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"RAT!" screamed Draco Malfoy. He looked faintly exhausted but gasping for air. His blond hair was slightly disheveled, his black and green robes oddly rumpled and pink spots touching his cheeks. Severus looked to Potter who was looking at Draco with a much more relaxed look on his face as opposed as of a few minutes ago when he shaking violently, telling Severus the gruesome details of how he got the scar around his neck.
Oh but he has so many more, a voice inside Severus' head spoke.
"Draco," his father, Lucius Malfoy, came up from behind Draco, his face the image of pureblood nobility. "Don't run in your godfather's house."
Draco seemed to ignore his father's words, walking up to Potter. "Do you know how worried I was? Eh? I thought you finally were caught by one of the shop keepers and given over to the Ministry of Magic to be trialed for theft!" he shouted. Potter only gave Draco a small chuckle much to the pale boy's anger.
"Nice to see you too Drake." He said.
"Draco," both Severus and Lucius interrupted the two in unison but Lucius continued. "I presume you are an acquaintance of Mister Potter?"
"Unfortunately," Draco grumbled. "You and I are going to have a talk – a very long and very important talk."
Potter pouted. He faced a bewildered Lucius and Severus. There was a long silence pause filling the library. Potter now seemed to be giving Draco side glances using facial expressions to talk to him. Lucius eyed the two curiously with Severus. So Potter knew Malfoy. This was interesting.
"Hello Mister Potter," Lucius walked up to the boy, extending his hand. "I am Lucius Malfoy. It seems you've already met my son Draco."
Pottter shook his hand. "Nice to meet you, sir. I … heard a lot about you"
"Uncle Sev'," Draco piped up. Potter gave a questionable look to 'Uncle Sev''. "Can Rat and I go outside?"
Reluctantly, Severus nodded.
"Thanks Uncle Sev'!" Draco jumped, seizing Potter's hand who at the last minute grabbed a book tucking it under his arm before being dragged out of the library by the younger Malfoy.
"So how have you been Severus?" Lucius turned to Severus.
"Recently, very busy avoiding Potter." Severus answered.
Lucius placed both hands on his cane. "That's nice. I'm guessing Mister Potter is why Draco has been less prejudiced and brattish than usual."
"I wouldn't know. Potter never said anything about his friends." Severus scoffed, mildly angry and surprised.
. . . .
Rat on a stone stair step from the glass doors leading to the Prince Mansion garden, taking in the sun, while Drake leaned on the railing, his arms crossed and glaring at him, his mouth set on a thin line. He was used to glares from his relatives (a pang from his neck) and from the people on the streets. The book The Gildeman's Compendium of Healing Potions was open on his lap. The gardens looked strangely familiar to the Versailles Gardens in France but smaller.
Rat broke the ice. "Drake …"
"You're Harry Potter." Drake gritted out, still glaring.
"You didn't think to tell me?"
"I didn't know Drake honest. Even I'm surprised. If I knew, I would've told you. You know that." Rat told him, ignoring the red on his cheeks.
Drake sighed loudly, sitting beside Rat. "Do you have the scar?"
"The one on your forehead nimrod." Drake looked to the part of Rat's hair, covered by his black scruffy hair. Rat did have a scar there. He pulled up his hair to reveal a lightning bolt shaped scar on his forehead. Rat always thought the scar to be cool like his tattoos but always kept it covered up. People could've recognized the Diagon Alley Outlaw with that.
"I know," Rat looked down to the potions book in front of him, pulling out his glasses from his pocket to read the page. "The simple thief Rat is in fact Harry bloody Potter."
Drake only remained silent, looking out to the garden. Drake was Rat's friend since he was nine. Rat was lucky to have made friends with Drake when he did. Otherwise he would've died if Drake didn't give his coat to Rat.
"I guess I should call you Harry now."
"And I guess I should call you Draco."
"Finally!" Draco exclaimed. "You're finally dropping that ridiculous nickname! It sounds way too Muggle for my liking!"
"Or I could call you Ferret." Rat smirked. Remembering the hilarious incident a few months ago involving the back of Magical Menagerie, ferrets and Draco and Rat innocently wandering around.
"Or I could call you Snotter." The boy beside him laughed.
"How did you even get here? I mean did Dumble-dork find you or something of the kind?"
Rat took in a breath, looking up to the white creamy clouds above him. "Well …I stole Snape's things. Next thing I knew he was chasing me through Knockturn Alley. While I was running on the rooftops, he tripped with some kind of jinx. Broke a couple of my bones. Then he realized that I was Harry Potter and took me to Hogwarts. You can fill in the rest."
"That's very peculiar. Did Warry Wotter cry like an ickle baby?" Draco mocked.
"No but Warry Wotter can still break your nose with one clean punch."
Draco placed a hand over his heart. "Oh you're so violent!" Rat lightly punched him on the shoulder, giggling. Draco ruffled Rat's hair in a fit of giggles.
. . . .
Severus and Lucius both sat in his study on the green velvet chair near the fireplace, glasses of fire whiskey, courtesy of Severus' house elf Bobbin. Severus rested his chin on his hand which was propped on the arm, while Lucius swirled the ice in his fire whiskey.
"Looking after the Potter boy, have you?" the corner of Lucius' mouth tweaked upwards.
"Dumbledore's orders." Severus took a sip of his glass.
"Never liked the old fool. Refused my request to remove the original copy of Beedle the Bard with the new better edition," He sneered in disgust. Lucius Malfoy was one of the most blood prejudiced people that Severus had ever met. "Has he been a handful?"
"Amazingly, the boy hasn't been a handful. All he needs is to be fed and cleaned. Spends all day in the library, reading what-not."
"Draco mostly spends all day in Diagon Alley –for reasons that have been revealed- or with his mother."
"I presume you read today's Daily Prophet?"
"Ah yes. Harry Potter nothing more than common filth. I laughed uncontrollably. Ah, Draco's face was very surprising. He was actually more shocked than amused. He then of course wanted to pay his dear Uncle Sev' a visit," he took a gulp of his fire whiskey. Lucius always gotten a bit looser after a few fire whiskeys. "Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived is Rat, the Diagon Alley Outlaw! Oh how the mighty have fallen!"
"He only did what he had to survive. Something I believe you understand." Severus cut in, feeling enraged and all because of Potter. Did Severus care for the boy? The boy had obviously some kind of trust in the Potions Master. He would've have told Severus about his neck scar if he didn't.
"A filthy little Rat!" Lucius laughed again, throwing his head back, fire whiskey dropping out of his hand. Severus could hear the blood rushing to his ear.
"ENOUGH!" he roared, snarling to Lucius, umping off his chair. The glass he had been holding was plunked angrily on the table beside him. He could crucio the bastard as he sat.
Lucius turned somber and much more serious. "So you care about the boy. No idea why though."
"Lucius …" Severus growled. "I wouldn't appreciate it if you didn't insult my guest here. As I remember, this is my house. And I do not care about Potter."
Lucius only gave Severus an unbelieving smirk. "Oh time to find the children." He set the glass on the table, grabbing his cane and moving towards the study door, leaving Severus seething with anger behind. Lucius closed the door behind him softly. Severus stood there, his teeth bare, his black coal eyes livid, hands clenched. His eyes went to the fire whiskey bottle next to the glass with the liquid shaking in it. He grabbed the fire whiskey bottle with his long skinny fingers, drinking from the top. A few drop escaped the lid.
Severus threw the bottle on the ground violently. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. He had no idea why though but he felt so angry when Lucius insulted Harry like that.
He grudgingly left the study, walking to the Great Hall to see Lucius talking to Draco, a frustrated look in his face. The boy, Potter, was not present.
"Lucius, Draco," he walked up to the two. "Where's Potter?"
"Slimy Rat's hiding!" Draco groaned. "We were playing Hide 'n' Seek. But Harry's really good in stealth and hiding. Seeing the size of this place and Harry's hiding skills, you can see my problem."
"So you're unable to find Potter?" Severus folded his arm, looking at Draco like he did with many of his students.
"Yes Uncle Sev'. Sorry." Draco looked down.
"Lucius, this may be trivial but we could use a hand finding the boy." Severus turned to Lucius.
"I don't see why not. He can't be that hard to find." Lucius said.
But then two hours later, Lucius ate his words. The three had already circled the mansion more than ten times, checking every nook and cranny, looking in some of the secret passageways and rooms but still unable to find Potter. Severus and Lily during their time as children were exceptional at this Muggle game but Potter had taken it to a whole new level but staying hidden for two hours – it only took both Lily and Severus to be found thirty minutes, tops.
"Where is that brat?!" Lucius screeched in frustration, looking through the many shelves of the library with Severus and Draco.
"Remind me to never play Hide 'n' Seek with Harry ever again." Draco said to no one in particular.
"Will do," Severus checked the back section. "Potter, we all give up – oh don't give that look Lucius, we can't find him!" he yelled to Lucius scowling glare.
"Okie-dokie." a voice called out from the space in the library. It was followed by a thud. Severus turned behind him, spinning on his heels, seeing Potter looking up to him through his glasses, his copy of healing potions clutched in his arms.
"Where were you?" Lucius glowered at the boy.
"Hiding." He shrugged.
"Yes well, you made it very difficult to find you- ("Which we never did." Added Draco) -and we are all very tired." Severus told Potter.
"Sorry sir. You right Drake?"
"It's Draco! And yes, I am alright." As soon as he said that, his stomach growled. A light shade of pink reached his cheeks.
"A bit, yes. I am a bit peckish."
"You and your posh language." Potter snorted.
"You and your dirty mouth." Draco retorted.
"Children," Severus silenced them. "I'll get Bobbin to prepare us something. You all can wait tin the drawing room. I trust you two not to hex each other."
"Yes sir." Potter nodded.
"Whatever." Draco rolled his eyes.
. . . .
Lucius and Draco had left finally at one pm. Potter and Draco got along like old friends, Draco was the one who did all the talking while Potter just listened, putting in an odd comment here and there. Potter had helped Bobbin who allowed him to, to carry the plates and cups to the kitchens. Severus retreated to his study, taking care of the bottle he smashed to the ground.
He didn't see Potter for the rest of the evening.
Time dragged on until late night at two am. Severus had stayed up most of the night. Feeling a bit hungry, he ventured to the kitchen to get himself a bottle of vodka or whatever he get his hands on. The mansion at night could be a bit frightening … to children. Potter was probably in his bedroom, sleeping peacefully.
Or at least he thought.
"Can't sleep sir?" Potter came out of nowhere, arms on the counter, in his nightclothes. There was a glass of steaming coffee in front of him along with another book. Severus wasn't expecting the boy though. He jumped where he was then glaring at the boy. There was no light, just the moonlight streaming through the window, illuminating the boy's face.
"Sorry sir. Didn't mean to frighten you." The boy apologized.
"What are you doing out of bed?" Severus took a seat across Potter on the counter.
"Couldn't sleep." The boy ran a hand through his hair. However this was a lie. But Severus was too tired to care at all. Severus, with his wand, lit the candle chandelier. The brightness seemed to make the boy cringe. This boy had been spending too long in the dark.
"I see your friends with Draco," Severus moved off the stool, moving towards the kettle in the corner next to the Muggle coffee cans. "Care to tell how that happened?"
"I-uh- it's kind of a boring story. Wouldn't really interest you, sir." Severus pressed the on button on the kettle after placing three teaspoons of instant coffee powder in a painted blue mug.
"Potter…" he looked to the boy who looked at his cup with a resigned expression. "Potter, trust me. I shall not tell anyone."
The boy looked up to him, green eyes lighting up with something new, something that Severus had rarely seen. Hope. But that soon washed out by weariness and age beyond the boy's years. The boy let out a sigh.
"I was 'bout nine. It was winter in Diagon Alley, had no protection against the cold. I was starving and freezing. But I still had to move. One day, I was walking in Knockturn Alley by using the rooftops. I found Drake near Borgin and Bourkes in the alley about to touch some cursed chair thrown out by the owner. He was just about to touch it when I pulled him back. Then he went harking about how I should've treated much gentler saving his bony ass-"
"Language!" Severus snapped.
"Turns out Drake had an argument with his father how he could survive on his own. Children like Drake that time thought they could be 'big boys' living without parents when actually they weren't. Growing up without a family is one of the worse ways you can grow up. I thought I had a family for a while but then I realized I was being a burden to them," Potter looked gloomy saying the last sentence saying much quieter. He looked to the tattoo on his wrist, taking in a few calming breaths before continuing. "We stayed together for a few hours after that. He was mostly being a prat, going on and on 'bout his in luxury. Then he said some things about how vermin, rats like me should be looked down upon. I kinda snapped at him…"
Rat's fist connected with that selfish asshole of a child's face. The force in that punch was so strong that the brat fell backwards, falling on his ass to the ground. Rat's face was a face of pure rage and fury like an avenging angel from Heaven … or a demon rising from Hell for revenge. He was frail and bony, his cheeks hollow, his lips cracked from lack of moisture and eyes blood-shot from lack of sleep.
"Listen here!" Rat shouted to the blond albino. The brat let out a whimper, about to give some quick witted insult before Rat stepped forward making the brat shake. "You have no effing idea how lucky you are! What I would give to have you have right now! NO BLOODY IDEA! HERE I AM FREEZING TO DEATH, HUNGRY WHILE YOU'RE GOING ON AND ON ABOUT SOME COCK AND BULL I DON'T GIVE A FAG ABOUT! DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG I HAVEN'T HAD A PROPER MEAL?"
The boy only shook his head.
"Thought so," Rat snarled. Rat let himself boil in silence, releasing his anger quietly. His face soon softened, relaxed. His fist unclenched as he knelt forwards to the boy. The boy shuffled backwards but Rat placed a light hand on his chest to stop him. "Look mate you have a good thing going for you. A bright future, a home, food …parents. Don't give it away because of some silly fight you had with your dad, no matter how wrong he is."
"Is living by yourself that hard?" the boy spoke in soft voice.
"Yep," Rat popped the 'p'. Rat moved his hand off of his the boy's chest, giving it out for the blond to take. "You might wanna get off the ground. It's cold. Trust me, it's not fun sleeping there."
The boy took his hand, getting up. "I-I guess I am wrong. I mean I thought things just came-"
"Easy? Hell no." Rat grimly chuckled. That was when the coldness got the better of Rat. He was just so cold and hungry that he collapsed in front of the blond.
"Drake gave me his coat. He had a pouch full of galleons in his pocket so he got a few sweets to get me through. I might've died if it wasn't for him." Potter finished the corners of his mouth curling in the memory.
"And so that was so the Prince of Malfoy befriended the Diagon Alley Outlaw?"
"Yep. Winter was easier to deal through after that; hard but easier. We started hanging more often and…you can fill in the rest. But if you're wondering about showing him anything not appropriate other than my swearing, I swear to Merlin, I haven't."
"I believe you." Severus said curtly, drinking the contents of his coffee mug. Severus might've congratulated on the boy's hard tale of life. If it was Severus himself, he might've not survived through what the boy had been through.
"You do?" the boy looked quizzically at him.
"Are you deaf?" snarled Severus.
"Good then. Thank you for telling me that."
"You're-um-welcome. Hey, what time is it?" Potter glanced up to the clock in the kitchen. It was two-forty-five in the morning.
"Is it already? Potter, aren't you tired?"
"No sir." The boy shook his head sleepily.
"Well go your room anyway." Severus ordered the boy. The boy gave a look of protest, opening and closing his mouth several times before creeping off to the west wing of Prince Mansion.
The boy was not James Potter. He was Harry Potter, survivor extraordinaire and most definitely the Boy Who Lived. Harry Potter was quite unlike other children.
Thanks for the reviews! Whew 33 reviews! Keep up the good work! I do know I have some grammatical errors but please bear with me.