He isn’t exactly sure what brought him to this part of Little Whinging, other than the fact that he’d been getting sick of the Dursleys.
He’d left the place in favor for a breath of fresh air, tired of hearing Aunt Petunia scream and yell at him from the other room, of Uncle Vernon glaring at him with smoldering eyes, of Dudley ganging up on him with his crew.
He’s used to this, sure. Been living with it for fourteen years. It’s been worse than this, really. Before he had gotten his letter and he didn’t have a room of his own or a wand to terrify his relatives with (not that he’d ever actually use it). When he’d been locked in the cupboard under the stairs for days at a time. He wasn’t experiencing that anymore.
Still, after four years of feeling like he belonged, going back to the Dursleys in the summers was getting harder and harder each time. And today, Harry just couldn’t take the piercing eyes, the stifling silence, and the monotonous chores any longer.
So he left.
Now he’s here, wandering down Palmers Road in the chilly night air, with no set direction. He’s just. Walking. Not lost, or running away. Just..Walking.
Then he finds himself stopping in the middle of the sidewalk, right by an old bookstore with an electronics shop just across the street. The alley in between them is dark and musty, and Harry would have continued walking but…
There was a reason he stopped.
Something about that alley...made him pause.
Now, a normal person would continue on their way, if a bit cautious. Harry...is not normal.
So he goes and turns down the alley.
A Gryffindor at heart, Harry feels barely any fear, only curiosity. There’s something strange in the air, he can tell. Magical, he doesn’t know. But as he makes his way down the dead end path, avoiding trash and pieces of broken glass, he begins to question if his going here was a good idea.
Suspicion laced with a cautious movement gets him to the back of the alley, and Harry stops. At the end of the short road was a large cardboard box, on it’s side. It was damp at the top and bottoms, and it was sunken in a bit. But hanging from the opening was a sheet, blowing softly in the wind.
Harry’s eyes were wide. Someone was living in this alley.
The strange feeling was only getting stronger the closer he got to the box. And despite his instincts screaming at him to turn back, run away, get away he continued on. Who was living here? Or what?
He was just about to shift the sheet aside to peer into the box when a sound hit his ears. Panicking, he reeled away, backtracking so fast he kicked a wine bottle towards the alley wall hard enough to shatter it. Harry winced. That was it. His cover was blown.
Nothing was happening. No voices asking who’s there, no growls, not even a moan. It was dead quiet in this place, aside from Harry’s own ragged breathing. But the sound he heard earlier, that scared him out of his skin…
There! There is was again! It was coming from the box! It sounded like...a cough?
Further curious, and no longer terrified for his life, Harry went back to the sheet. He moved it aside, on top of the box, and looked in.
Harry felt his breath stop.
Inside was a folded up, ragged blanket positioned so that it covered the entire floor of the box. There was another, equally ragged blanket on top.
This blanket was shaking.
Harry crept ever closer, careful to be as quiet as he could. As he did, the shaking pile made another sound.
Another cough, a pitiful sounding whine at the end. Concern and curiosity meshed together, and slowly, Harry lifted a part of the tattered blanket up.
And found a child snuggled tightly inside.
When Harry had started on his walk down the neighborhood of Little Whinging, he expected to walk, let off some steam, and nothing else.
Finding a child living in a cardboard box in the uncaring streets of his unfortunate home, was definitely not his plan.
Not calling the cops about it had also not been part of his plan.
But that all changed when he got a good, clear look at the shivering kid.
Dirty, curly pink hair in a tangled mess, pale, pale skin that when under the light gave off a slight pink hue. And a large pink gemstone under the child’s shirt, which had ridden up as Harry checked the unconscious kid for any injuries.
He was dealing with some sort of magical creature, Harry was sure of it.
So, yeah, the police was out of the question. Any muggle was out of the question. This kid was magical, no doubt about it. The softly glowing gemstone certainly proved that.
Magical alignment aside, this kid needed help. And Harry was the only wizard around for miles, despite being underage. Muggles wouldn’t know what to do with them.
Yeah, he didn’t want to think about that.
Back to the child, they were burning up. Their cheeks were flushed an even darker pink than the gem in their belly, and they were shaking like a leaf. Harry’s heart clenched at the sight. They didn’t have any obvious injuries, aside from a couple bruises and cuts and scrapes. But what really got him concerned was the fact that they looked as though they were once rather chubby, but had wasted away.
Honestly, Harry didn’t know what to do.
The child let out another painful sounding cough, and suddenly Harry’s mind was made up.
It was a good idea he had a few pounds in his pocket.
When he returned to the alley not too long after, a couple bags of items from the nearest 24-hour in his hands, the child hadn’t woken up yet.
Harry couldn’t decide whether or not that was good or bad, so he just focused on the task at hand. Retrieving the bottle of fever medicine, forehead thermometer, and cold compress from one bag, he set to work.
(Giving an unconscious kid liquid medicine was not easy, but he did his best.)
Now, with a read temperature of 103.4 degrees (Harry winced at the sight), a dose of medicine, and a cold rag on the child’s forehead, things were finally looking up.
Of course, that’s when the kid chose to wake up.
Harry was in the middle of planning just what he would do with this child he found when he heard them shift in their blankets. His eyes immediately snapped back to them, and went wide with shock.
Glazed, dark pink eyes blankly stared up at his own emerald green. It took a moment, but the kid’s eyes met his. They blinked. Then the kid shifted once more in their blankets, let out a shaky sigh, and closed their eyes again.
Well, darn. Harry was quite looking forward to speaking to them actually. Oh well. He’ll let them sleep. But that still left the question of what he was going to do.
This kid was obviously homeless, if the tattered clothes, zero supplies, and living in a freaking alleyway was any proof. They were magical, of the unknown sort as well. Harry didn’t know whether or not they were like him, or something else entirely. That just made the situation even more troubling.
One thing was for sure though: Harry can’t leave them here to fend for themself. There was a high chance that the kid could have died if no one like Harry hadn’t found them. And there was also a high risk of them being taken away for unknown reasons if they had been. So what exactly should he do?
“I’m going to help you.” He whispers into the night air. It falls on deaf ears to the sleeping child beside him, but Harry pays no mind. When he was alone in the world, there’d been people who eventually came to help him, like the Weaselys and Hermione and Hagrid. No one has been there to help this child for awhile, that he can tell. And because it hurts to see parallels as obvious as this, Harry can’t stop himself from swearing he’d do what he could to help this kid out as well.
But it was getting late. He should really head back before Aunt Petunia throws a fit. He’d come back tomorrow, see if they wake up then.
Mind and plan made up, Harry left the other bag full of light food and water at the child’s side, the new blankets, medicine and everything, and left the box.
He looked back to see the kid curling up around their new blankets. And if he looked closely, they didn’t seem to be shivering quite so much anymore.
This may not have been Harry’s plan for the evening, but hey, it was worth it.
He came back the next day, sneaking out after breakfast.
The child was in the same spot, still sound asleep. But Harry was pleased to see that the flush on their cheeks wasn’t as dark as it was yesterday. And as he looked around the box, he saw that the bag of food had been looked through. The box of unsalted crackers was open, as well as the container of water.
‘So they did wake up.’ Harry thought to himself. Or, at least, woke up enough to nibble on some crackers and take a drink of water. Nonetheless, they took his offerings, and he was happy about that.
It was currently 9:02, and Harry had decided to send out a letter to Hermione last night at eight. He had asked her about any kind of magical creature that was humanoid, pink in color, with gemstones on their bodies. If anyone could find out what the child was, it was her.
Speaking of that child, Harry noticed with rising glee that they seemed to be stirring. Snapping out of his thoughts, he knelt down at the edge of the box, watching the kid shift around for a moment until finally, they opened their magenta-colored eyes again.
It didn’t really happen as he expected it to.
Instead, at the last moment, the kid let out a sharp gasp, and bolted straight up from their blankets. Their eyes were blown wide and they were gasping for breath, and Harry really couldn’t take much more of this.
His hand came to rest on their trembling shoulder, and he may not be the most well-versed on how to comfort someone (actually, he was more awkward than anything) he did the best he could to console the shaken pink child.
“Hey, hey, it’s alright. You’re safe. Uh...just..listen to my voice okay? Can you do that?” He honestly had no idea what he was doing, but he pressed on anyway.
“Um, so, my name’s Harry. I’m the one who gave you the new blankets and food. If you remember. Dunno if you do. But..I found you here, all alone.” His grip on the kid tighten just slightly, and he noticed with relief that the kid was seeming to calm down. So he continued.
“I don’t know much about first aid, but I did give you a dose of fever medicine. And i don’t know how your uh...gem, responds to medicine so I hope I made the right choice but, it does look like your fever went down so I probably did.”
At this point the child was no longer on the verge of hyperventilating, and the shaking was going down. The kid’s dull pink eyes found his just then, and Harry paused.
They stared at each other for a moment or two, then, Harry heard a quiet, barely audible, “thank you.”
Harry smiled what he hoped was a reassuring, warm smile, and said, “no problem.”
The kid looked down, at Harry’s hand still loosely holding their shoulder (which Harry quickly dropped), at the bags of supplies around the box, then their hand slowly went to clutch at their stomach, where their gem was.
It was so quiet Harry could barely hear it, but he heard the kid when they said very softly,
“My name’s Steven.”
Chapter 2: Steven
Steven thinks about the events leading up to him meeting Harry, plays some card games, and visits the park.
Had a bit of trouble posting this chapter and accidently created a double of the first, but, I think I got it figured out!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The last thing Steven remembers seeing before he came to this strange new world was the dawning horror on Garnet’s face as he was ripped away from her.
It had been weeks since that day, and yet he still sees her face every night in his dreams.
He sees all of them. Pearl, Amethyst, Connie, his Dad. But not how he wants to.
Steven had tried to use his dream powers on the first night to connect them, but for some reason it hadn’t worked. He had panicked, tried again and again to connect to some part of his home; the Watermelons, Lars, Lapis, Kiki - all the people he had connected with before were unreachable.
It had been a while since he had a good night's sleep.
The first week of his being dumped here was especially hard. After he had failed to reach his family, Steven had noticed something even more confounding.
He was pink.
Not like Rose/Pink Diamond’s, or his Gem’s pink, however. His curls were more like a deep reddish pink, with his eyes being magenta, thankfully with no diamond pupils. And his skin, oh stars, his skin looked like it’d gained a pink hue.
He’d stared at himself in the broken mirror of his then-current shelter, unable to tear his eyes away from the changes. It was so wrong and so sudden and what happened to him?
And then there was the fact that he was a kid again.
Honestly, Steven had been so freaked out already he barely had any more room to be shocked about this. After all, he’d had his age messed up before.
But he couldn’t turn back to being sixteen.
He had no idea if it was due to stress, fatigue, or the sudden loss of his powers because oh, wouldn’t that be swell? Stuck in a place far from home with no powers! How fun!
But then he discovered he still had his shield, and his bubble. He could still float, too. But no shapeshifting, no dream powers, nothing that could actually help him now.
It had taken a long time for him to find the strength to continue moving.
When he did, though, things only got worse. He had found that the people here did not respect those of ‘abnormal’ appearance, not like the humans of his home could.
He figured it out when he went into a small store to get some supplies and everyone screamed.
At first he had thought it was because he looked like he’d just been hit by a train (or maybe that’s just how he felt) but then he saw them pointing, and heard them whispering about his hair, and his strange, strange eyes. And suddenly it got to be too much. He had fled the store with nothing bought, fled the staring and the screaming, and left.
There was no one he could turn to here
He had been in an alleyway, out of sight, out of options, out of help ever since.
And things only got worse.
Living on the streets was tiring. He would scrounge for supplies at night, when no one else was around, then head back to his make-shift shelter when it got bright again. He didn’t break into any shops (that was stealing, stealing is wrong), didn’t take from people, and didn’t ask anyone for help.
(How can he, when the moment he tries to, he’s met with fear and anger from anyone he meets?)
He’s not used to this.
After the first few weeks, he’d started to get weak. And as the days went on, and he went out less and less, he could tell he was starting to fade away. His old resolve was broken, shattered in this unfamiliar world.
He wanted to go home. Too bad he couldn’t even leave the alley.
Then he got sick, and everything fell apart.
It was unavoidable, with the way he had been living.
Steven was sure he would have died had it not been for the boy with the lightning bolt scar.
He had been so out of it, drifting from fever dream to fever dream, and unable to do anything. But then along came Harry, the first kind soul he’s seen for what felt like ages, who came to help him without any hesitation.
He didn’t even mention that Steven was obviously different.
It had definitely taken some time for him to think clearly, even with the medicine Harry had given him. But now, three days after the bespeckled boy found him, he was finding his strength again.
In more ways than one.
Harry had come by to see him each day. Once in the morning and once in the evening. He would see how he was doing and they’d talk a bit, and each time Steven felt a little bit of the walls he’d formed lessen in size. Harry knew what he was - Steven had told him on the second day - and Harry had not been frightened like everyone else. He had quietly listened as Steven told him his situation, and Harry took it all as though Steven was just telling him about the weather.
It was more than Steven could ask for.
All he needed was a friend. And now he had one.
Speaking of Harry, he was coming back again. Steven snapped out of his thoughts and put down the book that Harry brought him yesterday that he had been blankly staring at and poked his head out of the box.
There was his new friend, smiling at him from the other side.
“Hey, Steven,” Harry greeted him, “You seem to be doing better today.”
Steven nodded and smiled back.
“My fever’s gone, and I am feeling better.” Harry grinned widely at that, and then pulled something out of his pocket. It was a deck of cards.
“Good that, cause now we can play this. Lots of games we could try out. I figured it’d get boring in here,” Harry opened the box and began shuffling them. “Also figured you could play this when I’m not here too, like, a game of solitaire or something. Play against yourself.”
Steven laughed. He had the sudden vision of him playing a game of cards with his gem half.
“Or I could make a tower of cards.” He took the cards Harry was giving him as he chuckled and put them in a pile. “Build them on top of the box.”
“Might not last long, though. With the wind, and all,” Harry pointed out. “But it would be fun to make.” Steven nodded and made a noise of agreement. The game began.
They played a few rounds, and ate a couple snacks Harry brought with him together. And as they did, they talked. About small things, like Harry’s pet owl and Steven’s pet lion, (“You have a lion?!”) to big things like the friends they made, (Harry tells him about his letter to Hermione, and how he’d never gotten a response, which had only added to his own frustrations until Steven answered the question he had for her) and the adventures they’ve had.
Steven learns that Harry is different too. It’s kind of hard not to, when he heard he’s seen things like three-headed dogs and ogres and unicorns.
And if that left him feeling free to talk about his terrible situation and exchange dramatic tellings about the horrors they’ve gone through, well, blame it on that fact then.
Their story-telling and card-playing got so deep that they almost lost track of time until Harry looked down at his watch and saw that it was half past noon.
“Ah, darn. I need to get going soon or Aunt Petunia’s gonna have a fit. Again. Chores, ya know? Gotta get them done sometime.” Steven and Harry sigh together, as Harry packs his things. Steven really doesn’t want him to leave. And as Harry turns with a wave to walk back home, Steven finds himself holding the other boys’ sleeve, with a “wait,” slipping out. The taller boy looks down, and opens his mouth to speak, but before he could Steven tells him,
“I just...wanted to say thank you. For everything you’ve done for me.” He’s looking at the ground, but raises his head when he says that so that Harry could see his eyes. “Really, you’ve...made it so much better already. But…” He finds himself trailing off, a sigh escaping his lips.
Harry puts a gentle hand on his shoulder, and Steven is reminded of when he did so when he first met the boy.
“You don’t have to thank me,” Harry tells him softly. “Honestly, you’ve made my summer better too. I’m usually just alone these days, but now I’ve got a friend to talk to and hang out with.”
Steven finds himself smiling again. Leave it to Harry to turn the gratitude around. But then the smile falls, and he goes back to thinking of what he was before.
“It’s just...I really want to leave this place. I want to find my family. I want to find out why I’m pink, and small, and everything else. But...I can’t. I’ve got nowhere to go. I don’t know where I am or why I can’t contact the Gems, and I don’t know what to do!” Tears spring from his eyes, as he lets out all his worries he’s been building up for weeks now. Harry takes it all with a quiet sigh and a tight hand on his shoulder, grounding him.
“And I can’t even go outside this box. The people here aren’t used to aliens, people like me. They can’t help me. But I want to leave. I just...wish I could do that with no one staring at me because I look this way.” Tears are dripping from his cheeks to the asphalt ground of the alley, and he watches them plop to the ground with a hollowness in his chest. He feels as rough as he did back in Rose’s room when he was accusing her of all her crimes. The feeling of admitting something so deep making him feel so, so empty. He almost drowns.
Then Harry is there. Arms around his shoulders, a little hesitant at first. He’s leaning down to hug him and Steven returns it with a quiet sigh.
He probably shouldn’t have dumped all that on him. He’s only known the guy for a few days, and he’s already helped him so many times. But he can’t deny the fact that he feels so much better after having admitted this.
“You know what?” Harry murmurs from where he’s resting his chin on Steven’s head. “I think I know a way to fix this.” Harry tightens the hug for a moment then lets go, and Steven watches as he turns back around.
“I’ll be right back, I promise!” And Steven is certain. He dries his tears and watches his friend run back to his house, and he feels lighter than he’s felt in so long.
Maybe everything will turn out okay, as long as he has Harry.
Harry isn’t gone for long, and Steven is just finished making a miniature tower of cards when he hears him return. He raises his head to greet him and is met with cloth being thrown at him.
He fumbles and catches it, and doesn’t have any time to make an assertive comment before Harry is explaining himself.
“An invisibility cloak. Really wonder why I’ve not thought of it until now.” he tells him, and Steven is left sputtering. He looks down at the cloak in his arms with shock, and finds that parts of his arms are gone.
“How...you...I know you’re magic too but...this is way more complex than what I’m used to. Magical objects?!” He stands up and swings the cloak over himself, watching in wonder as his body disappears underneath it, leaving behind nothing. Like he’s not even there.
Harry walks up and pulls the cloak over Steven’s head, smiling proudly. He looks in his direction says,
“So how’s the park sound?”
Harry nods. “Yeah, figured It’d be a nice place to hang out. There we can discuss what we can do while we have fun out in the open, and we won’t have to worry about anyone seeing you cause you’ll be covered by the cloak.”
Steven feels himself smiling widely. It’s the most he’s ever smiled since he got here. “You’re a genius, Harry.”
And they leave the alley.
They have fun walking there, down Magnolia Crescent to Magnolia Road. Harry pointing out places he’s been and Steven looking at the bustling city around him, mindful of not bumping into anyone as they can’t see him. Steven doesn’t speak much when they’re near people, and neither does Harry, knowing that would look weird as they’d only see Harry and think he was talking to himself, but they still manage to have moments to talk freely. Steven does walk a little slow though, as he’s still recovering, legs still a bit shaky. Harry does his best to keep a slow, steady pace.
When they get there, at the deserted little play park, they each take a seat at one of the swings, and Steven wonders how it would look if someone saw one of these swings up high without anyone on them (or so they thought).
As they swing, they talk. Harry takes the reins, and tells Steven his plan and about how he had thought about asking the Weasleys to take him in. Steven listens on, grateful to finally be talking about plans, as Harry explains what he can about the wizarding world and about how they had to accept him into Hogwarts. (“You’re clearly magical and I’ve not seen any letters telling me I’ve broken the magical law, so there.”)
Neither of them notice the looming form of one Dudley Dursley and his gang, walking up the hill.
Or the swarm of Dementors, either.
Steven feels as though something’s wrong as they’re discussing the dorm-rooms at Hogwarts. He trails off in the middle of his sentence about how he’d love to stay in the Hufflepuff’s dormitory and looks beyond the gate they snuck across.
“Steven? You alright, mate? You kinda trailed off.” Harry notices him looking in the distance. “You see something?”
“I thought I-”
“Well, if it isn’t ickle Pottykins, talking to himself,” came a sneering voice from behind the gate. Harry turned abruptly on his swing and Steven turned as well, albeit a bit slower. There was anger on Harry’s face now, and Steven could only guess that these were the boys in Dudley’s gang that Harry had once told him all about.
“Just as expected from a freak like you.” Piers taunted, and Steven saw Harry’s knuckles clench. The other two boys beside Piers laughed at this, but the biggest boy in the front didn’t. He was scowling loudly.
“Who’s this Steven you’re ‘talking’ to?” Another boy said. “‘S’it your imaginary friend?”
“Haha! Good one! Freaky Potter’s got no friends, so he makes them up in his head, just like the freak he is.” Piers laughed. Steven was just about done with this group of bullies.
Making sure no one was looking in his direction, Steven grabbed onto the edge of the invisibility cloak. Just as Piers was about to make another insult, Steven quickly took it off, as he says cooly,
“Actually, he does have a friend. And I’m right here.”
The four boys before them are still as they stare at him.
“Hi, my name’s Steven,” he greets.
He watches with pleasure as the four boys scream in fright. It doesn’t feel as bad when he wants them to have this reaction this time.
“Oh, F- What just-”
“Uh uh, that’s unnatural.”
“Let’s get out of here, man, this is too freaky for me.”
Steven watches them scramble to run away, falling over each other as he and Harry laugh with glee.
“Oh, that was hilarious. Oh, Steven, you never told me you could mess with people.”
Steven thinks back to the times when Amethyst used to mess with Pearl.
“I’ve had a good teacher, I guess.”
The two of them laugh for a few more moments before Harry stands up to stretch.
“Think we should be heading back. We can talk more about our plans tomorrow.”
Steven nods and stands up, pulling the cloak back over him, and follows Harry back to the alley.
They never make it there.
A longer chapter because you all deserve it, a cliffhanger because I'm just that horrible. What can I say, suspense is fun to write! See you all next time!