Fixed 7/21/12: Okay so someone brought up the timeline and to tell you the truth I completely forgot that it would be around the 1990's when Harry finishes his fifth year. So, I've decided to go a little AU on the story and change the time slightly so that it's the year 2000 when Harry finishes his fifth year just so the computers can be more high tech (I planned on Batman's cave being filled with nice technology so yeah). So I did go back and change the game console to fit in with that time XD, since I know the xbox 360 wasn't out in 2000. I apologize for the confusion.
Okay so I could feed you excuses but I won't. Honestly this chapter just took a very long time to write. I'm still not satisfied with it. I feel like everyone is out of character and that it's choppy. I had a hard time figuring out where to give more detail and where to give less… I seriously started this chapter last year but I just couldn't write it to my standards. *Sigh* so really any feedback would be wonderful.
Important Note: I will not be using a beta for the rest of the time it takes me to finish this story only because of my sporadic uploading. I don't think it would be fair to a beta and so I decided that once I finish this story I will find a beta to look over each chapter and help me figure out plot holes and bad grammar. Depending on how much is changed I might just upload the whole story again as a rewrite or something.
That being said, I have re-read this chapter over once and fixed the mistakes I found but it is by no means perfect, I am horrible with grammar. You have been warned.
So I won't bore you with any more talking and let you all get on with the story… you know… if anyone is actually left reading this XD.
Disclaimer is in first chapter
Last Note: I'm gonna say that when Bruce took Harry from the hospital it was a little after lunch so hopefully the time towards the end will be believable. If not and someone is really bothered by it just tell me and I'll try to fix it the best I can.
- - -Mentor- - -
Chapter Five: No Room for Jokes
For the most part Harry stared out the window at the passing buildings. He noticed that the closer they got to their destination the better the view became. He wondered why that was and asked Alfred.
Alfred gave him an amused smile, surprised that Harry had noticed, "Hmm, that's because we are getting closer to the shopping district and since it's the part of Gotham that most people travel through the police and government try to keep it as nice as possible."
Harry hummed in understanding, "Makes sense, I guess."
It took about twenty minutes to get to the actual shopping district but to Harry it was worth the drive. Everything seemed bigger and nicer. There were lots of lights and signs here which made Gotham seem almost like a normal city compared to it's regular gloomy looks. Although Harry had no real basis to go off on as to what a normal city looked like, he never really paid close attention to London when he was there, but from what he had noticed of London this part of Gotham looked somewhat similar. A lot of the outer part of the shopping district was made of skyscrapers and businesses until they got to the middle where all the stores were. The stores weren't nearly as big as the businesses but there were some that were about three to four stories high.
"So, I was thinking that we could find a parking spot and explore the shopping district. What do you think?" Alfred asked Harry, glancing at him.
"That sounds fine.." Harry replied after a moment, he still wasn't used to an adult actually asking for his opinion on things. He was too used to being either bossed around by the Dursleys or being told what was good for him by Dumbledore and occasionally Mrs. Weasley.
Alfred gave him an almost praising smile, "Excellent." he then pulled into one of those parking garages that looked to be about five stories high, paying the man next to the opening so they could continue in. After Alfred found a parking spot on the second floor they got out and soon they were back in the open with Harry looking around and up at all the different stores.
Alfred could see that Harry was overwhelmed and so he grabbed Harry by the arm gently.
Harry jumped at the feeling of someone grabbing him only to scold himself as he looked up and saw Alfred's concerned face. "Sorry," Harry started sheepishly, "You startled me."
Alfred gave him a small smile, "Then it's me who should apologize. I was just going to suggest that we head to a formal clothing store and get that part of the shopping out of the way so that we can have some fun."
Harry smiled, relieved. "Yeah sure, how bad could it be?"
Alfred laughed but refused to explain why when Harry looked at him questioningly. He couldn't wait to see Harry's reaction to just how bad it could be.
Alfred's answering laugh didn't do anything to help Harry's nerves about going into the formal wear store. However, he was convinced nothing could be as bad as standing on a stool being poked by Madam Malkin's needles.
- - -Mentor- - -
Harry hated being wrong. This store was way worse than Madam Malkin's. He had followed Alfred into the store tentatively and stood back to let him do all the talking with the owner, that was probably his first mistake.
Before he knew what was happening he heard a gasp and the owner say, "Well, that just won't do!". Then before he knew it he was being dragged to the back where a stool stood surrounded by mirrors. He of course knew what this meant, a store that made custom clothes.
The owner then disappeared murmuring something about colors and suddenly Alfred appeared a moment later walking in while laughing lightly. This was put to a stop by Harry turning to glare at him, "You set me up." he said, pouting at the other man.
Alfred, who had been trying to mask his laughs after being glared at, smirked at him. "No did not. I told you it wouldn't be fun."
Harry huffed and turned away.
Alfred just smiled at Harry's back and leaned out the doorway yelling, "Don't forget undergarments and shoes please!"
Harry's eyes widened as he turned back to the man, "You are evil! Luring me in with cookies and milk and then torturing me with this." Harry told him while looking at Alfred suspiciously. Inside he was sighing with relief, he had almost made a joke about Alfred being a death eater in disguise before remembering he was a muggle. It made him realize just how unfamiliar he was with having a muggle companion he actually enjoyed spending time with.
"Yes, it was my evil plan all along." Alfred joked with him, his eyes glinting with humor.
The joking with Alfred continued for a bit after that. Which, in all honesty, he still had no idea where that come from. It had just felt like the right thing to do at the time, especially after their short bonding moment earlier back home. It wasn't until after they had settled down that the owner had returned. This was also the moment that Harry had filed away as the most awkward moment in his life. This was because Harry then had to deal with the owner measuring his whole body. He quickly learned it was much more embarrassing having someone do it personally than just having a tape measurer magically measure him. It had seemed like hours before the owner finally finished. Then both the butler, in which Harry glared at him for joining in and Alfred expertly ignored said glare, and owner had started shoving different colors and fabrics at him, talking about which kinds went best. Harry didn't even try to get a word in, feeling as if it wasn't worth it and so zoned out for most of it. He was just hoping that this would be for special occasions only.
It wasn't until about an hour later that it was all finished and they were told to come back in one week to see how it all fit and make final adjustments. This information had made Harry groan internally, at least with Madam Malkin you only had to endure the torture once until you had to go back for new robes once the old one's became too small. However, even though the experience had been uncomfortable and annoying he was still grateful for it all, he knew in the muggle world that custom clothes were quite expensive and he didn't even want to think about how expensive those clothes that Alfred just ordered for him were.
It wasn't until after they were leaving the store that a question come to mind. "Alfred?" Harry asked, getting the man's attention, "Why did the store owner himself do all that? Isn't it usually an assistant who does the measuring?"
Alfred looked at him with something akin to pride, "My, you are observant aren't you?"
This made Harry blush and shrug at the man, making Alfred smile.
"Yes, usually such things are handled by an assistant but since Bruce is a regular customer who is known to give good tips the owner usually handles everything himself to make sure it all goes well and Bruce has no reason to find any place else." Alfred told Harry as they walked on the sidewalk.
Harry gave a noise of understanding, "Makes sense, I guess. So, erm…. Where are we going now?" he asked still feeling slightly overwhelmed at all the stores.
Alfred noticed this and decided to make some suggestions. "Well, we could always go and get some casual clothes and then you will have some money to get anything else you may want, like games or books. Just things to entertain yourself with." Alfred told him.
Harry felt himself flush, "Okay, but there's really no need to get me games or books or anything.."
Alfred glanced down at his charge and gave a concerned frown when he noticed how uncomfortable the boy had gotten, "Don't be silly Harry. It would be no problem to get you some things to entertain yourself with."
Harry fidgeted but gave a small, quick nod.
Alfred felt like he had to do something to distract the young man and so he reached over and ruffled his hair. He smirked as Harry yelled out, disgruntled and mumbling something that sounded like 'not my hair' while trying, in vain, to fix it.
"Now, I know a wonderful place that has teenage clothing that you might enjoy."
- - -Mentor- - -
After Harry spent about two hours with Alfred in a posh looking clothing store they both came out with way too many bags of clothing and had to go unload them into the car before moving on.
It was during this that Harry gathered his courage and turned to Alfred. "Thank you for all this." he told the man uncomfortably before turning away quickly and reaching for another bag.
Alfred's eyes softened and he grabbed Harry by the shoulders. This action stopped Harry from grabbing the next bag and made him look into the older gentleman's eyes.
"I'm glad you are grateful Harry, but please I am only doing what's right by clothing you. I'll admit I may of gone a bit overboard because I felt like you deserved it but I did nothing special. Besides," Alfred continued, smirking, " it isn't even my money."
Harry, about ready to retort to the first part, paused as Alfred mentioned the last bit. Harry had to choke out his sentence, "Not… your money?" he asked shocked.
Alfred smirked, "I am still just a butler you know. I may get paid over what normal people would earn in a similar job because I am like family to Master Bruce, but he was the one who gave me free range over his own money to buy you things."
Harry literally felt himself pale, "But won't he be upset?" he asked, guiltily.
Alfred noticed his charge's condition and frowned in concern. "No, what we bought so far has barely made a dent in Master Bruce's earnings. Besides we both agreed you could use a bit of pampering."
Harry, who unsuccessfully ignored that last part, blushed. However, he had a feeling the whole pampering thing was more so Alfred's idea than Bruce's. Which made Harry think… 'We bought a lot of really expensive clothing today and yet it didn't make a dent? Did that mean all this meant nothing to Bruce? That spending this amount of money was a common thing and most likely just done so I wouldn't embarrass Bruce in public?'
Before Harry could continue his line of thought Alfred broke through them, almost as if knowing what Harry was thinking. "Do not think that just because Bruce can be frivolous with his spending habits that all this means nothing. Not only do I care about you but I don't want you to doubt for a second that Master Bruce does as well. I know you have doubts right now about how much Master Bruce cares about you but I hope that soon you will see that he does." Alfred told Harry, trying to reassure the young man as best as he knew how.
Harry did feel himself relax at those words and he gave a small smile to the man, "Well, thank you… again. And I guess I owe Bruce a thank you as well?.." Harry asked him before trailing off.
Alfred nodded and before the silence could get awkward he decided it was time to move on to the fun part of the shopping trip. "Now, why don't we go look at some video consoles and games. Then we can stop and get some books too if you want."
Harry sputtered at this, "But I really don't need those things… I mean… I've never really played video games or read books for fun…" he said trailing off once more, looking slightly uncomfortable.
"Well, what about sports? Do you want to get anything so you can play? We could get you equipment and sign you up with a trainer if you want to learn something new." Alfred told Harry, frowning slightly.
Harry, if possible, began to look even more uncomfortable. "Um… that's really not necessary… I don't really play too many sports or paid enough attention to any to see if they looked interesting…"
This made Alfred look at Harry with real concern, after all what teenage boy didn't participate in at least one of those three things, "Well, what do you do for fun?"
Harry blushed and shrugged, not meeting the man's face.
Alfred felt that something was very wrong with this but decided to let it go because it obviously caused his charge distress. He cleared his throat, "We will just have to fix this then, won't we?" Alfred told Harry before steering him towards the nearest game store.
Harry looked up at the man in shock, "What do you mean?"
Alfred smiled down at him, "Why, it means we are going to go so you can find something to occupy yourself with. After all it does get boring around the house with nothing to." he said, simply.
Harry just let himself be led towards the store, not having an comeback for what Alfred said.
As soon as they made it into the game store Harry was immediately overwhelmed. Games in their cases covered all the walls and in the middle of the store held other games and accessories and then behind the cashiers desk there were different consoles.
Alfred gently led Harry towards the desk which held a younger man behind it, probably in his late twenties, "He's here to purchase a console and some games but he's not sure which one to purchase. Could you help us pick one out?"
The young man's face lit up and he turned to Harry, "Well, if you are looking for a console worth it's price I would recommend the Sony Playstation. We've gotten very good reviews for the product and there are many awesome games you can play with it. Plus the controls are simple."
Harry honestly didn't understand what any of that meant and when he glanced at Alfred he noticed that he didn't either. So, trying not to show how inept he was with gaming consoles, he just nodded. "Erm, sure that sounds great.."
The young cashier grinned. "Awesome, while I get that for you, you should go ahead and check out some games."
Harry looked up at Alfred for assurance.
"Go on Harry, I'll wait here for you." Alfred told him, smiling, "My guess is that all the one's that have the words Playstation on them are the one's you should pick from."
Harry gave an unsure nod and turned to go look at games. He walked over and grabbed one of the first one's on the self and looked at it. It said: 'Ace Combat 2' and by looking at the small summary on the back he learned it was some sort of shooting game with airplanes. It didn't really appeal to him so he set it down.
Finally after sifting through more games he found three that seemed interesting and so he carried them up to where Alfred and the guy were waiting. As he made it up Alfred turned and looked at him and the games, "Is that all you want?"
Harry nodded and placed the games on the counter where the guy then began to scan them.
Everything went smoothly and soon Harry and Alfred were leaving the store.
As they were leaving, Harry convinced Alfred that he didn't need to stop anywhere else tonight since it was getting late and so they decided to drop off the purchases in the car and go out to eat.
Alfred decided to take Harry somewhere more laid back from where Bruce would usually go out for dinner and so took Harry to an Applebee's that was nearby.
It was two hours later when the two made their way out with their leftover's secured in their arms. Alfred had gotten Harry and extra cheesecake dessert when he noticed how much Harry had enjoyed it. Even though Harry had complained and tried to tell Alfred that it wasn't like they couldn't come back another time but Alfred wasn't having it.
On the way back to the car they made some small talk and enjoyed each others company but Harry knew it was too good to be true.
It was about 10pm, they had just turned the block and were about five blocks away from the parking garage when it happened. The bank up ahead exploded and Alfred found himself dropping his bags and grabbing Harry to shield him from any flying debris.
Harry had to stop himself from going for his wand but then remembered he had left it in his suitcase anyway. He almost cursed himself for not having it but he really hadn't had anywhere to put it with the baggy clothes he was wearing.
Thankfully only some small debris hit the two and Alfred released Harry before grabbing him by the shoulders and steering him away from the action.
Harry was still quite shocked at what happened but more so he was befuddled by Alfred's lack of shock. "What's going on?" he asked, confused.
Alfred just shook his head, looking back cautiously.
A moment later an awful laughter filled the air which made Harry shudder something fierce. "What was that" Harry exclaimed trying to look back even as Alfred protested but he was able to twist away and look back at what had to be one of the most terrifying scenes of his life, a scene which was right up there with his encounter with Voldemort at the ministry. For up by the bank was a man in white makeup laughing crazily, even from this far away Harry could see the harsh red smile which made the hair on his arms stand on end.
"That's the Joker…" Alfred told Harry quietly.
"The Joker?" Harry asked confused, glancing back at Alfred before looking back at this man… the Joker.
Suddenly the Joker seemed to glance in their direction, this made Alfred react once more in pulling Harry away. However before his view of the man disappeared completely another person came out of no where knocking the Joker down. Harry cried out in surprise which was sudden enough for Alfred to become distracted.
Alfred glanced back at what had caught Harry's attention and smiled. "And that is Batman, our city's protector."
Harry watched in slight awe as Batman knocked a gun away from the Joker and then punched him the face. "Wow… this is insane… I mean, I remember hearing that there was someone named Batman here protecting the city but I'll admit it was a little hard to believe. This… this is bloody insane." Harry said as he watched the battle.
Alfred smirked, "Language." he admonished before continuing, "It is quite incredible though… However we should really leave now before the fight gets too close to us and we get injured or worse. Trust me you do not ever want to catch the Joker's attention." Alfred warned before grabbing Harry a final time a successfully pulling him away.
They both made the long journey back to the car, the sound of the battle still close enough for them to hear and the bags of leftovers left in the street long forgotten.
- - -Mentor- - -
When they got home Harry realized Bruce wasn't back from wherever he had went off to earlier today. Harry was starting to think he should expect this cycle from the man. As he and Alfred brought his purchases up to his room he couldn't help but wonder why Bruce even bothered adopting him if he was just going to ignore him. Despite Alfred's assurances that Bruce did indeed care for him he couldn't keep the thoughts at bay. He knew he shouldn't be making such assumptions when he had only known the man for a day but his first impressions weren't great.
Alfred seemed to sense that Harry needed some time alone and so once all the bags were upstairs he told Harry to get some rest and that they could take care of the bags tomorrow. 'In the meantime', Alfred thought, 'I need to have a little chat with a certain bat.'
Harry shot Alfred an appreciated glance as the man left and got ready for bed. At this point he just wanted to pass out on his new comfortable bed and forget about Bruce's absence and the crazy goings on of Gotham city. With this last thought Harry snuggled into the sheets and comforter and let himself drift off to sleep, dreaming of bats and snakes fighting to the death with the sound of the Joker's laughter echoing around them.
- - - Mentor- - -
Also the little dream at the end was inspired by that part in the first Harry Potter book where Harry has that weird dream with Snape, Quirrell and the turban. That part just came to me one day anddd just like the dream in the actual book this dream is symbolic, maybe : ).