"Wait!" Harry yelled as he chased the young girl into the forest, "Wait! I promise not to hurt you!"
"Yeah, that's what every villager I came across, said!" The young girl yelled sarcastically over her shoulder. Sticking out her middle finger at him momentarily, she continued her pursuit to get deeper into the forest.
"I'm also running away from someone too!" Harry yelled, hoping to gain some of her trust, "Maybe not from who you are trying to escape, but nonetheless I am on the run!"
"So what benefit is it going to bring me to team up with you?" The girl snapped, screeching to a halt, turning around and clasping her hands on her waist.
Harry took cautious, slow steps; it was almost like trying to gain a Hippogriff's trust. Sticking out his hand slowly and carefully, he said in a low tone, "Being my partner in crime means I will not rat you out. Even if they capture me."
"Yeah right, when it's your life on the line, anyone will become traitors for the sake of being alive," the girl scoffed in disbelief.
"Not with me," Harry promised.
The girl sighed, but furrowed her eyebrows in suspicion as she carefully eyed the boy and asked, "Who are you? Where are you from?"
"I'm Harry Potter," Harry explained, "I ran away from home."
"Me too. But why did you run away?" The girl asked in interest.
"Well, I wouldn't call my home really a home," Harry said warily, "You see, my parents died when I was a baby. They were murdered by some serial killer, Voldemort. Then I was sent to live with my aunt and uncle from my mother's side of the family. Simply being my mother's son, they detested me and treated me like trash. While they lavish their son, they ordered me around the house like a servant. Then an hour ago, I overheard them talking about selling me to tax collectors to pay off their debts. I ran away because I don't want to be sold into slavery."
"I'm sorry," the girl said quietly, feeling guilt consume her chest; she felt bad for assuming the worst of this boy when she literally never saw her in her life.
Harry smiled and offered his hand again and said, "It's all good. How about we become friends?"
The girl looked at his hand for a couple of seconds before hesitantly resting her tiny hand into his. They shook briefly and retracted their hands, as if static electricity zapped their fingers.
"What's your name?" Harry asked.
"Alex Russo. My name is Alexandra Margarita Russo, but my parents were so happy for a boy they initially named me Alex. It got lengthened when my true biological gender was known," Alex said in distaste.
"Wait…Russo? Are you that princess of the rumors?" Harry said, once recognition clicked in his brain at the mention of her last name.
"Yeah, was locked for 15 years, my whole life," Alex shrugged, "I just mastered the teleportation spell wizards use and I escaped my dingy basement. Oh! I'm sure you have no idea what I am blabbing about."
She was so scared he would think she's crazy for believing she had magical powers; a part of her told her to run before he kidnaps her and turns her in to a mental asylum. But all thoughts went out the window when a large smile snuck its way up his face.
"You're a wizard?" Harry asked excitedly.
"Please don't be mad at me…" Alex trailed off.
He started laughing, but not in a mocking way. His laughter was light, carefree, happy and joyful. She decided she liked the sound of his laughter. All thoughts about his laugh were thrown out the window when he scooped her into a hug and briefly swung her around, making her blush profusely.
"I'm sorry, I am just so happy that someone is a wizard like me. I have been shunned for being different from muggles," Harry said.
"Muggles?" Alex asked.
"Non-magic folk," Harry explained.
She nodded then looked around where they were and spoke up, "Ok nice to know I met you, but maybe we should get going somewhere with shelter."
"About that, I teleported to this forest and was walking around aimlessly," Harry said, scratching his head, "I don't know where we are."
"Oh, you don't know?" Alex asked in surprise, "This is the Forbidden Forest."
"What a fitting name," Harry said sarcastically.
"I am not kidding, they call it that because this forest isn't your typical forest," Alex briefly explained, "Magical creatures reside here."
"Like what? Nargles?" Harry asked.
"No, those are clumped around mistletoes," Alex said, "I mean all out, like centaurs and stuff."
"What should we do?" Harry wondered.
Alex pointed to a gravel path not too far from where the two stood, "Maybe we should walk along that path. Maybe we can run into a hut or something."
The two walked on the paved road until they saw some kind of cottage in the distance. Harry suggested that they knock on the door and he handed the invisibility cloak. He instructed her to only remove it once the person gives his or her oath not to report the princess back to the King and Queen.
Harry knocked on the door and after hearing some noises of struggle within the cozy cottage, the door swung open to reveal Hagrid. His annoyed face melted away into a happy one as he scooped up Harry into a big bear hug.
"Harry! 'Ave missed ye!" Hagrid bellowed.
"Hagrid, I have a favor to ask you," Harry said when Hagrid set him down, "Well… make that two."
"Tell me," Hagrid said eagerly, leaning forward in interest.
"Well, the first one is, Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia were talking about their debt to tax collectors and how they wanted to hand me over to pay them off. So, I ran away. And I need a permanent home to stay at," Harry said, "I flashed into the forest and walked on the gravel pathway and came upon your hut."
Hagrid's expression darkened at the audacity of Vernon and Petunia to wish to sell Harry, but nonetheless nodded and asked, "I can do that. And what's your other request?"
"Well, I ran into this girl in the forest…and it turns out she's the princess who's the butt of all the rumors," Harry said, "Turns out her parents are locking her in the basement her whole life and only now did she perfect the spell for teleportation and got out of her room. I don't know if she will stay with us for good or if she will go back. But can she have a bed in my room so she always has a place to stay?"
Hagrid's eyes bulged out but nodded anyways and asked, "Where is she, anyways?"
"Right here," Alex said and removed the cloak from her head, "Sorry Harry."
Hagrid's eyes widened even further, if it was even possible. It seems like he had met the princess before, as noted by Harry, by the way the giant man was shaking in her presence.
"T-The princess…" Hagrid gasped and bowed at Alex's feet.
"Hagrid, you can stand and no need to be so formal with me," Alex motioned for Hagrid to stand up.
"I don't get it what brings ye here?" Hagrid asked once he settled into his seat.
"My basement got too stuffy," Alex sighed in irritation, "And mind you, I have never seen what the outside world looks like. All I had ever known was my basement. I don't even know what my own kingdom looks like."
"Never walked down the hallways of yer own palace?" Hagrid asked.
"Nope. The moment I was born I was dumped into the arms of my nanny and mother-like figure Harper Finkle, who raised me my whole life," Alex said.
"Then they shouldn't be too worried that you're here," Harry said.
"That may be true, but who knows? My parents might be scared that I escaped and prove their rumors to be false, which should be stupid because no one has ever seen me," Alex shrugged, "Hagrid, just promise me to lie to the guards if they come knocking on your door? Pretty please? And if you do so for me, I can help you in any way financially."
Hagrid looked at Harry's pleading face and sighed. Rubbing his forehead, he said, "I guess ye can stay. And don't worry about the money. Any friend of Harry's is a friend of mine."
Alex grinned and hugged Harry, whispering in his ear, "Thank you so much!"
"I will have yer room for ye, which will be shared with Harry's. I will try to adopt Harry legally, so he won't ever have to worry about being sold into slavery or somethin'. Also, if ye want to ever escape yer dingy basement, just teleport straight to yer room here. And do not leave the cottage. I know it sounds like imprisonment but if the guards find ye they can drag ye back," Hagrid said sternly.
"Anything is better than my filthy room in the basement!" Alex laughed and said, "Harry, let's race to your room!"
Watching the two children bulk it for their shared room, Hagrid shook his head in amusement and sat in his chair by the fireplace, wondering how the hell the King and Queen treat their daughter like shit.
It all happened so quickly. Harry was legally adopted by Hagrid, meaning the Dursley's had to sell their house and become homeless beggars (because Harry escaped and that means their mode of payment was gone).
Alex would come for a few days at a time and leave, afraid the guards would come hunting her down. But then when she found out that her parents could honestly care less, she would stay months at a time before going back to her horrible basement of a room, out of concern for Harper. Harper was the only one in the castle who truly cared for her.
However, as the years passed, Alex's happy demeanor melted away to show her anxious, sad and even a little fidgety. Harry noticed and led her to their bedroom and motioned for her to sit on his bed. Climbing in after her, he asked, "Something is bothering you. What's wrong?"
"My 18th birthday is coming up in 6 months," Alex said miserably, "And I am dreading it."
Now this statement threw him off. How can someone dread their own birthday? Well he did, but he didn't like his birthdays because the Dursley thought he could do 'extra chores' for his special day of the year while Dudley got lavished with hundreds of gifts (and the number of gifts grew exponentially each year). But now that he lives with Hagrid, he actually enjoys his birthday. He gets a homemade cake, a feast of food and two presents: one from Hagrid and one from Alex. Alex, too, got a mini celebration of her own just like Harry. So why would she dread her next one as well?
"Because I was born a girl, and not a boy, my parents wanted to get rid of me. But they can't murder me or hire someone to murder me. People would suspect they did so. So, they asked a local sorcerer specialized in the dark arts to cast a spell on me. He cursed me to eternal sleep that can only be awoken by a True Love's Kiss once I prick my finger on a spinning wheel," Alex said, "But there is a catch to this curse."
"What is the catch?" Harry asked, feeling dread creep up on him too as he listened to her words.
"The catch is two things. First, I can't simply avoid a spinning wheel. Once midnight strikes the day of my birthday, I will be under some kind of spell. Essentially, I will sleepwalk until I prick my finger on a spinning wheel. The second one is that he laid this curse upon me under the pretense that he doesn't believe in true love," Alex said, "So if he doesn't believe in true love, then how can a true love's kiss wake me up?"
"He's a villain, obviously," Harry said, taking her hand, "Villains don't believe in love like we do. Love, it's the magic that muggles possess. It doesn't matter whether you can wield magic or not. Love is a different power of magic that one can't manipulate by any means. Sure, you could create a love potion but it's useless compared to pure love."
"You sound like you love somebody," Alex said, feeling jealous at who the lucky girl could be on the receiving end of his affections.
Harry kissed her forehead and hugged her close, "You don't need to feel jealous. It has always been you. And if I have to, I will fight my way through just to make sure you wake up. I will die fighting for you."
With that, he sealed his promise with a kiss on the lips. A promise, that in 6 months, he would come and make sure she woke up to see another day of her life.