Chapter 1 : A place to call home
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Harry awoke from another nightmare. The nightmare contained a cackle, his mother begging, a green light, and death. His mouth felt dry and his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. He slowly shifted his legs off the bed and tip toped down stairs. It was easy for him to make no sounds, as he was small and light. When he’d reached the kitchen he hesitated before entering, he’d thought he’d heard someone crying on the other side. He quickly shook his head at the ridiculous thought; the only Dursley that cries is Dudley when he realizes he’s eaten the last cupcake.
Harry slowly pushed open the door and stopped when he saw his Aunt Petunia sitting at the kitchen table. She had lit a candle and it was placed in the center of the table. Her posture was perfect, and her hands were folded neatly in front of her, but the tears falling down her face broke the image of a poised woman. Harry tried to slowly move back but his aunts eyes found him. Harry expected to be yelled at, scolded, punished, but instead his aunt’s eyes turned towards the table, her tears seeming to fall heavier.
‘I can’t even look at you,’ Petunia whispered. Her voice was so low that Harry could barely hear it, the sound of the candles fire flicking as her breath hit it made a louder noise.
Harry had heard her say that many times “I can’t even look at you.” But the way she had just said it didn’t offer hostility, but rather, it offered sadness. Harry didn’t know why but instead of retreating he moved stepped inside the kitchen, letting the door close slowly behind him. He stood still for a moment, waiting to see what Petunia would do next. When she didn’t move he walked over to the cupboards grabbing a glass and filling it with water.
His movements were deliberately slow. He was intrigued by Petunia’s behavior and for some reason was drawn to her that night, he wanted to know what she was thinking, and he’d never seen her look-well, human.
‘What are you doing down here, boy?’ Again, Petunia’s hostility was nowhere to be found. Her words were the same, but her tone sounded differently.
‘I had a nightmare,’ explained Harry. ‘I came down to get something to drink.’ Harry suddenly started moving towards Petunia, his steps slow. He could see her watching him out of the corner of her eyes, and when she did not tell him to stop he sat down next to her at the table.
‘Your nightmares, they are about your parents.’
‘Usually,’ Harry responded, unsure of where this was going.
‘It may surprise you to know this but I too have nightmares about your parents, only I can imagine mine are different.’ Aunt Petunia looked at Harry, for the first time in his life Harry saw something other then loathing in her eyes, now he saw sympathy and understanding. ‘I don’t understand magic, I never really tried, and while I do not know what exactly happened that night I can hear this high pitched laugh as Lily begs for her life.’ The last words came out in sobs, the letters broken.
Harry remained silent, urging with his eyes for Petunia to continue. ‘I’ve never seen Voldemort, but I know from what I’ve heard that only someone as cruel and heartless as him could laugh as he killed another, take pride in the fact that he’s destroying not just one family, but many.
‘I didn’t dislike your father; on the contrary, he was a good man, loved Lily. I’ve never seen someone love her more, and I’ve never seen Lily happier, that was until she became pregnant with you. You were born in a normal hospital, Lily did this for me. If she had given birth to you at a magical hospital I wouldn’t be able to be there, and I insisted on seeing you born. I was there with your mother, holding her hand. When you finally came her face lit up as she held you in her arms.’
Petunia reached into her pocket and withdrew something. Harry leaned closer to get a better look and almost cried when he saw what it was: it was a picture of his mum and dad holding him. His mum had an ivy in her hand, looking tired but happy at the same time. She was holding Harry and looking down at him; James had his arm around Lily and was also looking at Harry. The picture didn’t move, but Harry was glad because in that one moment someone had captured the happiness of a young couple and their new born child.
‘You look so much like your father,’ Petunia said as she gazed at the picture. ‘But your eyes,’ she looked up at Harry and quickly looked away, ‘they are so much like your mother’s.’ Petunia folded the picture and held it out to Harry, ‘here, take it. You need it more then I.’ Harry looked at the picture in Petunia’s hand but did not move to take it. ‘Harry, just take it, I knew Lily longer then you, and that’s unfair. All you have are photos, I have memories, and while you have memories they are just the ones of your parents death, you need this more then I.”
Harry paused, not because of Petunia’s sudden kindness but because of the fact that she’d just called him Harry. Ever since he could remember she’d either called him “boy” or “it.” Harry took the picture and put it in his sweatshirt pocket. Petunia’s hand fell down, resting by the candle. ‘Why are you telling me this?’
Petunia looked hurt, her eyes never leaving the candle’s small fire. ‘You’re leaving tomorrow to go to one of your friend’s house, you have no reason to come back here ever again, and I will not hold it against you if you never do. Harry, you have to know that I never hated your mum for being magical. When she’d received the letter accepting her into Hogwarts, admittedly I was jealous, but I never hated her. When she would come back from Hogwarts and tell me stories of what had happened I was more then willing to listen, I sometimes wonder where I would be if I had received a letter informing me that I was a witch. I wonder if my fate would be much like Lily’s or I would still be living a normal life with a normal family, but have magic.
‘I would have never married Vernon, that’s for sure. I love that man, and while you may find it hard to see the good in him he cares deeply for his family, even you on occasion. I love you Harry, I care for you like an aunt should, I just can’t bear to look at you. You remind me so much of your mum, especially your eyes. And when you’d received a letter to Hogwarts my worst fear had come true, and I was afraid that you would have the same end like your parents. Every year Dumbledore has told me what you’ve accomplished and conquered, Vernon does not know.’
Petunia placed her hand on Harry’s, Harry looked down at it. She’d never touched him before, besides smacking him upside the head for making a mistake or breathing too loudly during dinner. ‘I’m so proud of you Harry and I know your parents would be too. You need to know that I don’t hate Lily but I hate magic because magic took your mum away. That’s why I despise it so.’ She took her hand away and Harry missed the comforting touch, not knowing if he’d ever receive one from her again.
‘Harry, I cannot stop you from fighting Voldemort, Dumbledore’s informed me of this, but you have to be careful. Your mum sacrificed her life to save you, don’t throw that away. Do not feel you must defeat Voldemort out of revenge for your parents.’
‘I don’t fight Voldemort because of revenge,’ said Harry, finally finding his voice. ‘I do it because I’m meant to do it, and because I can. I don’t know what will happen, if I will die, but in the event that I should die you will know that because I’m dead so is Voldemort.’
Petunia remained silent, her gaze cast towards the ground. ‘I feel like this should’ve been said a long time ago.’ Petunia stood up and Harry’s eyes followed her as she stood above him. ‘I know you’ve never considered this place home and that you’ve never willingly come back, but I want you to know that you’ve always got a place here, and while its hard to find there is love for you in this house.’
Harry stood and hugged Petunia. She was surprised by his gesture and at first became tense. Soon she relaxed and hugged Harry back. Harry could feel her tears fall onto his shoulders, staining his shirt. When he drew back he saw on her shoulder a wet spot from his tears that he did not know he had been crying.
Petunia smiled at him and whipped her eyes; she then walked out of the kitchen. Harry stood for a few moments before blowing out the candle and going to his room.
The next morning Petunia awoke and she went into Harry’s room with the intention of moving some of Dudley’s broken toys back in their. What she found the next morning surprised her. She stood at the archway of the door and saw Harry sitting at his desk writing a letter. He looked up when he saw her and smiled.
‘I figured I’d stay home this summer.’
Petunia smiled, she felt tears welling up. Her moment was cut short when Vernon walked in.
‘What is the boy doing here?’ Vernon’s face was red, and a large vein was popping from his forehead.
Petunia put on a strict face and looked at Harry disdainfully, ‘his friends decided that they don’t want him anymore, unfortunately we’re stuck with him for the rest of the summer.’ Petunia looked at Harry, her expression softening without Vernon’s knowledge, ‘maybe we should take the bars off of his window, in case his friends decide they want him after all.’