Notes: Hello, everyone. Sorry for the long wait, but I have been extremely busy with a new job, especially since I had to move into another country for a project. So, the time I could spend on writing was rather limited.
This is the start of my rewrite attempt to story. If all goes well, I'm planning to rewrite whole story, trying to portray characters as adults instead of grown-up children. All comments about the new version are welcome, hope you guys enjoy it.
Prologue: A stranger in the Privet Drive
A boy, sixteen years old, stepped outside from a red bus, gazing at Privet Drive for the first time in five years. "Everything is still the same," he murmured to himself. Everything was still the same, except him.
It was striking just how different he had become in half a decade. When he was leaving the place, pushed inside a police car by an overweight policeman, he was a timid, underdeveloped boy, afraid of his own shadow. His skin had a pale, sickly color; his unkempt black hair looked like a mop. To top it all, he walked around dressed in over-sized rags his cousin, his shoulders slouched in an attempt to hide from people's attention.
The teenager that left the bus at the moment, however, was radically different. He had the build of a middle-class boxer, muscular but lean, just shy of six feet. His black hair was a short buzz-cut, his lightning bolt shaped scar prominently on display, taking attention away from numerous other faint scars on his face. He was dressed in simple black jeans, a tight, worn-out black t-shirt, both looking well past their prime. He was carrying an old leather jacket in his hand, and an old canvas backpack hanging from his shoulders, containing his meager personal belongings.
The greatest difference, however, his stance. His previous slouched stance that shouted fear was gone. He stood tall, but managed to exclude an aura of laziness. Not like laziness that caused by sitting in front of a TV every day, but like a predator who already aware of his surroundings, and assured that he was the most dangerous things in the immediate vicinity.
With a small sigh, he started walking through the streets. He noticed several neighbors watching him from windows, shaking their heads in disappointment. Not that it was surprising, he thought, he was sticking like a sore thumb amidst the boring scenery of Privet Drive.
Not caring even the slightest bit about their disapproving glares, he reached to number 4 and knocked the door a few times. He didn't have to wait for long. A thin woman with long neck appeared on the door. "How can I help you…" she started to say to the stranger at the door but stopped when she took notice of his apparel. "Who are you," she said, "and what do you want?"
The boy looked at her, with a slight, sardonic smile on his face and clutched his heart with an exaggerated manner. "I'm heartbroken," he said with a flat tone, "My own aunt hadn't recognized me."
She looked uncomprehendingly for a moment, then anger sparked on her eyes. "You!" she shouted, "How dare you show your face here you freak. Did you escape from the institute? I'm calling the police."
"Why, I missed you to my dear auntie," the boy replied with an over the top happy voice and a large smile. "It is so great to hear your lovely, melodic voice after all these years." He deliberately turned and glanced towards the people gathering around. "Hey, look," he exclaimed, "The neighbors are all watching as. They must have missed me too."
She froze for a moment, clearly trying to decide what to do. Then she took a step back and said, "Get inside, quick."
"I love you too, auntie," the boy answered back and stepped inside. He looked around, observing the place he reluctantly called home when he was just a child. Just a glance was enough to show him that almost everything was the same, just as boring and tidy when he first saw the place. "I'm impressed," he said. "You guys managed to gather up the place so well that it is impossible to tell it has been almost burned to cinders."
"How dare you say something like that, you freak," she shouted, slapping the boy with all her might. "You almost burned our house down, and you are just standing there joking about it."
He smiled again, but this time, his smile had a little dangerous quality. "Why auntie? I just believed that a change in decor in order."
"Why are you here you worthless deadbeat, you should be in St. Brutus, your punishment was seven years, not five. Nicholas assured us about that!" she said, catching what she said only too late.
Hearing that little tidbit of information, several things that hadn't made sense before suddenly clicked in his mind. He almost found it funny that how his stay would be lengthened by the smallest infraction, whether it be fighting, or disrespecting authority. Not that he minded, though, he was far from only child happy to prefer hellhole called St. Brutus to home. "So, that is how it was," he said. "I assume that asshole was one of the club buddies of Vernon. That certainly explains the abominable personality." He stopped for a moment and laughed in genuine amusement before continuing. "Then I would be correct to assume you didn't get the latest news about your precious judge friend."
"What about him," his aunt interjected, her passion for latest gossip momentarily suppressing disgust she felt towards her nephew.
"He has been suspended from duty, after being caught with a few underage prostitutes. If I were you, I would ask Vernon about their late club nights, though, who knows?" Letting himself enjoying the shock on her face, he continued. "Investigations are still going on, but they pulled him from child cases, just in case. Unfortunately for you, with my case judge changed, my conduct was suddenly not so horrible anymore. So they let me go."
"No, you lie, Nicholas is an upstanding citizen, he would never do something like that," she shouted in anger.
He just shrugged, and murmured "Not like I give a fuck."
She stood for a minute, her hands shaking a little, trying to progress the new situation. "What are you going to do now?" she asked in trepidation. "You cannot stay here, I will not have an arsonist at my home."
He suddenly stood still and started to speak in a chilly voice. "I wouldn't recommend you to mention that event, auntie, as I'm not an outsider you can bend the fact as you wish. I remember the events preceding it, constant beatings, locked cupboards, attempts to starve me. I'm not a ten-year-old anymore, my dear auntie, and if you try to push me, I will push back harder, much harder. And believe me, this time, your home wouldn't 'almost' burn."
She stood still, mumbling in indignation, "You wouldn't dare!"
"Try me," he said, his tone again flat. Though this time, a flat tone was only giving credibility to his statement, making it scarier. "I'm sixteen, and I would be still judged by the youth court. It is not a punishment I wouldn't take the revenge. After all, I was pretty comfortable in the St. Brutus."
"What do you want from us," she asked, about to cry. "Do you want to live here again?"
He snorted. "Oh, hell no! Not even if you pay me."
"Then what do you want?"
"I want my emancipation. I'm sure Vernon and his prostitution buddies, oh pardon, I misspoke, club buddies should be able to get me one without any red-tape. He gets it, and I will be out of your hair forever."
His aunt, almost shell-shocked after that rapid dialogue, nodded. "Okay, I will talk to Vernon about it."
"Good," he grumbled and pulled a paper from his pocket. "You can reach me from that number when paperwork is complete," he said, and turned his back, and left the house, slamming the door on his way out.
Harry Potter was back in town.
Wanting to have a quick smoke before leaving the neighborhood, he walked to a nearby, familiar park. When arrived, he looked around with a fond smile, remembering all the times he hid here, hiding from the bullies. Removing one from his front pocket, he lighted it, and took a deep breath, enjoying the feeling of nostalgia the place awakened in him. While he wasn't an addict, as cigarettes were always hard to get inside St. Brutus, he did enjoy the occasional smoke, especially if he was feeling emotional. As he took a deep breath, his mind slipped towards his encounter with his aunt earlier.
If he was being honest, he was surprised how calm he was in front of his aunt. He half expected to fly into a rage and attacking her, remembering all the times she beat him when he was small and helpless. But seeing her after all these years, so small and pitiful, much of his repressed anger evaporated. Not because he forgive them, mind you, just that he decided she didn't deserve anything more than his cold pity, locked in a home with two pigs, spending the days to catch some juicy piece of gossip like a frog trying to get some flies.
"Not that I'm not lucky," Harry whispered to himself sardonically. He remembered the state Dudley was at eleven, an overweight, spoiled child with no self-control, no ambition and no intelligence, all spoiled by love, Dursley family style. Apparently their love was even more destructive than their hate. "And at least, I didn't grow up to be a pathetic wimp, running around, trying to please everyone around" he finished his thoughts out loud. It was the fate that was waiting for him if it wasn't for the hard earned lessons of St. Brutus, he believed.
"Who are you, and what are doing in our park," a high pitched voice asked, in a pathetic attempt intimidation.
Distracted from his thoughts, Harry raised his head and checked out the owner of the voice. He saw a tall, overweight boy, trying to look menacing. Three others in similar sizes were standing around him in a half-circle, trying to enhance intimidation value of his looks.
It only took a few seconds for Harry to realize just who they were. Dudley was easiest to recognize, his face still resembling a pig even if he managed to shed some of his enormous weight. One of the other boys, he managed to identify as Pier Polkiss, steadfast lackey of Dudley since they were eight years old. Harry remembered him well from all the times he held his hands to his back while Dudley beat him up.
Harry could feel anger stirring inside. While he might not care about Petunia and Vernon too much, Dudley was a completely different kettle of fish. He was the direct responsible for much of his childhood pains, from intimidating every potential friend of Harry to flat out physical beatings. "I'm touched, Duddlykins. You hadn't seen me in five years, and the first thing you do is asking my identity. Be careful, one might think you don't care about your relatives."
Dudley stood there for a few minutes in surprise. "There is no way that you are the freak," he finally managed to say. "He was just a pathetic little snot." He stood there for a second looking at him, his small eyes further narrowed as he looked at him more carefully. "Wait, you are right, you are the little freak," he told, laughing with sudden confidence. "What did you miss most, you four eyes, drinking from the toilet, or Harry huntings?"
Harry's lips tightened a bit, a spark of anger appearing depths of his emerald eyes. In his last two years, even the most hardened occupants of St. Brutus learned to not to push further when they saw this expression. Dudley and his friends, however, didn't know this new Harry well enough to recognize the danger signs. "I'm very impressed with you, Duddyboy," Harry said. "I have never thought you would be able to construct a full sentence without five minutes preparation time. Your parents must be so proud of you."
It took a few seconds for Dudley to fully progress what has been said. "Take that back, you freak," Dudley shouted with a red face.
Harry chose not to tell anything. He was familiar enough with the scene to recognize that nothing he could do would stop the fight, not that he such a desire in the first place. He wanted to give a little payback, for all the 'lovely' childhood memories.
"What, freak?" Dudley asked, suddenly taking a step closer, raising his hands to take a boxing stance. "Swallowed your tongue?"
Idiot, Harry thought, examining his faulty boxing stance with an experienced eye. He met with the guys like that from time to time. They felt untouchable after taking a few martial arts or boxing classes, diving headfirst into street fights. Usually, their euphoria only lasted until they met with an experienced street fighter. Unfortunately for Dudley, Harry was one of them.
Seeing Dudley is shifting his weight for a straight, he decided to start first. Without any warning, he took a step forward, inside Dudley's guard, and smashed his chin with a right hook. Rest of the group suddenly froze in shock, too used to beat up small kids who cover in fear instead of attacking back.
However, their sudden indecision made an unfair fight even easier. Without giving them any time to recover, he lunged towards the one who was closest to him, punching him on his diaphragm. Not watching him falling to the ground, he quickly applied a similar one to one of the others. Then he turned towards Piers, who was only one still standing, watching him charge towards him, swinging his fist, overextended. Dodging his slow and obvious punch with a small side step, Harry punished that reckless charge with a counter, which, combined with his targets forward momentum, was enough to down him to count.
"God damn it you freak, you will pay for it," Dudley said, as he was pushing himself up.
"Come on Duddlekins, your threats were only impressive when we both were eleven and two of your friends were holding my arms," he said. Harry waited while Dudley was taking a boxing stance again. This time, he stayed in defensive, either deflecting or dodging the blows. After dodging several, he suddenly dropped low and hit him on the stomach with a kick.
"You cheater," Dudley shouted.
"Really," Harry replied, dodging another wide punch, but delivering a body blow in return. "I don't see a ring around us."
Enraged, Dudley charged a few more times, always being punished by a strong counter.
A few minutes later, Harry standing above these four, watching them moan in pain. He took a deep breath from his cigarette, then threw it on the ground. He leaned towards Dudley, and whispered, "I guess this is goodbye, my dear cousin." Kicking the grounded figure for one last time, he started walking towards the bus stop, feeling oddly peaceful as he left a part of his life behind.
Petunia called him a few days later to a court, to sign his share of papers, dispersing the last bond between Harry and Dursley family.
Finally free, Harry decided to stay in a motel, enjoying the life before setting up a more permanent arrangement.
However, his tentative plans have been disturbed by the sudden appearance of an owl, carrying a letter…