Note: I am participating in NaNoWriMo this year (November 2015), so when I can I'll be uploading. Of course, given that will let me upload docs... -_-'

Thankfully, however, I do have pre-written chapters done. If you would like to read ahead of the updates here on , the version that is on AO3 under my penname HappyCamper27 is up to date with 10 chapters.

/

The ride back from Hogwarts is dull and quiet, and Ron and Hermione seem to understand that he-they can't take any more noise or stress for a while. Hermione is worrying, and Ron watches them with both gratitude and concern, for they have both only known brave-Alice, not scared-Harry.

When he is picked up by his Uncle, Hermione hugs him tightly, and then whispers in his ear, "Owl me if you need anything, Harry."

It is appreciated, but boy-who-won't-cry-wolf stirs for the first time since the venom, and Harry just smiles, thanking her before he is pulled away by his Uncle.

The ride back to Privet Drive is filled with his Uncle's harsh derisions, and Harry shuts his eyes and slips bright-Aladdin forward, his unbending cheer providing a needed shield from his Uncle's poisonous words.

The atmosphere is tense in the house, that night, even as his Aunt chatters on about the newest members of the neighborhood, a family moving in at Number 6. Apparently, the father of the family was an archeologist, or so the gossip went, and his son was defective, at least in their words.

Harry tilts his head, and wonders if his Aunt considers him defective. But then again, she is so very jealous and furious and sad and considering him defective would be a point of explanation, of rationalization. He isn't sure if she does that in that fashion, though.

That night, there is pain.

His Uncle is angry, and Harry curls in on himself, shaking even as his bones burn and his Mark flares with white-hot heat and his Uncle takes his belt to Harry's back.

Boy-who-won't-cry-wolf is shaking and trembling, even as the persona is being worn, because it is all too much and he is still recovering from the venom and tears.

He-they don't get much sleep that night.

/

"Hello?"

The voice is soft. Harry starts from where he was sitting, hiding in the tall grasses from Dudley's gang of thugs. It is a slim white-haired boy with soft brown eyes.

"Can you tell me how I can get to Privet Drive from here?" he asks, and Harry tilts his head, not sure how to respond. He doesn't want to go back, just yet, but he isn't sure if he can just tell directions.

In the end, bright-Aladdin pushes forward, smiling brightly.

"Sure! Come on, it's this way," he says easily. "I live there, and I'd best be getting back soon anyway. So, why d'you want to get to Privet Drive? Not a whole lot there," the persona chatters.

"My father recently rented a house there," the boy says quietly. "I'm very sorry, I forgot to introduce myself! I'm Ryou Bakura,"

"Harry," bright-Aladdin introduces without missing a beat, but the words bright-Aladdin linger in his-their mouth like a sour aftertaste.

"Thank you," Bakura thanks, smiling. "It would have taken me so long to get here on my own."

They are standing on the sidewalk, just far enough away from Number 4 that bright-Aladdin feels comfortable enough to still be talking to Bakura.

"No problem," bright-Aladdin laughs, and Bakura nods, turning away and towards Number 6. Bright-Aladdin watches him go, and they are all watching through the same eyes, and finally scared-Harry murmurs, retreating back to his corner, he's got a pull.

Brave-Alice grumbles. Like those cards?

Boy-who-won't-cry-wolf watches them, ever-silent. Bright-Aladdin keeps smiling, and together they walk into the personal hell that they've always known.

/

When they see each other again, Harry is nursing the bruises of the latest painful night. Bakura is very polite, but also nervous, and his smiles are tight.

They talk, and eventually Harry lets it slip that he has some cards from the Duel Monsters game but doesn't know how to play. Bakura half perks-up half crumbles in on himself, as though knowing that something is coming that he can't stop.

"I can show you how to play," he offers, and Harry shrugs.

"I don't have that many cards," Harry murmurs.

"I can still show you, right?"

And that is the end of that.

/

Bakura is…different when he plays, Harry notices. His eyes light up, and Harry knows he loves the games. But sometimes it isn't Bakura showing him how to play, it's someone else in his body. He thinks it's kind of like how he can be Harry, except not scared-Harry but brave-Alice or bright-Aladdin.

Not-Bakura is odd and harsh, and he eyes Harry with hungry looks. But every time he invites Harry to play, or Bakura invites Harry to play, he demurs, saying that he doesn't have a full deck and only about four or five monsters.

It is Harry's birthday, the 31st of July, when Bakura apparently almost gets tired of his refusals, because the soft-spoken boy takes him to a game shop and buys Harry a starter pack and several booster packs.

Harry stares at the cards, and Bakura nudges him.

"Are you going to open them?" he asks quietly, and Harry looks at him.

"Thank you," he thanks, and Bakura blinks. "This is the best birthday present I've ever gotten." And in that moment, it's not bright-Aladdin speaking, or the intense tones of brave-Alice or the quiet of boy-who-won't-cry-wolf. It is scared-Harry speaking, showing himself to this new maybe-friend.

Bakura reddens. "Really? It's not very much, really."

"It is," Harry murmurs easily, and bright-Aladdin laughs. They open the packs, and soon Bakura and not-Bakura are coaching them on how to build a deck. They might have played that day, but it is getting late and Harry has to get back before his Uncle gets mad and decides to take out his anger on Harry.

They agree to meet the day after the end of his Aunt Marge's stay so that Harry can play and begin to practice, but things spiral out of control and Harry storms away from Privet Drive, brave-Alice leading them away into the darkness.

It isn't until the next summer that they return to the neighborhood, and by then Number 6 is empty.