Harry Potter: Bloodstones and Twilight

Harry Potter didn't know what to make of the news when confronted by his Uncle Vernon one night after supper. The family would be leaving for Germany, visiting distant friends of Aunt Petunia and he was to come along! The idea of it all sounded preposterous and he knew that there had to be catch somewhere. If he knew his muggle guardians like he thought he did he figured they might drop him off halfway through some sparsely populated area, left to fend for himself. Or eaten alive by gypsies. Either one, they wouldn't really care; though he suspected that the latter might be looked upon with more gusto than family relations should allow.

But as cold, and indifferent as they were, Harry knew they wouldn't dare endanger his life. Not to a noticeably large extent anyway. Not with him being the way he was. No they would not (as much as they would like to) throw him out before he finished his schooling at that strange school of his. No they would keep him under their roof, every summer, until he was capable of fending for himself. A least that's what they hoped. But there would be a catch. There was always a catch.

"You're to stay silent at all times! Your to be known as Dudley's servant" bingo. So that was it. He was to be a slave to 'dear Duddykins'! Maybe being stranded with a band of gypsies didn't sound so bad after all…

Harry stood in the middle of his small room, quietly listening to his uncles' rules for him while they stayed with Mrs. Dursely's friends. Mr. Dursely's face was turning a slightly reddish hue from his yelling. Apparently assuming that he was talking to lower class specimen he kept his sentences short and loud. Very loud. Harry began wondering if his uncle knew any other way of speaking to him. He was confident that Uncle Vernon wouldn't live very long if he didn't yell at him whenever he saw him. Sort of the way Professor Snape couldn't go very long without demeaning Harry every chance he got.

Following the same line of thought his mind wandered to the other, more civil, instructors at Hogwarts, wondering what they were doing and how they were doing. Before he knew it he had landed right back where he had started. Severus Snape. Harry rarely thought about the Potions teacher, preferring to think about something less…disturbing. But now that he thought about it, Harry wondered what the less than civil wizard had planned for his vacation. He absently wondered what Snape would consider to be fun. He mused over the thought, baffled. He hardly knew anything about the greasy professor other than he was mean, greasy, cold, and a downright cruel old git. Not to mention unfair. Well maybe he was fair, in his own very twisted way. He could feel the anger boiling through him as he remembered all those times Snape had given him detention for so much as looking at him funny. Through the past five years, he still couldn't understand why the Potions Master hated him with a vengeance. Although he had come considerably close to uncovering the reason the previous year, when taking a peek into the penseive. In a way it shamed him that his father had been so cruel to Snape, but the Slytherin wasn't entirely innocent either. Suddenly remembering his Uncle Vernon was still in the room, and lecturing him on his expected behavior, he listened half-heartedly while wishing he could be with his friends this summer. He almost wished he could see anyone from Hogwarts, if it meant he didn't have to be Dudley's personal slave. Maybe even Snape. After all Snape talked, but he didn't hit.

But unfortunately the whole Weasly family was in Romania and Hermione was somewhere in the Caribbean visiting her brother or cousin. Harry couldn't quite remember which. He sighed as his uncle slammed the door behind him as he left, honestly wondering if he would survive the summer. At least he would have Hedgwig. The snowy white howl regarded his slumped posture before hooting quietly so not to cause an outburst from Harry's uncle.

The next morning Harry tried to pull together the fragments of what he had hear briefly remembering his uncle saying they would leave on Wednesday but whether that was this week or the next he couldn't recall. Retrieving Hedgwig from her cage he settled comfortably on his bed and looked across the room into a broken mirror somewhat at a loss. Studying his reflected he grimaced, he had grown a bit taller, and lanky. But at least he didn't look like a skeleton. The change was noticeable, even to him. He ate well at Hogwarts and when he came "home" he had enough to keep him alive. His endless quidditch practices had given some muscle but he was still skinny, with a mop of brown hair, which seemed to be darkening somewhat. He quietly observed the various cuts and bruises he had acquired since coming back home. His ribs were cracked he knew, but also knew that his family wouldn't care a rat's bum about it so he saw no reason to complain. If anything Dudley might try to break them altogether. Rolling up his sleeves he winced as he tenderly touched his raw wrists, vividly remembering the ropes his uncle used to bind his wrists before each beating.

Mulling over these and other thoughts, he vaguely heard something tap at his widow. Looking up he could see a small, gray owl, looking at him with a withering gaze that demanded that he open the door immediately. The owl flew in, landing on his desk; a letter tied to his leg. Harry untied the letter and placed knut in the pocket attached to the other leg. Without looking at him the gray owl again took off, soaring through the window and out into the open air. Harry briefly felt a pang of jealousy, wishing he too had wings to fly away into the freedom of the air. Glancing at the address, he recognized Hermione's handwriting and tore it open.

Dear Harry,

How is your summer going? ('Smashing' Harry thought dryly, tenderly feeling for the bruise on his ribs) We're having so much fun in the Caribbean! ('Great of you to rub it in' he thought bitterly. Surprised at his own sardonic thoughts he focused on the rest of the letter) I heard from Ron the other day, him and his brothers went to watch a professional Quidditch match in Edinburgh. They'll be gone for quite some time, but Ron promised to keep in touch. We all miss you Harry, write back as soon as you can!

Best Wishes,

Hermione

As if on cue the doorbell rang, and he could hear Uncle Vernon telling Dudley to get the door.

"Ah da', why con't Herry anfer i'?" judging by the way his cousin sounded, he guessed that he had a mouth full of breakfast. Second most likely. Uncle Vernon was getting impatient, so it came as no surprise when a voice bellowed up the stairs.

"Harry!" quickly putting Hedgwig away he dashed out the room, careful of his injured ribs. Reaching the edge of the stairs he screeched into a stop before running head first into his Uncle.

"Darned boy! Didn't you hear me? Get the bloody door!" Harry nodded his head, stopping only when Uncle Vernon grabbed his arm and brought back his hand. Harry flinched. The blow came swift and hard, leaving him dazed and rubbing his cheek tenderly while reaching for the doorknob, trying desperately not to let the tears fall.

Opening the door wide he invited one of the neighbors in to sit on the couch while he fetched Aunt Petunia. Leaving his family downstairs, Harry made his way up to his room, breathing heavily from the excursion. He could hear his relatives apologizing for the new 'servant' before the voices blurred into a distant murmur. Reaching his room he glanced at Hermione's letter on his desk, deciding whether or not to write back, and tell her how his summer was really going. But he brushed away the thought almost immediately. As much as he wanted to leave the house, he didn't want sympathy even more. Especially from his friends. Besides he reasoned to himself. Uncle Vernon wasn't so bad. He only beat Harry when he was drunk, or was mad at something or other. Other than that, everyone usually ignored him, treating him like the plague.

The next couple days were spent primarily in his room, his food was usually flung at him through the door, as if he was some wild animal. Which, he supposed, his uncle thought he was. He let Hedgwig out at night, through the bars on his window, so she could get her fill of rats and other assorted animals. Through each summer, Hedgwig had been his closest friend, a tie that connected him to the world outside. Or worlds he should say. He often thought fondly about Diagon alley, and Hogsmead. But then he would remember Sirius and Voldemort as well. He still cried at times. Feeling the familiar ache in his chest that went deeper than his flesh injuries. Sometimes at night he would hear a dog barking in the street, and casting away his covers he would be at the window in an instant. Wishing. Always wishing. But it was always the night patrol or some other stray, but it was never the great black dog he knew. Never the godfather he knew.

Rubbing his lightning shaped scar absently he considered Voldemort. Harshly remembering that he was the start of all this trouble. Last summer dementors had attacked him and Dudley, and stupidly Dudley had told Vernon and Petunia that Harry was trying to curse him. Of course they believed him and this summer he was not allowed outside of the house, let alone his room. Since Harry had been away, Vernon's job as manager had been rapidly declining. Rumor had spread through the offices that he would either lose his job, or get demoted. This had also caused Vernon's anger toward his nephew in law. He somehow had come to the conclusion that whatever had happened concerning Dudley must have leaked into his life. So with the thought that Harry was to blame for just about everything firmly set in mind, he had waited for a certain train to come. But another strange thing happened. A strange, and none the less, frightening looking man had approached him and had several words with him. A most peculiar looking eye that suspiciously seemed to move of its own accord had particularly caught his attention. However two weeks into vacation and Vernon seemed to have forgotten those words or the disturbing eye. But Harry was at least somewhat happy that Voldemort could no longer continue to hide. Now the whole wizarding world knew he was back. He just wished he as happy about being home.

That night Uncle Vernon was in a particularly bad mood, and Harry shrunk back against the wall of his room when he heard the front door slam. Silently pondering in subdued terror if he would actually survive the trip to Germany, he listened intently for the sound of pounding footsteps making their way up the stairs, or down the corridor.

"Harry!" Cringing at the wrath he heard, he fearfully shrunk even farther back, wishing he could melt into the wall and disappear forever. A shudder ran up his spine as he listened intently to the heavy footfalls of his cousin, undoubtedly sent to fetch him. A single step creaked under the weight of his cousin's massive weight, only three more and he'd be at the top of the stairs.

Creak.

He was just outside his door now.

Creak.

The door opened heartbreakingly slow, allowing easy access for Dudley's monstrous form. His heart was thumping wickedly fast against his chest, and shutting his eyes tight he could feel Dudley's snicker as he grabbed for his still tender wrists. Biting back a cry he opened his eyes as he was pushed roughly to the door. The something surprised him. Dudley turned him around to face him, looking him straight in the eye.

"I'm sorry it's like his Harry" His voice was soft and broken, he was truly being apologetic! Shocked, Harry managed a quirk of a smile.

"It's all right" he whispered. Dudley seemed to relax a bit at the statement and continued to push him down the hall and stairs. When they reached the door to where Uncle Vernon was waiting with two ropes, interlaced with sharp wire Dudley dropped his kind attitude and cursed as he pushed Harry through the kitchen door, smiling wickedly at his father.

Landing in a heap at his uncle's feet he feared to look up into his wrathful face so instead opted for staring at the floor. He traced the lining of the false tile with his eyes while Vernon grabbed his wrists roughly, causing him to bite back a yelp. His hand securely tied behind him his uncle brought him up on his feet to stand before him.

The rest of the evening went by in a painstakingly slow blur. Slipping in and out of consciousness he could hear the sound of a slapping belt, or fist connecting with flesh. A boot connected with his ribs every now and then, sending a new wave of pain and nausea coursing through is body. He refused to cry out thought, he never did. That was one thing he would not give anyone the pleasure or seeing or hearing.

The next morning he woke to the sounds of people in the kitchen, eating breakfast as if nothing had happened. His heavy eyelids opened to see he was still in the dark, he saw a fuzzy line of light, and realized he no longer had his glasses. He tried to move and reposition himself but his arm was bending oddly, and his legs didn't want to respond. He dimly remembered the cracking of bones, but he couldn't remember from what part of him.

Indeed, Harry Potter was in the worst condition he could possibly be in for a human. Both his legs where shattered, he had a broken arm and while only one rib was cracked, two others were broken. He had a slight concussion, and a smashed in cheekbone on the left side of his face. He tried to remember where he was but only when he heard the familiar stomping noise above him did he remember. The closet under the stairs. He coughed as the dust was sent hurdling down upon him from the ceiling, trying desperately not to cry out at the renewed pain in his chest. For the next few hours he silently let the tears fall, wondering if he would ever be able to escape this time. Sirius was gone, forever, and Harry couldn't help but feel anything but lost. His broken body shook with mixed agony and grief as he thought about his family, lost forever now. The one last, precious, link that connected him to his family had been severed completely. Like everything else, dear to him it had been ripped away, savagely and mercilessly. All he had now was his life, which even now, he knew, was slowly starting to ebb away.

*~*~*~*~*

Albus Dumbledore stood by the window in his office, much the same way Harry had been doing for the first two weeks at his relatives. Ironically it was Harry Potter who consumed most of the headmasters thoughts as of late. For some reason he couldn't help but think something wasn't quite right, and no matter where he started his thoughts always led back to Potter. But with Voldemort back in power, and the Prime Minister along with the rest of the Ministry of Magic breathing down his neck he tended to have a lot on his mind. Sighing wearily he leaned back, taking off his half moon spectacles and massaging the point between his eyes. His mind drifted back to the Ministry of Magic and Fudge's incessant coaxing to have dementors placed on guard at the Wizarding Worlds' most prestigious schools. Unfortunately he had been able to convince quite a few members of the council that it would be the safest thing for the students. And for once the quirky Hogwarts Headmaster was having severe second thoughts about the Ministers' mentality. He had tried to remind him that the last time they had appointed dementors on the school grounds, mayhem had shortly ensued. But the ever proud and sometimes gullible Minister who was so very eager to prove his leadership to the people who had elected him (Dumbledore had received more votes, yet declined the job, therefor leaving Fudge to take up the job eagerly) amongst chaos, had ignored the headmasters pleas. Now Dumbledore was trying desperately to gain the favor of the rest of the council whom, for the most part, were still undecided. Sighing again he looked down at the letter from one of the council members, confirming that he sided with the Headmaster rather, than have the students terrified by way of Fudges' proposal. Taking a sip of his Earl Gray Tea, the familiar twinkle in his blue eyes once more lighting up, he smiled. It was a small win, but a win all the same. He just wished the rest of the council would feel the same way.

*~*~*~*~*

That day, along with the two that followed it, Harry Potter stayed crouched in a fetal position in the broom closet, the rays of sun sorely missed. The smaller cuts healed easily, but his breathing came haltingly and far from normal. The closet was smaller than he remembered it, but this was due largely to the fact that he had grown taller. But still he managed to crouch in the corner, biding his time to a painfully slow recovery.