Secret Loves Year 1 – Chapter 1 – Unintended Consequences

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There is a scene marked by a double set of -oOoOoOoOoOo-. If you have any aversion to reading scenes of graphic violence or rape, you are warned to bypass this section. Please do not read this section if you are sensitive to such things.
Special thanks to texan-muggle for final edits and proofing. Thanks to Claire and Alexia for their assistance with reading through all the parts I would let them.
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It takes all kinds of people, or so the saying goes, to make the world go around. There are people who want to be nice to others, to spread happiness throughout the world in which they live. We generally classify these people as "good" people. There are people who seldom seem pleased with their lot in life and are frequently grumbling about the inequities and fairness of life. We generally classify these people as "neighbours". There are people who want to control others and hold dominion over others and relish in this power. We generally classify these people as "employees of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs Service". Finally, there are people whose lives are only made whole by causing others misery and suffering, tormenting these poor souls until they beg for death. These people hold absolute control over others while maiming, torturing, mutilating and murdering them. We don't even really think of this sort as people any longer. We call them "evil" and pray they do not exist. Our prayers, however, have gone unanswered.

For this is the tale of a good boy and an evil which stalks the earth. In this world is an as-yet unexplained power both the boy and the evil possess. For purposes of simplicity, we shall refer to this power as "magic", which is how those who have this power refer to it themselves, never having studied the precise nature of this power; or if they had studied it in the past, they failed to write it down on any material which still exists today.

Our story opens some not-too-terribly-distant date in the past. It is October Thirty-First in the year One Thousand, Nine-Hundred, Eighty-One, Halloween, in a small village known as Godric's Hollow, where the evil had come to destroy the good boy. The evil calls itself "Lord Voldemort" and the good boy is but fifteen months old and understands he has several different names, ranging from "My Little Har Har" to "Momma's Little Helper", but in fact his name is Harry James Potter and he has just struck Lord Voldemort a blow, or at least people believe this is what happened, which will put the side of evil back a decade.

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Number Four Privet Drive was a well-kept house with an immaculate lawn and a slightly disturbing secret.

The house was home to the Dursley family, consisting of the father, Vernon Nathaniel Dursley, twenty-seven years old, the mother, Petunia Catherine Dursley (née Evans) twenty-five years old, and their son, Dudley Robert Dursley, 16 months old. The family was a normal, upper-middle class, well-respected family. Vernon and Petunia doted on their newborn son in the knowledge that it was simply not possible to spoil an infant. Vernon was an imposing, well-muscled figure, a loving husband and a proud father. Petunia was a beautiful woman with a well-shaped, attractive figure, a devoted wife and a doting mother.

All of that changed the first of November 1981, when they found a blanket-wrapped bundle on their front porch.

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Albus Dumbledore had been concerned about James and Lily Potter's refusal to name Vernon and Petunia in their will as possible parents for their child in the event of their demise, which had occurred only hours earlier. Because of that concern, Albus had spent the last nine hours placing wards around the house and property, tying their son, Harry, to the house, and most specifically to Petunia Dursley, Harry's aunt by blood. The wards were based on that blood and Lily's sacrifice of her life to save Harry.

Hagrid, his half-giant keeper for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, had brought the infant moments ago. Upon inspection, Albus noted young Harry had a lightning-bolt shaped curse scar on his forehead which positively reeked of dark magic. Albus had only passing familiarity with the magic he suspected was behind the scar and knew of no way, short of killing the child, to remove it.

There, too, was Minerva McGonagall, his deputy headmistress. She had been watching the Dursley residence for several hours and had commented they were the "…worst sort of muggles…" but she had not clarified that in any way, other than her disapproving glare whenever she looked at the house.

With all of these factors in play, Albus did what he felt he needed to do to insure Harry's safety. Albus cast several compulsion charms on the letter he placed on the blanket and then cast several more on the blanket surrounding the child. These, combined with the blood wards placed on the home, Harry, and Harry's aunt, he thought, should keep the boy safe. Unfortunately, he had failed to remember some of the details in the centuries-old tome on blood wards concerning the combination of them with 'ordinary' magic. Forgotten by Albus, the interactions would have a far-reaching effect on the boy, his family and the wizarding world.

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Vernon stepped out on the porch and looked out at the unusually bright and beautiful November morning. The air was crisp and the day had all the promise of staying brilliant and enjoyable. He turned to take his briefcase from Petunia, kissed her a little more affectionately than their neighbours might think appropriate and turned to walk to the car. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a brown, blue and white object on the porch. He stopped and his brief look turned into a stare. There, upon the porch, in a wicker basket, lay an infant wrapped in a blue blanket wearing a white knitted cap. Attached to the blanket was a note. Petunia, too, stared at the baby for a moment before squatting down and touching the infant's face, her hand brushing aside the blanket. She neither felt nor saw the spark of magic leave the blanket and wash over her body. She picked the bundled infant up and stood. Vernon took hold of the note and unfolded the heavy parchment. He, too, did not feel or see the spark of magic leave the paper and enter his body. The note read

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley,

A tragedy has struck your family. Lily Potter, Petunia's sister, and her husband, James, were murdered in their home last evening. While their murderer has paid for his crimes with his life, Lily's son has paid the price of losing his parents.

I place their child in your hands as his only living relatives and ask that you keep him safe in your home until he is of age. I shall not interfere in your raising Harry as your own son, in a loving, caring environment.

Albus Dumbledore

The magic was fulfilling its purpose, for now, in Vernon and Petunia and, while neither had been close to James and Lily, the tragedy which befell their child was horrific. Vernon was especially keen on insuring the boy was taken care of and looked after. He considered the fact that Petunia had just lost her parents in a car accident not two months prior and now her sister had been murdered. The boy in her arms was only a month younger than their own son. The two would be raised as brothers, if Vernon had anything to say about it.

The two of them walked back into the house, Vernon picking up the basket, and Petunia brought Harry in and sat on the chesterfield. Vernon went into the kitchen and got one of Dudley's bottles for Harry, picked Dudley up from the bassinet in the kitchen and a second bottle for him and walked back out to the sitting room and sat next to Petunia with Dudley in his arms.

Both Vernon and Petunia would be surprised to learn how closely their trains of thought were travelling together. They both felt an overriding need to keep Harry safe and they wondered how they would do it.

An hour later, Vernon and Petunia were still sitting on the chesterfield. Dudley was asleep in Vernon's arms while Harry slept fitfully in Petunia's arms. She began shaking and Vernon looked over to see silent tears running down her face.

He disentangled one of his arms carefully so as to not jostle Dudley. Once he had a free arm, he wrapped it around Petunia's shoulders. "My dear, I know my words seem hollow and shallow, but I truly am sorry for the passing of Lily and James. I am sure they were wonderful people. Anyone related to you had to have been wonderful," he said, feeling awkward but trying his best to comfort the woman who had gifted him with first her companionship, devotion, and then with a son of his own. One day he hoped to love her as much as she seemed to love him. He was surprised at her response.

Because of the blood wards being tied to Harry through Petunia, the effects of the wards were more rapidly warping Petunia's perspective of the entire situation. Petunia looked at Vernon and, between her tears, managed a comprehensible response. "How are we going to keep him safe? There are terrorists trying to kill a boy who is all but my son in my heart. We cannot even get him medical care unless it is the direst of emergencies. We can't even have Helen over to take care of Dudley." Vernon and Petunia had hired a full-time nanny, Helen Bedwell, to take care of Dudley. Vernon worked at Grunnings Drill Works as a Director of European Sales. Petunia worked at The National Gallery in London as the Director of Public Affairs and Development. Both were quite successful and well-liked at their jobs. Vernon and Petunia had met at a Grunnings'-sponsored exhibition and had hit it off immediately. Petunia had taken a brief leave of absence when Dudley had been born and they had hired Helen before that to help out around the house and to ensure she was a good fit in their lives.

Vernon was surprised, and not in a good way. They thought of Helen as being nearly one of the family. They certainly trusted her with Dudley. Here, too, the blood wards were merely seeping into Vernon's subconscious, but at the moment, they were magical in nature and Vernon, being a muggle, had no defences against the toe-hold they had over his behaviour. The thought of Helen seeing Harry, or even knowing about him, was unthinkable. "I will call her tonight and let her know it just isn't working out and that we will continue to pay her per our contract, but we no longer require her services," Vernon said, his arm still around Petunia's shoulders in an attempt to provide his wife with some comfort.

Although Petunia was still crying, she'd managed to somewhat compose herself. "To ensure Harry is safe, I need to stay here. I will contact Director Levey today to let him know I will not be returning tomorrow and resigning my post due to a death in the family. He is sure to ask questions, but I would rather lie to him than risk something happening to Harry."

Vernon became more shocked as Petunia spoke. He knew she positively loved her career. It had been one of the defining aspects of her life and she had worked for twelve years to attain the position of trust and responsibility she had. The magic, however, was crushing his shock with the induced need to protect his nephew at all costs.

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Over the next several hours, decisions were made, actions carried out and plans executed. Vernon and Petunia made telephone calls, altered their previously well-planned future. These changes would have far-reaching consequences. They neither knew nor cared. All that mattered was that Harry must be kept safe.

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Helen Bedwell plead tearfully to Vernon, whom she looked up to as a kind of adopted uncle. Although it was her job, she had fallen in love with them and thought of herself as being a member of the Dursley family. It had been Vernon and Petunia had helped pull her through the loss of her own parents and younger brother, who had perished on Saudia Flight One Six Three in August of the previous year. Although Petunia was on leave from her position, ostensibly to take care of herself and Dudley, much of her time was spent providing stability and support for Helen. For Vernon to cut off ties for no apparent reason destroyed her emotionally. Over the next days and weeks, she would agonise over her actions of the past few weeks, never being able to pinpoint precisely what is was she had done to have so irreconcilably destroyed Vernon's and Petunia's trust in her. It would be two months to the day that she received the telephone call from Vernon letting her know her services were no longer needed that she would step off Platform Nine at King's Cross Station directly into the path of a morning express commuter train, ending her life and her pain.

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Michael Levey knew deeply something was wrong with Petunia Dursley. He had known her since she had started with The National Gallery and knew her to be patient, thoughtful and practical. For her to call and simply tender her resignation with no notice, only explaining it away as a death in the family, was not only unusual but completely out of character. So out of character, in fact, that he chose to go to speak with her personally. When he had arrived at Petunia's home, she had met him at the door and acted at first contrite and then, when he pressed her for details, became openly hostile and abusive. He left, expressing his regret for receiving her resignation. He was concerned she was mentally unbalanced in the short-term due to a combination of losing her parents recently combined with whatever family member or members she had just lost. It would take him some time to replace her, so he held off for two months, putting the Assistant Director in as acting Director in the event Petunia came back. Although he personally called her every week for the next eight weeks, the only time he managed to speak with her, she had been openly hostile about his prying into her personal life and she reiterated she had already resigned the position. When he received final approval from the Board of Governors, the Assistant Director was happily surprised she would be promoted, with high regard, to the position of Director. Michael never did hear from Petunia again.

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Over the next several months, as the blood wards stabilised, the interactions between the compulsion charms and the wards twisted and transformed the Dursley's behaviour from extreme, isolating concern over Harry's safety to a rage-filled, entrapped paranoia. They moved his bassinet from beside Dudley's in the master bedroom to the guest bedroom and then took him out of the bassinet and put him atop a pile of old towels in a broken chest of drawers in the cupboard beneath the stairs. They had to get rid of the bassinet, claiming to their neighbours they felt Dudley had outgrown it. To achieve success with this falsehood, Petunia began giving Dudley his normal portion of food and half of Harry's portion of food, rationalising this would help support the claim Dudley outgrew his furniture and preventing, in her now-skewed world view that Harry had somehow caused her to be trapped in the house. That he was the reason she had to abandon her career.

In point of fact, Vernon and Petunia now blamed every problem they experienced on Harry. Whether it was burning the bacon at breakfast due to inattention on Petunia's fault or Vernon losing a sale to a competitor, in their minds it was all Harry's fault. It did not matter that Harry, who was now two and a half years old, could neither cook breakfast nor hold sway over purchasing agents for multi-national conglomerates, his very presence in their lives had somehow caused the problem. If anyone had all of the facts, knew the magics involved, what the interactions of those magics were doing, they would know, without a doubt, that Petunia and Vernon were essentially correct. Harry's presence, the fact he was powering the wards around the house with his magical field, was causing their behaviour to morph, which made Petunia bitter and hateful and caused Vernon's baser emotions to be infrequently exhibited in front of his customers, causing them to look for business elsewhere.

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The final changes in the degradation of Vernon's and Petunia's behaviour completed just two days after Harry's fourth birthday. While Vernon's behaviour had continued to deteriorate, Petunia, who was bound by blood to Harry, came nearer to the behaviour Albus had desired for the two Dursley adults. She became, in fact, secretively protective over Harry, sneaking him food when she could, which was rare since Dudley was constantly at home. Dudley had become as abusive, if not worse, than Vernon. Dudley habitually hit, smacked, slapped, socked and punched Harry, frequently encouraged by Vernon. During one of these incidents, one of Harry's defensive moves had managed to strike Dudley in the eye, blackening it for a week. Vernon had immediately grabbed the boy roughly by his arm, dislocating his shoulder, and tossed him roughly into the darkness of the cupboard beneath the stairs. Vernon twisted the lock viciously, screaming obscenities at the boy, who was now crying quietly due to the pain and lack of understanding as to the reasons these people hated him so.

The next day, when Vernon had left the house, ostensibly for a weekend business trip but in fact to engage in a blackmail-backed tryst with his much younger secretary, Petunia had sent Dudley off with his aunt so she could be alone with Harry. She opened the cupboard, turned on the light and looked at the sorry mess that was her nephew by blood. She gently picked him up and gingerly set him on a brown towel draped over one of the kitchen chairs. She gave him a valium, a half-glass of milk and some cheese and waited for the valium to take effect. The undersized little urchin's eyes began to droop, followed by his head. He nearly spilt the glass of milk, but Petunia took the cup away from him. Once his breathing quieted to that of sleep, she examined the out-of-socket joint. Although the muscles had pulled the joint immobile, those muscles were hardly a match for her strength. She stretched the arm out and rammed the joint back to true. The boy screamed. His eyes shooting wide open as he looked directly into her eyes before quickly crying himself to sleep. She picked him up and held him, carefully watching the clock to ensure she would have plenty of time to put him back into the cupboard before Dudley came home. She had locked the front door to prevent Dudley or Marge from simply walking in, but she didn't want to be rushed. She kissed the boy on his forehead, cried a few contrite tears for the boy as well as for what she knew she would suffer for her kindness. She then stood and carried the boy back to the cupboard, settling him beneath the threadbare sheets which provided him his only warmth. She locked the cupboard once more, went to the kitchen, took the towel, went back to the cupboard, and wiped the lock clean of any residue she might have deposited. She then washed the towel twice with all of her washable dark clothing to insure any blood or other fluids would be rinsed away or hidden in the very fabric. She then unlocked the door and went upstairs to wash her face in cold water, hiding the effects of the earlier tears.

When Dudley arrived home, he was none the wiser. He watched television, ate dinner, stomped up and down the stairs twice then went to bed himself, Petunia reading his favourite bedtime story to him.

She closed his bedroom door and managed to get down to the kitchen before vomiting her dinner into the sink. Her guilt and her fear were overwhelming her. Her guilt for allowing Vernon to become the monster he was and allowing him to take it out on her beloved nephew. Her fear of living through whatever Vernon was going to do to her for having helped the boy.

She didn't have long to wait.

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Whenever Vernon came home from his weekend trips, he was invariably both randy and angry. This time was no different. He opened the door, told Dudley to stay downstairs and watch the telly. He then opened the cupboard and his face purpled at what he saw. The boy. Sitting upright. Completely healed. He knew the boy was unnatural in how quickly he healed. A "freak of nature" is how he referred to the boy. This was soon shortened to simply "freak". He slammed the door to the cupboard and locked it, threatening later pain to come and roughly grabbed Petunia and practically dragged her upstairs. While he had been sexually dominant in the past, this time would be different, she knew. He threw her, literally, down onto the bed and viciously tore her clothes off, tying her to the posts with the shredded remains of her dress. Then he began screaming at her, removing his belt and beating her around the bottoms of her breasts, her stomach and upper thighs with the belt, raising bloody welts. He had worked himself up and he rammed his engorged member deeply within her, causing a scream of pain to rip out of her throat. She felt like she was being ripped open. He continued to painfully pound into her. He then looked down at her, madness in his eyes as he fully removed himself and then slowly but firmly entered her anus, watching the pain breech her walls, eliciting another scream. He pounded into her repeatedly until he spent himself. He rolled off of her, left the bed and entered the shower, washing her from him while leaving her to lie in his seed, leaking from her now-bloody body.

She heard him singing as the shower bathed him in warm water and she knew that if, in that moment, she were free from her bonds, she would kill him while he washed. She would take his nine iron and swing it viciously. Repeatedly. Until his head was nothing but pulp. The sounds of the shower stopped. He walked back into the room whistling a tuneless tune, a towel wrapped around his waist.

"Now Petunia, you really should know better than to work against me when it comes to that little freak of nature," he said almost jovially. In his hand was a straight razor he used to shave. Any scream she had died in her throat as the fear paralysed her. Is this it? Is this when I am to die? she thought. But it was not to be. He used the razor to cut through the remains of her dress and to release her from her bindings. He carefully closed the razor and returned it to the pocket of his slacks. He helped her to a sitting position, indifferent to her wincing in pain. "All better now, Petunia. All better now. Will you remember this lesson?" he asked, a maddened quizzical smile on his face, his right eyebrow slightly raised.

She was about to respond when his face morphed, once again, to the angry, insanely angry version of Vernon. He pulled his hand back and slapped her, hard, just to the side of her head next to her right eye, leaving a large reddened area the size of his hand on her cheek. He then pulled her upright from where she had fallen, drew had hand back, closed it into a fist and, from only a half-cocked position, punched her in the right eye. Over the next five minutes, it would swell shut.

He then stood and pulled Petunia up to a standing position. "Please don't force me to hurt you again, My Dear. I don't enjoy hurting you but you have to learn that the freak is not to be helped," he said and pushed her into the loo to shower in the tepid water left behind after his shower.

He left the bedroom. She heard the cupboard door open. She heard Vernon bellow at Harry. She then heard the sound of the door almost slam and the sharp crack of a bone breaking. She did not hear Harry's soft crying or the slamming of the cupboard door. All she heard was her own, pathetic sobbing about the unfairness of it all.

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Over the next seven years, Harry received physical and emotional abuse targeted primarily and beating the unnaturalness and freakishness out of him. It had not worked. If anything, it gave him hope. For no matter how badly his Uncle Vernon and his cousin Dudley beat him, he would be nearly fully-healed by the morning. It was the emotional abuse which hurt the most, however. All he knew of his parents were they were no-good layabouts who had gotten drunk and driven off a bridge just to get away from him. He knew his parents were probably in Hell and happy to be there and away from him as he had caused them nothing but pain, suffering and hardship. He knew, from the abuse he received at school, not only from Dudley and his friends, but from many of his teachers, that he was headed for prison or worse when he finished school. He did know, however, that his aunt played a dangerous, dangerous game. When he had entered primary school, she had 'accidentally' left the paperwork where he could easily find it. He already had sussed out how to read to some extent and discovered his birthday was the thirty-first of July 1980. He had also discovered his parents' names being Lily and James.

Today, he knew, was the twenty-sixth of July, 1991. In just five days he would be eleven years old. Although post normally came earlier, today it was late. When the bell on the slot rang, Harry popped up, as he had been programmed to, and went to fetch it to Vernon. He flipped through the envelopes from various companies to see if there was anything from which he could spin a good dream when he took note of a thick, heavy envelope delivered with the mail. It was addressed to

Mister Harry James Potter
Cupboard beneath the stairs
Number 4 Privet Drive
Little Whinging, Surrey GU22

He walked into the kitchen, somewhat stunned. He handed the stack of mail to Vernon and continued walking to the stove to check on the bacon. His shock suddenly compounded when Dudley ripped the heavy envelope from his hands, "Dad! Look! Harry's stolen one of your letters!"

Harry looked angrily at Dudley, "I didn't steal it! It is addressed to me! It is mine! Give it back!"

Dudley had already handed the letter to Vernon before grabbing Harry by the face and painfully shoving him backwards, causing him to trip and fall.

Vernon laughed cruelly, "Who would be writing to a freak of a boy like you?" he asked rhetorically, then looked down at the address on the envelope and froze. Vernon felt an iron gauntlet constrict around his throat, his heart and his scrotum. The only line of the address he saw in the unkind, blood-red letters so beautifully calligraphically written on the clearly-expensive parchment was "Cupboard beneath the stairs". They knew! But how? How could they know? What else do they know? Do they know everything? Vernon stood up, his face white. He turned and left the kitchen. Harry made to get up and follow him, but Vernon had waited for him to come through the swinging door and flung it hard into his face, breaking his nose, his glasses and knocking him unconscious. Vernon then pulled the door open and, with much effort, picked the boy up and tossed him into the cupboard beneath the stairs. He had to decide what to do and didn't want the boy interfering.

"Dudley!" he shouted.

Dudley came through the kitchen door carefully, to ensure his father wouldn't slam the door on him as well, "Yes Papa?" he asked timidly.

"Didn't you want to spend a few weeks with your friend. What's his name? Price?" Vernon asked.

"Yes, Papa. And his name is Piers," Dudley said.

"Go pack a bag then call your friend and see if you can stay a week or two. Two would be better," Vernon said, looking between the letter in his hands, the door to the cupboard and Dudley.

Dudley ran up the stairs to his room and began packing all of his clothes into one large suitcase. When he was done, he called Piers, who asked his mother, who gave permission for Dudley to spend two weeks with them starting today. An excited Dudley came downstairs, huffing and struggling with the suitcase he had packed. He explained he was allowed to stay for the next two weeks at Piers' parents' house.

Vernon and Dudley carried Dudley's suitcase out to the car and Vernon drove Dudley to Piers' house, spoke with Piers' mother, thanking her for allowing Dudley to stay with them for the next two weeks, and then drove home. On the drive, he formulated his plan for being rid of one Harry James Potter for good.

-oOoOo-

Harry awoke. The light coming through the slats of the door let him know his head was spinning from whatever it was that had struck him. He remembered. The kitchen door. Uncle Vernon. His letter. HIS LETTER! While Harry had been angry in the past, this time he was enraged. Someone knew not only that he lived at Number 4 Privet Drive, but that he lived in the cupboard beneath the stairs. This dark, dusty, uninhabitable, filthy, squalid CUPBOARD! He heard voices talking. The voices were tinged with anger. One of the voices was Uncle Vernon, trying to sound jovial. The other man's voice was rumbling with an undercurrent of anger.

Harry closed his eyes and looked within himself and felt the power behind his rage flare for a moment. His head no longer hurt and he could see clearly again, or as clear as one can see when their glasses are filthy. He cleaned his glasses using the inside surface of his shirt while he listened carefully to the conversation.

Uncle Vernon was speaking and he only heard the last half of the sentence, "...and I think once you see him you will understand the reasons we locked him away. It was to keep him safe from himself, you see."

"Dursley, I wouldn't believe you if you told me the sky was blue on a bright summer day. Cupboard under the stairs indeed," a gruff voice said loudly. Harry heard heavy footfalls towards the cupboard door. "And you 'ave 'im locked in the cupboard as well," the voice said. There was then a wood-breaking, shredding, tearing sound as the cupboard door was torn right out of the wall, frame and all. Harry cringed and fell back against the back wall of the cupboard. Filling the doorway was an enormous head and hand. The head was covered with a thick, full beard, blending into a wide moustache and a full head of brown/black hair. "Harry, come on out of there, Lad," the gruff-voiced man said almost soothingly. Harry felt compelled to leave the cupboard. Only a small portion of his mind wanted to cringe and make himself as small as possible and hide from this unknown threat. "Come on out, Harry. I don't want to have to demolish the entire house to get you," the voice said, a bit softer and more soothing.

Harry reached out and used both of his hands to grab one of this large man's hands. Harry then noticed two things out of place. The first was that Aunt Petunia was hiding behind Uncle Vernon, as if Uncle Vernon would protect her from anything. The second was that there was a crack all the way around the front door jamb, as if someone had torn the entire door and jamb off the front of the house, entered and then pulled the door and jamb back into place. The large man then handed Harry the heavy envelope from the morning's post.

"'ere ya go, 'Arry. This is your letter from 'Ogwarts," the large man said. He was wearing a heavy brown coat which appeared as if it had been made from his hair for it was thick and coarse and was the same colour as the man's hair. He wore leather trousers and worn, grey knee boots lined with fur at the top.

Harry took the letter and found he could not tear the envelope open but he was able to break the wax seal on the flap. He opened the envelope, removed the folded, thick parchment within and began reading. He thought he was still hallucinating (he actually thought of it in the terms of vividly dreaming) when he looked at the large man. "Are you Albus Dumbledore, Sir?" he asked the large man.

"Me? No! Though I am honoured you think that much of me. I am Rubeus Robert 'Agrid. Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and I am here to bring you to Diagon Alley to shop for your school supplies, 'Arry," the large man explained.

"And you'll keep him with you until he starts school!" Vernon shouted, startling Petunia.

Hagrid stood to his full height, or as high as he could stand, considering the ceiling was at least a head shorter than Hagrid was. "Dursley, one more word out of your mouth and I will bring you a gift you will not enjoy," Hagrid said in a quiet, dangerous voice. Uncle Vernon paled once more. Hagrid then turned to look down at Harry. "I don't suppose you want to stay here the whole month of August in any event. Let's owl your letter back to 'Ogwarts and I will take you along to Diagon Alley for some shopping and then we can see about where you'll stay for the rest of the summer. 'Ow does that sound, 'Arry?" Hagrid asked in a gentle voice.

For the first time in six years, Petunia got to experience Harry smiling. It broke her heart that her nephew would be happy only because he was leaving here, not that she didn't expect just that reaction. Two tears ran down her cheeks.

Harry, his smile bright enough to burn through the thickest London overcast, said excitedly, "That sounds brilliant, Mister Hagrid!"

Hagrid smiled down at him, "'tis just 'Agrid. No 'mister' or 'sir' or 'lord' needed." Hagrid then looked up at the Dursleys, his expression communicating just how insignificant he thought they were. He then looked back down at Harry, "Do you need help packing?" he asked.

Harry shook his head, "I have nothing to pack," he said self-consciously.

"No clothes? No jacket? No extra shoes? Nothing?" Hagrid asked incredulously.

"I've never had any of those things. I'm just a useless freak, Mister Hagrid. Why would I ask my Aunt and Uncle to spend money on me?" Harry asked sadly.

Hagrid's head audibly snapped from looking at Harry to looking at Vernon. "If I didn't have a responsibility to the boy, I would draw and quarter you where you stood, Dursley. You'd best hope I never ever meet you again while you still draw breath," Hagrid said. He then looked at Harry and took several deep, calming breaths before he smiled once more at the overly small boy. "'Ow about we just buy you some things in Diagon Alley then for normal wear as well?" Hagrid asked rhetorically, reaching down to take Harry's hand in his own. Harry's hand completely disappeared within Hagrid's grasp.

Harry looked up at him questioningly. "You'd just be wasting your money, Mister Hagrid. Uncle Vernon would just take anything you gave me and give it to the charity counter at the church. He says decent children deserve things more than unnatural people like me."

Hagrid growled low in his throat, shaking the windows for a moment before realising he was scaring Harry. Once more he took several calming breaths and, trying to completely ignore the Dursleys lest he kill them where they stood, took a toy motorcycle from his pocket and said, "The Cauldron," and everything started spinning once more.

-oOoOo-

-o-AN-o-
That was quite probably one of the most difficult chapters I have ever written due to the child abuse scenes. It was, in my mind, horrific.
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