Harry sat there for what felt like months, however, it had only been a few hours since he saw the Grangers off. Hedwig hooted angrily at him from within her cage. She really wants to be let out. He smiled at her in response. "Don't worry, girl. We'll be home before you know it." He then stuck his fingers in her cage to pet her but she snipped at him grumpily. "Ah!-Ouch! Okay, sorry!" She made a sort of huffing noise and decided to take a nap. Harry smirked at her dramatics, and then massaged his back lightly with his not-snipped-at hand. He considered going back into the station to one of those nicer, more comfortable benches he spotted when he walked out, but mentally groaned at the thought of missing his uncle. With his luck, as soon as he leaves, Uncle Vernon would suddenly appear, and scold him for not being prepared.
He looked at the sky above him and saw shapes in the clouds. Nature was really relaxing, with the clouds blissfully floating in the breeze, and the birds flying overhead back to whatever comfortable nest they called home. Even with the foul-smelling scent of petrol, and the bustling noises made by cars passing by. It was funny, you know. He was quite used to being left alone outside and usually found ways to pass the time.
Oh look! There's a snake in the clouds!
He remembered one time, when he was about 8 or 9 years old, Aunt Petunia thought she saw a weed left in her Garden. She had shrieked at him for his laziness and then locked him outside in the yard for hours. Harry got so bored, he played with some of the bugs, drew pictures with some dirt, and even counted how many red flowers were in the flowerbed (There were 43). But the best thing that happened to him that day had to be when he went into the shed and found a hardware manual for the new Grunnings drill that Uncle Vernon must have forgotten to throw out. He learned a lot about how drills worked before it got too dark to read any more. He really did enjoy reading. It was the best way to pass time, if only he had a book to read now…
Oh, right. Duh.
He put his hand to his face in irritation. "Merlin, I'm an idiot." He mumbled. After contemplating his bad decision making skills, he carefully moved Hedwig's cage off of his school trunk so he could open it. Inside, he saw the slightly expanded space and smiled at its clever use of magic. Wizards truly never failed to impress. He pushed his school uniform to the side to find his textbooks. It was tucked into a small nook under a false bottom separating the spaces. He reached in and shimmied out a random book. He lay the book to his side on the bench. He closed the trunk and put Hedwig back gently, being aware that she was in a foul mood today. She glared at him through one open eye. Harry chuckled and looked at his chosen book. Everything was great until he saw the cover. Ugh. Magical Drafts and Potions? He was about to put it back, when Hedwig gave an affronted hoot, not willing to be disturbed again. Sighing, he sat back as comfortably as possible and started to read. Chapter 1: Lab Safety, Proper Equipment and Key Ingredients…
The time seemed to pass faster after that, as Harry became engrossed with the information on the pages. '... while less potent, potion recipes using common non-magical ingredients have proven to be safer and easier to prepare, thus being the perfect choice for a budding young potions scholar... The recipes and techniques enclosed in this text have been carefully modified to suit the level of an average 11 to 12 year old Wizard or Witch…'
Harry squinted at the words incredulously. What? The book recipes were modified to be easier on the students? Why was potions class so incredibly hard, then? Although, the text did say that they used common non-magical ingredients, which, as far as Harry new we're not the ingredients that he remembered while in Snape's class. The recipes used by Snape were all magical plants! What could that mean…?
He donned on realization. That jerk! He must be making these potions harder for the Gryffindors! He scowled into his book. And I bet the Slytherins are using the easier textbook recipes, too. Harry always privately wondered why he put his recipes on the board instead of letting them use the textbook. He only stopped reeling from his anger when his nose bumped into the page, only now realizing how close he was to the book.
Deciding that it was a good time to take a break, he closed the textbook, placing it on the bench beside him. He rubbed his eyes and looked up at the nearest clock face. 4:10, huh? Wow, the time really does pass when you read. Potions being interesting enough to hold his attention, who would have thought?
He tapped on Hedwig's cage to let her know he was going to move her to open the trunk again, but she was still very cranky with having to be locked in there for so long. Every time he moved the cage a little she threatened to snip him again. This was the point where Harry just stopped trying.
After maybe another half hour, a car that looked familiar finally pulled into the car park and sure enough it was Uncle Vernon. The car pulled up in front of him and the driver's window rolled down to reveal the man himself, in all his pudgy glory. The man already looked furious, as if picking up Harry was a waste of his time. "Come on then, boy. Get a move on!" He bellowed. Harry quickly scrambled to get his things into the car. Finally he grabbed Hedwig off of the trunk and placed her carefully in the backseat before joining her. He finally got to relax just a bit. His uncle growled at him. "Are you just going to leave your things all willy-nilly like that, boy?" He pointed out the window to the book still on the bench. Harry was embarrassed at his forgetfulness and hastily ran out the car to go retrieve his book.
Then Uncle Vernon sped out of the car park. the drive back home was quiet but tense. Hedwig, the smart girl that she is picked up on this tension and settled down at least for the ride over.
They arrived at last in Surrey and soon pulled into the driveway of Number Four Privet Drive. Uncle Vernon then turn to look at Harry dead in the eye. "Now you listen here, boy. You're lucky that your Aunt Petunia and I still decided to let you stay here, so as long as you are in my home, you will need to follow a few ground rules."
He cringed at the sudden shift in tone, but nodded anyway. "So," Uncle Vernon continued. "Rule number one- No magic! You will not be bringing that freaky nonsense anywhere near us!" You will leave that hocus-pocus back at that freaky school of yours, and that is final, understand me, boy?" Harry slightly blanched, but ultimately figured that this would happen anyway, so he nodded. He was not, however prepared for the next rule. "Number two, you will not let that ruddy bird out anywhere." It was now Hedwig's turn to react. She squawked in protest, but Harry, thankfully, was quick enough to shush her and calm her down. His uncle was slowly turning an ugly shade of pink "After all. We don't need the neighbors getting… suspicious now, do we?" Harry felt absolutely horrible about this. Hedwig wouldn't be able to stretch her wings for the whole summer? This also meant no contact with his new friends! It hit him like a punch to the gut, but he knew that disagreeing would only make things worse.
Seemingly pleased at his compliance, he sniffed and moved on. "Finally, the last rule. I am going to lock your things in your r-." He paused. "... The cupboard." Harry's breath hitched, but he felt brave enough to ask a single question. "Uncle Vernon, what about my summer homework?" He preemptively winced.
And sure enough, his uncle has reached and even uglier shade of crimson.
"Well," he said through gritted teeth, "I suppose you'll just have to take the grade, then. Get expelled for all I care." His anger subsided. "Yes, that would be nice. Although, it was nice to have you gone for most of the year… 'Suppose we can't win them all, now, can we?" He chuckled at his own cruelty.
Seeing that Harry clearly was not enjoying the words coming out of his mouth as much as he was, he cleared his throat and quickly got back on topic. "In any case, if you follow the rules perfectly without any complaints from anyone, then perhaps... I will allow you one of these forbidden privileges, but you have to earn it. Do you hear me, boy?"
Harry knew from experience that was a deal Uncle Vernon was not going to uphold. So he should not get his hopes up."Yes, Uncle Vernon. I understand." He stated plainly.
He accepted that as an appropriate answer, and then bustled out the car door. Harry, soon followed, grabbing Hedwig and the book. He clutched the book underneath hedwig's cage. his uncle angrily popped open the car boot, grabbing hold of Harry's trunk. Grumbling about it the whole time, as if the thing weren't Charmed to be virtually weightless.
They walked up to the front door of the house, where Uncle Vernon set the trunk down behind him to Fumble with the amalgamation of metal that he calls his key ring. Harry took this opportunity to open the trunk quietly and quickly grabbed things that he needed for hedwig's long summer indoors before the bigger man noticed. He closed the lid in fact away from it, as if he were never even near it. Thankfully, his maneuver worked. His uncle finally open the door turned around and hefted the trunk over his shoulder, muttering how ungrateful Harry is.
They walked into the front room, where they passed the living room. "Pet, I'm home!" Uncle Vernon announced. The dreaded woman came from the kitchen to greet him with the warmest facsimile of a smile her bony face could muster. That was until she spotted the luggage Uncle Vernon was carrying. And with that, the scowl Harry was familiar with returned to her face with a vengeance. She faced Harry and glared at him as if he were some unruly gutter rat that trailed in through the open door.
"You." She sneered. "What are you doing here?" The disdain was clear in her voice.
His uncle had a funny look on his face. "Oh, yes well, you see…" She raised an inquisitive brow at her husband. "Er… Th- Those ruddy freaks didn't... want to keep him! That's what!" He quickly supplied. "Yes, couldn't handle him for the whole year, that selfish lot! Needed a break from the little whelp, is all! Right, boy?" He pulled on Harry's ear for him to play along. Confused, but cautious, he improvised. "Yes, Aunt Petunia, they, erm… said I was an attention-seeking brat? Just like my father, and wanted to get rid of me for summer…?" That sounded plausible, right?
It must have been, since she immediately stopped and muttered something about those "rude freaks". His uncle took this pause to lock his trunk in the cupboard.
His aunt crossed her arms. "Well, can't exactly blame them for wanting to be rid of you, now can I?" She scoffed. "Now, I don't expect you to laze about this summer. You will be up before sunrise and shall be expected to do all the chores you were doing before that... Institution ruined our peaceful, normal lives." She glared at him as if he were a stain on her pretty peach carpet. "You do remember your daily responsibilities, do you not?"
Harry nodded. "Yes, Aunt Petunia."
Uncle Vernon then gave Aunt Petunia a peck on the cheek and made his way into the living room. Aunt Petunia sighed dramatically. "Right, now off to bed. I want you up early tomorrow, no slacking off! I better not hear a hoot out of that mangy bird, either!" Harry, slightly confused by the strange scene looked at the now locked cupboard on instinct, before remembering what happened last summer. Wait, I have a room now!
Focusing on looking as miserable as possible, he trudged up the stairs to his- his! Room. Harry shut the door behind him with his leg.
He didn't know what to feel,really. On one hand, He was very upset over these rules his relatives told him to follow. Poor Hedwig is going to go stir-crazy... He set the cage on Dudley's old desk. He rubbed her snowy white feathers through the bars. "Sorry girl, looks like you'll be here for a while." If Birds could pout... Eventually, she leaned into his touch as if to say it was okay. Harry smiled at her. He truly had the best of friends.
On the other hand... He looked around at his new room. It was totally selfish of him to feel so happy. But he would be lying if he denied the joy he felt at the idea of having his own room and bed to come home to in the summer.
He lay on his bed, but continued to stroke Hedwig. While doing this, he noticed the strange height she was at. He inspected her but didn't know what was off about it, it's as if her cage was taller than he remembered... Harry looked under her cage. Oh, right! The potions book! His Uncle only locked his trunk at the cupboard!
Well, now I don't have any excuse to be bad at Potions next year, huh? He thought to himself.
With the pale light of the setting sun, he reopened the book to where he left off.
'Chapter 2: Setting up Your Station…'
End of Chapter 4
Sorry for the wait, and for such a short chapter.
I've found the direction I want to take this, I think.
I haven't been able to completely climb over this writer's block, but I'm getting there.
Chapter 5 in progress.