The Sugar Quill
Author: Ellyse (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Left Alone  Chapter: default
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Left Alone

Left Alone

 

Author’s note ~

This all belongs to JK Rowling, the queen of the Potterverse. Thank you to Zsenya for beta reading this and coming up with brilliant suggestions. It is a largely experimental piece in which I have tried to combine Harry’s thoughts and actions. Enjoy!

 

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Harry carefully placed his suitcase on the floor. He heard the door shut behind him with an impatient snap, as if his return had disturbed its peaceful slumber. Carefully he placed Hedwig on top of his chest of drawers and she hooted sleepily, ruffling her feathers in an attempt to get comfortable. Propping his Firebolt up against the wall by the window, he sank onto his bed, suddenly weary in the repressive silence.

 

…I can’t believe I’m back here. It hasn’t changed. Same old musty smell, same old peeling wall paper. But it has changed. It’s different. Everything is. There are some things I don’t understand. Or I don’t want to understand. Things about the past, things about evil, things about life. My life, and…

 

The bed felt hard beneath him. His fingers caught the scratchy blankets, full of holes and the dust of several rooms, very different to his beloved four-poster. Kicking off his trainers he wiggled his toes, then spread them along the uneven wooden floor, familiarising them once more with the irregular feel of the room. It was beginning to grow dark. Instead of an impressive sunset, the sky was turning a dull grey. The moon was already out, pale at the moment, but ready to seize the light from its backdrop, ready to blaze brighter than anything surrounding it. Harry tugged a faded curtain across the window slightly, obscuring its deceptively pallid face from his vision. He and the head of the bed were now cloaked in darkness, the shy light only daring to touch the tips of his mismatching socks.

 

There were no long, stone clad corridors here, and Harry was hot in his jumper. He tugged it over his head and tossed it aside, like a forgotten toy. His hair stood up at peculiar angles, as it often did so easily after a slight disturbance, and he patted it down instinctively, forgetting that there were no teachers here to pick him up on it.

 

the lives of others have all been spun around and around and we’re feeling quite dizzy. But I’m feeling sicker now. I need to get off the roundabout. Roundabout. Round and about last year I had hope. It was so much lighter last year. They’d send me letters and cakes. I thought things were bad. I knew so little. I’m no stranger to ignorance. He has grown up in this world and there is nothing that she won’t find out for herself. Yes, I’m quite used to it…

 

Harry leaned against the wall, his head banging slightly against the plaster as he misjudged the space between him and the knobbly, uneven surface. In an awkward movement, he shuffled further back onto the bed, and sat cross legged, picking at a thread in his socks. One was a stale light green with an unattractive brown pattern printed gallantly and at random. The other was just plain black. A sigh escaped him, sounding very loud in the noiseless room.

 

The ride from King's Cross had been entirely normal by Dursley standards.  Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia had grunted at him by way of a greeting and then pretended he wasn’t there for the rest of the journey. Uncle Vernon had talked loudly about the car he was hoping to get from his company, while Aunt Petunia had twittered with encouragement. Dudley had chosen to stay at home, playing on his new computer game, awaiting Harry’s return with both a nervous concern for his tongue and a malicious sense of spite that had been simmering at Smeltings.

 

Harry leaned forwards awkwardly, dragging the suitcase with him as he sat back up. He tugged it onto his bed and clicked open the catch. Inside were his hastily packed belongings. Spell books, Quidditch books, parchment, quills, sweets, clothes, Quidditch robes. He ran his fingers over the top items absently, feeling the sharp corners of his Herbology book. Its surface was covered in cracked dried mud; evidently from when Neville had borrowed it and dropped it on Professor Sprout’s flourishing Sinking Lily a few days before. Harry picked a bit of the mud off, rubbing his fingers together, staring at the little bit of Hogwarts he had taken with him, but it crumbled and fell to the grubby floor, irretrievable.

 

…Ignorance. Ignore. I want to ignore everything. I want to hide away and pretend it was all a dream. Car crash. Stonewall. Grey elephant skin uniform. Seems much more appealing now. But I can’t. I couldn’t ever go back. I remember how it felt, how it felt to be me for the very first time. The giant. The cobbled street. The steam engine. The lake and castle framed by mountains. Them. I could never leave them, not now. I‘ve come too far. We’ve come too far. But we’ll continue to be tested. We’ll always be tested. And we’ll not always win. Life’s a game. But they never say which one. Chess? Where sacrifices are fatal. Quidditch? Fast, rewarding, painful. If I don’t know the game, I don’t know the rules. How do I know who’s playing by them? I wish I could be somewhere else…

 

Harry heaved himself from the bed, wiping his dirty fingers on his trousers. He pulled out of his suitcase an armful of robes he hadn’t bothered to fold amidst the excitement of packing. They were now so creased into such sharp angles that they resembled the mountainous horizon of Hogwarts.  He crossed the room to the wardrobe, his feet creaking loudly on the floor. He ran his hand along the surface of the wood, and then winced at the groaning sound the wardrobe door made as it opened. It swung away easily and too far, the mirror inside reflecting the recently lit streetlights. Harry was temporarily blinded, and threw an arm in front of his eyes, struggling to pull the door back with the other while still holding his Hogwarts robes. When he was cast in shadow once more, he tipped his clothes into the black depths of his wardrobe and surveyed his reflection.

 

The mirror was covered in dust that clouded the boy behind the glass. Harry took a sleeve of the robes he had just deposited in the wardrobe and wiped it across the smooth surface, sending grime skipping through the air, and clearing rainbow like arcs across his reflection.

 

A boy approaching his fifteenth birthday blinked back at him, his mother’s eyes shining brightly through his glasses. He was still skinny and short, although perhaps a little taller, and a little less scrawny than when he had last gazed into this looking glass. His hair still stuck out at odd angles, as black as charcoal and not quite revealing the lightning bolt scar that divided his forehead. But something was different. He looked older, sadder. The boy beyond the glass seemed to be struggling with all the worries in the world on his shoulders. Harry reached out with to touch the pale fingers of the figure in the mirror, but met only cold glass. Trying to distract himself, he struggled to adjust the collar of his shirt. As he lifted it to fold it back again, he found a long line of ink spots. Puzzled, he wondered where they had come from, but then remembered he had caught the full blow of Ron’s quill attack on Hermione that Monday. In vain, he attempted to rub them off with his fingers checking the rest of his shirt to see how serious the damage was.

 

… I wish I could be with them. It’s so quiet here. There’s never been bickering here, or friendship. I’m back to not knowing. I don’t understand them anymore. I thought I did. They were constant and they were real. But they’re changing. We’re changing. There’s something there that I could never be a part of. Something frightening and something brilliant that is only for them together. Unexpected maybe, but painful and strong as well. I wish I had strength…

 

Harry closed the wardrobe door. Then he changed his mind and opened it again, picking up the clothes he had just put away, and packing them carefully back into his suitcase. He patted them down absently. He would live out of his suitcase for as long as he remained at Privet Drive; he had to be ready to leave this room at a moment’s notice.

 

He walked over to the window, poking a hand through Hedwig’s cage and stroking her feathery head as he passed. She cooed in her sleep and clicked her beak in an affectionate sort of way. He pulled back the curtain he had drawn earlier and looked out of the window. The neat gardens of Privet Drive had not changed. Even the flowers were the same, thriving in the hot summer weather, just as they had when he had left them. But they were more difficult to see now, as night had descended on the sky, her cloak of shadows engulfing her own stars. Only the moon shone bright now, but it was dwarfed by the buzzing street lamps that made the shadows long and the puddles from the summer shower an artificial yellow in colour.

 

A cat slunk across the scene, its stomach close the wet pavement. Harry leaned forward, interested in the sudden movement amongst the stillness. The cat sprang onto a wall and Harry saw that it was smoky grey in colour. It yowled at the moon, hissing as it clawed its way boldly up the opposite house’s prized climbing plants.

 

… I wish I didn’t have to pretend to be strong and brave. I wish it came naturally. He’s so brave, going into the chamber, facing a dragon. But I had to do them didn’t I? I had to. It wasn’t bravery, it was duty. But maybe they are one and the same. I thought I could die in the chamber, and in front of the dragon and… many times. But I never felt like this. Numb. It’s shock, they say. It’s trauma. Harry’s been through a lot. Let him rest, they tell each other. Leave him be. Leave him be what? Behind? Are you going to go on without me? That’s what he did, in the graveyard that night. He went on without me. He had gone from himself. I know. I saw his eyes. He had gone somewhere else. We said we’d finish together. But he ran on ahead. What if everyone is faster than me…?

 

“Boy!”

 

Harry’s heart thudded in his chest, startled by the noise.

 

“Boy, downstairs, now!”

 

Harry pulled at the curtains once more, overwhelming the room in almost total darkness. Hedwig made a noise of gratitude in her sleep and Harry nudged an Owl Treat from a packet that Ron had given him on the train through the bars. He walked to the door and opened it a crack, about to reply before the full force of Uncle Vernon’s voice hit him.

 

“Boy if you don’t come down this instant there will be serious trouble!”

 

“I need you to lay the table and cut the bread!” Aunt Petunia squawked. “So hurry up!”

 

“I’m coming!” Harry called angrily, his voice echoing around his bare room. He pulled the door open, but turned back and closed his suitcase, not wanting his Hogwarts life to be in full view of Aunt Petunia if she came up to tidy.

 

…They are calling for me. They have changed too. They used to be irritating, exaggerated, a joke that had gone too far. It’s not funny anymore.  I don’t want to go down to them. I want to stay here. But how is that possible? It makes me sick being here. Why am I always left alone? Why, whatever I do, wherever I go, do I always end up back here? Back in this room, alone…

 

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