Author Note: This is my first real shot at fanfiction, I've only ever written a Mirror of Maybe cookie before this so feel free to point out (preferably politely!) any ways I can improve this - I don't expect my work to be perfect or any readers I may get to think so. I can cope with constructive criticism. This is a WiP and though I do intend to finish it one day and have a (very, very vague) idea of where the plot is headed I make no promises as to how quickly and easily I can post. Reader input will always be appreciated as it may help spark off ideas of what will happen next.

Spoilers: all books, including OotP

Disclaimer: I own Harry Potter. Looks at the threatening lawyers Yes I do- look over there, on that shelf, Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets…alright fine - I am not doing this for profit and anything you recognise from the books does not belong to me glares at lawyers even if the books do.

Prologue: Growing Up

Harry Potter was not in a particularly good mood. Not that he had had any particular reason to be in a good mood since the end of his last term. His chest tightened momentarily at the thought of his Godfather but he determinedly pushed it back. He missed Sirius. Missed him so much that it hurt. Sirius had been the only adult in his life who had, well, belonged to him.

His parents? A few photos and their last words didn't really make for much of a relationship. He loved them, and missed them, and wanted to make them proud, of course he did, but he'd never really had the time to get to know them, to learn to depend on them. It just wasn't the same as losing Sirius. The only things he knew about his parents were second-hand memories, and not even all of those were good. Look at Snape's pensieve! It was still hard to believe his father had been such a prat. Sirius had been a bit of a prat too, but he had his own memories, good ones, to balance those out.

The Dursleys? Yeah right. The Weasleys? Wonderful though they were to him, and he did feel they looked on him as an extra son, they weren't his. They were Ron's, and Ginny's, and the Twins and the others but not his. He would feel awkward talking to his best mates parents about his worries and his feelings. He cringed just thinking about what Mrs Weasley would do, he still remembered her reaction to the Prophet in fourth year. No, they couldn't understand him the way Sirius had; he couldn't turn to them the way he turned, well, used to turn, to Sirius.

He remembered thinking his Godfather would take him from the Dursley's, remembered writing to him about his scar because he could trust him, because he'd know what to do, remembered his advice during the Triwizard Tournament - the man had lived on rats for Merlin's sake! Just to be near him, to reassure him, despite the fact that he was a wanted man and it was dangerous. He had been there for him, in a way no one else ever had.

Sirius had always made him feel safer, stronger, better. Having someone he could rely on so totally had been wonderful beyond words. He literally ached at the loss of those feelings. Sirius's loss had left a gaping great hole in his life.

It still hurt to think that he was partly responsible for his death. He glared at the wall, not totally responsible for it, no, not by a long shot. A definite portion of the blame lay at Snape and Dumbledore's feet. He hated Bellatrix Lestrange, and Voldemort, for robbing him of his godfather but he burned inside thinking that his teachers, people he was supposed to trust, people who were supposed to know better, could have done so much more to stop it ever happening.

If only the Headmaster had explained, not even all of it but maybe just a little bit, about how Voldemort might try and send him dreams. Then he could have ignored the corridor, known that it was dangerous. He wouldn't even have had to know about the prophecy, he'd have been satisfied if they'd given him some clue about the fact that Voldie was working to lure him to the Department of Mysteries, by whatever means necessary. If they'd only explained the reasons behind the occlumency, told him there was a chance he could be sent false visions, it might have all have turned out differently.

If only the Headmaster hadn't avoided him all last year, never even looking at him for Merlin's sake! It would have been so much easier to trust in him, to go to him, to confide in him if only he hadn't pushed him away. He snorted slightly at that thought. Dumbledore wasn't the only person pushing people away last year.

He'd tried to push away Ron, Hermione, the Weasley's, even Sirius to some extent. He smiled softly, sadly. They'd pushed back, fighting for him and that thought game him a warm glow that even the fact that he hadn't had a chance to really make it up to Sirius, and now never would, could banish. They all thought he was worth fighting for. He remembered something from his Muggle primary school, a poem or something, about measuring a mans worth by his friends. Despite everything that had happened in his life he couldn't really be too worthless, not with friends like his.

No matter what happened last year they'd been there for him. If they could follow him in rebelling against the Ministry, and the school to a certain extent, despite the trouble they would face in doing so, if they could see him through the Department of Mysteries, despite all the dangers, and if they could even put up with his outbursts of teenage angst then they had to count as the best friends he could ever have asked for.

Teenage angst. Harry smiled remembering Hermione's lecture on the subject, how 'everyone goes through it you know, even people who had perfectly happy childhoods and don't have Dark Lords after them so don't be such a prat about it Harry James Potter!' She'd been spending too much time with Ron; 'Prat' was his favourite epithet as well. He imagined Hermione suddenly spouting forth about the Chudley Cannons, or calling Snape a Greasy Git, or moaning about having 'too much bloody homework' and then broke into a grin. Nah, even his imagination couldn't hold that one up.

Thoughts of Snape brought his mind full circle; Snape had certainly not been much help last year. Sirius had been dying to get out of that house and Snape's taunting had definitely not helped. After seeing what he'd seen in the pensieve Harry really couldn't blame him too much for that. Sirius hadn'tbeen that much better when it came to Snape. You'd need a silencing spell on the pair of them to try and keep them from insulting and goading each other. They were even worse than he'd be if he was locked in the Dursley's house with Malfoy for company over the summer. He shuddered at the thought. However, Occlumency was another matter.

Although he took some of the blame for the Occlumency disaster he still held to the fact that if, for example, Lupin had been teaching him then he was damn sure he'd have gotten a lot farther than he did. Snape was too busy revelling in tormenting him, in being able to rummage around in his head to bother with trying to explain anything or tell him how to do any of it. Sweet Circe, why couldn't the man grow up? He wasn't bloody James Potter and he never had been but Snape was so wrapped up in his stupid schoolboy quarrels that he refused to see. The bastard enjoyed watching him suffer.

He had even less instruction in occlumency, despite how important it was, not just to him but to the war as a whole, than he got in Potions and that was saying something. How would Snape have liked it if he was taught something that way? Harry's mind wandered.

'A television Snape, surely even you know what one of those is. No? I would have thought someone like you, someone who likes to swoop around and demonstrate how very much more he knows than the rest of us would recognise a simple thing like this. Of course, you never seem to realise that pitting a fully trained Potions Master against a bunch of eleven year olds isn't really much of a victory. Still, I don't suppose you'd get any otherwise, for all your supposed superiority. You're hardly anything special, after all.

A television, Professor Snape, transmits images comprising of light and sound. No, it isn't like a wizarding portrait Snape. My word, even considering you were raised in a pure-blooded Wizarding family and have never had anything to do with Muggle technology your stupidity knows no bounds. Well, turn it on. What do you mean how? Turn it on, now Professor.

Well, isn't this a dismal failure. Not that I'm in the least surprised. You may have some talent in Potions, Snape, and the Headmaster may make allowances for your behaviour but don't think that I will excuse your shoddy work here. We'll try it again NOW. TURN ON THE TELEVISION! TURN ON THE TELEVISION! This is the simplest thing I am going to teach you Snape, Muggle babies are capable of doing this. If you can't master the basics like this, how are you going to cope with changing the channel? Or the volume? I am supposed to be teaching you to use simple, everyday muggle technology. I can hardly wait to see the mess you make trying to set the video recorder.

Oh get out of my sight you pathetic little cretin. Practice turning the television on and off…what do you mean you don't know how to turn it on and off? smirks Well then, you'd better figure it out hadn't you?

I heard that, Professor, 10 points from Slytherin. It isn't for someone like you sneer to question why you have to learn to operate a television. I am giving up my valuable time in an attempt to force some knowledge into that regrettably empty head of yours and so you will learn. Or else.'

Harry snorted; he'd pay good galleons to see something like that.

Snape just couldn't see past the fact that he was his fathers son. It didn't matter that he had been raised a muggle, and then thrown into the deep end so far as wizarding society was concerned. Even then Occlumency was supposed to be a pretty obscure branch of magic - after all Hermione hadn't found anything on it in the library and if there had been anything in there then she would have found it. How was he supposed to know what he was doing unless he was actually told? That's what teachers are supposed to do, after all, teach! Not just expect you to already know everything.

He'd known he had to clear his mind, but not how. He'd known he had to be able to defend himself from people attacking his mind, but not how. He knew he was supposed to stop Snape reading his memories but how the hell was he supposed to manage that? The greasy git had never given him even the hint of a clue. You'd think being able to resist Imperius would have given him an edge but it hadn't. Not that he'd tried all that hard. And look how it had all turned out: Sirius dead and himself hurting so badly sometimes that all he wanted to do was lie there and scream that it wasn't fair.

If Dumbledore had only explained why he had to learn, what could happen if he didn't, if Snape had actually explained Occlumency, been a better teacher, if his own infernal curiosity hadn't gotten the better of him with the Pensieve, if he hadn't been so moody over everything, over life, then he would have opened his present and found Sirius' mirror…there were a lot of ifs. An awful lot of ifs. Of course he wouldn't have been so moody if people hadn't excluded him from so much. Or he could have gotten in a bad mood over something else and forgotten about it anyways, he amended honestly. After all it hadn't taken much to set him off last year.

He remembered Ron saying how he knew he'd been a bit of a jealous prat and had hurt him before but he was working on it. Well he was working on not being so much of a…what was he? Irresponsible? Withdrawn? He settled for moody. He wasn't going to be such a moody prat. Not next year. He wasn't going to be so withdrawn or irresponsible either. He smiled at the thought that, of his two best friends, one was so outgoing and sociable and the other so responsible. They'd certainly keep him on the straight and narrow as far as that went but his moodiness? He was going to have to tackle his tendency to blow up at people and lash out pretty much by himself.

He didn't want to have his friends put up with him acting like a git again. Though in an odd way it had brought them closer, or maybe overcoming it had. He felt they understood him better, understood the demons driving him a little better now. After all, Ron had nearly lost his Father, had had a taste of the responsibilities that came from the fame with being the hinge pin of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. He'd even been a prefect. He'd seen how people could turn on you for what they thought you were, his brother Percy for one, and Harry was still incredibly proud of the way his friend had handled that.

As for Hermione, in a way she'd already known more about his problems than Ron. She'd had to face the rubbish about her in the Prophet the year before, and the mass of owls that resulted in, she'd seen how even Mrs Weasley could be swayed by public opinion and distorted facts. Even so she'd still changed last year. She'd been forced to recognise that authority didn't always work towards the greater good - he thought the ministries actions against Hagrid, what had happened to McGonnagal and even Trelawney, let alone the headmaster, had severely shaken her trust in institutions.

After all you could pass over Quirrell and the pretend Moody as one-off accidents, how was anyone supposed to know that one had come back from holiday with an unusual hair ornament and the other was an impostor? He'd been a bloody good impostor. If things had worked out differently then he wouldn't have minded having him again as DADA teacher. And as for Lockhart, everyone thought he'd done so much against the Dark Arts that you couldn't really blame them for putting the idiot in charge of lessons on the subject.

But the way the Ministry had covered things up and distorted things, and tried to shift the blame, no, she definitely wasn't going to trust so easily again. She had even admitted that things would have gone a lot better last year if they'd only had more idea about what was going on. She'd become a lot less rigid, less rule bound, more open to the unorthodox, like the DA, reasoning that sometimes you had to do things that were considered wrong because, truthfully, they were the only right things to do.

Then they'd both been at the Department of Mysteries, both faced the Death Eaters, both felt the pain they could inflict, seen how much they enjoyed it. Both had felt the weight of other peoples lives on their shoulders and both had seen what could happen if they weren't quite good enough, fast enough, skilled enough, whatever. Both had lost someone who, even if they hadn't been as close to him as Harry had, was still someone they cared about. Both had had to face the what ifs? What if we'd done something differently? Studied more? Practised more? Endless ifs.

And they'd both seen that even when Dumbledore and the teachers and the aurors came charging in to the rescue it didn't automatically make everything alright. They could make mistakes too. Things could still go wrong. In a way they'd all been such children up till then, trusting that once the adults they trusted got there then it would all be okay, that nothing would go wrong. But that's not how wars work. You lose people you love. You can get hurt. You could die. Harry didn't think they'd ever really be children again.

TBC…

AN: so what did you think? It's a bit of a stream of consciousness this chapter but I wanted to set the story up. Well, thanks for reading, please let me know what you thought since, like I said this is my first attempt. Cheers