Harry Potter, almost twelve years old, was not an ordinary boy. Not by any means. In fact, Harry Potter was rather extraordinary. He was a wizard. Of course, his aunt and uncle, whom he lived with, didn’t like that he was a wizard. They abhorred it. Feared it. In the time he had been back at Number Four Privet Drive, Harry had returned to his role of serving and whipping boy to the only family he had left. He was supposed to have left after only a week, but slowly as the days slipped on and June ended, and the middle of July crept up upon him, Harry had given up on the chances of reconnecting with his friend Draco Malfoy. His friend had likely forgotten him, as most people had. Dismissed his differences as unimportant and logged his face away in the back of their mind as a memory.
“Up!” His Aunt Pentunia commanded on the other side of his bedroom door. He heard her unlock the padlocks on his door and she smacked the door, hard. She had likely hit it with her wooden spoon as a final warning before the sound of her slippers retreated.
Harry climbed off of his bed and looked around his dingy bedroom. His only companion in the room was his snowy owl, Hedwig. Even she was caged like him. His Uncle Vernon had locked her into her cage. Harry was sure if he could have, Vernon would have done the same with him. Harry stood up, stretching his arms towards the ceiling with a sigh and a yawn, before he pulled on a clean shirt that had once belonged to his cousin Dudley. Dudley was the size of a small elephant, and all of his clothes hung off of Harry like a ghost. Harry's aunt and uncle refused to buy him his own clothing.
Harry climbed down the stairs, leaping to avoid the last, bottom step which squeaked horribly and landed at the bottom of the stairs silently. He made his way into the kitchen, where his aunt was pruning her indoor roses. Harry silently made his way over to the stove. A full packet of bacon was frying in the skillet along with half a loaf of bread that was toasting in the oven. Harry went to work and beat the large mixing bowl full of eggs and milk vigorously before he poured them into an empty frying pan. He prodded at the eggs, scrambling them up, and laid out three plates. Two of them were piled high with bacon, eggs, toast, beans and chips, and the last one was filled with sliced tomatoes, eggs and toast. Harry laid the plates in their usual spots at the small, round table and poured his uncle a cup of coffee, before brewing English Breakfast for his aunt and pulling out orange juice for Dudley.
He washed the dishes silently while they ate, moving quickly whenever ordered for more toast, or more chips and bacon (which were being kept warm in the oven). He washed and dried the dishes, but didn’t dare put them back into the cupboards, if he put even a single up in the wrong place it would be hell to pay.
“You get one slice of toast, boy. Eat quickly!”
“Yes, Aunt Petunia.”
Harry quickly spread jam over his toast and ate it over the sink, ignoring the way his uncle snorted in disgust or the way Petunia’s lip curled. He would rather have their disapproving looks than their lashes for touching the clean dishes with his sticky hands. He watched while Dudley left to go over to his friend Piers Polkiss’ house. Harry wondered what Dudley did there. Perhaps terrorize the children closer to Piers’ house. Uncle Vernon kissed Aunt Petunia on the cheek and lumbered out of the house to go to work. Harry’s uncle worked at a very large company that made drills.
Harry watched as they left, standing rather uselessly in the middle of the kitchen, unsure of what to do. Finally his Aunt Petunia snapped at him to stop gawking and go outside and tend to the garden. Harry bustled outside, where the screen door was slammed shut behind him. He set to work quickly. Harry mowed the lawn, trimmed the hedges, weeded the garden, washed down the stones, re-potted the rose bushes (without gloves, mind you, thorns pricked terribly), added mulch to the flower beds, washed down the park, and washed Petunia’s car. By the time Harry staggered his way in at half past one he was utterly exhausted. He was aching all over and dripping with sweat.
“Look at this! You’ve tracked mud all over the tile! Take off those shoes and put them outside now,” Petunia barked. Harry did as he was told. “Go wash up, you stink terribly. Once you’re done you’re going to clean up the mess you’ve made.”
“Yes, Aunt Petunia.” Harry trudged up the stairs towards the second floor with heavily hunched shoulders.
He washed up quickly and changed his clothing. Once that was done he began to clean the inside of the house. The only room he was never to touch was the telly room. Both of the glass doors leading into said room were shut firmly and through the panes Harry could see his aunt sitting on the sofa watching her shows. Harry dragged the mats outside and whipped them with the old rug beater his aunt kept in the cupboard by the door. He left them hanging on the line in the back to air while he swept out the kitchen, hallways, and front hall. He paused outside of the small cupboard under the stairs where all of his school things were locked up. Oh how Harry wished he could ‘alohamora’ the lock and gather his things and run away.
It was strange, looking at it now. How tiny it seemed. Harry wondered, as he stared at the latched door. How he had spent eleven years of his life secluded in such a small, cramped place. Harry had liked the cupboard, however. It was his solace from the Dursley’s. There were times, even now, when Harry wished to crawl inside the space, shut the door and disappear. Be forgotten.
Harry scrambled quick as he could into the kitchen. Petunia was standing there, and beside her slippered feet was a pail filled with steaming, bubble-infested water, and a brush. She likely had taken a break from her shows to order him about. Harry nodded to her wordlessly, his eyes plastered to the floor in subservience. He didn’t dare look at her face when she was in such a mood. She made a quiet ‘hmph’ noise and rounded on her heels to stalk out of the room. When she closed the door to the telly room it was with a force that shook the walls.
Harry dragged the heavy bucket to the furthest corner of the room before crossing to the cupboard under the sink and pulled out a think, long rag. He returned to the corner and laid out the rag in a small rectangle before kneeling on it. It did nothing to cushion his knees from the hard floor and it would do nothing to protect his pants or his skin from the hot water and the chemicals within the bucket, rather the swatch of fabric dried the floor as he scooted along on his knees.
Dunking his brush into the water, Harry clenched his teeth at the shock of the hot water. He pulled the brush out and let it drip into the water before leaning forward so he could scrub hard at the tile. Once he finished a square in front of him, Harry nudged the pail forward with the top of his head, knowing that if he used a hand he would drip over the tile, or waste time. He pulled the rag forward in a sort of half circle with his knees before moving onto the next patch of floor.
This continued for well over an hour, almost into two. Harry worked his way through the kitchen methodically, into the hallway, down the hallway, around the base of the stairs and finally into the front hall. He stood, giving a tiny wince as his back protested when he moved too fast. His shoulders and stomach muscles ached terribly and he poured the dirty water down the gutter out front. He stored everything in the proper place before retrieving the rugs for the front hall, back door, and hallway from the back yard and laid them down carefully.
Harry was running his reddened, cracked hands under cold water when Dudley thundered into the house and rampaged his way into the telly room to watch a movie with Piers. Petunia entered the kitchen and observed his work. She snapped out a few places he had missed before ordering him up to his room. Harry scrambled up the stairs and shut his door just in time to hear his uncle return home.
He listened to the family bustle about below him as he stretched out on his bed. He turned his eyes to the calendar on his wall and smiled at the red circle around July 31st. His birthday was coming up soon. Just a little while longer...
Harry scrambled up on his bed and sat stalk-straight. His uncle pushed the door open and stood in the frame, occupying it with his large size. Vernon stared at him from under his hard, large eyebrows with his beady, sharp eyes and Harry kept his eyes dutifully on the floor.
“We are going out to eat. You are to remain on that bed until we return. You are to be quiet and as non-existent as possible. Clear?”
Harry nodded his head before jerking forward on the bed when he was cuffed hard on the back of the neck. He didn’t raise a hand to rub at the pain or cry out. “Yes, Uncle Vernon.”
The walrus-like man left the room. Harry stretched back out on the bed as he listened to two padlocks slide into place. The sound of retreating footsteps resounded in the hall before long he heard the front door open and close. Harry rolled off of the bed and moved to his wardrobe. He braced his weight against it and pushed as hard as he could, bearing his weight down on his feet. Finally the large mess of wood scraped along the wood floor, one inch, then two. Harry slid to his knees and pulled up the loose floorboard with a smile.
The time he had spent alone in the house had given him time to explore his room. He had found the loose floorboard one afternoon when everyone had gone to the cinema. Not long after, during the one time during the night when his door was unlocked, Harry would fill the pockets of his sleep trousers with things he had stashed in the bathroom behind the toilet tank. It usually didn’t add up to much - a few crackers or some sweets. However, once when his Aunt Petunia had gone to the Post Office she had left his door unlocked by accident and Harry had managed to unlock the cupboard under the stairs and sneak out one of his Hogwarts books. Harry hadn’t counted his luck when he had snatched up the book - Magical Drafts and Potions - one of the textbooks to his favourite class.
Harry had enjoyed Potions thanks to Professor Snape. He had pushed Harry to learn, did nothing to favour him, and taught him tricks to remember things. If there was any class Harry hadn’t wanted to fall behind on during the summer, it was Potions. He had disappointed Professor Snape once and had regretted it terribly.
Pulling the book out and laying it on the bed, Harry stuck his arm into the hiding place, looking for something to eat. He straightened up with his hand around a package of crisps and an oat bar. Replacing the floorboard, Harry returned to his bed. He ate the crisps first, they were plain, the way he preferred them. He wiped his hands off on the bed spread, making sure to get rid of all the oil and salt so he wouldn’t damage the book. Harry kicked back and started reading.
Harry had been so engrossed with reading the properties of various more advanced potions in the books - he hoped they would learn more - that he hadn’t paid attention to the passage of time. Or heard the front door open and close. It was only when the door to his room was opened by his uncle that Harry had realized too late.
Vernon roared with anger. Harry scrambled back in the bed, clutching to the book like a lifeline. His ankle was seized hard and he was pulled out of bed. He landed on the floor with a crack, air leaving him in a rush. He choked, lying on the floor, stunned and staring up at the ceiling.
“Using that junk to sneak around our house?!”
Harry rolled onto his side and pushed himself up with his shaking arms. He fell onto his side when Vernon advanced and he rose his hands to block his head. “No! Uncle Vernon, no!” Unfortunately, the truth wasn’t much better.
“Shows me how stupid I was to trust a freak like you alone in my house. We give you food. We give you shelter and this is how you repay us!?”
Harry opened his mouth to say something. His head was throbbing and his spine ached. He was fairly certain that nothing was broken from his impact but it hurt to move. “Uncle Vernon - sir - please!”
“I’ve had quite enough of that jabber!”
The book was yanked from Harry’s gasp and he noticed Vernon take heed of the title. The man spat on the book and brandished it around in his great fist. Harry cowered, pulling himself into a fetal position. Anything in Vernon’s grasp could be used as a weapon. “See how your magic helps you now, boy.”
Harry rose his arms to block the blows.
It didn’t help.
Several hours - or days, he couldn’t be sure – later, Harry woke up on the floor of his bedroom. His glasses were cracked in one lens and bent horribly out of shape. He reached a hand up and gingerly touched his face. His cheek was swollen and probably purple. His face was tacky and caked with blood. He pushed himself into a sitting position and reached back. His hair, notorious for standing on end - was matted down against his skull. Harry made a displeased noise at the feel of the knots and mess of dried blood.
He forced himself to his feet and wavered a moment as feeling rushed back into him with a low, throbbing ache. He limp-dragged his way to his wardrobe and pulled off his blood-stained shirt. His nose had bled profusely at some point all down his front. He pulled on a fresh one, ignoring the way his joints popped in protest.
Turning in place, Harry noticed a cup of water and two lumps of bread. He eyed them curiously and made his way over. Easing his way back onto the floor, Harry pulled up the glass and drank. The water was stale and warm, but washed away the acrid taste in his mouth. The bread was too hard to break. It had been about a day. He wondered if they left him there to die. He snorted and then instantly regretted it as pain exploded through him.
“Are you up yet? I hear you moving!”
Harry groaned. Petunia’s voice was shrill. He made his way to his feet and leaned heavily against the wardrobe. “I’m up, Aunt Petunia.” His words came out slightly slurred due to his swollen cheek.
The door swung open and his aunt took stock of him. “Into the toilet with you. You reek of filth. Shower and wash. Then into the kitchen with you.”
Harry collected his clothing and made his way into the bathroom. He closed the door but didn’t lock it. After living with the Dursleys he had no expectation of privacy. He examined his reflection. The left side of his face had swelled up impressively and turned a rather deep shade of purple. It was hot under his hand and Harry was sure something in his face had clotted. Ice and a towel would do the trick. When he removed his clothes familiar scars over his torso greeted him along with yellowing and green bruises and fresh dark blue, almost black ones. Harry grunted and poked at one over his ribs in interest.
He showered quickly but made sure to rid his face and hair of blood. He dressed and brushed his teeth, ignoring the unpleasant throb of agony as he did so. His mouth tasted disgusting. He made his way down the stairs and into the kitchen. It was empty of all but a bowl of runny porridge at the table and a towel loaded up with ice. It was the familiar sight that had greeted him several times before, always after a severe beating. Ice to dull the pain and swelling and a grey gloop to maintain his stomach.
Harry lowered himself into the chair and pressed the ice against his face. It ached before it numbed and he sighed as the throbbing lessened to a dull annoyance. Slowly he fed himself the disgusting mess in the bowl. He tried not to think as he sucked it down, ignoring the way it felt and tasted.
“About time too! We’ve had to check on you to make sure you hadn’t died!”
Harry’s voice was bleak. He didn’t raise his eyes from the table. “I’m sorry, Aunt Petunia.”
“Too right you are! You’re lucky we didn’t do away with all that nonsense. Vernon had wanted to burn it, but I told him no, it could have exploded our house.”
“Yes, Aunt Petunia.”
“You are to de-weed the garden, trim the hedge and clean the attic today.”
“Of course, Aunt Petunia.
“And you will go to your room early. We have guests for dinner. You will lie there and make no noise.”
“Yes, Aunt Petunia. I will stay in my room making no noise and pretending I don’t exist.”
Petunia snatched away the bowl when he finished with it and took the towel when he lowered it from his face. She spread her hands against his cheek, pressing in painfully. Harry didn’t move. Something inside his cheek shifted unpleasantly and it was followed by a hot, sharp pain before the taste of metal slid down Harry’s throat. She had burst the clot in his face.
“After you work you will get more ice. You can’t walk around the house looking more ghastly than usual.”
“Thank you, Aunt Petunia.”
“Now go work.”
Harry worked diligently and quietly. He cleared the weeds from the garden and trimmed the hedges neat and tidy. Afterwards he stood on the newspaper in the kitchen and held the ice to his rapidly de-swelling face as the blood drained from it and did his best to ignore the sharp pains. He moved to the attic and re-arranged boxes. When he was sure no one was looking, he took a moment to play with some of Dudley’s old action figures before packing them away in old boxes.
As he worked, Harry thought of the house-elves at Malfoy Manor. He wondered if they were treated so terribly. As he opened a box filled with pictures of smiling faces, Harry sat back and studied them. He wondered if Hogwarts had all just been a cruel dream. He wondered if he would ever go back, or if they would show up at his door telling him they had made a mistake and he was to remain with the Dursleys forever.
As he cleared away cobwebs and dust Harry thought of Draco. He thought of the luxurious beds of the Manor. Of a pleasant sleep and a full belly. He thought of Narcissa and her emotions hidden behind her mask. He thought of her fleeting, warm hugs. He thought of Pansy and her gobstones. Of chocolate frogs.
By the time Harry returned to his room he was tired and saddened. He laid in bed listening to the laughter below him. To the sound of utensils on plates. He closed his eyes and thought of the feasts in the Great Hall. Of ice cold pumpkin juice and meat pies. He thought about the pancakes with strawberries he had at Malfoy Manor.
Draco had forgotten about him.
Harry pushed away the pain in his chest as best he could. No one had written him. Not a single letter by owl or by post. He knew that Slytherin House had a reputation of being cold, but he had found companionship in Draco and Pansy and even his teacher Snape. In the end, though, they had left him alone.
His birthday was nine days away. Surely his Hogwarts letter would be arriving soon. Perhaps with Hagrid again. Harry hoped for it to be true. For the large half-giant to swoop in with his pink umbrella and rescue him. To take him away from this place so he could live forever happily in the dungeons below the Black Lake.
Harry drifted off to sleep with giants, fish, and snakes in his head. He dreamed of feasts and wands and friends.
Three days later found Harry loading the washing into the machine. He enjoyed laundry. Something about the simplicity of it made him feel calm. The past three days had been uneventful, if spartan. He had spent most of them cleaning or with Mrs. Figg, whose house smelled of cabbage and who had far too many cats, or in his room. One morning when crossing to stay with Mrs. Figg, Harry had sworn he had seen an owl, but the next second he looked, it was gone.
He missed Hogwarts so much it was like a constant, burning ache inside of him. However, he buried it under the constant need to do housework and the notion that if everything wasn’t perfect he’d be seeing the wrong side of a belt. It was a motivational threat that kept him moving through the house, constantly working ahead of schedule and doing things without being asked.
He picked up the second load of laundry of the day and moved to the backyard to hang the sheets and pillowcases he had just pulled from the washer to dry. As he worked, Harry enjoyed the relatively cool summer day and the strong breeze. He wanted to be diligent so the fear bubbling inside of him that this was the calm before the storm would subside. He had long learned to do work without being told, to always ask permission, and to fear the worst out of every situation. It had kept him alive thus far.
Returning to the house, Harry paused in the bathroom to use it and to wash his hands. He examined his face in the mirror. His cheek was not completely healed, but it was better. There was still a stain of darkness over his skin and around his eye that made him look like he had gotten into a row. He’d grin at looks on the street and quietly mutter “you should see the other guy”. It gave him a wide berth and eventually people stopped staring.
The house smelled of roast as he stepped back into the hallway, and Harry’s stomach growled at the idea of it. If he was lucky he’d get scraps. As Harry gathered up the last load to put into the machine once the current one finished, he mused on the idea of his treatment. It was cruel and deplorable, yes. The treated him like a slave. Yet, there was a strange comfort to the repetition of the tasks. He had grown to love the solitude and the pride of a job well done. It was true he didn’t enjoy the beatings and the work was hard, but in some strange way, Harry felt it gave him character.
He wasn’t scrambling for more, of course, but they were his only family and that had to mean something, right?
The front door opened and shut. His uncle was home. He heard his aunt rush to greet him. He would he seated in the telly room with a scotch and his paper in less than a minute. If there was one thing the Dursleys liked, it was structure. They feared change more than any other people Harry had met.
“Boy! Make me a snack!”
Harry abandoned his post in the laundry room and moved to the kitchen. He turned on the kettle and pulled out a pot noodle before pouring the boiling water into the cup. It was a Thursday, which meant that it was a pot noodle. Every other day was toasties and cheese with tomato. Harry paused outside of the telly room and knocked on the door.
“Get in here.”
Harry moved inside and set the fork and cup down. “Here you are, sir.”
Vernon waved his hand away dismissively and Harry scurried from the room without hesitation. He returned to the laundry room and was leaning against the wall when the doorbell rang. As far as he knew they weren’t expecting guests. Harry made no move to answer the door and offend his aunt and uncle.
The doorbell rang again.
“Are you getting that, boy?”
Harry rushed to the door and opened it quickly. He stepped out from behind it to tell the solicitor to go away - that they weren’t interested - when he froze at the sight of the person standing on the porch.
Narcissa’s mouth opened to correct Harry so he would use her first name but her rouged lips twisted up when she glanced at his face. Harry cleared his throat and shuffled in place. He lowered his head and nervously toyed with his hair, trying to make it cover the large bruise on the left side of his face. “I got into a fight.”
“With a troll?” Narcissa questioned, a dainty brow rising.
Harry opened his mouth before closing it again and profusely shook his head no. “I... You shouldn’t be here.”
“Draco insisted. He said you weren’t receiving any of the letters he sent you. Said you weren’t owling back.”
Draco had sent him letters? Harry’s stomach twisted in a mixture of emotion at the thought. The Dursleys must have thrown them away. Ever since the Hogwarts Letter debacle the previous summer, Harry was forbidden to retrieve the post. His heart weighed down with guilt at the fact he had been angry at Draco for not contacting him, when in actuality he had.
“No, you don’t understand.” Harry’s voice was shaking, almost inaudible, and pleading. “You can’t be here.”
“Are you alright, Harry?”
Harry glanced upwards fleetingly, before his eyes instantly plastered down to the floor. In his brief glimpse he had seen Narcissa looking worried and Lucius looking perturbed. “I’m sorry, I have to go. I have work to do.”
Harry wanted nothing more than to fling the door open and launch himself out of it, but the knowledge his uncle was only a room over, kept him from doing so. He muttered another quick apology before closing the door. He stared at it a long moment before turning away from it.
“Who was it?!”
“Nobody, Uncle Vernon. Some people selling magazines.”
“I hope you told them we weren’t interested.”
“Yes, sir. I did.”
There was an insistent knocking at the door and Harry froze. He turned in place and stared at the door. He felt like crying. If he was caught... He took a step back from the door as another knock rapped on the glass, trembling.
He could hear Vernon grumbling in the other room and the creaking of his easy chair as he attempted to pull himself out of it. Harry swallowed thickly, eyes darting between the silhouetted figures in the frosted glass of the door and down the hallway to the telly room. Then it came again, three, short, sharp knocks. Harry’s body lurched towards the door and he cracked it open.
Narcissa smiled down at him, her face open and indulgent. “Come along, Harry dear. Just step outside so we can chat. Or invite us in for some tea.”
Harry couldn’t breathe. He was being pulled in a million different directions and had a thousand thoughts at once. He opened his mouth to reply, shutting the door until it was barely open, hoping it would hide his shaking. “I’m not allowed to have people over.”
“Surely that’s not true! You must have company visit sometimes.”
But he didn’t. Not ever. Unless you counted that one time his Primary teacher for maths visited him and told Petunia and Vernon he had been found on the roof of the school. Harry never thought he would ever eat again.
“More solicitors, boy? You must be more firm with them!”
Harry shuddered hard and emitted a quiet squeak as he was pushed away from the door by Vernon. Harry cowered by the closet as Vernon opened the door and looked out upon Draco’s parents. Luckily they had dressed in modest, fashionable, but Muggle dress. Vernon sniffed.
“We’re not interested in whatever it is you’re selling. I’m not donating my hard earned money to any starving children's fund, or to help poor animals so you lot can sod off my property!”
Narcissa blinked and looked up at Vernon. She peered at his face, which was flushed with exertion. She shifted in place and peered back at Lucius. The two traded a look before Narcissa looked back up at Vernon. “We aren’t from any charity. We’re parents of a boy your nephew goes to school with.”
Vernon turned an impressive shade of maroon and the vein in his forehead looked like it was about to burst. “WE DON’T HAVE A NEPHEW AND WE DON’T WANT ANY OF YOUR KIND SKULKING AROUND HERE!”
Harry shrank back against the wall when the door slammed so hard he thought the glass would shatter. He pushed himself along the wall with his hands, trying to inch as much difference between himself and his uncle as possible.
“Did you make them come?”
“No, Uncle Vernon, I swear.”
“Did you use some of that funny business of yours to send messages to your freaky little friends?”
Harry’s mind was reeling. His heart was hammering so hard he thought it would burst. He clamped his mouth shut and shook his head, squeezing his eyes closed as he slid down the wall into a ball on the floor. His cheeks burned as tears dripped from his eyes and he stuttered out a plea, grabbing his head and pulling it against his raised knees to protect it as best he could. A meaty hand grabbed him hard about the neck and yanked him up. He yelped loudly and was throttled silent.
The next thing Harry heard was a loud cry of ‘CONFRINGO’ before the front door was blasted clean off its hinges and into splinters of wood and shards of glass that fell harmlessly to the floor rather than explode outwards. Harry watched, eyes wide as Lucius advanced into the house, his hand wrapped in a firm grasp about his wand. He was flanked on his right by Narcissa, brandishing her wand as if it was, and in this case it most definitely was, a deadly weapon. Harry collapsed to the floor when the hand about his neck released him and he remained there, sprawled out, in shock.
“You can’t do that! This is my house! I won’t have any of that nonsense in here, you hear me!?”
“Silence,” Lucius’ voice was utterly calm and even. His eyes, however, were anything but. They were steely gray and stormy. He sneered at Vernon. “You are a disgusting excuse for anything, let alone a Muggle.”
Petunia, who had heard the commotion, came racing into the front hall and screeched, falling against Vernon protectively. Narcissa swept over to Harry’s side and helped him stand. She brushed off his clothes and smoothed down his hair.
“Where are your things?”
Harry opened his mouth, before closing it. His eyes darted to Vernon and Petunia. Then he looked at the floor.
“It’s alright, dear. Tell me, we’ll get your things and then we’ll go.”
Not trusting his voice, Harry pointed. He watched as Narcissa opened the lock on the cupboard under the stairs and with a wordless incantation and a quiet pop, Harry was sure it was empty. She stood in front of the small space before gently motioning Harry over. Harry advanced on shaking legs.
Narcissa wrapped an arm around Harry’s shoulders before dropping it when Harry tensed. “Is this the cupboard Draco told me about? The one you had stayed in?”
Harry nodded slowly and managed a hoarse “yes” before falling silent. Narcissa nodded her head before sweeping back into the front hall.
“You there, the whale,” Narcissa addressed, levelling her wand at Vernon. “Come.”
“I will not!”
“I don’t wish to do this by force, but I will if I must.”
Vernon shook Petunia off of him and rose his fists as if to fight. Lucius rolled his eyes and slashed with his wand. “Confundus!”
Vernon’s eyes glazed over and within moments he was trailing Narcissa, who was gently coaxing his befuddled mind down the hall. After a bit of prodding and a snort of amusement from Narcissa, they had managed to squeeze Vernon’s great mass into the space under the stairs and she swung the door shut and latched it happily.
“Wonderful, now that that’s dealt with. Let’s get you changed.”
“His other clothes were stolen!” Petuina squawked. “There was no way he would have afforded them. I did away with them.”
“I bought them, you stupid woman!” Narcissa frowned at Petunia. “Where did you place them?”
“The garage. They are to be taken out with the garbage.”
With another wand wave a suitable outfit was draped over Narcissa’s arm and she turned to Harry. “Why don’t you show me to your bedroom?”
Harry shamefully led Narcissa up the stairs and pushed open the door to his bedroom with a flushed face. She examined it. “It’s very... clean.” Harry hung his head. Narcissa freed Hedwig and Harry watched with delight as the snowy owl soared out the window. “Now, why don’t you put on some of your nice clothes.
Harry took the bundle into his arms and watched Narcissa with wide eyes. She turned her back and Harry changed as quickly as he could. Finally he tapped her lightly on the shoulder, still not feeling up to words and she smiled when she looked at him. With a quick ‘reparo’ his glasses were mended.
“Lovely, now, where is that pendant Draco gave you for Christmas. It’s how we found you, you see. This house is protected by some pretty powerful wards, luckily the familial magic on the necklace allowed us to find you. It’s a safety feature.”
Harry removed the floorboard in place and pulled the locket out. He held it up to Narcissa who took it wordlessly and hung it about his neck. It was strange, but the weight about his neck was comfortable, and Harry felt more joyful almost instantly. He followed Narcissa down the stairs and she took his arm. Lucius took his other arm. And with a quiet noise the world went inside out and upside down and Privet Drive was gone.