AN:/ Okay so this is actually a reposting of the first chapter of this story because my God my writing abilities in 2011 were atrocious (not that they're amazing now). That being said, I won't drag on here, except to say if you've read the story before I encourage you to re-read the reposted chapter and I'd love any feedback on it you have. Now, on with the story.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or anything associated with it.
"Freak! Get up you worthless fucking piece of shit!" Vernon Dursley roared early one July morning, as he did almost every day.
"Yes Uncle Vernon." Harry mumbled. He was once more being subjected to another terrible summer with the Dursleys.
A voice in his head hissed, 'Ungrateful. They're just giving you what you deserve.'
As he walked into the kitchen he could see his uncle's fat, purple, puffed-up face, as well as his horse-faced aunt's nagging face and his fat, clueless cousin's demanding, whining face. It was going to be a long day.
By the end of the day Harry was exhausted. He'd had to cook for not only the Dursleys but also the guests they'd had for the evening. Guests of course meant he had more chores then normal too; he had to mow the lawn with the old, push mower, clean the house from top to bottom, weed the garden; the list went on.
Every time he'd made a mistake one of the Dursleys would hit him.
Harry remembered all the years before Hogwarts—they were rather hard to forget— when the Dursleys had broken almost every bone he had, when they had beaten him until he was bleeding all over. His cupboard was still stained with blood. Profanities were inscribed on the walls with his blood curtesy of Dudley.
Shackles hung from the ceiling of the cupboard where they had hung him; punishment for disobedience and freakish behaviour. He would hang from the ceiling by his wrists, unable to rest his knees on the ground all night, arms growing heavy and painful with strain. He would be gaged to silence his screams into the darkness of the cupboard that surrounded him.
Harry had been gifted nothing but beatings and torment for the first eleven years of his life. He was certain this summer would just be another to add to the list.
Having learned at an early age that he was worthless, Harry would intentionally perform badly in school just to evade beatings. After all being better than "Duddikins" meant a definite beating— and Dudley was really stupid.
(Time Skip: September)
Finally it was time to go back to Hogwarts and Harry had never been so excited. Not only was it his second year, but he hadn't gotten to see Ron or Hermione all summer—Harry was barely containing the ecstasy he felt at getting to see them again.
His back was killing him though... and Wood would be annoyed that he hadn't practised all summer. It wasn't his fault though! He hoped no one would notice the circles under his eyes, or the weight he'd lost, or that he had a slight limp on his left side. Dudley had taken great pleasure snapping his left calf bone with his foot. Harry had made his own make-shift cast for it out of the meager clothing scraps in his room.
Eventually he found the car with Ron and Hermione in it, "Hey guys." he said.
"Harry!" Hermione exclaimed, jumping up and throwing her arms around him in a bone crushing hug. Harry barely stopped himself from wincing in pain.
"Hey guys." he said, forcing a grin.
"Harry, mate! How was your summer?" Ron asked.
"Not too bad...how was yours?" Harry lied easily.
"Awesome Fred and George were bloody brilliant with their beating!" Ron exclaimed, excitedly. Hermione rolled her eyes and Harry could swear he saw her think 'Boys'.
"I had a great summer too. I got a bunch of reading done!" Hermione said, ignoring the Quidditch that had been being discussed. They continued in a similar manner for the remainder of the train ride and Harry was relieved to be back with his friend, going home for the coming months.
When they arrived at the school Harry could already feel the comfort of the school rushing over him. He breathed in the Hogwarts grounds air, and knew that he was home. Harry could feel someone staring at him during the feast so he allowed his emerald eyes flicker about the Great Hall. He was surprised to find it was Professor McGonagall.
Frowning to himself, Harry wondered why she would be staring at him. It wasn't even the first day of classes yet! He couldn't have done anything to get in trouble yet! A niggling in his mind whispered she could have seen the circles under his eyes when the upper years walked past her on her way to greet the first years. Harry quickly worked to squash down that fear. He was imaging things. No one knew.
Unluckily for Harry, McGonagall did see something strange about him; she just couldn't place what it was. She leaned over to whisper to Severus Snape, "Do you see anything strange about Mr. Potter?" she asked.
"Personally I prefer to ignore Potter and his entourage of hooligans." Snape drawled, disinterested.
"You know what I meant Severus," she snapped. "Something looks off about him…I can't figure out what though."
"Perhaps," He began silkily. "It is just a trick of the light, Minerva. I don't see anything wrong with the brat from here." He replied coolly.
"Perhaps." she responded tartly, annoyed at her colleague.
(Time Skip: December)
It was closing in on Christmas when Dumbledore made the announcement one sullen evening in the Great Hall. The students were to be sent home for Christmas. Harry had felt his heart clench in fear in his chest. He paled drastically as Dumbledore continued.
The Chamber of Secrets had been reopened and a student had been petrified. The staff would investigate over the holidays whilst the students were safely away from Hogwarts. It was Harry's worst nightmare come true in many ways…He'd finally gotten to experience Christmas the year before and now? Now he had to return to the way all his holidays before had been: lonely and torturous.
Harry begged and pleaded with Dumbledore to let him stay but to no avail. Now he boarded the Hogwarts Express alone, the majority of the other students had taken the floo network (which Hermione had been all too pleased to explain to him). Ron and Hermione were no exception, both perfectly content to see their family over the holidays.
The entirety of the trip back to King's Cross Harry was preparing for a truly horrid break. Not Christmas, just a break. The Dursleys had never let him have Christmas before, and he was sure they weren't going to start letting him have one now.
Slowly Harry trudged up the steps to the Dursley home, and resignedly put his belongings in his blood-stained cupboard under the stairs. He regarded his trunk in silence, mourning the premature loss of its contents, only to be called to the kitchen by his uncle.
"Alright you dirty little freak! You are going to do all the cooking and cleaning this Christmas, and I don't want any complaining about it!" Vernon snapped, spittle smattering against Harry's face.
"When we have guests over you will be in your room, completely silent, and pretending not to exist. Do I make myself clear?" Vernon spat, face purpled.
"Yes Uncle Vernon." Harry responded dryly. It was going to be a long holiday.
And so Harry slaved away every day from dawn until late into the night. He managed about 3 hours of sleep on good nights; nights when he wasn't being hung from shackles with lacerations adorning all parts of his body. Anything short of perfection resulted in beatings.
One day presents from the Weasleys and Hermione came via owl, in the Weasleys case and postage in Hermione's case. Before Harry could accept them they were taken. Vernon lit them on fire viciously, grinning evilly at Harry as he did so—Dudley restraining Harry as the smaller of the two fought to be free. The smoke that rose in the fireplace was various shades of indigo and black—magic did not go well with muggle flames.
Harry would receive nothing on Christmas morning that year. He spent Christmas Day locked in the cupboard underneath the stairs, listening to a Christmas that he would never have. It was perhaps the cruelest way to spend the holiday, when he'd only gotten to have the holiday once the year before.
It was in the silence of the night, when the Dursleys were long asleep that Harry would finally allow himself to cry quietly in the cupboard under the stairs. Tears ran freely down his dirtied, pale, swallow cheeks. There was almost no sound though, save the occasional hiccup of breath. Harry had long learned that crying allowed would lead only to more pain; to suffering and unhappiness.
(Time Skip: January)
Finally two weeks later Harry found himself back on the Hogwarts Express. Hermione saw him first and immediately called out to him "Harry!"
Turning Harry barely saw Hermione before she was on him. A bushel of brown hair surrounding him and he braced himself to hold in a flinch as her arms encircled him. Shortly after he heard rather than saw Ron.
"Hey mate, how were your holidays?" Ron asked jovially.
Before Harry could respond Hermione asked "Did you like your gift?" he knew he couldn't lie out of this one. He had no way of knowing what they had gotten him, and he couldn't rightly guess either.
Sighing he said quietly, "I don't know."
"What was that?" Hermione asked.
"I said I don't know!" Harry snapped, louder then he meant to. Thankfully nobody heard him.
"What do you mean you don't know?" Ron asked confused.
"The Dursleys burnt my gifts." Harry said flatly before Ron could lose his temper or call Harry ungrateful.
Hermione and Ron gaped at him, mouths open in silent horror. "WHAT?!" they both simultaneously exploded.
"Just what I said, they burnt the gifts because I don't deserve Christmas." he explained as though they should understand this.
"Harry that-that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard!" Hermione stated. "We've got to tell somebody so you can move and-"
"Hold it right there Hermione! This isn't important enough to bother the professors with, especially with the Chamber of Secrets being reopened." Harry said firmly, bringing the bright young witch up short.
"But Harry-" Hermione began only to be cut off again.
"No buts Hermione. It isn't that important." With that Harry turned away from the duo, and called that he was going to talk to Wood for a while.
"I dunno 'bout you, but I'm pretty sure we oughta tell somebody." Ron said, turning to Hermione who nodded.
"Come on we better go find Professor McGonagall." She said. Ron blinked incredulously.
"McGonagall? No way 'Mione, we should tell Dumbledore!" Ron tried to push. Hermione frowned at him.
"Professor McGonagall is easier to find, Ronald. Plus as our head of house she should know." Hermione said resolutely. As she turned her nose back to her book she missed the dark look that passed through Ron's eyes.
Ron huffed, "But 'Mione there's no reason to involve scary old McGonagall in this! Harry'd rather we talk to Dumbledore I'm sure!"
Looking up from her book in exasperation Hermione snapped, "You don't have to come Ronald! If you don't want to talk to Professor McGonagall I'll go see her myself!" Hermione declared. That said the small girl turned resolutely to her book and blocked Ron out.
The rest of the train ride was passed in relative silence, as Harry did not return until they were almost at Hogwarts, and was quick to start up Quidditch talk with Ron. Clearly he had gone to see Wood and discuss some new ideas.
"Professor!" was the cry that Professor McGonagall was surprised to hear so early into the term. Turning she was even more surprised to see none other than Hermione Granger.
"What is it Miss Granger?" she asked, curious.
"It's about Harry professor, can I talk to you in your office please?" Hermione asked, brown eyes pleading.
Slowly Minerva nodded, wondering what could be wrong with Mr. Potter when they had just returned. A feeling of dread had firmly implanted itself in the pit of her stomach; whatever it was it was not going to be good.
When they finally reached her office, and she had closed the door and taken her seat behind her desk, Minerva addressed Hermione. "Alright Miss Granger, what appears to be the problem with Mr. Potter?"
"Well professor it's not Harry that's the problem you see, it's his aunt and uncle." Hermione explained. The feeling of dread Minerva had increased with those words. She had been afraid that might be the issue, after all, she was all too aware that Vernon and Petunia Dursley were the worst sort of muggles—had said so from the beginning. She silently cursed Albus once more for his continued intervention of her involvement.
"What about them?" McGonagall was careful to keep the curiosity and dread out of her voice.
"They burnt Harry's Christmas presents!" Hermione declared, dismayed. McGonagall was taken aback.
'What sort of sick, twisted, being burns a child's Christmas gifts?!' Minerva wondered, floored by the revelation.
"May I ask why Mr. Potter did not come to see me about this himself?" McGonagall asked apprehensively. She really hoped she hadn't screwed up as royally as she often felt she had the children's first year. She knew she should have listened to their concerns about the stone, but she had been so flustered to find they even knew of it that she had reacted without thinking. She had meant to talk to Potter about that this year but for some reason whenever she started there she seemed to forget what she was doing halfway to finding him.
Hermione's sigh cut through Minerva's musings. "He said that it wasn't important enough to bother you or anyone else with, Professor."
McGonagall, while not surprised, was saddened by Hermione's response. Harry, from what she had seen, continually placed higher value on things that had nothing to do with him.
"I'll speak with him and Professor Dumbledore about it," Minerva said finally. "In the mean-time there is a feast downstairs that we both should be getting to." McGonagall needed time to act, despite her now strong desire to go set fire to a few of the Dursleys.
After a very heated argument with one Albus Dumbledore, it was decided that Minerva could speak with Harry about the fiasco over the holidays. Minerva would never understand why it was so hard for Albus to be reasonable when it came to Harry but she was getting sick of it. Honestly, the child's Christmas presents had been lit on fire, if that wasn't cause for at least investigation she didn't know what was.
It was the next day after having the second year Gryffindors and Slytherins that Minerva found her opportunity. As the students were leaving, McGonagall called out "Potter, stay a moment please."
A rather confused Harry made his was over to McGonagall's desk, "Is something wrong Professor?"
Minerva shook her head. "You are not in trouble if that's what you're asking, Potter. If you would join me in my office for a moment, I do need to speak with you." She idly noted how pale Potter had gotten. She internally winced. Was she that frightening to him?
Harry was more than a little confused as he followed the emerald robed witch to her office. It was weird that he was asked to stay for no apparent reason to begin with, but that she wanted to talk in her office was beyond strange. Had something happened? Dread filled him as he sincerely hoped this wasn't about the chamber. He really didn't have anything to do with it, despite what the rest of his house and the school seemed to think.
When they had reached her office and were both seated Harry allowed his eyes to sweep the room before quietly asking. "What is it Professor?"
McGonagall regarded him with interest from across her desk and noted the presence of dark rings around his eyes. She made a mental note to have one of the prefects make sure the younger years were sleeping alright.
"Harry," he looked up startled by the use of his first name. "I was spoken to by some of your fellow Gryffindors after the holidays ended..."she started. Minerva was surprised to see rapid emotion pass across his face. Most prominently she saw what appeared to be fear and anger. The latter confused her slightly.
'I told them this wasn't important!' Harry internally raged. 'And McGonagall of all people—I thought if anything Ron would've convinced Hermione to go to Hagrid or something... This is bad!' Harry was panicking, he knew he was, but he also didn't know how to stop.
Slowly, carefully, he spoke, carefully avoiding looking into his professor's eyes "What did they tell you about that concerns me, Professor?" He asked, making sure to sound genuinely confused.
"It's about your holiday, or rather how you spent it." Harry's already obvious apprehension grew.
"It was Ron and Hermione wasn't it..." he said quietly.
McGonagall surprised him slightly when she said, "Not quite, Miss Granger was quite concerned about your holiday...or lack thereof." Harry was quiet as he digested that only Hermione had gone behind his back to talk to McGonagall.
"Um...Professor I really should be going I'll be late for potions, and Professor Snape will be angry... and...and..." Minerva was no fool. Harry was terrified that she had found out.
"Harry, I'm not angry with you for not telling me," she began slowly. "Rather, I'm confused as to why you didn't. And frankly worried that you might have felt you couldn't." There. She had said it despite being afraid herself to know the answer.
Harry looked at his professor in startled amazement. 'She's not angry with me?!' he thought, stunned.
After a few minutes of silence, Minerva asked wryly, "Are you going to tell me what happened, Mr. Potter?" she noted his wince when she returned to a more formal name and decided to call him Harry whenever possible.
Harry was decidedly unsure whether or not he should. "...it was the same as any other holiday I've ever had." He finally settled on, hoping beyond hope that no details had been given. Unfortunately for Harry that wasn't the case.
There was silence for a moment before McGonagall speaks again. Her voice is soft now, weary and a bit desperate he notices as she asks "…Why didn't you say anything last year?" Harry is confused by the question. Why would he say anything? Saying things to teachers has never done anything but gotten him more beatings.
Minerva takes his silence as confirmation of her fears. He doesn't trust her. He doesn't trust any of them. Why should he come to them when the one time he did they turned him away. She again thinks of the bright green eyes that stared up at her from the body of a young child, a high pitched voice warning her of an attempt to steal the philosopher's stone. And she again remembers callously turning the boy away.
It was in that moment that Minerva began to fully realize the dreadful mistake that had been made those many years ago on Halloween. 'Oh Albus,' she thought sadly. 'Why didn't I fight you harder on where to leave Harry? What have we done?!'
AN:/ So hopefully that wasn't the most awful thing you've ever read, actually hopefully you still want to push the next chapter button. My only warnings for this story at this point is that it is going to feel long in that, not so much initially but there will come a point where it will take a whole lot of chapters and only a few days will pass. Why? Because when emotionally trying stuff happens it has been my experience that it does feel like it goes on forever even though only a few days have passed.
Next Time: Well there's a whole story ahead, but in the immediate future, Harry and McGonagall are still in her office—now what? What will McGonagall do with the knowledge that one of her students has been suffering without her knowledge? What can she do with that knowledge without Dumbledore trouncing in like an annoying goat?