Chapter OneDarkest Night
Harry lay on his bed at Privet Drive. It had been two weeks now since he had returned from school for the holiday, but time had ceased to have meaning for months now. The black haired, skinny youth lay for hours unmoving, staring at the ceiling or wall, depending upon which position he landed on the bed first, and willingly gave him self to the deepest of depressions. On occasion his Aunt would knock on his door, wrinkle her nose in disgust over the state of his room, and bring him a bowl of soup, which he would dutifully eat, but if it wasn't brought, he didn't look for it.
Normally, returning from school for the holiday is normal. Returning in a depressed mood is sadly not that unusual. Tragically, returning to a family that despises you is far from unheard of. But in this case, Harry was a wizard – a young powerful wizard, raised by his non-magical Aunt and Uncle who despised both him and the world of magic he schooled in.
His dark depression was due to the death of Sirius, his godfather. Sirius was his chance out of the blue for a new life away from the abuse of the Dursleys. Sirius Black was a living link to the parents he never knew, and a badly needed source of encouragement and protection. Even though he was forced into hiding for crimes he never committed, just to have him at owl's reach when he needed him gave him the strength to get through the challenges he faced.
Although a normal person would not of blamed themselves for what happened at the ministry of magic, Harry did tend to have a "hero complex", as his friend Hermione pointed out. If he had listened to her and checked to see if it was a trap, if he had gone to Dumbledore or the Weasleys first, if, if, if.
"If", groaned Harry out loud. For two weeks now he played the scenarios over and over again in his tortured brain. For two weeks now he replayed his godfather's death in his dreams. For two weeks he cursed the day his was born, the day Trelawney, the seer, made that damn prophecy about him, and cursed the fact he was so young, stupid, and inexperienced. For two long weeks he agreed with Snape, his despised potions professor – perhaps he was merely the result of arrogance, preferential treatment, and uncanny luck.
It wasn't just Sirius. Cedric Diggory's death still haunted his dreams. The rebirth of Voldemort. His friend's injuries at the Ministry of Magic. He didn't even try not to blame himself – his friends were in danger because of him. He was the only chance the wizarding world had to defeat Voldemort, but by his mere existence, everyone and everything he loved was in danger.
Harry was stirred from his present bout of self-loathing by a tapping on his window. Hedwig, his snowy owl, was flapping at his window with a letter tied to her leg. With a sigh he opened his window, and took a long while to stroke her feathers and feed her treats before looking at the parchment she had carried. He had been writing every three days to his friends and the Order, as they demanded when leaving the train in June, so letters were fairly common now. At a glance he recognized Ron's writing, and with a shrug of apathy, he unrolled it and read:
I'm glad the muggles are treating you all right. Hopefully Dumbledore can let you come and spend the rest of the summer after a few weeks. Nothing new here – everyone is hiding or laying low.
Have you heard from Hermione lately? She hasn't been writing much to me.
The letter was typical Ron- didn't say anything of importance. Ron didn't like to discuss feelings, which made Harry grateful, but the letters were rather vague and empty – almost written out of obligation more than friendship. Hermione's letters could be annoying at times, but Harry could feel the sincere concern and friendship pouring through the words. He sat at his desk without hesitation and picked up a quill. Hedwig hooted with faint annoyance from her perch on the wardrobe, but Harry spoke with a smile, "don't worry girl – its just letters for Hermione and Ron – you can wait until you've eaten and slept before taking them". Hedwig cooed softly and gratefully, and settled back down, closing her yellow eyes.
Harry jotted quick letters back to the both of his friends.
I'd like to come as soon as it's possible – beg Dumbledore for me. I'm doing better now. How are the twins?
How are you? I'm doing ok I guess. I'm very down about it all, but my Aunt and Uncle are leaving me alone. I spent the last two weeks indulging in a royal pity-party, but I am now feeling better, and I'm going to start my homework today.
Ron said you weren't writing much to him. Are you ok? I really look forward to your letters – let me know what is going on in the magic world.
Sighing yet again, Harry ran his fingers through his hair and winced at the feel. "I must look like Snape" he mused, "I need a shower really, really bad". Squaring his shoulders, he glanced out the window long enough to see Tonks walking by on duty, picked up a towel and headed to the bathroom.
One shower later, Harry felt the best he had in ages. Swiftly he gathered his laundry and carried it down to the basement. Once the wash was running, he headed to the kitchen after checking to see he was alone in the house. He made himself a decent meal, washed up, and then cleaned his room thoroughly. Sirius wouldn't' want him to mourn forever, and beating himself up wasn't accomplishing anything. The prophecy made it clear – kill Voldemort or be killed. If he was going to prevent another killing like Sirius, or Cedric, or his parents, he had to be trained and ready.
Harry checked the news on the telly and the paper for news that might be linked to Voldemort, and was pleased to see nothing seemed to be out there. Then he picked the lock to his old cupboard and removed several schoolbooks. Back to his room, which was now clean and clean smelling, he decided to devote the rest of his stay at Privet Drive to working hard on his homework. "Hermione will be so pleased" he smiled to himself, "if she doesn't have a heart attack".
The next few hours were devoted to charms. Harry ground his teeth with frustration – the limit on using magic out of the house was so unfair. Under age wizards were not allowed to do magic outside of school, and the Ministry had ways of knowing when a minor used their wand. How can you do homework on magic if you can't do the magic? Kids growing up in a wizard home had an unfair advantage – the ministry couldn't distinguish between what the parents do and what the kids do, but children of muggle house holds were forced to live as muggles when home. He pondered the time he was given a trial for defending himself, and the time Dobby the house elf almost got him expelled by levitating a cake, without a wand. Why hadn't the ministry ever nailed him for the accidental magic he performed before he knew he was a wizard? It didn't make any sense.
As the sun started to set he could hear noises down stairs – the Dursleys were arriving home and dinner was being prepared. Hedwig woke up, drank deeply from her now sparkling water cup, and flew down to his shoulder. She stuck her leg out to him letting Harry know she was ready for work. Gratefully, Harry tied the two letters on, asked her to deliver Hermione's first, and let her out his open window. Night was falling, and Harry felt like an early bedtime would be good. He stretched, yawned, undressed and worked seriously at clearing his mind before drifting off to sleep. Tomorrow was a new day – the start of a more productive summer.