Harry sat with his knees tucked up under his chin and peered out at the lake. The castle, reflecting in the glass like water, was swaying with the wind and Harry found it soothing. The windows that were lite in the castle bounced and rippled off the lake as if dancing to an ancient Celtic song that only the wind and water knew. He shifted his weight to his left butt cheek as his right had started to become numb. Harry laid his cheek on his knees and picked at the grass and letting the now uprooted blades be grabbed by the wind and blown away. Harry wished it could be that easy for him, to just uproot himself and let the wind take him away. How nice it must feel to be free.
The wind picked up and tossed the already winded Raven hair into Harry's eyes, he made no effort to brush it away. A tear trickled from the corner of his emerald green eyes. His eyes once held so much light and warmth, now they just were cold and dim. As if hope trickled out more and more with every tear that fell. He watched as the tear rolled down his nose and land in the dirt clearing he had created from pulling up the grass. He slowly laid on his stomach turning his head to the right and tucking his left arm under his head. He stuck his right index finger into the cold wet soil and began to make a very irregular circle. He didn't really know what he was drawing till it was already taking shape. He dug out 18 lines all vertically on top of the wimpy circle and moved his hand to just under the circle where he spelled out H-A-P-P-Y B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y. He was suddenly overcome with a memory of him lying on the dirt floor of a cold, miserable shack, drawing the same circle the same words the same lines but then it had only been 11 lines, Not 18. He remembered looking at Dudley's watch as the beeping he heard from the chubby wrist of his cousin told him it truly was July 31st. Harry stared at the same drawing in front of him 7 years later to the day. Although there were merely 6 hours left of his birthday he couldn't help feel the same way he had all those years ago. He brought his head up to hover over the crude drawing of the cake.
"Make a wish Harry." He sucked in a lung full of air and blew at the soil candles and it was the same wish as it had been 7 years ago, for someone to come and take him away.
He stared at the dirty cake, as if waiting for someone or something at this point to emerge from the soil and rescue him from this damn world. He had stayed at Hogwarts during the summer break at the request of the headmaster. Not really a request but more a guilt trip. Dumbledore wanted Harry to be the new Defense against the Dark Arts professor. As Harry was only 17 at the time of their conversation he would be able to teach that upcoming year after his 18th birthday. How fitting. The boy who killed Voldemort was to teach Defense against the Dark Arts. This was expected of him, no one questioned it.
Dumbledore seemed to have written how Harry's life was to play out for him long ago. Harry had no say in his own happiness. Every time he tried to tell Dumbledore that he wasn't interested in the DADA position, it was the same answer that sent Harry into a spiraling guilt trip.
"Harry, after all these years that I and several others have kept you alive, I would think that you owe us at least this." Dumbledore always seemed to make his eyes water a bit when he said this.
That statement never really bothered him; it was true he was alive because of several others that kept an eye on him. Dumbledore was not one of those people. The old man had known about the abuse in the Dursley's home. He knew that Harry had been starved, beaten, isolated, humiliated and had any once of self-worth destroyed these past 17 years in the Dursley's home but, had done nothing. It was because of Dumbledore that his parents were dead because he, Dumbledore, wanted Harry to be the savior of the wizarding world and to "teach" him how to be that savior.
The statement that finally landed Harry as the newest Professor of the Hogwarts staff was the one that hurt Harry the most.
"Sir, please, I'm not interested in the position. I've been surrounded by dark arts and trying to defend myself my whole life. I want to be as far away from it as possible. I want to be a dragon trainer." Harry was staring at his scarred hands as he spoke these words.
"Harry, people have died for you; their lives mean nothing to you? The least you could do to honor them would be to teach the next Hogwarts generation how to fight and how to win. You defeated Voldemort, conquered the dark lord. Honor those that have died in your name Harry and teach the students."
Harry watched another tear roll down his nose and into the dirt. He was a selfish bastard. People had died for him and he wanted to forget all that; run away and pretend he wasn't Harry Potter. Dumbledore was right. He had to honor those that had died protecting him. The little voice in his head that had seemed to have taken up vacancy was speaking once again.
"No one forced them to fight and they knew the dangers. They died because they chose to."
Harry pushed the voice away. Pushed it away to where all the other rational thoughts, voices and ideas were locked away in his mind. He was feeling more alone than ever.
But that's all Harry felt anymore was alone. Even in a crowded room surrounded by his friends he felt so alone. Another tear fell into the soil. How could he feel so alone in this world? This is the world where he was the boy who lived, the chosen one, the savior of the wizarding world. Everyone wanted to be his friend, wanted to say they knew the boy who defeated the dark lord. But no, no one really knew him, not even Ron and Hermione knew him, hell, Harry didn't even know who he was. How could anyone know him if Harry didn't even know himself. All he knew was that he was Dumbledores puppet. He didn't know the free feeling of thinking on his own.
"Potter, why in the name of all the four houses are you lying on the ground?"
The voice was distant to Harry. He heard Snape he just didn't have the strength or energy to pull out the happy-go-lucky-I'm-ok Harry mask. He was tired of playing happy Harry. He was tired of the pressure of this world and the muggle world. He was tired. Harry started to cry harder, he felt his body shaking from trying to control his sobbing.
"Potter, I asked you a question." Snape folded his arms across his chest and tapped his foot waiting for the cheeky reply from the Gryffindor. But it never came. Instead Snape saw the young boy's body jerk, and he heard a small gasp.
Thinking he was asleep Snape became irritated.
"Potter! Wake up or you will spend the rest of your summer break scrubbing toilets!" Snape threatened. A corner of his mouth turned into a slight grin at the thought of the boy scrubbing toilets. He knew he was no longer a student but the threat was still amusing to the old Slytherin.
Still there was no answer. Snapes arms dropped to his side in confusion. It was not like Potter to ignore him. Snape, with every curse known to mankind knelled down on his knees in the dirt to try and wake Potter. Snape leaned closer to Harry's face brushing the black hair that had fallen into his eyes away. The eyes that had held so much light and hope were dull and empty. Snape's heart ached. He knew that look. It was the look of loss, the look of pain, the look of giving up. That same look had been looking back at him in the mirror for 37 years.
"Harry?" Snape nudged him a little, nothing. "Where are you Harry?"
But it had been a question that needed no answer. Snape knew the place that Harry was in. How those eyes led him to the very tunnel of despair and anguish that Snape traveled to almost every night. Snape watched as the dull eyes followed the finger in the dirt. Snape twisted his head to see what the boy was scribbling in the soil. The boy was tracing Happy Birthday in the soil over and over again. A small frown formed on the hardened mans face. He looked back at the castle, knowing that friends had traveled far to see Harry. Even his blasted dogfather and his wolf mate had come to celebrate with him.
Snape shook his head. Not tonight, he would not put Harry through a parade of people demanding him to portray 'Harry Potter' he wanted Harry to not have to worry about letting the mask he wore so well start to slip. He pushed himself up from the ground, when had he laid down? Perhaps it was when he looked into Harry's eyes. He sat next to Harry close enough to let the young lion know someone was there but enough distance to not smother the boy. He did not need smothering right now, he just needed company. Severus knew that sometimes it was better for someone to sit in silence with you then to have them demanding you to come out of your sad, dark world or prying and begging to know what was wrong. Severus put his hand upon the boys head and stroke the Raven hair.
"I know Harry. You're tired" Snape softly said.
And just like that every tear Harry had ever held, fell, free flowing, God ugly sobs escaped his mouth. Tears that had been held for 17 years flooded his eyes and dropped into the soil that was quickly turning to mud. He was beaten, heartbroken and oh so tired.