Story for the Bingo-Fest. Using the green bingo card, this story has:
20 points (5 for each of the 4 prompts fulfilled)
10 points (for the story itself)
20 points (for getting a bingo [4 prompts + free space])
Written on impulse. Hope you enjoy it!
The kid turned his head to spit onto the pavement, not breaking eye contact. His opponent rolled his shoulders, putting on a cold sneer that he had often seen send even the most cocky of teenagers running. That seemed like a lifetime ago, now.
“Can’t leave well enough alone, can you?” asked the aggressor, rolling his tongue over his teeth, a gleam lighting his angry blue eyes.
“I could ask the same of you,” the sneering teen responded, discreetly sliding his right foot back into a fighting stance.
“I was only havin’ a little fun.”
“You can find your ‘fun’ elsewhere. Those kids don’t need you to make their lives any more miserable.” Although shorter, the sneering teen was practically radiating fury.
“You bleedin’ ponce. You think you’re so much better ‘an the rest of us, ‘cause you grew up spoiled?”
The sneer dropped into a growl. “That’s not the word I’d use.”
“Sure. Look, you should run back to Mummy. Only the rich can afford to ride that high moral horse you’re on.”
“You think that just because you’re the biggest kid on the block, you can get away with being an arsehole.”
“At least I spend my time doin’ somethin’ I like. You spend all day thinkin’ of words with four syllables so’s you can talk down to the rest of us.”
Later, if you’d asked either teenager who started it, neither would remember. In the end, it didn’t matter. A passing citizen would have noticed two dirty boys rolling in the refuse of a narrow alley. They would probably have hurried on, turning up their coat collars and averting their eyes so they could continue living in their safe little bubbles, willfully ignorant of the suffering of the over 81,000 homeless children living in London.
To the two boys tussling on the ground, however, the outside world was irrelevant. There was only the sound of each other’s panting, ragged breaths and the blood rushing to their heads.
The blue-eyed boy rolled the shorter teen onto his back, landing a solid punch to his jaw. The pinned boy, desperate to get free before his head was irreparably smashed against the pavement — a favorite move of the aggressor — scrabbled behind his head with a bruised hand, searching the refuse for a weapon. When his frantically groping fingers brushed against the top of a glass bottle, he smiled grimly.
In a swift move reminiscent of his days as a star athlete at a faraway school, the shorter teen smashed the bigger end of the bottle over the blue-eyed boy’s head. He turned his face away and squeezed his eyes shut against the rain of broken glass, then took advantage of his enemy’s confusion and pain to push him off, leaping immediately to his feet.
The other boy, dazed but too full of fighting rage to back down, staggered to his feet, one hand braced against the brick wall of Petrelli’s Deli Meats and Cheeses, one of the buildings between which they were brawling.
“Give it up,” the shorter teen said, holding the wickedly sharp broken bottle in between the two of them as a barrier.
“Go to hell,” the other snarled, leaping forward.
The shorter teen rammed the fractured bottle into his shoulder without hesitation. A couple of months ago, he would have been horrified at the idea of cutting a peer so ruthlessly.
A couple of months ago, the shorter boy hadn’t been so desperate.
With a pained grunt, the blue-eyed teen yanked free of the bottle, clutching his shoulder and gritting his teeth. When he still seemed unwilling to surrender, the shorter teen tossed the bottle aside and tackled him.
The injured teen slammed against the wall, crying out as his shoulder made contact with the unyielding brick. In a last ditch effort, he kicked at the shorter boy’s knee with all the force that desperation could muster. He pressed his advantage as the boy stumbled back, grabbing his shoulders and throwing him to the ground again.
“This is stupid,” the shorter boy gasped, rolling his eyes. He’d already won the fight when he’d cut up the other’s shoulder, but the injured boy wouldn’t give up.
Blood loss and pain finally getting the better of the other boy, the shorter teen took advantage of his opponent’s increasing weakness to ram an elbow into his injured shoulder. The boy gasped and rolled off of him, stunned by the sudden pain. The shorter boy climbed to his feet, not rejoicing in his victory, but glad to have made it out in one piece.
Before he left, the winner turned his blazing green eyes to pierce the panting boy’s gaze. “Oh, and by the way? My mum isn’t alive anymore to run to. Maybe you should listen to yours more. Then you wouldn’t be in the state you’re in now.”
Harry Potter walked out of the alley, shaking long black hair out of his eyes. It had become overgrown in the two months since he’d made his way to London, but he didn’t care enough to bother cutting it. It was easier to hide his telltale scar this way.
Keeping his head down and his fists in his pockets, Harry slinked past everyone else walking in the street. He could see some people staring out of the corner of his eye, but did his best to ignore them.
Not really having a destination, Harry let his feet take him where they would. He kept strictly to the poorest Muggle areas of the city, ever aware of the danger. Even now, he was constantly on the alert as he wandered.
It was because of this hyper-attentiveness to his surroundings, a skill quickly honed by nights on the streets, that Harry became suspicious that someone was following him. He turned abruptly, staring at the crowd behind him with narrowed eyes, but nothing looked out of the ordinary. If he’d been asked what had tipped him off, he would have had no answer, but the lack of a visible danger did nothing to ease the sudden tension that had him wishing for the bottle again.
He started walking again, moving with a purpose this time. He ducked in and out of alleys to throw off a casual follower, but the feeling persisted.
Swearing as he realized that his stalker wasn’t going to be easily put off, Harry decided to keep to the main roads. If his shadow wanted to do something to him, they’d probably be put off by a crowd of witnesses. Two half-asleep drunks and someone smoking an opium pipe wouldn’t cut it.
He thought he saw a flash of black out of the corner of his eye. Whirling around and seeing nothing, Harry grew increasingly frustrated. The panic threatening to take over his feet and make them mindlessly run was getting harder and harder to resist. He pushed his hair back from his face and ears so he could listen better, and the first thing he heard was a harsh whisper that he’d hoped to never, ever have to hear again.
“Thank you, Andre.”
“No problem. I hope you find him.”
Severus nodded, nerves frayed nearly to the breaking point as he exited Petrelli’s. The owner was a squib, and one of the spy’s contacts during the war. He’d never had to resort to it, but the place had always been available as a hideout in case he needed it. It’d also been a valuable source of information on the daily condition of the muggle world, a resource Severus had often utilized during the years of the Dark Lord’s power.
He paused outside the shop, taking a few deep breaths. He’d been searching every weekend since school started, just like half of the staff and the entire Ministry of Magic.
When Dumbledore’s Golden Boy Gryffindor, Harry Potter, ran away from his muggle family in what was no doubt a fit of pique (although not without using accidental magic to blow up his poor aunt), Severus had been less than surprised. He’d always known that the brat was spoiled and selfish; this only proved it.
As the weeks dragged on with no sighting and no leads, however, Severus was beginning to become more and more worried about finding a body instead of a recalcitrant teenager. Sirius Black was still on the loose, and Cornelius Fudge had been admitted to St. Mungo’s for two days last week for a sinus tachycardia because of the stress of it all.
Severus wasn’t at all certain of finding Potter in Muggle London anyways. A check at the Dursleys’ house had lead Minerva McGonagall to declare that all of his magical things were gone, including his trunk, broom, and Hedwig’s cage, so the many people trying to find him had speculated that he’d probably gone into hiding in a magical area. Still, Severus was one of the people best suited to search this Muggle section of town, and Dumbledore had wanted to leave no stone unturned.
About to head across the street, Severus glanced to the right and left. He’d almost started walking when something he’d seen down one of the sidewalks registered in his tired mind. Looking over again, he saw the hunched back of a black-haired teen shuffling down the road.
It’s probably nothing, he thought, being no stranger to false alarms over the past several weeks, but he still had to pursue it.
He followed the teenager at a discreet distance, trying to get a closer look at the boy. After several minutes of following him, the child stopped suddenly and turned. Severus melted into the crowd, still trying to get a better look. He was too far away to make out anything other than a pale face, but Severus wasn’t about to give up.
He was tempted to just march up to him, but that might send the skittish boy running. If he grabbed him from behind without being absolutely positive it was Potter, the child would scream and Severus would get glares from everyone around as if he were the troublemaker.
Promising a thousand detentions to the Potter brat in his mind, as this was preferable to imaging the child’s lifeless body, Severus refused to give up.
The teenager, apparently having caught on to be followed, began engaging in basic evasive maneuvers. Severus, an accomplished spy, easily kept up, but he was slightly impressed by the teen’s competency. The chances of this being Potter dwindle by the moment.
When Severus’ target returned to walking solely in the most populated areas, Severus frowned and sped up. If he lost him now, the Potions Master would never know if he’d let Potter slip through his fingers or not.
He was only a few feet away, concealed behind the rather rotund figure of a man heading in the same direction, when the teen turned and shoved his long hair away from his face.
Green eyes, lightning-shaped scar, and the face of James Potter.
Severus felt a wave of relief, immediately eclipsed by a blinding rage.
The teen froze, and wary green eyes met flaming black ones.
When the boy made a movement as if to run, Severus stalked forward, tongue lashing out. “Don’t you dare run. I will hex your legs together right here in the middle of London; I don’t care who’s watching! The entire Ministry would be more than happy to forget the whole thing after the stunt you’ve pulled!”
Passers-by eyed the two and skirted around them as they walked along, but Severus didn’t care. Potter was looking up at him with a mixture of defiance and dread.
Rage making him momentarily unable to form words as he stared down at the child, Severus crossed his arms.
“I’m not going back there,” Potter said.
Severus opened his mouth for a scathing retort before his gaze, quickly checking Potter for injuries, was arrested by an alarming sight.
He drew closer and grabbed Potter’s arm to keep him from running. “You’re covered in blood.” His voice sounded strange to his own ears. Slightly incredulous, mostly hollow.
“It’s not my blood.” Potter pulled his arm free, glaring at Severus. There was something new, something wild and dangerous in the boy’s stance. Severus was taken aback, but did his best to hide it behind a sneer.
He opened his mouth to say something when a bossy, uptight female voice came from a few feet away.
“Is something the matter?”
Severus looked over to see a stout Muggle woman standing with her arms crossed, looking between the two of them. She’d clearly witnessed at least part of the conversation, and Severus didn’t need Legilimency to know if she was wondering whether Severus was trying to kidnap or hurt Potter.
“I’m afraid,” Severus said, gritting his teeth at the necessity of forcing himself to be civil to people who got involved where it was none of their business, “that my son has been getting into some trouble.” He dropped a hand to the back of Potter’s neck, grabbing tightly and squeezing a little when the boy opened his mouth to argue. Potter winced slightly and cut Severus a look full of hatred.
“Well, if you’re alright…” she looked doubtfully at Potter who, after another painful prompt, gave a tight nod.
When the woman had walked far enough away to make further interference unlikely, Severus bent down until his face was inches from Potters’, still not releasing his neck. In his most dangerous voice, he whispered. “You have no idea how much trouble you’ve caused. Hundreds of people have been searching for you. A mass murderer has escaped Azkaban, and here you are, having a little jaunt through London.”
Half a glance showed Severus that whatever the boy had been through over the past two months, it could hardly be described as a jaunt, but the boy didn’t debate the point. Smart.
“We are going to go to the Leaky Cauldron, where you will change out of these disgusting rags while I contact the Headmaster to inform him that you are, unfortunately, still alive. Are. We. Clear?”
With a jerky nod, Potter slapped away Severus’ grip on the back of his neck. “Yeah. I get it. You want to see me get expelled.”
“I wish.” Severus grabbed his forearm and began marching towards the Leaky Cauldron, ignoring the fresh stares. “I promise you, I will do my best to see it happen, but I somehow doubt that it will come about.”
“No more talking. You will be silent until we reach the tavern.”
“No!” The arm was yanked out of Severus’ grip, and the man turned to see Potter looking at him with barefaced animosity.
“What?” Severus hissed.
“You’re going to answer my question, or I’m not taking another step.” Potter’s chest heaved with emotion as he practically spat the words. Severus almost recoiled. What had happened to the teen? It was like the mildly insolent boy had been replaced by a wild animal.
“What question,” Severus ground his teeth, trying to prevent a full-out scene from breaking out.
“What do you mean, I’m not expelled? I used magic outside of school. I already had a notice from the Ministry from last year—which wasn’t even for a spell I cast, by the way—and blowing someone up is a bit worse than a levitation charm. I’m not going to go back there only to get formally kicked out.” Severus pinched the bridge of his nose, suddenly feeling all of the exhaustion of the past two months crash down on his shoulders at once.
“Did you miss the part about the mass murderer?”
“Sirius Black? Isn’t he just some Muggle bloke?”
“No, Potter, he isn’t ‘just some Muggle bloke’. He’s the reason your parents are dead, and he’s escaped to indulge in the pleasure of killing you.”
Potter’s face paled slightly, and the anger was replaced by something else. Shock? Probably.
“I see you’ve done no research into the history of your parents,” Severus sneered. “I will explain the rest if you would only come on.”
Potter stared at him for a moment, appearing to wage his options, before nodding slightly. “Fine.”
“Wonderful.” Severus rolled his eyes. “Now, if you would care to get a move on? We’re becoming a tourist attraction.”
Potter scowled but began walking. Severus kept close, ready to grab him if the teen made a sudden move to escape. Still, a massive weight was cleared off of Severus’ chest. The boy was alive, if not undamaged. Sirius Black hadn’t killed him after all.
Severus hadn’t failed in his promise to keep Lily’s child—Lily’s idiotic, arrogant, brazen child—alive.