Harry's stomach was grumbling. He didn't know if it was dinner time yet, but he really wanted something to eat. He'd been sitting on his bed for what felt like hours thinking about things like that apple and the delicious tasting pumpkin juice. He'd also pondered matters such as what he was supposed to call his new guardian. He knew you weren't supposed to call adults by their first names, but Snape didn't sound right. He supposed he could call him Mr. Snape. But what if the man wanted to be called sir like Uncle Vernon? Dudley called Uncle Vernon 'Dad' though. This Mr. Snape wasn't his dad or his uncle. He guessed Sir would have to do since he hadn't been given a rule about it.
Harry stood up and went to the door. He stuck his head out the door and found the living room dark. That was strange. He'd been listening but hadn't heard the man leave the quarters. Maybe he'd gone out when Harry had used the bathroom. He walked carefully to the door leading out and opened it, pleased to find that the Dungeon corridors were well lit. Shutting the door quietly and making sure it latched, he walked to the end of the hall and tried to figure out which way to turn. Right, he decided, and was quickly faced with another choice twenty steps later. Harry turned corner after corner and felt lost rather quickly. It was probably twenty minutes before he finally found his way to the stairs leading up to the Entrance Hall. Relief swept over him and he crossed it to the Great Hall, stomach rumbling again. It was dark, but torches lit as he entered. There was no one there. Last night there had been a few teachers there for dinner and Professor McGonagall had even eaten with him. Tonight there was no one though. He sat down at the same place he'd eaten his lunch and half hoped that the rest of his sandwich and the apple would re-appear, but they didn't. In fact, no food appeared at all.
"Can I have my apple?" Harry queried to the large empty room. The Headmaster had said that magical creatures called elves prepared the meals, so it couldn't hurt to try asking could it? If there were elves, they couldn't hear him. His stomach grumbled again and he stood up and moved down the table a little to another seat. When there was still no food he tried another seat, and then finally stood, giving up. What a disappointment. He'd waited too long, or maybe it had taken him longer to get out of the Dungeons than he'd thought. He went back to the Entrance Hall, hands in his pockets. It's ok, he thought to himself. You've gone without supper before. His stomach grumbled louder in protest at the thought though.
There was the sound of steps against stone and Harry turned to find Sir coming down the steps from the first floor.
"You are supposed to go back to my quarters after dinner," he said.
"Yes sir," Harry said.
"Don't dawdle. Follow me." At least he would be able to find his way back, Harry thought, hurrying along behind the long strides of Sir. Left left, right, left left, right. Third door. Harry tried to commit the path to memory and wondered if he could reverse it properly tomorrow at breakfast to find his way back. Right right, left, right right, left. Stairs. If only he had a pencil and paper.
"There is a toothbrush and toothpaste on the counter in the bathroom. They are yours. When you are finished with them, take them to your room and go to bed."
Harry brushed his teeth, glad that he had a new toothbrush. It was green transparent plastic and he rather liked it. His old one had been plain white and the bristles were all bent out of shape. This one felt nice against his gums and the toothpaste was minty instead of the plain stuff Aunt Petunia always gave him to use. Back in his room, Harry opened the wardrobe and set his toothpaste and toothbrush on the floor of it since he had no nightstand. Then he climbed into the bed. It was nicer than the one upstairs in the guest room he'd stayed in the last two nights. Tired and stomach still grumbling, he fell asleep, feeling like he was on a cloud. He had nightmares of riding a train by himself into a cave though, and meeting monsters inside. When he woke the next morning he knew the nightmares had been from hunger. He always dreamed of monsters when he went to bed hungry. Maybe it was from the growling noise his stomach made all night.
Harry felt miserable. His stomach felt hollow and empty. He got up and used the bathroom and brushed his teeth. Sir was gone and Harry left the quarters to go to breakfast, successfully navigating his way up through the castle this time. Bright light shone in from the windows in the Entrance Hall, and Harry frowned. The sun was up awfully high. The Great Hall was empty again when he got there and he sat down like the night before only to find that no food was being served. He hung his head and looked down at the empty table. If he had a watch, or a window which light could stream through to wake him up, he could make it to meals on time. Aunt Petunia always woke him at home to fix breakfast or get ready for school. He wondered if Sir knew he was supposed to do that. Maybe he didn't because he didn't have any kids.
After ten minutes, Sir strode into the Great Hall holding a stack of papers and a black folder thick with papers. He sat down across from Harry and sat ten or twelve sheets of paper and a pencil in front of him.
"That is an ever sharpening pencil. If it breaks you should not have to rise to sharpen it. It is used during tests. If you have questions about the test, you will ask me, but I will not give you answers to the test questions." Sir looked at his watch and then said, "You have one hour to complete the test. It contains things from the year you just completed and the year before that."
He began pulling papers out of his folder and produced a quill and ink bottle from somewhere within his robes and began writing something down. Harry wondered what he was writing as he looked at the first page of his test. It was maths. He tried to concentrate but his stomach really hurt and the more empty it felt, the less clearly he could think. The hour ticked on and Harry was only done with three of the twelve pages when Sir told him the time was up. He held out his hands for the test pages and Harry gathered them up and gave them to him.
"You only completed three pages."
Harry stared at the table.
"Did you have trouble reading the questions?"
Harry shook his head. Reading was the one thing he did well. He never went to recess because Dudley would beat him up if he did, so he spent his free time at school in the library in a back corner reading comic books and stories about superheroes and villains. Sometimes he read about things like machines and outer space and animals too. There was a library here but it didn't have comic books or books about the other things he liked to read about. Maybe the school Sir said he was going to go to would have better books.
"Very well Potter, follow me. I will grade this when we get back to the Dungeons."
Harry stood up and followed him, holding his stomach as they went. Aunt Petunia didn't usually make him skip so many meals in a row. Sometimes two and most of the time one, but three was pushing it. He'd passed out a couple of times while weeding the front garden and ever since then she'd always made sure he had one or two meals a day, and sometimes even a snack in his cupboard if he had to miss lunch or dinner.
Feet dragging, Harry followed him all the way back to the quarters and into the living room. Sir sat down at his desk and began marking the test up with a red pen and Harry stood there trying to wait patiently for him to finish. Before he was done though there was a thud and Harry wondered what had made the noise. His elbow smarted too and he wondered why. It wasn't until Sir turned from his spot at the desk and called his name that Harry realized that the thud was the sound of him hitting the floor and his elbow smarted because it had smacked the stone.
"Potter. Potter look at me."
Harry blinked hard several times and finally focused on Sir's face.
"I don't know."
"You were standing there and then you fell."
"I'm sorry sir. I think I was hungry."
"You just had breakfast two hours ago."
"I didn't get any."
Sir stared at him and Harry struggled to sit up, stomach hurting along with his elbow.
"You passed out," Sir finally said. He didn't sound happy. "Why did you not eat breakfast?"
"I-" Harry was confused. Why hadn't he eaten breakfast? "I think I missed it."
"You are aware of what time breakfast is. Why did you not get there earlier?"
"I don't have a watch," Harry said meekly, looking away. He felt stupid, like he should have been able to get himself to breakfast on time. "Aunt Petunia always wakes me in the morning." He normally didn't cry, but he was so hungry and he was upset that it was all his fault. Missing dinner was his fault as well. He wiped his arm across his eyes just to make sure there weren't any hot tears there to make him look childish.
"Missing one meal does not normally cause one to pass out."
Harry clamped his mouth closed, determined not to tell Sir that he'd been stupid and hadn't made it to dinner either.
"Potter, look at me." Harry looked up but he didn't want to. "I expect the truth. Was breakfast the only meal you missed?"
Harry shook his head and looked away again.
"You missed dinner as well." It wasn't a question.
"I got lost on the way to the Entrance Hall."
Before Harry knew what was happening, Sir had lifted him up from under the arms and given him a nudge towards the kitchen. He pointed to a chair at the plain wood table and Harry sat in it. He buried his face in his arms to hide his red cheeks. This was all he needed. To be embarrassed in front of his new guardian like this. He was nine not three! And now Sir was having to fix him a meal, though Harry was glad he was going to get to eat. In a matter of minutes Sir had set a ham and cheese sandwich down in front of Harry along with a glass of water and Harry was pleased to see an apple there with it. He went for the apple first and bit into it's delicious juicy flesh. His stomach felt good at first to get food into it, but started to hurt worse than it had before Harry had finished the apple and moved on to the sandwich. He slowed down and tried to get it all down, but couldn't. He was too full and felt bad that he couldn't eat it all. He really wanted to.
"You will have to re-take the test," Sir said when he was finished. "It is near impossible to concentrate on an empty stomach and the first test would not be an accurate tool to tell me what you need to study. Go lay down in your bed for half an hour first and then you will take the test again."
Harry rose, and then turned back and said, "Thank you sir," and went to his room. Severus leaned against the kitchen counter with his arms crossed. The boy had passed out because he'd missed meals. He'd missed meals on his watch. Dumbledore would have a fit if he knew. Why hadn't Potter said anything to him? Why hadn't he told him he didn't know how to get back to the Great Hall? Slytherins would have said something about being hungry, wouldn't they? The youngest Slytherins were 11 though, and Harry was only nine. Still, as a child Severus was certain he would have complained about missing a meal at nine years old. What was he doing wrong? He'd laid down rules for the child last night and was preparing to get him caught up academically. More than rules and academics, Severus reminded himself. He was sure Dumbledore had said something like that. Well what more was there? Food, Severus thought, that and the other necessities of life. What did a boy need to live then?
He went down the hall to the open bedroom door and looked in. Harry was lying on top of the covers with his eyes closed. He was wearing the same clothes he'd been in the day before. Surely his relatives had sent him with more than that? He left the boy to his nap and made his way up to the third floor to the previous guest room Harry had been staying in. There was a ratty bookbag on the floor at the foot of the bed. He picked it up and was surprised that it seemed empty. After unzipping it he found a pair of socks, two pairs of underwear, a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. This was it? What about a coat or another pair of shoes? Where were the child's other belongings? Where were his toys? Bag in hand he went back to the Dungeons.
Harry was sitting up on his bed when Severus went back down the hall to his door. "Is this all your relatives sent you with?"
"Yes sir." Harry hoped he hadn't looked inside. It wasn't just all they'd sent him with, it was all he had. He'd outgrown his other clothes and the Dursleys hadn't given him anything else of Dudley's to wear yet.
"Then the test can wait. We will need to get you some clothes."
Harry looked at the dark haired man and wondered if he had a son bigger than Harry then, or if he intended for Harry to wear some of his used adult clothes. He was beckoned to follow however and so he followed.
* * *
Harry had found the magical world strange. After all, who lived in a castle these days or wore long robes and funny hats? It was wondrous and exciting and new, but also strange. If Harry had thought the magical world strange however, the Muggle world of Dundee seemed even stranger to him. He'd lived in the Muggle world his entire life, but his exposure to people was always few and far in between. The most people he ever saw was in school or at the grocery store when Aunt Petunia needed him to carry groceries. They had never taken Harry to London or to a shopping mall or to the theatre like they had Dudley. Harry had never been to a restaurant or an ice cream parlour or the public library. So everything Harry saw now in this busy city was new to him, and he stuck close to Sir as though his life depended on it as they navigated the busy sidewalks.
"This is Dundee," Sir told him. "In Scotland."
Harry wanted to ask how exactly it was that they'd gotten there. One moment they'd stepped through the Hogwarts gate and Snape had put his hand on Harry's shoulder, and the next they were here in an alleyway. It was the same thing that had happened when the Dumbledore man had come to get him at the train station. But he didn't ask. He wasn't supposed to ask questions.
It wasn't long before Sir had steered them into a clothing store and Harry's eyes grew wide. He'd never seen so many clothes. These were the types of clothes Dudley would get new or the kids in school wore. One half of the store seemed to be girls clothing and the other half boys.
"Pick out clothes." Harry looked up at him.
"Clothes Potter. Shirts and pants and socks and underwear. You will need a coat and shoes as well. Don't forget pajamas."
Harry turned back to the store, not sure where to start. He'd never been to a clothing store before. Dudley had always complained about going clothing shopping, and from what Harry could gather, Aunt Petunia picked all of his clothes out for him.
Afraid to irritate Sir, Harry stepped away from him towards a rack of shirts. They were in different colors and sizes. At least he knew his shirt size. He'd seen it on the shirt tag enough times. But what should he pick out? And how many? He reached forward towards a dark blue shirt and looked at the tag and then pulled it off the rack. It looked ok. He also pulled off a green one and then turned to look for pants. Those were folded on a shelf against a wall. Harry located a pair of jeans and brought them back to Sir who was standing by the counter looking bored.
Sir looked down at him and said, "That is not enough to get you through one week. There was nothing else you liked? Don't be picky. Get enough for one outfit for each day of the week and don't come back without undergarments as well."
Harry left what he'd picked out on the counter and went back to the clothing racks, feeling excited. He was really going to get enough clothes for an entire week! Aunt Petunia never gave him more than three shirts and two pairs of pants. Looking at the clothes with more interest now Harry headed for a rack of polo shirts and ran his thumb over the soft fabric of a brown shirt. He pulled it out and imagined what he might look like wearing it. Dudley didn't like polo shirts because they were too 'grown-up' looking but Harry thought they looked sharp, and for school events like plays and other performances he had seen other boys wearing them. Sir looked sharp and Harry thought he would like to be able to dress nicely too. He picked out a light blue polo shirt and a sage green one as well and then went back to the t-shirt rack and picked out some colors he liked. He took his armful of shirts to the counter and then went back to the wall of pants. He would need nice pants to go with his polo shirts. Jeans would be ok, but they wouldn't look sharp. So he picked out a black pair of slacks, a khaki pair of slacks, two more pairs of jeans and two pairs of shorts, one dark blue and one black. When he got back to the counter he was surprised to see that Sir had already picked out a dark green sweat jacket, a pair of gray pajama bottoms and several packages of socks and underwear. Maybe Harry had been taking too long.
Sir paid for the clothes and carried the two bags outside. Harry was so happy he felt like skipping. Down the sidewalk a short ways they went into a shoe store and within ten minutes the store clerk had him fitted for a brand new pair of blue trainers. After that Sir lead them to an alley and touched his arm, and Harry found that they were once again in front of the gates to Hogwarts.
As they walked to the castle, his guardian said, "It is polite to say thank you when someone has just purchased something for you."
"Thank you sir," Harry said. He meant it as he rarely ever had anything to be thankful for. Back in his room Harry hung up and admired each of his new shirts in the wardrobe, and folded his pants with care and put them in the drawer at the bottom of the wardrobe. He put on his new trainers and a new pair of socks, and decided to never take them off again because they made his feet so happy. Maybe Sir wasn't so much like Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon after all.