"All right, who wants to read next?" Dumbledore asked, looking around.

"I think that you should just continue, Professer." Kat said and everyone else was nodding their heads in agreement.

"So be it."

"The Vanishing Glass," Dumbledore read.

Fred and George grinned.

"Sounds like some- "

"-good old accidental magic."

Molly sighed. "With the twins and all the other kids we've had our fair share of mishaps."

"That's why accident magic-"

"-is the best!" the twins cried!

Nearly ten years had passed since the Dursleys had woken up to find their nephew on the front step, but Privet Drive had hardly changed at all. The sun rose on the same tidy front gardens and lit up the brass number four on the Dursleys' front door; it crept into their living room, which was almost exactly the same as it had been on the night when Mr. Dursley had seen that fateful news report about the owls.

"That's stupid." James commented.

"Trust me, it's even more stupid when you have to stay there for extended periods of time." Harry replied.

Sirius glowered at that. He knew that Dumbledore wanted to protect Harry but he didn't see the point in making him stay in that hellhole for so long.

Only the photographs on the mantelpiece really showed how much time had passed. Ten years ago, there had been lots of pictures of what looked like a large pink beach ball wearing different-colored bonnets — but Dudley Dursley was no longer a baby,

"Oh, that's disgusting." Tonks said looking revolted.

and now the photographs showed a large blond boy riding his first bicycle, on a carousel at the fair, playing a computer game with his father,

"What's a computer?" Ron asked.

Hermione opened her mouth but someone else beat her to the punch.

"It's a box where you can find out information and play games." James explained.

"Whoa." Ron said, looking mystified.

"How did you know that?" Hermione asked critically.

"Please, Hermione." James said crinkling his nose. "Did you already forget that my mum's a muggle-born and I live with my uncle who also happens to be a muggle."

Hermione blushed.

being hugged and kissed by his mother. The room held no sign at all that another boy lived in the house, too.

"And why is that?" Kat questioned angrily.

Yet Harry Potter was still there, asleep at the moment, but not for long. His Aunt Petunia was awake and it was her shrill voice that made the first noise of the day. "Up! Get up! Now!"

"I would hate to wake up to that." Ginny said.

Harry woke with a start. His aunt rapped on the door again.

"Up!" she screeched. Harry heard her walking toward the kitchen and then the sound of the frying pan being put on the stove. He rolled onto his back and tried to remember the dream he had been having. It had been a good one. There had been a flying motorcycle in it. He had a funny feeling he'd had the same dream before.

"It's not a dream!" Sirius exclaimed, bouncing up and down.

"Now you actually look like Padfoot." Harry deadpanned.

Sirius stopped abruptly and glared at his godson as Kat leaned over to give Harry a high-five.

His aunt was back outside the door.

"Are you up yet?" she demanded.

"Nearly," said Harry.

"Well, get a move on, I want you to look after the bacon. And don't you dare let it burn, I want everything perfect on Duddy's birthday."

Harry groaned.

"She always was a snippy bitch." Kat commented lightly.

Harry looked at her surprised. "You knew Aunt Petunia?"

"Knew her?" Kat started, "I'd only met her once or twice but Sirius- umph!"

She was cut off when Sirius put his hand over her mouth.

"Sirius what?" James asked.

"Nothing!" Sirius said. "EW! You licked my hand!"

"Too bad! You know I hate it when people do that!." Kat exclaimed. "As I was saying before I was rudely interrupted, Petunia had the biggest crush on Sirius!"

Complete silence. And then…

"HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA!"

Everyone was rolling around in full on laughter. Even Snape let out a snort or two.

"Shut up!" Sirius grumbled. "She tried to seduce me. I'm scarred for life. Just continue, Professor!"

"Nothing, nothing…"

Dudley's birthday — how could he have forgotten? Harry got slowly out of bed and started looking for socks. He found a pair under his bed and, after pulling a spider

Ron shuddered.

off one of them, put them on. Harry was used to spiders,

"Ugh! Enough with the spiders, man!" Ron said looking at Harry while the twins looked on amused.

But Harry was preoccupied. The only reason that the spiders would be mentioned would be because of the cupboard.

"Oh no." he whispered.

because the cupboard under the stairs was full of them, and that was where he slept.

"What?" was shouted by everyone in the room.

Kat stood up and walked towards the door but was caught by the waist by Remus.

"Let me go, Remus! I'm going to go give that fat whale of a being and his wife a piece of my mind. How dare they! They don't deserve to live!" she shouted.

Molly and Professor McGonnagall weren't too far off of what Kat was doing. Even Fred and George had no words.

Ginny had tears in her eyes and Sirius was looking at his godson.

"Why didn't you say anything?" he whispered.

Harry looked at Sirius. "Because it's over. I have a room now. It's okay." he said calmly.

"Harry, mate," Ron started, but he was cut off when Hermione flung her arms around her best friend.

"I'm so sorry." she whispered.

"It's okay." Harry said into her shoulder.

James stared at the ground. No one deserves that. No one.

Sirius went over to where Kat and Remus were and brought his wife back to the couch.

"I promise you that he's not going back there." he said, taking her face in his hands.

"I promise. No one's going to stop me this time." he finished glaring up at Dumbledore.

When he was dressed he went down the hall into the kitchen. The table was almost hidden beneath all Dudley's birthday presents. It looked as though Dudley had gotten the new computer he wanted, not to mention the second television and the racing bike.

Exactly why Dudley wanted a racing bike was a mystery to Harry, as Dudley was very fat and hated exercise — unless of course it involved punching somebody.

"He better not mean you!" Kat said angrily, as Sirius growled.

Dudley's favorite punching bag was Harry,

"That little-" Kat said, and then proceeded to let out a string of curse words that would make a sailor blush.

"Kat!" Molly cried, but was surprised when Ginny let out a similar string. "Ginevra!"

Kat smiled softly at the fiery redhead as the rest of the room started at her in shock.

"I don't even want to know where you learned those words." Fred said dazedly.

but he couldn't often catch him. Harry didn't look it, but he was very fast.

"Small mercies" Arthur muttered.

Perhaps it had something to do with living in a dark cupboard, but Harry had always been small and skinny for his age.

"That has nothing to do with that." Sirius smirked.

He looked even smaller and skinnier than he really was because all he had to wear were old clothes of Dudley's, and Dudley was about four times bigger than he was. Harry had a thin face, knobby knees, black hair,

"Just like his old man!" Sirius exclaimed.

"You really do look like his twin." Kat said as Harry beamed

and bright green eyes.

"Lily's eyes." Professor McGonagall said.

"You should have heard the ridiculous poems your father would write about them. It made us sick." Sirius chortled.

"Oh, I think we can guess." George said, sending a sly look towards Ginny.

Both Harry and Ginny blushed a deep red color.

He wore round glasses held together with a lot of Scotch tape because of all the times Dudley had punched him on the nose. The only thing Harry liked about his own appearance was a very thin scar on his forehead that was shaped like a bolt of lightning.

"Whoa!" Ron said. "You liked your scar?"

Harry shrugged. "I didn't know what it meant back then."

He had had it as long as he could remember, and the first question he could ever remember asking his Aunt Petunia was how he had gotten it.

"In the car crash when your parents died," she had said.

"THAT FILTHY-" Kat started, but James had stood up and went to stand behind his mother. He put his arms on her shoulders.

"Deep breaths, mum. Remember, in and out. Count to ten."

"What are you doing?" Tonks asked the question everyone was thinking.

"Oh, it's just some anger management techniques." James replied.

Sirius burst out laughing. "You- you, hahahaha, anger management!"

Kat glared at both James and Sirius.

"You shut up!" Kat hissed, kicking Sirius in the leg.

"And you!" Kat said, turning to James. "You just looked that stuff up online so don't make them think I'm a psycho."

"Too late for that." Remus said lightly.

"And don't ask questions."

"Don't ask question!" Hermione said incredulous. "How could he survive if he isn't allow to ask questions?"

Don't ask questions — that was the first rule for a quiet life with the Dursleys.

Uncle Vernon entered the kitchen as Harry was turning over the bacon.

"Comb your hair!" he barked, by way of a morning greeting.

"Never gonna work." Kat, Sirius, and Remus all sang at once.

"You should have seen the battles your dad had with the comb. It was like World War III." Kat giggled.

About once a week, Uncle Vernon looked over the top of his newspaper and shouted that Harry needed a haircut. Harry must have had more haircuts than the rest of the boys in his class put together, but it made no difference, his hair simply grew that way — all over the place.

Harry was frying eggs by the time Dudley arrived in the kitchen with his mother. Dudley lookeda lot like Uncle Vernon. He had a large pink face, not much neck, small, watery blue eyes.

"Gross." Ginny moaned.

Aunt Petunia often said that Dudley looked like a baby angel — Harry often said that Dudley looked like a pig in a wig.

"Lily's cheek." Remus said fondly.

Snape glared at the Potter spawn on the couch. He was nothing like Lily.

Harry put the plates of egg and bacon on the table, which was difficult as there wasn't much room. Dudley, meanwhile, was counting his presents. His face fell.

"Thirty-six," he said, looking up at his mother and father. "That's two less than last year."

"Darling, you haven't counted Auntie Marge's present, see, it's here under this big one from Mummy and Daddy."

"All right, thirty-seven then," said Dudley, going red in the face. Harry, who could see a huge Dudley tantrum coming on, began wolfing down his bacon as fast as possible in case Dudley turned the table over.

"Please, that would require way to much effort." Harry scoffed.

Ron gave him a high-five.

Aunt Petunia obviously scented danger, too, because she said quickly, "And we'll buy you another two presents while we're out today. How's that, popkin? Two more presents. Is that all right?" Dudley thought for a moment. It looked like hard work. Finally he said slowly, "So I'll have thirty… thirty…"

"Bloody hell! This boy's an idiot!"

Everyone turned towards the voice shocked as it was Professor Mcgonagall who had said it.

"Why Minnie!" Sirius said. "I'm shocked and appalled that you would use such language."

"Thirty-nine, sweetums," said Aunt Petunia.

"Oh." Dudley sat down heavily and grabbed the nearest parcel. "All right then."

Uncle Vernon chuckled.

"Little tyke wants his money's worth, just like his father. 'Atta boy, Dudley!" He ruffled Dudley's hair.

"This is despicable!" Molly sputtered. "Encouraging that kind of behavior!"

At that moment the telephone rang and Aunt Petunia went to answer it while Harry and Uncle Vernon watched Dudley unwrap the racing bike, a video camera, a remote control airplane, sixteen new computer games, and a VCR. He was ripping the paper off a gold wristwatch when Aunt Petunia came back from the telephone looking both angry and worried.

"Bad news, Vernon," she said. "Mrs. Figg's broken her leg. She can't take him."

She jerked her head in Harry's direction.

Dudley's mouth fell open in horror, but Harry's heart gave a leap. Every year on Dudley's birthday, his parents took him and a friend out for the day, to adventure parks, hamburger restaurants, or the movies. Every year, Harry was left behind with Mrs. Figg, a mad old lady who lived two streets away. Harry hated it there. The whole house smelled of cabbage and Mrs. Figg made him look at photographs of all the cats she'd ever owned.

"Sounds like a good time." James said dryly.

"I hate cats." Sirius muttered. Professor McGonnagall shot him a look.

"Except you, of course, Minnie!" he said, shooting her a grin.

"That didn't work back when you were in school, and it's not going to work now, Mr. Black." she said icily.

"Now what?" said Aunt Petunia, looking furiously at Harry as though he'd planned this. Harry knew he ought to feel sorry that Mrs. Figg had broken her leg, but it wasn't easy when he reminded himself it would be a whole year before he had to look at Tibbles, Snowy, Mr. Paws, and Tufty again.

"What about Marge?" Vernon suggested

"Don't be silly, Vernon, she hates the boy."

"Well, the boy hates her too." Harry said.

The Dursleys often spoke about Harry like this, as though he wasn't there — or rather, as though he was something very nasty that couldn't understand them, like a slug.

"What about what's-her-name, your friend — Yvonne?"

"On vacation in Majorca," snapped Aunt Petunia.

"You could just leave me here," Harry put in hopefully (he'd be able to watch what he wanted on television for a change and maybe even have a go on Dudley's computer).

Aunt Petunia looked as though she'd just swallowed a lemon.

"So she looks like she always does." Kat said.

"And come back and find the house in ruins?" she snarled.

"I won't blow up the house," said Harry, but they weren't listening.

"I suppose we could take him to the zoo," said Aunt Petunia slowly, "… and leave him in the car…"

"That car's new, he's not sitting in it alone…"

"The car?" Ginny said furiously. "What about Harry?"

Dudley began to cry loudly. In fact, he wasn't really crying — it had been years since he'd really cried — but he knew that if he screwed up his face and wailed, his mother would give him anything he wanted.

"What a wuss." Ron said.

Molly opened her mouth to reprimand him but Hermione got there first.

"Ronald!" she said sharply.

"Sorry, Mione." he muttered.

Mrs. Weasley exchanged a gleeful grin with her husband.

"Dinky Duddydums,

"What!" Sirius sputtered. "She seriously calls him that."

Harry laughed. "Wait till you hear the other ones.

don't cry, Mummy won't let him spoil your special day!" she cried, flinging her arms around him.

"I… don't… want… him… t-t-to come!" Dudley yelled between huge, pretend sobs. "He always sp-spoils everything!" He shot Harry a nasty grin through the gap in his mother's arms.

Just then, the doorbell rang — "Oh, good Lord, they're here!" said Aunt Petunia frantically — and a moment later, Dudley's best friend, Piers Polkiss, walked in with his mother.

Piers was a scrawny boy with a face like a rat. He was usually the one who held people's arms behind their backs while Dudley hit them. Dudley stopped pretending to cry at once.

Half an hour later, Harry, who couldn't believe his luck, was sitting in the back of the Dursleys' car with Piers and Dudley, on the way to the zoo for the first time in his life. His aunt and uncle hadn't been able to think of anything else to do with him, but before they'd left, Uncle Vernon had taken Harry aside.

"I'm warning you," he had said, putting his large purple face right up close to Harry's, "I'm warning you now, boy — any funny business, anything at all — and you'll be in that cupboard from now until Christmas.""I'm not going to do anything," said Harry, "honestly…"

But Uncle Vernon didn't believe him. No one ever did.

The problem was, strange things often happened around Harry and it was just no good telling the Dursleys he didn't make them happen.

"It's magic, my boy." James said in a mystical voice.

Harry punched him in the arm.

Once, Aunt Petunia, tired of Harry coming back from the barbers looking as though he hadn't been at all, had taken a pair of kitchen scissors and cut his hair so short he was almost bald except for his bangs, which she left "to hide that horrible scar." Dudley had laughed himself silly at Harry, who spent a sleepless night imagining school the next day, where he was alreadylaughed at for his baggy clothes and taped glasses.

Next morning, however, he had gotten up to find his hair exactly as it had been before Aunt Petunia had sheared it off.

"The Potter hair has magical powers of its own." Sirius said solemnly.

Harry laughed.

"You laugh now." Kat said. "But once, your grandmother cut off James's hair and when he woke up the net morning it was all back to the way it was before the cut it. She was flabbergasted."

"Flabbergasted?" Sirius said. "What kind of word is that?"

"The good kind." Kat said, firmly.

He had been given a week in his cupboard for this, even though he had tried to explain that he couldn't explain how it had grown back so quickly.

Another time, Aunt Petunia had been trying to force him into a revolting old sweater of Dudley's (brown with orange puff balls).

Tonks wrinkled her nose.

The harder she tried to pull it over his head, the smaller it seemed to become, until finally it might have fitted a hand puppet, but certainly wouldn't fit Harry.

All the people reading smiled.

Aunt Petunia had decided it must have shrunk in the wash and, to his great relief, Harry wasn't punished.

"Thank god." Hermione said.

On the other hand, he'd gotten into terrible trouble for being found on the roof of the school kitchens. Dudley's gang had been chasing him as usual when, as much to Harry's surprise as anyone else's, there he was sitting on the chimney.

"Oh my god! You apparated!" Hermione cried.

"I'm pretty sure he flew." Ron said.

"Apparated!"

"Flew!"

"APPARATED!"

"FLEW!"

"SHUT UP!" the whole room cried at the feuding couple. Both of them looked around as though they had just noticed that they weren't alone.

"It could have been either." Sirius informed Harry. "But either way it's very impressive."

Snape who had remained silent during this exchange knew that the boy had flown. After all, he had seen Lily do the same thing when they were younger.

The Dursleys had received a very angry letter from Harry's headmistress telling them Harry had been climbing school buildings. But all he'd tried to do (as he shouted at Uncle Vernon through the locked door of his cupboard) was jump behind the big trashcans outside the kitchen doors. Harry supposed that the wind must have caught him in mid-jump.

"Yea, yea." Harry said, before anyone else could comment. "I was pretty stupid back then."

"Just back then?" James asked.

"Shut up." Harry grumbled.

But today, nothing was going to go wrong. It was even worth being with Dudley and Piers to be spending the day somewhere that wasn't school, his cupboard, or Mrs. Figg's cabbage-smelling living room.

While he drove, Uncle Vernon complained to Aunt Petunia. He liked to complain about things: people at work, Harry, the council, Harry, the bank, and Harry were just a few of his favorite subjects.

"Do you think he hates Harry?" Fred asked sarcastically.

This morning, it was motorcycles.

"What!" Sirius and Kat both exclaimed.

"This is preposterous. Letting him live with people who don't love motorcycles." Kat huffed.

"I don't see the appeal." Snape said dryly.

"Have you never been on one? Don't answer that. I know you haven't. So shut up." Kat said.

"… roaring along like maniacs, the young hoodlums," he said, as a motorcycle overtook them.

"I had a dream about a motorcycle," said Harry, remembering suddenly. "It was flying."

"Oh it wasn't a dream." Sirius said.

"I know that now." Harry pointed out.

Uncle Vernon nearly crashed into the car in front. He turned right around in his seat and yelled at Harry, his face like a gigantic beet with a mustache: "MOTORCYCLES DON'T FLY!"

Dudley and Piers sniggered.

"I know they don't," said Harry. "It was only a dream."

But he wished he hadn't said anything. If there was one thing the Dursleys hated even more than his asking questions, it was his talking about anything acting in a way it shouldn't, no matter if it was in a dream or even a cartoon — they seemed to think he might get dangerous ideas.

It was a very sunny Saturday and the zoo was crowded with families. The Dursleys bought Dudley and Piers large chocolate ice creams at the entrance and then, because the smiling lady in the van had asked Harry what he wanted before they could hurry him away, they bought him a cheap lemon ice pop.

Kat conjured up bowls of ice creams for all the kids.

"There you are." she said, satisfied.

"We love you!" the twins chorused.

It wasn't bad, either, Harry thought, licking it as they watched a gorilla scratching its head who looked remarkably like Dudley, except that it wasn't blond.

"You're getting to Marauder material!" Sirius cried, rubbing his hands together eagerly.

Harry had the best morning he'd had in a long time. He was careful to walk a little way apart from the Dursleys so that Dudley and Piers, who were starting to get bored with the animals by lunchtime, wouldn't fall back on their favorite hobby of hitting him.

The room hissed as a whole.

They ate in the zoo restaurant, and when Dudley had a tantrum because his knickerbocker glory didn't have enough ice cream on top, Uncle Vernon bought him another one and Harry was allowed to finish the first.

Harry felt, afterward, that he should have known it was all too good to last.

After lunch they went to the reptile house. It was cool and dark in there, with lit windows all along the walls. Behind the glass, all sorts of lizards and snakes were crawling and slithering over bits of wood and stone. Dudley and Piers wanted to see huge, poisonous cobras and thick, man-crushing pythons. Dudley quickly found the largest snake in the place. It could have wrapped its body twice around Uncle Vernon's car and crushed it into a trash can — but at the moment it didn't look in the mood. In fact, it was fast asleep.

Dudley stood with his nose pressed against the glass, staring at the glistening brown coils.

"Make it move," he whined at his father. Uncle Vernon tapped on the glass, but the snake didn't budge.

"Oh my god! He is such a nuisance." Tonks cried.

"Do it again," Dudley ordered. Uncle Vernon rapped the glass smartly with his knuckles, but the snake just snoozed on.

"This is boring," Dudley moaned. He shuffled away.

Harry moved in front of the tank and looked intently at the snake. He wouldn't have been surprised if it had died of boredom itself — no company except stupid people drumming their fingers on the glass trying to disturb it all day long. It was worse than having a cupboard as a bedroom, where the only visitor was Aunt Petunia hammering on the door to wake you up; at least he got to visit the rest of the house.

The snake suddenly opened its beady eyes. Slowly, very slowly, it raised its head until its eyes were on a level with Harry's.

It winked.

Harry stared. Then he looked quickly around to see if anyone was watching. They weren't. He looked back at the snake and winked, too.

The snake jerked its head toward Uncle Vernon and Dudley, then raised its eyes to the ceiling. It gave Harry a look that said quite plainly:

"I get that all the time."

"I know," Harry murmured through the glass, though he wasn't sure the snake could hear him. "It must be really annoying."

The snake nodded vigorously.

"You're talking to the snake." Sirius said, in shock.

"Do you hate me?" Harry asked, anxiously.

"No." Kat said firmly. "Of course not. You have to understand, Harry. Parseltounge is a gift. It's just that during these times it's seen as a sign of a dark wizard. We know it's not. After this war is over, it'll be seen as a gift again. You're the same person you've always been."

Harry stood up suddenly and gave Kat a tight hug.

"Thank you." he whispered. For the first time in a long time, he felt like he had a family. For him, Sirius and Kat were like his own parents. They had been there when he was younger and in a way, they knew him better than anyone else.

"Where do you come from, anyway?" Harry asked.

The snake jabbed its tail at a little sign next to the glass. Harry peered at it.

Boa Constrictor, Brazil.

"Was it nice there?"

The boa constrictor jabbed its tail at the sign again and Harry read on: This specimen was bred in the zoo. "Oh, I see — so you've never been to Brazil?"

As the snake shook its head, a deafening shout behind Harry made both of them jump. "DUDLEY! MR. DURSLEY! COME AND LOOK AT THIS SNAKE! YOU WON'T BELIEVE WHAT IT'S DOING!"

"Enter the whale." Ginny said with a straight face.

Dudley came waddling toward them as fast as he could.

"Out of the way, you," he said, punching Harry in the ribs. Caught by surprise, Harry fell hard on the concrete floor.

Remus growled.

What came next happened so fast no one saw how it happened — one second, Piers and Dudley were leaning right up close to the glass, the next, they had leapt back with howls of horror.

Harry sat up and gasped; the glass front of the boa constrictor's tank had vanished.

"Wooooo!"

"Go Harry!"

"Brilliant!"

The great snake was uncoiling itself rapidly, slithering out onto the floor. People throughout the reptile house screamed and started running for the exits.

As the snake slid swiftly past him, Harry could have sworn a low, hissing voice said, "Brazil, here I come… Thanksss, amigo."

The keeper of the reptile house was in shock.

"But the glass," he kept saying, "where did the glass go?"

"Poor fellow." Arthur said.

The zoo director himself made Aunt Petunia a cup of strong, sweet tea while he apologized over and over again. Piers and Dudley could only gibber. As far as Harry had seen, the snake hadn't done anything except snap playfully at their heels as it passed, but by the time they were all back in Uncle Vernon's car, Dudley was telling them how it had nearly bitten off his leg, while Piers was swearing it had tried to squeeze him to death. But worst of all, for Harry at least, was Piers calming down enough to say, "Harry was talking to it, weren't you, Harry?"

"That little twerp." Ron said.

Uncle Vernon waited until Piers was safely out of the house before starting on Harry. He was so angry he could hardly speak. He managed to say, "Go — cupboard — stay — no meals," before he collapsed into a chair, and Aunt Petunia had to run and get him a large brandy.

"No wonder you're so skinny!" Mrs. Weasley said. "We'll have to get some food in you immediately."

"Maybe an examination with Poppy will also be beneficial." McGonngall said.

Harry gave her a look of pure horror.

Harry lay in his dark cupboard much later, wishing he had a watch. He didn't know what time it was and he couldn't be sure the Dursleys were asleep yet. Until they were, he couldn't risk sneaking to the kitchen for some food.

"I think that you will be able to earn your Marauder stripes sooner rather than later." Sirius whispered to Harry.

He'd lived with the Dursleys almost ten years, ten miserable years, as long as he could remember, ever since he'd been a baby and his parents had died in that car crash. He couldn't remember being in the car when his parents had died. Sometimes, when he strained his memory during long hours in his cupboard, he came up with a strange vision: a blinding flash of green light and a burning pain on his forehead.

"There's no way that you can remember that." Kat said, staring at him in horror.

"I remember it even clearer now." Harry muttered.

This, he supposed, was the crash, though he couldn't imagine where all the green light came from. He couldn't remember his parents at all.

"Don't worry." Sirius said, softly, "between the three of us, we have many, many pictures."

His aunt and uncle never spoke about them, and of course he was forbidden to ask questions. There were no photographs of them in the house.

When he had been younger, Harry had dreamed and dreamed of some unknown relation coming to take him away, but it had never happened;

Sirius looked down at that.

"I am so sorry." he whispered. "It's all my fault. If I had only…." he trailed off, knowing that he would never have been able to control himself.

Harry looked at his godfather. "Sirius, I don't care. You're my family and I know that I couldn't have asked for a better godfather. I love you."

"I love you too, kid." he said, wiping tears from his eyes.

the Dursleys were his only family. Yet sometimes he thought (or maybe hoped) that strangers in the street seemed to know him. Very strange strangers they were, too.

A tiny man in a violet top hat had bowed to him once while out shopping with Aunt Petunia and Dudley. After asking Harry furiously if he knew the man, Aunt Petunia had rushed them out of the shop without buying anything. A wild-looking old woman dressed all in green had waved merrily at him once on a bus. A bald man in a very long purple coat had actually shaken his hand in the street the other day and then walked away without a word. The weirdest thing about all these people was the way they seemed to vanish the second Harry tried to get a closer look.

"These idiots." Mad-Eye hissed.

At school, Harry had no one. Everybody knew that Dudley's gang hated that odd Harry Potter in his baggy old clothes and broken glasses, and nobody liked to disagree with Dudley's gang.