Harry locked himself in the communal bathroom he shared with the other third year Gryffindors. Finally alone, he turned on the shower and let the sobs he’d been holding back for hours wreck through him. For a few short, blissful hours he’d thought he’d get to go live with Sirius. The escape from the Dursleys had been right there, and then it had been ripped out from under him. Ron and Hermione wouldn't understand, how could they? They both had families who loved them, Harry only had his friends. That was enough though, it had to be. He just needed a minute to stop pretending to be excited they’d managed to save Sirius from Azkaban, and mourn the fact he had to spend another summer with people who didn’t want him.
Harry woke up in a sweat, Cedric’s name on his lips. He reached for his wand on instinct, meaning to cast a Lumos to strive off the pressing darkness of the room. Just in time, he remembered he was back at Privet Drive. Flashes from his dream played in his head, the images clear in the darkness. Kill the spare, Cedric falling over, Wormtail's severed hand, lifeless eyes, pain, the shadows of his parents. His nightmares hadn’t been as bad at Hogwarts, then again, at school Ron would usually wake him up before they got the chance. The presence of other people helped too, he supposed. Neville had started waking up early so he could visit the Greenhouse before breakfast, so when Harry woke up before dawn feeling terrified someone was around to talk to. Dean and Ron usually stayed up late, so Harry had someone when he couldn't fall asleep. Here he was alone though.
Weeks later Harry was sweating in the blistering heat. Petunia had decided their garden needed weeding, despite most of the plants being dead from the heat. Harry suspected she just wanted him out of the house. Harry hated being in the garden though, because he couldn’t keep himself from constantly looking for Hedwig, hoping she’d finally return with an indication his friends still cared. He’d tried writing to Ron and Hermione asking for information about the madman who’d tried to kill him, but he hadn’t gotten any answers. He’d thought maybe they didn’t know, but asking about their summer didn’t tell him much more. Their latest letters had indicated they were together, but they obviously hadn’t really wanted Harry there. They hadn’t invited him, or even told him where he could find them. Maybe he was finally too damaged for them to bother with. Maybe they’d realised how dangerous hanging around him could be. Either way, he was alone.
When the Dementors came Harry didn’t notice at first. The coldness, heaviness of his thoughts and flashes of his worst memories happened too often without them.
Harry ran from Dumbledore's office without knowing where he was headed. He just knew he couldn’t be anywhere near that old man anymore. He couldn’t be near anyone. His mind was racing with thoughts to the point where he no longer knew what he was thinking, and all he felt was hatred and anger. Frustrated, he lifted his hands to push hair out of his eyes, and was surprised when he felt a wetness touch his face. Looking down he discovered his hands were littered with small cuts, and droplets of blood were oozing from them. It took him a moment before realising his trashing of Dumbledore's office had to have been more aggressive and destructive than he’d realised at the time. He’d just wanted to break things, ruin them. To make everything around him match how he felt on the inside. He’d wanted to stop hurting the way he did. He wanted Sirius to stop being dead.
Harry scoffed, remembering what Dumbledore had told him: “Suffering like this proves you are still a man. This pain is part of being human.” If that was true then Harry stood by his decision. He didn’t want to be human anymore; he didn’t even want to be alive, nor had he wanted to for some time.
Sirius was dead, just like his mum and dad. And just like with his parents, Harry knew it was all his fault. Tears stinging, Harry turned to the wall next to him and punched it. A feeling of raw despair welled up in him, so strong he didn’t even notice the pain of his knuckles or the blood dripping on the floor. He didn’t know what to do. He was so tired and everything felt impossible. He wanted to scream and shout and wreck the whole bloody school, he wanted to lie down and sleep for ages, he wanted to jump off the Astronomy Tower. He wanted to run away, wand blazing and blast Voldemort off the face of the planet. His head felt like it was about to explode so he latched on to the thought of Voldemort.
He had to kill Voldemort before he could die, that was the deal. Only one can live while the other survives.. Harry made himself a promise then. He’d hang on until Voldemort was dead, then he’d follow him to the grave. For all Harry knew he’d be killed before he even got that far, but he promised himself he’d try. He’d keep pretending for his friends, he’d keep fighting.
Harry watched Dumbledore fall from the tower, and the rage he felt burned through the numbness he usually surrounded himself with. Snape had betrayed them. Betrayed Dumbledore and betrayed the school. Harry thought he’d even betrayed Malfoy. It was obvious the boy wasn’t a killer, obvious from the way he’d cried when Harry found him in that bathroom. Obvious from the way he’d shaken and lowered his wand. If Snape had really cared, he wouldn’t have helped Malfoy murder Dumbledore, he’d have helped him change sides. None of that really mattered as Harry chased after Snape though, yelling and screaming at the man to fight back. Part of him hoped he would, part of him hoped this was the fight in which he died.
Harry was worried for his friends. The pain of the Stinging Jinx on his face grounded him, and he was able to think clearer than he had in days. He still couldn’t think of a way out though. When they asked Malfoy to identify him, Harry knew it was over. It didn’t matter that his face was swollen. His hair and his eyes were clearly visible, not to mention the fact he was in-between Ron and Hermione. Malfoy though, looked him dead in the eyes, recognition clear on his face. “I can’t be sure,” he said, and suddenly Harry had a chance to save his friends. For a second he was disappointed, he wanted to scream at Malfoy, Here I fucking am, kill me already. His mask had been slipping, he’d been getting worse and worse at keeping his friends from seeing the darkness he kept subdued only with the promise that it was temporary. He couldn’t call out for a fight with Voldemort now though, it was too soon. It was too risky. Just hold on, keep going. Just for a little while longer. .