Chapter 4: Before The Dawn
By 4am Severus had given up on the idea of sleep. He felt sorry for any student who inadvertently crossed his path tomorrow. Though he had laid in bed for hours now, desperate for sleep to take him, he simply could not get Harry off of his mind. He had reviewed his Snakes timetables, made appropriate notes for each student, organized his filing cabinet for first years, written notes to each of Harrys teachers, drafted a missive for Madame Pomfrey, and began planning home visits for his newest Snakes as he did every year and still, his thoughts returned to Harry.
What kind of life had this child led to be so timid? James Potter had been very loud when they were in school together, and was always quick to jump for attention. Even Lily had been outspoken; though less of an attention seeker (unless it was for high marks); but Harry was nothing like his parents. If it weren't for his bottle green eyes and untamable brown hair, Severus would never have known that this was the child Lily and James Potter had died to protect. As Head of Slytherin House he was used to children coming from abused homes, but Harry was an entirely new mystery. He was supposed to be Dumbledore's Golden Boy, and thus, should have arrived at Hogwarts in far better condition physically, and mentally. In fact, Dumbledore had led everyone to believe that Harry was a happy child who received all the love he deserved, and that he may even be somewhat spoiled. It was painfully obvious however, that this was not the case.
Lost in his thoughts Severus was not roused from his spot in his favorite chair until his alarm sounded at 6:30, signaling that it was time for him to prepare for the day. He performed a quick cleansing charm on himself and changed into his teaching robes before heading to the great hall.
Harry had arrived at the Slytherin Table at precisely 6:45 am and had sat quietly waiting for the rest of his housemates to join him. By the time he had climbed in to bed last night his dorm mates had been asleep and thus he had been spared from any questions or harsh looks. This morning he had risen at 4am, just as he did daily at the Dursleys, and had picked out his best looking clothes; which regrettably still were not much; wiped down his trainers, packed his satchel for the day, washed off quickly, and retreated to an abandoned corridor until it was time for breakfast, all in an effort to once again avoid the attention of others.
By 7:05 it was obvious he was the only first year of Slytherin House who had taken heed to the Professors words and when finally, at 7:30, with barely enough time to eat, his year mates came in, Snape descended upon the table like a bird diving in for a meal.
"It would seem I punished the wrong student last night," Snape hissed. "Thank you, Mr. Potter, for your prompt attendance this morning. As for the rest of you, you shall serve detention with me tonight, starting at 8pm, and lasting until you can understand the importance of following directions. Please review your time tables and do not be late for classes or I shall make your detentions even more unpleasant."
Draco opened his mouth to object but was quickly silenced by the look his Head of House gave him.
"Mr. Potter, you shall report to my office during lunch for your detention," Snape said, leaving the Great Hall in a swirl of robes.
Severus' morning was far from pleasant. Aside from the dunderheads that most of his pupils were, he had received a stern lashing from Deputy Headmistress Minerva McGonagall for obviously frightening poor Harry speechless, and had already averted the sure to be natural disaster that was Neville Longbottom. He groaned upon realizing it was now lunch, which meant one Harry Potter would soon be arriving in his office for 'detention'.
Severus Snape was not a kind man. He was distant, and cold. The product of a harsh childhood, he did not make friends, nor brook insolence or weakness. While he knew first hands the signs of abuse, and sought to protect the members of his house unlike the rest of his colleagues, he had little sympathy for any of his Snakes or their plight. Harry Potter unfortunately, was very unchartered territory. While he would hate James Potter until the day he died, he had made a promise that went far beyond an Unbreakable Vow, to Lily. He had begged her forgiveness when he betrayed her and her family to the Dark Lord, and had sworn on his magic, of his own accord, to protect her son with his dying breath. Now he was faced with a choice. Honor his promise to his sweet Lily, and save Harry from the nightmare that was his life, or let him fall through the cracks just as he himself had all those years ago. In the end it was quiet a simple choice. Severus Snape would stand up for Harry, if only because no one else would.
He was startled from his thoughts by a soft knock at the door.
"Enter," he said in his silkiest, deadliest voice.
Harry Potter entered Professor Snapes office head down and did not look up until he was addressed.
"Sit, Potter, and look at me," Snape commanded.
Looking over Harry, Severus tried to figure out exactly what made this boy the way he was, but sadly it was to no avail. All he saw was a scrawny (too scrawny, really) 11 year old boy with horrid glasses, nightmare hair, and very sad eyes.
"I assume you know why you are here, Mr. Potter?" he asked, to which Harry nodded.
Severus walked around his desk and sat on the edge staring at Harry for a moment longer.
"Take off your robe, jumper, and tie. Remove your shoes, and I shall return," he commanded.
Harry just looked at him nervously as he walked out of the room. When Professor Snape returned 10 minutes later, sans his teaching robes, and with a muggle doctors bag in hand, he was somewhat unsurprised to see that Harry had not done as he was asked, and did in fact, look terrified.
"Harry, you know why you are here. I am not going to hurt you. If you would prefer that Madame Pomfrey do this, we can go to the hospital wing, where anyone could walk in, or we may do this here, in the privacy of my office, which is warded against any unwanted company. You choose."
Harry looked down, tears in his eyes and removed his robes.
"Good. We shall start slow. Stick out your hand so that I may collect a blood sample."
Harry complied never even flinching when his finger was pricked. Snape continued his examination of the boy in a slow and calm manner, checking his teeth, eyes, skin, height, weight, reflexes, and palor before he could go no further in Harry's current state.
"Harry, I shall need you to remove your tie and shirt, please."
Harry shook his head at this point, fear invading his eyes, and his breathing became irratic.
"Potter! I'm not going to harm you, I simply need to examine you."
Harry started violently shaking his head, and dropped into a ball rocking back and fourth. When Snape tried to approach him, Harry flinched and ran for the corner where he tried to compress himself as much as possible. At a loss over what to do, Severus summoned Poppy and sat back at his desk waiting.
When Poppy arrived she assessed the situation and quickly ushered Snape out of the room. Only then did he realize lunch was almost over and so he rushed to put a sign on his door cancelling lessons and assigning a particularly nasty bit of homework to make up for the suffering he would not be inflicting upon his abysmal classes today.
Thirty minutes later Poppy exited his office, her face twisted in rage, barely keeping her composure.
"Madame," he called after her.
"Never in all my years..." she spluttered. "Why when I get ahold of-"
"Poppy, what did you find?" he asked with slight concern in his voice.
Madame Pomfrey's face went from outraged to saddened.
"Severus, I truely believe if that boy had been a muggle, he would not have survived. I would even hazard a guess that if he were a mere wizard, and not the saviour of our world, he would have perished still. It is a miracle of Merlin he has made it this far, and when I get ahold of Albus he will be wishing St. Mungos was prepared for him."
"Poppy what are you saying?"
"Severus, I have never, in all my years, seen a case so bad. I fear not even yours. Almost every bone in his body has been broken at one point or another, and none have been properly reset. He is covered head to toe in scars. He has several bruises in various states of healing. At least one eardrum is busted. He is severely malnourished. His glasses are at least 3 years old, and probably the only pair he has ever had. And scans show that his larynx and trachea have both been crushed. While magic repaired what it could, I am afraid his vocal cords are damaged beyond repair."
Severus closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. What had those muggles done, and why had Dumbledore done nothing about it? Surely he had someone watching the boy?
"Severus, I'm afraid...there is something else..."
"What else could there possibly be, Woman?" he asked flabergasted.
"There is evidence that Harry was..." she trailed off.
"Abused, obviously," he said.
"Yes. Sexually, as well."
All color drained from Severus' already pale face.
"I'll kill them. I swear to Merlin I will kill them all," he whispered. "How did Albus allow this? How did he not know?"
"Perhaps, Harry was unable to say anything to anyone?"
"Or perhaps the old fool just didn't care." Snape shook his head lost in his own thoughts. "Poppy I will need a copy of your paperwork. Do not let Albus know that I, or you, know anything of what we have discussed. He obviously is not concerned about his Golden Boy, and as Harry's Head of House, it is my duty to report this to the Ministry. I am quiet sure Lady Greengrass and Madame Bones do care, however, and will see fit to do something about it."
"Severus, I have always admired how you protect your Snakes. And I am glad Harry was sorted into your house. I must admit I was shocked at his sorting at first; James and Lily were true Gryffindor's; but I think this may be the very reason why he ended up in Slytherin." Poppy smiled at him and the departed for her Ward.
Taking a deep breath, Severus steeled himself and then reentered his office, mind set on rescuing the little boy who had been dumped on his House.
"And is it that you cannot talk, or that you will not, Mr. Potter?" he asked again.