A/N: Hello all! This is the beginning of my It Only Takes a Drop of Blood story/novel-length fanfic. This was inspired by Celebony's Recnac Transfaerso, but I am not attempting to copy her works. Hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: This is the disclaimer for the entire fanfic. Harry Potter and all its contents belong to Ms. J.K. Rowling. I just like to play with her characters.
It Only Takes A Drop of Blood
Chapter 1: Summer
This attic hasn't been cleaned in at least fifteen years, Harry thought, coughing as dust flew into his mouth. The box he had been lifting shifted in his arms as objects moved around inside. He tried not to breathe in until he had set it down on the other side of the room.
He wheezed in a breath and wiped the trickling sweat off his brow. The heat of the room was stifling, as was the dirty air. When he had first come into the attic, he had started by opening all the windows to let most of the dust out, but at the moment, it seemed that he had been largely unsuccessful.
He pulled against the off-white, loose-fitting shirt. The sweat had rolled down his back and the itchiness of it was overwhelming his senses. The wet shirt clung unpleasantly and he grimaced.
Sighing, he grabbed another box and moved it to the larger pile on the other side of the attic. This one wasn't as heavy but it was most certainly dustier than the former. He set it down with a heavy thump and rolled his shoulders painfully. He felt a tickling on the back of his hand and he looked down at it.
A small, nondescript spider was making its way up his arm. He brushed it off and went back to cleaning the attic. After scrubbing a stubborn stain under the south facing window, Harry sat back on his haunches and wiped his sweaty face with the back of his hand. He felt drenched and desperately wanted a shower.
He stood up, swaying as white spots lit in front of his eyes. He closed them and braced himself against the window, breathing in the fresh air. Once settled he trudged out the door, his worn trainers squeaking against the fresh wood polish on the floor. The misshapen, tottering piles of dusty boxes were organized into logical piles on one side of the attic, with plenty of room for more Dursley 'heirlooms'.
Just as he was about to duck his head and crawl out of the attic hatch, his eyes strayed onto the one item in the attic that seemed out of place. He had eyed it earlier, when sorting. It was made of wood, almost like a square trunk without fastenings of any sort. It was locked with a padlock in the front and seemed very Mugglish; except for the carving on the top.
To any Muggle, it would seem like just a long scratch made by a negligent carpenter. But to Harry, the crevice looked long enough to fit a wand. He crouched next to the trunk and gingerly fingered the rough wood. Pulling out the wand stuck in his baggy jeans, Harry held it up to the crevice. Harry's wand was nearly an inch longer. He sighed dejectedly and sat back on his heels, his ankles burning. His wand was clutched loosely in his hands and he hung his head. The heat must be getting to me.
Harry put his wand on the trunk and rubbed his stinging eyes. He was about to stand when he heard something. He looked at the trunk and saw his wand in the crevice. It fit perfectly.
The lock had clicked open on the mysterious trunk. Unable to hold back his curiosity, Harry lifted the heavy lid and looked inside.
The first thing he saw as the musty air hit him was a small bag. It was a velvet drawstring bag and its contents clinked together when he picked it up. Tentatively, Harry opened it and let the objects fall into his open hand. Cool metal caressed his palm. They were rings. He picked them up and peered at them. Golden in colour, one was sized for a man, the other for a woman. Harry's breath caught in his chest.
It took a wand to open this trunk and he found a pair of wedding rings inside. His parents' wedding rings.
Harry held them reverently and looked at the papers underneath the rings. One stack of parchment was bound together with twine; it was addressed to him. Underneath that were two leather-bound books. The last thing in the trunk was a smooth, grey wand. Harry touched it carefully. It had belonged to one of his parents.
Glancing at all the items around him, Harry made a quick decision. His heels burning, he tucked the letters, books, wand and rings back into the trunk and shut the lid. The lock snapped and his wand popped cleanly out of the top, like it had never been stuck in the first place. The pressure on his shoulders eased with relief.
He pocketed the latter and grabbed the trunk, standing up slowly, his legs aching. Harry carefully stole down the stairs, glancing every which way for his relatives. Seeing no one, he dashed into his room and shut the door. His head turned wildly, trying to find the right place to hide it. Finally he shoved the trunk into the rickety wardrobe and shut the door.
Wiping off his wet forehead, Harry went to wash up, the urge to paw through the trunk insatiable. He'd just have to wait until evening.
Harry heard his uncle yelling up the stairs and knew that he had to move. He sighed heavily and got up, his muscles protesting every movement. Trudging down the stairs, Harry heard Uncle Vernon's voice reverberate again in his skull.
Knowing that it was useless to complain, Harry took the ladle Aunt Petunia held out to him and started stirring the stew. He ignored the mutterings about how ungrateful he was and how they wished he would've died with his parents. They aren't worth it. Instead, Harry thought about Monday and his next week of work.
The day after his relatives had picked him up from Kings Cross, Uncle Vernon had ordered him to get a job. Harry protested, feeding some line about Sirius, but his uncle turned a puce colour and his hand twitched. Just as he bolted out of the room, one of Aunt Petunia's figurines hit the wall where his head had been.
After that, Harry had been reluctant to argue. While he wouldn't see the pay for his work, at least the job would keep him away from the Dursleys and Dudley's gang. So he had perused the newspaper for possible jobs. Most of the advertisements were looking for teenagers with resumes and references; but there was one position that didn't.
A doctor at the local hospital wanted a young man to help him in his office for the summer. Harry had gone straight to the hospital and inquired about the position. The doctor, Jon Taylor, had agreed to hire him since no other applicants had come forward.
Monday would start Harry's second week of working and he was already anticipating it. It was a relief to get away from his relatives for hours on end; the lack of receiving accusing looks and deriding comments was a bonus. And work kept his mind off of Voldemort and the war.
Harry rolled his shoulders and spooned the stew onto plates. Two large helpings, one medium and one small. Dudley was still restricted to his diet, which meant that Harry was as well. He set the table and carried the rest of the food over. The Dursleys were already sitting down and digging in. Harry refrained from rolling his eyes as he ate his dinner. Dudley gulped his down greedily and his piggy eyes watched Harry's plate. The young wizard ate faster, hoping that he could finish soon and go up to his room.
Fortunately for Harry, the meal finished and the dishes were done, leaving him free to escape. He thundered up the stairs and plopped down on his creaky mattress. He briefly considered examining the trunk, but his exhaustion caught up with him and he fell asleep.
Harry glared at the alarm beeping shrilly on the side table. The misshapen plastic told him that it was 4:30 in the morning and time for him to wake up. He struck the damned thing with his fist and rolled over in the scratchy sheets, trying to coax himself up.
Finally, unable to avoid it any longer, Harry swung his legs out of bed and got up with a small groan. The mattress was lumpy and many of the springs were broken, leaving him with a crick in his neck and knots in his back every morning. He stretched and yawned widely, feeling his muscles relax a bit when he was through. His extremities were tingling with warmth as he threw Dudley's cast-offs on and stumbled downstairs.
Harry blinked his eyes, even though clearing his vision would do nothing to help him see in the dark. The sun had not yet risen so the whispering shadows covered every surface of the home. Harry felt the smooth wood of the cupboard as he tried fruitlessly to find the handle. Finally he felt cool metal and turned his hand. The door swung open and nearly hit Harry in the face; regardless, he pulled out a tray of chemicals and a roll of kitchen paper.
Quietly and with only a torch to light his way, Harry began to wash the windows. It was hard to see the spots he missed because Aunt Petunia wouldn't let him shine the light directly at the windows. She was afraid that the neighbours would see. Once that task was complete, he moved on to dusting all the surfaces on the first floor and sweeping or mopping what he could.
Wiping the trickling sweat off his forehead, Harry looked through the clean windows at the sun just poking up beyond the horizon. It was six o'clock and he had to wash up before cooking breakfast. He stowed the cleaning items in the cupboard and quickly washed, smelling his hands to check that the chemicals were gone. He hated the strong, faux clean scent of disinfectants.
Harry pulled out Aunt Petunia's favourite cast iron skillet. She wanted him to prepare the eggs, a rasher of bacon and toast with jam. Complying, Harry started cooking with an ease born from experience. Soon the warm smell of scrambled eggs, sizzling bacon and crispy buttered toast wafted around Harry. And from the thumps he heard upstairs, it was clear that the Dursleys had smelled it too.
He quickly munched on the last of a crisp and juicy bacon strip he had saved for himself, hoping that his aunt wouldn't catch him eating. She thought it was unsanitary for him to eat as he cooked. Harry heard the clicking of her shoes before he saw her bony neck and head craning around the kitchen door.
She raised an eyebrow and barked at him. "Vernon will be down in a moment. Don't burn anything!"
"Yes Aunt Petunia," Harry droned dully as he scooped the eggs onto a platter. She disappeared as he manoeuvred a stack of buttered toast with jam onto the table.
The bacon sizzled and a burnt smell wafted gently from the pan. He rushed to it and scooped out the meat, checking it carefully. The edges were only slightly singed black and he sighed, cutting off the burnt edges. The Dursleys wouldn't eat black bacon. Thankful that he hadn't completely ruined breakfast, Harry cleaned up.
Once even the dishrag was hung, Harry left the kitchen with a slice of toast in hand. He trudged upstairs, careful not to get crumbs anywhere for fear of Aunt Petunia's wrath, and changed into more presentable clothes. Time to go to work.
With Dudley's old backpack over his shoulder and a cap on his head to cover the unwieldy hair, Harry trudged to the bus stop, his trainers catching uncomfortably on the cracks in the street. The Muggle bus stop was next to the park so he sat on the bench there, looking wistfully at the swings.
He liked sitting there, just to get time to think. It was soothing to rock back and forth, feeling the wind in his hair. He could almost imagine a sleek broom under him and the comfortable pressure of wind hitting his face.
Harry was startled out of his daydream when the blue bus screeched to a halt in front of him. He walked through the doors that had opened with a swish and a gust of air, showing his pass to the driver. Uncle Vernon had turned purple when Harry asked for the money to buy a bus pass for the summer, but conceded that it was better than having to drive Harry or hear the neighbours talk if they saw him walking to the city and back every day.
He sat down on a squeaky leather seat and rolled his aching shoulders. The bus would take another hour to get to the city, so he would have to just sit there until then. Harry wished he could read one of his school books, but his relatives wouldn't stand for it at all. So he was left to boredom. He let his gaze travel to the scenery outside and his mind wander.
The bus screeched and tossed Harry forward. He shook himself and looked around; it was his stop. Getting out on shaky legs, he nodded at the driver and ambled to the hospital, his feet feeling heavy with every step he took. His head was in a fog and he tried to shake himself out of the daze.
People were walking everywhere, bumping into each other and chatting constantly. It was a pleasant hum that soothed Harry. He walked to the hospital and made to open the door when it did so automatically. He stopped and stared for a moment before remembering: he was in the Muggle world and the doors could open by themselves.
Harry shook his head in consternation and walked through. He really had been in the magical world for too long.
The teen took the lift up to the sixth floor, watching Muggles enter and exit the whirring contraption. When it opened with a ding at his floor, Harry got off and walked to Taylor's office, his trainers squeaking against the clean marble.
The ward was pure silence and smelled strongly of disinfectant. Harry was reminded of the Hogwarts Hospital Wing every time he entered the hall. It was just as white and quiet.
Harry entered Taylor's office and set his bag down in a corner. The man wasn't in, likely seeing patients, so he started on the filing and tidying. Taylor's former assistant was sacked two months before for laundering money. As a result, most of the paperwork and items in the office were in disarray and it was up to Harry to neaten it all.
He couldn't help thinking that the job was more suited for Hermione than for him. Harry could just see her puttering around like Mrs. Weasley in a kitchen, moving papers into boxes and looking hungrily at the books all around the office. He imagined Ron shaking his head at her fervour and avoiding the work all together.
Harry desperately wished he could talk to them. It felt like ages since he had seen them, even though it had only been little more than a week. He sighed and looked around the office. There was much work to be done.
He had already delivered and sorted the patient files downstairs. He now had to prepare the files from the past year and deliver them. Taylor was not organized in the slightest. He seemed quite absentminded, actually.
Harry looked up when a man walked in. He was in his forties, with dark blond hair and sharp blue eyes. Taylor was tall and had crooked frames that rested on the bridge of his nose. The usually neat hair was tousled and a file was in his hands.
"Hello sir," Harry said quietly, turning back to his work. He felt like McGonagall had caught him sleeping in class.
Taylor grunted, sitting down at his desk. He did not even look up to acknowledge Harry as he focused on the papers in front of him. A pencil was stuck behind his ear and a pen was resting in his fingers.
Harry furrowed his brow and tried to read over Taylor's shoulder, his curiosity getting the better of him. The words were all very long and complicated so he couldn't make out the exact problem, but it seemed as if the patient's medication had stopped working.
Taylor tapped his pen against the desk in thought and Harry turned around, trying to pretend like he was retrieving something from the bookcase. He could smell the mustiness of the books; they hadn't been used recently.
"Boy," Taylor spoke suddenly, making Harry jump. "Get me Halperin's Paediatric Radiation Oncology. The second edition."
Harry looked at the man and nodded. Darting to the bookshelves, he skimmed the texts until he found the right book. He pulled it out and put it in Taylor's waiting hand. "There you go sir," he said quietly.
Taylor grunted and began skimming the text. Harry rolled his eyes and went back to work. It was like researching with Hermione.
The two worked in silence until the rumbling of Harry's stomach pervaded the room. Taylor looked up, confused, until he saw the teen blush and mumble an apology. The man shook his head.
"Nonsense. Go eat," he ordered kindly.
Harry nodded slowly. "Sir… would you like to join me?" he offered carefully. Taylor didn't look like he wanted to be disturbed, but since he already had been…
Taylor looked up at the teenager and thought for a moment. He sighed and got up. "Alright. I can't seem to figure this out anyway. Maybe some food will help," he reasoned aloud.
Harry smiled and grabbed his bag. He had already packed something since his relatives didn't want to waste money at the refectory.
Taylor and Harry took the lift to the staff refectory, a small room that was just as white as the rest of the hospital. Harry's nose perked up at the smell of hot soups and juicy sandwiches. He reluctantly sat down at a table and pulled out his lunch sack. Taylor had opted for buying tomato soup, bread and fruit. Harry focused on eating his baloney on rye, imagining that he was eating treacle tart instead.
The doctor eyed the thin teen in front of him and tried not to be terribly suspicious. But really, what sort of teenage boy only ate a sandwich for lunch. When Potter took another bite, he eyed a round bruise on his left arm. It looked fresh.
Taylor shook off his worry. He was just overreacting. The boy was fine. He soon finished his soup and stood, seeing that the boy was done as well.
"Back to work," he declared, waiting for Potter to stand as well.
Harry got up and nodded at Taylor. He was a good man, just not friendly. Harry figured that he had heard the rumours about the insane and incurably criminal Potter boy; that would be enough to deter anyone from being kind.
He rolled his right shoulder as a pulling sensation originated from the muscles under his shoulders and neck. Wincing slightly, Harry followed Taylor into the lift and waited until they reached the sixth floor.
Taylor glanced at the boy standing next to him. He was short and thin, but he was sure that the boy was in for a growth spurt soon. He was due one, at least. The boy's clothes hung off him slightly and he had the dark bags of exhaustion under his eyes. Potter's voice had already changed and he was pale; not into sports then. The glasses the boy wore were heavily duck taped and slightly bent.
The doctor's brow furrowed. All the apparent signs were pointing to a depression of sorts and physical beatings of some kind. Taylor hoped that the glasses and bruise were simply results of bullies or attacking gangs, but the weight loss and exhaustion belied other reasons. He prayed that he didn't have an abuse case on his hands; that would get messy.
The lift dropped the two off at their floor and Taylor eyed Potter's gait. His movement was odd, like he was rolling side to side. The doctor's eyes narrowed. There was more to this than met the eye.
Harry looked up from the file he was reading to see Taylor staring at him again. The doctor's eyes quickly trailed away but when Harry looked down, the hair on the back of his neck rose; someone was watching him.
He really hated it when people gazed dumbly at him, especially when their eyes flickered up to his scar. Harry hoped that Taylor's curiosity had nothing to do with the magical world. He looked up again and saw the doctor's eyes blink away.
Taylor nearly blushed when the Potter boy caught him staring again. He really ought to go back to helping his patients instead of focusing on the curious puzzle that was Harry Potter. But he couldn't seem to get his mind off the odd things he had witnessed. The bruises, weight loss, exhaustion and uneven gait…. It had to be a medical problem!
Finally, he couldn't contain himself. "Potter, stand up," he said abruptly.
Harry rose an eyebrow and his shoulders tensed uncomfortably. He could feel the hair on the back of his neck rise up. When Taylor looked impatient, Harry stood on legs that felt weak under him and dropped the papers in his chair.
Taylor crossed the distance between them in two strides and looked him over. Harry felt like Britain's newest Naturist.
"What?" Harry asked, backing away from the doctor. "What are you doing?"
"Show me your arms," Taylor said curtly, reaching out for them.
Hesitantly, the boy held them up. Taylor pushed back the sleeves and examined them. They were riddled with bruises.
"Have you seen these before?" the doctor asked, looking through his spectacles. He lightly touched a bruise and made a discontented noise.
"No!" Harry said defensively. "It was dark when I dressed this morning. I didn't see anything. And they weren't there last night either."
He peered at his arms, completely puzzled. The bruises didn't hurt – not like the ones he got from Dudley and his gang – and Harry had no recollection of being injured recently. Moreover, the bruises were all fresh; they couldn't have been more than ten hours old.
"Potter, I want you to go see your physician," Taylor said. "Make an appointment for tomorrow or the day after. I'll give you the time off, but by God, get this checked."
Harry was dumbfounded, but nodded automatically. "Yeah, of course," he said quietly. He pushed his sleeves down. "Thanks."
Taylor nodded curtly and strode back to his desk. Harry went back to work, but couldn't concentrate. Thoughts raced around in his head, jumping from Taylor's interest to the order to see a doctor.
His back ached with tension and he rolled his shoulders to relieve the pressure. He tried to focus his attention on arranging the files and marginally succeeded.
Eventually it was time to return to Privet Drive, so Harry bid the doctor farewell and walked out the door, backpack over his shoulder. His trainers squeaked against the floor and he shuddered at the silence surrounding him.
Harry entered the lift and let it carry him to the first floor. He left the building, ignoring the automatic doors and the various people swarming around him, and went to the bus stop. The blue bus screeched to a stop and Harry trudged up the steps. He greeted the driver and plopped into a seat.
His head resting wearily against the window, Harry dozed. An old lady sat in the seat next to him and placed her bright purple handbag between them. When Harry's stop arrived, he mumbled an apology and squeezed past her to get off the bus. The woman didn't say anything; she just gave him a toothless smile.
Harry trudged off the bus and then proceeded to walk to Privet Drive. His limbs were heavy and he yawned quite a few times before he reached the door. Letting himself in, he went to his room and left his backpack and trainers on the floor. He looked longingly at the bed, but he knew that his aunt would call him down to make dinner any minute.
Harry yawned widely and stretched. He felt blood rush into his arms, legs and back, making him feel more awake than he was. Giving up, Harry left the room and went downstairs to cook dinner.
The door opened in the smallest bedroom and Harry entered, dead on his feet. He shrugged off his shirt, the fibers feeling uncomfortable against his oversensitive skin. He fell into bed, his glasses in his hand and his eyes closed. Harry's body relaxed and his breathing evened out. He was asleep.
End of Chapter 1.