Forward: I'm a long time reader on this site but have never felt up to publishing any of my drabbles because writing is not my strongest creative outlet, even though I will get the occasional plot idea stuck inside my head. This is one of those and since so little Alice fan fiction is available, I decided I might as well post this idea of mine. Constructive reviews are welcome, if you don't like then don't read cause I'm sure not making you.
Disclaimer: I do not own Alice in Wonderland/Syfy's Alice, nor do I own the Harry Potter series. No monetary prophet is being made from this story. This disclaimer applies to all future chapters as well.
Tumbling into Madness
Chapter 1: With friends like these, who needs hallucinations?
It was a brisk fall evening that found a young boy named Harry Potter trailing behind his relatives on his first ever trip to London. He tried his best to ignore the looks of anger or disbelief directed at his eight year old self as he kept no less then a few feet behind his guardians, one Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon. His Aunt was currently holding onto his cousin Dudley's hand while she gushed on and on about how proud of Dudley she was and Dudley just licked a large chocolate ice cream cone, though most of it ended up on his face and shirt. Harry was seen as an outcast, a freak, to their perfect little family and they did their best to not only remind him of that, but to show the world as well. It was this blatant disregard for Harry that caused others to stare, but the Dursleys themselves paid no mind.
Harry used to believe he was a freak like his relatives constantly stated, but a few years at primary had opened his eyes as it were. While there were a few odd things that happened around him or with him, he wasn't any more unusual then some of his classmates. Well, he didn't think so anyway. Still, he longed for the feeling of love and belonging that he saw in other children with their families and, like most love starved children, continued to do everything he could to please his relatives in the vain hope that someday, they would accept him as well. Tonight though, this distance between him and his relatives would almost save his life. The difference however, the thing that caused the Dursley family to label him a freak, most definitely would.
Uncle Vernon was leading, though with his large girth it looked more like waddling, the group back to his car to drive home for the night. While the man saw himself as very well to do, he always went for the cheapest and fastest route to achieve his means whenever possible. Tonight, this meant walking back to a car park in a location just bordering on disreputable in London. Harry was the one who saw the men come out of the alleyway first. Being chased down by Dudley and his gang of bullies all his life had caused him to develop a high sense of spatial awareness and fast reflexes. He didn't think anything of them though until they approached the Dursleys head on. They didn't look like muggers or any sort of criminal, and that was probably why his Aunt and Uncle didn't seem bothered by them either. All three men were dressed in suits of muted gray colors with white vests; the most imposing of them having shocking bright long white hair that Harry could tell was held back in two low ponytails. The white haired man also used a walking cane, though it seemed to be just for show.
"Pardon me good sir," The man with white hair addressed Uncle Vernon, "are you perhaps headed to the car park around the corner?"
"Why yes," Vernon stated while he held himself a bit straighter, "just taking the family home. Is something the matter?"
The man nodded slightly, "Well you see, I own the 'Looking Glass' antique shop just next door to it and I'm afraid my associates here locked my keys inside. Neither of them is very strong and, as you seem to be a man of considerable build, I was hoping you wouldn't mind helping to give the back door a good shove." Harry watched as Vernon hesitated before answering. The man could possibly be lying about ownership, but he didn't look like any hooligan or thief he'd ever met.
"I'd of course be happy to repay your kindness by giving you an item from my store as a reward. You'd be saving me an awful bit of trouble with dealing with a locksmith," the man pleaded. The enticement of a valuable reward was all his Uncle Vernon needed and they were quickly led to the backdoor of the shop. Aunt Petunia had only glanced back once to make sure Harry was still following along, though after she did he began to fall back a few more feet behind everyone. He didn't like the feel of this. His gut feeling was telling him something bad would happen, but he knew better then to voice his opinion. His opinions were like questions in the Dursley family. Something that should never be spoken aloud and were quickly punished if deemed unacceptable.
Vernon was able to successfully break open to door with little effort and while the seemingly grateful man led the group in to give them a reward, the other two men closed in behind the family. The last one through the door was about to shut it, but as he gave a look around, noticed Harry and appeared to be shocked, as if just noticing him for the first time, before smiling and motioning him to come in as well. The feeling was getting worse now as the man closed the door behind Harry. He quickly moved to rejoin his relatives and put some distance between himself and the man near the door. Just as he was entering the room he'd heard noises coming from he watched as the white haired man and his other associate sprayed something in the Dursleys' faces. All three of them suddenly had even blanker than normal expressions on their faces as the two men grabbed them by their arms, and pushed them out of Harry's view.
"No!" Harry gasped. It was a word he knew quite well, as often as he was told it, but hadn't dared utter in years. He may dislike his relatives, but they were all he had. Uncle Vernon had threatened to take him to an orphanage too many times to number and while Harry sometimes wondered if perhaps it might be better off then sleeping in a broom cupboard, he never really wanted to find out.
The two men spun around and the white haired one glared, "Grab him too, I don't know where he came from but we can't leave him here."
Harry ran. As much time as he'd spent running from his cousin and his friends however, he was no match for the long strides of his pursuer and yelped as he was grabbed from behind. The man had wrapped his arms around Harry, pinning his own arms at his sides, and ignored his kicking and squirming to get out of the man's grasp. Just as his captor had walked back to join the white haired man Harry's rising panic was causing his heart to beat frantically as adrenaline poured into his system. This wasn't good. Harry knew that. He couldn't do anything to escape, but he definitely didn't want to go anywhere these obviously bad men were trying to take him. Harry needed to get out of the man's grasp and get away. His need was so desperate; his want so great, that something strange happened. Harry didn't reflect on how it happened until much later but suddenly there was a loud bang and he was soaring out of his captor's arms.
It was like an explosion without the fire. Both men were knocked back and items of all sorts flew about the room. Harry had only a few seconds to brace himself as he noticed his momentum would cause him to hit a large mirror propped up on the wall when he quite suddenly, fell through it instead.
Harry gasped for breath as he finally landed on a patch of grass after seeming to fall for forever. His glasses fell off from the impact and he quickly picked them up and shoved them back on as he ran from the room. He had no idea what had just happened or where he was but he knew the bad men would try and find him. Find him and do something horrible to him like they had done with the Dursleys no doubt. Scared as he was, Harry couldn't feel sorry for them. They'd never been kind to him and right now was a time to worry about his own safety. He'd worry about his relatives later… maybe.
His baggy cast offs from his whale sized cousin caused him to trip up more than once as Harry tried to find some way out of the rundown building he was in. Water covered the ground and echoed down the hallways as he splashed through it. A tiny jolt of hope coursed through him though as he finally saw light pouring in from a set of double doors just ahead. He slowed down so he could quietly open the door and stopped to catch his breath first.
He couldn't hear anyone coming yet. Maybe they'd been knocked out or hurt earlier? Harry risked the time to look around for just a minute or two as he calmed down some. The water was about two inches deep on the floor and all sorts of wiring, plants, and odd bits hung from the ceiling. This definitely wasn't the antique store anymore. Then he heard it; voices coming from somewhere in the building. Pushing down his rising fear of being somewhere strange and all alone, Harry quietly opened one of the doors and stepped outside, only to receive yet another shock.
While there was a sidewalk, there was no street outside these doors. Some three feet of sidewalk was all that stood between him and the edge of what looked to be a very, very long fall. Looking right, Harry could see the sidewalk wrapped around the building and led to a more open expanse with a few trees and grass. Quickly deciding the area there to be much safer, he carefully made his way over. Thankfully he wasn't afraid of how high up he seemed to be, heights had never bothered him for some reason, but Harry was afraid that he most definitely wouldn't survive a fall off this ledge.
Once he reached the open area his survival instincts kicked in and he looked for some place to hide. Seeing a set of worn down stairs at the far side, Harry quickly made his way over and crawled back as far under them as his little frame would allow, tucking himself into a ball. When he could go no further he closed his eyes and took quiet, shallow breaths so he could listen better to his surroundings. It was only after he didn't hear anything for several minutes that his mind began to wander to all the other important facts clamoring for his attention.
Firstly, he was in a strange place that he'd never been to before. Not something hard for him to accomplish really since he was rarely allowed anywhere besides the house on Privet Drive and school but this place, this city, didn't look anything like London! Second, his relatives were gone, possibly dead for all he knew, which meant has was all alone. While the Dursleys never really cared for him, they'd at least kept him somewhat fed and sheltered.
The weight of his situation fully upon him now, Harry began to do something he hadn't done in years. He began to cry. His once calm breathing hitched in spasms as he let out soft sobs and buried his face into his knees. Harry gripped his arms around his legs in the only form of comfort he knew and cried for the suddenness of his new situation. All too soon it was like a flood gate had opened however, as he let out all the hurt and pain he'd been forced to keep bottled up from the Dursleys over the years.
How long Harry cried for he didn't know, but it felt like a lifetime had passed until he heard soft footfalls approach his hiding spot. He tried to will himself to stop crying as he wiped the tears from his face and took deep breaths, but only managed to reduce his sobs to gasping hiccups. Dark shapes that appeared to be two sets of legs in the dim light stopped right in front of him and a new light, from a torch most likely, lit up the ground at the arrival's feet before shinning into Harry's hiding spot. He squinted as he held his arm up to block the painful sensation of the sudden change in lighting on his eyes.
"Who's tha' in there?" a man's voice called suspiciously from the other end of the flashlight.
"Looks like some kid Ratty," another male voice commented, "think he's that Oyster boy the White Rabbit's looking for?"
"Nah, light's not markin' him or nothin', can't be no Oyster," he first man retorted, "Prolly' just some kid tha's lost his folks. Wha's your name boy?"
Harry didn't answer them as he was still trying to compose himself. He wasn't sure he would've answered if he could anyway. They didn't seem like the men who'd done this to him, but did that make them any better?
"We won't hurt you lad," the other man calmly stated, "Why don't you come on out so we can get a better look at you, help you get home."
Home. Where was home anymore? How would this man find it when Harry wasn't even sure himself? He stayed where he was as the men continued to wait for him to do anything. He wasn't getting the same feeling from these two as he'd gotten from the bad men, maybe they really would help him. Besides, where could he go? With that decided, slowly, Harry crawled out of his hiding spot.
"There ya go, that's a good lad," the soothing sounding second man said as he helped Harry stand up once he was out. In the bright moonlight Harry could see both men better. The one without the torchlight had a smile on his face with short light brown hair, and wore a light blue suit that looked well kept. The other was looking curiously at him; he wore a slicker and had a generally grungy appearance about him with stringy oily hair under a dirty floppy hat. "Well, can't say I've seen you before lad," the man in the suit commented.
"Aye," the other one, Ratty Harry remembered, agreed, "Hair looks a bi' like Hatter's though don' it? Maybe he's a relation?"
The man in the suit shot Ratty a skeptical glance before giving Harry a closer look and nodded thoughtfully, "Hmm, you may be right about that. Parents are likely tea heads anyway. Lad probably got left behind when they left to score a fix and then got scared. Can't hurt to take him by, good a guess as any and seeing as he's too scared to be much help, maybe Hatter can give him a drop of Calm while where there so we can at least get some answers from him."
"Let's be getting' goin' then," Ratty agreed, "bes' to get there 'fore too late and Hatter closes shop."
The man in the suit smiled down at Harry once more, "Come on lad, hopefully we can find your folks, and if not, then Hatter will know what to do." Harry stared at the man as he offered his hand to Harry. He knew they wouldn't find his parents there. His parents had died in a car crash and were the reason for his living with the Dursleys in the first place. This other person though, Hatter, they said Harry looked a bit like him. He felt a small burst of hope. One of his deepest desires was to have some distant relation come and take him away from the Dursleys. Well, he was away from them now and Harry had never seen anyone with messy flyaway hair like his in his life. Maybe, just maybe, after this horrible day he'd had, his secret wish would finally be granted. Feeling the sincerity coming off the man, Harry made up his mind and took the offered hand.
The section of one the many towering buildings the pair led him to had one of those electric LED signs above the awning that Harry had seen in some parts of London earlier that day and proclaimed the place to be a 'Tea Shop'. Well Harry definitely felt he could use a good cup of tea. He'd even drink some of Mrs. Figg's bitter black tea right about now. It was hard to see much in the dark, but the trip through this strange city had been filled with trees, grass, and other assorted plants growing all over the place; sometimes passing under exposed tree roots from the level above him even. Harry was fairly certain his school teachers had said plants, and certainly trees, didn't work that way.
The two men leading Harry here had chatted about some rabbit and an upset from the Queen on the walk here, but Harry hadn't payed much attention. He really didn't care if a rabbit made the Queen angry. Not that he knew how that could have happened anyway. Maybe it ate her carrots? Aunt Petunia had had once complained about the neighbors rabbit doing as much to her prized garden before. Both men seemed pleased enough to ignore Harry for the most part though, but he hadn't minded. Between taking in the sights of this strange city and thinking about everything that had happened, he hadn't been much for talking and it was easy to fall back on habits instilled by his relatives and keep his thoughts and questions to himself.
While the pale moon light helped hide the extent of the drop, Harry had yet to see anything wider then fifteen feet or so of pavement during the whole trip. Maybe it was just London that didn't build sidewalks way up high off the ground? It seemed like a nice way to avoid cars at least. As they walked up the steps of the Tea Shop, he could see a man in a light colored hat was shoving a couple out the door while they just looked about in a daze. It reminded Harry of how the Dursleys had looked when he'd last seen them and he shuddered, moving to stand behind the suited man whose hand he held on instinct alone.
"Lovely to have you," the man in the hat smiled, "come back tomorrow yeah?" He looked over and quickly assessed Harry and both the men with him before addressing them. "Ratty. Pen. I'm closing up shop; you'll have to come back in the morning."
"Actually Hatter," the man in the suit, or more appropriately Mr. Pen Harry mentally noted, stated, "We're not here for tea."
"Well I dun' know abou' that Pen," Ratty fidgeted.
Mr. Pen shot Ratty a glare, "Well I'm not, so leave Ratty out here if you like, but I need your help with something." He gave a quick glance down at Harry.
Hatter looked at Harry a bit longer this time and quirked an eyebrow at Mr. Pen, "Alright, but only a mo'." He let them pass, deftly closing the door in front of Ratty and locked the many chains and bolts behind them. "Night Ratty," he yelled through the locked door before turning back to look at Mr. Pen and Harry with a wide grin, "Let's take this to my office yeah?"
Mr. Pen nodded and followed after Hatter with Harry, still holding his hand, in tow. Harry took the time to look around while they followed behind the shop owner. The lights were dim inside but he could make out several tables lined up on the right with neatly stacked chairs against them and more of those electric signs on the back wall. Instead of carpet or wood though, the floor inside was a well worn dirt path with grass sparsely lining the edges and around the bases of the tables. They even had a few weeds mixed in them. Aunt Petunia wouldn't have entered any store kept in such strange and dirty conditions, but both Mr. Pen and Hatter didn't seem bothered by having their outdoors and indoors mixing at all.
They passed through a darker lit hallway before entering a wide open back room. White metal duct work was clearly visible above him, but the floor here slowly changed from the packed dirt floor of the front rooms to a lush patch of grass about the same size as the front lawn at the Dursley's house, though not nearly as well kept as it came up to Harry's knees in some spots. Hatter walked around a large glass desk in the middle of the room (lawn?) and sat down behind it. Pen had stopped right in front of it, and Harry with him. Slouching into his chair, Hatter propped his feet up on his desk, grabbed a tea cup off of it and took a sip before setting it back down.
The lights here were brighter than in the rest of the shop and Harry was finally able to get a god look at this Hatter person. He was dressed in a brown leather jacket with dark slacks and a multi-toned shirt with some sort of swirling design on it. While Harry had noticed the hat on his head earlier, and just now the other odder ones on a transparent wardrobe to his left, it was seeing Hatter's hair that caused the fluttering butterfly of hope to sore through him once more. Though it wasn't black like Harry's, it was a very dark brown and the bits escaping from under Hatter's hat stuck out at odd angles from his head just like Harry's did. Some longer parts even curled above the brim of his hat!
"Suppose it's the boy you need help with," Hatter finally stated and broke Harry out of his musings, "Can't say I blame you with hair as charming as my own but I've never seen him before."
Mr. Pen sighed, "Ratty and I found him a few blocks away hiding under some stairs near the white rabbit building. We were combing the area for that missing oyster when we found him."
"And you didn't think that maybe, He, was in fact, the missing oyster boy?" Hatter inquired as he took his feet off the desk and leaned forward, resting his head on his interlocked hands.
"Light doesn't mark him," Mr. Pen shrugged, "So it can't be. Once we got him to come out we figured he looked a bit like you. Thought there might be a family connection, or if not, that maybe his parents were tea-heads like most of the city."
Hatter leaned back in his chair and drummed his fingers on the desk while he stared at Harry. It wasn't a bad stare Harry felt, and his Uncle Vernon had given him plenty to know what they were like. This looked much how Harry thought he might look when he himself was thinking hard about a problem in school, or just deep in thought. Hatter didn't spend long staring at Harry before he stood back up and leaned against his palms on the desk.
"Well, I'll do what I can Pen," Hatter decided as he walked back around his desk. Mr. Pen finally released Harry's hand and gave a sigh of relief while Harry gave one of his own as he released a breath he didn't realize he'd been holding.
"Thanks Hatter," Pen smiled, "I owe you."
"And don't I know it." Hatter grinned as he turned Mr. Pen around and wrapped his arm across his shoulders, "Not making any promises, but I'll speak with Dormie in the morning and see what we can't find out yeah? I'll let you know how it goes." Hatter then started walking Mr. Pen back the way they'd entered. "Hav'ta lock you out now, ya know, house rules," Hatter offered and let go of Pen to turn and look at Harry. "You be alright here for a mo'?" he inquired and Harry just nodded, "Right then, go on and have a seat and I'll be back."
Harry did as Hatter suggested and sat down on the white couch just behind him and to his right. It was a bit high up and his feet barely touched the ground but it was very comfy. So much so that even with the many questions bubbling about his brain now, he began to feel his long day catching up to him and felt the urge to just lay down and fall asleep right there. It was so much more comfortable then his tiny cot in the cupboard under the stairs, bigger too.
His eyes shot back open when he heard Hatter come back in the room. Harry watched the man come over and hunch down right in front of him and gave him a wide smile.
"Well I don't think we've been properly introduced you and I," Hatter commented, "Name's Hatter, David Hatter if you like, but everyone just calls me Hatter."
While not normally one for questions, Harry couldn't help but feel at ease in the man's presence and softly spoke up with a small smile, "Is it because you wear a hat?"
Hatter chuckled softly and grabbed his hat off his head. He flipped it in his hands a few times before looking at Harry and flicking it up in the air a foot or two before it somehow landed neatly back on his head. "Sometimes it is yeah," Hatter finally replied, "but how about you, what's your name?"
"Harry," he quickly filled in before breaking out into a yawn, "Harry Potter."
Hatter grinned, "Is that because you pot things?"
Harry easily grinned back at the man's joke. He already felt more comfortable with this Hatter than he had ever remembered feeling at the Dursleys, and Harry liked him instantly. The butterfly of hope inside of his chest had gained friends now, and they were flying around wildly. Feeling bold for the first time in a long time he attempted to joke back, "Sometimes."
"Right then Harry," Hatter clapped his hands together, "Lets get you comfy for the night and then, we'll see how things fly in the morning yeah?" Harry nodded numbly and he let Hatter lay him down on the couch.
As this man who Harry had known for less than a few hours tucked a blanket around him, a warmth spread through him and Harry's eyes drifted closed as sleep began to over take him. His last thought as he felt his glasses being removed from his face was wondering if this feeling was what being cared for felt like.
Posted Feb. 17, 2010
Edited Oct. 15, 2010