December 21, 1991
"You're fat." Dudley told his cousins once they were in the car to go back home.
"You're one to talk." Harry said with a shrug. He and Iris finally hit a healthy weight for someone of their size.
"Watch your mouth boy." Vernon shouted. Harry whimpered an apology. The car had yet to leave the train station.
"Vernon it hasn't even been five minutes." Petunia warned him, "It's the holidays. Please be nice."
The twins tried to stay silent for the rest of the ride home. Iris and Harry packed lightly for the trip. They each packed a week and half worth of clothes and left their wands locked inside their trunks at school. They only brought the warmest of their non-attention grabbing clothes.
"Why are your hats different colors?" Dudley asked out of nowhere. He examined his cousins closely and couldn't hide his curiosity. Iris had green and silver on while Harry had gold and maroon. They were twins. He thought they would have similar tastes.
"We're in different houses." Harry answered with a shrug. It was better to give a quick answer then not answering at all.
"What are houses?" Dudley wanted to hear more about his cousins' school.
"They're-" Harry was given no chance to expand. Vernon interrupted with a loud growl.
"Enough. No more of that bull shit unless you want to spend the holiday in your cupboard." Iris bit back a whimper and shook her head when she caught her brother's eye. They couldn't spend the holiday cooped up in their room.
"Room." Petunia said. "Vernon, they have a bedroom now."
"Whatever." He grunted.
"Why did you w-want us here anyway?" Harry asked. His voice was a low, cautious whisper.
"Your aunt insisted that you come home to cook." Vernon replied. "No more questions."
The family arrived at Privet Drive soon after. Harry and Iris quickly exited the car, straggling behind their aunt and uncle once the door was opened.
"Go to your room and stay there." Vernon growled once everyone was in the house.
"You-you can't just l-leave in the room the whole h-holiday." Harry stammered. "They'll know if you don't feed us. Pr-Professor Snape said someone would be sent to get us if w-we aren't b-back when the holiday is over." The courage to speak up shocked him, but the bravery would dwindle quickly.
"Give me your wands then." Vernon grunted, cornering the twins against a wall. The twins' faces were white as ghosts. It seemed as though they were in trouble no matter what. Had they made a mistake in returning home for the holiday?
"We left them at school, sir." Harry looked his uncle in the eyes. He took a deep breath and glared, "So we wouldn't get into as much t-trouble while here."
"Empty out your pockets then." Vernon narrowed his eyes. They had to be lying or hiding something at the very least.
"We don't have them." Harry grimaced, "We only took clothes and schoolwork with us for the week."
"Watch your tone with me, boy." Vernon spat in Harry's face. The boy whimpered, shrinking away from his uncle. The wall was too close though. His uncle blocked the way to the door and the stairs. They were stuck.
Vernon raised his arm up, ready to give his nephew a smack across the cheek for his attitude. He was just about to release the blow when his niece suddenly caught his attention.
"NO." Iris shrieked and stood in front of her brother, "They'll ask q-q-questions." She gasped out. Her legs were shaking uncontrollably. "Br-bruises w-won't heal b-by the t-time we g-get b-b-back." She took a steadying breath and stood up taller, protectively in front of Harry.
Vernon slowly lowered his hand. He appeared to be thinking, silently musing about Iris' words. In the end he decided to let the twins go with a warning.
"Not if they aren't visible." He whispered darkly, glaring down at Iris and Harry. "Now go to your room. You're not to leave until I call for you."
The twins bolted upstairs to their bedroom once their uncle stepped aside. They flung the door open and were shocked to find that their room had changed. The shades were drawn, stapled shut. Harry went to put the light on and discovered that the bulb was missing from the one on the ceiling and the small lamp on their dresser. The worst discovery was the disappearance of the second bed.
"Th-there's only one bed." Iris wailed and dropped her bag to the ground. "Why is there only one?" She sat on the edge of the bed and wrapped her arms around her legs, pressing her chest to her knees.
"I d-don't know, Rissy." Harry looked down at his sister, "At least we h-have one. Come on; let's get our things put away, okay? We c-can get our homework started after." Iris looked away from him.
"It's not fair." She cried out, "Why do they need to treat us so-"
"Shush Iris." Harry grasped his sister's chin to make her look at him, "We have a bed. Be thankful there is one. They c-could have locked us in the cupboard." He released her chin and picked up her bag, offering it to her. "Let's put our clothes away."
"Okay." Iris frowned, rising to her feet, and began to unpack. The room was as clean as they had left it before heading to school. A thick layer of dust could be seen on the shelves. Once their clothes were neatly stored away, the twins began to search for a safe place to hide their textbooks. The moving images would earn the worst of punishments if found.
"Potter!" The scream echoed throughout the house. Iris' books toppled to the ground, her hands having released them in surprise. Harry appeared rather shocked. He and his sister stared at each other, their jaws agape.
"Wha-what did we ..?" Harry gasped, "C-come on I-Iris, we can't k-keep them waiting." Iris picked her books up and lightly placed them on the bed. She slipped her hand in Harry's and tugged him out of the room.
They rushed down the stairs, just stopping on the last step to pause and listen, trying to see how bad things would be once they entered the kitchen.
"They're taking too long." Vernon grunted. He and his family were sat in the sitting room.
"Give them a chance to breathe, Vernon." Petunia cooed, "They're probably unpacking their things.
"They need to hurry up. If I wasn't in a good mood I would take away a meal per each minute they take in getting down here."
"Vernon there's no need to do that. We need to feed them so they aren't asked questions when they return to school at the end of the holiday." Petunia narrowed her eyes at her husband.
"POTTER." Vernon screamed. The twins hopped down from the step they were on and rushed into the sitting room. Both twins looked shaken, panicky, clearly expecting the worst from their uncle. The uncle sneered at his niece and nephew.
"We." Vernon stressed the word, "Are going out to see the lights display at the zoo." He narrowed his eyes at Harry and Iris. "Go to your room and stay there."
"No." Petunia cleared her throat, "Let them come."
Iris and Harry did not move. One twin stared at their aunt, jaw agape, and the other timidly eyed their uncle. Neither of them knew what to do.
"The car is new Petunia." Vernon scoffed, "They'll soil it. Besides, Dudley doesn't want them to come, right son?"
"They will not." Petunia did not give Dudley a chance to answer. He looked just as surprised as his cousins. Harry and Iris were now exchanging nervous looks. The conversations as though they were some type of vile creature were normal. This though... This was new.
"Fine. But they won't be eating at all tomorrow. One day of no food won't kill them." Vernon grunted. "Get in the car now."
Vernon pulled into the zoo's packed parking lot. The animal exhibits were closed off but the paths around the buildings and between the exhibits were opened, illuminated by hundreds of twinkling Christmas lights. A lit up Santa Claus and a banner that read Happy Holidays greeted the visitors. The family stayed quiet while Vernon got out, needing to get tickets for them to enter the zoo.
"Why did they have to come, Mummy?" Dudley asked when his father took longer than five minutes to return. "Why couldn't Malcolm or one of my school friends come instead? What if they set a snake out again?"
"They've been behaving well." Petunia sniffed, "And they've never been to see them. We'll be outside, Dudders. There aren't any animals in the exhibits."
"Never been to see them?" Dudley asked, turning to look at Harry. "You two must be really bad if dad didn't want to take you."
Harry thought it best to not answer him. Staying quiet, he glanced out the window, eyeing the colorful lights that were ahead of them.
Vernon returned a few minutes later. He flung open the car door and grabbed his scarf, grunting something that sounded like 'Let's go.'
Iris exited the car and walked around to the side where Harry was getting out.
"L-look at our l-luck." She whispered, "I didn't think w-we'd b-be back here so soon."
Vernon waited until Petunia and Dudley were out of earshot before turning to acknowledge the twins.
"You two best behave." He hissed at the twins. Iris and Harry whimpered and took a step away from him. "I don't care what your aunt says." He continued, "Anything close to a repeat of what happened over the summer and you will be stuck in that cupboard until New Years with no meals whatsoever."
"Y-y-yes sir." Harry gasped out. He wrapped a protective arm around Iris, "We'll be on our best b-behavior."
"Now move before your aunt thinks I dumped your bodies in a ditch somewhere." Vernon's tone made Harry and Iris shiver. They hoped to never find out if that was a threat or not.
"That one looks exactly like Father Christmas." Dudley pointed to a set of lights in front of him. "Doesn't it, Iris?"
Iris tilted her head to the side and raised her shoulders in a shrug. She knew little about Father Christmas; only knowing that he never left anything for her or Harry because they did not know how to behave. One year their uncle even went as far as giving them coal for Christmas.
"What about you Harry, can't you see it?" Dudley asked when Iris didn't give him an answer.
"Yeah sure… I guess." Harry shrugged.
"Do you think you'll actually get a stocking this year?" Dudley prodded Harry's ribs.
"Ow." Harry gasped, "I d-d-don't know, Dudley. Maybe if U-Uncle Vernon thinks we've b-behaved well enough."
"We n-never g-get any-anyth-thing from him, d-don't get your hopes up." Iris squeaked out. She rolled her eyes at Harry, "W-Why sh-should we tr-try if we'll j-just b-be disappointed in the end?"
Harry was too shocked to answer. His sister had a point, but they knew they could not suddenly stop trying to gain their aunt and uncle's affection. It would lead to more beatings than it was worth in the end.
"Mummy I'm cold." Dudley whined upon deciding he was done talking to his cousins. "I want hot chocolate."
"We can all get some at the end of the trail, Dudley." Petunia smiled at her son, "We can walk faster if you want to get some soon."
"Okay." Dudley grinned, "Hurry up Potters, we're getting hot chocolate."
Vernon groaned when Dudley announced that.
"Now they'll be expecting some." He grimaced.
"I-I d-don't mind the cold, Uncle Vernon." Harry informed his uncle, "You d-don't need to get Iris or me anything."
"They're only wearing jumpers Vernon." Petunia muttered, "You wouldn't let them wear their coats."
"Why are you suddenly being nice to them?" Vernon asked in a harsh whisper. Iris and Harry paused, hanging back from the Dursleys. They planned to eavesdrop at a safe distance. "They aren't our children so they shouldn't be a priority. Christmas is a family affair. They are no family of mine." He spat in the direction of the twins.
Harry and Iris bit down on their lips. Iris could feel tears welling up in her eyes. She blinked rapidly, not understanding why she was upset by her uncle. The redhead accepted that Vernon despised her and her brother after he burned her but the words stung, making her heart hurt. Harry looked at Iris and bit his lip, knowing his emotions must have shared the upset look Iris had. They knew Vernon hated them since they arrived in the home, but his words officially proved that there was no emotional attachment to the two of them.
"We're staying at school next year." Harry spoke in a dull tone, "And every year after."
Iris nodded, slipping her hand into Harry's, "W-we can m-make Christmas sp-special then."
Petunia stood outside the door to the twin's bedroom later that night. She assumed they were sleeping since the light was off and no noise could be heard. Slowly, she cracked the door open a bit and peeked her head in. It was pitch black.
"This isn't good." She whispered to herself. Why was the window shut?
"And I- SHHH." She heard Harry's voice and the sound of the bed creaking, the children must have moved to the side of the bed furthest from the door.
"Why are you two in the dark if you're still awake?" She opened the door a little more to let the light from the hallway stream in. Harry and Iris were pale, staring at her with frightful looks.
"Th-there is n-no light bulb, ma'am." Harry whispered. "I di-didn't w-want to tell U-Un- V-V-Vernon."
Petunia closed her eyes, gulping back what would have been a sob. This wasn't the way she imagined her family to be. Never in a million years would she have expected to have her sister's kids in the house with her. It was funny, before Lily being a witch, how she imagined them in neighboring houses and maybe even enjoying each other's company. It was all gone now.
"Why haven't you told anyone at school about how we – he treats you?" She was curious, knowing full well that they had yet to hint anything to a teacher.
"He threatened to kill us." Harry looked away from her. He promised not to tell his aunt but he was taught to be truthful to the family when asked questions. "We don't have anywhere else to go."
Petunia took a deep, steadying breath. She needed to think. There had to be some type of way to get the children to safety before their uncle snapped.
"Why don't you two go to bed?" She asked, "We have a long day tomorrow. I need help with making dinner for tomorrow night. Roast turkey, vegetables, and the sauce for it, and a few deserts."
"Okay Aunt Petunia." Harry and Iris spoke at the same time. The aunt turned away from them and was about to shut the door when the redhead bolted out of bed and wrapped her arms around her aunt's middle.
"Thank you Aunt Petunia." She whispered and darted back to bed. Petunia tilted her head to the side and shut the door. She went into her bedroom and decided that she needed to take a shower to have some alone time to think about how she could get Vernon to learn to love the children. If things didn't improve by the summer she would have no choice but to alert someone. They deserved better than what they had.
December 24, 1991
Creating and serving Christmas dinner seemed to run smoothly until Vernon arrived home from work early. Petunia, against her husband's wishes, prepared a light lunch for the twins. No one expected cheese and two pieces of toast to upset Vernon.
"Eat up." Petunia whispered, "And don't let anyone else know I gave you food." Vernon grounded the twins and said they were not allowed to eat. Petunia was fine with it until she could hear the twins' stomachs growling.
"I need to switch the laundry over." Petunia muttered. "Hurry up though. I don't want Dudley to know I fed you."
The twins had their meager meal at the counter. They were each eating a few pieces of cheese when Vernon burst through the front door. Everything would have been fine if Harry was not standing in front of the sink.
"What are you doing?" Vernon tossed his suitcase to the ground and entered the kitchen at a speed that was highly unexpected from a man of his size. He grabbed Harry by the collar of his shirt and raised him off the ground, growling, "I said you weren't eating today."
"I'm s-s-sorry." Harry stammered.
"Stealing food from my family... How dare you." He smacked the boy with enough force to send his glasses flying across the room. Iris swallowed the piece of food that was left in her mouth and went to grab them, not noticing that Vernon stuck his foot out to trip her, making her fall to the ground. Iris whimpered. Harry's face stung.
Their uncle kept a tight grip on Harry, and turned, ramming his foot into Iris' stomach.
"They won't notice anything under clothes." He sneered, "No aunt here to protect you... Get up girl, go upstairs." Iris cried out in pain as she stood up, her arms wrapped protectively around her chest.
"Hurry up." Vernon growled. Iris moved as quickly as she could, feeling the cold glare of her uncle on her back as she made her way upstairs to her room. Harry stayed still, only struggling when his uncle dragged him up the stairs. He was still light enough for his uncle to easily lift him.
Vernon reached the top of the stairs and turned into the smallest bedroom, shutting the door behind him and threw Harry to the ground. He pulled the bed until it blocked the doorway, closing off the only entrance and exit to the room. Iris and Harry were trapped.
"I told you not to eat." Vernon whispered through gritted teeth. Harry and Iris bowed their heads, staring at their feet. "I told you not to eat and you have the nerve to disobey me?" He glared at Harry, then Iris, "I keep you in my home and give you a room and a bed and you disobey me. Ungrateful bastards, just like your parents." Iris winced. She never enjoyed listening to what Vernon thought about her mum and dad.
"Mummy and daddy are a touchy subject now that you know they weren't killed in a car crash, huh?" Harry and Iris were visibly uncomfortable by now. "Tell me, Iris," he grabbed his niece by her hair and forced her to look him in the eye, "What lies did that school tell you about them?"
Iris shook her head. No. She wasn't going to play his game. She wasn't going to allow him to keep poking until he got an answer.
"Still not talking?" He tightened his grip around her hair and tugged her up to her feet, "Let's see if this makes a difference." He made her whimper. "Not good enough." Vernon sighed and dropped her to the ground beside her brother. Iris, out of instinct, curled up into the fetal position and shielded her head. Harry kept his eyes closed until a blow from his uncle made him stumble over his sister.
"I didn't mean to hurt you." He frowned when Iris made noise. "I'm sorry."
"I said no talking." Vernon punched his nephew in the stomach until he became winded, staring at him with a wounded expression. "Poor baby, upset that your sister hasn't got as much attention? Let me fix that."
Iris curled closer into herself, trying to become as small as she possibly could. Her uncle kicked her in the back and made her cry out, biting down hard on her lip.
"Shut up." Vernon kicked her again. "And keep your voice down. We don't want your aunt to know about this." The torment of switching between each twin continued until Vernon eventually grew bored. "Stay up here. No noise. No meals tomorrow and only long sleeved clothes." He moved the bed back in place and slammed the door shut.
Iris and Harry stayed still, whimpering softly to themselves.
"My glasses are still downstairs." Harry whispered, cautiously pressing his hand against the door handle. "Do y- He d-didn't lock the door."
"D-d-don't you d-d-dare." Iris hissed, "Look wh-what he d-did." Harry's face had a bruise in the shape of Vernon's hand. The twins' abdomens would be covered in bruises and in pain for the next couple of days.
"I can't see Iris." Harry grumbled.
"So what?" Iris rolled her eyes, "It's d-dark in here anyway."
Petunia re-entered the kitchen ten minutes after leaving to do the laundry. She returned to an empty kitchen with her nephew's glasses on the ground, stooping to pick them up.
"Harry, Iris?" She called out, frowning when neither of them answered. Vernon entered the room soon after and slipped his arms around her waist. "You're home early."
"How was your day, love?" Vernon pressed his lips to her neck.
Petunia stilled, turning her head to press a chaste kiss to his cheek, "Good. The twins prepared dinner for tonight. I was going to have them make dessert next but they seemed to have disappeared."
"They must have gone upstairs." He shrugged.
"Yeah, they must have." She said, stepping away from him, "I'm going to bring Harry his glasses."
"No love, I'll do it." Vernon grunted, "You need a break. Why don't you sit down and relax for a little while?"
"No, I'll do it." Petunia insisted.
"No, I insist. Go to the living room Petunia."
"You did something to them, didn't you?" She glared at him. The glasses on the ground should have been the first warning. Harry never let his glasses off his face. "Vernon I- I can't believe you." Petunia growled and stormed out of the room and up the stairs. She took a steadying breath, not wanting to venture inside her niece and nephew's room.
Knock, knock. She raised her hand and hit it against the door, knocking a little louder when no one answered.
Harry bolted up in bed and bit on his lip to keep from crying out. His chest hurt. Wincing, he approached the door and cautiously opened it a crack.
"You left your glasses downstairs, Harry." Petunia spoke calmly, "I thought I'd bring them upstairs for you."
Harry opened the door more, squinting when the light came in.
"Did your uncle do that to you?" Petunia frowned when the boy shook his head. The handprint was there, clearly bruised on the boy's left cheek. "Here," She sighed, "Take your glasses."
"Thank you." Harry whispered. He avoided his aunt's question and went to step back into the room.
"I'll talk to him." Petunia murmured. Her eyes seemed to glisten with concern. "I'm going to have to talk to him."
"Please don't." Harry spoke up, "He might hit you instead." He disliked the idea of his uncle using one of his actual relatives as a punching bag. "He only slapped m-m-me and Iris." He lied, "That was it. He said it was only a r-reminder to be on our best behavior tomorrow."
Petunia frowned, looking down at her nephew. She refused to justify her husband's actions, but she didn't want things to get any worse for the children.
"I expect you to inform me the next time he lays a finger on you." She whispered. "Understood?"
"Yes ma'am." Harry forced a smile. "I'll b-b-be sure to tell you."
"Good." Petunia answered him, "Now go to bed. I expect we'll all be up early tomorrow morning."
Harry and Iris had a restless night. Falling asleep while in pain was almost impossible to do. They would doze off and jerk themselves awake a few minutes later, wincing and whimpering when the movement spent pain along their body.
Christmas morning proved to be disappointing the moment a fist slammed into the bedroom door, waking Iris and Harry up before the sun rose.
"Get up, Potter." The harsh voice of their uncle whispered from the other side of the door. His fist collided into the door once more.
"We're up." Harry groaned while tiredly rubbing his eyes. He gently prodded his sister until she sat up, stifling a yawn with the back of her hand.
"Get out here now." Vernon barked. Iris and Harry slipped their jumpers on over their heads and made sure their pants fully covered their legs. They did not want to worry their aunt.
The twins tugged the door open and blinked up at their uncle.
"Come on." Vernon grunted and pointed downstairs. "Get breakfast cooking and help lay Dudley's gifts out." He shoved a large bag into Iris' hands. "Now."
They bolted downstairs. Harry headed for the kitchen while Iris darted into the living room to go about setting Dudley's gifts out in order by size; just like every year. She was surprised to see that one of the rectangular boxers had her and Harry's names on it. Vernon must have been drinking while labeling gifts. That or something unpleasant was awaiting the Potters.
She stuck it toward the back of the tree and exited the room to help her brother cook a breakfast of croissants, pancakes, bacon, and spiced porridge.
"He g-gave us s-something." She spoke in a soft whisper, not daring to look away from the milk and oats she was mixing. "I d-don't know what though."
"Brilliant." Harry grumbled. "As long as it isn't Dudley's old underwear again…"
"EW!" Iris exclaimed and burst into laughter. She continued from where Harry left off once she stopped, "Or d-dog food or something wonderful that was actually meant for Dudley. I bet he was d-drunk."
"I hope it isn't dog food." Harry shuddered and turned the bacon over. The two were silent after that. It was awfully early in the morning. The Dursleys wouldn't appear until once they were close to done with breakfast.
Dudley was the first Dursley to enter the kitchen. He approached Iris and peered into the pot of porridge. His nose crinkled disgustedly.
"What is that?" He demanded and slammed the cover down.
"Porridge." Harry answered for his sister.
"But I want chocolate." Dudley whined.
"Shh." Harry gasped, not wanting to upset Dudley more than he appeared. "I can put pieces of chocolate in the pancakes."
"Fine." Dudley pouted, "Do it now."
"It'll be ready soon." Harry left the stove for a moment to grad a bag of chocolate chips from the cupboard, planning on placing them in the next batch of pancakes.
"I'm hungry now. Why aren't they done?" Dudley cried out and took a seat at the table.
"Oh shut it." Iris muttered under her breath. "At l-least you're allowed t-t-to eat." She was saved hearing his retort since Aunt Petunia entered the room.
"You three are up early." Petunia announced, settling into the seat beside Dudley.
"C-c-coffee or tea?" Harry cast a glance in his aunt's direction and returned to flipping over the chocolate chip pancakes.
"Just tea." Petunia murmured. "I assume your uncle will want coffee."
"Harry wouldn't let me put chocolate in the pancakes. He didn't put enough in. Make him do it again." Harry froze, his body tensing while he waited to see what his aunt had to say.
"I'm sorry Duddikins." Petunia sighed, "I'm sure you'll get plenty of sweets today."
"I want more." Dudley whined. His complaints were ignored. Iris and Harry sped up, quickly getting breakfast on the table. The morning needed to be tantrum free.
Vernon entered the kitchen just as Harry was taking the tea kettle off the burner. Iris was setting the table. The uncle sniffed at the air, surprised that nothing was burnt.
"Happy Christmas." Vernon addressed his family once he joined them at the table.
Petunia and Dudley murmured a greeting to him. The twins finished laying the table before relocating to the kitchen. They each grabbed a glass of water, as usual on their days of no food, and slowly sipped at it, hoping to soothe their stomachs.
"The porridge is lovely, Petunia." Vernon complimented his wife. Harry lowered his cup and bit into his lip to keep from saying anything. He knew not interrupt yet he despised being treated like he and Iris did nothing to make the meal.
"Indeed." Petunia smiled and murmured, "I'm glad I taught them my mother's recipe. My grandmother passed it down to her."
Iris looked over toward the dining room when Petunia mentioned her family, her eyes alight with wonder. How many other recipes had her family made? Did her mom know how to make them too? Maybe her mother would have taught her to make them once she felt she was old enough to cook. The questions would likely never earn an answer.
"Wonderful." Vernon grinned and stuck some bacon in his mouth. The family ate in silence after that, only to be interrupted once Dudley decided he was finished.
"Can I open my presents now?" He asked loudly, smirking over at his cousins.
"Yes, of course son." Vernon answered. He snapped his fingers at Iris and Harry, "Boy, girl, clean this up. I expect everything spotless before Dudley finishes opening his gifts."
"Yes sir." Harry sighed. He and Iris waited until the Dursleys moved into the living room before moving into the living room.
"Ex-Excuse me, sir?" Harry stuck his head into the living room, gulping when the family silently stared at him. "D-d-do you w-want to save the leftovers?"
"No. Just throw them in the trash and stick a layer of soap over it." Vernon huffed.
"Yes sir." Harry grimaced. There was no way of saving a part of the meal now that he asked about it. He sighed and began to clear the plates from the table, cautiously carrying them back to the sink. Iris went about clearing everything else from the table. The job was done within ten minutes with the two of them washing and drying. Once done, Iris did the honor of sticking dish soap on top of the food in the trash bin. The two grabbed their water glasses and sat on the kitchen floor, drinking until their uncle decided to call them to the living room.
Harry grabbed a plastic bag from underneath the sink before he and Iris entered the room. The twins stayed in the doorway, looking questioningly at their uncle.
"You two were apparently good enough to get something." Vernon smirked, giving the box Iris set aside to Harry.
"Th-thank you?" Harry raised an eyebrow at his uncle.
"Well don't just stand there." Vernon huffed, "Open it."
Harry paled, his fingers trembling as he ripped a piece of paper from the box. Once the paper came off, he passed the box to his sister and stuck the paper in the trash bag he grabbed. Iris eyed the box, then her uncle, the box again, and finally opened up one of the sides. She tilted the box and frowned, quickly forcing a neutral look, holding a paperclip, a five pence piece, and a coat hanger in her hand.
"Thank you sir." Harry forced a smile, cheekily playing the role of the grateful kid. "I've always wanted a coat hanger."
Vernon stared at Harry and Iris. They were beating him at his own game. No tears this year, no whining, and no hurt looks. They were seemingly happy.
"Happy holidays." He grunted, "Now clean up the living room."
The rest of the holidays were uneventful until the day before Harry and Iris had to return to school. The light was replaced in the room but it was barely bright enough to keep the whole room lit. They took their time with getting their things together in order to avoid the Dursleys until it was absolutely necessary.
The bruising was mostly gone with the exception of a few marks remaining on each of their stomachs. Vernon hadn't touched them since they first arrived back. A visit to the bedroom before they left was not surprising. He arrived around ten that night and only gave them a stern talking to and a light shove, promising that the summer would be hell if he heard anything about them causing problems while at school. They were told not to mention anything about how he pushed them around unless they wanted worse consequences once they came back.