I do not own Harry Potter or The Walking Dead
I have no idea where I'm going with this fic. After watching all seasons of The Walking Dead, my muse wouldn't leave me alone. As much as I didn't want another fic to worry about, I had to get this written down so my muse would let me continue on with my other fics. This fic won't be a priority so updates will be sporadic.
Please review and let me know what you think.
"Dammit," Harry cursed landing hard on his hands and knees. Groaning, he rolled over and sat on his butt, inspecting his scraped up and bloody palms. Wiping the sweat from his face with the back of his hand, he got up and continued walking. He had been walking these woods for four hours, sweating and completely lost. He knew that there was no hope of his relatives sending out a search party so it was entirely up to him to find his way back to the cabin.
So maybe it hadn't been the smartest idea wondering off alone in the woods in an unknown town and country, but he had been left alone again in their cabin and he was bored. He had only planned on walking around for an hour then getting back and preparing dinner. He was so going to get it when his family returned and there was no dinner waiting for them on the table. They had gone sightseeing, and just like back at home in England, they had left him a list of chores as long as his arm.
Looking up at the darkening sky, Harry tried to convince himself that he wasn't scared. If he would have had his wand he could have used a simple point me spell, but his uncle had not only locked it up when he returned home from school for the summer, but he made him leave it behind in Surrey. Now here he was, lost in the woods and swamps of Georgia praying that he didn't meet a hungry alligator.
Stopping, he rested his back against a large tree. He was not only exhausted from his journey through the woods, but he hadn't had a proper meal since he had left Hogwarts. He was shocked when two days into his summer vacation his uncle had packed them up and boarded a plane for America. It seemed that he had won a contest at work, a month in America... Georgia to be exact. Dudley wasn't happy about going to Georgia, but uncle Vernon and aunt Petunia had promised him a week at Disney World when their time in Georgia was up. He loved the beautiful cabin that they were in that was surrounded by woods, but aunt Petunia hated it. She wanted to pampered in a five star hotel complete with room service and a masseuse, but he loved the rustic cabin and all it's wildlife. He would have loved to have gone sightseeing, but his family despised him and only brought him along in the first place because they couldn't find anyone that would take him in for a month and uncle Vernon was scared that he would destroy their house.
Harry wasn't complaining though, he loved it here in Georgia. Granted all he had seen since leaving the airport was the cabin and the woods, but they strangely felt like home to him. Here he was far away from the pressure and expectations of the wizarding world. Here he could just be Harry and not The-Boy-Who-Lived. He was happy for the chance to get away for a while before he had to return to the wizarding world and be their savior once again. He knew that despite him defeating Voldemort at the Ministry of Magic and saving his godfather, that they would never leave him alone. They were always going to want something from him, or love him one minute then call him the next dark lord the next minute. If he could, he would just stay here.
Harry chuckled to himself, if he couldn't find his way out of these woods, he wouldn't have to worry about returning to the wizarding world. He would greatly miss his godfathers, Sirius and Remus, though he was a little upset with them for allowing him to be sent back to the Dursley's after the ministry incident. He understood that they had a lot to do with getting Sirius' name cleared and Grimmauld Place livable, but it wasn't as if he was a toddler that needed constant supervision. They promised to pick him up on his sixteenth birthday, but he was still upset. He never told them exactly how his relatives treated him, but they knew that he wasn't happy there and that they hated him. He wasn't going to beg them to take him in, they either wanted him or they didn't. He had planned on leaving the wizarding world anyway right after graduation. He planned on making a new life for himself one where he could forget all the horrible things that he had done all in the name of the 'greater good'. Maybe he would return to Georgia and live in a small cabin in the woods.
Looking back up at the increasingly darkening sky, Harry pushed himself off of the tree and stepped out from behind it. If he couldn't find his way back soon, he was going to have to find shelter before it got dark. Taking a step forward, he fell to his knees with a cry when something whizzed past his face, painfully grazing his cheek.
"You fucking idiot!"
Pulling his hand away from his cheek, Harry cringed when he saw that it was covered in his blood. He didn't have time to wrap his head around what had just happened before a pair of hands were roughly hauling him up and slamming him against a tree.
"Are you trying to get yourself killed?"
Fingers painfully grabbed his chin and shoved his head roughly to the side. "Just a fucking scratch." Before he could say anything the mystery person let him go and he fell back to the ground. "Lucky I didn't put the arrow between your stupid eyes."
Groaning, Harry struggled to his feet just in time to see a man carrying a crossbow storm past him. "Wait," he called out, but the man kept walking. "Wait," he yelled again, tripping over a log and falling to the ground again. "I'm lost," he called brokenly, rolling onto his back and panting. Struggling back to his feet, he looked around for the man, but he was gone.
Sniffing back his tears, Harry tore a strip off of his shirt and pressed it to his cut cheek. He wasn't positive, but it seemed like the man's arrow had grazed his cheek. Walking to the small creek, Harry collapsed at the bank and dipped the bloodied cloth into the water then pressed it back to his bleeding cheek. For the first time he could ever remember, he just wanted to get back to his aunt and uncle. He was tired, starving, bruised, scratched up and now had a nasty, painful cut on his cheek. Then again, his uncle was only going to add to his aches and pains when he returned to the cabin.
"Are you trying to attract gators?"
Snapping his head up, Harry was relieved to see the man with the crossbow. "You shot me?" he accused.
"Could have been worse," the man grunted.
The man, probably in his early thirties, stood about five feet ten was wearing a black sleeveless shirt, tight dark jeans, had light brown hair that brushed the nape of his neck and fell into his eyes. He was very muscular with a strong face that was in need of a shaving. The man carried a crossbow on his shoulder and extra arrows on his back. Harry could tell that the man spent a lot of time in the woods from his dirty, scruffy appearance.
Getting to his feet, Harry swayed a little as his head spun. "I'm lost," he said again, praying that this mountain man would help him.
"No shit," the man grumbled, turning around and walking off.
"Wait!" Harry called, stumbling off after the man. "Can you please help me?"
The man didn't say anything, but he did slow down to let Harry catch up to him. "My name's Harry, Harry Potter," Harry said, holding his hand out for the man to shake. The man didn't answer him or shake his hand, just continued walking on.
Daryl subtly checked out the kid out of the corner of his eyes. The kid was way too thin, too pale and looked like he was about to collapse at any moment. He had raven hair that came to just below his shoulders, emerald green eyes and a strange lightning bolt scar on his forehead. It was hard to guess his age because the kid was so short and petite, but he guessed him to be around fourteen or fifteen years old...though he barely looked thirteen. The kid was obviously not from around here, not with that accent. He also looked poor, he was wearing handy down clothes that looked like they had belonged to a child ten times bigger than him.
He had almost died when the kid stepped out from behind the tree a half a second after he fired his arrow. If the kid would have taken just a tiny bit bigger of a step, then arrow would have went right through his temple, killing him almost instantly. He had never been more relieved then when he saw that the arrow had only grazed the boy's cheek. Yes the cut was nasty and could probably use a stitching, but at least he was still breathing. He was so pissed that he stormed off despite the boy calling out to him for help. He didn't get far before his conscience got the better of him and he turned back around to find the boy. He wasn't a nice person, quite the opposite actually, but he couldn't walk away knowing that there was a hurt and scared kid lost in the woods.
Harry had to practically jog to keep up with the strange man. The man didn't give his name or say anything and he was praying that he was helping him and not leading him off somewhere to kill him. "Yeah, I'm staying in a cabin with my relatives right at the edge of the woods. I'm sorry that I don't know the address or anything. My uncle won a trip, you see. Do... Do you know where it's at?"
Daryl grunted and continued walking. He knew exactly where the cabin was, he had spotted the largest man that he had ever seen walking out of it yesterday morning.
Harry tried to keep up with the stranger, but after an hour of brisk walking, he was severely lagging behind. He had only had a half of ham sandwich and some stolen bacon in the last four days. His hands were trembling uncontrollably, he felt sick to his stomach and he knew that he was close to passing out. He was thankful that it was now dark and the man couldn't see his condition.
Daryl knew that the boy wasn't going to make it another half a mile without food and rest. He honestly didn't know how he kid had made it this far. The cabin was at least another two miles away and there was no way that the kid was going to make it. Spotting clearing, he placed his bow against a tree and started making a fire.
"What's going on?" Harry asked when he finally caught up. The man had started a fire and was laying out a dead squirrel and rabbit on a large rock.
"Rest," Daryl grumbled. Taking a large knife, he started skinning and gutting his kill. It wasn't much, but it would be enough to feed the small boy and give him the strength to make it home.
Gratefully, Harry collapsed next to the fire and rested his head against a tree. He was almost asleep when he felt someone kick his foot. Moaning, he opened up his eyes and saw the man standing over him holding out a cup. With a tired smile, he took the offered beverage and brought it to his nose for a sniff. He was relieved to find that it was coffee...strong, hot and black coffee.
"Thank you," Harry said softly, bringing the cup to his lips and taking a careful sip. This was the first beverage, other than water, that he has had since the flight attendant brought him a coke despite his uncle telling her that he didn't need one. Normally he had to sneak water out of the bathroom sink.
Retaking his seat across the fire, Daryl watched as the boy's trembling hands held the cup of coffee. He liked that the boy wasn't constantly talking and asking questions. He hated people that talked a lot, he preferred the quiet.
Harry's stomach grumbled loudly when the smell of cooking meat hit his nose. Looking at the fire, he noticed that the rabbit and squirrel had been placed on sticks and were roasting over the flickering flames. The thought of eating squirrel turned his stomach a bit, but he was so hungry that he could easily eat the sticks that the animals were cooking on.
Daryl didn't miss how the boy was hungrily eyeing the food or how his stomach grumbled loudly. He wondered how long it had been since the boy was given a decent meal. He had a feeling that everything wasn't right with the boy's home life. The boy reminded him of himself at that age. His father had been an abusive drunk and he recognized the signs of abuse. Judging by the boy's uncle's size, they had more than enough money for food.
Harry couldn't hide the shock on his face when the man handed him a plate of meat. He didn't miss that his plate had considerably more meat than the man's. "I-I can't take this," he objected despite his stomach protesting rather loudly. "This is your food."
"Eat," Daryl mumbled, stuffing a piece of squirrel meat into his mouth. It made him uncomfortable to see a child so grateful over a piece of lousy squirrel meat.
Harry didn't need to be told twice, trying to remember his manners, he started stuffing the perfectly cooked meat into his mouth. The meat probably was disgusting, but he was so hungry, that it was the best tasting meat that he had ever eaten. It didn't take long before the plate was clean and he was licking and sucking the juices off of his fingers. He could have easily eaten five more squirrels, but he was more than happy with what the man had given him. It was the most food that he had eaten since school let out.
"I can't believe that I just ate squirrel," Harry chuckled, already feeling much better with food in his stomach. "Thank you so much," he said gratefully.
"Rest, we still have a few miles to go."
Nodding his head, Harry closed his eyes and quickly drifted off to sleep. He didn't understand why he felt comfortable around a stranger that he didn't even know the name of, but for some reason he did. His magic felt settled and calm around this man.
Daryl watched as the boy slept. He was only going to give him an hour or two before waking him and continuing on with their journey. He could tell by the dark circles under his eyes that the boy was exhausted. Hopefully after resting and having a full belly, the kid could make it the rest of the way without collapsing. With any luck he could make it back to his brother Merle before midnight. Merle may be a total bastard, but he did worry about him.
Harry laughed in relief when he looked through the tree line and spotted a light in the distance. "I never thought that I would be happy to see my relatives."
Daryl didn't say anything, just stood there next to the small boy looking off towards the cabin. He was surprised how much energy the boy had after just a little food and sleep. It was sad though, it meant that his body was use to sustaining off so little.
Harry turned back to the strange, quiet, hunter man. "Again, thank you. I would have never found my way back without your help."
Nodding his head, Daryl turned and headed back into the woods. Harry had only walked a few feet towards the cabin when the man's voice stopped him. "It's Daryl, Daryl Dixon," Daryl said without turning around or stopping.
Harry smiled at the man's retreating back. "Thank you, Daryl," he called before turning back around and heading towards the cabin. He knew that he wasn't going to get a happy reception from his uncle, but if he was lucky, he would get away with a quick belting and no broken bones.
Gripping the edge of the counter, Harry put the last of the breakfast dishes away. He knew that at least one of his lashes had reopened, he could feel blood trickling down his back.
"You better be here when we get back, boy," Vernon snarled spraying spit into his nephews face. "Dinner better be ready and waiting on the table or tonight's beating will make last nights look like child's play."
"Yes, uncle Vernon," Harry muttered softly. The last thing he wanted to do was anger his uncle even farther. The man had been so pissed last night that he had given him thirty lashes to his back. He was in so much pain, it felt like the skin was melting off of his back.
"No food and no using our showers. You're nothing but a filthy beast so you can use the stream to clean up in," Vernon snapped.
"Yes, uncle Vernon," Harry answered, eyes lowered in submission.
Glaring at his nephew in disgust, Vernon turned and headed out the door, slamming it so hard that the windows rattled.
Harry waited an hour after his family left before grabbing some clean clothes and heading down to the stream. He would have preferred to use the shower, but his uncle had a scary way of knowing when he used the shower, or stole the tiniest crumb of food. He knew that there was no way he could take another beating, not after last night. His uncle had torn his back to shreds, and it had taken him over an hour to clean up all the blood. He just had to make it to his birthday then he planned to never return to the Dursley's, and he didn't care what Dumbledore or anyone else had to say about it. He would be seventeen next year, an adult in the wizarding world's eyes.
Walking down to the small stream, Harry first looked around to make sure no one was around before attempting to gently pull off his shirt. He hissed in pain when the shirt pulled off some of the scabs, reopening the wounds. Normally he would have removed his shirt before falling asleep with a bloody back, but he didn't want to risk staining the nice, crisp, white sheets. Now his shirt was stuck to the scabs and the only way to get it off was to pull on it, tearing the scabs off in the process.
"Soak the shirt first."
Harry spun around so fast that he lost his balance and fell back into the water. Gasping and wiping the water from his eyes, he was surprised when he spotted Daryl standing on the bank with his crossbow slung over his shoulder.
"Squirrel hunting?" Harry asked struggling to get back to his feet. He was trying not to think about Daryl seeing his back. He knew that there was no way that the man didn't see how bloody and torn up it was.
Daryl shrugged his shoulders. "Gotta eat."
Not knowing what to say or do, Harry just stood awkwardly in the knee deep water, soaked and dripping. Despite the hot and humid summer day, the water was freezing and he could feel himself start to shiver.
Daryl had a strong, uncontrollable urge to kill the boy's uncle. His father was an abusive bastard, but even he didn't leave his back as messed up as the boy's uncle left his. He didn't even know how the boy could still be standing, he must be in an incredible amount of pain. Walking to the edge of the bank, he held out his hand to the boy and waited.
Harry looked at the outstretched hand then up at Daryl's face. Daryl was a very hard person to read, he kept his facial expressions closed off and his eyes hidden behind his long bangs. There was something about Daryl though, something that made him feel safe and his magic purr. Taking a deep breath, he reached out and took Daryl's hand.
Daryl could tell that the boy didn't trust easily, and he could see the fear and weariness in his emerald eyes. Underneath the fear though, he could see the desperate aching to have someone help him, someone care for him. Daryl didn't know why he wanted to help the boy, he never cared much about helping others before, but there was something about the boy that drew him in. He couldn't stop thinking about the small boy all night, and that was why he found himself back at the cabin first thing this morning waiting to catch a glimpse of him.
Daryl gently closed his fingers around the much smaller hand and helped pull the kid out of the water. Without releasing the hand, he led him into the woods to where he had set up a small camp earlier that morning. "Sit and turn your back to me."
Trying to hide his shivering from both the cold and his fear, Harry did as Daryl ordered. He had never shown anyone his back, not even in the Quidditch locker room. He always waited to shower back in his dorm where they had separate shower stalls.
"Try to relax," Daryl said softly. Taking a pot of warm water that he had sitting by the fire, he carefully and slowly started to pour it over the boy's back, gently tugging the shirt lose as he went.
Harry tried not to tense, but he couldn't help it. It wasn't that Daryl was hurting him, he just wasn't use to someone helping him, someone touching him in a caring way. He could tell that Daryl was doing his best to not hurt him.
Daryl cringed as the full extent of the damage was revealed to him. The boy's entire back was a patchwork of old and new lash marks. Some of the deeper wounds were already getting infected. "I need to clean these," he said after he was finally able to remove the shirt. "I need to get more water."
Harry watched as Daryl made his way back to the stream to retrieve more water. Looking around the camp, his hungry stomach couldn't help but notice the four squirrels roasting over the fire. A day ago, if asked, he would have said that there was no way in hell that he would eat a squirrel, but now here he was drooling over the strange meat.
Harry gave Daryl a small smile when he retuned with the water and sat down beside him. "Thank you...again," he said nervously.
Grunting, Daryl pulled out a jar with what looked like weeds and dirt in it and placed a heaping full into a bowel, then he took some of the hot water and poured it over it. Taking a stick, he started mixing up the strange concoction.
Harry wrinkled up his nose in disgust. "That stuff reeks."
"Smells like shit," Daryl agreed, "but it will draw out the infection."
"You're going to put that smelly mud on my back?" Harry asked in disbelief.
Daryl didn't say anything, but one corner of his mouth tugged up in a small smile.
"Right," Harry said in disgust, leaning forward so he could get a better look at the nasty goop. After years of potion classes he knew that certain plants and herbs could heal wounds, but that didn't mean that he was eager to put goo on his open wounds that looked and smelled like something dead.
"It won't hurt," Daryl reassured, moving behind the boy. "Just relax."
Harry buried his face in his knees and tried not to gag as Daryl smeared the goop all over his back. The smell was truly putrid, but he could feel the nasty concoction taking the burn and sting away.
"Wait until it's dry before putting a shirt on," Daryl advised. "You can wash it off tonight, and as long as there are no signs of infection, you won't need a second application."
After he washed his hands, Daryl grabbed the squirrels and handed two to the boy. He was disgusted how he could clearly see every rib, hell every bone, sticking out from the boy. Food was something his abusive and alcoholic father never withheld from them. There were times when they didn't have enough, but there was always something in the kitchen to eat.
Harry gratefully took the meat and started eating it. He wasn't able to sneak any food this morning, not under uncle Vernon's watchful eye, so he was starving. "Squirrel, who knew?" Harry giggled, deciding that squirrel actually tasted pretty damn good.
For the first time since meeting him, Daryl laughed.