Author's Note: I had a dream in which Harry Potter was being raised by Sirius, Remus, and a female friend of theirs in the Order that was in Hufflepuff, and due to this, he and his friends ended up in Hufflepuff instead of Gryffindor. This plot bunny refused to leave me, so I decided to write a fic with this premise.
Disclaimer for the whole fic: I do not own Harry Potter. It is the property of J. K. Rowling, fantastic writer and current wielder of Chekhov's Gun (according to the TVTropes pantheon, under the Narrative section), and I am merely playing in her universe.
Arianrhod Llewellyn, Ria for short, was taking her usual morning walk when she happened to pass by the local church. A basket was lying on the steps, and so, assuming that someone had dropped off a donation, she went over with the intent of bringing it to the vicar. However, when she looked down at the basket, she let out a gasp. A sleeping baby, with lightning bolt scar on his forehead, was lying in it, with a torn piece of paper pinned to the somewhat stained blanket he was wrapped in.
"What in Merlin's name is Harry Potter doing here?" Ria whispered, as she picked up the child. A quick glance at the paper proved that her identification was right, for scrawled on it was the name and his date of birth, July 30th, 1980. She thought over to what had happened within the past couple of weeks and recalled hearing that Harry Potter was supposedly sent to relatives. Since James Potter had no living relatives, at least not any within two or three degrees of cousinship, the boy would have had to go to his mother's family. Lily Potter did have a sister, who was Muggle, and presumably Harry would have gone to her. From the looks of things, however, the aunt didn't want to keep him.
"I didn't know Lily well, since I was a few years ahead of her in school, but I did overhear her mention to a friend once that her sister hated magic due to jealousy or something like that," Ria muttered. She looked around to make sure that nobody was watching, and then Apparated back to her family home.
The shock of Apparating woke up Harry, but Ria was able to calm him down and transfigured a towel and one of her potion stirrers into a teddy bear and a rattle to keep him occupied for the time being. She then strengthened and added to the wards on her home, so that Harry could be safe, and then went into the kitchen to prepare some food for the both of them.
After breakfast, Ria gave Harry a bath, dressed him in clothes and a nappy she transfigured from one of her old robes, and then took him to visit the Weasleys, who lived two towns over. Molly and Arthur Weasley had been on good terms with her back in school, though they had been a few years above her, and Ria had dated Molly's brother Gideon. In fact, they had been engaged, but Death Eaters had killed Gideon and his twin Fabian three weeks later, during the war.
"Ria! What a pleasant surprise," said Molly warmly when she opened the door. Her gaze then fell on Harry. "When did you suddenly gain a child? Come in and you can tell me everything."
The three went into the kitchen, where Molly had been feeding her two youngest, Ron, who was five months older than Harry, and Ginny, who was three months old. She resumed breastfeeding Ginny, while Ria explained about finding Harry Potter on the steps of a church and presumably abandoned by his maternal aunt. "So I thought that if Harry is unwanted by his aunt, then I'd take him in," Ria concluded. "I would like your advice, since you've got experience, what with currently raising seven kids and all, and all I know is what I remember from when I used to baby-sit for my younger cousins."
Once Molly had gotten over her shock that Harry had been abandoned, she was quite willing to offer advice. She made up a list of necessary items that a toddler would require, and offered to keep an eye on Harry while Ria went out and bought everything. "It'll be no trouble, Ria. Harry can play with Ron. Charlie and Bill are keeping an eye on Percy, Fred, and George at the moment."
To avoid inciting comment in her own town, Ria decided to go to London and buy everything there. When she returned, she set up her old bedroom as a nursery, and then went back to the Weasleys. "Thank you for looking after Harry for me, Molly. But I am going to need to set up some sort of baby-sitting arrangement while I'm at work. I may have this week off, but next week I have to be back at St. Mungo's. I could transfer to part-time, or change shifts, but I can't quit entirely."
"Ria, I can look after Harry while you're at work," Molly offered. "It's no trouble at all. Other than his babbling for his parents, he was fine, and had fun stacking blocks with Ron."
"If you're sure," Ria said doubtfully. "I don't want to burden you unnecessarily."
Molly insisted it was fine, and so in the end it was arranged that Harry would stay at the Weasleys during the day on weekdays, with a fee of twenty Galleons to be paid weekly. She did try to protest that she didn't need to be paid, but Ria refused to let Molly provide baby-sitting services for free.
When Arthur returned home from work late that afternoon, Ria and Molly explained things to him. He was also shocked that Harry would be abandoned like that, and offered his services as a surrogate father, just as the two women were acting as surrogate mothers.
The next day, Ria looked up the Potters' friends. She knew neither Sirius Black nor Peter Pettigrew would be available, for the former was in prison for killing the latter and thirteen Muggles, and also apparently had betrayed the Potters to Voldemort. However, when she went to see Severus Snape, whom she recalled was friends with Lily, it turned out that the two had gotten into a huge fight at the end of fifth year and their friendship had ended. While Severus still cared for Lily, he was very upset that she had married James (who had made a habit of bullying him back in school).
"I can see why you'd be upset that Lily married James," said Ria. "But I don't understand how your friendship ended. From what I saw back in school, the two of you got along very well, even if the two of you were in opposing houses, and you were a bit, well, moody most of the time."
After a moment of silence, Severus snapped, "I called her the 'm' word, all right? Potter and that traitor Black were bullying me as usual, and in a fit of anger and embarrassment, I snapped at Lily when she came to my rescue. I tried apologizing to her after, but she wouldn't listen."
Ria blinked, and had a feeling that there was more to it. Perhaps being in Slytherin had managed to change Severus enough that Lily didn't like the kind of person he was becoming, and calling her a 'mudblood' had been the last straw. Otherwise she would have forgiven him for his mistake.
"I'm sorry that it happened to you, Professor Snape," said Ria sympathetically, using his professional title, as he was the Potions Master at Hogwarts. "I know what it is like to lose someone you care for. I was engaged, but my fiancé was killed during the war, along with his twin, before we could marry."
"I'm sorry for your loss," said Severus curtly, with an undertone of understanding. "Anyway, why did you wish to see me, Miss Llewellyn? You only said that you were looking up the Potters' friends."
"Can I trust you not to tell anyone else about this?" Ria asked. "Especially Professor Dumbledore."
"I vow on my magic and my – regard – for Lily Evans, to not tell anyone else whatever you tell me, unless you say otherwise," promised Severus. "Will that suffice, Miss Llewellyn?"
"Yes, and please call me Ria. Now, since you were friends with Lily, is it true that her Muggle sister disliked magic or was jealous of not being a witch or something like that?"
Severus nodded. "Petunia was always spying on Lily and me, and after Lily got her letter, actually wrote to Professor Dumbledore asking for admittance as well. Obviously, as a Muggle she couldn't, and after that, Petunia declared that she hated magic and that witches and wizards were freaks."
"So that means that Petunia Evans would not want to take in her nephew then," Ria concluded.
Severus nodded again. "I believe she is a Dursley now, since Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall both told me that she is married and has a son around the same age as Lily's son. In any case, I did tell Professor Dumbledore that leaving her son with his aunt and uncle wasn't the best idea, but he assured me that they wouldn't harm their own flesh-and-blood, and Harry Potter would be protected."
"Obviously Professor Dumbledore was mistaken," said Ria sourly. "This is what you're to keep quiet, Professor Snape. When I was taking my morning walk yesterday, I saw a basket on the steps of the town church. Inside the basket was Harry Potter, with a paper having his name and birthday pinned to the blanket, and it was clear that he was being abandoned. I assumed that his relatives didn't want him, and gather that if they had kept him, they would have made his life miserable."
Severus looked shocked. "But Professor Dumbledore said he left a letter explaining everything, and Professor McGonagall and Hagrid confirmed it, as they were also there at the time! I suppose Petunia disregarded the letter, or perhaps her husband did, and insisted that they didn't want a 'freak' in their home. It stands to reason that Petunia would marry someone as small-minded as she is."
"I am going to raise Harry Potter, with the help of Molly and Arthur Weasley, who would have been my sister and brother-in-law if Gideon Prewett hadn't died. They have seven children and therefore know quite a bit about child-raising. However, I wanted to also have the Potters' friends involved in Harry's life. After all, Harry is the last link they have to the Potters. I understand that you and James did not get on in school, but would you, for Lily's sake, visit sometimes and tell Harry about his mother? I can't, since I was five years above you all in school, and was a Hufflepuff besides."
Severus considered it for a minute, then nodded. "For Lily's sake, I will do it. Don't expect me to tell the boy anything about his father, though, other than that we didn't get along and leaving it at that."
"That's fine," said Ria. "I just wanted you to tell Harry about his mother, since you were Lily's oldest friend. Now, I have to visit the Longbottoms and Remus Lupin. I understand that Remus is the only remaining close friend of James, after what happened with Black and Pettigrew, and Alice Longbottom was friends with Lily and Neville was born the day before Harry."
The Longbottoms were easy to track down, since they had gone out of hiding at the conclusion of the war. Alice and Frank were horrified to discover that Harry Potter had been abandoned by his relatives, promised to keep it secret that Ria was going to raise him, and offered their help in his upbringing. Since Molly did have several children of her own to raise, Alice volunteered to help out, as it would be good for Neville to be around other children his age. Ria then put Alice in touch with Molly, who accepted the help after a moment of hesitation, and the two made plans to meet tomorrow.
"Good, that's settled," said Ria. "Now, I have one more person to meet, unless the two of you know of anyone else that was friends with the Potters and can be trusted?"
Alice shook her head. "Everyone else they were friends with either died or turned out to be traitors. Well, they were friends with Hagrid and Professor McGonagall, if you want to include those that are in an older generation, and feel that they won't tell Professor Dumbledore. But I believe that's it, Ria."
"Thank you, Alice," Ria said with a smile. "I'll see you and Frank later. Good day to you both."
She had set down the street, with the intent of tracking down Remus Lupin, who hadn't responded to the letter she had sent yesterday, when she heard the cracks of Apparation. She paused, then took out her wand and silently made her way back to the Longbottom home. She had just reached the front door, which had been blasted open, when she heard screams. She instantly Summoned her Patronus and sent a message to her friend Amelia Bones, who was high-up in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, asking her to have Aurors sent to the Longbottom home immediately.
After that, Ria silently went inside, to find four people, one of them no more than nineteen or twenty, angrily questioning Frank and Alice about Voldemort's whereabouts and torturing the two when they protested that they didn't know. "Stupefy," Ria whispered, and the young man was stiffened and fell to the ground, Stunned. She did the same thing to the older man next to him, and that was when the third man and a woman turned around to see what was going on.
"How dare you interrupt what we were doing!" the woman shrieked angrily. "Avada Kedavra!"
Ria, who had been expecting a spell, dodged the Killing Curse and instead the jet of green light hit the end-table in the living room and blasted it into pieces. She retaliated with the Cutting Curse.
The woman managed to deflect this, but accidently caused the third man to be hit with it instead. He let out a howl of pain as the sleeve of his robe ripped and a slash appeared on his arm, causing blood to seep out. Grimly thinking that it was a good thing she was a Healer, as those who could put you together also knew how to take you apart, Ria cast a Bone-Shattering Curse. The woman dodged that as well, but in doing so tripped over one of the Stunned men and fell down.
"Stupefy!" Ria cast, taking advantage of the woman's distraction to Stun her. She then turned her attention to the remaining man, who had stopped the bleeding. That was when cracks of Apparation sounded and half a dozen Aurors appeared in the room. The quickly took down the remaining man, and commended Ria, who was now tending to Frank and Alice, for her quick thinking.
The woman was identified as Bellatrix Lestrange, nee Black, and two of the men were her husband, Rudolphus, and brother-in-law, Rabastan. The fourth person, however, was Barty Crouch, Jr., son of the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, who hated Dark wizards. The Aurors were very shocked at this, since Mr. Crouch's son was the last person they'd think to be a Death Eater.
Frank and Alice fortunately had suffered very little damage from the Cruciatus Curse, as Ria had come to their rescue in time. If she hadn't visited, it was quite likely that Aurors wouldn't have come until it was too late, and the Longbottoms would either be dead or permanently brain damaged.
The Aurors took down the statements from the Longbottoms and Ria as to what had occurred, and then left with the four captured Death Eaters. "Thank you for coming to our rescue, Ria," Frank said once they were gone. "If you hadn't been there, I shudder to think would happen. Fortunately Neville was upstairs taking a nap, and we managed to cast a protective ward when the four burst in. That's why they were able to get us before we could do anything to them. We were busy protecting Neville."
"I thought that with Voldemort's defeat, we'd be safe," Alice said. "Professor Dumbledore assured us that we could come out of hiding, since it was now clear that Neville wasn't the child of the prophecy."
"Prophecy?" asked Ria. "What are you talking about, Alice?"
"During the interview for the new Divination teacher at Hogwarts, the candidate, Professor Trelawney, made a prophecy," Frank explained. "Professor Dumbledore, who was conducting the interview, heard it. He told us, and the Potters, that the prophecy said that a child born at the end of July, to parents who had thrice defied Voldemort, would be marked as the Dark Lord's equal and have the power to defeat him, or vice versa. That's why Voldemort went after the Potters and tried to kill Harry. He knew about the first part of the prophecy and wanted to prevent it from coming true."
"So I take it that the scar on Harry's forehead would be mark? Perhaps the Dark Lord had told those four Death Eaters something about the prophecy and that's why they thought you might have some knowledge of his whereabouts and targeted you. In any case, I suggest more wards on your home. I can help with that, as my parents were excellent Warders and taught me well. Mother was just a little disappointed that I chose to become a Healer rather than follow in their footsteps."
"Thank you, Ria," said Alice, and the three of them set up more wards on the Longbottom home.
After that, Ria bid them good-day again and left. After some thought, she decided to send a Patronus message, since her owl had gone unanswered. An hour later, she got one in return. "Since you said that it concerns Harry, I will meet you, Ria," Remus's voice sounded from the Patronus, which looked like a canine, but was too blurry to tell if it was a dog, or something else, like a fox or a wolf. "I will be at the Leaky Cauldron at half-past four this afternoon."
Ria stopped by the Weasleys to make sure Harry was still doing well, and then Flooed to the Leaky Cauldron, as she needed a rest from all the Apparating she had done that day. Remus arrived fifteen minutes later, and they went to a private room that Tom the barman had provided so they could talk in secret. "Thank you for meeting me, Remus," said Ria. As they had both been in the Order of the Phoenix, they were on friendly terms. "I haven't seen you since Lily's and James's funerals two weeks ago. I know you're upset and grieving, but that doesn't mean you should ignore my owl. I didn't go to pieces after Gideon's death, and instead got on with my life like he would have wanted."
"I'm sorry, Ria," apologized Remus. "I couldn't bring myself to answer your letter yesterday. It wasn't until I got your Patronus message stating you wanted to meet me regarding Harry that I recovered."
"You're forgiven. But please try to pull yourself together, all right? Lily and James wouldn't want you wallowing in grief over them, and Harry is going to need his 'Uncle Moony', which I presume is your nickname. When he's not babbling for his parents, he asks for you and 'Uncle Padfoot', in baby-talk, of course. Uncle Padfoot would be Sirius Black, I presume? Or was that Peter Pettigrew?"
"That was Sirius," Remus said, his face turning dark. "Peter's nickname was Wormtail."
"Interesting," said Ria. "Harry hasn't mentioned wanting Peter at all. The only people he's asked for besides his parents are you and Sirius. Anyway, I need to tell you what's going on with Harry, but you must promise not to tell anyone else about it, not even Professor Dumbledore. Some things I've heard today make me feel that he can be trusted to fight Voldemort, but he's got a deeper agenda."
Remus looked questioning at that, but promised to keep what Ria said secret. She then told him about Harry being abandoned by his relatives and her intent to raise him with the help of the Weasleys and having the Potters' friends be involved in his life. "But Professor Dumbledore assured me that Harry's relatives would take good care of him, and advised that I not cause any issues by visiting him until after he started Hogwarts! I didn't realize that Professor Dumbledore could misjudge the situation and that Lily's sister wouldn't want Harry, no matter how much she disliked magic."
"Well, it obviously happened, and I have a feeling that if Professor Dumbledore knew what happened, he would still want Harry at his relatives due to whatever protection was set up. Short of putting them under the Imperius Curse or modifying their memories so that they like magic, there is no way that they would take in Harry, except begrudgingly, or treat him like their own. Threats would only upset them, and persuasion or bribes wouldn't change their feelings towards him."
"You're absolutely right, Ria," said Remus. "What Lily and James told me about the Dursleys wasn't good, and they didn't attend the wedding. Lily was quite upset over that, and she was upset before that too, when Petunia flat out told her that she couldn't be a bridesmaid, because Petunia didn't want to be upstaged at her own wedding. Er, are you sure you want me to be around Harry?"
"Of course," Ria exclaimed. "He's the last link you have to your friends. Or does this have to do with the fact that you're, shall we say indisposed, around the full moon and think I might be prejudiced?"
Remus gave a start of surprise and she said with a smile, "We were in the Order, remember? Your 'illness' was known to most of us, and we all had no problem with it. Obviously you can't visit during the full moon, but any other time you are free to come by and tell Harry all about his parents. In fact, when he's older, I'd like to engage you as a tutor, if you don't have any other jobs lined up."
"That's not going to be likely," said Remus bitterly. "The Order may not have prejudices against werewolves, but the same can't be said of the rest of the British wizarding world. I tried to find employment after graduation, but despite my excellent grades, once what I was came out, nobody would hire me. So I devoted my time to the Order, with James and Lily supporting me."
"I'm sorry, Remus," said Ria. "In the meantime, I would like it if you could help in Harry's upbringing, and then become his tutor once he's old enough for schooling. Molly, Alice, and I will be his surrogate mothers, and Arthur, Frank, and you will be his surrogate fathers. Professor Snape will be busy teaching, but he will visit when he can and act as a surrogate uncle. Now, what can you tell me about Sirius? From what I saw in the Order, and the two years our school time overlapped, I find it hard to believe that he would betray the Potters and kill Peter. There has to be something deeper to it."
Remus shrugged. "I found it hard to believe too, but all the evidence says he did. Also, there was an incident at Hogwarts that disturbed me. He told Severus Snape how to get into the passageway under the Whomping Willow, which was what I used to get to the Shrieking Shack, where I would transform. If James hadn't found out and rescued Snape, I would have killed him, or worse, bitten him."
Ria winced. "No wonder he hates you all. Not only did James and Sirius bully him, but Sirius also set him up to be hurt by you. I'm sorry about that. Did Sirius ever explain why he did that?"
"Snape wasn't completely blameless," Remus said. "While we were wrong to bully him, or in my case ignore what was going on and not make more of an effort to stop it, he sometimes instigated things. He was also quite determined to find out my secret, and I think his fellow Slytherins were something of a bad influence. Anyway, he was making a nuisance of himself, and finally Sirius got fed up and told him how the get to the passageway. I don't think he really wanted to get Snape killed, and was only thinking it was just a prank, but it did take James and me a couple of months to forgive Sirius."
"I see. Well, would you object to packing up your things and moving to my home by the end of the week, Remus? I'll make arrangements for the full moon, and you can help Molly and Alice with caring for Harry while I'm on shift at St. Mungo's. Your pay for baby-sitting him will be room and board and forty Galleons a month. You'll get a larger salary once you become his tutor."
"I don't mind moving," Remus said, once he'd gotten over his surprise over having a proper job with an actual salary. "Thank you, Ria, for what you're doing."
"It's nothing," said Ria modestly. "I need to get back to Harry, and I'm sure you have things you need to do, so we'll talk later. You can come by tomorrow and baby-sit Harry while I speak with my friend Amelia Bones and file the adoption paperwork so he can't be sent back to his relatives."
"I'll do that then," said Remus. Ria gave him the address of her home so he could Floo over tomorrow, paid for the tea they had drunk during their conversation, and then the two left the Leaky Cauldron.
Ria returned to the Weasleys, where she helped Molly prepare dinner for the family. After eating, she returned to her home with Harry, where she got him to fall asleep and placed him in his crib.
The next morning, Remus came by as promised. Harry perked up to see his 'Uncle Moony', and Remus in turn was very happy to see him. After Ria gave a quick tour of her home, Remus and Harry settled down to play with some blocks, and she left for the Ministry of Magic.
"Barty Crouch is in a bad mood today," Amelia Bones said once she greeted Ria and led her inside the office. "Not surprising, since his son was caught attacking the Longbottoms. However did you manage to find out what was going on and save them in time, Ria?"
"I had gone to visit them, and the Death Eaters showed up a couple of minutes after I'd left, Amelia. I had only gone a little ways down the street when I heard the sound of Apparation."
Amelia nodded, and raised a brow when Ria cast a spell to prevent eavesdropping. "I take it that you have something to tell me that you don't want anyone overhearing?"
"I do." Ria swore her friend to secrecy, and then proceeded to explain what was going on with Harry Potter, concluding with, "Since I'm taking him in, I wanted to file adoption paperwork. You're the only one in the Ministry I can trust to help me, other than Arthur Weasley, and he's not suited in this case."
"Of course. Let me get the appropriate paperwork." Amelia rose and procured a copy of the paperwork she had filled out when taking custody of her niece, Susan, which she handed to Ria.
After ten minutes, Ria had completed the paperwork, and Amelia signed it as a witness. "I'll file this for you, Ria, and make sure that word doesn't get out that you are now the guardian of Harry Potter."
"Thank you, Amelia," said Ria with a smile. "Your niece Susan is about Harry's age, correct? Perhaps we could arrange for the two to have some playdates. It would be nice for him to make friends with other children besides Ron and Neville, since I don't want him to have just male friends."
"That is an excellent idea," Amelia said. "It would be good for Susan to make some friends before starting Hogwarts. You said Molly, Alice, and Remus will be acting as caretakers while you're at work? Do you think Susan could join the group? Currently one of the family house elves is taking care of her while I'm at work, and that's not a real substitute for a parent's care."
"I'm fine with Susan being part of the nursery group, and I'll talk with Molly and Alice about it. I'm sure they won't mind. I'll owl you once the arrangements are set up, Amelia."
Amelia thanked Ria, and then took down the anti-eavesdropping spell. The two briefly discussed the upcoming trial, where the Longbottoms and Ria were to testify. After that, Ria left, and once home, prepared lunch, fed Harry and put him down for a nap, and helped Remus move into the guest room. Once he was moved in, Ria met with Molly and Alice, who approved of having Susan Bones be part of the nursery group, since they felt it would be good for their children to be around others their age.
The three discussed arrangements, and then sent a letter containing all the details to Amelia.