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Hello all my amazing readers! Thank you to all my reviewers and all the suggestions and inputs I received from my first two chapters! I'm so glad you're enjoying this story as much as I am rewriting it my way. I hope you are all enjoy this next chapter!

 

I didn't give the full character list of everyone because it will get a little ridiculous if I mention every single one that was in each chapter. I will only put the main, "important" characters on the refresher list.

 

Characters:

Harrietta Jane Potter – Harry James Potter

Darcey Dursley – Dudley Dursley

Peter Dursley – Petunia Dursley

Veronica Dursley – Vernon Dursley

Uncle Martin – Aunt Marge

Pear Polkiss – Piers Polkiss

 

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***Chapter 3

The Letters From No One***

 

            The escape of the Brazilian boa constrictor earned Harrietta her longest-ever punishment. By the time she was allowed out of her cupboard again, the summer holidays had started and Darcey had already broken her new video camera, ruined her make-up set, and, first time out on her racing bike, knocked down old Mr. Figg as he crossed Privet Drive on his crutches.

            Harrietta was glad school was over, but there was no escaping Darcey’s gang, who visited the house every single day. Pear, Denise, Melinda, and Greta were all big and stupid, but as Darcey was the biggest and stupidest of the lot, she was the leader. The rest of them were all quite happy to join in Darcey’s favorite sport: Harrietta Hunting.

            This was why Harrietta spent as much time as possible out of the house, wandering around and thinking about the end of the holidays, where she could see a tiny ray of hope. When September came, she would be going off to secondary school and, for the first time in her life, she wouldn’t be with Darcey. Darcey had been accepted at Aunt Veronica’s old private school, Smeltings. Pear Polkiss was going there too. Harrietta, on the other hand, was going to Stonewall High, the local public school. Darcey thought this was very funny.

            “They stuff people’s heads down the toilet the first day at Stonewall. Mostly the boys, or girls who look like boys, so they wouldn’t really know the difference,” she told Harrietta. “Want to come upstairs and practice?”

            “No, thanks,” said Harrietta. “The poor toilets never had anything as horrible as your head down it—it might be sick.” Then she ran, before Darcey could work out what she’d said.

            One day in July, Uncle Peter took Darcey to London to buy her Smeltings uniform, leaving Harrietta at Mr. Figg’s. Mr. Figg wasn’t as bad as usual. It turned out he’d broken his leg tripping over one of his cats, and he didn’t seem quite as fond of them as before. He let Harrietta watch television and gave her a bit of chocolate cake that tasted as though he’d had it for several years.

            That evening, Darcey paraded around the living room for the family in her brand-new uniform. Smeltings’ girls wore maroon coats, orange skirts, an ugly maroon and orange tie, and ribbons for the hair matching the boy’s flat straw hats called boaters. They also carried knobbly sticks, used for hitting each other while the teachers weren’t looking. This was supposed to be good training for later life.

            As she looked at Darcey with her new ribbons, Aunt Veronica said gruffly that it was the proudest moment of her life. Uncle Peter teared up and said he couldn’t believe it was his Ickle Darceykins, she looked so beautiful and grown-up. Harrietta didn’t trust herself to speak. She thought two of her ribs might already have cracked from trying not to laugh.

           

            There was a horrible smell in the kitchen the next morning when Harrietta went in for breakfast. It seemed to be coming from a large metal tub in the sink. She went to have a look. The tub was full of what looked like dirty rags swimming in gray water.

            “What’s this?” she asked Uncle Peter. His lips tightened as they always did if she dared to ask a question.

            “Your new school uniform,” he said.

            Harrietta looked in the bowl again.

            “Oh,” she said, “I didn’t realize it had to be so wet.”

            “Don’t be stupid,” snapped Uncle Peter. “I’m dyeing some of Darcey’s old things gray for you. It’ll look just like everyone else’s when I’ve finished.”

            Harrietta seriously doubted this but thought it best not to argue. She sat down at the table and tried not to think about how she was going to look on her first day at Stonewall High—like she was wearing bits of old elephant skin, probably.

            Darcey and Aunt Veronica came in, both with wrinkled noses because of the smell from Harrietta’s new uniform. Aunt Veronica opened her magazine as usual and Darcey banged her Smelting stick, which she carried everywhere, on the table.

            They heard the click of the mail slot, and flop of letters on the doormat.

            “Get the mail, Darcey,” said Aunt Veronica from behind her magazine.

            “Make Harrietta get it.”

            “Get the mail, Harrietta.”

            “Make Darcey get it.”

            “Poke her with your Smelting stick, Darcey.”

            Harrietta dodged the Smelting stick and went to get the mail. Three things lay on the doormat: a postcard from Aunt Veronica’s brother Martin, who was vacationing on the Isle of Wight, a brown envelope that looked like a bill, and – a letter for Harrietta.

            Harrietta picked it up and stared at it, her heart twanging like a giant elastic band. No one, ever, in her whole life, had written to her. Who would? She had no friends, no other relatives—she didn’t belong to the library, so she’d never even got rude notes asking for books back. Yet here it was, a letter, addressed so plainly there could be no mistake:

                                  Miss. H. Potter

                             The Cupboard under the stairs

                             4 Privet Drive

                             Little Whinging

                             Surrey

 

The envelope was thick and heavy, made of yellowish parchment, and the address was written in emerald-green ink. There was no stamp.

            Turning the envelope over, her hand trembled, Harrietta saw a purple wax seal bearing a coat of arms; a lion, an eagle, a badger, and a snake surrounding a large letter H.

            “Hurry up, girl!” shouted Aunt Veronica from the kitchen. “What are you doing, checking for letter bombs?” She chuckled at her own joke.

            Harrietta went back to the kitchen, still staring at her letter. She handed Aunt Veronica the bill and the postcard, sat down, and slowly began to open the yellow envelope.

            Aunt Veronica ripped open the bill, snorted in disgust, and flipped over the postcard.

            “Martin’s ill,” she informed Uncle Peter. “Ate a funny whelk…”

            “Mum!” said Darcey suddenly. “Mum, Harrietta’s got something!”

            Harrietta was on the point of unfolding her letter, which was written on the same heavy parchment as the envelope, when it was jerked sharply out of her hand to Aunt Veronica.

            “That’s mine!” said Harrietta, trying to snatch it back.

            “Who’d be writing to you?” sneered Aunt Veronica, shaking the letter open with one hand and glancing at it. Her face went from red to green faster than a set of traffic lights. And it didn’t stop there. Within seconds it was the grayish white of old porridge.

            “P-P-Peter!” she gasped.

            Darcey tried to grab the letter to read it, but Aunt Veronica held it high out of reach. Uncle Peter took it curiously and read the first line. For a moment it looked as though he might faint. He clutched his throat and made a chocking noise.

            “Veronica! Oh, my goodness—Veronica!”

            They stared at each other, seeming to have forgotten that Harrietta and Darcey were still in the room. Darcey wasn’t used to being ignored. She gave her mother a sharp tap on the head with her Smelting stick.

            “I want to read that letter,” she said loudly.

            “I want to read it,” said Harrietta furiously, “as it’s mine.”

            “Get out, both of you,” croaked Aunt Veronica, stuffing the letter back inside its envelope.

            Harrietta didn’t move.

            “I WANT MY LETTER!” she shouted.

            “Let me see it!” demanded Darcey.

            “OUT!” roared Aunt Veronica, and she took both Harrietta and Darcey by their hair and threw them into the hall, slamming the kitchen door behind them. Harrietta and Darcey promptly had a furious but silent fight over who would listen at the keyhole; Darcey won, so Harrietta, her glasses dangling from one ear, lay flat on her stomach to listen at the crack between the door and floor.

            “Veronica,” Uncle Peter was saying in a quivering voice, “look at the address—how could they possibly know where he sleeps? You don’t think they’re watching the house?”

            “Watching—spying—might be following us,” muttered Aunt Veronica wildly.

            “But what should we do, Veronica? Should we write back? Tell them we don’t want—”

            Harrietta could see Aunt Veronica’s sandals pacing up and down the kitchen.

            “No,” she said finally. “No, we’ll ignore it. If they don’t get an answer… Yes, that’s best… we won’t do anything…”

            “But—”

            “I’m not having one in the house, Peter! Didn’t we swear when we took her in, we’d stamp out that dangerous nonsense?”

 

That evening when she got back from work, Aunt Veronica did something she’d never done before; she visited Harrietta in her cupboard.

            “Where’s my letter?” said Harrietta, the moment Aunt Veronica had squeezed through the door. “Who’s writing to me?”

            “No one. It was addressed to you by mistake,” said Aunt Veronica shortly. “I have burned it.”

            “It was not a mistake,” said Harrietta angrily, “it had my cupboard on it.”

            “SILENCE!” yelled Aunt Veronica, and a couple of spiders fell from the ceiling. She took a few deep breaths and then forced her face into a smile, which looked quite painful.

            “Er—yes, Harrietta—about this cupboard. Your uncle and I have been thinking… you’re really getting a bit big for it… we think it might be nice if you moved into Darcey’s second bedroom.”

            “Why?” said Harrietta.

            “Don’t ask questions!” snapped her aunt. “Take this stuff upstairs, now.”

            The Dursleys’ house had four bedrooms: one for Aunt Veronica and Uncle Peter, one for visitors (usually Aunt Veronica’s brother, Martin), one where Darcey slept, and one where Darcey kept all the toys and things that wouldn’t fit into her first bedroom. It only took Harrietta one trip upstairs to move everything she owned from the cupboard to this room. She sat down on the bed and stared around her. Nearly everything in here was broken. The month-old video camera was lying on top of a small, working barbie jeep Darcey had once driven over the next door neighbor’s dog; in the corner was Darcey’s first-ever television set, which she’d put her foot through when her favorite program had been canceled; there was a large birdcage, which had once held a parrot that Darcey had swapped at school for a brand new barbie doll, which was up on a shelf with the head snapped off because Darcey got upset. Other shelves were full of books. They were the only things in the room that looked as though they’d never been touched.

            From downstairs came the sound of Darcey bawling at her father, “I don’t want her in there… I need that room… make her get out…”

            Harrietta sighed and stretched out on the bed. Yesterday she’d have given anything to be up here. Today, she’d rather be back in her cupboard with that letter than up here without it.

 

Next morning at breakfast, everyone was rather quiet. Darcey was in shock. She’d screamed, whacked her mother with her Smelting stick, been sick on purpose, kicked her father, and thrown her tortoise through the greenhouse roof, and she still didn’t have her room back. Harrietta was thinking about this time yesterday and bitterly wishing she’d opened the letter in the hall. Aunt Veronica and Uncle Peter kept looking at each other darkly.

            When the mail arrived, Aunt Veronica, who seemed to be trying to be nice to Harrietta, made Darcey go and get it. They heard her banging things with her Smelting stick all the way down the hall. Then shouted, “There’s another one! ‘Miss. H. Potter, The Smallest Bedroom, 4 Privet Drive—”

            With a strangled cry, Aunt Veronica leapt from her seat and ran down the hall, Harrietta right behind her. Aunt Veronica had to wrestle Darcey to the ground to get the letter from her, which was made difficult by the fact that Harrietta had grabbed Aunt Veronica around the neck from behind. After a minute of confused fighting, in which everyone got hit a lot by the Smelting stick, Aunt Veronica straightened up, gasping for breath, with Harrietta’s letter clutched in her hand.

            “Go to your cupboard—I mean, your bedroom,” she wheezed at Harrietta. “Darcey—go—just go.”

            Harrietta walked round and round her new room. Someone knew she had moved out of her cupboard and they seemed to know she hadn’t received her first letter. Surely that meant they’d try again? And this time she’d make sure they didn’t fail. She had a plan.

 

The repaired alarm clock rang at six o’clock the next morning. Harrietta turned it off quickly and dressed silently. She mustn’t wake the Dursleys. She stole downstairs without turning on any of the lights.

            She was going to wait for the postman on the corner of Privet Drive and get the letter for number four first. Her heart hammered as she crept across the dark hall toward the front door—

            “AAAAARRRGH!”

            Harrietta leapt into the air; she’d trodden on something big and squashy on the doormat—something alive!

            Lights clicked on upstairs and to her horror Harrietta realized that the big, squashy something had been her aunt’s face. Aunt Veronica had been lying at the foot of the front door in a sleeping bad, clearly making sure that Harrietta didn’t do exactly what she’d been trying to do.  She shouted at Harrietta for about half an hour and then told her to go and make a cup of tea. Harrietta shuffled miserably off into the kitchen and by the time she got back, the mail had arrived, right into Aunt Veronica’s lap, Harrietta could see three letters addressed in green ink.

            “I want—” she began, but Aunt Veronica was tearing the letters into pieces before her eyes.

            Aunt Veronica didn’t go to work that day. She stayed home and nailed up the mail slot.

            “See,” she explained to Uncle Peter through a mouthful of nails, “if they can’t deliver them, they’ll just give up.”

            “I’m not sure that’ll work, Veronica.”

            “Oh, these people’s minds work in strange ways, Peter, they’re not like you and me,” said Aunt Veronica, trying to knock in a nail with the piece of fruitcake Uncle Peter had just brought her.

 

On Friday, no less than twelve letters arrived for Harrietta. As they couldn’t go through the mail slot they had been pushed under the door, slotted through the sides, and a few even forced through the small window in the downstairs bathroom.

            Aunt Veronica stayed at home again. After burning all the letters, she got out a hammer and nails and boarded up the cracks around the front and back doors so no one could go out. She hummed “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” as she worked and jumped at small noises.

 

On Saturday, things began to get out of hand. Twenty-four letters to Harrietta found their way into the house, rolled up and hidden inside each of the two dozen eggs that their very confused milkman had handed Uncle Peter through the living room window. While Aunt Veronica made furious telephone calls to the post office and the dairy trying to find someone to complain to, Uncle Peter shredded the letter in his food processor.

            “Who on earth wants to talk to you this badly?” Darcey asked Harrietta in amazement.

 

On Sunday morning, Aunt Veronica sat down at the breakfast table looking tired and rather ill, but happy.

            “No post on Sundays,” she reminded them cheerfully as she spread marmalade on her magazines, “no damn letters today—”

            Something came whizzing down the kitchen chimney as she spoke and caught her sharply on the back of the head. Next moment, thirty or forty letters came pelting out of the fireplace like bullets. The Dursleys ducked, but Harrietta leapt into the air.

            “Out! OUT!”

            Before Harrietta could bend down and pick a letter off the floor, Aunt Veronica seized Harrietta around the waist and threw her into the hall. When Uncle Peter and Darcey had run out with their arms over their faces, Aunt Veronica slammed the door shut. They could hear the letters still streaming into the room, bouncing off the walls and floor.

            “That does it,” said Aunt Veronica, trying to speak calmly. “I want you all back here in five minutes ready to leave. We’re going away. Just pack some clothes. No arguments!”

            She looked so dangerous with her hair askew that no one dared argue. Ten minutes later they had wrenched their way through the boarded-up doors and were in the car, speeding toward the highway. Darcey was sniffling in the back seat; her mother had hit her round the head for holding them up while she tried to pack her television, VCR, and computer in her sports bag.

            They drove. And they drove. Even Uncle Peter didn’t dare ask where they were going. Every now and then Aunt Veronica would take a sharp turn and drive in the opposite direction for a while.

            “Shake ‘em off… shake ‘em off,” she would mutter whenever she did this.

            They didn’t stop to eat or drink all day. By nightfall, Darcey was howling. She’d never had such a bad day in her life. She was hungry, she’d missed five television programs she’d wanted to see, and she’d never gone so long without her dress up games or taking care of her puppies’ games on her computer.

            Aunt Veronica stopped at last outside a gloomy-looking hotel on the outskirts of a big city. Darcey and Harrietta shared a room with twin beds and damp, musty sheets. Darcey snored but Harrietta stayed awake, sitting on the windowsill, staring down at the lights of passing cars and wondering…

 

They ate stale cornflakes and cold tinned tomatoes on toast for breakfast the next day. They had just finished when the owner of the hotel came over to their table.

            “’Scuse me, but is one of you Miss. H. Potter? Only I got about an ‘undred of these at the front desk.”

            He held up a letter so they could read the green ink address:

Miss. H. Potter

                             Room 17

                             Railview Hotel

                             Cokeworth

 

Harrietta made a grab for the letter but Aunt Veronica knocked her hand out of the way. The man stared.

            “I’ll take them, “said Aunt Veronica, standing up quickly and followed him from the dining room.

 

“Wouldn’t it be better just to go home, dear?” Uncle Peter suggested timidly, hours later, but Aunt Veronica didn’t seem to hear him. Exactly what she was looking for, none of them knew. She drove them into the middle of a forest, got out, looked around, shook her head, got back in the car, and off they went again. The same thing happened in the middle of a plowed field, halfway across a suspension bridge, and at the top of a multilevel parking garage.

            “Mommy’s gone mad, hasn’t she?” Darcey asked Uncle Peter dully late that afternoon. Aunt Veronica had parked at the coast, locked them all inside the car, and disappeared.

            It started to rain. Great drops beat on the rood of the car. Darcey sniveled.

            “It’s Monday,” she told her father. “The Great Humberto’s on tonight, I want to stay somewhere with a television.

            Monday. This reminded Harrietta of something. If it was Monday—and you could usually count on Darcey to know the days of the week, because of television—then tomorrow, Tuesday, was Harrietta’s eleventh birthday. Of course, her birthdays were never exactly fun—last year, the Dursleys had given her a coat hanger and a pair of Aunt Veronica’s old socks. Still, you weren’t eleven every day.

            Aunt Veronica was back, and she was smiling. She was also carrying a long, thin package and didn’t answer Uncle Peter when he asked what she’d bought.

            “Found the perfect place!” she said. “Come on! Everyone out!”

            It was very cold outside the car. Aunt Veronica was pointing at what looked like a large rock way out at sea. Perched on top of the rock was the most miserable little shack you could imagine. One thing was certain, there was no television in there.

            “Storm forecast for tonight!” said Aunt Veronica gleefully, clapping her hands together. “And this lady’s kindly agreed to lend us her boat!”

            A toothless old woman came ambling up to them, pointing, with a rather wicked grin, at an old rowboat bobbing in the iron-gray water below them.

            “I’ve already got us some rations,” said Aunt Veronica, “so all aboard!”

            It was freezing in the boat. Icy sea spray and rain crept down their necks and a chilly wind whipped their faces. After what seemed like hours, they reached the rock, where Aunt Veronica, slipping and sliding, led the way to the broken-down house.

            The inside was horrible; it smelled strongly of seaweed, the wind whistled through the gaps in the wooden walls, and the fireplace was damp and empty. There were only two rooms.

            Aunt Veronica’s rations turned out to be a bag of chips each and four bananas. She tried to start a fire, but the empty chip bags just smoked and shriveled up.

            “Could do with some of those letters now, eh?” She said cheerfully.

            She was in a very good mood. Obviously, she thought nobody stood a chance of reaching them here in a storm to deliver mail. Harrietta privately agreed, though the thought didn’t cheer her up at all.

            As night fell, the promised storm blew up around them. Spray from the high waves splattered the walls of the hut and a fierce wind rattled the filthy windows. Uncle Peter found a few moldy blankets in the second room and made up a bed for Darcey on the moth-eaten sofa. He and Aunt Veronica went off to the lumpy bed next door, and Harrietta was left to find the softest bit of floor she could and to curl up under the thinnest, most ragged blanket.

            The storm raged more and more ferociously as the night went on. Harrietta couldn’t sleep. She shivered and turned over, trying to get comfortable, her stomach rumbling with hunger. Darcey’s snores were drowned by the low rolls of thunder that started near midnight. The lighted dial of Darcey’s pink watch, which was dangling over the edge of the sofa on her fat wrist, told Harrietta she’d be eleven in ten minutes’ time. She lay and watched her birthday tick nearer, wondering if the Dursleys would remember at all, wondering where the letter writer was now.

            Five minutes to go. Harrietta heard something creak outside. She hoped the roof wasn’t going to fall in, although she might be warmer if it did. Four minutes to go. Maybe the house in Privet Drive would be so full of letters when they got back that she’d be able to steal one somehow.

            Three minutes to go. Was that the sea, slapping hard on the rock like that? And (two minutes to go) what was that funny crunching noise? Was the rock crumbling into the sea?

            One minute to go and she’d be eleven. Thirty seconds… twenty… ten… nine—maybe she’d wake Darcey up, just to annoy her—three… two…one…

            BOOM

            The whole shack shivered and Harrietta sat bolt upright, staring at the door. Someone was outside, knocking to come in.

 

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I hope you all enjoyed this chapter. I know it's a cliffy, and I apologize. We will get to see Hagrid again! I hope you all like that first name I picked out for her. She is one of my favorite characters, so I plan on giving her a little more love and character. Thank you again for reading! Please review and give me criticism and ideas on potential "ships" when they get older in the coming books. And of course, I still need name ideas for some of the upcoming characters!

 

Thank you and much love,

Alexa <3

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