I know I shouldn't really start a new story while I am still stuck on my old one, but writer's block took over. I would really appreciate it if you could tell me what you think about this story, as I am as of yet uncertain as to where this is going and how good it is. :)

Harry Potter had never understood why he was different. He knew that he was a freak, but he didn't know why. He knew that his parents had killed themselves when he was very young; His uncle said that it was because they didn't want to have to put up with him. But he also knew that he should never complain.

He knew that he had then been bundled off to live with his aunt and uncle, who hated him with a passion but were kind enough to allow him to share their food and clothes. They even allowed him a cupboard to sleep in, and access to the downstairs bathroom, so he could go to the toilet and wash in the sink.

Their son Dudley, however, made no attempt at kindness. Even if his aunt and uncle's beatings were never enough to make him bleed, merely bruise, his cousin was intent on turning Harry into a being made up of scar tissue held together by a few cracked bones.

Harry eventually worked out that there were six main rules to living with the Dursleys.

1. Don't ask questions

2. Don't look directly at anyone.

3. Don't complain or be ungrateful

4. Address people as 'sir' or 'miss'.

5. Don't eat or speak unless permitted by a Dursley.

6. Never, under any circumstances, talk to anyone outside of the house.

Any outsider could see that he had been downgraded to a status even lower than that of an animal, but he was willing to abide by these rules in order to thank the Dursleys for their never ceasing generosity in allowing him to live with them.

Every day he was given a long list of chores to do, and he was beginning to get very good at them.

Harry was an exceptionally bright boy but, when he was eight, he had received better marks than Dudley in a test. He had been pulled aside by Vernon and shouted at for almost an hour for making his son look stupid. From then on, Harry's grades had gotten worse and worse.

"BOY!" Came the shout from downstairs. It was unmistakeably Uncle Vernon's voice and Harry could already picture the exact shade of dark blotchy purple that this sort of tone would have conjured upon his irate uncle's face. He smiled a little, and then immediately berated himself for daring to think such a thing about the master of the house in which he lived.

He sighed and heaved his 10 year old body up from where he had been lying, polishing the skirting boards in his aunt and uncle's bedroom. This job was not one of his most tedious – usually it was just thrust upon him when his mother's sister and her husband could think of nothing else for him to do – but it did involve a lot of awkward corners and places such as behind their king sized bed and behind the door, often leading, as it had today, to a rather sweaty Harry. He deftly screwed the lid back on the can of polish and hurried out of the room, careful to shut the door behind him. He descended the stairs, and walked along the hallway to the kitchen, which he had finished cleaning from top to bottom only a few hours before.

In the centre of the gleaming white room stood his Uncle Vernon, his spectacular moustache quivering upon a face that was shining a magnificent colour reminiscent of beetroot.

"Explain yourself, Freak!" he bellowed, swelling with rage.

Harry really was at a complete loss to try to think what he could possibly have done wrong. He'd done everything that was on his usual rota of chores, plus the additional jobs that Vernon and his wife Petunia had shouted on to his agenda.

"It is a very warm day outside, Freak." Spat his uncle.

Yeah, he'd got that. Even with the windows open his aunt and uncle's bedroom had been stiflingly hot, and his baggy grey t-shirt was streaked with sweat.

"I came inside to fetch Petunia and I a nice cool drink of gin and tonic, seeing as you could not be bothered to do it for me." Continued the beefy man before him, who was now apoplectic with rage. Well Harry wasn't allowed to touch the spirits cabinet, save to polish it. Vernon kept the key on his person at all times, seemingly worried that Harry, or 'Freak' as he was more generally known, would get drunk and destroy something, so he couldn't possibly be in trouble for that. And he'd been upstairs, as asked (demanded), polishing the skirting boards.

He should have thought to ask his aunt and uncle is the required anything to cool themselves down on such a humid day. It was the least he could have done.

"I went to the freezer, and what did I find?" shouted the man, in a manner that suggested that he was daring Harry to answer. "ANSWER ME BOY!"

"I- I don't know sir." Harry replied, meekly. He was beginning to tremble, faced with the towering man stood before him. Suddenly he gasped and fell to the floor as a massive meaty hand struck him across the face. The can of polish rattled as it bounced on the slate-tiled floor, and sparks flashed before Harry's eyes as his head connected with the ground a second later.

"More to the point is what I didn't find." Seethed his uncle, venomously. "There were no ice cubes in the freezer at all." Harry froze as he realised his dreadful mistake. How had he forgotten ice cubes? He knew what a hot day it was, yet he had forgotten to check that there was enough ice in the freezer to supply the Dursleys with chilled drinks for their comfort. He felt guilt-racked as he realised how ungrateful he must have seemed to his aunt and uncle, the only people who were willing to take him in when his parents took their lives.

"I'm sorry sir." He said, his voice trembling "I'll prepare some right away sir, they will be ready in a couple of hours sir." He thought maybe he had overdone it on the 'sir's.

His uncle seemed to swell again, his face reddening even more, if that were possible. "That's just not good enough." He spat, struggling with every syllable. He reached down and picked up the can of polish. He pointed the nozzle at the cowering boy on the floor, malice gleaming in his beady eyes, and depressed the pump. Burning spray erupted all over the boy, smearing his thick glasses and filling his lungs, choking him.

He continued to spray until the pump guttered and the stream of droplets ceased. Harry was left wheezing on the floor of the kitchen, his eyes streaming and his body reeling from the intense pain the spray had brought to every breath. Vernon knelt down beside the boy, still holding the can and smiled.

"Have you learnt your lesson now, freak?" he asked viciously. Harry nodded slowly, tears of pain running down his cheeks. "Good." Replied Vernon, and he raised his hand.

He brought the can down hard on the side of Harry's head, knocking him back to the floor with a gasp. A few drops of blood ran down the boy's face and he lay still. Vernon dragged the boy out of the kitchen and shoved him roughly into the small cupboard located in the gap underneath the stairs.

He closed and locked the door, but not before throwing the bloodstained can in after him, with a derisive snort of "Freak!"

This was the first time that he had actually been physically punished so hard by his aunt or uncle that the blows were sufficient to draw blood. Of course he had been hit before, and of course he had always been Dudley's favourite punching bag and he had, on occasion, drawn blood, but never before had he been punished this severely.

After this, the corporal punishment only increased in frequency from his so-called family. He had been unconscious for almost two days after the polish-can incident and, after he ventured fearfully out from his cupboard, he was forced to do all of the chores that had accumulated whilst he had laid exanimate in his tiny room, including clearing up the bloodstains.

Three years passed in pretty much the same fashion. It was a few days after Dudley's birthday. His beefy, obese cousin was always taken on some fabulous trip by his parents, while Harry stayed at home to prepare a home coming birthday feast. Because of this, Harry knew that he was about thirteen or fourteen now, having counted Dudley's birthdays.

Of course his age was of no great consequence to the Dursleys – they treated him just the same whatever. He awoke early in the morning and silently got dressed. He left his cupboard, clutching his toothpaste and toothbrush, and crossed the hall to the small downstairs bathroom. It was a small, boxlike room with a tiny window, containing just a toilet and a sink, where Harry washed.

Having brushed his teeth, he walked into the kitchen in order to start preparing breakfast. The clock on the microwave told him in flashing red digits that it was almost eight o' clock and that he had better get a move on. He, moving as fast as he could without making too much noise, wiped down all of the kitchen surfaces, topped up the ice machine in the fridge door with water and poured water into the kettle in order to prepare coffee for the sleeping Dursleys.

At exactly eight o' clock, he made his way upstairs, delicately balancing a tray holding three steaming mugs on one of his hands as he knocked on his aunt and uncle's door.

A few minutes later, having handed his aunt and uncle their coffees and drawn the curtains to allow the early morning sunshine to pierce the room, he made his way along the landing and tentatively knocked on his cousin's door. He entered, carefully stepping over the litter of old and broken toys which covered the floor and, as quietly as possible, set the mug down on Dudley's bedside cabinet.

Disaster struck, however, as he was leaving the room he stepped on some broken shard of plastic, which dug into his foot and then snapped, the sound echoing unusually loud.

Dudley sat up in bed with a gasp and immediately saw his cousin trying to leave the room. "Don't move, freak!" he yelled, pulling his blubbery mass out of bed. Harry froze. Dudley's hand closed tightly round his arm and yanked him backwards, towards the bed. His thin frame collapsed to the floor as Dudley's meaty fist connected with the side of his face. He was then drenched in scalding coffee as his bullying cousin tipped the mug of coffee over him, throwing the mug down too for good measure. "Get lost freak." Said his cousin, venomously, and Harry clambered to his feet and hurried out of the room, his skin burning from the coffee.

About an hour later, and the smell of bacon had lured the Dursleys down to the kitchen, where Harry was preparing a full English breakfast for them. When Petunia entered the room, she strode purposefully across the room and shoved Harry aside from where he was frying the bacon.

"How dare you wake up my precious son." She hissed, her eyes glinting with malice. "You disrupted my little darling's beauty sleep. What do you have to say for yourself, Freak?"

"I'm sorry for waking Master Dudley, Ma'am." He said, and Petunia seemed satisfied, but at the last second Harry's eyes darted up from where he had had them locked on the floor and met hers.

Furiously, she grabbed the frying pan and her nephew, pressing the scalding pan against his back, which was only clad in a loose shirt. He screamed out in pain as the hot metal burned into his flesh, and before long he could smell the acrid stench of burning skin. Eventually she released the pan and Harry collapsed to the floor, gasping the words "I'm sorry, I'm sorry..." over and over again.

She grunted and, after thrusting a piece of paper at him – his list of chores for the day – she left the room.

Once he had recovered enough to stand, he continued to prepare the breakfast, as he knew that any more delay would herald another retribution. He felt so stupid – a freak like him was not worthy to look at a normal person.

Eventually he completed the task and carefully set the dishes out on the dining table, at which the Dursleys were sat impatiently. Once he had done so, he stood, unmoving, in the corner of the room. Uncle Vernon took a small plate and placed upon it a single rasher of bacon, and a crust of toast. He beckoned to Harry, and thrust the plate into his hands with a grunt.

"Thank-you Sir." The boy intoned, and he promptly returned to the side of the room, where he sat on the floor and proceeded to eat the food with his fingers.

It was late the same day. Dudley and Petunia had gone to bed, and Vernon was out drinking again. Harry was lying in the pile of blankets and old curtains that made up his bed, thinking about his lifeand desperately trying to avoid lying directly on his back, which had been twinge-ing and burning all day. Once he was sure that there was no one else awake in the house, he snuck out of his cupboard and into the kitchen, where the smarmy microwave clock told him that it was quarter to midnight, and he really should be in bed. He opened the cupboard where the first aid kit was stored and began to rummage through it, in order to find the burn salve.

Suddenly the front door banged open and Uncle Vernon's large frame was silhouetted in the moonlight shining through the doorway. He was obviously drunk as he threw his wallet and keys down on the side table and staggered towards where Harry stood, frozen with terror, in the kitchen.

As the great hulking man lumbered into the kitchen, fat, grubby hands fumbling stupidly at the light switch, he caught sight of the emaciated teenager standing, frozen, in the middle of the room. Fury clouded his face and he charged drunkenly towards where Harry trembled.

"Stealing boy?" he shouted, and with that he grabbed the thin youth by his neck, his chubby hands meeting around the boy's scrawny body.

He began to squeeze, and Harry could feel his breath being constricted. He began to kick out at his uncle, knowing that he would pay eventually. His weak blows would normally have little effect, but Vernon was inebriated, and very unsteady. A few lucky blows knocked him off balance, and he dropped Harry to the floor.

With barely a moment's hesitation, Harry jumped to his feet, dashing out of the room. He pushed past Petunia who was groggily stepping off the bottom step, and grabbed Vernon's wallet from the side table before throwing the front door open and dashing out into the night.

He ran languidly through the streets, the burn on his back cracking and jarring him with pain every time he turned a corner. Eventually he reached the station and, seeing that there was a train due almost immediately for somewhere called Trowbridge, bought a ticket and rushed onto the appropriate platform. If the few people who were out this late at night found his appearance odd, they made no comment.

He boarded the train and, almost as soon as it left the station, his head lolled and he drifted into a restless, disturbing-dream-filled sleep.

Thank you so much to Sarapha for your really lovely message. :) xx