(A/N: Britpicking is welcome, as I am but an ignorant foreigner with a strong affinity for Harry Potter and fish with chips.)
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter nor his wonderful universe, nor have I put J.K. Rowling under the Imperius curse during the writing of her magical books.
HARRY POTTER and the ART of WING CHUN
da hai kwoon
Dudley Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, was often seen as a bit of an idiot. The average adult would look at the boy and immediately label him as a big, dumb bully due to his round body, chubby cheeks, small, beady eyes, and fat hands. Dudley liked to conform with this by speaking only in the most practical of terms, never using words that stretched past two syllables. If he absolutely had to speak at great lengths, he liked to do so with his fists.
As much as Mr. and Mrs. Dursley liked to boast about their only child, they seemed to hold a silent agreement that Dudley would never be involved in anything intellectual. They poured thousands of pounds into him for the best private school, hundreds more into an innumerable amount of lessons for athletics and arts, and still more into texts and documentaries that would help him learn—but whenever the unsatisfactory report card came in the mail, it was tossed away without a second glance. They briefly considered hiring a private tutor, but a well-placed tantrum by Dudley quickly put that idea to an end. After that, it was decided that Mr. and Mrs. Dursley would let Dudley take care of his own education, no matter how poorly, and they could only encourage him.
Yes, Dudley Dursley had quite the reputation.
However, the truth of the matter was that Dudley was very cunning. He noticed that his stupid, frail cousin Harry Potter seemed to be the only one who figured this out. For Dudley could have his parents wrapped around his little finger with a few sloppy tears and a bit of a high-decibel tirade. He could keep his peers in line with the crack of a knuckle. He could shut up his teachers with a toothy grin and a straight posture. Harry saw it all, but Harry couldn't do anything. It was wonderful.
Of course, that wasn't enough for Dudley. Harry instantly became his favorite target because he was so helpless. He didn't have friends who would tattle on him or parents who would protect him. He could bully Harry all he pleased and nobody would do anything.
On this particular fine June day, Dudley summoned Piers, Dennis, and Gordon to his house to "play." (Malcolm couldn't quite make it, but Dudley thought four against one would be enough.) Dennis made sure to bring his special poking-stick, and Piers readied a little bucket of ice water. Gordon managed to steal his father's extra-long jumprope.
"Come outside, Harry," Dudley demanded once his friends were ready.
"I can't. I'm locked in my cupboard," Harry said.
"Unlock the cupboard, Daddy," Dudley demanded.
Vernon Dursley unlocked the cupboard.
Harry clambered out of the cupboard, brushing a spider off his shoulder. It nearly landed on Dudley. Dudley could have thrown a tantrum right there, but he decided to save it for later. He reckoned he was going to pay Harry back once they stepped outside.
"Come outside, Harry," he said.
Harry went outside.
Gordon and Dennis were standing there, the jumprope stretched between them. Dennis's poking-stick lay by his feet. Piers's ice bucket was clutched tightly in his arms. They were all grinning exactly the way Dudley told them to.
Harry turned to Dudley. "The neighbors will notice," he said blandly.
Dudley was a bit unhappy with his calm reaction. "They're all out of town," he taunted.
Harry gave a deep sigh. "Might as well get this over with."
This made Dudley angrier than usual. First his dirty, rotten cousin almost flicked a spider on him, and now he was acting as if Dudley's bullying was nothing to be afraid of? Dudley decided to have a little change of plans.
"Slacken the rope, Gordon, Dennis," he commanded.
Gordon and Dennis slackened the rope. Dudley yanked Harry by the shoulder and shoved him.
"Jump rope, Harry," he commanded.
Harry staggered to his feet. Gordon and Dennis whipped the rope at him. He jumped, clearing it by a hair. Gordon and Dennis went slowly around, but he jumped that one too.
"Faster," Dudley barked.
Gordon and Dennis went fast, then slowed suddenly just as Harry was jumping. They pulled at the rope. Harry's feet tangled and he fell on the hard cement, scraping his small hands.
"Clumsy Harry," Dudley jeered. "Can't even play jumprope right!"
Harry got to his feet. His eyes were strangely cold. "Not when it's rigged like that. I'd like to see you do it."
Dudley stiffened at the challenge. "I'm telling Mummy and Daddy!"
Harry shrugged. "Fine. Go ahead. You always do anyway."
For the first time, Dudley felt rage stirring up. Harry saw it too and smirked at him.
Dudley lunged forward and snatched one end of the jumprope from Dennis. "You'll pay for that, you stupid... stupid, unwanted orphan!"
It wasn't a vulgar term by any means, but it was the only one that got Harry good. Dudley saw Harry's cheeks flush and eyes flash in anger. Dudley only laughed. Finally there was a rise out of his dull cousin.
"Pull!" Dudley said, and he and Gordon pulled. Harry's feet tangled and he landed on the concrete again, this time on his back. He managed to slip his ankles out of the rope and rub them. Dudley noted with some satisfaction that they looked very sore.
"Piers!" Dudley said, and Piers bolted forward and dumped the ice water on Harry. It might be a hot day, but Dudley knew that Harry wouldn't enjoy the bath. Harry's forlorn expression gave everything away.
"Poke him with your stick, Dennis," Dudley snarled. Piers pinned his arms down, Gordon his legs. Dennis poked Harry with his stick and Dudley let loose a few punches. Harry didn't even move.
They were done after only thirty seconds. Dudley lost interest. Harry wasn't even responding beyond painful grunts. He looked like the fight had gone out of him; he didn't even seem angry anymore.
Dudley punched right at the middle of Harry's glasses. They cracked for the third time that week. "I'm glad no one wants you, orphan," he jeered. "I have much more fun!"
And as he had since he first learned to walk, Dudley Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, swaggered away with his large, nearly-eight-year-old bottom close to bulging out of his pants.
Perhaps it was good that Dudley never turned around. Perhaps it was good that he didn't bother to check Harry's reaction. Had Dudley turned around and seen the great fire in Harry's eyes, he might have run up to his room and hidden beneath his blankets until Harry was out of the house.
Long Wu, the head sifu of Da Hai Kwoon, was always the first to enter and the last to leave. He would arrive just after elevensies to set up for his three o' clock afternoon class and stay until ten in the evening for clean-up. All his classes concluded by eight thirty, of course, and clean-up never took more than half an hour, but Wu Sifu always liked to stick around for an hour—just in case.
Imagine his surprise when, for the first time in his life, someone actually entered his kwoon at half past nine. Unsupervised, no less. Wu Sifu knew he wasn't getting any younger, but he was certain that the boy couldn't be any older than nine, and since when have nine-year-old boys been able to wander about unsupervised? He supposed it shouldn't be a big deal, as this was Little Whinging where everybody knew everybody else (often more than they fancied)—but there was still something that bothered him, something like a nagging at the back of his head.
"Hello," Wu Sifu said amicably. "Who might you be?"
The boy raised his head. Beneath an unsettled, wild clump of black hair, he had the most startling pair of green eyes. "I'm Harry Potter from number four, Privet Drive," the boy said plainly. "The Dursleys are my... guardians."
Wu Sifu noted with equal parts concern and equal parts amusement that Harry was oddly serious for his age. "I don't suppose they know you're here," he said.
Harry was quiet.
Wu Sifu knew the Dursleys. Well, he knew about them. Truthfully, they didn't seem to be the sort of people that he would want to know. But everybody knew about everybody else in Little Whinging, and the Dursleys were not exempt from this. From what Wu Sifu could tell, the Dursleys tried to be as normal as possible by acting as idiotically as possible. He couldn't really blame them, because Little Whinging seemed to attract those sorts of people, but that didn't mean he had to like it.
"Why are you at this kwoon?" Wu Sifu asked gently, gesturing for Harry to sit in the chair across from him.
"Dudley keeps bullying me," Harry said exasperatedly. "I want him to stop."
Wu Sifu had many students with the same type of motive as Harry. It disappointed him to some extent. While he sympathized with those who were bullied—it had happened to him when he was younger too—he did not condone such behavior. "You wish for revenge," he said.
"Not really," Harry said. "I know it'll take time, but for now I want to learn how to defend myself."
That was a very surprising answer, especially for a boy Harry's age. Wu Sifu had talked with many boys who not only wanted revenge, but wanted it right away. Those boys were convinced they could become martial arts masters overnight. They always left after their first lesson, discouraged and angry.
"My classes take place in the afternoons for the rest of the summer, Harry," Wu Sifu said seriously. "I'm open to the idea of you enrolling without your, er, guardians knowing... but you must come at a time where I have class. And unfortunately, there is also... the, er, issue of money."
Harry's shoulders slumped. "Oh." And then he straightened. "Money isn't a problem."
"I don't want my students stealing, Harry."
Harry's shoulders slumped again. "Oh."
Wu Sifu knew not to hold the thought of stealing against Harry; the boy was only seven, almost eight, and wasn't aware of the repercussions. He had probably seen his awful, spoiled cousin getting away with it all the time. Dudley Dursley was a real terror around the neighborhood, but nobody could get Petunia and Vernon to see that.
"If you can manage to clean... No, your aunt and uncle won't let you. Perhaps a... no, you can't even have light labor until you are thirteen..." Wu Sifu sighed, leaning back in his chair. "Harry, I'm afraid I can't have you unless you get a scholarship."
"A scholarship?" Harry's back straightened to an almost frightening angle. "How can I get one, sir?"
"Don't call me 'sir.' It makes me feel older than I already am. Sifu, if you must," Wu Sifu said amusedly. "As for scholarships... I would have to give you a little pretest, although I'm pretty sure you would pass that with flying colors. The only problem is that no one has donated a scholarship in two years."
Harry's shoulders slumped. Wu Sifu began to fear that they would be dislocated with all this repeated raising and slumping. "Two years?"
"Yes." Wu Sifu really pitied the boy. He had a vague memory of seeing him at a grocery store with the Dursleys. All he could really remember was barely restraining himself from calling on child service or social security. Harry was treated more like a slave than a child. "I can look around..."
"No..." Harry swallowed very hard. Wu Sifu knew that he wasn't far from tears. "If you haven't gotten one in two years, you won't get one now," he said miserably.
"Not necessarily, young man."
Harry swiveled about. Wu Sifu turned his gaze. A friendly-looking couple stood in the doorway, their hands on a young girl's shoulders.
"Ahh, Mr. and Mrs. Granger," Wu Sifu said, rising to his feet. "What wonderful timing."
Mrs. Granger stepped through the doorway of Wu Sifu's office, looking slight abashed. "We're very sorry. It's quite late, but we were caught in some urgent family business..."
"But Hermione wanted to meet you right away," Mr. Granger said cheerily, clapping his hand on his daughter's shoulder.
Hermione Granger scowled. She was dressed very neatly, as if she had been attending a formal dinner party, and her usually wild hair had been forced back into a ribbon. Unfortunately this only gave her the appearance of an exploding, curly hedgehog, since her hair was very bushy and utterly untamable.
"Yes, she looks thrilled," Wu Sifu said wryly.
At a reproving look from Mrs. Granger, Hermione quickly wiped her scowl off her face and stiffly extended a hand. "Nice to meet you," she said politely. "I'm Hermione Granger."
Wu Sifu took her hand and shook it up and down. As distant as her expression was, she had a very good handshake. "Long Wu. Everybody calls me Wu Sifu, or just Sifu. Your choice."
Hermione nodded curtly and turned to Harry. He had been peculiarly quiet during the Grangers' drop in. Wu Sifu realized (with no small amount of guilt) that he had almost forgotten about the boy's presence. Hermione, apparently, had not.
"Hello. I don't quite think I need to repeat my name, because you heard it already." She stuck out her hand again. "How do you do?"
"I'm Harry Potter," Harry said, shaking her hand.
"I know," Hermione said. "This is Little Whinging. Everybody knows."
Harry looked surprised. "I thought nobody knew. The Dursleys don't really, er, make me known."
"Of course they don't," Hermione said, tossing her head. "But everybody knows anyway. We know they try to keep you a secret by keeping you in the house all day. Abominable, that's what it is!"
Wu Sifu highly doubted that Harry knew what 'abominable' meant, but the boy nodded placidly.
"Sifu Long Wu," Mr. Granger said, diverting his attention, "my wife and I have come to an agreement. We wish to enroll Hermione in your classes, effective next week." He glanced at Harry. "I'd also like to know this young man's story."
Harry's eyes widened. "Me, sir?"
"Who else would he be talking to?" Hermione said. "I don't see any other young men around."
Wu Sifu coughed loudly.
Mrs. Granger stepped forward, smiling warmly at Harry. "You must be the Dursley's... um..."
"Nephew, apparently." Harry's nose scrunched in distaste. "They don't seem to like it."
Mrs. Granger nodded thoughtfully. "And you want to take lessons here, right?"
Harry's shoulders slumped for the fourth? fifth? six hundred ninety-fourth? time. "Yes, ma'am. But I can't get out of the house during the day unless I have to play with Dudley. And I don't know where to get the money." The young boy's eyes tightened. "I think I could work a little... but I can't get out of the house."
Mrs. Granger turned to her husband. One look, and she knew they were both thinking the same thing.
"Sifu Long Wu," Mr. Granger said, "do you give private lessons?"
Wu Sifu frowned. "Not usually, no..." Then he understood. "You want to sponsor Harry?"
Harry's head shot up so fast that his glasses bounced against the bridge of his nose.
Mr. and Mrs. Granger exchanged another glance. "Well, um, all the children in Little Whinging know what he has to go through," Mrs. Granger said in a very soft voice. "This is a wonderful opportunity to help him."
"And he made friends with Hermione," Mr. Granger said proudly. "He actually made friends with—"
"Daddy!" Hermione whined, elbowing Mr. Granger in the thigh. He winced.
Wu Sifu held back a laugh. "So you would sponsor Harry, who would come to the kwoon at night and take private lessons from me."
Mrs. Granger nodded. Mr. Granger only frowned in confusion. "What's a... kwoon?"
Hermione clucked her tongue in disapproval. "It's the name for a martial arts training center, of course. Like a dojo, but Chinese." And she gave a long-suffering sigh at her father's lack of knowledge concerning kwoons and martial arts, no doubt having read every available book on the subjects before she came.
Wu Sifu held back another laugh. "I believe this will work. Unlike most sifus, I suppose I've gotten used to staying up late." He grinned at Harry, who was beaming at the Grangers with such intensity that it seemed his eyes might fall right out of his head. "You'll have to sneak out of the house three days a week, Harry."
"I'll manage," Harry said quickly, scrambling to his feet. "You don't care, do you?"
"Hermione tells us that the Dursleys aren't very kind to you," Mrs. Granger said sympathetically. "Greg and I have been wanting to do something about that for a while now."
"You'll have to steer clear of their friends, though," Mr. Granger said warningly. "I expect they'll be very nasty to you if they find out."
Harry shook his head furiously. "I'll be alright. I can't... I can't even thank you properly for the chance you've given me. I promise I won't waste your money. I'll practice every day." He bowed. Twice. "Thank you so much, Mr. and Mrs. Granger! Thank you, Sifu!" He even grinned widely at Hermione. "Thank you, Hermione!"
Hermione's brow furrowed. "Whatever for?" she asked.
Harry paused. "Um... For being my first friend?"
Hermione's eyes widened. "You're my first friend, too," she said solemnly.
When Harry and the Grangers finally left the kwoon (after a long, long chat and some nice tea), Wu Sifu decided not to let them know that it was far past closing time. He had a feeling that the next few months, although difficult, would be very rewarding.
He pulled at a drawer in his desk and filed to a plain, small note with loopy handwriting—a note that hadn't been there a minute ago:
Keep an eye on Harry. -AD
(For previews, extensive notes/backstories, and a progress bar on the upcoming chapter, check out my blog at lcli dot tumblr dot com. I thank you greatly for taking the time to read this story and hope you are enjoying.
If you have any questions, critique, or other comments, I will gladly accept them.)