A/N: Thank you all so much for all of the follows/favorites that this story has gotten so far, and a special thank you to all of those who left reviews. They never fail to make me smile. Enjoy Chapter 3!

It was a while before Harry moved off of the floor. He didn't want to give his uncle any reason to come back, and even the smallest of noises would likely be enough to set the man off that night.

He waited until long after he heard all of the Dursleys enter their bedrooms, and the faint sound of snoring reached him from down the hall, indicating that Uncle Vernon was fast asleep.

And then slowly, carefully, Harry pulled himself up, using the bed for assistance. He took one quick glance around the room, and then sank down onto his mattress.

Once seated, he reached back to feel the tender spot on the back of his head where he had banged it against the side table. He let out a small hiss of pain and then dropped his hand once more. It would heal soon enough.

But what his uncle had done...what he had taken and destroyed...

Harry felt as though a hole had been ripped open in his chest.

He used a hand to swipe at the tears in his eyes and on his cheeks. He hated Uncle Vernon. He hated him. He would never be able to forgive the man for what he had done.

Harry knew he needed to leave.

The problem was, of course, that his wand and the rest of his school stuff were locked up in the cupboard under the stairs. And there was no way he was leaving them behind.

The thought of his wand filled Harry with a sense of longing. He would love nothing more than to burst into his aunt and uncle's bedroom just then and curse Uncle Vernon into oblivion.

Harry took several deep breaths, then. He needed to calm down.

He allowed his eyes to roam around the room as he focused on returning his heart rate to normal. Everything was quiet and still. It seemed wrong somehow, after all that had transpired in the last few hours.

Harry's gaze swept across the floor, seeking out the pieces of his parents' pictures that Uncle Vernon had torn up. Perhaps if he could collect them all...he could fix them with a spell later. As soon as he got out of this place.

In the next second, Harry was on his hands and knees, crawling across the hard wooden floor, as he picked up each and every tiny scrap of photograph he could find.

It was some time later that Harry finally stood up off the floor, eventually satisfied that he had gotten every piece. He had found a small bag under his floorboard, which was perfect for holding the scraps. Now all he needed was to get a hold of his wand, and his photographs would be good as new.

At least the ones he had with him. Who knew what Uncle Vernon had done with the rest of the photo album? Harry let out a sigh. He knew he couldn't worry too much about it now. All of his focus had to be on escaping from the Dursley household.

Harry looked over at Hedwig, who was currently staring silently back at him. "I'll get us out of here, girl," he said quietly. "And as soon as I have my wand back, I'll be able to unlock that cage."

Hedwig made a displeased sound, probably unhappy to hear that she would continue to be trapped in her cage for a while longer.

"I know, girl." Harry said in a whisper. "But we'll get out of here. You'll see."

Harry looked over at his bedroom door, then. If what Uncle Vernon had said was true, and there were locks going on his door tomorrow...Then tonight just might be his only chance at escape.

A minute passed as Harry began running through his options in his head. He focused his eyes on the lock on Hedwig's cage, waiting for inspiration to strike.

And eventually, it did.

Harry moved over to the small desk in the corner and began rummaging through the contents spread out over its surface. Most of the items were things left over from when the place had still been Dudley's second bedroom. Broken toys and old, dusty books that had never been opened. But there was only one thing that interested Harry, and he snatched it up triumphantly as soon as his eyes found it.

It was a large paperclip.

Harry wasn't exactly sure when or why Dudley had ever had the need for a paperclip. But it had been lying on top of the desk ever since he had moved in, and now, it just might prove to be useful.

Harry began working with the clip, unbending it until all he held was a long strip of metal in his hand.

"See?" Harry said, waving his new tool in front of Hedwig, who hardly seemed impressed. "Now I can pick the lock of the cupboard under the stairs, and maybe even your cage, and we can get out of here. I'll be back in a minute."

Hedwig simply stared then as Harry turned around and headed for his bedroom door. He opened it cautiously, not wanting to wake any of the Dursleys from their sleep. And then he was gone, hurrying down the hallway and then the stairs, his bedroom door closing tightly behind him.

Harry yanked and tugged at the lock in frustration. He had spent nearly a full five minutes at the cupboard under the stairs, twisting the unbent paperclip around and around inside the lock on the door, to no avail.

He couldn't leave. Not without his belongings. Not without his wand, at the very least.

Harry groaned, resting his forehead against the cupboard door. There had to be another way inside. If only he knew where Uncle Vernon kept the key...

Harry's thoughts were interrupted then when a coughing fit broke out somewhere up on the second floor, causing him to nearly jump out of his skin. He listened for a minute as the noise died down, straining to hear any sign of his aunt and uncle's bedroom door opening.

When none came, Harry began climbing the stairs again, deciding that he would be much better off devising a new plan in his room, rather than risk getting caught out of bed.

His hand had barely brushed against the doorknob of his room when a voice broke the silence in the house.

"What are you doing?"

Harry flinched, not even bothering to turn at the sound of his aunt's voice.

"You were downstairs," Petunia hissed. "Why?"

Harry thought desperately for something to say, but nothing was coming to mind.

"Were you eating our food?" the woman demanded.

Harry shook his head. "No, I was—"

"Thinking of running away, perhaps?" Petunia said knowingly. "It wouldn't do you any good."

Harry couldn't help but to turn his head at that.

"They'd only send you back," his aunt continued viciously. "If not right away, then next summer. And then Vernon would be even more upset than he is now."

Anger flared up inside of Harry at the mention of Uncle Vernon.

"And what do you suppose they will do when I don't show up to school on the first of September?" he finally shot back.

Petunia's eyes narrowed. "Why you little—"

"Perhaps they will show up at the door, wondering what's going on," Harry interrupted. "Imagine what the neighbors will say when they see them. Imagine what they will think when—"

"That's enough." Petunia stated firmly. Then she pointed a finger at Harry as she spoke her next words. "You are going to behave yourself for the rest of the summer. You are going to stay in your room, and keep quiet."

"And school?" Harry couldn't help asking.

"What have your uncle and I said about questions?" Petunia returned. She then pointed at his bedroom door. "In. If I catch you out again tonight, I will wake Vernon."

Hardly able to believe that he was getting off with just a warning, Harry gave a quick nod and then slid into his room, closing the door behind him before Aunt Petunia could have the chance to change her mind about getting Uncle Vernon.

Hedwig gave a soft hoot in greeting, and Harry sighed as he crossed the floor to meet her.

"Sorry, girl. It looks like we're going to be stuck here for a little while."

The owl wore a look that plainly said "Well I could have told you that."

Harry gave his familiar a half-hearted smile and then turned towards his bed. Aunt Petunia had been right. He probably would be sent back to the Dursleys if he ended up running away. Where else could he go, really? Who else would take him in?

His only hope now was that the thought of anyone from the wizarding world showing up on Privet Drive to check up on his whereabouts would be enough to persuade the Dursleys to let him go back to school.

He let out another sigh then, as his thoughts began to race. Would they really come looking for him if he didn't show up on the train or at the welcoming feast? Harry couldn't be sure. He'd like to think that someone would, but maybe they wouldn't. Maybe they just wouldn't care.

Harry shook his head. He couldn't think like that. He looked down at the floor, where the broken lamp still laid in pieces. It was then that Harry remembered.

The picture frame.

His gaze turned to the side table. He was almost certain that he had set the picture down there when Dobby had shown up. But it wasn't there now.

For one horrible moment, Harry thought that maybe Uncle Vernon had found that picture, too. But he couldn't have. He hadn't left the room with a picture frame in his hand.

Besides, if the lamp had fallen off the table when Harry had been thrown into it, then perhaps the picture frame had, too.

Without wasting any time, Harry pulled the side table out and away from the wall, and peered behind it.

And there was the picture frame, resting against the wall. Harry could have laughed in relief. Somehow, his uncle had overlooked it.

Harry frowned as he gathered the frame into his hands and noticed that the glass was now cracked, making it slightly difficult to see his mother's face.

He sat down on the bed, turning the frame over so that he could remove the back and take the picture out. His fingers slid the tiny latches out of the way, and then he pulled the back away.

Harry froze.

He had only expected to see the back of the Evans family portrait.

Instead, there was another picture entirely inside the frame.

Harry let out a small gasp, because there his mother was again, smiling up at him, probably about the same age as she was in the portrait on the other side of the frame. She was outside now, under a large tree, and there was only one other occupant of this picture.

A young, skinny boy with black hair and a long nose was also smiling, only rather than looking up at the camera, he was staring at Lily.

Harry's brow wrinkled in confusion. He felt as though he knew this person, but he couldn't possibly. This was just an old childhood friend of his mother's.

And yet, the boy's features seemed so familiar. The dark eyes...the sallow skin...

Harry carefully lifted the picture out of the frame, and stared. A few seconds passed, and then Harry turned the picture over.

And his heart nearly stopped.

For across the back of the old photograph, someone had scrawled the names of the two children in the picture. And Harry could hardly believe his eyes.

How was this possible? The words simply couldn't be true. He somehow wasn't reading them right.

But no matter how many times Harry read the names, his eyes darting back and forth across the back of the photograph, they remained very much the same.

"Lily and Severus," he finally whispered into the darkness.

Harry thought he might go into shock.

A/N: Thoughts? Thanks again for reading everybody!