One of Harry's earliest memories was being locked in a dark, tight space at the Dursley's. He could hardly ever call it his "home".
It happened after the first few days of attending kindergarten; a Muggle's school for children of ages 4 to 5. Harry didn't understand the concept of being left alone in a strange place full of other children. His immediate thoughts were that Aunt Petunia left him there for dead. He thought that the other children around him were there for similar reasons, and was confused as to why they were smiling. Perhaps they were oblivious of their fate. Didn't they see the relieved look on the adults' faces when they left them? Aunt Petunia had even said "good riddance" to him when she left the location.
Those first few days were a few of Harry's worst. He would be told what to do by another adult – a stranger whom introduced themselves as someone the other children and himself could trust. He didn't believe any of that, but followed their orders least they got angry and decided to use the belt. When following orders of "getting along" with the other children was finally over, all the children were herded to line up outside the room. It greatly surprised Harry that the children's parents and guardians came back to pick them up and bid the one called "teacher" a "see you tomorrow."
Harry waited with the children, of course. Up until the very last child left with their parents. There was a silence that followed when he looked up at the teacher, confused. Deep down, Harry was not surprised. Not surprised at all.
"I'm sure they'll be here soon, Harry," the teacher assured him, slightly worrying their lip.
"Soon" was 45 minutes later when Mr. Dursley stomped into the school, grabbed Harry by the shoulder, and started to drag him outside to the car. -All the while mumbling angrily about how Harry was not his responsibility, how he thought he only had to pick up Dudley in a school that wasn't a "shithole" like Harry's school, and about how he was supposed to know that the git attended school now.
When Harry snuck a glance back at the teacher, he saw their confused yet relieved expression. It was to be expected, of course. Of course the teacher would want to relieve themself of their burden named "Harry".
The very next day, the events repeated themselves. Harry followed the instructions of the teacher. He kept his head down so as to not draw attention to himself. When another child refused to help clean up after playtime, even after several attempts at scolding them, the teacher raised their voice. Harry shrank into himself; making himself appear as small as possible. He hoped that the teacher's wrath wouldn't be upon him any time soon.
When the teacher suddenly called his name, their voice was laced with anger.
"Harry! I want you to look at me when I'm speaking. This clean up rule applies to everyone. Yourself included."
Harry was confused. He had always kept his head down. It was an effective defense against Mrs. and Mr. Dursley. He found that if he kept his head down, they would yell at him less because it meant that he "knew his place".
Harry slowly lifted his head to meet the teacher's eyes. Harry wasn't sure, however, if the teacher's expression softened in response. He thought that perhaps it was a play on the light or that he was suddenly very, very sick. Then, Harry realized that it was neither of those things that blurred his vision.
It was his tears.
When Mr. Dursley came to pick him up that day, the teacher didn't simply let him grab Harry by the shoulder again. They asked if they could speak in private with Mr. Dursley.
Mr. Dursley whirled around, eyes staring accusingly at Harry, and Harry's head went down to avoid his eyes once more.
When the teacher and Mr. Dursley's talk was over, the latter was silent right up until the very moment they entered the house. Once the door was slammed and locked, Petunia strode up to them, her eyes just as aflame as her husband's.
"What took you so long? Dudley's part of a prestigious afterschool club now! You go get him from his room and drive him there!"
"This git was crying in school!" Mr. Dursley shoved Harry towards . "The bloody teacher accused me of abusing him in our very own house! Can you believe their nerve!"
"Harry!" Mrs. Dursley became even more furious. "How dare you embarrass us like that? You're not allowed to cry! I forbid you to say anything to your teacher! My word! What a demon of a child! Just like your mo-"
"Stop it!" Harry lifted his head and looked right into Mrs. and Mr. Dursley's eyes. Earlier, his teacher taught him that it was good to look people in the eyes while they were talking. It was also good to express what he was feeling. Especially if he was uncomfortable about something. Perhaps this wasn't what his teacher had in mind, however Harry was listening and listening. He didn't like what he was hearing, and he wanted to let it be known.
"How dare you!" both Dursleys roared at once.
"Love," Mrs. Dursley's voice was suddenly very calm. However, unlike her previous outbursts, her voice was devoid of fire. It was cold as she gave her husband the order.
"Get the belt. And then lock him under the stairs. He will learn his lesson."
One of Harry's earliest memories was being locked in a dark, tight space at the Dursley's.
How fitting that the very place he was locked in became his room and shelter from further abuse for years to come.
It was also then that he understood what it was like to want so much to stay in school and not go home. That night, Harry went into the dusty, spider-webbed cupboard and swore to himself, "I will never become like them."
Author's Note: And that is the end of the first chapter. Feel free to leave either a fav or a comment.