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The Questions We Wonder

Chapter Text

He was scratching away with red ink when the door opened to his classroom. He glanced up to see Harry walk in. He went to the second row from the front of the classroom and three sits in. Placing his books softly on the desk he carefully removed his backpack and set it next to his chair. The boy then looked up at him.

 

“Good morning, Professor.” He sat down and pulled out his black-lined book he was constantly writing it.

 

“Morning,” He mumbled back and watched the boy a little longer before he returned to his grading.

 

His thoughts wandered to the boy, as they often did. He was nothing like he expected. He was waiting to see a carbon copy of his father when the boy arrived. Then he walked up to the sorting hat with a small smile and sat quiet and straight. He was respectful and never fidgeted like most kids do when waiting. The process took a while but the real surprise was when the hat called out “RAVENCLAW!”. Harry thanked McGonagall before moving to join his new family. Like Severus, the Gryffindor table starred with disbelief.

 

Harry, Severus thought while dipping his quill, was different than most students here. Despite the sneer he sent him, Harry was never impolite. Whenever he saw any of the professors he greeted them with a soft smile. He was punctual, unlike his father, and even arrived early to his classes. A habit his mother had.

 

He asked questions that Severus never even thought to ask. Such on the first day of potions, “Sir, why don’t they describe in the book different results of a potion? Wouldn’t that help student identify where they made a mistake?” The teacher had to blink a couple of times. He was not expecting a question such as that from him. He quickly answered that it would make the books to thick and heavy to carry around. He watched as the boy looked ready to ask more questions before nodding and turning to his journal.

 

From what he heard he asked questions like this in all his classes. Something that Flitwick appreciated. He asked questions most people didn’t think about.

 

“If you change the material from wood to stone how does it change is dexterity overall? Wouldn’t rearranging the structure cause long-term effects even if it’s reverted?” He heard Minerva’s eyes almost popped out of her head from the question.

 

“How does a star’s death effect magic and the rituals performed under them?” Sinistra was excited to see someone taking her class seriously.

 

“How does range affect a spell? If you are closer is a spell more powerful since the magic has less distance to travel and less interference?” Flitwick told Harry if he wrote an essay on this topic, he would give him extra credit.

Severus had to take a step back a reevaluate his assumptions about the Potter child. Besides the hair color, sharp jaw, and long limbs, James Potter didn’t shine through his son. Unfortunately, besides a few habits, his laugh, his nose and eyes, his mother didn’t either. He was his own person. Something that he felt Albus wasn’t counting on.

 

“Hello Harry,” the soft voice of Susan Bones pulled Severus out of his thoughts. He looked down and noticed a small pool of ink was forming on his desk below where his ink was idly hovering. He cleaned it up with a frown.

 

“Harry,” Hannah said with a smile. She gave his soft hug before continuing, “Did you get a letter from Mom?” Severus frowned at the way she said it.

 

“Yes,” He pulled out a box from his backpack, “Mint brownies. Would you like one?” The girls agreed and grabbed one then sat next to him.

 

“Mom sent me ones with cream cheese in the middle. They’re my favorite.” Snape wrote a score on top of the essay before flipping it into the next pile. He reached out to grab the next paper when he saw a body in front of him. He looked up to see Harry holding a box.

 

“Excuse me, Professor,” He said, “My foster mother sent me mint brownies. Would you like one?” Severus blinked at the boy. He never had a student share sweets with him.

 

“If you wouldn’t mind sharing,” He watched Harry reach into the box with a napkin before passing the little brown square to him. “Thank you,” he murmured after grabbing the treat. Harry then walked back to his seat closing the container and putting it away.

 

As he nibbled on the brownie, which was quite delicious might he add, he thought over what Harry said. He had a foster mother. Which if the way they spoke said anything, was Hannah Abbott’s mother, Delana.

 

Delana was a head matron at St. Mungos in the Child Ward. She was a muggle-born Hufflepuff and two years ahead of Severus when they attended Hogwarts. She was a very friendly and compassionate person. At one point she had offered to help Severus prepare for a Herbology exam. Other than that, they never really spoke. They knew of each other but never spent time together.

 

Though he didn’t know much about her, he knew she didn’t have connections to the Potters. So, why did she have custody of the boy? Why wasn’t he with relatives like Dumbledore had explained to Severus all those years ago?

 

Terry Boot entered the Room with his Friend Ernie and Justin. The two latter waved at Harry before sitting in the back row. Terry sat behind Harry. He ruffled Harry’s short hair, unlike his father’s messy ear length hair, and took a piece of Harry’s brownie when offered.

Soon they classroom filled with students and low chatter. Essays were placed on the corner of the work tables ready to be collected. This was Severus’s fourth class with Harry. The Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs having two smaller classes to their counterparts one long one. He enjoyed teaching this class more for two reasons. One, no one was sabotaging each other. Two, Harry had always interesting questions. He found he wasn’t the only one enjoying the questions the boy asked. Many of the students stared at him whenever the professor asked if anyone had any. Though strangely enough, he would only ask two per class. Whenever he seemed to have more, he would take to his journal.

 

After collecting the essays he started in theory about medical potions. Explaining potions, their side effects, their benefits, and why they couldn’t change the taste without changing the effectiveness. It was nearing the end of the class when the boy’s hand shot up, “Yes, Mr. Potter?”

 

“Why can’t you put the potions in gel capsules as muggles do?  That way you would just swallow the potion without tasting it and the capsule would dissolve in your stomach releasing the potion. They make the material out of gelatin so it has no taste and doesn’t affect the ingredients. Couldn’t you up the potency of the potion to create a smaller amount that could fit into a small capsule?” Severus stopped his pacing and blinked at the boy. Chatter around him started, stating what an amazing idea that was, some were asking what gelatin was. Severus had to agree with them, that was an impressive idea.

 

And he had one equally as impressive. One to get questions answered and learn more about the boy. “Mr. Potter, Meet me after class to discuss your idea.”

Chapter Text

He was writing in his journal again. The corners of the book were bent and the spine was creased in places from the constant use. The bottom of his lip was sucked in between his teeth. He was writing with what looked like a pen instead of the quill he used in his class. His glasses, shaped more in an oversized trapezoid shape compared to his father’s rectangular ones, were skewed as his hand rested against his temple.

 

“Mr. Potter,” The pen stilled and was sat neatly in the crook of the book.

 

“Good afternoon, Professor,” A small smile and a tilt of the head was shown to the dour man. He looked at the book, trying to see what was written in it. The child noticed his gaze and slowly closed the cover, the pen prevented it from closing all the way. “It’s my journal,” the boy explained, “It helps me process everything in my head. Very private,” He pulled the pen out from the book and threw a wandless charm on it. Severus’s eyebrows shot up at the act but didn’t say anything.

 

“I apologize for having to move the meeting till the weekend,” He pulled his own journal out from the desk and sat across from the boy, “Let’s discuss this idea of yours.” He was given a nod.

 

“When I was treated in a muggle hospital they used to give me medicine that was wrapped in a capsule with a gel on the inside. I believe it could be recreated with a substance like gelatin.” Harry pulled out a textbook that had paper pieces sticking out of the edges. When Severus looked closer he noticed they had thin neat writing on them.

 

He had to stop and process what he had said, Harry was treated in a muggle hospital. He decided to question that statement further, “What were you being treated for?”

 

Harry’s hand paused above his book for a moment. He took a deep breath then answered, “There was an accident. It’s okay now.” He tapped his finger against the desk. It was a rhythm, tap, tap, tap, taptap, tap. After the second round of tapping he stopped, “Beside spelling a potion and drinking it, are there other ways to ingest it?”

 

“There are a few that need to be poured into a cut or some rub into the skin.” Harry nodded and reached to his back and pulled out a new journal. This one wasn’t worn and had a velvet blue cover.

 

“I was given medicine one of three ways in the hospital,” He drew in the notebook while he talked. “Capsule, injection, and fluid. I guess an I.V. is technically considered an injection but I’m putting it in a separate category.”

 

“Was it a big accident?” Severus asked nonchalantly. He was glancing at the notebook trying to collect as much information from the child’s words as he could. Once again the boy stilled, his muscles tense before answering, “Yes.”

 

It was silent before Harry spoke again, “I would rather not discuss the nature of my accident. It was a difficult time and I am still working on the aftermath with my therapists.”

 

Therapists, Severus thought while nodding to the boy. He had more questions with too few answered. He was in a muggle hospital, and if he had several medical treatments it must have been a big accident. Whatever happened it apparently had lasting repercussions.

 

For the next hour, they worked through his idea and discussed starting working with calming draughts. He left for his common room with a two page spread his journal of drawings and half-written sentences. He had left the classroom like he always done, a wave and a “Good Day Professor.”

 

He hadn’t gotten much from the boy over the next hour. He found that he was indeed living with the Abbots’. He hadn’t found out why he was with that family but the way he spoke about it, he seemed happy and enjoyed their company. He refused to talk about anything before the accident, which he had found out happened when the boy was nine and a half. When he asked, Harry had sternly told him he would not answer any more questions regarding the matter. It had made Severus’s eyebrow raise in surprise.

 

He noticed one thing when the boy left the room though, he had a limp from his left side. It was slight and you had to look for it, but once he saw it he knew it was there. From then he watched the boy more closely in class.

 

The following Monday showed the boy in his class before everyone else. He was quiet in his usual manner, but he seemed different today. His form hunched slightly in exhaustion and bags hung darkly under his eyes. He paused quite a few times in his writing to stare off blankly in front of him before jerking rapidly and continuing his work. His movements were still precise but they were shaky and slow.

 

Severus watched him from the guise of reading the paper, his eyes staring intently over the edge of the print. He was rubbing his eyes with his fists. A yawn followed his actions before his pen was placed on the book. He rested his head on his right hand and closed his eyes. It only lasted a few minutes before his two friends came into the classroom.

 

“Harry,” It was Hannah who spoke first, “Madam Pomfrey told you that you could spend the day in the infirmary recovering.” Severus was looking down at the newspaper but his eyebrows knitted together. Did the boy get hurt?

 

“We aren’t doing potions today, just theory,” Harry stated, “I’ll be okay. Plus it was small, nothing to worry about.”

 

“Auntie said you can’t rush through recovery,” It was Susan who spoke to Harry next.

 

“I’m not!” Harry sternly told the redhead. “I know my limits.” Susan sat next to Harry, Hannah took his other side. The Hufflepuff's squished him in a hug which put a smile on the boy’s face.

 

Terry sped walked into the classroom and sat behind Harry like usual. He leaned over the desk his elbows propping him up. “You okay?” He asked.

 

“Yeah,” He replied tiredly.

 

“Man, that was scary. I didn’t know what to do. Thank god you had your charms.” Severus had folded the paper and pulled out a black journal from his top drawer while listening to the conversation.

 

“Mom is thinking he needs a service dog,” Hannah stated. It was in a lower voice and Severus nearly missed what she said. “Just in case.”

 

“I think a service dog would be a distraction. I don’t need one. I have my charms.” Harry said defiantly next to her. She huffed and turned to her bag.

 

Severus had started to write in his journal again. He had created a list underneath the boy's name. Quickly he wrote Needs a service dog? He closed the book and slipped it in the desk as the rest of the class walked in. After everyone sat down he turned to the board writing out the topics of the day. Though he said one thing, his mind kept wandering to another.

Chapter Text

He found the boy sitting on a window sill. His legs were pulled up and his robe was draped over him like a blanket. He was talked to someone outside that was below him. He couldn’t see or hear what he was saying but he could see his shoulders shake from laughing. There was a book next to him and his owl was perched on top of his head looking at Severus.

 

A yellow cat was sitting on the stone floor looking up at Harry, its tail was flicking wildly. She was staring at a string that was dangling in his hand. After a moment he moved it rapidly. When she caught he tugged on it until it let go. Once the string was free he started moving it again.

 

“Mr. Potter,” Harry turned towards the professor, there was a smile on his face.

 

“Hello Professor,” His voice was light. The tiredness from the previous day was gone. “It’s such a nice day outside.”

 

“Yes, it is.” He walked over to the boy. The cat stood up and walked away. He saw it turn and walk out to the courtyard. “Why are you not heading to Quidditch practice with your friends?”

 

“I can’t participate in sports,” He reached up and stroked the bird on his head.

 

“Does it have to do with your accident?” The teacher looked out to see his friends walk away. They waved at the boy which Harry returned.

 

“Yes, Sir.” He wrapped his hands around the owl and set her on the windowsill before standing and throwing the robe over his shoulders. He grabbed his bag from the floor and placed it on his shoulder. “I have to go to meet with my therapist.”

 

“I will accompany you.” He addressed as the boy walked past the entrance of the doorway. “What is your therapist like?” Maybe he could get information in a roundabout way.

 

“Oh. She’s very helpful.” He said looking up to his teacher, “I had a lot to deal with when I first started seeing her. We found that the circumstances of my accident were just the beginning. It was through her that we found I need more physical therapy, a nutritionist, and medication.” The turned down a hallway. Minerva was walking towards them, both males said hello to her as she passed.

 

“That’s a lot of services,” Severus murmured. What had happened that required that much help and medical attention?

 

“Yeah,” Harry scratched the top of Mrs. Norris’s head as she trotted by. The cat halted as he did so. There was a small bout of purring before they picked up their walk. “When Mrs. Abbott came and took me in we no longer needed the nutritionist. Plus having someone to talk to me at any time helped. I also enjoy having someone my age who isn’t trying to beat me to a pulp.” Severus’s eyes narrowed but he didn’t comment. “I’m really happy there. I didn’t know you could be so happy. It was weird having people treat me nicely.” Harry then froze. He seemed to realize what he said and looked at his professor.

 

“Did your family not treat you nicely, Mr. Potter?” Severus asked.

 

“My new family treats me perfectly,” He avoided the question. Moving to try and change the subject. He didn’t want to talk about his old family.  “Have a good day. Professor.” And with that he opened the door they stopped in front of and walked through. He heard a woman’s voice welcome him.

 

As he walked back to his office he pondered about the small details that were revealed. His accident had created limitations. It was bad enough that he needed a lot of medical care, and from how he made it sound, not all of it was from this accident. Though what he needed help with from before the accident was undetermined. Possibly the nutritionist.

 

Before he reached the stairs leading to the basement he stopped. Instead of going to his rooms and brewing while milling things over, he turned on the ball of his foot and started to the other end of the castle. If there was anyone he could talk about this inquiry it would be the old cat that he had a great admiration for, not that he would admit.

 

After knocking on her door and walking through, he found her reading over several assignments. She placed the paper down and looked up to him, “Hello Severus.”

 

“Hello,” He took a seat, “Do you know anything about where Potter lived?” Her eyebrows raised in surprise but she made no mention his interest in the boy.

 

“He lives,” She tried to correct the man, “with his mother’s sister and her family. Why?”

 

His body stilled. He lived with Petunia? Who in their right mind thinks to put a magic-wielding being with a magic-hating muggle? “Are you sure?”

 

“Yes, I was with Albus when he was dropped off.” She stacked the papers on the corner of her desk and waved her wand. A teapot and cups came to the desk.

 

“He doesn’t live there. Not anymore.” He grabbed the tea that was poured for him, “He lives with the Abbotts.”

 

That made Minerva pause, “Why would he live there?”

 

“From what I have found out there was an accident. I was wondering if you could ask around with some of your connections and see what you can find out. I would but if it got back to me that I was digging around a muggle neighborhood, it could be bad.” His index finger tapped lightly against the cup, “The boy is very tight-lipped about the ordeal. Based on what I’ve deducted, it was a big accident.”  

 

“Do you have any idea how bad?”

 

“Bad enough that he can’t do sports and he has a variety of therapists.” A thought came to him, “Do you think Albus knows?”

 

“Seeing as he had someone keeping an eye on the boy, I don’t doubt it.” She said through gritted teeth. She took a deep breath, “I’ll send a few letters.”

Chapter Text

The next time Severus found Harry, was once again in the hallway. He was watching a pair of redheaded twins throwing firecracker spells. He was laughing and cheering them on from the sidelines. The twins then started showing the younger years how to cast the spell, how to catch them and throw them back. Soon the hallway was alight with dancing lights and laughter.

 

A Ravenclaw that was a year older than Harry, Brie Lawson, was juggling four different colored lights. Several noticed her talent and started to watch and cheer her on. A Hufflepuff, Cedric Diggory, was rolling them up his arm and across his shoulders. A girl next to him made a comment that Severus couldn’t hear but caused a blush to form on the boy's cheeks. Harry grabbed a passing Slytherin and quickly showed the boy the spell. After the boy turned to look behind him, he saw that it was Draco Malfoy. Harry had convinced the blond to join in the fun, Severus was impressed that the ever-present sneer quickly faded into a smile.

 

Silently awarding the three houses five points for unity, he watched as several students waved goodbye. Harry waved back at Terry and Brie as the wandered away. The twins were in the middle of the group and caught the attention of the younger years. Lighting the tips of their wands the smiled mischievously and brought them together before thrusting them above their heads.

 

There was an explosion of lights. It flashed rapidly and quickly in different colors. Severus was baffled by the marksmanship and applauded their dedication to the creation. Several gasps and shouts were heard but they quickly turned into sounds of wonder and amazement. He would have walked away then if it wasn’t for Susan Bones.

 

“HARRY!” He turned back to the group and saw the students clear away leaving a perfect view of Harry’s convulsion limbs. He was on the floor jerking rapidly against the stones. Hannah quickly rushed to his head and stripped off her cloak. After folding it she stuck it under Harry’s head. Susan had managed to untie the bronze and blue scarf and throw it the side before starting to loosen his buttons around his neck.

 

Severus was at the boy’s side immediately. He grabbed the boy's arms and pinned them against the floor. He was going to put his legs over the boys lower half when Hannah started shouting at him. “DON’T! DON’T HOLD HIM!” She pushed against his grip. He reluctantly let go and listen as she told him to help turn him on his side, “It’ll help him keep his airways clear,” she said as Susan made sure to keep the rest of the students away. Most of the red-headed girl's attention was on a tempus spell, she was watching it intently.

 

“How long?” Severus looked up to see Madam Pomfrey push several children out of her way.

 

“Two and half minutes,” Susan stated.

 

The jerking body below Severus’s grip started to still. His muscles started to relax and a groan could be heard. There was a little bit of blood trickling out of the boy's mouth.

 

“Oh dear,” the healer turned his face towards her and quickly healed his bitten tongue before checking him over.  She cast several spells and then started to levitate the boy towards the infirmary, Susan and Hannah were following the floating body whispering reassurances. Harry looked around dazed with half-lidded eyes. After a moment's hesitation, Severus followed the group.

 

“What happened?” He asked as soon as Harry was resting in a bed. His breathing indicated that he had fallen asleep. Hannah had curled up next to him and was dozing off as well. Susan was tracing circles on his wrist from the seat to his left.

 

“Just a seizure,” The healer told Severus. She had draped a blanket over Hannah. “How about you head back to your dorms. I would say take your friend, Hannah, but you know how that will go.” Susan laughed and patted Harry’s arm before getting up and leaving. She watched the sleeping pair before turning back to the potion master. “He developed epilepsy a few years back from an accident.”

 

“Do you know what happened?” Severus asked. If the boy hadn’t had seizures before perhaps it was a head injury that he had suffered from. He could have also had an infection that left scarring or by some freak accident had a stroke. Or it could have been dormant and the accident triggered the condition. Severus ground his teeth in frustration.

 

“It’s very hush hush,” She said as she made her way to her office, “It was kept under wraps so the press didn’t get.” She sat down in her chair as Severus stood and leaned against the door frame. “All I know if there was trauma to the head. I don’t what kind, I don’t know what it stemmed from. Harry has a personal healer that comes in every week. They help with his physical therapy and take the records I have of each seizure. Normally I wouldn’t allow this, keeping information about his health could be detrimental.” She sighed, “But legally I am in a bind. I am told he has seizures and that I am to monitor his brain after each one.”

 

“Why is it so hush hush?” Severus asked in frustration. “I’ve tried getting answers from the boy but he refuses to speak.” He grabbed the chair across from the woman and sat in it. “Minerva doesn’t know anything, I want to ask Albus but if he doesn’t know I don’t want to bring it to his attention.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“Because from what I learned, he thought it was a good idea to put the boy with a magical hating family.” Severus felt the hair on the back of his neck rise from the glare the healer gave. “Did you know he is living with the Abbotts?”

 

“Yes,” She leaned forward on her desk, “Delana has it set up to visit every other Saturday. You know he calls her Mum?” Severus’s eyebrows raised at that.

 

“Really?”

 

“Yeah. As far as he is concerned the Abbotts are his real family. He calls Hannah his sister. He is very protective of her.” Severus nodded. He had noticed the slight protective behavior he had over the Hufflepuff girls.

 

“I have to go speak with someone,” Severus stood and made his way to the door, “If I find out anything, I’ll pass it along.” With that, he left the infirmary and made his way to Minerva’s office. He knocked on the door opening it to see Minerva talking to a man. He didn’t know who it was, seeing as his back was to him.

 

“Severus, come in.” The man turned to him with Minerva’s words. Staring back at him was his old scar-faced rival. “Remus has agreed to go back to Harry’s old neighborhood and do some digging.”

 

“Have you found out any new information?” Severus asked after shooting a glare to the man.

 

“Not much,” She admitted, “Hopefully Remus will be able to talk to the neighbors and see if they know anything.” She folded her arms, “Have you found anything?”

 

“Yes. The boy suffers from seizures.”

Chapter Text

He wondered if starting in the neighborhood was the best place. He held the address in one hand on a torn piece of parchment and a map in another. Quickly he glanced up and noticed that he was on the right street. Folding the map he shrunk it and stuffed it into his back pocket before walking down the sidewalk. His breath was coming out in short puffs from the cold foggy morning.

 

Stopping in front of Number 3 he hesitated. Should he ask the neighbors or go straight to the source. Tapping his thigh he turned on the ball of his feet before walking up the drive of the house he stopped in front of. He climbed the porch steps before ringing the bell. He heard footsteps before the door was unlocked and a blonde woman opened the door.

 

“HI, Can I help you?” She asked from the half-open door. She was wearing jeans and a blouse with triangles on it. There were bags under her eyes and Remus could hear music from a kids toy in the background.

 

“Oh, I’m terribly sorry,” He faked embarrassment, “I’m looking for the Dursleys, I thought this was their house.”

 

“Oh,” She reached down and grabbed a little girl who had toddled up to her mother, “Didn’t you hear?” She placed the little brunette on her hip. The girl looked at Remus and stuck her hand out and waved at him. Smiling he returned the gesture.

 

“I’m sorry, I have been out of the country for some time,” He rubbed the back of his neck, “Did something happen?”

 

“I’ll say!” She exclaimed, “It was the talk of the town.” She opened the door wider, “I usually don’t do this but it’s cold, why don’t you come in. Mind you if you do anything I will taze you.” He furrowed his brows but stepped and watched as she shut the door behind him. The toddler was placed on the ground and she walked towards the room with music playing. “Marly,” she introduced herself. Remus took her hand and shook it, “Remus.”

 

There was a whistling coming from the kitchen. She motioned to follow her. After stepping over a baby gate he was standing in a small and slightly cluttered kitchen. There was mail on the counter, sippy cups drying on a towel, and a baby doll sitting on the table. She turned grabbed the doll and chucked into the other room, he heard it hit other toys and tried his hardest to not laugh.

 

“Being a single mother is difficult,” She said as she handed him a cup of tea before sitting down. She saw his expression, “She was my best friend’s daughter. She survived the car crash, her parents didn’t.” She looked into the room with the toddler. “Her name is Caylee.”

 

“I’m sure she’s grateful that you took her in, even if she doesn’t know it yet.” She nodded and set her cup down.

 

“What are you looking for the Dursleys for?” She asked.

 

“Their nephew is my best friend’s son. A lot like your situation he lost his parents. But I didn’t get the chance to take him in. He went with his Aunt.” He felt a pang of sadness that must have shown because she placed her hand on his wrist. “I was never allowed to visit, but I had finally dug his address.”

 

“I don’t know what exactly happened. No one really knows, seeing as he was underage a lot of the information was withheld.” She removed her hand and stirred her tea, “But there was a lot of rescue workers after it happened. I remember that no one was allowed near the boy. They put up a lot of precautions to hide what happened, they were walking around with blankets hiding him. They said it was too gruesome to see.

 

“I remember that my friend was over that night. I had just bought the place a few months prior. And we were watching from the porch. Strangely enough at one point, I heard something strange, no idea what it was but it happened before the boy was put in the ambulance.

 

“The Uncle, now that was what the talk was about. We all knew it was him that did it to the boy. Don’t know what he did but we knew it was him. He went crazy. He was screaming about how the devil was in the boy and he had to get rid of it. Mind you, we heard this clear as day while he was in his house.  At one point he rushed out the house trying to get to him. Police were trying to restrain him and he ended up stabbing one. The man died later in the hospital it was terrible.”

 

Remus was not expecting to find out that his friend’s son lived with a mad man. He was supposed to be safe. He was told he was cared for and loved. Why couldn’t he try harder to get him custody? Why couldn’t he have visited?

 

“Hey, It’s not your fault. It’s that sodd-” Suddenly they were cut off as the little girl wandered into the kitchen. She held a doll up to Remus to take. He held the plastic toy with curly hair and smiled at the girl. She then walked back to the living room.

 

Relaxing more into the chair he smiled at her, “Could you tell me anything else about the Dursleys?” And she did. She said that in the four months that she had lived there, all she ever heard the boy being called were insults. She said she called the police several times after hearing screaming coming through the walls, but nothing was ever done after their visits. She told him how the boy always looked sickly and thin. How he would sway on his feet after standing. How he never spoke to anyone. How he never played with any kids. She said she stopped the neighbor kids picking on the boy only for an overly large boy to kick her. His parents weren’t happy when she showed up at their door with his ear in her grasp and a murderous look.

 

She explained that when the boy’s family would leave she would sneak snacks over the fence to the boy when he was left out. She said when no one was looking she would tell him about the latest movie she watched. She told him about her classes. She told him about anything. He never responded or said anything back but she would always get a smile.

 

“I hope wherever he is, he’s happy.” She took the doll from Remus as he stood up.

 

“I hope so too.” He said as he went back to the front door and pulled his coat on.

 

“They can’t hurt him anymore.” She said as she walked towards the door. “From what was in the news they are in prison, at least the husband. I think the wife is in an institution.”

 

“That’s comforting,” He waved goodbye to the girl in the room, she was surrounded by blocks, balls, and dolls. When he made it to the end of the drive he watched an owl with a package dive down to the kitchen window. It hopped in after the window was slid open. 

 

“Huh,” Remus thought as he made his way to Arabella’s house. The question rang through his head, bouncing from one side of his brain to the other, what happened? 

 

Chapter Text

Severus did not know there was a step when he walked out of the fireplace. He stumbled forward and on an attempt to catch himself he threw his hand out and steady himself. He happened to catch Remus’s shoulder, this caused Remus to stumble himself and dump hot tea on himself. Remus cussed loudly as the liquid scorched his skin. Arabella not seeing this had heard his loud exclamation. She swatted him on the head with a rolled magazine for his foul mouth, causing him to spill more tea on himself.

After he cleaned up the mess and Minerva had walked through Remus looked up with narrowed eyes, “I enjoy drink tea, not wearing it.”

 

“It was not intentional,” Severus said as he took a cup from Arabella and sat on the armchair next to the fireplace. He took a sip and looked up at Remus, “Learn anything?”

 

“Yes. He was attacked by his Uncle. He suffered from severe injuries, I don’t know what they are though.” Remus picked up a cat and dumped him on the floor before sitting, “He was abused from what Marly has said.”

 

“Oh!” Arabella exclaimed, “You met Marly? She’s such a sweetheart. From what I heard is she’s a specialist from the States.”

 

“What does she specialize in?” Remus asked.

 

“Oh goodness,” She tapped her fingers against her chin, “I can’t quite remember. She works for an organization that helps different types of governments throughout the world.” She reached down and scratched an orange tabby between the ears, “She was always so sweet to Harry. Never really did like the Dursley’s but not many on the block did.”

 

“Why not?” Minerva asked. Her hands were placed neatly on her green robed knees. She looked tired, and Severus could see her throwing a glare at a cat trying to steal her biscuits.

 

“The Dursleys were not good people. The believed they were better than everyone. They hated anything that didn’t fit there standards. Most of all, they were quite physical with Harry.”

 

“Did you tell Albus?” Minerva asked as she slapped the cat’s paw that was touching her plate. It meowed at her in return.

 

“Of course! Many times. Said that everything was fine. That they wouldn’t really hurt him. That he was safe with family. That was until the night the Dursleys got arrested.”

 

Remus added to the conversation then, “I was told that Vernon killed someone?”

 

“Oh yes,” She sighed, “He was trying to go after Harry. He was ranting and raving about how the boy was evil. He must’ve snapped. He stabbed an officer with a fire poker. The poor man died in the hospital from his injuries. Petunia was yelling that they had to beat the freakishness out of him. The son was sitting on the porch steps laughing. It was utter madness.”

 

“Albus thought he was safe there?” Severus asked with disbelief. He, like the rest of the room, was wondering how the signs could be ignored when so many were brought to light?

 

“He was adamant that Harry stays with his family. He admitted that someone kept calling the cops and that he had to redirect them every time. I couldn’t believe it!”

 

“That was Marly,” Remus said, “She said she called several times but they never showed.”

 

“It wasn’t the cops that showed up first that night.” Arabella admitted, “Two cars showed up with people dressed in all black suits. I was throwing out the trash when they showed up. Marly had talked to one of them and pointed out their house. I believe she called them. The cops then showed up after them and then everything went to hell.”

 

“She didn’t mention that when I asked,” Remus told Arabella.

 

“Probably doesn’t want anyone to find out that she ratted them out.” Arabella leaned back with her cup in her hands.

 

“What do you know about his injuries?” Severus asked. He had leaned forward and propped his elbows on his knees. His hands were steepled in front of him.

 

“Head injury. They covered it up. No one really knew. Details were kept out of the media and no one was allowed to visit him. Apparently, it was extremely gruesome. I just remember a whole bunch of people huddled around him before loading him into the ambulance. Heard some weird noise beforehand but I’m unsure what it was.”

 

“Marly said the same thing,” Remus added.

 

“I remember them hosing down blood from the driveway. It was horrendous.”

 

“Is there anything else you may know that we can use to look for more information?” Minerva asked as she finished her tea?

 

“Oh, let’s see,” She tapped her fingers against the floral teacup. Each time her nail touched the cup it made a soft tapping noise. “Ah, he was in The Royal Marsden hospital. I believe he was transferred at some point but that's where his treatment started.”

 

The trio all thanked Arabella for her help before stepping through the fireplace into Minerva’s office. Severus wanted to know who those men in suits were. He also believed Marly had more information then she was letting on. Minerva wanted to know how they had kept it a secret from Albus. Remus’s question would provide more answers if they could answer it.

 

How do they sneak in and steal files from a hospital?

Chapter Text

“I got a letter from Marly today,” Severus had stopped mid-step when he heard that. He looked down the hall to his right and saw Harry walking with Terry Boot and Hannah Abbott. Hannah was carrying a basket. Terry had a couple of thick blankets draped over his shoulder and Harry was carrying a guitar on his back. The neck of the guitar bounced against his leg with each step. He turned away from the route he was taking, one that led to the Headmaster’s office, and followed the trio down the hall. He listened into the conversation.

 

“The pretty blond that used to be your neighbor?” Terry asked with a smile.

 

“She is a good 15 years older than you, Terry!” Hannah hissed at the boy. Terry shrugged not caring. The action caused him to drop a blanket. He reached down to pick it up. Instead of putting it back over his shoulder he threw it at Hannah causing her to stumble. She grabbed the blanket by the corner and whipped it back him.

 

Harry ignored them and kept talking as they walked out the doors to the courtyard. He waved and said hello to the Weasley twins and their younger brother as they passed. Severus stopped and threw an eavesdropping spell and stationed himself at the window looking out to the lake.

 

“Yeah, my old neighbor. She said there was an old friend of my biological dad who was looking for me.” So the boy was still in contact with Marly? Of course, she would mention Remus’s visit. “Apparently he didn’t know I didn’t live there. She said he asked about what happened.”

 

“What did she say?” Hannah asked as she grabbed a blanket from Terry and laid it on the ground. She moved the basket from the tree roots to the center of the yellow and blue striped blanket.

 

“That she only knew that I got hurt and that she didn’t know anything,” Harry replied as he pulled the instrument off his back. Susan and Hermione Granger walked up to the group. The first girl introduced the rest to the second. Harry motioned for her to join them. The bushy hair girl said she had to grab something quickly from the dorms but would be back. Hannah quickly filled Susan in.

 

“What was his name?” Susan asked pulling grapes from the basket.

 

“Remus.

 

“Are you going to try and get in touch with him?” Terry asked while lodging a grape at Hannah. She picked it up from her lap and threw it at him so hard it exploded.

 

“I’m not sure. It would be cool to know about my parent’s earlier years but,” He faltered for a moment, the guitar in his hands dipping forward. “I don’t know. I’m happy now, if I don’t know what I’m missing, I can’t miss it.”

 

“Uh oh, Harry’s get philosophical.” that was met with a “Shut up, Terry!” From Hannah.

 

Severus watched as the group's conversation changed to classes as Hermione came back. She had brought Neville with her, who was looking very nervous. Severus canceled the spell and walked down the steps into the courtyard. There were kids playing exploding snap by the fountain and one of the twins was spinning the younger Weasley around on their shoulders. Several others were sitting around the benches chatting and intermingling. He turned to walk back to the halls when the music started.

 

It was soft, but there was something about it. Something that seemed to catch everyone’s attention in the area. One by one they turned to Harry, Who was strumming away with a smile on his face.

 

He watched the boy as he played. He watched as he relaxed completely, his shoulders loosening and his head bouncing softly from one side to the other. Susan and Hannah were humming next to him enjoying the melody.

 

The toned switched and Hermione's eyes shot up, “I love this song!” Then on cue, Harry, Hermione, Hannah and Terry all started to sing while Susan continued to hum along. Several students made their way over to the tree where Harry was sitting and watched him play. A muggle-born student jumped into the song on the second verse, causing Harry’s smile to widen.

 

Severus sat at the now empty fountain and listened to the singing of voices.

 

Do I have to tell the story

Of a thousand rainy days since we first met

It's a big enough umbrella

But it's always me that ends up getting wet.”

 

Severus had heard the song before, so he hummed quietly to himself as the voices grew louder and more confident. More voices joined in, several off-key, some cracking but each one sounded happy.

 

A few kids that were passing by heard the music and decided to investigate. He watched as Draco and Blaise walked towards the mixed group of students with curiosity. The group had slowly doubled in size and it looked like a few older years had started dancing. A seventh year Slytherin, Annabell Thomason, was dragged into a dance by a Seventh year Hufflepuff, Nymphadora Tonks. The latter was extremely clumsy and stumbled over the uneven ground and tree roots. Charlie Weasley came up from behind her and grabbed her spinning her around in the air. Kids around them laughed and more people broke off to throw their limbs around in an attempt at dancing.

 

After the song ended Severus thought he should probably go see the Headmaster as he planned. Then Harry started to play and sing along to Take On Me by A-ha and he decided that his plans could wait. Instead, for the first time in a long time, he looked up at the sky and watched the clouds drift of the treetops.

 

Why hadn’t he done this earlier? Why hadn’t he come out and enjoy the sun and the soft breeze? His shoulders relaxed and he felt at ease while he listened to the guitar play and the children laugh and sing. It was peaceful, and he had avoided it for years. But why?

 

Maybe it was time to enjoy the small things in life.

Chapter Text

When Severus walked into the potions classroom he was not expecting a student to be in the empty and dim room. There was an unopened box of Nestle Quality Street next to him, several pens surrounding him, and a little music box chirping away next to his inkwell. Severus blinked a couple of times thinking he was seeing things but when the vision persisted he walked forward to the boy.

 

“Mr. Potter,” He drawled next to the boy. He didn’t flinch, just stilled the muggle pen he was scratching away with before looking up to his meet his eyes. “How did you get in here?”

 

“The door,” He replied setting the pen beside his notebook. Severus rolled his eyes so hard they hurt.

 

“How did you get through my locks and wards?” He asked trying to peer into the notebook. He could see a few runes and questions marks but he didn’t have a clear enough view to see the full picture.

 

Harry smiled at the man, “Well I learned several detection spells, disarming spells, and unlocking spells from Susan's Aunts library.” He closed the notebook before pulling the purple candy box next to him popping open the lid. He grabbed purple wrapped chocolate and held it out to the potions master who hesitantly took it. “She showed them to me when I told her I was interested in curse breaking after meeting Bill Weasley at the Ministry.”

 

“Congratulations,” Severus mumbled as he placed the candy on his desk, “You’ve managed to break into my potions classroom without my knowledge, something no other student has managed.”

 

“I’m sure some could have,” Harry pointed out, “But if they broke into here without your knowledge, then how would you know? The only reason I was caught was because you came in here.”

 

Severus couldn’t argue with that logic. Instead, he moved on, “Why are you in here?”

 

“It’s quite.” He said, “No one would think to look in a locked potions classroom for me.”

 

“Why are you hiding from people?”

 

Severus watched as Harry looked for the right words. His eyes were pointed towards the ceiling as he tilted his head to the right. He could see the boy chewing slightly on his tongue looking for a way to properly express what he wanted.

 

“Have you ever thought something was going to be one way only for it to be totally different?” He finally asked his teacher. Severus thought it was ironic that Harry asked that. He thought when that mop of black hair walked through the door, he would see an arrogant boy who thought the world belonged to him. Then he saw his eyes, how he had many questions running through them. How he smiled truly at his friends and always used manners. How he was polite even when someone threw an insult.

 

“Yes,” Severus finally admitted after a moment of thinking.

 

“Well,” Harry started cracking his knuckles in his lap, “Everyone wants me to be this adventurous person. They think I should be brave beyond anything. They ask me about things I can’t remember. I’m not some great hero,” He admitted, “I am Harry. I play the guitar, I go to therapy and I want to be a curse-breaker. I don’t want to be an Aurora. I can’t play quidditch and I really don’t care about breaking rules.” His hands were clenched in fists, “I came here so I wouldn’t be asked to do something stupid. So I wouldn’t be compared to people I don’t know.”

 

Severus let the words cross through his mind before turning to the wall with cauldrons, “Why don’t we work on some of your ideas.” He set the ingredients and a box of gel capsules on the desk. They had to be ordered from a contact in the muggle world then sent over to him with an owl. “I think I have worked out a way to powder a calming draught to put into the capsules.”

 

Harry hummed happily and shoved his notebook into his bag and joined his teacher on the other side of the room. Grabbing the ingredients instructed by his professor he quickly got to work dicing lavender roots. They worked in silence for a while before Severus decided to get some more information from the boy.

 

“So you play the guitar?” He scraped some ingredients into the cauldron before stirring, “I saw you in the courtyard.”

 

“I started to play in therapy, turns out I really liked it.” Harry was scratching on a piece of parchment next to the workstation, “It helped with my fine motor control. Marly actually gave me the guitar I have now.”

 

“Marly?” Severus inquired with a raised eyebrow.

 

“Oh, she was an old neighbor but has become a close family friend. She had a little girl who loves bubbles.” He said with a smile on his face, “I’m going to see her again on the holidays.”

 

Taking a chance, Severus asked, “What does Marly do?”

 

Harry paused. He then looked at his professor, “It’s complicated.”

 

“Why is it complicated?” He laid some of the draught onto a thin pan before throwing a dehydrating spell over it.

 

“Because she works for the government but doesn’t.” At Severus confused expression he continued, “She works in between governments. Like between the British government and the Ministry. She works for both of them but none of them, I really don’t know how to explain it.”

 

The worked in silence for a little while longer. Harry watched as the liquid in the potion dried leaving a residue that needed to be scraped from the pan. While Harry was helping pack the powder into the capsules, Harry made another confusing comment.

 

“I wouldn’t get on the bad side of Marly, or anyone she cares about. She has resources and will not hesitate to taze you.”

 

“Taze?”

 

“Yeah she has this thing that has electricity in it and it super powerful. She then touches it to you and it like being electrocuted. Some guy tried to steal her purse and she tazed him till he peed,” Harry smiled, “It was a little funny.”

 

Severus snorted.

Chapter Text

“Shit!” He hissed as hot tea spilled on his hand after being bumped into. Switching the cup into his other hand he shook off the scalding liquid. Huffing, he pulled on the cord to signal his stop. Using his elbows, he was able to push himself off the bus and onto the sidewalk. Why had he decided to take public transport instead of apparating? He knew it was because he could be tracked and this way left a harder trail for wizards to track. Sipping his tea he made his way back to Privet Drive. It was noon on an unusually sunny Saturday, meaning more people were around. More people to ask questions with.

 

There were several kids running around a very green yard. One was wearing a pink and white striped dress with green grass stains. There were two boys running around the girl wearing shirts with logos he didn’t understand. He stopped a moment watching as the kids ran and avoided each other touches. They giggled and shouted excitedly as they played. A pang of sadness went through him as he guessed Harry didn’t enjoy moments like these. Ones that were carefree, loud and simple. He turned away from the children.

 

He walked past Harry’s old home, the grass was overgrown, one side of the house was spray painted with accusatory messages. Windows were broken from where kids threw rocks at the panels. The house was out of place on the street, the flowers were dead and overcome with weeds. The paint was chipping off the door. Dust and dirt seemed to settle on every available surface.

 

“No one wants to live there,” a throaty voice stated. He turned to see a man with a full beard and greased stain shirt rubbing dirt from his hands with a rag.

 

“Why’s that?” Remus glanced back at the house.

 

“No one wants to live in a house that held a child abuser, not to mention a murderer.” The man said crossing his arms. He stepped to the side and motioned for Remus to move over. A teenager with a backpack rode past on a blue bike.

 

“I heard the Uncle went crazy?”

 

“You can say that again,” The man mumbled.  “The guy went off the deep end.”

 

“Where is he now?” Remus implored while taking a big sip of his tea. It was sweeter than what he usually drank but the feeling of warmth flowing down his chest was pleasant.

 

“Don’t really know, Don’t really care.”

 

“Do you know what he did to the boy?” Remus could tell that the man was getting suspicious of the number of questions he was asking. He kept tilting his head back and looking at him. Remus felt as if the guy was trying to read his thoughts. Trying to figure out who he was and why he was so interested in the family.

 

“No. Listen I need to finish changing the oil,” He started to turn and walk away from the man with a birch colored button down and gray slacks.

 

“Oh sorry, I just want to find the boy, he was my best friend’s son.”

 

He stopped at that. He stroked his beard before speaking.  “Go talk with Mariette, she always knows the latest gossip.” The stocky man pointed to a house across the street with a baby blue mailbox and yellow flowers under the front window.

 

“Thanks,” Remus threw at him quickly as he crossed the street. A couple was walking down the sidewalk and waved at Remus as he stepped up onto the sidewalk. He returned the gesture with a smile and wave of his half-empty cup of tea.

 

“Hello, Ma’am,” Remus greeted as he walked up the paved way. A lady was sitting on a rocking chair with a gossip magazine in her hands and a bottle of water sloshing next to her leg as she moved back and forth. Blond hair with tight curls bounced under an oversized hat on her head. She looked up at Remus with a closed mouth smile and pale blue eyes. “Are you Mariette?” Remus jerked his thumb over his shoulder, “The gentleman over their thought you would be able to answer some of my questions.”

 

“His name is Brutus, dear,” Her voice was silvery and seemed to calm Remus' nerves. She folded her magazine and placed it gently on her lap. “What do you want to ask about?”

 

“Harry Potter. He used to live with the Dursleys.” Remus informed the lady.

 

“Sit,” She motioned to the chair next to her. He hesitated before making his way up onto the porch and settling in next to her. He set his cup down beside him and clasped his hands together loosely on his legs.

 

“Harry was a very sweet boy who had the unfortunate luck of living with monsters. How he was able to smile at the end of the day was beyond me, but he did.” She took a swig from the bottle of water next to her. “We were always told he was a bad kid. His family told us he would break things and constantly hurt their little boy. I honestly think they thought we were stupid. They would say one thing but we always saw it differently.”

 

“Did any of you try to help him?”

 

“Oh, dear, we tried. We really did. Complaints went unheard. The family then wouldn’t let him near us. They isolated the poor boy. He had no friends, he had no one to turn to, well for a while anyway.” When she saw the raised eyebrows of Remus, she continued. “That sweetheart that lived next to him, Marly, she refused to be deterred.”

 

“I’ve met her. She seems nice.” Remus picked up his tea and sipped it slowly.

 

“She bakes fresh bread for the neighbors on the holidays.” She said offhandedly. “Anyways, she was always talking to the boy. Calling people on his relatives. One time Dudley, Harry’s cousin” She clarified, “Was ganging up on Harry with a bunch of his friends. When she came by they all scattered, not Dudley. She told him to stop and he told her to mind her own business and that he can do anything he wants. He then stomped on her foot. She threw her coffee in his face. It was glorious. She takes no shit." The woman chuckled at the memory.

 

“I bet the Dursleys loved that,” Remus told the woman with a smile.

 

“Well, the Aunt came out to confront her while she was cleaning up Harry. She was ranting and screaming at her and the boy. Marly grabbed the power washer that she keeps by the garage and nailed her with it.”

 

“Power washer?”

 

“It’s a high powered machine that sprays water. It’s great for cleaning cement and stone. Petunia’s dress was destroyed when she was done. I thought Brutus was gonna need stitches by the time he was done laughing. I think Marty got a short video of it.” Remus was imagining the horse-faced woman he met all those years ago in a floral dress tumbling over herself. “First time I ever heard that boy laugh.”

 

“What happened? The night that Vernon killed someone?” Remus asked after his smile faded from the sadness that was starting to build in his chest.

 

“I don’t know much about what happened to Harry. I heard that he was sent to one hospital but then transferred before getting sent to a foster family. He apparently needed a lot of therapy from his head injury. There was talk that he lost a lot of blood, so I’m guessing a possible blood transfusion. I really don’t know the specifics.”

 

“Do you know what happened to the Dursleys?” Remus placed his empty teacup on the ground under his seat. He slouched in his chair and rested his left ankle on his right knee.

 

“Vernon is in a maximum security prison. Word of what he did to the boy got out and now they have to keep him in solitary. He kept getting jumped. I think there was a report that several months ago he was stabbed several times by some other inmates. Damn bastard lived.” Mariette grumbled taking another swig of water. “The Aunt? Went crazy. Saying stuff how the boy was freakish and did freakish things. Yelling things about witches and wizards- which if you do witchcraft that's fine but keep that devil worship to yourself, please-  no surprise, she was evaluated. They didn’t like what they found. The wizard thing could have been overlooked. It was other things that she said that raised eyebrows.”

 

“What were these other things?” He was picking at a loose thread on his pants. He pulled the small thread causing the stitching around the area to bunch up. He pulled on the material to straighten out the gray fabric.

 

“She said things about what she did and why she did it.” Mariette watched as he picked at his clothing, “She said that she hit him with frying pans so he’d forget things he would do. He had talents and she wanted him to forget how to do them. She told everyone that the boy was a creation of the devil and he did evil things. She said she had to lock him up at night so he wouldn’t go back to his people, whatever that meant.”

 

“Is that all?”

 

“Oh, she ranted about how she used the boy to protect her. She kept him in the house so these wards would keep her and her family safe. Once he was taken away she started to lose her mind. Mumbling to herself. She started to say things that didn’t make any sense. She became a shell, stopped eating, didn’t take care of herself. Three days in holding and she was deemed unfit to live in society. There was a rumor that she was going to poison herself and child to protect herself from evil wizards.”

 

“That’s, well-” Remus started to say but was cut off when a phone in the house started to ring. Mariette got out of her chair and bustled to the door.

 

“Sorry, I need to get this,” She told him as she opened the front door, “It was a pleasure to meet you though.” With that, she was behind a closed door.

 

After picking up his empty cup and dropping it in the trash bin at the end of her yard, he made his way back to number 4. The kids in the neighborhood had seemed to all go back inside their homes for their afternoon snack. Looking around and seeing most people were occupied or not paying attention to him he quickly made his way into the abandoned house.

 

The first thing he noticed when he walked into the home, was that is was dusty. It covered the abandoned furniture and items that were deemed unworthy when the respective families came to clean up possessions. The air seemed thick and dirty in the house and part of Remus wished he had a face mask.

 

Crooked frames and yellowed photos hung on the dirty walls. The floorboards creaked under his weight and it seemed to echo through the still air. While looking at the photos, he noticed that none of them had Harry in them. He moved from the hallway to the living room before stopping in his tracks.

 

In the middle of the floor past some discarded police tape was a large badly clean brown spot. It sat in the middle of the room between a floral couch and a broken tv. In the cracks of the spiderwebbed screen, he saw a dark substance and his stomach clenched painfully at what it was. He quickly stepped back into the hallway and turned away from the room while taking deep breaths of the thick air.

 

After a few deep breaths, he walked down the hallway towards the kitchen. Through the doorway, he could see a chair tipped over on the floor and shards of a broken plate. He looked around the hallways walls. Photos and ugly wallpaper lines the forgot home. The only thing that stood out in the hallway was the largely complicated lock on the closet that was underneath the stairs.

 

Crouching down, he grimaced as his knees cracked under his weight, he fiddled with the lock until it clicked open. Pulling the door, he froze when a yellowed paper taped to the other side of the cupboard came into view. Surrounded by childish doodles, the word “ Harry’s Room” was written in blue crayon. He traced the letters with the tip of fingers while tears welled up behind his eyes.

 

They locked him away.

 

His family locked him away like he was an old coat.

 

He had to take another deep breath. He closed his eyes as his chest shook in emotion. His fists balled tightly by his side. Slowly opening his eyes he leaned into space. It was filled with cleaning supplies, ragged old socks, a makeshift bed that seemed thing than his shirt, and a few broken soldier toys. There was a ripped cook by the head of the bed. Large dull ripped sweaters were folded and stacked as a makeshift pillow. Old towels were at the foot of the bed, Remus guessed they were used as blankets.

 

“What are you doing in here?” Remus jumped harshly at the voice and managed to knock his head roughly against the top of the closet. Swearing he withdrew from the space to see Marly looking down at him with a gun in her hand. When she saw his face a look of surprise fluttered over her features. She clicked the safety back on the weapon before offering her hand out to him.

 

After helping him up, Remus asked her, “Why do you have a gun?”

 

“I saw someone in the house from my kitchen window. As far as I knew, it could have been a doped up madman. I was not going to take my chances.” She said as she leading him back out the front door. He tried to stay in the house but she had gone behind him and slowly moved him out of the house. He felt like he was being herded like an animal.

 

She watched him and made her way off the porch when she turned back towards him. She seemed to have misstepped. She threw her hands out towards Remus who instinctively tried to grab at her. Her hand ran roughly down his forearm scratching him in the process. He hissed as she caught herself.

 

“Oh! I’m so sorry!” She grabbed his arm, blood was starting to seep out of the long cut. “It’s my stupid ring! The prongs are sharp and I have been meaning to get them sanded down.” She pulled at his arm leading him towards her house.

 

“It’s fine. It’s just a scratch.” He tried to pull away from Marly. He wanted to go back into the house and investigate more.

 

“I insist that you let me clean it up, it’s the least I can do.” Remus couldn’t have argued with him seeing as she had already managed to get him onto her porch. She quickly directed him to the kitchen and pulled out a first aid kit from the bathroom in the hall. She had just set it down when there was a knock on the door. She handed him a cleaning cloth and excused herself. He was dabbing at the blood when he stopped. A deep voice was on the other side of the door. Curious, he used a hearing enhancing spell to listen to their conversation.

 

“The alarms went off,” A thick voice said.

 

“I know. I’m taking care of it.” Marly replied.

 

“Do you need any help?”

 

“No, No, I got it taken care of.” She told the man. There was shuffling and the clicking of the door. Remus swore and quickly canceled the spell as soon as Marly yelled towards him, “I’m going to go grab Caylee from her nap. I’ll be right down.” He then heard her head up the stairs.

 

Remus quickly shot out of his seat and decided to look around the room. There were dished drying in the rack and mail on the counter. Heading over to the stack of mail he quickly flipped through it stopping when he found a piece of folded parchment. He looked over his shoulder to the doorway then quickly opened and started to read the letter.

 

 Oct. 12th, 1991

Marly,

Thanks for the chocolates, I’ve been sharing them with my friends. I think I might give one to the potion professor. He seems nice.

 

I’m not sure if I want to write to this Remus person. I don’t know anything about him. I get that he’s a friend of my biological Dad but I have a lot going on right now.

 

Had another really bad seizure last week but I’m sure Mom told you. Speaking of Mom, she said she was going to try and sneak us to Hogsmeade this coming weekend. Maybe you can come and see us. I know how much you love butterbeer.

 

Take care,

Harry Potter

 

P.s. Have you heard anything about the adoption yet?

 

Marly still talked to Harry. Marly knew about witches and wizards? Was she a witch herself? She had a good enough relationship that she sent him mail and gifts. She had told Harry about him? Why didn’t he want to speak to him? What adoption was Harry talking about?

 

Hearing footsteps coming down the stairs her quickly folded the letter and put it back into the stack with the other mail. Making his way towards the sink he looked out the window. He opened the cabinet next to him but stopped as he realized something.

 

There wasn’t a window on the side of the house that Marly could see, that wasn't boarded up. How could she have seen him in the house?

 

“Looking for something?” He turned back to Marly ready to accuse her of lying. At the last moment, he decided against it.

 

“Cups? I think I would like a glass of water.” She looked at him and to the window before setting Caylee on the ground. She toddled over to Remus and patted his leg with an open palm.

 

“One over,” She then sat down and opened the first aid kit. “Come on let’s clean you up.”

Chapter Text

 

“Hello Mister Potter,” Severus heard the matron say on the other side of the room. He was quietly and carefully putting away the new stock of Pepper-up Potion that he had just made when the boy had entered. “I see you are missing your other half,” She said jokingly to the boy.

 

“She had to stop and grab a fresh pair of sock, she stepped in a large puddle outside of the bathroom on the second floor.” The boy replied looking up at the lady. He looked tired, dark circles were hanging under his eyes. Severus caught the boy yawning and rubbing tiredly at his eyes with the back of his hand. He was wearing a t-shirt with a triangle. It had a line turning into a rainbow on it and it seemed very familiar to Severus but he couldn’t quite place it. The rest of the boy's outfit was a pair of black skater shoes with white a white stripe on the side. He was also wearing a black hoodie unzipped and jeans. It was distinctively muggle.

 

Hannah raced into the room with Susan on her tail. Susan was wearing a jean skirt and a striped shirt while Hannah’s attired looked more like Harry’s. Her shirt had a weird looking yellow smiley face and her sneakers were gray. She wasn’t wearing a hoodie but had a pullover tied around her waist.

 

“Oh, I see your other half and best friend have found their way to you.” Poppy smiled down at the two girls who stopped beside Harry.

 

“Susan’s my best friend,” Hannah informed the healer.

 

“Can’t Susan have two?” Poppy asked while remaking a bed. She puffed the pillow before dropping it back to the head of the bed.

 

“No, Harry can get his own.” Severus had to bite his lip from laughing at how the girl said it. Harry, on the other hand, decided to laugh out loud.

 

The sound was one that he would always remember. It was light and airy. It seemed to dance its way through the room. It bounced from wall to wall. It slid over every surface until it seemed to touch the people in the room until it soaked into their ears. It appeared to call forth laughter in other for both Susan and Poppy giggled before Hannah had joined them with a bright smile.

 

Severus wasn’t surprised, Harry had that effect on people. He brought them together. He made the laugh and put everyone he talked to at ease. The potion master had caught the boy making the youngest Weasley boy and Malfoy laugh earlier in an alcove. The three boys were laughing, not at each other, but together. He thought he was seeing things when the redhead had smiled to the blond before waving and walking away.

 

Who would have thought it was a Ravenclaw that brought people together and not a Hufflepuff.

 

Harry seemed to have that quality. Lily had it, to an extent. She managed to make friends in each house. She was able to get several houses to be civil together. There was always that tension, though, that rift that she could never overcome. The deep tear that could never quite be mended.

 

Harry, on the other hand, seemed to erase darkness and hate. When he was around people, they seemed to become better. They wanted to become better. They wanted to be the best they could be. To be what Harry saw in them.

 

Severus had noticed that the people that Harry hung out with the most, were some of the most dedicated and unique people Severus had ever encountered. They were so sure of themselves, and not in a narcissistic way. They knew what they were good at. They were aware of their flaws and embraced the ones that made them special and quirky and worked to eradicate the ones that seemed to dampen their potential.

 

Looking at the boy laughing with his friends, Severus wondered if the boy had something more magical about him, or if that was just who he was. Was he just a carefree guitar playing boy? Or was he covering something up? Was he hiding how he really felt behind fake smiles and kind gestures? He watched him, his smile toothy and lopsided, and Severus couldn’t see anything but genuine emotion.

 

How could someone who was brutally attacked be so happy?

 

A flash of green quickly decorated the room before fading away and leaving Delana Abbott standing in soft blue robes. Her hair was wavy and draped over her shoulders. Smiles lines were deep around her mouth and he could see some worry lines as well. Her eyes lit up when Harry and Hannah turned towards her. The kids made sounds of excitement and ran towards her. She dropped down and enveloped the children into a deep hug.

 

A pang of envy shot through Severus’s chest. It speared through his heart as he saw the faces of the two children who wore utter contempt and love on their faces. He wasn’t sure if he was envious of the children or their mother.

 

When they pulled away, Harry noticed him. A small smile spread across his face before he addressed the professor, “Hello,” the boy chimed. Hannah and Delana turned to look at him. Delana straightened out, smoothing her robes with open palms.

 

“A pleasure,” He directed to the family in front of him. The envious feeling was slowly ebbing away from his heart.

 

“Severus,” Delana’s soft-spoken voice addressed him. Her voiced portrayed her character perfectly. Soft and kind but held the sound of intelligence, aiding in people trusting her. A good quality to have when a healer.

 

“Mrs. Abbott.” He addressed her with a slight nodded. She smiled at him and clarified that it was okay to call her by her first name.

 

“Well kids,” She placed one hand on Hannah the other on Harry, “Shall we make our way towards town? I don’t want to keep our friends waiting.” Harry looked up to the woman and beamed. The made their way through the floo, Susan being followed by Harry, then Hannah, then completed by their mother.

 

“Where did they go?” Severus asked as he started to head out the door.

 

“Hogsmeade, I believe,” Poppy said before disappearing into her office. It didn’t take long for Severus to decide to make a trip to the small village. He had Sir Nicholas to inform anyone who was looking for him, that he was out making purchases. With haste, he left the castle through his floo and landed in a bar run but Aberforth Dumbledore. He grumbled at Severus about the dust as he made his way through the fireplace. Ignoring him her dropped two knuts on the counter and was out the door.

 

Standing out in the open air he was met with a new dilemma. He had no idea who the group was meeting and where. He turned quickly to the right gasping as he was faced to face with Remus.

 

“Lupin!” He hissed at the man.

 

“Snape, my apologies,” Remus muttered as he took a step back.

 

“What are you doing here?” Severus asked looking at the man. He was wearing a mix of magical and muggle clothes. Slacks with a button down shirt that was engulfed by a worn cloak. He looked tired, his eyelids drooping ever so slightly.

 

“I think Marly is meeting with Harry. What are you doing here?”

 

“I followed Harry and his family. I’m trying to find out what they are doing in Hogsmeade. Parents don’t typically take their children to the village.” Severus noted that Remus was looking at him but past him. Turning he saw as Harry ran to catch a toddling child with brown hair pulled into a single braid down her back. He caught the child with the biggest smile that Severus had ever seen on anyone.

 

The men watched as he twirled the little girl then pulled her into a deep hug. Before passing the child the opening arms of Susan, he placed a kiss on her forehead. He then turned his attention to a blond woman sporting a bob and wearing an identical shirt to Harry. She made a motion between the two of them, drawing attention to their attire. She laughed then, her head tilting towards the cloudy sky with closed eyes. She moved forward pulling him into a hug, twisting him to each side before letting go. Harry’s body was quickly replaced with Hannah’s.

 

“Who-?”

 

“That’s Marly,” Remus stated. His focus was on the only boy in the group. The one with the oversized glasses and short hair. The boy who was laughing at Marly who was trying to untangle a toddler’s fingers from Susan’s hair.

 

“As in Harry’s old neighbor?”

 

“Yes,” Remus confirmed.

 

“How did you know they were going to be here?” Severus looked away from the happy group. The tawny-haired man watched a second longer before redirecting his gaze to the potion master.

 

“I saw a letter from Harry to Marly last time I was at her place.” He rubbed the back of his neck as he acknowledged his invasion of privacy.

 

“Is she a witch?” Severus asked as he watched the children lead the two older woman into the three broomsticks. Hannah and Susan were swinging the little girl between them while Harry walked backward cooing at her.

 

“I can’t be certain. I haven’t seen anything that says she is. She dresses like a muggle. She lives like a muggle. It sounds like she has a muggle job as well.”  Remus walked towards the shop. “Come on, let’s go in.”

 

“Isn’t that a little suspicious?”  Severus drawled from where he stood.

 

“Do you have a better idea?” Remus asked walking backward as he addressed the man. He stumbled over a step catching himself before ending sprawled on the ground.

 

Huffing Severus followed the other man in through the door. They took a spot at the bar, avoiding the table that students had taken. Both men waited until their drinks were delivered before used an eavesdropping spell.

 

“How’s work going?” Delana asked Marly while trying to wrestle the jacket off of Caylee. She was more interested in the food and drinks that were placed on the table than her clothing. Delana finally got Caylee’s left arm free. The child threw herself forward towards the food. The only reason she didn’t end up covered in it was that Hannah managed to catch her.

 

While Marly was scolding the little girl, Harry was cutting up pastries for the little hands that were outstretched to him. She squealed happily when a small piece was placed in her hand. The kids were laughing at her. Marly reached over the drinks to grab a napkin when she started to speak to Harry.

 

“That man I mentioned to you in my letters? Yeah, I found him snooping in your old house last weekend.” She dabbed the white cloth against the messy mouth of Caylee. When she saw his horrified expression she reassured him, “Don’t worry, I’m taking care of it.”

 

Severus and Remus sipped their drinks while listening to the group speaks. The conversation didn’t go into much detail. Talk of classes, friends and hobbies were the main points of discussion. They finished their drinks when Amelia Bones walked in through the door. Her eyes swept over the pub, causing Severus and Remus to turn towards each other to appear in conversation before she made her way to the small group.

 

“Hi, Auntie.” Susan chirped from the bench next to Harry. She bounced and quickly hugged the woman before Harry and Hannah followed suit. After their hugs and smiles were exchanged, Delana told the kids to visit Honeydukes.

 

“We’ll pick you up from the shop when we are done. Don’t get into trouble!” The blond said as the kids pulled Caylee out of the booth and shimmied her jacked on her short arms. She was protesting the jacket being zipped crying that she wanted to do it. Huffing, Susan started the zipper and let the little girl drag it up, she was rewarded with a toothy smile.

 

After the kids disappeared and the door was clicked closed, Marly turned to Amelia. “Does he know?”

 

“I reached out and none of my people have been contacted by Dumbledore,” Amelia said, her fingernails tapping softly against the cup. “What about you?” The question was directed to Delana.

 

“No one in my ward has been asked any unusual questions.”

 

Marly hummed. Her left arm was draped across the table. Her fingers rubbing together absently as she thought. She turned towards Amelia, her whole top half twisting to the woman when her body stilled. She wasn’t looking at the woman, but past her to two men stationed at the bar.

 

“There are ears here. We should leave.” It was said quickly and none of the women hesitated to slip on coats and cloaks and heading out the door.

 

Remus and Severus quickly threw down several coins and rushed out the door wrapping their outerwear on as they stepped out the pub. There weren’t many people out on the roads but with a quick scan, they found that they couldn’t find the three woman.

 

“Honeydukes.” Severus deep voice pulled Remus towards him. After receiving a puzzled look Severus clarified, “The kids are at Honeydukes.” They quickly weaved between the now growing crowd of people. They reached the shop just as the kids walked out with their purchases. Laughter danced around them as they walked towards the three older women standing by a side alley.

 

“Ray-Moose!” Remus and Severus stiffened at the voice being directed towards them. Severus turned a harsh glare to Remus, who could feel the intensity burning a hole in the side of his head.

 

“RAY. MOOSE!” The little squealed as she had spotted the two men. She had pulled away from the group and was running towards him with a smile. She stumbled a few steps away from him and Remus reached out stopping her fall. He picked her up probably and she smiled. He could still feel the intensity of the stare Severus was giving him as the girl waved a lollipop at him. She then turned towards the group of people staring at him.

 

“Mar-wee! Ray Moose!” She yelled out the blonde who was staring at the werewolf with narrowed eyes. He gulped harshly at the cold shiver that ran down his spine.

 

Suddenly Delana and Amelia had herded the kids and passed the two, walking back towards the Three Broomsticks. They called out goodbyes to Marly and Caylee as they walked away. Harry seemed to have his sight linger on Remus before jogging to catch up with the group.

 

Remus placed Caylee back on the ground who had wandered over to Severus and was showing him her lollipop. He awkwardly acknowledged it as she babbled to him. She started talking about something that he didn’t know and just hummed at her in response. The child seemed content at the attention she was receiving, even though it was minimal.

 

“Why are you following me? Who sent you?” Marly hissed as she took several large strides to become face to face with Remus. She was looking up at him with anger displayed on her face.

 

“What? No one-”

 

“Leave him alone,” she spat, cutting him off. “Tell whoever sent you that they need to leave him alone as well.”

 

“Who do you think you are?” Remus shouted at the blond. Severus was standing a small distance away looking at comfortable at the attention they were drawing. Caylee was started to get upset and he had patted her shoulder in a form of comfort.

 

Excuse you? I’m the one who helped him when no one else did. I’m a friend. I, unlike you ,” She gritted out between clenched teeth, “Care about what happened to him. I don’t just disappear for his whole life and come back and act as if nothing happened.”

 

“You have no-” He started but was cut off again by the irate woman.

 

“Oh Please. You need to stop sticking your nose in things you have no business in.” She quickly glanced at Severus who was crouched down and rubbing a crying Caylee’s back.

 

“You're a stranger!” Remus yelled at her, “I knew his father! I was there when he was born! You only think you care about him!” He growled at him. She snapped her gaze from the black hair man to Remus. He could see the fire in her soul through her eyes. Her jaw was clicking painfully back and forth as she tried to keep her anger in check.

 

“I mean more to Harry then you ever will.” She hissed at him. This seemed to be the wrong thing to say. Remus’s anger flared and he whipped his wand out.

 

Before he could call a spell to his mind she had punched him. Hard.

Chapter Text

It’s not that Remus couldn’t deal with pain, he could. Having his body ripped and stretched into an unnatural from once a month, helped with increasing pain tolerance. Yes, Remus could deal with pain, when it’s sharp and hot. When it’s pulling and tearing. When it fades to a dull ache, he can deal with it.

 

A throbbing? One that seemed to worsen with each pump of his heart? A pain that seems to pinch and cause half of his face to spasm? One that causes short and quiet whimpers to slip through his chapped lips? That’s a pain Remus didn’t enjoy. One that he wasn’t use to. It couldn’t be ignored like an ache, for the moment you got used to it, then it flared to life again.

 

“You’re an imbecile,” Severus said next to him. He had to turn his whole body to see him, seeing as the right side of his face was covered with an ice pack. He narrowed his eyes only to gasp in pain as his muscles in his eye rebelled and screamed at him.

 

“How was I supposed to know she was going to, um.” He paused, “uh, punch me?” The wolf asked the other man as he relaxed the muscles in his face. Severus was starting to think the man had a concussion.

 

The weather had dipped after the left the village. They were now walking back towards the grounds gate. They would have flooed back but the only floo that allows visitors to come through is Madam Pomfrey's, which they, unfortunately, didn’t have the password for, or the Headmaster’s, he wasn’t in his office so his floo was closed. Severus was swearing his oversight in not allowing an open connection to his floo when the rain had started.

 

It was a slight drizzle at first. It took several moments for the men to notice, but when they did the sky seemed to open up and drop the entire storm on them. Both men quickly cast a repellent spell and rushed towards the castle. Severus managed to slip and nearly fall in a patch of mud while Remus stepped into a puddle soaking his shoes and socks.

 

Their huffing breaths were the only sound when they entered the main corridor. After taking a few moments to catch their breaths they started to spell themselves presentable. It took Severus three spells to get the mud off his shoes entirely. Remus decided to leave his hair wet, not wanting to chance and spells around his injury.

 

The only students that they saw on their way to the hospital wing was Nymphadora Tonks and Charlie Weasley, who were half hidden in an alcove behind a suit of armor. When Severus drug the two out from their hiding spot it was clear what they were up to. Severus handed out each a detention while they attempted to straighten their clothes and hair. Charlie was so red his face was starting to blend in with his hair. Severus dismissed them when he tired of their averted eyes and awkward shuffling.

 

“Weren’t you the one who caught Peter and- um-” Remus blinked trying to figure out what he was saying, “Peter and uh-”

 

“Don’t finish that.” Severus growled at him. Yes, back when he was a Prefect in his fifth year he had caught Peter Pettigrew and a a blond fourth-year Hufflepuff in a compromising position. Severus still struggled walking by the transfiguration room because of that horrifying encounter. Minerva never did figure out why Peter had been given a half week of detention or why he refused to look Severus in the eye half way through their fifth year.

 

Remus had started to laugh but it switched into a groan. Severus snorted, feeling pleased by the small amount of karma he had witnessed. Remus couldn’t directed a glare at the other man but he could introduce the man to his middle finger. That made Severus  pucker his lips in distaste. Before Severus could respond, they had reached the infirmary doors.

 

The doors were carved with squares and rectangles overlapping. Simple shapes laid over others creating a maze of lines and shapes. The handles were made of brass and stained dark from use. There were darker spots above the handles from the oils of fingers. Some of the edges of the shapes were rounded in this spot from the fiction of the time.

 

Severus was one of those people who placed his fingers against the wood as he shut the door behind him. It clicked through the room, mixing with the sounds of a younger girl whimpering. The girl looked away from the nurse to the two newcomers. She was cradling her arm against her chest. She had scratches along the right side of her face and busted lip. It took Severus several moments to realize he was staring at Lisa Turnip, a first-year Ravenclaw. The ever-present smile and messy bun was missing, making the girl look completely different.

 

On the bed next to her, was the still and sleeping form of Harry Potter. His lip was cut open with dried blood around it. There were worry lines creased into his face. His eyes twitched under the closed lids. The nurse noticed the two men and tsked when she saw the swollen face of Remus. She pointed to a free bed on the other side of Harry.

 

“What happened?” Severus asked as Remus sat on the side of the bed staring at Harry. He removed the ice back and moved it around in his hand. It was almost completely melted and useless.

 

“Harry had another seizure. He was in the library with Mrs. Turnip when it happened. In her mad dash to get the help, she unfortunately tripped and broke her arm,” The nurse said to the potions professor while handing a potion to the young girl.

 

“I didn’t mean to fall,” The girl said affronted.

 

“I know, dear.” The nurse patted her shoulder. “I understand you panicked. You did do the right thing and get help, five points to Ravenclaw.” After directing the girl under the covers she turned to Remus. “Now, who would like to explain what happened?”

 

“I got punched,” Remus told the matron as he continued to watch Harry sleep. He was seeing so much of James, yet Lily was shining through clearly. His view was blocked when Poppy stood in front him to run a diagnostic.

 

“Well, not only do you have a concussion, but you managed to break your orbital socket. What’s probably causing the most pain is that your Orbicularis oculi had become pinched between the break.” She continued running her wand down his body to check to see if there was any strains from the hit or other damage. She stopped when she got an unusual reading on his forearm. She turned his arm over looking at the thin line on his skin.

 

“Can you dumb that down just a little?” Remus asked.

 

“You broke the bone around your eye and the surrounding muscle is being pinched.” She tapped his arm, “Are you aware there is a tracking charm on you?”

 

Remus widens his eyes only to hiss in pain. He looked at the pink line, “No, I was not.”

 

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” She ran her wand over the area again, “It’s as if the spell has healed into your skin. It has a very ancient feel to it as well. This will need a bit of research before being able to be lifted.”

 

“Do you know where you got it?” Severus asked from behind the nurse. He quickly glanced at the girl as she started to snore lightly.

 

“Yes,” Remus growled, “Marly scratched me when I-” He stopped looking past the woman to make sure Harry was still asleep, “When I, um” He clicked his finger searching for the words. “Harry’s house. She caught me. She scratched me with her ring.”

 

“Let’s take care of the concussion,” Poppy said noticing his struggle with words. “Then I’m going to knock you out while I fix your eye.”

 

“She’s a witch,” Severus told Remus as Poppy passed him a small vial.

 

“Or she has charmed items,” Remus countered, “Muggles are able to use them.”

 

Severus sneered. He was getting tired of not knowing. He was tired of not having answers and not being able to find them. It seemed as if there were forces working against him. Not only him but seeming Remus and-

 

“The woman mentioned Dumbledore. When you confronted Marly she thought someone had sent you. Do you think she believes you were sent by the Headmaster?” Severus was trying to remember the small bits of information they had recovered. “Amelia keeping the ministry out of it while Delana is keeping the hospital silent.” He blinked, “Dumbledore doesn’t know.”

 

“I don’t think he knows of Harry’s living situation either.” Poppy piped in.

 

‘How so?” Remus asked as he was directed to lay flat on the bed.

 

“I can’t say.” Remus opened his mouth to protest, “I’m under contracts. I won’t say either if I could. All I can say is, I was told to keep Harry distanced from the Headmaster. I wasn’t told why only that they were afraid that the Headmaster would start digging if given a reason and that they couldn’t have that.”

 

“Who’s they?” Severus questioned.

 

“I’m not saying anymore. The only reason I said anything is because I’m only around him so much. I could use another set of eyes.” She removed her hands that had gravitated towards her hips. Turning to the tawny-haired man she pointed a spell stunning him. She stepped closer to him and started to numb the area around his eye. After waiting for a few minutes for the spell to take effect, she started to move her to want around in twirls and twists.

 

Severus watched her work for a moment before walking over to Harry. His breathing was deep and his mouth was ajar slightly, giving away his slumber. He tugged off the trapezoid shaped frames and folded them before setting the softly on the night table. He pulled his wand out of his robe and pointed it at his split lips. Before the spell started to build within him he was stopped.

 

“You can’t use magic on him so soon after a seizure, It’ll just trigger another one,” The nurse told him while scooping a bruising balm out of a jar. “I’ll heal it later.” Severus nodded in understanding.

 

He sat down beside they boy. He watched as his nose twitched and his lips pucker before smoothing out. A soft snort escaped him before he turned his head to the right. He pulled his arms up and tucked them under his chin. Severus went to move his arms, it could cause wrist pain if held to long in one position, but stopped. He redirected his hand movement to the side of Harry’s head and tilted it backwards slightly to get a better view. Brushing his fingers through Harry’s short hair, he saw it. It was concealed by the black strand but it was their. An oddly shaped round scar right behind his temple and above his ear. The sides were jagged and it seemed to pucker in few spots, but it was completely healed. It was several shades paler than the boy’s sun tanned skin, but it was there. He rubbed his finger over the spot and nearly jerked his hand back when he didn’t feel sturdy roundness of his skull. It felt like there was something patched underneath the skin.

 

Several ideas of what caused the injury popped to the adult’s mind. Was he hit with a hammer? It was the right size. Could he have been hit with a bay? A metal one could do damage to a skull, but would it take a chunk out like that? Did muggle doctors go in an do something to his head? Severus remember hearing that they sometimes took chunks of skulls out of people to alleviate pressure. He was scowled at the wall. It felt as if every time he got a little more information, it just led to more possibilities. He has yet to get anything concrete about Harry’s injury. With that thought he turned back to the boy.

 

He ran his hand through the boy’s hair and whispered to him, “What happened to you?”

Chapter Text

It wasn’t the sun that woke him up, but he did notice it. The rays that were starting to stay shorter throughout the day as the weather turned brisk. They were slowly creeping across the stone floor, covering everything in its path and declaring the beginning of the day. He wished there was a curtain over the window that he could draw and shut out the morning call.

 

No, It wasn’t the sun that woke him up. It was the sound of metal sliding across metal. It was the mixture of quiet footsteps, the ruffling of fabric and wood bouncing against the uneven stone floors. A man, Remus guessed from the outline he saw between squinted lids, was what woke him up. It was too early and bright to assault his eyes with the morning light so he kept them half closed and he looked towards the bed Harry was laying on.

 

He knew who the person was once they started talking to the boy, “Good morning, Harry,” The gentle and low voice of Albus Dumbledore said. He was talking quietly, either to avoid waking up the other residents of the hospital wing or to avoid detection. Remus decided to stay quiet.

 

“Hello, Headmaster,” The boy replied back politely. There was a rustling of pages. Remus guessed that Harry was either working on homework or reading. He couldn’t see anything past the darkened outline of his old professor through the fabric.

 

“You know it was quite a shock to see you end up in Ravenclaw. Both of your parents were in Gryffindor.” Remus could guess the man was smiling down at the student. “I’m surprised to hear you aren’t as adventurous as your father.”  Remus crinkled up his nose, who tells that to a kid who doesn’t know his parents? “He was always hanging around friends and experiencing new things. Always putting others before himself, you know.” What was the man getting at? Remus rolled from her left side to his back.

 

“No, I’m sorry I don’t know that. I don’t remember anything about my father.” Harry stated. Remus had to bite his lip to prevent from making a noise of amusement. Harry had stated in a deadpan voice that reminded him of Mary, Lily’s best friend.

 

A sadness bloomed in his chest, remembering the way the girl use to talk to Sirius. Mary was a woman Remus hoped to hang out with more in school. She was always able to get Sirius to act responsible and even stop his pranks. He admired her and the way she could scare the man more than McGonagall. Their classes always conflicted and he didn’t get the chance to spend time with her until after James and Lily’s wedding. It was shortly after that she was killed.

 

“What a shame.” Remus could hear Albus shifting in his seat. “Why don’t we head to my office? I would be happy to share stories of your parent’s time here.”

 

Remus wasn’t sure why but the feeling of unsettledness flowed through him. It felt heavy in his chest. His brain was screaming at him, the word ‘No” was spearing itself into his every thought. His skin felt as if it was drenched in the feeling. It felt as if everything was tilted and twisted. He wasn’t sure why, but the Headmaster needed to stay away from the Ravenclaw.

He quickly bolted out of bed, keeping his footsteps light. He had to stop himself from ripping the cotton from the metal rings as he slid it open. He clenched his fingers into the curtains in an attempt to hide the shaking they were doing. He was so focused on keeping his breath even that he nearly missed the question Albus shot his way.

 

“What are you doing here, my boy?” Remus stared at the man trying not to give in to the overwhelming urge to slam him into the floor.

 

“I obtained an injury while discussion matters with Severus,” Remus spoke through an aching jaw. He could feel the bones grinding together as he moved his jaw in a tight circular motion.

 

“I see,” The jeweled robed man stood up from the chair and motioned for Harry to follow. Remus could see the panic starting to pool into his features. His eyes darted quickly between Remus and the Headmaster. His breath had picked up and his fingers were wringing the knitted blanket on his bed.

 

“I’m sorry,” Remus blurted out, “Harry and I actually were going to head to the library this morning.” He darted his eyes to Harry who seemed to be able to take a breath. “Hopefully you can find another time to invite Harry to some tea,” Or not, his mind supplied.

 

“Surely you can find-”

 

“No,” Remus sternly told him. He watched the displeasure mix with anger on Albus’s face. It was so sudden that when he blinked it was gone. Though Remus could never remember seeing an expression like that on the Headmaster, it seemed genuine. Part of his brain was trying to smooth over the image and erase it but a larger part was sounding sirens. Something was off about the Headmaster. Something was wrong.

 

“Very well,” the older man said. Both Harry and Remus could hear the frustration in his voice. “I will try to find a better time.” He informed the boy. “Have a good day.”

 

After Albus had left, the door’s clicking latch sounding through the room, Harry quickly spun his body towards Remus. Wide eyes and a worried expression was thrown to the man. Talking up to him Harry said, “You need to go to Marly. She’ll help.”

 

“I do not want to see that woman again.” Remus deadpanned to the boy.

 

“Trust me!” He frantically told the man, “She can help. Just let her know you don’t help him. You felt it, right? How something’s off? Marly can help.”

 

“I’m sure I can-”

 

“Please,” Harry asked so quietly that Remus nearly missed it. It was the sound of sheer desperation that led Remus to leave the hospital wing wearing yesterday’s clothes. It was the way that his eyes seemed to hold an urgency that led the man to push away his misgivings about the woman and apparate to her front porch. He was thinking of Harry when he rapped his knuckles loudly against the closed door on Privet Drive.

 

Marly opened the door wearing an extremely loose gray shirt paired with plaid pajama bottoms and bare feet. Her skin looks dull and tired and she had to blink a couple of times to focus on the figure at her door. Once she noticed who it was she started a nasty question but was cut off.

 

“Harry sent me.”  She paused, blinking several times before closing her mouth and just staring at him.

 

“Why?” She asked after almost a minute of quiet staring.

 

“Something’s wrong with Dumbledore. Or me? I don't know. I looked at him today and it felt,” He paused looking for a way to describe it. “I want to say wrong but it was more than that. “

 

“It was like you were actually seeing him for the first time?” She supplied.

 

“Yes.”

 

She pulled the door open. When he didn’t walk in she hissed at him, “I’m not a morning person! I need coffee!” He huffed and quickly stepped in and out of his shoes. He followed her to the kitchen, stepping over the baby gate he plopped himself at the table. Marly started the coffee pot before sitting across from the man. She leaned heavily on her arms as she stared at him. Her elbows were resting on the oak table. The shine didn’t seem as bright on the side of the table she sat on, so he guessed that was a regular place that she sat at.

 

“I’m sorry for hitting you.” She told him. “But it seemed to have work in your favor. I’m guessing you had a concussion?”

 

“Yes. And how would getting punch help me?”

 

She didn’t say at first. She let her hands tangle into the unbrushed and slightly dirty locks of hair that was hanging in front of her face. She watched the table while listening to the dripping of coffee into the glass pot. It was when the pot was half brewed did she start, “There’s a very powerful but extremely illegal compulsion charm that affects the processing center of the brain. The spell settles over the area and feeds false information to the senses. It overrides your gut instincts. It can alter your memories, what you see or hear, to have it match what it’s caster wants.  That’s why Albus felt wrong to you. You saw him how he really is and not how he’s charmed you to see him.” She got up and grabbed two mugs pouring milk and coffee into them before sitting back at the wooden table. She slid one over to Remus who warmed his hands with the ceramic.

 

“So you are a witch?” He asked for clarification. His right index finger traced the lip of the mug. It was a rusty brown color with a black handle.

 

“Yes,” She clarified before moving back to the previous topic, “The concussion,” She started after taking a few gulps of coffee, “Damaged the processing center. Therefore it damaged the spell. I can take a look and get rid of any lingering shards of it. I also have charms that I can use to prevent any future compulsion charms. There is good news.” Before she addressed the positives, she pulled out a long thin wand.

 

The wand looked to be about thirteen inches. It was skinny with light purple gems inlaid by the handle. The small little gems were surrounded by swirls that were burnt into the wood. Remus had never seen such a detailed design on such a thin wand before. It looked to be made of birch wood but he couldn’t even begin to guess what the core was.

 

Quickly she started to wave it in a pattern that was not familiar to the werewolf. It started out as a circle but as her wand moved inward the pattern grew tight and complex. Finally, she flicked the wand towards him. He felt as if he was covered completely by small bubbles that were popping and ticking him. He could feel something shift ever so slightly in the back of his mind. It reminded him of cracking his knuckles. As quickly as the sensation started, it had stopped.

 

“And the good news would be?” Remus asked taking a sip of the coffee. There was a nutty flavor to it but it wasn’t bad. Not as good as tea but still enjoyable.

 

“That charm? It can only be used once on a person. Usually once is enough as it doesn’t need to be reapplied or strengthened. Conguagraulatons, you’re free of Dumbledore’s control.” Marly stood up and pushed her messy hair behind her ears, “Follow me, I need to wake up Caylee.”

 

Remus wasn’t sure why he did. This woman had just broken part of his skull the day before. Granted he did pull a wand on her, but her she was inviting him back into her home. Inviting her around her daughter. Yet here she was directing him up the stairs, over toppled toys and past a basket of dirty laundry. And he was following her, into the room with constellations painted on all the surfaces, a pile of folded laundry on top of the dresser, and a smiling toddler sitting upright in a messy bed.

 

“Ray. Moose.” The little girl with two small braids and tired eyes said to him. She untangled herself from the blanket that had a girl with red hair and a green tail printed on the front. Walking up to him, she lifted her arms above her head towards him. With the smile she gave him, he couldn’t resist lifting her onto his hip. She pointed down to her bed, “Mewmaid.”

 

“I see that. She’s pretty.” He watched as Marly pulled out a pair of jeans for the girl and had her choose between two different long-sleeves. The girl picked the purple one with doodled hearts on it instead of the blue one with stripes.

 

Once the clothes were put on the child and her teeth were brushed she was placed in Remus’s arms. “I’m gonna get dressed. Can you keep her entertained for a few minutes?” Remus couldn’t answer because when he looked back up Marly was behind a closed door. He followed the girl back into the room and politely took the stuff fo that was handed to him. They quickly started a game of dancing animals and off-key singing to a song about living life under the sea. It was after the third song, one that Remus mumbled along to, that Marly walked back in.

 

She was wearing a button down shirt with teal and green dots all over it. It was paired with khakis and mismatched socks. Her hair was pulled back into a messy bun and small silver balls dangled from her earlobes. Remus stood when she held a closed fist out to him. A small trinket was dropped into his hand. Looking down he saw a crystal that was held between twisted metal and placed upon a black cord.

 

“It’ll protect you from compulsions and memory charms. Harry, his family, and friends all have one. Hid it underneath your clothes or glamour it.” After he locked it around his neck and tucked into his shirt, he met her eyes.

 

“I’m really sorry that I hurt you.” She turned to the stairs with Caylee’s hand grasped in hers. Before the started down she looked over her shoulder, “ Now that your protected, I’m going to need your help.”

 

“Doing what?”

 

“Protecting Harry.” She whispered to him.  

Chapter Text

He was having trouble trying to find it. The source of the chords flowing through the halls and into the alcoves. Making yet another turn, he noticed that the sound was growing fainter once again and he turned back. Retracing his steps, he passed a trio of Hufflepuffs sitting in a windowsill petting a cat. The one in the middle was humming along to the tune that he couldn’t find.

 

He stopped at the stairwell, the music was louder here than the previous hall but it still sounded distant. He stepped into the stairwell. Instead of the music increasing in volume it seemed to be completely gone. Pursing his lips he stepped back into the hall. Then he noticed the window.

 

It was open slightly. The right panel was cracked open letting in the smell of dried leaves and morning dew. He walked over to it, pushing against the cool glass, his warm hands marking the material. As the window was pushed further open, more music seemed to enter the hall. He leaned out the open window.

 

There, looking through his greasy black hair, he found the source of the music. When he looked out, he found Harry sitting in a hammock in the courtyard. Unlike the last time Severus found the boy playing his guitar, he wasn’t singing. He was laying leisurely in the dark red fabric strumming along carelessly. Severus saw people greeted him as they walked past but none started up a conversation.

 

Harry’s robe was dangling off the side and was dancing with the breeze. It fluttered as he swayed slightly. His sleeves were rolled up and his glasses were lopsided on his face. Below him, the boy’s backpack was a sitting with the flap open and a few books were slowly starting to slide out.

 

Severus wanted to yell at the boy. He should be wearing his robe and possibly even a jacket. The weather has been turning colder as the season started to move into winter. Noticing the pink hue coloring the boy's fingers and face he started to call out before he stopped.

 

Albus was walking towards the boy. He was still a distance away but he could tell where he was headed. Apparently, Harry noticed as well. The music that was calming and comforting ceased once the boy noticed the approaching man. The boy had quickly hopped out of the hammock and spelled it down. In a flurry of hand waving the fabric was folded and flown into the bag. He quickly closed it and darted off, the headmaster calling after the boy. Harry made no acknowledgment of hearing him as he ran out the courtyard, the instrument slamming into his back with each rushed step.

 

That was odd, Severus mused. Why was the boy running from Dumbledore? Everyone else loved being in his presence. Something was missing. Severus wasn't sure but something seemed off. Like a wrong note in your favorite song. It’s was easy to miss the mistake but it was something you noticed. Severus wasn’t sure what he was missing but there was something. Otherwise, it wouldn’t feel as if his brain was fighting itself.

 

Then, as soon as the feeling of unease started to gain traction in him, it was gone. There was nothing wrong, his mind seems to demand. A boy just disregarded authority, it whispered to him. Nothing was missing. Nothing was wrong. Everything was the way it should be. A sensation of warmth radiated from the back of his head. Then there was a slight buzzing, like a wasp swarming around his head.

 

Severus shook his head. Why would something be wrong? He wandered back to the dungeons, his mind-erasing any lingering feelings of unnerving. There was nothing wrong but for some reason, he stopped in front of his locked cabinet. He wasn't sure why but his body had taken him to his most valuable potions. Ones that could clear the strongest charms and hexes. It wasn’t the first time that he had found himself standing there staring at the stained ebony wood. No, there were several occasions where he would blink and find himself in this exact spot. His eyes would start to dry out from him staring intently at the furniture with thin lines etched around the handles and hinges.

 

He walked back to his desk and opened his journal. Flipping to the most recent page, he dipped his quill and started to continue with the potion idea he had the night before. Once he was halfway down the next page, his narrow writing filling the yellowed paper, his door opened.

 

Of the guest he was expecting in his classroom, he did not imagine the Headmaster to be one of them. He would have guessed Harry, the over curious and ever questioning boy, had been wandering into his rooms more often. He had the drawer that was slowly filling with candy and random notes to prove it.

 

Part of him thought it would be Minerva, she had been starting come down for tea more often. She had been directed to a lovely tea shop in London by Miss. Granger. Severus had tried more types of tea in the past two weeks then he had in his whole life. He wasn’t entirely ungrateful, though his bladder may say otherwise, he had found a fruity white tea that seemed to put him at ease. The downside was the container he kept it in apparently wasn’t airtight and now his whole kitchen smells like a kids cereal.

 

Never thought there would be a day, but he did think it could have been Remus. Granted he hadn’t seen the man since yesterday when he dropped him off at the infirmary. Remus had made a few more appearances in his life since they started to search for answers. He would bring tales of his travels and offered Severus new locations to investigate for herbs and potion ingredients. Remus even mentioned a shop that he worked at for a short period of time that Severus had made plans to visit over the holidays.

 

It wasn’t any of those three that were in his doorway. No, it was Albus, standing there in maroon colored robes with gold trim. A flash of disdain popped up and vanished. It was so sudden that Severus didn’t even have time to register it in his own brain.

 

“Albus,” Severus greeted in a low voice. He quickly blew on the ink making sure it was dry before closing the journal. His pale fingers rested on the worn brown color. Fingertips settled on the embossed edge of his name.

 

“Good evening, Severus,” He walked further into the room, his robes bouncing against his legs with each step, “I hope I’m not interrupting anything.”

 

“Of course not” He drawled.

 

“I have noticed that you’ve built a relationship with Harry Potter.” Albus transfigured a chair on the opposite of his desk. Seating himself, he leaned back his fingers intertwining themselves in his lap. “Do you think that is wise?”

 

“I am merely teaching him the art of potions.”

 

“What if it got out that a former Death Eater was tutoring the Boy-Who-Lived? You would be a target, the boy would be even more of a target.” That feeling was back. He didn’t realize he felt it before until it popped back up. The Headmaster rarely brought up his past. There was a buzzing in the back of his head mixing in with the unease.

 

Severus didn’t know what to say. He wanted to tell Albus that of course, he would stop the extra sessions but something didn’t seem right about that. Why does it matter that he teaches the boy potions? “I think most people would see it as a teacher tutoring his student?” It should be a statement, why did it come out as a question?

 

“Of course that’s how you would think, but the world wants villains. They want someone to blame. They might just turn that blame you.”

 

“I have nothing to hide. It’s simple I’m teaching him.” Severus could feel anger rise in him. It was slow building, almost as if he wasn’t supposed to be getting angry.

 

“Are you sure you are just teaching him?” Albus accused. The unease in his head was so strong it was causing a headache. “I know you didn’t get along with his father but you should drop old grudges.”

 

“The boy is nothing like his father.” It was hard to get the words out. Albus was looking at him questionably when he said it as well. Squinted eyes were observing Severus as he seemed to struggle against himself.

 

“You seem to need help,” Albus informed him as he pulled out his wand. A rotten taste bloomed in his mouth and the feeling of nausea was unbearable. Severus shook his head at Albus.

 

“It’ll be fine. You just need to stop fighting against it,” He whispered to Severus across the table.

 

The buzzing in his head was becoming unbearable. It was overriding his senses. It felt like his mind was starting to crack. A battle was waging war in his skull. Rubbing his fingers against his temples he spoke harshly to the other man, “You need to leave.”

 

“I’m sorry if what I-”

 

“You need to leave!” He hissed at him. “I’m dealing with a massive headache and you need to leave.”

 

Albus watched him closely. Those blue eyes roamed over the pain that was etched into Severus’s face. His eyes were closed tightly and the fingers that were rubbing circles on the side of his head started to drag against his features.

 

“If you need anything, I’m here for you.” And then Albus was gone leaving the door slightly ajar.

 

Severus surged towards the cabinet. The chair fell and bounced against the cold stones of the dungeon. He quickly unlocked the doors and thrust his right arm into the compartment. He pushed all the brightly colored vials to the side looking for the miracle. It was in the very back, hidden behind two ocean blue healing potions. He wrapped his fingers around the vial and brought it to his face.

 

Don’t ! His mind was screaming at him. The buzzing and screaming made him want to bash his face against the walls. When he popped the cap of the black potion he nearly dropped it. His whole body was shaking and rebelling against the action of taking the potion. It was a miracle that he managed to swallow it.

 

After the second gulp slid down his throat, the buzzing stopped. He blinked. After a few moments of blinking, he felt wetness run down his cheeks, over his lips, and out his ears. He touched the liquid as an overwhelming sensation of dizziness overcame him. His finger was covered in the dark navy blue of a compulsion charm leaking out of his brain. Before his brain could register that he had just seen the release of the strongest compulsion charm, he had passed out.

Chapter Text

He shoved his bag up higher on his shoulder. Next, he switched his tea to his other hand and knocked on the door. He waited in front of the door, hearing someone behind it. After a few loud thumps, the door was wrenched open revealing Marly with a toothbrush in her mouth. She wasn't wearing any shoes and she had toothpaste all around her mouth. 

 

“Oh thank god, a Miracle.” She said through a mouth full of foamy toothpaste and a red plastic stick.

 

Raising his eyebrows he chuckled, “I don’t think I’ve been called that before.” Marly rolled her eyes in response and grabbed his forearm yanking him through the doorway. She stopped and turned with a confused look when he hissed in pain.

 

Remus moved his tea back to his other hand and started to shake the hot liquid off his hand. Marly darted into the bathroom under the stairs and grabbed a hand table and threw it towards him. He grabbed it out of the air and wiped his hand.

 

“Since I’ve met you,” Remus told her, “I’ve ended up wearing my tea more than ever in my life.”  He leaned into the doorway watching as Marly spit the toothpaste into the sink before running the water over the porcelain. She rinsed her mouth off and pat her hands and face off with a floral hand towel that was hanging next to the sink. She took the other towel from Remus and tossed it into a basket in the corner. 

 

“What are you doing today?” She pushed past him and he followed her up the stairs and into Caylee’s room. Caylee was sitting on a round rug with a bear sitting next to her and a blue stick with a yellow star attached to the end. She turned around when the two people entered the room and squealed when she saw Remus behind Marly. 

 

“Moose! Moose!” She started chanted as she got to her feet and ran towards him. Remus grabbed her under the arms and lifted her up and rested her on his hip. She shoved the blue stick towards him and twisted in her hand. Laughing he grabbed it and tapped it against her nose. She pried the item out of his hand and repeated the gesture to the man.

 

“How would you like to make some cash?” Marly asked Remus while pulling socks onto Caylee’s feet. She had taken the opportunity to finish dressing her while Remus was keeping her occupied.

 

“Um?” Remus looked at her and followed the blond as she walked around him and into the hallway.

 

“So apparently there was a bust at the daycare that Caylee was attending and I-” Marly started to explain.

 

“Bust?”

 

“One of the ladies was selling coke on the side.” Remus decided not to push the topic after the pissed off look that she gave and the growl the accompanied it. He went to tell her to continue the conversation but was stopped when Caylee slammed her wand down on his head. He jerked himself away and grabbed the toy away from her. Caylee laughed and tried to reach for it.

 

“Like I was saying,” Remus followed Marly down the stairs with a wiggling and giggling toddler in his arms. “You are really good with Caylee and she seems really taken with you. If you want to make some cash I was hoping you could babysit Caylee.”

 

“Yeah.” He didn’t realize he was saying it until the words tumbled out of his mouth, “I can watch Caylee for the day.” The wand that was in Caylee’s hand clattered to the floor. Before any of the adults to pick it up, Caylee had outstretched her arms and the toy flew into her grasp. Remus was impressed with the accidental magic.

 

“Oh thank the lord,” she murmured while looking up at the ceiling. “Okay,” She turned on her heel looking up to the man. She had to crane her neck a bit to meet his eyes. “Her oatmeal is in the fridge in a small blue container. Don’t warm it up, she hates warm oatmeal. She can use the bathroom mostly by herself, you just need to make sure she doesn’t fall in. No bell peppers, she is allergic. Don’t worry about putting her down for a nap, she will fall asleep when she’s tired no matter where she is. My work number is on the fridge. There is money in the cup cabinet in a yellow sippy cup.”

 

Remus blinked quickly as Marly started to rush the information at him. He listened closely trying to catch all the information as the woman pulled on black heeled boots. After straightening her shirt she pulled on a black blazer to cover her coral blouse. She had to untuck a gold necklace that had tucked itself into her shirt.

 

“There is a children’s reading this going on at the library, it’s at noon, there are bus passes in the top drawer of the desk in the kitchen. There is apple juice in the fridge, don’t let her convince you to buy grape juice she just spills it and It’s a pain to get out of the carpet.” She leaned towards the little girl and placed a kiss on her forehead.

 

“Oh!” She exclaimed, “There is a toy shop not too far from the library. You can take her there to look around. Take some money from the cup.” Marly pulled a bag over her shoulder, “Her thing right now is dinosaurs.” With that, she waved at the two in the hallway and left. The door clicking and locking behind her.

 

Remus looked down at Caylee when she started to squirm in his hold. She looked up to him, “Food!”

 

Placing the little girl on the floor he followed her into the kitchen. She walked to her chair and waited for Remus to pick her up and strap her into her booster. He pulled her food out of the fridge and opened a variety of drawers until he found the silverware. Popping open the container he set it down in front of the little girl.

 

“Do you need help or can you do it?” He asked her.

 

“I do it,” She smiled while grabbing the spoon. He realized his mistake when she lifted it up and looked at it. He glanced around. His eyes falling on the drying rack by the sink. He pulled out a bright green spoon that was smaller and handed it to the little girl. She smiled and shoved it into her food.

 

Breakfast was a quiet affair. Remus drank his tea while Caylee fed herself her oatmeal. He helped wash her up and get her to go to the bathroom. He was surprised when she shut the door on him saying she could do it herself. He stayed by the door just in case, which was a good call because she couldn’t reach the sink.

 

Caylee, for the next few hours, alternating between watching brightly colored cartoons and playing with a variety of stuffed toys. She insisted Remus holding on to a stuffed white seal. It was nestled in the crook of his arm. An orange fox has somehow made it underneath his leg. He pulled the stuffed animal out from his leg and bounced it off the child’s nose. She squealed and giggled.

 

When leaving the house, there was only one issue that arose. Caylee was adamant on putting her own shoes and coat on. There was a little battle when he tried to switch her shoes to the right feet but they had managed it. Now, Caylee was sitting on Remus’s lap holding a plastic T-Rex to her chest. Her shoes flashed with each step, a purple and pink light pulsing around the sparkling pink sneakers. 

 

Remus was talking to her absentmindedly while trying to avoid the cooing woman next to him. She wasn’t the only one, there was a woman on the other side of the bus was batting her eyelashes so much that, Remus honestly wondered if there was something in her eye. 

 

Unfortunately, they had to get off the bus several stops early. Caylee had gotten fed up with the woman next to him staring at them and Remus didn’t want to figure out how to tell the lady that it was the child that caused her purse to explode. Remus scolded the girl as she walked next to him, the T-Rex was dangling in her other hand. The little girl mumbled a sorry to Remus right before they walked into the library.

 

If Remus though the staring would stop on the bus, he was wrong. Several women had come up to him striking up conversations while placing their hands on his arms and shoulders. When the reading and dancing around was done, Remus had scooped the girl up and nearly ran from the library. He heard a couple of ladies try to stop him. He had to shush Caylee when she tried to point out the fact that people were calling at him.

 

He finally placed Caylee back on the floor when they arrived at the toy shop. She ran towards the third isle once she had gotten her footing. Pushing his hair back, he found Caylee pushing herself up on to her tippy toes trying to reach a dinosaur the was on the third shelf.

 

“What do you find?” Remus asked the girl.

 

“Rawr!” She yelled trying to push herself up higher.

 

Chuckling, Remus pulled the toy down and presented it to her. She cried out happily and started moving its tail. Remus turned back to the shelf and stopped.  He reached out and grabbed a box that was dark with a moon printed in the corner. There was plastic on the front revealing a werewolf figurine. It looked as if it was stalking something unseen.

 

“Dat’s like Daddy,” Caylee told Remus.

 

“Hmm?” Remus moved the box so he could see the child’s face.

 

“Dat’s like my Daddy.” She pointed at the picture on the side.

 

Remus looked between the box and child, “Is your Dad a werewolf?”

 

She put her finger to her mouth in a gesture of silence. He leaned down, his right knee popping as he did so. She watched him as their eyes leveled. He pushed her dark hair from her face, tucking it behind her ear.

 

“Caylee,” Remus whispered to her, “Are you a werewolf?” Suddenly her eyes widen and she looked ready to run. Before she got to upset he leaned closer to her, “It’s okay. I am one too.” When the words fell out his mouth he could see her relax. The panic was replaced with curiosity and she turned back to the box in his hands.

 

“Do you want the dinosaur?” He asked.

 

The conversation that they just had was gone from her mind. She gave him a huge smile and held up the tan plastic toy. Remus laughed at her antics and grabbed the toy from her placing the other one back on the shelf. She happily skipped next to him as they made their way to the register.

 

The conversation of werewolves never came back up between the two. He did let his mind mull over the knowledge as they ate a late lunch. He even thought it about it as Caylee fell asleep on his shoulder on their way back to the house. It was late when they got back, nearly four o’clock.

 

Caylee was awake now, but she was moving slowly as if she was half asleep. She talked nonsense to the older werewolf. Most the words were slurred together and he had no idea what they meant. Other words he would hook onto and have a small conversation.

 

Right as the child’s feet met the concrete front porch, the front door opened. Marly scooped up the girl and gave her a big hug and kiss. The girl showed her the new toy.

 

“Moose is a werewolf,” Caylee stated matter of factly. Remus froze. He felt his heart stop in his chest and his blood run cold. He didn't think about the consequences of telling the little girl his secret until now. 

 

Marly smiled at the girl, “I know.”

Chapter Text

Trying to open his eyes was proving to be difficult. His eyelids felt heavy and wouldn't respond to what his brain was trying to tell them. That wasn't the only thing that was amiss when he tried to pull himself to the conscious world. It seemed all of his senses weren't responding correctly.

Everything that he was hearing seemed to be happening under water. The rustling to his side, he wasn't sure if it was his left or right, was warped and was loud at some points and undetectable at others. When someone spoke, he wasn't sure if they were trying to talk to them, seemed to rapidly change in pitch. If he was fully awake and knew what was happening, the distorted voices that seemed to emerge from his deepest nightmares would have made him lash out it fear. He was stuck listening to the horrifying voices penetrate his mind asking him if he was okay. He wasn't sure what was worse, that the voice sounded like it was coming from hell or that it seemed to be concerned for him.

 

The whole experience was hellish if he was honest. Partnering the voices with and the non-responding body was bad. What made him wish for death was he didn't know where he was. This wasn't a location question, no, it was more of a question of if he was even alive. He couldn't feel anything above him, nor nothing below him. His body seemed to be riding a wave. He felt like he was tumbling. When it felt like he got his bearings, he was jerked to the side. Every time it felt like he was corrected, he body was twisted in another direction than his limbs. It reminded him of when he was little and he watched the laundry roll around in the drum of the dryer.

 

A new voice came to him right as a new wave threw his body in another direction. It was as high pitched as the one before. It was sharp as glass or making him want to drive his wand into his ear. It wasn't pleasant either. It was warped and certain vowels seemed to sound higher than the rest of the voice. A constant up and down of trying to listen to the voice. It was talking to him about something. He tried to focus on the message and not the voice.

 

"Marly sent mail earlier," The voice gargled at him in the void around him. Marly? Did he know a Marly?

 

"Remus has become Caylee's full-time babysitter." There was a sense of familiarity for the names he was hearing. He couldn't place it. Trying to recall his memories was painful and it made the endings of his nerves surge with pain.

He couldn't make out every sentence that was said. Sometimes the voice was too distorted to understand and other times it was too far away. There were even times where it didn't seem distorted but right next to him. It was familiar but he could place it. He could feel pain, one that was deep and ached, a pain that was forged from sadness.

 

"You need to wake up, Professor." This time it sounded normal. It sounded right next to him.

He tried to latch onto it. The small sound of a boy, one who was sad and sounded lost. Propelling himself forward he searched for the voice in the darkness. Hoping it would manifest as a light, something, anything to break through the emptiness. He felt like he was making progress when he was jerked backward.

He fought against it, but it's pull was strong. It was dragging him down, then it was swishing him to the side. He couldn't fight something he couldn't see, something he couldn't touch. Twisting his body in an attempt to free himself of the invisible grip, he felt something different. It was warm, a stark contrast to the cold that touched every part of his body.

 

He looked down at his forearm, finding the source of the warmth, and saw a glowing golden handprint. It was wrapped loosely around his limb. He placed his other hand over it and closed his eyes focusing on the feeling. It was warm and fresh. The more he focused on it, the warmer he felt. A scent accompanied it, freshly squeezed oranges and fresh grass overtook him. He focused on the scent next, letting it overtake him and soothe him. Instead of the feeling of being dragged down, he was being lifted.

 

Before he could register that he was being thrust forward, he was blinking. It took a few minutes for him to realize he was laying down. He was staring up at the stone ceiling of the infirmary. The shadows flickered on the walls from the flames of the candle. In the distance, he could hear paper rustling and footsteps.

 

His body was heavy and stiff. Turning to the side was painful and caused him to groan. It rumbled painfully in his chest as he did so. When he managed to turn his head completely, he found a sleeping student with skewed glasses. Harry was laying on his arm, his hand resting on his forearm. The boy’s uniform was wrinkled and crumpled where he was leaning against the bed. His face was scrunched up and his nose was twitching as he dreamed.

 

“You’re awake,” His eyes slid of the sleeping boy and found a blonde with dark bags under her eyes. He hair was messy and pushed up into a messy pile on the top of her head.

 

“Delana?” His voice came out cracked. It was barely above a whisper. He winced at the dry sound.

 

“You’ve been out for several days now,” She told him as she carded her fingers through Harry’s hair. He started to stir under her touch. Her eyes flickered down to the boy and she gave him a quick smile.

 

“What happen?”

 

“You broke a very strong compulsion charm.” She walked up to him and moved her illuminated wand past his eyes. “You did the impossible Severus Snape, You broke free of the Headmaster’s control all by yourself.”

 

At that moment Harry seemed to wake up. He rubbed his eyes with the back of his hands. He yawned and stared at his professor before his eyes widen and he darted forward. The boy wrapped his arms around the man and squeezed him comfortably.

 

Shocked, the man patted the boy’s hair. He hasn’t been hugged in the longest time and he couldn’t quite remember where to place his hands or how to react. There was a warmth to the hug. The nostalgia of his mother’s hugs hit him so hard that Severus had to blink rapidly to stop the onslaught of watering eyes. Harry’s hugs were tight and refreshing. The feeling reminded him of wrapping up in a favorite blanket. It was calming. It eased him in a way he didn’t know was possible.

 

“Harry,” Delana spoke softly to the boy, “You need to get back to your common room.” When the boy’s eyes flicked from his mother to his teacher, she placed her arm on his shoulder and bent down to meet his eyes. “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of him.”

 

With a quick nod, he turned to his professor, “Feel better soon.” Turning on the heel of his foot he rushed out the infirmary doors. The clicking could be heard mixed with the snoring children in the infirmary.

 

“You need to wear this,” She dropped a small necklace into the palm of Severus’s hand. He looked at the crystal that was set in a swirl of metal and strung on black card. He thumbed the smooth light blue crystal as Delana pulled up a chair and sat next to the man.

 

“What is it?”

 

Delana pulled an identical necklace out from underneath her robes. “It is a protection crystal. It keeps you protected against compulsion charms and potions. It also prevents you from being oblivated.”

 

“Who put the charm on me?” He asked as he struggled to clasp the item around his necklace. Delana leaned over and took control of the action.

 

“I can give you one guess,” Severus looked past Delana to see a man with light brown hair and hazel eyes. It took longer than Severus cared to admit to putting a name to the face. It was John Abbott, Delana’s husband, and the children’s parents.

 

The man had a short beard that was neatly trimmed. Severus instantly knew where Hannah, had gotten her eyes from, while the mother had hooded eyes, their father had wide eyes with thick eyelashes. There was a scar that ran from his right ear to the bottom of his chin, thinking back, Severus could recall that the injury came from Bellatrix when she was in her fifth year. Unlike his wife, his nose turned upwards at the end. Hannah must have gotten her mother’s facial structure, seeing as John’s cheeks sunk in slightly.

 

“Albus?” He guessed tiredly.

 

“Yes,” Delana replied while she waved her wand in circular patterns above his head. He watched the movement for a moment before his eyes flicked back to John.

 

“We’ve been slowly trying to break his reach. It’s very difficult. We have yet to find a countercurse and all the potions we try have failed. So far we found that concussions break the spell and death. There was talk of a complicated ritual but we haven’t found the details.”

 

“Death?!” Severus gaped at the man, he ignored the last sentence the man said.

 

“That didn’t come out right,” John admitted, “Reviving a person, I think would be a better way to explain it.” Severus just blinked at the extreme measures that had to be taken at break whatever was put on him by the Headmaster.

 

“That’s why we are so interested in you right now.” Delana spoke up, bringing Severus’s attention back to her, “You broke it without doing neither of those.” She sat back into the chair that she had dragged over. “How did you do it?”

 

“I had a potion that can purge the body of any magic. It removes curses, jinxes, hexes, you name it. It’s very rare and extremely expensive to make.” His voice was taking on his neutral tone again. The dryness in his throat was dissipating. “Some ingredients are only grown in certain countries. Some have a hefty price tag. Other’s take rituals just to obtain.”

 

“Can you make it?” John asked while he rubbed his wife’s tight shoulders.

 

“It what got me my Mastery,” Severus confirmed.

 

Delana looked up at her husband and smiled. “Contact Marly, it’s time for them to meet The Collective.”

Chapter Text

His hands were resting lazily on Marly’s knees. With his head tilted back against the couch, he was struggling to keep his eyes open. The full moon was tonight. That coupled with the fact that he ate too much of the orange chicken that Marly brought back with her after she left work, he was surprised he wasn’t already drooling on the couch.

 

When he tried to leave after eating the most food he had in years, Marly grabbed his wrist and told him that he was staying. When he told her that he had to go and prepare for the night, she told him that she had something set up.

 

“Where?”

 

“With my work,” He again wondered what she did, but just like all the other times he asked, he got no solid answer. “I take Caylee there every full moon. Trust me?” Though he would have opposed a week ago, their dynamic had changed.

 

The more she revealed to him, slow as she did, he found that his trust has previously been placed in the wrong hands. Where he used to blindly follow his old mentor without questions, Marly explained her requests. She had evidence to back up what she claimed. The one thing that Remus really enjoyed about Marly that Albus didn’t think about was, she had options. She had back up plans. She didn’t just sit behind a desk and throw out orders, she put herself in the middle. She got her hands dirty and refused to ask anyone to do anything she wouldn’t.

 

Throughout the week and a half that he had babysat the toddler, he learned a lot about the blonde who likes to wear patterned blouses and heeled boots. He learned that she had three older brothers, apparently, that was where she learned how to punch, and she was the only daughter. She was also the only magical being in her family. Once she was accepted into Ilvermorny for her education, she had moved from Colorado to Massachusetts and donned blue and cranberry robes. She was claimed as a Wampus and quickly learned everything about magic that she could.

 

She had told Remus that she met her best friend the first night in her dorm room.  It was tall and very tan, Alona Locklear. She had long thick hair and a smile that could light up the room. Instantly the two bonded when they found out there were both from Colorado. Marly said Greely as her home while Alona lived with her Native American father on the reserve.

 

That was the start of her story. He slowly learned more about Marly and Caylee as through the week. Marly couldn’t start her day without chugging two cups of coffee. Caylee was a morning person who would get upset if Remus didn’t take the bite of oatmeal she offered. He also found that Caylee actually didn’t like grape juice, she just asked for it so she could dump it on the floor. After the second time, Remus refused to buy her the juice no matter how long she stuck her bottom lip out at him.

 

The three of them have become quite comfortable. Remus was given a key to the home, Marly had started to stock his favorite tea in her cupboard and Caylee had learned to fake a stomach when a random woman started to put her hands on Remus. Remus also found out that Caylee maybe a future Slytherin when she declared the only way to fix her fake stomach aches were with goldfish crackers.

 

It took him twenty minutes to find those at the store.

 

Remus could confidently say he was happy. His life really wasn’t what he was expecting when he was a kid but he was comfortable. He had a paycheck going into his bank every other Friday. He didn’t even use up all the money from each paycheck, so a cushion was slowly forming. He had a friend, even if they did have a rough start, who didn’t care what he was. He wasn’t worried about where his next meal was coming from. It was better than he thought he would ever get.

 

It would be even better if Marly wasn’t insisting on him getting a new wardrobe and visiting the dentist. Seeing as she was supplying his funds he would bite his tongue and push through it. He could see the long term benefits after all.

 

“We should leave in about a half hour,” Marly mumbled looking down at the project in her hand. She had a crochet needle pulling gray yarn through holes. She tried to get Remus to try and he ended up knotting the project and the yarn broke when he attempted to straighten it out.

“How are we getting there?” Remus asked the woman. Caylee looked away from the TV at the two and blinked tiredly at them. She was struggling to stay awake. If they took Marly’s car he knew she would be asleep by the time they got to the end of the street.

 

Remus was right. He looked back at the toddler who was strapped into a car seat after a few turns and her head was resting on her shoulder. Her mouth was open and her dark hair was slowly moving to cover the child’s face. He tried to maneuver her head to prevent a kink but she was sitting directly behind him and he couldn’t reach her that well.

 

“Just leave her,” Marly told him as she made another turn, “Kids are made to sleep in weird positions.” Remus chuckled and straighten himself as she pulled up to a large concrete building with thick iron gates. She pulled up to the guard and handed over a badge and spoke in a friendly manner to the man. He passed the badge back before handing her a separate package that she threw onto Remus’s lap. He threw his hands out and caught it before it bounced onto the floor of the car.

 

“You’ll have to fill that out in the morning and get your photo taken.” After she said that, everything became crazy. He doesn't remember when but a sleeping Caylee was put into his arms and he was walked through several checkpoints.

 

If Marly was talking to him, he didn’t notice. He was watching everything around him. He saw people dressed in muggles clothes, tribal patterns, and some wearing very reflective material. He saw people with blue skin. He saw people with cat eyes, some had scales on their face, some looked more like animals, some had several extra limbs. From the way he was looking around his rapidly, Remus was surprised he didn’t have whiplash.

 

Then he was in a room. Turning behind him, he noticed Marly wasn’t there. He pulled Caylee tighter to his chest and looked around the room full of tired people. Some were older than him, some his age holding children as he did, and some were younger standing alone. To his right two teenagers were leaning against the wall, loosely holding hands. The boy had two piercing in his lips and the girl had a tattoo on her neck the disappeared below her collar.

 

“Hello,” A woman shorter than him with green lines on her face appeared in front of him, “You must be Remus. Marly told us you would be joining the transformation tonight.” She looked down, her green hair that was pulled into a tight ponytail tickled past her ear. “Hi, Caylee.” She cooed.

 

Caylee blinked at the woman before smiling and reaching her hand out. The woman, who Remus still didn’t know the name of, placed a vial in her hand. The child drank it and gave the glass container back to the lady. She took it in her left hand and gave Remus a vial with her right.

 

He took it and looked at the liquid inside. It was purple and there seemed to be varying shades of purple swirling around in the vial. He tilted it and is slowly moved to one side. He looked back to the woman. “What is it?”

 

“It’s a concoction that erases the pain of transformation. Everyone here takes it.” She replied patiently waiting.

 

He took a deep breath and shot the liquid back. It wasn’t horrible. It didn’t make him gag but he did scrunch his face up. Not something he would willingly drink in his free time. He gave the bottle back to the woman, “If purple had a taste, that would be it.”

 

She laughed and pocket the vial. “My name is Ay-Ka. I am a scientist in the Transformation unit. We work with people, or species,” She added as she directed him to two large metal doors. She moved to the side in front of a large glass window. “That transform. Werewolves are one of those species. Everyone that is here and not in a lab coat is a Werewolf. They either know someone who is in The Collective, like yourself, works here or has family that works here.”

 

Remus glanced around the room seeing about twenty-five different people waiting. Some were talking to each other while others were talking with a lab coat.

 

“This is just for our London office,” Ay-Ka told him. “We have several offices in the UK. People usually go to the office they work at.”

 

“There’s a lot of werewolves,” He murmured looking around. Caylee had wiggled out of his arms and walked over two a blonde boy that was her height.

 

Ay-Ka chuckled, “You should see our Shanghai location. Last moons attendance was a hundred-sixteen there.” Hearing that Remus’s eyes widen.

 

“You don’t care? That they are you know?” He waved his hand trying to think of the word.

 

“Different?” She asked with a raised green eyebrow, “I think that would be hypocritical of me.” When she saw Remus’s question look she answered, “I’m from a different planet. I was exiled because I was born with a mutation that allowed me to change into one of our most feared predators on that planet.” She looked around the room, “But it’s not about me right now. I would get ready for your change.”

 

When she walked away Remus found Caylee sitting on the floor rolling a ball between the blonde boy she found earlier and a young girl wearing a hijab. They weren’t talking just enjoying each other's company. Right as he reached down and grabbed Caylee the large metal doors open revealing a forest behind them.

 

He followed the others in what turned out to be a dome. He, like all the others, left his shoes and outer clothes at the door. Instead of hearing the cracking of bones he used to on nights like these, he heard the rushing wind. The others seemed to just change effortlessly into their other form. He set Caylee down who swiftly changed into a small black wolf that ran up to two smaller ones.

 

Suddenly Moony was running. There were werewolves running beside him chasing bunnies and squirrels. He was bouncing around with a little wolf. He was howling at the moon with the others. Not once, did he bite or scratch himself.

 

In the morning when he woke, sleeping on a bed, he didn’t have any pain. He wasn’t overly tired. He felt free and comfortable. That was until Marly appeared at his bedside.

 

“I think it’s time you learned what happened to Harry.”

Chapter Text

Rubbing at his eyes, Remus took the ceramic cup in front of him and wrapped his long fingers around it. Steam rose slowly from the rim twisting and turning in front of him. There was a soft fruity aroma coming from the liquid. When passed a small packet of sugar he quickly ripped the package and dumped the contents into the cup.

 

Marly was flipping through the pack that she threw at him yesterday. While he stirred the sugar into his the cup, Marly scribbled her initials and signature next to his through the stapled stack of papers. After checking over the last page, she flipped it closed and pulled the next stack next to his arm. This packet had a blue cover and was filled with non-disclosure agreements and other compliance contracts through it.

 

Waiting for her to finish reading through the packet, he grabbed his new badge and hit it against the metal table. He rotated between his fingers and tapped it against the table again. He kept rotating and tapping it until Marly hit his fingers. He flicked his eyes over to Marly and seeing the annoyed expression he laid it flat. His image that he took hours ago was staring at the ceiling.

 

“Sign here,” Marly pushed a single sheet over to him. He read through it. It was talking about enrolling him into the Werewolf Run monthly. He signed and dated the sheet before sliding it back to the woman.

 

“You have bananas on your shirt,” Remus said before sipping his tea.

 

“Yeah,” She looked down at the light cream blouse with the repeated images of bananas over it. “It’s really ugly and I love it.” She smiled when Remus snorted. “Plus my oldest brother got it for me so I like to wear it when I miss him.”

 

“Isn’t that sweet,” Remus said with a half smile. He watched as Marly collected all the papers and packets and tapped them against the table straightening them. Aster quickly tapping against a black rectangle, she explained it was a tablet, a woman with dark skin and silver markings all along her body walked in and took the pile.

 

“Weren’t you going to tell me about Harry?”

 

“We are waiting for Severus to finish his paperwork.”

 

Remus sat up straighter. “Severus is here?”

 

“Yes. He was brought here yesterday after lunch to make sure his compulsion was completely broken.” The door opened and the woman that had come and taken the stacks of paper was back. She handed over a small stack of newspapers before leaving again. Marly passed over The Prophet while she opened one from London.

 

Remus really didn’t read the paper. He thumbed through the yellowed paper paying little attention to the moving photos. The front story was about the Minister attending a charity event. When he opened the spread Marly glanced up, “That man’s an idiot.”

 

Remus folded the corner of the paper towards him. The image of the minister became distorted causing the image to stare at him. “While I agree,” He started, “Why do you say that?”

 

Marly waved her hand dismissively, “He’s easily manipulated and can’t think for himself.” She then chuckled to herself, “I bed his Patronus is a panda.”

 

Remus folded her paper and set it on the table, “A panda?”

 

“Pandas are useless!” She cried out, “They eat 9 hours a day and have no defense. Pandas will kill their own children because they are too stupid to realize it’s their child. If it wasn’t for human involvement they would have gone extinct.”

 

Remus’s body was shaking while he tried to not laugh out loud. It wasn’t the first time the Marly shot off into a random rant, but it was one of the more funnier ones. Her hands and arms were flailing around her as she rapidly shot words out of her mouth to defend her case.

 

“So yes, I believe the panda perfect matches the minster. Just image summoning one and it just sits there.” She finished by taking a sip of her coffee.

 

“What’s your Patronus?”

 

“A ram,” She nodded proudly as she told Remus.

 

“Okay,” Remus said dropping his arms flat on the table, “That fits you perfectly though.”

 

She shot him a smile, “Yours?”

 

“Wolf.” He said quickly.

 

“Is that before or after the charm was broken?”

 

Remus opened to his mouth to speak then stopped. He hadn’t cast that spell since beforehand. He had no reason. He was about to say something when the door opened loudly.

 

John Abbott walked in first and set a box on the table with a loud  thud. Delana was through the door next and set another box down, much softer than John had. Behind both of them was Severus who was struggling with carrying several drinks. Though they couldn’t see it from his black robes, he had spilled a little of John’s drink on his left forearm.

 

‘What took so long?” Marly asked sliding the box that Delana had placed on the table. She pooped the lid off and started to finger through the files. She grabbed several folders and dropped them onto the table.

 

“One,” John started motioning for Severus to sit on the other side of Remus, “someone couldn’t decide what to drink.” Remus could hear Severus mumble about not knowing what a latte was as he sat down. If John heard him, he ignored him. “Two, Daye wanted to do a scan of Severus’s mark.”

 

“Ah?” Marly peeked up quickly meeting John’s eyes before looking back into the box.

 

“Yeah, They think they can remove it. It’ll take a few sessions to unstitch it from his magic and cells.” He pulled a chair out for Delana before he himself sat next to his wife. The door opened and Amelia Bones walked in with a tired expression. She didn’t say anything as she sat at the end of the table between Delana and Marly.

 

“That’s exciting.” Marly slid the box away. “We,” marly motion between herself and Remus, “we're talking about patronuses.” She paused, “Patroni?” Turning to Remus he shrugged his shoulders.

 

“Anyway,” She slid a small packet to the two men. “More NDAs!” Yay!” She exclaimed with false excitement. Both men grumbled but took the packet and signed after reading.

 

While they signed them Marly made a quick comment which would leave Severus and Remus questioning themselves. “I wonder when the charm was put on you. If it was when you were very young, I don’t know,” She stopped and looked at Delana. “Would they develop normally or?”

 

“The charm,” Delana started very calmly, “is complex and has a lot of unknowns. If the charm is placed on a child the child’s behavior would develop and reflect what the caster wants. If it’s placed on adults it just affects actions and thinking to cause a shift in personality. It can be identified. With children, they are still growing into themselves. That makes it harder to identify.”

 

Both men’s pens stilled, “There is no way to tell who he affects at Hogwarts.”

 

Delana nodded as Severus's words, “That’s why we are going to recreate that potion and sneak it into the school.”

 

They went quite again. Marly took the signed papers and placed them in the box she dug through earlier. She then pulled out a recording device. She placed it in the middle of the table and turned it on.

 

“What we are discussing today is an ongoing investigation. You are being informed about such an investigation because you have been authorized to help the cause. Everything said about this case stays in this room. No files can be taken or discussed outside of this room. You can not speak to anyone about this case that is not in this room.

 

“You will be given a cover story at the end to tell people if they ask. You have been given charms to protect your mind and body. You will be given a potion that will render truth serum useless after you have been briefed.

 

“Failure to comply with these terms with result in legal action, memory wipes, and life-altering consequences. Are there any questions?” When both men verbally answered ‘no’, she continued.

 

“We will start with the medical reports from August 9th, 1989,” With that, she touched a button on the side of the table. The glass in the middle light up and she place two thick films on to the glass. Remus and Severus leaned in. “These are are X-rays showing the head trauma of Harry James Potter after being rushed to the hospital.”

 

Remus tapped the side view of Harry’s skull, “What’s that?”

 

“That is a steel pipe. “ Amelia spoke up for the first time. “More accurately, that is the steel pipe that Harry’s Uncle speared through his skull.”

 

The color drained from the men's face. The stared at the white object that he been thrust through the child’s skull. Remus’s breath was shaky and Severus’s mouth had gone dry. They couldn’t take their eyes off the films in front of them.

 

“It was a miracle. Where did it hit? It was a surprise he was still alive. They are still trying to figure out how he is able to walk.” Delana told the men.

 

Marly then pulled out more images. Images of the scene of the house from that night. Some were of the floor where they had found Harry laying unmoving. Some of the cupboard under the stairs. Some were of strange spots found in the back shed.

 

Then the images from his injuries were brought out. There were more X-Rays, photos of stitches, photos of broken bones and bruises. There were scans of his brain. There were photos of the boy lying motionless on the bed with tubes coming out his mouth and going into his veins.

 

Severus had to ask for a break halfway through the medical images. He was looking quite green. John gave him a stomach soother and a glass of water. After hearing the intense breathing from Remus, he decided it was best to give one to the werewolf as well.

 

After color had returned to their faces she pulled out a black box. “Maybe we should get the recordings out of the way now,” Marly told them before pressing the play button.

Chapter Text

He was rubbing his hands in a circular motion on his temples. The migraine that had formed was making his eyes cross. His mouth was dry and if you looked closely you could see the small tremors in his fingers. You would see how his shoulders were slumped ever so slightly. How his eyes were dull and sad. How he had to stop and blink back tears that were lining up behind his eyelids.

 

He thought there would be kids in the courtyard. That someone would be playing a game. He had hoped that there would be noise, chatter, singing, anything to cover the echoing of screams in his ears. It had been several hours since they revealed the audio but it was still blasting loudly through his brain. He had to stop on several occasions and whip his head around when he thought he heard a scream. It was just his mind. Repeating the horrific sounds over and over.

 

He dug his blunt nails into the palm of his hand to focus on something besides the images that kept popping into his mind. Small droplets of blood had formed into his palm. He dragged his nails inward focusing on the pain. He was so focused on not hearing the horrors, that he didn’t hear someone walk up behind him.

 

“Professor?” Severus jumped slightly. He turned and looked down to see Harry looking at him questioningly. The boy’s tie was undone and dangling loosely off his shoulders. His top two buttons were undone. Not only did the little puffs of air coming from his mouth indicated the cold weather but also the pink tinge of color on the apples of his cheeks. “Professor, Are you okay?”

 

He didn’t know what possessed him to surge forward and pull the boy into his body but he was happy to do so. It reassured him that he was alive. That he was no longer there. He was whole and alive. When Harry returned the hug he squeezed ever so slightly. He could feel the small thumbing of the boy's heart. Small huffs of breath warmed his torso where the child’s face was buried.

 

“I’m sorry,” Severus whispered into the boy’s hair, “I’m so sorry. I should have been there. I should have asked questions. I should have-”

 

“You couldn’t.” Came Harry’s muffled response. “The charm wouldn’t have let your mind go there.” Harry pulled back looking at his professor. His glasses were slightly crooked. “I don’t blame you for what you couldn’t do. It’s not your fault so you shouldn’t hold the guilt.”

 

Severus straighten the thick frames of his student, “Quite wise of you.”

 

“I learned a lot through therapy,” His shoulder raised and dropped. “I had to learn that I didn’t deserve it. That I wasn’t in the wrong.”

 

He started to open his mouth but stopped at Harry’s shivers. He turned the boy around and pushed him into the castle. He didn’t notice Minerva standing there until they reached the steps. She was looking at the two with raised eyebrows. He noticed she started to say something but he shook his head cutting her off.

 

“Oh! Professor?” Harry caught Minerva’s attention. “Wood all has a similar structure, is it possible to permanently transfigure one type of wood into another? Wouldn’t you be able to effectively make a walnut trunk with the use of a pine? I know walnut is a Hardwood. You could decrease labor by using softwood and-”

 

“Mister Potter, I’m surprised you know so much about wood,” Minerva said. Severus gave her a look as if to say ‘Really?’. She ignored the look, “Though you could potentially change it, all transfiguration have a duration limit. It may take many years but the wood would slowly deteriorate back into it’s original-”

 

“Could the combination of a preservation rune weaved in to eliminate the aspect?” Harry interrupted as Severus cast a light warming charm. He had tried to herd the child away from the doorway but he just moved back.

 

Minerva blinked. “It could possibly work.”

 

“Fantastic!” He breathed out, “Jason would love to know about this. I’ll have to do some research.” Severus was going to ask who Jason was, but Harry had already walked away from the two. He quickly walked after the boy catching up.

 

“How about we go to my office?” Severus suggested as Harry whispered ideas under his breath.

 

“Hm? Oh, okay.” Harry smiled and followed the potion master at the next turn. Severus could hear Harry mumbling behind him. From the excited whispers, he was talking about mixing runes with transfiguration.  

 

Severus realized that Harry’s mind was always active. He always searched for new information. He was always ready to have a question. As the bound down the stairs he realized something, Harry didn’t have his notebook. The hardcover book that was always in his bag or under his arm was missing. It was very odd to see Harry without it, it seemed unnatural.

 

“No notebook?” Severus asked as he opened the door for Harry.

 

A slight pink color appeared on his cheeks before he spoke, “I filled out all the notebooks that I brought to school.”

 

“How many did you bring?”

 

“Eight,” Harry mumbled.

 

“You’ve gone through eight full-sized notebooks already? You’ve been in classes for about two months,” Severus pushed a mug to Harry. There was a chip on the rim and the string of the tea bag sat perfectly in the groove.

 

“I had several ideas that just kept moving to more ideas.” Severus chuckled at the boy.

 

“You seem different,” Harry said to his professor. “It happens a lot after the charm breaks,” He stated matter of factly. “The revert back to who they are truly are.”

 

Harry wasn’t wrong. Since he woke up in the hospital wing he felt different. The coldness that seemed to seep into his bones was gone. The urge to snap and snarl at the students vaporized. His patience had seemed to increase. He was pretty sure Neville nearly had a heart attack when he came up to the boy and demonstrated how to properly crush pixie wings. He had gotten several weird looks but after the boy’s potion came out passable no one decided to say anything against it.

 

Severus felt happy. He was enjoying his brewing again. The conversations that he was having with Minerva were enjoyable. He had taken Filius up on his invites for tea. He went out of his way to talk with Pomona in her greenhouse. He even was enjoying the flirting banner that he had started with Sinistra. The giggles that he was able to get out of her put a smile on his face.

 

He started to enjoy the small things too. He walked outside more, a small tan had started to form on his skin. He started to wear more colors, blues and greens started to break the black streak. He was even thinking about just wearing slacks and button downs on the weekend. He would have to make a stop and buy some more shirts though.

 

The staff had noticed the change. Minerva has asked him what brought it on. Instead of telling her the truth he looked at her and softly said, “I wasn’t allowed to enjoy life before. I need to do some catching up.” She responded with a confused expression before walking away.

 

“I am different.” He agreed with the boy who was slowly stepping sideways to the bookshelf. It was a game that they had started after the third time Harry came in to brew. He would slowly sneak over to the personal collections of text that Severus kept in his lab, the goal was to see how close he could get before being caught. Whenever Severus noticed him by the shelves he would call him out and get laughter in response.

 

After taking another small step to the side Harry nodded his head, “You seem to be enjoying things now. It’s weird, isn’t it? To not be able to enjoy anything then suddenly be allowed to?”

 

Severus stopped tipping his tea bag when he heard that. The written reports and audio recordings of Harry confessing that he didn’t know what to do, sprung to his mind. The boy knew how to cook and clean, how to avert his eyes, how to be quiet and blend into the shadows and be forgotten. When he was asked about his likes and dislikes not only did he become extremely confused, but he panicked.

 

From what John and Delana had said, Harry always looked over his shoulder when they started visiting to take care of him. They were an ideal family, Delana a healer and John a therapist. They would be able to help him find himself. They knew he needed constant reassurance, he was going against everything he was taught. With the help of their little girl, numerous therapist appointments, physical therapy, a dietician, and a stray cat, Harry learned how to be a child.

 

He remembers the tape where Harry confessed that he didn’t understand playing with friends. He never experienced it. He was so nervous, his voice cracked over the tape when he admitted he was afraid he’d do it wrong. Those questions had made deflate in his chair. “What if they don’t like the game I suggest? Will they hit me? What if they think I’m freaky? Why would you run around for fun, isn’t someone chasing you? You can like different things than your friends?”

 

Harry never had friends. Harry never played with kids his own age. He ran from them. He hid from them. He never spoke to them. The tapes revealed he was never taught. His social skills were non-existent. Hannah, apparently, was the miracle who was able to fix that.

 

“Certainly strange,” Severus mumbled after pulling himself out of his thoughts.

 

“Did they just show you the reports or did you get the entire package?” Harry asked halfway to the bookcase.

 

“All of it,” Severus admitted.

 

“Don’t pity me,” Harry demanded.

 

“I wasn’t planning on it,” He responded. Harry had managed to make his way to the bookshelf. He was an arm's length away. Severus straightened up and called out him. Unlike the other times, Harry didn’t start to laugh and walk back. No, he was staring at a shelf right below his eye level. It was one that Severus would put texts on he didn’t plan on reading. The lower the shelf, the less important the texts became.

 

“Harry,” Severus called again as the boy walked to the bookshelf. He started pulling books off and stacking them neatly on the floor. Severus made his way over to his student. Harry had reached into the shelf and he heard thumping before a box came into view as Harry pulled his hand back.

 

The potion master reached for it but Harry had already flipped the lid open to reveal dozens of small vials. Each vial held a swirling memory. Severus just stared at the box confused.

 

Who’s memories are in the box?

Chapter Text

Remus couldn’t help but wonder how much he had changed. He would sit on the loveseat while Caylee was taking a nap and just stare blankly at the wall. Not seeing anything but thinking. Wondering who he was. Wondering if he had ever got the chance to be himself.

 

Soft breathing and the wind outside was the only thing that was making noise. It helped his thoughts flow. There was nothing to distract him. Nothing to take his mind off the questions that had haunted his every waking moment since he learned of the charm. They begged loudly for answers, ones that he didn’t have. One that he was terrified he would never figure out.

 

Marly had started to throw him more and more glances. They would be filled with concern. Sometimes she looked at him with pity. Every time she did he would narrow his eyes at her, challenging her. Instead of looking guilty she would smirk and raise an eyebrow, an invitation of sorts.

 

Caylee shifted and rolled against the barrier he through up on the couch so she wouldn’t fall. He stumbled upon the book when he was trying to find Caylee’s right sock. It’s been a week and the little pink fabric had yet to reappear. He wondered if it somehow managed to get into the frame of the couch.

 

He looked back down at the book in his lab. He was a chapter in but he couldn’t push past the first handful of pages. He used to love this book. He would read it late at night when sleep wouldn’t find him. He would enjoy the characters and the conversation. He looked up to the mentor of the main character. He admired how they would blindly trust the mentor and follow orders without a second thought. Now it disgusted him. It seemed to hit too close to home. He could feel bile slowly rising in his throat at the characters.

 

Snapping the book closed he dropped by the lamp and made his way to the kitchen. He pulled the fridge open and rummaged through the containers before he found something that appeased his stomach. He popped the lid off some spicy chicken and closed it in the microwave before starting it. He listened to the hum.

 

Remus noticed some small changes in himself. Not just mentally but physically. He noticed that the number of scars that littered his body seemed to fade away. There were still several large ones across his face and chest from the initial attack when he was a child, but the ones afterward seemed to blend into his natural skin. He had gained weight, his cheeks were no longer hollow and his ribs weren’t trying to make an appearance anymore. He chalked that up eating several meals a day and no longer wondering which was more important, food or rent? He also seemed to be putting on muscle extremely fast. Marly had pointed that out one day when she rushed through the door and begged for pizza.

 

“Werewolves are naturally toned. They are strong and that carried over into their human form,” She had told while cutting up Caylee’s pizza. “I wonder if he had placed a glamour on you that was tied to the charm.”

 

“It could be from all that running after Caylee,” Remus told Marly before sneaking a pepperoni off her pizza. She swatted at his hand while he chuckled.

 

“I thought of that but Delana says Severus is starting to look different too. Not as sickly, filling out.” Remus paused, “What?” Marly asked before taking a bite of her pizza.

 

“What if it’s not glamour but the charm itself? What if it makes us sick? What if the charms feeds off our bodies? It could be why to reapply isn’t needed.”

 

“Oh my god.” She whispered staring down at the scratched table. ‘Why didn't I think of that?”

 

“Too close to the case?” Remus suggested.

 

The microwave went off behind him pulling his thoughts back to the present. Pulling the container out he stirred the rice into the sauce before sitting at the table. He had to move a couple of dolls off the chair before being able to sit.

 

This is how it has been for the past several days since the full moon. His mind constantly wandered to his past. He thought about the relationships he had, his friends, his parents. He noticed whenever a memory would pop up a sick feeling came over him.

 

At one point he thought of Peter. Instead of the sadness that used to fill his chest, an overwhelming feeling of revulsion attacked him. Not only did the memory of the man make him gag, but it seemed weird. He could never make out full details. Peter’s face was always blurred, there was never any detailed. It was generic, his mind trying to find a face that fit the person caused new features to arrive every time he thought of him. Sometimes there were silver eyes staring at him then he would blink to see blue. He was pale in some memories but tan in another.

 

He thought of Sirius Black next. Like Peter, there was a different emotion now tied to the man. He waited for the rage and betrayal to hit him, but it never did. He missed the man. Trying to think of any of the dark thoughts he thought of the man started to give him a headache. He could remember his laugh, mixed in with a group of others that he could pick out. The images of the man in his mind weren’t blurry like Peter but it felt wrong. Remembering one where they were picking on Severus was wrong. He wasn’t sure why but he knew that Sirius wouldn’t do that.

 

He felt his wand vibrate in his pocket. Getting up he walked into the living room to see Caylee blinking at him. Her dark hair was tangled and knotted on one side of her head and her pant legs had started to creep towards her knees. Righting her pants, he picked up up and took her into the kitchen. She was usually quiet and docile after her nap.

 

“Hungry?” He asked the girl who was staring at the table. She nodded her head after a few seconds of silence. “You know what you want?”

 

“Sam-ich,” she told him tiredly. He chuckled and pulled out the deli meat and cheese. After plating the sandwich he peeled an orange for the girl. Once he set it in front of her she went after the oranges. He was happy to learn that not only was Caylee not a picky eater but she was a good eater. Marly said it was a werewolf thing.

 

Before he could tuck in and finish his leftovers, the front door open. He turned to see Marly standing in the doorway with a dripping umbrella. “What are you doing home?” Remus asked standing up.

 

“Severus found something,” She breathed out, “You’re going to want to see this.”

Chapter Text

Amelia was trying to get him to try her drink. He was hesitant to try anything that color but she was adamant. She would take a sip then tilt the cup towards him the straw facing towards him. After the third time, she did it he huffed and leaned forward taking a sip. It was thick and cold but it wasn’t bad. Not something he would drink every day but something he could enjoy on a hot one.

 

“What’s in that?” He asked as she put the straw to her lips.


“Spinach. Apple. Mango,” She stopped her eyes rolling back in thought, “and Banana.” She took another sip.

 

“You made me drink spinach?” He asked in disbelief.

 

“Good wasn’t it?” She smiled at him. Instead of sneering like he would have done it the past he lightly laughed at her and shook his head. “This happy guy that you turned it to? I like him. He doesn’t seem as stressed.” Severus nodded in agreement with Aurora Head.

 

“The same can be said for the students. Their grades have all skyrocketed. Been having some good talks with those in my house. I think I’m making a difference in some of them.” Severus admitted as he reached out and refilled his water cup.

 

“Can you send some good ones to me, please?” She asked as she finished the smoothie. She threw it into the trash can. It landed with a muffled thud .

 

“Why do that when I can just watch you suffer?” He laughed at her.

 

Huffing Amelia pointed a finger at the man, “Listen here you-” She couldn’t finish what she was saying as the door was thrown open. A little girl with long black hair dashed in and hugged Amelia.

 

“Caylee, What have we said about throwing doors open?” Remus’s voice came into the room from the hall. He followed in a few seconds later.

 

“Open ‘em nice-wy.”

 

“Hello,” John said as he walked into the room passing Marly who was stopped in the doorway talking to Delana. Remus grabbed her elbow and pulled her into the room. She stumbled before catching her footing and standing behind Severus’s chair.

 

Delana didn’t say anything when she walked in. Her hair was halfway pulled up with thin wisps falling in front of her face. She wore tan robes with sleeves stopping at the elbow. She had a pensive in her arms and was looking over the rim making sure she didn’t bump into Caylee. She placed the bowl on the table before turning and picking up the child.

 

“We’ll” she nodded her head towards the child in her arms, “be at the koi pond. If we leave before you guys are done I’ll send a message.”

 

“You have the spare key right?” Marly asked plopping herself into a chair next to Amelia. Like the woman next to her, her hair was pulled up into a hasty messy bun. She had missed some hair in the back, they hung loosely and curled around her shoulders.

 

“Yes. Don’t worry I’ll feed her dinner too.”

 

“Thanks, Del,” the woman smiled then left shutting the door behind her. John was leaning against the wall his arms crossed as he watched the group. He waited a moment before making his way over to the people who were staring down at the bowl.

 

It was made of metal, the pensive. It was polished and have runes and words engraved alongside the ridge. There were smudge marks around the base where Delana’s fingertips rested against the object. A way for to still be here even when she wasn’t in the room.

 

Amelia pulled the box that was over by Severus towards her. She carefully lifted the wooden lid up revealing the goods inside. There were no markers on the glass bottles. Just a soft swirling of blue wisps in the containers. “I guess we are doing this blind.” She mumbled popping the cork and dumping it into the bowl.

 

They all leaned forward into the memory together. The falling sensation slowly coming to a stop once they were fully in.  They all looked around at the new environment they were in. There was light streaming into the hall from the window. In the rays the could see small particles of dust floating around the hall. Peering out the window Severus concluded that it was either late spring or early summer. He also discovered that they were in Hogwarts.

 

Severus turned to question the others when voices could be heard entering the hallway. It was familiar, the windows, the darkened spots on the windowsills from oily fingers, even the smell of a cleaner was starting to jog something in the man’s mind.  He joined the rest of the group by the wall and looking around the hall as the distant voices became louder and clearer. Suddenly two boys were turning into the hallway. Both had black hair down to their shoulders. One had a red and gold tie wrapped around his forehead while the other had a silver and green tie hanging loosely on his shoulders. The appeared to be about 13 or 14.

 

Severus watched as his younger self laughed alongside the boy next to him. When did he casually stroll around the castle grounds with Sirius Black? He did have a feeling familiarity as he watched the teen Severus push Sirius’s shoulder and scrunched his nose up. This memory didn’t have the sour taste and distorted view of the memories he had been trying to think about the past few days. There was no blurry spots or incomplete details. It was solid. It was clear.

 

“I can’t believe Moony dumped you on me for potions.” Young Severus mumbled pacing in front of a blank wall. “You have the attention span of a goldfish.” The boy would walk to one side of the hall only to stop and spin on the sole his foot and walk to the other.

 

“Hey,” Sirius pointed a finger at him with faux sternness, “That’s an insult to fish.”

 

Right as the door appeared, the stones morphing in front of their eyes, the younger Severus burst into laughter. After a second Sirius joined in, the sound filling the halls fitting in perfectly with the sun’s rays.

 

“You guys are late,” James whined as the two walked in. A younger Remus lowered the book from his face and narrowed his eyes at the boy. As the older versions watched this, pain and sadness filled their chest for the dead friend. Remus rubbed at his chest absentmindedly while Severus bit the inside of his cheek.

 

“Well some body,” Sirius turned to the small potion master, “forgot his notebook in his dorm.”  

 

“We had time to get my notebook,” Severus dropped his bag next to James’s leg before sitting next to him, “we didn’t have time for you to try stupid pick up lines on Maise.”

 

“You are still here before the other two,” Remus said shutting his book and putting it on the table next to him. The whole room seemed to be designed like a living room. It was filled with neutral calming colors, overstuffed seats, polish wood, and the occasional knickknack. The far wall had a fireplace with a painting of a forest above it. Throw pillows littered the floor from when James tossed them away from under his body. Natural light filtered in from a bay window behind them. On top of the chair, Remus was sitting on was a gray striped cat with a red collar.

 

Sirius dropped onto the sofa next to Severus. He swung his legs onto the boy’s lap with a lopsided grin. Severus shot him a strong glare before roughly shoving the legs off him. Instead of his body twisting him into an upright position he tumbled to the floor. James laughed and stuck his tongue out at his friend.

 

Sirius popped up with a cheeky smile when the doors opened allowing entrance to two girls. One with dirty blonde hair that stopped at her shoulders and another with bright red hair that was pulled into a braid. The girl with the braid had bright green eyes and a button nose. The girl with blonde hair has long slender features with light brown eyes.

 

“The Evanses have arrived!” James called out happily.

 

Those watching the memory froze at the statement. They all turned to stare at the blonde and study her. She indeed was related to Lily if their features were any indication. They both had the same chin and jawline, their ears were identical as were their eye shape. They both had high cheekbones and arched eyebrows. It wasn’t until the blonde shot a look to James that someone spoke.

 

“That’s Petunia,” Marly whispered to the group, “When I met her though, she didn’t have magic.” She finished confused.

 

“Hey Pet,” Remus waved at the woman. She waved back and sat on an armchair across from him. The cat above him lazily stretched and jumped on to the arm before making into the floor. It trotted over to Petunia and mewed until she scratched under its chin. The cat then moved onto Lily who stroked the cat.

 

“Sorry, we had to shake a tail.” Petunia said as she loosened the Hufflepuff tie around her neck. Lily was leaning on the arm undoing her own Gryffindor tie.

 

“Let me guess,” Sirius said, “Pettigrew?”

 

“Yes,” she groaned, “I don’t know why he is so insistent on trying to hang out with us but anyone who spends that much time with the headmaster can’t be trusted.”

 

“Wait,” Remus stopped the conversation, “Who’s Pettigrew?”

 

“Some Gryffindor a year below us,” Lily answered while digging into her bag. She pulled out some candy wands and started to pass them around. James and Severus started to fight with the food while laughter spilled out of their mouth. Remus took a big bite out his while Petunia peeled it before sticking it in her mouth. When James’s bent and didn’t stay upright, the group laughed as he frowned.

 

They started to feel the memory fade first. Then the colors around them lost saturation. The crisp lines blurred and everything twisted and warped together into a haze of blue. Feeling as if they were being pulled upwards by string they all jerked back into their bodies. John had to reach out and grab the table to steady himself. Amelia was shaking her head, hair coming loose from her bun and it spilled onto her shoulders. Remus was scratching the middle of his forehead with a confused look. Severus had placed the heel of his hands against his eyes as the memory came unstuck from the fog in the back of his mind. 

 

Most of them were blinking rapidly trying to process all the information that they had gained when there was a knocking at the door. The first knock was light and hesitant but they grew more confident. Marly was out of her chair first opening the door. After seeing who it was she opened the door wider allowing entrance.

 

“I was hoping you would make time to visit.” She told the man who was turned towards Marly and away from the seated group.

 

“I also bring a message that Caylee has been taken out for dinner.” Severus and Remus suddenly still. The voice was deep, calm and familiar. It wasn’t until the man turned around and smiled at them could they place it.

 

“Sirius?” Remus and Severus whispered in awe together.

Chapter Text

Happiness.

 

If you were to ask Remus what he was feeling right now, he would say pure, unfiltered happiness. The type you feel when you wake up on sunny Saturday with no plans and commitments. It was the kind that wrapped around your chest when you hold a puppy and pulled it up to your chest and rest your cheek softly on its head. This happiness rivaled the feeling of seeing your friends after a long summer and rushing forward to hold them in a tight hug and feel that they truly are okay. It filled every fiber of his being, woven into his body and soul.

 

Why wouldn’t he be happy? On his lap laid two heads. Both heads had black hair, one long one short. On his right laid the body of a girl with olive skin. A girl that had thrusted herself into the man’s heart and a pink shirt with a white cat and a bow on its head and a frilly white skirt. Her shoes had fallen to the floor leaving her blue painted toes exposed. She had fallen asleep first, her breathes evening out as Remus talked with Delana and John.

 

On the left was a boy. One with rumpled blue trimmed robes and glasses that had been pushed to the top of his head. His tie was pulled loose. Slacks were hitched up from where he pulled his legs up showing the striped pattern on them. He was tired when he walked in with his parents. Deep splotches hung under his eyes from the seizure that he had come to visit. He started in an upright position sitting next to Remus before dropping onto his shoulder. Remus had repositioned the boy after looking at the awkward angle of his neck. The boy started to snore after a few minutes.

 

Severus was next to Amelia, his body angled slightly towards her, which made Remus wonder about the two. He didn’t say anything but watched as quick glances passed between them. He saw when Severus would ghost his hand over the woman’s arm before pulling his hands back to himself. He heard the soft chuckle that Amelia would give the man after a quick-witted response jumped from the man’s lips. He didn’t call attention to the actions, no, but he did glance over to Marly. From her smirk and side-eye that she gave him, he knew he wasn’t the only one noticing it.

 

Sirius was on the couch. His right ankle crossed over his left knee while he sunk into the back. He was listening to something John was saying. A smile would form only to morph into the next expression needed for the conversation. He would make a witty one-liner which made both men laugh and Delana to sigh and roll her eyes. She was angled away from the other two men on the couch, her knees pointed towards her daughter as she braided the girl's hair. Susan sat in front of Hannah chatting about a girl in the Slytherin house.

 

They were in a small hideout not too far from the Hogs Head. The only entrance was nestled between to buildings and looked like an alleyway to a set of trash cans. Then you would walk two steps forwards and feel the glamour wash over you with a buzzing sensation on your skin and a high-pitched ringing in your ears. It would fade after a moment and then reveal a set of stone stairs waiting for you to climb.

 

“The Collective have small hideouts like this all over,” Marly explained as Sirius, Severus, and Remus followed her up the stairs. This wasn’t new information to Sirius, who apparently has been with the organization for the past seven years.

 

“They set them up so Agent’s can hide, meet up, or store vital information,” Sirius finished for the blonde. “It’s where I would come to meet Poppy to see if you guys happen to manage to break the charm.” He confessed after a moment.

 

It turns out that The Collective had been watching Dumbledore before the incident with Harry. They started to take notice of the man back in the boy’s second year. That’s how they knew to keep an eye out for Remus, Severus, and others. When Sirius was sent to jail without a trail they had come and switched him out with a golem.

 

That’s also how the found out dementors can break the charm. It came at an extremely high cost. The mixture of the charm with the effects of the dementors caused extreme damage. After being in the prison for several months before they were able to get them out had caused a slew of issues for Sirius. The charm wasn’t lodged loose from a concussion or bled out from a potion, no, it had been shattered. Pieces of the charm splintered and embedded themselves into various parts of Sirius. It took several years to isolate the shards and slowly work them out of the man. They had a team who pull his memories out of his head and remove the fake snippets that were implanted by the charm before being woven back into his head. It took nearly three years till Sirius was able to be who he really was. Desperate to get his friends back, he joined The Collective.  Since then, he had been working behind the scenes tracking down various informational sources and collecting forgotten rituals.

 

Now, he sat on a couch across from his lost friends. Remus caught the fond glances that he shot at Harry. He saw the hug that boy gave him when he entered the room. He saw the kiss that Sirius bent down to place on top of the boy’s head. How he knew what was going on in the kid’s life. Some jealousy had bubbled when he saw how close that the two were, but when Caylee had grabbed his hand a moment later, it disappeared.

 

“Sirius,” Marly grabbed the man’s attention, “Do you have the information?”

 

“Oh!” He straightened up and pulled the files off the table next to him passing them to the woman, “Here. The blue is everything I could remember about her and photos of her that I had. The yellow is legal information. Red is everything that happened after graduation.”

 

Remus, Amelia, and John were all going to visit Petunia after lunch. John was going under the guise of a therapist, not a long stretch seeing that that was his profession. Remus was going to be his assistant and Amelia was the mediator. They were hoping that they could see if she one, remembered Remus, and two, figure out what happened to her magic.

 

Marly had already told them that she couldn’t go. “Petunia knows me. She’ll freak out.” She told Remus before taking a swig of water. Sirius was still technically in Azkaban. He wore a special bracelet that glamoured his features to those not in The Collective when he was out in public. Though he could go, since Petunia wasn’t part of the organization, she wouldn't see through it, therefore he couldn’t test to see if she remembered him. Delana had to go back to work.

 

John was handed the files last. He read through them carefully. “It seems she had a psychotic break,” he told the rest of the group. “I’d have to do some digging to see if I can’t find a stressor.” He closed the folders and looked up at Remus, “Ready?”

 

Remus didn’t remember the trip to the building. Nor did he even remember walking up the path and through the glass doors into the reception area. He was focusing on some snippets of memories that have been slowly breaking loose. It had started happening after the first couple of memories. Severus was dealing with it too. Flashes of faces or bits of audio would interrupt there day. The one that had slipped to him at the moment was of James talking with a blonde Slytherin. It wasn’t until he saw her eyes did he place a name. Narcissa.

 

“Hey, Spacey?” Remus jerked his head in the direction of Amelia. He was holding the door open for him. Inside the room was Petunia Evans. She looked different from the last time Amelia and John saw her after Harry’s accident.

 

She was wearing blue scrubs that were wrinkled, folds and creases painted nearly every inch of the cotton she was wearing. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail, it was tangled and starting to gray. There were some bald patches by her temples. Her skin was pale and sickly. Remus though if he looked closely he could see the thin string of her veins living underneath her skin. Her lips were dull and chapped, her mouth slightly open as she sat there. Staring down at the table, she didn’t show any indication that she noticed their arrival. When she did look up, she looked haggard. Her eyes didn’t focus on anything, just blinked mechanically.  

 

“Hello Petunia,” Remus said softly once Amelia closed the door and sealed the room. “It’s been awhile. Do you remember me?”

 

It took too long for her eyes to make her way to Remus and even longer for her to find his eyes. There was nothing in them. Not a single indication that she knew the man in front of her. There was no emotion either. No life. Just glassy blank irises looking into his own. He had to look away, he felt as if he was staring at a lifeless doll. She may be alive, he thought, be she sure as hell wasn’t living.

 

She couldn’t answer any questions about herself. She couldn’t remember anything prior to waking up and finding a boy on her steps. She had no memory of schooling. She didn’t know where she used to hang out. She didn’t know what foods she liked. She didn’t have details about her sister besides general information. Every question that asked for detailed answers made her eyes narrow and her face pinched in pain. At one point she had thrown her fingers into her hair and started to tug. It explained the patches. They moved back to generic questions.

 

“What’s her name?”

 

“Lily.”

 

“What’s her middle name?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“What house was she in?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“What are your parent's name?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“Where did you grow up?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“Who is your husband?

 

“Vernon Dursley,” She seemed confused on that one but didn’t add anything to her answer.

 

“Where did you meet him?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“Who’s your son?”

 

“Dudley Dursley,” John expected to see a fondness on her face at the mention of her son but there wasn’t.

 

Remus leaned forward, “Do you remember your pregnancy?”

 

She opened her mouth and stopped. Her face scrunched up again as she looked into her vague and missing memory pool. “No.” She admitted. She waited for more questions.

 

Her voice was monotone. One that could be forgotten easily. She was bland. Falling into the background. Nothing stood out about her. Nothing resembled the information he knew of his old friend.

 

“John,” Amelia caught the mans attention, “Check her with the crystal.” The man nodded and reached into the front pocket of his worn messenger bag.

 

He placed the smooth object in the woman’s hand. After it rested there for nearly a minute, she looked down at it. It seemed that she was trying to figure out how it got into her grasp. She rubbed her thumb over it as it glowed orange. She cooed at the color, “Pretty.”

 

“What’s orange mean?” Remus asked looking up to Amelia.

 

“She has the charm on her,” Amelia bite the inside of her lips after the statement. “I want to try something else.” She moved towards the woman and kneeled down to her level. Petunia was still rubbing her thumb up and down the chiseled crystal.

 

“What are you doing?” John asked as he rolled up the parchment and stuck it back in his bag. He rubbed his beard with his left hand before resting both of them on the table in front of him.

 

“A simple spell that some people don’t like. It requires a little blood but I have a theory.” Before the men could ask any more questions, Amelia grabbed Petunia’s free hand made a small cut with her wand. Petunia was still looking at the crystal. She didn’t shift her focus until Amelia was nearly done with the spell. She just blinked at the woman.

 

“Oh,” Amelia whispered after a thought paper floated into her lap. She looked at the men, “She’s not a witch.” Both men knitted their brows together in confusion.

 

“But Petu-” Remus started when Amelia cut him off.

 

“This isn’t Petunia Evans.”