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Watching and Waiting

By Jessica Swampygliders


It was only a week after that awful night at the Ministry and Harry couldn't sleep one wink. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw Sirius falling through the veil to the other side. So here he was sitting in an abandoned hallway in a window sill where he was sure no one would find him. It was peaceful here, and he had the perfect view of the black lake; where he had first met his godfather.

Harry drew his knees up to his chest with a sigh and wrapped his arms tightly around his legs. Burying his head in his knees, he let out a deep breath. He had already cried so much in the past few days that he had promised himself he wouldn't let any more tears fall. What did tears accomplish anyway?

Taking another deep breath, Harry held in a deep silent sob, but then the pain of everything flowed back over him and it became too much, he let a few silent tears flow down his cheek. Angered by his presumed weakness Harry clenched his fists and roughly wiped away the tears from his cheeks.

He had not only lost one person he loved that day he had lost much. Remus, Hermione, all the Weasley's, Dumbledore and even Neville. It was his fault after all. Sirius's death had taught him a very valuable lesson; anyone he was close to was going to die. So he distanced himself from everyone he cared about even if it had hurt him to do so.

Remus, was too wrapped up in his own grief so he hadn't really noticed hid withdrawal, or as Harry told himself hadn't really cared. He was the reason for his grief in the first place so why would he care? Dumbledore, he was sure was still mad at him for destroying his office so that didn't really take any effort to distance himself. The Weasley's had been a little more difficult. He had assured them he was fine, and then had cut off communication with them, not responding to any of the elders owls or calls and then finally today they had stopped trying.

Ron, Hermione, and Ginny were even harder to shake, since they were still here at Hogwarts. Today, he was convinced he had finally shaken them off his case with words he had never thought he would ever utter. He had screamed at Hermione and called her a mudblood in the hallway and then stomped off. From shock or anger he didn't know, but they didn't follow him, and he had been there ever since. A testament that they hadn't looked for him.

He felt disgusted with himself for causing so much pain, but it had to be done...for their safety. He didn't want anyone else to get hurt because of him, and he couldn't think of any other way to protect them. After all, hadn't Umbridge told him that he deserved to be punished? Maybe this was the way things were supposed to be; with him alone.

Harry leaned against the window with his knees still drawn to his chest, but he removed his arms from hugging his knees. He pulled his right hand over and examined the scar on the back of it with the still clear words. "I will not break rules."

With his left hand, he gently traced the raised scars, and sadly he thought that he had broken one too many. If he had just stayed put in the castle, then Sirius would still be alive and he would have his friends. However, how was he supposed to know that the vision was fake? How was he supposed to know it was all part of Voldemort's plan?

He should have been smarter and studied harder at Occlumency that's how. Like the Dursley's always said, he was as dumb as a rock. He was only a good for nothing freak.

Harry closed his eyes again and absently stroked a finger over his other hand. This one said. "I must not tell lies".

Opening his eyes, Harry looked at the still angry scar on his hand and sighed. Maybe Umbridge was right with all her lessons. She had said that for him to learn something it had to be marked into his skin.

That's what his uncle had always thought as well. He had plenty of marks to show those lessons on his back. Don't speak, don't make any noise, prepare meals without any flaws, have all the chores done before his Uncle got home, and his favorite...just because.

Harry pulled out the piece of glass from the shard of his mirror. Looking at it, he marveled how sharp it was, it was the perfect thing for the job.

Without any further hesitation, Harry pulled up his sleeve and placed the cool, sharp edge to his wrist and made a clean cut. Gasping at the sudden pain Harry placed the glass back to his wrist and cut again. Even though it hurt, it felt good at the same time. It felt nice to finally feel something other than the pain in his heart.

Rolling back his other sleeve, Harry placed the glass against that wrist and made two quick swipes. All in all the cuts were shallow, but these were the first of many lessons he knew he was about to inflict upon himself. After all, Umbridge had said he deserved this and hadn't she done something similar to him?

Putting the glass aside for now, Harry rolled his sleeves back down and leaned back up against the window. Closing his eyes, he hoped that maybe he could get at least an hour of sleep, maybe two if he was lucky. Lately his nightmares had been so bad that he hadn't gotten more than a few hours in the last few days.

Unbeknownst to the small child in the windowsill there was a tall, dark figure watching him from the shadows. The dark robed man would have interfered sooner and had been ready to rush out when the sharp edge hit the soft flesh, but when he saw that they were barely superficial cuts he had decided to wait. See if the boy would sleep here, because then his job would be made so much easier. It was never easy to approach someone who was doing themselves harm and often times it made matters worse. They made rash decisions that everyone regretted.

Relief filled through the man when he saw Potter's eyes grow heavy with sleep. He had vowed that it the boy had not fallen asleep within the next twenty minutes he would make his presence know so he was extremely glad when sleep had won the battle. He had not really wanted to fight the boy, but even if they were superficial wounds on his wrists, they were still bleeding and needed medical attention.

With a sigh, and the swish of robes behind him the dark robed man came forward and looked at the sleeping boy before him. Merlin the boy looked small and vulnerable when he was sleeping, more like an eleven year old than his fifteen years. It really amazed him that this boy, this child, had fought off Voldemort possessing him just the week before.

He had watched the boy from the shadows since that night. Dumbledore had ordered the entire staff to watch him, or at least that's what he had interpreted from the very vague. "Keep an eye out for him". The other's were doing no such thing though. So as always, the job of watching the Potter brat had fallen to him.

After that staff meeting, he had just about demanded that Dumbledore find the boy a mind healer for everything he had been through. No doubt the boy was putting everything on his shoulders after losing that God Mutt of his. He had noticed that he was very much like Lily in that regards. If anything went wrong, he immediately took the blame whether it was his fault of not.

The greatest wizard of their time had just shook his head sadly at his 'suggestion' and said it would be too risky to devalue what had happened to anyone who was not in the order and that was the final decision. He would hear no more arguments from Severus. That his precious 'Chosen one' did not need that kind of help.

So he had watched as the boy had pushed away all he had so cherished this past week as he fell into a profound depression. He had warned Dumbledore that this would happen, but that old man had ignored him.

Sighing again, the Potion Professor pulled out the bandages from his robes. He always kept emergency supplies in his robes just for these kind of situations. Carefully, he pulled one of the boy's sleeves up and wrapped the bandage securely around the wrist. While he was wrapping the wrist, he saw the scar on the back of Harry's hand and he had to do everything within his power not to burst into an angry rage.

Who the hell had used a blood quill on this child? And why the bloody hell had no one noticed?

Dropping the wrist gently, Severus stepped back to contain his rage. Pulling his shields around his mind, he closed his eyes and took more than a few deep breaths.

When he felt that he was calm enough, he stepped back up to the boy and took hold of the other wrist. Gently he bandaged it much like the other and had to take a few more breaths when he saw the words on this hand.

Dropping the hand back in Harry's lap, Severus really looked at the boy's face. There were the same dark circles under his eyes that had been there for the past week or so. What he didn't expect to see was the dried blood around the boy's scar.

Carefully, he reached forward and gently brushed a finger over the scar. It was raised and inflamed and looked as if it had broken open recently. As he extracted his hand, he could not help, but notice just how pale the boy had gotten over the last week. It was as if he had lost all spark of life.

Pity flowed through him as he looked at the boy who had lost so much in his short life. He was certainly, not with the life he has lived so far, was nothing like his father. It may have taken him five years and many harsh words, but he had finally seen that Harry Potter was a far cry from his pampered father. If only it hadn't taken him so damn long to get over his shallow grudge.

The elder Potter had received everything he wished he had growing up and even though the boy in front of him had a family that no doubt doted on him. What did he really have in the magical world? He had his God Mutt, but only for a few short years and then his friends whom he had pushed away so roughly. Really that was it. Well, besides his adoring fans who worshiped him, but really how much support were they? As soon as the Daily Profit had started spouting rubbish about the boy they had thinned out instantly.

Shaking those thoughts from his head, Severus slowly reached forward and placed one arm beneath the boy's legs and moved the other to support his back. Gently he picked him up in his arms and frowned at just how light he was and the very noticeable flinch the boy gave off as he pulled him up.

The teenager likely weighed what an average ten year old did. Had the boy stopped eating? Well, he knew the boy had not been eating for the past week, but this weight loss was surely more than a week of damage. An average fifteen year old was supposed to weigh seven and a half stones. He swore Harry only weighed five, if that.

Severus shook his head and cast a weight altering spell on the boy. While he was lighter than he should be, that did not mean that it was going to be able to carry him for a long distance.

While the weight was more noticeable, that did not by any means mean that Severus had missed or forgotten about that flinch. Just the opposite really. That was not an everyday normal flinch where he was just surprised by the sudden touch. No, this was a 'being touched means pain' kind of flinch.

Vowing to save that line of thought for later, Severus shifted the boy and cast a sleeping spell on him. He didn't want him to wake on the way to the hospital wing, and by Merlin not in his arms!

Along with a sleeping spell, he cast a notice-me-not charm so that as he was walking through the halls no one would spot him. Really, if he didn't want to be caught by the boy he was carrying he surely didn't want to be caught by any one of the children or the staff that frequented the hallways. Merlin if Minerva saw him he would hear her teasing for weeks to come.

With a sigh, Severus stowed his wand back in his robes and set off to the hospital wing. Maybe now that the Headmaster really saw how depressed and hurt this boy was he would actually consider getting him some help. Severus knew just telling a boy to 'buck up' was not going to do any good or help him in the least. Likely it would send him deeper into his depression.

He always hated that old saying 'boy's don't cry'. Of course they cry, everyone cries. Everyone needs to cry at some point. If you don't and you bottle it up like Harry was doing here, you set yourself up for more hurt and pain. Not to mention a longer recovery time, because you have to undo all the harm you have done to yourself before you get to the root of the problem. It was like a balloon that you just keep blowing air in. It only gets bigger and bigger until it pops.

And when it pops it is so very hard to put back together.

With that thought Severus started walking to the hospital wing to get the boy the help he so desperately needed. Maybe, since his family papered him so, they could send him home early to start his summer. He was sure that they would see to it that the boy got the care he needed.

Walking through the hallways, Severus expertly avoided colliding with students and other teachers. He often walked around this way. It was easy to sneak up on rule breakers and then surprise them. He would never admit it, but he often surprised students for his own amusement. It was entertaining watching them jump when they realized that he was right behind them often lurking over their shoulder. Sometimes he even made them scream in surprise.

His favorite move by far though, was sneaking up behind Minerva and then tapping her on the shoulder. He always made her jump and even though she lectured him for hours after it was worth it.

When he reached the hospital wing, he walked to Poppy's office and deactivated the notice-me-not spell.


Poppy looked up from the papers that were on her desk and was immediately over by Severus's side.

"What happened Severus?"

Severus shifted the boy in his arms uncomfortably. "What I warned Albus would happen if he did not get the boy some help. He needs a private room and maybe contact his Aunt about coming home early. He has fallen deep into a depression."

Severus shifted Harry again, this time to reveal one of the boy's wrists so he would not have to explain any further what he had watched the boy do to himself. Sometimes it was far easier to show than tell.

The martin took a deep breath, but then kicked into full healer mode by rushing from the room and into an empty one to prepare it for her patient. Severus followed closely behind and watched as Poppy laid fresh sheets on the bed and many blankets.

When she was done, she beckoned Severus forward to place Harry down on the bed. Gently Severus did as he was beckoned to and lay the boy down and then stepped away.

"I trust you can handle him from here? "

The nurse looked sadly at the man before her. "Are you alright Severus? "

Severus stiffened at the care that was in her voice, not used to people really caring what he felt. "Yes."

Nodding slowly, Poppy moved forward and placed a gentle hand on Severus's shoulder making him flinch. He hadn't had anyone touch him except Albus in years and even then it was a simple pat on the hand. "You know, Severus. If you ever need to talk, I'm here."

Severus moved from under the nurse's touch to the door. "I know Poppy."

Poppy gave a small, sad smile. "Alright. Will you be back later? "

As Severus put his hand on the doorknob, he shook his head. "No, he will not want to see me by his bedside."

"He will be asleep for a while if you want to come back and check on him."

Severus nodded and then left the room quickly. He did not want to continue that conversation with the nurse. Apparently, she knew of his habit of checking on the boy every time he was here just before he woke. It was the least he could do for Lily.

Robes billowing behind him, Severus set off to the Headmaster's office to let the man know that he had found the boy. No doubt the man was still looking for the missing boy. He knew he should have contacted Albus as soon as he found the boy, but he thought the man deserved to worry for a few hours more before he reassured him.

Stopping at the gargoyle, Severus snarled at the damn thing. He was not going to guess a ridiculous candy name to be let in.

Sensing the man's mood, or more likely saw the man toy with his wand the gargoyle quickly jumped aside. He had felt the blasting curse from that wand on more than one occasion and he may be stone, but he still didn't like being blown apart.

As soon as the thing stepped aside Severus swept up the stairs with his robes flowing behind him in a bat-like manor. When he reached the door at the top of the stairs, he slammed the it open and ignored a worried Minerva sitting before Albus.

"I found him, he's in the hospital wing. Will you get him help now?" Severus was more than a little upset, he was fuming. This all could have been prevented.

A little of the worry that was on Minerva's face eased as she looked up at Albus. "You found him?"

"I did, but he was hurt. In more than one way."

Minerva closed her eyes and let out a relieved breath. "The elder Weasley's contacted me earlier, they were worried about him. Apparently he had cut off all contact with them...and then today with his display in the hallway..."

"He's hurting, and is pushing away everyone who shows that they care."

Albus looked up from the worried Minerva to Severus. "What do you think we should do?"

Severus narrowed his eyes at the man and barely held back from spitting at him. He was so angry. "What you should have done in the first place, get him a counselor. Get. Him. Help."

With his proclamation, Severus swept from the room with his robes billowing behind him and a worried Minerva quickly on his heels. Albus just sat there dumbfounded by the show of emotion in Severus's face. The last time he had seen the man show that kind of emotion was when Lily Potter had died. The old man closed his eyes and put his head in his hands, had he really messed up this bad?

When Severus was out of Albus's office, he paused for a moment to catch his breath and shield his mind. He had shown too much emotion already today and he didn't want to show anymore.

Unfortunately for Severus, Minerva was close behind him and as soon as she reached him she pulled the man into an empty classroom for privacy. When in the room, she bared it so that no one could enter or exit without her permission and a cast privacy spell all around so that no one could hear them.

"Are you alright Severus? "

Severus took a deep breath and looked away. "I am fine."

"Like hell you are Severus. You were my student and I can tell when something is wrong."

The man shifted nervously. "Nothing is wrong. Now will you let me go? "

"Not until you tell me what is bothering you so."

Severus looked down. He knew he was not going to get out of this without spilling the boy's secret. She was too relentless. So he sighed and told her what she wanted to know. "He slit his wrists. Superficially, but still. He needs help and Albus refuses to get him any."

Minerva's face softened. "You're worried about him."

Walking to the window, Severus looked out at the children playing outside. "I don't know what you are talking about."

Minerva's face softened even more as she sighed. She really wished that Severus would open up to someone. He was always so guarded.

"Yes, you do Severus. Can you please tell me what you are thinking about? I am Mr. Potter's head of house after all and have a right to know what is going on with him."

Severus snapped his head back to look at Minerva with narrowed eyes. "Why do you care now when there has been something wrong with him all week? Why have I been the only one watching him when everyone else cares so much about him? "

The woman before him flushed at the accusation that she didn't care about her student. "I was watching him, but maybe not as closely as I should have. Before all this, I was planning on confronting him about his behavior to Ms. Granger this evening."

Severus looked away again to gaze out the window. "So, you care when he causes a scene, but not when he loses someone he loves."

Minerva frowned and looked down. "I did not realize how close they were. They had only met a few times and even then it was for brief periods of time. I didn't think Sirius's death would affect him so."

The dark robed man rose an eyebrow, but continued to gaze out the window. "Even when the boy destroyed Albus's office?"

"He did what?"

Severus adverted his gaze and calmly looked his once mentor up and down. Now that the subject had turned off him, he didn't feel so uncomfortable. "Albus did not tell you? The night that Black died when they came back Potter threw a tantrum of sorts in his office and destroyed everything. It was then that I suggested that we get help for him, but I was ignored."

Sighing the head of the lions lowered her head and closed her eyes. "I did not know. You were and are right Harry needs help. More than we can give him. Is there anything else I should know?"

Minerva looked up at Severus with almost pleading eyes. She knew she needed to know everything to help Harry, she just hoped that this man would tell her.

Again, Severus looked away. "He is too light for his age. Likely weighs five stones or less. This is more than a week without food, he might have an eating disorder."

The woman nodded her head thoughtfully. "He never does eat much at meals and when he does, he heads to the bathroom right after calming he doesn't feel well. I always thought he just had a weak stomach."

"It might be wise to send him home early so that he has more time to recover. I am sure that his Aunt will see to it that he gets proper help."

Letting out a deep breath the woman nodded again. "I am sure I can arrange something."

"Will you let me leave now? "

Smiling for the first time since Harry's outburst in the hallway Minerva let go of the spells she had placed on the room. "You may go, but please come to me if you have any other worries about Harry."

As Severus strode to the door, he called out snarling behind him, "I don't care about him nor worry about him. It is my duty to make sure he lives and nothing more."

When he was gone, Minerva just smiled and shook her head. "Sure Severus, whatever you say. Remember, actions always speak louder than words."

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