While Snape comes into the story in chapter two, the first Harry and Snape interactions don't happen until chapter four. They get more frequent and interesting as the story progresses with a lot more Snape involvement in the second half of the story. The story focuses on Harry, Remus, and Severus, though later on Ron and Draco become more involved in the story. Sirius is in the story, but not for a long while yet. I was interested in writing a story with a lot of Remus involvement because I hadn't read very many and it was a relationship I wanted to explore to see how it would affect the Harry and Snape dynamic.
1. The Stranger Who Knew Me by JAWorley
2. The List by JAWorley
3. Travels by JAWorley
4. Dumbledore's Man by JAWorley
5. The World Beyond Camp by JAWorley
6. Old Friends, New Friends by JAWorley
7. The Weasleys by JAWorley
8. Lost Boy by JAWorley
9. Found Boy by JAWorley
10. Not So Spectacular by JAWorley
Remus Lupin was not a happy man. That was not to say that in general he had a sour disposition, because he did not, but life as a werewolf was anything but glamorous; the Ministry made sure of that. He'd had little money in his bank account when he'd emptied it days ago, and few possessions worth anything that he could sell to raise funds for what he was about to do. He had few friends and even fewer people he could trust. Those he had once been closest to were dead or imprisoned.
Being a werewolf meant he was untrustworthy and unemployable, so that left little legal recourse when it came to Harry Potter. He'd been to Dumbledore three times now begging the man to remove Harry from the care of his relatives. He'd even taken pictures of Harry's bruises and one of his uncle manhandling him as he dragged him by the arm up the front steps into the house. Dumbledore didn't care. He was insistent that Harry stay there until he was 17. "He'll be eleven next year," Albus had told him. "Then he'll be safe at Hogwarts for most of the year."
"And in the meantime he'll be beaten and starved and ignored," Remus had spat back angrily, "and you'll send him right back to that place every summer and every holiday. What if he doesn't make it to Hogwarts?"
Albus had not disagreed with his angry statement and it made Remus' blood boil. There was not much that could make Remus angry, but Albus had been pushing all the right buttons lately, and he had a feeling that the man really did not care for Harry's well-being at all. It was well known by the members of the Order (which had been disbanded years ago) that Dumbledore didn't believe Voldemort was dead. The man believed he would come back and that Harry would have to fight him one day. Remus felt it in his bones that Harry's placement with the Dursley's had something to do with that grim future fight, though he couldn't figure out how.
With Dumbledore having control over Harry's future (he had a lot of pull with the Wizengamot) and with Remus' status in the wizarding world, there was no way he could petition the court for custody of Harry. It just wasn't possible. That only left one option, for which Remus had been preparing for over the last few days. He was going to do something very wrong for a very right reason: he was going to kidnap Harry Potter. He'd taken the meager thirty galleons out of his account, sold his grandfather's pocket watch and his mother's wedding ring (both family heirlooms) and bought supplies. He was ready for Harry, but that wasn't the issue. The issue was, was Harry ready for him? Remus was a stranger to him after all, and Harry had no reason to trust him. He didn't fancy snatching the child up off of the sidewalk and apparating away either. If Harry didn't trust him, none of his carefully laid yet quickly made plans would work.
Remus watched Harry from down the street. He was weeding the front garden again as the sun beat down on his back. It was August and school hadn't started up yet and the child's aunt and cousin had gone into town like they did every Thursday afternoon. Now was the time he thought, steeling himself for the reality that kidnapping The-Boy-Who-Lived was sure to carry a life sentence in Azkaban. If he was lucky, maybe he'd get a cell next to Sirius. This certainly wasn't going to lend him any help in the trustworthiness department either, but then again, being a werewolf, he had no hope of ever being trusted. Shaking himself mentally, Remus walked down the street. He had no illusions that this wouldn't eventually end in his capture. Until then he had one mission: get Harry away from harm and keep him safe. Remus was a Marauder and Marauder's stuck together and helped each other, even if all the others were gone.
Smoothing down the front of his button up Muggle shirt, Remus sighed and headed towards the working child. This was it. There was no turning back now. "Harry Potter?" he put on a smile as he stood on the sidewalk behind the small child, hands in his pockets. He didn't want to look menacing, though he worried that with the scars on the side of his neck it was impossible to avoid.
Harry turned and frowned. "Yes?" His voice was uncertain, and Remus knew he wasn't used to being addressed as anything other than 'boy' while there with the Dursleys.
"You don't know me," Remus said, still smiling, and trying not to stare at Harry's black eye or the bruises in shapes of fingerprints on his bare arms, "but I knew your father and mother. We went to school together."
"They're dead," Harry said flatly, and turned back around to pull at a stubborn weed that didn't want to release it's hold on the earth.
"Yes," said Remus, unable to keep the sadness from his voice. "I know."
"It was a car crash," Harry said, back still to the stranger.
Remus stared at him. "It was not a crash."
Harry turned. "My aunt said it was a crash. My dad was drunk."
"Your father was in law enforcement and a very bad man broke into the house one night and killed he and your mother."
Harry stared at him, unable to break eye contact, and they stayed that way for long moments while the boy worked through what he'd just been told. "They were murdered?"
"And you did it? You're coming to finish me off too?"
Remus couldn't keep himself from laughing then. "Forgive me, I know there's nothing funny about it. It's something your father would have said though. No, the man who killed them was named Voldemort. My name is Remus Lupin."
"And you knew my parents?" Harry asked to confirm again.
"I did. We were in the same year at school. Your father was one of my best friends."
"Then tell me his name."
"James Henry Potter. And your mother was Lily Evangeline Potter, but her last name used to be Evans."
"I didn't know their middle names. Aunt Petunia doesn't talk about them."
"No, I don't imagine she does."
Harry turned to go back to his weeding but then paused and looked back at the man who had identified himself as Remus. It felt strange to be having a civil conversation with him. He did seem to know his parents, but why did he care to stop and talk to Harry? Nobody talked to Harry like Remus was speaking to him.
"What do you want?" Harry asked, and noted that Remus' features grew serious even though his smile was still there.
"To take you away from here."
Harry sat up straight and wiped his dirty hands on his pants. "What do you mean?"
"By your black eye it looks like your family doesn't take the greatest care of you. If you'd like to live somewhere else, then I would like to offer you a safe place." He paused and considered Harry. He needed to tell him the truth about what he'd be in for if he went with him willingly. "I can't promise you a glamorous life Harry. I'm not wealthy. I can't even promise you a nice house like the one you live in now. I can promise that you'll be fed and clothed though, and that I will never harm you. I can promise that I will do my best to protect you no matter what."
"Why would you want to do that? I'm not worth much except to do chores. I always burn the bacon and I can't fry eggs without breaking them." He was going to mention accidentally scratching uncle Vernon's car the last time he'd washed it and how he'd gotten walloped for it, but held back. This man wanted to take him away from here, and Harry was too curious about what he'd say next to spoil it with telling him all of his flaws in one go.
"I don't expect you to do chores or cook or clean. I only expect that you'll do your best in whatever you decide do."
Harry stood up and dropped the tool he had in his hand. He walked over to Remus and stared up at him. Remus wasn't tall like uncle Vernon, but he was still a lot taller than Harry. "Will I live in a cupboard?"
"And you said I could have clothes?"
"Then I'll come."
As Remus stared down into the serious green eyes he couldn't decide if Harry was too trusting because of his young age, or if he was simply so desperate to get away from his family that he'd risk leaving with a stranger he'd just met. He'd have to have a talk with him later about who he chose to give his trust to in the future. Remus didn't want to push his luck now though. He was simply thankful that Harry was going to make this easy for him.
"If you're going to come, we have to leave now. Others will consider this kidnapping and there will be people looking for us. Like I said, there will be nothing glamorous about the life we will lead."
"My aunt and uncle won't call the police. They don't want me here anyway."
"No, I don't imagine they will, but it's not them I'm worried about."
"I don't care," Harry said, growing desperate. "I don't want to be here anymore. I don't belong here. I don't," he insisted, and his eyes shone with wetness in the bright sun. Remus wondered then how long Harry had been trying to convince himself that he wasn't all of the nasty things the Dursley's told him he was, and that he really didn't belong there.
"Then take my hand, and I'll explain everything when we get to where we're going."
Harry gave his scarred hand an uncertain look, but then took it. He'd never held anyone's hand before, and he felt strange doing so now as a ten year old and with a stranger no less. He expected the man to take him to his car. Maybe he was being foolish going with him. They'd been warned in school about strangers and their false promises... anything to get kids to go with them so they could kidnap them, but Remus had been honest. He'd said that he was kidnapping Harry for his own good and that there would be people after them, hadn't he? He'd said they'd be on the run, that life wouldn't be perfect. Harry didn't care. He had to chance it. He never wanted to see this street, or this house, or his family again. Instead of walking away, Remus gripped his hand tight and darkness engulfed them. Harry felt like he couldn't breath, like all the air was gone or like pillows were being pressed around him on all sides, but then there was light again, and he was breathing, and they weren't on Privet Drive anymore.
"I er- what? What happened?"
"I promised you I would explain," Remus said. He pointed and Harry looked and saw a thick tan canvas tent. They were in a meadow surrounded by woods and they were alone. Harry was fairly certain he was dreaming at this point. He'd had dreams about someone coming to rescue him from the Dursleys before and was always disappointed when he woke up. Once he'd even dreamed that Santa had come to deliver presents at Christmas and his present was getting to ride away in Santa's sleigh, laughing as they flew away because all the Dursleys got was coal. Strangely enough, Santa's sleigh was a flying motorcycle, and Santa wore flying goggles and didn't have gray hair.
Remus seemed to be waiting for a reaction. Harry wanted to say something about living in a tent, but remembered that he'd told the man he didn't care, and wasn't about to complain.
"Let's sit down and then I'll tell you," Remus said, and let Harry lead off to the tent. There were two blue folding camp chairs sitting in front of the tent flap around a campfire ring made of stones, and Harry sat down in one of them, feeling nervous like he had when the stranger first approached him.
"What just happened was called apparation. It's something that wizards can do," Remus explained.
Harry frowned. He wanted to point out that wizards weren't real, but aside from this being a dream, he had no way of explaining how they had been on Privet Drive one moment, and then here the next. "And you're... a wizard? Uncle Vernon said magic isn't real."
"Your aunt and uncle lied to you about your parents deaths. They also lied to you about other things. Magic is real, and I'm a wizard. So are you."
Remus pulled out his wand and held it out to Harry, who took it uncertainly. "That's my wand," he said at the skeptical look on Harry's face. "Wave it." Harry did so and jumped back when a single blue spark came out the end.
"It's not a trick," Remus assured him, holding his hand out for his wand and taking it back. "That only works for someone who has magic. Both of your parents were magic. We went to school together at Hogwarts, a magic school in Scotland. I told you that your parents were murdered. They were murdered by an evil wizard named Voldemort. People in the magical community call him He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named or You-Know-Who or even the Dark Lord because they're afraid of him, even though he's dead. They think he'll come back one day and cause all kinds of terror again."
"Why did he have to kill my parents?"
Remus gave him a hard look. "Harry, I'm going to be honest with you. Things have been kept from you for long enough. Your parents fought him and he came to kill them. They died protecting you. When he went to kill you, his magic rebounded back and killed him instead, leaving you with that scar." He pointed to Harry's forehead and Harry's hand automatically went up to the lightning bolt under his fringe of hair. He'd always thought his scar was kind of cool, but knowing now that it had been the result of a murderer trying to kill him, it didn't seem like it anymore.
"You're a hero Harry. The wizarding world adores you, and when they find out you've been kidnapped, every auror, every ministry official will be out looking for us."
Harry wanted to object about being a hero. It just wasn't true. His parents may have been murdered (if he really was going to believe this man... Remus), but there's no way he had been responsible for defeating an evil murderous wizard. He clamped his mouth shut as he thought about it all for several moments, before he finally asked, "Auror?"
"Wizarding police. They work for the Ministry of Magic. Your father was an auror for a very short time before he was killed."
"But you didn't kidnap me, I went with you on my own."
"Harry, there are politics involved. I'm not exactly sure of everything myself at this point. The Headmaster at Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore, made the decision to place you with your aunt and uncle as a baby. A little over a month ago I decided to come and see you, but instead I was turned away at the door by your uncle and I watched the house to see if you'd come out. You did. I saw what they were like... how they treated you. I tried to convince Albus to take you away from there, but he refused. Three times. There are many wizarding families who would be happy to take you in, but he thinks you should stay put where you are. He, like most of the wizarding world think you have the ability to vanquish Voldemort."
"But you said he's dead." And I'm just Harry, he insisted silently. I don't vanquish evil wizards, I mess up my chores and make adults mad. That was the only truth Harry knew.
"The Headmaster spearheaded the movement against Voldemort in the first war, and he believes that Voldemort is not dead. He thinks he'll come back, and that it's your destiny to destroy him."
"I don't even know how to do magic though!" Harry insisted loudly, and Remus held up his hand to calm him.
"Not yet. I intend to teach you. I also intend to keep you safe from your relatives, and that means keeping you away from Albus Dumbledore. If he catches us I'll go to prison and you'll go back to your family."
"We'll both go to prison," Harry said glumly.
"Yes." Remus sighed.
"Do I- do I get to go to the school then? Hogywarts? Since I'm a- wizard?" He seemed to be testing the words, as if he'd get yelled at just for saying them.
"Hogwarts. Students start to attend when they're 11 and go until they're 17. And I haven't figured that out yet. If you go the headmaster will send you back to your family for holidays like summer and Christmas."
"I don't want that."
"No," Remus agreed. "There's still a year until we have to worry about that. For now I intend to teach you what I can to keep you safe. You need to learn defensive and offensive spells in case we're found. I wouldn't be surprised if they've already discovered that you're gone. There are rules you need to know though. There's a law against underage magic, so I can't get you your own wand. You'll have to use mine. Typically you're not allowed to begin learning until eleven and even then you're only allowed to use your wand at school until you're seventeen. They put a trace on all wands of those under seventeen. You'll be able to use my wand without consequence though."
"So- we're going to live here in a tent, and I get to use your wand to do magic, and we have to stay away from the Dumbledore guy." He wanted to make sure he had everything straight. If this was a dream, it was a confusing one and he wanted to remember everything that had been said so he could try to figure it all out later.
"Yes," Remus said with a warm but tired smile. "Dumbledore and a host of other people. Right now there's no one we can trust. We'll move our camp every few days to ensure no one can get close to us. I already have magical wards... special spells up around us," he clarified, "so no one can see us, Muggle or Wizard."
"People like your aunt and uncle. Non-magical." He paused and wondered if Harry believed what he had been telling him. "Before we do anything else though, I need to take care of your injuries and get you something to eat."
Harry reached up to touch his black eye and squinted from the painful contact.
"Come into the tent. I have healing potions."
Uncertain, Harry followed him into the tent, still wondering if this was some sort of trap, or a dream that would soon turn into a nightmare. He was surprised by how big the tent was inside. It wasn't huge but it was certainly bigger inside than it was outside. There were two cots on opposite sides with sleeping bags and blankets and pillows, an aging wooden trunk between the two of them, a short wooden stool, and a small wooden table. There were also two large clear plastic storage containers that looked like they were filled with food, and there were two pots and one pan stacked on top of them.
"It's not much," Remus said, "but it's what we need. We'll have to get food in town every few days, but if we stay away from wizarding communities we should be fine. Have a seat."
Harry sat on the edge of one of the cots and Remus opened the trunk and began to rummage around. "Here," he said, pulling out a blue backpack and handing it to Harry. "That's yours, your clothes are inside."
Ignoring what Remus was doing for a minute, Harry opened the bag eagerly and began to pull things out and set them on the cot. There were a few shirts his size, a pair of shorts, and two pairs of pants. He could tell they were gently used but they were wonderful, he thought. No rips, tears, or stains and they weren't faded or baggy like what he was wearing now. At the very bottom there was a brand new package of underwear and a new package of socks. When he looked up again Remus had set a toothbrush, toothpaste, and hairbrush on his cot next to the clothes.
"It's important to keep everything in your bag when you're not using them so we can pick up and leave at a moment's notice. There are shoes under your cot and you can keep them attached to your bag with these." He handed Harry two green metal D-rings, the kind people used to rappel with. Harry got on his hands and knees on the floor and looked under the cot. There was a pair of gray and blue hiking boots and a pair of brown sandals. They looked new and he eagerly pulled them out and began taking his dirty gray trainers off.
"I can see your black eye and the bruises on your arms, is there anywhere else that you're hurt?" Remus asked, finally pulling several glass jars with screw top lids out of the trunk.
"Huh? Oh, I've got some bruises on my ribs but I don't think they're broken this time."
"Lift your shirt and let me see."
Harry dropped his new sandals and did as he was told. He wasn't sure what could be done about it. Remus had said he could heal him and Harry guessed it would be with magic, but he couldn't imagine how such a thing would work. He wondered if it would hurt. Remus withdrew his wand and touched it to the tip of Harry's bruised ribs and then said, "One of them is cracked but the potion will take care of that."
After dropping his shirt Harry accepted a cup that Remus had given him and held it steady as Remus poured a clear liquid out of one of the jars. "Drink that down." Harry did and made a face but didn't complain. Is this what medicine tasted like? He didn't know, aunt Petunia had never given him any. Well, there had been the one time she'd given him a dose of cough syrup because his coughing was interrupting uncle Vernon's evening news, but it was so long ago he couldn't remember what it was like. "That was a general healing potion. A few more doses and your ribs will be healed."
"Here," Remus handed him a jar with white cream inside. It looked like lotion. "This is bruise balm. You can put it on the bruises but know that you shouldn't use it more than three times a day and not more than three days in a week or you'll get sick. It should only take a couple of days for the bruises to go away altogether."
Harry unscrewed the lid and put it on his black eye, which hurt the worst. He also coated the bruises on his arms and chest and then let Remus put the balm on his back for him. Remus went outside with one of the clear boxes full of food and Harry took the opportunity to change into a soft green t-shirt and the pair of shorts and sandals. They were the best clothes he'd ever had, and looked a far sight better than the worn, faded clothes that Remus was wearing.
"You didn't have to do all this for me," Harry said when he went back outside, glad to be out of the warm tent and into cool clothes in the heat. Remus was bent over a fire making what Harry hoped were grilled cheese sandwiches.
"No, but it's what your father would have done if you were my son and I was unable to be there for you. And Sirius would have done the same."
"Our other friend."
"Is he dead too?"
It seemed like Remus didn't want to talk about it so Harry stopped asking questions. He had a feeling that Remus would have told him if he kept asking, because he'd promised to be truthful with him, but Harry didn't want to seem nosy. He knew adults didn't like that.
"Here, it's hot mind you." He gave Harry the sandwich on a green metal plate and Harry accepted it gratefully. He hadn't gotten lunch today and it was already near dinner time.
"When do I get to start learning magic?"
"I have a list of spells I want you to learn as soon as possible. They're all useful. If something happens to me you're to take my wand and your backpack and run, do you understand?"
"Yes," but he was uncertain even as he said it. Where would he run to and what would he do with the wand? Make it shoot out useless blue sparks?
"We'll begin learning tomorrow then. You'll also learn history of magic and I'll tell you some basic things about the potions we have with us. You have to be prepared."
"For if they find us?"
"Yes. It will happen, there's no question, but I want to make sure you're safe for as long as you can be."
"I wish that Dumbledore guy would just stay out of things," Harry said.
"You're not the first to wish that," Remus told him.
After dinner Remus washed the dishes with a spell and brought out several books for Harry to look through. "These are what we'll be learning out of," he said. "You can read any of them any time you want. They're yours now. We'll be practicing a lot though and you'll have homework to do as well. I have school supplies for you to take notes with."
"That's ok," Harry said. "I like school."
"That's good. So did Lily. She was very bright and always reading something. She wasn't the top of our class, but that was because she was busy getting into trouble at school."
"What kind of trouble?"
"She liked to explore the Forbidden Forest and she got caught a lot. The Head of Gryffindor house took to waiting for her just outside the front doors of the castle every Saturday morning because she knew Lily would head straight for the Forest."
Harry had a long list of questions as he tried to take everything in, and Remus spent the remaining hours until dark telling Harry about school, the four houses, and his parents. Eventually Remus told his new charge that it was time for bed and had Harry put all of his things back in his backpack before climbing into the sleeping bag.
"Remus, this isn't all a dream is it? You'll still be here in the morning?"
"I'll be here. Good night Harry."
"Thanks. Goodnight." Harry wanted to stay awake and ask more questions and to start learning magic that moment, but he was tired and his mind was spinning with all of the information he'd already taken in. His parents had been murdered, his aunt and uncle had lied to him, he was magic, a crazy man named Dumbledore wanted him to suffer for some reason and would be searching for them, and there was someone in this world that cared for his well-being. His name was Remus Lupin.
Remus had given him a handwritten list the next morning. There were more than thirty spells written down and Harry was thankful that next to each one Remus had written a short note about what it did. There were things like, 'Lumos - Torch' and 'Alohamora - Unlocking Spell'.
"Five per day," Remus told him as Harry looked down the list. "I want you to learn five per day. I know that's asking a lot considering your age, but we have to get these down. If you can handle more then we'll do more, but five is the goal right now."
Harry was ready. He'd dreamt last night of learning spells that turned aunt Petunia's hair blue and gave Dudley large mouse ears and made all of Uncle Vernon's work papers disappear whenever he was looking for them. Harry thought all of those would be useful things to know how to do.
"Some of these are first year spells, and others are second and third year spells. When you get your own wand next year these will be easier to preform than with my wand."
"What's wrong with your wand?"
"Just that it's mine," he explained. "They say that the wand chooses the wizard. The wand has to cooperate with the wizard for the magic to flow through it. My wand is used to my magic and may not be willing to work with yours, so it may take extra energy on your part to channel the magic through it. Ok, now watch closely and I'll show you how to preform a Lumos. It's one of the easiest charms." He waved his wand and said the incantation and then handed the wand to Harry. "You try."
Harry waved the wand and said "Lumos," and the tip lit up feebly.
"Did I do it?"
"Yes, you did. Could you feel the flow of magic from you to the wand?"
"It felt- strange. Like something was pushing back."
"It was the wand. Imagine the wand like a funnel and your magic is going through it from your hand to the tip of the wand and then out. The wand is resisting... like a blockage in the funnel. You may have to focus and force your energy through the wand. Try again."
Harry tried for almost twenty minutes before the wand tip lit up all the way, and when Remus was satisfied that he had that down, he used a pencil to check it off the list and they moved on to a levitation charm (which took Harry a full two hours to learn) and then an unlocking charm which Harry practiced on the lock on the outside of the wooden trunk.
"We'll break for lunch and then start again after to get the next two spells down." Harry felt rather pleased with himself having learned three spells already. His Wingardium Leviosa still left something to be desired, because he was struggling with the wand to get anything to levitate more than a few inches off the ground, but he'd managed the unlocking spell with almost no trouble at all.
Remus made cold sandwiches and finished his own quickly so that he could read aloud to Harry. Harry could tell that Remus felt a sense of urgency about teaching him certain things and wanted to use every spare moment to do so. As Harry ate his sandwich, Remus read to him from a history book about Voldemort and all of the chaos and terror he had caused.
"And Dumbledore thinks he'll come back to life?" Harry asked after Remus read him the last part about the attack on his parents and himself as a baby.
"He thinks the spell that bounced off of you reduced Voldemort's power but didn't kill him."
"What do you think?"
"I think it's a possibility."
"So I'll have to fight him eventually?"
Remus looked at him as he took Harry's plate and began cleaning it to put away.
"I think that we should cross that bridge if we ever come to it. Right now we have more important things to worry about, like getting through the list."
Harry nodded. Remus exuded a sense of purpose and Harry felt it too. He didn't feel in danger from Dumbledore because Remus was there with him and he'd never really encountered anyone else with magic in his memory except Remus, but the fact that Remus thought it was important to know the things on this list made Harry feel like he had to hurry up and learn them.
By dinner Harry had only learned four things. He'd hit a roadblock with number five, the Expelliarmus charm. According to Remus it was supposed to send a wizard and their wand flying, but Harry hadn't managed so much as a colorful sparkle out of the wand while trying it.
"That's ok, it's a third year spell," Remus told him after dinner, scanning down the list. "Let's try something else to get our five in today and you can practice that spell for a while until you get it. Here, let's try this one." Remus pointed his wand at the fire and said a spell and the fire went out, then he handed the wand to Harry.
"Point at the fire pit and say Incendio. Your hand will feel warm. Channel that through the wand and the fire should light. This way if we're ever separated at least you can keep warm at night."
Harry pointed and said the spell and though his hand felt warm the magic never passed through the wand. Remus showed him again twice more and by bedtime Harry had gotten the fire to light again.
"That's good Harry," Remus beamed at him. "That's five spells and you already know more than others your age." Remus put the fire back out and lead Harry inside the tent.
"I'll read to you while you get ready for bed," Remus said. But as he started to read, Harry was surprised to find that it wasn't out of the history book. It seemed to be some sort of bedtime story.
"What are you reading? Is this true?" Harry asked skeptically. The story was about a character named death and three brothers.
"It's Tales From Beetle The Bard. It's a childrens book."
"Oh... no one's read to me like that before."
"Do you want me to stop?"
"No. I like it." Harry sat crosslegged on his cot and listened until the story was over and Remus set the book down on the chest that was between the head of the two cots.
As Harry lay down on his pillow Remus said, "We're moving to a new location tomorrow after breakfast. We'll be apparating again. I'll show you a spell that's not on the list so you can help me pack. The faster we can pack when we have to move, the better."
"Where are we going?"
"Another forest. We'll have to stop for food first. We need to be certain that people don't recognize you. I have a hat for you to wear to cover your scar and we should trim your hair. You'll need to give up your glasses too."
"I can't see without them."
"There's a temporary spell that will fix your eyesight for one hour. It's one of the spells on your list, and we'll need to use it whenever we go for food or supplies. You can't use it more than once in a 24 hour period but it is useful for our purposes."
"Too bad there's not a potion to change my appearance."
"There is, but the ingredients are expensive and hard to come by."
"Oh, ok. Night Remus."
"Good night Harry."
The next morning Remus woke Harry before daylight and showed him the spell to pack up the tent. Harry tried but couldn't get it to work, so after Harry had his backpack on and everything he needed inside it, Remus said the spell and the tent collapsed in on itself and folded itself into smaller and smaller portions until it was small enough to fit into Remus' pocket. Remus also said shrinking spells for their chairs and a few other things and put those in his pocket as well. Harry took his hand again and they disappeared. When they came back out of the stifling blackness again they were on the side of a deserted road.
"We'll get food in the town a mile ahead. Something to remember is that we'll never get food in a place where we're going to stay nearby. We'll apparate again once we have our supplies."
As they walked Remus told Harry about the statute for secrecy and about how they couldn't use magic in front of other people. He also told him about the wizarding prison, Azkaban, and about Dementors, which he told Harry they would learn more about when Harry was older. It was just getting light out when they came to the edge of town and to a grocery store.
"Stick with me," Remus told Harry and Harry was determined not to leave his side. He didn't know how to apparate and was afraid that Remus might forget about him and leave him there. He didn't even know what town they were in. Remus put things like bread, eggs, canned goods and cereal into a basket and surprised Harry by putting a bag of candy in there as well. Harry didn't dare to ask if it was for him because no one ever gave him candy, but was surprised when Remus gave it to him once they were out of the store. They walked back to the edge of town, Harry eating his candy as they went and when there were no cars on the road, disapparated to their new camp location. They were deep in a forest where light filtered down through the tree canopy but there were no open spaces to roam around like the meadow they had been in before.
Harry watched as Remus pulled everything from his pockets and said spells to make them go back to their normal size and make the tent set up again, and then as he put up a spell around the area to keep Muggles away and make their location un-plottable. Remus explained things to Harry as he did them and Harry liked that. He liked hearing about the un-plottable spell especially, which would keep others from using map spells to find their location.
Once camp was in place, Remus had Harry go through the spells he'd learned the day before to practice them (which was a good thing because Harry had forgotten how to do the unlocking spell already) and then they started in on the list again. It was difficult, but Harry couldn't deny that he was having fun. Remus had informed him that if he ever did get to go to Hogwarts, he'd be ahead of his peers and be able to earn house points for knowing these spells. They stopped at lunch because Harry had learned all five spells (he could tell that Remus was surprised) and Remus pulled out a book, "The Standard Book of Spells Grade 1."
"I want you to read for an hour. Use a bookmark to mark your place. Then I'll ask you questions. If you can answer them all then you can keep the bookmark where it's at. If not, you have to move the bookmark back to a place where I tell you and start from there tomorrow."
Harry picked a soft spot at the base of a tree covered in moss and sat to read. The entire first chapter was about how useful certain spells could be and about the international statute for secrecy and why it was important. It took Harry the entire hour to read the chapter.
"Ready to answer some questions?" Remus asked, and Harry nodded. He did have to move the bookmark back several pages, but didn't feel bad about it and liked that Remus didn't scold him for answering two of the questions wrong. Remus gave him a break when they were done and Harry took the opportunity to explore for a while before Remus called him back and they talked about what Harry was supposed to do if they were caught.
"My priority is keeping you out of Dumbledore's hands," Remus said. "If we're caught... if someone comes walking into our camp, you're going to have to get as far away as possible."
"I can't apparate though. Are you going to teach me?"
"No, you won't be able to learn that until you're sixteen or seventeen. It's very difficult and dangerous if you don't do it right. One of the spells you're going to learn tomorrow is a masking spell. It will keep others from being able to find you, like the unplottable spell. It requires a password. Anyone with the password can find you. You and I will have the password."
"I'll explain that to you when we're done talking about this. Now if someone were to come into camp, you're to take my wand and your bag and run out of earshot and preform the spell, and then continue to run and hide wherever you can. From now on when we go to a new camp location we'll walk around together and look for good hiding places."
"But what if they take you and I'm left alone?"
"That's why I'm teaching you the spells on the list. I'm also leaving Muggle money in the outer pocket of your bag so you can go into town if you need to for food. I have a map I'll show you before bed. It's charmed to show wherever we are and if you speak to it, it'll show you where you want to go. You'll need to start keeping that in your backpack."
"Can you find me if I have your wand?"
"I can. The particular spell you're going to learn only requires the password to be said to show me where you are."
Harry didn't feel good about this plan at all. He was only ten, how was he supposed to survive on his own?
"I'm confident it will be some time yet before anyone catches up with us, and in that time you're going to learn a lot about spells and we'll talk more about what to do and where to go if they catch up with us, but until then, this is the plan. Do you have any questions about it?"
Harry did but Remus was able to put some of his fears to rest as they talked more about it.
"Now about the name Moony..."
As Harry ate dinner that night in the darkness sitting next to the warm campfire, he shot Remus a curious look every few minutes, trying not to be too obvious that he was looking. Was he really a werewolf? He had said that he had potions to take to keep him safe, and showed Harry the magical metal stake that he had to cuff himself to a boulder or tree for three nights a month away from camp. Harry was worried though. Not so much about Remus coming to eat him alive, but about being left alone for three nights a month. He felt the pressure more to learn that list now than he had a few days ago when he'd left Private Drive with Remus.
"There's still 20 days," Remus told Harry, noticing how quiet he was.
"20 days until the full moon. That's almost a month, and by then you'll have the list learned."
"Is the list really going to be enough?"
"It's a good start. The main thing is practice and knowing what spells to use in a given situation. You're going to have my wand while I'm out of camp. If you were older I'd be able to teach you some wandless magic."
"Can you do any?"
"Some, yes. It works the same as channeling your energy through a wand, only you have to have concentration enough to channel it through a hand, a foot, or any part of your body. Albus Dumbledore and Voldemort are both very skilled with wandless magic. That's also known as magery. There is also wordless magic and they are both skilled at that as well. Don't be fooled by anyone, especially those two if they don't have a wand or aren't speaking. That doesn't make them safe."
"I want to learn."
"You will, but you have to have all the basics down of learning with a wand first. I wish I was able to give you your own wand so you didn't have to struggle with mine."
"Can we somehow get another adult wizard's wand so we can both have one?"
"If we knew someone else we could trust, then yes. Many times an adult's wand is passed down to other family members when they die. Some families have boxes of them and others burn them because they have no use for them."
"I don't want to run off with your wand Remus. You know more than I do and you'll be defenseless and I'll be useless."
"I don't want you to worry about it Harry. I've already put enough on your shoulders. I want you to just concentrate on learning. Just do the best you can."
"I will." For the first time in his life, Harry felt like his best would be good enough. His best never cut it at home with the Dursleys, and he was always punished for his failures. Remus embraced his failures though and used them as teaching moments and had praised Harry for his successes. It made Harry feel wanted, and even special, and he didn't want to lose that by losing Remus.
* * *
"He is unstable. To take Harry from his relatives in such a manner... I don't understand why he would do such a thing."
Severus Snape stared blankly at the Headmaster. He seemed aggrieved and Severus could tell that Albus was leading up to something he wouldn't like. He knew the aging man too well. He was going to ask him to go and look for the brat and his idiotic kidnapper so they could return spoiled, pampered prince Potter to his family. He was willing to bet a galleon that the wolf was further spoiling the child, taking him to Quidditch matches and filling him full of sweets and teaching him how to respond to his fan mail.
"What do you wish me to do about it?" Severus said with a drawl. He didn't know why he even bothered to ask.
"You are a skilled spy and tracker. I would appreciate your help in finding them. I want to keep this out of the papers so we don't alert former Death Eaters, and that means keeping it away from the Ministry."
"School starts in five days. Do you expect me to give up my position to chase after the wolf?"
"Of course not. You've already turned in your lesson plans however and I am aware that your house is ready to receive it's students. You could get a start on searching before the start of the term, and also on weekends."
"And you want me to search nights too I suppose?" Severus almost spat it out. He had better things to do than running across the country and back. If the wolf wanted to get himself thrown in prison for kidnapping the Potter brat than so be it. Why not let the Ministry deal with it? They'd find him before any ex-Death Eaters could. Even Lucius Malfoy had other things to be getting on with other than searching for Potter. He knew for a fact that the man was busy running a scam aimed to rake in hundreds of Galleons to pay for another year of Draco's private tutoring before the boy started at Hogwarts next year.
"Severus, Harry is in danger. Imagine the full moon. I cannot pretend to understand Remus' reasons for taking him, but I believe he is unstable and perhaps mentally unable to comprehend the consequences of his actions."
That Severus couldn't deny. Anyone who was willing to kidnap the boy hero and go against Albus Dumbledore wasn't all there mentally. Not with the power the old man had with the Ministry. The idiot wolf had to know he'd never get away with it.
"You know of no reasons?" Snape asked skeptically.
"I do not."
"I know little about the wolf other than his inability to gain employment. Where do you suggest I start?"
"You're the tracker Severus. There are spells and potions to help you, are there not? I know you've been able to find people before who do not wish to be found..."
Severus sneered. Leave it to the old man to bring that up. He'd gone searching for Lily even though they'd had an unplottable house and a secret keeper and had found her. He'd been the one to remove the crying Potter brat from the house after Voldemort had left it in ruins. He had not betrayed their secret but Albus had once accused him of it before discovering that it was the criminal Sirius Black.
"I will not let this interfere with my duties here. My house and classes come first. I will however search for them before the term and when I have time."
"That is all I ask Severus."
Severus turned to leave and as he went out the door, he said, "Do not expect me to pamper and coddle the child when I find them."
Albus steepled his fingers in front of him as Severus left. If anyone could find them, it was Severus Snape.
"Someone just tried to plot us," Remus said, startling Harry as he came out of the tent in a hurry. Harry was sitting in one of the blue camp chairs by the empty fire pit reading from a first year charms book, a Muggle lined notebook on his lap where he'd been taking notes.
"What do you mean?"
"The unplottable spell I have around the camp." Remus pointed to his watch. "I have it tied to my watch. My watch buzzed and it means someone tried to pinpoint our location on a map and it pinged off of the spell barrier."
"Do we have to move?"
"Yes but not right this moment. It's dangerous to move, more so now than before. Every second that we have the unplottable down, that's a moment where a person could plot us on a map. It means we have to apparate more times when we move and throw the protective spells up around us more quickly when we arrive."
"What can I do?" Harry was watching the man as he paced worriedly.
"Nothing at the moment Harry. Keep reading. I'm going to throw up another unplottable spell. From now on I'll need to put one up every few hours."
"If whoever is looking for us realizes we've got an unplottable spell up, they can preform magic to remove the spell. It takes time to work though and it's difficult magic. It would be different if we were in a stationary building... when you can weave the spell into stone or brick it becomes a permanent part of the structure. It doesn't work that way with a tent though."
Remus walked away through the trees to the point where Harry couldn't see him anymore to preform the spell. Harry had watched him put up the spell the last three times they'd moved sites. Remus typically walked the perimeter of their camp in a circle putting up the enchantment. Sometimes he made a wider perimeter like with this camp so that Harry could have some space to explore, but he had a feeling that if they were going to be in a hurry from now on that the perimeter would be rather tight around just the tent and campfire area.
When Remus returned, Harry asked, "can't we put the unplottable into the rocks around the fire pit?"
"It wouldn't be the same. They're not cemented into place. They're not part of a structure. When they put this on a home they do more than half the exterior stones or bricks and the spell is so strong that it naturally radiates out to the rest of the property."
"It was a good thought Harry. You're very bright, like your mother."
"Was my dad smart too?"
"Yes but in a different kind of way. I was surprised he wasn't put into Slytherin because he was very cunning. He was mischievous and always thinking about how he could stay out of trouble while he was doing something he wasn't supposed to be doing."
"Like sneaking down to the kitchens at all hours of the night for a snack. He had to befriend the house elves who worked in the kitchens at night first. He had an invisibility cloak he used to get down there. James had an uncle who was dying who owned the cloak and it was between giving it to him and one of his cousins. He duelled his cousin for rights to the cloak and when his uncle died he got it."
"Does that mean I have other family alive?"
"No. Your grandparents died just after he graduated school and his cousin was an Unspeakable at the Ministry and had an accident with a veil of some sort."
"What does that mean?"
"James was never entirely sure. The Unspeakables aren't ever allowed to tell people what they do. James had to call in several favors just to find out that there was a veil."
"What about you, do you have family left?"
"My father died before I went to Hogwarts. The werewolf got him. He was trying to protect me from getting bitten. My mother passed when I was a fifth year. I have a brother but he is not on speaking terms with me."
"Oh," said Harry, "I'm sorry."
"Don't be. My brother Romulus got in with a bad crowd when he went to school. He was a few years behind me and they convinced him that I was dangerous because I was a werewolf. As soon as our mother died he went to stay with other family who wanted nothing to do with me and my 'furry problem' so I went to stay with James and his family."
"Furry problem?" Harry asked, eyebrows raised.
"That's what James and Sirius always called it."
Harry didn't ask about Sirius but looked up from his reading a few minutes later because he sensed Remus' eyes on him. Remus looked at him with a small smile.
"You're a good boy Harry," he said. "I want you to know you can ask whatever questions you have."
"Can you tell me about Sirius?" Remus had said little about him. Only that he was friends with James and Remus and that he would have helped Harry if he had been there. Where he was though, Harry didn't know.
"Sirius was our friend. He also ended up staying with your father and his parents the summer before our seventh year. He was a trouble maker too and he had a penchant for picking fights with students from other houses."
"Where is he?"
"Your parents chose a secret keeper... someone who knew how to get into contact with them when they were unplottable. That secret keeper gave their secret away and that's how Voldemort found you."
"Yes. We also had another friend, Peter Pettigrew. He confronted Sirius Black the day after your parents died and Sirius killed him. There was nothing left of him but his finger. Sirius didn't put up a fight when the aurors took him to Azkaban. He's still there."
"With the dementor things?"
Remus nodded and Harry frowned as he thought that over. It didn't sound pleasant, but then again, neither did the fact that one of his parent's friends had betrayed them, causing their deaths and Harry's orphan-ness. "So it's Sirius who's responsible for my parents' deaths?"
"It's Voldemort who killed them. I don't know why Sirius told their secret or to who. I doubt he would have told it to Voldemort. Whatever his reason was I can't believe it was a sinister one. James was like family to him."
"But he killed Peter."
"He did. I have never been able to bring myself to go and see him to ask him why."
Harry sighed and shook his head. The more he found out about the wizarding world which his parents had been a part of, the less he liked it. Voldemort, Death Eaters, Dumbledore, and Sirius Black. Sirius had been his parent's and Remus' friend, and Dumbledore had been their leader and their teacher, but these two men seemed little better than Voldemort or his Death Eaters. It hardly seemed fair that his parents had died and he'd been left with the Dursleys, and it seemed even more unfair that Dumbledore wanted to keep him there.
A small, short buzz emanated from Remus' watch and Harry and Remus both stared at it. "We've been pinged again. That's why we couldn't move right away. We'll move in the middle of the night tonight," he told Harry. "After dinner we'll pack. I want you to try the packing spell again."
Harry nodded and Remus began to quiz Harry on what he'd been reading, making him move the bookmark back half a chapter because Harry had been too preoccupied while reading it to answer many questions right.
They moved three times over the next seven days, and when they ran out of food Remus didn't allow Harry to go into town with him. He made Harry stay behind in the tent and study while Remus went for supplies and Harry worried the whole time he was gone. Remus came back with a smile though and gave Harry a pack of grape bubble gum before they quickly packed the tent and disapparated to a new location and threw the charms up before setting up the camp. This time they were on the banks of a little river in a forested area.
"There are lots of Muggles nearby," Remus said. "This is a popular place to camp and hike, but I've put up a lot of anti-Muggle charms so they shouldn't bother us if we stay inside the charm's perimeter. It's just around the tent and campfire though. We may see people but they won't see or hear us."
"Ok," Harry said. He sat on the grass with Remus and practiced the last five spells on the list.
"After you master these we'll go on to some of the spells in the books you've been reading from." He still wasn't able to get Expelliarmus to work but they'd been working on it every day and Remus had said it didn't count towards finishing the list.
"Can I choose some?" Harry asked, and Remus nodded with a smile.
"Yes, but I'll be assigning you more bookwork now that we've got the list down, especially out of the history book. You need to learn the history of what's gone on in the magical world to understand the world we're in now."
"Can you get me some more information on Dumbledore?"
"Unfortunately the books we have are it. I can't risk going to a wizarding book store. I imagine the Ministry has put up wanted posters around the community."
"Can we send for books by owl?" Remus had told Harry all about owls and he was now fascinated by them despite the fact that he'd yet to see one.
"Even if we had one it wouldn't be able to come back to us because of the unplottable spells. Almost as if the spell knew it was being talked about, Remus' watch buzzed and he rose to reinforce the spell. Someone was definitely looking for them, and at random times of the day the watch would buzz.
Ignoring the watch as Remus rose to walk the small perimeter, Harry reached for the pile of books that were getting rather worn and pulled the Charms book off the top. He couldn't practice without Remus' wand so he might as well read. He'd rather be reading Tales From Beetle The Bard but he knew Remus wanted him to focus on the school books. Harry had seen into the wooden trunk in the tent and there was also a second and third year Charms book as well as second and third year general spell and defense books. Harry rather liked reading the defense books. They had information about wild creatures that tried to drown you if you waded into the wrong bog, mer-people, dangerous pixies and others that interested Harry. They all seemed rather sinister but Remus had said that in Care of Magical Creatures at Hogwarts he would learn about other creatures that weren't out to kill you.
When it was five days until the full moon, Harry lay back on the grass by the tent looking at the sky as Remus fixed dinner. There were a lot of white fluffy clouds today and Harry squinted up at them and tried to make out shapes. One of them looked like a beast with teeth and Harry asked, "What's it like to be a werewolf Remus?"
"Not very pleasant," he said. "How your family treated you... that is how everybody treats me."
"They hurt you?" Harry sat up, concerned.
"Some have tried. They shun you and ignore you. The Ministry puts out propaganda about how dangerous myself and others like me are. They force us to register and we aren't allowed to work in the Ministry. Because of the propaganda others in the magical community won't hire us because they don't trust us. It makes it very difficult to live. I had to attend Hogwarts in secret. Very few knew that I was a werewolf. The Headmaster kept it a secret from the other students and most of the staff so that they wouldn't contact the Ministry. If the Ministry found out, I would not have been allowed to attend."
"Dumbledore was the Headmaster then?"
Harry frowned and went back to watching the clouds. That seemed like an awfully nice thing of the man to do, to protect Remus' secret like that. Harry wished he could have known Dumbledore then, when he wasn't so mean.
"Do you have other questions?" Remus asked, stirring whatever he was cooking in the frying pan over the fire with a metal spatula.
"Why did Dumbledore do that for you?"
"He's not necessarily a bad man. Sometimes he has very good intentions."
"But not for me. He must really hate me to put me with the Dursleys."
"I don't know why he insists you stay there. One thing is for certain: should you ever run across him, I wouldn't trust him. He lost my trust when he insisted you stay with your aunt and uncle even after I'd shown him evidence. He has ulterior motives that I'm not privy to."
"Maybe you should just bite me," Harry said, and Remus dropped the spatula into the pan with a loud clang.
"What did you say?"
Still on his back Harry looked all the way back to see Lupin upside down with his hands on his hips and looking stern.
"If you bit me and I became a werewolf then he wouldn't be able to send me back to the Dursleys... they're Muggle's right, so I'd be too dangerous to be around them."
"Listen to me Harry, I don't want you to ever speak like that again. You have to put this from your mind. It's not an option. Your life would be ruined, do you understand?"
"Isn't it already?" Harry said, feeling bitter suddenly. "My parents are gone and Dumbledore has it out for me and so does my family. The only good thing I have is you."
Harry sat up as Remus picked up the spatula once more and began stirring.
"Why can't you just be my dad? You could adopt me."
"I'm touched," Remus said quietly, and he was silent for long moments as he dished up scrambled eggs and potatoes onto the two metal plates for dinner. After he handed a plate and fork to Harry he sat down in the camp chair next to him and said, "I could never legally adopt you. The Ministry wouldn't allow it."
"Who cares about the Ministry anyway?"
"Unfortunately the entire wizarding community. If I send you to school they wouldn't allow you to come back to spend holidays with me."
"I wish there were a way for you to be at the school."
"There was a time when I considered teaching, and though I believe the Headmaster would once have allowed it, the parents wouldn't stand for having me there. It wouldn't have worked."
"I don't think I like the Ministry very much. Or Dumbledore."
"You're too young to be bitter about things like this. The Ministry has done a lot of good. You'll read about it in the History books."
Harry ate silently and decided to go to bed early when Remus' watch buzzed again. When Remus came back after reinforcing the perimeter, Harry was laying in bed with Tales of Beedle the Bard. He held out the book for Remus. He liked reading the book himself, but he'd grown accustomed over the last month to Remus' soft voice lulling him to sleep. Remus took it with a smile and ruffled Harry's already messy hair. He sat down on his own cot and read for almost half an hour before he looked over to see if Harry was asleep. He wasn't.
"You must be too old for bedtime stories," Remus commented.
Harry looked at him. "No. I like when you read to me. No one ever did that before I went with you. I was just thinking."
"You won't like it if I tell you."
"I hope you're not thinking about getting bitten or scratched again."
"It makes sense to do it. Then I could be your son."
"Harry, as much as I adore you, you're not my son. You're James' son. You look like him, and I see his spirit in you every day."
"They're dead," Harry said, and there was sadness in his voice he couldn't hide. "If they loved me I don't think they'd mind if I had a dad."
"No, I don't suppose they would. But you're here with me now. You don't need to be bitten for that."
"If Dumbledore catches me-"
"If we are caught I will be in jail and you being bitten or scratched will do nothing for you but make you an outcast and prevent you from getting to go to school. You'll have no friends and all chances of you getting adopted by anyone will be gone. Then you really will be alone. I'm very serious about this Harry, I want you to stop thinking about it. This isn't an option and I will be very upset with you if I find that you've left camp on any of the nights of the full moon."
"You've never been upset with me before."
"You've never given me reason to be upset."
Hands behind his head, Harry glanced over at him and Remus raised his eyes as if asking if he wanted to find out what that was like to raise his ire.
Harry grinned. "Well you're not going to wolf out on me or anything when you get mad, at least I know that."
Remus set the book down. "Go to bed Harry." He used his wand to extinguish the lantern light and heard Harry snicker once as he rolled over to go to sleep. When Harry began to snore lightly, Remus began to run through a list of spells in his mind. He would have to protect whatever area he was going to chain himself up in. He would have to put up some kind of barrier spell to keep Harry out. That presented a problem, because to do that he'd need his wand and it would mean that Harry wouldn't be able to come and unlock him in the morning. He had planned on leaving his wand with Harry while he was transformed under the full moon, but that was no longer looking like it was an option. He'd never had the foresight to think that the child would want to take the bite. Then again, he'd never thought that the boy would ask him to be his father.
* * *
Severus Snape was irritated. He'd spent five unsuccessful days searching for Lupin and Potter before having to call off the search for the start of the term. Albus hadn't asked him for frequent updates, and he knew the man was growing anxious for news as the full moon grew closer. Severus had been calling in favors by owl for the last several weeks and going out on weekends to search, but the less evidence he found, the more irritated he grew. It wasn't just that he was irritated by the wolf and the Potter brat for running off like they had, he was angry with the Headmaster for treating him like his own personal house elf.
With the added burden of tracking them and trying to break down whatever barrier and unplottable spells they were using, he was falling behind in his brewing for Poppy, and ungraded student essays were piling up higher by the day, forcing him to stay up at all hours of the night. Severus actually rather enjoyed staying up late, but not when he had to be up early for classes or had to supervise the Weasley twins' frequent detentions. It left him feeling drained and more angry as time went on. He was going to find the idiotic werewolf if it was the last thing he did, if for no other reason than to make him pay for putting him to all of this trouble. He was going to enjoy watching him get hauled away to Azkaban and being locked up, just like Black had been. If James Potter was still alive, Severus was willing to bet that the arrogant man would have already earned himself a cell in Azkaban by now as well.
It was Sunday night, and the first night of the full moon was tomorrow. He'd just returned from another long day of searching and had barely sat down in his office chair to grade essays when Albus came in uninvited and without knocking. The gall.
"Severus, have you found any sign of them at all? The full moon is tomorrow. I worry for Harry's safety."
"I am aware," Severus said. "And no, I have yet to find any sign of them. Lupin was obviously prepared for an extended run from the law. The search would go faster with help from the Ministry."
"We've discussed why that isn't possible. Surely you must have found something."
"Not a trace. They are obviously using an unplottable spell, possibly two. I have been unable to use map spells to trace them, though I am still looking for lesser known ones that he may not have accounted for in putting up his wards. I have also been attempting to break his barriers but he must be reapplying them on a regular basis. They could be anywhere. They could be right under our own noses and we would not know."
"I've compiled a list of places Remus may have gone to hide," Albus said, and with a snap of his fingers a small roll of parchment appeared. He handed it to Severus who scanned down the very short list.
"Have you at the very least informed the Order? It is unreasonable to believe I will be able to find them on my own. I am not a miracle worker."
"I informed a select few. The Weasleys, Shacklebolt, and Minerva."
"Might I inquire as to why you have chosen them and excluded the rest?"
"I trust them and they are in singularly unique positions to be useful. Arthur works at the Ministry in Muggle affairs and if Remus has chosen to take Harry into the Muggle World he will be able to keep an ear open for any signs of them. Harry is still a child and may perform accidental magic. Kingsley recently became an auror and can help in the same way."
"You are aware that Minerva was a close friend of the Potters, as well as of Remus. I believed she may be able to help come up with a list of places, and she has."
"It would help me find them if you could give me any reason at all why the werewolf has done this. It may point me to their location."
"I can't help you with that," Albus said. Yes I know, Severus thought to himself, irritated. You have no idea why he would go off half cocked and kidnap the Potter brat.
* * *
Harry couldn't help himself. He wanted to know what Remus looked like as a werewolf. Remus had told him to stay inside the tent for the night, and wouldn't even allow Harry to follow him to where he was going to stake himself to a boulder and spell himself off limits to others.
"I mean it Harry. Being a werewolf is no life for you. Stay away from me," Remus had told him seriously.
Harry had nodded, but he hadn't made a promise not to follow after him. Remus had left hours ago, and Harry had stayed awake all night thinking about it, thinking about the direction Remus had walked off in. A glance at his watch told him that the sun would come up in an hour. He had exactly one hour to find Remus and look at what he had transformed into. Harry pulled his zip up hoodie on and left the tent. He didn't have a wand to light the way because Remus had taken his with him, so he walked carefully, tripping over roots and rocks as he went. He kept his ears perked for any sound that was out of place, and finally after almost half an hour, heard a low growling noise. He paused, aware that it had been very close and listened, hoping it was Remus and not another wild animal. There was another growl and a scratching sound, and Harry walked off to his left, trying to be sure he didn't step on any branches or make any noise at all. Finally, just as the sky started to lighten, Harry spotted a large, hairy form chained to a silver stake embedded in a boulder. There was a circle etched in the dirt around the creature, and Harry took this to be the line Remus told him no one would be able to cross. Sensing his presence, the werewolf looked up and sniffed the air in Harry's direction. They made eye contact, and Harry knew then that though this was once Remus Lupin, that Remus was no longer inside. There was no kindness in those dark eyes, only hunger. The creature lunged at Harry, stopped abruptly only because it had reached the end of it's short tether, and writhed and scratched and howled to get free. Harry watched for several long moments, and then ran back to camp. He didn't know if Remus would remember him being there, but he didn't want him to know he'd left the safety of the wards. ‘Wolf-out' had suddenly taken on a new meaning.
Remus came into camp two hours later, looking tired, his clothes looking worse than they had before, but didn't ask if Harry had stayed at camp. He fixed Harry a bowl of cereal and then went to bed. Harry went back out the next two nights to look at Remus in his transformed self, transfixed and fascinated by the change, and Remus never knew, or at least, Harry thought he didn't.
"Try it again Harry."
Harry planted his feet firmly against the ground and aimed the wand at Remus. "Expelliarmus!" he shouted at him, but nothing happened, not even a golden spark. The wand was resisting him. It liked to resist him, especially when it was aimed at its owner.
"I'm not very good at this," Harry said.
"You don't have your own wand. I have a feeling this exercise would go differently if you did."
"Will I still be able to get a wand when I'm eleven if I don't go to school?"
"I'll make sure you get one, I just haven't figured out how yet."
"I know they cost a lot," Harry said.
"That's not the problem. Your parents left you a vault full of gold at Gringotts. The issue is if you don't have your Hogwarts letter, Ollivander won't sell you one."
"And the owls can't find me to deliver it if I'm inside the wards."
"Even if you did have the letter, I'm sure Ollivander would alert the Ministry if you came strolling into his shop."
"Does anyone else sell wands?"
"Wands are complicated things, and Ollivander is one of the best wand makers. There are other sources but they aren't reputable and the quality of their products isn't something to be sought after. We might have to travel to another country to get your wand."
"Doesn't anybody ever sell those old family heirlooms?"
"Remember Harry, wands are complicated. When a wizard gets a wand, it's usually his or hers for life. They say that the wand chooses the wizard. Try again." Remus prepared himself to go flying as Harry incanted the spell again, but nothing happened. Harry let his arms fall to his sides.
"This isn't working."
"You'll get it eventually. You've learned almost every other spell you've tried."
"So, a wizard has a wand for life. What about when they die? People must keep those wands for a reason."
"I'm afraid not for much more than sentimentality. The way my wand resists you, other people's wands will resist any new owner it gets. Occasionally a wand does find a new owner that it likes, but no one is clear on when or why this happens, and it's rare. I don't actually know of anybody living that has someone elses old wand and gets along well with it. Come on Harry, give it another try. You can do it."
"Expelliarmus! Expelliarmus! Expelliarmus!" Harry tried in rapid succession but nothing happened. He held up his hands and Remus nodded.
"Ok, enough of that for now. Let's work on your levitation. I know you're still having trouble with that."
"Can we try a shrinking charm after?" Harry asked, sounding eager.
"That's not in the first year text."
"I was reading that third year charms text in the trunk. I found it in the back. I want to shrink things down like you do when we move."
"We can try, but it's a little advanced for your stage."
"Isn't it all advanced for me? You said I'm not supposed to know any of the spells on the list yet."
"You're doing well Harry, and I said you could try, but I don't want you to be disappointed if you can't manage the spells in the other books yet. They teach spells in order for a reason. Sometimes a spell depends on you having prior knowledge and practice of other essential spells, theory, and wand work. The shrinking charm, for instance, depends on you having knowledge of a small bit of transfiguration, which I'm not very good at and I fear I won't be able to teach you."
"Is it very hard?"
"For me it has always been, yes. Some people find themselves better at certain subjects. Your father was always very good in defense and charms, and your mother was particularly good at transfiguration and brewing potions. Mr. Ollivander will tell you it depends on the wand you get, as some wand cores are better suited for certain things, and others will say that's nonsense."
"What are you good at?"
"Defense and spell detection. I was always very good at detecting and nullifying curses and hexes. At one point I considered being a curse breaker."
"So, if you're good at breaking curses, does that mean you're good at casting them?"
"As theory goes, yes. I don't tend to cast many curses, but a lot of the theory of curses is also good for wards, and as you've seen I think my wards and barriers are up to par."
Harry grinned. "Now you're just bragging."
Remus gave a broad smile too and it made Harry happy. He liked it when Remus smiled. His whole face lit up. Harry liked being around someone who smiled and praised him and wasn't always negative. It was a completely different world... a different life than the one he had lead at Privet Drive. He didn't have to worry about making Remus angry or walking on eggshells around him. Even when Harry did something wrong, Remus gave it a positive spin.
"Tell me about my parents again," Harry said suddenly. Remus held out his hand for his wand and after Harry had given it to him, they sat down in the chairs in front of the empty fire pit.
"What would you like to know?"
"Was my dad much like you?"
Remus raised his brows. "Like me? I don't know. I suppose all friends are alike in some way. He liked to break the rules, but I tried to stay away from rule breaking. I ended up being the boy Prefect for our year in Gryffindor for that reason. James had Prefect authority because he was the Gryffindor team Captain, but none of the Prefect responsibilities."
"Did he smile a lot? Was he nice?"
"He did. He was nice to those he liked, and he was especially nice to Gryffindors. He didn't have friends in other houses though. He had a lot of Gryffindor pride. He did have a few enemies in other houses."
"What about you? Did you have friends in other houses? And my mum, did she?"
"I had several friends in Hufflepuff. Lily had one very good friend in Slytherin and a few people she studied with in Ravenclaw. The majority of our friends were in Gryffindor however."
"Slytherin, you said Voldemort came from that house?"
"He did. Not all people from Slytherin are evil though, just as not all people from Gryffindor are good."
Harry knew he was talking about Sirius then, and didn't ask anything else for a few minutes.
"You want to know about Sirius and Peter?"
Harry looked up at Remus as he lit the fire, probably to start dinner since it was almost six thirty.
"Harry, I told you, I won't be offended by any question you ask."
"I guess I'm still not used to having my questions answered. I'm not allowed to ask things about my parents or anything else at home."
"Well, this is your home now, and you are allowed to ask."
"What about Sirius and Peter then?" Remus hadn't said much about Peter aside from that Sirius had killed him, and Harry was really more interested in Sirius. He knew Remus had said it wasn't really Sirius' fault that his parents were dead, but Harry thought it was just as much Sirius' fault as it was Voldemort's.
"Peter felt very fortunate to have the three of us as friends. He was shy and not very outgoing and didn't speak to people in other houses unless he had to. Sirius was more of a loner. He was friends with Peter, James and me and later on Lily, but that was it. He kept to himself most of the time."
"He didn't have friends because he was cruel to those around him," said a chilling and unfamiliar voice suddenly from behind Harry. Harry's arms and neck prickled with fear as he and Remus spun to find a tall dark eyed man with shoulder length black hair. He wore black slacks and a black button up shirt, and held a wand aimed at Remus.
Harry was frozen as he stared at the stranger, and would have remained frozen if Remus hadn't shouted, "RUN!" Harry leaped out of his camp chair as the man waved his wand at Remus. Remus threw his wand to Harry, who caught it, dropped it, picked it up, and dove into the tent for his bag. Remus shouted something and Harry caught a quick glance of him through the open tent flap. His insides chilled. Remus was lying on the ground bound with an impossible number of ropes as the dark eyed man stood over him. Entrance to the tent blocked, Harry lifted up the back of the tent and scrambled out. He didn't know of any spells to help Remus, and surely he couldn't fight against this older, scarier wizard if he couldn't even cast an Expelliarmus. Remus had taught him a jinx that made a person's legs dance uncontrollably but this hardly seemed like an appropriate defense. Run, Remus' last words to him spurred him on past the unplottable barrier and into the forest. This was the plan wasn't it? Run and hide, cast the spell to make it impossible for other people to find him. But Harry's heart was pounding, he was feeling frantic, and he couldn't remember the spell just now. "Run!" It wasn't in Harry's head this time. Remus had shouted in the distance behind him and Harry knew that the dark eyed stranger must be following him.
Harry headed for a denser part of the forest and leaped over logs and rocks, tree roots and bushes, falling several times but making sure to keep hold of Remus' wand. Maybe he could double back somehow and free Remus. No, that's not the plan, he scolded himself, feeling scared. Remus said he could take care of himself. He said he could do some magic without a wand. Maybe he can get himself free. He ran on and came to a wide creek that looked fairly deep in the middle. Should he cross? He looked wildly behind him and couldn't see the man, but that didn't mean he wasn't far off. Harry waded into the water with his bag on his back and was glad to find that he could still touch the bottom in the middle. On the other side he tried to climb up the bank in a steep place, but fell back in twice before he managed. Soaking wet he ran again, feet squishing in his wet hiking boots. Where was the man? Why hadn't he found him yet?
Thinking that he was leaving a trail of wet footprints that could be followed, Harry started walking in bushes, hoping the man wouldn't notice that they were broken, and after another few minutes, climbed under the largest bush he could find. He tried to calm his breathing so he wouldn't be so noisy, and waited, eyes watching in the direction he'd just come from for any sign of the man. Maybe he'd gone back to the camp to take Remus to jail. Was that the Dumbledore man? Harry thought he'd be older, but maybe not. Magic could do all sorts of things as he'd found out recently, so maybe it could make you look young when you weren't.
As the minutes ticked by on Harry's watch and turned into an hour, and then an hour and a half, Harry tried to remember how to do the spell Remus had taught him to keep himself from being found, but couldn't. It was going to start getting dark soon, and facing the prospect of spending a night alone in the woods, Harry began to think once again about going back for Remus, if he was still there that was.
At eight twenty, Harry was about to climb out from under the bush when a hand suddenly shot down through the leaves and grabbed the back of his shirt, pulling him up suddenly with a great force and free of his hiding place. Harry was nose to nose with the dark eyed man, and he didn't look happy.
"Foolish boy, did you think I wouldn't find you?" He wrenched Remus' wand from Harry's grasp and apparated away with him, all in the space of three seconds. They reappeared at the campsite where the fire had gone out and Remus was still lying on his side, tied up in the dirt.
"Harry, it's going to be all right," Remus tried to reassure him, but the dark eyed man snapped out, "Be silent!" Remus didn't look up at him. He kept his eyes locked with Harry's. There was no fear there, only sadness. Harry wished he could keep the fear from his own eyes.
"When I have dealt appropriately with the boy I will be back to turn you over to the authorities."
"You can take him, but don't give him to Dumbledore. Don't let Harry go back to his relatives."
The man laughed and Harry thought it was an eerie chuckle, like he wasn't meant to laugh and wouldn't unless it was at someone else's expense. "You are in no position to bargain," he said. He waved his wand down at Remus and the ropes apparently tightened, and then still gripping the back of Harry's shirt he apparated them away again, this time appearing on a street somewhere in a city. He finally let go of Harry's shirt and stared at him, his lips set in a thin line as Harry shook.
"You did not have your dinner." It wasn't a question.
Heart still thumping wildly in his chest and feeling unable to keep his arms from shaking from the all the adrenaline pumping through him, Harry didn't say anything. He only stared into the nearly black eyes trying to get any read on the man and what he was going to do next. Harry had gotten very good at reading people but this man was unreadable to him at this moment.
He sighed and suddenly seemed irritated. "I was sent to bring you to safety. I would be remiss in that duty if I did not at least feed you before taking you to the castle. I'm sure the Headmaster has many questions for you and little thought about dinner." He touched Harry's shoulder and then steered him down the street to a nearby cafe. He made sure Harry sat down in a chair at one of the outside tables on the sidewalk, and then sat down across from him. There was no one else out since it was getting late. A waiter came out and the man ordered two glasses of water and a fish and chips basket.
As they waited for the food to come out, Severus surveyed his scrawny charge. His hair was long and unruly, his face was a mess, his shirt was torn, and he was clearly terrified. The boy had kept his green eyes locked on his since they'd left the deficient camp and hadn't said a word. He wondered what nonsense and lies Lupin had filled his head with while they were on the run. He'd obviously told him 'heroic' stories of his parents and Sirius Black. Severus could only imagine the things spoken about him. On the other side of the table, Severus had no idea that Harry's mind had gone into overdrive.
"You're unnecessary skinny," Severus commented after they'd been waiting for their food for five minutes. "I can tell that he didn't feed you sufficiently."
"He was the only one who was ever good to me. He taught me magic!" Harry suddenly burst forth, surprising him.
"That is doubtful Potter. You are not even of age and it is rare for an underage wizard to be able to control their magic enough to produce even the simplest of spells."
Harry watched him carefully and wondered if he could trick the man into giving him his wand. It was going to be risky. He'd just remembered the spell to conceal his location. He'd messed up his escape the first time, but if he could just get another chance... "I can make a patronus," he said, trying to sound as if he were boasting, "It was the first thing he taught me." He said it boldly, knowing it was a lie, and the man scoffed across the table. Remus had told him about Patronuses and what they were used for, but Harry had never even attempted to make one and didn't know how. "He did," Harry insisted, trying to sound and look as certain as he could. The man's cold black eyes were locked onto his now.
"You're a liar, just like your father." There was bitterness in his voice.
Harry didn't know what the man was talking about, but he could tell he'd struck a nerve, and as nervous as he felt, he pressed forward, trying to find more buttons to push. He had always been able to rile uncle Vernon easily (though he always tried not to). Maybe he could do the same here and gain some sort of advantage. Despite not even knowing the dark eyed man's name, Harry spewed out, "Remus said you'd be like this. He said you wouldn't know common sense if it was staring you in the face. He said you were a coward and-" faster than Harry knew what was happening, the man had produced a wand from his sleeve and was thrusting it out for Harry to take hold of.
"Insolent child! Prove to me you can produce even the wisp of a patronus!" Clearly he thought Harry was too young to know how to cast anything.
Harry took the wand. It felt different than Remus' wand, not just to the touch, but he could feel the personality of it and how it was different. Remus' wand was powerful but often felt tired, if he could describe it like that. This wand was powerful and angry and lonely and Harry could tell it didn't like being out of it's owners grasp. He held it out in front of him, trying to act as though he wasn't aiming at the angry man's chest, and tried something he didn't believe would work and had never gotten to work before. He shouted "Expelliarmus!" trying to force his magic through the lonely wand. As the dark eyes across the table widened, Harry didn't know if the man was surprised to hear the shouted incantation come out of Harry's mouth, and so had tipped himself and his chair over backwards, or if the spell had actually worked, but he was on his back on the concrete and Harry was up and running down the empty street in the waning light with the wand. His heart beat hard in his ears and he was out of breath by the time he rounded a corner at the end of the street and then ran down an alley, hoping to find any place at all to hide and do the charm. He never looked behind him and didn't know if the black eyed wizard was right behind him or still incapacitated on the ground in front of the cafe. Get to Remus, get to Remus. It was all he could think, though he didn't know where Remus was or where he himself was, or how to get there if he did know. If only he could apparate.
Something hard collided with Harry from behind and Harry went down, scraping up his hands and knees and chin on the rough pavement. He still had the wand in his hand and as someone rolled him over roughly the wand was snatched from his grasp. He let go willingly and eyes closed, not sure who had him, threw his hands in front of his face and cried, begging not to be hit and locked away. He wasn't even sure what he was saying, just that words were coming out of his mouth. The more he cried, the more he was sure it was Uncle Vernon who had caught him. He'd probably been taken back to Little Whinging and Uncle Vernon had seen him on his way home from work, stopped the car and chased after him. Anything that hurt this much had to be caused by his uncle.
"Please don't lock me up, please please." Harry's eyes were too full of tears to see the world straight if he opened them. "I'll be good I promise, please, please I promise." He cried heartily. He never cried in front of Uncle Vernon. That only ever made things worse, but he was so upset to be taken from Remus that he couldn't stop the tears. If only Harry had worked harder, remembered the right spells, then he could have escaped this.
"That much is doubtful," came a cold voice after long moment's of Harry's pleading and crying. Harry tensed up when he realized it wasn't his uncle. It was the man who'd taken him from Remus. The man whose wand he'd stolen. The man he'd tried to hex. He seemed dangerous and Harry wasn't certain what his punishment would be before he took him to Dumbledore and then back to Privet Drive. Harry opened his eyes but didn't lower his arms.
"You act as though I plan on murdering you."
"I am a teacher not a monster, despite what the wolf might have told you."
"He didn't tell me anything about you," Harry said, breath hitching several times.
"I wouldn't know common sense if it was staring me in the face-" he recited, and Harry blinked hard trying to get the tears to clear. They were still in the alley, which was almost completely void of light now. The man cast a lumos and Harry shook his head.
"I don't even know your name. I just wanted your wand so I could get away."
"To pretend to cast an Expelliarmus?"
"I did cast one."
The man sneered. "You did not," he said indignantly, "I tipped myself over in my own folly." Harry looked away, cheeks reddening.
"If the wolf did not fill your head full of nonsense about me then why were you pleading for me not to lock you up? Did he keep you restrained? What has he done to you?" he demanded.
Harry was quiet as he stared at the wall on the opposite side of the narrow alley. Remus had done nothing to him but take him away from his own personal hell at Privet Drive. "He gave me clothes," Harry said quietly. "And he fed me. He taught me magic. And you took me away from him."
"He kidnapped you Potter. Has he addled your mind with some sort of memory charm?"
"I went with him. I wanted to. He just wanted to keep me safe. The Dumbledore man made me stay with them." When the dark eyed man just stared at him, Harry clarified, "with my aunt and uncle. Remus tried to get him to let me leave there, he took him pictures of how they were and Dumbledore said I had to stay. So I left with Remus. He's good to me."
"You make it sound as if your family are not." Harry looked away, cheeks turning red again, and pulled his knees up to his chest so he could have something to hug.
After long silent moments in the darkness, the dark eyed man stood up from where he'd been crouching and said, "Come here."
Harry stood up, trying not to sniffle as he resigned himself to his fate. "Are you taking me to my family?"
"I am taking you to get answers." He grabbed Harry's wrist and apparated them away, and Harry was surprised to find himself back at the camp, where Remus was now free from the ropes and was sitting in a chair with his head in his hands. At the loud pop, Remus jumped up and looked startled. Snape had taken Harry less than an hour ago, and now they were back. He'd been expecting Aurors to show up, or even Dumbledore, but not Severus and Harry.
"Harry!" Remus said, and Harry freed himself of Snape's grasp and ran to Remus, hugging him tightly around the center.
"What's going on?" he asked, looking up at Severus.
"I want answers. This is your one chance to provide them before I take the boy to Dumbledore."
Remus stared into Severus' eyes and didn't say anything for long moments, but finally looked down at the top of Harry's head as the child was still hugging him tightly around the middle. "Can I treat his injuries first?"
"I will be watching Lupin. Do not try to apparate away with him."
"Come inside Harry," Remus said gently, and walked awkwardly into the tent since Harry was refusing to let go. Severus followed them inside and watched as Remus convinced the nervous child to sit on his cot as he examined Harry's scrapes and bruises and applied a scrape and bruise balm to them.
"Lie down Harry." Remus covered him up and opened the trunk between the two cots, pulling out Tales of Beedle the Bard. He set it next to Harry on his cot and said, "I'll be back in a bit. Stay here." Harry locked eyes with him and didn't say anything, and refused to look at Severus as the two men walked back out. Remus sat down on one of the chairs and Severus sat in the other.
"Talk wolf," Severus said seriously, leaning forward.
"What did Dumbledore tell you when he asked you to track us?"
"He said you were unstable and that you had taken the child from his home without reason."
"And what did Harry tell you?"
"Aside from pulling a foolish stunt, he told me nothing other than that he went with you on his own and that you didn't hurt him."
"I wanted to see him so I went to visit, but his family turned me away. So I watched instead and saw that they were treating Harry like their own personal servant. They had him doing manual labor and as I watched for several days I realized that each day he came out of that house with another bruise or cut, or another reason to limp or be in pain. I went to Dumbledore and he didn't believe me. So I went back with a camera and got photos. When I took them to him he said it was best for Harry to stay where he was. I went back a third time with more photos, but he said Harry would be staying there until he was 17 and it was best if I forgot about it." Remus looked up from the fire he'd started by hand a few moments before Severus had brought Harry back. "I couldn't leave him there like that. Not James and Lily's son. It wasn't right. I doubted those people were even sending him to school. With my status there was no way I could go to court for him, so I did the only thing I could do."
"You kidnapped him."
"I emptied my vault and sold what I had and bought supplies. Then I approached Harry and told him I would take him away from his relatives if he wanted, and that I would never treat him like they had. That was all I needed to say. He asked me to take him away from there."
"It was a foolish thing to do."
"It was the only thing I could do. The only thing Severus. I know you didn't like James, but could you really have left Lily's child, or any child for that matter in that situation if you knew they were being mistreated like that? Do you know that he didn't even have a bedroom? They were keeping him locked up in the cupboard under the stairs. He didn't have clothes that fit him or glasses he could properly see through. He didn't have friends or any semblance of a childhood."
"You had to know you would be caught."
"I did know, which is why I taught Harry as much magic as I could in the month and a half that I had him. I wanted to keep him safe for as long as I possibly could before we were caught and he was sent back. I had only hoped that it would be longer than it was."
"He said you taught him to cast a Patronus and when I gave him my wand he tried to use an Expelliarmus on me instead."
Remus raised his brows. "Did he cast one?"
Severus looked cross and said, "No. I was foolishly surprised and tipped my own chair over backwards, at which point he took my wand and absconded down the street."
"How did he get scraped up?"
"I tackled him."
Remus gave him an unhappy frown and sighed. "He doesn't want to go back. The second you take him back to Dumbledore, he'll put him right back with his relatives. It all has something to do with his belief that Harry will have to face down Voldemort again in the future."
"He insisted that he did not know why you took him."
"So you don't believe me." It wasn't a question.
"I believe I was lied to and I do not appreciate being sent on a fool's errand and wasting my time."
"Severus, I know we haven't ever been friends, but if you would only grant me one thing in this existence, grant me this: leave Harry here and don't tell Albus that you found us."
"You are a werewolf and you put him in danger three times a month."
"Three days of the month I spell myself to a rock inside a circle that Harry can't cross. And if he's in danger with me only three days a month, it's better than the 31 days a month he's in danger with his family. Severus, the man might as well have put Harry with Lucius Malfoy or Voldemort himself. You don't know these people. You don't know the way they treated him. You didn't see it."
No, Severus sighed, but he had seen how Harry had cowered and begged not to be locked up and thrown his arms up over his face as though he had expected to be hit.
"You are a fool," he said to Lupin. "And I must be one too."
"I will not take him to Dumbledore."
A look of pure relief washed over Remus' face. "Thank you Severus-" he started, but the man was holding up a hand.
"Do not thank me. I do not do this for you, and if I thought there was a better person to hide him with, I would take him there. You shouldn't take him, but there is no one else."
"I'm not a bad person Severus."
"You're a Maruader and a wolf and either one of those alone is enough." He stood up and looked as though he was going to leave, but then turned back to Remus. "Do you have enough supplies? What are you teaching the boy?"
"Defensive spells mostly, and history and other things from the first and second year texts. He had enough clothes but he's just ripped up his shirt and pants."
"We go into town every few days."
"Yet another foolish thing to do."
"It took you this long to catch us. I'm surprised the Ministry hasn't found us yet."
"Albus did not alert the Ministry. He was afraid it would alert old Death Eaters who work there. He did however tell Kingsley Shacklebolt, Arthur and Molly Weasley, and Minerva McGonagall."
"I've been staying away from wizarding villages because I thought there would be wanted posters everywhere."
"There are not." Severus took out Remus' wand and dropped it on the ground, walked to the edge of the barrier and then turned and with a shake of his head muttered, "foolish," and disappeared, though Remus had a feeling the man was calling himself foolish for his decision to leave Harry there. Remus strode quickly into the tent, where Harry was still awake, now sitting on his cot with his bag at his feet.
"Are we moving?" Harry asked.
"Yes." Harry moved to leave the tent but Remus said, "Harry." Harry turned. "I'm glad you're back. You did good. I'm proud of you."
"I didn't cast the expelliarmus and I couldn't remember the charm to keep him away from me."
"No, but you kept your wits about you anyway and escaped two times. That's something to be proud of. And besides that, I've never known anyone to scare Severus Snape bad enough to make him tip his chair over backwards." Remus smiled and Harry gave an uncertain smile back.
"What's it called again? Where we're going?"
"Wartons Cross. It's in York."
"What about that other place you said? Diagonalley?"
"That's the main source of shopping for our kind, and it's very crowded. Even without your glasses and the hat people are likely to spot you. You're famous. Everyone knows the description of what you look like. There are other wizarding villages and areas but I don't want to risk going to them. Hogsmeade for instance is right off of Hogwarts grounds and the staff and students visit there frequently. Professor Snape said that Professor McGonagall knows that I've taken you, so that's not a wise option."
"Is there a bank there? You said I had money."
"There's a branch of Gringotts in all seven wizard quarters, but we won't be taking money from your vault. The Goblins would have to verify who you are to let you take money, and I have a feeling that the Headmaster has eyes on your accounts."
"I thought you said you didn't have any money though. How will we get the things we need?"
"I like Wartons Cross because they sell a lot of used goods. I got your clothes there. I have enough to get us through the winter and spring. You don't need to worry yourself over that." Remus gave Harry a dose of the potion to fix his eyesight for an hour and made sure that Harry put the blue Ravenclaw hat on.
"Here, take my hand." Harry took the outstretched hand and they apparated away, reappearing on a winding narrow lane where the buildings were crooked and tall and sometimes leaned right out over the street and tried to blot out the sunlight. There were a lot of people here and Harry wondered if Remus expected it to be this crowded.
"It's alright. Come this way." Remus took him through the crowd, and though Harry tried to keep his head down to hide his face, his curiosity got the better of him and he looked on in awe at all of the strangely dressed people. There were women with strange looking hats, people carrying brooms and cats, owls hooting overhead, and almost everyone was wearing cloaks of varying colors, even the children.
"Are you going to make me wear one of those?" Harry asked as a boy a few years younger than Harry ran by wearing a light blue cloak.
"They're very warm and standard attire in our world. You'll get used to it and find it useful."
"Traveling cloaks are heavy and if you ever find yourself stranded outdoors you can use them as a blanket. Some people wear cloaks that will help them blend in with their surroundings. I read of hobbits who wore gray cloaks to help them blend in with rocks or grasses when predators were nearby."
They went into a shop full of used clothes and Remus helped Harry pick out a heavy black cloak, a thick brown winter coat, and a thick gray pair of socks. Remus also bought a heavy coat and black cloak.
Remus took Harry to a used bookstore next, and told Harry to pick out seven sickles worth of used books. He'd recently taught him how to count wizarding money and Harry tried to remember how many knuts went into a sickle as he picked out book after book. After ten minutes he had nine books and he and Remus went to the counter to pay for them. Harry was looking through the stack excitedly as the person at the counter rang them up. There was a defense book with a well worn cover that claimed to have fifty five spells that could save your life, a book about famous witches and wizards, and Harry had been pleased to find several children's novels that looked similar to Tales from Beedle the Bard, which he'd read through completely almost five times now.
Harry looked up at Remus, whose eyes were on the door.
"What?" Harry asked as the man handed Harry the bag full of books.
"Come on, we've got to go," Remus said. "Keep your head down." Harry did as he was told and hurried along behind Remus past several shelves and a group of people and then out the door. All he could see was a lot of feet, and as soon as they were outside Remus ushered Harry quickly down the street.
Harry's eyes widened as a woman's voice called out behind them.
"Who is that?" Harry asked, panicked, not looking back.
"Keep walking," he insisted, and they picked up their pace. The woman was calling out again behind them.
"Remus Lupin! Stop this instant! I'll hex you! You know I will!"
Remus stopped, much to Harry's horror. "No! Let's apparate away!" Harry begged, but Remus turned instead and Harry did as well. A woman with bright orange hair and two children about his age with the same orange hair was hurrying down the street, wand out and aimed at Remus.
"How dare you!" she said, voice full of loathing. Harry watched her face and then looked to her children. There was a boy and a girl and they both looked confused and even embarrassed. "The child of Lily and James!"
"If you don't mind Molly, could you please keep your voice down? There are certain dangerous people we would not want to alert to his presence."
"His presence? Don't pretend you're looking out for his safety. I know better. Albus told us everything! You ought to be ashamed of yourself! What would James Potter say?"
Harry was feeling tense and on edge and he actually took a step behind Remus to get away from the woman's angry gaze, even though it wasn't directed at him. He slipped his hand into Remus' hand from behind, as much for comfort as the hope that Remus would simply apparate them away from this woman's wrath.
"I believe he'd say thank you."
She growled and muttered something under her breath, but from behind Remus all Harry could hear was, "Of all the dirty rotten.... worse than Sirius Black...."
Then in a clearer voice that he could hear he heard his name and peeked out from behind Remus to listen as she spoke. "Harry dear. It's ok, you don't have to be afraid. My name is Molly and I can take you to safety."
Harry looked at her face, which didn't seem as angry now, and then to the red headed boy, who was looking back and forth from his mother's face to Harry's with curiosity. "I promise I won't hurt you," she said. "I'll make sure to get you back to your family."
Harry reached around to Remus' other side then and took the wand from his hand from behind. He waved it in a circle around himself and shouted, "NO!" He didn't know what was supposed to happen, he just knew he didn't want to go and hoped that Remus wand would cooperate with his wishes somehow knowing that it was also it's owners wish. It did. A blue transparent dome appeared around Harry before disappearing in a flash, leaving a blazing electric blue ring on the ground around Harry's feet.
Molly looked perplexed, and Remus crossed his arms with a smile, seeming satisfied. Her children looked surprised at Harry's show of magical prowess.
"He doesn't want to go with you," Remus said to Molly with a smile, and the fact that the man could speak so nonchalantly to this woman who had thus far spoken with so much vitriol bolstered Harry's confidence that they would be able to get away. "He knows you'll turn him over to Dumbledore who will send him straight back to his relatives."
"That's where he belongs," she said to Remus, though her eyes were still on Harry inside of his blue circle.
Remus stepped forward and leaned in so only Molly could hear and said, "He's seen enough abuse already Molly. Let him be."
She looked startled by what he'd said and then seemed uncertain. Remus backed up to Harry's circle but didn't cross the line, not sure what spell Harry had cast to protect himself.
"Talk to Severus," he said, and then held out his hand towards Harry without looking at him. Harry shook the wand at his side and the circle disappeared. Remus picked up the bags of dropped books and clothes and Harry took Remus's other hand. Just as they disapparated Harry gave a small wave to the boy, and the last thing Harry saw of Warton's Cross, was Molly's perplexed face.
Remus was laughing as they reappeared and Harry gave him a bewildered look. Remus only laughed harder when he saw Harry's face though. "We faced down Molly Weasley," he said to Harry, who didn't seem to understand the significance of this event. "Oh Harry, I'm so proud of you. You've no idea."
"I just, didn't want to go with her."
"She's a good woman Harry, very protective. Dumbledore told her and her husband that I'd taken you, and when she saw us in the bookstore I knew there was no way she was going to let us leave without telling us off."
"Telling you off," Harry corrected him.
"What were you thinking when you put up the ward around yourself?"
"Is that what I did? I just thought I didn't want to go with her and that she wasn't taking me no matter what."
"The basic theory of a ward is to stop someone from getting in. Most wards are secretive and so they are invisible. I didn't think you'd be able to cast one at this young of an age. It was almost like a shield against magic, which is visible, but I'm betting that yours was meant specifically to keep her out of your space. Wards are more thought and intent than they are wand-work or incantations. I'd like to see you do it again."
Still having Remus' wand in hand, Harry tried to repeat his actions, but wasn't feeling threatened and so the ward didn't work.
"All is well Harry," Remus assured him. "Even if you never manage a ward again, it was worth it to see the look on her face at your casting."
"What are the names of the kids?"
"I'm not sure about the girl. I think their son may be Ronald or Robert. The Weasleys have a lot of children and I haven't seen Arthur and Molly in almost ten years."
"Do we have to go back out again? To the wizard stores I mean?"
"No, not for a long while. We still need supplies like blankets and other winter wear though. I'll figure out a safe place to get our supplies. Come sit down, show me the books you got."
Harry was still feeling rattled by the experience, but also felt strangely bolstered by the fact that they'd gotten away without being chased. At least it wasn't the dark eyed Snape this time, though Harry wasn't sure Molly Weasley was much better.
It was midway through October before Harry and Remus saw anyone from the wizarding world again. Two weeks had passed since their encounter with Molly, and the weather had just taken a turn for the cold. Remus had moved their camp into a dense wood where they were shielded from the wind by the trees, and they'd only been there a few hours when Severus Snape appeared just inside the ward line with a box in his arms.
Harry startled and scrambled into the tent, but came back out a moment later with Remus.
"Severus, I wasn't sure we'd be seeing you again."
"Now that I know what wards you are using, you are easy to find," he said. He walked to Remus and held out the box.
"Blankets, gloves... thank you Severus," Remus said, and Harry wondered that he could sound so friendly towards this man when he had come in and tied Remus up and stolen Harry away like he had before. Harry stood behind Remus but tried not to act like he was hiding. Snape seemed to notice that he was anyway.
"You'll have to forgive him," Remus said. "We had an encounter with Molly Weasley a couple of weeks back on Warton's Cross."
"So I heard."
"You spoke to her?"
"She was concerned that I was somehow involved in your kidnapping of the boy hero."
"I have a name," Harry said then, feeling a moment of bravery remembering how he'd dealt with Molly, but then he realized who he was talking to and disappeared completely behind Remus' back.
Remus chuckled at Harry and asked Severus, "What did you tell her?"
"The same thing that I told you. That you are foolish and that you will end up getting caught."
"Did you tell her you'd already found us?"
"I did not because I did not know if she would inform Dumbledore of that fact. So far I have told him that I found one of your previous camp locations but that is all. I did tell her that I had investigated Harry's family," he made sure to place special emphasis on Harry's name so that he wouldn't pop out from behind Remus' back to interrupt again, and then continued on, "and that it seemed as though you had taken him with good reason."
"What did she and Arthur say?"
"They said they would not tell Albus that they encountered you, and expressed concerns over Harry's safety during the full moon and during the winter months."
"We've been through two full moons now without incident," Remus said. Harry came out from around Remus again, though he kept his face half hidden as he watched Snape. Snape looked at him as if to make sure he was still whole and unharmed. "There is one dose of wolfsbane in the bottom of the box. Do not waste it. It cost nearly two galleons to make."
"Severus... I appreciate the gesture."
Severus snorted and looked away, as though he very much doubted that Remus appreciated him at all. "I will be very... irritated if I have to deal with a rambunctious eleven year old werewolf come next September. I would be even more so if said eleven year old werewolf were unable to cast spells properly because his arm had been chewed off."
Harry frowned. Was the man trying to warn him? It was nothing he hadn't already seen. Remus didn't know Harry had followed him again or that he'd seen Remus rip a wild rabbit to shreds before swallowing it without even chewing. It was dangerous to be around him during the full moon, but at the same time Harry couldn't help but feeling envious of the man's raw power and ability to keep himself safe for those three nights of the month. Harry wondered how Remus could be so... tame during the rest of the month, and wondered if he was holding his real power back until he really needed it.
"Ah, I see he already knows how dangerous werewolves can be." Harry's head snapped up and he found both men looking at him, Snape with a raised brow and Remus with a surprised look.
"Did you follow me?"
Harry looked away.
"Harry, we talked about this. You don't know what it's like. You don't know what it is that you think you want."
Feeling embarrassed to be talked to like this in front of Snape, who he'd already made himself look childish in front of the last time he'd met him, Harry looked up at Remus and said seriously, "You don't know what it's like to have no power to protect yourself. I followed you and watched, and I kept my distance. I'm not going to cross the line."
Remus sighed and sat down in one of the camp chairs next to the box. "Harry, would you mind gathering the night's firewood? Take my wand. You can levitate it all back if you want." Harry took the wand being offered to him without complaint and moved off into the treeline glad to be out of the line of verbal fire.
"Am I to understand that he wishes to be turned?" Severus asked seriously, sitting down in the other chair in front of the fire.
"He asked about it once or twice. He wishes that Dumbledore would leave him alone and he thinks that if he becomes one that he can be my son and that it will keep Dumbledore from caring about what happens to him or where he lives. He thinks it will keep him from being sent back to live with his Muggle relatives."
"You are serious."
"Yes. My initial intentions were to leave him with my wand on the nights when I change so that he could protect himself, but now I have to take the wand with me to cast wards around myself so he can't get in. I didn't realize he was following me out and watching me."
"He appears to be a handful."
"He's not, he's really a good boy. He does his school work and works hard and is eager to please."
"And is stubborn and defiant and cheeky."
"You're talking about when he made you tip that chair over?"
Severus shot him a look and Remus chuckled.
"I didn't think we'd be seeing you again."
"Winter is coming. It is supposed to be particularly bad this year."
"Thus the blankets," Remus said. "I know. That's why we went to Warton's Cross, to get heavy cloaks and coats."
"There are hats, gloves, and blankets in the box. I also included a first year potions text and several pepperup potions. I assume you know how to cast fire into a jar?"
Remus nodded and Severus said, "There are two lidded jars in the box as well."
"It's an easy incantation," Remus said. "I'm sure Harry will pick it up quick."
"You make it sound as though he is some kind of prodigy. I did not believe he could cast anything."
Remus gave him a knowing look and a little smile. "You thought he could cast an Expelliarmus."
"One more time wolf," Severus warned, and Remus looked into the fire with a smile. He generally didn't like to raise people's ire even though he was good at it. Not like James and Sirius who liked to rile people up to start fights with them or to prove a point. No, when Remus did it, it was a form of camaraderie, and it gave him some small satisfaction that he could raise Severus Snape's ire without sending him into a tirade. The words he'd spoken with him about Harry were more words than they'd exchanged in their entire time as schoolmates and later as Order members.
Harry chose that moment to come back levitating an armful of wood. He lowered it to a spot a few feet from the fire, and then went inside and brought out the short wooden stool to sit on since both chairs were occupied.
"If there is nothing else you need," Severus said, standing up.
"We appreciate the thought," Remus said. "I think we have everything for now, so long as Harry doesn't read through all of his new books too fast and grow bored again." He turned to smile at Harry, who was busy trying to work up the nerve to ask Snape a question.
"Sir." He didn't know if he should call him Snape, or Severus, or teacher. Snape looked at him and waited, dark eyes piercing. "Mrs. Weasley's son... the one we saw in Warton's Cross. Do you know what his name is?"
Severus considered him for a moment and then replied in his usual cold voice, "Ron."
"Is he my age?"
Harry looked away. "Thanks."
Severus narrowed his eyes, sensing the unasked question, and then said, "I will pass on your interest in seeing him again." He gave a last look at Remus, ignoring Harry's shocked expression altogether, and then disappeared with a sharp pop.
"I didn't ask him that," Harry said. There was no realistic way he'd be able to see anyone because of the wards.
"No," Remus said with a smile, "but he's sharp as a tack. Come on, let's take this box inside and see what he's brought us. It's going to be cold tonight and it will be good to have the extra blankets. I've got a new spell to show you too." Harry followed him inside and took one of the soft gray blankets and put it over his sleeping bag and watched as Remus did the same. Was Snape going to come back? Remus seemed friendly towards him, did that make him a friend? He'd brought them supplies, but Harry wasn't sure if he could be trusted. He knew where they were, and knew that they'd run into the Weasleys. He could tell Dumbledore at any time and that made him dangerous, didn't it?
"Now about you sneaking out..." Remus said, bringing Harry's attention back around to him. Harry sat on his cot, ready to be lectured about the hard life of a werewolf again, but he wasn't listening as Remus spoke to him. He couldn't get his mind off of Snape, who seemed more mysterious now than before he'd learned his name.
Snape it seemed, couldn't get Harry and Remus off of his mind either. He came back again the next week with a box of canned foods, several pairs of warm socks for Harry, and a book called ‘Hogwarts A History'. Harry knew he should have been thankful for the food and socks, and he was, but he was more thankful for the book. Without anyone his age to spend time with, or chores to do, he only had reading and practicing spells to occupy his time. Much to Harry's displeasure, he'd hit a block with his spell-work, and the spells he was learning had slowed to the excruciating crawl of one per week. Remus' wand was fighting him harder as the spells Harry tried to learn increased in difficulty. Without being able to learn new spells, Harry only had reading and note taking to fall back on to occupy himself. Snape didn't stay when he'd dropped off the food, socks, and book. He merely looked Harry up and down, handed Remus the box, and then had popped back out of existence, as if he hadn't ever really been there at all. He did the same thing a week later, only bringing a green and silver scarf for Harry.
"Why d'you think he does this?" Harry asked Remus, staring at the spot Snape had disappeared a few moments earlier. "He doesn't even talk to us."
"I think he comes to check up on you."
"Why? Do you think he's reporting back to Dumbledore?"
"Definitely not," Remus said, beckoning for Harry to follow him back into the tent. There was an inch of snow on the ground and since the weather had turned they'd been spending very little time out of the tent. "I would be in Azkaban or on trial right now if he'd told him." When Harry didn't respond, just running his thumb over the soft scarf as he sat on his cot, Remus said, "You don't trust him."
"Well why do you?" Harry asked looking up.
Remus considered him. In all truthfulness, he wasn't sure he did trust him. He hadn't turned them in yet though, and that was something. He remembered Lily trusting him though, and defending her friendship with him to James in their last few years at Hogwarts when James and Sirius had decided to bully Severus brutally.
"Your mother trusted him."
"He knew her?"
"He was in our year at Hogwarts. He's the one Slytherin friend she had that I told you about."
"Ooh," Harry's eyes widened. "Him?"
"I would not mention to him what I'm about to tell you. Well- maybe I shouldn't say anything at all."
"Come on Remus, please?"
Remus fixed Harry's hopeful eyes with his own. "It's going to have to be a story he tells you," he finally said, making up his mind.
Harry gave him a weak glare. "You won't even give me a hint?"
"No. Do you other have questions about him? I can try to answer those as best as I can."
He thought about it. Maybe if he asked questions, Remus would forget and tell him whatever it was he had thought about telling him a minute ago.
"What's he teach?"
"Potions. He's also the head of Slytherin house."
"And he was in the Order if Dumbledore sent him after us, right?"
"He was more than just in the Order. He was the only spy we had in Voldemort's ranks."
"He's a DEATH EATER?" Harry jumped up off his bed, looking alarmed, and dropped the Slytherin scarf on the floor. "Did my mum know that when she decided to be friends with him?"
"From what I know, she was friends with him before they started at Hogwarts. And yes, she knew. We didn't see much of Severus when working for the Order. A lot of people were in hiding and the Order was a secret. Meetings were infrequent and not everyone came to every meeting. Lily and James, Sirius and Peter and I joined the Order right after school, but Severus didn't join until just a few months before Voldemort attacked your parents."
"So how long was that then? Between when you joined and he joined?"
"Almost two years."
Harry stared at Remus like he was crazy and Remus raised his brows. "He was serving Voldemort for all that time and you trust him?"
"Dumbledore trusted him enough to let him into the Order and hire him at Hogwarts."
"Who cares what Dumbledore thinks. You said we couldn't trust him!"
Remus sighed as he gazed at Harry. "Harry, you're an intelligent boy. You're going to have to make up your own mind about who you can and can't trust. I'm not perfect, I'm just a man, and that means I can make mistakes like anyone can. And besides that I won't always be here to tell you who to trust."
"I trust you," Harry said, and Remus nodded. He'd made that decision when he'd let Remus take him away from Privet Drive and that had turned out well.
Harry's heart was pounding in his ears as his feet pounded the pavement. Left, right, left. He didn't know where to go to get away from the elderly witch that had spotted them and started arguing with Remus, and worse, he didn't know where he was in relation to Remus. They'd both run from her when Remus had been unable to apparate away because of some sort of anti-apparation ward that had been thrown up, but fairly quickly Remus had shoved Harry down an alley and told him to go a different direction. He'd already run through several alleys and made countless turns in his attempt to zig zag his way away from the trouble, and now he was hopelessly lost. There was the sound of a door opening nearby and Harry bolted again, breathing heavily as he ran. Right, right, left, right. There was the sizzle and crackle of a spell nearby and Harry ducked to avoid getting hit with it before he realized that he was still alone between the two rows of houses, and that it was probably on the next street over. He strained his ears and heard Remus shout, but he couldn't make out if it was a shout of pain or some sort of spell.
Harry crept along the shadowed alley, feet crunching in the ice and snow and stopped short of coming out on the brightly lit street. Witches and wizards were leaning out of doors and windows, looking around with curiosity as another sizzle, bang, pop of magic could be heard. At least they were in one of the wizarding quarters and not out in Muggle London, Harry thought for a brief moment before he pushed the thought away. They'd come to pick up supplies and they'd barely been in the village for more than a few minutes when a shocked woman had called out to Remus. The difference between this time and their encounter with Molly Weasley was that this woman didn't have children with her, she didn't seem concerned about Harry's well-being, and she had no compunctions about throwing spells at Remus. There hadn't even been any scolding, and Remus must have been wary of this woman, whoever she was, if he had immediately run and then separated himself from Harry. Being separated from Remus scared him, and being lost scared him, but the fact that Remus seemed scared himself bothered him and made him fear for Remus' safety like he had when Snape had found their camp the first time.
"Who's dueling?" a man asked loudly on the street Harry was getting ready to creep out onto.
"I could be wrong, but I thought it was Minerva McGonagall! It couldn't be though!" called another man. He was leaning out a second story window and trying to see over the rooftop of the houses across the street from him. The fighting must have been in that direction.
"She's a fearsome fighter that one," a woman called to both of the men. "I wouldn't want to be dueling her if she's angry about something!"
Harry couldn't help himself at that moment. He left his cover and darted down the street towards the dueling, the eyes of the adults following him as he went. He could only hope that they didn't recognize him.
"Hey! Be careful there son! Don't want to get hit by a stray hex!" the man in the second floor window called, but Harry ignored him. He ran to the next alley and then ran into it, hoping there would be another break between the rows of brick houses where he could peer out on the next street and see the fighting. Remus hadn't given Harry his wand, and even if he had Harry had a feeling he wouldn't have been useful with it; even so, he had to get there and figure out a way to help. He just wouldn't be able to stand the thought of Remus hurt or in prison because of him.
He found a break in houses and was just about to run out to Remus when a spell hit Remus in the side and he went sprawling. Harry took a step forward, ready to run to him and help him up, but before he could go any further someone grabbed him from behind and pulled him backwards into the alley. Panicking, Harry struggled to get free only to catch a glimpse of dark eyes and long black hair. Severus Snape put a finger up to his lips to keep him quiet, and Harry obeyed, too scared to be caught by the woman who had taken Remus down.
Remus struggled to pull himself up as he lay in the middle of the street, but he slipped in the snow and fell several times. Harry worried that he was hurt badly enough to be killed and struggled against Snape for a moment more, but Snape held tight and he stopped struggling when the woman with dark gray hair and rectangular spectacles started to approach Remus, wand still drawn.
"What have you done with him Remus?" she asked, out of breath and looking furious.
"With who?" Remus tried to get up again and fell back into the snow, and Harry's heart clenched.
"Harry Potter!" she cried with exasperation. Harry could tell she was upset. He wasn't sure why she couldn't see him because he was in the open alley only ten or fifteen feet away, but when he looked at Snape for answers he saw that he had his wand out. He must have cast some sort of invisibility spell to keep them out of sight.
"Help him," Harry whispered, pleading with him.
"I am," Severus said so quietly that Harry almost didn't hear him. Harry couldn't see how he was helping him by just standing there though.
"I don't have him Minerva!" Remus said, voice quiet, but not quite defeated. He seemed defiant even as he grimaced in obvious pain.
"I trusted you! We all did! What have you done with him?"
"Nothing that shouldn't have been done in the first place."
She looked as though she were trying to work out the meaning behind his words. With a voice so full of concern and pleading that it startled Harry, she said, "Please Remus. Tell me where he is so I can help him!"
"Just what is it you think I've done to him?" He looked up and met her eyes, but Harry was too busy watching Remus' shaking hands to take in half of the exchange going on between the two of them.
"I'm afraid to know," she said. "The full moon was four nights ago and here you are alone. I know you took him. Albus told me everything."
She didn't respond.
"I would have expected something like this from Sirius, but never from you."
Remus shook his head. "Maybe we should all be a little more like Sirius then if it means saving Harry from a depressing fate."
Angrily she threw a spell at Remus and he blocked it with a shield, but the force of the spell against the shield knocked him flat and made his hands shake even more. Behind Harry, Snape began to pull him back further into the alley.
"No," Harry whispered frantically. "Stop. We have to help him."
He allowed himself to be silenced once again, but only because he feared that his noises would somehow distract Remus when he clearly needed to be focused on the fight. Remus didn't have his wand up anymore though. He was breathing heavily and he looked sad.
"No," Harry whispered, as if his pleading could keep Remus from giving up.
"I always counted you as a friend Minerva," he said, and in that moment he did sound defeated. "I think that with my track record of being there for you, you could at least have given me the benefit of the doubt long enough to hear my side of the story." She looked like she was going to throw an angry retort at him, but before she could, Remus disapparated with a pop, and before Harry could even feel properly surprised Snape had taken him along into the stifling blackness too.
When they reappeared Harry looked around expecting to see Remus but all he saw was trees, and snow, and Severus Snape in his heavy black cloak, staring at him with his dark eyes.
"What did you do!?" Harry shouted angrily at Snape, and he forgot his fear of the tall man for that brief moment as he shoved hard into the man's solid chest. Snape took a step back to keep himself from falling over backwards and stared down at Harry, surprise in his eyes. "You just left him to fight alone! You could have helped him! You said you were helping him! Now he's gone and he's hurt and I'm all alone again!" Harry made a fist and hit Snape's chest with the edge of his hand in anger. He tried to hit him again but Snape caught both of his wrists with his hands and held them tight.
"Be still!" Used to obeying uncle Vernon when he shouted like that, Harry immediately fell still and stopped struggling. He couldn't keep his eyes from widening in fear as he stared up at the tall Potions master.
Snape let go of his wrists and looked at Harry as though he were a butterfly that had just stung him unexpectedly like a bee. "Tell me Potter, what did the werewolf do all of this for?"
"What? We went to get supplies."
Snape glared at him. "What did he put himself at risk for?"
"To protect me! You know that!"
Snape stared at Harry as though he were dense and Harry's mind tried to work out why that was. Oh. Snape knew that Remus' goal was to protect Harry, so he had helped him by protecting him and getting him away from that witch.
"Aside from the obvious Potter, while you were busy running around like a chicken with your head cut off, I was trying to remove the anti-apparation wards that Minerva had unexpectedly put up upon her arrival."
"We have to find Remus," Harry said, turning away because his cheeks were turning red now. "He's hurt."
"After he puts up his wards I will run the same trace spell I have been using to find your camps." Harry thought there might have been something else Snape wanted to say to him, maybe about hitting him or yelling at him, but he clamped his mouth firmly closed and didn't say anything else.
Harry huffed in frustration and allowed himself to fall to his knees in the snow, fists still balled from his earlier bout of anger. What if Remus was too injured to put up the wards? Would Snape know another spell to trace him? If he couldn't get the wards up, would that woman be able to find him? Images of Remus lying helpless and injured in the dirt somewhere pervaded Harry's mind, and he quickly brought his hands up to scrub the tears out of his eyes. He knew he was being a baby, but Remus was all he had! He had the thought then that Dudley would have cried if aunt Petunia or uncle Vernon were hurt or in danger of being carted off to prison.
"Potter." He didn't respond.
"Harry." He felt fingers gently brush up against his shoulder from behind him, but Snape must have pulled his hand back immediately after. Harry looked up and found Snape looking uncomfortable. The man cleared his throat. "His wards are up," he said. Harry got to his feet, running a dirty sleeve across his eyes, and then stood facing the man he had hit and practically accused of being worthless. He was going to tell him he was sorry, but a lump rose in his throat and his face turned red in embarrassment instead. Snape cleared his throat again and then reached down and gripped Harry's wrist, taking him away to where Remus was.
The tent was not up when they got there, and Harry was surprised to find that they were under a bridge of some sort, with a half frozen brook burbling at the bottom of a ditch a few feet away. Remus was sitting on a slab of rock with his head in his hands. As soon as they appeared, Harry was across the small dark area Remus had put the wards up in and into Remus' arms before Remus could register that he and Severus were even there.
"It's ok cub, you don't have to cry. We made it out ok," Remus said, holding the back of Harry's head. Harry knew they were out of danger for the time being, but he couldn't make the feeling of pure terror at the thought of losing Remus leave him.
"How injured are you?" Severus asked, though he hadn't moved towards them.
"No more than I usually am after a full moon," Remus said. He gave a little laugh, but Harry could tell it was only for his benefit. "A sprained wrist where I fell on it, and some scrapes and bruises. I could tell Minerva was under-powering her spells. If she'd hit me full force with that last weakening hex, I would have been unconscious. I got lucky." He looked up at Severus, not bothering to try to remove Harry from where he sat next to him holding onto him for dear life. "Do I have you to thank for removing the anti-apparation ward?"
"I was in the area. Albus expects Minerva and I to be out every chance we get looking for you, so I took the opportunity to visit the apothecary in the Fifth Quarter."
"That explains why Minerva was there in the middle of November then. I would have thought she'd be teaching."
"Is it?" Remus asked, surprised. Being on the run and out of touch with a world where he would normally have time sensitive things to do and places to be meant he lost track of the days and months easily. He only knew when the full moon was coming because he watched the skies at night, and because he could feel it in his bones when the full moon drew near.
"It's Sunday the 30th of November."
Remus sighed. "I thought it was earlier in the month. That means Christmas is coming, right Harry?" But all he got in response was, "Mm," since Harry's face was buried in his side.
"Thank you Severus."
"If you are in need of something let me know," Severus said, eyes sweeping over the dirty mop that was Potter's hair, and when he'd gotten a nod from Remus in reply, he disappeared, leaving the pair alone.
Harry and Remus sat in silence under the shadowed shelter of the cold bridge for long minutes, Harry taking comfort in the solid warmth of his guardian. Finally Remus said, "Look at us, huh? Sitting under a bridge like vagabonds. Are you sorry you came with me now?"
Harry shook his head. "'S better than a cupboard under the stairs," he said, and he meant it. He'd rather be living in a tent or under a bridge with Remus than with the Dursleys any day.
After another few minutes of silence, Harry asked, "Who was that lady? She was mean."
Remus chuckled. "Minerva McGonagall can be strict, but she's always fair, or at least she tries to be."
"You'll see when you go to Hogwarts. She's the head of Gryffindor house."
"I'm not going to Hogwarts," Harry said firmly. After almost losing Remus for a second time, he didn't think he could handle that again. He'd be happy with just having Remus for a teacher if it meant being with him.
"We'll see," Remus said. "You can't judge someone like Minerva on the limited knowledge you have of her."
"She must not be a good friend," Harry said, recalling what Remus had said to her about not giving him the benefit of the doubt since they were friends.
"After what Sirius did, and after Albus told her I'd kidnapped you, I think she was just worried that I had done something to you like Sirius had done to Peter. Like a lot of people, she adored your parents. She was their head of house and they were important to her. That makes you important to her."
"Why? What does she want from me?" Harry's mind was off and running wondering what agenda's she had for him and if she was on Dumbledore's side and just wanted him to be unhappy so he could fight battles for them.
"I think she just wants to keep you safe. Right now she believes that means returning you to your relatives and believing in Albus Dumbledore. She doesn't have all the facts."
"Can't you just tell her then? Like you did Snape?"
Remus sighed. "I don't know Harry. I fear I've broken her trust too badly to be repaired. Our friendship may be over."
Harry tilted his head to look up at the stubble on Remus' chin. "I'm sorry," Harry said.
He smiled. "Don't be Harry. You're worth it. That's why everyone's looking for you."
* * *
Harry was nervous about seeing Snape again. He'd probably made the man angry by hitting him and yelling at him like he had, and then he'd gone and messed up his one chance to apologize. He knew he'd show up eventually to bring them more supplies because he'd already been to the camp so many times, but Harry wasn't sure weather to dread the next encounter, or look forward to it. Snape had had the chance to turn him over to Dumbledore when he'd caught him in the alley when Remus was busy dueling and he hadn't done it. And even after he'd helped Remus and Remus had escaped, he could have hurt Harry or tried to take him back to Voldemort, wherever he was at, but he'd made no attempt to do that either. He hadn't even sought revenge for Harry hitting and pushing him. Uncle Vernon would have knocked Harry flat to the ground without a second thought. Maybe Remus was right to trust him. Lily had trusted him after all, hadn't she? It was hard for Harry to trust in his mother's judgment though when he had no memories of her. The only person who had ever really been fair and kind to him that he could remember was Remus. Remus was there. He was real to him. Lily was a real person... she had lived a real life, but she wasn't quite real to Harry. Harry wished she were.
After the bridge, Remus moved them towards the coast where it was warmer in the winter months. They found a meadow on the edge of a wooded area a few miles inland and set up the tent. It was cold and wet, but Harry was thankful that there was no snow or frost. The two fire jars were enough to keep the tent warm after they moved, and Harry didn't spend as much time bundled up and lying under the covers on his cot as he had before when they were higher up in the mountains.
As the rain drizzled on the roof of the tent for days on end, Harry grew restless with his studies and with being cooped up inside. Snape didn't visit, and without anyone else pinging off of their wards, Harry was lulled into a sense of complete and utter boredom. The boredom was broken only by the full moon, when Remus broke the routine by leaving all night for three nights in a row. Harry wanted to follow him, but he didn't have anything waterproof to wear, or an umbrella to use, so he chose to stay in the tent instead where it was warm and dry. Remus came back each morning soaking wet, drank a pepperup potion, and then went to bed until the next evening. He woke up one afternoon to find Harry staring at him from across the tent.
"Am I that interesting?" Remus asked.
"When it's the full moon, you growl in your sleep," Harry said.
"I like it," Harry said matter of factly. "It's fearsome." He grinned. "We could just record you and then leave all the wards down. People would hear you growling and keep away."
Remus laughed and shook his head. "You're like your father. He did record me once during the full moon when I was awake. Somehow he used the recording and a fancy bit of wandwork to enhance a potion. Anyone who drank the potion would growl like me for a few minutes anytime they tried to say anything. He and Sirius put it in Lily's cup once in fifth year and she spent the rest of the term glaring daggers at the four of us."
"Didn't she forgive him?" Harry asked.
"It was before they were dating, when they were still at odds with each other."
"What do you mean?"
"Lily didn't always like James. They didn't start dating until the very end of our sixth year."
Remus could see that Harry was bored, and after he'd recovered from his three days of ‘wolfing out' he started coming up with games to keep Harry's interest up in his studies. He helped Harry make flash cards with spells and potions from the first year texts and they made a card game out of matching up bits of information to the spell cards they belonged to. He also turned a sheet of paper into a Bingo sheet and charmed it so that the slots would automatically fill themselves in. Unlike Muggle Bingo however, there was an added element. On the spaces were written spells that Harry hadn't learned yet. Whenever he correctly preformed one of those spells for the first time, the space would fill in and letters would appear. Remus told Harry that when all the spaces in a line filled in, a clue would be fully revealed to Harry.
"A clue for what?" Harry asked.
"That's something you'll have to figure out too," Remus told him with a smile. "I expect after you get the first two clues you'll know what it is you're supposed to be figuring out."
"That's not fair," Harry said, but he was intrigued with this puzzle within a puzzle, and Remus allowed him to commandeer his wand for most of the daylight hours so he could practice the spells on the Bingo sheet. It was hard work because the wand was fighting Harry harder than it ever had before, but Harry had taken the Bingo sheet as a personal challenge and had already worked out 5 of the spells in a line and gotten the first clue: ‘Your'. "Your? What's that supposed to mean?"
Remus only grinned when he asked and said, "You'll have to work out the rest of the lines on the sheet to get the answer to that question." Much to Harry's consternation, the second clue he worked out was ‘is'. He wrote it on a scrap of parchment he kept folded up in his pocket. He'd pulled the parchment in and out of his pocket so many times as the days went on to look at the clues that the folds were ready to rip.
One morning Remus woke Harry up and asked, "Have you figured it out yet?"
"No. You're killing me Remus. I'll be old and buried before I figure out the last clue because your wand doesn't like me." Harry thought the wand might be getting to know him, because sometimes when he picked it up he felt like the wand thought he was familiar, but that didn't mean it was willing to cooperate with him.
"What are all the clues you have so far?"
Harry gave him a look and pulled the paper out of his hiking boot where it was sitting on the floor next to his cot. He'd been staring at the parchment before bed last night.
"Hm," Remus said. "This is a tough one," he teased. Then he read aloud, "Your Christmas present is hiding."
"You knew what it said," Harry accused him. Once Harry had put the words in order and figured out it was about Christmas he'd been pestering Remus to give him a break and tell him all of it.
"Now, where would a Christmas present be hiding on Christmas morning?" Remus asked with a smile.
"It's Christmas?" Harry asked. He leapt out of his cot and padded across the tent to the boxes of cooking and food supplies, pulling off the lids and digging through them. His present had to be around here somewhere. If he didn't have the last clue as to where it was hiding, he'd just have to find it himself.
"It's not in there," Remus said as Harry went to Remus' cot and lifted up the covers. Harry ignored him though and turned the bed on it's side so he could look underneath where Remus kept other containers and a box of books.
"Is it wrapped?" Harry asked excitedly. "I've never had a present before."
"James and Lily spoiled you rotten on your first Christmas. James got you a training broom before you could even sit up by yourself."
"Is it a broom?" Harry asked, pulling his head out of the potions trunk.
"Have you seen me bring a broom in?" Remus asked with grin.
"No, but you can shrink things. What did you get me? Where is it?"
"Figure out the clue," Remus said. "You only have one spell left. As soon as you have that spell, you'll have your answer."
Harry huffed and plopped down on the three legged stool in the middle of the floor. He stared up at the Bingo sheet tacked to the tent wall and glared at it. It was a detection charm from the middle of the first year charms book and it was meant to detect weak spells. Hm... that would be useful if he needed to find something Remus had concealed by magic, Harry thought.
"It's hard," Harry said. "The wand is forcing the magic back up my arm whenever I try."
"Maybe you're fighting the wand," Remus said. He held out his wand for Harry to take, and he took it. He felt the sensation that the wand was familiar with him and his magic, and wondered how he could be fighting it.
"You told me to force my magic out through it. But it's blocking me."
"Try this," Remus said. "Close your eyes."
Harry frowned but did as he was told. "Ok, now you feel the wand, don't you? You can sense what it's doing."
"It's stubborn like you," Harry said, and in response a few gold sparks came out the end of it.
"Like both of us," Remus told him. "We've talked already about how detection of spells is more about intent than wand work. That means it's more about the magic inside of you, or even your senses than it's about making your magic go out through the wand. That means this spell should actually be easier for you than the others you mastered on the list.
"Ok, but how do I do that? I mean, I can't just sense magic can I?"
"You sense the wand don't you?" Harry could hear from Remus' voice that he'd gotten up and was walking around the tent now.
"Ok, so keep your eyes closed and think about when you had Severus' wand and you tried to disarm him. Did his wand feel different?"
Harry squirmed in his seat then. It had felt lonely, and thinking about that, Harry felt even more guilty about hitting him and yelling at him a few weeks ago. "Yes."
"Hold my wand out in the position the book mentioned, and think about finding any magic nearby. The only way I can describe it is letting your magic reach out to touch any other magic around you. And when you think you feel something, use the wand and say the words to the charm."
Harry concentrated so hard he thought he'd get a headache, but when he realized it wasn't working, he took a deep breath and tried to sense how other magic might feel. If Remus' wand felt stubborn, and Snape's felt lonely, then other magic must have a feeling too, right? ‘Secretive'. Harry startled and opened his eyes.
"What did you sense?" Remus asked.
"That's good. That's what hidden things feel like because that's the intent a wizard has to have when using a concealment charm. They have to wish to keep something a secret to make it work. Focus, and feel around with your senses. Where does it feel secretive in the room?"
Harry closed his eyes again and felt around with his mind. There was more than one secret in the room. He could feel something pulling at the edges of his senses towards the corner of the tent behind the food boxes, and also had the sense that he should look up at the ceiling in the center of the tent. He opened his eyes and looked straight up.
"Very good Harry," Remus said. "This is the type of magic that I find I enjoy the most. I've always been able to sense magic around me, even powerful curses."
"Is my present cursed?" Harry joked. "Going to give me an extra set of ears or something?"
"Would you like an extra set?"
Harry refrained from saying ‘only if they're pointed and furry,' and continued to stare at the ceiling of the tent. He raised the wand and then said the charm, with the intent to reveal what was hidden. Suddenly a red package appeared where before there had been none. Without warning it fell from the ceiling right into Harry's lap. "Oompf."
Remus laughed. "Well done."
Harry tore into the paper and found a book with a dark brown leather cover. There was no title on it, only a set of runes that he couldn't decipher. When he opened the cover however, the words were all in English. There was a gruesome woodcut drawing of a werewolf ripping a person in half.
"You seemed very interested in werewolves because of my condition," Remus said. "This is the most accurate book I know of about lycanthropy. It's written by werewolves and the family members of werewolves, and it's the only book about the subject that isn't tainted by the lies of the Ministry. It's more accurate than the information in the Defense books at Hogwarts even."
"Thanks Remus," Harry said sincerely.
"I know you're curious, and the only way I can think of to keep you safe is to satisfy that curiosity. The more you know about lycanthropy the less I believe you'll be eager to try to become like me."
Harry looked up at Remus and said seriously, "You're the best person I know Remus. I'll always want to be like you."
Remus looked touched and cleared his throat. To keep the situation from feeling too awkward, Harry used the excuse of finding the other hidden item in the room to stand up and walk away. A minute later and he had a brand new pair of thick gray socks that had both been stuffed with candy Remus had apparently picked up before they'd encountered Professor McGonagall in the Fifth Wizarding Quarter.
Harry had thought he was done getting gifts that day, but after lunch Remus' watch alerted them to something pinging off of their shield and concealment charms. It had been so long since something like this had happened, that Harry slipped his boots on and followed Remus out of the tent and into the light drizzle of rain.
"It's an owl," Harry said with awe. Just outside the circle of their wards sat an unhappy looking brown owl whose feathers looked ruffled.
"The only way it could find us is if Severus knew our location and gave it to the owl," Remus said. He stuck his hands over the line, startling the owl (who had only seen arms appearing out of thin air), and brought it across the wards. There was a gray package tied to it's leg, and Harry thought it must have had a featherweight charm on it if the owl could carry such a large box.
Remus ran a half dozen spells over the box to be sure it wasn't cursed, and then opened the letter attached to the outside. Aloud, he read, "Remus, we have spoken to Severus. He agreed to take our owl and send it via apparation to your location. If you need anything please let us know. Ronald would like to visit with Harry. Let us know through Severus if that is a possibility. And Harry dear, Merry Christmas. Do try to keep warm and stay out of trouble. Signed, Molly Weasley." Remus re-read the letter again silently and then handed the box to Harry.
"For me?" Harry asked.
"It has your name on it," he said, motioning for Harry to go back into the tent as he let the owl loose outside the wards again.
"Open it and then we'll pack up and move camp."
Harry set the brown package on the small wooden table and ripped the paper off. From inside he pulled out a soft maroon sweater with a gold H on the front. He held it up for Remus to see and silently asked what it was with raised eyebrows.
"A Weasley jumper," Remus said with a laugh. "That means they've claimed you as one of theirs."
"Molly makes one for each of her children every year for Christmas."
"I'm not theirs," Harry said even as he pulled the sweater on over his t-shirt. It was so warm and he wondered at the thought that someone had spent the time to make him something so nice.
"No," Remus agreed, but didn't say anything more on the subject as they began to pack up to move to a new location. He couldn't take the chance that it was a trap and that the owl had been followed via magic to their camp.
An hour after they had their new camp set up in a sheltered wood where the ground was actually dry from rain because of the dense canopy overhead, Snape appeared. Harry was sitting in a camp chair outside the tent around a fire enjoying being outside, even if it was chilly and damp when Snape walked through the wards.
"He's not here," Harry told him when his eyes swept around their small camp. "He's getting firewood."
"And when do you expect him to return?" His mouth was set in a thin line. Harry had never seen him smile, and wondered if he was always lonely and unhappy or angry, or if he just didn't know how to smile.
"Any minute," Harry said. He got up and went into the tent, and came back out with the other blue camp chair. He set it across the fire and motioned for Snape to sit down. The man gave it a look, probably looking at how dirty the chair was, and then finally sat down in it. Harry pretended not to notice that the man's dark eyes were looking him up and down.
"Remus is going to make hot chocolate when he comes back," Harry said, but when Snape didn't reply, he figured the man must still be mad at him for hitting him. Harry still wanted to apologize, but wasn't quite sure how. Apologies never went over well with uncle Vernon, who always took them as a sign that Harry had done things wrong on purpose, and so always punished him more harshly when he apologized.
"I, er..." he trailed off. He met the man's dark eyes, and then looked away again. Why was he staring at him? "I'm sorry about before. For hitting you I mean. And yelling. I'm stupid's all."
After a moment of silence, in which the only sound was the fire crackling and water dripping from branches high above, Severus said, "From what the wolf says, you are anything but stupid."
Harry looked up. "I mean... for what I did. It wasn't nice."
Severus narrowed his eyes and the boy looked away again. Potter was actually apologizing to him? James Potter never would have done such a thing. Clearly Lupin was wearing off on the child. Severus thought the apology was wholly unnecessary though. The boy had been distraught and shaken when he'd last seen him, and worried about losing the only person he thought he had that cared about him. He had been foolish and naive, but under the circumstances and his apparent mistrust of him, Severus was willing to forgive the child's outburst. It had disturbed him to see the child so distraught and so certain that he was once again alone.
His black eyes raked over the boy's mess of black hair. It was an inch longer than when he'd last seen him at the end of November, and though it was unbrushed it seemed clean. His pants and shoes and hands were another story however. The edges of Harry's pant cuffs were frayed and there were smudges of dirt up and down his pants, likely because he'd been walking in the mud. His hands were also dirty and Severus wondered if he'd washed his hands at all that day, or even in two days. At least the red sweater was clean.
"You like living with the wolf." Severus said. It wasn't a question.
Harry looked up and nodded. "He's nice. He takes care of me."
Severus had tried many times to push the image of Potter cowering in an alley out of his mind, but occasionally it still came back to him, and he was reminded that Lupin had been right about the Dursleys. Harry was better off here with the wolf than with his relatives, but at what cost? The constant running and fighting and escaping had obviously taken a toll on him. Seeing him in the aftermath of Lupin's fight with Minerva had been enough to tell him that.
"You would not rather be living in a house or the school?"
Harry's face darkened then and he frowned. "You know why I can't."
"But if you had a choice you would?"
"Only if Remus was there."
At that moment Remus came back into the camp, levitating a large stack of wood. "Severus. I wondered when we'd be seeing you again. Molly sent a letter today."
"I have come to collect your reply."
Remus looked at Harry as he put a piece of wood in the fire. "They want to check up on us," Remus said. Harry had to agree. They'd used their son as an excuse to gain entry into the camp. "We can't go to their house, so the only option is here."
"You can always decline."
Remus laughed. "I could, but they already don't trust me, and if there's a possibility I can win them over and get their help when we need it, then I have to take it."
Snape was quiet as he waited for Remus to tell him what he wanted to do. "Tell them we say yes. They can come visit in the spring."
Severus raised his brows.
"It's too cold for the boys to do much of anything outdoors right now," Remus explained. But it should be reasonably warm enough in March. Hopefully we can get a day or two without rain even."
"I will let them know."
Severus turned to walk out of the wards, but Remus stopped him with, "Do you want to stay and have dinner and hot chocolate? It's nothing grand but you're welcome to stay."
Harry watched as the Potions Master seemed to be going back and forth in his own head over the offer. He seemed as if he seriously wanted to accept, but finally he said, "I must get back and deliver your reply." He walked out of the wards and disapparated.
"Why does he do that?" Harry asked as Remus began digging in a box for cups and a tea kettle to heat the water with. "I know he's checking up on us, but why does he just come and stare at me and then leave? He could have stayed and had dinner."
"He doesn't like me," Remus said.
"But you said you trusted him. He's on our side, right?"
"I think he is. That doesn't mean he feels comfortable enough to stay when he comes to deliver supplies or check up on you."
"Well," Harry said, "I don't think he likes me either. I apologized to him and he didn't care."
Remus set the tea kettle over the fire. "What did you apologize to him for?"
Harry bit his lip and then wondered if he'd be in trouble if he told Remus. "That day when we got separated... he apparated me away and I hit him and pushed him backwards and shouted at him for not helping you. I didn't know he had helped you."
"That explains why he hasn't been around much since then," Remus said with understanding. "I wouldn't worry yourself over it. I don't think he's used to having people apologize to him."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"He's been treated pretty poorly. People picked on him in school and after the war even though Albus got him cleared of wrongdoings in front of the Wizengamot, a lot of people looked down on him for having been a Death Eater. If the Headmaster hadn't hired him, I doubt he would have found a job elsewhere."
"See, you make it sound like Dumbledore's this nice guy, but he isn't. He can't be."
"I understand why you feel that way Harry, and I struggle with the same feelings sometimes. I know two sides of him, and that makes it more difficult. You only know the side of him that is making life difficult for you."
"Nothing's going to change my mind. He's a bad man."
Remus' eyes looked sad, and Harry wondered why, but they didn't speak of it anymore after that.
They'd ventured out into the Muggle world again to take Harry to a barber, who cut Harry's hair so that it wasn't down past his ears. Harry admired the haircut in a shop window out on the street afterwards, and thought that he'd never looked better. He looked normal for once, like he could have been any one of the popular kids in primary. After the barber, Remus steered Harry into a clothing store, and Harry worried over the price of the new clothes before Remus told him to pick an outfit out and ignore the price tags.
"But I can't," Harry told him. "We need money for supplies. I know you don't have very much left."
"Stop worrying yourself over it," Remus told him. "You need a new pair of pants anyway and it wouldn't hurt to have a new shirt either." When Harry still hadn't moved towards the racks of clothes, Remus nudged him and said, "If you don't pick something, I'll be forced to pick something. I think that salmon color shirt over there looks rather nice, don't you?" Spurred on by his dislike of the color, Harry picked out a pair of jeans and then a dark blue shirt and handed them to Remus.
"That wasn't so hard now was it?" He asked. After they paid for the clothes, Remus took them back to the camp they'd just moved to that day. Ron was going to visit tomorrow, and then they were going to pick up and move camp again. It was a shame, Harry thought, because he rather liked the spot they were in now. Their camp was smack in the middle of a meadow. There was a little thicket of trees on the edge of it, and a wide creek on the other side. Harry thought that if they could have built a house there, it would have been the perfect place to spend the rest of their days hiding from Dumbledore.
The morning of Ron's visit dawned cold and bright. The skies were clear for the first time in days, and because it had gotten cold the night before, the damp ground was now covered in a heavy layer of frost. It made the world look crisp and clean to Harry, who enjoyed the frost and preferred it to snow. In Harry's mind there was nothing like a clear frosty morning spent sitting around a warm campfire with a cup of hot chocolate to warm his hands.
"So you think they're coming to inspect us?" Harry asked. He figured that's why Remus wanted him to look presentable. He'd made Harry scrub himself clean twice the night before with water Remus had heated up in a pot from the creek.
"They don't trust me because I've taken a very unconventional means of getting you removed from the Dursleys and they won't let Ron come alone. I'm sure that one of his parents will be along with him."
"You don't think they'll tell Dumbledore?"
"I trust Severus' judgment in a lot of things. He seems to think they have no intentions of betraying our location to Albus. They were loyal to him, but so was Severus. If anyone was going to turn us in, it would have been him."
"Well-" Harry hedged. "He's ok."
Remus raised his brows at Harry in surprise, and then grinned. "So you've come around have you? Well, you certainly are like Lily. Reserved and cautious but willing to give second chances."
Harry asked Remus questions about his mother for the rest of the morning until two red heads came into sight on the other side of the meadow near the creek. Harry stood up, feeling as anxious as ever about meeting Ron, and watched as Remus stepped outside of the wards to wave them over to the edge of their camp.
Mr. Weasley seemed to be all smiles, Harry noted, while his son, who was a good two inches taller than Harry seemed to be curious about the camp, and to Harry's consternation, about Harry himself. Ron's eyes kept flickering up to Harry's scar, which was now fully visible thanks to his haircut the day before.
"Remus, nice morning for a visit," Arthur said after he and Ron were inside the wards. His eyes traveled around from the warm fire to the two dirty camp chairs, to the thick tan canvas tent. "Hello Harry," he said, extending his hand. Harry reached out and shook it, and then stepped back and felt awkward because he didn't know if he was supposed to shake Ron's hand or not.
"Here Harry," Remus said, handing his wand to Harry, which caused Ron's eyes to widen in surprise. "Stay inside the wards."
"Ok," Harry said, and he motioned for Ron to follow him towards the thicket of trees. He didn't know what Ron liked to do, but he'd found a lot of salamanders there yesterday and thought it might be fun to catch some of them.
Remus and Arthur watched as the boys made their way across the meadow and out of ear-shot, and when they were both occupied looking at something on the ground, Arthur turned to Remus and said, "It's been a long time Remus."
"I wish we had kept in touch. After James and Lily- well, you sort of disappeared."
"I was looking for work. After the Order was disbanded I needed something to keep myself occupied."
Arthur nodded, eyes reflecting the sadness they both still felt over James and Lily, and though Remus didn't have to say it, Arthur knew he was still saddened by the loss of Sirius too.
"I know you're a good man Remus," Arthur said. "When Albus told us what you'd done, I knew there had to be a reason. Molly was beside herself, because she didn't know you as well as I did so she thought you had ulterior motives."
"Having people know me well hasn't done me any favors so far," Remus said. "Minerva was ready to send me to Azkaban when we ran into her. She thought I'd mauled Harry or turned into Sirius."
"I heard. For what it's worth, I think she feels bad about it. Severus said he spoke to her and she's upset about having to duel you."
"I'm a werewolf. That makes me untrustworthy, but on top of that I was friends with Sirius, who betrayed everyone's trust."
"I don't put any stock in that werewolf business, and neither does Molly, though we do worry about Harry during the full moon."
"He's curious but I educated him about how- dangerous, I can be. We take precautions so there aren't mishaps."
"The two of you seem to be doing very well out here. Better than I would have thought. Harry looks good Remus."
Remus pulled out the photos he'd once tried to give to Albus, and handed them to Arthur. He was prepared for a fight if Arthur was still on Dumbledore's side. "That's Harry before I took him. I still can't fathom it, but Albus wanted him to stay with his relatives, even knowing what they were doing to him and how he was living."
Shaking his head in shock and anger at the photos, Arthur handed them back to Remus. "You know Albus," Arthur said seriously. "You're very brave to be taking him head on like this. He has pull with the Wizengamot and the Ministry. When you get caught-" he trailed off because Remus had held up a hand to stall him with a serious look.
"When I get caught-" Remus said, not denying that it would happen eventually, "Harry will be ready. I've been teaching him. Albus shouldn't have the right to make decisions for him when he makes ones based on ulterior motives. The only reason I can think of why he wants Harry to stay with his aunt and uncle is because he wants Harry to grow up impoverished and beaten, half starved and unloved. He must think it will make him stronger. But what made Lily and James strong? Their love. That's what Harry needs. People that love him and look out for his well-being. Not an aunt and uncle who care nothing for him."
"I don't disagree with you. The question is, how can Molly and I help?"
Remus gave Arthur a tired look and Arthur returned it, understanding passing between their eyes. Yes, Arthur wanted to help, not to run back to Albus and report to him about Harry.
"The Ministry will never let me keep him. Especially after I've run off with him. Harry trusts Severus but he'll never be able to take him either. You have a good home though, and Harry seems to get on well enough with Ron." He indicated the two boys across the meadow, who were now each holding a stick and laughing as they had a sword fight.
"You want us to petition to get custody of him?"
"Yes. If you start now, before I get caught, then there's a good chance he won't get sent back to the Dursleys. Don't you think?"
"We'll do what we can. The legal costs alone are more than we have though, and more than you have as well."
"I've been thinking about that. Severus isn't bad off, and I believe he has Harry's best interests at heart. He may be willing to help."
"He'll be fired if Albus ever finds out."
"I think he's had enough of Albus right about now. I don't think it will hurt his feelings any. It can't hurt to try can it? I'm plan A and we both know this can't last forever. I know Harry would stay with me for his schooling if he could, but I can't possibly teach him everything he needs to know. He needs to go to school. You and Molly are plan B. I've got to come up with a plan C in case that falls through. Maybe Severus has some ideas."
Arthur nodded. "I'll have to be discreet about our proceedings. And I won't be able to come back with Ron once we start because Albus will know we're involved and will have eyes on us."
"I understand. Let me know or get word to Severus when things have started moving. Maybe Ron can come visit once or twice more before that happens."
Arthur nodded again. "I would bring Ginny too but Molly wants to keep her out of it. She's not even sure about letting me bring Ron out here with you two being on the run and all." They were silent for long moments as they watched the boys continue with their sword fight.
"Am I doing the right thing Arthur? This is what Sirius would have done had he not switched sides, I know it. It's what James would have done if it were my son in Harry's situation."
"He seems well... happy. I can see you're like a father to him. Severus has kept your secret, it seems he approves, and you know how Molly and I feel. You can bring him to us at any time if you need to. We won't turn him over to Albus."
"Thank you. Severus has made the same offer. I feel too on edge about things though... like Albus knows who is involved. I don't want you to get in trouble. You have a position at the Ministry... aiding and abetting a kidnapper won't look good if you get caught."
"It's for Harry. He's been through enough. I know Molly will agree with me. You know how protective she is over children. We're willing to do what needs to be done."
"That means a lot."
"Do you have anyone else you can trust?" Arthur asked.
"Up until recently I didn't know I could trust you and Molly and Severus. I seem to be finding friends in more places than I realized I had them." And less, he thought, remembering Minerva, and feeling saddened again that he'd lost that friendship.
"You know, the Order was an underground back when You-Know-Who was in power, working behind the Ministry's back. Now we're an underground of the Order and Albus is the enemy. Times have changed."
"He's not the enemy, but he's not a friend either," Remus said. "Any man who would try to toughen up a child by leaving him at the brutal hands of his abusers is not a man I trust."
"I feel sick to realize that he's done this. Harry's just a boy. What else has he done that we don't know about?"
Remus nodded. It was a thought he'd been struggling with for months now, though at the same time he was fighting himself with the thought that Albus was a good man, a man he'd trusted and looked up to for years. He was the one who had come to his parents and gotten them to let him attend Hogwarts when his parents had planned on keeping him hidden away for the rest of his childhood. Albus was the one who had kept his secret for seven years while he went to school until a few students had found out and told on him right at the end of his seventh year. Albus had even offered to let Remus stay at the school over holidays when his mother had died and his brother and family had abandoned him. Remus' heart kept trying to remind him that Albus was a good man and would do no harm to Harry, but his head kept retorting that he'd already done harm to Harry by placing him with his aunt and uncle and keeping him there. He wanted to trust Albus like he had as a child, but he couldn't keep himself from feeling as though his eyes had been opened to the truth and could not be closed again.
* * *
"So-" said Ron, using a long stick to bat at the tall wild grasses of the meadow. "You live here?"
"Not here exactly," said Harry. They'd looked for salamanders and had a sword fight with barely more than a few sentences to each other, but he could tell that Ron was curious and wanted to ask all sorts of questions. "We move around a lot. Sometimes every day, sometimes not for a week or more."
"Why? Doesn't your dad have money for a house?"
"Remus? He's my dad's friend. My parent's died."
"I know you're Harry Potter... I know the story... I thought maybe he adopted you or something. My parents won't really say much about you. I heard them talking about a werewolf and the Headmaster of Hogwarts though."
"Remus is a werewolf."
Ron gave Harry a look and Harry laughed. "Well I'm not. Not yet anyway."
"Are you going to be?"
Harry looked over his shoulder to where Remus and Ron's father were still sitting around the fire, drinking coffee now.
"Someday," Harry said proudly, turning back to Ron. "I want to be just like Remus. No one will mess with me if I'm a werewolf."
"You're Harry Potter though! No one's going to mess with you either way. Just wait until you get to school. Everyone knows you defeated You-Know-Who."
"I'm not going to Hogwarts."
"I'm not supposed to be here with Remus. Dumbledore wants me to live with my aunt and uncle, but they're evil. They didn't like me and they weren't nice. Remus tried to get Dumbledore to let me live somewhere else but he kept saying no, so Remus brought me out here. That's why we move so much, because we're on the run. I'm not going to go to a school where Dumbledore will be in charge of me."
"How will you learn magic though?"
Harry pulled out Remus' wand and levitated a rock off the ground. "Remus teaches me. I can do about forty first year spells now and even a couple of second year ones."
"Wow," Ron said, impressed. "I wish mum and dad would teach me. Fred and George are always bragging about how they can do magic and I can't."
"Fred and George?"
"My twin brothers. I have five brothers and a sister."
"How come they didn't come with you?"
Ron seemed nervous and thoughtful then, and said, "Only me and Ginny know about you, because we were with mum when we ran into you. Mum and dad told us we couldn't tell anyone else about you, not even our brothers. They're all at school right now anyway, and Ginny's home with mum. Like I said, they wouldn't really tell us why, only that we had to keep our mouths shut. I didn't think it was because you were on the run."
"If we're caught they'll send Remus to Azkaban and send me back to my aunt and uncle. Remus got in a duel with a Professor from Hogwarts a few months ago before Christmas because she spotted us!"
"Really? Which one? Was it Snape? Fred and George are always complaining about him, and he gives me the creeps. He came over twice since we first saw you."
"He's ok," Harry said. "No, it was Professor McGonagall. She saw us and started shouting at Remus and they had a duel in the Fifth Wizarding Quarter! Right there in the middle of the street in front of everybody!"
"And Remus won, right?"
"Not really," Harry said glumly. "Professor Snape was there and he helped Remus and me escape. No one but your family knows he's helping us. It's strange, because he doesn't even like Remus, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't like me. I tried to use Expelliarmus on him when he first found us and he wasn't too happy about that."
"You're brave Harry. You would be in Gryffindor if you went to Hogwarts. Are you sure you don't want to come?"
Harry wrinkled his nose up in thought. It was nice having a friend his own age to talk to and hang around with. He would like to meet other kids his age and be friends with them, and he'd like to learn, but he didn't want to be separated from Remus, who was the only adult he knew of aside from Snape who might actually care what happened to him. Snape would be there at Hogwarts, but that was no guarantee that Dumbledore wouldn't try to mess with him and send him straight back to his aunt and uncle's house. "I don't know," Harry said truthfully. "It's still a ways off. I already don't like Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall and I should stay with Remus."
They walked around the perimeter of the camp for another half hour talking about Quidditch teams, school houses and duelling, kicking at rocks and using sticks to swipe at the tall grass before Ron's father called for them to come back to the campfire.
"Harry, it was a pleasure meeting you," Arthur said, shaking his hand again.
"Yes sir," Harry said. "Please tell Mrs. Weasley thank you for the sweater at Christmas. I wear it all the time."
"Do you? She'll be pleased to hear it. I think she said something about knitting yours extra thick to keep the cold away." He turned to Remus and shook his hand as well. "We'll talk soon," he said, and Remus gave a nod.
Harry waved goodbye to Ron, and then Arthur took them outside of the wards and apparated.
"Did you have a good visit?" Remus asked.
"Yes," Harry told him. He refrained from telling him about all the talking and thinking about Hogwarts he'd done though.
"Good. Let's get camp packed up and ready to move."
"Do we really need to?" Harry asked. Ron seemed like an honest guy. His family couldn't be on Dumbledore's side if he and his sister had been told not to tell anyone about seeing them.
"We can't take any chances," Remus said. "If they want to get in contact again they'll talk to Severus. Until then we'll have to be precautious."
"D'you think Mr. Weasley liked the camp?"
"Well enough," Remus said. "Though he may have some trouble convincing Molly that you're well fed and taken care of."
Remus had moved their camp again after Mr. Weasley had come to bring Ron for a visit and to tell Remus that Albus had caught wind of their petition to take custody of Harry. They were in a wooded area somewhere near Outgate Remus had said, but as soon as he'd helped Remus set up the tent Harry had moved off into the trees to be on his own. He didn't understand how Remus could just try to pawn him off like that. He barely even knew the Weasleys. He'd only played with Ron a few times and he'd barely said more than a few sentances to Ron's father. But he'd spent eight months with Remus. Eight months learning and playing games, reading stories, talking and laughing and joking. Eight months on the run from the rest of the world. Maybe Harry was just a burden for Remus to want to give all of that up. Maybe those things didn't mean the same to Remus as they did to Harry.
Harry picked up a stick and began batting at shrubs with it and banging it on trees as he passed absentmindedly. What other plans did Remus have for him that he didn't know about? The Dursleys were always threatening to get rid of Harry. It seemed like every month his aunt or uncle came up with new imagninary places to send him away to. The orphanage in London, the circus, St. Brutus', the streets, America, the crazy cat lady down the street who had once stuck up for him after she saw Uncle Vernon push him down the steps. Now the Weasleys were added to the list. He liked Ron and Mr. Weasley didn't seem that bad. That didn't mean he wanted to go with them. He'd never be part of their family. Remus was the closest he'd ever come to family and it felt like it would be the closest he'd ever get. Or maybe he wasn't as close to Remus as he thought he was. He banged the stick on another tree as he passed.
"Who are you?"
Harry paused, stick still in hand and wondered if he could just pretend he didn't exist and that would make it true.
"Well? This is my property. You're tresspassing. Father will have a fit if he finds out Muggles are here."
Harry turned slowly to find a boy about his age with blond hair. His eyes moved from his face, to his expensive clothes, to the dirt that was all over his hands and knees. Was it safe to tell him he wasn't a Muggle? He didn't have to tell him his name or anything. Remus wouldn't even have to know he'd met a boy in the woods.
"You're not deaf are you? Mother told me there was a home for deaf Muggle children in the next town over."
"I'm not a Muggle," Harry finally said.
Draco scrutinized Harry's appearance and then asked, "How old are you then? When are you going to Hogwarts?"
"I'll be 11 soon, and I'm not going."
"You're going next year?" he queried. "I just turned 11 and I'm going at the end of this summer."
Harry didn't know what to tell him. He'd told Ron everything because they'd been invited to know by Remus. Maybe he shouldn't have spoken to this boy at all. He didn't seem too bad though.
"Are you part fae or something?"
"You know... not all human. Vampire, werewolf, elf? You're too normal looking to be giant, dwarf or goblin. I heard there was a fae school somewhere but only fae get invited."
"And they let werewovles in?" Harry asked skeptically. He remembered Remus' story about Dumbledore helping him go to Hogwarts.
"Not until recently. They didn't used to let Vampires in either. My tutor taught me about it."
"Is that it then? You're a werewolf?" He looked interested.
"Not exactly," said Harry. "I'm all human."
"But you're not allowed to go to Hogwarts?"
"I'm allowed," Harry said, "but I can't go. We're on the run... my dad and me," Harry tested saying it out loud. He felt like Remus was his father, even if Remus didn't want to be and didn't want Harry to call him that. He felt a little rebellious telling this boy Remus was his father when Remus didn't want him to say things like that, but Harry suddenly felt like Remus shouldn't get a say in what he said or did.
Draco looked him up and down again and then sat down on the ground cross-legged and looked up at Harry expectantly. What? Did he want the whole story? Harry sat down on the ground too facing him and began picking at the dirt with his fingers.
"We're not- you know," Harry said, "-death eaters or anything. We're not criminals. But they're looking for me because I'm not where I'm supposed to be. No one but us knows where I'm at."
"What's your name? I haven't heard about any missing wizards."
"I'm not supposed to tell you."
"Well I have to call you something. And what are you doing here in the woods anyway?"
"We live in a tent. We move a lot." Harry shrugged.
"Hm. They can't find you, that makes you a lost boy, doesn't it?"
"I guess." He certainly felt lost with the recent revelations about Remus' plans for him.
"Then I'll call you that. My name's Draco, and I am going to Hogwarts. I'm going to be in Slytherin."
"Voldemort came out of that house," Harry said warily. So did Professor Snape, a voice in the back of his head said quietly, and he's not so bad, even if he had been a Death Eater for two years.
Draco looked surprised that Harry had said the name but recovered quickly. "So? Big deal. A lot of my family has gone to Slytherin. Sometimes we end up in Ravenclaw but I know I'll be Slytherin."
"My parents were in Gryffindor."
"That's ok Lost Boy."
Harry gave him a look and then said, "Watch out for Professor McGonagall. My dad dueled her a couple months ago. She's not very nice."
"That's why I'm gonna be in Slytherin. Uncle Sev is the head of house."
"Severus Snape. He teaches Potions. He's not my actual uncle. He's not even my godfather. But we're third cousins twice removed or some nonsense like that. Sometimes he comes to my house to talk to father and he's always nice to me. Father says he'll watch my back when I'm at school."
Harry wanted to say that he knew Severus Snape so he could have something in common with this boy, but held his tongue. That might put them at risk if Draco said anything to anybody. People might figure out that Snape was helping them. Instead Harry felt lame as he said, "You ever read Peter Pan? I finished it a few months ago." The name Lost Boy had reminded him of the story.
"That's where I got the name for you! It's one of my favorites! I took father's broom once so I could pretend to be Peter Pan. I flew around the manor and he was so angry I was grounded for weeks!"
Harry gave him a sideways glance and then jumped up. "I don't know about brooms," he dropped his stick and held out his arms like he used to do when he was younger and pretending to be an airplane.
Draco grinned and stood up holding his arms out too. "Follow me to Neverland Lost Boy!" He ran off and Harry chased after him laughing, jumping up onto a log and then diving off of it as if he could really fly. They ran around the woods until Harry forgot about his problems with Remus and Dumbledore and the Weasleys and Hogwarts, and Harry felt good to forget it all.
After the two of them finally collapsed and lay on the dirt on their backs staring up at the tree canopy for several minutes, Draco asked, "Who's looking for you? Who are you running from?"
The world, Harry thought, but instead he said, "Captain Hook."
Draco sighed. "If I go home, are you going to disappear to Neverland? If you do I might not see you again."
Harry turned his head to stare at his new friend and realized he was right. If he never went to Hogwarts he'd never see Draco again.
"You're Peter Pan," he said. "If I disappear you'll find me." Harry stood up, realizing he'd been away for a couple of hours and Remus might come looking for him if he stayed any longer. Draco sat up and watched as Harry started walking away. Harry turned though and gave him a grin, "Besides. Neverland doesn't sound that bad, does it?" Draco didn't get up to follow him as Harry walked back towards camp. Back towards Remus and the reality that Remus didn't want him. Remus, Dumbledore, Uncle Vernon, Hook. All the same.
Remus stood up when Harry walked back into camp. "You left before I could put the barrier up."
"We're on wizard property," Harry said flatly, not looking at Remus at all. "We have to move anyway."
"How do you know? If I'd put the barrier up they might have detected it with their own property wards."
Harry shrugged and went into the tent to get his backpack. When he came back out, Remus shrunk the tent and chairs and picked them up and then looked awkward for a moment like he was uncomfortable before he gently took hold of Harry's wrist and apparated them away. When they re-appeared they were on a wide windswept ledge high up over a wide valley.
"Where?" Harry asked as Remus let go of his wrist.
"Not that far," Remus said quietly. On a mountain above where we were." He pointed to a grouping of trees and fields. "Outgate is down there. Almost too far to see but not quite."
Harry didn't say anything. He just stared in the distance to where Remus had pointed. To where Draco was probably still in the trees or maybe walking home, wherever that was. He sat down on the ledge and continued to just look from his perch high up as the wind roughly blew through his hair.
When he didn't respond Remus sat down next to him. Harry figured he must have set up the tent and wards already by this time. "Harry, I'm sorry."
Harry didn't respond and Remus sighed. "I'm only human," he said. "Even with my best intentions, I'm going to dissapoint you. It's not exactly fair of you to hold me to such a high standard that I can never live up to it."
"You promised me Remus," Harry said. "You promised me. It wasn't something I made up or asked you to do."
"I promised to protect you. That means taking measures to ensure you're protected even after I'm gone."
"Yeah, well that's not what I heard."
Harry turned away so his shoulder was to Remus and there was a long pause before Remus asked quietly, "What did you hear?"
"You said you'd never harm me."
"I did say that."
"But you have your hidden agendas just like Dumbledore. You have things you expect of me and I don't even get a choice in the matter."
"I don't expect anything-"
"Yes you do," Harry snapped. "You expect me to just give you up and go live with some other family because you don't want to deal with me anymore. You promised not to hurt me. That means not giving me up Remus. But you've been planning on giving me up from the start."
"I never had the intention of sending you to the Weasleys when I first took you. I didn't even know we could trust them until recently."
"You took me when you knew this couldn't last. That's not fair to me Remus. You told me on day one you were gonna get caught. And when you got caught, you planned on just giving me up. You said no matter what. You said that Remus! I should have known better than to listen to promises."
Harry got up to walk away and realized he didn't have anywhere to go but inside the tent, so he went in and laid on his cot with his back to the tent flap. It was after dark by the time Remus came in and Harry heard him sit on his own cot. Harry didn't know why he expected Remus to say something when he came in. He wanted him to say something to make it all better. He wanted Remus to tell him he was wrong, but the words never came. Eventually Remus laid down on his own cot, and they laid there in silence until Harry fell asleep, feeling like the lost boy Draco said he was.
Long after the sound of Harry's steady breathing filled the space, Remus lay staring at the dark canvas ceiling as the wind made the tent walls flutter. Harry was right. He had promised him to look after him and not to hurt him. Remus had never thought Harry would attach himself so firmly to him though. Earlier that day when Arthur had brought Ron to see Harry again and deliver his news, he'd mentioned that Ron had been calling Remus, 'Harry's dad,' for several weeks. He had always thought he'd be caught. Harry was right about that too. It wasn't fair to let him get attached and then just let him go if he got caught. Knowing the way the Dursley's were, he had a feeling Harry just wanted someone to fight for him, just the once. Remus wished not for the first time that Harry could have just known his parents. Lily had fought to her death for him, and so had James. Harry didn't know them though, and he didn't know that. He only knew that Remus had come out of the blue one day to take him away, and now he had tried to make arrangements to separate himself. Remus fell asleep late that night feeling more foolish than he ever had, and also more alone, despite that Harry was sleeping in the cot across the room.
* * *
"It was Wesely Ward."
Remus turned the name over and over in his mind like a stone being washed down a river. He couldn't place it although it sounded familiar.
"He was in Hufflepuff a year behind us," Severus said before downing the last of his coffee by the campfire. Harry was across the campfire sitting on the stool and pretending to read, though he wasn't fooling anybody.
"That's right. Little Wesely," Remus nodded as he remembered.
"He works in the Child Affairs department. When Arthur and Molly told him they wanted to start a petition to get custody of Harry he filed all the papework and sent it along to the court. He also sent a copy to Dumbledore since he is Harry's guardian outside of the Muggle world. I doubt he realized he was notifying the one person Arthur and Molly didn't want him to."
"Why does he have guardianship over me?" Harry asked, looking up from his book. Remus had explained to him once that since Harry had been orphaned in the wizarding world but had gone to live with a Muggle family that a guardian had been appointed over him in the magical community to oversee his bank funds and schooling. "How did it end up to be him?"
Remus cleared his throat. "Sirius had guardianship over you because it was in James and Lily's will. When he went to Azkaban the Headmaster petitioned for guardianship on the grounds that you needed someone who wasn't in prison to help you make desisions and navigate our world. Since he was already the Headmaster at Hogwarts it made sense to the courts and they gave him custody."
Harry stared into the fire. It didn't seem fair, did it? He had just been handed off over and over. He was just a baby then and didn't really have a choice, but he was almost eleven now.
"If you'll excuse me," Remus said, standing up, "I have to reinforce the wards. I'll be back shortly." He walked away into the trees leaving Harry and Severus alone in the darkness, the only light and noise coming from the crackling flames of the fire.
They sat in silence for a few minutes before Severus commented, "You have been unusually quiet."
Harry looked up and shrugged. He set his book down and stood to get the coffee pot to re-fill Severus' cup and then poured himself some coffee, which surprised the Potion's Master. When Harry sat back down, a thought occured to him and he asked, "Do you know Draco Malfoy?"
Severus looked up. "I do. How is it that you know of him?"
"We tried to set up camp at the edge of his property. I left camp before Remus had the wards up 'cause I was mad at him and I ran into Draco."
"What did you talk to Draco about?"
"I didn't tell him anything important. He asked when I was going to Hogwarts and I said never. He wanted to know if I was going to the school for fae instead and I explained that I just couldn't go to Hogwarts because I was on the run. I didn't tell him my name or anything. He mentioned you and that you were cousins or something."
"He said he's going to be in Slytherin. What house d'you think I'd be in?"
"That's where Ron figures on ending up. What other kids do you know?"
"Why do you ask?"
Harry shrugged. "Well I only know a couple of kids, and Ron will be going to school soon so I won't get much chance to see him, and I can't anyway now that his family is being watched, can I? And I'll probably never see Draco again."
"It does not sound like you spent enough time with him to wish to see him again."
"We played Peter Pan. He was Peter. It was nice to have someone to have fun with. Even if it was just for a little while."
Severus wanted to ask if Harry had thought about going to Hogwarts, but didn't. He knew the boy must have thought about it, especially after speaking to other children who were on their way there at the end of the summer.
Remus returned from checking the wards and brought an armful of firewood with him. Harry handed him the full cup of coffee Severus had assumed the boy had poured for himself, and they fell into silence again. Severus had been coming every day for the last few days to talk to Remus about plans and Remus had made sure Harry was present for all discussions. Now that Hogwarts was out for the summer Snape had explained that Dumbledore expected him to be out looking for Harry and Remus as often as possible. He had even paid him extra for hotel room and board during his travels.
Severus broke the silence first. "I believe we should consider sending Harry to Hogwarts."
Remus looked up. "I would love to send him and I'm sure he'd love to go. The question is how?"
"I could just go," Harry said. "Then we could figure out a way for you to get me at the end of the term before I have to go back to the Dursleys."
"What about holidays?" Remus asked. "He'll insist you go back at every opportunity and Hogwarts observes two weeks for Christmas and one for Easter. It might be possible for me to snag you once... maybe even twice. But beyond that and he'll have figured out magic to keep you out of my reach."
They looked over at Severus.
"-we could convince him that it is more beneficial for Harry to stay at Hogwarts than to return during breaks."
"The million Galleon question is how."
"If we believe his reasons for keeping Harry with his family are to help him win a future battle, then it would be reasonable to assume that he would be willing to let him stay if he were staying to receive extra training to win that future battle."
Remus nodded slowly. "Dueling skills, learning about advanced healing potions, advanced defensive spells... don't get me wrong Severus, you'd make an excellent teacher, but wouldn't he insist that Harry just receive extra tutoring throughout the year and still send him home on breaks?"
Harry stood up, feeling a little excited about the prospect of going to Hogwarts, but also anxious about what leaving Remus meant. "Draco has special tutors doesn't he? What if there were tutors who came in just on breaks to teach me? Aurors or something? Remus you said there was money in my vault, right? I could pay for them. It wouldn't make sense to pay them over and over to come out during the term to teach me for just an hour here or there after classes. It'd be better to have them out for a week at a time."
Remus looked over at Harry. "Draco who?"
"Malfoy," Severus said. "Harry spent time with him when you landed on wizard property."
"Ah. That explains how he knew."
"I didn't tell him anything," Harry said.
"No," Remus agreed. He knew Harry wouldn't tell anyone.
"I want to go to Hogwarts," Harry said after long moments of silence. "But I don't want to go if Remus isn't there."
"That would be impossible," Remus said sadly.
"You thought about teaching before. Isn't there some way you could pretend to be someone else?"
"Polyjuice," Severus said. "And there is a defense position open as there is every year. However, nine people have already applied."
"Please Remus? It'd be a good job wouldn't it?" Harry pleaded. "And I could still see you all the time. Couldn't you just go apply and if you got it then we could make a decision about me going?"
Remus and Severus looked at each other and Remus stood up to pace. He seemed to be feeling anxious too.
"We need to think about this more carefully first. Even if I do get the position, and Severus can somehow convince Dumbledore to let you stay over Christmas and Easter holidays, that still leaves the summer. He won't let you stay over the summer. And there's no guarantee that once you're at Hogwarts that the Headmaster can be convinced of anything."
"If we got there and Christmas rolled around and he planned on sending me back, then we could just leave and not come back." Harry said hopefully. Remus watched him carefully. Harry hadn't been speaking to him much in the last couple of weeks and it felt strange to hear him talk so much now. He seemed so excited.
"Severus?" Remus asked, hoping for his opinion.
"The chances of getting caught will be higher if he goes to Hogwarts. However, I believe I can convince the Headmaster. I can also brew the Polyjuice. I have just enough stock to get you through an interview. We will have to find someone qualified for you to imitate however and you will have to learn that person's personality and live by it in the public eye. For the first several months you and Harry would have to have limited contact during the term or else suspicions may arise."
"Harry will be busy with new friends and classes anyway," Remus said, giving Harry and his eager face another look.
"You will also have to lower the wards long enough for a Hogwarts owl to deliver his letter. The Headmaster sends new owls out every day but his letter is always returned. There is also the question of his supplies. I believe he has been to see Olivander. If you go for supplies too early Harry may be returned to the Dursleys until the start of school."
"We could go the day before," Harry said.
"I have also heard of plans to have Shacklebolt at the train station. I believe the Headmaster hopes you will show up so he can apprehend you there," he said to Remus.
Remus sighed. "Perhaps we should focus on one thing at a time. Let's just work out the interview part first and see where things go from there. After that we can figure out school supplies, money for the supplies, and how to get Harry to school."
"I vote smuggling me in in Draco's trunk," Harry said, but when the two men only looked at him he raised his hands. "What? It was a joke."
After Severus had left and Harry and Remus were in the tent, Harry stopped in the middle of pulling his shoes and socks off. "Remus?"
"This'd all be easier if you bit me."
Remus gave Harry a hard look, but Harry pressed on. "Draco said there's a school for fae. He said they started taking werewolves and vampires recently. If I was like you then you could get a job there and I could go, and we could just forget about Dumbledore."
"Go to bed Harry."
"Ok. Just think about it won't you?"
Remus opened his mouth to chastise him again for wanting to be a werewolf, but Harry had already rolled over in his bed and pulled the sleeping bag right up over his head to deny him the chance.
"Severus said Ollivander's is being watched, so we'll have to apparate directly inside. I don't gather Ollivander will appreciate that but it's our only option."
Harry tied his new trainers quickly and stood up, giving a last look around their tent. School started today. Ron and Draco would be getting on the train in just a couple hours and making their way to Hogwarts. The plan was to get Harry's school things today when Diagonalley wouldn't be full of last minute school shoppers and then take him directly to Hogwarts. Harry wanted to be sad that he wouldn't get to ride the train, but he wasn't. He was too excited to get a wand and see Ron and Draco again.
Harry packed his trunk (which Severus had brought him) with his new school books and robes (also brought by Severus) and the new socks and underwear Remus had bought him. Severus had spent the extra money Dumbledore had given him all summer on Harry's school things and given Remus the last of it for a wand.
"Got your polyjuice?" Harry asked.
"I have one dose. Severus has stocked the rest in my quarters." Remus packed away several new items of clothing Severus had brought to him so he wouldn't look like a professor wearing all of Remus' old things.
"You're gonna look so sharp Remus," Harry commented.
"So will you when you get a hair cut and some new clothes. Severus said he gave Molly money and she bought you some things and is sending them to school with Ron."
The plan was to make a very brief trip to Olivander's for a wand and then go out into Muggle London to get Harry a haircut and a new backpack. After that Remus would take them both to Hogwarts and then leave Harry at the edge of the lake with some lunch. It would look too suspicious if Harry just showed up with the other first years and Professor Weylan showed up just then as well. Remus would go inside to attend some last minute staff meetings and Harry would get an afternoon to himself. When the train arrived Harry was to go with the other first years.
As Remus shrunk down the tent and their camping gear he asked Harry, "What are you going to say when they start asking you questions?"
"What do you mean?"
"I'm fairly certain that as soon as they spot you they'll pull you aside to ask where we've been."
"Well our trip to America was fun," Harry said.
"But we didn't take a trip to-" he gave Harry a look and then laughed and shook his head.
"It'll be fine Remus," Harry said with a laugh, but when Harry turned away he wasn't so certain. What would he say?
After they ate a hurried breakfast, Remus looked at his watch. "Olivander's shop opens in thirty seconds. If we pop into the back now we might catch him before he opens the door." He took Harry's wrist and they were gone, Harry's stomach churning with anxiety and excitement as they went. When they re-appeared they were in a shop with walls lined floor to ceiling with wand sized boxes. Harry and Remus scanned the room to find it empty, but only for a moment. Olivander came around the corner and said, "My Mr. Potter, cutting it close aren't we? The train leaves in thirty minutes, but then I don't expect you'll be on the train will you?"
Harry looked up at Remus but Remus was busy trying to gauge Olivander's reaction to their presence.
"I've been expecting you you know."
"We don't want any trouble," Remus said quietly, eyes following Olivander as he moved around the shop.
"Oh, it's a little late for that, isn't it? I heard about your duel with Minerva. How is your wand Remus?"
"It's fine," he said cautiously, "thank you."
Olivander turned to look at Harry. Harry expected the mans eyes to search out his scar like others but he didn't. "And you've been using his wand haven't you?"
"Cypress and unicorn hair, 10 and a quarter inches. No, I don't think unicorn hair is for you Mr. Potter. Perhaps dragon string." He went to a wall with mahogony boxes and pulled one out. "Try this one. Holly and Dragonstring, 9 inches." Harry took it but before he could do anything Olivander had it out of his hand and back in it's box. "No not that one." He handed Harry another from a different Mahogony box but took that from Harry as well. They went through several more before Olivander moved on to white boxes and began putting wands in and out of Harry's hand. "Not unicorn hair either? Curious Mr. Potter. Very curious." He went to the opposite wall and scanned several red boxes. There weren't very many of them. Finally he pulled one out of the very bottom. "I wonder if it's possible Mr. Potter. Try this one."
"If what's possible sir?" Harry asked as he opened the box and picked up the wand. The shop began to glow in an orange light and a few sparks shot out of the end of his wand. Harry looked at Remus who gave a nod and Harry said the levitation charm and aimed it at Olivander's chair. The chair shot up off the ground and rocketed to the ceiling where it promptly smashed and fell to bits all over the floor and counter.
"11 inches, Holly and Phoenix feather. Phoenix wands are rare Mr. Potter. Very few have them as Phoenixes only allow a select few to take their feathers. Usually a phoenix will only allow two or three to be used for wand making. The phoenix who gave up a feather for your wand only gave one other feather, and it's owner used that wand to give you that scar." He finally looked up to the fringe of Harry's hair.
"Voldemort," Harry said quietly. Olivander nodded. "And perhaps you'd like to know, the phoenix who gave the feather lives at Hogwarts. It's the Headmaster's familiar."
Harry set the wand down. "Can I have a different one please?"
"Oh no. No no, I'm afraid that won't due to let your wand hear you talking like that. The wand chooses the wizard Mr. Potter, and this wand has chosen you. Phoneix feather wands are the hardest to win over you see, and if you keep thinking like that your wand may abandon you."
"I didn't know," Harry said, "I'm sorry."
Olivander handed the box to Harry and Remus dug out the coins from his pocket to pay him.
"You're used to using a unicorn wand. Those wands are very loyal to their owners. If you've been forcing your magic through it then you're going to have to learn to adjust the power you put into your casting. Your phoenix wand won't fight you like Mr. Lupin's unicorn wand." He indicated the smashed chair and Harry's face turned red.
"I can pay you back for the chair," Harry said. "I just need to get into my vault."
"Not something I would recommend if you plan on continuing on your way without incident today," Mr. Olivander said. "Repay me by not turning the core of your wand dark like it's brother wand."
Remus reached out and took Harry's wrist, thanked Olivander for allowing them to buy a wand, and then apparated Harry away to an alley in Muggle London.
"I'm surprised he let us leave," Remus said, sounding relieved. "Put your wand in the wand holster up your sleeve."
"Your wand has the underage trace on it. You won't be able to use it until after the feast tonight and only on Hogwart's grounds until you're 17."
Remus took Harry to a barber who cut Harry's hair fairly short but in a stylish fashion, and then Remus surprised Harry with a trip to a clothing store. "You'll have to look a bit more presentable on your first day. I know Molly has clothes for you but I've got just enough to get you lunch and an outfit."
"I already have jeans," Harry said. Remus had made him wash his clothes in a creek last night before bed and they were clean enough.
"I was thinking more along the lines of slacks and a buttom up shirt to wear under your robes. You can change into them and your robes when you hear the train coming, that way they don't get dirty while you wait.
Remus helped him pick out a pair of black slacks and a dark blue button up shirt with a collar. With that chore done he apparated Harry to Hogsmeade on the edge of the Forbidden Forest. "The platform is there through the trees, do you see it?" Harry nodded. "When the train comes you can drag your trunk to the platform and it'll be taken up to the school. Don't go any further into the Forbidden Forest than this Harry, and stay out of sight until the train comes. You have your wand in case anything comes out of the forest and tries to bother you but try not to use it."
"I'll be fine Remus," Harry said. "I'm going to read through some of my books."
Remus looked as though he didn't want to leave him there alone, but he had no other choice. "It'll be about eight hours until the train comes." He handed Harry his lunch and then Harry watched with fasination as Remus pulled out the phial of Polyjuice and drank the entire thing down. "This gives me 12 hours. It should get me through the rest of the day until I can get back to my quarters."
"Your voice sounds different. I'll have to get used to it."
"So will I. It sounds strange in my ears."
"Good luck Remus," Harry said, and he gave him a hug before walking off through the trees towards the castle.
Harry ate his lunch and then pulled out his new transfiguration book. It was one of the things he hadn't learned at all yet and he wanted to learn what he could before classes tomorrow. He wanted to prove to the teachers that he was smart and show them all the things Remus had taught him.
* * *
"Firs' years! Firs' years this way!" Harry dragged his trunk out of the trees and set it on the platform next to several others and then moved towards the booming voice, trying to catch sight of Ron or Draco in the throng of students, many of whom towered over him.
"Firs' years!" Harry pushed his way through a group of teenagers and then came out into a group of kids his size. He spotted an orange head and came up next to Ron.
"I wasn't sure if you were coming or not," Ron said, looking around as if he expected Dumbledore to pop out of the trees.
"I got my wand this morning," Harry said.
"We got some clothes for you. They're in my trunk."
"Where's your dad?"
Harry looked around, and then said, "Tell you later."
"I'm Hagrid," came the booming voice from above them. "I'll be taken yeh all up to teh castle by boat." Hagrid lead them through the forest right past where Harry had just been sitting on his trunk an hour before, and down a path that lead to the edge of a lake. On the other side they could see a towering castle with lights shining out of it's many windows.
Harry and Ron climbed into a boat by themselves and a moment later the boat began to rock as someone else climbed in. Harry turned to find Draco. "I thought you weren't coming to school Lost Boy," he said with a grin.
"Lost Boy?" Ron said.
"This is Draco Malfoy," Harry said. "I met him while I was traveling. Draco, this is Ron. He's been helping me."
"Weasley?" Draco asked.
Ron nodded and Draco shrugged. "And do I finally get to know your name?" Draco asked, but his eyes had already flickered up to Harry's scar.
"Mum and dad didn't believe me that there was a boy in the forest. They said I had too much free time and set me to more studying with the tutor."
"Sorry," Harry said. The boat jerked suddenly and the small fleet lurched forward and began heading across the lake towards the castle.
"Are you and your dad still on the run?"
"Sorta. It kinda ends tonight."
"They don't know he's coming to the castle," Ron said. "My dad reckons there's going to be a commotion about it."
"Like aurors?" Draco asked.
"No," Harry said. "The Headmaster has been after us and McGonagall too."
"And Snape," Ron said, giving Harry a pointed look. Then Harry remembered that no one else but Ron knew that Severus had been helping them.
"Professor Snape? How come you didn't say anything when I mentioned him?" Draco asked.
"Well, I wasn't even supposed to be talking to you," Harry said.
They were almost at the base of the cliffs under the castle now. "What house are you going to be in?" Ron asked Draco.
"Gryffindor, but my mum promised me a broom if I got into Ravenclaw. None of us have been in Ravenclaw before and she said I could prove how smart I am by going there."
Harry thought about it. "My dad says I'll probably be in Gryffindor."
"I don't want to go to Ravenclaw," Ron said. "My brothers are in Gryffindor. They're gonna pick on me if I end up in Ravenclaw."
Their boat bumped into someone else's boat on the right and then into another on the left before moving right up to a dock and stopping. Harry and the others began to climb out. Hagrid told them to start up the stairs and said that a Professor would be meeting them at the top.
"I got a wand," Harry told Ron excitedly.
"Me too. I wasn't going to get a new one but mum scraped up the money somewhere. It's unicorn and ash."
"Mine's unicorn and hawthorne," Draco said.
"I got a phoenix and Holly."
"Hey, that's rare," a boy from somewhere behind them said. "My dad has a phoenix wand and he said he was the only one in his house to have one when he went to school."
"My brother has one," said a girl as they made their way up the damp staircase. "He's in Hufflepuff."
"Ollivander only had a few in his shop when I went to get my wand," said a boy who introduced himself as Neville. "My gran insisted I try them all because my parents both had phoenix feather wands, but I ended up with Dragonstring."
They made it to the top of the stairs and had to stop because there was a door. It was dark despite the torches that were lit and cramped because of the number of people. Harry couldn't help but feeling like he was back in his cupboard under the stairs and wished that Remus was there then. Ron and Draco began talking about Quidditch but Harry didn't know much about the game aside from that it existed, so Harry began listening to the other conversations going on around them as they waited. Several girls somewhere behind him were talking about love potions and many were talking about what houses their family members had traditionally been in.
"I can't wait to learn to levitate things," a boy said and Ron said, "Harry can levitate things. His dad lets him use his wand all the time."
"No way," the boy said. "You can already do magic?"
"Some," Harry mumbled, wishing Ron hadn't singled him out. He didn't want the attention and wasn't looking forward to the attention he was going to get as soon as the staff spotted him. The door opened at that moment to reveal Professor McGonagall and Harry shrank back behind Ron and Draco as light spilled into the stairwell. Ron and Draco instinctively closed the gap in front of him. McGonagall's eyes scanned the student's faces but when she didn't spot who she was looking for her face fell.
"Welcome to Hogwarts. The sorting will begin shortly. Please form two lines and follow me." She smiled at them just as Harry peeked out from around Ron, and then turned around and lead them out of the stairwell and across what Harry could only assume was the Entrance Hall because of the large wooden front doors. From there they entered the Great Hall which was already filled with students and staff. Harry forgot to hide behind Ron and Draco and stood up straight and tall, eyes glued to the ceiling like many of his peers. He wasn't aware that several sets of eyes had already searched him out and were watching him as he stood in front of the teacher's table with the other first years waiting to be sorted.
Severus leaned in so that only Professor Weylan could hear and said, "He cleans up nice."
"It's amazing what a haircut and new clothing will do," Remus said very quietly.
"I barely recognized him."
Remus let his eyes follow Harry. He noted that he was already with Ron and Draco. It was good that he already had friends. He had felt bad for a long time that friends were not something he could provide in their predicament.
Professor McGonagall brought in the Sorting Hat and set it on the stool. It sang it's customary start of term song and then silenced, waiting for McGonagall to call the first name. "Abbott, Hanna." A girl walked up and was sorted into Hufflepuff in short order. The line grew shorter as the students were sorted. Draco went into Slytherin as was expected, and before they knew it, McGonagall had hesitantly called out, "Potter, Harry."
Harry noted that the hall had gone silent, and also that no one was looking at him. Even McGonagall seemed to be holding her breath. Had no one seen his scar yet? His hair was so short that he just assumed they had all seen it by now. He was used to having bangs to cover his face. He stepped forward and Professor McGonagall's eyes widened before a smile came over her face. "Right here Harry," she said, motioning towards the stool. Harry sat and the hat came down over his eyes.
'Ooh, a Phoenix feather wand,' the hat said. 'You're rather proud of that, aren't you Mister Potter. But I sense you're uncertain as well.' He had been thinking about his wand only a few moments ago. 'Yes, I can read your mind. That's what I'm for. But the question is where to put you. You'd do well in Slytherin. You'd have a guardian there to protect you.' Harry hadn't thought of it like that before. It might be easier with Snape close by, and he didn't really fancy having McGonagall in charge of him. Remus had been in Gryffindor though and so had his parents. 'Gryffindor? I could put you there too, but wouldn't it be so much more interesting to be in Slytherin? Don't you and your wand want to prove that you can come out of Slytherin the exact opposite of your wand's brother?' I don't know what I want, Harry thought. I just want to belong and to hurry up and be sorted. 'You're not very ambitious are you? I could put you in Slytherin if you were. I'm rather afraid to put you in Slytherin if you're so uncertain however. There's a lot of influence floating around that house and not all of it good. Better be, "GRYFFINDOR."
Gryffindor started clapping and Harry tried hard not to look at the staff table as he passed. He didn't want his eyes to give away Remus and Severus. He sat down next to Neville and a girl with brown hair that had just been sorted, (was her name Lavendar or Hermione?) and breathed out a sigh of relief. He looked across the hall and gave Draco a thumbs up, which was returned to him. He didn't feel so much like a lost boy anymore when he belonged to a house.
The sorting continued and when Ron was sorted into Gryffindor followed by a boy who went into Slytherin, the sorting was over. Harry did look up at the Head table now as the feast started. At the very center of the table was a man with long gray hair. He was watching Harry with a smile. It must have been Dumbledore. He and McGonagall were talking and Harry noted that he kept leaning over to Snape as well. He wondered what Snape was saying to him. Harry had been warned last night though that Snape would be putting on a show as part of their plan to enable Harry to stay over the holidays. He was supposed to be acting like he didn't like Harry very much in the hopes that the Headmaster would put Snape in charge of him over holidays. If he didn't like Harry then he wouldn't let him 'slack off' with his tutors. Harry wondered how that would be with Snape acting like he didn't like him. Harry used to believe that the man didn't, but he'd continually brought them supplies and even spoken to Harry a time or two about mundane things just to make conversation. And he'd saved Remus. That was what counted most.
"I'm glad we both made it," Ron said. "I didn't decide until last minute for Gryffindor."
"You can always use a school broom," Harry said. "It was going to put me into Slytherin with Draco."
"Really? That would have been something. I would have liked to have seen Dumbledore's face at that announcement."
"Slytherin?" a boy asked. Harry thought his name was Seamus. "Only dark witches and wizards come out of there."
"Not all of them," Harry said. "I'm friends with two Slytherins already."
The boy looked shocked and went back to his meal.
After desert Ron mumbled to Harry, "Here we go," and Harry looked up to the staff table where McGonagall was standing up and making her way down. Prefects were also standing and telling the first years at their tables to follow them.
"I guess I'll see you after," Harry said.
"I'll make sure we get beds next to each other so we can share a desk."
"Mr. Potter." Harry looked up at his name. McGonagall didn't seem angry, but he couldn't get the image of her fighting Remus out on the street out of his head. She was certainly angry then.
"Yes maam?" he asked. He couldn't pretend like he didn't know what this was about, and she seemed to notice.
"Will you please come with me? There's a matter that we need to discuss."
Harry stood and waved goodbye to Ron as Ron and the other Gryffindor first years were lead out of the Great Hall. He and McGonagall stood and waited for the other houses to exit as well. When Draco passed he gave McGonagall a worried look and then flashed a grin at Harry and gave him the thumbs up again. Harry waved at him and then the hall was empty aside from himself and Professor McGonagall.
"Well Harry," she said as she lead him to a door behind the staff table. "How did you like the feast? I bet you've never had foods like that before."
"Oh no," Harry said. "My dad feeds me a lot of good food. He's a good cook."
"Y, your dad?"
"Yeah. Except his porridge. That's not very good. I tried to convince him to put chocolate chips in it but he wouldn't."
She opened the door and waited until Harry went inside. It looked like a teacher's lounge. It had a large table and several cushy chairs around a fire. Severus and Dumbledore were there. Harry wished that Remus was too.
"Good evening Harry," Dumbledore said. Harry made eye contact with him and tried hard not to look at Severus for support.
"Would you please have a seat? We would like to ask you some questions about what you've been up to recently."
"Up to?" Harry asked as he sat down. The other professor's sat as well. "I got a new wand this morning, and a hair cut."
Dumbledore smiled and Harry couldn't help but notice that the man's eyes seemed delighted in what he'd said. He wondered why.
"We were concerned, you see," Dumbledore said. "A little over a year ago you disappeared from your relatives house. For a long time your Hogwarts letter couldn't reach you. We wondered if you would come to school at all."
"It would have been nice if I could have gotten to my vault to buy school supplies," Harry said, "but since you were out to get us, it wasn't an option. I might have wanted to come more if that wasn't a factor."
McGonagall looked surprised but if Dumbledore was, he didn't let on.
"I hope you can understand Harry that we were all only worried about your safety. It's not normal for a boy to disappear for over a year." Harry wanted to snap at him that it wasn't normal for a boy to live in a cupboard under the stairs, but kept his mouth closed. If Remus hadn't been able to sway him than neither would Harry.
"What is it you want to ask me then," Harry said, feeling irritated and wanting to join his new housemates in Gryffindor. He was eager to see what it looked like and where he'd be sleeping.
"Where have you been?" McGonagall asked gently.
"Traveling with Remus."
"Everywhere. All over. Britain, Scotland, Ireland."
"Where did you stay?"
"Wouldn't you rather know where I stayed before I went with Remus?" Harry asked. McGonagall looked perplexed but Dumbledore promptly changed the subject.
"What did you do when you were with Remus?"
"I learned mostly. He had first year school books for me and a list of spells he wanted me to learn."
"You used his wand?" Severus asked, and Harry noted that his tone was off... he seemed snide almost.
"And what kinds of spells did you learn Harry?"
Harry pulled out his wand and aimed it at Snape. The man raised his brow and Harry lowered his wand to the footstool in front of him. He concentrated hard on not trying to force his power through the wand like with Remus' and just let it flow, and levitated it. It did shoot up towards the ceiling, but it didn't crash or break into pieces. He lowered it gently to the floor. "Just standard spells." Harry looked around the room and tried to feel what magic was there. "And spell detection. There's something hidden on top of the mantle."
"The points book," Dumbledore said with a smile. "It tracks all points that are awarded or lost in a year by each student. It remains concealed until a staff says the password. Students have been known to try to sneak in to see it in the past."
"What did you eat?" McGonagall asked. "Who did you interact with."
Harry looked at her. "I told you what we ate. And we interacted with you. You duelled my dad in the winter."
"You were there?" she asked.
"I saw the whole thing." He stood up, still angry about the incident. He wanted to pace or to leave the room, but he didn't know where to go or how to get to Gryffindor tower.
"Harry, please have a seat," the Headmaster asked. Harry didn't sit. He decided to take his chances in the castle. Maybe he'd run into Remus. He was sure the man was worried by now.
"Sit!" Snape snapped, and Harry's head snapped over to him. He frowned and sat back in his chair.
"Come now Severus," Dumbledore said quietly. Harry wondered if Severus was genuinely angry at him or if it was all part of the act he was supposed to be putting on.
"I believe Professor McGonagall was asking if you had any friends."
"Of course I did," Harry said. At a glare from Snape Harry started to feel nervous again and continued talking. He supposed that Dumbledore already knew about the Weasleys so it would be ok to tell him about Ron. "After we faced down Ron's mum in Warton's Cross I got to spend some time with him. And I met Draco on accident one day and we played."
"Anyone else Harry?" Dumbledore asked, and he shook his head. If he thought Harry was going to give up Snape he was wrong. Harry wasn't that easily fooled.
"And how did you get your wand this morning? Tell us about that."
"We apparated into Ollivander's and he let me try wands until we found one that worked."
"And how did you get to Hogwarts? You weren't on the train."
"My dad dropped me off a few minutes before the train pulled in to the station. Then I came up to the castle with the other first years."
The three professors exchanged glances. "Harry, you do know that Remus Lupin is not your father," McGonagall said.
"Well who else have I got as one?" Harry asked sharpely, irritated again. "Mine's dead. I think it's not asking too much to have someone to take care of me, is it?"
"But your relatives-"
Dumbledore interrupted her as he clasped his hands together and stood up. "Harry, we would like Madam Pomfrey to look you over before bed. I assure you it will be quick so that you can re-join your house mates."
When Harry didn't stand up or say anything, Severus stood up and pointed at the door and Harry finally stood and followed directions. Dumbledore and Snape stayed behind in the teacher's chamber and McGonagall lead him up through the castle to the Hospital Wing.
"I am sorry that I had to duel... your father on Warton's Cross," she said carefully part way up through the castle.
"Are you? I don't have anyone. You know that don't you? And you tried to kill the one person I do have."
"Harry, I would- I would never try to kill Remus Lupin. We were once friends."
"Why did you stop being his friend?"
"He kidnapped you."
"He rescued me."
They stopped walking and she gave Harry a look of pity.
"You think I'm brainwashed or something," Harry said. "That he tricked me. Told me lies to get me to go with him. That would all be easy wouldn't it? Well it's not that easy."
"We couldn't understand why he would want to take you," she said.
"Because the Dursley's weren't nice. Because I was tired of living in the cupboard under the stairs and doing all of their cooking and cleaning for them, and never having any friends."
"The cupboard under the stairs?"
"If you would have asked Remus instead of just attacking him, you would have known that. The day he took me away I was covered in bruises. He asked me if I wanted to live a better life and I said I did. He didn't take me, I chose to go with him. I'm never going back to Privet Drive."
"Harry, I didn't know. Perhaps if he'd brought this to our attention we could have taken the steps necessary to remove you."
"Yeah, that would have happened," Harry snarked. "The next time you see him ask him what steps he went through to 'remove' me."
"I don't believe I will ever get the chance to see him again."
"You will," he said with certainty as they made the door to the Hospital Wing. McGonagall pushed it open and Harry went inside. Madam Pomfrey came over, a look of surprise on her face.
"There's an injury already? Didn't the children just go to their dorms an hour ago?"
"He's not injured Poppy," McGonagall said, and Harry noted that she sounded sad and flustered at the same time. "The Headmaster wants you to check him over."
"He wants to see if I'm a werewolf," Harry said, and Poppy looked at his scar and then frowned.
"Surely not Mr. Potter," she said. She motioned to the closest bed and Harry sat down.
"If I were I wouldn't be here, I'd be at that school for the fey. That's where I wanted to go."
"You'd miss out on Hogwarts?" Poppy asked as she waved her wand around him.
"It'd be better there."
She looked at McGonagall who kept her mouth shut tightly, lips in a firm line. "I'm all done. I'll send the report to the Headmaster. And he's not a werewolf," she stated, more for Harry's benefit than to actually inform McGonagall, "though how or why you would be Mr. Potter is beyond me at the moment."
Harry got up and followed McGonagall out. Back in the quiet corridor Harry said, "My dad said you thought he'd eaten me."
"It was a thought that had crossed my mind."
"I wouldn't have tasted very good," Harry said.
"Why is that?"
Harry looked up at her as they walked. She hadn't yet been mean to him, and he was starting to feel bad with how much he'd snarked at her. He supposed it was his nerves and all the upset that had bubbled back up to the surface from the day he thought he'd lost Remus after the duel. "I have kind of a sour attitude."
She looked down at him as they walked.
"He'd want me to apologize to you for being rude."
"He's not angry at you. He's just sad becuase you didn't trust him. I was angry because I thought you were gonna kill him."
She lead him to a short dead end corridor with a picture of a very wide lady and then stopped and looked down at Harry. "Harry, I am very sorry for what's gone on between us. I didn't know how you thought of him or that you saw him as the only person able to take care of you. I would never take anyone from you."
"Just listen to him the next time you see him," Harry insisted. She was quiet for a moment, and then gave him a nod.
"Cauldron cakes," she said. Harry gave her an odd look, but then the portrait swung forward from the wall, startling him, and revealed a short corridor with a low ceiling and a large room on the other side.
"The boys dormitories are on the left," she said. "Follow the stairs until you see the door that says first years."
"Thank you." He climbed inside and the portrait closed. There were still twenty Gryffindors in the common room, but he didn't see Ron or any of the other first years.
"Over there," a boy with orange hair said, and Harry wondered if it was one of Ron's brothers. He went to the staircase the boy was pointing at and went up to the third landing and into the first year boy's dorms. Ron was inside and so were the others.
"Where'd you go?" Seamus asked.
Harry shrugged. "They wanted to know about my wand." It was the only thing he could think to say, and he wondered if Ron had said anything that would contradict.
"I saved you a bed," he said, and pointed to the bed next to his. It was the last one on the end closest to the door, and Harry was pleased that there was a window over a desk across from his bed. "You and I share a wardrobe and the desk. I put all my stuff on the left."
Harry opened his trunk and began to pull out his robes and other items as the other boys were doing. Ron came over with an armful of new clothes and set them on Harry's bed.
"Thanks." The clothes looked nice. There were several pairs of jeans and five or six t-shirts in different colors. There was also a winter hat, a t-shirt, and a dark blue zip up hoodie with a large circular logo on the front with a falcon.
"I didn't know what team you'd like but I saw you wearing blue and figured you might like the Falmouth Falcons. There's a t-shirt too."
Harry grinned. "They're great."
"I like the Cannons," Ron said.
"So do I," said one of the boys as he came over to them. "I'm Dean Thomas by the way."
"I'm from a Muggle family but after we got my letter my parents got me tickets to a Cannon's game and took me."
"Gran said she'd disown me if I didn't root for the Harpies," Nevile piped in.
Harry listened to the other boys talk for almost an hour as he put his things in the wardrobe and desk. He liked all of them. They were nice and they seemed to like him. He couldn't wait to tell Remus in the morning, though he wondered how he would manage that since he wasn't supposed to know Professor Weylan. Maybe he could tell Snape and he could tell Remus. But, Harry thought as he fell asleep, I'm not supposed to know Snape either. He'd have to figure something out.
They had charms first. Harry was excited because the first spell in the charms book was levitation and he'd practiced that morning on his pillow to be sure he wouldn't send it rocketing to the ceiling.
Professor Flitwick was tiny, but Remus had told Harry that he was a powerful wizard, so Harry listened intently as Flitwick showed them the correct wand movements for Wingardium Leviosa. When they were told to practice, Harry sent his feather into the air with ease and earned three points for Gryffindor for being the first to get it and to get it so quickly.
"What about my stool Mr. Potter? Would you like to try on that since the feather was so easy?"
"Yes sir." Feeling confident Harry aimed his new wand at the stool and sent it into the air, but was horrified when it smashed into the ceiling. Shards of wood rained down over Flitwick's head and the class burst into laughter.
"Oh dear Mr. Potter. That much power isn't needed for such a small item."
"I'm sorry," Harry said, cheeks turning red.
"There's no need to be sorry. It's your first charm."
"Nuh uh," a boy from Hufflepuff said from behind Harry. "Last night Harry said his dad let him do all sorts of magic at home."
Harry's face turned even more red as Professor Flitwick looked back over at him.
"Is this true Mr. Potter?"
"Try again." He waved his wand and a pillow appeared in front of Harry at his desk. Harry said the incantation and the pillow rocketed to the ceiling before falling and hitting the floor. He'd done it this morning, why was he having such trouble with it now?
"See me after class Mr. Potter."
The class laughed again with the exception of Ron.
"It can't be detention," Ron said, but Harry wasn't sure why he'd been asked to stay after.
By the end of class only Harry and a few others had managed the charm, but Flitwick seemed happy as the class filtered out of the room. Ron lingered by the door as Harry waited to see what Flitwick wanted from him.
"What kind of wand were you using before?" he asked.
"I see. And you had to pour a lot of your power into the unicorn wand to get it to work, didn't you?"
"Yes. It always fought back. Mr. Olivander said I should watch how much power I put into this one."
"He was right. You're used to forcing power through an uncooperative wand that doesn't want to do magic for you. The wand you have now is new and still trying to get to know you. It's willing to perform whatever you ask of it. When you try to force a lot of power out through it, the spells come out overpowered and we end up with furniture smashing into the ceiling."
"I tried to tone it down. I didn't mean to smash your stool."
Flitwick turned to the shattered remnants of the wood and said, "Reparo," and the stool came back together like it had never been broken. "There's no harm done Mr. Potter, but I would be wary of what you'd do to a person in a duel if your spells were overpowered. For the next few days I want you to spend time practicing toning down any spells you already know. It will help your wand get to know you and by the end of the week I'll wager that things will even out."
"Ok sir, thanks."
Harry went to the door and left with Ron.
"See, not detention," Ron said. "Fred and George are always complaining about detention with Snape or Filch. They weren't happy when someone kept coming to the house this summer."
"I know, I know," Ron said.
"At least I earned points," Harry said, trying to find something positive about his first class.
"There is that."
Harry was dismayed to find that Transfiguration wasn't going much better for him than Charms however. Remus hadn't taught him any transfiguration, but Harry had read through the first few chapters and practiced the wand movements. He was hoping to be able to show McGonagall something but all he showed her and the rest of the class was an exploding frog.
"Mr. Potter, what happened?" McGonagall said in surprise as she came over to his desk.
"I-" he looked over at Ron who was covered in frog guts next to him and then to two girls in front of him who looked ready to cry at the mess all over the back of their hair. Kids were laughing at him again.
"I just did the incantation," Harry said. "To take the warts off the frog."
"Perhaps we'd better get you a new frog."
"No!" he shouted.
Kids started laughing again and Harry's face turned redder.
"No, I mean, maybe I could work on something else?" She brought him a pincushion with buttons and instructed him to change the color of the buttons, but Harry didn't put any effort into it. He pretended to be trying but never said the incantation. The frog was bad enough and he didn't want to destroy the pincushion as well.
"Geez Potter," a Ravenclaw said as they left the Transfiguration room at the end of class. "She didn't ask you to make frog stew."
Ron grumbled something unfriendly at the Ravenclaw but Harry let the comment pass.
"It's Potions next. No wand work in there, right?" Ron said, trying to cheer him up.
"I wish you hadn't told people that I already knew magic. Now they all think I was lying."
"But I'm the one that told them."
"Doesn't matter," Harry said, wishing silently that he had Remus' wand back so he could do something right today.
Harry really wished that Potions would have gone better for him than it did. Snape snapped at him several times over nothing at all and by the end of class Harry was feeling on edge. His potion had turned out all right, but most of the Slytherins thought he was a dunce at Potions and had giggled whenever Snape had told him how bad he was at the subject. Draco looked uncertain at the way Snape was treating Harry but tried to give Harry a thumbs up at the end of class anyway. Harry practically threw his things into his bag at the end of class, wanting to escape to lunch where he couldn't possibly explode anything or mess anything up, but Snape stopped him until everyone else had left, including Ron.
"Your potion turned out well," he commented.
"Didn't seem like it," Harry said dully.
"Do not mistake my sharp tone as dislike. This is necessary for the Headmaster's benefit, as we have already discussed."
"Professor Weylan inquired about you after breakfast this morning."
"I exploded a footstool in charms and I murdered a frog in Transfiguration. Everyone is laughing at me."
"I see. And this makes you less of a wizard how?"
"Ron told everyone I already knew how to do magic. Now they think I'm a liar and really bad at magic."
"You... Moony," he said the nickname with an air of distaste, "and I know the truth."
He sent him on his way to lunch and Harry found Ron and Draco waiting for him at the end of the hall.
"You really exploded a frog Lost Boy?" Draco asked. Ron must have told him.
"All over Hermione Granger's hair," Ron said with a laugh. "It was epic. She's such a know it all. You should have heard her on the train."
"So did you do it on purpose?" Draco asked Harry.
"Of course not. I'm not used to this wand. I'm used to my dad's."
"My schedule says we have Defense together after lunch. Do you know any good defensive spells?"
"Jelly Legs," Harry said, "and stupefy. But Professor Flitwick practically said I'd kill someone on accident in a duel so I hope I don't get called on." Harry and Ron shared a look, knowing that Remus being the teacher would probably call on Harry. He'd already been embarrassed enough for one day and just wanted the day to be over. The boys separated in the Great Hall so Draco could go to Slytherin table and Harry and Ron sat down next to Dean, Seamus, and Neville. Hermione was there too and her hair was clean. Harry wondered if she'd gone to take a quick shower while he was talking with Snape.
"Did you lose points?" Seamus asked. "When you stayed after with Snape?"
"No. Just got a lecture," Harry said dully, making something up off the top of his head.
"A third year told me if we get more points than any other house that we'll win the house cup and the end of term feast will have foods that all the Gryffindors vote on, and the hall will be decorated in red and gold."
"The hourglass in the Entrance Hall says we have 17 points. I counted them before I came to lunch," Dean said.
"I won't lose any," Harry promised, and hoped he could keep that promise.
Ron and Harry waited for Draco when they were done with lunch and then walked to Defense Against the Dark Arts together. Luckily they weren't practicing any spells today and Remus- Professor Weylan was only discussing dangerous creatures that they could encounter in the castle or in the Forbidden Forest.
"The Headmaster wanted me to remind you all that the Forbidden Forest is off limits. The West Woods on the other side of school grounds are available for you to explore with adult supervision before third year and on your own from third year up."
"What's in the West Woods Professor?" a Slytherin girl asked.
"Sometimes pixies and Unicorns have been seen, but aside from that the wildlife is generally mundane. You should get to explore the woods in Herbology throughout the year. Professor Sprout generally takes students in to gather magical flora for study."
Harry was thankful that the class ended without incident. He had to keep reminding himself that this man was Remus. He could see it in the way he moved and hear it in the way he pronounced his words, but other than that he was different. Professor Weylan was several inches taller than Remus and had more muscle to him. He had short dark brown hair that was styled very nearly in the same way as Harry's. He looked to be about twenty five, and Harry had to admit that with his new clothes he looked sharp. Remus gave him a look at the end of class but didn't invite him to stay, and Harry left with Ron and Draco.
The rest of the day passed without incident. They'd talked about safety rules in Herbology and Harry nearly fell asleep in History of Magic. He hoped the rest of the week would go better than today.
* * *
Harry had exploded several more items in classes and had gotten into a fight with Draco during flying lessons over Neville's Remembrall. This had led to Harry being put on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, but Harry worried that it had been at the expense of his friendship with Draco. First and second years from other houses had been taunting Harry about all the things he'd destroyed over the course of the week and showed no signs of letting up. Harry was more than irritated and wished more and more that he'd gotten the bite so he could have just gone to the school for fey. He was certain things would have been better for him there.
"Hey Potter! Nice wandwork in Transfiguration! My little sister says you exploded another frog today! Word is McGonagall won't let you work on anything living now."
Harry's face turned red as the third year Ravenclaw ran past him in the halls, laughing all the way.
"You said you could do magic," the Ravenclaw's friend said. "Who woulda thought Harry Potter was a liar?"
"I'm not a liar!" Harry shouted, and the two Ravenclaw's stopped. He wished Ron were there. Ron said his brothers had taught him some defensive spells the other day. Harry only knew a few. He wished he knew Expelliarmus because that would show them that he could do magic.
"Oh yeah? It's pretty obvious you've never done any before this week, or else there wouldn't be frog guts all over your hair."
Harry reached up to his hair and was dismayed to find something organic drying there. The third years laughed again and Harry's face turned red, this time from anger instead of embarrassment. He pulled out his wand.
"Ooh, watch out Callum, you could end up being guts too."
"Nah," the taller boy said. "He wants to duel. That right Potter? Want to prove me wrong?" He dropped his bag on the floor.
"I wouldn't if I were you," came a voice from behind Harry, and he turned to see Draco there, leaning against the wall looking nonchalant but with his wand out all the same. Harry wondered if Draco was talking to him but then realized he was talking to the boys. He was surprised Draco was sticking up for him at all after they had fought the other day about the Remembrall in class.
"What? I'm gonna be scared of a first year?"
"His wand is overpowered, that's why he keeps exploding things. He did get rid of You-Know-Who. If you want to fight him go ahead, but don't say I didn't warn you."
The boy scoffed and raised his wand to throw a hex at Harry. Harry panicked. The only spell he could think of was Expelliarmus. He forced all his power down through his wand like he was used to doing and shouted the incantation. There was an explosion of noise and the boy went flying forty feet down the hall and hit the stone floor with a thud. His wand was lying on the floor somewhere behind Harry. Harry's face paled and he turned to Draco who looked shocked. The boy's friend ran to him and Harry squinted to see if he could see the Ravenclaw's chest rise and fall, but he was too far away.
"We were only joking!" the boy shouted. "You didn't have ta try an' kill him!" The boy ran off before Harry could say anything and Draco began tugging on Harry's robes to get him to move.
"Come on. We gotta get out of here before a Professor comes."
"No, he looks like he's really hurt." Harry walked slowly over to the boy. He was breathing but he wasn't moving and there was a little blood on the side of his head. It was only a minute before they heard hurried footsteps and the boy came running back around the corner with a professor. It was Professor Weylan. He gave Harry an uncertain look and then fell to his knees on the floor by the injured Ravenclaw. "Go to Professor Snape," Weylan told Harry and Draco, and then he lifted the Ravenclaw and hurried past Harry towards the Hospital Wing.
"I'm dead," Harry said. "They're going to kick me out and snap my wand."
"He provoked you. I didn't think you knew Expelliarmus! I thought you'd hex him with jelly legs or bat bogeys or something."
Harry let his feet carry him slowly down to the Dungeons. It was after dinner and he was sure Snape would probably be in his office.
"This way," Draco said, leading him down a side corridor near one of the Potions rooms. He lead him to a door and then knocked. "It's ok, I'll tell him what happened."
"Why?" Harry asked. "I thought you were mad at me."
"Well- Pansy pointed out that I was kind of a jerk. She doesn't like you by the way, so if she said I was being a jerk to you it must have been true."
The door opened to reveal Severus. When he saw Harry and the forlorn look on his face he reached out of the office and pulled Harry inside by the robes.
"What is going on?" he asked.
"Uncle Sev," Draco started right away, "these third year Ravenclaws were provoking Harry. They kept calling him a liar and then invited him to a duel. He did expelliarmus and one of them ended up hurt pretty bad. I didn't think that spell could throw someone that far."
Severus looked alarmed. "Is he already being seen to by a professor?"
"Professor Weylan took him to the Hospital Wing and told us to come to you."
"And your part in this?" he asked Draco with a frown. He didn't seem very happy.
Harry spoke up then. "Draco didn't have anything to do with it. He came around the corner as it was happening. It was my fault. They didn't really invite me to a duel. I just sorta got mad and pulled my wand out. He said we would duel and I cast Expelliarmus."
"I see." He turned around and went to sit behind his desk. "Draco, return to the common room."
"Yes sir." He gave Harry a sorry look and then left him there in the office, closing the door on the way out.
"How badly was he hurt?"
"He wasn't moving but he was breathing. There was blood on his head."
"And how far did he fly?"
Harry shrugged, still not looking up at Snape. "I dunno. All the way down the defense hallway."
Severus sighed. "Foolish boy. You will end up getting someone killed. I know for a fact that Professor Flitwick warned you about this earlier in the week."
"How do you-"
"We have staff meetings Potter! Once a week!"
Harry closed his mouth and vowed not to open it again that night. He could feel his stomach churning. He hoped he hadn't killed the boy.
"So far you have gotten into a fight in class with Draco, disobeyed class rules and almost gotten yourself killed in the process pulling a silly stunt on a broom, broken rules by duelling in the halls, and seriously injured another student."
"I'm sorry!" Harry shouted, breaking his vow to stay silent as hot tears spilled out of his eyes. "I shouldn't have come here! I just wanted to show them that Remus had taught me and now I messed it all up!"
Severus gave Harry a look as if he was being overdramatic and then told him to sit down in the visitor's chair, which he did.
"You have done the opposite," he said more quietly, pulling out a tissue and handing it to the distraught first year. "To those who don't know you, you are proving yourself to be hot headed. Do not think I didn't hear the way you were talking to Professor McGonagall the night of the feast. If you continue to go around snapping at Professors and getting into fights, you will make the Headmaster think that Remus has taught you to be this way."
"I don't want that," Harry said. "I really did try to be good, I swear. And I apologized to Professor McGonagall about the way I talked to her before I went to bed that night."
"You will be given a detention for dueling in the halls and another for injuring a student when you had been warned by a professor before about dueling before you are able to control your magic. Since it is Remus who found you it is he who can deal with you."
"He sent me down here," Harry said quietly. He didn't want detention but silently thought that he deserved a lot more than two.
"Foolish," he said to himself. "If he thinks he can get out of parenting duty by sending you to me for detention he's sorely mistaken."
"You are to go to the cleaning closet across the hall and get a mop and bucket. You will be mopping the Entrance Hall."
"In front of everybody sir?"
"You're famous Potter. You will have to learn to deal with what others think of you and it would be best learned sooner rather than later. After you mop the Entrance Hall you can mop the entire Great Hall. Then you will go to bed. Professor Weylan will take care of your second detention."
Harry opened the office door and went to the broom cupboard across the corridor from Snape's office. He found the mop and bucket and pulled them out. He was surprised that Snape seemed like he was going to follow him up to the Entrance Hall.
"I'll do what you said," Harry told him. He'd been punished and made to do chores before. He didn't need to be babysat.
"I know you will," Severus said, and motioned for Harry to lead the way to the Entrance Hall. Snape used his wand to fill Harry's bucket with soap and water and watched as he started. There were still students lingering. Some were studying on the stairs and others were joking in the entrance to Hufflepuff corridor.
Twenty minutes into his detention, just as he was finishing the Entrance Hall, Professor McGonagall came down the stairs from the second floor.
"Detention?" she asked Severus.
"Yes. He will be doing the Great Hall next. He has a second detention with Weylan."
She sighed and then walked up to Harry. Some of the students had cleared out by now. "I thought you'd like to know that Callum will be fine. He has a concussion and a sprained neck but he'll be back in class tomorrow."
"I'm sorry Professor," Harry said.
"What happened Mr. Potter? I got their side and I always make it a point to get both sides of a story." Harry told her a shortened version of the story he'd told Severus but left out the parts about wanting to impress the teachers on Remus' behalf.
"I don't believe you meant to do him harm, but as Severus has already reminded you, it was your choice to duel when you knew there could be dire consequences. On top of the two detentions I'm assigning you extra class time with a professor until you can get your casting power under control."
"I'll take however many detentions you want to give me Professor," Harry said.
"They're not detentions. I'll ask at the next staff meeting who has time to give you extra help and you'll get notified as soon as a tutoring schedule can be made up."
She left Harry to his work and Harry and Severus moved into the Great Hall, which still had several groups of sixth and seventh years studying in groups at different tables. They lifted their feet whenever Harry came by to mop but otherwise paid him no attention. He thought they would laugh, but they didn't seem to care that he was there at all. When he was done and was back in the dungeons putting the mop and bucket away it was near the first year curfew.
"How come they didn't laugh at me?" Harry asked Severus.
"The students in the Great Hall."
"They have seen students get detention before. It's of no consequence to them."
"But if I'm the 'Great Harry Potter'," he said with sarcasm, "and I was in trouble, I thought they'd care. People have been laughing at me all week."
"Younger students have been laughing at you all week. The older students are generally beyond making fun of people and are too involved in their own schoolwork and happenings to have the time to bully others."
"So they don't care at all," Harry said to himself, working that over in his mind.
"You are young Potter. First, second, and third years are often foolish and wrapped up in the gossip of the school. This week's news will soon be forgotten and they will move on to other subjects of interest."
"Yeah, well I don't want to be that subject anymore."
"It will pass."
Harry closed the broom cupboard and made his way up out of the dungeons, hands in his pockets and eyes glued to the floor. He didn't see Dumbledore watching him as he passed on the second floor.
When he made it back to the common room he found himself immediately surrounded by first and second year boys and Ron's twin brothers Fred and George.
"Harry is it true?"
"Is what true?"
"You used Expelliarmus on a third year Ravenclaw and sent him flying all the way down the defense corridor?"
"Yeah, something like that."
He thought they would be angry or even afraid of him but they seemed pleased.
"Wow Harry! That's a third year spell!"
"I've never seen anyone fly that far from it," said Fred. "They usually only go five or ten feet. How'd you make the spell so powerful Harry?"
He shrugged, not really feeling up to people praising him after he'd just been chewed out over the same incident. He went up to the boy's dorm and Ron followed him.
"We don't have to be in bed early since it's Friday," Ron said.
"Wanna do something?"
Harry shrugged. "I have detention again tomorrow."
"Wow, you got detention?"
"Snape said I had to mop the Entrance Hall and Great Hall."
"That's not too bad. Fred and George had detention with him Tuesday and they said he made them chop up pickled rat brains."
"And I have to do extra tutoring with a professor until I can figure out my casting power."
"That's brilliant," Ron said, but Harry looked at him skeptically. He didn't see how. "You could get extra time with Remus," he said, whispering the name. "What if you get tutoring with him?"
Harry shrugged again. "I'm going to bed." He couldn't get the look on Remus' face out of his mind. The way he'd looked at him in the corridor when he'd found the Ravenclaw on the floor... Harry rolled over and put the pillow over his head. A horrible end to a horrible week.
* * *
There was an owl for Harry the next morning at telling him that he had detention in the Defense room after breakfast. Harry was dreading going to see Remus. He'd never actually punished him before and Harry didn't want to face the look of disappointment on his face again. Harry picked at his food and didn't actually eat anything. He looked up from his plate, not wanting to stare at his food anymore, and found Hermione Granger staring at him.
"What?" he asked quietly, surprised.
She looked down at a book she had open where her plate should have been.
"I'm sorry about your hair the other day," he said. "I didn't mean to get guts everywhere."
She looked back up at him and seemed to be scrutinizing his words to see if there was any truth there or not.
"Did I say something wrong?" He thought maybe he'd said something wrong when she still hadn't answered. He was still getting used to being around kids his own age and feared they all knew just how awkward and strange he felt around them. The only kids he was already comfortable with were Ron and Draco.
"Yeah- well I'll do it again if you want me to."
"Why? Bullies don't apologize."
"Well you are one, aren't you? I thought you were just picking on me at first with the frog guts, but then you sent that third year to the Hospital Wing."
Harry's face turned pale and he looked away. Even though he hadn't eaten anything, he started to feel sick to his stomach. "That was an accident. I'm too stupid to be able to control my magic."
"You don't seem stupid. You know a lot of answers to questions and spells in class before we're assigned to learn about them."
"And I hate bullies," Harry said, ignoring her statement about not being stupid because he was too preoccupied with thinking about all the times people had laughed at him that week.
"You're confusing. I've been trying to make up my mind all week if you're a bully or are really nice, because you stuck up for Neville even when it was your friend who was being mean to him."
Harry caught sight of Professor Weylan leaving the Great Hall and pushed his plate away from him. "I gotta go to detention," Harry said. He stuck his hands in his pockets again and made his way out and into the Entrance Hall. As he made his way up through the castle he wished he could just run away like Draco had told him to the night before. He didn't want to see Remus. Or rather, he didn't want to see Professor Weylan, who was really Remus, but who wasn't at the same time. Harry was still trying to wrap his mind around it. He wanted to hug Remus and apologize for what he'd done, but he really couldn't just go up to this strange Professor and hug him.
He knocked on the door to the Defense office down the hall from the Defense room and it opened a few moments later.
"Come in Mr. Potter," Professor Weylan said, and it confused Harry more. It almost seemed like this was all a dream and he'd made up the entire thing about Lupin rescuing him and posing as Weylan to begin with. He closed the door after Harry came in and Harry watched as he sat down in one of the two visitors chairs instead of in his own chair behind the desk.
"Come here. I want to know what happened."
Harry sat down in the chair facing his but didn't start explaining. He'd explained to Severus and McGonagall but now he couldn't explain to Remus.
He shook his head.
"What's going on cub?"
With his eyes closed and not able to see the man, but able to hear the words and that he spoke them like Remus would have spoken them, Harry could imagine that he was sitting in front of Remus. He suddenly threw himself forward into Remus' arms.
"Hey, hey. What-"
"If you give up on me, I know I deserve it."
"Who said anything about giving up on you?" He ran his fingers through Harry's hair.
"I messed it all up Remus. I showed everyone I had a bad temper and that I can't do magic and I almost killed someone and it's all gonna come back and make you look bad, and I don't want that." He was out of breath after speeding through all of that. Harry didn't let go of him and Remus didn't push him away.
He sighed. "Harry, you're not supposed to be worrying about me. It's the other way around. I'm the one taking care of you, remember?"
"Mmm." He mumbled into Remus' arm.
"Look, sit up." Harry sat up and got back into his own chair. "I don't know what Severus said to you, but you didn't almost kill Callum. Granted, his injuries were serious, but from what he and his friend told me they provoked you. I'm aware that you've been struggling with your wand power and that as a result the others have been making fun of you. I'm sorry I haven't been able to talk to you about it until now."
"Are you sure I can't just have the bite so we can go to that fey school?"
"Harry," he chastised, and Harry frowned.
"Even if you were a werewolf, I'd tell you to stay here and face your problems head on. That's not only being a good Gryffindor but a strong young man."
"Someone told me today that I was a bully."
"Have you been?"
"I don't think so. I think it was a misunderstanding. I made a frog explode all over her hair."
Remus chuckled. "You'll get your wand power figured out Harry. Until then you're going to have to restrain yourself from dueling, and I'd prefer if you wouldn't duel anyhow since it's breaking rules to do so without a professor there with you."
"Yeah, Severus read me the riot act for all the rules I've broken so far."
"Something else we've got to talk about."
"I'm sorry Remus. I'm trying. Really."
"I know you are." They were silent for a moment and then Remus said, "Why don't you tell me about some of the good things that happened this week."
"Well after I fought with Draco he decided to still be my friend. And the boys in Gryffindor thought it was cool that I did Expelliarmus. And I earned a few points this week. And I get to play Quidditch."
"So the week wasn't a total loss, was it?"
"No, I guess not."
They talked for a while longer and then Remus set Harry to writing a letter of apology to Callum for hurting him, (which he was to deliver personally). After that Remus spent an hour working with Harry on his casting power.
"We'll figure out a way to talk without looking suspicious," Remus said. "I do hope it won't be through detentions though."
"I promise it won't be," Harry said. He moved to open the door so he could go to lunch, but stopped and said, "Remus?"
"It's hard to remember that you're Remus when you look like Blaze Weylan."
"I think the same thing every morning when I look at myself in the mirror before going to classes."
"So long as I'm not the only one," Harry said with a grin, and then left for lunch.
In the Great Hall he walked right over to Callum and his friends at Ravenclaw and handed Callum the letter. He seemed wary of Harry.
"Feeling better?" Harry asked awkwardly.
"No thanks to you."
"To be fair, Draco warned you."
"It was just a joke Potter," he said, not opening the letter.
"It's never a joke to try to hurt someone's feelings," Harry said. He looked at the letter and then left him there to go to Gryffindor table. He sat down in the same spot he'd been in at breakfast. Maybe he should have written Hermione an apology letter too since apologizing in person hadn't seemed to be enough. He'd have to think about it more.