Harry Dursley and the Philosopher's Conundrum
Book One. Chapter One.
Harry Dursley was comfortably enjoying his last winning streak at Pool of Radiance, when it happened.
He was sitting at his desk, the top of the line pc in front of him churning out the pixelated images of the game, when a small click was heard.
He wasn't actually expecting something to happen. Truth be told, he would have probably been better off with nothing happening at all, but life is life, you can't control it. Just like he could not control his hair, a polished black colour, kept under attention through the use of so much gel that it clearly wasn't healthy to touch it after sticking it together.
Super glue was probably the only thing that might have worked in keeping his hair still, and that was after three to four hours in a hard and fierce battle with the tendrils of doom. His eyes were a striking green colour, so much like those of his mother, his biological mother. His surname changed to Dursley a few years after his mother's sister and her husband, after the accident that had orphaned him, took him in.
He was grateful to them for it; when they had sat down and told him that his real family had died in a car accident, because of a drunken truck driver, he had been angry at first. They had reassured him that day, Petunia holding him as he cried. They loved him as their own child, and everything was going to be the same as it had always been.
Vernon Dursley worked at a perfectly normal company called Grunnings, a drill manufacturer, and Petunia Dursley was the most stereotypical housewife there could ever be. They lived in a perfectly clean and average household that had a perfectly trimmed and neat garden, with normal neighbours and friendly kids.
The only thing slightly less normal was that he was their adopted son instead of their real one. His full name was Harry James Dursley, but except for that, he was a perfectly normal, soon to be eleven years old, boy. Maybe he played a bit too much with his computer, but he also read books and watched television, and did his homework.
The 'event' that happened shattered normality. That by itself was more than enough of a reason for Harry to hate it with unyielding fury and scorn... if he actually could muster said emotions at age eleven.
He wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed, but it wasn't like he had thrown his head against the wall either. He was average: completely and utterly in all definitions of the word.
So when the event happened, he reacted in the most normal way ever: he called his parents.
"Mom! Dad!" The boy yelled.
He stood up from his seat and ran downstairs, to the kitchen where his mother was stirring the broth for dinner and his father was reading the newspaper.
"Come quick! There's an owl in my room!"
Said exclamation was probably not what his parents were expecting, but Petunia merely sighed, her shoulders slumping.
Petunia looked at Harry coming down the stairs, and frowned pursing her lips together in a tightly controlled scowl. He looked at his mother with surprise, but ignored the reaction when his father spoke.
"Better call Animal Protection."
Vernon's thoughts raced as he stood up from his seat, folding the newspaper. The recent article concerning America's politics was all but rubbish, but an owl was far worse. "First, though, I'll try and get it out of the house... since when are there owls at Privet Drive?" The man was disbelieving, but he trusted his son to tell the truth. If he said there was an owl in his room, then it had probably entered from an open window. "Must be the global warming, sends migratory birds' senses haywire probably." He, of course, didn't know that owls were anything but migratory. It was however a perfectly normal suggestion.
"You closed the window Harry?" He asked as he began to climb upstairs.
"No, Dad! Do you think she flew out already?"
"Better hope it. Your mother's going to throw a fit if she has to clean your room again..."
He shivered, as did Harry: Petunia and cleaning were some sort of compulsory symbiotic relation. Where there was cleaning there was Petunia, and vice versa. The springtime cleaning was the most dreaded event in the entire household. To fight it off both he and his father would grab their fishing rods and ride off towards a nearby lake: camping out in the air, fighting off bears…far better than having to live in the same house as Mrs. Dursley during springtime cleaning.
If the duo had tried to be more reasonable, they would have realized by then that Petunia Dursley hadn't actually been the first in line to screech at the event. In truth, she had been perfectly quiet, her shoulders slightly tensed as she sat down on the nearby chair in the kitchen, waiting for the noise to reach her ears.
It took a moment, but soon the woman heard the rumbling noise of feet on stomping on wood. Vernon and Harry, both running like thieves caught in the act, appeared in her view pursued downstairs by a majestic brown owl, which landed with a soft thud on the table.
In front of her now stood the twin golden orbs of the owl, which looked at her with the usual mocking glare typical of said animal. The animal seemed intelligent enough to fly to the calmest member of the household, because, clearly, she was the most apt at dealing with the event.
Vernon and Harry stood in a corner, eying the scene that was now playing in front of them. On one side, Petunia was merely sporting a tight frown, her eyes fixed with those of the owl in question, one of those big owls used for props in films, which just seems to have a name like 'Barnabus' or 'Gruff'. In turn, the owl was examining the woman with a bit of boredom, before it slowly morphed into a slightly nervous anger as the creature hooted. He was here to deliver a message, so why was the woman, whom the message was addressed to, reluctant to take it?
"Harry," Petunia pointed out, "no murdering owls."
Sheepishly, the boy put the cane from Grandfather Dursley back in the cluttered cupboard. He had wanted something useful to...knock the owl out.
The owl hooted once, his golden eyes narrowing on Petunia who returned a nervous sneer.
"Fine," she muttered, rolling her eyes, "hand it over."
Two cheerful hoots escaped the owl's beak, and the owl's face seemed to morph into a happy one, as much as an owl could display such emotions, before dropping from one of his wings a letter. A few clacks of the beak later, the owl flew over to the top of the fridge to wait.
"My lovely Flower…there's an owl nesting on our fridge." Vernon's statement was all that it took to make Petunia gather enough courage to open the letter and start reading it.
Quietly, the two males of the household looked towards the housewife, ignoring the fact that the broth was probably going to end up spoiled if nobody was going to stir it. Her face began to pale, her lips to compress like she had just been drinking the sourest of lemons, and there was some sort of fury in her eyes that reminded Vernon of that time she had thought he was cheating on her: he hadn't walked straight for five days afterwards.
"Harry James Dursley," Petunia hissed, "Go to your room."
"Mom?" He queried, only for her to snap back outright.
Harry didn't need to be told again; with a jolt he was already running upstairs, closing the door behind him as fast as he could. Taking quick breaths to regain his cool, he waited for the eventual raising of voices that followed the usual fight between his mother and his father. The problem was that neither of the two actually began to yell.
It was time for dinner when his mother entered his room, quietly followed by his father, looking like they had eaten something disgusting. Petunia was fidgeting with her hands, while Vernon was positively red from the effort of keeping his rage contained.
"Harry," Petunia began slowly, "You will not be going to Smeltings this year."
"Mom?" The boy asked, perplexed. What was this about? They had been positively thrilled that he had grades that were more than good enough for his acceptance to such a prestigious, nearby, easy to graduate from school that telling him he wouldn't be going was leaving him speechless.
"Harry… you know we love you no matter what," Petunia kept on saying, "but…"
The words simply didn't want to come, and Petunia began to sob in her handkerchief. It was Vernon who spoke in her place.
Vernon breathed slowly.
"It appears you're a wizard."
"First of April is already past, father."
"Harry…it's true." Petunia hiccupped out between tears, "Your parents…they were both wizards."
"You're joking right? This is such a funny joke it…" but the words died in Harry's throat, as he noticed expressions of seriousness, pity and mostly… regret, in his parent's faces.
"You're not joking." He stated, before slumping down to sit on the chair near him. His fists clenched and loosened, as he muttered with a voice filled with disbelief, "I'm…magical?"
"Well…yes." Vernon grumbled, "We had our hopes you weren't, mind you, but…"
"But what!?" He nearly screeched, "I'm a wizard!? What the hell does that mean!?"
"Harry James Dursley! Mind your language!" Petunia snapped, seemingly having emerged from her shock at these crude terms.
"But if you are a wizard," Vernon added quietly, "then you must know the truth about your parents."
"What? They were wizards too right? They died in a car accident…no. Wait a moment…you aren't telling me they…"
"They were killed by a really dark and evil wizard," Vernon spoke slowly. "The man who brought you to us said his name was 'Voldemort', he killed your parents, and you had to be brought to safety here."
"Why?" His throat felt constricted as the question emerged from his lips, and it was Petunia who answered.
"Harry…my sister married a man, your father, by the name of Potter. The wizard who brought you to us said that this 'Voldemort' was some sort of freak magic Nazi who wanted nothing more than to kill all non-magic persons. Obviously a lot of wizards didn't agree, and Potter was among them. You were brought to safety just in time, or he would have killed you too."
It sounded so… cliché; a big bad guy inherently evil because the plot said so deciding to play the slaughterer of the family of the young dramatic hero.
"So…is this 'Voldemort' still at large?" He asked, a sick feeling settling in his stomach.
"No," Petunia whispered back with a bit of relief, and some sort of happiness mixed into the words. "He was finally caught and killed, and his cult disbanded. Still, you're magical. That means you will have to attend a magical school. The letter I received came from an old…acquaintance, who warned me they will be coming tomorrow afternoon to pick you up and help you take care of the stuff you need to buy."
"So…I'm going to a wizard school?" He slumped his shoulders slightly, his eyes downcast as he looked with curiosity at the carpet.
"Don't worry, Harry…" Petunia began gently, "whatever happens, you'll always be our precious little boy." With that said the woman gently held Harry's cheeks with her hands and gave him a kiss on the forehead.
"Well boy, at least think positive: your biological parents apparently issued a trust fund for you to pay for your tuition. I'll try and phone the Smelting's enrolment office to get the money back, but worst comes to worst no harm, well, no extra harm, is done." Vernon visibly put up a tight smile, trying to brighten up a situation that appeared anything but that.
"So…I'll be a wizard," Harry murmured once more.
"Well, if I remember right, my sister could do this really cool magic to repair broken stuff." Petunia smiled lightly, "But, Harry? I want you to promise me one thing."
"You want me to repair stuff that gets broken?" He replied, kind of wondering why his mother's mind was always on the practical and couldn't recall magic doing anything else than repair.
"That too," Petunia admitted quickly, "but I want you to promise me this: no matter what you will learn or do, please don't let its power get to your head."
"From great power, comes great responsibility." He nodded sagely. Spider-Man was a life-saviour.
"Do I have your word Harry?"
"Of course Mum! I'll still be me…you think I can fly with magic?" He asked, now more excited, only for Petunia to sigh.
"I don't know. Severus will come by tomorrow to take care of your expenses, till then—" That was when the faint smell of burned food reached their nostrils, making Petunia's eyes widen.
"Oh my…the broth!" Rushing downstairs, Petunia soon left Vernon alone with Harry.
The boy looked at his father with perplexity, and the man looked back at him with a serious face. It was only a gaze, but it was all that was needed to convey a very clear message.
'Be good. Make me proud. For the love of God don't make your mother worry.'
As his father too left, Harry turned around on his chair, closed Pools of Radiance and powered off the computer. He then stood and walked towards his room's fantasy books, his recently bought edition of Dungeons and Dragons, and opening up the first book on magic he whispered to himself.
"Well," he muttered, cracking his fingers. "Let the magic research begin."
He was average, all right, but that didn't mean he had to do the stupid thing and wait for someone else to come knocking at his door to explain.
He would manage this, or he no longer was Harry James Dursley.
And this is it! First reviewed and beta-ed chapter thanks to the Project Team Beta, to whom I give a sincere thank you! The tone should now be British-approved and Time-table approved.