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 2 - I Need a Hug
By Shadows and Redrum
Severus sat behind his desk, slightly bent over the free form poems that had been handed to him throughout the day while he waited for Harry to show up.
Most were extremely lacking in any sense of the art form, and Granger's was too sterile and devoid of emotion to really be called poetry. He was getting increasingly frustrated with the sheer amount of red ink he knew he was wasting on these hopeless cases.
A twinge went down Severus’ left arm for the fifth time that day before a loud thunderclap split the sky. Dropping the pen he’d been correcting with, Severus leaned back and looked out the window at the growing storm. He rubbed his left forearm absentmindedly. 'Never fails,' he thought sarcastically to himself, 'Every single time it rains.'
Severus watched the dark clouds roll over the sky in ominous rumbles with a small sigh. For all their chaos storms had always calmed him, like a reminder of just how powerless humans could really be. It may have seemed a bit odd to some people but he knew his place in the scheme of things and was more than happy with it. There were few students he’d ever reach but he had no intention of forgetting those he could.
That thought brought him back to Harry. The boy definitely needed closer examination. There was something about him that was… a little too familiar.
Harry sighed, glanced at his watch, and waited for the bell to ring as he took cover in the bushes beside the steps. This was actually the first time he had been in school for the day. Harry had wanted to wait for the damn bruises to fade at least a little bit before going to school. Uncle Vernon had let him stay home exactly for that purpose. What he didn't understand was how his uncle could be so stupid as to give him another mark on his face. Wait… stupid question. Vernon never thought before he did something. The way Harry was looking today was proof enough.
His relatives had, just as he feared, come home earlier than planned. It seemed that Dudley was getting too antsy and wanted to leave. Of course they jumped to fulfill their lord pig's wishes. Harry chuckled, but quickly stopped as he bent over and grabbed his side. Fucking Vernon! He really wished he was strong and big enough to give his uncle a taste of his own medicine. But alas, it didn't look like Harry would be growing beyond his tiny 5'2" frame. "I guess that's what happens when you’re kept in a damn cupboard all your damned life." He mumbled to himself.
The bell finally rang, and the kids quickly poured out of the school like a colorful mass of butterflies taking flight. Harry smiled slightly at the imagery, waited for the last couple of stragglers and went into the building.
He was lucky to encounter no teachers as he quickly walked towards his professor's class. Finally reaching the large (well to him anyway) doorway he pulled out a poem from his pocket that he had written last night while trying to nurse his injuries. Knocking once on the door he waited for the man inside to grunt an affirmative before entering.
The loud clap of thunder made him jump. He hadn't even realized that it was raining. Shaking his head at his own stupidity he walked up to the desk, leaving puddles in his wake. Harry put the poem on Snape's desk and stepped back to sit in the closest desk. Professor Snape continued to mark, ignoring him. "Sorry a-about handing it in l-late." He saw the dark haired man nod, but other wise didn't make any other attempt at conversation.
Harry sighed. He tried not to get antsy but it was hard not to be nervous. He knew he'd probably be beaten up again for leaving the house plus he couldn't help being slightly intimidated by his professor. Actually, Harry found that he was intimidated by any man larger than him. Maybe it was just because he was so small, or maybe it was because of his uncle's treatment of him. Harry gave a mental shrug and sighed quietly, trying not to disturb Snape. He was pretty sure his professor didn't take too kindly to assignments being handed in late, but he hadn't been able to escape the house until half an hour ago when his aunt and uncle had gone out to do some grocery shopping.
He leaned back in his chair, stretching his legs out from under the desk and crossed them at the heel, waiting for the teacher to do or say something.
Without a word, Severus finished his last poem and took Harry’s into his hands.
A soul sent into the sky.
The body's ashes swept up with the swirling wind
The heart's rejuvenation brought forth by the calm clouds
The mind's tranquility lasts until the storm clouds pass over the blue moon
The eyes rest on a passing bird, majestically soaring through the swirling updrafts
The spirit is put at ease by the invisible bond formed between human and the air around them
A soul is sent into the sky today.
A body's ashes eventually lay scattered across the cold earth
A heart's rejuvenation comes to an abrupt halt as the earlier calm clouds turn oppressive
A mind's tranquility is put to an end when the storm crashes down around them
An eye is soon blinded by the sun when the bird continues to fly free
A spirit is choked when the heavy air around them closes in on them.
A soul was sent away today, never to return.
“Well…” Severus thought to himself, still slightly dazed from the obvious experience and talent painted in the lines, “That’s definitely different.” He looked up to speak to the boy, but found him soaking wet and shivering with even more bruises than yesterday; the physical manifestation of his poem.
Frowning slightly, one of Severus’ thin eyebrows arched towards his hairline. Normally he wouldn't take absences too kindly because most often they were a simple skip. However this was obviously not the case.
Taking one calm breath to settle his inwardly shaken nerves (manifestations of a haunting past did that to you Severus stood and walked to his supply closet. Once he found what he was looking for, a spare towel from his home that he kept for this exact purpose, he turned and strode over to Harry with his usual determination. Withone deft movement he gently settled the towel around Harry’s shoulders and sat in a chair directly in front of the desk. “So you know some Latin, Potter? Where did you pick that up?”
Harry shivered and pulled the thick fluffy towel closer to him. He was incredibly surprised at his professor's actions. Snape didn't seem like the type that would be gentle toward anything. But maybe it was wrong of him to judge by appearance, he had enough people do that to him. They always seemed to think that just because he was short he was automatically the class clown and didn't mind people picking on his height. But he secretly hated it. He hated looking like such a wimp. It was like having a fucking "please pick on me" sign posted on his back.
Harry sighed and shook his head. He really had to stop doing that. Harry looked up into the professor’s dark eyes and lifted a shoulder in a half hearted shrug. "Tr-translation dictionary."
Pulling his legs up underneath his chair Harry bent over slightly, trying to keep the right side of his face slightly hidden. He really hoped Snape hadn't noticed that large and still fresh bruise on his eye. He didn't need him phoning his relatives like his past teachers had tried to do before they finally stopped trying. Harry never really told them the truth anyway. He just said he was picked on a lot or when that didn't work that he was wrestling with his cousin and a stray elbow had caught him in the eye.
Harry jumped when a clap of thunder sounded from outside. Fuck… and he had to walk home in that too.
Finally noticing that it was still silent and he had obviously gotten lost in his thoughts again, Harry blushed.
"M-my relatives gave my c-cousin the di-dictionary, but he wasn't inter-interested in it, so he gave it to m-me." Actually, it was more like Harry had found it in the trash, but Snape didn't have to know that. Harry had always wanted to go through all his poems and stories and translate the English titles to another language. He didn't really know why exactly, but it did look interesting. So it was pure luck that when he was carrying out the trash the bag broke and he found the small leather book hidden at the bottom.
A cold drop of water landed on his nose, making him shiver. He lifted the towel and dried his hair thoroughly before putting it back around his shoulders. Raising a hand, he tried to smooth his fluffy hair down again until it just about covered his right eye.
Another clap of thunder made him start. Fuck… he really hated thunder storms. He liked the look of them and all since they truly were beautiful and reminded him that there were still things out there to appreciate, but he really hated loud noises so it was no surprise that he wouldn't like thunder.
Hearing the man sitting across from him clear his throat, Harry blushed. "S-sorry. I do tha-that a lot." It did come in handy when he wanted to block out people and their taunts but when he actually wanted to pay attention it could get pretty distracting.
Harry looked up at Snape from beneath his lashes, still keeping his head tilted down slightly and to the side.
Severus watched Harry silently for a few moments. The boy really did remind him of a frightened deer. A wounded, frightened deer. Severus was not a stupid man; he could put two and two together quite easily here. It honestly made his blood boil to think of what could’ve happened since he’d seen the boy last that could have caused these injuries. He was almost screaming for needed attention, and it seemed to Severus that no one had ever bothered to look up before.
It was a struggle against every intelligent bone in his body not to start asking questions, but he knew better than that. Every abused animal would sooner bite you than let you help them, and the last thing he wanted to do was scare this young man away. The best thing to do right now was to keep him talking and see how things went from there.
His lips twitched for a second in what could have been a smile if it had lasted, and he said, “It is a vice of mine as well. Given the severe lack of intelligent conversation in our current environment it is not surprising. It might be a good idea to make more of an effort to stay focused on both our parts. Unlike our respective peers we are not here for idiotic bragging of vandalizing property and sexual conquests.”
Rising again, Severus opened another drawer in his desk and pulled out a thermos and two mugs (he always carried an extra incase one broke). Returning to his seat, Severus opened the thermos andpoured two glasses of hot chocolate, indicating Harry to take one if he wanted. Severus leaned back in his chair and took a sip of the rich steaming liquid before asking, “Might I inquire as too how long you have been writing poetry, Mr. Potter?”
Harry slipped a hand out from under the wet towel and pulled the mug toward him. He wrapped both of his hands around the large mug in a attempt to warm his cold fingers.
The younger man frowned, thinking over the question. He knew it had been for awhile.. ahh!
"Se-seven years sir." He started when he was eleven, when things had started to get more physical at home. At first they had just tormented him emotionally, which in it self was bad enough. But when he had turned eleven, he had been shocked when a fist had come flying at his face for the simple ‘mistake’ of getting up later than usual and forgetting to make them breakfast.
Sighing, Harry lifted the mug and took a sip. Mmm… it was surprisingly rich, just the way he liked it. He smiled slightly and took another sip, letting the warm liquid travel down his throat, soothing it like a balm.
Severus was more than a little surprised at Harry’s answer, but as per usual, none of it showed on his face. That would make him eleven years old when he started; even Severus hadn’t started that young. He glanced over at his student again, pleased to see that some faint color was showing itself in his pale cheeks. Although he still resembled a beaten creature, he did look slightly more relaxed which was exactly Severus’ goal.
“As I said before, we need to work on your dictation. Reciting poetry is nearly as important as the writing of it because it was meant to be heard, not read. Seeing that you already have an inclination towards the subject I do not believe it should be overly difficult for you to improve.” Severus paused to slide the leather book he’d been flipping through the day before over in Harry’s direction. “Why don’t you pick one from there and try reciting it. You seem to grasp emotions well, just try not to stutter. There is, after all, no reason for you to be afraid. I do not bite.”
Harry's smile grew slightly. No, he couldn't imagine his professor doing that. But it was hard not to be nervous around the man. It wasn't that he was really afraid, per ce… but, well, Harry just wasn't used to people actually being nice to him. Not that Snape was totally being nice, but he wasn't being cruel either. It was a lot better than the treatment he got at home and at school from his peers. They either ignored him or taunted him. Snape did neither.
Grabbing the book, Harry shrugged off the soaked towel, letting it drape across the back of his chair. Scanning the cover, he discovered that the book contained numerous authors. Flipping through it to find a poem he liked, Harry finally stopped and set it out before him. Holding the book down by the spine he took a deep breath and read over the words several times, trying to get a feel for the poem. He pictured himself back in his cupboard, alone, in darkness, with no one to hear him. Taking another breath, he began.
"Waiting by, L.Solitario
My walls are caving in,
Darkness smothers me.
I have no where to turn.
I have no one to help me.
No one wants to save me."
Harry paused for breath. He was starting to have second thoughts about reading this poem. Shaking his head, he continued.
"They can't see the pain reflected in my eyes.
They can't see that any moment I might collapse.
Collapse in sorrow,
and in pain."
The young man frowned, blinking hard.
"I wish someone would see the pain I am in.
I wish I could be held by protective arms while I collapse.
I wish I could just be held,
But for now I will wait for the walls to collapse.
I will wait for protection that will never come.
I will wait for friendship,
I will wait for love."
He sighed and shut the book softly. Why had he chosen that poem? It had sounded good beforehand, but when he read it aloud… it was too close to reality for him. Closer than he would have liked it to be. If he had to read another one, he was going to make sure that it didn't reflect his feelings as much as that poem.
Harry frowned at the silence. The thunder had stopped just a little while ago, but the rain continued to pour just outside the large window. He hadn't even realized it had stopped. Raising his head, Harry stifled the yelp of surprise when he saw Snape lost in thought. He had forgotten the man was in the room. At least he hadn't stuttered at all. He usually didn't when he was reading to himself at home. He didn't have any reason to be nervous if he was by himself, but around people… who knew what they were going to say? Half the time it was never anything good. Thinking back on it, Harry could only remember the one time that he had received a compliment. And that was from Professor Snape himself. No one else had commented nicely on his poem reading skills. They just said that he stuttered like a fool and that he shouldn't bother to raise his hand if he wasn't going to talk right. So Harry never did…
Severus watched Harry intently as he read. His voice flowed over the words as though he had written them. It was a little shaky, but that only seemed to add to the effect of the poem. It was still no more than a suspicion but Severus definitely wanted to keep an eye on this young man. Something about him worried Severus. Coming back to the present, he looked up at Harry with the same critical look he always wore in class and simply said, "That was better." Arching a thin eyebrow towards his hairline he continued, " Now would you care to venture a guess as to why you were unable to perform to that level of ability in class?"
He didn't have to guess, Harry already knew why he was unable to talk clearly in class. But… saying that he was afraid of other people's opinions? How stupid did that sound? And he was positive that Snape never felt that way around people. The professor probably didn't care what people thought of him. But it wasn't like Harry could help having such a low self esteem, among other things. How was one supposed to feel good about oneself if they never believed in one's own abilities? Harry knew he was a bit above average when it came to writing, but he wasn't *that* good. There was always someone better, so why bother thinking anything more of yourself?
Harry sighed, trying to come up with an excuse that was believable and not as stupid as the truth. Looking up at the teacher the young man finally replied, "I'm shy." That was half the truth anyway. Besides, he was pretty good at lying, so usually other people wouldn't pick up on it. Then again... Snape was different. He'd probably be able to see through the lie.
The black haired teen tilted his head down, absently rubbing a hand over the abused flesh around his eye. He held back the wince as he tried to soothe the pain. It was really starting to throb for some reason. Maybe uncle Vernon had hit him harder then he thought?
Watching Harry intently, Severus replied, “Hmm, a pitfall of many artists I’m sure,” even though he wasn’t completely buying the 'shy' story. “Just let me remind you, Mr. Potter, that you have nothing to fear in my class… except maybe my grade book. Not even Mr. Malfoy will get away with haughty quips this year.”
Studying Harry, almost shrinking in on himself as he nursed his tender wounds, Severus finally let his forward nature have free reign. He reached out and deftly caught Harry’s chin between his forefinger and thumb, lifting it very gently so that he could clearly see Harry’s wounded face. He studied it very intently for a few moments, his features softening just the tiniest measurement. Releasing his chin just as quickly as he’d grasped it, Severus reached into his left breast pocket and pulled out a small vial of ointment. (Something he kept close at hand for his own little…problem.) “Willowroot and Aloe.” He explained abruptly. “They help ease the pain and bring down the swelling.”
Harry took the bottle, astonishment clear in his large green eyes. No one had ever.. 'fuck Harry! You will not cry; you will not cry!' He yelled at himself, repeating the words in his head. He wasn't going to get all sentimental in front of this man. It was bad enough that Snape had seen the bruise; he didn't need to see Harry's tears.
Sighing, the injured teen twisted the lid and poured some onto his fingers. Gently placing the vial on the table in front of him, Harry smoothed the cool cream over his right eye. It tingled unpleasantly, but he could already feel the dull throb dying down.
Putting the lid back on, Harry looked up at the surprisingly kind man. "Th-thank you." A light blush covered his pale cheeks before he ducked his head letting his hair fall into his face, covering his eyes in shadows.
He didn't know why his professor was helping him… he didn't know what was in it for him. Surely he wanted something? No one had ever helped him before, so why this man? Why would the one person that looked like he would rather treat him like his uncle did-does, help him? There had to be a catch. There was always a catch. He had learned that a long time ago. Whenever Vernon had started acting nice to him, he knew that he was either in deep trouble, or he was supposed to do something that he would regret later.
Harry sighed, rubbing the excess cream off on his damp pants. He really needed to change soon, he was probably going to get sick. Just great. It wasn't like his relatives would leave him alone. All those damn chores would just make it worse. Oh well, it wasn't like he could do anything about it.
Harry pushed the vial tentatively to the other side of the table, closer to Snape. Wrapping his arms around himself, the young man tried not to shiver.
Severus nodded silently at Harry’s thanks and watched the emotions play across the young man’s features with carefully removed observance. The last thing he wanted to do was push his luck in this overly complicated chess game. He had experience and, as many times as he wished he didn’t have it, it would help him here. But again timing was, as with most things, key. Timing and patience, would reveal what he wanted to know. He had seen the distrust flash in those expressive green eyes and if he intended to proceed he had to keep his wits about him.
Glancing at the young man again, Snape pushed the vial back in his direction and said, “Keep it. I have an entire herb garden to replenish my supplies.” Glancing once again at the pouring rain and then back to Harry, Severus stood and began to pack up his things for the day. “I believe that’s enough practice for one day, Mr. Potter. With time, we should be able to relieve you of your difficulties with dictation entirely.” Pulling a long black coat over his shoulders, Snape turned and looked again at Harry. “Judging from your soaked appearance, can I assume that you ventured here without any kind of umbrella?”
Harry pocketed the vial, nodded in thanks and stood up. He flushed when he felt his incredibly baggy pants slip just a little bit past his bony hip bones, exposing the ratty, too-big boxers on underneath. Pulling them back up, he tightened the cord around them, making sure something like *that* wouldn'thappen again.
Harry looked up at the taller man, frowning slightly. It wasn't like he had an umbrella in the first place. And he hadn't even realized it was raining while he was waiting outside for the bell to ring. "It wasn't raining wh-when I got he-here." Another half truth. For some reason he hated lying to this man.. even if it was an omission.
Turning slightly, Harry spotted the damp towel and lifted it up. "Wh-what should I do with th-this?" He asked, ringing the towel between his hands.
Severus’ eyebrow raised once again when Harry’s overly large pants slipped slightly out of place, but his face carefully betrayed no other emotion. Straightening his things up slightly, Severus’ only reply to Harry’s obvious half truth was, “I’m sure.” He wasn’t very pleased to hear the stutter return to the young mans voice. It seemed to disappear only when he was entirely comfortable and in his element.
Once he had his briefcase closed and in hand, Severus turned to see Harry ringing out his towel. “Just give it here and I’ll take care of it,” said Severus, gently taking it from Harry and folded it to rest over his briefcase. Regarding Harry once more, he took a few steps toward the door and said, “Come, I’ll give you a ride home.”
Shit… no… no! Harry shook his head. Glancing outside he saw how dark it had gotten while they were sitting here. He was slightly surprised at the amount of time that had passed, when really, it had only seemed like a few minutes. He knew his relatives would be there. And he couldn't let his professor see them! Maybe… maybe they would lay off him until Snape left?
The young man looked up, meeting Snape's dark, emotionless eyes, sighed, and nodded reluctantly. His brows creased in thought as he followed his teacher out the door. Harry waited a few seconds for his professor to lock the door, pick up his briefcase, and begin walking down the hall.
Harry felt incredibly tiny standing near the larger man. Especially when he had to almost jog to keep up with the man's longer stride.
Harry crossed his fingers behind his back hoping to God (though he didn't really believe in him) that Snape wouldn't meet his relatives, and if he did, his uncle and aunt would know better then to hit him right in front of a stranger -no- a professor, no less.
Severus walked silently through the halls and out the doorway of the school. Once outside he produced an umbrella and adjusted his stride slightly so that Harry could be protected from the downpour as well without quite having to jog. Once Harry was seated in the passenger’s seat, Severus neatly placed his things in the back seat and slid in behind the wheel. He proceeded wordlessly until he’d pulled gracefully out of the school's parking lot. Only then did he ask, “Where do you live, Mr. Potter?” Glancing over at the small, still mildly soaked boy beside him, Severus almost wished he didn’t have to take him back home. From everything he gathered, it couldn’t have been the best of places for him to go. Focusing hard, almost glaring menacingly at the road ahead, Severus willed away unwanted memories and focused on Harry’s next words.
Harry sighed. God... how he wished he didn't have to go home. His professor was surprisingly good company. He almost made him feel… calm, maybe even safe. But that was stupid. Sooner or later, Snape would find out about his home life and tell the authorities, who in turn would check out the house. Then of course, Harry would miraculously be all better and his relatives would put on the act. Then Snape would finally give up, and leave Harry with an even madder uncle. Just great…
"Nu-nu-number four Pri-Privet Dri-Drive." Fucking stuttering! He really wished he could control it. It was always a dead give away to how bloody nervous he was. Hopefully the professor actually understood him. All his other teachers would say they didn't understand what he was saying and would make him repeat it over and over again before he finally just stopped talking. It was incredibly embarrassing, especially in a room full of mocking students.
Even though he wasn’t looking, he could tell Harry was shaking a little; like a dog that had chewed out a corner of the carpet and was waiting for its master to come home and beat it. How could other people be so blind? Severus had this student for two bloody days and it was obvious he was profoundly unhappy. Even though he was reluctant to admit it. Not to mention that his choice of poetry didn’t do anything to dull Severus’suspicions. Glancing down at the wheel, he realized his knuckles had turned white from gripping the steering wheel so hard, and he loosened his grip slightly.
Severus nodded his understanding and took the next right, making his way to Harry’s neighborhood. He could feel his imagination getting the better of him, which would help no one. In an attempt to calm himself down, he started talking to Harry again. “I recommend that you practice reciting aloud whenever you can, it will help. I also recommend that we meet again. When is the next date available to you?”
Oh yes, because it's so easy to read in the dark. Harry sighed. There was no reason to start getting sarcastic. Snape didn't know about his home life, and Harry would make sure that he never did. Strangely enough, Harry wanted to spend more time with his professor. But Snape might end up talking to the authorities, who would in turn talk to his relatives, who would then act like the perfect family, but when they left he would immediately get beaten. Then, the next day he came to school (since Vernon wouldn't let him stay home, he personally drove him to school on those occasions) the teacher who reported him would see the horrible abuse, but not comment on it this time in fear of Harry getting beaten to a pulp the next time. That of course led to the teacher making sure that they stayed away from him and never look him in the eye. Harry didn't want that to happen to Snape. He actually found himself liking the older man. He was funny, kind, and intelligent; and he seemed like he cared, though he probably wanted something out of it. At least he acted like he didn't.
Harry ran a hand through his ebony locks. "Tomorrow af-after sc-school." His relatives would be home, but what the hell? He was going to get beaten anyway for being late since he was always forced to walk home. They wanted him home five minutes after the bell, but really, the walk home took at least half an hour. And that was on his good days, when he didn't have any injuries slowing him down.
“Tomorrow then,” Severus replied with finality in his tone. Severus wanted to say something else but fought the urge with a vengeance. Patience had always been a virtue attributed to him by his gardening skills. Problem was it was easy to wait for a plant to grow, or a lotion to simmer, because nothing of great importance depended on it. This had the potential to be very important.
Settling into something of a drawn out silence, Severus let his thoughts drift. Harry seemed reasonably intelligent and creative, but it was the distrust that looked so unnatural on his features that had sparked this special interest in the young man. That and those ‘mysterious’ bruises. It was simple; everything had a process. He had to gather facts, find out the truth and, if he was right (god forbid), find some way to gain the boy's trust. The trust would be the hardest part; Severus himself hadn’t trusted anyone in almost twenty years. Except for Lucius; but that was a different story.
Turning the last corner Severus slowly pulled up to Harry’s house; the rain seemed to have only gotten worse. Stopping in front of the driveway Severus’ right hand went again to his left arm; rubbing that traitorous patch of skin. “I will see you tomorrow, Mr. Potter,” Severus said in a tone slightly softer than usual.
Harry completely missed the parting statement and the unusual tone of voice, due to the extreme nervousness and fear that was building up inside him. It was so late… he really hoped that his uncle would be smart enough to abuse him where it wouldn't show. He didn't want to miss another day of school, and he wanted to see Snape tomorrow.
Stepping out of the sleek black car the young man placed a hand on his bulging pocket, touching the vial tenderly. Turning slightly, Harry looked to the side, rather then at his professor's face. He was still embarrassed at receiving help, but he wasn't the type of person not to say thank you.
"Th-thank you for the vial. I ap-appreciate it." (you don't know how much..) "I will be in to-tomorrow for sure." (I don't want to spend another day with the Dursleys when I can be semi-safe at school) "Thanks… for everything." Harry smiled slightly. Something flashed in the corner of his eye. Whipping his head around toward the living room window, the black haired teen saw his uncle and aunt staring out at him. Harry shivered. "I-I-I hav-have to-to go n-now." Oh god… he was going to be in so much trouble tonight.
Harry nodded at his professor and shut the door quietly. Not looking back, the frightened boy jogged up the steps and entered the medium sized house.
“You’re welcome,” Severus replied quietly to Harry’s back as he ran to his house. He hadn’t missed the smile or the fear that spread over the young boys face shortly after. It was all but written out for Severus in plain English. If he wasn’t being abused, then Severus needed whatever wakeup call would come to quiet his imagination. But he was so nearly sure; too many familiar things couldn't be ignored.
He wanted to stay by the end of the driveway longer (though what kind of protection he could have offered from there Severus didn’t know), but Severus knew better. Turning the key and pressing the gas he pulled away and rolled down the street, looking back until he couldn’t see Harry’s house in his rearview mirror anymore.
Severus wasn’t an idiot, he knew getting involved in this would be harder than getting the sun to spin around the earth, but Severus was a stubborn man who was more than capable of scaring even a few of his colleagues and he could never, ever stand back and watch something like this happen, “To someone else,” he murmured, rubbing circles over his left forearm almost all the way home.
"Who was that man?" His aunt asked, her voice a little *too* calm. Harry shrugged and looked down. A small hand slapped him across his face, leaving only a slight sting. "Answer me when I ask you something!" Harry sighed. Still keeping his eyes on the floor, he replied.
"Pro-professor Snape." His uncle placed a large hand on his shoulder. Harry's small frame almost collapsed under the weight.
"Did you tell him anything?" Harry shook his head.
"No sir. He was ju-just dri-driving me ho-home due to the r-rain."
"Why were you out with him in the first place?"
"H-he was hel-helping me wi-with my engli-english." Vernon let out a loud laugh, slapping him on the shoulder, causing Harry to bump into him.
"Doesn't sound like it's helping then!"
"What did we tell you about being late?" His aunt interrupted the man's laughter. Harry ducked his head further.
"Sorry ma’am." His uncle's grip on his shoulder hardened, making him wince.
"You were supposed to be staying here all day. You're the one that asked to stay home, and then you go to school? I think someone was just faking sick to stay home." Oh yes, because being in your company is just so stimulating. Harry thought sarcastically, surpassing a small grin.
"You hi-hit me on my face. Pe-people would have as-asked questions." Vernon made a 'hmm' noise. Suddenly, Harry was sliding across the hard floor, stopping with a 'thump' against the thick plaster wall. Fuck… he just knew his shoulder was going to be bruised tomorrow. At least it wasn't visible.
"That still doesn't excuse you, and don't even try to put the blame on me. It's your own fault for arriving late to clean out the gutters. It's always your fault, never mine, even though you constantly say that it's our fault. You're the one that's so stupid you can't even learn from your own mistakes. But maybe the lesson will be learned if it's forced into you."
Uncle Vernon walked over to him, picked him up by the scruff of his shirt (the shirt was so baggy that Harry almost fell right through the hole) and stood him up on his feet. "No wonder the others at school pick on you so much; you can't even defend yourself." 'It's kind of hard to defend yourself if you’re facing a larger man easily three times your own weight,' he thought bitterly.
Harry frowned and stood up straight. Vernon opened his arms and smirked at him. "Go ahead, hit me. Once in a lifetime opportunity." Harry scowled. He knew there were going to be consequences for it, but using his small form, he sped towards his uncle and kneed him heavily in the balls. Bony knees could really come in handy sometimes, Harry thought, grinning.
Vernon bent over with a groan. Still holding himself, the large man swung a fist out, knocking Harry in the side. Harry moaned in pain, holding his ribs. Shit! Fuck… that hurt…
Vernon finally righted himself, looking down at the incredibly small teen still holding his ribs and moaning in pain. He bent down and picked him up by his arm. Harry yelped, feeling the tendons in his shoulder strain as he was picked up from the ground.
Mr. Dursley continued to ignore Harry's cries of pain and walked out towards the hallway. Going to the steps, he opened the small door and threw the young man inside. Shutting the door with a bang, he locked it and closed the wooden panel over the window so no light would spill in.
The heavy steps faded away as Vernon went back the living room and his wife. Harry whimpered and grabbed his shoulder. Luckily the tendon hadn't ripped, but it had been strained. He sighed, suddenly extremely tired, but the pounding in his shoulder wasn't allowing him to get any rest. At least he knew enough not to move it. If he didn't move it for a long time, it should be healed in a month or two. Maybe he could make a sling?
Harry dragged himself to the small cot, reached under the bed with his uninjured left arm, and pulled up a baggy shirt. Ripping it carefully, he managed to create a shabby makeshift sling that didn't look very good, but at least it would do the job. The young man sighed and leaned back against the wall. Suddenly feeling an object digging into his hip, Harry dug his hand into his pocket and pulled out the vial. Maybe that would help a bit! Harry thought excitedly, praising Snape over and over again in his head. He really owed him now. The thought caused his mood to dampen... whatever. Harry shook his head and gently unscrewed the lid off. Slathering a heavy amount onto his shoulder, he hoped it would work; he really didn't want to miss school tomorrow.
Screwing the lid back on, Harry tucked the vial into the corner of his cot, making sure it was well hidden, just in case. He knew he was going to need it a lot in the future. Hopefully there would be enough there to help him heal the strained tendon. And if there was any swelling tomorrow, at least that cream that Snape had given him would take care of it.
Sighing, Harry gently maneuvered himself into a lying position. He barely even needed to scrunch up, he was so small. But his whole cupboard was the reason for him being small, so it was understandable. Well, that and being underfed. Harry grimaced at the pain in his side, but determinedly he shut his eyes; trying to block out the pain, he thought about the session with Professor Snape. With a small smile curving his lips, the black haired teen fell asleep.
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