Where Is Home by JAWorley
Summary: Remus kidnaps 10 year old Harry when Albus refuses to remove him from the Dursley’s abuse. Severus is sent to find them and bring Potter back and he's not happy about being used like Dumbledore's personal servant. A Snape mentors Harry fic with a lot of Remus, Weasley and Draco involvement. No slash in the story. No relationship between Severus and Remus. Note: Dumbledore isn't evil in this story, but he is not trusted by the main characters involved because of the decisions he’s made.
Categories: Healer Snape, Parental Snape > Biological Father Snape, Teacher Snape > Professor Snape, Parental Snape > Guardian Snape, Parental Snape > Biological Father Snape > Severitus Challenge Main Characters: .Snape and Harry (required), Draco, Remus, Ron
Snape Flavour: Snape is Angry, Canon Snape, Snape Comforts, Snape is Kind, Snape is Mean, Snape is Secretive, Snape is Stern
Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Family, Fantasy, General, Hurt/Comfort
Media Type: None
Tags: Child fic, Incognito!Harry, Incognito!Snape, Injured!Harry, Kidnapped, Kidnapped!Harry, Runaway, Werewolves
Takes Place: 0 - Pre Hogwarts (before Harry is 11), 1st summer before Hogwarts, 1st Year, 2nd summer, 2nd Year, 3rd summer, 3rd Year, 4th summer, 4th Year
Warnings: Abusive Dursleys, Bullying, Neglect, Violence
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 10 Completed: No Word count: 51374 Read: 14300 Published: 27 Jul 2021 Updated: 20 Oct 2021
Old Friends, New Friends by JAWorley
'Remus tried to reassure me again that Snape could be trusted, but I still wasn't certain. I didn't like what Remus had said about him being a flawed person who could make mistakes. That just wasn't possible. He was the one who had come to rescue me. He was my teacher, my friend, my partner in crime since we were fugitives together running from the law. He wasn't my father even though I wanted him to be. I pretended like he was, but he reminded me sometimes that he wasn't. I think he was just afraid to get too close to me. No, I trusted Remus not to make mistakes. It was Snape I didn't trust. He'd been a Death Eater, and he seemed like he was under Dumbledore's thumb if the man had sent him out at the start to secretly look for us. I just wanted Snape to leave us alone and stop visiting so I could stop worrying about him. I never thought I'd be happy to see him, that is until the chilly afternoon that my world tried to come crashing down on me again.'

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."

"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."

"Shh!"

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."

"It's Sunday."

"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."

Harry grunted.

"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.

"Do I?"

"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."

"Hm."

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.

"Yes."

"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.

"Something secretive."

"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."

"What?"

"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.

To be continued...


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