Sweet Child of Mine
13 October, 1986
"Mum! Look what I made." Dudley announced as he ran to the door of the classroom where his mother had come to pick him up. At age six, Dudley Dursley had doubled in height and tripled in width. His body wobbled as he walked, holding up his drawing. He and Harry were both in grade one at the local primary school, forced into the same class due to there only being one grade one teacher. Next year though, Petunia was going to get them separated. The classes were smaller for grade two.
"Oh Duddy, this is lovely!" Petunia smile, looking at Dudley's family portrait, a picture containing one round person with dark hair, one short round person with blond hair, and one stick figure with blonde hair and a dress. There was absolutely no sign of the other little boy who lived in their house in Dudley's picture. In fact, if Petunia didn't pick up both of the boys every day, the teachers wouldn't have known until parent-teacher conferences that the two boys were related at all. "This is going right on the refrigerator when we get home, popkin."
Dudley beamed with absolutely pride at this, his blue eyes shining, cheeks pink with delight. "Can I get an ice cream on the way home too?"
"Of course, my darling. You're such a good boy." Petunia doted, patting Dudley fondly on the head. "Let's get your jacket and bag." She helped Dudley roll up his picture and put it in his knapsack before holding out his jacket for him. He put one arm in and then the other before turning around and letting his mother zip it up for him. "Harry!" She called across the room to where Harry was delaying, still coloring in his picture.
Harry had actually had a nice time at school today. He didn't particularly want to go home yet… Petunia always came a few minutes earlier than the bell so that she didn't have to deal with the rush of trying to get Dudley ready among a bunch of other mothers. She always went to the PTA meetings though, getting to know the other parents and setting up play dates with the proper people of Little Whinging. Dudley was already friends with a little boy named Piers Polkiss whom Petunia and Vernon approved of. Piers came from a lovely, normal family over on Magnolia Crescent. "Harry! It's time to go."
Harry sighed and looked down at his picture. He had drawn it the best he could, not really knowing what his mother and father looked like. He'd had to close his eyes and think for quite some time before deciding to give his mother red hair and make his daddy look like a taller version of himself. After a few more minutes he'd given his mother green eyes, whilst his dad's eyes were still undrawn.
"It's absolutely lovely darling. Daddy's eyes are hazel." Lily said from behind him, leaning down and concentrating really hard on the brown crayon beside Harry. It rolled just a tiny bit and Harry grabbed it up, marking his father's eyes with brown. There. That was much better. Lily sighed, closing her eyes. Even little things like that drained her, but she hadn't been able to stand watching Harry struggle. How unfair it was that her son shouldn't know the color of his own father's eyes?
She watched Harry seem to ponder for another moment before he took up the red crayon and drew a tiny lighting scar on his drawn version of himself and then smile, giving himself glasses.
"Harry, I said it's time to go now." Petunia stated, irritated. She reached down and took the crayon from Harry, blinking when she saw his picture. He had gotten his parents spot on… but that was impossible. He'd only been a baby when they'd died, and she'd never shown him a photo or anything of the sort.
"Yes, Aunt Petunia." Harry rose from his seat, rolling up his picture and carrying it over to the door where his own bag sat, Dudley's old baby bag. He put his picture carefully into the blue, teddy bear covered bag, and donned his jacket. He fumbled with the zipper for a moment, biting his tongue and finally getting it while Petunia tapped her foot. He picked up his bag and off they went.
"What kind of ice cream would you like, Diddykins?" Petunia asked, holding onto her son's hand while Harry trailed along behind them, his feet dragging slightly. At the mention of ice cream, he perked up ever so slightly, but then his face fell again. He had learned a few years ago that when Dudley got something, it wasn't always likely that Harry would receive a treat as well, and he had long since stopped asking if he was going to get a treat too. His aunt and uncle had made it very clear that he was not to ask for things very often, and he most definitely was not allowed to ask questions, especially if it was something that involved his parents.
"I want a knickerbocker glory." Dudley stated simply, smacking his lips at the very idea. He knew that that kind of ice cream was the type you had to sit down to eat, and he always enjoyed having a treat when Harry did not. It was something that made Lily and James rage inside, but there wasn't much they could do about it.
"Alright, popkin." Petunia smiled and they crossed the street, Harry running to keep up now. Petunia had stopped holding his hand to cross when he'd hit age four, saying he was old enough to look out for cars.
They entered the diner, Harry trudging along behind them and sitting down in the booth across from Petunia and Dudley dejectedly. He set his bag down and rested his head up against the window, watching the way the cars went by outside. It was a busy town.
"Hello! And what can I get you today?" The waitress asked as she came by, smiling and holding her tiny note pad in one hand.
"I want a knickerbocker glory!" Dudley announced, leaning over his mother, beaming up at the waitress as though he were a little fat cherub.
"Alright, sweetheart. One knickerbocker glory! And what can I get for you, hunny?" The waitress asked, smiling down at Harry who blinked, looking up in shock.
"I…" Harry faltered, glancing at Aunt Petunia who sighed.
"He's shy and he isn't feeling well today." She pondered for a moment, gazing over the menu for a moment. "How about a small ginger ale? Would you like that, Harry? Something to calm your stomach."
"Yes." Harry nodded, shocked that she'd ordered him anything at all. Normally when Dudley wanted ice cream they would stop at a stand that sold it out of a window and Harry wouldn't get anything. But here, in the diner, it would look bad if Petunia hadn't ordered him anything. So she'd made up a lie. Harry didn't feel ill at all. But then, a ginger ale sounded ok, even if it wasn't a knickerbocker glory.
"Aww, poor little guy. Alright then." The waitress smiled. "And what will you have, ma'am?"
"Just a small coffee please. With cream."
"Sure thing! I'll have your drinks and ice cream out in a moment. Here, you boys can have these while you wait. And you can take them home with you as well." The waitress set down a couple of paper placemats with pictures and connect the dot and crossword activities and then two packs of crayons. Harry's eyes went wide and he opened his crayons, excited. A box of his very own! He was going to keep them safe in his cupboard, hidden away from Dudley with the few toys he had in there. And now he could finish his picture properly. Maybe if he could get some tape, he could put it up on his wall. For now though, he used his crayons to color at the picture the lady had given him.
"Alright, here we go." The waitress returned, setting things down. "One knickerbocker glory for this little man. A ginger ale for the other one. And a coffee for the madam. Is there anything else I can get you?"
"No thank you. This is fine." Petunia stated politely and the waitress left. Harry stared at the slightly yellow tinged bubbling liquid in his glass, complete with a plastic straw. He sipped at it and giggled, enjoying the way the bubbles felt going into his mouth. Lily smiled, seated beside him, glad that he at least liked what he'd gotten, even if it wasn't as nice and elaborate as Dudley's. That boy was digging into his ice cream with relish, scooping it up and shoving spoonfuls into his mouth, getting sticky and messy in the process.
Harry, noting that Dudley would probably be able to scarf down his ice cream quickly, decided to drink his ginger ale a bit faster. It was hard because it was icey and cold, but he knew that if he didn't, Dudley would want it as soon as the ice cream was gone. He sipped fast, his mouth exploding with bubbles, pain shooting into his head, but he was not about to let Dudley get the one treat he had ever had. At least, as far as he could remember.
Watching her son drink down his soda so quickly made Lily sigh with sadness. She knew exactly what fresh, icey soda could do to one's head. If the brain freeze wasn't enough, then the amount of bubbles doing down his throat would hurt at this rate. But she could understand why he was doing it. Dudley was already eyeing Harry's soda as he scooped up the last bits of ice cream in his tall dish. Harry's straw crackled with air, signaling the end of the glass.
"Mummy, how come Harry gets a soda and I don't?" Dudley asked after a moment, staring at the dregs of soda in Harry's glass.
"You can have a soda as well if you'd like, sweetie." Petunia said, sipping at her coffee. She raised her hand in the air so the waitress would come over.
"Could I get another soda for my son? What kind did you want Duddy?"
"Root beer." Dudley announced, looking excited. He was getting two treats today. That was more than Harry was getting. It always made him happiest when Harry did not get as much as him.
"Alright, one root beer! And did you want any more coffee or ginger ale?"
"No, I think that'll be it, thank you." Petunia nodded and then patted Dudley on the head as he went at his root beer, grinning around his straw, eyes trained on Harry rather menacingly. Harry ignored him the best he could though, relishing the feeling of having a treat, but not quite enjoying it as much now that his stomach was starting to churn.
They left the diner, headed for home, Harry clutching his stomach. He hadn't felt well for most of the day and drinking his ginger ale too quickly had finally pushed him over the edge. Lily noticed. James noticed. Dudley noticed. Petunia, however, was much too caught up in Dudley to pay attention to the poor little boy following after her. Finally, when they were heading up the front walk of number four, Harry reached out and tugged at Petunia's sleeve.
"What is it, boy?" Petunia asked, turning her head around to look down at him. Harry's face was very pale, and were it wasn't pale, it was tinged green.
"I dun feel very…" Harry was unable to finish his sentence as the contents of his stomach spewed forth, getting all down the side of Petunia's jacket, dress, and left shoe. She let out a scream of horror.
"Harry Potter!" She groaned. "Just look at this mess. Go on, get in the house and out of those clothes." And she walloped him round the head, much to Lily's rage. "And then you'll come back out here and hose off the walk. Disgusting." She marched into the house and upstairs to change her clothes.
Harry, tears in his eyes, followed. He stopped at his cupboard and gathered a new shirt. His pants hadn't gotten hit. He changed in the cupboard, whipping his mouth clean on his soiled shirt and then carrying it into the small laundry room off of the kitchen where he then placed it into the sink. He turned on the water to rinse off the sick as he had seen Petunia do countless times when Dudley had over eaten to the point where he'd been sick. Once he'd gotten the puke off of it, he placed it on the hamper to be washed with the rest of the clothes.
Still feeling quite ill, the little boy went out front, got the hose, and sprayed the front walk, cleaning it off and then heading back inside where he went to lay down in his cupboard. His stomach rolled uneasily as he changed position, tugging the door shut and staring up at the ceiling, light filtering in through the cracks of the door and making the cupboard dim. He closed his eyes for a few minutes before reaching up and tugging the light string. It burst into life and he sat up, digging into his bag for his drawing. He pulled it out and unrolled it, admiring his handiwork.
"Where are you?" He asked staring sadly at his drawn portrait of his family, namely his parents. He was almost positive that they looked like the most perfect parents in the world, even if they were just crayon people.
"I'm right here baby." Lily choked out, leaned up against the wall by Harry's feet. James was dangling above, half of his body in the staircase, unable to find enough space in the cupboard for all three of them without going through Harry. It always pained them the most when they found their hands or feet floating straight through their son, just another reminder that they couldn't do anything to help him really. Neither of them could hold him, comfort away his belly ache or broken heart he had suffered since he was fifteen months old.
"We're always here, Harry." James added, reaching a hand down to place it near his son's head, wishing he could ruffle his hair and make him laugh or rub his stomach until it felt better. "We'll never, ever leave you, son."
"Forever. Until the day you grow old and die. And then we'll be waiting to meet you, my sweet one." Lily nodded, her hand caressing through Harry's socked foot, tears streaming down her face.
Harry sighed, getting his fill of the picture for the time being. He held it up against the bare wall beside the cushion of a mattress that had been placed into the cupboard when he was still very small. Besides that, he also had a rather flat pillow, and a blanket that was thin and old, but worked. The cupboard was small and retained his body heat in the winter better than a bedroom would have. And in the summer, well, there was a nice draft that ran under the door.
Aside from his meager bedding that Petunia had provided him with, Harry had a few other things that he had managed to rescue from Aunt Petunia before she'd thrown them away. It took persuading on his part, but if the toys were broken and long forgotten by Dudley then she usually gave in. The cupboard contained a couple of shelves created for holding cleaning supplies, but Petunia kept those locked beneath the kitchen sink now, having not wanted baby Harry to get into them and then be blamed for not paying enough attention to him.
He had received one of Dudley's old broken trains for his second Christmas, probably the best present he would ever get in this house. He kept it in a special place on the shelf, right above his pillow. It was probably in the best shape out of all of his toys, only missing one wheel. He also had a teddy bear that was missing an arm and both of it's eyes that he liked to sleep with sometimes, and a plastic dinosaur that looked as though someone had chewed on it beyond recognition, but Harry could still tell you that it was a brontosaurus. There were a few smaller trinkets on the second shelf where Harry normally stuck his school bag since there was more space there. A couple of bent up army men who had been stepped on, a small wooden puzzle with half of its original pieces, and some rocks he had gathered out of the backyard that he thought were quite nice. They sparkled or shone brightly than other rocks he had come across, so he liked them.
Thinking he would rather like to hang his picture up on his wall, Harry left his cupboard and wandered upstairs. Aunt Petunia would be working on making dinner by now and Dudley was in the living room watching the television. Harry was typically only allowed to go upstairs to use the bathroom, but today, he had decided that his picture was important enough to wander into his aunt and uncle's bedroom where Vernon's desk sat in one corner.
Harry was expressly forbidden from going into any of the bedrooms or Dudley's playroom, but today he was feeling rather rebellious. His stomach still hurt and he knew he should probably lay down some more, but he really wanted to get his picture on his wall. It would make him feel better.
So, sneaking his way into the grown ups' bedroom, Harry tiptoed across the carpet and over to the desk as quietly as he could. He opened one drawer and dug through it, looking for the tape he knew must be here. He had heard Aunt Petunia ask Dudley to retrieve it before on several occasions. So where was it? Maybe in the next drawer.
Harry scavenged through the second drawer in the desk, and success! He pulled out the roll of tape with a smile. He grabbed the scissors and cut a few pieces off, sticking them to his arm to hold onto them . He hurriedly put the tape and scissors away and then rushed back downstairs to his cupboard, glad he had not been caught.
Once his picture was up on the wall, Harry felt proud. He was glad to have a family portrait on his wall where he would always be able to see it so long as the light was on.
The door to the cupboard opened and Aunt Petunia appeared, holding a tray with crackers and a glass of water on it. She set it in front of Harry in the cupboard. "Here. This is your dinner. And then it's straight to bed, understood?"
"Yes, Aunt Petunia." Harry nodded and waited while she closed the door again. He looked down at the crackers and water… that was what Dudley usually had to eat when he was sick. He ate what he could and downed the water before carrying the dishes back into the kitchen for his aunt to clean. He went back to his cupboard and put on his pajamas, climbing beneath his covers. It was still a big early for bed, but his stomach did still feel all queasy.
Rolling over on his mat, he stared up at his drawing, admiring his own handiwork and wondering if maybe someday someone would come and take him away from here. He dreamed about that a lot. He had lots of funny dreams that he couldn't explain, but then, they were just dreams after all. His favorites were just flashes of thing. A flying motorcycle, locks of deep red hair tickling his face, a pair of freckled arms that held him tightly, colored smoke mixed with a man's laughter, the glint of a pair of glasses, and his most absolute beloved dream… the softest, most wonderful of lullabies. It never had words to it, it was more like a murmur, but the voice that sang it was always calming and made him feel incredibly safe.
He had dreams that he hated as well though. Those were the ones that made him wake up in a cold sweat. Dreams with screaming, flashes of green light, and lots of crying that, usually, when he woke up, was coming from him. He wasn't sure what these were, but he supposed it was from the car accident he and his parents had been in when he was very small. At least, that's what Aunt Petunia said had happened to them, and it made perfect sense to Harry. People got into car accidents every day. He was sure there were other little boys out there in the world that had lost their parents to the same fate.
Sitting up, Harry got onto his knees and kissed his picture. First his mum, and then his dad, before he laid back down and stared up at the picture in the dim light of the cupboard. "I love you." He whispered.
Lily's heart broke as she reached down and ran a hand through his hair, unable to actually touch it, but able to go through the motion. "We love you too, sweetheart."
This... took a bit. XD Anyway, I hope you liked it, I think it came out fairly well despite it lacking Lily and James a bit. Anyway, lemme know what you thought! I love hearing from you.
Love and butterfly kisses,