Petunia Dursley nee-Evans was a perfectly average woman. She had a perfectly healthy son, a perfect man with a perfectly stable job, and a perfect house on a perfect street. She was perfect.
Everything about her was perfect. She had a long neck, all the fashion now. Her waist was thin and her arms were thinner, perfect for this age. She didn't work, giving her plenty of time at home to spoil her only child - also very perfect - until he was perfect too.
But dirt on her knees and blisters on her hands were not perfect, and so it was perfectly acceptable that Petunia Dursley did no such thing as gardening.
But oh, how her gardens were the talk of the town. Immaculate rows of cat-grass and blooming bushes of roses all trimmed to perfection. Red and white hyacinths sprouted along every square inch, never quite bumping into each other yet the perfect distance apart. If a single blade of grass were to make it past her garden walls it would last nary a day before it was plucked out from the dirt.
Petunia lavished in the attention, making sure to always have her hands spread out so her neighbors could see the untainted and silken smooth skin there. She never had more than a speck of dirt under her fingernails that were always filed to perfection.
If she could, Petunia would swear that was her middle name.
But her gardens were not labored over by either her nor her husband, and she wouldn't subject her boy Dudley to bending over dirt and plants.
No, Petunia had another secret - a perfect one.
And her little secret was currently working out in the gardens, keeping them perfect.
Harry Potter swiped a hand over his brow, sweat glistening on the edges. His hands were scratchy with the thin covering of dirt, and he longed to wipe them away. But even he, in his nine-year-old mindset, knew he had to finish gardening before he could wash up. The hose was lying right at his side, but that was for rose bushes when he was done - they weren't getting enough water from the sprinklers, and the rage Aunt Petunia had flown into when she discovered a browning leaf was deeply imprinted on his mind. She had told him that if she were to find another non-green leaf, he would be the one paying for it. So he was going to drown those bushes so they would be just as green as they could be.
The sun beat powerfully down on him, hitting him like an actual wave. He didn't mind gardening that much; after four years of doing it, he found he almost enjoyed it. But when the sun was high and blazing, he wished he could do it at any different time. He enviously watched the few clouds skirting away. They had covered the sun for a few minutes before leaving. The shade had been nice, brief as it was. With his shaggy black hair, the sun was even more attracted to him, if what his Science teacher had said was correct.
Using calculated motions, Harry stood up, careful not to disturb the hyacinth he had been weeding. A strangler root had wrapped around its stem and it had been difficult to fully unwrap it. He walked over to the next bunch of cat-grass. It was long and thin, with blue-green stems that flowed in the wind. He kneeled, the woodchips biting into his unprotected legs. He had forgone protection for shorts, and couldn't have been happier that he did.
Harry dipped his hands into the stems, shifting them apart to search for weeds at their roots. He closed his eyes for a second, their tired weights slipping shut.
So it was quite the surprise when something bit him.
He yelped, falling backward. His hand flew to his face, burning emerald eyes flicking over every surface. Through his thin wired glasses, he saw a tiny needle poking out of his skin, embedded right on his fingertip.
Using the barest tip of his fingernails, he grabbed onto the needle and pulled it out of his skin. He was rewarding when the twanging in his finger mostly went away, although it stung slightly. He put the needle out on his palm and looked at it.
It was tiny and clear colored. He wouldn't have noticed it if it didn't make his finger ache.
Harry shot his attention back to the cat-grass, eyeing the stems with distrust. He didn't want to search back through it, but he knew that Aunt Petunia would kill him and use his body as fertilizer if he didn't find the little monster - he had heard the threat enough to know.
Carefully, oh so carefully, Harry dipped his fingers into the front of the cat-grass and pulled it apart.
To his surprise, he came face-to-face with neither a rodent or a snake or even a creature at it.
It was a plant.
Maybe a foot tall, it had thick dark green leaves with a rough patterning. It had a skinny stem with several tiny buds along the top, and one was already beginning to sprout into a teensy yellow bloom.
Harry recognized this plant. Aunt Petunia had told him that if he ever found one like he was to burn it in the back to avoid it spreading. It was a stinging nettle. He moved closer, his nose only inches away from a leaf. Looking closer, he saw the same tiny needles he found in his finger all over its stem.
He cocked his head to one side, the cat-grass brushing against his black hair. Carefully he reached out a finger to tap along the stem, only to hiss in pain and shoot his hand backward. It burned wildly, focused on a tiny pinprick on his finger. It was like when he had been stung by a bee; it stung and stung but only in one spot.
He leaned back, rocking backward until he was sitting cross-legged. Bringing his finger back up to his eye level, he looked at the tiny needle in his skin. This one was slightly crooked, he noticed. Using his fingernails, he carefully pried the needle from his finger. He rolled it between his fingers, watching the very tip of it flash in the light.
Harry Potter wouldn't realize it for several years later, but that was the moment was hooked.
He, as if acting on some instinct, carefully pushed the cat-grass back over the nettle. The seat of blue-green stems swallowed it up, only a hint of the dark green leaves poking over the top. Harry left the stinging nettle in the garden, perhaps the first time he directly disobeyed his Aunt Petunia.
He stood up, brushing dirt off of his knees. It stuck to his fingers no matter how much it flicked them through the air, trying to knock them loose. He moved a half a foot to the left and knelt again, woodchips pressing into his legs.
He focused on the cat-grass in front of him, carefully digging his fingers through it so check around the roots for any other weeds or blades of grass. There was nothing but a small clover, which was quickly pulled out and tossed behind him, where it would be swept up and thrown in the trash later.
But as much as he concentrated, his mind always went back to the stinging nettle.
The sun was well out of its high spot in the sky when a small boy walked around the back of Privet Drive, Number 4.
Harry, having finished gardening, was walking over to the park that was only a block or two behind his house. It was wonderfully close, and Harry had taken many days on the swingset, gently rocking back and forth while thinking. He couldn't get very high, as he was just about the size of a twig, but it was soothing just swaying softly.
The grass crunched under his feet, still partially frozen from the winter that had only just given way to spring. He guessed he was lucky Aunt Petunia didn't send him out to garden earlier in the spring, with the frosts that came every night and the biting winds that brought snow and hail. But now the sun was back with a fury, and the back of his neck felt like he could probably fry an egg on it, despite him having finished his gardening almost an hour earlier. It had been an interesting session, at least.
The stinging nettle. Aunt Petunia had told him to never let one live, but he had not only kept it alive, he had left it in her garden. Harry felt like berating himself for being so stupid, but the plant had gotten a hold on him. The call of the poisonous sting he felt, it was something he had never experienced before in his life. He could feel a phantom sting on his finger when he thought about it, which was definitely not normal or perfect.
Maybe stinging nettles had something that made him think strangely. Harry resolved that on Monday he would go to the school library and find a book on it. He already spent a good portion of his time there, as it was the perfect hiding spot from Dudley and his gang. He doubted that Dudley had ever read a book past 'Tommy and His Red Wagon'. He grinned widely at the thought.
A branch snapped below his feet and he jumped, startled. His gaze snapped in front of him and he found himself nearly walking past the pack, heading towards the woods beyond. A scarlet blush bright enough to stop a train bloomed on his cheeks, even though there was no one to see him.
Harry skipped backward until he was at the swingset. The slightly rusted surface was still shiny, and the seats were made of the same black plastic. He grinned at it, trotting over to the second swing, his favorite.
He clambered on, sitting on the seat. His feet grazed the woodchips below and he pushed as hard as he could, sending him moving backward. Soon he had a decent pace going, rocking neatly back and forth.
Harry lounged, leaning back against one chain. It creaked in protest but Harry didn't move, closing his eyes and letting the familiar rocking motion lull him into relaxation. He had about three hours until it was dinner; he had checked the clock before coming out here.
The chain groaned slightly as he leaned deeper onto his backrest, but Harry ignored it. This was his little world, where he could be King as long as he closed his eyes and imagined it. A world all for himself.
The snap of woodchips was the only warning he got.
A punch hit him strongly in the back. His eyes snapped open but he was already falling, toppling forward. Wood chips pressed into his glasses while his body tried to recover.
Harry pushed up, his fingers biting into the sharp chunks of wood. He had a pretty good idea of who did that. He turned around, a slight cut on his cheek from a piece of bark. It stung slightly but faded after only a second.
Dudley Dursley was the bane of Harry Potter's existence. At a mere nine years of age, he was more obese than most adults, proportionately. He had a love for all things sweet and a dislike for things that began with 'Harry' and ended with 'Potter'.
He was a round beachball with a flop of blond hair on the top of his head and no visible neck. His blue eyes were already small for his face but were narrowed even further when he looked at the boy on the ground in front of him.
Harry licked his lips before fully turning around to face Dudley and his gang, emerald eyes already hardened and determined. This was his life; he sure knew how to deal with it.
There was Dudley, the great fat loaf himself. A scrawny boy named Pierre who Harry was pretty sure cheated on every test. The muscle of the team was Richie, with powdery blond hair that looked like it had been bleached.
"Hello, freak." Dudley shot at Harry, but the boy barely blinked. Using the same nickname over the course of many years had made its toll on him rather little. Harry could have almost wished he was a bit more creative, but he didn't dare say a word.
"What're you doing on the ground?" Richie grunted out, his brown eyes glinting. His fingers were clenching and unclenching, and Harry's eyes flicked in between those and his face constantly. The group of boys guffawed, but there was still the squeak of their prepubescent voices.
Harry shifted around until he was sitting on the ground, hands braced behind him. He knew that if he ran harder enough in any random direction he could get away safe and sound. His bright eyes flicked in between all of the boys, trying to find the best way out.
But Harry Potter was merely nine years old, and he was not known for the best strategies in the world.
The rustling of leaves was only drowned out by the splintering and scattering woodchips as Harry tried to stand up but fell flat on his face.
His shoe had caught under his own feet as he tried to both spin and stand up at the same time, plopping him right back down.
Dudley, Pierre, and Richie only stared in a rather stunned silence, eyes wide. Then Pierre broke out in loud, rambunctious laughter, one that echoed around the playground. Dudley and Ritchie joined in a second later.
Harry groaned into ground. His shoulder ached something awful after having smacked it onto the ground, and his nose pounded. The sound of the gang's laughter echoed above him, loud and humiliating. He shifted, trying to force his weight underneath his body so he could stand up.
A foot landed squarely on his back, shoving him back to the ground. Harry let out an 'oof', limbs splayed out on either side of him. Hs struggled upward slightly, but the weight increased until he was just laying there, trying not to move.
"Richie." Dudley shuffled slightly, feet tapping against the ground. "What are you doing?"
"I bet I could break a bone," Richie taunted, shifting his weight slightly. He raised one large, meaty hand as if he would try to punch Harry, but had realized he was too low. "Do ya think I could?"
Dudley's brow gleamed suddenly, like a layer of sweat had appeared on it. He jittered back and forth, hands clenching and unclenching. "I don't think you should do that. What if we get caught?" Pierre was dancing backward, too, his brown eyes flashing from Harry to Richie.
"Don't you dare," Harry said as strongly as he could muster, his voice snapping off at the end. He turned his head as far as he could to stare up at Richie, who wasn't doing anything to decrease the weight on his back. "Don't you even think about it."
They'd never threatened to break a bone before; it was only a few straggled punches and a kick or two. There'd never been anything to actually hurt him before.
Richie wasn't intimidated. "Or you'll do what?" He sneered, raising his foot slightly like he would stomp on Harry.
Harry saw the opportunity and snapped at it. He crawled as fast as he could away from the gang, shooting as fast as he could to a reasonable distance. He scrambled at the ground, pushing up with his feet. He shot to his feet, staring at Richie.
The boy looked at him with a rather confused look in his eye, lowering his foot back to the ground and the path of scattered woodchips.
Harry's eyes flicked in between all of them again as if something would change. He shook his head as if it would clear thoughts, slowly backing up. His gaze fell upon Dudley and narrowed.
Harry waited only a second before turning around and booking it. He sprinted as fast as he could through the park, shooting out on the other side. The sun was closing in on the horizon, sending shadows over his path.
The path was well worn, with footprints pressed onto every part. The path ran straight up to the sidewalk on Privet Drive, so all in all, it was only a five to ten minute run there. Though Harry couldn't run all the way. He paused once. Maybe twice.
He was nine bloody years old, thank you very much.
Number four was quickly approaching when the sun started to touch the horizon. Harry trotted the rest of the way there, calming his quick and shallow breaths. He turned in every direction but didn't see any of the members of the gang, much less Dudley.
Harry crept back to the house, going into the garden. He was so, so careful not to step on anything, even hopping for a fair distance to avoid cat-grass. He ducked underneath the windowsill, nearly hitting his head on it. He waited for a second but didn't hear anything. Slowly, he peeked his head up to glance over the sill.
His gaze met a blank looking living room with a rather large telly and two long couches neatly tucked up in one corner. On the opposite wall, there was a long counter made of light tan wood and a spiderwebbed gray granite. On the wall, there was a digital clock, which Harry's attention snapped to.
Still twelve minutes until he needed to start cooking. He ducked back underneath the windowsill, examining his surroundings. The rosebushes were right in front of him but with a careful jump of the bunch hyacinths, he would be fine. Executing it as best he could, he managed to get over with only a disturbed spot of dirt. He quickly knelt and smoothed it out, placing wood chips over it. His attention slid over to a lone patch of cat-grass by his left elbow.
Slowly, almost hypnotically, he parted the blue-green stems. The bumpy, dark green leaves and thin stalk glittering with tiny needles stared up at him, barely hidden within the cat-grass. Harry watched it sway slightly in a breeze, brushing up against the other stems. He remembered Dudley, the punch to his back, the foot squashing him into the ground.
He looked up, but couldn't see the clock from there. But from a rough guess, Harry though he might still have ten minutes before he had to cook. Reaching forward, he began to pull off some of the needles one by one, wincing whenever one stung him. The stinging nettle stood strong throughout it all.
Harry laid underneath the stairs in a tiny room that he had to curl his legs to his chest to fit comfortably. He was wide awake, having only been sent here a few minutes ago. His ears were pricked towards the ceiling, focusing, waiting.
A cry of surprise echoed through the house down to him, and Harry Potter smiled.
Dudley sure hadn't expected needles in his covers.
Bam! Here's a new story I've had for a while. Sorry for my WDNWTF fans, but I want to also write this.
This, to my knowledge and much scourging of fanfiction, is a very different story than most. I hope you can enjoy it and even offer suggestions. That's actually something that's very important to me; I want everyone to help out with this story. SO if you have even the slightest idea for me, submit it! You just might get in and there's no bad thigns that happen, so why not? Easy way to get your way in a (hopefully) good story!
But let me make it very clear: Harry is NOT going to be dark and evil. He simply has a… disorder and a certain grudge against the Dursleys. He won't be torturing them or anything. Sorry evil Harry fans… :/
But anyway! Please read and review!