With one last look around, I let out a long sigh; that slowly turned to a groan. As I spy Miss Tibbs the third, my new… well housemate I suppose, slowly stalking her way up the path; towards the front door. Not even paying me the curtsy to roll her eyes at me or to be honest, give me the slightest bit of notice at all.
I stood there as she casually strolled by me. Remaining unconcerned with my presence, as she followed a seemingly well-worn trail, hopping from the flowerbed, up to window ledge before dashing through a slightly opened window and into the house. Looking down at the cat flap in the door, I shake my head. Some people say that pets take on some a certain amount of their owner's traits; well to me that cat has just proved it. It was just as batty as her owner.
I give one final quick glance around before looking up to the heavens, as a small voice continued whispering in my mind that, 'I can still get away.' I squash it viciously and steeling myself, I knock on the door, trying not to, but ending up, inevitably thinking of the horrors that are soon to come. Yes, horrors, and all from the hands of those dam devious Dursley's.
The day had started, well, for me anyway, just the same as every other morning since the start of summer holidays had begun, only one week ago today. I'd woken up alone and wishing I was with Sirius. Not cooped up in the smallest bedroom of number 4 on the perfectly, perfect, Privet drive. Instead I could be travelling the world and lazing on beaches. With just Sirius and I, having fun. No doubt though, that for Sirius it wasn't all fun and giggles, what with him being on the run from both Muggles and Wizards.
Though, I had thought constantly to myself, anything had to be better than being here, alone, again but as they say, every cloud has a silver lining.
With my new found knowledge of just who my godfather turned out to be; namely an escaped murdering psychopath, well, so the Dursley's still believed anyway. Things had been getting, generally better, for me anyway much better than before.
It had defiantly helped with that little Aunt Marge incident, who, sorry, I meant that, was blown out of all proportion last year; the memory charm my loving family were given by the ministry only let them remember so much mostly that I had upset her so much she had decided to leave that night, instead of as planned the following morning. Bloody ministry, they could have made out she'd left of her own volition, that poor little Ripper, Killer or Savage whatever she called those evil little beast were ill, but no, they had to point the finger at me.
After seeing firsthand the power it gave me; having an apparently crazed mass murder for a godfather who, just so happened to have escaped prison, meant this summer wasn't turning out too bad. So far, I'd been mostly left alone which I have to say suited me just fine. There was only problem with this current arrangement as it was though; there's really not a lot to do, all alone in one's own bedroom, so I'd taken a deep breath and started on my homework.
All the while trying not to think what Ron would say if he could see me, even worse though would be how Hermione would react. She'd start going on about how proud she was, how I was finally taking my studies seriously. Honestly, that girl, she went on like my mother sometimes.
Thinking on my almost finished pile of essays I couldn't help but feel quite happy, almost proud of myself. They were nearly all finished, leaving me with only my potions and Transfiguration assignments left to be completed. Both of which, were tucked away securely along with my wand in my hideaway; under the loose floorboard that I had found beneath my bed.
Sitting up, I looking around the sparsely furnished room, my eyes drifted over towards the window, taking in Hedwig's still empty cage and my trunk, propped open with some huge trousers that were spilling out over the side; hiding my very magical contraband from Dursley very muggle eyes. They were the only things to show my other life, one as wizard, but not just any wizard mind you. The Boy-Who-Lived, and became famous for something that he couldn't even remember.
Several loud bangs shook door in its frame, stopping my thoughts before they could head towards a much darker place. Then with the pounding stopped and with the sound of several threats; all of which were incoherently shouted through the door there was silence, well, silence if you discounted the sound of heavy breathing and footfalls like elephants heading the other direction; towards the stairs.
"Must be time for breakfast" I mused aloud, quickly prepared myself to face another day, a day of silence, with intermittent bad attempts at evil glares thrown in, only of course when they thought I wasn't looking. Honestly though, compared to Snape they were all pathetic, bloody amateurs.
After a quick shower and throwing on some of Dudley's old rags I headed down the stairs and into the kitchen, my pleasant if not good mood fading like Hermiones crush on Professor Lockhart. Something was wrong I though, yes, something was very wrong indeed. The reason for this was as obvious as it was hard to miss, that being extremely, my cousin Dud, Dinky Dudders or Dudley Dursley depending on who you spoke to, was smiling at me, this could not be good.
Seeing that my attention had fallen upon him, he quickly tried to somewhat school his expression. The only problem I had with this was he ended up looking, well, constipated really. It was all quite confusing and more than a little disturbing to watch, a bit like a car crash or...
Taking a second to push that thought away and get my bearings I slowly slid into my usual seat; opposite Vernon. Wondering ideally to myself how he would try to outwit me today and from that giving a reason for being punished. No doubt of course that was what he had been discussing with Dudley before I'd arrived to breakfast, and the source of Dudley's still quite painfully obvious joy.
Petunia was just sitting there nibbling away on a piece of Marmite covered toast, blah horrible stuff. Well I'd better get this over with, late last night in the glow, of that horrible yellow street light; set as if on purpose but the Dursley's somehow outside my room. I'd noticed some of the flowerbeds where in need of a bit of TLC (tending, loving and crap respectively) so I decided to go with that cut of their attack with one of my own how did that that old adage go. The best form of defence is, as they say, a solid form of offence, or something like that. I quickly started to lay down the groundwork for my impending victory in the battle of the minds well, with Petunia anyway. Vernon was a little bit too quick for such simple games and would spot what I was doing in a second but my aunt though, God bless her, she properly still wouldn't understand it, even if Vernon bothered to take the time to explain all it to her.
"Aunt Petunia" I began, sounding properly respectful, she always liked that. "I noticed yesterday that the flower beds needed tidying up outside. I could do that after breakfast, if you wished me to aunty" then went in with my killer shot "I saw Mrs Evens looking at your garden the other day from out of my window but, I mean if you..." I trailed off, slowly savouring my victory. As soon as I mentioned the garden was hers it was like taking candy from a baby, everyone had a weakness and you just had to find it. Petunia's was looking bad in public, and she kind of ironically absolutely hated being gossiped about.
I could see my victory shining in her eyes, with her panicked and almost frantic looks towards Vernon. Taking a deep breath I relaxed, this was the key. If he didn't really care he would just flick his paper, making some inane comment about how it was nice to see I was finally trying to earn my keep. After a few seconds he spoke up.
"He could do that, yes, but after lunch though" oh bugger.
With one last look at me he lifted his paper so no one could see his face; effectively shutting out the rest of the table. With the renewed look of determination on her features as she turned back to me, my heart sank.
"Yes, after lunch you can tidy up the beds but first, you're coming out with me." Giving me a disappointed look she went on. "It has come to my attention that you will never be half the man my Duders will be. So I won't have you running about in such expensive cloths. Look at you boy, lounging around in that shirt that cost over £50 just look at how you treat it. You look like some kind of homeless tramp." She finished sharply
Hearing the slight rustle of a paper and seeing Dudley smile again I shake my head. I was right; no good can come from this.
It was an hour or so later that you would find me, dressed in my best fitting cloths. Trailing behind my aunt into a new, super discount clothing store and looking around with eye's wide in amazement, I just couldn't believe the size of the place. The last clothes shop I'd been in was Gladrags Wizarding Wear in Hogsmade, a space that you could have fit into this place at least ten times over, and quite easily at that. It was more like an indoor Quiddich field with a roof, then any shop I had ever been into.
A sharp poke in my side followed by an even sharper "Come along Harry" got me moving again. I couldn't help but think about Mr Weasley, his constant amazement of all things Muggle. I wondered what on earth he would make of all this, just to sell some clothes.
Suddenly, and without any prior notice, two t-shirts were thrust into my hands and I was being pushed towards a large changing area, Aunt Petunia talking in my ear the entire time.
"Right, try those on and see which one fits better, then we'll know you size. I'll go and get you some jeans for you to try on." With that she pushed me into a booth then she leaned inside towards me. "Just stay there once you are done, and for goodness sakes, don't do anything" she quickly looked around before lowering her voice "freaky." And with that she was gone.
After a quick change; into what I figured was a small size, cunningly deduced from the large S I found on the ticket. I let out a moan, looking at my reflection in the mirror it should have said too small; the t-shirt pulled tight across my chest lifting with my arms to show my quite disappointingly six pack free gut, it was not uncomfortable in any way, but it was still quite restricting. Pulling it off quickly, I tried the other one. With it fitting a lot better than the other; hanging a little loose with some room to grow, that would do nicely. Wiping it off and with a quick look at the label I discovered I was an M whatever that meant male, muggle, man? Before sliding open the curtain to see petunia standing there, tapping her foot impatiently, while holding several different pairs of jeans.
"Well, which one fits you better?" She asked, in response I silently handed her the M, which she took with a slight frown. "Would have thought you were a Small," she muttered quietly to herself, as she headed over to an area, with a large, and still mysterious M, that was dangling down from the ceiling.
Re-entering the booth quickly I tried on the jeans, with some kind of luck that I am not particularly known for the first one's she had handed me seemed to fit perfectly. So with a smile on my face I quickly changed back and was walking out of the booth. I'd had, had enough of playing dress up already, it seemed Dean was right when he'd said only women really enjoyed cloths shopping, unless, as he informed me knowledgably afterwards, it was for another new West Ham FC replica shirt.
I headed quickly over towards Aunt Petunia, whom I had spotted hurriedly bustling her way back through the crowd, with an assortment of at least seven different jumpers, shirts and t-shirts spilling out of her arms. Meeting her half way, I automatically reached out to help her; she seemed to spear me half a smile, before dumping the lot in my arms and snatching at the jeans I'm holding out of my hand.
"These fit?" And with the nod of my head we were off, moving over to a set of stairs. As I continued to follow her around the shop the pile in my arms getting steadily larger I found my thoughts begin to wander, trying to find a reason for this so called act of charity. Could someone have made a comment to them about me being a scruffy ragamuffin? Had she finally gotten tired with me messing up the place, by just sitting in it? Neither reason seemed to fit just right. First it was obviously Vernon's idea and not Petunia's from their exchange earlier this morning. Maybe he was scared of Sirius turning up and seeing me in rags? Could one of his boss's possibly be moving closer to Privet Drive; Heaven forbid they think Vernon Dursley not rich enough to cloth his own ward.
The more I thought about it the more confusing it seemed to become. I was probably looking at it a bit too deeply. Could it be they had decided to change their ways? This act of charity could only be the start of a better life for me. I snorted aloud causing my aunt and several others giving me a funny look, yeah right.
The next hour or so had seemed to fly by and before I knew it I was sitting in the car and heading back toward privet drive. The three brand new bags of clothes, all of which were sitting next to me on the back seat. My mind though, was elsewhere as I was currently daydreaming about the look on Snape's ugly face when he couldn't find a single fault in my summer homework this kept me distracted half the way home before petunias voice snapped me back to reality.
"When we get back you're to get changed in the kitchen and tend to my garden at once, no messing around, you hear me. Leave your bags on the table then you get to it, ok, you will pay us back for this kindness young man."
With a muttered. "Yes Aunt Petunia" I looked back out of the window for the rest of the duration until all the house's slowly became the same, perfectly cut lawns, perfectly trimmed hedges and finally perfectly perfect Privet Drive it almost made me sick. I was distracted from this by a rare sight on a Sunday; you See Vernon's car, it wasn't in the drive when we returned.
'Strange' I thought, before turning and grabbing the bags. Before heading in I caught an unusual look on Petunia face, one that had looked strangely, almost relived at the lack of car in the drive. As I entered the house my mind rushed to make sense of all the thoughts swimming in my head.
Maybe, she had spent more money than Vernon had told her to. After all, she certainly didn't have to buy me that new pair of trainers, as well as the shoes. Some kind of strange feeling came over me, one, which quite possibly could have been gratitude to her, with this in mind I resolved to do the best job I could on the flowerbeds.
So with a slight spring in my step and new threads on my back I set to it, thinking all the time on how this could possibly be incorporated into my Herbology essay, as I'd said, I was very board in my room.
After a couple of hours I stood back and surveyed my work, more than a little pleased with myself and certain that they wouldn't find anything to complain about later.
Re-entering the house I found it in a most peculiar state, all three Dursley's were home and buzzing about the kitchen when I entered, almost, as if it was the first of September at the Burrow. I could also make out three large suitcases piled together in the hall. As one they seemingly spotted me, and all movement ground to a sudden halt. Dudley's grin was almost splitting his face as his podgy frame seemed to swell before he suddenly burst; unfortunately, it was only with his laughter.
He was soon ushered from the room, with Petunia quick to follow him out. Leaving just Vernon and I it was time for the show down then. I was feeling quite confident, I mean my godfather line had won me all three of these little battles so far this summer, but before I could think of how to start, Vernon spoke.
"Petunia, Dudley and I are going away on holiday for a few weeks; you'll be staying at Miss Figg's, ok boy." Then, with a nod of finality he grinned at my shocked face. "Oh, before you start sprouting nonsense about this godfather of yours tell me; how are you going to tell him huh? Your owl's been gone for days and we are on the 7pm flight out of here." His face filled with glee. "So upstairs and pack your bags boy" with that, his grin turned to a full-blown smirk.
"Oh, Just in case you thought of doing any of your little tricks on her, I've taken the liberty of putting you trunk in a nice safe place. You can have it back of course, once we return, so long as the garden is kept tidy, that will be your payment for your clothes, well." He looked deliberately at his watch. "You had better get packing." He finished before turning and leaving the room.
I stood there a moment, slowly coming to terms with the shock of what he said. My mind reeling from blow after blow of his little monolog, finally I found my voice. I followed him through the kitchen door into hall, as if I was going to go down so easily.
"What" I started carefully, as there was no need after all to anger him unnecessarily. "If I made other arrangements? I could stay at the Weasleys or at Hermione house, please, her parents are normal like you are, and..." I tried.
"What that gaggle redheads, the same lot that still haven't paid for the damage they did to my house, I think not. Who's this Hermione one of your little occultist girlfriends, no I would be doing her parents a grave injustice letting you even stay there. Who knows what you would get up to" his eyes flashed "no morals you lot that's your problem" it was warring emotions within me soon showed up; my slightly flushed face showed that I understood exactly what he was inferring would happen with our lack of morals and my eye's showing my anger at it.
"It's not like that, really and she's certainly not like that, she's one of my best friends" I bit out "if you just asked her"
"Stop you're moaning" he cut through my argument before it could really get going. "We're leaving in about twenty minutes. Now listen, you've stayed at Miss Figg's before and she told me how she could do with some help in her garden; She's getting on quite a bit you know. Not that you care for anyone who can't seem fix everything with the wave of a stick." His voice turned slightly bitter at the end.
"Look at you, for years we have given you the finest quality clothes, clothes that had once belonged Dudley. Things we have always brought form the finest shops; one pair of trousers you received cost over £200, tailor made, with the finest silk lining you could buy in Whining. You wore them, what, once, twice before I found them today, just thrown in a heap on top of your trunk." He was practically snarling as he finished.
"When I meet you farther he was the same, never thinking things through, only interested in things he could get with a flick of his bloody wand, without the need to work hard for them. So tell me boy, go on tell me, that your lot don't have the ability to shrink things down a little. He went on about people turning into animals and flying on broomsticks, as if they were normal things." He broke off and shuddered, possibly, I thought, at the unnaturalness of it all but I'm not really sure, than he continued taking my silence as acceptance, which I guess it was.
"I thought so. Now then Boy, it's up to you, if you think that leaving some poor old woman to struggle all summer long on her own. Is less important then you running a mock with that gaggle of redheads or rolling around in the hay with this Hermney. Well then, you are not even half the man your father used to be" he finished.
Only one word could describe my feeling for this man at that moment, Bastard, a bloody clever sneaky one, but a Bastard but one none the less.
"Now pack your things"
So that was how I found myself standing on the door step of number 7 Wisteria Walk, with a bag full of new cloths, my stash of secret items that had successfully escaped my uncles magical purge. Cursing the bloody Dursley's; who were properly just taking off to god knows where. While I was here, waiting for some batty old cat loving woman to answer the door.