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Chapter 10 : Unwanted Help
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He was so cold.
There wasn’t much Harry felt confident about but the biting cold was absolute. It sunk to his very bones and he felt them turn to ice despite how hard he was working his muscles. That was the other thing he was certain of. Cold and run.
It was as though there was an ethereal voice whispering over his shoulder, ‘Run!’ He couldn’t recognise the quiet voice but believed it implicitly. His frozen muscles screamed in protest as he pushed himself forward with abandon. Forward, that was the only important thing. He had to keep moving, had to chase away the cold and... something else?
Was that why he was running? Harry’s mind reeled in confusion as he fought himself to keep running and suppress the rising need to turn around, to see his enemy. The whispering voice was louder now as it hissed down Harry’s ear in almost a mocking tone, ‘Runnnnn!’
For a moment Harry stumbled in surprise but the mounting fear of what was chasing him drove him onwards through the endless blackness.
‘Runnnn, liiiiittle Potter,’ the voice hissed venomously in a voice Harry would never forget.
This time Harry fell to the ground but whipped around quickly to face his pursuer. Then in the darkness behind him smoke began to swirl around itself and Harry scrambled back further into the darkness. The pale smoke fell into place on a skeletal face; smooth hairless head and sickly grey skin. It began to pick up speed and rushed towards Harry’s trembling prone form as a pair of blood red eyes blinked in the sunket sockets.
Harry wrenched himself backwards and shut his eyes waiting for the pain but only feeling a falling sensation. With a thump he threw his eyes open and found himself on the floor at the side of his bed in his maroon room.
For several moments it was all Harry could do to lie there, the only sound escaping him; his gasping breathing. He gazed around his familiar surroundings; the carbon copy of a Hogwarts canopy bed, his aged oak wardrobe and his beloved Firebolt leaning against the wall in the corner of the room.
With a final calming breath Harry wrenched himself upright, leaning heavily on the deep red covers of his bed. A wave of exhaustion washed over him and he sat down on the bed to keep his legs from giving out.
Glancing at his clock realisation hit him. It was only 4 o’clock, no wonder his head was pounding and his limbs felt like lead. These nightmares were going to kill him before Voldemort even got the chance, Harry thought with a cynical chuckle at his own misery.
With a grim smile plastered on his face he left the privacy of his room and descended the stairs to face his family. For better or worse...
‘Just remember, he may not like this but he needs it,’ said James to the group at large.
‘Might not like it?!’ said Ron. ‘He’s going to hate us. He never wants any help; I don’t see how forcing it at him is going to change that.’
‘Ron!’ Hermione scalded him followed with a smack to the back of the head, much to the amusement of Fred and George. ‘Harry is our best friend and even if he doesn’t want this we will do whatever it takes to help him!’
‘Alright alright,’ Ron muttered. Someone whispered something that sounded a lot like ‘whipped’ and Ron threw a glare at Fred and George’s grinning faces behind Hermione’s back.
There wasn’t a surface in the lounge of Potter Manor that didn’t have someone perched on it. Fred, George, J and Matt were leaning against the vast side board idly chatting about Quidditch, though anyone could tell that J’s heart wasn’t really in it especially Matt who kept a tight hold around his waist. On the two sofas in the centre of the room sat Lily, James and Kat, with Andy perched on the arm and opposite them Remus, Mr and Mrs Weasley and Sirius leaning against the back of the sofa. The coffee table between the two banks of adults held Ron and Hermione who kept casting worried looks at Ginny at the far end of the coffee table. She sat staring, unblinkingly, into Harry’s favourite and currently empty armchair.
She needed her Harry back. He had been pretending he was back to normal for so long but he wasn’t as good a liar as Ginny was. 16 years of practise she had had. She didn’t know when she had learnt to hide her emotions, but in a house full of boys it had just sort of happened. It was rare that any of her brothers had seen her cry and little did they realise that this was the reason behind her volatile temper. Bottles crack eventually, including those containing feelings.
Ron had watched Ginny retreat back into herself and he hated to see it happen again. It was exactly what she did after the horrors of her first year, hidden them. It was a haunted girl that had returned from the hospital wing a few days after their escape from the chamber. For several weeks she barely uttered a word to anyone and constantly sought time alone in the garden for hours on end. Until one day she had come downstairs and picked up her life again as though the past month hadn’t happened. To most people she was her normal bubbly and energetic self, but if you looked closer you could see the walls built up around her and the spark had disappeared from her eyes.
It was happening again. As Harry retreated into himself and hid from the pain did Ginny. But unlike Harry, Ginny wasn’t hiding from the horrors of physical pain but hiding from the grief of slowly losing the man she loved.
James took a deep breath and the room turned silent as all heads swung around towards the hunched figure stood in the doorway.
Clasping Lily’s hand James stood and faced the terrified face of his youngest son.
‘Harry, this is an intervention.’
Harry’s head was pounding. With every step he took his muscles protested at the effort they were being forced to make. If he could just sit here for a moment, on these stairs...maybe sleep...
No, that was a bad idea. Harry knew that the moment he let himself relax the nightmares would return and outside the seclusion of his room anyone might hear. And then they would all know how weak he really was.
He knew they would all find out eventually, even in his sleep deprived state he wasn’t delirious enough to believe that they weren’t going to notice how exhausted Harry was and quickly put two and two together. And the moment they did, they would all turn away from him. His destiny had been to fight Voldemort since he was a year old, his whole life had been training for his final task and now they would see he couldn’t do it. He was just a scared little boy, not a hero.
Finding himself at the bottom of the staircase, Harry forced his feet onwards whilst trying to ignore the taunting voices in his head. It was pointless really as he would hear the same hurtful but true things from his loved ones very soon.
Harry followed the sound of muffled voices down the hall to the doors of the lounge. The voices were quiet, even through the thick oak door, but he could tell there were a lot of people in the room beyond. He took a deep breath and turned the door handle admitting himself to the room full of his family and friends, as always resigned to his fate.
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