Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all other characters belong to J.K. Rowling, and this version of the Mask belongs to New Line Cinemas; I'm just using them for this story.
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Harry Potter and the Mask of Loki
Staring around his room, Harry sighed again at the sight of the barren walls.
He couldn't believe how long he'd had to stay up here. True, it was an improvement on his original cupboard- compared to his early years here, his last six or seven had actually been pretty good- but it still was never as comfortable as his room at Hogwarts had become.
And not just because he couldn't see any of his friends; he was already eagerly awaiting their arrival tonight when the Weasleys came to take him to Bill and Fleur's wedding, and he knew very well why they had to leave him here until then.
It was just… even after seventeen years, he'd never really felt at home here. Oh, it wasn't like he hadn't had his reasons for it; undergoing various levels of abuse from perpetual torment by Dudley to just being outright ignored (Although he preferred being ignored) didn't exactly endear the place to him, after all.
He regretted every moment spent here, he felt more of a connection with the Weasleys than he'd ever felt with the Dursleys, and the Dursleys never even made so much as the slightest effort to remember his birthdays!
It wasn't that he was bitter about it or anything- after all, he hated them just as much as they hated him.
He just wished, on some level, that things were a bit… a bit better between him and the Dursleys. After all, no matter what else they'd done to him, they were still the only biological family he had left, and even if he felt closer to the Weasleys than he'd ever felt to them, he still wished he felt a bit closer to his mother's sister…
If nothing else, he wouldn't mind being able to ask them a bit more about his parents; Lupin was a good source, true, but he wasn't available as often or as easily as the Dursleys were…
Groaning, Harry swung his legs over the side of his bed and, walking out of the door, headed for the stairs. He might as well get a bit of a walk around the place; after all, it was the last chance he'd ever have. The Weasleys were coming for him tomorrow- his seventeenth birthday- and, after that, he was pretty sure he'd never be coming back here.
Well, unless I want to get a bit of revenge, Harry mused to himself, smiling slightly, although it was only half-heartedly; as tempting an idea as it might have been to turn Dudley into a rat or something similar, he didn't really want to do it; how would that have made him any better than the Death Eaters?
As he wandered the streets, Harry tried to remember if he'd ever had any genuinely happy memories here. OK, there had been when Ron, Fred and George rescued him in his second year, but that didn't really count; then he'd been happy to leave the place, not happy about being here…
Idly, Harry kicked a can on the street in front of him; he didn't want to think of the Weasleys right now, he'd have enough on his plate when he saw them tomorrow. It wasn't that he wasn't looking forward to seeing them all again; it was just that…
She would be there.
The first girl he'd ever truly loved.
And, because of the prophecy- because he had to kill Voldemort- he'd had to give her up.
It was for her own good, he reminded himself. I couldn't let her put herself at risk… it's bad enough having Ron and Hermione be prepared to follow me into the jaws of death…
He smiled as a though occurred to him; Besides, maybe it'd help them both realise their feelings for each other.
Over the last month or so, he'd concluded that, overall, he wouldn't really mind about seeing Hermione and Ron get together. Somehow, he got the impression they'd always manage to get along, even if they did argue more than anyone else he'd ever known; after all, didn't all good couples have a few disputes?
He sighed, kicking the can again, this time down a back alleyway.
Why can't things ever be easy for me…? he asked himself, as he walked into the alley, trying to keep his mind off the fact that, the last time he'd entered an alleyway in Privet Drive, he'd ended up attacked by Dementors and nearly getting expelled from Hogwarts by the Ministry; memories of dark moments from his past weren't what he was here to think about right now.
Looking around for the can, he saw it…
And, to his surprise, he also saw a piece of shaped green wood, sticking out from underneath what looked like an old bunch of newspapers.
"What the…?" Harry asked himself, crouching down on his knees and reaching out to brush the newspaper off and pick up the wood.
As it came clear of the rubbish, he realised that the piece of wood was an old green mask, the paint chipped in some places. It gave the impression of once having been a vibrant green in colour, baring the metallic bar that ran down the centre of the forehead and terminated where the nose would have been on a human face, but over time the paint had faded to a far darker green in most places, with only a few small flecks of the original colouring left to tell of its past appearance. It had eerie empty eyeholes, and, although it wasn't immediately apparent, the mouth was shaped in a small, puckish grin as though it were enjoying a secret joke.
Staring at it, Harry couldn't help but wonder at several things. What was it doing here? Why had anyone thrown it out?
And- Harry blinked in surprise as he turned the mask around so that it was in the position it would be if he wanted to put it on- why did he feel as though he should keep this…
He shook his head. He didn't have time to worry about a strange mask right now; he had to get back to Privet Drive and find somewhere to put this before he had to go. Fred and George were going to be picking him up at eight tomorrow, according to the letter Ron had sent him, and he wanted to be ready for them.
He had tons of stuff to pack before the Weasleys came to pick him his, and he still hadn't even managed to get started yet…
Still, as he left the alleyway that day, gripping his newly acquired mask by the eyeholes, he couldn't have known what fate awaited him because of that so-called 'piece of wood'…