Chapter 1: Do You Believe in Magic?
Things were not always normal around the boy named Harry Potter. His family, the Dursleys, were completely average and ordinary folk and did their best to keep Harry acting as normal as possible. His Uncle Vernon was a major sales representative at Grunnings Drill Manufacturers. His Aunt Petunia spent most days puttering around the house cleaning and gardening. Lastly, his slightly older cousin Dudley was a normal, if slightly large, boy who was only interested in eating and watching the telly.
But Harry Potter was a magnet for the objectively unordinary. The lights shattering during a thunderstorm or turning on on their own whenever he woke up from a nightmare was pretty common when he was younger. He could also swear that sometimes when he was reaching for something it would just kind of move into his hand. As he got older the strangeness became less common but more noticeable. His very first week in year 2 of primary school he'd apparently turned his teacher's hair blue when she was getting on Dudley for not doing his homework. The teacher got mad at Dudley, but when they got home that night Harry's aunt and uncle told him he couldn't have dessert and that he needed to not get angry so easy.
Later that year, some bigger boys chased him throwing rocks when Harry suddenly found himself on the roof of the school. The fire department was called in to get him down, and his family was especially angry with him after they made sure that he was okay and that the other boys were punished. He was grounded for two whole weeks over that.
Harry wasn't quite sure why he was being punished, it's not like he could turn their teacher's hair blue, and people can't just teleport like in Doctor Who. But Aunt Petunia told him that he'd understand when he was a little older, and play with her straight, stringy hair with a sad look in her eye. This had been the way of things since Harry could remember. Even learning about his parents hadn't explained the strangeness.
Back when he turned six, his aunt and uncle had finally told him how his parents died. Prior to that the only hint he'd ever had was when his Aunt Marge visited and complained about them being drunks. Aunt Petunia set he and Dudley straight on that though. That his mum was training to be a nurse and his father was like a special police officer and they'd protecting him from a very bad man that attacked their home. That he should always be proud of them.
Harry wasn't sure why that made him strange, but when he heard their story he was proud of his parents. His aunt didn't have any pictures of his dad, apparently he was doing some secret spy stuff and they had only met once, but the picture of his mother on his bedside table was his most prized possession. It was the last thing he looked at every night, beside a picture of his new family together in the back yard in front of Aunt Petunia's prized rose bushes. At least he finally learned why he had to cover up the scar on his forehead with his aunt's makeup whenever they were out in large crowds. It would be bad if some member of the bad guy's gang saw it.
13 July, 1988
Petunia wasn't completely sure when Harry's birthday was, just that it was in the latter part of July, the note Lily sent with the picture of their family didn't mention it specifically. Because of this, the Dursleys celebrated a joint birthday for Dudley and Harry in mid-July. Petunia had long ago decided to herself that she couldn't wallow in what 'Mort had taken from her when her sister died (She'd looked back through the couple Daily Prophets she'd saved and couldn't find the man's name printed anywhere; just that stupid, hyphenated moniker). Instead, Petunia vowed to remember what Harry had lost, and to provide it to him as best she could.
The family was currently enjoying a trip to the zoo for the boy's 8th birthdays. Petunia wasn't really the best with money, and hadn't realized how much of her own money she'd moved into the magical world before that fateful Halloween. Vernon had been having a rough patch at work, so they'd had to go on a Monday to avoid peak prices, the kids would have their party that friday night. The Polkiss siblings and a few of the other kids from the neighborhood were getting together for chickens on the grill.
Vernon had suggested they go to a roller coaster park, since he hated them and would be at work and not have to go when they went. But the zoo was one of the few attractions that both boys enjoyed, and Petunia wanted to make sure both of them had fun (Harry disliked roller coasters, but was ok with water rides). Though, Dudley prefered big animals like lions and bears; while Harry for whatever reason had always had a strange affinity for reptiles, especially snakes.
I guess even his taste in animals has to be strange, Petunia thought as she watched Dudley and Harry gawk at a large constrictor of some kind that was coiled up and looking out the glass front of the enclosure, picture worthy if you liked big snakes.
Of course the animal they agree on is a giant snake.
The snake kept swaying back and forth for the boys, flicking its tongue out randomly. Then, Dudley turned to Harry and made a pleading motion with his hands, oh dear. Right when Petunia began hurriedly walked across the room there was a scream from one of the patrons as the snake slithered right out of the enclosure. The glass had vanished.
Petunia was able to grab the boys and get them out of the reptile house without further incident, but what came after left her truly wishing for the first time in years that she could get back into Diagon Alley.
"Harry, what have I told you about getting excited in public like that? You have to control the strangeness around you or people will start asking questions of the family." Petunia gently chided him, just four more years, then he can learn to control it.
"But Aunt Petunia, I was just talking to the snake. It was Dudley who got excited."
What?! Talking to a snake?, wait, "Dudley?"
"Yeah mom. Harry was hissing weird stuff and the snake was hissing back! Harry said the snake said it wished it could have more room to move around and hunt and I thought, you know. It's not right to keep someone locked up like that is it? It's not fun to look at them anymore if you know they're sad."
"... What did you do then, Duddykins?"
"Well, I asked Harry if he could like, break the glass. But he said he didn't want to risk any more strangeness in public than talking to the snake. I was kinda mad the snake wasn't gonna get to go out like he wanted and then suddenly the glass was just gone! The snake turned back and hissed as it was leaving and Harry said it said 'thanks'. It was so cool!"
After the zoo, Petunia took the kids to Mcdonald's for an early dinner (Dudley was showing the same weight issues as his father, so this was a treat for the family) and after putting them to bed that night she went into the attic and broke out Lily's potions notes.
"I'm sure it was just a coincidence darling. No reason to go digging through this old stuff. Even if it's magic, it's got to go bad doesn't it?" Vernon shivered when he looked at some of the things in his attic, "Frog eggs? Newt eyes? Petunia most of these things will have gone sour or… something… up here after all this long."
"Vernon, I have to know. Harry has always been able to tell that the magic is from him somehow. Dudley seemed to really think that he made that glass disappear. I need to know!"
"I'm not sure how I became the voice of reason here, Pet, but if that's the case we can find out about it when he turns eleven."
"...Ok Vernon. You're right"
For the next two days while Vernon was at work Petunia was largely unavailable, either digging up her garden or digging through books the boys weren't allowed to look at in the attic. The morning of the third day Petunia woke up feeling ill, that night she was quite sick, and the next morning Vernon was forced to call off from work to take care of her.
Dudley and Harry were told to watch the Dr. Who tapes they'd rented for the now cancelled party that had been planned for that friday while Vernon took care of their sick aunt. However the first episode they chose had Daleks in it and both boys decided there were chores they could do.
Vernon loved sci-fi, and Dudley and Harry usually did too, but whenever killer-robots were on screen both boys fell apart without him. Harry didn't like the flashing green lights that often accompanied them and Dudley prefered his robots dumb and funny like in Star Wars. Dudley began rinsing the dishes that had been piling up in the sink; while Harry went out to weed Aunt Petunia's garden, since she wasn't able to.
It had only been a couple days since Aunt Petunia was out here, so there weren't that many weeds to pull, but after Harry had finished he looked around at the areas that his aunt had been working in before she got sick. It probably wasn't the flowers or herbs that got her sick, so Harry started putting that area to rights. Aunt Petunia had done a good job of uprooting several herbs, as well as a small pink rose bush, but Harry was pretty sure he could salvage it so he got to work replanting.
~Watch where you toss the earth, human~
Harry looked to his right and saw a strange brightly-banded little snake slithering from under a clot of dirt he'd carelessly moved aside. ~Sorry~ he hissed back.
~Speaker? I sensed magic in this place, but to find a speaker so far from the land of my nest. Well met.~ The snake had freed itself from the dirt and coiled on itself to raise its head in greeting.
~Magic? I don't know about that, my aunt and uncle have always said magic isn't real whenever I asked how about stage magicians on the telly did it. But strangeness happens around me sometimes… and I've talked to a snake before. At the zoo a few days ago, and a couple times before that on the playground at school.~ Harry wasn't sure how he could talk to snakes, but magic seemed as simple an explanation as anything. He looked closer at the snake in front of him, ~I don't think I've ever seen a snake like you before. Where did you come from?~
~A human-child took me from the place with other snakes and I was kept by it in invisible walls in the dark. The large-female-human found me, the large-male-human threw me into the wood behind their nest. I tasted the magic around your nest, hunted my way here.~ The snake paused while Harry got comfortable on the ground, sitting cross-legged. It studied the boy for a moment before continuing, ~I have been here for six passings of the sun. Why do you not come out before, speaker? The tall-female-human was always before.~
~That's my aunt… the sister of my mother.~ Harry added as the snake looked at him quizzically, ~This is her garden, but she's really sick right now. I was just weeding for her, and righting the plants she had messed up when she got sick. Normally she does all of this kind of stuff herself but my cousin and I wanted to help.~
~I could taste the sickness.~ The snake agreed, Harry's eyes widened at that and the snake continued, ~It smelled of something foul. Toxic.~ The snake slithered to the smallish tree in the back corner of the garden before carefully wrapping around one of its roots as Harry got up to follow, ~I told you I came here because I sensed magic. This is a magic tree. Its scales repel dark magic, and only someone who knows of magic would grow it. If the tall-human-female planted the garden, she knows of magic too.~ The snake slithered up to Harry, ~Take me into your nest, speaker. Your tall-female-human~
~Your Aunt did not smell of strong magic herself. If she tried to make magic she may have poisoned herself. You said she kept magic from you, but she knows of it, take me into your nest, let me taste the air around her and I can perhaps show you how to help her if it is a magic toxin. The smell is weak here, I will need to be nearer to tell.~
~Do you really think you can do that? If you can help my aunt I'll do anything I can to repay you!~ Harry lowered his hand to the ground and the snake slithered up and wrapped around his hand and wrist. It was only about thirty centimeters long, so it wasn't hard.
When Harry walked through the kitchen from the back with a snake wrapped around his hand on his way upstairs Dudley put the broom down and followed. Uncle Vernon exploded the moment Harry walked through the door into his and Petunia's room with a snake.
"Boy, WHAT ARE YOU DOING BRINGING A SNAKE INTO MY HOUSE? THERE'S A LIMIT TO WHAT I'LL TOLERATE IN MY HOME! IF THAT THING BIT HER!"
Vernon continued to rant as Harry explained, knowing from experience that his uncle could still hear him, "He said that he saw Aunt Petunia in the gardens before. He said he smelled her getting sick. Getting magic sick." Harry stressed the word, praying his uncle wouldn't get madder about all the strangeness he was bringing in the house. That it wasn't his fault that Aunt Petunia was sick.
Harry needn't have worried, the moment he said 'magic' Vernon went silent. You could have heard a pin drop in the intervening moments. Instead, they heard the snake on Harry's hand begin hissing.
~I taste it, Speaker. Aged magic instead of fresh, it is poisoning her slowly.~ The snake looked back at Harry and flicked its tongue in the direction of the hallway, ~She works the magic somewhere within your nest. Puts it into water and mud.~
Harry looked at his uncle as the serpent continued hissing near his ear and almost wilted under the look he was getting. One part fear, one part confusion, and Uncle Vernon didn't like being afraid. "Uncle Vernon, he," raising the snake, "says that there's somewhere in the house that Aunt Petunia makes magic. Can you show me? He says he wants to try and help her." Vernon looked unsure of the boy and his reptile, "Please Uncle Vernon, he says Aunt Petunia is dying." Harry's lip was trembling as he fought not to cry.
Vernon did his best not to look at the snake and only the child he'd been raising for seven years, but a pained groan from his wife caused him to glance at her and steel his resolve as he answered, "All right, Harry. I'll show you."
Harry and Vernon had started by trying to go through the potions books looking for antidotes based on the things they saw open around the small cauldron, only to realize they had no idea what half the things were and most recipes took days to make anyways! But once again the snake came to the rescue, finding a jar with three stones in it that it said smelled like '~the opposite of sickness~'. Rechecking Lily's notes they found a reference to a "Bezoar", a stone that would counter most poisons or toxins if swallowed with slightly warm water. Lily's notes and help from the snake led to Harry and Vernon finding that two of the stones had lost their potency, but one was still strong. The two returned to Petunia's bedside armed with a glass of warm water with a lumpy stone in it to a sight that almost made Vernon drop the glass.
Dudley was asleep in the bed, holding his mother as he rested his head on her shoulder. They were both glowing with a soft, white luminescence. Vernon sighed as he took in the sight. Then soldiered on, lifting Petunia and coaxing her into drinking the mixture. The result was almost immediate, as her breathing evened and her colour began returning. He decided to leave Dudley where he was, glow and all.
Vernon sat on the couch while Harry set some water to boil for tea, the snake now comfortably draped over his shoulders. He brought the tea back into the family room and set a cup on the table in front of his uncle, then backed up and sat on the chair farthest from his uncle's favorite recliner, all while keeping his gaze fixed on the floor. When he looked up, his uncle was having a staring contest with the snake. Harry couldn't decide if Vernon was thinking or merely glaring, but then he broke the stare and looked at Harry.
"How long are you planning on keeping that in here?"
"We are not just keeping a random bloody snake for no good reason. Your strangeness has to have limits in polite society, Harry."
"You mean magic?" Harry asked tentatively, when his uncle winced he worried he'd pushed too far but his uncle proved him wrong.
"Yes, I mean… that. Magic" That's the first time he's actually said the word all afternoon, Harry thought, "You get it from your parents, both of them. When Petunia wakes up she can tell you more about it. Now this snake…"
"I promised him out in the garden," Harry interrupted his uncle and began gushing, "I promised that I'd do anything I could for him if he could save Aunt Petunia. Um, Uncle Vernon… he says that for a snake to be the partner of a… a wizard… who can talk to snakes is a big honor. He wants to stay with me, he says he'll keep the mice and other snakes away too!" Harry couldn't help the pleading tone that had crept into his voice.
Vernon appraised the two, "Is it poisonous?"
~Do you have poison little friend?~ Vernon fought to suppress a shiver when Harry hissed at the snake. It was easier when Petunia's life was in imminent danger.
~No, speaker. My kind hunted the venomed ones in our homeland. We can resist the death that seeps from their fangs, but there is no death in my own.~
"No Uncle Vernon. He says he's a kind of snake that doesn't get hurt bad from poison snakes and he isn't poisonous himself."
Vernon took a sip of his tea and closed his eyes. After a minute and another sip or two he responded, "It does not leave your room unless you are personally carrying it to the garden." Harry released a sigh of relief, "You will not take it to or from your room while we have company, and I expect to not have to deal with a single rat or snake in her garden till you go off to school in a few years."
He held his hand out to Harry's questioning look and continued, "You and Dudley will not tell your friends about the snake. That includes Piers Polkiss down the street, you'll have to make sure it's in the garden whenever he's over. Finally, you will have to either do extra chores, or find a neighbor who will pay you for simple chores to help pay for the thing's upkeep. Am I clear?"
"Yes Uncle Vernon, I can do all of that. No problem. Uhm… what did you mean 'go off to school'?"
"... There's a school for fre-wizards like you. Your parents both went there, and in a few years you will too. I'm not answering any more questions about that without your aunt." Vernon studied the worried look on Harry's face that had been there since his almost 'freak' slipup. "I'm not going to lie to you Harry, I'm not sure I like your parent's kind. Your mother, according to your aunt, was a truly great person. Your father probably had to be as well for her to have married him."
"Sadly," he continued, "pretty much the only thing I know about him personally is that he's a war hero; and I'll always be thankful to your family for how they protected us, and especially you. But many of the others are just freaks. No other word for it. Unable to fit in with normal people, and lacking basic sense. Petunia said that in the few times she was around them she'd found that they didn't even know how to say 'electricity'. Much less what it is. Every now and then while we drive through town your aunt will point out someone so strangely dressed he's drawing a bleedin' crowd and say, 'They're dressed like a wizard, Vernon, keep driving.'"
"Does that mean you and Aunt Petunia are hiding from them. Wizards?"
"Just for a while. but I'm going to leave it up to Petunia whether we tell you the 'why' now or to wait, and you're going to have to accept her decision." Vernon thought for a moment, "One last thing. If they stop glowing before they wake up don't mention it to either of them. We are going to assume that was a side effect of whatever magic Petunia was messing with and not bring it up again."
"Yes sir." I'm magic? I'm a wizard? Harry thought to himself. That explains the strangeness.
The first thing that happened when Aunt Petunia woke the next morning was for her to just about need medical help again as she shrieked and fell and almost hit her head when she saw Harry's snake wrapped around his upper arm as he carried it outside. After explaining to her what he and Harry (mostly Harry) had done to help her, she confessed to Vernon that she had tried brewing a potion that would tell if Dudley was magic. Vernon scoffed and pointed out that all the weirdness happened around Harry, and from there the two of them finished explaining to both boys what was happening.
They explained about magic, and why they had to keep it secret; that Dumbledore had left Harry there with no way to contact the magical world for support or information. Even without Vernon's speculation about him having some nefarious or vengeful motive, Harry and Dudley both could tell that Dumbledore wasn't exactly sane. Who leaves a toddler out in the cold? But the idea that people were calling Harry a hero for that night was ridiculous. They shouldn't have been lavishing praise on "Boy-Who-Lived" for defeating Mort (until Harry knew what his name actually was that's what he'd call him, not some long, spooky, fake name). They should be honoring the real heroes, his Parents-Who-Died, who most definitely were the reason Mort died that night.
After pressing into them that nothing about it could leave the house, Petunia told both Harry and Dudley all the stories she could remember of Harry's parents, especially Lily. How she came home from magic school, Hogwarts, for Christmas her first year and Aunt Petunia had hated her for being so weird. Also for leaving her, Petunia and Lily had been very close before Lily went to school, the boys had learned; and Petunia thought that Lily leaving home meant she didn't want her "normal" sister around anymore.
But Lily was persistent, and when she came home that summer she brought tons of notes and extra books and taught their mother how to brew 'household potions'. Magic that Petunia said was easy to blend in with the regular world. Most simple potions just required you to be allowed to know about magic, not actually have it yourself, so muggles could brew and use them too. At one point she'd pulled out a jar of something and said that it was magic ointment for cuts that left no scars; but Harry's new snake friend had warned them that it was starting to smell of "burning" and would need to be disposed of soon, much to Petunia's disappointment.
Harry was also pleasantly surprised to learn that the tree in the back of the garden was, in fact, magical. His aunt called it a 'Wiggentree' and said it did exactly what the snake suggested, its bark warded off a lot of lesser monsters, and was used in potions for the same effect. When Harry pressed, Petunia admitted that her beautiful pink roses were magical too. Harry remembered seeing his aunt and uncle drinking tea from the roses, but his aunt got mad and said that he couldn't ask any more about that until he was thirty. Harry got the feeling that had nothing to do with magic.
While Petunia lamented that she didn't have any other kind of magical plant that she could show Harry, he was still quite interested in the fact that the snake seemed to understand magic on some level as well. Maybe he could teach them something too, though Harry had resolved not to ask him about the roses just in case.
After she'd finished her story Petunia asked Harry to come upstairs with her alone, as they climbed the stairs she told him that she had done something she considered almost unforgivable and it was time for her to apologize and finally try to make up for it.
He wanted to be mad when she gave it to him, but he was enraptured almost immediately. He started crying, Petunia started crying, and soon they were both holding each other for dear life. Through sobs Petunia explained to her nephew that she just couldn't think of a way to show him the picture without explaining magic to him, and she and Vernon had thought hiding magic until he was older was the best way to protect him.
That night, Harry Potter went to sleep gazing at a magical picture of his parents. With tears in his eyes, he watched his mother kiss him on the forehead where she held Baby-Harry, then peck his father on the lips before both of them smiled and waved to the camera. Harry watched and waited one more loop of the picture, his evening ritual was about to be changed forever and he needed to time this first attempt perfectly.
"Goodnight mum, goodnight dad." His parents smiled and waved back to him.
Harry had always known that his mum wanted to be a doctor, and he had always harbored a desire to be the same. Now, however, his Aunt Petunia shared the real truth: Lily had studied to become a healer, a magic doctor, during her time at school. Harry loved the idea that his mother wanted to help everyone until his aunt told him that magic healers only helped magic people. When Harry innocently asked why wizards didn't use these potions to help non-magical people his aunt's answer made him mad:
"Witches and Wizards tend to either dislike or look-down-on non-magical people, at best they tend to not understand us hardly at all. They call us 'Muggles', and I think they don't even realize how degrading that is. They also call it 'protecting their secrecy' to not help non-magical people, but Lily told me they used that as an excuse to muscle us around when they want as well." She'd said.
She also warned Harry that most magical beings were clueless about how the normal world worked and pretended like it didn't matter that they tended to attract stares for their outfits, and walk into traffic whenever they went in public.
Over the next two years Petunia showed Harry his mother's notes and potions texts and Harry began asking for not only chemistry sets, but also things of a more non-magical bent like simple books on anatomy and health. Remembering how brilliant Lily was, and assuming that it was just something about the magic, Petunia went with it. She found herself enjoying having something to study again, and gladly helped Harry parse down more difficult concepts where she was able.
They couldn't actually brew potions, as they didn't want to risk any of the ingredients being contaminated again even with a reptilian divining-fork helping them, but Harry would often substitute a potion recipe for a soup or stew and practice cutting, chopping, crushing, mashing and slicing ingredients; as well as timing his stirring the way the books said to do. His mother's notes had said that learning the different ways to prepare things was the hardest part for her. Learning to cook, and sometimes experiment with cooking, was a nice side task as well.
Dudley didn't need to hear more about potions and cauldrons past the true story of Harry's parents. Harry's dad wasn't just a hero cop, he was a magic warrior who fought dark lords. He was like Obi-Wan Kenobi with a wand instead of a lightsaber. But even more awesome 'cause its real life. That means Harry should be like Luke Skywalker, right? But Harry wasn't a Luke Skywalker. He was short, and thin, and the more time passed the more time Harry spent reading. Ever since learning about magic,if Harry didn't have his nose in some book on potions or science with Dudley's mom he was reading fantasy books about magic, stories like Narnia and Lord of the Rings. It was just too bad that Harry was more interested in what characters like Gandalf and the White Witch did than Aragorn or Prince Caspian. But Harry had still saved Dudley's mom. Harry had protected their family.
Maybe Harry was trying to be more like The Doctor than a Jedi? Dudley didn't think he could do that. But, he could still protect his family. He could protect other people too.
Harry was learning the stuff his mom learned. Just a few months after learning about magic he was already talking avidly about being a healer like she had wanted to be, though Harry wanted to be able to take care of Vernon and Petunia too. If that was the case, then Dudley could take something from Harry's parents' story as well. He would protect people like Harry wanted to. But he'd do it his way, like a warrior protecting his friends and family. Like James Potter did, only Dudley would have Harry there to make him better after, and sadly Dudley wouldn't have a magic wand. Harry's dad was apparently the top scorer on his school sports team before becoming an "Auror" (which Dudley knew was magic-speak for "Jedi Knight"), so that's where he would begin too.
It started with an interest in exercise, which his mom was all too happy to encourage. Dudley was working towards being truly pudgy, even at eight, but picking up youth football with Harry quickly leaned up his baby fat. His dad had tried to suggest rugby, but between Petunia's indignation and Dudley wanting to play a sport with Harry, he relented. Though he wasn't soft anymore, he was still big, and Dudley used his size and strength to play a mean center-back. Harry, being smaller, was easy to bully around on the field, but when he got the ball away from the crowd he was fast. Even when he had to dribble through a team though, it was like he had a sixth sense for dodging the worst trouble.
A little after Dudley's ninth birthday he asked to learn karate, he told his parents he wanted to be like the Karate Kid. His mom was less thrilled with that than football, though Vernon eventually got her to relent by pointing out the extra time Harry gets with her studying Lily's things meant Dudley should get to do something special he wants to do, too.
Dudley was clumsy when he started but with a little bit of work and a heavy serving of the kind of dedication that only comes from almost losing your mom, he improved quickly. He was never the fastest kid in his class, but when he got someone in a hold while sparring there was no escaping. Dudley's parents didn't know if all the dark lord's "Death Eaters" had been caught, but Dudley would make sure he could protect his family if they weren't and ever came calling.
Over the couple years since Petunia had told the boys about wizards and dark lords, Dudley had also gathered some friends. He and Piers Polkiss had gotten some of the other bigger kids in their school, though no one was as big as Dudley, and they'd formed a little friend-group. Dudley's gang would tell off bullies who picked on weaker kids in the schoolyard, mostly upper years who thought they'd be bigger than everyone; and helping the victims get to teachers for help. Those who pushed too far or operated outside of school found out Dudley wasn't just talk, though his mom never found out about it. Most kids didn't want to admit to being taken down by someone younger than them.
Meanwhile Harry, with his newfound attention to reading and homework, became a prime target for those bullies. It didn't take long for many of the more academic kids or shyer kids in the school to congregate around him during after-school times when an upper year might be looking to supplement their allowance. This included Piers' little sister Tina, who started getting picked on when she began sitting with Harry in the library. Where Harry and Tina, were, Dudley's gang was not far behind. This helped Dudley and his friends too, as Harry's friends were more than happy to help them with homework and studying.
The two groups began interacting on purpose more often, and soon became basically one. Dudley's friends also helped get the others to play sports and walk around town with them. After a couple years the two groups were thick-as-thieves, though they still retained their original styles for the most part. They were definitely an interesting sight walking into the theatre, over a dozen strong, for tickets to Back to the Future: Part 2: most nice looking children with respectable clothes, with some much bigger kids who had a "street hoodlum" look going for them. They would have been intimidating if they weren't talking and laughing with the others good-naturedly.
While good science fiction would still hold a special place in their hearts; Dudley and Harry's favorite new family game was 'real magic or fake', where they would watch movies about magic or monsters and guess what was based on real magic someone had seen by accident and what was totally from the writer's mind. There was no real way to score it unless it was a plant or potion since they didn't have any of Lily's books on other classes, but it led to quite a bit of good natured debate. Dudley found himself wanting the monsters from every story to be real, and bigger than in cinema. Harry, meanwhile, kept a private list of fictional 'elixir of life' ideas to look up when get got to Hogwarts.
But despite Harry Potter knowing about magic and learning from his mom's books, he and his aunt still couldn't find Diagon Alley; not even when they'd taken the snake he found in the garden, which he'd named 'Najash'. Harry had heard the name at children's studies at the church Aunt Petunia sometimes made them attend.