A/N: So here's Chapter 2, at 4:30 AM (EST). I just couldn't stop writing until it was done. Enjoy!

WARNING: There is some child abuse in this chapter.

Also, I neglected to say in Chapter 1 that I do not own Harry Potter, so yeah...I do not own Harry Potter.

It was one of the worst nights Harry could remember having in the Dursley household.

It started out well enough, of course. At Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia's prompting, Harry fled up the stairs and disappeared into his room. As soon as the door closed behind him with a snap, he went straight to his pillow to retrieve the picture frame he had stored there, his severe hunger of earlier nearly forgotten.

And then, sitting on his bed, his back resting against the wall, Harry stared longingly down at the portrait in his hands.

His mother stared back at him, her eyes vibrant and full of life, a wide smile lighting up her face as she leaned into the embrace her father was holding her in. She seemed so happy. So care-free. The little girl in the picture had no idea what was going to happen to her.

Harry closed his eyes, forcing back the lump in his throat that formed at that thought and taking a deep breath. After a few seconds, he opened them again, his gaze returning to the picture. His mother was still smiling, unmoving in the muggle photograph. She was frozen in time, forever smiling, forever happy.

It was exactly how Harry wanted to think of his mother.

He continued to stare at the picture for quite some time then, until long after he heard the Masons arrive and everybody move into the sitting room. At some point, he slid off his bed to retrieve the photo album of his parents that Hagrid had given him last year. He had hidden it beneath the loose floorboard under the bed, to ensure that the Dursleys would not find it.

Harry felt a pang at the thought of Hagrid. He had hoped that the half-giant, or any of his friends for that matter, would have written to him by now. Even just a quick note to say Happy Birthday. He was, after all, twelve years old that very day.

But it was to be a birthday like any other, he supposed. Brushed aside, completely ignored. He himself had only just given the special date any thought at all.

At least he still had Hedwig, though, he realized, turning towards the owl who seemed to be the only friend that he had in the world at that moment. Only she was currently asleep in her padlocked cage. Harry just shook his head, deciding not to disturb the creature, and turned back to his album.

His mother and father smiled up at him, waving enthusiastically as only those in wizarding pictures can. He couldn't help but to smile back at them, as he settled back down on the bed. Perhaps this wouldn't be his worst birthday ever. Not if he could spend the evening looking at old pictures of his parents in peace.

Unfortunately, it was not to be.

Later, Harry would blame himself for the way he handled things when Dobby showed up that night to warn him about "plots" and "terrible things" happening at Hogwarts. He should have just gone along with the house-elf, and tried to convince him that he had no intentions of going back to school, despite that being a complete lie.

But of course he hadn't. And then the elf had had Aunt Petunia's pudding suspended in midair...

Harry stood there in the kitchen, completely still and unmoving, and gulped as he looked into his uncle's eyes. There seemed to be a promise in those eyes. A promise of murder or perhaps something worse.

He could hear Aunt Petunia in the next room, attempting to smooth things over with the Masons with placating words and the ice cream she had dug out of the freezer. In the next second, Uncle Vernon was thrusting a mop into his nephew's hands, causing Harry to flinch back. He had been certain that the man was going to beat him with it.

"Clean this up," the man practically hissed, bringing his face to within an inch of Harry's own. "You will be receiving your punishment later."

"Yes, sir," Harry whispered automatically, clutching the mop handle for dear life.

Uncle Vernon straightened up then, and turned to leave the kitchen. He turned back, however, just before he was completely out of the room.

"You best hope that this deal goes through, boy... because if it doesn't..."

The man left the threat hanging in the air as he finally left his nephew alone.

Harry felt numb. His stomach churned with fear, and it was several seconds before he was able to move again. He looked around at the mess surrounding him, and felt himself start to panic.

His uncle was going to kill him.

And there was nothing he could do about it, except to clean the kitchen as best as he could, and hope that Uncle Vernon's business deal still went through.

When the owl arrived, dropping the letter on Mrs. Mason's head, Harry knew that it was all over with. He might as well grab a shovel and go dig his own grave in the backyard.

Soon after the Masons' hasty departure, Harry found a piece of parchment being shoved under his nose. It was a moment before he was able to focus his eyes enough to read the short warning message from the Ministry on underage magic. But by the time he reached the part in the letter that told him to enjoy his holidays, all the color had drained from his face.

Vernon tore the parchment away from Harry before speaking in a deadly whisper.


Terrified, Harry scurried out of the room and up the stairs, knowing that disobedience would only make things worse. His uncle followed, only a few steps behind.

Harry felt a sense of dread as he opened his bedroom door. His heart began to pound against his rib cage, and his breaths began coming in short, rapid gasps.

And then he heard the door close behind him.

He whirled around, and in the next second, his uncle was grabbing him and pushing him up against the nearest wall. He held tightly to Harry's arms, hard enough to bruise, eliciting a small whimper of pain from his nephew at the action.

"You ruined everything!" the man shouted. "That was the most important deal of my career—"

"I didn't do anything, I swear," Harry said desperately, just as Hedwig let out an alarmed screech from her cage. "Please, Uncle Vernon—"

"You liar!" Vernon hissed, pulling Harry away from the wall, only to slam him back into it a second later.

Harry gasped for breath. "No, please. I'm not—"

"You're lying through your teeth," Uncle Vernon interrupted, shaking Harry roughly as he spoke. "And you will be severely punished for it."

There was a pause then, as though Vernon needed time to consider what he was going to do with Harry, although the boy was already fairly certain of what was going to happen. In the corner, Hedwig continued to emit low screeches of fear, but neither of the two other occupants in the room seemed to hear her.

The man loosened his grip ever so slightly on his nephew's arms. "Go get my belt," he whispered at last.

Harry immediately began to tremble. "No, please. I'll be good, Uncle Vernon. I promise."

"Now!" the man's voice returned to a shout.

Harry moved away from the wall and hurried from his room, quickly making his way down the hall to where his aunt and uncle slept.

The master bedroom was empty. Aunt Petunia was still downstairs with Dudley, where the two of them would likely stay until his "punishment" was over. He crossed the room on shaking legs, and opened the top drawer of the dresser on the far side of the room where Uncle Vernon kept his belt.

Knowing that his uncle would only get angrier if he took too long, Harry snatched up the belt, and rushed back to his own room, just hoping that this would all be over soon.

But what he saw when he reached the doorway made him freeze in his tracks.

Uncle Vernon was standing by his bed. And he was holding Harry's photo album in his hands.

Harry closed his eyes. There was absolutely no way that this day could possibly get any worse.

He had been in such a hurry to run after Dobby that he had given no thought to returning the album to its hiding place. He had simply left it on top of his bed, and now Vernon had found it.

"And what," Uncle Vernon began menacingly, "is this?"He held up the book with a look of disgust after having flipped through a few of its pages.

"It's my photo album," Harry said, the panic clear in his voice as he opened his eyes once again. "Please, sir. It's all I have left of my parents—"

"Those freaks," Vernon sneered, opening the book again and pulling out one of the pictures. It was one of Lily and James together, and even from where he stood at the door, Harry could see that they were smiling and waving.

Vernon grimaced at the unnaturalness of the moving picture. Then he placed the photo album, still open, back on the bed, and began taking out more pictures, turning through the pages until he had a fair few clutched in his hands.

Harry opened his mouth to plead with his uncle not to do anything, but it was too late.

Without further warning, Uncle Vernon began tearing the pictures to shreds, and Harry, too shocked to speak or to move or to do anything, could only watch in absolute horror.

It was worse than the belt. Unimaginably worse. The pain of it was like a knife to the heart.

And Uncle Vernon knew it. He continued to tear the pictures apart until they were nothing more than tiny little scraps strewn across the floor. And then he reached for the photo album again.

And Harry sprang into action. He dropped the belt and ran to the bed, trying to snatch the book away before his uncle could get to it.

But he just wasn't quick enough. Uncle Vernon grabbed the book and tucked it under an arm.

"You know, I believe I've changed my mind," the man said in a falsely gentle tone, grabbing Harry by the arm. "The belt can wait until tomorrow. I'll let you think about it for a while. But for now, I think I'll just take this filth and be on my way."

In one final effort, Harry lunged for the book as he felt a sense of desperation course through him.

But Uncle Vernon caught him by the arm once again, and shoved Harry away with such force, that Harry fell to the ground. His head hit hard against the front of his bedside table, and in the next instant the lamp that sat on top of it was falling to the floor, where it shattered into pieces.

Uncle Vernon ignored the incident and continued towards the door, pausing only to pick up the belt that Harry had dropped at the threshold. "Tomorrow, there will be new locks going on this door," he stated with a sneer. "You will not be leaving this room. And you will not be returning to that school."

Without waiting for a response, or any other indication that he had been heard, Uncle Vernon finally took his leave, slamming the door behind him.

And only then did Harry finally let the tears fall.

A/N: Thoughts? Thank you so much for reading, everyone. Hopefully I'll have another update out soon.