“Harry Potter”, the words echoed in his head as he sat frozen at the Gryffindor table. There was no applause, just the growing buzz of students standing to stare at the small boy stuck in his seat, unsure of what to do.
“Harry? Harry, move!” Hermione whispered, giving her friend a small push. As Harry left the table, he caught Ron’s eyes and saw only hatred. Dread filled his heart as he walked towards the staff table knowing he had lost his first friend. Freaks don’t deserve friends, he reminded himself as he approached the stage where the Headmaster stood.
“Well… through the door, Harry,” said Dumbledore. His familiar smile gone from his face, though the mischievous twinkle of eyes still present. As Harry walked along the teachers’ table, he saw the faces of his professors ranging from disbelief, anger, astonishment, and in the case of Professor Snape, veiled disinterest, though at this point that seemed to be how his face naturally sat.
Harry went through the door out of the Great Hall and found himself in a smaller room, lined with paintings of witches and wizards. The three champions, gathered around the fire, took no notice of the small boy behind them, they did not see his shaking hands or labored breath as they spoke to one another about the upcoming tasks.
This suited Harry just fine as panic threatened to overtake him, ‘don’t cry, don’t be a freak, stop Harry! STOP!’ he thought as he struggled to control himself. Hearing footsteps behind them, the Champions turned and finally noticed Harry’s presence, which forced him to remain calm.
“What is it?” Fleur Delacour asked, “Do Zey want us back in ze Hall?”
Before Harry could reply, Snape, Professor McGonagall, Dumbledore, Mr. Crouch, Mr. Bagman, Karkaroff, and Madame Maxime all entered the room, the latter four swooping in on Harry like vultures. Only Snape and McGonagall stood back, observing Harry and the adults who surrounded him.
Nothing made sense, the world was spinning, and the words held no meaning as each of the adults around him spoke over each other. Harry just stood there in a sea of sound, drowning, but it didn’t matter, he knew that no matter what he said his word meant nothing. Others would decide how this would play out, just like the past three years.
“Mr. Potter, did you put your name in the Goblet of Fire,” A voice said above the crowd. All eyes turned to the Potions Master standing calmly off to the side. He had asked the question quietly, but as usual, Severus Snape had the ability to silence the room.
“No” Harry replied meekly.
“Well then, Mr. Crouch, the boy says he didn’t enter, and seeing as the Goblet of Fire is an extremely powerful object, I am inclined to believe him. He has no extraordinary powers, despite what some may believe, and would have never had been able to fool the Goblet or the Age-line” Snape said, for the first time that night Harry felt a bit hopeful. If this man, who hated him, believed him, then maybe he could be ok. “So instead of wasting my evening, tell us what is to be done about the boy so we may all retire.” He finished with his trademark sneer.
“We must follow the rule,” Crouch said in a stiff voice, “and the rules state clearly that those people whose names come out of the Goblet of Fire are bound to compete in the Tournament.”
Just like that, the light of hope left Harry. ‘stupid freak, you know good things don’t happen to freaks like you’
“Before we can allow you to go and rest, here are some instructions for the first task.” Crouch continued, as if nothing happened, as if Harry’s world wasn’t once again shattering around him. “Champions, the first task will take place on November twenty-fourth. It is designed to test your bravery so you will not know what you are facing. That’s all, please try and rest. Goodnight”
With that, Krum and Fleur were ushered away by their respective headmasters and Cedric and Harry were dismissed to return to their dorms. But Harry wasn’t too keen to return to the Gryffindor common room. The looks at the feast made it quite clear to Harry that he was no longer welcome, but that was no surprise. He always knew it was a matter of time before they finally were done with him. Who would care for a freak?
Harry arrived in front of the Fat Lady far too soon, not knowing how he got there as his mind was pulled in so many directions. As he walked into the common room he was met with stares and silence. Whispers and looks of contempt followed him up to the fourth-year dorm but that was nothing compared to the site he found there.
His trunk was open, and his belongings scattered the floor. Ron was rivaling through his possessions while Neville stood over him. Dean and Seamus watched with mild amusement from their four-poster beds.
“Mate, stop! Harry didn’t do it and you’re gonna ruin something! You’re supposed to have his back, Ron” Neville shouted. It was so unlike the sweet-tempered boy that Harry could help when his jaw dropped in shock
“He’s a right git and an arse! I wanna know how he did it! He’s supposed to be my mate but of course he goes off and does this so he can be a fucking hero!” he said this holding up the invisibility cloak and surveying it for clues.
“I didn’t do it, Ron. I promise” Harry’s words came out shaky as he was on the verge of tears. His first friend was gone, lost to him because of something he didn’t do. He was going to be alone again. “Please, believe me, Ron. I don’t want this!”
“Why the fuck are you lying? We all know you’d do anything for more attention. Can’t let anyone else have any glory! No, Harry Potter needs to swoop in and be a star” Ron sneered, it was strange to be on the receiving end of such hateful words. Ron usually reserved those for Malfoy and the other Slytherins, but it seemed Harry was now lower in Ron’s book than the snakes in the dungeon.
“Ron, mate you know that’s not true. Please, you have to believe me! I don’t want to compete; I just want one normal year” Harry choked out hearing the sobs that threatened to break free. But he refused to cry, he wasn’t allowed to cry, he’d learned that the hard way years ago.
“Fuck you! Get the fuck out of here, no one wants you here anymore” he shouted, and Harry believed him. Grabbing only his bag and his invisibility cloak he left the Gryffindor tower in search of a place to hide, ignoring Neville as he tried to compel Harry to stay.
Harry found an abandoned classroom on the 5th floor and entered it, knowing it would be ‘home’ for a little while. Spotting a broom cupboard in the back of the room he settled down there, finding comfort in the small space. His cupboard was the one place he was safe, his uncle couldn’t fit in there when he slept in the small space no one could come to him in the night.
‘freaks sleep on the floor, freaks stay in cupboard, freaks don’t get to have friends.’ His Aunt and Uncle’s words filled his head as sobs finally overtook his small frame. This is where he belonged, on the dusty floor all alone. He shouldn’t be near other people; nobody wants to be near a freak.
That night Harry cried himself to sleep as panic and sobs wreaked havoc on his too-small body. He paid no mind to the cold or the aches in bones. When he woke up the next morning he refused to move. This was his place now, and this is where he would stay.