Chapter 1 - November 29, 1990
"Get UP!" the voice bellowed and pounded on the door for half a minute. The only occupant of the room, one Harry James Potter, or as he was commonly known in this household, freak, got up and sat on what was to be considered a bed. The thin, worn out, hardened mattress was far from luxurious, but it was a much better deal than his previous accommodations in the cupboard under the stairs, so he couldn't complain. He had lived with the Dursleys- his relatives, and the owners of the place he called home, for ten years now, ever since they had taken him in after he was orphaned at one. This was the first thing that they had drilled into him; that this place was his home, whether he liked it or not. When he asked why he was given a hard slap on his head and introduced to the second rule of the household; don't ask questions.
Harry exited the room, the smallest one in the house on 4, Privet Drive in Little Whinging, Surrey, and visited the bathroom for his morning rituals. He was granted this privilege twice a day for five minutes, and he really did not want to waste it. The memories of that were not pleasant, and Harry did not have many pleasant memories. After finishing up, he proceeded to the kitchen to do his first chore of the day, cooking breakfast. The Dursleys liked to feed themselves as much as they disliked feeding Harry, and Harry was as thin as a stick.
"What took you so long, boy?" Aunt Petunia sneered at from the table where she was sipping a cup of tea. "Don't dilly-dally around now, get cooking". "Yes, Aunt Petunia," said Harry as he picked up the skillet and set to make six-and-a-half helpings of eggs and bacon with toast; three for Uncle Vernon, two for his cousin Dudley, one for his Aunt Petunia, and a half for himself. Petunia gave the boy, who was dressed in the old clothes of her darling Dudley a final look, and evidently satisfied at his working, resumed her attention at the folded paper in front of her.
As he was frying the eggs, his thoughts drifted to the dream he was having. There had been a flying motorcycle in it. And a large man. He had had this dream many times over the years, and he liked it better than the other one. That one was quite unpleasant, with a woman crying and flashes of green light. "Watch it freak, don't burn the bacon," remarked Aunt Petunia, pulling Harry from his thoughts to the frying bacon in front of him. Ladling out the eggs and bacon on the plates, he made sure the servings were perfectly proportioned, his being the only one allowed to ever be lesser than usual. He brought the plates and placed them at the appropriate positions on the table.
"Breakfast is served", Mark called out "Come on dad, it's going to get cold." "Yeah, I'm coming," came the reply, followed by a middle-aged man walking slowly but firmly to the dining table beside the kitchen. "You know, you shouldn't be the one cooking," John said, seating himself, "It's my job to take care of you." "Your job is to get better, dad. You weren't up for it today", interrupted Mark as he poured the coffee for his dad and himself. "Hey! No coffee for you kid" "I was up late last night practising for the performance today," Mark retorted with a hint excitement in his voice. "That doesn't give you a pass, son," said John, in a tone reminiscent of his days as Capt. Smith of the 22nd Regiment, Special Air Services, all the while smiling inwardly at the excitement of his usually shy son.
"Yes, Dad" Mark grumbled, going for the juice instead. "Anyways son, I don't think you need to come with me today. Edwin and I can handle…" "I'm coming, dad" Mark now interrupted his father, in a similar tone that had been just used on him, while buttering the toast he had in his hand. "You handle the chemo better with me there". "But I know how hospitals affect you because of your ability, kid. I don't want to expose you unnecessarily to it," John pleaded. "I've had it under control for over two years, dad. I'll be fine". Mark asserted with a finality that reminded John of his Sarah. "Alright," John grumbled, wondering how in the world his son managed to inherit the stubbornness from both his parents.
"I'm done. I'll go and get ready" remarked Mark as he picked up his plate and took it to the basin to wash before heading to his room. John smiled at the retreating figure of his son; at least he had done something right in managing to teach the kid discipline. He often feared that due to Sarah's absence, he would fall short in being a good parent. His son, however, was a great kid. 'But then,' he wondered, 'Even my dad did alright with me'. His thoughts drifted to the bear of a man who'd raised him and taught him the lessons of life, and then to the rotten fate of the Smith men, losing their mothers early in life. Thinking of Sarah pained him, more than the pain that had been a part of his body for the past six years.
'Bloody Leukaemia'. He snorted. 'That was a good pun' he smiled, before picking up the Times before him while sipping his coffee. He got to the second page when he was interrupted by Mark. "I've got everything dad. I'll see you after school, alright?" he said, holding his large black guitar case, which had John's old Bass, in one hand and his school bag slinging on his other shoulder. "All the best for today, champ" John said with a small grin, "Sweep them off their feet". "I will. Bye", answered Mark before leaving the apartment where they lived.
"And thus, we see x + 3y is 90" droned Mr Wiggins, Harry's algebra teacher. Harry had already zoned out five minutes ago. He had been done with the calculation in his head before then, but since he wasn't supposed to answer anyways, he let his thoughts drift again to the Christmas hols. Maybe he could ask Aunt Petunia for new shoes. His current pair was held together by tape, and they wouldn't last much longer. The chance that she would agree was slim since she had already donated Dudley's last pair at the charity collection in September.
"Mr. Potter" Mr. Wiggins called out, barely holding in his contempt for the delinquent he was being forced to teach "What is the answer to the third question then?". "43" replied Harry, after remembering that the answer was 42. "Wrong answer. Pay attention boy, or I'm sure you wouldn't amount to anything in life." But Harry knew the real answer and thus zoned out his teacher again.
"Can't even do simple maths, hun Scarhead?" Piers Polkiss remarked during lunch. Piers was a smart kid, unlike his friends, and was the reason that they passed school. However, like his friends, he did like to bully people, especially with his bigger friend Dudley, Harry's cousin. Harry cursed inwardly; 'Scarhead' was not a name he liked at all, although it was accurate due to the angular zig-zag scar on his right forehead. It was a reminder of the car crash that had killed his parents and resulted in his being left with the Dursleys. The only thing he did like about himself was his eyes; they were a brilliant shade of emerald green, which he imagined he must have inherited from his parents.
"Perhaps the freak has gone deaf" remarked Malcolm, another one of Dudley's gang remarked. "Let's smack him till he's cured then" Dudley said with a sadistic grin before lunging at Harry. 'Not again' thought Harry, before ducking out of the blow and running away. He evaded them through the school's playground before he heard someone call out to him "Harry Potter!", Ms Jenkins exclaimed, "You will not run around the playground like a ruffian, do you understand!" referring to the oversized hand-me-downs of Dudley that Harry had to dress himself in.
"But, .." "No, buts Mr. Potter. I do not want any pathetic excuses from you, especially ones blaming Polkiss and Dursley. Is that clear?" Harry suppressed his anger at the unfairness of it all, wondering again why he hadn't died in the crash that had scarred him. "Am I being clear, Potter?" Ms Jenkins asked again. "Yes, Ma'am" Harry replied softly, his eyes hiding under the black mop of his now bowed head in obedience, making her nod once before turning away to leave. He watched her turned around the corner before he heard Dudley's voice "So, you thought you could run away then?". Harry groaned inwardly, thinking it was going to be a very long lunch break.
"Happy Birthday!" John exclaimed, wishing his son at the stroke of midnight before wrapping him in a bear hug. "Thanks, dad" mumbled Mark sleepily. "Can we go to sleep now?". "You must be the only eleven-year-old who isn't excited about his birthday, champ," John said with a sense of amusement at his son. "Well, you aren't going to let me see the presents, are you?" retorted Mark "No, you'll see tomorrow with all the other gift you get". "You mean the ones from Edwin? Well, alright. I don't have anything else keeping me awake then, do I? Good night dad". "Good night kiddo. I love you". "Love you too", came the sleepy response, before its owner resigned to bed.
'I'm lucky to have him' thought John, watching the retreating figure of his son. The boy was growing quickly, not unlike himself during his youth. 'And not just vertically' he thought momentarily. Despite his and Edwin's efforts, Mark was not quite keen on physical exercise, besides perhaps swimming in the club pool, and was still quite chubby. 'Perhaps when he starts noticing girls' he pondered, before picturing a grown-up Mark in his mind, his mind supplying the image from his own youth, rendered with the bronze complexion and smooth black hair of Sarah. His thoughts turned to his dead wife, and how she had missed seeing her boy grow up.
Before the thoughts turned to melancholy, he took a deep breath and winced at the pain in his lungs. He would never admit it, but having Mark by his side during the recent treatments had really felt much better, although he knew the effects it had on his son, being surrounded by suffering patients in the hospital. 'maybe he really has it under control now' he wondered, remembering that Mark had not seemed uncomfortable earlier today. He briefly wondered if his son was using his abilities to alleviate the pain during the chemo, but he dismissed that idea from his thoughts, subconsciously fearing its truth.
He looked left from the armchair he was seated on, to the small stack of gifts on the chair. They were mostly books; encyclopaedias and textbooks that Mark had paid more attention at during their last visit to the bookstore. "The Feynman Lectures on Physics" he muttered allowed, remembering the now neatly wrapped suggestion of one Jeremy Watts, engineer, and brother of Sergeant Watts from his old regiment. The man had refused to believe that a ten-year-old, correction, eleven-year-old had already completed 6th form science workbooks, and had finally relented to his requests for suggestions by mentioning a book, which he had called 'Bloody brilliant'. His son was probably going to grow up to be a scientist of some sort, with the amount of time that he spent tinkering around with books and an electronics kit, a seventh birthday present from Staff Sergeant Walker.
'Got it from his mother. She would have..'. John stubbed the thought before it could grow further. Bringing his mind back to the other gift currently stored in his cupboard, he smiled. 'At least he knows how to have fun. Got that from me'. The black and gold Stratocaster had not come cheap, but his boy was a damn better guitarist than him, and his old Bass was not meant for Mark. 'Happy Birthday kiddo' John thought, before putting the wrapped book back on the table and heading for bed.