Disclaimer: I do not own either The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton), or Harry Potter (JK Rowling)
A/N: Originally written for LAS crossover community on livejournal. AU. Allusion to familial abuse.
When I remember back to when Johnny was still alive, back before things got to be so bad, before things heated up between us and the Socs, I remember the day that, because of Johnny, Harry and I became friends.
I hadn't intended to hurt Johnny's feelings that day, but I put my foot in my mouth yet again, and he was good and mad at me.
"Johnny…" I didn't know what to say, how to make things better. If only I'd used my head in the first place, like Darry always says, Johnny wouldn't be turning that wounded animal look in my direction.
"It's okay Ponyboy," Johnny's voice was hard and flint-like. "If that's what you think." He shrugged nonchalantly, though I could see a slight tremble in his shoulders. "Then I'll just go on home." He turned and walked away.
"Johnny," I called after him, jogging to keep up with his quick, angry strides. "Johnny, I…I didn't mean what I said," I couldn't keep the pleading tone out of my voice. Johnny was my best friend, the only one who really 'got' me, outside of Soda, that is.
I reached for him, but he shrugged out of my grasp and whirled on me so fast that I lost my footing and would've fallen if he hadn't reached out a hand to steady me.
"I know I'm stupid, I ain't smart like you," Johnny's words, though soft, came through loud and clear to me. I wished I could take back what I had said, better yet, I wished I could buy a new brain, one that would think before allowing my mouth to speak.
"No," I interrupted.
"It's the truth; I don't catch onto things real quick, or get what the teachers are yammering on about half the time," he stated in as clear a voice as I'd ever heard him use. "Maybe," his voice broke, but he made on like he was clearing his throat, "maybe you need a new best friend. I ain't no good for you."
"Shut up," I all but shouted. I wanted to clasp my hands over my ears and start stomping my feet like a two-year-old, but I didn't. Fourteen year olds don't carry on like common toddlers.
"I don't need no other friends," I said heatedly.
"Yeah, kid, you do," Johnny said. "Shoot, Pony," he said, looking at me sideways, a slow, lopsided smile ghosting his lips, "we can all use new friends every now and again."
"But I've got you," I said, carefully not looking at Johnny, because truth is that I was close to tears.
"Pony," Johnny gave me a strange look that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, "we might not always have each other." His quietly spoken words echoed in the empty lot.
I shook my head vehemently in denial of Johnny's words. We would always, I thought, always have each other, no matter what happened. I didn't know then how wrong I was.
"I think you should try talking to that new kid," Johnny continued. "What's his name?"
"Harry," I mumbled.
"He sure looked lonely today," Johnny mused aloud.
"He sure talks funny."
"Yeah," Johnny paused, "I don't think he's too happy here. Doesn't seem to have any friends..." Johnny trailed off and I could tell that he was deep in thought about something. "Speak of the devil."
Harry, I think the kid's last name was Potter or something like that, looked up, startled as he noticed that he wasn't alone. A panicked, almost stricken look crossed his features before his green eyes narrowed in distrust.
Taking a real close look at him – I hadn't really had an opportunity to do so at school – I could see that he wasn't one of the rich, spoiled Socs I had thought he was at first glance.
Harry's accent caught me off-guard and I had to pick my jaw up off the floor before responding.
"Hello, I'm Ponyboy, and this is Johnny," I greeted as politely as I knew how, not wanting the new kid to think we were uncivilized or nothing.
"Harry," he offered, holding out his hand. I could tell he was nervous by the way it was shaking slightly. I could also see that there was a bruise starting to form along his jaw and wondered when he'd had time to get into a fight between school and now.
"What happened to your face?" I blurted out stupidly. I really could use a new brain, and a new mouth.
I knew the words were a mistake the moment they left my mouth because Harry stiffened and his eyes hardened and he made to move around us without answering.
"Hey," Johnny spoke softly, as though he was speaking to a spooked horse, "it's okay Harry. You don't need to tell us. We just wanna be your friends."
Harry searched Johnny's eyes for something and then nodded slowly. "I could use some friends," he said softly. I almost didn't catch his words.
From that moment on, we were friends, though not close at first. It was he and Johnny that understood each other; they shared a sort of kinship that I would never be a part of, one I would never wish to share with either of them. For a while, we stuck together, like the 'Three Stooges', as Steve delighted in calling us. And then things with the Socs got heated, Johnny killed a kid, and died a hero, saving the lives of little kids. Harry, still wary of our friendship, stayed on the outskirts of it all, until after Johnny's funeral.
A familiar shock of dark hair broke through my musings and I shook myself back to the present. "Hey Harry!" I hollered across the crowded hallway. "You comin' over tonight?"
Startled green eyes met mine and I could see a purple bruise forming around the right eye. That's the second one this month, I thought, suddenly reminded of another boy with a dark head of hair and bruises. A ghost of a smile crossed his features, and he nodded.
Johnny was right.