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I, Your Glass

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Chapter 1: Strange Dreams

 

Harry ran a clammy, trembling palm over his eyes, trying to slow his thundering heart and calm his shallow, erratic breathing. For several long minutes, he lay still and listened to the quiet sounds of midnight on Privet Drive.

 

He could hear Uncle Vernon snoring noisily from the bedroom down the hall, and a heavy creak that could only be Dudley rolling over in his bed. Outside, crickets chirped a low melody and a gentle breeze rustled the trees along the road. A whisper of the breeze drifted through his open window and the curtains swayed with a soft shushing sound.

 

There were no shouted incantations or crackling spells. No stalking footsteps. No maniacal laughter. No screams.

 

Harry pressed his palms firmly into his eyes with a groan, as if that could suppress the images that still lingered vividly in his mind. 

 

It had been another nightmare. 

 

In truth, although summer break had only begun a week ago, his entire life since returning to Privet Drive for the summer had felt like one long nightmare. His days were filled with endless back-breaking chores, snide insults from his aunt, and shouted threats from his uncle that were occasionally empty but more often were not. And on the few days that Aunt Petunia shooed him out of the house, preferring to clean things herself than deal with him ‘wasting my cleaning supplies on your miserable attempts’ as she put it, Dudley and his gang dogged his every footstep. Their taunts and cuffs ensured Harry found no reprieve, no matter where he wandered. Even so, the days were still magnitudes better than the nights.

 

On a good night, Harry would be too exhausted to either sleep or dream, and would simply toss and turn restlessly until dawn. On a bad night, like tonight, he would dream of that night in the graveyard, trapped in a loop in which he knew the ending, but was powerless to do anything about it.

 

Although it had been about two weeks since the end of the Triwizard Tournament and that terrible night in the graveyard, the memories still felt as fresh in his mind as if it had happened only hours ago. Each sight, sound, and sensation seemed to only grow more vivid each night, as if the nightmares were searing their details more firmly into his memory with every iteration.

 

He could still feel the dirt of the graveyard under his fingernails as he and Cedric tumbled onto the ground, the Cup falling from their hands. He could hear the low murmur of Cedric’s voice, quietly urging him to take out his wand. He could see the flash of violent green light and that last spark of confused terror in Cedric’s eyes, and then hear the muffled thud as his body crumpled to the ground. He could smell the burnt ozone scent that the Killing Curse seemed to leave hanging in the air, a smell that singed his nostrils. He could feel the damp cold of the gravestone pressed against his back, and then a sharp pain as Wormtail drew the silver dagger along his arm. And then… the blaze of agony, lancing through his head as if it were pierced by a thousand needles, as Voldemort emerged from the cauldron and locked eyes with him-

 

Harry sat up with a jolt, firmly slapping his cheeks to stave off the fresh wave of panic that threatened to flood through his body.

 

No! He wasn’t in the graveyard anymore. He was here, in Privet Drive. Voldemort and his Death Eaters weren’t here. He wasn’t in danger. He was safe.

 

Well…

 

He slowly ran a hand through his hair with a bitter snort. He was safe from Voldemort, at least. The Dursleys didn’t exactly provide what he would describe as a “safe” home, not when Aunt Petunia frequently swung frying pans at his head, or when Dudley and his gang went ‘Harry Hunting’ on boring afternoons, or when Uncle Vernon-

 

Harry felt another familiar flare of dread as he thought about his uncle, but quickly shook his head to stop that train of thought too. He couldn’t let himself get worked up about it.

 

No matter what punishments Uncle Vernon doled out, no matter how vicious he became, he would never compare to the gleeful malice and genuine terror that Voldemort so expertly commanded. Compared to the Cruciatus curse, Vernon’s discipline was tame. It was nothing Harry couldn’t handle. 

 

Harry had endured everything in that graveyard and managed to emerge in one piece… if staying here with the Dursleys was necessary for keeping him safe from that… well, then he could endure this too. At least here, no one was trying to kill him. At least here, no one else would suffer or die because of him. And when September finally came… he could go home to Hogwarts and pretend like none of this had happened.

 

He hunched forward, drawing his knees up against his chest and hugging them tightly. There would be no getting back to sleep tonight. He tried to calm the whirlpool of thoughts in his mind, and suppress the aching nausea in his stomach, as he waited for morning to come.






Over the next few days, Harry’s nightmares gradually worsened. Each time he dreamed of the graveyard and locked eyes with Voldemort, it felt as if the man were physically there in front of him, and the searing pain that he’d only ever experienced in Voldemort’s presence would flare to life. He couldn’t tear his eyes away, and the moment seemed to stretch longer and longer, the pain in Harry’s forehead intensifying til he could barely see straight. Every time, Voldemort would smile and laugh, reveling in Harry’s distress until he was jolted awake, forehead still burning and heart still pounding.

 

Harry’s body would ache and twinge all day, as if he had been subjected to the Cruciatus Curse overnight. He was no expert on wizards' dreams (or any kinds of dreams, for that matter), but part of him wondered if it were possible to be cursed through a dream… Was the mind capable of wrecking so much havoc on a body on its own, or was there actually a spell involved? Was Voldemort torturing him in his sleep, or was it just phantom remembrances of the pain he had already experienced? He couldn’t be sure, but it didn’t really matter. Either way, there was nothing much to be done about it. It’s not like he could just shut off his dreams at will, or block Voldemort from inflicting this torment on him from a distance if it was him.

 

All he could do was just endure it... Just endure it, quietly.

 

Harry had already made that mistake once. 

 

When the nightmares had first begun, at the very beginning of the summer, he was caught off-guard by them. He hadn’t taken any precautionary measures… it was stupid, in retrospect.

 

Vernon must have gotten a letter from someone at Hogwarts, or maybe the Weasleys had said something at Kings Cross. In any case, Vernon seemed to know a little of what had transpired at Hogwarts in June. His uncle immediately took him aside once they had returned home, and told him in furious whispers to keep his ‘freaky stories about murderers’ to himself. He ‘didn’t want to hear any boo-hooing’ and Harry being a ‘whining layabout’ would get him more than a few cuffs around the ear.

 

“It’s about time someone scared you straight”, Vernon had said. “Maybe now you’ll be grateful for the lenient and generous upbringing we’ve given you, and stop acting like a disgraceful hooligan when we don’t bow before you and kiss your feet.”

 

Harry should have known, from the start, that he’d need to be more careful. He should have known to cram his riotous emotions deeper inside, like he had done every other summer at the Dursleys. Quiet obedience. No crying. No whining. And absolutely no disruptive noises.

 

But he had been careless. Too overwhelmed to do more than doggedly ignore the constant buzz of his troubled thoughts now that his friends were away, Harry had gone to sleep that night stupidly unprepared.

 

That first night back at the Dursleys, after falling into a fitful sleep, the nightmare had reared up in his dreaming mind all at once, as if it had been gleefully waiting for this exact moment to strike. Harry writhed in his sleep, quiet moans of distress escaping his lips. And when Voldemort emerged from the cauldron and the true pain had begun, Harry’s sleeping mouth had uttered a bloodcurdling scream.

 

Vernon had come tearing into his room, more furious than Harry had ever seen him, and he almost wasn’t sure where his nightmare had ended and reality began. With his glasses off and his vision blurred, he thought for an instant that Voldemort had materialized here in his bedroom at Privet Drive. Stuttered, confused pleas fell from his lips before he could stop himself, but the words died in his throat as the blurry shape approached: it looked like a thundering stormcloud topped by an angry red splotch. But realizing that the shape was his Uncle Vernon and not the Dark Lord himself hardly brought relief to Harry. Instead, his racing heart only accelerated.

 

And then he was hoisted off the floor, the fabric of his shirt bunched in Vernon’s shaking fist.

 

“WHAT THE HELL DID I TELL YOU, BOY? You’re not a toddler in need of coddling, and if you’re going to cry like one at least have the decency to do it quietly! If you wake us up with your caterwauling one more time, I’ll give you something to really cry about!”

 

Vernon had shoved Harry roughly back to the floor and stormed out, leaving his shoulder smarting. Harry didn’t bother going back to sleep that night. He lay awake, rubbing his hands along his arms to stave off the relentless cold that seemed to permeate his very soul, and trying to hold back the childish tears that threatened to erupt.

 

He hadn’t cried at the Dursleys' treatment since he was a child, and he certainly wasn’t going to start now. Not when Vernon had made it abundantly clear how his ‘incessant weeping’ would be received. No, he’d just need to be more careful. He would keep it to himself. He’d keep quiet.

 

And so the next night, Harry was prepared. His wand had been locked away, of course, but that didn’t rule out Muggle solutions to the problem.

 

He’d stuffed thick jumpers under the crack in his door and buried himself under as many blankets, pillows, and jackets as he could gather. The heat was unbearable, but he hoped it would do something to dampen any sounds he might make in his sleep.

 

And most importantly, he steeled himself for whatever dreams might come to him and swore to himself that he wouldn’t cry or scream, no matter how bad they were.

 

After that first night, Vernon wasn’t woken by Harry’s screams again, even though the nightmares got worse and worse with each successive night. Harry was exhausted, emotionally and physically, but a small part of him was proud of himself. He couldn’t control his nightmares, but he could control himself, and after that first moment of weakness when the nightmares had surprised him, he didn’t cry out again. He was stronger than them. He was strong enough to keep it inside.

 

And so the days progressed, one bleeding into the next in what felt like a single, never-ending onslaught of fatigue, labor, and solitude.

 

One night, the nightmares abruptly shifted, the torturous memories of last June replaced by something different. But soon Harry wished he could dream of the graveyard again instead of this new horror.

 

In these dreams, he would find himself surrounded by Death Eaters, but after an initial moment of panic, he realized they weren’t trying to attack him. In fact, it seemed like he was one of them… perhaps even in charge of them. Together they would glide silently down empty nighttime streets, sometimes paved, sometimes cobbled, sometimes dirt and gravel. Like a low-lying black fog, they would sweep up to darkened houses and burst through the doors with a flurry of Curses and Hexes. Destruction and havoc erupted around him everywhere he looked, and Harry felt… pleased. He would try to fight down the nauseating horror that bubbled up at this realization, but couldn’t suppress the strange feeling of elation and satisfaction at what his fellow Death Eaters had wrought.

 

These dreams always seemed to end the same way, and Harry would feel his dread and disgust growing even as the foreign feeling of glee reached its peak.

 

People would be dragged before him: pajama-clad and wild-eyed, sometimes crying, or screaming, or kicking, or numbly mute. And then he would raise his hand, sickly white and wielding an all-too-familiar wand, and a voice that sent chills down his spine would murmur: “Avada Kedavra!”

 

Harry would see the flash of terror in their eyes, just like Cedric, and then that bloodcurdling laugh… Voldemort’s laugh, would issue from his own mouth until he awoke in a cold sweat.

 

After a week of these dreams, Harry felt like he was losing his mind. It was the guilt, he reasoned. He felt guilty over Cedric’s death, rightly so. Wasn’t he the one that encouraged the other boy to take the Cup as well, so they could win together? Wasn’t it his fault that Cedric ended up in that graveyard, and his parents no longer had their beloved son? 

 

So it only made sense that he was dreaming of actually being Voldemort and killing other innocents with his own hand. They were connected, weren’t they? They weren’t just bound by fate and the twin cores of their wands… Harry’s own blood had been used to return Voldemort to the flesh. He was complicit in Voldemort’s return, and therefore responsible for the many murders the villain had already committed in his newly formed body. If he had only been more clever, if only he hadn’t gotten caught in that stupid trap, Voldemort would still be lurking in shadows, unable to wreck such havoc on the world.

 

Even though these dreams were just his imagination running wild, surely they were representative of what Voldemort was actually doing. With each dreamed murder, and the confusing joy that accompanied them, Harry felt himself slipping a little further from his sense of reality and sense of self. 

 

During the day, he felt less like ‘Harry’ too. His moods felt volatile and unpredictable, even to himself. 

 

Most often he felt numb - that was honestly ideal. He would go about his chores as if in a daze, nodding blankly at Petunia’s shrill commands and muttering quiet apologies to Vernon’s tirades without really hearing them. His emotions would feel far away, but at least that way they didn’t feel so hard to bear.

 

Worse was when he was suddenly overcome with inexplicable waves of anger. A red haze seemed to come over his vision, and he couldn’t stop himself from lashing out at anything or anyone that crossed his path. Those were the most dangerous days… if he wasn’t careful, that strange anger would provoke him into violent shouting matches with Vernon that never ended well. Harry was still nursing bruises from those encounters.

 

It therefore came as a great relief when the nature of his dreams shifted once more. Gone were the nightmares of the graveyard or the imagined Death Eater raids. Instead, bizarrely, he found himself waking up in his own bed. As if puppeted by invisible strings, Harry would get up, fully dressed, and put on his glasses. Walking down the stairs, he often found the Dursleys as they would be in reality: Petunia standing at the stove and shouting at him to hurry up, Dudley staring dumbly at the television while he shoveled bacon and eggs into his mouth, and Vernon unfolding a newspaper and waving an empty coffee cup in Harry’s direction expectantly.

 

But he never responded to them. He would walk straight out the front door and stand in the lawn, looking at the immaculate flower beds and trimmed grass of Number Four, and then turning slowly to gaze up at the street sign. His eyes would fixate there, and as if drawn magnetically to its gleaming metal surface and crisply printed letters:

 

PRIVET DRIVE

 

These dreams would always end the same way: a smug feeling of satisfaction that, while seemingly innocuous, always left Harry waking with a sense of deep unease.