The Sugar Quill
Author: potions gurl  Story: The Letter  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

“Hurry up, boy

Disclaimer: The characters, places, and situations do not belong to me; they are the property of the wonderful Ms. Rowling. Some of the dialogue is from the American version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone and is used to supplement the story; no copy write infringement or plagiarism is intended.

 

 

“Hurry up, boy!” shouted Uncle Vernon from the kitchen. “What are you doing, checking for letter bombs?” Harry could hear him chuckling at his own joke.

Harry turned to the take the mail to the kitchen and stopped. He wanted to read his letter, but didn’t think he should take it into the kitchen. After all, why would someone write to him? As he passed his cupboard he slid the letter in to read later.

He handed Uncle Vernon the postcard and bill then sat down to finish his breakfast.

“Marge is ill,” Uncle Vernon said turning over the postcard. “Ate a funny whelk while on vacation. But says the weather is good.” He finished his breakfast and stood up to leave, taking the bill with him. “Have a good day Dudley. And you, boy, do what your Aunt tells you.”

“Yes Uncle Vernon.”

After everyone was done with breakfast and Dudley had gone off to Piers’ house Harry was left to do the dishes and clean up the kitchen. When he got done he couldn’t find Aunt Petunia so he went back to his cupboard and the mysterious letter. He closed the door quietly behind him, then picked up the thick yellow envelope and turned it over to break the seal. Inside were two pieces of paper. One of them looked like a letter, so Harry read that first.

Hogwarts School

of Witchcraft and Wizardry

~~~~~~~

Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore

(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock,

Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. Of Wizards)

 

“I wonder what all that means? Makes him sound important anyway.”

 

Dear Mr. Potter,

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.

Term begins September 1. We await your owl by no later then July 31.

Yours sincerely,

Minerva McGonagall

Minerva McGonagall,

Deputy Headmistress

 

“School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? Await my owl? This has to be some sort of joke. After all, there’s no such thing as magic, is there?”

Harry was interrupted from his thoughts by a rap on the door. “Get outside and weed the flower bed. And after you’re done you can mow the lawn.”

 

*~*~*

 

The next morning Harry was back at Mrs. Figg's. Aunt Petunia took Dudley shopping for new shoes after he complained that his old ones didn’t look good with his new school uniform.

That afternoon he was able to sneak off to the library. He wanted to see if he could find anything on Hogwarts or general wizardry books. Though he liked Ms. Garwood, the librarian, he didn’t need her thinking he was crazy so he headed straight to the card catalogue.

His search yielded nothing for Hogwarts but he found a lot for witchcraft and wizardry. Selecting the entries that looked most useful, Harry went in search of the books. Most of what he found talked about the history and mythology. The most interesting was a children’s story that talked about witches and wizards living in a hidden world among mortals. Though it sounded impossible, Harry read it anyway.

It told about a group of wizards who were being hunted so they discarded their robes and split up to blend in with mortals. But they would meet in segregated locations to practice their art away from mortals. Eventually they developed spells to keep the mortals from their hideaway. This enabled more wizards and witches to give up the ways of mortals and practice magic freely.

The secret meeting place was said to still exist, but that no one knew where it was. By the time Harry was done reading he couldn’t help but wonder if this secret place wasn’t Hogwarts. Before he got a chance to look for more books, Ms. Garwood rang the bell to announce that she was getting ready to close the library.

Harry put the rest of the books on the reshelving cart and took the story to the desk to check out. “Going to try to locate the magic place, Harry?” asked Ms. Garwood as she stamped the book.

“No, ma’am. The story just sounds interesting. Thank you.” Harry left with the book and got back to his Aunt and Uncle’s house just in time to store it in his cupboard before having to make supper.

 

*~*~*

 

Harry wasn’t able to study the book further until the next afternoon when he took his letter and the book to the park on Magnolia Crescent. He reread the letter to see if it had any hints he might have missed. He wasn’t finding anything and was getting ready to leave when something caught his eye. Sitting on the swings was an owl.

“‘We await your owl.’ I wonder if that’s for me?” He put the book and letter on the ground and went to see about procuring the owl. When he reached the swings he climbed on one and was so focused on getting the owl that he didn’t see or hear the other boys approaching.

“Look who we have here.”

At the sounds of cousin’s voice Harry turned to look over his shoulder. He thought briefly about getting off the swing, but decided he was safer where he was.

“He’s reaching for the birds, he must think that he can fly. Why don’t we give him a hand?”

Before Harry could react they had surrounded the swing and were pushing him in all directions. When Dudley, who was at his back, got him again he gave a particularly sharp push to Harry’s back. Harry lost his hold on the chains and went flying off the swing.

“He really can fly. Too bad his landing is so rough.”

Dudley and his gang left Harry laying face down in the gravel. He waited until he knew they had left the park before getting up. From the pain in his hands and face he knew they would be bruised. He looked up, but the owl was no longer sitting on top of the swings.

It was almost dark by the time Harry got back to Privet Drive. His Uncle, Aunt and cousin were sitting in the lounge watching television so Harry snuck in the back door into the kitchen and to get some supper for himself. Just as he was opening the refrigerator Uncle Vernon walked in.

“Trying to steal more food are you? Since you voluntarily missed supper you can go without. And you can stay in your cupboard all day tomorrow for trying to take what’s not yours.”

With that Uncle Vernon closed the door to the refrigerator and dragged Harry down the hall to his cupboard. Harry heard the lock click as he was straightening his glasses. He wasn’t so pleased with being punished for something he didn’t think was wrong, but there wasn’t any possibility about contradicting Uncle Vernon.

Harry fell asleep much later that night trying not to think about how hungry he was. He had a restless sleep punctuated by strange dreams. The one about the flying motorbike was back. This time it was joined by others about broomsticks and bubbling cauldrons.

All of his dreams had a feeling of contented happiness to them. But then something changed. Harry woke with a start, covered in a cold sweat and short of breath. He couldn’t remember much of the last dream, only that it ended with a bright flash of green light. He lay there in the dark, afraid to go back to sleep, yet unwilling to turn on the light to chase away the shadows.

He wasn’t sure how long he had been staring at the ceiling when the lock clicked open. Harry scrambled to get up thinking perhaps his uncle had changed his mind. But as he reached for his glasses, Harry saw a plate of toast being pushed through the door and then heard the click of the lock again.

From past experiences Harry knew that toast was all he’d get to eat all day. But he also knew that his aunt would be back to take the plate away before too long. He grabbed the two pieces of toast and put them on the shelf that he always kept clean for times like these.

Harry spent the day nibbling on the toast and rereading his letter. He had read it so many times it was almost memorized but he took it out to read again anyway.

“I need to send an owl back by the thirty-first. I’ve only seen one owl since I got the letter, so I don’t know if they mean by bird or if that’s code for something else. Well, I’m going to write out my reply just in case.”

Harry located some paper left from school, got out a pen, and wrote his reply.

 

Deputy Headmistress,

I have never heard of Hogwarts, and thought this was a joke. But after careful consideration I accept the invitation to attend. I await further instructions.

Respectfully,

Harry Potter

 

He knew there was not going to be an opportunity to send the letter that day, so he put it where he’d remember to grab it in the morning.

 

*~*~*

 

Because he was locked in his cupboard, Harry couldn’t hear the conversation at dinner. But as his uncle, aunt and cousin moved into the lounge to watch the news, he could hear them talking. Something his uncle said caught his ear; he moved closer to the door to listen.“…three of them, just sitting there. Owls out in broad daylight, like they were expecting something. And I’ve no idea why they’d be on my roof.”

“Harry was trying to get an owl at the park yesterday. Maybe these ones are its friends come to exact revenge.”

There was an awkward pause in which Harry tried desperately to see though the cracks around the door.

“Yes, well. I’m sure it’s nothing.” Uncle Vernon’s voice didn’t sound so sure to Harry. “Let’s see what’s on the news, shall we?”

Harry knew there wouldn’t be anything else to hear with the television on, so he moved away from the door. The conversation may have seemed normal and unimportant to most people, but it left Harry with a feeling of unease.

Why did Uncle Vernon sound worried? I bet they do mean using the birds as a means of correspondence. Perhaps I’ll see another one tomorrow, Harry thought as he settled in for the evening.

 

*~*~*

 

The next day Harry found himself over at Mrs. Figg’s while his aunt, uncle, and cousin went to a social function for Uncle Vernon’s company. He wasn’t thrilled at the idea of spending another day that week with the mad old lady and her cats. But he thought perhaps she would at least let him sit outside for a bit and maybe he could catch an owl.

Mrs. Figg was still in her cast and still upset with her cats. She did let Harry watch the television again and still had some of the chocolate cake. After scanning through the channels Harry determined that there wasn’t anything interesting to watch. He thought about asking Mrs. Figg about Hogwarts and see if she’d ever heard of it, but changed his mind.

Later when Harry was looking out the window wishing he could go outside, an owl flew by. He was so startled he gave a slight involuntary jump.

“What is it? Did you see a ghost or something?” Mrs. Figg had come back into the room at that moment.

“N-no. It was just an owl. Strange though, an owl being out in the middle of the day. Have you ever heard of owls delivering mail?” The question was out before he even had a chance to stop it.

Harry received a rather strange look from the old lady before she answered. “Mail from owls? What kind of silly idea is that?”

“Just something I heard somewhere.” They sat in silence for a little while before Harry worked up the courage to ask his next question. “Have you ever heard of a place called Hogwarts?”

“Hogwarts? I know they are a flower: quite lovely, too. But a place? I don’t think so.”

 

*~*~*

 

Harry spent the rest of Saturday evening and all of Sunday doing his best to avoid the rest of his family. He tried to sneak out Monday morning to see about catching an owl, but Aunt Petunia snagged him to do chores as soon as breakfast was over.

While mowing the lawn in the afternoon, Harry noticed not one or two but four owls sitting on the roof. He hadn’t realized he was staring until Aunt Petunia shrieked at him from the kitchen window.

“Don’t just stand there. The lawn won’t mow itself, you know.”

At the sound of her voice, the owls flew off. Harry was startled out of his trance and continued mowing.

That evening after supper while the others were watching “The Great Humberto” on television, Harry went to his cupboard. He could hear the program over the patter of rain and wondered if anyone would notice if he were to sneak out. But he decided against it as he didn’t need to be tracking water and mud back into the house.

He pulled his letter back out to read again. As he was reading a thought suddenly struck him.

“Reply by July 31? That’s tomorrow. That’s also my birthday. I wonder if this really is someone’s idea of a joke?”

He remained lost in thought until he heard the stairs creak above him as the others went up to bed. Harry could still hear the rain outside, but didn’t sound like it was going to escalate into a storm. He lay there listening it to it for a while and started to drift off to sleep just as the clock struck midnight.

 

*~*~*

 

After breakfast Harry was about to head out to the garden to find something to do when Aunt Petunia stopped him. “Boy, you’re going over to Mrs. Figg’s for the day. Don’t ask questions, just go.”

Harry didn’t have to be told twice to leave, though he would rather not be going to Mrs. Figg’s again. He slowly made his way to Wisteria Walk and was met by Mr. Tibbles as he got closer to her house. The cat watched him walk by and then followed him to the front door.

“Ah, there you are. I wondered where you had wandered off to,” Mrs. Figg was standing in the doorway waiting for Harry and the cat. “He seems to like you for some odd reason, which is a first, I think. Come on in, no need to stand out in the sun.”

Harry hadn’t been there very long when there was a knock at the back door. Thinking that there was probably a few neighbors that came over to visit Harry didn’t pay any attention to the visitor until they were standing in the doorway.

“Happy Birthday, Harry.”

Looking up Harry saw a giant man standing in the doorway. He was wearing a coat that appeared to be made mostly of pockets while shaggy hair and a wild beard nearly covered his face. Noticeable though were his eyes; they were black and small, but crinkled at the corners as if he was smiling.

“Excuse me?” Harry gave the visitor a startled look, not being sure why he was there. After all, no one ever remembered it was his birthday anymore.

“It’s not every day you turn eleven, yeh know.”

“But why are you here? And how did you know it was my birthday?”

“I’m here to take you to buy your school supplies. You are coming to school, aren’t you? Dumbledore said you hadn’t written back, but hoped it was jus’ your relatives causin’ problems.”

“What school?” asked Harry looking confused. “Who are you? Who’s Dumbledore?”

“You don’t know?” Harry shook his head and the giant sat in the chair opposite before continuing. “Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts. But everyone calls me Hagrid. Dumbledore is the Headmaster, and the best one they’ve had for some time if you ask me.”

“But what is Hogwarts? I received a letter and tried to find something on it at the library, but there wasn’t anything.”

“Of course you wouldn’t’a come up with an’thin’. It’s hidden from the Muggles and you wouldn’t find any books on i’ in your library anyway. You didn’t know that already? What did that aunt an’ uncle o’ yours tell yeh abou’ it?”

“They didn’t tell me anything. In fact I didn’t show them my letter: should I have?”

“They ha’n’t told yeh anything? Not at all? Not even about your parents?”

“Just that they were killed in the car crash that gave me this scar,” Harry pulled back the fringe that covered the jagged scar on his forehead.

“CAR CRASH!” roared Hagrid jumping up. “How could a car crash kill Lily and James Potter? It’s an outrage! A scandal! Harry Potter not knowing his own story when every kid in our world knows his name!”

“But why would everyone know my name? I didn’t do anything, did I?”

“Do you mean to tell me,” he growled, “that you – You! – know nothing abou’ – about ANYTHING? About our world. Your world. My world. Yer parents world.

“Please do keep it down in there,” Mrs. Figg called from the other room. “You are startling the cats.”

While Hagrid looked ashamed for raising his voice Harry was just confused about why Mrs. Figg had let this stranger in the house. What does she know about all of this, thought Harry before realizing what Hagrid had just said.

“What world?”

“Yer a wizard, Harry.”

“Me? I can’t be a wizard.”

“Not a wizard, eh? Never make anything happen when you was scared or angry?”

Harry thought back over all the times that strange stuff seemed to happen. He had either been scared or angry and had wished that he could do something. Harry smiled at the thought of the various results.

“See? You’d be a thumpin’ good ’un, I’d say, once yeh’ve been trained up a bit. With a mum and dad like yours what else would yeh be?”

“You knew my parents? What were they like? How did they die if it wasn’t a crash?”

“ I don’ think I’m the one who should tell yeh.” Hagrid looked away so as not to have to answer Harry’s questions and caught sight of the clock. “Would you look at the time, we need to go get your supplies.”

“But I don’t know what I will need. Nor do I have any money to purchase anything and I don’t think my Aunt and Uncle will help any.” Though worried about how he would be able to attend the school Harry was elated about the thought of leaving his aunt and uncles house.

“Your list should’ve been with the letter. As for money, d’yeh think yeh parents didn’t leave yeh anything? First stop will be to Gringotts, the wizard’s bank.”

By this point Hagrid was ushering Harry out the door, Mrs. Figg and her cats having been forgotten. Harry had to take three steps for every one Hagrid took.

“Wizards have banks?”

“Jus’ one. Gringotts. Run by goblins and said to be guarded by dragons. Sure would like a dragon. Nice creatures, dragons.”

Before Harry could comment further they had reached Number Four, Privet Drive, and Hagrid was knocking on the door.

Harry was surprised to see his uncle open the door since he should have been at work. Hagrid didn’t seem to be taken aback by this at all.

“Mornin’ Dursley. We’re here to collect young Harry’s school list an’ then off to git him his supplies.”

“What utter nonsense are you trying to fill the boy with?” Uncle Vernon tried to pull Harry into the house, but Hagrid wouldn’t let him. “I don’t know who you are or what you think your doing, but you may leave at once.”

“Ah, shut up, Dursley, yeh great prune. We won’ be here but a minute if you let us in. Or we can stand here and discuss it.”

Uncle Vernon seemed to realize that they were in plain view of anyone who might be out and reluctantly let them in so as to keep people from looking at them.

“Vernon, who’s here?” Aunt Petunia came into the hallway from the kitchen and stopped when she saw who was there. “He’s one of them. What are you doing here?” she hissed through her teeth.

One of them? Harry thought to himself. They must have known all along. “You knew I was a wizard and never told me? That my parents were wizards and not killed in a car crash?”

“Of course we knew. My sister being what she was and meeting that Potter at school. And then we got saddled with you after they got themselves blown up.”

“You should be grateful we took you in boy, even with your abnormalities. We gave you a roof over your head, clothes for your back, and food for your plate. Better than you would have gotten anyplace else.”

“That’s enough,” injected Hagrid before things could get out of hand. “Harry, get yer list so we can be on our way. We’ve lots to do still. Professor Dumbledore would be upset if we didn’t get it all done.”

“I AM NOT PAYING FOR SOME CRACKPOT OLD FOOL TO TEACH HIM MAGIC TRICKS!” yelled Uncle Vernon finally losing control.

Hagrid spun from starting to open the door and drew a pink umbrella from inside his coat to point threateningly at Uncle Vernon. “NEVER –” he thundered, “– INSULT – ALBUS – DUMBLEDORE – IN – FRONT – OF – ME!”

He swung the umbrella to his left and came to rest on Dudley, who had come to the dining room doorway eating a piece of cake. With a flash of violet light and a sharp crack Dudley dropped the plate and grabbed his bottom. As he fled back into the dining room Harry saw that he had a curly pig’s tail poking through a hole in his trousers.

Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia hurried after him, leaving Harry and Hagrid alone in the hall. Harry hurried to his cupboard, trying to hide his smile at seeing his cousin with the tale, to get the list and when he emerged Hagrid had a thunderous expression on his face.

“Go wait outside Harry, I want to have a word with your Aunt and Uncle before we leave.”

Harry went out and sat on the step while he waited for Hagrid. It wasn’t very long before he came out and they headed for the station to take the train into London.

 

*~*~*

 

When Harry got back to Privet Drive that evening he could hear screaming coming from inside the house. He hoped they weren’t going to try to blame whatever it was on him.

When he opened the door, Uncle Vernon met him in the hall with a look of annoyance mixed with terror. “Get your things, boy. You’ll be moving into Dudley’s second room.”

“Why?” asked Harry, not being sure he heard correctly nor trusting his uncle.

“Don’t go asking questions!” snapped his Uncle. “Just do as you’re told.”

Harry left his trunk and owl in the hall while he went into the cupboard to gather up his few things. While he was doing this he overheard the conversation in the lounge and found out that Dudley was throwing a tantrum because he didn’t want Harry in the room. Aunt Petunia calmly replied, “That bad man threatened to come back if we didn’t give him a proper room.”

Harry lay on his new bed that evening and thought about the day. Over lunch he had gotten Hagrid to tell him more about his parents and what happened to them. Then Hagrid had started talking about how he’d always wanted a dragon and the laws not allowing you to keep one as a pet.

There had been so much to see and do that day Harry wasn’t sure if he’d ever understand it all, but that didn’t bother him. He fell asleep that night with a smile on his face knowing that his life was going to get better.

 

 

 

Author’s note: Thanks to Lady Narcissa for being an excellent beta reader. Without your help I would be floundering. And to Sammy Weasley for helping me work out ideas and reading all the variations. And to all my readers, you keep me writing.

//
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