Chapter one- Skin Deep
The Great Hall was as quiet as a grave. No one moved. All they did was stare. Stare at the short, thin waif that strode into the room, face devoid of emotion and sporting a cold look in his emerald eyes. The headmaster even paused in his speech, chest puffed out in pride. /He/ had created this monster. This monster. This cold bitter person.
The child may be a failed project, but no one else would want the freak either. The green eyed boy glared back at all the students, yet only a few actually recognized him for who he was. He no longer wore his glasses, his eyes had been corrected during a healing session. His black hair was longer, shoulder length and wavy. His face was delicate, yet, if one looked hard enough, you could see the thin white scars on the boy's cheek and temple. From neck to toe the child was covered in bandages, even though he wore loose fitting jeans and a deep royal blue turtleneck.
On his hands were slim leather gloves, which appeared to be a soft black. The tension built in the room as the students began to murmur, wondering who this stranger was.
"Ah. Mr. Potter. You made it at last."
Everyone froze, except the teachers at the Head Table, and three Gryffindors. These seemed unsurprised with the unveiling of the teen's identity. Harry Potter shifted his gaze to the man who had tortured him the longest, eyes slitted in annoyance.
"Forgive me, sir. I was waylaid by the Auror who escorted me." his voice, quiet and raspy, still traveled through the room.
Many shivered at its close resemblance to snake speech, others were more focused on the staring contest that was currently taking place between the former Gryiffindor and the Leader of the Light. It was intense. Surprisingly enough, it was the headmaster who looked away first. He inclined his head and swept his arm over the expanse of the room.
"Be seated wherever you wish Mr. Potter." although the old man's tone was genteel, it didn't take a scientist to see the disgust and loathing present in his face.
It left most of the students with a sense of intrigue. Potter had been Albus Dumbledore's favorite after all. What had the former lion done to garner such a look?
Instead of replying, the teen merely scowled and stalked over to the Slytherin table. Draco Malfoy quickly slid to the side, allowing the former Chosen One to sit beside him.
Dumbledore ignored the gasps of outrage, mentally smirking at the idiot's bold move. The kid was making it too easy for him to show the world how defective he really was. No one trusted a Slytherin. His blue eyes locked with Harry's fellow tormentors and former friends. He nodded imperceptibly, making both sit straighter in their seats. Their mission was to make Harry's return to Hogwarts for his sixth year, a living hell. It had been two years since anyone had seen him. No one knew what had happened to the boy, and if the headmaster had anything to say about it, they wouldn't. He watched as his failed weapon sat amongst the snakes, listening but not talking. Maybe he could alienate him even in that house?
"Well as I was saying. The Forbidden Forest is, as always, off limits. With that said, tuck in?"
The plates were filled with food and Dumbledore returned to his seat, smug about his reign in the school. He never noticed the black eyes that followed his every move. Nor the fact that said eyes gazed lovingly at the boy who'd been locked away for two years.
Harry inwardly sneered. The looks he was receiving from his peers were beyond irritating. He supposed he should have been used to it. What with his status as a test subject for the last few years. Still, the looks, the jeers, leers, anger, lust, even confusion. They were all rather intense leaving him with the feelings of being crowded and chained up.
Like he used to be.
He eyed the plate of food before him with distaste. He really didn't feel like eating. He would much rather munch on his bag of almonds and soybeans. Not this potion laced bilge. It seemed not even the Slytherins noticed the food was laced.
Which meant that it was either very carefully hidden, or the effects were to subtly increase their love of Hogwarts foods. Possibly also a controlling agent or two in there.
Itching beneath one of the bandages on his hand, Harry shifted his attention to his potions master. The older, stoic man was shooting him looks of worry. If one peered close enough, there seemed to be a twitch about the wizard's person, as if he longed to get away from the Head Table and join his snakes.
In all probability, it was most likely the case.
Harry raised a brow in question. The dark haired man moved his hand in a secret gesture that translated to 'we need to talk'. The ex-Gryffindor snorted but inclined his head before returning his attention to his full plate. Scowling, he flicked his hand and the plate was replaced with a bowl full of various nuts, which he proceeded to eat; checking every mouthful for cleverly hidden spells of potions before placing them in his mouth.
It was in between his fifth mouthful and his sixth when he noted the looks that Draco was shooting his way. Bristling at the blatant lack of privacy, he dropped his bite back into the bowl and returned the stare.
Draco appeared startled with being addressed and shook his head before gazing at his godfather then back at Harry. His grey eyes were calculating yet curious.
"What is Gryffindor's pet doing with us Slytherins?" snapped out Pansey.
Harry stiffened, green orbs hardening. His magic whiplashed down the table and grabbed Pansey in an invisible vise. Anger fairly vibrated through the room and many at the table trembled at its strength. There was only one other wizard that they had experienced such acidic fury from. Many Slytherins vowed to stay out of Harry's way. They didn't know what happened to cause such hatred, but they weren't foolish enough to mess with it.
Draco gasped as the rage reflected in beautiful green eyes and wished, suddenly, to know what had happened to bring about this lovely creature. Pansey struggled against Harry's magic but no one jumped to her rescue.
"I am no ones pet. Not Gryffindor's. Not Dumbledore's, not yours." the bandaged teen finally rasped, his words becoming hisses whenever he encountered an 's'.
He squeezed harder, an unholy glee settling in his eyes as Pansey turned a lovely shade of blue-grey.
"Let her go. She's not worth it brat."
No one questioned Professor Snape's sudden appearance, but Draco found it curious that Harry not only let Pansey go, but seemed to lean closer to his godfather when the man reached the teen's side. Harry's head fell forward, his hair concealing his face from anyone unobtrusively rubber necking the scene.
"What happened here, Draco?"
Draco was startled out of his curiousity and he locked eyes with his uncle.
"Pansey called Harry, a pet Gryffindor." the blond drawled, interested in the way his uncle paled and Harry tensed.
Then to the shock of all at the Slytherin table, Severus knelt and whispered something in the ex-scion's ear to which the brunet nodded and stood. The potions master glared at his Slytherin, who was gasping for air, and stalked closer to her. She flinched when he garnered attention.
"You are lucky, Miss Parkinson. You almost died. Thirty points from Slytherin for such unsightly display of decorum, and detention with me at midnight tomorrow."
With those scathing words, the professor motioned for Harry to follow him out and they both exited the Great Hall. No one but the Slytherin seemed to care about the latest development within their ranks. Draco smirked. This year was proving to be interesting.
Harry winced when Severus gripped his chin, forcing them to lock eyes. Fear, sadness, anger, caring. He tasted them all as the elder wizard made sure he was alright. It was uncomfortable. It was like tasting ones own life blood.
Still, of all of the people he'd been forced to come in contact with, Severus was the only one whose 'scent' he could stand. Beneath all the worry and anger, was a smokey kindness that soothed the constant bitterness in Harry's soul.
Eventually, Severus let go, an apology in his actions as the dour man stood straight and sighed. He knew how much the teen hated physical touch. He had just been so concerned. It wasn't everyday that one could stare into the headmaster's eyes and come away unscathed.
The Potter heir had wormed his way deep into his heart, and only the two of them knew how deeply it was buried. Though neither would ever utter such feelings aloud.
"You must be more careful, Harry. The headmaster may have no further use for you but that doesn't mean he won't still hurt you. It doesn't mean others won't want to hurt you."
It was said as a matter of fact, yet softly and Harry stiffly nodded, his irritation still evident. He hated being restrained. This was definitely what it felt like. He constantly had to to watch his back. He was worthless in the eyes of others, and yet he still had to watch his back. Why couldn't everyone just leave him alone?
"She should have curbed her tongue, Severus. I am no ones pet." Harry seethed, finally; green eyes flashing and fingers reflexively curling into fists.
The potions master snorted but moved through the room only to stop by a magicked cabinet. As he rummaged around inside it, he lost himself in thought.
It would stand to reason that the teen would be so against such a term. People he had considered friends, confidants, family, had all betrayed him. He had been forced to come to terms with the fact that he was nothing but a kept pet.
They had abused, tested, poked and prodded. His tormentors had mocked him, an belittled him. They of course, thought that this would cause Harry's newly acquired powers to manifest so that they could study them. They had failed to figure it out. Only Severus had. Granted it had been by accident....
Severus Snape, all around sour potions professor, glared at the thin, frail frame shackled to the wall in the dungeons beneath the ruins of the Dumbledore home. The child had been the Order's prisoner for three months now.
Each member had been given numerous amounts of time with the Gryffindor, torturing him. Trying to get the teen to use his link with Voldemort to their advantage, and attempting to figure out how Harry's new found 'scenting ' ability really worked.
It was almost like Harry was a human lie-detector. Or an Empath. They couldn't pinpoint how his powers worked though. They had exhausted their knowledge. Finally, they allowed Severus his turn. Up until now, although privy to the fate of Lily Potter's son, the stoic professor had been unable to do anything to help the Order.
His prior engagements had kept him rather busy. It was irritating being a spy for both sides. Especially when his loyalties for the one side only extended to the boy who was currently strung up like a carcass. He gazed at Harry, black eyes hard as they perused his form. Just three months, yet the scars were bold and an angry red. He was was emaciated from little to no food. His hair, normally wild and silky, hung lank and greasy about his shoulders. The boy was naked, and cold if the shaking was anything to go by.
"Well, well, Mr. Potter. Seems like your arrogance his fin-"
Surprised, Snape did just that, before recovering with a scowl.
"Listen here, you brat..."
Yet again he was interrupted when cold, empty green eyes flashed, then narrowed in his direction.
"Save it. I have felt the abuse from my relatives. From the so called Light. I have been experimented on , and will more than likely continue to fulfill that vocation after you've completed whatever task you're here to carry out. So get it done and over with. I can't stand the taste of the traitors in the air about you."
To say that Severus Snape, dungeon bat, was stunned was an understatement. He was gobsmacked. Never had he seen such cold hatred in one so young. He felt as if he had gotten a glimpse into his childhood. Seeing a miniature replica of himself.
The only difference being that Harry's tormentors were far worse than Snape's own.
Harry's attackers were adults. Aurors. Fathers. Mothers. Harry's old friends were the only children accepted. That was simply due to Ronald's jealousy, and Hermione's wish for advancement in both the Wizarding World and her magical repatóre. She constantly wanted to try out new spells she'd learned or created, on the teen.
She was particularly nasty as well. Severus had heard tell from Arthur that she was more sadistic that any well trained Death Eater when she cast at her former friend. He said that the girl would cackle and call Harry all sorts of crude names. Half blood. Whore. Guinea pig. Lab-rat. Worthless. The list went on.
Still, through it all, Harry said not a word. Held in any screams he could have let slip past his cracked and bloody lips. He held strong. Firm.
The potions master could fairly see the rage and contempt that rolled off of the child. It was a bitter cold hearted wrath that he understood all too well. An intense need to survive so that one could savor their enemies deaths as vengeance was satisfied. It had been wonderful to know that Sirius Black had been sentenced to life in Azkaban. Even better when he found out that James Potter's death had been at the Dark Lord's hands. He'd regretted Lily's involvement, but not enough to resist the reaction to crow with delight at the misfortune of the others.
So yes. He knew that all consuming want of revenge. The question now became, would he help the child, hinder him, or stay out of his way all together. It took him a minute for him to decide and with an uncharacteristic urge to be gentle, reached out his hand and lightly trailed his fingers down the boy's jawline. Harry's eyes widened in shock, he scented the kindness of the caress. The understanding. The loneliness, and the worry. Never had he felt this kind of touch, and it brought tears, unbidden to his emerald eyes. He would think it a trick if not for the fact that his abilities made it impossible. It was bitterly ironic that if not for this new anomaly with his skin, this almost 'scenting' a person's emotions through touch, he would never have known the fallacy of the people he once called friend. The Potter heir sobbed and leaned into the first kind touch he'd ever been gifted. Snape smiled softly.
" I will help you with your vengeance, Harry." his voice was silky smooth but with out any hidden malice. He meant what he said. And Harry vowed then and there that Severus Snape would be the only man...the only person he would ever trust.
After a few moments,the teen calmed. His eyes still cold, but there was a softness that hadn't been present before. The tall wizard marveled at the difference before he pulled his hand away and trailed it through his hair in a nervous gesture thought quelled long ago.
The former Gryffindor smirked, noting the slip but not commenting on it. Instead he pulled away slightly from the man as much as he could. Virtually hugging the walls.
" Thank you sir.but your close proximity is causing my senses to be over-whelmed. Forgive me."
Comprehension dawned in the Slytherin's eyes and Harry inclined his head slightly in confirmation. Severus stared in awe at every inch of Harry's body. So that's how he did it. His body acted like one big snake tongue. Scenting the air and the skin of whoever touched him.
If the dour man ventured a guess, it was harder for him to ignore the scent when it was deliberate touch.
It must have fully manifested early due to the stress of third year with Peter Pettigrew after Harry's life. In fact it wasn't too long after the brat was sent to his relatives that Dumbledore announced to the world that the Gryffindor savior had gone missing.
Later, informing his Order that in all actuality a hiccup had developed with the boy wonder and they needed to find out if the child was as Dark as he feared.
The tests and target practice had started then. It didn't appear to have any chance of letting up anytime soon either.
Finally, the potions professor bowed his head in acknowledgement of the trust being granted him. They had made a truce. Only time would tell how close they became. A scowl crossed Severus' face but Harry could tell it was teasing in nature.
"Stop calling me sir."
A glare was his reply. Harry relaxed for the first time in months and allowed himself to smile, even if it was only the slight raising of the corner of his mouth.
The head of Slytherin rolled his eyes and crossed his arms over his chest.
"As long as I'm here, I might as well teach you. Occulemency, Legillmens, and all of the Dark Arts I know, and created."
Steel resolve entered into Harry's gaze and he nodded. And from then on that was how the two spent their 'torture' time together.
-end of chapter 1-