A Devil In The House
'Sometimes the only way to defeat a monster is to become the bigger monster'
Characters: Harry Potter/Freak
Warnings: [See the prologue]
Questions, threats and vague stalker-ish comments can be left in your reviews, I do respond when I can. Additionally I welcome guesses and theories, it's great fun to see if any of you are close.
An: The response to the prologue was unexpected, thus here is the first official chapter of A Devil in the House.
Ever Yours, Pseu
It seems as though I've forgotten just how far down I can go in an instant
And I can take you there, I can take all my friends and family and I won't care
I have the most reckless heart and I have the most beautiful dark side
Terrified of seeing the beautiful dark side
Left to my own devices the beautiful dark side wins
The Beautiful dark side wins
A Devil In The House - Ch 1
"I'm so sorry."
The little boy carefully cradles the smaller body against him, red shoes crunching in the grass that wasn't cared about as it wasn't in the front where the world could see it. Delicate hands lay the body on the earth within a small grouping of trees and their owner tried desperately not to think about the neighbors cat coming to investigate or any other number of vile beasts that might disturb it. He didn't have anything to bury the body with, he daren't go around the side to the tool shed. There were preparations int he kitchen for guests and he might be shut up in the cupboard if he was seen now and who knew what might happen while he was gone? Knees knelt beside the body and a chest shudders with the fierce need to weep. But Freak hadn't wept in years. His insides hurt, everything hurt and he had no way to let it out of him, so he let it build up instead.
He places his fingers along the side of her head and stroked along smooth scales, remembering the delightfully sarcastic tones of it's owner. But there was nothing there now, it might have been a doll with the cold stillness it had now. Nails broke and cracked, small hands digging into the pile of rocks nearby, gathering them one after the other to cover his friend, to protect her from the birds and the neighbors hideous cat. He covers her until a small mountain replaced her, as safe as he could. It was all he could do for her now. Freak studies his work, feeling just as heavy and jagged as the rocks. Just this morning he had sat in the front garden listening to his friend gossip about the pet snake in the glass at the Odds and Ends shoppe Freak always glanced at but never dared to enter. Apparently the serpent was quite full of himself and she didn't know why she continued to see him. Freak had laughed and began to ask her a question and then there was a solid thud and a heart stopping crack. And she was gone. Murdered by his aunt with a shovel.
Freak opened the back door, stomped the mud from his shoes and made quick work of soap and hot water in the kitchen sink to hide any evidence of his excursion. He didn't know if she genuinely would go out and have his uncle dig it up just to spite him and then toss his friend into the rubbish but he wouldn't take any chances.
He looks over his shoulder, drying his hands on a towel. His much larger cousin stood there, that line between his brows he often had when what his parents said didn't match up with what he saw. In these moments he came for Freak to help him understand, it being an unspoken rule that Freak knew everything While Freak was reasonable sure he didn't know everything, he was aware he knew things a child of nine should not. And many things some adults might not either.
"Freak, I had a god with a friend at the park today. Now he isn't talking to me. Mum says he'll be talking to be again soon because anyone would want to be my friend. But when Piers and Brantley got into a fight they never spoke to each other again, and I have heard mum say Piers is just a good a boy as I am."
Freak nods. "We seem to inhabit an universe made up of a small number of elements, particle bits, that swirl in chaotic clouds, occasionally clustering together in geometrically logical temporary configurations."
The bigger boy stared.
"What I mean to say," Freak explains, "Is that while Piers and Brantley did not become friends again and because Piers is similar to you it is logical to assume the same thing may happen to you as well, the fact is there are other factors at play we aren't aware of. This friend you've made angry may in fact be over it by tomorrow. You shouldn't base all of the possible outcomes of your personal situations on someone else's just because they are similar, though it is a good way to consider things before choosing your actions. Any number of things could happen and it is just as likely he will forgive you rather then refuse to speak to you. Additionally, your mother is trying to reassure you because she dislikes seeing you upset, which means she doesn't always tell you the truth because she thinks you can't handle it and will become more upset."
"Oh." said his cousin, "That's good to know. Thanks." The boy grabbed a juice from the refrigerator and left.
Freak sits in a chair at the table, rests his head in his hands and sighs.
"Boy." He glanced up.
"Your uncle is having important guests over tonight, they're bringing their son with them and we've already invited him to stay the night." His aunt grasps his sleeve and pulls him through the kitchen, down the hallway and to the front door. Freak tries to dig in his heels but he was too small to make much of a difference. "They don't know we've got you and we'd rather not explain it. Come back in the morning."
Small hands press against the recently slammed front door, their owner wincing at the sound of locks. Freak didn't know which was worse. The terror he felt the first time his family locked him outside for the night, or the numbness that came after it became an ordinary part of his life's routine. It didn't happen every night, and that way he had of knowing thing oughtn't told him it was because his Aunt didn't want the neighbors to catch on. Freak wondered if he ought to tell his Aunt that the neighbors didn't care when they saw him outside doing manually labor and as such probably wouldn't care he was running about at night, especially sense she and her husband contributed to rumours of him being disturbed. It would fit in with his supposed issues easily enough, he thought. Of course, Freak said nothing of the sort. His Aunt would only screech at him for sounding older than he was and knowing things he shouldn't and he'd be locked in the cupboard for a day or two.
Dirty red shoes lead Freak across the street where he is hit head on by a brutal loneliness. It didn't make any sense at all, to feel so lonely. He had always been alone, he didn't know a single moment of non-loneliness to compare what he felt to and so had no way of knowing that a state of non-loneliness was at all preferable. It was not the company of others he desired really, but a feeling of being noticed, acknowledged, existing. His shoes still when they reach the other side, slipping just once in left-over rain on the slick pavement. Small hands twist the hem of his shirt, a nervous habit their owner hadn't been able to overcome. Bare arms shiver in the cool wind.
Freak felt dark and hallow, like his cupboard beneath the stairs. Abandoned, unwanted, unnoticed, forgotten. He stood there and though he was alive, he was nothing- a collector of dust perhaps if he stood there long enough. The small body stumbles to the left and then to the right with the passing of other, more important people going on their way. Everyone who passes by is far happier than him, if he was ever happy at all. Green eyes narrow, red shoes march forward, mental and emotional shields going up. He felt it, deep in there, a fierce violent envy.
Freak did not envy them for being happier than him, that was an easy thing to do, he envied their freedom, and he resented their contentment with being mundane. They had the world before them and most of them had been born in houses similar to Privet Drive and would die one's just as unremarkable. They greatest accomplishments being their prized rose gardens or grandmother's secret pie recipe brought out only at Christmas to mock the siblings who did not get in their will. Petty, inconsequential things. And yet they dared to be happy about it. How such stupid people came to be higher up in the scheme of things than Freaks like him made him resent himself even more. Freak knew he wasn't stupid. He was nine years old, he lived most of his life in a cupboard, he'd never left Surrey, but he knew things. He could answer the questions on the television shows his aunt liked to watch, he could mix household chemicals to create anything, just as he could cook anything he aunt desired without ever being shown a recipe. He knew without ever looking it up that the colour of the sky and the colour of the water below it were a combination of light-waves through moisture in the atmosphere and the resultant colours reflecting one another. Sometimes it came in familiar unknown voices in his head, sometimes it came in memories of another life. Freak had never figured out where these things came from and his Aunt had smacked him hard when he finally built up the courage to ask about it. He hadn't missed it though, the fear in her eyes. A piece of him reveled in it and he remembered getting glimpses of a rabbit hung from the ceiling and another of a snake on a platform and crowd of children stumbling back...
Red shoes walk the path leading to the avenue with little direction needed from Freak himself. Evening was fading into night, less and less pedestrians passed him by. He should head to the park and get ready for the night but he can't bring himself to do so. Previous to this had his friend along with him, to talk to. So he was never entirely alone. And now he was, for the first time in four and a half years he was outside alone. The snake hadn't been poisonous and wouldn't have been much protection other than a show of intimidation, but he felt more confident walking around with her anyway. He never told her he doubted her protection capabilities, she would have been offended at the accusation she couldn't keep her nestmate safe.
His thoughts drifted to the pet snake she always complained about and Freak decided to pay him a visit. The snake wouldn't understand why the other snake wasn't visiting him anymore and being kept in a class enclosure Freak reasoned the pet snake didn't get a long of proper conversation. Little fingers clawed through his hair, head tilted to the sky, yawn on red lips. It was getting late.
The Odds and Ends shoppe was just down the street, he could see the lights were still on. Freak couldn't imagine was sort of people would be looking for something like that at this time of night. His mind clouded with visions of falling out of a fireplace into a similar shoppe and hiding in a cabinet, a head of white hair...
There it was. In the darkening sky the shoppe was a comforting sight in its foreign familiarity. He had seen it numerous times, this would be his first journey inside. Freak wasn't supposed to bring attention to himself but he figured a shoppe like this would be used to unusual customers. Hands pushed the door open to the sound of a faint chime echoing about the shoppe. Green eyes glanced around, wide, taking in the utter everythingness of the place. Shelves and tables and stools and crates all full of or piles with old books, journals, shining objects, keys and all sorts of things. Freak breathed and fancied this was the best place on earth.
"Can I help you?
Shoulders jumped. Freaked turned and looked at the shoppe keeper with suspicion that melted into approval. His aunt often told him the keep rarely came out during the day and was an utter weirdo. Looking at the young man now, for he couldn't possibly be as old as his Aunt claimed, Freak new immediately why his Aunt disliked him. He had dark hair to his shoulders, unnaturally pale skin, pale lips and pointed teeth. Very thin and long dressed all in black, but what Freak liked most about him, inexplicably as this was easily the most frightening thing about the guy, were his wide red eyes. Obviously this paid to have his teeth filed and wore contacts, but look suited him.
"I heard you have a snake." Said Freak.
The older boy blinks. "Yes." He turned and walked through a room hidden behind a length of patterned cloth. This room was smaller than the other and the chaos within was a bit more organized. Long fingers with sharp looking nails pointed to a glass case placed along a long table against the far wall.
Freak approaches the glass very aware of the curious eyes on him. The snake was asleep but it had every right to be proud of the way it looked, Freak's opinion, it was very long and and its scales shone like polished gold. Not that Freak had ever seen gold, but he knew it would look like this just the same.
"Beautiful." Freak murmurs.
"Thank you." The strange clerk stood beside him admiring his own snake.
"Pity it's asleep."
"He does that. Sometimes I think he is only pretending so he can listen to what we say when we think he's asleep."
Freak grins. "Vain snake."
"There are a lot of vain things in here I think." Says the clerk. "Very picky about their owners."
Freak hums in agreement. That would explain why some of the things were so very old.
Red eyes look him over. "Forgive me, but what are you wearing?"
"I'm meant to seem normal." Says Freak, offended. His aunt went through great lengths to make Freak stand out as little as possible.
Pale lips opened in a wide smile, sharp teeth on full display. "You aren't doing it very well. One might think you robbed a second hand store."
"Fear not little demon, I shall fetch you better attire." And he was gone through yet another door hidden by yet another curtain.
"Little demon." Freak mimicked.
Finding himself alone in a room of mysterious object he immediately set about doing what any advanced nine year old would, he ran about looking at as much as he could. There were somethings , like a hand holding a candle, he knew not to touch the way he knew the carved bowl with silvery fog in it up on a shelf was not to be touched. There were many interesting objects that whirred or spun the closer Freak came to them and one that floated several inches above the table below it. A circular disk embedded in another circular disk with three smaller spinable circles caught his attention. It was about the size of his fist and he could see tiny symbols carved into it. For a moment Freak felt like a passenger in his own body when his hands reached out of their own accord and fixed the amulet to a fine chain and slipped it over his neck and beneath his shirt. He was still standing there, confused, when the red eyes clerk came back.
"Here you go. Not only will you fit in your clothes will 'fit' as well."
Freak's face flushed. "Thank you."
The clerk turned about and Freak pulled off his cousins hand-me-downs with more force than necessary. If he kicked at the pile no one was around to call him on it. Freak slipped a long black tunic on, careful to keep the necklace he apparently was stealing beneath it, put on the black slacks and tall boots. He stared at the belt provided before decided to put it on as well, though he wasn't sure what the point was when your fit and weren't in danger of falling off at a moment of inconvenience. Satisfied he cleared throat.
"I'm done. You may turn around."
The clerk glanced him over then waved his hand. The old clothes burst into flame.
Freak agreed with the sentiment but it took a lot of pressure from, a familiar feeling in the back of his mind and a vision of a wardrobe in flames, for him not to panic. Freak didn't get out much or watch TV on a regular basis but he was certain people setting things on fire without matches wasn't the sort of thing normal people like his Aunt and Uncle approved of. Freak half-smiled. A freak like him then. Neither Freak nor the voices in his mind were sure whether or not this was a good thing.
"Do they meet with your approval?"
Freak nodded. "Yes, thank you."
"Am I right in guessing you aren't normally out at night by yourself?"
"Er, no, I usually have a friend with me." He looked away, uncomfortable.
The clerk tilted his head, hair falling to the side. "And why has your friend left you alone?"
Freak swallowed. He had been doing so good at not thinking about it. But maybe, if this guy was a freak like him, maybe he would understand? "She was killed this morning." Said Freak, watching the clerk's face. "I buried her a few hours ago."
A stool was pointed at by a long finger and Freak sat on it, the clerk sitting across from him on another still after he took a pile of books from it. He didn't say anything for a moment, looking Freak over and tilting his head this way and that like he was analyzing him, trying to figure him out. Freak knew most children didn't bury friends but he had and he was proud he was able to do so, he'd loved his friend and he wasn't gonna take it back now that he said it. If the clerk didn't like it he couldn't say much could he? He was a freak as well.
"My condolences. Are you alone now?"
"Right now I'm with you."
The clerk waved a hand. "Yes, but where are the rest of you?"
"The rest of me?"
Silence for another moment. Freak couldn't think of a single thing he had said or done to warrant that much curiosity in the clerks face. He didn't burn anything with fire from nowhere at least. That was far more interesting that wearing too big clothes and being alone. The clerk was very odd, Freak decided.
"Where are the ones who are responsible for you?"
"Oh." said Freak, "They're at the house where they live." Where else would they be?
"Why aren't you with them?
He wasn't going to answer that, his Aunt had ordered him to simple turn around and walk home if anyone started asking questions like that. A feeling the back of his mind pushed him to be honest about this. Freak gave a mental shrug. The clerk couldn't do much about it, o one listened to freaks anyway and he doubted he made enough money at the shoppe for anyone to care if he made a fuss about it. He wouldn't say that of course. "I was shut out." said Freak, "They don't do it all of the time, usually they shut me up in my cupboard when they don't want me, but sometimes they send me away. It's only ever for the night."
The clerks red eyes stared at him without blinking. "The ones you live with...they aren't like us, are they?" This was the first time the older boy admitted they were both freaks. It was a very odd thing, to not be the only freak in a room.
"No. They're normal people." Freak thought that ought to be obvious as he sincerely hoped other Freaks would treat him a bit better.
"Humans. You live with regular humans?" The clerk asked, astonished. 'Why?"
"I haven't anywhere else to go."
The clerk didn't say anything for a bit. He did that a lot. "How often do you need to feed?"
Freak wasn't sure how to answer that at first, it was a strange way to ask someone how many meals they had a day. "The usually feed me once a day." He said.
"How long has it been since the last time you fed?"
"What time is it now?"
The clerk nodded at a large clock hanging on the wall. Like everything else in the shoppe it was very old and very expensive looking. It read eleven o clock.
"Sixteen hours ago." Said Freak.
Without a word the clerk stood and went behind another hidden door the shoppe seemed to have a large allotment of. It must be a good deal large on the inside than it looked on the outside to have so many other rooms. On the desk Freak noticed a red leather bound book with a pile of notes surrounding it. With a shrug he hopped off his stool and took a look at the book. It had a compass etched in silver on the front. Small fingers ran over it carefully, knowing, somehow, that this book was important. He almost thought he'd seen it somewhere before, maybe even read it before. But that was impossible, wasn't it?
"Looking at my work?"
Freak turned to see the clerk standing beside him, holding a glass tube with clear liquid inside. "Yes, is that okay?"
The clerk nodded, handing him the drink. Freak sipped it. It tasted very good, sort of like pomegranates. He felt a jolt and his eyes blurred. Confused Freak took off his glasses and blinked when the world was absolutely clear in focus. Was it the drink? Did it fix his eyes somehow?
"Certainly. Perhaps you'll have better luck understanding it than I did."
Freak looked back at the book, stuffing his glasses in pocket. The clerk smiled at him.
"I'm glad you no longer feel the need to hide with a disguise. No one will judge those eyes here, though I am jealous. They are very pretty and less common than my own, I may have to take them."
Freak wasn't confidant the clerk was joking. He swallowed, ready to bolt if the older boy made a move toward his face with anything sharp.
"I'd rather keep them thanks."
The clerk laughed.
"Do you have a name?" asked Freak. It was sort of a rude way to ask, as he hadn't introduced himself, but he was curious if all freaks were called Freak or if his relatives were just that unimaginative.
"My apologies. I am Dante." said the Clerk with a very formal bow.
Bent at the waist, hand over chest, eyes raised, denoting someone of equal or higher value, used when int he company of a previously unmet individual of who's status you have suspicion but have not yet confirmed. His every surprising brain supplied.
"Dante." Repeated Freak, with the shallower bow the voices in head told him to make, and thought that was a much better name than his.
Freak decided to lie, telling another freak he called himself Freak was just embarrassing. "I haven't got one."
Dante's pale lips turned down. "Understood." He seemed displeased.
Freak held up the book. "What does it mean?"
"I can't tell you, I can not read it."
"Yes," said Freak, "But the cover I mean."
Red eyes narrowed. Dante stood much closer to him, looking between the book and Freak with interest. "Why, what do you see?" He asked eagerly.
"Er, well, I see a compass and instead of directions, like North and South, it says Sun-Borne, Battle-Borne, Star-Borne and Blood-borne."
Dante smiled brightly. "You can read it!"
"I, well yes, but-"
"Marvelous." He was squeezed in a too-tight hug. "No wonder you said you didn't have anywhere else to go. You must think I'm very foolish. Take the book little demon. It's yours."
Freak felt his jaw drop open. "Just like that?"
"Yes, yes. Take it please. It's a gift."
Freak got the impression he was missing something important. The voices in his head laughed.