author's note: listen,, whatever I said I was going to put in this fic, just assume I'm winging it because it's been literal years since I've touched this story and my writing interests and ships have changed. I hope that those who had issues with the story appreciate or even like the new chapter and the rest of it when I get to writing it! this isn't to say I changed it for the haters, my writing really was all over the place and I'm honestly happy with the change too!

RAPE WARNING FOR THIS CHAPTER! please, please, PLEASE do not read this story if you cannot handle reading about rape and the consequences of it. I want all of you to be happy and healthy and if this story isn't it for you I understand. Stay safe and know your limits!

much love, nammy xx


Harry Potter sat in his cupboard under the stairs, tears streaming down his fever-flushed cheeks, struggling to pull himself together after another night in the Dursley home. His uncle had done it again, had beaten him until he could hardly move, but he had long since learned to suffer it in silence. His legs were bloodied up, his thighs covered in welts from the belt. His back hurt the worst though- there were scabs reopened and new fresh wounds that he knew would get infected like the rest of them from the whip his uncle brought out with a sadistic smile. His nose was broken, and it felt like blood was oozing down his throat and choking him.

But tonight, Uncle Vernon did something he's never done before. And Merlin, it hurt, it had hurt so bad. He was so scared and felt so… wrong. It felt like all of the spiders in his cupboard were crawling on him and no matter how hard he rubbed his skin, they kept coming, like they were crawling out from under his own skin. He had endured much in his life, but not this. Hands were tight around his wrists as they held him down, bruising. Teeth clenched at the sting of his uncle's teeth biting down at the juncture of his neck and shoulders, only barely distracting Harry from the agony of the things happening below.

Harry could hear his heart beating like a jackhammer, thud thud thudding in his chest in terror. It felt like his body was splitting, his eyes screwed shut as he prayed for it to be over.

He wanted his parents. He wanted Sirius. He wanted someone to stop it.

Why hadn't anyone come to stop it?

After it was over, his Uncle shoved him back in the dusty, spider-infested cupboard like a discarded toy.

Harry knew it was his punishment. He often didn't understand the reasons behind the punishments the Dursley's gave him, but Harry didn't need them. He knew what he was being punished for. It still may not be punishment enough. At least, that's what everyone, trusted and not trusted by him alike, seem to keep telling him.

If not when he was awake, then in his dreams.

Nightmares. His mother, screaming, a green light consuming his vision. Ron, unconscious, blood sluggishly leaking from a long gash on his face. Hermione, frozen, hand seemingly outstretched in a cry for help. Ginny, so pale and so fragile, dying while Riddle laughs above her.

Harry coughed weakly, the sound wet but barely audible.

He was so tired of it all. The thought that he would have to fight the wizarding world's battle based on a predetermined prophecy made him want to sink into his cupboard and hope it swallowed him. There was so much anger, so much fury at the things that he's lost because of the Dark Lord, but with all of that fury is the numbness that has settled into the bottom of his mind, heavy and pulling him to the ground with the urge to just give up.

Harry was tired of being angry, and after a long period of four years, he was done fighting.

Fighting had only ever gotten him beatings anyway.

Of course, no one else knew about that. He knew he was denied a life that maybe Snape expected him to have, but to anyone else, Harry Potter was living that life.

In reality, his life was shit. Everyone he loves has either died or will probably die, and he's the only one who can stop it.

How is he supposed to stop Voldemort if he can't even stop his uncle?

Harry knows, in the end, that he won't be alone. His friends will fight with him, his friends will die with him. They will stand by him until that day.

But he knows that in some way, he still has no one. No one knew the secrets he kept.

And that was what Harry thought about every time he was touched, beaten, refused food, and stuffed back into the dark cupboard until it was time to head to King's Cross Station; how he had no one to save him.

Harry was beyond relieved to be back on the Hogwarts Express. He was in so much pain, his arse hurt, and his back stung, but he was leaving, and that's what mattered. Glamours hid the evidence of his summer, his secrets remaining what they were - secrets.

Harry found himself not wanting to speak. His tongue felt heavy in his mouth, his skin felt like static electricity, making him want to cower in his tattered oversized jacket until the end of time. Unfortunately, he couldn't keep his vow of silence when his friend joined his train car. Still, he managed the bare minimum of talking.

"Hey, mate! I can't believe it's been a whole summer, it's so good to see you again!" Ron exclaimed as he slapped Harry on the back, settling onto the seat next to Harry, shoulders bumping against the smaller Gryffindor's.

Harry recoiled from the contact, eyes clenching shut at the sheer amount of pain that coursed through his body from Ron's cheerful gesture, skin buzzing like a warning where their shoulders still touched.

Still, Ron didn't move.

Harry pushed through it. "Hullo, Ron," he managed, voice croaky from disuse.

It was enough. Ron created a conversation for himself, something about Quidditch and his unruly brothers at home, seemingly unbothered by Harry's lack of response.

Eventually, Harry just picked at a piece of thread stringing from his brown, ratty pants, picking, picking, picking. When that thread broke he picked at the seats, just picking, picking for something to do. He stared out the window, longing for his four poster bed, for the curtains that would shield him from all of these meaningless words filling the air and smothering him.

Ron's voice was cut off by the sharp whoosh of the train car door as it opened. Harry's head whipped around, wand clenched tight in his fingers.

Malfoy stood in the doorway, a haughty sneer already twisting his features, eyes raking the two Gryffindor's for something to taunt them with. His eyes paused on Harry's tense form, his expression suddenly turning almost mystified.

Harry twitched under the intense gaze, feeling himself begin to sweat. Why was Malfoy looking at him like that?

"Potter," Malfoy spit out his name like it was a lemon on his tongue.

"Malfoy," Harry said quietly. He didn't have the energy for this. He hoped Malfoy just kept this short and left the train car. He didn't want more empty, meaningless words filling up the cabin.

Malfoy seemed to agree with Harry's unspoken statement. "See you at school, Potter," he said finally, flashing Harry a nasty grin as he exited the compartment and disappeared down the train corridor.

Harry sighed in relief, sagging into the seat.

Ron sat back on the seat with a loud huff.

Thankfully, Harry thought, he put more distance than before between Harry and himself.

"Bloody hell, mate, I wonder what that was about! He didn't even say anything, not really," Ron mused. "What a prat," he said, nose wrinkled in disgust.

Though Harry said nothing in reply, he too wondered what Malfoy's show had been about. He was almost certain that the blonde boy had something to say, or at least had something in mind when he intruded upon their train car. All it took was one look at Harry, though, and he let it go to waste.

And what was that look? That piercing gaze that made Harry sweat, that made him feel open and exposed and like Malfoy knew too much? Could he know?

No.

No, he definitely couldn't.

Harry decided to put it out of his mind. After this summer, Malfoy was no threat to him. He was nothing in a sea of problems that Harry possessed, and he hoped that Malfoy wouldn't aim to become something bigger or even more problematic this year.

At the very least, Malfoy was not Vernon Dursley, and it put Harry at peace to remember that.

When they get off the train, Hermione is the first to greet them. "Hello, Harry! Hi, Ron!" She pulls them into a quick hug, Ron's ears going red and Harry tensing up. Thankfully, she lets them go quickly, mouth going a mile a minute as she begins to tell the boys about her summer.

Ron is an active listener, but Harry couldn't manage to think of anything past the warning bells going off in his mind, his skin burning where it was touched by his friends. Why couldn't he just get past this? His friends have hugged him before, have bumped shoulders, had touched him with no warning. They weren't the ones that…

He shakes his head, hand raising to massage his temples. Harry looks up suddenly. "Hey guys, I'm gonna go ahead and find a carriage."

Hermione and Ron quickly said their goodbyes and went back to their conversation, and Harry gladly took his exit.

He grabbed his trunk and made his way through the crowds of students, carefully avoiding shoulders and hips that threatened to bump against him on the way to the carriages. However, something stopped him.

Harry looked in wonder at the bony magical beasts harnessed to the carriages. One of the gray, leathery creatures snorted loudly and pawed at the ground, which caused dirt and dust to fill the air. The small Gryffindor cautiously came closer, bags forgotten behind him as he walked until he was only a foot away from the animal.

"Thestrals," an airy voice said behind him, startling Harry nearly out of his skin. He whipped around, eyes wide as they locked on a small girl with icy blonde hair that fell in waves over her shoulders. The first thing he noted was her rather odd radish earrings, shining in the sunlight as they dangled from her ears.

"They're rather gentle really," she said, "Just a bit different. You can only see them if you've seen death."

Harry stiffened, memories of voices suddenly clamoring in his mind, shouting, "Kill the spare!" Green lights echoed and ricocheted in his mind's eye, and Harry winced and tried to smother it all down until his head became quiet again.

The girl looked at him with strangely knowing eyes. "Sorry," she whispered.

He looked back to the thestral and shrugged. "S'alright," he said finally.

"You could take the first carriage if you want," Luna offered, her voice dreamy, almost lulling Harry to sleep, "It seemed like you wanted to be alone…"

Harry rubbed his eyes slowly, exhaustion setting in. "Thanks," he said, but he didn't move.

Luna reached out for Harry quickly, and he flinched violently when her fingertip brushed his arm. She quickly rescinded her hand, eyes wide as he profusely apologized, arms wrapping around his waist clearly indicating his discomfort.

"I'm sorry! Sorry, I just-" His eyes watered as he squeezed them shut. "I don't like-"

"It's okay!" Luna exclaimed. She looked down, eyes fixed on her shoes, and said, "I should have asked, I'm sorry." She waited for him to calm down and slowed her breathing, louder than normal so Harry could follow her example, and he did.

In, out. In, out. In… out.

"Would you like me to walk you to the front carriage?" she asked him softly.

Out of words, Harry nodded.

Luna led him to the carriage, the silence refreshing and not as tense as Harry thought it might be. When they reached it, she let him climb in and said goodbye, waving as the thestrals pulled Harry away.

Harry breathed a sigh of relief and laid his head back on the seat just as the carriage lurched forward. A quick glance behind him told him Luna had sent this one early, as the other students rushed to find a carriage.

And that's where he fell asleep, the carriage moving softly with a steady thump of the thestral's walk lulling him to darkness after many sleepless nights.

The Feast gave Harry that familiar feeling that he comes across every school year: foreboding.

The first thing that set off alarm bells was the brightly dressed, portly woman at the High Table. She had a simpering smile that was oozing with a certain coyness; and yet, Harry could plainly see that beneath it was agitation and a dark, unnamed feeling. Her clothes were a terrible mix of pink, from her buckle shoes to her frumpy, shapeless hat, and even the hanky that she raised daintily to her mouth was pink.

That wasn't entirely what raised Harry's suspicions, though.

No, it wasn't her appearance or her fake, plastered smile, but instead, it was the shrewd stare she had fixed on Harry.

He tensed, hand closing tightly around his cup as he drank, eyes locked onto hers as the woman's eyes narrowed, her simpering smile curving into a sharp frown. He put down his goblet, his mouth mirroring hers as that unpleasant feeling sank deeper into his gut.

That feeling didn't go away for the rest of the night, especially after hearing her speech. He could tell the Ministry woman would bring many hours of gloominess and uselessness to Hogwarts, and with Voldemort on the rise, Harry wasn't sure if she was good for the students at all.

After the first day of coming back, Harry was exhausted. But he knew today would be the real challenge; a two hour potion's class with the Slytherins.

He had thought about the Slytherins often this last summer. Harry reconsidered his views on them and the more he thought about it the more he thought that perhaps he had been childish in thinking that every Slytherin was evil.

After all, he thought bitterly as he opened his potions textbook, not all Gryffindors are good.

The Slytherins he knew and fought were just like him, young and impressionable. Not only that, they had dreams, hopes, and fears. They had interests and hobbies, self-deprecating thoughts, other teenage problems, and expectations to live up to.

He had thought even more, oddly enough, about Draco Malfoy. What would Harry do about him? Malfoy would undoubtedly make life harder for him, just as Harry liked to make life hard for Malfoy in the past, but where did it end? When did the cycle stop? In the grand scheme of things, should it stop?

Harry really only knew one thing: he didn't want to fight anymore.

His thoughts were interrupted by Snape's low baritone voice.

"The potion is called Verba Animae. Even Longbottom couldn't possibly mess this up."

Hermione raised her hand, her brow furrowed. "Uh... sir? Neville isn't here today. He's in the infirmary," she said tentatively.

Snape raised his eyebrow, eyes cold. "Exactly."

At his cold response, Hermione's cheeks turned several colors within seconds, hands clenched, clearly feeling foolish for having said anything.

Snape smirked, satisfaction clear in his features. "Now that we've gotten that out of the way..."

Hermione stared furiously at her desk, not daring to look up.

"The Verba Animae potion is very similar to Veriteserum, but rather than revealing an immediate truth to a question asked of you, it reveals your truth." He grimaces. "It's all rather artistic in ways that I do not care for, but the headmaster insisted it remain in the curriculum."

As Snape continued to talk about the potion, Harry felt an uneasy feeling curl deep in his stomach. This specific potion could potentially reveal things that Harry thought would be better left alone.

From the looks of some other students, they had things they'd rather keep hidden as well.

Snape suddenly paused, and Harry's eyes snapped back to the professor. Snape looked uncomfortable, almost, staring at the instructions on the board.

"I understand..." he said slowly, "that some of you will not like the results of this potion, and will not want them public. For this reason alone, each student will test their potion privately in my office with me. This is for a mark, so it is required that each of you do it. Anything you say shall remain in confidence unless it will bring harm to you or others." He turned to face the students again. "This will take longer, so each of you must make an appointment with me to test the results. We will do this throughout the next two weeks."

Snape continued on about a sign-up sheet for appointments, then eventually barked at them to get started.

Harry sighed. He turned to the page and started reading, preparing the ingredients exactly, making sure to cut the proportions evenly. After several minutes of stirring and adding ingredients, and waiting, the potion came to simmer at a nice, light blue color. With a flick of his wand the worktop became clean, and his fire out. He cast a stasis charm on the potion along with several shields, determined to have at least one potion turn out alright, even if it would probably spit out his own secrets that made him feel worse than if he were Voldemort.

Eventually, everyone had a light blue potion on their desk, capped and ready for consumption.

Snape circled the classroom like a predator stalks their prey. "Well, well, well, Potter seems to have actually made a potion correctly."

Harry looked away from Snape's cold gaze, hands clenched beneath the desk. He mentally begged Snape to go away, to leave him alone, to not bother him today. He hated feeling small under the professor's gaze and hated feeling like the center of the classes attention.

Thankfully, Snape only glowered down at him, said nothing else, and moved on, giving his usual scathing remarks to the Gryffindors and the subtle praise to the Slytherins. He then dismissed the class.

Harry quickly made his way towards the sign-up sheet in the front of the room and scribbled his name on one of the blank spaces (September 12th, he thinks), not looking at the paper long enough to read any other names, eager to be as far away from his potion's professor as soon as possible.

Unbeknownst to him, cool grey eyes watched him go, thoughtful and suspicious.