Disclaimer: Harry and all the people you recognize belong to JK Rowling. Everyone that you don't belong to me.
Harry sighed and looked up at the brick building that had been his school for the past four years. He was nine and was beginning his new year at Frasier Primary School. The school gleamed with the preparations that had been made for the new year. The grass was freshly cut, all of the gum had been scraped off the sidewalk, and a hand painted sign welcomed all of the students to a new year of learning. The kids looked fresh too. Everyone had a new haircut, new school clothes, and a new backpack. Harry looked down at his cousins' too big hand-me downs and sighed.
All around him kids were greeting each other after being apart for three months for the summer holidays. With no one to say hello to, he trudged up the path towards the school. Dudley came up behind him, panting as he walked up the sidewalk to the big metal doors. He shoved past Harry and went to find his friends. Harry sighed and pushed his taped glasses back up his nose. Dudley's gang was not only the reason his glasses were broken, they were also the reason he didn't have any friends. Sure he was anti-social, but they beat up anyone who tried to be nice to him.
Hoisting his backpack up Harry entered the school and found his way to his new classroom. He looked around. There were five rows of desks and a long counter in the back laden with books, colored paper, markers, and other school supplies. The carpet was faded in places and stained with glue and paint. The walls bore cheery signs reminding kids that "Learning is fun!" and to "Be Responsible!" Dudley was already there with his friends Piers, Dennis, Malcolm, and Gordon. Piers turned his ugly rat face towards Harry and glared at him. Piers had always hated Harry and the feeling was quite mutual.
The bell rang. Kids continued to talk and laugh until a young thin woman with wavy brown hair and brown eyes walked into the room. She set her purse and a stack of papers down on the teacher's desk and turned to smile warmly at the class.
"Class please take your seats", she said smiling. Chairs scraped and backpacks thumped as everyone found a place to sit.
"I'm Miss Anderson and I'll be your teacher this year. I'm very excited to have a chance to get to know each and every one of you! This year will be all about learning new things. I'm going to learn how to be a teacher for the first time and you all get to learn so many wonderful things about math, science, literature..." Harry couldn't help but smile back at her. Although her speech sounded a little rehearsed (which in fact it was) she seemed very nice and not at all like the past teachers he had had. Plus, if she was new this year she wouldn't know him as the kid that turned Mrs. Lammers' wig blue. All of his other teachers really hated him for that, even though he would never be able to explain how he did it. The truth was that lots of unexpected and unexplainable things happened around Harry and he couldn't figure out how. There was the incident with the revolting sweater Aunt Petunia tried to make him wear. He didn't know why it kept shrinking when she tried to make him wear it, only that it did.
But this year was going to be different Harry was sure of it. He was going to keep his temper under control, not let Dudley pick on him on the playground, get good marks, and maybe, he hardly dared to hope for it, make a friend. All his life the only thing Harry ever really wanted was a friend to talk to. He sighed and turned his attention back to Miss Anderson who was taking attendance.
"Polkeiss, Piers?" She called out.
"Here," Piers answered slouching over in his seat. Harry could tell he was already bored. Piers really hated school
"That's a nice name Piers. Is it French?" She smiled at him, trying to get him to be a little more interested in the class. He stared at her stupidly.
"Uh, I dunno". She nodded and looked back at the list. "Potter, Harry?" She called. A few kids sniggered in the back row. Harry ignored them; he was pretty used to getting laughed at. "Here," he answered looking up at her. "It's nice to meet you Harry. Tell me, would you like to sit closer to the front so that you can still see the board in case you forget your glasses?" Harry blushed knowing that his glasses must look ridiculous because of all the tape he had to use to keep them together. "No thank you ma'am, this seat is fine."
She continued to call role, asking each student in turn a question to try and get to know them better. When she had finished attendance Miss Anderson made another little speech, this time about the rules of the classroom. She talked about how bullying wouldn't be tolerated and neither would cheating, talking without raising a hand, or violence. Harry heard Dudley snort in the back row. He would undoubtedly be breaking all of those rules in the first week. She pulled a stack of paperback books out of the closet by the door.
"Alright class I thought we would start the year off with a favorite book of mine, James and the Giant Peach". She quickly handed out copies to everyone. Harry looked at the cover. Standing on top of a very large peach was a boy (he could only assume that was James), and very large centipede, ladybug, and grasshopper.
"Why don't we begin the book together?" The teacher asked brightly. She looked at the seating chart before saying, "Dudley why don't you start reading the first page out loud?" Dudley stared at her. Harry knew that Dudley hated to read more than anything else in the whole world and his parents supported that. Uncle Vernon never encouraged him to read at home. He always said, "Why read when you could just watch the movie instead?"
"I don't really want to," he said smirking.
"Well," she said looking up at him, "I wasn't really giving you that option. Page one if you please." The class waited for what would happen next. Dudley had to train new teachers to his way of doing things. Everyone knew that teachers couldn't make Dudley do anything he didn't want to. They knew the drill. A teacher would try, Dudley would give them lip, he would get in trouble, his father would get involved, and teachers would never punish Dudley ever again. That was what always happened. He scowled at Miss Anderson and she smiled back.
"What's the matter Dudley? Don't you like reading out loud?" He shrugged and she nodded understandingly.
"Tell you what. How about I start the book and when you know the story better then you can read some, alright?" He shrugged again. She was new and so she didn't get it. He would never read out loud, he would never answer questions, and he certainly wasn't going to write anything up on the board. But she didn't understand that and so instead she cleared her throat and opened the book to the first page.
"James and the Giant Peach, chapter one. 'Here is James Henry Trotter when he was about four years old. Up until this time, he had had a happy life, living peacefully with his mother and father in a beautiful house beside the sea. There were always plenty of other children for him to play with, and there was the sandy beach for him to run about on, and the ocean to paddle in. It was the perfect life for a small boy. Then, one day, James's mother and father went to London to do some shopping, and there a terrible thing happened. Both of them suddenly got eaten up (in full daylight, mind you, and on a crowded street) by an enormous angry rhinoceros which had escaped from the London Zoo. Now this, as you can well imagine, was a rather nasty experience for two such gentle parents. But in the long run it was far nastier for James than it was for them.'"
The class was transfixed. She had the perfect voice for reading out loud. It was smooth and soft but accented all the right words and held an audience captive. Her intense love of books and reading was obvious. She had stopped reading because a girl named Veronica Brox raised her hand.
"Yes Veronica?" Miss Anderson asked.
"Okay wait I'm confused. So a real rhino ate up James' parents?"
"Yes, an escaped rhinoceros, from the London zoo".
"Like ate, as in like swallowed?"
"It is a little bit isn't it? Oh well, perhaps you would like to keep reading for us?"
"Oh, um, okay." She cleared her throat. 'Their troubles were all over in a jiffy. They were dead and gone in thirty-five seconds flat. Poor James, on the other hand, was still very much alive, and all at once he found himself alone and frightened in a vast unfriendly world.'"
Harry, who thought he was really going to like this book, was finding that, so far, he really didn't. It reminded him that, although his own parents hadn't been eaten by a rhinoceros, they too had died when he was young leaving him all alone in a vast unfriendly world. It didn't take long for the other kids at school to start calling Harry James on the playground and asking him if he had any peaches for lunch. Harry, who didn't know that his father's name had also been James, didn't find it funny at all. He was unhappy that the other kids had found a reason besides his baggy clothes and taped glasses to make fun of him. When Miss Anderson figured out that the kids had nicknamed Harry James after the book character, she felt bad for him. The poor kid seemed nice and very polite. She wondered why no one wanted to be his friend.
AN: Thanks for reading my story so far! I know it may start a little slow but it gets better I promise. Keep reading and I promise that by the time you get past chapter 5 you'll be hooked. As usual any reviews are highly appreciated :)