"Of all the preposterous..BOY!" Vernon's voice echoed throughout the
household. Harry gulped, wondering what he had or hadn't done this time.
He emerged from his small room and clambered down the stairs. Uncle Vernon
had come storming through the door only seconds ago, and he was waiting at
the bottom of the steps.
"Yes Uncle Vernon?"
"How dare you use that tone with me!" he slapped Harry across the face,
"Mrs. Figg is away, so you will be accompanying us on my company's camping
trip." Dudley had come in and heard the end of the conversation.
"But Dad! He can't come!" Petunia came up behind her son, though it was
hard to spot. He had grown up and out in the last year, and was now almost
as tall as his father was; and almost as wide.
"Really Vernon, bringing the boy?"
"I must my sweet. I will not leave him here alone. There's no telling
what he'd do, or who he would invite over. Besides, we need someone to set
up the tents anyway." He huffed in his "don't argue" way, and pushed Harry
aside as he ascended the stairs.
The ride out to the campsites was long, filled with poking and prodding
from Dudley. He tried to ignore the brat, but he was finding it
impossible, as his cousin found bruises his uncle had already inflicted and
poked them more.
The site was already brimming with company-men and their families, and as
they parked, Uncle Vernon grabbed Harry's arm violently.
"Now I know you can't do any of that freak stuff when you're away from that
school of yours, so if anything happens, I will not hesitate to
tell..someone." He flustered at the thought of even attempting to contact
those freaks, but it was a valid threat. "Now get our tents set up, and be
quick about it!" He exited the car and joined his wife and child, who were
already mingling, bragging of Dudley's accomplishments at school the past
Harry sighed and dragged the loads from the trunk of the car. He didn't
know the first thing about setting up tents, but no one cared. A few
people offered him help, and he let them, until Uncle Vernon tactfully drew
their attention away from the boy and shot him a nasty glare. He noticed
that there were only two tents, and he knew Dudley had no intention of
sharing. Carefully and quickly, he hid some of the "extra" poles in the
nearby brush, and grabbed a large blanket from the car and threw it with
It took him several hours to erect the two tents correctly, and as the cook-
off started, he gathered up his few poles and thin blanket and trudged
further into the forest. He drove the four poles into the ground and tied
the corners of the blanket to them. At least he wouldn't get wet if it
rained. He prayed there were no wild animals nearby looking for a snack
that night. He emerged from the forest to a red-faced Uncle Vernon.
"Where have you been?!? Trying to run off eh?" He grabbed Harry by his
shoulder, and pulled him out of the foliage.
"Actually I was relieving myself on the trees," he lied. Uncle Vernon was
too preoccupied with his new guest to care about Harry. His hand lightened
its grip on his shoulder, and Harry saw someone who must have been Uncle
Vernon's boss walking over to them. He had a hotdog in his hands and he
was smiling broadly.
"Dursley! Who is this strapping young man?" He clapped Harry on the back,
and he hid a wince.
"Erm, this is my nephew, Harry. Harry, this is my boss, Mr. Whitley." He
squeezed Harry's shoulder, warning him to behave.
"How do you do, sir?" He extended his hand, going all out in politeness to
avoid Uncle Vernon's wrath later.
"Where are his parents?" he asked as he shook the boy's hand.
"They were killed in a car crash when he was a baby. Petunia and I took
him in as an infant."
"Oh, well, then I must commend you on a job well done. This lad is
certainly a perfect gentleman." Vernon smiled, and patted Harry on the
back, harder than he should have. As Mr. Whitley left the scene, Vernon
turned to Harry.
"Don't let all that go to your head. You're a good-for-nothing leech,
lucky to have relatives that would take you in at all." He shoved Harry
back towards the car. "Go unpack our things and avoid talking to anyone."
He glared at the boy, then turned to converse with his co-workers.
Harry occupied himself with the unpacking, careful to avoid any thoughts of
the recent events in the wizarding world. Of course, unpacking everything
the Dursleys had brought for a two-day camping trip took him four more
hours, and it was well past dark when he finally finished. Of course, all
he got for his troubles was a rough kick to the butt by Vernon, which sent
him sprawling to the ground.
"Don't even think about trying to weasel your way into a tent. You'll
sleep out here where you belong." He zipped up his tent and Harry turned
away. He looked over at Dudley's tent in time to get a mud-ball in the
face. Dudley's laughter filled the forest as Harry wiped it away and went
over to the cook off area. He found the remnants of a bag of Lays and a
burnt weiner on the grill. He devoured them quickly, then made his way to
his make-shift tent out in the forest. With any luck, he would wake before
the Dursleys came looking for him and found what he'd done. He curled up
under the covering, shivering from the cold of the forest floor.
He hadn't slept well since his return to the Muggle world, and tonight was
shaping up to be the worst yet. Mere seconds after shutting his eyes,
vivid flashes of Diggory's face and Voldemort's malicious grin filled his
head, taunting him, daring him to fall asleep, where the nightmares could
torment him for hours.