Title: Harry Potter: Kidnapped
Summary: What if Harry decided growing up "on the street" was better than at the Dursleys and ran away as a child, becoming lost to the Wizarding world. Harry was very happy with his life until accidentally found by Albus Dumbledore, who *knew* that Harry had to train under him to fulfill a destiny. No significant pairing.
Ratings: PG-13, mild violence
((A/N: Not sure where this idea came from, but it did not want to let me go. It's been sitting on my hard drive for some months, and I thought I'd put it out here to clean up my writing area before I dive back into my bigger story. :-) The story is only 6 longish chapters and it should post fairly quickly.
For the purposes of this story, you should assume there is no Horcrux, and Voldemort found some other way to stay alive -- once. While there is a pairing in this story, it does not appear until the final scene, so feel free to assume "no 'ships" here, although he does get a little friendly along the way with a couple of girls vying for his attention.
I'd like to thank Zac for helping me by being my beta for this story. Any typos left in the story are my mistake and probably come from last minute editing after Zac had already seen it.
Time for the standard disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or his fictional world at large. His owner is someone commonly known as JKR. If it's recognizable as hers, it is; whatever is left over is mine. This is fan-fiction and no profits are intended.))
Harry Potter: Kidnapped
Harry Potter stared at the paper in his hand. The "100" on the top of the test was bad enough, but the smiley face beside it mocked him. He was tempted to throw it away, but the problem was that his cousin, Dudley Dursley, was in his second grade class, and so he knew Harry had taken the test too. Dudley also knew that Harry had a perfect score because the teacher had boasted that Harry was the only one to make a perfect score on the test. Harry also knew that Dudley would discuss the test, and Harry's results, over dinner. More accurately, Harry knew Dudley would talk about it just before dinner, and so he would be sent to his cupboard without dinner once again, while "perfect little Dudley" would get his normal dinner and Harry's too. Life was so unfair.
He sighed as he considered what would happen to him because of moment of forgetfulness to do only a little better than Dudley. Harry looked around at the other children in his class, and he was almost sure none of them had to worry about bringing home a perfect score. Harry put the paper away and picked up his reading book to look like everyone else while he thought, not that he was really reading; he did not need to as he had already read the section a couple of days ago.
What was he going to do? He remembered the missed meals and being throw into his cupboard when had scored much better than his cousin last year in first grade. His cupboard still had an odor to it because he had not been let out for an entire weekend. That incident had opened his eyes to a completely new set of injustices against him. He really wanted just to throw the paper away and claim that Dudley was lying about the perfect score, but his aunt and uncle always believed their son over him. He was just going to have to take his lumps and be more careful with his schoolwork, he thought bitterly.
Looking up, he saw his teacher grading papers. He wished he could tell her what was going on and see if she could help him, but he did not dare. Harry had tried that once with the school nurse, who had asked his aunt a few questions, and he had actually been cuffed around by his uncle when they had returned to the house. His injuries had not been too bad, but they had stung a lot and it had hurt to breathe deeply for the next few days because he had fallen onto the edge of the living room table.
He wished he did not have to deal with his relatives ever again, they were not his family. He wished he was on his own. He idly turned a page to make it look like he was reading as he thought. What would it be like to be on his own?
A devious smile crossed his face as he thought about doing what he wanted and not getting into trouble for it. That was enjoyable for a few minutes, until reality asserted itself. To be on his own also meant he would no longer be in his aunt's house. Where would he live? He considered that. He could live outside almost anywhere for another month or so. Eventually, it would get too cold and he'd have to find a house or shelter somewhere. That might not be too bad. He could live on his own during warm weather, and in a shelter in cold weather.
Would they try to send him back to his aunt when he went to a shelter? Well, that was easily avoided. Just don't tell them his real name, and he would have to get away from Surrey so no one would recognize him.
Food could be an issue, he considered. Well, he did not eat much now, so maybe he could find some money here and there or beg for it. Surely that could not be any worse than with his relatives, could it? He turned another page, not really reading this one either.
Shelter and food seemed to be the more important things, at least that he knew about. He considered it more. Maybe he could do it. Looking to his right and a little back, he saw his cousin whisper to his best friend Piers, who quietly chuckled and then looked at Harry with an evil smile. That did it; he would take his chances out in the world. If the worst happened, he could go to one of those orphanages his uncle threatened him with. He suspected his uncle was lying and they were not as bad as he said. His uncle lied about enough other things, Harry was never totally sure what was true and what was not.
Harry thought very carefully about what he needed to do. Dudley was further away from the door, that would help, as would the fact that Dudley was a slow runner. Harry really only needed two things from his aunt's house -- no three, no four. Harry wondered if he was forgetting anything else as his mental list grew.
He looked up at the clock on the wall and saw that the final bell for the day would ring in about two minutes. He could not go to school again, but he really did not want to stop learning. He could take his books with him, but that would be stealing. They would also slow him down with running. Another glance up showed he had about one minute.
Quickly, Harry pulled all of his books out of his little book bag and put them under his desk. The girl next to him frowned and stared, obviously wondering what he was doing. Ignoring her, he put all of "his" things into his book bag, paper and pencils being the most important. He closed his now much lighter bag and waited. His legs tensed as he readied for the first ring of the bell.
Half a minute later, the final bell started ringing and Harry shot out of his desk for the door surprising everyone, especially the teacher; but he was out before she could stop him. Not worrying about the school rule of not running in the hall, since he was not planning to return, he ran for the outside door. Hitting the bar to open the door barely slowed him down. With his light backpack bouncing on his back, Harry ran for his aunt's house, taking every short-cut he knew of.
He would easily beat his cousin back. The only real problem would be if his aunt, or especially his uncle, was there. Perhaps he could run past them, there were two doors in and out of the house.
Out of breathe, but not willing to stop, Harry ran up to the front door of #4 Privet Drive, pleased that his uncle's car was not in the driveway. The front door was locked and while that slowed him down, it also gave him hope that his aunt was probably not home. He ran around to the back and opened the door. Not seeing his aunt in the kitchen, he ran to the pantry and pulled out a grocery bag. As quickly as he could, he grabbed several bags of crisps and other packaged food that he could eat without having to cook and put them in the bag. Next, he went to the fridge and grabbed as much fruit as he could and put it in the bag too. That would give him some food for the next few days, if he was careful.
The next things on his mental list were his, so he ran to his cupboard. Opening it up, he pulled out his blanket and what few clothes he had, as well as a light jacket that was one size too small, tossing them onto the blanket before he balled it all up and shoved the bundle of cloth into the grocery bag. Reaching into a cubby hole only he knew about, he pulled out a small paper bag. Hastily, he put the little clinking bag into his book bag. It was change that he had found in the couch when he was cleaning.
Leaving everything sitting where it was, he quickly ran up the stairs to his aunt and uncle's bedroom, thankful that the house was empty. Going to the dresser, he pulled out the bottom drawer and smiled as he saw his uncles stash of "mad money". The man had talked about having it in case something ever went wrong, and Harry decided things were going wrong, so he grabbed the three bundles of bills and stuffed them into the pockets of his baggy jeans.
He felt a little bad about doing this, as it could be considered stealing, but he justified it to himself that it was his pay for all the chores he had done since he was old enough to remember. He had heard a girl in class last year say that their family had woman come into their home to cook, clean, do laundry, and she was a paid for that. Harry had done all of those things and more.
With money for necessities and emergencies, he put the drawer back and ran downstairs. For the first time, he clomped on the stairs just like his cousin always did.
Shutting the door to the cupboard under the stairs, Harry slung his backpack on before grabbing the grocery and heading for the front door. As he started to open it, he heard shouting from the other side and someone frantically trying to open the door. Harry froze.
"Mum's not here, around to the back," Dudley shouted, although he sounded very out of breath. Harry waited a few seconds and then opened the door. Not seeing anyone, he stepped out and closed the door behind him. Still not seeing anyone, although he could hear the shouts from the back garden, Harry ran down the street, turning after the first block. For the next half dozen blocks, Harry did not stop running. He turned down another street before he slowed to a walk, drawing in great gulps of air after his exertion.
Harry was almost happy he was "lost". He did not think this was the route his uncle took to work and he knew of no reason that his aunt would be here, although who knew what his aunt really did when both he and his cousin were off at school. During the summer, she always stuck round the house cleaning the parts she did not make him clean, reading magazines, and watching the telly.
Even though he was only a little more than seven, he knew from listening to his uncle, that London was to the east. Thanks to a school book, he knew that the sun rose in the east and set in the west. So, Harry put the late afternoon sun at his back and started walking, his book backpack over his shoulders and the grocery bag in his arms. He got a strange look from a few people, but most ignored him.
Harry continued to walk as the sky darkened. The neighborhood he had grown up in was now at least several miles behind him and he entered a wooded area. To his mind, it seemed like a good place to hide. Being found now would not be a good thing. When his uncle reported him missing, and Harry was sure he would as Harry's aunt would make him, he would be returned to them. After all, how many children ran away each day?
Walking in the woods not too far from the road, Harry continued to follow the direction of the road he had been walking on. Just before dark, Harry noticed that the woods were coming to an end and there was another neighborhood in front of him. He stopped and looked around carefully. He decided it was probably best to stop here for the night.
Spreading his blanket out, Harry sat down, more tired than he would have imagined. Digging into his grocery bag, Harry pulled out a bag of crisps and opened it for dinner. As he finished the bag, he found the first flaw in his plan: no water. Digging in the bag again, Harry pulled out an apple and ate it. That was almost juicy enough to help, but he really wanted more water. It was not much of a dinner, but it was more than he got some nights. He looked towards the house a couple of hundred yards away and wondered. If it was like his relatives house, there would be a garden hose on the outside. Harry figured they probably would not mind, but it was also probably better that they did not know he wanted some of their water. He wished he had a bottle of some sort.
Putting on his light jacket and laying his head down, Harry looked up as the sky darkened. The stars were coming out and there was a half moon. The temperature was only cool this early in September, but he wrapped himself up in his blanket anyway. The ground was a bit hard, but only a little more so than his old crib mattress under the stairs. Before he knew it, Harry was asleep, feeling the best he had felt in a long time.
A faint light woke Harry up. Looking around, he realized the new day was about to begin. Fortunately, most people were not up and about yet. As quickly as he could, he got up and ran for the nearby house. Luckily, they did have a tap and hose in the front behind some bushes, so Harry turned the water on so it just barely dribbled out and made no noise. He greedily drank for the next few minutes before he turned the water off. Once more he wished really hard that he had a bottle, like one of those plastic bottles his aunt brought fizzy drinks home for his cousin.
Harry felt a strange tingle, and while he tried to figure out what it was, a clear plastic bottle with a faded label hit him in the head as if it had been thrown to him, causing him to almost yell. With great fear, Harry slowly looked around, but did not see or hear anyone. He could not explain what had happened, but he decided to take the bottle and use it. While he wished he could wash the bottle first, he figured rinsing it would be the best he could do, so he did that and then filled it up. With water he could now take with him, the quietly ran back to the woods and his stuff.
With one exception, Harry was ready to continue his journey. Drinking the water had made him need to go to the bathroom, but there was no bathroom available. That was another problem he would have to solve. Fortunately, at the moment, a bush would be good enough, so he stood behind one and relieved himself.
Feeling much better, now Harry picked up his stuff and started walking again. He got a few more strange looks as the morning went on, but again, Harry ignored them as he walked towards the sun. By the time the sun was overhead, Harry had come to a major road and saw a sign that pointed to London. He smiled as he thought it would be the perfect place to get lost in. There, he could just be one of thousands, maybe even millions.
Scouting out the area, he saw a little store that sold petrol for cars and looked like it also had food inside. Doing his best to look normal, while sweating in fear of getting caught, Harry walked inside. The clerk looked at him, but did not say anything. In the back, Harry found a row of sandwiches. Noting their price, he pulled some of the money out of his pocket. The entire bundle was made up of bills that had a twenty on them, so Harry pulled one out and pushed the bundle back down. Grabbing a sandwich and a liter bottle of water, Harry walked up and paid for his items. The clerk looked at him even more strangely, but sold the items to him and gave him change back. Harry took his sandwich outside and found a small park nearby. Walking over, he ate his lunch and pondered a question.
Why was he receiving so many strange looks? Glancing around, he saw mothers with their little children, and some of them were looking at him strangely too. Did they fear him? He drank his water as he watch two of the mothers talking, one of them looking over at him for a moment. He did not understand, because he never had this problem when he went to the park after school.
Then it hit him. He should be in school because of his age. While he was small for his age, evidenced by the fact that he was the shortest one in his second grade class, he was big enough to look like he should be in school. Harry wondered what he could do. If he traveled only from when school was out until sunset, he would not get very far very fast. Harry pulled out a banana and thought some more.
The only thing he could think of was to be very careful in traveling, and try to not be noticed unless it was after school hours. Or the weekend, he thought with a smile. He could walk as much as he wanted on the weekend. Satisfied with that plan, Harry walked down the street until he found an alleyway going the direction he wanted and ducked into the alleyway. He would not draw so much attention here, he reasoned.
As evening came around, Harry found a secluded place in another park and settled in. This was a rather nice place. He found a thicket of bushes to hide in and there was a water fountain. The park even had a public restroom. As much as he hated to do it, he ended up taking a wad of toilet paper, figuring he would need it later. Also, late at night, he stripped down and sort of had a bath, using a sock and the sink. Changing into his one other set of clothes, Harry washed out the set he had been wearing. This showed him some more things he had not thought about. Although he was not scared, he was starting to wonder if his adventure was such a good idea. He was not ready to give up and go find an orphanage yet, but he was starting to see some good reasons to go there.
The next morning was Friday, and Harry decided to stay where he was, until he noticed a lot of people in cars going to an area a few blocks away. He could see just far enough down the street that it was obvious where they were going, and his curiosity got the better of him. Grabbing his stuff, he started walking to see what everyone was doing.
Fifteen minutes later, Harry was standing in a large car park in front of a building that had lots of people going in. Mingling into the crowd, he soon found himself in a train terminal. It did not take him long to see signs for London with a lot of numbers next to them. He stood to the side to think about this. Harry did not want to get lost or stranded somewhere that might be bad.
If he took a train in, it would save him a lot of walking time, but it might also mean he got caught on the train with no place to run and hide. Even he could see that jumping off of a moving train would not be a good idea. The ones that did not stop were whizzing by.
"Bah, I missed my normal train. I won't get to London on time now."
The words from the man in front of him caught his attention. He watched the man look at the board trying to determine what he was going to do.
"Maybe I can make the 7:47," the man said as he started to walk off.
In a fit of bravery, or else extreme foolishness, Harry followed after the man, doing his best to stay near without bumping into him. A few minutes later, the man came to a barrier and swiped his card on top of the barrier and pushed his way through some metal arms that turned.
Harry was almost in a panic, he was going to lose his guide. Noticing that he could fit under the metal arms, Harry ran forward and squatted down under an empty one. No one shouted at him, so Harry hurried on, barely keeping the man in sight. In fact, when he came to a clear space, Harry decided to run. Soon, he was right behind the man again and standing on a platform with a lot of other people, most of them men. As he came to a standstill, he noticed his heart was beating very quickly; he was not sure if it was from running or that he was a little scared.
A few minutes later, a white train pulled into the station and the man walked onto it. Harry followed, grabbing onto a pole just like the man did. When the train started moving, Harry grew even more apprehensive. It would be so easy to get caught here, but he screwed up his courage and held onto the pole with one arm and his grocery bag with the other arm. His book bag was still on his back.
A number of stops went by. Harry thought they were part of London, but he really had no idea. All he could do was watch the man every time the train stopped. Eventually, the train came to another stop and many people left, including the man, so Harry left too. A few minutes later, he had climbed some steps, including some moving ones, and he was up on the streets of London. It was a very busy place. He could not help staring; it was all so very amazing.
Walking around for hour or so led Harry to a very nice park. The sign said it was Hyde Park, but that did not mean anything to him. Exploring some more, he found a lake and a little eating place. At least they had tables and chairs, and the little building nearby advertised food.
Harry wondered if he should spend money on some or if he should hold on to it and eat what was in his bag. As he thought about that, he watched a man carry a steaming drink and a very nice looking pastry over to a table and sit down. A few seconds later, the man got up and walked back over to the little building as if he had forgotten something. Harry looked at the pastry with a watering mouth wishing he had it, as he was feeling hungry, but he did not dare go over. Besides, it would be stealing, but the pastry did look really good.
Before he realized what had happened, his hands started to tingle and the pastry flew through the air to him. With reflexes built by having to dodge his cousin, Harry grabbed it out of the air and then ducked down behind the bush he was standing next too. Doing his best to look through a gap in the bush, Harry saw the man walk back over to his table with napkins in his hand, then look around for someone or something. It was not hard to guess what he was looking for, as Harry had it in his hand. He considered going over and giving it back, but since it was in his somewhat dirty hand, he doubted the man would want it back. And how would he explain having it? So not knowing what else to do, Harry ate the pastry. After that, he dug out some more fruit, picking the two he thought would spoil first, and ate them as well.
While he ate, Harry thought about what had happened to him. He had no idea why something would fly to him if he wished for it hard enough; he could see that it had to be true now that it had happened to him twice. But why could he do that? It did not take long for the memories of his uncle shouting at him to come to mind. His uncle called him a freak and yelled when he done a few other unexplained things. Those were the times when life was worst with the Dursleys. So maybe he was a freak.
Harry drank the last of his "old water" and thought some more. All he could come up with was that he was different in some way, but that he did not know enough to know what his "power" was or what was going on. And that tingling he felt just before something happened. Was that part of his "power"?
As Harry came out of the bushes, he almost ran into a man.
"Sorry, I didn't see you," he said in a quiet voice and made to go around the man, but the man moved over and blocked Harry's path.
"Are you lost? I can help you."
Harry looked up at the man, but even though he was smiling, there was something about his smile that Harry did not like.
"No, I'm fine." He did not sound very confident, but that was because he was scared. He hoped he did not sound or look as scared as he felt.
The man looked at the bag in his hand and Harry saw the man look him over with a critical eye. "I think you're lost. Why don't you come home with me so I can help you?" The smile seemed to harden into something that was a smile but not a smile.
Harry was not sure how he knew, but he knew the man was lying about helping him. "No!" Harry was starting to panic. Looking around, he saw a woman pushing a pram coming their way. "No, I won't go with you," he said in a louder voice, hoping the woman heard him. Fortunately, she did and she slowed down to look the scene over.
The man's smile dropped as he said, "I'll see you later," before he walked quickly off.
The woman looked at him. "Are you all right?" she asked with much concern.
"Yeah, I'm fine, thanks. I better get back to my dad." He pointed towards the little café area behind him and hoped that sounded believable.
"OK, if you're sure," although she did not sound like she believed him as she glanced over to where he had pointed.
Harry nodded and turned around. Walking back, he saw the line to buy food had several people in it and all were men. To keep up appearances, Harry walked over and stood near one of the men, who looked at him and then ignored him. Looking back he saw the woman watching him, so he waved. She looked for a few more seconds and then continued on her way, shaking her head slightly.
Harry almost wilted with relief. He moved over to an empty table and sat down for a minute. His fear from the encounter with the man was slowly going away, but he was still trembling on the inside. He did not know what had set his mental alarms off, but he did not trust that man who had talked to him. Safety was another thing Harry had not thought about. Though he could not say how, Harry felt that man was as more of a threat than Dudley and his gang had ever been. He wondered how he was going to deal with that these sorts of problems in the future.
When he felt a little better, Harry got up and moved to a bench in the shade not far from the café. The café seemed like a safe place for some reason, but he also knew he could not stay there. But the bench, the bench was not part of the café and it seemed almost as safe, so he stayed there watching the people walk by and the ducks at the edge of the lake.
As lunchtime came, Harry dug out some packaged foods from his bag and ate them, sipping water from his new bottle of water. As he ate, he noticed a girl old enough to be out of high school in a red shirt and jeans walk by. She looked at him strangely but left him alone.
Harry stayed on the bench, still watching people. Shortly, he saw a girl in yellow who looked a little older than the other girl walk by and sit with the girl in red. They ate a little and talked. As he watched them, Harry wished he had a friend like that, but Dudley had made sure he never had friends, which made him feel a little sad. And what about now that he was on his own? After some thought, he decided it would be hard to have a friend this way too. Harry sighed as noticed that the girl in yellow walked by him again, back the way she had come from.
About the time he was about to get up and walk around some more, to try to find a place to stay for a few evenings, he heard a soft voice.
"Do you mind if I sit on the other end of this bench?"
His head jerked around and he saw the girl in the red shirt looking at him. Not sure what to do, he shook his head.
"Thanks." She sat down and looked out over the lake. Neither said anything for a moment.
"My name's Gina. What's yours?" She had a pleasant and kind voice.
He saw her studying him, so he looked her over. She did not seem threatening like the man, but he was still wary of her. "Harry," he finally answered her.
She smiled at him. "It's a nice view, isn't it? I've always like watching the ducks."
Her voice was very calm and reassuring, but he was not ready to trust her. "Yeah," he said after a moment.
Gina looked back at the lake for a moment before she looked back at him. "Harry, you're looking a little thin. Do you need food or money for food?"
That startled him. Was that why everyone was looking at him? He was not sure what to say. When he did not immediately answer, she went on.
"It's OK, Harry. I understand, really I do," she said sincerely.
He managed not to make a face, but he really doubted she understood. Still, she felt trustworthy, the opposite of that man who had tried to take Harry home with him. But could he really trust her?
She smiled again. "I can see you don't believe me."
Was he that obvious?
"I was like you once," she told him, still in her calm and gentle voice. "I had a nice home and it was a great place to live until I was ten and my dad died. It was really hard on my mum, trying to take care of me and my little sister. She was five at the time. My mum worked really hard to support us, but it wasn't enough. To get enough money for us to live, she married my step-dad. He seemed nice at first, but mum didn't really get to know him very well before they married."
Gina paused and looked away. Harry had a feeling this was not going to be a happy story.
"When I turned twelve, I found out what my step-dad was really like. He made me do things that weren't very nice and threatened to hit me if I didn't. And he did hurt me couple of times to prove it." She turned back to look at Harry with a very sad look, as if she did not like to remember. "I stayed in that bad situation because I thought I had done something wrong and that was the price I had to pay. I also stayed to protect my little sister. But the day after her twelfth birthday, he tried to do something bad to my little sister too. I grabbed her hand and ran out the door before he could. We ran away."
Harry watched a tear go down her cheek as he thought about the story. She did understand. He did not know what had happened to her, but he could tell it was bad. And she had been hurt, probably hit a few times like he had. "What happened then?" he asked, more caught up in her story than he had expected to be at the beginning.
Gina wiped the tear away and managed to smile a little. "A neighbor helped me and my sister. She called the police, who helped us with a place to stay, and they took my step-dad away. We got to go live in place where there were other boys and girls who couldn't stay at home. My sister is still there and likes it most of the time, at least when the boys don't pick on her and try to ask her out." She chuckled at the last part.
Harry did not understand the joke, but he understood that it was not a bad place. "You mean at an orphanage?"
The girl raised an eyebrow. "You've heard of them?"
"Yeah, my uncle threatens me with them all the time," he admitted a little angrily.
Gina shook her head. "I suppose there are bad ones around, but they're not all bad. I could take you to where my sister is. They can help you, Harry."
"They could also take me back," he quickly said. He did not believe he could trust them.
"No, Harry, they won't. If you have troubles, they will help you," she pleaded, trying to convince him.
"But, what if they don't believe me?" he argued. "I told the school nurse once and what happened was I got thrown into my cupboard without food for three days."
Her face seemed to melt and a tear started going down her cheek again. "Oh Harry, I'm so sorry, but this place really will help you. They helped me and my sister -- honestly."
Harry did not know what to say or do. He looked back at the lake. It was tempting. There was so much he had not thought about when he ran away, but he had trouble saying yes. He had never had anyone to rely on before, so he had always taken care of himself.
After a long silent pause, Gina said, "Harry, I'll make you a deal. I know you have no real reason to trust me, but if you need more time to think about it, you can come stay with me. I live in a small flat, but you can stay on the couch. It's just me and my roommate, Britney, or Brit as she likes to be called. She was the person eating with me a while ago. It will give you a place to stay that's safe, warm, and has a bathroom and food. We're both in the uni and we're not always there. So if you can trust me to come and stay there, I'll trust you not to do anything bad to the place. Then once you've decided what to do, I'll help you get there."
It sounded like a good offer, but she was right about his thoughts. Could he trust her?
Gina held up her hand when he did not say anything. "I promise, Harry. I won't make you go anywhere you don't want." She lowered her hand. "If you like, I can even arrange for you to talk to them on the phone before we go. I really mean it when I say I'll do whatever I can to help you."
Harry looked into her eyes. He did not know if it was right, but his uncle had said you could tell if a person was trustworthy by their eyes. Gina's dark blue eyes held his green ones. Slowly, he nodded. "OK, if you promise to let me decide."
She smiled. "I promise, Harry. You won't regret it."
"I can help at your place, you know, clean, cook, that sort of thing," he told her sincerely.
A chuckle escaped her and a large smile lit her face. "Careful, Harry, if you do that, we might want to keep you there."
He gave her a grin back, the humor was infectious after the serious conversation.
"All right then," she stood and held out her hand. "Let's go take the Tube to my place and get you settled. Brit has class this afternoon and will be back by dinner time, so you can meet her then."
Harry looked at her hand, willingly held out to him, and tentatively reach out and took it. He really hoped he had made the right choice.
After a ride on the same sort of white train again, Gina led him to a big block-shaped building that was four stories tall. "It's not the prettiest place, Harry, but it works for those of us who don't have a lot of money." He nodded. "Because I don't have much, I got free money to help me go to school, and I've got a small stipend for a part-time job at the uni. I barely make it by living here with a roommate, but it works."
She led him up the stairs to the third floor. The door had "301" on it. The building looked a little run down, but he had seen worse on some of the movies on the telly, for the few times he had sneaked in to watch it. Inside wasn't much better, but after a minute to look around, he realized that most of the problem was that it was messy and disorganized. Maybe they did need him.
"Yeah, I know, it's not much and it needs cleaning, but we're not here much either, or when we are, we're having to revise for class." Gina locked the door behind them. Walking in, she started pointing. Down that little hall at the end is the one bathroom here. Brit's room is on the left, mine is on the right. The kitchen is around there, and as you can see, we eat at the bar here." There were two tall stools. "I guess we'll have to eat in shifts, but that won't be a problem because Brit and I almost never eat together. I tend to have classes or my job in the afternoon and evenings, while she has her things in the mornings and afternoons."
Harry looked at her in confusion.
Gina smiled again. "Yes, that means I have to leave you soon, but I should be back before Brit gets here and freaks out. You're lucky I don't have anything planned for tonight. Now, did you have lunch?"
"OK, I'll take your word for it, but you're so thin that if you even think hungry thoughts, I want you to get some food out of the fridge or the cabinets. I'll be back in about three hours, or a little after five; Brit will be here at six. I'll cook dinner for us. OK?"
Harry nodded again, still not sure what to say.
"You're a quiet one, but that happens sometimes. I'll lock the door behind me and you stay here. You can watch the telly as long as you don't turn it up too loud. Feel free to take a nap on the couch if you want. Remember, I'm trusting you Harry." She fixed him with a look, as if judging his character, and he did not want to disappoint her.
"Thank you, Gina. I'll be good, you'll see." He meant every word too.
"I'm sure you will. Back soon," she told him as she walked out and locked the door behind her.
Harry set his two bags down and looked around. It was not a very big place, but it did not feel cramped. Then again, maybe that was because he was used to staying in a cupboard underneath stairs. He explored the place, finding it much like Gina had described it. Off of the kitchen was a little room she had skipped. It had a small washer and dryer along with a lot of boxes and cleaning supplies. It was their storage room he assumed. There was also a very small balcony. It had enough room to stand on and close the door, but that was about it. He supposed it was there so a person could open the door for air and not fall out.
Walking to the other end, he peaked into the bedrooms. They were even messier than the rest of the house. He did not stay in Brit's room long. Just inside the door was a pile of clothes on the floor, including some pink knickers on top. Greatly embarrassed, he quickly shut her door and checked out the bathroom. It needed help too. He did not even open Gina's bedroom door.
Harry decided to help them, since they were being so nice to help him. Putting his aunt's instruction to use, he searched for and found some cleaners and a rag, then started on the bathroom. He decided the kitchen then the living room could come next. He would avoid their bedrooms as that seemed personal, and he would only straighten the storage room to be able to work in there better.
Gathering all the towels hanging up and lying around, he dumped them in the washer and also threw his extra set of clothes in and started them washing while he cleaned.
"Harry? Sorry I'm late, but I'm home" Gina called as she walked into her flat. When she turned around after locking the door, she gasped. He had cleaned them out, was her first thought. Then her nose caught a whiff of something. Sniffing, she smelt something really good.
"Hi," Harry shyly said as he came out from the kitchen.
"Harry, what have you been doing this afternoon?" she asked suspiciously.
He instantly hung his head. "I only wanted to help," he said in a very small voice. He hoped she was not mad at him.
Gina dropped her backpack and quickly went over to him and knelt down. "Harry, it's OK. Just tell me what happened and we can fix it." She reached up to put her hand on his shoulder and he flinched backwards. She mentally berated herself for forgetting that she would have to take it slow with him. "It's OK, Harry. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you think I was going to hurt you. I was only going to put my hand on your shoulder to comfort you." He looked at her as if judging her and she mentally wanted to haul someone to the police for hurting this little boy.
"You're really not mad that I cleaned?" he asked hopefully.
She almost laughed at the thought. "Harry, when I said that if you cleaned that we might have to keep you, I was joking. You'd don't have to clean to stay here. I'm sorry that I made you think that." She sighed deeply. "I truly should have known better than to say something like that. I thought much the same thing when I ran away too. You know, that if I was very helpful then they wouldn't take me back." He nodded. She smiled to try to make him feel better and he responded slightly. "Let's take a look to see what you did."
At that, Harry perked up. "My sauce!" He practically ran for the kitchen.
Gina followed him and stopped at the edge of the room. The kitchen was so spotless it was better than when they had moved in. Harry stood on a chair at the stove and stirred a pan of red sauce. Another pan bubbled gently with steam rising; she could not tell what was in it, but there was a package of spaghetti noodles nearby. On the counter was sort of a pitiful looking salad, but then, they had very little salad vegetables in the fridge, so he did not have much to work with.
"That smells very good, Harry. How did you do that?" She wondered what other surprises he had in him.
He smiled bashfully. "It's spaghetti sauce and what my aunt always makes me cook. You didn't have everything, so I had to, er, do what I could." He hung his head and rushed on. "I'm sorry, but I'll do better next time."
Gina wanted to hug him so badly. "Harry, you did great with what you have. It smells very good." She saw him look up with a hopeful look. Turning a little, she looked back to the storage room and saw that it had been straightened and there were two bags of garbage waiting. She would have to take that out later. "Why don't you put the noodles in and we can go look at the rest of the place."
He nodded, turned down the heat for the sauce to low, added the noodles to the hot water, and got off the chair he was standing on and followed her. Looking carefully now, she saw that the living room was also very clean, vacuumed too. She peeked in Brit's room and saw that it was still messy.
"I didn't do your bedrooms. They seemed … private," he said shyly.
Gina looked down and saw several pairs of Brit's knickers on the floor and felt she understood his blush. "That's probably for the best. It will teach us to keep our rooms clean," she told him with a smirk, trying to hold her laughter in.
She opened the last door and found the bathroom to be clean again. She turned around and looked at him with the happiest face she could muster to try and build his self-confidence. "Harry, I am so impressed you could do all of this in the time I was gone, and you did such a good job of it too. I think most boys would not do such a good job, but you did." He was looking down at his hands as she praised him, but he was smiling now. She decided to try to build him up some more. "You did such a good job that I could hug you." His head jerked up and looked at her with wide eyes. "May I hug you? Please?"
He continued to look at her, just as he had in the park before deciding to come home with her. Finally he nodded.
Gina very slowly knelt down on one knee and slowly put her arms out and wrapped them around him and gave him a gentle hug; he stood there stiffly. "I think you are a good person, Harry, not because you cleaned our place, but because you have a good heart. Even if you don't understand that, know that I think you're a good person and I'm happy I've met you." She felt him slowly move his arms and place his hands on her back to return the hug. With a little squeeze, she let him go and pulled back. What she found surprised her -- he was crying.
"Harry, it's OK, there's nothing wrong." For the life of her, she did not understand. To her surprise, he launched himself at her and hugged her, this time holding very tightly. "Are you all right, Harry."
He nodded against her shoulder. "It's the first time I've ever had a hug and it feels so nice," he murmured in her ear.
The tears started to flow again as Gina returned his hug and rubbed his back slowly. Now she understood. Sure, she had been yelled at and called some nasty things, but most of her abuse had been physical, hits or touching. She guessed most of Harry's abuse had been emotional. He said he had been starved and hit too, but this little boy had been neglected and never really loved. At least she had her sister and mother; Harry had never had anyone.
By the time they both had finished their cry, Gina heard the front door open and her roommate call out, "Gina?" then, "GINA!"
Gina chuckled. "I'll bet she'll be surprised," she whispered to Harry, who gave her a shy smile back. "It's all right, Brit," she called back over her shoulder. "We've just had a little help." She turned and looked towards the living room and saw her roommate with an incredulous look on her face looking at her. She stood and moved so Harry could be seen.
"Brit, we have a visitor and he decided to give us overworked students some help. Brit, meet Harry. Harry, meet Brit. She may tease you, but she's really a nice person anyway."
Harry actually giggled nervously and Gina took that for a good sign for him feeling better.
"Thanks," Brit told her sarcastically. "What happened to this place and what is that smell?"
"My sauce and noodles!" Harry ran towards and past Brit, who watched him with amazement.
Gina smiled. "Let's talk in your room, but we won't have long for the moment."
Brit looked questioningly as she followed after her friend. She stopped and peered in the bathroom on the way. "It's totally clean too."
Ginny pulled her in and quietly closed the bedroom door. "Yeah, everything but our bedrooms is now clean."
"But how? And whose kid is he?"
Gina made a face to show her distaste of the situation and swallowed before she explained in a soft voice. "Look I can give you the details later, but the really short version is that while we were having lunch, I noticed him on the bench behind you. I also noticed all the signs that he had run away from home and needed help."
Brit looked at her as if she was crazy. "Gina, have you lost your mind? They'll get you for kidnapping," she hissed, trying to keep her voice down.
"No, because I barely got him to come here. He's been abused, much like me and he needed a safe place for awhile."
"Then take him to where you went, they can help him there," Brit said a little forcefully, trying to drive the point home.
"I can't, Brit, he won't let me," Gina said, still talking quietly. "He almost ran away from me. He's got serious trust issues. I told he could stay here on the couch until he was ready for me to take to the place my sister is. It should only be for a few days, a week at most."
Brit exhaled loudly. "I should have known this would happen when you tried to take in that stray cat a while back."
Gina snorted. "That's not the same sort of thing. You can't kick him out, Brit. Someone else would find him, someone who would be mean to little boys. Please, Brit," Gina begged.
Brit looked up as if asking for divine advice. "OK, for a few days."
"Thanks!" Gina hugged her friend.
"I do have to admit that he did a good job on the place. If the kitchen is anywhere near as clean as the bathroom, we may have to keep him …" The look on her friend's face made Brit stop. "What?"
"Please don't joke about that. I said the same thing earlier, and this is what I got when I came home. He's in the state where he might do literally anything to please us, if he thinks that's what it will take to stay here," Gina explained.
"Seriously?" Brit asked incredulously.
"Yeah, seriously. But come on, we need to get back in there."
"Wait!" Brit grabbed her friend's arm. "How can he do all of this?"
Gina looked sad. "I'm not certain, but the obvious answer is probably the correct one."
"You mean they made him do this sort of thing all the time." Gina nodded. "At his age?" Gina nodded again. "Bastards!" Brit spit out.
"I know, and I suspect that was the least of the things they did to him."
Brit grabbed her friend's arm again, when she started to go. "Do you think they, you know, sexually abused him?"
Gina shrugged. "I don't know. My gut feeling is no, but I really don't know. I do know that they never loved him -- not ever. Just before you came, I gave him a hug for doing such a good job. He told me it was the first hug he ever had."
"Bastards!" Brit snarled again.
"Yep," Gina solemnly agreed. "For now, put on your happy face and let's go have dinner."
Harry was not sure what was taking them so long, but he guessed they were talking about whether he could stay here or not. He really hoped he could; this was a lot nicer than the park, even the one with the bathroom.
He had three place settings on the bar. He was not sure where he would eat, but sitting on the floor would probably work. By the time they came in, it was all dished up with three glasses of water too.
"I'm really impressed, Harry," Brit told him. "I think this is cleaner than when we moved in."
"That's what I told him too," Gina said.
Harry smiled and looked down at his hands. He had used a rag and cleaners, but he had found that afternoon that when he wished really hard for whatever he was working on to be clean, that his hands seemed to tingle and the area was clean. In some ways, it was like when his hands tingled and the pastry flew to him this morning. He wished he had found that ability before, as he would have completed the chores for Aunt Petunia faster.
"Hmm, we have a small problem," Gina said. "Harry, how would you like to sit in my lap while we all eat."
Harry shook his head bashfully. "Oh no, there's no need. I'll just sit on the floor. I would only be in your way."
"Nonsense, Harry." Gina sat on one of the stools, putting her feet on the rungs. "Come over her," she patted her lap. "You don't weigh enough to be a problem. Come on," she beckoned him.
Deciding to humor her, he walked over and she easily lifted him up to her lap.
Brit put two of everything in front of them before she took a setting and sat on the other stool. "So, Harry, do you have a last name?"
He looked at her and grew fearful. If she knew, would she call his uncle or aunt? Harry shook his head. A second later, he felt Gina squeeze him slightly with the arm around his waist that was holding him on her lap.
"Harry, don't worry, we won't send you back" Gina assured him. "We're just trying to get to know you."
Brit nodded. "That's right, Harry. I won't send you back either, and I'm sorry if I scared you. You can stay here with us."
"Really?" he brightened with hope.
"Really," Brit assured him. "Right, Gina?"
"Right you are, Brit."
Harry smiled his happiest smile. He had a new home, or really a home for the first time. Maybe, just maybe, they would even love him one day.
"So, how old are you and what do you like to do in school?" Brit asked.
"Uh, seven. I'm in the second grade." Harry felt really good as he made himself comfortable in Gina's lap, feeling like he really belonged some place for the first time in his life.
In northern Scotland, the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft walked into his office after dinner, a very fine dinner he thought. He was about to sit down at this desk to handle the small mountain of paperwork when one of the little silver trinkets on his shelf made a light whistling noise and started puffing black smoke.
Slightly concerned, he went over to see which one it was, as he had several monitors. He became even more concerned when he saw it was not any of the ones that monitored the castle, but the one that monitored Harry Potter. Specifically, it was the one that monitored the wards around his aunt's house.
"Tilly!" he called out.
A pop sounded and an odd little character was standing in front of him. "Yes, Headmaster?"
"Tilly, please find Professor McGonagall and tell her I need to see her as soon as possible. Then go find Professor Flitwick and tell him that he's in charge of the school for a few hours while Professor McGonagall and I handle an emergency off of the school grounds."
"Yes, Headmaster," the little elf told him and left with another pop.
He turned back to his shelf and looked at the instruments again. There was no doubt, the wards were down. The other instrument trained on Harry was acting very bizarrely, as it was spinning far too fast. He contemplated that until a knock on his door was heard. "Enter," he called.
"Albus? Tilly said there was an emergency." McGonagall sounded very concerned.
He turned around to see a worried looking deputy. He suspect she was about to become a lot more worried and probably angry at him. "Yes, we must travel to Surrey."
"Surrey?" She looked at him oddly for a second before suspicion came over her. "Do you mean to check on Harry Potter?"
"Yes." While he sounded calm, he was not on the inside. Little shocked or alarmed him at his age, but he feared it might happen tonight.
"Haven't you checked on him before?" Her eyes narrowed and her lips thinned as if she suspected the worst.
Albus knew those signs and prepared for the worst. "I've had a long-time friend who's a squib living nearby. She's given me a few unusual reports on him, but nothing alarming."
McGonagall's frown grew. "And why do you think there's an emergency then? What did she say?"
Her gaze was piercing, but he did his best to ignore it. "I have a monitor on the wards on his house, and the monitor says they've failed. Therefore, we need to investigate. Come, let's use the Floo to the Leaky Cauldron and we can Apparate from there."
She quickly moved in front of him to block his path. "What aren't you telling me, Albus? I can tell you're leaving something out."
He wondered if his Occlumency skills were slipping if she was able to figure that out. "I have another monitor on his health. It is working, but it is acting strangely. It's spinning too fast.""
"And that means what?"
"I don't know, Minerva. Believe it or not, I don't know. This shouldn't happen." While he was concerned about the wards going down, there was a good reason or two that could cause that. Not that they were good situations, but it could happen and for Harry to be quite alive, as his health monitor indicated. But the strange actions of the health monitor mocked him for his lack of knowledge and he did not like that. The health monitor spinning faster should mean that Harry was extremely happy, but that did not make sense with the wards collapsing. "Come, we must be off to investigate."
McGonagall finally nodded and turned, going first through the Floo Network. Albus was about to leave when he heard sharp whistle and then a small poof. He looked over at his shelf and saw that Harry's health monitor had just exploded and was now in about a half dozen pieces. He was officially alarmed.
Throwing a pinch of Floo powder into the fireplace, he followed his Deputy. He had barely arrived at the sparsely populated Leaky Cauldron when he heard the crack of her leaving. She was rarely that loud, so she must be in a hurry. He took an extra second to quiet his down.
Dumbledore quietly appeared in front of #6 Privet Drive, just in time to see Minerva stride up to the door of #4 and knock. He quickly walked over to join her and arrived just as the door opened. A tall thin woman answered the door.
"Oh, it's you. Unless you're going to fix it, go away and never come back." She stood there glaring at them, as if daring them to do something odd.
"Mrs Dursley," Albus started in his best grandfatherly voice. "Might we come in to discuss Harry? Even though it is now becoming night, it might be better than discussing this on your porch."
She looked like she had eaten something distasteful, but she nodded and opened the door enough they could enter. She quickly closed the door behind them.
"Well, are you going to fix his mess?" she demanded to know.
"Perhaps if you could explain the problem, I could answer the question." Minerva was quiet for now and letting him handle the problem, and Albus was extremely grateful for that.
"The thief stole 3000 Pounds Sterling, that's what he did," she shrieked. Her comment seemed to cause heavy footsteps on the stairs behind her.
"Who's here, Petunia?" When the rounded the corner, the very large man turned red. "Oh, them," he spat. "So, are you going to give us the money or not?"
"I'm afraid I don't understand," Dumbledore told them, and saw confusion on Minerva's face too. "Why would he steal money from you?"
"Because the bloody freak ran away! He took my spare money and then ran away!" Spittle was starting to fly out of Mr Dursley's mouth.
"When?" McGonagall quietly asked. "When did he leave?"
"Three days ago," Petunia coldly told them. "He left Wednesday after school, taking our money and enough food that it took me fifty Pounds to replace it."
Dumbledore detected a lie on the food, but that was unimportant at the moment. "What did the authorities say when you contacted them about his leaving?"
"We didn't," Petunia told them. "We were waiting on you, since he's yours anyway."
Albus wanted to pull his glasses off and rub his temples as he felt a headache coming on, but he resisted the desire. Instead, he closed his eyes for a moment to contemplate the situation.
"Albus!" he heard a Scottish brogue starting to become prominent. That was even a worse indicator of how much trouble he was going to be in when he got back to the castle.
"Mr and Mrs Dursley, thank you for the information, we shall be in touch." He turned to leave.
"What about our money?" Vernon Dursley shouted.
"As I said," Dumbledore threw back over his shoulder, "we'll be in touch." He thought he might have heard a spell being cast as he walked out the door, but decided that it was better not to know. Perhaps that little dally would help her to relieve some stress and not cast it upon him. He Apparated back to the gates of the school. The walk in the cooler night air would do him some good.
He heard a loud crack behind and then a thick Scottish brogue. "Albus, 'ow are ye goin' to fin' 'im?" That was the magic question, he thought. As the prophecy came to mind, he became thankful she did not know about it. "Well?" he heard from her again. It was definitely going to be a long night.
Harry's week with Gina and Brit stretched into two. As the third week started and Harry not making any move to leave, Gina brought a cot home with her one day. That evening, she helped Harry move the boxes out of the storage room and reorganize the cleaning supplies. That created enough space for the cot with some space left over. He happily moved into his new bedroom. Even with the small washer and dryer in there, it was over three times as big as he had in his cupboard under the stairs. He had his own room and he was very happy. It was all Gina could do not to cry when she had heard him say that.
The next day, Gina brought home some clothes that fit him, and Brit brought some old boards. When he asked her what the boards were for, she dragged him downstairs to the side of the building and the three of them each picked up as many old bricks as they could carry back up three flights of stairs. Using the bricks as supports, Brit showed him how to make shelves, and Harry had a place for his clothes and a few books.
The first weekend he was there, he looked at their books for a bit, before he picked up one of Brit's history books. It did not take long for them to realize that he would be bored most of the day when he was home and that he was no longer in school. So Brit picked up some old second grade text books from a teacher she knew and brought them home. Harry thought that was great and started working on them, just like Gina and Brit worked on their books. While they did not understand Harry's desire for school at home, they did think his mimicking them was cute.
All the while, Harry kept the entire flat clean, except for the girls rooms and he did most of the cooking. He was really quite happy, except when Gina did not come home until after he went to bed. Brit explained that she was visiting a friend. Harry did not understand why it was so late, especially those times when she did not come home until after Harry got up the next morning. Although not as often, Brit was that way too; however, Harry never complained when she stayed out all night.
Harry stayed with Gina and Brit for the next three years. At the end of that time, both of them graduated from the university and neither would be staying where they had been. All three of them were sad to break up the trio, but it would have to happen as the two girls started their new jobs in other cites.
Gina thought this might be what it took to make Harry go to her old orphanage, but she was wrong. To her surprise, her little sister, Stephanie, moved in to take her place as she started at the university. Steph brought another orphanage friend with her, Ashley. Steph knew Harry quite well by now, having visited her sister quite a bit over the last three years, and in return Harry liked Steph. Ashley was not sure about having a ten year-old boy living with them, but after meeting him and Steph telling her he was like a live-in butler, she agreed.
Harry continued to be happy where he was. He was "home-schooled" with two private tutors for when he got stuck, which was rarely. He was also working nearly a half year ahead of where others his age were. There were a few other kids about his age around and they were friends, playing together in the evening. While he did not get out much during the day, his "big sisters" usually took him out in the evenings. Finally, he had a family of two older sisters and two new sisters, all of whom loved him. Harry "felt" hidden in the large city, was mostly independent, and loved his life.
Albus Dumbledore was a very confused wizard. The irate witch in front of him did not help his present mood any. In many ways, today was a replay of the disastrous night of four years ago.
Minerva McGonagall sat in front of him holding Harry Potter's invitation to Hogwarts. The owl she had given it to had refused to take it. Yet, in the magical birth registry book in front of him, Harry Potter's name was clearly listed. The owl should have taken the letter unless Harry was dead. Yet the magical birth registry book would have stricken Harry's name if he was dead, and it had not. Each situation should not be true at the same time, and yet that was happening.
"Well?" she asked him for the third time that morning.
"I only have one explanation. He must be living under a Fidelius Charm; it is the only explanation that makes sense." He made sure he sounded and looked more confident than he felt about that statement.
"But Albus," she protested. "It is normally only the old Pureblood families that hide their old manor houses like that, and most of them are Dark."
"I know, Minerva." It was a chilling thought to the Headmaster. What would Harry have been taught and what would he be like after living with a Dark family? "We shall just have to be patient and keep our eyes open for him," he said with resignation.
She harrumphed as she stood to leave. Albus knew she was not happy and he was not either, but there was nothing either of them could do.
Harry was walking down the street in London on a very warm day in mid-August, having just finished a day of work. He was fifteen, but he made himself look like he was eighteen. It was one of the "magic" tricks he could do. He just waved his hand over his face and thought about what he wanted to look like, and it happened. When he was honest with himself, he had no idea how he did it, but it was better than those "magicians" seen on the stage. There were a number of useful things he could do, that no one else seemed to be able to do. Harry was careful not to let others know he had this "power", as he did not know what would happen if that secret ever came out.
He had learned a lot about secrets over the last eight years, as he had many. Not telling people he was not going to school was one. Instead he told people he went to a private school set up by his parents before they died. Since he knew the sort of things he should, everyone assumed he went somewhere instead of being self-educated along with university-aged tutors. He had worked far enough ahead he was almost ready to take his A-levels.
His stash of money from his uncle was another secret, even Gina never knew. He spent nearly half of it on various necessities before he got his first job at fourteen. Back then, he was a delivery person, mostly documents around the downtown London area. Now, over a year later, he was a "buyer" and helped find unusual things for customers. It was all legal, as he was careful, but some of the people he bought things for had dubious backgrounds, the kind you do not ask about. As long as he was careful and kept his customers happy, his boss was happy and everyone made money.
His newest secret was the time he spent with Amy in flat #217. She was eighteen and a freshman at the university; he thought she was hot. With an "older look" and a few good half-truths, they had started dating a few weeks ago and, if things went well, he wondered if he would be able to convince her to do more than snog soon. She was someone who was very pleasant to think about. Just the thought of her put a smile on his face.
Perhaps Amy was the reason Harry was not watching were he was walking, because as he passed an old bookstore and walked in front of a somewhat shady looking pub, he ran into an older man. The old man was knocked back, but stayed on his feet. Harry fell back on his bum, as he had not had the presence of mind to notice he was falling until it was too late.
"Sorry, Mister," Harry said as he got up. He really was not all that interested in the old man, but it never hurt to be polite in case he became a future customer. Of course, with the waist length white beard and the hideous purple suit he was wearing, Harry did not think this was the sort of person that would require his buying and locator service.
"That's quite all right, my boy…"
Harry did not know why the old man trailed off, but he still was not all that concerned. Brushing his hair back into place, he said, "Glad you're OK, have a good day." Turning around, he started walking away.
"Harry? Harry Potter?"
Harry stopped and turned around. How in the world could the strange old man know his name, he wondered. With considerable wariness, he asked, "How do you know me?"
The old man gave him a grandfatherly smile. "I knew you when you were a child, and I also knew your parents and your grandparents. I've known your family for many years. Would you like to come with me to hear about them?"
This man knew his family? Harry briefly considered that, then he tossed it out. He had no idea who his birth family was. If this man knew his family, then he probably also knew his aunt and uncle, a place he had vowed never to return to for any reason. That made him very wary.
"No thanks for now, perhaps later. Do you have a card with a phone number?" He did have some curiosity, but until he was eighteen and no one could legally force him to do anything, he had no plans to connect to his past. Now if his parents had been alive, that would have been different.
"No, my boy, I'm sorry I don't. However, we could go somewhere and talk about them. I know a nice quiet place where we won't be interrupted," the old man suggested, still with a grandfatherly smile, and now a twinkle in his eyes.
Warning bells were going off in Harry's head, much like they were for the man who tried to take him home many years ago when Harry had first run away. "I don't think so. Sorry I bumped into you." Harry turned and started to walk away. He almost made it to the edge of the area defined by the strange pub when his world went dark.
((A/N: I've always wondered why Harry did not run away, based on what we know of his childhood in the books. I'm sure some of the reason is that he was a child and didn't know what normal was. I also wonder why none of Harry's primary school teachers didn't call Social Services for him. I suppose the obvious answer is that JKR didn't want that to happen. However, I'd like to explore the idea of Harry running away as a child, as well as various ramifications from that. :-) I know a number of others have used this idea, but this is my version.))