CHARACTERS: Harry Potter
Warnings: None that I can think of.
AN: One Shot. Just an idea that came to me. What do you think, does it deserve its own story?
Ever Yours, Pseu
Here comes the world with that look in its eye, future uncertain but certainly slight
Look at the faces! Listen to the bells!
It's hard to believe we need a place called Hell
The Devil inside! The Devil inside! - Every single one of us
The Devil inside
The sky was getting dark, the wind whipping against his arms and tangling his already untidy hair. Normally he might have tried to smooth it down to make it less offensive but no amount of hair smoothing or combing would make it acceptable today. Honestly this entire mess could be blamed on his hair.
After staring at him for what he was beginning to believe to be an unhealthy amount of time his Aunt had decided the time had come to tame his hair once and for all. By having it off. All but for his bangs which she allowed if only to his eyes which she hated even more than his hair. This morning his had, of its own accord, grown back, and to add insult to injury, had grown back twice as long. It wasn't his fault. He hadn't told it to grow back, though he may have been silently urging it to grow as quickly as possibly but who could blame him? He'd looked ridiculous. None of that stopped his aunt from looking at him as if he lived to be as abnormal as possible.
Aunt Petunia was ordinary. Offensively so. She was of average looks, average intelligence, lived in a middle class home with a husband who earned a neither enough to be impressive nor little enough to be scoffed at. The only thing ruining her perfectly ordinary world was Harry himself. He was too small, too pale, his hair too unruly, his eyes far too bright. He spoke too cleverly when he did speak and when he didn't he was too quiet.
His eyes though.
Harry didn't know what she had against the colour green but she made such a big deal out of her dislike of his eyes that he went out of his way to glare up at her through her bangs, his head tilted just right for her to get the full effect. She hated it when she did that. Her face would pale and her hands would shake. He got shoved into his cupboard for it of course but really it was worth it. It wasn't as if he chose to have bright green eyes just to offend her.
He couldn't help what colour his eyes were.
Half an hour later and he was unceremoniously pulled out of his cupboard and herded into the Dursley family car. He was informed his glasses, which he'd been given two months ago, were going to get fitted to him properly. He could imagine the horrid frames she would saddle him with. They stopped at Lipman and Son first. His aunt ran in to see if an order they placed from a catalog had come in yet. He waited for her in the car absently making pictures in the fog on the glass. She returned with a loud knock to the side of the door motioning for him to get out. He was lead down another street to a store with a large pair of eye glasses on the sign. His aunt thrust him toward the wall where different frames were displayed while she took his old pair up to the counter. He'd just seen a smart red pair with thin rectangular frames and wished he could have a pair like that rather than the thick round frames his aunt had pointed out when heard his aunt give a startled shriek. He whirled around to see what was the matter only to find her staring at him.
"What?" He asked. "What is it?"
She pointed at him with an unsteady hand, her other covering her mouth. The sound of voices in the back room snapped her out of it. His aunt marched forward, took him by the arm and began towing him out of the door, pressed close to her all the while. He thought he heard her mutter "Devil's Hair" as the door shut behind them. They walked back to the car and got inside without a word. She kept glancing at him worriedly out of the corner of her eyes, it was making him jumpy. He wanted to asked what was wrong but she didn't look like she could handle that sort of question just then. The drove a little ways away and she parked the car and rounded the other side to open his door. Tentatively he got out.
Neither of them said anything.
To his shock she reached out and pulled put a hand on his head, looking like she felt very sorry for him indeed. It was a novel feeling as she had never shown the slightest concern for him as long as he'd known the woman, which happened to be his entire life.
"I need you to entertain yourself today. There's..." She cleared her throat, "There are book stores all along here and some other small shops as well. You'll be safe enough around here, try not to wander. I'll...I'll be back." She took a step back, withdrawing her hand, then she stopped. "I am sorry Harry. I can't take you home like that. Vernon, I just, I don't know what he'd do. I don't know what the neighbors would do. I..."
He watched his aunt get into the car and leave him there.
Frightened, Harry glanced around for something he could see his reflection in. A large book store down the way with a big F on the front, he couldn't read the rest from this angle, looked like it was open. He headed for it and only stopped when he got a look in the window. There were books everywhere, but what caught his attention was his reflection looking back at him out of a mirror against the far wall. He blinked. That couldn't be right. Harry yanked the door open to the sound of a jangling bell and ran down the middle aisle narrowly avoiding a middle aged woman with long blonde hair. He reached the mirror and stopped breathing.
His hair had turned red. Not just normal, regular ginger or auburn or even strawberry blonde either oh no. When weird things happened to him they happened properly. His hair was an impossibly deep, vibrant red he'd seen on women's lipsticks or holiday sweaters during the winter. The colour of fresh blood after a cut or the stripes on a candy cane at Christmas.
The room around him got very silent. Harry turned to see two men who may have been brothers and a younger woman looking at him curiously. The rest of them were backing away. Harry swallowed and left the store quickly to the sounds of their murmurs.
"The poor dear! Touched by Cain."
"Glad he's gone."
Thus he stood alone in London, freezing, with what might be the worst hair colour ever. After walking a bit further on he spied a small pub pushed back between two stores that seemed to have gone out of business. He might be able to get away with playing as a child waiting for their dad. He could sit at a table in the back for little while and maybe if he looked real sad he could get someone to buy him something to eat. He smiled. He'd been able to do that a couple times before, this wasn't the first time he'd been left on his own and even Freaks needed to eat. Hesitating long enough to find something to cover up his hair, a green scarf lying next to a coat along the short wall outside the pub with it's owner no doubt somewhere inside, would do fine. The man had that nice coat so he didn't feel too bad about taking the scarf. He wrapped it around his head the way he'd seen his aunt do on windy days, straighted his tee shirt the best he could, it was large enough to be a dress on him but it couldn't be helped, pushed the door open just enough and slipped in. It was a quiet place with a low ceiling. Everyone in it had long coats that nearly touched the floor and a few of them odd jackets with no sleeves on over them. They looked warm, he wouldn't mind having one himself. He thought, looking at the other patrons -particularly one with sharp teeth leaning close to a pretty girl- walking around with a scarf on his head was the least remarkable thing to see in there.
A minute later he located the barman. "Excuse me?" He called, standing up on the tips of his toes to see over the bar. The man was bald with wide shoulders but the smile he gave him once he spotted him was friendly.
He widened his eyes and looked as cute as he could manage. "I was wondering, if it wouldn't be too much trouble, if-"
"Trying to get into the Alley are ya? Come along I'll let you through."
The man turned and walked along the room headed to a door in the back. Perplexed, and really very curious, Harry decided he had nothing better to do. Checking to make sure his scarf was in place he scrambled after the barman. They walked through the door and around to a brick wall. He's just started wondering if he was going to be mugged when the man took out a long thin stick and tapped it in a pattern on the bricks. There was a slight, low moan and then the bricks were moving and sliding. He stared at the archway.
"Don't look that way little one. You'll be getting your own wand one day. Now run along and catch up with your family. Go on."
In a haze he stumbled out the archway into the strangest shopping alley he had ever seen. Of course, he hadn't seen many, but he couldn't suppress the feeling that these people. These wonderful, oddly dressed people with sticks they called wands and walls that changed shape, that these people were freaks like him. The smile curling across his lips must have been quite blinding. He glanced in every window he passed. He studied the people passing him by. It was like walking through a storybook, he thought. Unfortunately when you are studying other people you tend to forget about yourself. As he began up some stone steps he smacked into someone else and lost his footing. There was the sound of a bag tearing and he caught a glimpse of small round beads scattering across the ground.
A hand grabbed his own and pulled him up the stairs and into their arms, steadying him.
The bead things were everywhere. It was his fault, he hadn't been looking where he was going. But maybe, he tightened his hand into a fist, maybe if these people were like him then they wouldn't mind? He held out his hand to hover over the ground and, in slow precise movements he 'pulled' at the beads, gathering them together into a pile. It took a little while, as they liked to roll a bit too far rather than stopping when he stopped but he was a lot better at it now than he was the first time he'd done it. Finally they were piled together neatly. He knelt down, scooped them into his hands and paused. What would he put them in?
"Hold on." The other person knelt down as well, holding out a small bag. "Put them here."
He carefully poured them into the bag then watched long, quick fingers tie it up.
"Are you quite alright?" A voice asked him.
He nodded, keeping his gaze on the boots this other person was wearing. Nice boots actually. Black with silver along the edges.
Cool fingertips on his chin made him stiffen. His face was forced upward to meet the silver eyed gaze of the boy in front of him. He blinked. Did eyes even come in silver? As he was studying the boy in front of him, that boy was studying him as well. Silver eyed widened. "Your hair-"
Harry reached up to feel along his face. Strands of his too red hair had fallen into his face and across his eyes. He was so used to his hair in his face he'd forgotten the colour! Immediately he began pushing it back under. He didn't know for certain these people were freaks too, even if this boy had silver eyes, and he didn't know they would like him even if they were freaks. His own aunt didn't like him why should other freaks? Maybe there was something wrong with him. Maybe they...
"No wait!" The boy's other hand clasped over his own, stilling its' movements. He stood, frozen, as the silvered eyed boy pulled his scarf loose. His hair tumbled in messy curls around his face. Through his curtain of red he could see the boy watching him. "Merlin." The boy whispered.
"You're not going to try to cut it all off are you?" He demanded, shocked by his own daring. "Because it'll just grow back the next day."
"Cut it off?" The boy asked. His expression clearing from confused to outraged to a calm, neutral face. "Are your parents light affiliated then? Typical." His fingers were playing with the ends of his hair. He wondered if the boy noticed he was playing with his hair. He didn't especially mind, it was just...no one had ever done that before.
At his blank look he said, "Your hair. They call it Hellfire or Cain's Mark or-
"Devil's Hair." Harry interrupted, remembering his aunt. It sounded like something wicked.
"Yes. And if they've made you cut it off before and cover it up, they must be light affiliated or at the very least heavily influenced by their ideals. They think it's a sign of evil because it usually comes paired with what they call dark abilities. Really it just means you have a high influx of magic early on and good control of it. That's what father said. Load of rubbish of course, the evil part I mean. Not that a man marked by Hellfire couldn't be evil if they really wanted to be but they'd be so powerful you wouldn't say it to their face would you? Are they?" The impromptu history lesson ended and the rather well spoken boy waited expectantly.
It took him a minute to understand the question. "I- well I wouldn't know. They died when I was a baby."
The boy tilted his head thoughtfully. "Your relatives then. Light magic oriented?"
Magic! The thought of his aunt having anything to do with all of this strangeness was ridiculous. "No. They have nothing to do with any of this," he waved a hand to indicate the alley and the people in it, all the time wondering if he were dreaming, "My Aunt hates this sort of thing. Magic I mean." He felt wicked chills at saying the 'M' word so freely.
The hand in his hair paused. "Muggles. You're being raised by muggles?" And then he was combing Harry's red hair back from his face to get a good look at him. The fingertips on his chin, which he'd quite forgotten, moved this way and that. "You couldn't possibly be a muggleborn, not with as much control as you've got. Of course you get that from the hair." The boy mused.
Muggleborn. "No. No my aunt, the woman raising me, is a...a muggle. Her and her family. My mother and my father were...like us." He wasn't one hundred percent certain about that but he had heard his aunt and uncle blaming his parents for his freakishness often enough that he could hazard a guess. He hoped that they were. He hoped more than he had ever dared to hope before that he was a part of these people and this world where they said magic and liked his hair and asked if he was okay. He wanted it badly. To belong.
"Were you adopted?"
He blinked. He didn't know. He supposed he must have been adopted by his aunt at some point if she had him now. Or maybe just a guardianship of some kind? They didn't treat him like another son. Or like a nephew either, come to that. He couldn't be sure.
The boy seemed to take his lack of answer as an an answer and hummed. "Open your eyes." He ordered.
Harry thought about refusing. His eyes offended his aunt nearly as often as his hair and without his glasses to hide behind they'd be even more green than normal. He sighed. Nothing for it really. He opened them, staring into the silver eyes of the other boy once more, without a curtain of hair between them. Feeling bold Harry reached out ran his fingers through the other boy's hair, which he thought much more interesting than his own. It was white. The boy's cheeks flushed pink. Then he stood and held out his hand.
Harry took it and allowed the boy to pull him to his feet.
"They don't know you're here?" The boy guessed.
"Of course not." His aunt would probably lock him in his cupboard for a month if she found out.
The boy grinned. It made his eyes crease at the ends. "I think I like you. I'm Malfoy by the way. Come along. Father will be busy for a while yet, you can do your shopping with me." Harry didn't bother mentioning he didn't have any money. He was already being pulled alongside the bigger blonde who began telling him in earnest about the shops as they passed them.
He smiled for the second time that day.