Chapter 1: The Arrival
I never meant to treat them the way I did. The burdens, spawns, of my hated sister, were dumped on my doorstep along with a note that announced the death of my sister. I remember finding them as though it were yesterday...
Sunday, November 1, 1981
A small wailing, almost a mew, could be heard outside the usually quiet Privet Drive. My eyes fluttered open in annoyance. Vernon, my beloved husband, was sound asleep beside me, completely oblivious to the world around him. I let out a small sigh and stretched, standing up and sliding my feet into my slippers. My hands blindly reached for my bathrobe. I couldn't be seen in just my nightgown after all. I stood by the window and adjusted the blinds to look at the street below me. The whimpering grew louder when I reached the window. My curiosity got the best of me, leaving me no choice but to investigate.
A small wailing, almost a mew, could be heard outside the usually quiet Privet Drive early Sunday morning. Petunia Dursley, having never been one to sleep lightly, sat upright in bed and yawned, eyeing her still sleeping husband before she got ready to investigate the sound. Her hands groped around the side of her bed, searching for her bathrobe that was placed somewhere on her nightstand. A low groan left her lips when she found it and she tugged it toward her, not quite ready to leave the bed.
Petunia yawned, stretching until she felt ready to get up and open the blinds that kept the morning light from entering their bedroom. She released a sigh and made her way downstairs. A tray of empty milk bottles sat at the end of the staircase and Petunia bent down to grab them, figuring it best to have them out before Dudley woke up.
A loud shriek was heard when she opened the door and the milk bottles were sent crashing to the ground. The mewing noise changed to a loud cry, causing the woman to avert her gaze to the two bundles at her feet. Her grey eyes widened in shock at the sight in front of her.
Two babies, both appeared to be a little over a year old, lay on the ground. Each of them was swaddled in a blanket, one blue and one pink. A boy and a girl Petunia concluded. She looked around the street, glad that no one else was around. There were no signs of parents or a wayward teen. She had to do something before the neighbors saw.
She groaned at the thought of the neighbors finding out and picked up the baby in the pink blanket. A little girl with brilliant emerald eyes stared up at her. Petunia almost dropped the infant. She saw the shade of green once before, in the eyes of her younger sister. Petunia began to freak out, stumbling her way back inside. She placed the baby in the middle of the kitchen table and made her way back to the porch to retrieve the crying boy.
Petunia lifted up the little boy, cringing when she spotted the blood on his forehead. She couldn't stop staring at the bloody, lightning shaped cut. A small letter was attached to the side of his blanket. She stepped into the house with a roll of her eyes.
"Dudley had better be sleeping still." She mumbled and shook her head, quickly shutting the door behind her and glancing around to make sure no one saw. The boy sniffled in her arms and looked up at her with the same colored eyes as his sister. Petunia ignored him and brought him into the kitchen to be with his sister. The letter went unnoticed until Petunia set the black haired boy on the table beside the other baby. Her hands shakily reached for the letter, grasping it tight enough to crumple the envelope. She stood there, about to break the seal, until Vernon entered the room.
"Pet, why isn't breakf-" Her husband paused mid-sentence, gaping at the infants on the table. "What are these?"
Petunia didn't answer him at first, having finally opened the letter, clearly surprised by the envelope's contents.
"My sister's children," The answer came out in a small squeak.
"Sister? When did you have a sister?" Vernon stared at Petunia in disbelief. Then the realization hit him. "The one who was shunned from the family for believing in magic?"
"Yes Vern. Lily and James," Petunia nodded and continued. "These are their children. The one in the blue is Harry James and the one in the pink is Iris Leanne." She looked up from the letter and shook her head. "They're both a little over a year old. One month younger than Dudley and already attempting to walk and talk."
Petunia frowned and bit her lip to resist the need to cry at the twins' predicament. Lily's babies were her pride and joy. Her sister wouldn't have traded them for anything in the world. The only reason she knew about the twins' existence prior to finding them on her doorstep was because Lily had the nerve to send a letter with moving pictures to announce their birth. Petunia paled and offered the letter to her husband, unable to continue reading it.
"Mrs. Dursley, we regret to inform you of the untimely death of your sister and her husband," Vernon read aloud. "They were killed in an attack by Lord Voldemort - an evil wizard, similar to a dictator in your world, late last night. What is this crap? Wizards? It's not April fool's day is it?"
"Lily told me about him at one point," Petunia whispered, eyeing the twins with a sad expression.
"The only survivors were their children, Iris Leanne and Harry James Potter. You are the only living family the infants have. I ask that you keep them in your care until they reach age seventeen. I thought it was best to keep them away from the wizarding world until they turn eleven." Vernon's hands began to shake, his face turning a brilliant shade of red. "They're dumping them on our doorstep and expecting us to care for them without complaining. We have a son of our own. Think of the amount of diapers, bottles… the cost to raise three children of the same age. We aren't even being paid to care for them."
"We are taking them in Vernon," Petunia said through gritted teeth. "We can double up on diapers. Even start potty training the two earlier than you normally start to teach a child to. When they can walk without stumbling and falling over… That would be the best time to start."
"And what do we do when they start showing signs of magic?" Vernon growled. "I don't want Dudley to be treated differently because of his cousin's 'abilities'."
"Punish them. Put them in timeout or in the corner. Grounding will be saved for bigger offences." Petunia tilted her head a little. Her eyebrows furrowed in thought. "My parents should have done that with Lily," The words came out in a small whisper. "She could have been saved."
"We have to treat them as though they are normal - at least until they start showing magic. Dudley needs to know that he is better than his cousins." Vernon was almost yelling by the time he finished. "Suppose we squish it out of them. Never mention their past."
"That's the thing, Vernon," Petunia muttered. "They aren't normal." She shot a glance at the twins on the table, ignoring the twinge in her heart as she resisted the urge to pick up one of the babies. "They never will be normal. Look at how my sister and her husband turned out. Dead. Death brought on by their kind." Angry tears dripped down her face. "I don't want that to happen to them... The cupboard. Yes! The cupboard. That is safest. Who would look for a child in a cupboard?"
Vernon opened his mouth to speak and quickly shut it, thinking it wouldn't be wise to interrupt his wife while she was upset.
"Vernon. Go... Go find that spare cot. Make it fit in there. That's where they'll stay, safe and out of the way. The door is thin enough. We will hear them if they start crying."
"You can't just stick two kids in a cupboard, Petunia," Vernon said, scowling a little at the thought. "What will their kind think if they find out about it?"
"They won't find out about it," Petunia rolled her eyes. The couple went quiet after that, highly concerned about what would happen if they let the children into their home.
"Mum mum mum," Iris called out, breaking the silence between Petunia and Vernon. Petunia's emotional mask broke. Tears began to flow down her cheeks as she looked at the girl.
"No," Petunia sighed. "Mummy isn't here."
"Mum," Iris said again. Her little face contorted with worry. She was expecting Lily to walk into the room.
"Mama?" Harry shared his sister's worry. Both twins began to cry when Lily failed to appear. Petunia and Vernon groaned when Dudley's cries were added to the mixture of tears.
"Vernon go get Dudley. I will handle these two," She muttered and picked up Harry. Vernon left the kitchen to calm Dudley.
"Shh," Petunia attempted to comfort him and pull the blanket off of him at the same time. She continued to whisper shush until his crying reduced to sniffling. Petunia placed Harry in Dudley's high chair. She strapped him in and turned around to get Iris.
Iris was still crying. Petunia glared at the baby, only causing her to scream louder. Groaning, she balanced Iris on her hip and walked over to the sink to grab a washcloth. The washcloth was quickly placed under lukewarm water and rung out. She walked over to Harry and set Iris on the ground by the high chair.
"I'm going to clean your cut," Petunia told the boy in the high chair. Her hand reached forward and gently pulled up Harry's hair. She brought the cloth to his head and cringed at the amount of blood the wound created.
"I see why you were crying," She whispered and wiped most of the blood off his head. Harry stayed silent, brilliant green eyes watching all of Petunia's actions.
Iris' stomach growled loud enough for Petunia to hear and she began to cry again.
"You two must be hungry," Petunia muttered and walked around Iris. She opened the fridge and pulled out one of Dudley's unused bottles of formula. She took another bottle out of the sink and poured half of the original bottle's contents into the new one, not bothering with heating them.
Petunia placed one bottle on the highchair. Harry was fast to pick up the bottle. She picked up the still screaming Iris and shoved the bottle into her mouth. Iris' eyes widened at the bottle's sudden intrusion in her mouth. Her screaming turned into hiccoughs as Petunia removed the bottle from her mouth.
"That should keep you quiet," Petunia growled in annoyance. All the crying was giving her a headache, making the little patience she had left disappear.
Iris stared up at Petunia, her tiny hands reached up for the bottle. Petunia brought the bottle to Iris' mouth and allowed her to drink it for a few seconds. She removed the bottle a moment later. This caused the baby to reach up again and pout. Petunia continued to do this until the bottle was mostly gone. She made a game out of it, laughing a little when the baby got annoyed with not being able to drink her bottle in peace.
"This could be fun," Petunia whispered once Iris finished and set the bottle on the table.
Chapter 2: Terrible Threes
Petunia struggles to take the children to daycare.
Three three year olds. That was always fun to explain to people while out in town. No, the two scrawny ones were not actually mine. I glossed over the subject by saying they belonged to my late sister who was killed in a car crash. It was a damn miracle that the twins survived nearly unscratched. They were skinny because Vernon and I saved money by barely feeding them. We told our friends that the twins took after their mother's body type when she was around their age. The lies easily flowed off my tongue.
The children were trained to lie to everyone besides Vernon and me. I would not allow my Dudley live in the shadow of his cousins…
September 6, 1983
"I don't care Vernon." Petunia muttered. She and Vernon were debating placing the three children in their care in a daycare. It would allow Petunia the chance to get to know the ladies of the neighborhood. Privet Drive was a gossip circle. Petunia feared that she would become the center of it if they discovered the Potters' secret.
"We can put them in there for a day. Ms. Leonard said we could leave them in the care of her staff for a day free of charge. Just to see if Dudders likes it." Petunia nodded and sat down on their bed. Jenna Leonard was a good friend of hers. She loved Dudley to pieces and knew how to deal with him.
"What if Dudley doesn't like it, Pet? You know how he is when he doesn't receive enough attention." Vernon said. His face contorted into a frown, "And your sister's kids. Suppose they start showing signs of their freakishness? Or worse, speak of their lack of proper meals?"
"They are three Vernon." Petunia rolled her eyes, "I bet the devils will be more focused on making friends than mumbling about their life here. As for food, give them breakfast and pack a small lunch for the two. Then no dinner if something goes wrong. Problem solved."
"You have an answer for everything." Vernon gave his wife a small smile. He was far too tired to argue with her. "Night, love." He whispered and kissed her forehead.
Petunia sighed and shut off the lights. She lay on the bed thinking for a few minutes. It would be just like the Potters to ruin her chances of getting them and Dudley out of her care for a day or two out of the week.
Petunia woke up early the next morning. Stretching, she took a look at the clock on top of the dresser. Five thirty in the morning. Vernon would wake up around six, Dudley would awaken shortly after. She told Jenna she would have the children at the daycare around eight thirty. Apparently, it was best for the children to get the whole daycare experience of morning to afternoon play.
She did not have much time to muse about the day's events. Vernon would be downstairs soon and breakfast needed to be on the table before he was there. The Potters, she forgot about the Potters, needed to be fed before him. Petunia made her way downstairs. She paused at the bottom to place the empty milk bottles out for the milkman.
Petunia let out a loud groan when she reached the cupboard that held the Potter siblings. She made a fist and banged on the door.
"Up. You two…" Petunia snarled as she unlocked the cupboard door. No response came from its occupants. She hit the door again, "Now." Petunia opened the door. The twins were sound asleep on their cot with their arms wrapped around each other; an angelic picture that shouldn't have been disturbed.
Petunia groaned and knelt on the ground. She pulled on the single string light in the cupboard, allowing it to illuminate the children. Her hands gently shook the child closest to her, the boy. Harry flinched in surprise, causing his sister to wake up. His bleary, green eyes stared up at Petunia. Fear was evident in the look he gave her.
"Harry, Iris," Petunia spoke with a sickly sweet tone, "It's time to get up." She did not fool the children though. The twins were up and out of bed moments after Petunia spoke to them. They each yawned and exited the cupboard. Two pairs of green eyes studied Petunia for a moment before nervously glancing at the floor. Harry and Iris were both wearing over-sized t-shirts that once belonged to Vernon.
"Kitchen, now." Petunia barked and ushered the two into the kitchen. Iris and Harry stood in the doorway that separated the kitchen and front hallway.
They learned to avoid being in the way the hard way. Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon were very short tempered when it came to their niece and nephew. A light smack here and there got the point across. Do not be in the way unless you want to be punished. They felt it was best if the children didn't talk back to them or ask them for things. That was rule number one. Don't ask questions and don't speak unless you are spoken to. They could not prevent the toddler speak that happened between the twins. Separating the two didn't seem to work and only made them cry. She and Vernon agreed that something would need to be done about that when they were older. They would have to be together for now.
Petunia put two pieces of bread in the toaster. She would give them to the twins after she gave them a sponge bath and explained that they weren't allowed to mess up their new outfits. Petunia moved on to making Vernon and Dudley's breakfast. Both her boys needed a respectable amount of food. The smell of eggs and bacon filled the air and made Iris and Harry fidget. Their stomachs growled with hunger.
"Oh, what?" Petunia gave the youngsters an annoyed look. "Are you hungry or something?"
Iris nodded and Harry muttered a small, "Yes ma'am." Petunia rolled her eyes in response.
"Sure you are." She said. The eggs and bacon needed to cook a little longer. Petunia ignored the pop of the toaster. Her footsteps echoed through the silent kitchen as she made her way to the fridge.
"I honestly can't wait for the day you two are able to cook for yourselves," Petunia muttered while she rummaged through the fridge. "Lord knows I'll be happier."
The fridge door slammed shut and made Harry and Iris jump. One twin stared at the toaster while the other watched Petunia. The sounds of Vernon waking Dudley up could be heard from upstairs. Petunia groaned and handed the cold pieces of toast to Harry and Iris. The two looked at her then the bread. Petunia raised one of her eyebrows.
"You can eat." She rolled her eyes and watched her niece and nephew eat the bread like it was the first bit of food they were given in months.
Petunia placed two glasses of water on the table. "Drink." She ordered. Harry and Iris did as they were told. Iris silently handed Petunia her empty cup. She dropped the last cup she tried to put in the sink and Vernon slapped her for interrupting Dudley's television time. It was enough to scare her out of trying to put anything in the sink again. Petunia took Harry's glass as well and set them down in the sink.
"Well?" Petunia turned to face Harry and Iris. "Are you stupid? Don't just stand there thinking that Vernon would want to see the two of you this early in the morning." She shoved a bag of clothes into Harry's hands, "Go. Go get dressed. And Iris?" She called after the retreating figure of the redheaded girl. Iris gulped and looked at Petunia from over her shoulder.
"Yes, Aunt Tunia?" The child nervously asked.
"You have new stockings. I expect you to keep them clean and hole-less." The girl nodded in response and scampered into the cupboard, slamming the door shut seconds before Vernon and Dudley came downstairs.
Iris grabbed the bag from her brother and opened it. New clothes, with the price tags still attached, were in the bag. They must have been really good for Petunia to give them such a rare treat. They might even get to keep them for good if they behaved well enough!
"Harry look!" She whispered to her brother. Iris couldn't hide her excitement over the thoughts of a new outfit. "N-new clothes." She held up a dress and gave Harry a huge smile.
A russet colored dress with blue polka dots and a headband to match would serve as Iris' outfit for the day. The best part was that it fit her almost perfectly. Iris ran a thin hand through her hair a few times before placing the headband on her head. She gingerly put the stockings on her feet, careful to keep her feet off the floor until her shoes were on, and handed Harry the bag. The siblings remained silent. They didn't need uncle Vernon barging in and yelling at them for being too loud.
Harry was given a blue t-shirt, similar to the color of his sister's polka dots, and trousers. He placed the pants on first. The lack of buttons and a zipper made it easy for him to change. The shirt was another easy change. He finished the look with his worn-in sneakers.
The slamming of the front door brought the twins back to reality. Vernon must have just left for work. Iris and Harry looked at each other, non-verbally agreeing that it was time to grace Petunia with their presence again.
The two cautiously opened the cupboard door and walked into the kitchen. Petunia seemed to appear out of nowhere. Hairbrush in hand, she flew towards Iris and picked the struggling girl up. Iris let out a shocked squeak.
"No!" She shouted, "I already did my-"
"Shut up," Petunia growled. Her hand dragged the comb through Iris' hair. The girl attempted to squirm away from her in response. "I could always cut this you know." Iris stiffened. She would never risk losing her hair.
"I like my hair." She whined. It wasn't like her to talk back to Petunia but she spoke the truth. The girl's bright red hair was her favorite feature. She loved the color of it and the way it sat on her shoulders. It was the perfect hair length in her opinion.
"Then keep still," Petunia muttered and continued to comb her niece's hair. She roughly placed the headband back on Iris' head and said, "Stay here."
Iris heard the sound of running water and Petunia talking to herself. She could not understand most of what was being said but she did hear her and her brother's names pop up more than once. The sound of the television and Dudley's laughter could be heard from the living room. Petunia's mindless rant stopped while she listened to her son's happiness.
"Boy?" Petunia called out as she walked back over to Iris. Harry took a step forward. He and Iris both looked at their aunt.
"Yes, Aunt Petunia?" The aunt stared down at both the children as though they were some sort of disgusting bug. She robotically picked up Harry, being sure to keep him as far away from her as she could to keep him from thinking she was going to hug him, and sat the boy on the space beside the sink. She lifted a soapy rag and began to clean his face, arms, and any other skin that was not covered by his clothes. Petunia did the same to Iris and kept the twins seated next to each other.
"I have some rules for you." Petunia grimaced. "You two and Dudley are going to daycare today." She spoke in a demeaning tone. "That means someone besides myself will be watching you for the day. I expect you to be on your best behavior. No funny business or whining… Are you even listening to me?"
Iris and Harry nodded and murmured, "Yes Aunt Tunia."
"Good. Now go use the bathroom and make sure you wash your hands. Then grab your blankets and get ready to get in the car." Petunia dragged both the twins off the sink and shepherded them to the bathroom. She walked away from the two of them, glancing at the stove clock on her way to get her Dudley.
Eight-fifteen. There were fifteen minutes left to get to the daycare on time. Dudley would not like having his television program interrupted but he would have to deal with it. She shut the television off with no warning and ignored her son's screams, contentedly picking him up and carrying him to the front door.
"Shh." Petunia cooed, "Dudley, I have a treat for you." Her son's eyes widened at the mention of a treat. His crying automatically stopped.
"Give me! Give me give me!" Dudley shouted and excitedly clapped his hands. Petunia gave him a red lollipop, hoping to keep him quiet for the ride, and carried him out to the car. Harry and Iris trailed behind her.
Each twin carried the pink and blue baby blanket they were wrapped in when they first arrived on the Dursley's doorstep. Petunia didn't have the heart to throw out or destroy the cloths her sister created. Harry and Iris would throw a humongous temper tantrum over the loss of the only memory of their parents. Petunia and Vernon figured the headaches from the number of tears that were bound to come from the blanket destruction was not worth it. The twins were lucky she was kind enough to run the pieces of fabric through the washing machine once a week.
Petunia carefully strapped Dudley into his seat then turned to face the twin terrors behind her. They were still too young to buckle themselves in. Petunia shook her head as she strapped them both into their seats.
"I expect a quiet ride." She glared at Harry and Iris. She normally sat Dudley in between the twins but a recent discovery caused her to stop that seating arrangement. Her son enjoyed pinching and poking his cousins. Petunia and Vernon couldn't stand listening to their niece and nephew snivel about being Dudley's car ride entertainment. Petunia slammed the door shut and double checked that the house door was locked. They were finally ready to leave.
The Dursleys arrived at Ms. Leonard's daycare promptly at 8:30. Petunia parked the car in front of the building. She quickly got all three kids out of the car and brought them into the building. Excited shouts from children greeted Petunia's ears as soon as the door was opened. She sniffed, not liking the loudness. It almost made her thankful for how quiet her sister's kids were.
"Petunia." A happy voice called from behind her. Petunia turned to face the owner of the voice and plastered a smile on her lips.
"Jen." Petunia greeted her old friend with a warm hug.
"Who are these little dears?" Jennifer asked Petunia. She motioned to the three children standing behind Petunia.
Petunia was taken aback by the use of dears. She quickly recovered though, her forced smile returning to her lips.
"This," She picked up Dudley, "is my son Dudley." Petunia ushered Iris and Harry in front of her. The two shyly looked down at their feet. "And these are my niece and nephew… Iris and Harry."
"Aren't you two adorable?" Jennifer asked the twins. They just looked up at her, clearly unsure about how to respond to the stranger.
"They are both a little shy." Petunia stated. "They probably got that from my sister."
Jennifer nodded in understanding, "If you'll follow me…" Jen turned and walked into a large room. There were children a few years older than Dudley in it, all gathered around a teacher, listening to a book. Jennifer stepped through a door off to the side of the room. Petunia was happy to see that there were only a couple of children, all around her son's age, inside.
"Naomi?" Jennifer called to the only adult in the room. A blonde haired woman wandered over to them.
"Yes, Jen?" She asked.
"I'd like to introduce you to Petunia Dursley. She is the one with the three kids I told you about last week." Naomi glanced at Petunia and gave her an understanding smile. "She brought the children here today to give the daycare a try."
"It's nice to meet you, Petunia," Naomi said. Her gaze went from Petunia to each child finally resting on Iris. "I don't believe I have ever seen such a shade of red before…" She sounded awestruck.
"Iris gets her looks from her mother." Petunia grumbled through gritted teeth. Iris was always the attention grabber. The neighbors were always going on about how gorgeous she would be once she grew older.
"Such a pretty name for a beautiful girl." Naomi grinned at Iris. The girl gave Naomi a small smile in return. She was already beginning to like the lady.
"And who are these two?" Naomi looked from Harry to Dudley.
"My son Dudley…" Petunia put Dudley on the ground, "And my nephew Harry."
Dudley clung to Petunia's leg, whimpering, "Don't leave me, mummy."
"I'm sure they will love it here." Naomi ensured Petunia. She then knelt down and looked at Dudley. "Dudley, do you like books and puzzles?"
Dudley nodded, slowly releasing his mother's leg.
"Would you like to use one while we wait for the other children to arrive and finish their breakfast?" She asked him.
"Yes." He gasped excitedly.
Naomi pointed to a basket that held puzzles. Dudley left Petunia's side and ran to the box.
"I think we're good to go." Jennifer spoke up, "We'll call you if any problems occur." She told Petunia and led her back through the other room. Petunia took one last look at her son. He seemed happy. She did not want to ruin it for him.
"Alright." Petunia whispered. She still did not like the idea of leaving Dudley alone with his cousins. "Just keep an eye on Iris and Harry. The two are trouble."
Petunia did not give Jennifer another glance as she walked back to the car.
"Everyone sit on a spot on the rug," Naomi called to the children in her room. Harry and Iris sat in front of her. Dudley was sitting with a few of the boys in the room. The difference between the cousins was evident but she knew not to point it out. She smiled at the children who were all looking up at her. "We have a few guests in our room today. Dudley, Harry, Iris come stand up here." The three did as she said. "Could you tell the class your names?"
"Dudley," Dudley said happily. "And they're boy and girl."
Iris blushed when Dudley introduced them like that. She and Harry stared blankly at the other kids in the room. Naomi looked shocked, taking a moment to assess Dudley's words.
"Well yes, you are right, Dudley." She announced after a moment, "They are a boy and a girl. Would you please tell us your names?" It seemed to take a while, but Iris finally seemed to find her voice.
"I'm Iris." She whispered, "And this is my brother Harry."
"Can everyone tell Harry, Dudley, and Iris their names?" Naomi asked the other children in the class. She pointed at a blonde haired girl towards the back.
"Mia." The blonde haired girl announced.
"Declan." A brown hair boy cheerfully said.
"I'm Nicole." A girl who was clearly the oldest in the room grinned.
"John." A boy whispered.
"Rebecca." A shy girl spoke with her fingers over her mouth.
"I'm Piers." The boy was rat-faced and mean looking. He pointed at two boys beside him, "And these two are Harley and Brian."
"Thank you, class." Naomi grinned. "How about we start the day with the alphabet?"
"Yay!" The kids cheered. Dudley, Harry, and Iris sat on the ground again. There were so many new faces and names to remember. It was different from life at home, where it was just the three of them, Petunia, and Vernon.
The room was happy until nap time came around.
Petunia rushed through the supermarket, barely paying attention to where she was going. She needed to get the ingredients for tonight's pot roast. She hurriedly pushed her shopping cart around the store only stopping when she nearly collided with someone.
"I am so sorry." Petunia said and offered to help the person pick up the tomato can they dropped. She handed back to them and gasped, "Mrs. Figg?"
"Petunia Dursley." Mrs. Figg greeted her. "Where are your kids?" The old woman asked. Petunia did not dare correct her about only having one child.
"At daycare." Petunia sniffed. "I figured I would see how Iris, Harry, and Dudley were around other children. My friend offered to take them in for the day so I could run some errands."
Mrs. Figg tilted her head a little, "I would gladly watch Harry and Iris if you ever found yourself in need of a sitter. You know where to find me. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back home to my cats."
Petunia did not get the chance to say anything in response. Mrs. Figg made her feel odd for some reason. Petunia shook away the feeling and made her way to the checkout.
"Give it back," Harry screamed. Tears were flowing from his eyes. He was pointing at Dudley, trying to get his blanket back. It was nap time at the daycare.
"No." Dudley laughed from across the room. Naomi let out a loud sigh. She asked Dudley to give his cousin's blanket back three times now.
"Dudley please," Naomi begged. He answered by sticking his tongue out at her and putting the blanket on the ground, standing on it.
Harry let out another upset whimper. His small hands wiped tears away from the side of his face. Iris lay asleep on the ground pink blanket tightly held in her hands.
Naomi tiptoed towards Dudley silently reaching down to pick up the blanket. She and Dudley both stepped away from it when the blanket suddenly lifted into the air as though an invisible string raised it to the ceiling. The cloth floated across the room and landed on a shocked Harry's lap.
"G-g-g-ghost." Dudley stammered, his face paling. Naomi opened and closed her mouth. She gave Harry a nervous glance and picked up the phone, quickly dialing the extension to reach Jen. Harry looked bemused. He was just as confused as the others who saw what happened.
"Jennifer…" Naomi whispered. "I don't know what just happened but…" She couldn't form full sentences. "Okay."
Naomi shakily hung up the phone. She kept her distance from Harry and stood behind Dudley. Nothing like that happened before.
Jennifer walked into the room, frowning when she saw Naomi and Dudley.
"What happened here?" She asked. Curiosity was evident in her tone.
"He made his blanket float across the room," Naomi whispered.
Jennifer rolled her eyes, "Really now, Naomi? You and I both know that isn't possible."
"I am not lying." Naomi's voice grew louder. "I don't know how Harry did it but he did. It was like the thing was being reeled in by a fishing pole."
"Ghost," Dudley added, nodding as though his words were more important than Naomi's.
Jennifer looked at Dudley and asked, "Ghost?"
"Ghosty bring the blanket to Harry." Harry shivered and shook his head. He looked just as shaken as Dudley and Naomi.
"It was like magic," Naomi stated.
Jen shook her head. Were they joking or did Harry actually do something? She would have to call Petunia just to warn her of the afternoon's events.
Petunia reacted way better than Jennifer expected while she was on the phone. She calmly came to the daycare and picked up the three children, making sure to apologize to Naomi on her way out. This surprised Jen. It was almost like Petunia expected some form of phone call regarding one or both of the twins
"Mommy I want to go back." Dudley chirped in the car on the way back home. "I want Piers to come over and play with me."
Petunia nearly pushed down on the break. He actually enjoyed being there?
"Okay, we'll see son." She muttered and kept driving.
The car ride home was silent after that. Dudley fell asleep and the twins knew better than to talk since Petunia picked them up early. It was their fault. They could tell their aunt was silently fuming. The opening of the car door was the first sound to announce their arrival home. Petunia picked up Dudley and waited for the twins to get out and forced them into the house.
"Go to your cupboard." Petunia hissed. "You will stay there until Vernon or I decide to let you out. Don't even think about asking for supper." The twins whimpered and huddled together on their cot.
The slamming of the door and the click of the lock plunged the two into darkness.
Chapter 3: Haircuts, Sweaters, and Frying Pans
Accidental magic gets Harry and Iris into some rather unfavorable predicaments.
The children did not begin to show any abnormal abilities until school began. Teachers called left and right about everything from the boy getting in trouble with the school bully (my poor Dudders was caught in that mess) to the girl dying a teacher's hair pink. Vern and I did not approve of their actions. They began to stay in the cupboard for days at a time as punishment. It was Vernon's idea to withhold food from them. We used a strike system. Three strikes followed by a severe punishment. The children needed to behave. Babying them would only lead to more trouble in the future...
November 25, 1985
Harry Potter found himself in the worst predicament ever. His aunt was trying to force an ugly old sweater of Dudley's on over his head. There were hideous pompoms on it. Even Dudley called it ugly and demanded that Petunia throw it out. Petunia refused to simply toss it.
"Harry please keep still..." Petunia groaned and gave the sweater another tug. Her nephew was doing all he could to keep the sweater from fully getting on his body.
"No." A muffled voice answered from somewhere in the sweater.
Petunia let out a growl. She wasn't going to let a good sweater go to waste. Her hands worked to keep the sweater on her nephew's head. Harry put up a good fight, making it basically impossible to put the ugly hand-me-down on his head.
The pair continued to struggle. Harry squirmed and Petunia got frustrated and tried harder. This went on for a few minutes. Petunia quickly grew tired though. A defeated sigh came from her lips.
"Freeze to death for all I care," Petunia muttered and ripped the sweater off of Harry's head. She let out a gasp when she saw the size of it. The once overly large sweater was now the size of a hand puppet's shirt. Accidental magic. The boy must have done it while struggling. Petunia knew she and Vernon agreed on punishing the children whenever one or both of them showed signs of magic. She gulped and eyed Harry.
Harry looked just as shocked as she did. His eyes, the same green as her sister's, watched the sweater as if he were waiting for it to suddenly grow. Petunia could not bring herself to punishing him. He did not know what happened and she couldn't fathom a way to explain it. The boy was just being a child; someone who did not want to wear the ugly sweater his cousin rejected.
"Harry... Just go." Petunia finally whispered. "Go on, to your cupboard..."
Harry obliged, slipping into the cupboard. He sat in the dark and wrapped his arms around his middle.
"How did I do that?" He asked himself.
"It must have shrunk." Petunia could be heard talking outside. "Shrunk in the wash."
Harry was thankful for that reaction. Petunia probably would have screamed at him if most of her energy was not wasted on attempting to make him wear the sweater.
April 6, 1986
"Next." The monotone voice of the receptionist called.
"Go on, girl..." Vernon muttered and forced the girl toward the desk. "She and her brother need a haircut. Their aunt decided their hair is getting too long."
"Oh. My. Goodness." A young woman, the name tag on her shirt stated that her name was Sheila, gasped, running one of her hands through Iris' hair. "It's-"
"Yes, yes we know," Vernon interrupted, "So red. You've never seen anything like it." Iris rolled her eyes at her uncle. Luckily the action went unnoticed. "Could you just cut her hair? I am on a very tight schedule."
Sheila gave Vernon an odd look. She raised an eyebrow, frowning at the man. "I was just going to do that." She grabbed Iris' hand and gently dragged her tow one of the chairs. An apron quickly appeared around Iris' neck once she sat down.
"Now what are we going to do with your hair?" She offered Iris a friendly smile.
"I don't know." Iris stared at her reflection in the mirror. She liked her hair as it was. Aunt Petunia only just began to let the hair grow longer instead of cutting it to make it look like a boy's hairstyle. "My aunt always cut it short…" Iris added through gritted teeth. "B-but I've always wanted it to be long."
"How about this? I'll trim your hair and give you a nice fringe-" Sheila began to ask.
"No fringe." Iris was quick to interrupt, her features flushing when she realized she was being rude. "I'm s-sorry, just a trim please."
Sheila never saw a child react like that.
"No fringe." She assured the girl and began to work with her hair.
"Whatever you can do to shorten his hair and keep the scar hidden on his forehead," Vernon grunted at the hairstylist who would end up trimming Harry's hair as he passed by Iris' seat. He paused for a moment and watched Sheila trim off little bits of his niece's hair.
"No, no. You need to cut more off. I would hate to see my wife's reaction to the little change in the girl's hair. We need to get our money's worth out of this trip." A brief look of astonishment crossed Iris' face. She forced her eyes shut, knowing that her hair would probably be cropped short again.
"Come now, Harry," Vernon grumbled and forced the boy to sit on the chair.
"Uncle Vernon I-" Harry tried to complain.
"You nothing." Vernon rolled his eyes. His gaze softened when the stylist came over with the razors required to cut the boy's hair.
"Shave almost all of it off." He instructed. "Just leave the hair over the scar."
Iris cringed when she heard the razor roar to life. She knew Harry would not be happy with the cut. It was bound to grow back quickly anyway.
"Alright dear, your haircut is done." Sheila brought Iris' thoughts back to the present. "You can open your eyes now."
Iris gasped when she saw herself, "It looks so… so…" She couldn't describe it. Sheila managed to give her a haircut that looked girly; the opposite of the quick snips her aunt used to take out of it. "Pretty." The last word came out as a whisper. "Thank you so much."
"You are very welcome." Sheila helped Iris off of the chair. "Would you like a lollipop to suck on while you wait for your brother? You were so still while I cut your hair. One of the best customers I've had." The Dursleys never gave Harry and Iris sweets. They were not allowed to ask for them or expect them. Being offered one was a different story in Iris' book.
"Yes please." The girl grinned.
"Which color?" Sheila offered her a basket of lollipops. Iris hesitated and took the first one her fingers reached.
"Thanks…" Iris grinned and popped the sucker into her mouth. A part of it still remained once Harry and Uncle Vernon made their way towards the front of the shop. She removed the lolly from her mouth, desperately hoping that Vernon did not notice the forbidden sweet. Vernon quickly paid for the two haircuts. He tried to ignore the way that Harry's hair looked. It seemed to be sneaking its way out of the boy's scalp.
"Come along you two…" He beckoned, keeping his temper under control until the children were buckled into their car seats.
Iris was the first to receive the outburst. She tried to hide the shocked look on her face when Vernon ripped the lollipop from her fingers and flung it on the ground.
"I THOUGHT PETUNIA AND I TAUGHT YOU TO ASK US BEFORE ACCEPTING THINGS FROM STRANGERS." Vernon roared and stuck the key in the ignition. He seemed to shake as he drove the car. "And boy, did they even cut your hair? You should not already have a full head of hair. The price to make up for that will cost you four meals each. No dinner today, breakfast, lunch, or dinner tomorrow. No snacks either."
The twins stared at their uncle. They were too afraid to speak up for themselves. Iris sniffled, having never enjoyed being yelled at.
"Why can't you both just learn to behave?" An enraged Vernon Dursley snarled, turning around to face the two shivering five-year-olds in the back of the car. Iris and Harry Potter stared at their uncle. His face was a putrid purple that darkened as he eyed Harry through the rear-view mirror. The boy's hair looked exactly the same as it was before the cut. At least the girl had the decency to try to look normal and not waste his hard earned money.
"We will sir." Iris tried to reassure her uncle. The girl's red hair seemed to shine. Petunia would not like; it was too close to Lily's. Vernon scowled at the child, snarling as he spoke.
"Oh hell, you will. Don't think I'm not afraid of abandoning you at an orphanage. We should have left you at one from the start."
Harry opened his mouth to speak, blinking confusedly at the words his uncle had said, "An orphanage? What is an orphanage?" The questions came out faster than Harry expected.
Vernon thought for a moment and suddenly pulled over to the side of the road. A mischievous smirk took over his features. The children did not know what an orphanage was. It was his moment to scare his niece and nephew with a threat that would linger for years to come.
"Imagine waking up in a dreary, grey brick building one morning after a night that you anger your aunt and me," He began, turning to face Harry and Iris, "Confined in a small room with a few other children, stomach rumbling with hunger. But the meal never comes. You wear rags, shivering on the floor with no blankets to protect you from the cold. You are not allowed to go to school." A twisted grin formed on Vernon's lips. "You are hungry. Starvation and lack of sleep cause you to move slowly. The caretaker, an evil old woman, and her friends beat you for speaking out of turn. Oh, you earn more than just a spanking or a slap across the face... They separate siblings you know and change your names too. Harry and Iris Potter once brother and sister now Patricia and Marcus. Never allowed to see or speak to each other."
Harry whimpered. He and Iris stared at their uncle, looking absolutely terrified. Vernon paused to take in the twins' expressions. The looks on their faces gave him the power he needed to continue.
"I could do it- Snatch you two up while you are sleeping in your cupboard and bring you to the orphanage... Two less mouths for Petunia and myself to feed."
Iris and Harry glanced at each other. Harry still looked confused, almost angered with their uncle, but Iris seemed upset.
"Y-y-you wouldn't do that, right Uncle Vernon?" Iris whimpered. She disliked the idea of her brother being stolen from her.
"I would," Vernon smirked, pulling back onto the road. This caused both Harry and Iris to sit on the edge of their car seats. They looked around, clearly scared, waiting to see where their uncle would take them. The twins let out a sigh of relief when the car pulled into number four privet drive.
"And your aunt would too." Vernon finished his thought from earlier. "Now get out of my sight."
August 4, 1986
Iris Potter somehow managed to get out of Petunia's line of vision. The girl was hiding behind the only tree in the garden.
"Iris?" Petunia's voice called out through the kitchen window. It was soft, as though the woman was trying to be kind. She waited a moment before calling out again. "Iris..."
"Iris Leanne Potter." The aunt shrieked. She raised a soapy frying pan from the sink and slammed it against the counter beside her. "I swear if I have to come out there myself..."
Iris bit her lip to keep from giving her location away. She needed to stay hidden. A single flower bud rested in the palm of her hand. Iris extended her fingers, allowing the flower to pulse. It seemed to dance. The petals opened and closed around the flower in a pattern that seemed unnatural. Iris could not take her eyes off it. She never heard the sliding door open.
"Just what do you think you're doing?" Aunt Petunia stood in front of Iris, towering over her niece.
Iris flinched, stuffing her hands behind her back, "Nothing, miss. I was just getting ready to go inside if you must know."
Petunia lifted her arm and slapped the girl across the face. An angry red mark formed on Iris' cheek. Tears threatened to spill from her eyes.
"Liar." she hissed, roughly grabbing Iris' arms and dragging her forward. "Now show me what you have got behind your back."
Iris bit her lip, she did not want to get slapped again. Her cheek was tingling in pain. Sighing, she held out her left hand, carefully showing her aunt the flower.
Petunia let out a shocked gasp. She never imagined another red-headed girl doing the flower trick her sister did when they were kids. She was temporarily caught off guard.
"Would you stop that?" Petunia snapped.
"No." Iris glared at her aunt. "It's not hurting you... Or the flower."
"Wrong answer, girl." Aunt Petunia growled and slapped the flower out of her niece's pale hand. She recovered, silently digging her nails into the child's arm as she forced the struggling girl into the kitchen.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry." Iris screamed once the sliding door slammed shut. Tears freely flowed from the girl's emerald green eyes. Petunia shoved the child further into the house and dragged her toward the kitchen. She shoved her against the kitchen sink, eyeing Iris as though she were some bug on a windshield. Harry stood hidden behind the wall that separated the kitchen and the lounge room, having never heard his sister cry out like that.
"You freak." Petunia spat. "You good for nothing little freak. Exactly like your mother from your hair color to your attitude. I should have saved her from herself." She reasoned, weighing the pan in her hand. "Beat it out of her while I had the chance."
Iris' eyes widened as she tried to back away. Luck was not on her side though; she found herself stuck in a corner unable to find an escape route away from her aunt.
"You and your brother will be different though. Any signs of 'funny business'," Petunia was beginning to like using Vernon's terms, "will have its consequences. That stunt with the flowers was not something your uncle and I would have liked. I need to make sure you do not do it again."
Iris let out a frightened squeak. Petunia turned to face the skinny girl at some point. The woman looked absolutely enraged. Iris felt like a small mouse waiting for a lion to attack it. Then it hit her. Clang. The connection of metal and skin echoed through the kitchen.
The frying pan came from nowhere. Iris stumbled back from the blow, dizzily clinging to the sides of the sink to keep from falling over. She took the blow in silence for fear of the one that could follow if any signs of weakness appeared on her face.
Petunia took a calming breath, watching Iris with a raised eyebrow. The child stared up at her, Iris was seeing double, a look of fear was etched on her face. She took another breath and slowly took a step away from Iris. The girl looked so weak. She almost felt bad. Lily's demeanor seemed to take over the girl's body as she finally seemed to regain her vision.
"What do you want?" Petunia barked. She was not speaking to Iris though; it was Harry. Her nephew finally found the courage to peek his head around the door frame.
Harry did not respond. He was too busy eyeing his sister, cautiously taking a few steps towards her.
"Iri-" He reached for her.
"DO NOT TOUCH HER." Petunia shouted. She found the flinch that ran through both her niece and nephew's bodies rather funny.
Iris raised a hand to her forehead. Her head felt like it was going to split in two. She could already feel the gigantic welt beginning to form on the left side of her head. Green eyes darted between her aunt and her brother. All she wanted was to lie down in her cupboard to escape from the throbbing pain in her head and the antics of her aunt.
"I think this," Petunia pointed her arm at Iris, inclining her head towards the swaying girl, "Is a good enough example as to why your uncle and I do not want either of you to behave oddly. I assure you we won't run out of punishments. Iris? Girl, are you even listening to me?"
Iris shut her eyes, the swaying was making her even dizzier than she had felt before, finally collapsing to the ground.
Harry rushed to his sister's side.
"Iris wake up." He whined, shaking her shoulder. He glanced at his aunt and gave her a look that silently pleaded for help. Petunia shook her head in response, taking her time as she grabbed a cup of water from the sink.
"Move." She shoved Harry to the side and dumped the cup of water over Iris' head, silently fanning the air around the girl. Iris let out a groan in response. She didn't move though. Harry stayed silent, watching his aunt with slight curiosity.
"What? She'll recover." Petunia muttered and picked up the feather-light child on the ground. "Open the cupboard."
Harry did, wincing as his aunt dropped his sister on the cot. Petunia's brisk footsteps could be heard retreating to the kitchen. The sound grew louder as she turned towards Harry.
"Make sure you ice that." Petunia coached him, forcing an ice pack into her nephew's hand. Harry nodded in response. He would do his best to make sure his sister was alright.
Petunia left Harry standing in the middle of the hallway. The woman made her way into the kitchen, sitting in one of the chairs with a cup of tea, awaiting the return of Vernon and Dudley. She would later tell Vernon that the lump had formed when the girl had attempted to grab a ceramic box from a high shelf.
"Iris please…" Harry whispered, pressing the ice to Iris' forehead again. "Please wake up."
It was dark in the cupboard. Enough light shined through the crack at the bottom of the door for Harry to see his sister.
"Come on…" Harry placed a kiss on his sister's forehead. She was beginning to stir.
"H-H-Harry?" she called out in the darkness.
"Sh." He responded with a frown. "I'm right here."
"What happened?" The girl looked confused. She winced and held a hand to her forehead.
"You took a nasty fall. That's all." Harry protectively wrapped his arms around his sister. "Just try to sleep. It won't hurt as much in the morning."
"You promise?" Harry frowned and lightly squeezed his sister. Lying was bound to give her some hope.
"Yeah," He murmured, "I promise."
Chapter 4: Family Trees
An assignment involving family trees leaves Iris and Harry looking for answers.
"Aunt Petunia, what were my parents like?" It took seven years for one of the Potters to question the existence of their parents. Their school assigned a project that involved creating a family tree. Dudley prepared his easily. "Mother, father, Aunt Marge, Dudley, boy, and girl" was originally written down. It took a few minutes to correct his error of boy and girl being Harry and Iris. A discussion with Vernon was needed later that night. I told him to start referring to the Potters by the names their parents gave them while Dudley was around. The neighbors would talk if they heard the little "darlings,” devils in my opinion, next door answered to boy and girl. But that was beside the point.
The Potters' project would be much more of a challenge when compared to Dudley's. My husband and I did what we could to keep any signs of my sister and her bloody husband away from the children. It worked until school started…
September 29, 1987
It was an exceptionally beautiful September day. School started, Dudley began to play with his friends again, and the Potters were away from Petunia's watchful eye for a few hours each day. The world of number four Privet Drive could be described as blissful. The house was practically silent, one of Petunia's favorite moments to break from her daily ritual of cleaning, not a single noise was heard besides the few sips of tea Petunia Dursley took when her grey orbs took a chance away from the magazine she was reading. She felt unusually happy for the first time in months. Her moments of relaxation were rare and unfortunately short lived. Petunia was oblivious to the world and even more oblivious to the hushed sounds of her niece and nephew arguing in the dismal cupboard they shared.
"No, you do it." Iris hissed and shot a glare at her brother. The twins were sat on the small cot that was their bed. The young girl held a pencil and a pad of paper in one hand. A poorly drawn family tree sat on the top of the first page. She and Harry were supposed to be making a tree to explain their family history to the class on Monday once the weekend was over. Thankfully, they were able to work together on the project. The paper was covered in eraser shavings and the twins were growing restless. They set the page up just as the teacher instructed them but something was missing- two blanks that would hold the names of their parents and show the relationship to Aunt Petunia.
"But I asked a question last time," Harry whispered and raised a hand to rub his right cheek. Thin, barely visible bruises outlined where Vernon hit him when he asked for a little extra pocket money.
"We'll duel for it then." Iris sighed. She brushed a little hair off her shoulder. It became a brilliant red color. The teachers all claimed to have never seen such a shade. "Rock, paper, scissors?"
"Rock, paper, scissors," Harry repeated. The twins grinned at each other and held a silent round of rock, paper, scissors. Iris won.
"Paper beats rock." She told a dejected Harry. "I'll come with you though." Iris stood and gently nudged the cupboard door. The smallest of smiles formed on her lips when the door swung open. Their aunt's threat of punishing them for getting home from school a few minutes late must have been forgotten. The twins exited the cupboard and glanced at the kitchen. Aunt Petunia looked as though she should be left alone. Homework, however, was much more important than their aunt's peaceful state. Two pairs of green eyes stared at the aunt.
"Aunt… Aunt Petunia, may I ask you something?" Harry Potter bit his lip, silently hoping that Petunia would answer him for once. He even used his manners as proof that he wasn't the 'stupid barbarian' Vernon sometimes called him.
"What is it, boy?" Petunia snapped almost automatically. She did not even look up from her magazine.
"What- What are the names of our parents?" Harry gulped, shrinking back towards the doorway once the question left his lips. The top of Iris' head could be seen peeking around her brother's shoulder.
Petunia gasped, nearly dropping her teacup. What brought the children to questioning about their parents? She expected the twins to ask about them… But now was not when she'd planned.
"Excuse me?" She lowered her glass, raising an eyebrow at Harry.
"My parents," Harry repeated and moved closer to his sister.
"You don't have parents. They are dead. Died in a car crash and left you runts," runts; a term used by Marge when she whined about seeing the unnatural children, "On our doorstep." Petunia didn't dare look at either of the Potter's. She could feel the two children's eyes gazing at her. The shocked gasp that must have been Iris' was enough to make the aunt laugh. Was her tone really that angered and hasty?
"But we must have parents…" Iris tried to reason. The child was witty like her mother. "Don't kids need a mum and dad to be born? They must have names..."
Petunia rolled her eyes, "I wanted nothing to do with Lily and James. They were lazy drunks that had you by accident." She needed to mask the pain that came from lying. The children responded in a way that differed from what Petunia anticipated.
"Lily and James?" The twins gasped.
"What were they like?" Harry's wariness from earlier was forgotten now.
"Do you have any pictures of them?" Iris piped in, "I want to draw them on our project."
"That is enough." Petunia snapped. The slam of her cup hitting the table made both Potters back away in fear. "Haven't I told the pair of you to not ask questions?"
"Y-yes, Aunt Tunia," Harry replied.
"Go to your room until Vernon gets home," Petunia growled, ushering the confused twins into their cupboard then shut the door in their faces. She ignored the yelp of pain, presumably from hitting one of the twins in the process, and locked the latch.
Petunia shakily walked away from the hallway. She could feel herself trembling as she tried to keep from crying out. Her sister was always a touchy subject since James ruined their last, and final, meeting together. Their deaths just made things worse, especially now that both Potters were starting to look like miniatures of their parents. Sighing, Petunia rummaged around one of the kitchen drawers until she found the manila envelope she was looking for. She didn't even glance at it when she slipped the package into the boy's backpack. Now to see how long it took him to discover one of the images she kept of her sister and husband…
The weekend would pass with little no problems with the Potters. That was until Petunia took Iris on a much-needed clothes shopping trip.
September 30, 1987
"Aunt Tunia?" The little girl called after her aunt as she attempted to keep up with the slender woman's pace.
"What?" Petunia snapped, keeping her eyes focused on the racks of clothing ahead of her. The girl was bound to ask for something she concluded. Petunia turned around to face the child, subconsciously shaking her head. Her grey eyes bore into the emerald green of her sister's. The child and her brother should have been her sister's. But no, she and her husband got landed with the two brats. The little boy, a miniature of his father and the girl, stuck with her father's facial features and her mother's hair and eyes. Neither of them looked exactly like her beloved sister. They only shared her dreaded, emerald green eyes.
"C-c-could could I get a new skirt?" The girl nervously twirled a strand of auburn hair with her thin fingers. Her green eyes flickered between her aunt's face and the rack beside her. "The project is due Monday… And it's going to be done in front of the whole school and the parents... And Mrs. Thomas said that the girls need to wear skirts." Petunia forgot all about the school assembly. Her Dudley would be presenting his family tree that day.
Petunia studied the child in front of her, watching for any signs that she may be telling a lie.
"Wouldn't your uniform count as a skirt?" Petunia demanded. "All that money we spent on blouses and skirts last year..." The child's eyes widened. Her expression took on a combination of sorrow and nervousness.
"No," She shook her head in alarm and took a step away from her aunt, "Tomorrow is the first Monday of October. We are allowed to wear something from home."
"Allowed." Petunia mocked the girl. "Yet you can still wear the uniform to school. I'm already buying you a new set of pants and pajamas. I take you to the thrift store and you suddenly become a demanding little bitch." She glared down at the wide-eyed child. A scowl covered her teeth as the girl stood rooted to the spot. "Iris Leanne Potter." Petunia hissed. Iris flinched at the use of her full name, "Go. Go back to the car and wait. You've lost your shopping privileges."
"Yes, Aunt Petunia." Iris gave her aunt a fleeting glance and ran out of the shop. Grey eyes watched the child until she left the store. Petunia took notice of the holes in the bottom of the girl's shoes.
"Shoes." She muttered. "The girl needs new shoes." Her arm reached into the rack beside her, fingers grasping at the hem of a lavender colored skirt, slowly lifting the skirt from the rack, and mechanically placed it in the basket she carried. Petunia bit her lip and glanced at the ceiling. "I'm sorry Lily." She whispered to herself. She never meant for things to get so bad.
Petunia made her way to the checkout. She stopped to pick up a random pair of shoes for the girl. Her emotions got the better of her that day. She handed the clerk the money for the girl's outfits- a dressing gown; two pairs of pants; shoes; and a skirt. She didn't make eye contact with Iris when she shoved the bag into her hands and escorted her to the car. The ride home was silent until the girl noticed the skirt.
"Aunt Petunia..." The girl gasped. "There-there must have been a mistake." She nodded and ran her hands along the fabric.
Petunia shook her head and said nothing. Her eyes stayed on the road, refusing to look at the child in the seat behind her. She feared seeing the look of hope, the unusual smile, on the girl's face.
"Thank you," Iris whispered. The rest of the ride was silent.
October 1, 1987
"I live with my parents and two cousins." Dudley Dursley announced to the silent gymnasium. The school was hushed while the children presented their family trees. The talking quickly started up again once a child was done. "My parents love me very much and my Aunt Marge does too." Dudley finished pointing at his tree and removed it from the easel in the middle of the floor. Petunia and Vernon seemed to glow with pride. Their son did so well with his presentation. A treat of ice cream and showers of praise would be completely necessary to show off how well he did. Neither of them seemed to notice when two, skinny, children moved to where Dudley stood.
"I'm… I'm Iris Potter." Iris nervously stated into the microphone before her, playing with the edge of her 'new' skirt as she spoke, "And this," she motioned to Harry, "Is my brother Harry."
"We are seven years old." Harry added, "And this is our family."
Petunia's eyes widened when she saw her niece and nephew's paper. They drew pictures of everyone in the family; complete with stick figure Lily and James. It was far better than anything Dudley could have done.
"Our parents died in a car crash when we were babies…" Iris bit her lip and glanced over at her teacher. An encouraging nod gave her the courage to continue, "Their names were Lily and James."
"Our Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon, and cousin Dudley took us in." Harry muttered, staring off into the distance a little, "And care for us."
"It's nice to know that they lov-" Iris cut off when she spotted Aunt Petunia shaking her head. She took a minute to recompose herself, gulping and hoping that her cheeks did not change color. "That the… they l-l-liked us enough to take us in." Vernon raised a brow at Iris' comment. He glanced at Petunia, silently questioning what else the girl, whose eyes widened when she'd spotted her uncle and aunt, originally planned on saying.
"And we are very thankful." A semi-oblivious Harry finished the short presentation. The twins hurriedly took down their project then sat with the rest of their class. Harry could tell that his sister was on edge as soon as they were back in their seats. He stayed silent, watching as his sister folded up their hard work. She planned on tearing it up afterward to get rid of the stupid paper before their aunt got to it. The twins never would have put so much effort into the project if they knew their aunt and uncle were going to be there. They could only hope the teacher would dock points for their stuttering towards the end.
The car ride back to number four was nearly silent. The occasional complaints of Dudley's hunger were the only audible sounds to be heard in the car. The Potters, who were sat on either side of Dudley, kept their eyes trained on the passing cars while Vernon drove. The near silent rides were routine for the family. They would arrive at number four and the twins would get out and head to the kitchen to prepare supper.
"Breakfast for dinner?" Harry asked his aunt. It was his day to help make the food. The kitchen was not big enough for three people to cook in and Petunia did not trust the twins alone with her family's dinner, fearing that they would spit in the food if the family upset them. At least they were somewhat cheerful in the morning. Vernon agreed on letting the children make their own lunch of a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk from school. The loaf of bread and jar of peanut butter would last for months at a time.
"I suppose we will have to," Petunia muttered. "I'll send you and Iris to the store after school tomorrow. Remind me to give you money in the morning."
Harry nodded his head in response. He rummaged through the fridge in search of eggs and the other ingredients for French toast. The meal was quick and simple to make. Petunia cracked the eggs, she didn't need Vernon punishing the boy for getting shells in his meal, and left Harry to making everything else. Her grey eyes rarely left Harry's figure.
"You're doing it wrong, Harry." Harry's back straightened when she'd first started talking. Was he expecting her to aim a blow at him?
"Sorry Aunt Petunia." He gasped. Petunia shook her head and grabbed his right arm, looking shocked when the child tried to yank his arm away from her, gently guiding his arm towards the pan on the stove.
"Place the bread down… And listen for the sizzling sound to grow quieter before you flip the bread."
Harry silently did as he was told. The tone of Petunia's voice caught him by surprise. Minutes passed before there were just two pieces of bread left in the pan.
"Iris?" Petunia knew the redhead would have to be somewhere near the room. Her suspicions were confirmed when the girl came out of the laundry room. "Sit." Iris sat on a chair at the end of the table. Petunia instructed Harry to do the same. She handed the twins the last pieces of the French toast they made, warm and just off the stove, and a glass of water.
"Go on, eat…" Petunia urged the twins, patiently waiting for them to finish their meal. The twins gulped down their water before depositing their glasses in the sink and disappearing into the cupboard for the night. Petunia's voice calling her husband and son to dinner could be heard floating down the hallway.
The French toast and glass of water would serve as their dinner, a food they were allowed to eat even though they potentially out-shined Dudley, and the family tree would remain un-discussed.
Chapter 5: Holidays and Glasses
The Holidays bring mischief and glasses for the twins.
Vernon never enjoyed the holidays. The children would spend the next week of school fantasizing about their two-week vacation; Dudley was already going on about each and every present he was expecting to appear under the tree when he awoke on Christmas morning. It was my and Vernon's job to ensure that our son got everything he wanted that year, wasn't it?
The twins rarely got anything from the two of us or the others who showed up during the holidays. They quickly caught on to their names holding a permanent spot on the naughty list, at least that was how Vernon put it, and tried their best to behave for the two of us once October came around. Only issue? I can't remember them ever doing anything drastically wrong to earn themselves a lightly used pair of socks and a two pence coin every single year. Granted there were the occasional accidental magic "catastrophes" but those were a rare occurrence, to begin with. Maybe we should have done more to make the holidays more enjoyable for the two...
December 20, 1988
"Yes, Vernon. I'm aware that you don't want me spending money on either of them." Petunia sighed and shot a quick glare at her husband. "But Christmas is nearing and they haven't been in as much trouble as usual. Couldn't I get them a cheap stuffed animal or something?" The argument was going on since the two woke up. It was roughly six in the morning and none of the children in the house were up yet. She and Vernon were downstairs sipping cups of coffee. Petunia planned on waking them up once she started breakfast.
"Christmas or not they've done nothing to pay us back for our allowing them to live with us for the last what, eight years?" Vernon gave his wife a glare in return. "Their names are permanently stuck on the naughty list. The most they'll get out of me is a coat hanger. Besides, old Saint Nicholas only visits good little children like our Dudley."
A loud gasp announced Iris Potter's presence to her aunt and uncle. The two never heard the girl enter the room. She was gone just as fast as she appeared; a glimpse of red hair and the sound of the cupboard door slamming shut.
"Now you've upset her…" Petunia muttered and shook her head, "You couldn't wait to go on about that until after they woke up to nothing on Christmas? They are bound to return to their half-arsed attempts at getting all the chores done before you return from work." She disagreed with the words that flew out of her mouth, but maybe they would snap her husband back to the reality of the unfavorable children striving to earn the aunt and uncle's approval.
"So you punish them until the work is done right." Vernon shrugged, "Smacking does not seem to get the point across."
Petunia resisted the urge to roll her eyes at her husband, "If this conversation keeps up you'll be late for work, love." A quick topic change would end the conversation.
Vernon blinked a few times then nodded, "I'd best be off then." He pressed a chaste kiss to his wife's cheek and left the room, pausing to knock on the cupboard door. "You brats better listen to your aunt and help her prepare for Dudley's Christmas party." A groan echoed from the inside of the cupboard and the two children gagged and rolled their unseen eyes, finally thankful for the door that hid them away from their aunt and uncle.
"What was that?" Vernon practically snarled at the cupboard door.
"Nothing, uncle." The twins uttered.
Vernon gave the door a glare then forced it open with a bang that caused the two inhabitants to jump. Obviously, the twins were up for a while; the light that hung in the cupboard gave the space a dull glow. Harry and Iris appeared to be fighting over who was going to hide an item behind their back. Harry was the one to stare up at the uncle and stuff both hands behind his back, a bound book just visible in the dimly lit room.
"Boy, give it to me." Vernon barked. Harry did the unexpected and shook his head.
"No." He stated with another shake of his head.
"Excuse me?" Vernon raised a brow. The boy was lucky he was getting ready to head to work. He would have taken more action it was later in the day.
"Iris and I borrowed it from the school's library, sir," Harry spoke calmly, showing him a bound copy of The Wizard of Oz.
"The t-teacher said we could return it at the end of the break." Iris nodded in agreement with Harry.
Vernon took a deep breath, counting backward from ten to keep from shouting at the cupboard bound children. He shook his head and muttered something about dealing with them later.
"No." Petunia automatically snapped and swatted at Harry's hand. The boy thought he could get away with trying to steal one of the gingerbread he prepared for Dudley's party. The party, a plan of Dudley's, involved most of his friends coming over to the house the Saturday after the last day of school before winter break, would be starting in under an hour and the house didn't seem ready.
"But I made them." Harry gave his aunt an incredulous look and rubbed the hand she smacked. "Not even one before Dudley's friends arrive?" His stomach was growling loudly and he was fighting the need to beg for food.
"No." Petunia's voice was a hiss. "You and your sister can wait to eat until after the party and have whatever gets left over."
"We've not eaten in a while…" Harry sighed and moved his hand towards the tray of cookies once more. He just wanted something to fill his rumbling stomach. "I'll share one with Iris."
"What about me?" Iris' voice could be heard from down the hall. She was scrubbing the bathroom floor and could just hear bits and pieces of the conversation between her aunt and brother.
"Nothing girl, hurry up with the bathroom." Petunia grumbled, glancing down the hallway. "You should have been done five minutes ago."
"I finished though," Iris stated as she exited the bathroom. Cleaning supplies made her struggle as she walked into the kitchen. A bucket, sponge, and cleaning solution were messily balanced in her hands. Her gaze focused on the ground to keep track of where her feet were bringing her. Dropping anything would likely cause her aunt to start yelling at her. "Aunt Petunia, can we have lunch?"
Petunia could have snarled at the two kids; she almost did too. It wasn't like either of them to ask for anything, to begin with.
"It isn't lunch time." She grumbled. One of her eyebrows rose to look over the two. "I told your brother you could eat once the party was over."
"Not even a cookie?" Both of them asked at the same time.
"Not even a cookie." Petunia crossed her arms.
"What about a piece of cheese?" Iris whispered.
"No food." Her aunt said, "Now quit asking."
"Aunt Petunia?" It was Harry's turn to raise a brow. "Shouldn't we be a part of the party? Won't parents ask if we are-"
"You're staying with a family friend if they ask." She shrugged.
"B-but…" Iris bit her lip, "N-no one would willingly t-take us in on such short n-notice…" The teacher was not lying at the last meeting she went to talk about how Iris and Harry were doing in school. Apparently, the staff found it rather peculiar that Iris had a stutter while Harry and Dudley did not. It was not brought to her attention until Iris spoke more than a handful of words.
"I'm sure the cupboard being locked with you two dead silent inside of it counts as being away." Petunia answered.
"Just this once, Aunt Tunia?" The girl whined.
"Yes, please?" Harry's voice held a sense of longing. "We will behave and everything. We'll even clean up once it's done."
"You'd ruin my Duddy's special day." Both Potters gave their aunt a look of disgust. Dudley had more special days throughout the year than they could keep track of. "Wipe those looks off your face and maybe you'll have dinner tonight."
The twins sighed, glanced longingly at the food spread across the table once more, and set off to disappear for a few hours. Their small forms disappeared into the cupboard, both kids snuggling together on their cot. Sleep served as the only way to avoid their hunger. Two weeks with no food was starting to make them desperate for something to eat.
They awoke a few hours later to the sounds of guests leaving the house. Harry, who woke up the first time the door rang, was set on allowing Iris to sleep a bit longer. He silently counted down the minutes until they would be freed from the small space. Petunia's voice could be heard drifting through the cupboard, requesting that people take leftovers. She was ruining the chance of him and his sister having something to eat for dinner.
Iris flinched herself awake, a shocked look apparent on her features, the final time the doorbell rang. Fear lit up her eyes as she scrambled about the tiny cot to figure out where she was.
"I had the dream again, Harry." She whimpered when she realized that her brother was hugging her. Night terrors haunted the red head's dreams whenever she fell asleep. A reoccurring dream of the Dursleys abandoning them in different orphanages scared her the most. The dream hadn't stopped occurring since Vernon threatened to leave them in an orphanage.
"Shhh…" Harry whispered and rubbed his sister's back. They found comfort in each other's hugs, kisses - the way they thought a 'normal' family was supposed to treat each other. The twins tried to mimic how their aunt and uncle treated their cousin when they were alone. The feeling of warmth that came from the two together would never make up for the lack of care and hugs from their aunt and uncle but it was nice while it lasted.
The cupboard door was finally opened by an exhausted-looking Petunia. Two pairs of wide, blinking green eyes greeted Petunia as their owners grew used to the light.
"Well, what are you waiting for?" The aunt barked. "Get out."
The twins' eyes widened before they exited the cupboard. They both stood along the banister and waited for their aunt to speak.
"You are both to get the house cleaned up before your uncle and Marge arrive home." Petunia calmly stated. She tried to sound casual, knowing full well that the two were bound to complain. Their aunt waited until the day of to inform them of the glorious visit.
"M-Marge is c-coming?" Iris asked. She and Harry never received enough notice about her visits. Neither of them liked Marge. She was just as bad as Vernon was and could even be worse at times. Iris shivered, remembering the last time the woman was over. The main topic involved how she and Harry were still around. Marge always seemed to question why Petunia did not drown the twins as babies.
"Y-yes M-M-Marge i-is c-c-c-coming." Petunia mocked Iris' stutter. She smirked when the child's face flushed, red hair covering her face in an attempt to hide her embarrassment.
Iris opened her mouth to speak and snapped it shut seconds later. She gave Petunia a glare, if the near tears look could even be called a glare, and looked down at her feet.
"That wasn't nice," Harry told his aunt. His voice was just loud enough for Petunia to hear over Dudley's laughter at whatever television program he was watching.
"No one said I needed to be nice." Petunia rolled her eyes at her nephew. "Now go clean. And maybe I'll feed you both if you've done a good enough job."
The Potters rushed through the task of getting the bottom level of number four to look presentable. Petunia couldn't be happier with how fast the young, they looked much younger than they actually were, children got the mopping, vacuuming, and cleaning finished up. It was just too bad the dishes weren't done until seconds after Vernon arrived home. He carried two of Marge's bags with him. Marge trailed behind with one of her dogs and a bag with all his stuff.
"What have we got here?" Marge's drawling voice was enough to make Iris pause her job of hand cleaning porcelain dinner trays. She never heard the front door open so the "aunt's" arrival surprised her. Iris froze with a dish towel and plate in her hand. She stayed quiet as to avoid both aunts' glaring gazes.
"Where are your manners, girl?" Vernon questioned the redheaded devil. Iris' face paled; emeralds wide now that she recovered from the initial shock of Marge talking to her.
"H-hello Aunt M-Marge." Iris squeaked, her head bowed down so her face was covered by her hair.
"Look at me when you speak." Marge glowered at the girl. "Send her off to finishing school Petunia. That'll get her to behave for you. Probably get rid of that ridiculous stutter too."
Iris grew used to the banter of Aunt Marge and Aunt Petunia after a while. They treated her and her brother like they were unable to hear their hurtful comments. The twins would do their best to say silent and ignore what was said about them.
"There's no meat on her Petunia. The girl is weak, probably like her awful brother. You two must be saints for taking the demons in. Vernon is always going on about how much trouble the boy gets into. Speaking of, where is he?"
"The other room I believe." Petunia shrugged and lead Marge through the dining room.
Dudley and Harry were both sat in the living room. A kick in the side and yelp of pain made Harry stand on his feet an instant before Marge was in the room.
"Hullo Aunt Marge." Harry greeted her. His greeting was unnecessary as it was lost in Marge's squeal that came from seeing her favorite, and only, nephew.
The twins were thankful for the focus no longer being on either of them. That being said, they were forced to sit through family dinner, a warm meal for once, comparisons of them and Dudley, and early Christmas gifts.
The dinner went undisturbed until the time for the Dursleys and Marge to exchange gifts came about. The Potters grew jealous of Marge's gifts to Dudley. Their cousin already received two new video games and money from the aunt and was getting even more from her. The time came to look at the two children who usually received nothing from their aunt and uncle.
"Don't worry, I got something to ensure that you two aren't left out of the festivities," Marge smirked down at the children. She gave Harry an oval-shaped wrapped gift. Petunia surprised Iris by forcing a gift-wrapped lump into her hands. The twins didn't make any movements to open the gifts. Last Christmas left them both in tears when they were given a coat hanger and a peppermint. They stared at Uncle Vernon, the two women and their cousin laughing at them, silently asking if they could open the gifts. Harry knew there was bound to be a trick, or punishment, involved with opening the gift in his hands but he finally ripped open a corner of the paper.
The room was soon full of the sounds of paper being torn apart. Dudley had a triumphant look on his face while the twins' held a more disappointed demeanor. The disappointment was quickly destroyed when the adults stared at the twins. There was nothing more embarrassing than having to thank people for gifts that shouldn't have been given.
"Thank you for thinking of me, Aunt Marge," Harry stated through gritted teeth, gazing down at a tin of dog treats in his hands. "But no thanks... Ripper can have them." The Dursleys burst out laughing at Harry.
"Even he wouldn't eat those." Marge let out a laugh. "Petunia is always complaining about how hungry you and your sister claim to be. Dog food must be just as filling as human. Give it a try, boy." Marge told Harry. He shook his head but the new interest in getting him to swallow a dog treat was a jest the Dursleys did not want to miss.
"Go on, boy." Vernon urged Harry. Harry looked absolutely disgusted but he gulped and stuffed a bone shaped cookie in his mouth anyway. His reaction was perfect in the family's eyes. The gasping, gagging, and spitting out of the unknown food was the most amusement they would see all day. Harry stared down at the brown mass in his hand and slipped out of the room to get rid of it. He abandoned the tin at Marge's feet, face flushed red with anger and embarrassment.
Iris was left alone to speak. She held a beat up teddy bear in her hands. The bear belonged to Dudley at a time but that would not stop her from loving it during the cold cupboard nights. She forced a frown on her lips and looked her aunt in the eye. A small thank you was heard before the girl darted after her brother, teddy bear in tow, and hid inside the dark cupboard.
The Potters spent the rest of their Christmas vacation stuck in the Dursley's house or over Mrs. Figg's. There was one particular Mrs. Figg trip Petunia regretted.
"Petunia, I've noticed Harry squints whenever he reads or tries to look at something that is far away from him so I made him an eye doctor's appointment for this afternoon." Mrs. Figg told Petunia last day of vacation.
"Does he?" Petunia decided to try playing dumb. "I hadn't noticed. He always has a book pressed to his nose at home."
"I think he may need glasses. I gave the local eye doctor a call and scheduled an appointment for this afternoon." That was the attention grabber; Petunia had no interest in buying the boy glasses. "And I made sure that Iris would be seen as well." Petunia blinked a few times and muttered a thank you, forcing the twins out of the house after she found out where the eye doctor was. Mrs. Figg would expect to see the boy wearing glasses next time he was over.
Petunia was left with no choice but to clean up her niece and nephew, and drag the twins and Dudley on a walk to the downtown eye doctor.
"I'm missing my favorite television program mum," Dudley whined. "Where are we going?"
"The twins have to see a doctor." Petunia shook her head as she spoke. Dudley's face seemed to light up at the mention of a doctor.
"Maybe you'll have to get a shot." He laughed and pinched both his cousin's shoulders. "Shot shot shot." He pinched them each time the words left his mouth, being sure to make it as painful as possible.
"Maybe they will." Petunia knew that was unlikely, she felt it best to nod her head and agree with her son to avoid any crying along the way there. The Potters tried to ignore Dudley's continued assault on their arms. They bit their lips to keep any sounds of pain from escaping. Dudley grew bored of his game and soon stopped. He began to whine at his mother and begged for sweets in exchange for missing his favorite show.
"Not now Dudley." Petunia uttered, "We're here." She grabbed Dudley's arm and pulled him up the grey steps of the dismal looking Optometrist building. Harry and Iris stared at the building before following Petunia in through the door. The inside was the complete opposite of the outside's brick exterior. The walls were brightly painted with comfortable chairs and toys scattered around the waiting room. A fish tank stood in a far-off corner of the room and a television playing children's shows was on one of the walls. Petunia ushered the three children into the play area.
"Go play." She urged the twins and kicked a puzzle toward Iris' feet. "And try to behave."
"Yes, ma'am." Iris grinned. The twins sat on the ground and busied themselves with a few puzzles. They looked happy playing with toys for children their age. Playtime was a rare treat for Iris and Harry. Dudley watched the television as Petunia went to the front desk.
A university student was sat in a rolling chair behind a desk. A wad of chewing gum was wedged between her teeth as she spoke, smacking the gum against her lips.
"May I help you?"
Petunia inwardly cringed at the woman's actions. She nodded slowly and cleared her throat, "Ah yes… I scheduled an appointment for my niece and nephew to have their eyes checked this morning."
The secretary looked over the list of patients and nodded. "The doctor will be with them shortly. In the meantime, I'm required to have you fill out paperwork for the two of them." She handed Petunia two packets and a pen.
Petunia wrinkled her nose in distaste as she walked back to where her son was. She sat in one of the chairs and sighed.
"Boy, have you got a middle name?" She knew the first letter was a 'J'. She was stuck between John and James.
"James." The boy answered.
"Right…" Petunia muttered and continued on with filling out the paperwork. "What about your last trip to the doctor?" The last time she checked the twins hadn't been in years.
"I don't know." Harry's face was contorted in thought. He could not recall the last time he or his sister fell ill enough to require medical attention.
"You never t-" Iris' response was cut off by Petunia.
"If they ask, you're staying with me for the year until your parents return from their business trip in the states. All your medical information is with them." The lie easily flew from Petunia's lips and to make things better, the children didn't question her.
"Harry and Iris Potter, Dr. Rowel will see you now." An assistant announced. The brunette woman wandered over to where Petunia and her family were sat. "My goodness, you've got beautiful children."
"Those two aren't mine." Petunia stated with a shrug, "They belong to my sister." Her gaze went from the assistant to the twins at her feet. "Well get up now. We don't want to keep Doctor Rowel waiting." The assistant blinked a few times at the way Petunia shrugged off the comment about the twins. Taken aback, she shrugged off the aunt and looked at the children.
"Alright, I'll take the forms you filled out now." The assistant motioned toward the papers on Petunia's lap. "It's required that you accompany the children to their appointment."
Harry and Iris gave each other an apprehensive look before they stood up. They stayed close to Aunt Petunia as the assistant lead them to the room the optometrist would be seeing them in. Petunia was surprised by the timid act the two put on. Maybe it was the first time she allowed them to be brought to a doctor. At least they were not receiving shots. She and Vernon couldn't have been that careless though, but the children rarely fell ill as it was, and if they were they never complained. The situation seemed right in her mind.
"And here we are." The sound of a door opening brought Petunia's focus to the task at hand; get the appointment over with and spend little to no money on it. The task would be tough but she was almost positive she could do it.
"Well hello there." Dr. Rowel smiled at the family when they entered his office. "You must be Iris..." He gave the redheaded girl a friendly nod. "And which of you is Harry?" He asked the two boys.
"He is." Dudley Dursley was disgusted by how the doctor needed to ask such a thing. "Are they going to get shots?" Iris and Harry's emerald eyes grew wide when the word shots was mentioned. Neither of them liked the idea of being stabbed with needles.
"I want to see them get shots!" Dudley spoke before his mother got the chance to get him to be quiet.
"Oh, no." Dr. Rowel chuckled. "I'm not that type of doctor. I'm going to examine their eyes and nothing else." Dudley looked rather disappointed. "Which one of you should I start with?"
"The girl." Petunia answered when neither of the Potters spoke up. "May as well get hers done first. I fear that the boy is just bad news." The last part was a statement only meant for her.
"Iris hop on up on this chair then." Iris did, feeling awfully small on the chair. Dr. Rowel performed a few simple reading tests on her. The most shocking result was the child's ability to read the smallest bit of text he could offer. She could also read the letters a great distance away from her. In the end, the girl passed with flying colors.
"I do believe she's got 20/20 vision." Dr. Rowel grinned. "I would like to have her eyes dilated though. Do you mind if I have Deidre take care of her while I prepare Harry for his?"
"No, not at all." Petunia was happy to be rid of one child.
"Deidre?" Dr. Rowel called down the hall. The assistant appeared seconds after her name was called. "Could you do me a favor and prepare Iris' eye drops for me? Take notes and everything. I still have to check on her brother."
"Certainly." Deidre gave Iris a small smile. "You think you can let me get the eye drops in with one try? I'll give you a lolly if you do."
Iris' eyes lit up at the mention of a lolly. She and Harry were never given sweets at home. Petunia and Vernon only gave them to Dudley.
"I th-think I can." The treat would be devoured before Petunia got to see it.
"Awesome. We'll go now, then. Good luck, Harry." She ushered Iris out of the room.
"Alright, Harry, I'm going to have you sit in the spot where your sister just was." Harry took a seat in the chair. "I'll start off by having you read off a few note cards." Dr. Rowel pulled a stack of note cards out of his pocket. "Can you tell me what this says?" The word football printed on it in a medium font on the card.
Harry gave the doctor a blank stare, green eyes focused on making sense of the blurred card before him. Harry squinted his eyes and tried to come up with a word to make it seem like he knew something. Petunia's eyes never left her nephew's face. She caught him squinting a few times, the gears in his mind rolling to make something up.
"Just say you can't see it if you're having problems with it, Harry." Petunia's voice had a demanding yet soft tone to it. The demand shielded her nervousness. The doctor showed one image and the boy was already squinting.
"I'm sorry, I can't…" Harry whispered and shook his head.
"That's alright. How about this one?" The font of the card was four times larger than the last one. Football was still printed on it.
"I…" Harry tilted his head. He could make out some of the letters. "I think it says football." Dr. Rowel nodded happily.
"You're right about that." He stated and continued on with the questioning. Things only seemed to get worse now that Harry's vision problems were brought to light. She was starting to feel bad for her nephew. He seemed to lose steam each time a new issue with seeing arose. The questioning ended with the doctor dilating Harry's eyes and examining them through strange looking binoculars.
"He needs glasses." Dr. Rowel announced. "You're lucky you caught it when you did though. We've already got frames in his size prepared. It seems like a lot of boys around his age have been needing glasses."
A pale-faced Petunia nodded, "I want him to have whatever frame is cheapest."
"The glasses won't be ready for a month or so though. We'll ship them to your house. I guess now would be the time to have Harry pick out a pair of frames."
"Come on then, Harry." Petunia gave the boy a small smile. She would have some explaining to do about where the money from her and Vernon's checking account went but she wasn't worried about that. Harry needed the glasses. It was best that they got it over with now instead of having a teacher send home a letter asking why the boy hadn't been taken to a doctor yet.
Harry bit his lip and walked behind Dudley and Petunia. Dr. Rowel was bringing him to a small store within the office.
"Here we are." He motioned to the frames that surrounded them. "Deidre will help you choose a reasonable frame."
Petunia did not notice the arrival of Iris and the assistant. The girl was already next to her brother, both whispering back and forth about what happened. She decided to ignore the girl's blue lips; the lolly would have upset her if she saw it but Iris appeared to have finished it before her brother was done.
"Where are the cheaper frames?" Petunia asked.
"Right here." Deidre led Harry to a small section of glasses. There were four frames in total. One green frame, a black, wire-rimmed circular frame, a black, wire-rimmed rectangular frame, and a bright pink frame.
"You should get the pink ones." Of course, Dudley felt it necessary to provide some input.
"Dudley, let Harry pick." Three sets of eyes stared up at Petunia as soon as the words left her mouth.
"You… You mean I can pick?" A shocked Harry Potter asked his aunt.
"Yes, Harry but make it fast." Harry and Iris gasped. They rarely got the chance to make their own decisions.
"I d-don't like the colored ones," Iris whispered to her brother. "Try the wire ones on."
Harry nodded and carefully grabbed the rectangular frames. He closely examined his reflection in a nearby mirror and shook his head, a hushed ‘I don't like them’ was only heard by his sister.
"Me neither." Iris took the frames off her brother's face and replaced them with the other pair. She gasped softly and nodded her head. "There… They're perfect."
"You look like a nerd." Dudley prodded his cousin's side. "They're going to make fun of you at school." Harry gave his sister a thankful smile and ignored Dudley's comment.
"I like these ones, Aunt Petunia." His voice was no more than a nervous whisper. He feared her shouting at him in the middle of the office and dragging him out by his ear, yelling the whole walk home about how stupid he was for not being able to see, somehow blaming him for the issue.
"I'll place an order for the pair he has on." Petunia busied herself by rummaging through her purse for a pen and checkbook. "Children, go wait for me by the door please and get ready to walk back home."
Harry put the glasses back, taking a bit longer than necessary to do so. He waited until Dudley and Iris left the room to take the chance of thanking his aunt. Truth be told, Petunia did not expect to receive a hug and word of thanks from the nine-year-old boy. She did something unusual when compared to the countless amount of times the boy attempted to hug her. Petunia Dursley wrapped her arms around her nephew and gave him the first, likely the only, hug he would receive from his aunt. The brief show of affection was gone as soon as the family exited the building. Petunia's demeanor returned to normal, showering Dudley with praise while ensuring that her niece and nephew were ignored the whole walk back, and left Harry feeling more confused than ever.
Chapter 6: Trying to Care
Iris gets caught sneaking food, prompting Petunia to sneak the twins to Mrs. Figg's house.
Let's just say things are a wee bit descriptive this chapter... Kitchen stoves and skin. See, I warned you ahead of time! If you don't like it, press Alt and F4 now.
Harry had his glasses for six hours before they broke. I remember the twins arriving home from school. Vernon and I made them walk home to give Dudley and I a few freakless moments of peace. Anyway, the twins were dead silent when they walked in that day. The boy made a beeline for the cupboard and the girl took her sweet time with getting in. Her hair was disheveled and Harry's glasses weren't even on his face. I beat the boy to reaching the cupboard and gave them both a look of disapproval. The two looked as though they had been put through hell. The boy with the broken glasses held at his side along with a swollen nose, and the girl with a blackening eye. All this had come from a day at school? I found it rather peculiar that a teacher hadn't called to mention either of the injuries. The thought of them receiving the blows on their way home never crossed my mind. Injuries and broken glasses were the least of my problems that year.
It all started the day Vernon decided to severely punish the twins. They failed to meet his expectations of having the house completely spotless, with all chores finished, by the time he returned home from work. The day had been a Thursday halfway through the summer. I remember the argument between the three as though it were yesterday. Vernon, of course, won the argument and the two spawns of my sister were shunned to their cupboard for a majority of the weekend. I came to the decision to allow the children out Sunday afternoon; ordered that they cook dinner without burning it lest they want to spend their summer in the cupboard.
July 30, 1989
"Mummy! Potter's trying to sneak food!" Petunia inwardly cursed at her son. She had got to the point where she didn't care if either of the twins snuck food. It wasn't like they took a noticeable amount, to begin with. The aunt had flipped out once on the kids though, and even that had been necessary. She had found Harry digging through a trash barrel when a cupboard of food was a few feet away. The moment had unsettled her stomach to the point of feeling ill. Her heart ached when she found them but she had yelled and sent the boy back to bed without giving him any food. She couldn't fix what she had become and she hated it, hated her husband for it. Petunia put on a stern face as she stormed into the kitchen. Unfortunately, Vernon had beaten her to it.
"Girl..." Vernon roared, his hands already entangled in the child's fire red hair. Dudley watched from the shadows with a satisfied smirk. "What do you think you are doing?"
Iris Potter gazed up at her uncle with wide, emerald green eyes. She blinked a few times then looked down at the piece of burnt chicken in her right hand. The child stayed silent, thinking, and forced the chicken into her mouth. She was already in trouble, wasn't she? Why not just add to the punishment? Chewing and swallowing, she had the blackened meat finished in seconds flat. Vernon was fuming while Petunia was trying to hide her delight in the girl's actions. The kid was far more intelligent than she and Vernon thought.
"Insolent little brat!" Vernon was shaking with rage. "And you've burnt our supper. To think I was going to feed the pair of you tomorrow as a birthday gift. You can forget about that." He yanked on Iris' hair and pulled the girl upward so she was standing straight.
"B-birthday?" Iris gasped out, not even reacting to her hair being tugged. She hadn't been aware that she and Harry's birthday was approaching. Time sure flew by when you were stuck in a cupboard. She wrinkled her nose, gulping. Her uncle smelled like alcohol. This was not going to end in her favor.
"Y-y-yes, b-birthd-day." The uncle sneered. "How's about Petunia and I give you an early present?" Vernon stepped over to the still running stove and grabbed the timer above it. "I think a minute and nine seconds will do."
Iris stood frozen to the spot. Her intellect normally kept her ahead of the game but things had taken an unexpected turn for the worst. She felt like a fish out of water, knowing she had earned an unknown punishment that would be far worse than anything she or her brother had been put through before.
"Which hand do you write with, girl?" The slurred way her name was said gave Iris goosebumps. He seemed very different from the ways he normally spoke to her, voice sounding almost calm.
"M-my right, unc- sir." She lied. Iris knew better than to tell him which hand she wrote with this close to the start of school. Harry had been asked the same question a few weeks ago and received two broken fingers on his right hand. The redhead shivered, trying to keep her emotions at bay. Showing any sign of weakness would only make things worse in the end.
"Perfect." Vernon's eyes seemed to glimmer as he beckoned Iris closer to him. "Pet, get ready to start the timer."
"Vernon. I don't wa-"
"Just do it Petunia." He growled and shoved the timer in her hands. Petunia chose to do as he said without question. One swift movement later and Iris' wrist was firmly held in his hand. The child's face was pale, lacking any hint of emotion. Iris' insides were reeling with fear. Her eyes shut out of instinct and she turned her head away, struggling to regain control of her hand. Vernon just laughed at the struggling. "I haven't even done anything yet girl." Petunia set the timer but darted from the room afterward. She could be found in the living room with Dudley, blasting a program to cover the screams that were bound to come.
"I'm sorry." The words flew from Iris' lips in a hushed whisper. "I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry." Her feeble apology turned into a chant and her cheeks turned pink. She spotted Harry watching from the garden window. A twitch of her head would hopefully get the message across. Vernon was drunk and she didn't need her brother watching what could happen. He wasn't supposed to be watching. He was supposed to be weeding and watering the garden.
"Shut up." Vernon used his free hand to slap her across the face. Iris murmured a yes sir and looked to the ground, an angry red handprint blaring on her cheek. Uncle tightened the grip on her hand and dragged the child to the stove. He raised the hand and shoved the tray of blackening chicken off the burner. A look of fear crossed Iris' face and before she knew it, the palm of her hand was burning. The smell of burning flesh filled the air.
Iris screamed louder than she had ever screamed before. The pain was unbearable and Vernon showed no signs of pulling her away. Writhing, Iris tried her hardest to get the searing pain away. The feelings in her hand were long lost by now and it took all her focus to keep from fainting, or vomiting at his feet. Head reeling, the child attempted to pull away one last time.
Vernon yelped and let go of his niece. He couldn't believe the shock that had surged through his body just seconds before he lost his grip on the girl. It felt as though she had electrocuted him. Magic must have made her do it.
Iris curled up in a ball on the ground at his feet, shaking with fear and sobbing. She could not look at her hand and would not until after she was back in the sanctuary of her cupboard. Her magic was working rapidly to make the hand heal fast.
Iris shuddered and chanced a quick glance up at her uncle. A kick met her side the minute their eyes met. The pain rapidly came back and her eyes forced themselves shut. Her arms moved to shelter her head, tears pooling down her face now that the bursts of pain in her hand returned. A hiss of pain followed shortly after. The hand couldn't be moved without pain, green eyes widened when her hand came into focus. She caught a glimpse of her right hand and was almost sick to her stomach. The flesh was mangled, skin burnt away and charred. Her uncle towered over her. His face turned beet red with anger.
"Impudent girl." Vernon's spoke slowly. "You've done nothing but disappoint me all these years. Should've left you at an orphanage. Why I outta..." Another kick followed. "Stupid little bitch. We should've drowned you when we had the chance..." Iris' sobs subsided as the words sunk in. Her and her brother's tries in flattering the aunt and uncle had gone to waste. Years spent trying to find love in a place that would never provide them any. The realization sparked a change in Iris that day. The once seemingly happy and talkative child had a personality switch. She became timid and did not speak even when spoken to. The only thing to get a word out of her were the nightmares of the night her hand was severely injured, well that and the teddy bear she received as a Christmas gift the year before.
A week passed before Petunia took matters into her own hands. She was a light sleeper who was easily awoken by the sounds that came from the house at night. Her own head wasn't safe, scaring her with nightmares of the past and present. Flashbacks started occurring, most surrounding the two children shoved in the cupboard underneath the stairs, and she couldn't stand them anymore. Something had to be done.
A scream cut through a crisp summer night in the Dursley household. Iris Potter was shaking on the mattress she and her brother shared. Tears trailed down her cheeks as the child tried to ignore the searing pain in her right hand. The hand was wrapped in her overly large day shirt. The cloth kept it from getting jostled around too much, but that didn't mean the pain wouldn't be there. She held back a sob before burying her head in the plush teddy that had once been Dudley's. Harry had somehow stayed asleep during her fit of night terrors and lay silent beside her, his soft breathing calmed her nerves a little. A few shaky breaths later and the girl was near relaxed, snuggling her brother.
That all changed when footsteps caused dust to stir from the staircase above. Iris hiccoughed loudly after inhaling a few pieces of dust and immediately fell silent. 1:03 AM the tiny clock in the cupboard displayed. One in the morning and a Dursley was up. This never happened unless a certain uncle was planning on taking them by surprise to make up for a beating he hadn't finished during the day.
Light from the hallway trickled into the cupboard and sounds of someone rummaging through the kitchen cupboards filled the air. Dudley?Iris wondered, quickly reasoning that it couldn't have been her cousin. The sound of the person traveling down the stairs had been too quiet.
Suddenly, the latch of the cupboard under the stairs was unlocked. Iris gasped, then buried her head in the teddy, hugging her brother as she waited. Her eyes squeezed shut to block out the light as the door creaked open. Feigning sleep could keep the person away, couldn't it? But he always seemed to know they were faking.
Petunia Dursley stood engulfed by shadows. She was frowning down at the shuddering Potters who had flinched, bumping their heads in the process, when their cupboard opened. The aunt didn't appear to be upset or anything, just giving her niece and nephew a blank stare. Two pairs of brilliant green eyes stared up at her, confusion and curiosity apparent in their look. They had caught her in her monthly mantra of checking on them after a bad dream. Nightmares haunted her since the day her sister died and memories of the past were the main context in her realm of dreams.
A choked back sob broke the silence between the three. The dream involved Lily's death. Her sister's voice was most chilling of all. She seemed to be nagging her, mentioning how awful her children were being treated. They don't deserve to join James and me this early on in their lives Petunia. The dream Lily had sighed. The scariest part had been the glare her sister gave her. She had seen the glare many times before. Her niece and nephew inherited the green-eyed look, using it on her whenever she or Vernon wrongly accused them of something Dudley had done.
Petunia woke up in a cold sweat after the words had been uttered. She needed a cup of tea to calm her nerves. A pain in her chest kept telling her to check on the children while she waited for her tea to brew. So that was what she did, prying open the cupboard as quietly as she could.
"A-aunt Petunia?" Harry's voice was a just audible whisper. He didn't dare speak up for fear of waking up the rest of the Dursleys. "Are... Are you okay?" The boy stifled a yawn and rubbed his eyes. He didn't need his glasses to tell that the form at the door was his aunt.
"I didn't mean to wake you," Petunia muttered. She had only wanted to check on them, not engage in a midnight conversation. A new thought came to mind though. Why not get the brats out of the house for a while? "But since you're up, get out of the cupboard."
Iris shook her head, cradling her arm and the teddy bear they had given her one Christmas. The girl hadn't spoken since the day Vernon burnt her arm and showed no signs of wanting to speak to either of them again. Two years would pass before a single word from the girl was said to either of them.
"Why?" Harry asked, feeling braver once he was certain Uncle Vernon was not up. His glasses were now on his face.
"Don't ask questions." The aunt snapped, leaning down to reach for the boy. "Just do as I say. Out. Now. And grab your coats."
"We don't ha-" Harry gasped as Petunia's hand grabbed his shirt, yanking his form from the cupboard. She had gently lifted, yet still forceful enough to stop the child from questioning her ways. "Have coats." He gulped. "Rissy, come on out..." The boy urged his sister.
A few seconds passed before the nine-year-old girl timidly exited the cupboard. Her body shook when she spotted Petunia. Eyes fearfully looking up at the woman, before she hid behind her brother. The aunt and uncle had won, destroying any trust that the young girl had in them. All that was left was a fear of being burnt again, or thrown against a wall, slapped for speaking, or worse, found dead because she didn't do as "uncle" had said. She deserved it though.
Petunia was taken aback by the girl's behavior. She had to blame Vernon and herself for the way the girl acted.
"What have I done?" The aunt asked herself, not caring that the boy and girl could hear. Shaking her head she led them to the kitchen. "Sit."
The twins sat on the ground. Harry hugged his sister and never took his eyes off Petunia.
"What are yo-" The boy began to ask a question then stopped. Don't ask questions.The rule was the worst of all the rules "aunt" and "uncle" had come up with. Telling a curious child that he can't ask questions was worse than any of the words they had said to him. Harry had to keep his questions to himself, and never know the answer to anything unless he eavesdropped or got a book from the school library.
"Just be quiet, please. That is all I ask." Petunia sighed. She held a pen and a piece of paper in her hands, writing as she leaned against the kitchen counter.
To Whom It May Concern, The letter began.
I am writing to request that you please take Harry and Iris Potter out of my husband and I's care before my husband decides to place them in an orphanage.
Petunia felt bad for lying but she had a desperate hope that the wizards could provide a better home than she could.
I am leaving them in the care of Arabella Figg for the rest of the month while Dudley and I spend a few weeks in London. Vernon does not want to be left alone with my niece and nephew.
Petunia looked up from her work and sighed. They'd never believe it. Dumbledore's last letter had accused her of over exaggerating. He'd said to ignore their magic since they couldn't control it, and that they had to stay in the house no matter what unless she wanted to deal with Albus' wrath.
Harry tilted his head at his aunt. Soon she was ripping up the paper and sending it down the garbage disposal.
"You know what? I'm going to feed you both." Petunia reached into the fridge and grabbed the slices of pizza that remained from last night's dinner. "Both of you eat." She threw the pieces at the boy and girl. "And not a word of this to your uncle or cousin." The pizza was gone in under a minute and two children were scrutinizing her every move.
"Girl, come here." The aunt ordered. Iris stood but didn't move closer. "Iris Leanne Potter, don't make me move you myself..." Petunia was the only one to call the twins by full name. Potter, boy, and girl were mainly used by her husband and son.
The girl darted to her aunt's side, listening instantly. Maybe there was a plus side to the not talking thing. Iris did exactly as they said. She whimpered when her hand moved.
"Good girl. I'm going to dress that wound for you. Arabella will have my head if she notices that it isn't healing properly. Take the shirt off."
Iris hissed in pain as she uncovered her hand. Her teeth bit down hard on her lip to keep from crying. Petunia's words about Mrs. Figg didn't register; she was too busy fighting back tears to listen to her aunt.
"We're going to Mrs. Figgs'?" Harry questioned, but got no answer in return.
"Those are going to scar. Brilliant, you'll match your brother's forehead." Petunia forced a laugh. She talked to prevent her emotions from taking over. The girl looked like she could use a hug but she would never lay hands on her. "Boy, fetch me the first aid kit. It's under the bathroom sink." Harry left the room.
"It needs to be cleaned," Petunia muttered. The two stood at the sink, Petunia rinsing off Iris' hand with warm water and soap, Iris shuddering as she tried not to cry. Harry returned when the water turned off.
"Here." He handed the box to his aunt, staring at Iris' hand. "That looks terrible." The boy put a hand over his mouth and gave Iris and apologetic look. He was supposed to be making her feel good about herself. That was what brothers were supposed to do. "Can I help?"
"I guess you can." Petunia shrugged and handed her nephew a rolled up bandage. "You wrap that like a cast around her hand after I put the ointment on." Barking orders, the aunt had the child's injury dressed in no time. "Harry, put some on the bruise over your eye, get you and your sister's good clothes out of the laundry room closet- jackets included. Put the spares in a bag. We're going to Mrs. Figg's house. Iris, your brother will help you get dressed. I have a phone call to make."
Harry and Iris dressed silently, zipped up in their jackets as Petunia anxiously talked on the phone. Bits and pieces of the conversation could be heard while they looked each other over.
"Arabella?" Petunia's voice sounded worried. "I'm sorry to call you so late, but a family emergency came up. I have to drop the twins off at your house as soon as possible and leave them there for about a week. Yes, we're fine. Just an issue with Vernon's sister. Have to leave once Dudley wakes up." The aunt conversation continued for a few minutes.
"What do you think she's doing?" Harry whispered to his sister. A shrug of the shoulders was her response. "Iris, can't you at least talk to me?" She shook her head no and mouthed the words not yet. "What about writing?" He never got an answer because Petunia came back into the room.
"We're walking to Mrs. Figg's." She murmured. "You're staying there for a few days... Until I come to pick you up."
"Why?" Harry's words were morphed by a yawn. It was 2:10 now, and the sun wasn't up yet.
"To get you out of the house," Petunia answered shortly. "Now stay quiet. I don't want Vernon knowing that we're going." The three walked to the front door, silently opening it, and slipped out into the night. The walk down the road was quick and quiet. Petunia carried the children's small bag of clothing, and other belongings, and had the kids walk ahead of her. Harry didn't have to knock on Mrs. Figg's door since she was already waiting on her front porch to see them.
"Oh dear..." Arabella blinked a few times when she saw Iris and Harry. The poor dears looked exhausted, and Iris' hand was wrapped up.
"Thank you, Arabella." Petunia spoke louder than she had back home. "I'll call you when I can come to pick them up. There's ointment in the bag for Iris, she knows how to handle herself. Silly girl, touching the stove when I told her not to. She isn't speaking because she thinks Vern and I are still mad at her." She ran a hand through Iris' red hair. "Thanks again, but I must go. You two behave." With that said the blonde turned on her heel and headed home. She would arrive safely and explain that she sent the twins away early that morning so she and Vernon could have some alone time.
"How are you, Harry?" Mrs. Figg asked the small boy. She never seemed to notice the bruises or the cuts on the Potters. Vernon did his best to keep the marks hidden from the public eye. All she could see was the burnt hand of Iris and the black eye on Harry. "And what happened?"
"Tired, ma'am." He stifled another yawn. "Aunt Petunia woke us up early. What happened to what?"
"Your eye, Harry." Iris' predicament had already been explained.
"Dudley and I got into a fight." The bespectacled boy answered with a shrug. "He won."
"Right." Mrs. Figg sighed, not entirely sure if she wanted to believe Harry. Nothing else was said about the subject. "How about we all go back to bed? I'm afraid your rooms aren't ready so you'll have to share the couch."
"Okay, Mrs. Figg." Harry gave her a thankful smile. Anywhere was better than their tiny mattress back home. "And goodnight."
Mrs. Figg brought the twins to the couch in her living room. It was just big enough for the two to share. A few cats rested on the top of it, but the cushions were abandoned.
"You two make yourselves comfortable, I'll grab a few blankets." Arabella left the room for a minute, re-entering with a few blankets in each arm. Harry and Iris were already falling asleep by the time she returned.
"Goodnight Harry, goodnight Iris." She murmured and kissed each of their foreheads. At least she could show them a little bit of kindness while their guardians were off doing whatever lie Petunia had used to dump them on their doorstep. The light shut off in the room, and the residents of Arabella Figg's house fell into a blissful state of sleep. Iris and Harry slept through the night with no other interruptions.
Chapter 7: Playing Pretend
Report cards land the Potters into trouble.
The Potters were generally well behaved and rarely got in trouble with the teachers at school. That didn't keep the phone from ringing once every few months though.
"Mrs. Dursley, Iris isn't talking. Did something traumatic happen over the summer?"
"Harry was found climbing the school rooftops."
"Iris won't respond to the teachers."
"Dudley and Harry don't seem to get along well."
"Harry and Piers got into a fight."
The calls went on and on. My favorite had to have been the one Vernon was lucky enough to answer.
"Hello, Mrs. Dursley?" Wendy Mayfield, the school secretary, sighed on the other end of the line.
"This is the Mr," Vernon grunted. I heard a flustered apology from Ms. Mayfield. The phone had always been loud enough to hear conversations if the room was near silent.
"Well is your wife home?"
"No. Can I take a message?" Vernon rolled his eyes at me and mouthed something about it being about time he handled one of the school calls.
"I guess you'll have to. We've got Iris, Harry, and a rather angry teacher in the principal's office. Would one of you mind coming in to talk to the three?"
I don't think I ever saw an angrier Vernon Dursley than on that day. His face had been tomato red, almost purple by the time we reached the car.
March 21, 1990
"Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Dursley." Mrs. Mayfield greeted the couple. Petunia Dursley gave a small smile in response, and Vernon nodded. "The principal will see you in a few minutes. He's still talking to Mrs. Jones." Petunia and Vernon took no notice of the twins until Mrs. Mayfield started speaking to them.
"He'll be seeing you two after Mrs. Jones has had her say." The blonde woman's tone was light, as though she almost felt sorry for the two.
"Okay, miss..." Harry whispered and fell silent. His shoulders were hunched as he looked down at his hands. Iris just sat there. Green eyes stared at the map outside the principal's door. She didn't make any moves to acknowledge Mrs. Mayfield's words.
Vernon and Petunia sat in silence, occasionally glaring at their niece and nephew. They would have their say the car ride home. Iris wished she could disappear. The child sat as far back on the plastic chair she had been told to sit in as she could. Maybe the wall would make her disappear if she sat any further back. She and Harry held hands, their only way of comforting each other.
"We didn't do anything." Harry's voice was a whisper loud enough for only Iris to hear. "We couldn't have done it anyway." There was no logical explanation for the predicament he and his sister were in. One minute Mrs. Jones' hair was blonde, the next it was bright pink. To claim that he and Iris had done it made no sense.
Iris gave her brother a look that seemed to say 'are you sure about that?' The too little redhead refused to talk to anyone in public. Harry only got a word, maybe a sentence if he was lucky, out of her when he tried to coax her into speaking. Her hand had healed, for the most part anyway, but the skin would never be the same. The pink, scarred flesh etched on her right hand was lasting proof of the day her uncle held her hand to the stove. Fear was almost always the immediate feeling to follow her name being called by any male besides her brother. Refusing to speak only added to her nervousness towards strangers. Green eyes and a twitch of the lips could only convey so much emotion. Screams came out when "uncle" decided to punish her instead of the boy, but even those were becoming fewer as the pair discovered that showing they were in pain added to Vernon's amusement.
"Positive, sis. W-we wouldn-" His words were lost when he caught his uncle's eye and received a cold glare. Gulping, he shook his head and went back to examining his hands. Iris rested her head on her brother's shoulder, tightly squeezing his arm when the door to the principal's office opened.
"Harry, Iris?" The principal, a tall, tan man called out of the office. "Please come in. Your aunt and uncle can accompany you if they wish to."
"Coming sir," Harry muttered and rose to his feet. Iris followed behind him. Each Potter seemed to be debating taking their time in reaching the office. A 'get a move on' from Petunia was more than enough reason for them to speed up and set themselves down on the red plastic chairs that had sat in so many times before then. Vernon and Petunia glowered at the two from a pair of seats on the opposite side of the room. A frazzled looking woman in her mid-thirties could be seen beside the principal. Her hair was bright pink in color, far different from the blonde it had been earlier that day.
"Mrs. Jones swears up and down that one of you had something to do with her change in hair color." He motioned to the woman beside him. "Care to explain?" Both twins wore identical facial expressions; slight frowns with a just visible tooth biting their lower lip, followed by a shake of the head.
"Harry James, and Iris Leanne," It was Vernon's turn to address the children. The Potters looked shocked at the uncle's use of their actual names. The shock wore off as the man continued in a low growl. "If one of you doesn't explain... You'll be- be grounded for the rest of the day, weekend too. No television or dinner, just straight to bed when we get home." The threat hung loosely in the air, brother and sister looking at the uncle as though he'd grown an extra head, for a few seconds before Harry caught on.
The game of being an average family had begun. Playing pretend, as a family that cared about one another, would hopefully save their butts if the children tried hard enough. Vernon was always the hardest to please. The principal cleared his throat and all eyes were on the Potters.
"We had a practice spelling bee in class," Harry whispered, his sister nodded in agreement with his words.
"You'll have to speak up." The principal urged the boy. He knew Harry was shy, but the silence from both children seemed to happen only when they were in his office.
"We had a practice spelling bee," Harry repeated himself. He could feel the gaze of his aunt and uncle on him. "And Mrs. Jones called on Iris, then told her off for not speaking. Iris burst into tears and, well..." He shrugged, trailing off.
"Well what, Harry?" It sounded as though the man at the desk actually cared about what Harry had to say.
"One minute Mrs. Jones' hair was blonde, the next it was pink." He didn't know how to explain it. The change of color happened seconds after he glared at the teacher and opened his mouth to defend Iris. "I thought it was a trick of the light," Harry added sadly.
"Is this true, Iris?" The principal asked. His brow raised as he eyed the little girl in front of him. He half expected a yes from the girl but no sounds occurred. Instead, she nodded. A frown that matched the one on her aunt's lips took over her features. There was no hiding the look of sorrow in her eyes. Her head bobbed twice, the words yes sir formed in her mind, but she knew it was no use to try to speak. She wasn't even sure if she could anymore after the months of not uttering a word aside from the screams that came out in her nightmares. It was hard to remember what her voice sounded like.
"Well..." The man cracked his knuckles and looked at the teacher and the children. "Maybe you dyed your hair wrong, Mrs. Jones. You were a brunette last week, were you not?" A smirk briefly crossed his features. Mrs. Jones frowned and narrowed her eyes at the twins.
"I guess you're right." She stated through gritted teeth. "But it doesn't explain how fast the color changed. I've never heard a class burst into laughter so quickly."
"Sometimes there is no way of explaining events that happen in life." The principal's eyes twinkled a little. "Sorry to cut things short, but I have a meeting with the superintendent to attend."
Mrs. Jones opened her mouth to argue but thought better of it. She huffed, then left the office.
"Nice to see you again, Vernon and Petunia." He added, and then stood up. The family exited the office and went out to the car. There was no choice but to bring the twins home. The school day was close to done at the time. The Dursleys were oddly quiet the whole ride back home. Harry and Iris sat in silence, knowing that they would get an earful when they set foot in number four.
More silence ensued as everyone entered the house. Harry and Iris trailed behind their aunt and uncle. The pair deposited their bags in the cupboard and were about to retreat to their sanctuary but stopped short as soon as Vernon started speaking.
"I swear to god if we get another phone call this month..." The uncle growled. "We should just pull them out of school Petunia."
"I don't think they" They, a term used here to describe the children's fellow freaks, "would like that very much, Vern. Besides, I don't want them around the house twenty-four seven."
"Like they care anyway. They wouldn't have carelessly dumped them on our doorstep if they cared. But you insisted on keeping them." Vernon narrowed his eyes at the doorway between the kitchen and the hallway. Harry and Iris stood in the doorway. Green eyes stared at the aunt and uncle. The two desperately tried to piece together the new information with what they already knew, but none of it made sense. Their mother and father had died in a car crash, right? So what did "they" have to do with anything?
"That little stunt at school has earned you each two days without food," Vernon spoke in a much louder tone than he had used with Petunia. "If it happens again, you won't see the light of day for a month. Now get out of my sight. Dudley has friends coming over."
The twins did just that. Darkness consumed them as soon as the cupboard door shut. A click of a lock meant that they would be spending the rest of the day there.
The two days would pass with few problems. That was until the Friday report cards came home. Grades were always a big deal when Harry, Dudley, and Iris received them at the same time.
"Aunt Petunia, can you sign my report card please?" Harry's voice was a hushed whisper. "Iris' needs to be signed too." Petunia had forgotten that the girl even came home. She had been silent for months, not even talking to her own brother, and timider than Petunia and Vernon could remember.
They should have taken her to a doctor for the newly formed "condition" but the thought never occurred to them. Petunia chose to let her suffer in silence, not paying attention to the looks of defeat she cast as she got through the chores she and Harry split. Her arm had healed well enough but the skin that replaced the burn was a pink colored blemish that was very noticeable unless the girl was sent to school in long sleeves. An explanation was required, a lie of course, on the first day of the school year.
"Where are they, Harry?" The boy had taken to hiding their project grades from his relatives. An argument at the beginning of the school year had left him and Iris with bruises across their cheeks. Getting higher scores than the precious Dudders was not welcome under Vernon Dursley's roof. Freaks weren't supposed to be smart. Anything higher than Dudley's grades meant punishment for both children. The higher the grade, the harsher the punishment.
Harry grimaced immediately after the words left his aunt's lips. "What?" Petunia asked with an eye roll.
"I..." His gaze fell to his feet. The ten-year-old was ashamed in himself. "We got higher grades than Dudley. I tried aunt Petunia, really. But the teachers did pop quizzes this month by taking homework and classwork and-" He hiccoughed, trying his hardest not to cry in front of Petunia. "And grading them. I would've answered incorrectly if I'd known ahead of time but they were collected at the end of class."
He was shivering from his attempt in holding back tears. Petunia would have taken pity on him had his sister not been observing from the doorway.
"Let me see them." She hissed out. "Now." Harry cringed and darted to the cupboard where the knapsacks he and his sister took to school lay. He returned seconds later with two yellow papers in hand.
Petunia whisked the papers out his grasp and looked them over. All grades above B's. Dudley had C minuses and below. Jealousy became ever apparent in her train of thought as she stared at the two reports. The twins were smarter than expected. Even the devil child and her stupid silence had better grades than her Dudley.
"And if I don't sign them?" A look of fear crept over Harry's features; he could tell his aunt was silently raging.
"The principal will call you." He whispered. "Go over everything over the phone." That couldn't happen again.
"I'll sign, but Vernon and I have to discuss your punishment once he gets home." This caused a gasp from both children. The hope of getting away with the grades was ripped out from beneath their feet.
"Aunt Petunia please..." Harry begged. Tears freely fell down his cheeks. "I'm sorry. I'll do anything. We haven't eaten in two days, and my stom-"
"SHUT UP." Petunia would later regret losing her temper. "If you meant any of it your grades would be lower than Dudders’. Freaks are not smart. They never score higher than my Dudley. Any higher, and the punishment is well deserved and to be expected. Now go to your cupboard and stay there until Vernon returns home."
"But we haven't finished cleaning." Harry seemed truly afraid of Vernon's arrival. He shuddered at the thought of Vernon being even more upset, with the addition of unfinished chores than just the grades alone.
"You act like I don't realize that." She smirked and made sure they both entered the unlit room beneath the stairwell. The sound of a lock being forced shut would be the last thing they heard until Vernon's car pulled into the driveway.
Vernon Dursley frowned when he entered his home. There was no scent of dinner cooking on the stove to be found inside the house. To add to the lack of food, the cupboard that belonged to his niece and nephew was locked. They must have done something to upset his wife the hour before he got home. Otherwise, the boy would have been cooking dinner. Pausing to kick at the cupboard door, Vernon grunted and stepped foot in the kitchen.
"Petunia love, what's this?" He spotted the three yellow papers on the table before setting down his briefcase and recognized them immediately. "Report cards already?" Petunia nodded disapprovingly.
"They've done it again, Vernon," She sighed, shaking her head. "And didn't finish any of their chores. We'll be better off going out for dinner."
Vernon sneered at his wife. "The grades this time?"
"B plusses, nothing lower, plenty above," Petunia muttered, holding up the identical Potter report cards.
"They must be cheating." was all Vernon Dursley said before storming down the hall and jerking the cupboard door open.
"Get out." He barked at the Potter's. Two pairs of green eyes stared up at him before the cupboard's inhabitants were seen. The two stood in front of their cupboard. The girl gave him a fearful glance before looking at the ground. The boy stared at the picture of Dudley that hung behind his uncle.
Vernon lunged at Harry and grabbed his nephew by the hair on his head. A flinch of pain was all Harry managed to let out before the assault began. Punches rained down on the boy's form as Uncle Vernon started to shout.
"You worthless freak, how dare you." Every couple of words was followed by a blow wherever Vernon could reach. "Cheating to be better than my son."
"I didn't sir." Harry's weak response earned a blow to the stomach. He doubled over in pain, gasping out apology after apology.
"Shut up, boy." The sound of something cracking became audible as soon as Vernon's fist met his nephew's stomach. Harry groaned in pain and slumped against the wall. Iris stood rooted to the spot. Her eyes never left her uncle. Vernon let go of his wincing nephew and turned on her instead.
"And you, why don't you stop being ignorant and start bloody speaking?" He waited a moment before laying a hand on his niece. The uncle used a different approach this time though. He grabbed hold of the girl's neck and gave it a squeeze, shaking her as she gasped. His niece wriggled in his arms, gasping out wildly as she struggled to fill her lungs with air. Petunia watched from the kitchen, choosing to intervene only when the girl looked like she was going to pass out.
"Vernon you're going to strangle her to death if you don't let go." Her words were brisk with a hint of a warning in her tone. Vernon didn't seem to hear her though.
"Uncle Vernon stop it." Harry's words went unnoticed so he did the unthinkable. Wham. He flung himself at the arm that gripped his sister, trying with all his might to get the man's beefy fingers off her neck. The three struggled, with Iris' feeble attempts in getting away from her uncle included, for quite some time. The only sign of stopping came when the doorbell rang.
Vernon's eyes grew wide and he removed his hand from the girl's neck now gripping her by the ragged cloth that covered her shoulder.
"Worthless brat." He spat in his niece's face, and hastily dropped her into the cupboard. Harry ducked in after, barely avoiding his uncle's foot, and the room plunged into darkness. "No food for a week. Now be quiet."
The sounds of Dudley returning from his escapade with his friends soon filled the silence between the cupboard and the house. Petunia and Vernon fawned over their son while Iris and Harry checked over one another.
Iris had her eyes closed. A hand wiped uncle's spittle from her face and her small form shook the cot she and Harry sat on. She couldn't stand her uncle or aunt now and wished desperately for some stranger to come free her and her brother from the hell they were living in.
"Iris?" Harry's voice whispered in the dimness of the tiny room. "Are you alright?" A sniffle and a shrug stated that his sister didn't want to think about it. She instinctively wrapped her arms around Harry's middle and pulled away when he hissed in pain. They both suffered at the hand of their uncle that day and had a funny feeling it was bound to happen more often.