"BOY! Get out here this instant!"
A small, messy-haired boy named Harry Potter was very suddenly, if not rudely, awakened from his sleep. He had received less sleep than usual the night before and was not particularly in the mood to deal with his beast of an uncle, Vernon Dursley.
The Dursleys were Harry's only living relatives, much to the chagrin of both involving parties. The Dursleys prided themselves on being the prime example for normalcy and Harry was just the opposite. Not that Harry cared about this much; he was used to it by now. But he thought it would be nice for someone else—anyone—to actually get to know him for himself before automatically classifying him as 'strange', 'abnormal', or a 'freak'.
Harry sniffled softly as he moved to open the door of his cramped cupboard. The cold of winter had really done its job; chills, fever, and aching limbs had plagued him for many days now. Not that the Dursleys cared about the ailment that was draining their small nephew, they were too preoccupied with this morning's events. In fact, the Dursleys would probably jump for joy if Harry keeled over right at that very moment.
School didn't offer Harry much sanctuary either, but on Christmas Holidays such as this, he profusely wished he were anywhere but at Number Four Privet Drive. The monotonous droning of his teacher and relentless teasing seemed a happy alternative. This year Harry's wish had been granted to an extent, but not in a way that made the emerald-eyed boy much happier. He was to go to Mrs. Figg's, a dull, older lady whose house smelled of cabbage and had far too many cats in Harry's opinion. He knew he'd end up as bored as ever, even if it was only for three days.
Harry sighed; walking sluggishly from his cramped cupboard to the kitchen. Clad in severely oversized pants and a shirt that literally looked as if it were eating him alive, he mentally braced himself for whatever his uncle had to say. Vernon Dursley wasn't known for having polite conversations or keeping his temper, though especially not with Harry. It was because of this that Harry often fantasized about what his parents were like—certainly much more kind and accepting—and often wished he were able to remember them.
When Harry reached the kitchen, he noticed that everyone was already present. Aunt Petunia stood with her abnormally long neck craned over the stove trying to cook the last of the bacon, looking quite cheerful. Dudley was seated at the table, devouring his food at a rapid pace that would make anyone else explode. Harry swore there would be a day when his humongous cousin wouldn't be able to fit through the front door.
Harry grudgingly moved his eyes to where Uncle Vernon sat reading the morning paper. Much to his relief, the mustached man didn't seem to be in as bad of a mood he previously feared. There was an air of unusual calmness in the room that Harry hoped would last. It took Uncle Vernon a few moments to acknowledge his nephew's presence and put down the paper that so often times had very few things of any real interest to report.
Brilliant emerald eyes locked with the larger man's glaring beady ones. "We're leaving within the hour and will be back within the week." Harry nodded slowly, suppressing a sneeze with his oversized sleeve. He already knew this. "If you do anything—abnormal—or cause any grief for Mrs. Figg, you'll wish you'd never been born, boy." The words were said in such a deadly calm way, it made Harry recoil slightly and shiver.
"Y—yes, Uncle Vernon," the messy-haired child whispered softly.
A fake smile appeared across the man's lips as he drew his large head closer to his nephew. "Good," he spat, showering Harry with some flyaway spit. "You will not embarrass my family." Uncle Vernon glared once again before positioning himself back into his seat correctly, then jabbed at a pile of bacon Aunt Petunia had slipped onto his plate during the exchange.
Harry gulped before scampering back to his cupboard—he had no appetite at the moment. He wouldn't be allowed much to eat if he did, anyway. Uncle Vernon's threat was obvious to Harry, and it was one he'd heard a thousand times before. He was always doing freakish things.
Running a hand threw his already messy hair; Harry packed what little he had. He knew this really wasn't how 'normal' families operated and had often wondered why his parents had to die in that stupid car crash eight years ago. He wouldn't have to sleep in a cupboard full of spiders, wear clothes ten times to big for him, and eat only scrapes at meals. No one would ever know he had been there…or existed…
Harry sighed, closing his eyes.
He really hated the holidays.
Harry coughed throatily as he made his way to the kitchen once more. But he stopped abruptly midway, as Uncle Vernon was standing right beside the front door with what looked to be a very large, chocolate cake. Looking at it made Harry slightly queasy, he shifted from foot to foot trying hard to hide his discomfort.
"Yes, Uncle Vernon?"
The beady-eyed man sneered unpleasantly. "Petunia made this for Mrs. Figg, make sure she receives it," he said, shoving the chocolaty mess at the small boy in front of him. Harry gripped tight, his arms quaking.
The larger man seemed to not notice this. "She's expecting you any time now. Just walk over…We're leaving shortly." He gave Harry a menacing look. "And remember, NO FUNNYBUISSNESS!" He stalked off then, retreating upstairs to help Dudley get his things in order.
When Harry finally found a way to balance both his bag and the huge cake, he set off down the street without so much as a goodbye. He knew he had to hurry to his destination because both the weight of the objects in hand, and the chill of the winter air were making the emerald-eyed boy feel worse than usual. His shivers were rapidly turning into straight-out convulsions and he had the strong urge to sneeze. Harry hated to think what would happen if he dropped the messy dessert all over the pristine street. His stomach lurched horribly for a second, closing his eyes to stop the spinning.
When he finally endeavored to open his startlingly bright orbs once more, Harry titled his head, confused. As if by magic, he was now standing before Mrs. Figg's front door. That was definitely strange. Shrugging, he rested the cake down gently, rapping lightly on the front door. It didn't don on the small boy how cold it actually was until he saw the steam of his breath wisp past him. He'd been so innately cold lately, anyway. He rubbed his hands together in a futile attempt to gather warmth, wondering if Mrs. Figg would allow him something hot to drink.
The small boy's head jerked up when he heard mumbled voices from inside.
"…Don't know what Dumbledore was thinking…"
"…The poor thing…looks like he hasn't eaten in years!"
"…I don't know what I can do…my condition…"
Without warning, the door squeaked opened. Harry nearly jumped out of his skin. Rather than being startled by the movement, Harry found himself instantly gaping at the man now standing before him. He was wearing what looked like an old tattered robe, which might as well have been rags, and appeared more sickly and beaten down than Harry did; though not by much. His sandy hair was freckled by light grays, but his eyes seemed so warm and pleasant…too kind to become any kind of threat to the young boy openly staring up at him.
"Umm," Harry started, flustered. The man's eyes hadn't met his yet. "Hello?"
There was a prolonged moment of silence before the sandy-haired man met Harry's gaze and let out a particularly strangled yelp causing Harry to jump and the cake to go flying.