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But I Can Break You

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Harry woke with a start, his heart pounding in his head and his body shaking. He drew in shaky breaths, hoping to calm himself from the demons that raged inside his own mind. But his demons didn't go away when his eyes opened. They still whispered to him. His eyes still pounded. Harry hadn't slept well since the third task in the Triwizard Tournament. Ever since then all he'd seen was Cedric's lifeless body in front of him, flashes of green light, and...Voldemort. Voldemort had risen that night, in all his terrifying glory. Harry remembered being strapped to the statue in the graveyard, he remembered feeling helpless as his own blood was taken from his body. He remembered feeling the Cruciatus Curse that Voldemort cast on him, the pain that raced through his veins as he tried to fight it off. He'd seen the Cruciatus Curse performed before on a bug in a classroom, but it was nothing, it did nothing, to prepare him for what happened when the curse was placed on him. He was not prepared for the feeling of every molecule of his body being ripped apart from each other repeatedly. 

Harry pushed the thoughts from his mind as he stood from his bed and scrubbed his hands down his face. It was pointless to dwell on thing such as these. He looked out the window, noticing the sun just barely peaking above the horizon. Dawn. For a moment, however brief, Harry felt peace. He watched as the colors of the sun danced over the horizon, the yellows, the oranges, the fiery reds. But the red of the sun reminded Harry completely of another red, a vibrant blood red of snake's eyes. Voldemort's eyes. 

Harry turned his back to the window, opting to quickly dress himself. He tiptoed out of his room, managing to not make any noise. It was easy enough, he rarely made any noise anymore. He had gotten so used to sneaking out of the Dursley house that it barely took any willpower to try. Once out the front door, Harry made his way to the park nearest to the Dursley house, a place where he spent most of his time now. He didn't want to spend his time indoors in the Dursley house. They hated him in there and he hated them just as much. He knew Dudley at least could hear him scream in his sleep and while Dudley would never confront him about it alone, he had recently acquired his own gang and a hundred extra pounds to his frame and he felt no qualms about confronting Harry with a group behind him. So Harry generally avoided Dudley. 

In fact, Harry generally avoided everyone. The most human contact he had was when he was lying in the bushes below the window at the Dursley house, listening to the news. He always listened to the news. But not this morning. This morning he just wanted to alone. Alone was proving his only comfort. Alone was proving to be his only way to live. The Dursleys knew something wasn't exactly right with him when he immediately got into their car after whatever warning Mad Eye had for them. Hermione and Ron wrote to him, but their letters were vague and contained nothing interesting. He waited for news from them but got nothing. So instead he listened to the Muggle news, hoping and praying that there was nothing and yet some part of him wanted something so that he wouldn't be so in the dark. But this morning, as the darkness was chased from the world by the sun, he didn't care. News be damned. He just wanted silence. The silence that wrapped the world wouldn't last for long. Soon people would be waking up, soon people would be going to work. But for now, it was quiet. For now, Harry's own demons were kept at bay inside his own head. 

Harry walked back from park when the sun was at its apex and he felt like he was going to overheat. The summer had been incredibly hot for some inexplicable reason and everyone was suffering for it. Harry decided to move on from the park before Dudley, or as he was now called, Big D, decided to torment another ten year old in the park he was currently walking away from. He didn't know where he was walking to until he found himself back on Privet Drive. Why he ended up here, he didn't know. Maybe it was because Number Four was the only home he'd ever known or because some part of him would always be trapped within the walls, just like some part of him would always be trapped inside that graveyard. Harry noticed Ms. Figg staring outside her window, watching him. Harry raised his hand to wave, a gesture which she returned. Harry's eyes dropped to the pavement and he continued until he was outside Number Four. He didn't want to go inside though, why would he? 

Instead Harry lowered himself into the bushes below the window, a place he'd gotten quite comfortable in time and time again. There was no news playing at the moment, so Harry just lied there while his aunt and uncle shuffled around on the inside. But Harry didn't care, eventually he would be pulled out of the bushes, he knew it. Someone would find him, they always did. It would likely be Dudley, who much like Harry, often left the house. Harry didn't even realize that he had dosed off in the bushes until he was woken up by the sharp noise of the news clicking on. Thankfully, he didn't jolt himself away enough to hit himself on anything and alert the Dursleys to his presence. So instead he just stayed there, listening to the voice inside speak. Of course, his listening was ruined by Dudley who saw fit to drag him out of the bushes and drag him quite forcefully inside. 

This pattern repeated often. Leave, come back, listen to the news, be carted inside for a trial by Vernon Dursley, repeat. 

Harry sat on a swing at the park near the Number Four Privet Drive. He couldn't get the latest dream out of his head. It still repeated even without closing his eyes. He could hear his mother's screams echoing inside his mind, her desperate cries to leave her child alone. Take her, not Harry. Not Harry. Flashes of emerald green seemed to color everything Harry looked at. When Harry looked at the ground, he saw Cedric's lifeless body. He saw the Hufflepuff colors spread proudly across his chest, but that chest didn't rise and fall with breath anymore. Harry could swear that if he reached his foot out, he could touch the body of his fallen Hufflepuff friend. 

Harry's day was about to get worse when Dudley and his friends decided it was a good idea to walk into the same park. Naturally, Dudley narrowed his gaze on Harry and immediately began to taunt him about how he could hear Harry's screams through the walls. Of course this didn't really get to Harry. Harry knew he had nightmares. It was when Dudley began to taunt him about his mother. His very dead mother. Dudley's own aunt. 

Harry's temper got the better of him and he had his wand out and aimed at Dudley who immediately knew the risk that Harry Potter posed in this moment. Harry could hear his heart thundering in his ears and his blood rushing, pounding through his veins. He almost felt the same anger he felt that night, when he was face to face with Voldemort. But this wasn't Lord Voldemort. This was Dudley Dursley, his idiot cousin who wasn't worth the anger that was pounding through Harry's veins now. He lowered his wand, trying to calm himself. He could hear Dudley's friends cackling like hyenas in the background, but Dudley had gone sheet white. His face had gone slack and the air around them had gone cold. 

"What are you doing?" Dudley whispered to him, as though if he said it any louder it might actually mean that Harry was actually the cause of the sudden ice storm brewing around them on the hot summer's day. Harry looked around, seeing the clouds, feeling the wind as it rushed through the trees.

"I'm not doing anything." Harry answered, though he could feel himself already starting to be drained. He knew what was coming without seeing them. He could already hear the screams, he could see Cedric even clearer than in his nightmares. "Dudley." Harry whispered. "Run."

Though Dudley lumbered in general, he somehow kept up with the much swifter Harry Potter. Harry ran with his cousin on his tail. But it was futile, their attempt to flee. The dementors caught up with them. Dudley couldn't see them, but Harry could. Harry couldn't comprehend what happened at first. There were two dementors, one for each of them. How could there be two of them? Harry was knocked to the ground and his wand knocked out of his hand. Dudley was pinned to the wall by, to him, an unseen force. It took everything in Harry to conjure a patronus, but his stag easily rushed the dementors away. The first dementor was thrown off of Harry with the stag’s horns and the second was hurled away from Dudley with the stag latching itself onto it and rushing it out of the storm tunnel the two boys were currently taking shelter in. 

Harry closed his eyes, fighting off every nightmare he'd ever had. He could hear the Basilisk in the tunnels in the Chamber of Secrets. He could feel Tom Riddle's cold and calculating eyes on him as the Basilisk venom spread through his veins, burning and weakening him. He could see Voldemort's blood red eyes in the back of Quirrell's head. Harry opened his eyes to see Dudley shaking on the ground in front of him. He had to get him out of here, he had to get moving. He had-

Harry Potter. 

That voice. He knew that voice. Where did he know that voice? A choked sound distracted him from his thoughts as he once again brought his attention back to Dudley. He had to get Dudley home. He picked himself up off the ground and walked over to Dudley, managing to heave his massive form off the ground. "Come on, Big D. Let's get you home."

Neither of them spoke again until they were through the door of Number Four where they were both accosted by Petunia and Vernon Dursley. Harry's aunt and uncle doted on their son and immediately accused Harry of having done something to him, an idea that was given even more of a foothold by Dudley. To make matters worse, an owl decided to fly right into the Dursley living room. Of course this owl brought nothing nice to say as a Ministry howler decided to tell him he was going to be expelled from Hogwarts. 

But Harry wasn't listening to anything else after that. Before he knew it, he was up in his room, the door shut and it was locked from the outside. 

Harry walked down a dark corridor. It felt as though he had been here before, but he didn't recognize the place he was in. He reached his hand out in front of him to open the door and suddenly there was light everywhere. The room he had just entered was nothing like the corridor he exited. The room had a fire blazing in the far corner, a mirror on the with a gold frame, a long mahogany table, and red chair surrounding the table. The carpet was crimson and the walls were covered in crimson and gold wallpaper. There was also a window facing a graveyard where the sun blazed through. He crossed the room toward the mantel and fireplace where the mirror hung and looked at his reflection, only it wasn't his own face which stared back. It was the snake-like face of Lord Voldemort. 

Voldemort didn't seem to care much for staring at his own reflection though. Instead he turned and walked toward the table. There, he met Nagini, his very large python who Harry Potter had once been promised to as dinner. "There there pet." Voldemort whispered to the snake. "All in good time."