Of course, problems with Vernon Dursley usually were settled via physical punishment of some sort. Harry dealt with that kind of thing every year at Hogwarts. He didn't need additional doses of it at 'home.'
It wasn't entirely Harry's fault, though. He had been having some truly bizarre dreams that week. More like nightmares than anything, though not like any he had ever had before. These dreams seemed... real, almost. Harry was beginning to worry, since normally his dreams tended to be fairly disjointed anymore. As far as nightmares went, the ones he used to have were always the same. The ones he was having now were different - they seemed to be one long, continuous story of sorts. Wanting to err on the side of caution, Harry had written to Dumbledore, informing him of these dreams. The headmaster had written back and told Harry, in a strange bout of honesty, that he had been hearing odd news from all across Europe that summer. It did little to quell Harry's worries.
Now if these nightmares were normal, if nightmares could be called such, there wouldn't be a problem. Harry had learned not to cry out when waking from a bad dream at an early age. But these were different. In fact, it was because of this difference that had driven him to write to Dumbledore. Every single time one of these nightmares invaded his slumber, he had awakened with his scar on fire, burning savagely. This was also accompanied by some form of pained scream. The scream, in turn, summoned Vernon to his bedroom as though it were the dinner bell leading him home.
Harry had long promised himself not to take any more crap from his so-called family. Unfortunately, the nightmares were leaving him feeling weak and vulnerable. This is how Harry Potter, famous since long before he could remember, ended up with a few new scars.Harry knew he wouldn't be able to fight back using magic, and he was too scrawny to even think about going up against his uncle, who moved disturbingly fast for someone so insanely large.
Adding to Harry's frustrations was the lack of communications with his friends. Though Andromeda Tonks had mentioned having a foolproof plan to break him out, he had heard nothing. It wasn't until his birthday that his general mood lightened. Thanks, in surprising part, to the gift he had received from Hagrid. Harry had never liked the large man much, feeling that it was partially his fault that he had ended up where he was. But this grudge, for good or not, was slowly ebbing away. It helped that Harry now had someone to talk to.
He had awakened (thankfully before another odd nightmare began) to the sound of numerous owls pecking at his window. It was just after midnight, which he smiled at. Birthday owls always did know how to wake a person. After letting the owls in, taking their packages and allowing them to rest awhile, Harry began opening things. The typical fare from everyone,really. He was happy to see a small box of Sugar Quills included in the package of sweets from the Weasleys, though. He could hide those under the loose board in the floor.
Hagrid's package had air holes.
It took Harry awhile before he had decided to open it. He had turned his light on prior, though, just in case. The box wasn't very large, so whatever was inside was bound to get out and hide somewhere. That or it would just leapt out and eat Harry's face off. Knowing Hagrid, it wouldn't be surprising.
But instead of doom and blood, Harry discovered a somewhat irritated, coiled up snake inside, along with a few dead rats (which Harry smiled darkly at) and a short letter. It had read, 'Dear Harry - Friend of mine picked this up. Found it on his travels, he said. Well, I took one look at it and immediately thought of you, of course. I still remember what you asked of me not long ago. And, seeing as how you 'helped me out of a bind' of sorts, I figured it was the least I could do to thank you. Not sure what his name is... or even if it's a 'he,' but I'm sure you'll be able to work that out. Be careful, though - he's a bit poisonous.'
The snake was a deep blue color - so deep that it could be mistaken as black in the wrong light. Its eyes were also blue, though very pale. Harry, having done a good bit of research on snakes in hopes of working out more of his Parselmouth ability, knew that seeing snakes that color weren't exactly common. Especially around his neck of the woods.
"The letter says you're a bit poisonous." Harry said, peering into the box. "You alright?"
The snake stared up at Harry for a moment before hissing out a reply. "You can speak to me? That is... very odd. In any case, I am fine, yes. A bit shaken up. That foul beast that carried me seemed to be frightened of me. As for poison... I should say so."
"What type of snake are you, exactly?" Asked Harry.
"Type? Though I'm not one to keep track of such things, I did overhear two men, one of whom was very large, mention the words 'Inland Taipan' and 'Fierce' in regards to me. If that rings any bells." Hissed the snake.
Well, it wasn't doom and blood, but it might as well have been. Harry rubbed the bridge of his nose. Leave it to Hagrid to somehow find him a blue variant of the world's most venomous snake. But that didn't make much sense, now that Harry thought about it. He gave the snake a closer look, frowning. "...You're too small to be an Inland Taipan."
"Am I?" Replied the snake.
"Wrong color, too." Harry noted.
"I would chance a guess that perhaps that it why the men were interested in me. Though I do take offense to being called 'miniature.'" Said the snake.
"Runt of the litter?" Harry offered. The snake hissed something akin to a swear up at him, causing him to smirk. "Sorry. Do you have a name?"
"I've had little need for one." Hissed the taipan. "Perhaps you could think up one for me?"
"I can try." Harry said. "Fair warning, though - I'm awful with names. Give me a day, I'll work something out."
"As you wish, then." Said the snake. "And what of you? Have you a name?"
"Huh? Oh! Yeah, sorry. My name's Harry. Harry Potter." Said Harry.
"Very well. It is nice to meet you, Harry. Tell me now, why is it you can communicate in my language?"
Harry was then more or less forced into recounting the events of his second year in great detail to the little snake, who had decided to down one of the rats in his box as he listened. Once Harry had finished, the snake eventually said, "I do not believe... that I would like to meet a snake as large as that."
"I don't think I did either, but it couldn't be helped. Now then... what am I going to do with you?" Harry wondered aloud.
"What do you mean?" Asked the snake.
"Well... my family, if you could call them that, aren't the nicest of people in the world. Downright awful, if you want the truth. They'd not think twice about killing you. I think telling them how venomous you are might help ruin that plan, though. Still, I think you should be on me as much as possible. You're small enough - no offense, that you could easily curl up around my arm or something. My body heat would help keep you warm, and I'm sure the Dursleys wouldn't get near you then. The only reason my uncle comes in contact with me is to hit me... and I've just about had enough of that, thank you." Harry said.
"As anyone would. Why do they hit you? Because you are a wizard?"
"Pretty much. They detest magic. Hell, they detest anything that doesn't fit their definition of normal." Harry said. "Well, it's late, and the owls delivering my presents kinda interrupted my sleep. I need to hide the evidence, they I can get back to sleep. I can hide the remaining rat in my desk drawer, so if you get hungry again, let me know. I'll try and sneak more up here. Aunt Petunia's garden usually hides at least a couple small mice."
"I believe I won't need to eat again for awhile. Where will I be staying tonight?" Asked the snake.
"Well, you can curl up around my arm or rest on my chest or something. Wherever you'd feel most comfortable, really." Harry said, getting up and beginning his yearly ritual of disposing of anything that might inform the Dursleys that he had gotten gifts. After he was done, he hid the snake's box after allowing it to spiral its way up his arm. As Harry moved the box under his bed, he felt the snake curl around his neck.
"Careful - I need to be able to breathe." Harry said.
The grip loosened slightly. "Apologies. This is a rather new experience."
"Indeed. I don't think my neck's a good place for you while I sleep. I might roll over or something and crush you by accident." Harry said. He went over to the window to get a look at his reflection best he could. "...I look like the worst punk rocker ever. You look like some kind of weird collar."
"What is a punk rocker?" Asked the snake.
"Nevermind. It'd take too long to explain. Anyway, around my neck is fine when I'm awake so long as you don't cut off my air." Harry said. "Like I mentioned, wherever you're most comfortable is fine."
The next day had been an interesting experience. Harry had gotten out of bed that morning feeling better rested than he had felt in ages. The snake had been curled up on Harry's chest. Apparently, Harry had slept on his back the entire night. It'd explain the lower back pain. The bed wasn't very comfortable.
"I think I have a name picked out." Harry informed the snake as he changed clothes.
"I'll tell you downstairs. First thing's first - I get up and begin making breakfast for the Dursleys. That usually gets them up if they aren't already. I'll introduce you there and we can play it by ear from then on." Harry explained, letting the snake once more spiral up his arm. "Curl up around my neck again, though, if you would. I want to see how long it takes for them to notice."
"Are they not very bright?" Asked the snake, coiling lazily around the teen's neck.
"To say the least." Said Harry, chuckling quietly as he left his bedroom.
And so, Harry went about his usual morning routine. And, as usual, the delicious smells eminating from the kitchen wafted upstairs and woke the Dursleys up. It was a Saturday, so Vernon wouldn't be going in to work and Dudley wouldn't be going to school. It was the perfect chance to test the waters in regards to his new friend.
Dudley had amazed Harry when the two met again. He had somehow grown even larger while Harry was off fighting Dementors and freeing his godfather. Seeing two chairs at his place at the table was a regular sight anymore. And, since Dudley tended to come in contact more often than his parents, he was the first to really notice Harry's newly acquired accessory.
"What's that thing?" He asked, half-spitting out a mouthful of eggs.
"What thing?" Harry replied, voice monotone.
"That thing around your neck!" Dudley said.
Vernon glanced up from the morning paper. Petunia glanced up from her food. The two exchanged a dark glance.
"Boy," Vernon began, folding the paper and setting it to one side. "I will not have you wearing ridiculous... JEWELRY around my house!"
"Isn't jewelry." Harry replied, keeping his attention on his own food.
"It's a collar, dad!" Dudley said, laughing. "I think he wants to be put on a leash."
"He could do with one." Growled Vernon. "Leash him up in his room and hope he strangles himself."
"Not a collar." Harry interjected.
"Then what the ruddy hell is it?" Vernon roared, slamming a hand down on the table.
"Boris." Said Harry simply.
"Boris?" Repeated the Dursleys.
"Boris?" Repeated the snake.
"Boris." Repeated Harry, finally looking up. "Ouroboros was too long a name to be used in casual conversation. So I shortened it. Boris is the closest thing it sounded like, so there you have it."
The newly-dubbed Boris uncoiled from around Harry's neck to finally get a better look at each of the Dursleys. In response, Petunia let out a shrill shriek. Vernon gaped like a fish for a moment before sharing a strange look with Dudley. Before either could reply, however, Boris shifted, his tongue flicking out a few times before he let out a low hiss.
"The 'smaller' one - and I used the term lightly - reeks." Hissed Boris.
"Yeah, that's Dudley." Harry hissed back. "He does that."
Petunia let out another shriek.
"What did you just do?" Vernon cried out, looking somewhere between being angry and afraid.
"What? Oh, I was talking to him. I can speak with snakes, see. Parselmouth and all. Boris was just commenting on Dudley stinking. I think I agree. Hey, Big D - when's the last time you took a shower?" Harry explained, turning to his cousin and raising his eyebrows as he asked his question.
Dudley looked furious, pushing his chairs back and getting to his feet, looking very much like he was about to throw a punch.
"Wouldn't do that. If you hurt me - any of you - then I'll let Boris on you. You have to come in contact with me to hit me, remember. He can be on you, sinking his fangs into your flesh, in a split second. And I should warn you - Boris here's a type of Inland Taipan - which are usually only found in Australia, so I can only guess how he got here. Anyway, they're usually called Fierce Snakes... for good reason. They're probably the most venomous snakes on the planet. A single bite from him's enough to take out a good 200 grown men...Or in your case, Duddiekins, about ten men." Harry said, smiling darkly as he stood up.
"Just because I can't hit you people back doesn't mean I'm going to silently let this abuse continue any longer. I found out something very interesting over the course of the year. I'm assuming you lot heard about that escaped murderer that was running around?" Harry continued, glancing around.
"Yes." Vernon said shortly, having finally settled on being angry. "Yes, we did. What about him?"
"He's my godfather." Harry replied simply, his smile turning pleasant. "And he's still on the loose."
"Wh-what...?" Petunia squeaked, eyes wide.
"And I can send word to him at any time. You see, I have a secret way of communicating
with my friend from down the way - I don't need to send my owl to her. Which is why Hedwig
is staying with them again. See, Hedwig is finely tuned to my... well, my you-know what."
He said, knowing full well that that stood for 'magic' in Number Four. "Anyway, if she senses something seriously wrong with me, she'll start having a fit. In which case, a flood of my kind would fall on this house. I don't know what they'd do to you lot, but I can't imagine it'd be nice.
"Having said all that - you treat me better and all will go well from now on. I'm not asking for alot, mind. Just not getting pummelled and insulted constantly will do. I'll still be doing my chores, but I'd better get some decent meals this summer." Harry said. Then, switching to Parseltongue, he glanced downwards and asked, "Is there anything you want, Boris?"
"Just to be fed and to not be trampled upon." Replied the snake in what sounded like a sleepy voice.
Switching back to English again, Harry relayed this message, to which he added, "That about concludes it. Believe me, I hate being here as much as you people hate having me here. With any luck, I'll be escaping early again. Only a few more summers of this insipid routine before I can finally be free of you once and for all. But until then, I expect to be treated less like a doormat and more like an actual human. And if you lot don't want to die, I'd suggest you get used to the new rules. It wouldn't be the first time I've killed."
And with that, Harry grabbed the last rasher of bacon from his plate and left the kitchen, popping it into his mouth. He could only imagine the looks and conversation that would be had in his absense.
"You have killed?" Boris asked.
"Technically." Harry said. "Remember that basilisk story?"
"Ah yes... I see." Replied the snake. "You were very forceful."
"You have to be with them." Harry said, making his way up the stairs and into his room. "Now we wait and see what they decide to do."
"Do you really have a secret way of conversing with your friends?"
"No. But they don't need to know that." Harry said, grinning. "Come on, I need to get some homework done before I'm due to start my housework."
If Boris caused unrest in the Dursley household, it was nothing compared to what happened the very next day. Harry was cooking lunch (happily, since he was now getting a fair share of the food) when a noise came from the front door. Vernon sent Dudley to go inspect things. Dudley let out a yelp of surprise from the other room, followed by the cry of, "Look at the size of it!"
"Think he just got a good look at his own arse?" Harry hissed in a sharp whisper.
"I don't think his neck can swivel that far." Replied Boris from somewhere along Harry's right arm.
Vernon had started to get up to investigate further, but there was no need, for a moment later and the source of Dudley's surprise burst into the kitchen. Harry let out a squawk of surprise seconds before he was nearly pounced to the ground.
"SIRIUS!" He exclaimed.
The large, black dog let out a happy bark in reply.
Harry groaned. "What do you think you're doing? You could get caught! ...Again!"
"BOY!" Roared Vernon, turning on Harry from where he had been. As Dudley re-entered the room, Vernon stomped towards Harry. But Sirius, in full-on Animagus form, whirled about and let out a savage growl, effectively stopping the large man in his tracks.
"I told you not to threaten me." Harry said, smirking down at the dog. "I seem to have a way with animals, don't I?"
"Get that mongrel out of my house!" Vernon said through gritted teeth. "Or else I'll..."
"Or else you'll WHAT?" Spat Harry, narrowing his eyes. "Try and beat me up? If Boris didn't pump you full of venom, my godfather would kill you outright!"
"And what makes you think your godfather would be able to find us?" Snarled Vernon. "We could take care of you and be out of town before he could possibly arrive!"
"Oi, Sirius. I know you just got here and all, but uh... would you care to show him?" Harry asked, smiling down at the dog, who was still glaring as fiercely as a dog could.
"Why are you calling that dog Sirius?" Petunia asked irritably. "Is your godfather so much of a street rat that he reminds you of a dog?"
"Actually, he was looking pretty haggard last time I saw him. Being in prison with demons that want to devour your soul does that. And no, the dog doesn't remind me of him. The dog is him." Harry said.
"Don't be stupid!" Petunia said.
"Sirius?" Harry said again.
The dog looked back over its shoulder, seemed to grin, and then in an instant was gone, replaced by a man. Vernon backpeddled into the nearest wall. Dudley let out a scream and bolted from the room. Petunia simply fell out of her chair, gaped, and made strange squeaking noises.
"Oh wow, you're looking better." Harry said, eyebrows raised as he took in his godfather's new appearance. The man had managed to get a good shave in and had managed to trim his hair, which was now hanging just above his shoulders. He was in a proper set of wizarding robes and, most interesting to Harry, was holding a wand. When he grinned, Harry also noted that he had gotten his teeth fixed up - they looked as good as new.
Sirius followed Harry's gaze, then chuckled and held up the wand. "This? Got it through Remus earlier this week. Bought me a new one. Won't ever be as good as my original, of course, but there's no bringing that one back." He said. His voice still sounded a bit hoarse, as though he wasn't yet used to using it again. "Now then... why do these idiotic Muggles know about me?"
"Huh? Oh! Yeah, well... I kinda mentioned you to them the other night. Of course they'd remember the name of a famous murderer." Harry said, his tone light. He bit back a grin that Sirius seemed to pick up on.
"That so?" Sirius said, turning from Harry to look at Vernon Dursley. "Well then. I suggest listening to the boy. Damn strong in his own right, you know. You'd have half the wizarding community out for your blood if they found out you even put a scratch on him."
"Now see here!" Vernon said, finding his voice again. "This is my house! And if you don't get out of it right now..."
"You'll do what?" Sirius growled.
"I'll call the police!" Vernon stated, looking smug.
"Oh? Well, then, be my guest." Replied Sirius, looking equally smug, which caught Vernon offguard briefly.
"Very well, I WILL!" Vernon cried, stomping out of the room. Petunia quickly got to her feet and rushed after him.
"Sirius! What are you doing?" Harry asked. "If you get caught...!"
"I won't get caught." Sirius said, smirking.
"But... Ohhh, wait a minute, I get it. Sirius, you're absolutely brilliant. Have I told you that?" Harry said, chuckling.
"Not yet." Sirius said, patting Harry on the shoulder. "So, how have you been?"
"Better since I got Boris." Harry said. Seeing Sirius' questioning look, Harry poked at his arm lightly and hissed something. A moment later and the little taipan's head poked out from the collar of his shirt. "This is Boris." Harry explained.
"Never seen a blue snake before." Sirius commented, leaning in to get a better look. "And it's damn weird when you talk to it."
"So I've heard." Harry said, wryly. "Hagrid sent him to me. The one thing he's done that I've approved of."
"Don't like him?" Asked Sirius.
"He brought me here." Harry said, darkly. "Even if it was on Dumbledore's orders, he brought me here. I can still see that motorcycle and..."
"Motorcycle?" Sirius said, perking up. "I'd all but forgotten about that... I wonder if he still has it?"
"Dunno." Harry said. "Why do you want it?"
"Because it was mine!" Sirius said. "Hagrid and I crossed paths the night Voldemort made his raid on Godric's Hollow. I was chasing after Wormtail and he needed a quick way to get you out of there. Since Wormtail isn't faster than I am when I'm running as a dog, I let Hagrid borrow my bike..."
"And then Pettigrew set you up." Harry finished, frowning. "Well, it couldn't hurt to check with him and ask."
"Yeah. Not that I could go tearing about on it right now, mind. I'll need to haul that damned rat in first." Sirius said. "...And speaking of being turned in, I'm going to be if I don't get down to business."
Sirius had just transformed back into dog form when Vernon stormed back into the room, leading an officer forcefully and saying, "He's in here! That murderer Sillipuss Black is in here!"
"I only see the boy, sir." Said the office, jerking his arm away from Vernon and sending the man a baleful look. "Do you know you can get in serious trouble for pranking the police?"
"Prank!" Vernon spluttered. "He's RIGHT THERE!" And with great flourish, Vernon pointed at the large, black dog that was laying down beside Harry's feet.
"...Sir, are you on medication?" Asked the officer, cocking an eyebrow.
"He can change into a dog!" Vernon yelled, flailing his arms wildly.
"Of course he can. Sir, if you could just follow me back out to my car, I've got a few things I'm going to need you to sign." Said the officer, this time grabbing Vernon's arm and leading him. Vernon yelled all the way outside.
The next few days were rather enjoyable for Harry. In fact, they were, without a doubt, the best days he had spent with his relatives. Sirius had stayed around, sticking primarily in dog form unless he felt the Dursleys were getting too far out of line for his liking.
The police had given Vernon a stiff fine for his 'prank' on them. This, of course, hadn't set well with the man, who had stomped back into the house to scream at Harry. This caused Sirius to change back and promptly spell Vernon's mouth away. Naturally, the rest of the Dursleys scrambled away from him, locking themselves in the master bedroom for the rest of the night. Only after Vernon had promised to behave did Sirius remove the hex.
And then, out of the blue, he was gone. Sirius wasn't next to Harry's bed, curled up between it and the door. Instead, there was a note in his place. Scowling, Harry picked it up and read it.
"Harry, sorry to leave to suddenly. Dumbledore got in touch with me sometime around 2, said he needed to speak with me. Don't worry - I'll be going via his phoenix, apparently. Not sure how that's going to work, but there you go. Dunno if I'll manage to get back in touch before you return to school or not, though. If I can't, I'll make sure to write so that you don't worry yourself to death. That being said, if that blubbering whale of a man gives you any crap, send me a message. I'll make sure he remembers who he's dealing with. See you when I see you -- Sirius."
"Well, great." Harry muttered, running a hand back through his hair. "Guess it was too much to hope for that he could be here the entire summer." And then, slipping into Parseltongue, he continued, "Wonder what Tonks is up to. Shame they didn't come by when Sirius was here. Andromeda probably would've gotten a kick out of it."
"Tonks?" Asked Boris.
"Friend of mine. Really pretty. Smart, too, though she's got a bit of a mouth on her." Harry said, chuckling quietly.
"I see." Replied the snake slowly.
"She and her mother are supposed to be breaking me out of here at some point. Wish they'd at least tell me how." Harry said, making a face.
"Now that we are alone again, what is our course of action?"
"Survive." Harry replied simply, shrugging. "I trust Tonks and her mum. They'll get me out of here. I just have to be patient."
"Not one of your strong suits, I take it."
"Unfortunately." Harry said. "What good is an impatient Ravenclaw?"
Harry opened his mouth, then shook his head. "I'll tell you later. I think it'd be easier to just show you once we're back at Hogwarts. For now, though... I suppose I should go and start breakfast. If Tonks is going to surprise me with the breakout attempt, I have the feeling I'll need some energy. For running, if nothing else."
"You live a very...odd life." Commented Boris.
"You have no idea." Harry said. And, after getting dressed, he made his way out of his room
and back downstairs. Another day, same old routine. With any luck, the Dursleys would
remain paranoid, thinking that Sirius might randomly appear if they harassed Harry anymore.
And if they didn't... well... Harry would take off on his own. He could get over to Number Nine quick enough.
In fact... depending on how the day went, he might just go pay his friend a visit, anyway.
That thought alone kept Harry happy and smiling throughout the whole of breakfast.
Author's Notes: Well, true believers, we're back again. Another book started. And now that
Harry is of reasonable age, I can finally start molding him in the direction I want him to
go in. I've not gotten close to mapping out any of the Triwizard Tasks yet - and oh yes,
they WILL happen - but I've got a few amusing ideas. And here we have your basic starter. I realize Harry getting a snake is fairly overused, but I have good reason for sticking Boris in there. And not just to help Harry master his Parselmouth skills.
I'm sure a few will balk at Sirius' appearance. But the way I see it, how would anyone KNOW, really? He's parading around as a big ol' dog mosta the time and left via Fawkes. Hadta get him back outta there somehow, y'know. And no one can point out Sirius using a spell inside the wards would alert someone. Dumbledore clearly already knew, anyway. Dumbledore knows everything. He's not very smart with the KNOWLEDGE, but he knows everything, anyway.
I'm not ENTIRELY sure how I'm going to fill out the next chapter. The summary is long enough, but long doesn't always equal stuffing. If nothing else, you'll get a healthy dose of fluff earlier on. And you'd better well enjoy it while it's there. Mwahaha. In any case, our ickle kids have finally started to change a bit, and that'll all get talked about next chapter.
I hope everyone will enjoy where I'm taking things. I've had a lot of ideas since I started, but most were only possible in or after Goblet. I'm going to keep on a 1 to 2 week per chapter update schedule, so as not to burn myself out. I don't think that's too long to wait. And, as usual, I'll probably hit bursts of time where I'll crank out multiple chapters like I did at the end of Prisoner.
Post-edit comments: The next update will probably come towards the end of the month. I hate doing that, but a number of things are going on. My sleep schedule's all screwed up again, for once, and I just can't write easily when it isn't after midnight. Also, I've got a ton of new videogames (blame income tax returns) that I wanna play. And for those wondering, I'll be (trying, at least) to finish fixing Philosopher's Stone between now and the posting of chapter 2 here. Until next time, I hope you enjoyed the first chapter of book 4!