A/N: Hi!! Thanks for checking out my story, and I hope you like it. I couldn't fit everything I wanted to say in my summary, so here are a few additional warnings for this story. This story is (sort of) a Severitus. It also MAY contain CP, I haven't decided yet. If you think of any other warnings I should add, let me know.
Harry stared down at his bare ankles in confusion. What happened to my pants? They were so short they didn't even cover his ankle bones, when they'd always been too long. Maybe they got shrunk in the wash? That was unlikely. His clothes had been washed a billion times over before they ever got to him. If they were gonna shrink, they'd've done it already. Maybe I grew? Almost as unlikely. He was short. He had always been short, he would always be short. The likelihood of that changing when he was fifteen was very low. Lower than Dudley's clothing shrinking, though? And I've been so clumsy...
Shaking his head, Harry stood up against the wall of his room, drew a line with a pencil to approximate the level of the top of his head, and measured it. Merlin. He was almost five foot eight inches tall. He'd grown four inches in...well he didn't really remember the last time he'd measured himself, but still, four inches! No wonder he'd been clumsy. No wonder his bones had ached. Come to think of it, I feel a bit stronger, too. Maybe that's normal for wizards?
His back itched. He tried scrubbing it with the long-handled brush in the shower, but it only helped for a moment before the itch was back. Finally he got out of the shower to twine around to look at it in the mirror, figuring he'd just somehow gotten poison ivy in a strange place, and froze. That's not poison ivy. It was black, and had sharp edges like a tattoo, and seemed to be in his skin, rather than on it. But it itched. What the hell is that? Some sort of weird magical skin disease or something? It really looked more like a tattoo, though, than any sort of rash - it wasn't raised, and instead of being a messy patch on his skin it was almost pretty – a crisp, black, flowing pattern of lines and dots that looked almost alive.
I didn't get drunk or anything, did I? He shook his head. No. He knew he hadn't gotten drunk, because he never got drunk, and he could remember the previous miserable evening precisely. He'd wandered around the playground like he always did, then went to bed. He had not gotten a tattoo. It doesn't really look like a tattoo, either, come to think of it. It was like vines or something growing on his skin and covering a precise portion of his shoulder blades, and it followed the lines of his body like a really well done tattoo might, but somehow he just knew that wasn't what it was. What the fuck is it, then?
"Boy! Get out of there! Petunia needs you in the kitchen!"
"Alright, I'm coming!"
Harry wrapped himself in a towel, carefully making sure the marks were covered, and walked back to his room to get dressed.
Oh Merlin, it's growing. It really is alive. For three days he had scratched and bothered at it, but it never helped. Today he had finally given up on scratching it with his hands, and gone inside to the bathroom to use the brush from the shower, and frozen at the mirror. It was bigger. The damn thing was growing up his shoulder blades like some sort of parasite. And where the first patch no longer itched as badly, the new marks creeping up his shoulder blades were like to drive him mad. I'm diseased. Really, actually, diseased. I've got some sort of wizarding skin cancer.
Should he tell someone? They sent me back here nine days after I fought Voldemort and carried my friend's corpse back with me afterwards. They're hardly going to care that I've got some rash.
Harry chewed carefully, trying to avoid using his canine teeth. He'd noticed the ache the previous day at dinner, and it had only gotten worse, since. It was like he had a cavity, or like a baby tooth coming out, or something. More like the baby tooth, he realized. It didn't feel unhealthy, for some reason, like a cavity did. It felt somehow...natural. Doesn't make it any more pleasant.
And his hair seemed to be growing faster, too, and looked so black it was like it swallowed the light, and made his eyes glow like coals at the same time. Besides that, he found his glasses didn't work anymore – his vision was almost blurrier wearing them than not, and either way he had trouble seeing well enough to navigate through his chores. What on Earth is going on?
His shoulders ached and itched. The...whatever it was...had spread to the front of his shoulders and was now headed down his upper arms, until only the biggest of Dudley's tee-shirts would cover it. He'd taken to changing in the bathroom, because he couldn't cover it and his lower regions with one towel, and the one time he'd taken two it had earned him a slap from his aunt for the 'waste'. This. Officially. Sucks.
This is nuts, Harry reflected, looking at himself in the mirror. His hair was down to his chin, where it had been only an inch long a little over two weeks ago. It had also developed a blue sheen in the sunlight that was completely unapparent indoors, but that he'd noticed that morning when he went out to work in the yard. Only a reminder of what had happened the last time she'd tried to cut his hair kept Petunia away from it. It was one of the more pleasant of his strangenesses, and he did not want it cut. Why not? I've never had long hair before...
This really isn't stopping, is it? Harry thought, once again staring himself in the mirror. He'd left off his glasses entirely, as his vision was useless with them on and almost clear without them. Not only that, but his teeth were growing. Not a lot, but enough that they felt different in his mouth, and his bite felt a bit strange. They were also getting sharp – nipping his tongue if he messed with them too much. The pain in his teeth was fading, so he hoped that meant they were almost done changing, but they already showed when he smiled. Oh Merlin. What if I'm not 'wizard sick' like dragon pox, what if I'm 'wizard sick' like werewolf or something? I have fucking dog teeth!
This could be permanent, Harry realized, running his tongue over his teeth as he worked painted a fence in the yard. The tattoos on his arms looked...ingrained. Like they were inhis skin, not on it. His teeth felt like...his teeth. Like they were supposed to be that way all along and it had just taken this long for them to show up. They were...real.
What was more, his back hurt. Not just ached like before, really hurt. It felt like his shoulder blades were getting too big for his skin to contain th – the skin felt stretched,and the bones throbbed dully like a limb held in an uncomfortable position for too long, but worse. Enough to restrict his movement and make painting the fence difficult. Please, please, please let it just be a weird backache.
"What is wrong with you? You think when I tell you to paint the fence I mean only the bottom six feet?!"
Harry looked up at his aunt, annoyed. "My shoulders hurt. My arms don't want to reach that high."
"Deal with it."
"How am I supposed to 'deal with it'? It hurts!" Harry said, getting angry, but his aunt was already inside the house. Sighing, he went to get the step-ladder. And me six feet tall. Well this sucks.
She's been on edge lately, he realized. Maybe she's noticed? He scoffed. How could she not? I'm six feet tall and my hair's down to my shoulders!
His forehead hurt. He would call it a headache, but it didn't really feel like a headache. Usually a headache hurt inside, like his skull was too small for his brain. This felt more like his shoulder blades – like his skull was too large for his skin. And not even all of his skull, just two sharp places to either side of his forehead. This time, he refused to look in the mirror, and just kept working the garden, occasionally poking at the area. The skin felt raised, and the looked shiny and irritated, like it really was stretching over a bump in his skull. Which is exactly why I am not going to look in the mirror at it. I can cope with tattoos. I can maybe even cope with weird teeth. I am NOT getting horns.
He contemplated contacting Dumbledore about it, but once again dismissed the idea. What should he care if I have a headache?...And a weird tattoo that grows of its own volition. And hair that won't stop growing. And sharp canines. Wait. Weird markings on his skin. Big, sharp canines that showed if he smiled at all. Bumps on his forehead. Something funky going on with his back. Shit! I really am turning into something! By now he'd figured out that whatever was going on with his back was big. Bigger than his new tattoos, even, and they'd taken over most of his upper arms and were encroaching on his elbows.
Should he tell? If so, who should he tell? The headmaster had not told him anything this year! He'd barely acknowledged Harry's existence since the end of the triwizard tournament when Cedric-no. Don't think about that. It's over, it wasn't your fault. Don't think about it. Concentrate on the fact that you're some sort of spotted thing with big teeth.
He clutched his head, pushing his fingers into the almost-imperceptible bumps to try and rub out the ache. It hurt, but somehow it felt good, too, like messing with a loose tooth. Lupin, maybe? He of all people would know about being a- nonhuman. Harry shook his head. No. Lupin's human, and so am I. I'm just a...weird human. Nonhuman's just...I think I prefer the incurable wizarding disease option.
But he hadn't heard from Lupin any more than he'd heard from Dumbledore. At this point he hadn't talked to Lupin since before Cedric he had been killed. He couldn't go to him with something like this, now. He'd talked to Sirius more recently, but tell Sirius about this? What could Sirius do? He was stuck hiding out somewhere. He couldn't leave, and Harry wouldn't tempt him to do so. I've drawn enough people into danger lately, I think. Harry wrenched out a stubborn weed with unnecessary force, sending dirt flying.
Who else? Ron would think it was weird. Well, duh. But Ron, of the three of them, had had the hardest time accepting Remus, and Remus had been human most of the time, at least. Whatever Harry was, it was getting more obvious every day, and it didn't go away based on time of day or phase of the moon. Plus, Ron would want to tell Hermione, who would try to research it or something, and somehow Harry knew he couldn't bear it if she found his species in her Care of Magical Creatures textbook. And they'll try to be good about it, but it'll be weird. They'll never look at me the same way again. I mean, I can't look at myself in the mirror without a shock, for goodness' sake!
But was there really no-one he could talk to about this?It was like the whole wizarding world had abandoned him. That's not fair, he told himself. Sirius and Ron and Hermione have been writing, they just...haven't said anything. Even Sirius had just told him 'be careful', 'don't do anything rash'. Like he always ran off on purpose to get himself killed. And like Sirius wouldn't if he could.
You'd think that after the triwizard tournament, I decided it just wasn't enough glory and portkeyed myself to that graveyard, and then turned myself into some weird magical creature just to be reckless.No. He wouldn't tell anyone. He'd just be a burden, and he'd been enough trouble for one lifetime, apparently. Let them have their summer away from me. I'll just be a good little...freak...and stay out of trouble. Harry knew his thoughts were overly bitter, but he couldn't bring himself to care, much. It was being a really miserable summer. Maybe I'm just overreacting. Maybe I am just sick and it'll go away on its own and I won't have to do anything about it at all. And maybe Snape'll run off to join the circus.
He was strong. Strangely so. His chores were getting easier and easier, and if it weren't for the pain in his shoulders he'd have almost enjoyed them. It felt good to move and stretch the new muscles, as long as he didn't try to reach above his head just yet.
He'd also noticed that his food didn't taste good. He'd've thought it was the food – Petunia's cooking skills were unpredictable – but even some of the stuff he made tasted off. Finally he was reduced to eating bread and vegetables, finding that any cooked meat tasted nasty, though the raw seemed strangely appealing.
"Boy!" Startled, Harry jumped and splashed water on the floor, then turned his head to bare his teeth briefly at his aunt. It wasn't until the horse-faced woman gave a little shriek that he realized what he'd done. Shit! At this point, his upper canines were as long as a dog's – impossible to mistake for human. Like baring normal teeth would've been real 'human'. Humans roll their eyes, or something, they don't show their canines. What the fuck am I doing?
His aunt was looking at him wide-eyed. "What was that?" she demanded shrilly. "Freak! What have you brought into my house?"
"Nothing! It's just- it's just me!"
"In your room! Now! And you aren't coming out for the rest of the summer!"
"I didn't do anything!"
"You think I'll let our neighbors see you like this, you- you freak! GET IN THAT ROOM!"
Harry sighed. 'Cause this summer needed to get worse. "Yes, Aunt Petunia."
On most of his bathroom trips Harry avoided looking in the mirror. He knew the bumps on his forehead were getting more and more pronounced, and something was going on with his ears, too – they had started to itch and burn at the tips - but when his aunt screamed and almost shut him back in the bedroom immediately upon seeing him, he had to know. Something worse than dog teeth?He wondered, frightened. When he looked at himself in the mirror, nothing that he had expected had happened. He didn't have horns...yet. The skin was definitely stretched – it even had honest-to-goodness stretch marks to prove it- and there was definitely something bony just under the surface, but he didn't have horns. His ears looked normal, if a little red. The marks on his arms were safely covered up by the long-sleeved shirt he'd dug out of his drawers.
Nevertheless it was the most upsetting change yet, for Harry. His face, the one thing that had seemed to be staying the same, was marked with similar lines to the ones he'd managed to hide on his shoulders and arms. If they'd been on anyone else, he would've said they weren't too horrible. Just a couple black 'vines' and a dot on each cheek under his eyes, following the curve of his cheekbones. They were even symmetrical. But- my face. How on Earth am I supposed to hide this? As he bent to study the lines in the mirror, he noticed something more subtle. His eyebrows looked...different. And his chin, maybe. And his cheekbones. His face looked...strange. Just a little, but...strange. Somehow that was even more disturbing than the marks. The marks were on his face; this was his face. Staring into the mirror, he felt the first inklings of a deep despair. What is happening to me?
July 31 – 1:00 AM
It was a dream. Harry knew it was a dream, and yet some part of him was convinced that he would die if he couldn't just wake up! He was running, running after some helpless creature, intent on shredding it to pieces, while a large crowd chased him with the same intention. He had to catch his prey, before he was captured, or he had to wake up. Otherwise he would die. Then the dream changed, and he was running down a dark corridor, staring at a door. He wanted to enter it, something marvelous was inside, just beyond that door- PAIN! Pain and thrashing and the crowd had gotten him and were tearing at his back and no it was some sort of giant monster and it was clawing his head, too, and no he was in his bed and his forehead hurt and his back was killing him and oh please someone MAKE IT STOP! And then it did, and he collapsed bleeding on the bed, completely exhausted from the ordeal. He tried to turn over onto his back, but there was something in the way, so he gave up and rolled back onto his stomach. My back doesn't ache anymore, he realized just before falling asleep.
July 31 – 8:00 AM
"Boy! If you're not up in the next five minutes you'll have to wait until tomorrow!"
"I'm coming!" Harry mumbled, trying once again to roll over onto his back to get up. Once again, there was something in the way. Harry looked back to move it and froze, seeing something huge and black behind him. Frightened and still half asleep, he sat back on his haunches slowly, then stood up off the bed, still looking back. Whatever it was followed his every movement, but slowly, and Harry found that whatever it was didn't strike him as dangerous. The muscles in his shoulders ached, and he rolled them. The big black things rolled with the movement. Oh.
Finally his brain caught up with the rest of him and he held his breath and reached back with a hand to touch the lightly furred, leathery webbing. Oh! He jumped as sensation shot through him from the touch. Yeah they're definitely mine. He had wings. Honest-to-God bat-like webbed wings. Suddenly remembering the terrifying dreams and the pain from the night before, Harry reached up to touch the bumps on his forehead, and Oh, I was really hoping that those would turn out to be some sort of gigantic pustules. Nevertheless he explored the little bumps with his fingertips, avoiding the irritated skin where they had come through and touching just the little bony horns.
Abruptly Harry had to see a mirror. Hoping to avoid his aunt, he shot out of the bedroom in just his pajama pants and ran to the bathroom down the hall. He got in, wing-joints barely scraping the seven-foot doorway, closed the door, and whirled around to look in the mirror. What he saw...was unreal.
The first thing he looked at were the wings, huge black leathery things that reached a foot above his head when folded tight as they were. When he cautiously extended them, he realized that they were too big to extend inside the bathroom. Somehow that made him feel terribly claustrophobic, and he pulled them back in quickly. Next he noticed his chest and abdomen, muscled more than they'd ever been in his life, but at the same time not any bigger than they'd been. They were toned, was all. And he was tall. He'd never thought he would grow to be six feet. Never in a million years. His arms and shoulders came next. By now the tattoo was almost to his wrists, and looked...completely natural, like it was part of him and was meant to be exactly as it was. If he looked at himself objectively, it even looked kind of cool.
Finally he got to the part he'd been avoiding: his face. He definitely had horns. They were small, for the moment, and he could mostly hide them in his hair, but who knew if that would last?Horns. I have actual, honest-to-God horns. His ears had finally changed, too, he noticed: they came up to a subtle point, like they hadn't before. His facial structure still looked mostly like his – maybe like his after he'd grown up a bit and broken his nose once. Somehow, though, that was still harder to bear than the horns and the ears and the lines on his cheeks. He didn't look quite like him, and that was terribly disturbing. Baring his teeth at his reflection, Harry stopped looking at everything individually and stepped back to see the whole picture.
Oh, God. I'm really not human. Humans could have tattoos; they could be tall and strong and have nice abs and long hair. They could maybe even have pointed ears. They could not have sharp, elongated canine teeth. They could not have wings. They could not have horns. The figure in the mirror was...a monster. An abomination. A freak.
Petunia's going to kill me, he realized. Or, actually, more likely, she would just ignore him entirely. How am I going to eat? How...who's going to let me out to go to the bathroom?
Harry spent a few minutes staring at himself mutely in the mirror and tried to decide what he was going to do about the whole issue. He was too shocked to really figure anything out, though. He had wings for goodness' sake. I really ought to tell somebody, he reflected, but he knew he wouldn't. He could handle this by himself, and who was to say it would last, anyway? He'd handled Voldemort on his own, three times now. He could cope with this, too, until somebody figured it out on their own. He hoped that would be a long time from now. 'Dear Remus,' he thought, 'I'm even less human than you are, now. Any idea how to fix it?'
But the humor fell flat, even in his own head. He couldn't fix it. Somehow he knew that this was who he was, now. It didn't feel like a disease, anymore, now that most of the changes were over; it just felt like his body. His own winged, horned, deformed body. I'm going to be like this forever, he realized, despairing. How am I possibly going to keep it a secret? What will happen when it's revealed?Remus had to deal with ministry restrictions and public prejudice every day of his life. He'd had to register, he couldn't get a job, he couldn't adopt children. He'd even had to leave Hogwartswhen parents had found out he was a werewolf because everyone had feared for their children. Oh Merlin, Hogwarts. Dumbledore had let Remus stay, as a student, but Remus had been able tohide what he was. I can't be kicked out. I can't. I have got to hide!
"Boy! What are you doing in there! Get back to your room, now!"
"I'm coming," Harry said automatically, before realizing. "Errr...Aunt Petunia. I should warn you I look a little strange; well, stranger. I didn't do it on purpose, but-"
"You think it's new to me that you're a freak?! Get out of there immediately!"
Harry sighed. This is going to go I can tell. "Yes, Aunt Petunia."
Tucking his new...appendages...up tightly, Harry exited the bathroom, still dressed only in the huge sweatpants that he usually slept in.
Petunia was less than six feet away, and gaped at him in shock. Belatedly, Harry realized that this was the first time she'd seen the marks on his arms, too. How am I gonna get a shirt on? Harry wondered briefly, before Petunia regained the ability to speak.
"Out!" Was all she said, a high, hysterical note in the one word.
"Out! Get out! Out of my house, out of my life, away from my family! Get out now; I will not tolerate your presence here any longer!"
That he had not expected. Locked in his room? Sure. Fed less? Likely. Not allowed out even to pee? Dreaded, but possible. Kicked out? Never in a million years. This was the only home he had. "But- Aunt Petunia, please - where am I supposed to go?"
"I don't care! Get out of my house! Vernon! Vernon get over here now!"
Vernon lumbered out of the bedroom, still clearly half asleep. "Yes, darlin-"
"Make him leave!"
Finally focusing on Harry, Vernon did a double-take before shaking his head, looking unsure. "Petunia, he's fifteen-"
"Please, Vernon, he can't stay here! Think what he'll do to Dudley! He's a monster! Take him away!"
Harry looked to Vernon as the more sane of the two and spoke. "Look, I'll leave, but let me get some stuff, first?"
"No!" Petunia shrieked, "Not here! Vernon, he can't stay here!"
Harry looked back at Vernon. "Unless you want me to walk out to the car looking like this."
Vernon went back into the bedroom and came out with a key, approaching Harry and speaking menacingly. "Five minutes, boy. Grab what you need, but be in my car in five minutes."
Harry knew better than to push his luck. "Yes, Uncle Vernon."
And so it was that Harry arrived at King's Cross station with nothing but the stuff he kept under the floorboard in his room: his wand, the photo album that Hagrid had given him, his invisibility cloak, and a handful of Galleons. He hadn't been able to hide his trunk the invisibility cloak, or even managed to put on a shirt. What do I do now? He wondered, keeping his invisibility cloak wrapped tightly around him as he watched Vernon drive away. Where can I go?
Harry stood at the entrance to Knockturn Alley, staring down at the street that had seemed so terrifying to him as a child. Not that it didn't seem a bit scary now – the people there were definitely strange, and it was clearly not the best part of town. There were a couple of people that Harry suspected were vampires – who Harry knew were, for the most part, safe - and some other people with strange markings or piercings, and even someone with a tail, but nobody with huge fangs or claws like he'd expected. They're a lot more normal-looking than I am, now. There was no reason for these people to be any scarier than he was. And there's nobody like me, either. Damn.
He briefly considered taking off the invisibility cloak; just covering his scar with his hair and walking in, but shuddered. I can't even put a shirt on, for goodness' sake. As soon as the invisibility cloak came off, everybody would see everything: the markings, the wings, the horns, the ears. At this point he'd only be able to hide his teeth if he never spoke. What if someone identified him as something truly scary, and alerted the ministry? All in all, even in this environment, he preferred to hide, at least for now.
Having taken stock of his surroundings, Harry creeped down Knockturn Alley, concentrating on avoiding people and finding an inn where he could stay the night, and someplace that might know how to hide his...issues. Finally he saw a sign advertising, "Wings 'N Things: Clothing for all types," and ducked inside. Staying under the invisibility cloak, Harry wandered around the empty store, looking curiously at the clothing on display. It doesn't look strange. Then one of the manikins caught his eye. Oh. It was the usual blank-faced, big-boobed model except for a couple aspects: its barbed tail, pointed ears, and small, curved horns.
Curiosity piqued, Harry looked around at the other manikins, smiling as he noted one with wings similar to his, and another with spikes jutting from its shoulders. The clothing closed seamlessly around the...extras...and Harry couldn't for the life of him figure out how one got them on, but apparently it was possible. A sign on the wall even advertised robes that would 'faze when you do!'. He remembered how shocked he'd been as an eleven-year-old when signs and manikins had moved at all, and shook his head. It had been a long time since he'd been 'just Harry.'
"Who's there?! Show yerself! Thief!"
As Harry watched, startled, a wizened old man even shorter than Professor Flitwick came out of the back of the store, wielding his cane in one hand and a wand in the other.
"I said show yerself! I'll not have people skulking around my store!"
"I'm not a thief."
"Well you wouldn't admit it, would you?! I'm hardly believin' you're not a thief just on your say-so! What are you doing sneaking around all invisible-like, huh? You got an explanation for that?!
"I- I just-"
"Like I thought! Thieving, that's what y' are! You want to prove me wrong, heh? Show y'self!"
He's got to see me before he'll sell me clothing, Harry realized. Tentatively, Harry removed the cloak and dropped it to the ground. Ugh. I feel...naked. Suddenly something dark came around Harry, protecting him from view but also blocking his view of the tiny shopkeeper. A moment later he realized it was his wings, and tightened them further to avoid seeing the man's reaction.
Far from yelling or sounding frightened, though, the man sounded calmer when he spoke. "Oh. One of those, are ya? Relax, nobody's going t' harm y' here. Y' need clothes, I wager?"
"Yes, sir," Harry said, relaxing his wings the tiniest bit so he could see through.
"Well, go on, let me see you! I can't hardly be expected to size y' up with all that membrane in the way, can I?"
"No, sir." Feeling foolish, Harry slowly opened his wings and folded them back behind his back, until he was standing openly in front of the old man in nothing but a pair of huge sweatpants. Feeling terribly exposed, he stared straight at the floor, using his hair to shield his face. I can't let him realize who I am, he realized suddenly. If he tells-it would be a disaster. An absolute nightmare. The whole world would know. The headline of the Daily Prophet would read something like 'Dark Creature or Dark Lord?: The Boy-Who-Lived is a monster!'
"Y'er a medium, I think, with alterations for the wings. Are y' looking for robes, or muggle-style pants and shirts?"
"Both, please." Really, he needed an entire wardrobe, he realized. He'd not been allowed to take his trunk with him. "And socks and shoes and underwear. A-and a hat? Maybe? Do you have any suggestions for how to hide these?" he asked, touching one of his horns carefully.
"Y' won't have to do that around here. There're those who'd be a mite offended if y' did."
"I- I know that, I think. But I can't just stay here all the time, and I can't walk out to Diagon Alley looking like this!" Harry paused, hearing his pitch rise a little on that last word. He would not have hysterics. Personally, he thought the situation merited some hysterics, but he would not indulge the impulse.
"Relax. I'll get you yer clothes. I was just suggesting that perhaps y' ought t' let some of it show – yer marks, or mebbe even yer horns. You can acknowledge what you are t' the rest've us without showing everything or alerting the humans, yeah?"
The rest of us. As in 'the rest of us non-humans.' He shook his head to rid himself of the thought."Okay, yeah, I guess." The marks on my arms just look like tattoos, anyway, he reminded himself. "By the way, do you know a place I can stay for cheap, here?"
"I thought you might ask that," the old man said, cocking his head, "you are in a bind, aren't you?"
"What do you mean?"
"Y'er here, tryin' t' buy a whole wardrobe worth of clothes and lookin' for someplace t' stay, when y'er clearly so new t' your form y' still can't stand to look at yerself in a mirror. It's not that hard t' guess that you've lost your home."
Harry turned away. I guess it's not, come to think of it. He turned back, searching for what they'd been discussing before and remembering that he'd asked if the man knew of a cheap inn. "Well, do you? And maybe somewhere I could get a charm or something to hide my- my weirdness?"
Abruptly the man fixed him with a gimlet glare and Harry ducked his head, realizing his faux pas. "Sorry."
"Y' might want to be watching yer words, there. Y'er not the only one around here to be less than welcome in the wizarding world."
"Now there's an inn right across the Alley that'll fit'cher needs just fine. The landlady's a friend a' mine, and she'll set y' up proper once I get y' dressed. Mind you, some of her clientele are like to scare ye, but everybody knows y'don't want to cause trouble in Harlot's Inn."
Harry choked at the name. "Umm- excuse me? Did you just say-"
"Well, what would you call an inn run by a woman named Madame Harlot?"
Still surprised, but not wanting to offend the man, Harry shook his head and responded, "Errr...good point, I guess."
"Hmm. Now. I've got some modified Hogwarts school robes, here," the shopkeeper said, looking through one of the racks, "as well as plenty of muggle-style pants and shirts. What colors and styles do y' prefer?"
"Err...black for the robes? And- er- jeans?" Suddenly Harry remembered, and dug a hand into his pocket to show the man his handful of galleons. "This is all I've got, though, so – maybe just a shirt? I'll come back for the rest when I've gotten to Gringotts."
The miniscule man shook his head at him. "Y' really ain' ever paid for anything except with cash?"
"And y'ain' ever seen any wizardspay for anything without cash?"
The little man looked at him in consternation. "And that'd be why y' lost yer home, I'd wager. Yes?"
Harry sighed. "They were just scared."
"Did y' attack them?"
"No. Why would you think that?"
"Well 'xactly. I wouldn't 'mediately think that, and neither would you, but they did. They were scared for no reason, and didn't love y' 'nough to get over 't."
Well that was...tactful. He couldn't figure out how to respond and eventually went for polite, but couldn't quite keep the irony from his voice. "Thanks, sir that...that really helps." Can I just get my clothes and go, please?
"What do you want fer shirts, then?" The man asked, and Harry returned gratefully to the previous conversation.
"Uh...dunno. Whatever'll work over my- my wings."
"It'll all work over yer wings. It's the fabric what's modified, not the pattern."
"Okay," Harry said, smiling a bit for the first time that day. That's easy.
"Y' also talked about hiding them. That's custom, and 'tll be expensive, but it can be done. Why don't ya let me know what is is yer lookin' for, then, and I'll get y' the normal stuff now and the rest in a week or so?"
Harry looked at him in consternation. He'd just been planning on staying the night, getting his way to hide, and getting out of there and back to Diagon Alley where he...belonged. Used to belong,he reminded himself, then wrenched his mind back on track. He couldn't go anywhere until he had those clothes! "A week?" He squeaked, "but I- I can't stay for a week!" Stay for a whole week in Knockturn Alley? Among all the other weirdos? Without clothes to hide what he looked like? And the Order'll be looking for me for sure! What if they find me, looking like this?
The man just looked at him. "Where were you plannin' on going, then? I daresay y'll be much better off in Madame Harlot's then on Diagon Alley or the like. And 'tll do you good t' stay visible for a bit, an' get used to what y'er s'posed to look like 'fore y' hide yerself."
Harry just closed his eyes for a bit and took a deep breath. There's nothing I can do about it, I might as well be polite.
"So what canyou get me today, then?"
"I can get ya yer standard stuff – robes, jeans, shirts – but hiding wings is tricky. I would go down the street t' the Shadowed Drow. The cheapest and best way to get th' camouflage yer lookin' for is to wear charmed clothing like I can make ya, but for a bit of gold the 'Drow'll get y' some temporary charms. They'll fleece you for'em, and they'll only last a couple of hours, but if y' really need to go into Diagon Alley, they'll setcha up faster than I can."
"Okay, I guess that'll work. Thanks."