Summary: AU This story takes place after the tri-wizard tournament in Harry's fourth year. This summer is turning out to be his worst yet as he suffers from nightmares about what happened to Cedric and he deals with the Dursleys' hatefulness. A car accident leads to some unexpected revelations that Harry has long tried to keep secret. Will he reach out to his best friend's family when he needs it most or will he accept his cruel fate?
Disclaimer: I have decided to say this once, and only once instead of posting it for every chapter. I do not own Harry Potter or any other of J.K. Rowling's wonderful characters. I only want to play in her world. I intend this story to be merely for pleasure, not profit.
Rating: R (just in case), but more likely it will be PG-13
Warnings: child abuse, domestic violence, male/male pairings (yes, this will be slash!)
Spoilers: SS, CoS, PoA, and GoF
Chapter 1- The Accident
"Kill the Spare!" A flash of green light filled his vision and Harry knew instantly that the boy beside him was dead.
"Nooo…." He screamed as Cedric's lifeless body hit the ground. "I didn't mean for this to happen… I told him that we should take the cup together… that it would still be a Hogwart's victory…."
Harry was in the throws of yet another nightmare about that fateful night in which Lord Voldemort was resurrected. Since he retuned to the Dursleys' he had been reliving that awful experience almost every night, unable to get past the guilt that he felt for causing yet another death.
Just as Wormtail was taking his blood in his dream, Harry suddenly felt the covers thrown off him and onto the floor. He felt somewhat disoriented from being startled awake so abruptly and had to think about where he was currently. Opening his eyes quickly he stared up into the face of his mother's sister, who looked thoroughly angry with him. Without his glasses on her features were a blur of color, but he could tell that her face was twisted up furiously. Reacting instinctively, Harry scooted backwards on his bed until he was wedged into the corner between his headboard and the wall. He wasn't afraid of Aunt Petunia, but seeing that menacing look on her face was quite unsettling.
"Boy! You better stop your incessant screaming and get that lazy arse of yours out of bed into the kitchen before your Uncle comes downstairs. He is not in a good mood today, so don't get in his way. I shouldn't have to remind you to wake up at a proper time to make us breakfast."
"Yes, Aunt Petunia," said Harry dejectedly. He grabbed his glasses from his nightstand and slipped them into place. She gave him one last look to make her point and left him alone in his room. During that brief moment, Harry stole another glance at her face and confirmed what he had noticed earlier; she had another black eye.
After she left, he scooted off the bed and grabbed his work clothes from the floor. They were really just an old pair of Dudley's overly large pants and a long sleeved t-shirt that he wore each day. They smelled rather awful after not having been washed in a few days, but Harry didn't care, especially since where he worked tended to smell much worse.
He pulled the clothes onto his small frame as quickly as possible, trying not to aggravate his injuries any further. He was extremely tired from the lack of a good night's sleep, and his body protested every movement he made. He was still getting over a cold to make matters worse, and he found himself trying to stifle his lingering cough.
He then made his way downstairs to begin making breakfast. By now this task had become routine and he was fairly sure he could do it with his eyes closed: start a pot of coffee, cook the eggs and bacon in separate skillets, and toast some bread. Thankfully, he was alone in the kitchen. He savored these few precious moments of peace he had each morning and actually looked forward to them each day. Lost in his own thoughts, he had no way of knowing that the events that would occur this evening would ultimately change his life forever.
He knew better than to eat anything that he made for his so-called family. Instead he ate his standard breakfast, which usually consisted of a piece of fruit, as he stared outside into the back yard. Occasionally he would stir the contents of each pan, making sure that nothing burned.
Harry sighed deeply, thinking about what his life had come to. He was really nothing more than a house elf to his relatives, and the pressure of pleasing his uncle by working and doing the house chores was becoming overwhelming. Nothing he did seemed to satisfy his uncle and any little mistake he made was punished severely. If he had a choice in the matter he would run away from the Dursleys and never looked back, but being the Boy-Who-Lived complicated matters greatly. Dumbledore had explained to him that he had some sort of blood protection while he stayed with his relatives. If he were to leave, Voldemort and his Death Eaters would surely find and kill him without a second thought. And right now it seemed that he was number one on their hit list.
It wasn't as if he had anywhere to go anyway. Sirius and Remus were currently on a mission for Dumbledore, and Harry was told not to send an owl to his godfather unless it was absolutely necessary because it may give away their current location. Besides there was no real chance that Harry could ever live with him while he was still a wanted criminal.
Harry had once thought about contacting Ron or Hermione about his predicament, but quickly decided that it was a bad idea. He had kept his home life hidden from them for so long that they would probably hate him for lying to them. When he first was introduced to the wizarding world, he wanted desperately to be a "normal" kid, (well as normal as can be when you are the Boy-Who-Lived) so he kept the true nature of his home life hidden.
He had tried to keep up the illusion that everything was fine with the Dursleys, but his friends were quick to pick up minor details that he hadn't given much thought to; like living in a cupboard or doing endless chores. They knew very little about the Dursleys and that which they did know infuriated them to no end. If he admitted the truth they would feel obligated to tell the headmaster, and he didn't want them meddling with things they did not understand.
When he was eight years old, Harry had tried to tell a teacher about what was happening to him at home, but the whole situation had turned rather ugly. Uncle Vernon had some inside connections at the time, and the paperwork and scheduled home visit had been delayed for so long that there was no longer any proof of any wrong doing. His teacher was publicly humiliated for making false accusations and quit her job. In the end, Harry learned his lesson, harshly.
Even if he did try to get help, what would happen to him? Inevitably he would be sent to an orphanage or a foster home of some kind. He had been brainwashed at an early age to believe that was the last place on earth that a kid would want to go; like it was some kind of awful prison system. The Dursleys even threatened to leave him at one whenever they felt he was misbehaving. Lately, he had been wondering if he would have been better off there in the first place. Maybe he could have been adopted into a family that could have loved him. In any case, he was too old for anything like that to happen now.
Harry missed Hogwarts desperately, and counted down the days until he would be able to return. As much as he wanted to see his friends, he knew that they were safer away from him. That much he learned from his experiences last year. He had thought about trying to distance himself from them next year, but he knew that they would probably see through his efforts instantly.
Then again there was the chance that Ron and Hermione might not want anything to do with him after what happened during the third task of the Triwizard Tournament. He hadn't even received so much as an Owl from them yet, and he was unable to contact them because he had sent Hedwig to stay with the Weasleys for her own safety. Vernon had threatened on more than one occasion that he would "throttle that ruddy bird if I hear so much as a peep." Harry couldn't let that happen. Part of him knew deep down that the headmaster had probably requested that they didn't try to communicate with him for security purposes, but there was still a lingering doubt that they might not want to be his friend anymore.
The loss of their friendship would be devastating. He and Ron had argued most of their fourth year and it had been almost unbearable. Ron was one of the most important people in his life, and he couldn't handle it if it were to happen again.
"You better get going," said a voice suddenly. Harry looked up from his cooking and saw his aunt enter the kitchen. She appeared to be holding her left arm to her waist like it was too painful to move. He was fairly sure that her arm wasn't hurt yesterday. He wondered what had happened last night or this morning that Vernon had taken his frustrations out on her. "Go on… I'll finish up…"
Harry nodded sullenly as he walked past his aunt. She took his place by the stove and began to serve up the eggs and bacon on a plate, taking care not to jostle her sprained arm. Thankful that he didn't have to deal with his uncle this morning, he walked out the front door and began making his way up the street towards his job. He had to stop a few times when he had a coughing fit, but otherwise his walk was uneventful.
As he walked, his thoughts brought him back to the events that had transpired so far this summer. Vernon had become particularly violent this year, especially after he had lost his drill business. Of course the Dursleys had blamed his failure on Harry, believing that his "unnaturalness" had somehow caused the company to go bankrupt. In the past the main outlet for his frustrations had been Harry, but now it appeared that his uncle was willing to take his anger out on anyone that happened to be in the way; including his wife Petunia.
The first time it happened, it was a surprise to everyone. Dudley had been finishing his dinner while Harry was washing up the dishes when his aunt and uncle excused themselves to the living room. They began arguing about how they were going to pay the bills without any money, when Vernon hauled off and slapped her across the face. Though the two boys were in the kitchen, they had heard what had happened and were stunned into silence. They had heard them argue countless times before, but never had it come to physical abuse. Neither knew what to do, so they did nothing. Vernon apologized later and said that it would never happen again. Petunia, who desperately wanted to believe him, forgave her husband almost instantly and went about her business as if nothing had happened.
That one incident opened the door for many others. The next month that followed was one of the most difficult in the lives of both Harry and Petunia. Unfortunately, instead of bringing them together, it tore them apart. His aunt truly believed that Harry brought out Vernon's aggressive behavior because of his "freakishness." She refused to admit that there might be something wrong in their marriage. In her mind, Harry was the root of all their problems and resented him for it thoroughly. He sometimes wondered if she might be right.
Harry occasionally tried to fight back, but it always resulted in a much harsher punishment than usual. Harry learned long ago that his uncle was much too large and strong for him to defend himself properly, so he stopped trying.
The only one that didn't seem to incur Vernon's wrath was Dudley, who took as much pleasure in bullying Harry around as his father did. He was a regular chip off the old block that one was. It was as if he was seeking revenge for the Ton Tongue Toffee incident that the Weasley twins had pulled on him last year. Dudley liked to help keep Harry in line when his father wasn't around. Vernon had finally gotten a job working in a factory as a floor manager. Unfortunately, it didn't pay nearly as much as he made before and the family had to make a lot of sacrifices as a result.
Because money was so tight, Harry had been forced to take a job at a local veterinarian, who didn't mind underage kids helping them out in the back rooms. The Dursleys had been greatly relieved to learn that Harry would have little if no interaction with the clients. They had been worried that someone may learn that he wasn't "normal."
Harry was somewhat resentful that Petunia and Dudley weren't working also, but since it got him out of the house and kept him busy, he didn't dwell on it too much. At least the work kept his mind off of more depressing things, like Cedric's death. The down side to the whole situation was that his weekly checks were mailed directly to the Dursleys' house and he never saw a penny of it. It didn't bother him too badly because he knew that if he ever truly needed money he could just go make an exchange at Gringott's.
Harry knew that he probably shouldn't be away from the Dursleys' household for so many hours at a time with the protection charm and all, especially after what Dumbledore had told him about taking precautions. He had tried to explain all of this to his relatives, but they didn't want to hear what he had to say. Seeing that the vet was located in downtown Little Whining only a few blocks away, he figured it was safe enough to walk to and from work each day.
It was a nasty job, and Harry hated every minute of it. His ten hour day consisted of cleaning up the exam rooms and taking care of the cats and dogs boarded in the kennels. He thought at first that this would be a simple task until he realized how many times a day that he would have clean and re-clean all the messes that went on in the clinic. He was sure that the Dursleys took pleasure in knowing that he cleaned up dog poop all day long. His only joy in his job was playing with the animals that were boarded there.
He finally crossed the last remaining streets and cut through an alleyway as he neared the vet. The backdoor near the empty parking lot had been propped open for him and he let himself in. The customers wouldn't start arriving for another hour or so.
The clinic's doctor was checking on some of the patients that had surgery yesterday when he entered. "Hey, Harry," he said, not even looking up from his examinations in the cages. He was a man of few words and treated Harry mainly with disdain. The Dursleys told the doctor that Harry attended St. Brutus's Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys because he was a delinquent, and that he needed the job to set him on the right path again.
"Hey," he replied walking past the man quickly. Harry didn't care for the vet's cold attitude all that much, and stayed out of his way as much as possible. He reminded him a little too much of his uncle for his liking. After punching in his time card in the staff lounge, he set to work cleaning out and spraying down the many kennels, mindful of his bruised and tired body all the while.
As he worked he remembered that one of the receptionists up front had another big family barbeque at her home last night. He hoped that she had thought to bring in the left overs to share with the others like she did last time. If not, Harry would go hungry again until dinner that night. The Dursleys wouldn't allow him to pack a lunch, and he didn't have any spending money to buy anything to eat along the way. The other few employees hadn't really noticed his lack of meals because they all ate separately throughout the day whenever they had a moment or two. When asked if he had eaten, Harry came up with an elaborate lie about what he had packed that day. Drinking lots of water seemed to hold the hunger at bay.
He knew that he was getting extremely thin and he hated lying to his co-workers, but there wasn't much he could do about it. At least he was able to eat when he came home from work. Whatever the Dursleys hadn't eaten at their dinner, Harry was allowed to have. Most of the time it wasn't much more than a chicken leg or some vegetables that weren't cooked properly, but at least it was something. It was a lot more than he got when Dudley was dieting.
"Bye Dr. Haslett. I'll see you tomorrow," said Harry tiredly as he finished checking on all the animals.
"Yeah, see ya," replied the aging gentleman as he let the young boy out. Harry sometimes wondered what had possessed the older man to ever go into veterinary medicine when he clearly didn't like the job. He had never once seen him crack a smile or even respond the animals affectionately. It was something of an enigma to Harry.
Much to his surprise, it was pouring down with rain when he got outside. Being indoors all day in an area devoid of windows, he wouldn't have been able to notice any of the storm clouds rolling in. He was without an umbrella, and he felt rather disheartened at the sight of the down pour because of what occurred the last time he came home soaking wet. He had tried to get rid of as much water as possible before coming inside the Dursley residence, but as fate would have it he got the floors soaking wet nonetheless. Petunia had been furious when she discovered him trying to clean up the mess he had made, but Vernon had been even angrier. Harry had been truly afraid of his uncle that night, and it was the first time he wondered if he would make it back to school in the fall.
It was late in the evening, and the black clouds made the twilight seem somehow darker than usual. He hated to walk home in this dark and stormy weather because it wasn't going to help his cold any. It also made him feel much more vulnerable to an attack, but he didn't have much of a choice. At least he had enough sense to carry his wand with him at all times. He neatly tucked it up his long sleeve each day before he left for work just in case he was ever attacked by Death Eaters. He didn't care if he was an underage wizard or not. If he encountered a threat, he would do whatever was necessary to protect himself.
It was much colder than it had been earlier and Harry found himself shivering slightly. The rain must have brought a cold front with it. He didn't want to be late getting home so he shoved his hands into his pockets and jogged out into the rain, turning his head to one side in order to see as he splashed through the cold spray. Just as he reached the side street, a car came whizzing up beside him.
Harry was surprised to see that it was his uncle's black Ford Escort. The driver's side window rolled down to reveal Vernon's massive face.
"Get in boy!" Vernon said pointing to the passenger side. Harry stood there numb with shock. He had never been picked up from work before, and he couldn't imagine why he was now.
"But… why…" he stammered stupidly.
"Your aunt and I don't want you to come home and make another mess. Now get in the car before I have to get out and come get you!" he shouted angrily, his words slightly slurred. Harry wondered briefly if his uncle might be drunk, but knew that if he didn't get in the car that it would be a lot worse for him later.
Without another word, Harry walked around the front of the car and climbed into the passenger side. He was grateful that he was out of the rain, but he was a little confused by the situation. He wouldn't make a mess in the house now, but he was still soaking wet from the short time he spent outside. He realized now that he was getting the seat he was sitting on wet instead, and wondered if he would be blamed for this somehow.
Feeling rather uncomfortable about his situation, he buckled in just as Vernon gave him a hateful glare. Harry stared out at the dismal scenery wondering what would transpire later tonight. It was getting to the point that he would rather live on the streets and have to face Death Eaters than to spend another night in his hateful relatives household.
His uncle pulled onto the main street quickly and merged with the traffic. A strong smell of alcohol wafted his way, and Harry felt his heart quicken. He had been drinking after all. He silently prayed that they would get home in one piece, and that when they got there that he stayed in one piece. This was bad, very bad. Vernon was known to drink and drive, but never when there was someone else in the car.
They drove on in relative silence as they listened to the sound of the rain drumming against the car's roof. Harry had to fight the urge to cough on several occasions for fear his uncle might yell at him for spreading his germs. His normally messy black hair was plastered against his head in spiking tendrils that dripped water on his shirt and onto the back of his seat. He removed his glasses to wipe away some of the remaining water droplets, sending his world into a temporary blur of color. When he replaced them once again, something Vernon was doing caught his attention.
Uncle Vernon was trying to hold a bottle of whiskey and the steering wheel with one hand, while trying to unscrew the cap with the other. Not being able to accomplish this simple task, he took his eyes off the road in a moment of frustration. A moment was all it took.
"Uncle Vernon!" Harry shouted to get his attention, and pointed ahead of him.
Vernon had failed to recognize that the car ahead of him had stopped to make a right hand turn. Realizing that they were about to rear end it, Vernon swerved the car wildly into the left hand lane. They cleared the stopped vehicle without incident, but their black Escort was now moving out of control. Vernon then swerved back towards the right lane once more to avoid a red Renault that was moving more slowly than them on the left side of the road. This quick maneuver caused the car rock dangerously back and forth.
Vernon tried to slow the vehicle down by stomping on the brakes, but the tires locked up and began squealing loudly. Unfortunately, the road was so slick with water that their car suddenly slid sideways into oncoming traffic. It had all happened so quickly that Harry looked around frantically to figure out what was going on when he saw headlights coming directly at them.
"No!" he screamed. Before Harry knew what was happening their car was struck by another vehicle with a sickening sound of metal hitting metal. It slammed into the front passenger side at full speed before it even had a chance to decelerate. The other driver probably didn't even realize what had happened.
So many things occurred in that fraction of a moment that it took Harry's brain quite a while later to sort everything out. The air bags had deployed instantly, smacking Harry and his uncle in the face to prevent any forward movement into the windshield or dashboard. As they deflated the car was filled with a dusty gas that made Harry choke painfully. Harry was pretty sure from the centrifugal force he had sensed that the car has spun around 360 degrees after it had been struck. Opening his eyes cautiously he could see through the rain that they were now rolling to a stop on the opposite side of the road. Cars could be heard honking and slamming on their brakes in all directions to avoid the accident.
When the car finally came to a stop, Harry looked over to where his uncle was sitting. He couldn't see very clearly because the lens on the left side of his glasses had cracked. The large man appeared to be unconscious, and from the look of the cut on the right side of his forehead he must have sustained some sort of head injury, probably from the driver's side window. There was also a lot of blood on his right forearm, and bone could be seen protruding through the broken skin.
Sickened by the sight, Harry turned his head away quickly and felt instantly dizzy. His head was swimming now as he slowly began to register that he was in pain. He reached a hand slowly to his head wondering if he somehow had hit his head as well, when a sharp pain on the left side of his chest took his breath away. He must have hurt his already bruised ribs in the accident. He moved slightly to his right to lessen the pain in his left side and felt a muscle twinge painfully in his lower back. Glancing downwards he saw that his left ankle was twisted strangely to the right. When he straightened it, the agony that shot up through his leg caused him to howl in pain.
"No," his mind screamed. "No, no, no… this isn't happening! What am I going to do!"
Just then a man who was talking on a mobile phone came up to their car and tried to open his door. After several attempts at tugging on the latch, he gave up and knocked on his window to make sure he had his attention.
"Are you okay?" he shouted through the glass.
"I don't know," Harry replied sadly. He knew he was hurt, but to what extent he was unable to determine.
"We're going to get you out as soon as possible, son. Just hang in there," he said. He turned away from the vehicle and continued to talk on his mobile, probably talking to the authorities about the accident.
Harry didn't even try to nod at him; he just stared at the man trying to quell the tears that pricked at the corner of his eyes. He felt very alone and vulnerable in that moment, and he had no idea what was going to happen to him. There wasn't any way that he could contact anyone in the wizarding world for help now. He knew that he was hurt and that the paramedics would probably take him to the hospital. But he couldn't let that happen because then they would all know what he had been trying to hide for nearly 13 years. He had never been so scared. Life as he knew it was crumbling down around him.
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