"You have been taught how to duel, Harry Potter?" said Voldemort softly, his red eyes glinting through the darkness. The tip of the eerily familiar wand in his wand glowed bright green. Harry circulated through the number of curses and defensive spells he knew, not that any of them would help him now... now that he stood against the unblockable Avada Kedavra curse...
"Bow to death, Harry..."
He shifted across the tiny bed, his entire body perspiring. "I won't... I won't..."
"I said, bow," Voldemort said, raising his wand — and Harry felt his spine curve as though a huge, invisible hand were bending him ruthlessly forward, and the Death Eaters laughed harder than ever.
"No... I won't... I will not let you play with me. I won't let you kill Cedric..."
Harry woke upright, perspiring and completely desperate in anxiety and fear. The nightmares, they had not stopped at all. It had been the fourth night since he had returned from Hogwarts and he had barely gotten any sleep. The nightmares just did not allow him to have one. The moment he felt his eyelids droop, it would magically send him back to the memories of the graveyard, where he would have to bear it all over. Again and again.
This needs to stop. I will go insane if this continues.
He scrambled out of the bed and took out a piece of parchment from his trunk. Picking up one of the quills rolling off at the bottom, he scribbled a bit to check if it was working. It did.
I have been having these nightmares ever-
He stopped. What the fuck was he doing? When had any good ever come out by informing the Headmaster? He would perhaps tell him to keep his head down and report to him about the nightmares as he had done the previous year. Sirius? Sending him a letter, would simply mean sending them to Dumbledore. His mind went back to the letter he had received from his godfather.
"I know this must be frustrating for you... Keep your nose clean and everything will be okay. Be careful and don't do anything rash..."
Harry had decided that it was pot calling the kettle black.
Whom could he send it? Hermione? It would make no difference. The only person who was any worse was probably Molly Weasley. Hermione would instantly rant about reporting it to Dumbledore. For a moment, Harry wondered if his friends and family were his own or Dumbledore's. Ron? He snorted. That would be hilarious.
His mind wandered to the names of his friends. Ginny? He hardly knew her at all. Neville? Nope. The twins...
The twins. That would actually be a good option. While they had a penchant for pranking, the two were the most levelheaded people he had met. Besides, hadn't he generously given them a thousand galleons to jumpstart their joke shop? Perhaps they would be able to help. He took out another piece of parchment.
Fred and George,
How are you doing? Listen, I need some help and I would appreciate it if it stays between the three of us. I have been having constant nightmares and ever since I got home, and have not been able to get an ounce of sleep ever since. Every time I try to sleep, I am drawn to the night of the third task and have to watch and suffer seeing Cedric die and Voldemort torturing me.
Can you recommend anything that might help? Once again, please keep it within the two of you.
He looked up at his dearest and most precious friend, Hedwig who was staring at him with something like pity. He felt like rolling his eyes. Even his owl was feeling pity for him. He casually wondered how pitiful and hopeless he was. The feeling was bitter, but it was the truth.
I am hopeless.
"Hedwig, do you think you can deliver the letter to the twins? Make sure they are alone, and that you are not seen."
The bird bobbed its head, and flew out of its perch as it now sat on his arm, one limb forwarded to him to bind the letter to it. He did so, and with a wild hoot, the owl flew out of the window.
Harry watched her go. His mind wandered back to the memory of the graveyard. He remembered looking at the unblockable killing curse forming at the tip of Voldemort's mind. But that was not the main point. No, the main point of concern were the thoughts that had been in his mind on seeing the curse manifesting at the wand tip.
He remembered, as though from a former life, the dueling club at Hogwarts he had attended briefly two years ago. All he had learned there was the Disarming Spell, "Expelliarmus" and what use would it be to deprive Voldemort of his wand, even if he could, when he was surrounded by Death Eaters, outnumbered by at least thirty to one? He had never learned anything that could possibly fit him for this. He knew he was facing the thing against which Moody had always warned- the unblockable Avada Kedavra curse — and Voldemort was right — his mother was not here to die for him this time... He was quite unprotected.
He felt ashamed of himself. To think that he had almost felt sorry that his mother wasn't there to save him from the curse. Wish the people could see the Boy-who-lived then. Facing the killing curse and trying to remember spells and curses he might have picked up while breezing and splurging away time all these years... playing chess and chatting on Quidditch with Ron, focusing on things that were not really his concern...
The Boy-who-lived was a bloody loser. A bloody arsehole.
It had to change. He had to change. Ron's life was very, very different from him. Ron had family. He did not. Ron did not have an insane murderer try to kill him all his life. He did. Ron chose to jump into dangerous situations because it was an adventure. Harry had dangerous situations forced upon him all the time. Ron did not have to worry about being glorified one day, and shamed the next. Harry did.
Things have to change. I have to better, faster, stronger. Dumbledore might think that everything was all right and that I am safe as long as he is the one playing the card, but that is not it. Voldemort played with me... he mocked my useless skill, my parent's memory and me, and once again, I had to rely on luck to escape him.
He closed his eyes, willing rest and sleep to overwhelm him.
He shot his eyes open desperately. Something was very, very wrong.
The House at Number 12, Grimmauld Place was indeed the most desolate building one would have ever spotted in the area. However, there was a slight problem in that statement- people would not really spot it. For, while the wards made it practically invisible to muggles, the newly applied Fidelius charm vanished the memory of its existence from every mind on earth save the lucky few who knew the secret. Fred and George Weasley were two such gentlemen.
Okay, perhaps gentlemen was not the perfect word to describe them.
"I am going to apply the spray, George. The doxies should be flying towards you. Make sure the capture ward is working correctly." Fred yelled. George gestured him with a 'positive', as Fred sprayed the new liquid potion he had concocted. The mixture was supposed to make the doxies go all doozy, making them vulnerable for capture.
"And done." George exclaimed with delight. "Full sixty doxies in there. There is too much venom for two large barrels of nosebleed nougat."
"Don't forget the samples of extendable ears. We need the skin for that."
"Aye, my twin."
A flutter of wings distracted them from their mutual contemplation. Looking above, they found the gorgeous snowy owl they knew so well. "Blimey, that's ickle Harrikin's owl, isn't it?" Fred remarked.
"Seems like our investor has sent us a letter." George concluded as Hedwig perched lightly on his shoulder, extending her limb to which a piece of parchment was tied. Fred came over and slowly undid the binds as the parchment came out, releasing the bird which flew out instantly.
"Seems like she was in a real hurry?" Fred remarked.
"You reckon she has a date?"
"Check the letter."
Fred unfurled the parchment and moved towards George as the twins read the contents.
"Blimey, our little investor needs our help."
"Nightmares. Reckon a mind healer might work?"
George shrugged. "Mind healers are expensive."
"Who needs mind healing?"
"YAAAAA!" The two of them jumped in unison. From the doorway, Bill guffawed at their antics as he entered the room. "Sorry I overheard your conversation. Who needs mind healing?"
"What would you know about mind healing, big brother?" George asked.
"Has the resident Veela bird been teaching mind-healing to Wee-lee-um?" Fred added. Bill blushed. "Nothing like that. I just know some good mind-healers. That's all," he added in a defensive tone.
"So who is it?"
Fred and George looked at each other in unison. "You can't tell anyone." Fred warned. It was most unlike him, Bill mused. "Are you going to make me swear for it?" Bill suggested.
"YES." Came a reply in unison.
"The twin speech is very creepy." Bill muttered. "Very well, I swear on my magic not to reveal about what you two have shared with me. So mote it be." He paused. "Done?"
George nodded as Fred raised a privacy ward around them. Hesitating a bit, he began. "It's Harry."
Dear ickle Harrikins and our favorite investor,
We received your letter and we feel that you should see a mind healer. We even confirmed the fact with Bill (read Wee-lee-um) under oath, of course, and he says he knows somebody that can help. He says that he can help you out with it. He also told us to mention that the - something- is going to come and take you from your relatives to our place. (Hint! Hint!). He says that it will be sometime next week. Wee-lee-um says that it is better than you meet with that mind healer before this happens, and he will make sure you get the treatment that you want.
Do not contact. We will initiate contact when Bill is ready.
Gred and Forge.
Harry folded the letter that the twins had sent for him. Beside him, perched upon the cage was an angry Hedwig, hooting and glaring dangerously at the poor little owl that had come to deliver him the letter. He smirked.
"Come on, Hedwig. You know it only came to deliver the letter."
Hedwig balefully looked at him and stared.
"Don't give me that stare, young lady."
She barked twice.
"Yes, I know. I know I told you not to wait. You understand we can't let you be seen by the others, right?"
Hedwig flew up to his shoulder and gave him a tight slap with her feathers on the back of his head. He rolled his eyes, accepting the admonition without complain. The post owl saw this as its chance and fled for its life.
I need to sort things out. But first...
He took out one of the notebooks he had bought from Scrivenshafts last year, as well as the books on defense that he had gotten as gifts all these years. He chose one at random, and read the cover on top.
CONFRONTING THE FACELESS.
If I cannot sleep, I would rather utilize the time properly.
He opened the book and began perusing through it, the pages filled with illustrations of spells and their respective wand movements. Harry lifted up a fallen rod from the floor. It was one of the broken pieces from his second year, when he had broken through the window. As was obvious, the Dursleys had not cared to clean his room. Then again, the Dursleys hated seeing him alive in the first place. Not cleaning his room was much more... pedestrian compared to that.
He chuckled mirthlessly.
His eyes went to the contents section as he perused through the pages. Finding the section on fighting spells, his eyes settled on the one present on the very first point.
It was a powerful spell that could be used to break bones. Also known as the bone-breaker, it had another alternate and slightly powerful version - the bone shatterer, known as Ossis Disfringo. He wondered for a moment how his battle at the graveyard would have been if he had known these two spells. It would have been infinitely better than the disarming spell he used as if it was the only spell in his arsenal.
Then again, I have no idea how transforming needle into a napkin would help me in battle.
He checked through the entire spell list. There were fifteen spells in there. Using the steel rod, he performed the wand movement as the book mentioned, and then again and again, repeatedly until he could almost do it unconsciously. Fifteen powerful spells- a good combination of bone spells, severing hexes and exploding curses. He felt slightly more confident in the fact that there was actually a chance that he might live through it all.
At least, I won't die trying to stop the killing curse with a disarming charm.
He closed his eyes for a moment, and then opened them instantly. For some odd reason, his mind seemed to magically shift towards the memories of that particular night. It was odd. He had now seen the events of that night sixty-nine times so far, not that he was counting. Every time, he would watch Voldemort cruciate him, play with him, make a mockery of his pathetic dueling skills and then, shoot the killing curse towards Harry. That would follow with Harry raising his wand to cast the disarming charm, and then that golden spell thing, followed by the echoes of his parents would appear. He would then somehow break the golden spell thing, and escape the spells of the death eaters, collect Cedric's body and return to Hogwarts using the Cup.
It was all the same all over again.
Something was wrong with him, and he wanted to find out what it was.
Almost automatically, his right hand darted towards his wand, which lay on the table. Calloused fingers touched the holly wood, almost caressing it, welcoming the tinge of magic that would sing against his skin when he held his precious wand in his hand.
The problem was- the tinge of magic never came.
Harry shot up from the bed, holding his wand in his hand. For the first time, it felt like he was holding a piece of dead wood in his hands. It was still supple, yes, but something was missing, the familiarity... it was all gone. It was almost like...
His wand was dead.
What the fuck is happening to me?