A/N: This is my first ever fan fiction, so please R&R, even flames...I'm that desperate! Constructive critism is always appreciated and please let me know if I've made any mistakes/written anything that doesn't make sense! Thankyou, hope you enjoy:)
Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I do not own any of Harry Potter, no surprises there then:)
Articles, Announcements and Hauntings
Within the playground muggle children were playing, their cries and shouts of laughter seeming the perfect sound track to the image of the sun peeking between the trees tentatively, as if it was debating whether to dowse them with it's warmth or not. No-one noticed the young man sitting on the bench among the trees.
He had a mop of black, unwieldy hair that fell across his green eyes, eyes that seemed to betray an age far more mature than his physical years. He wore glasses and traces of unshaven stubble plagued his hard jaw, set as if from habit in a tight expression.
His fringe fell across his face as he read the newspaper in his hands, a newspaper, which, if the occupants of the park were to take a closer look, would be unlike any other they had ever seen. The cumbersome fringe was swept back briefly, momentarily, to reveal a glimpse of a small, uniquely-shaped scar, quickly hidden again beneath the raven coloured locks.
But no-one in the park noticed him, despite his unusual clothes or the brooding demeanour that hung around him. Chiefly because he wanted it this way. When a wizard doesn't want to be seen, you can guarantee no muggle will find anything out of the ordinary, even if that wizard were to disappear infront of your very eyes with a loud crack, even and especially if, that wizard is Harry Potter.
Harry turned the pages of the Daily Prophet, immersed in the information of the wizarding world that he had been eluding for four years. It was only here, in the presence of no-one but some unsuspecting muggles, that he let his disguising spell drop. His distinctive and famous features in the world of magic creating no reaction at their appearance at the park, he felt it was safe to let his magically blonde hair and sharp nose, thin mouth and grey eyes, melt away to release the natural exterior underneath.
He grunted under his breath at the latest scandal from Reeter Skeeter, whose determined gossip hunting and ruthless pen had kept her popularity rife even till then, and nodded to himself in approval at yet another new decision by the Ministry of Magic that would help prevent any repetition of the events that caused the War.
Hermione is doing her job then. He thought to himself, had he expected anything else from the strong-minded and intelligent Hermione Granger? No, he had not, he concluded, quickly turning the page and covering up the photo of the once bushy haired girl, now confident woman, speaking fervently at a press conference.
He busied himself with the less personal news of the magical world, news that did not send a pang through his heart; he crossed over any articles about Hogwarts with equal uneasiness knowing the pain it would cause him to be reminded of the school that had become his first proper home, where he had gained his first proper family.
Suddenly, from the depths of his musings, Harry was jerked back to reality as he found himself staring at an all too familiar image. A photo of himself smiled nervously back at him, he recognised it as being recycled from his interviews just after the War, all those years ago. He apprehensively read the headline:
World's Most Famous Wizard Hero Announced Dead
He read on:
The household name of Harry Potter is now to be officially used in the past tense, this is the equivalent of the statement the Ministry of Magic used this week. The wizard that has gone down in history books as the great hero who will be remembered for his defeat of the most evil wizard of our time, Voldemort, is now announced to be officially deceased. Harry Potter disappeared four years ago shortly after his defeat of The Dark Lord that ended the War, since then it has been widely accepted by the wizarding world that the young wizard had committed suicide shortly after his disappearance. But why has his death not been announced until now?
"Despite the evidence showing that he suffered from serious depression after his defeat of Lord Voldemort we have been reluctant to announce Harry Potter as officially deceased. It is not until now, when new evidence has come to light, that the Ministry must concede that suicide is the most probable explanation for the loss of one of our most deserving heroes." These were the words of Ron Weasley on Thursday, the ministry's head auror and one of Harry Potter's closest friends. Despite this late statement coming as no shock to the magical community the wizarding world still mourns this news. The official funeral is to be held later this month where many of the world's most important figures will attend. Although it had been four long years coming, the acknowledgement of this young man's death has the world remembering the horror of the war and lives that, seemingly even now, it cost to end.
Harry snorted derisively and slammed the newspaper down next to him. He had been reading the newspaper backwards, a habit picked up from his days at Twelve Grimmauld Place with Ron, Hermione and Kreacher, knowing that the really important stories of interest would be hidden in obscurity at the back. It was therefore not till now that he read the front-page article that consisted mostly of his own face smiling up at him.
"So this is what makes front-page news these days." He muttered sourly under his breath. But his thoughts had reminded him of the house he had known as his home those brief but strangely comforting months he had been on the run from the Death Eater's and their evil leader. With yet another pang that sunk to the heart he wondered what was now to be done with his house and house elf that were his only surviving memories of Sirius besides the photo album tucked away in his travelling trunk.
But this also brought thoughts of even less pleasant times spent at Twelve Grimmauld Place. It had been here that he was living when he decided to disappear, here that hosted unpleasant and painful memories that preceded his assumed death. One such scene haunted him now…
Four Years Ago
There was a faint knock at the door. Harry jumped, he had not known anyone was in the house and now someone was here to disturb the hours he had spent staring mindlessly at the ceiling.
"Harry?" Hermione's voice carried tentatively around the door, followed by her head. Harry made no movement acknowledging her existence. He did not even blink as he continued to stare up at the ceiling.
"Harry, Kreacher let me in, did you know he's in such a state? You haven't come down for weeks, he says, you barely have anything to eat, he's worrying himself sick over you, we all are."
"Look at you Harry, you're wasting away, you're starving yourself, you need help!" she was close to tears now, it was on hearing the pain in her voice that he first gave any appearance of hearing her. It was a small, imperceptible movement as at the sound of her tears he winced slightly. He vaguely knew someone was in pain, and it made him sad, but he was too far away to do anything, too lost in depression to move to help the crying girl.
"We're all waiting for you downstairs, all of the Order, half of the DA, Ron, Ginny-do you realise what this behaviour is doing to her? She's heartbroken because she can't do anything, because you sit alone in this empty house like a zombie…"
Over the last month almost every one of Harry's close acquaintances had come to try and snap him out of his depression, but none had been successful. Now, it seemed, they had banded together to make a joint effort. But their being all together only screamed to him of the empty spaces that were never to be replaced, the spaces people who were never coming to visit him again used to fill.
"We've come to take you back to the Burrow Harry, by force if necessary; we cannot let you go on like this."
Cautiously she walked forward, laying a hand on his shoulder; he finally looked at her, startled, as if he hadn't known she was there. His eyes were filled with such an unrecognising look that the tears spilled over.
"Oh Harry…" her voice broke.
There was a noise of footsteps and the door opened again, almost all the Weasley men entered. Almost. There was one whose footsteps were gone forever.
Ron went over to Hermione to comfort her as Arthur, Bill, George, Charlie and even Percy Weasley stared worriedly at Harry's still figure.
"He's not saying anything, it's like he doesn't know we're even here," she sobbed into Ron's shoulder. "Right Harry, you're coming with us," murmured Bill, pushing his sleeves up his scarred arms.
It was when they picked him up that he sprang to life, struggling and kicking as if his life depended on it, just wanting to be left alone to wallow, just wanting to crawl inside himself and never feel again…
Harry shuddered at the memory. Picking himself off the bench he tucked the Daily prophet into a pocket of the oversized coat he wore. The muggle children continued to laugh and chatter as the sun made up its mind and light burst through the trees. No-one had noticed the strange young man sitting on the bench, a sense of persistent and dogged despair surrounding him, and no-one noticed as he walked away.