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Friend of the Ferryman

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So, this is my first story in the HP fandom so go easy on me guys, apart from that I would like to give credit to my amazing beta Sweetheart35 / cherrysoda45 (tumblr username), as she has made this story amazing and helped so much. If you have time go check out her works, she’s also an amazing writer.

 

As far as anyone knew, Harry Potter was just like any other twelve-year-old. The only thing different about him, was everything. While other twelve-year olds had parents, Harry only had his aunt and uncle. While other twelve-year olds had toys, Harry only had chores. While other twelve-year olds had friends, Harry only had bullies. While other twelve-year olds had nice clothes, Harry only had his cousins cast offs. While other twelve-year olds had a room, Harry only had a cupboard. While other twelve-year olds had praise showered upon them, Harry was only told he was a burden. While other twelve-year olds had love, Harry did not. And when Harry tried to change his luck and make friends, his bullies were more than willing to turn his potential friends against him. And while this sometimes made Harry sad, it was a reality that Harry had learnt to live with. So, when Dudley had asked his friends if they wanted to play a game, Harry had started running before Dudley had even finished speaking, all the while hoping that he could find a safe place to hide until they gave up.
Harry ran through the village, scanning ahead to see if there was anywhere to hide that the adults wouldn’t give away simply because they thought they were only playing. He could find none. Many people were out today, meaning there was too many witnesses for Dudley to charm, too many people who would give away his location. Looking around, a breeze blew his fringe into his eyes and tickled his nose with the fishy smell of the docks.
‘Wait! The docks!’ Harry thought. The docks were perfect, with very little people and lots of hiding places, it was a perfect safe haven for today. With a burst of speed, Harry turned down the side street that would take him to the docks, hoping that Dudley and his gang didn’t catch up to him before he could find a good place to hide.


Unfortunately, with the street being one that led straight down to the docks, Dudley and his friends had spotted Harry and were well in pursuit. Harry didn’t spare a glance over his shoulder, knowing that it would cost him precious time. He finally got to the end of the street and when to turn right to get to the part of the docks that he knew best, but found the way mostly blocked by crates. Knowing the slip up had already cost him enough time, Harry quickly turned around and headed left instead. Dudley and his gang had gotten closer and were now hot on Harry’s heals, throwing taunts at Harry’s back while they tried to close just that little bit of distance. None of the boys noticed when the sky seemed to darken and the sounds from the village became muted, too focused were they on their task.


Harry darted around a corner before hiding behind a stack of empty crates, ducking low so that his pursuers would not see him. He tried to be quiet and held his breath as Dudley and his gang rounded the corner. The group of boys stopped, not seeing which way Harry went, they started to look around. Harry watched them through the small space in-between the crates, hoping to anything that would listen that the other boys wouldn’t find him. The wind started to pick up, making Harry shiver and making his pursuers finally aware of their surroundings.


“H-hey, I don’t like the look of this place.” One of the boys said, “m-maybe we should head back? I’m pretty sure that this is the dock of dep-”


“Don’t be a wuss!” Dudley hissed, cutting him off. “We still have to find the fre-“ he started to say, only to be cut off when he caught sight of a black cloaked figure standing behind one of his friends. His eyes widened, and the blood rushed out of his face, making him look sickly.


“Dudley? What’s wrong?” the other boy asked. Instead of replying, Dudley shakily pointed behind the other boy, to where the figure was standing. Turning around, the other boy let out a squeak before jumping back and away from the figure.


The figure faced the boys and spoke in a smooth voice, “those of the living should not be here where the dead do dwell, for you may be counted among them” before slowly raising his arm, as if he was reaching for them. Dudley and his gang screamed before running away, each trying to get back to the safety of the village as fast as they could. The figure stood there for a few moments more before slowly lowering his arm.
And turning to stare at the stack of crates that Harry was hiding behind.


Harry’s heart rate increased, and a new surge of adrenalin accompanied the new wave of fear. He waited, tense, to see what the figure would do, but he just stood there. As the seconds ticked away, Harry slowly started to relax, thinking that the figure didn’t actually know he was there.


“You can come out now, those kids have returned to the village. It’s safe, you’re safe.” The figure softly spoke, making Harry tense until the words registered. Slowly, Harry climbed out from behind the crates, until he stood warily before the figure.


“Come” he said, before turning around and walking away. It only took a second of indecision before Harry was running to catch up. They walked in silence for a few minutes until they came to a part of the docks that Harry recognised. Harry turned to the strange man.


“Thank you,” he said. “For helping me.”

The man simply nodded before saying, “do not return to this place.” With that, he turned around and walked back the way he came. Harry, taking the hint, ran back to the village, his resolve to not step foot back onto those strange docks iron clad.


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His resolve lasted a week, eaten away by his curiosity.

Harry had been watching the docks when he could, and noticed that no one went to the part of the docks that he had hid in. His curiosity started to build, and by the time a week had passed, it had reached its peak. So, after completing his chores for the day, he snuck down to the strange docks to see if he could find that strange man once more. This time he wasn’t distracted by pursuers, so noticed when the bright mid-day sun became dim, as if the sky was filled with clouds, and sounds of the village muffled, as if he had just stuffed cotton wool into his ears.

But Harry checked the sky, and it was as blue and cloudless as when he had left his aunts home for the docks, and after checking his ears, found nothing that could stop the sounds. He became weary, on high alert for any danger. But he kept going, curiosity pushing him forward step by step. Harry walked for a few minutes before spotting the strange man who helped him before. The man was helping an older man into a little boat before getting in himself and pushing off from the dock. Harry watched as they rowed out to sea, until they were out of sight. Not knowing when the strange man would be back, Harry sat on some crates and settled in to wait.

It was only an hour later when the boat became visible on the horizon. Harry waited for it to come in to dock and was surprised to see that the old man who had gone out in the boat did not come back with it. As the strange man docked the boat, he looked up, and looked straight at Harry. Harry started to fidget under the intense gaze, and awkwardly gave a wave to the man in the boat. The man just stared back before turning away and climbing up onto the dock, seemingly intent on ignoring Harry. Seeing that the man would not approach him, Harry huffed and stood up. He headed over to where the man was tying up the little boat, looping knots around one of the wooden polls to keep it from drifting out with the tide.

“Hello,” Harry whispered, the strange feel of the place almost demanding silence from him, but he pushed on. He had questions that he wanted answered. “I’m Harry;” he spoke this time with a bit more confidence, his voice slowly returning to his regular volume. “I wanted to thank you again for helping me the other day, most adults wouldn’t have.” So far, the man had been unresponsive, his hooded head turned away from Harry and focused on his task. But at Harry’s words, his hands stilled, and he turned his head to look at Harry. This was the first time that Harry had been able to really look at the man, who turned out to not really be a man at all. He looked no older than fourteen, fifteen at the most, with soft brown hair that fell in curled waves on top of his head. His skin was pale and smooth, with well-defined cheek bones and an angled nose. But what really stood out to Harry was his eyes, they were the colour of blood and shone like rubies. In all his life, Harry had never seen anyone like him before.

Harry realised that he was staring when the other boy tilted his head and raised his eyebrow. Harry sent a sheepish smile his way. “Sorry, I’ve just never seen anyone with red eyes before. People always say that my eyes are unusual, it’s kind of nice to find somebody in the same boat as me.” A smirk started to form on the hooded boy’s face before Harry caught on to his choice of words. “I meant that figuratively and you know it,” he accused. A widening smirk was his only response.

“Anyway, I best get going. My aunt is probably looking for me with another list of chores,” he informed the hooded boy, while looking back the way he came, he missed when his smirk turned into a frown, but it was gone by the time he looked back. “It was nice meeting you, I’ll come back and visit when I can, it looks like you don’t get many visitors on this side of the dock.” Harry waved before starting to jog back the way he came, oblivious to the red eyes that watched him go.

A few minutes of jogging later found Harry back at the edge of the strange docks. He stepped over the threshold and had to shield his eyes from the now blinding sun, before flinching at the symphony of sounds now assaulting his ears. He started to walk back towards the village, letting his senses readjust along the way. He stopped to shiver to shiver when a cold wind blew off the ocean, making him frown. It was almost winter, and Harry was not looking forward to it.
 

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The next day, Harry finished his chores as quickly as possible before once more sneaking away to the docks. He noticed with interest as once again the sun dimed and noises from the village muffled before fading away. He caught sight of the hooded boy sitting on one of the empty crates, looking out to sea. But when Harry got closer, red eyes turned to look at him, a tilt of his head betraying his curiosity.

“What?” Harry asked, “thought I wouldn’t come back?” the boy remained silent as head remained tilted, “so I’ll take that as a yes.” Harry walked over and hopped up on to a crate next to the boy before looking out to the sea. The other boy looked back out to the horizon as well but kept sneaking glances at Harry. They sat that way, listening to the lapping of the ocean and soaking up the peace, until an older lady wandered into the docks. The hooded boy bolted up and moved to intercept her, turning and placing a hand on Harry’s shoulder when he moved to get up as well. Although he didn’t know what was going on, he stayed seated. The hooded boy led the older lady to the boat and helped her in before getting in himself and untying the rope holding them to the dock. Once done, he sat down and picked up two oars from inside the boat before he started to row. Harry watched on as the little boat got father and father away from shore, until it was lost on the horizon. He knew that it would take about an hour for the hooded boy to return, and while he wanted to wait, he knew he didn’t have that much time. With a sigh, he got up and started to head back to the village, barely registering when the sun became blinding and the noises resumed their usual roar.

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It had been a few days since his last visit to the docks. His aunt had noticed his wanderings and had given him more chores to complete as a result. Each day he was unable to visit the docks left him feeling edgy and increasingly tense. The sun at times seemed too bright and the noises of the village too loud. It was at times like these that he wished he was at the docks with the hooded boy, at least there it was peaceful. He sighed, shaking his head as his thoughts drifted once more to the dock. He turned back to his task, pulling the pie out of the oven and setting it to rest on the bench. After checking it over once more for perfection, nodding after the pie completed the inspection, he turned to pick up the list of chores, so he could start on the next one. But under the line ‘bake a cherry pie, and it better be perfect!’ there was nothing but blank space.

Harry’s spirits soared, he had finished everything. He could finally make his way back down to the docks. He quietly opened the door and closed it with care. He waited only a few seconds to check that he hadn’t been discovered before bolting down the street and turning into the one that lead to the docks. He dodged people and stalls in his excitement, narrowly avoiding collisions with many people, including an elderly couple. He rushed passed with a quick ‘excuse me’ before continuing on his course. Not noticing how the old man’s eyes followed him like a hawk.

He arrived at the docks a bit out of breath, barely registering how the light and noises dimed. He saw the boy sitting on the same crates that they had been sitting on days before, looking out to the sea. He turned when Harry approached, surprise fliting across his face before his expression became neutral. An expression that Harry was far too familiar with. He saw it every time he caught his face in shop windows, or mirrors, or anything reflective really. And being so familiar with it, allowed him to read what was underneath. The boy was hurt. He had probably thought that Harry wasn’t coming back after his three-day absence. He decided then and there that no matter what, he would visit every day. But before that, he needed to give the boy some sort of explanation.

“Hey, sorry for not visiting. My aunt has been heaping on the chores lately, so I haven’t managed to get away.” He hoped that the explanation was enough to stop the boy from feeling like he had been abandoned. The small smile sent his way was answer enough, his excuse had been accepted. Harry hopped up onto the crates next to the hooded boy, content for the moment to simply look at the horizon.

A little while later, he spoke up, intent on getting one of his questions answered. “You know, you know my name, I think it’s only polite that you tell me yours.” He looked over the boy, hoping that he might start to talk, but all he got was a blank look. “Well if you won’t tell me your name then I’ll have to pick something for you, after all, everyone needs a name. Hm, let me think, you’re a ferry man so maybe something to do with the ocean? Sandy? Sheldon? Wave? No, no, no, that doesn’t suit you, maybe something to do with a boat? Oar? Woody? Nettie? No? Ok well maybe something to do with you? You have red eyes so maybe red? Or curl? Heck maybe I should call you cloak, after all, that’s what gave Dudley a spook.” He laughed. “Hey wait! Spook! That’s perfect! So be it, I’ll call you Spook.” Harry turned to look at the boy to see how the name would be received, watching with mirth as the hooded boy’s face scrunched up in obvious dislike. “Don’t like Spook huh? Well if you’d tell me your actual name I’ll call you that instead” he offered. The boy just gave him a blank unimpressed look.

“No? Well then Spook it is” he stated proudly. The newly named Spook looked to be only a few seconds away from ether getting in his little boat and sailing away, or throwing Harry in the water. He was surprised when Spook simply rolled his eyes, looking at Harry in a way that screamed ‘I can wait you out’. Harry was quite proud of himself, he was getting good at reading Spook’s facial expressions.

They spoke no more words that day. They simply sat together and watched the sun dip below the horizon, their eyes being drawn to each new star being revealed with the oncoming darkness. It wasn’t until after the sun had fully set that Harry sighed and stood up. “I have to get back before my aunt locks me outside, but I’ll see you tomorrow.” He turned to head back making it a few steps before turning back and calling out “bye Spook” before waving and running off, a goofy grin on his face all the while. It was a pity he missed the answering grin on spooks face, accompanied with a fond look of annoyance.

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The night before, Harry had barely managed to make it inside before his aunt had locked the door. Her look of disgust told him that he would be busy the next day, and true to form, he was. The list of chores had grown another half a page, showing just how petty his aunt could be. He had everything he would usually be required to do and then some jobs that were simply a result of getting home late last night. Some of the jobs he had already done only a day or two before, he knew that they didn’t need doing just yet and so did his aunt. They were just there to give him more to do. He resisted the urge to sigh and got stuck into the work, starting with making breakfast.

It was nightfall before he finished the list. He looked with disappointment toward the docks. He had promised himself that he would visit Spook every day, and he was breaking it on the first day. He thought of that lonely boy, with very few visitors, waiting for Harry to come visit and feeling abandoned again when he didn’t show. Harry knew the feeling of abandonment and he wouldn’t wish it on anyone, let alone want to be the cause of the feeling. The promise was heavy in his heart, and although he knew that there would be no way to avoid being locked out side, he decided that it wasn’t yet cold enough to really worry.

He would risk it.

As quietly as he possibly could, he snuck out of the house and made his way to the docks, only navigating by starlight. The new moon left the streets soaked in shadows, and if he hadn’t walked these streets nearly every day for most of his life, he wouldn’t have been able to make it. It was slow going, but he was almost there. He could smell the salt of the see and the fishy smell that forever permeated the docks, and he could hear the soft lapping of the ocean. He could feel the wood underneath his feet and so slowly turned to the left. He was looking for the border that would dim the stars and muffle the ocean. What he wasn’t expecting was for the temperature to warm and the stars to become brighter and nearly triple in number, illuminating the dock, and Spook sitting on the same crate as before.

Spook looked over, his head tilting in curiosity when he saw Harry. But no blank look that spoke of abandonment covered his face and no surprise flashed through his eyes. Harry was relieved.

“Hey, sorry about not making it here during the day. My aunt gave me a laundry list of chores, so I didn’t have time to sneak away until now. I hope you don’t mind?” he said tentatively. For all he knew, Spook didn’t appreciate visitors after dark. But Spook simply shook his head and sent a small smile Harrys way. He read it as ‘thanks for visiting’, and he sent his own blinding smile back in response. He joined the other boy on the pile of crates, taking his now usual spot. The night passed with the boys watching the plentiful stars and talking and listening respectively. It was only when the sun started to peak over the mountains and cast its light on them that Harry realised the time. “Oh no, I’ve been gone all night! If my aunt finds out I’m dead. Sorry to have to run off like this, but I have to go.” With a quick wave to Spook, he bolted back towards this aunt’s house, no longer noticing the change in light or sound, and only giving a slight shiver when the cold wind blew off the sea.

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Spook was once again left alone, with only the memory of Harry and his conversations to keep him entertained. But he was a solitary creature at heart, all ferrymen were. So why was he starting to worry for the young boy that kept visiting him, that kept talking to him even though he didn’t respond, and that seemed to live a horrible life if his stories were anything to go by. He frowned as he though back to all the things he had learned that night when Harry had started talking about his life and his problems. It was times like this that he wished it wasn’t forbidden to take a soul that wasn’t dead. But while he couldn’t do anything to get rid of young Harry’s problems, he might just be able to offer a bit of help. He called to the shadows and watched as a black shadow snake slithered out of the shadow cast by the crates.

~Yes master?~ it asked with its head tilted in curiosity. It was rare to be called out.

~I know you see everything, so I don’t need to show you who, but that boy, Harry. Protect him where you can, Nagini.~

~Of course master~ she said before taking her leave through the shadow she had emerged from. In all of her existence, she had never seen her master take an interest in a mortal soul, let alone a living one. It would seem

that things were getting quite interesting indeed. Spook watched her go, all the while wondering why he had called her in the first place. This wasn’t the first time that a living soul had wandered into the dock of departure, but it was the first soul that he had found himself caring about, and most certainly the first soul that he felt protective over. He didn’t know what was going on, but he had never denied himself his want’s and he wasn’t about to start now.

So, it seemed that he had a friend. What a funny concept.

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Weeks passed by and Harry kept the same routine. Finish his chorus, sneak down to the docks, talk with Spook, sneak back home, sleep then repeat. Some nights he made it back in time to sleep inside, but some nights he wasn’t so lucky. And with the dropping temperature, it was becoming more of a worry. He had already been locked out a few times this winter, but it had still been warm enough to be bearable. But not tonight. The wind was bitting, and the ground was starting to frost over, even his breath was starting to make an appearance. Harry shivered. He had just come back from the docks and had found the front and back door locked and the house dark. He had been locked out. The clouds above chose tonight to start to shower the world with its frosty children, starting to cover everything in a blanket of white. Harry felt like it was mocking him. To give a blanket with no warmth seemed like a cruel joke.

He shivered again, huddling closer to the door way, trying to keep warm with the little bit of heat seeping out from under the door. He wished to anything that would listen, hoping just to survive the night. A thought seemed to be his answer, as a little voice in his head whispered, ‘go to the docks, its warmer there. The ferryman will take care of you…’. He didn’t know why he hadn’t thought of it before, but it was perfect. He got up and started to make his way to the docks, hoping that Spook wouldn’t mind him sleeping there. He never noticed the little black snake that emerged from the shadow of the doorway he had been huddled in just moments ago, nor the satisfied glimmer in her eyes.

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~Master~ she hissed, gaining the ferryman’s attention. Spook turned and quickly found where Nagini had emerged from. He looked at her, wondering why she was here. He had sent her to watch over Harry weeks ago and had only seen her since in Harry’s shadow. ~The boy is coming; a storm is starting to come in and he was locked outside. He wouldn’t survive so I planted the idea that he should come here. It’s warmer.~ Spook nodded his understanding, already moving crates to form a make shift bed. He filled it with blankets and pillows, making it as comfortable as possible. He ignored the nagging feeling that he was trying to impress Harry, shaking it out of his head while he worked. Harry would be there soon after all.

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Harry made it to the threshold and stepped over, almost sighing in bliss as the temperature warmed significantly. It was still cold, but it felt more like an autumn breeze then the winter storm he had just escaped from. He shuffled to his normal meeting spot with Spook, trying to bring feeling back into his hands along the way. But when he arrived, Spook was nowhere to be found. His first thought was that he was out at sea, but the little row boat was still tied to the dock, gently bobbing with the waves. He frowned, wondering where Spook could be. He had always been sitting on the crates, or out at sea, he had never just been gone.

Harry was starting to worry. What if Spook had something to do and he came back tomorrow to find Harry sleeping there? What if he didn’t want him sleeping there? Harry had never been back twice in one day, what if Spook thought he was a bother? Thoughts started to fill Harry’s mind, and he almost considered going back to his previous sleeping location. He was so caught up in his thoughts that he didn’t notice Spook walking up to him from the side, until he tapped Harry on the shoulder. Adrenalin pulsed through his system until he realised that it was Spook. Adrenalin turned into relief and he sent the older boy a smile, receiving a small one in return.

“Hey, sorry for coming back twice in one day, but would you mind if I sleep here? I got locked out and a snow storm has hit.” Spook nodded his acceptance of the situation, much to the other boy’s relief. Harry fully expected to sleep on the wooden floor or maybe in one of the crates, but when he went to lay down Spook stopped him and wrapped an arm around his shoulder, before leading him further into the docks. Harry, in his half-frozen state, noticed how warm Spook was and had half a thought to snuggle into his arms. He didn’t get the chance however, as Spook withdrew his arm to gesture to a makeshift bed.

Its base was made out of the ever-present crates, but on top of them were blankets. So many blankets that Harry could easily bury into them and never be seen again, and Harry looked on with awe as Spook lead him over to it. Harry looked to Spook, silently thanking him and asking permission all in one. With a smile from Spook, he wasted no time in diving in, covering himself with as many blankets as possible. In his quest to burry himself, Harry found plump pillows scatted throughout the blanket mound. He quickly collected a few to use and smuggled them up to his head. He couldn’t believe it, he was surrounded by the warmest blankets and was laying on the softest pillows he had ever come across, and only fifteen minutes ago he was half frozen in the snow. He poked his head out to look at Spook, a question on the tip of his tongue he was dying to ask.

“Hey Spook, can I sleep here every night?” he asked with pleading eyes. Spook gave him an odd look, one that Harry couldn’t decipher, before nodding. Harry’s face lit up before Spook lost sight of it beneath the blankets.

“Good night Spook,” he heard, slightly muffled. He was asleep a few minutes later, oblivious to the fond look Spook sent his way.

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The light of the rising sun tinged the docks in warm gold and danced in Spook’s hair. Ferrymen had no need for sleep, so he had watched the night pass just as he had many nights before, the only difference being, instead of watching the stars and waves, he passed the time by watching over his new fascination. Harry. Mortals looked so peaceful when they slept, that he almost wished he could, just so he could join Harry in his land of dreams. He shook his head and smiled at the thought. What use did he have for dreams, when the only thing he might dream of was part of the waking world.

He glanced at the sun, knowing that Harry would have to get home soon, which meant he would have to leave soon, which meant he would have to wake up. Spook almost pouted at the thought, but knew that it would not bode well for his mortal if he was to get back late. He sighed and moved towards the makeshift bed, pulling off blanket after blanket until he could once more see his mortal. Spook reached out and gently shook Harry, watching with delight as vibrant green once more graced the world. Harry glanced at Spook before shutting his eyes against the light, he was comfy, he didn’t want to move. But Spook shook him some more until Harry gave in and got up. He looked at the sun and saw that it was nearly time for his aunt to get up and was suddenly very grateful that Spook had the forethought to wake him.

“Thanks Spook, it wouldn’t be good if I was late.” He got out of the bed and straightened his clothes, before waving and dashing away towards the threshold. “I’ll see you later Spook,” he called out behind him, once again missing the fond smile on Spook’s face. His mortal was so cute, he couldn’t wait until he returned, though nothing of his thoughts showed on his face. He also decided to ignore the fact that he now thought of Harry as ‘his mortal’ and allow himself to indulge, if only in his own thoughts. After all, he was a ferryman, he would one day have to take his soul across to the other side. After that, he would never see him again.

That though soured his mood, he didn’t like giving up what was his, especially someone like Harry.

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Harry ran though the quiet village towards his aunt’s home, dodging obstacles and feeling better than he had in a while, even as he started to shiver a bit from the thin layer of snow as it chilled the air around him in an icy embrace. He made it to the door just in time to hear his aunt’s footsteps as she came to unlock the door. She did so and sneered when she saw him, almost as if she had wanted him to freeze. In Harry’s mind she probably had. She thrust a list of chores into his hand and walked away, leaving Harry to close the door behind him as he made his way to the kitchen to make breakfast.

The day slowly passed as he completed his list, he was almost finished for the day with only the shopping left to do. He headed out with a couple of bags and the money his aunt had given him, with the customary warning to only buy what is on the list. He picked up most of the items and was up to the last one, the special blend of tea that his aunt was partial too. He made his way to the tea shop before pushing open the weathered door and stepping in. The smell of tea enveloped him, wrapping around him like ribbons of scent.

He inhaled and could feel his muscles start to relax. He made his way to the back of the shop, dodging around shelves piled high with tea, and picked up the tea that he needed before heading to the front. He rung the little bell to get the shopkeepers attention and waited patiently for him to emerge from the back of the store. When he swept the curtain covering the doorway to the side and walked through, he caught sight of Harry. His eye’s widened and then narrowed. Harry simply brushed the look out of his mind, he was more then used to people judging him on the stories his aunt told.

“You’re the boy that keeps going down to the docks every day, aren’t you?” he asked. Harry quickly covered his surprise. That was not what he expected him to say. He nodded his response, not sure of what else to do. An older lady came out from the back, having heard who her husband was speaking to.

“You best stay away from there,” he said. “Those docks are dangerous.” The woman nodded along.

“Dangerous indeed, no place for someone as young as you. why, you’d be no more than ten.” She spoke almost to herself, but her words were directed at Harry.

“Actually, I’m twelve, not ten miss.” He replied, thinking he was being polite. But his words had the couple freezing in their place, eye’s wide with terror and laced with pity.

“My boy,” the man spoke, his voice shaky. “My wife has been dead for nearly three months. I can see her because I am close to death, but you should not be able to. I’m sorry my boy, but it seems that you are close to death too. You’ll be dead by spring for sure.” The man then wrapped up the tea and handed it over, but when Harry tried to pay he simply waved it away. “I’m not far behind my wife, I’ll have no use for money soon so don’t bother. It’s the least I can do for someone who will follow our path so young. Enjoy what you can my boy.”

Harry didn’t particularly believe what the man was saying, but wanted to get out of there all the same. So, he nodded his thanks and walked as fast as he could without running out of the store. He thought about what the man said as he walked home, while avoiding the slushy puddles left over from last night’s storm. When he got to the house, he found that his aunt had gone out. So, taking his chance, he quickly put everything away and raced down to the dock.

When he crossed the threshold, he basked in the silence and welcomed the higher temperature, delighting in the change. He spotted Spook on his usual crate and walked over, waving when Spook turned to look at him. Spook smiled his greeting to the other boy and moved over a bit so that he could fit on the crate as well, before settling in to listen.

“Man, do I have a story for you today, Spook.” He turned his head to see if Spook was listening and got a nod as encouragement. “Well, I was doing the shopping today and had gotten everything except the tea, so I head to the tea store and grab what I need before heading to the front counter to pay. There’s no one there so I ring the little bell and wait. It wasn’t long before an old man walked out, but he looked at me weirdly. At first, I thought he was just judging me based on my aunt’s stories, so I didn’t worry too much, but then he asks me if I’m the kid that keeps going down to the docks every day. Then he tried to warn me that these docks are dangerous, and I shouldn’t come down here. Then an old lady comes out and said it was no place for someone of my age, then she said I was ten. So, I politely corrected her and said I was twelve, but then they both started to freak out. And then guess what they said.” Harry paused for breath and suspense, watching as Spook tilted his head in curiosity, waiting for Harry to continue.

“Then they said that the lady had been dead for three months and only people close to death, like her husband, could see her. Then they said that I would die by spring!” Harry stopped once more for breath, not noticing the stony look on Spook’s face. “That’s the worse prank and kind of rude, telling someone they are going to die soon. I mean, can you believe it Spook?” he turned to look at the ferryman, only now noticing the stony look on his face and the hard glint in his eyes. “Spook?” he asked, wondering if he had said something wrong. Spook stood up and started to head toward the threshold of the docks at a fast pace. Harry bolted up and ran to catch up, wondering what was going on, Spook never left the docks.

He caught up and matched his pace with the other boy, glancing with slight worry as they approached the threshold, but Spook did not stop and passed through without even a flinch at the glaring sun or the symphony of noise. Harry himself took a moment to adjust to the change, but managed to keep pace. They only started to slow when they reached the end of the docks and started to make their way into the village. People stopped and stared at the ferryman, pulling children away from his path and distancing themselves. Harry watched with curious eyes as everyone they passed moved away, some even ducking into houses or shops. He looked to Spook to see what he thought of the strange occurrence, but the other wasn’t paying the people in the street any notice, his eye’s were scanning the doors and signs instead.

All was silent until a voice rang out from the crowd and a boy grabbed onto Harry. “Hey freak, get away from the ferryman. I’m telling mum and you are going to be in so much trouble.” Dudley yanked on Harry’s arm, attempting to pull him into the crowd.

Until Spook’s arm shot out and latched onto Dudley’s wrist.

He let go of Harry’s arm as if he had been burnt, stumbling back to the safety of the crowd. Spook wrapped his arm around Harry’s shoulder and sent the most terrifying glare he could at the now cowering boy before continuing back up the street with Harry in tow, his arm firmly wrapped around his shoulders. The look in his eye’s clearly daring anyone else to try and take him from him, at their own risk. The bubble of empty space around them grew. No one wanted to get close.

They continued that way up the street, Spook’s eyes scanning every sign. Harry was starting to figure out what he was looking for. “Are you looking for the tea shop?” he whispered, well aware that everyone they went passed was staring at the pair. A small nod was his answer. “It’s at the top part of the street, it doesn’t have a sign, but I’ll show you the door when we get close.” Spook nodded again and stopped scanning signs, trusting that Harry knew the way. They walked for another minute before Harry spotted the worn door that marked the entrance to the tea shop.

He gave Spook a little nudge and inclined his head towards the right door. They veered off the road as Spook made a beeline for the door, still keeping his grip on Harry. He pushed the door open and nudged Harry to go in first before stepping in himself. The smell of tea enveloped them both as they made their way to the counter, where they rung the bell and waited for the shopkeeper to emerge. Just as he did only an hour earlier, he swept the curtain covering the door to the side and stepped out. But this time, instead of his eyes narrowing, they blew wide. A mix of astonishment and fear clear to see in their blue depths. The older lady that followed him out only moments later however, only sighed with acceptance. It would seem that death had found her once more.

“I’m guessing you’re here for me then?” she asked, already moving around the counter. Spook nodded and gestured to the door, making his point clear. It was time for her to go to the dock of departure, she could stall no more. The lady stopped and turned to her husband for a final goodbye. He tried to follow her, but she simply held her hand up to stop him. “I’ll see you soon enough my love, enjoy your last few months, for the both of us.” He looked at her with sadness and understanding, knowing that it wouldn’t be long before they could say hello again, he accepted her goodbye.

“I’ll see you on the other side then, my love. Safe journey.” He softly spoke, trying to stop the sadness from tainting his voice. The two shared one last look before she started to make her way out the door, the two boys following. As they made their way back to the docks, Spook once more wrapped his arm around Harry’s shoulder, and once more people all but leaped out of their way.

When they reached the docks and passed the threshold, Spook led Harry over to their usual spot and sat him down. He didn’t like the thought of Harry returning to the village while he was out at sea, especially after he had made it known that Harry was his. Fear made people cruel, and he didn’t want to risk it. After making sure that Harry would stay put, he lead the lady over to his boat and helped her in before getting in himself. He made sure she was settled, and with a final look at Harry, he started to row out to sea.

“You’re fond of that boy, I can see it. It is quite the pity that someone so young will die so soon. That’s why he is drawn to the docks, isn’t it?” she asked, wanting to know about the boy that would soon follow her path.

“He won’t die, at least not anytime soon,” Spook replied, the conviction in his voice strong.

“He is drawn to the docks, meaning he is close to death. Not even a ferryman can stop someone dying. I shouldn’t have to explain that to you, and thinking otherwise is just wishful thinking, and that will only hurt you in the end.” Her voice was sad, she knew the lonely existence of ferrymen. They carried the souls over the threshold and into the afterlife, reuniting them with their loved ones. But they themselves would always be alone.

“He’s not drawn to the docks,” he said with conviction. “He’s drawn to me.” He watched as confusion flittered across her face and rowed in silence while he waited for her next question.

“You?” she asked. “How can one be drawn to a ferryman? Children are told stories of your kind before they can walk, and everyone has an inherent fear of death. Why would he even risk being near you if he isn’t going to die soon?” There was no bite to her words, only confusion.

“He doesn’t know. It would seem no one told him stories of the ferryman or the dock of departure. He stumbled on it by accident when he was being chased by some bullies. I scared them off and sent him on his way, fully expecting to only see him again when he was due to depart. But only a week later he comes wondering into the dock to thank me, and he has returned nearly every day since. I can’t speak to him as it is forbidden for a ferryman to sway a living soul, but even though I say nothing, he keeps coming back. Seemingly content to just have me listen. And as I listened I became fond of him, he’s now my precious little mortal. And while I know that one day I will have to say goodbye, till then I will make sure that he is as safe as possible.” The tone of his voice showed her just how serious he was, so she nodded her understanding. They reached the threshold of the afterlife and Spook got up to help her out of the boat, but before she stepped over she smiled a warm smile at him and said.

“So, a ferryman has a friend, how delightfully unexpected.” She stepped over the threshold and disappeared before he could reply.

“How unexpected indeed,” he said to know one, letting the wind steal his words and blow them away.

                                                                                                                                                    ϫϫϫ Friend Of The Ferryman ϫϫϫ

Harry had been waiting nearly an hour on the crate that Spook had led him to before he had left. He passed the time by watching the waves and the sky, as well as replaying Dudley’s horrified expression when Spook had grabbed him. It was petty, but Harry decided that he didn’t care, and he would forever relish that expression. But when he wasn’t reminiscing or looking out to the horizon, he was thinking about why everyone had pretty much jumped out of Spook’s way. He knew that the ferryman didn’t leave the docks very often, considering today was the first time he had seen the other pass the threshold, so why would everyone be scared of him if they had never met him before? He pondered the question, trying to come up with an explanation, but he was only drawing a blank. Spook was kind and gentle, he was a great listener, and he could even admit it to himself that Spook was definitely easy on the eyes. He couldn’t think of even one reason everyone would be afraid of him. He sighed and resigned himself to not knowing, after all, there was no way Spook would tell him.

He didn’t have to wait much longer for the little row boat to make an appearance on the horizon. Harry watched as it came in and Spook climbed out, before tying the boat up so that it wouldn’t drift away. After finishing the last knot, he made his way over to the crates and took his usual spot next to Harry. They sat in silence watching the waves for a while, simply enjoying each other’s company. Harry broke the silence with a question. “Spook, that lady that you took out in your boat, she’s not coming back is she.” He looked over as Spook shook his head, Harry nodded his understanding.

“Spook, I know you can talk, you spoke the first time I met you, but you haven’t spoken since. I don’t know why, and I won’t push, but if you can, can you answer one question?” Spook only continued to look at Harry, not giving any indication of his ability to answer. “What do you do? You take people out to sea, but they never come back, and everyone in the village is scared of you. I just don’t understand.” He looked to the ferryman imploringly, hoping that just this once he would say something. But he just sighed and shook his head, saying sorry with his eyes. Harry turned away and nodded. “Oh well, it was a long shot that you’d actually answer. I guess it’s something that I’m not quite ready to know then.” Spook nodded his head, so Harry decided not to push his question, he would tell him when he was ready. Both boys looked back to the horizon, watching as the sun stained the sky in pinks, oranges and gold before dipping below the horizon and out of sight.

                                                                                                                                                   ϫϫϫ Friend Of The Ferryman ϫϫϫ

The next day dawned and the boy’s followed their usual routine, with Spook waking Harry up when the sun had crested the horizon, and Harry straitening his clothes before heading to his aunt’s house. Except today, Spook followed him to the threshold and didn’t let Harry pass until he had checked the area passed the threshold for any dangers. Harry simply shook his head and rolled his eyes fondly, thinking it was cute that Spook was being protective. The image of a mother hen popped into his head and he muffled a snicker, positive that Spook wouldn’t appreciate the comparison. After checking that nothing was lying in wait to hurt Harry, Spook let the other boy pass, waving him good bye as he disappeared up the street and out of sight.

Harry ran all the way to his aunt’s house, shivering slightly from the temperature. He was still quite warm from his bed down at the docks, so he didn’t worry too much, but he would still prefer to be inside. He made it to the door a few minutes early and so waited in the doorway, just as he had only a few nights ago. He reflected on how much had changed in such a short period of time, while he waited for his aunt. He didn’t have to wait long before he heard her footsteps and the click of the lock releasing. She didn’t sneer at him this time, merely ushering him inside before looking up and down the street then closing the door.

Harry waited patiently in the hall while he watched her strange behaviour. After she had closed the door, she thrusted his list of chores for the day into his hands before stalking off. He looked down and quickly skimmed the list as he made his way to the kitchen, noticing with surprise that the list was remarkably short. He was tempted to ask why but didn’t want to risk his aunt adding to it, he wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth. He got started on his chores for the day and let his mind wander as he got stuck into the work. He kept replay yesterday’s events in his mind, trying to understand why everyone was so scared of Spook. But no matter how he looked at it or how long he thought about it, he just couldn’t figure it out.

Due to the shortened list, he finished before noon and was able to sneak out and head to the docks much earlier than usual. As he headed out however, he noticed that nearly everyone he passed watched him, only to turn away when he looked at them. Some avoided crossing his path and others started to whisper.

“That’s the boy that was with the ferryman, isn’t it?” one lady whispered to another, a nod was her answer.

“That’s him,” another man pointed to Harry, not even bothering to be discrete. “He’ll die by spring, I tell you. No other reason for it.” The other villages around him nodded, all looking to Harry with pitiful eyes laced with fear.

“Mummy, is that the dead boy?” a little girl asked, tugging on an older lady’s dress.

“He’s not dead yet sweetie, but yes, from the looks of things he will be soon.” She replied, her eyes sympathetic.
Harry was starting to get annoyed, now the whole village was carrying on with the old tea man’s prank. He huffed and sped up, longing for the peace and quiet of the docks. He ignored the little thought of ‘what if they’re right?’, as he passed the threshold. After all, no one can tell when someone is going to die.

He met Spook at their usual spot and sat beside the other boy, letting his presence relax him. Spook sent a questioning look his way before gesturing to the sun, Harry nodded his understanding. “I’m here so early because my aunt gave me a short list of chores to complete, so I finished them before noon and with nothing else to do, I came down here.” Spook nodded his understanding and settled in for Harry’s daily stories.

“My walk down here was weird, Spook.” Harry informed him, his voice solemn. Spook tilted his head in curiosity, wondering what could have happened for Harry to sound the way he did. “Everyone was whispering about me, and some didn’t even bother to whisper. It was like I was on display and everyone could see something behind me that I couldn’t. Everyone was looking at me with ether pity or fear, sometimes both. They were all saying I would die by spring, every single one of them. Even a little girl, probably no more than five, asked if I was the dead boy. I don’t understand it.” His voice was almost a whisper by the time he had finished, barely heard above the breeze. Spook wrapped his arm around Harry’s shoulders, comfiting him as best he could. Harry leaned into the embrace, accepting the comfort that Spook offered. “Hey Spook, can I just stay here all day? I don’t quite feel like going back out there.” The ferryman nodded, and the boys stayed like that, with no more words spoken, until the sky was star speckled and Harry could barely keep his eyes open, before Spook led him to bed. He knew that tomorrow he would have to face the village again, but for now, he would sleep knowing that he was safe. “Goodnight Spook,” he mumbled out from underneath the blankets. A hand on top of his head, fingers carding through his hair was his response. And while it was a little strange, it was relaxing enough that Harry didn’t care. He fell asleep to the comforting action, a small smile finding a home on his face.

                                                                                                                                          ϫϫϫ Friend Of The Ferryman ϫϫϫ

Harry woke the next morning to fingers being carded through his hair and wondered if Spook had been doing it all night, or if it was only to wake him up. He sat up and Spook pulled his hand away, saying good morning with a smile. He returned it with a blinding one of his own before getting out of bed and straitening his clothes. He started to head towards the threshold with Spook keeping pace beside him and only stopping once they arrived. Just like the day before, Spook checked the surrounding area before letting Harry pass through, Harry simply rolled his eyes and waved as he started to make his way into the village.

As he made his way through the snow streets, he was reminded of what had happened the day before and he shuddered at the memory of everyone’s eyes on him. In that moment he couldn’t have been more grateful for the early hour. He did not feel like being the town gossip nor their target, they would get bored of their prank soon and leave him alone again, he just had to wait them out. He made it to his aunt’s house a few minutes earlier than usual, meaning he would have to stand out in the snow for a while longer. He was already slightly shivering and by the time his aunt had opened the door, his hands were ice cold and his feet were numb. He all but ran inside when his aunt moved to let him past, basking in the warmth of the fire that permeated the house. His aunt simply walked past him and shoved his list of chores into his ice-cold hands before walking off. Harry took an extra moment to glance down at his list, which was even shorter than the one before it, and to rub some more feeling into his hands before following her into the kitchen and starting his day.

                                                                                                                                          ϫϫϫ Friend Of The Ferryman ϫϫϫ

The next two months passed in the same fashion, with his lists getting shorter and the weather getting colder, until one day no list was given, and Harry was free to do as he pleased. As a result, he spent nearly every minute of every day down at the docks with Spook, only leaving the other boys side when he left in his boat or when Harry went to get food. The temperature in the village was nearly unbearable, so his trips out of the dock were short and sporadic. But the weather was starting to warm, with the snow melting and none falling anew, and as such the villager’s scrutiny of Harry increased. On every trip out, they stared and whispered with pity in their eyes but fear in their actions. They gave him gifts and small trinkets but pulled children away when he drew near. For Harry, it was nearly unbearable having everyone’s eyes on him after living most of his life as a general nobody. They had started calling him the boy who didn’t live and each time the weather warmed even the tiniest bit, they would stop and stare when they next saw him. Everyone was waiting for spring, even Harry, if only to stop the attention.

It was on one of these days, where the weather had warmed, that Harry had decided not to venture out of the docks, something Spook was all too happy about. They had gotten closer during the winter months, with physical contact between them now being the norm. meaning that more often than not, Spook found himself on the floor with his back against a crate, while Harry was sprawled out in his lap. This was how they were when the old man from the tea shop wandered into the docks. Spook was the first to spot him, gently nudging Harry off of his lap so he could get up, before heading over to intercept him. The old man stopped walking and looked the ferryman up and down, before glancing over at Harry.

“Still kicking, are you? haven’t seen you around. Thought you might have beaten me to the finish.” The old man shook his head, missing the look of confusion on Harry’s face. “Never mind then, I’m glad you’re still up and about. I wouldn’t want to see you again too soon.” He smiled before making his way over to the boat and jumping in, looking up to Spook once he was settled. “Well come on ferryman,” he said in jest. “I’m only one boat ride away from my beloved, and I think we have been apart for too long as it is.” Spook nodded before waving to Harry and untying the boat from the dock. He jumped in and got settled before starting to row. Harry watched them go until the little boat was no longer visible on the horizon, before heading to his bed and sprawling out. After all, there was no point in waiting on the hard ground when he could wait in his soft bed.

                                                                                                                                      ϫϫϫ Friend Of The Ferryman ϫϫϫ

Spook set a fast pace, wanting to get back to Harry as fast as possible. They had spent hardly any time away from each other all winter, and even though they hadn’t been separated for more than fifteen minutes, Spook was starting to miss him. He stayed silent and focused on his task, watching the old man as he looked to the horizon, obviously eager to see his wife again. They stayed that way until they reached the threshold, where the man stood up and smiled at the ferryman. But instead of jumping through strait away like Spook expected, he turned with one final message.

“That boy, the one that keeps coming down to the docks, tell him that he won’t be alone when he crosses. My wife and I would be more than happy to take him in.” he jumped before Spook could reply, leaving a very annoyed ferryman behind. He shook his head and sighed, there was no point worrying about it now, his wife would tell him. Spook didn’t doubt it, so he picked up his oars and started to head back, not giving the man another thought.

He made it back a few minutes earlier than expected, docking his boat and tying it off before heading off into the docks to look for Harry. A quick glance showed that he wasn’t in their usual spot, so he simply made his way to the back of the docks, where Harry’s makeshift bedroom was located. He spotted his mortal on the bed, laying on top of the ever-present blankets, fast asleep. Spook rolled his eyes, safe with the knowledge that Harry couldn’t see, and moved to cover the sleeping boy. It was almost spring, and while the weather had warmed enough for no more snow to fall, there was still a chill to the breeze. He didn’t want him to catch a cold after all. Spook settled in to wait, content to just be near Harry, while amusing himself with the faces that the other was making in his sleep.

Harry woke up a short time later when the light was just starting to dim as the sun went down. Spook greeted him with a smile and Harry smiled back, once again grateful for finding a friend like Spook. Harry sat up and yawned before stretching his arms up to the sky and cracking his neck. When he finished, he turned to Spook. He had a few questions to ask. Spook, recognising his questioning look, gracefully flopped down onto the bed and got comfortable. Harry beamed at him. “You’re awesome Spook,” he praised. The look Spook sent him in reply was one that Harry read as ‘duh, just figuring this out now?’ Harry just rolled his eyes before getting into his questions.

“That man, he’s not coming back ether is he.” Spook shook his head and Harry nodded his in understanding. “Yeah, I didn’t think so, but at least he’s with his wife, right?” Spook nodded, he was fairly sure all souls ended up in the same place, so he had no trouble answering that. “That’s good, it’s no fun being lonely after all.” Spook nodded, he never understood that until recently, but he could now understand it with perfect clarity. “Was he happy?” Harry asked. Spook sent him a look that Harry read as ‘huh? What do you mean?’ “I mean was he happy when you dropped him off to wherever you drop people off?” Spook thought about it, he thought about how the man was acting and what he was showing on his face, and then thought how he would feel if the roles were reversed. If it had been Harry waiting for him and he had to go past the threshold to see his mortal again, he would with a smile on his face and a bounce in his step. Spook nodded, he was sure the man had been happy. Harry smiled in return, “good,” he said, before proceeding to fling a pillow in spooks face.

As the pillow fell, Spook’s shocked expression was revealed. His eyes were blown wide with his eyebrows raised in shock, his mouth was even gaping open like fish. Harry’s laughter rang out as he watched Spook try to process what just happened. But it didn’t take Spook long before a glint entered his eyes and a smirk graced his lips. Harry’s laughter was abruptly cut off as Spook’s retaliation pillow hit him squarely in the face. Spook had a moment to savour the small victory before Harry launched another pillow, blinding smile on his face all the while. The boys passed the night having a pillow fight of epic proportions before calling a truce long after the stars had made an appearance. Harry fell into his bed, exhausted in a good way. As most of the pillows had been ruined in the pillow fight, he pulled Spook down to be a substitute. Spook was more than happy to oblige, and the boys spent the night cuddled up together, one in the land of dreams and the other wondering how he had gotten so lucky as to meet the other.

The next few weeks passed by uneventfully, until Harry ventured out for supplies, and realised that it was spring.

His first clue was the warm breeze that greeted him, when only the bitting cold had before. He looked wearily toward the village and debated going back to the docks, but he needed supplies. He sighed before squaring his shoulders and heading in. If he was lucky everyone would have forgotten about the prank and they’d leave him be, and if he wasn’t, well he didn’t want to think about that.

As he headed up the street, he passed a few dock workers heading towards the boats. The three men didn’t even glance at him as they passed, and Harry sighed out in relief. It seemed like the village had forgotten their prank and Harry couldn’t have been happier about it. He smiled as he sped up, walking with confidence instead of caution and an added bounce to his step. He couldn’t wait to tell Spook that it had all blown over and hurried into the main street to get his shopping out of the way. He turned the corner and made it three steps in before all hell broke loose.

The moment he had rounded the corner he had been spotted by one of the shopkeepers trying to sell their wares. And she had promptly called out in shock, “wait? You’re still alive?” gaining the attention of everyone around her. Everyone turned to look at him and Harry could already hear the whispers starting and could see people further down the street taking an interest in the commotion. His smile faded, no body had forgotten. Harry made his way into the street and started to collect what he would need as fast as possible, not even bothering with being annoyed when half the stores wouldn’t take money from him, he just moved on to get the next thing. Within twenty minutes he had finished and all but ran back to the docks, sighing in bliss as he passed the threshold and escaped the prying eyes and pitying words. he shivered at the memory of whispers passing behind his back and eyes following his every move, he had had enough.

Harry made his way into the docks looking for Spook but couldn’t see him. He looked toward the edge of the dock and noticed that the little row boat was gone, and when he looked to the horizon, he could just make out the little boat.

With three extra people sitting in the front.

Harry couldn’t be sure, but he thought that they might have been the three dock workers that he passed on his way to the village. He rolled his eyes skyward, now understanding why they didn’t look at him weirdly or whisper about him, the ones that came to the dock never did. He put them out of his mind, knowing they weren’t coming back, and started to pack away his shopping into the makeshift cupboard that Spook had put together for him.

Afterward, he settled in on their usual crate and started to think. After all, he only had an hour before Spook came back.

Spook dropped the three fishermen off with a huff of relief. He had just endured half an hour of sea shanties mixed in with tales of how the three had died. Big shock, they drowned. Spook had guessed before they had even gotten in his boat and had said as such when they had started their tale, but the three simply didn’t care if he knew the ending, as they were convinced he needed to know the whole story. And after they had finished their tale, they had filled the silence with sea shanty after sea shanty. It was enough to make Spook regret that he couldn’t just dump them in the ocean and be done with them. But he persevered and got them to the threshold, only breathing a sigh of relief once they all had passed. Now he simply wanted to get back to Harry, he missed his mortal. For the next half an hour he rowed with determination, only slowing when the dock came into view. He brought the boat into the dock, manoeuvring it so it was as close as possible before throwing the loop around the poll. Before he could properly secure it, he spotted Harry making his way over. Spook smiled hello and was greeted with a smile of his own, except that Harry’s smile seemed flat in a way. Spook tilted his head as if to ask what was wrong and watched as Harry got closer.

“Hey Spook,” he said with a wave, his pace never slowing. Spook waved back but watched on with confusion as Harry just kept getting closer. Usually he would wait on the boardwalk, but he was now making his way down the small jetty. He came right to the edge where the boat was moored and smiled down at Spook. Spook raised his eyebrow, as if to say, ‘what’s going on’, but Harry just continued to smile.
Before he jumped into the boat with him.

Harry’s landing rocked the little boat and caused both boys to grab for something to keep their balance, but once they were both righted, Spook turned to Harry in alarm. He reached for the mortal, fully intending to pick Harry up and put him back on the docks, but Harry held up his hand to halt Spook’s actions. He started gesturing to the docks, trying to get Harry to understand that he wasn’t meant to be in the boat, but Harry just smiled before he started to explain.

“Your job must be really lonely, huh Spook.” He asked. Spook just looked at him, not understanding. Yes, it was lonely before, but now Harry was waiting for him when he got back. Loneliness was no longer an issue. Harry let the confusion spread across his face before asking the question he had been wanting to ask since he had gotten back from shopping. “So how about I do it with you? I know you take people somewhere out to sea, so it can’t be that hard, and what I don’t know I’ll learn. Ok?” Spook looks at Harry in utter bewilderment as the meaning of Harry’s words start to register. Spook looks at Harry for a few minutes, watching as Harry waits for his answer, and sees how sure Harry is of his decision. But he needed to be sure, Harry didn’t know what he was offering, Spook needed to give him a way out.

“Why? Why would you want to come with me? You don’t know what I do, and once you commit to my line of work there’s no going back, ever. Harry, you don’t even know my name.” Harry took a moment to process Spook’s words, or more the fact that Spook was saying words, before smiling a gentle smile.

“That’s right, I don’t know your name. So how about you tell me? Since I’ve already decided not to leave you alone.” Spook was once more shocked by the mortal that was Harry and the conviction and absolute certainty he was able to muster. He smiles his own soft smile while he extends his hand, Harry grasps it without the slightest hesitation.

“Tom” he says as he gently squeezes Harry’s hand, “my name’s Tom.”