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The Little Matchstick Boy

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Harry Potter was sick of packing boxes.

The Dursleys were moving house - Uncle Vernon had gotten a new job in the north of England - and Harry had been packing up the house at 4 Privet Drive by himself for weeks now. He wanted nothing more than to crawl into his cupboard and sleep but knew this was not an option. Uncle Vernon rarely hit him but, when he did, Harry knew about it for at least a month. Aunt Petunia was much more liberal with physical violence though Harry had gotten quite good at ducking the frying pan when it came rushing towards his head.

“Careful with that!” Aunt Petunia snapped, snatching the fine china from his hands as he went to wrap it in newspaper. She shoved past him roughly on her way back to the sitting room where Dudley was cackling at something on the television.

Harry stuck his tongue out at his Aunt’s retreating back.

The house in which Harry had lived with the Dursleys for the past six years looked nothing like it did in Harry’s earlier memories. The kitchen, once pale pink, was now light yellow. Harry had been punished for that particular incident with two weeks in his cupboard. The rooms were mostly bare now besides the few cardboard boxes which would fit in the back of the car (and, of course, the television because Dudley had bawled when Harry had tried to unplug it.)

Sealing the final box with a strip of gaffa tape, Harry stood and pushed his hair out of his eyes before sliding the box out into the hall for Uncle Vernon. Even he seemed to accept that Harry was physically incapable of lifting the boxes into the car, being only seven years old. Exhausted, Harry leaned against his cupboard to catch his breath and couldn't help but cast a longing look inside. If he could just rest for ten minutes...

Uncle Vernon’s shadow fell over Harry, dwarfing him. Harry swallowed despite himself and straightened up.

“I'm warning you, boy,” Uncle Vernon threatened, shoving meaty finger into Harry’s face. “One word out of you and you'll wish you'd never been born. Now, get in the car.”

Harry waited until his uncle had passed into the sitting room before ducking into his cupboard and snatching up his battered school bag which contained everything he owned - not that this was saying much. It contained his ragged blanket and some spare clothes which used to be Dudley’s as well as his school books and a couple of broken toy soldiers.

Bag in hand, he scurried outside and climbed into the car where just enough space had been left next to the boxes. The gap on the other side was much larger to accommodate Dudley’s massive bulk. Uncle Vernon had laid out some plastic bags to cover the seat Harry would occupy. Harry suspected his uncle was afraid he would contaminate it with his freakishness.

Uncle Vernon crammed the final box into the boot and slammed it shut. Harry realised that his seatbelt buckle was hidden under one of the boxes and resolved simply to sit on the belt instead to avoid an argument.

Once Harry and the Dursleys were finally ready to go - following many tears from Dudley who wanted to watch the next programme scheduled - Uncle Vernon started the engine and backed out of the driveway. Harry caught sight of Mrs Figg peering out through her curtains and offered her a small wave.

Harry didn't look back as Privet Drive disappeared behind them. He didn't have any particularly happy memories of that house. Instead, he watched the streets rush past and imagined what the new house would look like. He wondered if he'd have his very own bedroom there.

~

They were in London. Harry knew that. He'd been here once before for a school trip. But he didn't think London was particularly far north so, when Uncle Vernon stopped the car, Harry felt his stomach sink.

Moments later, he'd been pulled roughly out of the car by Uncle Vernon’s purple fist. He was grinning. That didn't bode well for Harry.

Uncle Vernon advanced and Harry instinctively backed away. The car door slammed shut. Harry could feel the fear building in his chest and glanced around desperately but they were in the lowest floor of a multi storey car park with not another soul in sight.

“I should have done this years ago,” said Uncle Vernon nastily.

And then they were gone and Harry found himself standing in the middle an unfamiliar city - completely alone.