Harry looked out the window in disgust. His cousin and foster-brother (though he pretended that that fact didn't exist) was outside flirting with the pretty girls that walked down the street from time to time.
Aside from the fact that Dudley was the approximate size, shape, and weight of a Volkswagen Beetle, he was also extremely sexist and having a quite disagreeable personality. Most of his comments were along the lines of "My stomach's not the biggest part of me, you know," or "I can't see below my waist, can I try yours?"
The only reason Harry was watching this… disgusting, to say the least… mockery of the mating habits of humankind was a complete lack of anything better to do. He'd completed all the homework he was given for the summer (Potions was particularly easy, as it was about the Wolfsbane Potion. He only had to write Professor Lupin about it) and whenever he went downstairs, his uncle or aunt (his foster-parents; he liked to ignore this fact too) gave him more work to do. Every day, he was assigned far more gruesome tasks than the day before, often requiring physical skill Uncle Vernon expected Harry not to have, and every day he finished them before dinner.
Suddenly, Harry was knocked from his thoughts by his door opening. Harry wasn't quite sure how, but Uncle Vernon seemed to have the uncanny ability to slam a door open.
"You!" Harry's uncle spat.
"Me," Harry agreed.
Vernon turned purple…r and started towards Harry. Harry, a little alarmed, stood to his full height, and crossed his arms over his chest. Vernon, now shorter than his nephew, gulped and stopped moving. Seeing his uncle wasn't going to start their no doubt fun conversation, he said, "Yes?"
Uncle Vernon snapped himself out of his trance and held up a letter. It was written on old looking parchment in green ink. "What is the meaning of this?" he spat.
Harry looked at it. "Looks like a letter. What is it?"
"It's a letter. Read."
Harry took the letter from his uncle. Vernon stood glaring at him the entire time he read.
Dear Mr Dursley,
You likely don't remember me. We met briefly at Lily and James' wedding. I think I remember seeing you there. Your wife was one of the bridesmaids.
My name is Remus Lupin; I was one of Harry's professors at school. I'm writing to request permission to take Harry for the rest of the summer. He's at an awkward age right now in his abilities, as well as in his life, and he needs to know more about his parents. With all due respect, I knew them better than you did, and I can offer him the kind of help he needs. Without it, he might just blow the roof off your house! Just kidding, of course.
This letter is all he needs to get to my house, if you choose to send him. Please consider it and send return owl by the end of the month.
Remus J Lupin
"Well?" Vernon said once he thought Harry was through the letter.
"I was right. It's a letter," Harry observed. "So can I go?"
Vernon made a sound, something between a grunt and a whine. He didn't want Harry there, that was for sure. However, he also didn't want Harry where he could be taught more of that… unnaturalness. He weighed the consequences in his mind.
"If I send you," he started very carefully, "just what would you be learning?"
Harry shrugged. He honestly didn't know. "Probably defensive stuff. Mostly against animals, I think."
"Mm-hmm," Uncle Vernon replied, as if he didn't believe Harry. "And this… Lumpin fellow… he's not that godfather of yours, is he?"
"Sirius?" Vernon winced as Harry said his name. "No, Professor Lupin isn't Sirius… but they did run in the same pack." Only Harry got the joke behind that, as Vernon was completely unaware of the canine qualities of the remaining Marauders.
"Well, what does he mean about getting there?" Vernon enquired. Harry was starting to feel like part of the Spanish Enquisition, which he didn't expect.
"I don't know. I assume the letter is some kind of Portkey," Harry guessed. He instantly regretting mentioning anything magical.
"Portkey?" Uncle Vernon wrinkled his nose at the name.
"It takes you somewhere instantly, like those transporter things on Star Trek," Harry explained. Vernon instantly backed away from Harry and the letter. "Don't worry, it has to be activated."
"Well it's not being activated in my house!" he yelled, startling the sleeping Hedwig. However, as if she sensed the severity of the situation, she kept her beak shut.
"Fine. I'll just go somewhere else to activate it. I'm sure Sirius would love to hear about his godson running off to God knows where to get to his teacher's house."
Vernon's face couldn't have been funnier if Harry had activated the Portkey right in front of him. His mouth was working like some great purple fish, and his eyes narrowed to be almost invisible. Harry was biting the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing. "Fine." This was said with great effort. "Fine. You can go. But before you start celebrating, you will work until your… thing… activates. You will do whatever I ask, whenever I ask. Understood?"
Harry hid his emotions well. "Okay." It wasn't as if anything Uncle Vernon was making him do was turning into any real work anyway. "I'll write Professor Lupin and Sirius and tell them I can go."
Vernon smiled. He liked when things went his way in some form or another. "Good. You do that."
Vernon wasn't kidding when he told Harry he'd be working him until Lupin arrived. He had him doing everything. When Harry got up (he was given an alarm clock so he would be up early) he went downstairs to get breakfast ready by the time everyone else got up. That wasn't too bad, as the house was still on Dudley's diet. It usually amounted to a bowl of oatmeal with no sugar. Uncle Vernon was unable to criticise Harry though, as his oatmeal was better than his aunt's was.
Next Harry has some random job around the house; organise the basement, clean the attic, pick up Dudley's room, or something not too different from that. Lunch came after he was done, and he was always done in time for lunch. He wasn't quite sure why, but his appetite had grown considerably over the summer. He would often sneak as much food as he could get away with during the middle of the night. The problem with that was the fact that Petunia was buying little to avoid tempting Dudley.
After lunch came the manual labour. He was often told to move huge rocks around the yard just for the sake of moving them, spreading fertiliser on Aunt Petunia's flower bed, or dig up trees and move them so Dudley could get more shade while harassing the neighbour girls.
Professor Lupin, in his return letter, had said that his Portkey would activate at 11:00 am on July seventeenth. That gave Harry exactly five days left in Hell.
About three days from salvation, while working in the front garden, he became aware of a small but growing group of females on the sidewalk. Every time he turned around to check on them, they were staring in random directions: the sky, the ground, the street, or the pig in a wig. It wasn't until later that night, when getting out of the shower, did Harry realise the possibility of them staring at him.
Harry stood dumbstruck in front of the mirror at that point. He hadn't noticed much, but the scrawny boy under the stairs was long gone. Instead, a tall, lean figure was reflected in the foggy glass. He was tanned from the time spent outside, and while he was likely of only slightly above average height, it was still an enormous shock. He had been relatively short, which was an advantage in Quidditch.
"Boy, if you're not out there by the time I count to ten…" Vernon let the threat hang as he pounded on the door. Sighing, Harry wrapped a towel around his waist and went to his room. He was almost unaware of the look of fear in Dudley's piggy eyes; magic apparently wasn't the only thing keeping Dudley from attacking him now.
As dressed for bed and laid down, thoughts started running through his head. I've only been working for a couple weeks. Why did I shape up so quickly? Where did that growth spurt come from?
His green eyes finally closed, and Harry eventually drifted off. However, one thought wouldn't leave him alone. It wasn't anything new, as a matter of fact it was a thought that plagued him most nights. I wonder what my real family was like…