The Sugar Quill
Author: Sarah  Story: The Cupboard Under The Stairs  Chapter: Chapter Two: Normal People
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The Cupboard Under The Stairs
Chapter Two

Harry doodled idly on his French textbook.

"French for flower?" Madame Peasegood called to the class, pointing to a badly drawn daisy on the blackboard. "Anyone? Harry Potter?"

"Umm..." Harry looked around the classroom for a clue. Madame Peasegood shook her head. "Perhaps you'd like to go home and back to bed, Harry." Dudley,Piers and Gordon roared with laughter. Of course, they didn't laugh at teacher's jokes normally, only when they were directed at Harry.

"Sorry, madame," Harry muttered.

"Pardon, Madame," she said, giving him a Look. She turned back to the class. "Who here can tell me the French for garden?"

There was a clueless silence. Madame Peasegood sighed. "Well,I can see we-or you-certainly could use some extra homework tonight."

There was a collective groan. Some kids rummaged in their bags for their homework diaries.
"Study every single French word I've taught you lot in the past week. That is including the ones on that worksheet that I set you for homework." She looked at Harry pointedly. "I think I'll test you on them next week." More groaning. The bell sounded.

"You may leave." Chairs scraped back on the carpet and kids picked up their backpacks and books and headed for the door.

Harry was last out. He had nowhere to go at break times. The 'nerdy' kids who Dudley sometimes shouted obscene things at after school went to the library, other kids hung around the bike sheds, the sporty ones, unsurprisingly, went to the sports field. He wandered aimlessly through the corridors, towards the playground. He found himself sitting on the wall, quietly observing everyone. The school playground was small, really. There was a highly unsafe climbing frame for the younger kids, a few benches (always taken) and the odd flowerbed (normally with dead flowers). Harry was wondering if he should check his diary for any still uncompleted homework when suddenly Gerald showed up.
"Hi, Harry! I thought that was you."
"Hi Gerald."
"Why are you sitting there? Haven't you got any friends?"
"No," Harry snapped. "I haven't."
"You can come and play with my friends."
Harry considered this idea. Gerald was about ten, but his friends, judging by the way they were swinging on the frame, seemed to be aged around six to eight, or maybe just not very mature.
"No thanks, Gerald."
"Well,at lunch time, come and play with Bob's friends,then?" Gerald pointed out Bob. Harry noticed with some surprise that the seven-or-eight year old was surrounded by two kids his age. One of them waved at Gerald. Harry wondered how some kids made friends so fast. Sometimes it all seemed dead unfair. The older kids were a boy and girl, and Harry realised he recognized the girl from his Science lessons last year. She'd been in the same group as him...her name was Kelly or Katie or something. No,Kayleigh...that was it.
"I think that girl's his sister," Gerald said. "And he's her boyfriend."
Harry couldn't remember seeing the boy before, but most boys at the school went around with the same hairstyle and clothes style anyway, so it wasn't that big a surprise. He was helping one of the little girls off the top of the climbing frame.
"Okay," Harry said suddenly.
"Hey Marcus!" Gerald said,running up to him. "You see him? That's Harry Potter. Can he play with you?"
Harry groaned.
"You don't play," Marcus called at him. "You hang out."
"I never said play."
"I know you!" Kayleigh called. "You were in some of my classes last year! And you''re that kid who turned Mrs Halington's wig blue!" She gave a hooting laugh.
"That was you?" Marcus said,looking at him.
Harry nodded. Although he didn't want to take a lot of credit,he hadn't meant to do it.  He went over to the climbing frame,and the bell rang.
"See you,Harry!" Gerald yelled out across the playground as Harry went to his Art lesson. Harry actually smiled to himself. He'd never have expected anyone to be calling that to him this morning.


Harry's art teacher was definitely...different. Mr Connolly had begun their first lesson of the year by saying he wanted each of them to do a project...each get a big piece of paper and paint something important to them. And keep painting it every lesson. It was now nearing the end of May,and a lot of the kids just mucked around and flicked paint at each other,while the rest of them figured that painting things on paper wasn't hard and better then last year's projects,so they were still at it.

Harry's project hadn't gone anywhere. He remembered on the first day staring blankly at the paper,and running over multiple things in his brain and still not finding anything important enough to be put on the paper.

So he'd searched his brain a different way and put some different things down. Smudges of orangey-red and brown,first of all,in the right-hand corner. Then bits of gold and red in various places. Then a dog. A quite nice looking black dog. Both Harry and his art teacher had been impressed with how Harry made it look. Then a big red bird,for no apparent reason. The painting had grown a lot over the months. It now featured things like wolves and trains and even a dragon,and Harry had no idea how those things had got into his brain. His aunt and uncle would burn the picture,he thought,if they even saw it.

Today,however,Mr Connolly had made an annoucement; today would be the last day working on the paintings. Harry didn't mind too much,although it was fun. People had started to wonder about what they'd be doing next.

It was the last seven minutes of the lesson,and Harry thought his picture was nearly finished. It was missing something,but he wasn't sure what. He heard Dudley behind him.

"And I asked Mum for a Nintendo and she just said all this crap like 'At Christmas, sweetheart.' It's so unfair."

Harry rolled his eyes. Dudley was moaning at Gordon now.

"Dad said I couldn't watch more television than six hours,can you believe that...." He saw Harry looking at him. "What're you looking at, Potthead?"

"Not a lot."

Dudley scowled. The combination of art, Mr Connolly and Harry put him in a worse mood than normal. "You really suck, Potter. At least we normal people have parents."

"Ahem!" Mr Connolly glared up at him. Dudley looked in the other direction.

At least we normal people have parents...

Dudley insulted him all the time about not being normal. Normal people aren't thick... normal people don't climb on buildings...weird things don't happen to normal people...

Harry was used to weird things happening to him. He looked down,and he saw his hand had,almost of its own accord, dipped the brush in the grey paint,and started to draw a castle.

How interesting.

Harry bent closer to the paper and very carefully worked on the castle. He added the final stroke,and sat back, pleased. But there was still a white space on the page. He still had some gold paint left, so he dipped his brush in that, and drew a gold ball. But it didn't look right, so he added wings. He moved back and looked at the whole painting.

It looked right now. How weird.

Brownie points for anyone who can work out where some of the teacher's names come from!

By the way...I doubt the Gerald/girlfriend thing will be resolved in this story,because it's not important,and Gerald only mentioned her because he likes to talk about anything he can find to talk about. But maybe one day in another story...;)

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