I write for pleasure (because habitually pulling my own hair out is absolutely delightful) and until "Harry Potter and the Pretty Sorcerer's Balls" have always stuck to original works.
"HP and the PSB" is kind of a practice piece for me, an exercise in character development without having to worry about the rest of it. My main problem with my writing has always been keeping the characters in character without sacrificing my story line. With what I've done in 'Pretty Sorcerer's Balls' I'm forced to keep Harry 'flaming' while keeping the remaining characters as they are. The story begins pretty much as the book, with little add-ins here and there. For the sake of readability, I have omitted quotation marks distinguishing J.K.Rowling's work from my own. As the story progresses, more and more of the authentic story will change - simply because it will have to. I will continue to pull text from the book wherever applicable - in part because I'm attempting to cultivate laze as an art form - but also to force myself to keep the other characters in check.
I write this entirely because I want to, so you are welcome to review if you wish but it is absolutely not necessary to do so. I won't hold back chapters or anything like that! For the first 5 chapters or so you can probably expect a new one each day or two. After that I'm sure to begin procrastinating and as such, a new chapter can be expected perhaps every week.
In case it's unclear, I own some really nice shoes and a sense of entitlement, You-Know-Who, owns everything else.
Chapter Two – The Vanishing Glass
Nearly ten years had passed since the Dursleys had woken up to find their nephew on the front step, but Privet Drive had hardly changed at all. The sun rose on the same tidy front garden and lit up the brass number four on the Dursleys' front door; it crept into their living-room, which was almost exactly the same as it had been on the night when Mr. Dursley had seen that fateful news report about the owls. Only the photographs on the mantel piece showed how much time had passed. Ten years ago, there had been lots of pictures of what looked like a large pink beach ball wearing different-coloured bobble hats – but Dudley Dursley was no longer a baby, and now the photographs showed a large, blond boy riding his first bicycle, on a roundabout at the fair, playing a computer game with his father, being hugged and kissed by his mother. The room held no sign at all that another boy lived in the house too.
Yet Harry Potter was still there, smiling peacefully at the moment, but not for long. His Aunt Petunia (or the Yellow Tuna as Harry thought of her) was awake and it was her shrill voice which made the first noise of the day.
"Up! Get up! Now!"
Harry jumped, shaken out of his reverie with a start. His aunt rapped on the door again.
"Up!" she screeched. Harry heard her walking towards the kitchen and then the sound of the frying pan being put on the cooker. He eased back onto his bed, shutting the contraband magazine in his hands and stuffing it under the mattress. The leather clad man on the cover seated astride a menacing yet beautifully crafted motorcycle reminded him of the dream he had been having earlier in the morning. It had been a good one, and in fact it had inspired the outfit he planned for the day. There had been a flying motorbike in it. He had a funny feeling he'd had the same dream before. Granted he had many dreams featuring men on motorbikes but the flying bit was something special, inspiring a strange feeling of deja-vu.
His aunt was back outside the door.
"Are you up yet?" she demanded.
"Nearly," said Harry. In truth, he had been up for over an hour already. He treasured the Dursley free moments he was awarded in the mornings and made an effort to awaken as early as possible so as to fully utilise each and every minute. He would take this time to enjoy his leisure activities in peace, away from the blubbery smirks from Dudley or Uncle Vernon's disgusted sneers.
"Well, get a move on, I want you to look after the breakfast. And don't you dare put anything less than 100% effort towards it, I want everything perfect on Dudley's birthday."
Harry grinned behind the door with visions of the upcoming breakfast fare dancing in his mind but uttered the obligatory groan of dissatisfaction.
"What did you say?" his aunt snapped through the door.
"Nothing, nothing…" Harry answered forcing back his grin. He knew that in order to maintain his free reign in the kitchen, he must ensure that the Dursleys felt that he viewed these duties as a punishment and not a privilege.
Dudley's birthday – Harry had been planning this menu for weeks. He eased off of his bed slowly so as not to bump his head accidentally on the low ceiling and started looking one last time for his recipe for crème anglaise. He found it under his bed and, after pulling a spider off the corner of the recipe card, glanced over the directions one last time. Harry was used to spiders, because the cupboard under the stairs was full of them, and that was where he slept.
When he had reviewed the birthday menu (and added the last touches to his motorcycle inspired outfit) he went down the hall into the kitchen. The table and the festive setting Harry had laid out the previous night was almost completely hidden beneath all Dudley's birthday presents. It looked as though Dudley had got the new computer he wanted, not to mention the second television and the racing bike. Exactly why Dudley wanted a racing bike was a mystery to Harry as Dudley was very fat and hated exercise – unless of course it involved punching somebody. Dudley's favourite punch-bag was Harry, but he couldn't often catch him. Harry didn't look it, but he was very fast.
Perhaps it had something to do with living in a dark cupboard but Harry had always been small and skinny for his age, which was just fine with him. All he had to wear were old clothes of Dudley's and Dudley was about four times bigger than he was. Luckily for him his smallness and Dudley's largeness gave him plenty of extra fabric to work with when altering and tailoring the hand me downs. Had Harry been the size of a normal healthy boy his age, he didn't think he'd have half as much success with the alterations. Harry had a thin face, knobbly knees, black hair and bright green eyes. He wore round glasses held together with a lot of Sellotape because of all the times Dudley had punched him on the nose. He had taken to affixing a small daisy to the bridge and stems of the glasses to detract from the Sellotape but was forced to remove them when Uncle Vernon snapped that it was making him cross eyed. Aside from his small size, the thing Harry liked most about his appearance was a very thin scar on his forehead which was shaped like a bolt of lightning. He had had it as long as he could remember and the first question he could ever remember asking the Yellow Tuna was how he had got it.
"In the car crash when your parents died," she had said. After Harry's inquiry whether he had a Mom and a Dad or maybe he had two Dad's instead, the first rule for a quiet life at the Dursleys was established: Don't ask questions.
Uncle Vernon entered the kitchen as Harry was rolling the crepes.
"Wash that pansy crap out of your hair!" he barked, by way of a morning greeting.
About once a week, Uncle Vernon looked over the top of his newspaper and shouted that Harry needed a haircut. With force and choice combined, Harry must have had more haircuts than the rest of the boys in his class put together, but it made no difference, either his hair was entirely unruly or gelled into place. Neither condition pleased his uncle.
Harry was poaching the eggs for Eggs Benedict by the time Dudley arrived in the kitchen with his mother. Dudley looked a lot like Uncle Vernon. He had a large, pink face, not much neck, small, watery blue eyes and thick, blond hair that lay smoothly on his thick, fat head. The Yellow Tuna often said that Dudley looked like a baby angel – Harry often said that Dudley looked like a fat Miss Piggy.
Harry put the dishes of crepes, glazed berries, crème anglaise, Eggs Benedict, hollandaise sauce, shaved ham (in honour of Miss Piggy's big day), and triangular toasts on the table, which was difficult as there wasn't much room. Dudley, meanwhile, was counting his presents. His face fell.
"Thirty-six," he said, looking up at his mother and father. "That's two less than last year."
"Darling, you haven't counted Auntie Marge's present, see, it's here under this big one from Mummy and Daddy."
"All right, thirty-seven then," said Dudley, going red in the face.
"And you haven't counted the birthday spankings you're sure to get from that Polkiss friend of yours, that's a gift in itself wouldn't you say?" Harry could sense a huge Dudley tantrum coming on and much preferred a shout fest from Uncle Vernon than see all his breakfast efforts destroyed with an overturned table from Dudley.
The Yellow Tuna stepped in before Uncle Vernon's red face could erupt. "There will be no birthday spankings from anyone! We'll buy you another two presents while we're out today. How's that, popkin? Two more presents. Is that all right?" Evidently the fear of Dudley receiving birthday spankings outweighed both Harry's impudence and the price of the additional gifts.
Dudley thought for a moment. It looked like hard work. Finally he said slowly, "So I'll have thirty … thirty …"
"Thirty-nine, sweetums," said The Yellow Tuna.
"Oh." Dudley sat down heavily and grabbed the nearest parcel. "All right then."
Uncle Vernon's red face subsided.
At that moment the telephone rang and the Yellow Tuna went to answer it while Harry and Uncle Vernon watched Dudley unwrap the racing bike, a cine-camera, a remote control aeroplane, sixteen new computer games and a video recorder. He was ripping the paper off an, in Harry's opinion, very unfashionable gold wristwatch when the Yellow Tuna came back from the telephone looking both angry and worried.
"Bad news, Vernon," she said. "Mrs Figg's broken her leg. She can't take him." She jerked her head in Harry's direction.
Dudley's mouth fell open in horror but Harry's heart gave a leap. Every year on Dudley's birthday his parents took him and a friend out for the day, to adventure parks, hamburger bars or the cinema. Every year Harry was left behind with Mrs Figg, a sweet, if slightly mad, old lady who lived two streets away. While Harry loved the time he spent there, playing with her many cats, dressing up in her trunk of old clothes, or baking in her kitchen, he longed to visit what he thought of as the outside world, anywhere out of the 4 block radius to which he was normally confined.
"Now what?" said the Yellow Tuna, looking furiously at Harry as though he'd planned this. Harry felt sorry that Mrs Figg had broken her leg, but it was still all he could do to keep from squealing with delight at the prospect of going into the city.
"We could phone Marge," Uncle Vernon suggested.
"Don't be silly, Vernon, she hates the boy."
The Dursleys often spoke about Harry like this, as though he wasn't there – or rather, as though he was something very nasty that couldn't understand them, like a slug.
"What about what's-her-name, your friend – Yvonne?"
"On holiday in Majorca, " snapped the Yellow Tuna.
"You could drop me off somewhere and pick me up on your way back," Harry put in hopefully (he'd be able to wander about the city on his own, going in and out of whatever shops and boutiques he pleased).
The Yellow Tuna looked as though she'd just swallowed a lemon.
"And find you up to your mischief and bringing even more shame to this family?" she snarled.
"I can stay out of mischief," said Harry, though the Dursleys and he had varying ideas about what mischief was. They weren't listening.
"I suppose we could take him to the zoo," said the Yellow Tuna slowly, "… and leave him in the car …"
"That car's new, he's not sitting in it alone …"
Dudley began to cry loudly. In fact, he wasn't really crying, it had been years since he'd really cried, but he knew that if he displayed such girlish behaviour, especially after Harry's spanking comment earlier, his mother would worry that he was becoming that way and give him whatever he wanted to make it stop.
"Dinky Duddydums, don't cry, Mummy won't let him spoil your special day!" she cried, flinging her arms around him.
"I … don't … want … him … t-t-to come!" Dudley yelled between huge pretend sobs. "He always sp-spoils everything!" He shot Harry a nasty grin through the gap in his mothers arms. Harry rolled his eyes and let out an indignant humph. Without him, Dudley would still be a present shy of his last years total, and this is how he showed his thanks!
Just then, the doorbell rang – "Oh, Good Lord, they're here!" said the Yellow Tuna frantically – and a moment later, Dudley's best friend, Piers Polkiss, walked in with his mother. Piers was a scrawny boy with a face like a rat. He was usually the one who held people's arms behind their backs while Dudley hit them. Dudley stopped pretending to cry at once.
Half an hour later, Harry, who was positively giddy at his luck was awaiting Uncle Vernon's verdict regarding the seating arrangements in the back seat. Still smarting with the birthday spanking comment, Uncle Vernon was unsure whether he trusted the newly labelled 'Polkiss pansy' who's hair was entirely too long for his taste, sitting next to his boy. He settled on Piers in the middle – where he could keep an eye on him, flanked by Dudley and Harry. Before they'd left, he took Harry aside.
"I'm warning you," he said, putting his large purple face right up close to Harry's. "I'm warning you now, boy – any funny business, anything at all – and you'll be in that cupboard from now until Christmas."
"Oh hush," Harry lightly batted a hand at him, "I'm not going to have a hair out of place," he opened his eyes wide and pushed out his bottom lip to illustrate that it was completely ridiculous to worry.
But Uncle Vernon didn't believe him. No one ever did.
The problem was, strange things often happened around Harry and as he was strange enough already it was no good telling the Dursleys that he didn't make them happen.
Once, the Yellow Tuna, tired of Harry coming back from the barber's looking as though he hadn't been at all or had visited the salon instead, had taken Uncle Vernon's beard trimmer and set to giving him a military styled crew cut to make him a proper boy. Dudley had laughed himself silly at Harry, who spent a sleepless night imagining school the next day, where he was already laughed at for playing jump rope with the girls and his selection of home economics in lieu of shop class. Next morning, however, he had got up to find his hair exactly as it had been before the Yellow Tuna had sheared it off. He had been given a week in the cupboard for this, even though he had tried to explain that he couldn't explain how it had grown back so quickly.
Another time, the Yellow Tuna had been trying to force him into a revolting old jumper of Dudley's (brown with orange bobbles – Harry's absolute worst colour!). The harder she tried to pull the enormous garment over his head the smaller it became and the more elongated the orange bobbles grew, until finally it was a snug fitting brown jumper with a sleek orange belt. The colours were still all wrong for his complexion but the jumper itself was nonetheless very stylish. The Yellow Tuna had decided she must have confused it with one of her own old sweaters and, to his great relief, Harry wasn't punished nor was the stylish jumper confiscated.
On the other hand, he'd got into terrible trouble for being found on the roof of the school kitchens with an armful of unfamiliar pants. Dudley's gang had been calling him names and chasing him as usual when, as much to Harry's chagrin as anyone else's, there he was sitting on the chimney holding 5 pairs of pants. Dudley and his band of hoodlums were left bare-bottomed and furious. The Dursleys received a very angry letter from Harry's headmistress telling them Harry had been leading boys astray with inappropriate games and in addition, had been climbing school buildings.
But today, nothing was going to go wrong. It was even worth being with Dudley and Piers to be spending the day in the city.
While he drove, Uncle Vernon complained to the Yellow Tuna. He liked to complain about things: people at work, Harry, the council, Harry, the bank, and Harry were just a few of his favourite subjects. This morning, it was motorbikes.
" … roaring along like maniacs, the young hoodlums," he said as a motorbike overtook them.
"I had a wonderful dream about a motorbike," said Harry, remembering again suddenly.
"I don't want to hear another one of your motorbike men stories!" Uncle Vernon broke in having heard the words 'engine' and 'leather' together in one sentence too many.
"It wasn't like that," Harry giggled, "the motorbike was flying."
Uncle Vernon nearly crashed into the car in front. He turned right around in his seat and yelled at Harry, his face like a gigantic beetroot with a moustache, "MOTORBIKES DON'T FLY!"
Dudley and Piers sniggered.
"Well shoo, aren't you a bright one?" Harry cooed sarcastically pursing his lips, knowing there was only so much Uncle Vernon could do or shout while driving and in front of a guest. "Of course they don't fly, it was a dream."
But he wished he hadn't said anything. If there was one thing the Dursleys hated even more than his being that way, it was talking about anything acting in a way it shouldn't, no matter if it was in a dream or even in a cartoon – they seemed to think he might get dangerous ideas and lead poor Dinkydums even further astray.
It was a sunny Saturday and the zoo was crowded with families. The Dursleys bought Dudley and Piers large chocolate ice-creams at the entrance and then, because the smiling lady in the van had asked the wide eyed Harry what he wanted before they could hurry him away, they bought him a lemon ice slushy, one of the cheapest items on the menu, second only to the frozen fruit Popsicle's on a stick which the Dursleys wouldn't have allowed Harry to indulge in even had they been free.
Harry had the best morning he'd had in a long time. He was careful to walk a little way apart from the Dursleys so that he wouldn't become the object of amusement for Dudley and Piers, who were starting to get bored with the animals by lunch-time, and now entertained themselves by shoving each other toward animal cages. He enjoyed the looks Uncle Vernon kept shooting towards Piers Polkiss, ensuring that the rough-housing was just boys being boys and nothing unnatural.
They ate in the zoo restaurant. Dudley began to wolf down his gargantuan lunch and sniggered at the small size of Harry's junior knickerbocker.
"But I thought you said you liked that I was so petite? I have to watch my figure." Uncle Vernon bought him an extra large Knickerbocker Glory, then followed it with a mountainous chocolate shake.
Harry felt, afterwards, that he should have known it was all too good to last.
After lunch they went to the reptile house. It was cool and dark in here, with lit windows all along the walls. Behind the glass, all sorts of lizards and snakes were crawling and slithering over bits of wood and stone. Dudley and Piers wanted to see huge, poisonous cobras and thick, man-crushing pythons. Dudley quickly found the largest snake in the place. It could have wrapped its body twice around Uncle Vernon's car and crushed it into a dustbin – but at the moment it didn't look in the mood. In fact, it was fast asleep.
Dudley stood with his nose pressed against the glass, staring at the glistening brown coils.
"Make it move," he whined at his father. Uncle Vernon tapped on the glass, but the snake didn't budge.
"Do it again," Dudley ordered. Uncle Vernon rapped the glass smartly with his knuckles, but the snake just snoozed on.
"This is boring," Dudley moaned. He shuffled away.
Harry moved in front of the tank and looked intently at the snake. He wouldn't have been surprised if it had died of boredom itself – no company except stupid, and rather ugly people with no fashion sense what-so-ever, drumming their sure to be grimy fingers on the glass trying to disturb it all day long. It was worse than having a cupboard as a bedroom, at least he had his magazines to read and the run of the kitchen.
The snake suddenly opened its beady eyes. Slowly, very slowly, it raised its head until its eyes were on a level with Harry's.
Harry stared, at least somebody appreciated his leather look vest and bandanna belt. He looked back at the snake and winked too.
The snake jerked its head towards Uncle Vernon and Dudley, then raised its eyes to the ceiling. It gave Harry a look that said quite plainly: I get that all the time.
"I know," Harry cooed through the glass, though he wasn't sure the snake could hear him. "It must be awful, just awful!"
The snake nodded vigorously.
"Now, what's a pretty thing like you doing in a place like this?" said Harry, pouting coyly.
The snake seemed to grin and bent its body into a shrug, "It's as good a place as any I've been to." The snake jabbed its tail at the sign and Harry read: Boa Constrictor, bred in captivity. Harry nodded in understanding. "It's nice to have somebody to talk to, most people are afraid of me."
"Oh I'm not afraid, I like you."
"You do?" the boa asked, flattered.
"Oh yes. You're very … bendy," Harry grinned slyly.
The boa gave a little shake and wrapped its entire length into a multi-coiled spiral. "Are you flirting with me?" it asked flicking its tail towards Harry.
As Harry put his hand on his hip and opened his mouth to reply, a deafening shout behind him made both of them jump. "DUDLEY! MR DURSLEY! COME AND LOOK AT THIS SNAKE! YOU WON'T BELIEVE WHAT IT'S DOING!"
Dudley came waddling towards them as fast as he could.
"Out of the way, you," he said, punching Harry in the ribs. Caught by surprise, Harry fell hard on the concrete floor. What came next happened so fast no one saw how it happened – one second, Piers and Dudley were leaning right up close to the glass, the next, they had leapt back with howls of horror.
Harry sat up and gasped; the glass front of the boa constrictor's tank had vanished. The gorgeous snake snapped its head toward Dudley and uncoiling itself rapidly, slithered out of its tank and coiled itself once around Dudley's legs. It gave a menacing squeeze before making its way toward Harry.
"That'll teach him to mess with a cutie like you," it hissed.
"Run! Run!" Harry urged. The boa make its way, through the crowd of screaming people, toward the exit.
The keeper of the reptile house was in shock.
"But the glass," he kept saying, "where did the glass go?"
The zoo director himself made the Yellow Tuna a cup of strong sweet tea while he apologised over and over again. Piers and Dudley could only gibber. As far as Harry had seen, the snake hadn't done anything really dangerous but by the time they were all back in Uncle Vernon's car, Dudley was telling them how the snake had squeezed him so hard that he had seen the white lights of death. But worst of all, for Harry at least, was Piers calming down enough to say "Harry was talking to it, weren't you, Harry?"
Uncle Vernon waited until Piers was safely out of the house before starting on Harry. He was so angry he could hardly speak. He managed to say, "Go – cupboard – stay – no meals," (seemingly forgetting Dudley's preference for the petite) before he collapsed into a chair and the Yellow Tuna had to run and get him a large brandy.
Harry lay in his dark cupboard much later, wishing he had a watch. He didn't know what time it was but knew it was well after dinner. The Yellow Tuna had banged on the cupboard door to snap at his laziness. Claiming that he had pulled that stunt at the zoo to avoid having to make Dudley's birthday dinner. Harry groaned in earnest this time, at the thought of his lovely dinner menu being brutalised by the Yellow Tuna's inept culinary skill.