Harry Potter was a very curious boy. But then, if you were raised the way he was, curiosity would be your friend as well. Growing up, Harry was an abused child. Yes, by abuse I am implying that his family was not caring for him the way he should. He is forced to do all the chores in their average-sized house and was given very little reward for his actions, usually in the form of his next, meagre meal. Harry's room was nothing more than the small cupboard under the stairs, where a thin, used, infant's mattress and a thin blanket were placed. His uncle, Vernon, and aunt, Petunia, were often cruel to the boy, beating him for the smallest of mistakes alongside working him to the bone, and it wasn't made any better thanks to his cousin, Dudley's, schemes at getting him into trouble. It had been this way ever since Harry was dropped on their doorstep, number 4, Privet Drive, on Halloween of 1981 at one and a half years old.
Harry's Uncle Vernon was a large man, with a body shaped like a walrus and a face that turned a startling shade of purple whenever he was angry, almost always about Harry. He worked at Grunning's Drill Company as a sales manager, and managed to bring in enough money to afford a higher than average lifestyle. Their home was slightly better than average, and located in Little Whinging, Surrey in England. It was a little piece of suburbia, where all the houses looked exactly the same and where housewives like Aunt Petunia looked over their fences to spy on the neighbors for the next juicy piece of gossip.
Speaking of Aunt Petunia; she was a horse-like woman, with a skinny, shapeless body and a long neck. She always walked with her nose pointed slightly up, as if to look down on everyone else, but it only served to make her neck seem longer. Her one main trait, though, was her absolute jealousy over Harry himself.
Harry was born a beautiful child. He had almond-shaped eyes that almost seemed too large for his face, and were colored a shimmering, emerald green that seemed to glow. He was a slender child, not at all like his cousin Dudley who was rather shaped like a baby whale, and that slender figure was almost sharpened from hunger due to the number of times he went without a meal. Harry's skin glowed a creamy peach color, and his hair was as black as a raven's wing, a sharp contrast from his relatives' universal straw blond. His hair was wavy, styled with bangs that brushed his perfect eyebrows and long enough to brush his shoulders due to the problems cutting it. It seemed that no matter what his relatives did, it always grew back by the next morning, so they stopped trying. The only flaw one could see on his otherwise beautiful (and feminine) body, was a scar shaped like a lightning bold resting on his forehead above his left eye.
What harry didn't know, was that his looks were inherited from his mother, Lily, whom Petunia hated. Even though they were sisters, they looked nothing alike. Petunia had always wished that some of the beauty Lily had inherited from their parents was given to her instead.
Now, Harry's curiosity was a thing to behold. He was never allowed to ask questions, or learn from the fancy, expensive preschool books bought for Dudley. To them, he was "Freak," and not worthy of even the smallest amounts of money.
As time went on in that house, Harry had written up a list in an old notebook Dudley threw out of questions he had, but was never allowed to ask. Those questions were surprisingly intelligent for a, as of now, five year old boy, and used to consist of things like why do plants grow and why is the earth brown. Perhaps the saddest things to be written in that book, though, were why did my parents die and did they ever love me.
Harry had been told by his dear Aunt Petunia that, "Your parents were stupid drunks and got themselves killed in a car crash, leaving your miserable self to us to feed and care for."
However, on Harry's fifth birthday, July 31, 1985, the questions he wrote down changed into things not so normal.
It all started about a week before that one special day, when Harry woke up at five in the morning to an itching on his back. Harry tried to scratch it, but his skinny, tiny arms just couldn't reach that far, and even when he craned his head all the way over his shoulder, he couldn't see the source of the itch.
He padded softly to the bathroom, careful not to wake his relatives. Once there, he shut and locked the door, then borrowed Dudley's stool so he could see in the mirror above the sink. Harry took off his old, hand-me-down shirt from Dudley (his relatives couldn't bear the thought of actually purchasing clothes for their resident freak) and angled his back towards the mirror.
There, on either side of his spine, on his upper back, were two long strips of swollen skin about four inches long and one inch wide each. It almost looked like he had rug burn. For the life of him, he couldn't remember when he had managed to injure himself there. That was a strange thought, considering all of the scars decorating his body. Every single one of them Harry could remember receiving, especially considering his near photographic memory. Without it, Harry wouldn't remember all of the rules Uncle Vernon put into place, or even know how to read.
Well, Harry just shrugged his shoulders as he threw his shirt back on. Maybe it was a sunburn or something from working in the flowerbeds yesterday? He was sure it would go away eventually. With that, Harry went to get dressed so he could begin making breakfast for his relatives, pushing the marks almost completely out of his mind, if not for the itching.
It was when Harry woke up the very next day to feel that the itching had increased exponentially that Harry remembered his problems. Again, he went into the bathroom to look in the mirror, only to find that the two strips had darkened in color and grown even puffier. With that sight, Harry risked his aunt's wrath and used some soothing cream from the first aid kit. Hopefully, the itching would ease up over the course of the day.
While he was working in the gardens a few hours later, Harry noticed that the flowers he was tending to seemed to flourish almost unnoticeably under his hands and curled their petals and leaves around his fingers. It made him even more curious than he already was, but as it were, he didn't want to risk his aunt's anger if she caught him doing something "freakish."
The first time something like that had happened he was just a toddler. He had been playing with a broken toy soldier Dudley had thrown away, but when the child had seen Harry with it, he had screamed and thrashed until Aunt Petunia had come to check on him. When Dudley had explained around his fake tears that "the Freak" had stolen it from him, she had snatched it out of Harry's hand with a slap to the face and passed it back to Dudley. Not liking the unfairness, Harry had wished that he could have the toy back, and something inside him had stirred. The something seemed to reach out to the toy, and literally made the soldier float out of Dudley's chubby fingers into his own tiny ones.
Aunt Petunia had watched the proceedings with a deer-in-the-headlights look on her face, before, again, snatching the toy away to Dudley. It didn't happen again, and no one spoke to him until that night when Uncle Vernon came home that night from his job. Aunt Petunia had blathered to him all about Harry's "freakish ways" and Uncle Vernon's face had swelled up to look like a purple turnip.
That night, Harry had gone to bed with bruised ribs and several lashings across his back, tears streaming down his face. He was only three years old.
From that point on, Harry had sought to make sure that anything strange that he couldn't explain would stay hidden from his relatives so that he wouldn't get punished for his "freakishness." Of course, sometimes he slipped up, but he improved over time and slowly the heavy beatings had started to dwindle. However, each and every time something happened, Harry wrote in his notebook, asking himself why these things happened. Occasionally, he would spend sleepless nights pondering, but with no access to any information, he always ended up at a dead end.
Anyways, Harry quickly finished the garden, glad that Aunt Petunia hated the heat and almost always refused to watch him outside during the summer. It also gave him the opportunity to drink as much water as he could stomach from the garden hose.
Before Harry went to sleep that night, he asked himself another question in his notebook.
What new things will happen tomorrow?
July 26, 1985
Harry woke up with the itching having increased to a slightly painful degree, and yet again more swelling when he looked in the mirror to check. When making breakfast, Harry went to pick up the cast iron pan, and almost hit his head on the cabinet door. Usually, he had to force his whole body to substitute for the weight of the pan, but it felt so light today, as if it weighed nothing more than a feather.
Weeding was ridiculously easy, as Harry only had to tug the smallest amount to pull up the stubborn plants easily. His strength had multiplied overnight, and as he sat in the cupboard, his pencil stub scribbled furiously over the pages of his notebook.
July 27, 1985
It was almost expected, the pain in his back. Luckily, it was still a small amount, compared to the pain when his uncle uses his belt across his spine for punishment. What wasn't expected was the scene he stumbled across in the garden while weeding. A red and black striped snake had been facing off with a rabbit, obviously over whether or not the rabbit would become dinner.
He walked up in the middle of a conversation.
"…ssst sssurrender right now, you don't have the ssspeed to essscape."
"Like hell I'm going to just lie down and become dinner! I saw you eat that rat just a day ago, you don't need any more food for at least a few more days."
"It'sss a tough world; who knowsss if there isss going to be food available in a few daysss."
Harry interrupted there.
"How are you two talking? Where did you learn English? Why are…"
They both startled and turned to face him. The snake spoke, giving Harry his undivided attention.
"I'm not the one ssspeaking the human tongue, hatchling, it isss you who isss ssspeaking my tongue, that of the noble language of Parssseltongue. I have heard ssstories of human Ssspeakersss, but never have I ssseen one."
Harry looked confused.
"But I'm not speaking like a snake, I'm sure I am speaking English. And even if I was, why could I hear the rabbit too?"
Even the snake looked confused as well, but when he turned to look at the rabbit, he found that she had escaped sometime while they were talking. He turned back to face Harry, only to speak again.
"I'm not sssure, hatchling. The only ssstoriesss I have heard were of the wizard Ssspeakersss. They could only Ssspeak sssnake, however, ssso maybe you are not entirely human?"
Harry looked distressed and excited al at the same time. He had so many questions to ask, but the not-human idea seemed to frazzle his brain a little…
The snake seemed to take pity on Harry, for he immediately worked to soothe his worries.
"How about thisss, hatchling? I will ssstay around thisss human dwelling for a while and anssswer any quessstionsss you have. One asss young asss you ssshould not be left alone, either. I will ssstay and guard you from any threatsss."
Harry was reassured by the snake's kindness, but soon heard his Aunt calling from the house. He thanked the snake and assured him that he would be out again tomorrow to visit and ask questions.
Harry then went inside, was smacked by Aunt Petunia for "taking his time" and told to get started on lunch for her and Dudley.
That night, for once, Harry was excited to go back in his cupboard, for sleeping made the morning always come quicker.
July 28, 1985
The rash had become much more painful overnight, as expected, and Harry was seriously considering telling his relatives about it so he could go to the hospital. However, he stayed his tongue. If he asked for anything that wasn't an emergency, chances were he would get punished by his uncle for "wasting his time."
Harry spent his mornings in the garden sorting out the plants while being followed by the snake. He asked an endless amount of questions, and the snake seemed to take them all with good humor and answered them to the best of his abilities. Harry even dipped into a few questions he remembered from his notebook.
However, the main topic they talked about was wizards.
At first, due to his animal Speaking ability, the snake wasn't so sure, but after explaining some of the things he could do, the snake confirmed it. Harry was, at least partially, a wizard. After that, the snake explained all about what he remembered hearing about the wizarding world.
Harry soaked up the knowledge like a dry sponge, his curiosity never truly filled.
It was somewhere in the middle of a conversation about wizard clothing that Harry asked, "What is your name, anyways? I can't keep calling you snake, can I?"
The snake chuckled and replied, "You are right, hatchling. My name isss One Who Bleedsss Ssstripesss, but you may call me Ssstripe. What isss your name, Hatchling?"
"My name is Harry," replied Harry, before he dived right back where they had left off.
That night, while serving dinner, Harry had accidentally dropped a glass and watched with horror as it shattered on the floor. His Uncle's face had swelled up and turned almost as dark as Harry's skin on his ribs had when it was all over. While trying to fall asleep in his cupboard, Harry had wished that his ribs wouldn't hurt so much, and his hands had started to glow a soft, forest green. Fascinated, Harry had held up his hands to his ribs, and watched as the green soaked into his skin and healed the bruised areas as it spread, confirming his suspicions.
July 29, 1985
Again, Harry's swelling was worse, and when he tried to call up his healing ability to soothe it, he was pleasantly surprised when the pain receded a bit, but the swelling stayed behind. Right now, it was the same ugly purple as his ribs had been the night before.
Stripe was waiting for Harry in the garden after breakfast again. As soon as his Aunt was out of hearing range, he began rapidly exclaiming all about his new ability. Stripe was surprised, but asked Harry what other strange things had been happening the last few days.
When Stripe had seen Harry's back, his eyes went wide for just a moment, before he schooled his expression so Harry wouldn't see it. Stripe had a suspicion that his theory about Harry not being entirely human was correct, but didn't want to scare Harry just in case.
When asked about his thoughts, Stripe lied and said that Harry's guess was as good as his.
It was while Harry was watering the plants that a new ability showed itself. The stream from the hose wasn't quite long enough to reach the flowers in the back. Harry wished the plants would be closer so he didn't have to go and turn up the water flow, but then the part of the ground that held the flowers lifted itself out of the earth and floated towards him, leaving a hole where it had once rested. Harry had panicked and unconsciously sent it back where it came from, the ground sealing up like it had never been disturbed. Stripe had seen the event, and almost immediately demanded that Harry work on his control.
So, not only was Harry manipulating his healing powers, but his earth ones too. Also, he was reminded of the incident with the flowers from the first day, and had a hunch about another new ability he might have developed. So, just to test himself, harry focused on the rosebuds next to him that had yet to bloom, and sure enough, within a few moments, their petals fully opened up. This seemed to be the cue, for all of the other plants opened up and started leaning towards him, their petals reaching out to him while their roots strained against their grip on the ground.
Stripe added plant manipulation training to his regimen after Harry took thirty minutes getting the flowers calmed down.
July 30, 1985
Harry's back was throbbing when he woke up that morning. It had even developed blisters in the night. It was almost too painful for Harry to work, but his Uncle's face would pop into his mind every few minutes, spurring him on to finish his work.
Stripe had encouraged Harry to practice his speaking ability that day, so when he had seen a few birds settle in the birdbath, Harry took the chance to speak to them.
They at first were surprised at his skill, but once they got over that and the initial wariness that comes from meeting a human, he was included in their conversation.
They mostly talked about flying, and how wonderful the wind felt caught in the feathers of their wings. It was in the middle of their conversation that Harry started to daydream about what it would be like to be a bird, and to feel the very same sensations that all birds exclaimed over. What snapped him out of dreamland was when one of the birds looked over at him and gasped, drawing everyone's attention.
Harry's eyes snapped open, only for him to find himself disoriented. He was surrounded on all sides by tall, green stems about as tall as he was. He looked down at himself and came face-to-face with a gray, downy chest. He tried to use his hands to touch his now-feathered chest, but realized he had no more hands, only fuzzy, downy wings. It seems he had turned himself into a garden-variety bird chick. Harry then did what any human who found himself in this position did.
He chirped cutely.
Of course, that just spurred on all the chatting birds to practically dive-bomb him and start smothering him with their affections and mothering. A few of them chirped disapprovingly at the state his back was in, and tried to sooth it. It was only when Stripe came to investigate the noise, having slithered off to hunt, only to find Harry being mothered. When those green eyes turned pleadingly in his direction, Stripe cracked up and released a series of hissing laughs that lasted a good few minutes.
When he finally stopped laughing, he managed to tell Harry to just imagine himself as a human again.
Luckily, he succeeded, leaving the birds to pout and try to groom his hair as a stand-in. The rest of the day was spent on trying to turn into different animals. Much to Harry's horror and Stripe's amusement, he ended up turning into the baby version of whatever he tried.
Harry started feeling chills down his spine for an unknown reason.
Near the end of the day, the pain on Harry's back grew to such high levels that he almost cried from relief when his Uncle locked him up again.
The hours slowly passed, Harry writhing on the ground in pain, trying desperately to stay silent. To keep himself distracted, Harry watched the old, battered clock tick down the minutes until his birthday.
11:59 and 55 seconds.
As the clock hit 12, Harry's world exploded.