This was written in response to yet another HPFC challenge: the Crossover Boot Camp Challenge, the details of which have been added below.
Harry darted behind the corner of the nearest building and flattened himself against the wall. He could hear Dudley and his gang as they called for him over the general noise of the school grounds.
"Hey freak," his cousin shouted, to the sniggers and giggles of his friends. "Come on out."
Harry shook his head unconsciously to Dudley's request. There was no way that he'd let his cousin catch him. If he did, the gang would make him Dudley's punching bag until either the end of lunch or a teacher came, whichever came first. Then Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon would hear about his cousin's version of what happened and he'd be in trouble for it. And it wasn't even his fault!
Dudley called out for him again, this time from somewhere close by. Harry's hands shook slightly as he edged his way further from the sound. They'd already begun to chase him as soon as break started. He was tired from his mad dash from somewhere to hide and wait it out; Harry didn't know how much longer he could hold out. Even though he knew that his cousin would still catch him later, at least he could prevent it from happening for a little while longer.
As always, though, his luck eventually ran out. Harry jumped as triumphant shouts came from around the corner, and before the group could grab him, he ran for it. He was sure that one of his peers ratted out on him about where he was, and now it would be even more difficult to shake those boys off. As he rounded the next corner and between two buildings, the group's jeering grew louder; he didn't even have to look to know that they had seen him.
Unfortunately for Harry, his blind dash for safety found him at a dead end. He stood there for a moment, blankly staring at a tall wooden fence that barred the only way ahead. A cluster of dumpsters and garbage cans lined the wall of the building to his left. They appeared to be high enough for him to escape for a short period of time, until one of them managed to climb up there with him.
By this point Dudley had caught up and his little gang rallied behind him, the lot of them grinning like fools. Harry turned to face them for a brief second before bolting over to the nearest dumpster and clutching the edge, Dudley hot on his heels. It was surprising how fast his cousin could be when he wanted to, especially considering his size. He was usually badly winded after such exertions, so Harry figured he'd be safe enough after Dudley's energy ran out.
He swung himself onto the lid as Dudley stopped dead in front of his goons, barring their way to him. He was really grateful for the enclosed space around them at that moment, since it gave him the perfect chance to clear the top of the dumpster and scramble over to the wall.
Dudley wheezed as Piers Polkins jumped up onto the bin and lunged at Harry. He let out a startled cry and darted backwards to stay out of reach. He miscalculated his steps and careened over the other side of the dumpster, landing on the ground with a thud. The impact drove the air from his lungs and left him feeling dizzy and disoriented. As the world around him darkened, Harry desperately hoped to get as far away from the group as he could. He could still hear Dudley's wheezing and the gang's laughter as they closed in on him.
Harry groaned when he sat up too quickly, his head still spinning as he blearily considered his situation. After inspecting them carefully, he considered himself lucky that his glasses hadn't broken from his fall, and apart from that, Harry didn't feel any worse off than he had before he woke up. Aunt Petunia would have a fit if his glasses were broken, and it would be worse if that gang had beaten him up while he was asleep. She'd punish him for starting a fight, and of course Dudley would tell her that it was his fault. It was strange: Harry's cousin and the other boys were nowhere in sight; he couldn't hear anyone either.
At first glance, he thought that he was still lying next to the dumpsters in between the main office and the school's library. The dumpsters were missing, though. They'd been replaced by a couple of small metal garbage cans that lined a much higher wooden fence, the cans gleaming in the afternoon light. Well, at least he thought it was still afternoon. How long had he been out? Harry wasn't sure, but if it had been longer than a few minutes, he knew that his aunt and uncle would be hearing about it fairly soon. After that, they'd be sure to send him to his cupboard again. He shuddered slightly. He really hated that cupboard.
Harry stood up and had to stagger back to lean against the brick wall behind him. His head spun again and he briefly saw spots. Maybe he should sit down again; Harry didn't want to injure himself further, especially in an unknown place where anything could happen. Who knows what kinds of people hung around here.
Where was he? It wasn't like Dudley to drag him to some random spot and just leave him there. Sure, it would get Harry into trouble later, but it was too much effort for his cousin to even be bothered doing. Did someone see them earlier? It would explain why Dudley's gang wasn't there, but why was he alone? Harry was tired, lost and confused, and he was still sore from his fall. If he stayed where he was, would someone find him and help him out? Would they even want to? Harry hoped so; otherwise he would have to risk wandering around himself to get directions.
Harry's head throbbed again. He rested it against the bricks and tried to ignore the dull pain. He was so tired all of a sudden. Maybe it would be okay if he closed his eyes, just for a little while…
"Yes sir, I'll report back shortly. Bye." Lt Colonel Hughes placed the receiver back on its cradle and exited the phone booth, sliding the door shut behind him. He was only a few blocks away from headquarters to wander around and clear his head, had been out for maybe ten to fifteen minutes tops, and they had some private come over to tell him to return. It hadn't even been that long yet, although he understood the sense of urgency. Perhaps they found another clue as to who this serial killer was that had all those State Alchemists so wary…
Maes crossed the street and made his way towards the next intersection, lost in thought. He knew that he'd be in for a long afternoon as soon as he stepped into his temporary office. Who knew that his recent promotion could involve so much work? Maybe he should drop by Roy's office later, if only to see the shock on his friend's face. That always cheered him up whenever he was bogged down with files and paperwork. Maes had a new stack of pictures to show the colonel of his family and he smiled to himself at the thought. He took great pleasure in annoying Roy; his reactions were so predictable when he got all wound up.
He was pulled out of his musings when he heard a loud bang from further down the road, along one of the alleyways that lined the streets. It sounded suspiciously like gunfire. Headquarters was still at least ten minutes away on foot, and the phone booth a block back the way he came. If the situation was serious, it would be difficult to gather backup, which wasn't so reassuring if these people were hostile.
Maes reached down to the holster at his belt. Although he preferred his throwing knives, it was still good to at least have a plan b if he ran out. The reassuring feel of the gun set him at ease somewhat as he neared the alleyway, taking slow and deliberate steps so as not to alert them to his presence. When he reached the corner and peered around it, he was surprised to find nothing out of the ordinary. There were no gangs or guns, and no one was hurt either. The only person in the alleyway was slumped against the wall, completely out cold.
Maes blinked. It was a kid who was probably not much older than his daughter. He'd have pinned them at somewhere around eight or nine, at best. With the way that they had positioned themselves, Maes couldn't tell that much about the child's features, apart from them having messy dark hair that fell into their eyes. What was a child doing out here all alone, especially when they were that young? He sighed. May as well see to the kid's safety; it was dangerous out here, especially with all the rumors circulating around.
He approached the child carefully, not wanting to startle the poor thing. As he knelt down to the kid's level, Maes reached out to give the young boy's shoulder a gentle shake.
"Hey, kid," he murmured softly. "Wake up. It's not safe for you out here."
The child shifted and Maes drew back for a moment, but when the boy didn't wake he tried it again, a little more firmly. After the third time he heard the child give a low groan and Maes gave him space to sit up. The kid rubbed his eyes as he lifted his head, reaching under circular frames. Maes hadn't even realized that he wore glasses…
"Wha…?" The child mumbled groggily, leaning back on the bricks again.
Maes leaned forward again and tapped his shoulder. "Come on, kid," he muttered. The child jumped and hit his head against the wall and Maes winced. The sound that made didn't seem too good, and when the child finally blinked his eyes open, he was startled by how vividly green they were. It passed pretty quickly when he recognized the glazed look on the child's face. The poor kid had a concussion, although he wasn't sure what had caused it. The slow response made a little more sense now, and he was glad to have stumbled upon him when he had. Who knows what might have happened to the kid if he hadn't?
The child's eyes took a few moments to focus and Maes sat patiently to give him a chance to reorient himself. When that happened, the child jumped back again, this time to the side further away from him. He held his hands up in what the kid would hopefully see as a peaceful gesture.
"Easy there, kid," he said, slowly reaching out to try and help him regain his balance. That stagger backward had nearly knocked the child over. "You took a pretty hard hit to the head, there." The child seemed to relax at his words, although he still appeared to be a bit wary. Maes could sympathize with that, he didn't think he'd do too well with a shock like that either. "I don't want you to hurt yourself any further than you already have."
The kid swayed slightly as he attempted to stand. "Okay."
Maes rushed forward to catch him in case he fell. "Careful," he warned, but the child flinched away from him, leaving him confused. The child watched Maes closely, as if he was going to attack at any moment. What made the kid act that way? He was perplexed, but he didn't bring it up.
When nothing appeared to change, the child relaxed a bit more. "Hey, are you alright?" Maes asked, just to be sure. He nodded and Maes sighed. "Look kid, it isn't safe here. Is there someone we can contact to come collect you? I can bring you back to headquarters to wait for them there. It'd be much safer."
The child hesitated as if debating something. "Are you a policeman?"
Maes blinked. Well, it was a pretty good question, although he was sure the uniform would answer it for him. He smiled wryly. "You could say that," he replied, holding out a hand. "I'm actually with the military, but I do stuff similar to what they would." The child seemed satisfied with this and returned the gesture. Maes smiled genuinely at that. "I'm Lt Colonel Maes Hughes," he offered, and shook the kid's hand.
I hope you guys don't mind the in-chapter POV change about halfway through. I wanted to set up this crossover with a good enough foundation for it all to make sense. At first, this was going to be part of my one-shot crossover series for the Crossover Boot Camp (HPFC, prompt # 21 - children), but the chapter practically wrote itself and I have several more ideas in this direction, so now it'll be an MC instead.
I've never written a Harry centered fic, so I'm not sure if I've done him justice. I'm also unsure about my Maes rendition, this being my first FMA fic. So any thoughts on how that worked out would be welcome.
Until next time, peace out!
(April 2014: I have edited this to remove the neutral pronouns so hopefully this is now easier to read.)