Disclaimer: All characters are the property of JKR. No copyright infringement is intended. This is my tribute to Harry et al, with thanks.

Author's note: This is a response to the Severitus Challenge. (It was my first ever fanfic.) It starts light and gets progressively darker. So, anyway, the story begins in the summer holidays after Harry's fifth year…

It began as a single story and then developed into a series of sequels, Lost Perspectives 2 - 7. Each of these is written as a story in its own right (though with references back) with slightly varying styles, lead characters, themes and points of view. The unifying thread running through them all is Snape.

(Ch 1 reloaded 14.9.05 with a few edits).


By Bellegeste


The 'Britain In Bloom' Competition had been a godsend. Harry couldn't really believe that he was saying that to himself, but it was true. Ever since Little Whinging had been short-listed for the Best Kept Residential Suburb, Harry's life had changed noticeably for the better. Summer with the Dursleys had become almost bearable.

Harry knelt up and sat back on his haunches. He felt hot and sweaty and his neck was stiff. He flexed his aching shoulders, wiped a dusty forearm over his brow and uttered a sigh of satisfaction as he surveyed the view. Immaculate. Definitely a contender for the Golden Garden Award. The lawn's neat, green rectangle was mown to pin-striped perfection, not a single errant blade of grass marred the straightness of its scissored edges. The gravel paths met and crossed at sharply geometric angles, the Welsh Slate shards glinting with a purpley grey oiled sheen, still damp from the Weedsfoe spray he had applied earlier that morning. Symmetrical triangular borders, bold in red, white and blue, gave a crisp salute to precision planting. There was not a speck of soil visible beneath the uniform brown base of graded bark chips.

"No place for slackers, boy!" Uncle Vernon had glanced up from his magazine and noticed Harry stretching. "Get to it."

"I'm just filling the watering-can," Harry replied levelly. He began to uncoil the hose from the wall-mounted verdigris pipe bracket and clipped the nozzle to the matching yellow fitting on the outside tap. Checking that Uncle Vernon was once more engrossed in the pages of Competitive Chrysanthemum, Harry turned the hose onto himself, letting the blissfully cold water soak his hair and trickle down his chest and back; he took a long cool swig. His wet, dark fringe flopped into his eyes and he flicked the hair back with his hand, leaving a muddy smudge across his sunburned face.

"Boy!" Uncle Vernon was shouting now. "Get a move on, boy. You've still got to water the hanging-baskets, tubs and the drain-guard planters, brush the moss off the terracotta wall-plaques and scrub the decking, before you've anything like finished, boy."

Perhaps not so much had changed after all. But he was outside, in the sunshine and fresh air instead of being cooped up in his room, or even in that wretched stair-cupboard. Anything was better than that. At least now that he understood why he was obliged to stay at No. 4 Privet Drive during the holidays it was slightly easier to resign himself to it. It didn't make him any less hungry or lonely, it didn't stop him missing Ron and Hermione and the rest of his wizard friends, but it helped now that he knew the truth.

OK, so the gardening detail was tantamount to slave labour, but somehow he didn't really mind any more. The work gave him something to concentrate on; it stopped him brooding about … No. He was not going to let himself think about it. He couldn't. It was too painful. Too raw. He forced the hateful thoughts back down into the pit of his mind and slammed the trapdoor. Concentrate on the job in hand, Harry. Think happy thoughts. And yes, he grinned suddenly, recalling his furious reaction when Aunt Petunia first presented him with a fork and spade and a day by day list of outdoor chores. He'd almost told her to stick her secateurs in her grow-bag! But it hadn't been so bad. After weeks of digging, mulching, raking, spreading compost and fertiliser, hoeing, weeding, mowing, trimming, watering, sweeping and planting, he was feeling surprisingly fit. His muscles ached, sure, but there was a lean, taught strength about his whole body now that he was getting to like. He was still ridiculously thin for his height, but he reckoned that if he could just tough it out this summer, once he got back to Hogwarts in September and had some decent meals again he would bulk up; maybe if he worked out a little he might end up like Oliver Wood - Gryffindor's former Quidditch captain and House hunk. No, being sixteen wasn't going to be so bad.

Sixteen. It was his birthday today. He hadn't allowed himself to think about it yet. He knew better than to expect anything from the Dursleys, certainly not presents; he hadn't even expected them to remember. So he had been surprised when Aunt Petunia had greeted him that morning. Instead of her usual pained grimace, she had actually spoken to him:

"Big day for you, Harry." Her customary nasal whine was accompanied by a supercilious sniff, "For your sort, I mean."

Harry was amazed when she spread a scrape of rhubarb jam across his usual slice of dry bread.

"Sixteen, eh, boy? Happy birthday!" Uncle Vernon had also shown unnatural bonhomie. It made Harry apprehensive. They both looked far too cheerful. Uncle Vernon passed him the toast-rack. Harry was just beginning to feel that this unwonted politeness was even more stressful than their normal barrage of complaints, demands and instructions when a sleek brown owl glided through the open fanlight and alighted on the breakfast table. Harry automatically reached out to take the envelope, but the owl side-stepped and offered his leg to Aunt Petunia. Shrinking visibly, she took the letter and placed it unopened on her side-plate.

"More tea, Vernon?" she feigned unconcern, though the shrillness of her voice had increased by several tones.

"Just read the bloody thing, you silly woman," he answered gruffly.

'He stays until September.' Only four short words, but their effect on the Dursleys was catastrophic. Aunt Petunia dropped the parchment and recoiled as though she had just found herself sitting next to a goblin. Uncle Vernon, jowls quivering, red-faced and spluttering, heaved himself to his feet and roared through a mouthful of half-chewed streaky bacon:

"Get out of my sight! Get back to work!"

It was only when Harry was safe in the privacy of the potting-shed that he had a chance to think about what had happened. He realised that, for some reason, the Dursleys had been expecting him to leave. To leave, that very day. They couldn't wait to get rid of him.

So, there he was back on his knees amongst the bedding plants, dead-heading Begonias. The Dursleys hated him again, the world had forgotten his birthday, he was tired and hot and hungry - life was back to normal. He smiled to think that a month ago he wouldn't even have been able to tell the difference between an Aster and an Antirrhinum. But the competition rules had been fixed and inflexible: all entries to be ready for judging by 1st August. Under the exacting direction of Aunt Petunia he had fast-tracked in botany, rapidly learning not only to identify but to nurture the trays of identical plugs, seedlings and cuttings that filled the greenhouse.

The ornamental show-piece of the garden was a large rectangular border, divided by obsessively trimmed lines of dwarf box, into the triangular blocks of the Union Jack. Planted in a dramatic (and to Harry's untrained eye, quite hideous) contrasting scheme, wide rows of scarlet Salvia abutted white lines of Alyssum, with closely-spaced Lobelia forming the blue.

The patriotic colour-scheme was echoed relentlessly throughout the rest of the garden, in tubs, window-boxes and planters. Even the water-feature played 'Rule Britannia' and squirted jets in time to the music from the crown of a two foot resin replica of Britannia herself, who ruled the ripples in wobbly majesty from a plastic plinth amongst the marsh irises. Harry often wondered if the Dursleys had ever sung the words, especially the last line.

"Oi, Potrix!" Dudley yelled, using the latest in a very long line of offensive nicknames. "Get us a beer."

Harry sighed and fetched a chilled can from the patio drinks cooler, marginally out of Dudley's reach. He resisted the temptation to shake it and handed it over obediently. Dudley grunted and lay back on the floral cushions of his recliner, sweltering, pink and oiled like a raw sausage on a barbeque. His fat head nodded inanely to an inaudible beat – Harry noticed two spaghetti wires trailing from his ears to his top pocket; at the same time he was staring with rapt attention at his left wrist, where his chunky digital diving chrono had seemingly transformed into a tiny television screen. Dudley was into miniaturisation in a big way. Micro camcorder, wrist-watch TV, mini-disc… Mini-brain, thought Harry dismissively.

Since the end of term Harry and Dudley had maintained an uneasy truce. For the most part they ignored each other, or exchanged insults without resorting to actual violence. Harry's policy had been to keep his head down and endure the 'holiday', wishing away the weeks until he could return to his real life at Hogwarts. He remembered how he had fretted and chaffed this time last year, how he'd felt so angry and excluded. He'd grown up a lot since then.

"BOY! Get that bloody bird off my pergola!"

Uncle Vernon was gesticulating angrily, pointing down the garden to where three strips of trellis, entwined with rampant Morning Glory, spanned the gravel pathway. Harry looked up and was delighted to see Hedwig, her feathers dazzlingly white against the mass of blue trumpets. She had been absent for two days and he had been starting to worry. In her talons she was carrying a thick buff envelope.

End of chapter. Please review andlet me know what you think. Thanks.

Next chapter: THE LETTER. Harry receives disturbing news.