Harry's memory had always been very good, but the clarity of his seventh birthday was even sharper than most. It sometimes made him wonder if a memory could really be burnt into someone's brain.
"Boy!" his uncle shouted, "Up! NOW!"
The child did as he was told, he always obeyed these days. His uncle had beaten any disobedience out of him. He quickly changed then opened the door to his cupboard, expecting to be hit by an angry Uncle Vernon. His mouth dropped at the sight of a small lawn with a dirt path. He turned to close his cupboard door and found a large building instead. A young woman opened the door, arms full with empty crates. She saw him and her eyes widened. She dumped the crates and grabbed his hand. Harry he found himself being dragged gently but firmly into the house.
"Mrs. Cole!" the girl shrieked, "There's a kid left here. 'Bout seven, with no adults in sight."
"What's his name?" A middle aged lady with a tight bun of brown hair walked in from the adjoining room.
"Jason," Harry whispered, he didn't want to reveal his real name in case it helped them they find the Dursleys. He said the first name that came to mind. Jason had been Harry's only friend—an imaginary one since Harry wasn't allowed out of the house often enough to have developed friendships with other children.
"Hello, Jason," the older woman gave him a slight smile, "Do you have a last name?"
"Evans," Harry said, remembering his Aunt Petunia's last name from before she got married.
"I'm Mrs. Cole and this is Angelina. Where are your parents?"
"They died," Harry knew the best kind of lies were short, mostly true ones.
"How did you get here?"
"I don't know."
"Do you have any family?"
"No," he lied.
"He'll have to stay here. 'Least 'till we can find relatives or godparents," Mrs. Cole decided.
"The only spare bed is in Tom's room," Angelina whispered, fearfully.
"There isn't any other option," Mrs. Cole said, turning to Harry, "Follow me Jason."
She led him up a flight of stairs and through a monotonous gray hall, until they arrived at the lonely door at the end. She rapped on the door quickly, then opened it and walked in without waiting for a response. A boy sat on one bed reading a book. He didn't even look at them as they entered.
"Tom! This is Jason. He'll be sharing your room," Mrs. Cole explained. The boy finally looked up, brushing a strand of black hair behind his ear.
"Alright," Tom said blandly.
"Okay, I'll leave you two get to know each other," with that, she walked out.
"Hello," Harry whispered, his eyes glued to the ground.
"Look at me," Harry raised his head/eyes nervously, " I'm Tom, why are you here?" the boy carefully bookmarked his page and met Harry's eyes. Harry decided to stick with the story he'd told the matron.
"My parents just died," but Tom just started into and right through his eyes.
"That's a lie, tell me again. Try the truth this time," his eyes narrowed and red tint passed over them for a moment.
"I just appeared here. I've been living with my aunt, uncle and cousin forever. But they hate Today I made a birthday wish to be somewhere else. And then I ended up here when I left my room," Tom continued to scrutinize Harry with eyes which seemed to see into his soul for a few moments.
"It seems like a fairy tale, but I can tell it's the truth. Weird. Do you believe in magic?" Tom wondered.
Harry glanced nervously around the room.
"What's wrong?" Tom asked.
"Are you really allowed to say that word?"
"What? Magic?" Harry gave a nod and a slight whimper.
"Of course. Who would stop me?" Tom asked.
"The adults, don't they hurt you for it?"
"Why would they? What's wrong Jason?"
"My uncle used to beat me for saying it," his eyes returned to their examination of the floor.
"Oh. Well magic isn't a forbidden word. It's just that most people don't believe in it—do you?"
"Believe in magic?"
"Yes," Tom seemed eager for his reply.
"Sometimes things happen to me—impossible things—when I'm angry or hurt. I think it must be magic," Harry confessed.
"Me too. Can you control it?"
"Not really. It just happens, it's never hurt me though," Harry felt very protective of his newfound powers, "I keeps me safe actually. Once time, when I was scared my uncle would hurt me, my cupboard jammed and he couldn't open it, but as soon as he went away it just swung open for me."
"I've learnt how to use it on purpose. If people annoy me I can make bad things happen to them. I'll teach you. I've hardly done anything yet and the adults here are scared of me. Stick with me and no one will ever hurt you again."
"Okay," a tentative smile brightened Harry's face.