Money is Money
To say that Harry was angry at his aunt for not having enough back-bone to stick to her word and kick Vernon out of the house for good was an understatement.
He was livid.
It had been about five days since Vernon had sat back on his huge arse and watched as Harry rowed with Petunia, and a dark, greasy-haired man named Severus in the living room. It was like a firework had exploded in the house. Harry had been so angry that, as the lightening coincidentally thrashed through the sky outside, the house shook, the lights flickered on their last legs and a few plates fell to their untimely death from the kitchen counter. Vernon had no idea where this 'Severus' man had appearred from, but if he irked Harry into such a rage, then the man was alright by him.
As for Draco -well, Harry didn't know how to feel about said blonde as he lay on his single bed, toying with the idea of returning to work once again. He had text Eric saying he'd happily take up his regular shifts in September, but for the next two weeks, he did not know what to do with himself. He didn't know what to feel besides anger; his Aunt had caved in once again, the hostile yet oddly welcoming Severus had all but abandoned him, Draco had disappearred on errands for some 'Anita' woman, and Vernon just sat throughout the whole ordeal, smirking grimly to himself.
In short -his life was shit.
He glared up at the ceiling, ran a hand down his face and licked his dry lips, his angry gaze sliding over to his laptop and notebook where, once upon a time, he had dreamed of writing a book. He hadn't written anything in a while. Maybe this was the break he needed to force some words onto a piece of paper. He sighed and run a hand down his face again, breathing heavily through his nose.
And the silence was shattered.
Growling low in his throat he tilted his head off of the pillow, "YES, UNCLE?" he bellowed down through his door.
"GO DOWN THE ROAD TO TESCO'S! WE'RE RUNNING LOW ON FOOD! AGAIN!"
Harry glowered at the bedroom door as though it were the very shadow of his Uncle. He needed some fresh air but considering that the air outside was just as suffocating as the air inside. He knew that his Aunt and Uncle were due to drive Dudley down to a boxing match on the Isle of Man at some point in the next few hours. He would be all alone. Just the way he wanted it to be. He glared down at his trainers and quickly stuffed his feet into them, the taut rubber pressed thickly against his skin. It hurt in the hot weather, but he did his best to ignore it.
The floorboards of his bedroom and the landing creaked and groaned underneath his weight as he cautiously moved out of his bedroom and to the top of the staircase. Downstairs was almost completely quiet, except for the odd loose floorboard and his own haggard breathing. With any luck his Uncle was too busy getting ready to acknowledge his descent. There was a lot of motion from the kitchen, like Petunia's heals clicking away on the cool tiles -oh, what he wouldn't give to sprawl out on those icy tiles. It would be exactly what he needed. Or a cold shower. Either way.
As he dismounted the staircase he saw two gleaming purple twenties tucked under a note reading, 'FOOD ONLY. GET EVERYTHING'. Harry snorted quietly to himself. Fourty pounds was hardly enough to buy Tesco's but it would do the shop for a few days -until Dudley got to the fridge for his 'after wrestling snack'. Stuffing the notes into the pocket of his cut-off's, he turned on his heel, unfastened the Yale lock on the door, and slipped out into the oppressive air.
It seemed like forever since he had left his house. It had been a few days, if anything, and yet the street beyond him looked like a foreign land.
The pavements were once again baked and burning in the sunlight, any hint of the previous thunderstorm they had encountered a few nights prior had vanished. A few nights ago everything had been simple; he had run away to Draco's uncle's house, they'd fallen asleep, the next morning there is a telephone call saying that his aunt couldn't bear to kick Vernon out for financial reasons and that she needed Harry home. He still could not wrap his head around it. It was almost like someone had erased her memory -but that sort of thing didn't happen in Surrey.
Ducking his head to the sun he began to climb the gradually steepening grassy hill that seperated Privet Drive from the main High Street.
The distant sound of laughter met his ears. He smiled thinly. Childen' laughter always made him think about his parents and whether they had taken him to a small public park like the one on the hill.
He had only been a baby after-all.
As he drew nearer to the playground, where small kids ran around with one another, dripping ice-creams clutched too tightly, and mother's rubbed in suncream, there he was, perched on top of the jungle-gym out of everyone elses way.
Harry froze mid-way in the itching grass. His skin screamed to be scratched while his stomach knotted in cold fear. The sensation was highly unwelcome as it was making him feel nauseated in the stifling heat. Just keep walking, he growled to himself, forcing one foot in front of the other. The metal fencing around the playground grew more vivid in detail. The smell of the suncream baking in the sun reached his nostrils. The itching trails of sweat that ran down his muscles stung in his fresh wounds from his Uncle's last beating.
There truly was no mercy in the world.
He clenched his fists and ground his teeth together as he strode along the over-grown path on the rise of the hill. He had just passed the playground, almost home-free, when a voice and the sound of rubber soles smacking on boiling concrete that made his kneecaps shatter. As for his backbone -well -that had ran away and hid in the long grass like the coward he was.
"HARRY WAIT UP!"
Oh, where was his will-power when he needed it?
His feet had stopped in the dry dirt, his muscles tense and vibrating with his pent-up anger. He hadn't been running in a while. He peered up through his dark fringe as Draco panted slightly beside him, sweat making his pale pink features shine in the sun. His hair gleamed like pure clenched his fists tighter. "What do you want?" he asked in a bored voice.
Draco was frowning down at the younger boy, hurt by his rough tone, but paying it no mind. "I wanted to talk to you Harry. I was worried about you"
Harry scoffed and shook his head, "worried about me? I don't believe that for a minute"
"Harry enough of this!" Draco hissed, hooking his fingers under the brunette's chin and forcing their eyes to meet, "I HAVE been worried about you. How could I not, knowing you're under the same roof as that animal?" the last two words were spat in such an aggressive way that it transformed the blondes persona completely.
Harry bristled at the memories and averted his hollow eyes from his friend -well he didn't know if they were friends anymore. "Leave me alone Draco" he breathed, his voice echoing loudly in the still, sweltering air.
"Harry, I am sure that you're aunt is only doing this -for your protection" Draco swallowed thickly, his tongue stumbling over the last few words. He knew that Severus had obliviated Harry's aunt, it was all too surreal to be believable. Severus had confirmed it when confronted, and given his reasons for doing so. When Draco had kicked up a fuss, Severus restrained him with various charms, and literally spat in the blond's face as the tormented memories were recounted of how Lily Evans -Harry's own mother -had slept with Severus whilst married to an apparently infertile James Potter.
Thus Harry was born to the wrong father.
Draco had therefore avoided his only friend for a few days, trying to wrap his head around it all. More to the point, he was curious as to how Harry showed no signs of magical ability. He had been pondering it whilst in the playground mere moments ago when the familiar nest of silky Raven tresses caught his attention.
Harry snorted, snapping Draco out of his musings. "Funny; everyone seems to want to do right by me and yet -it only makes matters worse"
Draco sighed and wiped sweat from his upper lip, "if I could help you know that I would"
"I don't know that" Harry hissed, shaking his dampening fringe out of his eyes as he stared down the hill into town, "you weren't there when I needed you"
"I was there!"
"In body, yes. But you didn't stick up for me. Or defend me!"
"Harry, I hardly have any say in the matter!"
"You were in the wardrobe when my uncle ... when he ... you saw! You could have said something but you didn't!"
Draco flinched at the words, the truth within them stabbing him likes thousands of icy knives straight into his heart. He looked down at Harry's flushed features, the blistered scar looking angry on his forehead in the heat, pink cheeks, a sheen of sweat maskign his cheeks and nose, emerald eyes wild with hurt. "Harry, if I was to help you I would have to open too many other doors"
"Why I was in your room in the first place?"
"That no one knew about except for us two? That is classed as 'breaking and entering'"
"I let. You. In!"
"You're technically under-aged, as am I. Therefore it is still classed as a crime"
"Ha! Coming from the boy who's sleeping rough!" Both of the boys bristled as Harry's words, but the heat left no room for sympathy or guilt in their veins. Harry exhaled through his nose and ground his teeth together, "look Draco, my family is worth less than shit and yet I still have to put up with them. You, on the other hand, have Severus. So go back to him cause I sure as hell can't!"
Without another glance back over his shoulder, Harry stalked off down the hill leaving the blond behind.
Draco watched as anger bubbled up within his stomach. He was too hot and angry to deal with Harry's temper at that moment -perhaps some space would do them both some good. He turned on his heel and made his way to the tunnel beneath the train tracks.
I can do this, Harry mentally growled to himself as he slouched through the aisles of Tesco's, scanning the packed shelves for what Vernon wanted him to buy. He was desperately trying not to think of Draco and the wounded look on the blond's face as he'd stalked off down the hill.
He refused to feel guilty.
He ran the back of his hand against his forehead, feeling dehydrated and as though the floors were spinning beneath his feet.
It was a horrible feeling.
He grabbed a few cans of soup that were on special offer and dumped them into the wire trolley he was pushing in front of him. It was already stacked with the tedious items that Vernon had told him to buy, but he refused to go home any time soon. He needed to get away. Besides, the heat, plus the Dursley's and his temper was not a good combination. He sighed and grimaced as he wiped more sweat from his forehead.
"Harry!" a cheerful voice called behind him.
He made no move to disguise the begrudging drop of his head against his folded arms on top of the trolley handle-bar. He waited until the person had caught up with him before he looked up tirelessly through his fringe, "yes Eric?"
"Clover had an accident last night"
Harry waited for his boss to continue, but when it became clear that he wasn't just yet, Harry forced out a, "oh that's too bad"
"Yes well" Eric looked down at him, something floated within his eyes that Harry could not quite place. It unnerved him. "I was wondering if you would consider coming back to work next monday?"
"W-why? Can't someone else cover?"
"It's almost like you don't want this extra shift, Harry. Cashier's earn more, too, I had assumed that would intrigue you"
"It is, but then you'll be down one box-boy"
"That's what I came over to talk to you about"
Harry cocked an eyebrow. Why was Eric being so evasive? It wasn't like him. "Oh?"
"I was wondering if you could persuade your blond friend to come in. You can show him the ropes and stay in the cool"
Harry looked up at Eric, kind, fun-loving Eric who had opened the door of oppurunity for Harry. His emerald gaze settled into a brittle glare, "that won't be possible" Without a glance, he continued to push his trolley down the aisle.
"Harry!" Eric called chasing after him and reaching out a tan hand to pull the trolley to a hault. "Look, work with me on this. You'll barely see each other, if that's what the problem is, and you need the money"
"Do I?" Harry snarled, venom puncturing through the air.
Eric looked mildly startled but was quick to recover from the shock, "Don't you?"
Harry ground his teeth together before exhaling heavily through his nose, "fine. When do you want me to start training him?"
"First thing next monday morning"
"Fine" Harry sighed, "can I get back to my shopping now?"
Eric looked as though he wanted to protest, to prolong their conversation, but the glaring Harry in front of him was not the helpless little boy he knew. Instead, he pursed his lips in a wounded line and inclined his head, "of course" He released his grip on the trolley and watched Harry walk away.
Anita's house had never felt so welcoming on such a disastrous day.
Her house was shaded and cool with the sweet scent of her hanging baskets outside the kitchen window drifting inside with every subtle breeze. They were seated on the small patio outside the kitchen; the baked wood smelt sweet in the sunlight and the parasole kept them both in the shade as they sipped the iced tea Draco had brought over.
It was a nice change.
"So Draco, dearie, how's that young Harry chap you used to speak about?"
Draco felt his heart sink, the ice cubes clinking in the glass as he swirled the sweet drink around. "We had a fight"
"Everything and nothing"
"It has to be more than that"
He looked up from his glass and over the table at her, "well ... you see ... he has family issues, to put it lightly, and it reached a high-point the other day" he sighed, swallowing thickly past the lump in his throat, "but he still has to live under their care as he is under-aged. He has no other family"
Anita hummed in thought, "he doesn't have to be in the house all the time. He just needs to have a meal there from time to time and sleep there. Technically"
"So what are you saying that I should do?"
"Find a way to get him out of the house more often"
Draco bowed his head, "I don't think he wants to talk to me at the moment. He would probably hit me"
"So let him hit you" Anita shrugged before taking a sip from her drink, the ice dancing in the sunlight, "what that boy needs is to let out frustration by the sounds of it. Does he have a sweetheart?"
"You know, a girlfriend?"
"Oh" Draco felt his cheeks flush red at the implication of what this woman was saying, and the sheer idiocy he felt for not knowing about Harry's personal life. However, judging from the context of the last few weeks, he would wager that either Harry was in a long-distance relationship or not at all. He casually shrugged, his muscles feeling stiff and heavy, "as far as I know, he doesn't"
"Well either he needs to get one or you can present yourself a bit sharper around him"
At this statement, Draco let out a bitter laugh, "I do not think that Harry is that way inclined"
"How would you know?" Anita shot back.
Draco sighed and shook his head, "I'd rather not talk about this anymore"
Anita hummed to herself but did not spout out more questions, despite how feverishly they pressed against her lips. "So, why aren't you with him now?"
"Like I said, we argued"
"Life is too short for argument" Anita tutted, waving her hand through the air as though batting a fly, "if you don't make up with him soon, you'll regret it"
DRaco dropped his head back onto the back of the chair. The sky was bright blue overhead, speckled with sun-spots. "You know what the worst thing is, Anita?"
"What's that, duck?"
"I think you're right"
"Boy get the door"
"Why don't you get if for once in your fat life?"
"Don't you dare talk to me like that in my own house!"
"Fine I'll get it myself!"
The door unlatched and Draco turned to see a very rattled looking Petunia in the doorway. She frowned down at him as though trying to place the face, remember his name, and from whence she saw him before. "Yes, can I help you?"
Good old Sev and his memory charms, Draco thought bitterly as he extended a hand, his tight dark blue jeans absorbing the heat from the sun overhead, "good afternoon my name is Draco, I'm a freind of Harry's. I came over a few nights ago but ... there was an incident-"
Petunia waved a hand, "oh, them and their incidents. It's like a disease. Do you want to come in or shall I just call Harry for you?"
"If you could call Harry for me, I would be much obliged," he smiled.
"Alright then I'll just go and get him for you,"
Draco inclined his head with a stiff smile as he watched her head of curled brunette hair disappear up the flight of stairs and disappear in the corner. Draco sighed and ran a hand down the back of his neck. It really was too hot to be doing any of this; fighting and arguing -he wasn't used to it all. It would usually be a heated debate with him getting his own way. Not this time.
It was an unusual experiance for him that was for sure.
Two pairs of legs descended the stairway.
"Here he is, dear, now off with the two of you. Enjoy the sun while it's here" and without a second glance, or wait for Harry to object to the idea, she closed the door to the both of them.
Harry growed low in his throat before turning his attention to Draco, "yes?" he snarled.
"Neither anger nor bitterness suits you, Harry, you should give up before your face melts into an even worse expression" Harry blinked owlishly, a bead of sweat running down his cheek. Draco absently licked his lip. Without warning Harry started laughing, at first it started off as a stiffled chuckling and then the noise escaped from his mouth and just would not end. Draco frowned down at him, "what is so funny?"
Harry looked up into pearly grey eyes and smiled, "I've missed your weird expressions"
Draco felt his shoulder muscles relax slightly, "does this mean we can ... move on?"
Harry's smile drooped at the corners, "as in from one another or ... from the argument?"
"The argument. I really am sorry for the way things have turned for you, Harry, but please do not cut me out now"
Harry sighed. He still felt bitter about the whole thing. The feeling would not ebb away, and that worried him. Woudl he ever be able to forgive the blond boy before him? "Well -I don't think I am ready to forgive you but ... we can try moving on"
"At the moment I would take an 'I don't know' from you, so this is a good start"
Harry gave a weak smile, "well I don't think anyone is expecting me back any time soon, so ... do you want to go down to the river?"
"River? What river?" Draco asked in bewilderment.
"Well it runs past your Uncle's house. But further up North it runs through a small wooded area"
"One of your hot spots for women?" Draco asked lightly as he gestured for Harry to lead the way.
"Nah" Harry scoffed gloomily, as he stuffed his hands into his pockets, "the women don't care for anything that'll get their clothes dirty these days"
"Bloody hell, you sound older than Sev"
Harry gave a weak twitch of his lip, "yeah well. What can you do?"
They continued to walk in the direction Harry was weaving for them through cramped houses, long roads, and over several hills. Draco wished he could have the ability for some cooling charms but even if he could, he would have to lag behind Harry to cast a descent one. He sighed and tried to keep in the shade as much as possible.
As they walked his mind began to wonder; he wondered how Pansy and Blasie were doing. He wondered what elabourate cover-up his father had devised for his disappearrance. He wondered if anyone even knew he was missing at all. He wondered what his mother was doing, and how she was holding up being cooped up in the manor with a mad-man.
He also wondered what the bloody Hell was taking his father so long to make a move on the wizarding world.
It was all very unnerving and suspicious.
Even Severus was anxious, and when Severus started to get anxious then you knew that there was something to worry about, if not right that moment, then you needed to prepare yourself for when it did.
He shuddered to himself.
"Well we're here"
Draco blinked and the adjusted himself to the surrounding area; the wooded area was enough to provide a large group of people with shade, though thankfully they were alone. The water looked cool and even inviting as it sparkled lazily in the afternoon sunlight. The leaves were an array of bright green and varying decaying colours and the grass was luscious underfoot.
It was beautiful.
"Oh wow Harry this is amazing" Draco breathed not wanting to disturb the peacefulness he felt inside him as he followed Harry into sliding onto the grassy banks overlooking the riverbed and leaning backwards on his elbows.
It was a few moments before Harry spoke again, "sometimes I think that -were she alive -this is the sort of place that my mother would have liked"
Draco nodded, "I think even my own mother would appreciate this beauty"
"Do you miss her?"
Draco looked over at the younger boy lying beside him in the grass in nothing but a jogging best and ripped jeans. This boy, who had literally nothing to really live for, was showing him the sheer beauty of his little slice of Hell. It was a stepping stone for them, Draco though as he swallowed past the lump that seemed to have permanently arisen within his throat, "all the time"
Harry groaned lightly as he leaned back into the grass and turned his head sideways so that he could look up at Draco. "How do you cope with it?" he asked, his voice barely a whisper.
"I don't know" Draco stated truthfully as he, too, sank into the grassy bank, the grass blades tickling his cheek as he turned his head to ace Harry. He shrugged his shoulders, "I don't I guess. I just try to get through each day, hoping that she's proud of me, hoping that she knows I will always love her no matter what decisions either of us makes ... hoping that she will accept me for who I want to be"
Harry's eyes seemed to sparkle in the sunlight, "I don't even know what my mother would think of me"
"At the moment I don't think I will ever know either"
"My father is mad, insane even. I don't even know who is alive or not anymore"
Harry blinked and then frowned, "are you saying that you think your father is capable of murder?" he asked incredilously.
Draco shook his head sadly, "no ... I know he is capable of murder ... and far worse"
"What on earth could be worse than death?" Harry asked through the grass beneath his cheek.
Draco looked Harry square in the eyes, "a life without love or people to love you. That is worse than death. I would rather die knowing that I am loved, than live and knowing that I am not"
Harry hummed in thought and shifted in the grass, moving his body unconsciously closer, "well I know you have Severus to love and care for you, in his own special way of course. And that Anita woman I still have yet to meet-"
"And you will meet her" Draco cut in with a smile.
Harry breathed a weak laugh, picking a blde of grass and twirling it in his fingers, "so then who do I have to that all for me?"
"Well there's always me" Draco smiled, feeling hs stomach flip as Harry flushed and rubbed his cheek into the dried dirt, "and you have Severus too"
Harry snorted, "no I don't. He's your uncle"
"Yes, I know that. But you do have him too, Harry. In more ways than you think"
Harry smiled a truly genuine smile as they lapsed into silence, their eyes closing to the sky or the scenery around them, shifting in the cooling grass as the sun surfed languidly through the sky. It was only when they were walking lazily through the cooling streets that Harry remembered what Eric had asked him.
"Draco, do you want a job?"
The blond quirked an amused eyebrow, "what exactly are you proposing, Harry?"
"Funny," Harry rolled his eyes, "my boss has offered me a temporary rise whilst this clutz of a girl gets better, and he was wondering if you'd like my old job. It's only be temporary at best but well ... money is money"
Draco paused and thought for a moment. It would be nice to have something to do. And muggle jobs were intriguing him by the day. If it was only temporary, than it might not be too bad. He would probably tire of it within the first week but even so, as Harry had said 'money is money'. "I suppose I could give it a try" he said after a few minutes.
"Okay well in that case, tomorrow we will need to get you a mobile"
"A ... a what?"
"I know I hate them too" Harry shrugged casually, "but don't worry, you can have my old one, I'm due for an upgrade anyway" he smiled just as a hollered 'BOY!' echoed from within the house. Harry cringed almost as much as Draco did for not wanting to leave the poor boy in this hellhole.
"I suppose I should go" Draco stated reluctantly, sleeking his hair back from his forehead, "I'll meet you down at Tesco's tomorrow afternoon and we can go from there"
"It's a date" Harry gushed out before quickly turning to the front door and closing it tightly behind him, leaving a very pink Draco out on his doorstep. As soon as the door was locked from his side, Harry ran up to his bedroom, kicked his door shut behind him and collasped on the mattress with a series of loud, "Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!" running from his mouth.