Harry stepped off the Hogwarts Express, dread sinking his heart to the bottom of his stomach. He had always hated this part of the year. It always brought him fear and trepidation.
"Coming, Harry?" Ron called to his friend. Harry nodded mutely and followed, dragging his trunk behind him. Of course, Ron would never understand. He had a whole loving family behind him, full of siblings and people who actually cared.
Ron had been looking forward to going home. His parents had recently come into some money and had promised to take himi overseas for holiday. He had been harping on the fact ever since. "Oooh...this holiday is going to be so fun!" Ron could be heard chattering with the other Gryffindors about the good news.
"You alright Harry?" Hermione said quietly to her friend. Harry had been quiet throughout the train journey, constantly looking aloof and lost in thought. He did not even engage in Quidditch conversation, only nodding and agreeing thoughtlessly when Ron asked him for his opinion. In the end, Ron had given up asking him for his views, instead once again bringing up his favourite topic, the upcoming holiday.
Harry nodded slightly in response to Hermione's question, forcing a smile onto his face. He didn't want to worry his friends. Hermione looked at him doubtfully but turned away, not wanting to press the matter further.
Harry bit his lip and looked down. No one would ever understand how he felt. All his classmates had happy families to go home to, while for him, Hogwarts was his home, the only place he had ever felt comfortable and free in, but yet he could not stay there. Professor Dumbledore had not allowed it, no matter how much Harry had pleaded with him.
The trio finally got past the barrier and emerged on the other side.
"Ron, Harry, Hermione!" came Mrs Weasley's warm exclamation as she hurried forward to receive them and pull each of them into a tight hug. Harry enjoyed Mrs Weasley's hugs. They made him feel all warm and fuzzy inside, a sensation he had never felt before. Ron never knew how lucky he was.
"Mum!" Ron protested, his face going immediately red. Laughing, Hermione pulled away to greet her parents.
"Uh, I'd better get going," Harry muttered, catching a glare from his uncle a few metres away. Uncle Vernon was eyeing the Weasleys with evident distaste, and Harry definitely did not want to incur his wrath by staying with the Weasleys for too long.
"Take care, Harry, and write!" Mrs Weasley called behind him. Harry turned, forcing a cheerful smile on his face and waved goodbye.
"Come here, boy, and get into the car quickly. Don't want anyone I know to see you hanging around with those kind of people," Vernon spat. Harry could smell alcohol on his breath. He had evidently been drinking.
Heart sinking, he lugged his trunk to the car and hoisted it into the trunk before taking his seat in the passenger seat. When he got into the car, Vernon was struggling to open a whiskey bottle.
"Can't get this bloody thing open. It must be you, you jinx, I lost my job last week, because of you! What did you do, boy?" Vernon snarled. His face was ruddy from the alcohol and fury. His face loomed right in front of Harry, looking extremely red and huge.
Harry recoiled instinctively. Uncle Vernon did not seem lucid enough to drive. Harry just hoped that he could get home in one piece. He had heard of all kinds of accidents due to drink-driving.
Vernon started the car after a few tries and blasted the radio, singing along with it like a wailing banshee. Harry kept silent, not wanting to draw any more attention to himself, just wishing he would reach home faster.
At last, they reached a side road. In another two minutes, they would reach home in one piece, if Uncle Vernon could hold out till then.
"Damn thing still won't open!" Vernone grunted, taking his hands off the steering wheel for one moment to open the bottle.
Harry's heart leapt for a moment, praying that his uncle would open the bottle soon and actually focus on getting them home safely.
Suddenly, the car swung crazily into the opposite lane. Vernon had jerked the steering wheel when his hands had slipped trying to open the bottle.
Harry crashed into the side, cracking his head on the window. He looked up in terror, only to see a car looming straight in front of them.
"Uncle Vernon!" Harry shrieked.
His uncle looked up and grabbed the steering wheel, swerving suddenly in an attempt to avoid the oncoming collision. It was too late. The other car crashed into the passenger side with a sickening metal groan.
Harry felt a tremendous pain in his side. The car gave another sickening jolt as another car could not avoid the pile-up. Harry, unable to do anything, hit his head, hard against the window. Everything was fuzzy until it all faded away into black.
When Harry came to, it was raining, and he could feel droplets of water on his face.
"Sonny, can you hear me?" Came a kind voice beside him. Harry tried to turn his head, sending a sharp pain in his neck.
"Yeah." Harry croaked. "Pain." His breath was ragged now. Everywhere on him was hurting, his head was throbbing, and his right foot was trapped. His entire right side felt numb with pain, and he couldn't move. He wouldn't be paralysed, would he? He had heard on the news before about people getting crippled in car accidents, being unable to move parts of their body. His head hurt. It hurt to think too much. He was tired.
"Okay, you hold on now, keep awake, don't go to sleep on me. We'll try to get you out." The voice tried to assure him.
There was a machine being started up somewhere near him, and started sawing at the metal. Harry's blood was pounding in his ears. He had never been so badly injured before.
Harry chanced a glance at his uncle. He was on a backboard, being transported to a waiting ambulance. He was unconscious and was bleeding slightly from the head.
"Okay son. We're gonna try and get you out now. Relax and don't resist okay?" Harry was too weak to respond, but instead settled for a soft groan.
Gentle hands cut away the seatbelt obstructing him and slipped a backboard under him. As he was strapped onto it, he felt his right leg throbbing painfully. As he glanced at it, it was bent at an obscene angle, and a bit of bone was sticking out of the skin. Harry closed his eyes in repulsion. His head ached and every movement sent an acute pain through his head. He moaned softly. There was a rustle of clothes and then someone reaching out to touch his cheek tenderly. "What's your name, son?" Someone asked.
"H-Harry," he croaked.
"Well, Harry, don't worry. You'll be fine. We'll get you fixed up in no time, all right?" Harry opened his eyes and looked up to a kind-looking man in a paramedic's uniform. He was gazing sadly down at Harry.
He felt himself being lifted into a waiting ambulance. There was a kind lady, called Lisa, as she asked him to call her, who strapped a band around his upper arm "to check his blood pressure", she had said.
Another man, Jeremy, he had said he was, was attaching a drip onto him. Harry felt the unpleasant sensation of a warm liquid seeping into his veins, and he writhed, only to hurt his injured body more. A shock of pain passed through his body and everything went black.
When Harry came to, he was in a starkly white hospital room. He tried to lift his arm, but found that he couldn't move.
His heart pounded as he feared he was paralysed, but later realised it was only due to his fatigue and the casts restricting his movement.
He had a neck brace on and a bandage around his head, and his right foot, in a cast, had been elevated on a pillow. His torso had been wrapped tightly, probably due to broken ribs, Harry guessed. With great effort, he lifted an arm to feel his head. It was sore where he had hit it on the window.
He was uncomfortable, and he clawed at the neck brace. It was terrible and it reminded him of Aunt Marge's dog collars. He shifted, trying to get into a more comfortable position, but a sharp pain shot through his right hip, and he hissed in pain.
"Oh, you're awake," a friendly voice broke him out of his discomfort. It was a kind-looking nurse, and she was carrying a tray of medicine. "Let me check you. Don't move, alright?"
Harry obeyed her, wincing a little as she changed the bandages on his head gently. "How am I?" he questioned. He needed to know how badly he was hurt.
"Pretty badly shook up, I must say. A mild concussion, a broken foot, sprained neck, sprained hip and a two broken ribs." She reeled off, counting them off her fingers. "I think you must have gotten the worst of the accident."
"My uncle, how is he?" Harry crossed his fingers, hoping that Uncle Vernon wasn't hurt too badly. Otherwise Harry would definitely get the worst of it when he was discharged.
"Oh, Vernon Dursley, just a mild concussion and a sprained ankle. He should be out of hospital in a week." the nurse said pleasantly.
"Oh" Harry couldn't think of anything else to say.
"Anyway, I wouldn't be too worried about your injuries if I were you. You'd be up and about in no time at all! Let's see you take your medicine okay?" She asked him. Harry nodded, receiving a tablet and a injection from her.
The next few days in hospital were the best kind of treatment he had ever had. The Dursleys never visited him, and he could eat all he wanted, without having to do any chores, and could even watch telly all he like.
In a week, the neck brace and the bandages were removed, leaving on the cast on Harry's foot. He could be discharged, the doctor had said, but he had to make sure he stayed off his feet, used the crutches whenever he wanted to move about, and come back in two weeks for a follow-up. Harry nodded, dreading his return back home. To his surprise, the Dursleys picked him up, "out of convenience", they had said, since they had to pick Uncle Vernon up too, and they "didn't want to appear so heartless in front of the neighbours".
It was three days since Harry had been discharged. As expected, Vernon had blamed Harry for the accident, losing his cool once and slapping Harry, hard. But under Aunt Petunia's coaxing, he had stopped.
She had reasoned with him, saying that it would be better to wait until Harry's next checkup was over before he tried anything. Otherwise, it would not do any good if the "nosy doctor" found anything amiss.
Harry listened to these words with a sinking heart. After the checkup, there was no knowing what Uncle Vernon would do next.
In the following two weeks, Harry was cooped up in his room, taking his meals through the cat flap, like before. Except it was harder to reach the food on the ground seeing he was on crutches.
Finally, Harry completed the checkup. Vernon was the one who fetched him home. Harry noticed a maniacal glint in his uncle's eyes, a look he had never seen before, throughout all his years. He just hoped that this summer would pass quickly, or someone would find out.
A/N: How did you like it? Please comment:)