To the Masses: I started this as soon as I finished the first chapter, but it took a lot for me to decide to finally post it. Thank you Vukk, because I think your review jump started my brain. Also thanks to Julie, whose review I couldn't privately reply to; Thank you, thank you, and thank you. I liked your review.
On a somewhat related to this story note, I still can't remember what the other story was called or who wrote it. I'll find it eventually, though. Also, the pairings for this story are still undecided but will be Slash. At first it was going to be Harry/Sirius, but now I'm leaning more towards Harry/Charlie or Harry/Bill. I don't know…Harry/Someone older.
Warnings: AU, Slash, Abuse, Suicide Attempts, Implies Rape, Implies Prostitution. NEW: Actual Prostitution, Pedophilia, Language, Nudity, Gore, Drug Use. Will eventually contain more warnings.
Disclaimer: Standard Disclaimers Apply
The virtue of the camera is not the power it has to transform the photographer into an artist, but the impulse it gives him to keep on looking - and looking. - Brooks Atkinson
Kathie Colburn, the case worker was a liar- there was no two ways around that fact. She new that the Kennicot's were not nice people, or good, or have any sense of a moral compass. The three of them were pure evil, more so than Voldemort or a Malfoy, down to their very last bone.
The events of the three months played through his mind over and over again, even as he pretended to pay attention and answered generic questions. The only thing that kept him seated in the uncomfortable mental chair was a small hand holding his. Long, dark fingers squeezed his pale ones in an attempt to comfort him, and Harry pulled out of his thoughts.
Josef Swane was born in Germany, but his biological parents abandoned him while on a short vacation in Britain. He'd been with the Kennicot's for two years, two long and damaging years. His brown eyes bore into Harry's, trying to tell him it was okay that it was over now. Never again would Mrs. Jane Kennicot sneak into their room at night, never again would pin them down with manicured hands and have her way with their malnourished bodies. Mr. Argo Kennicot would no longer make deals with strange men or women who used them up, one by one after paying so much money.
Harry's green eyes stared right back, taking it all in. Then he remembered the shame as the technician taking off his leg cast asked why there were needle marks between his toes came from, the lonely and frightening moments that followed as the man left the room to fetch a doctor and to call the police. In those moments Harry pulled out a digital camera, gazing at picture after picture in an effort to comfort himself. When that didn't work he began taking pictures of himself, his newly freed leg, and the small office.
If that wasn't embarrassing enough;, that damned case worker knew. She had been plenty aware of what went on in that house at night, and she received a cut of the profit for keeping her mouth shut and allowing them to take in young boys to abuse. She sold them all out for her selfish gain, and Harry didn't even consider not telling for even a brief moment. He was going to tell, only the nagging shame of the events kept him from telling anyone willing to listen.
After he was looked over by a doctor, pronounced bruised and shaken, and discharged he got a ride with two officers who drove him to the station. In the time he spent in the muggle world he learned a little more about the things he'd missed out on, and could keep a civil conversation with some people without stumbling over concepts like television and music. The officers didn't really know what had happened to him, but if they did Harry was sure that they wouldn't have wanted to talk to him.
Josef squeezed his hand again and Harry looked back at the detective. To Harry's left was their legal counselor who encouraged them to tell their story, and she was nice enough to let the boys sit with each other while they took turns. It was now Harry's turn and he'd stopped in mid-sentence to think things over.
"You were saying Mr. Noir?" Detective Whitney asked. The kind looking woman looked back at him with concern and more than a little tension. She didn't like hearing their stories and more than they liked to tell them. No body liked to year about young boys, from the age of twelve to fourteen, being beaten and used for sex. It was her field of work though, and she had to hear the story so that they would press charges and the Kennicot's could start their long sentence in a high security prison.
"My birthday, July 20th,' it wasn't his real birthday, but it was close enough without giving them even more evidence to connect him with the Dursley's "The day was relatively normal, I suppose. For most of the day I was doing my school work and trying to catch up with the other kids, Josef assisted me with my mathematics."
"Yes, it says in your file that your previous guardian didn't allow you to return to school after you turned eleven. Can you tell me why that is?" The detective's question wasn't relevant, she knew that, Harry knew it, even Josef knew it. The solicitor just nodded, indicating that Harry was to answer the question.
"He said a freak like me had no use for school," which was true, "and no, I don't know why he thought that," and it wasn't that big of a lie, but he couldn't very well tell her that he dropped out of muggle school to attend one for witchcraft and wizardry. The detective gave him a look that told him to continue, "I turned fourteen, a special age I suppose, for people who -" Harry cut off his own sentence, not wanting to finish that thought because it would be flat out saying that he had been whored out for money, "Dinner was nice, as was the cake. I'm sure you know by now it's only after the street lights come on that everything get's shot to hell. I had showered, Josef and another boy watched the door and I got out as soon as I could. I went to my room, but I didn't want to."
"She wouldn't let me stay," Josef added sadly. Harry nodded, remembering the woman's insistence that Josef needed to be in his own room, where there was probably someone already waiting.
"She came in after she sent Josef away, and closed and locked the door behind her -like she usually does. I waited on my bed like I was supposed to." He couldn't take it, he didn't want to say it. It was better and worse than anything that had ever happened to him. He remembered at first how nerve wrecking it had been, "she came in with a syringe in hand. I didn't know what was in it, and I didn't know what to do. I just sat there, on the bed like she told me to. At first I didn't think anything of it, she gave Josef shots every night. She took of my slipper and pressed the needle in between my toes. I," Harry began to stutter lightly as he remembered the hours that followed. The first man that came in and held him in his lap, and Harry was too disconnected to fight back. Then a second man, and the third customer of the night -an old rich woman.
"I understand," Detective Whitney interrupted, "the drug she used is called heroine. The both of you say that she did the same to you?" the attention turned to Josef, who nodded slowly. He'd already told his story and the drug use was evident, but she had to make sure there were no gaps in their recollections.
"Every other night since I turned fourteen," which had been a year prior to Harry's acceptance into the house. This time he pulled his sleeves up so the detective would see the track marks. Harry was sure his arms would have looked like pin cushions too, if he didn't have the casts.
Four hours later and they were done. Ever single sin committed by the Kennicot's and to Harry had been said aloud and recorded by a little machine that sat in the middle of the table. Detective Whitney and their court appointed solicitor also took many notes, and there was the occasional break so that both women could absorb the knowledge without having complete nervous breakdowns.
Harry and Josef handled everything to the best of their abilities, and neither of them cared to shed any tears during the process. Even though telling their stories had been almost as bad as living it, they still had each other to cling to. Afterwards they rode back to the hospital together, in the back of a police car. This time Harry would be staying on the rehabilitation floor. At least until his body no longer craved the needle to pierce his skin and deliver him from the hell of humanity.
That night with Vernon Dursley and his two fat friends was lost to him in the following six months. The torture of the Kennicot's seemed like a walk in the park in comparison to rehabilitation. Withdrawal was it's own personal level of hell, and at the time Harry was sure he would have rather died.
Not long after they were sent to the hospital He'd been sent to South Wellington Rehabilitation, while Josef was sent in another direction. His doctors explained that they had been separated because certain people could also trigger a relapse and that wouldn't do them any good at all. Harry barely accepted that fact a mere five weeks into his therapy, only one week after he stopped vomiting daily and he wasn't shaking nearly much. The same week they had finally untied him from his bed and allowed him interact with some of the other patients. It also helped that he'd stopped throwing things at orderlies and hadn't attempted to end his own life after yet another episode in which he tried to down another bottle of sleeping pills.
At the time he had experienced a sense of happiness as he was on this thirteenth pill and relaxed into his thin mattress. It wasn't even a minute later when a nurse and two burley blokes had barreled into his room, and that particularly large woman jammed her fingers down his throat. He'd started vomiting instantly, and the only sense of satisfaction he got out of his botched suicide attempt was that the contents of his stomach projected forth from his mouth and all over the woman. He merited extra group therapy for that little stunt, something he was angry upon finding out.
The only thing that kept him mildly calm through those months, were the books. His doctors were nice enough to provide him texts on almost any subject. Chemistry had been vetoed until the fourth month, after he'd finished four biology texts and two on physics. He had slowly made his way through a few math books, but found them to be really repetitive. There was little leeway in math, everything was about facts (one plus one equals two, every damn time), and because of the lack of variety he'd moved onto a list of books children his age would be reading in muggle school.
He never mentioned the magical world to anyone other than to tell a few stories that others believed to be wonderful works of fiction, and they were…most of the time. The worlds were the same, the same Ministry of Magic, the same Hogsmeade, but different characters and different adventures. Harry spent most of his nights thinking up new horrors to put his fictitious characters through. Once or twice he leeched stories out of Lockhart's books, adventures other witches or wizards accomplished but couldn't remember. The mute woman he told them to didn't respond as well to those, so he tried to keep his distance from those. His own misadventures were put forth only three times, one for every year at Hogwarts, and she would blink slowly at him through the retellings. Harry took it as a positive reaction, as did the doctors, but he didn't have much to share.
There were certain dreams, though. While he slept he watched an old man climb a case of stairs, watched the man kneel before a deformed child-body, watched the snake, understood the snake. Every night for months, so often that therapy with Doctor Howell started off with "Another night with the mutant baby from hell and it's pet snake."
Doctor Howell always responded the same, "Oh? Have you given any thought of what it could mean?" and Harry would shake his head. Afterwards they would talk about a number of things, usually the Dursley's who Harry creatively called 'First-Shitty-Family,' and their passive aggressive, physiological torture until that night. Sometimes he would talk about the Kennicot's, but usually ended in explaining that he missed Josef. He still had his pictures though, and Howell took a little delight and listening to Harry explain about certain ones.
There were things he didn't talk about, like Hogwarts and the trials he went through. Though he was sure his childhood and the stay with his first foster family was enough for his doctor to understand that he was almost completely adverse to attention, and that spawned into his nearly daily stories of adventure and magic.
In his last month at South Wellington, Doctor Howell handed him a thin book that he'd picked out specifically for Harry to keep. "The New Meditation Handbook?" Harry asked upon receiving it.
Doctor Howell nodded first and then answered, "Maybe it will help you with those dreams of yours," The man looked at him with a serious face and continued, "You're making excellent progress in your recovery, have you given any thought to what you'll do when you leave?"
Harry squashed the urge to snap at the man, having taken offense to something he'd said (Harry wasn't quite sure what it was). "I'll get a new foster family, won't I? I'll start school again, and wait until someone adopts me or I turn eighteen."
"Indeed, and I expect you'll do very well in classes," Howell was doing his best to keep the tension down, he had seen his patient was getting irritable again.
It worked, and Harry relaxed into the conversation.
After being released from the hospital Harry learned something of absolutely truth; school sucked. It wasn't nearly as bad as other things he'd experienced, like his new foster family or drug withdrawals, but it certainly wasn't the highlight of his day.
Mrs. Brill wouldn't allow any of her foster children to be home schooled, not even if they were as socially inept as he was. Harry was to attend school until he graduated, no questions and no exceptions. Borne from that rule was a new goal; graduate as fast as he could. So upon arrival at the school Harry demanded the first teacher for a placement exam. The woman looked as if she would laugh, but didn't dare -all of his teachers and administrators were briefed on his condition (without as many details as possible).
For the most part Harry just wanted to know where he stood against the other students his age, and he was indulged by every teacher. For the whole school day Harry sat in a room and took his placement exams. The tests didn't cover everything he'd learned, nor did he have the answered to every single question. That didn't stop him from giving his best rationalizations, and it wouldn't stop him from getting out of school.
He absolutely hated the students. Word got out that he'd been in a mental health institute, and everyone stared. Not 'Look it's the Boy-Who-Lived,' stare but 'Look, it's the tweeker,' which might have been worse. If it wasn't that than it was self-important people who approached him with pity and talked down on him. He had no friend amongst those children, no one he could connect to. Occasionally he remembered Josef, but their bond was created through mutual suffering and survival -Harry had nothing in common with those new people.
One week later he had his results, and a possible answer as to how people could hate muggles. The answer to the last was rather simple, they were annoying. Although to Harry, everyone was annoying. His two week stay with Mrs. Brill and her six other foster children was enough to engrave that into his mind.
The test results were all unexpectedly positive. He would have to take a couple of tests for Literature and Language Arts, before he wouldn't be required to attend the class. He could skip a year in math, and he was still confused as to how letters managed to weasel their way into the subject. Science hadn't been easy, but he passed, only chemistry would be required if he tested out of biology and physics. Finally there was history, he had done a passable job on the subject, but decided to take a semester to read up on the subject before he could test out. Of course, following that list of courses he would also have to take a number of electives. Among those he decided to take creative writing, a music course, one on photography, and physical education. The last would prove to be a pain in his malnourished ass.
By his calculations he had around two years of school left, and he readily presented that plan to his foster parent and case worker (whenever that man felt like showing up). "Good," Mrs. Brill had said curtly, "Not often do I get children who are willing to work to get out of the system." It seemed the old woman had the same ideas about foster care as most of her children, but she was a nice enough for an adult.
He hardly notice his loss of interest in magic, it was all pushed into the back of his mind. All of it except Sirius, but Harry had long lost hope of being found. It was something that happened during a drug-induced night while his face was being held into his pillow and there was just enough room to breath. He hated the feel of the presser in his back, stabbing him over and over again, but hardly noticed the pain as the feelings of euphoria coated his brain. More than that, Harry hated himself as he clawed at his mental walls, and then suddenly he realized no one was going to find him. Cleaver Orion Noir wouldn't be followed because he wasn't like the celebrity, Harry Potter. He was safe from men like Malfoy or the manipulations of the government, but that same obstacle kept away everyone else too. And what good was the Boy-Who-Was-Raped anyways?
The second semester was full of those thoughts, and the pestering of other students, and many hours in the library. Afterwards he tested out of many classes and was allowed to get his first job.
It was a requirement, really. Mrs. Brill expected her foster children to work for their money, as she didn't believe in anything called 'allowance.' It also helped the household financially, because she now had nine foster children in total.
Harry had started looking for employment in his free time a week before school let out, and was insured a job an a small law office. He was guaranteed a nice paycheck, and the job required mass amounts of research that was sure to keep his mind away from unpleasant things.
He learned quickly that he liked working with Mr. Hagan Caroline, who insisted Harry simply call him 'Caroline.' In return he called Harry 'Noir', but occasionally he would address his assistant as 'Film Noir,' or 'Movie Genre,' and other odd ball things. Despite the bad puns on his chosen name, Caroline had a wicked sense of humor and they would occasionally team up and prank a well-liked client. As the man once told a particularly disturbed woman (who was divorcing her husband, but neither of them wanted the children), "It's how I show affection." Harry recalled he got a date out of it.
Mid-June a particularly disturbing man came waltzing through the door. Caroline greeting him personally, and immediately sent Harry out to gather lunch and research materials.
All while Harry was looking for the books on his list he thought of the man. He was certainly well dressed, more so than Caroline's well kept suits or Harry's cheep slacks and shirts. Every last detail Harry could remember was clean to a near anal retentive level. There was something disturbing about the way he looked down at Harry, who had been manning the phone at the time, but it was dismissed quickly enough.
Harry still had out-patient appointments with a doctor that he sort of-almost trusted. She told him it was normal for someone in his position to be paranoid, and easy to step over some line and become clinically paranoid that could send him back to an asylum. He couldn't let himself think that every man was out to use him.
Once he collected his bag of books from the teller he left to find lunch. It only took a day of working for Caroline to know that the man would eat anything, and the amount of food he could eat in a single sitting rivals everyone in his little foster family combined. Harry was partial to Rueben sandwiches, fresh from the deli. He would pick up one for himself, and maybe four for Caroline. Conveniently, the deli down the street recognized Harry as 'that cute kid that works for that guy with the bottomless stomach.' After enduring the flirtatious sales clerk, who gave him a free cookie, he made his way back to the office.
He thought an hour was enough, and carried his weight in books up the stairs. He caught sight of Caroline saying his farewell to the well dressed man, when he arrived they both stopped and turned to him. "Ah yes, lunch is here. If you'll excuse us?" Caroline said politely, but the tension lines around his eyes looked more prominent.
The man only moved to turn to Harry, "hello," he sounded nice enough, but there was something in his voice that made Harry want to flinch (and possibly go running in the other direction). "I am Sandor Farraday," he said as if it were the most important thing anyone would ever hear.
Harry counted himself lucky that his hands were full, and nodded politely at the man, "Noir," he said plainly. He felt his anxiety begin to rise, and tried to clear his mind and maybe squash the urge to have a pull blown panic attack. Instead he said as calmly as he could, "We really do have a full day of work ahead of us, but it was nice to meet you," and he stepped to the side.
Farraday frowned just a hint, and walked towards Harry. The boy pressed himself against the wall in hope to get as far away from him as possible, but the man seemed to be content to stroll at his leisure and tried to casually brush against his chest. In the last second Harry took a step to the side and avoided contact, rushed to the door and slipped past Caroline.
His first instinct was to regurgitate everything he'd eaten that week, but Harry successfully cleared his mind and the urge slowly faded. In it's place was a familiar itch beneath his skin and his body began to shake. He wasn't cold, but he recognized his body was calling out for the needle. Any needle.
Harry set the books and the food on his desk, casually swiping a safety pin out of the little container to the side and slipped it into his pocket. Caroline stepped into the office not a second later with a frown and a concerned look on his face, "Are you alright, Noir?" Harry nodded once, "I suppose you don't have to guess what he was being charged with," he sighed.
"No, I'm pretty sure I can guess. I'm sorry if I scared you at all," Harry offered, moving the books to the floor and began unpacking the food. "I didn't know what you wanted so I got one of turkey, ham, chicken, and salami." Caroline didn't seem to think he ate so much, so Harry's passive offer of four sandwiches went unnoticed, and the older man decided he'd like to try a bit of each. He sat down in one of the waiting chairs as Harry unpacked his own sandwich, their drinks, and a couple of bags of crisps. "I'll be right back," he said an excused himself to the bathroom. Caroline said nothing in response, but took an eager bite out of his first sandwich.
After closing and locking the door Harry sat pitifully on the lid of the toilet, not caring if the dust was going to stick to his cheap slacks. He pulled the small safety pin out of his pocket. Opened it, closed it, opened it again. He barely poked the tip of his finger, testing the sharpness. Then closed it, opened it, closed it again. It didn't take long for him to made his decision, untied his second-hand dress shoes, stripped his sock off. Again he held the safety pin between his fingers and opened it.
Only for a brief second did he wonder if he should. He knew it wouldn't the same as the drug, wouldn't be the same at all, but maybe he could reduce the itching by just a little. Slowly he pricked the space between his toes, beside one of the old scars, and he pressed it in slowly. His body seemed to relax just a little, so again he picked a space and pressed the needle like pin into his skin. It barely bleed, but a little bit of tissue between his toes insured that none of it would get onto his sock. He redressed his foot, and for good measure washed his hands, before returning to the office.
Caroline was already on his second sandwich.
The rest of the summer went smoothly, and Caroline was sad to reduce his hours to only weekends. Mrs. Brill had strict rules about everything, but especially school. The only reason she let Harry and one older girl named Suzy to keep their jobs was because they were already so dedicated to their studies. While working for Caroline hadn't been a walk it he park, Harry thought he was ready to test out of history too.
For the first semester Harry gladly doubled his math to two classes a day, all to get it out of the way. He had to admit he didn't find the subject all that fun, but it was becoming increasingly easy once someone explained what the letters were for. His electives were a little harder to choose, as he had limited choices, and needed to fill his requirements. He'd chosen an advanced photography class that was worth and extra credit, history of rock, military history, office aid, and some easy looking cooking class (he was assured the first half of the semester was mostly about learning how to use the appliances). In addition to his two math classes, his mandatory physical education, and an optional after hours class that wrote the school newspaper.
His club activities were still non-existent despite the insistence of his teacher to make friends. Harry usually countered that with his goal to graduate early and that he socialized plenty at work. He still practiced meditation, and could organize his thoughts as he liked. Harry actually enjoyed submerging himself into his mind and pretending to walk through the sky. He somewhat missed flying, but the imaginary world that he flew through was better. The only other thing that remained consistent through the first half of the semester was the itching need, and following that was the release at the end of the needle.
It was on two days before Halloween that he finally noticed them. Strange men, all dressed in expensive clothes whether they were jeans or suits. He tried to tell himself he was just being paranoid, but he could swear they were following him. Two men at time, one was always dressed casually while the second was in a work uniform or suite, they would follow him for exactly three blocks before two more took their place abruptly. The other thing most of them had in common was a tattoo, a gray dove with it's head tucked under a red tinted wing. It was most noticeable in the men in causal clothing, but an occasional workers uniform had it.
Harry was sure by the next day that he was being followed.
To Those Who Just Read:
This chapter is a little shorter, because I wanted a cliffhanger. I think I succeeded, but I've never been good at writing them.
I also realize that it's got very little dialogue...I don't really know what to say, but I suppose I'm just too eager to get to a certain point in the story.
There are a lot of useless names in this chapter, but the occasional one that'll show up in the future. I like Caroline's name the most, I think…
Thank you again, to those who reviewed. I'd also like to give thanks to people who have already added me to their alert and favorites list.
I like reviews and quotes.