Disclaimer: All rights to the Harry Potter franchise belongs to the esteemed J.K Rowling and Bloomsbury Publishing. The same goes for Alan Moore, Stan Lee, Robert E. Howard, Matt Groening and Bob Kane/Bill Finger for their respective creations.
Author's Note: This one-shot is merely just something that's been irking at me for the past two weeks, and finally, it has come to fruition. Some of you might notice plot similarities between this and 'Harry Potter: Archmagus'. Well, I did read it., and that was it…
Some of these elements might be foreign for readers, therefore, I would like to recommend Googling™ 'Watchmen' or 'Conan the Barbarian' for more information. And, I would like to apologize in advance for any inaccuracies regarding the comic book issues. I'm not that big a nerd…seriously.
I would like to stress that the Conan part in this story was largely influenced by the writing of Robert Brockway of Cracked in his 'The Way of the Barbarian: Infusing Your Spiritual Life With Conan'.
Edited at 24 July 2011 to the best of my abilities. Also, parts and references unknown to England were changed as was stated in reviews and DLP. Thanks and gratitude should be given to both.
A Gritty Reboot
Harry Potter was a normal boy; as normal as can be defined in a social context. He was polite, intelligent, and some might even say a shy lad who abhorred any attention what so ever. This was especially intriguing to the form teacher of Class 4-A, Jessica Abernathy. She was a bit curious as to the boy's intellect and noticed he would often downplay his own knowledge in class resulting in him to only average low B's and C's in all of his subjects.
However, she was aware of the bullying the frail boy suffered at the hands of the notorious school gang led by his very own cousin, Dudley Dursley. Oh, they were notorious little buggers all right – frequently bullying and teasing their classmates, but it didn't warrant enough merit to an actual police investigation.
Mrs. Shawstone, the staunch principal of Stonewall Primary School, had even tried reasoning with Dudley's parents during a home visit, but the Dursley's would have none of it.
'Now, listen here…Dudley is a magnificent boy…would never hurt a fly…accused him based on some shameless accusation by a couple of ruddy kids…the smartest lad in that damn school…'
That was only part of the tirade given by the Dursley's, or as they were more commonly referred to as in the staff room: 'The Gruesome Twosome'. Yes, it was a bit unprofessional of them to go bad-mouthing parents, but the situation warranted it.
So, it was left to the teachers to curb their ways as they tried their best to stop the rough-housing the small group had often caused during recess, but their influence would only stop within the school compound. Teachers weren't as vigilant as to patrol the whole of Little Whinging, which to contrary beliefs, is not as little as the name suggests. Some of the older (dare she would say, lazier) staff members even expressed their tiresome opinion, stating how it was just the over-activeness of ten-year old boys.
And so it was with a heavy heart that she addressed the frail boy in front of her, "So there's nothing that you want to tell me, Harry? Nothing at all?" Jessica Abernathy tried to probe the issue once again.
The boy staunchly kept his head bowed. Only on several occasion did his eyes dart upwards to meet the gaze of his form teacher, but as quickly as their eyes met, he glanced back down. "No," He mumbled quietly, shaking his head as he did.
Her lips thinned slightly as the boy rebuffed her question.
Jessica had a sneaking suspicion that something was not right in the Dursley household; it was obvious considering Harry's fragile state. For a ten year old, Harry was abnormally short for his age and his thin frame was a contrast to his cousin's 'wide' girth.
She had at times, tried to contact social services to do a house-call to survey the conditions of the Dursley home, but the case worker on the other end had explicitly reminded her that the department was stretched thin. They had expressed their promise to do the best that they could, but they had the whole of Surrey under their jurisdiction and Harry was just another file that was buried under several mountains of paperwork.
Despite her meddlesome nature, Jessica was afraid to confront the Dursley's directly by herself. There didn't seem to be any outwards sign of physical abuse and the only psychology terms she could remember from her university days was from a short introductory elective that wasn't all that informative. Therefore, she was unable to ascertain whether he was suffering from any psychological abuse.
Once again, she was at a dead end.
She mustered up a small smile as she regarded Harry. "I'm sorry for wasting your time then. Now, if there is anything that you want to tell me, don't hesitate all right? My door is wide open, and if you want, you can just call me at any time," She said, scribbling her number on a small piece of paper.
Harry took the offered paper and stuffed it inside his weathered and tattered backpack. He gave another quick nod before mumbling a quick goodbye and immediately exited the class.
Jessica sighed wearily and looked out the window; a black mop of hair could be seen slowly fading away in the distance as she watched Harry Potter shuffle back to Privet Drive using his normal route home. She would not know it, but the next time she saw her young student right after the holidays, she would gradually notice a change in his normally meek demeanour.
It was a particularly downtrodden and bitter boy that curled up in the small bed in his equally small cupboard that night. He sniffed again as he tried to stop the flow of tears dripping down his cheeks and down on the slightly damp bed sheets. With a final vigorous swipe, Harry wiped off the fresh set of tears that were gathering at the corner of his eyes.
He gently patted his shaven head, silently wishing for his messy hair to magically appear under his touch.
He was not disappointed when it didn't. The terrible act of injustice occurred just after Aunt Petunia had commented on his messy hair – stating her fears that the neighbours would gossip about his unruly appearance. Thus, after a small struggle and a tensed talking to by uncle Vernon, Harry bitterly resigned to his fate as Aunt Petunia brought him to the nearby saloon and ordered the stylist to shave his head 'commando style'.
Harry bit back his anger at Dudley's smug and condescending smile as the boy patted his full head of hair, knowing an act of transgression against Dudley would be considered as an act of transgression against the rest of the family. He would not like to revisit the horror and fear of watching uncle Vernon turn a nasty shade of purple again.
That and, well…he liked food.
After the customary merciless rant, Uncle Vernon had locked him inside the cupboard for almost two days without any food or water. It was only after Aunt Petunia voiced her concerns that he finally acquitted and allowed him to have half a sandwich with a glass of tap water in place of eating at the dinner table.
Suffice to say, Harry learned his lesson: never raise your hands against or be better at anything than Dudley.
It was with this that an emotionally and physically drained Harry Potter succumbed to the exhausted state of his body and quietly fell into the gentle embrace of slumber.
"Wake up, I tell you." His aunt's shrill voice screeched at him. "It's about ruddy time that you cook breakfast. You no-good sonofa…"
Harry blinked repeatedly as he tried to shrug off the sleep in his eyes. He scratched his hair instinctively, as he blearily looked in the darkness of the room in search of his glasses. His right hand stopped within an inch of the frame before his brain finally caught up.
Why did he have hair?
Closing his eyes, he patted his head gingerly before a smile beyond which words could expressed grace his features. Harry clammed up his initial instinct to shout the words at the top of his lungs as he pondered on how he had managed to grow back the unruly mop of hair that was a constant thorn to Aunt Petunia image of prim perfection.
His mind suddenly singled out Dudley's rather old comic book that he had filched from the table on the living room. Incredibly, no one had noticed the tattered comic book was missing and he kept it reverently in a small and cramped spot just under his bed.
Could it be? Was he a mutant like those Z-men guys?
Wait, was it Z-men or something else?
He scrunched up his face in thought. That didn't sound right but the general idea was there. As he reached under his bed to grab the aforementioned comic book from his secret hiding spot, the door suddenly opened with a small 'bang' as Aunt Petunia stuck her head in.
"What is taking you so-"
Her words immediately died in her mouth as she noticed the familiar mop of black hair that was conveniently absent just yesterday. Her shriek of fear and genuine disgust would forever be the talking point of Privet Drive for an entire month as the word 'freak' resounded throughout the street.
Harry Potter just offered a small and nervous grin in return.
The repercussion of his amazing mutant-tastic feat was tantamount to about a lifetime of detentions and writing lines in a non-descript classroom.
Once again, Harry had the displeasure of watching his uncle turn a nasty shade of puce; almost red in fact. He was almost able to imagine the bursting clouds of steam that would erupt from his uncle ears, just like the cartoons he had the privy of watching when he was younger.
It was not pretty.
But it was nice to see his abnormally large cousin gape like a fish, though what was not nice however, was being locked inside the cupboard for the entirety of the weekend. Again, it was unfortunate that he was unable to eat breakfast that faithful Saturday morning, but he digressed, this new ability had affirmed his belief that he was some sort of mutant.
Of course, his primary source of information was gathered from Classic X-men issue number eighteen.
It was basically the holy grail of advanced genome mutation, well, almost.
Still, Harry had acknowledged that even if he was a mutant of sorts, he was without a doubt one of the lousiest mutants there ever was. The ability to regrow one's hair was basically the most useless power he had heard since…well ever.
He would be lying if he said that he wasn't disappointed in himself, but he marched onward, reasoning to himself that there would perhaps be a silver lining to his ability. So, he tried to control this newly found power of lengthening one's hair during the two day lock-down inside his cupboard.
At least, he'll be able to save money from all the haircuts he wouldn't need in the coming years. But for now, it was better if he was able to gather more information on these super-powered beings.
Harry Potter nodded slowly. There was a ton of comic books inside Dudley's room, maybe he won't notice a few of them missing.
He stalked through the halls silently; like a ninja approaching his target for a quick and stealthy kill. Of course, it was totally unnecessary since he was alone in the Dursley household, but it added to the whole theatrics of sneaking into Dudley's room.
It was a stroke of luck that Aunt Petunia had left together with Dudley to buy the groceries for tonight's dinner which he had to cook, mind you. However, this was the perfect opportunity to sneak into Dudley's room to search for more information regarding his new-found ability.
He slowly turned the doorknob to Dudley's room, silently praying that his cousin had not locked the room, but his fears were unfounded as the door opened with a small click. As he entered, he glanced around the room, slightly awed at how spacious Dudley's room was. This was of course compared to his cramped dwelling, but to be fair, almost every other room in this house was bigger than his cupboard.
He shrugged indifferently. Better keep his mind on the objective before Aunt Petunia and Dudley return from their trip. Prior to this breaking and entering, he had actually compiled a short list in his head about the most obvious places Dudley would keep his stash of 'thingamajigs' which he had blackmailed, threatened and mostly whined to hoard together.
At number one on the list was right under Dudley's mattress.
Harry slowly crawled on top of Dudley's large and incredibly comfortable bed, savouring every moment as he closed his eyes blissfully. It really was a comfortable bed, and it was with a heavy sigh that he opened his eyes and dragged himself to the side as he hung himself off the edge of the bed, upside down to peek under the bed.
It was a rather large metallic box with an equally large messy scrawl: 'Dudley's Private Stash' written on top of the lid. With a child-like glee, Harry eagerly tore off the lid of the box and chuckled almost evilly at its contents. Apart from the bundles of pounds and numerous trinkets that Dudley had gained from coercing several of his classmates and neighbourhood kids, he had finally found his prize.
The black haired kinda-sort-of mutant rubbed his chin thoughtfully: how should he proceed?
'Eh…' He thought.
He grabbed a couple of comic books before deciding to filch a couple of quid just for the heck of it. He was vaguely sure that Dudley wouldn't notice the small difference in his 'private stash' box. Next, he placed the metallic box back under the bed and tried to smooth the creases in the bed sheet. At the front of the door, he paused and glanced back at the room, seemingly proud of himself as he surveyed his handiwork.
Harry Potter chuckled again, patting himself on the back as he turned to leave Dudley's room.
Just like a ninja…
Back in his secret hideout, which was basically just his cupboard with the lights off, though what made it extra special was that his room was accompanied by the orange-y hue from his trusty flashlight.
The trick to make his secret hideout all the more believable was to physically hide underneath the comforter. The devil was in the details.
It was nearing midnight, just hours after breaking into Dudley's room, and so far, it seemed that he was in the clear.
Harry placed the small booty of treasures on his bed before recounting the two five pound notes and change in his hands. He had close to fifteen pounds and yet, it was just a small portion of Dudley's total savings. Let's not forget the handful of comic books: two more issues of Classic X-men, a re-printed issue of Amazing Spiderman issue number one and three issues of something called Conan the Barbarian.
This was a different superhero than he was accustomed to. This Conan fellow was surrounded by literally mountains of dead bodies with scantily-clad women (or so Aunt Petunia would call the women who dressed like that in the telly) spreading their bodies seductively on the hulking male Adonis.
Initially, Harry blushed a bright red when he noticed the cover on the comic book. The women all appeared to be very well-endowed…very well-endowed. He shook his head to clear those unwanted thoughts.
He had been set in his ways…girls are icky.
Yes, very much so.
With that, he placed his newly-found income inside a small pocket in his pants where he was sure that Dudley would be unable to wedge his pudgy little fingers inside.
"Well, let's start with you then," Harry Potter said to no one in particular as he held the Classic X-Men issue in his hand.
The black haired boy exclaimed as the spider bit his thumb before scurrying away from the boy as fast as its eight legs could move. This was attempt number six – all of which in hopes that a radioactive spider would bite him and give him unimaginable powers much like Peter Parker.
Well, a young sort of mutant/would-be human infused with the power of a radioactive spider could only hope, right?
Harry was emotionally drained today, having read and re-read the compelling and equally tragic story of Peter Parker late last night. He almost cried when Uncle Ben died and tried to console the fictional character as he patted Peter Parker in one of the panels with his forefinger and said a few soothing words to the grief-stricken face of Spiderman.
However, it led him to learn one of the most important lessons in his short life here on Earth. (There was a distinct possibility that he might be an alien from another planet so he didn't really want to rule it out if they came back for him.)
Oh right, the lesson:'with great power comes great responsibility.'
Sadly, this statement led Harry to a bit of a conundrum. Technically, he didn't really have a great power per se, aside from the brief ability of regrowing one's hair, but that ability didn't pan out all too well. He briefly thought about shaving his head again to test whether the previous incident was just a one-off thing or his actual ability.
All of this led to the experiment he was currently conducting, but from the short yet obviously unfruitful results, trying to become Spiderman reincarnated was a bust.
He did however, cringed ever so slightly when he heard his dear cousin's nasally voice. "There's the freak! Let's get him."
Dudley directed his motley crew of rag-tag companions at Harry, which mainly consisted of a couple of equally chubby kids and his ever loyal second in command, Piers Polkiss by his side. The notorious gang more commonly known as 'The Cobra Kais' (or what Dudley kept asking the kids in the schoolyard to call them after watching some sort of American karate movie a year ago) charged straight at him.
Harry cursed himself of his weak and incredibly pathetic mutant ability. If only he had something useful, but he didn't. With a heavy sigh, Harry ran in the opposite direction hoping to lose the Cobra Kais in the large school compound.
He weaved in and out of corridors, shoving through several older kids in the process, but he would not stop, Harry James Potter would not be getting a 'swirly' today nor ever from now onward. However, Piers, despite his mousy frame was a tad bigger and faster, had managed to corner him outside the main school building which was also coincidentally deserted. The boy approached him with a sickening grin as he noticed the trapped and anxious expression on their favourite prey.
This was Harry-hunting at its best.
"Over here guys!" Piers called out to the rest of the crew whose big build was unsuited for speed or basically just running of any kind, seriously.
The rest of the Cobra Kais' approached the location, albeit taking a moment longer than Piers.
They were all in various states of exhaustion: a few were just breathing deeply, most of them were on their knees panting, and yet the most devoted of them all was trying valiantly to jog just a little bit further, as far as they could despite the copious amounts of sweat cascading down their brows or the bright flush of red on their cheeks as they repeated their mantra out loud.
'Come on, Gervais old-boy, we're almost there…just a couple of metres left.'
It was Dudley who made it first beside his lieutenant as he glared balefully at his cousin, hoping that he would just burst into flames under his heated glare. He was panting slightly, but doing fairly better than the rest of his gang.
"Look Dud, I managed to corner the freak here. A bit of luck on our side, eh? This place's practically deserted," The mousy brown haired boy said smugly.
Harry twitched slightly. He had recently come to the conclusion about how similar he was to Spiderman's alter ego and yet, here he was being insulted and bullied. The injustice of it all. Neither Harry Potter nor Peter Parker would stand for it. Feeling slightly braver than usual, he struck with almost inhuman efficiency as he rebuked his deadly comeback.
"You kiss your mother with that mouth, Polkiss?"
The duo was slightly shocked at the normally shy and reserved boy speaking at all. Normally, it was just a couple of grunts and moans as they beat him up, but a witty comeback? No one was expecting that.
It was thanks to their shocked and bewildered states that Harry was able to knock them out of the way ever so slightly, but the bruise in his shoulder would remain for a few days. However, the path to freedom was clear, having just dodged a wild grab from the meaty hands of Dudley, Harry swerved and evaded like a butterfly and stung with the deadly grace of a bee as he made his way out of enclosed area.
He closed his eyes as he ran from the group, silently wishing to be anywhere else but here since he knew Piers would eventually catch up to him and a beating of a lifetime would ensue. Suddenly, the young boy experienced an incredibly uncomfortable sensation of being sucked through a narrow tube, or what he imagined being sucked through a narrow tube felt like.
As fast as it happened, the uncomfortable sensation faded away, and he felt the gentle breeze of the wind blowing his unruly hair across his face. He slowly peered through the small crack in his eyes before gasping and cursing simultaneously when he noticed he was standing on the roof of the school. A clear view of Dudley and his gang right below him as they circled around the school compound trying to find him.
A large grin emerged on his face, one which would be incredibly sore for the next few days, weeks even as the muscles in his mouth stretched beyond its capabilities.
"I'm Nightcrawler," Harry Potter whispered reverently.
The small bell chimed softly as he entered through the entrance of the public library. A kind, elderly woman looked up from her position behind her counter before offering a polite smile and returned back to her work.
His new ability, while incredibly useful and awesome in all aspects had one incredibly huge drawback. From what he had learned from the brief cameo of Nightcrawler in the X-men issues he had in his possession, he used a combination of his aerobatic grace and his teleportation abilities to wreck vengeance and awesome kick-punch combo breakers on his enemies.
Sadly, he had no gymnastics or any martial arts training whatsoever, and he doubted that Aunt Petunia or Uncle Vernon would shill out a couple of hundred of pounds on him for him to learn at the local community center.
This conclusion led him to the public library – the largest one in Little Whinging, in fact. Unsure of where to start, he stumbled into a random direction as he perused the books on the shelves.
An hour later, a dejected-looking Harry emerged from the rows of bookshelves. His search for any relevant information yielded no rewards. The martial arts and gymnastics books found in the shelves provided just an extended account of the history and a short introduction into the basics of the art.
The books however, stressed that adult supervision was advised and only a proper instructor would be able to impart these skills to others. Learning straight from the book would eventually cause a grievous injury or the improper understanding of the basics.
Checking his watch, he realized that it was already nearing four in the afternoon. Harry Potter winced as the phantom pain of Aunt Petunia's hand cuffing into the back of his head throbbed wildly. The public library was a bust – just goes to show how wrong the teachers were about the wonders of the library.
Maybe Conan the Barbarian could shed some light into his new-found dilemma.
"Conan…" The young mutant whispered under his breath as he observed Dudley and his crew messing around with a couple of neighbourhood kids. "What is best in life?"
He pushed himself off the soft grassy ground, releasing his hand-binoculars which he had positioned over his eyes, as he stalked his preys on all fours. "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women."
Incredibly, Conan the Barbarian did have some important life-lessons to impart on the off-times when his character wasn't killing and maiming other people.
Also, the trip to the library wasn't a complete bust. One of the recent knowledge that he had gained from the library had helped him considerably.
He had noticed a small article in the local paper about a martial artist claiming that by repeatedly reciting a phrase, it would eventually become in sync with your heartbeat; one could theoretically achieve a trance like state of grace and unlock one's hidden power.
After reading the adventures of Conan, he decided that coupled with his teleportation abilities (which he had accomplished just once more during this past week) and his warrior infused trance of grace and hidden power – Harry Potter, mutant extraordinaire, was ready to wreak havoc on the criminals of Little Whinging.
His first target was in fact, the Cobra Kais.
Those seven boys would soon feel the sweet stench of defeat as his not-so glorious form towered over their mangled and bruised bodies. His punches would be their salvation, and kicks to the crotch are like retributions from the Gods. He was vaguely aware that he had been there on all his fours for the past twenty minutes and his left leg seemed to be cramping slightly.
He repeated the mantra inside his head as he moved closer to Dudley and his gang. His heart began pounding wildly against his chest and he could hear his own heartbeat in his ears.
Perhaps the martial artist had been right? Never before had he felt this sensation swirling within him – blood lust, rage, grace and what he could only describe as his own hidden power. Harry broke out into a fast sprint as he closed the distance between his targets to a couple of metres. He felt something else take over his body; a strange yet familiar presence that was entirely different, but was in fact a part of his soul all along.
It was the spirit of a hardened warrior.
A loud, terrible war-cry shrilled throughout the small park as the young black haired boy screamed at the top of his lungs, "To crush your enemies! See them driven before you! And hear the lamentation of their women!"
Sadly, Ricky Thompson was caught unaware as the momentum from the sprint, and the fact that he was totally off-guard (or so what he tried to explain to the rest of the Cobra Kais) was knocked off his feet.
In what Harry could only describe as a totally bitching moment where time seemed to slow down with his every action, he cocked back his right arm, and with all the power his thin frame could provide, slugged the blonde haired boy right on the chin.
'That was their salvation.'
Perhaps another case of salvation was needed for this misguided offender. He followed it up with a clumsy yet swift left jab to the boy's stomach. He stood up almost immediately to offer a final parting gift…
From the Gods.
The blonde haired boy squeaked and moaned simultaneously as he grabbed his groin gingerly. Quiet sobbing would follow as the pudgy boy curled himself up into a ball, lying pathetically on the ground. His weak cries for his mother were largely ignored from the rest of the gang.
Harry dived to the side, avoiding a slow yet powerful punch that was aimed for his head. He relished this moment. The heat of battle where his every action could result in his death or something less severe, a rough beating.
In the heat of battle, one would forget all his thoughts – only survival instincts and blood lust prevailed in a true warrior's mind.
He cocked back his right knee slightly as he thrust the aforementioned knee right into the boy's nether region. The boy dropped like a sack of potatoes, clutching his groin weakly like his fellow comrade. Harry roared (or roared as much as a pre-pubescent child could roar) hoping that it would scare off several of the other members to warn them of their imminent ass-kicking.
Several of the Cobra Kais faltered under the rage-filled scream of Harry Potter. They have heard stories both from their parents and Dudley about the unstable mental conditions of the strange boy living in Number Four, Privet Drive but to see the local urban legend in the flesh and crotch-kicking their friends was indeed a sight to behold.
Therefore, it was a bit understandable that Steve Anderson of class 4-C felt a moist and damp stain in his pants. Many turned to look at their brave and stalwart leader, Dudley Dursley as he advanced through the slightly muddy battlefield of the park.
Some cheered, while some closed their eyes in relief as they knew their leader would help repel this fearsome warrior.
Dudley seemed to have forgotten about the neighbourhood kids that he was previously harassing as he released his hold on one of the boy's collar. In the confusion of the surprise attack devised by his cousin, both boys seemed to have run away from the fight, silently thanking their saviour and praying for his survival.
The pudgy boy glared hatefully at his freakish cousin. This was yet one of the many strange and freaky things that he had started in the past month. He smirked slightly when he noticed Harry straddling Bruce on the stomach and mercilessly raining punch after punch on the helpless boy.
Despite his hatred for his cousin, he had to admire his courage and spirit. So, it was with a deep sense of satisfaction and small amount of regret that Dudley Dursley sneaked up behind his cousin and reamed his meaty fist in the back of the boy's head.
Harry Potter was knocked out like a light, but despite his unconscious state, all of the Cobra Kais gathered together as they savagely continued the beating of the tragic and brave hero…
It was five months after the incident that things finally settled back to Harry's normal routine. The legend of that crazy boy of Number Four Privet Drive lived on even till this day. The repercussion of his herculean efforts was in fact the worst punishment he had received in his brief life here on Earth.
Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon bestowed upon him their judgement: five months of being grounded and a bit of a smacking around by Uncle Vernon who was smart enough not to leave a bruise.
This reaffirmed his beliefs that he would keep his new found abilities a secret from his relatives, sensing their hatred for anything abnormal. Even a bulldog dressed up as a police officer was considered to be abnormal by their standards. He was, in fact shepherded to and fro from home and school by Aunt Petunia these past few months, ensuring that he had no leisure time whatsoever in between after school ended.
Luckily, none of the parents saw fit to make a report to the police after a bit of coercion from Uncle Vernon. The matter was dropped, but the legend still lived on.
In fact, these five months had gone by swimmingly for Harry who chose to spend his time perfecting his instant teleportation abilities while it was not perfectly mastered up till the point that he could do it without a second thought – he believed that he had progressed far better than expected.
He was still able to teleport short distances on occasion, but it took a lot of willpower and concentration on his part. In a rather weird coincidence, he likened the ability to that of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.
'There's no place like outside the fridge. There's no place like outside the fridge.'
His ability was particularly useful for sneaking a couple of extra ham and cheese sandwiches during those hungry September nights where his relatives would only give him a meagre amount of rations for the duration of the day.
His brief foray of being an enraged demi-God warrior also boosted his confidence after a number of his schoolmates commented on his win over some of the bullies in Dudley's gang. The word badass had been tossed around a few times. He never tried using his warrior talents since the last time, cherishing his beliefs over the statement Uncle Ben had rasped out with his dying breath.
This fearsome power was obviously meant to protect rather than attack those who had slighted him, but that didn't mean he can't bring the might of vengeance on one or two of the bullies that kept giving him a 'swirly'.
And so, here he was standing in front of the local comic book shop, the Android's Dungeon, as he stared at the various assortment of paraphernalia from famous comic book and television icons through the glass display.
Slowly, he entered the store, his small sum of savings grasped firmly inside his pants pocket in his right fist. He observed the tall, lanky twenty-something year old man behind the counter who was observing him back. The two continued their little showdown for another ten seconds; each one hoping that the other would look away so that they would be able to establish their dominance over the other.
Harry's eyes twitched before pulling his gaze away from the man. There were some battles that men had to lose sometimes, and this was one of them. The browned haired man smirked victoriously. His dominance over the only other male in his shop established.
It was to be known that in his inner sanctum, he was the alpha nerd.
"Is there something I can help you with?" He drawled condescendingly.
Harry bit back the growl under his tongue or the sudden urge to go 'Conan' on his ass. "I'm looking for some comic books."
"Well, that would be the general idea of going to a comic book store, genius." The lanky man chortled slightly before nodding his head to a section of the store. "The rack's over there, and remember this isn't a library, so no reading. As the saying goes in my store: you read it, you buy it."
Harry firmly kept his hateful gaze on the ground as he marched towards the rack. He could feel the eyes of the store owner at his back, never wavering even for a minute as he scrutinized every detail of his new customer. For the next few minutes, Harry continued to peruse through the vast variety of comics displayed on the rack, occasionally picking out a few interesting ones and holding it under his left arm.
"Conan the Barbarian?"
Harry gasped slightly. He could hear the man's surprised tone directly behind him. In his distracted state of mind, he did not notice the man sneaking right behind him. It was truly at this time that Harry feared for his own innocence. He was about to teleport out of the store, but stopped himself when he heard the man's next sentence.
"Have you read last month's issue where Conan fought against the city of were-cats alone? That truly was an incredible read," The man gushed uncharacteristically.
"Uh no, I haven't."
"Well, I must recommend it to you. It's right here actually," He said as he tip-toed on the balls of his feet to reach the aforementioned comic book. "Sorry about before, it's just that sometimes these kids just have no manners whatsoever – bringing all their dirty hands covered in chocolate or peanut butter or whatever the hell kids are eating these days and messing up all the comics and merchandise."
As he passed last month's issue of Conan the Barbarian to Harry, he held out his hand. "My name's Dave, Dave Cooper. And it seems I was very wrong about you, my young friend. We have the exact same taste in comic books."
Harry took the offered hand and shook it slightly. "Harry Potter, I'm sort of new to the whole comic book thing, and I'm not too sure which is good and which isn't. Maybe you could help me out or something?"
"T' rivak," Dave said as he made some clacking noises simultaneously. Seeing Harry's confused reactions, he clarified, "That means 'of course' in Vulcan…you know, Vulcan as in the Star Trek series."
"Oh Good Lord, you've never heard of Star Trek before?" His eyebrows twitched uncontrollably before Dave took a few calming breaths. "Never mind that, have you heard about a series called 'Watchmen' before?"
Harry scrunched his face up in thought before shaking his head slowly. "I can't say I have."
"Well, it's a bit gritty and dark for a kid like you, but I'm sure you'd like it. I got this printed edition specially imported from America," Dave said as he held the thick soft-cover volume of the Watchmen series in his hands.
"Basically, it's an alternative history where costumed vigilantes run free in a lawless New York City." He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. "Interested?"
It went without saying that yes, yes, Harry Potter was interested.
From the Journal of Harry James Potter
I could hear the rhythmic breathing of the large man above me.
But enough of that.
I'm finding it hard to sleep these days ever since…ever since I read Watchmen. I'm seeing things differently now. Little Whinging comes alive at night, and I have seen its true face: ruffians loitering obtrusively around the park, smoking, vandalizing, talking loudly.
It truly is a place devoid of humanity.
I could feel the neighbourhood itself suffering under the weight from all those who seek to disturb the peace-
The loud snore from Uncle Vernon disrupts my chain of thought. That man is a menace to me and the entirety of Little Whinging. He reeks of arrogance – a foul stench upon the remaining good people of this town. Fat and surprisingly squishy in the middle, yet incredibly strong when angered.
This I know for I have been on the receiving end a few times.
In the distance, I could hear the strays knocking over the trash cans of one of our neighbours. It is Mr. Daglish's, if I am to believe correctly from the echo of the 'bang'. Another loud snort erupts from the buffoon upstairs.
He is awake…I'm sure of that.
The man bellows obscenities to the strays outside. I could vaguely hear the words 'daft…stupid dogs…work in the morning.'
I could already imagine the colour of his face right now; just a darker shade of violet. Technically, it does seem impossible for an actual human being to do that. Perhaps it would be better if he consults his physician. His blood pressure must be high again.
But enough of that, despite my obvious dislike for my uncle, he is right.
Tonight is a school night and I should get some rest. Tonight, the criminals run free in Little Whinging, but not for long because just for tonight, crime gets a stay of execution.
Also, I have a maths test tomorrow.
The Indian immigrant behind the counter stares at me suspiciously. He is a bit of a joke amongst the rest of the school kids in Stonewall Primary. The kids call him 'Apu'.
No one knows his real name. No one wants to know his real name. Thus, Little Whinging was stuck with 'Apu', the convenience store worker in one of the suburb's convenience store. It did not help his cause that he speaks with a stereotypical Indian accent.
"I am watching you," He whispers menacingly through narrowed eyes. His gaze is like a hawk observing its prey; waiting, waiting and possibly waiting some more to make its first mistake and then suddenly, the hawk strikes.
It explains why Apu had the highest shoplifting arrest rate in town. He's good. So good in fact, the local gang made it an initiation test for its newest members to steal something from the 'Indian with the crazy eyes'.
I make my way towards the Slush Puppies machine, trying not to feel unsettled, and keeping a cool façade to hide my nervousness. The sharp glint in his eyes promised pain and a black mark on my permanent record should I even think about stealing from him.
Suddenly, I could feel his attention shift towards another patron in the store.
"Hey, put that back down!" Apu shouted at the young teenager.
The messy haired teen curses under his breath before dashing towards the entrance of the store…towards freedom, but not before offering a quick and witty goodbye. Placing his palms together, he bows slightly and copies Apu's atrocious Indian accent. "Thank you, come again."
I fight down the urge to stop the shoplifter seeing as how this is almost exactly like the premise in Amazing Spiderman issue number one. But I am vaguely sure that the teen would not pull a carjacking right after shoplifting from a convenience store. Besides, Apu faced this sort of situation everyday so I decide to let him handle it.
Apu appears hesitant to leave the store, since I would be left alone and a small kid in a convenience store alone could wreak more havoc and destruction that some teenager who stole a Butterfinger. Instead, he settles for a warning.
"If you do come back here again, I can show you how thankful I am…and I am not that Indian character from the Simpsons! My name is Rohit!"
My walk towards the counter is more than unsettling. Apu appears to be cursing obscenities under his breath and occasionally speaking in short burst of Hindi. "You know, if we were in America, I could get a gun permit so fast, it would be mind-blasting."
I choose not to comment on his statement. Crazy eyes darts back and forth towards me and the money that I had placed on the counter. Apu takes the five pound note and holds it against the light. A brief smile of satisfaction emerges as the note checks out.
It is the first time that I've seen him smile. It is not pleasant. He rings up the transaction and hands me back my change.
The man before me truly is an embodiment of evil. My change is mostly in ten pence coins. I try to hide my glower; I succeed and pocket the change nonetheless. I turn my back on the Indian immigrant, sipping my Slush Puppies in the process.
Grape truly is the ultimate flavour.
One step before I reach the automated sliding door, Apu offers me one final goodbye. "Thank you," He whispers, the insanity evident in his voice. "Come again…"
I am scared. I am not afraid to admit it.
I patrol the dangerous streets of Surrey alone. It is all a part of my work as a vigilante, bringing fear and inspiration to the masses. However, these past nine days have offered me nothing.
I am bored.
Not once had I have the chance to pull out my improvised mask; fashioned after my fourth role model to date. Sadly, I neither have the money nor the idea where to buy a real mask. Instead, mine is a used onion sack bought by Aunt Petunia two weeks ago.
Strangely, I am glad that the streets remain safe.
I do not wish to wear my onion mask: the smell brings tears to my eyes, my vision is impaired even with my glasses, and it is unimaginably warm under the mask. Perhaps the most grating thing is that the decorative ink blot leaves much to the imagination.
This is not how I imagine being a vigilante would be like.
Where is the crime?
The unruly teenagers?
The only remotely interesting thing I have seen thus far is the dog carcass in one of the alleys. It is a Chihuahua. Flies and small rodents feasting on its remains. Like…like some…strange, I am running out of analogies.
Wait, I've got one!
Last night, a dog died in Little Whinging - possibly from starvation or disease. Someone somewhere knows why, but nobody cares. Nobody cares but me.
Not really an analogy, but I digress.
The so-called fine citizens of this town pass by the alley and look down on the poor animal partly in pity and revulsion as if saying 'Will anybody clean that thing up?'
And I'll have to stretch my neck up slightly, and whisper, 'No…'
Ten minutes later, a couple of dustmen begrudgingly haul the carcass away. I am left with nothing to do again.
Oh wait, never mind. It's almost four.
Better get home before Aunt Petunia suspects anything about my 'other' job.They still think of me as an innocent, shy little schoolboy. Let them think that for the time being because once someone has seen society's black underbelly, he can never turn his back on it. Never pretend, like all the others do, that it doesn't exist.
As I emerge from my hiding spot behind the dumpster, a homeless man stops me at the mouth of the alley. "Got any spare change?" He asks as he shakes the empty canned soup in his hand; the rattling of a few coins inside could be heard as it did.
My answer is brisk and steadfast. "No," I said.
His reply is barely audible, but the word echoes throughout the alley. "Cunt…"
My left eye twitches slightly. This place truly is going to the dogs.
A scream echoes in the late afternoon.
I rush towards the scream. My breath is ragged and my thighs are slightly cramped, but I march onward. I try to hide the giddiness of stopping my first actual crime.
I take another deep breath as I pull the improvised onion mask over my head and tighten the noose at the end of the bag. My eyes prickle as the lingering smell of onions overcome my senses. I stagger slightly and lean against a wall before righting myself after a moment.
Crime does not wait. Nothing does.
Together with Dudley's over-sized coat and the tattered fedora hat, my costumed vigilante ensemble is finally complete. I swerve and jump over the various obstacles in my path: a grey blob, another greyish metallic blob, an orange blob…
Strange, the orange blob just meowed at me.
I curse myself for not having a proper mask. Rorschach would not have had these kinds of problems.
I turn left at the next corner. Little Whinging is my town and I know these alleys like the back of my hand. Even so, I'm vaguely sure that the scream came from further downwards.
I sprint the last couple of metres and press my body against the brick wall of the adjacent building, slowly peering around the corner. I could vaguely make out a man in a trench coat, some sort of sausage-like brownish object in his right hand and vigorously jerking it back and forth while his left, holding the lapels of his trench coat open.
For once, I am glad that my vision is partly obscured.
"Say hello to my little friend!" The deranged man screams in a slight accent, thrusting his hips out wildly at the blonde woman who seems to be the target of his fixation.
I could imagine the raging and conflicting emotions that must be going through her head right now. Fear. Revulsion. Slight awe, maybe? I take pity on her as I finally make my move.
"Hey!" I try to mimic a deep scratchy voice from my position; slightly hidden from the view before I fully emerged from my spot.
The man screams hysterically at my figure. The menacing and towering form of my shadow really does bring out fear in the hearts of criminals.
The flasher turns around hastily to leave the alley, but I am already one step in front of him. With a sudden burst of concentration, I teleport right in front of him with a small crack, my right leg is already pulled back before I unleash the full force of the carried momentum directly on the man's genitals.
In the back of my mind, I inner-monologue, 'Must remember to get shoes clean'.
The man's face is frozen in several conflicting expressions. Most evident is pain. Second is also pain. Third is regret mixed with a brief pang of pain? Fourth is confusion coupled with…never mind.
It took what felt like an eternity when the man finally crumpled to the floor.
A hitch of breath catches my attention. I resist the urge to knock myself in the head as I finally realized we are not alone. I admit that I must look like a daunting figure as I tower over the broken man with my hands casually placed inside the side pockets of my over-sized coat.
"Who are you?" The woman whispers under her breath, "Or what are you…?" She added softly, as if unsure of her own words.
I smile at the pretty blonde woman, trying to convey that everything was alright before I realize that I still had my mask on and she can't see a damn thing. "It's best that you run along now. I'll handle things from here," I said in a deep gravelly voice, but still it comes out a bit squeak-ish.
She stares at me strangely, tilting her head to the right. "But you're just a kid or a really tall midget," She mutters.
I let the insult on my height slide. It is inappropriate for heroes to go beating up their victims especially their first. "Little Whinging gets dangerous this time of day. I think that it's best that you go."
She appears hesitant for a moment. "You never told me your name."
I curse internally. Technically, I am still undecided. My superhero name would stick with me forever, there was no re-do after all. I had to think fast.
"My name? Just –ah, call me uhm…the MisDeceiver," I proclaim with as much gusto as I could muster.
She snorts sarcastically. "That's kind of a dumb name, isn't it?"
I glower at her behind my mask. "Just go already!" I said harshly. The woman did not need to be told twice. Not many would want to stay in the company of a deranged flasher and an equally deranged masked vigilante.
But still, not even a thank you? The nerve of some people.
The man below me whimpers pathetically. "Oh God, just arrest me or something."
My voice takes on a slight hint of insanity and rage. "Men get arrested. Vermins like you get put down," I hiss just inches away from his face. I deliver another swift kick to his, what I suspect – already bruised genitals. The man gasps before passing out from the pain.
In the end, I smile. Joseph Heller would say that justice is a knee in the gut. I say justice is a swift kick to the testicles.
Mine is a lot better.
Suspected flasher found unconscious in alley.
Report: Jason Henderson
Little Whinging, Surrey. (LP) Police in Little Whinging were baffled today when they arrested a white male in his late twenties who was bound and gagged in an alley just off Castle View Avenue.
Chief Inspector (Ch. Insp.) James Gordon said in a news release today that the twenty-eight year old Franklin Epstein, a local mechanic with Parts R' Us, was caught via an anonymous tip. Epstein, who upon waking up to find himself in police custody, immediately confessed to crimes of outrage of modesty and indecent exposure.
Police are unsure at this moment as to the identity of this anonymous tipster, but Ch. Insp. Gordon offered a brief statement.
"We believe that Epstein was captured by a masked vigilante who goes by the name of the 'MisDeceiver'. We would like to remind the people of Little Whinging that vigilante justice can have dangerous consequences especially in a small community such as ours. Those who are caught practising vigilantism will be facing felony charges."
"As of right now, we are still looking into the case of this 'MisDeceiver' and hope that any citizen who has knowledge about this rogue offender to step forward or call us via the anonymous tip helpline."
Epstein who is expected to stand trial within a fortnight, is still under hospitalization after an attack on his person.
A small smile quirked on his lips as he finished reading the short article. This was the best news he had heard all week especially after Dudley burned his journal on Tuesday. Thankfully, his cousin didn't have the forethought to read it first. But he was a bit put out that he was portrayed as some dangerous, escaped mental patient.
'Eh…' Harry shrugged. He supposed that it was a drawback every masked vigilante faced in their lives sometimes.
Across from him, Uncle Vernon snorted derisively. "Some ruddy punk reads a comic book and he thinks he can fight crime on his own. My Dudders won't behave like some deranged lunatic, would he?" He said as he playfully punched Dudley on his arm.
The boy winced slightly, but never averted his eyes from the small telly in the dining room.
"He'll grow up to be a fine young man. Not like some idiots wasting their lives away in front of a screen reading a work of fiction. No Sir-ee Bob."
Vernon's comments were largely ignored as was the custom. Aunt Petunia would 'hmmm' and nod at the end of every sentence to appear attentive, and Dudley would grunt every few minutes to indicate that he was still alive. Harry would just keep his head down and be thankful that he was having breakfast today.
"I don't suppose you had anything to do with this?" The whale of a man leered at Harry suspiciously.
Harry gulped nervously. Never had anyone come close to knowing his true identity. "No sir," He replied. His hunched shoulders and fearful glances worked well with his portrayal of a meek little boy.
Uncle Vernon nodded in satisfaction. "Good," He drawled slightly before his eyes locked on to another article in the newspaper. "Oh look, Margaret Thatcher's resigning from her position as Prime Minister. Terrible news, isn't it Pet?"
A soft 'hmmm' was his reply. "Yes…just dreadful, dear," The woman muttered distractedly.
A grunt followed.
The only indication of Harry Potter's presence was the soft clanking of his utensils against the plate. Today really was an unremarkable day in the Dursley household, just like every other day.
Chief Inspector James Gordon sighed, pausing in front of the door to his office. He had been pulling the graveyard shift for the past few days with the sudden appearance of the mysterious vigilante in Little Whinging. He shifted the cup of coffee and newspaper to his left hand, unlocking the door with a small click.
"Hello, Inspector Gordon," A gravelly voice rang out as he entered his office.
With the instincts of a well-seasoned veteran of the force, James unclipped the gun holster and with a single, swift motion, pulled out flashlight with his other hand. The coffee and newspaper forgotten as it clattered to the floor with a small splash.
"Whoever you are, come out…slowly," The Inspector spoke in a clear, loud voice as he scanned the pitch-black surroundings of his office.
"I mean you no harm, Inspector. This is merely just a casual visit."
James scoffed sarcastically. "Really? I doubt someone would break into a police station, merely for a casual visit. Doesn't seem to be worth the risk, you know?"
He tensed slightly as the mysterious man laughed, adding to the tension that was palpable in the atmosphere of his office. "I don't have time for games right now so just come out now," He growled, seeing no obvious sign of the intruder anywhere.
Suddenly, out of the corner of his eyes, he caught the slightest hint of movement on the fire escape just right outside his window.
The short figure held his hands up in an attempt to pacify the anxious man as he fully emerged from the shadows from the corner of his office. James trained his gun on the mysterious man at all times, not daring to even blink for fear that the intruder would get the jump on him.
"Easy, we're all on the same side here."
James had to stifle a gasp as he fully observed the mysterious man, no…child in front of him. Could it be? Was the young child in front of him the masked vigilante that had been terrorizing the town? "B-but you're just a kid."
The masked vigilante laughed softly but James picked up the slightest bit of irritation in his laughter. "Appearances are meant to be deceiving, Inspector."
James could feel the stare coming from the boy, as if sizing him up, underneath his sack-like mask. "This town needs my help, sir. It cries out for protection and I will answer the call to save her." He pulled off his hat as he ran his hands over his mask, sighing in frustration. "It's a mess, James-" He paused and regarded the Inspector. "I can call you James, right?"
A small, hesitant nod was his only reply.
"James, you've seen the wretched underbelly of society– the corruption, greed, heresy, lust. The town, no…the whole of Surrey, even England is a mess. As an individual, I could only do so much to help."
"And what does this have to do with me?" James could imagine the smile under his sack-like mask.
"You're one of the few honest bobbies I've seen in this godforsaken town. In the end, you're the only one I could trust, James."
James rubbed the bridge of his nose wearily, pushing his glasses up in the process. "Look kid, vigilantism is a serious offence all right. Now, I'm sure if you just stop this madness, the courts would be more lenient on you. They might not even send you to juv-"
The boy seemed oblivious to his words as he cut in rudely. "I believe that there is a plot, a most grievous one."
James hung his head dejectedly, slipping his gun back into his holster in the process. "Okay kid, go ahead and tell me of this dastardly plot."
"I've heard rumours around Little Whinging that a small group of hoodlums are planning a crime spree during the coming months. They intend to strike in the cover of night and aim only to raid houses that are to their liking."
"That sounds likely enough. All right, I'll schedule around some things and maybe increase patrols around the neighbourhood."
The boy nodded in satisfaction. "My work here is done," He said as he turned to face the window.
"Hey, stop right there kid. I'm not going to just let you go. Like I said before vigilantism is a very serious off-"
The boy stopped short just right outside the window, his right leg perched up on the frame. His head turned slightly as he spoke, "Oh and by the way, James, nice job on catching the perp last week."
"Oy!" James screamed as the boy jumped out of the window. Without a second thought, he rushed towards the fire escape, intent on pursuing the vigilante. A small gust of wind ruffled his hair as he stuck his head out the window, trying to catch a glimpse of the boy as he scanned the surrounding area below.
Dark, grey clouds gathered above, the loud rumblings of a storm evident as the sky darkened in the late evening.
Just two stories underneath his office, he could see the vigilante scaling down the steps of the fire escape. "Stop!" James shouted over the din of the storm.
The boy looked startled for a moment before he turned his head upwards. Even with the mask, James could imagine the twisted smile emanating from the boy. "Goodbye, James. I'll see you around." He shouted.
With a sharp crack, the boy vanished.
Maybe it was a trick of light, maybe it was the streak of lightning that flashed throughout the sky at the exact same moment as the boy's disappearance, maybe it was the buzz of being over-caffeinated but one thing was for certain, the boy had vanished…right before his eyes.
In the past six months, rumours and stories kept sprouting out as the bored denizens of Little Whinging discussed the most talked about topic in town – the MisDeceiver.
'The bloke's about seven foot tall, I heard…crazy like a bat that guy is…blimey, my cousin told me the MisDeceiver could fly…nah, I heard he was short like a really tall midget…Some say that he could sense danger at every corner and appear out of thin air like a flash…'
Harry would be lying if he said that he wasn't slightly impressed with himself. He had a pretty good track record too. Just last month, he managed to foil an armed robbery at the local convenience store.
Okay, the guy wasn't really armed per se. Just his right hand made to look like a gun inside his coat pocket. Still, Apu was more than delighted at his arrival and subsequent rescue. He even offered a lifetime supply worth of Slush Puppies if Harry revealed his identity.
You know…for accountability and tax purposes.
Harry almost believed him until he saw the small disposable camera in the convenience worker's hands. To be fair, a lifetime supply of his favourite beverage was nothing to scoff at.
The public was split almost evenly on this debate. One faction was decidedly against this masked vigilante's action. Some even going out of their way to vilify the mysterious and enigmatic character. Others spoke on lengths about the good deeds the masked vigilante had brought to the town – a sharp decrease in crime and all around, teenage unruliness.
"So, what do you think about this guy, Potter?" One of his new classmates of Class 5-A asked from within the small circle the class had crowded around.
Harry laughed nervously, rubbing the back of his head as he mulled over the question. "Well…the guy must have some kind of mental problems if he goes running around looking like that."
The brown haired boy snorted. "Shows what you know, Potter. The MisDeceiver is the coolest thing to ever come out of Little Whinging. Look," He boasted with pride before opening the front of his jacket to reveal his new 'MisDeceiver' shirt. "I got this made at this shop near the fountain. It cost me a couple of quid, but it was totally worth it."
The small crowd oohed and ahhed as the boy showed his shirt to the rest of the class. From his desk at the back of the class, Harry Potter laid his head in his arms. It covered the small snort of laughter and irritation at his classmates.
If only these poor simpletons knew…
"Why does he get to follow us today?" The pudgy boy whined to his mother, tugging the sleeves of her blouse as they walked over to the family car. From the way Polkiss kept shooting dirty looks at Harry, the boy didn't seem all too happy with the arrangement too.
He schooled his features to something akin to awe and happiness as he took a seat next to Dudley behind the passenger seat of the car. To be honest, he wasn't too happy with going to the zoo either.
Harry Potter bit back a sigh. He had plans today; both the crime-foiling and Dave-has-a-new-shipment-coming-in-today kind.
Apparently, some things you just can't solve with a kick to the balls.
Dudley rammed his meaty fists against the glass display of the large boa constrictor inside the man-made habitat. The snake seemed to twitch ever so slightly, but remained sleeping atop the tree branch in the enclosure.
"Dad, make it do something."
Like a confused caveman, Uncle Vernon mimicked his son's actions, but it was to no avail. The large man scowled.
"Come on Piers, let's go see the other one over there," Dudley said as he all but dragged Piers away from the Boa Constrictor enclosure. His parents followed suit, leaving Harry alone to observe the sleeping snake.
"Must be annoying for you," He whispered. "All the idiots gawking and banging against the glass, demanding you do something like those no self-respecting circus monkeys that performed just now. Zoos are just prisons for animals."
Surprisingly, the snake's eyes fluttered open as it nodded in agreement.
Harry gasped. "Can you understand me?"
The Boa Constrictor nodded again.
"Fuck…what the hell am I?" He cursed under his breath. "It's like one thing after another."
"You are a speaker, human," Harry was amazed that he could understand it as well. "Very rare."
"A speaker? Do you know what I-" Harry was cut off as Dudley used his considerable inertia to shove him aside.
"Look, Piers look…the snake's awake." Dudley squealed excitedly. "Do something," He said as he cupped his hands around his mouth against the glass display.
From his position on the ground, Harry glared hatefully at the fat tub of lard that science was able to replicate into a human being.
'Damn fat ass…'
The lights in the reptile house seem to flicker on and off as a small malevolent wind started to swish his hair across his face. In the blink of an eye, the glass separating the snake and Dudley vanished causing widespread panic and confusion as the snake escaped from its enclosure and Dudley falling into the enclosure.
Harry cursed under his breath as a shrill cry rang throughout the Reptile House. Aunt Petunia blubbered wildly as she stared at her son who was now trapped inside the enclosure. Polkiss, who was by her side, flailed his fists wildly in an attempt to shatter the glass that had now magically re-appeared.
"Thanks…" The snake appeared to hiss in a Mexican accent.
"Wait!" He shouted over the din as chaos erupted in the Reptile House but the snake continued to slither towards the exit. Cries and screams of 'snake' were heard as people made their way towards the exit.
From the corner of his eyes, he saw Uncle Vernon glancing around the area wildly as if trying to find him. Deciding that he did not want to incur the wrath of his uncle right then and there, he blended in with the crowd as they made their way to the exit.
As Harry Potter escaped with the crowd, he contemplated the ramifications of his two new-found abilities.
In the past two months, he had been actively trying to explore the limits of his new-found abilities. Practising telekinesis was easy enough and he believed he had made remarkable strides just by levitating a coin five feet above the ground. That was the extent of his telekinetic ability, but still, in a couple of few years or so, imagine the possibilities.
His other ability to talk to snake was a bit hard to practice, seeing as how snake sightings in Little Whinging were uncommon or totally unheard of. It did not help that the only snake he had encountered ever since his release from the confines of his cupboard, had fled from him.
Maybe it had to do with the fact that Harry half-screamed, "What the hell am I?" to the poor snake.
Who knows right?
Then, there was the explanation of the new abilities that keep sprouting out. Not that he was complaining or ungrateful or anything but it would be nice to be able to understand why he was different from the rest of the population.
The theory that he was a mutant fitted in almost perfectly, but it did not explain why or how he was getting these abilities.
Was it inherent?
Did his parents have abilities before they died in that fateful car crash? Was he the next step in human evolution?
These were the questions he wanted answers to. Harry had discarded the idea of him being a being from another planet or universe. Thinking back, it did sound sort of silly to think so. Yep, he was a mutant of sorts…or the next step in the evolution scale.
That was a more rationale conclusion.
Somehow in his distracted state of mind, his feet took on a mind of its own as he made his way towards the downtown area of Little Whinging. Harry blinked owlishly as he found himself right in front of the Android's Dungeon.
Harry Potter shrugged. Maybe Dave could help sort out the thoughts in his head.
A small chime alerted Dave to the presence of a new-comer in his store. He turned to greet the new patron who had just entered his store, the greeting died in his mouth when he noticed the sheepish expression on Harry's face as he stood at the entrance. "You're awfully bold to come here after I don't even hear a peep from you these past two months," Dave said, the bitterness evident in his voice.
"I was grounded these past two months. Besides, I'm here now aren't I?"
Dave's eyebrow rose slightly at his statement; semi curious as to his actions that might warrant being grounded for two months. "Tell me it was something good at least?"
A smug smile crept onto his lips. "Set a snake on my cousin…allegedly of course."
The man behind the counter smiled brilliantly. "Oh, I can never stay mad at you. You're the only friend I have anyways," Dave added under his breath.
"Great. Glad that's settled. Anything cool I missed these past two months?"
"Apart from new issues, there's really nothing that stands out these days. A new action figure of the Flash came out last week. Interested?"
Harry shook his head and made his way towards the rack. "Any new superheroes?" He asked as he flipped through the pages of an old copy of Amazing Spiderman issue twenty.
The man snorted at his question. "Heroes don't grow on trees, Harry."
"It was worth a shot. Uhm, how about a hero who could use telekinesis, teleport, speak to snakes and re-grows his hair?"
From behind the counter, Dave regarded him suspiciously. "Is there something you're not telling me?"
Harry appeared hesitant for a split second before shrugging his shoulders. "No, just curious is all. That would be a pretty interesting thing to read, wouldn't it?"
Dave smirked knowingly, as if figuring out his deep, dark secret. "You're writing some sort of comic book, aren't you?" He laughed victoriously. "Give it up, Harry. It's written all over your face."
The black haired boy deadpanned. "I'm not writing a comic book, Dave."
"Right," The man drawled disbelievingly before tapping the tip of his nose with his forefinger. "Well, to answer your question, the closest hero that even comes close to those abilities would be Rogue from X-Men," He added a not-so-subtle wink at the end.
Harry scrunched his face in thought as he tried to recall the character. "Isn't she that woman who could suck someone's powers just by touching them?"
Dave nodded sagely, wiping an imaginary tear from his cheek. "I have thought you well."
"Any X-Men issues that-"
"Her first appearance was in Avengers Annuals issue number 10 or if you're looking for something different, try Uncanny X-Men number 158, 171 or 182. There's also another series in the ori-" Dave rattled on in a single breath before he was promptly cut off by Harry.
"Never mind, I'll just look around for it later."
"What do you mean later? You do intend to buy it, don't you?" Dave asked, narrowing his eyes in the process.
Harry smiled in what he hoped was an attempt at appearing charming and roguish. "When have I ever bought anything here before? We're mates right?" He paused as he extended his hand out to the man. "Dave, you are a good friend."
"I assume you're using that as a reference to the scene between Rorschach and the Nite-Owl." Dave scowled slightly. "I hate it when you quote Watchmen."
"So-" Harry elongated the words as he spoke. "Can I?"
The man nodded begrudgingly. "Fine but when you're older, I expect monetary compensation or something similar in return."
"I wouldn't have it any other way, Dave," Harry Potter replied distractedly as he searched the large rack for Uncanny X-Men number 158.
A small, satisfied smile tugged on the corner of his lips.
It really was a bad week for one Harry James Potter. Maybe for some people in Little Whinging in general.
"Oh, man…" The teenager moaned. "I'll stop vandalizing public property, but please stop hurting me."
The MisDeceiver lowered himself down to ground, just inches away from the face of the bawling teenager. "You did ask what a 'hertz doughnut' was," He hissed in a deep, gravelly voice.
"God, please mate, don't kick me anymore. I'm sorry I said you were short."
He removed one of the black gloves that he had recently purchased from his right hand, slowly bringing it to the face of the miscreant.
"Seriously! What are you doing, man? Stop!"
The hand impacted the face with a soft 'smack'. An agonizingly uncomfortable minute followed as the masked vigilante continued to place his palms against the cheeks of the browned haired teenager.
"You are just so weird."
He cursed softly under his breath. His experiment to test his new ability was a bust. This was his fifteenth attempt and yet, all of them showed absolutely nothing. The masked vigilante slowly stood up, his menacing and daunting figure towered over the teenager.
The MisDeceiver's words would forever change the life of Michael Bluth. "Stop wasting your life. Go home, study and become a doctor or something."
Michael gasped loudly as the MisDeceiver vanished right before his eyes with a small crack. The rumours of the MisDeceiver were true. "Bitching," He managed to rasp out despite the pain.
"Look Dad, Harry's got a letter," Dudley exclaimed from his position on the dining table before he reached over with his meaty little hands and yanked it away from Harry's grasp.
'The stupid little shit,' he thought. "Hey, give it back! That's my letter."
"What's Hogwarts?" The pseudo-caveman asked dumbly. As he tried to tear open the envelope, the equally meaty but larger hands of Dursley senior stopped him and yanked the letter away from Dudley.
The two adults huddled close together as they peered into the contents of the envelope. As they read the letter, their nervous and anxious eyes kept darting back and forth between Harry and the letter.
"What does it say?" Harry asked, hoping to keep the eagerness out of his voice.
For maybe the first time since he remembered, Uncle Vernon broke out into a small smile.
The truth, however, was not amissed on Harry: the beads of sweat dripping down his forehead, the tightness of his jaw as he clenched it angrily, the slight tinge of purple that was creeping onto his face, and the way Aunt Petunia's eyes kept rounding between her husband and her nephew.
They were incredibly nervous about the contents of that letter.
"Well, what is it, Dad?" The whiny voice of Dudley could be heard from behind him. Apparently, his own son was just as eager to learn about the mysterious letter.
"Oh, it's nothing boys. It's just some junk mail from the uh, Hogwarts Publishing House. You can bet it's one of those ruddy marketers trying to sell off their inventory with some ridiculous sale." The large man chortled nervously.
Harry's eyes twitched. In all his experience dealing with the various types of scum of Little Whinging has given him an almost sixth sense to realize when someone's lying.
"I want to see it." There was a hint of edge in his voice as he spoke.
The Dursley's looked taken about at the sudden change in their nephew's normally meek and soft-spoken personality.
"Now, listen here boy," Uncle Vernon barked. "I. Said. It. Was. From. A. Publishing. House. Just. Junk. Mail. Is. All." He began ripping the letter into small, equal pieces as he punctuated each word.
"You dumb fuck," Harry hissed in what he now referred to as his alter-ego voice. It took all but a moment for Harry to realize his mistake as he slapped his hands over his mouth. His alter-ego really was having some adverse effect on his home-life.
The pamphlet given out by the local Bobbies had been right; vigilantism really did have dangerous consequences.
The glare from his uncle threatened to inflict some serious damage on him but Harry would have none of it as he stood his ground.
"A week. No meals for the entire week." The anger was evident in his voice. "Get inside the cupboard, now!" They could feel his anger just bubbling under the surface, threatening to explode if his nephew dared to challenge his statement.
Harry knew it was a dead end. He did not wish to risk the ire of the Dursley's anymore than what had already occurred. In the end, he did have to live with them until he was older. In his current state, he could not survive in the outside world even under the guise of his alter-ego.
He begrudgingly marched towards his cupboard where he dropped like a sack of potatoes on the lumpy and uncomfortable mattress. The door to his cupboard slammed shut under the powerful force of uncle Vernon. He could hear the tell-tale signs of the pad-lock to his cupboard being closed with a small click.
For the umpteenth time, he was locked inside his small prison.
As time dragged on, Harry Potter kicked himself as he laid there sulking about the mysterious letter. Maybe a quick romp as the MisDeceiver would cheer him up.
"I love Sundays. Do you know why, Dudley?" Uncle Vernon asked as he took a small sip from the cup of tea in his hands.
His son shook his head dumbly instead choosing to focus his attention on some toy-contraption his father had just bought for him.
"Is it because there's no post on Sunday?"
Uncle Vernon shifted his attention to his nephew as the boy handed over the tray of the various assortments of biscuits and crumpets. He nodded happily. "Precisely, Harry. It's because there is no post on Sund-"
The words died in his mouth as a barn owl swooped down on the large man and dumped the familiar letter on the man's head. All the occupants looked up in shock as they trailed the flight path of the owl with their eyes until it settled itself next to its fellow breathens on the telephone line just outside Number Four, Privet Drive.
As was accustomed in the past few days, uncle Vernon tore up the letter mercilessly as Harry looked on in longing.
"I had just about enough of those ruddy owls!" His uncle half-shouted at no one in particular. "If even another owl comes swooping into our home, I'll take out the old Winchester and-"
The letter impacted directly on his uncle's face yet again. Harry had to bit the inside of his cheek to stop himself from laughing.
"Pet, get me my rifle," Vernon said in an eerily calm voice.
"Dear, we're already the laughing stock of the street. Can you imagine what the neighbours might say if you pulled out a rifle and started shooting at those owls? Even the police would-"
The man ignored and brushed past her as he made his way towards his gun safe upstairs. When he reached the bottom step of the stairs five minutes later clad in his hunter gear, the insanity and hysteria was evident in his voice. "There's been an owl infestation in Privet Drive as of late. Call the others, Pet and tell them to bring their own bullets." He said as he swung the rifle over his shoulder.
Those letters truly had been a blessing in disguise. Even if he could not read the letter, the constant stream of owls and letters had made his uncle loopy. Harry Potter wiped an imaginary tear off his cheek.
It was beautiful.
"For the love of Merlin, Albus, do you not see how a personal visit would have been more beneficial for young Harry from the start?" The Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts screeched angrily. "You've heard the report from Arabella. His uncle is clearly unstable – shooting at the school's owls with th-that metal contraption muggles use to kill one another."
She was clearly panting from her rant. "Can you imagine what would have happened if he turned that thing on Harry? The public outcry of his own uncle shooting the Boy-Who-Lived, it would be di-"
For his part, Albus took it like a man or more accurately, that of a meek ten-year old as he slouched on his comfortable leather chair, shoulders hunched, head bowed, eyes downcast, occasionally mumbling apologies and excuses.
"What did you do when I said that they were the worst sort of muggles?"
Albus mumbled something under his breath.
"I put him there regardless of the fact that they were the worst sort of muggles."
Minerva nodded, clearly pleased with his answer. "That's right. It's always the same with you Albus, with your half-baked schemes and stupid little plans."
"It is for the best, Minerva. Surely, you understand the implications of-"
"I grow weary of your excuses, Albus. I'm going there personally and I'll be damned if you try to stop me."
Albus coughed into his hands. "Actually Minerva, I was thinking that perhaps Hagrid could make the visit himself."
"Be damned, Albus!" The feisty woman screamed, the Scottish brogue evident in her voice as she turned to leave, leaving the aging Headmaster alone in his office.
Harry stared at the woman standing in front of the doorstep, his mouth hung open slightly, gawking at her ridiculous fashion sense. The woman's strange pointy hat did not help either.
"We're not interested in new-age medicine, lady," The black haired boy who eerily resembled a much younger James Potter said, half-hidden behind the door. "We're kind of busy here at the moment."
In the background, Minerva could vaguely hear the quiet sobbing of whom she guessed was Petunia Dursley. She coughed politely as she stopped the door from closing with her hands. "Actually, I'm from Hogwarts Scho-"
"Hogwarts? As in the Hogwarts Publishing House?" The young boy exclaimed before letting out a low whistle. "Wow, you guys are pretty bold coming here especially after you destroyed our family with your aggressive marketing campaign."
"You guys made my uncle loopy," He said, drawing circling motions near his ears. "He's in jail right now after shooting at your delivery owls. Oh, and Grunnings, the place where he works at, just fired him yesterday too and since the family is in debt, we're basically screwed."
Harry tilted his head to the right slightly, scrunching up his face in the process. "It must have been hard to train owls to deliver the mail, isn't it?" He added softly under his breath.
"Well, I apologize but that is not the reason why I'm here-"
"That's it? You're sorry?" Harry asked before he narrowed his eyes in suspicion. "And what do you mean that's not the reason why you're here?"
The woman's eyes twitched. "If you'd just let me explain. I'll-"
"Explain? Do you know we have to move out of Privet Drive and stay at Aunt Marge's place? That woman hates me and so does her stupid dogs. Besides, I'm already living inside a cupboard. I can't imagine what I'll be sleeping in next…maybe a kennel or something."
"You live inside a cupboard? Do you mean that one?" She asked as she pointed to the cupboard under the stairs.
"What's it to you, lady?"
"Get me your aunt right now," The woman said through gritted teeth.
"I don't know. Aunt Petunia's been sort of unstable ever since uncle Vernon got arrested. She keeps mumbling something about your company in her sleep." The black haired boy shrugged. "Eh…suit yourself. Aunt Petunia, someone from Hogwarts Publishing House is here to see you!"
A scream full of rage, desperation and loathing was his only reply as his aunt stormed down the stairs and glared at the woman in the strange dress who was standing in the doorway.
"You," She hissed angrily.
"Petunia," Minerva hissed back, equally angered with the actions or inactions of the woman in front of her.
As Harry stood in between the little showdown of glares and sneers, he shrugged. "I'm going out, Aunt Petunia."
"No!" She half-screamed as she dragged him back inside the house by his collar. "This is entirely your fault to begin with. We took him in – from the goodness of our hearts, gave him shelter, food and stability and what has he done to repay us? By putting my husband in jail? Ha!" She snorted in derision.
"What the heck is your problem?" Harry muttered under his breath as he massaged the sore spot in his neck which Petunia still had her hands around.
Minerva narrowed her eyes at the horse-like woman. "Enough!" She hissed angrily as she pulled out her wand.
Petunia screamed hysterically as she stared down the wand pointed straight at her face. "For the love of-" She peered around the witch, warily looking at the surrounding houses in fear of their neighbours seeing this unnatural abomination. With surprising strength that one might not be expected from her wiry frame, she pulled the both of them inside and slammed the door to her forfeited home shut.
She leaned forward on her knees, panting slightly, glaring at the unwelcomed witch in her home. "Enough…" She grounded out. "Do what you want with the little cretin but know this, we swore that we'd put to stop to all that unnatural business when we took him in. So if he does decide to attend that freaky school of yours, we will not put up with him any longer!" She said firmly, daring the other woman to object.
"Will anybody tell me what the, uh, I mean what's going on here?" Both women shifted their attention towards him and Harry tried not to balk under their stern gaze.
The strange woman's eyes softened and her anger deflating when she turned and knelt in front of him. "Have you noticed anything strange occurring before? Something you couldn't explain? Maybe when you were angry or scared?"
"You're a wizard, Harry."
Harry's face scrunched up slightly, his mind blanking for a second. "I'm a what?"
"You're a freak, boy," Aunt Petunia interjected, cutting off Minerva's impending explanation. The only sign of anger from the Deputy Headmistress were the slight twitch of the eyes and the unnoticeable clenching of her wand.
Harry remained oblivious to his surrounding as he contemplated the strange woman's words. A wizard…he was a wizard?
For almost eighteen months, he had been searching for answers about his abilities. It did make sense, sort of. The way Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia seemed to abhor anything to do with magic of any kind. Uncle Vernon had even freaked out once when he found Dudley watching the 'Wizard of Oz'.
"So does that means I can do-" He paused, licking his lips nervously. "-magic?"
The woman nodded once, confirming his theory.
It was so simple and explained everything that had been occurring around him. "Oh, come on!" He half-screamed to the shock of the others in the room, raising his arms and flailing it down in frustration.
Why didn't he think of that?
Side Note: That's the end of 'A Gritty Reboot'...I had fun writing this story especially the masked vigilante part and for those of you who remain oblivious, Harry was channeling Rorshach which to me is one hell of a fascinating character. Kudos to those who managed to point out Commissioner Gordon from Batman. I just had to have him inside this story.
Well...that's the end, I think. A sequel? Maybe, maybe not? Either ways, Like it or not, reviews are appreciated, and no, I will not put up the anonymous review thing. There seems to be a rash of shameless product placement in reviews nowadays and I have enough Viagra spam in my email without it turning up in one of my reviews.