Snape strode into the hallway while Harry was contemplating how long it would take before he would break like the Longbottoms. It would surely happen eventually. He'd end up in Saint Mungo's, and everyone would say, "What a fool Dumbledore had been to rest everything on the shoulders of Harry Potter."
"Why do you have such an expression on your face?" Snape asked as he spelled food on the table, snapping Harry out of his depressive reverie.
"I feel like Syphilis," he said as he turned his head to look at Snape, remaining curled up on the far corner of his bed with his knees beneath his chin. His stomach was too miserable for him to even think about eating right now.
Snape’s eyebrows almost leapt off his face. "Excuse me?"
"That guy who had to push a stone up a mountain every day only to have it roll back down after it got to the top," Harry reminded him.
"Yeah, him." Harry nodded morosely. "He had to do it and every time he knew it was going to be painful, but he had no choice." He untucked his legs. "It feels the same when I have to go get tortured. I know what's coming, but there is nothing I can do to stop it." The admission only made him feel worse and he hung his head. He heard Snape leave and that bothered him although he couldn't explain why. He hadn't expected Snape to comfort him after all....
Snape strode back in and stepped through the bars. He thrust something into Harry’s hands. A book. Along the spine it read "Albert Camus: Collected Works." It seemed to be about as old as his myth book. Harry was getting sick of books.
"I don’t want-" Harry began when Snape cut him off. "There is an essay in here about that myth. Read it." Snape left.
Harry sighed, but opened the book. It wasn't like he had anything better to do.
Snape returned shortly after Harry finished. Harry had thrown the book at the wall and didn’t feel any better than before, although now anger overrode his depression. "I don't get it!" he complained. "He used so many words I didn't understand and said that Sisyphus should be happy! How can he be happy about being tortured? He's mad! I'm never going to be happy about being hurt!" How could Snape ever think he would even be fine with torture?
Snape stepped into the cell and calmly picked up the book from the floor. He smoothed out the cover as he spoke. "You've misunderstood-"
"Yeah, yeah," Harry cut him off angrily. "I'm stupid. I know. Now you are going to tell me how stupid I am and how my dad was stupid, my mum was stupid, my whole family was stupid. And you hated-"
"Your mother was not stupid." Snape spoke softly, almost so quietly that Harry didn't hear.
"What?" Harry blinked.
Snape stared at the book in his hands. "Your mother was a highly intelligent and gifted witch. It was she who nurtured my love of the classics. I was certainly never exposed to them at home or at school."
Harry stared at Snape, completely blown away. Snape hated Harry's parents! He was always complaining about how much Harry was like James. And Snape called Lily ‘Mudblood’! There had been no love lost between them in the memory Harry had seen. Harry suspected Snape was lying, but why he would lie about that Harry couldn't say.
Snape sat down in the chair on the other end of the table. "In fact," he continued, "I've come to believe that Hogwarts is in desperate need of courses that are chiefly concerned with the classics and logic. Wizards are taught to do, but not to think."
"’Most wizards don't have an ounce of logic.’" Harry quoted. When he saw Snape's eyebrows move in a quizzical expression he clarified, "That's what Hermione said when we got to your logic puzzle with the potions while trying to save the Stone. She said that most wizards would have been unable to get past it because they don't know that kind of stuff."
"Miss Granger was correct." Snape nodded. "Rhetoric and action have always held far more sway in the wizarding world than reason. Compared to the Muggles, there is frightening little interest in critical thinking and scientific exploration in our world. What is magic? How does it work? What causes people to be born with the ability to use it? It is obviously tied to genetics, but other than that, no one knows. The reason there are no wizarding universities is because very few wizards care to think about these issues, much less try to solve them. Creating potions and spells is rather easy - I made several of both during my years at Hogwarts through a simple knowledge of the fundamentals of magic and application of logic. Yet, very few wizards ever use anything beyond what they are taught in school, which isn't much and has not changed for hundreds of years."
Snape continued, "I am told that the Muggles change their science books every five years to keep up with discoveries and that some books are out of date the minute they go to press. The Muggle world is full of creativity and a desire to push the current bounds of knowledge out beyond their limits, yet our world clings to tradition. The potions book you used last year was fifty years old, yet still current because no real advancements have been made in potions for the last hundred years or so."
Snape spread his fingers out on the table. Harry was so fascinated by his speech that he did not interrupt. "I think that the student populace is purposefully kept in the dark on these issues so that they may be controlled. Knowledge is power, after all, and an uneducated population is much easier to manipulate. The Ministry and those in charge fear educating students on logic and independent thought because Muggle-raised wizards who do not lose this thirst for knowledge can become the most powerful of our kind."
Harry wondered aloud, "Is that why Voldemort was able to take over?"
"Yes," Snape confirmed, "and why he will never be destroyed using conventional methods." He stood. "Now, we have work to do."
Harry got to his feet and allowed Snape to take him to the lab. This time, he was given beautiful purple flowers.
"Solanum wallacei or Catalina nightshade," Snape lectured, "is only found on the islands off the California coast. They are very rare and very expensive." He put a pair of tweezers down by Harry. "You will pluck the petals, placing one in each jar. Try to remove each petal fully intact and do not put torn ones in the jars."
Harry grumbled to himself, but did as he was told. It was better than being locked in his cell and forced to read. He had to bend close to the table to be able to see what he was working on clearly. He was so engrossed in his task, trying to pull off each petal perfectly that he almost didn’t hear the footsteps behind him and when he recognized the clomp of a boot from a few steps behind him, he swiveled around to see Lucius. Harry quickly turned back to his work, his body aching as he remembered how the Death Eater had tortured him. Voldemort wasn't here, was he?
"What is he doing here?" Malfoy sneered. "And you've given him clothes?"
Calmly, Snape continued stirring his potion. "I decided to put him to work. I observe him the entire time he is in here and he is never allowed to touch anything of importance."
"The Dark Lord will hear of this, Severus," Malfoy told Snape in an ominous tone. He sounded a bit gleeful, as if tattling on Snape would give him no greater pleasure.
Snape did not pause in his stirring, seemingly nonchalant about the whole affair. "Are you threatening me, Lucius?" he asked quietly. Harry knew from experience that Snape was far more dangerous when his voice became soft and silky like that.
"No, merely informing. However, I would not be surprised if he deigns to give the boy to a more worthy master." Malfoy ran his finger down Harry's spine. Harry jumped and moved as far away from him as he could. Stiff fingers grabbed Harry’s neck, squeezing lightly. Harry froze, his heart slamming in his chest. With perverse almost-affection to his tone, Malfoy purred, "I look forward to seeing you again, boy." He stroked Harry’s left cheek with one gloved finger. "I have something special planned for you."
Harry was about to attack him when Snape spoke in a cool voice. "If you are finished, Lucius, I'll have to ask you to leave."
Malfoy's robes swirled around him as he marched out of the lab. Harry made sure he was gone, then attacked a flower as he tried to force thoughts of Malfoy from his mind. Anger burnt up in him, swiftly erupting to the surface and overriding the fear he had felt moments before. Malfoy acted as if Harry existed just to be used by him. Harry would show him differently. He'd wipe that smirk right off his face. Although he had no idea how he would, he promised himself that he’d take his revenge on Malfoy.
When Harry had placed a petal in every jar, Snape returned him to his cell. Harry took measured steps and memorised the count of each room so that he could try to estimate distances once he was returned to his cell. He would escape from this prison, even if he had to do it entirely on his own.
Snape removed the blindfold and chains once Harry had stepped through the bars, leaving shortly after. Harry noticed his Camus book on the table and picked it up. He reread it, but he still didn't understand what the author was getting at. He couldn't imagine Sisyphus being happy. When Snape came by to give Harry dinner, Harry asked him a question that had been burning at him all day.
"So what was he saying?" He sat up on his bed.
"Malfoy?" asked Snape in confusion.
"Camus." Harry at waved the book. "I reread it and I still don’t understand it."
"Ah." Snape summoned food and then sat in the other chair. "Camus believed very strongly in choice just as Victor Hugo did. You will remember from The Hunchback that Frollo felt as though he were trapped by fate and helpless to do anything but what was predestined for him."
"Yeah." Harry approached and took his chair as he looked over his meal. It was the thick chicken stew over rice.
"He was wrong and his failure to see himself as an active participant in his own destiny resulted in his tragic end," Snape explained. "Camus believed that individuals are always free to choose."
"How can Sisyphus be free? He was condemned to forever push the rock."
"Think of it like death, Potter. We must all die eventually, and because of this, Camus believed that ultimately, everything we do is futile. He saw Sisyphus’ situation as a metaphor for life. We cannot choose to avoid death but we can choose how we live our lives. Sisyphus chose to accept his fate."
Harry frowned. He didn't see how forever pushing a rock up a mountain could be compared to life in general. Yeah, he felt that way now, but most people weren't stuck in prisons, waiting to be tortured by the individuals responsible for the deaths of their friends and loved ones. Life before this had been rather good, even with all that he had been through.
"Most individuals would imagine that the worst time for Sisyphus is when he descends the mountain. As you said, he is in full awareness of what is in store for him, and is powerless to stop it unless he commits suicide. He has no hope nor holds any faith that a higher power will rescue him. He has no illusions, just a recognition of what is to come. Camus argues that is precisely why Sisyphus is happy. When he can accept his fate for what it is, only then will he be able to rise above it. What's more, Camus believes that we must accept that Sisyphus is happy in order for happiness to be real."
Harry blinked. "Why?"
"Camus believed that hope and faith were methods of avoidance and therefore illusions. If happiness exists only when we depart from reality, then it is a form of denial and no one can be said to be truly happy. If Sisyphus can be happy based on his situation and not on the avoidance of it - if he can be happy knowing full well that he has no escape from his pain and suffering, then genuine happiness is possible for all of us."
Harry chewed that over. "I don't agree with him, but I think I see what he's saying now."
Snape stood up. "I differ from Camus on many points but you must admit that it makes Sisyphus' story less depressing." He left.
Harry finished his meal and lay on the bed thinking of Sisyphus and Camus. Hope was what he clung to; hope was what kept him alive and fighting. He couldn't imagine facing his current situation without hope for release from it or faith in his friends. If he didn't believe that he'd find a way out of this prison, then he would've given up long ago. How could a person live without any hope for better things to come? Especially a person like Sisyphus, who had been forced into a torture that would probably break anyone if given enough time.
Was Snape trying to make Harry give up? It was such an insidious way to do it but Snape was devious enough to attempt such a ploy. He was obviously trying to lull Harry into a false sense of security. Harry wasn't going to fall for it. He refused to give up on his friends and to accept his current situation as the status quo. He would cling tightly to his hope for release and do everything in his power to make sure he escaped and returned to the task Dumbledore had entrusted to him. Dumbledore wouldn't have given any tasks to Harry that couldn't be accomplished.
Feeling confident in his ability to overcome Snape's mind games, Harry read his myth book until he fell asleep.
"Potter!" barked Snape. "Strip, now!"
Harry sat up wondering what the hell had crawled up Snape's arse. He guessed it was time to be tortured, but there was no need for Snape to be an absolute git.
Snape bound Harry's hands as soon he'd undressed himself, and then marched him up to the throne room. Harry stumbled after him in a state of sleep. As soon as his foot hit the cool marble of the throne room floor, his brain woke up and he glanced at the dais to see Voldemort, Lucius, and Avery were already there. Harry sank to his knees in the middle of the room before Snape cast the spell on him so that Snape's magic wouldn't cause his legs to bang against the floor. Snape rarely fed him on nights he was to be tortured. Based on how poorly rested he felt, he suspected he'd only been sleeping a short while before he was roused. This visit was probably as unexpected to Snape as it was to him.
"Severus." Voldemort's voice filled the room. "Lucius tells me that you treat the slave as a pet and allow him in your lab."
Snape fell to his knees in front of his master. "I allowed him in my lab, my Lord. I decided to work the slave rather than let him sleep all day."
"Without asking me?" Voldemort hissed, "Crucio!" Snape fell to the floor in pain.
While Harry thought Snape did deserved to be Crucio’d, seeing him under the spell made his body ache as he remembered how it had been done to him. He turned away and let his gaze drift over the faces of the other Death Eaters. Malfoy had a triumphant look on his pale face as he eagerly watched Snape writhe. Avery stared directly at Harry with an expression on his face Harry had never seen before but didn't like. Harry suddenly realised then that he would be far more protected with Snape than with any other Death Eater. Snape's position as his guard was tenuous, and he could be given to any other Death Eater at any moment.
He made his decision the same way he made all the important ones: on instinct. He threw himself on the ground in front of Voldemort and begged, "Please! I didn't want to, but he made me!" Voldemort stopped torturing Snape and all the Death Eaters turned their heads to stare at Harry. He could feel Snape's eyes drilling into his back, but he played his part. "Please, don't hurt me," he begged as meekly as he could. "He forced me to go there and help him make poisons to kill my friends!" Quidditch was often thought to be Harry's greatest talent, but it was actually lying on the spot.
"Crucio!" Voldemort cast and Harry screamed and writhed on the floor. It was stronger than Bellatrix’s, but Voldemort cut it off after a short while. Harry focused on Malfoy’s earlier visit and the fear he had felt then. Voldemort was speaking but Harry was too lost in his thoughts, trying to organise them, to hear what he was saying. Suddenly, Voldemort pushed into his mind and he focused entirely on his memory of being in the lab earlier that day. He tightly locked away the other memories of the lab and Snape's conversations with him, and filled his mind with the fear and anger Malfoy had instilled in him earlier. Voldemort retreated and Harry collapsed on the floor, panting.
"You have nothing to fear, Lucius." Voldemort assured his minion. "Today was the first time the slave visited the lab and he certainly did not enjoy the visit."
Harry couldn't believe his ears. He did it! He had successfully blocked Voldemort! He wanted to scream out his accomplishment, but he forced himself to maintain a fearful expression.
"Still," Voldemort was speaking to Snape, "You should have known better than to make such a change without informing me first."
"Yes, my Lord." Snape's head was nearly on the floor. "I'm sorry, my Lord."
"Avery, take the slave away. Crucio!" Voldemort cast on Snape. Avery grabbed Harry by his chain and yanked him out of the room while Snape writhed on the floor behind him, still refusing to scream despite the intense amount of pain in which he must have been.
Harry allowed Avery to drag him from the room. His first success at Occlumency! When they reached Harry's cell, Harry tried to step through the bars, but Avery pushed the chain into the wall above Harry's head, pinning him against the wall. Avery pressed his body into the left side of Harry's and ran his right hand up Harry's torso slowly. The touch of his hand made Harry's skin crawl.
"I hope I get you next, boy," he hissed in Harry's ear as Harry struggled, trying to push him away. Avery grabbed his right nipple and twisted it painfully. "I'm going to fuck you," he continued, squeezing the small nub while Harry bit his lip to keep from crying out. "Have you ever taken a cock before?" He released Harry’s nipple and his hand inched slowly down towards Harry's groin. "I'll teach you to suck my cock just the way I like it."
Harry screamed, "Get off of me!" and flailed wildly. Avery laughed but threw him into his cell. Harry scrambled to get as far away from Avery as possible, moving to the far corner of his bed. He grabbed up his sheet and covered himself.
Avery left with a wave and Harry shook with anger and disgust. If Avery tried to touch him again he'd bite his dick off! They wouldn't let Avery rape him, would they?
Harry stayed up waiting for Snape but after several hours, Harry finally fell into a fitful sleep, not knowing who he'd wake up to find as his guard.
Snape woke Harry when he walked into the hallway.
"Good morning." Harry smiled and sat up, quite proud of himself for what he had managed to do the night before. Snape apparently wasn’t.
"You little fool," Snape hissed as he stormed over and yanked Harry out of bed by his upper arm.
Harry blinked in surprise as Snape asked, "Do you have a brain in that thick skull of yours, worthless child? Of all the wizards who act without thinking you have to be the worst!"
"What the hell?" cried Harry, his good mood evaporating as he pushed away from Snape. "He would've tortured you even more if I hadn't intervened!"
"You are a terrible Occlumens!" yelled Snape.
"I wasn't last night!"
Snape grabbed him again and shook him hard. "Only because you got lucky, you stupid boy! If he had cast while torturing you he would've known in an instant!"
"I kept him from knowing the truth!"
"Try to stop me from viewing last night!"
Snape thrust his mind and Harry's thoughts were too scattered to keep him out. He wasn't prepared for it. He finally managed to focus on Bellatrix's torture rather than the previous evening but Snape had already seen parts of last night. How much Harry didn’t know, his mind had been completely unprepared.
"Fuck," Harry gasped as he caught his breath. He had ended up on the ground on his hands and knees. Fuck, he couldn't do it under stress. He couldn't do it when he didn't have time to prepare.
"That's what I thought. You imbecilic-"
"Then train me!" Harry pleaded. "I can learn!"
Snape stepped away from him and tapped the table with his wand. "I doubt it, Potter." His voice dripped with scorn. "Even if you trained to shield your mind every single time you felt pain or were in an emotionally charged situation, you still wouldn’t learn." He swiftly headed out of the cell.
Harry flew at him in anger, but Snape had already passed through the bars and Harry could do nothing against him. "I'll show you, you bastard!"
Harry trudged over to his seat. He ate without thinking of his food. He'd learn to be an Occlumens so good he'd be able to block Voldemort complete. Snape didn't want Harry to learn Occlumency, which is why he had purposely sabotaged the lessons during Harry’s fifth year. He was trying to prevent Harry from learning it now, which Harry desperately needed to do, especially since Voldemort was employing Occlumency against Harry on a full time basis now.
After he ate, Harry was feeling restless, so he exercised until he couldn't move anymore. He lay on the floor of his cell and thought of his friends. If Hermione was held prisoner by Snape, she'd read his entire library. She would probably request a parchment and quill to take notes.
Harry sat up. He hadn't given much thought to the particulars of his situation in a while. Why was he being kept prisoner instead of killed? Why did they only hurt him when Voldemort was there? Why didn't his scar hurt anymore? Was it because Voldemort was using Occlumency? Harry was a prisoner and couldn't stop him from doing anything, so why would he feel the need to employ Occlumency? Why was Snape nicer to him than the others? He was turning these questions over in his head when Snape showed up.
"You need a bath."
"Yeah." Harry got to his feet. "Why hasn’t Voldemort killed me?"
"If you are smart you will figure it out on your own," replied Snape in his annoying way.
"I'm stupid, okay," said Harry irritably as he walked down the hallway. “So tell me.”
Snape tsked at him as he spelled the taps open. "You have all the evidence available to you to figure it out on your own."
Harry climbed into the tub. "Does it have anything to do with why he only hurts me when he's around?"
Harry started cleaning himself as he thought about that. "Is it tied to the prophecy?"
"We are not playing twenty questions, Potter."
Harry thought that meant he was close. Time to switch targets. "Why did you join the Death Eaters?"
"Question time is over, Potter."
"It just seems strange that anyone would want to join a group of people who called themselves by that name unless they never pretended to be anything other than bad guys."
"We were originally called the Knights of Walpurgis."
"What does that mean?"
"Back to your cell," commanded Snape. Harry climbed out of the tub and dried himself off. He put on his bottoms and walked back to his prison. Snape followed him and spelled food on the table.
"Voldemort still formed them though, right? He didn't take over a group that was already there, did he?"
"Don't make me lock you in the cupboard again." Snape warned as he left.
Harry ate his pork chops and applesauce while he read about Hermaphroditus. The mental picture of bathing in a natural pool while an aggressive girl tried to force him into sex reminded him of the dream he’d had with Ginny. There was a considerable tent in his bottoms by the time he finished and as soon as he ate the last bit of his meal, he headed over to his bed.
He undid his drawstring and wiggled his way out of his bottoms. Tossing them to the side he gazed upon his cock, which was pointing proudly up towards his face. He unsheathed the head with the fingers of his right hand, pulling down the foreskin to reveal the smooth, pink skin. Wrapping his right hand around his twitching length, he teased the sensitive glans. He imagined that Ginny was here and touching him. She'd push him back on the bed and curl her fingers around his prick. The thought of her being so forward always got him achingly hard and it wasn't long before his fingers were coated with enough precum for him to grip his shaft in his left hand and slowly fist himself.
He rarely masturbated with his left hand and every time he did, it was almost like another hand held his cock. "Yes . . . yes....." He fucked his hand faster as he felt the familiar tightening sensation in his groin. Ginny would tighten her fingers around his cock just like that and she would know to flick her wrist like this and she would lean close and say, "I'll give you what you want." And he would come and he did, his seed spurting as he cried out in pleasure, the sticky strands falling on his chest and stomach.
Harry released his still-twitching prick and fell back against the bed, panting with pleasure. He lay there for a while until his limbs stopped shaking and he had his breath again. He got up to fetch tissues and clean himself off. As he drifted off to sleep, he tried not to think about how Ginny had sounded a bit like Snape at the end.
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