The Wizard of Gotham
After failing to cheat Bruce Wayne on a deal for drills, Vernon Dursley takes his frustrations out on Harry Potter, by abandoning him in Gotham City.
Based on an idea by Rift120, as passed on by Lionheart
Seeing as how I can't detect anything even vaguely resembling continuity in the DC timeline, it will be more or less disregarded and the characters seen and interpreted as I see fit.
Harry Potter is not a universe that lends itself easily to humor, but that just makes the challenge more interesting.
A five year old Harry Potter stared out a window at the storm and ice.
It was winter, and Mrs Figg hadn't been able to take him in because of a slip on some ice giving her a dangerous sprain that had her laid up. So Harry had found to his infinite delight (and his own relative's disgust) that he had to accompany them when his Uncle Vernon took a business trip to Gotham City.
It was Harry's first trip out of Surrey, his first time anywhere really. And the bulging-eyed expressions of his relatives when they realized there was no choice but to take him rather reminded him of the time Dudley came home proudly boasting that he'd gotten two older men to give him fifty pounds in exchange for their touching him 'down there.'
It was easy to make the comparison. That had happened only last week.
Dudley complained like anything over the shots he'd gotten afterwards. Aunt Petunia still hadn't stopped crying over her precious Duddykin's future 'sterility', whatever that was.
Sterile was a word they used in hospitals to describe how clean everything was, right? So it had to be a good thing for him. Harry couldn't understand why his aunt kept crying about Dudley being clean. They always insisted that Harry stay clean, if they hadn't locked him in his cupboard for a week, that is.
Vernon had gone over to give those two men a sound thrashing, but had come back much later with an embarrassed expression on his purple face and whipped cream in his hair, rubbing rope burns on his wrists. So Harry couldn't understand what had gone on. The closest he could guess was his uncle and those two men got in a pie fight.
But when they'd taken Dudley in for his shots, Vernon had gotten some too. Harry could have thought that was his uncle's idea to give Dudley a good example, or show that the shots didn't hurt, except he'd been there beside his Aunt Petunia watching, and Vernon blubbered like a little girl when he was getting them.
He knew, because that was how Sally at school cried when she'd scraped her knee. Just like her heart would break.
The stewardesses on the flight were nice, and they even fed him at the same time and in the same portions as anyone! (Though Dudley had to go and steal his cheese. He said he'd needed it to wash out the taste of his prescription medicines he still had to take.)
Harry rode in the back of the plane while the rest of his family rode up front, but he didn't mind. A nice lady with four kids even loaned him a picture book!
Harry already had a bright mind. His teacher at kindergarten gave him special attention when she found out about his bruises, so he already knew most of the letters and how to sound them out. The words in the picture book were simple, and he was able to figure out how to read them, opening up a dazzling story unlike anything he'd ever heard before!
When he did, he found himself wishing that a talking cat would visit his house and play with him.
He read that book three times, trying to memorize it. When the plane landed he gave it back to the nice lady who let him borrow it while she ushered her little flock out of the compartment.
When Harry at last got off the aircraft at the end of a long line of people his Aunt Petunia was furious that she'd had to wait for him, grabbing him roughly by the back of his oversize shirt before plowing angrily through the crowds to where Vernon and his son were stuffing their faces in a restaurant, already having rented a car.
Naturally, they didn't give Harry any of food, even though the meal on the flight had been a long, long time ago. But the boy was able to sneak a few fries and palm an untouched cheeseburger to hide in his oversize clothes before they decided they were done and hauled him away, leaving enough uneaten food behind to have fed Harry three times.
Sadly, that was all par for the course.
Thankfully, their ride in the rented car passed in something of a blur. Vernon talked proudly the whole way about how successful he was going to be at negotiating a contract between Grunnings and Wayne Enterprises. He bragged the whole drive about how that stupid yank was just dripping with money, and once he'd applied his superior British intellect and charm to him they'd be able to afford to buy their own island somewhere on the bonus he would get from securing the deal.
Then he amended, saying with a beady look at the back seat that they'd buy two islands - one to live on, furnished with a rich mansion a private heliport and yacht, and one bare desert one with a single palm tree for keeping Harry on so he couldn't disturb 'good, honest folks' with his freakishness.
Dudley complained that he was bored and wanted to watch TV, but Vernon explained that, in order to sneak a good ol honest vacation out of someone he didn't like in Grunnings who managed time off, that they weren't going to be staying in Gotham for very long. Despite the company giving him a whole week for this assignment, he'd arranged everything so he could fly in and meet with Bruce Wayne before flying out on the same day.
Tonight they were going to be sunning themselves in Florida, then Petunia and Vernon were even going to take Dudley to Disney World!
Despite knowing that he'd spend the day locked up in a hotel room, Harry still felt excited at the prospect of being so near to so famous a place. Besides, there was always the hope that they couldn't avoid taking him in, just like they hadn't been able to leave him behind on this trip.
Granted that was a flimsy hope, but it was an earnestly cherished one.
The car pulled up outside of a fancy museum and they all piled out, except Vernon, who would be going on to get his meeting over with so they could be rolling in dough. He left, promising he'd be back later to pick them up so they could drive back to the airport and have the real vacation start.
Petunia bought Dudley and ice pop and the three of them went in to see the museum for a few hours. It was interesting, especially when Dudley flicked his wrapped at a sculpture and set off the alarms. Apparently they were very sensitive because of some highly skilled criminals in Gotham. But Dudley didn't think it was very fun when the guards threw them out of the museum.
Harry used the time that security was interrogating Dudley, and his Aunt Petunia was hovering by wailing at the indignities suffered by her poor son, to eat his purloined cheeseburger. It was cold, but still very good.
They sat on a bench out front after that, unable to go inside and unable to leave for fear of not meeting Vernon, waiting for him to bring the car. But when Harry's uncle returned he was boiling mad. Even Petunia got alarmed at her husband's beet red face and the angry swelling of his features.
They got in and Vernon drove, not paying proper attention to the road and quickly getting lost on the unfamiliar streets of Gotham, too busy ranting all the while over upstart business tycoons who had more money in their britches than air above their heads not wanting to pay a fair and reasonable price for good quality tools.
Harry listened intently, sunk into his seat in fear and wondering why his uncle changed what he said so often. On the way there he'd been bragging how the 'ignorant yank' wouldn't know that he'd padded the drill prices to inflate his commission, and had even dropped a wink, adding that he wouldn't know their first rate tools from the second rank anyway.
But apparently the Dursleys would not be swimming in money. Vernon had been shown out of the building when the appointment was up, and any chance for a second meeting was out unless they took a hotel and canceled the flight to Florida.
Dudley instantly threw a fit at not getting to see Disney World, and Vernon got so upset that he stamped on the brakes, stopping the car to yell at him.
The worst part was when his beefy uncle was twisted about in his seat to face the two boys in the backseat, yelling at a startled and astonished Dudley, when Vernon's eyes fixed on Harry and he found a safer target for his rage. "You," he growled, and Harry realized with a start that he had never seen his uncle this angry before. "We've never had any sort of luck since you came about! You and your freakish ways, always causing problems. Well, no more! Out! Out of this car, I say! Get out this instant!"
Harry, who never had to be encouraged to run before one of his relatives fell to beating on him, had released the seat belt and shot out the door like the car was on fire!
The door slammed behind him and Vernon smashed down the gas, driving off in a foul temper while Harry stood looking on, never hearing his uncle rant about how, if the other freaks wanted him, they were free to track him down - that Gotham was such a crime ridden dump that he'd blend right in, and if he got gunned down, so much the better!
But the boy did have a sinking feeling they wouldn't be coming back for him.
By nightfall he was sure of it.
While he was certainly accurate in that assessment, the Dursleys had left without the slightest intention of coming back for him, their ability to do so was also in question as they'd been lost from the time they'd driven away from the museum and hadn't the foggiest idea where they'd left him.
That, by itself, probably would have presented an insurmountable obstacle even if they had suffered enough remorse of conscience (or fear of blame) to muster a change of heart about abandoning him there. However, the whole issue got made moot by Vernon's crazy driving getting them into an accident on their way to the airport.
When police arrived to investigate the three-car pileup the Dursleys were all so upset that, well... Vernon threw such a fit over those 'damn yanks all conspiring against him' that he got to spend two weeks in Arkham Asylum, while Petunia and Dudley enjoyed the time in protective custody, where both became very popular with the other inmates.
Dudley earned another fifty bucks before his 'friends' an out of cash, while Petunia never spoke of what happened, only bursting into tears whenever it got mentioned.
That vindictive person in Grunnings who didn't like Vernon Dursley and was in charge of vacations also took the extra week of time off out of his pay, as he was free to spend his vacation days any way he liked, and if he'd wanted to spent that time in an insane asylum that was certainly his choice, but the company wasn't obligated to pay for his treatment.
But, at about the time of the accident, tired and hungry and very, very cold in his over-large, ragged garments that didn't trap heat very well in the best of times, Harry started wandering from the spot they'd left him once the streetlights had come on. It wasn't that he didn't want to be found, if the Dursleys came back in the morning and wanted him back (which he very much doubted), but that he couldn't stay in one place any longer or he'd surely freeze to death!
Luckily, not far away Harry was able to find a park where there grew trees and bushes. The evergreens blunted the chill of winter breezes, and shivering from the cold the green-eyed boy made his way as deep in among them as he could get, seeking for the greatest amount of shelter they could afford.
It was while he was doing so that he found a huge greenhouse, hidden away at the center of some nearly impassable foliage. Just as he spotted it, he came across an impressive battle scene going on inside.
There was a guy as black as if he'd been dipped in black ink, and he had wings and some kind of horns. He was leaping through the air, tumbling and jumping, all the while throwing things at a bright colored lady with red hair and a vivid green outfit that made her look like some kind of ballerina.
As he watched, Harry became sure that the guy dipped in black was some kind of burglar, as he could see a shattered pane of glass that he'd broken to get inside of the greenhouse. And he didn't have wings, it was only a cape that sortuv looked like wings. But he did still have a pair of short, pointy horns on top of his mask.
He came to this realization just moments before the burglar hit the woman hard enough to knock her out. Then the man in the cape grabbed the ballerina and jumped out of the greenhouse with her, disappearing before Harry could see where they went.
It was troubling for the young soul, having witnessed his first kidnapping. In that moment he grew certain that some of those things his uncle had said about this city were true, that it was a nest of villains preying on helpless people. But that gave him chills even worse than the weather, for if that part of what his Uncle Vernon said was true, what about the rest of it? That the policemen of this city were as rotten as the thugs? His uncle had been sure that every last one of them was in the pocket of gangsters, (something that did not endear him to them when he said it to their faces at the scene of the car accident, even if it was to a large extent true). And, he had warned, if an honest body went to one for help that he'd be sold into slavery, off to Asia in a packing crate before he even knew what was happening!
Vernon had even said they'd never run out of spots for young boys in those Chinese salt mines. Or perhaps it would be coal mining in Africa for him. The Dursleys had entertained themselves for a cheerful half-hour during the trip planning with all of the gloriously horrific possibilities that might befall Harry.
Petunia could have been cheered up remarkably by recalling that time if so much of what she'd suggested wasn't currently happening to her. She wasn't locked in a packing crate on her way off to Africa, but in a way the strip search by grossly offended cops was just as bad.
Freezing in the winter weather, Harry decided then and there to sneak in to the warm greenhouse. The pretty ballerina lady had such nice plants, and if she ever got away from that scary man who looked like a bat she'd want her garden to still be alive when she got back.
Thinking that if he could only find some plastic and a little tape he could cover the hole the burglar had made, and perhaps by doing so the ballerina lady wouldn't mind if he stayed warm a few nights in her greenhouse, Harry snuck in to find the door unlocked and replacement panes of glass already stacked neatly by the entry.
He wondered if her windows got broken alot, because those tools for fixing a break were all right there ready to use.
Maybe Gotham really was so a nasty place if break-ins by weird bat-people were so common that you just had to have everything to fix them on hand?
The snow wasn't so bad, so Harry had the window fixed in a little less than half an hour. All of the tools were right there, and cleaning up the broken glass wasn't too difficult. Lifting the heavy pane into place was much harder, but the little kindergartner had been toughened to worse tasks than this by the Dursleys over the years.
Much of that toughening had been at the hands of Vernon Dursley, who was discovering a new definition of toughness as he was locked temporarily in the padded cell next to the Scarecrow.
Catching his breath and basking in the heat of the greenhouse as automated heaters compensated for the warmth lost through the break, Harry sat down and rubbed the pins and needles out of his limbs, wondering when or where he could get something to eat.
It seemed almost magical (a word he was forbidden to use, but seemed in place now) when a fruit tree limb bent down and hung an apple right before his face.
Not really much to say, other than thanks to Chris Dee for writing Cat Tales, a work of fiction using the DC characters so superior to the original that words fail to adequately capture the difference.
My hat is off to you.