Harry James Potter had just been given arguably the worst birthday present of his young life. For his thirteenth birthday, his relatives had given to him a visit from his Uncle Vernon's horrible sister, Marge Dursley.

His aunt was very much like her nephew and brother; big, beefy, quick to lash out with a hit and had the usual Dursley loathing of Harry. Unlike his relatives, who preferred Harry out of the way, his "Aunt" Marge kept him close, to point out all of the supposed flaws she noticed about him.

What flaws? How he was a terrible boy, clearly mental, too skinny, too lean, a hooligan, a disgrace, how his aunt and uncle were far too good for taking him in. His Aunt Petunia, a skinny horse of a woman, and his Uncle Vernon, had shoved him into a cupboard, had always punished him, made him do all the chores around the house and had hit him if not done to their satisfaction. Harry had become good at dodging after his aunt had once walloped him on the back with a frying pan for daring to burn the bacon he had been cooking at breakfast.

Sometimes he wished he could use his magic. He was a wizard, after all; it would be lovely to turn the terrible people he happened to be related to into toads and have them hop away, out of his life, give him peace for a change. Yet Harry could not do this tempting thing; for one, he was still a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and as such, not a fully trained wizard. For another, it was illegal for under-aged wizards to use magic when school was not in session.

His best friends in the world, Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, were both away for the summer with their families. And Harry was happy for them, truly; the Weasleys were not well off and so winning some gold to take a vacation was certainly well-deserved. As for Hermione, she worked very hard during the school year, helping Harry with trouble he generally found himself in and still managing to be the top student of their year.

He loved his best friends, and was glad for them, truly. Still, he was a bit envious; how he truly wished his parents had not died. How he longed for someone who cared about him.

Still, such was his life. It was because of his school and friends that he was determined to not let "Aunt" Marge rile him up. He was going into his third year at Hogwarts, and students were allowed to go into the small wizarding village of Hogsmeade on field trips starting this year. The unfortunate part of this was the fact he needed a parent or guardian's signature on his form.

He had managed to make a deal with Uncle Vernon. He would behave this entire miserable week, give no signs of magic or anything in front of his "Aunt" Margeā€¦ and in return, his uncle would sign his permission slip.

It was what led to the boy hiding out at the moment. He had found a perfect hiding place, outside, behind a large hydrangea bush. It made him quite invisible to passers-by. In fact, the only way he would be spotted was if someone stuck their heads out of the living-room window and looked straight down into the flowerbed below.

Truth be told, Harry could not help but congratulate himself on his idea of hiding here. He was certainly not comfortable lying on the hot, hard earth but, on the other hand he was away from his "Aunt" Marge's hateful words and glares, away from the risk of messing up his permission slip not being signed, and thus, that was a win for him.

As the day passed, turning into evening, Harry knew he would have to go inside for dinner. He could hear his "Aunt" Marge raging inside the house, demanding to know where he was. It reminded him of a angry bull, which certainly fit the woman's temperament.

Taking a deep breath and steeling himself, Harry rolled cautiously on to his front and raised himself on to his knees and elbows, preparing to crawl out from under the window.

He had moved about two inches when several things happened in very quick succession. A loud, echoing chilling tearing sound broke the sleepy silence like a gunshot; a shriek, a bellowed oath and the sound of breaking china came from the Dursleys' living room. Harry jumped to his feet, at the same time pulling from the waistband of his jeans a thin wooden wand as if he were unsheathing a sword - but before he could draw himself up to full height, the top of his head collided with the Dursleys' open window. The resultant crash made someone inside scream even louder.

Harry felt as though his head had been split in two. Eyes streaming, he swayed, trying to focus on the street to spot the source of the noise, but he had barely staggered upright when he collapsed again, feeling sick. The world seemed to be spinning around him, a whirlwind of color and sound, and though he tried desperately to stay upright, to be ready and fight, he couldn't do it. He tried to force his eyes open, but there was a burst of complete and utter pain that felt like something had just jabbed him in the eyes. He could only see darkness and felt nothing but pain.

And finally, the boy lost conscious.