Harry wasn't an only child, but had an identical twin, who died at birth. He's been hanging around ever since.
"Boy! Get your arse out here!"
Groaning, Harry sat up, waving the dust out of his face as Dudley began his morning ritual of jumping up and down on the stairs above his head. "Yes, Uncle Vernon," he called, still half-asleep.
The ten-year-old yawned and stretched as far as the small cupboard would allow. He threw off his thin blanket as the cupboard door flew open, and his uncle shoved his puce-colored face inside. "Still in bed, you lazy little worm? Dudley needs his breakfast! Now!"
Harry winced as he was pulled roughly through the door, knowing there would be bruises later from Vernon's grip. Shaking him off, the boy went in to the kitchen and started pulling out everything he would need to make breakfast. As he fried the bacon, the rest of his dysfunctional little family trundled in, sending their relative contemptuous glances.
Harry himself nearly laughed. As if he was the one who deserved contempt, when he was the only person in the house who looked like an actual human being! Between Vernon's close resemblance to a bear, Aunt Petunia's imitation of a stork, and Dudley's successful attempt to emulate a pig in both appearance and personality, being a scrawny, half-blind kid felt downright normal.
The green-eyed boy jumped as Dudley snuck up behind him and yelled in his ear, biting his lip in pain as some of the hot grease in the pan decided to splash on him. Cursing mentally, since doing it out loud would be inviting a cuff around the ears from his uncle, Harry set the pan carefully back on the burner. The boy ignored his cousin's loud guffaws as he turned on the sink and ran his stinging arm under the cool water.
And to think, this was actually a good day so far.
The last good day, for a long while. Today, the last day of the school year, had come all too soon for his liking. Harry didn't even want to think about what the summer would be like, when he had to spend the entire day around the Dursleys.
At least next year he'd finally be rid of that giant porker still sniggering behind him. Dudley had been accepted into his father's old private academy after some strings were pulled, while Harry was headed off to the local secondary school, Stonewall High. And it could have been worse, he told himself. He could be going to that other school instead, the one Uncle Vernon had threatened him with, the one for incurably criminal boys.
Speaking of whom, shouldn't his uncle be yelling at him right about...
"Boy! Give my Dudley his breakfast and go get ready for school. You're enough of a disgrace as it is without turning up looking like that."
Harry winced as he congratulated himself on his perfect timing. "Yes, Uncle Vernon," he called back, ladling the bacon onto a plate. Careful no one was watching, he slipped a piece into his sleeve for breakfast later on.
Soon after, he was leaning inside his cupboard, pulling out his usual oversized, hand-me-down clothes and eating the slice of bacon while he couldn't be caught.
A few minutes later the boy was again doing his best not to cry out in pain. It was rather difficult, though, since Aunt Petunia just happened to be grasping him by the arm in the exact same place that Dudley had spilled blisteringly hot grease on. The woman dragged him out the front door, looking both ways to make sure the neighbors weren't watching. Seeing that the coast was clear, she propelled him forward with a quick push.
"Well, what are you waiting for?" she shrilled, opening the car's passenger door for his fat behemoth of a cousin. "Get walking already! And don't you dare be late!" She gestured to the sidewalk.
Unsurprised, Harry just nodded wearily, and took off on the two-mile hike to school as his aunt drove Dudley to the same place.
He watched the familiar cracks in the sidewalk travel past his feet. He knew each and every one of them- how this one split in two, and headed off to the north; that one, the place were someone had once dropped something heavy, and smashed the concrete into something that looked awfully close to Uncle Vernon's face when he was truly angry.
But then, he should know them. After all, Harry'd been walking this route since he first started primary school, while Dudley was always driven by either Aunt Petunia or Uncle Vernon. The ten-year-old smirked sardonically. Honestly, it was no surprise that the boy was so fat. It certainly wasn't like his parents ever let him get any exercise.
No wonder that Harry was so thin, either, come to think of it. Between the four mile walk every day to and from school, and the Harry Hunting before, during, and after, there was no way any food could possibly stay on his bones...
He shook his head, driving the half-bitter thoughts from his mind. There was no point in thinking about it, really. Harry could never escape the Dursleys, not until he reached his majority, at least. His family always took great joy in telling him there was no one else who would take him in; that all of his father's family was dead with the man, and no one on their side of the family would ever want him. And while Harry knew the Dursleys hated him, and often lied to him and others, he could hear the ring of truth in those words.
Hell, he'd even considered trying to get sent to an orphanage, like his uncle had so often threatened to do. But who'd adopt someone whose own family told everyone in earshot was a criminal in the making and hopelessly disturbed?
"Moping again, are we?" Harry looked up at the mocking, yet friendly words, and smiled.
"Oh, just a little," he answered sarcastically. "After this I'm condemned to another summer with the folks, remember? What could I possibly have to despair over?"
The other snorted, running a hand through his messy hair. "Depends on your point of view, I suppose... After all, you're the one who likes school."
Harry rolled his eyes in exasperation. "How could you possibly know whether you like school or not? You never stick around long enough during the classes to find out."
Across the street, an elderly couple gave him odd looks and hurried their grandchildren into the house. Harry's lips quirked dryly, but he wasn't angry. He was used to it. And it wasn't like they didn't have reason.
This time the other, nearly identical boy laughed. Through his transparent body, Harry could see the school approaching in the distance. "Depends on how you look at it, I s'pose..." James said easily, colorless eyes wide and innocent.
The green-eyed boy shook his head fondly, staring at his brother. How could he possibly fault the regular people for thinking he was crazy, when he really was?
After all, how many people could see ghosts?