Authors Notes: In-The-Shadows (or as I like to say, Abby ^^), write Severus' charming POV. I write Harry's cute POV ^_^ The POV's may change fast, but I believe, along with our beta reader, Blessedsilence(thanks Chantry! ^^) that it's still easy to follow.
Part 1 - At First Sight
By Shadows and Redrum
Severus watched as his newest A level Senior English class filed slowly through the door. This was going to be a very long day. It was obvious from the look of them that none of them had the proper discipline to survive his course...yet. He was the kind of teacher that found by the time students came to him it was best to dunk their heads underwater and see if they could swim; they certainly would respond to no less.
Scanning the classroom once he walked briskly to his teachers podium and began with his usual opener, an exposure to real literature. Without bothering to look at the paper he recited the poem he knew by heart.
"Out of the night that covers me
Black as the pit from pole to pole
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced or cried aloud
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how straight the gait
or how charged with punishments the scroll
I am the captain of my fate
I am the master of me soul."
Severus paused briefly, scanning the class again before continuing, "That, class, was an untitled work by William Ernest Henley written in 1903; it is called, by many, 'Faith’. William was afflicted with Tuberculosis most of his life which caused him great pains and the loss of his left arm. He wrote this poem as a way of mocking the gods. The reason I start out with this poem is because of its excellent rhythm. Rhythm, more than anything else, is what really makes a poem come alive. Now, in case you haven't guessed already, we are starting with poetry this year. I don't want any of you thinking that it will be easy, because it is often the best of poems that require the most work."
Striding over to the board, he scrawled in elegant cursive, 'Emily Dickinson.' "Will all of you please open the poetry books on your desk to page ten." Scanning the back row (where the trouble makers usually were) Severus spied a thin black haired boy with startling emerald eyes. He knew his name because he made a point of knowing every student's name before they entered his class. This was the loner: Harry Potter. "Mr. Potter, read aloud for the class the first of Mrs. Dickinson's poems," Snape finished absentmindedly, rubbing a small circle on the interior of his left forearm, but anything that might have been there to cause the discomfort was effectively hidden by a long black button up shirt and long black trousers to match.
Harry shook his head, dislodging the feelings the recited poem had reproduced inside him. Looking down at the aged text, he pushed his black, thin, wired frame glasses higher up his nose before taking a deep breath. He always did hate reading in front of the class. He usually ended up stuttering and embarrassing the hell out of himself. Sighing again, Harry glanced down at the crinkled page in front of him.
"Success is c-counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Re-requires sorest need.
Not one of all the pur- purple host
Who took the flag today
Can te-tell the definition,
So clear, of victory,
As he, defeated, dying,
On whose forbidden ear
The distant stra-strains of triumph
Break, agonized and clear."
Harry sighed, glad to have finished it. The warmth spreading over his cheeks made him duck his head further down, allowing his choppy hair to obscure his face. He glanced over the words again, thinking them over. He was never good at analyzing poems but if he took it apart he found it a lot easier.
The first stanza would, in a broad sense, mean that the grass is greener on the other side. The rich can't accept what they have, always wanting more. While the poor know how to make the most of what they have, and when they do receive something, they know how to treasure it.
The second stanza would be along the lines of; those that hold the flag didn't really take part in the war, so can't feel what true victory feels like.
The last one was what touched him the most. A soldier, lying all alone, no one around to help him, while others celebrated the end of war and he lay there dying. He could place himself in that position: being all alone while the others around him just didn't understand or didn't care; carrying on with their lives without a care in the world while he lay there suffering. Crying out, but no one hearing him. Oh yes, he could sympathize.
He couldn't ever remember a time where he was cared for and thought about. No, that was a lie. He had distant memories of a happier time, when he was younger and still living with his parents. But they had passed away in a car accident; killed by a drunk driver. Up until that moment his life had been perfect bliss. He still had the naivety of a child; thinking that the world would forever be a perfect and loving place with cheerful and caring people inhabiting it. Oh, how wrong he had been.
Harry had ended up moving into his aunt and uncle's house and everything had gone down hill from there. He barely remembered what it felt like to have comforting arms around him when he woke up from a nightmare, could barely remember the feeling of security. But those faint hints of happier times made it all the worse. It meant that he had something to compare the life he had now to, and everyone knows that it's no good, being stuck in the past. But sometimes he couldn't help it. It's not like he had anything to look forward to in the future.
All he had now was his poetry and story writing; an escape from his life. He knew he wasn't that good, but it didn't stop him from writing. Writing helped him to express his emotions. Although he could be overly sensitive at times he tried to hold it back. Everyone knows it's improper for young men to cry; even when it feels like their heart is breaking in two.
He ran a hand through his hair; the passing thought of needing a hair cut entering his mind before he quenched it knowing that with the length of hair came something to hide behind. He sighed and looked up at the teacher. Suddenly realizing that the rest of the class was looking at him, he blushed (oh how he wished that he could stop the frequent reaction) and frowned wondering what he had missed. Surely he hadn't been that lost in his thoughts?
Severus looked over the raven haired teen almost as if he were appraising his worth as a student, when in fact he was just going over the reading in his head. He was obviously self conscious but he'd gone through the poem fairly smoothly and spoken the words with excellent infliction of emotion. He looked like he held raw talent with a lot of potential; potential Severus had no intention of wasting. "Your dictation needs work Potter. It is the verbal presentation of poetry that is above all things most important. See me after class."
Walking briskly away from Harry and back up to his podium, Severus spun around and asked the class, "Now, would anyone care to interpret the poem you have just heard?" A single hand shot up into the air with over-enthusiasm and Severus groaned inwardly. A teacher's pet, this was not what he needed. Why did the students he receive have to be dead or foaming at the mouth to be valedictorian? "Yes, Ms. Granger?" he dared to ask. Hermione prattled on for the better part of ten minutes before Severus managed to cut her off, if a bit rudely.
"That will be all, Ms. Granger." Shifting his attention to the class again he said, "Poetry is more than meter, stanza, and grammar ladies and gentlemen. Even though a good rhythm can make or break a poem, it is the emotion that goes into a poem that makes it important. These three things together: emotion, rhythm, and dictation," he shot Harry a pointed look before continuing, "are the keys to great poetry. Now, I realize you might have very well slid easily through all of your other English classes without even noticing a change, but this year you will be forced to use your brains. There will be no slowing down. There will be no repetition of information. Some of you will be going to college next year and if you don't start using your brains now you'll never survive. So I intend to have you create a portfolio to track your progress. If you cannot see any results yourself why bother, correct? Your homework assignment for tonight will be to obtain a folder and to attempt one free form poem of your own creation. It will be graded, so do try to write about something more interesting then how you plan to survive the terrors of my classroom; trust me, it has been done to tedium."
Pausing for breath, Severus turned to Draco, his next victim. "Mr. Malfoy, please read the second poem on that page." Draco's haughty voice filled the air, effectively ruining the desperate sadness the speaker of the poem was clearly supposed to have. Severus fought not to cringe. This trust fund baby was probably beyond his help by now. Another tough case. Lucius was lucky they were friends or he’d have kicked the boy out then and their.
Letting his eyes wander back over to Harry for a moment he decided he definitely wanted to look into this boy more. It had been so long since he'd had the chance to coach someone halfway competent, and he was ready to jump at the chance.
Harry cringed as soon as Malfoy started talking. Looking down at the poem on the opposite page from the one he had just read he wondered how one kid could screw up a poem that much. It wasn't that hard. All you had to do was take a quick read over and you would automatically know the tone of the poem. Talking in monotone would have been better then assuming a haughty voice. Then again, maybe that was just Malfoy. He seemed like one of those rich kids that paid his way through school.
Harry sighed, shaking his head, and he tried to focus on the poem being read out loud.
Pain has an element of blank;
It cannot recollect
When it began, or if there were
A day when it was not.
It has no future but itself,
Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain.
Shaking his head, he leaned his chin on a raised fist. He hated analyzing poems; it definitely wasn't one of his stronger points. Hopefully they wouldn’t have any homework on that any time soon.
Emerald eyes gazed around the room. He was glad that they actually had separate seats for once. He hated sitting beside people in class, they always talked too much or cheated off of him. He was also glad that Granger was two seats diagonal from him. At least then they wouldn't be partnered off with each other as much if she had been in the seat next to him like Malfoy.
The black haired boy looked up at the podium where Professor Snape was standing. He was definitely one of the more intimidating professors that he had. The all black garb didn't help either. His pale skin stood out in sharp contrast to the dark material. The shoulder length, shiny black hair was thick and very sleek, a lot more manageable then his own dark hair. The brown eyes, so dark they looked to melt into the pupils, were very intense when directed at someone.
Seeing the professor scratch his forearm again, he wondered if he had a bite there or something. Maybe it was just a nervous thing, although Harry couldn't see how someone like Professor Snape could ever be nervous over anything. He definitely didn't seem like the type of man.
The rest of the class passed by quickly with Snape coolly criticizing the students after they read a passage. He corrected them when he saw fit, though half the time the students didn't really follow his firm guide. They didn't even bother to correct their mistakes. Harry didn't think he'd ever be able to stop stuttering when he read aloud. It was hard not be nervous when reading in front of a class, even when he didn't know anyone. Granger often interrupted the class when Snape wouldn't call on her to answer a question. She was really annoying. You'd think she would learn that the teachers didn't always like someone who stuck their hand up in the air constantly to answer a question. The professor sure didn't seem to like it. Then again, he didn't seem to like anything or anyone.
The bell rang and the class quickly got up and left, looking forward to finally going home after the first day of classes. Harry sighed and stayed in his seat, waiting for the rest of the class to depart before making his way up to the professor's desk.
Shifting from foot to foot, he wrapped his slim fingers around the strap of his crimson messenger bag. Looking down at his scuffed black leather boots (one of the few splurges he allowed himself with his money from his job working down at the music store over the summer), Harry eventually looked up at the bent over man.
"Sir? You wanted t-to s-see me?" Several seconds passed (though it felt like at least ten minutes) before the man looked up at him.
Severus looked up from the book he had just opened, straightening his back, and giving Harry a cool, appraising look. Without a word he slid open the upper right hand drawer to his desk and pulled out an old leather bound book that must have been at least two inches thick. He flipped through the pages, only half looking at Harry. "As I said before Potter, your dictation needs work. There's no need to stutter; especially when it appears Granger, you, and myself are the only ones listening. It would be good for you to practice reading aloud; if you manage to perfect it, you'll save us all from enduring another reading by Mr. Malfoy."
Severus stopped leafing through the book about one third of the way through and looked up at Harry again with a somewhat piercing gaze, almost as if he could see through him. He was small for a boy his age, and had a scrawny underfed look that didn't really fit in a school of this reputation. There were also a few bruises scattering his arms and face, not many but enough to hint at more than school boy roughhousing. Beyond the bruises it was his eyes that particularly stood out to Severus; large, expressive eyes as green as emeralds. It didn't appear as though he'd be able to ever hide anything through them.
There was a very intriguing quality about this young man, and Severus was never one to leave something worthy of note unexplored. "If you desire, you can stay after school a few days a week and I will attempt to help you," Severus offered in a voice no less demanding than in class but not cutting either. Despite his reputation he was not out to make life a living hell for every student that crossed his path. He was simply a strict teacher that didn't let his students get away with anything; and he wasn't beyond helping the prodigal few who actually wanted to learn. That was, after all, why they were all there.
Harry frowned. If he was too late getting home his relatives wouldn't be pleased; but surely they would understand if it was for school work? Harry sighed, he sure hoped so. He already had enough bruises on him. He was surprised that no one had commented yet, but then again, he tended to walk through the halls with his head in a book, so it was hard for anyone to actually see the bruises on his face. He also usually wore long sleeved shirts, but since it was the first day of school, he figured he'd actually wear something that fit. The only thing that fit him was his navy blue, loose fit tee, and his form fitting, faded black jeans.
Other then that outfit, plus the boots, everything else in his closet didn't really fit him. If he was the type of boy to wear baggy clothes (which most of the guys in this snobby school wouldn't be caught dead in), they would look fine. But he had got them from his cousin, Dudley, who was a very large boy. His earlier clothes fit him a bit better, though they were pretty ratty and filled with holes, they were better then his 'newer' clothes, since Dudley kept growing. It didn't help that Harry had a very slim frame. He was actually skinnier then half the girls here for fucks sake! And that was saying a lot, considering half of them were anorexic.
He'd actually had a few girls ask him what was his secret. He really wanted to say ‘just have your parents not feed you and do all the really hard chores around the house without rest, that worked for me’. But of course he didn't; he didn't say anything to them. After awhile they left him alone; just like in all the previous years. It's not that he didn't actually 'want' friends, it was just.. well, half of them were so idiotic, and they never knew when to shut up. He used to be friends with a boy named Ron, but that friendship had ended fast. Ron soon found friends that were more 'interesting'. In other words, guys who actually liked playing and watching sports instead of writing a bunch of 'sissy' (his words, not Harry's) poems. Harry wasn't one for sports, but he did like to run. It helped him escape Dudley and his friends half the time. Especially during lunch break when his cousin would try to beat him up because he had nothing better to do with his time.
Realizing the professor was still staring at him, Harry nodded quickly. "S-sure, p-p-professor. I'll stay after school tomorrow?" Snape nodded. Harry glanced at the clock over head. Shit! The black haired teen bolted out of the room, not waiting for a verbal response from the teacher.
He had forgotten that he was due home earlier today because he had to clean out the gutters and rake the lawn. Uncle Vernon was especially forceful about the latter. They really had no big trees but the one in their neighbor's yard was huge and half of it was on their backyard. So it was up to Harry to clean it up every week in the fall.
Harry sighed. It wasn't that bad really. It was good to be out in the fresh air, away from them. But the gutters… now that was a hard job. He had actually fallen last year and broken his ankle. He was lucky that it had set right without any complications since Vernon and Petunia still forced him into doing his chores; even the harder ones that required him to lift heavy boxes and carry them over to another location. Sometimes he thought that they just made up hard chores for him to do so he would get tired and hungry. Of course they wouldn't feed him much and if he ended up doing his chores wrong they would send him to bed without anything. It was a wonder he was able to eat anything with how small his stomach probably was by now.
Harry bent over, resting his hands on his knees. Catching his breath, he looked up. At least he was here now. He stood up and winced at the sharp cramp in his empty stomach then slung the book bag back over his shoulder and proceeded up the steps.
Shutting the door with a quiet click he walked down the hall trying to make the least amount of noise possible. He opened the large cupboard under the stairs and put his bag in the space near the cot. Quickly changing into his older clothes, he shut the door and went back outside. Looking over at the driveway, Harry smacked his forehead. Idiot! Of course, they were out shopping at the strip mall for new clothes for Dudley, since he had his growth spurt. Now they just had to find clothes that were as wide as they were tall.
Jogging around back to where the equipment was for the roof, Harry grabbed the already extended ladder leaning against the white washed walls and set it up before him. Bending down to pick up the large metal bucket and the ratty gloves filled with holes ('couldn't even bother to give me new gloves,' Harry thought in disgust), he started up the ladder.
Harry hoped that his relatives wouldn't be back before he was done. If they did arrive early and saw him up on the roof, they'd start yelling at him for not having done it earlier even though this job takes two hours to do at the least. But did the Dursleys stop to think about that? Of course not. So he really hoped they wouldn't be coming back any time soon. He didn't need to add any more bruises to the ones he already had.
Harry sighed and got to work.
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