Chapter One - For Lily
"When life takes its own course, sometimes we just don't get to choose."
– (Already Home) A Great Big World
A/N: This chapter has been slightly rewritten and edited. Please let me know if there are any typos. I am currently reediting chapter two.
Every night, Harry's dreams were always the same. His dreams were always of Sirius falling through the veil over and over again. He could see the look on Sirius' face, the light in his blue eyes fading away as he fell. Harry always tried to run to Sirius, to save him, but he was always held back as if someone were holding him from behind. The dreams always ended with him yelling out for his godfather, crying out that he was sorry he died. It was Harry's fault that his godfather was gone, the only person that truly cared for him, who understood him. Sirius was lost to Harry because of his foolishness and for that reason, he paid for it dearly.
Harry awoke from his nightmares, pulling himself out of the darkness of sleep. He immediately recognized the four white walls that surrounded him. He was currently in his small bedroom at number four Privet Drive. Harry hated this place. He felt so suffocated in this room with nothing to keep his mind off of Sirius, so the guilt grew and grew, until he could not take the pain anymore. He felt like he was losing himself in his grief. It had come to the point where he just didn't care anymore. He couldn't eat, he couldn't sleep, he didn't even care about going back to school. He just wanted to lay here in his self pity and grief and wait till the day when he can be with Sirius again.
"Harry!" Aunt Petunia screeched, followed by her bony knuckles tapping at his bedroom door.
Harry groaned, covering his face with his thin blanket. It's too early for this, he thought as he got up and looked around for some clean clothes.
"Are you awake, boy?!" Aunt Petunia screeched again. She banged the door with her broomstick. The noise was so loud and annoying, Harry couldn't go back to sleep even if he tried. With a spark of annoyance, he ran his hand through his messy hair and put on his glasses.
"I'm awake!" he shouted.
Aunt Petunia opened the door and wrinkled her nose at the mess called Harry's room. "Come down and start breakfast before your uncle wakes up, unless you want a morning punishment from him," she ordered. She was about to turn around and close the door when she added, "and clean this room after your chores today!" She gave her nephew a disapproving glare as she shut the door and left.
It was another summer day of cooking and cleaning, however, Harry did not mind as much because chores meant that he was busy, and being busy kept his grief away for a few precious moments. Harry was starting breakfast when his aunt came in and started cleaning the counter tops and the table. It was her pre-breakfast scrub down while Harry cooked. It was a routine that happened every morning since the summer started. A routine they followed in silence as Aunt Petunia ignored Harry, only speaking to him if she caught him cooking something the wrong way.
What Harry didn't know, was that during these morning routines, Petunia was observing Harry. She noticed how depressed the boy looked when he came home from his school. He was so withdrawn and quiet. Harry made no attempt to cleverly insult Dudley back when he made fun of him or laugh when Dudley said something that Harry might had thought was dumb... not that her son was dumb..., Petunia thought guiltily as she wiped the counter top.
Petunia also realized that Harry did not even try to dodge Vernon's blows like he normally would during a punishment. Now, he just took the punches with a quiet demeanor, face void of any expression or feeling, as if he were just waiting for Vernon to finish. The boy did not even eat anymore, he was losing weight. He only played with the little food he was given until it was time for him to clear the table. She knew something must had happen at that school, something serious and important to affect her nephew this way. Despite her dislike she showed to him, deep inside, Petunia did care for Harry. For how could she not? He was her sister's son. She raised the boy with only neglect and abuse, truly hating him for being just like his mother, but now as the years passed, her hate was starting to fade. Petunia was starting to feel some sympathy and somewhat protective towards her nephew because he was all she had left of her sister, but it wasn't enough for her to admit she might actually love him as her own son. These new feelings towards Harry upset and confused Petunia so much that she was ashamed, so she only pretended to hate Harry in front of Vernon and Dudley, because she still wanted more for her own son. She did not want Dudley to go through the same thing Petunia went through as a child, when her sister went off to that school.
Despite her mixed feelings, Petunia was indeed worried for Harry. She knew her nephew was a strong kid and that he was always fighting against the world. No matter what, Harry always managed to stay above water throughout the hard life he has had... but now…, Petunia sighed as she wiped the table. It seemed as if Harry had lost his fight and now he was drowning...
Harry began to set the table and serve the food when Vernon came in with the morning paper. Petunia served her husband a cup of coffee before she sat down. Her Dudleykins came into the kitchen, managing to shove his cousin hard in the ribs before sitting down to his plate of food and began eating. Petunia was so proud of her son for eating and keeping up his strength. To her displeasure, however, she noticed how Harry was only nibbling on a piece of toast, his face tinged with green, as he waited for Vernon to give him his list of chores.
"What are you doing today, Dudders?" Vernon asked as he unfolded his newspaper.
Dudley shrugged, "I might go to Piers' house, I dunno," he mumbled with his mouth full of food.
"That's it, Dudley! Spend as much time as you can with your friends, being popular is very important at your age! It is how you make connections. And connections is what will help you in your future. Connections and popularity and money, the three keys to your success, son, I hope your listening. It is very important!" he said, then glared at Harry, who gave up trying to eat his piece of toast. Vernon seemed annoyed that the boy wasn't paying attention like Dudley or looking at all angry at his glare.
Petunia, noticing her husband's glare, snapped, "start washing the dishes!" only to save the boy from a punishment. Harry nodded and stood up, collecting dirty dishes and began washing. After mindless small talk and gossip on Petunia's part, breakfast was over. Dudley left to watch T.V and Vernon began writing down a long list of chores for Harry before leaving to work.
The day dragged on for Harry as he painted the garden fence, weeded the garden, mowed the lawn, cleaned out the shed, washed the windows, pruned the roses, vacuumed every carpet inside the house, scrubbed down the entire bathroom and helped his aunt with preparing dinner. He was so tired, that after he cleaned his room, he threw himself on his bed and instantly fell asleep.
It wasn't long until Harry's nightmares began.
He can see the shapes of two people in the shadows. Their wands pointed at each other, the red and green light coming from the wands blinded him. They were dueling. Harry recognized that laugh. That high pitched, crazy laugh, it belonged to Bellatrix Lestrange.
No, they cannot duel! Harry thought. Sirius is going to die!
He ran down the steps towards his godfather.
"Sirius!" he shouted. "Sirius!"
But an invisible force held Harry back and before he knew it, Sirius was falling with that blank, empty, look in his eyes. Bellatrix's laughter rang throughout the room, filling Harry's ears, until that was all he heard. It drove him crazy as he fought viciously to go after his godfather.
"Sirius!" Harry shouted, waking up with a start. His whole body was shaking as he looked around his room. He couldn't figure out why it hurt so much to breathe. Harry couldn't remember why he was back at Privet Drive. He was supposed to be with Sirius at Grimmauld Place!
The light came on in Harry's room, startling him even more. He didn't even notice that his Aunt Petunia had come into the room until she sat next to him on the bed. She put her hand on his forehead, checking to see if he was ill, but he was just pale and clammy, and his skin was breaking out in a cold sweat.
"Dudley," she muttered. "Go downstairs and bring me a paper bag. Do not wake up your father," she whispered gently. Harry didn't see Dudley. He only heard his footsteps, the door opening and closing, as his cousin followed Aunt Petunia's orders without complaint for the first time ever.
"Just breathe slowly, Harry," she whispered. "In out, in out."
Harry tried to follow her directions and control his breathing, but he couldn't. He felt like his heart was going to explode. And all he could see, was Sirius' blue eyes before he fell inside the veil.
It wasn't long before Dudley came back with the paper bag.
"Thank you, popkin, now go back to bed," Aunt Petunia said, as she sat Harry up.
Dudley looked as if he wanted to complain, but she gave him a stern look. Dudley frowned and left the room. She put the paper bag to Harry's face and instructed him to breathe inside it. After a while, he was able to breathe again.
"Can you tell me what brought this on, Harry?" she asked.
Harry gave her a look of surprise. He didn't know why his aunt was acting so nice. Why she was acting like she cared for him all of sudden. She even addressed him by his name and not the words, "him" and "boy". He suddenly grew very suspicious. He didn't trust her. He wasn't going to go and spill out all his grief to the woman who made his childhood a living hell!
"I'm fine," Harry said giving her back the paper bag. "Thank you for this, I'm okay now. You can go back to bed."
Aunt Petunia frowned and Harry knew he wasn't going to get away that easily.
"Listen, I know I haven't been the best aunt to you. I know I made you sacrifice a lot as a child, but I wouldn't be lying if I said, I'm worried about you."
Harry gaped at her. What happen to his aunt? Pigs must be flying outside his bedroom window, if Aunt Petunia just admitted that she was worried for him. Worried for the nephew she despised because of the jealousy she held against her sister, Harry's mother.
"You don't have to worry. I'm fine. I just had a nightmare. Everyone gets them."
"Not every night for three weeks," Aunt Petunia stated.
Utterly surprised and caught off guard at Aunt Petunia's words, Harry only looked at her. He knew he was always talking in his sleep or shouting out from his nightmares, but he always assumed that no one heard. Due to the fact that no one ever came in to yell at him for making too much noise in the middle of the night.
"I'm sorry… I didn't mean to wake you," he muttered as he laid back down, showing his aunt that he was ready to go back to bed.
"Can you tell me what your nightmares are about? Perhaps It could help. I've heard talking about nightmares can sometimes prevent them from reoccurring."
That was the last thing he wanted to do!
"It's a long story, Aunt Petunia, and it's … it's complicated. You really don't understand. You don't understand the wizarding world. You don't understand the war we are in and the lives that are lost all because of me! This whole thing is because of me. And the bloody prophecy… and the whole world is on my shoulders and it's… it is too much." He hadn't realized that he was sitting up again and tears started to flow down his cheeks. Harry wiped them away in frustration, not wanting Aunt Petunia to see him cry. He never let his aunt or uncle see him cry. Not since he was four but for some reason he couldn't stop. He couldn't stop! As he wiped more of the treacherous tears away, Harry realized he was supposed to be having this conversation with Sirius and not his aunt. Sirius was the only one who would've understood and he wasn't here!
Petunia couldn't help but lay a hand on shoulder. She wanted to comfort him, but didn't know how. She felt awkward and was unsure of what to say to him. She wished her sister were here to help this child. Harry needed a mother, or someone who loved the boy as a son. That was something Petunia never felt with him and so she couldn't be the one to offer such comfort to him. She had never seen him break down like this. He was so vulnerable. It worried her, for Harry always held everything inside.
"The war isn't your fault, especially the lives that are lost. I know I don't understand your world, but I do know enough to understand that none of it is your fault. All those lives were lost because of that horrible wizard that killed your parents. Their deaths were out of your control. You were only a baby."
"If only I've listened to Ron and Hermione. If only I've just listened, then he would still be here!" Harry shouted out, he rubbed his eyes, trying to stop crying. Petunia could see he was trying to calm down, trying to reign back in his emotions that were spilling out of him.
He then looked at her hand on his shoulder and flinched, shaking it off and shouting, "Don't touch me!"
Petunia looked at him, taken aback by his sudden anger. She was about to reprimand him for his disrespect, but he suddenly let out a gut wrenching sob, his body shaking uncontrollably. She wondered what he meant. Who left him? She knew Harry didn't mean to say that. She knew he was fighting hard to keep it all inside still. Harry didn't just want to talk to her, he couldn't talk to her. After so many years of emotionally neglecting him, Harry grew up knowing that expressing his emotions was a huge NO for him. He grew up knowing if he was ever hurt, in pain or afraid, going to his aunt and uncle was against the rules, they did not want to hear it or be bothered. Petunia hated herself for that.
"Who did you lose?" she whispered. "It's okay, you can tell me what happened."
Harry took a deep breath and wiped his face, trying to take back control of his emotions. "Sirius...," he choked out before he started crying harder. "I want to go with him!"
Petunia tried to get him to say more, but Harry had shut down. He wasn't going to say anymore.
What about Sirius? Where did he go that Harry couldn't follow?
She believed that man was Harry's godfather. She wondered what happened to him as she made Harry lay down and go back to sleep. She could see him still fighting back his tears, holding everything in and she knew that wasn't healthy. She wanted him to cry, scream or hit the wall, throw things across the room! Anything that will release his pain. This was her fault he was so depressed and closed in. She knew only one thing could've happened to Sirius that would make her nephew act like this. Something so horrible that she couldn't even say it out loud to him. Petunia didn't have too. She knew her guess was correct as she watched Harry fall back to sleep. Everything made so much sense now that she knew. Harry's increasing depression, his change of attitude, his eating and sleeping habits.
Everything fits together now! Petunia thought, pulling the thin blanket over her sleeping nephew, and that was when she saw them...
She let out a short intake of breath and gently held out Harry's arm to get a better look. She couldn't believe what she was seeing. Long lines of fresh cuts on the underside of his left arm. And aside from those, there were visible scars, indicating that Harry had been doing this to himself for a while. It looked like it was done with a small knife. She couldn't believe he was in this much pain to start cutting himself. She knew he had come back from school depressed. She saw the signs of nightmares and loss of appetite but she never knew it was that bad. Harry never showed signs that he was falling this hard.
She couldn't believe her nephew would hurt himself like this! He was practically committing suicide the way he wasn't taking care of himself. What if one of those cuts were to get infected? What if Harry went too far one day? Petunia shuddered at the thought. She had to do something! She couldn't let Harry hurt himself like this again. She gently laid his arm back down, studying her nephew's sleeping face. Even in sleep, the boy looked stressed.
She instantly regretted all those years of dislike she showed to him. Perhaps if she had once shown to her nephew that she had cared, then maybe, it would had prevented him from hurting himself. If she hadn't emotionally detached herself from him, then maybe he wouldn't have a hard time opening up. This was a cry for help, she knew Harry didn't really want to die! Is that what he meant when he said he wanted to go with Sirius? He wanted to die too?! This was serious! This was more than Harry just being depressed, so much more and Petunia knew she had screwed up. She screwed up by being too blind by her jealousy and grief for Lily to see the signs. As she thought about what she should do, Petunia decided to leave the room so she won't wake the sleeping teen. She made sure the scars were hidden underneath his sleeve before she switched off the lamp, quietly leaving Harry's room.
Petunia couldn't go back to sleep, so she went downstairs and started mopping the kitchen floor. She loved cleaning. Not just for the satisfaction of killing the germs and filth but for the rhythmic mindless motion of the task. And that is what she needed, as she tried to think of a way to contact help for Harry.
She couldn't just call the headmaster at the school or even pay him a visit. She had no idea where the school was. Then a memory came to mind, a memory when she was a child, maybe twelve or thirteen. After Lily had gotten her acceptance letter to that school, Petunia had written a letter to the headmaster, secretly using Lily's new owl.
Once Petunia finished up the mopping, she pulled out some paper and a pen and began writing to the headmaster. She wrote about Harry's depression and how worried she was for his life. Since Harry was asleep, she'll be able to use his owl to send the letter. She knew the headmaster would probably be upset at her neglect in caring for the boy, but this time she was not afraid of his anger. She had to be brave, she had to own up to her mistakes. She had to do this for not only Harry's life, but for the memory of her sister.
A/N: For those of you who are reading this story, this chapter has been rewritten. I will be editing and rewriting the other chapters as well, so at times the chapters might not match to what I've wrote in previous chapters. If you have any questions, please ask! I'll make sure to answer them =)
This story is set to the summer after the fifth book The Order of the Phoenix if you haven't already guessed it. I hope you liked this first chapter and let me know what you all think!