Harry had never given much thought to the significance of names. He'd never considered how different his life could have been for the simple shifts of being accepted into the fold of 'Dursley', rather than cast aside as the much sharper 'Potter'.
Potter had an edge, like bones and ribs jutting out for hollow cheeks, in contrast to the rolling roundness of the former names.
Names encompassed identity in a fluid, slippery way and maybe, just maybe, if he was Harry Dursley instead of Harry Potter...
In the end, it didn't matter.
His parents had gone missing, presumed dead, when he was only young. His Aunt and Uncle claimed drunk driving as the cause, and, after eleven years, Harry was almost inclined to believe them.
He'd been passed over to the Dursleys for care, but never been a Dursley, and so life had formed in a split between two names and an empty car stalled out next to an abandoned building.
Now - now he stared because magic didn't exist and yet the Dursleys turned into pigs as they gorged themselves on food that he had been denied.
It was Dudley's birthday. They'd been on their way back from the zoo, he himself disgraced, when they'd heard the cheerful strains of fairground music. Dudley, of course, had immediately wanted to go, and his parents, on the aftermath of a ruined reptile house, had indulged him.
Harry felt torn between horror as they morphed, and the bitter sense that justice had somehow been served. It smudged quickly to fear as the night began to fall, along with the heavy realization that if the Dursleys were pigs, he was free with nowhere to go and no family to speak of.
His mouth drained dry, as he started to run, feet slapping against the cobbled streets and the grass and - water.
They'd crossed a small river to reach the fair, or the circus, or whatever it was, but now the bridge was drowned. There was no way back.
In the distance, instead, Harry could see creatures - creatures with bone white faces of mask, and dark swathes of spectral bodies.
He didn't know what they would do to him if they saw him, if they found him, but he couldn't imagine it being anything good.
Everything ground to a halt, but the thudding of his heart in his ears.
People ate pigs, didn't they? So what would they do to the freaks too rotten for even meat?
Harry wetted his lips, slowly backed away and...what was happening to his hands?
They were turning paler, to wisps of memory instead of flesh. Maybe if he squeezed his eyes shut he'd be back in the cupboard, with normality and the gnawing hunger in his belly.
He swallowed thickly.
The Dursleys had always been pigs at heart, and he'd always been invisible.
Maybe he was dead and history repeated itself with a car that never reached its destination.
He would fade away...away and away until he wasn't even an eleven year old freak, just nothing.
Bile clawed up his throat, and he nearly jumped out of his vanishing skin when a hand clamped down on his shoulder.
They'd come to eat him! Harry reared back from the bushes he'd been hiding in, on the outskirts of the area, his mind swirling with a terrified confusion.
There was a boy, dark haired and dark eyed, perhaps a few years older than himself. Harry stared, frozen, and the boy gazed back with eyes like broken glass.
The hand on his shoulder slowly slipped down to his knee. His visible knee.
"You...you can see me?" Harry asked, voice barely above a whisper. The boy nodded.
"Don't be afraid. Come with me. Before the Death Eaters see you."
Death Eaters? What were Death Eaters?
"You can't help them now. Shut up and eat this. It will tether you."
"What do you mean tether-?"
An apple was shoved into his mouth, and Harry swallowed it automatically. It was like ash on his tongue, not quite real, but so shiny and red. Despite the foul taste, he instantly felt more solid, and the next bite tasted better and better.
The boy gave him a bright smile, put a finger to his lips to indicate silence, and dragged him along by his hand.
Harry's head spun with questions. He was pulled to the ground once more.
"What's your name?" the boy asked.
"Harry," he replied. "Harry Potter. Are you-"
"-Okay, Harry. Listen to me very carefully," the other interrupted. "Go to Voldemort, he's in charge of this place, and ask for a job. Voldemort doesn't like useless things of people. You have to earn your keep. Don't let him turn you away. If you want to survive here, you'll need a job."
"What's here? Where am I?" Harry demanded, his throat bobbing, shoulders hunched. He could hear urgent shouts, screams of intruder as they called for someone called 'Knight'. He had an awful feeling that he was the intruder.
The boy pressed a hand over his mouth.
"Get a job from Voldemort," he repeated. "And don't tell anyone else your name, understood? I'll buy you some time. Find Hart, or Cale, they'll help you."
The other waited for a nod, before disappearing, soon surrounded by beings. The Knight found.
Harry steeled himself, and ran.
Harry couldn't believe his eyes. He caught sorts of strange things in different tents, where before the fair had seemed phantom and empty much to Dudley's disappointments.
A great hulking giant of a man stood over the food stall the Dursleys had been turned to pigs at, roasting great carcasses on a spit. There were what looked like Illusionists, Contortionists, Fortune Tellers and Acrobats - everything Harry could ever have dreamed off stuck in the grey four walls of the Dursley's home.
He darted through them all, his heart hammering.
The Death Eaters moved amongst the crowds, at the stalls, along with all sorts of other creatures and beings that didn't look quite human.
His heart hammered.
He raced through the streets, around winding tents, keeping to the shadows and not sure how anything worked. From what little he saw, the insides of the tents were far bigger than their exteriors suggested, caverning to rooms and tunnels below which twisted into the earth with the hum of great machines.
He could feel himself becoming increasingly panicked, though he tried to stay calm, and he was small enough to slip around unnoticed but the Death Eaters scared him. He wanted the older boy to come back, with his reassuring knowledge of the place.
Harry kept his aims in his head, the apple still clutched tightly in his hand.
Everything he'd seen swum in his head.
He concentrated on keeping his breathing even, to do what he'd been told to do. Then he'd be safe, surely? And he could figure out what was happening then.
He hurtled into the Illusionist's tent, only to smash straight into a tall, brown haired man with glasses. At least, Harry assumed he was a man. He really wasn't sure anymore. He looked startlingly familiar, though Harry couldn't think why.
He fell to the ground with the wind promptly knocked out of his chest, as the other stared down.
"I-I - are you Hart?" His voice wavered a little despite his best efforts to keep it even.
"Yeah." The man eyed him warily, before reaching down a hand to haul him up by his shirt. "Who are you, kid? I haven't seen you around here before."
"I'm H-" he stopped. The boy said not to give his name out. "My name is Henry, sir. I-I was told that you could help me. I need...I need to get a job. To see Voldemort."
For a second, it seemed like things were rushing towards him, about to swallow him whole, before a man stepped up to him.
The other's eyes narrowed a little, considering him.
"Who sent you?"
"I-I don't know his name." He didn't know if he was supposed to say anything, and he didn't even know the boy's name. "He said I should find you, and you'd help me with Voldemort."
"You reek of muggle."
Harry stared, uncomprehending. The man studied him closely for a moment longer, before nodding, beckoning for him to come in.
"I have a show in ten minutes, so you'll have to be quick. Here, put this on. You look like me, so I'll tell everyone you're my nephew. Outsiders aren't welcome here, especially not from the mundane world. Come on, the Palace is just this way. The big tent."
Harry felt himself relax a bit.
The Big Tent was grander than anything he could have expected, far larger inside than even the bulbous tent top would suggest where it towered among layers of tents and towers.
Harry swallowed nervously, glanced to Hart next to him. The man clapped a hand on his arm, reassuringly.
"Just...just be polite, kid. And don't let him turn you away. Prove you're worth keeping alive."
Harry's eyes widened at that.
What would happen if he wasn't worthy? Would he be turned invisible? Or into a pig?
He squared his shoulders as the other ushered him forwards, keeping him close.
There were lots of locked doors, and rows of mirrors in which he caught things in the corners of his eyes, but thought he must have imagined.
He found himself breathing unsteadily again.
He'd heard whispers of Voldemort - the Lord - ever since he'd started to come and visit him. He'd heard nothing of the other boy, and didn't know how to ask though he was curious as to his saviour.
He'd seen some of the 'Death Eaters' buying meat at Hagrid's stall, and really hoped that wasn't his Aunt, Uncle and Cousin.
Finally, however, Hart stepped back and left him to walk alone with a murmured 'Good luck, go get 'em.'
Harry forced his jelly legs to keep walking through the corridor, one step after another, so he didn't faint or walk back. He wouldn't do that. He had to do this. He had no place to be afraid.
Finally, he reached a large door, entwined with snakes. They had gleaming gold, scarlet and emerald eyes, which Harry could have suspiciously sworn were following his movements. He could hear them hissing, whispering things at him, between themselves.
This whole place was...was crazy. Not normal.
He knocked tentatively, entered.
Voldemort was pale, tall and skeletal, with eyes like the snakes outside, burning like the coldest flame. No nose, barely any lips.
Harry felt his breath catch in his throat, and he had to swallow so he didn't speak in a squeak. He'd never seen anything like it, but he jutted his chin up for an illusion of confidence.
"I want a job."
The creature didn't even look up from its desk.
"I want a job," he said, louder. "Please."
"And what makes you think you're worth a job?" the voice was high and cold, and sunk into Harry's bone like some half-remembered nightmare.
Harry opened his mouth and - froze. He was nothing special. He didn't see why anyone would give a freak a job, a chance. The silence stretched.
"Guards! Who let this brat in-"
"-I can cook. And clean!" Harry near shouted, before forcing his voice quieter. "Whatever you need. I'm willing to do anything. Any job. There has to be something."
Harry could feel himself beginning to panic again, but he pressed on.
"Give me a job. Sir. I want a job. I'm not - I won't leave until you give me one."
Those terrible eyes finally swung up to pierce him, and Harry felt like he could have been shoved by the intensity of it. They were like blood. He held his ground, stared back.
"You smell of muggle."
Harry didn't know what to say to that. He didn't even know what a muggle was!
"Perhaps, if you gave the child a chance to prove himself..." came another, soft voice. Harry's eyes widened, and his head snapped round and - the boy was there! Harry stared at him hopefully, happy for a familiar face, brow furrowing when all he received was ice in return.
The smile from earlier was gone. It was like they could be different people. The boy's face was blank.
Voldemort glanced at him.
"You wish to take responsibility for him, Knight?"
The boy - Knight - gave a nod.
"He can help out around the place. If it turns out he isn't good enough, it's easy enough to get rid of him and feed him to the pigs. His hands look used to work though."
Voldemort's eyes narrowed slightly, as he looked between them, before waving a dismissive hand.
"He looks weak, but if you think you can make something of him, be my guest. I expect him not to bother me. If he does..."
"I won't!" Harry said. "You won't regret it."
"Sign here, for your contract," Voldemort intoned, already turning back to his work.
Harry swallowed, before grabbing the pen from the air and writing his name.
The next second, there was a blinding pain in his arm, and everything went black.
A/N: So, this is based on Spirited Away, if you know the story. If not, well, things will be explained as you go along even if it currently feels utterly confusing. I'm currently away on holiday, so limited internet access and lots of writing time, so yeah. Hope you like it :) And god, reading the Hunger Games for the first time (I know, I know, I'm late on the Bandwagon, don't spoil me more than I'm already spoiled, so now I'm so tempted to write Harry and Tom in the Hunger Games haha.)) Title subject to change. This shouldn't be too long, I promise! I just think it would be too long for a oneshot, so I'll do it in installments. For one of my tumblr prompts, just ignore me writing a million things at once. It's fun and light hearted on holiday, because unlike Butterfly Heart it doesn't require insane levels of research, or reference like my other stories.