AU (No Magic) The Dream Tennis Team: Riddle, Snape, Granger, Thomas, Finnegan, Malfoy, and Weasley, needed one more star. They got one better; they got Harry Potter, a smart, wisecracking boy wonde...
Disclaimer: On the new book that just came out, did anyone see my name anywhere on it...no didn't think so.
A/N: Thanks for the wonderful reviews. I appreciate every single one. Finally, if there are any comments, questions, or criticisms, please review!
Summary: AU (No Magic) The Dream Tennis Team: Riddle, Snape, Granger, Thomas, Finnegan, Malfoy, and Weasley, needed one more star. They got one better; they got Harry Potter, a smart, wisecracking boy wonder with high dreams to fulfill and the skills to accomplish them.
A small boy raced through the weed-ridden lot, tripping over a punctured tire, before clambering up and catching himself on a dingy streetlight. The glow emitting from the smudged, cracked light was just enough to illuminate his pale, withdrawn features. His huge green eyes smoldered in the dim light as he frantically searched for a way out of his predicament. He brushed his messy chocolate hair out of his eyes and squinted into the darkness trying to see if danger was looming.
The young boy swiftly glanced around him. He wasn't in the best part of town. Gone were the white picket fences and straight green lawns with colorful blooming flowers. Filth and grime surrounded him, as did broken beer bottles and disfigured cardboard boxes that cast gruesome shadows on the sullied brick walls.
The child, Harry, shivered and felt his toes curl up within his huge ragtag shoes. Glancing furtively around once more, Harry sidled onto the dark empty street ready to make his retreat. He stuck close to the side of buildings, shying away from any more streetlights and making sure not to stray into the road; there were drunks out there at this time of night.
Harry crept forward, seemingly inches at a time, but then-
"THERE HE IS! GET HIM!"
Harry flew forward, throwing caution to the wind, and recklessly rounded the corner. He could hear his shoes flapping on the concrete and felt his overlarge shirt blowing behind him, sudden coldness caressing his nape. He reached the end of another street and sharply turned left, stumbling as his feet burned and protested. He could feel his heart beating furiously in the darkness and-
He tripped. Funny, he had always said that his large shoes were a godsend, but he'd never meant it like this. Harry winced as face bit concrete. Half sobbing, he pulled himself up and raised a tentative hand to his face. A thin stream of copious blood was running down his temple. Harry rubbed the thick liquid between his fingertips; it hurt.
Harry staggered to his feet, kicking his shoes off to the side. He limped forward, spurred on by the yells he heard in the distance. His feet no longer tapped the ground, sounding of rubber and metal; now there was only the dull slap of skin meeting concrete. The dull slap of feet meeting whatever the darkness had in store for him.
Only that, and the sharpness of his gasp.
Harry continued on, steadfastly, ignoring the burning in his overused lungs and the ache in his bare feet. Catching sight of a desolate, but lit convenience store, he hurriedly fled towards it, hoping to find solace in its light and warmth, but he halted as a shadowy figure unexpectedly appeared in front of him.
A clawed hand reached for him, "Where are you going, Harry?"
Harry shrieked and batted the searching hand away. Spinning, he turned and sprinted in the opposite direction. Then, seeing another form at the end of the street, Harry threw himself into a side alley. Running forward, he crashed into a tall dark green hedge. He screamed, pounding his tiny fists against the leafy wall. He pushed his face into the hedge, tears bleeding down his face, mixing with trickling blood.
They were going to catch him. They were going to catch him and punch him and kick him and-
Harry frantically threw himself up the hedge, whimpering for breath, hands scrabbling for purchase among the weak branches. His fumbling hands snapped right through them, sending him falling backwards with only a handful of leaves and broken twigs for his efforts. Hysterical with fear, Harry tried again, hearing the footsteps behind him mockingly step closer.
This time, Harry was able to haul himself halfway up. He sighed in relief and started scale the hedge, inching upwards. He could hear thudding footsteps behind him, closer now, and yet still closer, but he was almost there. He was swinging his leg over the ledge, and...a hand grabbed his slim ankle.
Harry yelled and bucked and kicked, but those hands were drawing him closer. Harry gripped the hedge tightly. He wasn't going to let go, but against his will, he was steadily being pulled downwards. Those pitiless hands were groping at his legs and grabbing at his worn pants. They were going to pull him down, right to the bottom where he'd be lying on the muddy ground, infested with rats and roaches that would crawl up on him and...
He'd be surrounded.
Harry renewed his struggling with greater fervor and suddenly, his foot connected with something hard. He heard an agonized yelp and miraculously, his ankle slid free. Harry let himself topple to the other side of the hedge, tumbling hard onto the green asphalt.
Harry sat up drowsily, his head hurt and there was a bright light shining into his eyes. Harry blinked and raised a hand to cover his eyes. Dazedly, he looked downwards and saw that he was standing on a clean white line that ran straight, from left to right. He scuffed his toe on the line, but it didn't disappear or even dirty.
Harry lowered his hand and peered into the bright light, trying to discern where he was. He caught sight of what looked like a net and behind it an obscure figure, but then he heard a dull thump, and a quick whooshing sound. He squinted; it looked like something was speeding towards him. Confused, he reached his hand out and snagged a small light yellow ball out of thin air. Bringing it closer to his face, he looked at it curiously, before hearing a loud yell.
"Kid, kid, you alright?"
A gloved hand reached for him, but Harry jerked away and dropped the small ball in fear. It dribbled to a stop at the stranger's feet.
The man picked it up, looking at it amazingly. "Did...did you catch this?"
Harry looked at him fearfully, "I...I didn't mean to. I swear it! I was j-just looking for a pl-place to hide...and I'll g-go now. I'm so sorry; please d-don't-"
"Slow down." The man reached down and carefully picked the ball up, "I asked if you caught this."
Harry looked up at the raven-haired, black-eyed man standing in front of him. He bit his lip and wrung the sleeve of his shabby shirt; he was in trouble, he could tell.
"Did you catch this?" he asked again, shaking the ball in front of Harry.
Slowly, Harry nodded his head, once.
The man whistled appreciatively. "Well, well, well, that's very impressive. You actually caught my serve. You must have very good reflexes." -Abruptly he changed tactics- "Do you play?"
Harry hesitated; he wasn't supposed to talk to strangers. "Play what?" he whispered.
"Tennis." he answered, surprised. "Can't you tell what kind of court this is?"
Shyly, Harry shook his head, once.
"Parents these days..." the man muttered. "They don't teach their kids anything."
Harry remained silent. He looked at the man once more and then began edging sideways. He wanted to get away from this odd man who kept staring at him. Slowly, his hand crept towards his temple where he was still bleeding.
"You know, you really should play. With those reflexes and a little practice, you might be-" he paused. "What happened to your face?"
Harry's face slapped over his brow. "Nothing." he said defensively. "I...ran into a door."
The raven-haired man grabbed Harry's chin and lifted it up. Staring into his eyes, he pulled Harry's hand off his forehead. Harry tried to wrench away, but the man held him tightly. He poked the nasty cut and raised a brow at Harry's visible wince.
"Nothing huh? Come on inside. I'll clean that up for you. Then maybe, we can discuss you future career in- OW!"
The man hissed as Harry kicked him and then ripped his chin away from him. Harry fumbled backwards, turning, and groped for another branch to pull himself with. At this point, he'd take Dudley and his gang. He got halfway up before two strong hands encircled his small waist and lifted him away from the hedge. Harry screamed and squirmed in his grasp, trying his best to escape, but the man just clung tighter, carrying him towards a dark house across the court.
"Little brat." The man grumbled, his voice muffled by Harry's dark hair. "You try and help someone and what do you get in return...a kick that's a little too close for comfort."
The man continued his mutterings as he carried his wiggling armful into the house and dropped him onto a white marble counter in the kitchen.
"Don't move." he growled.
Harry sat still, terrified, until the man came back with a wet washcloth that he pressed to Harry's wound. "Hold this on your cut; it'll stop the bleeding." he said gruffly.
Harry sniffled. "You're not going to hurt me?" he murmured.
The man paused, dark eyes boring into Harry's. "No, I'm trying to help." he sighed, flicking the lights on. "Now what's a young kid like you doing out so late at night in this part of town. Do you live nearby?"
"I'm six. That isn't very young."
The man's eyes laughed. "Well, I'm twenty-six and I stay indoors when it's this late. Do you live nearby?" he repeated.
Harry took a deep breath. "Number Four, Privet Drive."
"All the way over there? What the hell are you doing over here?" he asked surprised.
Harry winced at the curse. "I...um, was playing with my cousin."
"Really...playing." the man paused. "Well, now that you're here, I'll give you a ride home."
"No!" Harry yelped, starting to slide down from the counter. "No, it's fine. I can get home by myself."
"Are you joking? I'm not sure how you got this far without being knifed or worse, but I can't let you chance it again. Now sit back down and let me see your face."
Harry bit his lip, but when he was gently pushed down, he obediently tilted his face up and the man carefully took the soaked cloth away and laid it on the counter along with a small box of bandages.
"I'm Takahashi Akito; just call me Akito though. What's your name?"
Harry grimaced as Akito prodded the wound gently with his thumb. "Harry," he said in undertones.
"Not a big talker, are you, Harry?" Akito asked as he affixed a bandage to Harry's brow, "Well there you are. Huh...what's this?" Akito ran a finger over a lightening-bolt shaped scar on Harry's forehead.
"Car crash," Harry answered softly.
"Ah..." Akito looked slightly uncomfortable. "You hungry?"
Harry looked at him, blinking, before nodding slowly.
"Good, go wash your hands in the bathroom while I make us some sandwiches. It seems like every particle of dirt and grime you've passed has managed to stick to you. Go through the living room and turn left."
Harry silently slid off the counter and walked through the dark living room littered with plastic cups and empty take-out containers. He turned left and found himself in a hallway. Walking forward, he turned the first door handle he reached and entered a tastefully decorated bathroom. Harry shut and locked the door behind him. Then he turned on the sink, letting warm water gush out of the taps.
Harry wet his hands and then scrubbed his face quickly, but thoroughly. He sputtered as the water suddenly turned cold and shivered as he blindly groped for a towel to dry his face. Finding one on a rack, he wiped his face clean and rubbed the washcloth once through his hair, trying to get it to behave.
After a couple more vigorous rubs, Harry gave up, but turning to leave the room, he caught sight of something interesting. Curious, he turned and looked at the open magazine lying on top of the toilet. Picking it up, he read:
Dynamic Tennis Star: Takahashi, to Retire.
The twenty-five year old tennis phenomenon Akito Takahashi will retire after playing once more at the Wimbledon. The five-time winning pro is considered the best tennis player of this age and time. He will be retiring after a fantastic season due to an old knee injury, which he received during the famous match between him and tennis champ: Yelsoner.
Mr. Takahashi could not be reached for comment, but America, indeed the world, will miss seeing the journey of what probably was one of the greatest tennis players to ever grace the court.
Continued on page 28...
Harry put down the magazine article, deep in contemplation. He had no interest in reading the rest of the article; he had to get back to the kitchen anyway. Harry left the magazine sitting on the bathroom counter and walked back to the kitchen.
He smiled tightly at Akito who grinned in return and placed two plates with sandwiches on the patterned kitchen table.
"I was starting to think you got lost." Akito said. "Come here and sit."
Harry cautiously walked forward and jumped onto a stool. He peered distrustfully at the sandwich and chips on his plate.
"It's ham and cheese. Don't worry, it doesn't bite." The older man smirked kindly at him.
"I didn't..." Harry stopped himself and instead took a large bite out of the sandwich. Swallowing, he asked, "You...play tennis?"
Akito raised a brow. "Yes, that's what I was playing earlier."
Harry fiddled with his food. "You any good?"
"Some," he answered evasively.
Harry concentrated on the mayo dripping onto the paper plate from the sandwich. "Does your knee hurt when you play?" he asked softly.
Akito's face tightened in surprise and then relaxed. "Only when I push myself too hard. Inquisitive, aren't you?"
Harry shrugged and took another bite of his sandwich, remaining silent.
Akito eyed him sharply, taking in his threadbare clothes and bandaged temple. He looked at his thin frame and messy brown hair, covering big green eyes. Then he sighed. "You know, when I take you home today, I could talk to your parents-"
"Uncle...aunt and uncle."
"Your aunt and uncle," Akito agreed, "and then maybe you could pay me a visit after school and I could teach you a little about tennis."
Harry stared transfixed at his chips, before delicately picking one out and munching on it. "You've got good reflexes and I've got lots of time on my hands now...you might even become pretty good, but it'll take a lot of practice and hard work. Tennis isn't easy."
Akito watched the young boy sitting across him intently. "Would you like that?" he murmured.
"You know," Harry said, picking up his sandwich and nodding his head in acquiesce, "I think I would."
To Be Continued...