Nobody ever asked my birthday

Chapter 270

Harry felt the panic trying to crawl out of his belly and into his brain. It was a familiar feeling, and he hated it.

But, just about now, the feeling was feeding itself, feeding his fear.

Lord Voldemort might hear.

Harry slammed his eyelids shut, and breathed in and out, slowly. He felt the wind on his arms, and thanked his good sense that he'd known to find a good place for this. He clung to the feelings, to the hard stone under his bum, to the wind and the chill, and the shiver he was holding back. Just be there, listening, an open jug filling with sensation.

Safety was solitude. Peace and contentment.

Harry wished he'd brought his Map. He could watch Snape (and Malfoy), and at least somewhat reassure himself that he hadn't... False reassurance. Harry didn't want to cling to lies, so he brought that comforting thought to a cold stop.

Taking another deep breath, Harry opened his eyes again. The fear was still there, but it wasn't growing and filling his thoughts. A sort of trepidation, just on the edge of his senses. That was good, it would keep him sharp.

Harry was going to deal with this, really he was.

Just not right now.

Taking another deep breath, he thought back...

something somewhere out there keeps calling...

Harry's eyes slid shut again, feeling the wind ruffling his perpetually unkempt hair. He imagined his mum ruffling her fingers through his hair. It felt warm, content. Was this what it felt like, to be loved? Harry really wasn't sure. He'd never had a real family, and the Weasleys would say they loved him (except Ron, who'd manage something unbelievably awkward to avoid saying that exact phrase, and then give him a hug that meant the same thing. And the twins would be unbelievably matter-of-fact about it, as if Harry ought to know that like he knew the sky was blue).

There was always a certain restlessness in him, as if the wind itself was tugging his feet along, promising something that he'd find somewhere else. It had to be from growing up with the Dursleys... Still... he hadn't found it at Hogwarts, not for all the friendships in the world. There was a sense of belonging, true, but it was an impersonal one.

In. Out, Harry breathed, stilling himself into thinking, "Mum? Da? Are you watching me? Are you proud of me?"

All he felt was the wind on his hair, the crisp chillness a sharp contrast to the desired warm breath on his cheek.

He'd known his parents in fragments - at first only the light, but he could see the dark too. What he was missing was the in-betweens. He knew how Hermione looked when she was studying furiously - or the look on Ron's face as he concentrated on chess. The small, unimportant things.

Maybe, someday, he could ask.

am i going home?

Hogwarts was the closest thing he'd had to a home, but it wasn't really a home, it was a school. And schools had mean and arbitrary rules just for the doing of it. It wasn't a warm, homey sort of place, even. You didn't even have your own bedroom. And, besides, he'd had too many near-death encounters to feel truly safe here. He opened his eyes, staring into the distance, trying to see a candle burning in a window... Harry's mind queried, Are my parents waiting up for me? Did they leave a light on, just for me? And if I see them, what sort of a story could I even tell? I know Hermione doesn't tell her parents everything - they'd have killed her, for some of the stunts we've pulled. Not that the Dursleys would care.

will i hear someone singing solace to the silent moon?

First year, Harry had loved Astronomy class - it had been the first time he'd seen the moon and stars. He loved the moon most when it was barely a sickle, the moon he'd seen morning and night, as he worked on Aunt Petunia's roses. It had lent a bit of consistency to being at class at midnight. Now, he looked up, wondering if the moon had seen his parents sharing a kiss beneath it. Did it mourn? And if so, what did it mourn? Or did it suffer the pangs of longing? Harry vaguely recalled a myth about that...

zero gravity what's it like?

It was just so easy to disconnect. To say to hell with the world at large, and just float away. The world had wanted him dead for years, and hadn't cared boo about the prophecy, had it? Harry let out a twisted, cackling laugh, like rustling fallen leaves. The world still wanted him dead, if on less of a Very Personal level.

It was a fond thought, just letting go - anywhere but bonnie jolly good England, he could really be Just Harry. He wouldn't, couldn't do it, he knew that, firmly in his belly (well below his heart, that wanted to just float away). No, it was a grande thought, but not one he'd be taking.

I love you, Harry said to the wind, testing the words.

[a/n: Yes, Harry is compartmentalizing. At some point he'll have to deal with Snape. Oh, and decide how he wants to face the man again, too.

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The title's a bit of a joke, as Harry's very clearly afraid.]