During the Summer after Harry's 5th Year and the debacle at the Department of Ministries, Harry falls into a severe depression over the loss of his Godfather. When a Goblin with a message for him a...
Harry Potter: Life, Love and Happiness
Green eyes snapped open and unfocused as Harry woke from his latest nightmare. A cold sweat had soaked through the sheets wrapped around his frame and he bit his lower lip in order to stifle the cry that threatened to break out.
Gingerly he raised his hand to his right cheek to the sensitive area that no doubt a bruise was forming on. Harry had received several bruises to his face and arms over the past week, not to mention several on his torso and back-- the most recent from earlier that evening when he hadn't been quite so successful in stifling his screams.
Harry brushed his sweat soaked fringe back to reveal the throbbing scar on his forehead, the prickling heat making it feel as if his skull had been split in two. Although he had not had any visions of Voldemort since 'that night', his scar throbbed almost continuously, as if orchestrated by Voldemort to remind him that he was still around and that he was still after him.
Harry glanced at the clock at his bedside-- '2.29'. He sighed realising he had only been asleep for an hour since he was last woken from a nightmare by his Uncle Vernon shaking him violently. Harry knew that he wasn't going to be returning to sleep that night.
A tapping at the window drew his attention and Harry sat up slowly, bracing his right arm on the mattress knowing that the ribs on his left side would scream in protest were he to try to get up any other way. He reached to the bedside and snatched up his familiar round framed glasses which he placed onto his face before pushing them up to the bridge of his nose.
Harry disentangled himself from his bedsheets and rose from the bed, shivering as the air caressed his sweat soaked body through the sodden oversized t-shirt and ratty old boxers he had gone to sleep in.
He limped as silently as he could on a badly sprained ankle, to the small window overlooking Privet Drive, trying to avoid the floorboards he knew would creak and opened the window wide to allow the regal form of his snowy owl, Hedwig access to his room.
At least this year, his Uncle Vernon hadn't nailed his window shut, or put bars on it like during the summer before his 2nd year at Hogwarts. He had tried to the first day after Harry had been back after school had finished, however while trying to carry the heavy frame of the bars up the ladder to affix them to the front of the house, a particularly strong gust of wind had sent his Uncle toppling 15 feet from the ladder, landing unceremoniously in amongst his Aunt's begonias. Suffice to say, Vernon wasn't overly enthusiastic about trying again any time soon.
Harry leaned against the window sill, closed his eyes and sighed as the gentle breeze lapped at his face, soothing him.
"Come here girl" Harry whispered to Hedwig, turning blood-shot emerald eyes to look at her.
Hedwig hooted in response and hopped across to where Harry stood leaning on the sill. Reaching towards her proffered leg, Harry removed the parchment envelope she had brought with her and placed it on the desk beside the half-finished sandwich his Aunt Petunia had provided earlier in the evening via the flap installed in his door.
Opening a drawer in his desk, Harry removed a bag of owl treats he had bought with a 'stay fresh charm' on to be kept there all year round and removed two which he fed to an eager Hedwig.
"Maybe we'll be able to get out of here soon girl" Harry mused, although secretly he knew that the letter he had received was probably only going to tell him nothing other than to stay put at Privet Drive and that everything was being dealt with for him. There would be no information of import for 'security reasons', just encouragement to be the 'good little pawn' and to do what his elders told him to do.
After the past year Harry had endured, he had hoped that people would start to trust him to make his own decisions and include him in any decisions which would affect his life. Experience however suggested that despite this, the adults in his life, meaning Dumbledore, would once again arbitrarily make the decisions about his future, and he would be left as always, fighting against the tide in a war he was ill equipped for.
Nipping affectionately at his fingers, Hedwig hooted once more and fluttered across to her cage, to drink from the water bowl he had filled from the single glass his Aunt had provided him with his sandwich, before settling herself in for some well earned rest.
Harry reached for the envelope he had detached from Hedwig. He flicked the switch on the small reading lamp on his bedside table that Hermione had insisted upon buying him so he could 'study late into the night if need be' -- and not for the first time Harry thought-- 'that girl needs her head examined'. A slight smile spread across his face at the thought of his bushy-haired best friend, smiling was not something that Harry found himself doing very often these days.
Squinting, Harry gave it a few seconds and allowed his eyes to adjust from the gloom that had settled over his room before turning back to examine the writing on the envelope...
'Mr Harry Potter'
/'4 Privet Drive'/
The handwriting, he recognised immediately as being that of Hermione Granger, the smartest and bossiest witch he knew and one of his best friends in the world.
Most people would be excited to receive mail and would rush to open the envelope and devour the contents hungrily, like a starving man would a steak dinner-- to Harry, it was the anticipation of reading the letter that he derived pleasure from almost as much as when he read the contents. As much as his life had changed in recent years, he still found it difficult to accept that there would be a next letter.. and a next... so he treasured each individually as if it would be the last.
Slowly he unsealed the envelope, extracting the lilac coloured parchment Hermione favoured when writing to both he and Ron--
I hope that you are OK and that the Dursleys are treating you fairly, Professor Moody says he has been receiving your notes every three days as he instructed you, I hope you are being truthful when you say everything is fine, we both know that in your world 'I'm fine' can cover anything from actually being OK, to having all the bones removed from your arm or bitten by a Basilisk!
Ron, Ginny and I miss you terribly. We are all at the place we stayed last summer with the rest of the Weasleys. Don't be alarmed but we had to leave the Burrow after the wards were activated. No one was hurt or in any danger, but it wasn't safe to stay anymore so we floo'd here and have been staying here for the past couple of days. We know when you read this you'll probably feel that it is your fault that we had to leave... we only have one thing to say to that-- DO NOT BLAME YOURSELF HARRY POTTER-- this is a war Harry and as such sacrifices have to be made. If not living at the Burrow helps keep us safe, if knowing you and loving you helps in any way, then it will be worth it!
On a lighter note you should know that the spell damage I suffered is all gone. I'm down to two potions a day now which is a lot better than it was before... Ron is coping better too after his encounter with the brains. He's been meeting with an Unspeakable from the Department of Mysteries and has been learning how to catalogue what thoughts are his and what thoughts belong to the Brains... I know it sounds silly but I'm kind of jealous of Ron-- I would give anything for the chance to meet with an Unspeakable! Ron now has all this extra knowledge, thanks to the Brains, which the Unspeakable is helping him to tap into like an encyclopaedia.
Anyway, Ginny's ankle was patched up by Madam Pomfrey and Neville is doing better too. The medi-witch at St Mungo's was able to regrow the teeth he lost and repair the fracture to his jaw. He still slurs slightly when speaking, but they are confident that will get better with time.
We don't know how Luna is as she's gone away with her Father... she said something about it being the ideal time of year to observe 'Spiral Horned Sleezekooks' in their natural gaseous form-honestly!
Breaking off from his reading at this point, Harry couldn't help but chuckle. It was no secret that Hermione didn't approve of Luna and her outlandish ideas concerning Sleezekooks and Snorkacks--Harry continued reading--
'We're sorry that we can't come to get you sooner Harry, Mrs Weasley has been pestering Professor Dumbledore every day, but so far he hasn't budged so it looks like you'll be at Privet Drive for a little longer.
I'm sorry that this letter will read like we're avoiding certain issues, Professor Dumbledore has charmed the parchment to delete anything that he didn't think was appropriate to send.
We love you Harry, never forget.
Don't give up hope Harry, life will go on. It has to.
We're thinking of you and we'll see you soon.
Hermione, Ron & Ginny'
Almost as suddenly as the light had been released when he switched on the reading lamp, Harry's anger and resentment towards the circumstances of his life broke to the surface.
Screwing his face up in a contorted visage of rage, Harry scrunched the letter into a ball and threw it into the waste basket by his bed while ignoring the disapproving hoot from Hedwig both for waking her and for disposing of something that she had spent hours travelling to deliver.
'Damn you Dumbledore! Damn you, damn Voldemort and damn the Prophecy' screamed Harry's inner voice as he began pacing the room.
"charmed the parchment to delete anything that he didn't think was appropriate-- when was it going to be appropriate? When he was standing face to face with Voldemort! When someone else he loved had died protecting him..."
As quickly as his anger had surfaced, it dissipated with this last thought... 'Sirius...' Harry's shoulders slumped and he slid down the wall landing heavily as he drew his knees into his chest and began to slowly rock himself back and forth.
It had been 23 days since Sirius had fallen through the Veil. Dumbledore and Lupin had both explained to Harry that once you had fallen, there was no return. Harry just couldn't accept the fact that Sirius was gone... he had lost so much in his short life. Harry was angry and remorseful both at the same time. He was angry with Dumbledore. With Voldemort. With Bellatrix. But most of all with himself--
Harry had always worked hard to hide his emotions from view, it wouldn't do to show weakness to anyone at Privet Drive-- and no one truly knew the real Harry Potter in the wizarding world either. Everyone was always sidetracked by the scar and the Boy-Who-Lived nonsense, even Ron and Hermione to a certain extent.
Harry had hoped, privately, back when he dared to dream, that one day Sirius would be cleared by the Ministry-- that they would be able to buy a small cottage by the sea and live there without the threat of Voldemort hanging over them. They would sit on deckchairs on the beach and take long walks on the bluff and be a real family.
Harry had never seen the sea-- his Aunt and Uncle had always said that only 'normal' people were rewarded and he was a 'freak' and undeserving of a trip to the seaside.
Whenever his Aunt and Uncle would take Dudley anywhere special, Harry would find himself dumped with Mrs Figg and her many cats or locked in his cupboard under the stairs. Harry didn't mind really, the less time he had to spend with his awful relatives the better as far as he was concerned.
Harry's rocking slowed as his eyelids began to droop. Harry had begun to have vivid nightmares shortly after his return to Hogwarts from the Department of Mysteries-- the longest he had slept in the past 3 weeks was 3 hours and that was on the Hogwarts Express returning to Kings Cross.
And so it was that Harry, propped up against the wall in Dudley's second bedroom found sleep once more, at least for a little while...
It wasn't long though, before the inevitable nightmares took a firm grip on Harry's subconscious...
Harry stood in the Great Hall at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry, gone were the long house tables that could usually be seen running in rows towards the large imposing Head Table at which the Professors' dined.
The walls were bare, no portraits, no paintings, no House banners just cold unforgiving stone. The Great Hall was empty and there was no sound as Harry stood in the entranceway looking towards where the Head Table should have been.
Harry had started to notice recently, that despite his being in a nightmare, he was aware of himself and he was aware that he was dreaming. The display in front of him was a familiar one. He was here every night whether he wanted to be or not.
Looking now, at the far end of the room, Harry was unsurprised to once again see his worst nightmare playing itself out in front of his eyes.
Sirius Black stood face to face, duelling with Bellatrix Lestrange, the woman who murdered Harry's most beloved Godfather. Again and again Harry had relived these moments, both in the waking world and in his dreams. It always ended the same, Harry knew he was dreaming again, he knew it wasn't real; but then he didn't really care either. Whether he knew it wasn't real was irrelevant, it still tore at his heart each time to witness it. And witness it he had over and over again and it always ended the same...
A bright silent flash of red streaked from the tip of Bellatrix's wand, striking Sirius in the chest. A puzzled expression crossed his striking features as he toppled in slow motion backwards, eyes locking with Harry in silent pleading. It was at this moment that behind him the dreaded archway shimmered into existence. The black veil suspended there, fluttering silently in a breeze only it appeared to feel.
It seemed to take an age for Sirius to fall through the Veil. It always did.
The light in the room surrounding Harry dimmed slowly, as if a spotlight had been brought up around Sirius, Bellatrix and the Veil. Harry's imagination doing everything in its' power to draw his attention -- to maximise his sorrow -- Sirius fell.
Harry woke with a start, still propped in the corner of his bedroom, the cold floorboards under him making his limbs ache terribly.
Harry ran his hand through his hair, a nervous gesture that he had picked up from his Godfather who had apparently picked it up from Harry's Father if Snape's pensieve memories were to be believed.
Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, Harry winced as he made contact with the rapidly purpling bruise beneath his left eye.
Upon his return to Privet Drive, Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon, once the initial shock from the warning given to them by Mad-Eye Moody and Arthur Weasley had worn off, had decided that their warning was nothing more than a challenge to their 'authority over the boy' and that they would not stand for it. As a result they had become even nastier towards their Nephew, belittling him at every turn and Vernon, once he realised that Harry was not going to fight back with magic, had taken great delight in physically beating Harry on several occasions now.
The Dursleys had ensured that Harry maintained contact with Order of the Phoenix as they'd made him promise to do-- his Uncle Vernon had forced him into one of the chairs at the kitchen table at lunch the day after Harry had returned and made him write out 20 copies of the same note on some parchment, enough to last the 6 weeks he was expected to stay with his relatives...
"All is fine.
No need to check up on me.
His Uncle Vernon had then taken all 20 copies of the note-- holding them by the edge as if the parchment would burn or infect him somehow-- and had taken all of Harry's school supplies from him, locking his trunk in the cupboard under the stairs, his wand included.
Harry had tried to resist and a tug of war had ensued over his trunk, but his Uncle Vernon had caught him off guard with a right hook and had caused Harry to lose his grip on the trunk and to fall through the glass coffee table in the living room-- Harry still had various cuts on his hands, arms and face from that incident.
Of course, Harry was blamed for the damage that he had caused. Petunia was furious that her 'perfect' living room had been marred by the glass that now littered the carpet and Uncle Vernon had beaten Harry with the metal dustpan his Aunt had looked out, before he had thrust it into his arms and made him clear up the mess himself.
It was after this that Harry had been frogmarched up to his bedroom and locked in by his Uncle Vernon while his Aunt Petunia looked on stonily and his Cousin Dudley sneered malevolently.
Harry was only permitted to leave the room twice daily to relieve himself, with his meals-- if you could call them that-- being pushed through the flap in the bottom of his door every other day. Every three days in the late evening, the locks on the door would be opened and Harry would be presented with a copy of the note and his Uncle Vernon would stand over him as it was attached to Hedwig and she was sent to the Order with her delivery.
Had Harry really thought about it, he would have probably been wise to tell Hedwig to remain at Grimmauld Place and to refuse to return. However with the prospect of 6 weeks of being locked up in complete isolation, the presence of his pet owl had been the only source of comfort he had been able to draw upon and he was loathe to let it go.
Harry was aching, empty and scared inside, but he dared not show his feelings around his family. Harry had learned the hard way that showing any weakness in front of his muggle relatives would either result in verbal taunting from his Aunt Petunia or worse from either his Uncle or Dudley...
His mind drifted and he recalled an incident involving his Uncle when he was four...
Harry was in his cupboard under the stairs, having a nightmare which was now all too familiar to him... the screaming, the flash of green, the horrible sibilant laugh of Voldemort as he stood over his mother's body...
His Uncle Vernon had awoken as a result of Harry's terrified pleadings and had stormed down the stairs, wrenched the door to the cupboard open and had proceeded to drag Harry into the living room, throwing the terrified boy against the hearth of the fireplace.
Harry, disoriented from the nightmare and not having been given the opportunity to reach for his glasses, did not realise what was happening. "Daddy?" he asked, rubbing his arm where it had struck the corner of the fireplace.
"Daddy?" bellowed Uncle Vernon, face violet with rage, "worthless little vermin I should have left you on the doorstep to freeze to death".
Realisation quickly hit Harry like a cold shower and he knew what was coming. The fist however caught him as hard as it ever did whether he knew it was coming or not. Harry crumpled to the floor in a heap, drawing himself into a ball, cradling his now throbbing head in his hands, sobbing quietly.
"I'll not have you refer to me as Daddy you worthless little freak. I don't love you, I never will. I am not your Daddy, your Daddy was a failure and a layabout. He amounted to nothing and neither will you!"
Lifting Harry bodily, Vernon tossed the sobbing boy back into his cupboard, closing the door and closing the air vent. Harry lay in darkness, silent tears running freely down his face, curling into a protective ball around the now forming bruise on the side of his head and the one forming on his arm.
"If you make one more sound tonight boy, I will personally ensure you don't leave your cupboard for a month." Vernon growled through the now locked door...
Uncle Vernon had been true to his word on that occasion. When Harry had woken later that morning, he found the latch on the cupboard door still sealed, and it remained that way for four long days. Harry was not permitted food or water during that period... he only was allowed a bathroom break once a day after he threatened to pee through the air vent onto his Aunt's new carpet.
It had been 3 weeks since Sirius had fallen but to Harry it could have been eternity. He felt hollow, as if there was no point in his continuing on if the people he loved were not with him any longer.
Harry was scared. Harry's greatest fear was not that he would lose and die, rather it was that he would win and live. He would survive to go on with his life, but all those people in his life that he cared about would be lost to him and he would be alone. Harry never realised that as hollow as he had felt during the past year with everything that had happened at Hogwarts that it was nothing compared to how he felt now... and it was all his fault.
A anguished sob broke the silence of the bedroom as Harry hugged his knees to his chest tighter, spirals of agony splitting his side as he compacted the ribs on his left side, which he was sure one or two had been broken by his Uncle during the dustpan attack. Finally with a defeated sigh, his shoulders sagged and he slipped quietly into the darkness...