The future – This was it, this was the day it all ended, the day he was going to finally be free from it all. He was going to be free from the pain of the beatings, the hard work of the chores, the disdain he was sneered at with – everything. This was the day that he was going to be ultimately set free, it was not a happy thought, not really, but if he tried it could make him smile. The Dursleys, and Harry simply called them that now for he could not bring himself to call them his family anymore, not since he'd turned five, were taking their son and going to stay with a relative for a while, Marge, if he remembered the vile woman's name correctly, this gave him that chance.

Petunia, he had learnt her name after a little while, it took him time to say it correctly, always made sure to unlock the cupboard he lived in before they left on one of their holidays. He remembered that out of his short life he enjoyed these extended weekends the most, and it did usually last the whole weekend, from Fridays evening to early Monday morning or Sunday evening and sometimes they lasted longer, an entire week, maybe even two. He was allowed to eat and drink as much as he wanted, of whatever he wanted, the food left in the house would only go off and he'd have to throw it out anyway. He could pretty much do whatever he wished too as long as the house was spotless and a hot meal awaited them on their return.

He would spend many an hour sitting on the settee with the television turned up loud, pizzas and popcorn and fizzy drinks surrounding him. Sometimes he would go upstairs and spend hours playing on his cousin's game consoles or his computer, the one he had not taken with him, before falling asleep on a real bed in his cousin's room or his cousin's second bedroom. He could read whatever he wanted and not have to write about it. He could sleep in until the afternoon and not have to worry about anything or anybody's needs but his own. He was never caught, so he always escaped a beating, sometimes he could even find himself smiling.

They set easy conditions, perhaps not fair ones, and he had learnt what was and was not fair some time ago, but easy nonetheless. He had to cook for them, they required three meals a day, clean up after them, manage the garden, prepare their clothes and do their shopping. In return he was given warmth and shelter in his cupboard, clean water and plenty of solace and privacy. Light was something he was rarely gifted with although he managed to fix a torch in the room filled with his cousin's old toys and hid it in his 'room'. Food was another matter, if they remembered, it was a daily occurrence, if not, well the longest he had gone without was two weeks and it was a period he did not wish to repeat.

They locked him away for the most part, and rarely beat him, it happened at most once a week, a few lashes on the back with Vernon's belt, or a couple of strikes to the face with his fist, or for serious offences in the kitchen when he burnt the food, a whack with a frying pan from Petunia. It was never severe and he was assured it was much less than he deserved. Usually it was for his displays of 'freakishness', like when he accidentally made Vernon fly back into the wall after he had threatened to beat him black and blue for spilling the dinner even though it was Dudley's fault for purposefully tripping him up. Or the time Petunia had cut off all his hair except the fringe she left to cover his 'horrible, ugly scar' and he made it grow back over night.

He did not know he managed to do these things and they were not intentional but he learnt to never try and explain his case because the beatings would only be worse, and he was assured he deserved the beatings he got from them anyhow, no matter what. Once he learnt this, he believed he was four and half when he did, he did not cry out when the pain hit him, he just gritted his teeth, steeled himself and waited for it to be over. Afterwards he would crawl back into his cupboard and try to make his stomach stop rumbling for the period of abstinence that usually followed. He did not speak or make a sound, sometimes they forgot he was there, which resulted in the horrible two weeks, and sometimes, just sometimes, he could forget it too.

He did not go to school or play like Dudley got to, a boy who lived in the house that was his age he learnt was apparently his blood family but it was easier to forget that. The family he had served had told him that they could not let his freakishness contaminate the whole world, and his chores kept him too busy anyway. However, when the child had become too lazy to complete his own school assignments, his guardians had grudgingly taught him how to read, write and do mental arithmetic so he could do them instead. He lunged at this unexpected opportunity and drank all the information down greedily, and he was a fast learner, he always had been.

He was given books to read too, history, geography, science, music, French and Spanish, he enjoyed learning all he could from them. During his long periods of abstinence while he was locked away, studying was the only thing he could do to take his focus away from the gnawing in his stomach. The torch hung from his belt from the ceiling of the cupboard and he sat with his knees drawn up, the work resting against them, he could slave away from hours at a time. It crossed his mind that it was strange his relatives would allow their Dudley to do this seeming as it impaired his learning, but he guessed the strain of them seeing the boy temporarily stressed or upset at having to do something he did not want to outweighed the obvious lasting negative effects.

He always completed his cousin's assignments to the best of his ability, in elegant handwriting, a style he copied from the war letters in his history book. It was not for his cousin's sake, he could not care less about the boy, if his cousin would not think before striking him or getting him into trouble he would not think before returning the favour. Besides, if he cared about the child then it would be his best interests the boy did his own work. But he put himself first, he was pretty sure anything that was not done well would result in a beating for him, insisting Dudley did his own schoolwork would definitely be considered a heinous crime.

He did the work, and extra, to further his own understanding of the world he was hidden from. The crowing of the boy about his high marks and the rewards he'd gotten for them upon his return from school despite the fact that none of his work was his own, assured Harry that he was doing things right. He did not care about the fact someone else was getting praise for his own hard work, he did not know anybody to get praise from. Nobody would congratulate him if they knew he was the freak he was, it was better someone else get the credit. He enjoyed doing the assignments and he knew no different, that always made everything easier.

He was rewarded with more work of a higher level, and a fancy ink pen to write with, and even nice paper to write on along with a light bulb in his cupboard and crayons so he could finally work with more than the torchlight to help. The crayons were his pride and joy and he used one of the pieces of paper to write 'Harry's room' in green and stuck it to the inside of the door. It gave him a sense of self, some things were well and truly his, he did drawings, as many as he could on the paper he was given without being left with none to do the work on. He was given plenty of fiction books to read as well as the textbooks he devoured, as long as he wrote reports on them afterwards.

Lately though, he had begun to question the point, only to himself mind you, speaking too much or louder than a mumble and especially asking questions was a crime punishable by a severe beating. As his intelligence grew he had looked to the future and to his great dismay he had seen nothing there. Was this how he was to spend the rest of his days, locked in a cupboard slaving away over work but never allowed to apply what he'd learnt to the world he only saw in pictures or on the trips to the supermarket? Or maybe he was to wait on these beasts that did not deserve his services until his body gave out with exhaustion?

He did not like either of these possibilities; he did not like his life at the moment, what was the point of suffering more? He had nowhere else to go and nobody to turn to, he was a disgusting little freak, no one would ever, could ever, possibly love him. He had tried his best, he had tried to be a good boy, do all his chores and all the school work he was given to a high standard. He had not complained or asked questions or cried out from the beatings or steal food when he was hungry but it had all been to no avail. He had tried, he had really tried, but it was never good enough, he was never good enough. What was the point of continuing a meaningless existence in a world that did not want and had no place for him?

This upcoming holiday was the perfect opportunity. The family would be gone for three whole weeks, he'd been left chore free and unsupervised for the entire time. He'd be free to do what he wanted, a couple of years ago, when he'd been a little boy, before he'd started to think about such troubling thoughts as his future, or lack of, he'd have been elated. He'd have spent the time reading and studying and eating and relaxing and watching television and going for long walks and exercising. He had learnt that muscles wasted away without it and he did not get the chance to do much of it when locked away in his cupboard.

He'd have had a feast every day with the food left behind and slept in Vernon and Petunia's double, comfortable bed. He'd have gone shopping with the money on the counter and brought many non perishable goods, namely chocolate and biscuits. He would hide them in his room, under the yellow mattress or inside the pockets of his clothes, not that his room was ever checked, for the oncoming periods of abstinence he never seemed to get away from. Three weeks of heaven, except it wasn't, because heaven lasts forever, and after the three weeks were up things would go back to the way they were before. The smile he had found would soon fade away as the chores, schoolwork and easier to deal with abstinence kicked back in.

Every time the Dursleys went on one of their holidays, he had a holiday too. The Dursleys did not like the idea of him having a good time, but he always did, after all, his tormentors had left him alone. A holiday was a time when he could do whatever he wanted. It just got harder to revert back to before once he got a taste of something that was even mildly different. He did not want to do that this time, he saw no point, he just wanted to be rid of it all, all the pain, the pointlessness and the loneliness. That is what affected him the most, the sense of being so thoroughly alone. He had no one to turn to; he did not even know what love was, not really.

The only memory he had of what might be it was the faint faded one of a soft lullaby, hummed in the gentle voice of a mother, his mother. When he hummed himself to sleep at night he could imagine it was her singing him to sleep. When he wrapped his arms around his small form for comfort, he could imagine it was her arms wrapped around him and he could feel as if nothing at all could ever hurt him, as if he was being shielded by her very love. After that it was the memory of her scream and a green flash of light while he cried. He wanted to see her again, and his father too, someone else he was sure must have loved him.

He absolutely refused to believe that his father was a drunk that caused a car crash; car crashes don't include a green flash of light. The Dursleys lied to him about everything else or just ignored him, why believe anything they say? There was something else in this world that was being kept from him. There was something more out there that would understand and answer his questions he was sure of it, but it didn't give him a future. He'd missed out of having a childhood and it was a little late to start now even if he ever did find that place he knew must exist somewhere where he fitted in. His determination had been beaten down; the Dursleys had always told him the world would be a better place with one less freak contaminating it.

Nobody would be any the wiser until they came back. He considered writing a note for them to find, but was unsure of what to say, good riddance? No, they were not worth even that, he detested them as much as they he but it was more of a silent understanding than a battle. They would realize what had happened soon enough when they returned to find him gone and no matter how long they waited, he never came back. He had nobody to say goodbye to, there was no one he knew except for Mrs Figg who lived across the street and talked to him whenever she saw him in the garden about her cats. Nobody would miss him if he went to the long, deep river, The Thames, that ran through the city he existed in, and disappeared.