Well, there haven't been any Harry Potter/Firefly fusions, so I might as well be the first to write one. And it's a challenge to boot.
The man in the long, brown coat lowered the still-smoking gun, eyes blazing. This house on Union, one of the Core worlds, was a stately suburban dwelling owned by a local factory manager, who lived here with his wife and son. The browncoat, his robbery on the same factory having gone south, had had the rest of his gang split and hide until the angry buzzing of the Feds died down. He'd run through yards and climbed over fences, almost cornered by a few police cruisers, before stumbling into this particular domicile.
Here, a little boy, no more than eight, had hidden him in a little cupboard under the stairs, no questions asked. His large green eyes behind tattered, taped-up glasses had shown an understanding of the browncoat's plight, something that made the thief a bit cautious. But the child's fearful looking about, a rabbit among wolves, had given the man the impression that he and the boy weren't so different. They were both out of place in the plush, luxurious surroundings.
He hadn't come here looking to be a hero, of any kind. The job was supposed to be simple. But the moment the factory manager, with his boney wife and piggish son, arrived from the factory banquet they'd shot to hell, things stopped being simple for the man. The manager struck the boy across the face, for being out of his cupboard. For not hiding from the police. For talking to anyone. The screams and curses went on for exactly six seconds, before the man's fist met the manager's face, sending him crashing into the kitchen table. And to silence the screams of the horse-faced wife and chubby child, her shot a round into the ceiling.
"Now then… Mind telling me why you've got a young'in for a punch bag?" The question was cool and collected, but the rage burning in the man's eyes made clear the man's stance on the matter. The manager, wiping blood from his mouth, snarled back.
"You dare to break into my house, threaten my family, and strike me! I'll pull out every stop I can find to see you hanged!"
"Way I see it, yours is the neck ain't gonna stay whole much longer," the browncoat growled back. The manager laughed mockingly.
"Over him? As far as the law is concerned, he doesn't exist. He's mine, to do with as I please! And I don't even want him! He's a useless, conceited, ungrateful freak without an ounce of respect or worth!" It was the sad, believing expression on the boy's face that broke the browncoat into action once more, seizing the manager by his collar and shoving him against the wall, his pistol at the manager's sweaty forehead.
"Shame for you that I think different, dong ma?" The manager's purple faced exploded into blood as the man's pistol handle smashed his nose. Letting the overweight manager slump to the floor, over the screams of his family, the browncoat turned to the boy, staring in a mixture of confusion, shock, and a hint of repressed, anxious hope. The man grimaced, considering just how much more things were to go contrary to the plan, before gesturing with his head towards the door.
"Well… C'mon," he said simply, turning and walking out. He checked back a moment later, and saw, to his relief, that the boy was following closely, his expression one of disbelief, before, upon noticing the man's gaze, looked down at the ground again.
The browncoat kept the little one walking quickly, as they left the screaming house and cookie-cutter neighborhood far behind. They traveled in silence, coming to the outskirts of the city, where a landing pad with a large, rocking-horse shaped vessel sat patiently. The man, finally having enough of the boy's silence, stopped. The boy copied instantly.
"Hey… Don't you, you know… Talk?" Of course, he'd heard the boy talking before, but he felt the need to break this silence with a slight tinge of humor. The boy, still looking down at the ground, murmured," Yes, but they don't like me to."
"Who? Those Tyen-sah duh UH-muo? Listen; if you're coming with me, on my boat, you're gonna have to talk, got it? As much as you want or I can stand. Ain't got no use for mute folk."
"Yes sir," the boy nodded in understanding, still not looking up. The man sighed, before kneeling and angling the boy's chin up to meet him, face to face.
"Secondly, you've gotta look me in the eyes. Means I can see you." At the boy's confused look the man coughed.
"I mean, I can see you anyways, but not, you know… You. Er, I mean… Hey, what's your name? Speaking of you, and all."
"Harry. Harry James Potter," the boy murmured meekly, but (to the man's relief) with more conviction than before. The browncoat nodded.
"Good name. Mine's Malcom. Captain Malcom Reynolds. And that there? That's Serenity…"
Jayne Cobb frowned in annoyance, at the pieces of Vera scattered all over the kitchen table. The architect of the mess sat with the rifle's empty magazine and firing chamber assembly, fiddling with both to try and put them back together, green eyes focused.
"Gorramit, boy! You ain't got no sense! Breaking down Vera without no sense, that's what it is," he snapped. The boy, looking up fearfully, put down the pieces with a tremble.
"S-Sorry, Mr. Cobb, sir. I was just… Just trying to help," he murmured, head bent in shame. The merecenary's expression hardened at the memory of the reasons for the boy's reaction, before sighing and pulling up a chair.
"Just so's we don't have this problem no more, seems I'm gonna have to teach you the proper way to put these back together. Think you can handle it?" The boy looked back up, wearing that annoying expression of hopeful disbelief that made Jayne want to go back to Union and introduce those gorram Dursleys to Vera. He then smiled, a smle that Jayne had to admit he was getting used to.
"Yes sir. Thank you, Mr. Cobb, sir!"
"First things first—don't call me 'Mr. Cobb'. That's my dad, dong ma? Now then… Start with the butt and the things that won't go bang, first…"
"Rawr! Fear the might of my awesome roar!" Bellowed a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
"Never! You will fall before the strength of justice!" Returned a Triceratops, before it charged and struck the larger predator with it's horns.
"Argh! Mine is a dying cry! Argh… Ack… Guhhh…"
"Harry? Husband?" The pilot and the orphan looked up from the control panel, to the bemused expression on Zoe's face as she looked into the cockpit from the hatch door. Wash coughed slightly, pushing his toy dinosaurs out of sight.
"Er, just giving Harry here the lay of the land, dear," he smiled in slight embarrassment. Harry, his grin a guileless one, held up a brontosaurus proudly.
"I dunno, Harry. I think it's cute," Kaylee's reflection smiled next to Harry's in Inara's mirror, as the little boy glumly held up his bangs to expose the jagged scar on his brow.
"I don't know why it's even there," the boy sighed. "The Dursleys… They never told me about it. Or my parents. They never told me… Anything…" The mechanic, frowning in sympathy, held the little boy closer. He tensed, as he still did, even after a year on Serenity with Kaylee's hugs, Jayne's pats on the back, and Wash's playful shoves. Physical contact had meant nothing but pain to him in the past, and even in his new family, he was always expecting a painful blow to fall. But finally, he relaxed into Kaylee's warm embrace, sighing gently, as she stroked the scar comfortingly.
"It's allright. None of us… We ain't going nowhere…"
"Three times three is…"
"Good. Four times four?"
"Five times five?"
"Harry!" The little boy jumped in shock, as Inara looked up from the cue cards with an annoyed expression on her face. The captain was standing in the Companion's shuttle, arms crossed, as he glared.
"Didn't I tell you not to come in here?" Mal asked in his "sergeant" voice. The orphan nodded solemnly.
"Mal-!" Inara began, but Harry went in first.
"I'm sorry, Mal! Inara was teaching me math, and I wanted to learn more. I only got to addition in school," he explained, looking plaintive. Mal raised an eyebrow. The boy had never asked for anything, really—He'd insisted on cooking and cleaning to pay his way, no matter what anyone else said. But here, he was finally wanting something for his own.
"Can I please continue? Please?" Inara frowned at the captain.
"I'm not going to be teaching him anything for you to find offense at, Captain. And I'm not going to charge tuition." An amused eyebrow rose on her face. "Unless you want to pay me to teach him?"
"No thank you. Harry? Just go right on learning anything you want. Aside from what might provoke me into shooting Inara."
"What would that be?" Harry asked, curious and innocent. Inara smiled slightly, shaking her head.
"I think we'll save that discussion for when you're older…"
More to come, but first, the challenge details:
The mission is to write several little drabbles, no less than 100 words, no more than 1,000, with little snapshots of what Harry's life would have been like were he raised by the crew of Serenity. In this universe, the characters and circumstances are exactly the same as in the HP books—just set in the Alliance System of the 25th century. The magic world is still hidden and was moved from Earth along with the Muggles. The wizards and goblins hid a few moons and planets in the system magically where they could live in peace, one such moon being the home of Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. Apparation, Floo, and Portkey travel is between planets, but no more dangerous than it was in the 20th century on Earth. Plenty of magical creatures were brought along and were settled onto new worlds as well. Quidditch is still the biggest sport there is. They do occasionally take ships, but generally prefer non-vehicular transportation. Name, location, and people alterations are entirely up to the writer.
With these things in mind, I challenge any Firefly or Harry Potter author to write a few drabbles (as many or few as you like) about how Harry and the other characters, including Serenity's crew, might proceed in such a world. This is my starting drabble set. You can write from any point in time of the two series; continue from where my drabbles start, or come up with your own beginning. Pairings (or lack thereof) are up to the author's discretion, though I do ask a few things if you decide to include romance: No River/Jayne, Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione, Harry/Snape, Harry/Voldemort, or Harry/Draco. Any other slash or het pairings are allowed. Good luck!
Edited 4/15/06: Due to very reasonable critiques that Mal got Serenity four years ago (which would make Harry seven or eight at the time), I have changed Harry's age when he joins Serenity accordingly.