Summary: When Albus finds Harry in a Muggle hospital miles from Little Winging, he tries to find out what happened. But Harry doesn't talk anymore. At all.
Warnings: Child Abuse, Other Sensitive Topic, Slash (not till much later)
Disclaimer: JKR owns all
Author's Notes: Not to be confused with The Heart, Not the Shell, this is another AU starting from a similar age. This one's more angsty though.
JKR's release of the last book's title has awoken me to the fact that Book Seven will be out pretty soon, and I'd better get on with my fanfictions, just in case the fandom ends up flopping once it's released.
"So we had better get packing." Vernon Dursley looked over gleefully at his wife and six-year-old son. "Well?"
"It's a bit sudden, dear," Petunia ventured, "but I'm game."
"Go," Dudley said simply.
The smaller boy in the corner suppressed a grin. He had always been of the opinion that the only time Dudley could string a sentence together was in a tantrum. Harry could talk properly, but didn't a lot outside (or inside) school. There wasn't much point – people didn't listen to him anyway.
His Uncle Vernon rubbed his hands together. "Excellent. We'll be leaving tomorrow then." He glared nastily over at Harry for the first time. "You had better keep out of your aunt's way while she's packing."
Harry nodded, his amusement fading.
"Where are you going, Vernon?"
"I have a few things to sort out at the office, dear, before we leave. I'll be back later." Vernon kissed his wife on the cheek. "I just need to get my briefcase. Who moved it out of the hall?"
Harry wandered outside, bored. The proposition of the holiday didn't excite him like the rest of the family. He didn't think the Dursleys would like him any better in Majorca than in Little Winging.
He watched as a stray cat – black and white – prowled the drive, examining Vernon's car. The doors were open and the keys in the ignition, ready to go – all it needed was its driver. Harry was about to leave to get out of his uncle's way when the cat unexpectedly jumped into the back of the car.
Harry hesitated, but it didn't come out. He quickly scrambled into the car after it.
A mewing sound came from the boot. He lowered himself onto the floor and peered through the gap under the seats for the cat. It stared at him out of amber eyes, its tail twitching teasingly, not showing any sign of leaving.
Harry sighed and began to crawl towards it. It was harder than he expected: he had to lie completely flat and pull himself forwards, and even then it was a tight fit. Within a minute he was stuck.
Panicking, Harry struggled to get back out. Footsteps on the path told him that his uncle had returned with his briefcase. Harry lay very still as Vernon got in the car, slamming the doors behind him and turning on the engine.
He was in trouble now. If he was caught hiding in the car he'd be in big trouble. Vernon turned the radio on, seemingly in a good mood, and Harry used the loud sound to his advantage and tried to wriggle free. The cat was watching him, with a look on its face Harry took to be gloating. Harry glared at it, but then the glare faded as he noticed something.
Behind the cat, in the boot, were several large wooden boxes, a blanket thrown over them. Intent on getting the cat, Harry hadn't noticed them before.
He finally managed to pull himself through the gap between the seats and the floor, his ribs aching. Checking his uncle was still singing loudly and tunelessly to the radio, he pulled the blanket off the boxes and proceeded to examine the first one …
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