Author's Notes: This is something of a sequel to "Nobody's Girl". You do not necessarily have to read that story to understand this one, but reading it will help you to understand the world this story takes place in (as they are both set in the same Alternate Universe). This story takes place around the same time as "Nobody's Girl", and focuses more on the Harry and the Weasley family. Also, I hope to elaborate more on the world itself in this installment. As always, comments, questions, suggestions and complaints are very welcome. ^_^
Also, readers of "Nobody's Girl" should be aware that I had finished that story before I began posting it here, which explains how I posted the chapters so fast. Since I'm just starting on this one, be prepared to wait a while between chapters since I'm so slow at writing.
Ron Weasley looked frantically around in the crowded streets, his dark eyes roaming over the Witches and Wizards hustling about, trying desperately to pick out a face amongst them. "Ginny!" he called loudly, his voice barely rising above the constant hum of endless conversations going on at once.
Merchants lined the streets, yelling out for people to come and look at their goods. Children cried for their parents to buy them things. Obnoxious, high-class Wizards stood in groups, chuckling and talking about business-related things. Ron felt hopeless. It was no use yelling for his sister in this crowd.
He walked briskly up and down the streets, his head turning back and forth, looking in every direction. It was unfortunate that she was wearing her large green hat today, otherwise pointing out her vivid red hair would have been easy. He cursed himself for turning his back on her. She was sixteen, beautiful, and extremely friendly. How hard would it be for some drunken, horny old Wizard to drag her into an alley and do unspeakable things to her? He shook his head. He couldn't let himself think about that. He just had to find her.
His parents had sent him out to take Ginny to get her schoolbooks. They were busy with this and that, and had not had time to take her themselves. At eighteen, they expected Ron to be responsible enough to handle it. They were wrong, he thought bitterly.
With some hesitation, Ron began walking toward the darker side of town, where illegal affairs were too common for the Ministry to even attempt to stop. He wasn't comfortable there, having only been there twice before in his life, but worry for Ginny gave him the courage to go on. He had to find her.
He tried to walk as if he were not afraid. Showing fear was like a magnet for an attack of some sort. He pulled the hood of his cloak over his head, his face nearly disappearing into shadow. Being somewhat tall and dark, he didn't have much trouble fitting in. He fingered his wand in his pocket, drawing security from its presence and readying some spells in his mind in case of danger.
As he walked past an alley, something caught his eye. Movement. There were piles of dirty blankets, moving around as if something was trapped beneath them. Though it was illogical, somewhere in his worried mind he thought that it could have been Ginny. He ran down the alley and began tearing the blankets away. Finally a thin figure came into view.
It was a boy, or so Ron assumed. It was somewhat small and pale, clothed in dirty rags. It shifted uncomfortably in the absence of blankets. It was a chilly morning after all. His hair was jet black and wildly spread across his face. Slowly the boy's eyes opened, and Ron immediately knew the boy was blind. The emerald eyes were beautiful, yet empty as they shifted about.
"Who's there?" the boy asked, sitting up quickly.
"Um… sorry about that… I was looking for someone…"
"Who are you?"
Ron sighed. He didn't have time for this. "My name's Ron. I have to go, I'm looking for my sister."
"Ron Weasley?" the boy asked suddenly.
Ron froze. "How do you know my last name?"
The boy stood up and dusted himself off. "Someone dragged a girl by here. I heard her crying 'You can't do this! I'm a Weasley! My brother Ron is with me and he'll be coming for me any minute!' or something to that effect."
Ron stared at him in disbelief. Suddenly his worst fears had come true. He grabbed the boy by the shoulders. "Where did they take her?!"
The boy shrugged. "Sorry, didn't quite see that part."
"But you had to have heard something! Please, if anything happened to Ginny I'd die!"
The boy pushed Ron's hands away. "I know what you are," he said with a frown, "you're a fancy Pure-blood from a fancy family. You'd spit in my face if I asked you for help!"
Ron stood back with wide eyes. "That's not true! I'm not that kind of Pure-blood!"
The boy waved dismissively. "Say what you want, it makes no difference to me. But, for that girl, I'll tell you where they went."
"For Ginny… why?"
"I'm not one hundred percent blind, you know. I see flashes, and I saw where they took her."
The boy stepped casually down the alley, never stumbling despite his disability. He was obviously used to these streets. "There's a harem right down the next alley, and they do their dealings in a pub. Did you know there's a severe shortage of redheads around here?"
Ron reflexively straightened his hood over his head, then remembered that the boy probably couldn't see his hair anyway. "So how dangerous is it? Anything I should know before I go busting in there?"
"You don't go busting in there. You'd be dead before you could draw your wand. … You do have a wand, don't you?"
"Of course I do! So how do I get Ginny back?"
The boy led Ron across the street and along a crumbling stone wall. He motioned to the left. "It's over there. But you have to do this with subtlety. You can't just run in there and rescue your sister. You have to buy her."
Ron's mouth dropped open. "Buy her?! But she's my sister! Why should I have to buy her?!"
"Do you want me to tell you exactly what will happen if you don't? You'll go in there, looking suspicious, and they'll immediately draw their wands. You'll try to take Ginny away from them and they'll kill you right in front of her, then sell her to the next sleazy bastard who comes in. Is that what you want?"
Ron frowned. "Okay. Since you put it that way."
The boy nodded. "Here's what you have to do: Walk in casually, don't look nervous or scared. Scan the room as if you're looking for something, but not desperate to find it. Spot Ginny and stride over. Tell them you're looking for a whore, and you're particularly interested in redheads. Show them you have some money, then begin negotiating the price."
"But Ginny will call out to me as soon a she sees me."
"No she won't. As soon as they take girls in there, they put a silencing curse on them. She won't be able to speak a word."
Ron nodded. Then looked at the boy thoughtfully. "How do you know all this?"
"I've spent seventeen years on these streets. I know everything about this place."
"Oh, you're a Mudbl- … I mean, you're a Muggle-born."
"I know what you meant. And do you think I'd be free if I were a Mudblood? I'm a half-blood."
"Oh," Ron said, going a bit red. "What's your name?"
"Why should I tell you?"
"You know mine."
The boy stared blankly in Ron's direction. "Harry Potter."
"Thanks for helping me, Harry," Ron said warmly, then stood up and made his way over to the run-down pub across the street. He took a deep breath, opened the doors, and walked inside as calmly as he could. He sat down near the bar and began looking around. Most of the people there were your average-looking thugs: long, greasy hair, beer bellies, and tattered robes. Suddenly he caught sight of Ginny, sitting on a wooden chair surrounded by three large men. She looked terribly frightened, eyes wide and wet.
He walked over slowly, and her eyes met his. She opened her mouth, but no sound came out. He tried to speak with his eyes that he was there to save her, but he didn't think it was working. He wondered if eye-reading was even an actual practice.
The three thugs looked up at him with dark, menacing eyes. "Interested in something?" one of them asked in a rough voice, throwing an arm around Ginny.
"Yes, I've been looking for a redhead, and I see you've found a lovely one here."
Ginny immediately seemed to understand what was going on, and remained still. Her eyes looked trusting and aware. Ron began to think there was something to eye-reading after all. Another of the men stood up and pulled Ginny to her feet. "She's definitely a nice one, she is. Young, soft, even a Pure-blood!"
Ron reached out and stroked a strand of Ginny's hair. "Where did you find something so beautiful?" He prayed to God that he didn't sound fake.
"We don't reveal our sources," he answered with a chuckle. Then he shoved Ginny practically into Ron's arms. "Go ahead then, boy. Check out the merchandise."
Ron blinked, then realized what the man was talking about. He knew he was going red, and he hoped they would simply think he was some naïve rich-boy virgin. "I'm already impressed with her. How much do you want?"
The third man stood up, glowering at Ron suspiciously. "That's not the way we deal, boy. We always make sure the customer is getting what he wants." He reached around Ginny from behind and pulled her robe open, exposing a thin, white lace bra. "Have a feel before you decide."
It was Ginny's turn to go red, though Ron was sure his shade of scarlet was darker than hers. "As I said, I'm already quite impressed with her," he told them, his voice less steady than he'd hoped for.
The third man grabbed Ron's right hand and pressed it against Ginny's breast. "Nice, isn't she? Want to check out the lower parts?"
Ron jerked his hand away. "I'll take her," he said, digging around in his pockets for some money. He pulled out a handful and shoved it into their faces. The three of them looked at him with wide eyes, then looked at each other. The third man grabbed the money, looking as if he'd decided that he didn't care who Ron was, as long as he shelled out the cash. Another of the men pulled out his wand and muttered something inaudible, then went straight back to counting the money.
Ginny's voice returned, but she wisely said nothing until they were outside of the pub. She pulled her robe tightly around herself. "That was smooth," she said with a nearly invisible smile.
Ron narrowed his eyes. "I saved you, didn't I? Don't complain about how I did it."
Ginny laughed and kissed his cheek. "My knight in shining armor," she said cheerfully, "Though I didn't expect you to fondle me."
"Well, I didn't go in there with the intent to molest my sister," he said irritably.
Ginny laughed again, then stopped suddenly when Ron paused and cast a gaze across the street, where a thin, dark-haired boy was leaning against a wall. "Do you know him?" she asked.
"Uh… sort of. He helped me find you," Ron answered.
"Oh? I have two knights now? Let's go and thank him."
Ginny walked over to Harry, smiling brightly. "Hey there! I heard you helped my brother out! Thanks!"
Harry shrugged his shoulders. "Yeah, I'm the friendly alley-way Super-trash. I go around doing good deeds and getting shit in return for it."
Ginny's smile faded. "You're getting a token of gratitude. What else do you want? Money? I'm sure I can arrange something."
"No thanks. I'm sure I'd get to keep it for a whole ten seconds before someone beat me down and took it away from me."
Ron had walked over at this point. "Then what can we do for you? Food? Clothes?"
"Shelter?" Ginny asked. Ron gave her a "shut up!" look.
Harry looked thoughtfully into the blank space between Ron and Ginny. "Are you offering me a place to stay?"
Ron said "Not exactly" just as Ginny was saying "Yes".
Harry folded his arms across his chest. "Which is it?"
Ron sighed. "I could talk to my dad about hiring you. You are a half-blood after all, or so you say."
Harry ignored the last part. "Hire me? As a servant?"
"That's a great idea!" said Ginny, "We could use a servant or two! We only had one for years and he recently retired. Our father treats servants kindly and pays well, plus you get three meals a day and a room of your own at our house."
Harry smiled, the first time they'd seen him do so. Ron decided that Harry's smile wasn't very attractive, especially since it seemed devious somehow. "I'll take the job," Harry said, holding out his hand and motioning for them to lead them back to their home.