Okay, so, if you read my other stories, which you probably don't, you'll know that I've been reviewing and editing my stories, which I could use for an excuse as to why an update for this story has been so long coming. But that would be a lie. Anyway, nothing important has been changed, but a new chapter has been added, so please enjoy!

1

"I will create domestic fury and civil strife. Blood and destruction will be so common when I am done that mothers will smile to see their children cut down. And [his] ghost will walk the Earth and with the voice of a king cry 'Havoc!' and let loose the dogs of war."

-Shakespeare

The oppressive silence of the dark, cloud-filled day covered the entirety of Privet Drive. The rumbling storm clouds threatened to release their contents onto the heads of any who dared to stay beneath their cover. Of course, by this time, all the children had been called in, all the curtains pulled closed, and, as always, all doors securely locked. There was a juvenile delinquent roaming the streets, after all. Everyone knew he was mental. At least that's what the Dursleys said. Everyone in the neighborhood pitied them for having to put up with such a problem child.

Said "problem child" sat on a swing in the park at the end of Privet Drive. He knew he seemed oblivious to everything happening around him, even the constant crashing of thunder, but he could practically feel the eyes on him. The Order always had at least one person watching him at all times after the incident at the Ministry of Magic, even though, according to Dumbledore, the blood wards were impossible to break. If you were to ask Harry, he'd say that theory was a load of crap. Harry had long ago read up on the blood wards Dumbledore had briefly mentioned to him in his second year.

The Blood wards that Dumbledore proclaimed to exist largely depended on at least a small amount of kinship between the individual, or individuals, needing protection and the individual providing protection. Otherwise, they would break quite easily.

Anyone could tell there was no love to be lost between Harry and the Dursleys, and Petunia barely acknowledged Lily Potter as her sister, let alone Harry as the woman's son. To them, he was nothing more than a slave they could use as they wished. No relation of theirs. He would never call this place home.

Taking these factors into account, Harry gathered that there had never been blood wards protecting him or 4 Privet Drive.

Frankly, Harry was surprised he wasn't dead yet, although he guessed Dumbledore had gotten Snape to feed Voldemort enough information for the Dark Lord to think he couldn't get past the wards, so the man hadn't tried. He knew Dumbledore had set up an unplottable charm around the Dursley's house, so maybe (a very large maybe) Voldemort couldn't even find it. Harry sighed as he got up. It was no use thinking about something he couldn't do a thing about.

Harry rubbed his right side. He knew he had at least one bruised rib. He was pretty sure his left wrist, which he was cradling at the junction between his leg and hip, and three fingers of the same hand, were sprained. He didn't even want to know what he looked like at the moment, but he'd stalled long enough while sitting on the swing. He knew he'd have to wash his injuries before they got infected. He walked smoothly, despite his injuries, to the bathrooms that were set up not far from the swing-set, ignoring the eyes that followed his movements.

Once in the men's bathroom, and after making sure it was locked, Harry methodically stripped from his shirt and pants, leaving him in only his boxers to survey and catalogue the numerous bruises and cuts. There were so many that he could barely see the normally pale white skin of his torso below them. There were two deep criss-crossed cuts forming an X across his chest from shoulder to hip. At his waist, there were the barely healed scars that formed the word 'freak'. Putting his hand behind him to feel along his back, Harry could feel multiple long raised, ropy scars along with a few new ones. He was rather happy he couldn't turn his neck far enough around to see his back.

Leaning over, he reached under the bag of the garbage can that sat next to the sink and pulled from it a familiar potions med-kit. He'd seen many before, most commonly in the infirmary, as Madame Pomfrey usually pulled one out the moment he walked in, however, this one was his own. He'd stocked it himself before he'd left Hogwarts.

He'd had a good laugh in imagining what face Snape would have made if he'd known the potions Harry had been making successfully since his second year; Veritaserum (just in case), Bruise-healing paste, Murtlap essence, Boil-cure potion, Pepperup potion, even the Draught of Living Death (the one that Snape asked him about in his very first class with the man) and the Draught of Peace. He'd yet to use either of the last two, thankfully, as he had no desire to either be lulled into a deep sleep nor had he had any anxiety so great that a potion had been needed to soothe it.

He pulled out a few of these now: Wound-cleaning potion, Bruise-healing paste, Skele-gro, and Blood-replenishing potion. He hadn't thought he would need the Skele-grow this year, but with the threat of Sirius' wrath gone… needless to say the Dursley's had it out for him. The only reason he was here right now was because his Aunt and Uncle's stupid pig of a son had decided to play Harry Hunt today and Harry had managed to slip away. He probably wouldn't be allowed back in the house tonight, which meant he'd get another beating for not making dinner. He was rather amazed that the thought that he might poison them hadn't occurred to them. He'd been sorely tempted to many times before.

After he downed the Skele-gro, he sighed again, louder this time, before beginning to apply the potions and pastes. He couldn't heal all of the cuts and bruises or he'd get another beating that covered all these injuries and more; Vernon couldn't stand it when his punishments didn't show any lasting effect. He left all the cuts, but cleaned and closed them, making them scar. He didn't touch the bruises, but made sure there wasn't any lasting injury. He sighed as he felt the Skele-gro begin to take effect. Vernon didn't know that his wrist had been sprained, or that the fingers had been either, as he hadn't reacted during the beating; a great benefit from his high pain tolerance. He winced as the muscles reattached to the bone. It was a part of the potion; it didn't only restore bone, but fixed the muscles and ligaments that went with it.

Last of all, Harry downed the Blood-replenishing potion. If he knew the Dursleys – and indeed he did – he would need the extra blood in his system.

xXx

A month into the summer vacation, he lay on the moth-eaten, spider-ridden, threadbare mattress in his cupboard. He was fifteen, and his birthday was in minutes, but there was still plenty of room in the tiny compartment. He stretched his legs stiffly testing to make sure they weren't broken anywhere. Following that, he checked his arms, then his fingers. They all worked. But the pain was still there.

Just moments ago, his fat whale of an uncle had dumped him in here, wanting to rid himself of the sight of the broken boy he had just beaten bloody.

Moving his arm as little as he could, Harry drew a finger in a practiced move in the darkness in the dust that covered the wall in a thin blanket. He'd done this every year after all. The circle. The little lines; sixteen, this time. He started at the sound of a mechanical beeping, then, as he recognized the sound, he moved to press the little button on the side of his digital watch that would turn the beeping off. His voice was raspy as he whispered.

"Happy Birthday, Harry." He blew out his imaginary candles.

I wish…