Summary: What if the Dursleys were smarter? Smart enough to turn Harry against magic- against himself. How long would it take anyone to realize how much damage was done, and once it was discovered how could they ever hope to fix it? A disturbing look at a Harry who has been taught from infancy to hate and fear everything he is.
Warnings: Quite disturbing. Various kinds of abuse. Harry with something of a house elf mentality. If you don't want to read it, don't.
Author's Notes: Feedback is welcome, constructive criticism particularly so. If it's spelling/grammar/etc e-mail is better than actual comments, but whatever.
Review Response: I've started a livejournal to contain responses to reviews I receive on my stories, as well as update notices, and maybe other story stuff if I get around to it. The address is refusing to show up on here, but it is under homepage on my front page, or you can go to livejournal and it is username dreamfallff If I can figure out a way to make fanfiction just show the webpage I'll add it in later.
"What are you?"
"I am a freak," the boy's quiet voice held no emotion as he stated the words. He kept any pain he felt locked up tight where it couldn't be used against him. He knew his catechism and by now couldn't even remember a time when he had fought it.
"Who was your father?"
"James Potter. Bully. Alcoholic. Wizard. Freak."
"What did he think of you?"
"I was a disappointment and an inconvenience."
"Who was your mother?"
"Lilly Potter. Spoiled brat. Whore. Witch. Freak."
"What did she think of you?"
"I was a disappointment and an inconvenience."
"How did they die?"
"In a car accident. They were drunk and at fault. An innocent was killed."
"How did you get your scar?"
"My father was drunk and angry. He hit me with a whiskey bottle and it broke and cut my forehead. They didn't have a doctor see to it, so it scarred."
"Why are you here?"
"When my parents died you kindly took me in."
"How do we treat you?"
"Far better than I deserve. You give me clothing, shelter, food, and discipline." He felt his stomach gurgle at the thought of food and prayed it would keep its unwelcome comments silent. He could wait.
"Do we give you too much discipline?"
"No. I am bad and you are trying to make me better. You only punish me when I'm bad, but I'm bad a lot. But it's my own fault and I am grateful that you care enough to try. It is a further sign of how bad I am that I do not change."
"Do we love you?"
"You love me even though I'm bad. Even though nobody else could. Even though my parents didn't. Even though I don't deserve it. You only punish me because you want to help me. Because you love me."
There. Done. The catechism he'd given every day since he was old enough to say the words. Before that they'd said it to him. With it complete, he prayed they would let him eat a bit, though he knew it was bad to even want to, since he didn't deserve it. His eyes widened slightly as his stomach growled loudly.
The faces before him stiffened and he stilled a cringe before he consciously realized it was trying to escape.
"Are you hungry, Harry?"
"Yes, Uncle Vernon," he whispered, ashamed of himself.
"What have we said of hunger?" his aunt chimed in, glaring down at him.
"When you are bad, you don't deserve to eat. To get hungry anyway is defiance."
"Are you good, Harry?" she asked him, voice steely.
"No, Aunt Petunia."
"Then I must assume that you are defiant?" his uncle asked sadly.
"Yes, sir," he admitted, shivering slightly, trying to ignore the ache in his belly that was beginning to merge on nausea, hoping that his uncle would just beat him and not lock him up instead. The thought of the dark loneliness of the cupboard where an hour became a year and a day a lifetime... His stomach rumbled again, more loudly, and a shiver ran through his slight frame, the only sign of fear he was permitted. The only sign they couldn't see. His eyes moved frantically to his uncle's face. "I'm sorry, Uncle Vernon," he whispered.
"But still defiant. I had thought you were improving, Harry," he said sadly, shaking his head.
"I'm trying, Uncle Vernon. I fought it for six days this time."
"You fought it," the man repeated softly. "Meaning you've been hungry the whole time?"
Reluctantly he admitted, "Yes, sir. But I've tried not to be."
His uncle sighed. "Sometimes I despair of you, Harry. Eat something and go to your cupboard. It will be special discipline tonight, I'm afraid."
"I- I needn't eat, Uncle Vernon," he suggested, refusing to think about the promised special punishment. It was only for when he was especially bad.
"Eat, boy. When it reaches this point you would do something even worse if you don't eat."
"Yes, Uncle Vernon," he whispered, and went dejectedly to the kitchen. Opening the icebox he glanced through the contents before his eyes landed on a loaf of bread. He took out the first two slices from it and put the rest of the package carefully away. He didn't even glance at the other foods. He was allowed to eat it, of course, but he was bad and it showed. Eating it made him really sick. It tasted amazing, but he couldn't keep it down. Nothing but bread and sometimes lettuce or other vegetables.
He ate his bread quietly, cleaned up the couple crumbs he had spilled, and returned to the living room. Taking a deep breath, he opened the door of his cupboard, entered, and closed it behind him. In the safety of the dark, he flinched as he heard the bolt pulled.
And then nothing. No light. No sound. And he was alone and time seemed to stop passing altogether. It seemed an eternity before his uncle came. The light from the living room was dim as the man looked down at the boy in the cupboard. "You know what to do, Harry."
"Yes, Uncle Vernon," he acknowledged, as the door closed, leaving the two of them sealed in the dark. He stripped off his clothes and waited.
"If I didn't want to help you I wouldn't be able to bring myself to touch you." The words were the same every time he received special discipline. Spoken in that sad tone of voice that made him wish he were dead rather than being a burden on his family.
"I know, Uncle Vernon. I apologize for forcing this upon you again," he whispered, lying down, face down on his nest of blankets and rags. He spread his thighs as he heard his uncle spit several times. Then was the familiar pressure followed up by ripping pain that increased as his uncle grunted and began thrusting. Harry clenched his eyes and teeth and waited for his punishment to end. Which it did with a surge of fluid entering him, a few last thrusts, and his uncle standing up.
"I'm sorry you had to touch me, Uncle Vernon. I will try to be better in the future."
"See that you do."
Then he was gone and Harry pulled on some clothes by feel, curled up in his nest, and shuddered. He knew he should be grateful for the special discipline. Knew how much his uncle hated touching him, and that the man was degraded by the contact. Even when he beat him, he hit him in the chest or back, where he would not have to touch skin to skin. Or used a belt or stick. Or both. Harry knew his uncle did this only because he loved him and wanted to help him try to be good. But he hated it, even though he knew it was ungrateful, defiant. Eventually, he fell asleep.
When he woke, he found the cupboard unlocked and stumbled out to find that it was still early. Without hesitation, he moved to the kitchen and began cooking breakfast for the family. French toast and bacon. He loved the smell of bacon. He'd taken a strip for himself once, a long time ago, and knew it tasted as good as it smelled. Then it made him violently ill. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia had been so disappointed in him. He'd never repeated the experiment.
Breakfast passed quietly enough, and Harry started cleaning up while the others settled into the living room to watch Saturday morning TV. When he was done with the dishes he went upstairs, made their beds, and cleaned their rooms up there, gathering laundry to take back down with him. Dudley, emerging from the kitchen with a snack as he was going by, reached out negligently with one arm and shoved him to the wall. The adults turned to glare at the smaller boy.
"Harry, don't anger Dudley," his aunt said tiredly. "Sometimes I'm close to losing all hope in you."
Green eyes fell, and Harry swallowed. "I'm sorry, Aunt Petunia."
"Am I really the one who needs an apology?"
The thin boy nodded, and turned to his obese cousin. "I'm sorry, Dudley."
"you said that last time," his cousin pointed out.
"I know," he admitted. "I'm just not sure what I did or how to stop."
"You should know, shouldn't he, Mummy?" he demanded of his mother. "It's bad not to know."
"That's right, Duddykins," Petunia approved.
Dudley nodded, set his snack down on the coffee table, knocked the laundry out of Harry's arms, and punched him four times in the stomach as hard as he could, leaving Harry huddled on the floor, fighting to keep from throwing up. "Figure it out," he ordered.
"I'll try. Thank you, Dudley," he whispered.
The larger boy kicked him hard in the ribs, adding, "And you shouldn't drop our clothes."
"I'm sorry," he whispered, gathering up the dirty laundry, stumbling to his feet, and continuing through the kitchen to the stairs and down to the laundry room. He put in a load of laundry, and glanced around. The light was a bit dim since there was a thick layer of grime on the small high windows. He stared at it for a long moment, hating it, wanting desperately to clean it, but it was no good. He couldn't go outside and he couldn't clean the outside of the windows from in here. And this side was sparkling clean, as was everything else down here. Finding nothing to do, he returned upstairs, searching for some unfinished task. After a few quick moves in the kitchen, everything was spotless.
"Dudley," Uncle Vernon was saying as he moved back into the living room, "go mow the lawn."
"Why can't Harry do it?" his cousin demanded, and Harry froze, half hoping and half fearing that his uncle would finally give in.
"Because Harry isn't allowed out of the house. Someone could see him."
Reluctantly, Dudley hefted his weight up and dragged himself outside. Vernon turned to glare at Harry. "Nothing to do?"
"No, sir. Not until it's time to move the laundry."
"Well, then? Into your cupboard with you."
The boy shivered, but entered obediently, pulling the door shut behind him. He'd never been out of the house, that he could remember. His aunt homeschooled him, though he wasn't sure all his lessons were the same that other children had. There was nobody to ask, after all. He never spoke to anyone but the family. If anyone else was coming, he was locked in his cupboard. Once, when Uncle Vernon's sister came to visit, he'd been locked in for four days with nothing but a gallon of water and a bucket for filth. He'd begun to wonder if they'd ever let him out. It was a long time before the smell left, for all that he had, of course, used the bucket. The bucket was always there, whether guests were expected or not, just in case he got locked in and wasn't able to hold it long enough, for any reason. Using it was, nonetheless, frowned upon. If he did, even if it was due to being locked in for four days, the bucket was left in his cupboard for a week before he was allowed to clean it out, as punishment.
The door opened and he squinted up at Uncle Vernon. "Come out, Harry."
Quickly obedient, he rolled to his feet and stepped out, into the living room, suppressing a wince as the new bruises on his stomach and sides complained. His uncle was holding an envelope which he handed to Harry. Who stared at him in shock. "Uncle Vernon?"
Frightened by the unusual situation, he obeyed. It was addressed
Mr. H Potter
The Cupboard under the Stairs
4 Privet Drive
Fingers trembling, he opened the envelope, slipped out the thick sheet of paper within, and opened it. It was handwritten in green lettering and said,
HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY
Headmaster: ALBUS DUMBLEDORE
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock,
Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. Of Wizards)
Dear Mr. Potter, Although it is not our general policy to
contact young witches and wizards prior to their eleventh year, you are
something of an exception. We have felt the wards protecting you and
your family tested several times, of late, and fear that you may be in
danger. We have therefore decided to, at least temporarily, take you
into custody early, although it is a year and some few months early.
For the time being you will stay at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and
Wizardry while we consider a more permanent solution. Please be advised
that one of our faculty will be by Tuesday evening to collect you.
Please be packed and ready to go at 6:15 pm. I apologize for the short
notice and look forward to renewing our acquaintance. Yours sincerely,
Dear Mr. Potter,
Although it is not our general policy to contact young witches and wizards prior to their eleventh year, you are something of an exception. We have felt the wards protecting you and your family tested several times, of late, and fear that you may be in danger. We have therefore decided to, at least temporarily, take you into custody early, although it is a year and some few months early. For the time being you will stay at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry while we consider a more permanent solution. Please be advised that one of our faculty will be by Tuesday evening to collect you. Please be packed and ready to go at 6:15 pm. I apologize for the short notice and look forward to renewing our acquaintance.
Harry felt the blood drain from his face and he collapsed to his knees as his legs lost their ability to support him. "No," he whispered.
"I'm sorry, Harry. We knew something like this would happen soemtime and have tried to prepare you. You know we can't protect you from it."
"I know, Uncle Vernon."
"So. What do you do?" demanded his aunt.
"They will try to seduce me to magic and I must resist."
"Because magic is an unnatural, evil force used to twist and spoil all that is real and good."
"Good. Go on."
"I must try not to anger them because they are powerful. So I can't just refuse. Instead I must pretend to be very stupid and clumsy."
"Yes, what else? What will they do?"
"They will tell me lies about my parents and say they were good and noble. Say that magic is itself natural and can be used for good. They will give me magical things and try to buy my loyalty. Try to make me eat foods that I do not deserve and that will make me sick. They will try to make me hate you and will try to trick me into thinking that you have mistreated me."
Uncle Vernon smiled fondly down at him and nodded. "That's right, Harry. So you must be very cautious around them. Try not to defy them outright, but refuse to learn from them. If they cannot use you, eventually they will send you back."
"And if I see an opportunity to escape, I must take it and run. I must take care of myself until I am certain they have stopped following me, then I may come home."
"Very good, Harry," the voice was a caress and Harry's back straightened a little where he sat, still kneeling on the floor. It was how he sat for his lessons, and this was almost like a lesson. Besides, they didn't tell him to get up. "They will treat you as though there were nothing wrong with you, Harry. As though you were not bad. You know better, and so do they, but they will pet you and compliment you until you believe it."
"I will never believe that, Uncle Vernon," he said quickly.
"Now, now. Perhaps one day. Resisting their seduction will put you well on your path, Harry. It will purge much of the evil from you."
"Truly, Uncle Vernon?" he asked, brightening.
"Yes, my boy. There is hope for you yet, but only if you can resist the lure to become one of them."
"I shall resist it, sir."
"As you resist hunger?" he asked, shaking his head sadly. "I am worried for you, Harry."
The boy flushed, ashamed, and his uncle softened. "You will try. Do your best, Harry. It is rarely enough, but perhaps this time it will be. I am worried for you. Without us to try to help you, I feel your evil will destroy the rest of you. But you must fight it. Give them nothing, Harry."
"I will Uncle Vernon. I promise."
"Good boy. As I say, there is hope yet. You must tell them nothing about your life here. Anything you say they will try to twist into new meanings. And you must not speak of your parents. They will only tell you lies about them. And don't forget your catechism, Harry. But let nobody hear it. It, too, would become merely a weapon. You must not let that happen."
"No, Uncle Vernon. It is my link to truth. The facts upon which everything I know is based. I won't let them undermine it and I'll never forget!"
"Good. Very good. Have a slice of bread, Harry. And see to the laundry."
"I- I'm not hungry, Uncle Vernon," he whispered, believing it to be true. The gnawing of his stomach was as negligible as ever he could remember it being.
"Good lad," Aunt Petunia's voice caressed him this time. "Go see to the laundry then."
"Yes, ma'am. Thank you, Aunt Petunia. Thank you, Uncle Vernon," he acknowledged, warmed by their approval. He went downstairs to transfer the laundry to the drier and put the next load in the wash. He wished something had already been through the drier to give him another few more minutes work before returning to his cupboard. He loved all of his chores, just as he loved the lessons his aunt and uncle gave him, mostly on the evils of magic. Because when he was working or learning he was not in the cupboard. Reluctantly, when he could find nothing else to do, he went back upstairs and vanished back under the stairs, closing the door behind him.