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The Day After by Nessa Elendil
Chapter 3 : Chapter 2 - Dreams, Reality, and Prophecy
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 11

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A/N: Yay, yay, yay, it's chapter two!

Harry woke so refreshed and happy that he didn't care about the prophecy he'd learned of from Dumbledore, regarding Voldemort and himself, for the first time since he had bothered to give it a thought.

Harry felt a pang of sympathy for his godfather from how uncomfortable he felt himself. Hospital beds really did cause more discomfort than they cured; Harry had only spent one night on one, and he was sore and stiff all over.

He made to push himself up into a sitting position with his hands, but the pain that shot through his left arm was unbearable. Harry cried out as he pulled his hand off of his weight, causing him to lose his balance and fall back into something hard. Unable to see anything but blurry colors and shapes, he reached for his glasses, but felt only empty space.

As Harry looked around, squinting, the only thing he was certain of was that this wasn't St. Mungo's. He swallowed, trying to calm the panic rising inside of him. Sirius had to be here somewhere, he just had to. Harry squinted harder, trying to see clearly in his bedroom at Privet Drive. What was happening? The memories of two days ago came flooding back to him, and he recognized the empty area on his desk where Hedwig should have been, found no pieces of parchment that had once been a letter from Lupin, and his hand, Harry was sure that by now it would hurt less if it simply fell off.

With his broken hand clutched carefully to him, he searched under his bed for the loose floorboard and pulled it up. After two minutes of cautious, blind searching, Harry pulled up what he had been looking for: His old pair of glasses. They were too small for his head, taped at the nose, and the prescription wasn't strong enough, but they offered, at least, some clarity to the world around him; even though he couldn't see distant details, he could see more defined shapes.

Looking at his hand, Harry felt like crying again, it made everything too real.

It was only a dream, it was all just a dream. The horrible truth raced through Harry's brain, but he refused to let his collecting tears fall. He wouldn't, he couldn't, not this time. Without thinking, Harry shoved his hand away from him, and it hit a wall, causing him to scream out from pain and causing a couple of tears to spill over.

"Boy! Are you awake?" Harry heard his aunt screech through the door.

Resolved for the worst, Harry answered, "Y-yes, Aunt Petunia," trying to keep his voice calm, unattached to his emotions that filled him with sorrow, pain, and guilt.

"Then get out here!" she demanded.

Harry haphazardly wiped the wetness from his eyes and opened the door. The minute Harry stepped out of his room, Aunt Petunia grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and practically dragged him off to the bathroom.

"Stand there," she ordered, pointing to the floor in front of the sink. After she gathered some first aid supplies - tweezers, disinfectant, bandages - she yanked Harry's injured hand over the sink and began to undo the sloppy bandaging. She was unwrapping the material from his hand so negligently that Harry made to pull it back as some of the minuscule shards that were stuck to both skin and bandage ripped at his flesh. Aunt Petunia grabbed his wrist and forced it back over the sink. "Stay still! I don't want this mess all over my floor!"

When the bandage was completely off and thrown into the rubbish bin, Harry took a look at his hand and saw it was worse than he had originally thought. Running his hand under warm water, Aunt Petunia used the tweezers to crudely empty Harry's shredded hand of glass, despite his wincing protests as his skin ripped more, causing the water below his hand to have a tint of red as it fell down the drain.

Aunt Petunia finished cleaning her nephew's hand and ran it under the water for a few more seconds. She applied a fine coat of disinfectant to Harry's cuts and began wrapping his hand in a fresh bandage.

Why was she doing this? Harry didn't know, he only hoped that maybe, just maybe, she, someone, did care about him. Little did he know that that hope, too, soon would be crushed.

Once Aunt Petunia finished, she replaced the supplies she had taken out back to their rightful place in the cabinet over the sink. "I just want you to know," she addressed her nephew, "I'm not doing this because I care," her tone was too bitter for it not to be true, and her words cut Harry like he didn't believe possible, "in fact, I think you've gotten no less than you deserve. But-but the neighbors..." Harry could tell though, as hurt as he felt, that was not her only reason. Aunt Petunia's lips pursed over her horse-like mouth for a moment before she continued. "Her- I, I owe her."

She left Harry alone in the bathroom to dwell on his thoughts, only bothering to shout "Clean up that mess!" as she headed downstairs.

It was easy enough to clean out the sink, even one-handed, that only Harry's aunt's eyes could find dirty. Had circumstances been different, Harry would have been wondering how is aunt owed his mother, but, for the time being, he honestly just didn't care. After he finished, Harry went downstairs to find a large plastic bag and some string, and used them to cover his injured and bandaged hand.

Back in the bathroom, Harry stripped and stepped into the shower, allowing the warming water to soothe his muscles, still sore from spending the night on the floor.

It's not fair! Harry thought angrily. Why does he have to be dead! Why is it always someone I love?! ...He was the only family I had left. Tears angry at the world's injustice threatened to mix with the water running down the young wizard's face.

"But it was real!" he shouted for no one but himself to hear. "It was real..."

Harry lay on his bed, staring at the blank ceiling above him.

It couldn't have been a dream, he decided. I would have woken up.

I would have woken up...

The episode with his aunt that morning had been the last contact Harry had with his relatives, unless he counted entering his room and finding himself locked in the next time he tried to open the door, which he didn't. But that didn't matter anymore. His godfather was alive, Harry had decided, somehow, he had to be. It hadn't been another one of his "visions" which had led to Sirius' near-death, because that's all it had been, a near-death experience, and now all that was left was for Harry to contact him somehow. He guessed that his godfather would be worried, maybe even as panicked as he himself had been, to wake up and find Harry wasn't at the hospital. But locked in his room without his owl, or wand, or the mirror, even if it was broken, he had no way of doing so, at least not that he knew of.

The day drew slowly on, nothing happened outside of his window, and it didn't sound like anything concerning him was happening in the house. Harry resorted to pacing his room, trying to block out the constant ticking of his watch to keep some small portion of the sanity is was surely losing.

Sirius was dead. There was no way around it, no other way to put it. He was gone, and Harry had to deal with it. Alone.

It was early evening, the sun had yet to begin to set, when Harry heard the rattling of the cat flap that had been installed in his door three years ago. He saw his aunt's hand push under a plate with half a dozen crackers on it. He hadn't eaten that entire day, and would have gulped down the crackers right on the spot except that it hurt his injured hand to hold the plate. So he placed it on his bed and tried to make the crackers last for at least a little while, but they were gone in under two minutes. He could only hope someone was feeding Hedwig.

The rumbling of his stomach, even after he'd eaten, sounded so hollow, so empty, that it served Harry only as a bitter reminder of what he had lost when Sirius fell and of what he knew he was slowly losing: His will to live.

He was confusing dreams with reality, unable - even not wanting - to determine one from the other. It was only the second day of summer, and he was already starving, he had no physical attachments to his world of magic, not even his hated Potions homework, and, worst of all, his family was dead.

Harry determined that he would rather die from lack of the will to live quickly and soon than slowly, while lingering on painful memories, from starvation for food and, more desperately, love.

The prophecy was weighing down the back of his mind, though; was it supposed to give him a reason to live? They only need me to "save the world," Harry thought bitterly. But what does it matter? How can I save the people I love if they're already dead? Voldemort can have the world, mine won't end up being much different than it is now... After all, Harry couldn't help but think that even if he were captured and tortured, he would only be exchanging his emotional pain for physical, and it wouldn't be that much of a difference.

For reasons Harry didn't understand, he felt a strong spout of anger surge through him. He didn't even know what he was angry at, but at that moment, he didn't even care enough to think of that. Driven by the foreign, angry impulse, Harry grabbed the plate and threw it with all his might against the barred window, Uncle Vernon having reinstalled the bars the day before. The plate shattered noisily, loudly, as it cracked the glass of the window.

"What the devil?!" Harry heard his uncle shout downstairs. Harry, however, wouldn't have cared if his uncle chose that precise moment to bury him alive in the backyard. As he had told Dumbledore after Sirius' death, he didn't care. He truly didn't.

He did become a bit anxious, though, as he listened to the door being ferociously unlocked. A second later, it was swung open full force and Uncle Vernon's massive bulk filled the doorframe.

"What do you think you're doing up here?!" he demanded to know.

"Nothing," Harry replied, no longer caring what happened next.

"Don't lie to me, boy!" his uncle roared. Vernon grabbed his nephew by his shirt collar and shook him roughly as he yelled. "What are you doing?!"

"I didn't do anything!" Harry all but shouted back. His now panicking eyes were beginning to water, and his response was quieter. "The plate- I just-"

"I've had it with you, boy! If you're not going to appreciate what we give you out of the goodness of our hearts, then you aren't going to get it!" He threw the small teenager against something, Harry didn't know what, except that it was hard and had a corner. Without bothering to see that his nephew could still stand, only to watch for a few moments as Harry struggled to get up with pain coursing through his entire right side, he left the room, closing and relocking the door.

It was a full eight minutes before Harry found the strength to pull himself to his bed. Between his hand and his side, the throbbing pain was just enough to help him forget the sorrow and grief he felt, at least until he laid face down on his bed, burying his face in his pillow, and not giving a second thought to the world.

A/N: Hmm... What Harry really doesn't care about - apparently one of the things - is stated right in here. He doesn't say or think it, but it's stated there. Anyone know what it is? (I didn't even realize it until I was typing it)

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