"Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.

John 5:19

"I can't believe the old man left him with Petunia. Petunia."

"The old man's not one of mine, is he?"

"He's a wizard. I can never really tell."

"Neither can I.

Are you crying?"

"Pet and I were on bad terms. I'm not as trusting as Dumbledore—I can't help but worry…"

"I'll see what I can do."

"…Thank you. I just—I love him so much."

"So do I, my sister. So do I."


"Jesus loves the little children, remember?"

"…Please don't say it like that."

"Tell me you didn't look 30 years into the future…"

"Why, what happens 30 years into the future?"

"…Absolutely nothing at all."

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of Number Four, Privet Drive, were perfectly Righteous people, thank you very much. They were the last people you'd expect to ever be in anything strange, and definitely the last people who you'd ever think were connected to the Occult, the Paranormal, or the Satanic. (After all, that was the domain of terrorists like the IRA, as all right-thinking British citizens knew.)

Mr. Dursley was a preacher in the American style, and his attempts to reimport the Evangelical model had won him a small but growing flock of ardent believers. He was a big, beefy man, as is often the case with the truly Righteous, but he did not keep the commandment not to shave his beard (because Jesus had wiped away that requirement for Christians), and instead maintained an impeccably vain mustache. Mrs. Dursley was weedy and blonde, but she always kept her hair in a very modest bun. In another life she might have used her long, giraffe-like neck to spy on the neighbors and gossip, but ever since her traumatic childhood which drove her to becoming Born-Again in the glory of Jesus Christ, she knew that gossip was an abomination in the eyes of the Lord and instead spent much of her time writing angry letters to the Daily Mail about how their articles were steeped in sin.

The Dursleys had a son, Dudley, who was just about ten years old; he was a fat little boy, and while he was a little spoiled they certainly tried their best with him; and there was another child in their household—though all the photographs in the house showed no hint of him.

Young Harry Potter was the son of Mrs. Petunia Dursley's late sister Lily, and he had an almost professional level of skill at photography because the Dursleys had given him the dubious honor of being family photographer. He was thinner than even Petunia, and a head shorter than Dudley, and he had tangled black hair and bright green eyes. The Dursleys had promised to raise him, and they did so as if he had been born out of wedlock. They kept him fed and watered, and tried to teach the virtues of the Scripture to him, but expected him to be no good at all for it. That natural propensity for virtue was reserved for their golden boy Dudley.

The Dursleys begrudgingly sent both of their boys to school, for neither of them was up to the task of educating two rambunctious young boys (really, one, but Harry took quite a bit of the blame for Dudley's antics), but Vernon made sure to emphasize that evolution was false, English was only important in that you needed to be good at it to convert heathens to the Way, the Truth, and the Light of Jesus Christ, and God only cared about math in that you needed to give 10% of your income to Him, or his nearest representative on Earth, and that counted as taxes. Harry got the brunt of the lectures on original sin, while Dudley got the fun lessons. In the past they'd gone to an orphanage while Vernon pontificated about how God was punishing the children for the sins of their fathers, a strip club while Vernon preached that women were harlots who were going to Hell, and London, where Vernon fire-and-brimstone preached how cities were dens of Satan.

Today, it was Dudley's birthday, so they were going to the zoo. It was a nice, wholesome family outing.

The trouble was, Harry didn't really fit into the Dursley's idea of a wholesome family life. Strange things tended to happen to him. Somehow, his views on God, faith, and reality were strangely candid for a 10 year old raised by zealots.

So Harry, Dudley, and Dudley's friend Piers Polkiss were squeezed into the back of Vernon's car as Vernon ranted about animals, of all things.

"Now, in the beginning," he said, his voice blustery, "God created the heavens and the earth. Then, he created all the beasts of the earth after his kind. And once the beasts had come forth and multiplied, he created Adam, the first man!"

"Watch the road, dear," Petunia said sharply.

"Then," said Vernon, as he swerved to avoid a dormouse, "God bade Adam to call every living creature by a name, a name for all the cattle, and all the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field."

"You're confusing your stories, Uncle Vernon," Harry said timidly. "In Genesis 2 God has Adam name the animals, but he creates Adam first."

"Don't take the Lord's name in vain!" roared Uncle Vernon.

"Let your Father finish talking," said Petunia shrewishly.

Harry knew Uncle Vernon wasn't really his father, but he had to call him Father whenever he was preaching. Usually he preferred to stay quiet.

"Now, this is why God doesn't have a problem with zoos, see," said Uncle Vernon. "Zoos are just a natural extension of Adam's right to name animals. We are better than them. We are above them. We have knowledge of good and evil, and that is what we use in building zoos. Now, who can tell me another Bible verse involving animals?"

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle—" Harry began. But Piers interrupted him.

"There's a verse that makes the Jews and Arabs not eat pigs, right, Father Dursley?" said Piers.

"That's right!" said Uncle Vernon. "Jews and Arabs don't eat pigs, but we do, because Jesus came and fulfilled that law!"

"I had a dream about Jesus," Harry said suddenly. "He was talking to my mother and they were telling me that they loved me."

The car screeched to a halt. They were at the zoo. "Everybody out," said Vernon gruffly. "Except you, boy."

Harry stayed put in the car as Petunia ushered Dudley and Piers to get their tickets. "It was just a dream," he said.

"It better be just a dream, boy," Vernon said, glowering. "Don't go on starting to think that you're having visions or anything. Joan of Arc had visions, and they burned her like a steak for being a witch."

He said this last sentence with a rather nasty smile. Dudley licked his lips.

Harry frowned. "Don't you mean 'at the stake'?"

"That's what I said," said Vernon. "Now up, out, boy. Don't keep your aunt waiting."

The day was rather enjoyable. Vernon blessedly shut up about the animals and instead told the boys to admire the majesty of God's creation, which was just as well because he'd likely have something highly offensive if he'd tried to preach. At lunch, the Dursleys bought him a lettuce sandwich, but Dudley, as usual, didn't finish his third sausage roll and only ate half of his second Knickerbocker glory, so Harry as usual got the leftovers. The Dursleys weren't monsters; they just didn't see the need to get Harry anything particularly special when Dudley's leftovers would suffice.

After lunch they went to the reptile house and they saw a massive snake. It was sleeping.

"The snake is a symbol of the Devil!" Vernon shouted loudly, getting him glares from the other visitors. He didn't seem to notice. "It was the snake that tempted Eve to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil; the Snake drew humanity to embrace original sin! It is the snake that bade God to put woman beneath man!"

Harry tuned him out after this point, because he was obviously building to a tirade against either feminism or Harry's existence. Instead, he stared at the snake, mesmerized.

"What a windbag," hissed the snake—or perhaps he was just imagining it?

"Imagine living with him," he muttered.

To his surprise, the snake nodded vigorously. "Help an amigo out?"

"Uncle Vernon!" said Harry snarkily. "Look! The snake is angry at you!"

"Preposterous!" blustered Vernon. "God made snakes too stupid to think after the Fall of Man!"

This was of course not scripturally supported anywhere, but Dudley let out an unmanly scream as he pointed at the snake, which had reared up as if to strike.

"Aren't you a constrictor," muttered Harry, glancing at the sign.

"What they don't know won't hurt them," hissed the snake.

Vernon had turned as purple as a grape. "Evil! Evil!" he bellowed. "The London Zoo is harboring an agent of Satan! Repent, zookeepers! Repent!"

A burly security guard, though rather thin in comparison to Vernon, approached them. "Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to leave—"

But then both Piers and Dudley screamed, as the snake lunged forwards, and as it did so—the glass vanished.

There was pandaemonium after that. A bunch of security guards tackled Vernon and dragged them out, muttering about "bloody religious fanatics" as they did so, and they only managed to not get expelled from the zoo proper because Aunt Petunia was hyperventilating about "that horrible snake" so the manager pitied her and made them a cup of tea, and Harry could've sworn the snake had hissed "Many thanks, blessed one," as it left.

The drive home was silent, but as soon as Piers had left Vernon directed Harry into the cupboard under the stairs.

"Stay—on your knees—repent," he managed to say through clenched teeth, before Petunia's shoulder rub had gotten him calm enough to speak regular words. "You stay in there until you repent for siccing that devil-beast on us!"

"But I didn't do anything!" said Harry, but it was no use; Vernon had slammed the cupboard shut, leaving him with only the light of the votive candles.