An Unhealthy Escape

A/N: Hello! I am so sorry! I know it has been way too long! First I had a serious case of writers block, then I started high school. I know those are lame excuses, but I'm hoping you'll forgive me since I'm posting a new chapter! I promise that I have NOT forgotten about this story, and that I shall continue to update it, even if there is a long time between updates. I will let you know if I plan on abandoning the story. I hope that anyone who is still reading this enjoys it! Milo.

Chapter 17

The last week of the summer holidays seemed to fly by at an alarming rate to the inhabitants of number 12 Grimmauld Place. With Harry's accident and the fallout from the shocking revelations that had followed everybody had certainly been kept busy. Much to the relief of Harry and Ginny, the adults seemed to have given up trying to talk to them; for the rest of the summer at least. Neither of them were stupid enough to believe that the interrogations were over, but nevertheless, they were beyond glad that they seemed to be taking a more tactful approach this time around.

As was usual in Weasley household, the residents at the Order Headquarters woke on the morning of September 1st to utter mayhem. Ron was running around trying to stuff forgotten items into his trunk as Hermione gave him her standard lecture on disorganisation. The twins had decided that instead of carrying their trunks down the stairs, they should simply levitate them instead; this seemed a good idea until Fred's flying trunk knocked Ginny down the stairs. Sirius of course was adding to the pandemonium, tearing through the chaotic hallways in dog form, skidding around corners and running into anyone unfortunate enough to try to walk past him. While annoying, it did provide some comic relief when Sirius ran head first into a wall.

Harry and Ginny stood with Remus the kitchen doorway, watching on calmly as the rest of the house descended into madness. They had tried having a conversation, but over both Mrs. Weasley's loud protests at her boy's antics and Mrs. Blacks complaints about the so-called scum that now infested her once Noble House, it was rather impossible.

Finally, when everyone was ready the group of teens exited the dark gloomy house along with Molly, Tonks, Remus and, despite everyone's protests, Snuffles. Harry thought the muggles must think them all mad. First there was the Weasley twins playing rather loud and boisterous game of catch with a bright red Quaffle, then Tonks with her bubble-gum pink spiky hair and of course Sirius who was chasing butterflies up the street much to Harry and Ginny's amusement. Ron was arguing loudly with Hermione about whether as a prefect he was allowed to take points from Slytherins simply for being placed in the wrong house. His main points seemed to be 'snakes are slimy' and 'Malfoy is a git'.

It took the strange group about twenty minutes to reach king's Cross on foot where they met Mad-Eye, who was wearing a tilted bowler hat to cover his magical eye and pushing a trolley laden with all six trunks, two owls and Crookshanks who could be heard hissing angrily from inside her basket. All of the teens had to resist the urge to laugh at Mad-Eye's ridiculous hat. They weren't sure that his eye wouldn't draw more attention. Tonks and Lupin helped everybody stuff their things into an empty compartment before returning to where Molly had just finished giving all the children at least three hugs each.

"Ginny," Molly said anxiously while everyone else was distracted. Ginny's cheeks tinged pink and she bowed her head; she knew what was coming. She was still upset that her family knew about her secret. Having her parents constantly fuss over her and worry about her was probably the most humiliating thing she had ever experienced in her life.

"Look after yourself," Molly pleaded. "Your father and I will be coming to visit every fortnight to see how both of you are doing, and Sirius is going to be staying at Hogwarts for the year," she continued. Ginny looked up at her mother excitedly.

"Sirius is coming?" she beamed.

"Yes," her mother answered. "And don't you let him fill your head with his nonsense about pranks and mischief!" Molly warned sternly, waving a finger in her daughter's face. Ginny simply gave her the mischievous yet innocent smile she had perfected when she was four and the twins started letting her take part in their pranks. Their other brothers had no interest in the fine art of trouble making, as the twins had quickly realised, so they had turned to their baby sister in the desperate hope that at least she would follow in their footsteps. The two had been delighted to find that their sister shared their love for pranks, although she didn't like to cause constant mayhem like they did.

Molly gave Ginny one more hug before letting her go. She then turned to Harry, giving him his fifth hug since they had arrived on the platform.

"I never thanked you Harry, for what you've done for Ginny," she said to a very embarrassed Harry. He glanced around quickly to see that the others were all immersed in their own conversations.

"Really Mrs. Weasley, it's nothing. You don't have to thank me. She's done a lot for me too," Harry muttered shyly.

"I know dear," Mrs. Weasley chuckled. "You both look after each other at Hogwarts okay?"

Harry nodded meekly before saying a hurried goodbye to everyone else and climbing aboard the train mere seconds before it rolled lazily out of the station, whistle blearing loudly, effectively blocking out the din of crying parents, screaming siblings and laughing children. Harry sighed as he turned away from the window.

For the first time since he was eleven years old, harry didn't feel the same rush of excitement at the fact that he was going back to Hogwarts. He never felt excited about anything anymore. He never felt happy or content either. He was always… sad, he guessed. But he never felt sad, just sort of like nothing mattered anymore. It was a hard feeling to explain really, he thought. It was like he couldn't feel anything; like no emotions could get through the invisible barrier he had constructed around himself. He was numb. That was one of the reasons he cut… the pain reminded him that he was still alive. That there was still a person inside the empty shell he had unwillingly become.

Harry was brought out of his daze by a loud explosion. Ron sat in the middle of the compartment, surrounded by tattered cards with a soot blackened face and no eyebrows. Harry couldn't help but laugh at the dopey look of shock on his mate's face. He heard Hermione and Ginny join in. Ron scowled at them before casting the spell that would regrow his eyebrows and unceremoniously stuffing the well-used cards back in their box.

The rest of the train ride passed without incident. Malfoy and his lackeys payed the friends their usual visit, but quickly left after realising that no one was taking any notice of them. In fact the closest they got to an insult was when Harry flipped them the finger and shut the compartment door in their face, locking it with a complicated charm he had taught himself when Sirius had raided his room over the holidays; needless to say, it could not be undone with a simple 'Alohomora'. They seemed to get the message.

Everything continued as normal until the four teens reached the carriages. Harry froze when he saw the carriages, which were being pulled by large skeletal horses with shining coats black as midnight.

"W-what are they?" Harry stammered, his wide green eyes fixed on the terrifying creatures that were harnessed to the front of the usually horseless carriages.

"What are you talking about Harry?" Hermione asked. The other three were staring around in confusion, trying to find what had caught Harry's eye.

"Those things… pulling the carriages," Harry said looking at his friends. They really were being quite daft in his opinion. How could they possibly not notice several large winged horses standing right in front of them?

"Harry, nothing's pulling the carriages," Hermione told him. "They're pulling themselves like always." Hermione, Ron and Ginny were now looking at him as if they were questioning his mental stability… well more so than before anyway.

"What do you mean? They're right there!" Harry cried, reaching out hesitantly to pet the strange creature. It turned its great head and looked at him with eyes of pure white; they were rather creepy really.

"Harry there's nothing there," Hermione said again. "Let's just get in the carriage." The other two followed her, casting hesitant glances at Harry. Harry sighed and climbed into the carriage behind them. Ginny silently looped her arm through his and grabbed onto his hand, resting her head gently on his shoulder. Harry didn't mention the creatures again.

The start of year feast passed in a blur for Harry; he couldn't keep his mind off the strange creatures pulling the carriages. What were they? And why couldn't anyone else see them? He did manage to pay attention to the new DADA teacher's speech, however, and didn't need Hermione's whispered exclamation to figure what it meant; the Ministry was interfering at Hogwarts. He also noticed that Hagrid was conspicuously missing from the head table, and had been replaced by a strangely familiar man with short brown hair and sharp facial features.

It wasn't the hair and features that seemed familiar though; Harry was fairly certain he'd never seen this man in his life. But there was something about the stormy grey eyes, which seemed so cold and haunted yet so full of laughter and mischief, that reminded Harry of someone. He just couldn't figure out who. Soon enough Dumbledore introduced the new Care of Magical Creatures teacher.

"Hagrid has unfortunately had to take a break from teaching. He is off somewhere in the South of France taking a well-deserved break," Dumbledore announced, his eyes lingering for a fraction of a second on Harry and his friends. They got the message; Hagrid was away on Order business. "However, Professor Stanley O'Connor has agreed to fill in for him while he is gone, and will continue on as Hagrid's assistant when he comes back." The man who seemed so familiar to Harry stood as polite applause filled the Great Hall. Harry looked over and frowned as he saw Ginny grinning and waving at the man.

"Who is he?" Harry asked curiously.

"You'll see," was his girlfriend's cryptic answer.

"Now," Dumbledore continued "prefect's please lead the first years to their dormitories. Now off to bed!"

"Hermione, Harry and I have to go see someone. What's the password?" Ginny asked hurriedly before Hermione went off to help the first years.

"The passwords 'mimbulus mibletonia'. Where are you going?" Hermione asked suspiciously.

"Just to see someone," Ginny answered evasively. "You should probably go and help Ron." Harry, Hermione and Ginny turned around to see Ron trying to round up all of the first years.

"Oi! Midgets! Yeah you, over here!" he screamed. Harry and Ginny burst out laughing as a look of horror crossed Hermione's face before she rushed off to stop Ron from insulting the poor eleven-year-olds.

Ginny dragged Harry through the mass of Hogwarts students fighting to get out of the Great Hall.

"Ginny, where are we going?" Harry called. He got no answer. Ginny grabbed his arm and dragged him all the way up to the head table.

"Hello Professor O'Connor!" she greeted the new professor cheerily. Harry stared at him in confusion, still trying to figure out where he had seen those eyes before.

"Hey firecracker," he laughed. "How did you know who I was?" the Professor answered. Harry's eyes widened in recognition; only one person dared call Ginny firecracker.

"Mum told me you were coming this year," Ginny said.

"Wait… you're going to be a professor? You?" Harry asked. Their new professor looked slightly offended.

"Why, you think I won't be a good professor?" he asked.

"Not unless you'll be teaching a class on how to be a nuisance to all the other teachers in the school," Harry retorted. The new professor burst into laughter.

"Whatever Kid," he said ruffling Harry's hair. Harry grinned; having Sirius at Hogwarts was going to be great.

+SBHPSBHPSBHPSBHPSBHPSBHP+

Harry sat alone in his dorm later that night. It was funny; even here at Hogwarts, the closest thing to home he had ever known, he couldn't shake the loneliness and depression that he felt. Being here, back at Hogwarts, just reminded him of Cedric. It wasn't right, the way his life had been taken from him, how he had been taken from his friends and family. And it was all his fault.

Logically, Harry knew that he couldn't have known that the cup was a portkey. But Harry found his brain wasn't paying much attention to logic at the moment. If he had taken the cup himself Cedric would have lived. He was a murderer. He had taken a life by insisting that they take the cup together. It was his fault… all his fault. He was the one that deserved to die. Not Cedric. Not his parents.

Harry couldn't help the tear that ran down his face as he hastily opened his trunk, trying not to wake the other boys. He took out a small wooden box from his trunk. It was locked with the same locking charm he had used on the compartment door on the train; only his magical signature could unlock it. Harry could open the box easily, but if anyone else tried it would stay firmly shut, no matter how many unlocking charms, blasting hexes or reductor curses they used on it.

During the holidays Sirius, heavily disguised of course, had taken him into muggle London so that he could buy some new clothes. When harry had spotted a pharmacy nearby, he had asked Sirius if he could quickly duck into the bathroom where he hastily donned his invisibility cloak and snuck into the pharmacy. He had purchased a large stack of muggle razor blades. They were larger than the ones the he had broken from the shaving razor. They were sharper than his potions knife as well.

Harry felt a rush of adrenaline as he sat back down on his bed and removed one of the precious razors from the small box. It gave him a thrill, holding something that could so easily end his life. That could so easily take him away forever; end all the pain and suffering and guilt. He loved it. But it also terrified him.

The blade itself wasn't what terrified him. He terrified himself. He was scared of what the deadly looking blade made him want to do. He was scared of the scars on his wrist and what they said about him. He was scared of the relief that he felt every time he spilled his own blood. And he was absolutely terrified of how good it had felt that one time back at Grimmauld Place when he had cut so deep he had passed out… it felt so good he wanted to do it again.

Harry slashed violently at his wrist, the blood pouring out of the wound immediately. By the time harry realized what had happened there was a large red stain on the bedspread and his scarlet pyjama pants had been dyed an even brighter crimson. Harry couldn't help but laugh. What would the rest of the wizarding world think if they could see their supposed saviour now?

He was nuts. He had gone completely mad. He wasn't just a little depressed; he had been a little depressed after the Philosopher's Stone incident. He had been a little depressed after spending a few weeks with the Dursleys. But it seems the Triwizard Tournament and the guilt and pain that had resulted from the tragic death of Cedric had finally been Harry's breaking point. He had lost it. Completely. He was utterly insane, and he knew it. But he hid it. After all, he was already being labelled a loony for claiming the Dark Lord was back, he didn't need to add to it.

His manic laughter had woken someone else in the dorm. Ron rubbed the sleep from his eyes and looked around for the source of the wicked cackling. He stumbled over to Harry's curtain, wondering to himself what the bloody hell his best mate could be doing at the ungodly hour of 2am. What he saw when he opened the curtains made him freeze in shock; Harry sat on his bed, laughing hysterically as blood poured from the self-inflicted wound on his wrist. Ron quickly shut the curtains and placed a silencing charm around the bed to avoid waking the other boys and ran out the door and through the portrait hole, ignoring the Fat lady's cries of protest.

"What on earth are you doing waking me in the middle of the night? You better have a good explanation for this young man!"

Ron ran through the halls, waking several portraits and running straight into several more. Finally after what seemed like forever he reached his Head of House's quarters. Ron's fist pounded on the door effectively waking Professor McGonagall.

"Mr. Weasley, what is the meaning of this?" she screamed as she opened the door, her lips thinner than Ron had ever seen them, and that included the time imposter Moody had turned Malfoy into a ferret. Ron stood there for a moment, panting heavily after his run.

"H-Harry…" Ron said, still breathing heavily. "Harry's hurt. He's gone mad. Completely lost it." That was all Ron managed to get out before McGonagall was running through the halls causing quite as much of a ruckus as Ron just had. She knew that Harry had been having difficulties. She knew that he had serious mental health problems, that he was self-harming, that he was abused. But nothing could have prepared her for the sight of her favourite student lying in his bed, still doubled over in hysterical laughter holding his injured wrist to his chest.

A/N: Hello! Sorry again that it's been so long. The next chapter will be up shortly (I know I said that last time, but that was before I was bombarded with assessments!) and I hope you enjoy this one. I am not very pleased with it myself, but please leave a review telling me what you thought! Milo.