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Harry Potter and the ? (Chamber of Secrets)

By Aly Cantrell

Fantasy

THE WORST BIRTHDAY EVER


After dinner they all turned in for an early night. They were all eager to start Harry’s second year the next morning. Remus and Sirius decided to stay over again, they most likely would until this whole thing was over with, not that anyone else had a problem with that.

Next morning saw Lily and Harry in the kitchen, Lily at the stove and Harry at the table, with the three other boys and the baby goofing off in the living room. Lily and Harry were talking about nothing, just enjoying each other’s company.

The boys were still speculating what else had happened in their future, and making some notes on a bit of parchment so they wouldn’t forget some of the details.

Then the alarm went off, signalling someone had just apparated onto their property.

They all reacted in an instant, Lily and Harry coming into the other room, while Remus quickly stuffed the parchment in between the sofa cushions.

James already had baby Harry in his lap, so he took hold of his other son’s arm, and began toting them both upstairs.

“At least try to act normal-” he heard Lily telling them.

No sooner had they reached the upstairs landing than they could hear the front door opening. While James could guess who it was by the welcoming tones from his friends, they had all previously decided not to take any chances on Peter freaking out and doing something, so they’d come up with this plan.

Pushing the door to baby Harry’s room open, James set his infant son down into his cradle, then used his wand to tap on a precise blank spot on the wall on the opposite side of the room.

A panel opened up, and James tossed the invisibility cloak to Harry, saying “Stay out of sight no matter what, okay? You can take the cloak off when Remus comes to get you, and he’s going to say the moment he steps in the room, ‘Okay cub, who wants carrots?’ Got it?”

Harry nodded quickly, throwing the cloak over himself. James paused for a moment to make doubly sure no bit of Harry could be seen, then he took his baby back up in his arms and made his way out of the room, cooing loudly to him.

Harry only lasted ten minutes in the room before the curiosity won out. Tiptoeing as quietly as possible, he made his way out of the baby’s room, and crept down the stairs, stopping half way so he could just peek into the living room below.

Why he was doing this, he couldn’t even explain fully to himself. It was a feeling though, the same one he had upon first meeting everyone in this house. Seeing his parents for the first time, he’d felt longing. He knew he had never met these people before, and he was eager to learn all he could about them now. Then after that initial feeling, it had faded to be replaced by his empty memories that were slowly being filled in.

With Remus and Sirius, it had been the same, but different. He felt sad. Not like he’d never met them before and wanted to, but like he had only known them briefly in his life and wanted to spend more time with them. Again, that feeling had faded, and he could only recall it when he stressed himself late last night lying in bed and trying to understand the jumble of his life.

This Peter, somehow he just knew he would have another feeling when he met him. He was hoping that his parents were wrong, and that one of his dad’s old friends had survived, and Harry would meet him and feel a sense of connection to him like he had with his other two friends.

Then he laid eyes on the man.

Hatred. He had disliked Snape from the moment he’d heard his name, he did not like the Dursleys, but when he saw the profile of Peter Pettigrew, he felt a burning desire to curse him right there on the spot. Sadly, like meeting the others, the feeling faded away as soon as he recognized what it was, and he was left staring blankly at what could possibly be another uncle to him.

He was sitting on the sofa, bouncing the baby around in his arms and talking to all of his family. They all seemed happy, without a care in the world. Harry noticed at once though, that the books containing his life were absent. Peter didn’t look confused or upset about anything, which meant that they must not have told him about adult Harry yet.

He didn’t know why, but decided not to reveal himself before they decided otherwise. So he crept back up to his room, and waited patiently.

After at least an hour, Remus came in and said the pass code, and Harry took off the cloak and handed it to him. Remus walked over and put the cloak away like James had taken it out, and Harry briefly wondered if you just had to know where that spot was, or if it was specific to certain wands?

He didn’t ask, and instead walked down to see that there wasn’t anyone new in the room. “Where’s Peter?” He asked.

James and Sirius exchanged an odd look, before Sirius said “We asked him, kind of joking, if he had time to stick around for a week, and that we had something really important to show him.”

“Then he brushed us off.” James said, looking more upset by the minute. “Said he didn’t have time right now, ask him again next month. Next month! Can you believe that?”

“I asked him what was so important,” Remus said, rubbing his jaw and looking at the door with troubled eyes, “and he said he was just really busy, and changed the subject.”

“I asked him when he would be back around,” Lily added, “and he said he didn’t know.”

Harry was looking at all of their confused and hurt faces, and seriously considered telling them the feeling he’d had. What if he was wrong though? He may not have been yet, when it came to these odd gut feelings, but he didn’t want to start now, and stir up more trouble between this group. No, he finally decided, he would sit on this until he had a more definite reason.

“Do you think he was suspicious that I told him to write before he came back over?” Sirius asked, worrying his lip a bit, “I mean we reacted pretty well this time, but we were expecting him. Next time, Harry might not get upstairs fast enough, or…” he trailed off fidgeting a bit, then blurted, “anyone else feel like something’s wrong here?”

They all nodded, but couldn’t explain why they felt this way. Wanting dearly to change the subject, Harry asked “So, since we’ve already had breakfast, want to start the next book?”

After a bit of muttering, they did eventually agree, and all went back to their spots from yesterday.

“It’s my turn right?” Lily asked, waving her wand. The books appeared with a small pop right where they had been before. Lily picked up the one that had a large silver two on the side of it, and flipped it open, saying “I only hope it skips right to you at Ron’s place, or even better back at school. I don’t think I can stand seeing you being ignored and depressed.”

Harry pursed his lips and said nothing as his Mum started;

It was breakfast time at number four, Private Drive, and like most mornings there, a fight had broken out.

“What do they argue about? Who’s more awful?” Sirius asked.

Vernon Dursley was complaining quite loudly that he had been woken in the early hours because of a hooting, coming from his nephew Harry’s room.

“That’s odd.” James said, “why would Hedwig be hooting like that? Most owls are fairly quiet” he explained, forgetting half the time that his own owl sat perched in the living room.

He was ranting about how if Harry didn’t keep it under control, his owl would have to get!

“Try it,” Remus said dangerously “she’s not yours to give away, git.”

Harry tried to explain his pets case, saying that she hated being cooped up and if only they’d let her out at night,

“What does that mean?” Lily asked, narrowing her eyes dangerously.

Harry fidgeted for a moment, but recognized they were about to find out anyway, so admitted “they were locking her up. I had to keep her cage on top of a bin, and I could only feed her what I nicked from the table.”

“They have no shame do they!” Sirius spluttered, “They can’t lock you up in that cupboard anymore, so they lock up the defenseless animal!”

“She could die that way!” Remus growled. “Animals can’t be kept in captivity like that without suffering from depression, and death if it goes on long enough!”

“Magical owls especially,” Lily agreed. “They’re more intelligent than your run of the mill owl, so if you keep them locked up, they’ll die even sooner!”

Harry felt a deep, gut wrenching pain for Hedwig all of a sudden, for one brief second he was sure that she had died. Then he shook it off, and said quietly “Please keep going Mum.”

They all still looked furious, but Lily simply decided to keep going.

Vernon snapped if he thought Harry was stupid,

“I don’t need to see him to know the answer to that” James grumbled.

because he knew what would happen if he let the owl out.

“It’ll live, oh the horror” Remus growled.

He then exchanged a dark look with his wife Petunia. Harry tried to say something more, but then his cousin Dudley belched loudly and demanded more food. Petunia responded at once, saying he could have as much as he liked, because she didn’t like the sound of that school food he’d been eating.

“Yeah, cause they limit it” Harry muttered.

Seeing as Dudley was so big that either side of his bottom drooped over both sides of the chair he was sitting on, Harry didn’t really share her opinion.

“That’s disgusting” Sirius gagged.

Dudley turned to Harry and told him to pass the frying pan, and Harry sniped back that he hadn’t said the magic word. The Dursleys reacted at once in the most dramatic way possible, Dudley slipped and fell out of his chair in shock, Petunia clapped her hand to her mouth to stop herself from screaming, and Vernon got to his feet, rage clear on his features.

“What, are manners that rare around there?” James demanded.

Harry tried to correct himself, saying he’d meant the word please, but Vernon was already shouting that Harry knew better then to say the M word in his house.

“The M word” Lily choked.

“That overreaction was because you said the word magic?” Remus demanded.

“They’re insane” Sirius said faintly.

Harry sighed, this was going to be a long chapter if his family was still shocked and upset by the Dursleys’ massive overreactions to anything he ever did.

Vernon was continuing to shout all the louder that how dare Harry threaten Dudley!

“I don’t get why he thought that was a threat?” Remus demanded.

“I wish someone would threaten him” James muttered.

Vernon refused to tolerate or even mention Harry’s abnormalities in this house!

“Do we get to talk about yours at least?” Remus pretended to ask politely.

Harry stared from Vernon’s rage hued face to Petunia who was still trying to haul Dudley back to his feet.

“Probably broke her back” Lily muttered.

Harry finally muttered that he was sorry, which vaguely pacified his uncle as he sat back down but continued to eye Harry with the height of dislike. This scene wasn’t so unusual either, as ever since Harry had come home for the summer holidays, the Dursleys’ had been treating him like a bomb that would go off at any second.

“Guess they took my threat of blowing up the house for real, and they’re just cautious of the wrong wizard” Sirius said brightly.

The truth was though that they were frightened of him, because Harry wasn’t like the rest of them at all. He was as far away from normal as it was possible.

“Really Harry, you’re not that weird,” Lily said, “you are far more normal than I would have given you credit for with a father like yours.”

“Oi!” James hooted, only pretending to look offended.

Harry Potter was a wizard, fresh from his first year at Hogwarts. The Dursleys’ distaste at having Harry back for the holidays was nothing compared to Harry’s feelings, though.

“I didn’t think this could get any more depressing then last time,” Remus sighed, “and I hate to be proven wrong.”

Harry missed his school so much it was like a constant ache upon him.

“I can sympathize” Sirius agreed. Sirius had mentioned his bad home life several times now, and Harry decided he would like to ask why, perhaps after this chapter.

He missed the castle, with every corridor holding a new secret, the friendly ghosts and all of his classes, though perhaps not his least favorite teacher Snape, who taught his least favorite class, Potions.

“Nobody ever misses him” James reassured him.

He missed even more his favorite sport Quidditch, which was played on broomsticks with six goals posts and four flying balls.

“We know what the game is, why did you explain it?” Remus asked.

“I didn’t, the book did” Lily said, shrugging.

Sadly Harry had no chance to use his own broom, or any of his magical supplies, as they had all been confiscated and shoved into the cupboard under the stairs the second he walked in the door by his Uncle.

“So many insults I want to say, I can’t decide where to start” Sirius groaned.

The Dursleys made it obvious they cared nothing if Harry lost his place on his house team if he didn’t stay in practice.

“Not even a remote possibility” James reassured when he saw how upset Harry was beginning to look.

What Harry didn’t mention was that, yes he was upset about all of these things, but what he felt most upset about was what he now remembered this day was. Uncle Vernon had yelled at Harry about his use of the ‘M’ word on his twelfth birthday. Up to this day, his two friends hadn’t written to him all summer.

For some reason though, he did remember something else odd happening on his birthday. Some kind of dinner party gets ruined? But the Dursley’s rarely even acknowledged his birthday, why would they throw him a whole party this year?

Deciding against forcing a memory he was sure his mother was fixing to read, he let her go on.

Nor did they even think on what Harry would have to deal with if he didn’t get the chance to do his school homework all summer. The Dursleys’ were referred to as Muggles by most wizards, people who had no magical blood, which they were as proud of as they would be ashamed if anyone found out they were housing a wizard.

“Having you in the family is a matter of deepest shame!” James snapped.

Lily bitterly remembered a time back when she would have yelled at James for saying something like that. Now she was going over the paperwork in her head that she would have to do so that Petunia Dursley would no longer be considered her sister. While, yes, she and her boys fully intended that their little baby Harry would never have to go through anything like this, she would rather be safe than sorry that Harry had ever gone to live there.

Vernon had even gone so far as to lock Harry’s owl, Hedwig, inside of her cage to stop her from carrying mail to anyone.

“Merlin forbid Harry be able to talk to anyone” Sirius grumbled.

“That’s not even how owl post works” Lily rolled her eyes, “Petunia knows that, because I wasn’t allowed to have an owl living with my parents, but I still got mail from my friends all the time.”

“Guess she didn’t tell her husband that” James cackled.

Harry looked nothing like the rest of the Dursleys’.

“And we thank Merlin for that” Remus said.

“Yeah, we just curse him that you have to look like these two” Sirius snickered.

“Better than looking like you” James snorted.

“Hey, who got all the girls at school?” Sirius said, clearly bringing up a familiar jab.

“Only ’cause my heart was bound for one!” James said dramatically.

“Heather Valson” Lily said without looking round at him.

James looked truly wounded as he defended “You will never let her go will you? I told you I only dated her to make you jealous, and-”

“Yes, yes” Lily rolled her eyes before reading on loudly.

While Vernon and Dudley housed the thicker side, Petunia was the opposite with a bony face and blonde hair. Harry on the other hand was merely thin, with jet black, flyaway hair that only just covered his lightning shaped scar across his forehead. This scar led him to be stood out even from the wizard population though. He had gotten it at the age of a year old,

“Oh bloody hell” all three boys groaned “Harry why are you thinking about this right now?”

Harry sighed, “I think about this a lot, sorry.”

Lily tried to keep her tone as normal as possible as she read.

by Lord Voldemort, a powerful dark wizard who had successfully murdered both of Harry’s parents eleven years ago, but when he’d turned his wand on Harry, he had vanished, and no one understood why, leading Harry’s name to go up in fame.

“I’ll admit, that’s odd enough any kid would think about it a lot” Remus agreed.

Now orphaned, Harry had been brought to live with his dead mother’s sister, Petunia and her family, where he was brought up.

“Brought up is putting it loosely though” James muttered darkly.

He’d spent the first ten years of his life believing a lie the Dursleys had told him that his parents had actually been killed in a car accident,

Lily didn’t stop as her three boys started muttering obscenities at this lie all over again, she kept reading, hoping Harry would get distracted soon so he wouldn’t think about this much longer.

but then Hagrid had appeared, the Hogwarts gamekeeper, and the whole story came out. Harry had gone to the best year of his life at Hogwarts, but now the summer holidays had rolled around and he was back to being treated like a dog by their hands.

“I’ve known dogs treated better than you were” Remus said in disgust.

“I can’t decide if that was a crack at me or not?” Sirius asked, which Remus ignored.

The Dursleys hadn’t even remembered that today was Harry’s twelfth birthday.

“Great, just what I wanted, for Harry to get another birthday ignored. What are the odds Hagrid shows up again on this day?” James asked without any real hope.

Harry shook his head sadly from side to side, but said “I think something odd does happen that day, but I can’t remember,” he told them honestly, forcing his hand to remain at his side rather than start rubbing his temple again.

Lily decided to take this as a good sign and read the next part sadly.

Seeing as the Dursleys had ignored all of his previous birthdays, Harry had no hope this would change today, but then Vernon surprised him by clearing his throat and declaring that this was a very important day.

“Bloody hell, did Vernon get replaced?” James asked.

“Don’t question it, be thankful and hope it lasts” Remus said.

Harry looked up and around in shock, not really believing it, and rightfully so when Vernon continued by saying that tonight was a big deal in his career.

“Well, it was a nice thought while it lasted” Remus sighed.

“Hope the deal goes belly up” Sirius muttered.

Harry turned back to his food with disinterest. Of course Vernon was talking about the stupid dinner party.

“Oh!” Harry said.

“What?” Lily asked, looking concerned.

“I remembered a dinner party for some reason, but I knew it couldn’t be for me. Guess now I know” he answered with a shrug.

Lily didn’t look very happy that Harry seemed to shrug this off so easily.

Harry however, was still thinking that something odd happened on his birthday, now he was thinking it was something bad. What though?

Vernon’s company made drills, and some rich builder was looking to come over tonight and make some deals.

“I can only hope they’re as disgusted with these Dursleys as we are, and run at a moment’s notice” Sirius said.

“And take Harry with them” James added.

Vernon was still addressing the rest of the family, remind them of what time they’d be here, and prompting them of where they’d be placed. Petunia was to be waiting in the living room, and Dudley was supposed to open the door for them while offering to take their coats.

“I want to retch at the very thought” Remus muttered.

Petunia exclaimed that they would love her son.

“Sure, if they’re dumb, deaf, and dolts!” Sirius laughed.

Vernon nodded his agreement before turning nastily back on Harry and snapping at where Harry was supposed to be. Harry responded back blankly that he’d be in his room, making no noise and pretending he didn’t exist.

“Best place to be honestly,” Lily said, fighting back another wave of anger, “I wouldn’t want you to have to deal with them anymore then you normally have to.”

Vernon went back to addressing his family then, and Petunia declared when she’d have dinner ready, and Dudley pretended to escort the woman, Mrs. Mason, to their dining table while offering his arm.

“I feel like if she touches him, she’ll come away with a grease covered hand” Remus joked.

Petunia praised him for being a gentleman,

“I was wrong, she’s blonde, blind, and full of bollocks” Sirius cackled.

while Vernon once again reminded Harry of where he’d be, which he again repeated he’d be locked away in his room.

“How many times is he going to make you say that?” James demanded.

“I think one more time” Harry said honestly.

“Honestly, my birthdays were better than that” Sirius said in disgust.

Vernon went back to talking to his family, prompting any compliments before hand.

“You have to prepare for compliments?” Lily demanded.

“Well, since I’m sure they can’t think of anything nice to say on the spot, I’m going with yes” James offered.

Petunia pretend to compliment Mr. Mason’s golfing skills she’d heard from Vernon, and then switched to talking about Mrs. Mason’s dress.

Then Dudley added in that they’d have to do an assignment at school about heroes, and Dudley had written it about Mr. Mason.

All four boys in the room cracked up laughing at that, not bothering to hide their mirth one bit at this pompous gits over play.

Harry lost it, he had to duck under the tale for a moment so no one would see him laughing, but his mirth didn’t get to last long as Vernon once again turned to Harry and demanded what the boy would be doing.

“I knew it” Sirius grumbled.

Remus turned to look at him, “knew what?” he asked.

“I noticed it last time,” Sirius huffed, “but have any of you heard any of them call Harry by his actual name? They just always call him boy whenever they can!”

Any traces of amusement were gone from the room as they all came to this stunning conclusion.

Harry was simply surprised Sirius had been the one to notice this, it hadn’t ever really occurred to him.

“I’m sorry I ever called you that” James said at once, mentally berating himself every time he had said ‘that’s my boy’ or anything like it.

“Don’t be,” Harry replied easily, “you guys don’t mean it the same way they do, and so it doesn’t bother me when you do it.”

They all still looked genuinely annoyed at yet another tid-bit of those foul Dursleys’ treatment of their boy, but Lily finally came-to enough to read on.

Harry had to fight hard to keep a straight face as he reemerged and once again recited that he would be pretending not to exist for the night out of sight. Vernon finally acknowledged that Harry had better be right, because the Masons didn’t know he existed,

“Wish I didn’t know anything about you” Lily muttered.

and he didn’t want that to change. Then he went back to talking to his proper family, saying how if things went properly tonight, they’d be looking for a new vacation home in Majorca by tomorrow.

“Just out of curiosity, would they have brought you, or left you home, or…?” James trailed off.

Harry frowned, and said “I’ve no idea, for some reason they don’t go, I think I did something to mess this up, but I can’t rememb-”

“Stop right there.” Remus said forcefully, at Harry’s surprised and almost hurt look, he continued, “No one believes for one second you would do anything intentionally to mess this up for them, so don’t you go saying it was your fault. I’m sure they just blamed it on you after the fact, and that’s what you’re remembering.”

Harry hesitated, but nodded at him all the same. He wanted very much to believe him, but there was something he really couldn’t remember. Someone maybe?

Harry’s enthusiasm didn’t go up at all upon hearing this, figuring the Dursleys wouldn’t have any more interest in him on an island. Vernon then declared he was going out to get clothes for tonight’s dinner, and told Harry to stay out of his aunt’s way.

“Really? Cause the way I hear it, he just stomps through the house with muddy shoes all the time, and I think that would make it far easier.” James growled, he couldn’t stand the way this man talked to his son.

Harry slunked out the backdoor into the sunlight backyard and shuffled over to a stone bench, staring vacantly into a bush and beginning to sing happy birthday to himself.

“Okay, that almost made me cry” Sirius said, wanting to get up and hug the boy.

“Don’t” Harry said quickly.

This got a weak smile out of them at Harry’s expression, but not much else at this depressing thought.

So far, he hadn’t received any cards or presents celebrating the fact,

“I’m sure they just haven’t gotten there yet” James said bracingly, as Harry looked truly upset by this turn of events.

Harry wanted to mutter, ‘no, someone didn’t let them through’, but stopped himself before that could slip out. Who on earth would be stopping his mail? And, for that matter, why?

With no answers and the beginnings of a pounding headache already, he simply agreed and Lily kept reading.

and he didn’t see it happening. The one thing Harry missed desperately from his school days, was the friends he’d made, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.

“Agreed, letters just don’t always cover that feeling” Sirius said sadly.

James and Remus looked a little guilty, but both had their reasons why they couldn’t have their friend over to their houses for at least some of the summer. Sirius never seemed to hold this against them, he understood those reasons.

Lily felt a growing sense of depression. Not for Harry, that had already been there since the first chapter of the last book, but for Sirius. She had thought through most of school that, as bigheaded as James was, maybe if he wasn’t egged on by his best friend so much, he wouldn’t be that bad. Sometimes she hated Sirius Black more than James. Now, she both regretted and felt depressed for ever thinking so bad of him, when it was clear his home life had been almost as bad as Harry’s. Sure she had heard a few snide comments from Sirius now and again, but like Harry it seemed, the man had never bothered going into full details, at least not with her.

She hadn’t realized she had been staring at him so long, until James said loudly “Earth to Lily, are you done ogling my friend? Honestly, any other husband would be jealous long before now!”

Lily snorted and tore her eyes away, back to the book saying “Not in this lifetime.”

His friends however, didn’t seem to be missing him much, as he hadn’t received one scrap of paper from them all summer.

“What?!” They all yelped in shock.

“Lily, you must have read that wrong” James said, craning around Harry to get a look.

“No.” Lily snapped, her shock turning to anger at once, then she rounded on Harry and said, “Why not? Hermione I can believe, she might not have an owl being from a muggle family, but Ron must!”

Harry was frowning, running his hand through his hair as he said slowly “They, something’s wrong, someone-” then he broke off, his eyes scrunching up in pain.

“Okay,” Remus breathed, “alright, you can’t answer. We understand.”

Harry nodded and leaned back into the couch, looking frustrated.

“I’m sure there’s a reason,” Sirius said at once, “you don’t get friends like that and then they don’t write.”

Lily nodded, feeling rather foolish for blowing up so easily. She was just on edge, fearing they were going to spend far too long with Harry at the Dursleys’, and that made her almost as anxious as thinking of him back in front of a three headed dog. Speaking of, she quickly changed the subject to help relax her son fully “I meant to ask Harry, what ever happened to Fluffy? He doesn’t need to be guarding the Stone anymore.”

It worked, and Harry broke out into a smile saying, “I asked Hagrid that before I left last year. He said he released him into the forest.”

The three Marauders looked like someone had just told them their best friend died.

“You don’t mean the Forbidden Forest, you know, behind Hogwarts?” James said, waiting for Harry to laugh at him at any moment.

“Yes,” he said, wondering why his father would say it like that “how many other forests could he be released into?”

“I am so done with my life” Sirius groaned, placing his head into his hands.

Lily looked pityingly at them, but couldn’t think of anything else to do but read.

Ron had promised to ask Harry to come around to his place during the holidays, but he seemed to have forgotten about Harry entirely. There were a number of times where Harry wanted more then anything to break open Hedwig’s cage by magic and send a letter to him, but that would draw the attention of the Ministry of Magic, who had strict rules about no magic around muggles.

“Guessing you don’t know how to pick locks the muggle way then?” Remus asked sadly.

“No.” Harry said honestly, having an odd vision of a redhead doing this very thing, but it was gone before he could hold onto it, so he asked “Why, do you?”

“Yep,” James said happily, “Peter taught us.”

Lily decided she’d rather like her son to learn this skill. Most wizards didn’t think of the muggle ways when magic proofing stuff, so this could come in handy for much more than opening the poor owl’s cage.

Then she realized what she was thinking, and she felt more chagrined than anything that these trouble makers were rubbing off on her.

Harry had neglected to tell the Dursleys this fact,

Lily frowned in real confusion, because Petunia should have known this. After all she’d grown up with her sister constantly reminding her that she wasn’t to do magic, so why hadn’t she obviously not told the others? Was it possible she was still in such deep denial she didn’t have a sister at all that she simply forgot this fact? It was all Lily could think of.

since he was positive it was their fear that if they tried to stuff Harry away in his cupboard again like he knew they wanted to, they would all wake up as dung beetles.

“If they ever shove you back in there again-” James began to threaten but Harry cleared his throat loudly and said “I can promise you, I wouldn’t fit in there anymore, so they can’t. I was just exaggerating that.”

“For some reason, that didn’t make any of us feel better” Sirius grumbled in disgust.

For a while Harry had abused this fact, enjoying the game of muttering nonsense under his breath and scaring Dudley out of the room, but the constant silence from his friends had even driven that fun away.

“I can’t believe I’m getting this depressed, and we’re not even halfway through the first chapter” Lily muttered.

At this point Harry would give almost anything just to get a message from Hogwarts, even from another school student he hated dearly, Draco Malfoy,

“Now that’s taking it a bit far,” Remus snorted, “why would you ever want to see that prat?”

Harry just shrugged, he had been feeling really desperate at the time.

just to know he hadn’t dreamed the whole thing up. Of course his first year at Hogwarts hadn’t been all fun, towards the end of the year he had come face-to-face with Lord Voldemort.

“And here I was hoping to try and not think about that for a whole minute,” James sighed, “now you’re thinking it for me.”

“Sorry” Harry said honestly.

Harry still had nightmares about that snakelike face, how he’d only narrowly escaped being murdered a second time.

Lily paused for a moment to lay a hand softly on Harry’s. He still looked truly upset by the matter, but she also understood that he didn’t want to talk about it now. He probably still wasn’t used to the idea that there were people around that he could talk to, that did care.

He’d been sitting around thinking so intently, that it took a moment for him to realize that the hedge he was staring into, was suddenly staring back.

“It did what?” James asked, thinking Lily had read that wrong.

“Think McGonagall decided to come back?” Remus asked, lips twitching in a smile.

Two green eyes were peering out through the leaves, blinked once, and before Harry could do a thing, vanished. Before Harry could react, he heard Dudley’s voice behind him,

“I guess I kind of agree,” Sirius said, giving the book an odd look, half cautious and feeling a bit paranoid for the caution, and half curious, “it might have just been a cat roaming around.”

saying that he knew what today was. Harry turned around, and made the sly comment back that he congratulated him on finally learning the days of the week.

James gave a slow clap of approval, saying “I always enjoy your wit son.”

Harry cracked a grin at him, finally distracted from what he was sure he had been fixing to remember. Yet trying to remember even a few hours later into that day were costing him dearly, his head pounding again at once.

Dudley ignored the jab and instead persisted that he knew it was Harry’s birthday, then mocked him for not having received any cards for the occasion. Further provoking him for asking aloud if Harry even had friends.

“More friends than you have” Sirius snapped, riling up at once.

“Perhaps he doesn’t even know what friend means” Remus snorted.

Harry snapped back that Dudley shouldn’t be letting his mom talk about his school. Dudley pulled his pants back up, which were slipping down on his overweight backside,

“We need to have a talk about vivid mental imagery, and when it’s going to make me sick” James gagged.

and instead asked Harry why he’d been staring into the hedge. Harry lied and said that he had been thinking of which spell he wanted to use to set it on fire.

Lily cracked a grin at this, happy to see Harry really was standing up to these people, and said to him “Remind me later and I can give you a few suggestions.”

All four boys cracked up laughing.

Dudley fell over his feet backing away in shock and fear as he stuttered that Harry wasn’t allowed, that Vernon told him it wasn’t allowed or he’d chuck him out. It wasn’t like Harry had anywhere else to go, no friends who would take him in- Harry cut him off by yelling out nonsense sense words in a forceful voice.

“Right in one!” Sirius crowed.

All of the adults couldn’t help feeling a sense of pleasure at Harry, happy to see him standing up to this bully.

Dudley panicked and ran back into the house, calling for his mom and telling her how Harry had been doing ‘you know what.’ Petunia was clearly furious, and even though neither Dudley nor the hedge had actually come to harm, she still seemed determined to punish Harry by aiming a frying pan at his head.

Lily paused, looking genuinely confused at what she read, so she reread that sentence. Twice. Then the book finally slipped from her fingers and made a thunk noise on the floor, which went unheard as it finally sunk in what she had said.

Harry tried, he really did, but they weren’t listening to him. They weren’t even yelling this time, which was the scariest part to him. They just kind of sat there with a look of stunned disbelief on their faces. Lily snapped out of it first, then calmly got to her feet and made towards the front door.

Harry stumbled to his feet after her, saying things like “She missed, she knew I was going to duck-” but Lily didn’t hear one jot of it. Then when she actually opened the front door and began walking to the barrier point where she could apparate and really kill Petunia Dursley, Harry bellowed at her “You promised!”

She froze. Wand in hand, red hair flying about in the cold October breeze, jaw twitching. She wasn’t angry anymore, she was far past that simple emotion. All she could see, over and over in her mind, was her little sister playing dolls with her, growing up to aim a frying pan at her own nephew’s head.

“She could have killed you” Lily whispered.

“But she didn’t,” Harry said, approaching her cautiously, “I- I don’t have any defense for her, or any of them. But you did promise, you said you would wait until these books are over, and they’re not. Mum, please, you have to believe me, if you leave this house, something bad is going to happen. I don’t know what, but I know it’s true. So you’ve just gotta wait until I’ve got all of my memories back. Please.”

He couldn’t help it, his voice broke on the last word. Why he was so sure of this fact, he’d no idea, but he had never been more positive of anything his whole life.

“Why could Peter leave then?” James asked.

Harry and Lily turned, and saw all three boys standing in the doorway. Harry sucked in a deep breath, shaking his head from side to side, “I don’t know. I just, it’s this feeling. I understand why you don’t trust me on that, but-”

He was cut off by his mother throwing her arms around him. She whispered in his ears “We do believe you. It’s just,” her voice broke off, but this time she nearly screamed, “she could have killed you!”

Harry winced, and rubbed his ear, but he honestly had nothing to say to that. Yes, but he had ducked. Yes, but so what? Yes, but no one would have believed him if he’d ever mentioned it, so why should he or anyone care?

For a very long time in his life, he’d had no answer to any of these questions, but as his mother released him, took his hand, and lead him back inside, he was beginning to wonder if he had found an answer.

Harry came back in to find that baby Harry was nowhere to be seen, and that the living room had been torn apart. Harry cast curious looks around at them, but none of them said a word. Lily simply waved her wand, and most of the damage was repaired at once, the only thing missing was that no fire returned to the fire place. Probably a good thing, since Harry decided to say “I’m warning you now. I think something bad happens tonight. I meant what I said earlier, I did something to ruin this dinner party, and I get in a lot of trouble for it. Plus, I know Aunt-”

“Don’t.” Lily snarled, her green eyes looked like they were about to light on fire as she spat. “Don’t you ever refer to them as any kind of family. Especially her.”

Harry nodded warily, wanting to take a step back from her, but quickly rephrased, “I know I’m going to pay dearly for messing with Dudley right then. Chores, I do lots of chores,” he frowned, but shrugged saying, “but I meant what I said. They never hit me, and I learned to duck a lot?”

“Was that supposed to make us feel better?” James finally spoke up, nobody paying any attention to the way his voice cracked.

Harry looked beseechingly at them, but had no response for that whatsoever.

Hastily trying to change the subject, he asked “Where did, er, the baby go?” He felt rather odd asking where himself went, but didn’t know how else to phrase it.

James eyed the ceiling for a moment before looking back down at Harry and saying “I took him to his room when Remus blew up the sofa he and Sirius were sitting on. Set up the baby with a playpen, forced myself not to jump out the window and follow through with what I knew Lily was thinking about doing. Then I came back down, saw that Sirius had set the carpet on fire-”

“By accident!” Sirius cut in.

“And then we put it out and realized you two were out front.”

Harry snorted, unable to help but be amused at what he considered an overreaction when they themselves had said the Dursleys had overreacted at breakfast. He decided against bringing that up.

Lily made her way back to the couch, muttering obscenities under her breath that weren’t making her feel any better. Then she picked up the book and started reading again.

The others made their way back to their spots as well, all of them more afraid and anxious then they had been when Harry had been in life threatening situations the year before, because they knew he was okay from those, as he had no permanent injuries. This though, this was something else, and just as awful. Harry had clearly suffered at their hands, more than any mountain troll could do to him. As Lily found her place and got started, they were all dreading what was to come.

Then Petunia put Harry to work, with the threat that he wouldn’t eat until it was all done.

“You and me are going to have a talk about how the Dursleys didn’t starve you” James snarled.

Harry just gave him a blank look, hoping his mother would get through this as fast as possible.

So Dudley spent the rest of the day lolling around eating ice cream while Harry did a multitude of chores in the hot sun, basically martinizing the whole of the house.

“What, you’re saying he couldn’t be bothered to clean every tile of the roof as well?” Sirius growled, almost shaking with rage by this point.

Harry now regretted having raised to Dudley’s bait, but he’d just been so angry when Dudley had said the very thing he’d been fearing himself, maybe he really didn’t have any friends...

Harry tried very hard not to be as upset now as he was then. He trusted his family when they said his friends must have a reason for not writing to him. He wanted to trust his own feelings that they really were his friends. It still hurt though, and the bad mood circling the room like a thick storm cloud wasn’t helping in keeping his spirits up much.

If only they could see him thought, Harry scowled as sweat continued to coat his body down his aching back.

“I can’t take much more of this” Remus vowed, leaning back in the seat and pressing his palms to his eye lids. This didn’t help much, since instead of seeing Harry in front of him, all he could keep picturing were these awful images Lily kept reading, so he quickly blinked the spots out of his eyes and listened.

It was nearly sunset by the time Petunia called him in.

Lily couldn’t help the shaking in her voice as she read that. He’d gone out there during breakfast! He might have passed out from heat stroke, or any number of things! He hadn’t eaten all day!

Harry looked desperately around the room, wishing he knew a sticking charm to keep the doors, and possibly the windows, closed. He knew Remus, or any of them, hadn’t been joking when they’d said they couldn’t take much more of this, and Harry had a nasty feeling they hadn’t even gotten to the worst part yet. He cast his mind around, trying to come up with a question for later to help keep them calm.

He stumbled into the shade of the kitchen, treading carefully on newspapers she’d set for him to step on so he wouldn’t track dirt in. Harry glanced around the kitchen to find several mouthwatering foods being set, including a gorgeous pudding piece, but sitting on the table for him was two slices of bread and a lump of cheese. Petunia told him to eat fast, as the Masons would be there soon.

Harry was surprised when no one interrupted his Mum this time, but one glance around and he guessed it was simply to do with the fact they wanted this horrid day to be over with, and thought not talking would help that along quicker.

Harry scarfed down his food faster then it was put in front of him, then he trudged his way up the stairs just as he heard the door being unlocked. Vernon had enough time to give Harry one more threat to keep silent, or he’d be sorry. Harry didn’t care though, he wanted nothing more then to collapse on his bed, but the problem was when he walked into his room, there was already someone sitting on it.

“What?” Sirius finally broke the long period of silence.

“I don’t care who it is, so long as they move off of Harry’s bed” James huffed.

“I do!” Lily snapped at once, “Harry, do you have any idea who it was?”

Harry sat puzzling over that for a moment before saying slowly “A friend? But I can’t remember, he’s not human-”

“We’ll take that for now” Remus reassured as Lily passed the book to James for his turn. James didn’t look very eager.


While I did seriously (Shut up Sirius!) consider keeping Peter in for just this book, I knew I wouldn’t keep him around for any but this one, and then there would be the whole ‘what happend in the last book’ and I didn’t want to either delay and have time out for him to read that by himself or them to explain stuff and, honestly, I don’t like Peter’s character that much. I’ve tried writing out something for him before, and I just couldn’t get his characterization right because I don’t have any kind of connection to him like I do the other four characters. In my other series, the After series as I refer to it, Peter will make more of an appearance and I’ll explore it a little more in there, but because I left him out of the first book don’t expect him, or any other characters to be honest, to make appearances for this.

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