Chapter 4 – Beginning of the End

Disclaimer: Rowling owns everything you recognise from Harry Potter; I own Tim and his family. It's not fair.

About the lateness of this chapter: As most of you know (hopefully) my laptop decided to erase the entire of chapter four just as I was about to finish and upload it…Gah! Evil computer.

When Harry was told he was to start school he was very excited. He didn't know anything about this place but anything that got him away from the Dursleys for five days of the week must be good. The first day of school started like any other for Harry, with Aunt Petunia banging on the door of his cupboard and screeching for him to get up. After a meagre breakfast Harry returned to his cupboard to get dressed, while Dudley was still eating his much bigger breakfast. Finally Dudley was dressed and they began walking down the road to get to the car. Aunt Petunia was grumbling about the road works that forced her to park down the street. Harry was walking a little behind Aunt Petunia and Dudley. He noticed a bald man wearing a very long purple coat walking in the opposite direction. As Harry walked past the man he suddenly stopped and grabbed Harry's hand. He then proceeded to shake it furiously then walk away without a word. Very confused, Harry ran to catch up with Aunt Petunia. Looking across at Dudley Harry saw that he had seen the whole thing. Dudley opened his mouth, and then closed it deciding not to say anything for once. Harry sighed with relief. I bet if he had told them I would have been punished. Harry thought. He paused, is that right? Shaking his head to clear it of these thoughts Harry continued to the car. Climbing into the car, Harry managed to avoid Dudley's kicking legs for once and settled into his seat. Harry pulled his own seatbelt across, unlike Dudley, whose every wish was granted immediately, he had to learn to everything by himself pretty quickly.

When they got to school, Harry jumped out of the car and walked ahead of the Dursleys, they didn't care. Entering the room Harry felt slightly intimidated, as it was full of children and their parents. Looking behind him he saw Aunt Petunia had picked up Dudley and was refusing to put him down, even though he was squirming. As she put it when the teacher came over,

"I don't want my baby Duddy to be without me", baby Duddy was about twice the size of the other kids. Harry laughed to himself and wandered off into the middle of the other kids. He had decided to listen to them before talking to them. As Harry turned into a row of desks he say a boy knock a glass of water onto his mother's handbag. He stopped horrified as the boy's mother turned to face him.

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry mummy. Please don't be mad at me." Harry winced, in his experience Pleading only made it worse

"Calm down Tim, it was an accident. It wasn't your fault." The woman soon had Tim calmed down. Harry just stared open mouthed. If he had done that at home whether it was an accident or not he would have been punished. After Tim's mother had gone to talk to the teacher Harry approached him.

"Does that always happen?" He asked timidly. Tim reddened slightly when he realised Harry had seen the whole thing.

"Er…Yeah."

"Even if you did it on purpose?" Tim thought for a minute.

"Well if I did it on purpose mum would tell me off and make me apologise. Why doesn't yours?"

"Um…Of course. I gotta go. Bye." Harry hurried off, leaving a very confused Tim behind. As he wandered through the rest of the children he was thinking about what had just happened. Why had Tim been treated that way? Was it possible that the Dursleys treated him wrongly?

No, Tim must just be special.

"Alright children, gather round, gather round." The children formed a half circle around Mrs Jones. Harry stayed at the back this teacher was too cheery. He wasn't sure how to act around an adult who didn't yell or ignore him.

"Today I just want you to show me how well you can all paint." Everyone was given a seat at a table with paper, paints and water, Harry found himself next to Tim. The two boys soon began talking.

"Hi, I'm Tim Kingstone. We met earlier."
"Yeah, I'm Harry Potter." He had once called himself Harry Dursley and was swiftly corrected.

"I have a cat called Snowbell, my favourite colour is green and my parents are the best in the world." Tim said all in one breath, and then waited for Harry to speak.

"I don't have any pets. My favourite colour is red. And my parents are dead." Harry said more slowly. Tim looked startled at Harry's last comment.

"It's okay, I never knew them. They died in a car crash when I was one. I live with my Aunt and Uncle now. I'm Dudley's cousin." Tim nodded sympathetically and the boys continued talking for some time. Dudley had been watching Harry. Unlike Harry he hadn't managed to make any instant friends. Dudley couldn't stand seeing Harry happy. On his way to get more paper, Dudley 'accidentally' knocked into Harry, causing him to fly into the table, causing the water pot to spill all over Tim's work. Tim promptly burst into tears. Having achieved his desired effect Dudley backed away. Looking down at the rapidly spreading pool of water, Harry sighed. He had attempted to dodge Dudley but hadn't moved fast enough. Looking up he saw Mrs Jones approaching. Harry's first instinct was to run, but his legs didn't comply with his head. To both Harry and Dudley's surprise Mrs Jones didn't go to Harry. Instead she went to Dudley.

"Dudley I want you to apologise to Tim and Harry." Both Harry and Dudley stared at her like she was crazy. Dudley recovered first.

"But Harry spilt the water." He whined.

"Yes, but you deliberately pushed him which made him spill the water. It is your fault Dudley. Now please apologise."

"No!" Mrs Jones sighed.

"Then you will have a time out. Follow me." Dudley was so stunned he followed without argument. At home if he said no to anything he didn't have to do it. After putting Dudley on the time out chair and telling him to stay there for five minutes, Mrs Jones returned and attempted to calm down Tim. This took several minutes until she pointed out that now he could start a new picture and paint it even better. Throughout all of this Harry had been silent, staring at his hands.

"Harry?" She asked gently, putting a hand on his shoulder. He flinched. She wondered why but dismissed it.

"Harry are you okay? It really wasn't your fault you know."

"I know." His voice was a lot smaller and timid than she expected.

"Are you going to continue painting?" Harry nodded and turned back to his work, not noticing the troubled glances Mrs Jones sent him.

Why did he flinch? Maybe Dudley bullies him? Yes that would make sense. But why did he look so shocked when I told Dudley off? Why did Dudley look so shocked? Why is he so quiet? These questions kept running round and round her mind. Eventually she came to the decision that Harry had done something quite bad at home and was still feeling the after effects of being punished. If she had only investigated further Harry could have been spared years of pain.

In the car on the way home Dudley was unusually quiet. Harry was uneasy, whenever Dudley was this quiet he was always plotting something against Harry. Harry spent the entire car journey tense, waiting for Dudley to say something. Halfway home a smile spread across Dudley's face and Harry knew he had thought of something. He prepared himself for whatever Dudley was going to say, but to Harry's surprise Dudley kept quiet until they got home. Harry almost reached the front door when he heard Dudley.

"Muuum. Harry got me in trouble!" Harry turned around and saw Dudley walking towards him with Aunt Petunia. He decided he might as well attempt to defend himself. He got as far as,
"Aunt Petunia, that's not true the teacher…" Before,

SMACK!

"Quiet boy!" Aunt Petunia growled. Turning back to Dudley she continued in a much gentler tone,

"What happened Dudley?" Rubbing his stinging cheek, Harry resigned himself to his fate.

"I was walking past Harry and accidentally knocked into him. Harry spilt water on another boys painting. He then told the teacher that I had done it on purpose and got me told off." Dudley had already perfected the art of fake tears and his eyes were full of them as he finished. As Aunt Petunia span around Harry flinched, he knew what was going to happen.

"How dare you!" SMACK "Get Dudley!" SMACK "Into trouble!" SMACK, SMACK, SMACK. Dudley smirked.

Harry was immensely grateful when he was thrown onto the old mattress in his cupboard. Usually he hated the place, but now it was a safe place away from the Dursleys. He hoped the red marks had faded by school tomorrow, he shivered as he remembered what Uncle Vernon had told him would happen if anyone ever saw the marks.

It was after a particularly harsh beating. Harry had thrown Dudley's teddy out the window in a fit of rage. He didn't know why he had done it, and regretted it instantly. Afterwards he was trembling and wanted to just curl up and cry in his cupboard. He looked up and saw his Uncle staring down at him with a sneer. No please, no more, Harry cried silently.
"You listen to me boy and you listen good." Somehow the low voice was even more menacing and terrifying than when he shouted.

"If anyone ever sees those marks, then you will wish you hadn't been born." He spat, pointing to the bruises on Harry's arms. Harry nodded frantically and soon found himself in his cupboard. He was too young to understand what would happen if he told anyone, other than the fact he would be beaten harshly, but as he grew older the warning would stay.

The next day his skin was white again, which Harry was immensely glad about. He was starving, he hadn't been given dinner last night. At breakfast Aunt Petunia mostly ignored him, Harry returned the favour. Everything would be all right once he got to school.

Harry looked down at the broken shards of pottery at his feet, mentally cursing himself. Why had he been so clumsy? He hadn't even been at school a week and already he had ruined everything. When Mrs Jones had asked him to get some more pencils from her desk he had jumped at the chance to help her. Mrs Jones' coffee mug had been on top of the corner of the pencil packet. Harry hadn't noticed this. As he picked up the pencils the coffee mug fell to the ground and smashed. At that moment time seemed to slow for Harry. He had desperately reached out a hand to save the cup but hadn't been quick enough. He raised his head and saw Mrs Jones coming towards him. Harry panicked. He quickly scanned the classroom for somewhere to run to. Harry decided that the store cupboard was most like his cupboard at home. He tried to run to it but Mrs Jones was too quick. She caught him before he was even half way there. She held his arm and at the moment Harry didn't see Mrs Jones, he saw Aunt Petunia dragging him off to his cupboard. Harry went limp as he always did so that he could minimise the pain. Mrs Jones stopped surprised. Most young children would try to wiggle out of her grip, but Harry seemed resigned to what would happen.

"Harry?" By this time most other children would be protesting their innocence or saying sorry. Harry knew that doing that didn't work, keeping silent was always the best strategy.

"Harry this wasn't you fault." She had decided this was a guilty silence. When Harry's head whipped up to look at her in shock she thought she was right. Really Harry was wondering why she hadn't started hitting him yet. Seeing he was still silent Mrs Jones pressed the matter.

"Harry this was an accident. You didn't mean to do it so I'm not going to punish you." The surprise in the boy's eyes was overwhelming.

"Okay Mrs Jones." She released him and Harry went back to his drawing. He must have extremely strict parents. She thought sadly. There were a few cases like his. She would just have to make sure she treated him kindly.

By the end of the day Harry had finished his drawing. He was very proud of it. It showed a tall wizard with black hair and green eyes and a lightning bolt shaped scar on his head. Harry thought he looked like he would when he was older. The wizard had a long wand with sparks shooting out of it. Mrs Jones said it was very very good. Harry folded it up and put it in his pocket, for some reason he thought the Dursleys wouldn't approve. In the car Dudley was quite animated, talking about his day and showing off the scribble he called a drawing. Aunt Petunia praised him lavishly for it. Harry began to feel the first stirrings of hate and jealousy. Before he had thought he was treated like that because he was a bad boy. Now he knew it was unfair. Harry was always first out of the car so he could start his chores and hopefully have some dinner. Today Dudley was quicker. Harry wondered what on earth had made Dudley run like that. Dudley was waiting for him on the steps. As Harry walked past him Dudley tripped him up and laughed with glee. At school he would have been told off for this, but at home it was ignored. Aunt Petunia just sneered at Harry as she opened the door.

"Why hello there Dudley, how was school today?" Uncle Vernon was home early. For Dudley this meant being spoilt twice as much. For Harry it meant a much-reduced chance for getting dinner. Harry tried to slip past Uncle Vernon quickly and begin his chores but Dudley's words froze him.

"It was alright dad. Harry broke Mrs Jones' cup though." Uncle Vernon put Dudley down and turned to Harry. Oh no. Harry thought.

"Living room. Now!" Uncle Vernon was mad. Harry quickly ran through the door. Uncle Vernon picked him up and threw him on the sofa.

"You boy are worthless! You are clumsy and stupid. You are a freak, just like your good for nothing mother and father. Neither of them knew a decent days work in their lives!" Uncle Vernon's tirade continued but Harry just stopped listening. Before these words would have hurt him, before he would have believed them. Now they just made him angry. Harry knew now that most things the Dursleys told him were wrong. He had only been at school a week but Mrs Jones' teachings had already made their mark. Uncle Vernon was insulting his parents and Harry was angry. He felt something rising up inside him, as though he was going to burst. SMACK. The feeling disappeared as Harry rubbed his stinging cheek.

"You weren't listening to me boy!" Uncle Vernon was about to begin shouting again, but something had caught his attention. When he had been smacked Harry had slipped to the side slightly, revealing the folded picture in his pocket. Uncle Vernon lunged forward suddenly and Harry instinctively raised his arms to protect himself. When the expected hit didn't come he slowly lowered his arms. Uncle Vernon was looking at his drawing. Harry had to bite back a shout of "That's mine" as Aunt Petunia was called over to look as well. The paper was lowered and Harry flinched back from their gazes. This time when Uncle Vernon lunged his fist did make contact with Harry, and continued to for several minutes. When Uncle Vernon finally back away Harry was struggling to keep his tears back.

"Magic is not real boy. NOT REAL! Say it!" Uncle Vernon shouted.

"M...magic is not...not real." Harry managed to choke out.

"And don't you forget it." That low voice was back again. It terrified Harry.

As he lay on his mattress Harry wondered about what had happened. Why had Uncle Vernon flipped like that? The questions buzzing in his mind without answers, Harry slowly fell asleep.

Harry was at school early as always. Aunt Petunia wanted her son, Dudley, to have the best education possible. Harry always got the distinct feeling that if he wasn't in the car on time Aunt Petunia would leave without him. He sat at his desk brooding on these things. Suddenly Tim burst into the room very excited waving slips of paper in the air.

"Guess what! Guess what! Guess what!!!" Tim shrieked, almost bouncing off the walls.

"What Tim?" Mrs Jones laughed. Tim leapt across the room to stand in front of her desk.

"I'm having a sleepover!" He yelled proudly waving the slips of paper at her.

"Well Tim that sounds like a lot of fun. Why don't you sit down and wait for everyone to appear then you can give them out. Ok?"

"Sure!" Tim bounced away and sat in his seat next to Harry.

"Here Harry you got one." Tim told Harry as he passed over the invitation. Harry stared down in wonder at this small piece of paper.

"Thanks." He said, his throat having gone very dry. Harry had always been told no one wanted him, this piece of paper proved that wrong.

"I got one for Dudley too. I didn't want to but Mum said it would be polite." Tim advised Harry in a very quiet voice, as though this were a very great secret.

"Thanks Tim. Sounds like it's gonna be fun."

"You bet!" As the rest of the class arrived Tim handed out his other five invitations to various other boys he had invited and the class soon got under way once more. Harry couldn't concentrate much that day. He had been invited to stay with someone. Him. Dudley had gone on a few play dates when he was younger but Harry always had to stay home. The Dursleys seemed almost ashamed of him somehow. That thought froze him. What if the Dursleys forbid him to go? After and hour or so of worrying Harry decided to just stop thinking about it until the time came.

As soon as he got in the car Dudley started babbling about the sleepover.

"Harry got an invite too mum, is he coming?" Harry froze; this seemingly innocent comment from anyone else was deadly when coming from Dudley.

"We'll see what your father says Dudley." Dudley then went back to talking about his day while Harry sat brooding in the seat next to him. What Aunt Petunia said hadn't elevated his fears in the least, if anything they had grown. Uncle Vernon was a lot harder to convince than Aunt Petunia.

It was later that night. Harry was in his cupboard and Dudley was in his bed. Harry had been as good as he could be that night to increase his chances of going to the sleepover. He was lying awake unable to sleep until he knew whether or not he was going. At that point Petunia and Vernon passed the door to his cupboard continuing the end of an argument.

"We have to let him go Vernon, otherwise it would look extremely suspicious."

"Couldn't we just say he was ill?"

"No because we'd have to say Dudley was ill too."

"Very well. If there is no alternative." Harry could have jumped for joy. He was going.

As Petunia followed her husband up the stairs she felt happier than she had for a while. Secretly she had always thought that Vernon was to hard on the boy. Although she herself wasn't fond of him, she didn't want him beaten and degraded the way he was. Luckily the boy showed signs of a strong will so she wasn't obliged to step in too often. Her arguments were valid but she also felt the boy deserved a break.

I am really really sorry everyone. I really didn't mean for it to take this long but the laptop blew up and then a lot of things got in the way. I know I promised other things in this chapter but I thought I'd better get it up. Next chapter. The sleepover, some unexpected twists and Harry's situation gets much more desperate.