Summary: Harry's spent half his life in an enclosure of wild animals after the Dursleys abandoned him in a zoo. So far he has resisted all attempts to coax or force him out. But then Minerva stumbles across him after four years of thinking he was dead. Can she help Harry learn to trust humans again?
Warnings: Sensitive Topic
Disclaimer: Who actually reads disclaimers? I do, but apparently I'm in the minority. (I don't own anything, by the way.)
A is for Abandoned
"Bad news, Vernon. Mrs Figg's ill. She can't take the boy."
"He's not coming! He'll spoil it!"
"Don't worry dinky Diddidums, Mummy will think of something."
"I've had it up to here with that wretch. Give him to me."
"Vernon, what are you doing?"
"Go Daddy! Get rid of him!"
"Ge' off me!"
"Don't speak like that to your betters, boy! You're asking for a good hiding!"
Harry limped on every other step. His Uncle Vernon was shielding Harry's injuries from view as he dragged him round the path. Harry winced as he walked but didn't say anything. He'd learnt not to say "ow" with the Dursleys around. He'd learnt not to show emotion.
Vernon stopped, pretending to examine the enclosure, smiling briefly at the member of staff who walked past. Harry trembled, waiting for whatever his uncle had in mind. He was expecting something bad, but it took even him by surprise when Vernon quickly grabbed him round the middle and practically threw him into the enclosure.
"I hope they eat you alive," he snarled at the boy before departing hurriedly.
Harry allowed himself to let out a whimper as his uncle vanished from view. What now? He was all alone and hurt. He struggled to his aching feet and began to stumble around, trying to find a way out – the wire fence was too high.
A movement made him freeze. Something was behind the tree next to him. He stood where he was, paralysed with fear, as the biggest animal he'd ever seen came into view. He'd seen pictures on the television – a lion, wasn't it?
The animal ambled over curiously and examined him. Harry didn't even dare to breathe. But to his astonishment, the lion nudged his hand and settled itself down beside him.
Harry hesitatingly reached out and patted the creature on the head. It simply yawned and closed its eyes lazily, as if enjoying the touch. Harry stroked it properly, feeling something warm inside him that he had found a living thing that didn't hate him – liked him, almost.
It was something he hadn't experienced for a long, long time.
The zoo was just shutting up for the night when one of the junior members of staff – a student in training – came rushing into the office. "There's a kid in the lion's enclosure!"
Ten minutes later, every person in the zoo was staring, dumbstruck, at the lions. They were all lying together, apparently asleep, and in the midst of them was a small dark-haired boy about four, or five at the most. His thumb was in his mouth and there was a blissful look on his face. He was resting against the male, with his fingers wound into its mane, his eyes closed.
"Don't just stand there," the manager snapped at the others finally. "Get the kid out and find his parents. Move!"
Harry yawned and stretched, hitting something warm. He drew back sharply and opened his eyes.
Of course – he was at the zoo, not his cupboard. A happy grin spread over his face. The lions were waking up, yawning and stretching like him. He rubbed the nose of the one he'd been sleeping on in thanks, and crawled towards the pool of water. He was thirsty.
He cupped his hands to scoop up the water. He'd always done that at the Dursleys' because they would never let him contaminate their cups and glasses. He was quite good at it.
The first lion followed him to the water and without hesitation leant down and began lapping the water up. Harry stared. It looked a lot easier. He lay down on his front and began to try. It was harder than it looked but he had just begun to get the hang of it when a noise made him look up.
There was a human in the enclosure. Harry jumped to his feet and backed away sharply, memories of his relatives filling his mind.
"Relax, I'm not going to hurt you," the man said, holding up a hand. Harry stopped backing away but didn't come any nearer either. "Come on kid, let's go and find your parents, eh?"
Harry stared at him as if he were mad. "You have to die first."
"Who looks after you?"
Harry swallowed. He decided he didn't trust this man. For that matter, he didn't trust humans at all. Animals were much safer. And he was staying right here.
"Go away," he said, stumbling back again.
"I'm not going to hurt you," the man said, drawing nearer. Harry turned and ran.
"Hey!" The man started to run after him, but skidded to a stop as he found himself face-to-face with an entire lion pack. "Um … Nice kitty …"
AN: Very, very short, I know. If anyone has any suggestions for making this one longer I'm all ears. In the meantime I'll start on Chapter Two.
Next Chapter: Four years later