Chapter 7 : Playing Potter
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Harry was at a loss for words. This happened quite often now that he had children, but this time it was different. He had holed up in his study, sitting with his knees clutched to his chest, wondering how to explain to his children just why he had exploded upon seeing Lily ‘locked’ in the broom cupboard. He knew that it was just a game to his kids, that Lily was the prisoner this time, who had to reside in ‘Azkaban’ until her punishment was over, but it hurt all the same. He couldn’t imagine having his children live the life that he had for ten years, before he had discovered that he was a wizard. It tore at his heart to see his baby girl in the broom cupboard, although he knew she wasn’t miserable as he had been, nor was she really locked in, but it hurt just the same. So much was different about the two circumstances, but it hit too close to home for Harry’s comfort. Ginny, of course, knew why it had disturbed him so much, and she gave James and Albus a stern talking to, not to mention forbidding them to play the game again. But the boys were still stunned from their father’s outburst, and they heard not a word.
“Dad?” came a small voice from outside the door. His youngest son, Albus, tiptoed in the room, a guilty expression on his young face. “Dad, I’m sorry.”
Harry’s heart softened, and he relaxed, sitting cross-legged now. “Come here, Al,” he said softly, motioning for the boy. His son skittered towards him, frightened, and that broke Harry’s heart most of all. Nonetheless, Albus sat on his father’s lap, curled against Harry’s chest, and Harry breathed a sigh. “Al, I am sorry. I’m sorry that I got angry; I was way out of line. It was just a game to you three, and I took it a little too seriously. I just…” But the words got stuck in his throat.
Albus, the most perceptive of his three children, sensed this. “Why did it bother you so much, Dad?” He asked quietly, his sensitive green eyes shining behind half-moon spectacles. “We all took turns playing the bad guy; it wasn’t just Lily.”
“I know, Al,” Harry said quietly, closing his eyes. He did not want to tell his son about the atrocities he suffered at the hands of his own relatives, but he couldn’t let the boy go without an explanation. It just wasn’t his way. He was truthful to his children, as he wished his aunt and uncle had been to him growing up. “It just… It reminded me of something from when I was a kid.”
Albus’s brow furrowed thoughtfully. His father never, ever talked about his childhood, and Albus had always been curious as to why. His dad was a wonderful man; he never doubted for a second that he had anything but love and affection from his relatives. I mean, look at Nana and Granddad Weasley, Albus thought proudly, they loved Dad, even before he was married to Mum.
Thankful that Al didn’t push him, Harry pursed his lips, before continuing in a quiet voice. “When I was growing up, after my parents died… I was left with my mum’s sister, Petunia, and her family. Since my mum was Muggle-born, Petunia and her family weren’t magical like us, and Petunia resented it very much, from the time she was just a little girl. She… she didn’t like my mum, and she hated being left with me, after my parents’ deaths. I didn’t mean much to Petunia and Vernon Dursley, and I still can’t imagine why they kept me, instead of sending me off to an orphanage.
“I didn’t have a happy life there. My cousin, Dudley, was a very spoiled child, and he grew up to bully me, lording the treats and presents he got over me, since I got none. I grew up thinking that I was nothing special, and I got in trouble for the oddest things. Things that, honestly, couldn’t have been my fault! It turns out they were signs of my magical ability, but I didn’t know that yet. I just knew that when strange things happened, I would be punished, and soundly.”
Albus shrunk back, burrowing his face in his father’s shirt, as if for safety from the terrible things his father had gone through. Though he was almost afraid to ask, Albus did anyway. “Wh-what kind of punishments?” Al was afraid he already knew.
“I would be locked in my bedroom – the cupboard under the stairs. More often than not, I would go without meals. It… It’s painful for me to think about now. But, when I turned eleven, I got a strange letter. Dudley snatched it from me, then Vernon took it from him, and I wasn’t allowed to read it… But eventually, owls bombarded the house with too many letters to keep from me, and Vernon decided that it was time to go. We stayed at a cheap motel, and a letter found me. Then, we went to stay at what looked like a castle turret on a rock, surrounded by miles and miles of water on all sides.”
“Did the letters find you there, too?” Albus asked with a grin; he rather enjoyed this part of the story. This was when his father found out that he was indeed special; he was a wizard!
“No, they didn’t.” Albus frowned disappointedly, but not for long, because his dad added with a sly grin, “But Hagrid did.”
“Hagrid?” Albus asked, shocked. He grinned. “He must have frightened the lot of you, being so big!”
“That he did, Al. It was the middle of the night, the very day of my eleventh birthday, and the door comes flying down! In comes this giant of a man, bearded and tall, into the house. Dudley was up in a second, running for cover, and believe me, I was right behind him. Vernon and Petunia ran down the stairs to see what the ruckus was, and Vernon even had a shotgun with him! I can’t decide what the best part was: Hagrid bending the gun into a ‘U’ shape and telling Vernon, ‘Oh, shut up, Dursley, you great prune,’*; Hagrid giving Dudley a pig’s tail for eating my birthday cake; or him telling me, ‘Yeh’re a wizard, Harry’**.”
Albus laughed out loud, for his father’s impression of Hagrid was spot on, and for the fact that his dad was now smiling heartily.
“He took me to Diagon Alley to get my school supplies, gave me my train ticket, then sent me back to the Dursleys until the train arrived on September first.
“Luckily, Vernon agreed to give me a ride to the platform in London, but I think he mostly wanted to see me embarrassed, because he believed there was no platform nine and three quarters.”
“But that’s because he’s a Muggle, Dad; you know Muggles can’t see the Platform,” Albus reminded his father patiently, grinning. Even he knew that!
“You are correct, Albus, but remember, I didn’t know that at the time. When the Dursleys left me, they were chuckling happily, hoping I would get snatched. And I almost gave up, until I heard some woman going on about Muggles to her many children.”
Al grinned again; he knew this woman to be his Nana Molly, for she always told the story to him and his cousins. “I asked for help, and she agreed, without knowing who I was, just out of the kindness of her heart. She pointed out that it was her youngest son’s first time to Hogwarts, as well, and I felt a little better. Then, this little speck of a girl tells me, ‘good luck’***.”
“Surely you aren’t talking about me,” Ginny Weasley Potter said with a knowing smirk, leaning against the doorframe.
“That was you, Mum?” Albus asked, amazed; Nana never told him that his mum was there, too!
“It sure was, Al! Your mum was quite fond of me then,” Harry said proudly, grinning at his wife.
Ginny rolled her eyes, ruffling Harry and Albus’s hair. “You wouldn’t know; you hardly paid me any attention then. I was just Ron’s pesky sister, until sixth year.”
Albus’s parents stared at each other with that mushy look they got right before they were going to kiss, and Al interrupted. “Dad, I promise not to play Azkaban anymore. I didn’t mean for you to get upset.”
Harry looked away from his wife, to his son, and he smiled. He hugged the boy, kissing his forehead. “It’s not your fault, Al. I just wanted to explain to you why.” He smiled, releasing his son and ruffling his untidy hair. “Now, why don’t you go round up your brother and sister, and we’ll play a real game?”
Albus’s eyes shined excitedly. “Quidditch?”
“Of course!” Harry and Ginny said together, with matching grins.
* is from page 30 of the US verson of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by JK Rowling.
** is from page 32 of the US verson of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling.
*** is from the movie version of the Sorcerer's Stone.
I hope you guys like this one; i know someone asked for a little more of Al, so here he is! A pretty mushy chapter, if I say so myself, but I always imagined Harry telling at least one of his kids what happened ot him when he was little. I didn't figure he would volunteer the information willy-nilly, but then I imagined he'd probably be a pretty honest parent, since he never had one growing up. but then, this could all be wrong; this is just how I picture it :)
and again, feel free to review, I love hearing from you guys(: