HP/Lemony Snicket's ASoUE: A story of orphans, escaped convicts, and a secret, for Wednesday's children are full of woe...
Arabella Figg had a lot of cats.
There were shorthaired and long, purebreds and strays, calicos and tortoiseshells and marmalades. They were everywhere you looked, and liked to follow you around, their steps measured with the dignity only a cat could possess. They couldn't be counted, even, because some would be there one day and then gone the next, only to reappear the day after with a smug "Guess where I've been?" look on their faces.
Still, though, Klaus found it comforting. If their newest caretaker hadn't had some kind of neurosis, then he would have worried. Neighborhood cat lady was nothing compared to some of the last adults charged with their care.
Especially since other than the pets she kept, Mrs. Figg ("Call me Arabella, dear," but Klaus was still a bit uncomfortable around her) seemed the best of their guardians to date, except for poor Uncle Monty. She'd only seemed a little surprised the first time she'd found Sunny chewing, though Klaus had taken careful note of the thoughtful way she looked at the deep tooth marks in the fork.
The two older Boudelaire children were mostly left to their own devices, which suited them just fine. Violet buried herself in her room, which she shared with Sunny, inventing to her heart's content while Klaus had a few books he'd bought with his allowance, and permission from Mrs. Figg to walk down to the library a mile away whenever he wanted so long as he told someone where he was going.
It was on one of those trips that he met a younger boy named Mark Evans. Mark lived on Magnolia Crescent, a street over, but he liked to play in the park during the summer. He was the one who showed Klaus around the neighborhood and warned him about the local gang, a group of boys Klaus's age who liked to run around beating up those weaker than themselves and doing poorly-designed graffiti, and who were led by a boy named Dudley Dursley. Mark showed him all the best places to hide from them for some peace and quiet, but by far Klaus's favorite was the little area in back of the park where the swing set was. He found it to be a great place to just sit and think.
The summer was unusually warm, so it was rare to find people outside, and only once did he ever find anyone already sitting on a swing. Klaus just shrugged and would have joined him, but Mark grabbed his arm and wouldn't let go. "What is wrong with you?" Klaus finally hissed after a minute of tug-a-war.
"You can't go over there!" the boy replied, his eyes wide and frightened. "That's /Harry Potter/!"
Klaus blinked. "And who the blazes is Harry Potter?"
Mark shivered. "He's a /criminal/," he whispered. "Everyone knows about /him/. He goes to a school for incurably criminal boys. My dad told me to stay away from him, and if he ever talked to me to tell Dad right away."
Klaus glanced again at the slumped figure swinging listlessly in the distance. He didn't look that dangerous... "What did he do?"
Mark gave him a blank look. "Do?"
"You know, what crime did he commit? The one that 'everyone knows about'?" Klaus had to sigh as the other boy only shrugged. So much for everyone knowing. Maybe he'd ask Mrs. Figg about it later.
Yeah, so it was none of his business, but something about the situation smelled fishy. And if there was one thing the Boudelaire children shared, it was a more-than-healthy dose of curiosity.
He decided to bring up the conversation during dinner that night. Violet fed Sunny her dinner with that abstract look on her face that said, while her body might be at the table, her mind was somewhere in the bowels of an invention. Mrs. Figg set the table with an excellent pot roast that Klaus spent the first few minutes eagerly devouring.
The fourteen-year-old's chance came when his guardian asked him how his day had gone. "Well..." he began, suddenly picking at his food as his interest was directed elsewhere. "I saw a boy in the park today. Mark wouldn't let me go talk to him. He said the boy's name was Harry Potter, and that he was some sort of criminal-"
There was a loud bang/, as Mrs. Figg angrily smacked her glass down onto the table. "That is a vicious lie, and I'll /not have you repeating such in this house!" she said, her eyes flashing. It was the first time she'd been anything but pleasant in their presence, and all three of the children watched her with wide eyes. "Harry Potter is the only good apple out of a family of bad ones. I've no idea how those people managed to raise a boy like that, I truly don't."
The woman bent her head to her meal, savagely cutting into her roast. "Harry's a sweet boy, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a damn fool," she told her plate.
"Sounds like there are an awful lot of fools around here, then."
"So you know this Harry, then?" Violet asked over her sister's gabbling. She might never have met the child, but she couldn't help but feel sympathetic towards anyone who was treated in such a way without doing anything to deserve it.
Mrs. Figg nodded, seeming to regain some of her calm. "Whenever that family of his has to go somewhere, they usually leave him with me. I don't mind, he's always very polite, but if whatever they're off to has even an element of fun in it, they refuse to take him along."
Klaus could feel a frown spreading over his face. "You keep mentioning his family. Who are they?"
Their guardian grimaced. "The Dursleys. They live on Privet Drive."
Klaus knew that name. "Dursley, as in that porker Dudley who runs around beating up anyone who's smaller than he is?" This was most everyone who wasn't at least a couple of years older than the brat, considering just how much he massed.
Mrs. Figg's lips tightened. "That awful child. He nearly ran me over with his bike once, did you know? And me hobbling about with a broken leg at the time, too."
Klaus picked at his slice of roast, taking a bite as he thought about that lonely, contained boy on the swing. "Would it be all right if I talked to him, ma'am?"
She blinked at him for a moment, startled, before smiling with pleasure. "It'd be more than all right, Klaus. In fact, why don't you invite him over for tea? It's been a bit since he's come over."
The boy nodded. "I'll do that," he assured her, and then bent back to his dinner with a new gusto. Tomorrow he'd look for Harry in the park again, maybe take a stroll along Privet Drive. It shouldn't be that hard to find him.
And then it'd be time to make a new friend.
Author's Note: This is the end of what had already been written. Future updates will be posted as they're finished.