Title: A Rush of
Blood to the Head
Warnings: Language, Violence, Rape, and Self Cutting
Fandom: Harry Potter
Summary: 'Harry had a habit of keeping things he shouldn't.' That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.
Time Period: Seventh year
Word Count: 4,152
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
The title is taken from the Coldplay album of the same name.
A Rush of Blood to the Head
1. a little bit of everything
Harry had a habit of keeping things he shouldn't. Crumpled Chocolate Frog wrappers littered the bottom of his trunk amidst the bent quills and empty inkwells. The pieces of his godfather's mirror had been carefully wrapped in a cloth and tucked into the left pocket of his best school robes, folded under his other school things. And the ink spattered remains of Tom Riddle's diary were tucked under a loose floor board beside his bed at Number Four Privet Drive.
This wouldn't necessarily be a problem if he would forget that the objects were there and then move on. The wrappers and other refuse had been easy to put there, and it was only when cleaning out his trunk they were a bother. The shards were sharp and pricked him even through the cloth when he took out his robes to see if they still fit. But the book presented no danger, was no problem to him, and still he brought it out.
The diary was fine quality, and it was a shame that it had been hexed with the memory of Europe's most evil wizard. The front had a leather feel to it, the bindings strong. The only visible drawback to it was the large, venomous fang sticking from its core, and the trails of dried ink along its surface.
A thin coating of dust had gathered on the book since its years under the floorboard. He wiped at it with his shirt sleeve, not quite sure why, and trailed his fingers gently along the ink stains. The diary seemed so complacent now, so lifeless and normal. If the fang of the Basilisk hadn't been there, he might have been even tempted to open it.
But he put it back in its place in the hollow space in his floor before going back to dumping all the rolled up balls of parchment in his trunk into the garbage bin.
2. sometimes fantastic
There were a few things that Harry Potter was still not used to, and one of them was bad dreams. Of course he had them, everyone did, and he knew that everyone did; that wasn't the point. The point was, his were worse, because many of them were real.
The snake dream in his fifth year, the one where he nearly killed Arthur Weasley; that was real. And all the dreams that showed him the Department of Mysteries; those were real too. The dream where Voldemort attacked and murdered the Longbottoms during the sixth year Sorting Ceremony; dear god, that was strikingly true, and Neville never needed to know that Harry had seen it the night before and did nothing.
But these dreams were stronger than those. In these dreams, Voldemort is stalking him, hiding behind shadows, and Harry knew that he was really there. He knew that the dream where Tom Riddle tortured him, ripped out his eyes and his heart while he was still alive, was going to really happen. The dreams where Ron abandons him, Hermione dies, and Draco Malfoy is left laughing; those were days away, and he only shrugged them off in the mornings, though they didn't lighten his mood any all through breakfast time.
It was during one of these morning meals that Harry was subdued and remembering exactly the way the snake's face had looked as it was strangling Seamus Finnigan in his sleep that the Dursleys brought up the matter of buying his school supplies. Every year before, Harry had been brought to London in some fashion other than his aunt and uncle, though this year, they were determined to keep him. He didn't know why, but who was he to argue when they attempted to do something fairly decent for him?
"Boy, when do you go back to Mumpwards?" His Uncle Vernon was still fazed by magic and the school where it was taught, even if he was trying to be nice about it. It was the fact that his own name, not the name of the school, had been forgotten that miffed Harry slightly.
"September first, and it's Hogwarts." Three exact flinches around the table, one from each of his relatives, and Harry shrugged his shoulders as he stabbed a sausage with his fork. "You know, you really don't have to bring me. I could always go to the We-"
"We'll bring you, boy, don't worry." His uncle's mouth was a thin, straight line, and Harry wondered why. Why they were set on seeing him off, this last year of Hogwarts, when all others they couldn't wait to be rid of him. Why his uncle was nervously playing with his spoon. Why his aunt spontaneously got up to fetch the coffee pot, even though her saucer was still full. "Now then, Hogwarped-"
"Yes, Hogwarts, it's got a list of school items, then?" And they arranged to go the following Saturday, the twenty-third. It was cutting it close to the day he was supposed to leave, but Harry didn't complain as he sopped up the rest of the syrup from his plate with a piece of toast and excused himself from the table.
It was a bright day, and Harry went back up to his room and threw his windows open wide. Today, he decided, would be perfect. This meant, in essence, staying out of the way of his relatives and reading in the sun. He grabbed his Transfiguration book out of his trunk and took the stairs two at a time on the way back down.
When he settled himself out on the grass behind the house he let out one heavy sigh and opened to the first page. Chapter One: Advanced Transfiguration and You.
The next twenty minutes were quite blissful, true, but after that, a nagging feeling appeared in the pit of his stomach. He still hadn't quite forgotten the shrieks of pain and horror and 'why don't you do something, Harry!' that Seamus had been screaming, and still hadn't forgotten the fact that he had felt nothing during the whole thing. He sat up and looked around.
There was nothing around him but the yard he had seen for sixteen years of his life, and this in itself was not interesting at all. Until there, three feet from his body, a green garden snake slithered closer. He looked at it for a moment, looked back at the house, and knew.
The sounds that came from his throat were not human. Raspy, forced hissing, his eyes wide as the snake listened and understood the Parseltongue he had practiced very little of. And when he had finished, the snake issued some of his own, and then slunk away, the message that he brought pressing Harry's mind.
"I heard that." Harry looked up. His cousin stood peering out from behind a tree, arms crossed over his chest. Dudley was still fat, despite loosing fifty pounds over the last school year and summer vacation. And he was still obnoxious and Harry still wanted to punch him without threat of being punched back. "I'll tell mum unless you tell me what you said to that snake."
Harry laughed and set his book down on the grass next to him. "What tells you that I was talking to it? I could just be going insane, you realize." Dudley looked as if he had considered this prospect already, so Harry continued. "I told it to go away, that's all."
"Huh." Dudley sat, arms hugging his legs to his chest, staring at the trail the snake had left in the trim grass. "Why can you talk to snakes?"
"Parseltongue. It's an ability given to me from my fath-" Harry stopped. His father didn't give him Parseltongue, Voldemort did. His father gave him his strong morals and great Quidditch skills and unruly black hair, and Voldemort gave him no parents and the ability to talk to the lowliest creatures. "From the man who killed my parents. Not something you want, even in the wizarding world."
Dudley considered this. "Teach me?"
Harry was only slightly stunned. "Most certainly not. I'm not going to teach my Muggle cousin how to speak to serpents, because I wish that I didn't even know how to do it." And he got up, leaving Dudley to pout.
Dudley wasn't the only one who heard it, though.
3. the hare beats the tortoise
Sleep that night was restless, not only because of the storm that had overtaken the perfect sky of earlier that day. Harry lay over his blankets, staring at the ceiling over his bed, wondering why exactly the snake had told him to follow the ink.
Of course, he had investigated all of the ink bottles in his trunk, and looked over all of the homework essays that he had scrawled out over the summer. Nothing. Not one indication of why a snake was warning him about ink. And before today, hell, Harry hadn't even known there was a Parseltongue word for ink.
No, he hadn't checked everything and he knew it. All but the diary, full of tainted ink and absolutely no threat to him now. Tom Riddle's diary was like a shell, and the shell was empty, and only had a very large snake tooth to show of what had happened to it. He didn't know why he didn't just look, but it wasn't because he was afraid.
All right, maybe a little bit.
The dreams, nightmares, had been getting worse the past few weeks. Now he could feel the press of darkness right before a Death Eater's spell connected, could feel the shiver that ran down his spine before his legs broke when running from the manticore being ridden by Bellatrix Lestrange. Could feel the cold sweat on his forehead that was there when he actually did wake up.
And now the snake. This would not be alright.
But that did not keep him from prying open the board and pulling out the diary, a lightening flash outside his window as he held it in his lap. It seemed no different from any other time he had seen it, held it, touched his fingers to the basilisk fang and attempted to pull it out, but caught himself. Except, now he didn't catch himself, and didn't bother trying to, anyway, as the fang came loose and the thunderclap from the lightning came.
Damn storms, making him jumpy and nervous and the scene more dramatic.
He got out of bed and flicked on the overhead light, his uncle's snores coming in through the crack under the door. He didn't go back to his bed right away, instead walking over to Hedwig's cage, pressing his head against the metal grates and wondering where she was.
She had been sent to Ron's three days ago, though the Weasleys did always pamper her when she visited. He had the most prima donna of the owls…
Harry expected the diary to do something when the fang was pulled out. But… nothing. It didn't even grow tentacles or attempt to kill him. It just lay there, the fang next to it, the traces of blood still faint on the base of it and making him wish he could just go to sleep again. But he didn't, and just looked at it as he sat back on the bed.
One hand on the cover, eyes ready to catch anything that might happen and- "What's that?"
"Jesus bloody Christ, Dudley!" Harry looked up to find his cousin standing in the doorway. "You're fucking stalking me!"
"No. Your light turned on." Dudley's eyes went from the book with the large hole through the middle, to the large fang next to it. "And don't cuss at me, or I'll-"
"Tell your mum or beat me up, I know. Go back to bed, it's nothing." Pause. "Really." Dudley sidled off, and Harry sighed. His heart exploded out of his chest, and he decided that now was probably the best time to get this over and done with. He opened the front page.
Nothing bloody happened. It was just a book with a hole down the center and some ink splotches on the page. That was it. It was quite anticlimactic, especially after the storm and his cousin's interruption. He pushed both the book and the fang to the floor, not even caring to tuck them away, and crawled back underneath his blankets.
And he fell asleep.
4. not much he could delay
In retrospect, taking the Dursleys to Diagon Alley was a very, very bad decision. And it was not something he wanted to remember, because he had met the Malfoys, the two that were out of Azkaban at least, in the Leaky Cauldron.
Needless to say, the event went quite horribly, and Draco Malfoy had some new reasons to make fun of Harry. After the trip, Harry had stormed to his room with his new materials and refused to come down for a supper of corned beef.
He sat on his bed, staring at the fading sunlight out his window until his eyes drooped and he yawned and realized that there was no longer sun out, but instead velvet blackness.
And he realized that his fingernails were digging into his own arm and drawing blood that fell to the floor in bravado droplets. Why he didn't feel the pain it should have caused was beyond him. But he hadn't felt pain in his dreams, why now?
Wasn't this a dream too?
A knock at the door, and he made no motion to hide the blood as Dudley walked into the room. The plate of food he was carrying felt to the floor, the baked potato rolling all the way under the bed. "What the hell are you doing?" Dudley's voice came out as a half squeak, and Harry chuckled under his breath.
"Black magic." He raised his arm to his cousin, who ran from the room and back down the stairs. There was the noise of a chair quickly being scraped across tiled floor, and heavy thumping as Vernon climbed the staircase.
There was a moment in time where Harry and Uncle Vernon both knew each other quite well, and it was that instant. Vernon saw the blood drip to the floor, pooling up next to his nephew's bed, and Harry saw the wide-eyed terror in the large man's face. They knew each other so well that they knew not to speak of what happened. His uncle turned back down the stairs, Harry dabbed at his arm with his sheet, and Dudley was left in the hallway, where he had been standing behind his father, wanting to eavesdrop.
"That book with the claw in it… where is that from?" Dudley took a step into Harry's room, ignoring the scathing looks he was receiving. It wasn't that Harry didn't like his cousin deep down; it was just that Dudley was quite good at being a stupid bully, and that was the impression Harry would always have of him.
"It's a fang, and I got it at school." Harry reached under his bed, fishing around for the potato that was probably covered in dust balls and the other scary things underneath there. His fingers brushed the diary, and recoiled, because it was warm. "Why's everyone being nice to me this summer?" He grabbed onto it, the warmth pulsing through his fingers, and pulled it out. "It's not normal."
"Mum and dad heard you have money," Dudley said, drawing closer to the bed, peering at the diary carefully. "And I-"
"You, I understand. You're curious why you don't have it, right?" There had been dreams where Dudley became a wizard, where Dudley followed him to Hogwarts, and he knew that his cousin had questions. His dreams were real enough, after all. "Your parent's actions do make sense now. How much have they heard I have down there?"
"It's not scary, like mum says it is. You're not demented or anything yet, don't got four noses or anything. I don't see the big deal." Harry held the diary in his lap, his cousin standing over him, clenching his hands. "What is the book, really?"
"Go to bed, Dudley," Harry said, pointing out the door. Dudley blinked, and shook his head. "Please leave. I want to sleep."
I want to be free.
His eyes wandered around the room, wondering why there was a sudden voice in his head, and wondering why he was turning delusional. There was no one here. He was tired. "If you go, I'll… I'll tell you all about Hogwarts tomorrow. Anything you want to know."
And as Dudley left and flicked off the overhead light, Harry did nothing but stare at the door closing until long after his cousin was gone. He felt cold, and not because the window was open, and not because he was numb.
He felt cold, and the diary gave him warmth. It was a stupid notion, he knew, that the diary was somehow alive or warm at all. It was dead. Tom Riddle's memory was dead, and there was nothing here but dry ink and horrible memories.
Was that why he kept coming back to it? Because it was simple and dry and dead?
I don't want the darkness.
His eyes hurt. His head hurt, and he was hearing voices again. Soft, soothing voices that called to him and made him more aware that something was wrong with him. Maybe he finally was going crazy. Perhaps prolonged magic use does, like his aunt and uncle say, turn one batty. But no.
There were three things that he wanted now, the top on that list being a glass of water. It was an easy task to manage, and he left the diary lying on his bed on his trek to the bathroom.
5. maybe everything
It was only when he woke up in darkness that Harry thought something might be astray. While he had fallen asleep on his bed at Hogwarts, he was nowhere in his dormitory, nor anywhere in the castle that he knew of.
Either he was a fantastic sleepwalker, or something was terribly wrong.
When he attempted to roll over onto his side, the restraints on his arms became more noticeable by digging into his skin, piercing and drawing a thin trickle of blood over the recently-healed fingernail punctures. It hurt like hell, and he made so vocally apparent.
"Scream for me, then?" The voice he had been hearing in his head for weeks, the voice which could alternate between human syllables and Parseltongue, reverberated around the room. Volume bounced off of every corner of darkness, until Harry shouted out again only to break that sound into dust. "Good boy."
"Who are you?" This wasn't a dream, though of course he wasn't sure what a dream was or wasn't anymore. There had been dozens since school started again, countless where he died, or didn't die but wanted to, in ways more numerous than the stars. Now was possibly one of those nightmares, only not.
Laughing. It was a soft laugh, almost a child's laugh. A sugar-coated, innocent laugh that made Harry's skin peel and blood run dry, turning to ink. "You know who, Harry."
He did know, because who else would it be in his nightmares? Living here, haunting here. "Tom Riddle."
"Very good job. You get a prize, if you really want one." The darkness was gone, replaced by flickering torchlight and thick stone walls. And Tom Riddle. "I want you to want a prize, Harry, because it's more fun that way."
"Fuck off!" He screamed at the top of his lungs, and the sound never left his tongue. Tom's hand was clenched around his throat, palm pulsing against his Adam's apple, fingers leaving bruise marks that would blossom if Harry could breathe ever again.
And, on cue, oxygen filled his lungs and he swallowed at it hungrily, eyes rolling back in his head until there was only black again, and Tom Riddle in his ear whispering, "Harry Potter wins no prize from me."
There was a moment where Harry contemplated hitting Tom, or killing himself. Either would do fine, only his arms were strapped to his sides and Tom's breath was warm on his ear, and his neck, and his jaw. Tom's breath was everywhere, as were his fingers, brushing trails down Harry's arms until they tingled.
"Harry Potter must give me a prize now." Harry's eyes opened to meet ruby red ones, hard fire, and he clenched them shut again. Tom's finger moved to Harry's neck, and then the curve of his jaw, and then his lips.
Harry couldn't tell which of them counted to three, and then Tom's finger was replaced by his lips. They were surprisingly soft for the boy who would become Dark Lord, smooth and Harry tried to shut his eyes harder, to draw himself away from this place.
"You're no fun, you know." Tom pulled away and sighed. "Ginny Weasley fought back. She refused me."
And Harry knew. "You son of a bitch." He didn't care what he saw when he opened his eyes again, and opened them to Tom smirking down at him, black hair in his eyes. "You touched her. You fucking touched her! She was eleven, Tom!"
"And she'll never have that innocence again," Tom said, and Harry wanted to cry. To weep, because Tom Riddle existed. "Do you have that innocence, Harry?"
"I hate you!"
"I know." And Tom was on top of Harry, lips pressed together, bodies pressed together, and Harry did nothing to stop him. If Ginny couldn't keep Tom off, why should he? Why should he be so special? "Oh, come now. Your arm restraints have come untied, and you still won't struggle?"
"She was eleven."
"You're seventeen. I see no difference." Tom's kisses tasted like ink and blood, and Harry became accustomed to them as they covered his skin. "I loved her, for a moment, you know. She was something I could never have, and I loved her all the more for it."
"Then you raped her. How nice of you." Harry felt Tom nip his skin, teeth pressing together and drawing blood all over again.
"You don't see it, do you? She wanted it, for that moment."
"Liar." There was a certain way Tom was biting him, breathing him, that made Harry loose himself. He hated it, absolutely hated this. Why couldn't Tom just bite until no more blood ran out?
It was the feeling of the cool blade along his arm that made him snap back and scream out. Tom only smiled. "I've given up using a wand for awhile. These Muggle tools are much better for the screams." Another slash across his lower wrist, one on his shoulder. "Scream for me, then?"
Harry blacked out, and felt nothing more.
6. trees of crystal
There were times when Harry would wake up screaming, clutching at cuts on his arms that were no longer there. There were other times when he would trace at their scars with his fingernails until they bled again, as if he were letting some form of poison out through them.
Ginny was the only one who understood the need to trace red lines on his skin like that. She comforted him when he cried, rocking him back and forth, running her hand through his hair. And he would do the same for her.
They weren't married out of love or affection. It was more of a longing, or even a necessity, because Harry needed someone and Ginny only had Tom to comfort her when no one else slept in her bed.
Everyone told Harry that his nightmare wasn't real. Ginny told him so between the sheets when they had meaningless sex to keep up the façade of a marriage. Harry wondered if the nightmares ever had been fake or not.
When Harry and Ginny had a child and named him James, no one saw the hurt in Ginny's eyes as she breastfed or cradled him in her arms. No one cared to comment on the fact that Harry never wanted to hold his son. It wasn't because they didn't love him; it was because they loved him far too much.
Harry hadn't ever had a chance to grow up, and Ginny had even less of one. The war came and went, and Harry eventually died of old age and a lack of caring. His son went on to be Minister of Magic, and his mother was proud of him, but still wouldn't hug him without crying later that night.
Sometimes, without Harry beside her, Ginny dreamt of Tom again because she couldn't help it. He was still young and so was she, and there was nothing there that she could do but obey him and scream.