I Don't Think You're a Waste of Space

BY : SparklySprinkles
Category: Harry Potter > Slash - Male/Male > Dudley/Harry
Dragon prints: 7520
Disclaimer: Fictional story based on fictional characters. I own nothing of Harry Potter, and make no money.

    Harry ran behind Dudley in the chilled air, following the pull of his hand. His whole brain was pounding with this, and he felt like maybe he should just stop thinking altogether. They ran to the front and down the street. Then Dudley stopped at number eight, and took Harry to the back door, opened it, like it was a thing he'd done before. Harry followed Dudley inside and caught his breath. "What're we doing here?"
    "No one would look for you here. It's too close to home." That sounded fairly solid. And Harry didn't know, his brain had rebooted somewhere in all that and he was still waiting for it to come back online. 
    "Why were you in the hallway?"
    "Because Dad was so loud. It sounded like you were - Harry. Did you kill him?"
    "No." He huffed a laugh. He wouldn't have survived that. If his uncle died, so would Harry. Did Dudley not know? But Harry was fine with him knowing less of the bond's nature than he needed to. There was nothing about it he was proud of. "He's just knocked out."
    "What did you do to him?"
    "What he told me to!" He was far too defensive about it all, he knew. It couldn't be good to have Dudley know where he was. This was bad. Everything about it was bad, and if he was caught there would be more than hell to pay. Dudley walked him further into the house. "Maybe we need food?" Thinking more that if Dudley left him for a couple minutes to get some, he could really bolt. 
    "I have some here." He nodded behind himself, to the kitchen, and Harry followed. Why would Dudley have food here? "Eat whatever you want. And I can bring more." Harry nodded. He was starting to put together a picture here. 
    "Will you go back?"
    "Yeah. I probably should. Just so they don't think anything suspicious. But if you had done more, I would have helped that, too." He drilled him with eyes bleeding intent. "Anything, Harry. Whatever you need." Harry nodded again. This was weird. But welcome. And it gave him everything he needed. Every time he mistrusted Dudley he ended up feeling like shit about it. Of all the people in the world that wished Harry harm, and that was nearly everyone, he had Dudley Dursley on his side, and he was mental not to know it like a hard fact. 
    "There are bedrooms upstairs. Use any of them. The Parkers were gone before we came back. And there's a sofa in the den if you don't want that. Whatever. You got the whole house." Harry nodded. He just needed Dudley to leave. "I'm going home, now. He could wake any minute, I guess," like that mightn't be the best thing in the world, "but stay here, please. I'll take care of you. Just stay here." Harry nodded. Why didn't Dudley think he would? These Dursleys were better than he'd have ever thought at reading him, it seemed. Like maybe they paid attention when no one was looking. Not the most relieving of thoughts. 
    Dudley nodded, and stood there like he'd left unsaid far too much, and stared down at the floor. "Harry, I know you'll leave. And I can't let you do that. This is the only way I can keep you safe. What do I have to do to make sure you're here when I come back?"
    Harry had no idea what to say to him. He shrugged stupidly, and looked around like there was something that would help him say something. Like the counter top, empty. It did nothing. "Dudley, I can't stay here. I have to keep going."
    "Harry, they won't look for you this close to home. It's brilliant. You're just all rattled still. But take the time and calm down, and you'll see that there isn't anywhere better. And I can keep an eye on Dad from here, and let you know if it ever gets dangerous. But right now it isn't." Harry felt a rush of burning rage, brighter than the sun, and knew his uncle was awake. He squinted in the direction of the house, probably right at the man, at the root of this pain like needles. Did it mean he was already too late?
    "He's awake."
    "You know that?"
    "Yeah." He rubbed at his neck, feeling some places where he'd definitely dug too deep. He was so angry. Harry hoped the man would just have a heart attack and end it all right there. Save him some trouble. 
    "Harry. Promise me you'll stay."    
    "Just let me go, and you won't have any troubles anymore, your family can even go back to being normal."
    "No. We can't. Without you we're useless. We'd die. Or I guess it'd be those blasted collars they're promoting so much." Harry frowned, wondering how much of that could be true. Was he just getting his family killed by running? Did it have to be that heavy? Why was everything always so weighted down? "You want Mum in a collar?"
    "No. Of course not."
    "Stay here. Promise me."
    "I promise."
    "Good. I'll be back."
     He left and Harry crept to a side window and tried to watch but too many houses blocked him from his sight. He wondered how he'd gotten into this mess. This one that he was most recently in. Was it smart to run? Dudley meant what he said, but Harry didn't think it was smart to rely upon him. He was a slave to his whims, and those could change. And they would rule Harry's life. He nodded, resolute. He couldn't leave this to chance. The price was too high. But now he had to wait on Dudley, because of a stupid promise he'd made. And he had to watch windows. He could break the promise if he saw his uncle coming. 
    He opted for a better view after a few minutes of this, of waiting, of looking and feeling his uncle's rage. It mellowed into mortification, and Harry told himself to enjoy that, but it was hard. He ran for an upstairs room, where he could see more of the yards that took the space between.
    The embarrassment lasted, until it turned to a sullen resentment, and Harry chewed on it. He opened the window a crack and listened, like he might hear it from where he was. But nothing on the grass moved, and there were no sounds, other than some night birds. 
    It was chilly out, and now that Harry knew the time of year, the end of September, he felt perhaps it wasn't best for him to go running off into the wild. Not without food, or shelter, or Hermione to carry him this time. And there were dementors everywhere. That was always best to remember. He was convincing himself, he knew, to rely on Dudley, but he felt that it was the right decision. Dudley really did care about him, and wouldn't sell him out. If Dudley failed him it would be for a different reason, one Harry couldn't see. 
    His uncle worked his way back up to self righteous anger, and Harry could feel him storming about. 
    He stood for hours, and nothing. No signs of life in any way, anywhere. It was unnerving, as always, but waiting for an axe to fall on his neck, added in.
    His body told him, before dawn, that he was exhausted, and he laid down, relying on his light sleeping to warn him. He woke to the sound of footsteps, and jumped up, ready at the window to escape. It was late morning.    
    "Harry?" It was Dudley. Harry left the window and opened the door. "You stayed. Good. I was beginning to worry. That's good, Harry. I brought some more food in case you needed it. But I was thinking I might not be able to come every day."
    He went downstairs and Harry followed. They sat at the table, and Dudley pulled out a half loaf of bread and some luncheon meat. He slapped together a quick sandwich and handed it over. Harry ate it, wondering finally that he hadn't once thought Dudley would trap him in some way. Wouldn't lead him down the stairs to Uncle Vernon or something. Just food, and Harry had always thought it would just be food. And he was right to.
    "Thank you, Dudley." He had to say it. Dudley set down a couple glasses of water and sat.
    "It's nothing, Harry. Really. I should have done more. Every time. And I couldn't. Or I was stupid or something. I don't know. But you shouldn't be thanking me."
    Harry shook his head. Was Dudley talking about the last few months, or earlier? "No. This is perfect. You don't know what this means to me."
    "Yeah, I know. And it just shows how little I've ever given you, that this little bit means something. That you expect nothing of me."
    Harry looked down. Was that what he was saying? "I'm sorry."
    "Oh god, Harry. I forgive you, alright? Just stop thanking me. Please." Dudley Dursley saying please. He must have meant this one.  
    "I'll try." He went back to eating his sandwich before he stuck his foot in deeper. Dudley was just so odd these days, and anything could set him off it seemed.  
    "So," the other said after he'd taken a bite and chewed it some, mouth still full of it, "you tied Dad up?" Harry swallowed wrong, choked, and rose from his seat to work the bit out, leaning on the table. Dudley got up and slapped him on the back, helping as much as he could. Harry let the munched bit fall out, onto the table, and sat back down, taking a gulp of water. He went back for his sandwich before he would have to answer that, but took a much smaller bite. Dudley was looking at him. "He was real mad."
    Harry nodded. He knew. The man was still angry. No surprise. "Where does he think I went?"
    "I don't think he's thought that far. He's still shouting about it."
    "Did you ... did you untie him?"
    "No. Mum was still fighting with the lock when I got home. I had to wait until she went in so I could go to my room without being seen." Harry nodded. Smart. And, he had the key. In his pocket. "She really had a go at him then. When she - when she saw him." Harry nodded, studying the table. He hadn't had a choice. And now he was free. It was worth it. "You said you just did what he told you to."
    "I don't know what I said. I don't remember, Dudley." That had sounded far too pleading for Harry's tastes, but it was out.
    "Did he ask you to nearly scratch his eyes out?"
    "I," he looked about, not sure what this was. Dudley didn't sound angry on behalf of his dad. How could he do anything other than what he was told? That was all he was. And this fresh bit of treason. He was this now, too. 
    "Alright." Mercy granted. "He's going to go to that wizard guy for help if you don't come back, he said. But he also said maybe he would let you wait the week, and see if you don't come back then. He said you would want to come crawling back on your own then, but you might not be able to."
    "Which wizard guy?"
    "That Mr. Snape. He told Dad, when they were first fighting about it, to call him if there were ever troubles, and that you would make sure there were." Harry smiled sourly over that. "Why would he say you wouldn't be able to come on your own after a week?"
    "Because of the bond." But that wasn't enough for Dudley, who was still staring at him, willing more words out of him. "It punishes me with pain that just gets worse if I spend too much time away from him."
    Harry took another bite to avoid saying anything more about it. But he would need to, if he was going to stay here, accepting help from Dudley. On the seventh day, Dudley would change his mind. "Look. It hurts. A lot. And it gets stronger and stronger until it's worse than anything. I don't even know how bad it can get. But you need to never tell him where I am. Then it's all for nothing." And what was he asking of this boy? To watch him die and say nothing? He set down the sandwich and drowned in those thoughts. What was he even doing? And if he went back? Would his uncle just be happy to have him, or would the man punish him? It was an obvious answer to a rhetorical question. Uncle Vernon would demand pounds of flesh for this. For having his wife see him like that? 
    "And then what? Just terrible pain until you what? Die?" Dudley was doing the math. Harry couldn't acknowledge it. 
    "Look. I know I'm asking too much. You should just let me run, then you can say you had nothing to do with it."
    "You don't understand, Harry. Look around. Where do you think the Parkers are?" 
    "The -" He looked around, but because Dudley had told him to.     
    "They had two kids. You slept in one of their rooms last night. That would be us. Our empty house." Harry hung his head. Why couldn't he just run? Just pick a direction, and go until his legs gave out?
    "I just want to be away from him. For a while?" It was all falling down. He couldn't stand up to this. He'd been bred and raised to die, for a good cause, at the right time. Not this prolonged meaningless torture that did no one any good. Not even Uncle Vernon when it came right down to it.
    Dudley nodded, like he was granting it to Harry. "How long?"
    "Until he goes to Snape? Unless he goes straight to him. No, until you think I'm actually dying. Then, I suppose. I would rather get as long as possible." Dudley nodded again.
    "Alright. You tell me when?"
    Harry nodded, but he didn't think he would. This wasn't how it was supposed to go. He wondered if he would have what it took to run the moment Dudley left again, but he didn't think so. Dudley would be killed along with his parents. What a terrible reason to be keeping people alive.  
    He had good days there, hiding in the darkened house and sleeping alone, stretching out sometimes when he remembered he could. Laying back with his limbs taking the corners of some dead child's bed. He would have preferred the master, but he wanted to be on the side that faced the Dursleys' home. Like it would help to have some warning, and he would hear it. 
    Dudley came late in the morning, and they would eat while he filled Harry in on anything interesting. And after they ate together, Dudley would sit with him for hours, both content enough to not force the other to speak. Dudley was a fine one for keeping his mouth shut most of the time. Then he would try and get Harry to eat more before he would leave for the evening. 
    On the third night, Harry was watching the gardens between, as usual, from the upstairs window when he saw Dudley sneak over, light on his toes and quick. It was after bedtime, and Uncle Vernon was giving off an absence of rage which meant the man was probably sleeping. But it was still so risky for Dudley to do this, and Harry wondered if he had some terrible new news for him. 
    Dudley came upstairs and to "Harry's" room, and shut the door behind him, unnecessarily. Harry always shut it, too. Like it would help. Would buy half a second somewhere for him. 
    "What's wrong?"
    "Nothing. I just wanted to check on you. You seemed a little flighty today." 
    Harry shrugged at that. He hadn't noticed, but Dudley was a Watcher now, so he took his word for it. "Was I?"
    "Yeah. It's alright if I stay here tonight, right?"
    "But they'll notice you missing in the morning."
    "They won't. I'll be home before they wake." And with that he laid back on the bed, arm out for Harry. Harry looked back out the window at his post. It was all still so dead out there.  
    He wasn't so sure about this. He'd slept with Dudley before, but that was before he'd said all that crazy shit. But, Harry thought, this was Dudley. And he wouldn't hurt him.
    "It's alright, Harry, I won't hurt you." Yep. It would be alright. Harry left his post and slipped in beside him, head on Dudley's arm, since that was the offer, and Dudley pulled him in more. Harry had seen it coming, though, and kept himself lax for it. 
    Dudley said nothing more, thankfully, and they were quiet for ever, neither sleeping for hours. Harry was terrified of practically everything, it seemed, these days, except Dudley's heart beat, and he centered on that, and this perfect harmless time. He wasn't taking anything for granted, in this limited little vacation of his, and he knew it was just that. 
    Dudley's breathing took on a heavy rhythm, after the moon had travelled to and past Harry's view out the window from the bed, and he knew he was asleep. He focused on the sound of that, and finally did fall asleep as well.  
    He woke a short time later, knowing by how the moon's light lit the wall not too far away from where he'd last seen it, and it was still dark out. Dudley was getting up, and Harry kept his eyes closed as he listened to the other work his way through the one time home and leave. 

    "That Mr. Snape was by today." Over breakfast the next day.
    "Yeah, I told him he should give the bond to me."
    "You shouldn't talk to him! He can read your mind!"
    "Really? Wait, I think he did that before. What would it look like?"
    "When he was first talking to Dad about you."
    "First, like back in the spring, right?"
    "Yeah. Harry, would it look like pictures in my head? Like memories I wasn't making happen?"
    "Yeah. Pretty much."
    "Yeah. I think he did that before. When I told him to give you to me instead of Dad. He looked at a bunch of things, and I think that was why. But if he looked now, he would see something else. I should let him do it. Maybe."
    "He would see I'm here. And he would see what he wanted to either way. Not what you wanted him to."
    "Yeah. I guess."
    "Dudley, he's not hoping you'll be good to me. If he sees that, he'll make sure I never go anywhere but to your dad. That's why I'm here."
    "But he saw all ... all the things I did to you and then said no."
    "I don't know. But he knew your dad would be worse. That's why I'm with him."
    "That's terrible." 
    Harry laughed dryly. "Yeah, terrible. You need to stay away from him. Do you think he read your mind this time?"
    "No. He just looked at me, and went back to talking to Dad like I never even said anything. Lousy git."  
    "Good. Is he still at your home?"
    "No. He told Dad to get a hold of him by the end of the bond's week, and then he would help. I don't think he likes Dad very much, you know."
    "He doesn't like anyone."
    Dudley collapsed into his usual silence, and Harry wondered if Snape would be able to hunt him down here. 

    Dudley came that night, too, and Harry didn't need to be called to lie beside him. He came as soon as Dudley opened his arm in invitation. Before the sun rose, Dudley went back home.

    Day seven was obvious. It hit at night, starting its creeping, and Harry slept through most of it, huddled against Dudley. Uncle Vernon grew nervous, most of his anger overshadowed. By the time Dudley rose to go back home there was no sleeping through it. But it wasn't that bad. He could deal with it. Dudley came later, with food, and sat while Harry didn't eat. 
    "How bad is it?"
    "Not bad. I could do this a few days, really." He wasn't sure about that, but he thought he sounded fairly sure. "Maybe more." 
    "But you said it gets worse." Harry just nodded. The more he talked, the more chance it would sound out. "Dad left with Mr. Snape today. After breakfast."
    "Yeah? You know where they went?"
    "Yeah. They said they would look in some small town somewhere? And that house you own, and London. Don't know where they'd start, but that git seems to know where he's going."
    Wonderful that they were looking so far from home. Dudley had been right. And Uncle Vernon spending the day with Snape. Perfect. Harry almost wanted to see some of that. Snape would know as much about drill bits by evening as Harry did. And Harry was sure he would still be here, in this house and safe. London and Grimmauld Place. And Godric's Hollow maybe? All places Harry had thought about as options, chillingly.
    At some point in all that, waiting tensely through numb pain, a pulse of bone splitting terror fluttered through his uncle. And Harry laughed. He'd been waiting for it. Moody's hex, the one of Dumbledore as a ghost rushing people who entered Grimmauld Place, had struck again.
    "What?" Seemed like Dudley thought if Harry was laughing it might not be good. He sounded worried. Harry shook his head, then set about explaining it, just so Dudley would laugh, too. Embarrassment took over the terror in his uncle as he tried to cover it all. And that needed more. Needed for Dudley to understand the injustice of Dumbledore's ghost being referenced, and left in place for Snape specifically, and he backed the story up some, and talked. For ever, it seemed. 
    Dudley had met Dumbledore once. Had scowled over Harry's headmaster saying outright Dudley's parents had done wrong by him, Dudley Dursley, somehow. But by the end of Harry's account he would know that Dumbledore, not Harry, had been the world's last chance.
    And he had to be reminded of the joke. But when he got there, Dudley chuckled. Harry shrugged. He was tired of so much talking, and a chuckle was enough. It was rippingly funny, really, but Dudley hadn't felt his dad's terror then the awkwardness that followed. If he had, he would have laughed harder.

    By the time Dudley came back to sleep there, Harry was huddled and shaking. "I brought some pills Mum uses. You should try them." Harry swallowed them without question, drinking the water Dudley had brought. 
    Then, being the angel he was, Dudley got a wet cloth and ran it over Harry. It distracted Harry enough that he closed his eyes and slept lightly for little bits. Maybe Dudley had seen it in a movie once, or maybe Aunt Petunia had done this with him. Harry didn't know about such things, but it might as well have been Dudley's invention for the time that it worked. 
    He held him and did that thing where he was quiet for so long Harry could have forgot he was there. Then he broke the silence he'd been in. "Maybe I could help you."
    "You are."
    "No, I mean, maybe all you need is anyone, not just Dad."
    "Don't think so."
    "Do you know that?"
    "I mean, we could try."
    "T's not how it works." His teeth were clamping against each other, and he was done talking. 
    "I wish you would trust me enough to let me try." Harry shook his head. "I could have what you need. You know?" Dudley accepted and still held him. The last thing Harry needed was someone rutting at him while he was in this much pain. The pills had done nothing, and he hadn't thought they would. It was magical pain, after all, not a headache.    

    Dudley must not have slept, and before the sun rose he apologized for having to leave. Harry couldn't say much, and nodded. It was still better than the alternative - "crawling back" to his uncle. As soon as Dudley left Harry let go and cried, wondering why he was even doing this when he would have to go back in the end. But he was proving a point by then, and knew every day he stayed away would show Uncle Vernon that he would do it again, and not be cowed by pain. He was built for it. And underneath all the things he'd had done to him, he might still be a man. 
    Harry couldn't leave the bed after that. It would have hurt more to move than to not. He tried to go for hours not moving, tried to forget his body existed. It was a tactic never meant to win, but it was better to try than to bow to it. How could people deal with such a thing? Something as uncompromising and constantly advancing as this kind of pain? 
    He hit a point where he didn't think he was supposed to deal with it, but bow, let it wash over and through, rack his form as it ebbed and flowed, and in this he found something to hold on to. Like he was the bank and the bed, and the pain the river. Why had he ever tried to fight it? This was much easier.
    He sank in that mental image until his brain broke under the strain, and he stopped thinking. 
    Night came, and he realized dimly on an inner level that Dudley hadn't come. He remembered the wet cloth like it was some faint happy memory from his childhood, and knew he was alone forever. And maybe he really would die here, like he wanted? Without Dudley there to remind him why he shouldn't, it was easy to forget. 

    Dawn came, and he was still alone. And pain was all he knew. He kept his eyes shut, like light hurt, but it was everything. Even the bed hurt, but he knew the floor was worse. Would grate his flesh and it would slough off like the rotted meat it was. What else would be giving off that smell? 

    He was a void, he'd been long ago swallowed by the agony, and it was all. It gave birth to him, and it would finish him some day, if he was lucky. If anything existed outside it, on the other side of that wall, he didn't know. Light and dark were distant memories, and he could have been in it for five minutes or a year and it wouldn't have made a difference to his haze. 

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