CHAPTER 2

OWL POSTS! WHAT THE 'BEEP'?

Disclaimer – Harry Potter belongs solely to J.K. Rowling and I am unfortunately not earning anything from it.

16th July, 2004

It was a bright Sunday morning in Privet Drive. School sessions had ended therefore children could be seen in the playing ground and simply enjoying their summer vacations. Even the elders looked pretty relaxed. People could be seen jogging, doing yoga, reading newspapers or simply enjoying the fresh air. At the same time in the Dursley household Harry Potter was waking up from a very unusual dream. In the dream he was with a very huge person on a motorcycle and the most interesting thing was that he was flying.

"Well, I guess that is why it was a dream…." murmured Harry.

"UP, WAKE UP …..NOW" Harry heard his aunt's shrill voice.

"I'M UP" he replied loudly.

He collected his bathroom accessories and went through his morning routine in the next fifteen minutes. He climbed down to find his aunt having tea.

"I want you to make bacon and don't you dare let it burn boy. And move fast. I want the breakfast on the table before Vernon comes down." said Aunt Petunia as soon as she noticed him.

"Yes Aunt Petunia" replied Harry.

He quickly finished making breakfast. It was actually his favourite chore of the day. He didn't have to worry about burning bacon because he was a really good cook and nine years of practice had only made him better. He heard his uncle coming out of shower and hurriedly set up the table.

"Where is my newspaper boy?" he asked in a gruff manner which Harry was very used to.

Harry picked the newspaper from the stand having fetched it already gave it to his uncle and went back to cleaning the kitchen. Finally Dudley came down and attacked the breakfast with a passion. Harry didn't think he would find someone with such horrendous table manners. Just then he heard the click of the mailbox.

"What are you waiting for boy? Go and pick up the mail" said uncle Vernon.

Harry obediently went to get the post. Three things lay on the doormat: a postcard for Uncle Vernon from his sister Aunt Marge, who was holidaying on the Isle of Wight, a brown envelope that looked like a bill and-a letter for Harry.

Harry quickly picked it up and found his address (actually not just an address but an exact location). It was addressed so simply that there could never be a mistake. It read:

Mr Harry Potter

The Attic

4 Privet Drive

Little Whinging

Surrey

The envelope was thick and heavy, made of yellowish parchment, and the address was written in emerald-green ink. There was no stamp. Turning the envelope over, Harry saw a purple wax seal bearing a coat of arms; a lion, a badger, an eagle and a snake surrounding a large letter 'H'.

"Hurry up, boy" shouted of Uncle Vernon. ''What are you doing, checking for letter-bombs?" He asked jokingly.

Harry quickly hid the letter in his trouser pocket. He wanted to read his mail while he was alone and this was not a good time. Harry went back to the kitchen and quickly handed over the postcard and bill to Uncle Vernon. Uncle Vernon flipped over the bill snorting in disgust and flipped over the postcard.

"Marge's ill," Uncle Vernon announced."Ate something which didn't agree with her stomach."

After that nothing exciting happened at breakfast. Harry finished his morning chores as quickly as possible. He couldn't wait to read the letter. But it seemed like fate was against him as Aunt Petunia decided that today he had to clean the garage. Harry felt really impatient but knew that refusal was not an option. Finally after two hours of hard work he was able to clean the garage. He rushed to his room and sat on the bed. He hurriedly took out the letter and opened it. It read:

HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY

Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore

(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc. Chf. Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)

Dear Mr Potter,

We are pleased to inform you that you have a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.

Term begins on 1 September. We await your owl by no later than 31 July.

Yours sincerely,

Minerva McGonagall

Deputy Headmistress

It also had an attachment to it which went like this:

HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY

Uniform

First-year students will require:

Three sets of plain work robes (black)

One plain pointed hat (black) for day wear

One pair of protective gloves (dragon hide or similar)

One winter cloak (black, silver fastenings)

Please note that all pupils' clothes should carry name tags

Set Books

All students should have a copy of each of the following:

The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 1) by Miranda Goshawk

A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot

Magical Theory by Adalbert Waffling

A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration by Emeric Switch

One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi by Phyllida Spore

Magical Drafts and Potions by Arsenius Jigger

Fantastic beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander

The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection by Quentin Trimble

Other Equipment

1 wand

1 cauldron (pewter, standard size 2)

1 set glass or crystal phials

1 telescope

1 set brass scales

Students may also bring an owl OR a cat OR a toad

PARENTS ARE REMINDED THAT FIRST-YEARS ARE NOT ALLOWED THEIR OWN BROOMSTICKS

He stared at the letter for a long time and suddenly burst out laughing.

"What a great joke, I didn't know Dudley possessed that much brain to create this hoax. He must have had some help from others because this is just too much for his tiny brain cells. And did he actually think that I would fall for it? I guess even I underestimated his level of stupidity."

Harry decided that he won't even react a single bit to it. For the rest of the day he went on with his normal routine. He finished all his chores and went for the evening run as per his schedule. He felt a bit surprised when he didn't receive any sort of taunt or hint from Dudley regarding the letter but assumed that he must have given up too.

The next day he woke up at his usual weekday time, finished his morning rituals, got ready and made his way for Dojo. Dojo was closed only on weekends. Once he returned, he took a quick shower and started making breakfast. It was a regular morning, but what surprised him very much was that he received one more letter. He was a bit perturbed but once again decided to ignore it. He got similar letters for the next three days with their quantity multiplying. It was even becoming difficult to hide them from the Dursleys.

Finally after a week of consistent arrival of letters he sat down on the bed. Now he had come to realize that this was something that was too much even for Dudley. Then he remembered all those incidents that happened with him. Could it be possible that it was all due to 'magic'? But why did anyone not tell him? Of course how could he be that stupid? Dursleys despised anything remotely unnatural. They would never tell him about it willingly. He decided that he would ask about it from his aunt this afternoon when they would be alone.

Finally after Dudley had finished his lunch (more like food for at least four people) and went to his friends' place, there was only Harry and Aunt Petunia left in the house. After they both completed their meals, Harry decided that this would be the ideal time to ask her about it.

"Umm….Aunt Petunia?" he asked tentatively.

"What is it?" she asked while facing him.

He started to explain not knowing how to proceed "Well, you see there was something that I wanted to tell you for a few days but didn't know how…"

"Just come out with it boy. I don't have all the day to waste on you" she interrupted harshly.

"I received a letter from some school named Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry and don't know what to make of it. Initially I thought that Dudley was playing a prank on me but…." He stopped speaking as he saw his aunt turning paler and paler.

"So it is true then. I have magic. That is why Uncle Vernon hates me so much. Isn't it?" said Harry with dawning comprehension.

"My parents! They had magic too didn't they? That is why you don't talk about them. Am I right?" he said as everything clicked in place.

Aunt Petunia had actually started shaking. "Aunt Petunia? Are you alright?" Harry asked, a bit worried.

"I don't know what you are talking about." She said unconvincingly.

"Both of us know you are lying, Aunt Petunia" Harry said with conviction.

For a few minutes nobody spoke. Then suddenly Aunt Petunia started speaking in a monotone "I and Lily had always been what you call as close sisters. Even if I was a year older than her we did everything together. No one could ever break us apart. For the first fourteen years we never had any serious fights and our parents loved both of us equally. Even if she was more lively, beautiful and intelligent than me, I never felt jealous. In fact I felt proud of her. So there was never any animosity between us. But when I was nine year old and we were playing in a park, a boy named Sev found us and told Lily that she was a witch. He had once seen her performing some magic. Initially we were a bit sceptical but after a few demonstrations we accepted it. From then on Lily started spending more time with him asking about that world. He became her best friend and I was just her sister."

"Then came her fourteenth birthday. That day we received a visitor. She was a professor at Hogwarts School of magic. My parents didn't believe her at first but after a few examples they agreed to send her to Hogwarts. She then told us that Lily was a witch and Hogwarts was offering her a place to learn. We all were really excited but then Lily asked why I didn't receive a letter? I hadn't even thought about it. Professor told me that I didn't have magic in me. I was devastated. I even sent a letter to the headmaster but he refused."

"From then on year after year we drifted apart. She used to send frequent letters via owls telling about that world and her experiences but all it did was make me feel miserable. Both of us tried but could never achieve that closeness. She made new and closer friends at Hogwarts but I was never able to. There she met a boy named James Potter whom she fell in love with and right after graduating from school they married. I too married Vernon here and since then our contact was minimal at best because Vernon just hated the concept of anything unnatural."

"At that time, the wizarding world was going through a war against a dark wizard. One night just after my marriage, James' parents invited my parents to their home for dinner. That same night the dark wizards attacked them and both sets of your grandparents died. At their funeral I had a huge fight with Lily and blamed her for their death. After that we never had a chat. She tried a lot of times by sending letters but I never replied. Then she wrote that she was going into hiding and won't be able to stay in touch for a while."

"That was the last letter I received from her because a few days later I found you on my doorstep with a letter informing that your parents had died and you had survived because your mother gave her life to save you. Also somehow that dark wizard had died too and the war had come to an end. As I was your last blood relative you were sent here to live with me." She finished her explanation with a sigh.

All through her explanation both of them had smiled and cried together. They were experiencing a myriad of emotions. Harry was totally shocked. Never in his wildest dream had he been able to imagine all this. I am a wizard. That was the foremost thought running through his mind. But then suddenly a lot of questions started going through his mind but he couldn't ask them as he was not allowed to ask questions. It must have shown on his face as Aunt Petunia said

"You may ask whatever you want to because I think the least I can give you is answers."

The first question that came out of Harry's mouth was "Why do you hate me?"

Aunt Petunia was a bit shocked by his bluntness and took some time to get settled. Then she replied "I have never hated you. I just don't want to attach myself to you because I know one day or another you have to go to your real world and I don't think I would be able to absorb another heart-break."

Harry was a bit surprised by the answer but he felt a bit relieved that she didn't hate him. There was one more question that was burning in his mind,

"Why did you not tell me anything about magic and lied to me about my parents?"

She took some time and then spoke "Why would I tell you anything about magic? I hate magic with everything in my heart. It took away from me my best friend, sister and parents. It tore apart my whole family. So I thought I would try to ignore it as much as possible. And as for the truth about your parents, what should I have told you? That your parents were murdered by a psychopath bent on world domination?" she ended sarcastically.

Harry was a bit surprised by her tone but understood that she must be going through an emotional rollercoaster. He then cautiously asked,

"So what should I do now that I have received a letter?"

"Well, you will find an owl outside the house because that is how they communicate. Just tie your acceptance letter at her talons and they will take it to that school of yours." she replied.

"What, they use owls to send messages? And how do you know that I am going to accept it?" asked Harry a little dubiously.

"Yes, the wizards still use owls. In fact you will find that they still live as we lived in the eighteenth century. As for how I know of your decision, you have more of your mother in you then you could even imagine." she said with moist eyes.

Harry was a bit shocked and most definitely pleased with comparison to his mother. Both of them suddenly came to realize that they were so much into the conversation that they didn't notice how much time had passed. Uncle Vernon was due to home in just an hour and they hadn't even started on dinner.

Harry got up and went to his aunt and hugged her a bit tentatively but when he felt her returning it, he gave a quick squeeze. Then he parted and looked into her moist eyes and said,

"Thanks for talking to me today. You don't know how much it means to me."

His aunt sniffed a little and said,

"I have never felt this much relaxed since Lily died. I guess I needed to take that burden off me. So thank you too."

Harry was a bit shocked once again but just nodded a little and went off for his evening run. Throughout his run he thought about the conversation and decided that he was going to send the acceptance letter as soon as he could.

That night Harry wrote his acceptance letter to the deputy headmistress and tied it to the owl which was sitting on his window. The next few days went without a hitch. Harry and his aunt had decided not to tell his uncle about it right now. Harry also noticed that his relationship with his aunt had improved quite a bit and she never snapped at him like she used to earlier. So for once things were looking up for him and he felt he had something to look forward to for the first time in his life.