It had been almost ten years since Harry Potter was dropped off the Dursley's doorstep. Since then, Harry was put to the cupboard under the stairs for the rest of his life. Harry's life was filled with misery. Not a day went by that he wasn't pinched by his cousin Dudley or beaten up by his Aunt or Uncle.
He kept thinking of a way to somehow escape them, kept expecting someone to show up magically and take him away. But Harry was growing up. He knew the day would come when his silly childhood fantasies would stop but until then, he kept hoping.
On the day of his cousin's birthday, something happened. He wasn't taken off the Dursley's hands however, that would come on a later date.
Harry had just stepped out of his cupboard when his cousin, Dudley, pushed him back in. Dudley laughed at him for a while and waddled to the kitchen, leaving Harry stuck at the cupboard. His aunt came to call him moments later and told him to get his ungrateful behind to the kitchen to cook breakfast. Harry made his way to the kitchen without much of a fuss and greeted his uncle with a good morning. Uncle Vernon just shouted at Harry, telling him to comb his hair which was his way of a morning greeting.
Harry's eyes strayed to the pile of Dudley's gifts and thought they might contain all the things he'd been asking his parents for since last Christmas. He wasn't jealous by any means but the thought of receiving presents on your birthday didn't hurt. The only things he got on his birthday were chores.
It wasn’t after a few minutes that Aunt Petunia and Dudley returned to the kitchen. She was covering her son’s eyes with her hands as she guided him towards the table.
"Well? Isn't it wonderful sweetums?"She said after removing her hands.
"How many are there?" Dudley asked.
"Thirty-six!" answered his father cheerfully, "Counted them myself."
Dudley's face fell. "Thirty-six?"
"You forgot to count your Aunt Marge's present. It's under the big one from mummy and daddy." Petunia said.
"Alright. Thirty-seven." Dudley grumbled. Harry saw a tantrum coming on so he just kept flipping the bacon and cracked some eggs in case Dudley turned the table over. Petunia must have seen it coming too because she said quickly. "And we'll buy you two new presents. How's that popkin?"
"So I'll have thirty….thirty….." Dudley said slowly. He actually looked like he was in pain.
"Thirty-nine, sweetums."Petunia said sweetly.
"Oh…"Dudley said and grabbed a nearby parcel.
Harry sighed in relief when he realized that Dudley was calm for now. He ate his breakfast quickly, hoping his aunt didn't notice that he took an extra strip of bacon, and proceeded to wash the dishes. Then he went outside to do some weeding, as his aunt had told him to do countless of times before. It was almost his morning routine.
He positioned himself in front of some flowerbeds and started searching for weeds. While he was picking out some, his thoughts drifted off to his life so far.
He was almost eleven years old. That meant that it was almost ten years since he was dropped off on his Aunt and Uncle's doorstep. He asked his relatives about the reason why his parents weren't there and they bluntly said that they were dead and they were never going to come back for him. That he should just accept his fate and get on with his chores.
They said that they died in a car crash but Harry did not believe them. How did a blinding green light and a malicious fit of laughter fit in to a car crash?
Harry shrugged and pulled out the last of the weeds. At least his Aunt and Uncle were sending him off to a boarding school. The only problem was his allowance. He doubted the Dursleys would provide him with anything. He was sure that they would expect him to get a job.
"I think I can find a job…"
Harry looked up from the flowerbed and he saw a sudden distortion from the space near the tree. For a minute, Harry thought that someone had been there. But then, he reminded himself, that it might just be him getting dizzy from the smell of pesticides and pollen.
He thought nothing of it but then he kept hearing voices behind him and a few leaves rustling. He turned his head and the voices stopped. What was going on? When he focused his attention back on the flowerbed, the voices started back up again. Maybe he had officially gone crazy...
'I'm tellin' ye, 'es the one. See tha'?'
'Kinda scrawny for the-'
'Shh! Ye dun' wan' everyone knowin' 'bout 'im, do ye? Shu' yer mouth'
Harry turned around and for a brief moment, he saw a huge shape behind a tree before it vanished into thin air. He thought he could hear someone whisper, 'Now you've done it!'. It was at this point that he stopped trying to pick weeds and went back inside to do his indoor chores, too shaken up about what happened outside.
"Boy! Get the ruddy mail!" UncleVernon barked over breakfast a few days later. Harry left his place in the corner of the kitchen and went to the door. He knew better than to argue with his uncle. He picked up the stack of letters on the floor and cycled through them. He knew nothing in there would be of interest to him but it was just his curiousity that kept him shuffling the letters in his hands.
He eventually found his way to the very last one and his heart stopped when he saw whom it was addressed to.
Mr. H. Potter
The Cupboard Under the Stairs
4 Privet Drive
Harry's heart started to work again but it was beating quickly and was hammering inside his chest, it almost felt like it would burst out at any given minute.
He looked around if anyone was looking at him, which was unlikely, since everyone else in the house were in the kitchen. He drew a shaky breath and turned his attention back to the letter in his hands. With shaking hands, he flipped it over and saw a red stamp with a letter 'H' on it with a lion, a snake, a badger, and an eagle.
Harry was beginning to panic now. He had no friends at school. He didn't have relatives. He wasn't involved in any clubs that might send him oficial looking letters like this. And this certainly wasn't from the library because, even if they did send letters like this, he never did anything to them. He never borrowed a book from them, let alone read one.
"Hurry up with the mail boy!" Uncle Vernon barked from the kitchen.
It startled Harry out of his thoughts and he quickly arranged the Dursleys' letters in one hand and he held the letter adressed to him with the other. He made a stop on his cupboard and slipped the letter under the cot that he slept in, then proceeded to the kitchen.
"About time when you arrive!" Vernon told him when he placed the letters on the table. He didn't say anything to him and retreated to the sink where a mountainous pile of dishes waited for him. After doing the dishes, he did his chores and a few additional ones from his aunt every now and then while Dudley kept throwing small stones at him.
Harry didn't pay much attention to his mounting exhaustion as he only had the thought of his letter occupying his mind.
After nightfall, when he was finally allowed to go inside, he immediately went inside his cupboard, not even bothering to eat dinner which consisted of a few slices of bread and cheese.
He groped under his makeshift bed for his letter and once he found it, he opened it and read,
HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY
Headmaster: ALBUS DUMBLEDORE
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc.,Chf. Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards')
Dear Mr. Potter
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on September 1. We await your owl by no later than July 31.
Harry sat there, shocked at the letter's contents. What was this? Was this the Dursley's idea of a prank? If it was, then it was not funny at all.
He felt dizzy as he reread the letter again and again. After he felt like he had had enough of the piece of parchment, he peeked inside the other contents inside the envelope. He found the list about the requirements and he felt his stomach churn at the length.
Harry made up his mind this was all just a joke when he saw the words, 'wand', broomstick' and 'spellbooks' on the list. This was all so stupid...
He was about to throw the letter into a trash bin when a last piece of parchment fell out of the envelope. He picked it up and read it.
Dear Mr. Potter,
We understand your predicament and we, the Hogwarts staff, will help you with all your educational needs as well as your expenses, understanding that you are an orphan.
We treat children like you with this gift. We will purchase all of your belongings with the SCHOOL'S FUND and all we ask of you is to be serious in your studies.
A teacher will come by and fetch you this coming weekend. Please be prepared by nine o'clock in the morning.
Harry stared at the letter.
They were prepared to pay for his education and buy his requirements! And what's more, they were having somebody to come and meet him this weekend!
James Potter smiled as his beautiful red headed wife came to join him at the table. He sipped his coffee quietly as he watched her flip through the pages of her notebook.
Lily looked up from the notebook and noticed James' stare. She smiled at him and continued to flip through the pages.
"Lily, relax. We've still got a month till the term starts. We'll be starting the lessons with reviews, anyway." James said to his wife.
Lily didn't look up at him when she answered. "I know. But it can't hurt to be prepared right?"
James didn't reply and instead, kept sipping on his coffee mug. They were teachers at Hogwarts. Lily was a Charms teacher for the first to third years while Flitwick taught the higher years and he was a Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher... partly. He was mostly just a subsitute to the DADA teachers but he still lived at the castle with his wife during the school year. McGonagall, being a close friend of theirs, offered them their positions at Hogwarts, to keep their mind off of... Harry.
James rubbed his face with his palms and sighed. Thinking about his son was always so painful.
Lily looked up when she heard him sigh. "Something wrong, sweetheart?"
"Hm?" James said. "It's nothing. Just..."
The rest of his sentence faded away when he saw Lily staring straight into his eyes. She always made him feel like he was being x-rayed whenever she looked like that. Yep, he knew what an x-ray was. Lily taught him.
James tried looking away from her emerald orbs and stared at the floor. Lily got up from her seat and went towards him. She placed her arms around his neck from behind his chair and asked, "What is it?"
James sighed again and tried not to look into her eyes. "It's... I'm thinking about... about... him."
Lily's eyes widened and her grip on James's shoulders loosened.
"I'm sorry..." James said as he stroked his wife's hands. Unshed tears glistened in her eyes as she stared at the back of his head. If it was painful for James to remember their only child, then it was torture for Lily.
She blamed herself everyday and for a year after that Halloween night, she cried almost every night for their sweet little boy, clutching his old clothes that still smelled like him. It tore his heart when he saw her in that state.
He tried convincing her to try and have another but she refused. Even up to this day, she still grieved for Harry.
And yet, James couldn't stop himself from saying, "It's been ten years... he would have been eleven by the end of the month..."
The tears that Lily held back, streamed down her cheeks as she buried her face into her husband's neck and sobbed. James stroked her hair.
"He would've been old enough to go to Hogwarts..." James said. He hated himself for doing so, as he was only adding more pain to his wife's suffering.
Lily clutched him tightly as she cried onto him. James murmured soft words to her as he stroked her hair again and again.
"It's... it's not fair..." she sobbed.
"I know... I know..." James murmured.
"He... he was-he was too y-young... it's not f-fair..."
"I know..." James repeated and he hugged Lily tightly. "I'm sorry for bringing this up..."
Lily sniffled and buried her head in his shoulders.
"I'm so sorry..." James looked up. I'm so sorry Harry... I failed you..
He kissed the top of his wife's head and stroked her hair but this time, he couldn't stop the tear that escaped from his eye...