Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Escape1 Reviews
Harry comes back from his fifth year to a changed household. What happened to Dudley, and why is he so desperate to make Harry go away? Post-OotP, mild changes to ending of OotP, AU, rating just to...
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or anything related.
A/N: Thanks to Ham, LunaMoon224 and Insecurity for betaing this for me.
Harry watched as the Order members walked away. He was touched by their actions, but didn't like the look on Vernon's face. Once all magical people were out of his sight, Vernon turned to Harry.
"Well? What are you waiting for, boy? Get in the car!" Uncle Vernon glared at Harry as he put his trunk in the booth. Hedwig was flying home but her cage was in the trunk. He barely had time to enter the car before his uncle drove off. Harry sat quietly in the backseat, too lost in thought to pay attention to his Uncle's muttering. His Aunt Petunia was glaring at him in the side mirror, but he didn't care. There was too much pain in his chest; too much anguish in his heart for him to be influenced by one of his aunt's glares.
He did notice that he was alone in the back of the car, but chalked it off to Dudley being himself and preferring to spend time in the park, tormenting little children. After all, why should Petunia force her little Diddykins to travel all the way to London to pick up a freak?
"That freak thinks he can do that to me!" grumbled Vernon. Harry's eyes shot to him the moment he heard the word freak, and a small ball of dread made itself felt in his stomach. This was not going to end well.
"Telling me what to do... ha! I'll show them."
Vernon's hands were gripping the steering wheel tightly, his knuckles white, and what Harry could see of his face was slowly turning purple. He made himself appear small on his seat, hoping that the trip would end soon, but at the same time dreading that end. The countryside flew past the window, but none of the car's passengers paid attention to it. Petunia was busy yelling at Vernon to not kill her, and Harry was too lost in thought to care about their speed.
With a screech and a smell of burnt tires, Vernon stopped the car in front of Number Four, Privet Drive. Harry took his trunk and started dragging it inside the house, again lost in thought. That was why he was startled when somebody took his trunk from his hand, while another hand grabbed his neck, pinning him to the wall.
"Listen to me, and listen to me well, boy," Uncle Vernon growled. "I give you food; I give you a place to stay and clothes to wear. Nobody else gave you that, and NOBODY HAS THE RIGHT TO TELL ME WHAT I DO IN MY HOUSE!" he ended in a bellow. The hand around Harry's neck was painful, and his breathing became labored because of it. "I would kick you out before you taint us even more with your... unnaturalness. But Petunia says that if you live here we are protected. You will send the letter every three days. You will stay in your room unless otherwise instructed. You will join us for meals, but I don't want to know of you the rest of the time." His fingers tightened around Harry's throat. "Do you understand me, boy?"
Harry forced himself to nod, although it was painful to move his bruised neck. He scrambled up the stairs, dragging his trunk after him, his breath coming in rasping gasps. Once inside his room he set his trunk down in its usual place, and collapsed on the bed, reaching to gently rub his aching neck. He could barely believe that his uncle had the courage to do something like that. Sure, he had been beaten before, and yelled at, and even worse. But his uncle hadn't seemed afraid of the Order's threats. They'd just made him angry. And who was the usual scapegoat in the Dursley household, if not one Harry Potter, bloody Boy-Who-Lived, local delinquent, wizarding lunatic and over-all a bad person to be around?
He chuckled grimly at the thought of his uncle being the one who got in trouble for being around Harry. Too many good people had been hurt because of that. It was about time for someone who actually deserved it to be hurt.
Fully dressed and with his hands on his bruised neck, Harry fell into a restless sleep, dreaming of Sirius hexing the Dursleys and being sent to Azkaban for it. A voice would call for Harry and somebody was screaming -
"BOY! STOP THAT RACKET OR I'LL STOP IT FOR YOU!"
Harry gasped and awoke, rolling off the bed his wand in hand before he had time to register what he was seeing.
What he saw was, of course, his room, lit by the silver starlight shining through his window. There was a dresser - battered down and with a door that wouldn't stay closed without the scotch holding it - a small desk, Hedwig's perch on his bed with the nightstand. It was all refreshingly normal and completely in the ordinary.
But someone was screaming... No, whimpering.
Unfortunately, Harry knew exactly how that felt, having experienced it many, many times, waking up from nightmares; ones where everybody around him died; where everybody abandoned him; where they chased him away, saying he was a freak, something that should be put down.
Those nightmares had stopped a long time ago, mostly. Now the nightmares contained Sirius and Cedric, and the Department of Mysteries.
He crept to the door and opened it slightly, just in time to see the door to the senior Dursley's bedroom open and Vernon stomp out. He immediately shut the door and hid behind it. If Vernon was coming in there, he was in for a nasty surprise. Harry would obey Vernon's rules, but he was not going to become a punching bag. Not again.
A door creaked open, and for a moment Harry thought his ears were deceiving him. Was Vernon yelling at Dudley?
He stood there, stunned, listening to Vernon's mostly incoherent shouts, until the man decided he was again ready for sleep and went back to his room. Harry sprawled on his bed, thoughts of sleep gone from his head.
Vernon had yelled at Dudley. He'd heard "freak" and "disgrace" used quite often in Vernon's rant, so something pretty bad had happened to Dudley. But the question was what? He couldn't be a wizard, Harry was sure he'd have known, even if it was under the form of accidental magic during one of Dudley's tantrums. What else could make his parents be angry with Dudley this much? What had Dudley done?
His musings were interrupted by a noise on the stairs - there was one he's gotten used to jumping, because it creaked - and he tip-toed to his door, easing it open. He was just in time to see a figure open Dudley's room, and slip inside. From what Harry could see, it was almost as thin as he was, and the clothes hung loosely on the frame of the figure, which was taller than Harry.
A moment later, the figure turned to close the door behind him, and Harry gasped. Under filthy blond hair was a face he knew very well; a face that had filled his childhood with pain and fear.
But Dudley Dursley looked very different. His cheeks were sunken in, his eyes were ringed with black, his lips were cracked, and from what Harry could see, his hands were trembling on the small piece of bread he had taken from the kitchen downstairs.
Harry frowned for a second, thinking what could have brought such a change in Dudley. The look in the boy's eyes was disturbingly familiar. He'd seen it in his own eyes. The look of somebody who was close to snapping, close to giving up, but couldn't. Yes, Harry knew that look. He also knew how it felt to wait until everybody was asleep to sneak into the kitchen to get something to eat, no matter what, only to make the pain in his belly stop.
Looking at Dudley's gaunt face, and thin figure, he shuddered at the thought of what the fat boy had gone through to get to this point.
"H-Harry?" his voice was hoarse, and Harry could barely hear the words. "Y-You won't t-tell?" The hand holding the piece of bread was shaking even more, Harry saw, and Dudley's eyes were desperate. What had gotten the boy to this stage? Not even the Dursleys were that bad, were they?
He decided that he'd find out tomorrow. Dudley looked about ready to collapse, and Harry didn't want Vernon to wake up again. "I won't tell, Dudley," he whispered, and watched as Dudley retreated into his room.
He sighed and sat on his bed, pondering the events that had taken place. Hedwig chose that moment to come back from her hunt, and she perched on his shoulder, proudly offering him a mouse. He smiled at her and took the mouse by its tail, carrying it to her cage. She'd eat it later.
After making sure she had water and was comfortable - as comfortable as an owl could be - he stripped and got under the light blanket on his bed.
The bruises on his neck, while painful if he prodded them, didn't hurt if when he breathed, so he decided to try to sleep. After all, he had a mystery to solve in the morning. Mystery. Department of Mysteries. Sirius.
He didn't cry. He'd done that. Instead, he thought. He thought about Sirius, the man he'd known. He thought about his tales of the Hogwarts years, the tales of adventures and detentions and pranks successfully pulled. He thought about a dog that chased the Hogwarts Express, tongue lolling. He thought about a man singing a carol with a Hippogriff in it. He thought about that same man, riding a Hippogriff to his freedom. He thought about a boy, running foolishly to save a godfather. He thought about guilt, and about punishment. And he made decisions, and accepted facts.
Harry sighed and whispered two words before sleep claimed him.
If someone with really good hearing had been listening, they would have heard a sharp, bark-like laugh that echoed in the room, followed by a happy feminine sigh. But Harry Potter slept, at peace with himself, and nobody could hear anything, so maybe they weren't real.