Characters: Harry Potter, Petunia Dursley
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 800 words
Summary: All that you can't think about your whole life sometimes rushes through your mind in mere minutes.
Dedication: Harry Potter. ♥
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
Harry watched the clock in his room as it ticked away the time until midnight.
In less than three minutes, he would be a fully-grown wizard, able to perform magic away from Hogwarts. There were other benefits to being an adult in the wizarding world, of course, but none of them mattered during these dark days. The fact that he was eligible to vote didn't do him any good now that there was a Dark Lord threatening to rend the foundations on which their world was built. If Voldemort won, there would be no more elections. The fact that he was able to go and find work didn't matter much. No one would hire a man marked for death, death for nothing other than having been born to his parents on 31st July. Harry suppressed a humourless chuckle. He supposed that that wasn't quite right anymore -- since being born he'd done a few things, besides existing, to incur Voldemort's wrath.
In less than two minutes, he would finally be able to say good-bye to this cheerless house with its inhabitants. These people were supposed to have been his family, but they never even tried. Harry reckoned he should have felt worse about it than he did, but it couldn't be helped: he disliked his relatives. At the same time, he felt just a twinge of gratitude to his Aunt Petunia for agreeing to keep him safe all these years. She had clearly disliked him all his life, yet she gave him the protection he needed. It was like she had been doing one last, protracted favour to her long-dead sister. Harry was almost sneering now: shortly, Aunt Petunia wouldn't have to bear her terrible burden any longer.
In less than a minute, he would no longer be protected by the powerful blood magic invoked on the house by Dumbledore. He suppressed a pang of a mixed-up, heady feeling in his chest: grief, guilt, loss. Grief that was still raw, not just for Dumbledore, but for Cedric, Sirius and everyone else who had lost their lives in this new war. Guilt for all the times he'd thought ill of his former headmaster. The sense of loss was the most acute: Dumbledore had been the only adult who had taken Harry's concerns seriously, who had taught Harry a lot more than he had ever learned during lessons. Harry didn't like the word "mentor" because only storybook heroes had mentors who died before the adventure was over. He didn't want to think about himself as a storybook hero.
"Happy birthday, Harry," said Hermione, who had been sitting on the bed between Ron and Harry, holding their hands as they waited.
Harry merely nodded, offering her a weak smile. He had expected some sort of sign that the magic that had protected the house was gone, but everything was just the same as before. The only sounds that cut through the deep silence were the steady ticking of the clock and Uncle Vernon's snores from beyond the wall. Harry had dreamed of the day when he would leave this house for ever so many times that it didn't seem real now that it had come. He could use magic against them now, but he supposed they had forgotten all about that. If they hadn't, they wouldn't have gone to sleep until he was out of the house. As tempting as it was to hit his fat cousin Dudley with a good Leg-Locker Curse, Harry didn't want the first bit of magic he did as an adult to be violent. There would be enough violent magic in his life from this day forth.
Suddenly getting an idea, Harry got up off the bed and crouched down beside his trunk. He pulled out his quill, an inkpot, and a roll of parchment. He quickly scribbled a few lines onto the parchment, then pulled out his wand.
A large bouquet of flowers lay atop Petunia Dursley's gleaming kitchen counter. Petunia was considered a bit of a neighbourhood authority on all things floral, yet she'd never seen flowers like these before. There were all colours of the rainbow here, with petals shaped like half-moons and stars. A roll of parchment lay propped against the bouquet. With shaky hands, Petunia picked it up and unrolled it.
Dear Aunt Petunia,
Thank you for everything.
Petunia laid the parchment back down on the counter. From the bouquet, she picked out a white flower that looked somewhat like a lily. She inhaled the fresh scent of the blossom and closed her eyes. In her mind's eye, she could see her sister smirking, as if to say, "not such a bad boy, is he?" Petunia put down the flower and picked up the parchment again. She traced her fingers over the boy's signature -- nearly incomprehensible chicken scratch -- and spoke, startling even herself with how shaky her voice sounded in the empty kitchen.
"Happy birthday, Harry Potter."