The Phoenix Follies
Published on / 32 Chapter(s) / 0 Review(s)
Harry has reached his end. Fleeing his life, he comes face to face with the Dark Lord and wins. However, in victory, he loses a part of himself. (Includes the 8 completed chapters of the aborted sequel.) Written in 2004.
Chapter 1, Happy Birthday
Harry Potter lay silently upon the sheets, his back burning and body heavy with fatigue. The sun would soon be rising, and he would rise with it, but for now he rested. He couldn't sleep; it hurt too much for that. He merely laid and tried not to think of the vague pains. If he stayed still, they hurt much less. He had learned that over the summer. His face had stopped burning from the black eye he sported and he was relieved that it hadn't swollen shut. The marks would have been gone within two weeks, had he enough nutrients in his body.
During the school year, Vernon lost his job. When he got back 'home,' the man had someone to punish for it. Vernon wouldn't touch Petunia or Dudley. He would yell and scream at them, but never did he raise a hand to the two. No, it was Harry that his uncle hurt more then mentally. However, it didn't hurt quite as much anymore. It was as if he was sitting back, watching it happen to someone else and then licking the wounds later. He wasn't sure why, but that was a comfort to him.
It wasn't bad until last week. That one night had been hell on earth.
He hadn't grown in the last year, his height ended at a sad 5'7". His body was lanky and thin, limbs bony from malnutrition. Ebony strands of hair fell haphazardly to his shoulders, thick locks falling over his face. The sheer length of it made his hair fall more smoothly. His skin was a pale kind of tan, the sun trying its best to color it but illness dimming the gold. Even his green eyes were dulled, often fogged with pain. He was a sorry sight, swimming in his too big cloths.
The sky outside was getting light. He pulled his sore body up and changed his clothing, having 'slept' in them that night. Peeling the bloody shirt off was the most painful. He was careful to move his body as little as possible as he pulled on the huge t-shirt and ripped jeans. Then he ran his fingers through his hair before walking down the stairs to start his morning routine. The house was quiet and he skipped the squeaky step to keep it that way. Dawn was his haven, a time for being alone. Midnight was that way also, but dawn…. Dawn was his time.
Grabbing a sponge and some cleaning solution, he started with the kitchen in his chores. The floors got a good scrubbing and the table was washed before he started breakfast. However, he wasn't even thinking of that. His movements were mechanical, memorized. His mind was a long way away. Hogwarts. It would all be better at Hogwarts. Only a few weeks more. Summer was almost over and he thanked every deity he could think of.
Biscuits were soon in the oven as he pulled out bacon from the fridge. Toast was started and eggs cracked into a cup. The Dursleys woke for breakfast, getting to the kitchen just as he finished most of it. The table was already set for the morning occasion and he was setting the bacon and toast on the table when Petunia walked in. She gave her normal snit at the food but took her seat and politely waited for her husband and son. The two behemoths were soon at the table and the meal began.
It was strange. They hated him so much, yet trusted him not to poison their food. Ironic.
He was gone before the first morsel was consumed. There was yard work to get to while the Dursleys were readying for the day. Vernon would be out until that evening, looking for work. Dudley had failed three classes last year and was forced to take summer school if he didn't wish to do the year over. Petunia, wanting to keep her time alone with Harry to a minimum, spent most of her day out of the house with lady friends to gossip about the neighbors.
Harry busied himself weeding and watering the flowers while they ate and didn't start mowing until Vernon had piled into the car with Dudley, given him a strict warning, and then driven off. Later, he went inside to start on the house. There were windows to wash, rooms to pick up, and furniture to dust. The house work would take him most of the day with a short break for what little food he could manage to steal from the refrigerator. Petunia kept a strict inventory now that they had less money. Every evening after dinner, she weighed the butter, counted the grapes, measured the milk's volume, and so on. It was amazing if she didn't notice the loss of a tiny sliver of cheese. And, of course, each discrepancy was blamed on Harry, whether it was actually him or not.
Every mornings, at promptly eleven, an owl arrived at Harry's window with a copy of the Daily Prophet. He had a paid subscription for the year, but was thinking of canceling it. After all, who wanted to read about death counts, torturing, and burning homes? Each day brought more of the depressing news. Still, Harry diligently read the new numbers and wrote them down in a diary Hermione had sent for his birthday. In it, he kept a detailed record of how many people died or suffered because he wasn't strong enough to defeat the Dark Lord. They were organized by cause of death or suffrage, such as rape, curses, Unforgivables, and so on, including one section for unspecified. A special place was set aside in the back for people he knew personally. There were eight names there.
Harry aptly named it the Death Journal.
Between his chores, the Journal, and daily beatings by Vernon, Harry had little to lighten his day except one very strong thing: In a few weeks, he would be at Hogwarts. He could stand the abuse and the lack of contact with the Wizarding World, if only he knew he would be at Hogwarts soon.
Harry was thirsting for a link to the only people who cared at all for him. Not those who knew him only as The-Boy-Who-Lived, but those who actually knew him. Those who knew his favorite color, his worst school subject, his deepest secrets and desires… These were the ones he wanted so desperately to reconnect with.
The eight names in the Death Journal were among those few. Eight extraordinary people who looked past the scar and name and saw the boy within, faults and all. He loved them dearly. At night, sometimes he would dream of them, seeing them before their last moments or simply in everyday life, as he knew them. Those eight wonderful martyrs.
James and Lily Potter.
Charley and Bill Weasley.
He had received six letters since the beginning of summer. Two of these were on his birthday from the Order and from Hermione and Ron. The other four were of terrible happenings: the capture and torture of one friend and the deaths of three more.
The sun was low in the sky when Harry stumbled up the stairs. He was at his door just as Petunia strolled back inside, muttering to herself about one of the batty neighbors. He ignored her completely and went into his room, shutting the door quietly. It was time for his nightly ritual.
Lifting the loose floorboard, he retrieved the Journal and the day's paper along with a pen. His quills and ink were better used for school work. His little bit of free time was spent carefully jotting down the new numbers and adding them to his old totals. He recorded the newly lost towns and famous homes. New atrocities. New horrors. The Journal was finished for another day before Vernon arrived home with Dudley. Harry scrambled to get his things hidden, the paper going to join many others within his closet.
Setting his ear against the door, he listened carefully to the mutterings of those downstairs. The anger in Vernon's voice made him close his eyes and push away from it. Vernon hadn't gotten a job yet. Harry sat down on his bed to mentally prepare himself for the beating he would surely receive. Vernon would wait until after dinner, then drink himself into an angry stupor before storming up the stairs to deliver Harry's punishment for being alive.
Petunia called from the kitchen and Harry left his room to eat. It was the only meal he shared with the family, the only one they had authorized him. It was a quiet affair now. There was so very little they could talk about without inciting Vernon's rage. Once they were finished, the Dursleys went into the living room for 'family time' while he stayed to wash the dishes. Harry fled to his room once the chore was done.
It was very quiet, his room. He stood at the closed door, eyes taking in the dark space. They paused over the birdcage. Hedwig stared back, uttering a soft hoot of greeting. Harry opened the cage and pulled out a few chunks of meat taken from the meal. She ate them gratefully before taking flight for a few laps. Harry considered opening the window and setting her free, but he knew that would only make Vernon beat him more severely.
Every three days, Harry was forced to write a letter to the order, telling them he was all right. Vernon looked over these letters to make sure they gave no warnings to the outside world of Harry's treatment. Today was the third day.
As expected, Vernon stumbled up to his room. The smell of liquor was strong and burned Harry's nose. His uncle was quite drunk. Still, he was coherent enough to make Harry write his letter and to proof it before letting him send Hedwig away. The beating began as the owl disappeared from sight, right after the window was closed. Harry took it with only a few sounds, body curled as kicks and insults rained down on him. It felt like days before the pain was ended and Vernon left, locking the door behind him. Two emerald eyes opened and stared out, centering on the bright red letters of his little used alarm clock. Silvery drops of liquid trailed down his bruised and bleeding face as his mouth turned with a bitter smile.
"Happy birthday to me."
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