Harry had soon become very familiar with darkness. And how could he not? He was surrounded in it every moment - whether it be unconsciousness, the gloominess of fame, or his secret self destruction - and the dark just endlessly pulsed around him, making him feel even more hopeless than he could take.
It had hurt from the beginning, and he seemed to remember these moments - each hit and kick that led him further from being alive.
Didn’t he want that? To die?
But his consciousness wouldn’t let him go that way. Sure, he wanted to die. But not like this.
How was he going to die? When? When would it all just be over?
He sighed in relief as he recognized the feeling of the darkness within darkness, the one that would just let him sleep. No worries, no feelings, no hurts. Why couldn’t Harry just sleep forever?
Severus Snape remembers the first time he had ever stepped into Albus Dumbledore’s office. He remembers it smelling the same way it does now, like incense. He remembers the lousy trinkets that he always thought were stupid (and still does), and he remembers the ridiculous fluffy chairs that had way to many colors for his liking.
But it was never like this.
There was never the dark feeling that he had now, looming over everything that once seemed bright, but now dulled. He couldn’t believe that Albus knew! But he could, too, in a way. Albus always kept secrets. For ‘the greater good’, he would say. He was so blinded by what he wanted that he would destroy anyone who got in the way, somehow, with love.
The kind of love that Albus had made Severus sick.
He had, before he left, told the other three students the password for his quarters, and told them Draco would lead the way. He was satisfied that the Weasley boy had kept his mouth shut, for once. Granger also didn’t make a peep, out of worry, he suspected.
Silently as he waited for the headmaster, Snape wondered why she became friends with the two boys that seemed to get into the most trouble. He knew that she and Weasley had once been in a relationship, though now he knew that he was dating that just as brainless Gryffindor, Ms. Brown.
Oh well. He could only hope that she was the wiser of the two and chose Draco, rather than another foolish Gryffindor. Oh yes, he wasn’t stupid. He saw the glances that he wasn’t even sure Draco knew he was giving.
He broke from his thoughts as he shifted the child that he was holding. He looked at Harry softly, sadly, and brushed a bit of messy black hair from his eyes. How young he looked now, with the tension gone from his face, as if he wasn’t in any pain. Severus knew better than to think that though. But now that he was looking, Harry reminded Severus so much of another boy that had lived such a way... Such pain, and no help at all. He would skin the old man alive for this.
As if hearing his very wishes, Dumbledore apparated into his office, not noticing company, and sitting down, happily unwrapping a lemon drop and began sucking on it. It wasn’t until after that he noticed that he wasn’t alone.
His smile was gone immediately, once he realized just who was in Severus’s arms. He frowned deeply, in fact, asking, “Another accident, my boy?” Severus grit his teeth at the name and the stupid question.
“Just who do you think you are?”
Dumbledore looked at him startled. “What ever do you mean, my boy?”
Snape bristled. “Do not call me that. I am not your boy, and neither is Harry. You couldn’t take care of us when we needed you! I hate to admit that to anyone, but you need to see that I can speak for myself.” His eyes filled with untamed anger. “You couldn’t learn after the first time? Do you remember when I came to you, every year, begging not to go back, and you just waved me away?! Did you not remember that, when this boy here did the same damn thing?”
Albus was now grasping at strings. “Don’t you hate the boy? When did this change? He’s perfectly fine with the blood wards-”
“DON’T YOU PATRONIZE ME!” Severus shouted angrily, his face turning an unpleasant shade of red.
“You said that you would protect him,” Severus said quietly, accusingly.
“The blood wards-”
“The blood wards do not protect him from everything, do they? No. They don’t.” He paused. “And I think you knew that. I think you were using it towards your advantage. All for this war.” He paced around the small office, trying to think of a way to say what he wanted to say to where Albus would understand. He used a term Albus would be familiar with. “We are not chess pieces, Albus. I think it’s high time you knew that.”
He saw Albus trying to come up with something, but it was for naught.
Snape carried the child with him to the door, about to leave, when he briefly stopped. He barely turned his head when he said, “Once, I was a naïve boy that turned into a bitter man. I was caught between two sides, and eventually, who I was a spy for was unclear.”
“I had a choice,” Severus continued, ” and I think you’ve just made my choice for me.” He opened the door, stepped just outside of it, when he heard Albus say, “Please! I never meant for this to happen to him, or you!”
Snape raised his eyebrows in a way only Severus Snape could. “But of course.” Albus gave a small sigh of relief, until Snape said, “No one does. But you are forgetting another child you have failed, and as such, failed many others by making him this way.”
Albus’ brows bunched together in concentration, as if he was asking himself who he forgot.
His eyes widened in realization.
“Tom,” he whispered.
Snape gave a short nod before sweeping out of the room with his precious cargo in his arms.
Albus collapsed into his chair, his head in his hands, wondering how could he ever fix this?
Meanwhile, Draco, Hermione and Ron were in Snape’s office, oddly silent. Maybe it was the shock of the situation, or the need to just not fight for once for their friend, or rather, for Draco, an attempt of making and keeping a friendship.
However, this silence was broken when Snape burst through the door, Harry held in his arm like the most fragile thing in the world, and perhaps he was.
“Stupid, stupid, stupid!” The potions professor quickly but gently set him down on a quickly transfigured couch, rushing to the multiple shelves of potions in his office, rummaging through them. He muttered under his breath, “Far too long, why didn’t I... Where is that damn healing potion?!”
Hermione, who had heard his muttering, pulled out her wand, saying, “Accio healing potion!” The potion flew off of the shelf towards her, and she watched as Snape plucked it out of the air, opening the cap and sniffing it vaguely before nodding to himself and walking back over to Harry. He opened the boy’s mouth, slowly pouring in the potion, rubbing his throat gently to help Harry swallow.
He conjured a soft pillow and propped Harry’s head up on it. The three others watched in fascination that Snape could be so gentle. He turned to them, his face blank of emotion. “We need to get to our ally. He has a far more suitable healer. Are you coming or going?”
Hermione was the first to step up. “I’ll go wherever Harry goes.”
Snape glance at her, then the others. Draco was next, “Me too. Whatever it takes.” They all looked at the last person, Ron. He looked hesitant, wringing his hands in nervousness. “I.. uh... Yeah? I guess I’ll go?” Snape would have questioned it further but Harry didn’t have much time left.
He threw some nearby floo-powder into the fireplace, and said, “Malfoy Manor!”
Draco looked surprised, then a look of realization dawned on him and he jumped through the flames, intending to find his father to explain.
Ron suddenly went from hesitant to downright fearful. “Malfoy’s? Are you trying to kill us?”
Hermione gave a sigh of exasperation. “Honestly, Ronald. If the Malfoy’s can help Harry, we’re going.” Ron looked like he was going to protest, but she cut him off before he even started, “It doesn’t matter as long as Harry gets the help he needs. We don’t have time for this. It’s your own choice, about which is more important.” With that, she jumps through the flames.
Snape moves taking Harry with him, and just before he goes, he mutters to Ron, “You’d have half a brain if you’d just listen to her.”
When he gracefully walked from the fireplace into the manor, Snape greeted Hermione, who was waiting patiently. She glanced sadly at the fireplace, watching as the flames went out, Ron appearing not to have followed.