It was storming outside, had been for the past few weeks, it seemed to those who lived on Privet Drive. If asked why it was always stormy most would say the weather – obviously, but those who were friends of the boy who lived at number 4 would say that it reflected the boy's soul. See this boy was no ordinary boy; he was Harry Potter – the- boy-who-lived according to the entire wizarding world, but if you asked him, he would say he was the-boy-who-had-nothing-else-to-live-for.
During his first year of life, Harry had lost his parents to an evil wizard known as Lord Voldemort – though most were too scared to even say his name. And now 14 years of abuse, violence, death and expectations, his godfather – the infamous escaped convict Sirius Black- was dead. He died as he had lived; protecting those he loved from evil.
Harry was not handling the death well. The only father figure Harry had ever known had been killed right in front of him, by Sirius' own cousin. On top of that, Harry had learned that he either had to kill Voldemort or be killed by him – become a murderer to save the world or be murdered and leave the world to fend for itself with Voldemort its ruler. Not much of a choice really. But for fifteen-year-old Harry it was. He just didn't care anymore. Without Sirius, the man he knew as his father, friend and mentor, dead he just didn't care.
Sirius was the only "parent" Harry had ever known. His own were killed when he was one and for 10 years had not known anything of the wizarding world; he had been used as a house slave and punching bag in his aunt and uncle's house. Never told 'I love you,' never given hugs or tucked in goodnight – this young man instantly bonded with the man who not only knew his parents, but said "I love you" and risked his life, and ultimately gave it, for Harry. The few chances Harry for to spend with his godfather were rare – but fun and memorable. Harry instantly bonded with Sirius and whenever he was near felt safe, but more importantly loved! But now- Sirius was gone, dead.
The loving, kind, humorous man sworn to protect Harry was gone. No more smiles, hugs, or laughs; no more pranks, jokes, or memories. All wiped away, all because of Voldemort.
Harry blamed himself – although he knew it was Voldemort and his followers who killed him – Harry still blamed himself. If only he had been smarter, if only he had been better at occlumency, if only…. It was these thoughts combined with the still guilty feelings over the Tri-Wizard Tournament and the utter void feeling along death left combined with the physical abuse Harry was receiving at the Dursley's that made his soul bleak and stormy – which nicely corresponded with the bleak and stormy weather outside his window.
The Dursley's were afraid of the 'boy' as they called Harry and figured if they depraved Harry of the basics of life they could get rid of the magic. But obviously, it didn't work. When Harry came back to his "home" he was expecting to be left alone – after all Moody had put the fear of God into his relatives; but, rather than just leave him alone they locked him in his room giving him one meal a day (if he was lucky.) Sometimes – when they needed yard work or chores done, they would let him out. At least three times a week Uncle Vernon would take his anger out on Harry.
Vernon's business wasn't doing well and he would beat Harry, but always made sure the 'boy' was still be able to use his hands to write letters to the Order. The first time a beating had happened was a few days after Harry had gotten back from school. Dudley had broken a lamp in the living room and blamed Harry. The lamp happened to a favorite of Petunia's, which had caused Vernon to get even redder in the face – if he had had one magical gene in his body he would have had steam coming from his ears. Harry had just stood taking the screaming - which had made Vernon even angrier. Vernon had slapped Harry. After that, Harry made an easy and accepting target.
After a weak of being locked in his room after the lamp incident – Petunia decided that he should do 'some' work. So after his one half of a grapefruit for breakfast Harry was required to do all of the yardwork and pretty much all of the housework everyday. But in all the letters, Harry never complained to the Order. Part of him knew he should, but it would be one more reason people would pity him. The-boy-who-lived would turn into the-boy-whose-guardians-beat-him. Harry listened to the part of him that welcomed the pain. He told himself that it was his punishment for causing the deaths of his parents, Cedric and Sirius. He never complained and never fought back.
At this moment Harry was sitting in bed with his back leaning gingerly against the headboard – it hurt to be in this position but it was the least painful one he could find. Last night, after a day of sweat-drenching work outside, his uncle had come home furious. It seemed that a big business deal had fallen through and Vernon had taken his anger out on Harry. He also started a 'new phase' as he called it, in his Harry beatings – he had used a hard leather belt to whip Harry until he passed out and when he had woken up, he let Dudley use Harry as a punching bag, again. So at the moment Harry was writing his required letter every-two-days to the Order and his friends.
Because it was raining today all Harry had had to today were inside chores, relatively easy compared to the outside work he did - he was done relatively soon. Harry had been told that he could write as many times and to whomever he wanted as long as he was careful about the contents. He addressed this letter to Ron, his best friend:
The Dursley's are the same as ever. I'm doing okay – still doing the odd jobs and stuff here. I hope all are well there. Bye.
Harry was very careful that he didn't let anyone at Grimauld Place know what his relatives were doing – he didn't want any more of their pity. People always pitied him because he didn't have any parents or because of the prophecy and now because he had lost Sirius – he couldn't stand to add one more thing to that list he thought… A car door slammed… Uncle Vernon is home. Harry quickly tied the note to Hedwig and sent her off. He heard his Uncle bellowing about work and then heard footsteps.
"Boy why aren't you doing your chores?!"
"I finished. I thought I would write a letter to my friends."
Vernon was not happy that Harry was corresponding with other "freaks" but knew if he didn't those very freaks would come to his house again. "Well get down here and serve us dinner."
Harry went downstairs and began getting the table ready – that's when the trouble began. Dudley had been cooped up in the house all day because of the rain, so to have some fun he began teasing Harry. Normally this wouldn't have bothered Harry but Dudley just happened to pick the subject of Harry's parents to use as ammunition this time. Harry was doing a good job of ignoring the taunts until….
"I bet your father was a lazy drunkard and your mum a slutty whore. Your dad probably got tired of your mum shagging his friends and killed her. Then himself – coward. Or maybe he made her sleep with his friends for money - yeah that's it - she was the neighborhood shagger. Your real father is probably that guy you claim as your 'godfather!" Dudley taunted. Harry's self-restraint exploded into tiny shards.
"How dare you insult my parents, you fat lazy stupid git! They were very powerful wizards and they sacrificed their lives so that I could live! I bet your parents would probably die of shock if they saw what parents and I have seen. The next time you talk about my parents and godfather you had better show respect or I'll curse you so badly you'll never get out of it!" During the few seconds it took for Dudley, Vernon and Petunia to realize that Harry was speaking, okay so yelling, several things happened: Vernon's temper raised to a VERY dangerous level, Harry pulled put his wand (he had taken to bringing it with everywhere – he may not want to live, but he had no intention of being an easy target for Voldemort). Harry realized that he had definitely crossed the line, one that had been drawn…well forever. Harry, finished with his tirade stormed up the stairs, into his room, slammed the door and waited. He know he wouldn't survive this beating, so while he waited he wrote what he thought would be his last letter.
Dear whoever reads this letter,
I hope this letter finds friends rather than foes. I just screamed at and pulled my wand on my relatives – for those who know me you know what that means. Any minute my uncle will begin to beat the living daylights out of me. I guess I deserve it. For all of the problems, deaths and worry I've caused I'm sorry. Everything that has happened in the last few years has been my fault I know that. It's all my fault. Ron and Herm – you guys are great friends; I wouldn't have survived first year without you. Don't cry over me, I'm not worth it. Hopefully I'm with my parents and Sirius now anyways… Gin – thanks for always being the sun on my gloomy days. Weasleys – thanks for being my family, though I never deserved one. Remus – thanks for being the best DADA professor, with out you I wouldn't have survived 3rd year and thanks for being a friend to my parents, Sirius and me; please continue to be there for the others. Hogwarts professors and Headmaster Dumbledore – thank you for teaching me not only about magic but about life – some of you were fair no matter what, some of you took care of my ails and wounds and one of you taught me that "fame isn't everything." Uncle Vernon is pounding on the door now and Hedwig just got back. I'm sorry if my death causes problems – I didn't plan it; but a part of me welcomes it. I am finally in place where my soul is at peace – with my parents and…Sirius. Uncle Vernon is tearing the door down.
I am sorry and goodbye, Harry Potter
Harry had just tied the letter to Hedwig and sent her off when Vernon ploughed through the door. "You. You…." He was so mad he couldn't form complete sentences (not like he ever could). His fist connected with Harry's jaw, breaking it and knocking him into the wall. "I'll teach you to yell at normal people – let alone my son!" Vernon bellowed. Harry could feel his ribs being shattered as Vernon kicked him. Vernon picked Harry up and threw him into the table in the room breaking his arm. Dudley joined his father in beating no, killing, Harry. The last thing Harry thought before the darkness consumed him was that he would miss his friends. Even when Harry lapsed into unconsciousness – Vernon and Dudley kept beating him – an hour later they left Harry in the fetal position in a corner, with a growing puddle of blood.
"What mum?" Ron said, just coming into the room. Ha and Ginny had just gotten done cleaning yet another room at Grimauld Place. Ron swore that for every room they cleaned the house grew two more.
"Oh, I was just going to ask if you and Ginny were done were with the den, dear?"
"Yes mum. Just"
"Alright. Why don't you take the afternoon off from cleaning? I dare say you both have some homework to do," Mrs. Weasley said in her I'm-suggesting-but-you-had-better-do-it tone that all mothers perfected.
"Oh yay. 'Cause that's more fun." He headed upstairs before his mother could respond. Telling Ginny they were done for the day, Ron went up to his room and got out his Hogwarts homework. See Ron also went to Hogwarts and along with his best friends Hermione and Harry, had just finished his fifth year and his OWLS. He knew he was supposed to be doing his homework, but recently it had been hard for Ron to focus on his tasks – perhaps it was because of what had happened this past year at school, or more the past month. Harry having horrible visions. Voldemort possessing him. Sirius being killed. Harry having some prophesy about him. A lot had happened. Ron and Hermione had both protested when Dumbledore said Harry was to go back to the Dursley's. Ron knew that if left to them Harry would shut down and never deal with what had happened with Sirius. He hoped he was wrong but being as close to Harry as best friends can get he knew Harry would be having problems losing the only father he had ever known. Ron's musings and ponderings were interrupted by tapping…
"Hey Hedwig." Ron read Harry's latest letter. "I knew it!" he exclaimed.
"Knew what, bro?" Ginny asked at the doorway. Ginny had been home all summer – rather than at friends houses like usual. After what had happened she had wanted to stay close to Ron and as a result had grown even closer to Ron then before. Ron handed her the note. "Doesn't say much, huh?"
"That's the problem. Read between the lines." Ron said angrily. He knew this would happen.
"He sounds very depressed…and lonely," Ginny stated. Being the younger sister of SIX brothers and the youngest overall Ginny had learned how to read emotions and expressions very well. Ginny was the one person the entire family looked to for a comforting ear to talk to and a trusted female perspective on life. Ginny knew Harry – although he wasn't family – she had been with him enough to know his moods. She had also realized something over break. Although she had had boyfriends in the past, none of them ever lasted too long and they never went past the really really good friend stage. She had had a crush on Harry Potter for as long as any of her family could remember – and most thought that it had gone away as Ginny grew older. But she knew better. She knew that her "boyfriends" were just replacing Harry in her affections. Her crush hadn't gone away – it had grown into something deeper and more real.
Ginny loved Harry. She knew that without a doubt and no matter if HE never realized it, she would be true to him forever. Her brother (Ron) had seen this new emotion in her eyes, but had never asked her about it. Ron knew his little sister – he knew her better than the rules of Quidditch, so he knew what that gleam meant and where that new purpose in her demeanor came from. She was forever devoted to Harry and would never leave his side.
"Yes he does. Extremely lonely. I told Dumbledore this would happen."
"I know. I was there." Ginny said trying to sooth Ron's slowly boiling temper. He got very hot tempered when it came to this topic. "I think we should tell Professor Lupin our feelings."
"It might not do any good," Ginny went on ignoring her brother, "but at least we'll have told someone besides Dumbledore and then when we get Hermione and the twins to help us rescue Harry we can say 'we all but told you what we were gonna do'," Ginny said with that mischievous look only girls can have.
"Okay." Ron said smiling back at her, wondering how she got to be so smart and devious at the same time. Probably from having the twins and Percy as brothers.
Neither one of the redheads noticed that instead of waiting for a reply nor getting something to eat, Hedwig had flown right out the window after delivering her letter.
"Ron I know you think Albus was wrong in sending Harry back to the Dursley's and as much as I want him here with us, I still can't help but think a safe Harry is more important than a happy Harry," Remus told the youngest Weasleys.
"But that's just it – he isn't safe. Not from himself. If I know him and I do – better than you," Ron said angrily, "he is blaming himself not only for Sirius' death but for all the deaths since Voldemort's return." Ron had given up not saying Voldemort's name – he thought he owed it to Sirius to name his killer.
Remus just looked at the two Weasleys and couldn't decide which was worse Ron or Ginny. "What's your reasoning Ginny?"
"The fact that I've known Harry just as long as Ron has and Hermione is my best friend. Plus the fact that I've had a crush on him since the first time I saw him - he's my knight in shining armor – being rescued by a person allows you to bond. Harry is NOT okay! And he needs US not his relatives."
Remus had wanted to tell the kids, whom both looked and sounded wiser than their years that they were imagining things and not to worry; but he couldn't. Remus himself was worried about Harry. After Sirius' death Remus had taken being Harry's guardian on himself. The only reason James and Lily had not given Harry two godfathers was because Remus had asked them not to on account of his lycanthropy. Being the last marauder Remus saw taking care of Harry as a way of saying thank you to James, Sirius and Lily. Without them Remus highly doubted his sanity let alone his life would have lasted through school. Remus didn't know what to do – part of him said to go and rescue Harry. He knew Harry hated it there, but the other part agreed with Dumbledore that a safe Harry was better than a happy Harry. But Ron brought up a valid point – left to himself Harry was more likely to blame and hurt himself than with his friends. Remus sighed, "Oh all right. I'll talk to the others and see what they say. But I agree with you the sooner we get Harry out of there the better."
"Good, finally an adult with some sense! I was beginning…" Ginny trailed off. "Hedwig! What are you doing back? As the snowy owl flew in, she dropped Harry's letter in Ginny's lap and began to hoot incessantly. "Hedwig whats the matter?" Hedwig landed on her lap, pushing the letter to her. "Okay okay." Ginny gasped as she read the letter. Seeing his sister upset over a letter he moved to read over her shoulder.
"Oh my God," Ginny exclaimed.
"Bloody hell!" Ron cursed. "Where's Dumbledore?" he asked Lupin. Remus, who was stunned at the disappearance of the two young adults and the appearance of slightly panicking kids, grabbed the letter from Ginny's trembling hands. As he read he understood and fell into his chair unable to speak.
Ginny took over, "Ron, you give Dumbledore this letter. Tell him and Professor Snape to meet Remus and I outside. I need to go get my kit." Ron looked at her questioningly. "NOW!" Ron ran out of the room in search of the Headmaster. Ginny, with Remus in tow, went to her room to get what her family had come to call "the kit." Ginny – living with six older brothers was constantly patching up wounds, scratches and even burns (Charlie and the twins.) Especially if they didn't want their mom to find out about 'em. And with a full-scale war looming closer and closer – Ginny had started observing and learning medicine from Madame Promphrey. She was never without her kit of emergency potions, bandages and salves. She and Remus had only just gotten outside when Ron came with his charges in tow.
"Why did you insist I come, Miss Weasley?" Snape sneered at her.
"Because your bloody damn intimidating and don't like muggles to begin with," Ginny said not even batting an eye. "Now listen. I don't wanna hear another word – this is what we're gonna do."
Harry lie in his small bedroom waiting for death. He thought of all the things he would never do. Never graduate. Never tell his love his feelings and get married. Never grow old and watch his children grow up. He was thinking about his friends and how he would never see Ron and Hermione admit their feelings or be best man at their wedding. He would never tell Ginny how he realized he loved her, more than just a friend or sister. He would never fly again or see his parent's graves. Wrenching him away from his melancholy thoughts was the sound of his door opening. Thinking it was his Uncle again he shrank back even further into the wall.
"Harry. Harry, where are you?"
"Aunt Petunia?" Harry asked. His glasses had been smashed with the first punch – all he saw a foggy light and a familiar looking shadow.
"Oh my God…. Harry…"
"Help me please. I…I don't want to die." Harry said his voice scratchy from disuse.
Petunia upon seeing her nephew, realizing what her husband and son did immediately went towards Harry and kneeled down beside him. "Harry, oh God, I can't believe they did this. I'm so sorry…for everything. ..."
"It's… its okay. I don't blame you Aunt Petunia." Harry whispered in between his moanings. His chest really really hurt… along with everything else.
"Harry hold on. I'm gonna go get you some water," she left, leaving the door slightly open. Harry heard the water running, but then scary footsteps over the water.
"Petunia! WHAT are you doing?!"
"I…I am helping Harry," Harry heard her say, then he heard a slap and sobbing and another door slamming. After that he saw and heard no more. He slipped into the darkness that once more surrounded him.