WARNINGS: Some gore, references to suicide, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, actual suicide, off-kilter humor, bad humor, possible triggers
Please do not ever, ever kill yourself. :)
Or anyone else.
Unless you have to.
Disclaimer: This story falls under fair use, as, technically, my writing is but a parody of Madame Rowling's; I make no money nor do I receive any compensation for this use, and all rights are to their original owners as I am to my dearest friends: owned.
Harry smiled contentedly even as his youngest son, Albus, cradled his withered hand in his own and his daughter Lily sobbed openly. His family- those left of the Weasleys and his children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren- was gathered around him, and the faces he was missing were the ones he'd soon be seeing. Harry let his eyes flutter shut with a little sigh; an involuntary expulsion of air as he lost muscular control and his face went slack along with the rest of his body. Soon, he lost track of what was physical and felt a floating sensation as gravity released its power over him, but nothing else. Harry didn't fight, didn't try to wrest back the sight, sound, sensation, he was leaving behind. After more than a hundred years, Harry was ready to go.
"I'm afraid I can't let you do that."
A spike of panic rent through what was left of him.
The voice, unidentifiable even as it slipped through the cracks in his memory and rolled away, slid on, "You're not up yet. I can't take you back."
Paper rustled and a pen scribbled madly across it.
"I'll just send you off for now."
But I was ready! Harry's spirit shrieked soundlessly, every bit of its existence writhing in rage and fear.
The pen slapped a desk with finality, "Yes, Mr. Potter, but we are not ready for you."
And sensation returned.
Harry slammed his undersized fists weakly against a familiar wooden floor in delayed rebellion. Is this a coffin? A spider crawled over his hand and he sat up. It had too much space to be a coffin and was shaped differently. It's a staircase, dumbass, his Common Sense provided flatly. The hypothesis was proved not soon after as feet pounded like thunder down the stairs, spraying his face and shoulders with dust. Harry scowled with tightly closed lips and brushed off as much as he could.
"Mummy! I want to eat breakfast!"
No. Harry had never wanted to hear that voice again. He could recognize that whining drivel anywhere. How could he possibly be back with the Dursleys? Was it something like a spirit Pensieve? Or some sort of purgatory, maybe, where he was to relive the worst moments of his life to pay for his trespasses? Or…
'Send you off for now,' that voice had said. Could it be they'd put him back into his body? Decades off, to be sure, but he supposed a few decades wouldn't make much difference to whatever governed life and death. It was preposterous, impossible, crazy. Bad things happen to wizards who mess with time, Harry remembered with a painful fondness, Hermione's gorgeously wrought coffin flickering through his memory, as quickly there as it was gone. If he was back in time, it might explain why he appeared to have suddenly become a midget. It had to be pre-Hogwarts from the looks of his "bedroom." Would whatever powers that put him here take him back soon?
"Boy! Sunlight's wasting!"
He couldn't relive this; go through the war, find Ginny, raise his kids- His kids. Oh no, Harry felt his head drop into his too-small hands, tiny fingers curling in his hair. Those strange powers didn't seem to have a problem dropping him in the past, so he doubted they'd care to keep the time stream consistent. Even if it all went as it had, how could the same genetic combination result in his children again? It was a one in a million chance he got them in the first place. Were they... just gone? Had they never existed? Were even their souls… "No," he whimpered, voice the tinny prepubescent squeak of pain he remembered from his youth and it pushed the spike deeper into him. The very idea of Lily, Albus, and James just… Vanishing... It opened a hole in his chest beyond what he'd felt in his time on this planet, a gaping void that gasped hungrily, ferociously, and he hardly noticed the sharp tap of no-nonsense kitty heels against the linoleum. A quick rap-rap-rap-rap shook the door in its holdings and the man from his thoughts.
"Harry!" Petunia called, voice tight and high with frustration, "Get out of there, now!"
It wasn't worth it. Harry was done- done. Even just this tiny blip in the timestream… He'd seen The Butterfly Effect with Hermione on a lark. If the Powers, and here Harry began to group them or it bitterly, pulled him back even as early as this second, it was too late. His children…
His children were gone.
A sob tore itself up Harry's throat- too high-pitched, too young- and his tiny fist came down, ineffectually, on the floorboards again.
"Don't make me get your Uncle!" Petunia screeched, reaching the end of her patience with her errant unwanted houseguest.
Her voice was an anchor, a pull of strong emotion, and Harry's eyes snapped to the cupboard door, redirecting his anger similarly. Her shadow through the slates was clearly visible and the sight of it filled him with rage. She was not supposed to be here. He had been meant to die, and to be with his family that had gone before, awaiting only the family left before it was truly heaven. But he was here, and his family, his children, those he'd loved before all else: gone. His weight came down heavily, forcefully as his fists slammed once against the door, startling his aunt away from the slates with a skittish, fluttering motion. "Fetch the bastard, then." And his voice was steeped in pain the sound of a lightning strike, but still too high, too high. Petunia had jerked away from the door in surprise at the sound of actual spoken word from the boy, and her heels clicked a fast metronome's ticking in the other direction. It had been so long with Harry staying silent, she had begun to think he couldn't speak. She bit her nail irritably as she moved toward the bedroom where Vernon still slept, if he'd been able all this time, why hadn't he...?
Unaware of Petunia's startling revelations, Harry grit his teeth against the sobs. There was no point going on. He wouldn't. He eyed the nails stacked in the corner from some long-abandoned project of the younger Harry, but his hand, previously reaching out, curled back at the thought of the pain. He'd been in such pain at the end, before, and now… He uncurled his fingers again in horrified wonder, and they moved smoothly, no trace of the arthritic stiffness that had gripped them in his final moments. It was, he paused, forming a fist, shamefully harder to put himself back in the clutches of that kind of pain than he thought.
Wouldn't I do anything for my children? He asked himself, his teeth gritting.
...Aren't they already gone? Some Slytherin impulse reminded him caustically, but Harry shook his head. He would die here and now. Maybe… His eyes darted from the nails to the door. Maybe not the nails. But he would not continue whatever farce the Powers wanted of him, not when they had stolen his family. With that idea planted firmly in his mind, he wiped the hot tear tracks that had formed unnoticed on his cheeks and pushed open his door, crawling out of the cupboard with grim resolve. He needed something that would finish the job for him and he stalked out of the house, ignoring Petunia's shouted explanation to Vernon of why she needed him to get up and check on the freak. Shoved past his own fear, he waited, brimming with a storm that didn't touch his calmly determined expression, at the side of the road. This was rather selfish, he knew, as he shifted forward and back on the balls of his feet, hands behind his back, on the very edge of the curb. But, as far as he was concerned, with the emotions of a century broiling in the brain of a child, this entire universe was complicit in the loss… No, the annihilation of his children. A car turned the corner and sped down the usually quiet, lonely side street. Past the windscreen, an obviously occupied man spoke intently into a clunky mobile car phone, and he appeared to be alone. No wife in the passenger seat to scream, no children in the back to traumatize. Good, Harry nodded in hot, furious satisfaction that pulsed through his veins with such force that he stepped forward, Even the man won't witness it.
However, perhaps catching the movement or maybe simply returning his eyes to the road, the businessman with the clunky phone looked up and swore, foot smashing the brake to the car floor with eyes locked on the messy-haired boy in his pyjamas with closed eyes and open arms ahead of him. A second too late, he remembered to turn the steering wheel away, that the brakes wouldn't save the scrawny creature that had stepped into his path, but all his recall resulted in was the headlight, in place of the grill, smashing into the boy's middle with a sick thunk and crack that wound into the man's stopped heart. Even when the car stopped and his most vital organ roared back to life with a frantic, pulsing beat, the sound of that collision was trapped in its chambers, and echoed with every pulse.
Harry barely heard the car door slam, nor felt the man's hands on his shoulders but for the added pain. He, did, however, hear the man's sobbing apology, his cry for some mystery figure to call 999, and his failing heart had time for one last pang of guilt. When Harry drew in breath, the man held his, wanting to hear and remember whatever accusations the boy threw his way as penance. The words that sailed out on what seemed a last breath were not what he expected yet all Harry could think of to ease the pain of the one who had accidentally helped him try and route the Powers.
"Thank you," whistled the boy, and the man paused, shouted again for an ambulance, and received a response from some neighbour or another, before he bent in.
"Don't thank me," he croaked, tears still falling hard and heavy, "Because I will not let you die."
Harry didn't hear. Everything had gone black.
Damn it; not this again.
"I told you, Mr. Potter. We're not taking you yet."
So you're just erasing my entire life, instead? Taking my children out of existence because you aren't bloody ready!
"Mr. Potter," the voice was affronted, now, eh? Fat lot of right it had to take offence, now, "We simply put you in a nearby track for temporary storage."
And what am I supposed to learn from that?
"Your children are safe."
The fury that made up what was left of Harry faltered, …What?
"Different world, Mr. Potter. We merged your soul with what was left of a soul in this one. You're a whole new person in a whole new timeline. Ah," A tone chimed, "Time's up. Back you go."
Wait, listen to me-
"You won't hear from me again until it is really your time, Mr. Potter. So I'd cease this foolish nonsense, if I were you. We'll only restore the body if you continue to break it."
"Goodbye, Mr. Potter."
When he opened his eyes again, his lungs were burning and he sat up off the tarred road and gravel poking into his back with a sudden gasp for air. The man he'd seen was hovering over him, and Harry actually registered the man's appearance now that his vision wasn't foggy with rage and pain. Grey-blue eyes met his in astonished panic, set in a face not yet beaten with time, but worn by it. Dark brown hair combed and held back with gel had partially escaped its confines; combined with the ruffled suit and bloodied hands and cuffs, it lent the air of a crazed person to the man.
"Where did- You- You've stopped bleeding," He stammered to the young boy staring up at him with strange, green eyes.
Harry looked down, touched his chest and stomach, and murmured with a bitter grimace, "So I have." His mind raced as fingers traced the unbroken skin; obviously, the Powers had restored his body to a point where it could sustain life. Like he was a frog that smashed itself against the wall until his terrarium moved and fell, they'd repaired his container and shoved him back in. "Bloody fuckers."
Taken aback by the miraculous recovery of his victim and his following language, the older man, at least in appearance, pushed back from his seated position and knelt, both to hail down the ambulance and to subconsciously distance himself from whatever eldritch occurrence had passed on that spot. "Well, I can see the ambulance now, so um… Don't worry?"
"I think I'll be fine without it, actually," Harry corrected with a slight downturn of dismay tugging at his words. Fingers and toes wiggled, neck turned, spine bent, knees moved. Everything appeared in full working order. Rolling back a bit, Harry hopped to his feet, ignoring the man's sudden, feeble protest, and shifted from foot to foot to check his balance. My children are alive. The thought gurgled up in him like golden champagne bubbles and he couldn't help a manic giggle, the adrenaline from his sudden death apparently not eliminated from his body at the reset the Powers had put it through. This is temporary, and I will see them again. They'd said it was just storage, after all, and he'd be moving on when they were ready for him. Harry was ready right now, of course. Who knew how much time had passed in his home 'track' or whatever the voice had called it. He wanted to see his wife and friends again, to hear Sirius's bark-like laugh and see his mother's face for the first time in his own, true memory. He wanted to be waiting for his children when they came.
Briefly, Harry pondered stepping in front of the police car when it came, but decided not enough time would have passed for whatever the Powers were waiting on. With a shrug, he resigned himself to checking sporadically as he went about this life. That 'checking' essentially meant repeated suicide attempts did not bring Harry down from the adrenaline high that flooded his tiny, too-young body. And in the meantime- Harry jumped once, just to see if he could, and stifled another manic giggle- he might as well enjoy the freedom of movement this youthful body had. Catching the elder man's horrified, wide eyes, Harry paused in his semi-celebration and gave him an apologetic tone, "Must've only nipped me in the side. Sorry for being so dramatic."
"Nipped you?" The man repeated, obviously in shock.
"Yeah, you only just sideswiped me, but I hit my head summat fierce, and that's where all the blood and the passing out came from," Harry continued with innocent emphasis, trying to drive the new state of events into the man's mind before he could come to his senses. He ran a hand through his hair, in case he needed to leave some blood there, but it was already thick with the stuff and he pushed his hand into his pocket. It would be more boring than just reliving his life if he was trapped in a hospital being poked and prodded while they tried to figure out his inexplicable recovery. Better to try and rewrite the events now. Granted, his front was still bloody with a torn jumper and he needed an explanation for that. Wincing at the idea that formed, he hesitated and threw himself down across the road, hard enough to scrape his belly, and the businessman let out an alarmed cry.
"What are you doing to yourself?" He gripped Harry's arm and dragged the boy up to his feet with the strength of panic, "Why would you-"
Harry shot him a hard stare from his days working as a consultant with the Aurors and was abstractly pleased that it retained its power to shut a man up even in his reduced state, "Look. You're going to say it happened like I said, alright? I stepped out and you swerved and only got me in the side."
"I heard you hit," He hissed, holding his palms away from him as if the skin on them was aflame, "I've got your blood on my hands!"
"Look it's that, or I say that afterwards, you felt up some highly inappropriate places while you were checking me over," Harry warned, finally feeling the adrenaline begin to fade and falling into the stick-or-carrot persuasion he typically used with suspects. It didn't make him feel like a splendid example of the morality of mankind, but it might keep him out of hospital and the man out of jail. The man was obviously uneasy, shifting from one foot to the other like he wanted to run, and Harry knew he had him. The hard glint of a dagger shone from smiling eyes, "Deal?"
After looking one way, then another, and finally directing his gaze upwards for guidance or
protection, the man's eyes fell heavy with guilt to his shoes, "Fine. Deal, you- whatever you are."
A sharp grin at his discomfort, "Is this the start of a beautiful friendship?"
"No. Just… No."
"I'll definitely look both ways before crossing the street, again, Officers!" Harry smiled, waving them off before he headed back into his aunt's house. He'd thrown them with his 'normal' behaviour.
Petunia's metronome was slower now, calmer, as she walked across the kitchen floor, making breakfast. The creak of the door and its subsequent, soft thft as it shut perked her overused ears, typically functioning as gossip-detectors, and she turned, a scathing sentence on her lips about Harry's behaviour that morning as she did. He was acting so differently from the usual and she wondered briefly if something had happened to him, but dismissed the thought. Those nasty words, however, shrivelled on her tongue at the sight that greeted her, and her mouth opened to let them drop unspoken to the floor, for their taste had turned sour.
"Hey, Aunt Petunia!" Blood dripped from two of Harry's fingers, and positively coated one half of his face as if his skull had opened and all the blood in his body, ignoring reality's biological cues, had flowed down the side of his head. "I never knew head wounds bled so much," Lie, Harry berated himself cheerfully, continuing, "Did you?"
"You're… Not dying…" The words were choked, too hugely against her usual point of view to make it up her thin throat unstrained, "Are you?"
Her painful attempt at concern was waved off, "I'm fine." Harry gave a bloody grin.
Petunia held up one shaking finger, "Shower," then another, "Mop."
"On it, Aunt Petunia."
He could hear the Dursleys arguing through the hissing of the showerhead, and the showerhead seemed a little less angry. Would the old headmaster come and rectify the situation if Harry was thrown out? Or if he simply left? Mrs. Figg still lived on the corner of the block, so he assumed Hogwarts was keeping an eye on his activities- she'd been drawn out onto her front lawn by the sirens. Hopefully, that little car incident would be chalked up to accidental magic saving his life.
It was looking to be very boring on Privet Drive. Harry glanced at the water pooling in the shower bottom, but decided the Powers would take a bit longer to let him move on. A shout from Vernon was shushed by Petunia and gradually the heated discussion subsided into uneasy silence. Turning the water off, Harry stepped out of the shower and into the starts of a dastardly plan. He'd never really gotten much closure with the Dursleys. All right, they'd changed in the end, he supposed, and he'd never seen them since that last fateful farewell, but… They had neglected him his entire childhood and here, here were his past self's tormenters sitting all in one house, still deep in the midst of a foggy hatred towards his own person, and here he was, ready to die and trapped by some unknown Powers in their residence. Why not be a little less bored?
Having exited the bathroom with a large towel wrapped around him, he felt as tiny and mischievous as ever. This body had little control of its magic but- and here Harry pushed inward, felt an answering push in return, and grinned- it was still there. If he wanted to channel it, he had to use something familiar to the body and magic he currently had possession of.
Maybe… Shuffling, still in his towel, to the spare room's closed window, Harry reached out for the latch. "I once had a little bird, and its name was Enza. I opened up the window," The latch thrown, Harry slid the pane open with all the seriousness he could muster, "And in-flew-Enza." For a second he held his breath, waiting for a sign, some spark to show his off-the-cuff idea had some effect. Disappointment had already coiled in his chest, and his Common Sense had been about to take him down a peg or two, when birdsong issued from the open window. A smoky, ethereal thrush flew in, and dissipated in wisps of cool blue smoke that spread through the walls and out the door of the little room, supposedly filling the whole house. The coil eased and Harry grinned, turning to retreat to his cupboard so as to change and mop as Petunia had requested; the Dursleys would not be having an easy week.
Actually, the Dursleys did not have an easy year. Harry found nursery rhymes to be rather effective in channeling the comparatively tiny magical reserves he had in this body. One of his favourite moments with the Dursleys this year had been baking a pie while singing, "Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye, four-and-twenty blackbirds baked in a pie…" and being thenceforth banned from ever participating in any food-related task ever again. The sour-lemon look on Petunia's face when twenty-four, singing blackbirds had sprung from the first cut in what had been meant to be a normal meat pie… Harry didn't think he'd tried so hard not to laugh in his life. But lately…
Harry sighed and squashed one of his many spider companions, not bothering even to sit up from where he was lying belly-down on the floor; lately, the Dursleys had grown boring. Instead of flying into a rage, or growing pale with fear, their new approach to any of Harry's mischiefs had been to ignore. Aunt Petunia had been carrying around some self-help book recently about dealing with trouble children and Vernon simply had a flash of puce in his cheeks before he went about his business. Even Dudley had abandoned him. No longer would he chase after Harry with purple ears, his fat flapping wildly and only increasing his ire- no. Now, Dudley seemed to have gained some sort of unholy patience from Harry's continuous attacks. He would raise one calm, untroubled eyebrow when his food burst into rainbow colors and carry on stuffing his fat gob.
Harry perked up; maybe he'd reformed them. He'd forced the Dursleys to grow self-restraint years ahead of schedule! Eh, but… Why bother? Now he had no one to torment. Nothing to do. Except… Harry wracked the ten-year old brain that his over-a-century-old self was trapped in for the date and came up with July thirtieth. Pushing up excitedly with his scrawny arms, he miscalculated and clocked himself one against the ceiling.
Holding the newest bleeding wound, Harry grinned manically to himself. He'd be going to Hogwarts, soon! A whole new ground to play on and whole new ways to stay dead meant he might not be so dreadfully, nail-pullingly bored.
Drowning, he'd discovered, didn't work simply due to his own magic- his own magic- betraying him by making him extra buoyant once he lost conscious control of it. Fire had been an interesting experience, and the firemen had been baffled to find him naked in the ashes of the grocery an hour or so after a perimeter had been set up to keep reporters and bystanders away from the wreck. Not something he'd do again. He'd 'died' twice under the same train since he'd been pushed back into the realm of the living while the train was still passing overhead. All in all, he'd mostly just discovered that he still didn't like pain, and the powers-that-be were still not ready for him.
They also seemed unconcerned as to the damage he could do mucking about in this world.
Harry had been visited repeatedly by the man who'd run him down, one Garrett Davidson, who was, Harry had learned, a middle class businessman of no real standing without family, friend, or casual acquaintance, and an odd obsession with rock-breaking that he classified as only a hobby. The poor man was traumatised, and felt some masochistic obligation to "check up" on Harry once or twice a week, apologizing profusely until Harry had enough of it and threatened or distracted him into changing the subject.
"You are not," Garrett had said once, after a particularly graphic description of a dark wizard hunting Harry had gone through, disguised as 'some dream he'd had,' "A real child."
In response, Harry, who'd been hoping Garrett would show some interestingly disgusted or horrified expression from his tale, let his feet lie still for a moment at the seeming non sequitur. Since the 'elder' man had been following the capricious child's lead in their walk, he stopped as well, and Harry turned curiously to face him, "Why do you say that?" Taken aback, and obviously tongue-tied, the slate-eyed man had stammered without really offering an explanation until Harry grew bored and changed the topic.
Perhaps he could be used as a surrogate "guardian" in this upcoming trip.
It all hinged on whether or not Hagrid had ever seen Vernon before, really.
Come to think of it, he hadn't gotten a single letter, yet, and here it was, day before his eleventh birthday. Harry seemed to remember being practically bombarded with the things, and yet, not a peep. Would Hagrid even be the one to show up? Would anyone show up?
Harry, who had been absently scratching about his latest wound, pulled his hand from his hair to stroke a bloody goatee on his chin in thought. He hadn't contemplated that he simply may not be invited to Hogwarts in this world. Since he had the same name, same family situation, and the same magic- so far as he remembered- from his own timeline around age eleven, Harry had assumed that the school would have his name already. Although, his scar was missing. Perhaps he wasn't famous enough to hound like in his previous existence. He could, potentially, sign himself up. He'd put his children's names in as soon as they showed signs of accidental magic- none of that "from birth" shite he'd seen some parents do. Whenever a Squib showed up, the disappointment had been twice as crushing for the poor child. Luckily, only James had been born even near squib levels, and he'd more than made up for his weak spellwork with his Potions and flying skills. He'd been a racer, professional and sponsored by his cousin Victoire's broommaking company in his later years.
Shaking his head, Harry brought his mind back to the immediate problem: he'd rather prefer messing about at Hogwarts to the Dursleys' or another wizarding school. He could give them until tomorrow before he hijacked Vernon's car and paid a visit to Diagon Alley so as to procure the services of a post owl. Or perhaps he would try some doggerel and befuddle a local bird into obedience. It could only land him in the Juvenile Misuse of Magic Office if it failed. Granted, Harry was fairly certain that so long as he did magic somewhere other than his own house, without his wand, he'd be relatively safe. There were only two Traces, after all, one on the wand, and one on the place of residence, and only after one's eleventh birthday. Harry spent much less time in his 'place of residence' than he supposed the Dursleys or the Ministry suspected. Speaking of...
"Bat, bat, come under my hat," he cooed, not bothering with the inanity of the rest of the rhyme, as the first line was sufficient for his devices. He found using nursery rhymes tended to create some physical manifestation of the spell related to the words used, so he was not surprised when an ethereal bat swooped in and nested in his hair. It wasn't fancy, nor a streamlined use of magic, but what mattered was that it got the job done. Now Harry could hear nearly every movement in and a bit around the house while he was holding onto this spell. His cousin was snoring deeply, and his uncle and aunt had doubled, slow breathing almost in sync with one another, like an echo emanating from their room. Easing the latch open with some good old-fashioned leverage (he'd known those nails would have a better use), Harry scrambled through the thin opening he allowed himself, knowing the door would creak if he pushed it further. For once, his nighttime excursions would have a purpose other than destroying the Dursleys' peace of mind or wandering about the neighborhood unaccompanied. So, although he wouldn't bother coming back the next morning, he didn't quite want to get caught on the way out. If he did, he would use magical force to get past them, and he didn't have a great grasp on 'not causing pain' with that sort of thing so far.
He wasn't so frustrated, yet, that he'd abandoned all morals.
Either way, Harry was out of there like a bat outta hell. "A bat," he giggled under his breath, petting the semi-tangible apparition clinging to his hair, even as he left the front door ajar behind him. It was Privet Drive, for gods' sakes. Highly unlikely to be visited by mass murder, hardened felon, or ne'er-do-well. Still, wouldn't that be a sight if the Dursleys came downstairs to a dirty, bloodied con sitting in their kitchen, eating breakfast on their spotless counter? The bum in his head raised a hand in greeting to the imaginary Dursleys, "Top o'the morning, guv'nor."
It was highly inappropriate to giggle into his hands as he snuck off to his dastardly deeds, but Harry supposed if he'd been the kind of old man who shocked dignified people with a giggle or three, he could afford to be a little boy who giggled now and again. The more giggling, the less boredom, the better for the people of this world.
Unfortunately, he did get bored that night. See, he'd used a bit of doggerel verse to mock up a point-me spell and made his way through the streets of Surrey until he found what he assumed was the home of dear Garrett Davidson. It was strangely comfortable being around the man. For Harry, anyway. He reminded him quite a bit of his son, James. They both had that awkward social life thing going on and that dark hair. It was after jimmying the lock open on Garrett's back door through trial and error and snooping around the man's parlor and rock collections that he began to grow bored- impatient of waiting for the morning and tapping his fingers agitatedly against his knee. Which led to Garrett's little surprise in the morning. The poor man, entirely unaware of what was going on downstairs, had actually woken up in a rather good mood, stretching contentedly before he rolled out of bed in his nightclothes and stumbled downstairs, humming to himself. It was a beautiful summer morning, after all. The birds were singing, the sun was shining, there was a lovely smell wafting up from the kitchen...
Garrett ran into the kitchen, stopping dead in the doorway at the sight before him. Humming the song he'd had in his head just a moment ago was the little possessed child he'd made a tentative connection with out of guilt. Now the messy-haired boy was wandering about his kitchen, beans on the stovetop and the remains of some animal on a cutting board as well as some toast on a plate. Harry turned with a few specks of blood still on his cheek, and smiled, holding up another white platter, "Sausage, Garrett?"
While Garrett was still in shock, Harry shooed the man to the small, two-person table he had in his cramped kitchen and put a plate stacked with beans, sausage and toast in front of him as well as a fork and knife, then busied himself cleaning up the blood, bones, and fur still mangled on the cutting board.
Garrett looked down at the contents of his plate and over at the cutting board alternately. Was whatever Harry had evidently gutted the main ingredient for the sausages on his plate now? He didn't remember having any meat in the coldbox, nor making any plans with the local grocer to bring some by. Actually, there was something even more important he was overlooking. "Harry," his tone was calm, his tone was calm, dammit, "What are you doing here?"
Harry positively beamed, putting the newly-clean cutting board out to dry and bringing his own plate to the table to sit across from the confused businessman, "Well. Today is a very special day." His eyes sparkled as he leaned slightly forward, "Can you guess why?"
"You've graduated primary school," Garrett deadpanned, not touching the food in front of him even as Harry picked up his own fork and began to dig in enthusiastically.
After a bite of sausage, Harry closed his eyes momentarily. He sighed and surveyed his fork fondly, "Food tastes so much better when you catch it yourself."
"What is it, anyway?" Garrett asked. He really would like to know how deeply he'd have to clean his plates afterward. He hoped it wasn't his neighbor's cat, because no matter how sincerely he hated the yowling bastard, his neighbor was a perky brunette with the biggest blue eyes he'd ever seen. Although, size-wise, Harry was currently beating her with the wideness of his eyes at Garrett's question.
He put his fork down and reached across the table, taking Garrett's hand in his undersized fingers. "They're called sausages," he told the taller man in a whisper. He couldn't hold a straight face at the other man's disgruntlement, though, and laughed, "Sorry. Sorry, it's just rabbit."
"You... Caught a rabbit last night."
"I cooked it really well. It's safe." The 'Look of Innocence' aimed in Garrett's direction had felled better men and had been perfected over a century of practice; incidentally it worked just as well, if differently, on the face of a young child as an old man. Harry added in a slightly trembling lower lip. "You... Won't try my cooking? I worked so... Hard..." When Garrett's face went dark with defeat and he took a tense bite, Harry broke out in a grin and stood up on his chair to pat the elder man's head, "That's my boy." Sitting back down, he took a calm bite of eggs before continuing, "You're wrong, you know. It's not time to graduate from primary. It's my birthday." Garrett dropped his stony face and looked up, Harry stabbing a sausage before elaborating, "I didn't want to spend it with the Dursleys this year. I can't spend it with my family because they're all gone." Some of their doppelgangers here don't even know I exist yet. "So I decided to come spend it with you. You see... Somewhere along the way, I think I saw something of a kindred soul in you." Despite Garrett's absorption in the tale, he couldn't help a mental shiver at the idea of being kindred with such a deranged boy, even if he had seen some hints of kindness in the child. He didn't quite see how they were similar and waited for some sort of explanation. "Because we're both so alone," Ah, "and because you remind me of family." Here, Harry lost the gravity he'd exuded during his little speech and grinned, patting Garrett's cheek, "You're like a son to me."
"Like a son to me," the sentence echoed in Garrett's mind as he put his head in his hands and closed his eyes. He couldn't even be inspiring to a primary schooler. ...Wait, how old was Harry? "It's your birthday?" He asked, coming out of his haze of self-pity as Harry contentedly munched on his toast.
"This body has been on this planet eleven years today," Harry confirmed, not bothering to swallow the bite of toast he'd only half-chewed as he responded and still with that bit of rabbit blood on his cheek.
"Honestly," Garrett sighed, and grabbed a napkin, wiping off the blood with a quick motion that froze Harry in his tracks, "And swallow before you speak. We don't want to see your food."
Hermione had done the same thing to Ron and him once. Twice. Often. And after she passed away, James had taken up her duty, running after his surprisingly spry elder patriarchs and pounding table manners into their wizened skulls only to sigh in despair as it leaked out the other side. Garrett was looking at him uncomfortably now, and Harry was surprised to note there were tears gathering in his own eyes. Quickly, Harry blinked them away before they could fall, "Could I borrow some rope?"
Garrett had been surprisingly compliant, obviously unable to deal with crying children well and unable to comprehend what Harry could possibly want with rope. He'd followed Harry like a concerned puppy as Harry made his way to the nearest park, despite Harry smiling and telling him to go home. An exasperated huff; Harry didn't exactly want Garrett to have to witness this, whether it worked or not. He wasn't worried about Garrett telling anyone if it didn't; he still had plenty of blackmail opportunity from all the times Garrett had walked alone with him. He didn't like ruining people's lives, but he knew just the threat of it would keep Garrett quiet. No, the problem was that if it worked, Garrett would look slightly like a murder suspect.
"Rabbit trap," Harry explained when Garrett gave his knots a funny look. Either Garrett was overly trusting or he didn't recognize a noose when he saw one, since Harry easily climbed the tree with noose in hand and it was only when he fixed the loop around his own neck that Garrett got it.
"No," Garrett's eyes widened, his hands coming out of his pockets in a placating gesture, "You don't have to do this." He hadn't imagined there was anyone who could just set up their own suicide in front of a near-stranger. Which was obviously what Harry was counting on when he fed me that rabbit trap bollocks, Garrett berated himself.
"Just get out of the park for a while," Harry replied, sitting cross-legged on the joining of two medium-sized branches somewhat high up the tree and tightening the noose a bit more, "If it doesn't work, I'll find you and explain." He flashed a pocket knife, "I've got this if I need to cut myself down." All perfectly logical preparation, because it would suck to just sit there and die over and over again until the Powers took him. If it didn't work the first time, Harry tended to cut himself free. He stood and stepped a bit forward, "I'm warning you to get out now if you don't want to look like you set up a fake suicide."
"Why are you doing this?" Garrett asked, pleading now and trying to move surreptitiously toward where Harry had tied the other end of the noose near the ground.
Harry gave him a soft smile, "I miss them." The next second he stepped off the branch and Garrett ran for the other end of the rope, but not quite in time. Harry's neck snapped with a loud crack and the rope jumped before Garrett could untie the other end. Instead of saving Harry, he just released his corpse into gravity's pull, the body hitting the ground with a quieter thump than the crack from earlier.
He ran over to the boy, hoping the noise had been a figment of his imagination, and breathed, "Oh, god, Harry," when he saw how the neck was already bruising and at such an odd angle. Gingerly, he put his fingers at the pulse point just a bit under Harry's jaw in the vain hope that there might yet be a flutter of life.
Garrett felt his eyes begin to burn, and he blinked rather desperately. Suddenly, another crack and Harry's head realigned just before the body sat up with a violent gasp, knocking Garrett in the forehead and onto his back. He scrambled back up to his feet and stared, mouth agape as Harry shook his head like a dog shaking off rainwater.
Looking down at his still-tiny limbs, Harry whined pathetically and lay back down, "Dammit." The boy just lay there for such a long minute that Garrett creeped warily back to his side, and when his shaggy-haired bedhead eased back into Harry's vision, the boy wiggled his fingers. "Boo." Jumping back, and stumbling twice before he could regain his feet, Garrett put one hand on his heart.
"What are you?"
A pause, "Just Harry."