Disclaimer – Harry Potter does not belong to me, obviously. This little story, however, does.
A/N - Hello, and welcome to the second and final part of this little tale! Thank you so much for all your lovely comments after part one. I know a lot of you were probably hoping that Harry was going to be rescued in this chapter, but I've decided to keep this story as cannon as possible. That being said, there's still going to be a 'saviour' of sorts, although definitely an unlikely one. I won't say anything more now, but I hope you like the direction I've taken this story in, and that you'll let me know what you think. Enjoy!
A Day in the Life
Arabella Figg was worried.
With almost mechanical movements, Arabella began to make herself a cup of tea – an integral part of her normal morning ritual. Usually she took pleasure in the simplicity of the task, but on this particular morning, her thoughts were focused elsewhere, centering almost exclusively around one very specific little boy.
The child had been coming to her home for a while now, on and off. The Dursleys had never shown much interest in him, and as the closest neighbour without a family of her own, Arabella had ended up effectively raising the boy herself.
Of course, her care had come sporadically over the years; often whenever the Dursley family – sans Harry, of course – had decided to go off on a day trip or away on holiday. She didn't see much of him when the boys were in school, though she sometimes saw him walking home alone. That worried her too, but she was his baby-sitter at best, and she had almost no authority to meddle in his life, even if it was for the better. She'd never been able to get as close to the family as she would've liked, and she knew even now that would always remain largely on the periphery of Harry's life.
She sighed, taking a long drink from her tea. Even just watching from the side-lines, worrying about Harry Potter wasn't a new thing for Arabella.
When, all those years ago, Dumbledore had asked her to move into the area in order to keep an eye on the Potter boy, Arabella had readily agreed; not because she had been particularly close to the Potters, but because she had owed Dumbledore far more than she would ever be able to pay. The old headmaster had shown Arabella – an isolated and lonely squib – far more courtesy and respect than anyone else she had ever known. That respect had remained with her, and in truth, it had stopped her from completely giving up.
So when Dumbledore had asked her to keep a watchful gaze on the young saviour, Arabella had packed up her things and moved to Little Whinging without a second thought. Unfortunately, the assignment – if one could even call it that – had been difficult almost from the get go.
The first hurdle had been integrating herself into the Dursleys' world. Vernon and Petunia seemed to think themselves a class above everyone else, and had always been intent on mingling only with the highest class of people. Arabella - most decidedly not of the upper class – had initially struggled to find an opportunity to meet the Dursley couple and make their acquaintance.
In the end, it had been Harry himself – just three years old at the time - who had broken the ice.
Arabella thought back to that day as she took another sip of tea, smiling softly to herself as she allowed the memories to wash over her.
On that particular day, an unremarkable day in every other respect, she'd been walking home from the shops when she'd spotted him.
Harry had been sat, quite content, on the side of the pavement outside her home, playing with Mr Tickles. Her cat, a lovely tabby, had purred contentedly as Harry had stroked him, showing much more care than most children his age would have. Quite unsure what to do, and completely unprepared for his appearance, Arabella recalled with some embarrassment that she had simply stopped and stared at him.
When he'd noticed her presence, little Harry had stared right back at her; he hadn't been scared, nor apologetic. He definitely hadn't been happy. He'd just stared at her, eerily, almost as if staring into her soul.
She'd come to her senses and picked him up then, and he hadn't struggled. He'd tensed, she remembered that much, but he certainly hadn't tried to get away from her.
Arabella, knowing precisely who he was and where he should be, had taken him immediately back to Number Four, Privet Drive. And when a harried Aunt Petunia had snatched the boy from her arms without even a word of thanks, Arabella had taken the opportunity to offer her services as babysitter. It was an offer that Petunia had snatched at almost as quickly as she had the child, and that, as they say, was that.
Arabella had been taking care of - and worrying about - Harry, on and off, ever since.
She took another sip of tea, and allowed her thoughts to meander back to the present.
Since his eight birthday, Arabella's concern for Harry had grown quite considerably.
He'd always been a pleasant, docile child, but in recent weeks, Harry had been withdrawn, impatient and outright snappy at times. He hadn't been outwardly rude towards her, but he hadn't really engaged with her beyond the minimal social interactions that were required either. He barely spoke, he didn't eat much – even though she had even bought a fresh chocolate cake just for him – and he didn't seem interested in doing anything at all. From her point of view, it was almost like his very spirit had been broken.
Arabella had a mind to change that. She didn't really have an extensive experience in child care, but there was one thing she knew that all children, at some stage at least, liked to do. With her worrying growing with each passing day, she couldn't help but hope that Harry, in that at least, wasn't all that different in that respect.
Harry was dropped off at her house late that afternoon, and was set to spend the weekend with her whilst the rest of the Dursley family were off to Cornwall. Arabella wasn't quite sure why Harry always seemed to be excluded from the family holidays, but she decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth. It was an opportunity to look after him, which was what she had moved to Little Whinging for in the first place. And if she could bring a little joy into his life in the process…well, who was she to argue?
"Harry, come along," she said, coaxing the reluctant child into the living room. He had a small bag with him, which she knew it probably only contained some clothes for the weekend. Harry never seemed to have any toys to play with, and he'd always had to make do with her cat albums and the TV. Today, Arabella hoped to fix that.
"Now, you get settled while I just pop into the kitchen and get us something to drink," Arabella began.
"Okay," Harry mumbled, eyes downcast and uninterested. Arabella felt her concern grow once more.
She made her tea quickly, and got some fresh orange juice for Harry. When she re-entered the living room, Harry was sat patiently on the couch with hands resting on his knees. He took the glass of juice gratefully.
"Would you like a biscuit, Harry?" she asked.
"Okay," Harry replied. Finally his gaze rose to meet hers, and suddenly she was pulled back to the day they had first met. Those eyes of his…they hadn't changed.
She made her way back into the kitchen then, but as well as grabbing the tin of biscuits, Arabella also picked up the small present she wrapped this morning. Oh, she hoped he liked it…
"Thanks, Mrs Figg," Harry said when he passed her the biscuits, out of politeness more than genuine gratitude. Arabella didn't mind. She'd take Harry's manners over the Dursley boy's any day of the week.
"You're welcome, Harry," Arabella replied with a small smile.
He munched quietly on his biscuit, waiting politely for her to join him. He was probably expecting her to bring out her photo albums again, the poor child. Fortunately, she had other plans for today...
"Harry," she began as she made her way over to the couch. "I hope you don't mind, but I've got you a little gift."
"I…" Harry began, but he couldn't find the words to continue. He swallowed the biscuit he had been eating and stared up at her. "What?"
The poor child looked shell-shocked, and after a few awkward seconds, Arabella took pity on him.
"Here, Harry," Arabella said, holding out the small present. "I know it was your birthday a few weeks ago, but…well, it's better late than never, I suppose."
"A present?" Harry asked, brow furrowed. He made no move to take the present from her. "For me? Are you sure?"
"Of course I am, silly," she replied. "Here, open it."
She held it out, and this time he took it. She could see his hands shaking slightly as he pulled open the wrapping paper, taking great care not to rip it. It was painstakingly done, but eventually he managed to pull out the small gift she had purchased for him - a small pack of coloured pencils, and a little drawing pad.
He turned them over in his hands, his eyes widening slightly in barely contained surprise. It was only a small gift really, nothing like the ridiculous gifts his cousin probably received, but Harry seemed so happy that Arabella felt her heart warm with the sheer force of it.
"Thank you, Mrs Figg," he said finally, apparently remembering his manners. She smiled widely at him.
"So," she began cheerfully. "Do you want to try them out? I was rather hoping you would draw me a picture."
"Okay," Harry began a little uncertainly, and she noted that he was holding the pencils and pad almost reverently.
"Come on," she nudged. "You can sit on the kitchen table."
He followed her into the kitchen and plopped himself down at the table. Then, almost as if he was waiting for permission, he placed the pad down onto the table and chose one of the pencils. He made no move to start.
"What do you want me to draw for you?" he asked shyly, almost as if he was trying to hold himself back.
"What do you think I would like?" she asked.
"Cats," he replied, smiling slightly. "You like cats."
"That would be wonderful," she replied, nodding towards the paper. Taking the hint, Harry finally began to draw.
He spent all afternoon on it, pausing only to eat dinner, and it was quite a bit into the evening before he finally - and rather nervously - declared that he had finished.
For an eight year old, the picture Harry had drawn wasn't bad, but it was certainly no masterpiece either. Even so, Arabella loved it. She was careful not to be too expressive, since Harry already looked ready to flee, but she couldn't help smiling at him.
"Thank you, Harry," she told him, taking the paper from him. "It's a wonderful drawing. Now, I think it's time you got ready for bed, don't you?"
"Yes, Mrs Figg," he replied dutifully. The distance seemed to grow between them again, but Arabella knew it was for the best. If Petunia discovered that Harry liked coming to see her, Arabella knew that the visits would stop immediately. She didn't know what went on it that house -and she probably never would - but whatever it was, it wasn't good, and it wasn't fair.
"Night, Mrs Figg," Harry told her, clearly intending to go upstairs and get ready for bed himself. He'd always been an independent child, so Arabella had no doubt he would be able to manage all by himself.
"Goodnight, Harry," she replied, quite intent upon making herself a final cup of tea before getting ready for bed herself.
When it came time for him to be picked up the next day, Harry looked a little regretful, almost as if he didn't really want to go back home. Arabella felt a twinge of regret in her own chest as well, but she knew there was nothing to be done about it. It was for the best, she told herself rather forcefully...
"Mrs Figg," Harry began shyly, fiddling with a thread on his jumped whilst they sat together on the sofa. They'd been waiting for Mrs Dursley for an hour already, but it was nothing new. Rather sadly, neither of them were very surprised by her lateness.
"Yes, Harry?" she asked.
He mumbled something in reply, but even though she strained her ears as much as she could, she didn't hear a word of it.
"I'm sorry, Harry," she said, concerned. "I didn't quite catch that."
He made a deliberate move to calm down, but she could still see him fidgeting.
"Can I keep them here?" he asked, raising his voice slightly. He was still speaking a little fast, almost as if he was scared of her hearing him, and her worry grew once more. "The pencils, I mean. And the pad. Can I keep them here?"
"Oh," Arabella replied, finally catching on. "Why, yes, I don't see why not."
The relief in the boy was almost palpable, and it made her sad.
"Thank you," he told her once again, his gaze meeting hers. She smiled back at him; that particular 'thank you' had been the most sincere of the lot.
When Harry came back the following week, he rushed straight for the kitchen table. Since she'd known he would, Arabella had already set up the pad and pencils in anticipation of his visit.
Harry was clearly excited, but when he turned back to face her, perhaps about to ask her what she wanted him to draw next, he froze, his gaze caught on her fridge; and more specially, to what she had taped onto it.
"That's my picture," he pointed out, brow furrowed.
"Yes," Arabella replied. "I hope you don't mind."
His confusion deepened, and his gaze fixed onto hers, almost as if he was looking for any sign of deception. Finding none, however, clearly only served to confuse him further.
"You kept it?" Harry said, clearly surprised it's appearance on her fridge. She frowned. Had he thought she would just throw it away? Who in Merlin's name would do such a thing...?
"Of course I did," she replied, smiling at the young boy. "You put a lot of work into it, Harry, and I like it very much. It deserves to go up on the fridge."
"I…" he paused, glancing up at her shyly. "You really like it?"
"I do," she confirmed. "Would you mind if I kept it on there? I can take it down if it bothers you."
"Oh…er," Harry began. "No, you can keep it there." He shrugged slightly, but the action was anything but casual. "You know, if you want."
"I do, very much so," she told him firmly. "Now, how about you draw be another one to join it, hmm?"
"Okay," he replied softly, turning his attention back to his pad and pencils.
Arabella smiled as she saw him eagerly choose a pencil, a small yet undeniable flicker of joy flashing across his face. She would never be as close to Harry as Dumbledore had originally anticipated, or as close as she herself had hoped, but little moments like this one made the whole experience worth it anyway.
She knew that Harry was not going to have an easy life, not with the shadow of fame that would inevitably hang over him once he returned to the Wizarding World, but she hoped that in the years that followed, he was able to retain at least some of his innocence - that some of this Harry remained. Arabella knew that her role was never destined to be at the forefront, and she had long ago accepted that, but she couldn't help but hope he remembered this, and that he took some comfort and reassurance from it.
As she continued to watch Harry work though, every so often she caught him glancing up at his picture on the fridge with a small smile on his face.
And when she saw that smile, it filled her with hope. When she saw that smile, she smiled too.
A/N - So, how was it? I tried to end it on a moderately optimistic note, but I didn't want to stray too far from canon. I wanted this to seem like a missing scene from the books rather than an AU, so hopefully I achieved that. I've read so many stories on this site in which Harry is rescued from the Dursleys that I thought it would be interesting to go down another route, and Arabella Figg is definitely not a widely used character in the world of fanfiction, so I thought she deserved her moment to shine. In any case, I hope she and Harry both seemed in character, and that you liked this little pre-Hogwarts tale.
If you have a moment, please let me know your thoughts. I would really appreciate any feedback you're able to give, be it good or bad. This story is complete for now, but if you liked it, please check out my other stories because you might find something else you like as well. I'm sure I'll write more stories in the future as well, but until then, and as always, thanks for reading!