Arms wide open, I stand alone

I'm no hero, and I'm not made of stone

- Five Finger Death Punch, "Wrong Side of Heaven"


Prologue

There is nobody coming, Harry thinks to himself. It's quiet in the library. The people who normally do their homework before or after dinner have all gone home. It would be as silent as a grave if it weren't for the steady drip-drip-drop of raindrops hitting the window sill and sliding off. They remind Harry of kamikaze pilots dropping into the sea. Hidden in his sleeve is his potions knife, honed to a fine point.

When he was a child, Harry used to love playing outside in the rain. There are no tears to shed when you're living with the Dursleys. Not when you're as much like a 'freak' as Harry was, or when you're born male. Harry likes to pretend that the raindrops falling down his face are the product of heaven weeping for him, and that these are the tears that he would not cry for himself, returned to him at last. Harry liked to pretend. Otherwise he was a lonely little boy, wet and hungry.

Let us return to the present moment. Harry is all alone in the library. Everyone else has left for the day. Madam Pince is absorbed in her own little world. The only sound in the quiet library is the drip-drip-drop of the rain. Harry is eleven years old. He has two best friends who are waiting for him in the Gryffindor common room. Harry is eleven years old, and he wants to die. He's too young to have suffered so much already.

Somewhere below the castle, somewhere not even the deepest cellars reach, the rumble of enchanted castle walls moving goes unheard. Hogwarts, omniscient as she is, hears Harry's cry of pain and heads the call. Behind Harry, a book falls off the shelf.