Invitation to Fear
Harry returned to the Dursley’s just as quietly as he left. He tiptoed upstairs, making sure that he missed the creaky spots again. He figured he had time for a quick shower before he had to make breakfast, and since Aunt Petunia hated sweaty, smelly bodies in her kitchen, he didn’t want to get on her bad side. He stood under the hot water and let it run down his broad back, loosening his tense and tired muscles. It felt good just to stand there and not think. He didn’t stay that was for too long however, because he knew Uncle Vernon would berate him for using all of the hot water. He quickly finished, turning the water off and grabbed a towel to dry himself. He picked up his glasses and put them on as he wiped the mirror with his towel. He stared at the reflection in the mirror and a green-eyed stranger stared back. The eyes were sunken from lack of sleep, and the face was haggard. He hadn’t really looked at himself in a long time.
‘You look like your father, but you have your mother’s eyes…’
He had heard that so often that it was annoying. Now though, he stared at those eyes, not really recognizing them for his own. They had seen too many deaths, mirrored too much pain. Is that what his mother’s eyes looked like before she died? The eyes that looked back at him seemed dull, without any life or answers to his question.
‘You look like your father…’
He looked intently at the dark-haired young man in the mirror, trying to see what everyone else had seen. When had he stopped being a little boy? Tonk’s words came back to him as he looked at his broad chest and washboard stomach.
“You’re fairly handsome,” she had said. Was he? His hair was still as unruly as ever and he shrugged as he thought that it would never be tamed. He noticed that he had a little hair on his chest now, and…
BANG! BANG! BANG!
“Hurry up! I need to get in there!” yelled Dudley, bringing him out of his reverie with a start.
Harry let out a huff of annoyance, hastily threw his pants on and grabbed the rest of his stuff while Dudley continued to bang on the door. He opened the door quickly, almost getting knocked in the face, as Dudley was about to bang on the door again. Dudley shoved him aside and pushed his way into the bathroom. He slammed the door in Harry’s face without saying a word to him. Harry felt his temper starting to rise and he took a moment to push it back down. He sighed and went to his bedroom to find some clean clothes.
Harry headed down stairs to the kitchen and started to pull out the things he needed to make breakfast. He got the eggs and bacon going, and began to set the table while the bread toasted.
Well, he thought grimly, at least one good thing has come out of being a ‘slave’ to the Dursleys; he could look after himself.
He still didn’t know what he wanted to do. Should he get a flat somewhere? He thought about it and realized he didn’t know if he wanted to be alone. He thought about Hogwarts and felt a pang of sadness. It was his real home, not the Dursleys. Even with Dumbledore gone…
He heard the crackle of the bacon and quickly turned back to cooking breakfast. Uncle Vernon would kill him if he burned the first meal of the day.
Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia came down a few minutes later, followed by Dudley. They didn’t even acknowledge him as they sat down in front of the food at the table. Harry didn’t care. He didn’t want to talk to them anyway. He put his food on a plate and turned to put the pans in the sink to soak, while lost in his thoughts about what he wanted to do today. He returned to the table to have his breakfast, and it was gone. He looked over at Dudley as he finished wolfing down the last of Harry’s breakfast. Harry narrowed his eyes and Dudley grinned at him.
One more week… he thought as his anger grew. He took a moment to tamper it back down.
He went back to get the eggs out and make himself some more breakfast when Uncle Vernon looked up.
“What are you doing boy?” he asked.
“Making myself some breakfast,” Harry replied.
“Oh no! You have already cooked today’s allotment of food for breakfast! Do you think I’m made of money?”
“But…” started Harry.
“No buts! You are costing us enough as it is without you cooking more breakfast!”
Harry’s temper became a red-hot flame. The lights in the kitchen began to flicker, and Aunt Petunia looked around wildly, as an earlier scene came to mind. She reached out to Vernon, intent on calming the situation.
“IF YOU WOULD KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR FAT PIG OF A SON, I WOULDN’T HAVE TO COOK MORE FOOD FOR MYSELF!” Harry yelled, his green eyes blazing.
Uncle Vernon began to turn purple and Aunt Petunia gasped and put her hand to her chest. Dudley just grinned at him; he knew Harry had gone too far by insulting their little ‘Dudders’.
“THAT’S QUITE ENOUGH!” roared Uncle Vernon. “YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO INSULT OUR FAMILY AFTER ALL WE HAVE DONE FOR YOU!”
“HA!” laughed Harry. “IF IT WASN’T FOR DUMBLEDORE…” He stopped, as Aunt Petunia gasped again, and he felt himself choking on his words as a lump formed in his throat.
“I think,” Uncle Vernon said through gritted teeth, “It would be best if you disappeared to your room, boy.”
“Fine!” said Harry as he grabbed a few pieces of toast.
Uncle Vernon started to splutter at him and Harry just turned and stared at him with cold green eyes.
“I only need to put up with you for one more week. Don’t make me any angrier than I am,” Harry said menacingly through gritted teeth.
Dudley dropped his fork as his eyes went wide and Uncle Vernon stood up suddenly. His left eye twitched as he closed the distance between himself and Harry.
“Are you threatening me, boy?” he said in a strained voice.
Harry looked at him for a moment and then shrugged, trying to look nonchalant.
“Yeah, I guess I am,” he said, as he let a small smile play on his lips.
His uncle took an involuntary step back at the look on his nephew’s face, giving Harry a small sense of satisfaction as he turned and left the kitchen munching on his toast. He went upstairs and slammed his door as he reached his room, daring his uncle to come up and confront him.
Harry flopped down on his back on his bed and stared at the ceiling. He was in a foul mood again. He tucked his hand behind his head as he finished his toast. He sighed and rolled over on to his side, looking at a picture of Ron, Hermione and himself as they waved at him. He missed them.
Sometimes, he thought, I just wish I were a normal wizard. Just Harry, with parents, and a normal life…
He felt his throat tighten again, and he pushed all those kinds of thoughts from his mind with a deep shuddering breath. His eyes hurt and he was tired.
Maybe I’ll rest a moment before I go out, he thought, just for a moment. I don’t really want to stay here all day…
Harry’s eyes slowly closed as he let his exhaustion take him. Soon he was fast asleep.
He was being dragged into a large hall. It was draped in black and there were cages hanging on large chains around the outer walls. Harry could see people in them; they looked beaten, bloody and emaciated. The dim lights from the candles cast shadows everywhere; he thought he saw people standing in the back, just out of sight. He looked to the front of the hall and there on the dais, was a large chair, like a throne. Someone was sitting in that throne, dressed in black from head to toe. He couldn’t see his face behind the cowl, but he knew who it was. His scar began to burn painfully the moment they had walked in the room. As Harry got closer he could see bodies strewn across the floor, lying on top of each other, their limbs at unnatural angles. He recognized many of the faces there, and he felt sick. He saw students from Hogwarts, Tom the bartender, Rosemerta, McGonagall, Flitwick, Hagrid, the Weasley twins, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Tonks, Lupin, Neville, Luna and Ginny. His heart missed a beat as he looked at her face. “Ginny,” he whispered, as he felt his chest tighten. They were all looking heavenward, with dead, sightless eyes. He was shoved unceremoniously towards the bottom of the steps and he fell to his hands and knees. He tried to catch his breath, collect his thoughts, and understand all of what he was seeing.
‘This can’t be real,’ he thought. ‘I would have known earlier…’
His thoughts trailed off as he slowly looked up towards the throne. Movement behind the dais caught his eye.
He gasped as he saw them, his chest constricted with fear. Ron and Hermione were chained to a wall, their heads hanging forward, their clothes slashed and covered with blood. They both slowly raised their heads and looked at him without any emotion, they were beyond pain. It looked like they had lost all hope.
Harry slowly stood up and turned to look at the cloaked figure sitting on the throne, as the man steepled his fingers together. He smiled, almost snake-like at Harry, the slits of his eyes glowing as he scrutinized him.
“Welcome, Harry,” he hissed, “to my new home.”
Harry looked around, but he couldn’t place where he was. It was too dark. He recognized the throne though. It was Dumbledore’s chair from Hogwarts.
“I don’t really care for the decor, and I don’t think you deserve to sit on that throne. It belonged to a far greater wizard than you,” Harry reflected, looking straight at him.
“Yes, well…” Voldemort sneered as he stroked his throat with his long fingers. “The display is just for you, Harry. You see, it is very important to me that you understand your position in all this, that you should fear me. I want to see and feel your fear. I wanted you to know who was the better man when all of this becomes mine.” Voldemort waved his arm to take in the whole room.
Harry’s head jerked up. Voldemort had said ‘when’, which means it hadn’t happened yet. He glanced around again trying to figure out where he was and guess Voldemort’s plan.
“You are feeding me your thoughts,” charged Harry looking back at Voldemort and trying to stall. “This isn’t real.”
“Very good, Harry, I never took you to be a stupid boy,” Voldemort replied. “Much smarter than your parents.”
Harry’s eyes narrowed as he said that, and he felt his anger beginning to build in the pit of his stomach.
“They were obviously smart enough to beat you three times,” he choked.
The smile slid from Voldemort’s face as he looked at Harry.
“I see you need to learn your place,” Voldemort whispered as he casually pulled out his wand.
Harry winced as he thought he knew what was coming: the Cruciatus curse. Suddenly Voldemort pointed his wand behind his throne and said “Avada Kedavra!”
A green light shot out of his wand and hit Ron in the chest. His body arched back and then went limp in death.
“NNOOO!” Harry screamed and fell to his knees, hanging his head. The tears began to fall freely down his cheeks, and he hugged his nauseated stomach as he tried to tell himself ‘it’s just a dream, it’s just a dream…’
Voldemort’s grin was almost feral as he watched Harry.
“Tsk, tsk,” he said mockingly, “is this what that all powerful magic does to you that makes you so great?”
He looked around at the death eaters in the shadows, got up from his throne and threw his arms out wide, strutting across the Dais.
“This is what, and who is going to destroy me?” He laughed, and a few of the Death Eaters laughed with him nervously. Voldemort walked over and kicked Harry in the side, causing him to gasp in pain.
“You are weak! Look at you!” He sneered. “Love makes you pathetic and vulnerable! You are not worthy of the title of the Chosen One, let alone my time or effort.”
He turned his back on Harry and walked back to his throne, haughtily wrapping his cloak around him as he did. He sat down again as Harry raised his head to look at him. His green eyes glittered with the hatred that was coursing through him.
“You will pay…” Harry vowed through gritted teeth.
“OOOH!” said Voldemort mockingly as he put his hand to his chest and raised his eyebrows. “Temper, temper, Mr. Potter, it gets you in trouble. Obviously you have not learned your place,” Voldemort taunted as he tapped his wand in his hand, his eyes flickering to the two people hanging behind him on the wall. Clearly he was enjoying the pain he was causing Harry.
“Nnooo…” Harry whispered,
“Please,” he begged, shaking his head and pleading with his eyes, hating himself, but knowing what was coming for sure this time.
Voldemort lazily flicked his wand behind him again and chanted,
For a second time a green flash shot out of Voldemort’s wand and this time hit Hermione in the chest. Her eyes went wide as her back arched and then she became limp in the chains holding her.
Harry choked back a sob as he looked at his two best friends. It was too real. Too close to the fears that he had hidden in the deepest corners of his heart. He couldn’t stand it. He felt his heart shatter and a part of him died. Voldemort laughed at him as Harry knelt on the floor in front of him.
“Oh, I can’t wait to see you again in person, Potter! I am going to enjoy breaking you over, and over again, before I take my final revenge by slowly killing you. You fool! You are so disgustingly weak. You bore me.”
With a lazy flick of his wand in Harry’s direction, he murmured “Crucio”
Harry screamed and fell to the floor into a fetal position as it felt like every nerve in his body was on fire. Spasms shook him uncontrollably, as waves of pain coursed through every limb. He couldn’t stop it. He continued to scream, and then suddenly he sat up.
He was in his bed, covered in sweat. His scar was burning intently and his face was soaked with tears. He scrambled back to the top corner of his bed and hugged his knees to himself. He was shaking uncontrollably and at that moment, felt so very alone and hopeless. He just sat there; eyes wide open, tears flowing, as he rocked back and forth for a very long time.