Dislaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or The Hobbit. They belong to J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien, respectively.
Summary: HP/Hobbit crossover. Seven-year-old Harry Potter, along with an unexpected someone, falls into Mirkwood Forest just as Bilbo and the dwarves defeat the spiders.
A/N: I have also borrowed one or two sentences from Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone (Sorcerers for those of you in the States). You can easily guess which ones they are.
I'm also not going to write this in baby Harry speak, if you know what I mean. He's seven years old, and well educated. Plus, most readers here are older than seven and would no doubt string me up by my drawers if I were to use expressions like "Harry felt icky" or "Harry giggled". Remember, he's had to look out for himself since forever. That would harden any child.
Chapter One: The Stick
". . . and make sure to clean out the loo. Properly. I don't want my Dudders sitting on an unhygienic toilet bowl."
"Yes, Aunt Petunia," said Harry under his breath. What he really wanted to say was "No" but his Aunt would definitely not like that. Chances were he'd be forced to scrub the whole bathroom instead of just the toilet bowl.
". . . after that you're to go to your cupboard, and stay there. We're still not forgiving you for climbing school buildings. Another day should do it, I think. What do you think, Vernon?"
"Right you are, dear, right you are," said Uncle Vernon, too busy absorbed in skimming the newspaper to pay any sort of attention to Harry's problems. Not that he would either way. But for Harry's Aunt that was confirmation enough and she ordered him to the bathroom.
Dudley sniggered at Harry as he walked passed, shifting his bottom on the new armchair his father had bought because Dudley had broken the other one by jumping on it. His double chin (only recently acquired) wobbled dangerously as he munched on his favourite cereal. Harry found he felt too unhappy to laugh.
It took two hours for Harry to finish scrubbing the toilet. He would have finished in half an hour, but Aunt Petunia had come to check his progress and declared, lips pursed, that the toilet wasn't sparkling enough, and look, was that a smudge on the rim? As punishment, Harry was to spend the next hour and a half going over everything he'd cleaned again and again until his fingers became raw and his knees turned red from leaning on the bathroom tiles. At least, that's what happened.
Harry was locked in his cupboard after that, and still forbidden breakfast. Never mind that he hadn't had proper meal in a week. He would have to pick the lock again that night, when the Dursley's were asleep.
The next day Harry was let out of his cupboard with the strict warning never to climb school buildings again. Harry didn't bother explaining that he'd never climbed school buildings in his life, and probably never would. But it didn't stop him from wondering how on earth he'd gotten onto the school roof when he'd only been trying to escape Dudley and his gang by leaping behind some dustbins. He supposed the wind must have caught him in mid-jump.
It must have been a particularly strong wind, though.
Dudley was getting that gleam in his eye that said it was due time for some Harry Hunting (he hadn't been pleased when Harry had escaped him that last time and was likely hoping for some catching up) so after lunch was over Harry walked to the park. He hoped Dudley would be feeling too lazy to follow him.
No such luck.
"Hey, Potter," he said, swinging around an incredibly tall stick that he must have found on the ground.
Harry quickly jumped off the swing. It was not a good idea to get cornered when Dudley Dursley approached. He needed room to run.
"Hey Dudders," Harry said back, perhaps not wisely.
Dudley swung the stick even more violently. "Don't call me that!"
"Why not? Aunt Petunia does," Harry said.
Dudley flushed, then almost instantly an unpleasant look entered his eyes. "You know, I heard you have two weeks' detention."
Harry felt his neck grow hot. He hated that he had detention for something he'd never done, and Dudley knew that. He was the one who knew that Harry had never climbed that building. He had seen Harry jump as much as Harry had felt it, but he'd never bothered to tell the teachers that. He had, however, told his parents; which was why Harry had spent a week in his cupboard.
"So?" Harry said.
Dudley laughed so piggishly and so harshly that his entire body wobbled. "You're a freak, you know. Mum and Dad say it all the time."
Harry did nothing. He knew what his Aunt and Uncle called him. He was used to it.
Dudley kept talking. "Harry Potter, the Freak, they call you. Freak, freak, freak, freak, freak." He punctuated this word with a sharp tap of his stick into the dirt. "Just like his parents. Lazy drunks. Lazy drunks. Lazy drunks!"
Rage unlike anything Harry had ever felt welled up inside him. It was one thing to talk about Harry like he was nothing, but despite what his Aunt and Uncle told him, Harry had always felt his parents were good people who loved him. They must have loved him. They had looked after him for a year before they'd died in that car accident. To hear Dudley singing about them so disrespectfully was the last straw.
He knew it was only the unexpectedness of it that allowed him to tackle Dudley to the ground. Dudley was bigger, stronger, and nastier than Harry. The only thing Harry had in his favour was how fast he could run, which Dudley could never outdo as he'd get tired after a short while.
But Harry wasn't running now. He was pummelling. He was beating his fists against Dudley's piggy face so much that the boy started howling.
A sharp pain exploded on the back of his skull. It took him a second to realise that Dudley had whacked him with the stick. He toppled backwards. Before Dudley could scramble up and leap on him, Harry shot off in the opposite direction, trying to ignore the throbbing in his head.
He could hear his cousin's straining breaths sounding just behind him. Everything looked blurry, everything seemed somehow . . . less. Somehow smaller. Somehow slower, as though he were walking through water. That bruise on his head must have been affecting him even more than he'd thought if Dudley, large as he was, was managing to keep up with him.
Another pain, this time blunt, exploded in the middle of his back. Harry tripped on a tree root and fell painfully. He whirled around. Dudley had chucked the stick at him, head first. For the first time Harry saw the knob at its end, which was what had caused him the pain.
He shot up just as Dudley skidded to a halt in the clearing. Harry held the stick in a defensive manner. "Don't come near me!" he shouted. "Go back home to your chocolate pasties and your television set and your alien computer games and your Mum and Dad and leave me alone."
Dudley stood breathing in large gulps of air. "Why?"
"Because I'm going to live here, that's why," said Harry. "It's better than living with you." Of course Harry wouldn't be living here. He'd just said that to get Dudley to go away.
Dudley blinked, and looked around. "You're not going to live in a forest?"
"Don't be stupid, there're no forests in Little Whing ―" Harry froze and looked around. He was, indeed, in a forest. A large, dark forest with trees taller than he could see and soft, squishy leaves covering the floor. He knew he was gaping.
"I told you it was a forest," said Dudley, coming to stand next to him.
Harry got annoyed. "How could a forest turn up in Little Whinging? We've never had a forest before."
"Maybe it was there all the time and we just didn't know about it?" Dudley suggested.
Harry didn't want to admit it, but that was probably it. But they must have run incredibly far if that was the case. "I expect we'll have to find the way out, then," he said. "Which way did you come in?"
"I was following you."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Is that your way of saying you can't remember?"
Dudley scowled. "I do too remember. And that's my stick. I found it!" He yanked the stick out of Harry's grasp before Harry could do anything about it ― and just as quickly dropped it again with a howl of pain.
"What is it!" Harry asked, alarmed.
Dudley howled even more. "It stung me! Ow, ow! It hurts!"
Harry sniggered. "You're an idiot. Sticks don't sting. You must have scraped your hand against a splinter of wood, or something." Without hesitating he picked up the stick and palmed it. "See? It doesn't hurt."
Dudley immediately stopped crying. "Give that back!"
"No. Besides, you're scared of it."
"I said give it back!"
Dudley's voice was getting louder.
"No," Harry said again. "Finders Keepers."
Dudley roared and sprung. Harry leapt to the side just in time. Dudley landed face down on the forest floor. Harry laughed.
Dudley had a tantrum. He beat his fists into the earth, he kicked his legs at the sky, and he screamed, and wailed, and howled, and no matter how many times he did this he still kept going. Eventually, he quieted.
"I'm not Aunt Petunia, you know," said Harry. "I'm not going to coddle you every time you don't get your way."
"Shut up!" Dudley said, but he looked as if he might be crying.
"I'm not the one who just had a tantrum," Harry spat back. "Now come on, we have to go home." He offered Dudley his hand, perhaps stupidly. Dudley stared at it for a few moments, then hauled himself up. Harry almost toppled over.
"Let's go then, Potter," he said, grinning nastily. "The sooner we get home, the sooner you'll be in trouble for beating on me."
Harry didn't fancy spending another week in his cupboard. "We just won't go home then."
Dudley's grin disappeared. "What d'you mean?"
"I mean if you tell Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon about our fight," Harry leaned forward. "I won't help you find a way out."
Dudley snorted. "I don't need your help. I'll just walk back the way I came."
"And which way is that?"
Dudley turned this way and that, looked up, and around, but Harry had long ago realised that everything looked the same. The large trees seemed to close in on them and the paths weren't really paths at all but simply strips of leaves arranged in whichever order they fell. And it was getting darker. "Erm . . ." said Dudley, paused for moment looking bewildered, then wailed.
"Shut up," Harry said half-heartedly.
"I-I WANT TO GO H-HOME!" he howled, wiping fake tears from his cheeks. "MAKE HIM FIND THE WAY OUT, MUMMY!"
By now Harry was sure that Dudley was quite insane, or else he was so terrified of missing his favourite television program that he had forgotten that Aunt Petunia wasn't there to complain to.
Without warning, Harry felt the stick yank from his grasp.
"You're so stupid," Dudley said looking smug, and attempted to twirl the stick around. He failed for two reasons: one, because the stick was too fat and too long to twirl, and two, because it had burned him again.
With a howl that sounded like a dying cat, Dudley dropped it once more.
Harry picked it up. He knew he was grinning like mad, but he didn't care. Dudley couldn't do anything to him as long as he held the stick.
"We're going to do it my way this time," Harry said.
Dudley stared at him as though he didn't understand a word Harry was saying.
Was he always this stupid? Harry thought to himself. "We're going to do it together. And you can't be lazy about it. You go over to that side, and I'll look here." He pointed accordingly.
Dudley stared at him, then, with only a twitch to his eye to show how displeased he was, he moved.
Harry watched him for a bit, then moved too.
It was only then that he realised he didn't remember running into the forest at all. Didn't remember anything treeish except tripping over that tree root. Surely he should remember, as it was obvious that he and Dudley weren't at the entrance otherwise they would have found the way out by now.
His stomach leapt horribly as a thought occurred to him. Had he, perhaps, done something . . . strange again? Was all this his, Harry's, fault? After all, he had been terrified of Dudley catching up and beating the stuffing out of him. All those other times Harry had done something strange he'd been scared . . . or angry.
An ice cube slid into his stomach.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no. If that were true, then . . . perhaps he and Dudley weren't even in Little Whinging anymore? Perhaps, just like he had leapt over two stories to land on the roof of a school building, he had somehow run past two suburbs to get into a forest? After all, weren't there forests in Surrey? There had to be! But then why, if he was so scared, did he bring Dudley along with him? Dudley had been trying to hurt him.
He calmed down after that thought. No, it couldn't have been him.