Fourth grade was ending in three days, Harry Potter thought with a sigh, looking longingly at the stacks in the library. I don't like summer, at all. Summer vacation means work work work - all the time! If only I could take the whole library with me... Harry nodded, knowing that he wouldn't possibly be able to afford that. Still, he worked with a will, pulling book after book out of the stacks. Though they might have looked "chosen at random", they really weren't. He made two stacks, one small, one large. The large one contained tattered books, ones where children had folded the pages over - and even one where a sixth grader had written some filthy comments in the margins. With a smile, he put that one on top. The other pile had only three books in it - the maximum that he was allowed to borrow. Not that anyone was allowed to take books out over summer holidays.
Forcing his face into an innocent seeming expression. He thought carefully, he was not mad about school ending, he was just a small and helpful boy. A small and helpful, innocent boy. Such thoughts repeated in a loop in his mind, until he was fairly certain he was convincing. At that point, he ambled (carefully not dawdling) to the librarian's desk, with the large pile of books, "Miss Rickett?"
"Yes dear?" She smiled down at him, as he laid a few books on the counter.
"I'd like to check these out please."
"Just remember that you need to have them back before the end of the year, or there will be a fine." She said with a smile. He was always such a polite boy.
"Yes ma'am." Harry carefully didn't mention that he wasn't planning to return the books before the start of the next year. He had already looked up the late fee, and he figured he could manage it without the rather dubious solution of finding a pawnshop that would take his oversize, tattered clothes. He had stood there a few moments longer than he ought, and thus he moved down to the reference librarian's desk, carefully sliding his checked-out books into his overworn satchel before reaching her.
"Excuse me, ma'am?" Harry said, hardly able to clear the tallest book in order to see who it was.
"Yes?" The crisp voice identified her as Miss Giffleschlitz, a perhaps unfortunate name for such a lovely young librarian. Harry tended to avoid addressing her by name, as he figured it might conjure bad memories.
"I've found some problems with some of the books in the library... I was hoping you could help me with them..." Harry said, turning his eyes big and round.
"Of course, dear, what seems to be the problem?" She said as she relieved him of his heavy load. Harry carefully concealed a sigh.
Harry managed a blush, and said simply, "It's probably better if I don't say, I don't want to get in trouble!"
Curiosity sparked in those warm brown eyes, and the librarian began to rifle through the top book. As hoped, she responded by blushing even worse than Harry had thought she would. "Yes, I can see why you'd want this out of circulation. Are all the rest like it?"
Harry toed the ground absently with a toe, as he looked down, before abashedly looking up. "Not exactly, the others are ... more mendable. Torn pages, broken bindings."
"And you found all of these yourself?"
"Yes, ma'am." Harry said, pausing dramatically, "Actually, I was wondering if I could have some of them? Is there any way - the ones that you don't want -?" His words had dissolved into incoherency, and yet the puppyish pleading in his eyes said more than words ever could have.
"Yes, of course, child. It's a just payment for saving me three days work." A thin smile played across her thinner lips, and she said swiftly, "But not that first one. It's got words in it that you oughtn't to be reading." Harry nodded solemnly. "You didn't read all the margins, did you?"
"No, ma'am." He said with a perfect smile.
As Harry left the library, his green eyes fairly sparkled with delight. Not even the rusting of the bushes that presaged a Harry Hunt could dim his enthusasiasm. He had twenty books! It felt like a fortune - and most of it for free!
[a/n: Even weighted down by books, Harry's a good deal quicker than Dudley. No need to worry.
The reader is encouraged to write reviews, but also to pay attention to characterizations.
This will be a long story (and start slowly), so if you're raring to read one that's finished, I have finished exactly one story. Go read that one instead.]