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Raven's Colours

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Freak walked down the unremarkable suburban street with measured steps, wary of uneven sections of footpath. His special colours let him see the vague shape of the world around him, but details were fuzzy, and it was all too easy to nick an uneven curb and end up with more grazes and cuts. He was humming tunelessly to himself, paying attention only to putting one foot in front of another, the fading glow that was all that remained of his sight told him that the sun was close to setting. When it was properly dark he could start to find his way back to the house. Any earlier, and the guests would still be there, and freaks weren't to be seen by guests. That was important.

He was interrupted from his reverie by a noise along the street in front of him. It was a person walking, a woman, he could tell, because the shoes sounded like Petunia's 'going out' shoes. He slowed his pace, looking in the direction of the sound, as it — she — came closer. Keeping his eyes averted, because "nobody wants to look at your freaky face", he couldn't help but marvel at the shape coming into focus in his special colours. Instead of just a greyish blob, like Petunia and Vernon and Dudley and the neighbours, this lady had colours! Swirls of bright blue and pinkish orange like he'd never seen before — not even before Dudley spilt the stuff in his eyes that really, really, really hurt, and made him not able to see anymore. Freak was so busy marvelling at the colourful lady, that he forgot to concentrate on not being noticed like he usually did. He didn't know how it worked, but sometimes if he thought really hard about being invisible, people would walk straight past without noticing him. Thus it was that he heard the woman pause in her steps, as she noticed the small form hesitantly doddering along the footpath before her. Freak heard her draw breath, so decided to speak first to allay any fears he would do anything freaky near her.

"Don't mind me, I won't be any bother, I promise," his small, squeaky voice announced.

"Hello, what's your name? What are you doing out here on your own? It's nearly dark." replied the colourful woman, with a voice much nicer than Freak had ever heard addressed to him before. It made him feel tingly inside, and not in a bad way like when Petunia forgot to give him food for a few days.

"I'm jus' Freak. You don't want to talk to me," stuttered the little boy, continuing, "Petunia and Vernon have guests over, and freaks aren't to be seen by guests," he recited.

"B-but," he started, before the lady could tell him to go away and leave the poor normal people alone, "I, um, just wanted to say, your colours are really... pretty. I've never seen someone with colours like me before," he babbled embarrassedly.

"My... colours, you said? What do you mean, my colours?" asked the woman patiently.

Surprised and pleased to be asked a real question for the first time he could remember, Freak was happy to answer. "my, uh, eyes, they don't really work," he said, waving a hand in the direction of his face. "But if I try hard, I can kinda see colours around me sometimes. Helps me not get lost, because the house has colours but nowhere else does. And I've got colours in me too, 'specially after Vernon h— after I fall down the stairs. I'm very clumsy," he added, a little too quickly. "I've never seen someone else with colours like you! Vernon and Petunia and Dudley and everyone are all kinda grey, I can't see them much. But you're blue, and orange, and pink, and... yeah," he finished quietly. He waited, unsure what to make of the prolonged silence.

Finally the woman responded, and he let out a breath of relief that she didn't sound like Petunia when she got mad, merely cautious. "Do you know what 'muggle' means?" she asked slowly, like it was a very important question.

"No, I don't, I'm sorry," said Freak quietly, worried that the colourful lady would stop talking to him now.

"That's completely fine," she quickly reassured, before continuing, "Don't you think your mummy and daddy might be worried about you?"

"Oh no," responded Freak quickly, "They're dead. And Petunia won't want me home until after dark, when the guests are gone. Otherwise I'll get put in my cupboard and won't get any dinner tomorrow neither," he babbled, before breathing in sharply and looking panicked. He groped in front of him to find the woman's arm, and clung on with bony fingers. "Wasn't meant to say that," he squeaked in a rush. "Please, please don't tell them I said that please, I'm very sorry, Freak's not even meant to talk to strangers," he continued, becoming increasingly frantic.

"Shhhh, it's alright, it's alright," came the voice of the woman, and Freak felt her arms slowly go around his middle as she knelt down. It felt nice, and he told her so.

"Can you listen carefully to me? I need you to come with me. I promise I won't let you get in trouble for it. But first I need something to call you that isn't Fr— isn't what you called yourself before. Do you want to pick something, or will I?"

The boy only pulled his head closer to her bosom, too overwhelmed to answer.

"Alright then. How does... 'Raven' sound? Like the bird. Because of your black hair," said the colourful lady kindly.

A nod into her chest was her answer.

"Excellent. Raven, my name is Andromeda, but I want you to call me Andy. I'm going to do something now, and it might make you feel a bit ill, but it's important, and afterwards you can have some dinner and go to bed. How does that sound, Raven?"

After a moment, a small voice mumbled "okay" into her cardigan.

After a quick glance around the gloomy and deserted street, Andy twisted on her heel with a crack, a small boy in oversized clothes clutched tight in her arms.