• Shreya Teresita

Neil Grey and Padfoot's Purse

He wasn’t the kind of guy who gave in easily, but hunger had been piling up in his stomach for two days now. Plus, the way winter seeped into the basement of his foster parent’s house made things worse. The blanket that they’d given him was thin as paper and smelled of mice. Every time he pulled it up, his stomach threatened to spill.

At last, he kicked the blanket off and got up, bumping his head on low ceiling again. He was too tall for the basement now, but his foster parents pretended not to notice his growth spurt. Most of the time, Mr and Mrs Purdy pretended not to notice him at all.

As he quietly stepped out of the basement, he stole a glance upstairs: the Purdys were deep in sleep. He had been unable to steal any food lately because of their son, Mason, who had been lurking downstairs all night. Today, even that bloke seemed to be asleep.

However, his rush died down the moment he reached the kitchen door; a lock was hanging from its latch, with a post-it stuck above it.

Yo Neil, eat dung!

Love, Mason

With no hope left here, Neil pulled on all the sweaters that he had, took his school backpack and sneaked out through the front door, which, by the way was under a single bolt.

Even at the crack of dawn, the streets didn’t scare him. The wind hit his face like a whip, swirling in through his layers of sweaters and making him shiver. But he kept walking. His hunger was a little stronger than his urge to stay warm.

Absent-mindedly, he ran his fingers through his soft-brown hair had overgrown the last cut, falling all over his dark green eyes and cheekbones. It had been a while since he had last shaved; hence, there was a line of stubble on his sharp, chiseled jaw. Despite his thin-built, he was tough. After all, how many 16-year olds can you find who could dig up a six-foot deep grave in ten minutes, and that too for twenty quid?

Neil had first come to downtown London with some lady called Amelia from the child protective service. He doesn’t quite remember where he lived before that; the service people separated him from his drug-addict mother when he was barely three. Since then, it has been a vicious cycle of foster homes. One after another after another. Twenty-seven homes in thirteen years.

One time, he ran away from this house that had a swimming pool and BMW, but couldn’t get too far before the police caught him. His then-foster father accused him of running away with his gold ring; nobody believed anything Neil said, even when he showed the bleeding welts on his back. Since then, he has never complained again, or tried to run away. He was just waiting to turn eighteen when they’ll officially kick him out of the system. Until then, he will just have to fend for himself unofficially.

After walking for about thirty minutes, Neil reached the metro station. He came down just in time to jump on to a train about to leave. Even the train was chilly and deserted. However, despite the inviting vacant seats, Neil remained near the gate.

Eventually, the train got crowded. Neil stood quietly in his place; eyes down, ears alert, waiting for the easiest target. That’s when a young fellow came and stood in front of him; black hair, round glasses, weird scar on the forehead. He looked tensed, attention completely tuned out, travelling with an eccentric, red-haired man who looked too happy to be on the train, like it was a magic train taking him to some magical land.

As the train jolted to a stop at the next station, Neil swiftly pulled out the purse from the black-haired guy’s pocket and got down from the train, vanishing into the crowd.

Once he was out and far enough from the station, Neil pull open the purse’s strong. Instead of money, a couple of funny-looking golden coins stared back at him. Confused, Neil looked closely and found an intricate stamp reading Gringotts.

Angry and hurting with hunger, Neil flung the purse away; the coins went flying across the pavement, but the purse latched on to the button of his sleeve by its string. As he pulled at it, he suddenly realized that purse was now bulgier and heavier than it was before. He stopped struggling with it and brought it closer to his eyes, noticing the small, golden letters across its green velvety surface:

For Padfoot,

Ask and you shall get to binge.

From Prongs

The next minute, a mouth-watering waft began to escape from the bulging purse. Neil upturned the purse, and a freshly-baked fruit bun fell into his palm.

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