|SIYE Time:14:42 on 30th July 2021|
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Category: Alternate Universe
Warnings: Mental Abuse, Mild Language, Violence/Physical Abuse
Summary: When Harry goes missing from Privet Drive without a single personal possession, the worst is assumed by the Order of the Phoenix and the magical community of Britain at large. Upon his rescue, Ginny and the others find that everything they thought they knew from the moment Harry returned from the maze with Cedric's body in his arms must be called into question. Will Harry be able to heal from a traumatic ordeal that has left scars too deep to see?
Hitcount: Story Total: 9194; Chapter Total: 649
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I got a question about what Snape would be like around Harry following what has happened. This chapter answers that question, I think, though what he'll be like when Harry returns to Hogwarts... Anyway, this is the second-shortest chapter I've written thus far, but I'm curious to see what y'all make of it. Enjoy!
Chapter Five: Tenacity
“Your daughter is quite tenacious,” remarked Remus mildly after Ginny stormed from the kitchen.
“A trait she gets from her mother, undoubtedly,” said Albus with twinkling eyes. Molly snorted, but smiled slightly, regardless. “I cannot help but feel that her determination is going to be essential to Harry’s recovery.”
Remus sighed, thinking of the frail boy upstairs. “We still don’t know the greater part of what happened.”
“I could attempt to corner Wormtail and find out what he knows,” said Severus, but Albus shook his head.
“I cannot have you doing anything suspect at this time, Severus,” he said. “We need the intel only you can provide.”
Severus nodded. “As you wish, headmaster.”
“That leaves us with getting Harry to talk,” said Remus. “He's been using the bare minimum of words to express anything.”
“Legilimency?” suggested Severus.
“No,” said Albus. “Voldemort has undoubtedly used it on Harry enough that he might not react well to another daring to enter his mind.”
Remus nodded in agreement. Then a thought occurred to him. “Ginny,” he said. “Tell me, Molly, how much did she speak of the diary after her first year?”
Molly sighed and sat down at the table. “As little as possible,” she said. “Going to Egypt was a much-needed escape for all of us, but it seemed to do her a world of good, being in a different country and surrounded by her family. She’s got a special relationship with Bill, and she – well, I think she spoke the most to him.”
“Harry’s got something special with Sirius,” mused Remus. “It doesn’t take a genius to see that. And like it or not, of all of us, he and Ginny can relate to whatever he’s been through the best.”
Molly rubbed at her face wearily. “My little girl,” she sighed. “This is… Goodness, this isn’t the kind of thing either of them should understand.”
“But it is the reality we face, nevertheless,” said Remus.
There was a moment of silence.
“I would like to observe Potter,” said Severus at length. “The potion he was subjected to is such that I would prefer to see for myself what impact it may have had on both his psyche and body. As I said, the potion was still in experimental stages and had not been tested for prolonged exposure.”
Albus nodded, but Remus hesitated. “I don’t know how Harry will react to you,” he said. “He wasn’t comfortable with Poppy.”
Poppy nodded. “He wouldn’t allow me to apply dittany to the cuts and abrasions on his skin. Miss Weasley ended up being the one to assist Mr. Black.”
“He has not reacted well to you, Molly, or myself, but he has been fine with Remus, Sirius, and Miss Weasley,” said Albus thoughtfully. “What do we have in common that they do not?”
No one said anything for some time. Remus couldn’t fathom what it was that made himself, Sirius, or even Ginny different from the others. He hoped with time they might identify the difference and help Harry with the necessary healing to overcome it.
“Let me go speak with Harry and Sirius before you come up, Severus,” he finally spoke. “Given that we don’t know what it is that makes Harry hesitant around some of us but not others, the last thing I would wish to do is catch him off guard.”
Severus gazed at him for a moment before nodding, and Remus headed up the stairs.
He was temporarily waylaid by Hermione who wanted to see if she could come upstairs, but he gently put her off. “Harry seems to have been highly secluded during his time in captivity. I don’t want to overwhelm him.”
Hermione looked disappointed, but nodded. “Tell him that Hedwig showed up a few minutes ago. She looks… well, I’m not sure she’s been eating well for the last two weeks she’s been missing, but Ron and I are looking after her.”
Remus nodded and continued up the stairs to Sirius’s room. He entered to find Harry asleep with Sirius snuggled up to him as Padfoot, and his hand clasped in Ginny’s.
“Hello, sir,” said Ginny quietly. “Is Mum still upset with me?”
Remus smiled sadly as he Conjured another chair and placed it next to Ginny. “I don’t believe she was ever really upset with you to begin with,” he said. “You are her youngest child, and you have endured horrors that few can say they faced and came out the other side with the ability to thrive as you have. Regardless, your experiences your first year changed you, and I don’t know that Molly has ever fully come to terms with that. Being faced with Harry’s trauma paired with her own guilt has made it difficult for her to fully accept everything that is going on.”
Ginny nodded and stared at Harry. “He said I’m real,” she whispered.
Remus frowned, but nodded. “He said the same to both myself and Sirius,” he told her. “Something about it… it makes me rather hesitant to bring any of your brothers or even Hermione up here.”
It was Ginny’s turn to frown now, but she said nothing. Sirius slowly raised his head and sniffed the air.
Then he growled.
Remus was confused for a moment before he heard footsteps on the stairs. Inwardly cursing, Remus straightened and headed for the door, opening it to see Severus approaching. “I haven’t spoken to them yet,” he said. “Please wait here.”
“You’ve had ample time,” said Severus evenly. “It is of the utmost importance that I ascertain the boy’s health.”
“At least let me warn him first!” snapped Remus before he shut the door and turned to face the room.
Harry was awake again and looking at Remus in confusion. “Professor Snape wishes to do his own diagnostic spells, Harry,” he sighed, running a hand through his hair. “He says the potion they gave you was never tested for prolonged exposure, so he wants to make sure there was no lasting damage outside of the stomach ulcers Madam Pomfrey discovered.”
Sirius growled again and Ginny frowned. “Is that really necessary?” she asked.
“Severus seems to believe so,” said Remus. “Harry, I think we ought to let him check you over. I promise I won’t let him do anything that could harm you.”
Harry slowly pushed himself upright and took his glasses when Ginny offered them, shoving them on with trembling hands to better look at Remus. “Did he know?” he asked softly.
Remus shook his head. “No one told him they even had his research,” he said. “I swear to you, he had no idea anyone was using it.”
Harry nodded a bit, burying a hand in Sirius’s fur and reaching for Ginny again. “Okay,” he sighed as Ginny grasped his hand once more. “Stay?”
“None of us is going anywhere,” Remus assured him before opening the door and allowing Severus to enter. He started to walk in, but Remus halted him. “You were friends with Lily once,” he whispered to him. “Remember that while you’re in here.”
Severus shot him a look of surprise before nodding and stepping past Remus. “I have been told you were repeatedly exposed to a potion I was developing before the Dark Lord’s fall.”
Harry nodded, gaze averted, and Remus noticed his grip on Ginny’s hand tighten. “I am not here to harm you, Mr. Potter,” said Severus. “I am here to ascertain whether or not there is any lasting damage besides the stomach ulcers Madam Pomfrey detected.”
Harry nodded, tensed, and then cried out in pain, both hands flying to his forehead as he slammed his eyes shut. “No! Get out!”
Ginny startled to her feet and knocked over her chair as Sirius immediately transformed back to human and gripped Harry by the shoulders. Remus pushed past Severus to sit on the bed beside him. “Harry –”
“Stop looking,” whispered Harry in anguish. “Please, stop…”
Remus stared for a moment before everything from the previous night filled his mind and it finally clicked. “Voldemort is using that connection you were talking about,” he said to Sirius. “You told me about how Harry’s scar hurt his first year, and the dreams where he saw what he was doing… but it’s in reverse. He’s in his head. That’s what he meant last night. Voldemort is seeing what Harry sees, hearing what he hears. And it’s happening right now.”
He waved for Severus to back away, but was surprised when Ginny pushed past him and grasped Harry’s face in her hands. “Harry,” she said sharply, “look at me.”
Harry shook his head violently, almost dislodging Ginny’s hands. “Can’t look, can’t see…”
“This place is under the Fidelius Charm,” Sirius told him firmly.
“Exactly,” said Ginny. “Voldemort can’t find you here, he can’t hurt you anymore!”
Harry shook his head again, gritting his teeth together, and Ginny looked round at Remus. “You said it’s some kind of connection. Can it be cut off somehow?”
“I don’t even know how it exists,” said Remus helplessly, “let alone how to stop it.”
“Close a door on it, then,” said Sirius. “It’s Occlumency basics, isn’t it?” Remus wasn’t sure this was truly the case, but it seemed Sirius was going to run with it regardless of what he said. “Harry, imagine that there’s a doorway between you and Voldemort, and close it.”
Harry shook his head again. “Yes,” insisted Ginny, immediately latching onto Sirius’s idea. “A big, heavy door you can bolt shut.”
Harry’s face screwed up in concentration, breathing haggard and body tense, and then he – he –
Remus reared back when Harry began to laugh, but it was nothing like the laughter he’d heard a year ago. It was cold, wild, triumphant in its continued state, and Ginny was white as a sheet, shaking her head and fingers loosening on his cheeks.
“Harry!” Sirius tried calling out to him, shaking his shoulders, but the laughter wouldn’t stop, and still Harry kept his eyes tightly shut.
“Harry,” Remus tried now, but to no avail. He didn’t know what to do, meeting Sirius’s eyes hopelessly.
Ginny suddenly seemed to gather herself together, because the words which came out of her mouth were sharp with anger and determination:
“Shut up, Tom!”
The laughter abruptly cut off, and a moment later, Harry moaned as Ginny tightened her hold on his face once more.
“You can do it, Harry,” murmured Sirius, looking thoroughly unnerved. “Imagine the door shutting, c’mon now…”
But Harry shook his head. “Too – strong –”
“No,” said Sirius, “he isn’t. You can shut him out, I know you can!”
Harry shook his head again, and it seemed Ginny had reached her limit. “You said I’m real, Harry,” she said in the sharpest voice Remus had ever heard from her. “Well so are you! You’re real and he doesn’t get to take that from you, not ever. Now shut the damn door!”
Harry tensed up even more, breath catching, and for several tense moments Remus hardly dared breathe. The boy suddenly slumped forward without warning, Sirius’s hold on his shoulders the only thing keeping him upright. Ginny found Harry’s hands as Harry gasped for air.
“Real,” he whispered raggedly, fingers grasping weakly at Ginny’s hands. “This is real.”
“That’s right,” said Remus softly as Sirius pulled Harry tightly against his side, Harry’s head now supported on his shoulder. “You’re here with us and you’re safe. Voldemort doesn’t get to take that away from you.”
Harry nodded against Sirius’s shoulder, eyes at half-mast. “Safe?” he asked.
“Yes,” said Ginny, voice catching. “You’re safe, Harry.”
Remus gently placed his hand on Harry’s head. “He’s never going to take you away from us again,” he promised.
Harry nodded, and then a new wave of coughing suddenly overwhelmed his thin frame. Remus dropped his hand to his shoulder and waited for the fit to ease as he hacked against Sirius’s chest.
Finally, Harry took a few wheezing breaths, and Sirius sighed as he looked at Severus. “Does this have to be right now?” he asked.
“I’m afraid I must insist, Black,” said Severus quietly. “The sooner we know the full effects the potion had on his body, the sooner it can be treated in facilitating his healing. That cough in particular is troubling.”
Harry was shaking in Sirius’s hold, but his expression was set. “Do it,” he whispered.
Ginny and Remus both moved out of the way to let Severus do his work. He settled in the chair Ginny had set back upright and raised his wand. Harry flinched.
Remus was surprised to see Severus immediately lower his wand, looking quietly at the thin boy. “I am going to cast a spell that allows me to detect any abnormalities in your nervous system, Potter.”
Harry was still tense, but held himself still as Severus raised his wand once more. Severus worked methodically, telling Harry everything he was doing before he did it.
It was several tense minutes later when Severus at last set his wand aside. “The worst of the malnourishment was within the last two weeks,” he told the occupants of the room, “but Potter was clearly starting to lose both weight and muscle mass before then due to a sudden growth spurt paired with too few nutrients in his system.” He turned his attention to Harry. “How often were you fed at first?”
Harry swallowed. “Morning ‘n night,” he whispered.
“And the last couple of weeks?”
Harry looked away and shrugged against Sirius. “When they ‘membered,” he mumbled into his godfather’s collarbone.
Remus closed his eyes for a moment.
Severus nodded. “There appears to be no lasting damage from the potion outside of the stomach ulcers. I shall discuss my findings with Madam Pomfrey and have her write down her recommendations regarding the necessary potions regimen for Potter’s recovery. I will return shortly.”
He rose and headed for the door, pausing a moment to look back. “You will overcome this, Mr. Potter,” he said. “Between the potions and the support in this room alone, I have no doubt you will soon be well on your way to irritating my last nerve once more.”
Harry snorted softly, but said nothing, and Severus left, shutting the door with a quiet click.
After a short pause, Remus remembered Hermione’s words. “Hedwig turned up a bit ago,” he said.
“How is she?” asked Ginny. She glanced at Harry. “She’s been missing since – well, since everything at Privet Drive.”
Harry stared at her and then at Remus. “Not dead?” he croaked.
“No,” said Remus. “Hermione says she’s not at her best, but she and Ron are doing what they can for her.”
Harry nodded. “Thought he… killed her,” he admitted.
“Did he say he had?” Sirius asked him. Harry shook his head.
“Tired,” he said softly.
Remus sighed. There was so much he wanted to ask Harry, but his health came first and foremost. “All right,” he said. “We’ll let you rest, now.”
Within minutes, Harry had drifted off once more. “Do you suppose they didn’t let him sleep much?” Ginny asked quietly, her small hand clasped within Harry’s again.
“It’s possible,” sighed Sirius. “Add in the starvation, and his body is doing all it can to conserve energy. Food, rest, and the potions will help to change that.”
Remus nodded. “We’ll be there to help him,” he said. “Well, mostly you two when the next full moon hits in a few days.”
Sirius sighed and nodded. “He’s got us,” he said. “Hopefully there are others around here he’ll respond to as he continues to get better.” He excused himself to the bathroom, leaving Remus and Ginny with Harry.
“Hermione wanted to come up and visit,” said Remus at length. “I put her off for now.”
Ginny sighed. “She’s probably going to be upset with how much time I’ve spent here,” she said. “He’s her friend, not mine.”
“But Harry told you that you’re real,” Remus pointed out. “That seems to mean a great deal to him right now, and we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss it.”
Ginny nodded quietly, a thoughtful expression on her face. “I wonder what it is that makes us real.”
Remus sighed and shook his head. “Unless Harry tells us or we figure out a pattern, I don’t know that we’ll ever figure it out.”
“I’ll figure it out,” said Ginny with such certainty in her voice that Remus couldn’t help but believe her. She was, after all, quite tenacious when she needed to be.
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