Two Years Later...
It was late June as Harry and I laid in my front lawn. I knew that in a few minutes Harry would get yelled at for being out in public, where the neighbors could see him. But we were enjoying the weather while we could. Normally Surrey was freezing cold and raining all of the time. Even in the summer it was normally in the lower seventies. Today it was nearly eighty and sunny. It was a rare sight. So Harry and I were enjoying it while we could. He was laying with a book open in his lap. It was one of mine. He was reading The Legendary Origins of Merlin the Magician.
It was a No-Maj book that had quite a bit of his history messed up, but I wanted Harry to know just a little bit about the world that he came from. I had found out over the past two years that Harry had been lied to for his entire life. His parents, James and Lily Potter, had been murdered in Godric's Hollow when he was a year old. Voldemort had then turned to kill Harry. However when he had tried to use the Killing Curse against Harry it had rebounded and destroyed Voldemort. No one knew why Harry had survived it. He was the only person in history to survive it. And the only evidence that he had survived it was a a lightning bolt shaped scar on his forehead.
Early on in my friendship with Harry he had told me the story that the Dursley's had clearly fed him. They had told him that when he was a year old his parents were in a car crash. Harry had been in the backseat. They had told him that the wreck had killed James and Lily and Harry was left an orphan. They claimed that his scar was from a well-placed shard of flying glass. I had nearly told him the truth of his lineage one day when Harry had told me about the school that he would be sent to when he turned eleven. Smelting's or something like that. It had taken a few long conversations with my parents to convince me that the time to tell Harry about the Wizarding World wasn't yet.
Needless to say, my parents were thrilled when they realized that the move here hadn't been all that awful. For me or them. I knew that my father missed playing on a professional Quidditch team. But he was happy enough working for the Ministry of Magic. My father worked in the Department of Magical Games and Sports at the British and Irish Quidditch League Headquarters. We all knew that he still secretly rooted for the American team. My mother worked in the Department of International Magical Corporation in the International Office of Law. I knew that she missed being a Healer but St. Mungo's - the English wizarding hospital - currently didn't need any more workers.
It hadn't been that bad of a move for me either. I certainly missed my friends back in the United States. I kept in contact with them but it was irregular. I only sent them letters about once a month. But they kept me updated about what was happening back home and swore that they would tell me all about what Ilvermorny was really like. I hadn't really made that many friends in Surrey. Most people in the No-Maj school, St. Grogory's, didn't like me. It was probably because I spent almost all of my time with Harry. He was extremely unpopular. That was thanks to his cousin Dudley and his cronies, who relentlessly bullied him.
The only reason that Harry didn't receive constant swirlies and other brutal treatments in school was because Dudley had somewhat of a crush on me. Maybe it wasn't a crush but he certainly liked me more than he liked other girls. It was also the only reason that I was even allowed inside the Dursley household. They thought that my family was weird - they would soon find out just how weird I was - and they didn't like weird things. They were perfectly normal. It was only a while longer that the Dursley's would live in ignorant bliss. They would get the Hogwarts letter for Harry in about a month or so.
Hogwarts acceptance letters come out in late July. Harry's should arrive shortly before his eleventh birthday. I couldn't wait to show him everything about the Wizarding World. I had wanted to tell him plenty of times before but my mother and father made sure that I kept my mouth shut. It had taken a while but I'd finally agreed. So here I was, sitting and waiting in eager anticipation for the time to come that I went to Hogwarts.
More than anything I still wanted to go to Ilvermorny but I had come to accept my fate of going to Hogwarts. The more that I thought about it the more that I realized it might be kind of cool. I would be the only American. Witches and wizards typically went to the schools that were the closest to their homes. For Romanian, Bulgarian, and Russian magical people, they went to Durmstrang. French witches and wizards went to Beauxbatons. English kids went to Hogwarts. There were never any American's. They all went to Ilvermorny and Salem Witching Academy. I supposed that it might be kind of fun to be the different kid. For the right reason; not like at St. Grogory's.
Harry dropped the book that he had been reading and I jumped slightly. We could both hear Aunt Horse-Face shouting for Harry. She should have known that we were outside on the lovely day. She finally broke through the screen door and glared at the two of us. "Get in here!" She shouted. "Are you awake yet?" she demanded when Harry didn't move.
Harry groaned at her. "Nearly," he told her.
She looked about ready to throw the glass plate that she was holding at him. "Well, get a move on, I want you to look after the bacon. And don't you dare let it burn, I want everything perfect on Duddy's birthday." That's right. Today was June 23rd. It was Dudley's eleventh birthday. They were taking a trip to the zoo today. Well, everyone except for Harry. Harry let out a little groan. "What did you say?" Horse-Face snapped from the door.
"Nothing, nothing..." Harry moaned to her. He stood and I moved from my position on his legs. Horse-Face disappeared back through the doorway and Harry stood for a moment, staring at his house. I knew that somewhere in the back of his mind he was wishing for it to be lit on fire. I spoke to him before he got the chance to do just that.
"How about I help you with Dudley's birthday breakfast?" I offered.
Harry looked slightly surprised that I had suggested helping him. Normally every time he went to go help the Dursley's I went back home. But I knew that Dudley's birthday was always a nightmare and I wanted to help Harry get through it a little better. "Are you sure, Tara?" Harry asked.
I nodded at him. "Absolutely. Maybe we can slip some cayenne pepper into the bacon grease," I teased. Harry laughed and stood from the grass, giving me a hand up. I thanked him and took back my book on Merlin. We walked into Harry's house and I stared in horror at the living room. It was like some twisted version of those No-Maj reality shows that talk about kids who have way too much money and parents who refuse to put them in their place.
The dining room table was covered in presents. You couldn't even see the expensive wood anymore. It was clear that Dudley had gotten the presents that he wanted. Those included many things that he didn't need. A computer, a second television, and racing bike. Not that Dudley was going to be able to actually fit on the bike.
Harry and I both snorted at each other and walked into the kitchen. I was next to miserable with cooking so I stood in the background and handed Harry whatever it was that he needed. Uncle Vernon entered the kitchen as Harry was turning over the bacon. I was standing in the background. A minute prior I'd been burned by a popping piece of bacon. "Comb your hair!" he barked, by way of a morning greeting. As a last minute thought he turned to me and said, "Good morning, Tara."
"Good morning, Mr. Dursley. How are you?" I asked, remembering my parents telling me to always treat adults with the utmost respect. There was also the lingering fact that if I was rude I would get kicked out of their house and back to my own. Which was currently empty, as my parents were at work. Harry was my sole source of entertainment.
"I'll be better once our trip is done," Vernon snapped. There was nothing that I knew to say back to that. I knew that Vermin had always hated Dudley's birthday because they were always doing something active on Dudley's birthday. It was the one day of the year that he got off of his butt and did something other than bully Harry.
Harry and I were finishing up frying the eggs as Dudley walked into the kitchen. He turned to me and gave me a small smile. "Good morning, Tara." As usual, he ignored Harry.
"Morning, Dudley," I responded.
Dudley walked over to the table and began to count his presents. It was the same thing that he did every year. Harry and I rolled our eyes and grabbed the plates, walking them over to the living room. We went to setting them down on the table, which was very difficult, seeing that there wasn't much room. We had finally found some room to put the plates down when Dudley's fat little finger stopped moving. His face fell. Harry and I exchanged looks, knowing that the fireworks were about to start.
"Thirty-six," he said, looking up at his mother and father. Harry and I were both at the edge of the table, just barely balancing our plates. "That's two less than last year." I had to repress a laugh. My parents were rich, considering that my father was a professional athlete, but they didn't even buy me thirty-six presents for my birthday.
"Darling, you haven't counted Auntie Marge's present, see, it's here under this big one from Mommy and Daddy," Horse-Face explained, pointing out a disgustingly covered package.
Dudley still didn't look impressed. "All right, thirty-seven then," said Dudley, going red in the face.
Harry and I could both see a huge Dudley tantrum coming on. We began wolfing down the bacon as fast as possible in case Dudley turned the table over. He had done so before. Aunt Petunia obviously scented danger, too, because she said quickly, "And we'll buy you another two presents while we're out today. How's that, popkin? Two more presents. Is that all right?" She offered.
I wanted to scream. That was just going to make his problem worse. Dudley thought for a moment. It looked like hard work from my respective. Finally he said slowly, "So I'll have thirty ... thirty..."
"Thirty-nine, sweetums," Horse-Face said. I rolled my eyes.
"Oh." Dudley sat down heavily and grabbed the nearest parcel, tearing into the packaging. "All right then."
They would certainly have fun trying to buy him forty presents next year. Vermin chuckled. "Little tyke wants his money's worth, just like his father. 'Atta boy, Dudley!" He ruffled Dudley's hair, who swatted his father away.
At that moment the telephone rang and Horse-Face went to answer it. Even from here I could tell that she was angry with whoever was on the other end. Meanwhile Harry and Vermin watched Dudley unwrap his presents. The racing bike was certainly going to be too small for him. There was a video camera that I knew he would break in a week and a remote control airplane that he would more than likely lose. There were sixteen new computer games, all of which would prove too difficult for Dudley to comprehend, and a VCR. He was ripping the paper off a gold wristwatch when Horse-Face came back from the telephone looking both angry and worried.
She looked over at her husband. "Bad news, Vernon," she said. "Mrs. Figg's broken her leg. She can't take him." She jerked her head in Harry's direction and I smirked.
Dudley's mouth fell open in horror, but Harry gave me a small smile. Every year on Dudley's birthday, his parents took him and a friend out for the day; to adventure parks, hamburger restaurants, or the movies. Every year, Harry was left behind with Mrs. Figg, a mad old lady who lived two streets away. Harry and I both hated it there. I had gone with him one year. The whole house smelled of cabbage and Mrs. Figg made us look at photographs of all the cats she'd ever owned.
The choice should have been easy. They should have said that they were just going to take him with them. But I knew that it would be a last resort choice. "Now what?" said Aunt Petunia, looking furiously at Harry as though he'd planned this.
"We could phone Marge," Uncle Vernon suggested.
"Don't be silly, Vernon, she hates the boy," Horse-Face responded. I hated the way that they spoke to Harry, as if he wasn't there. As if he was the reason that they had all of these problems, which weren't really problems at all.
"What about what's-her-name, your friend - Yvonne?" Vermin asked.
"On vacation in Majorca," snapped Aunt Petunia.
A sudden thought went shooting through my head. "Harry could come stay at my house for a few hours," I offered. Vermin and Horse-Face acted as if they hadn't even heard me. I rolled my eyes and opened my mouth to speak again but Harry beat me to it.
"You could just leave me here," Harry put in hopefully. I knew that he was hoping to come over to my house. Or maybe have a go on Dudley's new computer before the boy broke it. That was the way that all of his presents were. They would only be nice for a week before Dudley would destroy them or get bored of them.
Horse-Face looked as though she'd just swallowed a lemon. "And come back and find the house in ruins?" she snarled. I rolled my eyes. Harry stood more of a chance blowing up the house now than he did if they were gone. Not that they understood that. They were the worst types of No-Maj's.
"I won't blow up the house," Harry argued. I knew that it was pointless. They weren't listening to him. The same way that they never listened to him. Or anyone that wasn't either one of them.
A beat passed. "I suppose we could take him to the zoo," said Aunt Petunia slowly, "... and leave him in the car..." My eyes narrowed. They were not seriously planning on leaving Harry in a car for hours at a time while they all had fun.
Vermin looked disgusted at the thought of having Harry in his car. "That car's new, he's not sitting in it alone..."
Another beat passed. Dudley began to cry loudly. In fact, he wasn't really crying - I wasn't sure that I'd ever even seen Dudley cry - but he had learned that if he screwed up his face and wailed, his mother would give him anything he wanted. "Dinky Duddydums, don't cry, Mummy won't let him spoil your special day!" she cried, flinging her arms around him.
Harry and I both looked at each other and rolled our eyes. At least the day would not be uneventful. "I... don't... want... him... t-t-to come!" Dudley yelled between huge, pretend sobs. "He always sp- spoils everything!" He shot Harry a nasty grin through the gap in his mother's arms.
I was going to step in once more and offer my home. I was sure that they would rather have Harry stay with me than actually come with them and risk their neighbors seeing them with a boy who barely looked put together. Just then, the doorbell rang. "Oh, good Lord, they're here!" said Horse-Face frantically. A moment later, Dudley's best friend, Piers Polkiss, walked in with his mother. Piers was a scrawny boy with a face like a rat. He was usually the one who held people's arms behind their backs while Dudley hit them. Dudley stopped pretending to cry at once.
Half an hour later we were all in the Dursley's car, on our way to the zoo. I knew that Harry couldn't believe his luck. He had never been anywhere. Every time that my parents offered to take him somewhere with us the Dursley's would pretend that he had something better to be doing. We all knew that it was because they wanted to make him even more miserable. Dudley had offered me to go the minute that it had been decided that they would allow Harry to go too. Dudley had invited me the other day but I had turned it down. I didn't want to be stuck with them all day. This time I didn't deny them, now that I knew that Harry would be going with them. I knew that Piers and Dudley were hoping to impress me today. I intended to spend the day around Harry.
Despite wanting to talk to Harry during the drive I knew that it would be best that we stayed silent. There was no privacy back here. In every manner of speaking. It was far too crowded in the small car. Vermin and Horse-Face were in the front seat. Harry and I were pressed against the left side of the back seat. Piers and Dudley were pressed on the right. We had practically had to shove each other into the car to even manage to close the door. It was meant for three people. Not four. And Dudley might as well have been worth two people.
While he drove, Uncle Vernon complained to Aunt Petunia. He liked to complain about things: people at work, Harry, the council, Harry, the bank, and Harry were just a few of his favorite subjects. So were the odd people that 'wore bath robes.' I'd never been as happy as the day that Harry told me that he liked the way that they dressed. The day was coming very soon that Harry would start dressing like that. I had a feeling that it would suit him much better than No-Maj clothes.
This morning, the complaining was about motorcycles. "... roaring along like maniacs, the young hoodlums," he said, as a motorcycle passed by us, narrowly avoiding scraping the paint off of the front end.
"I had a dream about a motorcycle," said Harry, remembering suddenly. "It was flying." A small smile appeared on my lips as I turned to focus on the floor of the car. My parents had told me that Harry was brought to the Dursley's in the sidecar of a flying motorcycle by the Groundskeeper of Hogwarts, Rubeus Hagrid. I'd never met him but my parents told me that I would love him.
My head shot up as Vermin nearly crashed into the car in front. He came to a short stop on the side of the road. He turned right around in his seat and yelled at Harry, his face like a gigantic beet with a mustache: "Motorcycles don't fly!" Dudley and Piers sniggered.
A smirk appeared on the corners of my lips. Vermin and Horse-Face both knew about magic but neither wanted to acknowledge that it was real. They liked to pretend that their world was the only one. They clearly knew that Harry was remembering bits and pieces of the Wizarding World. "I know they don't," said Harry. "It was only a dream."
Just like back home in Surrey, it was a very sunny Saturday and the zoo was crowded with families. It looked very much like it did the only other time that I had been here with my family a year ago. They brought me here to try and acclimate me to life in England. As much as I loved Harry, he simply wasn't enough. I really hated life in frigid Surrey. The weather was horrid and the schools were terrible. It was why I kept a countdown of the days until I could leave and go to Hogwarts with Harry. Magic, and the potential for more than one friend, was more than a little appealing.
As we walked into the zoo the Dursley's bought Dudley and Piers large chocolate ice creams at the entrance and then, because the smiling lady in the van had asked Harry and I what we'd wanted before they could hurry us away, they bought him a cheap lemon ice pop. I paid for the both of us to get vanilla and chocolate swirl pops. Harry offered to pay me back but I shook my head at him. I had the money. He wouldn't until he could get to Gringott's next month. And even then, I didn't know how much money his parents had left him.
While we ate our ice cream we watched a gorilla scratching its head who looked remarkably like Dudley, except that it wasn't blonde. Harry and I were having fun telling stories about how the gorilla was probably smarter than Dudley. In fact, for each animal we passed we made up a story about what Dudley would be like if he were that animal.
For the hippos we didn't even need a story. We just imagined that the submerged giants were Dudley in the bathtub. That provided horrifying images that nearly made us upchuck our ice cream. We thought about an overweight Dudley tiger that broke a tree branch and shook the entire ground when he fell. We laughed about Dudley birds that were so heavy that they couldn't even fly. In the aquarium center we thought about Dudley, swimming into the glass over and over again. It provided for a fun game for the two of us.
Without a doubt I knew that Harry was having the best morning he'd had in a long time. The two of us were careful to walk a little way apart from the Dursley's so that Dudley and Piers, who were starting to get bored with the animals by lunchtime, wouldn't fall back on their favorite hobby of hitting Harry. Of course they would always stop hitting him when light bulbs would mysteriously explode and papers would go flying at their heads. Courtesy of yours truly, of course.
A little after noon we ate in the zoo restaurant. Harry ordered himself a burger, a kid's menu size at Vermin's insistence that he was gaining weight. I ordered myself a plate of chicken fingers and handed Harry my fries. We were halfway through eating, letting Dudley and Piers lead the conversation. As much as I wanted to have a conversation with Harry I knew that we wouldn't be able to have one without Piers and Dudley making fun of us. So we relented to silently laughing at their stupidity.
Harry was nearly finished with his food when Dudley had a tantrum because his knickerbocker glory didn't have enough ice cream on top. I couldn't help but to shake my head. He'd already had more food today than one of my friends back in America could have in a week. But the Dursley's saw it as gaining muscle. So Vermin bought him another one and Harry was allowed to finish the first. I supposed that if nothing else at least Harry would be allowed to eat more today than I'd ever seen him eat before.
Nearly an hour after we'd gone for lunch we went to the reptile house. It certainly wasn't my favorite place. The only animal I wasn't overly fond of was snakes. It wasn't that I was scared of them, I just preferred to avoid them if at all possible. But I knew that I would have to go in. If I didn't I was sure that it would mean that Dudley and his cronies would bring a snake to his house and chase me around with it. Of course at that point, screw not being allowed to use magic, I'd be sure to use a Jelly-Legs Hex.
It was cool and dark in there, with lit windows all along the walls. Behind the glass, all sorts of lizards and snakes were crawling and slithering over bits of wood and stone. I enjoyed standing near the lizards and small spider tanks. Dudley and Piers wanted to see huge, poisonous cobras and thick, man-crushing pythons. Dudley quickly found the largest snake in the place. It could have wrapped its body twice around Vermin's car and crushed it into a trash can - but at the moment it didn't look in the mood. In fact, it was fast asleep.
The fact that the animal was so docile made me slightly more comfortable standing and watching it. I would much rather see it do that than watch it kill a rat or something like that. Dudley stood with his nose pressed against the glass, staring at the glistening brown coils. "Make it move," he whined at his father. Vermin tapped on the glass, but the snake didn't budge. "Do it again," Dudley ordered. Uncle Vernon rapped the glass smartly with his knuckles, but the snake just snoozed on. "This is boring," Dudley moaned. He shuffled away.
His family and Piers followed, leaving Harry and I standing in front of the snake's cage. "Having a good day?" I asked Harry.
He looked at me and smiled. "Yeah, I am. Better with you here. I can only imagine the way that they'd be treating me if you weren't here," Harry told me. It made my brows furrow with sadness. I wished that his parents were still here. He deserved to have grown up with them. I hated having to make Harry think that he would be spending the next seven years with these people.
"They don't know what they're missing," I told Harry softly.
We moved in front of the tank and stared down at the snake. Harry was standing pressed against me. I knew that some part of him was hoping for something incredible to happen to him. He was growing bored of his monotonous life. He would never be able to guess just how much things would change. "I'm going to miss you when I go to Stonewall High this year," Harry said sadly.
Stonewall High was a disgusting public school that Harry thought he would be going to. It was a No-Maj school. I had told him that I already knew that I was going to a prestigious boarding school. He had seemed so depressed when I told him that I would be there for the majority of the year. He had no idea that his Hogwarts acceptance letter was most likely being written as we spoke. We would be at the same school. He would never set foot in Stonewall High. "We might end up closer than you think," I said with a smile.
Harry nodded. "That's true. I mean we are neighbors," he said. I laughed softly. He was right about that. Oh well, soon enough he would know exactly what I meant. We lapsed into silence and I stared intently at the snake. I wouldn't have been surprised if it had died of boredom itself - no company except stupid people drumming their fingers on the glass trying to disturb it all day long. It reminded me of the way that Harry lived his life with the Dursley's. Hogwarts would be like Heaven for him.
Disturbing me from my thoughts the snake suddenly opened its beady eyes. Slowly, very slowly, it raised its head until its eyes were on a level with Harry's and mine. It winked. Harry and I stared at it. Then Harry looked quickly around to see if anyone was watching. They weren't.
"You saw that, right?" Harry asked me. The snake was still watching the two of us. I was staring at the snake with something in between fear and confusion. A little bit of amazement too.
Finally I remembered that Harry had asked me something. "Yeah," I said softly, unable to say anything else. To my surprise, Harry looked back at the snake and winked, too. The snake jerked its head toward Vermin and Dudley, then raised its eyes to the ceiling in something akin to an eye-roll. It gave Harry a look that said quite plainly: I get that all the time.
"I know," Harry murmured through the glass. My head shot over to him. What was he talking to the snake for? "It must be really annoying," he continued, leaning against the wooden bar.
After a moment I laid my hand gently on Harry's shoulder. He jumped. It was like he had forgotten that I was even here. "Harry, you know that the snake can't hear you, right? It probably just woke up from a nap. I'd imagine we're some of the least irritating guests it's seen in months," I told him softly. He seemed oddly attached to the snake.
I was about to suggest that we move on when the snake nodded vigorously. That time I couldn't deny it. The snake could understand us. It was talking to us. "You can understand us?" I asked the snake, feeling incredibly stupid.
It nodded at me with something that looked almost like a smile. Harry nudged me with a small grin and turned to look back at the snake. It hadn't looked away from us once. "Where do you come from, anyway?" Harry asked. The snake jabbed its tail at a little sign next to the glass. Harry and I both peered at it. Boa Constrictor, Brazil. "Was it nice there?" Harry asked it. The boa constrictor jabbed its tail at the sign again and we read on: This specimen was bred in the zoo. Depressing. It had never been home. "Oh, I see - so you've never been to Brazil?"
Before the snake got the chance to answer Harry I asked it another question. "Would you like to go?" I asked. As the snake nodded its head, a deafening shout behind Harry made all three of us jump. "Dudley! Mr. Dursley! Come and look at this snake! You won't believe what it's doing!" Piers was shouting. The snake recoiled slightly. Dudley came waddling towards us as fast as he could.
"Out of the way, you," he said, punching Harry in the ribs. Caught by surprise, Harry fell hard on the concrete floor. I ran over to him and extended my hand. I could tell by the pained look on his face that he was in pain.
"Are you alright?" I asked worriedly. Harry never got the chance to answer. He was too busy glaring at Dudley, who was pressed up against the snake's tank with Piers right alongside him.
What came next happened so fast no one saw how it happened. One second, Piers and Dudley were leaning right up close to the glass, the next, they had fallen into the tank with howls of horror. Harry sat up and threw me behind him. We both gasped loudly; the glass front of the boa constrictor's tank had vanished. The great snake was uncoiling itself rapidly, heading towards the walkway in the center of the reptile building.
It moved over Piers and Dudley, both screaming louder than I had thought was possible. The snake turned back and stuck out its forked tongue before slithering out onto the floor. People throughout the reptile house screamed and started running for the exits. As the snake slid swiftly past us I noticed that it stopped and turned back to us. "Brazil, here I come... Thanksss, amigos," it hissed at us.
The snake didn't wait for us to say anything else. "You're welcome," I muttered stupidly. Magic was one thing. But that snake had just spoken to me. Snakes didn't speak to people. Not even in the Wizarding World. At least not as far as I knew. "Did you hear that?" I asked Harry.
He didn't say anything but he did nod. The two of us sat on the floor of the reptile house while the building was cleared out. Zookeepers were running all over the zoo, trying to keep the boa from getting out of the zoo. From what it sounded like, they had yet to catch it. I watched in stunned silence as Dudley and Piers were pulled from the tank. They were both soaking wet and shaken. Piers was muttering unintelligibly while Dudley seemed to be on the verge of tears. Not that I blamed either one of them.
They were both given blankets and we were led into the back room of the reptile house, where the zookeepers went on their breaks. The keeper of the reptile house was in shock. "But the glass," he kept saying, "where did the glass go?"
The day had gone from completely normal to stranger than anything that either one of us had ever experienced. The zoo director himself made Petunia a cup of strong, sweet tea while he apologized over and over again. Piers and Dudley could only gibber. As far as either Harry or myself had seen the snake had only snapped at their heels playfully as it passed, but by the time we were all back in Uncle Vernon's car, Dudley was telling them how it had nearly bitten off his leg, while Piers was swearing it had tried to squeeze him to death.
But worst of all, was Piers calming down enough to say, "Harry and Tara were talking to it, weren't you?" That had earned shouts from both Vernon and Petunia to be quiet until we got back to the house. No one said anything after that. We all knew how much trouble everyone was going to be getting into once we all got back to our respective houses.
I watched as we pulled back into the driveway of Number Four, Privet Drive. We were all ushered out of the cars and into the living room. Once more no one said a word. Everyone was silent as we took seats on the couches. Even Harry, who I had never seen sit on the couches before. He was always locked up in his cupboard under the stairs. Nearly twenty minutes after arriving at the Dursley's home the doorbell rang. It was Piers' mother. Petunia quickly regaled the story of what happened at the zoo before the pair took off. I'd never seen Piers look so attached to his mother.
The room once more went into silence as I turned to stare at the Dursley's. "If you'd like, I can take Harry to my house for dinner. Just so that you can be here, grateful that nothing worse happened today," I offered carefully.
Clearly it had not been the right thing to say. "Get out!" Vermin shouted. I jumped slightly and started to the door. Harry went to follow me but Vermin grabbed him by the collar of his shirt before he could. "Go - cupboard - stay - no meals," Vernon snapped at Harry. He barely had time to move to the oversized burgundy chair before collapsing.
It was obvious that Harry wanted to say something else to me but I shook my head. I didn't want to get him into any more trouble tonight. So I said a quick goodbye and walked out of the house. The sun had sunk nearly an hour ago. My walk over to my house was slow, despite the fact that it was barely five meters from my front door to theirs. Behind me I could hear shouting in Harry's house. It was all between Vermin and Horse-Face. I could barely hear him asking her what had happened, and how it was possible.
I imagined that it was something that Harry was wondering at this very moment. He had probably been thinking about it in the car ride too. To a No-Maj it was something that they could never fathom. They were probably trying to think of scientific ways that it was possible that the glass could have broken. Maybe it had shattered into such small pieces that it had seemed like it just vanished. And all of the pieces were so small that no one could see them. Or maybe they were thinking that the glass had never been there. That it was a force field or something like that. Or maybe they were thinking that it was a screen. Something cruel like someone had seen the boys leaning on it and had raised the glass screen, letting them fall into the tank and let the snake slither over them as it passed over them.
They were all far-fetched ideas but the truth was that they were easier to believe than the actual truth was. The truth was extremely difficult to believe. Most magical kids, especially No-Maj Born's, had a habit of being unable to control their powers when they were young. The problem was that they didn't know how to manage their anger when they got angry or happy. Things happened that they couldn't explain. I knew exactly what had happened at the zoo. Harry had gotten angry when Dudley had hit him. He had been in pain too. That was half of the reason that what had happened to him was somewhat cruel. The anger had gotten the best of him and he had made the glass disappear, letting Dudley and Piers fall into the enclosure. He hadn't really been hoping for it to happen, he had just wanted some type of karma.
It wasn't like it hadn't happened to me before. It had happened to me quite a few times. Some had been dangerous and others had been funny. One of my father's favorite instances of uncontrolled magic had been when I had set my teacher's wig on fire in the third grade. I rarely got bad grades. On a time-telling test I had scored lower than normal. It was the first average grade I'd ever gotten. She had read out my answer, one that was apparently not even close to be correct. The entire class had laughed and asked me to tell them the time from the analog clocks in the school for weeks. One day my teacher had even done it too. I'd never heard those kids laugh so loud.
I really hadn't meant to do it. I had only wanted to do something like strip the toupee off of her head. But instead the thing lit on fire. I knew that it had hurt. We could hear her screaming all through the halls. The wig burned up almost immediately. It had been a huge deal. She'd suffered burns all over her scalp that were down almost to the bone. The entire class needed to be Obliviated, so did my teacher. My mother had come in and Healed my teacher's burns. Magical Law Enforcement had been called on me and everything. Of course it was accidental underage magic so I was cleared almost immediately. Now the only thing that people remembered was her wig slipping off in class.
Although she always did seem to have the strangest fear of fire afterwards. I had gotten into a ton of trouble for that incident. My mother had grounded me for nearly a month, telling me that I had to get better control on my emotion. My father had taken me out for ice cream. He thought that it was good the way that I had stood up for myself. But he had told me that the next time I wanted to do something to someone, setting them on fire was probably not the best way to do it.
This wasn't to say that my mother hadn't laughed at some of my accidental magic instances. She just liked the less dangerous ones. There was one time when I was two that I had broken my favorite doll. I had been so upset that I had made all of the plates and silverware come to life to be my friends. My mother thought that it was hysterical that I had been playing with the forks, with the supervision of the spoons. She had left them like that for almost the entire day before changing them back. It was probably why Beauty and the Beast was one of my favorite No-Maj movies.
Her other favorite instance was when I had accidentally turned all of the furniture inside out. My parents had been furious when I had accidentally let a Niffler inside of our house. I thought that the thing was cute so I brought it home. It stole all of our jewelry and coins before hiding somewhere in the house. My parents searched for it for hours before turning around and yelling at me. I had been so upset that I'd cried for hours. In the process I had turned all of the furniture inside out. My mother had laughed louder than I'd ever heard her when she found the Niffler stuck against the inside of my father's armchair, coins and jewels falling from every inch of its body. She still had a picture of the three of us with our little Niffler friend on our refrigerator.
Smiling at the fond memories I opened the door to my house and walked through. I was met with the smell of freshly baked cookies. I grinned widely and ducked into the kitchen. My parents were both standing there, clearly waiting for me. "Tara! How was the zoo?" My mother asked me.
She gave me a quick hug as my father helped lift me onto the kitchen counter. I sat on the edge and folded my legs under myself. My father handed me a cookie and I took it, pouring myself some milk from the carton that was on the edge of the counter. "It was good. Harry accidentally set a boa on Dudley and his friend Piers," I said with the shrug of my shoulders.
Both of my parents were staring at me like I had just told them that Harry had murdered the Dursley's. My father began to chuckle a moment later and my mother shot him a stern glare. He shut up immediately but still grinned behind her back. "And why did Harry do that?" My mother asked.
I rolled my eyes. Although the moment that my mother looked shocked at my actions I blushed. I was rarely rude to my parents. I always felt bad after I was. "Sorry. But don't be thick. It wasn't like Harry found a boa and told it to go attack Dudley. We were looking at the snake through a glass tank and it looked at us. We were talking to it." My parents exchanged a strange look. "It lifted its head up and looked at us. Piers saw and started shouting for Dudley and Vermin to come over and look at it."
"Tara!" My mother shouted.
"Sorry," I muttered. She didn't like him any more than I did but she rarely believed in being rude to people. "They came over and saw that the snake had been staring at Harry and I. Dudley punched Harry in the ribs and he fell! Harry must have gotten angry with him because a minute later the glass disappeared and Dudley and Piers fell in. The snake just slithered over them and left the reptile house. No one was hurt," I said.
"Did they catch the snake?" My father asked.
Truth be told they hadn't actually said whether the snake had been caught or not. I had a feeling that it meant that the snake most certainly had not been caught. Good. "I don't think they caught it," I told them.
My father let out another biting laugh. "You wouldn't happen to have a rubber snake around here anywhere?" My father asked. I couldn't help it. I let out a loud snort, matching the ones that my father was making.
"Marcus!" My mother howled. My father turned to stare at her but only ended up laughing even louder. It took her a moment but eventually she began to laugh as well. She had to admit it, it was funny. Especially considering what a ghastly little boy Dudley was. If only Vermin and Horse-Face had fallen into the tank as well. It was well over ten minutes later that we all calmed down enough to speak.
Both of my parents wiped tears from their eyes. "I suppose the important part is that no one was injured. How are the Dursley's taking it with Harry?" My father asked.
The smile on my face fell. "Not well. They're going to lock him in that cupboard for the rest of summer. They know that it was Harry that made the glass vanish. They don't realize that Harry doesn't know a thing about it. The magic or the Wizarding World. They're so afraid that he'll find out and they'll be forced to live this abnormal life. They're blaming him. They sent him to bed without food tonight! They don't get that kid witches and wizards sometimes do magic without meaning too when they experience strong emotions," I ranted.
My mother placed her hand on my shoulder. She gave me a soft smile. "Sweetheart I know that you care about Harry. It's nice to see. He's a good boy. But don't worry. He'll be away from the Dursley's soon enough. You'll both be away at Hogwarts. And in the morning I'll send you over there with some breakfast for him," she consoled me.
They wouldn't even let me bring it to him. I knew the Dursley's well enough to know that they would tell me that they would give it to Harry and then feed it to Dudley. "Why can't we just adopt Harry?" I asked bitterly.
Hey, I'd always wanted a brother. Both of my parents laughed at me and helped me down from the counter as I let out a soft yawn. It had been a long day. I walked up to my bathroom and changed into my matching maroon pajamas. My parents seemed determined that I was going to be in Gryffindor house. Considering that was where they had both been too. They had told me that Harry's parents had both been in Gryffindor too. It sounded like the most similar of houses to the Thunderbird's. Perhaps besides Slytherin. But they would have a canary if I told them that. Evidently there was a nasty House rivalry there.
Once I had my teeth brushed my parents rasped softly at the door. I turned to see that they were both standing in the threshold of the door. "Tara. You mentioned that you were talking to the snake. What do you mean?" My father asked.
I knew that I should have told him that the snake spoke to me. That I had actually been able to understand what the boa was saying to me, but for some reason I couldn't find it in myself to tell him. Something told me that it was not a good thing. Especially the way that my parents had looked at each other before. So I smiled and shook my head.
"You know when you see a cute animal and you start talking to it? That's what Harry and I were doing. We were just talking to it. I think that it was fascinated by the way that our jaws were moving. They're animals. They don't speak. The thing didn't understand what we were doing," I reasoned. "I'm just glad that it didn't bite anyone," I added.
Not that it seemed like it was going to bite anyone. The thing looked more inclined to get out of there and head back home. "We are too. Good night, sweetheart," my mother said. She leaned over and kissed me on the forehead, my father following suit a moment later. "Would you like to go to Diagon Alley with us sometime next week or the week after? We have some shopping to do and we haven't been there yet," my mother offered.
There weren't many ways that I genuinely enjoyed being a girl. But there would always be one. Shopping. Despite the fact that most of the things that I bought were books and Quidditch supplies, I loved shopping. And Diagon Alley was supposed to be one of the best Wizarding World shopping areas. "Absolutely!" I shouted.
My parents both laughed softly. They were obviously expecting me to say yes. "I'll give you a day's notice before we go. You'll have to give Harry some excuse." I nodded sadly. I wanted Harry to be able to go but I knew that he would see it soon enough. We could go Hogwarts shopping together. I gave my parents a quick hug before turning back to my bed. They both let me climb into bed and nod at them to turn the light off.
The room was plunged into darkness and I rolled over to face the window that was facing the Dursley's home. I could see the shadow of Vermin and Horse-Face. They seemed to be arguing. Probably still about what had happened at the zoo. Part of me was hoping that Harry was starting to realize that something was different about him. In just a month, he would realize how different he really was. We would have our letters and be on the way to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. With each passing day I got more and more excited. It was to the point now that I could hardly sleep anymore. There would be real wands and I would get to meet a ton of other witches and wizards. It would be my second home.
After nearly an hour of imagining what Hogwarts would be like, and trying to convince myself that I was still upset over the fact that I wouldn't be going to Ilvermorny, I closed my eyes to try and drift off to sleep. That night I dreamt of sunbathing in the Brazilian rainforests.
A/N: I do respond to reviews! And here I am with a second chapter! I want to set up the first few chapters and establish Tara and her friendship with Harry. My updates usually aren't this fast. Thanks for the follows and favorites! Continue to review please, they encourage me to write faster ;) In the next chapter Tara takes a trip to Diagon Alley and meets some familiar friends. Until next time -A
Guest: Glad you like the story! Hope you continue reading :)
imaginist007: Glad you like it! Hope you continue to enjoy :)
Guest: Glad you like it! I'm not so sure about the Harry/OC, but I have great plans to put her with others in later years ;) And she and Harry will have a wonderful friendship! Hope you liked this update.