As long as Harry had been alive, his relatives had hated him. Well, he was just getting to an age to think about fixing that problem.
Harry was seven, after all. Plenty big enough for real work.* Besides, he was already scruffy, and the street toughs that hung out at the local high school only liked to think they were mean.
Harry swaggered up to the group of five lanky juniors and seniors, and they looked back, amused. "What you doin' here kid?"
"How much will you give me for a view of her underpants?" Harry said, nodding at one of the Pretty Cheerleaders, currently in the school uniform.
"I'm in for half a quid." Said one of the boys (named Darrell).
"Me too." said Sammy.
"You figure you won't get caught, kid?" Richie said, smiling at him, "I'll give you a second quid if you'll do the blonde."
"Maybe tommorrow," Harry said, smiling. "I won't be blamed if I accidentally flip up one girl's skirt, but..."
The boys watched as the lithe, young boy ran off, and whistled appreciatively at the union jack pants that she wore. The girl blushed, but didn't seem too upset.
The next day, Harry showed up in a leather jacket, aping the older boys a bit.
"I think he fits in," Ritchie said, smiling.
"Hides the bruises better, too." Harry chipped in, not understanding when the other boys' faces darkened at that.
"Yeah, let's see if he can grab some fags from the druggist." Sammy said.
"Better send someone with him, don't want the pantser getting caught for a pack of fags."
By the time summer hit, Dudley and his friends mostly steered clear of Harry. Harry hadn't had to do any chores since he'd used thermite on the roses. That was burning for a while, and drew quite a crowd. He had marshmallows, and even with Aunt Petunia shrieking, he realized his reputation couldn't get any lower.
The Dursleys didn't mind, so long as he wasn't home except for sleeping and was quiet about it, like. He'd leave early - too early for the street ruffians to be about. Oh, but they'd have laughed at him. He'd run errands for the local druggist (the same one he often was given missions to 'steal' from), and they got along fine. Of course, that might be because part of his pay was the fags he 'stole'. The kindly old man didn't ask questions, and that was what Harry liked most about him.
A year later, Dudley's friend Piers had gotten the bright idea to steal from the druggist and say it was Harry (who worked there, so it was plausible). Harry stood, shaking, and trying not to cry, as the druggist calmly ushered both boys into the back. "Now, I don't have no security camera." the druggist said, staring with those kind eyes at Harry, "And this boy says he saw you. What do you have to say?"
"I didn't do it! I wouldn't do it! You've been good to me, sir!" Harry said.
"That I have. Well, if you didn't do it, who did?" The druggist said, straightening up to his full height.
"He did, or his friends! My cousin's his friend, and he's never liked me sir. Always wants me in trouble." Harry said, succinctly.
"Yeah, well, I only got this one, for now," The druggist said, putting his eyes on Piers. "Harry, go call the bobbies."
Harry learned a valuable lesson that day, about trust and loyalty. Because, after Piers was gone, the druggist sat down with him, "I understand, you know. If you were hungry, or something, and needed to steal-" Those blue eyes looked at Harry's green, and said firmly, "You'd pay it back. I wouldn't turn you in. There's honesty, and then there's deception, and they fit together better than you think."
Todd smiled, a bit of a mean smile, and said, "Hey, you think the kid could learn to fight?"
"Yeah, I wager he could," Jesse smiled back, the two new juniors enjoying the flunkie they'd inherited. They'd look out for him, of course - wouldn't do to let the nine year old get hurt. That'd look bad.
"Here," Eddie said, passing over a switchblade.
"For me?" Harry asked, who'd been observing the backalley fights they had.
"Yeah, you can handle it. Besides, we may need backup." Todd said. Harry knew that was ridiculous, because their streets weren't nearly so precious as that any other gang would want them, but still... it felt good to be able to protect what's theirs.
When he wasn't working, Harry spent some of his time in the library, and that's where he read about rabid creatures. So when he saw an owl bearing down on his house, in his suburban neighborhood, his throwing knife materialized in his hand. A single toss, and he'd made short work of the beast.
But was it his imagination that it was headed towards him?
[a/n: every story about Harry being a criminal seems to start with him running away. Here, he's just being one of the local malcontents. A sneak thief, a pickpocket, and a slip of a fighter.
Leave a review? Betcha can't guess what house he'll be in.]
*children can be put to work as young as age 3. don't judge the abused kid for working with what he's got.