Disclaimer: I own nothing except my own characters and places.
Harry rolled over in bed and sighed, gazing out his window with longing. He wished he could just pack up his trunk, tie it to his broom, and fly out of this place, but he wasn't able to. The one time he had seriously considered it, an owl from Dumbledore showed up, and the letter had told him to remain where he was and not to sneak off. After reading it (and seeing the Dursleys glaring at him for daring to receive an owl at the breakfast table) he had gone upstairs, saying he had a headache. He was fighting one off now, but that wasn't anything new.
He sat up and listened, trying to place where the Dursleys were. He could hear Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon downstairs talking over the television, and it was a safe bet that Dudley was out with his friends, vandalizing things. At least they weren't here pestering him; that was one good thing.
A loud crack and a scream downstairs made him leap to his feet and pull out his wand. It sounded as if someone had just Apparated into the living room. Uncle Vernon was roaring and Harry heard something break. It was most likely that he had hurled something at whoever it was, and it was probably something expensive.
"Boy! Get down here!" Uncle Vernon bellowed. "Get down here now!!"
Harry ran, his sneakers thumping all the way down the stairs and into the living room. There, looking shabby as ever but entirely welcome to Harry's eyes, was Remus Lupin.
"Professor Lupin?" Harry gasped, overjoyed at seeing one friendly face. "What are you doing here?"
"I came to see you, Harry," Lupin said over Aunt Petunia's hysterical sobs and Uncle Vernon's muttering about freaks. "I think I rather frightened your aunt and uncle, however."
Harry looked at the pale and angry faces of his unwilling guardians, the shattered something scattered all over the floor, and the smiling face of his teacher. "Oh, that's all right," Harry said, taking a sort of devilish glee in Uncle Vernon's outraged gasp. "Why don't we go into the kitchen and sit down?"
Lupin edged past the Dursleys and followed Harry into the kitchen, fighting to keep a straight face. "Perhaps I should have put on my best robe?" he asked Harry. "I think the condition of this one offended them," he said, looking down at it with regret.
"Ah, don't worry about them," Harry said, pulling out a chair for him. "So, you came to see me?" he prompted as Lupin sat down in the proffered chair and as Harry took his own seat.
"Ye-es, I did," Lupin said hesitantly. "You see, a lot's been happening since the end of the term, and I felt you should know about it."
Harry had a sudden suspicion. "Does Dumbledore know you're here?" he asked.
Lupin shook his head. "No, he doesn't. He says that everything is fine, but I doubt it."
"What's going on?"
Lupin rubbed the spot between his eyebrows with a finger and sighed. "The Ministry is in something akin to chaos. A lot of people are clamoring for Fudge to do something about a lot of issues, and one of those issues is you."
Harry stared at him. "Me? What do people want done? If they still think I'm barking--"
"No, it's not that at all," Lupin said, holding up a hand to stop him. "Almost one hundred percent of the wizarding world believes you, and a lot of people are saying that Muggles can't effectively protect you. A group is lobbying to get you removed from the Dursleys' custody and placed with a wizarding family."
"Hallelujah!" a voice shouted from the living room, and for a second Harry could have sworn that it was Uncle Vernon's. Applause sounded, and Harry realized it was the TV.
"Well, couldn't I stay with somebody from the Order?" Harry asked, already thinking that it would probably be the Weasleys. He could almost taste Mrs. Weasley's toffee pudding as he thought about it.
Lupin shook his head again. "You're missing what I'm saying," he said anxiously. "If you're placed with a wizarding family, you'll lose the protections you have here. What's worse, the Ministry wants to place you with someone of their choice, and the Order won't have any say in the matter. That family could even be someone who secretly sympathizes with Voldemort, and you'd be out of our reach."
"What about when school starts?" Harry asked. "They're not going to keep me from going back to Hogwarts!"
"They could," Lupin said nervously. "All they would have to tell the Ministry would be that they've found a private tutor for you--"
Harry got up and began to pace. At this time last year, he'd been worried about being expelled, but he'd at least had Sirius to go to, and the Weasleys if things really got bad. Now, he didn't have Sirius, and it was most likely that he wouldn't have the Weasleys either. He didn't think he could stand being cooped up somewhere with a family that would idolize him, never let him out of their sight, and never let him see his friends.
"Do you know who they might place me with if they tried it?" he asked, suddenly as anxious as Lupin.
"There are a few that have been approved," Lupin said, pulling out a piece of paper. "Despite the danger that exists in taking you, just about every family in England offered to take you, you know. Let's see--" he said, studying the list. "The Bones have offered, the Fudges, the Caedmons, the Longbottoms, and Severus Snape has also been approved."
"Snape?" Harry said in disbelief. "Snape? Why on earth would he--" he trailed off, not quite sure what to think.
"He's a member of the Order, he comes from a family that the Ministry would have no problem with, and Dumbledore had to promise to keep you out of his hair until school began," Lupin said, smiling a little. "Mrs. Weasley also had to threaten him with a personal hex if he didn't offer to take you."
Harry could imagine the sort of hex she'd throw at him and grinned. He thought of the names that Lupin had read off and wondered about the one. "Who are the Caedmons? I don't recognize that name."
"From what I've been able to find out, they are a very old, distinguished, and wealthy family. They've lived out of the eyes of the public for years, but only recently have they resurfaced. There's some rumor that they have Sidhe blood in them, but beyond that, I can't tell you much."
"Fairy blood. If they have that, then they'd be very powerful, magically speaking."
Harry thought of the tiny fairies he'd seen adorning the Christmas trees at Hogwarts. "Fairy blood? How?"
"The Sidhe are large fairies, Harry, and most can be found in Ireland," Lupin explained. "How the Caedmons settled here is beyond me."
"Oh," Harry said, beginning to understand. The Caedmons were an anomaly even in a society of anomalies. Interesting. "When do you think they'll make any sort of decision?"
"Sometime soon, I'd think," Lupin said, standing up and stretching his arms over his head. "I'll send you an owl if I hear anything, I promise."
"Do you have to go already?" Harry asked, sensing that he was getting ready to go.
"It's best I don't stay too long," Lupin said regretfully. "If I could stay longer, I'd challenge you to a chess game. You stay here--"
"Do I have to?"
"And stay out of trouble," Lupin finished, grinning at Harry's mock disappointment. He knew the boy would stay where he was, but he also knew that he wouldn't like it. Lupin gripped Harry's shoulder for a moment, let go, and Apparated. Aunt Petunia screamed again, and Harry fought down a little snicker. He wondered how the Dursleys would react if he told them that Lupin was a werewolf?
Later that night, Harry was sitting up reading. Desperate for something to do, he'd gone down to the library and signed up for a card so that he could check out books. Even though they weren't wizarding books, they were still interesting, and the library had a decent enough selection. At least reading was a way to pass the time.
Harry was deep in "The Count of Monte Cristo" when he heard someone pounding on the front door. It startled him so much that he dropped his book. Who in the world would be coming here at this time of night?
Uncle Vernon opened the door, shouted "What the devil--?" and began protesting as whoever it was came inside. Harry got to his feet and reached for his wand, hoping that whoever it was wouldn't be anyone he'd have to fight.
"You are breaking and entering, gentlemen!" Uncle Vernon roared. "I shall ring the police! This is unlawful entry!!"
Harry's door banged open, and the people who stood there scared him almost witless. They were dressed in cloaks with hoods up over their heads, and for a moment, Harry was certain that the Death Eaters had found him, or that the Dementors had come for him at last. He raised his wand, ready to fight--
"Expelliarmus!!" a voice boomed, and Harry's wand flew out of his hand. The wizard at the front caught it easily and tucked it inside his robes. "Mr. Potter?" the hooded form said.
"We are wizards from the Ministry, and we're here to take you into protective custody."