Disclaimer and Author's Note: Hi. I don't own Harry Potter. Never have, never will. This story is SLASH - that's guy on guy relationship stuff for those who don't know - so before I explain anything, I'VE GIVEN YOU FAIR WARNING. Now then, this is my first SLASH story, so constructive criticism would be more than welcome. I don't intend for the SLASH to get very graphic, but . . . it could happen. Not sure. Adult language may and can be used, so that's yet another warning. Rape, cutting, suicide (attempts or success, not sure which right now), character death (still debating about that), and general angst, so there you go. Oh, and by the way, it's SLASH.

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He supposed that being locked out of the house while the Dursleys were on vacation wasn't the worse that could have happened. After all, ever since the Order—namely, Professor Moody, the one Vernon was really frightened of—threatened them concerning his well-being, he was rarely beaten anymore. It was as if the Dursleys were trying to ignore his existence. Every morning he had woken to find a piece of paper with a list of chores shoved under the door. He would do the chores and return to his room, lying on the small cot until the next day with nothing to do or keep him occupied except his memories. Uncle Vernon had boarded up his window and kept Hedwig downstairs. Harry had no contact with the wizarding world besides the dictated letters Vernon forced him to write.

The last letter—the one written about six days ago—Vernon made him write that he was going on a vacation with his aunt, uncle, and cousin, sans owl because 'it wouldn't look right in the outside world'—a watered down version of what Vernon had screamed and snarled out. Afterwards, Vernon kicked the poor owl out of the window, kicked Harry out of the house and into the backyard, locked all doors and windows, informed Harry that if he left the backyard there would be dire consequences, and left.

With Aunt Petunia and Dudley, of course.

His stomach growled loudly, and he tipped his head back to stare blankly at the full moon in the dark sky. The Dursleys hadn't been too keen on feeding him. Harry had had a stash of food underneath the loose floorboard in his old room, but after the first three weeks, it had run out—he hadn't expected that he'd be completely on his own in getting food to eat, and had sort of been expecting to rely on Mrs. Weasley's cooking that came through owl mail. It shouldn't have come as such a big surprise, though, and he wondered idly whether conjuring food would be enough to get him expelled from Hogwarts. It didn't matter, though—his wand, along with everything faintly magical or related to his school, was stuffed in his trunk, locked in the cupboard under the stairs. Hunger had driven him to eating grass and leaves, though it didn't seem to help much. He had tried to leave the backyard—who cared what Vernon had ordered?—but he couldn't. There were wards of some type around the house; by the time he reached the edge of the drive, it felt like his skin was ready to peel off his bones.

The full moon was pretty, he decided, lying flat on his back. Remus was transforming. He remembered the last time he saw Remus transform, who he had been with and what he had been offered—but Sirius was dead. Sirius wouldn't be helping Remus through anymore changes, because of him . . .

His mind spiraled into black depression and overwhelming agony, and almost instantly his hand tightened on the shard of glass he had located against the fence. In a short, vicious motion, he sliced open skin, ignoring the depth and pain, because he had to force back that darkness, force himself to focus on the pain in this world that he had to stop, that he had to fix.

Suddenly, there was a rustle in the bushes at the back of the yard. Lethargically, Harry turned his head and regarded the bleary shapes and half-formed shadows apathetically. The noise did not sound again, and he returned to staring at his arm. Almost lovingly, he traced a faint path of blood down the inside of his arm, the sight of red welling upwards soothing and more than a little comforting. He wasn't suicidal or anything—couldn't be, with Voldemort out there in the world—but it gave him . . . sort of a feeling of control, of being able to do this and dictate how deep, how long, how often. It was one of the few things that was left to him and he guarded it jealously. So well, in fact, that no one had ever noticed, not even when he had had to re-grow those bones in his arms. Of course, he hadn't started until he had finished the first year of Hogwarts, so there weren't that many scars then, but all his glamours had held up against even the strongest spells cast on him to determine his medical standing.

But something was wrong tonight, and he could feel it. With a sigh, he stood up, intending to look in the bushes for the source of the noise, when there was a howling roar, and a stone-grey something slammed into him. He felt abrupt pain, and then knew nothing more.


"What do you mean, he's gone?"

Dumbledore eyed Professor Lupin covertly. How much to tell, he wondered idly, and decided on the barest facts.

"There was a disturbance last night, around three in the morning. Apparently, Harry left the wards at that time."

Remus Lupin was normally a very patient man, but since the . . . death, of Sirius, his latest defeat in the attempt to secure a paying job, and the fact that he was forbidden from contacting James's son in any way, shape, or form, he was edgy and more than a little furious.

"Who took him?" he demanded.

Dumbledore frowned—the one sticking point in all of this. Someone had to have taken him, for he had specifically modified the wards to make sure Harry could not leave the property until August 31. However, to inform Remus of this would inevitably lead to an investigation—an investigation that would be best left in another's hands. On top of that, the wards had not registered anyone's presence in the vicinity of Number 4 Privet Drive at any time for the past couple of weeks besides Harry. "Apparently, no one. The wards indicate that Harry left under his own volition." Another half-truth—no, he admonished himself shamefully, better to tell the truth at least in his own mind. A blatant lie. The only reason Harry could ever bypass the wards was in the event that he was unconscious, and even then, he would still suffer extreme distress in crossing over that boundary.

"Where is he now?" Remus growled, face flat and eyes dead, though the anger that permeated the room left very little doubt that the wolf inside was angry—no, not angry, furious. Perhaps Dumbledore should have waited until more days had passed, to make sure the full moon's influence had ended . . .

Remus stepped forward, tense and tight. "Albus, school starts in a month. Will you have him back by then?"

"I fully intend so, Remus," Dumbledore said, trying not to let his age show in his voice. Why was it that every situation with Harry required so many falsehoods, so many evasions, so much mystery to confuse those that could truly help the youth?

That seemed good enough for Lupin at the moment—he suddenly sat down and put his face in his hands. "Gods. Why on the eve of his birthday, Albus?"

Dumbledore felt his face go slack in utter disbelief. He couldn't have forgotten that—it couldn't have been the boy's sixteenth birthday—no, it just had to be something else—"I don't know, Remus. Maybe he had wanted to spend it somewhere else, with friends, perhaps, and something happened?"

Another lie. Dumbledore tried his hardest not to feel disgusted with himself.

"Maybe," Remus said tiredly, but Dumbledore could tell the man did not believe it. "Let me know if there's anything I can do to help."

"I will, Remus," Dumbledore said gently. "I swear I will."