The door slammed and the woman crouched down next to the crib. Emerald green eyes staring into the other set of Emerald green. Her lips moved, but no words were sounded. The door flung open again. Without turning, the woman's lips moved once more. And this time, they sounded. "Always." There was a bright green flash.
There was banging against the cupboard door. Harry slowly opened his eyes and reached for his glasses in the dark, his feeble attempt only resulted in him hitting his hand hard against the wall. It hurt.
The banging was getting louder now.
"I can hear you! I can see you in there!" The shrill voice of the woman sounded once more.
Harry exhaled when he finally found his glasses and sat up on his cot. The door next to him flung open.
"Out. Now. Breakfast isn't going to cook itself, I want everything to be absolutely perfect for Dudley's Birthday."
Of course. Harry thought. It's his birthday today. He slips out a groan, clearly having just being woken up from his deep slumber, is extremely tired.
"I'm sorry, what was that?" The woman shrieked.
Harry Sighed. "Yes, Aunt Petunia..." he called out finally.
The emerald eyed boy ran his hand through his unruly black hair trying to tame it somewhat as his eyes were almost blinded from the bright light seeping through his eyelids. He sat up slowly and walked towards the kitchen, his blond haired aunt following from behind. Harry made his way to the stove to start breakfast. He looked over his shoulder, looking at the table that was covered with his cousin, Dudley's birthday presents. Harry looked back at the stove and pan, before laying down the first piece of bacon, before looking over his other shoulder to the table.
Uncle Vernon entered the kitchen as Harry was turning over the bacon.
"Comb your hair!" he barked, by way of a morning greeting.
Judging by the looks of it, Dudley had gotten the new computer he had wanted, along with two sets of large chocolate boxes, a brand new bike and the racing set. As if the brat wasn't spoiled enough. Dudley had a large pink face, not much neck was visible, and he had small, watery blue eyes, and thick blond hair that lay smoothly on his fat head. It comes as a big surprise that he would want a bike for his birthday, seeing as his cousin was very fat and hated exercise, just like his father. The fact that he will even touch it is highly unlikely. The kid practically never moves or works, unless of course it involved punching somebody. Dudley's favourite punching bag was Harry, of course, but could never quite catch him because of his overwhelming size. Harry had always been small and skinny for his age. He physically looked smaller and skinnier than he actually was because all he was given to wear were old, often torn clothes of Dudley. Dudley was about five times bigger than he were.
Harry had a thin face, a mop of messy black hair, and a pair of bright emerald green eyes. Just like your mother. His Aunt would always say. His eyes sparkled like gems and were hidden behind round glasses that were held together with a lot of Scotch tape because of all the time Dudley punched him on the nose. Harry also had a very thin scar on his forehead that was shaped like a bolt of lightning, it shimmered a faded white. He had had it as long as he could remember, and the first question Harry could remember asking his Uncle Vermon was how he had gotten it.
"In the car crash when your brother and parents died," he had told him looking as if he had smelled something rotten. "And don't ask questions, boy."
Harry was cracking three eggs open, he was wondering what would've happened if his parents and his brother survived the car crash. He was lost in his own thoughts what a loud voice snapped him out of his daydreaming.
"How many presents are here, Dad?" Dudley asked while proceeding to tear his present apart.
"Oh... Thirty six, my boy." Vermon boomed.
"Thirty-six?" Dudley shouted as Harry watched from over his shoulder, "that's two less than last year!" Dudley said as his face began to turn red, alerting everyone that a tantrum was on the way. Harry, finished with his eggs, quickly distracted himself as he scooted away from the stove to set up the table.
"Oh, don't worry, darling. We'll buy you another two presents while we're out shopping today. Hm? Two more presents. Is that all right?" Aunt Petunia soothed. Dudley's face returned to its normal colour as he thought for a moment, though it looked like hard work for him.
Harry put the plates of egg and bacon on the table, which was difficult as there wasn't much room.
"So I'll have thirty... thirty..." Dudley said slowly.
"Thirty-nine, sweetgums." Aunt Petunia said.
"Oh," Dudley replied as he sat down heavily on the three person sofa, though now with him sitting there, it looked like it was made for one, "all right then."
Uncle Vernon chuckled. "Little tyke wants his money's worth, just like his father.'Atta boy, Dudley!" He ruffled Dudley's hair.
At that moment, Aunt Petunia whispered something in Vermon's ears and vermon grew red.
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE HAVE TO TAKE HIM?!" He boomed.
"Calm down dear, the nanny's sick and there's no one to watch him."
"...We could phone Marge," Uncle Vernon sighed and suggested.
"Don't be silly, Vernon, she hates the boy."
"You could just leave me here," Harry put in hopefully (he'd be able to watch what he wanted on television for a change and maybe even have a go on Dudley's computer).
Aunt Petunia looked as though she'd just swallowed a lemon.
"And come back and find the house in ruins?" she snarled.
"I won't blow up the house," said Harry, but they weren't listening.
"I suppose we could take him to the zoo," said Aunt Petunia slowly, "... and leave him in the car...."
"That car's new, he's not sitting in it alone...."
Dudley began to cry loudly, except he wasn't really crying.
"Dinky Duddydums, don't cry, Mummy won't let him spoil your special day!" she cried, flinging her arms around him.
"I... don't... want... him... t-t-to come!" Dudley yelled between huge, pretend sobs. "He always sp- spoils everything!"
He shot Harry a nasty grin through the gap in his mother's arms.
Half an hour later, Harry, who couldn't believe his luck, was sitting in the back of the Dursleys' car with his cousin, on the way to the zoo for the first time in his life. His aunt and uncle hadn't been able to think of anything else to do with him, but before they'd left, Uncle Vernon had taken Harry aside.
"I'm warning you," he boomed, putting his large purple face right up close to Harry's, "any funny business, anything at all -- and you'll be in that cupboard from now until Christmas."
"I'm not going to do anything," said Harry timidly, "honestly.."
But Uncle Vernon didn't believe him. No one ever did.
The problem was, strange things often happened around Harry and it was just no good telling the Dursleys he didn't make them happen.
Once, Aunt Petunia, tired of Harry coming back from the barbers looking as though he hadn't been at all, had taken a pair of kitchen scissors and cut his hair so short he was almost bald except for his bangs, which she left "to hide that horrible scar." Dudley had laughed himself silly at Harry, who spent a sleepless night imagining school the next day, where he was already laughed at for his baggy clothes and taped glasses. Next morning, however, he had gotten up to find his hair exactly as it had been before Aunt Petunia had sheared it off He had been given a week in his cupboard for this, even though he had tried to explain that he couldn't explain how it had grown back so quickly.
But today, nothing was going to go wrong. It was even worth being with Dudley and his parents to be spending the day somewhere that wasn't his cupboard under the stairs.
It was a very sunny Saturday and the zoo was crowded with families. Harry had the best morning he'd had in a long time. He was careful to walk a little way apart from the Dursleys so that Dudley, who were starting to get bored with the animals by lunchtime. They ate in the zoo restaurant, and when Dudley threw a tantrum because his Knickerbocker glory didn't have enough ice cream the Dursleys hesitantly bought for him on top, Uncle Vernon bought him another one and Harry was allowed to finish the first.
Harry felt, afterward, that he should have known it was all too good to last.
After lunch they went to the reptile house. It was cool and dark in there, with lit windows all along the walls. Behind the glass, all sorts of lizards and snakes were crawling and slithering over bits of wood and stone. Dudley wanted to see huge, poisonous cobras and thick, man-crushing pythons. Dudley quickly found the largest snake in the place. It could have wrapped its body twice around Uncle Vernon's car and crushed it into a trash can -- but at the moment it didn't look in the mood. In fact, it was fast asleep. Dudley stood with his nose pressed against the glass, staring at the glistening brown coils.
"Make it move," he whined at his father.
Uncle Vernon tapped on the glass, but the snake didn't budge. "Go on, move you stupid thing." Vermon boomed.
"Do it again," Dudley ordered. Uncle Vernon rapped the glass smartly with his knuckles, but the snake just snoozed on.
"This is boring," Dudley moaned. He shuffled away.
Harry moved in front of the tank and looked intently at the snake. He wouldn't have been surprised if it had died of boredom itself -- no company except stupid people drumming their fingers on the glass trying to disturb it all day long. It was worse than having a cupboard as a bedroom, where the only visitor was Aunt Petunia hammering on the door to wake you up; at least he got to visit the rest of the house. The snake suddenly opened its beady eyes. Slowly, very slowly, it raised its head until its eyes were on a level with Harry's.
Harry stared. Then he looked quickly around to see if anyone was watching. They weren't. He looked back at the snake and winked, too.
The snake jerked its head toward Uncle Vernon and Dudley, then raised its eyes to the ceiling. It gave Harry a look as if saying:
I get that all the time.
"I know," Harry murmured through the glass, though he wasn't sure the snake could hear him. "It must be really annoying."
The snake nodded vigorously.
"Where do you come from, anyway?" Harry asked.
The snake jabbed its tail at a little sign next to the glass. Harry peered at it.
Boa Constrictor, Brazil. "Was it nice there?"
The boa constrictor jabbed its tail at the sign again and Harry read on: This specimen was bred in the zoo. "Oh, I see -- so you've never been to Brazil?"
As the snake shook its head, a deafening shout behind Harry made both of them jump.
"DADDY! MUMMY! COME AND LOOK AT THIS SNAKE! YOU WON'T BELIEVE
WHAT IT'S DOING!"
Dudley came waddling toward them as fast as he could.
"Out of the way, you," he said, punching Harry in the ribs and pushing him onto the ground. Caught by surprise, Harry fell hard on the concrete floor.
Harry was visibly upset and angry, how could Dudley be so mean? This was the only day Harry thought he could go through without having to get angry at him. He thought wrong. He stared at Dudley, he mouth opening to say something, probably to defend himself.
But what came next happened so fast no one saw how it happened -- one second, Dudley were leaning right up close to the glass, the next, he had feel into the reptile's exhibition, falling directly into the pond of water with howls of horror.
Harry sat up and gasped; the glass front of the boa constrictor's tank had vanished. The great snake was uncoiling itself rapidly, slithering out onto the floor. People throughout the reptile house screamed and started running for the exits.
As the snake slid swiftly past him, Harry could have sworn a low, hissing voice said,
Unsure and shocked of the situation in front of him, Harry simply smiled and said "Anytime." As the snake gave a bow and slithered out into the open, more screams were echoed throughout the zoo.
Vermon and Petunia rushed over to see what the commotion was about, a very wet Dudley was back on his feet and about to exit the exhibition, only to find that the glass had reappeared, he cried and banged the glass as Aunt Petunia screamed in horror.
"Oh my boy, my baby boy!" Petunia looked pale, as if she was about to faint.
Harry giggled as Vermon thumped the glass as hard as he could, catching the emerald eyed boy snickering, and he gave him a hard glare that sent his smile back into a frown.
The zoo director himself made Aunt Petunia a cup of strong, sweet tea while he apologized over and over again. Dudley could only gibber as a towel is wrapped around him. As far as Harry had seen, the snake hadn't done anything except snap playfully at their heels as it passed, but by the time they were all back in Uncle Vernon's car, Dudley was telling them how it had nearly bitten off his leg.
But worst of all, for Harry at least, was Dudley calming down enough to say, "Harry was talking to it, weren't you, Harry?"
Uncle Vernon waited until Dudley was safely out of the room before starting on Harry. He was so angry he could hardly speak. He managed to say, "Go -- cupboard -- stay -- no meals."
"But I swear I've done nothing! I just stared at the mirror and it disappeared like magic!"
"There's no such thing as magic!!" he said before he collapsed into a chair, and Aunt Petunia had to run and get him a large brandy.
Harry lay in his dark cupboard much later, wishing he had a watch. He didn't know what time it was and he couldn't be sure the Dursleys were asleep yet. Until they were, he couldn't risk sneaking to the kitchen
for some food.
He'd lived with the Dursleys almost ten miserable years now, as long as he could remember, ever since he'd been a baby and his parents and brother had died in that car crash. He couldn't remember being in the car when his family had died, but he felt that it was a lie. Sometimes, when he slept during long hours in his cupboard, he was greeted with a strange dream: a blinding, flash of green light and a burning pain on his forehead. This, he supposed, was the crash, though he couldn't imagine where all the green light came from. And why he looked like he was in a bedroom. He couldn't remember his parents at all. The only vision in his dream was of his mother, saying the word "Always", but that was all she said. He didn't believe it was real though, it's just a dream, he thought.
His aunt and uncle never spoke about them, and of course he was forbidden to ask questions. There were no photographs of them in the house. When he had been younger, Harry had dreamed and dreamed of some unknown relation coming to take him away, but it had never happened; the Dursleys were his only family. Yet sometimes he thought (or maybe hoped) that strangers in the street seemed to know him. Very strange strangers they were, too. A tiny man in a violet top hat had bowed to him once while out shopping with Aunt Petunia and Dudley. After asking Harry furiously if he knew the man, Aunt Petunia had rushed them out of the shop without buying anything. A wild-looking old woman dressed all in green had waved merrily at him once on a bus. A bald man in a very long purple coat had actually shaken his hand in the street the other day and then walked away without a word. A small child, who looked no older than Harry himself with dark blonde curly hair and sparking purple eyes, yes, purple, kept staring at him with a face full of recognition one day when he was having a meal with the Dursleys one day. The weirdest thing about all these people was the way they seemed to vanish the second Harry tried to get a closer look.