A Troubled Boy
Chapter One: A Troubled Boy
By Little Needle
I would like to tell you now before it is too late and you have passed your judgment, that it was never my intention for anything of this 'nature' to take place. No, kind gentleman (and gentlewomen) of the jury, this could not... no, *would* not have happened had I not the sense to foresee what was absolutely bound to take place.
I would ask to plead my case now, in front of your righteous gaze, that if there is blame to place that it be on the shoulders of giants and not on such meager shoulders as my own. If this has been anyone's 'fault' than as surely as I am Professor Severus Snape, this was The Strumpets doing. The little creature that tip-toed into my life during afternoon tea on an unlaced shoe and one thin white stocking; one Harry Potter.
I remember the first time I lay eyes on the boy very clearly, as if it were only this morning; his tiny gash of a mouth plump and stained with the sticky raspberry syrup of an iced pop (a treat that I would very soon come to sample for myself). His bright, unblinking eyes trained on me like candy jewels in a sweet shop window; their display not to be upstaged by lengths of pale, cream-rose satin skin and the deepest, blackest velveteen mop of flimsy, unkempt waves.
He, with his fragile, searching little hands; so pale and smooth like confectioners sugar shells, one curved to trace along the crisp white hem of his equally small and untidy shorts, the other grasping lazily around the small wooden pith of his ever-diminishing frozen treat.
Harry, always with his tiny pointed tongue, every so often peeking out of its sweet, sticky cavity to map over and dip after trickling pools of ruby-iced confection, leaving its trail of contrasting stains on the boys sinfully milk-pale flesh. I watched raptly that sultry afternoon as he concentrated on the task of collecting each stray drop on the tip of his tongue; between his warm fingers, smeared endearingly at the small, pinched corners of his precious petaled bud, a bright dribble on his chin, just below the pout of his protruding bottom lip.
I hear the faint tinkering of his maidenly aunt in the kitchen with the tea, an entire etched glass door between she and the two of us. The boy shifts, still sitting uncomfortably where his aunt has placed him opposite me, his tiny feet dangle from the too-tall chair, one unlaced shoe slipping slightly from his curved, clothed heel. I jar as his skinny knees press tightly together, the golden glow of his heat-dampened thighs causing him obvious discomfit in his confinement to the small space of his narrow seat.
He does not look my way from the time poor Mrs. Dursley introduced the boy, and that has been some time now, but still I find myself more than curious as to why such a child should be perched and then ignored. After all, I am here to meet with the boy (I have agreed, for better or for worse, to take on the position of young Potter's guardian) as a favour to Headmaster Dumbledore who believes the misfit boy to be too much for one woman in Mrs. Dursley's unfortunate (widowed) condition.
'Do you dread coming with me, boy?' I ask it of him kindly, my tone quiet and somehow lost of its normally forbidding drawl. I don't wish the haggard woman to over-hear us in the kitchen. He looks up at me from his pop with the same startled, owlish gaze that he greeted me with the first time we were introduced, the buttered part of his mouth purced as if deep in thought. 'Oh no, sir.' The boy breaths his answer in the way a child half his age would muse over being asked the question of whether or not he would like ice cream for breakfast. I nod encouragingly and he continues on, sounding curiously short of breath. 'I--I think I've been waiting for this day since forever, sir. Since aunt Petunia told me I would be going to live with you, sir'
The Strumpet flushes softly, fingers clenching into small fists at his sides. His ears and neck are swept with a delightful pink lemonade colour before fading abruptly with the startled exclamation of his young, tinkering voice.
His loved treat has dueled with the heat for far too long now and has fallen to its untimely finish in a smattering of garish red on the thigh of his flawlessly white cotton shorts. He jumps from his seat onto wobbling, coltish legs, swiping at the smeared spot vigorously, eyes darting between the kitchen door where his aunt stands rooted in obvious fury, and the stain, further permeating the thin material with its now nightmarish shade of crimson.
The sound ringing through the air is her screech and without a word I realize why the boy has been so anxious to leave this place. The woman flings herself toward the boy, horror etched across her thin features, her normally narrowed eyes wide with alarm and riveted to the mark on the boys thigh. 'Stupid boy! Foolish boy!'
She grabs him by the elbow and I can see quite clearly that this pains Harry greatly. He struggles with her, trying to jerk his arm free, twisting beneath her grip which only tightens to the point that I am sure she will dislocate the joint from the pressure of it.
I step forward, gently intercepting, looking the frazzled woman in the face all the while nudging Harry behind me so that I am a barrier between she and the boy. I can feel his small fingers grip my elbow from behind in the same place his aunt had harmed him, clutching me to him, finally deciding on resting his head gently on my back. My blood thins at the thoughts skipping like an old silent film reel in the back of my mind, telling me that at his full height the boys smooth brow must barely reach the juncture of my shoulder blades. He is so *small*.
I must protect him.
'Now, now. The boy is troubled, you must remember yourself, Petunia. A lady such as yourself need not worry with such trivial things.' I use her given name coaxingly, placing a firm, gentle hand on her thin forearm. The tension visibly drains from her shoulders but the taut, white line of her mouth stays put as she tries to catch a glimpse of the boy over my shoulder.
I turn abruptly to him, urging the boy onward with a smart pat to his pert little bottom, sending the boy on his way to change into a more pristine pair of shorts. The boys back arches slightly and he turns shortly to give me a hot little glare before marchinging away. I watch appreciatively as he ascends, trotting up the stair, his bottom wiggling indignantly with each step in his hurry to obey. I tell her breezily that I will deal with the boy to my own leisure. I see from the glint in her eyes that this pleases her and so I continue on in my chiding, indulgent tones.
'Perhaps I should take the boy with me now, Petunia.' Her face tightens around her mouth so I continue on briskly before she has the chance to refuse my kind offer. 'Yes, don't you see. The boy needs a man's hand in matters of discipline, as I'm sure you know more than well enough. I would be more than... 'happy', shall we say, to relieve you of this particular burden.' The lines around her mouth soften and I know I must be getting through to her. It has become imperative that the boy leave this place with me today. 'Of course, only if you should allow the boy to come with me.' She smiles, and if my eyes do not deceive me, she blushes quite pink across the plane of her sharp cheek. I smile obligingly and nod my head as if to tip my hat to her.
Without further words between us, I make my way up the narrow stairwell to collect my boy, not truly understanding in that moment what I have gotten myself into.
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