The Summer of My Discontent
This story is the product of my own mind (muddled though it may be). The characters are, sadly, not mine. They belong to J. K. Rowling. I just play with them, and bend them to my will occasionally. Occasionally they see fit to take over the story, and then I am at the mercy of their will. This is a one-shot. There will be no follow-up chapters or sequels.
This story is completely AU, and there will be quite a bit of out of character-ness. One spoiler for OotP. One rather major spoiler. There are deaths of characters.
Summary:Harry has given up. What happens when 'The-Boy-Who-Lived' wishes to die?
………………… On with the story ……………
Summer after fifth year. Yes, that was the summer of my discontent. The summer from Hell. And not just because Sirius had been thrust through that damnable veil in the Ministry of Magic, either. That was a large part of it, but not the be all, and end all.
First, to understand, you must realize a simple truth about human nature. There is a certain comfort in routine, even if that routine is unpleasant, even if it borders on abuse.
Understand too, I am not now, nor have I ever been, a masochist; but I understood the Dursley's treatment of me all those years. I'd come to expect it, though I didn't like it. I knew as certainly as I knew the sun would rise, that they would berate me, and make me work harder than many a house-elf.
I knew deep in my soul that what my uncle felt for me surpassed hate, and rivaled anything Voldemort had ever felt for me. I knew that, had it not been for the directive from some of the members of 'The Order,' that the Dursley's treat me better, Vernon would have done everything in his power, short of killing me himself, to see to it that I died that summer … and I welcomed it.
I left Hogwarts at the end of that year almost looking forward to the routine that life at Privet Drive had become. It was a bleak life, a somber life to be sure. It was a life lacking joy, laughter, life, and love; but it was what I knew, what I understood. And it was gone; taken from me by well-intentioned members of the Order, in a bid to ease my way, alleviate my suffering.
The drive to my relatives' house was tense. So tense that had they been magical folk, the air around them would have crackled with wild magic. Instead, it was oppressive, thick with their negativity towards me and my 'kind,' suffocating with the loathing for magic in general, and me specifically.
When we finally arrived at 'the house' as I call it (they - the Dursleys - by the way, call it 'home'), I was ordered to my room and told not to show my 'sorry face' until I was called. I wasn't called.
I stayed in my room the whole summer, except for trips to the bathroom. I had no chores assigned, and no duties expected of me, except to remain silent and pretend that I didn't exist.
I was used to pretending that I didn't exist while there, but I was also used to doing all the cooking, cleaning, and yard work. Those chores … chores that had been my torment along with the cupboard under the stairs, had also at times been my refuge from reality, my solace, even in some perverse way, my comfort.
This summer I had nothing and no one. I don't know if my friends wrote or not. My window had been, not only barred, but boarded up as well. My only consolation was that I had left Hedwig at Hogwarts.
I knew I was in no fit shape to care for her, and I knew she'd at least have the companionship of other owls. Besides, Hagrid would visit on occasion. I knew he visited the owlery at least once a week to check on the health of the owls; and Hagrid loves Hedwig, and she loves him.
Anyway, I stayed in my room. Petunia brought a piece of toast and half glass of water for breakfasts, a piece of bread with a small chunk of cheese and a half glass of water for lunches. Sometimes she'd sacrifice some portion of their dinner for me, and I do mean sacrifice. It was usually a burnt offering, burned beyond recognition, and refused by Dudley.
I spent most of my waking hours reassessing my life, examining my options, and trying to convince myself that I had a future and reasons to live. The reassessment of my life always came up wanting. There was so much I didn't do that I should have. So many things that would have made things work out better - for everyone.
If the curse had killed me when it knocked Voldemort out of his body after he killed my parents, thousands of good people would still be alive. Sirius would never have gone after Pettigrew, nor would he have had to spend twelve years in Azkaban, and two more on the run.
There probably never would have been the issue with Quirrell and the Sorcerer's stone. I'd never have been in the Tri-Wizard tournament, and so Cedric would never have been killed, and Voldemort wouldn't have come back.
So many things I did, or didn't do, that caused thousands of deaths. Every time I rehashed my life, my reassessment ended up the same. I cause pain, death, and destruction. Vernon, Petunia, and even Snape were right. I'm worthless.
Once I'd assessed everything again, I would begin again to try to work out my options. I'd try to think about what I could do to make the world a better place for everyone. To be honest, I really didn't come up with much.
I thought about sneaking to Diagon Alley, and buying every book on dueling, Dark Arts, and Defense against the Dark Arts that I could find, but figured, I just didn't care enough any more to bother. I didn't care about fighting. I didn't care about learning. I didn't care about … anything, really. So I never went.
I thought about just studying the books I already have. Thanks to birthday and Christmas presents - mostly from Hermione, Remus, and Sirius, from when I was twelve through fifteen, I'd built a fair little library. Of course it doesn't begin to compare against even one shelf at Hogwarts' library, but it is a start.
As I was saying, I thought about just studying the books I already have. Somehow, I just couldn't muster the energy to begin. I'm not really sure I even truly had the desire to study them.
Studying them would have meant that I would, some time, have to take action using that knowledge. In all honesty, I don't think I would have taken action. My sense of self-preservation seemed to have died when Sirius fell through … well, I just didn't care.
I thought about asking the headmaster if I could return to Hogwarts early and resume Occlumency lessons with Snape, but … no. I couldn't do that. Besides, I'm sure the headmaster would have twinkled at me, nodded, and verbally patted me on the head, all the while telling me that as much as I needed such lessons, they could wait until September, "and oh by the way, do remember to clear your mind before going to bed."
Options. I really didn't see that I had very many. The few that there were, were not at all enticing. They all boiled down to: kill or be killed, or kill and be killed. Neither combination was attractive, and a year ago, I'd have definitely opted for the first, if forced to choose.
Now, however, the second seemed not only the more likely outcome, but the preferable outcome. Still, I didn't want to be a part of the war-effort. The more I thought about it, the more I just wanted out. Out of the war, out of the strife within the Wizarding World, out of life.
As the days dragged on, I began to realize this line of thinking wasn't helping. It was time to add another element into the mix. I'd try adding in thinking about what I had to live for. It didn't take long to come to the conclusion that I really had very little tying me to the mortal plane. There were Ron, Hermione, and Hagrid, but they'd be safer without me, and certainly better off.
There was Remus. Merlin knows, I care about him. I care a lot about him, but I needed more than that to keep me interested in staying. My guilt about causing his last best friend's death ate at me, and corroded what little desire to live that my affection for Remus may have engendered. I felt as if my caring for him was tarnished, flawed, as if I didn't have a right to care.
Once again, my thoughts reached a dead-end. I tried thinking about my future. Tried to envision a future. My mind rebelled. I could think no further than the next minute. My mind could not fathom a life beyond that.
I tried to imagine a life after Voldemort, a life in which I could be normal, a life in which I loved, and was loved in return. The conclusions I drew were disheartening, to say the least. Now, looking back, perhaps the conclusions were wrong, but I drew them nonetheless.
I concluded that no matter what, I would never be afforded the luxury of being normal, of being 'just Harry.' I would never have the comfort of loving or being loved, not in this life. So, what was the purpose of clinging to an existence; for life without love is just that … existence. It is not living. I didn't want to exist that way. To merely survive with no hope of a life seemed pointless.
The days trudged on in the same manner with me sitting in my room, remaining silent and pretending that I didn't exist. It wasn't hard to pretend that I didn't exist except when Voldemort would start something. Then the pain in my scar would bring reality home very quickly. Pain is quite a reminder that one is alive.
It was during this time that I wrote my will. I left my books to Hermione, my broom and all things Quidditch to Ron. I left my photo album and half my money to Remus. I left half my money to the Weasley family. I left my invisibility cloak and Hedwig to my first friend ever, Hagrid. I left my socks and my wand to Headmaster Dumbledore. Beyond that, I really had nothing else to give.
I had lost track of time after a while. I couldn't tell you if I'd been there two weeks or two months, but one afternoon, Vernon came into my room. I don't know what set him off, and don't suppose I will ever find out now, although it's really not important any more.
The point is … something set him off, and he was no longer worried about the warnings he had received from Remus and the others about treating me well. Perhaps he felt that getting a little piece of my skin would be worth any repercussions from them. Perhaps, in the end, he believed their words of caution were empty threats. Whatever he thought, he apparently no longer cared. It was more important to hurt me than it was for him to heed the warnings.
The last thing I remember before being greeted by you was my uncle telling me that he demands a little respect, and I told him that I was giving him a little as I could. Then he said if I made one single noise, I'd wish I were dead. I told him I already wished I were dead, and had wished so off and on for as far back as I could remember.
Then my world went dark, and I woke up here; wherever here is, and I'm sorry, but I don't remember your name.
"Forgive us, Mr. Potter, I am Michael. Peter would have greeted you, but there are those here who felt that by virtue of his name, his presence would have been uncomfortable for you. He is, however, the keeper of the gates."
I nodded my acceptance of what he said. I would have been disconcerted having to speak with a man named Peter, given the history of that name in the events of my life.
My companion smiled and nodded before addressing me again, "Well, Mr. Potter, I believe we have a spot reserved for you, and I'm sure you'll be pleased by the self-appointed welcoming committee awaiting your arrival." As he finished speaking, the large gates swung open for me.
"Sir, if I may … I need to know …"
"How is it I came to be here? I mean, one minute my uncle is doing his best to … well … anyway, the next minute I'm here. I know I didn't Apparate."
"No. That's true enough, Child. You did not Apparate. In essence. You gave up. You wished to be here. You wished with all your soul for perfect love, and this is the only place one can find that. In summation: your prayers, my child, have been answered."
"At last." I whispered. "May I ask another question, Sir?"
"Why me? Why was I the one who was never loved? Why was I the one who had to watch Cedric and Sirius die? Why was I the one who was prophesied to rid the Wizarding World of Voldemort?"
"One question, indeed. Four questions with one answer. Child, you were the 'Light Child,' the 'Chosen One,' the 'Bringer of Light, Love, and Peace.' Your life was not intended to be one made up of nothing but hardships, loss, and pain. However, when free will is left to humans, even the best laid plans of 'Deities on High' oft times go awry. They have before, they did this time, and sad to say, they shall again.
"The forces which conspired against you were forces made by man, not by the Divine. Realize, Child, no prophesy made by man is written in granite. More often than not, it is through man's actions, freely chosen, or subconsciously made, that bring the prophesy to fruition. It is through man's interference that prophesies become self-fulfilling. Even prophesies made by the Gods above can be set to ruin by the will of man.
"Thank you, Sir, for answering my questions," I responded as I turned to walk down the bright walkway. I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of the small crowd assembled for my entrance into their world. I saw my mother and father, and Sirius. I turned away from my family, smiled and whispered as I turned back to face my family, "Thank you St. Michael," and was engulfed in a group hug by my family … my family.
"So, Professor Snape, that's my story. Now, will you tell me how it is you came to be here, and what's happened on earth with the Wizarding World?" I asked.
"After your untimely departure last year, things were in an uproar. Your uncle was charged with murder, and will spend the rest of his life in prison. Your aunt and cousin have apparently changed their names, and have gone underground, under threat of death by wizards or witches unknown.
"Albus is still heading up the Order of the Phoenix, and is quickly wearing himself out in the struggle against Voldemort. I expect he will be joining us here shortly. The rest of the Order is working just as tirelessly.
"Albus took your advice, by the way, and had all returning students checked for the Dark Mark. Twenty-seven students were found to be marked. They were expelled, their wands were broken, and they were collared. The students were almost evenly divided between the houses, amazingly enough.
"Oh, yes, you wouldn't know about being collared. To collar a witch or wizard is to put a magical tattoo around their neck. The tattoo frees their magic. In simple terms, it turns them into squibs. They are not Muggles because there is still discernable magic within them. They just can't use it. The tattoo can only be removed by the castor. If Albus dies before the tattoos are removed, then they never will be removed, and they will live out their lives as squibs.
"The Weasley twins are mass producing magic warfare items to be used against the Death Eaters. Mr. Weasley, Ronald that is, and Miss Granger are still working through their grief over your death, and are trying to put it in perspective.
"Miss Weasley has channeled her grief into her study of Defense spells. Mr. Percy Weasley was found on the steps of the Ministry of Magic with the Dark Mark burned onto his forehead and a note pinned to his robes. The note said he was a gift to the former Minister of Magic, Fudge, for Fudge's betrayal of the Dark Lord.
"Mr. Fudge was found a few days later in much the same position as Young Percy, although there was no note. Oh, yes, we found out after his death, that Fudge was indeed an unmarked Death Eater.
"Mr. Arthur Weasley was unanimously elected the new Minister of Magic, and Molly has opened an orphanage; she had it built with some of the money you left them. The orphanage was built adjacent to the Ministry of Magic building, and has been called the 'Harry Potter Foundling Home,' and accepts all children, whether they are magical nor not.
"Arthur cleared Sirius' name, and repealed the unjust laws about werewolves. He has begun a program to provide wolfsbane potion to all werewolves on an as-needed basis. Those who can afford to pay, do so on a sliding scale. Those who can't afford to pay, contribute a few hours a month in community service, so that they don't feel as if they are accepting charity.
"Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy were captured and imprisoned in Azkaban. Draco has been assigned to live with a Muggle family who is sympathetic to the Wizarding world, and the parents of that family work with troubled teens, both magical and Muggle.
"Professor McGonagall retired as Deputy Headmistress and Transfiguration professor. She's dedicating her time to the Order. Professor Flitwick is now the Deputy Headmaster, and has retained his position teaching Charms.
"Hagrid misses you terribly and blames himself even though your letter said not to. He cherishes the cloak and Hedwig. I do believe Hedwig is a great comfort to him. He's working hard in spite of his grief. He's working with the giants, training them. Hagrid and Hedwig will join us soon, too.
"That just about does it for an update. Oh that's right. You asked how it was I came to be here. My deception was discovered. I was uncovered as a spy. Who betrayed me? Deloris Umbridge, of course."
"Welcome home, Professor, Snape."
"Thank you, Mr. Potter."
"Please, now that we're home, you may call me Harry."
"Thank you, Harry. Permit me to properly introduce myself; Severus Snape, but you may call me, Severus."