Dead eyes peered over the storm swept grounds, dead eyes belonging to a short, messy haired boy. He wasn't really dead; well not yet anyway. His robes were torn and badly patched, pulled back to reveal slightly muscular arms. Pale skin clashed with his black robes, skin that was marred with pale scars, as well as streaks of strawberry red blood. A small silver dagger lay on the ground, forgotten for the moment, as tears dripped from his dead eyes. Such pain, such misery. This was the saviour of the wizarding world.
Dawn rose, veins of crimson, orange and gold spreading across the sky, and still the boy didn't move from his vigil. Birdsong broke across the grounds, trills and chirps combining with the spectacular views to provide onlookers with a feeling that something special would happen that day. But such a feeling was lost on Harry; his thoughts as usual, were dark, depressing and would generally make any other human being scream should such thoughts penetrate their minds. But Harry was used to it; during the day he was smiling, slightly dopey and obsessed with Quidditch and girls. Under the cover of night, he was depressed, suicidal, and obsessed with finding a way to cease his pain and suffering.
He knew his housemates would be looking for him, and so he had already prepared his excuse. Broomstick in hand, Harry leapt from the tower, swinging his legs over his Nimbus. Only last year he had made the Gryffindor house team, the youngest player to do so in over a century. Even his father, James potter, would have been proud of that achievement. Soaring as though he was having the time of his life, he spotted Ron and Hermione, far below him, clearly searching for him.
"Hey!" he shouted, waving and ignoring the lancing pains that raced through his body.
"Harry!" squealed Hermione, looking up. She held a few pieces of toast in her hands hopefully, knowing that Harry had picked at his food the previous day and determined to get him to eat more.
"Oh, Hermione, you shouldn't have!" Harry said, winking and taking them from her. "I was starving!" he took a large bite out of the buttery toast, much to Hermione's delight.
"Where were you mate? You weren't in your bed this morning, it hardly looked slept in!" Ron's freckles and red hair were shining brightly in the early morning sun, and like Hermione, he seemed to be slightly put out by the fact that Harry hadn't been seen that morning.
"Oh, I woke up early and couldn't resist a bit of exercise," Harry lied smoothly, holding up his broom.
"Brrr that chilly morning air sure wakes you up quick though," he said with a laugh.
Hermione smiled weakly, but Ron's mouth cracked into a grin.
"That's the go Harry, get an early start on the Slytherins, eh? They won't know what hit them. Hey, did you hear about the friendly match between Uruguay and Spain a few weeks back? Pitch conditions were perfect and their Beater, Spain's Letrexico pulled off one of the best defensive…"
Harry grinned, his eyes glazing over during Ron's tirade about Quidditch. He knew that if he smiled and nodded occasionally, as well as exclaiming "Oh cool!" at the end of every third sentence, his friends would never notice anything was wrong. That was just how they were; Hermione and Ron never noticed anything out of ordinary with their friend, and if he was a little quiet after each school holiday, well, being cooped up in a house with only his overweight cousin was bound to have an effect. They never invited him to stay at their houses over the summer, never thought of him unless he wasn't there. Truthfully, the only loyalty they felt towards Harry Potter was gained through the fact that he was something of a celebrity, and if they were thrown into the limelight for knowing and befriending the saviour of the wizarding world once in awhile, then they were happy.
Harry could remember the first time he had ever seen Ronald Weasley. He had been walking alongside his mother, seemingly nervous about his first train ride to Hogwarts. Harry had smiled nervously at the flaming redhead, patting down his fringe over his scar, but Ron had sneered and turned away. It had only been when Ron had discovered who Harry really was that Ron had started slyly befriending him. Never before in his life had he experienced friendship, Harry was naturally delighted. With Ron by his side, he had turned down Malfoy's offer of friendship, and gone on to be placed in Gryffindor, despite the Sorting Hat begging him to reconsider.
I can't force you to go into a house that you do not wish to be in, Potter, but for all our sakes, and for the sake of the wizarding world, I must ask you to reconsider!
The hat's words were not easily forgotten, and from the moment he sat with his Gryffindor housemates, Harry knew he had made a mistake. Dumbledore had smiled at him as he drained a pitcher of pumpkin juice, but there had been something in that grin that reminded Harry of a cat that had got the canary. People had jostled to sit beside him, only to either stare open mouthed at his scar or eagerly offer their friendship. He was their star, their beacon, and Harry realised that everything that Gryffindor stood for was a lie.
Hermione had been a different matter altogether. The girl was bossy, rude, and so intent in the discovery of knowledge that she had little time for anything other than books. She was book smart; too book smart, and soon realised that knowing Harry Potter would definitely give her yet another advantage over all the other students. As Dumbledore's golden boy, surely he would be privy to restricted magic that through him she too would soon learn? And so, when a troll found her in the girls' bathrooms on Halloween, and Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley rescued her, Hermione had milked it for all it was worth.
The three, all deceitful in different ways, walked into Transfiguration smiling and chatting enthusiastically. Minerva McGonagal surveyed them proudly, lips curling into a smirk. Ron and Hermione winked briefly, and sat down on either side of Harry, who was clearly oblivious to this exchange. When the boy had arrived at Hogwarts, Minerva had been of mixed feeling. He looked a lot like James, and he had Lily's eyes, but the physical appearance seemed to be the only thing they had in common. He was surprisingly Slytherin; he lied and schemed and worst of all, he talked to snakes! Not only that, Dumbledore had revealed that it hadn't been Potter who had defeated the Darklord, but Lily herself. All these years, Harry had been basking in the fame that killing Voldemort had given to him, and soon, he was to come to regret it.
Severus Snape too spent much of his time watching the Potter boy, but it was for a different reason completely. He had of course, witnessed the sorting of Harry in his first year, and noticed how long the hat seemed to argue with small boy. Later, when no one was looking, Severus had placed the hat upon his own head to discover what it had said to Harry.
Ah, Snape is it not? One of my easier decisions, Slytherin stamped all over you. I suppose to want to know my reasoning for placing Potter in Gryffindor, don't you? Well, he wouldn't let me put him anywhere else, and frankly, I couldn't argue with anymore without people like you and Dumbledore becoming suspicious. Clearly, I have gained your interest Snape, so I will tell you this. Potter is not in the right house; watch him, and you will see what I mean.
And so watch him, Severus did. On Harry's first night, he left his dormitory the moment his housemates were asleep. Ready to dock house points, Severus followed him, surprised to find himself in the astronomy tower. Harry had sat against a wall, sobs shaking his young shoulders. He had pulled off the heavy robe, revealing his thin arms. Unable to contain a gasp, Severus had seen the obvious bruising and blood that covered them. How could this be Harry Potter he was seeing? This was the son of sneering, boastful James Potter, and clever, brilliant Lily Evans? Shocked, and unsure what to do with this information, Severus had left, unnoticed by the boy. Ever since then, he had barely said a word to him, barely acknowledged he had a student called Harry Potter. Before his arrival, Severus had planned insults and detentions he would set the child, but not even he had the heart to carry them out.
And so the stage was set to knock Potter off his pedestal. Unknowingly, he had made friends and enemies, creating dissent and confusion, removed former grudges and broken the rules and traditions held at Hogwarts since its founding. Harry Potter's second year at Hogwarts was just beginning; it would prove to be his last.