled his head back through the flames and set about making the boy on his couch as comfortable as possible until the medi-witch arrived. When she stepped through the flames, Severus immediately put up a distortion charm to make it difficult for the woman to see the boy. She raised an eyebrow at that, but waited for an explanation. "Before I show you why I needed you, I need an oath that you will not speak of this with anyone without my or the patient's prior consent. They look to be in pretty bad shape, but they've had glamour charms up for so long that it looks like they've become instinctual. They only fell when they were magically exhausted, and I suspect the child may be involved in something dangerous."
Severus looked at her steadily, waiting for a reaction. If she refused, he would tell her to leave and do what he could for the boy himself. He was a Potions Master after all. He might not be medically trained like Poppy, but working for both the Dark Lord and Albus Dumbledore required him to have at least basic knowledge of wound management. He looked back at Poppy as she raised her wand.
"I, medi-witch Poppy Marie Pomfrey do so swear upon my magic that I will not speak of, write about, or otherwise communicate what I am about to learn with anyone without the prior consent of Severus Tobias Snape or the patient I am about to treat." Her wand tip glowed a moment before fading. She cast a quick Lumos to prove her sincerity and then gestured to the couch, silently asking for him to take the charm down. When he did, the witch's eyes widened as she saw who was laying there. She whipped her head around to stare at Severus. What in Merlin's name was going on and why did he have a very severely undernourished Harry Potter lying comatose on his couch?
AN: What will Poppy's reaction to seeing Harry be? Will she try to find a way around the oath to tell Dumbledore? What happens when Harry wakes up?