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 3 - The Voices In My Head Are Creating a Mutiny
By Shadows and Redrum
Severus paced his empty classroom with an air of restlessness that really was unbecoming to his stony reputation. He sat down on his chair with an agitated sigh and rubbed his temples gently in an attempt to clear his mind.
He’d had a horrible feeling all throughout the day and it was only lunch! At this rate, he’d be a perfect wreck by last period English. Normally, nothing could really agitate Severus, but this issue with Harry was really close to home. It hadn’t left him alone for a second after reading Harry’s poem. After that he’d had absolutely no peace of mind at all. He might have even frightened the math teacher, Minerva, with his more icy than usual mood this morning.
Dropping his hands, Severus’s eyes settled on his top left desk drawer. He’d been alone most of his life and as a result his herbalist hobby had grown quite extensively over the years; and with it his knack for meticulous preparation. That drawer was filled with a soothing vial he visited quite often, and a few others for any variety of classroom mishaps that might happen. You never knew with high school students.
With another small sigh he unbuttoned his shirt sleeve and rolled it up with a few deft movements before retrieving the black vial he wanted. He poured a little on his now bare left forearm and, after returning the vial to its drawer and closing it, he leaned back in his chair and began to rub it in with his right hand. His eyes drifted shut and he contemplated putting his neglected lunch away. He’d taken it out and arranged a few things on his desk shortly before the urge to start pacing took over him. Now, however, he wasn’t sure he had much of an appetite.
Harry always loved lunch periods. Ever since he learned his lesson to not approach others, he'd kept away from them and had always managed to find a comfortable place where he could read and write. At the moment he was leaning against a large oak tree with an English text book propped up by his upraised knees. He probably looked like an idiot, what with his very ugly sling and him reading out loud.
He had taken Professor Snape's advice and decided to try reading out loud to improve his dictation. Since he couldn't read in his dark cupboard he decided he'd try reading at lunch. He usually wrote poetry and small stories at this time but he figured that he could put that aside for awhile.
But he was still having a problem. There wasn't anything wrong with his dictation, there never was. That was because he was alone. There was no one there to make him nervous, which in turn would make him stutter as he read. Harry sighed, finally closing the book after spending half an hour reading out loud from it. Putting it in his book bag, Harry took out his worn out notebook that he had managed to steal from a classroom, claiming that he had needed another notebook because his other one was filled. That was from last year. He had planned on stealing another one, but Snape didn't look like he would be fooled. And students weren't allowed to use the notebooks for personal writing anyway. Snape looked like he always went by the rules.
He held the pen awkwardly in his left hand. He wished he was one of those people that could write with both their hands, but he could only write with his right one, which at the moment was stuck in a sling and would be for a month at the least. Harry closed his eyes, trying to think of something to write about. The darkness behind his lids reminded him of something..
Quickly opening his eyes Harry began to write about his life in the cupboard. His writing was incredibly messy, but he was careful enough that it was semi-legible. Writing the title at the top of the page, Harry smiled. He loved finishing poems. It always gave him a sense of completion, like he had just over come something. He wished he didn't have to write so small, but if he didn't then it never would have fit in the tiny space at the back. There was no other room in the notebook. Maybe he could write on the back cover?
The sound of the bell signaled the end of lunch. Harry placed his pen and notebook into his bag and awkwardly placed the strap over his shoulder. Holding onto it tightly, he set towards the stairs for third period.
The last period of the day had finally arrived, and Severus had managed to quiet his nerves enough to be his usual near icy self for the rest of his classes. He watched the class arrive and take their seats quietly, and he fought the urge to smirk. By now all of his classes knew better than to walk into his room with anything less then concentrated silence. His eyes swept over the room and rested on Harry. His arm was in a sling and Severus wished he could say that he was surprised. He didn’t say a word, but raised his eyebrow again towards his hairline as a way of getting across the message that the new injury had not gone unnoticed.
Glancing around the class once more, Severus passed back the poems the students had handed him from the day before. “I expected little from you to begin with, but I must say you still managed to shock me with the sheer lack of effort put into most of these poems. There were some of you who actually managed a halfway decent job of it, but I guarantee the rest of you will not survive the rest of this year without a great deal more effort. And I assure you I have no trouble failing each and every one of you.” Snape's lips twitched into the semblance of a smirk at Draco’s horrified expression upon seeing his grade. “For those of you who managed, however,” Severus continued, handing Harry back his poem, “You just might make it.”
Turning to stride back to the front of the classroom with his usual air of authority, Severus spent the first half of class lecturing on the various elements of poetry and giving notes, Potter’s poem still in the back of his mind. It was the one poem not marred with a wash of red ink and comments. He’d just placed the simple note: “Seven years of practice have not been lost on you.” He was unused to seeing an actual effort, but having it present in the class pleased him a great deal.
The last half of the class was spent on reciting poetry. “There will,” Severus said at one point, “be verbal tests on poetry. Reciting is half of the process. And let me add that I will assign a poem a week until you all get it right.” Things were a slight blur after that until the last five minutes of class or so.
Glancing at the clock Severus announced, “I believe we have time for one more poem. Mr. Potter, I do not believe you have read yet today.”
Harry smiled when he read the comment. So he really had been paying attention the other day, and not just making idle conversation like some other people tended to do. Still grinning, Harry folded his paper and placed it in his messenger bag.
The first half of class was extremely awkward, and Harry was really starting to get frustrated. He hated writing so messy! But he couldn't help it. At least he didn't have to hand these notes in like he had to in his previous classes. The teacher would start ragging on him as soon as they saw his papers. But when they took a look at his sling, they would fall silent and for the rest of the class they would take painful measures to avoid looking at him.
It felt like hours had passed before Snape finally called a stop to the lecturing and asked various students to read out loud. Sneaking glances at the clock (something he almost never did), he was hoping that he wouldn't have to read out loud today. He didn't want to disappoint the professor if he ended up stuttering again.
Hearing Snape's last statement didn't surprise him at all. Harry sighed and randomly flipped through the book, looking for a poem that was at least semi interesting. All the other poems that had been read out loud were so boring they were going to making him sleepy. Or maybe that was just the deliverers fault. Malfoy sure knew how to screw up a perfectly good poem.
Ahh! Harry stopped the page and placed his fingers against the spine, holding the book open. Closing his eyes, Harry took a deep breath. Imagining himself back in the courtyard under the oak tree, all by himself with no one else around, Harry started.
"Heart of Darkness, by Anonymous
O heart of darkness bleed
Reflect visions of stealth and greed
Simmer thought that is decreed
Amidst the elm and its seed
What is thy nature and it’s feed
Playing a lute or a reed
Spreading fast what is your speed
Turning evil into good deed
Breeding lust, Sin and greed."
The room erupted into giggles. Harry frowned, looking up. Shit, did they have to be so immature? Shaking his head, Harry continued.
"Who ta-takes lead u-upon your heed?
Bur-burning souls like tu-tumble weed
You are no-nothing but dar-darkness indeed."
Harry sighed. He knew he'd end up stuttering. He closed the book and tried not to slump down in his chair. 'I'm such an idiot!' he thought furiously. The throbbing in his shoulder that he had been able to ignore up until he was interrupted made him even more depressed. 'I can't do anything right.' Harry shook his head. 'Uncle Vernon was right.'
If looks could kill, the few who laughed would have been six feet under at the moment. Despite that, they certainly looked pale enough after they’d caught Severus’ eye. Looking back at Harry, and because he doubted he’d be able to see the slight, but still there curve in his lips, he spoke in tone decidedly softer than usual (not that anyone but Harry was paying any attention, “Well done, Mr. Potter.”
Sweeping his gaze over the rest of the class, Severus’ voice shifted back into the hard authoritative tone he usually carried. “I encourage all of you to practice reading aloud in attempts of improving your so far dismal skills. Poetry is,” Severus continued, all but glaring at the few who’d laughed earlier, “a very serious subject and I expect you to start treating it as such.”
A few moments later the bell rang and the class all but stampeded out into the hall, no doubt wanting nothing more than to be rid of Severus for the day. Severus watched them go with a frustrated sigh and closed the classroom door against the din of the end of the school day. Striding back to his desk he moved his chair around to where he’d talked with Harry the last afternoon. As he sat down he said in a still authoritative voice, but not nearly as sharp as in his regular classes, “You might want to come up to the first row Mr. Potter, it would be infinitely easier to talk that way.”
Harry sighed. He'd heard the tone of voice professor Snape had used when he complimented him, but he still couldn't help degrading himself. He should have been able to block out the sounds of the classroom, he should have continued to imagine he was alone in the courtyard.
Harry stood up and slid the strap onto his good shoulder before trudging to the front. Sitting down in the chair he had used yesterday, Harry looked up into dark eyes watching him intently. Reclining, so he could press his back against the chair to relax a little bit, he winced at the stabbing pain of his side and his shoulder when it came into contact with the hard plastic of the chair. Damn uncle Vernon..
Severus clucked his tongue lightly at Harry’s wince and his gaze shifted down to the sling on his arm. He rested his gaze there a few moments, unsure of what to say before finally settling on, “It would appear that dictation is not your only problem these days, Mr. Potter.” Severus knew it might have been better to start with a statement about Harry’s earlier dictation, but seeing the poor young man wince after watching him struggle though class with a sling, one obviously constructed by himself, he just couldn’t help it.
Meeting Harry’s slightly pained gaze with an attentive, rather than harsh, expression, Severus tilted his head slightly to one side and awaited a response. He hoped he hadn’t overstepped his boundaries too soon.
Harry sighed. He wished he was in more control of showing his emotions. If he'd have been anything like Snape, then he never would have been questioned. Snape didn't look like he would show any type of emotion that could be used against him. 'I wish I was like that,' Harry thought wistfully.
Placing a hand on his side, ridiculously hoping that would help to ease the pain, Harry gave a small nod. There wasn't much to say to a statement like that.
Watching Harry intently for a few moments, Severus debated with himself whether or not to proceed further. This was very dangerous ground, and a misstep could frighten Harry away; that was the last thing he wanted. Severus couldn’t help himself as he watched Harry wince again. Crossing his fingers he said, “Mind if I make a few adjustments to that sling? I’ve had a lot of experience, and it would support your arm better.”
Harry frowned, debating on whether or not to let Snape help him. 'Well, it's not like he hasn't helped me before. Besides, it was his own potion that got the swelling down on my eye and on my shoulder'. Harry finally nodded, waiting for the taller man to proceed. At least with better support his shoulder should heal faster, although he couldn't do much about his bruised side.
Severus leaned forward slightly and with very gentle, agile touches, pulled the sling a little tighter and secured the knot so that it wouldn’t come undone without Harry wanting it too. Severus pulled back, examined his work, and nodded, showing his satisfaction with the sling.
“For someone who obviously had to make that one handed, you did a good job with it,” Snape said, meeting his eyes again. 'Much better than I could’ve managed at that age,' he thought to himself, not quite daring to speak the words allowed.
Harry snorted. Maybe that was because he had a lot of experience doing it. Seeing the professor raise an eyebrow at him, Harry shook his head. "Th-thanks." Like hell he was going to state his previous thought. Snape didn't need to know that. He was really starting to wonder though about his professor.. all the other teachers had either given up by now, or would have called the authorities. The injured teen was tempted to ask why, but he figured that he would just be putting the idea into Snape's head if he mentioned it.
Harry looked down at the sling. It actually looked a little more stable now. And the throb wasn't as bad, maybe because it was closer to his body? He really wished the damn ache in his side would go away though. From the last time he had checked, the bruise looked like it was close to going down. Maybe when it was faded a bit more, it wouldn't hurt as much. Hopefully his uncle wouldn't hit him again there. There was only so much he could handle. Next time he could end up with a cracked rib, and it wasn't like he could seek medical attention for that. His relatives sure didn't care.
“You’re welcome,” Severus replied calmly, although it was really grating on his nerves that he seemed to keep hitting a dead end in the conversation. 'Like you would’ve been so willing to give up information?' his inner voice chided. 'Oh bloody shut up!' he replied, before he reminded himself that having a conversation in his head would not help things now.
With a soft sigh, he felt his right hand drifting over to his left forearm. 'You could always show him,' Prompted that traitorous voice in his head. It was an option, but somehow… Severus just couldn’t. Frowning very slightly he met Harry’s gaze again. Could he?
Deciding he’d better change the subject before he got to far along that train of thought, Severus said, “You did much better in class today. Try not to let those other depraved students get to you.”
Harry's full lips curved into a small smile. He really liked Snape's sense of humor. Not many people found comments like that funny, but Harry did. He made those types of statements all the time to himself. Actually.. for a moment there, it had looked like the taller man was actually talking to himself. Harry's grin widened, a spark of mischievousness lurked in his emerald eyes.
"You must be good at multi-tasking."
Severus felt his lips pull in a smile, that almost mirrored Harry's, despite himself. It was a terrible shame to see pain and fear mar his features; he really did have a nice smile. The polar opposite of the sneer he could already tell was commonplace with the infuriating Malfoy. It was good to see Harry smile.
Blinking in confusion at Harry's statement, Severus tilted his head to one side, furrowing his brow slightly and asked, "What do you mean?" He wasn’t sure what to make of the mischievousness lurking in his eyes, but at least it wasn’t distrust.
Harry smiled. "You were talking to yourself just then. I remembered that you mentioned that you talk to yourself in your head, because your conversations with yourself were more intelligent. And you paused for a long time just then so, obviously, you were talking to yourself while you were talking to me." Harry grinned. At least he had one more thing in common with his teacher.
Meeting Snape's eye, Harry found himself smiling more. The usually somber man really did have a nice smile. The young man tilted his head to the side, eyes going wide behind his large glasses. "You have a beautiful smile." Harry frowned when said smile faded back into it's neutral line.
Harry sighed, his own smile fading. 'I obviously over stepped the line.' The young man put his head down, letting the ebony locks shade his face from view. 'I'm such an idiot. That's what I get for being too forward.'
Severus frowned when he noticed Harry’s mood dampen noticeably. He didn’t smile often and he had been very unprepared for the young mans blunt comment. It was disheartening to see him crumble so quickly. 'Such an observant young man, obviously not so far gone that he can’t smile. This is so frustrating,' Severus thought to himself. He was torn between being happy that Harry had actually smiled and the fact that he had faltered so soon.
Floundering for something to say, Severus finally just slid the poetry book across to Harry again and said in a neutral tone, “Perhaps you should try reading aloud again. It seemed to have helped a lot in today’s class reading.”
Harry sighed and grabbed the book. Doing his normal routine of flipping through the pages, the small teen finally stopped on a poem that caught his eyes.
"When It Comes To Dealing With People, by Milky way
If ev-everyone could tell the truth,
the world would be a be-better place.
If everyone co-could tell the diff-difference between lie and truth,
the wor-world would be a better place.
So why do people tell 'little white lies'?
Is it sup-supposed to make us feel better?
If you promised some-someone to be there for them when they fall into a pit of emotions,
is it not a lie when you won't even be th-there for the person phys-physically?
So let me give you some advice that I've found useful.
When it comes to dealing with people,
always be straight for-forward and direct.
Don't te-tell them that it'll be alright,
when you know it wo-won't.
Don't tell th-them you'll fix ev-everything,
when you know you can't.
Don't tell them you kn-know what they-re going through,
when you co-could never begin to im-imagine the hurt they feel.
Don't tell them lit-little white lies,
be-because you will regret it later."
Harry frowned and placed his chin on his good hand. He hadn't meant to stutter.. but he had forgotten to create that image for himself of being alone. "I-I'm sor-sorry." He couldn't even bare to look up at his professor, too afraid to see disappointment in those obsidian eyes. Like in all his other teachers when he couldn't stop stuttering. No matter what he did, Snape was no different. Sure he was kinder then most, funnier then most, but sooner or later he would want Harry's debt to him paid off.
At least he wasn't gay, so no sexual payment would be in order. Even though Harry thought that the older man did look good for his age, he couldn't really see himself with the sullen man. Besides, Harry didn't want a one night stand, he didn't do those. For all he knew, that was probably what Snape did every weekend, or maybe he sat at home by himself. Either way, he was still a teacher. Snape seemed like the type of man that had high morals, ones that he would never disregard, no matter how tempting the offer. And Harry had to respect that in the man, not many people were that honorable.
Severus watched Harry struggle through the poem with an inward sigh. This was definitely going to be harder than he imagined. But, he thought as he watched Harry start to mope again, it would be worth it. Sadness and other such emotions were very unbecoming in those large, emerald eyes.
“Never apologize for trying, Mr. Potter. If poetry was easy, I would be out of a job. You do well enough on your own with the writing part; it’s just the dictation that needs work. Whatever it is you tried yesterday worked well enough, so try that again. And if it doesn’t work a second time, do not be afraid to ask questions. That is why I am here after all: to see you improve however slow or fast the pace.”
Looking over Harry’s slim form again, Severus was glad he’d managed to keep his thoughts in order. There was no telling what Harry’s reaction would be to such a forward gesture, one with which wasn’t like Severus to begin with anyway. It was all these bad memories this situation was bringing up that was making it so hard to see where to draw the line. And not to mention what could have happened if he’d had to explain the mark? Even if he was abused at home, there was no telling whether or not he’d freak out finding out that his teacher was gay. No, Severus was sure now that he’d take that bit of the past with him to his grave as he’d originally planned… even if his inner voices wouldn’t shut up about it. Maybe he was becoming schizophrenic? That’d be a nice touch to his resume.
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