Truth and Consequences

A/N: Cannon through end of PoA. Deviates from cannon in GoF because the Triwizard Tournament is to be done in the spring of the year, with the guest arriving at the Yule ball instead of before. And so we have this instead. May be short, but I feel there is a pairing somewhere, though who I'm not sure of yet.

This is my first HP fic, and I was actually inspired to do this due to a wonderful fic that I have added to my favorites since links don't work so well on here, named Canticum Animam, by CharmedArtist. Please read this nice oneshot. I've used a similar idea (a spell that reveals openly to the others what Harry won't reveal otherwise) and I do hope that you enjoy my spin on the idea. The poetry is my own, however.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of Harry Potter, and sure don't get money from this. Thanks.

Things have been changed a little due to wonderful reviewers offering some comments and suggestions!

Warnings: Noncon and abuse of a minor, language, slash, later lemons.

Evil!Ministry, Mentor!Snape, Good!Dumbledore, Abused!Harry

Pairings undecided at this time.

Chapter One

Sneaky Snape Opens the Door

"Wait up!" Harry yelled as he ran across the grounds, seeing Hermione and Ron turn around and grin at him. It was warm and close to summer, and the trio was getting finished for the year.

"Harry, how'd you do?" Hermione asked, smiling at him.

"Great, at everything but potions," he said grumbling the last.

Ron laughed lightly. "Mate, I'll never understand why Snape hates you so much."

"Yeah, I still wish I could stay here all summer, even with Snape's class it's better than with the Dursleys." he said with a sigh.

His friends gave him a warm smile. "It won't be long until we're together again, Harry! Just keep your chin up! I know those relatives of yours aren't the nicest, but you've been through worse than a snarly uncle and cousin. Just keep Padfoot in mind!"

He knew that those words were meant to comfort, but they didn't, not at all. They didn't really understand. No one really did. At least he didn't live in the cupboard anymore, but the tiny locked room wasn't really much better. This was the end of his third year, and knowing he had a godfather was killing him. He had someone that cared about him. Someone that wanted him. Someone who didn't come to him in the dark and do things from the time he was little. But he couldn't tell them that. He couldn't even tell Sirius that. He could never admit to those terrible things he'd done in the dark.

"I know what you're thinking about, Harry, and it will be okay, he'll be cleared and then you can be with him instead of those awful people," Hermione said with a soft smile. He wanted to sneer and tell her to sod off, that she had no idea what he was thinking about at that moment.

"Yeah, I guess, but I'm not looking forward to it," he said frowning, pushing down memories as deeply as he could. It really wasn't fair that a thirteen, almost fourteen, year old had to endure this kind of torment. Between Voldemort, his stupid uncle and aunt, and everything it was just all too much sometimes. So much was expected of him. He was famous and didn't want to be. He was targeted and didn't want to be. And he was alone when he really needed someone.

"Well, let's go!" Ron said and off they went, Harry put up his smile and pushed back the fear eating its way through his heart. He knew what had been promised. And he wasn't looking forward to this summer. After the incident with Aunt Marge… He groaned to think of the way he'd be treated this time. His bones ached in anticipation, and he wondered how long he'd go between meals this time.

And so, there he sat, riding the train back with pure dread sitting in the pit of his stomach, praying to all the gods that he may or may not ever believe in and Merlin too that his uncle somehow had forgotten everything. He doubted it. It would be a long summer indeed. He almost could cry. Almost. But he didn't cry easily. He was too used to pain and things of that nature. No, Harry Potter, the fucking amazing boy who lived, wouldn't cry. Even though he was a scared little boy as soon as his feet touched the platform.

He said a morose farewell to his friends and headed toward the muggle world, hearing Ron call after, "It's not like your dyin', Harry!" He sighed and thought, If only you knew, Ron. Every time he stepped across that threshold into his personal hell, he died a little more. And he couldn't tell Ron. Despite how close they'd become in three years, he still couldn't bring himself to tell them what hells happened in that house. He was a wizard now; he shouldn't be moaning and complaining about the past. He trudged out to see the whale of a man waiting for him impatiently. Well, he hoped it would stay in the past. Somehow he doubted it. Going to Hogwarts hadn't tempered the summers at all so far, and he wasn't sure this year would change any.

"Get in the car," he growled as Harry did as he was told silently. "I'm not standing here all day waiting on your worthless hide." He scanned the area. Surely a snake would bite him if he could find a poisonous one. Spending time in the hospital was preferable to what he would endure this summer.

At the door he was shoved in, and he locked his trunk and things into his old room. He'd enchanted the trunk to only open for him, he really didn't want his things torn up, after all that trunk and Hedwig were all he had left. And the lock outside ensured that without his wand, he couldn't get in either to get to his things.

"Get up there. You don't exist," Vernon growled. Harry trudged up the stairs and into his room, closing the door and sitting down on the thinly covered cot. He sighed and heard the outer doors slam locked.

Well, he could certainly handle that. Not existing was better than his other options. He sighed, curling his legs to his chest to watch out the barred window as afternoon dwindled to night. He heard Dudley go to his room, and then the heavy steps of his uncle and the lighter ones of his aunt. He was hungry but he pushed the thought away. He'd stuffed himself on the train for this reason. He knew that he wouldn't get food for a while. And it would take a while for his body to adjust to not eating again. So, he pulled the thin sheet over him and shivered. He hoped that the door didn't open again, not tonight. He didn't think he could handle that tonight. Harry had never been very lucky, though. He was deeply asleep but came to wakefulness with a scream when realized he was pinned down again, his clothes already gone. How did he sleep through that?

"No!" he said with a choked scream as he felt his uncle's hand wrap around his mouth, crushing his lips hard enough to bloody both. He felt the slick slide of blood down his throat and off his chin.

"This is what yer good for, remember?" the hot, smelly breath of his uncle came into his ear.

He wouldn't cry, no matter what, this time he wasn't going to cry, but then he did when the familiar and horrible ripping and tearing sensation stabbed through him up his spine and down to the arches of his feet. Something tore, he felt the blood fill his insides again. His hands were in a vice lock above his head, and he didn't have the strength, even with all the Quidditch practice in the world, to shove the incredibly heavy man off him from this position, he wasn't sure anyone his age could have. He couldn't do anything but scream into the fat, sausage fingered hand crushing his lips. He couldn't even bite because his lips would be the only thing to suffer for it. Finally he was done, the stinging release sickening him even more than the pain shooting through his lower belly. He lay on him heavily for a long time, panting, crushing the breath out of him. Maybe he'd suffocate like this and someone would realize what was happening.

The whale of a man stood finally, and he couldn't move, he just had no strength. It was always worse the first week because he'd have plenty time to heal. And he'd spend the first week, here alone, without even his Aunt knowing what happened. Then after that, Vernon would still come into his room now and then, but later he was more careful to avoid leaving marks like the bruises on his face from his hand that he had now. And sometimes he was really lucky and only got beaten with the belt for whatever infraction he'd incurred for the day. And there was always something, something that he made Harry pay for.

"Nice ta see ya saved yourself for your dear old uncle," he said with a menacing chuckle.

When Harry didn't move, the belt came down over his back and down to his calves, leaving bright, red bleeding welts from shoulder down. He didn't have the strength to scream anymore, the blood and stickiness running from him now enough to make him want to retch. But wouldn't be permitted to leave the room yet, and he knew it. He still didn't move, and his uncle yanked him roughly to the floor to plant a booted foot into his ribs hard, making a loud crack. He had the strength to moan and curl in on himself. That was about all he had.

"Until tomorrow, nephew."

Harry made his way to the bed, knowing better than to remove soiled black sheet. He couldn't ruin the cot beneath it with his blood, after all. And the black was to hide what happened from Petunia. He sniffed and cradled his ribs and pulled the light blanket over him. If he had his wand he could use a clean charm, but he was for one too young to use magic in the muggle world, and for two, his wand was locked up with the rest of his things.

"Sirius," he whispered. "I miss you so much…"


To say that Harry was glad to be retrieved by the Weasleys was an understatement. And even after everything that happened, Harry still would rather have been there than with his relatives. School resumed, and so did the tortures of dealing with one annoying potion master who hated his guts for who knows why. He sighed heavily slipping into his seat beside Ron and hoping the dark man forgot he even existed. He'd had a horrible summer and he was still not completely recovered from it and was sore in places he didn't want to think about at the moment. The hard seats in Snape's room weren't doing him any favors on dealing with his uncle's parting gifts even though he'd had a lot of time to heal with the Weasleys. He was sure the bruises on his hips were bone deep, even now they'd just faded to a greenish color.

And so the first few days passed as expected, and Harry was glad. But it was getting harder and harder to hold up his masks as those days went on. He found himself shying away from everyone more, flinching away from his friends even worse than before. They'd asked him repeatedly if he was okay, more than once in the first, no matter how he tried to hide it, they'd gained a glimpse of the bruises left from the night before he'd been picked up by the Weasley's. It had been hard to hide in that house full of people, but he'd done his best. He'd still caught the glance that he'd gotten when Ron had caught him trotting to the bedroom with the towel around his waist one morning in the Burrow when he'd forgotten to take his clothes to the shower. He hadn't said anything, but he'd felt the lingering glance.

How could he ever tell them what happened? He was so used and broken and dirty. If they ever found out, they'd leave him for sure. No, they could never know, no one could ever know. He knew the cost of his silence was going to be that he'd have to keep returning to that awful place. But he had his pride, what little of that he had left now. This summer had been the worst, by far. Punishment for what had happened with Aunt Marge and that mess. Just thinking about it made him go pale and cold as he was walking past the courtyard. A pain shot through his abdomen again, something he'd felt on and off since he left for the Weasleys, and it made him remember what caused it. He was sure it should have gone away by now. But it hadn't. And he'd woken up the last few nights sweating and hot. He swallowed thickly and realized his hands were shaking quite badly.

"Hey Potter, what's the matter with you?" a familiar voice said behind him, and when a hand clasped his shoulder, he jumped almost into the wall.

"Fuck, Potter, the hell is wrong with you?" Draco Malfoy said, his eyes confused by the strange reaction.

He shook his head. "N-nothing, Draco. N-nothing," he stammered and tried to turn away from his blond nemesis. Just what he needed, to have this prat see him in his unguarded state. This wouldn't have happened if he just had more control over himself, but this year it was really hard after meeting Sirius. Knowing there was someone who wouldn't do those horrible things to him but would instead love him made it so much harder. He felt cursed.

Before he could move, his hand clamped over his bicep and spun him back around. "You look like a sheet, Potter," he said, a frown creasing his pale brows. "You sick? You look like you have a fever."

Harry could feel his body reacting to his touch, and he pulled away, trying desperately to mask his shaking by shoving his hands in his pockets. "I'm f-fine," he said, and walked away, leaving a very confused Draco.

"What's up, Malfoy?" Goyle's voice said walking up from behind him.

"Not sure, but Potter's acting weird," he said, watching as the raven haired boy disappeared into the courtyard, casting glances behind him, and weaving so he walked as far away from people as he could.

"It's Potter, he's always weird," Crabbe contended. "Spoiled little brat, remember?"

"Nah, something's off. Really off," he said, and headed down to the Slytherin dormitories. He left his two goons in the commons and headed to his godfather's chambers. He knocked.

"Enter," came the gruff response.

The dark haired potion master looked up, look softening to see Draco, only a tiny bit, however. "Yes, Draco, can I help you with something? As you can see, I'm busy."

"Um, I have something I wanted to talk to you about," he said thoughtfully.

Snape raised a brow, noting the seriousness of the boy's demeanor, and stood up. "Something going on I should know about?"

"Well, it's not about me. What would you say if someone suddenly started acting really weird and not the way they are supposed to?" he asked, not really wanting to tell his godfather who he was talking about.

Snape crossed his arms, hands hiding in the folds of his robe. "Is there a problem with one of your housemates?" Snape had had his share of boys and girls that he'd had to help in his house with a load of different issues, though the other houses would have no idea.

Draco shifted. "Nah, another house. And I don't want to say who until I know if there's something to tell. It may be nothing, and I…I don't know this person enough to say for sure."

Snape sighed. "Well I can't tell much by that. Are they acting like there is something wrong, or are you thinking something else is going on?" Stupid child, he thought.

"No, not yet, I mean, it might be stupid," the blond boy said shaking his head. Draco was quickly losing his nerve.

"Well, it depends on how they're acting different, Draco. I can't say with that much of a description."

"You know, it really isn't anything, come to think about it. I shouldn't have come," he stammered, thinking perhaps it best be left alone after all. If Potter didn't want to talk, he wouldn't talk. And it was stupid for him, Draco Malfoy, to think that the great Harry Potter needed any help. He'd just turn it down like he had before.

With that, Draco turned on his heel and left the room. Snape stared after him for a while. He supposed the boy was of the age to have some romantic interests, perhaps this was about something like that, a person acting odd around him? Definite sign of a crush. He shook his head, not really sure what else it could possibly be.


As they entered potions Thursday that first week, they entered to see Snape fiddling with a strange bottle with swirling purple misty liquid. He turned to the class.

"Class, today we're taking a day to expand your knowledge of how potions work in combination with charms and other spells. Today we're going to do a small ritual called Carmina Cordi, or the Heartpoem. Put simply, when the potion is ingested after casting the Carmina Cordi charm on the Animus potion, the quill and parchment on your desk will write down the Heartpoem of your partner while it is recited in a vocalization drawn directly from the heart. The reason this is a charm and a potion is the potion acts as a sort of truth serum, while the charm pulls the information out in a poetry format. The poem reflects the subject's heart.

"No doubt you are wondering why this would be used. This ritual is used for several reasons, including questioning, ascertaining true motives, and for partners wishing to expand their connection to each other. Most importantly, for this type of potion/spell combination, this is the safest and most obvious example. There is little that can go wrong with the simple Animus potion, and even less with such a simple charm. You will see when the two are combined, they create a very unique effect. In essence, there are many ways to combine potions with spellwork of many kinds.

"When we're done, everyone will have heard the other's poems. This is also an exercise in trust with your fellow potion maker. Potter, do not blow up Mr. Weasley when you make the potion," he said, rolling his eyes. Oh he couldn't wait to see what the precious Potter's poem would say. He imagined it would exude arrogance and pride.

Before long, the class all had vials of clear liquid sitting in front of him. Snape was pleasantly surprised when even Potter and Weasley's potion came out perfectly clear. He nodded to them with no comment.

"Now, raise your wands and cast Mainfesto Carmina Cordi directly on the potion. The potion should take on a purple mist-like quality," he said, watching as everyone did the casting. He was pleasantly surprised when he looked out to see each potion well formed. "Now you cannot cast this charm on yourself, so trade with your partner, and drink the potion when I come by your area. Don't worry, I've checked your potions, and surprisingly all of them have come out correctly, even Potter and Weasley."

He looked around, and landing his eyes on the pair. May as well get them out of the way first. "Potter, let Weasley have your potion and let's see what his poem has to say."

Ron took the potion and drank it, the quill running over the parchment as a strong male voice spoke in a firm tone.

"Red and white, seeking the light.
Twisting in the end, looking for a friend.
Taking a hand, tripping down in the sand.
Drawn into where they've all gone,
where they've all shone,
and so much is not me, and it is only my reflection.
Behind the rest, against the test,
to be known as me, can't they see?
Alone and surrounded at the same,
and there is inside something that can't be tamed."

Harry blinked and looked up at Snape who stood thoughtfully. Ron sat quite proud that his poem had come out so…poetic. "Very good, Mr. Weasley, please hand your potion over to Potter."

Ron, still basking in the glow of having a really cool sounding poem, handed the potion over the Harry who stared at it, concentrating his hardest on thoughts of good things. Maybe if he thought long enough he'd come up with a good poem that would continue to do the job of hiding his nightmares. He drank the potion, and a watery, almost tearful female voice began in a mournful sounding song-like quality as the quill scrambled across the parchment in front of Ron. At the first sound, the whole class had become enraptured and Snape frowned and stared at the quill and parchment as if it were to blame entirely.

"The light was stolen in a flash of green.
Love was sealed and never more mine.
Hiding in the dark of night behind locked doors,
Telling them all with a fake smile I'm fine.
Hush, he's coming; this is the fear, locks click one by one,
Hush child, don't scream, drip blood and break bone,
Hush child, just close your eyes and forget,
Hush child, and let the world die, and then die alone.
Blood dripping and sliding to release the pain,
Crimson like tears and dripping through the floor,
No one to make it stop, before this throat bleeds raw,
Gone, weight lifted, but the pain remains, click locks the door.
Night terrors that are all too real come to choke
Around the thoughts that would try to rise,
Innocence lost too early before it had a chance,
And then the nightmare comes, never dies.
Dive away, dive to the depths of two worlds.
Slip and slide and get away between two worlds.
Expectation runs high and this child is not enough,
Not when the stains are too deep and disgusting,
Waiting for summer's end is all there is after all,
Not good enough for what they want,
Not enough, used and tossed away into the fall.
Not enough when there's no one to help it,
Not enough when there's no one to stop it,
Not enough when there's no one to dry the tears.
Not enough when there's no one to keep away fears.
The monster's in the dark, the monster's too real,
And alone, alone, always alone, left to feel."

Utter and complete silence feel on the room, until they heard a choked sob emit from Harry as he stumbled to his feet, knocking the chair backward and darting from the room faster than the potion master thought possible. Ron picked up the paper with a shaking hand and looked up at his professor, then to the equally shocked face of Hermione.

"Oh god, how have we not seen it," she whispered. "The bruises, the hiding when he's dressing…"

Snape dropped a hand on her shoulder, and she looked up at him, and he for once had a look of sadness across his face. Draco was staring at his lap.

"Draco, it was Potter wasn't it?" he said softly, honestly not caring. Everyone in the room had just become privy to the horrible truth of the Boy Who Lived.

"I…I had…no idea it was…that…I just thought…" he said, looking up with haunted eyes. "I mean…"

Snape sighed, knowing that Draco had thought maybe he was getting knocked around, something they were both familiar with in the den of snakes. Death Eaters were not always kind to their children. Snape reached out and took the parchment from Ron.

"Class dismissed for the day. And if I find any one of you who has the gall to talk about Mr. Potter's situation outside of this room, will not only have detention with me for the rest of the year, I guarantee the rest of your time in Hogwarts will be hell. Granger, Weasley, Malfoy, stay."

Once the others had escaped his dungeon like room, he turned to the three students with him. "I need you three to find him and get him to the hospital wing immediately. Unless Madam Pomfrey can confirm this, or Potter lets me view his memories, we can do nothing. And yes, I do believe we're dealing with the worst. Mr. Potter would not have bolted otherwise. And Draco already made the observation he's been different since returning this term."

Hermione nodded. "He's always jumpy at the beginning of the term," she said softly. "And he doesn't like for anyone to stand too close to him or hug him ever, but…it's always worse at the beginning of term and before the end of the term... I just thought he didn't like it. And he hides from everyone even Ron and his brothers when he changes clothes, usually locked in a bedroom or bath…and we just thought he was overly shy…"

"You mentioned he had bruises?" Snape asked.

Ron nodded. "We went and got him to go to the Quidditch game, and he was changing when I walked in on him, and I could have sworn he had bruises on his back but he turned around too fast. And he was walking from the shower one day, but he was quick to get into the room with the door closed…"

Snape nodded. It wasn't like he could blame a group of fourteen year old kids for not realizing what was happening. He could, however, blame himself and any number of teachers who had missed the signs. And Dumbledore that kept sending him back to the horrid place, swearing it was safer. How could anyone think this was safer? He was Lily's child and he was being abused, sexually abused even, by that fat whale of a husband to Petunia. Honestly, he wasn't that surprised.

"Find him and get him to the hospital wing, I'm going ahead to talk to Madam Pomfrey," Snape said, taking off and robes billowing, his dungeon bat persona once more showing up.

All three students looked at each other for a moment. Hermione looked at the other two.

"He's not going to want to go. We have to get him there. Can you cast Petrificus Totalis?" she asked the two boys.

Draco nodded, followed by Ron. "Then if he won't come, use it. We can't let him do this alone. We've got to find him."

With that, they all ran from the room in different directions to find their fellow. While both Hermione and Ron were wary of Draco being included, they didn't mind the help finding Harry. After three hours they were starting to worry. But none were willing to give up. Hermione had scoured the whole of their tower as well as the hall and kitchen, getting some strange looks as she did so since she was supposed to be in potions. Ron had searched the Quiddictch pitch and locker rooms as well as Hagrid's.

But it was Draco that would find him first in the place his other two friends would never look, in the dungeons. He obviously was thinking that Ron and Hermione would be looking for him, but he didn't anticipate Draco coming to look for him. He heard something and shifted his vision and found a set of thick draperies near a painting. A tall thin woman in the painting was looking downward and then saw Draco. She pointed to the thick drapery and Draco thought he could see a pair of shoes just barely. He could hear, as he got closer, the sniffing sound of the boy crying still. It had been three hours already, and he was still this upset…well, he supposed he couldn't blame him. He must be freezing, though, it was cold down here.

He moved forward silently and yanked the drapery up to reveal the boy, head tucked into his knees. His head shot up, eyes wide and he made as if to run but Draco held up his wand.

"Don't do it, Potter. I'll petrify you and carry you."

Harry looked around frantically. "What do you want, Malfoy?"

"Come on, you're coming with me to the hospital wing," he said, arching a brow.

Harry shook his head. "There's nothing wrong with me, leave me alone."

"I thought I told you, I'll petrify you and carry you, and that would be much more embarrassing than just walking for yourself," he said, pointing the wand at him again. "You're in no condition to disarm me at the moment. No concentration if you could even get your wand out."

Harry gave him his hardest glare and stood up slowly, wobbling on numb feet. He stomped a couple times then realized Malfoy wasn't going to let him walk behind him. He grumbled and walked in front of the infuriating Slytherin. Why couldn't they just leave it alone? He crossed his arms and walked staring at the ground the entire way, attempting to mask the waves of dizziness that overcame him a time or two and hoping Draco hadn't noticed. When they entered, he looked up to see Snape sitting in a chair.

"I see your escort found you. Draco, go let Weasley and Granger know that you've brought Potter to the infirmary," Snape said, waving a hand at the blond. Harry glared at him as the medi-witch came out.

"Yes, sir, but something's wrong, he almost passed out twice on the way over here," Draco informed him.

Harry frowned and gave him a glare, only to have it returned with a satisfied smirk as the blonde turned on his heels and left the infirmary. He looked up to see the mediwitch way too close and he stepped backward into the bed behind him.

"Harry, dear, are you going to tell me what's going on?" she asked gently.

"Nothing. I'm fine. Can I go?" he said tightly.

Pomfrey looked at Snape who stood up. "Potter, sit down, now," he said in a voice that would take no challenge. Harry glared at him and huffed, finally sitting on the bed, refusing to look at anyone.

"Now, dear, I'm going to put up the curtain, then I need you to disrobe for me, not all the way, just down take off your shirt," she said gently.

Snape caught the terrified expression in his face. "What, just scan me like you always do, I'm not taking off my clothes!"

He could see the tension ramping up in his body, and realized that they were going to get nowhere like this. He thought through his options. He was a child in need of intervention immediately, and possible medical attention, and he was sure Poppy would not restrain him. They needed to check for bruising and scarring before they were gone, otherwise they'd have no recourse on getting him away from that place. He knew it was possibly the wrong thing to do, and he would have to beg the boy's forgiveness later, but he felt it was more important to get him to a safe place. He flicked his wand and sent for a sleep potion, and when it was in his hand, he spelled it quickly into Harry. He sat back stiffly, both hands going to his stomach as he felt the potion drop into his stomach. He turned with a glare to see Snape holding the empty potion bottle. He opened his mouth to talk but his eyes fluttered and he flopped backward onto the bed, making Poppy turn to him and then he just nodded.

"I don't think he would tolerate the exam," he said by way of explanation. "This is perhaps better, so I can be a second to witness the results of the exam. He was heading into an anxiety attack as it is."

"Severus, I'm not sure about this, but it's obvious the boy is feverish, so I'll have to treat him for that at least. And I can't have him having a panic attack while I'm trying to find the source of whatever his infection is, but please, give me some advance notice or ask first. I'd rather not force patients into sleep without their consent," she said but she saw the tortured look on his almost always impassive face. He'd taken the initiative to sedate him so she didn't have to, and now he'd be blamed if anything came of it instead of her. This was certainly something unexpected from Snape. Minerva or Albus even, but not Snape.

She nodded, and together they laid him back on the bed and pulled a sheet over his lower body. She then flicked her wand and spelled his robes and shirt onto the chair beside them, folded neatly. Both of them looked down and back at each other. His chest was heavily scarred with what looked like cuts, burns and welt marks. They gently turned him to his stomach to find his back in worse shape. There were obvious belt marks from his shoulders all the way down to the top of his pants. At the top of the band to his boxers were obvious deep bruises that went underneath them. They covered him up completely and she sighed deeply.

"Good Merlin, Severus, how is the headmaster letting this boy stay in such a place?" she whispered. "This is not all a recent event, it looks like some of this scarring is years old. Before Hogwarts."

Snape swallowed. "I'm hoping that the answer is he doesn't realize it. Because if that's not the case…"

She nodded. "We'll need to check for signs of sexual abuse, but I'll scan for that, the damage will be mostly internal if that's the case. I don't feel there is any doubt, from what you gave me already, and the symptoms are pretty obvious."

She closed her eyes and a warm light flowed out over him as she cast the detailed diagnostic spell over his body. "How have I missed this, he's been in here…"

"Never this close to the beginning, though, if I'm not wrong. His scars would have been less noticeable, but most of these look fresh, from this summer, perhaps, which would explain his increased jumpiness at the beginning of this term, it would seem this year was particularly hard on him for some reason," Snape said, looking up to see that the medi-witch looked sick.

"Severus, this is serious…I have to do some repairing. The boy has got to be in pain right now. The tearing was serious, but it was untreated, and hasn't really healed correctly, some not healed yet. He's swollen and I am sure he's developed an infection…not only that he's severely malnourished, underweight I'm guessing by several pounds," she said, looking up at him.

They heard someone beyond the curtain. Snape nodded to her and stepped out to see the three other students. He looked at her. "Maybe Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger could offer some timeframe for you. They were with him at the end of summer."

Pomfrey smiled at the three students. "Dears, I need to know, it seems you spent some time with him this summer?"

Ron and Hermione went on to detail their trip to the Quidditch, how long Harry had stayed with them, and what all they had done. Draco let her know what he'd seen. She'd already seen the results of the ritual spellwork from the classroom. She sighed.

"The timing coincides with the state of healing of his injuries, Severus. This happened before the Weasley's picked him up. But we don't know for sure who is the person who hurt him, I mean it is obvious that it was those awful relatives of his, but I can't say for certain who. It could have been any of them, and at this point so far out, for all I know it could have been his aunt," she said softly.

Snape nodded. "I think I may need to use my skills. He won't like it, but he is underage, and we are doing this for his wellbeing. But it would be easier than him having to voice it. We already know, and have evidence, the question is simply who at this point. I'm going to the headmaster with your results, hopefully, he'll see reason and stop with the blood wards being safer for him."

Snape billowed out the door and the others stood for a moment. "Madam Pomfrey, is he okay?"

"He's sleeping, he wouldn't let me examine him, he was too upset, so Professor Snape spelled a sleeping draught into him so we could see what was happening with him," she said smiling.

"Is he…I mean, did that really happen, what we think?" Draco asked, finally getting up the guts to say something.

She sighed. "I really can't talk about it, dears, now Harry will be asleep for a few hours more; you three head off to class. He has a fever and a bit of infection, so he'll stay here for the next day or two before he goes back to class. Come visit after class, now head on. Professor Snape wrote an excuse for each of you."

They headed out and in the meantime, Snape found himself standing before the headmaster, aghast.

"What do you mean, not enough evidence?" he asked.

"We have to have unequivocal evidence or we can't remove him. The blood wards keep you know who away from him, and it is essential that he not get his hands on Harry," Dumbledore said with a sigh.

"He's safer anywhere but there, Albus, he's been raped for Merlin's sake!" Snape growled.

"And we can't confirm it was his family. For all we know, he may have a boyfriend over the summer that is abusing him. Until we can confirm where the damage is from, we can't do anything at all," Dumbledore said softly.

"Then will me retrieving the memories of the abuse suffice?" Snape asked with a sigh.

Dumbledore nodded. "Of course, or if he would name his abuser himself."

Snape looked at the headmaster like he had two heads. "He won't do that, and you know it.

"He has to agree to let you retrieve the memories, or it is considered under duress and we can't use it to change anything," he said, eyeing him.

"Then I will get his permission. I'm not going to let her son suffer like this, blood wards or no," he said and swirled out of the room.

Dumbledore massaged the bridge of his nose. He knew Snape was furious with him, he was furious with himself, to be honest. He'd known something wasn't right but he thought it couldn't be this terrible. And now he was face to face with his own failings as the boy's magical guardian. If it weren't for the idiots at the ministry, he would have raised the boy himself, but for some reason, they wanted him raised by those infuriating muggles. Something about keeping him out of the spotlight as he grew up. Dumbledore was beginning to think it was a bunch of bunk, though. He didn't know for sure, but he had a sneaking suspicion that there were ulterior motives behind their insistence that Harry stay with those people every summer. Would they change their mind now?

He doubted without iron clad evidence, the answer would be no. He knew the bureaucracy too well. They wanted Harry where he was, and he was beginning to think there was more to it than simply the blood wards. And those were attuned to Petunia, which Dumbledore could not imagine abusing the boy, even as much as she resented her sister and her magic. He was still a boy. So he made a choice. He would go to Number 4 Private Drive and ask the muggle woman himself. If Petunia didn't know what was happening under her roof, then would her reaction reveal it? He could only hope.