Disclaimer: I'm not JK rowling and I make no money off of thisWarnings: minor swearing, mentions of abuse, angstmode2001
After having a long, wonderfully dreamless slip into unconsciousness for the first time in weeks, Harry had awoken feeling quite cheerful on the warm August day. Smiling uncharacteristically wide, the boy got up while reapplying a glamour onto both of his hands and flexing them, feeling a semblance of normalcy wash over him as he did so. His problem didn't seem quite so bad anymore now that it didn't stare him in the face and, for now at least, he could pretend that everything was completely fine. At that thought he smiled even wider, if such a thing were possible.
It seemed that today would finally be a good day, seeing as how the news of his impromptu hospital wing visits had blown over and he could take a much needed break from the library. He knew he needed to get back soon and investigate further about the cause of the glowing, but for right now his top priority of hiding the glow from curious eyes was fulfilled.
Silently thanking Fawkes, he shuddered as he thought about how he could have been staring at pages and pages of text for much longer had the bird not chirped in his ear to warn him. He was nearly certain that he had been in the library for so long that images of words had been burned on his cornea permanently, and to think that he could have been stuffed up in there for any more days had him faintly terrified. Packaging those wayward thoughts away for later, the boy started to get ready.
Showering, dressing, and nonchalantly eyeing his untamable mop of hair in the mirror, the boy soon stepped out of the otherwise empty dormitory and down towards the common room. He was promptly greeted with a house elf carrying a platter of food that was resolutely trying, yet failing, to do anything but stare straight at his hands.
"Thank you," Harry said tightly, the tone in his voice implying that he would like the little creature to leave now. Surely it had spread throughout the house elf community in Hogwarts, if not elsewhere also, that there was something going on with his hands and the thought had him faintly worried. It was entirely possible that they could tell someone, if not their masters, then Dumbledore who was the next closest thing. The boy knew he needed to find away to keep them quiet because if his secret about the glowing hands got out then... well, he didn't dare let his mind wander down that train of thought.
Scrunching up his eyes momentarily in thought, the boy then reconsidered wanting the unnamed house elf to leave, "Excuse me, could you stay for a moment?" the creature looked hesitant, so sneakily Harry added, "There is something I would like you to do for me.", knowing that such a combination of words would make the little guy excited to fulfill his needs.
"What is it, Sirs? I would do anything fors yous, sirs!" the glassy-eyed elf replied with a wide grin.
Leaning down to his height, Harry grinned back, "I know you know about my hands and this 'old magicks' thing, whatever that is," he informed, watching the elf fidget slightly, before adding "I also know that you won't tell me about it, and I respect that, yet I was wondering if you could tell all other house elves that under no circumstances are they allowed to let my secret out? If it does get out then really, really bad things could happen."
The palpable anxieties laced in Harry's words was enough to make the creature shudder and, even though he didn't understand why terrible things could happen if the boy's secret got out, he respected the wish. Nodding so hard that his overlarge ears flapped against his cheeks, the house elf looked at the teenager with wide eyes, "Of course, Sirs!" he replied, popping away for a gleam of purposefulness in his eyes.
Harry sat back and started digging into his food, some of the tension that in his shoulders draining away. "Just a little bit of luck and everything will be fine," he whispered aloud, not willing to think about what would happen if his secrets were exposed. With a shiver, he realized that when it inevitably got out and was leaked to the press, they would be especially ruthless. Already haunted by the constant drivel spouted by the Daily Prophet, he could only imagine what sort of twist they'd spin on his glowing hands... all of the looks he would get...
Feeling queasy at the mere thought, the boy sat back and let his fork clatter to the dish sitting on the stout table in front of him. He rubbed his eyes and peered with a penetrating gaze at his now normal-looking hands. Harry was intimately aware that it was just a facade, that just right underneath the flimsy glamour lied the most damning, perhaps irreparably life-changing thing to ever happen to him. It was the very essence of his freakishness, even though he wished dearly that it wasn't. Freak, freak, freak, freak, freak... he could hear the word now bouncing tangibly in his skull with the voice of none other than Vernon Dursley.
When his uncle had first called him a freak, it didn't affect him too much because he'd been hardened by the years of harsh monikers of the man. Harry believed very firmly that the man was a liar and that obviously was confirmed when Hagrid had told him he was a wizard, something his uncle had concealed for the boy's entire life.
But now... now everything had changed, there was proof now of his freakishness. Bad things just seemed to happen to him and everyone around him. It was truly right after he saw the lights of awareness in Cedric's eyes dim that every word the man had ever said to him in loathing had condensed and grew into an indestructible ball of tar pitted in his chest. Every day there was more things to add to that ball that resided just a hair above his stomach, and the meaningless word 'freak' had since gained a weightiness previously unknown to Harry.
The boy recalled vividly when he arrived at the Dursely residence just this summer. The moment he stepped into the door of a place that he knew he was entirely unwanted, where the residents couldn't care less about his life or death, a transformation had occurred.
"Worthless freak," he remembered hearing Vernon mutter as he shoved his way past Harry, as per usual, yet the gleam in his eyes spoke volumes of hatred the boy never noticed up until that point. Like a heavy dumbbell had just dropped from ten feet up on him, he finally noticed the ball of tar in his chest. He had for the first time in his life understood and agreed with what his uncle was saying.
With a lump in his throat, the boy had stopped in the middle of the kitchen and then fully realized why the man hated him so much. He was a freak. He had taken away the man's ideal of a perfect family life with a normal wife and a normal child. He was this black spot that caused all of Vernon's problems. He was essentially a ball of tar.
Shaking himself from his musings lest he get too upset, it was right then that a bird with familiar red and gold plumage flew into the common room and perched on the boy's shoulder. Harry blinked, not expecting the prompt arrival yet feeling vaguely cheered nonetheless. Recently it had seemed that the bird, who was obviously Fawkes, always knew when the boy was stressed or sad. "Hey there," Harry greeted with a mirthless smile, sniffling a little bit.
Fawkes squawked anxiously, wanting to know what the problem was while nibbling on strands of the teenager's messy hair. "It's nothing, really." the boy said, dodging the annoyed flap of wings from the bird, before adding, "Honestly, I've been worrying over absolutely nothing a lot recently."
Ruthlessly quashing the odd desire to confide in the phoenix, Harry squirmed while Fawkes preened him and curled strands of his black hair with his beak. He swatted playfully at him and the bird chirped in indignation. Savoring the resultant quiet peace between the two, Harry dug back into his food with gusto and it was only a few short minutes before a letter popped into thin air before him.
Blinking, he grasped the letter and struggled to read the harsh cursive strokes on the page.
I would like you to see me in my office at around 2:00 pm. Don't worry, you're not in trouble (yet); I just wanted to see how you are doing. If you do not show up, I'll assume you are busy.
Harry grinned slightly, tucking away the note in his robe pocket and wondering what the upcoming meeting could be about. While the man could be easily angered and quite scathing at times, his witty humor more then made up for it whenever it wasn't aimed at him.
By the time he had gotten back from Snape's private offices it was nearly 7:00 pm and he already felt beat. While it had been a mostly amicable conversation, starting with what he's been doing the past two weeks as well as how he his friends were, the topic had soon veered into unmapped territories.
Things had gotten quite tense when he slyly brought up the Durselys and at seeing how closed Harry was getting, the man settled for asking, "Have you told your friends of the time you had spent with your relatives this early summer?"
The boy remembered pursing his lips and looking distantly at a place that was a little left from the professor's inquisitive eyes, "Not yet." he had replied vaguely with a faint frown on his face.
At the professor's slightly disapproving grimace, Harry gripped the delicate cup of raspberry flavored tea much harder before cautiously perching the warm liquid on his lap. The boy shuddered with a rapidly darkening expression on his face, staring deeply into the swirling red liquids, "Can't I have a little more time? Not yet. I can't do it yet. It's impossible; every time I tried to tell someone before the words just get stuck in my throat and I... I forget."
Snape paused briefly, circumventing his desk and closing the space between himself and the boy. "You weren't so quiet when I first asked you about it."
"That was entirely different," Harry retorted sharply, head jerking upwards with a defiant spark. "I wasn't in the best state of mind, anyways."
"I'm forcing you to do anything you do not want to do, Potter, but sooner or later if you do not tell this information to the right people then your friends and certainly the press will become suspicious of your reasons for staying in the castle for such a long period of time." the professor advised at the dubious look on the boy's face.
They stayed silent for a while as the man gathered his breath, tucking his arms into the folds of his robes, "Your godfather has been asking me many questions about you," he said, before adding at the faintly terrified expression on Harry's face, "I have told him nothing, as I have promised you, yet he has been digging up information from various sources and sooner or later he will find out before you have the chance to tell him."
"And what about the Granger girl? She's may be a know it all yet she is also an extremely perceptive ally who will not stop at anything to know what exactly it was that had hurt her friend." the man went on, "Surely Mr. Black and that girl would make a formidable team."
He stayed silent, chewing on the soft gums of his inner cheek and waiting for whatever rational, yet painful, argument the professor was going to bring up next. Lapsing into silence, it was a moment before a voice deep with loathing made him look up, "I want those people rotting in Azkaban, Potter. I, as well as many others, want them to pay for what they have done to a mere child."
Harry opened his mouth calculatingly, wondering just how to word what he was going to say, "It wasn't that bad, honestly. It hurt emotionally to be called some of the things I was called, and it hurt to get the occasional slap. They... abused me a little bit," the boy shivered at the word before continuing, "if that's what you want to call it, but not too bad and it barely qualifies as that anyways. They don't deserve to have their family ripped apart because... because..."
Snape turned and clenched his fists, not trusting himself to speak quite yet. It had already been proven ineffective to describe in detail to Potter the abominable state that he had arrived in, with a nearly decimated skull and welts lining his back.
"I hope one day you are able to see how wrong you are." he whispered, plopping back into his desk and organizing papers in order to busy his hands that were physically itching for revenge against that family.
With a rather fragmented goodbye and the firm promise the professor had made to meet him again, Harry had left the rooms eagerly while hearing some choice parting words: "Please just consider telling your friends, if not for your benefit then for mine. They wouldn't think any less of you because of it."
After that he had, of course, made it back to the common room without any incident. No matter how much he had wanted to deny it, the man's words had shaken him and would stick with him for a very long time. Inevitably someone would find out what Vernon had done to him, which was made very clear to him, yet he could have at least denied the thought for a while longer. But no.. the professor just HAD to bring it up, just HAD to add more stuff to the list of things he'd have to get done, the boy thought angrily. Perhaps Snape had a point though, perhaps he should actually tell someone.
The thought made Harry queasy.
eep, I sorta rushed the chapter. Sorry if it has mistakes or it isn't 'up to standard' but I hope you all liked it nonetheless.