Last Row, Single Desk
The small, dark-haired boy
who sat in the single desk at the back of the class often went unnoticed.
Slumped over an open textbook, his thoroughly chewed pencil tapping
against the white page, he was innocuous and forgettable; a pretty blur of
extraordinary boy to people who bothered to look closely, pasty little
runt to those who didn’t. It was fine, he preferred it that way, and a
lifetime of Dursley-induced training had taught him that attention was
never a good thing.
He liked being small and quiet, unnoticed and tucked away in a corner or a
cupboard where he could be relatively alone. Lonely.
He looked up with a grimace, eyeglasses catching briefly in the stream of
light that spilled in from the window. The teacher was looking at him
expectantly, not unkindly, but somewhat impatient nonetheless. Maybe he
had been drifting again, daydreaming. It was easy to do such things when
you were so … invisible.
“Did you do the homework?”
“Then please come up to the board and complete question four.”
Sighing, Harry pushed himself away from his desk and started the long
journey up to the front, stepping over feet that shot out automatically to
trip him, dodging grubby hands that took surreptitious swipes at his arms
and sides when the teacher was turned away.
The boy thought with some viciousness, Dudley, the little sod with
his mean, mean eyes and fists, intimidating a whole school away
He reached the front without incident, and accepted the stub of chalk that
was handed to him, staring at the equation blankly for a moment before he
started to write.
There were snickers behind his back, audible gawking and hissed insults
about dead parents and ugly scars. He stiffened and hurriedly finished
what he was doing, wanting to be done, wanting to be back in his seat at
the back of the class where he could once again fade into the background
and away from the danger of all this cruel attention.
Relieved when he finished, when the last number was scrawled with messy
abandon, he turned to go, spinning just in time to see it flying towards
his face, something round and hard and painful and bloody sodding Hell
what had he ever done to ANYONE …
Then everything seemed to stop, to freeze like the family tape player when
Dudley hit pause to use the lavatory or get a snack, and he thought about
that now, a tape stopping somewhere, the spools of black film freezing
It was a baseball, he realized, hovering just inches before his face,
suspended in the air as if hung like a Christmas bobble on some invisible
The class was holding its collective breath, staring; behind him, the
teacher’s limp fingers dropped the chalk to the floor and it chattered.
The small sound was enough to break the moment, and the tape moved forward
again, time unfroze and the baseball hit the floor and rolled lazily under
Harry Potter quietly took his seat.