A/N; Hello, All!
First off; thank you for all the favourites/follows/reviews. It means a LOT.
Second – replies to reviews;
Lauren – Thanks for the feedback. I agree, and I will try, I just can't think of many ideas.
Sacar96 – Oh, gosh, where do you think I got the idea? I mean, I read a lot of these types of fanfics, but I'm always thinking 'I wonder how they'd react to The Prince's Tale' or 'I wonder what the Marauders would do after they find out that Peter and/or Sirius was the traitor?', hehe.
If any of you readers ever have any ideas, feel free to send them to me!
Third – I'm really sorry for how long this took me. And I'm starting school tomorrow, so It'll take a while for each chapter. Sorry, I hope you bear with me.
Chapter 2: The Vanishing Glass
Lily was crying in her room. Alice was sitting in a corner with Frank, discussing what they'd learned so far. Severus was in his own corner, thinking over the fact that Lily wasn't his and would never be. Sirius, Remus and James were all silent, for once. Sirius looking at James sadly – his best friend was going to die, and the Marauders would split up. Remus was also looking at James, but with worry. He knew that his friend would hate himself for leaving Lily to die, even though it most likely wasn't his fault. James was doing so accordingly, looking at the door to the girls dorms with a longing look.
"Go." Remus said softly; knowingly.
James looked at him sceptically, but got up from his chair and opened the door to the girls' dorm slowly. He heard a soft crying sound and he was shocked to hear a heart wrenching sound – Lily crying. Lily never cried in front of the Marauders – except for Remus, of course. But especially James Potter. And the sound broke his heart. "Lily?" he called softly as he saw her, or at least her bed curtains, shut around her.
She didn't reply. He inched closer and slowly opened the curtain. His heart broke again as he saw her, teary eyed and all. "Lily…" there were no more words to say. He sat on the bed and took her in his arms, holding her close and saying nothing, just giving her support.
"James…" she said eventually, as she stopped blubbering on his (surprisingly) comfortable shirt. "Thank you." She mumbles.
The Head Boy looked down at her lovingly, with a small smile appearing on his face – which only highlighted the hope and love in his eyes. "You're welcome."
Lily smiled back and snuggled closer. He grinned. "So, we're going to get married, eh?" At that, she punched him softly, but couldn't keep the grin from finding its way to her lips.
"Maybe. But… I don't want what the book says to affect our relationship. I want it to be… without influence, okay?"
"But there will be a relationship." (another grin, wider that time.)
"I… Yes. I think so." A grin crept up on her lips as well. Then it fell as she remembered how, according to the books, their relationship ended. "I hope we can change things."
Lily and James came out of the girls' dorm wrapped in each other. James had his hand thrown over Lily's shoulder and she had hers around his waist.
As they spotted the pair, Remus and Sirius turned to each other with a grin. Alice beamed and threw Lily a wink. Frank smiled also at the pair. Severus looked angry.
"No, we're not going out or anything." Lily interrupted their thoughts. "Listen. We've come to an agreement, okay? Just…. Not going out yet." She made sure to add the yet, throwing it in casually. "Anyway. We should continue with the book, okay? Who wants to read?"
"I will." Remus volunteered, picking up the book from the table. Lily nodded and sat down, followed by James, who sat next to her. The other four sat around them, huddling close to the book.
Chapter Two: The Vanishing Glass
"Magic!" Sirius said with glee.
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.
"Of course." Lily sighed. "Tuney doesn't… welcome change, to say the least."
James rubbed her back in a circular motion, which calmed her – surprisingly.
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. 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 bobble hats -
Sirius and James sniggered at the description and Lily quirked a smirk. "I like this author."
- but Dudley Dursley was no longer a baby, and now the photographs showed a large, blond boy riding his first bicycle, on a roundabout at the fair, playing a computer game with his father, being hugged and kissed by his mother. The room held no sign at all that another boy lived in the house, too.
The majority of the room growled dangerously.
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 which made the first noise of the day.
"Up! Get up! Now!"
"Oh, hon. I feel for you." Lily shook her head. "I have been woken up like that too many times. It's not fun."
Harry woke with a start. His aunt rapped on the door again.
"Up!" she screeched. Harry heard her walking towards the kitchen and then the sound of the frying pan being put on the cooker. He rolled on to his back and tried to remember the dream he had been having. It had been a good one. There had been a flying motorbike in it. He had a funny feeling he'd had the same dream before.
"He remembers!" Sirius exclaimed with glee. "He remembers my bike!"
Alice rolled her eyes.
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."
"He cooks?" Lily was confused.
"What did you say?" his aunt snapped through the door.
"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 off one of them, put them on. Harry was used to spiders, because the cupboard under the stairs was full of them, and that was where he slept.
There was a silence.
The slam of the book as it fell to the floor.
Then a riot – All three of the Marauders, Lily and Alice were shouting at the book in furious rage. Frank was also glaring fiercely at the book, muttering curses under his breath uncharacteristically. Severus was looking on oddly – he was remembering how his own parents had treated him and felt sympathy for the boy that was going to be a constant reminder that Lily chose Potter over himself.
"PETUNIA EVANS YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I—"
"HOW COULD YOU IDIOTS DO SUCH A—"
"YOU STUPID MUGGLES, THAT BOY IS MY BEST—"
"HOW CAN YOU BE SO STUPIDLY IGNORANT—"
"WHAT THE BLOODY MERLIN—"
"ARE YOU EVEN HUM—"
"I WILL KILL YOU—"
"WHAT THE BLOODY MERLIN IS WRONG WITH YOU?"
James' last shout was heard over the top of everyone else's shouting and they all fell silent in rage.
"I—I'll continue reading, then?" Remus stuttered, still shaking with his anger. The other five gryffindors only nodded.
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 got the new computer he wanted, not to mention the second television and the racing bike.
"Spoiled child," Frank muttered under his breath.
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. Dudley's favorite punch-bag was Harry, but he couldn't often catch him. Harry didn't look it, but he was very fast.
"At least you're not letting him catch you." James said with a shaky breath.
Perhaps it had something to do with living in a dark cupboard, but Harry had always been small and skinny for his age.
"No… it's genetic." James sighed with relief.
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.
Lily growled. Old clothes as well? Her sister was going to get it when she came home after this – she had told her parents that she would be coming home late.
Harry had a thin face, knobbly knees, black hair and bright-green eyes.
Most smiled a small smile at the description.
He wore round glasses held together by a lot of Sellotape because of all the times Dudley had punched him on the nose.
More growls from around the room.
Severus was reminded of his own childhood and how he had been treated – he felt more sympathy towards the boy.
The only thing Harry liked about his appearance was a very thin scar on his forehead which was shaped like a bolt of lightning. He had had it as long as he could remember and the first question he could ever remember asking his aunt was how he had got it.
"In the car crash when your parents died," she had said. "and don't ask questions."
"A CAR CRASH? HE DOESN'T EVEN KNOW!" Lily shouted in outrage. Remus continued before another riot started:
Don't ask questions - that was the first rule for a quiet life with the Dursleys.
"How is he supposed to learn?" muttered Frank under his breath.
Uncle Vernon entered the kitchen as Harry was turning over the bacon.
"Comb your hair!" he barked, by way of a morning greeting.
"Not going to work." Sirius grinned. "James' hair is untameable."
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.
James grinned at the description of his hair and messed it up a bit. He was glad that Harry showed even a little bit of rebellion, even if it wasn't intentional.
Harry was frying eggs by the time Dudley arrived in the kitchen with his mother. Dudley looked a lot like Uncle Vernon. He had a large, pink face, not muck neck, small, watery blue eyes and thick, blond hair that lay smoothly on his thick, fat head. Aunt Petunia often said that Dudley looked like a baby angel - Harry often said that Dudley looked like a pig in a wig.
Lily snorted. So did Severus. Alice was snickering already, but Lily began giggling as well. The Marauders looked amused, but the two black haired ones looked confused as well.
"He's like you," Alice choked out to Lily, laughing uncontrollably. Severus mentally agreed; he was also chuckling.
James looked confused. "Lily?"
"That's definitely me." She confirmed.
He looked amusedly surprised. 'I really need to get to know her better.' He thought. Why didn't he know that she had a cheeky side?
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."
"Spoilt brat." Frank repeated from before, a bit louder and angrier this time.
"Darling, you haven't counted Auntie Marge's present, see, it's here under this big one from Mummy and Daddy."
"All right then, 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.
"That's you, Mr Bacon." Sirius grinned at James, who smirked in return.
"What?" Lily looked lost.
"Jamesie here is a little… um, shall we say, obsessed with bacon."
Aunt Petunia obviously scented danger too, because she said quickly, "And we'll buy you anothertwopresents while we're out today. How's that popkin?Twomore 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 ..."
"Thirty-nine, sweetums," said Aunt Petunia.
"Dumbass." Alice muttered.
"Pig." Lily agreed.
"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.
"They encourage it!" Alice was outraged.
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 cine-camera, a remote control airplane, sixteen new computer games and a video recorder. 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 to, adventure parks, hamburger bars or the cinema. Every year, Harry was left behind with Mrs. Figg, a mad old lady who lived two streets away.
A feral growl could be heard.
Harry hated it there. The whole house smelled of cabbage and Mrs. Figg made him look at all the cats she'd ever owned.
Sirius slowly showed a small lopsided smirk. "I hate cats."
"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.
"We could phone Marge," Uncle Vernon suggested.
"Don't be silly Vernon, she hates the boy."
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 holiday 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.
"I know the look."
"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.
"You should." The two black haired marauders grinned at each other.
"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 ..."
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.
All seven of them snorted at the nickname.
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.
"He's not a good kid…"
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.
The Marauders looked to each other, grinning. "Remind you of anyone?" Sirius said softly so that only they could hear.
He was usually the one who held people's arms behind their backs while Dudley hit them.
Remus glared at the book.
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 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.
"Magic!" Sirius laughed with glee.
Once, Aunt Petunia, tired of Harry coming back from the barber's looking as though he hadn't been at all, had taken a pair of scissors and cut his hair so short he was almost bald except for his fringe, which she left 'to hide that horrible scar'.
James scrunched up his face distastefully.
Dudley laughed himself silly at Harry, who spent a sleepless night imagining school the next day, where he was already laughed at for his baggy clothes and his Sellotaped glasses. Next morning, however, he had got up to find his hair exactly as it had been before Aunt Petunia had sheared it off.
"Good." The Quidditch Captain grinned.
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 jumper of Dudley's (brown with orange bobbles). The harder she tried to pull it over his head, the smaller it seemed to become, until finally it might have fitted a glove puppet, but certainly wouldn't fit Harry.
"Ugh…" said Alice with a distasteful look. "Good boy."
Aunt Petunia had decided it must have shrunk in the wash and, to his great relief, Harry wasn't punished.
On the other hand, he'd got 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.
"Apparition? Harry's pretty powerful…" Lily thought aloud.
The Dursley's had received a very angry letter from Harry's headmistress telling them Harry had been climbing school buildings. But all he tried to do (as he shouted at Uncle Vernon through the locked door of his cupboard) was jump behind the big bins outside the kitchen doors. Harry supposed that the wind must have caught him in mid-jump.
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.
This morning, it was motorbikes. "... roaring along like maniacs, the young hoodlums," he said, as a motorbike overtook them.
"I had a dream about a motorbike," said Harry, remembering suddenly. "It was flying."
"Oh, Harry…" Lily sighed.
"He remembers!" Sirius said gleefully.
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 beetroot with a moustache, "MOTORBIKES DON'T FLY!"
Dudley and Piers snickered.
"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 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 in a cartoon - they seemed to think he might get dangerous ideas.
Most glared at the book, one or two sighed and one was still expressionless.
It was a very sunny Saturday and the zoo was crowded with people. 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 lolly.
It wasn't bad either, Harry thought, licking it as they watched a gorilla scratching its head and looking remarkably like Dudley, except that it wasn't blond.
The girls giggled. "Definitely you, Lils."
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.
They ate in the zoo restaurant and when Dudley had a tantrum because his knickerbockers glory wasn't big enough, Uncle Vernon bought him another one and Harry was allowed to finish the first.
Harry felt, afterwards, that he should have known it was all too good to last.
"It always is…" Remus sighed, referring to books.
After lunch they went to the reptile house. It was cool and dark in here, 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 dustbin -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.
"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.
"You're boring." Sirius retorted.
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 people drumming their fingers on the glass trying to disturb it all day long. It was worse than having a cupboard for 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 level with Harry's.
"No, it didn't." Lily cocked her head to the side. "Snakes don't have eyelids."
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 towards 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."
"a parselmouth?" Sirius finished James' sentence and looked confused. "Harry's not evil."
"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.
"What the hell?"
"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?"
"Poor snake…"Lily sighed.
James looked at her, wonderstruck. He marvelled at her ability to empathise with anything and everything, and care about all.
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!"
Dudley came waddling towards them as fast as he could. "Out of the way, you," he said, punching Harry in the ribs.
Lily and James both growled, then looked at each other, surprised though they both knew they shouldn't have been.
Caught by surprise, Harry fell hard on the concrete floor. 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.
"The Vanishing Glass…" Sirius recalled fondly. "Oh, our little Marauder is learning our ways." He swiped at a fake tear.
The great snake was uncoiling itself rapidly, slithering out on to 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."
"Yep. Harry's a parselmouth." Lily confirmed.
The keeper of the reptile house was in shock.
"But the glass," he kept saying, "where did the glass go?"
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?"
"SHUT UP YOU RAT." Lily shouted as Alice pressed her lips together in annoyance.
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,"
Another growl, feral as ever.
before he collapsed into a chair and Aunt Petunia had to run and get him a large brandy.
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 in to the kitchen for some food. 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.
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.
This, he supposed, was the crash, though he couldn't imagine where the green light came from.
He couldn't remember his parents at all.
They all looked sad, Lily and James the most. Lily had even snuggled closer to James.
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; 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 woman dressed in all green has waved merrily at him once on a bus. A bald man in a very long purple cloak had actually shaken his hand in the street the other day, then walked away without another word. The weirdest thing about all these people was the way they seemed to vanish the second Harry tried to get a closer look.
"Wizards…" Remus whispered to himself.
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.
"That's the end." Remus sighed.
"I'll read next." Said Severus, surprising everyone. Remus nodded and handed the book over.
"The Letters from no-one…"