Chapter One: At the Dursley's

"Oi! Potter! Get your sorry arse in here now!" Harry winced painfully at the shout, which was loud even through the closed closet door. Uncle Vernon sounded extremely pissed at something, and that never boded well for Harry. His ribs had just finished healing from the last time something had happened to anger his uncle. Harry considered making a run for it, but he didn't want to see what would happen if he disobeyed, so he hesitantly creaked his door open and walked down the hall towards the kitchen as quietly as he could on his tiny feet, small even by ten-year-old standards. And ten years old he was, if only for the next four months. At school, when Vernon allowed him to go, that is, he was often teased for everything from his diminutive stature to his constant injuries (which Uncle Vernon claimed was because he was a no-good delinquent who constantly picked fights). But no matter how bad school was, here (he refused to call it 'home') was indefinitely worse. Uncle Vernon would always find a way to blame him for the smallest things, and would punish him accordingly.

For instance, when Aunt Petunia had gotten a divorce last year because she couldn't deal with Vernon's drinking problems, he had accused Harry of being the cause of him drinking, and therefore causing the divorce. He had beaten Harry to the point where the boy had crawled into the corner and curled into a ball, both waiting for the bleeding to stop and incapable of anything else. In the morning he had woken in a puddle of blood to at least two broken ribs, a broken arm, a broken nose, innumerable bruises and gashes, and with his left ear dangling off of the side of his head, hanging by a thread. He had also bitten off a small piece of his tongue. He had made a makeshift cast for his arm and torso out of a couple torn shirts, glue, flour, water, and a tiny bit of powdered cement he found in a cabinet, and he had actually stitched his ear back on, without anesthesia. A few hours later, Vernon banished him to the closet until spring for bleeding all over the kitchen floor (after he made Harry clean up the blood, of course.).

Things didn't usually get that bad, however. Usually. However, just as he stepped into the kitchen, a terrible sense of foreboding fell over him. Uncle Vernon was sitting at the kitchen table, staring at an official-looking white letter and literally shaking with rage. His large knuckles were white from the death grip he had on the memo. When Harry squeaked with fear and took a step back, Vernon stood up and stormed over to the boy, grabbing the front of his shirt in his ham-like fists and shoving Harry's face into the paper.

"Do you know what this is?" Vernon hissed in a dangerously low voice, "Do you?" Harry nearly went cross-eyed from trying to read the typed lettering. This was what he managed to make out:

Mister Vernon Dursly,
We are most… to announce that due to a number of complaints from our staff and clients, you are relieved from your position until further notice. These complaints include but are not limited to unsavory behavior (Level 2 Violation), Alcohol consumption while on duty (Level 2 Violation), and violent acts towards…

Cordially, Grunnings Staff

Harry whimpered. This wasn't good. "FIRED!" Uncle Vernon yelled furiously, throwing Harry down onto the ground. Harry remained silent, knowing by now that if he spoke, it would gain him nothing but more attention from his uncle, which wasn't a good thing. Besides, it looked like he was about to walk off anyways. Unfortunately for Harry, at the exact moment Uncle Vernon stepped away, the bacon, which had been frying this whole time, burst into flames.

"Bloody- What are you waiting for, you useless twit! Put it out!" He shouted, kicking Harry in the side as hard as he possibly could to get him moving. Rather than curl up into a ball like the ache in his side told him to, he ran and turned off the stove, grabbed the burning pan in his bare hand, and dropped it in the sink before turning on hot water to douse the flames. At this point, Uncle Vernon had stepped up behind him. Once the flames were out, he shoved Harry aside. Harry squealed at his sudden appearance.

"Why the bloody hell did you turn on hot water, boy!" Vernon screamed at him. Harry struggled to find his voice. When he did, a wave of anger fell over him as he remembered all the other things he had supposedly 'done wrong' in his lifetime. The first of which, according to Vernon, was being born.

'It was to keep the skillet from cracking! I assumed that a fat lard such as yourself would appreciate not having your best frying pan destroyed! I-!" His rant was cut off as Uncle Vernon grabbed the nearest thing in reach and smacked Harry in the head as hard as he possibly could. As Harry's luck would have it, the nearest thing in reach just happened to be the still-smoldering skillet. The force of it impacting with his skull caused him to crumple to the ground, reality fading into blackness.

After what seemed like just a second, Harry's eyes fluttered open to find that he was back in his closet, door closed. Relieved that that entire incident was just a dream, Harry yawned and tried to sit up, but was stopped by a fiery, sharp pain in his head and face. Swallowing, he grabbed an old mirror he had glued together after Uncle Vernon shattered it and held it up to eye level. He was met by a face that didn't look like his. The whole side of his face was bruised a mottled mixture of blackish-purple, blue, and red, and was swollen to the point where he could only open his eye halfway. A large gash ran through the center of the bruise, disappearing into his hairline. At a touch, he found that his raven hair was soaked through with blood. The white of his eye on that side was mostly red, and when he poked the skin underneath the wound, he found it to be numb. After assessingthe extent of his injuries, he lay back down on the tiny cot his uncle had so graciously given to him and wondered how long he would have to stay here. The distance from now until his eighteenth birthday seemed like a lifetime. And with his recent increase in injuries, it may very well be. Harry sighed, almost about to shake his head before he remembered his wounds. This wasn't the first time he had had thoughts like that, but it wasn't a good thing for him to think about it, even when it seemed more and more likely each day. Biting his lip, Harry forced himself to think of something else.

Realizing how hungry he was, he tried the door. Apparently Uncle Vernon didn't think getting hit in the head with a skillet was punishment enough, because the door was locked from the outside. Since he needed something to think about, he wondered why people would build locks on the outside of closet doors. I mean, do MOST people keep people locked in their broom closets? Then again, why would anyone lock closet doors in the first place? People don't usually break into your house to steal your cleaning supplies. But, that was just Harry's opinion. Harry was just about to pick the lock when he heard a rustling sound in the corner, under his bed. Curious, he bent down and looked to see what was down there. He strained to see into the darkness, when the source of the sound slithered over nearer to his face. Harry couldn't help but yelp and fall over, banging his sore head on the floor. He moaned and almost slid into unconciousness. Fortunately, he managed to fight off the grogginess and climb back up onto the cot. He glanced back down at the snake, which he now recognised as a mature Smooth Snake. Its head was tilted to the side as if to say, Are you all right? Harry smiled.

"Yeah, I'm fine. You're a cold-blooded creature, aren't you? It must be freezing down there." The snake bobbed its head up and down, nodding. It shook his body in a semblance of shivering, which made Harry laugh.

"Care to come up? The cot isn't big, but I'm pretty sure there's room for you, at least." The snake nodded again, and Harry put his hand down for it to climb up. It wrapped around his arm and slithered up onto his lap, where it coiled up halfway. His head came up as Harry asked his next question.

"How long have you been in here?" Its body right beneath his head coiled pu and relaxed, which Harry supposed was a snake's equivalent of a shrug. "You would certainly account for the decrease in the mouse population, wouldn't you?" It hissed in agreement.

"You know, I can't keep referring to you as 'it'. You need a name. ...Hold on a second." He grabbed a box out of storage, which had all of Dudley's old Christmas and birthday presents that he didn't want. This box in particular was labelled 'Books', and had a certain book in it that Dudley had gotten with the turtle he took with him to Aunt Petunia's. He took out books labelled 'Warfare Through the Ages', 'Idiot's Guide to Football', and 'Nessie: Truth or Myth?' until he got to the one he was looking for. He put the box back and opened 'All You Need to Know About Reptiles' to the glossary. He searched through it until he found 'Smooth Snakes', and opened it to page 247. Skimming through it, he found out that this snake was a female. He read the latin name, Coronella austriaca, and got an idea for a name.

"How about Coronella?" She hesitated for a moment before nodding excitedly. "Brilliant."

After a moment, he had another question to ask.

"Hey, Nella? Do you think that since you can understand me when I'm talking, that I can understand you when you're talking?" Coronella stared at him as if she hadn't actually thought about it.

"I sssuppossse ssso." She hissed, and tilted her head to the side as she stared at him. Harry's good eye widened.

"I can understand you. I'd ask if I was dreaming, but my head hurts too much for it to be a dream." Nella seemed to wince as she glanced up at the wound, then she nuzzled into his stomach reassuringly. "Thanks, Nella. You know, you're the first friend I've ever had. I hope you're not the last."

"I won't be. Don't worry about that, though." Harry sighed and lay down on the cot, being careful not to lay on Nella as he did so.

"Hey Nella? Would you mind going to the kitchen to see what time it is? I don't want Uncle Vernon to know I can pick the lock." Nella hissed, surprising him.

"Uncle Vernon? You mean the one who did THAT to you?" She pointed to his face with her tail. "I'll eat him, if you want." Harry tried to supress a chuckle.

"Nella, even though I appreciate the offer, you're a half meter would literally take you years, if he didn't step on you first."

"It would be a ssslow death!"

"Nella..."

"Fine. But the offer still stands, if you change your mind." Harry sighed as Coronella slithered under the door and out of sight. After sitting alone in the room for a few seconds, his eyes drifted closed and he fell asleep, ignoring his grumbling stomach. The darkness closed in on him, and his awareness drifted off into a sea of nothingness. From what seemed like miles away, he heard a woman's voice begging, "Not Harry! Please, take me instead!" The voice seemed familiar somehow, even though the only woman's voice he could ever remember hearing was Petunia's, to whom this voice definitely did not belong. Then there was a cold, nasal laugh, and a flash of emerald light. Then he was drifting away, the woman's screams growing distant. Then the edges of the sea grew fuzzy, light leaking through in grasual amounts like water trickling through a dam. He felt a light tickling sensation on his temple, accompanied by a sharp pain. He opened his eyes to the dim light of the closet, and saw Coronella leaning over him, looking concerned.

"What happened?" He asked groggily. Coronella backed up enough that he could sit up.

"I came back here after I did what you told me, and you were fast asssleep. Your injury ssstarted bleeding again, and I did my best to ssstop the bleeding. You may want to put sssomething on that though. Even ssso , you must have a killer headache." This was true. His head hurt worse than it had when he was seven and Dudley had made him chug a whole bottle of beer. He still winced at the memory. He picked up the mirror to examine his face. The bruise was still there, but it didn't look as bad. Now most of it was Now most of it was yellow, but it just brought more attention to the gash. His hair looked somewhat cleaner, though judging by the state of his pillowcase, it was still quite bloody. At a closer glance, he saw that his injury was indeed bleeding. He grabbed a sock and held it onto the wound to staunch the bleeding, and with that done, asked Nella what time it was.

"The evil man is asssleep, if that's what you're wondering. He sssnores very loudly." Harry chuckled at the truth of that as he stuck the thick wire through the door, working it so that the magnet on the end attached to the bar. Then, slowly but surely, pulled it out of the lock. Then he pulled the magnet free and did the same to the next lock. Finally, he stepped out of the closet and motioned for Nella to stay put. He stepped silently into the kitchen and opened the cabinet, searching for something Vernon wouldn't miss. Being careful not to touch anything else, he pulled out a small bag of stale Chips Ahoy cookies and a plastic bag full of beef jerky. With his treasures safely positioned under one arm, he opened the fridge and took out one of Dudley's Ribena black currant juice boxes. With his meal in hand, he walked carefully back to the closet and locked the door behind him for looks.

"I'm back." He announced, sitting back down on the bed and opening his food.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The month after that went by pretty much uneventfully. Occasionally Uncle Vernon would snap and beat Harry for no reason at all, Dudley came back and pushed Harry down the stairs, and Nella grew another two inches. It was a short-lived peace, however, as good things never seem to last.

"POTTER!"

"AAAAAAAAAGH!"

Harry ran into the dining room to see what was happening. When he arrived, he nearly broke out laughing at the scene. Knowing that burst ing out in giggles would result in a terrible beating, he held himself together. He ran over and grabbed Coronella, who had trapped Dudley and Vernon on top of the table, off of the carpet and carried her to the back door, where he set her down right outside the door.

"I'll let you in when things settle down." He whispered. Nella snorted and slithered into the bushed in search of new prey. Sighing in defeat, Harry stepped back into the dining room to see the damage. When he poked his head in, Uncle Vernon motioned with his finger to come closer. As he did so, he noticed that Dudley was curled into a ball on the couch. Harry refused to let any of his triumph show on his face at this, but walked slowly over to where Vernon was standing. There was a calm, detached look on his face that chilled Harry to the bone.

"Odd how a great bloody snake like that managed to sneak all the way in here without being noticed, isn't it?" Harry swallowed nervously. "You know, now that I think about it, I seem to recall that just last week, a snake almost identical to this one was in the kitchen cabinet." Dudley looked up from his shivering, seeing where his dad was going. This was true; Nella had indeed curled up in Dudley's cereal box last week. "And unless my memory is failing me, a snake like that was curled up in my bath. What a coincidence." Harry was now twitching involuntarily. He was dreading the end of this conversation, which was growing closer by the second. "Unless-" He was cut off by a quiet scraping sound and the hollow clatter of the post hole covering closing.

"I'll get it!" Harry shouted, racing from the room. On the floor by the door were four letters. As he walked back to the dining room, he sorted through it. Bills, bills, bills, a letter for Harry. Harry froze in his tracks and rechecked the name. Sure enough, it said Mr. H. Potter. He slid it into his shirt, deciding he could look at it later. He stepped back into the living room and handed Uncle Vernon the letters. Minus one, of course.

Just when he was about to dash off to the closet to read the letter, Uncle Vernon cleared his throat.

"Hold on, Potter." Harry inhaled sharply as he stopped dead. His mind was racing to figure out how he had given it away. He became acutely aware of the letter pressing up against his stomach. As he turned towards his uncle, a large fist met him in the face with enough force to knock him onto his rear. "I'd better not see that snake again, for your own sake." Uncle Vernon warned him. Harry scrambled to his feet and dashed to his closet, shutting the door behing him. He sat down on the cot to catch his breath and looked down at the letter in his hand. The address on the back was written in emerald green ink. The envelope read his exact address, including, much to Harry's shock, his cupboard.

There was no return address. Harry flipped it over multiple times in search of one, but indeed there wasn't one. He found it odd that they took no chance of it reaching the wrong person, and then didn't bother to put a return address, but people can be strange. He very carefully tore the packet open, and two pieces of strange yellowish paper fell out onto the bed. He picked the first one up. In the same green ink, an official-looking letter fell out.

HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY

Dear Mr. Potter,

We are pleased to inform you and your parent/guardian that you have been accepted at Hogwarts. You will find enclosed a list of all the equipment you will need.

Term begins on September 1. We will await your owl by no later than July 31.

Yours sincerely,

Minerva McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress

Harry stared. This HAD to be some kind of joke, right? He couldn't be a wizard. If he was a wizard, Uncle Vernon would have turned into a blubbering idiot by now, right?

Then again… Didn't he heal faster than people normally would? And he had somehow survived all those beatings. And then there was the fact that he could talk to snakes… When he thought about it for a minute, him being a wizard didn't seem that far-fetched. He turned to the next page. It contained a list of the supplies he would need for the school year. Harry wasn't sure, but he was pretty confident that they didn't sell these in most stores.

Harry winced at the very thought of asking Uncle Vernon for money for his supplies, as well. And he was sure that Uncle Vernon wouldn't let him go. He swallowed and searched for a pen and a piece of paper. Once he found them, He sat down on the cot and thought of what to say. He started out,

Dear Deputy Headmistress,

And froze. He had no idea what to say. Telling them that his uncle beats him won't let him go wouldn't work so well. He chewed his lip as he wrote out the rest of his letter.

My uncle is non-magical, and I have no idea where I can get any of the supplies mentioned. If you or someone else who knows about this kind of stuff could help me, it would be most appreciated.

Thank you,

Harry J. Potter

Harry re-read the letter thoughtfully. It sounded good enough, so he placed it in an envelope and wrote Hogwarts on the back. Now came the next problem: He didn't have an owl. He hid the letter in his shirt and slipped out into the hall. He glanced around the empty kitchen before opening the door and walking out into the garden. All of a sudden, he heard hissing and flapping inside a bush.

"Nella!" He whispered, peeking under the bush. Nella was wrapped around a large, tawny ball of feathers.

"Nella!" He hissed, a bit louder, grabbing her and her prey out of the leaves. Nella stopped writing when she realized who was holding her.

"Sssorry." Harry sighed as she unwound herself from her prey.

"Come on, we'll take this inside." Harry set her down to slither along behind him, and wrapped the bird in a bundle of his shirt in hope that he didn't get caught. He crept into the house silently and walked into his room. He shut the door behind Coronella and unwrapped the poor creature from his shirt, setting it down on his bed. It sat, shivering, and looked up at Harry. Ironically, it was an owl. It's leg seemed to be twisted at an odd angle, but other than that, it appeared to be unharmed. Harry tore a strip off of his shirt and set the break. The owl screeched in pain and tried to nip his hand, but Harry jerked his hand back and wrapped the leg in the cloth. Once the owl calmed down, Harry offered it a tiny strip of jerky he had left over. It snatched the bit up and swallowed it, all rage from previously vanished. It stared up at Harry quietly, and Harry had an idea. He held up the letter, and the owl cocked it's head before holding it's uninjured leg out. Harry smiled and tied the letter onto it's offered leg with another small strip of cloth. He smoothed a couple of the feathers before walking the owl to the kitchen, keeping an eye out for the Dursleys. He opened the door and released the owl, watching it fly off for a minute before turning around. And swallowed nervously. Uncle Vernon was standing there, arms crossed, looking furious.

"What are you doing?" Vernon strode over to where Harry was, and grabbed him by the front of his shirt. Harry's legs flailed as he was lifted into the air. "You are NEVER to correspond with any of those FREAKS again. Do you UNDERSTAND?" Harry nodded weakly, sight fading from lack of air. Vernon punched him in the abdomen twice as hard as he could, then dropped him on the ground and dragged him to the closet. He then picked him up and tossed him roughly into the small room. When Harry landed, the center of his back hit the corner of the cot and his head snapped back to hit the wall. Uncle Vernon slammed the door shut, and Harry could hear the click of the locks closing. He fell into a crumpled heap on the ground and began breathing heavily. He hacked a couple times, and something dark and wet flew out of his mouth.

'Ugh." He groaned, pulling himself to his feet and sitting on his bed.

"Are you alright?" He tried to smile to reassure her, but it ended up looking more like a grimace. Harry sighed and lay down on the cot.

"I'm gonna try to sleep, alright?" He asked. Nella nodded, so he closed his eyes and dozed off.

Harry was floating on the black sea. He saw a light up ahead. As he drew closer, he heard the woman's voice again.

Not Harry! It shouted. Then came the cold laugh, and this time, he heard the phrase Avada Kedava! In a new, cold voice. Then there was a green flash, and an infant's cry.
"AH!" Harry shouted, jolting awake. When he realized where he was, he sighed and pulled himself up. An ache in his midsection reminded him of yesterday. He pulled off his shirt and examined himself. His ribs were showing from lack of food, but that was normal. A few scars here and there from previous beatings were pink and ragged against his chest and back. There was a long purple line against his throat from yesterday, along with a collection of bruises on his stomach. His head was bleeding again, and there was a gash in the center of his back.

He sighed and sorted through his small amount of clothes for an outfit that somewhat fit, and pulled it on. He then picked the lock on his door and crept out into the hall. Just as he had hoped, it was very early in the morning. He walked into the downstairs bathroom, locked the door, and turned on the shower. The water running down the drain, Harry didn't fail to notice, was pink. He climbed out, shook himself dry, and redressed. He then dashed out of the bathroom as quietly as he could and ran back into the closet as quietly as he could. A couple hours later, he heard Uncle Vernon and Dudley come down for breakfast. Uncle Vernon unlocked the door so that Harry could come and make breakfast. Harry walked to the kitchen, careful not to draw attention to himself. He pulled bacon and eggs out of the fridge and put them in pans on the stove. Once everything was cooking, he sighed and leaned against the countertop. It would take a few minutes for the food to cook, anyways. He stared out the window and wondered when the witch/wizard would arrive. All of a sudden, a big bubble of bacon grease exploded and sprayed all over Harry's hand. He restrained a shout, knowing the consequences of interrupting Uncle Vernon's morning paper. He sighed instead, and flipped the eggs and bacon. As soon as it was done, he walked around the table and served the Dursley's their food. He then ran out of the room and into the closet, hoping to avoid another beating.

"When do you think they'll get here?" He asked Coronella restlessly, pacing around the tiny space.

"They get here when they get here. Calm down, Harry." This was true. Harry tried to slow his heartbeat, but questions kept popping up in his head.

"What if the owl didn't make it? What if it gave the letter to the wrong person? What if that letter was a joke?" Nella hissed with impatience.

"Harry, relax! The owl made it! Jussst give them a chance!" Just as he was about to argue, he heard a knock at the front door. He pressed his ear to the closet door to listen. There was a squeak as Uncle Vernon got out of his chair, and he heard the door open.

"What do you want?" Uncle Vernon asked the stranger.

"Is there a Mr. Potter here?" A man's voice asked. Harry's heart sped up. This must be who he was waiting for!

"No. No one here is named Potter. Good day to you, sir." He heard the door begin to creak shut, but it was stopped by a thud as if the newcomer had blocked the door.

"This is Number Four Privet Drive, is it not?" The stranger's voice held a dangerous edge to it. Uncle Vernon cleared his throat.

"Yes, but there is no one named Potter here! Now, I believe I said good day!" The door swung shut quickly. Harry decided he'd had enough.

"Wait!" He shouted, unlocking the closet door as quickly as he could and tumbling headfirst into the hall. Uncle Vernon spun around on his heel, face a deep purple not unlike a currant.

"GET BACK IN THERE, POTTER!" The stranger took this as his cue to step inside and shut the door behind him.

"I believe you said there was no one in this household named Potter?" Harry got his first good look at the man. He was at least half a head taller than Vernon, though nowhere near him in width. His long, greasy black hair framed a stern face with a hooked nose and intelligent black eyes. He was also wearing long black robes, which didn't look at all strange compared to his actual appearance. However, anything was better than having to deal with Uncle Vernon's wrath.

Harry winced at the furious expression on his uncle's face, and he unknowingly took a step closer to the stranger. The man looked him over rapidly, and his eyes filled with…sympathy? It was hard to tell, as it vanished a moment later.

"Who are you, to waltz into my house like you own the place?" The man's eyes narrowed.

"I would be disgusted at the very notion of owning this… house. But I suppose I did forget to introduce myself. I am Professor Severus Snape." He did not offer his hand, and Uncle Vernon looked relieved at this. Harry's mouth twitched as he observed the two. Professor Snape's eyes glanced over in his direction. "Ready to go, Mr. Potter?" Harry hesitated before dashing to the closet. He grabbed one of Dudley's old satchels and pulled on his old, cracked, taped pair of glasses. He didn't usually wear them because he was afraid of them breaking, but he didn't want to miss anything today. He grabbed Nella and stuck her in the satchel, knowing that he might not be coming back.

He ran back into the kitchen and nodded at the Professor. "Ready, sir."

Uncle Vernon seemed to recover. "And where do you think you're going with my nephew?" Professor Snape opened his mouth to speak, but Harry turned his head.

"If I may, professor?" Snape nodded. Harry turned back to his uncle. "I am NOT your nephew. You locked me in a broom closet, starved me, wouldn't let me go to school, refused to get me proper clothing, beat me, cut off my ear, hit me in the head with a fiery skillet, nearly killed me, refuse to tell me how my parents died, never once showed me an ounce of kindness, and worst of all, didn't tell me I was a wizard. You lost the right to call me your nephew nine and a half years ago." He turned around and walked out the door, leaving Vernon standing shell-shocked in the middle of the kitchen.


Okay, Hi. I would like to say that this is absolutely my first HPFF EVER and am not sure how good it is. If you would review, I would really appreciate it. Thanks a bunch! I do not own the Hogwarts Acceptance Letter, because it is owned by J.K. Rowling. A certain SOMEONE wouldn't let me copy it word for word, but if you have read the books, you know what it said.