Harry lay in bed, thinking, remembering.
It had been almost a week since Dobby the House-Elf's visit, and since being locked in this room, he had nothing to do but sit and think.
It had, of course, become increasingly difficult to concentrate the hungrier he got and the more worried he grew about Hedwig.
She was getting awfully thin, while neither of them had really been getting hardly any food, Harry knew from the book on owl care he had to practically force Hagrid to let him buy (Hagrid hadn't wanted him to buy anything that wasn't specifically on the list. Now that he thought about it, that was stupid, how on earth was he supposed to get background information except through buying books with the information?) that post owls burned through energy faster than people. Even faster than regular owls. It had to do with them being influenced by magic so they could actually deliver the post. So, while they were both starving, Hedwig was starving faster than him. Meaning she would become weaker and die before he would begin to even reach that point, especially with how used to going without food he was.
He gave her all the food he could, but... he worried.
The Dursley's never really touched him. Dudley and the occasional frying pan to the head or smack didn't count to his mind. No, they took more pleasure in depriving him of basic human needs like food. And now Hedwig was suffering for it too.
So, in an attempt to not worry himself to death with something he could not control, he thought, and he remembered. And he considered the past year.
He thought about how some of the kids at school seemed to expect him to know and follow certain customs or traditions, customs and traditions that he just couldn't make heads or tales of, stuff that he had a funny feeling he would know if he had grown up magical like them. He thought about how, at the beginning of the year, those same students came to try and talk to him about the political state of affairs, and they all expected him to know exactly what they were talking about. A few of them even said something about honoring their family alliances.
They all seemed to be very offended when he wasn't interested in politics or their 'family alliances'. Of course, it wasn't that he wasn't interested, he just had no idea what they were talking about.
He could even think back to the beginning of the year and when he rejected Malfoy's hand. The more he thought about it, the more he had a bad feeling that he had somehow insulted Malfoy by some wizarding world custom that he didn't know. Malfoy's reaction certainly suggested it.
He wondered if all the fighting between him and Malfoy would have happened if he had just shaken his hand, if he would have known whether or not it was an insult to not shake someones hand.
He remembered how, at Gringotts with Hagrid, some of the goblins had appeared to be trying to get him on his own to talk to him about something, but Hagrid refused to move his giant hand from Harry's small shoulder the entire time they were there.
Above all, he wondered why. Why did those kids seem to expect something from him, (besides the usual Boy-Who-Lived bull) why did they seem so insulted when he didn't seem to have any interest in what they were talking about? Why did Malfoy take it so personally that he didn't shake his hand? And why did the goblins want him away from Hagrid?
He needed a plan, he needed to get out of here somehow and get to Gringotts. From the Goblins behavior last summer, he had a feeling that if anyone could help, it would be the goblins.
'Although', he thought looking sadly over at his familiar, 'I really should get Hedwig to a vet or something first... maybe the goblins can help me with that as well? Hedwig, hang in there, I'll figure us a way out of this.'
For the next two days, he thought, worried, and planned. He fed Hedwig all of the 'food' they were given, coaxing and watching helplessly as she weakly forced herself to eat. He knew he couldn't say anything to the Dursley's, they would probably stop giving them food all together.
At the end of those two days, he thought he had a plan figured out. He had to somehow pick the padlock and send Hedwig to Ron with instructions to take her to whatever the wizarding world's equivalent to a vet was. The problem was, he wasn't sure if he should trust anyone with his owl. About a week into first year, an article about him had come out about him going to Hogwarts, that he was in Gryffindor, and that he had a beautiful snowy owl named Hedwig.
He knew that he was seen as the 'savior' of the wizarding world and almost everybody loved him, but at the same time, he also had enemies in those who supported Voldemort. Not to mention, who knew what his 'adoring fans' would do to his owl, either tracking her so the lunatics could get a hold of his stuff, or just otherwise being lunatic fans. He didn't want to put Hedwig through that. There was a reason he told her to be careful and he was careful not to be seen sending her out.
Now that he thought about it, how on earth did they know that? The only person he had told had been Ron, unless he mentioned his owls name in passing to someone. Oh, well, not important.
That, and, he didn't know how expensive it would be to have her looked at, and the Weasley's didn't exactly have a whole lot of money. That plan probably wouldn't work.
His eyes fell on the cat flap. He started glancing between the flap and himself, comparing sizes. Maybe if he could squeeze through there, unlock the door from the outside, grab Hedwig and go... he would worry about the padlock's after he got out.
But, what about his trunk? Maybe if he was really desperate enough his magic would act for him. Actually, he should probably search his aunt and uncle's room for the keys first and hope that Uncle Vernon didn't keep his keys with him. Did he really want to leave this much up to chance though? Did he really have a choice? He looked at Hedwig again. No. No, he didn't have a choice.
He decided to go tonight. as soon as he was sure the Dursley's were asleep.
"Ok, girl. We're getting out of here tonight. I'll need you to be quiet though, all right? If they wake up, that's it. We'll never get free." He whispered to Hedwig, confident that she, the smartest owl on the planet, would understand every word he said.
Sure enough, she hooted weakly in agreement. He swallowed at the sound and reached through the bars of the cage to rub her chest softly.
He glanced out the window to see how dark the sky was and settled himself into wait, it was roughly three in the afternoon, it would be a while before they went to bed, he could spend the time trying to figure out how to unlock everything without his wand if he couldn't find the keys.
He looked out the window curiously, watching and listening as Dudley and Aunt Petunia left, talking loudly about going to see a movie and get dinner.
They would be gone for hours, and Uncle Vernon wouldn't be back for another two to three hours either. Forget tonight, he could go right now.
"Hedwig, change of plans, we're going now." He said, watching and waiting until they were almost out of sight to ensure that if they forgot something and had to come back, that he would have time. He heard Hedwig hoot behind him, a little more enthusiastically, she wanted out of here just as much as he did.
As soon as he figured they were far enough, he bolted for the door, getting down and starting to wiggle his way through the cat flap. He didn't stop to consider why they were leaving so suddenly, he didn't care. They were gone. He was, however, surprised and a little scared to look up when he was only halfway out and find himself staring at a pair of shoes.
For one panicked moment, he thought Uncle Vernon had come back early and gotten the others out of the house so he could do who knew what with Harry and Hedwig. He snapped out of it enough to realize that the shoes were too small, not Uncle Vernon then at least... He trailed his eyes up the legs to see two goblins standing in front of him, watching him crawl out of his room. One of them still had his hand up, reaching for the padlocks on the door.
"Er," He said, slowly scrambling to pull himself out into the hallway so he could stand up.
"Mr. Potter, we were just coming to retrieve you since you seem to either be ignoring our owls or somehow not getting them. We sincerely hope you haven't been getting them, we don't appreciate our owls being ignored. Although," he said, studying Harry and glancing at the locked room Harry had just escaped, "I don't think that will be a problem somehow." He finished dryly. His hand dropped to his side, apparently deciding that there was no point in unlocking an empty room.
"Come, we have much to discuss." He said, turning to go. But Harry didn't follow.
"Wait!" He burst out. "Can you, um...?" He asked, gesturing towards the door when they glanced back at him. He had decided that, while he was very confused, this worked out perfectly since he was on his way to Gringotts anyway, he would figure out what was going on later.
One of them, Griphook, Harry realized, raised an eyebrow before lifting his hand and causing the locks to fall open. Harry tore the door open and rushed inside, leaving the goblins out in the hallway, looking inside the tiny room, easily becoming enraged at what they saw.
Both at the sight of the painfully thin, caged snowy owl and the condition of the room compared to the rest of the house. Sure, it was clean, but it was also tiny, run-down, and definitely NOT suitable living conditions for the heir to one of their oldest and wealthiest clients. Not to mention the 'savior' of the wizarding world.
Not to mention what they knew of Harry's account activity where his relatives were concerned...
Harry carefully picked up his owls cage, turning back to the door to see the goblins watching. He didn't even have to say anything for Griphook to banish the padlock on Hedwig's cage and gesture for him to follow again. The other goblin looked around the room again before asking Harry where his things were, he was not coming back here. Griphook nodded in agreement.
Harry turned red before he gestured for them to follow him, they were confused when he left his room without gathering his things, that confusion turned to anger when Harry led them to the cupboard under the stairs and quietly told them his stuff was in there.
While they took care of that, he set Hedwig's cage down, heading into the kitchen to grab some meat and an apple. Neither he nor Hedwig had really eaten in a week! And neither of them had really eaten much before that week either.
He went back to the hallway and quietly opened the cage to give Hedwig her food a little bit at a time so she didn't try to go too fast and choke or something. While he did that, he started in on his apple while she ate. The whole time, he avoided looking at the goblins, who had already pulled his trunk and broom out, and were now staring inside in disbelief.
He knew what they were seeing.
An old, dirty crib mattress. A couple of old, broken figurines on the shelf, spiders everywhere. The sign drawn in crayon in childish scribble proudly proclaiming this to be Harry's room.
He finished feeding Hedwig and his apple, giving her the core to munch on, softly telling her to take it slow. He looked up to find the goblins still staring into the cupboard in shocked disbelief.
Harry sighed, he didn't really understand the problem, sure most kids don't grow up in a cupboard, but most kids also aren't the massive burdens on their families that he was. All the cupboard was to him was an embarrassment because it was a reminder of how much of a burden he was.
Reaching out, he gently nudged the goblins away from the door and pushed it closed with a snap. They looked at him startled, they had forgotten where they were for a moment at the blatant sign of abuse and neglect. Harry just went back to his trunk and pulled out his wand, asking as he searched for it where they were going, when and why.
They looked at him for a moment before nodding and informing him they were going to Gringotts. They would either put him up at the Leaky Cauldron or find a classmate for him to stay the rest of the summer with. Griphook also made a mental note to get in touch with Madam Hopkirk, it was clear to him that Harry had not done that hover charm.
His wand had been locked up for gold's sake!
The other goblin, who still had not introduced himself, shrunk Harry's trunk, and did the same with Hedwig's cage after having Harry take her out and watching her hop up onto his shoulder. She swayed a little bit, but otherwise hung on with little to no problem.
"What's your name? I'm sorry, I should have asked earlier. I know Griphook." Harry finally said, after the unnamed goblin handed him a small pouch holding his now shrunk possessions. Everything he owned in this little bag.
The goblins looked surprised before the mystery goblin said, "I apologize, I should have introduced myself, my name is Sharptooth. How is it that you know Griphook?"
"Griphook is the one who took me to my vaults last summer, speaking of which, does this have anything to do with why you were trying to get me alone?" He asked Griphook.
Griphook muttered something about not thinking Harry had noticed that before he and Sharptooth looked at each other. Trying to decide what to say, until Griphook finally announced that this was a conversation best had in the privacy of Gringotts. Harry was confused but agreed.
After all, all Harry had was his trust vault, what on earth could be so important about him to make the goblins so interested that would come get in just because he failed to answer a few owls?
Griphook held out his hand and instructed Harry to give Hedwig to Sharptooth, "Sharptooth will take her to our Creatures Healer, she looks like she could use a few Nutrient Potions."
Harry agreed immediately.
He knew that they had to have something for animals in the magical world, they weren't that backwards after all.
"We will also be getting you to our Healers after our talk." Griphook warned. Harry grimaced but quickly nodded after Hedwig gave him a sharp nip to the ear.
Harry muttered something about traitors when Griphook and Sharptooth chuckled at the owl.
The goblins watched in amusement as Hedwig preened smugly under Harry's betrayed, yet fond look. These two had a true wizard-familiar bond. Something very rare anymore as few wizards saw their owls and other pets as anything other than animals.
Griphook and Sharptooth took their charges and apparated out, seconds before Dumbledore rushed in to find out who dared to go anywhere near his weapon. He was fully prepared to obliviate whoever he needed to, only to find nobody.
The Potter brat was gone, his magical signature was gone, he missed them by seconds.