Hello and welcome to Rude Awakenings! This is a story I started writing a while ago and now, being a little older and I would like to think wiser, I have decided to go back and rewrite. I think my writing style really evens out in chapter 4, I hope you stick with me. So, without further ado, please enjoy!

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter and Co.

Chapter 1: Letters from Everyone

Harry woke again from another one of his nightmares. He'd been having the same reoccurring nightmare for the past month, ever since he returned to Number 4 Privet Drive and to his dreaded relatives the Dursley's.

Harry could not shake the images of Sirius falling through the veil, of Cedric's death in the graveyard, of Voldemort rising out of the cauldron and seeing his parents ghostly forms. He had stopped seeing the Department of Mysteries and was now seeing much worse.

He felt sick, his sleep had been fitful at best since the end of last school term. One good thing about Moody's threat to the Dursley's, he had access to his trunk with all his school things. He had all of his homework done already trying to get his mind off of Sirius' death, but when the homework ran out, he found himself thinking how stupid he had been. If only he would have remembered the mirror Sirius had given him before leaving Grimmauld place last year, or remembered that Professor Snape was a member of the Order of the Phoenix, he may still have the man that was as close to a father to him as he had ever known.

The Dursley's hadn't really spoken to Harry at all other than to tell him what chores to do or yell at him for one odd thing or another. He actually didn't mind the chores and did a better job than ever before. After all, anything to distract him from the pain of losing Sirus was worth doing.

He looked over at Hedwig's cage he had let her out last night and she still wasn't back. He hoped she was okay. He was not overly concerned as Hedwig always did seem to be a bit brighter and more observant than some of the other owls.

Harry began thinking once again about what he could have done differently, already knowing what he could have done, not been such a dunderhead and quick to play the hero, as Hermione had told him, he liked to play.

He checked his clock it was five in the morning. Harry remembered when sleep used to be a place of bliss for him, when dreams would take him away from his life with the Dursley's. Now Harry went about his day in a sort-of half daze.

It was Harry's sixteenth birthday. He expected to get letters from his friends but he wasn't all to looking forward to it. He knew what they would say. He could see them now.

"You mustn't blame yourself Harry."

"No one blames you."

He greatly appreciated them and knew how lucky he was to have such great friends, but he didn't want to hear more about Sirius' death on his Birthday. It was a Birthday after all, meant for celebrating birth, not to think about the day someone else had died. Not that his birthday had ever mattered before, why should it now? And really, he didn't deserve to be celebrating his life when his godfather was gone due to him.

He heard a familiar tapping on his window and as predicted there was the forecast of owls. Six tawny owls along with one snowy white owl, Hedwig, Harry's owl. He trudged over to the window and opened it to let them all in.

They all flew in and landed on Harry's bed. He relieved Hedwig of her burden first. It was from Hermione.

Dear Harry,

Happy Birthday! So how are you doing? It must be really hard for you. How are the Dursley's treating you? I hope they haven't been too harsh on you. If they are, remember, don't send mail for three days or send something to a member of the Order and tell them to come get you. We're here for you, Harry.

How are you doing on your homework? I've nearly completed all of mine.

Don't forget to keep in touch with your friends we all care about you so much. You mustn't blame yourself for what happened, Sirius died how he would have wanted to, protecting you.

Harry couldn't help but scoff a little here, he couldn't help but think he shouldn't be dead at all...

I hope you will find my gift useful. I think it will come in handy, especially now that the Ministry has acknowledged Voldemort's return.

Again Happy Birthday!

Love From,

Hermione

It was of course a book. It was called "The Never Ending Spell Book". There was a small note in the inside cover of the book, it dropped out as Harry flipped through the pages. He picked it up.

This book has many spells and adds new ones as they are registered with the Ministry. When we get back to school we can practice them together. Stay safe Harry!

Harry thought it probably was a good idea to learn some new spells. He needed to prepare, more than ever he wanted to rid the world of Voldemort.

He turned to the next owl and relieved it of its burden, as soon as he untied the parcel and the letter the owl took flight out the window.

This one was from Hagrid.

Dear Harry,

Happy Birthday! Only one more year until you become of age. Then you can have a little fun with those ruddy Dursley's. Just know that if you ever need to talk I'm here. I hope the Dursley's aren't starving you none. Either way I made you this. Olympe is helping me to improve my cooking. I made this meself, I never knew my cooking was bad.

You all always seemed to like it.

Hagrid

Harry opened the box from Hagrid. It was a package of rock cakes and it looked like Hagrid's cooking had improved. He picked one up and was amazed when he could actually break it in half. Harry and Ron had sometimes used the rock cakes for target practice after visiting Hagrid, he'd actually be able to eat them now. He smiled faintly at the memory and then set the cakes aside. He hadn't been eating much. The Dursley's would yell at him for eating too much no matter how little he ate, it didn't matter, he didn't have a desire for food anyway.

He moved on to the next owl. This owl left also when its load was untied. It was from Fred and George.

Hey Harry,

Since you funded us we decided to send you some free samples. Make sure to try some on Dudley, that pig cousin of yours. Hope you're doing all right. Obviously we have heard about what happened in the Department of Mysteries and we send along our condolences.

Business is booming at our shop. Feel free to stop by sometime and see us. Maybe you can sign photographs for us. Only joking, of course.

Fred and George

He unwrapped the twins' gift; there were a lot of different colored candies and other strange objects. Harry would have smiled but it brought back memories of the Triwizard Cup. Thinking about the winnings he gave the twins, he also remembered Cedric.

Harry quickly banished the image from his mind and moved onto the next gift that was from Ginny.

Dear Harry,

A very happy birthday to you! I'm sure you don't want to be reminded of what happened, but remember, I dealt with Tom in my first year and while I know that I can't possibly understand how you feel completely, I do to a certain degree. I found this at Grimmauld Place, I'm not sure how it got there, but I recall seeing you with it once before and thought you may like it back. It looks like a regular mirror but I thought it might mean something to you.

I hope to see you soon.

With Love,

Ginny

Harry opened the package that was wrapped in brown paper. It was the other mirror. The one that would have kept Sirius alive if Harry wouldn't have had such a one tracked mind at the time. He held it tight to his chest though. It did mean a lot to him.

He carefully set the mirror down on his nightstand and took another load off an owl's leg. It was by far the largest package of them all. Once Harry removed it from the owl it fluttered over to Hedwig's cage and wearily drank from her water dish. Hedwig watched with disgust at the owl. That was her water dish.

He opened the letter.

Harry,

This is a gift from Professors Dumbledore, McGonagall, myself and, by association, Professor Snape. Although, I'm afraid I must admit he is none too pleased by it.

I suspect your dreams have not been too pleasant as of late. This should help you sleep. If you ever need help or need to be rescued from the Dursley's just send word. No one blames you Harry. Professor Snape was reluctant to sign this but we convinced him in the end.

Sincerely,

Remus Lupin, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall, and a not so sincere Severus Snape

P.S: Sorry Harry, Severus insisted on signing that way if he were to sign at all. He really does send his care. -Lupin

No, I do not Lupin and do no think that you have anything but my deepest disdain and the only thing you have ever given me Potter is a headache from wasting my time and energy on you! - Snape

Do not worry of course he does Harry, not that you would really care, for I see that you both play an act of dislike. Oh, and your Firebolt is stored safely at the school and will be returned to you upon your arrival. - Albus Dumbledore

An 'act of dislike,' Harry couldn't help but roll his eyes, what was Dumbledore on about now? Harry couldn't stand the potions professor and it was quite obvious Snape reciprocated those feelings.

Harry opened the package to find four phials of Dreamless Sleep potion with a small note from Remus on dosage and usage. He couldn't help but to open one and sniff it, he wouldn't put it past the potions professor to slip a little something extra into his potions. Everything checked out to Harry, as he held it up to the light and it was the same shimmery purple color he had remembered taking in the infirmary after Voldemort's return. He sighed in relief, this would certainly come in handy.

He turned to the next small owl; it was Pigwidgeon, Ron's owl.

Hey Harry,

Happy Birthday, mate! Sorry about what happened. How are the muggles treating you? I know what I got you isn't much but money is a bit tight right now. Well, when isn't it around here really?

Hermione owled me about my homework. Can you believe she's almost finished? What am I saying? Of course she's almost finished I'm actually surprised she's not done already. Don't tell her, but I haven't even started mine yet. If she finds out, I'm sure I would get at least three feet of parchment from her lecturing me about 'responsibility' and how it's 'for your own good', blah, blah, blah. Actually, I don't think I would put it past her to send me a howler, then think what my mum would do when she found out! I don't think I could handle that, if I don't show up for start of term you know why now. Well, I suppose I could start on my Charms homework.

See you when term resumes!

Ron Weasley

P.S. I asked mum if you could come and stay with us, but she said due to the 'climate' of the wizarding world you are safest with your relatives. Only five more weeks though. Sorry mate!

Harry opened Ron's gift, a big pack of chocolate frogs. He set them aside and turned to the last owl. It carried his Hogwarts letter as he went to remove the package from the owl, he got a peck on his hands for his trouble. Clearly it wasn't happy he was made to wait while Harry opened the other packages. He muttered a 'sorry' to the bird as it flew into the morning air, but really as a Hogwarts owl, shouldn't he be more professional than that? Harry shrugged and looked at the clock on his night stand.

It was now half past six. It was time to get around for the day, after getting dressed in his hand-me-downs, he made his way quietly to the bathroom, brushed his teeth and wet his hair to comb it, not even bothering to look in the mirror. He would just be disappointed anyway, it would never lie fat. He then headed downstairs to cook breakfast for the Dursley's, whom were usually downstairs by seven. Well, his Aunt and Uncle anyway, Dudley still relied on Aunt Petunia to wake him every morning. 'Lazy pig.' Harry thought to himself as he stepped over the squeaky step on the staircase, no need to have the Dursley's downstairs any sooner than they need be.

He pulled out a frying pan and uncovered the toaster. He concentrated wholeheartedly on the breakfast so as not to think about Sirius. Within twenty minutes he had cooked up a full English breakfast complete with freshly squeezed orange juice made with a juicer.

At exactly seven o'clock Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon, followed by a half awake Dudley still in his pajamas, entered the kitchen, completely ignoring Harry as he set everything on the table and then sat down himself. The Dursley's all ate greedily. The smell of the bacon and sausage waking Dudley up, he began stuffing his big porky face with everything that was within arms reach.

"Boy!' Uncle Vernon rasped at Harry just as he was making a reach for a piece of toast, about the only thing he could stomach in the mornings, he quickly pulled his hand back. 'Aunt Marge will be visiting for a few days tomorrow and if you have another slip up like last time, I'm warning you, you'll regret it?" Uncle Vernon glared over the top of the morning paper with his beady eyes.

"Yes sir." Harry responded obediently.

"And as far as she's concerned you still attend St. Brutus' Secure Center for Incurably Criminal Boys."

"Yes sir." Harry replied with a monotonous tone.

"There is a list of chores for you to do in the living room. Eat your toast and then get to work."

"Yes sir." Harry replied one last time. He loathed Aunt Marge. Her visits never brought anything good, but Harry didn't have the strength to care at the moment. The way he saw it what will come, will come one way or the other.

"We are going out for a while, we will return at seven o'clock and you best have dinner on the table. You are not to leave the house while we are gone." Uncle Vernon stated. Harry just nodded as the Dursley's stood up and left. Where would he go anyway?

He began to clean up without wasting any time. He took his time cleaning the dishes then headed to the living room for his list of mind distractions. He saw it on the coffee table.

Chores

1. Dust all rooms

2. Clean all windows

3. Sweep kitchen

4. Vacuum all carpeting

5. Trim the hedges and mow the lawn

6. Clean bathrooms

7. Move all of your stuff to the cupboard under the stairs. Marge will be sleeping in your room. You will sleep on the floor in the cupboard.

"Well, no time like the present." Harry muttered sarcastically to himself. Aunt Marge's usual guest room had long since been taken over as Dudley's second bedroom. Without Harry's room to fill up with all of his broken toys, computer games and unread books, the second guest room was quickly filled. The furniture however, had been saved and Harry knew he would have to move that in there too.

Harry gathered the cleaning supplies from the utility closet in the kitchen and began with cleaning all of the windows in the Dursley's already spotless house. He figured that a normal person probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference if he had cleaned the already spotless windows or not but Aunt Petunia would be able to find something wrong with them regardless.

XxXxXxXx

Minutes before the Dursley's were supposed to arrive home that evening, Harry placed a pot roast compete with potatoes, carrots and onions, still in the slow cooker on the table. The Dursley's were often home later than they said they would be and Harry did not want to be on the receiving end of his Uncle's wrath if the food was cold. Harry then retired to his 'room', now cupboard, not feeling hungry and knowing in no way his presence would be missed from the table. In fact, they would be glad to not see him.

He clicked on the light in his cupboard and shut the door behind him. Crouched down he looked around him and wondered how he had lived the first eleven years of his life in here, it was so tiny. Of course, it seemed that much smaller to him now that he was sixteen.

As he made to sit on his makeshift bed for the next few days he spotted the thick Hogwarts envelope he had not had time to open earlier. He picked it up, and getting as comfortable as he could on the blankets on the floor, slid his finger underneath the envelope's flap and pulled out the parchment inside.

Inside were three pieces of parchment. His Hogwarts reminder that term started on the first of September, his book list, and his O.W.L results- he had completely forgotten about. Ignoring the book list and term reminder he quickly unfolded the O.W.L results and read.

Harry James Potter has received:

Astronomy: Acceptable

No surprise there, that had been the night that they tried to take Hagrid and stunned Professor McGonagall, everyone had been distracted.

Care of Magical Creatures: Exceeds Expectations
Charms: Exceeds Expectations
Defense Against the Dark Arts: Outstanding
Divination: Poor
Herbology: Exceeds Expectations

Transfiguration: Exceeds Expectations
History of Magic: Dreadful

Again, no surprise, he had fallen asleep during that exam.

The last grade was what surprised him the most and it was a good thing he was sitting down or he may have just fallen over with the shock.

Potions: Outstanding

He stared at it for a moment, not believing what he saw. How was that possible? And even if it was possible, would Snape really let him into his Advanced Potions class? Would it be enough? He wouldn't be at all surprised if Snape contested his admissions to the Advanced Potions class anyway. All he could figure is it was probably because he didn't have Snape breathing down his neck during the exam. He had certainly felt he had done well, but not that well.

Total O.W.L.s earned 7/9

He had met all of the requirements to become an Auror, he could pursue his career choice now. If he lived that long that is. Harry shook his head, these morbid thoughts were getting old. He would become an Auror, he had to have something to live for after all.

Harry lay down on the floor and stared up at the ceiling, there was still a drawing on the ceiling he remembered doing with broken crayons he had been able to pilfer from the trash after Dudley had broken them in half with his meaty fists. He had drawn himself with a real family, a family that loved him. He drew himself in the middle and was holding the hand of a female with brilliant red hair blowing in the wind from the trees drawn nearby. Attached to his other stick finger hand was a man with long black hair. Hmm, odd, he thought to himself, I don't remember why I did that...He turned to his side, giving little thought to it. After all, he had only been five when he drew it.

As he reached for his Potions text he heard the latch to the front door click and the heavy steps of his relatives cross through into the entryway. He listened as they made their way to the kitchen and pulled the chairs out to sit down to dinner. It would come as no surprise to him if something was found wrong with the food. He didn't understand how his 'family' could have such short tempers. Sure, Harry got short-tempered but they would too if they had a murderous, rampaging lunatic trying to kill them every year.

He heard the clink of silverware as the Dursley's began to scoop food onto their plates greedily. Harry listened intently.

"It's cold." Uncle Vernon barked. "Boy! Get out here."

Harry lay his text on the ground next to his blankets, quickly marking his page and making his way out of the cupboard, it was best to not keep his Uncle waiting.

"And what do you have to say for yourself?" Vernon pointed a fork at Harry, with bits of potato flying onto the floor as he did so.

"I don't understand, sir. I left the slow cook..." He looked at the pot on the table, the light was not on, quickly realizing his mistake he looked down at the ground. How could he have been so stupid! He had forgot to plug the pot in after moving it to the dining room table from the kitchen counter.

Vernon raised an eyebrow in glee, with a satisfied smirk on his face he made to grab the boy by his ear. Harry quickly dodged and made his way over against the wall on the opposite end of the room.

"You were late, had you been here on time it wouldn't have been." Harry said struggling to keep his temper down. He knew better, why couldn't he just keep his mouth shut? He was angry with himself after all.

"Don't you talk to me like that. You best keep a civil tongue when Marge arrives and dinner best not be cold either." Vernon snarled standing with great effort.

"If she isn't late the food won't be cold and I will keep a civil tongue as long as she does. I haven't written to anyone in two days. One more and they'll show up on the doorstep when Aunt Marge is here and I know you don't want that." Harry snarled back.

"Are you threatening me boy?" Vernon glared at him looking ready to strike.

Harry hesitated for a moment surveying Vernon's expression, he should just shut his mouth now, apologize again, offer to heat up the roast and make his way safely back to the relative comfort of his cupboard, but somehow he couldn't.

"No, simply stating the facts. You know laying it all on the table, out in the open, so we're clear." Harry answered forcing himself to stay calm, as calm as he could be anyway, he couldn't say that he wasn't a little nervous.

Vernon stared him down with his beady little eyes.

"Get over here, boy. Now!" he barked. Harry considered staying exactly where he was, or dodging around his Uncle and heading for the front door. At the look on his Uncle's face he decided against it. Better to get this over with, besides, even if he did make it out the front door, he would just be forced back by Dumbledore.

Harry slowly made his way around the table and when he was at arms length, his Uncle snapped out his hand faster than should be possible for a man of his size. Pulling Harry's face closer to his, he whispered in a deadly voice.

'If you dare threaten me and my family you can forget about living under my roof. Maybe I'll find this hoobly-whats-it-lord myself and hand you right over. Would serve you right. You think I don't have ways of making you write those letters boy?" Vernon saw a flicker of fear spark through Harry's eyes and twisted his ear harder. With satisfied glee he continued. "That's right, you know exactly what I'm talking about. We've been through this already"

And as quickly as he had grabbed Harry, he released him and backhanded him across the face. Harry, losing his balance, fell hard against the wall and to the floor.

"Now let that be a lesson to you." His Uncle turned around now content to ignore his bleeding nephew.

Harry made his way off of the floor feeling the lump that was beginning to form on the back of his head. There was blood coming down the side of his face where his Uncle's wedding ring had cut him.

"Your hair is getting too long, I'm cutting it tonight. Lord knows Marge won't want to look at you anymore than we do." Aunt Petunia spat at Harry as though nothing has happened. She sneered at him with disdain, her nose wrinkling in disgust as a drop of blood hit her pristine floor. "And clean that up! Now!"

Harry made for the kitchen to fetch some paper towels, knowing better than to use an actual towel to clean the mess. He quickly washed the cut on his face, grabbed the disinfectant from under the sink and made his way back to the dining room. Once that was clean, he quietly made his way to the cupboard.

XxXxXxXxXx

Thirty minutes later, and with a pounding headache, his Aunt was rapping her knuckles on the cupboard door.

"Get out here, clean this mess and be quick about it!"

As Harry made his way out of the cupboard, he looked to the right at the Dursley's who were sprawled out in the the living room to watch television and gossip about Mr. Next Door Neighbor who, Petunia had discovered, wears a toupee over his bald head.

Harry cleaned the table and washed the dishes. He was heading back to the cupboard when Aunt Petunia called to him.

"Boy get in the kitchen, time for your haircut." She screeched walking past Harry's cupboard to the kitchen. Harry followed absentmindedly brushing his hair out of his face. It felt longer. He ran a hand through. It was all the way down to his chin, it had certainly not been like that in the morning, had it? Stranger things had happened he thought, recalling all the times his hair had gown back after visits to the barber and even when his Aunt had given him his near bald haircut. Then again...This wasn't quite the same.

"Aunt Petunia, may I use the bathroom first?" Harry asked as he reached the doorway to the kitchen.

"Hurry up then." Petunia snapped back growing agitated as she laid a sheet out under the chair he was to have his hair cut in.

Harry headed upstairs to the bathroom and looked in to the mirror. His emerald green eyes widened in shock. His hair was no longer messy and unkempt, on the contrary, it was long and straight. He didn't think it looked bad but he wondered how it could have happened.

He shook his head, he did not have time to ponder it now, it would have to wait until later. He headed back downstairs and then sat in the chair that Petunia had set in the kitchen on top of the raggedy old bed sheet.

"Sit!" She barked. Harry obeyed and she began to cut his hair. Harry watched as his hair began to fall mercilessly on to the sheeted floor. If he was honest with himself he really didn't want to see it go. He thought it actually made him look a bit older and somehow more mature.

When she had finished cutting his hair Harry went back to the cupboard under the stairs and looked into the mirror Ginny had given him. He had to admit the haircut his Aunt gave him this time wasn't as bad as the buzz cut and his hair didn't look all that bad straight. Harry figured that if it hadn't been for Aunt Marge coming tomorrow, she would have buzzed all of it off, again.

He set the mirror down and went to bed, the Dursley's had long since burned the cot that used to serve as his bed. He was tired from being up so early and in no way looking forward to the next day.

Uncle Vernon would be picking Marge up tomorrow morning at the train station. Upon her arrival at Number 4 Privet Drive, Harry would have to endure a few days of Marge's cruel taunting and snide remarks. He could do this, he'd done it before and he'd do it again. Well, discounting the summer before his third year. That was a fluke he told himself, he was older now. He would have better self-control, he wasn't entirely convinced.

Exhausted from the days activities he thought briefly of the Dreamless Sleep potions that had been delivered to him that morning. No, he shook his head, he needed to save the Dreamless Sleep for when Marge stayed, he couldn't risk having nightmares while she was here. He could only imagine the punishment then. He closed his eyes and did his best to Occlude, shortly after he felt into an uncomfortable sleep.

XxXxXx

Well, there you have it, Chapter One! I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I am already working on the next chapter revision. Reviews, questions, suggestions and comments always welcome. See you all soon! ~Bria Snape