Back to Harry...
CHAPTER 2: THE WOES OF THE BOY WHO LIVED
Likewise, it was a beautiful summer day some few hundred miles away from the famous Wizarding school, in Little Whinging, Surrey. On the street known as Privet Drive, people were mowing their lawns, washing their cars, and playing with their children. Everybody who lived on this street was enjoying this fine day, except for one teenager in particular.
On the upper floor of number 4, Privet Drive, a lonely, introverted teenager was lying on the bed in his room and staring up at the ceiling, with a sad look in his vivid green eyes, his jet-black hair somewhat disheveled, and a depressed expression on his thin face, which happened to include a scar on his forehead shaped like a bolt of lightning.
Harry Potter was still in the process of grieving over the death of his godfather, Sirius Black. Almost everyone thought that Sirius was a hardened criminal who had betrayed his parents, and had murdered thirteen people with one curse. They had thought that he killed Peter Pettigrew, nicknamed Wormtail, being an unregistered Animagus, who was another friend of the Potters', and was blown to bits, along with twelve innocent Muggle bystanders. Sirius had been sentenced to Azkaban for life, and then broke out when he learned that Peter, the turncoat, was at Hogwarts, disguised as another student's pet rat.
The truth was that Sirius had made Wormtail the Potters' Secret- Keeper at the last moment as a bluff, thinking that Voldemort would come after Sirius instead of Wormtail. What Sirius had not anticipated was Wormtail's cowardice. Wormtail betrayed the Potters, Sirius went after Wormtail, who was a convincing actor, blowing up the whole street so he could transform as a rat and escape through the sewers below.
At the end of his third year at Hogwarts, Harry learned the truth and faced Wormtail for the first time. Sirius, along with Remus Lupin, Harry's ex-Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor, who was the Potters' other friend, wanted to kill Wormtail for his betrayal. They were about to do so, when Harry himself stepped in. He prevented them from killing Pettigrew, saying that he didn't want his father's remaining friends to sink down to Wormtail's level, and that if they brought Wormtail back alive, they could prove Sirius' innocence. They all agreed to this, but Peter later escaped that same night.
During Harry's fourth year, Sirius remained on the run but otherwise unharmed or captured, while Wormtail had returned to Voldemort himself. The Dark Lord, the same one who Wormtail had betrayed Harry's parents to, created a temporary body, but needed to restore himself to his own body. They needed Harry's blood to create Voldemort's new body, so they set up a trap to lure him into their hands. It worked over the course of the year in the Triwizard Tournament, their best window of opportunity, since Harry was so magically well protected wherever he went. The plan worked, and Voldemort got his body back. Amazingly, though, Harry made an extraordinary escape back to Hogwarts.
Harry snorted as he thought of this. The morning after he saved Wormtail's life, Dumbledore told Harry that since he saved Wormtail's life, he would be indebted to the boy, and that this certain magical bond would be useful in the future. Yet somehow, Harry thought, that hadn't stopped Wormtail from assisting the infamous Dark Lord into getting his own body back. Was Dumbledore perhaps wrong about that too?
Dumbledore. Harry was isolated from him during his previous year at Hogwarts, and found little and no support in the white-haired wizard while the Ministry of Magic made snide remarks to Harry, forced the repulsive Dolores Jane Umbridge on the school, and allowed ten Death Eaters to escape from Azkaban, thanks to subservient dementors who sided with Voldemort rather than the Ministry. Dumbledore had apologized with much remorse last year after Sirius' death, claiming it was an old man's mistakes. Somehow, Harry never thought of Dumbledore as old. Granted, he may well be over a hundred years old, but if he was the powerful Head of Hogwarts, leader of the Order of the Phoenix, and the only one Voldemort ever feared, then the man must have been doing something right with his health.
Once again, Harry's thoughts turned to Sirius. He was locked in combat with the Death Eater known as Bellatrix Lestrange, who Sirius had the misfortune of being a cousin to. She Stunned him and Sirius fell backwards through the mysterious veil of an ancient arch, never to be seen again. Harry pursued Lestrange, and even tried using the Unforgivable Cruciatus Curse on her. Looking back on that memory now, Harry shuddered. Now would he get in trouble for that? Hopefully, Dumbledore could help him sort that out. He had used it in his rage at losing his godfather, and he wanted Lestrange to feel some of the pain he felt. He vowed that he would never use an Unforgivable Curse ever again, no matter who he wanted to use it on.
At that moment, Hedwig flew threw the open window. She hooted because she could sense Harry's grief. She tried nuzzling him and affectionately nibbling his finger, and he only reluctantly stroked her feathers in gratitude for her company.
Harry had been continuing his practice at Occlumency, an obscure branch of magic, which trained someone in defense of the mind against external penetration. Without Professor Snape as his tutor again, he humbly felt that he was doing quite well. When Harry defeated Voldemort the first time, as a one-year old infant, he had somehow gained a bit of Voldemort's powers, such as Parseltongue, which was the ability to communicate with serpents. However, after Voldemort's return into his own body, Harry discovered that he could tap into Voldemort's mind, normally while he slept, and so it was a priority for him to learn Occlumency, before Voldemort tried to work the order in reverse, and gain a foothold in Harry's mind. Lessons with his least favorite professor went particularly bad, and so he failed at it. Now, however, most of his dreams were simply trivial, regarding things that normal teenage boys should have, like sports or homework.
Harry was most bothered by the prophecy, which was the cause for so much strife. Ever since Voldemort had gotten his new body about a year before, he wanted to hear the prophecy, which concerned himself and Harry. Made shortly before Harry was born, it foretold of the One with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord, born at the end of July of that year to parents who had escaped from Voldemort three times. The Dark Lord would mark the One as his equal, but have power the Dark Lord doesn't have. In the end, the One or Voldemort would have to die and the hand of the other, for neither could live while the other survives.
"The One" was Harry himself. He was born on July 31, 1980. His parents, James and Lily Potter, had escaped from Voldemort three times. Harry had the lightning bolt scar on his forehead from when the Dark Lord first failed to kill him. Harry's power which the Dark Lord didn't have was love, nobility, and compassion, certain powers which the cold, cruel, and ruthless evil wizard didn't have. And now, in the end, one of them had to kill the other.
Voldemort's eavesdropper only heard the first part, pertaining to the approximate date of birth and the achievements of the parents. Based on this complete information, there were two Wizarding boys who it could have applied to. One was Harry, of course. The other possible candidate was one of Harry's classmates, Neville Longbottom.
For the past five years, Neville had been something of a social outcast, picked on by bullies and having trouble with most of his classes, except for Herbology. Harry always stuck up for him whenever he could, and he was one of the staunch supporters outside Harry's own circle of friends who vouched for him when nearly thirty students met to agree to start their own Defense group after Umbridge refused to teach them anything other than useless theory. Harry could now sympathize with Neville more than ever. Both of them had fought valiantly at the Department of Mysteries barely a month ago, and both of them were orphaned after their parents were killed or incapacitated. Harry's parents were killed by Voldemort, and Neville's parents were driven insane. Frank and Alice Longbottom worked for the Order, just like Harry's parents. They were Aurors (dark Wizard catchers), and very popular with the community.
Not long after Voldemort's first downfall, a group of Death Eaters, believing that they had information of Voldemort's whereabouts, had driven them insane using the Cruciatus Curse. One of these Death Eaters was Bellatrix Lestrange herself, who was sentenced to life in Azkaban for her heinous actions. Neville now lived with his paternal grandmother, although they visited his parents at St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries during the holidays. However, they could not even recognize them, because of how much damage was inflicted on them.
Now, sitting here and thinking to himself, Harry reflected upon his situation. Surely there could have been other people apart from him who suffered over the course of the past year.
Yes, indeed there were. While he may have broken up with Cho Chang, he now realized it was because of the fact that he was being haunted by his own problems, and was unable to spare the time for her. She suffered too over the loss of Cedric Diggory, right? Now that Harry lost his godfather, he could express more sympathy for her as opposed to the previous year.
Neville Longbottom had also undoubtedly suffered. He had grown up without his parents, but with his grandmother, who was at least caring, however strict. All the memories of his parents and his feelings must have resurfaced this past year, when their torturers first broke out of Azkaban and then fought and tortured Neville himself along with Harry and their friends in the Department of Mysteries.
Worst of all that was bearing down on him was the issue with his Potions professor, Snape. He had seen memories of his father and godfather tormenting Snape in front of other students while they were still at school. Harry always thought that the main reason Snape hated him was because of a leftover grudge held against Potter Sr., but this was beyond that. Harry had still been feeling a kind of guilt over not knowing otherwise, and it felt like a burden on him. He just wanted to get it off his back, make Snape see otherwise. And since Harry wanted to become an Auror, which required N.E.W.T.-level Potions classes, he didn't think he could deal with another two years of the same verbal abuse.
Nor was Harry blind to the problems of his own best friends. Ron had gotten attacked by those brain creatures in the Department of Mysteries, and Hermione had been knocked out by an evil Dark curse which left a lot of damage to her afterwards. The last time Harry had checked, both of them had recovered to the point where there would be no more problems, but even though both Ron and Hermione had reassured him that it wasn't his fault, and that it was their own decision to join him and fight, he still felt some false blame for what happened, much like when Cedric got unwittingly dragged along, only to meet his own untimely death.
For the first week or so ever since he had returned to Privet Drive, Harry stayed in his room, reading and studying, weeping and mourning. He only came out to use the bathroom or eat, and even then, he ate very little. Only occasionally did his uncle get made at him, but Harry didn't have the energy to fight with him, or any of the Dursleys, for that matter. All his anger and grief had been spent last year on those who tried to ruin his life, like Voldemort, Bellatrix Lestrange, Lucius Malfoy and his son Draco, Dolores Umbridge, and others. All those evil people had made his loathed Muggle relatives look weak and practically powerless.
He had to think about how he was going to fight in the war which he had to win, or so the prophecy claimed. His whole world had been shattered the previous year, with incompetent authorities, teachers that could provide little help... practically all his pillars of support had been knocked down, and so he had to rely on himself, which only resulted in disaster. Now Harry had to see the world in a new light, and find a different way to deal with it. Heck, he'd even be willing to work with any students from all of the other Houses at Hogwarts, so long as they opposed Voldemort as he did.
Harry made a promise to himself, a vow, never to let his friends down. He vowed to work with anyone who was against Voldemort and not turn them away because of any differences he had with them. He vowed to get himself to his goal and reach his limit. He vowed to not let others walk over him. He vowed to not bury his own problems in the past and forget them, but rather to stick up for himself and defend himself. Harry had to rise to meet the challenge.
'But could I do all this?' he thought to himself.
Dumbledore's words floated back into his mind, about choosing what is right and what is easy...
As Harry continued to think to himself, he slowly dozed off.
Harry awoke several hours later. Even though it was a summer day, it was already dark and the sun was below the horizon.
Must've missed supper, he thought. Not that I was really hungry anyway...
As he took a few moments to get his memory together, he remembered Dumbledore's words about what is right and what is easy.
Even if Dumbledore had erred greatly last year, Harry still knew he was right, or at least in that regard, and he was trying to follow his own wisdom of choosing the right over the easy.
Harry got up and exited the room, walking down the hall to the bathroom.
Sometime later, after he was done in there, he was on his way back to his room when he passed Aunt Petunia in the hall.
"Sorry," he mumbled automatically, moving off to the side so she could pass.
"You missed dinner," she said. "I didn't want to bother you. You can fix something for yourself in the kitchen, as long as you clean it up when you're done."
If Harry didn't know any better, he could have sworn that she almost sounded worried about him. Of course, he thought, she was worried about his well-being especially after they had been threatened by some members of the Order of the Phoenix at King's Cross. His Uncle Vernon and cousin Dudley had also been as keen on giving Harry a fairly wide berth.
"Thanks," he said.
Aunt Petunia gave a very slight nod in acknowledgement, and she stayed around for a moment as if to talk to him, but then finally went a different way. Harry watched her go before finally returning to his room.
Once back in his room, Harry began dwelling about the prophecy again. Could he live with killing Voldemort, or any living person at all? The only living being he could ever recall killing was the Basilisk in his second year. Probably the closest he had come to killing an actual person was Riddle's evil diary, and even then, that might not have counted. He briefly remembered Quirrell, but as Dumbledore told him, he only died because Voldemort left him to die. Of course, one could debate whether that snake-faced evil wizard was even human...
Realizing what he was doing, he mentally pulled himself together. He could mourn Sirius and dwell on things more later. In the meantime, he had a destiny to deal with, and even then, that was fairly far off.
But then he also remembered something else. He thought about how, in these troubled times, he could take nothing for granted. As tragic as it was, the lesson with Sirius taught him that chances had to be taken while they were still available.
There were various things which Harry wanted to say to various people... and since it would be a little while before he went to sleep, he decided to write to them while he had the time.
However, as he was trying to think of who to write to first and something to say, he felt tired once again.
It's just as well/, Harry thought to himself. /At least this gives me another day to think about what I want to say to them.
After changing into his nightwear, Harry opened the window and let Hedwig out of her cage. The beautiful snowy white owl fluttered onto the windowsill and looked back at Harry for a moment with what the boy thought was something akin to motherly concern.
"Don't worry about me, I'll be fine, girl," he said reassuringly.
Hedwig made a clicking sound and some owl gesture as if to say "If you say so" before turning around taking off out into the night.
In a position almost identical to the one he was in earlier that day, Harry lay on his back, staring up at the ceiling before he finally dozed off.
(End of Chapter 2.)
A/N: As you can see, Harry's now trying to face his problems and not hide from them. In the spirit of the books, I decided to do something of a recap of events from the previous books. The recap in the first part is pretty much the same, but the things like the encounter with his aunt and asking himself if he could really kill somebody are new.
I read at the HP Lexicon that Dumbledore was born c. 1840, so I'm going with that.
Cho did act kind of badly in OotP, but then again, she was grieving and in mourning. Also, while she may not be Harry's romantic interest in this fic, she still has her role to play in what is to come.
Petunia Dursley will still be a miserable woman, but I'm going to add some depth to her, and try to explain why she might hate Lily, James and Harry so.
Also, in case you are interested, be sure to check out the related side-story/prequel "The Sword of Gryffindor" and the side-story/sequel "Children of Gryffindor."
ONE OTHER THING I WANT TO MENTION: I know I said that if anyone wanted me to send to them the previous versions of this fic and all related material, they should let me know. However, I have had instances where I did not get the person's email address, could not get the email address, and was unable to send them a private message through the site. If anyone is going to send me a private message through whatever site I post this fic on, then I ask that they please make sure I can send one back to them. Also, I ask that they please break down their email address so it doesn't get cancelled or anything. For example: screenname/ (at) site (dot) com/, or www (dot) website (dot) net or www ./ website . net/. Thanks for your understanding.