Continuing Tales

The Buried Life

A Harry Potter Story
by Kalina Lea

Part 9 of 27

<< Previous     Home     Next >>

Harry tried not to feel frightened as he made his way through the streets of Muggle London, but he realized that he had been terribly insulated, first by the Dursleys, who practically never let him see the light of day, and then by Hogwarts, which limited his comings and goings to the school grounds and Hogsmeade. He'd never been in Muggle London by himself before. He had no idea where he was going or even if he would be able to get back to Diagon Alley. He'd have to do that eventually, but he couldn't be bothered with worrying about it right now. Instead, he simply got away from Diagon Alley as fast as possible despite the fact that a part of him cried out for the familiarity of its cobbled streets and fascinating shops. Instead of following his heart, he beat his way through the cacophony of noise and activity that characterizes any big city, fighting back that underlying sense of unease.

He couldn't help but draw mental contrasts between Hogsmeade, which for a brief time had actually been his home, and Muggle London, which beckoned to him as a starting point for his new life. Of the two, there was no question that he preferred the peaceful streets of Hogsmeade. It was astonishing, really, how loud and dirty automobiles were. Everywhere he looked in London, automobiles pressed one after another through congested streets. Wizards knew of cars, of course, and most had ridden in them on occasion, but few wizard families bothered owning one. With the Floo network in place, even children who weren't old enough to ride a broom or Apparate were able to get from place to place. There were a few people who just seemed to have an attraction for Muggle modes of transportation, like Mr Weasley with his charmed Ford and Sirius with his flying motorcycle, but most were happy without the bother. He'd never seen a car in Hogsmeade, and it was a much more peaceful place than London. He felt depressed as he considered making the Muggle world his own again.

He was on a dingy side street when he caught sight of a salon that looked similar to the one where Aunt Petunia used to drag him to get his hair cut. He had resolved to change his appearance using Muggle methods, so perhaps a place like that would be the start to his new life. He automatically started across the street, nearly getting hit by one of the damnable cars on the way. The driver swerved and blared his horn, and Harry made it safely to the other side with his heart pounding nearly out of his chest.

What he wouldn't give to have his Firebolt with him.

He entered the salon and saw immediately that it was actually quite a bit different from the place Aunt Petunia used to take him, but given what he hoped to do, he thought that might not be such a bad thing. There were two girls working, and between them they had a least six different shades of hair, which seemed to spike in every direction. One of the girls had her nostril pierced, in addition to multiple ear piercings, and the other wore a ring in her eyebrow. This was another thing he rarely saw among witches and wizards. Occasionally he saw a witch with pierced ears, particularly if, like Hermione, she had been Muggle born, but it was rare to see the multiple body piercings that were so common among young Muggles.

"Hello luv," one of the girls greeted him cheerfully. "Can I help you?"

"Er, yes," Harry said, feeling a bit foolish all of a sudden. "I'm interested in…well, looking different."

The two girls exchanged knowing glances. "Gotcherself someone you want to impress?"

"Er, something like that," he said, flushing.

"Never fear, you're in good hands." The girl with the red and blonde hair grinned and took his arm, practically dragging him to her chair. "Now let's see…what's to do about this hair?" She ran her fingers through his unruly mop, her long fingernails making rasping sounds as they raked against his scalp."

"Kind of all over the place, isn't it?" she said cheerfully. "What d'you think Annie?"

"Short," Annie said decisively. "Maybe blonde."

Well, he had said different, after all…

"Sound good to you?" The girl stopped running her fingers through his hair then and looked at him in the mirror.

"I guess so," he said weakly. "Whatever you think."

"Lovely. Let's do 'er." He watched as the girl, whose name was Phyl, snapped on some latex gloves and then began mixing chemicals in a haphazard way that would have sent Snape straight into an apoplectic fit. She used a small spatula to slather the noxious stuff all over his head, and as the fumes assaulted his nostrils, he wondered a bit nervously why, if it was safe enough for his scalp, she was wearing gloves. Once his hair was saturated, she tied a plastic bag onto his head and manhandled him over to sit under a hairdryer.

He had rarely felt as silly in his life.

He listened as Phyl and Annie kept up a running patter which seemed to be about one of their boyfriends, but it was a bit hard to follow what with the noise of the dryer and the cold trickle of chemicals running into his right ear. Fortunately, it wasn't long before Phyl came to his rescue, pulling him out from under the dryer and pushing him down into a chair that leaned back to the sink. She removed the bag from his head and gave him a satisfied nod before shoving him under the warm water and washing his hair three times, all the while keeping an enthusiastic, if hard to follow, conversation going with Annie. When she was finished, she towelled him dry and bustled him back to her chair, where he caught his first glimpse of what she had done.

"Bloody hell," he said involuntarily, as he saw himself in the mirror. It looked like his head had sprouted spaghetti and the only thing he could find to be grateful for in the whole world was that none of his fellow Gryffindors were present to witness his humiliation.

Phyl laughed. "We're not finished yet," she said cheerfully, reaching for the electric clippers. Soon blonde hair was hitting the floor in giant clumps as the clippers buzzed about his head. He consoled himself with the fact that he'd made his own hair grow back once before, and if this turned out too awful he might be able to do it again. Of course, he'd be right back to needing a disguise…oh hell, he thought again, disgusted with himself. It's just hair. She finished on top with the scissors and then ran some gel through it before turning him around and letting him see.

It was…well…shocking…and weird…and incredibly different – and wasn't that what he'd said he wanted? He was surprised to find that he actually didn't hate it. The colour was the weirdest part; the short hair actually looked pretty good, he thought. He'd worn it the other way for so long because he'd been trying to hide his scar, but now that the scar was gone, he thought the short hair flattered him and made him look a bit older. The blonde was a bit too reminiscent of Draco Malfoy and Dudley Dursley for his taste, but at the moment it suited his purpose right down to the ground. He wouldn't be surprised if he could walk right by Hermione like this without being recognized.

"Well, what d'you think?"

"I like it," he managed. "It looks good."

"Bit more current than what you had," she said proudly, "not that it was bad before, mind – just needed a bit of updating."

"Well, you've certainly done that," he said with a grin. "Thanks." He made to stand up and she stopped him.

"Wait just a bit," she said, looking at him thoughtfully. "You know what you really need to complete your look?"

"What's that?" he asked, a bit suspiciously.

"An earring. We do piercings here. Only above the waist though."

He contemplated that for a second and then shuddered slightly at the implications. "I don't know…"

"Oh come on," she said. "Don't you think so Annie?"

"Absolutely," Annie said. "Maybe one like this." She pointed to the small silver hoop in her right eyebrow.

"But…just in my ear, right? Does it hurt a lot?"

"Hardly a bit," Phyl said, readying her next set of supplies despite the fact that he hadn't made a formal commitment. At least he didn't remember doing so, but it didn't stop Phyl from drawing on fresh gloves and carelessly swabbing alcohol on his right earlobe. She drew a small appliance out of a drawer and then inserted what he was pleased to see was an apparently new and sterile earring. Her next words were, "Hold still, luv," and he heard a clicking sound and felt a moment of pressure.

"There you go," Phyl said, turning him around again.

"That's it?" He looked admiringly at the small silver hoop and felt that he would rather like to show it off to the Gryffindors. "It's brilliant. Thanks."

"You'll want to leave it in for a month or so and clean it every day with a bit of alcohol," she said, obviously pleased with his reaction. "So, is there anything else we can do for you?"

"I guess not," he said. "I'd better get going."

The two girls seemed a bit sorry to see him go; apparently his makeover had afforded them some entertainment that morning. He was a bit sorry too, as it meant that he would be heading back into Muggle London, but he paid them with Hermione's money, leaving Phyl a generous tip, as he felt sure Hermione would have wanted him to do.

Once outside, he decided to give up wandering. He considered the tube for a moment, but realized he'd never ridden it by himself, and he had no idea where he was going. In the end, he simply hailed a cab and told the driver he was newly in London, needed to get some shopping done, and could he recommend someplace with lots to choose from? The driver obliged him, and he hardly noticed where they were going until the cab hurtled to a stop and emptied him out on Oxford Street. Now this was more like it. Oxford Street was nothing at all like Diagon Alley – much busier and less comforting, somehow - but he liked its energy and the huge variety of places to shop. Muggle things weren't nearly as interesting as wizard things, of course, but he thoroughly enjoyed the freedom that came with total anonymity, something he hadn't had in quite some time. He walked up and down, along with what felt like every Muggle in London and a number who had been imported from other places, and finally settled on one store and ventured in to buy some clothes. He emerged with a collection of T-shirts and jeans, having shopped with an eye to looking as bland and unremarkable as possible. He had one set of wizards robes crammed in his bag for when he went back to Diagon Alley, but at the moment he had a greater need for Muggle clothing. His last stop was a one-hour optometrist, where he picked out a new pair of glasses that he thought complemented his new look. The lenses were smaller and oval instead of round, and the glinting silver frames made him think fleetingly of Albus Dumbledore when he first put them on. He'd briefly considered contact lenses, to change his eye colour, but the thought of putting something in his eyes had always given him the creeps, and he found he couldn't face the thought just then, even for the sake of his disguise.

He stopped and ate ravenously while he waited on his glasses to be ready, and after he picked them up, he hailed another cab and used his newly-in-London story again to find an inexpensive hotel, since the ones around Oxford Street had seemed rather above his means. The cab driver found just the thing, and after several false attempts with a small piece of plastic that looked like a Muggle credit card, he closed his eyes and silently invoked Alohomora, giving thanks once again for Hermione's insistence that he practice his wandless magic and wondering idly what on earth Muggles had against keys. He sank down on the bed, exhausted, staring at himself in the mirror over the small dresser.

"So what do you think?" he asked the mirror, feeling immediately foolish when he remembered where he was. How was he supposed to make the Muggle world his own if he couldn't even open doors without magic and went around talking to the furniture?

He looked the part, though, that was for certain. Or at least, he no longer looked the part of Harry Potter. He was virtually unrecognisable. Amazing, really, what could be accomplished without using any magic at all. Of course, he had gone through quite a bit of Hermione's money. Her parents were generous with her school allowance, but at the rate he was spending it, it wouldn't last very many days. He would have to go back to Diagon Alley, but he decided it could wait a day. Surely by then, Hermione and whoever else was looking for him would have moved on to someplace else, and he could get to his vault at Gringotts and then begin looking for Sirius's murderer.

Sirius. It had only been a few hours since his godfather's death, but it seemed much longer, so much had happened in that time. Now that he was no longer consumed with the business of running and hiding, it all came back to him with a force that robbed him of breath – Sirius, on the bed in the infirmary, burning to death before their eyes. Apologizing for not being able to finish his job as Harry's godfather. Giving the job to Snape of all people. Harry let his mind skip over that part. He had no intention of ever seeing Snape again – or anyone else from Hogwarts. The fact that Snape had taken possession of some stupid coin meant nothing to Harry. He thought instead about Sirius and about how little time they'd actually had together.

He thought about all that Voldemort had taken from him.

The Buried Life

A Harry Potter Story
by Kalina Lea

Part 9 of 27

<< Previous     Home     Next >>