Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Friendship’s Price :: 01 :: Summer, Again

01 • Summer, Again

Harry lay in his bed, listening to the sound of birds outside his window, not quite fully awake. He’d dreamt of Sirius, which was not unexpected, and his stomach churned slightly in response. He knew, intellectually, that the blame was not his alone, but being the boy that he was he could not help mentally berate himself for the ‘what ifs’ of hindsight. He could only wonder if Dumbledore also experienced anguish at what might have been, had only some of his own choices been different.

The Dursleys were mostly leaving him alone, scared into submission by members of the Order. Vernon had been incensed by what they had said and done at the train station and had convinced himself by the time they’d arrived home that mere threat was not action. He had immediately set upon Harry once they were safely inside № 4 Privet Drive, backhanding him into the wall with great force and a malicious chuckle, the first time he’d ever really let loose, and the last.

Thirty seconds later a knock at the door froze everyone in place. When no one answered it, the door swung open of its own accord and Mad-Eye Moody stepped into the house, his magical eye swiveling around furiously, whilst the normal one glared straight at Vernon.

A half hour later, Vernon, Petunia, and Dudley indeed understood that their welcoming committee on the platform had not been joking in the least. From that point on, Harry was left mainly to his own devices, called only for errands or to meals.

Harry, being the boy that he was, did not give any outward sign that he was pleased by this turn of events and stayed silent for much of his time, which if anything both pleased and outraged his unwilling family. Pleased because the boy did not give them any trouble, nor reason to object, and outraged because he didn’t, as they continued to think him abnormal and a freak, and would have loved to punish him were it not for the protections he had.

*

Harry looked at himself in the mirror and sighed. The same messy hair, the same horrible glasses. He ran his fingers through his hair, attempting to make it do anything but silently mock him with it’s unreasonable insistence on being haphazard.

At least he’d grown a bit, though he didn’t think he’d ever approach anything resembling a proper height. Still, standing at 5’9 wasn’t awful. With a slight shrug he turned and left his room and started down the stairs. Approaching the kitchen he paused at the sound of harsh, low-toned conversation.

Harry sighed again and did an abrupt about face, freezing in place as the door opened behind him and a cold voice said, “Boy! I need you to go to the shops for your aunt.”

Harry resisted the urge to roll his eyes as he turned yet again and stared at his Uncle Vernon. “Yes, Uncle Vernon.”

“Here,” the man spat out, shoving notes into his hand along with a list. “Don’t feel you need hurry, either.”

Harry nodded, shoving the money in his pocket, then made his way to the front door and outside, pausing only long enough to grab a carrier. As he walked along the streets toward the shops he kicked at random pebbles and rocks he came across, taking out a tiny bit of his feelings in the violent movements. As he drew closer he pulled out the list and checked it, seeing with a flicker of surprise that there wasn’t much of anything written on it.

He gave another shrug and turned into Asda, walking along the aisles in a desultory fashion and plucking items from the shelves carelessly. Finally done, he dragged himself to the checkouts and waited until it was his turn, then tossed each item into a net bag before handing over the money. That being done, he trudged off to the baker’s for some fresh bread and rolls.

Once inside he rifled the racks with his eyes until he found that what he needed was present and approached the young man behind the display cases and gave his order. He rather distractedly watched the young man as he gathered items, noting without really thinking about it the graceful way he moved, the easy smile and confident manner.

He was awoken from his thoughts to hear, “Interesting scar you have there. Must have been some accident.”

Harry blinked up into sky blue eyes and said, “Er . . . yes.”

The young man noticed the uncomfortable look that flickered across Harry’s face and smiled. “Sorry. Ah well, we’ve all got scars somewhere, seen or unseen. Didn’t mean to bring up any bad memories or anything. My name’s Martin, by the way. Yours?”

“Uh, Harry. And it’s all right.” Harry shrugged uncomfortably. “How much do I owe you?”

Martin totaled things up and told him, took the money, then stood gazing at Harry’s back as he slowly left the shop.

*

Yet another day, and yet another round of shopping. Harry found himself walking into the baker’s again in search of fresh bread. He felt an odd sensation in his stomach as he opened the door and stepped through. He looked up to see Martin gazing at him curiously and felt a ghost of a smile cross his lips.

“The same again?” he heard Martin ask, as though he were a million miles away. Harry nodded and turned to face the window, gazing out at a street lit brightly with sunshine. How could the world look so beautiful when his heart was so shadowed with guilt and remorse? Still, he was slowly learning that not everything that went wrong could possibly be his fault.

He felt a tap on his shoulder and whirled around, hand reaching for his wand. Remembering where he was settled him, though his heart continued to beat fast. Sky blue eyes looked at him curiously again, accented by well-shaped brows draw together in a slight pucker of confusion.

“Er . . . Harry. Are you all right? I didn’t mean to startle you. I’m sorry.” Martin stepped back a pace and raised one eyebrow slightly.

Harry shook himself mentally and forced a smile onto his face. “No, it’s my fault. I must have been lost in my thoughts, that’s all.”

Martin nodded, though the odd expression never left his face. “I’ve got your things ready for you.” He turned and returned to his customary place behind the display cases and looked up expectantly, a smile once again gracing his mouth.

“Yes, all right. Of course. Sorry.” Harry moved up and rummaged in his pocket for money and handed it over in exchange for the goods.

As he turned to go he was stopped by Martin’s quiet voice. “Er, Harry . . . I know this may sound all together crazy but . . . you look like you could use someone to talk to, or at least hang out with. Ever learned any self-defense? I could teach you. Even if you don’t want to talk, it helps. Well, it helps me.”

Harry stood there for a while facing the door, wondering what to make of this particular offer. He wasn’t worried that this young man knew anything about him specifically. He did need something to do with his time, seeing as how his Aunt and Uncle seemed to prefer him being out of their sight as much as possible this summer.

They were probably hoping something horrific would befall him. He wouldn’t put it past them, after all. They might be keeping their hard hands and scathing voices off him for the most part, but he could feel the glares and see the revulsion in their faces when he did happen to look at them. What did he have to lose? Maybe Martin’s offer would be of some use. Even if he wasn’t willing to talk, maybe his offer of lessons would give him a way to physically express what he couldn’t say.

So he said, “Sure. Okay.”

After a pause he heard, “Why don’t you meet me back here at five. I get off then.”

Harry nodded his head and headed for the door, giving a slight backward wave as he left.

*

Martin looked up to see Harry lounging outside the shop and smiled. He hurried through his final duties for the day and stepped outside, locking the door behind him. “Are you ready?” he asked, and when Harry nodded continued, “Right, follow me then, okay?”

He walked away from the shop, glancing back over his shoulder to see if Harry was following him, then headed toward his house. Once inside he gestured toward the couch saying, “Please, have a seat. I need to get changed out of my work clothes. Feel free to raid the refrigerator if you like. I don’t mind. It’s just over there.”

Harry nodded and watched Martin ascend a staircase then entered the kitchen. The refrigerator was well-stocked so he pulled a soft drink from within and opened it, letting his eyes close as he drank. The slight burning sensation in his throat was pleasing in an odd way. He’d heard before that this stuff could remove rust from a car. It was a wonder that the human body could tolerate it.

Noise warned him of Martin’s approach and his eyes flicked open to see the young man stride in wearing much looser clothing than before. The pants were baggy and the shirt, if you could call it that, was wrapped in style, soft ties encircling the his waist to close in a knot at the front.

Martin’s voice shook him gently from his reverie. “If you want, I’ve laid out exercise clothes upstairs. It would be a lot more comfortable for you.” Martin tilted his head to one side. “They should fit you all right. We’re not that much different in size.”

Harry set down his drink and gave Martin a questioning look. “Yes, all right. Where exactly, please?”

“Just upstairs, second door on the left.”

Harry turned and left the kitchen, trudging up the stairs and into the second room on the left. Looking around, he realized it was a bedroom. Fat silver candlesticks rested on the mantelpiece of a fireplace along one wall, and several landscapes adorned the walls, their peaceful pastels complementing the cream-coloured walls and slate blue accents.

On the bed rested a similar set of clothing to what Martin was now wearing, and Harry made short work of stripping down and changing into them. It was odd wearing them. Clothing meant to be loose, rather than clothing loose only because they were hand-me-downs. He carefully hid his wand in his discarded shirt then went back downstairs to the kitchen to see Martin taking a swig of the drink he’d left behind.

“Hey! You look fine in those. Let’s go to my practice room and get started.”

Harry followed him down a hallway and into a large room, noting the mirrors that covered one entire wall.

“You’ve never done any self-defense before?” Martin asked quietly.

Harry shook his head. “Not like this, no.”

“Let’s get started then, shall we?”

Some time later, both boys were sodden with sweat and tired. Harry felt good though. Better than he had in a long time. The physical exercise had given him a chance to push aside all his problems for a while. He ran his fingers through his damp hair and smiled, the first real smile Martin had had a chance to witness.

“You did really well, Harry. That was great. Look, do you want a wash before you go?” Martin asked, tilting his head to one side.

“Yeah, thanks. Which room?” he replied, looking at the watchful eyes on him.

“Last door on the right. Towels are in there. I’ll just wait downstairs ‘til you’re done.”

Harry turned and left, headed up the stairs and grabbed his clothes, then went into the bathroom, locking the door behind him. He stripped down and placed everything into the hamper nearby and stepped into the shower. While adjusting the water’s temperature he thought it felt a little odd to be standing here, naked, in a virtual stranger’s home. With a shrug he let the lukewarm water play over his body and wash away the sweat.

Dressed and back downstairs he agreed to meet Martin here every evening at 5.15 to continue the lessons before he left, back to the Dursleys.

*

He’d been writing to Moony every few days to let him know he was all right. He’d told him he was taking lessons in self-defense as well, which Moony seemed to think was a brilliant idea. He never mentioned Voldemort though, nor his dreams. At least his own version of hell seemed to have frozen over a bit. It was never comfortable, but it was tolerable. Soon, perhaps, pigs would fly too.

Short letters had gone out to Ron and Hermione as well, but there wasn’t much to tell other than that he seemed to have made a local friend, and was spending his afternoons occupied with something other than chores or homework.

With a sigh that was more reflex than anything, he finished up his current letter and sent if off with Hedwig, then headed off to Martin’s house, wandering around in the front garden while he waited for the young man to arrive. The lessons were helping after all. He never had explained to Martin about anything, but the other man didn’t seem to mind, and certainly didn’t pry.

He had finally asked one day if it was just Martin, never having seen any signs of parents or siblings in the house and had been confirmed in the belief that the young man was on his own and made his living from the shop he ran. Young man was right, as Martin was only eighteen, barely much older than Harry himself. He always had watchful eyes though. It wasn’t unnerving, just . . . a little odd. Coming here made Harry happy for a while each day, though he still wasn’t sure quite why.

And then Martin arrived and they set off into the house to change and to lessons. Today was a little different though, as Martin asked if he wanted to stay a while afterward and eat there, watch a little television. Harry shrugged and agreed and went off to shower and change. Back downstairs he rummaged in the refrigerator for a soft drink and went out to slump on the sofa while Martin was upstairs.

He came out of his thoughts upon hearing footsteps and looked up to see Martin coming down the stairs wearing only a towel around his waist. His eyes widened just a little to see so much of the young man’s body exposed before him. He knew Martin was strong, but he’d never really thought about the consequences of that strength, and the realization hit him that it wasn’t really all that peculiar that Martin was sleekly muscled and moved with such grace.

“Hey,” he said, lifting his drink in a mock salute, and was rewarded with a charming smile.

“I’ll just get dinner started before I get changed. We took longer than usual and I hadn’t realized until now.” Martin turned and moved lazily into the kitchen, leaving Harry to his thoughts again.

*

Martin, for his part, had noticed the look on Harry’s face when he’d come down and felt a pleasant tingle course through his body at those watchful green eyes.

He quickly threw together a salad and put it in the refrigerator to stay chilled, then prepared two breasts of chicken and put them into the oven to bake. He grabbed a drink and went into the lounge and threw himself into a chair, not bothering to do anything about the towel that moved aside to expose his thigh. As he’d hoped, Harry’s eyes were drawn to the revealed flesh for a moment before they flicked away, and another tingle swept over his skin.

After a few minutes of companionable silence he placed his drink on the side table and stood saying, “I forgot, I need to get changed. I’ll be back in a few minutes, Harry.” Seeing a slight nod, he continued on upstairs to his bedroom. He hadn’t started all this with an eye toward seducing the youth. He’d only seen what looked like someone severely in need of a friend or some distraction from the troubles that haunted Harry’s eyes.

After dinner the two slumped on the sofa and watched the television, making intermittent conversation about Harry’s progress. Harry never was very talkative and that hadn’t much changed. It wasn’t until he felt pressure on his shoulder that Martin realized that they hadn’t spoken in a while. He turned his head to see Harry resting against him with his eyes closed and lips slightly parted.

The look on his face was another first. In sleep he looked peaceful, even innocent. None of whatever was troubling him showed now in this unguarded moment. Martin couldn’t help but smile and carefully wrapped one arm around the younger boy, turning his eyes back to the television. Every so often Harry would shift against him, moving a little deeper into his one-armed embrace, finally sliding down until his head rested in Martin’s lap.

Unwilling to disturb Harry, Martin continued to watch the program, but let his fingers idly roam through Harry’s messy hair, wondering how something so wild could be so incredibly soft. Eventually Harry awoke, rubbing his eyes with his fists and yawning widely. He smiled sleepily as he pulled himself up into a sitting position.

“Sorry about that. I must have dozed off,” Harry said still rubbing at his eyes. “What time is it?”

“Just gone eight is all. Did you want to go?”

“No, I’m fine. They don’t care what time I come home anyway.” Harry ran his fingers through his hair and leaned back to stare at the ceiling.

Harry never really had explained about his family, but Martin didn’t mind. He wasn’t about to pry, even though curiosity ate at him sometimes seeing the look in Harry’s eyes each day.

“Harry?” he asked quietly.

“Mmm?”

“I’m really glad I made that offer that day. I’ve come to like you a great deal, even if you are the silent type. I was . . . well, I was wondering something.”

Sleepy eyes turned toward him slowly.

“Maybe it’s a bit strange but . . . have you ever kissed another guy?” Martin asked hesitantly.

Harry yawned and stretched as he appeared to consider that. “No, I haven’t. But I’m starting to wonder about it,” he said honestly. “I’ve only ever kissed a girl before, and that isn’t saying much.”

“Would you . . . consider kissing me?”

Harry smiled and lifted his head, turning toward Martin. “I’d be willing to try.”

Martin shivered slightly at the response and leaned in toward him, bringing one hand up to slide around the back of Harry’s neck and pull him closer. He lowered his face to Harry’s and brushed his lips across his in a feathery motion then licked at Harry’s lower lip before biting gently. He shivered again as Harry’s lips parted, and moved to straddle Harry’s legs without breaking contact, then slid his tongue inside Harry’s willing mouth to slowly explore and feel the liquid warmth that enveloped him.

A wave of pleasure swept through his body like a blush as he heard the younger boy moan beneath him at his gentle assault, encouraging him to explore and to slide his tongue against Harry’s own. Martin could feel his arousal swell, and Harry’s own, as he left that delicious mouth to trail his tongue across Harry’s face to his ear, stopping to suck lightly on an earlobe before making his way down the smooth column of the other boy’s neck, all the while listening to the soft moans he was eliciting.

*

Harry hadn’t any clue what to expect. His kisses with Cho were confused by so many other things getting in the way and in the end, meant practically nothing. He’d felt as though he’d been tricked in a way. Cho liking him, and him liking her, had been wonderful for those brief times, but in the end, he could not stop himself thinking that it was like so many others. No one really knew what he was about or who he was, except perhaps Ron and Hermione, and even then he knew he’d been wearing a mask of sorts. Did anyone see him for himself, and not the Boy Who Lived?

But this . . . this was excruciatingly pleasurable. This was someone who simply liked him as a person, someone who was doing exquisite things to him, making his head spin like a whirlpool of pure ecstasy. He didn’t hear anything at all, just felt those marvelous lips and tongue working magic in his mouth, on his skin. He didn’t care that it was another boy. Nothing mattered for the moment except the tingles of pleasure rippling though his body.

Of their own accord his hands rose to wrap themselves around Martin’s body, sliding across the fabric covering him and down to roam across his denim-clad backside and back up wantonly. From far away he began to hear soft moans and sighs and felt himself being lowered down onto the couch, knees nudging his legs apart as Martin settled between them and on top of him.

Martin’s mouth claimed his again in a dance of tongues and began rubbing his body against him, creating a sweet friction of impending madness, making him arch up off the couch with repeated low moans into the other man’s mouth. Martin finally broke away, breathing as harshly as he himself was, and gazed with hazy blue eyes into his own.

“Wow,” was all Martin could say after a moment.

“Mmm,” Harry replied languidly, his mind still reeling around in drunken circles.

Martin laid his head on Harry’s chest and relaxed against him, his breathing slowly regaining its normal tempo. “I didn’t expect it to be like that,” Martin said finally in a hushed tone. “I think I’d like to try that again sometime soon.”

“I think I would too,” Harry replied softly, “but not tonight. I need to get home sometime, much as I hate the idea.”

Martin kissed Harry’s chest lightly before pulling himself up and moving over so that Harry could rise. He smiled sheepishly and hit the remote to turn off the television before turning back.

“Yeah. We have plenty of time. I’ll see you again tomorrow, at the usual time?”

The corner of Harry’s mouth quirked up before he spoke. “Yeah, the usual time.” Then he rose and made his way home.

*

A week later Martin stepped out of the shower to find Harry standing there watching him with a slight smile on his face, wearing only a pair of baggy jeans. Trying to stay collected, Martin reached for a towel and wrapped it casually around his waist before saying, “This is a little different.”

“I thought we might try something else this evening. But,” and Harry raised his hand up, “I think there should be no misunderstandings between us.”

Martin nodded and shifted his weight.

“I like you a lot, and I like what we’ve been sharing. But I can’t lie and tell you something like I love you, because I don’t, and I don’t know how you feel about things.”

Martin gave him a slow smile and reached out, grabbing Harry’s hand and squeezing gently. “It’s all right. I like you a great deal, but I don’t think I’m ready for something like a serious relationship. I am enjoying your company immensely though.”

Harry smiled and turned, pulling Martin after him, heading toward the bedroom he usually changed in, and once inside flicked the towel away from Martin’s form in one smooth motion. Stepping back Harry undid his jeans and slid them off, tossing them to one side, then knelt on the bed. “I want to know what you taste like,” he said huskily, giving Martin the impetus to join him and lie down on the soft coverings.

Harry knelt over him with a slight smirk on his face, letting his eyes roam across the body before him before settling himself between Martin’s legs and pressing the length of his body against the other man’s, dropping his mouth to Martin’s in a passionate kiss. When they broke for breath Harry began kissing across Martin’s jaw line to his neck, and then alternating between kisses and mock-savage bites.

Harry lifted his head long enough to say, “I don’t want you to do anything at all. Just let me taste you,” before continuing his assault.

*

Harry climbed the steps toward his bedroom and once inside closed the door behind him quietly and flung himself across the bed. The minutes ticked away quietly as he thought about what he and Martin had done this evening, and a smile crept across his face. It had certainly been an experience to take his mind off his troubles for a while, and had more than clarified a few things about himself.

After spending some time on summer homework, he rose and stripped down, then lay down and let himself be claimed in sleep.

He could feel the warmth emanating from the fireplace behind his throne-like chair as his mouth twisted in a grotesque smile. The sight of the minion prostrated before him in screaming pain was as amusing as the information he’d just been given, leaving him in a state of gleeful anticipation.

Thirty seconds later he released the curse, waiting until the twitching man had dragged himself back to his place in the circle before calling Wormtail forward to report.

Peter scurried forward and dropped to the floor in obeisance before speaking in a high-pitched whine. “Master, as you asked, I followed them and—”

“Took weeks to return? How very thorough of you. Crucio!”

He chuckled maliciously as the shrieks began. Peter was becoming something of a liability, and a risk. Perhaps instead he could soon become an example. The shrieks grew in intensity, covering his softly spoken words from the remainder of his minions. “Yes, the blood of my enemy will serve me yet again, in a way not even that old fool would think of. Yes indeed.”

Harry bolted upright in bed, one hand firmly pressed to his scar in a futile attempt to block out the burning pain of Wormtail’s punishment. His free hand fumbled on the nightstand for his glasses, and having slipped them on, he swung his feet to the floor and shuffled to his desk. He hastily wrote out a letter about his vision and glanced over at Hedwig, surprised to see her staring at him fixedly.

He folded his letter and shoved it in an envelope and addressed it, attaching it to Hedwig’s leg as soon as she fluttered down beside him. “Please take this to Dumbledore, Hedwig. It’s urgent. Fly carefully.” He stroked her head a few times and received an affectionate nip in return. With a soft hoot, she flew off into the darkness.

*

Two days later Hedwig arrived, swooping through the open window and into her cage where she drank deeply from her water dish. Harry half leapt to his feet, but subsided when he saw she carried no letter for him. Despite repeated questions, all she would do is gaze at him with those huge yellow eyes and hoot reassuringly.

Harry threw his hands up into the air, frustrated and angry, and paced the confines of his room, muttering to himself all the while. Just as he was working himself up into a fine froth, Fawkes arrived in a flash of light, startling Harry enough that he tripped and landed on his backside.

He shot Fawkes a disgruntled look and heaved himself off the floor to take the note the phoenix held.

“Thank you, Fawkes,” he said as he flipped it open.

Harry,

As soon as you are packed, Fawkes will see to bringing you elsewhere.

Albus Dumbledore

He looked up at Fawkes in confusion. “Bring me? Where?”

Fawkes trilled at him melodiously, which made him feel calmer, but no less confused.

“I guess I’d better pack.” He shoved the note in his pocket and started gathering his things, shoving them into his trunk any which way; clothing he didn’t care about filled in the cracks. When he was done he wrote out a short note for his aunt and uncle and left it on the bed.

After a last glance around the room he grabbed the handle of his trunk and looked at Fawkes, who trilled and produced a sad-looking elastic from the depths of his feathers and dropped it on the desk.

Harry shrugged and grabbed it, feeling almost immediately the pull behind his navel.