Hey everyone! This is Lady Aeribeth Leyeltz, debuting her first story. I really hope you like it, if you do, please, let me know! Also, I know roughly where I'm going with this story, but I do need a BETA to talk with. So, if you're interested, let me know. Thank you very much, and please enjoy.
The lesson in breathing, is never using control
Seconds to misplaced I've never been so unsure
He was 15 months old.
The boy was far too young to truly understand his surroundings, and far too young to be able to recall this night in his future.
Mommy and Daddy had just put him in his crib. He had squirmed more than usual, he didn't want to go to bed. Tonight was different, he could tell that much. There were so many people wandering the streets of Godric's Hollow; parents calling their children, children laughing, friends meeting under the lamplight. But, none came to the door of the Potter house. Mommy and Daddy had gone back downstairs, leaving little Harry alone. He could hear Daddy breathing a sigh of relief and sitting down, and Mommy laughing a nervous laugh. Mommy and Daddy were scared, but he didn't know why. Everyone he had ever met loved his mommy and daddy, so they shouldn't have anything to worry about, right?
Harry had almost fallen asleep, when he heard the crash. He wasn't sure what is was, but it reminded him of when Uncle Siri had driven his bike into the side of the house. He was alright, and Daddy was laughing, but Mommy was furious, and started shouting at him about crushing her garden. But, in the end, they were all laughing, it was funny. This wasn't a funny crash. Something was wrong. He could hear Mommy scream, and daddy shouting something.
"Go, just go! Get to Harry, I'll hold him off!"
Daddy was scared. But that didn't make sense, Daddy was never scared. Not even when there was a bug in the house, and Mommy needed him to kill it. Daddy just didn't get scared. Ever. Suddenly, there was another voice downstairs. It was high, and cold, and it almost reminded him of Mommy's tea kettle when it began hissing. It sent a chill down Harry's spine, he didn't like it. Daddy shouted back, but he didn't say anything. He just, shouted, before something hit the floor downstairs. Mommy slammed the door to his room open. She looked at him, absolutely terrified. Her eyes were wet, Harry couldn't remember ever seeing that. He wondered what it meant. Mommy turned away from him, to face the stranger. He had followed her into the room, Harry hadn't even seen him enter. His face was completely covered by his black hood, but Harry could see his hands, and how unnaturally pale they were. His complexion and his robes made him look something like the reaper in the story Uncle Siri liked to read to him, the one about the three brothers. Mommy stepped back, putting herself between Harry and the stranger.
"No, no, don't hurt Harry, kill me instead, just, just don't hurt Harry!"
What did "hurt" mean? Harry had never heard the word before. Mommy was so scared, she was shaking. He could only imagine that "hurt" wasn't a good thing.
The man laughed, and told her to step aside. She shook her head no, and began shaking even harder. The stranger let out another chuckle, and raised his wand. Harry had seen Mommy and Daddy use theirs before, to clean up after him, and reach things in high places. Wands were good things, it didn't make sense for Mommy to be afraid of one. But this man wasn't reaching for something, or cleaning a nappy. Instead, his want erupted with a stream of vibrant green light. The man repeated the same strange words he had heard earlier, and Harry watched as the light hit her in the chest, and his Mommy fell to the floor. Suddenly, she was very quiet, and she had stopped shaking. For a moment, she seemed peaceful, like she was sleeping. Why was she sleeping? The man stepped forward, and kicked her to the side. He was just kicked Mommy, why didn't she wake up? He looked down at his Mommy, waiting for her to get up, to laugh again, and tell him that everything was ok.
Things didn't seem ok. This man felt dangerous, why did he make Mommy cry? He turned his face away from the sleeping form of his mother, and looked back at the reaper. Harry still couldn't see his face, but he could see the wand pointed at him now. Was the reaper going to make him go to sleep too? That didn't seem so bad, Mommy and Daddy made him go to bed all the time. Nothing about tonight made any sense. Where was Daddy? Why hadn't he come upstairs to check on Mommy? He heard the reaper begin speaking again, that same, strange language he couldn't make sense of, before he saw the green light again, this time rushing towards him. The man was still laughing.
Then, there was nothing.
He was three years old.
It was a Tuesday, sometime in June. Harry looked out the window of the Dursley's kitchen, enjoying a moment of peace before Dudley would come running in. The other boy seemed to have made a game of knocking Harry down at every possible chance. It was hardly a fair game, seeing as Dudley was not only a year older than him, but he was also much larger. Not that it was difficult to be larger than the green eyed toddler, who, due to his petite frame, was still frequently mistaken for a two year old. Harry's size never bothered him though, since this at least allowed him to hide in smaller spaces when he wanted to get away from the bully.
Harry turned his attention away from the birds flitting about outside, and looked at his Aunt Petunia. She was flitting back and forth about the kitchen in much the same manner as the birds outside, making sure she had everything ready to make breakfast for Dudley, who had been reminding everyone for the last week and a half that today was his fourth birthday. Petunia began opening and closing every drawer before her frantically, looking for something that had been misplaced. She stood up, placed her hands on her hips in an exasperated manner, and looked up at the boy sitting by the window.
"Harry, where's my good skillet?" The question was brisk, and almost spat out. Anyone else may think she was just too upset to ask nicely, but Harry knew that was just the way his Aunt was. He also knew that usually best course of action form here was to smile, answer, and fetch the object in question for her.
"It should be in the cabinet on the left." He got up from the table and headed towards the cabinet, reaching up on his tippy toes as high as he could, but couldn't quite reach it. Aunt Petunia walked over and got it, pushing him slightly out of the way. She went back to running around the kitchen, and Harry decided to stay out of her way for now. As he watched how his Aunt doted over every last detail of Dudley's birthday breakfast, Harry couldn't help but be overwhelmed with questions. One in particular.
"Hey, Aunt Petunia," He asked, nervously. She snapped back almost immediately.
"How come," he paused. "How come Dudley calls you and Uncle Vernon Mum and Dad, and I call you Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon?"
She froze. It was the last question she could imagine the boy before her asking. Did he really not understand why he lived with them? She looked up at him, something akin to sympathy almost reflecting in her eye, before it was replaced by disdain. Or maybe it was bitterness, Harry wasn't sure. He didn't quite know the difference yet. Petunia Dursley turned back towards her morning preparations before speaking again, to avoid making eye contact with her nephew.
"Foolish boy, it's because Dudley is our son, and you're not. Your mother was my sister, and now you live with me. That's that."
"Oh...Well, if you're not my parents, then where are they?"
"Where are who?"
The question was so innocent, so naive, yet it made Petunia Dursley's blood want to burn. It was all her sister's fault, her oh so perfect sister, with all her freakishness, who always had a habit of showing up with some new strangeness as soon as her life would become normal; When they were children, and she would float through the air, make flowers move without touching them, and then befriending that other freak from Spinner's End, when she would come home for the summers, with newts in her pockets and insanity in her head, when she had become engaged to Vernon, and Lily had the nerve to bring her worthless freak of a boyfriend to visit. And then, when her sister had finally seemed to drop out of her life for good, what do you know? She had gotten herself blown up and stuck Petunia with a constant reminder of what her sister really was, a constant reminder of the stain she could never wash from the family, no matter how hard she tried to be normal. And to top it off, the child didn't even realize she and Vernon weren't his parents. She grit her teeth and looked up at the boy. He was watching her, unblinking, watching her with Lily's eyes. Those eyes were the only thing he shared with her sister, but it was enough to make Petunia want to scream. She looked away, unable to take her sister's gaze any longer.
"Your parents are... They're dead. Now, go. Just... Just get out of here."
Petunia didn't trust herself to say any more than that. She didn't want to begin shouting, and wake up Vernon and her precious Duddykins. Harry wasn't sure why Aunt Petunia was so upset, or if he had done something wrong. Without a word, he left the room and went back to the cupboard under the stairs. He would wait there until Dudley came thundering down the stairs.
Aunt Petunia had used a strange word. Harry wasn't sure he'd ever heard it before, and he wasn't sure what it meant. It was times like this that the green eyed boy wished he could read, then he could find Uncle Vernon's dictionary and look it up.
But whatever it meant, it sounded nice, if it was where his parents were.
That was the first time Harry James Potter wished he was dead.
He was five years old.
Harry and Dudley had entered kindergarten a few months ago, and while Dudley had many friends, and was always watched by their teacher, Ms. Parker, Harry seemed to have a habit of fading into the background. Not that it bothered him; to Harry, it was better to be ignored than to be chased by Dudley and his new best friend, Pierce Polkiss. "Harry Hunting" was the name of their game. The rules roughly consisted of counting to five, during which time Harry would run as far as he could, and then Dudley and Pierce would run after him. The fact that Dudley couldn't actually count wasn't considered when the rules were written. But it didn't matter whether Dudley counted to seven, or if he only made it to three; He still could only catch Harry about half the time. It wasn't exactly hard to out run Dudley, who was already significantly larger than the rest of their class, but nonetheless, it made Harry proud. It made him feel like there was something he could do, something he could do right. After all, so much went wrong around him.
Like the day before school started, when Aunt Petunia tried to give him a haircut. She was furious, since his thick ebony locks were so unruly, and had decided to cut all of it off, save for his bangs, to cover his scar. Harry had been mortified when he saw the cut, partly because of how horrendous the top of his head looked, with the uneven buzz-cut, and partly because if he was going to cut his hair, he'd want to show off his scar; it was the one cool thing about him. After complaining about the cut to his aunt, he'd been promptly send to the cupboard without dinner, where Harry spent the evening dreading school the next day. But when the Dursley's came to get him out the next morning, all his hair was back. Harry was sure he'd never seen Uncle Vernon's face turn quite the shade of purple it had been that morning, and it was a color he liked to look back on whenever he needed a laugh.
There was also the event two weeks ago, when Dudley and Pierce had decided during recess that a game of Harry Hunting was an order, and had forgotten the rule about counting to five. Harry had been climbing the monkey bars at the time, and only saw them coming at the last second. He dropped down, and began running faster than he could remember ever running before. But every time he'd look back, they'd still be there, and they'd be closer and closer.
Then, he had passed the old oak tree at the edge of the school, and turned to run alongside the fence. He knew it would lead to a dead end, when the length of metal grid wall met the other corner, but he hoped that Pierce would give up, and Dudley would collapse before then. Only, when he turned at the tree, the fence vanished. So did the tree, and the school, the soccer field where the older kids were playing, and Dudley and Pierce. In their place was a street he could only remember seeing while riding the bus, some two miles away from school. One of the neighborhood ladies had seen him wandering up and down the street in confusion, and had asked Harry to come inside. She had called the school and told them where he was.
They hadn't even noticed he was missing.
The Dursley's were furious when they came to pick him up. they were certain he had simply ran away from school, and when he told them we was running from Dudley, they accused him of just trying to get his cousin in trouble. Aunt Petunia wouldn't even listen when Harry said he had no idea how he ended up two miles away from school.
After that day, it became a bit harder for Harry to be ignored by the school faculty. The principal didn't want a repeat of the event when the Dursley's had come, and told them that if their child ever went missing without anyone noticing, they would sue the school for negligence. The school didn't realize they were only referring to Dudley, and chose to watch both Dudley and Harry like hawks. Perhaps that was why he was in trouble today. Perhaps if he hadn't disappeared, he would have just been ignored today, and Ms. Parker wouldn't have sent him to the Principal's office. But still, Harry didn't know what he had done wrong, Nothing weird had happened to him today. Whatever he did, it was apparently bad enough to have him sent out of class, accompanied by the teacher's assistant and left sitting on the bench outside Mr. Colton's office. Harry hadn't been sitting long, maybe five minutes, but it felt like forever. He decided to pass the time by making shapes out of the pattern on the carpet. He had just found a bunny and two fish when the door to the office opened.
"Harry, the principal can see you know. Your Aunt and Uncle will be here soon."
Harry's knees shook a little. Had he really done something so bad that they had to call the Dursleys? He shook his head nervously, and entered the office. The principal, Mr. Colton, was sitting at his desk, looking down at some papers in worry. Mr. Colton was a friendly enough man; he was a bit on the short side, portly, and had lost much of his hair. What little remained had turned mostly gray. Were Harry not so scared of what might happen next, he would probably ask where the man's hair went. He kept his attention on the gray patches, until the Principal looked up, regaining his focus. He coughed before speaking.
"Harry, surely, you know why your teacher sent you here, right?" Harry shook his head no. The Principal sounded worried, but Harry doubted the man was as nervous as him.
"Did I do something wrong, Sir?" Mr. Colton sighed at Harry's question, and looked back down at his papers. Harry sat up a little, to see what he was reading. After a moment, he realized that the man wasn't reading anything. He was looking at a drawing. A drawing Harry immediately recognized and he smiled. Maybe he wasn't in trouble after all.
"Oh! That's my drawing! Ms. Parker wanted us to draw something about , err, e-motions, and what e-mo-tions make us think about our families. Do you like it?" Harry was excited and babbling a bit. Emotion was still an unfamiliar word to him though, so that slowed him down. He was smiling, and looking at Mr. Colton, waiting for an answer. The Principal just looked down again, and shook his head. His forehead was resting in his palms, and he had a look of fatigue to him now.
"Sir? Is, is something wrong?" The boy's smile disappeared, and his eyes seemed to darken a bit. Mr. Colton looked up at him, and handed Harry the drawing. Harry reached out to take it, stretching his arm all the way to reach it. He pulled the drawing towards him, admiring his work again, and trying to figure out what was wrong with it. Harry really thought it was a lovely drawing; a scene of butterflies, and flowers, and the sun drawn in bright yellow crayon, all draped around four letters, all capitalized, in the middle of the page.
D E A D
Harry smiled when he read the word. Dead. He looked back at the Principal, hoping he would smile too, but the man just looked worried.
"Harry, do you know what that word means?"
Harry frowned at the question. He was fairly bright, he could read better than most of the class, and had already learned to write most of his letters, but, he didn't know the meaning of his favorite word. He shook his head no.
"I heard my Aunt Petunia say it once. I asked her where my parents where, and she said they were dead. So, I think that if it's where they are, it must be a sort of happy thing, right?" He smiled innocently, hoping he was right, but his smile faltered when he saw the look on Mr. Colton's face. He already knew otherwise.
Before the aging Principal could say anything else, the Dursley's came into the room. Mr. Colton spoke to them for a bit, but Harry wasn't listening. His heart was pounding, he was terrified that he had really done something wrong. But, he still didn't know what. Harry went back to making shapes in the carpet, trying to think about anything other than what his relatives were saying. He didn't even notice when he was dismissed from school early and the Dursley's led him out of the room. The ride home was a silent blur. When they arrived back at Privet Drive, Harry followed Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon into the house wordlessly. They didn't seem to be in a mood for talking, so he left to go to his cupboard. But first, he went to find a dictionary. Once the book had been secured, he locked himself under the stairs, and looked up the word that had everyone so concerned. It took some time, and it took almost as long for Harry to read it, but eventually, he found it.
dead : adj \ˈded\ : deprived of life , no longer alive
He was seven years old.
Well, not quite yet. But he would be, tomorrow. Not that anyone on Privet Drive, Harry included, cared much. It was July 30th, probably sometime in mid-afternoon. It had been a few hours since Harry had last seen a clock, so he wasn't sure. The summer air was fresh, yet heavy, as if it would begin raining any minute. He lay in the grass, staring up at the clouds, but not really noticing them. He was aware of many things at the moment; the grass tickling his face, and the dew running down the blades, The sound of the swings, creaking a block away, while the children riding them squealed in delight, and their parents warned them to be careful, the smell of dirt and hydrangeas, like the ones he was hiding under, but none of them mattered to him. It was like existing in a state of suspended animation, waiting for one thing to snap Harry back into reality. That thing was the sound Dudley Dursley and Pierce Polkiss approaching.
Over the summer holiday, the boys had become more bored than ever, and had added a new rule to their game of Harry Hunting; when they caught him, they were allowed to punch him until his glasses broke. Harry wasn't exactly fond of the idea of having to come up with another excuse to tell Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon about why his glasses broke, and he knew they'd never believe the truth, so, he thought it best to hide until they got bored of searching, and went inside to watch the television. This could take hours some days, but that was ok. Harry was sure this would be how he spent his birthday this year, hiding under a hydrangea bush from his cousin, but he wasn't bothered. His birthdays had never been a big deal anyways, they almost didn't matter to him.
It would be a lie to say he wasn't jealous, he was. Harry was sick of it, sick of having to lie to his Aunt and Uncle about his cousin's constant tormenting, because they wouldn't hear anyone defaming their son, he was sick of everyone looking through him, of acting like he wasn't there, of talking about him like he wasn't in the room. He was sick and tired of not having a family.
Harry shook his head, trying to clear the thoughts from his mind. There was a caterpillar crawling on a branch over his head, so he turned all his focus towards the orange and green creature. It didn't work, he couldn't stop thinking about them. Did they even realize how much they bothered him? How much they hurt him? What child wanted to hear themselves referred to as "that freak" when their relatives thought they weren't listening. Or worse, when those relatives knew he was listening, and didn't care. What was it that Harry had done wrong, what did he do to make them hate him so much? They never said they hated him, no, but it was apparent in everything they did. They doted on Dudley's every whim, spoiled him rotten, and congratulated him for everything, no matter how trivial his accomplishments were. Yet they never spared him so much as a second glance.
A new thought emerged in Harry's head, that maybe the problem was with the Dursley's, and not with him. But the idea died as quickly as it had arrived. Of course the problem was him. It had always been him. Harry raised a hand to wipe his eyes. His face was wet, but, that was just the dew, he lied to himself.
His train of thought abruptly crashed when he finally heard what he had feared. Dudley and Pierce were on their way back to Number Four, talking as loudly as they possible could.
"Come on Dud, he's not here, let's go inside."
"Yeah, ok. But this stinks, I was looking forward to chasing the freak."
"Hah, me too! But there's always tomorrow, right?" Pierce laughed, and Dudley laughed in turn. Harry had practically stopped breathing, trying as hard as possible not to be noticed. If they don't look right when they open the door, they'll never see me, he thought.
The bullies reached the door, Harry heard it squeak open. He waited for a moment, one, two, and exhaled. He was safe now, and decided to sit up. The boy winced a bit when he put pressure on his left arm, his three-sizes-too-big shirt only barely covering the bruises above his elbow. Harry knew it was an accident, that Uncle Vernon wouldn't have done it on purpose. Usually, he was terrified to touch Harry. Harry ignored the thought and the pain, and stood up, realizing his mistake. He hadn't waited for the door to close, Dudley and Pierce were still standing there, watching him.
Harry swallowed, as a sickening smile stretched across Dudley's face. Pierce just laughed.
"Counting time is over, let's get him Dud!" Shouted Pierce. Harry didn't wait for them to say anything else. He just turned to run. It took him a moment to untangle from the Hydrangea, not long really, but long enough to give Dudley a handicap. Usually Harry could put a distance of twenty feet between them in a matter of seconds, but this time, Dudley was only about seven feet away, Pierce leading at about six. Harry's was only aware of the sounds of footsteps behind him.
What happened next, Harry wasn't sure. He knew he had stepped on a shoelace, and almost fell over. He caught his balance, fortunately, but Dudley and Pierce were right behind him, only inches away from grabbing the back of his shirt. He looked back, green eyes wide with fear, and then, then the view behind him changed, like he was looking at the worlds through a tunnel. There was a nauseating feeling of being constricted, and pushed through some kind of tube, he could barely breath. And the heat, the heat was intense, like he was standing right next to a bonfire. He really thought he was going to die.
And then, he was a block away, standing next to the park. Harry's heart was still pounding, whether it was from the sensation, the chase, or both, he didn't know. Harry spared a second to look back at his cousin, who was now shouting something. Harry couldn't tell what though, he was too far away. Nervously, he took a few steps forward, and began running again.
He just ran. It was the only thing he could do right, and it was the only thing that felt safe. Too scared to turn back and too scared to ask anyone else for help. The only thing that mattered right now was his heart fiercely beating in time with his feet against the pavement. Harry couldn't remember ever running as fast as he did that day. He couldn't remember when Privet Drive disappeared, when he stopped recognizing the streets around him, or when the sun set. All that mattered was the thump, thump, thump, reminding him he was safe for another moment.
By the time he stopped running, the skies had turned black. Harry didn't know where he was, but he suspected somewhere in London. The streets were nearly empty, save for a few odd couples and the stray beggar here and there. A few street lamps were out, but the sidewalk was lit enough. He passed by an electronics store, and stopped for a moment to check the time. It was three minutes past midnight. Despite being alone, in a dank part of London, with literally nothing but the clothes on his back, he smiled.
"Happy birthday, Harry." He whispered to himself.
Notes : Yes, I call it Soccer. In Britain, you really can call it either one, and I don't want to confuse too many people.
Also, the definition of dead is not mine, it's from Merriam Webster.
I own absolutely nothing. Well, that's a lie, I own the 11-disk set on blu-ray and all the books, but that's it! Rowling owns the rest, and I'm clearly not her.
If you enjoyed my story, please review it! Also, if you're interested in BETA work, please contact me! I would like to have a different BETA for every chapter, so the odds are in your favor~
Also, I am in my senior year right now, and getting ready to graduate. So updated may be slow, but I'll try and get something up every two weeks of so.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my first work, I hope you come back for more!
-Lady Aeribeth Leyeltz