Harry Potter of Number 4, Privet Drive, was not normal, thank you very much.

However much the five-year-old would pray and beg and wish that he just couldn't be normal. Instead, he was an ungrateful freak. And ungrateful freaks weren't allowed to be happy, at least, that's what the child's guardian, a large man by the name of Vernon Dursley had told him since the day he had been left on the man's doorstep, a mere one-year-old.

Four years, two months and one day later, it was the second of January 1986, and the young boy was busily preparing breakfast for his 'family', his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, cousin Dudley and Aunt Marjorie, better known as Aunt Marge, who was staying with them for the New Year. The shouting of Vernon Dursley would not wake the neighbours as many would expect it would, they were well used to it by now.

Harry whimpered slightly as his hand was pressed down against the still burning gas hob as punishment for burning the bacon. Vernon merely growled and pressed down harder on the small boy's hand, burning it worse for daring to make a sound while being punished at all. He was then punched hard in the face by the beefy man and promptly thrown into the cupboard under the stairs that was his room.

Meanwhile, Sirius Black was lying awake in Azkaban. It had been four years since he came here. Roughly anyway. He counted by Christmas days when the dementors would relent ever so slightly, allowing Sirius a break from the screaming. At current, Sirius was in the form of Padfoot, watching a dementor glide towards the cell as it did every day. The creature moved straight past as it usually did with empty cells. It had never done that with his cell; he was far too dangerous for them to ignore, with far too much determination and far too many happy memories. He frowned, trying to figure out what was different this time.

Then it hit him. He was in his animagus form. They couldn't sense him.

He had a way to get out!

Harry sat in his cupboard, silently sobbing, nursing his injured hand under the light of the candle. Strictly speaking, he wasn't supposed to have a candle. He had no means of lighting it in the tiny room. But, whenever he really needed it, the fire always seemed to help him. It was his only friend, there to light the path for him, to console him, to chase away the bad dreams. It let him control it. It would spread on his command, diminish by will, allow him to hold it or even just warm him.

Usually, it didn't hurt him. It only ever hurt him when his family were there, and he knew why. It hurt him so he didn't get in more trouble for being an ungrateful freak who couldn't even be punished properly, let alone do anything else. Sometimes, it seemed to talk to him, whispering words of encouragement or kindness. On occasion, he could even see a face in the flames! He had even written about that face for the creative writing challenge his teacher, Miss Dolyak, had set the class.

The man in the fire looked quite haggard, with dark hair made of smoke or ash, a thin face like Harry's, and strange eyes. They were grey, he didn't quite know how, but they were a handsome dove grey. Sometimes they looked hollow and sad, but most of the times he saw him, he had bright happy eyes that sparkled. The man could even turn into a big black doggy! Harry loved doggies, and he loved the man even more, even if he only saw him in the fire.