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the night sky was clear and warm, bringing with it the usual aromas of dinners
being barbequed outdoors, roses in bloom and freshly mowed lawns. the sounds of
children running through the alley, gravel crunching beneath the tires of
expensive cars and night birds calling for silence echoed up the distance to the
second floor window, left open for the return of a large white owl. all was calm
and peaceful. summer had arrived at last and brought with it a cooler june than
last year, but hot nevertheless. sitting in front of the window, several pieces of
parchment strung about the old desk, was a rather good-looking young man with jet
black hair that seemed to have a mind of its own; never straight, always messy.
beneath the bangs hanging over his forehead that was long overdue for trimming,
was hiding an unusual mark, one given to him as a baby to mark him as an equal.
harry potter, the-boy-who-lived, the-boy-who-battled-the-dark-lord was now the- boy-who-grew-up. a huge accomplishment for a young man nearing his seventeenth birthday. an even larger accomplishment for any man who had spent the past six years battling the darkest, most evil wizard known to history.
the top of the old desk held several letters, both received and written. a small
dimly lit lamp sat next to him, illuminating the contents with a soft glow. a
picture of an attractive young red head smiled up at him from where it sat on the
desk, waving to him from its magical canvas. ginny weasley, the only girl in his
life, the only girl he ever loved and knew he ever would, had fought by his side
for two years running. she had proven herself a worthy adversary, a strong
independent and determined witch and a very passionate lover. beside her stood
another picture of two people smiling happily from their frame. they too waved
magically back to him, the man much like harry had messy black hair and woman,
very beautiful and happy with red hair. his parents, killed by voldemort,
sacrificed to save his life. guilt was a constant with harry, who turned away from
the sight to look back out the window.
against the wall to his right sat a small, unmade bed. sheets lay stacked in a
folded pile atop the mattress, with the thin blanket and flat, uncomfortable
pillow on top. at the foot of the small bed was a large wooden trunk, the lid open
to reveal the number of books, clothes, pictures and a thin sleek looking
broomstick. robes of red and gold, black and velvet lay folded neatly in one
corner of the box, packages of cakes, candies and tricks stacked tightly opposite
them. books with unusual names like "magical theories throughout the ages", "magic
creatures past and present" and "defense against the dark arts: volume seven", lay
among the rest of the items in the center. among the belongings, a thin black
piece of wood laid on top the clothes, while another, an older brown one lay next
to it. wands, toys to the common child, held great powers and magic when used by
one skilled and trained in such tasks. if anyone were to look into the trunk, they
would think its contents odd, but to harry it was his life.
sounds of anger made their way up the stairs and through the closed door. the booming voice of uncle vernon was nothing unusual, nor was the whining tone of dudley. aunt petunia's pitiful cries of complaints and excuses mingled in the
middle of the other two and harry listened, shaking his head in disgust. mrs.
mcpherson, the new neighbor who had moved in next door during the winter, along
with her two young sons, listened at the shouting from her backyard, where she was
digging in the garden. she sat up when she heard vernon shouting about another
shirt ruined by a careless iron and dudley complain that he would have to drop out
of his boxing matches, due to his sudden weight loss. the woman, from what harry
had overheard petunia complaining about, was a young divorcee, "a tramp on the
run" as she explained it. she and her young children, michael aged seven and
daniel aged five had moved from scotland to be closer to her family and start
over. there had been a number of run-ins between the two families since summer
began and dudley had returned home from school.
michael had been the favorite punching bag of the robust dudley for the past three
weeks. even the police had come to intervene on two separate occasions. mrs.
mcpherson had warned vernon and petunia, that if her boys sported one more black
eye, one more bruise or one more item stolen (bikes had been taken and sold by
dudley and his friends last week) she would file charges and have the bully
arrested. since then, vernon and petunia had been forced to keep 'duddykins'
inside or in the back yard. neither of which he liked much and made certain
everyone knew it. it didn't help to make amends between the two neighbors after
harry returned home. mrs. mcpherson had heard the rumors spread by the dursleys
about him and where he spent his summer months, but a sudden halt had come to all
of them the week he returned from hogwart's.
harry was doing his usual chores, pulling weeds, cleaning the front lawn, mowing
and spreading manure when a car belonging to dudley's friend roland (a new boy
converted by the group of thugs) came racing down the street. daniel had been out
in the street while his older brother michael taught him to use his new roller
blades he'd gotten for his birthday the day before. michael had managed to get out
of the street, but that left little daniel alone and terrified as a racing car
sped toward him. harry had seen this and using the wand he had always kept hidden
in the pocket of his pants, he managed to cause the engine to explode, the bonnet
to flip up and the car to spin out of control, running dead on into vernon's new
company car. harry ran into the street, gathering the boy in his strong arms and
pulling him out of danger. once he was certain the two boys were safe, he stormed
over to dudley's friend, who was crawling out of the smashed car. by now the
dursleys and their neighbors were outside watching. vernon was shouting about his
car and dudley was laughing at the spectacle his friend made.
without thought of consequences, harry moved toward the scene filled with laughter
from dudley and roland and shouting from vernon and petunia. he stepped up between
the oversized figure of dudley and his tall scrawny, blond haired friend. the look
of intent anger blazed in harry's emerald eyes and the two stopped laughing
immediately. harry drew his arm back, letting it swing full force into the
pointed, earring clad face of roland. the boy staggered backwards, his nose broken
and bleeding, tears streaming down his face. dudley took a step backwards as harry
turned to face him. thinking him clever, the fat fist of his cousin curled and
swung toward harry, who ducked easily out of the way, bringing a fist of his own
up into the other boy's blubbery stomach. dudley gasped for air and tried to stand
up, but was caught by a second blow, harder and filled with years of penned up
anger, square in his face. petunia screeched, vernon roared and dudley cried.
much as come near another child, i'll have worse for you than you've already had."
roland staggered back to his busted up car, tossing the fender into the broken
side window, before turning the key. the engine turned over after several tries,
growling painfully to life. harry watched as he drove it out of private drive,
clunking and clinging as it left. he rounded on dudley and his parents, fists
balled and a look of warning they had never seen shining on his face.
"get a broom and dustbin and clean up this mess," harry ordered. vernon stood up
from where he leaned across his bleeding son inspecting his broken nose,
confronting harry face to face.
"how dare you boy?" he snarled. "who do you think you are, raising a hand to my
son? i've had enough of you and your kind. i want you out of my house
"i'll leave when it's time and not a second before," harry said in a soft, deadly
tone. he stood his ground against vernon, his anger matching and defeating the
older man's temper. vernon stared at harry; open mouthed and gasping for something
to say. his face a deep shade of purple, his eyes wide with disbelief. "if you had
better control over that fat elephant, this would never have happened," harry
continued, just loud enough for the neighbors to hear, who smiled and chuckled
behind them. "he has terrorized every child within five kilometers and it's time
it stopped. and for your information," he continued, this time low enough the
neighbors couldn't hear him. "my kind would have turned that tub of lard into a
greased pig and barbequed him over an open pit."
harry returned to the two boys standing near their mother, sobbing into her
skirts. he knelt down to them, ignoring the whispers of those watching and gently
touched their shoulders.
"you'll be all right," harry promised them, smiling as they turned tear soaked
faces toward him. "if that hippo so much as looks at you cross eyed, you tell me
and i'll take care of him. all right?" the boys smiled, hugging harry's neck
"how can i ever thank you?" mrs. mcpherson asked, tears choking in her throat. harry smiled at her before he stood up and glanced across his shoulder to see dudley, broom in hand sweeping up the broken glass.
"don't worry about it, i'm just glad i was out here," he told her with a smile
more friendlily than she would have expected from the neighbors 'delinquent
nephew'. the woman smiled back, reaching up and hugging the young man's neck,
tears dripping to his shirtless shoulder.
since that day, the neighbors made a point of smiling and waving to harry whenever
he was out. no more thought was given to the rumors and lies spread by the
dursleys. mrs. mcpherson brought him iced teas and lemonade, cookies, biscuits and
cakes when she saw him slaving away in the front yard, making vernon insist he
remain in the backyard if he ever wanted to leave the house again, which of course
he didn't. mrs. figg stopped by a number of times, smiling and patting harry on
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