Harry Potter had never been on holiday, his aunt and uncle had always prefered to leave him with an old lady from the neighbourhood when they went. This morning, however, he was told to pack all his things and come into the car as the Dursleys loaded their car from top to bottom for their holiday.
The boy was excited to be going for once, Mrs. Figg wasn’t too bad except that she talked about her cats constantly and her whole house smelled funny. He tried really hard to behave himself so that he wouldn’t be punished by staying after all.
After what seemed like an eternity, Harry was strapped in the back of the car, next to his much larger cousin, and they were speeding away. He ignored Dudley’s finger poking him insistently in the side, determined to enjoy his first ever outing, and a little scared that uncle Vernon would start yelling if the other boy complained about him.
Harry squinted out the window, trying to tell if the fuzzy images were trees or houses, but they zoomed by so fast that he couldn’t be sure. He amused himself like that until his head started pounding from the effort of forcing blurry outlines into familiar shapes, and he closed his eyes for a few minutes to rest them.
He must have fallen asleep, because the next thing he knew was that aunt Petunia was pulling him out of the car, dragging the stumbling boy across the broken pavement before he even had time to wake up properly.
“Where are we going?” Harry asked sleepily, rubbing his eyes with a small fist.
“Don’t ask questions, boy!” Petunia Dursley snapped at her nephew, she stepped up to the green door, and pressed a thumb into a door bell. “Be quiet!”
Harry ducked his head, hoping his aunt wasn’t too upset that he was a bother again. It was hard not to be curious sometimes, he wondered if this was their holidaying place, but his uncle and cousin weren’t coming out of the car so he doubted it. The bell buzzed and buzzed, and he was sure that whoever lived here wasn’t home, but before he worked up the courage to say so, the door flew open with a bang.
“What do you want, woman?!” A man demanded angrily, Harry cringed at the furious voice, and even aunt Petunia seemed to shrink before the man.
The boy peeked up warily, and gulped fearfully at the pale face framed by curtains of black hair. He reminded Harry of a vampire he had seen on the television once, he was even dressed all in black clothes. The boy tried to step back from the vampire man, but aunt Petunia pulled him to the front of herself.
“Be still,” she hissed in his ear, before addressing the man. “It is time you took responsibility for what is yours, Severus.”
The vampire man looked down his hawk’s nose at the boy, and Harry was close enough to see his harsh features twist with disgust and dislike. He shivered, wishing for nothing so much as to be back in the car with his cousin and uncle.
“What are you blathering on about, Tuney?!” the man questioned disdainfully, transferring his impressive glower to his aunt.
Aunt Petunia opened her handbag and rummaged for a few minutes, before finding an aged envelope and thrusting it in the man’s face.
“Here,” she snapped, no longer seeming intimidated by the vampire man. She adjusted her handbag on her shoulder impatiently. “It explains everything.”
“A letter from Lily?” the man asked in a low voice, catching the envelope and staring at it in awe.
“From my mummy?” Harry inquired in wonder, but the adults ignored him, as usual. He stood on his tip-toes to better see the letter that the man drew forth. He clutched it so tightly as he read that his knuckles turned white.
Neither the boy nor the man noticed the woman stepping away from them, and returning to the car, only reacting when the loud reeving of the engine disturbed their concentration. Harry whirled about, starting to run at the hazy sight of the moving car. The vampire man was shouting for him to stop, but that only made the boy’s legs move faster. In moments, he was past the rickety gate and dashing up the street after his uncle’s car. Horns blared all around, but he paid them no mind, certain that he could catch up to his relatives if he tried hard enough.
Harry skidded to a jarring halt, suddenly quite unable to move forward, a moment later, a hand clamped painfully on his shoulder and dragged him unceremoniously to the narrow pavement.
“What do you think you are doing, foolish child?!” the vampire man screamed in his face, shaking him so hard that his teeth rattled.
Harry opened his mouth, but whatever he was going to say never emerged as he started to cry. His relatives were beyond his reach, and the furious man was much too close, his fingers cut painfully into his arm. The man growled, and started pulling the sobbing child back toward the house.
The boy had to jog all the way back to keep up with the man’s impossibly long strides, and his arm hurt abominably from his strong grasp. He only slowed when they got to the gate, and bent down to pick up a duffel bag abandoned on the curb.
“That’s mine!” Harry exclaimed in shock, recognising the bag he’d packed that morning.
“I gathered as much,” the man said sourly. “Come.”
Harry’s arm was only released when they were inside and the door was firmly closed. He gave the man a reproachful look as he rubbed the sore spot, but the adult ignored it. He was led into a dark living room.
“Stay here,” the man commanded, indicating the sofa in the middle of the room.
Harry collapsed on the sofa cushions gratefully, the exhaustion from his run catching up to him, and watched the man leave the room. After he caught his breath some, he began thinking about the situation he was in. Where did his family go? Would they come back for him soon? He shook his head, the boy didn’t understand why he was being punished like this. He had really thought he could go on holiday this year, he caught a few errand tears with his fingers, trying to shrug off the disappointment. Maybe Mrs. Figg couldn’t watch him this year, and this man would do it instead?
Sighing sadly at his conclusion, the boy looked up to see what would be his home for the next two weeks, but the room he was in was so gloomy that everything was blurred at the edges, making his head ache. He looked in the direction of the hallway, and listened carefully, but wherever the man had gone must have been a long way off as he couldn’t hear even a whisper of sound.
Cautiously, Harry stood and slowly walked around the room, peering at the furniture from up close. It was much easier this way, and he was impressed to see tall bookcases filled with so many big books. He couldn’t read the titles of course, but he fancied they were tales of adventures and magic. The boy reached out to trace one title with a fingertip, but an angry voice interrupted him.
“What did I tell you to do, boy?!” the man demanded from just behind him, making the child jump in surprise and spin around.
The vampire man stood just there, his arms folded across his chest and his black eyes blazing with fury. Harry swallowed thickly.
“T-to s-stay put?” he asked weakly.
“Indeed,” the man acknowledged mockingly.
Harry hung his head, bracing himself for a reprimand, but instead of yelling at him, the man caught his wrist and pulled him towards the sofa. Looking up warily, the boy watched as the man seated himself on the sofa, pulling the child forward until his stomach lay across the adult’s lap. A hand pressed down on his back, and Harry stiffened, suddenly very uneasy.
“What are you- Ow!” he cried out as his backside exploded with pain. “No! Stop! Oww!”
Harry tried to fight, to get away or to beg even, but it was absolutely no use, he started to cry as the burning stinging in his bum built with every blow. The man took no notice of the child’s distress as he steadily applied firm swats to the upturned posterior. The boy reckoned it went on for hours, but eventually he was helped to stand and turned to face the man.
“You will mind my word, boy,” he growled sternly. “Or I won’t be so lenient next time. Understood?”
Sobbing even harder, Harry touched his throbbing backside, wincing at how much it hurt. He couldn’t imagine an even worse punishment, the boy hurriedly nodded yes when the man made an impatient sound in his throat.
“I require a verbal response, boy,” the man directed sharply. “You may call me sir or father, as it appears I am that to you.”
Harry’s eyes grew wide at that revelation, his tears stopping in complete astonishment. Could this really be his father? He’d always been told that his parents had died in a car crash when he was only a baby. That was why he lived with the Dursleys.
“Are you really my father?” he asked softly, forgetting that asking questions was always a dangerous business.
“Evidently,” the man answered sourly, rolling his eyes at the ceiling. “And as you’ll be staying with me for the foreseeable future, I strongly advise you learn to obey me rather promptly. In fact, I’d avoid any of the 3 D’s if I were you - disobedience, disrespect and dishonesty - as each of them will get your seat sternly whipped. Is that understood, child?”
Harry’s eyes filled again, as he remembered that his backside hurt rather a lot already.
“I-I understand, father,” he whimpered, raising a hand to wipe his dripping nose, but his wrist was slapped away before he could.
“Don’t do that!” the man exclaimed with disgust. “Use this!”
Harry caught the white fabric that was tossed at his face, and blew his nose noisily into the handkerchief. The man’s face contorted with distaste as he observed the display, but he didn’t comment until the boy’s face was put to rights.
“One more thing,” the man said, his voice so ominous that Harry shivered. “If you run into the street ever again, Potter, I’ll use the cane. Is that clear?”
“Yes, sir,” the boy whispered, scared that whatever it meant would be much worse than today.
“Very well,” the strict man said brusquely. “Come along, I’ll show you your room.”