...Just to clarify, I don't own Harry Potter. I don't make profit from this story. I'm simply playing with it all.

Chapter 1

Little Whinging, Surrey England

Harry Potter, the boy-who-lived, saviour of the wizarding world, the Chosen One, et ctera; was currently sprawled out on his stomach and trying to keep from crying out in pain. He was proud that he neither made a sound nor flinched as his uncle's belt hit against his back, layering the other wounds he'd received upon coming "home" for the holiday. I've only got back this morning. Shit, Breathe Harry, work through it, Harry thought as he felt the belt again; his skin broke for the third time and he felt the hot crimson sap ooze out and soak his ratty shirt. Stupid Order, why'd they have to open their big—Ahhh, mouths about Sirius. It was a bitter thought, but then, Harry was a bitter man. He'd been stripped of his childhood the moment he'd learned to walk. The belt sliced through the air again and the buckle hit an already open wound. Harry gritted his teeth and tasted blood when he bit his tongue to keep quiet. He'd learned by the age of five that it got worse if he responded to the pain.

Bastards, the lot of them. I'm supposed to save them all? Why? I know nothing of their world except they're narrow minded. Lazy. Cowardly. Blows from the belt punctuated the thoughts and Harry squeezed his eyes shut, allowing bitter, dark and angry emotions fill his mind to help him survive the brutal beating. His uncle gave one last blow before stepping back whilst panting.

"Freak, you're nothing but an oddity. Even your kind thinks so. They don't want much to do with you, not after what happened to your murdering godfather," Vernon said with a smug gleam in his watery eyes. "Heh. Died, just like your good for nothing parents. Now get out of my sight, you filthy freak."

Harry struggled to get up from the kitchen floor, much to his uncle's amusement. Aunt Petunia was in the sitting room watching telly. After all, she wasn't obligated to do anything if she didn't know about it. Harry finally managed to stumble out of the kitchen but as he passed the cupboard under the stairs a pudgy hand fisted his hair and yanked him back.

"Oh no, you're just a waste of space, Freak," said a giggling Dudley; who'd just appeared out of the sitting room. "Back to the cupboard for you and I get my room back. Don't worry about your bird, my friends and I'll take good care of her for you."

Harry's eyes widened in fear for his Hedwig. She was his first friend, his only family now that Sirius was gone. He hoped she would escape, and then he was shoved into the cramped darkness where his trunk normally resided, but they'd taken that from him. Harry knew he'd never see it again as the locks clicked into place. Harry lay on his stomach on his old bed; he hadn't grown that much since he'd left so his feet didn't quite hang over the edge. He heard the scurry of the spiders, the first amiable company he'd ever had. When they didn't bite. The pain in his back was turning to agony and so, with the ease of one much practiced, Harry summoned magic from his core and fell into a light healing sleep.

"Hermione, are you sure Harry won't suspect anything?" Ginny whispered as she, Hermione and Ron huddled around Ron's bed in the Hospital wing. Madame Pomfrey had long ago fallen asleep. Harry didn't stir or make a noise as he heard his friends talk. They'd assumed he'd fallen asleep, like he could sleep without the help of a potion; didn't they realise he had insomnia?

"Of course, Dumbledore's plan for Harry is fool proof. Besides Professor Snape is right, Harry is dangerous. Just look at what happened to Padfoot, and Cedric. It's Harry's fault they're dead. He needs to be curbed, we could be next," Hermione stated. She was using her the-professors-know-best-so-obey tone. Harry didn't understand why she trusted every authority figure, but then again, she'd never been betrayed by one of them before. Not the way Harry had. He felt the familiar pain of betrayal at her words-Dumbledore really was plotting behind his back. So were his friends.

Ron snorted quietly.

"Can't believe that the day has come where I agree with the Dungeon Bat. Not to mention Dumbledore said there was something screwy with Harry's scar- that he and You-Know-who are linked and the only way to vanquish the Dark Lord is that Harry has to die too… Sorry Gin, I don't think you'll be Mrs Potter," he said.

"Don't be foolish Ron, of course I'll be, he has a plan for that too. 'Can't let the Potter line die off, and I can't think of a better candidate for Mrs Potter than you, miss Weasely.' That's what he said. So I'll be Mrs Potter," Ginny said with a happy sigh.

"Right, so long as we all continue to do as we've been doing for the last five years. Now, we need to get to bed, it's late," sniffed Hermione in a tone that meant business. There was shifting of bed sheets as they all settled into their beds. Soon they fell asleep but Harry stayed awake through out the night. After all, how could he sleep when his heart was busy being torn apart by plots and betrayal.

Harry awoke from his memory by the familiar rapping of Aunt Petunia. He winced as he got up, the sleep hadn't really healed his back, but it prevented infection and allowed scabs to form and swelling to dissipate. The pain Harry felt now was bearable and so long as he didn't do anything to merit punishment he'd be all right. He left the confines of his cupboard and took his list of chores from the kitchen table. Harry wasn't bothered by the fact it was dawn; since before he could remember he and his aunt were up at dawn to start their days. He looked over the list and began his day of servitude with a blank look and an empty mind. This was his life at the Dursley's and this routine was burned into his bones. Servitude and slavery, Harry thought bitterly as his set about making breakfast for his relatives. That's all my life has ever been. All I'm good for… No one will ever value me beyond an asset, a tool. Harry sighed. Then froze as a thing with feathers fluttered into the back of his mind. He could see it in his mindscape, a place in his skull he'd created for himself as a child as a sanctuary. He recognised the odd feathered creature from his childhood when he'd spent hours in his mindscape.

The thing with feathers cocked its head and blinked at him with big turquoise eyes. His first companion, the first one to be on his side.

Long time no see, Harry. It said in his head. Harry swallowed.

Doc, is that you?


Why have you come back, you said—

Well, you needed me again… And they say hope is a thing with feathers.

Harry couldn't help it. For the first time since April he laughed.