Chapter 1 - The Suggestion
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. T.T
"Fine!" Harry said to Ron after yet another jab Ron had made about what a privileged life Harry had.
"If you really think my life is something to be jealous over, let's switch places for a few days and then you can tell me if you still think that I have a perfect home life." His mask of indifference came up to shield the hesitation he felt at having said anything at all.
Ron paced in front of him, fuming, "alright then, sounds like a good idea to me. I wouldn't mind a few days of fame, fortune, and pampering. I'll go home with your muggle rellies, and spend a week in your place. You can go home with my family."
Harry looked at his friend with a puzzled expression on his face. How could anybody be so dense. He'd been dropping hints of the abuse he'd suffered at the hands of the Dursley's since the first day they had met on the Hogwarts Express. Hadn't his arriving alone at the station, baggy clothing, and ignorance of the wizarding world, clued Ron in to his less than privileged life? They had been sharing a dorm for months now, and Ron still seemed to think he was waited on hand and foot by his Aunt, Uncle, and Cousin.
The truth of the matter was that he had spent the last ten years of his life living in the cupboard under the stairs and treated like a hated servant. He was expected to clean and cook for his relatives, do all the chores around the house, and act as stress relief for his Uncle on his "bad" days. In Harry's opinion he was lucky if he got one meal a day, normally the school lunch, and escaped encounters with his Uncle without a new bruise.
His Aunt and Uncle loved belittling him, calling him "Freak" and "Boy". He wasn't allowed to ask questions, and if he spoke out of turn he would be punished by the withholding of food, being locked into his cupboard, or both. The frequent accidents that seemed to happen around him did not help the matter either.
He hadn't even known his name until his first day of school. His teacher had called the name Harry Potter out a number of times, and he hadn't known to respond. After that incident, Dudley began to call him No Name. The other kids, fearing his bullying, had followed along with Dudley and his friends, shunning Harry and calling him names.
Harry's years at school had been lonely at best. He was not allowed to do better in class than Dudley, and was looked down upon by his teachers. Harry had, on two separate occasions, tried to tell his teachers about the problems he was having at home. The first time he had been completely ignored, his teacher had thought he was making up stories to get his cousin into trouble. The other time, when he was seven, the teacher had actually called his house to check into the situation.
That night, Harry had learned not to talk about his home life to an outsider ever again.
After his failed attempts at getting help, he had finally realized that help was not going to come and had stopped trying. He had closed into himself and went about his life living from day to day.
The only time young Harry was happy was when he was reading. He wasn't allowed books at home, but during recess he had received permission to visit the library rather than going to the playground. He spent every moment he could reading and learning, trying to absorb as much information as he could for when he was finally away from the Dursley's.
Young Harry was actually extremely intelligent, but had learned to hide it well. He was mediocre in school, and tried his best to stay quiet around the house. Harry had actually become so good at being mediocre that he hadn't realized he had continued the practice at Hogwarts until he had received his midterm grades. He had actually known answers to two of the three questions Professor Snape asked at the beginning of the year but hadn't answered in fear of what would happen if he did.
Being friends with a slacker didn't help him at all either. Whenever he wanted to go to the library or study, Ron was there talking about Quidditch or wanting to play chess. Hermione, his other friend, was the complete opposite of Ron, but was so enthusiastic in her wanting to share her knowledge that Harry never had the chance to begin to answer questions in class. She was always there with the answer before he had the chance to figure things out for himself.
He realized this was her personality, and that he would just have to adapt again. He was afraid that if he stopped her, she would stop wanting to be his friend.
They trio hadn't been friends for that long, and he was worried that they would leave him if he tried to change his behavior. He didn't have enough confidence or self-esteem to try and brake away from the mold of being the Boy-Who-Lived/Gryffindor Golden Boy created by the other students and teachers.
The argument between Ron and Harry had been reoccurring every few days since the holidays when Harry had blithely handed over the present his "family" had sent to him. Ron was extremely unhappy that Harry's family had sent him Money. He actually had no idea of the value of the coin Harry had so easily given him, but Ron knew it must be a regular occurrence of theirs. He didn't seem to want to listen when Harry told him the amount was equivalent to a few Knuts. In Ron's mind money was money and if Harry's family sent him that as a present, it couldn't be a one time thing. Money was a sore spot for Ron, his family being so poor, and he knew that Harry was rich; he was the boy-who-lived after all.
After the suggestion of switching had been made, the room became silent as the two boys looked at each other. The thought running through Harry's head was that he was stupid and shouldn't have said anything; he didn't really want Ron to find out the truth of how he was treated.
Ron on the other hand, was becoming more excited by the second. He could see it in his mind… the beautiful bedroom, the new clothing, the small family that would never prank him.
Harry began to panic. How could he get out of this one… After the Stone incident a few days prior, he had thought they were over their problems, but it seemed the new fame going after the stone had garnered him had only made Ron even more jealous. Even the fact that he was the best chess player in the whole school had not staved Ron's envy.
After the minute he spent collecting his thoughts and remembering his true life, Harry knew he would have to figure out a way to stop things before they got out of hand. He could not allow his first friend to go home with the Dursley's.