Chapter Two: The Cupboard Under The Stairs
'Lately it seems like my dreams have started to die
It occurred to me on the inside I guess so have I.'
- Nickleback 'Old Enough'
Harry groaned, rolling over onto his back. His eyes were closed, but the light was almost unbearable. Feeling brave he cracked an eye open, then snapped it shut when it was assaulted by light and a headache rival to that from his scar. Beside him similar groans could be heard. Cursing, he rolled over and pushed himself up onto his knees. They were on something soft and comfy.
Wait, soft and comfy?
Opening his eyes again, he was still assaulted by the light, but less severe. It seemed they were all crowded onto a single old cot, stuffed into some kind of cupboard. Blinking Harry shook his head again. Wait, cupboard?
It was then that it hit him full force – they did it. They had managed to defeat all odds and travel back in time…to his childhood bedroom. Reaching over, he shook both their shoulders, trying to wake them up.
"Psst, Ron, Hermione. Wake up!"
Ron slapped his hand away, groaning. Hermione blinked wearily and sat up as if from a long nap. She blinked at Harry. "What happened? Where are we?"
Still poking Ron, Harry answered, "Welcome to my cozy bedroom."
There was a pause as she looked around, and then, "This was your bedroom?"
Harry stifled a smirk at her indigenous exclamation. Hermione may be a brilliant muggle born, but that didn't mean she loved each and every muggle; her opinion of disgust towards the Dursley's was expressed quite clearly in that one phrase alone.
"W-whats'a matter, 'arry?" Ron mumbled. Then his eyes snapped open and he flung himself upwards, nearly missing Hermione by millimeters. "Are we being attacked?"
Harry snorted. "No Ron. But we are in my childhood bedroom."
"What?" Ron looked around then, eyes widening as he remembered just whom and what they were doing. "Blood hell this is a small bedroom." He licked his dry lips nervously. "There aren't any, erm, spiders are there?"
"Oh honestly, Ronald." Hermione huffed. "You can deal with malicious Death Eaters, but not a few tiny spiders?"
"Shut up. You'd change your tune if your favorite teddy turned into a giant blood sucking spider in your arms." He grumbled, ignoring their snorts. "Not to break the happy atmosphere, but what now?"
They all exchanged looks. It was only then that they noticed something else.
"Bloody hell, Harry – you're small!"
Harry looked down and bit back his surprise. They were indeed eleven again, which also meant eleven-year-old bodies. Beside them Hermione growled.
"Great." She snapped. "Just when I tamed this horrid hair it comes back to haunt me."
Ron pulled a frizzy lock experimentally. It stuck out at an odd angle. "Tough luck there, Mione'."
"Shut up Ronald."
The stairs above them creaked, showering them in dust. Ron held his nose, willing himself not to sneeze. The thundering continued on until it was fainter in the distance. Harry looked at them and realized yet another thing.
"What are we going to do about the Dursley's?" Another thing dawned on him. "And why did we end up here of all places?"
Hermione frowned. "We are all here instead of at our own homes possibly because we were all wearing the time-turner. As for why we're here…maybe it's something to do with starting where it all began?"
Ron and Harry nodded. "I guess that makes sense. But won't our parents be worried when they wake up and we're not in our beds?"
A loud screeching interrupted their thoughts.
"Boy! Get down here and make Dudder's his breakfast!"
Harry winced when they both looked at him. "It's his birthday. I guess that answers what day it is."
Ron had other things on his mind.
"Dudders?" He mouthed. "What kind of a name is Dudders?"
"What kind of a name is Ronald?" Hermione said. "At least Harry and I are named after noble historic characters."
They snickered at his red face.
"BOY! Get your arse out of bed!" Pause. "And don't even think about burning the bacon!"
Harry turned to them. "Listen, if I don't go do what she says now she'll investigate and that will be a hard one to get out of. So stay here and I'll try to get back as soon as possible, okay?"
Without another word he stepped out of the cupboard.
It was nearly nightfall before he was able to get back to the cupboard. He had almost forgotten about Dudley's birthdays, and all they entailed. Thankfully Harry managed to get out of going to the zoo by convincing his Uncle to lock him in his cupboard.
Ron and Hermione were surprisingly, not sleeping, but waiting ever so impatiently for him to return.
"What the hell took you so long?" Hermione demanded. "Breakfast doesn't last until seven pm the last time I checked."
Ron shook his head. "She's a sketch case, mate."
"Sorry guys, my Aunt thought it necessary to make me clean the house and make lunch and dinner for them as well." Here he shrugged. "After coming to Hogwarts, I guess the Dursley's and their minor mistreatments just slipped my mind."
"Minor?" Hermione practically shrieked. "I do not call making a ten-year-old cleaning the house and cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner minor." She scowled. "Just wait until I get a wand…" Her eyes went wide. "My wand!"
Harry blinked. "Wand? What are you - Oh!" He did a quick scan around them; no wand. "Maybe we aren't supposed to have them yet?"
Ron checked his pockets and came to the same conclusion. "Sounds like it, mate. Looks like it all got left behind…well, all except for our memories."
A dark frown came over Harry's face at that.
"Does that mean we have to break into Gringotts again?" At Ron and Hermione's looks, he scowled. "I guess so. Fuck."
"Now, now Harry." Ron mimicked in his best Hermione voice. "Swearing is unbecoming of a ten-year-old."
They all snickered.
"I guess it's just another thing we need to be careful about." Harry sighed, letting his head fall into his hands. "Do you suppose your parents are sending out a search party right now? It's almost been a whole day, and last time I checked ten-year-olds didn't just up and disappear from their beds."
Ron waved his hand. "Mate, I believe we have more pressing things to worry about now."
"Yeah? And when your mother calls the ministry?" Harry pressed.
Ron's face blanched.
"Oh alright, I guess we need it worry about it…"
"Ron's right." Hermione agreed, making both boys go wide-eyed again and Ron to mouth 'me?' She didn't find it funny.
"Yes, you Ronald Weasley." She snapped. "Just because I agree with you once or twice doesn't mean you're always right. Knock it off."
Ron held his hands up in surrender, mumbling about 'that time of the month.' Harry had to bite his lip to stifle his laughter. Hermione ignored him.
"Since there is no floo, wands, or ways to contact the magical world without drawing suspicion, we need to come up with a good cover story, and maybe rent a cab…"
"A cab?" Ron muttered to Harry. "What's a cab?"
It took another two hours of discussion, and they finally came up with a plan. Grinning they all high-fived each other before settling down to sleep in the crammed cupboard.
Tomorrow was going to be a long day.
To Be Continued...