First chapter... Hope you enjoy it! x

It was late July, the summer before Harry's fifth year of Hogwarts. He had spent the past month at the Dursley's, as always, since the summer holidays had begun in late June. He was exhausted. It had been nothing but a month of work - getting up to cook breakfast, then chores until making the lunch, and the same routine until dinner. After dinner, he would have to do any random necessities for the house, as Petunia or Vernon saw fit, but not the proper chores he did in the day. In the day, he was washing floors, cleaning whole rooms, replanting all the plants in the garden (Petunia kept changing her mind as to the layout), anything that the Dursley's thought would keep him out from under their feet. Nothing but that for one whole month. Harry felt like he could happily drop onto the grass under his feet, as he mowed the lawn for the third time that week, and stay there until September 1st.

Neither Ron or Hermione had contacted him so far, and neither had Sirius or Remus - not a line in one month. Hedwig was locked inside her cage, by insistence of Dudley and of course Petunia wasn't going to say no to 'her little diddums', so he hadn't been able to send them an angry howler asking why not. Even if he couldn't get letters to them, there was nothing stopping them sending him anything. Right?

He had not even had his Daily Prophet appear through the slots of the bars on his windows. Vernon had reinstalled them this summer, a punishment for Harry's cries at night, as he pictured Voldemort rising out of that hideous steaming cauldron, or Cedric's pale face as he reached for the flying Triwizard cup. But Vernon didn't care about that kind of thing, he cared about sleeping at night.

The smell of fresh grass was keeping him awake at the moment - though he was sure he had already done this bit of the garden. He looked around his feet and saw that, apart from the odd shred of grass he may have missed out through sheer lack of energy, the mowing was done. He went over the odd bit of grass anyway, taking him an extra two or so minutes (since it was the front garden which was only little), just in case any of the Dursley's complained.

He didn't want them to complain. God knows, he knew what happened when they were unhappy.

Harry self-consciously touched the fading bruise on his cheek, which had looked yellowish in the mirror this morning, tads of green in the shading which made him look ill. Not that he hadn't looked ill anyway - his ribs were protruding from his chest, under Dudley's hand-me-down XXL t-shirt. Harry had to twist the shirt several times and tuck in uncomfortably into his trousers (also hand-me-downs), so it didn't fall to his knees. Not that this look was any better. His face was sallow and his eyes were tiny holes in his face, squinting to stay awake. The bruise on his face, the blisters on his hands from work and on his feet from shoes too big, and his general thin nature, well, he didn't look like the 'saviour' everyone at Hogwarts seemed to think he was.

'Saviour', Harry thought, fighting the urge to spit on the cut grass, winding up the lawn-mowers lead, 'They make me into this saviour, this golden boy for them to look up to, if only they could truly see, truly realise. Then they would be sorry. Then Dumbledore would be sorry.'

He pushed the lawnmower through the tiny gate at the side of the house, into the back garden, and into the shed. He covered it with the protective sheet that had been his six year old self's birthday gift, making sure it was properly tucked into it's proper place. He knew Vernon would check it later, and he didn't want another slap like the one that had caused the bruise on his face.

The bruise and blisters were, of course, only the scars the outside world could see. Hidden under his clothes, Dudley's clothes, were the scars that told the real story. The scar on his forehead was the one he showed everyone, the one they all 'oohed' and 'aahed' at, but the scars on his chest and his stomach and his back, they were the real story tellers.

There was the splattering of glass shard impact on his left side, when Vernon had been drunk several years ago and thrown his beer bottle into him. Not only did it hurtle him backwards, but he had to pick through the bloody wounds himself to get the glass out. Petunia had refused to take him to the hospital, looking pale faced as she wondered what the consequences for her poor dear husband could be.

There was the slicing cut on his stomach, when Dudley had pushed him and he fell on a particularly sharp rock. All of Dudley's friends had laughed, when Harry shakily stood, holding his stomach, bleeding through his belly.

Then there was the huge belt buckle scar down his back, when Vernon had been especially angry with him one night, dragging the belt down his back while he screamed and screamed. Petunia and Dudley had been in the living room, pretending not to hear, repeatedly turning the television volume up and up and up. When Vernon was done, he had glared angrily at Harry's blood pooling on the kitchen floor, and ordered Harry to clear it up immediately.

Of course there were more - the scars littered Harry's body. Those three were just the biggest ones. The belt buckle scar was the biggest of all, stretching down from his collarbone to a few inches above his hips. It had all frayed, and so the scar was more than just the line of the buckle.

Harry sighed, in the present day, and made his way back into the house. He was covered in grass stains, he had after all just mowed both the front and back gardens, and before lunch he had trimmed the hedges and moved a few more plants around to see how Petunia liked it that way.

"I don't like how you have moved the plants." She said almost immediately, upon him entering from the back door, and then snapped at him, "Don't get mud all over this floor! I had it spotless!"

I had it spotless, Harry thought, but instead his monotone voice came out, "Yes Aunt Petunia."

"And start making the dinner! It is almost five and we are going out to the cinema later. Dudders wants to see a new film and the cinema is a half hour drive away."

"Yes Aunt Petunia."

"We'll be gone late. Don't make the mistake that you are coming with us, don't make that sullen face at me." Petunia added angrily, moving out of the kitchen so Harry could start making the stew.

Harry didn't know what face she was referring to, he hadn't moved one of his facial muscles, but he just said, "Yes Aunt Petunia", and moved into the kitchen to make dinner.

He cut up the celery, onion, and carrots. He tipped the oiled beef chunks into the great big saucer, and waited until they were browning until he added in all the cut vegetables. He knew Dudley would pick them out, a sure example from his father, but Petunia ate them, and she critiqued his cooking, not the boys. He stirred the rich gravy sauce in, and added some thyme for seasoning.

He cut up fresh bread, some seeded, some white and some brown, and organised them on a wooden tray for the middle of the table. When it was finished, he ladled huge portions of the stew into great bowls, laying them on the table, waiting for them to cool slightly. Meanwhile, he fetched the knives and forks and spoons, because each of the Dursley's was picky about cutlery when eating stew (Petunia liked to eat with a spoon, Dudley and Vernon liked a fork, but complained if they didn't have both), and then the drinks. Vernon would have a beer with this meal, Petunia a glass of red wine, and Dudley would have a massive glass of coca cola.

Harry was pleased with his work. He had moved quick enough to get the cutlery and drinks that the stews were still steaming in their bowls, but were cooling down enough so the Dursley's wouldn't burn their precious tantruming tongues. He moved quickly but silently to the living room door, which was shut, and knocked slightly.

"What is it, boy?" Vernon's gruff voice snapped.

Harry partially opened the door, all three Dursley's were sat watching the television. Bowing his head slightly, not meeting his Uncle's eyes, "Supper is laid out, Sir, and everything is ready for you in there."

"Why so early boy?" Vernon glanced at the clock, "It is only half five! You know we don't eat until six!" Vernon bellowed at him, enraged, "Insolence! Insolent boy! Horrid boy! How many lessons must I teach you before you learn!" The heaving man took his time to stand, and then began to make his way over to Harry, waddling, reaching under his great belly for his belt.

Harry began to stammer, his breath becoming short, his vision becoming dotted, his heart racing in his chest. Petunia watched for a moment and then sighed, clearly disappointed that Harry didn't have to be beaten, while her darling son watched his father avidly.

"Dearest we have that charming film at the cinema tonight - so dinner needed to be a little early. Remember that charming film our Dudders wanted to go see? Don't worry dearest, I instructed the boy carefully. Even he couldn't mess it up."

Vernon stopped on his route to Harry, his hand somewhat shaking near his belt, pondering about what he should do. His shadow towered over Harry, "Well," He said gruffly, yet still slightly menacing, "We will see how dinner turned out first."

He pushed past Harry, and the boy nearly toppled over. The great heaving hulk that was Vernon Dursley was at least five times as big as Harry, and Dudley was at least three times. Petunia just scuttled past, whacking Harry upside the ear on her way, "Come while Dudders and Vernon see how good your food is. It was horrible last night!" She exclaimed, pulling him along, pinching at his shoulder.

You ate every morsel and left none for me! Harry inwardly screamed. He didn't say anything this time, just stayed silent as Petunia stood him by the door of the kitchen and then slid into her seat, one of three at the table. There once had been four but then he had been accepted to Hogwarts. Vernon had reasoned that while those abnormal freaks at that demented school had known about the cupboard under the stairs, they couldn't possibly know how many seats were at their kitchen table, or if Harry was ever allowed to sit in one.

Harry believed otherwise, but he stayed quiet. Dumbledore had never spoken about how he was treated at Privet Drive - and he never thought the old headmaster would. Something to look over, in the fight against Voldemort. After all, what was the suffering of one fifteen year old against the sufferings of war?

Vernon took a great chunk of white bread and dunked it into the stew sauce, picking up a piece of beef and narrowly avoiding the vegetables. The gravy-like sauce dripped as he lifted the bread up to his mouth, taking the whole chunk of bread and meat into his huge gob at once. He hardly chewed before swallowing, and the great morsel was sucked down the whale's throat.

"Adequate. Though we will have to get snacks at the cinema. Cheap cinema nachos will do. They are still better than this." Vernon grumbled afterwards, and Harry inwardly sighed. He watched as Petunia used a spoon to eat some of the onion and celery pieces, while Dudley followed the pattern of his father. Vernon took a whole piece of bread, rudely dunked it into Petunia's small bowl of food, and then threw the sopping mess at Harry. It smashed into his shirt, and Harry held the adequate food there. Dudley laughed at the stain on Harry's shirt, and Petunia pretended not to notice, as she hadn't noticed when Vernon had used her bowl for Harry's food instead of his own. Just a flicker of the eyes, before resuming eating, "Eat that over there. Don't you dare let any sauce hit the floor! Then wash your hands, and bring us desert. You will wait for us to finish. Then you can do the dishes, quickly before we leave, and I will lock you in your room before we go."

"Yes Uncle Vernon."

Harry did as he was told, and stood eating his piece of bread in the corner, while the Dursley's feasted on their own meal at the table. He finished quickly. When they were done, they made no compliments towards the meal, but simply clicked their fingers for dessert, which Harry had quickly prepared after eating his scrap of bread and sauce.

He cleared away their dishes and brought them more food, and stood enviously watching them eat as he cleaned the first lot of dishes. They each had a huge slice of chocolate cake with profiteroles on top, and Harry had placed a gravy boat full of cream in the middle of the table, which they smothered on the cake.

"More cream, boy!" Vernon had actually asked, halfway through his cake, cream practically dripping from his fat lips and onto his chin. His tongue dove out to catch the drop and he banged his spoon against the table, demanding more, looking an insane, greedy King.

Harry had obliged, and then returned to the dishes. The Dursley's did have a dishwasher, but why waste money on using it when they had Harry? That was how Petunia had said it, jokingly, to a neighbour one time, as the woman laughed along. Mrs Bronkehurst had no idea Petunia was telling the truth.

The three at the table had quickly vanquished their puddings, and each went to their rooms to prepare for their evening at the cinema. It was a later showing. It was half six now, and it started at half seven, and would proceed to go on until half nine. That would mean the Dursley's would be gone until at least ten, if not a little later due to exiting the cinema and then traffic on the way home.

Harry could get a Hogwarts essay done in that time - just. He had scribbled down all of this homework titles for the holidays, since he wasn't allowed to keep any of his books with him during the stay at the Dursley's, and hidden the piece of paper in a coat pocket. He had another sheet of paper with some useful facts on, but not many. He usually did some of his homework, all of his homework, late into the summer, when he stayed with Ron at the Burrow. He didn't foresee that happening this summer, so he thought he should just get on with it.

"BOY!" Vernon thundered, coming into the kitchen, newly dressed with a tie on around the bottom of his three necks, "Have you finished those dishes? You need to be locked up! We need to go!"

Harry quickly placed the last bowl on the drainer, and scuttled up the stairs, exactly over his old cupboard bedroom. Petunia was waiting by his door, multiply keys in hand. The great old circle filled with metal rubbing together made Petunia look like a prison warden, stood there with her frown and creased brow.

"Hurry boy!" She snapped, "If we miss the start of the movie waiting in a huge line for snacks, you'll be in for a walloping when we get home!" She practically pushed him into his room, and slammed the door behind him.

Harry sighed as he heard all the locks, one by one, click into place. He stayed still, listening to Petunia's feet go down the stairs, the sound of Dudley's wailing, 'I don't want to be late!', and finally, the ultimate slam of the front door, as the Dursley's left Number Four for the evening.

Harry grabbed his homework notes from the pocket of a coat hanging on the back of the door, and then collapsed on his hard mattress. He reached under the bed, where an array of paper lay. There was his completed Charms homework, three feet on non-verbal spells and charm. There was his completed Herbology homework, studying the Chinese Chomping Cabbage, the Fanged Geranium and the Mandrake. He had been pleased to complete his History of Magic homework, "The Goblin Rebellions; who should take the blame? Four feet required", and his Astronomy homework, "Complete a diagram and description of the Universe as Muggles believe it to be, and then one on how the reality differs." They had all been quite difficult without his books, but he had muddled through. He would have to make changes on the train - on the way to Hogwarts.

That left Harry with his Care of Magical Creatures, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Potions, Transfiguration, Divination and Muggle Studies homework all to complete. Care of Magical Creatures, Divination and Muggle Studies were all easy, but the others were hard work.

Harry sighed. He would do all the easy ones now. They would only take an hour each, maximum, and that would mean three more essays done by the time the Dursley's got home from 'sweet Dudders' film at the cinema. Just in case Ron did decide to write later in the summer and he could go to the Burrow… And then they could do all the hard homework together.

Hagrid had only set a foot long essay for Care of Magical Creatures (he hated setting tough homework), for Divination he just had to predict something (technically using a crystal ball but he didn't have one on him, and he would make it up either way), and then two feet on Muggle hobbies for Muggle Studies.

He was done half an hour before the Dursley's got home, giving him enough time to drink down some water, and be in his ratty pajamas, in bed, with his magical homework hidden, when Petunia checked in on him.

"How was the film, Aunt Petunia?" He politely asked, when the door was wrenched open.

"None of your business." Petunia said curtly, she looked around his room, checking for any signs of his 'freaky behaviour'. Seemingly satisfied, she said,

"Goodnight." with as little feeling as possible, and then re shut and locked the door behind her.

Harry fell back on his bed, sighing slightly. The mattress, still hard despite him jumping about on it, trying to make it softer, was uncomfortable as he lay down on his back. He looked up at the blank ceiling, counting the chips in the paint that no one bothered to do anything about, until his exhausted eyes closed shut.