He sat before the desk, surrounded by all the glimmering and moving gadgets in the office. He noted with some satisfaction that there was less than there used to be. He had caused quite a bit of destruction in Dumbledore's office before his capture.
After the incident in the Department of Mysteries, Harry had been forced to return to the Dursley's. Harry had mourned for the first few weeks but eventually he had run out of tears. He had been left hollow, numb, weak and defenseless. He had no will to defend himself. That was when everything went to hell. His emerald orbs darkened to an almost soot black at the memories. Everything had truly changed.
His head snapped up when he heard a quiet shuffle at the staircase in the back of Dumbledore's office. He watched the old man descend the staircase, and his eye sharply examined all the details. For once the spry old man actually looked his age. He seemed weakened and washed out. Harry frowned minutely to himself.
Then as he reached the bottom stair he seemed to straighten himself out and shake of the melancholy that has previously clung to him like a cloak. He looked up with a start when he noticed Harry and he straightened out immediately. He gave Harry a warm smile but for once he couldn't get that smile to reach his eyes. It looked painful. Even with the smile the image was incomplete, Albus' eyes weren't twinkling.
"Harry my boy, I trust you are well," he questioned mildly but there was a flash of grief in his eyes. Harry didn't respond, it wasn't a question and there was no real answer.
Dumbledore made his way to his desk and settled down before offering Harry tea and a lemon drop. Harry almost smiled at the familiar setting, but he couldn't bring the muscles to move. That sat in an almost comfortable silence but it couldn't be comfortable for long. The tension of the silence grew and soon it was almost tangible.
He seemed to take a small fortifying breath before beginning, "Harry as the situation stands we will have to induct you into the Order and begin training you for the final confrontation…" Harry interrupted him, "That won't be necessary Headmaster, I trained plenty during my year of captivity. I will continue my own training and allow the other students a sense of normalcy. I believe it to be for the best." Dumbledore was looking at him with even sadder eyes and the mask he had attempted to hold had fallen completely.
He opened his mouth, dozens apologies on the tip of his tongue, but he couldn't bring himself to spew the usual meaningless platitudes that would have soothed any other child's pain. The only problem was that Harry was no longer a child. He had wished and hoped that Harry may be allowed some semblance of a childhood but even he had to admit, Harry was never given the chance to be a child after his parent's death. Harry would never have that chance. He was grown, embittered, and his eyes were like a man who had seen far too much and was just desperately clinging to the final threads of his sanity.
Harry could see the emotions, for the first time he could see turmoil in Dumbledore's gaze and knew that he was reminiscing about the past and wishing. But Harry knew that there was nothing left to wish for, it was simply too late. He decided to explain this to the old man and ensure that he didn't hold any more useless hopes. It was a waste of time and there was no reason to hope anymore, not for him. Best to nip those hopes in the bud.
He spoke into the silence that had descended about them, his voice cold, stern, and emotionless. "I am not the naive, innocent, little brat that walked into this school six years ago. I am no longer the child you once knew."
He decided to be blunt at this point; there was no other way to get to the old man really, " When I was with Voldemort, I broke." There was an all-encompassing silence at this point. "I've been that way for a while now. I've reached the limit. I'm just an empty shell now, a broken weapon, a brittle one that'll still work, but only until the job is done…" "… I won't last long after that."
He stood abruptly and as he gazed intensely into Dumbledore's shocked blue irises, he gave a small, practically nonexistent, bittersweet smile. Dumbledore almost gasped in shock.
Harry didn't know it himself, but it was a heartbreaking smile that lit up his whole face and darkened it all at once, drenching his features in grief, loss, and that feel of stolen purity.
Suddenly, he stepped back, breaking the moment, and spun on his heel towards the door. He stopped with his hand on the handle and turned just enough to look over his shoulder, "Then again, whose fault is that?" He turned back to the door. "After all, it was the wizarding world that declared a year old toddle a savior, a hero, a weapon, a tool, just because the freak couldn't die with his godforsaken family." Albus' heart broke at those words, suffusing him in guilt as all his mistakes over the last half century culminated before him in this one remarkable young man who had to suffer for his foolish mistakes. As Harry opened the door, he muttered to himself, just loud enough to be heard in the office, "Heh, I must 'a been damned from the start."