Harry Potter gave Headmaster Dumbledore the best pleading look he could muster.
"But, sir, why can't I stay over the holidays like I usually do?"
Dumbledore sighed, "Harry, my boy, this season is different. I won't be here. The Order needs all of us for a special project. Snape has to attend Him and Hagrid is going to his people. It's just not possible."
Harry knew if he didn't leave right now, he'd cry. He hated the Dursleys with a passion and had only managed to avoid hexing the lot of them through fear of what might happen if he did underage magic.
"Very well. But I'd like to leave Hedwig here, if I may. She's always miserable, the Dursleys won't let her out of her cage. She could stay, couldn't she?"
Professor Dumbeldore nodded. "Yes, there won't be any need for her to go, you'll be back in three weeks. If anyone needs to owl you..."
Harry nearly snarled. "Don't bother. They won't let me get an owl. They've barred the windows so I can't."
"Now, Harry, don't exaggerate. I'm sure that you can get any owl that's important. I do understand their objections to you getting owl's from Mis Granger and Mr Weasley. It attracts too much attention. Now run along and pack. Just a small case. There's no need for you to take your trunk."
Harry nodded shortly, more a jerk of his head than anything else. "Sure. I'll just pack enough for a week. I can do laundry. I'll be doing it all anyway. See you after Christmas."
Dumbledore offered Harry a lemon drop and patted him on the shoulder.
Harry tossed some clothing into a small carpet bag and wiped at his eyes. He didn't even have a chance to say good holidays to Ron or Hermione, they'd had to go before he was done at the Headmasters office.
He shrank his books and shoved them into a side pocket. He picked up his present from Hermione and did the same thing with it.
"Potter, I do not have all day. If you would kindly settle your sulks and come on, I'd greatly appreciate it." Professor Snape looked tired and cross.
Harry just sighed and called out, "I'm coming."
He checked quickly to see if he had forgotten anything. It didn't seem that he had so he picked up his bag and followed Snape to the Apparition platform.
"I ... don't want to go. They're ... not nice to me."
Snape looked down his nose at Harry. "Mr Potter, I have absolutely no intention of listening to this drivel. I'm sure the Dursleys are exactly as they should be. Why would Professor Dumbledore leave you there if it wasn't safe?"
Harry just sighed and shrugged sullenly. "I just ... never mind. No one believes me anyway. Why should you even care. You hate me, although I never did anything to you. I'm not my father, you know."
Professor Snape opened his mouth to deliver a scathing lecture on gratitude but the platform was clear so he refrained.
Snape took Harry's hand. "Ready."
"I suppose so."
They Apparated with a sharp crack. Harry gave the open street one longing look and went into the house. Snape couldn't help but see the look of almost terror that crossed Harry's face just before the door closed with a slam. He shook his head, surely he was mistaken.
Harry waited in the foyer for a moment then called out, "Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon? I'm here."
Dudley stuck his head out of the kitchen door to announce. "They're not here right now. I'm to tell you to go to your room and stay there. You're not allowed out. You're not allowed to do that ... thing you do. Magic, right, and you're to cage that nasty bird of ... oh, you don't have her with you. Good." Harry gave Dudley a dirty look but headed up the stairs. "You didn't bring your trunk?" Harry shook his head. "Well, that's good. But Daddy is going to go spare. He wanted to sell some of your clothes, why, I couldn't say. Well, don't just stand there, go up stairs."
Harry just trudged up the stairs, settled in his room and stared out the window. He wanted to be back at Hogwarts. He wanted to be at the Burrow. He wanted to be anywhere but where he was.
He sat there until the sun went down, then the moon came up. He was hungry, thirsty and cold. Uncle Vernon would come feed and water him like some sort of animal, slapping the inadequate sandwich and meager cup of water down on the desk. Harry hoped it was going to be soon. Sometimes he 'forgot' for more than a day. Harry had a bucket that Aunt Ppetunia called a honey bucket for his needs. It stank in hot weather. Sometimes he was tempted to throw it's contents out the window.
Harry finally gave up on the hope of food and went to bed.
He woke in the morning to a hard rap on the door. Uncle Vernon announced that they were wanting breakfast and he'd better get up and cook or he'd get no food himself.
Harry shoved his feet into his trainers and clomped down the stairs. Uncle Vernon gave him a slap across the ear for the noise and demanded coffee. Harry just put on the pot and started making breakfast.
After breakfast Harry was given a written list of chores to do, chores he was sure would never please either adult, no matter how hard he tried.
Dudley watched him as he cleaned the kitchen after eating the left overs right out of the pan.
Harry scrubbed, cleaned and did laundry. He realized that he'd only packed one other pair of trousers and two shirts. Of course Uncle Vernon had a fit. He accused Harry of holding out on him, denying him his rights and smacked him so hard it knocked him down.
Harry climbed back to his feet and mumbled, "You wouldn't do that if I could work magic."
Vernon had a few choice words to say about that, ending, "and you're not of age, so if you work magic, the magic cops will take you to prison where you belong, ungrateful brat. No lunch or supper for you."
Harry shuddered at the thought of being locked up in Azkaban, just for defending himself. He went to his room to be locked in for the night. He hoped Aunt Petunia burned the potatoes. She did.
The next morning was a repeat of the day before and the day after that was the same. Aunt Petunia went to club meetings and social 'do's' Uncle Vernon went to work. Dudley went out. Harry cleaned and cooked and went hungry. He could drink all the water he wanted and he filled his stomach from the tap.
By the fifth day he was ready to eat anything he could get his hands on but the cupboards were all locked. He slammed his hand on the door of the pantry and wished desperately for even the disgusting Marmite. He flinched when Dudley came in the back door.
"Harry. Hey! I want four grilled cheese sandwiches, chips and a diet soda. And hurry."
Dudley flopped down at the kitchen table and watched as Harry took the key he was given and started to cook. He put the plate on the table and started to clean. His stomach gave a loud growl.
"Eat something. That noise is disgusting. Here. This one's burned." Harry eyed the sandwich for a moment then took it. It was the same perfect golden brown as the others. He wolfed it down quickly so that Dudley wouldn't have a chance to change his mind. "Dad's gone spare. He's turning into a real nutter. He smacked Mom the other day. You better watch out."
Harry blinked at Dudley, wondering where that had come from. Usually Dudley was Vernon's cheering section. Now he seemed to be trying to help Harry, in an awkward, off hand way.
"Ok, thanks. I think I better go to my room. If you need anything ..."
Dudley held up his hand. "I'll do it myself. I'm getting better at it all the time. Harry?" Harry looked at Dudley. "Really. Be careful around Dad. I mean it."
Harry realized that one, he was still nearly starving and two, Dudley was developing a conscience. He went to his room to check his list. He was done with the dozen or so chores he'd been left but he knew he'd have to do at least half of them over. Neither Aunt Petunia nor Uncle Vernon would be pleased, could be pleased. He sighed wearily and wished for somewhere, any where, to go.
When he got home that night Vernon Dursely was in a foul temper. Something had gone wrong at work and he'd gotten a dressing down. So he took it out on Harry. He slammed into his tiny room and yanked the wardrobe doors open. He pulled every thing out and tossed it all on the floor. He kicked it around then pounced.
"Ha! I knew you had something. This coat is worth at least twenty pounds. Hold out on me will you. No supper for you." He snatched up the coat and stomped out. Harry just bit his lip.
Things went on for another day or two then it happened. Vernon came home early, in a bad mood and Harry was scrubbing the foyer floor. He was on his hands and knees in a puddle of soapy water. Uncle Vernon slipped in the mess and nearly fell. He grabbed Harry by the neck and knocked him flat on the floor. He pulled off his belt and lashed Harry over the back, buttocks and thighs until Harry screamed in pain. He tried to crawl away from his uncle but Vernon followed him, ruthlessly hunting him down through the hall, into the kitchen and under the kitchen table. Dudley saw it all.
"That ought to hold you, you little pervert. That coat wasn't wool so I only got ten pounds for it. And then leaving that mess in the front door. I could have killed myself. Who'd feed you then? Huh?"
Harry couldn't have kept his mouth shut short of a gag. "You don't feed me now, so what if you did?"
Vernon turned a rather nasty shade of purple and took after Harry again. This time he cornered him and kept at it until Harry passed out.
Harry woke up in his bed, the sun shining in his face told him he'd been out all night and most of the early morning. He tried to sit up but didn't quite make it. It hurt to move. It even hurt to breath, now that he thought of it.
He rolled over onto one side and eased himself onto his knees on the floor. After that it was a simple task to stand up, simple not easy.
"Ow! Ow! Ow! Damn! Fuck!" Harry whimpered in pain and reached for his wand. He had to get out of this house. His uncle was crazy, certifiably nutters. If he didn't get out he was sure Vernon would kill him.
The soft peck on the door startled him more than it should have but he felt like he had reason. The voice that called to him made him even more nervous.
"Harry, I'm coming in. It's Dudley. I'm alone." Dudley opened the door and peered in. When he stepped in to the room, Harry flinched. "Look, I'm not going to hurt you, I swear. I'm really sorry. Dad's gone flat out flaming looney. Here." Dudley held out a small roll of bills. "It's not much, only forty pounds but it'll give you a start. You've got to go."
Harry panted, trying to conquer the pain that wracked his body. He agreed with Dudley, he had to leave. He just took the money, reached over and picked up his wand.
"Dudley, you know what I can do with this, don't you?" Dudley gulped and nodded. "I don't want to hurt you and I don't want Uncle Vernon to either. Go down stairs and get in the cupboard under the stairs. I'm going to pack my stuff."
Dudley obediently left and Harry gathered up the few things he had and stuffed them into Dudley's backpack. He hurried down the stairs and riffled Vernons desk, he found perhaps another fifty pounds and took it. Then he notice one fifty pound note tucked under the pencil tray and snatched it too. He slid the locks on the cupboard shut and heard Dudley say, "Thanks Harry. Sorry I was always such a prat." He pressed the palm of one hand against the wood and walked out the door.
He felt terrible but he didn't have time to yield to the feeling. He apparated to Scotland with a loud crack, then he apparated back to London. He went to Hogsmead then to Manchester. From there he took a muggle train back to London. He hoped he'd thrown the Aurors off, he could barely move now.
When Harry got off the train all he could think of doing was find a place to lay down. He managed to get into the depths of the station and find a warm spot. He knew he wasn't going to be able to stay there long but if he could just rest a bit he thought he could find a youth hostel or something. He carefully fastened the waist belt of his pack around his torso before he fell asleep and a good thing. He woke to someone pulling on it. He cursed them and watched as the pale hands broke out in a rash. The patter of running feet brought him fully awake.
"Fuck!" Harry knew that that curse had given him away or at least let the Ministry know that someone was using underage magic. He gathered himself together and hurried into the street. He had to get away from the station.
He managed to find a squat, a place where young runaways congregated, and get a flop. He sighed. At least he could sleep without worrying about being mugged. He realized that his reflexes would wake him if anyone messed with him.
He woke to whispers and wondered what that was about. He found out quickly.
"Hey! Hey!" A hand shook his shoulder gently. "Wake up! Come on, mate, open your eyes."
Harry managed to pry one eye open. He felt like shit and was shivering from the cold.
"Ok, I'm awake. What is it?"
The lank haired boy touched his cheek. "You're burnin' up, mate. And shiverin'. Better go to the clinic. You want me to take you?"
Harry shook his head, the clinic wouldn't do him any good. He didn't react well to muggle medicines.
"I can't ... um ... allergies. I got a bunch and the clinics can't handle it. I'll be ok. I just need some rest."
"That's too bad. You're really in a bad way. Got a blanket?"
Harry shook his head, rolling it back and forth on the wall he was leaning against. "No, I've got a bit of money, could you get me one? I'd be glad to let you keep the change."
The boy held a blanket out to Harry. "Don't need it, thanks. We got a slop chest. Just replace it or put this one back when you get your own. ... My name is Doug. What's yours?"
"Harry. Thanks, Doug. I appreciate it."
"New, ain't ya." Harry gave him a blank look, he felt so bad that he couldn't work up the strength to do more. "Just ran away. Look, mate, I'm mindin' your business. If you can, you should go back home. It's really hard out here. There's almost no way to make any money and begging ... well, asking for change won't get you anywhere anymore."
Harry leaned forward to wrap the blanket around his shoulders and Doug gasped softly, blood had soaked through Harry's t-shirt. Harry smiled grimly. "Don't think I really want to go back to the Dursley's. This time my uncle might actually kill me. And yeah, I'm new. But I'm tough, a survivor. I'll do what I have to do to survive. Someday I just might get a lucky break. But thanks."
"Sorry, mate, you need a cream for that or you're going to get infected."
Harry sighed, he wished Doug would quit squatting over him and let him sleep.
Doug seemed to get the idea because he sighed, stood up and announced. "I'll go away. But if you have some money you might give one of the younger kids a couple of pounds and send them to the pharmacy and the chinese place. Have whoever get some savlon cream and some egg drop soup. But whatever."
Harry decided that was a good idea and croaked out, "Sorry, I really feel bad, I don't think my brain is working too good. Here." He fished a ten pound note out of his pocket and handed it over. "I hope that's going to be enough."
Doug bit at his lip for a moment then made a decision. "I'll make it be enough. But ya gotta pay me back if it isn't really. I only got a pound and a few pence."
Harry squinted at Doug for a moment then pulled out another note. "Here."
Doug just accepted it with a nod and the admonition to sleep. Harry fell asleep before the boy was two feet away.
Doug woke Harry by gently kicking his feet. Harry woke with a start and groaned at the twinge his back gave him. Doug handed him a Styrofoam cup filled with chicken broth, egg threads and tofu. It was delicious, hot and just what he needed.
When he was finished with the soup, Doug told him to turn around. Harry did and Doug eased his dark red shirt up over his shoulders, they both hissed as the fabric pulled away from his skin. The shirt was stuck to Harry's cuts by clotted blood and pulling the new scabs off hurt.
Doug gently dabbed the cream on Harry's cuts, capped the tube and announced, "Well, that's the best I can do. You need to keep it clean and covered. Got a clean shirt?"
Harry nodded and fished it out of his pack. He was glad that he'd shrunk all his money and tucked it into the tin with his school books and the two that Hermione had given him, whispering, "early Christmas." the tin didn't look inviting and if anyone did open it, his things looked like doll toys. He pulled the shirt over his head and winced as the cloth scrapped over his cuts. It felt like Vernon had stripped half the skin off.
"How bad is it, really?" Harry braced himself.
"Looks really bad. You're cut to bits. And the bruising makes it hard to tell how bad it really is. You better take it as easy as ya can, mate. I'll take you out in a day or two and help ya catch a fish."
Harry shook his head. "I don't know what you mean."
Doug sighed and leaned against a nearby box that was being used as an impromptu table. "Customer, John, money cock. Doesn't make any difference what you call it. Ya gotta suck it or ya starve."
Harry paled then flushed. "I can't."
"Then you'll go hungry. Pride don't fill your belly so ya better get over it."
Harry shrugged then hissed as the motion pulled at his back. "Not pride, ignorance. I don't have the slightest idea how to do it."
Doug looked impressed. "Well, that's good. Not that you're ignorant but that I don't have to get ya over that girlish squeamish bit. So I'll teach ya. Feel like listenin' now, or would you rather sleep."
Harry yawned. "If I go to sleep now, I'll be awake all night. Talk now, ok."
"Sure. First, never go anywhere alone. Always team up with someone, split the take with them, unless they don't do nothin'. Get the money first and give it to the lookout. Always make the john use a condom and don't let 'em fuck ya. Questions?"
Harry thought for a moment but couldn't think of any. "Not really. I might think of some later. But..." He yawned again. "...I think I'm going to sleep whether I want to or not." He started nodding.
"Well, sleep yourself out. I'll come back around in a while."
Doug smiled at Harry's soft snore, he also passed the word that Harry was under his protection.
Harry slept until early evening the next day. He woke hungry but he was so used to that that he didn't give it much thought. He stood up, folded his blanket and stuffed it into the pack then he went to find Doug.
Doug settled Harry on a small stool and handed him a condom. "You know how to use this?"
Harry turned the foil coin over in his hand. It looked like a half galeon. "Not an idea in the world. Should I be scared? I'm out of scared if I should be."
"No. And I know just how you feel, sort of numb, right?" Harry nodded. "Let it carry you for a while but you need to get over it fairly soon. If you let it go too long it'll set and you'll get yourself killed. Ok. Here's what you do."
Doug showed Harry how to put on a condom using his left hand as a 'member' as he called it. Then he rerolled the condom and showed Harry how to put it on using his mouth, explaining, "Some guys just don't want one, no matter what you say. If they let you do it this way it's good, but if they just plain refuse, give them back their money and find another fish. It's too easy to catch something you don't want and crabs are the least of it. Ok?"
Harry nodded, wide eyed and a bit dismayed. He didn't want to do this, but Doug was right. If he didn't whore himself there was no way to get money. At least none he knew of.
"I know. It's bad. Are you sure there's no place you can go?"
Harry shook his head. "It's really complicated. My aunt and uncle are my guardians. The headmaster of my school won't believe me when I tell him they aren't nice to me. And ... well, I've got a damn destiny. I really don't want to talk about it."
"You tell, they call you a liar. Same ol' same ol'. So I guess it's time for me to give up on trying to get you off the streets. Fine. I'll take you out with me a few times, you be look out. Get a feel for things. How's your back."
Harry shrugged carefully. "Still hurts. And I feel hot. I'll get over it. I always do. When we go out the first time, I'd like for you to tell me exactly what you want me to do."
"I will. Don't worry, though, I know a few places to go that are really safe. Don't pay much, but a good first place."
Harry just followed Doug out the door. He still felt terrible, hot and achy and trembly.
Doug took Harry out to a small square where men were strolling about and boys were standing about in small clumps and twos and threes. Every so often a man would approach a group and speak to one of the boys. The boy would either shake his head, in which case the man went on, or he would nod and the john and boy would talk a bit. The john would hand over money and the group of three would wander discreetly into a nearby alley. One boy would peal off and stand at the mouth of the alley for a while then the client would leave, followed shortly by the other boy.
Harry learned quickly, the john would ask for a service and Doug would either say he would do it or tell the person he didn't offer that particular kink. If Doug agreed the john would hand Harry money and Harry would follow them to the alley, stand at the mouth and watch then go back to the square with Doug to do it all again. They knocked off at midnight. Doug said that the really rough customers came out about then and he didn't do S/M.
So Harry got a lecture about S/M and BD/SM as well as info on D/S all the letters jumbled up in his brain. He felt feverish again.
"Harry? Mate, ya look like hell. Come on. We'll go back to the flop and I'll tend you again. Get some rest. Tomorrow, I'm turnin' ya out."
Harry cringed. "Ok. I guess."
"Better not guess. Guessin' will get ya killed. Ya gotta be sure. Ya gotta top from the bottom and you got ta be subtle. Understand?"
Harry did. He nodded his understanding and realized that most of his hangups sprang from his uncle. The Wizarding world wasn't that hung up on who did who, only whether it was consensual or not.
"I do. But I have to say, I'm not happy. I don't want to do this. But I hate being hungry. I just wish ..."
Doug said sourly. "Well, mate, wish in one hand and shit in the other. See which one fills up first. I'm not thrilled with sucking cock so I don't starve either. Hungry hurts. Believe me I know. So ... back to the flop with us."
Harry and Doug returned to the squat only stopping long enough to get something to eat. Harry counted the bills and announced, "Well, there's about two hundred pounds here. That ought to last a while. Why do you go out every night?"
Doug turned red. "I got a hundred and fifty pound a day habit. The rest goes. Dunno where, just goes."
Harry felt his stomach fall. If Doug had a drug habit that explained a lot and it made Harry very uncomfortable. You couldn't trust a druggie.
"I see. Well, here's a hundred pounds. You said we'd split it and that's exactly half. One hundred pounds in bills, six pound coins and one two pound."
Doug bit his lip. "Don't suppose you could spot me fifty quid, could ya."
Harry thought about it. "No. You've been a good friend to me but I won't help you support a habit that is killing you. If you'd wanted it for food, that'd be different."
Doug looked like he wanted to say something but they were back at the squat so he didn't.
Harry took off his shirt and let Doug smear the antibiotic cream on him. Doug capped the tube and sighed. "Harry, I gotta go back out. I'm gettin' the shakes. Be good an' stay here, ok?"
Harry nodded, he wasn't feeling the best, in fact he felt worse than he had this morning. He rolled up in the blanket and lay down to see if he couldn't get some sleep.
He was awakened by cries of "Coppers!" and "Scarper!" he groaned and stuffed the blanket into his pack. He hid behind a pile of boxes for a moment then decided, he apparated away clear to Dublin again. He hung around a small square for most of the day then went back to the squat. It was empty.
Harry looked around with despair in his heart, he was alone again, with no idea what to do next. He decided to try to pick up a john, he had money but it wouldn't hurt to have some put back. And he was sure the square would be sparsely populated since the squat had been raided.
He settled on an open heat grate, a metal grate set in the pavement, over some machinery in this case. After watching the people walking around for a while, he decided to just stay where he was. There weren't enough johns to go around and the more skilled of the boys were all up front and center. He wouldn't get a 'kiss my foot'.
He dozed off and on for a while, until a cop kicked his foot. "Sorry, son, you got to move on. I don't want to arrest you for vagrancy, so I'm going on. If you're still here when I get back around, you're going in."
Harry got up wearily. He was tired, cold and hungry. He didn't have a good coat because his uncle had sold it. All he had was a light windbreaker he'd taken from Dudley. He hadn't taken the heavy coat for two reasons. One, he didn't want Dudley to be cold and two, it was huge on him. Then he thought about the money in his backpack pocket. He'd been hoping to keep most of it for a while but he was going to have to use it sooner or later. He dug into his pack only to find that the cash he'd gotten from Doug was gone. He knew exactly what had happened to it too. Doug had looked a bit shamefaced before they got back to the squat. Somehow he'd gotten it out of the pack while Harry was distracted. Harry dug deeper and found his box. He took one of the bills he'd stolen from Uncle Vernon and returned it to it's normal size. He'd just have to try to get it exchanged into smaller bills. The stash was all 50's.
He entered a small shop and picked up a sandwich. He went to the checkout and handed over the bill. The lady behind the counter squinted at him for a moment then swiped a marker over the face of the bill.
"Get out! Go on! You're not playing your tricks here. I know counterfeit when I see it. And leave the sandwich. Get!"
Harry snatched the bill back, clutched the sandwich to his chest and ran. Followed by the woman's shouts he scurried into an alley and ran on. He kept going for several blocks then ducked into a cul-de-sac where he scrunched himself into as small a ball as he could manage, wrapping himself around his pack. He gobbled the inadequate sandwich then settled to sleep until dawn.
As soon as he was sure that the place would be open, Harry went to a bank. He approached the counter and waited until the teller looked at him. He knew he looked scruffy. He was dirty and disheveled, he was sure she'd send him to the right about. But she just looked at him so he handed the bill over.
"The lady at the shop told me it was counterfeit. Is it?"
The teller examined the streak of marker on the bill, held it up to the light and snapped it between her hands. "Yes, I'm afraid it is." She put the bill under a weight and gazed at Harry. "Thank you."
Harry waited, and waited. "Excuse me. Could I have my money?"
The teller gave Harry a funny look. "What money?"
"My fifty pounds. I brought that bill in. I'd like my money."
"The bill is confiscated. Counterfeit. Sorry."
Harry felt confused, he'd brought the counterfeit in. Why weren't they giving him his money?
"Yes, so could I have my fifty pounds please." Harry felt the security guard move closer. "It's all the money I have right now. Could I please have it?"
The teller gave Harry a sympathetic look. "I'm sorry. Counterfeit is confiscated, you don't get it back. You're out fifty pounds. Please clear the window." Harry just stared at her for a moment as a cold chill rippled over him. They were actually going to just take his money? It wasn't fair.
"But that's not fair. How was I supposed to know it was counterfeit. What am I supposed to do now?"
The teller got defensive. "I'm sure I don't know. But you have to leave the bank now. Please don't make a scene or I'll have to have the security remove you forcibly. Go home. Make up with your parents."
Harry just stood for a moment trying to get his head around the fact that the bank, in the person of this rather snooty woman had just taken fifty pounds from him. "If I had parents I wouldn't be in this fix. Thanks for nothing." Harry just walked away. He didn't need the additional attention throwing a fit would bring and he knew it wouldn't do any good.
Harry trudged along the sidewalk looking for some place to settle for a bit. He finally sat down at a bus stop.
Thinking furiously, he realized that if one bill was counterfeit the rest probably were too. He couldn't afford to try to pass another. The woman had looked at him closely too. He suddenly realized that a boy like him, living on the streets, wouldn't have a bill that large unless it was counterfeit or stolen. He sighed, he was effectively broke. He had, he pulled the small roll of bills Dudley had given him out of his pocket and counted it, twenty pounds in notes, six pounds in coin and a few pence. He wondered how long he could make it last.
He realized that he was feeling even worse than ever, hot and shaky and so hungry. He was more used to going without than he liked to admit, but even he had to eat sooner or later. He decided to try a market. There were sandwich fixings and other cold foods. He'd rather a hot meal but he'd make do with whatever he could afford. But he figured at two pounds for breakfast and no more than five for supper, he was going to be out of money in no more than four days. He had to find a stand somewhere.
He walked into the grocery store and realized that there was a small café there. He looked at the menu and knew that he couldn't afford it, not if his money was to last very long. He slumped dejectedly and went to the cooler to get a preprepared sandwich. He paid at the check out and wolfed the food down before he was out the door.
Harry spent the better part of the day walking. He couldn't stop for long, if he stood in a doorway, he was in the way of people going in and out so the shopkeeper ran him off. If he tried to sit at a bus stop, a transit cop or beat cop would make him leave, threatening to lock him up as a vagrant. He couldn't win. He knew he was losing it. The streets were eating him alive but he didn't know what to do about it. All he could do was try to find a john, make some money and find a squat.
He worried at his lower lip for a moment. He'd never actually done this, all he'd done was be look out for Doug. He'd seen everything the other boy had done, including attracting the john. Now he had to do it and he was scared.
"Excuse me. Would you like a blow job?" Harry picked this man because he was obviously gay. He winced as he realized that his approach was ... bad was too nice a word.
"Honey, I sure would, but not from you. You're too fresh a fish for me. What are you doing out here?"
Harry opened his mouth to reply but all that came out was a faint croak. He felt his knees buckling and tried to catch himself. Then he blacked out.
Frankie gazed at the recumbent figure for a second. He hadn't done more than ease the boy's fall. He was to much a light weight to do more.
"Well, well. This is so not good I can't even start." Frankie sighed, looked like they were going to adopt another 'orphan of the storms' "Johnny! Come here. Hurry, mate." Johnny hurried up to him and wrapped an arm around him.
Johnny peered down at Harry and made a face. "You want to take him home with us, right? He'll probably steal all the spoons or something. And how are we going to get him there? I'm not spoiling my manicure packing that great gowk."
Frankie shrugged. "I'll just call Mac. He's driving tonight. And a fiver will get him to stuff Mr Unconscious into the cab for us. Easy-peasy. Come on."
So the two got their friend, Mac, to put Harry in his cab and take them all back to the apartment. He was kind enough to carry Harry into the small guest bedroom and put him on the bed. He was rewarded with a quick kiss and a promise of a lap dance, gratis, the next time he came to The Silken Cage.
Then the two turned to their new charge.
"Well, he's out cold and shivering. I bet he's got pneumonia at the least. We better get him out of those filthy rags and into something clean. I'll get a pan of water so we can get him marginally clean. See if you can't get him out of that shirt at least."
"Fine, fine. I'm your slave."
Frankie gave Johnny a quick peck on the cheek and Johnny hugged him then said, "And don't you forget it."
They smiled at each other in the way that couples have then Johnny went out to find the pan.
When he got back he was startled by the look of fury on his generally gentle lovers face.
"What is it? Did he do something?"
"No. Just take a look."
Johnny took one look at Harry's back and quietly exploded. He kept his voice down but he cursed and swore for quite a while. If he'd been a wizard the house would probably have caught fire.
"Well, fuck. I'll call Angus. I wonder who his master was."
"Me too. I'd like to black ball the bastard."
Frankie took the basin and went into the bathroom to fill it and get a flannel. Johnny went to call the local Head Master, not to be confused with Headmaster, two completely different things.
Angus McNair took one look at Harry's back and flew into a rage of his own. "I don't recognize the young man, but if he was sceneing with a certain group I might not have. I'll ask around. When he comes to, you talk to him. We need to find out what happened to him."
Harry woke just in time to keep Dr. McNair from killing him.
"NO! I can't!" Harry slapped at the hypodermic and scrambled across the bed to get away from the red haired man.
Dr. McNair kept calm and just moved the needle out of the way of Harry's slap. "Now, take it easy. It's just an antibiotic. It'll help with the infection. And ye've got a dandy."
Harry peered blearily at the man and realized that he was not in a clinic or hospital. In fact he wasn't sure where he was. He decide to handle one problem at a time.
"I'm sorry. You scared me. But I can't have an injection, I'm ... um ... alergic! That's it, allergic to ... I don't remember what one it is, though." He settled back carefully to see how that went over.
"Ach! I see. Well, I'll have to give you a cream then." The doctor fished in his satchel and found the tube of cream. He handed it to Frankie and sat down on a chair. "Do you know where you are?"
Harry shook his head. "No. All I remember is ... um ... oh, hell. I can't be here. I better go. Excuse me. But could you give me my pack?"
Johnny nodded to the pack, propped in the corner. "It's right there. But you really can't go anywhere. Not yet. You're in no shape to leave."
"But ... you can't want me here. I ... um ... approached you. You know!" Harry's face flamed in embarrassment.
Frankie nodded. "Of course, I know. And very sweet it was too. So innocent. But ... that's neither here nor there. You can't leave, you'll die. You're sick. Now ..." Frankie reached out to Harry. "Get back in the bed and let Dr Angus see to you. We'll take care of you until you're well, then we'll figure something out. But right now you just need to rest."
Harry glanced from Frankie to Johnny to Dr Angus. They all seemed to be nice people so Harry followed his most reliable guide, his gut, and eased back into the middle of the full size bed and lay down. He was still very tired and hot.
"Ok, but I'll pay my way. I'm no charity case, no matter what anyone says."
Harry endured having his back cleaned with his typical stoicism. The cream had an analgesic in it, so it wasn't too bad. Harry wondered if he could work a healing charm on himself later. He was too sick to think about it much now.
He felt a gentle hand pat his cheek. "Um ... sorry. What did you say?"
Johnny repeated himself patiently. "I said, we need to know who did this to you, so we can go to the police."
Harry turned his head away. "No. Please, just ... no."
Dr McNair cleared his throat. "Listen. I know how hard it is." Harry moved slightly, a physical denial. "Yes, I do. When someone you've placed your trust in, misuses it like this, it's hard. But we need to do something about your master before he does this to another sub."
Harry rolled over onto his side. "I don't know what you're on about. Master? Sub? It was my uncle, ok? If you tell anyone, I'll have to go back. This time he just might kill me. Please. I heal fast, I do. I'll be gone in a week, maybe not that long. I'll pay. I'll work really hard. I'm strong."
Dr McNair's Scottish background showed abruptly. "Och! Ye pur bairn. Devil take him." He took a deep breath. "You'll be safe here. We'll hide you, if we have to."
Harry just sighed and rolled back over. "Thank you." He was asleep before they could say another word.
Frankie and Johnny had been careful to put all Harry's things on the bedside table, including his wand. They had no idea what it was but, since he'd clung to it like grim death, they'd decided that, what ever it was, it was important to Harry. They'd even taken care to polish it with a dry cloth.
Johnny sighed, frustrated and angry. "We better go through his stuff. I hate to but he's not going to let go of any information. And we need to know who he is and where he came from. If that's the work of his uncle, we need to know who the bastard is so we can spread the word."
Frankie ran a hand through his hair, disarranging the artful curls. "Yes, and, damned if we do, etc. So..." He picked up the pack and carried it to the parlor.
The settled at a small card table and dumped the contents of Harry's pack onto the table. They sifted through the mess of clothing with grim expressions. All Harry's clothing was obviously second hand. His blanket they folded and put aside to be laundered. Harry's little box was of interest but they didn't know what they were looking at. They thought its contents were keepsakes of some sort. They carefully returned its contents and closed it.
"Well, that was depressing. Poor little guy. I'll wash all that. But we've got to get him out of those rags sooner or later. I'm not having him ruin our reputations." Frankie preened a bit and Johnny rubbed his shoulder.
"You're right. He can't wander around looking like that. Horrible. And those glasses? Not in my house. So. When he gets better you want him to work?"
"Why not? It's not like we'll let him be harmed. And he looks so sweet, and innocent." Frankie rolled his eyes. "Would you like a blow job? I nearly fell over." they had a good laugh at Harry's approach.
Johnny stretched, examined his fingernails carefully for damage to his manicure and, not finding any, led his lover off to bed.
Albus Dumbeldore looked and Severus Snape with hopeful eyes. "Did you find anything?"
"Not a thing. The boy is ... impossible. He aparated three times in less than twenty minutes. A thing I find difficult in the best of circumstances. Then he took a train back to London and disappeared completely. I have a few contacts in the Muggle world and have asked them to keep a look out."
Dumbledore offered Snape a biscuit which he refused but he accepted the tea. "Do you have any idea what prompted Harry to take off like that? Any at all?"
Snape sneered over his teacup. "He didn't want to return to the Dursleys. He said, and I quote, 'They're not nice to me' spoiled brat. Now I have to waste my time searching for him. It's cold out."
Dumbledore nodded. "He was well aware of Snape's hate of cold weather. "I know. I'm very sorry about all this. But we have to find Harry soon. He's been gone two weeks already. How is he living?"
Snape finished his tea, tapping the cup with his wand to refresh it, he continued. "He stole quite a bit of money from his uncle. Mr Dursley claims upward of a thousand pounds he had put by for Christmas presents. That would allow him to stay gone for quite some time, if he husbands his funds carefully."
"I see. Quite frankly, I don't believe it. Harry's not a thief. We have to keep this quite close to the vest. If He finds out... well, I don't like to contemplate the consequences."
Snape nodded. "He is taking time right now to organize something. I don't yet know exactly what but he's noticed that I'm 'off' as he put it. He wants me to rest until I'm needed, in fact, he's forbidden me to attend the next meeting. I don't like it. What the hell is he up to? What if he has that repellant brat? Damnit!"
Dumbledore was suffering from the same feeling so he didn't say much. He just recommended that Snape take the opportunity to do exactly as the Dark Lord ordered and rest.
Draco Malfoy was delirious with joy. He was, at last, going to be allowed to attend a meeting of the Death Eaters. His father, Lucius Malfoy, had said that he was ordered. Draco was proud that the Dark Lord had asked for him by name.
The meeting place was disappointing, just an open and rather muddy field. He wasn't even sure where it was.
The Dark Lord approached and Draco trembled in anticipation. He found the true appearance of his lord less than attractive.
Then Malfoy Sr was called to the Dark Lord's side. He approached and Draco was disturbed to realized that he was nearly cringing. What was this? It was an honor to serve.
It only got worse.
"I am not pleased." Lucius froze about half way across the clearing. "I have told you to find Potter. You have not done so." The Bonebending Hex hit Lucius in the legs, making him fall to the ground with a sharp cry. "Now come here. And leave that bratt of yours there. I don't want him now."
So Draco watched his father drag himself to his lords feet, forced to grovel in the muck.
"My lord, I am sorry that I have disappointed you. I've been searching for Potter's home diligently. It's just not possible, with my humble skills, to find him. Please, forgive." Lucius bit his lip as he reached to touch the Dark Lords hem. Voldemort twitched it out of reach.
Obviously not ready to forgive him yet, Voldemort motioned for him to retreat. All Lucius could do was drag himself painfully out of the way. Draco's heart broke. He loved his father so much, this was unacceptable. He couldn't stand the sight of him, his fine clothing muddied and scuffed from groveling on the ground. His face was smudged with dirt and grass stains. His beautiful silvery hair full of grass stems and filth. He made a life altering decision in a split second.
Draco approached Voldemort carefully. "Please, my lord, allow me to take my father away. It is plain that he has displeased you. He should come home with me. If you allow." Draco tried to make his voice and demeanor humble and self-effacing. He succeed well enough that Voldemort sneered at him and said that, if he could get it done, he was welcome to do it. Draco helped his father turn over onto his back and dragged him from the clearing.
In the trees, Draco stopped to rest a bit then took out his wand. "Levi Corpus." The spell lifted Lucius into the air and Draco guided him away.
When Draco got Lucius home, he took him directly to his quarters. It didn't take the house elves long to get him stripped of his filthy clothing, clean, and into bed. Draco realized why his father hated the house elves so much. They saw him when he came from a disaster like the meeting and he resented it. He had a lot to think about, so he made sure his father was comfortable and left.
The first thing he did was research the curse to see if he could brew a potion to counter it, but it seemed that it had to wear off of itself. He grumbled a bit but resigned himself to waiting until his father was back on his feet before the confrontation. It was going to be hard enough on both of them without the added stress of Lucius being flat on his back.
It took him three long days to recover, three days in which Draco see-sawed between revulsion, disgust, fury and fear. He wasn't brave, he was a Slytherin after all. But this was unendurable.
Lucius was sitting in his private study, feet on a stool. He looked better but still not recovered.
"Father, I wish to speak to you."
"Yes, Draco, I imagine you do. Please, sit down."
Draco settled in the other chair and sighed, shoving his hair off his cheek.
"I hope I have always been a good and dutiful son. I've always tried to be."
Lucius wondered what this was about. "You are all any father could want. I hope you know that."
"Thank you." Draco inclined his head slightly. "This is very difficult for me and I will understand if, after you've heard me out, you ask me to leave Malfoy Manor."
"Draco. Please. I'm still not feeling quite the thing. Get to the point without all this roundaboutation."
Draco took a deep breath. "I refuse to take the Mark. I will NOT serve Voldemort. If you cannot support me in thi,s I will leave. I cannot stand to see the way he abused you again. And I will most certainly not submit myself to such ... indignities. Now, if you ask me to, I will remove to the London residence. And, if you wish, I will find other accommodations when I graduate."
Lucius sighed, he'd thought this might be coming. "I see. You won't reconsider?"
Draco just shook his head, looking remarkably stubborn. "No. Absolutely not. As you know I have sufficient moneys of my own to support myself. I would hate to cause a scandal but I will if you force me to."
"No, Draco, my young dragon. I will not force your hand in this. The only reason I have managed to submit to him is that I feared for your life. I have watched him descend into madness. He's completely batty." Draco winced a bit. "What? I'm not allowed to use the current slang? Please. But I digress. He's lost sight of the prize, for lack of a better simile. He now wants to destroy all Muggles, Squibs and sympathizers. He'll decimate the population of the UK for nothing. All he'll do is attract attention that will destroy the Wizarding World."
"Exactly. So, father, what do we do next?"
Lucius sighed. "You're not going to like this one bit." Draco just gave his father all his attention and refrained from remark. "I'm going to have to exile your mother to La Isle de Frazes. She's too much the sycophant. I ... we can't trust her for a moment." Draco started to make a heated remark. "Son, I know you love her very much. But please, be sensible. We can't trust that she won't lower the wards and let him in. He'll charm her with flattery and he'll turn on her the instant he's inside. So she goes to France. Then we shut ourselves up in the manor until he gets bored and forgets about us. Much like a petulant brat forgets a broken toy."
Draco nodded, picking at his lip. "Yes. I see. And when he forgets about us?"
"We begin to repair the Malfoy name. I do believe he's going to lose this war."
Draco nodded. "If he's as batty as you say, I know it. Potter is absolutely the most stubborn git I've ever met. And I'm going to have to suck up to him. If they ever find him."
Lucius started. "What? Find him? What the hell are you talking about?"
Draco gave his father a smug smirk. "Well, he's been missing from that Muggle place he lives for a while. I heard two of the Death Eaters wondering if they should tell Him or not. I think they decided not."
Lucius just eased back into his chair, thinking furiously. "Hummm. That's very interesting."
Draco settled back in his chair, things were already looking up.
Lucius raised his head from the contemplation of the fire that had absorbed him for the last few minutes. "And, Draco? Don't suck up to him. He's a Gryffindor. You better mean every word you say to him or we're doomed. Do you understand?"
Draco grimaced but admitted that he did. Gryffindors were so very ... earnest.
Harry woke feeling a bit better. He rolled over carefully and took a mental stock of himself. He was stiff, sore and hot feeling. He glanced around the room and liked what he saw. The room was small but nearly half again the size of his room at the Dursley's. The bed was in the far corner from the door with a trunk at its feet. Against the wall opposite the foot a small armoire stood and next to it a chair. The wall containing the door was bare but tucked into the corner to the right of the door was a small comfortable chair with a foot stool and, at its side a three in one table-reading lamp-book case. Then, snugged cheek by jowl, a student desk. Nearly hidden in a small nook was a door that Harry assumed led to a loo. He liked the fact that the bed had been placed so that he could look out the only window from where he lay.
He eased out of bed and took the three steps to the door in the nook. It was a loo, small and neat, with only a shower stall, sink and toilet. But it was cosily warm and draft free. He stripped off his pyjama bottoms and turned on the shower. He had to get clean and see what he could do to earn his keep.
He washed quickly and towel dried his hair. He went to his backpack to get some clean clothing and realized that it was empty of everything but his box. He panicked for a second then realized that someone must have taking his things to wash. They had been rather dirty. He decided to find the laundry room first and start a load. Then? The kitchen maybe. He picked up a pair of sweat pants from the foot of the bed, one of the men must have left them for him, thank goodness.
The kitchen turned out to be a galley kitchen, very small and a bit narrow but efficient and well stocked. Harry decided to clean it extra well and opened the doors beneath the sink to find cleaning products. He started to clean then realized that he'd better find the laundry first.
He put the cleaning things on the table and went to find the laundry. It was the first door he opened, the one right behind the kitchen. He explored a bit farther to find the next door was a full size bath, it needed a bit of attention too, Harry marked that down in his memory. The last door on that side was locked so Harry moved on. The first door on the other side of the hall was his room and the last one was a bed suit that obviously belonged to ... Harry realized that he didn't even know the names of his rescuers.
After sorting the laundry, mostly his things, and starting a load, Harry felt ill again. He returned to the kitchen and started to clean. He took his time and did the best job he knew how. It surprised him when a voice from the door drawled, "Young man, if you're not back in your bed in two minutes, I'll be ... displeased. Go."
Harry took one look a the mans face and scampered back to his room. Stripping off his clothing he got back in the bed and pulled the covers up to his armpits. He was just finishing covering himself when his rescuers came in.
"Well, that's better. I'm Johnny and that's Frankie. No jokes please."
Harry looked puzzled but nodded. "Ok. No jokes. Thank you."
"You're welcome. Now, I'd really like to know what the hell you think you're doing."
Harry blinked for a second. "Oh! Um ... I thought I was earning my keep?"
Frankie sashayed over to the chair against the wall. "I see. Well, first, we know your name. Harry? But what's the rest?"
Harry experienced a moment of pure panic, then realized that the men wouldn't know him from Adam. "Potter. Harry Potter."
Johnny nodded. "Ok, Harry, it's like this. You're really sick. I ... we don't want you making yourself worse, so no out of bed until the doctor allows. We don't want you having a relapse, got me?"
Harry nodded, he understood this, these men didn't want to have to nurse him any longer than necessary. "I do. I'll be good. But once I'm better I've got to ... contribute to the house somehow. Um ... unless you'd rather I left?"
Frankie gave an irritated little noise, sort of like "tich" "Sweetness, you'll do no such thing. I'm not rescuing you just to have you starve on the street. Now ... first you get better, then we discuss what you can do to earn your keep. Rest now, worry later. Ok?"
Harry couldn't believe that these men, perfect strangers, were being so kind to him. "Thank you. I'll try really hard. I won't be a burden. I swear."
Johnny gave Harry a shrewd, accessing look. "No, you won't. I wouldn't insult your intelligence by letting you be. Now rest."
Harry settled back to do just that. He wished he had some potions, he'd feel better for a Healing Draught or so. He nibbled at his lower lip for a moment then gave up. There was no way he could brew any, even if his skills had been up to it. The herbs and other ingredients weren't available.