TW: blood, injury, mention of rape/aftermath trauma of rape! Please stay safe and do not read this story if it's not for you!
It took me ages to write this because I actually care about how it turns out lmaoooo. I took a minute to read the first chapter of the old version of this and the writer in me wept at how horrible it was :D
So please, enjoy! Let me know what you think of this chapter and feel free to leave suggestions on what should happen next!
Draco Malfoy didn't know what to think of Potter's sudden change in character.
He had gone to Potter's train car intending to start their yearly feud (something that entertained him endlessly), but the unexpected tension already in the tiny space changed his mind.
Anyone with eyes could see that Potter was not doing well. He had dark circles under his eyes, his face haggard with exhaustion, and something about the way he looked at Draco with such… desperation? It was like he was begging Draco for something, or rather, for him to do nothing.
This, however, wasn't what gave him such a pause.
It was Potter's posture, how every muscle in his form was pulled taught, as if Potter wanted to promptly evacuate his own body. It was how his eyes flickered from Draco's gaze to Weasley, or rather, where they touched. Weasley was too busy glaring at Draco to notice that Potter was strung like a live wire, and the entire thing completely baffled him.
He remembered the Golden Trio being all buddy-buddy before. They seemed thick as thieves and as close as peas in a pod. So what was wrong with Potter?
Draco's eyes flicked back up to Potter's, and he was once again stunned by the emotion he found there.
So, he left him alone.
Later, he sat in his claimed spot at the Slytherin table and observed Potter again.
Potter was sitting between Weasley and Granger, picking at his food. His shoulders were hunched, his body seemed to curl so far into itself that it looked painful. He looked so forlorn amongst the rowdy Gryffindors, but no one seemed to notice a thing. And yet, it was so clear to Draco that something was wrong with Gryffindor's Golden Boy.
His gaze slid over to Granger, the know-it-all of the Trio. She was seemingly lecturing Finnegan, hands waving in what he knew to be wand movements. Once, in a large swooping movement, her arm grazed Potter's.
The reaction was immediate. Potter jumped in his seat, a hand immediately coming to rub his arm. At first, it was slow, something meant to be soothing, but eventually, his movements devolved into a harsh rubbing, as if he were scrubbing his skin of her touch.
Perhaps the touching wasn't because of a personal offense then, Draco decided. After all, Potter sat with them. He didn't seem angry, and while he seemed upset, the other two didn't seem unusually guilty.
No, the Slytherin concluded, this was a personal issue of Potter's.
Then, in Potions, Potter had an interesting reaction to the description of the potion they were to make for Snape. Draco watched as he became tense, and then as he became small under Snape's scrutiny.
This also baffled him. Draco was long used to Potter and Snape's standoffs, their raised hackles and the tension in the air as Snape baited Potter and as Potter took it, hook, line, and sinker. Now Snape was trying to tempt Potter into detention but for once, Potter seemed… afraid. Or at the very least, Potter was submitting to Snape's authority, of which Draco thought he would never see the day.
But as the day went on, Draco, dare he say it, was almost concerned.
He sees Potter several times throughout the day. When they would meet, Potter's eyes lingered on Draco, but Draco thought that when Potter stayed silent it no longer seemed like the Gryffindor was about to burst with something he wanted to say. He seemed… finished.
Acceptance lingered like a cloud around Harry when he looked at Draco, and Draco hated it.
DADA went about the way Harry imagined it would.
Umbridge was a new breed of ignorance, twittering on about Ministry policy and 'theoretical magic' as if Voldemort weren't looming over the magical world like a swirling storm, ready to strike.
"Your previous instruction in this subject has been…" she swallowed in disgust, "disturbingly uneven." The woman made her way to the podium in front of the class. "But you will be pleased to know from now on, you will be following a carefully structured, Ministry-approved course of defensive magic."
Harry's eyebrows slowly furrowed as he read more of the text, and combined with her opening speech, a sinking feeling had begun to form in his chest yet again. He tried to ignore it, tried to convince himself that the feeling wasn't there, but it was persistent, piercing through the mess and making him too aware of it. He brought his fingers to his temples and pressed on them hard enough to hurt in an attempt to think of literally anything else.
It didn't work.
A few seats away, Hermione raised her hand.
"Yes?" Umbridge called out.
Hermione looked up at her, a guarded expression on her face. "There's nothing in the text about using defensive spells," she said quietly.
Harry watched as Umbridge's mouth slowly turned up at the corners in a wicked smirk at Hermione's statement.
"Using spells?" she asked incredulously. Umbridge let out a high-pitched laugh. "Well, I can't imagine why you would need to use spells in my classroom."
Harry's sinking feeling sank deeper, to the pit of his stomach, rolling around and making him nauseous. His shoulders tensed and he clenched his jaw, trying to subdue the sick that threatened to spill out onto the stone floors. His nausea slowly transformed to anger that transformed to rage, a red hot feeling under his skin as Umbridge laid out the ministry agenda.
He didn't go through his many summers for this. He didn't endure all of those cold nights in his cupboard, all the broken bones, all of the belt whippings, the… the touching, for this. He didn't live through hunger most of his life for this. He did not fight Voldemort countless times for this. Cedric didn't die for this.
Suddenly, Harry's thoughts erupted out of his mouth like hot lava, scorching and dangerous. "How can we be ready for the war if people like you are making a joke out of the most important class we have?!"
Silence descended among the class as Harry's question lingered in the air, quickly being taken over by tension between teacher and student.
Umbridge's unsavory smile was long gone, an angry frown pulling at her haggard features. "There is no war," she said with an air of finality, of challenge. "Not now or ever. The dark wizard who plagued the wizarding world is dead and he is Not. Coming. Back."
She stared at him, and Harry knew she was waiting for him to take the bait. She wanted him to say something, she was testing him. And quite honestly, he wanted nothing more than to sink into his seat and pretend he never said anything, but...
If not him, who? Who would fight to discredit her, to account for his history and the Wizarding World's future? Hogwarts couldn't afford to accept her lies. Not at a time like this.
So, Harry locked eyes with her, seething, slowly standing up from his seat. "He is back. Voldemort," he slowly enunciated, almost enjoying the way Umbridge flinched, "is back. I fought him." His fingers had started to tremble as he talked, from the anger or the memories, he didn't know. "I have fought him for years and I will keep fighting him until he is fucking dead." The trembling spread to his vocal cords, threatening to lock them up and never let him speak again. "He killed Cedric. He killed my parents... I say when he's dead. Not the Ministry, not you, me."
Umbridge's face turned an unflattering shade of red, clearly startled. She had expected him to sit silently in the face of her challenge, but now she must have realized that Harry would not be so easily discredited.
"Detention, Potter!" she shouted at him, clearly frustrated with his response.
Harry carefully sat down again, mindful of his back, which had started to ache in all of the excitement. Already, his energy was depleting and he had the unmistakable urge to curl up into a ball and cry. He'd hoped and prayed that Umbridge wouldn't be the villain she intended to be, but the weight of another burden on Harry's mind was making itself known, crushing his ribcage and making it hard to breathe.
Slowly, he looked to where his friends were sitting and tried to determine their reactions.
Hermione frowned at Harry, hands twitching around her pencil as she bit her lip. Slowly, she looked away from him, appearing to disapprove of his outburst. Following her lead, Ron gave Harry one last apologetic glance before tearing his eyes from him and settling them on his desk.
He stared at them in astonishment, his heart breaking a little as they refused to meet his eyes. Harry swallowed down the lump forming in his throat and tried not to think about the panic rising in his chest. Everything was terrifying all the time, but at least he had usually had the support of his friends.
He wasn't sure he could honestly do anything without them.
Umbridge took a moment to compose herself as Harry sank deeper into his desk. Finally, she said, "Perhaps punishment will teach you to not spread lies. Come to my office tonight at eight for your detention, Mr. Potter."
She then dismissed the class in a sickly sweet voice as if nothing had ever been wrong.
Harry gathered his books, not bothering to even look in his friends' direction as he hastily left the room. He ducked through other students leaving their classes, rushing through the crowd as fast as he could. But as he walked through the hall, it occurred to him that he had no idea where to go.
The Gryffindor common room was out of the question, it was too crowded, and he would never get a moment of peace. Instead, he headed for the Owlery, longing for the comfort of Hedwig and the quiet. Harry hadn't seen his owl since receiving his yearly Hogwarts letter, having sent her away from the Dursley's the first chance he got.
Perhaps talking with her would help him sort his thoughts, or at least, quiet them.
Little did he know, a shadow accompanied him there.
It had been easy enough for Draco to shake off his bodyguards and follow Potter to the Owlery, and easier yet for him to stay quiet and listen. He watched as Potter sat on a fresh bale of hay in the corner, his snowy owl flying down to rest on a perch near him, happy hoots spilling from her beak as her wings flapped excitedly.
Potter laughed at her behavior, and Draco was oddly happy to hear it.
Alone with his owl, Potter's posture had relaxed and he almost looked the way he had all the years before to Draco - a cheerful Gryffindor with no idea of what lay ahead of him. Just as the thought came to him, it disappeared, watching as Potter's mouth slowly turned down at the corners into a frown. He seemingly stared at nothing for a long while before he began to speak.
"Everything's turning to shit, Hedwig." Potter held his chin in his palms, eyes scrunching shut before blearily opening again. "Voldemort killed Cedric and everybody thinks it's me, Umbridge is just ridiculous, and Snape's got us brewing a potion that could thoroughly take away the rest of my dignity." He kicked a rock, watching as it flew a few feet.
Draco perked up at the mention of Snape's potion as he wondered yet again what Potter was so afraid of. He had a feeling that it had something to do with the strange way the other boy was acting, but Draco wasn't sure what that was about either.
Potter was like a puzzle, and for some odd reason, Draco hungered to solve it.
"To top it all off, Hermione and Ron are drifting farther and farther from me!" Potter then seemed to consider his words before saying, "Well, maybe I'm drifting away from them." He sighs. "But things feel different now. I used to feel like it was us three against the world and now I feel… disconnected. Like it's just me. It feels a little unfixable and it's terrifying me."
The Gryffindor turned to face his owl, his features solemn. "I need them, Hedwig. I can't do this on my own," he seemingly admitted.
Draco's heart went out to his rival. The Slytherin had no illusions as to how much Harry Potter was going to have to give up to keep all of them safe. There was no way he could get through it on his own, but it seemed his friends had deserted him.
"Nothing's going my way, as per usual, and I have no idea what to do about it." Potter sighed, laying back and sinking into the bale of hay, and Draco watched as his hands fiddled with his wand that he'd taken out of his pocket moments earlier.
For a while, Potter just laid there in silence, his breathing a light and rhythmic sound in the quiet owlery. Draco took a moment to listen to it, letting his breathing pattern sync with it, mutely breathing with the other boy.
Suddenly, it occurred to Draco that he should leave. That he was getting too close, feeling too much sympathy for Potter and his problems. He was there to solve the puzzle, nothing more.
Draco turned to leave when he heard it.
Weeping coming from the shadows of the owlery.
Draco grimaced as he heard the crying all too clearly, too loudly for how quiet it was. Every gasp, every sob reminded him of what he'd learned of the other boy today and he hated it. He hated listening to Potter struggling to breathe under the weight of his life, choking on air and crying out the pain. The Slytherin's eyes involuntarily creased in concern as his hands twitched, almost as if he were to reach out to Potter. Why did it hurt so badly, to hear him cry? Why did it make Draco feel helpless, like an anvil was sitting on his chest and preventing him from moving?
Amidst the grief, a choked whisper reached Draco's ears.
"I just want it all to stop, Hedwig. I can't stop thinking about it, what he did to me. It's following me everywhere I go and it feels like it's my fault! It can't be my fault, it can't…" Heaving gasps echoed in the Owlery, like Potter was sucking all of the air out of the room with every breath. "I can't fucking deal. I can't deal with Umbridge, with Voldemort, or even with Snape like this! God, I just want to be dead. I'd rather be dead than wake up again feeling like this, like he's here with me no matter where I go."
Draco inhaled sharply. Potter had a suicide wish? Who was the man that hurt him, and what on earth did he do to Potter to make him so traumatized? It was so strange to see him like this, so vulnerable.
Potter cried until he fell into a fitful sleep.
Draco winced as he listened to the other boy toss and turn, but he left anyway. He had heard all he was going to hear tonight.
When Harry woke almost two hours later, he was soaked in sweat, his body trembled, and his breaths were shaky. Another nightmare, but this time with no recollection of what had frightened him so, the memories of the dream dark and murky.
He let out a heavy sigh as he slowly sat up, groggily fumbling for his wand to cast a Tempus charm.
7:22 PM. About thirty minutes before Umbridge's dreaded detention.
He groaned as he stood up from his spot on the hay bale, scrubbing tear stains off of his face. As he got up, his back twinged, and Harry grimaced as his hands quickly moved to gently touch the painful area in an attempt to soothe it. He straightened up then, more carefully this time, and after saying goodbye to Hedwig, he left the Owlery.
Harry looked sullen as he walked through the halls, something simmering in his thoughts as he started to remember the day's earlier events. Specifically, he thought about Snape's potion… and taking it in front of Snape.
The Gryffindor honestly hadn't the slightest idea of what his 'soul' had to say, but deep down Harry knew it wouldn't be good. The odds were not in his favor, and the whole experience was likely to be humiliating.
The more he thought about it though, the more he thought that perhaps Snape was the best person to hear it.
Snape hated Harry with a passion, and he seemed terrible enough to leave Harry to rot with his relatives. Perhaps his secrets could die in Snape's office, because why would Snape believe a word that came out of Harry's mouth anyway?
He had to believe that. That Snape would dismiss it, dismiss him, and that he wouldn't tell another soul, or Harry would honestly lose it.
He finally came to a stop in front of the Fat Lady's portrait, thoughts dwindling to a low hum as the exhaustion set in. Harry whispered the password in the quiet hall, and the creak of the portrait opening seemed astonishingly loud as it echoed off of the stone walls. His feet dragged over the lip of the entrance, his steps silent in the common room. Near the fireplace, two girls talked quietly on the couch as Harry passed them, their giggling becoming faint as he reached the stairs to the boy's dormitory.
He trudged up the steps, back sore and stomach heavy with dread- for his soon detention and for what felt like every day to come after. The door to the dormitory felt heavier than usual, and Harry's arms almost trembled under the weight.
The first thing he realized (and quite gratefully too) is that Ron wasn't in the dormitory. The redhead's bed was messy and unmade and textbooks were strewn across the bedcovers, some even on the floor, but there was no sign of his friend. As Harry looked around he realized that his roommates probably hadn't been in there for some time, and he sighed in relief.
He wasn't ready to face them. Harry had already gone through being deserted (the reminder of his last year making something in him ache), but this time it was different. It felt different.
Suddenly, a loud flushing sound erupted from under the restroom door.
Harry immediately tensed, reaching for the wand in his pocket as he whirled to face the bathroom door. He hoped to Merlin that it wasn't Ron. That would be just his luck…
Neville burst from the bathroom, falling over his feet. "Woah!" he cried out, catching himself on the doorframe. He looked up and met Harry's eyes. "Hullo, Harry! Don't mind me," he said with a frown, an embarrassing shade of red spreading across his face. "I've been right clumsy all day!"
Harry started to relax as Neville made his way to his own bed, his hand falling to his side. He tossed his bag on the ground with a huff, scrubbing his eyes with his now free hands, desperate to feel more awake. He knew he would need the energy for Umbridge's detention, but it just wasn't coming to him.
"How are you doing, Harry?" Neville's voice was soft and knowing, breaking through Harry's tired thoughts without startling him.
Harry stared blankly at the wall before he sat on the bed behind him, his bed, and let out a deep sigh.
Neville laughed. "Me too." The Gryffindor maneuvered himself so he was sitting cross-legged on his bed, back resting against his pillows as he got himself comfortable. "Want to talk about it?"
Harry peered at him through a half-lidded gaze for a long moment before speaking. "I'm having a pretty shite day," he admitted. "It's just one of those things where nothing goes right." He grunts, mumbling, "I seem to have quite a lot of those, though." He shed his robe, draping it across his bed frame as he got comfortable on the foot of his bed. "But I've got detention in about twenty minutes with Umbridge."
Neville looked at him oddly. "Who?"
Harry squinted at him. "Our new defense teacher? Were you not there? Well, she and I have… different views on Voldemort's return. I said something stupid about it, so now I have detention," he said glumly. "Oh, and get this," he said sardonically, "Snape has us doing a potion called 'Verba Animae', and it has us spouting out whatever our souls feel like shouting into the void! Worst of all, we have to take it in front of Snape!"
Neville swallowed, not able to stomach the thought. "S-Snape?"
Harry nodded sympathetically. "Yeah, apparently he understands 'that some of you will not like the results of this potion, and will not want them public,'" he said in his best impression of Snape's low baritone. Then he laughed a little at the absurdity of it. "I doubt he actually cares, Dumbledore is probably the only thing stopping him from putting us on a stage."
Neville felt at least some relief that the image Harry was painting wouldn't happen.
"Anyway," Harry said, voice hushed now, "I'm not really looking forward to it. It seems like it'll be pretty humiliating…" Anxiety flooded his chest as he thought about it again. What if it told Snape about it? What if…
He shook himself out of it. It would be fine.
It would be fine.
"I didn't have a great day either," Neville confessed, voice thick. "I was in the hospital wing all morning. I fell on the train when I was changing. Madame Pomphrey said I broke my wrist again. I had to swallow down that nasty Skele-gro." He rolls his eyes, scoffing. "I was in the hospital wing with a broken wrist but I know Snape made fun of me anyway. That nasty git can't say two words without insulting me."
Harry felt a bit lost on what to say. "I'm sorry, Nev."
Neville smiled, though to Harry, it felt a bit pasted-on. "It's alright. By the time the skele-gro was done all the classes were over, so I went down to the greenhouses to tend to the plants. That usually makes me feel better." If Neville thought about it too hard, he wasn't sure it helped him at all, but he refrained from saying this to Harry.
Harry gave a half-hearted smile in response. "It doesn't sound like either of us had a very good day." He pulled out his wand and cast another Tempus charm, sighing when it revealed that he should leave for his detention before he was late. "Sorry, Neville, I have to go." He gathered up his bag, throwing his robes back on haphazardly before he rushed off as fast as he could to Umbridge's office.
She was waiting for him when he pushed the door open, sitting primly at her desk in a sea of pink. As Harry entered, she straightened up, a smirk settling on her features and giving Harry a distinct feeling of doom.
"Mr. Potter!" She stood, moving to stand behind a lone desk to the side of the room. "Sit here, please!"
Harry swallowed down the sigh that wanted to escape, knowing it would just give Umbridge another chance to claim his impertinence. He moved to the desk and sat, hairs standing up on the back of his neck as Umbridge lingered behind his chair. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
Please, please go away, he thought desperately.
She finally moved, grabbing a quill and parchment from her desk and placing it in front of him. "You will be writing lines tonight, Mr. Potter," she said in her simpering tone. Umbridge leaned down to face him, once again much too close for Harry's comfort. "Write, 'I must not tell lies' one hundred times for me." She smiled, coming off more sinister than friendly. "Trust me, I'll be counting."
Harry shrank in his seat as she went back to her desk, feeling faintly sick but didn't argue. Only-
"Ma'am? You haven't given me any ink."
She didn't look up from her papers as she said, "I've given you a special quill that requires no ink, Mr. Potter. Now get to it, or I will add one hundred more lines to your punishment."
Harry blanches, looking at the quill again. It seemed like an ordinary quill. It looked the same as his own and felt the same when he held it. He twirled it between his fingers for a moment before finally bringing it down to paper.
He got through about half of the first line before the pain started.
Harry hissed through his teeth, dropping the quill as he brought his hand into view. There it was, clear as day on the back of his hand, 'I must not', red and inflamed. Startled eyes looked up to the front of the room, where Umbridge had dropped the paperwork and appeared to be waiting for him to look at her.
Her eyes lingered on the cut on his hand as the corners of her lips turned up in a smirk. "Well, Mr. Potter? Finish it."
Any hope he had about this detention suddenly vanished.
He considered saying something, anything. There was a time where this was something outrageous that could never happen to a student. However, the chances of Umbridge getting caught were slim, especially with her influence over the school and connections in the ministry. And as Harry looked at her again he realized that she wanted him to say something. She wanted to give him one hundred more lines, hell, one thousand more lines.
If Harry had learned anything at the Dursleys, it was when to shut up.
So he began again, tensing as the quill carved one of many lines into his skin. He made a small noise in his throat but pushed it down, unwilling to show Umbridge such a weakness. His hand started to tremble, making his letters shaky and bringing new pain as he accidentally cut more of his skin with the quill.
Harry missed his cupboard. He missed when things were simple, when the worst thing he had felt was the sting of Vernon's belt. He missed when he knew what to expect. Tears flooded his vision, falling silently onto the parchment.
God, it hurt. Over and over, scratching deeper and deeper until it felt like he was carving his bones with the phrase.
The rest of his detention was a blur, lingering and lasting for hours, and by the end of it, Harry just wanted to cut off his hand. He felt his eyelids droop with exhaustion, struggling to stay awake. He felt the drain of his energy, felt his magic trying to fight the quill and keep up with the glamours that he had forgotten about. The pain of the lines started to make his head fuzzy…
"That's enough, Mr. Potter." Umbridge doesn't smile this time but her eyes glint with satisfaction. "I'm sure that by now the message has sunk in."
Harry winced as he pried his fingers from the damned quill, hand having tensed to keep from dropping it during his lines. He left it and the paper on the desk, doing his best to stand. He paused, colors swimming in his vision, dizziness threatening to overcome him.
He pushed it away. He had to get out of here. He grabbed his bag with his uninjured hand and walked out of the classroom as steady as he could.
Once he was in the hall and the door was shut, Harry dropped the illusion. The Gryffindor grabbed the nearest wall, his head swimming. He imagined he lost a lot of blood in those pages… Blood. Was he bleeding? He groaned as he brought his hand into view.
His hand was red and inflamed, the message inscribed on his skin pulsing, bleeding sluggishly. For a moment, Harry considered going to the hospital wing but blearily shot it down as he remembered the state of his glamours. Madame Pomphrey could see anything with them functioning so poorly, and anything she saw, Harry had no doubt, would go straight to Dumbledore.
They couldn't know. Not about his lashings, not about his cupboard, not about… the rest of it. He could take care of it himself. It was fine.
It was fine.
It's 9:15 by the time Harry gets to the common room. It seems empty upon his arrival, his fellow students already in their dorms at that hour. Upon a closer look, he sees Neville reading on the couch. Harry stumbles further into the room, startling the other boy.
"Harry!" Neville rushes to him, book forgotten on the coffee table. "Mate, you're back! I was so worried!" He reaches forward, startled when Harry violently flinches back.
"Don't touch me! Please, don't- don't touch…" Harry stuttered wildly, arms crossing in front of him, a clear warning.
Neville hastily backed up. "Harry, it's okay! It's okay, what- what's going on?" He catches sight of Harry's mangled up hand. "Oh, God! Are you okay? Do you need the hospital wing?!"
"No!" Harry said forcefully. "No hospitals, I don't like 'em." Please believe me, please believe me, please believe me.
"Harry," Neville said slowly, "You need to go." His eyes went back down to Harry's hand. "You're seriously hurt, and Pomphrey could help you-"
"No!" Harry repeated. "I'll be fine," he said shakily. "I just need to sleep." He pushed past Neville, heading for the stairs.
"Wait!" the other boy cried. "Please wait, Harry. At least let me patch you up! It could get infected, and it must hurt terribly!"
Harry paused, shoulders tense. "Fine." He just wanted to sleep. He was so fucking tired. He could deal with his hand tomorrow. He could deal with everything tomorrow.
When they got to the dorm room, Neville rushed to his bed, pulling out a box from underneath. Harry could hear him muttering under his breath as he sifted through what looked to be a medi-kit, pulling out a potion bottle and some gauze and tape. He gathered all of it into his arms and moved it to where Harry was sitting on the end of his own bed. He grabbed the potion bottle first. "This is dittany. My Gran knows I get hurt a lot during the school year so she sent me some stuff to get through it without going to the hospital wing every five seconds," Neville explained as he grabbed a section of gauze and dunked it in the potion. "This should help with any scarring and relieve some of the pain. Can I…?" He motioned towards Harry's hand.
Harry took a deep breath. It was just Neville. Neville was safe. Neville wouldn't hurt him. "Yeah, go ahead."
Neville was gentle as he wrapped Harry's hand, but Harry winced regardless. It still hurt like a bitch, though the dittany was cool and soothing on the injury. The shivers that usually accompanied contact like this were strangely absent as Neville taped the gauze in place.
"You should tell someone," the boy said to Harry softly.
Harry sighed. "I can't Neville. She's got the ministry's permission to do whatever she wants. I just have to get through it and hope I don't earn any more detentions…"
"It can't be legal, what she's doing. This is torture, Harry!" Neville said, distressed. "You should get help. From anyone. Maybe Ron and Hermione-"
"No, Neville, you can't tell anyone!" Harry said, panicked. They wouldn't want to know. They would think I deserve it, after all I said in class. "Ron and Hermione don't need to know," he said in a hushed voice. The Gryffindor turned over to go to sleep, a clear message to Neville that the conversation was over.
Harry went to sleep almost immediately but Neville couldn't. How could he sleep when his friend so clearly needed help that he would never ask for? As he laid in bed, he wondered if he should say something to someone for the other boy. Harry would be so mad at him… but the more he thought about the situation, the more he realized he needed to.
Harry must have been so used to doing things on his own… he really would never ask for help, and Neville couldn't let him hurt like this. Not when he knew.
But who could he ask? Harry clearly didn't trust Hermione or Ron with the information, and Neville didn't doubt that there was an underlying reason for it. Harry seemed particularly upset at their mentioning, and it made Neville unsure if they would do anything to help. As for the teachers, any or all of them could be under Umbridge's thumb, whether they wanted to be or not. The headmaster himself seemed likely to believe Neville, but considering all of Harry's adventures… Professor Dumbledore had a blind spot when it came to Harry and had the habit of encouraging dangerous situations.
Who would be unafraid of her, untouched by her influence? Who would get something done about it?
An idea came to Neville, and he blanched.
I must be bloody bonkers. I can't go to him. Would he even believe me?
Neville turned into his pillow, deciding to sleep on the idea rather than think of it in too much detail, lest he be scared off of it.
I have to try.