Disclaimer: The characters and situations of Harry Potter depicted in this story are the legal property of J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury, and AOL Time Warner, and have been used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended. No profit is being made off this story. It is for entertainment purposes only.
This Chapter contains scenes of physical violence and abuse. If these subject matters offend you, please feel free to skip the end of this Chapter after the section break.
"Urgh, I can't stand that prat of a brother of yours!" an irate Hermione exclaimed as she burst into Ginny's room. Hermione had been visiting almost daily since the Granger house had been connected via the Floo Network.
Ginny looked up from the letter she had been writing to glance at her friend. Hermione looked simply frazzled, with her bushy hair looking decidedly frumpy, and a frown creasing her pretty face. "So what'd he do now?" sighed Ginny.
"Well it may not come as a surprise to you, but Ron has the emotional depth of a teaspoon." Both of the girls had a chuckle about this, before Hermione continued, "Who are you writing to?"
Hermione, not soon to release her anger over Ron, turned to her next favorite target of ire, the Boy-Who-Lived. "Oh let me guess, he writes…'Hi Ginny, I'm fine'. Oh that boy, talk about someone with the emotional depth of a teaspoon. That git wouldn't know how to open up if he was being cut in half!"
Ginny's eyes flashed dangerously as she regarded her friend. She could definitely feel her anger start to rise. She, for one, was not about to kick Harry when he was already down, nor was she going to let anyone else. "Hermione, we're friends. If you're angry at my brother, please do vent. I will, however, ask you to leave Harry out of it."
Hermione noticed the tell-tale flush of pink along the ears and neck of the youngest Weasley. Having been best friends with Ron for over five years and befriending his younger sister for another four, she knew the danger signs of when a Weasley was about to lose their temper. In a valiant attempt to blunt the coming storm, Hermione blurted out the first thing she could think of, "Now, don't go Weasley on me!"
There was a moment of shocked silence before Ginny snorted into laughter, "Go Weasley?"
Hermione sighed in relief, since the storm seemed to have been averted, "Well, you know what I mean, all pink in the ears, the screaming and yelling, basically losing your temper. It seems to run in the family. When I noticed you getting angry, all I could think about was how similar you looked to Ron, and I decided I didn't want another fight with a second Weasley on the same day. I'm sorry, Ginny. I didn't want to upset you, I was only angry with your brother. Speaking of which, why were you defending Harry all of a sudden? We've certainly had our fair share of talks about him in the past and it seems to me that you weren't defending him when you called him a prat."
Ginny looked pensively in the mirror, avoiding Hermione's face. She had not intended to blurt something out in defending Harry, and Hermione, the clever witch that she was, caught on to it. That was one thing Ginny never understood, as smart and clever as Hermione was, she had failed to catch on to the subtle undercurrents of emotions that ran through both of her male best friends. It was easy enough to see the problem with Ron and her. Hermione cared so deeply for him, that she blinded herself to the love that Ron so obviously returned. Harry, well, Ginny thought bitterly, no one understands Harry like I do, he seems so open on the surface, but Ginny had finally figured out in her fourth year that there was so much more to him. Most people saw the mask that Harry wore and they could understand, even envy, the hurting and brooding hero. But the simple fact was that they never bothered to see what went on below the surface. Ginny spent most of her third and fourth years trying to decipher Harry before succeeding in the fourth. Frankly, Ginny thought, she did a pretty good job, and maybe it was time to talk it over with Hermione.
"Hermione, since you asked me the golden question, I've some things to share with you, but I need to insist that you never repeat this to anyone, not even Ron."
Hermione was surprised to see the serious look cross Ginny's beautiful features. At first, Hermione was shocked to see Ginny lose focus and seemingly stare at a spot on the wall after the comment she had made about defending Harry. When she noticed the stare turn serious before Ginny looked back at her, Hermione knew she had to hear what Ginny had to say. If Hermione had a flaw it was that she was intensely curious, and she was not beyond admitting it to herself. Now with Ginny seeming to know something more then Hermione, this only kicked her naturally high curiosity factor into overdrive. It went beyond just wanting to know, it bordered on having to know. "Ginny, I'd never share a confidence of yours, please know that."
Ginny's eyes seemed to cut through Hermione like a knife, before she eased back into her chair, took a deep breath and started to speak. "Hermione, you need to understand that I've never tried to put all the things I've learned about Harry into words. Please be patient as I try to get it all out. To be honest, I've never known how you could've been friends with Harry and Ron for so long, yet still never really understand what's going on in their heads and hearts. I'll leave Ron alone, you'll have to figure that out on your own, but I'll tell you about Harry. Partly because I'm not interested in hearing you complain about him all summer, but mostly because I don't think you really understand Harry. You only see the Harry every one else sees. You've never seen the real Harry, the parts he keeps hidden from everyone." Hermione opened her mouth to protest, but Ginny just held up her hand shaking her head. "Don't be too hard on yourself, I'm not even sure if Harry even knows what I've learned."
Hermione crossed the room and sat down on Ginny's bed, never breaking eye contact with the girl who was sitting at her old desk in her small room. "What do you mean? I'm not sure what you're trying to say."
"Again, Hermione, I might struggle to get this all into words, so I'll try starting at the beginning. Everyone knows about my crush for Harry so I won't go over that again. There is something I need to point out, however. Harry was so gentlemanly about it. He never teased me, and he never made me feel uncomfortable. He knew about my crush, but treated me no different. It was clear over the years that he never returned the feeling, but Harry never looked down on me because of it. Actually when my infatuation was at its worst he was always friendly. There was this time when I put my elbow in the butter dish, but he just smiled and pretended not to notice. Although, this was not something I could understand or appreciate at the time." Ginny grinned at the memory, before continuing. "It took me 'til my third year before I started to realize it. You know I've never thanked Harry for saving my life. Just imagine how horrified I was when I was lying on the cold stone floor of the Chamber and I knew that Tom was using me as bait to lure Harry down there. All I could think about as I was dying was how stupid I was, and how I was going to get Harry killed. Then it dawned on me that I'd probably get expelled, I even blurted that out to him. Well, when he woke me up anyway. Even then he was so kind and thoughtful, and you weren't there, but when we made it to McGonagall's office, he even tried to protect me again from getting expelled! Just think he goes into the depths of Hogwarts, fights his way through a giant Basilisk, then Tom Riddle, and through it all, he still has the presence of mind to protect me from the teachers and getting expelled. Again, at the time I wasn't able to appreciate the effort he went through for me and I avoided him for most of that next year, but I still watched him, like I always did. Again, it was one of those things I didn't appreciate til my third year when I looked back and started to take stock about all that had happened with Harry and me. My problem was that in my first and second years I always wanted more from Harry then he could provide. It just took me a while to notice what I was doing. Are you following me so far?"
Hermione was quiet as she listened to Ginny. It was good to see her open up. Hermione remembered that year after the Chamber. It was not a good time in Ginny's life, and she still was somewhat private about her inner thoughts. Hermione remembered some of the long talks they had shared since the summer after Ginny's second year. Ginny was Hermione's only real girl friend, in fact aside from the messy dark haired boy trapped with his Aunt, all of Hermione's real close friends where here in this magical ramshackle house. She had always had a hard time opening up to people herself when she was younger, when other girls her age in the Muggle schools wanted to play with dolls (or talk about boys and gossip as they got older), Hermione wanted to talk about school and some of the books she had read. The fact that she knew all the answers in school endeared herself to her teachers and parents, but made getting close to kids her own age difficult. Ginny's tale of introspection seemed to force Hermione down a path of her own. Hermione never had anyone stick up for her before Harry and Ron, and while it could be bothersome at times, Hermione realized how lucky she was to be have become friends with them both, and so also became friends with Ginny. Just think, she giggled to herself, it all started with a crying spat in a bathroom complete with a Mountain Troll and the two boys who caused the crying to begin with. In fact it was one boy who had brought on the crying spree, how did he do it back then too? Has she cared for him longer then she even realized? It was not like she had not been called an insufferable know it all before…
While the seconds turned into minutes as Hermione reflected on her own past, Ginny took the time to collect her thoughts. She knew she jumped around somewhat in the beginning, and frankly, the past was not what she wanted to talk with Hermione about. It just helped to illustrate how she had come to the conclusions she had. She just needed to make sure she stayed on message.
With a soft smile Hermione finally made eye contact with Ginny, she shook herself from her thoughts, and replied, "I do understand Ginny, and yes I'm following you, in fact you're helping me too. It helps to take stock of the past at times, in fact just thinking about how much your brother and Harry mean to me helps keep my anger in check. I'm sorry again about taking things out on Harry, when I was frustrated at Ron."
"Good," Ginny responded. "I'm glad this helps you, it's helping me too. So, back to my story. It was really following the World Cup that I started to see Harry differently. I watched him and looked back on our history. It was only after I understood better that Harry had always been there for me, even more than I'd realized. I understood then that despite my horrendous crush, Harry never looked down on me, despite my mistakes and errors. Harry was always there to help me pick up the pieces. He stood by me for so long and was always accepting of me. Once I realized this, I started to want to know why. I'm curious by nature. You know how I used to break into the broom cupboard just to see what Quidditch was all about because my brothers talked about it constantly. So I started to try to figure out what made Harry, well Harry. I even conned the twins into helping me out. I picked their brains about every little detail they could remember about where Harry grew up and his relatives. I was able to talk to Ron about Harry so innocently he never realized that we were talking about Harry. I talked to Hagrid at school about Harry's life, the relatives he lived with, his parents."
"All in your third year?" Hermione asked.
"Yeah, pretty much leading up to Christmas. Well, with Ron and the twins starting over the summer when I started to get better control over my infatuation. This was all the things that helped me put it in perspective, for exactly what it was, a silly school girl crush." Ginny paused and shot an evil smile at her friend. "You know what I mean, don't you Hermione?"
Instantly Hermione was defensive. Certainly Ginny was not going to refer to him, was she? "I've no idea what you're talking about." was all Hermione was able to squeak out.
"Sure you do, remember the guy who won Witch Weekly's Best Smile Award, twenty times strait or whatever."
"Actually it was only five, but I get your point. So that's why you told me after the Ball you'd gotten over Harry?"
"Now, Hermione, as you well know, I said given up, not gotten over."
"It amounts to the same thing you know." Hermione said to Ginny, knowing full well that they actually meant two different possibilities. After listening to Ginny, Hermione started to finally realize that the possibility she grasped at originally, might not be the possibility that Ginny meant.
Sadly, Ginny looked out the window and said softly, "Yes I gave up my crush, because I realized that Harry deserved more then that. Not the least of which because he'd always given me more then that, he treated me like a friend when he didn't have to. He cared for me enough to defend me and protect me, when he didn't have to. I gave up the crush because he silently was being a wonderful friend to me, and he didn't push that friendship in my face when I wanted more. I wanted to be a part of his life, and it finally dawned on me, Harry was always there as a friend for me when I approached him or needed him. If I could talk to him as a friend, then I could be his friend. Going out with Michael, all the while doing more Harry research, allowed me to grow into Harry's friend which has been good for both of us."
Hermione had always loved a good mystery, even if she had to fight the urge to read the last page of a book to see the solution. She was starting to conclude that Ginny was far more mature then she realized, and that the second possibility was starting to look very valid. She just needed to confirm one more tiny little fact, then, she would know where Ginny stood. She just had to be sure to approach this obliquely so as to not make Ginny close up. "So why'd you continue your Harry research once you were Harry's friend?"
Ginny pulled her gaze from the window to glance at Hermione, before turning back to the summer scene beyond her walls. She knew where Hermione was going with this and instead of hiding she forced herself to be honest. "I wanted to understand Harry and to make an effort to really get to know him and his past. We've so many things in common. Since he isn't the easiest person to communicate with, I settled on talking to others about him. Talking with Sirius was a huge help, because he provided me with a bridge to Harry's parents. Even Professor Lupin helped."
Hermione could tell that Ginny was avoiding directly talking about the specific question Hermione wanted answered. She decided to play along. In fact, Hermione admitted to herself, she was sincerely interested in hearing Ginny out. After all Harry was her friend too. "So, what did you discover?"
Pain was evident on Ginny's face as she continued. This was harder then she thought it was going to be. "Harry . . . well . . . his life has been hard. His Aunt and Uncle took him in and gave him shelter. But really, that's it, only shelter. They certainly never gave him love or comfort. He used to be locked in his cupboard for days. Did you know that he lived in a cupboard until he got his first Hogwarts letter?"
Hermione was shocked. She had not heard this before, "Really?"
"Hagrid told me. There were even locks on the cupboard so they could lock him in. From what I understand my brother wouldn't have survived it. It was covered in spiders, apparently that's why Harry isn't afraid of them." Both girls shared a much needed tension breaking laugh at Ron's irrational panic at the mere thought of a spider. "It seems so terribly ironic that Harry went from having the most loving parents, and doting 'uncles' according to both Remus and Sirius, to defeating He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, parentless, 'uncle-less', and living with people who hated him in the space of twenty four hours."
At this point tears where starting to roll down Ginny's cheeks as she took a deep shuddering breath. "I just don't understand how they could treat a child so cruelly. They locked him in a cupboard and never had a decent word to say to him. They never called him 'Harry'. It was either 'Boy' or 'Freak'. All the while they doted on that fat slob of a son, rubbing it in Harry's face how much they loved Dudley. Do you know that Harry's first Christmas at Hogwarts was the first time he'd ever had a present to unwrap? Hagrid bought his first birthday gift ever, Hedwig. Don't be surprised. Ron didn't realize it at the time either, but later when he was talking to me about Harry I was able to put the pieces together. The twins told me the summer before my first year, when they broke Harry out of his house, he'd been locked in his room with bars on the window, and food passed through a cat flap on his door. You weren't around, but he was so skinny and so was Hedwig. She was locked in the room with Harry. Hedwig couldn't get out to hunt. She was awfully thin, but what little food Harry was given, he shared with her. That is the kind of person he is. He always puts everyone else's needs first. I think a part of that is probably due to him waiting hand and foot on his 'family', but also because he has such a great heart."
Hermione had joined in Ginny's tears as she listened. She knew some things, and suspected others, but at times people really needed to hear the facts spelled out in order to fully comprehend what has occurred. Hermione realized that there was more to her friend then she ever thought, in fact both of them, Ginny and Harry. She also realized that the story was only going to get worse, as if it was not already bad, she thought sadly.
Ginny collected herself, and moved over to sit on the bed with Hermione. Ginny thought with a slight inward sigh that she and Hermione would both need comfort soon. The girls sat next to each other on Ginny's green bedspread, lost in thought, before Ginny quietly picked up her story.
"Sirius is really the one who knew most of this. He was more desperate then I was for information on Harry's life. He loved Harry so much, and he just couldn't understand how Harry turned out so good after what he'd lived through. He used to go and spy on the Dursleys as Snuffles. He was over there quite often, hiding and watching. Sirius started to badger Remus into the spying as well. Remus was the one who talked to Mrs. Figg. She told Remus about when Harry was young and the Dursleys would leave Harry at home, or with her, whenever they went out to do something nice. I think she was also the one who figured out that Harry was abused physically in addition to the mental abuse he'd suffered."
Well, Hermione thought, it had just officially gotten worse.
"When Sirius heard about that, wow, he was ready to hex a certain family into next week. It took all of Remus' and Dumbledore's efforts to calm him down. Well, honestly, he never really did calm down, and when Remus caught him over at the Dursleys, Dumbledore imprisoned him in Grimmauld Place." Ginny took a deep breath and pulled Hermione into a hug; they both needed. "Remember, back at the end of TriWizard Tournament when Mum hugged Harry? She said the way he held on that she thought it was the first time he was ever hugged by a caring person. I don't think Harry has the faintest clue about having a family and receiving comfort. Honestly, where would he learn it? I loved Sirius, he was the closet thing to a father Harry ever had, but he was not the most communicative about feelings. Remus is almost worse then Harry sometimes about keeping things in. Where or, more properly, who has Harry ever had to teach him how to feel? Harry, thankfully, started to lose his temper quite often last year. I think we got tired of it at times, but at least he was expressing himself. Trust me if anyone ever needed to lash out it was Harry, just look at his childhood!"
Ginny broke the hug with Hermione and gave her a steady gaze. "You know I'm still irked at you for trying to get Harry to open up to you."
"Yes you!" Ginny smiled and gave her a playful swat on the arm. "I remember how you used to complain to me about how he was taking all his anger out on you and how he needed to open up and discuss his feelings. You seemed to just expect Harry to open up and talk about whatever was bothering him. I hope our talk has helped you learn about how Harry was raised.
"From what I've heard I suspect Harry was told, on more then one occasion, to keep quiet. He probably lived an out of sight, out of mind existence. Harry never learned to express himself. He had to keep everything inside. You grew up in a home with loving parents who doted on their only daughter. Harry never had that luxury. You shouldn't push him like you do because he doesn't know how to handle it. I'm really upset that you'd get angry with him about his anger last year when you should've been more accepting. You definitely shouldn't have been as pushy as you were since you caused a great deal of his anxiety anyway."
Hermione was shocked, although she reflected in hindsight she should not have been. Ginny was right on both accounts, and worse, Hermione reflected, she also should have seen it herself. Suddenly, Hermione understood that Ginny not only cared about Harry, she loved him! The realization hit Hermione so hard she blurted it out. "You love Harry!" It was both a question and a statement.
Ginny shook her head. It was amazing how Hermione's brain worked sometimes. "Yes Hermione. I love Harry. My crush became a love that I'm happy to have. You're still not forgiven for being rough with Harry last year."
Hermione shrugged. She knew when it was a lost cause, besides, Ginny was right. "Yeah, you're right about that. I'm shocked, I'd figured out you cared for him, but you love him unconditionally. The way you are happy to be his friend, the careful way you looked into his life to understand him, the way you're prepared to help him get back together with Cho despite your feelings, your acceptance of his flaws, and willingness to push him when needed, even if he's angry or hurt. You love Harry." She said the last part softly and in wonder.
Ginny giggled to herself, "Why do you seem so shocked by this?"
"It's just so beautiful Ginny! I never realized what was going on."
"Nobody was supposed to realize Hermione, least of all Harry. Besides, I think Harry is the most beautiful person I know, and trust me, he deserves to be loved, and I'm happy to love him, despite the pain it causes at times." Ginny smirked at her friend, "By the way, when are you going to be honest about your feelings?"
At first, Hermione was inclined to state her usual denials on the subject, but she realized that this conversation demanded more honesty than that. After all, Ginny had been very open and honest about her inner most thoughts and feelings. That did not mean that Hermione had to jump in with both feet into a discussion of her love life. "Ginny, after everything that you've said, do you believe Harry is capable of a loving relationship?" Good, she thought, something to distract Ginny from her course of action.
Ginny allowed her smirk to turn into open gloating, knowing the effect that she had on Hermione. Still, Hermione's question was valid, and she had already thought that over carefully. "Yes. Harry is capable of a loving relationship. I hope ultimately it'll be with me, but as I mentioned, I'd already discovered I need to change the way I lived and looked at him for it to work. Harry and I have a bond, I think from the Chamber, but it feels older than that. I sensed it that summer before my first year. I already know Harry cares for me as a friend. That's been shown over and over again. My plan is to continue to help Harry become more comfortable with himself. To help him grow and learn that he has people around him that care for him. To help Harry realize he's loved. Once Harry can get past the notion that people love him, I hope he'll start to love himself more. Then perhaps when I sense he's ready, I'll explain my feelings for him in a way even he'll understand. Well, then I guess we'll see."
Hermione was curious now, "What do you mean by explain your feelings for him?"
"Well", Ginny giggled, "I figured I'd take him to the astronomy tower to talk about his feelings as a test to see if he's comfortable enough with me to talk about himself. I also hope he'll talk about himself more positively. If all goes well from there, I actually planned to take a page out of Cho Hag's, ergh, Cho Chang's book and start snogging him senseless, since I doubt Harry'll ever be able to make a first move."
Ginny shrugged, "Ok, so she's not my most favorite person, ok?"
"No that's fine", Hermione laughed, "I should've never told you about the mistletoe."
Ginny flashed Hermione a wicked little smile. "Well I do appreciate the tip; it gave me some good ideas. I had also thought of a broom closet to see if we could change some of his old memories, then I figured, that's best left for a second date. So come on Hermione, what about your feelings?"
Hermione knew she was not getting out of this one, "Yes, I care for your brother so much, and I have for years. But you already knew that."
"Yes, but when are you going to go to work on him?" Ginny was going to be persistent on this because she did not need her last remaining brother at Hogwarts to get in her way when she made a move on Harry. It's all part of the plan.
"I don't know, Ginny; do you think he cares for me?"
"Hermione…" A long suffering Ginny said softly. "Yes, he does, but you might need to help him out, and I'm not referring to snogging him senseless in the Astronomy tower. Give him some confidence and you'll be able to help him see the light. Besides, at least he knows you are a girl now, right?"
Hermione had to laugh at this; Ginny had a point.
"Heck, even from day one Harry realized I was a girl." Ginny continued, teasing her friend. Ginny had to make sure Hermione had enough confidence to make a move on her brother. Later on this week she would talk with Ron and make sure he had some confidence too, after all it could not hurt. With an inner sigh, Ginny reflected on the effort she took for her love. Still she knew he was worth it, she counted on it, that's what she was fighting for. Time to change the subject she thought, "So what'd Ron do earlier?"
As the girl's conversation turned to more mundane matters, they failed to notice the pair of Extendable Ears that slowly withdrew from the room.
Harry was tired and sore. He painfully eased himself into a chair and glanced over at Hedwig's cage. "Hi girl," Harry called to one of his first friends, "since we can't use owl post this summer would you like to go visit Ron and Ginny for awhile?" Hedwig gave him a wide eyed stare and a soft hoot in acknowledgement. Harry chuckled at the antics of his owl, before dragging himself painfully over to her cage for a scratch and pat on her head.
The sound of a car pulling into the drive at Number Four shook Harry from his thoughts. If Uncle Vernon was home, then Harry really needed to shower quickly before dinner. This thought chased Harry out of the smallest bedroom and into the shower. Little did Harry know that this action would cause more issues then sitting at the dinner table dirty would have caused.
Vernon stomped into the house angry. The fury that had been running near continuously below the surface since that hideous encounter with those freaks in the train station, was threatening to boil out. The news from work had been bleak, Vernon's sales had not been up to par since the incident with the pudding several years ago and now with the company suffering cash flow issues. Grunning's was looking to cut costs and reduce headcount. With his lack of sales production, Vernon was target number one for the pending staff reductions. Vernon called for Petunia as he dropped his bag and headed strait for the liquor cabinet. After a several quick snorts of brandy, Vernon felt better about facing his freakish nephew. As soon as it filtered into Vernon's brain that Petunia had not answered his call, he realized that something else must be wrong. Figuring that whatever the issue was definitely called for more booze, Vernon set off with bottle in hand towards the kitchen.
When Vernon neared the kitchen door he heard muffled sobs. Inside was Petunia sitting at the kitchen table crying over a letter. Petunia heard the kitchen door open and her long neck craned over to see her husband in the door. "Vernon," she wailed.
"What is it, dear?"
"Dinky Duddydums was expelled from Smeltings!"
"WHAT?" Vernon roared. This definitely demanded a drink, so Vernon took a healthy swill from bottle.
"That awful school of his wrote and said that he was not to be invited back. They say he is abusive towards the younger students, and there have been too many complaints of injuries that he caused by beating smaller kids. Smeltings said that since we've ignored their previous warnings and refused to deal with the problem then he was no longer welcome there."
The sound of the shower being turned off permeated into Vernon's increasing drunken state. He sat down to continue drinking and complaining with Petunia. Apparently this night was going to continue getting worse.
Upstairs Harry felt more refreshed as he stepped out of the shower. Noticing that the sky had darkened enough to let Hedwig out, Harry walked over and opened her cage. "Go, ahead and visit for awhile, say 'hi' for me, and fly safe girl."
It was only at this moment that Harry could hear Uncle Vernon bellowing downstairs. Harry would have been concerned, but he did all of his chores perfectly, so there was no reason for his uncle to be angry at him. Much to Harry's chagrin he heard the bellowing of his uncle start to move around downstairs. Harry's stomach started to settle deeper in his body as he realized his uncle was coming upstairs, and from the uneven footfalls and drunken shouting, it appeared his Uncle was quite intoxicated.
Despite the pending warning signs, Harry was surprised when the door to his room burst open. He figured there would be a confrontation with his uncle at the dinner table, but not in his room. "You, you, you freak! It's all your fault that everything is going wrong. You complained to your freak friends, told them lies about how we raised you. Now they're fanning out and trying to ruin my life, your Aunt's life and my son's life. You, well you say lies about me then I get in trouble. So maybe I should give you some real reasons to get me in trouble."
Vernon had crossed the short distance from the door to Harry and seized him roughly by the shirt. The smell of alcohol was so powerful that he felt his eyes begin to water. When a sharp flash of fear coursed through his veins, Harry looked quickly over at the desk where he had left his wand. Vernon caught what Harry was looking at, and it only served to infuriate him further. Vernon raised his meaty fist and slammed it forcefully into Harry's face. "No Uncle Vernon, I didn't do anything of the sort!" Harry could feel himself stagger from the blow as he tried to plead with his beefy and drunk Uncle.
Desperately, Harry tried to move around his uncle towards the desk and his wand. The proximity of his uncle and his great bulk impeded this action. Desperately as Harry tried to dodge past he tripped over Vernon's drunken stumbling feet and fell down to the floor. From the floor Harry called out in his mind for his wand. For a fleeting moment Harry felt a reassuring touch of warm wood in his hand before he felt his hand compress unnaturally from the weight of Vernon's foot smashing into the top of his hand. He could no longer feel his fingers through the torrent of pain, which surged up his arm from his hand. From across the room a clatter sounded, which he knew came from his wand. Dimly the thought registered in his mind that his uncle must have kicked it when he was forced to release it from his suddenly broken hand.
A startled gasp sounded from the doorway. The beating paused momentarily as Vernon looked over to see Petunia's shocked face in the doorway. "This is it Petunia! It's pay back time for all the evil things this freak has caused. I should've pounded the freakishness out of him earlier. But you know what they say, better late then never."
"Vernon, I don't think this is a good idea…"
"No! No Petunia! Remember it's his fault Dudley was thrown out of Smeltings. We need to teach him and all those freaks a lesson. Remember what they did to Dudley that summer with the tail?" He demanded of his wife in a drunken slur.
Harry blearily looked over at the door and his aunt. The silence hung for a moment before she turned and walked away. His uncle wasted little time in starting up again as several more fists collided with Harry's face, head and stomach. Vernon appeared to be working into a rant. As he bellowed, his fists fell in a sort of demented beat to coincide with his raving. Harry was already on the floor cowering into a ball from the massive blows being rained on his body when the door downstairs banged open announcing the arrival of Dudley.
"Dudders," Vernon called, "get up here and help me out with this problem now!"
The walls echoed with the foot falls of the elephant boy as he approached the smallest bedroom. Dudley was shocked when he looked in where Harry was curled up into a ball wheezing in pain. His father stood looking between Dudley and Harry, "Come here son, and give some pain back to your cousin for all that he made you suffer through." With that thought Vernon turned back to Harry and gave him a sharp kick to the side, where the sound of ribs breaking echoed through out the room. "Come on son, come in and play. Better then any computer game any old time."
With a shrug, Dudley waddled into the room where he grabbed Harry by the hair and dragged his head back and dealt a massive punch to Harry's nose. Harry could feel his nose shatter under the impact and through the sharp blinding pain that made his eyes water, he could feel the warm blood spray across his face. "Good one, son!" Vernon crowed behind his son. Dudley proceeded to quickly warm up to some Harry abuse. It had been awhile.
The next half hour passed slowly for Harry and when hey grew tired of their fun, he was left broken and bruised on the floor to his room. He bled from multiple points on his face and body. It almost seemed to him that he was lying in a warm pool of water. Only Harry knew that his face was not resting in water. He struggled once to sit up but he was defeated by his broken hand and a powerful wave of nausea. When he looked down Harry noticed his arm seemed to stick out at a bizarre angle and his shoulder did not look right either. His breath wheezed painfully from his chest where it seemed like something was repeatedly stabbing him with a knife.
Too sick and ill to move, Harry laid on the floor where he had been beaten, while he could hear his uncle and cousin celebrating downstairs. For once he thought, as he fell into a fitful doze, at least Dudley will not have to sneak out and steal some booze to get drunk tonight. Harry was disappointed in himself that his uncle had caught him unaware and administered the worst beating of his life. He silently raged at the humiliating assault and the fact that his 'uncle' had the gall to strike him. Secretly Harry knew there was a part of him that felt he deserved a beating, for all the death and mayhem he had caused the last couple of years. He knew that he could have fought harder. Shaking inwardly at that train of thought, he struggled to think about something else. Instead Harry focused his thoughts on Ginny and how great she had been so far this summer. He felt momentary consternation at the thought he would not finish her letter tonight, yet mostly he thought happy thoughts of her smile and laugh. Holding onto this feeble life-line of sanity Harry slipped into a fitful sleep, dreams of red hair and sparkling laughter ringing in his thoughts.
I would like to thank my wonderful betas Myth & Legend and TeenDramaQueen. Before everyone decides to start a game of hunt me down and string me up, this was a horrible chapter for me to write, well the last section, the first part was kind of fun.. I believe that unfortunately physical violence was a part of Harry's past. Abusers never really go away; they just look for a spark to come back. I do believe that Harry would do everything in his power to avoid confrontations with his uncle and use magic to threaten in order to protect himself. If and when a violence situation occurred Harry would never be able to bring himself to actually cause pain or injury to his family. In this situation his drunken angry uncle was on him too fast and he was not mentally prepared to face that situation enough to avoid it.