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I'm Standing In The Ashes

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| A L O N E |

 

Harriet 'Harry' Potter hugged her knees to her chest, engulfed in the encompassing stillness and isolation of her cupboard - darkness blanketing her and she couldn't even see her own hands. 

She rocked back and fort, eyes open despite not actually seeing anything, and attempting to comfort herself - surely there wasn't any monsters alone with her in the cupboard, right? Surely, what Dudley said couldn't possibly be true, right?

She hugged herself tighter, alert and cautious - although 'paranoid' would fit better - and flinching at every small creak and sound, how many of what she'd heard was actually just her over-reactive or not is better left unsaid to spare the poor child any shred of dignity. 

Eventually she fell asleep, clutching herself so hard that her crookedly grown nails dug into her paper thin skin and left marks, in the morning she would be yelled at for the dried blood on her arms. 

 

-

 

"Freak!" Petunia screeched at the tiny girl sprawled haphazardly on her nicely tiled floor, ugly purples and blues adorned her snowy white skin - she bore a disturbing resemblance to the manner of one of Picasso's many paintings. 

Petunia stared in disgust and hatred at the useless girl, the girl was truly over-dramatic and attention-seeking, just like her mother, well, that was what Petunia thought anyway. The girl was wasting time with her over exaggerations all because she was feeling lazy! It wasn't like her dear husband, Vernon, had done anything drastic - he just pushed her around and disciplined her. It was as much kindness as the freak deserved anyway.

"You wretched little girl!" Petunia shrilled, "Always causing problems for everybody else and acting like the bloody victim! Just like your whore of a mother!"

Seeing the girl groan and a fear tears slip past the girl's eyes and Petunia was reminded, vividly, of how her Know-It-All sister always cried and always got her way - like some bloody spoiled princess! That girl, had inherited Lily's freakiness and victim-personality, Petunia swore she would beat it all out. 

Petunia didn't bother to conceal her anger and bitterness, nor did she hold back any strength as she kicked the girl harshly in her abdomen, watching in annoyance as the girl whimpered and fresh tears sprouted all over again. Petunia threw another kick at the girl, not feeling quite as satisfied as she thought she would've with the girl's pain - instead of voicing her discontent, she instead demanded, "Get up, you freak! Didn't I tell you to weed the garden?! You're just as lazy as your mother, but not in my house! Me and Vernon will stamp that out of you if it's the last thing we do!"

Harry endured. 

 

-

 

You see, this poor pitiful girl didn't even know her name was 'Harriet'. All this time she'd simply believed it to be 'Freak' as that was what her relatives referred to her as but that very morning, after she'd finished making breakfast for the Dursley's, Petunia and Vernon had roughly pulled her aside and revealed to her, her name. Harriet had been shocked and more than a bit confused - how could Harriet be her name? She'd went under Freak her whole life, they couldn't simply think she would just give it up, right? It was one of the only things she could safely call her's as no one else was called 'Freak' - and she was quite content with that even if the Dursley's made it sound like an insult all the time.

But they truly had expected her to accept the new name. 

"Your name is Harriet, you got that, Freak?" Vernon had huffed, glaring down at her as what she could only identify as disgust and hatred. 

She'd been confused but knew better than to speak out of line. That was when Petunia had joined in. 

"If you go off and tell anyone that we call you 'freak' then you'll get a right beating! All right, you wretched girl?!" She'd shrilled, a nasty sneer marring her face. 

Harry nodded docilely, she was then informed that she would be entering a place called 'school' and that was where she'd been called the annoying new name, Harriet Potter - it had also been a surprise when she heard the last part of her name, she'd always assumed that 'Freak' was her only name - maybe it was her middle name?

That day, Dudley, her smelly, fat walrus of a cousin had started to spread nasty rumors about Harry and her 'freaskishness'. By the end of the school day, nobody liked Harry.

When she got back home, she returned to the name 'Freak' - which comforted her with its familiarity - and began the long list of chores that the Dursley's had ordered her to do.

The leftover scraps from Dudley's plate was all Harry ate that day.

 

-

 

Dudley had found himself a little squad of friends and they started this game called 'Harry Hunting' - Harry didn't really like that game.

Dudley was slow and instead of running he waddled like the ducks Harry learned about in class so Harry could outrun him sometimes but his friends were fast with longer legs than Harry and would always catch her for Dudley.

The first time Harry was introduced to the game, Piers - the second dumbest of the gang, Dudley being first - chased her all across the court yard until he finally caught her, the rest of the gang held her down while Dudley punched and kicked at her. Harry had thrashed in Piers and Dennis' hold, screamed and sobbed whilst pain exploded everywhere and her head spun dizzily as Dudley's gang chanted "Freak, Freak!" over and over again. 

But there was no rest, no sweet escape for Harry, darkness never came to claim her and so she remained conscious through the entire ordeal. 

Then the bell rang and Dudley and his gang rushed back for class - and it was over, except it wasn't and Harry also had to attend class lest she wanted a beating from her Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon.

So even as every part of her ached, Harry pulled herself up and limped to class. Unsurprisingly, she was late and the teacher glared at her sternly for her disheveled state and lateness - the entire class giggled as she got scolded by the teacher. It was embarrassing.

She soon realized that no teacher would ever help her escape the bullying.

 

-

 

After a couple more games of Harry Hunting and Harry soon came to realization that the library was a 'safe zone'. Once she could outrun Dudley and his gang and she reached the library, they would leave her alone. She figured it must be too much words and 'smart things' (as Dudley called them) that confused them too much for them to actually do anything. 

Not to mention the teacher that supervised the library - a pin drop could make that woman start shrieking as shrilly as Petunia. Harry figured that Dudley and his gang must be afraid of the woman, Harry would've laughed if she too wasn't afraid of the woman. 

It was in the library that Harry met her first friend. A boy who was about an inch taller than - everyone was taller than Harry - with a messy mop of brown hair, oval shaped glasses that he wore over his wide blue eyes and a thick brown covered book that he always carried with.

"Hello," He introduced with a meek smile, "My name's Jack."

Harry cautiously smiled back to, giddiness welled up in her stomach as she eagerly replied, "My name's Frea- I mean, Harriet! Call me Harry, please."

Everything went absolutely wonderful after that. Jack introduced her to the world of books and often they would talk and talk over anything and everything they could think of. Those were the happiest moments of Harry's life.

 

-

 

Dudley and his gang had been annoyed and angry at Harry for always escaping to the library - one time when they spied her and Jack hanging out in class and that was when everything began to spiral back into despair. 

That lunch, Dudley and his gang actually followed Harry into the library and saw her sharing a book with Jack. They corned the both of them and dragged them out of the library. 

"Hey, I know you - you're that weirdo Jack, right?" Piers sneered and Harry saw Jack flinch, paling terribly. 

"B-Back off!" Harry attempted to be brave, standing in front of Jack protectively, though her knees were trembling and face awfully pale. 

"Awww, little wittle Scar-Face is def-defend, er... standing up for her friend!" Dennis mocked, stumbling on a word that he'd heard his mother say before simply giving up and saying something else. 

"So Jackie over here is Freak's friend?" Gorden leered at Jack who was cowering behind Harry. 

"Yeah!" Dudley agreed - probably because he didn't have anything smarter to say, "You 'einds with dah freak?!"

"S-Shut u-up-" Harry began but was interrupted by her dear friend. 

"N-No!" Jack rebuffed. 

Harry gasped in shock and betrayal, face contorting into one of disbelief and anger, "...What...?" It was barely a whisper. 

Piers cackled, "I guess even weirdos don't like freaks, huh?"

Harry stiffened, still staring at the boy who'd been her friend for two whole months - just waiting for when he'd say 'Just Kidding' and proclaim himself her friend proudly. Was that to much to ask? Surely he wasn't just acting all those times...right? What about all those books they'd read together. What about all the times they'd hung out in the library, just chatting and joking around. Was he ashamed of her? Was that why he never discouraged meeting only in the library and never talked to her much outside of it?

Was he ashamed of her?

Did he pity her?

Was that it?

The rest of Dudley's gang laughed and Jack refused to meet her gaze, sweating profusely and blue orbs darting everywhere but the piercing stare of her emerald green eyes, sharp like daggers. 

After that, Dudley's gang allowed Jack to scamper off - who never once looked back at her - and then proceeded to stamp out of her the precious hope and gaiety that had filled her ever since Jack had introduced himself to her, the precious hope and gaiety that she'd guarded away from the poisonous Dursley's. 

At the end of it all, Dudley and the Dursley's had succeeded. Not only had they beaten out of her that gaiety and hope that she'd treasured above all else - they'd burned it all away until all that was left was -

ashes 

And then, like a great phoenix, she'd been reborn and when all was said and done - she'd pulled herself back together and stood above her ashes - jaded but triumphant.