This idea was something that hit me out of nowhere and I felt that I just had to continue down that train of thought.
Disclaimer: There are only two certainties in this world: The continuity of Life and the inevitability of Death. Everything in between is merely an illusion we created for ourselves.
I do not own Harry Potter.
The door of the fridge opened with nary a squeak and light shone upon the scrawny body of a terrified ten-year-old. In the dark of the night, the dim luminescence of the fridge glowed like a miniature sun, and Harry almost lost his courage when the light hit his bright green irises.
But led by the hunger roaring with rage in his stomach, Harry dared a hand into the lower rack where most of the leftovers were stored, and with a swift sleight of the fingers that belied his tingling nerves, he gathered a morsel of food before rushing to close the door. The door hit the surface with a thud, which echoed in the terrifying silence of the kitchen, and his heart pounded in his chest as he waited for the inevitable noise of his uncle shouting in a fit of fury.
The silence prevailed.
Clutching his pilfered meal in his hands, he gulped down the heart that got stuck in his throat, and with a smile that could rival the radiance of the full moon outside, Harry ran to his supposedly locked cupboard without triggering a creak in the wooden floor. It was commendable that a mere child, no matter how slim, could glide through the air at such speeds but there was no loving family to cheer for his achievements with a smile.
Mindful of his previous folly, he gently closed the door to his cupboard and collapsed down on his rickety bed, with blood rushing through his veins. To the hungry kid, the scrap of cooked meat lying on his bed seemed like a pirate's chest of gold, and without wasting a moment, he ravaged the food like a boy starved for weeks; which actually was true. His mind conjured scenarios of Dudley leaping out of a corner to snatch the food out his hands or his aunt smacking him on the head before punishing him with a ton of chores, and with renewed vigor, he ate the paltry meal in a matter of seconds.
Once his hunger was partly satiated, the possible ramifications of his actions reached his mind and the dread that left him a few moments ago rushed back with vengeance. Holding his head in his quivering hands, he palmed his face before sighing. All the probable scenarios zoomed through his mind and with each passing thought, his body trembled harder.
But as the seconds flew, exhaustion crept upon his senses, partly due to his anxiety and largely due to his exploits, and after praying to the deities he didn't believe in, he slumped down on the mattress. The last thing he thought about was the feeling of excitement that coursed through his veins as he stole. Ignoring the stray thought, he gave in to his fatigue.
The annoying noise of knuckles rapping on the door hit his ears, and with a tired shake of his head, he got out of his bed. He stretched his body while making sure not to hit the walls and walked out of the door before wincing as the light hit his eyes. The usual clamor in the hall reached his ears, with his aunt shouting orders at him all the way from the kitchen, while his Uncle dutifully added his own grumpy remarks as he read the newspaper.
The events of the previous night did not reach his mind until he was staring at the bacon he was frying in the pan. He steadied himself to avoid falling down his makeshift stool as he jerked in shock. Oh, god. He was going to die a slow, painful death. For the entire time the Dursley family was feasting, he was struggling not to lose the grip on his meager reserves of courage and come out clean to his aunt or uncle. As he nibbled on the crumbs of bacon bestowed upon him, Dudley looked at him suspiciously before going to back to chugging down the orange juice. That was the only precarious situation he had found himself in for the whole morning.
He escaped Scot-free.
During his entire stay at school, Harry was on cloud nine. Dudley, who noticed the strange behavior of his cousin planned an ambush with the help of his moronic group of miscreants, and the result of which was why Harry was dashing down the stairs. It was only through years of practice that Harry was able to outrun an entire gang who were hell-bent on beating him up and he ducked through another corridor to reach the area where the senior students usually resided.
He could see a few older boys smoking in a usually desolate corner and he was about to avoid that particular area when he heard one of the teachers shout. "Hey! What are you doing there?"
Harry cringed in fear and readied himself for another detention. It so happened that the teacher was all for ignoring him to chase the older students; who immediately scurried away when they heard the shout.
His gaze fell upon a pack of cards cluttered on the floor, left forgotten by the seniors. After making sure that no one was around, he piled the cards into a neat stack. After living his whole ten years of life with a distinct lack of any toy to play with, it was only natural that Harry was fascinated by mere playing cards. It helped that they were of high quality; probably the property of some spoiled brat like Dudley. After the incident that occurred the previous night, his moral values were a bit skewed and his self-reasoning for stealing them solidified his resolve to keep them for himself.
He had seen many of the magicians on TV - while sweeping the floor or cooking in the kitchen - employ a set of cards for most of their tricks called...misdirection or something...and they cut huge watermelons or made the cards disappear with merely a flick of the wrist. Not just a few times, Harry was captivated by their simple maneuvers which resulted in unbelievable acts of shattering the reality itself and there were times when he hoped that his supposed freakish nature could do such things. His hopes were in vain, it always seemed.
But staring at the deck of shimmering cards in his small hand, he felt a fire ignite in his heart and it grew, engulfing his entire thought process with single-minded determination. He grinned before drawing a random card from the deck.
A Joker. The Cheshire grin on the clown's face matched Harry's own and he returned the card to its plastic family. The Pledge.
He would be lying and not a little exaggerating if he told that the art of misdirection came naturally to him. It took him a whole day to just learn how to shuffle the deck without making the cards land on the floor in an undignified heap.
Even after that, he succeeded only once before plunging to step one again. It seemed that it was not as easy as the performers on the TV made it seem. His thin, nimble fingers were a huge advantage while holding or drawing a card but his small hands nullified the control he had to cold hell. Not that it discouraged him but he couldn't say that it didn't frustrate him to no end. Not just once, he felt the urge to throw the cards into a bin but that was only until he realized that these were the only possession he ever had.
Another reason was that these cards gave him a purpose. Gone were the days where he would sulk in his cupboard until the night only to wake up in the morning to live the same mundane routine once again. His time during the breaks at school was not spent biting his nails or staring at the other kids with a heavy ache in his chest.
His proficiency at misdirection flowed into his stealing skills and every night, he would enter the enemy territory a.k.a Dursley kitchen and emulate the James Bond character he had seen on TV, ducking and crawling under the table or the sofa, like a spy, before stealing the leftovers with a quick flick of his hand. Extra food went into the secret dungeon a.k.a hole in the floor and he would practice his skills while lazily munching on the extra food.
Insufferable bastards a.k.a spoiled brats had their property stolen in a blink of an eye and the teachers were pulling their hair out of frustration as the complaints piled up. No one ever had the reason to be suspicious of the timid, underfed, green-eyed boy sitting in a corner of the classroom.
Occasionally, Harry had the desire to show off his prowess to gain one or two friends but then he would have to reveal all of his well-hidden secrets and if there was one thing he surmised from observing several magicians, it was that a skilled magician should never reveal their secrets. It was easier said than done, but then, just the thought of falling back into his old routine of physical and mental abuse frightened him to no end and it was not something he was looking forward to. So, as he had unerringly done for years, he ruthlessly quashed the urge for any sort of companionship.
Not all of his skill was accumulated from his own ideas and experiments. The school library had a very good, albeit a limited collection of books and articles on the art of misdirection. Considering the little time he had to practice this art due to his chores and schoolwork, it was more than sufficient for now.
Patience and extreme control over one's emotions were one of many qualities required for a person to master these deceivingly simple techniques but Harry Potter was anything but a slacker. He studied rigorously under the watchful eye of the librarian and it was convenient that Dudley's gang would never dare to bully him in such a place.
Patience was something that one would indubitably develop when they stay in an abusive home where your own relatives do not feed you for days and sometimes you have to wait for an indeterminate amount of time to just go to the bathroom.
But control over emotions was something he was not good at and the accidents that randomly happened around him when he's pushed to the edge was a testament to this widely known fact.
Meditation made him want to jump over the ledge; with frequent headaches especially in the vicinity of his lightning-shaped scar and the feeling that something was crawling along the surface of his mind; It was no wonder that he hated meditation with a passion. The books said that he would get used to it after a few days but it seemed that his mind had its own mind. Seriously.
But he found out that pain was an excellent driving factor and a great motivator. Instead of the standard position of sitting cross-legged on the floor, he inverted himself, with his body parallel to the adjacent wall and as all the blood rushed into his head, he concentrated on the agony he experienced as his scar burned. Definitely a great motivator, he agreed, as his scar burned an angry red.
His control over his emotions led to a huge decline in the number of accidents around him and if there was someone happier than his relatives, it's himself. Less number of accidents meant less number of punishments and detentions and hence, more time for himself. It was a win-win if he had ever seen one.
But he could only hone his skills for so long and don't end up being bored; So bored that he was currently sitting on the rooftop of his school where he had once found himself after struggling to escape another thrashing from his cousin's gang.
Even after all this time, he had no idea how he ended up here out of all the places in Little Whinging. Shuffling his cards in his hand, he watched indifferently as one of the cards separated from the deck due to a sudden gust of air and it glided down to the ground. Only after it hit the ground did it occur to him that one of the cards was out of reach and it took another moment for the realization to hit home. "Oh, hell"
He sighed, berating himself for being so careless. Now, he would have to wait until he got down to pick the card and that's only if someone didn't beat him to it first. God, he was stupid. Now that he climbed all the way to the top with great effort, he still had to figure out how to descend down and in a ridiculous way of defying common sense, climbing down was not as easy as climbing up.
He could see the card glinting back at him...wait a minute...glinting? He gazed at the sky, noticing the black clouds hovering above his head and the distinct lack of the Sun. Then how the hell was his card shining? Now that he thought about it, there were moments in the night when his cards lit up the whole room before losing their radiance as he opened his eyes. Were they sucking out his life force or something? That was not a comforting thought.
He picked out one of his favorite Joker cards and scrutinized it until a telltale glint emanated from the card and as he concentrated harder, the brightness amplified. Startled, he dropped the card and it landed down on the roof, appearing as though it didn't just glow like a street light in the night moments ago. Before he could lose another card to the traitorous wind, he clutched it in his hand and swiveled it on his palm. What the heck was happening here?
He shifted his gaze to the card lying on the ground and noticed that it was a seven of spades. How could he even perceive it from such a height? Nothing suspicious. But then why was he feeling a tugging in his mind as he stared at the card? It was a moment of significance. This simple question could open a mysterious door and that journey could lead to an adventure. And that adventure could lead to an entirely new life. No pressure.
Like a man possessed, Harry jumped to his feet without shifting his gaze from the seven of spades, and without wasting a moment in thought, as thinking would lead to doubt and doubt would lead to inaction, he leaped from the rooftop. A leap of faith, in the most literal of terms.
Had anybody asked Harry what was running through his mind before taking a freaking dive from the rooftop, Harry couldn't have answered. Not because he was hesitant to reveal a huge secret but because he had no effing clue.
Nothingness was the apt way to describe his state of mind at that time. Was he aware of what he was about to do? No. Was he feeling an unmeasurable amount of power running through his veins? God, no. Did he have any idea that he could end up as tomato sauce on the ground, with his brains splattered like the said tomato? Of course not. He was not crazy. If he had any idea, he wouldn't have jumped in the first place. Obviously.
But one certain feeling was prominent. Conviction. Not hope, though. Hope would have meant that he was aware of the chances of failure. Of that, he wasn't.
Hope betrayed him in the past. Stabbed him in the back when he was most vulnerable. As a child, he had hoped that his parents would someday rescue him from the hellhole he called home. Then he got to know that his parents were dead.
Maybe a distant relative? His only living relatives were the Dursleys.
A hero, someone who lived to save young children like him from a life of abuse and loneliness. Heroes didn't exist in the real world and if they did, they did not care about little boys like him.
So as each possibility died, his hope deteriorated; until it died a pitiful death on a late Saturday night, while he was sobbing in his cupboard after his uncle told him how much he was worth to his relatives and this world in general.
So, no. Hope was out of the equation for so long that it was laughable to even mention it in the passing.
But conviction? Harry never resolutely believed in anything his entire life. Probably because he thought for so long that his life was not his own to live. Why believe in something when you were not in control of your own fate?
But for the first time, as he stared at the stolen card, ironically, he felt a sense of belonging. That whatever the card was, it was a part of him. Now if he didn't have conviction upon himself then whom could he possibly have upon?
As the air gently lapped at his face, Harry thought of nothing but the seven of spades. Imagining the card vividly in his mind, he tugged hard at the thread connecting them and commanded it to return to him. Now the school building was not that tall and in a precious few seconds, after which the cold air caressing his body would be replaced by hard ground, he would have to figure out the mystery of the card. It helped that he had experienced this feeling before and grasping that feeling in mind, he disappeared.
The feeling of weightlessness dissipated into thin air, figuratively, and his body slammed onto the ground with much less force than anticipated. It certainly hurt but the sense of euphoria that encompassed him eclipsed everything he had ever felt and probably everything that he ever will. He had teleported! The Turn.
Did you ever come across that fleeting feeling or a dream or an idea that you once experienced but then before you could confine it between your fingers, it dissipated like fine mist?
If you did, you probably hate it more than anything you ever hated in your life. At least, that was what Harry felt moment.
Whatever he did the other day, it was impossible to reproduce again and this time, he was not sure that he could survive another suicidal encounter with the ground.
The consequences of his action hit him the moment he was capable of coherent thought and the spine-chilling images of his death were drifting through his mind in high definition. He couldn't ascend the stairs for days without quivering like a leaf stuck in a storm. Heights were scary things indeed.
At least now, he had a vague idea of what was happening and one of his philosophies in life was that something is always better than nothing. It wouldn't solve your problems but it was useful when you were stuck in a shady corner. Maybe it was about time to try the watermelon trick.
He imagined the feeling of complete control over the card and commanded it to sharpen enough that it could cut a watermelon in half. He bought a watermelon from the spare money he stole from his uncle - Not that it was as tough as it sounded. His uncle had the attention span of a goldfish - and placed it on a park bench.
Usually, kids didn't visit this place because it was so far from the entrance/ exit that a zombie could catch up to you by the time you escaped. Since it was in such a deserted area, no lights were installed and during the night, it was as dark as it could be. So, a deathly combination for scared kids and did you know the best part? Dudley still wakes up his mommy to go to the bathroom.
He threw the card, a four of diamonds and it hit the green melon before dropping down like a puppet with its strings cut. Apparently, watermelons were tougher than he thought.
Again, he tried. No result.
Concentrate harder. No result.
Imagine the card cutting the melon. Ah! Damn. That card went so out of trajectory that it wasn't even funny. No result.
Vivid imagery? Nope. By the end, some of the cards were lying in a heap on the mud below the melon while some were scattered on the bench.
He reached home far later than usual and by that time, the moon was hanging in the sky, partially hidden by the clouds. It was a starless night.
His soft knock on the door echoed in the silent hall and untypically, Dudley opened the door with a smirk on his face. "You are dead today", he whispered or at least tried to but it still came out as the noise of a tin-can scraped against a tar road.
Harry raised his eyebrows at the glee on his cousin's face before shrugging. If Dudley was being stupid, then everything was fine with the world. Harry closed the door.
By the time he turned around, Dudley was holding his collar in a vice-grip, with the stupid smirk still visible on his face. God how he wanted to lacerate the smirk out of his face.
With barely any effort he ducked under Dudley's hand before poking Dudley's wrist with his index finger. As a slight shock trailed down Dudley's arm, he released his grip on Harry's collar. All of it happened in under a second and by the next moment, Harry was standing in front of Dudley with a similar smirk on his face.
"How did you do it?" Dudley yelled in a fit of rage, shaking as though he was denied his fifth meal of the day. As Dudley's flushed face resembled a rotten tomato, Harry took pity on the boy.
"Magic", Harry smiled cheekily, unaware that his uncle was dallying around the corner. The temperature of the room plummeted to negative values and Harry belatedly noticed the punch his uncle aimed at his head. He hit the door behind him with a resounding thump and grazed down the door until his knees hit the floor.
It was as though the word triggered some sort of invisible 'On' switch in his uncle's head and it was only his luck that this happened to be a Saturday. Saturday meant extra work for his uncle while all of his other co-workers lounged in their homes. It was his uncle's fault that he could never complete any of his work on time but no matter the reason, it was Harry who suffered the brunt of his uncle's fury.
"You will never speak the word again in this house if you want to live, you ungrateful freak", his uncle yelled with rage. Even through his distorted vision, Harry could observe that his uncle's face reached a whole new spectrum of color. A light purple painted on a fat blob of red and blue. Normally, this image would have set Harry into a fit of laughter but today he would be grateful if he could utter a word.
It was nearly after a minute of incessant beatings that his aunt seemed to take pity on her nephew and she pushed him into the cupboard with a forceful shove. He landed on the wooden floor in a bruised heap, reminiscent of the last time he was in such a state.
But what no one noticed was the glint in Harry's green irises. He rose from his position and chucked the two fifty pound bills he stole from his uncle during the thrashing into his secret dungeon.
He crawled over to the bed and took the support from the cot's leg to steady himself. He took out the deck of cards that were in his pocket and pulled out a random card. A smile blossomed on his blackened visage and blood slipped down into his mouth from his broken nose to coat his white teeth in a river of red.
While his uncle was hell-bent on shattering every bone in his body, Harry had a flash of insight when he felt that he might die if this abuse continued. The insight led to a discovery about what he was missing when he was trying to cut the watermelon.
He merely thought of cutting the melon but it required a sinister desire to truly cut it, as though it was alive and he must wish from the bottom of his heart to kill it. To watch it bleed. To feel the life trickle out its body. To be ruthless.
Unlike the other times, he did not throw the card while imagining the wall break or feel an overwhelming strength in his hands. He aimed the card to destroy the wall; without a hint of pity.
The playing card sailed through the air with a purpose and the wall in its way was merely an obstruction. It cut through the concrete like butter before embedding itself into the wall.
He did not have the energy to even cheer at his success but the sense of fulfillment that settled in his heart made up for it. He limped over to the wall before plucking the card out of it. A king of diamonds.
On that fateful day, A wizard was born in the Cupboard under the Stairs, Number four, Privet Drive, Little Whinging.
Author's note: So, how was it? Do review your opinion. It helps me to further improve my ideas and change accordingly. Thank you.
The Pledge. The Turn. The Prestige.
If you do not know what these three words mean, then you missed one of the best movies of the past decade. It's 'The Prestige' by Christopher Nolan.