Harry was bored and irritated. His uncle had caught him watching a commercial and he nearly broken his arm.
Still, that commercial gave him an idea. One that he was growing to like the more he considered it. Especially when he considered the only other option.
He would run away and join the circus.
Vernon reluctantly allowed the 'freak' to join them on the ride to the circus, which would be in town for the next week. But the reason why he allowed the boy to accompany them was simple. Harry mentioned his plan to run away.
And that was more than enough to make Vernon Dursley happy. Especially if the boy succeeded.
Harry waited until the show ended before he approached the knife throwing woman.
"Can I help you?"
"What would it take to join up with your group?"
Startled, she began to explain that they couldn't take in minors when she saw the look his guardian shot him. It was a look of pure loathing and hate.
"What can you do?"
Harry had thought ahead and told her. Aside from his snake speak ability, he was really good with all sorts of animals. So Cathy took him into the tent to see the lions up close.
He stuck his hand in the cage. One of the females walked up to his hand and allowed him to pet her. Soon all the other lioness' in the cage approached him. The male lion gave Harry a nod of respect before going back to sleep.
Cathy was impressed.
"I'll have to clear it with your guardian and the ringmaster, but you should be able to join."
Harry beamed at her.
Over the course of a week, Harry managed to move all his possessions to the camp. Including a trunk he never knew his aunt had that belonged to his mother.
In order to keep his 'watchers' unaware of what he planned, he bought a few things. Dudley was more than happy with the new flat screen that he helped Harry move into the house. (While they were moving that, they managed to put the trunks in the car under the invisibility cloak.)
Hedwig had been told to fly ahead and wait for him. Since there was no way he could hide the perch, he left it behind. By the end of the week, Harry had removed all traces of his presence at Number 4 Privet Drive.
All that was left was to actually leave.
And he was more than ready to go. Vernon would take the family out to eat and return late into the night. By the time they returned, the watchers would have switched shifts and Harry would have slipped away.
It would be morning when they realized he escaped.
Harry enjoyed the acts, and was thrilled when he saw the lions. (Much to his surprise, the cats always seemed to know when he was nearby.)
Once it was all over, Harry went to the Ringmaster with a grin. The man didn't like the fact he was minor, but after meeting the Dursley family he understood.
Harry woke up early that morning with a grin. Cathy had given him the room across from hers, which he later found out belonged to the missing clown called Trowa. He would disappear and reappear without warning.
Since he was the new member, he got most of the chores when they set up. Hedwig was more than happy with her new spot. No one minded her in the least, and Cathy was considering added her to Harry's act.
By the time they reached Ireland, Harry had learned most of the things he would be doing at the circus.
He had to help make breakfast for the troop, clean all the animal cages and feed them, and help set up the tents. All in all, it wasn't nearly as bad as the Dursley house.
All the big cats adored him, the elephants were frisky around him, and the bears he cautiously avoided.
Harry fit in just fine with the troop.
Harry was going to pass out fliers with Cathy while everyone prepared their act. At the same time they were going to pick up the groceries.
Since he didn't want anyone to recognize him, Harry bought a simple black cap with an owl on it. The owl had it's wings outstretched to each end of the cap.
That was when Harry spotted someone from his dorm.
Seamus Finnagan. He really hoped the boy didn't spot him.
No such luck. Seamus spotted him and scowled.
"What are you doing here Harry?"
"Don't tell anyone. I'm only out here passing fliers," said Harry.
Seamus picked one up. His brow crinkled in confusion.
"You're in the circus?"
"Don't ask. Anyway, how would you like to come? I'm sure Cathy wouldn't mind."
"So me an' Dean get to go to the circus as your treat right?"
"You keep quiet about where you saw me and you have a deal," grinned Harry.
(As it turned out Cathy did have two extra tickets. Harry gave both his dorm mates fifty pounds for snacks.)
03 approached the tent. Something was different, but he couldn't tell what.
That is, until he entered the tent itself. There sitting in his chair reading a complicated book was a boy about fourteen. All he could really see of the kid was messy black hair and glasses.
The kid sensed his presence fairly quick, and looked up from his book. Emerald green eyes met in surprise.
"Who are you?"
"Um...you're name wouldn't happen to be Trowa would it?" asked the kid.
"Yes. What is yours?"
"I'm Harry. I guess I'm your new room mate," said the kid, holding out his hand.
Trowa shook it. He noted the odd calluses on the boy's hand. They were almost like his own.
Cathy came in, and saw with relief that the two were getting along just fine.
"Trowa! You're back! I see you meet our new recruit."
Trowa raised an eyebrow.
"I joined them in Surrey," Harry explained.
Trowa left five minutes later, confused. Normally the troop didn't take in teenage runaways.
Harry was worried.
"He didn't like me much did he?" he said.
"Trowa is a guy of few words. Don't worry about him. I'm sure he love you just as much as we do soon enough."
Harry opted to be one of the people who welcomed the customers. Once the show began, he got see how the mysterious Trowa handled his act.
Trowa was the most stoic clown Harry had ever met.
While Harry mostly had red, gold and green on his costume, Trowa looked like a regular clown...with half a mask. (Harry had said NO to the red nose.)
Much to his surprise, Trowa was Cathy's partner in the knife throwing act. (Whereas they had been very shocked to discover that Harry could catch said knives with ease. Throwing them was another story.)
By the end of the night came Harry special act. He had worked it out with the ringmaster beforehand.
Inside a large cage were three highly poisonous snakes. A black mamba, an Egyptian asp, and a king cobra. A bite from one of these snakes was fatal.
Harry walked out on stage in his special outfit, which consisted of a large sleeveless tank top and shorts. The shirt was an eerie green color and the shorts were gold with silver lining. His ears had been pierced with what the audience assumed were snake fangs. (More like dragon fangs.)
Harry would reach in at random and pull out a snake. Then he would move about the audience and allow them to ensure that the snake was in fact real. Then he would allow the snakes to crawl over him and startle the audience with a loud hiss. When everyone was afraid he would be bit, the snakes would slither as one back into their cage.
And none of it was done with a pipe of any kind.
Naturally the audience was stunned, before they loose a loud applause.
Trowa was curious. How had that boy managed to handle three very poisonous snakes without any musical instrument? As he entered his room, he wasn't surprised to see Harry in another outfit. While fun, the one he had been wearing was a bit uncomfortable.
What he had on now was definitely something Cathy picked out. She had the best sense of fashion outside of 04.
Harry was wearing a black tee with a lion insignia. His pants were a deep navy blue with silver linings. There were chains hanging from his belt loop, which had a stylized snake belt. He was also barefoot.
Trowa faintly noted that his hair was still wet.
Harry sat down and opened up his book. From outside Trowa heard a loud hoot...then there was a tapping at the window. Outside the window was a beautiful snow white owl. Harry reached behind him and undid the latch without looking up.
The owl flew to his shoulder with a letter tied to it's leg.
"Hey Hedwig. Any news today?" Harry asked smiling.
The owl hooted and held out her leg. (Trowa just had a feeling it was a female owl.)
Upon looking at the name, Harry scowled.
He took a pair of tweezers and carefully removed the letter. Once he was outside he threw it in the fire.
Trowa walked up to him.
"What's that all about?"
"My old teacher wants me back under his thumb. I have other plans," said Harry simply.
Trowa accepted that answer. He held out his hand for the owl. Harry carefully moved Hedwig onto his hand. She walked up onto Trowa's closed fist. Harry smiled.
"She likes you."
"What kind of owl is she?"
"Snow owl. First birthday present I ever got. She's been part of my family for five years next week."
Trowa silently calculated the boy's age. If he was right, that meant Harry had never had a birthday present until he was eleven.
Harry looked at his watch.
"Time to feed the cats."
Trowa came to a decision. Something about Harry bothered him, and he was going to get to the bottom of it.
Between the two of them, feeding the lions took less than ten minutes. All the while Trowa was taking note of his new room mate.
Harry never complained once about the weight of the meat, or even asked for help even when the food was clearly too big for him to carry. When he bent down, Trowa saw a long scar on his back.
Then there was the way he acted around the animals. The lions and tigers treated him like an orphaned cub. The bears allowed him to come closer than most. The elephants were frisky around him.
And then there was the imperceptible flinch Harry gave off when Cathy gently touched his shoulder to ask hims something. All of this lead to one conclusion for Trowa.
Harry had been heavily abused. Possibly for many years. It looked like he was trying to overcome his inability to connect with people, but even he knew that would be a long road.
Harry lay on his small bed. Trowa was right across from him. Unknown to the long haired brunet, Harry knew full well that Trowa wasn't asleep.
Long years of careful observation had given Harry an edge. He could instinctively know when someone was asleep or not. He had to, on the days that Vernon locked him in the cupboard. It was that ability which allowed him to sneak out of the cupboard and raid the very back of the pantry. Petunia mostly paid attention to the front. Everything in the back was slightly dustier.
Around one, it quickly became clear that he wasn't going to get any sleep that night. So Harry did the logical thing and decided to give it up as a bad job.
Once he had decided to run to the circus in an attempt to find normality in his life, Harry had owled Remus asking which books he would recommend for someone taking their OWLs. The werewolf was a well of information on what books he should get.
Harry had followed his advice and bought the books through mail order.
Of course that was two days before his watchers discovered that he gave them the slip...
Trowa noted that the boy had difficulty sleeping, and added it to his growing concern. By two he had fallen asleep.
Cathy walked past the lion cage and noticed that the lock was on wrong. Concerned she looked inside...and tried not to growl in annoyance. It was bad enough that she had caught Trowa doing this, but now Harry too?
Inside the lion's cage, curled up between the four females and lone male, was Harry. He appeared to be sound asleep! And to add to her annoyance Harry still had a book in his hand, half open. That was when she had an amusing idea. She had done it to Trowa the last time, so now she would start doing it to Harry.
She went into her room and grabbed her favorite camera. Once she returned to the cage she snapped three shots. Snickering, she then rapped something against the bars of the cage.
Harry woke with a start, careful not to jostle the lions.
"Rise and shine sleepyhead!" said Cathy with a smirk.
That was when he spotted the camera.
Her smirk widened.
Harry felt like hitting himself. He would join up with a circus that held mischievous knife throwing girls!
He carefully made his way out of the cage, avoiding the large paw that moved to block him. Seeing the half open eye he knew the lioness did that deliberately. He grinned at her.
"What time is it?"
Harry gave her an incredulous look. His shift didn't start until 8:00 at the earliest.
"Then why did you wake me up?"
"So they wouldn't find out that you copied Trowa's little tendency to sleep with the lions."
"Wait, Trowa sleeps in the lion cage too?"
"He's been caught at it at least five times that we know of. Nearly gave the ringmaster a heart attack the first two times."
Harry laughed as he went to get the cat's breakfast. It was one of his endearing traits. He always fed the animals before he considered eating himself. Cathy helped him feed the animals while she was there. Her way of repaying him for waking him up so early.
"So what are you reading, Harry?"
"I asked my favorite uncle what he would recommend for my tests. He gave me some good books."
"I think it's great that you try to keep up with your schooling while you work with us."
"Best option I have to kill time. Technically I could live on my own, but I'm not old enough to do it."
"What do you mean technically?"
"My dad was loaded with cash. The only problem is that there's an age limit on when I can inherit the full amount. So I figured the circus was the next best thing to getting out on my own."
"You could do worse than the circus," admitted Cathy.
(She had wondered how he got those snakes and the permits needed to own them...)
They were on the colonies. A week ago Harry had sent off a letter to the Ministry to change his schooling status. Once he got a reply back, he tried not to cheer.
Officially he was labeled as a home-schooled student. He would have to floo into the Ministry to take his practical OWL exam, but so long as he managed to pass the written OWL test, they didn't care what he did. His main issue would be the Statute of Secrecy, which had a large loophole for home-schooled wizards and witches.
(In short, so long as he didn't break it, he could use magic outside school.)