Summary: Everything has changed for Harry after fifth year. Overcome by feelings of regret and feelings of guilt, he is wasting away at the Dursleys until finally two people read between the lines of his letters and come to the rescue.
Spoilers: Well pretty much building from all the books, but ESPECIALLY BOOK FIVE DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN'T READ BOOK FIVE, IT WILL BE SPOILED FOR YOU.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the property of JK Rowling, Bloomsbury Publishing, Warner Brothers, and Scholastic. Please do not sue me, I'm not worth much and am going to be a struggling college student next year.
Authors note at the end.
Dedication: To Christina who was my first Harry Potter friend, and to Anita who was my first beta reader.
SPOILERS FOR HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX AHEAD, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
Reading Between the Lines
In the smallest bedroom of Number 4 Privet Drive, lay a skinny 15-year-old boy with messy black hair and startling green eyes. His name was Harry Potter, but at the moment he wished he could be anyone else, any other person. If he could be any other person he wouldn't have to feel the terrible pain and agony inside him. A pain that constantly wore down on him and threatened to bubble over. He was confused by it.
He rolled over on his side and stared out the window. The sun was just rising, and the horizon was turning a light pink. Soon his uncle would be getting ready for work. Soon Dudley would be on his bike and wreaking havoc with the neighborhood kids. Soon Aunt Petunia would be calling him down to breakfast. She would just call him once, but he wouldn't come. He couldn't bear to eat with this empty hole inside of him. He couldn't pretend to function unless being told to by his friends or a concerned adult. Life, it seemed, didn't matter to him. Sirius was gone.
He absently traced the pattern on his comforter with his finger. 'If I had learned occlumency as I was supposed to… If I had just not trusted Kreacher… If I had just opened the damn package with the mirror inside…' Harry was on his back now, having trouble swallowing, looking up at a watermark on the ceiling, 'Sirius wouldn't be dead!' He heard his Aunt descending the stairs to make breakfast. He suddenly felt like throwing something, but didn't have the energy to actually reach for something and throw it.
Harry closed his eyes and traced his scar with his finger. As usual it was faintly stinging. It hadn't stopped throbbing, really, since that awful night barely two weeks ago. He just wished that he could get the events of that night out of his head. Last night's dreams had been particularly awful. Sirius' look of fear and surprise as he fell to his death behind the veil. Harry had struggled against someone holding him back: Lupin. Lupin's voice breaking as he tried to explain to a hysterical Harry that Sirius was gone. Harry knew that Sirius wasn't gone, he could hear him calling him, from just behind the veil. He tried to struggle out of Lupin's grip. "Let me go! Can't you hear him? I hear him!"
"No, Harry!" Lupin had said.
"Let me go!!" Harry shouted once again. He had turned around to shout more at Lupin but he was surprised to see that it was Bellatrix Lestrange holding him back. She laughed cynically as he made frantic movements to get away from her. Harry had woken up in a cold sweat and hadn't been able to sleep since.
Harry rubbed his tired eyes with his hands. 'If only Dumbledore had killed me while Voldemort possessed my body. It would've ended it. I would've seen Sirius again,' Harry thought unpleasantly.
"Boy!" His aunt called from downstairs, "Breakfast!"
He rolled back over onto his side and looked out the window again, his mind in a hazy stupor. He noticed Hedwig sweep into the open window after a long night of hunting. She perched on Harry's bedside table and nipped his fingers affectionately.
"Hello," Harry said softly.
She hooted softly in response.
He heard his uncle lumbering down the hallway, and then there was a hard knock on his door. Harry heard the door open, and he rolled over on his side to see his uncle standing in the doorway. "Boy! Didn't you hear your aunt call you to breakfast?"
"Not hungry," Harry muttered.
"Suit yourself! Just don't tell those people we're mistreating you. We can't help it if you're not hungry. We're not going to force food into you!" And with that, Uncle Vernon slammed the door behind him.
Those people to who Uncle Vernon referred were members of the Order of the Phoenix who had threatened the Dursleys if they had found out Harry had been mistreated. They wrote him letters every three days, expecting a response, if they didn't get a response they would come immediately. So far he had received 5 letters and had sent 5 return owls back to the Order. Just yesterday he had received this letter:
How are you, dear? Are the Dursleys treating you all right? Make sure you are eating enough. We're trying to get you here as soon as we possibly can. Try to keep your chin up until then. Please write back.
It had taken all of Harry's strength to write back:
I'm doing okay. I'm having loads of food, don't worry about sending any! The Dursleys haven't really bothered me. I hope I see you all very soon.
Harry hoped that they could read between the lines and figure out that he was desperately miserable. Yet he still couldn't figure out if he wanted to be left alone or be with his friends at this time. Hedwig flew over to her cage and drank from the water dish.
Hours passed, and he was called down for lunch. He didn't go.
More hours passed, and he was called down for dinner. He didn't go.
There was a soft knock to his door and he heard it open. He didn't even bother looking to see who it was. Darkness had fallen over the room; he hadn't even concerned himself with turning the light on. He couldn't remember the last time he had been out of bed since returning back to Privet Drive. The lights were suddenly turned on, and Harry squinted his eyes.
"Boy, you have to eat something," He turned to see his aunt carrying a food tray. "Please, Harry, please I don't want you to starve while under our care."
"All you care about is a whole group of wizards coming after you!" Harry growled.
His aunt pursed her lips and set the tray down with an audible "clang" and left the room with a slam of the door. Harry sat up and looked at the tuna fish sandwich she had left him. He took a bite from half of it, and chewed very slowly. He was almost done with the half when his scar throbbed again and he suddenly felt very nauseous. Harry left the sandwich abandoned on the night table. The clock read only 7:30 but he thought of trying to sleep, because he was very tired. Harry turned on his side and curled up into the fetal position, feeling nothing but an empty ache deep within him.
Just before he closed his eyes he heard a doorbell ring downstairs. He heard the door opened and muffled voices speaking downstairs in the entranceway. Harry hadn't known that the Dursleys were expecting anyone. A few minutes later he heard unfamiliar footsteps on the stairs, and an unfamiliar and soft knock on his door. He twisted to look back at the door as he heard the doorknob turn.
"Harry?" He heard someone call gently. Harry's heart skipped a few beats; the voice belonged to Professor Lupin. Sure enough Professor Lupin walked in, a concerned look upon his face.
"Professor Lupin," Harry whispered, feeling his voice catch. There was someone else moving in the shadow behind Lupin. Harry was completely surprised to see Professor Snape enter the room. "Professor Snape?"
"Potter," Snape said curtly.
"What are you doing here?" Harry asked.
"We are checking up on you. Your last letter seemed a little off to us. Especially since you said you were eating loads when we know that Dudley must still be on his diet and that means you would still be on the diet," said Lupin. Lupin and Snape stared at him. Harry knew he must look awful. He hadn't combed hair in a very long time, he hadn't changed his clothes in a while, and he couldn't quite remember the last time he had taken a shower or had eaten a good square meal. He made to get out of bed, but when he tried standing his scar pulsated and he felt very woozy. Harry felt himself being forced to sit back on the bed by Lupin's surprisingly strong grip. He heard Lupin murmuring something to Snape, but couldn't quite make out the words.
"…Dursley says he's been laying in bed since he got home… won't get up for meals… hasn't eaten barely anything… seems a bit disoriented… take him to Grimmauld Place?" Harry heard Lupin say.
"I think so… overestimated his ability to overcome… being with his aunt and uncle doesn't seem to help… already has lost weight." Snape was talking in his usual gruff hiding-his-emotions voice.
"Harry?" Lupin's face floated into focus in front of Harry, "Harry, how do you feel?"
"Sick," Harry said truthfully.
Snape came over and took Harry's arm and pressed a finger into it to see the elasticity of his skin. "Dehydrated…" he muttered to Lupin, he put his hand to Harry's forehead and Harry shivered, "and feverish. Go get a glass of water."
Lupin left the room. Harry found himself staring directly into Snape's coal black eyes. "When was the last time you ate a decent meal, Potter?" Snape sneered. Harry shrugged. "When was the last time you got a decent night's sleep?" Snape asked. Harry shrugged again. Lupin had returned with the glass of water. Snape took it from Lupin and placed it in Harry's hands. "Drink," he instructed Harry.
Harry dutifully drank the water, hoping Lupin and Snape did not notice that his hands were shaking slightly. "Harry," Lupin said, still looking concerned, "We're taking you back with us to headquarters."
Snape stood up and began to pack all of Harry's belongings away. Lupin stood up and picked up a piece of paper on the floor. He pointed his wand at it and said, "Portus. All set Severus?" Snape nodded his head, "Okay, up you get, Harry." Lupin helped him stand up, and once again Harry felt woozy. Remus helped to support him. "All right Harry, we'll be traveling by portkey." Remus smiled wanly at Harry and held out the piece of paper to him.
'Great,' Harry thought to himself, 'They think I've gone nutters. Maybe I have gone crazy.' Snape stood beside him and also grabbed the portkey.
"One… two…three…" Lupin said quietly.
Harry felt the familiar sensation of a hook being jerked behind his navel. The smallest bedroom at Number Four had disappeared, and he was flying forward in a vortex of color.
Author's Note: After a very long time I am publishing fanfic by myself again. I have another story with my fiend, yes you heard right, Christina. It's under the name Nuwanda Quillow and is called Disengage. Read it if you'd like. I don't know if or when I'll be continuing this because it's utter crap. Review if you like it, but no flames please. I will, however take constructive criticism. Leave a note if you think you may want to beta read as my usually beta reader seems to have fallen off the face of the earth, where the heck are you Anita?