Remus really didn't know what possessed him to do this. All he knew was that he'd woken up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, his heart beating rapidly as images of forest green eyes floated in his mind. Eyes that were so hauntingly like Lily's and yet belonged to a very happy and chirpy little boy. It was the first time Remus had thought of Harry since the Potters' death all those years ago and he hated himself for it. He'd been selfish, only thinking about what he'd lost and not what was still with him. Knowing that he wasn't going to get any more sleep that night, Remus had thrown the covers aside and began working on how he was going to get to the Dursley's house the next day.
And so there he was, standing on the pavement and standing in front of Number 4 Privet Drive. It seemed a nice house with a tidy garden and gleaming windows sparkling in the sun. The brass door knocker and letter box looked like it had been polished to an inch of its life. It was a very well kept house and looked very respectable. Remus was beginning to feel self-conscious in his shabby looking coat. But he was here now, holding a feeble looking box that contained a few scones he had made as a gift. He was sure they weren't the best, but it was Lily's recipe and so they had to be acceptable in some way. Swallowing hard, Remus took one last glance at himself before stepping forwards onto the drive. As he made his way towards the door, he mumbled to himself the words he had practiced the night before and hoped that it would be enough for Petunia Dursley to let him see Harry.
Reaching the door, he knocked politely and waited. A few moments later, the door opened and Remus took a breath to begin his speech then realised that there was no one there. He furrowed his eyebrows in confusion but then a timid, small voice called up.
"Hello?" it said. Remus looked down in surprise to see a small boy holding onto the door handle and looking up at him. Remus was struck for a moment. This boy looked so much like James from the messy black hair to the crooked nose. Even the glasses he had reminded Remus of the first ones James had at Hogwarts. But not the eyes of course. Lily's eyes. For a minute, Remus thought he was going to cry at the sight of Harry Potter but quickly pulled himself together.
"Oh, hello there," he said, trying to keep his composure and not wanting to scare Harry. "My name is Remus. Remus Lupin. I-well-I came to see your aunt and uncle. Are they in?" Harry shook his head, pointing to the driveway where Remus had only just noticed the car was missing. "Oh, I see," he said, biting his lip. Did the Dursley's really just leave a small child on his own? Surely there must have been a reasonable explanation. Who on earth would leave a seven year old alone in the house? There had to have been some sort of emergency. But even then, surely one of the neighbours would have looked after Harry...?
"Do you have any idea when they might be back?" Remus asked politely, feeling slightly unnerved that he was talking to a child who had opened the door to a house just like that. If it wasn't Remus here, he feared that Harry could have been kidnapped by someone. Harry shook his head once again, his hair falling across his forehead. For the first time, Remus saw his lightning shaped scar that had fallen into legend. He looked at it with sadness, knowing himself exactly what it felt like to be irreversibly scarred for life.
"They went to the playground," Harry said suddenly in quiet voice.
"The playground?" Remus asked, incredulous.
"They take Dudley there," Harry explained, shrinking away slightly. Dudley must have been Harry's cousin. But why had the Dursley's taken their own son to the playground and not their nephew? It seemed cruel and...
Remus took a moment to really look at Harry. He seemed very small for a seven year old and much too skinny. His cheekbones were sharp and prominent like Remus's own. The clothes he wore were far too big and practically drowned his small frame. Remus wondered if they were even Harry's clothes or were just second hand from his cousin. Most disturbingly of all were the ring of purple bruises that circled Harry's upper arms that definitely looked like fingerprints. With a jolt, he realised that the Dursley's really weren't caring for Harry at all. Quite the opposite in fact.
"Harry," Remus said then inwardly cursed as Harry lurched away from him and into the hallway. Of course he was scared. Remus already knew Harry's name but of course Harry didn't know him. A man who already knew your name was a terrifying thing. Remus knew. It had happened to him when he was Harry's age. And just look at the consequences.
"I'm sorry," Remus said desperately, crouching down and holding out his hands. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you. It's just...well, I knew your mum and dad, Harry. So I already knew your name. Please, don't be scared. I promise I won't hurt you." Harry still hid in the shadows but Remus could see his little face looking at him curiously but with fear in every line of his body. Quickly, Remus opened the box he had been carrying and pulled out a scone, holding it out to Harry. "Here," he said. "I made these for you. You must be hungry." The grumble that ensued gave Harry away and he crept forwards again, timidly taking the scone from Remus's hand with a small but polite 'thank you'.
"It's your mum's recipe," Remus said softly. "They're nowhere near as good as hers used to be, but I'm hoping that they'll be alright for you."
"It's good," Harry said kindly, digging in to his scone. Now that he'd got Harry's trust again, Remus pursed his lips together.
"Harry," he said gently. The boy looked up at him with big green eyes. "Harry, I...I need you to be honest with me here. You're not in trouble at all. I just need you to tell me the truth. Can you do that for me?" Harry nodded. "All right, that's a good lad. Now...Harry. Your aunt and uncle...do they...do they hurt you in any way?" Harry looked down then, almost as if he was afraid of looking at Remus.
"Only when I'm bad," he whispered.
"Bad?" Remus asked. "What do you mean, 'bad'?"
"Well..." Harry said quietly. "I'm a freak, they say. That's why all these strange things happen around me. Uncle Vernon says that I have to work and do chores if I don't want to be a freak. But if I don't do my chores quickly enough...well, that's when they punish me. Because I've been bad."
"And what..." Remus could hardly bare to ask the question but he knew he needed to. "What do they do if you've been 'bad', as they say." Harry's eyes went wide.
"Aunt Petunia might not give me dinner," he told Remus. "Or Uncle Vernon might throw something at me or...or lock me in my cupboard for a few days."
"Your cupboard?" Remus asked. He felt almost dazed as he asked these questions.
"The cupboard under the stairs," Harry replied. "It's my bedroom. Uncle Vernon says it's where freaks like me belong." Remus had to swallow back bile that was rising in his throat. He was suddenly thrown back to years before where he and James and Peter had sat Sirius Black down and asked him to explain what his family were doing to him. The worst thing about that was that Sirius didn't even know that his parents hurting him was wrong. Right now, with little Harry Potter standing in front of him and calmly explaining all the things that his aunt and uncle did to him if he was 'bad'...Remus couldn't help but see Sirius even though he knew he shouldn't be thinking about him at all.
Without realising it, Remus's hands began shaking with anger and sadness. This was all his fault. He should have told Dumbledore that he was going to look after Harry. He should have fought for him and not lived in self-pity for all these years.
"I'm so sorry, Harry," he said softly. "I am so sorry that this is happening to you. The Dursley's are horrible, horrible people. They've been hurting you when you haven't done anything wrong at all." Harry looked quizzical.
"But I'm a freak," Harry told him, his voice so firm.
"No," Remus said. "You're not a freak at all. You're just special, like me. The things that you can make happen, the things that you can do that the Dursley's think are bad...they're really not. They're actually really good things. Because you're magic, Harry. Just like me." Harry looked at him in wonder.
"Magic?" he asked. "But Uncle Vernon says there's no such thing as magic."
"That's where he's wrong, Harry," Remus said with a grin, reaching into his pocket and pulling out his wand. He cleared his throat then whispered "lumos". Harry squealed with delight as the tip of Remus's wand lit up with a glowing ball of white light. Remus sent the orb whizzing around Harry's head as the boy tried to catch it in his hands. "And there's a lot more we can do with magic. Once you go to school and train up, of course," Remus said kindly. "But that won't happen until you're eleven." He silently put out the light, smiling slightly as Harry stared at him.
Suddenly, Harry's face became scared as he caught site of something behind Remus. Remus stood up and turned around just as a car came rolling into the driveway, the engine abruptly cutting off. The doors opened and the Dursley's stepped out. A pudgy boy about the same age as Harry came barreling from the back seat, tearing inside the house without even a greeting to Remus and knocking poor Harry over in the process. Harry cried out as his hands and knees scraped on the driveway, drawing blood much to Remus's horror. He reached down and gently pulled Harry to his feet as Petunia and Vernon Dursley walked slammed their car doors, looking thoroughly put off by Remus's presence on their doorstep.
"Boy," Vernon growled down at Harry who grimaced and immediately looked down to his feet. "Who is this?"
"I'm Remus Lupin, Mr Dursley," Remus introduced himself, trying to keep his voice polite but failing massively. "I am- I was a friend of Lily and James Potter. Harry's parents." Both Vernon and Petunia visibly flinched at the names of the Potters and cast each other a look which Remus could only describe as hatred.
"We don't want your kind around here," Vernon spat. "You freaks! You only bring trouble! Look what this one has done to my life already!" He jabbed a fat finger at Harry who whimpered and immediately hid behind Remus's legs. Remus could feel the fury building up inside of him but he tried his best to keep calm and controlled.
"I was only calling to see how Harry was," he said. "But upon my arrival, I found that he had been left all alone for Merlin knows how long because you had taken your own son to the playground and left your nephew behind!" Dursley's mustache twitched with anger and his face was rapidly turning red.
"The boy was bad and had chores to do as punishment!" he hissed. "Naughty children are punished in this house!"
"And yet your son just knocked Harry over with now reprimand," Remus said lowly, glaring at them. Somehow, his wand had slipped into his hand and both Petunia and Vernon suddenly looked fearful.
"Now, look here-" Vernon started but Remus had had enough.
"I want you to explain to me right now why Harry James Potter, a child entrusted to you to care for and love, has just told me he's been hit and starved and locked in a cupboard for days because of your fear of magic." Remus's words were heavy and dark, his magic practically ready to burst from him in anger. Petunia stepped back rapidly but Vernon still wouldn't back down.
"We swore when we took him in that we'd beat all that magic nonsense out of him!" he roared. "We swore that we'd make him normal!"
"Petunia, you know better than anyone that you simply can't beat magic from people," Remus said through his teeth. "Just look at your sister. She tried to stop using her magic for you, and it hurt her greatly."
"I don't want to hear it," Petunia seethed. "Vernon, get him out of here!" Dursley stepped forwards, no doubt to probably shove Remus off the driveway but Remus wasn't having any of it. Not when Harry was trembling behind him obviously scared out of his mind. It suddenly all made sense to him. Lily and James may be gone. Peter may have been murdered. Sirius may have turned to darkness. But he, Remus Lupin, was the one who survived. He was the one who's responsibility it now was to look after the Potter's legacy.
He raised his wand, pointing it straight Dursley's nose. "I'm taking Harry," Remus said carefully. "And you will not do anything to stop me, do you hear? You've already done enough to hurt him."
"Be my guest!" Vernon hissed despite Petunia looking at him, slightly shocked. "We never wanted him anyway, draining our money, our food, our happiness!"
"And that's where you are so wrong," Remus said. He turned slightly to Harry, keeping his wand raised. "Harry, go pack a bag with your things. I'm going to take you home." Harry didn't need to be told twice. He bolted back into the house and into what Remus presumed was the cupboard under the stairs. The tension of the driveway was increasing as the three adults waited for Harry to return. When he finally did, he was carrying a simple drawstring bag with a few items of clothing and not much more.
"We'll be going now," Remus said curtly, reaching down and taking Harry's hand. "It was horrible meeting you." And with that, they walked down the driveway and down the road, Number 4 Privet Drive quickly falling out of sight.