Disclaimer: I do not own the original canon nor am I making any profit from writing this piece. All works are accredited to their original authors, performers, and producers while this piece is mine. No copyright infringement is intended. I acknowledge that all views and opinions expressed herein are merely my interpretations of the characters and situations found within the original canon and may not reflect the views and opinions of the original author(s), producer(s), and/or other people.
Warnings: This story may contain material that is not suitable for all audiences and may offend some readers. As a special warning, this story references the internal dialogue of an abused child. Please consider personal triggers prior to and while reading.
Summary (Knowledge is a Rose): When Harry discovered that he had a name, he clung to that information and all that it entailed. After learning more information about his past, nothing and everything changed.
Author's Note(s): This piece was written for the Houses Competition on the FFN Forums.
The Houses Competition Information:
Prompts: Heartbreak [Emotion]
Word Count: 1368
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Knowledge is a Rose
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"Knowledge is dangerous. Once you know something, you can't get rid of it. You have to carry it. Always." – Samantha Shannon
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"Harry Potter," he whispered to himself as he watched his teacher writing something on the blackboard. That was the name that Miss Thatcher had made his during roll call this morning. It was much better than what Aunt Petunia called him, when they were within the confines of their home. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Marge simply called him the boy, or in the case of Aunt Marge, the pup or whelp. Aunt Petunia's name for him was freak and even though he didn't know what it meant exactly, the way that her lips would curl and her nose would wrinkle, he was fairly sure that it was something bad. But Harry Potter sounded like a real name—like he was just the same as Dudley Dursley or Piers Polkiss. He whispered the syllables again, so quiet that he was certain that he wouldn't be heard even if the other children in the class hadn't begun to excitedly chatter as they grew bored sitting still.
He had a name.
He had a name.
Later that night, locked in his cupboard, he traced the syllables again. It hurt to move his mouth because his bottom lip had split open when Aunt Petunia had punished him for drawing attention to himself at school—first by not answering the roll and later by asking unnecessary questions. It hurt to say the words, but at the same time, it soothed something deep within his chest. So he whispered his name like it was a prayer.
He was Harry Potter, not boy or whelp or freak. Someone out there had cared about him enough to give him an actual name like a normal boy. He was Harry Potter. He was Harry Potter. He was Harry Potter and maybe, once upon a time, he had mattered to someone. He closed his eyes and said the words again. He was Harry Potter and he was not a freak.
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He couldn't breathe no matter how desperately he tried to gulp the air. No matter how hard he wished, Mrs. Rivers' previously golden hair stayed the bright greenish-blue it had suddenly turned while the Year 3 teacher had been yelling at him for something Dudley had done. He couldn't have done it. That was impossible. He was Harry Potter and he was not a freak. He shut his eyes against the proof that something had been done and repeated his mantra.
He was Harry Potter. He was not a freak. He was Harry Potter, not a freak.
It did nothing to fix the teacher's hair. It did nothing to restore his recess library privileges, meaning he would be stuck hiding in the bushes for the foreseeable future. It did nothing to let him breathe around the terror he felt at the knowledge that the school had to tell Aunt Petunia. This wasn't regrowing his hair overnight or shrinking an ugly jumper—something that happened within the relative privacy of the walls of Number Four. This was in public, where people could see.
He was Harry Potter. He was Harry Potter. He was not a freak.
Later, as he sat alone in the dark cradling his arm, he couldn't breathe for other reasons. His ribs ached if he laid down flat—which was why he leaned against the rough boards that made up the backmost wall of his cupboard. It had been years since he had last cried, having learned the uselessness of tears long before entering school. Yet he still found himself biting hard enough to taste blood on his fist to silence himself. It all hurt so much and not just physically.
In his mind, he chanted the familiar promise that had borne him through the years of hiding in libraries and purposefully flunking tests or skimping on his essays. He was Harry Potter and he once mattered to someone enough for them to give him an actual name just like all the other kids. He was Harry Potter. He was Harry Potter and not a freak.
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He didn't know when the apathy set in completely, when he stopped panicking at the suggestion of anything abnormal or freakish. The incidents would happen regardless of whatever attempts he made to stop them and while the flashy things were rare, the smaller ones were common enough that they were just a part of life—like cooking breakfast for the Dursleys or never turning in homework. They happened; Harry would be punished; and then he would heal before the cycle turned 'round upon itself.
It was a never-ending wheel and he was the butterfly being crushed by its rotation.
He learned to just make do with whatever he got—food, clothing, water—and when he didn't get those things, he learned how to do without silently. After missing a few weeks of school following the stupid jumping to the roof of the school incident, he also learned to stop hoping that someone would notice that the Dursleys really didn't like him. If he looked at happy families interacting lovingly with each other with a heart bursting with bitter longing, then no one needed to know. He made do with what he got and was grateful for those scraps. That included heartbreak.
Through those long, dark years, he held tight to his little mantra, cold comfort that it was. He was Harry Potter. He was not a freak. Once upon a time, someone—and they weren't drunks even if they died in a car wreck—loved him enough that they gave him a name, just like a normal boy. He was Harry Potter and it didn't matter how many incidents there were because he was not a freak.
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It should have been wonderful.
It's not every day a complete stranger breaks down a door to deliver a letter directly while also bearing a small feast for a midnight tea spread. Then the next morning was a whirlwind of travel and banking and shopping. When Hagrid began to discuss getting an owl, Harry was quick to redirect him away from living creatures. Thank goodness that the huge man believed his story of Aunt Petunia having allergies. While he would have gladly accepted any punishment to himself for bringing an unauthorized animal home, he didn't think he could stomach what said animal would face.
Diagon Alley was undeniably magical. Everywhere there was something floating or changing colors. The smells were different, weirder than anywhere he had ever been. There were pockets of new languages being spoken and even when people were speaking the Queen's Speech, the terms and phrases made it seem alien. He felt like he had entered a whole new world, wholly apart from the one where he had been raised.
'Yer a wizard, Harry.'
It should have been wonderful, learning that magic was real and he could use it.
All he could think about was how Aunt Petunia had been right all this time.
The second bedroom was too big that night. The mattress was too soft. The bedding was too scratchy when he buried himself under it all, wishing he could bury the hurt ripping at that deep spot inside his chest. For the first time in years, he was gasping for breath, torn between the intense need to give voice to the pain before he died from it and the silence he was trained to keep for survival. His heart was breaking; his soul was shattering. The air under the blanket was hot and moist from his bony body. His fingers were tangled together in a fierce knot that he pressed against his chapped lips as he forced the altered prayer through his mind.
He was Harry Potter and he was a freak. He was loved once, enough for a name but not enough for his parents to make arrangements for him in case they died during the war that was happening. His name was Harry Potter and people believed he was incredibly powerful because he didn't die like normal people had. He was Harry Potter and he was a freak even to the other freaks.
He didn't want a name anymore.
He was Harry Potter anyway.