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Chapter 1 : Weakness
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At 6 o’ clock in the morning, on a warm summer day, a girl with long dark hair that fell over her face stepped onto the driveway of Number 4 Privet Drive, her boots making barely any noise on the concrete. She stood in front of the house, silent, memorizing the locations of the windows. Then she turned, and said five words under her breath.
“I’ll learn your weakness, Dursley.”
At that very minute on that same day, the Dursley in question was snoring away in his bed, dreaming of days of old… Days when sweets ranked far above territory. Those days were long gone, though. Now Dudley Dursley had a group to maintain- a gang who wanted more space to call their own, more power to hold over the heads of their enemies, inferiors, and people they just didn’t like. And in their minds, the girl and her group of friends were members of all three categories. The thing was, their leader was far more cunning than any of the other members of either gang. It was just never consciously admitted by any in Dudley’s group.
However, Dudley’s cousin Harry Potter was quite aware of the stupidity of both his cousin and his cousin’s group. It was a fact that was so evident to the majority of the world that it never needed to be said outright.
At that time, Harry was in his bed, doing homework. Although it was no longer necessary for him to do his homework under the covers anymore, what with his aunt and uncle knowing about Sirius, Harry still preferred to do his work at a time when no one would bother him (something that happened all too often while the Dursleys were awake).
Harry dipped his quill back into his inkpot, checked something in the textbook next to him, and scribbled one last sentence before putting everything away.
“Finished with potions,” he said, yawning. Then he lay back down and after a time, fell asleep.
Ranea Dorn had been part of the same group of friends for five years. She had known her friends Eva, Alex, Meg, and Kate since she was nine. They met one summer day when Eva had fallen while walking along a bridge with Kate and Meg. It having rained upstream the night before, the current was proving too strong for the girls to fight when Ranea had come walking along the bridge. Seeing what was going on, she immediately grabbed a thick branch off the ground and extended it out to the girl struggling to keep her head above water. But even with Ranea’s help, Eva probably still would have drowned had it not been for Alex. She too had come walking by and seen the girls fighting the current. With four girls pulling up the fifth, Eva came out of the water- not exactly with ease, but still, she was out.
And so they’d established the bridge and its surrounding area as their own territory for its symbolism in their friendship. Then steadily, after building up their strength just in case, they expanded their territory to include the surrounding forest and streets.
It was on those streets that the girls first encountered Dudley and his gang. Despite the warning symbol painted on every street and quite a few of the forest’s trees, Dudley led his gang straight up to the bridge, where the girls’ symbol as well as each of their signatures was painted, and dumped paint thinner on the design. Moments later, the girls, lead by Ranea, walked onto the bridge.
Ten minutes later, a limping Ranea helped an unconscious Alex back home while Dudley (with a black eye and bloodied nose) walked home accompanied by a barely conscious Piers and the rest of the gang (who sported numerous bruises and other minor injuries).
That fight was the first of many.
Each week, a group would challenge the other on their territory, and the next week the challenged group would counter. At no point during any part of this cycle did one of the gangs maintain an upper hand for more than a few days. Always, the groups grew stronger at the same rate, despite the fact that Ranea’s had fewer members than Dudley’s. Ranea’s strategies always made up for the higher amount of strength the boys had.
After a few months, Ranea started to have each of the girls lock on to a specific member of Dudley’s group’s fighting style. That way, they could begin to design a counter-style with which to defeat them. The first success was Eva’s match, Dennis. After a while, she easily managed to dodge his powerful, but off-balancing, punches. After dodging, a simple push made him fall to his knees, giving Eva the advantage.
Next was Alex, who took on Piers. She could soon read his attack pattern by the way he shifted his weight from foot to foot every time he changed tactics. After blocking his attacks, she took on the attack herself. Being one of the two physically strongest of Ranea’s group (Ranea being the other), she could easily take her opponent down if he didn’t make contact first. Although Meg and Kate couldn’t truly master their style, their fights against Malcolm and Gordon went much better than before- they usually alternated winning.
Finally, there were Ranea’s fights against Dudley. Although he had never managed to really win outright and fairly, he was usually the one in better condition when the fights were over. Ranea steadily began to realize she needed to find a strategy other than just countering his fighting style.
She needed to learn his weakness- and take advantage of it.
And so she came to be where she was now. That is, in the top of a tree in the front lawn of Number 4, watching in disgust as Dudley shoveled food onto his plate before eating it rather sloppily. Ranea couldn’t believe the things she had seen in the house- Dudley acted like an absolute pig while home, yet his parents acted like he was a perfect little angel. If she had acted that way in front of her parents, she would’ve been grounded for a month.
Of course, as her parents were staying in America for a couple of years, Ranea pretty much had free reign over her life. That was how she managed to stay in this war for so long- ordinarily the injuries would have put her into quite a lot of trouble. Her aging grandmother, who stayed home with her in place of her parents, didn’t really notice the bruises. She also didn’t notice her granddaughter’s preoccupation when she told her that she would be staying at Kate’s house for the rest of the day and overnight. If she had, she might have noticed that Ranea only brought a little food with her instead of a sleeping bag and such.
This was because Ranea wasn’t going to Kate’s house, or any of the others’. She was going to spy on Dudley for a while, and see if she could find his weakness. So far, however, all she found was a few bad habits and a fondness for cakes.
By the next morning, Ranea was convinced she couldn’t figure anything out just from watching Dudley at home. Sighing, she dropped lightly from the tree and walked back home to have breakfast.
Just as she left, Harry Potter got up and pulled a thin stick from beneath his mattress. He muttered what sounded like another language under his breath, and placed his newly created birds on the windowsill to fly free, having mastered the spell.
“It’s no use,” Ranea told Eva later that day. “All I saw was a stupid boy eating dinner at his house while his parents doted on him. I didn’t see any weaknesses from my twelve hour watch. I just can’t get it!”
“Maybe you should just try again another day. After all, no one’s truly perfect. Everyone has a weakness,” Eva replied. The words themselves said she believed this would work, but her tone of voice contradicted this.
“But I was there for a really long time. All I learned is that he’s a very sloppy eater, his parents wouldn’t care if he killed, and that he’s got a cousin named Henry or something.”
“Well… Um… It… I suppose…”
“Oh, admit it. I’m right- we can’t figure out anything just from this!” Ranea angrily slammed her fist down onto the table, wishing she could just transfer her bad vibes to the stationary, unfeeling piece of wood. “Well, maybe I should just take a more drastic course of action… Tomorrow, I am going to sneak into his room and see if he’s got records of a weakness there or something. Or maybe blackmail material… Something. Anything. I’m getting tired of these stupid stalemates.”
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by Toby Black