Harry ran as fast as his small legs could carry him. Dudley and his friends were playing 'tag' again. Except he was always the one being tagged and they had decided early on that if the tagging didn't leave a mark then it wasn't valid. They always competed for the number of points they could make, seeing who could tag him the most. So he ran and hoped that he was lucky enough to lose them in the admittedly straight forward maze of suburbia; he supposed it was a good thing his cousin was so dumb, else he and his friends might have figured out how the grid pattern of houses worked.
Before this summer his cousin Dudley had never bothered to expend energy to go after his cousin, and probably never would have if it hadn't been for his uncle Vernon. His cousin and gang had decided to play the first game of tag just a few days after the end of his first year of kindergarten, in which Dudley had found his loyal cohorts. The game had started out innocently enough until Dudley, being so fat and slow, had been tagged and been unable to tag anyone else; unfortunately for Harry his cousin had spotted him, sitting outside of number Four weeding the garden and had seen an easy target. Dudley had proceeded to tag Harry by shoving his face into the flower bed, a rather unpleasant indoctrination into the game. It probably would have ended there too if it hadn't been for his uncle, having witnessed the act, encouraging Dudley; "That's right Dudders. You show that Freak his place." Then later had discovered that showing his father just how he had 'showed that Freak' would get him rewards of cash and sweets.
Piers Polkiss, perhaps the most intelligent of Dudley's friends and the only one that knew Harry's name, had dubbed their games of 'Tag' as 'Harry Hunting,' and Harry desperately hoped that this game of theirs wouldn't be fun enough to them for the name to stick. It didn't seem Harry was going to get his wish.
Harry was jarred from his thoughts by a pair of immovable posts that materialized before him in the form of a pair of legs. Picking himself up from where he had fallen Harry looked fearfully at the imposing man in front of him, "I- I'm terribly sorry, sir. I didn't see you there. I mean I wasn't looking. I'm sorry." Throwing a look over his shoulder Harry saw Dudley standing at the corner of the street a little ways away, panting and waiting to see whether the adult would leave so the chase could start up again.
"That is quite all right, young sir. I wasn't watching where I was going either, but perhaps this is fortuitous because I am unfamiliar with this neighborhood and I'm afraid I have lost my way. Would you, young sir, be so kind as to lead me back to my cousin's house on Wisteria Walk?"
Harry blinked up at the man not sure he understood for a moment before throwing another fearful look at Dudley and his gang. "O-of course, sir." Looking to the nearest street sign Harry squinted to make out the blurry letters; it took a moment but soon enough he had made out the words on the sign and that with his familiarity from spending the past week fleeing from Dudley allowed him to confidently lead the man away from Dudley's gang and towards Wisteria Walk. "It's, um, this way, sir." Harry stopped himself from reaching up to take the man's hand to lead him; remembering at the last moment that adults hate when Freaks touch them.
When they had walked a few blocks and Dudley's gang had given up and stopped following the man finally spoke again, having ignored Harry's frequent fearful looks. "Tell me, young man, what is your name?"
"Um, Harry, sir. My name is Harry."
"Ah Harry, and how old are you Harry?"
"I'm three and three-quarters, sir."
"Three and three-quarters you say. Hmm, just my luck, I happen to be looking for a Harry that is three and three quarters years old, and you just might be the right one." The man smiled benignly down at the nervous boy. "Do you think you're the right Harry?"
Shaking his head vehemently Harry said quickly, "I'm sorry, sir, but I couldn't be, I'm just-" Harry stopped himself from saying a Freak, he was hoping if he didn't say it then the man might not notice. "I'm just me, Harry."
"Oh? Pity. Well then, just Harry, do you think you could tell me where I might find a three and three-quarters year old Harry Potter?"
Harry's eyes widened comically and he stumbled to a stop, staring up at the strange man. "Sir? My name is Harry Potter, and, um, I don't know of any others. Least not around here I don't."
The stranger smiled brightly, "Really! Then you must be the Harry I'm looking for. This is most excellent." He declared in a cheery voice.
"I am, sir? Why are you looking for me?" Harry asked, curiosity overriding his sense and making him forget Freaks aren't supposed to ask questions.
"Well you, Harry Potter, are a very special boy, you are different than any other boy, and I am here to offer you an opportunity to go to a place just for you." The man said happily. Harry looked down at his feet, his eyes stinging and a painful lump rising in his throat. The man clearly knew he was a Freak and couldn't be left around normal people, he was just too polite to say it outright. Harry knew that the man was here to take him away where he couldn't contaminate normal people. "So, Harry, would you like to come with me to a place where you can reach your full potential?" Harry's shoulders slumped in defeat and he nodded despondently without looking up, knowing he would see the same triumphant gleam in his eyes that his aunt always had when she was about to tell him how pathetic he was.
A/N If you have somehow not picked up on the fact, this chapter is a flashback that was unlocked from the previous chapter. My question to you as readers would you prefer it if I continued to have occasional flashbacks (either inserted into future chapters or heading those chapters) that explain the circumstances or would you rather I slipped that information directly into the text of the chapter? I personally am leaning towards having a flashback heading most chapters that may or may not highlight some feature of magic or the source of some other situation that the reader ought to know of for the story to make sense.
Also anyone who either sees a mistake that I should correct in this or wouldn't mind beta-ing this is most welcome to it.