Stuck in a Moment
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry. If I did, I'd give him a hug...he needs one. I also don't own the title. I borrowed it from U2. I hope they don't mind...
Harry Potter sat in his room at number 4, Privet Drive, desolate and despondent. As usual, the Dursleys had been doing their best to pretend Harry didn't exist, and Harry had played his part by trying to become as invisible as possible without using magic. He skipped most of the family meals, preferring instead to forage for leftovers when there was little chance he'd have to interact with any of his relatives--usually when they were out of the house or asleep. This behaviour wasn't exactly approved of by his aunt or uncle, who were just as rude, unsympathetic, and normal as usual. However, the Dursleys had taken the barely veiled threat made by the small army of full-grown wizards who had met Harry at the train station at the end of term very seriously, though with much indignation, and therefore allowed Harry to carry on mostly as he wished as long as he stayed away from them.
And even though Harry was very grateful that there were people who cared about his well being, and had taken much comfort in their resentment of his guardians on his behalf that day, he found little comfort in their reassurances when he was alone in a world where he didn't belong. Especially when he had nothing better to do than watch the sunlight stream through the window, taunting him with its bright, cheerful light that seemed to make everything in the room glow from within. Harry absently traced the line that a wayward sun beam made across the leg of his jeans and marvelled that it made the part of denim that it touched somehow look older and more faded. While the rest of the room teased him with the promise of happiness, this small thread of light seemed to reflect exactly how he was feeling: lonely and lost, as though he were only a shadow of his former self. It had been hard enough for him to grow up without parents, but he hadn't known them, not really, and even then he felt he had no family, no home, no station in this world--almost as though he'd been misplaced.
Of course, he didn't belong; not in this world--the Muggle world. But for all the abuse, neglect and teasing he'd had to endure throughout his childhood, he'd been lucky. All his wildest fantasies had come true, and at the age of eleven a stranger had come to take him away--to take him home to a place where he did belong. A place where there were people who cared for him; who treated him as a friend and an equal. Sure, the wizarding world had been full of it's own problems, not the least of which for Harry had been discovering he was not only famous, but marked by the most evil wizard as his sworn nemesis. But still, in that world he'd found a home, and with that, a purpose. He'd even found someone he'd been able to look up to as a father-figure. Someone he could turn to for advice and guidance. Someone he thought would always have the right answers to his problems. But the feelings of security that had come with having someone always there for him were gone now, only to be replaced with feelings of sadness and loss, the intensity of which could only have come from having that person suddenly snatched away before you'd really even gotten a chance to know him well.
Especially when it was your own fault he died.
Of course, some part of Harry knew it wasn't really his fault, but he blamed himself nonetheless. Every day, he'd go over the events of that fateful day in his head, and think of all the things he could have done differently that might have saved his godfather's life. And every night he was haunted by the look on Sirius's face as he fell through the veil. And so, Harry would get angry at himself all over again. Then he'd remember the conversation he'd had with Dumbledore the next morning, and be filled with new fury towards his headmaster for keeping secrets from him.
It was everyone's and no one's that fault he'd never see his godfather again. But wherever he had decided to place blame on a given day, Harry was sure of one thing: the wizarding world would never be the same for him. He'd never look at it with the wide-eyed innocence that he did when he'd first found out it existed. He'd never marvel at the unusual books and strange-looking creatures. He'd never gaze in wonderment at heads talking in the fires, or people disappearing right in front of his eyes.
And he'd never feel at home there again.
Harry sighed and moved away from the bed and sat down at his desk. He picked up the Daily Prophet that Hedwig had delivered earlier that morning. He scanned over the articles offering useless, and sometimes even outrageous, advice on fighting dark wizards. Did people really think that the levitating charm would offer any protection against Death Eaters, even if it was executed with the perfect swish-and-flick motion?
"Stupid bloody rubbish!" Harry muttered tossing the paper to the side and instead turning his attention to the many letters he'd received this summer. Everyone from Tonks to Mr Weasley to Dumbledore seemed to be worried for his well being, and they had apparently decided that owling him daily was the best way of determining if he was all right. Harry answered their letters politely with as much reassurance as he could muster that he was, in fact, okay, but he knew no one believed him...not even himself.
Ron and Hermione had taken a different tack with their letters, instead giving him detailed accounts of their comings and goings. It was like some kind of odd torture, having to read of all the fun they were having. Hermione had just joined Ron at the Burrow for the last month of summer. They wrote about swimming in the small pond, and practicing Quidditch. Harry was even jealous of the detailed accounts of degnoming the garden. He knew that with war looming on the horizon for everyone, things weren't really as carefree and fun as they'd described, but his best friends were really very cautious of mentioning anything that might remind Harry of his godfather, and thus, remind him of his grief. This tactic was useless though, since he didn't need to be reminded of Sirius--he simply thought about him all the time anyway.
As Harry read his latest letter from Ron describing Fred and George's latest product (butterbeer laced with laughing gas), he was struck with how much every day at number 4, Privet Drive was the same as the last. For some reason this thought made him tired and he returned to his bed, and turned away from the window. Harry was unable to sleep well anymore, and would often lie awake all night watching the shadows the moonlight made on the ceiling. He found pale sadness of the moonlight much more bearable than cheery sunlight, and often slept during the day to escape its vivid optimism.
He awoke a few hours later in a moment of blind panic. Something was on his head pecking at his ears. Harry reached a hand to his ear and turned over, realizing it was only Hedwig, as he saw her now sitting on his stomach giving him a look that said, "Stop feeling sorry for yourself!" She held out her leg and Harry removed the letter that had been tied there. He got up and wearily moved to the desk, then jumped out of his chair a moment later. He was going to the Burrow, and he only had an hour to pack and make his way to Mrs Figg's house to meet Mr Weasley and Mad Eye Moody.
As he packed his things away in his trunk, he was surprised at how excited he felt. He had always looked forward to the exact moment he said goodbye to his relatives. Should be fun, he thought as he took one last look under his bed for wayward quills and socks. Once he was satisfied he'd not forgotten anything, he heaved his trunk down the steps, towards the front door, hoping he wouldn't meet his uncle before he got out of the house. Of course, dragging a heavy trunk down a flight of steps was noisy work, and when he reached the bottom, he saw Uncle Vernon coming out of the kitchen towards him, his face an ugly but familiar shade of purple.
"What do you think you're doing, boy?" Uncle Vernon yelled.
"Er...leaving," Harry responded coolly and moved to open the door, but before he could get out, his uncle slammed it shut with the palm of his hand.
"You're not going anywhere with that...that trunk and that owl cage! What will the neighbours think if they see you dragging it through the garden!"
"I really don't know, but I'm sure you'll think of something to tell them. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go," Harry said, trying to ignore the feelings of anger and resentment bubbling in his chest at his uncle's behaviour.
"YOU'RE NOT TAKING THAT WITH YOU! I WILL NOT HAVE THE NEIGHBOURS KNOWING OF YOUR...YOUR...ABNORMALITY!" Uncle Vernon roared, motioning towards Harry's things with one of his large hands.
"All right," said Harry with a slightly mocking tone in his voice. "I'll just go over to Mrs Figg's and get Mad Eye Moody, shall I? You remember Mad Eye, right? You met him at the train station? He can shrink my trunk so that none of the neighbours will see it."
Uncle Vernon had gone white as a sheet. "I'm sure Professor Moody would love to see you again, anyway," Harry added for effect as Aunt Petunia made her way into the hallway.
She looked from her pale husband to her smirking nephew and back again. "Just let him go, Vernon," she said calmly, placing her bony hand on her husband's large arm and he reluctantly removed his hand away from the door, and stepped aside to allow Harry to pass.
"See you next year!" Harry called with hollow cheerfulness as he passed, and he heard his uncle swear under his breath.
When Harry got to the footpath, he was relieved to see Mr Weasley waiting for him. Harry quickly explained the delay as Mr Weasley discreetly took out his wand and lightened his trunk. "Not a bad idea you had there, Harry. Let's hurry, Molly will be waiting."
"Er...thanks for coming for me," Harry said as the turned the corner and made towards Mrs Figg's. "I was beginning to think I'd go mad if I stayed here a second longer."
"Not a problem, Harry. We thought it was time you had a proper birthday," said Mr Weasley.
"Oh...it's my birthday...I'd forgotten," Harry muttered, and upon noticing Mr Weasley's frown, looked down at his feet.
"Here we are," said Mr Weasley a moment later when they'd come to Mrs Figg's wrought iron gate. He held it open for Harry then stepped through himself, carefully locking it behind him.
"Okay there, Harry?" Mad Eye Moody greeted him as he entered the living room. Harry nodded and noted the house still smelled like cabbage as it had when he was younger. "We'll be travelling by Floo," Moody growled, pointing at the fireplace and throwing in and handful of powder. "Be careful Harry," he said sternly as Harry stepped in. "The Burrow, remember." Moody didn't exactly look like he trusted Harry, and he briefly wondered if Moody had heard how he'd landed in the wrong place on his first attempt at Flooing.
Harry nodded at Moody and yelled as clearly as possible, "The Burrow!" He held tightly onto his trunk and almost immediately the spinning started. Harry closed his eyes and didn't open them until he tumbled out of the fireplace and almost fell on top of Ginny. Luckily, she'd stepped to the side just in time to avoid a collision.
"Sorry," Harry muttered picking himself up from the floor and looking around. All the Weasleys and Hermione were standing in a large half circle, and they yelled "Happy Birthday!" as soon as Harry was standing upright.
"Thanks," he said with an embarrassed smile, while everyone lined up to greet him, and for the second time that day, Harry found himself feeling a bit happier in spite of himself.
Of course, that feeling was fleeting, like it always was, and by the time dinner had been served and the cake brought out, Harry found himself just wishing he were alone in Ron's room. Before he had even opened any presents, he excused himself from the table, saying he was really very tired and just wanted to go to bed.
"Of course, dear. It's been a long day," Mrs Weasley said, though Harry noted that she looked somewhat hurt. He tried to ignore the look that Hermione and Ron exchanged as he muttered his thanks and goodnights, and made his way up the rickety stairs.
Once in Ron's room, he collapsed on the bed, wondering if he'd ever be happy again. He sighed as he kicked off his shoes and crawled under the covers. Before he could really think about going to sleep, however, there was a knock at the door. "Come in," Harry said, wondering why Ron would knock on the door to his own room.
However, it was Ginny who had come through the door and she did not look happy. "What do you think you're doing up here?" she asked bluntly.
"Er...sleeping," he said trying to gauge her mood.
"It's eight o'clock, Harry," she said, as though he were stupid.
"I'm tired!" he said defensively.
"So?" she asked. "Have you any idea how long mum has been planning this? How hard she's worked just so you could have a nice birthday? And you can't even pretend to be enjoying yourself?"
"No, I can't pretend to be enjoying myself!" Harry spat, now becoming angry himself. "Do you have any idea how I feel!"
"No, I don't...no one does because you won't tell any of us!" she practically yelled. "Even Ron says your letters to him are barely two sentences long!"
Harry kicked off his blankets, and sat up facing the window with his back towards Ginny. The sun was just setting fully, and the room was almost dark now. He sighed and put his head in his hands. He felt Ginny sit on the bed next to him; he could feel how close she was, even though she wasn't actually touching him. He wasn't sure whether he should feel guilty for leaving his party early, or angry at Ginny for coming up here to confront him when he obviously wanted to just be alone. He just didn't know how to act anymore, but he felt his entire life was spinning out of control. After a few moments, he looked over at her. "What am I supposed to do?" he asked helplessly.
She looked at him a moment before responding softly, "I don't know Harry, I really don't." Harry looked back down and sighed again. "But I know what you're not supposed to do," she began again, unexpectedly, crossing her leg on the bed in front of her and turning to face him.
"What's that?" he asked quietly, without looking up.
"You're not supposed to give up. Sirius has died, but you haven't!" Her tone was firm, but not unkind. Harry turned to look at her, but couldn't think of anything to say, and looked back down and sighed yet again. "Do you think Sirius would want you to be up here alone while there was a party in your honour downstairs?" Harry still didn't respond...what was he supposed to say, anyway? After a while, he felt her get up to go.
"Come back down to the party," she said as she left the room.
After she was gone, Harry thought seriously about what she'd said. Had he given up? He supposed he had. It was not a good sign, he thought to himself, that he would rather be at the Dursley's right now, than here with all of his friends. Sirius definitely wouldn't want that. But if Harry was honest with himself, he didn't really care. He didn't care what anyone wanted. He just couldn't deal with people laughing and being cheerful as though nothing had happened. Didn't they know what he was feeling? Didn't they care that he was upset? If they did, they sure didn't show it. Who throws you a party when your godfather has just died?
But some part of Harry realized that he was being stupid. They'd thrown this party because they did care for him. He knew they wanted him to be happy, and he was suddenly racked with guilt at leaving when Mrs Weasley had obviously gone through so much trouble. Harry put his shoes back on, and took a deep breath, as though to work up his courage. Sirius was dead, but he wasn't. That's what Ginny had said. And Sirius wouldn't want him to miss out on the first birthday party he'd ever had.
Well, the first one that didn't involve him getting used tissues and old coat hangers as gifts.
He'd have to remember to thank Ginny later.
A/N: Thanks to Kat and Anne. Kat, because she looked over this for me on such short notice, and Anne, because, even though she didn't beta this, she's betaed everything else I've written, and not thanking her feels too odd. Also, thanks go my SQ beta, Mysterious Muggle, who actually did look at this, and made some helpful suggestions.