The Boy Who Loved
Belle. A. Lestrange
The Surrey Jogger
Floorboards creaked underneath the thick ash-grey carpet as a young man gently trod along the simple trail from the bathroom to the second smallest room in the house. The door was kicked open by a bare foot and water droplets made a thin trail along the carpet as said teenager strode the length of his bathroom and sat heavy on the edge of his bed. Harry Potter softly removed the damp towel from around his neck and covered his head with it, before towel-drying his hair, water flying off in all directions as though he were a mutt getting dried off after a warm shower. His skin was cool and damp from the shower but at least he felt clean. He needed to feel clean today. He ran a hand over his freshly shaven chin and glanced side-ways at the long mirror on his wardrobe door. He was reflected back in a dimly lit room. The sun had not arisen just yet, but when it did it would blind him.
He pushed himself up from the bed, heaving the creak of the springs as he did so, and walked over to his hand-me-down dresser opposite his bed. He breathed heavily through his nose and yanked open the top drawer, where his boxers and socks were stuffed inside in a hazardous cluster. He grabbed a pair of starched white boxer shorts along with a balled up pair of pale grey ankle socks. Clutching these in one hand, he pulled open the second drawer down and pulled out a pair of tight jogging shorts and a simple faded grey T-Shirt; his jogging attire. He made quick work of changing, tossing the towels onto the unmade bed as he did so. His worn out trainers were strewn behind the bedroom door. Once he was dressed, he braced himself against the wall and toed his shoes on, with some difficulty. He wriggled his toes within his trainers, adjusting to their fit on his slender feet, and breathed a sigh of relief. He did not need trainers. Not yet, at least, a small mercy as he was running low on any source of money at present. He glanced around his room and found what he was looking for
his iPod. He could not run without his iPod. It was the only thing that kept him sane through his running and his daily chores around the house. He could run with his glasses but he could not run without his iPod. He placed the small white buds into his ears, and turned the device on, scrolling through his songs for one that he wanted to listen to, before placing the small device into the pocket of his shorts. He was ready.
Once he was ready he walked quietly from his room and ventured downstairs into the family kitchen. It was cooler in this room, where there were literally tiles on almost every surface. Tiles were easier to clean that wallpapered walls. That is what his aunt said, at least, and he believed her. He cast a look around the cool room that was bathed in the pale grey of the pre-dawn light. He made his way over the counter that had the sink embodied within it. He ducked down and opened the twin doors beneath it. His eyes scanned the shelves crammed with laundry detergent and washing-up liquid and a few pots and pans until his emerald eyes fell upon it; his small water bottle. A wry smile tickled the corners of his mouth as he swiped it off of the shelf and nudged the doors shut with his bare knees. He snapped the cold-water tap on, unfastened the screw-on lid of the bottle, and watched as the cool water drummed into the plastic object. Once it was three quarters full, he turned the tap on and screwed the lid back on the bottle. There was only one thing left that he needed. His 'poof-pack' as Uncle Vernon called it, which was literally just a small wallet that could be strapped around his slender waist that also had a net pouch for his water bottle on the side. He would not be without it. Why Vernon had a problem with it he would never know. His hand flew to the flat wallet and breathed a sigh of relief as he felt the hard I.D. cards within. There was his employee work I.D., his bus-pass and his student driver's license. He was all set and ready to go. Sliding his water bottle into the net pouch he walked down the hallway and grabbed his keys off of the hook that hung up at the base of the stairs. He opened the front door and paused, straining his ears against the silence of the early morning in case either of his relatives decided to wake up early at his rustling around and ban him from leaving the house for the remainder of the day.
He slid the chain out of its lock and eased the yale lock open before slipping out of the front door, pulling it gently closed behind him. He strode down the front garden, which was literally just a layout of brightly coloured bricks in various patterns, with a potted plant in the middle of the small two-by-two metre front garden. It looked unnatural to him. It always had. He walked through the open white picket fence gate and stood in the middle of the pavement, looking up and down Privet Drive. Nothing seemed to change. It was the same almost every morning, save for the odd fellow jogger who would raise a hand in greeting as they passed one another. No verbal communication was ever made. Feeling better than he had all week Harry turned to face the end of the drive and walked until he came to the main road. The loose gravel ground underneath his feet as he stretched his arms and legs and faced the world.
Draco's eyes flew wide open and he gasped heavily, drinking as much oxygen in as he could and then choking on the colossal amount of air he had inhaled. He spluttered and coughed heavily, the damp air hanging low overhead. The pale grey sky blinked down at him, the fractures rays of pale gold sunlight waving just over the hillside and piercing through his eyelashes. He groaned and rolled away from it. He had never been a morning person. That's when it clicked in his head that something was wrong. He splayed his hands out on either side of him and winced. Had he we the bed last night? He grimaced at the humiliating thought. His face was damp also. Did he have a nightmare and sweated profusely? He cracked his eyes open and swallowed thickly. He was laying on grass, prickly, long, dew-soaked grass. His throat went dry. What had happened to him last night? He rolled onto his back and let out a howl of agony. Every muscle of his body felt as though it had been ripped open and seared with a fiery pain. Tears sprang to his eyes as he clutched his arms around his body, willing himself not to move. He sniffled, the cold air spiking his nostrils. He whimpered as he adjusted his eyes to his surroundings. He had no idea where he was; he could just make out a small iron fence running along some form of play area, though it was vacant of any life form. Birds flittered overhead in the sky and chirruped as they perched in the trees. The sound rattled in his ears. He winced and slid his arm over his eyes, still whimpering as his arms were burning harshly with the wounds inflicted upon him the evening before-
His hand flew to his mouth. It all came rushing back into his mind. He could still hear his mother's screams as the crack of his father's cane came battering down and broke into his alabaster skin. He dreaded to think of what it looked like now, blistered with welts and hideously coloured bruises. His chest stung incredibly, a dull throbbing drummed out throughout his tender muscles. He ran his other hand down the left side of his ribcage and winced, pain shooting through to his brain. He howled heavily and felt his voice crack at the strain of his injuries. His nose was pure agony to touch. It was tender and if he touched it too hard, he screamed out through the cold air. He must have collided with the flagstone floors of the manor at an odd angle. He ran a hand down his face, and though his touch was gentle on his features, the slight fracture in his nose was unbearable. He fumbled in his pockets for his wand, but upon finding nothing but grit in the pockets, he decided he would have to do it manually. He placed his hands on both sides of his nose and hesitated. He couldn't do this. His body trembled with the pain he knew he was about to inflict upon himself. Tears flooded into his eyes. His body temperature skyrocketed. He sighed, closed his eyes and gave it a try.
There was no one there to hear him. No one there to care. He felt suddenly so alone. He had never been alone before. Even at Hogwarts he had had Severus there watching him like a large black shadow over his life. Now there was no one. Hot tears ran down his feverish cheeks. His palms were clammy as was his forehead. His head and hands were clammy however the rest of his body was frozen from sleeping on dew-drenched grass all night long. He trembled violently, the tickling of a sneeze at the back of his throat and nose however he was unable to follow through with the act of sneezing. He trembled again. He pushed himself upwards from his position on the grass with his weakened arms and felt as though he may collapse with the exasperated effort of doing so. His head was spinning. He rarely succumbed to vertigo however he decided that today would be his exception -his only exception. He squinted through his blonde eyelashes at his surroundings. The perimeter of the children's play area was indeed fenced off by an iron fence. He frowned. Why had he landed here of all places? He rubbed at his temples and winced as the pulsation of a headache began to work its way into progress. He sniffled, the memories of last night still polluting his mind. Why had his mother not stopped Lucius? Where had Severus been? Severus was always meant to be there for him, so where had he been? He eased his knees up to his chest, wincing with every movement but not able to bring himself to care as much anymore. The only thing he could care about was himself. "I'm alone" he whimpered as the reality settled itself within his stomach. He shivered; hunger gnawing at his insides with no way to be satisfied.
He licked his dry lips and, shakily, looked over his shoulder at the climbing frame erect behind him. He furrowed his brow, and nibbled on his lower lips. He needed somewhere to curl up in. The only descent place was that strange dusty-blue plastic coloured tube that came running down from the top of the wooden climbing frame down to the ground. He had no idea what it was. But it would suffice for the purpose he needed it for. He rolled over onto his knees and felt the grit embed itself through his tattered muggle clothing and into his knees. He ground his teeth together, doing his best to ignore the pain within his ribcage and his nose. His skin still screamed from the agonising marks that were left behind from his father's abuse. On his hands and knees, he crawled over the dirt and grit towards the plastic tubing. He eased himself within the wide tube and curled up within the curve of the huge plastic pipe. He rested his pained back against the cool bend of the plastic and sighed wearily, already feeling exhausted from the effort that had been drained from him. He wiped his cheeks roughly with the tattered muggle jumper he wore. He raised the hood over his head and sniffled, his head feeling slightly warmer and the harsh plastic feeling bearable with the soft padding between it and his head. He swallowed thickly and stared off into the distance that he could see from the tubes opening from which he had crawled. Gentle daylight was dusting over the wide expanse of grass on the hillside. It was a peaceful little area, though he loathed admitting it. He needed to figure out where he was, but how he was to do that, he did not know. That is when he caught sight of it. Or rather, him. Draco squinted to make sure he was not hallucinating. No, his vision was just fine. He could see a young man, sweaty and breathless jogging along the horizon of the hill. Draco watched as the young man's legs carried him closer and closer towards the perimeter of the park. His legs pounded harder and harder into the tarmac path, carrying the young man to the very edge of the park. Draco felt his muscles tense up yet again. He suppressed a howl of agony as the, no doubt, open wounds hissed and seethed on his back. He squirmed a little feeling uncomfortable. He did not want to irritate his back so he decided to stop his fidgeting. His silvery gaze returned to the runner whom had stopped at the gates of the playground, doubled over with his hands on his knees. Draco frowned. Did muggle runners often do this sort of thing? Did they bend over all the time? He heard the young man cough before stretching upwards, his arms, legs and stomach looking incredibly thin against the bleak sky behind him. Draco tilted his head to one side. He then saw young man or was he a teenager? start stretching his leg muscles and his arm muscles before taking something shiny out of his belt and holding it to his lips.
Draco licked his lips, suddenly aware of how thirsty he was, not to mention hungry. His stomach growled aggressively in the still air. Draco pressed a hand to his stomach, as though there was a button that would switch the growling off, somewhere on his body. Sadly there was none. He chewed the inside of his cheek, before directing his gaze upwards towards the runner. He had pocketed the bottle of water and was now just leaning against the railings of the fence. Draco frowned, stuffing his hands into the pockets of the hooded jumper in a vain attempt to warm them up. There was a cough from the runner. Draco watched the dark-haired teen as he continued on his way along the path and out of is narrow line of vision. He sighed.
This was going to be a long day.
Harry wiped his forehead as he wiped his feet on the bristly welcome doormat as he fumbled in his pockets for his keys. They jingled irritably in the sunlight that poured over his shoulder as he fitted the right key into the lock, turned it and pushed the door open. A rush of cool air escaped the locked up house, causing his skin to feel even hotter than it had before. He shivered and stepped inside, closing the door behind him. He toed his shoes off by the door and inhaled deeply through his nose. He glanced at his watch.
"Should start breakfast" he murmured to himself, knowing off by heart that Vernon would be up in the next ten minutes to shower, before coming down to eat before he set off for work. Petunia would wake thanks to the noise from the shower and Uncle Vernon's annoying singing. She had no reason to be up so early during the summer holidays as Dudley had no school. But she would still come downstairs and read in the conservatory for a little while, whilst Harry made the breakfast.
It was routine.
He strode through into the kitchen and was surprised to find his Aunt Petunia already in there, wide-awake, and making pancakes. He stood in the doorway, shell-shocked for a moment before clearing his throat. "Aunt Petunia what are you doing up so early?"
Petunia shrugged her bony shoulders and flipped another pancakes over, "I didn't sleep well and decided to come down here and make breakfast since you were out for your run"
Harry ran a hand through his messy hair and down the back of his neck, "well thank you Aunt Petunia but Vernon will wring my neck if he finds out"
Petunia rolled her hazel eyes, "he will not find out Harry, besides everyone needs a break once in a while. Even you. Now go on and get ready for work," she jerked her head towards the staircase before returning her attention to the pan in front of her. Harry knew better than to argue. He ran up the stairs and stopped at the top, straining his ears in case he heard Vernon wake up.
Satisfied, he crossed the landing, walked down the hallway and turned into his room. He kicked the door closed behind him and went immediately to his wardrobe in search for his work uniform; smart black trousers, a plain black polo shirts and his horrendous little waistcoat with the 'Tesco' logo on the front breast pocket. He grimaced slightly but changed as quickly as he could. He wanted to be out of the house before Vernon woke up. He still had another week or so at the office before he got his summer holiday. The polo shirt felt stiff and heavy on his body and the trousers felt as though they were frying his legs. He shifted uncomfortably. He did not know whether he could stand the whole summer wearing this outfit. It irritated his skin to a great extent. He doubted whether he would make it until the end of the day without breaking out in a rash. He fastened the pin into his breast pocket and adjusted his glasses on his nose before sighing dejectedly and walked out of his bedroom.
The sun was climbing its way up into the bright blue sky as he strolled leisurely down the Drive towards the main road. He decided not to get the bus today. He wanted to walk to the supermarket, and enjoy the calming sunshine before it became a blistering beacon of light. He had decided the previous night that he was going to work through his lunch break. He needed to if he was going to win employee of the month and get the bonus at the end of the month.
He needed to beat Jason.
He wrinkled his nose in distaste as his mind drifted to the dark-blonde haired prat who stuck his nose in the air and thought he dominated their local Tesco's. He forever kissed up to their boss and always tried to look like the best worker by doing extra hours. Not this year. Harry was determined to beat him. He would not let Jason win the summer prize as well as the bonus, which was a car; the make of it was, as yet, unknown to all workers. Harry wanted no needed that car. He had his license but he was sick of only being able to borrow Vernon's car when convenient. Which was not that often. Harry ran a hand through his hair as he picked up the pace down the steep hill to the high street where he worked.
It was cool as he walked inside the supermarket as Harry walked in through the staff entrance and signed in before heading for his small locker. As far as he could tell, judging by the sign-in cards, he was the first one there for the morning shift. Of course the older staff that were required to come in for opening time, but Harry was smug in the fact that Jason had not signed in yet. Good, he thought to himself as he opened his locker and placed his wallet-belt and water bottle inside, at least I still have a small chance in this competition. The thing Harry found annoying was that he actually cared about his job, he cared for the customers, dealt with complaints, helped people with taking their shopping to their cars if it was a large load, and mopped the aisles straightaway if something spilled. Jason did none of these things, and yet he got praised for everything.
He ground his teeth together. This was his year and he knew he could do it. He closed his locked door with a bang and was about to turn to walk onto the main floor when-
"Good morning Harry, you're here early" came a chirpy voice from behind him. Harry almost jumped out of his skin; sweat breaking out on his skin and aggravated nerves knotting up tightly in his temples. He growled low in his throat and turned around to see a bleach-blonde girl with a pixie haircut walking inside the staff entrance door and punching in.
"Hi Clover" he responded tightly.
"So why have you been avoiding me?" she asked as though she had no idea. Harry snorted in disbelief. He knew what she was capable of.
"You know bloody well why, Clover, now shut up and leave me the hell alone, got it?" he snarled under his breath, glaring down at her. She did not even flinch, like most people would have, she merely giggled childishly and flicked her hair out of her eyes.
"Now, now, now, we would not want the manager to hear you being mean to me, would we? Not unless you want to beat Jason" she grinned with a sneering undertone before walking out onto the floor, her cashier's waistcoat straining against her heaving bosom. Harry shuddered at the thought of that woman. Not only was she annoying, she was just -wrong. Everything about her was wrong, her hair, her tarty make-up, her voice her personality and -her body. He shook his head and headed out onto the floor, determined to work his hardest.
The sky was dark and the park had emptied out. Draco welcomed the gentle breeze of the evening and sighed with relief. He had had to avoid the park all day lest someone thought him weird. He looked weird, so people probably thought he was a nutcase. He bit his lip and ignored the growl that punctured the silence from within his stomach. He sat cross-legged on the roof of the climbing frame gazing out at the blinking lights down the hill. The field around him was dark, but tranquil, a cool calmness that surrounding him like a placid ocean. That's when he heard it. The soft scraping of someone's exhausted footsteps up the tarmac path from the steep hill. Draco squinted through the dark light. He could almost swear that it was the same young man from this afternoon, though his outfit was different now, and his body was hunched over with fatigue. Draco frowned. What had happened to the young man to wind up in such a state?
I must be going mad, he snapped to himself, returning his gaze down to the splintered wood beneath his crossed legs. Observing the locals for my own amusement absurd!
And yet he could not help but look up and feel a crashing wave of disappointment wash through his mind as he watched the exhausted young man trudge away along the path, and disappearing into the night.