Chapter Two: Harry gets a visitor. Is that really a Dursley welcoming a Werewolf into Number Four Privet Drive?
Chapter 2 - The Muggle and the Wolf
Harry heard his Uncle and cousin leave for the day, and threw the Prophet to the floor in disgust. It landed open to a picture of Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge delivering his latest speech regarding the return of Voldemort. Fudge attempted to appear authoritative as he stood in front of the newly restored fountain at the Ministry. His pudgy fist pounded the flat top of the podium as he vowed to root out Death Eaters in the Wizarding Community. With eyes squinched in a grave threat to Lord "Thingy," he leaned forward toward the camera in a way that sent his jaunty bowler hat askew.
Harry barked out a short laugh. The man couldn't even say Voldemort.
Occasionally a wispy mop of red hair and a pointy elbow clad in a black robe became visible in the left side of the photo. Harry was certain that it was Percy Weasley, just out of sight, kept near to do the Minister's bidding. Although the Ministry had formally acknowledged that Harry and Dumbledore were not full-fledged nutters, Harry was still prone to a deep dislike of both Percy Weasley and Minister Fudge.
The same dislike also extended to The Daily Prophet. The distrust of the Prophet that began in his fourth year continued to exist within Harry. Although he read the wizarding paper every day, he never knew if what he saw within was the truth. While he was glad that there were no attacks over the last month, he couldn't help but wonder what Voldemort was waiting for if there were indeed no attacks. It seemed odd that the Dark Lord was being so quiet after the Ministry acknowledged his return. They had not mentioned the release of the Dementors from Azkaban either. Why was the newspaper deliberately holding back now? Surely, this would sell copies.
In addition, The Daily Prophet hadn't mentioned Sirius at all. The Prophet virtually ignored the death of Sirius. Did anyone outside of the Order and the Voldemort's close circle even know he was dead? There was no way to be sure. When Harry thought about it he could taste the bitterness on the back of his tongue and feel anger rise in a lump from his chest. Sirius should be acknowledged as the hero that he was and Wormtail should be the hunted man.
Harry pushed aside the remains of his cereal and toast crusts and flopped back on his bed, and stared at his ceiling.
To the Wizarding World, who seemed so interested in him after his escape, it was as if Sirius, the man, the notorious criminal, never existed. Sometimes Harry felt as if he might have dreamed of his existence also. He sighed and closed his eyes wishing that he could just fall asleep peacefully until it was time to board the train to return to Hogwarts in a month.
The annoying buzz of the doorbell brought Harry from his thoughts with a jolt. He vaguely he wondered who it was, thinking that it might be Arabella Figg come to fetch him. Doing small tasks for the squib would be welcome relief. He waited for Aunt Petunia's harpy-like screech to fly up the stairs at him. However, this time, her disapproving voice did not make it to Harry's ears. Rather a small, frightened one called to him from the base of the stairs, "Harry, could you please come down here?"
Please? Harry? What's she on about?
Harry reached under his pillow and pulled out his wand. He imagined Lucius Malfoy, fresh from Azkaban with new plans from Voldemort, standing at the bottom of the stairs, holding a wand at his Aunt's heart, forcing her to call up to him. She'd done the one thing that got his attention and told him something was wrong.
She'd been polite to him.
Cautiously, he turned the knob of his door and silence greeted his footsteps as he edged around the corner where the hall met the staircase. He raised his wand and peeked around the corner.
"Harry, it's quite all right. There's no need for wands."
He didn't realize he'd been holding his breath until it came out in a great whoosh. "Professor Lupin! What are you doing here?"
Remus Lupin was dressed in the same Muggle trousers he'd been wearing when he'd met Harry at King's Cross. Instead of the jumper and overcoat, he was wearing a plain tee shirt that was quite scruffy looking. His face was pale and worn; he seemed old, well beyond his thirty some years. A quiet smile spread across his face at the sight of Harry. His old teacher, and father's close friend, answered, "I came to see you, Harry."
Harry bounced down the stairs, his pent up tension flew in great tingles up his spine and out of his body as he relaxed. The relief in finding his former Professor at the bottom of the stairs was so great he nearly missed the murderous look on his Aunt's face.
Lupin welcomed Harry warmly with open arms, and Harry stopped short. It seemed strange to see Lupin in this position. He was unsure if it was because of Lupin's former profession as his teacher, or because Sirius was now dead and he felt it strange to want to accept the hug from Lupin as a replacement for the embrace of his Godfather. It seemed artificial to Harry, and disloyal to Sirius in some way. Lupin was a wonderful person, but he was not a substitute for Sirius.
Instead, Harry opted to extend his hand. The broad smile on Lupin's face fell slightly, but he grasped Harry's hand firmly, and shook it vigorously nonetheless. A guilty feeling that wormed its way into Harry's stomach for a second when he noticed the disappointment, but he pushed the feeling aside. He seemed to be feeling guilty for everything lately.
Aunt Petunia cleared her throat loudly causing both of them to look at her pinched face, which was the colour of a fresh tomato. "My husband may be at work, but I would appreciate it if I were not disturbed by this cozy little reunion, thank you. I've work to do."
Before either of them got the chance to respond to her, she twisted her head, causing the small flaps of skin underneath her chin to flap just a bit and air to push through her nostrils. Aunt Petunia walked rapidly from the room and disappeared around the corner and into her proper living room.
Harry grinned. "Fancy a walk around the block? We may catch Duddykins and his mates beating up one of the local kids."
Lupin gave Harry a lopsided grin and replied with light sarcasm in his voice, "Beating them up? No, surely not Dudley?"
Harry knew the chances of catching Dudley beating up one of the neighborhood kids were slim since he tended to stay fairly far from home, but Dudley had been particularly cruel to Mark Evans over the summer. Mark had apparently been fighting back even though Dudley had regularly been besting him with the help of his piggish mates. Harry would give anything to run across them doing it with a magical adult in tow.
"Having troubles with Vernon and Dudley this summer, Harry?"
"Not really. Mostly, they just ignore me. Dudley leaves in the morning to take tea with his gang and Uncle Vernon goes to work. It's just Aunt Petunia and I in the house during the day. She asked me a few questions, but after I told her about Sirius, she stopped asking."
They were rounding the corner onto Magnolia Crescent and Lupin stopped, leaning against the signpost. "Harry, has anyone talked to your Aunt about what's going on in the Wizarding World? Anyone at all?"
"I don't know. I told her a few things, but I expect she doesn't want to hear much of it."
"Maybe not, Harry, but she needs to hear it."
Harry shuffled his feet a bit as he walked, looking determinedly at his feet as he spoke, "Last summer, after what happened with the Dementors and Dudley, I tried to tell her parts of it. She got scared and tried to throw me out. Then she got the owl from Dumbledore that warned her off and told Uncle Vernon that they had to keep me. I don't know exactly what it means, but it really frightened her, Professor Lupin. I know it has to do with blood magic."
"Professor Dumbledore and please, Harry, call me Remus. I'm not your teacher anymore. I haven't been for many years. Before I was your teacher, I was your father's friend and Sirius' friend; I would rather that you thought of me as that. I really would."
There was a long silence between the two as they passed the alleyway between Magnolia Crescent and Wisteria Walk. Harry shuddered slightly as he remembered the encounter with the Dementors from last year. Several thoughts crashed about in Harry's mind like rogue Bludgers. He felt as strange calling his old teacher by his first name as he did talking to him about the Dursleys. He wanted to talk to his old Professor about Sirius, but didn't want to upset either himself or cause their conversation take an even darker tone. He wanted to ask about the Order and Dumbledore, but didn't trust any adult to tell him the truth about such matters, and reckoned it was a waste of time asking.
Finally, one thought escaped and flew from Harry's mouth before he could bat it back into the recesses of his mind, "She won't let me ask her any questions about my Mum either."
"Would you like me to talk to your Aunt about it, Harry? To see if I can get her to talk to you a bit more?"
"Er, no offense, but, I don't think she likes you much. She hates me, so don't let that get to you."
To his surprise, Remus let out a hearty laugh. "Oh, I suppose she does hate me. Guilt by association. She's a bit like Snape in that matter. They forget so easily that they weren't the only ones who suffered at the hands of others during our school years.
"If I weren't a part of the group with James and Sirius, they would have teased me as badly as they bullied Snape. And Petunia, of course. Your Mum got over it, of course, but Petunia never really grew up. Neither did Snape."
Harry looked up at Remus, confused. Did his Aunt have that much contact with the magical world at one time?
"What?" was all that Harry could say.
"Harry, the Wizarding World wasn't kind to your Aunt. First, it took her protector from her. You know that your Mum stuck up for your Aunt when they were in primary school, don't you? She kept the bullies away from her."
Harry shook his head.
"No, I don't suppose your Aunt would have told you about that either. Petunia was always quite thin. I don't imagine she was much to look at either - not with her teeth and nose. She got her looks from your grandfather. Your Mum looked more like your Grandmother."
Harry never thought much about his Mum's parents. The Dursleys promptly squashed any questions he'd had about them.
"So, I have my Grandmother's eyes?"
Remus nodded and continued, "That you do. I only met them twice when they dropped Lily off at Platform 9 and ¾ before sixth and seventh years. But, Petunia came to visit Hogwarts once during first Year."
Harry stopped walking. His eyes like saucers, he nearly yelled out, "Excuse me?"
Remus chuckled. "The policies about Muggles visiting the castle were a bit more relaxed in those days." Remus paused. "That's one of the complaints that Voldemort built upon then. Everything was a bit more relaxed then; many people didn't like that. He counted on it."
Harry looked at Remus, bewildered. He could clearly see why Voldemort and his followers would have a problem with Muggles being in the Castle. Harry's brow knit in confusion. Why would it be a problem if they knew about the Wizarding World anyway?
Remus seemed to notice his confused look and shook his head. "It's a part of history that you won't get in Professor Binn's class. It has to do with power and control. Something that Fudge has always had a problem with. You saw a bit of it last term, I believe.
"As to Petunia, she stayed one day." He held up his index finger to demonstrate. "And it was only for an hour or two. She was a bit overwhelmed, I'm afraid. She was not greeted warmly by your Dad or by the rest of us. She wasn't as attractive as your Mum and she wasn't a Witch."
Harry felt a wave of pity for his Aunt wash over him, remembering what he'd seen in Snape's Pensieve. She wasn't a witch. That sounded like Snape calling his Mum a Mudblood. Had Sirius and his Father done the same sort of things to his Aunt that they'd done to Snape? Did they taunt her and play cruel jokes on her? Were they the ones to make her so mean? A small bubble of anger grew within the wave. Harry furrowed his brow, looked Remus directly in the eye, and said, "You teased her, didn't you? The same as you did Professor Snape. Now both of them hate me because of what you did."
"I know, Harry. If we'd known what the future held, we wouldn't have done it. We were just kids. Please remember that. We weren't the adults that you know."
The anger turned to rage inside Harry. Snape hated him because of what his Father and his friends had done to him. Aunt Petunia and her family hated him because of what his Father and friends had done to her. His Father, his Mum, his Godfather, all of their friends, the people who were supposed to protect him when he was a child; they'd had him and then they'd all left him. They'd abandoned him to the very people who hated him the most. If that was family, Harry wanted no part of it.
"Stuff it," Harry growled. "You thought it was funny. You and Sirius, you had a laugh about it. I'm just a kid and I don't think it's funny at all."
"No. I don't want to hear any more."
Harry's anger grew inside, feeling quite like a ball of fire, rising up and taking hold of the back of his head, propelling him forward, away from his Father's friend, the last true Marauder, his former teacher, and someone he used to respect a great deal. He knew that if he didn't walk away from Remus that he would probably perform accidental magic and he didn't want that to happen. He felt Remus' eyes follow him.
The result of the cruelty dealt out over the years was nothing but hatred piled on hatred. Generations of nothing but overwhelming hate. He didn't deserve the hate that Snape and Aunt Petunia threw at him. He didn't deserve the hatred that Uncle Vernon heaped upon him. All the years of teasing and beatings he'd endured from Dudley were the direct result of what his Father and his friends had done to Aunt Petunia. Maybe it was his time to do a bit of the hating in return.
Glancing back, Harry noticed that Remus was walking behind him. Forgetting all about looking for Dudley and his walk with Remus, Harry began to run.
Harry slammed the door shut at Four Privet Drive and took the stairs two at a time to his bedroom, where he slammed his bedroom door shut also, wishing for the first time in his life that there was a way to lock it from the inside. Not really knowing why, he looked around the room for some way to block the door. His eyes lit upon the chair at his desk and he wedged it quickly under the knob.
Breathing heavily, Harry sat on the edge of his bed and covered his face with his palms. How much more of this was he expected to take? He just wanted everyone to leave him alone. His family was dead and everyone who was even remotely close to his family behaved in a hateful way towards him or had caused someone else to be hateful to him. Every year it was the same thing; fight for your life and find something unpleasant waiting at the end of your rope.
It was very lonely being the Boy Who Lived.
Not for the first time, Harry thought about Ron and felt a familiar wave of tightness in his chest. He wished that he could be Ron so badly. He had such a normal life. A family who loved him, no Dark Lord out for his life with a kill or be killed prophecy hanging over his head, and, most importantly, Ron was happy. It was something Harry wanted desperately. He just wanted to be happy.
Harry felt a lump rising in his throat when he heard the bell buzz and the soft click of the door from downstairs. He knew it was Remus, but figured that his Aunt would never allow him to come upstairs. Harry laid on his back, staring at the ceiling, willing a jet to fall out of the sky and come crashing down straight through the roof and into his bedroom. When he felt his energy beginning to gather around him, he ceased the pointless exercise and turned over to his stomach, willing Ginny to phone him. Or Ron. Hermione. Loony Luna. Anyone sane.
He wanted to talk to anyone who would call and interrupt this highly unpleasant day. Most of all he wanted to talk to Ginny, who always seemed to understand his need to talk about anything else but family. She always seemed to know when it was time to talk about her family, the family that Harry knew he could always count on as his. This time Harry's will was not enough. The phone was silent. No sounds came from downstairs.
He buried his head in his pillow and willed himself to sleep. That also seemed an absolutely hopeless task.
Minutes ticked by as the silence from downstairs scratched away at his mind. Why had his Aunt let Remus in the house? Were they actually having a conversation? The thought was too bizarre to even contemplate.
Harry's thoughts continued to jump. How could his father and Sirius be the people that made his life such misery? The two people he spent the most time admiring over the past few years were the very people who'd caused the most misery in his life.
Harry heard another inner door open and close. His Aunt's high-pitched voice and Remus' softer male voice drifted with unintelligible tones into Harry's room. Curious, Harry rose and put his ear to the door.
"Well, he's got to be told. I don't think it's wise with Vernon and Dudley being here tomorrow evening. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to deal with this," his Aunt said in her usual clipped tone.
"I'm aware of that, Petunia. Are you certain you don't want me to stay and help out?"
"Quite. It would only make matters worse."
What now? Harry asked himself grimly. Am I going to start to sprout hairs and a snout and turn into a beast on my sixteenth birthday? Why would this not surprise me?
"Shall we?" Harry heard Remus ask.
Harry heard the telltale squeaks on the steps that indicated both Remus and his Aunt were heading up the stairs. He groaned. He didn't want to face either of them and he certainly didn't want to hear what they had to tell him.
"Harry?" It was Remus.
"Go away. I don't want to hear it."
"Harry Potter, you open this door and you open it this instant," Aunt Petunia said firmly.
He heard the door handle rattle as Aunt Petunia attempted to push open the door.
"No. I said go away!"
"Harry Potter, this is my house and you will open this door."
Harry snorted and rolled his eyes. Did she really think that would get him to open the door to hear whatever dreadful piece of information they wanted to tell him? "No."
"Harry, please open the door," Remus said firmly.
"No. I said go away. Now, sod off, the both of you."
Harry heard a sharp intake of breath from his Aunt and knew he would pay dearly for his cheek later, but didn't care. If that was what it took to make them go away, then he would continue to do it.
Aunt Petunia let out her breath as sharply as she had inhaled it. "All right then, if that's the way you want to do this, Potter. Remus, if you would, I think this calls for a bit of magic."
Harry's eyes flew wide. Did he just hear Aunt Petunia give Remus permission to do magic? That was impossible. He heard Remus chuckle and say, "As you wish, Petunia."
Harry leapt to his feet and grabbed for the chair against the door, missing it by a fraction as it flew from its position. Harry fell hard on his stomach, with a great knock to his chin, neatly in front of the door.
"DAMN!" Harry looked up at the open doorway to see both Aunt Petunia and Remus standing there looking down at him.
"Get up, you ungrateful little boy, and watch that cheek. You aren't so big that I can't make you eat a bar of Lifebuoy, you know." Aunt Petunia's face was turning nearly as red as Uncle Vernon's.
On the other hand, Remus looked almost amused. "Rough day, Harry? Do get up. We have something we'd like to tell you. Then I'll be off, and you can sulk all day if you want to."
Harry rose, his chin throbbing dully, crossed his arms in front of his chest, and stood blocking entrance to his room. He glared at them. Much to Harry's annoyance, Remus continued to look amused as he said, "Your friends would like to celebrate your sixteenth birthday with you tomorrow. Although at the moment, I can't imagine why. Would you like to come?"
Harry tried to hide his surprise the best that he could even as joy filled his heart. He'd never had an actual party on his birthday before. He wasn't about to give the two of them a bit of satisfaction. "No."
"You don't want to attend your own 16th birthday party?" Remus asked, his left eyebrow raised and his grin stretching. Harry thought he looked a bit like Peeves just then.
"May I ask why?" Aunt Petunia stood shoulder to shoulder with Remus. This only added to Harry's confusion, which made it more difficult for him to block them out. He wanted answers from them both. He didn't understand how they could be so cordial to each other after what he'd just learned. He was certain that during the long silence downstairs, Aunt Petunia had somehow poisoned Professor Lupin's mind against him. "Why should I want to be where everyone hates me?"
Professor Lupin barked out a laugh and his Aunt let out a long, exasperated sigh. "Oh, for heaven's sake. I simply do not understand this. Why can't you be as easy as Dudley, boy?"
Harry glared at his Aunt. "My name is Harry, and Dudley is a fat hooligan and he lies to you constantly."
Aunt Petunia's face grew hard and her lips became pencil-point sharp as Remus cut through the rapidly growing tension, "Harry, why do you think everyone hates you?"
Harry looked from Remus to Aunt Petunia before pointing at her, "She does. You made her hate me. You made her hate me when you were at school. You just told me that, didn't you."
Aunt Petunia's ice-blue eyes grew hard and shone brightly as she leaned into Harry. For the first time, Harry was nearly certain that his Aunt was a witch and that at any moment she might do magic. He began to feel a little afraid of her.
"No, you silly little boy, Remus didn't make me hate you. If anything, Remus is the only thing about that world that is decent. You just did nothing to make me like you. You strut around here, looking just like your father, all superior, acting as if you're better than my Dudley. Then you get that wand and know that you can do - " Aunt Petunia hesitated before spitting out the word, "Magic.
"That's when I knew you thought that you were better than the rest of us. So arrogant. Just like him. Making fun of the rest of us. It's not because of anything anyone else did. It's because of what you didn't do. It's because you never even once acted as if you were glad to be a part of this family, Harry," she spit his name out as if it were a curse. "It's because you hated us first. Even as a child. You hated us and we all knew it."
"You locked me in a bloody CUPBOARD!" Harry shouted at her.
"Remus had nothing to do with it," said Aunt Petunia, as unshed tears seemed to leak around the corners of her hardened eyes. She nodded to Remus, straightened her shoulders, and walked from the room.
Remus watched her walk from the room. "She's got a lot to think about right now, Harry. You might want to take it easy on her."
Harry scoffed as he flopped on his bed and turned away from Remus. "What for? She's never made it easy on me."
"Because you're better than that, Harry. You have the ability to rise above it. You don't want to be Snape or Petunia. I know you most certainly don't want to be like Dudley. You know in your heart that you can't hate like they do." Remus paused. "I'll probably see you tomorrow afternoon, Harry. I will try to be here among your friends."
When Harry didn't respond, Remus turned and quietly walked out the door, shutting it behind him.
To be continued...
A/N:Thanks to my über-beta Tari. You are simply the best.
Can anyone find the Donnie Darko reference?
This is an Owl Hollow FanFic, so I know that Camilla is most distressed that Remus appears in Harry's bedchamber fully clothed. *hangs head in shame* Carry on.
Sorry this seems to be taking so long. I'm sort of splittng myself between two fandoms. Not good.