Remnants of the Dursleys

AN: this is going to be something different. It is going to be a series of one-shots involving how the experience at the Dursleys has affected Harry in the future. This first chapter is premised on the fact that sending children to bed without dinner is a common punishment if the child has seriously misbehaved.

Disclaimer: JK Rowling and her licensees own Harry Potter. If she ever used anything I have written I would be honored beyond belief.

Food.

Harry walked in to an uncharacteristically quiet dinner. He raised an eyebrow as Ginny muttered darkly under her breath and didn't greet him or even scold him for being late… for the third day in a row.

"Mum… pleeease." James called from his room.

"No." Ginny called back. Harry hid a smirk. His wife had a temper streak to rival her mother's.

"Mu-" James started.

Harry laughed to himself. Ginny's tone of voice would warn any sane person to keep their mouth shut but apparently their son had not figured out that Ginny was at the end of the rope.

"That is it." Ginny said, throwing down a towel and going upstairs.

"What happened." Harry asked, sliding into the seat next to his daughter, trying to also ease the mood in the room.

His five year old daughter hugged him a bit, but before she could answer, his seven year old son, Albus, said "Mum sent James to his room without dinner. He wrecked the vase in the middle of the floor with his broom after mum warned him again no flying in the house."

Harry froze as scenes flashed in his head. He peered out of the cupboard longingly, his stomach aching as Dudley smiled and chomped on a burger, chips dropping from his hand. What he would do for just one chip... Wondering how much longer they were going to keep him in here….

Harry got up without a word and filled a plate with food as Ginny came downstairs. "That son of ours…" Ginny started, shaking her head, with a smile.

Her smile froze as she saw the look on Harry's face as he brushed past her. Harry took the plate to his son's room.

His heart ached even more as his son raced towards him and hugged him. "Da, I didn't mean to I swear."

Harry sat his son on the bed. "Eat your dinner." He said, simply.

Harry watched, slightly heartsick as his son gulped down his dinner. "You are still grounded and apologize to your mum." Harry said as he left the room. "And you will not get your broom for a month."

James nodded, a bit scared. This was the first time either of his parents had contradicted a punishment that the other had given.

Harry climbed the stairs calmly and went to the kitchen. "Lily, Al, go play in your rooms please." Harry said, but the kids had already started to clamber up the stairs.

"If there isn't enough food at home, let me know. I will go get more from the store. If there isn't enough money for food, let me know I will get more from the vault or work overtime." Harry said, turning to Ginny. "Don't EVER let my kids go hungry."

"Don't EVER contradict my punishments with the kids." Ginny fired back, angry. "What was that? You know James acts up. Weren't we just talking about how the usual punishments aren't working anymore and we need to try something different. More than that, next time they don't like a punishment they will just go to you!"

"Never let my kids go hungry." Harry said, turning away from his wife.

Ginny stared after Harry, perplexed, as he started to walk away. Sure Harry was the moody one in the relationship. Where Ginny would yell, Harry would brood quietly.

But what perplexed Ginny even more was that Harry stayed mad the next day too. He refused to say more than a word to Ginny and brought home food from Diagon Alley for dinner, a treat they usually reserved for when both were extremely busy or special occasions.

On the third day, Ginny popped in to see Hermione, frustrated. "I don't know what is wrong with him." She said, slamming down her coffee cup.

"All this because I sent James to bed without dinner. Angelina has sent Fred to bed without dinner loads of times!"

Hermione sighed and snickered. "Gin. I can't believe you don't get it." She said, soothingly.

Ginny felt a stab of annoyance. Maybe she was being petty, but she always hated how everything was the golden trio. Even though she and Harry had been married for 10 glorious and wonderful years, Ron and Hermione would always know him better. They knew his little ticks better than she did. Hermione could sense his moods a mile away. Ginny had always resented that. She was his wife after all! She did have to admit that she hoped that this time it would come in handy because she was stumped.

Ginny looked at Ron's face, but regretted it as she saw understanding dawn in Ron's eyes. Her idiotic brother was figuring it out before her! "Gin." Ron said. "Remember the summer F- umm I flew the Ford Anglia to get Harry."

Ginny racked her brain, ignoring the fact that Ron couldn't say Fred's name. Normally she would have called him on that, but right now she had bigger things to worry about. That summer was a blur for her, the excitement of having her first crush at home, going to Hogwarts…. "Barely. What about it."

"Do you remember how Harry looked?" Ron pressed.

Heavenly and cute. "No."

Hermione interjected before Ron could say anything. "Ginny, what Ron is trying to explain, is you have got to remember Harry's childhood."

"He snapped because he remembers." Ron's face turned dark as he remembered the horror he felt at seeing the walking skeleton that was his best friend. "Remembers-"

Ron remembered feeling so grateful that sure his parents didn't have a lot of money after seeing Harry. Sure he had to buy second hand clothes and everything but his parents had made sure there was food on the table. Ron didn't think his parents had noticed, chalking it up to Ron having his best mate over, but Ron hadn't complained about anything once that summer. After all, how could he, despite everything he had lacked materially, he had never known starvation.

"He remembers being starving." Hermione finished. "Ginny, even at Hogwarts, food was precious to Harry. He never outgrew that."

Ginny sighed. Ron's guarded expression continued. "If you want it proven…"

Ron walked fast and pulled an album from above his mantelpiece. Ginny recoiled as he opened the page to a particular picture.

"We took that right after the de-gnoming when Harry got here." Ron said, showing Ginny the picture of Harry looking like a walking skeleton.

"Harry… curse… Dursleys." Ginny said, wondering how she didn't remember that. Why she hadn't added all of that together.

Hermione put a hand on Ginny's shoulder. "Gin, Ron showed you this so you can understand not so you can get mad. At yourself or the Dursleys."

Ginny rolled her eyes. "Yes, mum I am going to go apologize to Harry."

Ginny started to walk away but then paused and turned around. "Thank you, Hermione."

Hermione winked. "You go."

Ginny almost missed Hermione's sigh as she flooed out. The sigh rekindled her anger until she saw that Ron was already there, talking to Harry who was sitting on the bench he always retreated to when he was angry.

"I got it, Ronald." Ginny said, her voice promising death.

"Yeah so… uh." Ron said, getting up fast. "Just remember what I said. "

Harry nodded.

"Harry. We are NOT the Dursleys." Ginny said.

Harry gave Ginny a pain-filled but hidden look.

Ginny tried again. Harry was testing her patience. This was one of the problems in their relationship. Harry could be silent for days.

"Look." Harry said, at last. "Any punishment you want. I know James is a handful." He gave Ginny a ghost of a smile. "Partly my fault for the names I chose."

Ginny snickered despite herself. "Though if Lil goes off looking for Nargles it will be my fault."

Harry laughed, but sobered up quickly. "I mean it though. None of my family goes hungry."

Ginny leaned in, happy that he was at least talking to her again.

"I love you silly." She said.

He laughed, a welcome sound. "I love you too."