“You did what?” Ron exclaimed. He stared at Hermione and then fixed his eyes on Harry, as if expecting him to deny it all.
Harry swallowed a mouthful of chocolate, savouring the warmth it brought, and replied, “Just what Hermione said. I think she remembered it all.”
“That’s—that’s bloody mental, you two,” Ron said. He sighed. “Wish I could’ve gone.” He eyed his immobilized leg, which was still healing.
Hermione flopped back onto her pillows and groaned. “It was absolutely terrifying,” she said. “But we managed to save Buckbeak and Sirius, so it was worth it.”
“Here’s what I don’t get, though,” said Ron, snagging a piece of chocolate from the bowl sitting on the table between his and Harry’s beds. “Dumbledore’s the Chief Warlock. It’s his job to make sure people have trials and stuff. I mean, all they needed was some Veritaserum and they could have checked his story, and ours. It’s allowed in extraordinary circumstances or with consent. Plus they definitely aren’t supposed to have people Kissed like that. It’s only legal at Azkaban, after proper sentencing.”
Hermione blinked. “How on earth do you know all that?”
Ron shrugged. “Dad works at the Ministry,” he said, taking another bite of chocolate. “Mum was really fixed on making sure we knew how it all worked. I think she hoped all of us would end up working there, but Percy’s the only one who really wants to.”
Hermione leaned out of bed to where she had left her schoolbag and rummaged around, coming up with a notebook and one of the biros she used when she wasn’t in class. She found a blank page and started scribbling. “Why don’t they teach us about this?” she demanded. “I learned about civics and basic government structure in primary school, and I have heard absolutely nothing about magical government in the classes here.”She paused, lifting her pen from the page for a moment. “Harry, have you?”
“Don’t look at me,” said Harry. “Nobody tells me anything. And between schoolwork and people trying to kill me, I don’t exactly have time for research.”
“We mostly learn about it at home before Hogwarts,” Ron offered.
Hermione huffed. “Well, that’s extremely helpful for Muggleborns and halfbloods who live in the Muggle world!” she snapped.
“Hey, it’s not my fault,” said Ron. “I didn’t ask them to do it this way.”
“You didn’t ask them not to do it this way, either,” Hermione said, jabbing her pen into her paper so hard it left a hole. She stared down at it for a moment and then relaxed. “Fine. Can you tell me what you know?”
Harry leaned back in bed. “You two have fun. I need to sleep.”
Hermione smiled sympathetically. “That Patronus was amazing,” she said. “You must be exhausted.”
He nodded and pulled his blanket up over his head to shut out Hermione and Ron’s conversation. He closed his eyes and let his mind drift. He wished...wishing wasn’t any good, really, but he wished Sirius hadn’t been sent to jail, that he’d been able to grow up with his godfather instead of the Dursleys.
That sparked a memory from when he’d been lying in his cupboard in the dark, one of the days when the battery from the old flashlight he had sneaked in there had flickered out and he couldn’t read anymore. Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon had been updating their will, and were talking about guardianship for Dudley, if they died.
“Marge will take him, of course,” Vernon had said. “The freak can go into care, but Marge will take Dudley.”
Petunia had cleared her throat. “What if something happens to Marge? Or if she can’t take Dudley? We don’t want him in care – they’d probably put him with the boy.”
“Right,” Vernon had replied. “Back-ups, just in case. Your friend Audrey and her husband don’t have kids. Let’s put them down.”
Harry had listened to his aunt and uncle casually dismiss him for the thousandth time and had wondered what it might be like to have parents who care enough to plan where you might go if they died.
Hermione and Ron’s chatter seemed to get quieter as Harry remembered. His parents had cared enough. Maybe...maybe they had a back-up guardian listed, someone who wasn’t the Dursleys. Maybe they had had a will and it had gotten overlooked or lost when Voldemort attacked. Sirius would know, but Harry had no idea how to contact him now that he had escaped.
Then it hit him. Professor Lupin! He knew Harry’s dad, too, and he knew Sirius. Maybe he would know, too. He’d have to ask him in the morning, after the moon had gone down. Plan made, Harry drifted off to sleep.
The next morning
Madam Pomfrey insisted on serving breakfast to Harry, Hermione, and Ron in the hospital wing before releasing them. She kicked them out once she felt certain Ron could walk on his leg again. Harry excused himself while Hermione dragged Ron off to the library to help her research the Ministry. He wasn’t sure where Professor Lupin would be, but he started with his office.
Professor Lupin was in his office, a trunk sitting open in the centre of the room. Harry took it in and stared at the man. “You’re leaving?”
Lupin set a book in the trunk and smiled sadly. “I’m afraid so,” he said. “I can’t stay after last night, not after endangering you all.”
“But...you didn’t hurt any of us. And you’re safe if you take the Wolfsbane, right?” said Harry.
“But I forgot it last night,” said Lupin. “And someone let it slip. No parent will want a werewolf teaching their children.”
“You’re the best teacher we’ve had for Defense!” Harry protested, tears springing to his eyes. "It's not fair!"
“Fairness won’t matter to them,” said Lupin. He stared into his half-filled trunk. “I don’t suppose you’d like to help me pack?”
Harry swallowed away his tears. “Okay,” he said, heading to the bookshelf. “Are all of these yours?”
“Unless they have a Hogwarts library stamp,” said Lupin. They packed the trunk together in silence for a few minutes, and then Harry decided he might as well ask.
“So, last night, Sirius told me that he was my godfather,” he said, looking down at the book he had just picked up so he wouldn’t have to see Lupin’s reaction.
“That’s right,” said Lupin. He smiled. “He was so excited about you. Until they went into hiding, he was over at James and Lily’s house all the time. He was practically a third parent.”
“I didn’t know that,” said Harry. “I mean, I didn’t know he was my godfather.”
Lupin sighed. “I suppose, given that everyone thought he had betrayed your parents, your guardian might not have wanted to say anything.” He lifted a small stone sculpture from a shelf and wrapped it in a battered woolen scarf.
Harry shrugged and stacked some more books into the trunk. “The Dursleys don’t tell me much of anything.”
The werewolf stilled. “The Dursleys?” His tone was casual, but something sounded off.
Harry blinked. “Yeah. Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon. I live with them. Aunt Petunia was Mum’s sister.”
Lupin set the artifact and scarf down. “Harry, you were never supposed to go to Petunia’s. If something happened to Sirius, you were supposed to go to your godmother and her family...well, Alice can’t now. But I very clearly remember James saying that Tony was on the list, too.”
Harry felt like he was standing on the edge of cliff. He had been right. “Who’s Tony?”
“Anthony, but he goes by Tony. He’s one of James’ cousins, about the same age as us. Last time I heard, he was living in America.”
“Could you...do you know how to contact him?” Harry asked. “I just...I can’t face living with the Dursleys anymore. Dumbledore always says I have to go back, but I don’t want to. If you have his address, I could write to him.”
“No, I don’t have it, but I know who will,” Lupin said grimly. He gestured with his wand and the door to his office swung shut. “How much do you know about Gringotts?”
Harry and Lupin sat down at the desk, Lupin ordered tea from the house elves, and Harry proceeded to get a lesson in the role of the goblins in magical society that was nothing like the lectures he heard in History of Magic. Lupin, who told Harry to call him Remus now that he had resigned from Hogwarts, helped Harry draft a letter to the goblins which authorized him to access any guardianship documents the Potters had left on Harry’s behalf. He assured Harry that if he couldn’t contact Tony through Gringotts, he would track him down another way. School let out in another week and a half, so that gave them plenty of time to make some sort of arrangements. Remus would meet Harry at the train station and take him over to Gringotts. “If I can’t get Tony here by then, I know someone who will be willing to have you stay until he can get here,” Remus assured him.
“But what if he doesn’t want me? I’ve never even heard of him.”
Remus grinned. “I remember Tony very well,” he said. “I think it’s safe to say that he won’t let anyone stop him from getting to you.”
Once they were done with the letter for Gringotts, Harry scribbled a letter to the Dursleys, telling them that he had a ride home from the train and they wouldn’t need to come fetch him. He said goodbye to Remus, who handed him the Marauders’ Map in farewell, and headed for the Owlery.
Harry watched Hedwig fly away clutching the letter and something very like hope seemed to fizzle beneath his skin.
Two days later, Washington, DC
Tony DiNozzo closed his door behind himself and leaned against it for a moment. He shut his eyes and tried to let the stress of his most recent case slide away. Then he locked the door, activated his security system, and stowed his gun in its safe. After a quick shower, he noticed that the post box he kept in his walk-in closet had mail.
He opened it up and stared at the letter on top. The box was full of the usual magical newspapers, a few newsletters he subscribed to, Gringotts account statements, and a couple pieces of junk mail. The letter he picked up was none of those.
The envelope was heavy linen paper, and the full Gringotts seal was stamped on it in purple wax. The envelope had to have multiple sheets in it.
Tony lifted his wand and scanned the letter for curses with one of the spells he had learned in his MBI training. It was clear. He cracked the seal. The envelope contained two letters and some official paperwork. He read the Gringotts letter first. The other seemed to be an enclosure written by someone whose handwriting was vaguely familiar.
He frowned over the letter, and read it again. “Fuck,” he said, setting the letter down to pull out his suitcase and start packing.