Content Harry Potter Miscellaneous
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Chapter 3: Castles in the Air

"Show me something?" Remus asked. "Something about Harry?"

Danger nodded. "Harry, come with me," she said, and walked into the hall with Harry and Neenie each holding one hand. Remus followed them.

They stopped beside the stairs. "All the houses in this suburb are built alike," Danger said. "So this house is practically identical to the one where Harry lives. Watch."

She unlatched the door of the floor-level hallway cupboard.

Harry pulled away from her. "No! No cubbud! No cubbud! NO!" He ran to Remus and hid behind him. "NO CUBBUD! NO NO NO!"

Danger closed the door quickly as Remus knelt down to embrace the stiff and shaking little boy. Neenie was clutching Danger’s pants again; her mouth was quivering around the ever-present thumb.

Remus stroked Harry’s hair, trying to get him to calm down, though he was tense himself with the child’s obvious fear. "What was that about?"

"He sleeps in the cupboard under the stairs at home." Danger’s eyes were narrowed, her nostrils flared, her lips tight. "If you can call it a home. And they stick him in there whenever they don’t want to be bothered with him."

A wave of anger swept over Remus, and he tightened his arms around Harry, who was still shivering, his face buried in Remus’ shoulder.

"I’m sorry, Harry," Danger said soothingly, rubbing the little boy’s back. "No cupboard. Not with me. Never with me."

"Mooey?" Harry whimpered.

"Tell him no cupboard," Danger whispered. "He wants to know if you’re going to put him in there. Tell him no."

"No cupboard, Harry," Remus said firmly. "No cupboard with me. Ever."

Harry relaxed all at once and molded himself against Remus’ side, head resting on his shoulder.

"What kind of person would do that to a child?" Remus demanded, standing up with Harry in his arms.

"The kind of person like Vernon and Petunia Dursley," Danger said with a growl in her voice, leading the way back to the kitchen. "And their son, Dudley. He’s not much older than Harry, but he’s huge — fattest kid I’ve seen in a long while — and mean to the core. He pulls Neenie’s hair whenever he can catch her. I don’t like to think what he probably does to Harry."

"Dudley mean," volunteered Neenie, removing her thumb from her mouth.

"Well, another party heard from," Remus said, smiling at the little girl. "You know, I think that’s the first time I’ve heard you talk?"

Neenie smiled back at him, then ducked behind Danger’s chair in a sudden shy fit.

"She’s darling," Remus said. "You’re very lucky."

"Yeah, well, she likes you," Danger said. "With most people, she won’t even come out from behind me until she’s known them for about a week. Talking usually takes at least two."

"You must not get many baby-sitters."

Danger shrugged. "No need for them — there’s nowhere I go that Neenie can’t come, except work, and she likes the people at her day care, she’s known them since she was tiny. So anyway, now you know as much as I do about Harry. I baby-sit him every day I can get off work — "

"Are you saying you’ve been missing work to take care of Harry?" Remus asked.

"After I figured out why he was throwing a screaming fit every time I went to get the Christmas decorations, yes. I wasn’t about to let a sweet little boy like him get mistreated without doing something about it. I tried calling Social Services, but they’re backed up for months, and unless he’s in immediate danger, they don’t want to hear about it. So at the moment I’m part-time clerk, part-time babysitter. The Dursleys pay pretty well, so it’s not really a financial problem..." She stopped, noticing how Remus was looking at her. "What is it?"

"What is it?" You’re keeping this little boy safe from things his own relatives are doing to him, and you’re sacrificing to do it — a part-time job, even with baby-sitting thrown in, can’t possibly support you and your sister the way you deserve.

You’re a good person.

That’s what it is.

And I wish I could tell you that.

"I was just thinking how ironic it is that you’re practically a stranger, but you’re helping Harry, and his relatives, the people who should be taking care of him, are actually the problem."

"Stuff happens all over," Danger said, waving her hand dismissively. "I’m just not one to sit around and let it happen. Never have been."

"Thank you," Remus said earnestly. "For everything."

"Ah, you’re welcome," Danger mumbled, blushing. "Don’t look now, but I think he’s gone to sleep..."

Even as she said it, Remus felt Harry grow heavier on his shoulder, in the inexplicable way of sleeping babies. He shifted the boy gently down into his arms. "Should I put him on the couch?"

"No, he might roll off. I’ll get a blanket for the floor."

The telephone rang. "Hold that thought," Danger said, reaching for it. "Hello? Yes... oh, yes, of course... right away. You’re welcome." She hung up. "His aunt says she wants him home," she said sarcastically. "The truth is she thinks she’s paid me enough for today. It costs nothing to stick him in a cupboard, after all."

"A cupboard." Remus looked down at Harry, whose expression and general demeanor while asleep could only be accurately described as angelic, and felt again the urge to hold the child tight and never let him go. "That has to stop. It’s wrong."

"You going to stop it?" Danger asked lightly.

"If I have to, yes."

"Not to play devil’s advocate, but how?"

"They’re adults, aren’t they? They’ll listen to reason..." He stopped, seeing Danger shaking her head.

"If they were reasonable, would they be making a not-even-two-year-old sleep in a cupboard? They think they’re God’s greatest gift to the world, and they won’t listen to anyone. Trust me. I know."

"I’d take him myself if I thought it would solve anything," Remus said, rocking Harry soothingly as the boy came half-awake with a little wail.

Danger smiled mischievously. "Take him, as in just take him? Walk in one day, pick him up, and walk out?"

"Or one night," Remus said, entering into the spirit of the game. "Pick the lock on their front door, sneak in and steal him, out again and no one the wiser. We could be miles away by morning, if we had some place safe to go. A house, and a job, somewhere far from here..." He smiled sadly, shaking his head. "Castles in the air. Here, you should take him home."

Danger accepted Harry. "Stay with Neenie while I take him over?" she asked. "I’ll only be a minute."

"Certainly." Remus saw her to the door, since Harry was a two-arm package, especially asleep and limp. As he closed it behind her, he became aware of a tugging at his pant leg. He looked down. "Yes, and what can I do for you?" he asked Neenie gravely.

"Up," the little girl said matter-of-factly, holding her arms out. Remus scooped her up, and she squirmed around until she was sitting on his hip and looking him in the face. "Moo-nee nice," she said with a smile, apparently proud of herself for pronouncing both syllables. "I s’eep now." And without further ado, she plopped her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes.

"Well, I guess this is my day to be a pillow," Remus said bemusedly. He headed for the living room, where he could at least be a pillow sitting down.

It’s been an incredible day. I’m tired myself.

He yawned as he sat down on the couch. Putting my feet up would feel nice. Lying down would feel even nicer.

He shifted Neenie’s weight to his chest. I’ll just close my eyes for a moment. I won’t go to sleep...


He was in water, cold water, and it was deep. Too deep. He couldn’t stay afloat, he was starting to sink —

A hand caught his and pulled his arm over a piece of wood, which he clung to and caught his breath. He looked around at his savior — it was a woman, a brown-haired woman, who looked familiar —

Danger. That’s her name. I met her today, she takes care of Harry. And sure enough, the woman, who was holding on to the other side of what he could now see was a tiny raft, had two children clinging to her back, and one of them was Harry. The other was her sister — oh, what’s her name, Neenie. Both looked tired, as if they were about to lose their grip and fall into the water.

He held out his hand, wordlessly offering to take one of the children from her. Danger nodded, and he hooked his elbow around a projection on the raft, then reached over and snagged Harry. There was a heart-stopping moment when he thought he was going to drop the child, but then Harry grabbed onto him and held on tight.

Why don’t we put them on this thing? It might not hold us, but it will hold them. He lifted Harry from the water and put him on the raft, and it rocked slightly but stayed upright. Danger quickly set Neenie beside Harry, and the children huddled together.

Remus looked down the river and saw the silhouetted figure of a woman, desperately trying to hold on to something which seemed to be breaking apart under her hands. As they passed her, he reached out and caught her hand, pulling it to their raft. She caught on and held tight, and as they came into a slightly more lit area, he saw her face — it was Aletha Freeman, looking as determined as she ever had chasing down a Bludger.

We’re all in this together, it would seem...

And just as he thought that, something brushed his leg. Something soft. A hand, which closed weakly around his ankle before losing its grip...

Someone’s down there. I have to help them.

He took a deep breath and dived.

The water was cold on his face, and murky. He couldn’t see. He felt around where he thought the hand had been, and just as he was starting to need a breath, found it, limp and boneless-feeling. He grasped it firmly and swam for the surface.

As he had hoped, the women had been kicking against the current, holding the raft nearby, waiting for him. He pulled the person up behind him, and somehow wasn’t surprised to see that it was Sirius Black, looking exhausted and pale, and not breathing.

That’s bad.

But before he could do anything about it, Sirius gasped and started coughing, and Remus hoisted him onto the raft and grabbed the edge again himself. Aletha loosed her grip enough to touch Sirius’ face gently, and he opened his eyes after a moment to smile at her.

The raft speeded up. The water seemed to be getting warmer, and there was definitely more light. And — is this thing getting bigger?

A few more moments removed the question. The raft had indeed grown. It was large enough to take everyone. Remus helped the women climb aboard, then accepted their hands to pull him up.

Suddenly they passed from the darkness of the tunnel into light, the light of a sunny day. The tiredness Remus had been feeling seemed to drop away from him as he looked around at the green banks of the river, at the smiling faces of his friends. The raft felt like an oasis of peace, and as Harry climbed into his lap, Remus wished he could stay where he was forever...


Danger closed the door behind her, unable to shake the image in her mind of bright green eyes filled with unhappiness and a little voice saying "Dayger?" in a pleading tone.

He practically begged me not to leave. But what can I do? He belongs to them.

Another voice intruded on her thoughts. Remus’ voice.

I’d take him myself... if we had some place safe to go. A house, and a job, somewhere far from here...

Danger’s imagination took over. Just a little house, big enough for four. A man and a woman, a boy and a girl, making a new life together... and a job at a bookstore, or a library... oh, wouldn’t that be wonderful? To work among all the wisdom and folly of the ages, neatly categorized and alphabetized...

She smiled wryly. Now who’s building castles in the air? A new life together? For heaven’s sake, Gertrude, you only met the man today, no matter what you dreamed! She only used her real name to herself when she was annoyed. And you know you’ll never get Harry. Even if the Dursleys don’t want him, he’s theirs by right, and they never let go of anything, even if they want nothing more than to be rid of it.

But it would be good for Neenie to have a brother. She was awfully lonely before Harry came along. There’s no little girls living around here, and most of the little boys are Dudley’s type — big spoiled bullies...

Stop it now, her stern side ordered. You’re wishing for the moon.

No, I’m wishing for...

Don’t. Even. Think. It.

This inner argument brought her through the kitchen and into the living room, where she stopped short.

Moony, her irrepressible side finished anyway.

Remus Lupin was sleeping on her couch, with one arm protectively across little Hermione, asleep on his chest.

They look perfect together, she couldn’t help thinking. He could be her father.

And she needs a father. I’m doing my best, but she’s getting into the stubborn stage, and having someone else around to back me up would help with that.

She sat down wearily in a rocking chair, acknowledging reality. Having someone else around would help with everything. There are days I just want to give up and cry because there’s always too much to do and never enough time or money. I know life’s tough all over, but human beings weren’t meant to go it alone, were we? I mean, there has to be a reason for this thing called love...

She blinked, startled by her own thoughts, and shook her head. Moving a bit fast, aren’t we, young lady? Love’s quite a big word. Why don’t we try something like friendship first, and see where it goes from there...

After all, you don’t know the man that well yet. No matter what Petunia Dursley and her network of spies say.

She sighed. He can joke all he wants, but my reputation’s just gone down the tubes. The neighborhood busybodies will assume the worst, and the story will be everywhere by the day after tomorrow, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Maybe we should move...

But I can’t abandon Harry. He’s undernourished, in more ways than one — he’s incredibly bright, but even the brightest children won’t learn if they don’t have opportunities, and when does he ever get them, stuck in that flipping cupboard? And they never hold him or hug him — I think they may actually hit him, he flinches sometimes when I lift my hand above my shoulder.

She twisted a pinch of her shirt in frustration. We’re the only hope he has. Me, and Neenie, and now Remus...

I can’t take that away from him, I just can’t. Reputation or not, here we stay.

Unless, of course, we did something really crazy. Like actually stealing him and running for it.

Could we get away with it? Would having magic on our side help any? There would probably be magic people looking for him too, I gather he’s important somehow... but if we hid from the magic types with not-magic methods, and the not-magic types with magic methods...

"Castles in the air again," she said aloud in frustration.

Remus came awake with a small jump, looking down in confusion at the tiny brown head on his chest.

"I’ll take her," Danger said, lifting her sister gently enough that Neenie only fretted a moment before settling back into her nap into Danger’s arms. "Be back in a moment."

She hurried upstairs to slip the little girl into her crib. When she returned, Remus was sitting at the kitchen table, looking rather embarrassed.

"I’m so sorry," he began. "You left me to watch her, and instead I fell asleep..."

"No apology necessary," Danger said sincerely. "I doubt she would have been able to move without waking you, and it was a charming tableau to walk in on. Don’t worry about it."

Remus nodded stiffly. An uncomfortable silence ensued.

"I should go," Remus began, at the same moment that Danger blurted, "Would you like to stay for dinner?"

They hesitated, looking at each other almost shyly. Then Remus said musingly, "Well, I suppose I could..." as Danger quickly said, "But if you have somewhere else to be..."

The double coincidence was too much, and they both cracked up, laughing together with abandon and shattering the tension that had been building in the room.

"No, nowhere else to be," Remus said, still chuckling, a few moments later. "And I’m thoroughly sick of my own cooking. So if the offer is still open, I accept with pleasure."

"The pleasure’s all mine." Danger smiled and felt her heart warm when he smiled back. "I love to cook. Do you have any preferences?"

"I enjoy pasta dishes," Remus said. "But really, anything will do."

"Have you ever had pasta with peanut butter sauce?"

"No, but it sounds interesting, and I’ll try anything once."

"Bit dangerous, that, isn’t it?"

Remus shrugged. "No more so than life itself. I make exceptions for obviously stupid things, like teasing a hippogriff."

"What is a hippogriff?"

Stories about wizarding life and magic in general filled the time it took to prepare dinner. Danger listened carefully, storing the details in her memory. You never know what might be useful.

"This is excellent," Remus announced after tasting the pasta. "My compliments to the chef."

"Thank you, kind sir." Danger inclined her head in his direction.

"I haven’t had anything this good since I left Hogwarts."

"That’s... your school?" Danger hazarded, hoping for another round of stories.

She wasn’t disappointed. By the time she handed the last of the dishes to Remus to dry, Danger knew more about the wizarding life of England than any Muggle (a word she found fascinating) who wasn’t related to a wizard or witch.

"You shouldn’t be telling me this, should you?" she asked. "You could get in trouble."

"I could," Remus replied. "But as you pointed out, you’re already involved. You’re practically raising The Boy Who Lived." Another thing he’d explained was the cause of Harry’s fame, and the nickname it had earned him among the general wizarding public. "It makes sense for you to know. You may even have magic yourself."


"You’re what we call a true-dreamer. You see things in your dreams that really happened. Parts of them even sound predictive, foretelling the future. That’s a magical gift as far as I know... but we can always check."


Remus got up and went into the hall, returning with a carved stick about a foot long.

"Is that..."

"A genuine magic wand. Here, give it a try."

Danger accepted it gingerly and gave it a timid wave. Nothing happened.

"I’d prefer if you’d point it that way," Remus said firmly, directing her aim away from him.

"Fine," Danger snapped, jerking her hand away in annoyance.

A burst of golden sparks shot from the end of the wand and landed on the kitchen counter, where they fizzled and went out in a puddle of water from the dish drainer.

"Was that me?" Danger breathed.

"You’re the one with the wand," Remus said, grinning at her.

Danger quickly handed it to him, still staring at the place where the sparks had been.

"Congratulations, Miss Granger," said Remus, pocketing his wand. "You’re a witch."

Danger sat down abruptly, luckily where the chair was instead of where it wasn’t.

I’m a witch. I have magic.

But — that’s impossible.

"How can I be? I mean, you told me how Hogwarts goes looking for children who have magic, and I never got a letter or anything, so how could I be magical now?"

"I don’t know," Remus admitted. "But you are magical. No one can use a wand who isn’t. I heard a theory once that some people have latent magic, magic that isn’t active and can’t be detected, so they go through their lives as Muggles. No one ever knows, unless they experience some kind of shock that brings out the magic in them."

"A shock? Like finding your parents dead in the living room?"

Remus winced. "That might well do it, yes."

Danger stared at the floor. "When I found my dad and mum, I screamed. I screamed so loud they heard me on the next block. And things broke. All the light bulbs, all our glass lampshades, even the glass in the windows shattered. Was that magic?"

"It must have been." Remus seemed about to make a movement toward her, but instead went to the desk in the corner, wrote something on a pad, and tore it off. "Here’s my phone number. If you need anything, call me. Well, not tomorrow night, but any other time, call me."

Danger nodded, accepting the folded slip of paper. "Wait a second, I’ll give you mine," she said. "In case there’s something you need to tell me in a hurry."

Remus took the note she handed him and slid it into his pocket. "I really should go now," he said, looking outside, where it was full dark already.

Danger walked down the hall with him. "Thank you for staying to dinner."

"Thank you for having me. It was the best meal, and the best companionship, I’ve had in months."

"Same here. The companionship, I mean." Danger found her breath coming a little short as Remus smiled at her again.

"Well, good night, then," he said, holding out his hand.

"Good night." She shook it courteously.

Is it my imagination, or did he hold on a moment longer than he had to?

With a polite bow, Remus Lupin took his leave.

Danger leaned against the wall and caught her breath.

I am definitely attracted to that man.

Strongly attracted.

I think a cold shower is indicated.


Remus hurried through the dark streets to the place where he had parked his car, mind racing.

I need to get home. And start making plans. Harry’s being mistreated, Sirius is innocent... Aletha needs to know first of all, I can owl her tomorrow... should I even tell Dumbledore? I don’t have any solid proof...

But before I do any of that, I think I need a cold shower.

I am strongly attracted to that woman.

And that’s not good. For either of us.

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