I hope you enjoy this slower-paced chapter, as Harry tries to figure out what the hell happened.
"Now don't make a mess!" Aunt Petunia ordered as Harry wolfed down his breakfast of two measly slices of burnt toast, making sure to catch all of the crumbs lest he angered Aunt Petunia even further. It felt like no time at all since he had been ordered out of it when he was locked back into the cupboard under the stairs. "I don't want to hear a sound from you!" Harry heard his aunt shriek outside of his room.
Over the next hour, he heard the general sounds of his cousin and uncle getting ready to go to school and work, respectively. Uncle Vernon left Privet Drive with a surly reminder to "tell the school that he's sick. Not far from the truth, isn't it?" He didn't have to elaborate more than that, as Aunt Petunia was on the phone moments later cooking up a story about how Harry had "just come down with a case of bronchitis," and how she "couldn't risk letting it spread to all the other children."
With a cheery call of "bye Hairy," from Dudley, the house was empty, save for a lone child locked where no one would ever see him. Despite his misfortune, Harry looked at his situation as an opportunity. He had a mysterious key and ample time to think about what he should do about it, and no risk of the Dursley's noticing it and taking it away.
Harry dug the key out of the pocket of his too-big trousers and took a closer look. At first glance, the key wasn't anything special, but in the darkened space of his cupboard, he could confirm that just like in his dream the last night, the key was in fact glowing. It wasn't a very bright light, mind you. It was only slightly brighter than some of Dudley's old glow-in-the-dark plastic toys. The edges of his fingers were faintly tinted blue around the point of contact.
Yet the light it shone wasn't what made the Velvet Room key so mysterious. How did I get it? Harry thought. He was sure that everything that happened in the room with the golden-eyed Michelle, the long-nosed Igor, and the two musicians, was a dream. It had to be. He woke up in his cupboard right after Michelle gave a similar-looking key to him.
He remembered Igor's words: "This world exists between dream and reality, mind and matter." But that didn't make any sense. Dreams and reality were totally separate, weren't they? The key in his hands, however, seemed to prove otherwise. Was what happened in the Velvet Room, not a dream? And if so, does that mean it actually happened?
The blue key pinched between his fingers seemed to taunt him. "Why do I have you?" Harry asked out loud as if it would divulge the secrets of the universe at a moment's notice. He sighed and leant back against the wall of the cupboard.
If everything that happened in the Velvet Room was in some way real, what did that mean? Was it possible that there were people in some other world that could somehow affect the real world? How else could he have gotten that key? The Dursleys surely wouldn't give him anything like a key. According to them, if something was locked, Harry was not to open it. Ever. Therefore, somehow, however improbable it was, the Velvet Room had to exist.
"Why does this always happen to me," he groaned. Harry always had strange things happen around him. There was one time when a teacher's wig turned blue after he was yelling and screaming at Harry over something he didn't even do. Then the other time when one moment he was running from Dudley and his gang and the next moment he was on top of the roof. Not to mention what happened the day before with the talking snake and the vanishing glass. And now there was this key. This, simply impossible key.
Harry jerked forward in realisation. All the strange and unexplainable things that always happened around Harry, did it have something to do with the Velvet Room? Then again, the teacher's wig turned blue of all colours. Maybe it was! Maybe it was Igor, or Michelle, or someone else from the room who did all those things. Just like how Michelle somehow gave him a real-life, tangible key from inside a dream.
As if his thought had summoning powers, the sound of rattling keys and the tumbling of the front door lock echoed in the hallway outside the cupboard. Aunt Petunia was back. Harry quickly hid the Velvet Room key under his pillow in case his Aunt decided to open the cupboard and put Harry to work. In the end, however, Aunt Petunia barely paid Harry any mind, as she made herself tea and went to the lounge room to watch her daytime television.
Once it seemed like Aunt Petunia had fully engrossed herself in whatever talk show was airing, Harry let out a sigh. Thankfully, it looked like he still had the opportunity to get his thoughts in order.
So, Harry summarised, there's a weird 'Velvet Room' that has some sort of extra-dimensional power over the real world. The people from there might have been involved in all the weird stuff that happened in his life, like the wig and the snake. His thoughts then turned to what actually happened in his 'dream' of the room. Igor, Michelle, and the musicians introduced themselves, they welcomed him as a guest as apparently, they were expecting Harry to be there. All because of a contract written in parchment. That led to the question; what did the contract mean?
From what Harry could tell, someone had apparently signed their life away just so that he could live. Who on earth would be willing to do that for poor, friendless, freaky, Harry Potter of all people? A kid who lived in a cupboard under the stairs, a child powerless under the wrath of the Dursleys, the most unlikeable people Harry could imagine. No one ever cared about him. Not his peers, not his teachers, and certainly not his family.
Or, at least, none of his alive family. The Dursleys said that Harry's mum and dad were drunken layabouts who got themselves killed in a car crash. But was there more to it than that? Did one of his parents sign Igor's contract? All Harry could remember about his parents was something about a green flash of light. So really, who knew what happened that night. Maybe his mum or dad signed the contract to save his life from the crash? That would make sense. But then, which one of them signed it? Was it Harry's mum, or his dad? Perhaps he may never know.
Harry decided what he had to do next. Somehow, he had to find out more about the Velvet Room. Maybe he could learn more about his parents. Maybe he could get a proper explanation to why all these strange and unnatural things happened around him. Maybe, just maybe, he could get away from his fate of having to live with the Dursleys. The contract apparently said that Harry could 'forge his destiny,' so it may even be possible. It was wishful thinking, yes, but stranger things have certainly happened.
Harry pulled the key back out from under his pillow. It seemed to wink at him as it turned slightly in his hand. Why did Michelle give me a key? He thought. What could it do? Normal keys are used to unlock and lock things. Did that mean that the key was a way of opening a door to the Velvet Room? Had Michelle given him a way to get back to that room with the blue curtains and operatic music? How could he go back? How could he go anywhere at all? He couldn't leave his cupboard since the lock was on the outside. He was stuck here no matter what he did.
'Between dream and reality.'
Harry's eyes widened. Of course! He may not have been able to go anywhere in the real world. But the world of dreams? He was as free as anyone. He could go anywhere in a dream. Hadn't he visited the room when he was dreaming in the first place?
Harry readjusted himself in the cupboard to lie on his side, key clasped firmly in his fist. If he weren't going to be let out of the cupboard, he could go to sleep instead. Even if it didn't work and Harry dreamed about something else, like the flying motorcycle from the night before last, it was still an effective way to pass the time.
And so, Harry readjusted himself to lie on his side. He put away his glasses, closed his eyes, forced his body to keep still, and patiently waited for sleep to take him away. Somehow, despite already being fully rested and being a ten-year-old child full of energy, Harry managed to fall asleep.
By all means, please roast me for my non-ability to make any of this chapter more active.