Disclaimer: This story is not authorized, prepared, approved, licensed, or endorsed by J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any other individual or entity associated with the Harry Potter books or movies.
Somewhere in England was a school that cannot be found on maps. It's a school for witches and wizards. This school is called Hogwarts, and Harry Potter went to school there. He was the savior of the wizarding world, having defeated the Dark Lord several different times. In the fall of 1992, fifteen year old Harry Potter was sitting in a dark and cold dungeon that was lit by candles.
Harry sat in the back corner or the Potions classroom with his best friend Ron. They were partners in their potions assignment and Ron had forgotten his notes again, so he had to keep asking Harry what came next in the assignment.
"Harry… do the frog eyes go in before or after the fairy hair?" Ron asked. Harry paused to check his notes.
"Before," Harry answered and went back to stirring.
"OK… good." Ron breathed a sigh of relief.
Harry shook his head with a grin. He got so involved in counting his stirring that he didn't notice Snape standing behind him until Snape tapped his arm. He looked up and saw that his sleeve had been pushed up by the edge of the cauldron, and that Snape had noticed it. Harry pulled his sleeve back down, glaring at the professor just daring him to say something. Neither of them said anything and Snape walked back to the front of the class, leaving Harry in complete shock. He had expected Professor Snape to berate him and embarrass him in front of the class. That would have been the Snape thing to do. For all the years Harry had been going to school at Hogwarts, Snape had always seemed to resent Harry.
"Now… you should just about be finished stirring your potion. When you are finished, put your cauldron in the back of the room and then you may leave," Snape said. At once, everyone moved to put their cauldrons away and left.
"Not you, Potter. I want to speak with you. Please stay." Harry's face grew hot because he knew why Snape wanted to talk to him.
"You want us to wait for you?" Ron asked as Hermione joined them. Harry glanced at Snape and shook his head.
"No… go on."
Ron and Hermione were the last to leave, and Harry walked up to Snape's desk where he was patiently waiting.
"Sir?" Harry asked.
"Mister Potter, I want to know how those cuts got on your left arm."
"Oh well, Hermione's cat got angry and-"
"Try again, Mister Potter. Those aren't cat scratches." Snape interrupted. Harry looked down at his feet.
"Give me your arm." Snape said. Harry shook his head. "Give me your arm, boy!" Snape demanded louder. Harry reluctantly held out his left arm for Snape. He pushed up Harry's sleeve and inspected the arm.
"Just as I thought. There's plenty of old scars here, all about one inch long. Seems that they get wider. Have you been cutting deeper lately?"
"Wh- what?" Harry's face paled, "I don't cut myself, sir. That's crazy," he lied. Snape rolled his eyes.
"I'm not stupid, Potter. I know that you cut yourself. I know these marks. I don't know why I didn't notice before. You never seem to let anything get to you. I should have known something was up."
"I don't know what you are talking about, Professor," Harry said as he pulled his arm away. Snape rolled up his own sleeve and Harry saw scars on Snape's arms that looked almost identical to his. There were more than he had, but there were no new ones. Most of the scars surrounded Snape's Dark Mark.
"You?" Harry was shocked.
"Yes, Harry. I used to cut myself. That's why I know for sure that you do. Now… do you want to tell the truth?"
"Fine. I do cut myself, but I can control it. It's fine now, and I'll stop when I need to. I can stop. I just need it right now."
"Yeah… I thought the same thing. Harry, you are already starting to cut deeper. Soon, even that won't be enough to get rid of the pain. You'll cut deeper and more often until you accidentally cut too deep in the wrong spot." Snape said in a firm, but gentle voice.
"Yeah so? What do you care? I'm not going to kill myself, but what if I did die? I wouldn't be a bother to you anymore. And Hermione and Ron and everyone else wouldn't have to worry anymore. And the Hufflepuffs will have justice for me getting Cedric killed. If I hadn't made him take the cup with me last year, he never would have been there with Voldemort and me. Voldemort was after me and so he just had Wormtail kill Cedric like he was not even a person. Face it… everything would be better if I were dead."
"Everything would not be better if you were dead. Your friends would just be devastated, but not relieved of worry. And yes, you bother me sometimes… but I would be no happier if you died. I apologize for the way I have treated you in the past. The truth is that you just remind me so much of my own son, who died very young. I guess I was just bitter about his loss, and you brought back painful memories. And your death wouldn't bring justice for anything…. Cedric's death was not your fault." Harry didn't acknowledge any of what Snape said. He just kept his face neutral.
"Like I said before… I know what I'm doing and I can control it. So leave me alone." Harry started to walk out.
"Dumbledore will have to know." Snape said. Harry froze and turned to Snape.
"Please, don't. Please, he can't know. I can't have him thinking of me as some weak, crazy kid. I'm Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived and defeated the Dark Lord. People can't see any weakness in me."
"He won't think you're crazy… and you are only human. All human's have weaknesses. You have to know that. Dumbledore will just want for you to get better. Harry you have to stop this behavior." Snape said.
"Can't we work something out so that Dumbledore doesn't have to know?"
Snape shook his head. "He has to know… he's the headmaster." At this Harry hung his head in defeat. "You may go now," Snape said. Harry left, silently.
Severus Snape had gone straight to Headmaster Dumbledore's office after Harry had left. He stood in front of Dumbledore's large wooden desk He looked all over the gold laced office and at the moving photographs of famous wizards. He looked anywhere except straight into Dumbledore's eyes.
"Well, Severus, do you have any idea why he is cutting himself?" Dumbledore asked.
"No, I don't. I didn't really know why I cut when I was younger... besides, he didn't really like talking to me. I don't blame him with how hard I've treated him all these years," Snape said.
"Well, you are going to have to find a way to get him to talk to you. You are the best person for this job."
"Yes, sir." Snape nodded and left Dumbledore's office.
"What did Snape want?" Ron asked as soon as Harry stepped through the entrance to the Gryffindor common room.
"Nothing," Harry shook his head. He approached Ron and Hermione who were sitting in the large red chairs surrounding the large fireplace.
"What do you mean, nothing? You had to stay after for some reason."
"Well, it's none of your business."
"But we're best friend, Harry. Best friends tell each other everything," Ron frowned.
"I can't tell you because you're my best friend."
"Harry, you can tell us anything. We'll always be here." Hermione joined in. Harry started getting angry.
"I can't tell you. Just accept it."
"Wait... I know. Why didn't I see this before? It's so obvious," realized Ron. "It's about those cuts on your arm. You always have cuts on your arms and you always have a different excuse for each one."
"What is Ron talking about, Harry?" Hermione asked.
"Nothing. He doesn't know what he's talking about." Harry coldly said before rushing up to the dorms. Hermione turned to Ron.
"Well? What is going on?" she demanded to know. Ron's shoulders slumped.
"Haven't you ever noticed the cuts on his arms? They look too exact. I always dismissed them because Harry had an excuse for them, but I think in the back of my mind I knew that it just wasn't right." Hermione nodded at this and Ron continued, "Well, I think that he cuts himself. And Snape saw his arms today. I think that's why he held Harry back."
"Oh Ron..." Hermione looked devastated. "We have to tell someone."
"Dumbledore," Ron agreed. They both glanced up in the direction of the dorms where Harry had gone, and then headed for Dumbledore's office.
When they reached the gargoyle that led to Dumbledore's office, they realized that they didn't know the password.
"We know that he likes to use sweets for his passwords so let's try a bunch of different ones." Ron suggested. They tried different candies including Sugar Quills, Bertie Bott's Beans, Chocolate Frogs, and some muggle candies like Snickers, Twix, and Lion Bar.
"Ton Tongue Toffees," the calm voice of Snape said from behind them. It worked.
"Professor Snape? Wait... how does Dumbledore know about Fred and George's Toffees?" Ron asked.
"I have no idea. What do you wish to see the Headmaster for?" Snape asked. They didn't answer. "Let me guess... it's about Potter." At this, Hermione nodded. "I will accompany you to the office. Follow me." He stepped in front of them and gracefully swept up the spiral staircase behind the gargoyle.
"Headmaster, Mr. Weasley and Ms. Granger are here to speak with you," Snape said when they entered the office.
"Come in, sit down. Now, what would you like to speak to me about?" Dumbledore asked. Ron glanced unsurely towards Snape.
"Don't mind him," Dumbledore said.
"Well, we think that Harry's cutting himself on purpose. We see the cuts all the time, but he always has an excuse," Ron said. Hermione nodded in agreement.
"I see... yes. Professor Snape also shared this concern with me."
"He did? Well, I guess he would. Ron thought that was why Snape held Harry back today to talk," Hermione said.
"Yes, and I've put Professor Snape in charge of talking to Harry about this situation."
"Why?" Ron asked.
"That, I'm afraid, I cannot tell you," Dumbledore answered as he looked at Snape. Hermione and Ron accepted that and thanked both Snape and Dumbledore before leaving.
When Harry went up to the dorm, he felt like he was going to explode. He was so frustrated and angry with himself for letting his guard down and everyone else for finding out. He went straight to where he hid his blade in his trunk. Nobody else was in the dorms so it was safe. He got some towels to put under his arm and then he took the blade and sliced once across his left arm.
Immediately, he felt relief wash over him and he sighed. He cut once more and watched as the blood flowed in rivulets down his arm onto the towel. The blood cooled as it ran down his arm, sending shivers down his spine. After about a minute, he wiped his arm held the towel tightly around his arm until the bleeding slowed. He then cleaned up his mess and put the blade back in the trunk. He pulled a book out to read, as if nothing unusual had just happened. Time went by and when Ron came into the dorm he looked up from his book.
"You talked to Dumbledore," Harry stated simply. Ron nodded.
"Yeah we did."
"So did Snape."
"Listen Harry. We only did because we care about you. We want you to be happy and cutting yourself is not exactly a sign of happiness." Ron said.
"Yeah, I know.... I'm sorry." Harry sighed. Ron nodded.
"It's ok. I know that you-" Ron stopped in mid-sentence when he saw a dark spot on Harry's sleeve. "You did it again, didn't you?" Ron asked with narrowed eyes. Harry hesitated and shook his head.
"Harry, don't lie," Ron said. He, being bigger and stronger than Harry (as most people were), grabbed Harry's arm and pushed up the sleeve. He saw the two angry red gashes.
"Harry, why?" Ron asked. Harry shrugged.
"You have to stop this. You're gonna really hurt yourself one of these days."
"No, Ron. I know how to handle this. Please, just leave it alone." Harry said as he pulled his hand free and let his sleeve slide down. He had just been through this with Snape.
"Fine. I'll leave it to Snape to handle," Ron muttered.
"Snape... Dumbledore assigned him to talk to you," Ron explained.
"Oh great..." Harry mumbled as he sat back down on his bed and picked up his book again.
The next morning, Harry was on his way to the Great Hall for breakfast with Hermione and Ron. None of them said anything about yesterday, and the conversation was strained. They sat and ate their breakfast in silence, and next to them the whole Gryffindor table noticed the tension.
"Come on, you three. What's wrong?" Neville finally asked them.
"Nothing. We're just a bit tired," Harry said. Nobody bought his answer.
"Are you and Ron fighting again?" Seamus asked. Ron and Harry shook their heads.
"Are you both fighting with Hermione?" He guessed again.
"Nobody is fighting. We're just tired, like Harry said," Hermione told him. Everyone at the table kept trying to figure it out like a game, though. Harry stood up and decided he was done eating.
"I'm going back to the room," he announced.
"No, Mr. Potter. You'll be coming with me." Professor Snape said from behind him, making Harry jump in surprise.
"Why do you always sneak up from behind?" Harry asked, wanting to glare at his professor.
"Because you'd run away if you saw me approach from the front."
Harry obediently followed Snape to his office. He sat in a chair and Snape sat behind his desk. They both sat in silence for a minute before Snape started.
"Harry, I was asked by Dumbledore to talk to you about your cutting. First, I want to know if you know why you cut. There are many reason... to feel like you are real, to punish yourself, or to release a lot of pent up feelings," Snape explained. Harry looked up sharply at the last one.
"OK... I see I've hit something there. Harry... tell me, what do you feel when you cut?"
Harry crossed his arms and looked at Snape in silence. Snape sighed in exasperation and unconsciously ran his right hand over his arm where his dark mark was.
"Harry, when I turned from Voldemort to begin spying on him for the light, I felt horrible. I realized for the first time that I was a murderer. I wasn't just working for Voldemort, but I killed innocent people. Because I had begun spying, I wasn't put into Azkaban Prison. I never really had the punishment that I deserved. Because of this, I began to punish myself. My cutting was a punishment for the sins that I committed. I've revealed this to you, Harry. I'm going to ask you again… what do you feel when you cut?" Snape leaned over Harry. Harry fidgeted and began to pick imaginary lint off of his school robes as he tried to explain it to Snape.
"Well... um... OK, imagine a balloon. The balloon is filled with air and it looks nice and is doing fine. But somebody decides to keep filling it with air. After a while that balloon is going to pop, right? So you put a little hole in the balloon with out popping it, so that air can escape and the balloon is no longer in danger of popping. Well, I'm that balloon and sometimes there is just so much... bad feelings and I need to release them with a hole, like the balloon. Di- did that make any sense? Am I crazy?" Harry fidgeted uncomfortably.
"That makes perfect sense, Harry. I can understand what you are re going through, and you are not crazy. You just found a not-so-good way of coping with your feelings. But... before we can work on finding a new way to deal, you have to realize that what you are doing is bad." Snape said.
"Well, I know it's bad. But I like it... I mean it works so fast when nothing else does."
"Hmm... yes. These two are new. What triggered these?"
"Uh... I kinda got in a fight with Ron and Hermione when Ron realized what was going on. And you found out... and you were all telling Dumbledore. I felt like I was losing the one thing I had control over," Harry said.
"Mmhmm. Ok. I guess that's all this time. We'll talk at least once a week. More if I feel it's necessary or if you want to. And you can come see me anytime you need to."
"Ok that's fine. But... why the big change? Being nice to me, I mean," Harry asked.
"I realized that I can't just take my problems out on you and your friends... you have enough problems yourself. I guess I understand you better. I apologize for all that I have done to you these past four years." Snape said with sincerity.
"Thank you." Harry nodded. He stood up and left the office quietly.
The rest of Saturday and Sunday passed with nothing out of the ordinary happening. Harry, Ron, and Hermione all made up and things were more or less back to normal. Monday they went to Potions class together and sat in their usual spots towards the back, waiting for Snape to show up.
Everyone jumped when Snape, as usual, slammed the door open on his entrance.
"Today we will finish working on the potion from last week. Get your cauldron from the back of the room. I will come around and check if they are correct so far." Snape said. The class hurried to get their cauldrons and set them on their desks, waiting for Snape to come around.
Luckily for Neville, he was working with Hermione so his potion was actually correct. When Snape came around to Ron and Harry, he frowned. They both braced themselves for a lecture, but didn't get one.
"You're potion is purple. It should be blue.... probably too much fairy hair. That can be fixed later in the process. I'll help you when we come to that point." Snape stiffly said, and patted Harry on the back before walking away to check the next potion.
Snape smiled to himself at all the surprised faces, and at Ron's whispering to Harry.
"What bloody happened just now, Harry?"
At lunch everyone was talking about the change with Snape. The sixths years hadn't had Potions yet so Ron was trying to explain to them.
"It was bloody amazing. He came over and I thought he was going to yell at us... but he actually told us what to do to fix the potion," he was saying.
Harry laughed softly and Ron's amazement.
"Potter!" Draco yelled as he approached the table.
"Yeah, Malfoy?" Harry asked with raised eyebrows.
"What did you do to Snape? After you talk with him. He does a 180, and he starts being nice to you and your Gryffindork friends.... so what did you do to him?" he snarled.
"Sod off, Malfoy," Ron retorted.
"What, can't Potter fight his own battles? No, I guess not. That's how his mother died, isn't it? Fighting for Potter." Draco laughed. He walked away before any Gryffindor would punch him.
"Don't listen to him, Harry. He's jealous." Hermione said.
"Yeah, I guess." Harry said to please her. He picked up his book bag and rummaged around.
"I left my Divination book back in the dorms. I'd better go get it. I'll meet you in class after lunch." He said as he got up and left the Great Hall. He hurried up the staircase towards the Gryffindor house. He didn't stop when he heard Ron yelling for him to stop, but he tripped on the trick stair and Ron and Hermione caught up with him. He sighed and looked up at them.
"Harry, we're not stupid you know. Dumb lies like that aren't going to work," Ron said.
"They worked for the last four years," Harry replied as Ron helped him up.
"Last four... Harry, that's how long we've known you. How long have you been doing this?" Hermione asked.
"Since before you even knew me. Please... just let me go do this?" Harry pleaded.
"We can't do that... Harry, you know we can't," Ron told him.
"You have to let me... and you will," Harry turned from them and walked toward the house again. Hermione and Ron reluctantly walked behind Harry.
"Phoenix feather." Harry said when they reached the portrait. They entered the common room and Harry continued up the stairs to the dorm. Ron and Hermione stood their quietly until Ron cursed under his breath and rushed up the stairs to the dorm.
Ron slammed open the door, and was stilled by the scene before him. Harry looked as if he hadn't even noticed Ron enter. He was just watching the blood flow down his arm. Harry was about to make another cut, but was stopped by Ron's grip on his arm. Harry looked up, not recognizing Ron until he shook his head. His gaze became sharper.
"Ron... you should have stayed downstairs," Harry softly said. He then looked back down at his arm. Ron silently took the blade out of Harry's hand and led him to the bathroom. He then took Harry's bleeding arm and washed it.
"Ron... are you ok?"
"There was too much blood. I didn't come up sooner. I could have stopped you..." Ron muttered.
"Yeah maybe you could have... but I would have done it again anyways. Listen, I'm sorry you had to see that. Let's go get Hermione, and go to Divination." Harry said.
"Please... Harry please don't do that again," Ron pleaded. Harry didn't answer.
Saturday rolled around so fast for Harry, and once again he found himself in Snape's office.
"Harry, first I would like to see your arms." Snape began. Harry rolled up his sleeves and Snape saw the newest cut that was done last week. He looked at Harry for an explanation.
"My mother... Malfoy was right. I can't fight my own battle, and I couldn't when she died for me." Harry explained.
"You let Malfoy get to you? You were a baby when your parents died, Harry. Nobody could have defended themselves."
"But I wasn't a baby last year when Cedric died. I shouldn't have forced him take the cup with me."
"Harry, that wasn't your fault. None of this is your fault, and you must believe that."
"I can't help it! I mean... all my life I was told that everything was my fault, and that everything would have been better if I'd have died with my parents in the car crash. I didn't even know how my parents really died until Hagrid came to get me the summer before first year. He's the one that told me that Voldemort killed my parents. They said that I should be grateful just for the food and shelter they give me, and I can't just change what have been shoved in my head just because everyone tells me to! Everyone tells me it's not my fault now, but if they really felt that way wouldn't they have helped me? Nobody really cares about me... they only say they do, but they'll run away when something unexpected happens. I knew that from the moment I first got my Hogwarts letter... it was addressed to me in the cupboard under the stairs.... just that alone shows that somebody knew how the Dursley's treated me... but nobody cared enough to save me!" Harry ended with tears running down his face.
"Car crash? They told you that your parents died in a car crash? Harry, I'm terribly sorry. I don't know who addresses the letters, but I'm sure Dumbledore would have done something if he'd known." Snape told him. Harry nodded.
"Harry, the Dursley's put you down like that your whole life?" Again, Harry nodded.
"We'll have to get out of this way of thinking... the Dursley's were wrong and there is no excuse to treat a child like that."
"OK..." Harry agreed.
"Well, that should be all for now. Harry.. next time Draco Malfoy or anyone else upsets you, come to me and talk." Snape suggested. Harry nodded and got up and left.
Time passed quickly and it was already the anniversary of the night that Harry's parents died... Halloween. Although Harry knew that he should be celebrating with everyone, he couldn't manage to be cheerful that night. He knew that his mood was starting to bring down his friend, so he stood up from the table and excused himself from the feast in the Great Hall.
"Harry, where are you going?" Hermione asked.
"I think I'll go see Professor Snape," he said. Ron and Hermione nodded with understanding.
Harry walked through the halls of Hogwarts, not really looking at his surroundings. He stopped when he found himself in front of Snape's door. He raised his hand to knock, but stopped himself.
"No... I've bothered him enough already. I should just leave him alone for once," Harry said to himself. He turned and headed for the Gryffindor dorms instead. When he got to the fifth year boy's dorm, he unlocked his trunk and got out his blade. He twirled it around in his hand, watching the light reflect off of it.
"I missed you..." he muttered softly. He had finally agreed a few weeks ago to stop cutting himself because of how he saw it affect Ron when he witnessed it, and Hermione whenever she saw a new cut... but now it just seemed like the right thing to do.
"Once more won't hurt. I haven't cut myself in weeks, and just need to once... that's it. Just once," he reasoned with himself.
Finally, he shut up and dug the blade into the skin under his fore arm. Then he dragged it across and brought the blade up. He did it again, and then one more time.
"It's not working..." He took the blade with his other hand and cut his right arm three times also. When he actually looked at his arms, he saw that they were bleeding far more than they ever had before.
"Oh no..." he groaned. He pulled his sleeves over his arms in an effort to keep the blood from dripping on the carpet any more than it had already. Then he ran as fast as he could, out of the Gryffindor dorms, towards Snape's office.
When he finally reached the office, he was clutching the walls to stay upright as he fought the dizziness from blood loss. He knocked on the door and leaned against it, fighting to stay conscious. He lost the battle as the door opened, and he fell into the strong arms of Professor Snape.
"I'm sorry," he muttered before everything went black.