The Hidden Hero - By EveBB
Disclaimer: I own nothing except the plot.
[Author's Note: This story is completely finished. There are 36 chapters in all and I intend to publish a chapter every few days. This story will generally follow the events in the books until the end of fourth year, when it will change dramatically. I apologize for the use of non-British English; I don't think I'd be able to be consistent in using the correct British phrasing, so I'll stick with American English.
Chapter One – Revelations
"I don't know what happened! One minute, I was running and the next I was on top of the school roof! I didn't climb up the roof, I swear! I just…" the young boy struggled to find the words to explain. "…I just sort of popped there."
Harry stared anxiously at his aunt and uncle, who were sitting on a sofa facing him. He stood stiffly in front of them, feeling as if he were facing the police. His green eyes were fearful as he pleaded for understanding, though with little expectation that he would be believed. It was incredible even to him…and he had lived through the bizarre experience. But this was the truth – incredible though it seemed.
One minute, he was running away from his cousin, Dudley, and his gang. Harry knew that, if they caught him, he was in for a beating. It was one of Dudley's favorite pastimes – to beat up on his cousin. Although they had been raised together since Harry was 18 months old and his parents had died in an accident, he and Dudley had never looked on each other as brothers. Responding to the tone set by his parents, Dudley had always treated Harry with disdain, and used him as his personal punching bag.
So, when Harry had been chased by Dudley, he had been frantic to escape. He had been running through the school grounds, where only a few children played during the summer break. He had known that it was only a matter of seconds before he would be caught. He found himself wishing frantically that he could escape and, the next second, he had "popped out" on the school roof.
The school custodian had not been amused. He had assumed Harry had climbed on to the roof and Harry hadn't even attempted to defend himself. The truth was too unbelievable. But, when he had returned home, and was facing the wrath of his aunt and uncle, he had tried to explain.
At ten, Harry was a small, skinny boy. His deep green eyes shone bright in his too pale face. Forced to spend much of his time in the small cupboard under the stairs where his aunt and uncle begrudgingly housed him, Harry had the slightly unhealthy air of a convalescent. Harry rarely was permitted to play outside. If they thought they could've gotten away with it, Harry knew that his relatives would not even have sent him to school. They felt that the less time Harry interacted with the neighbors, the better.
Harry had grown up knowing that he was worthless and a mistake. How often had he heard Uncle Vernon say, "Even your parents couldn't wait to get away from you! They had to die to do it, but who can blame them?"
Harry knew that his aunt, uncle and cousin had no choice but to have to spend some time with him, as he lived with them. As Aunt Petunia put it, "It's too bad we can't pick our relatives, Harry. It is my duty, as my sister was your mother, to take you in. It's lucky you have us, or it would've been the orphanage for you."
It was no surprise – who could fault them? – for wanting to avoid seeing Harry as much as possible. So, he was shunted aside, forced to spend hours in his cupboard and, even when allowed out, expected to be as invisible as possible.
Harry was used to his aunt and uncle finding fault with him. He tried to do what they asked, but he seemed to anger them by his very existence. So, it was with a heavy, anxious heart, Harry waited for them to deal with this most unusual situation.
The principal had called Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon to complain. Harry had overheard some of the conversation and knew that the man had tried to soften some of the criticism against Harry by suggesting that this was Harry's way of dealing with the stress of having graduated elementary school and knowing that he was to attend Stonewall High in September. Aunt Petunia had agreed on the phone but Harry, his heart sinking, thought that he'd be lucky if they didn't lock him in his cupboard for a year!
Would they starve him? he wondered anxiously. Harry was frequently sent to his cupboard without dinner and he was used to feeling a continual, persistent ache of hunger. But, he remembered with alarm the time when he had hit Dudley back after Dudley had pushed him down the stairs. He had been locked in his cupboard three days without food. The ache in his stomach had felt like a knife piercing him. He never wanted to feel like that again!
Having finished his inadequate explanation of why he had been on the school roof, Harry waited for judgment to fall. However, his uncle didn't start yelling as he usually did. Instead, Harry watched in confusion as his aunt and uncle exchanged significant, somber looks.
"Petunia…" began Vernon.
"I know, Vernon," she cut him off.
Harry looked from one to the other in puzzlement. It was as if they were speaking in code. What did Aunt Petunia 'know'?
Petunia looked down at her hands which were folded in her lap, grasped so tightly together that the knuckles showed white. Her face was drawn and her lips were pursed so firmly, it looked as if she had just sucked on a lemon. Finally, she took a deep breath and raised her eyes to her nephew's. Her black, beady eyes looked coldly at the boy. Without looking at her husband, she said, "Let me handle this, Vernon. I know what we have to do. Leave us alone for a while, won't you?"
Without a word, her husband lumbered to his feet and left the room. A silence filled the living room. Harry glanced at the door through which his uncle had disappeared. He had never looked upon his uncle as a defender but, somehow, he felt even more uneasy now that his uncle had left. He dragged his eyes back to his aunt's and found that she was still watching him, without any softening in her expression. He gulped.
Aunt Petunia started talking in a low voice, as if trying to contain herself. However, Harry could hear the hate lacing her words. "I've hoped and prayed that you could escape the taint in my sister's blood. But, I can deny the truth no longer. It is clear that you're one of …them." She spat the last word in disgust. She answered the unspoken question in Harry's scared, bewildered eyes. "A wizard! That's what you are! I did my best to help you escape this curse, but you are like your parents.
"My sister – your mother – was a witch. She was so pleased to be able to do magic, she never thought about how unnatural and evil she was. You have no idea what it's like to know your own sister is a foul creature. And then, she married another of your kind! I would have been happy never to hear her name again, to pretend that I had never had a sister. But no! She had to get herself killed and saddle me with you. I've had to raise you – knowing you were spawn of evil. But, I hoped that, against all odds – you weren't the unnatural creature I knew you'd be. But, the truth will out! You…you 'apparated' on that roof."
Harry was so shocked by the tirade unleashed by his aunt, he wouldn't have been able to formulate a question even if she had paused for breath and allowed him to speak. A wizard! He was a wizard! And, that's why his aunt and uncle hated him. His thoughts were jumbled in confusion. Despite his aunt's obvious disgust, Harry felt a thrill of ecstasy at learning that he was a wizard and his parents had been magical too. He didn't think being magical was evil. Fairy godmothers were magical. So was the genie in Aladdin. They weren't evil. But, he also recognized that his aunt hated him for a reason he couldn't change. He was never going to be able to win her approval. His very existence was an abomination to her.
Pushing aside his shock, Harry tried to focus on absorbing as much information as his aunt would tell him. His eyes begged to understand and, for once, she didn't hold back. The floodgates had been opened.
"Your mother bragged about her magical powers. She told me all about apparating. When she was 17, she passed her apparition test on the first try; she was so proud. Like it was a driving test!
"Well, let me tell you where all that magic got her! Dead! Killed by a wizard even more unnatural than her! After she was married and was pregnant with you, she visited our parents when I was visiting there, too. She told us how she and her husband were going into hiding because of a prophecy that the headmaster of her school had heard. This prophecy said that you would defeat this evil wizard, Voldemort. Voldemort had learned of the prophecy and was going to try to kill you. She said that you would have powers this Dark Lord didn't know about and that he would mark you as his equal, whatever that means. But, only one of you could survive. I remember how she rubbed her belly and told my parents how you were destined to be a great wizard. How she was scared but that she just knew you'd defeat him. 'My son will be a hero,' she boasted.
"Well, my parents died a few weeks later in a car accident and she couldn't even come to the funeral because she was in hiding. And, then this Dark Wizard you were supposed to kill, killed them instead. So, some hero you are! You didn't stop this man from killing your parents! And I got you." She said it in disgust.
"You were left on my doorstep with a letter from the headmaster of the magic school your mother had attended, asking me to take you in -- to seal the 'blood magic'. Your mother died to save your life, Hero. The letter said that the wizard who was after you had temporarily lost his powers but would be back eventually. As long as I let you live with me, you'd be protected from this wizard and his followers.
"Well, I've done my duty for years. But, I've had enough. I will not have a wizard in my house. I can no longer deny that you are evil and I will not pollute my family anymore with your presence. I want you out of here!"
Harry was stunned. "Out of here?" What did she mean? Did she mean he was to go to an orphanage? His blood ran cold and a rushing sound filled his ears.
"I want you to pack up some things, and leave. I don't care where you go. Whatever happens to you from now on has nothing to do with me. Go find some school chum to stay with, sleep in the park, go to an orphanage. I don't care! Just keep away from my family from now on. I am washing this stain from my family's blood. I want to forget you ever existed!"
Harry's legs were shaking so much, he expected them to fail him any second. "Please…" he didn't complete the sentence. The blazing look of hatred that his aunt cast upon him was frightening. Harry backed away in fear.
"And don't tell anyone your name! I don't want any police banging on our door claiming we've abandoned you!" Aunt Petunia called after Harry, as he fled the room.
Harry spent a restless night in his cupboard. He replayed in his mind his aunt's diatribe and it was a long time before he was able to fall asleep. While it was shocking to learn that there was such a thing as magic – and that he was a wizard – in some ways, it explained so much of his life. Now, he understood how his hair had grown back overnight after his aunt had given him a horrible haircut a few years ago. He remembered how his teacher's hair had turned blue after he had made a nasty comment about Harry's ill-fitting clothes (hand-me-downs from Dudley), causing the class to laugh cruelly at Harry. Most importantly, it explained how the numerous cuts and bruises he had received from Dudley, Aunt Petunia or Uncle Vernon had healed so quickly.
Harry felt a thrill of fear seize his body when he thought about being on his own. He kept hoping that Aunt Petunia would have changed her mind in the morning. On the other hand, a small voice in Harry's head was whispering that it would be so wonderful never to have to see his relatives again. Never would he have to stay locked in his cupboard. There would be no one to order him around. He could go where he wanted and maybe find a new family.
Of course, there was this ominous sounding Dark Wizard out there. If he understood his aunt correctly, this wizard would be looking to kill Harry as soon as he left the "blood protection" of his aunt's house. Harry bitterly noted that his aunt didn't care about placing him in such danger. The part of Harry that wasn't scared to death about leaving the only home he had known wanted to turn his back on his aunt and tell her that he never wanted to see her, her miserable husband, or his hateful cousin ever again!
When Harry woke up the next morning, he was clear-headed despite having so little sleep. It was as if his brain had been working out the solution to his problems while he slept. So, when Harry opened his eyes, he knew what he was going to do.
If his aunt insisted, he would need to leave here. He would need a new place to stay and a way to support himself. The only way to do this was to pretend to be older. The key to everything was in a disguise. If this Dark Wizard, or his followers, were looking for Harry Potter, he didn't want anyone to know who or where he was. "Don't worry, Aunt Petunia," Harry muttered to himself, jaw clenching, remembering Aunt Petunia's warning that Harry not tell anyone his name. "I have no intention of telling anyone I'm Harry Potter."
Harry looked around his cupboard one last time, pulling a few clothes into a pile that he intended to put in a bag to take with him. As he looked around, Harry barely focused on the fact that he might never see his room again. He was distracted by his constant thought, "I need to hide myself. I don't want anyone to know I'm Harry Potter. I don't want to look like Harry Potter anymore."
When Harry pulled open the door to his cupboard and stepped out, Harry was taken aback by how small the door opening seemed to be. Had it shrunk? But, when Harry straightened up from his semi-stoop upon exiting the cupboard, he saw his reflection in a hallway mirror. Harry's jaw dropped open as he realized that the stranger in the mirror was him! A boy about 17 or 18 stood there, taller, with wider shoulders, a long nose, light brown hair and slightly small, brown eyes. Harry approached the mirror slowly. He turned his head from side to side, examining his new look. He was not a good-looking teenager. This was good. Good-looking people often attracted attention. Rather, this stranger's face seemed to be the type to fade into the background. When this thought crossed Harry's mind, he smiled. Perfect!
Harry heard his aunt and uncle stirring. Reaching into his mind, he sent out a tentative wish to regain his appearance. Immediately, his nose shortened, his hair darkened to black, his eyes turned green, and his body regained its smaller, scrawnier appearance. It was surprisingly easy to alter his appearance, Harry found.
Harry had transformed none too soon. He turned to see his aunt descending the stairs. She had a frown on her face and her brow was furrowed. "What?! Are you still here? What part of 'get out' didn't you understand?" she said nastily.
Harry tried not to let her hatred hurt him. However, he couldn't help the stab of pain that pierced his heart upon realizing that his aunt couldn't care less about him. That she actually disliked him. Was he so unlovable?
Harry lifted his chin and said, "I'm leaving," in a hard voice. He refused to let her see that she had hurt him.
"I…I just wanted…" Harry trailed off. He didn't know what to say. What did he want? Money to help him on his way? An apology for all of the times he had been mistreated? A tearful pleading not to leave? All of this.
Finally, not able to complete his sentence, Harry turned away from his aunt. He went to the kitchen where he found a bag for the few clothes he was taking with him. He grabbed some food from the refrigerator – ignoring the guilty feeling in his stomach. He had never been allowed to take food without asking.
Then, he went back through the hall to the front door. He ignored his aunt, who was standing in the hall. Neither spoke. Harry reached the front door and pulled it open. He stepped out into the sunlight of the new day and heard the door shut behind him.
Taking a deep breath, Harry focused on leaving as he had focused on escaping Dudley the day before. Was it just 24 hours ago that his world had turned upside down? With a pop, Harry apparated away from Number 4 Privet Drive.
AN: I hope you liked it. Reviews are always appreciated.