A hot tarry smell rose from the road as Harry gripped Lupin around the middle. Cars seemed much too close as they sped past them on the motorway. Never having ridden a motorcycle before made the experience a little scary, which to Harry meant a lot of fun. Muggle children waved from cars they passed and he waved back grinning.
Harry glanced at the back of the man whose waist he clung to. The brown jacket looked new and well fitted. Remus had evidently found the heart to use some of the money Sirius had left him. A sigh escaped Harry. He was glad Remus could afford decent clothes but the price was too much for both of them.
Much too soon, the motorcycle slowed to go down Privet Drive then turned into the drive at number four. As Remus was putting down the stand of the motorcycle, now on the lawn in front of the house, a large beefy man came lumbering out of the house.
"Get that thing out of my grass!" Uncle Vernon shouted; his face purple with rage. "I will not have it."
Unperturbed Remus dismounted the motorcycle, and took off his helmet. Lupin regarded Vernon Dursley solemnly. "If all is in order I will not be here long." He laid the helmet on the motorcycle then turned to face the large man with a cold stare. "I'm here to ensure the conditions of the agreement are met."
Uncle Vernon flushed darker purple and sputtered. "You needn't have bothered. I've bought the boy everything on his blasted list." His eyes had darted to Harry as he took off his helmet.
"Good, then as I said, I won't be long." Lupin still stared fixedly at Harry's Uncle whose eyes now flicked around the street as if dreading a neighbor might see him this close to a motorcycle.
"All right." Uncle Vernon growled. "Be quick about it." He turned on his heel, and stocked back to the house.
Harry and Remus removed the trunk and Hedwig's cage from the storage compartment of the motorcycle. Hedwig complained loudly as they carried the trunk and her cage to the house and up the stairs. A low rumble came from the living room. Harry knew it was Uncle Vernon trying to get a grip on his temper.
Remus pushed the door to Harry's room open and backed in with the trunk. But he didn't get far. The smallest bedroom was packed with a television, a small refrigerator, a video recorder, a computer and a telephone, all as it in the agreement. Harry grinned as he squeezed pass the trunk to look at the things. Then his face fell.
"What's wrong?" Remus asked examining the blank screen of the computer.
"All this stuff is at least fifteen years old. I wonder if it even works." Harry said angrily turning on the television. A low buzz filled the room. A white line scrolled across the screen then a squiggly black and white picture popped into view then flipped continuously. He turned from the television and hunted for the switch to the computer then pressed it. Slowly a the screen brightened with an amber C: appeared on the surface of the monitor. "This is useless." Harry said in disgust.
Frowning Remus opened the small refrigerator but closed it quickly when a horrible smell fell out. "I want to talk to your uncle." Lupin said not disguising the anger in his voice. The two went down the stairs to the living room. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia were obviously expecting them. Harry noticed his aunt looked very scared.
"Before you say anything." Uncle Vernon pointed his finger at the pair of them. "I know something about contracts. I have followed the contract and expect you to do the same."
"But all that stuff is junk." Harry said angrily. "I can't use it."
"The contract did not say the items had to be useable." Uncle Vernon said smugly.
Harry's mouth hung open. If he knew anything about wizarding law, this little loophole his Uncle had found would hold up in court. "Fine." Harry said angrily. "I'll leave Voldemort to you. Let's get my stuff."
"Wait a moment." Uncle Vernon said. "I have provided the items in the contract so you have to stay. That…person who signed the post script said it was a mag…" Uncle Vernon stopped, not able to say the word magical. "He said it was a binding contract, so I assume it works both ways. If you break it, there will be payment of sorts?"
"Sure." Harry shrugged. "And when you're dead you can spend it." He turned to go back up stairs to get his trunk.
"Very clever of you, Dursley." Lupin said in a voice so smooth and at the same time menacing. Harry stopped to look at Remus. "You are quite right. Harry will have to fill his part of the contract." He paused to take out his wand. "I however, have no such contract binding me. And I have no qualms about turning you into a toad." Aunt Petunia shrieked and Uncle Vernon leapt back.
"Don't." Harry stopped Remus's arm. "They aren't worth it." He didn't want Remus getting into trouble from the Improper Use of Magic Department on his account.
"You are right they aren't." Remus agreed nodding but didn't lower his wand. "A toad would be too easy for them. How about?" A wave of his wand turned Uncle Vernon's suit bright yellow with a wide purple and red striped tie. "Much better. Very respectable."
"Stop! Stop this minute." Uncle Vernon shouted backing away from Lupin as he came toward him. "You have no right!"
"Dursley." Lupin put his face up to the cowering large one of Harry's uncle. "Be glad I don't do what I really should do to you." His voice was cold and hard. "You have one more chance. Replace those items with new ones or I will turn your son into a pig."
"It will take some time." Uncle Vernon whimpered. "I can't manage it all at once."
"You have two hours." Remus said taking a step back and sinking on to the sofa. "I'll wait."
The Dursleys seemed frozen for a moment then bolted to the door. Harry saw Dudley follow his parents out; not wanting to be in the same house as a wizard with a wand. "I don't know Remus. This could be trouble." Harry sighed as he sat down beside him.
"I hope for them it will be." Lupin said. "I can't believe you've had to put up with them for almost sixteen years." Remus looked guiltily at Harry.
"I survived." Harry shrugged.
"You needed more than to just survive." Remus said angrily. Harry never before seen Lupin so upset. His next glance into Harry's face told him why.
"Don't." Harry stopped the apology he knew was about to come. "Guilt won't change anything." When Remus looked like he was still going to say something, Harry said softly. "Believe me I know. It hasn't brought Sirius back." Tears sprang to Remus's eyes and he looked away quickly.
For a long while neither spoke. A sigh escaped Remus and he put a hand on the back of Harry's neck, giving him a squeeze and a shake. "Alright." He finally said. "I won't feel guilty about it." He dropped his hand to Harry's shoulder. "However, I do want to know what you meant at Kings Cross." A slow smile spread across Harry's face. "And don't you dare tell me, you don't know what I'm talking about." Remus warned.
"I just know." Harry smiled only slightly as if even though he knew what he said was true it wasn't something to crow about. "Voldemort is afraid of me. I felt it the last time we talked." His green eyes sparkled with amusement at the look on his friend's face.
Several times Remus started to speak but couldn't seem to form a thought. Finally he shook his head and gave Harry a side long gaze. "You have been spending way too much time with Dumbledore. I can tell that right now." Remus said half seriously. "You sound like him. And your eyes have taken on that twinkle of superiority."
"Superiority?" Harry frowned. "Hardly." He sighed. "Voldemort has lost confidence by all his failed attempts this year." He considered the words he spoke next. "He knows I am at the center of these obstructions. And it has shaken him to the very core of his evil heart." Again Remus stared at Harry.
"I do hope I'm at hand when you bring him down." Remus finally said gravely.
"That remains to be seen." Harry cast his eyes down. "I still," he shuddered a little. He still knew how much more powerful Voldemort was than he.
"What?" Remus encouraged.
"I still can't see how to defeat him. And every moment he lives more people will die." Harry sighed.
"Still it isn't your fault Harry." Remus said gently.
"That's some comfort for the families." Harry said bitterly looking up. Then he sighed again. "But there's nothing I can do to stop it, yet." Harry shook his head then said in a voice almost like a small boy's. "I don't know how."
"The way to defeat an enemy," Remus said slowly, "is to learn as much about him and his ways as you can."
"I know more than I care to about Voldemort." Harry said as if he had a bad taste in his mouth.
"Yes, but I warrant there's even more you could learn about him." Remus thought for a moment. "I'll speak with Dumbledore. Surely there are some books or someone who would know of how he learned the dark arts."
"Yeah, but I can't use the dark arts. Remember?" Harry stretched getting tired of the seemingly endless thoughts running in his mind. At least Lupin hadn't patted him on the head, and that he, Harry, would find a way."
"No, but knowledge is power." Remus said.
"Yeah." Harry stood up. "Why don't we clear out my room of all that junk?"
"You want to make it easier for them?" Remus frowned.
"No, but it will give me something to do." Harry shrugged as he headed for the stairs, Remus following. The trouble was, with Lupin using magic, all the electronics and refrigerator were out in the hall with the wave of his wand. "Wait, leave that." Harry took the old video recorder floating in mid air. "This might work better with my mum's video tapes."
"You know, this room isn't very big, especially after all the new things. I could give it a bit of help if you like." Remus grinned at Harry with arched eyebrows. Harry grinned back and nodded. He watched Remus intently as the wizard began to chant an incantation. Harry could enlarge a trunk but something the size of a room he had never attempted nor had he seen enlarged by magic. The tricky part was not changing the outside appearance. He wanted to ask questions but didn't want to mess up the spell.
Slowly the walls inched away from each other. "Tell me when." Remus said still concentrating, giving a rhythmic bounce with his wand.
"That should be good." Harry snorted. The room was now the size of his dormitory in Gryffindor Tower. "How do you keep it from showing on the outside?" He went to the window to look out.
"Yes, much more comfortable." Remus stuck his head out of the window to look at the house too. "Actually it is a form of a disillusionment charm. The house is bigger but looks the same."
"Cool." Harry turned to look at his room. "Now, Ron will fit in here nicely."
"Oh, you have plans?" Remus gazed at Harry amused.
"He said he would come and visit. And well, stay for a bit." Harry grinned.
"You'll need another bed." Remus said. "Let me know and I'll come by and conjure one for you."
"Thanks." Harry smiled at the thought of his best friend. Looking at Remus took his thoughts to his father and Sirius, Lupin's best friends. Sadness crept through Harry as he remembered Remus had only been a few years older than him when he was choosing a head stone for his best friend. "I visited my parents' graves. Dumbledore took me." Harry said quietly.
A cloud passed across the man's face, making him look much older than he was. Lupin nodded to show he had heard.
"I know it must have been hard. He said you picked out their stone." Harry continued.
"Yeah." Remus couldn't look at Harry but stared fixedly at the door. He was breathing shallow and seemed tense.
"I want to move them into the family mausoleum." Harry saw Remus close his eyes as if trying to shut out his voice. "Dumbledore said it would be okay if I put up a stone for Sirius where they are now."
For a long time Remus didn't speak. Finally he wiped his eyes and nodded. "Sirius would like that. I'm sorry you have to even think of grave stones." His eyes met Harry's and tears still stood in them.
"A person does what they have to do." Harry laid an arm across the man's shoulder. "I'm glad they had a friend like you to look after such things."
"As you said, a person does what they have to do." Remus said hoarsely. He went back to staring fixedly at the door. Harry felt the shoulder under his arm shudder. Not trying to shrug off his touch but in response to the subject they were talking about.
"You really don't want to talk about it do you?" Harry said removing his arm but still leaving a hand on the man's forearm. Remus shook his head slightly. "I know how that feels. That's okay. Maybe someday?"
"Maybe." Remus gave a curt nod then his body slumped as the tenseness left it. "I'm sorry, Harry. I…" He looked up at Harry with pain in his eyes.
"Don't be." Harry stopped the apology. "I should be. I kind of hit you out of the blue with that. Sorry."
"Yeah." Remus glanced at Harry and gave him a slight smile. He took a deep breath and let it out.
"Maybe a cup of tea or something cold would be good." Harry said and tapped Lupin's arm. "Come on. We'll raid the fridge while they're gone."
Harry led the way back to the spotless kitchen. He rummaged in the refrigerator to find some cold sodas and the last two pieces of lemon pie. The last bits had been picked from their plates when the front door burst open. A puffing and grumbling noise made its way noisily up the stairs. Aunt Petunia appeared at the doorway to the kitchen. Anger flashed on her face when she saw Harry casually eating at her table as if he belonged there then was quickly replaced by fear. She bit her lip to keep from saying anything wrong.
"Wonderful pie, Petunia." Remus commented brightly. Before Aunt Petunia could say anything Uncle Vernon and Dudley came thumping down the stairs and burst into the kitchen.
"What have you done to my house?" Uncle Vernon bellowed. "I will not have it!"
"I did that." Lupin said coolly. "Harry needed a bit more room."
Uncle Vernon's chest heaved as he fumed. A vein had started pulsing on his temple and for a moment Harry thought he might just have a heart attack from trying to keep his temper and comments under control. "Don't worry you can't tell from the outside." Harry said.
"Did you get all of the items on Harry's list?" Remus asked taking out his wand and flicking it at the dirty dishes on the table. The plates, forks and glasses sparkled.
"Stop!" Uncle Vernon shouted. "I did not agree on allowing that unnatural…" He stopped himself before he said something wrong. "That ma…" Again Uncle Vernon could not bring himself to say magic. "That…stuff in my house."
"True." Lupin said calmly. "Nor did I or anyone else agree not to do magic in your house." A shudder went through all of the Dursleys. Harry fought hard not to break out laughing. "You have the items on the list?" He repeated.
"Well," Uncle Vernon looked worried. "Everything except the refrigerator. The store will deliver it tomorrow." He said hastily.
"Is that acceptable to you, Harry?" Remus turned to him. "If not we can leave right now."
"I suppose." Harry sighed. "If it doesn't come tomorrow, I'll send Hedwig to let you know."
Remus stood up. "If you are sure?" Harry nodded. "I'll stop by tomorrow to make sure everything is in order." He told the Dursleys then asked Harry. "Do you want help getting settled?"
"That's okay. I'll be fine." Harry again had to keep from laughing. Although he wondered if his uncle would have the restraint once Lupin left. He rose to see Remus out. Out in the front garden Harry felt a pang as he watched Remus put on a helmet and mount the motorcycle.
"See you tomorrow then." Remus clapped Harry on the shoulder and kicked the motorcycle to life. With a wave of his hand he was off. Harry sighed and went back inside the house.
Down the hall Uncle Vernon glared at him, his face purple with rage. Harry arched his eyebrows at him as if daring him to say a word. The staring contest continued until his uncle dropped his eyes even though he still shook visibly with anger. "Goodnight." Harry said and climbed the stairs to his bedroom.
The room felt strange enlarged. The same but not the same, Harry thought as he set up the television and video recorder on his desk. His uncle had never let him help with the television downstairs so Harry really didn't know much about what cable went where. But after reading the manual Harry realized he was missing a necessary cable to hook the video recorder to the television. For some reason Harry didn't mind that much.
As he lay in bed gazing at his enlarged bedroom, all the boxes stacked neatly by his wardrobe, Harry realized he didn't really want the television, computer and all these things. All the years he had longed to have the things Dudley had, and now that he had them he knew it wasn't what he wanted or needed. He really wanted his friends. These things weren't part of his world, muggle or magical, his aunt and uncle had made sure of that. Oddly Harry felt a sense of freedom, not be tied to anything from the muggle world. The world he would soon leave behind for good. Still, Harry thought, the video tapes his mum had made could only be seen on these muggle things. How would he could he view them after he left the Dursleys? Harry frowned and closed his eyes as he thought about the problem. Maybe Remus would have an idea. He yawned. Then Harry saw Hedwig soar silently across the room and out the window as he drifted off to asleep.
I'm sorry a sequel hasn't appeared. Life got in the way. This was the start of the next story so I thought I'd post it even if nothing comes after. I lost a lot of my notes and my story outline in a flood a year ago. I don't know if I have the time or the heart to continue this story.
I do read each and every review that comes to me. Thank you so much for letting me know how much you have enjoyed reading this story.