Disclaimer: I do not own or claim to own anything remotely associated with the Harry Potter Universe. I'm just playing around with a few characters. Please don't sue me!
Authors Note: Well, here it is, my very first HP fanfic. I've always loved reading Harry/Dumbledore hurt/comfort fics and so thought I'd have a go writing one myself. I would absolutely love to know what everyone thinks of this. I'm a self-confessed review addict and am holding the second chapter hostage until I get some! Honestly, I see no point continuing if ppl think its crap, lol, so let me know either way. Please. x
It was only when Harry stood just inside the imposing black iron gates of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry that he felt the overwhelming sense of apprehension and disbelief. How had he ended up here, in the dead of night, soaked through to his skin, two weeks into his summer holiday? To him the castle had always been a wondrous and awe inspiring sight, a monument to the very magic preformed within its walls. To him it brought forth feelings of belonging and safety, two senses he had never experienced before his eleventh birthday and his discovery of his place in the world. Now, standing at the edge of its boundary, the sight it presented was more ominous than wondrous. Shrouded in darkness, its silhouette cut a frightening outline against the deep black-blue of the cloudless sky. The little light there was from the waxing moon highlighted the rain soaked gothic architecture in points and sharp lines, further adding to its seemingly dark presence. Harry suppressed another bone shaking shiver, but couldn't quite stop the tremors that ran though his chilled limbs.
It had seemed so important for him to make his way here only an hour ago. In the grip of panic, his frenzied mind had brought only one location to the forefront. One place he had always associated with feelings of warmth and safety. One place he truly belonged. When his uncles hand had connected solidly with his jaw, when his foot had buried itself against his ribs, when his aunts gaze had caught his own and shown only hatred and disgust, he had grabbed his wand and jacket and fled. He remembered running through the sheets of rain and bitterly cold breeze in no particular direction, his ribs protesting every heavy footfall with a hot rush of flame. He had ran for what seemed like hours, but in reality had probably been half an hour. He had ran until he hadn't immediately recognised the surrounding buildings and streets. And then he had stopped running when he realised that no-one was chasing him. Why would they? He had stood in the rain at the side of an unknown street, his breath coming in pants and hiccups, his body protesting adamantly, his wand griped firmly between frozen fingers and realised his situation through a hazy adrenalin filled mind.
His sense of panic was dulled however when he remembered his reason for being there in the first place. It had been two weeks since the death of his godfather, two weeks since his possession by Voldermort and his resulting conversation with Dumbledore. When he had returned to his relatives following the end of term it had been to the normal frosty reception and he had worked hard to stay out of their way. The numbness he had felt though ever since leaving the school had, unfortunately, began to ebb away. In its place was a pain that even with everything he had been through, he had never experienced. It grew daily, its power strengthened by the images of Sirius's face, his words on family and home, and the final flutter of the veil as it swallowed his godfathers body. Harry had fought against the swell of emotion constantly, afraid to the let it consume him for fear of never coming back. And so he had occupied his time with study, with exercise, with running, with anything and everything that could keep the monster within in its cage.
He was doing ok. Until today.
While rummaging in his trunk for spare parchment his fingers had brushed against the cool smoothness of glass. Without looking, his heart had began to flutter against his ribcage and his stomach began to churn. The monster was awake. Slowly, without taking his fingers from the glass, his other hand had reached in and peeled back the layers of clothes and knick-knacks that blocked his view. When the first glint of light sparkled from the shard his throat had constricted painfully. He had felt his body begin shaking almost violently. A cold sweat had washed over his back and he had squeezed his eyes shut as tightly as possible. It didn't stop the monster though. With a wail he had grasped the edge of the trunk with numb fingers and had flipped the heavy wood on its side, the crash of books and shoes loud in the small almost empty room. Bent over double, gasping for breath, waiting for the monster to show itself in full, he hadn't heard the bedroom door open, nor had he heard the lumbering footsteps of his uncle as he entered the small space. If he had not been concentrating so hard on his intake of much needed air he might have noticed the purple blotches of colour high on his uncle's cheeks or the way his hands curled into chunky fists at his sides. As it was, an explosion of pain from the left side of his face had been all the warning he had received. The pain may have been severe, but he remembered thinking during the beating that it wasn't a thing compared to what he had been about to experience.
Standing on the street, reliving the past half hour, he had felt the churning of emotion lick the surface of his conscience. The monster had indeed been awakened, and it had no intension of going back to sleep. There was a pain in his chest that went much deeper than any of the physical injurious he was sporting. He needed something to help, someone to help, somewhere to go. Before he realised what exactly he was doing his right hand had raised his wand and an instant later the knight bus exploded into being in a flash of blurry colour and sound. Stan Turnpike appeared at the rear entrance, his cocky smile faltering as he took in the sight before him. Harry's voice had shook and sounded younger than it should have as he'd asked if he could be taken to Hogsmede. Stan had announced the fare and seeing Harry's face had written a wizarding i.o.u and helped him on board. The ride had been a short one, as they always were regardless of destination, and thankfully Stan had kept conversation to a minimum, only handing him a slightly dusty handkerchief and pointing to his lip.
When Harry had been deposited in Hogsmede he had immediately set off on the muddy path to Hogwarts, his eyes struggling to make out the route in the little light offered by the occasional lantern and the moon overhead. When finally he had reached the great iron gates, and caught sight of the castle ahead the relief had almost pushed his emotions to breaking point again and he had choked down a sob with effort. Standing at the gates he had hoarsely whispered a plea for entrance, unsure of whether or not he would be permitted entry at this point in the year. But he remembered Dumbledore's words in Hagrids hut about there always being a place for students who needed help and repeated it inside his head like a mantra, almost missing the click and groan of metal concentrating as he was. Looking to his right he found the source of the noise. A portion of the gate had swung open, almost like a small gate in its own right, and Harry had scrambled forward and passed through the entryway onto the grounds.
The gate had closed immediately and here he now stood. Muddy, bloody and emotionally wrought. For the first time Harry noticed light at the castle that wasn't due to the moon. Lanterns lit the entryway ahead, and several warm lights outlined windows across the castle, signalling life within its walls. He briefly wondered who would be there. Would Dumbledore be resident within the castle during holidays? Harry felt his emotions stir within his chest once more. He both hated the thought of seeing him again after the incident in his office and the resulting conversation, and longed to see him with desperation he was unused to. But what reception would greet him here? Would there be anger for not staying with the Dursleys? Disappointment for leaving the safety of Privet Drive and returning to Scotland unaccompanied? The thought of such a welcome had Harry questioning his reasons for coming here in the first place. He shuffled forward slightly, his feet freezing cold and limbs stiff from exposure. He made his way slowly uphill, his body protesting movement but not as violently as before. As he neared the entrance courtyard he paused, his heartbeat sounding loud in his ears despite the steady drum of rain around him. Without over thinking it he cut to his left and made his way as quickly as he could towards the Quiddich Pitch, his numb feet stumbling across wet grass and loose stones. The pitch, like the rest of the castle, wasn't lit, but the sheer expanse of it caught what light was available and he could easily make out the gleam of the hoops towering overhead and the stands surrounding the grass below.
Making his way to the nearest stand entryway he shoved his wand into his back pocket and used both hands to navigate his way to the top of the steep staircase. Finally reaching the open hatch at the top he emerged into the rain and walked carefully along the front of the benches and sat down, somewhat stiffly, at the end of the first bleacher. Wrapping his coat tighter around him he looked out across the pitch and replayed matches and catches in his mind.
It was a curious mix of relief and melancholy that often manifested a few weeks into the summer term. Although he appreciated the quiet of the castle and the chance to relax and catch-up with work, both within the school and at the orders headquarters, it was always, even after so many years, an uneasy relaxation. Minerva had once compared him to a worried mother, fretting over her children's absence. And he supposed she may have had a point, although he would never admit such a thing to his deputy. He did worry. At least at the school the children were accounted for and well protected, both by himself and his fellow professors and of course by the castle herself. The wards that surrounded the school and her grounds were ancient and powerful, so much so that Tom Riddle himself would have a shock if he were to be foolish enough to try to breach them. But no such protection could be assured at the family homes of the thousand or so children currently residing at home. And in the dark days of late, Albus felt justified in his concern more than ever. His only solace was that in the past two weeks, death eater activity had been at the lowest in months. Almost non-existent in fact. Albus could only presume that Voldermort's failed possession of Harry had in some way injured him, forcing him to take the time to lick his wounds and re-evaluate him plans.
Albus rose from his place at his desk and turned to face the blackened windows. His back protested from sitting in the one position for too long with a series of pops and cracks and he took a moment to stretch his aging muscles whilst looking out at the wild Scottish weather. He did not envy anyone out at such an hour on a night such as this. He took off his half moon spectacles and rubbed his eyes, a sigh finding its way from the depths of his lungs to his lips, its heat causing condensation to form on the mottled glass of the window. Harry Potter. The boy had barely been on the planet, a mere 15 years, and yet Albus felt that he himself had aged twice that in the time he had known him. Albus closed his eyes and instantly an image of Harry's face flashed in the darkness, his expression one of rage and grief, his body shaking with the force of it. Harry had known both of those emotions in his past, in fact had experienced them on more than one occasion. But it had been painfully obvious to him that he had never had someone with whom he could lean on, someone who could allow him the time and means to vent his emotions. Someone to be both a shoulder to cry on and a firm guiding hand. Harry, in short, had never had a parent. And on that night, after months of whispers, rumours and cruel punishments, after losing his godfather, after facing Lord Voldermort yet again, he had finally snapped. He had turned the overwhelming emotion into energy and had proceeded to destroy his office. He had yelled at him and fought the urge to raise his wand against him. In fact he had done nothing surprising at all. Except for one thing. Harry had not shed a tear. Not once during his explosion had his body leaked his pain from his system in torrents of tears, not once during the painful, revealing conversation afterwards had his eyes filled. And in the day that followed, his last day at the school, he had seemed almost clinically detached from himself and his emotions. He showed neither grief nor anger, self-pity nor determination, and that, that was what was keeping Albus from his bed this night.
What had he been thinking sending Harry to the Dursley's in such a state?
It was a question he had asked himself on many occasions, and yet the answer was always the same. To protect him. Whatever pain, whatever emotional distress Harry was experiencing at this moment was nothing, he knew, to what he would go through if Tom were to get his snake-like hands on him. Not for the first time Albus silently cursed the powers that be for Harry's lot in life.
Turning from the window Albus gazed sadly at the objects whirring and smoking on shelves and tables across his office. Most had been repaired by the skilful hands of the Hogwarts Elves, some by a powerful reparo from his own wand, others had been beyond repair and they're pieces were lying in several boxes stored in his private study. If only young wizards were as easy to fix, Albus mused. Walking back to his seat, he sat and picked up his quill. This one was shocking pink in colour, with an azure coloured nib. He twirled it between two fingers, contemplating his choices and decisions these past few years and wondering if he had focussed too much on what choices were easy rather than what choices were right. Would Harry be better off here with him, ministry be damned? What kind of hero would be wizarding world be left with if Harry completely self-destructed? Could he play the role Harry so desperately needed, even if he didn't realise it? Would he be given the chance?
A completely unexpected and surprising ripple through the wards interrupted his inner musings. As the wards were tuned to his own magical signature, as Hogwarts Headmaster, any change or alert they sent caused his own magical aura to shift, alerting him. He rose swiftly and made his way around the desk, careful not to jostle Fawkes' perch, and reached a hand out to touch the stonewall below the portrait of Phineas Nigellus. Almost instantly the magical current of Hogwarts directed itself to his touch, the flow of multi-layered magic rippling along his own like adjoining streams. There was no danger, that much he could sense, but something, or more likely someone had gained entry to the grounds. He was not overly worried on the safety of the castle and its remaining inhabitants; Hogwarts would not have allowed anyone with dangerous or dark intentions to cross her borders. The only reason the castle would have granted entry would be if someone were hurt or injured. Taking his hand from the stone he picked up his discarded outer robe and exited the room.
The rain had slowed and turned to drizzle in the ten minutes he had sat on the wet wooden bench. Pulling the edge of his jacket cuff over his hand he wiped it across his nose, not particularly caring what state his jacket was left in or how disgusting the motion was. At long last the monster within had settled down and the pain in his chest had dwindled leaving only exhaustion. He felt bone weary, as though he had just returned from an epic battle on distant lands, his body bruised and battered. The pain may have disappeared from his chest but it had left behind a thumping headache, and he could still feel the ache in his ribs from earlier. He was convinced though that all of his hurts had been somewhat dampened by the cold that had now sunk into his very bones. Harry wasn't sure he would ever be warm again.
In fact Harry was sure that the bitterly cold wind, that gained momentum across the expanse of the Quiddich pitch before hitting the stands, had somehow successfully slowed his brain. All of the panic and desperation he had felt not an hour ago had fizzled away to nothing, in fact, he was convinced that all of his emotions had been frozen mid-feeling, leaving only a hollowness and tiredness behind. He welcomed the numbing sensation. If he had known that all he had to do was half freeze himself to death to quieten the monster he would have slept in front of the freezer at the dursley's every night of the past two weeks. A bubble of hysterical laughter swelled in his chest as he imagined himself blue, but like the rest of his emotions, quickly disbanded.
A sound, above the whistle of the wind and the gentle patter of rain, caught his attention for the first time. His white-blue fingers tightened painfully around the wand he still held in his right hand and he turned a stiff neck in the direction of the entryway hatch. His heart, which had fallen in a slow sluggish rhythm, hop skipped and jumped into a quicker beat. Harry considered his options as he stood and realised there wasn't many. It was now, faced with an unknown opponent, that he began to realise how hasty his departure had been. A scuffle from the stairway turned into definite footfalls and Harry forced himself to slow his breathing. He wouldn't be able to fight off any attack if he was hyperventilating when they sprung. He raised his wand in the direction of the only entrance and exit from the stand as the footsteps came nearer, his heart jumping almost painfully against his chest.
When Albus Dumbledore emerged from the blackness, several things happened at the one time. Harry's wand slipped from lax fingers to drop onto the wooden decking almost soundlessly. His legs wobbled a little and he forced himself to sit back on the damp again seat before he fell flat on his face, and his heart which moments ago had been trying to escape the confines of his ribcage, had settled into a too fast double beat, making him slightly dizzy from the sudden rush of blood.
The gravely sound of Dumbledore's voice seemed to call to the monster within, and Harry became alarmed when he felt his throat begin to ache and his chest begin to throb as they had done earlier. A gasp left his mouth as he fought to swallow the monster, his eyes never leaving his headmasters. The Professor looked concerned as he slowly walked towards him, his crimson robe becoming wet as the silver edged trim trailed across the puddled wood. Harry felt frozen to the spot, unable to form words or take his eyes from the intense gaze levelled at him. When he was close enough, Dumbledore reached a hand towards him, his fingers trailing across his rain flattened hair down past his ear to his shoulder.
Harry squeezed his eyes shut, his breath now coming in pants and gasps, and willed the monster to disappear. Dumbledore's voice was soft and gentle when he spoke, his touch feather light, and Harry briefly wondered if the man viewed him as a wounded animal, or a dangerous weapon. Without Harry realising it, Dumbledore's hand had found his own smaller one and squeezed it.
"Harry your frozen. Come, lets get you heated up hmmm?"
Dumbledore stood and pulled Harry's hand a little. Harry stood shakily, his breath still rough against his sore throat and found himself gripping the older mans warm hand almost painfully. Dumbledore did not complain though, only gripped his hand harder in return and pulled him towards the hatch, stooping to retrieve Harry's wand on the way. Harry squinted slightly in the light cast from Dumbledore's wand as he negotiated the stairs leading to the pitch. His legs still wobbled slightly and there was a few times when his numb feet caught the edge of a stair and he had counted on Dumbledore's arm, which had found its way around his shoulders, to set him right.
Their pace was slow as they made they're way towards the entrance courtyard, and Harry's breathing was almost back to normal by the time they had reached the massive main doors of Hogwarts. Without touching them, the doors opened before them, and the gust of warm air that hit Harry as they passed the threshold had him shivering in earnest. Dumbledore hadn't spoken on their trek from the quiddich pitch and he had yet to remove his arm from across Harry's shoulders. Harry found himself leaning slightly on the comfortable bulk of the headmaster and found his feet beginning to scuff on nearly every step.
"Almost there Harry"
Harry nodded against the warm fabric of the robe pressed against his cheek, his worsening weariness negating the use of his vocal chords. Before he knew it they were riding the revolving staircase leading to the Headmasters office, and Harry found it strange that he barely remembered getting there. The staircase slowed and eventually stopped, leaving them facing the doorway leading to Dumbledore's office. Harry felt a stirring of anxiety at the prospect of entering this office again, and when he closed his eyes to compose himself, saw flickering images in the darkness of his last visit here. Dumbledore had not moved to enter the office Harry belatedly noticed, but rather had stayed standing at the top of the stairwell, his arm pulling Harry firmly against his side, his other hand stroking the wet clumps of hair atop his head. When he heard the raspy voice from above his head, he visibly relaxed, his shaking, which he hadn't noticed, slowing to gentle tremors.
"Harry, lets get inside hmm? I assure you there is nothing within my office to worry about."
Rather than reply, Harry shuffled forward, and felt Dumbledore do the same, his hand reaching out to push the door.
Next: Dumbledore's P.O.V. Harry and Dumbledore have a long chat.
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