Author's Note: The characters, settings and secondary world portrayed in this story are the property of JK Rowling, Raincoast Books/ Schoolastic and Warner Brothers. No profit is being made. This work of fiction portrays an alternate universe to the one portrayed in the beloved Harry Potter Series, therefore creative license may be used in the creation of this story.
Author's Note: The characters, settings and secondary world portrayed in this story are the property of JK Rowling, Raincoast Books/ Schoolastic and Warner Brothers. No profit is being made.
This work of fiction portrays an alternate universe to the one portrayed in the beloved Harry Potter Series, therefore creative license may be used in the creation of this story.
Over the next two days I was constantly busy with meetings, therapy sessions, and work in general. Remus called me late on Thursday with the unfortunate news that he wasn't able to do anything for Harry through Social Services. There just wasn't enough evidence against the Dursleys to launch an investigation. He encouraged me to document anything that I found unusual or suspicious. I took a few moments and jotted down some notes about what I had seen the day before. Remus was still investigating recourse through the Ministry of Magic. He was trying to find out through an old classmate of ours if we could tell Harry anything ourselves, but for now he suggested to keep quiet.
Harry's hearing aids also arrived late Thursday afternoon. I checked over the box, read over the instruction booklets and brought the programming software to the clinic audiologist, arranging an appointment for Harry at the beginning of his next session with me. Even though it may take time to get the hearing aids set up, I knew they would make a difference in the long run.
Harry's arrival at four o'clock was marked with organized chaos. Remus arrived at the last possible minute, so he was a blur of flying papers, books and pens. Mrs. MacIntosh had a sheaf of papers for Harry's file, which I couldn't locate right away due to the work on my desk that I had been doing earlier. The audiologist's receptionist dropped by to escort us to Harry's appointment, and Andrew showed up earlier than expected. It took several minutes to organize everyone. Andrew agreed to wait in my room with Remus and give him a refresher course in Sign Language. Mrs. MacIntosh assured herself that everything was fine and then went on her way. I escorted Harry to the audiology wing of the clinic.
The first thing my colleague, Linda, did was give Harry hearing test so she could set the limits on his hearing aids. She then fussed around on her computer to program the aids, so I turned my attention to the ear molds. I held my breath as I slid them into Harry's ears. They went in smoothly and appeared fine. "How do the molds feel?" I asked, indicating the pieces in his ears.
Good! I can barely tell they're in my ears! replied Harry. They don't push on my ear like my other ones.
I smiled and turned to my attention back to Linda. "These are nice!" she exclaimed. "Lots of features, space for different programs, lots of power and digital tuning for thirty two frequencies. I've pushed the high ones to the max, but don't know how much he'll get from them. Probably only a bite of the speech banana."
I smiled at the joke. If you plot the frequency and average decibel level of all the sounds in English on an audiogram, the shape they take resembles a banana.
"Anything we can give him is an improvement," I assured her. Then, noticing we were being watched, I remembered to sign. "We're almost ready. Linda just programmed your hearing aids. Are you ready to try them out?"
Harry nodded enthusiastically. I'm ready. Does it hurt?
Linda shook her head. "No, it's not painful, but some people find it kind of weird at first." Linda only knew the basics of sign language so I translated this for him. "Ok, let's get started. Harry, sit down."
Harry climbed onto the stool next to the computer. Linda attached the molds to the hearing aids, but left the wires connected to the computer so she could make adjustments. She nodded at me and I switched the hearing aids on.
"Harry, can you hear me?" I said, signing at the same time.
Almost at once, Harry's eyes went as wide as saucers. Emotions flickered rapidly across his face: shock, apprehension, and finally, pure, unbridled joy. I can hear something! I can hear! The signs were filled with wonder and surprise. These were probably the first voices Harry had ever heard. I felt my eyes misting up, realizing how life-changing this moment was for Harry.
Linda then proceeded to check Harry's aided hearing by giving him a hearing test through the speakers in her office. We made adjustments and made sure the hearing aids fit perfectly. In the end we realized he couldn't hear much more than indistinct voices and some environmental sounds – not enough to understand speech but a vast improvement over what he had before. At least he would know when someone was talking to him.
We must have made quite a racket walking from one end of the building to the other. Harry experimented with his voice and asked me to make noises. For a moment, he got in front of me, and I called out his name. He stopped in his tracks, and then turned to me in surprise.
I heard you. You were behind me! I could tell you wanted me when I couldn't see you!
I could tell from the excitement in Harry's face that this was the first time this happened. The thought of communicating when one couldn't see was new to him.
I pointed out some of the louder sounds to him as they occurred: a car backfiring, the sound of a janitor's cart being pushed next to us, a baby crying. Once I pointed them out, he was able to hear them a little, but his brain was still not trained to respond to sound. It would take some work.
When we arrived, Remus and Andrew were having a signed conversation. I noticed that Andrew had taken off his speech processor. He later told me it was so Remus couldn't cheat and speak in English. I waved to get their attention. Andrew quickly replaced his processor over his ear and grinned at Harry. "Nice hearing aids!" He said with a smile. Harry beamed.
I spent the next twenty minutes getting the others to make sounds behind Harry's back and checking to see if he responded to the sound. At first, he wasn't sure that he was hearing them or not, but after several repetitions, he started responding more and more. It would take practice. When we were finished Harry was exhausted. He had been concentrating so hard that I could see his shoulders tense. On our way down the hall, I noticed most of my colleagues were gone for the weekend, so I suggested we all leave early and go to the park. Andrew grabbed the football from one of my shelves and chatted with Harry while I locked up my office.
"So, what's your favorite subject at school?" Andrew asked.
Harry thought for a minute. Music, he answered. He must have seen the puzzled look on our faces, because he then expanded. My music teacher signs. She shows me the words and signs the songs. And she gave me a drum instead of a recorder so I can feel it when we play music. That's the best class because I can do what everyone else does.
Andrew smiled at that. "What about phys ed? Do you like it?"
Harry nodded. It's fun, but I get picked last all the time.
"Why is that?" asked Andrew. "You told me you scored two goals in football."
Harry grinned. I'm a good player, but my cousin isn't. He won't let people pick me before him and he's always second last. The other kids listen to him. He'll beat them up if they don't.
Andrew's expression became worried. "Does he beat you up too?"
Harry shrugged his shoulders. I'm faster than him, but sometimes he gets me.
"What does he do?" I motioned to Remus to pay attention. Andrew was giving us more insight into what was going on in the Dursley home.
Harry thought for a minute. He hits me. He punched me in the face before. Once he hurt my arm, but it got better before I went to the doctor. And sometimes my side hurts if he jumps on me, but I go to sleep and get better.
Remus and I exchanged looks. Obviously things weren't great at home for Harry. I only hoped that his cousin was the only one getting physical. This was more than Harry had disclosed to either of us. Maybe it was because Andrew was so young, not really an adult. He knew how to ask without being threatening.
Andrew tried to get Harry to talk about his family some more, but he just gave simple yes and no answers, so he turned the conversation back to school. "What other subjects do you like, Harry?"
Math is fun when we do sheets, but I don't understand the ones with words. Most of the time I sit and do my work while the teacher talks to the class. I like my reading teacher, but she only comes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Remus pulled me aside. "I'm going to rearrange my schedule to get to Little Whinging on Monday. He'll never be ready for Hogwarts if he's shoved aside and only gets reading instruction twice a week. I bet they don't even have anyone to sign for him outside of music class."
Soon, we turned our attention to playing football. There was much laughter at my expense. Sometimes I'd fall right over when trying to kick the ball. Andrew set up some passing drills for Harry. Remus was in goal. It was fun being able to run and jump like a child again. I also could detect a lightness to Harry's steps.
Soon, the sun began to set and I realized that it was almost time to get Harry back home. I got the others' attention. "It's getting kind of late. I'll have to bring Harry home soon. Anyone want to come to dinner with us?"
"Of course, I'll come. Anything beats my cooking. I once burned water when making tea," said Remus.
Andrew nodded. "As long as we can eat some place other than McDonald's." He smiled wryly. "I had five shifts this week and I can't face another Big Mac."
Remus smiled. "I know the feeling. I once worked at a candy store and by the time I left, I couldn't stand the smell of chocolate. And I love chocolate." We all laughed at that.
I turned to Harry. "Is there anything in particular that you want to eat?" Harry just shook his head.
Andrew then indicated a building across the street. "What about pizza? My friends and I eat over there all the time."
We quickly agreed and entered the small pizzeria to discover we were not the only customers. Groups of teenagers and young adults were sitting at tables and booths. It took a few minutes for us to be seated, so I ducked outside to call Harry's aunt from a pay phone while we were waiting. I let it ring for several minutes, but there was no answer. When I returned, the others had been seated at a table. I tapped Harry on the shoulder. "I just tried to call your aunt, but she didn't answer the phone. Will she worry if you're late?"
Harry shook his head. I forgot. I have to go to Mrs. Figg's house today. My aunt and uncle are going away.
"Where are they going?" I asked.
Harry shrugged his shoulders. I missed it when they told me. But they told me about four times that I was going to stay with Mrs. Figg this weekend.
I nodded, remembering that Petunia had mentioned this possibility. "I should call Mrs. Figg and let her know you'll be late. Do you know her number?"
Harry shook his head. I glanced at the directory, but there were no Figgs on Privet Drive. I made a mental note to ask for it when we dropped Harry off that evening. Since Petunia had mentioned it at all, I had a feeling Harry stayed with Mrs. Figg fairly regularly.
It didn't take long for our order to arrive. Because it's next to impossible for four people to agree on pizza toppings, we ordered two pies with different toppings on each half. Harry tried a small slice of each. He ate every bite, even finishing Reus's green olive and anchovy pizza. We chatted more about sports and relived some of my more enthusiastic attempts at trying to kick the football.
Soon, I found myself alone with Harry in the car. He directed me to Mrs. Figg's. She lived in a small house on Wisteria Walk. The garden was neat and there were several cats lolling on the stoop and watching us from the windows. Although Harry tried to convince me that he was fine on his own, I insisted on walking him to the door.
It only took a moment for her to reach the door once I had knocked. She was a pleasant but elderly woman, a little bit frail, but had a genuine smile for Harry. She motioned for him to go in the house. "Hello, I'm Arabella Figg," she introduced herself.
"Alexandra Redding. I'm Harry's speech therapist."
"Yes, Petunia mentioned you'd be dropping Harry off. She called me in a hurry this afternoon, hoping I could watch him for the weekend. I don't mind, he's never any trouble, but she's been giving me less and less notice."
"Does she leave Harry with you often?"
Mrs. Figg nodded. "He's over here at least once a week. Lately the Dursleys have been leaving for the weekends, too. The cats seem to enjoy his company. And I like having the child around. Even if he doesn't speak, we have our ways of communicating. I like to give him a bit of a break, too. That woman has him constantly doing one chore or another. The little monster of hers never lifts a finger." She turned bright red. "Oops, I shouldn't have said that. She's a little touchy about 'Duddykins'. Won't hear a word against him, even though he's a bully. My cats steer clear of him. Cats are very fine judges of character, you know."
I nodded, mentally filing the information about the chores and frequency of Harry's visits. "I have to tell you that I'm concerned about him. Do you notice anything untoward happening over at that house?"
Mrs. Figg thought for a moment. "Nothing I could prove. They don't give him much affection. Petunia kind of drags and pushes him from one place to another. Petunia knows only the basics in sign language and neither Vernon nor Dudley has bothered to learn more than the curse words. I don't think they hurt him, but they don't show him any affection, but lavish attention on Dudley. Sometimes I don't see Harry for days at a time. I usually watch the kids walk to and from school, just to keep my eye on things."
I nodded. "A friend of mine has taken an interest in Harry's case. He's a social worker. Could I give him your name if he has any questions?" I then realized that I didn't have any means of contacting her. "Oh, I should also get your number, in case I run late when I bring Harry home. I tried to call Petunia today but there was no answer."
She smiled. "Of course. I have a feeling that we'll be seeing each other very often." She went into the kitchen and wrote her number down twice for me; one to keep and the other to give to Remus. I turned to leave watching Harry take his place in the middle of a wriggling pile of cats. For once, he looked contented as I left.
Author's note: A reviewer pointed out to me recently that it has been over two years since I have updated this story. I do give all my loyal followers my sincere apologies. When I started this story, I had based the main character loosely on a friend of mine who worked in a clinic setting. Since then, I've become an itinerant teacher of students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing and it has become more challenging to keep my character and my job separate. There were also times that my muse felt that I need a vacation from work, and would not inspire me with regards to this story.
I have actually seen a few people get hearing aids for the first time, and their faces looked a lot like Harry's in this chapter. With his hearing aids, Harry will be able to tell that people are talking to him but not what they say. Do a google search for unfair hearing test and listen to the first example for more information.