[A/N: This has been a long time coming. In order for me to tell this story right I've decided to rewrite a good portion of it. Not to worry! A large chunk of the content that you all have since read/remember will remain untouched aside from fixing typos and choppy flow. I've grown in my writing since I first published this and wanted to give this a better polish. I'm also adding a few more elements that were not in the original story to give more conflict—which means greater reward later. Thanks for those who have been patient and still follow this, I hope the new bits will be an enjoyable read. Stay tuned for more elaboration and reworking of old scenes. Now, I hope, they will be stronger and more in mind I am a full time student and work part time, so I don't have the time to truly update as fast as I would like to. But after dealing with some…life stuff, I really wanted to try and get back to this wee story. I apologize in advance to my recent followers, as this may be frustrating to see. But I figured I better do this now before anyone else reads the old version.]
It was the summer before Harry's fifth year.
He had been on Privet Drive for a month now, and he already had begun to hate it. He had incited the wrath of his maternal relatives quite well in that small amount of time. Though, to be morbidly fair, the Dursleys were contemptable of his existence throughout the year no matter what he did.
The subtle threats his friends had made when they met the Dursleys at King's Cross, coupled with Harry's supposed freakishness as his relatives had termed, had been enough to earn him more violent encounters and even meager food rations than before. Harry supposed they had meant well in this. It was abundantly clear how much his uncle seemed to hate everything about Harry when he arrived to pick him up from the station, so it was only natural for Harry's friends to feel a bit defensive of him, a scrawny little runt compared to his imposing relatives. For the most part, Harry was grateful that they would speak so on his behalf, but a part of him wished they hadn't said anything. Obviously, words are never enough when dealing with people like the Dursleys. Action was what Harry wanted, but of course never got. Despite his early pleadings of staying at Hogwarts in the summer when he began his magical school career, the Headmaster would not give in and would send him back to his horrid relatives. Harry hoped that it was because of the older wizard's ignorance of the real situation…and not that he knew and sent him anyway. But Harry reminded himself that he had never truly confessed the entire truth behind his request. Not to Dumbledore nor any of the staff of his beloved school. Perhaps he was afraid, but of what? That Dumbledore would still say no? What his relatives were capable of if he revealed their conduct towards him? Harry didn't know himself.
Maybe he was afraid word would get out to people like Malfoy, who would taunt him for it. This past year was awful enough with people hating him for something that wasn't true. He could just imagine what it would be like when their insults were fueled by a horrible truth he hadn't confided to even his best friends. Maybe he was afraid of hurting his mates with the secret he had inadvertently kept for far too long.
Or, a rather crueler part of Harry hummed, maybe he didn't deserve to get out from Number 4, Privet Drive.
This was his punishment.
And that was his most powerful thought than the others these days. Especially since he had not heard from anyone since he got back. But he was trying to ignore the aching feeling inside his chest and anger welling up in his heart.
He'd been feeling very angry lately, so much so it shocked him to his core.
At any rate, (changing the topic of his thoughts so as not to get overly upset again) he had enough to worry about, what with Voldemort on the loose. And Cedric…Merlin, no, Harry would try not to think in that direction. He had enough in his nightmares, which had become more frequent and intense recently. More than anything he wanted to forget the past four summers as well as the entire ten years before had even happened, and most of all the last few weeks of the tournament.
That ridiculous, idiotic tournament. Harry was practically a Muggle-born for all he yet knew of the Wizarding World, and there he was thrust into a literal dragon's den!
Harry, when his thoughts were not plagued by anger and fear, tried to think of his friends as well as two relatively new men in his life he hoped he would come close to as well. Remus Lupin, a former professor of his, had been quite wonderful to Harry. He was wise and unjudging, as well as honest and true. Sirius Black, his godfather he never knew he had till almost a year prior, was just as genuine and friendly, but more boisterous and lively. And he honestly seemed to like Harry too, for which the teen was thankful. He had even offered him a place to stay, as his guardian. His family, even. Such an offer had never been given to Harry and it had been one of the few most glorious moments in his relatively short life.
Of course, things did not turn out so well as Sirius was still on the run from the Ministry for crimes he had not committed. Once again Harry was given words, not action, but he supposed this could not be helped. He was used to disappointment after all. The men's company, though rare these days, was better than nothing. Maybe one day, if Harry was lucky, he'd be with them on a more permanent basis.
It was nice to dream. It was his small oasis in a desert of despair.
So here he was, just thinking about unfortunate things as he idly swung on a swing in the local neighborhood playground. He had been doing this a lot lately. Just sitting there, barely swinging. He instead came closer to swaying more than anything, letting his trainers dig into the dirt and woodchips. The rusted chain links tinkled with his slight movement and the crunch of the chips filled the air.
He had found a band-aid sort of cure for his growing, uncontrollable emotions. After the ordeal of the tournament, Harry had been basically wrenched from those who supposedly cared about him into the violent and hateful grasp of his relatives. But, like he had before reasoned, he was sure no one quite understood that was what they were doing. He hoped, anyway.
But he hadn't counted on being cut off from the only world he knew happiness from. And that no one seemed to mind.
So, Harry Potter had begun to push it all down, as he had when he was a child. Before he had learned he was a wizard (and by extension had a reason to keep on living), Harry would bottle up his anger and sorrow of how unfair his life was turning out. Apathy was what gave him momentum to keep going because if he wasn't angry, the piercing pain of such passionate emotion would go away. The heaviness inside his soul was certainly preferable to tears (for which he would be mocked for) and spurts of lashing out (which either manifested in talking back or what he now knew to be accidental magic, both earning him dire results at the hands of his muggle family). Soon enough little Harry had begun squashing it all down deep in a place no one could get to, and he was better off for it because he then could face the hatred of his home-life (and school-life, as Dudley and his gang ensured was also his personal hell) without caring. Well, he cared, but he was controlling it. Oppressing it, as he was in turn oppressed.
He had learned to unravel that conditioning in his time at Hogwarts, feeling safer and more relaxed there. Even his magic felt like it was healing. But over the last year, with the taunts and jeering, not to mention tragedies…well, it felt more like his old life than anything else. And now that his last link to those he wished could help him heal was severed somehow, he was falling back into old ways—and falling hard.
He stared at nothing in particular as he swung, content to exist like this forever. It had been scorching hot this part of the season, unusually so. But he kept out of the house as much as possible. Avoiding them as best he could. But he knew it was only a matter of time.
And Harry had ceased being an optimist long, long ago.
"Oiy, Potter!" Dudley's voice rang out. The day had waned into dusk. Harry dimly looked up to squint at the approaching forms of Dudley, Piers, and a couple of other boys Harry didn't bother try in remembering their names.
"So sad, Potter?" Dudley cooed, coming to stand a few feet from Harry's still unresponsive form. "Who's Cedric?" his cousin continued. He eyed his gang mates and there was a cruel glimmer of humor in them, a sharpness not unlike when Snape had a nasty comment to make about a failed potion.
"I hear you yell out his name at night. He your boyfriend?" Dudley continued, and the boys cajoled brightly at that, thinking it great fun.
Harry felt a spark of intense anger, a fire almost visibly igniting in his emerald eyes. But as quick as it had appeared, it vanished. Closing his eyes, Harry felt the ball of rage compressed into the seemingly black hole inside his heart. And he visibly drooped, the action taking quite a lot out of him.
"Yeah…something like that." Harry whispered now, not even caring what they thought anymore. This just made the other boys have another round of obnoxious giggling, walking off to the corner store to try and scam a beer off the keeper.
Feeling someone was still there, he looked up again and saw Dudley had remained behind.
"What d'ya want?" Harry managed weakly.
"You're pathetic." Dudley uttered in an almost uncertain voice.
"Piss off." Harry hoarsely spat back. Dudley turned purple (much as his father did) and punched Harry right in the face. He fell to the ground off the swing, heaving heavy breaths from the pain he felt blooming from his nose. He then felt something warm trickle down and saw splotches of blood dripping onto the dirt. He gingerly felt the wound and hissed horribly. The pain, oh the pain…he knew the bone was broken. This he knew from experience.
Merlin, he wasn't sure if he could get up. Pain he was used to, this was not a real problem. But he just…didn't have the energy. Nor the will. He was just about to lean back to ease the bleeding when he felt an unearthly chill fill his bones. The birds had stopped chirping; the frogs had stopped trilling—there was dead silence. Shooting now anxious eyes upward, Harry was face to face with the dead, putrefied visage (or whatever was left beneath its cowl) of a dementor.
A dementor? In Surrey?
Harry dimly heard Dudley drop to the ground in a great thump, whimpering from the effects but not having the ability to see what was causing it. Harry felt his heart grow cold and his movements slow. But he recalled his was in fact a wizard, and pulled his wand out of his pocket, though it cost him great effort. His lungs felt constricted, and he could hear a faint scream.
Oh no, not now, not this, anything but this…
Harry slung about his wand and tried to cast his patronus. But nothing happened. He tried thrice more but not so much as a fizzle erupted from his wand. In fact, he could feel nothing flowing through the wood as he had since the first day it chose him.
As he neared unconsciousness, thoughts that it was all a wonderful, terrible dream surfaced. He had never been a wizard, that was the only explanation, right? Just something his delusional mind had made up to cope with…well, his life. And for some reason, his heart finally cracked. Harry was faintly impressed his imagination could make up such a horrible thing as the creature he now saw blurred and melted with the sky. The scream…oh the scream was everywhere, all around. All at once. It was shattering his soul, he could feel it. He was losing control—it was slipping so fast…
And then there was silence.