Disclaimer: HP isn't mine, yo.

I'm going off on vacation (my second week in a month. Yishkers). I'll be back in about ten days, at which time I'll likely post Harry's twentieth birthday.

Anywho. I've always believed Harry's anger in the fifth book was very much justified, if somewhat misdirected, so bear with me.


Harry stared down at the birthday card, his lips pressed tightly together and his eyes narrowed as he studied it by the light of a street lamp outside his window. Ron's hadn't said much aside from a congenial Happy Birthday, Mate!, but Hermione's had all the usual platitudes he'd come to expect and hate the past several weeks – We'll tell you what we can once you're here; I expect we'll be seeing you quite soon.

He was careful not to crumple the card, though he dearly wanted to – he knew he'd regret it later, as he'd kept and treasured every other birthday and Christmas card he'd ever received from his friends. It was stupid, he knew. Cards were just scraps of paper, bits of trash, really – only, they were also signs that people cared, and those signs…. Well, he didn't have enough of them to take what he did have for granted.

But he couldn't stop the swell of fury that filled him every time he was reminded that he was utterly cut off from the wizarding world, with next to no knowledge of what was really going on. The Daily Prophet was useless; he doubted he'd bother to read more than the headline when today's issue was delivered at dawn. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia wouldn't even let him watch the news or read Muggle papers, convinced that his show of interest in current events meant that he had to be up to something shifty.

He didn't know anything, and it made a peculiar hollow feeling well up in his gut, a mix of trepidation and outright fear that he just didn't have the patience or energy to deal with now. He'd learned a long time ago that the best way to deal with fear was to get angry. Getting angry meant doing something, and doing something meant solving the problem.

The thing was, he wasn't used to his anger being so…well, so hot and wild. He'd always had a sort of grim, hard rage running through him, deep down inside where he could keep it boxed up and safe and only take it out when he needed it. But ever since he learned the truth about Sirius, he'd been having more trouble controlling it, and the whole Tournament (what with Ron being a blockhead and the constant threat of imminent death) hadn't really helped.

And now – now that Voldemort was back and nothing was happening, all the helplessness and the fear and the bewilderment…all of it was twisting around inside of him and he was tired of it! He wanted to yell, wanted to hit something, wanted to do anything but sit tight and wait for the other shoe to drop (and knowing his luck, it'd probably drop right onto his head). He knew from experience that sitting tight and waiting just got you hurt worse in the end.

But no one was telling him anything, and how could he do something when he was stuck in the dark? It was like being in a whole different sort of cupboard, only this one grated at him more than his old room ever had.

Grinding his teeth, Harry stood abruptly from his bed and stalked over to his desk. He slapped Hermione's card down on top of Ron's, right next to the chocolates both his best friends had sent him. Not exactly the most imaginative gift, but he'd been grateful. Ron and Hermione knew, after all, that the Dursleys weren't exactly the greatest at keeping him fed.

Yeah, they knew all sorts of things now, and Harry didn't know a damned thing. And it wasn't that he didn't think it fair – he'd long since given up fair. He just didn't think it was right. Voldemort…Voldemort was only back because of him, and that gave him a certain responsibility, didn't it?

Except no one else saw it that way, and no one cared to listen to his opinion, either. And it shouldn't have surprised him that all the adults in his life had gone the way of the Dursleys, shutting him out and ignoring him and shoving him away when he wasn't convenient, but it did surprise him and it hurt and he was sick to bloody death of being hurt. He wasn't helpless and he wasn't stupid, but it felt Dumbledore and the rest were doing their best to change that.

He was sick of being kept in the dark.

Teeth clenching, he knocked the chocolates violently off his desk and into his trash bin, his entire body quivering with sudden fury. He'd protected the Stone – he'd killed the basilisk – he'd saved Sirius – he'd faced Voldemort again and again and he'd won. He'd survived the Dursleys and the Avada Kedavra and a string of murderous Defense professors, and now all of a sudden it was be careful, Harry, be patient, don't worry, everything will be fine if you just do what we say.

We won't give you the answers wasn't so very far from don't ask questions, and keep your nose clean was starting to sound a lot like be quiet and pretend you don't exist.

He was being treated like a nuisance or a toddler, and he couldn't help wondering if that's really how everyone saw him, like some miracle child who'd pop in and solve a few problems and then disappear when he wasn't needed. Like a little boy who'd leave his cupboard long enough to finish the chores before being unceremoniously returned to his prison under the stairs.

But he was sick of being shoved into cupboards and he was sick of being left in the dark and he was tired of everyone in his life disappointing him over and over again. And the helplessness, oh, the helplessness gnawed at his bones and shivered its way up his spine and melted into blind fury in his veins, even now, even on his fifteenth birthday.

Harry scowled, kicking at the trash bin hard enough to dent its aluminum side. He glanced at his watch – half past midnight – and sighed, slouching his way back to his bed. He'd have to wake up soon enough, to pay for the Daily Prophet; best he get to sleep as soon as possible.

Birthday cards and chocolates, bent hangers and old socks and nothingness. Nothing really ever changed, did it? "Happy birthday to me," he muttered sourly.

Scraps and trash just weren't good enough anymore.