Hey there! I know it's been a while since I've been on. This is something that popped into my head a couple days ago. :)
I don't own Harry Potter.
The slow creep of London traffic set Harry's nerves on edge. With a headache brewing from the cacophony of dozens of horns and a churning stomach from the lurching driving of his uncle, Harry looked out the window at the grimy black slush on the streets – the result of another winter in the city. He missed the brilliant white landscapes of Hogwarts already.
He had discovered that the school was being shut down for winter holidays several weeks before the end of term when he had overheard a fierce argument between Professor McGonagall and Umbridge while on his way to the Transfiguration classroom to retrieve his forgotten book. Although pressed up against the wall around the corner to keep from being caught and facing the possibility of another detention with Umbridge, he had overheard McGonagall's concern for students with nowhere to go. Umbridge had replied in her typical nasty fashion and sure enough, two days later there was an announcement that the school would be closed over the holidays.
Harry had silently hoped that he would be able to simply avoid the Dursleys for the duration of his stay at his relatives' house, but from Uncle Vernon's yells and the quivering of the mustache on his purple, blotchy face, Harry figured it was a lost cause. He leaned his head against the window with a sigh.
"We graciously put up with your miserable presence during the summers without complaint, and what do we get? Stuck with you during the holidays as well! What's next? Easter holidays? Maybe all of fall – bloody hell!" Uncle Vernon punched the brakes particularly aggressively as a taxi swerved in front of the car. Harry flew forward and almost hit the passenger seat where his aunt was sitting silently, irritation pinching her face unflatteringly.
"See, boy? This is all your fault! If you hadn't had to come back and ruin our perfectly peaceful Christmas, we wouldn't be in this mess!" He growled and muttered under his breath as he jerked the wheel to avoid a bus, the tires squealing in an attempt to maintain traction on the icy road. Vernon glanced back at Harry in irritation. "Don't lean or even breathe on that window, boy! If I see so much as a smudge, you'll be cleaning the car all night in the cold."
Harry let out an infinitesimal sigh and removed his head from the window, where his breath had been fogging up the glass. He moved to the center seat.
"Not the middle! I can't see over your head. Do you want to get us all killed?" Vernon snapped again.
Harry sighed louder and moved back to his original spot behind his aunt's seat, careful not to rest his head on the window. He tuned out his uncle's griping and watched the heavy jacket-clad people on the sidewalks hurrying down the street, wondering where they were going and figuring wherever it was, it had to be better than Privet Drive.
Harry awoke on Christmas morning to the usual small pile of gifts at the foot of his bed. Grinning widely as he opened the gifts, he managed to forget entirely that he was at his relatives' until his aunt's shrieking voice pierced through his bedroom door and demanded that he start the Christmas turkey. Groaning, Harry threw on his new burgundy knitted sweater from Mrs. Weasley and trudged downstairs, his Christmas spirit significantly dampened.
From the kitchen, it was painfully hard to ignore Dudley's reactions to his Christmas gifts. Harry wasn't sure which sound annoyed him most: his cousin's excited yell when he received something that he had wanted for ages or the spoiled boy's loud complaint when the gift wasn't satisfactory enough. The young wizard wiped off his hands and leaned back against the counter, silently watching the exchange in the living room with barely concealed disgust.
He hated being home for the holidays.
The sound of heels clicking on the hardwood alerted Harry to his aunt's approach and he quickly picked up the knife and continued chopping up the celery for the stuffing. The footsteps stopped behind him and he kept his head down and focused on the celery.
She cleared her throat loudly. "Potter."
Harry set down the knife and turned around, fully aware that both his uncle and his cousin had paused their gift opening and had focused their attention on the kitchen. His aunt held out a poorly wrapped brown package to him.
He took the package and fought to keep the glare off his face, confused as to why the Dursleys had even given him a gift and knowing full well that it would most likely be more horrid than ever considering their anger about him staying with them over the holidays. He tore open the package and nearly dropped the rag and bottle of cleaner inside.
Aunt Petunia scoffed. "You'll clean the windows and the floor after you finish making dinner. We'll have company tonight and if you're going to be here you might as well make yourself useful. Happy Christmas, Potter."
Harry slammed the two items on the counter next to the cutting board and continued making dinner, pretending not to hear the loud guffaws coming from the living room. He could feel his aunt's gaze burning into the back of his neck, so he kept his hands busy and imagined that he was at Hogwarts or the Burrow, enjoying Christmas with his friends. He should have been, too, if it wasn't for Dumbledore. Dumbledore hadn't even looked at Harry since the beginning of the summer when he had battled the dementors in Little Whinging, and Harry couldn't bring himself to even try to ask the man to let him stay with the Weasleys rather than with his relatives.
And now he was stuck in Number 4 Privet Drive with his awful relatives making a Christmas dinner that he wouldn't even be able to eat and listening to them all laugh at his misery.
What a delightful Christmas holiday.
With dinner ready and the house spotless, Harry was dismissed from his relatives' presence. He slipped out the front door, careful not to pass the guests that were currently laughing with his aunt and uncle. Dudley was probably out doing Merlin-knows-what with his gang of friends.
Harry made his way to the little playground down at the end of the street. It used to be well cared for – perhaps when there were more children in the neighborhood – but now the weeds were overgrown and the equipment was rusting. Harry sat in his usual spot on one of the swings and wrapped his arms around himself. He was wearing three of Dudley's thin sweatshirts but they still didn't keep out the chill.
He could feel his wand poking into his side from its awkward position in his waistband, and he couldn't help but think back to the previous summer with the dementors and his near-expulsion from Hogwarts. Dumbledore had come to his aid, but the man wouldn't even spare him a glance throughout the entire trial.
Harry sighed and stood up, considering going into town to hopefully find a warmer place to sit. His mind was quickly changed by the sound of heavy, lumbering footsteps approaching the park. He could hear Dudley's grumbling voice and the sniggering of his stupid friends, and Harry shrunk back down onto the swing in the vain hope that they wouldn't catch sight of him.
"Potter!" came Dudley's loud crow, followed by, "There you are! We've been looking all over the neighborhood for you."
Harry gave him a sideways glance. "What do you want?"
"Oh, nothing. I just haven't given you my Christmas gift yet."
"Yeah, whatever. I don't want it," Harry called back flippantly.
"That's not an option, Potter," Dudley growled, and he began to advance across the playground with his gang of bullies. "See, my mum and dad got to give you their gift, and now it's my turn to give you mine. I never got you back for this summer – what you did to me."
"I saved you, Dudley," Harry sighed, standing up to leave. He figured sitting in his room alone would be a whole lot better than facing his cousin's gang alone in the park.
"Where do you think you're going?" his cousin snapped, and immediately his friends piped in.
"Yeah, where do you think you're going? Are you scared?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "Not scared, just tired of dealing with idiots."
The first punch sent Harry falling back into the swing he had been sitting on. He grasped onto the chains for support and stood back up, adjusting his glasses on his nose.
"You got your punch. Let me go." His cheek was already swelling slightly.
"I don't think so," he growled, and another punch hit Harry in the ribs. Harry doubled over briefly, but stood up again, glaring at his cousin.
"You punch like your mum," Harry sneered, still holding his side. Something akin to fire burned in his cousin's eyes.
A right hook sent Harry sprawling, and then they were all on him. Punching, kicking, scratching. Out for blood like wild animals. Dudley had retired after a few good kicks and now stood laughing as his goons continued beating on the wizard for all they were worth.
Harry's nose snapped and blood gushed down over his lips and down his chin, making him gag. He reached for his face, but a heavy foot crashed down onto his wrist forcefully, making him cry out.
As blackness played at the edges of his vision, he heard Dudley's gang wander off into the night, their laughs twice as loud and boisterous as before.
"That's what you get, Potter," Dudley whispered in his ear, a sick smirk plastered on his face and a cold pleasure in his beady little eyes.
Please leave a review and let me know what you thought of the first chapter! Not sure when the next one will be up since finals are next week.