A/N: This story has been put on hiatus.
Disclaimer: this is JKR's world I am just borrowing it. Any characters you don't recognize are mine.
The Disastrous Beginning
It was a viciously cold night when the clouds that had been gathering across the skies of London final decided to let lose their assault on the earth. The pounding of the rain like a war drum mixed with the howls of the trees as they suffered a relentless onslaught from the wind. It seemed particularly fitting that the Death Eaters would choose this night to meet; As though the sky itself had conspired with them. They had decided to meet in a mansion outskirts of the London countryside, where they would be able to spot any enemies coming from miles away. Nobody had lived in the old house in decades and it was magically protected to keep anyone from apperating within a mile of it. It was the perfect for meetings such as this.
It had been almost six months since the Dark Lord's fall from power, and the trials and accusations were just starting to die down. Many of the men attending this meeting had been accused, but less than half of the true Death Eaters had been convicted, while the others had either hidden or been set free by the ministry.
Those Death Eaters who were still free and loyal were meeting here tonight. Lucius Malfoy was the first person to speak, bringing the meeting to order. "Comrades, we're here to discuss what should be done now that the Dark lord has been defeated." His voice rang out clearly in the dark room, cutting off the few whispers of conversation and commanding everyone's attention.
"How do we know that the Dark Lord has really lost his power?" Wormtail's distinctively whiny voice called out from across the room, and was met with nods of agreement.
"If he has not lost power then where is he?" McAllister countered as little arguments broke out between the Death Eaters who believed that Voldemort was truly gone and the ones who didn't.
"If he wasn't defeated he would be here tonight and the Potter boy would be dead!" Lucius yelled as he glared around at the room. "Even if the Dark Lord is still alive he has obviously lost power or he wouldn't have been defeated by a child." This statement caused all arguments to stop. Even Death Eaters in the deepest denial recognized the truth in Lucius' words.
"What we need to decide now is who will take his place." Lucius said as he looked around at the masked figures gathered around the room.
"I suppose you think you should be our new leader," Severus Snape said coldly as he stepped forward and glared at Malfoy.
"I was one of his most trusted servants." Malfoy said staring at the other man.
"Yes, you were one of his most trusted servants - how does that put you above all the others?" Snape sneered, soliciting nods of agreement all around.
"Who do you think should take over then?" Malfoy demanded. He did not liking the turn this conversation had taken.
"I think we need to come up with a definitive way of determining it." Snape said reasonably as he turned toward the other Death Eaters.
"A vote?" Avery called.
"No, it would be too easy to fix a vote in one persons favor." Malfoy said, knowing that he would probably lose if it came to that. Thinking fast he came up with a plan.
"I have the perfect idea, something even you couldn't disagree with Severus," Malfoy said as he moved to the middle of the room. "The best way to crown a new leader is to have him do what our old master failed to do," he paused for a second. "Kill Harry Potter." The room was silent for a moment as the words sunk in, but as soon as they did Malfoy started hearing words of approval.
"It sounds fair enough, the boy somehow managed to defeat the Dark Lord so we have to kill the boy to become leader and take his place." Goyle said.
"That is far too easy," Snape said loudly, "The boy got lucky when he defeated the Dark Lord! Killing him now would be like…killing a child! There is no challenge to that." Snape said as he looked around at his fellow Death Eaters. He was lucky to be wearing a mask because his face had gone completely pale underneath it.
"Even if it was just luck, the boy still defeated the Dark Lord, it is only fitting that whoever kills him get to take over." Crabbe said.
"Dumbledore won't have left the boy without protection either; to get to him we will also have to get past Dumbledore." Dolohov said from behind him
"We are in agreement then?" Avery asked the room. When no one objected Lucius stepped forward again.
"It is settled then!" Lucius said as he looked around "Whoever kills the boy will claim his rightful place as our new leader." He hadn't considered Dumbledore's protection but it didn't matter, he would find a way to kill Potter and claim his rightful place as the new Dark Lord.
Eight years later
During his years spent at the Dursleys house on Private Drive Harry Potter had fallen into a pattern of sorts, and this day started just like every other; with his aunt banging on his cupboard door telling him to get up. Harry sat up in bed careful not to hit his head on one of the beams above him, and was once again faced with the fact that he wouldn't be able to live in his cupboard for much longer. At nine-years-old, he had raven black hair that would never lay flat, bright emerald eyes and a lightning bolt scar on his forehead. He was scrawny for his age, but he was still at normal height despite the fact that he lived in a cupboard under the stairs.
As usual, he took a quick shower before heading to the kitchen to prepare breakfast for the Dursley's. While they ate he cleaned all the utensils he had used and when they were done eating he washed their dishes. Once morning chores were done Harry took what little food was left and went to eat out on the front porch while he waited for the school bus to arrive. He wasn't very popular with the other children but he still loved going to school, partly because it allowed him to escape from his life on private drive for a few hours, but mainly because Harry loved to learn.
"The bus is here." He called into the house as soon as he saw it turn the corner. Without waiting for a reply he ran down to the curb. He heard his aunt fussing over his cousin, Dudley, but he didn't look back. Petunia had made her feelings about Harry clear, many times over. He expected nothing from his relatives and they never surprised him.
As he stepped onto the bus the other children quickly moved to make sure 'The Potter Freak' wouldn't try to sit by them. Although Harry always tried to be friendly towards the other children none of them had ever really reciprocated. It was well known throughout the school that Dudley and his gang had it out for Harry, and anyone who associated with him would probably get beat up just as badly. Most of the other kids either avoided Harry or picked on him to try to fit in. He ended up sitting alone at the back of the bus, and stared out of the window without seeing anything. After years of being treated like a pariah he was used to the solitude, and now actually preferred it. Like his time in the cupboard under the stairs, he knew that life couldn't stay this way forever. Or at least he hoped.
The bus soon arrived at Rex Bell Elementary School and all the other kids quickly got off the bus to meet their friends out on the playground. Harry was one of the last people off the bus. He had never enjoyed the playground. Besides having no friends to play with, something about the chain linked fence that surrounded it made him feel trapped. This feeling wasn't helped by the fact that he was constantly being chased by Dudley and his friends. As he stepped off the bus he knew that today would be no exception. He saw Dudley and his gang looking around with dumb grins on their faces. He knew that it would only be a few seconds before they spotted him, so he decided to use this short head start wisely.
Harry quickly made his way through the clusters of students in front of him. If he moved quickly enough he might be able to avoid the chase altoget-
"There he is!" He heard one of Dudley's loyal goons shout behind him. He risked a quick glance and saw them all running towards him with dumb grins plastered across their faces.
Harry broke out into a run, cutting through the groups of students that had gathered. If there was one advantage he had it was his speed. Years of being chased after had made him one of the fastest boys in the school. It only took him 60 second's for him to run across the playground and reach the school building. He risked another glance behind him and saw that his pursuers had lagged behind, with Dudley at the tail end of the group. He didn't wait for them to catch up though. As soon as he reached the doors he ran inside.
Once he was safely in the building he quickly ducked into the nearest empty classroom, which the gang didn't think to check before they ran past. Once he was sure that the coast was clear Harry left the classroom and began wandering the halls. He knew it was much safer in here than outside. As he walked he began to think about how he was going to avoid the gang during recess and he didn't notice the warm feeling that slowly crawled up his spine and ended up walking right into his teacher, Ms. Hallowell.
"Harry?" she asked curiously, looking into his eyes with her probing gaze. "What are you doing in here?"
Startled out of his thoughts he didn't know what to say. He could usually tell when Ms. Hallowell was nearby, and avoid her at times like this. He had long since learned that he should never tell on other students, especially Dudley, since the Dursleys would blame him for getting their little angel in trouble. "I-I um, I was just…"
"Hiding." she said. It wasn't a question.
Harry just looked down at the ground silently. He had learned how to lie over the years out of necessity, and he was surprisingly good at it, but one of the few people Harry hated lying to was Ms. Hallowell. He had tried once or twice but she always seemed to know. Harry knew that there was something different about her since the first time he meet her. There was an odd kind of warmth that seemed to radiate from her. Harry didn't know what it meant but he could tell that she was a good person, and he had felt drawn to her.
"Come on," she said with a small smile, "You can help me set up for class." Harry gave a relieved sigh and shot her one of his rare smiles. Evangeline 'Eve' Hallowell was a very attractive woman in her early thirties with long brown hair and hazel eyes. She was a good teacher - one of the few teachers at Harry's school who actually seemed to care about her students - and for some reason she seemed to have taken a particular liking to Harry, much to the confusion of her colleagues who saw him as nothing special. After a few weeks of teaching him and getting to know him she had come to truly like him, because unlike the other children who were just there because their parents forced them to be, Harry seemed to genuinely enjoy learning.
As she had gotten to know Harry he began to open up to her a little, and what she learned had disturbed her. She knew Harry lived with his aunt, uncle, and cousin, and although he never told her what happened to his parents, she had found out that his relatives had told him they died in a car crash. She knew that Harry didn't like his family, and if his aunt and uncle were anything like his cousin Dudley, she could completely understand why. Dudley wasn't in her class but from the stories the other teachers had told her she couldn't believe that he and Harry were related. She knew that his cousin constantly picked on him, and the only reason that she didn't report it to the principal was because Harry so vehemently protested her saying anything when she told him what she planned on doing. His argument was that they had no proof that Dudley had done anything to him, and that the other children would think he told on Dudley and his friends, which would only make his life that much harder. She had agreed to keep her silence, mainly because she knew there was more to it than that, but until he told her what it was she would respect his wishes - even if she didn't like them. She was actually starting to think it was about time she met the elder Dursleys. They had only ever come to the school when something happened concerning Dudley.
When they got to the classroom Ms. Hallowell told Harry that another class would be joining them, and had him place the material they would need on every desk while she wrote the instructions for today's class on the whiteboard. When both tasks were completed she told him he could go play outside with the other children or he could stay and read until the bell rang. For Harry that was no choice at all. He grabbed a book from the bookshelf and sat in one of the bean bag chairs in the reading area.
As Harry quickly became engrossed in the book he didn't seem to notice his teachers curious gaze fall on him again. Ms. Hallowell had once again found her thoughts wandering to the little boy in front of her. He was probably the only child in the school who would rather sit quietly and read than go outside to play. He didn't seem particularly close to any of the other children, but for some reason that didn't seem to bother him. He was very independent, and she honestly didn't know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. It was good that he had learned to depend on himself but for someone so young it almost seemed wrong that he would be so disconnected. There was definitely more than meets the eye with the boy, you only had to spend 5 minutes with him to figure that out.
She pushed those thoughts aside when the bell rang and the other children started to pour into the classroom. Harry quickly stood up and put away the book before going over to his desk at the back of the class by the window. One of the few things Harry didn't like about his class was the other children. Mrs. Hallowell spent so much time explaining things for the other students that the class generally went excruciatingly slow. Harry understood that everyone didn't understand things as quickly as he did and he even tried to help the other kids when he could, but he couldn't help the resentment he felt about having to slow down to the their level.
After everyone was seated Ms. Hallowell announced to the class that there would an assembly after lunch, and another class would be joining them while their teacher helped set up for it. This was met by excited whispers from most students who hoped that it would be a class that one of their friends was in. Harry just stared out the window indifferently, having already heard this news. There was nobody he wanted to see, there were only people he wanted to avoid. A few minutes later the other class came in and Harry's hopes were immediately crushed as Dudley Dursley walked through the door. He felt his heart speed up when his cousin spotted him and started towards the empty desk beside him. There would be no way for Harry to get away. Maybe he could get someone else to sit next to him so Dudley would have to sit somewhere else. When Ms. Hallowell saw the frantic look in Harry's eyes and Dudley making his way toward him, she decided that it would be better to keep the two classes separate.
"I want everybody from Mr. Johnson's class to sit in the first 3 rows, and my class take the back three." Ms. Hallowell said from the front of the room. This was met with a few groans but everyone did as they were told. Dudley sent Harry a glare before going to sit in the third row. Harry breathed a sigh of relief as the students started filling up the back row. He glanced up at his teacher, sure that she had made this arrangement for his benefit, but she didn't seem to notice as she helped the other students find new seats.
Once everyone was seated Ms. Hallowell told the class they would be learning long division, which even Harry hated. As the lesson progressed Ms. Hallowell started calling up groups of students to answer questions on the board.
"Dudley," she called when she saw the boy wasn't paying attention to the lesson "Could you please come answer question five on the board?" she said.
Reluctantly Dudley got to his feet and made his way up to the whiteboard with four other kids. He quickly began to scribble numbers on the board to make it look like he knew what he was doing, but as the others quickly finished their problems Dudley was left standing at the board by himself. Ms. Hallowell walked up to the board and patiently tried to walk him through the problem. A boy from Harry's class, one of the few boys who knew how to do the math and wasn't afraid of Dudley and his gang, began to snicker as he watched Dudley scribble numbers on the board and erase them.
Dudley began to get frustrated and embarrassed as he stood at the board and wrote gibberish numbers. He obviously didn't know what he was doing but that horrible teacher wouldn't let him go sit down until he had finished the problem, and that idiot Gregory kept laughing at him! Ms. Hallowell tried to shush Greg as his snickers grew into all out laughter, but finally it was too much for Dudley to take.
"SHUT UP!" he screamed at the other boy.
"It's not my fault that you're too stupid to know what eighty-one divided by 9 is!" Greg said with a chuckle
"Gregory, that's enough." Ms. Hallowell said a stern voice that she hardly ever used with her students.
"Sorry, Ms. Hallowell." Greg said before shooting a smirk at Dudley when she turned her back. Dudley didn't have a chance to retaliate as Ms. Hallowell continued to help him with the problem. Once he finally figured out the answer she allowed him to go back to his seat. He would teach Greg and Potter a lesson at recess, he thought with an evil grin.
Harry felt the hairs on his arms stand up as he walked down the hall towards the cafeteria. He could sense that there was someone behind him, and unconsciously began to walk a little bit faster as he subtly turned and glanced around. In the nearly deserted hallway it was easy for him to spot two members of Dudley's gang maintaining a short distance behind him. He quickened his steps further, knowing that something must be going on. If he could just make it to the cafeteria he would be safe, but Dudley's goons must have realized what he was up to because they started running after him. Harry knew that he wouldn't make it to the cafeteria in time so he made a sharp left and went down the only hall in between him and the cafeteria, a hallway he knew would lead him outside.
Harry's heart was pounding in his ears as he raced down the hall and through the door, but he realized too late that he had been tricked into going this way. He was now almost completely surrounded as Dudley stepped out in front of him and the rest of his gang came through the door behind Harry. He forced himself to calm down and look at his surroundings for a route of escape. Figuring there was only one way out of this he quickly ran towards Dudley and the equipment room that was the only thing that was still between them. Dudley also began running forward, and it took Harry a minute to realize that his cousin didn't plan on stopping. He planned to tackle Harry when he reached him.
As they got closer to each other Harry realized that Dudley would reach the equipment room before he did. Reassessing the situation he knew that there would only be one thing between him and his cousin once Dudley passed the equipment room. It wouldn't protect him for long but at least Dudley wouldn't be able to tackle him. When he was close enough to it Harry didn't pause. He took a running leap towards the industrial sized trashcan. As he flew through the air he found himself wishing with all his might that he was somewhere safe, where Dudley's gang couldn't touch him. Harry felt an unexpected jolt and the shouts and laughs of Dudley and his gang was suddenly cut off.
He felt himself hit the ground and rolled his body into a tight ball guessing that he had missed the trashcan and that Dudley would be on him at any second. After staying that way for a few seconds longer it occurred to Harry that he could no longer hear anyone around him. He slowly opened his eyes and was shocked by what he saw. A sudden wave of relief washed over him; somehow he had managed to escape Dudley and his gang and now stood on the roof of his school! Walking over to the edge of the roof he looked down to see Dudley and his friends looking around in the trashcan for him, seemingly confused by his sudden disappearing act. As he looked down at his cousin nearly two stories below him he felt the relief drain out of him, to be replaced by dread as he remembered uncle Vernon's warnings. He told Harry that if he did anything weird at school he would be sent straight to an orphanage. While Harry didn't like his family and often wished he could get away from them the thought of being sent to live somewhere worse than Private Drive absolutely terrified him.
With that feeling of dread building inside him Harry slowly made his way over to the door he thought lead back down to the school. What am I going to do! Harry thought as he walked, Uncle Vernon is going to go ballistic when he finds out about this! His thoughts swirled around like this for the rest of his recess period. He knew he wasn't going to be able to eat anything so he bypassed the crowded cafeteria for the now empty hallways. He was so lost in his thoughts that he didn't realize he was walking towards voices until he was about to round the corner and heard Dudley. Harry's mind immediately went into hyper drive. How did they find me! He wondered, I've got to get out of here. He was just about to start running again when Dudley's next words made him pause. Harry tiptoed to the corner and peaked around to confirm his suspicions, and there was Greg Callahan standing in front of Dudley and his group.
"Not so tough now are you Callahan?" Dudley taunted as his gang laughed menacingly behind him.
"I'm not the one who needs a bunch of other guys standing behind me to feel tough." Greg shot back.
"I don't need anyone to fight with me." Dudley said angrily.
"Sure you don't," Greg said with all the sarcasm a nine-year-old could manage, "If we fought right here, right now, all of them would jump in as soon as I started to whip your butt!"
"Fine, I'll prove it," Dudley turned to his friends and said, "No matter what happens don't jump in." Without warning he turned around and hit Greg in the face. Greg was thrown off balance by the unexpected move, but quickly regained his footing and punched Dudley in the jaw before hitting him in the gut. Dudley, who wasn't used to having people hit back, immediately doubled over in pain and curled up on the floor with tears in his eyes. Greg thought the fight was over and began to walk away. Dudley used this to his advantage as he got up and tackled Greg from behind. Dudley used his weight to hold Greg down while he hit him around the head.
Harry was just about to jump in and try to help Greg when he heard footsteps behind him. He wheeled around to see Ms. Hallowell walking towards him.
"Harry, there you are." She said as she walked towards him with a slightly worried look on her face. Her eyes darted around the hall as she walked towards him, before settling on his face. "What's wrong? What happened?" she asked as she saw how his pale face was. He opened his mouth to answer but no sound came out. That was when she heard the startled voices and retreating footsteps coming from around the corner, shooting Harry one last look she went to go investigate. She let out a shocked gasp as she walked around the corner and saw Greg Callahan on the floor bleeding. She raced over to check his injuries with Harry following behind her.
"Gregory?" she asked as the boy sat up. She could see that he had a black eye and a busted lip but he seemed to be fine otherwise.
"I'm alright." he said wincing.
"Do you think you can walk?" she asked ignoring what he had just said.
"Yes, I'm fine." He assured her once again as he stood up.
"Come on, both of you, I am bringing you to the nurse's office." She said as she led them both towards the main office. Greg looked at Harry; he hadn't noticed he was there before. When they arrived, the nurse forced Greg to sit with an ice pack on his eye as she checked for further injuries. After she was sure that he was alright, Ms. Hallowell led them both to the principal's office. Their principal, Mr. Smith, was a balding little man, who only seemed to own one ill-fitting suit, which he wore on a regular basis, and didn't seem to like children at all. Harry could never understand why a man who hated children would chose to work at a school, but he had never had the courage to call him on it. Mr. Smith actually seemed to enjoy punishing his students.
When they entered the office Mr. Smith told them to sit down and stared at them with his beady black eyes. Ms. Hallowell just stood in the back of the room by the door. She didn't like the way Mr. Smith treated the children either, or the way he blatant stared at her whenever she walked into a room. She had half a mind to…but no, if she did that there would be trouble and she couldn't leave this place. Not yet.
"So you two were fighting?" He asked "You know what the punishment for that is don't you?" He continued, not waiting for an answer.
"No sir-" Harry tried to explain but was cut off by the principal.
"Are you being smart with me boy?" Mr. Smith demanded as he glared at a shocked Harry, "Because I could always just have you expelled-" his voice suddenly cut out, but his lips were still moving. It was a very odd site.
"I think Harry was just trying to tell you that he wasn't the one fighting," Ms. Hallowell said disdainfully, apparently not noticing Mr. Smith's current state. He tried to say something but his voice still wouldn't come. There was slight look of panic in his eyes, and Harry was about to suggest they get the nurse when his voice came back just as abruptly as it had gone. Mr. Smith coughed once and rubbed his throat.
"Alright…well…" he said clearing his voice before getting back to what they had been talking about and pretending nothing had happened, "If Potter didn't fight then why is he here?" he asked, distractedly.
Harry barely heard the question as he thought about what he had just seen, it was like his voice just disappeared, Harry thought. But how does somebody's voice just disappear? He thought confused. He could see Greg was thinking about it as well.
"Harry saw what happened." Ms. Hallowell said calmly. Harry definitely heard that, as his head turned quickly to look at his teacher. He didn't know what to do, Greg had saw who hit him so he couldn't lie, but he also couldn't tell on Dudley.
"Dudley Dursley and his gang cornered me and we fought." Greg said as he looked up at the principal. Mr. Smith picked up his phone and told his secretary to get the Dursley boy in his office right now. The room fell into silence as they waited for Dudley to come. Harry was still trying to figure out how to get out of this without getting in more trouble with his family then he would already be in when he got home.
They all turned around when the door opened and Dudley came in. He also had a busted lip and walked with a slight limp. Harry caught Ms. Hallowell's eye and she saw the panicked look on his face. She hadn't realized that Dudley Dursley was the boy who had beaten Greg up. She knew that whatever happened next would not be pleasant for Harry.
Dudley glared at Greg but was surprised to see Harry sitting in the office as well.
"So Dursley, you thought you could fight with another student and you wouldn't get caught?" Mr. Smith yelled. Dudley flinched and looked up at Mr. Smith with the same innocent look he always gave his parents.
"No sir, I didn't beat him up he started hitting me!" Dudley said, as if he couldn't believe they thought he had started the fight.
"Then why did you run away when Ms. Hallowell came?" Greg asked angrily. Dudley didn't have an answer for that.
"Well why don't we just ask Potter what happened, since it seems he saw the whole thing!" Mr. Smith said as all eyes turned toward Harry. Dudley gave him a superior smirk, knowing that if Harry went against his story then he would be the one to get in trouble when they got home. Greg also looked at Harry, he knew that Dudley always picked on him so he would have no reason to try and protect his cousin. Everyone sat expectantly waiting for Harry to say something.
Harry still didn't know what to do; he knew he was going to be in trouble when he got home anyway, this would just decide how much trouble he would be in. The silence grew as Harry considered his options again, he could try lying but Greg knew that Dudley had been the one that hit him and Ms. Hallowell had seen him standing there, there was no way out of this without calling someone a liar. Harry felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up to see Ms. Hallowell kneeling next to his chair, and looking at him. He knew he wouldn't be able to lie to her while she looked him right in the eyes.
"Harry, just tell us what happened," she said in a soothing voice.
"Dudley threw the first punch," Harry said quietly as he looked down at his lap, knowing that he would regret this later. "But Greg hit him back twice, Dudley fell down and Greg started to walk away so Dudley got up and tackled him to the ground, sat on him, and started hitting him on the head. That was when you came and Dudley ran away." Harry said this all very quickly, hoping it wouldn't be so bad if he got it all out as quick as he could. When Harry looked back up Ms. Hallowell gave him a reassuring smile that usually helped, but didn't this time. He didn't dare look at anyone else in the room.
"He's lying," Dudley yelled furiously looking up at the principal to see if he had believed Harry's story. "He always lies about everything just to get me in trouble."
"He is not lying," Ms. Hallowell said as she pulled her gaze away from Harry and glared at Dudley.
"I think it is about time that I called your parents Dursley." Mr. Smith said as he picked up the phone and told his secretary to get him Dudley's parents on the phone. "You are in big trouble." He said menacingly.
"Potter is gonna to be in trouble when we get home." Dudley muttered under his breath too low for the principal to hear it, but Ms. Hallowell and Harry did. Ms. Hallowell sent another glare at Dudley, and was about to say something to him when his words really sunk in. She looked back at Harry and saw how pale he had become. Harry is going to get in trouble when they go home? She thought it made perfect sense. That is why he never wants me to give Dudley detention or call home, when they get home Harry is the one who always gets in trouble! Everything started to click. Looking at Harry she saw real fear in his usually bright green eyes and knew. It is definitely need to meet the Durleys, she thought angrily.
Welcome to St. Peters
The Dursleys and the Callahan's were told to come in for an emergency parent conference at the end of the school day. Dudley and Greg were sent to the detention room, and were going to stay there until their parents came at two o'clock. Mr. Smith would have forced Harry to stay in there too, but when Ms. Hallowell protested Harry was allowed to go back to class for the rest of the day. Together they walked out of the office in silence. It was nearly lunch and Ms. Hallowell already had someone covering her class until the assembly.
As they walked down the hall Ms. Hallowell tried to restrain herself from asking questions until Harry had time to sort through all his thoughts. She knew that what he'd done had been difficult for him. After a minute or two she stopped walking and turned to Harry, who looked up at her with a slightly guarded expression.
"Would you like to go to lunch?" she asked suddenly, looking down at him "I already have someone bringing the class to the assembly. We can go get something to eat…and talk." she said the last part pointedly.
"Sure," Harry said, relieved that he wouldn't have to go back to class yet, and also realizing how hungry he was. "But I left my lunch box in the class room. I could just slip in and get it…" He said hesitantly. As much as he didn't want to answer Ms. Hallowell's question, he was even more reluctant to answer any questions from his classmates.
"Well I'm going to get something for you too, Harry." she said giving him an odd look. He didn't really think I wouldn't buy him food, did he? Maybe the Dursleys never bought him anything when they bought Dudley food. Or maybe…no. she thought firmly, I'll just wait and ask him later. Speculating about it will just get make me angry and nothing good will come from that.
They changed their course and started walking towards the double doors that led out of the school to the parking lot. Harry paused when they reached them. He wasn't supposed to go off school grounds.
"It's okay," Ms. Hallowell said as she noticed him hesitate and guessed what he was thinking, "You are allowed to go off campus if you're with a teacher." She said, "Trust me," she added when she saw him still looking unsure. He walked out of the school without a word or a glance back. If there was one person in his life that he trusted, it was Ms. Hallowell. She quickly led him to her car, which was a very sleek black Lexus. He couldn't believe that teachers at Rex Bell elementary made enough money to buy cars like this, and judging by the rest of the cars in the parking lot they obviously didn't. Harry looked at her questioningly for a moment, but she didn't offer an explanation, so he got in without saying a word.
As they drove out of the parking lot Ms. Hallowell turned on the radio and they both sat in a comfortable silence. Harry stared out the window still wondering what he would say when the questions started, he knew that he wouldn't be able to lie but maybe he could just tell half truths? No, that wouldn't work, but did it really matter anyway? If Uncle Vernon really did what he was threatening to do then it didn't matter what he told her…
"Harry?" Ms. Hallowell said, snapping him out of his thought and breaking the silence. Seeing that he still wasn't really ready to talk she decided to wait until they got to wherever they were going before she asked any difficult questions. "Where should we get the food from?" she asked instead
"Um, McDonalds?" Harry said looking up at her shyly. He wasn't used to people asking him what he wanted. This was a completely new experience for him; the Dursleys had never taken him with them to a restaurant or bought him anything.
"Are you sure?" Ms. Hallowell asked, "We can go anywhere you want." she said as they drove on.
"Yeah, I've always wanted to try it." Harry said it as if it were some big treat.
"You've never had McDonalds?" Ms. Hallowell asked incredulously. Harry immediately regretted saying anything, and looked away without replying. Ms. Hallowell knew not to push him on it and just kept driving as they lapsed back into silence.
They soon pulled up to the drive thru and got there food, before going over to a nearby park to eat. They walked over to one of the tables in the picnic area and Harry sat across from Ms. Hallowell. It became apparent that Harry had never had any fast food when he started eating. Ms. Hallowell had to laugh when she saw the look on his face when he tried his first fry; he practically inhaled the food after that. Ms. Hallowell stared at him for a moment before she started slowly.
"Harry…" she paused to consider her words, "What did Dudley mean when he said you would get in trouble when you get home?" she asked, deciding not to assume anything.
"They'll blame me," Harry said quietly, choosing to stare at a nearby tree rather than look at her, "Whenever Dudley gets in trouble and I'm involved they punish me for it, not him."
"Why do they blame you?" she asked gently.
"I don't know, I guess they think it was my fault…" Harry trailed off, he didn't know why his relatives always thought that it was his fault when Dudley got in trouble or when something weird happened. He didn't mean to be bad.
"You said they punish you…how do they punish you?" she asked slowly
"Usually they'll lock me in my…room without diner or something like that." Harry had almost said cupboard, that wasn't something he wanted to talk about yet.
"Do the Dursleys ever hit you or hurt you physically?" Ms. Hallowell asked cautiously trying to keep her voice level. The answer to this question would decide if she would do something stupid like taking Harry from those people right now or waiting to go through the proper channels first, but if they had hurt him she would - She stopped that train of thought there, and took a calming breath. That wouldn't help anyone.
"They don't hurt me, I mean Dudley does all the time but my aunt and uncle don't." Harry had seen the flash in Ms. Hallowell eyes and felt the warmth that always seemed to radiate from her grow hotter. He knew that it wouldn't be a good idea to tell her about the few times that his uncle had hit him. He had never seen Ms. Hallowell get really angry before and after seeing that look in her eyes he knew that he never wanted to.
"Ok." Ms. Hallowell said as she calmed herself down, she wouldn't do anything stupid but she was definitely going to get Harry away from those people as soon as possible. They sat in silence for a few minutes both thinking about what would happen next and preparing themselves for when they would meet with the Dursleys after school. After several more minutes of silence Ms. Hallowell told Harry that it was time for them to get back to the school. Lunch would be over soon and they both had to be there for the assembly.
As they got closer to the school Harry realized that this may be last time he ever got to really talk to Ms. Hallowell, especially if the Dursleys were really going to send him to an orphanage.
"Thank you." He said abruptly as they parked in the school parking lot.
"For what?" she asked
"For everything," Harry said quietly, "For being nice to me." Harry's eyes shone with tears as he looked up at her
"Harry you don't have to thank me…" she said softly as she pulled him into a hug, "One day, things are going to be very different for you." Harry wasn't sure what to do; the Dursleys had never hugged him, not even when he was a small child. For a few moments Harry was able to forget about the trouble that was coming and for once in his life felt safe and protected. They stayed that way until the bell that signaled the end of lunch rang, and they both had to get going. As they broke apart, Harry felt the dread return in full force as remembered everything that had and probably would happen. He was distracted for the rest of the day, and all too soon the final bell rang and the rest of the school filed out of the building as he and Ms. Hallowell made their way to the office. Harry could sense that one way or another change was coming.
The Dursleys arrived ten minutes after Harry and Ms. Hallowell and found them sitting in the waiting room. Harry looked startled when he saw his uncle and jumped to his feet as if he had been shocked.
"Boy, what have you done this time?" Vernon demanded as he took a menacing step towards Harry, who had reflexively taken a step back. Ms. Hallowell quickly stood and put a hand on his shoulder, she wasn't going to let these people touch him, or intimidate him.
"Mr. Dursley," she said sharply. Vernon hesitated as if he hadn't realized she was there, "I'm Evangeline Hallowell, Harry's teacher. As Mr. Smith told you, you are here because Dudley got into a fight."
Vernon didn't get a chance to reply since the principal's door opened at that moment and Mr. and Mrs. Callahan walked out with Greg. The Callahan's completely ignored the Dursleys on their way out but Greg nodded at Harry and Mrs. Hallowell as he walked past. Mr. Smith then came to the door and asked them all to come in. Vernon and Petunia both put on fake smiles and went to shake hands with Mr. Smith. Just before he walked into the principal's office Vernon sent Harry a look that said 'I'll deal with you later'.
Harry and Ms. Hallowell quickly followed the Dursleys into the room. Petunia and Vernon were seated on either side of Dudley and Ms. Hallowell and Harry sat in the two chairs that were on Vernon's other side. Once everyone was settled Mr. Smith began.
"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, I have called you here because your son was found fighting with another student in the hallway. The other boy told us that Dudley started the fight, Su-"
"Did anyone else see Dudley fighting, or are you just going on the word of the other boy?" Vernon asked, loudly speaking over Mr. Smith.
"Actually, your nephew saw the fight too," Mr. Smith said with a smirk "He told us that Dudley started the fight as well."
"He's lying dad," Dudley whined, "Potter and Callahan just want to get me in trouble." Petunia bought every word of it and wrapped her arms around Dudley, saying everything would be ok. Something she had never done for Harry. Vernon just sent another glare at Harry, who shrunk down in his seat.
"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley I can assure you that Harry was telling the truth." Ms. Hallowell said as she saw their reactions.
"That boy is a compulsive liar!" Vernon said, pointing a chubby finger at Harry. Ms. Hallowell opened her mouth to reply but Mr. Smith beat her to it.
"Even if that it is true, Dudley and Greg Callahan still got into a fight on school grounds." Mr. Smith raised his voice when he saw Vernon was about to interrupt again "That means they are both suspended for the rest of the week." The Dursleys tried to protest but Mr. Smith just said that the punishment was non-negotiable and told them that Dudley could come back to school next Tuesday. The Dursleys left quickly after that, telling Harry that if he didn't keep up he would be left behind. Harry knew that they were serious, but he still stopped to say goodbye to Ms. Hallowell before racing after them. He got to the car just in time.
Vernon yelled at him the whole drive home, while Dudley snickered from the seat next to him. When they finally arrived at Number 4 Private Drive his uncle quickly got out of the car and yanked open Harry's door, pulling by the arm into the house. Harry was barely able to keep his feet under him as Vernon pulled him along. Once everyone was inside and the door was closed Vernon started yelling at the top of his lungs, telling Harry how useless he was and that he wasn't going to be let out of his cupboard for a week! Dudley waited until his father had gotten himself more worked up than Harry had ever seen him before he interrupted.
"Dad," Dudley said giving Harry a vengeful look.
"What?" his father demanded, not appreciating the interruption.
"Today at recess, me and my friends were chasin' him," Dudley said it as if they had been including him in some fun game, "And he jumped into this trash can and when we looked inside he had disappeared!" Dudley exclaimed. Harry watched petrified, as his Uncle slowly turned toward him with fury in his eyes.
"You…you…" Vernon seemed at a loss for words as he quickly moved towards Harry who now had his back flat against the wall. Vernon seemed to decide that words wouldn't be enough, and raised his fist. Harry tried to make himself as small as possible as he put his arms up to try and protect himself from the blow he knew was coming. With his face turned towards the wall Harry didn't see what happened next. Vernon's fist swung down towards Harry and seemed to hit an invisible force field that knocked him clear across the room where he landed on his back, dazed.
"VERNON!" Petunia screamed as she and Dudley ran to his side. Harry stood up shakily and looked down at himself before looking up at his relatives, he wasn't sure what had happened but he knew that he was somehow responsible.
"I…I didn't mean to…" Harry said in a voice that was almost a whisper.
"That is it!" Vernon yelled as he got to his feet "You are out of here!"
"But Vernon," Petunia started apprehensively looking back and forth between her husband and nephew.
"No Petunia, the boy is going to the orphanage, where he should have gone to begin with." Vernon said angrily "Go get your things!" Harry ran to his cupboard with fear clearly written across his face. He had no idea what just happened. Despite Vernon's temper he almost never hit Harry, and the few times he did he had never been thrown across the room before. He could hear his aunt and uncle arguing in the living room but the words weren't getting through to him. His mind was in a sort of numbed shock as he slowly emptied all of his school books out of his backpack and began to put his few possessions inside. Just the thought of being sent to live in an orphanage had always sent him into a slight panic, but now that it was actually happening Harry was surprised to find his mind had gone entirely blank. When he heard a sharp knocking at the front door he responded to it without thinking, as though his uncle had once again yelled at him to answer it.
He didn't notice that his aunt and uncle had stopped arguing until he had his hand on the door handle and heard them both walk out into the hallway behind him. He opened the door before they could say anything and he heard them both let out a sigh of relief when they saw it was simply one of their neighbors from down the street, as though they had expected someone else.
Mr. Herbert stared down at Harry for a moment before addressing his aunt and uncle, "Sorry to bother you. Have any of you seen my cat, Rudy, around?" he asked in a friendly tone.
"No, we haven't." Vernon answered for all of them, not trying to hide his bad mode. This wasn't the first time Mr. Herbert had come around looking for his cat, and the man always seemed to have the worst timing. Without waiting for the man to reply Vernon marched forward and slammed the door in face.
Harry could hear him muttering under his breath as he turned back around and stomped past his wife. Petunia quickly followed her husband and Harry was once again left in the hallway by himself. It only took him twenty minutes to have everything he owned packed and ready to go. It took Vernon another two hours before the pain in his back eased enough for him to drive Harry to St. Peters orphanage in London. When they got there Vernon went to the receptionist and told her why he was there, and a few minutes later a stern looking woman in her mid 40's came out to greet them. Harry didn't remember her name but he heard her say that she ran the orphanage. After that she asked Harry to wait in the reception area while she and Vernon went to talk, and after two hours Harry could hear raised voices coming from the office, but he didn't pay attention, he was too preoccupied with his own thoughts. Harry didn't know how to feel, after everything his relatives had put him through over the years he was kind of relieved that it was over now. He would never have to go back to the Dursley's again, but that relief was washed away by the overwhelming fear that now he had to face something potentially worse.
Harry woke up the next morning in a bed that wasn't his own, and couldn't remember how he came to be there. He looked around the room but it gave him no indication of where he might be. The hard pad he was laying (it couldn't really be counted as a bed) looked like something out of the school nurses office. There was a small window, but no other furniture or decorations in the room. Harry focused on trying to remember how he had gotten here but he drew a blank, so he tried to recall the last thing he remembered from yesterday, and with a sudden rush everything came back to him. School, Dudley and his gang had been chasing him and he somehow wound up on the school roof, Dudley's fight with Greg, lunch with Ms. Hallowell, the meeting with the Dursleys in the principal's office, Uncle Vernon trying to hit him and finally being sent to the orphanage…that's where I must be now, Harry thought as he looked around again. He slowly sat up in bed and saw that he still wore his clothes from yesterday, but his shoes were on the floor beside the pad-bed.
He stood up, went over to the window and saw a bunch of younger children running around and playing. It wasn't bad so far, but Harry was still felt anxious as he put on his shoes and walked out of the room. A buzzer went off when he opened his door and an older woman came out from the office across the hall and introduced herself.
"Hello, Harry, I'm Mrs. Sanders. Welcome to St. Peters orphanage. How are you feeling?" she asked. Mrs. Sanders was middle aged with dark brown eyes and shoulder length hair. She was the women Uncle Vernon had spoken to the day before, Harry remembered. He simply shrugged in reply to her question; he honestly didn't know how he should be feeling right now.
"Your uncle left you in the care of St. Peters Orphanage last night, so you will be staying here until we can find you another guardian." Mrs. Sander said a kind but firm tone. That was the impression that Harry got from her, kind but strict, which he was okay with.
"I'll give you a quick tour, and then you can go to the mess hall and have breakfast with the others." Mrs. Sanders said giving him an appraising look. Harry knew that he had been ought to say something.
"That sounds great," there wasn't much enthusiasm in his voice, but Mrs. Sanders didn't question it. After all, he had just been willingly left at an orphanage by his only relatives.
She led Harry through the building pointing out the recreation room that had a pool table, an ancient looking TV and a dart board and a bunch of couches, this seemed like the place where all the older kids hung out.
"The boy's rooms are on the first floor the girls rooms are on the second. If you are visiting a girl in her room the door stays open the whole time, the same goes for girls visiting you, boys aren't allowed on the girl's floor after 8:00." She said all of this in a stern tone that just reinforced Harry's first impression of her. She then showed him the cafeteria and told him that everyone took turns on cafeteria duty. There were a few kids mostly in school uniforms still having breakfast. Mrs. Sanders pointed everything out.
"The hot food is served in that line," she said pointing to where kids were moving with trays and being served by other kids "The cereal and juice is over there," she said pointing to a table near the end of the line "You can help yourself to whatever you want."
"Cool." Harry said, once again feeling the lull in conversation. It didn't feel 'cool' though, and a room full of strange noisy kids was intimidating.
"Once you've had something to eat come see me in my office." She said as she left. Harry just stood there for a minute and looked around at the other kids wondering what life would be like from now on. He grabbed one of the trays and a bowl and got some cereal for breakfast. It was strange not having to serve others. He sat alone as he ate, just like he had done at his old school. The thought of school reminded him of Ms. Hallowell, what would she think when he didn't show up for school today? Would she even notice? And what would she do when she found out that Harry had been sent to an orphanage? What could she do? Harry was filled with sadness when he fully realized that he would never see Ms. Hallowell again. This was going to be his home from now on.
After he had eaten breakfast Mrs. Sanders brought him upstairs to see his new room. It wasn't very big, but after spending most of his life in a cupboard he wasn't about to complain. There were two beds so Harry guessed that he would have a roommate. There was a dresser beside both beds with a lamp on top. There was a wardrobe and a small TV in the corner. There was also a single window facing the playground on the side of the orphanage, but the branches of a huge tree stood directly outside blocking most the outside world from view. There were also a few things littered around the room that Harry assumed belonged to his new roommate; clothes, magazines, papers and even a game system.
"This is where you'll be staying," Mrs. Sanders said from the doorway as Harry walked around the room. "Your roommates name is Stanly Wayne, if you have any trouble come find me or one of the counselors." She said before leaving.
Harry walked over to his new bed and sat down; maybe this won't be so bad, Harry thought as he looked around once more. He grabbed the bag of clothes that he'd brought with him and slipped it under his bed without unpacking anything, there would be time for that later, he thought as he lay down on his bed and stared up at the ceiling. At least he would no longer have to worry about hitting his head in the morning.
Harry looked up as the door burst open and a tall boy around his age with blond hair came running in holding something in his arms that Harry couldn't quite see. He quickly tried to shut the door but before he could close it all the way an older boy came and ripped it open again. What is going on? Harry thought as he sat up on his bed and looked at the two boys. The blond boy started to back away from the older boy, but the older boy caught him and hit him a few times in the stomach.
"Here, take it!" The blond boy cried as the older one ripped what looked like a book from his hands.
"Touch my stuff again, and I'll smash your face in," the older boy said hitting the blond again before walking out of the room without a glance at Harry. The blonde boy was still sitting on the floor where he had fallen when the older boy had hit him. Harry wasn't sure what to do.
"Are you alright?" He asked the boy, his head immediately shot up to look at Harry; it seemed he hadn't even noticed that Harry was there.
"I'm fine," the boy said trying to act tough but wincing as he stood, "You must be my new roommate. I'm Stan." he said as he walked over to his bed and sat down.
"Harry. What was that about?" he asked
"Payback. He was reading romance novels." Stan said with a chuckle. "I may have shown it to some of his friends." he rubbed one of the bruise that was starting to form. Harry and Stan talked for a while which was a fairly new experience for Harry. It hadn't occurred to him that the kids here wouldn't automatically hate him, but it was a nice change. Stan challenged Harry to one of the shooting games on his Nintendo and they played until lunch, Stan had beat Harry five to two, but Harry still felt he had done good considering the fact that he had never been allowed to play video games.
At lunchtime they only stopped into the cafeteria pick up sandwiches and then left. When Harry asked where they were going Stan told him that they were going on another tour.
"But Mrs. Sanders already gave me a tour." Harry said as he trailed behind Stan.
"Mrs. Sanders showed you the basics," Stan explained, "I'm going to show you everything else. Come on."
Harry followed obediently, Stan had been at the orphanage for the past two years so he knew all the tricks, all the doors that were supposed to be locked but weren't, where the best places to hide were and most importantly who to avoid. By the time they were done Harry felt that he knew the place well.
That night as he lay down to go to sleep and wished Stan goodnight he felt that he could really get used to being here. Harry thought about the Dursleys and how they had treated him and realized that he had never really had a home there, this was a home. His home.
Harry soon drifted off to sleep, feeling better than he had in a very long time.
Despite his good mood Harry tossed and turned all night. He woke up around midnight for seemingly no reason at all, and he couldn't go back to sleep so he got out of bed and walked over to the window to get some fresh air. As Harry stood there with the window open for a few minutes some movements caught his eye. Branches blocked his view of the ground so he almost missed it, at first he thought it was just some of the other kids sneaking in after curfew, but another glimpse of the moving figures told him that they weren't kids. Harry had to adjust his view, but he did manage to get a better look at them he felt his blood run cold with unexplained terror. He saw the six people wearing black robes and ghoulish masks making their way toward the doors of the orphanage.
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