Disclaimer:Boy, do I wish I owned Harry Potter and his friends…But, alas, I may only borrow them for a while.
Warning: This story will contain themes of abuse, cutting, and depression.
A/N: This story starts during the summer after Harry's fifth year, about two weeks after he returned to the Dursley's home. This story will be compliant with books 1 through 5.
Where Do I Go From Here?
Chap. 1 Falling, Falling, Falling
The sun beat down hot and heavy over the identical rows of houses and manicured lawns of Privet Drive, causing most people living there to seek shelter indoors to escape the heat. Yet, there was someone on that street who was out and about. The neighbors thought it strange that anyone would willingly be out doing their gardening now, rather than wait until the cooler temperatures of the evening. But Harry Potter of number 4 Privet Drive was indeed outside. He was on his hands and knees in the front yard, attempting to remove the weeds from the flowerbeds as quickly as possible. He knew that if he did not hurry, he would miss lunch yet again, and his empty stomach growled in protest at the thought.
Rising from his stooped over position by the rose bushes, Harry wiped one of the sleeves from the over-sized shirt he was wearing over his face, trying to catch the sweat-drops before they fell onto the lenses of his glasses. He wanted desperately to just remove the baggy shirt in order to allow some of the soft wind that ruffled his hair to blow across his sweaty back, but he knew he could not do that. Doing something like that would allow the neighbors to see things that the Dursleys had strictly warned Harry not to show. He knew why, of course. It would have been quite difficult to explain away the bruises and such that marred his skin, leaving his torso an assortment of shades, ranging from the almost healed spots of yellow, to the still-swollen areas of deep purple.
Releasing a weary sigh, Harry pulled the last weed up, gathered the gardening supplies, and headed for the back door, knowing his Aunt would never allow him passage through by way of the front entrance. He poked just his head inside and called out.
"Aunt Petunia, I'm done."
She turned from where she was standing at the kitchen counter, threw a disgusted look at her nephew and approached him, letting her upper lip curl northward as if she smelled something foul.
"You're covered in filth!"
Harry looked down and was surprised to see how much dirt had managed to stick to his clothing, especially the knees of his trousers, which were barely visible beneath the layer of soil and bits of grass that clung there. He cast his eyes to the floor and spoke softly.
"Um, sorry, Aunt Petunia."
" 'Sorry' won't get your clothes clean, boy. Go stand at the bottom of the steps." She bustled forward and Harry scurried down to the bottom step, standing still with his head bowed when he got there. Yes, he knew this routine well. She was going to hose him off again, as if he were nothing more than an errant dog that had rolled in the mud. Yeah, Harry's mind ridiculed him, just like a dog. Slowly, Harry's brow drew down in a furrow of remorse as he suddenly thought of his godfather. Giving his head a shake in an attempt to clear the disheartening thoughts, he tried to keep his mind on more pressing matters…like the hose that his Aunt was uncoiling from where it was sitting next to the spigot by the back door.
It wasn't that he minded the spray of cool water…in fact, he would welcome it quite readily today with as hot as he still was, it was just the manner in which his Aunt did it that irked him so. She seemed to take great pleasure on adjusting the hand-held spray nozzle on the end of the hose to the setting that caused the water to be shot with force from its tip, always being sure to 'accidentally' spray him in the face at least a few times. The action would typically knock his glasses from his face and leave red patches of skin behind that would sting for several hours after such harsh treatment, but he knew better than to complain. That would only make her mad, and he was desperate for a meal today.
The day before had been rough. To start with, his cousin Dudley had stolen his meager breakfast while he was getting himself a glass of water to wash it all down with. True, two pieces of dry toast could hardly seem appetizing, but hunger can make toast seem like a feast. Dudley had snatched the blackened bread from Harry's plate, purposely making sure that Harry could see him doing so. Harry had turned to his Aunt and Uncle hoping that they would do something about it, but they superciliously ignored the act of thievery by their beloved son and Harry was forced to watch with barely disguised contempt as Dudley broke the bread into crumbs, crunching the bigger bits between his thumb and forefinger until they were nothing more than dust.
The day seemed only to get worse from there. Harry had painted the fence as he was ordered to right after breakfast, but the rain that appeared shortly before lunch made all of his hard work fade away as the rainwater mingled with the still wet paint and dripped into the grass below in fat, white drops. The summer shower was brief and light, but it had reeked its havoc. Vernon was livid when he returned from work that day. With-holding Harry's dinner from him in punishment, he then gave the boy a good walloping. Unfortunately, the pitifully thin sandwich Harry had eaten for lunch that day barely staved off the hunger pains that were starting to plague him by that night. So, it was with a weakened body and a somber mood that he settled into bed early that evening, and he could not help the feeling of despondency that crept over him as he lay in the dark.
Now that it was the following day, he was desperate for sustenance; especially after the difficult morning he'd had. At the break of day, he had awoken to the sound of his Aunt's screeching, informing him to "Get your lazy butt out of bed and start breakfast!"
Harry had hurried as best he could, but half-way down the stairs, a dizzy spell brought him to his knees, almost causing him to fall the rest of the way down. As he sat panting and waiting for the dizziness to pass, his Aunt caught sight of him, her eyes narrowing and her mouth drawing into a straight line in her fury.
"You little good-for-nothing! Why are you lazing about when I gave you a job to do?"
Harry wanted so badly to defend himself, to tell her the truth, but years' worth of habits were ingrained into him and he merely hung his head and muttered out the expected words.
"Sorry, Aunt Petunia."
She stared at him as he slowly got to his feet, as if sizing him up, and when he walked past her she ground out a "Humph" and gave him a shove towards the kitchen. "Well, get going. We haven't got all day."
As Harry stumbled past the entry way that led to the living room, he could hear Dudley snickering at his misfortune and he tried his hardest to ignore it. When he entered the kitchen, Harry saw a carton of eggs and half a package of bacon sitting on the counter and could barely contain the groan that wanted to escape his throat. He knew it would take a long time to cook that much bacon in the small frying pan his Aunt always insisted he use. Oh, she had larger, nicer pans than the old cast iron type he was forced to use, but she had informed him that she 'will not have my good cookware defiled by the likes of you!'
Before long, the delicious aroma of sizzling bacon filled the house and the smell attracted the two largest family members like moths to a flame. Harry had just set the cooked bacon on the serving platter when the dish was ripped from his hand by Dudley's pudgy fingers. Harry's cousin had just sat down with his prize as Vernon Dursley made his way to the table, twitching his walrus-like mustache as he sniffed the air.
The man lumbered over to Harry's side and checked the toast that was still in the toaster, leaning over close to the counter where Harry stood, practically smashing the raven-haired youth against the front of the stove. He sniffed the air again and then made a growling noise low in his throat. Standing upright again, he snatched hold of the fabric that hung loose around the collar on the back of Harry's shirt and leaned his face in close, a look of pure loathing etched across his features.
"Did you burn the toast again, Boy? You remember what happened the last time you did that."
"N-no, Uncle Vernon, it's not burned," Harry stuttered out. Of course he remembered the last time. It may have been from the summer of last year, but how could he forget it? He saw a reminder of it every time he showered. Vernon had taken the metal spatula that Harry had been using to cook breakfast that morning and held it over the eye of the gas stove, letting the flames lick the metal surface until its color changed from the extreme heat. He had held Harry down and pressed the spatula against the boy's chest, leaving behind a burn that left a small grid shaped scar below his left nipple. Vernon's reasoning at the time was explained in a low voice full of menace as he lifted up Harry's shirt that day. "You burn my food, I burn you."
Harry couldn't stop the small shiver that raced down his spine as that particular memory assaulted his senses. As he pulled himself out of his morose thoughts, he glanced around to be sure the rest of his 'family' had not seen him phase out like that. The last thing he wanted was for them to think he was more of a freak than they considered him already.
By the time Harry finished cooking the last pan of eggs and bacon, the others had already eaten everything else he had cooked thus far, and Harry knew that it didn't look very promising that he would get anything to eat that morning…and he was right. No sooner had the serving dish been set back onto the table, than two sets of chubby hands started grabbing at the food, not leaving even a single piece behind.
Harry waited for everyone to finish eating and, with a sigh, began clearing away the plates so he could get them washed up as soon as possible. He wanted to be sure to have enough time to finish all of the chores on the list before Vernon got back from work that evening. As he went to scrape the bits and pieces left behind off of the dishes, he paused momentarily where he stood poised at the trash bin. Casting a furtive look over both shoulders to be sure he wasn't being watched, he quickly grabbed at the morsels clinging to the surface of the plates. Tossing most of it hungrily into his mouth, he saved a few small bits to give to Hedwig later in the day, sticking them into one of the dirty napkins and stowing it deep within the pocket of his over-sized trousers.
And so, now it was lunch time, and he was stuck outside in the heat of the noon-time sun waiting for his clothes to dry off so he may be allowed entry into the house. For a while, he merely sat on the bottom step clutching his belly. His food for the past two weeks had been coming so rarely and in such small portions that his stomach constantly hurt, periodically sending cramping waves of pain over his body that seemed to spread out until even his head throbbed with the pain of it all. Even now, he was starting to get his headache back and he was having pain, not only in his stomach, but in his chest as well.
Deciding that he might as well start working on the next chore on the list while he waited, Harry got up and headed for the shed. He had no idea how long it would take to get it all cleaned out, but he knew the sooner he started on it, the better. As he stood up and took his first step in the shed's direction, he could feel his heart beating so hard that it hurt and it made his headache throb in sync with each pulse of it. Harry told himself that he could deal with it, that he'd been in worse pain than that before, but he had just gotten to the shed's entrance and had flung open its door when the strange dizziness came back and the world seemed to tilt on its axis. He flung his arms out, seeking anything that would aid in his plight, but nothing was there to break his fall and he hit the ground hard, sending a sharp stab of pain shooting up his left arm. He slowly opened his eyes and struggled to comprehend what had happened, but his foggy mind only let him stay awake just long enough to register the smattering of blood across his left hand before everything fell into blackness.
A/N: Hello to you all! Welcome to all you awesome people out there. Please spare a moment to send a review, so that I know if you like my work and would like me to continue with this story line. Remember, reviews are the encouragement we writers need to keep us motivated. So, I hope to hear from you. And until next time…Happy Reading!!