This fiction is set directly after Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (HBP) and will therefore unsurprisingly contain HBP spoilers. Harry returns to the Dursleys for the final time before embarking on the adventure of a lifetime – a lifetime which may very possibly end. If he loses.
A/N: Hi guys, I know I haven't finished my other fictions, but after finishing HBP I just had to get writing with this! I really enjoyed this, as I kind of felt a bit like JKR and keep trying to second guess what she in contrast is actually writing! Anyway, please read and review because I know exactly where this is going, and there will be no delays! I promise!
- "Figured it out, did you?" Harry said to his Aunt.
"Congratulations. You win the prize. Now leave me alone."
ONE: Done With the Dursleys
Harry Potter sat crossed legged on his bed in the room that he had been reluctantly given for the past five years at number 4 Privet Drive. His brow furrowed, he had the look of someone who had grown an awful lot in a great deal of time; his expression was weary with experience and he no longer retained the 'boyish' look that had often earned him so much attention.
Dipping the quill into the pot of ink balanced on the bedside table, he paused for a moment before finishing his letter to Ronald Weasley, his best friend. Wanting to get the letter sent as soon as possible made him think faster and finish the sentence: he wanted Hedwig to have delivered the news as soon as possible after it had happened.
I'm planning to tell them tomorrow night so I can figure out exactly what I'm going to say. I have no idea how they'll react but I'm leaving tomorrow evening no matter what. Seeing as the Dursleys' fireplace is blocked I can't get to yours by Floo powder, so I'll Apparate. Having a licence won't make it any easier though, so I'll let you know if I end up in Ireland.
Love to all, wish me luck.
That would do, he thought, and sealed it with his wand. Hedwig, as though acting on cue, fluttered down from her perch in her cage and took the letter in her beak. She gave him an affectionate nip on the finger and hooted softly before she took off. In fact, Hedwig, Harry had noticed, had been acting a great deal more affectionately towards him these past few weeks at Privet Drive. It was as though she somehow knew everything that had happened and felt like Harry needed as much encouragement as ever.
It was true that the last month had been the hardest of Harry's life. Sirius's death had felt raw, painful and, at some times, truly unbelievable. After it had happened, Harry often felt too angry, too hard done by, too traumatised to fully comprehend what had happened. Dumbledore's death however seemed to have awoken a very harsh, very real truth within Harry's heart: that he was alone. Sirius's death had rather been confirmed by Dumbledore's, and the knowledge that he would never see either of them again often made him feel sick. Ron and Hermione had sworn they would be beside him of course, but they could not guide him. He, now, had to be the guide.
So he steeled himself with what he had to do: he had to tell the Dursleys that it was goodbye for good. He couldn't actually believe it was happening now, at last. What with having fantasised about leaving for roughly sixteen years, the thought that it was now happening was – well, frightening. Dumbledore's wish that Harry return one more time to the Dursleys' before his birthday was thus realised, but having come of age a few weeks ago meant that Harry no longer had the protection that his mother had left him … becoming seventeen meant that he had become completely unprotected … becoming seventeen meant, in the wizarding world, that he was now a man.
He began packing his things with the strong thought in his mind that whatever happened, he would be leaving the next night. This did not take long, now he was legally allowed to do magic outside of Hogwarts – Hogwarts … whenever Harry thought of it, it caused him a sharp pain in his stomach. It was the place he associated with Dumbledore, the place he would always see and know as his home … the place he knew that he would probably never return to.
After sealing his trunk with his wand, Harry lay back on his bed and thought hard about what he was going to say to his Aunt and Uncle.
After a less than eventful day of avoidance from Dudley, glares from his Uncle and what would probably be his final pitiful meal from Aunt Petunia, Harry cleared his throat at the dinner table. They did not look at him at first. He did it again, a little louder.
"Strepsil?" Uncle Vernon hissed irritably, not drawing his eyes away from the television programme on ITV3 about some random old king and his murderous wife.
Harry took a deep breath and spoke.
"There's something you should know," he began.
Uncle Vernon finally looked up and Dudley eyed Harry suspiciously, his fork hanging in mid-air. Aunt Petunia however was watching Harry with large pale eyes which were so unlike her sister's, a guarded expression across her bony face.
Harry cleared his throat again. "You see, what it is … "
"You're leaving, aren't you?" said Aunt Petunia suddenly.
Harry looked at her quickly. Her expression had not changed.
"How did you -?" he began, but she cut him off.
"You've come off age in your world. There's no need for you to stay anymore."
Harry blinked. "No, no there's not."
Uncle Vernon's eyes were narrowed, his lips drawn into what was unmistakably a smile. Dudley on the other hand looked very confused, as though he were trying to work out exactly what Harry had just said.
"All my stuff's packed," Harry went on. "I'm leaving tonight, not long from now actually." They continued to stare. "I … I just thought you should know," he finished lamely.
Since none had spoken since Aunt Petunia, Harry thought that was it, and rose from the table. It was only when he'd gotten up that Uncle Vernon spoke.
"So, you're actually leaving then?" he asked distrustfully, as though he daren't believe it was true. "Not that I don't want you to, of course," he added.
"Yes," Harry said.
Uncle Vernon smiled more widely, as though he was sure it was a joke. "Why so keen all of a sudden?" he asked. "Is this some little happy delusion you thought you'd tease us with before announcing that you're not going anywhere, like you did two years ago? What's suddenly so important, boy?"
Harry swallowed. He had not planned on telling the Dursleys' why he was leaving.
"There's … there's something that I have to do … soon. And I need to … I just need to be away from here," he said.
Just when Harry thought that his uncle's eyes could not narrow any more than they already had, they did – to the point of him resembling a Chinese person.
"What are you up to, boy? Have you finally been chucked out of that madhouse for bad behaviour? Going on the run? Has that mad old fool finally realised what a freak you are and decided to kick you into touch –"
"He's dead," Harry spat. The mere mention of Dumbledore, in derogatory terms or not, caused anger to flare inside him.
Uncle Vernon's eyes opened again. Aunt Petunia however stood up. Harry looked at her.
"He's dead?" she asked quietly.
Harry opened his mouth, and then decided that he did not want to discuss this. It was stupid to have thought that telling the Dursleys would be easy, so he turned on his heel and walked back to the stairs.
"I'm talking to you!" Aunt Petunia shouted.
"About bloody time!" Dudley chuckled triumphantly.
"I always said," Uncle Vernon began, "always, that those … those magic folk would come to the same sticky end, just goes to show, doesn't it?"
Harry stopped on the second stair, turned and stood in the doorway. He had lost his temper.
"You want to know what happened? OK, I'll tell you! Dumbledore was murdered because of Lord Voldemort, just like my godfather was, just like both my parents were. I am the only person in the world that can finish him. I am the only person in the world who can kill him, who can stop this war that we're all in the middle of, even you!"
The Dursleys looked suddenly shocked, stunned, their mouths open. Uncle Vernon shook his head again. "Not all that rubbish about that Lord Thingy again? We've had all this before you know! We know how you exaggerate just to scare us!"
Harry laughed harshly. "You think that all these things happening at the moment are normal? They're not! They're all because of him! Murders, explosions, massacres, it won't stop!"
"What do you mean?" Aunt Petunia, white faced, asked him, her hands gripping the sugar bowl in front of her.
"YOU HAVE NO IDEA, NONE OF YOU!" And suddenly, he was yelling. The pent up anger of sixteen years at the people who had made his life hell was fuelling him and nothing else. "WHAT I'VE BEEN THROUGH, WHAT'S HAPPENED TO ME THESE PAST YEARS, BECAUSE YOU NEVER BOTHERED TO ASK! I'VE LOST EVERYTHING! I'VE GOT NO WAY OUT! MY LIFE IS LEADING UP TO, OR WILL PROBABLY END IN MURDER, AND IF I DON'T WIN THIS, WE'LL ALL DIE! AND YOU ASK ME IF I'M JOKING? YOU – YOU …"
It all became too much. Yelling at the Dursleys for their complete ignorance was no longer sufficient. The magnitude of what he had to do started to sink in, and Harry found that he could not be around them anymore. Turning once more, he ran up the stairs and slammed his bedroom door.
Harry had sat on his bed for the last time, calming himself before he left. It wouldn't help him if he tried to Apparate for the first time with his licence if he was pulsing with anger. He'd probably end up in North Africa.
But no sooner had he checked everything, making sure he had left no socks under the bed, no photos in the drawers, that there was a knock on his door.
Not in the mood for any more conversation, Harry grabbed his trunk, ready to push his way down the stairs when he opened the door. It was Aunt Petunia. She was standing there looking as though she was not entirely sure that she should be there.
"What do you want?" he spat at her, having not gotten rid of all of his frustration.
She had an odd expression on her face, like none Harry had ever seen. It was softer, almost sympathetic. His anger abated slightly.
"I just came … I came to wish you luck," she said quietly, so that Harry was certain he had misheard her.
"Sorry?" he said, frowning.
She came into his room and sunk down on the end of the bed. Harry was lost for words.
"I think I know what you have to do," she began. "You have to kill the … the one who killed Lily and James."
Harry stared. He had never heard her use either of their names before.
"Figured it out, did you?" he said. He was not completely free of anger yet. "Congratulations. You win the prize. Now leave me alone."
Aunt Petunia lowered her head. "I'm sorry, for the way things turned out. I really am. I suppose I never really thought that they'd leave you here, when you turned up on the doorstep that morning. I know it never got any better, but it was because … well I hated her so much!" she finished, on a particularly high, shrill note.
"This isn't helping," Harry said through clenched teeth. "And why did you hate her?"
"Because they loved her more than they loved me," she said simply. "Your grandparents, I mean. I suppose … I just wanted you to know what it felt like."
"Well thanks. I got the message," Harry said bitterly, surprised by her honesty, and went to leave.
"Harry, wait," and Harry stopped with his hand on the door. "When she died … I was angry with her. Angry that we'd never sorted it out, and I know I took it out on you." Harry said nothing. "But you should know that … I did love my sister."
Harry looked at the floor. Aunt Petunia had never before spoken so openly before him, and, though her emotion was unsettling, it didn't mean what it would have meant a year ago.
"You know I can never forgive you," he said simply. "There's just too much going on now in my life now for your justification to mean anything." He went to leave, and then stopped again, looking back at her. "I guess I kind of knew that the way you treated me was a punishment meant for someone else, but to be honest, I didn't know any different, so I didn't dwell on it."
"I know," she answered. "I know you can't forgive. But if you're going to do what I think you are, then I had to say good luck. Because, whatever you might think, I … I don't want you to die."
Harry stood there for a few moments, before swallowing. He turned his back and dragged his trunk behind him, but called back before he descended the stairs.
As he reached the front door and pushed it open, he heard Uncle Vernon's voice from the living room.
"Bye, then!" he called cheerfully. Harry could tell from his sarcastic tone that his uncle thought that this was all a big joke that Harry had cooked up and his lack of interest was to try and make Harry feel like he wasn't in the least bothered about his nephew. But Harry thought, with a jolt to his stomach, that soon, one way or another, he would know that it wasn't a joke.
With fear twisting uncomfortably at his insides, Harry left the place that he had loathed for so long, and had often been loathed in return, but had nevertheless given him protection since the age of one. Now, at seventeen, Harry was painfully aware that this period of his life had ended. With the cold night air stabbing at his lungs, he prepared himself for the Apparition to The Burrow, and the journey away from safety. With one final look behind him, Harry stepped into a sharp spin and vanished.
A/N: See that little review box to your left? Yes? That's it, press it!