A/N: I apologize for the long wait! The muse was really not with me on this one and it's the shortest one! I have one more chapter - a wrap-up chapter, and that will make up for this one. Also, Harry is a lot younger than Hermione and Ron but I felt this would have been right around the time he stopped longing for the Dursleys' affection and I wanted to catch him at a time that was still important.Thanks for reading!
Harry Potter jumped out of bed. It was a sunny summer day. He was eight today! Ever since he and Dudley had been let out of school, Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon had been talking about a special trip. Harry just knew the trip would be for his birthday! Maybe they would go to Spain! Harry and Dudley had been learning about Spain before school let out. There was loads of cool stuff!
Warm beaches with hot sand, everyone speaking a foreign language and running with the bulls! Maybe they could see a real bull fight!
Harry got dressed at top speed. He stopped in front of the hall mirror. His hair was sticking up in all different directions like a naughty porcupine. Harry went to the bathroom and ran some water over a comb. Aunt Petunia didn't like it so much that his hair never lay flat like Dudley's. All Aunt Petunia had to do with Dudley's hair was pull the comb through it once and it sat on his giant fat head, flat and calm. No matter how many times Harry combed and watered his hair it just sprang up behind the comb as prickly as ever.
Maybe today Aunt Petunia would see he had tried.
When he reentered the hallway he saw his stupid cousin waddling down the stairs. It was too bad he would have to come to Spain too.
Harry thought of other places they could go. Maybe they couldn't go as far as Spain. Aunt Petunia pointed to a pan of eggs she had just cracked onto the griddle. Harry pulled a stool to the stove and watched until they needed flipping. Scotland was cool too! They might see a Highlander and hear some bagpipes! Or Ireland! They could see the Giant's Causeway!
Harry flipped the eggs and Uncle Vernon came into the kitchen. He didn't say anything about Harry's hair. It must be okay today! He also didn't say happy birthday, but Uncle Vernon wasn't one for noticing these things so Harry decided not to be upset about it.
Aunt Petunia finished with the bacon and allowed Harry to sit at the table with Dudley and Uncle Vernon.
"Petunia," said Uncle Vernon, "Have you talked to the travel agent about that trip?" He peered over his newspaper at Harry and Dudley and then disappeared behind it again. "You know, the special trip?"
"Yes, dear," said Aunt Petunia, now ladling eggs and bacon onto plates for everyone. "We're all set to go this afternoon!"
No more was said while everyone tucked in, but Harry could feel his insides on fire. They must be going somewhere really great if Uncle Vernon wanted to keep it a surprise from Dudley. He didn't expect they would buy Harry any souvenirs but maybe if he behaved himself and Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon were in a good mood, he would ask if they could buy him a postcard for him to hang on the wall.
"You boy," said Uncle Vernon as Harry rose from the table. He immediately sank back to his chair.
"Yes, Uncle Vernon?"
"Be sure you're packed. We'll be away for at least a week."
"Will it be sunny there?" Harry couldn't keep from asking.
"Summer now. Sunny everywhere, isn't it? Go pack and stop asking questions."
Harry barely suppressed an eye roll and only managed as he thought of all the cool things he would see. He had a little pocket money. Maybe he had enough to buy a disposable camera! He took his plate to the sink and then left the kitchen to run to the cupboard under the stairs to throw everything he owned into a duffel bag.
It wasn't much! There were a few trousers Dudley had outgrown and a couple of jumpers. He only had short-sleeved undershirts so hopefully they weren't going anywhere too smart. He packed one of the jumpers just in case.
Knowing Uncle Vernon and Dudley liked to take their time over their food, Harry dashed back to the kitchen, bag in hand. He was so happy he felt like he was walking on air!
When he reached the kitchen Dudley shrieked. Aunt Petunia turned around so fast the water in the pan she was holding sloshed out and doused Uncle Vernon right where he sat.
Uncle Vernon spluttered and looked up at Harry and immediately turned purple.
Dripping, steaming, and tugging at his mustache like it was a lifeline, Uncle Vernon bellowed, "Get out of the kitchen boy!"
Harry looked around, as though expecting Uncle Vernon to be yelling at another boy, but it was just him. He turned around and went back to the cupboard under the stairs, tears falling thick and fast. He didn't realize that he hadn't just felt like he was walking on air. He had been walking several inches above the ground.
Not long after that Harry heard Aunt Petunia's hurried footsteps. The lock clicked, predictably.
Harry threw himself miserably on the little cot. He stared up at the spiders making webs.
"We'll come get you when it's time to go."
Harry almost asked why he had to be in here at all but remembered he wasn't supposed to ask questions. At least they were still taking him on the trip.
Harry spent the rest of the morning trying to stem the flow of tears. He tried to think of all the reasons he should be angry. He even tried to make the sight of Uncle Vernon, covered in soapy dishwater and tugging on his mustache, funny, but he supposed it was the kind of thing that would only be funny later.
Finally, around two in the afternoon according to his watch, the cupboard door opened again.
"Well, come on," said Aunt Petunia sharply, as though it were perfectly natural to lock your nephew in where most people kept their hoovers.
Harry merely grabbed his duffel bag and followed the Dursleys out to the car. He was so excited he could hardly keep himself from bouncing up and down in the backseat.
"Where are we going?" he finally asked.
Uncle Vernon turned around so fast he cricked his neck. "WE?" He bellowed. Then he laughed. And Harry felt a horrible sinking sensation. Aunt Petunia began to titter stupidly and Dudley guffawed, sounding the way a baboon must sound when it hears a good joke.
"We!" Uncle Vernon cried again, pounding the steering wheel in his mirth. "Did you hear that, Petunia?" Aunt Petunia was now giggling so hysterically she could not answer, merely waving the handkerchief she was using to wipe the tears from her eyes before they ruined her makeup. Dudley shouted, "I heard him too, Dad!"
"We – your aunt, and cousin and I – are going to Majorca. You -" he turned around again - "are going to be as far away from us as possible."
This time Harry did not cry. This time, Harry got very, very angry. He got so angry he felt like he might explode.
The car suddenly spun sideways. Harry grabbed onto the door handle and Dudley swung into him. Harry felt like he had been hit by a boulder. He'd lost his breath and was wheezing. The car had finally settled on the sidewalk.
"What in the blazes!" Uncle Vernon roared, jumping out of the car. The back tire, the one closest to Harry, had exploded. Harry derived a lot of satisfaction from watching Uncle Vernon maneuvering the car back on to the road and putting the spare on while Aunt Petunia shrieked they were going to be late and miss the flight and helpful passersby were gruffly brushed off. Dudley was playing on his Gameboy, oblivious.
Finally the spare was on and Uncle Vernon, after glowering at Harry as though it were his fault, got back in and drove off.
He pulled up in front of Mrs. Figg's house. It was horrible in there. It wasn't that Harry didn't like cats, but he felt there should be a law about one person having so many. He supposed it would be nice to spend some time in the company of someone who actually wanted to talk to him.
Harry watched the Dursleys drive away and then was led into the house by Mrs. Figg. She had some cake for him. It was quite stale. They had a fry up for dinner and watched the news, while Mrs. Figg fell asleep in her armchair.
Harry grabbed some sheets from the linen closet and made himself as comfortable as a person could be on the lumpy, bumpy couch. There were no spiders on the ceiling to watch here, so Harry looked out the window instead, watching the stars come out. He felt the tears on his face but did not wipe them away. There was no one here to see.
He did not want to admit it to himself but Harry knew deep inside that his greatest desire was to be part of a family. Just for one day.