Chapter 1 of 21
Four boys of around sixteen years old were seated inside one of the rooms of a Manor looking thoroughly bored. They were all lying down either on the bed, the couch or the floor looking gloomily outside where a storm had been going on since morning and apparently had no intention of stopping any time soon.
“Ouch,” said one of the two black headed boys, that was on the bed, and the other three boys looked at him.
“Sirius?” asked the brown headed boy that was next to him.
“This fell on my head,” Sirius said pointing at a stack of papers and rubbing his head.
“What’s that?” James asked.
“Don’t know,” answered Remus who was examining the papers, “looks like muggle paper. Oh look, it’s a story.”
“A book?” Peter asked wearily, “Don’t read Moony! My dad says there are dangerous books around.”
“It’s not a book, the papers are all lose,” Sirius rolled his eyes, “How do you know the order?”
“Here see; there are chapter numbers and then on top of the page says Page 1 of 10,” Remus pointed out.
“Why do you think that is?” James asked sitting on the bed for a better look, “Look here, says published date 09-11-04, do you think that’s from 1904?”
“No can’t be, down here on the page there’s another date that says 10-20-2004. Hey this is from the future!” Sirius exclaimed.
“That’s dangerous. You’re not supposed to know the future,” Peter said from his spot on the floor.
“Oh, let’s read the future book,” Sirius cried excitedly and James was nodding fervently.
“Ok, let’s see what this Ksomm814 has to say,” Remus said getting ready to read.
“Ks- what?” Sirius asked.
“That’s the author’s name,” Remus replied.
“What kind of name is that?” James asked and Remus shrugged.
“You want to read or not?” Remus asked.
James and Sirius nodded, Peter looked uncertain.
Disclaimer: This story is based on the Prisoner of Azkaban, which is not mine.
“So if it’s not hers or his why are they writing?” Peter asked.
“I don’t know, I’ve only read a phrase and got interrupted,” Remus answered annoyed.
“Who do you think that Prisoner guy is?” Sirius asked.
“How am I supposed to know from ONE phrase?” Remus asked.
“Because you’re Moony,” James stated.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Remus asked.
“You know everything,” James answered.
“No I don’t.”
“Sure act like you do,” Sirius mumbled and was smacked on the head by Remus.
“But summer is never painful. Summer is sunny, and warm,“ James said.
“WILL YOU LET ME READ?” Remus shouted.
“Ok,ok. Someone’s touchy.”
For the third time this week a skinny, short black haired, bespectacled boy was weeding the garden of his Aunt, Petunia Dursley at Number Four, Privet Drive. Most people paid no attention to the nearly teenager who worked from sunrise to sunset regardless of any pain or exhaustion he may be feeling. All of them knew he was nothing more than a troublemaker.
How wrong they were.
Harry Potter wasn't like most children his age.
“Potter? Hey do you think he’s my relative?” James asked.
“Don’t know? Maybe,” Sirius said.
“Hey, they are using him like a house elf. Stop that!” James shouted at the page.
“They can’t hear you,” Remus explained. James shrugged.
Besides the scar on his forehead that was shaped like a bolt of lightening, Harry was a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. A school that nearly all Muggles (non-magic folk) had never even heard of. None of them knew that he was a wizard in training or even the fact that witches and wizards exist which was why Harry's Aunt and Uncle lied to everyone about where Harry actually went to school.
“Why do they lie?” Peter asked.
“Muggles are not supposed to know about us. I think there is some sort of cover story that the Muggles say to explain Hogwarts. I’ll ask Lily,” Remus said.
“Why does she talk to you?” James asked.
“Because we’re both prefects.”
“Why doesn’t she talk to me?” he asked.
“I think the phrase was, “you make me sick Potter”,” Sirius said shrugging sympathetically. James scowled.
Usually Harry was proud of his heritage but not this summer.
“Why not? Be proud of our heritage Harry, very proud!” James cried. Remus glared at him and he shut up.
One week into his summer vacation he had received a phone call from his friend, Ron Weasley. Unfortunately, his Uncle Vernon had answered the phone. After nearly an hour of yelling at how dare those 'freaks' call and prove their 'abnormality', Harry was punished…severely. He still had bruises from that punishment.
“That’s, that’s, -- CHILD ABUSE!” Sirius shouted and the other three looked horrified at the book.
The night after the phone call incident Harry had sent his owl, Hedwig, off to stay at Ron's. The last thing Harry needed was to anger his uncle more. Since then Harry had been given a strict chore list and was punished if he didn't complete it by dusk.
That was three weeks ago and the chore lists were only getting longer.
In addition to the heavy chore work, Harry also had homework which his aunt and uncle would punish severely if they caught him doing.
“Mum never punishes me for doing homework,” James said shaking his head, “Wish she would forbid me to do homework and order me to only have fun.”
“I don’t think that is Harry’s case,” Remus said sadly.
That left the late hours of the night and early hours of the morning when everyone else was sleeping, times when Harry desperately needed to rest.
Harry let out an exhausted sigh as his wiped the sweat off of his forehead with his sleeve. Today, like every day for the past week had been scorching hot. His uncle was currently at work while his aunt and cousin, Dudley, were out doing whatever they usually did during the day. No one bothered keeping Harry informed and Harry really didn't care. Just as long as they weren't bothering him.
Finally finishing the garden, Harry sat down on the lawn, wincing in pain as he did so, and pulled out the list of chores from his pocket. It was late afternoon and he still needed to clean the garage and make dinner. If the wizarding world could only see me now, he thought bitterly.
Knowing he couldn't wait much longer, Harry put the list back in his pocket and slowly stood up. The garage was going to take at least a few hours, possibly longer considering how sore his ribs were today. It amazed Harry how quickly three people could mess things up. Cleaning the garage was a weekly chore.
Harry let out another sigh as he slowly limped to the garage, his right leg throbbing in pain. He was certain Uncle Vernon had broken a bone and since it had been 'Harry's fault', medical attention was out of the question.
“WHAT!!” the boys yelled
“Take him to a doctor!” Sirius cried.
“They can’t or the authorities will know what they did and arrest them for child abuse,” Remus explained, “Besides, I think they like knowing he’s in pain.”
“That’s sick,” James said.
Deep down Harry was starting to wonder if it was indeed his fault. His uncle had been strict and harsh before but never like this. How could one simple phone call push a man to the extreme?
“No you’re not at fault Harry. You’re Uncle is WRONG,” James cried, “Someone has to save my relative. Where am I? I wouldn’t let that happen.”
“Maybe you don’t know,” Peter offered.
Entering the garage, Harry didn't notice a pair of blue eyes watching every painful move he made, wanting nothing more than to rush to the boy's side and tell him everything
“Then do that, whoever you are. What are you waiting for?” James said exasperated.
but knowing he needed to be patient. This boy was nothing more than a slave and sooner or later he would need help. That much was certain.
Just like every night, Harry served dinner for his 'family' then went outside to eat a sandwich he had made for himself. He knew better than to hope for any leftovers, especially with Dudley eating like he was. Despite his diet, Dudley was still as fat as ever and didn't look like he would be losing any weight soon.
Lying down on the lawn and looking up at the stars, Harry silently told himself that it could always get worse. He knew he was going to have a hard time explaining his injuries as it was. How many people would believe the 'I fell down the stairs' excuse?
“Then tell them Harry. Tell Dumbledore, he’ll help.” Remus said.
“Why are you allowed to make commentaries and we’re not?” Sirius asked.
“Because I am reading.”
Harry was about to take a bite out of his sandwich when he felt like he was being watched. Ignoring the pain and sore muscles, Harry sat up and looked around. He was about to hurry inside when the sound of an animal whining in the nearby bushes caught his attention.
Slowly and carefully, Harry approached the bushes and knelt down. His head was screaming at him to leave the possibly dangerous creature but something in his heart told him to help the animal. He needed to help this animal.
Pushing the bushes back, Harry looked down to see a large black dog laying down in the brush and was looking at him with sorrowful blue eyes.
“That’s me!” Sirius said excitedly, “I came to save Harry.”
“Thank you Padfoot. My family appreciates that,” James said hugging Sirius.
“Wouldn’t have done any different.”
“You don’t know that’s actually you,“ Remus pointed out.
“Of course that’s me.”
Remus shrugged and continued reading.
The dog let out another whine but didn't move. Odd behavior for a dog.
"Er—hello," Harry said nervously. "Are you lost?" Stupid question, Harry. Really stupid. He really didn't know what to do or say to a stray dog. Moving to a more comfortable position, Harry ripped his sandwich in half and offered one portion to the dog. "It's chicken," he said softly. "Dog's like chicken, right?"
“I love chicken Harry, thank you very much,” Sirius said. The others rolled their eyes.
The dog finally moved. Harry watched as the dog slowly took the offered food and ate it. Eating his own portion, Harry kept an eye on the dog whose gaze remained on Harry the entire time. Harry didn't know if the dog was trying to figure out something or debating whether to eat him or not.
“Hey, I don’t eat people!”
“We don’t know that’s you Padfoot,” Remus tried to placate him. Sirius scowled.
After his third bite Harry couldn't take it anymore. "You know this would be a lot easier if you weren't looking at me like that," he said truthfully. "I know you're hungry but this is all I'm going to have for dinner. I can try to bring out more for you after they've gone to bed but my uncle can't know about you. Deal?"
The dog crawled forward and rested his head on Harry's lap, looking up with the 'puppy dog eyes' that made Harry groan in frustration.
“Sorry to disagree with you but that’s definitely Padfoot. Master of the puppy dog eyes,” James said shaking his head, Sirius was beaming proud of himself.
He really didn't have the strength to fight a one sided battle with a dog tonight.
"Look, I'm sorry," he said sincerely. "But my uncle—I really don't know what's wrong with him. He's so angry this summer. I can take it but I'd hate to see him take his anger out on anyone else."
Without even realizing what he was doing Harry started to pet the dog. Even though he had just met the dog there was a strange familiarity that Harry couldn't ignore. He didn't know why he felt it now and not before but at the moment Harry could care less. He needed to talk to someone and right now this dog was the only thing that would listen.
"Some times I wonder if my life was cursed the night Voldemort failed to kill me,"
“What? Voldemort what?” James and Sirius yelled.
“Don’t say the name!” Peter yelled flinching.
“I have to say the name, it’s written here,” Remus pointed at the page.
he said all of a sudden. "Every year it just gets harder and harder. I lived in a cupboard under the stairs for ten years,
“Child Abuse!” Sirius shouted.
found out that I'm—er—different, then go off to school where I end up fighting for my life every year. I mean, how many times can Voldemort try to come back?"
“What does he mean come back? Where did he go to?” James asked the other looked puzzled.
The dog looked up at Harry in surprise but Harry was too deep in thought to notice. "I guess it's my own fault," Harry continued. "I went searching for the stone and I went into the Chamber on my own accord. I guess I felt like I had to be the one to stop him. He killed my parents. He's the reason I'm trapped here…with them."
“He’s an orphan. Poor Harry,” James said sadly.
“Well, I kind of guessed,” Remus said “I mean, he lives with his Aunt and Uncle.”
Harry let out a sigh and shook his head slowly. "This is just sad," he said mostly to himself than to the dog. "I shouldn't feel sorry for myself like this. It only makes everything seem worse. I'm just scared. How can I hide this from my friends? How can I hide it from Dumbledore? If they knew what it was really like here…"
“They’d help you. Trust me. I know what’s like to keep a secret from your friends,“ Remus urged Harry.
The bellowing of his uncle's voice made Harry let out a frustrated groan. He quickly finished the rest of his sandwich then looked down at the dog. "Stay hidden," Harry said softly. "I'll bring out what I can when they've gone to bed."
To say Harry was surprised to see the dog hurry into the bushes and hide was an understatement. It was almost like the dog knew exactly what he was saying but that was impossible. Dogs couldn't understand human speech, at least entire sentences and reasoning.
“But that’s me!”
Uncle Vernon's shouting voice brought Harry back to the present. Standing up, Harry was unable to suppress a wince as pain flared from his ribs. Not wanting to endure any more yelling or punishment, Harry hurried back into the house where he spent the next hour and a half cleaning the kitchen. He knew the routine by now. If the kitchen wasn't spotless, he was punished. Basically, if Harry did anything besides acting like an obedient house elf, he would be punished.
He had finally finished only to hear the Dursleys heading upstairs for the night. Letting out a sigh of relief, Harry made a few more sandwiches as quietly as possible. He really didn't know how much to feed a stray dog but as thin as the dog looked Harry figured the more the better.
“Why am I thin?” Sirius said looking at his body, “I am muscular.”
“In your dreams Padfoot,” James said patting Sirius’ head.
Ignoring his own exhaustion, Harry snuck back outside and limped over to where the dog should be hiding. The dog must have noticed him approaching and slowly came out. It was strange that something so simple as a stray dog could make a teenage boy happy but this dog brought some sense of normalcy. To the dog, Harry wasn't a freak or the-boy-who-lived. Harry was just Harry.
“What’s the boy-who-lived?” Sirius asked.
“Harry,” Remus answered.
“Why?” Sirius asked.
“Because he lived,” Remus answered and was rewarded with a pillow on his face.
They sat there in silence while the dog ate. It seemed rather odd for a dog to slowly eat when it appeared to be starving but Harry didn't voice his opinion. He was too afraid to lose his new friend.
Realizing that it was extremely late, Harry knew that if he didn't start his homework he wouldn't get anything done tonight. He still had Potions, History and Transfiguration to complete which were bound to be stressful and confusing. Professor McGonagall was strict and demanding for Transfiguration, Professor Snape
“What!!!!!” James and Sirius cried.
“Snivellus teaching?” Sirius made a repulsed face.
“Poor children,” James’ face mirrored Sirius’. Remus had to agree.
was unfair and mean
“Off course he is, he’s Snivellus,” James said.
for Potions and Professor Binns was annoyingly boring for History of Magic. Not too much incentive for Harry to jump in and complete his assignments.
The feeling of something wet brushing his hand brought Harry out of his thoughts. He quickly looked down and saw those big blue eyes staring at him worriedly. "You know, if you're going to stick around I should think of something to name you," Harry said with a grin. "What do you think of Midnight?"
“No the name’s Padfoot. Pad-foot,” Sirius finished slowly. The other three rolled their eyes.
The dog barked happily, forcing Harry to quickly look up at the bedroom windows. Thankfully no one had heard the noise. Rubbing the back of his sore neck, Harry returned his attention to Midnight. "We need to be quiet," he said softly. "I don't want Uncle Vernon or Aunt Petunia to see you. They'll probably punish me for just having you on their lawn."
Midnight let out a growl which made Harry laugh. "I don't like them very much either," he said candidly then turned serious. "It's kind of hard to like someone who treats you like dirt.
“Yes, it is,” Sirius sympathized with Harry. The other three threw him sympathetic looks.
It's times like this when I wonder how my mum and aunt could be even remotely related. People tell me how kind and smart she was. I wish I could remember her. I wish I could remember both of them. At least then I would know for sure if anyone ever loved me."
“I am sure they did. We Potters are full of love Harry,” James said. Remus and Sirius were starting to worry for his sanity.
Harry let out a sigh and shook his head. He really needed to stop thinking about his pitiful life. It was only making him feel worse and right now that was the last thing Harry needed. He needed to figure out how to last for another month without too many more punishments.
Staring off in the distance, Harry didn't notice the sorrowful look in Midnight's eyes. At that moment the dog knew his plans had changed. He had heard enough to know there were more pressing matters. He would do everything in his power to make sure that fool, Dumbledore, found out the truth of what was happening at Number Four, Privet Drive.
“Hey, Dumbledore isn’t a fool,” Remus said defensively, “Sirius, stop insulting Dumbledore.”
“But you said we don’t know that’s me.”
For the remainder of the week it was difficult to see Harry without his new companion, Midnight, while he worked on his chores during the day. Harry brought the dog food whenever he could and spent any free moment he had with the devoted animal. Every night Harry would vent his frustrations and even tell the dog about what he had been through. For some strange reason Midnight seemed to enjoy it.
It had only taken two days for Harry to give into the 'puppy dog eyes' and sneak Midnight into the house. From then on, Midnight slept on the foot of Harry's bed. Harry couldn't explain it but he just felt safer with the large black dog there although it was the dog's safety Harry worried about every moment of the day and night. He meant what he told Midnight. He could take the punishments but he couldn't stand to see anyone hurt because of him.
“Don’t worry Harry. Padfoot knows how to take care of himself,” Remus said and Sirius nodded.
“Why the long face?” Sirius asked James that was scowling.
“Well, why instead of getting cozy you don’t SAVE HARRY?” James shouted and Sirius flinched.
“I don’t know,” Sirius mumbled.
“There must be a reason James, let’s keep reading,” Remus tried to placate James.
Harry's increasing chore lists didn't help matters either. It was becoming a habit for Harry to doze off at odd times only to be woken by Midnight licking his hand. His muscles were always sore, he felt weak and he was starting to have hot and cold flashes which were annoying to no end. Seeing his reflection every morning, Harry knew he was getting sick. The problem was Uncle Vernon didn't care. He still demanded the chore lists to be completed on time.
Deep in sleep Friday night, Harry didn't notice the bed shake as Midnight jumped off. He was too exhausted to notice anything. He was shivering from fever which caused him to wince as pain flared from his injured ribs. Harry bit his lower lip as he whimpered. Years of neglect and experience embedded in Harry's mind told him not to cry out. It would only anger Uncle Vernon more.
A gentle hand touched Harry's face like it had for the past few nights.
“Finally, you decided to act,” James exclaimed. Sirius scowled.
It felt cool in contrast to his burning face. He leaned into the coolness as fingers ran through his hair. If Harry had been awake he probably would have been frightened to see a stranger in his room and he probably would have been even more frightened by the condition the stranger was in.
“What condition? What happened to me?”
Wearing a tattered black cloak over his ragged striped clothes,
“What? No, I have a very good fashion sense.” Remus, Peter and James rolled their eyes.
the man stared at the battered teenager with guilt.
“You should feel guilty. Lying on your ass instead of acting,” James mumbled.
He had been horrified to hear of how difficult the boy's life had been so far. Living with a family who hated him, knowing nearly nothing about his parents, facing Voldemort twice in as many years, and even killing a basilisk were things a child shouldn't be doing.
“Killing a what?” Sirius cried.
“Facing Voldemort?” James shouted.
“Twice?” Remus yelled.
“Stop saying the name!” Peter pleaded.
The man had desperately wanted to take the boy into hiding just to keep him safe but knew that could never happen. He couldn't kidnap the boy now despite how justified it was.
“Yes you can. Kidnap him. Save him. Come on,” Sirius cried.
The boy had a broken leg and at least a few broken ribs on top of the countless bruises and sore muscles from the slave labor he was put through every day. He was surprised when he first saw the boy who was so small for his age but after a few 'stories' it was clear that the boy was indeed abused (physically, verbally and emotionally) as well as neglected. It angered the man to hear of someone acting this way towards a child, especially this child.
Harry Potter was a kind and compassionate boy who needed someone to love him. Why hadn't anyone seen this? Why hadn't anyone been by to check on the boy or his living conditions? Anyone who knew anything about Lily Potter's family would know that Petunia Dursley hated anything connected to magic. Why would anyone leave Harry Potter here of all places?
“Did he say Lily,” James asked taking the page to read for himself, “My sweet, dear Lily?”
“You don’t know that. Could be some other Lily,” Peter stated.
“Actually, Lily does have a sister named Petunia,” Remus said,“ and from what Lily said she hates magic.”
“That’s my Lily. That’s my son. Harry’s my son! I married Lily! She’s seen the error of her ways and realized I am irresistible!” James cried happily and hugged Sirius.
“Maybe, but we’re not sure,“ Remus said. James ignored him.
"Don't worry kid," the man said quietly. "I'll take care of everything. I promise."
“Of course I will!” Sirius said.