Baby on a Doorstep
03.00 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surry, England
The Appearance of a cat was not a strange one on Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surry. The local felines spent most nights patrolling the fence lines for mice, rats and other small rodents. The Tabby cat that leapt to sit under the street sign on the red brick wall however was not one of the local pets. The rather stiff feline sat primly, well positioned to oversee the entire street.
When the stranger stilled the streets nocturnal inhabitants returned to their nightly habits, content to ignore the intruder for now.
As dawn approached, the statuesque tabby still in place the rest of the street began to wake. The Milkman trundled his way down the street, only blinking at the tabby, his eyes gritty after a long night caring for his ill son, the eight year old having woken the household up when he rushed to the bathroom just before midnight. The paper boy zipped past on his bike, not even spearing a glance to the scowling feline. She had nearly been knocked of the wall when he careened around the corner.
As street lights flickered out and the earliest risers softly shut their doors softly nodding to each other as they picked up their milk, gathering the dewy paper from lawns, bushes and pathways.
The Tabby stiffened again as a stick thin woman steeped out of no. 4. Her thin robe clenched tight around her she sneered at her neighbours yards as she crouched to pick up her milk. A child’s wail caused the woman to turn around and shuffle inside once more. The door clicked shut behind her and the child soon stopped wailing.
As more of the street rose to the brightening morning the sounds of suburbia filled the air. Buzzing televisions, music and talk shows on the radio, the occasional news report. The Tabby shook its head as reports of unusual owl sightings and firework displays drifted to her from an open window. Shrieking children and yells filled the air as those older found their spoils from the previous night.
The Tabby continued her vigil as a man as large as his wife was thin stepped from no.4, lending his own car to the symphony of engines turning over for the first time that morning and shifting down the road to join the lines of others in their morning commute. This man was one of the few that noticed the unusual behaviour of the Tabby. By now the cat was sitting on a map and glancing between it and the street sign. The man took a second glance and shook it off, his wife had felt of the night before and they had talked about her freak of a sister and her doubly freakish husband.
As the morning passed into afternoon the Lady of no.4 stepped out with her ballooning son. The boy swayed worryingly as he walked, kicking at his mother as he demanded sweets in the limited vocabulary of a toddler, though this one seemed to know more words for sweets than most. Though he struggled with numbers, stopping to glare at the ground when asked how many sweets he wanted.
The tabby took the opportunity to slip into the garden of no.3 and the shadow of the garden wall. Mother and son returned as the sun peaked in the sky and the house once more filled with the sounds of a young family.
As the sun sank once more to toward the tops of the houses the large man waddled into the house, his return was not a joyous one he had had a very strange day.
The sun set and the street slipped into the almost silence of any residential area.
The night deepened and the cat jumped to sit on the wall she had spent the afternoon below. As the moon rose as the sun had the cat stiffened. By the time a man appeared with a crack she was once more as stiff as stone and staring at the street sign.
The man pulled out a lighter and flicked it open. The street darkened as the lights shot towards the lighter. When the houses were only lit by the moon and stars he glanced to the tabby, his half-moon glasses glinting in the dim light while the rest of his face fell into the shadow of his hat. He raised an eyebrow and smiled slightly at the feline who scowled back and leapt of the wall. Instead of a cat a woman landed in a half crouch and rose to her full height. Straitening her black robes and tall hat as she did so.
“Minerva.” The man huffed. The woman scowled back.
“How did you know?” She almost hissed.
“I have never seen a cat sit so stiffly.” He turned to look up at the sky.
“Is it true?” He raised an eyebrow. “The Potters, James and Lilly are they really…?” The man sighed.
“I am afraid so my dear, may I ask how you came to be here of all places on this fine night?” she looked away.
“I heard Hagrid wailing when I came to the castle for some of the work I had forgotten, are you really going to leave him with these…” She waved a hand at no.4.
“They are the only family he has left.” She scoffed.
“He has a godfather, and a godmother for that matter, you can’t leave him with these… muggles, their absolute the worst sort.” She spat at him.
“Sirius is running from the Aurors and Alice and Frank were attacked this evening by the Lestranges and Barty Crouch Junior.” She gasped.
“Are they… Neville?”
“Neither Alice nor Frank will ever recover, but Little Neville is fine, with his Grandmother I believe.” She almost sobbed and her shoulders shook.
“I…” The rumble of an engine disturbed the pair and a dark shape soared over the houses. A motorcycle thumped to a landing on the road and pulled to a stop in front of the two now silent mages.
“Hagrid.” The tallest of the pair greeted.
“Headmaster Dumbledore, Professor.” The large shape on the bike shifted and stood. Cradled in arms as thick as tree branches was a bundle of blankets. “Got him here I do, fell asleep over Bristol.” He glanced to the houses. “Are you sure this is the best place?” He glanced to Dumbledore.
The man nodded and reached to take the baby from his arms. “Give me a minute to say goodbye would you?” Dumbledore let his arms fall and the giant of a man blubbered as he stared at the boy in his arms. He brushed a wiry kiss to the boy’s forehead and passed him to the smaller man. Hagrid wailed as the headmaster turned away. Minerva rushed to comfort the balling man.
Dumbledore placed the child not yet out of infancy onto the front step of no. 4 and stood tall once more, a few waves of his wand and the air around the child rippled slighting. “Notice-me-not, tracking, sleeping…ah yes.” Another wand twitch. “Heating.” He stepped away and bowed his head. “I am sorry my dear boy but this is for the best.”
The child slept on, innocent of an old man’s guilt. Turning away he walked over to Minerva who was still comforting Hagrid. “Why don’t you head back to the castle, have a drink and a sleep, it has been a late night.” The large man sniffled one more and nodded.
“G’dbye Harry.” He sobbed one last time and shuffled over to the buke he had arrived on. Minerva scowled at Dumbledore.
“I still think this is a poor idea, he will be famous, every child will know his name and yet he will be…” She waved a hand at the silent street. Dumbledore smiled.
“Exactly why he must remain here, away from the fame and adoration. He will be safest here, with his family.” Minerva sighed and glanced longingly at no.4.
“Alright, but on your head be it.” She turned and disappeared. Dumbledore sighed.
“On my head be it.” He pulled out the silver lighter and returned light to the street before leaving the same way he arrived.
Life at Privet Drive
06.00 no. 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surry, England
The sound of a fist pounding on his door woke the child sleeping in the cupboard under the stairs. The shrill cries of a woman had him reaching for his glasses.
Harry, the boy reminded himself, he had a name and it was Harry. He wasn’t going to forget it over the summer when he didn’t have a teacher to remind him, he had done that over his first summer away from school and had been punished for not responding to his teacher on the first day of class. Harry Potter pulled himself into a crouch and acknowledged his aunts calls. The latch on the outside of the door clicked as it was shoved into the open position. The door swung open to reveal a thin face pinched in disgust, something Harry could only just see through the sudden influx of light.
The woman stood and marched down the hall, Harry stood and followed. A wave of an arm to indicate the bacon, sausage, eggs, bread, and butter sat waiting for him. With a nod Boy, no he was Harry, began to make his family breakfast. Harry finished up as he recited the alphabet and counted as far as he could in his head, silently singing the songs they had sung at Kindergarten that year. He didn’t want to disappoint his teacher. Though he had known how to read before the class started learning the two years before he hadn’t known the alphabet. That images made up of smaller pictures meant something. Well he had learnt what the lists meant quickly. Less interaction with his aunt meant less time in pain.
The food, plated up and ready, was placed onto the table one serving at a time until two plates, piled high with greasy meat, heavily buttered bread and cheesy scrambled eggs sat with one that was mostly empty, only two pieces of toast and a poached egg with salt and relish sat on his aunts plate. A nod and the boy turned away to start cleaning. As he filled the sink thumping on the stairs made him wince, his things would be covered in dust and the spiders will have moved.
Two males waddled into the room, the thin female following behind. The three sat and started shovelling food into their mouths, well the father and son pair of rotund examples of humans did. The stick like woman ate slowly and methodically. Harry had finished the breakfast dishes as three plates were dumped by his elbow. “Clean up and finish the list on the bench.” A wave to a piece of paper sitting next a plate holding a single slice of plane toast and a glass of water.
“Yes Aunt Petunia.” The woman left the room, Harry could hear her heaping praise onto her son in the living room. Harry went back to the dirty dishes. He knew he would have to do the garden today, and wash the windows, the laundry needed to be done, and there was a pile of leaves to be swept and put in the rubbish. With a sigh he took a bit out of the toast and started to work on the drying, this would be a long day. Oh and tonight was a roast, no dinner, and the Dursleys were going out, no lunch either. Joy.