Chapter 01 - The Breaking
Harry Potter stared at his hands, his entire posture rigid as he remembered over and over the events of the last school year.
"Kill the spare."
He shivered violently, feeling tears prickling at his eyelids as the words echoed in his mind over and over, as they had for the past week of the summer holidays.
He knew that he was breaking down, obsessing over his guilt at Cedric's death, but there was nothing he could do to stop it, merely flounder like a fish out of water as he spiralled deeper and deeper into despair. He was hardly eating at all, even with the meagre portions of food he was usually dealt at mealtimes. He just munched a few bites then left it, returning to his desolate recollections in his room or moving on to the chores he was set.
It wasn't really living, he had reflected to himself the day before, it was merely existing. It seemed somehow appropriate given that to live was to flaunt Cedric's death in the face of his guilt.
He sighed again and scrubbed his face with his hands, turning to the old and tattered shaving mirror that his Uncle Vernon had decided to 'gift' him with. His sallow-faced reflection stared back at him morosely, forcing him to take note of the changes that only one week had wrought on him. His skin was exceedingly pale, almost wax-like in pallor, with great bags under his eyes from lack of sleep and a thin sheen of sweat that reminded him of Snape.
Grimacing at the thought, he turned away from the mirror and returned
to staring at his hands as his brain began to slowly run through the small
pieces of evidence that he had been spotting since he had returned home.
Every day it felt like a piece of him had died, like sand slipping steadily through his fingers, or water in a leaky bucket. Each day his appearance grew less and less healthy, far quicker than it should have. He felt hollow, dead in a way that he had only heard of in books written by war veterans but was never allowed to read.
Slowly he raised his head to stare at his reflection again, trying to work up the desire to care. He remained that way, frozen, for several minutes before his head slumped in defeat. Bringing his hands up to cradle his head and feeling the lankness of his hair, Harry spoke for what seemed like the first time in years.
"Nothing," he croaked softly. After what seemed hours he levered
himself wearily to his feet and plodded over to the mirror, picking it
up carefully so as to avoid cutting himself on the sharp edge, which was
also the reason for Vernon's 'charity.'
Carefully he brought it up close to his face and peered into the emerald depths of his eyes, seeking something that he could not understand, yet searched for anyway.
Completely out of the blue, Harry suddenly had the urge to fly on his broom. Without thinking of the consequences, he quickly went over to his trunk and rummaged around until he found it. Fumbling slightly in his haste, he dropped it onto the floor.
Staring at it for a moment, Harry shrugged and held his hand out.
"Up," he commanded. The broom never even twitched. Blinking, he tried again with the same result. Three times he tried, each failing, until he gave up and reached to pick it up. Mounting it, he pushed up gently to just hover in place in the privacy of his room, yet only managed a tiny hop before landing on his feet again.
Harry sat down and stared at his pride and joy silently. Brooms did not just loose their magic overnight, or even in a week. They were made out of specially grown wood that was attuned to magic, then carved and carefully moulded with magic as all the different charms and spells were woven into the grain of the wood. A good broom lasted at least thirty years unless damaged or deliberately sabotaged. Harry could find neither of these when he inspected it. Even double and triple checking the broom yeilded no results. His broom was now an ordinary cleaning utensil.
Pondering the occurrences for a moment, Harry picked up his wand and studied it. He had to be honest with himself, he really could not even summon the feelings to care if he got expelled for misuse of magic. So thinking he pointed at his broom where it lay on the floor.
"Accio broom," he muttered dispiritedly. He was not surprised when nothing happened.
"It won't work," a young voice stated simply. Harry jumped,
almost falling off of his bed as he tried to find the speaker.
Perched on one of his pillows sat what appeared to be a young boy wearing blue robes, his face hidden in the deep cowl of his hood, only exposing the bottom of his tanned chin.
"What won't?" Harry retorted. The exposed lips curved into a smile.
"What you're trying to do," the boy answered.
"Magic?" Harry asked, the hollow feeling in his stomach suddenly churning horribly. The boy shook his head.
"That's not magic," the boy explained, a secretive smile dancing on his lips. Feeling impatient, Harry glared at the boy angrily.
"What do you mean, 'it's not magic'?" He growled, a part of him realising that this was the most animated he had been all week. The boy chuckled softly in response and leaned back against the wall.
"You'll see," he returned again. Harry opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted by the sound of the front door opening. Turning his head to the door to listen, Harry turned his head back to speak to the boy again, but found only empty air.
"What the hell is going on?" Harry muttered as a pensive frown grew on his face.
It would be several days before he remembered that he had not been in the least bit frightened of the boy, or even curious about how he had gotten into the house without his knowledge.
Harry opened his eyes and stared dully at the ceiling. It had been a week since he had been visited by the boy, and it had become the worst week of his entire life.
He couldn't do magic. Not one drop. Following the failure of the simple accio charm, Harry had begun attempting to cast stronger and more difficult spells, even going so far as to try the unforgivables, all with no response. When he had held his wand before, he always felt a certain connection to it, a comforting warmth that told him that it was his, that it belonged to him.
Now it felt like a hunk of hollow wood with a feather inside it.
Since that discovery four days ago, he had hardly moved, only getting
up off of the bed to go to the bathroom and grab the occasional meal when
he could no longer bear the cramps in his stomach from lack of food. That
had been twice, so far.
He didn't bother with his chores any more. He didn't see any point. If Voldemort managed to find him in the middle of a chore, what would be the difference between being there and here? If he couldn't even do any magic any more, it would be like trying to take on an avalance with a toothpick.
He hadn't been sleeping well either. If his dreams were not filled with the memories of the Tri-wizard tournament, then they were either plagued by the occasional dream of Death-Eaters and Voldemort's handiwork or filled with strange images that disturbed him, but he could make no sense of.
"It's not a good idea to just sit here, you know."
Lolling his head to the side, Harry saw the hooded boy again.
"Why? What's the point? I can't do magic any more." To his
surprise and no little anger, the boy laughed.
"You think it's funny?" He growled angrily. The boy shook his head in amusement.
"I told you that wasn't magic, didn't I? That's just parlour tricks." Harry felt forced to sit up, so he did, all the while staring at the boy incredulously.
"Parlour tricks? You call things like...Avada Kadavra or...the Imperius Curse parlour tricks!?" He glared angrily at the boy again, ready to continue until he saw the boy was no longer smiling.
"Yes, compared to what real magic is, that is what they and all the others are. Parlour tricks."
"So what's 'real magic' then?" Harry asked snidely as he tried not to think of how much he sounded like Snape. The boy smiled and touched his sleeve.
"I'll show you," he said.
The world rippled around them, and the small bedroom at number 4 Privet Drive was devoid of everything except the carpet that lined the floor.
A moment later, Vernon Dursley opened the door, ready to yell at his nephew for not completing his chores again, but found only an empty room.
"Boy?" He asked softly.
He received no response.