A/N: Harry sixth year, after OotP. H/G, R/Hr, PG-13 rating.
* * *
Harry Potter was angry.
He was lying on his bed at the Dursleys', staring at the ceiling. He wasn't exactly certain why he was angry, but his mood was reflected by the dim shadows created by the gray sunlight seeping through his window. A summer storm had swept through the town, and was only now beginning to wane as the sun set.
Harry spent a lot of his time away from the Dursleys', aimlessly walking through the town, or sitting in the park reading his Defense Against the Dark Arts books. The latter had become an obsession to him, a distraction to the torments of thinking about the events of the previous year. At the beginning of summer, he had owled Professor Dumbledore and asked to borrow some N.E.W.T. level textbooks. The Professor had graciously sent him a variety of books.
He would sit for hours reviewing spells and planning lessons for his D.A. classes, which he intended to resume once the new school year started. He was certain Dumbledore would give permission for the D.A. to continue, and he wanted to be prepared.
He also wanted to prepare himself. The fact of the matter was that while he performed better in the battle last year than he had done in his fourth year, there was still a lot of luck involved. It was a miracle that no one else had been killed. That thought led inevitably to the one casualty of the battle: his godfather, Sirius.
Harry swung his legs over the bed, and got up, frustrated. He began pacing the room, trying to work off his excess energy.
He felt alternately numb and angry. At first, he simply couldn't believe Sirius was really gone. Having spent so little time with him, it almost seemed like he was away somewhere, as usual. Sirius represented a link to his parents, and now yet another link was severed just when Harry was getting used to the idea of having him in his life. He didn't open himself up easily, and it cut him very deeply for someone to leave him so suddenly.
Not only had he led everyone into a trap, but he also felt useless in the battle once he was there. He felt he should have been better prepared. I must learn more, he thought determinedly. The thought had sustained him through the summer, becoming a mantra for him. He knew he would never be the bookworm that Hermione was, and he would never have her breadth of knowledge. But he knew that in this one area, he could do well.
I have to do well, he thought desperately.
He had paced for several minutes when the loud voice of his uncle shouted up the stairs, "Boy! Up there! Cease that infernal noise!" The warnings of the Aurors at the end of last year had made the Dursleys much more tolerable, but not any more friendly.
Harry sighed, and threw himself into a chair at his desk. He guiltily looked over to the large stack of unanswered letters from Ron and Hermione. They appeared to be trying to make up for last year, as they made a supreme effort to tell him as much as possible about what was going on. The letters helped him to feel in contact with the wizard world, but it wasn't the same as being there.
He drew a sheet of parchment, intending to write a letter. His head was filled with thoughts, but nothing seemed to flow from his brain through his hand and onto the paper. He'd tried to write back, but his rare letters tended to be short and to the point. He simply didn't have much to write about, and, even if he had the words, he didn't want to talk about what he was feeling.
More for amusement than anything, he picked up his quill and began writing.
Dear Ron and Hermione,
I forgot to tell you! Trelawney prophesized before I was born that I have to kill Voldemort or die trying. That's why he killed my parents and tried to kill me. Hope you're enjoying your summer!
Well, it had seemed like an amusing idea before he actually wrote it. He crumpled up the paper and threw it in the rubbish bin.
The prophecy weighed heavily upon his mind. It said that he held some sort of power that Voldemort didn't, but if he did, he didn't know what it was or how to use it. Why couldn't Dumbledore just tell him what he was supposed to do? Harry dropped his head into his hands in despair.
How could the responsibility of defeating one of the most evil wizards in history be placed on the shoulders of an unremarkable boy such as himself? Who decided this? How is it possible to do anything except fail?I can't even defeat a bunch of Death Eaters, he thought. If the Aurors hadn't swooped in when they did… well, so far he had been lucky. I have that going for me, I guess, he thought with a trace of amusement, which lasted until he thought of those who hadn't been so lucky.
The truth was that Harry felt like a fraud. What bloody power? He felt a small amount of confidence in his abilities in Defense classes. But what does that prove? he thought miserably. Lots of people are good at defense. He knew he could never defeat Mad-Eye Moody in a duel, much less Dumbledore. And if Dumbledore felt he couldn't defeat Voldemort himself…
Harry sighed. He pulled a few letters from his stack and began to read.
Ron's letters were always entertaining, and his updates on the professional Quidditch teams were welcome. Harry wished he could get out his Firebolt and do some practice flying. He desperately missed playing Quidditch, particularly since his "lifetime" ban had been instituted last year.
Hermione, of course, suspected what he was feeling. She dropped a lot of hints that she wanted him to write to her about his thoughts. Harry was tempted to try and write some of it down but couldn't escape the feeling that no one could really understand.
How can anyone understand what it's like to get your godfather, one of your last links to your family, killed through your own stupidity? How can anyone understand what it's like to fight personal battles with Voldemort? he thought moodily.
Well, there is one person who knows something about that, he reflected. He thought back to last year when he had wondered whether he was being possessed.
"Well, that was a bit stupid of you," Ginny had said angrily, "seeing as you don't know anyone but me who's been possessed by You-Know-Who, and I can tell you how it feels." Why hadn't he seen the obvious? He felt a new stab of guilt. She was absolutely right, and what did it say about him that he had forgotten what had happened to her?
Harry‘s mood grew worse.
* * *
Ginny Weasley stood in the kitchen of the Burrow, humming happily to herself. It had been a glorious day, and she had spent much of it reading a sappy novel underneath a tree, for which she felt a bit of guilty pleasure. For a change, the weather hadn't been too hot, and a light breeze brought a scent of wildflowers from the fields that grew nearby.
She was helping her mother prepare dinner. The Burrow was rather empty these days, with only Ron, her mum and her dad in residence. There wasn't much to prepare, but she still enjoyed keeping busy. Her mum bustled nearby, casting an occasional cooking spell as the pots, pans and utensils diligently did their work. Ginny pulled out plates and began to set the table.
She glanced at the calendar on the wall. July 24th. There was one more week until Harry's birthday. She wondered if he would have to spend yet another lonely birthday with the Dursleys. It was so unfair that Harry, who had done so much for so many, had to live with those awful people. She wondered what he was doing right at that moment. Probably trying to evade some new Dursley torture, she thought.
"Mum, has Professor Dumbledore said when Harry will be able to leave the Dursleys'?" Ginny asked.
Molly Weasley looked up from her work and smiled at her. "No, dear, not that I'm aware of. His birthday is coming up, isn't it? Perhaps I should ask if he could come here. One would imagine his 16th birthday should be spent among his real family."
Ginny felt a stab of irritation at her mother's smile, as if she was making implications. Doesn't the world know that I'm over him? Didn't I make it clear last year that I'm not mooning over him anymore? she thought, annoyed.
At the same time, she felt pride that her mother considered her family to be Harry's real family. She hadn't understood until recently that her mother was taking a great risk by embracing Harry so openly. It would be so easy to distance her family from Harry in order to keep them safe. Her mother had a tendency to b