Warnings and Disclaimers: Three quotes from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets that I don't own.
Klaus set out in search of the Potter boy early the next morning. There was no sign of him in the park, or in the streets surrounding it, and finally he had to check back in with Mrs. Figg to find out the Dursleys' exact address.
It was almost noon when he came to 4 Privet Drive and found his quarry trimming the flowerbeds along the driveway. Like the day before, he was dressed in clothes much too big for him, the shirt falling over him like a circus tent, and the jeans with ragged hems and cinched tight with a belt. Klaus leaned against the mailbox, not so patiently waiting to be noticed.
It didn't take long before the other boy paused in his work and looked up, fixing Klaus with wary green eyes behind thick glasses. He didn't say anything, though, and after a minute of uncomfortable silence Klaus realized he would have to take the initiative. "Hello," he said quietly.
There was a considering pause before he received a reply. "Hi," Potter said, just as quietly.
Klaus took that as an invitation, and came forward to sit cross-legged on the lawn, just a few feet from the boy. "I'm Klaus. Klaus Baudelaire."
He held out his hand, and with less of a pause as he seemed to relax a bit, Potter reached out to take it. "Harry Potter."
"Mind if I call you Harry?" Klaus beamed as he got a tiny headshake in return. This was really going much easier than he'd thought it would, even with as shy as the other boy was. Which he perfectly understood, with the help of Human Growth and Development: the Childhood Years and Integrative Processes and Socialization: Early to Middle Childhood, two books he'd read during the last couple of years. With the entire neighborhood against him, Harry would be both unused to interacting with others his age, and more than a little lonely because of it.
The other boy shifted position, drawing Klaus out of his thoughts. "Oh, right. My sisters and I are staying with Mrs. Figg for a while, and she wanted me to ask you to come to tea later on."
"…I'll have to ask my relatives," Harry said, with the first complete sentence Klaus had heard out of him. Klaus nodded, and the green-eyed boy rose, brushing his hands off on his clothing.
His trip inside the house didn't take very long, and when Harry came out he offered Klaus a small, but genuine smile. "I can come after my chores are done."
Klaus grinned back, climbing to his feet. "Great. I'll go tell her."
Four o'clock passed without any sign of the boy, but before the clock hit five there was a quiet knock on the door. Arabella Figg bustled over to open it, to find Harry standing on the other side in what she had a feeling was his best clothing, even worn and faded as it was. She'd never seen him in better, and the woman felt a spasm of anger at the thought of the Dursleys buying their son anything he wanted, and giving Harry nothing but the leftovers.
She dearly hoped the children wouldn't hold it against him, though from what she'd come to known of them in the few days they'd had together, the thought wouldn't even cross their minds.
"Hello, Harry," Arabella told him, smiling. "It's good to see you again."
Harry smiled back, stepping inside. "Thank you for inviting me, Mrs. Figg," he said, as polite as ever.
He was quiet as she led him to the sitting room, where the Baudelaires were waiting. Klaus looked up from his book and smiled at their entrance. "Hey Harry," he said, getting up from his chair. Violet stood as well, holding Sunny by the hand as she studied the new arrival.
"He looks nice," Sunny announced in garbled baby talk, pulling away from her sister and almost running over to Harry. She looked up into the boy's face for a few moments, and then gurgled a laugh. "He's nice."
Her siblings watched in surprise as she held out her arms to be picked up. It wasn't often that Sunny warmed to strangers, and even in those few cases, not nearly so quickly. Harry stared back at her with wide eyes, then looked around at them in pure bewilderment.
"She wants you to hold her," Violet said, taking pity on him as she stifled a giggle with one hand.
"Oh." Harry gave the toddler an almost nervous look, then leaned down to gingerly pick her up. She squealed happily.
"That's Sunny," Klaus told him. "She's almost two. And this is Violet."
Harry winced as Sunny reached up to tug on a lock of his messy hair. "Charmed, I'm sure," he said dryly, but didn't reach up to pull her hand away.
Arabella clapped her hands together. "Teatime, children. Klaus, come help me carry the trays."
Harry shifted, a little uncomfortable with the unaccustomed weight in his lap, but he wasn't about to shove off a toddler when sitting on him made her so happy. Even if her bouncing had twice already nearly made him drop his cup of tea.
The Baudelaires were… nice, he'd decided, gently fending off a grey tabby from his plate of biscuits. And very much a family; it was hard not to show just how envious that made him. They'd had a long conversation over tea in which they discovered they were all orphans, but after that a mutual reluctance to talk about their parents' deaths led to a change in topic.
At one point Klaus jumped up, muttering something about forgetting to feed Petunia. Harry blinked after him. "Petunia?"
"Our snake," Violet told him, and Harry tensed.
'Everyone knows that's the mark of a Dark wizard. Have you ever heard of a decent one who could talk to snakes?'
'Oh, Potter, you rotter, oh, what have you done, you're killing off students, you think it's good fun-'
'Make way, make way for the Heir of Slytherin!'
"Are you all right?" Violet asked, frowning at him. "You look a little peaky…"
Harry was quick to shake his head. "I'm fine. My aunt's name is Petunia," he offered as a diversion.
The older girl studied him carefully, still frowning. "Harry… are you afraid of snakes? I can ask Klaus not to bring her in here…"
Afraid of snakes? No, not really. He'd been terrified of the basilisk, but that was because it was big, and deadly, and trying very hard to kill him. Afraid of what they stood for, though… In the end, he just shook his head again.
And then came the strangest part of the evening.
"Violet, girl, why don't you take Sunny while I go have a talk with Harry?" Mrs. Figg asked, setting down her teacup.
A bit startled, she complied, reaching out for her sister. Sunny pouted as Harry lifted her off his lap, but didn't make any more of a fuss than that. Mrs. Figg led the way into her kitchen.
"Harry, child, you know it's nothing to be ashamed of, don't you?" she demanded, rounding on him.
He stared at her, confused beyond words. "W-what is?"
Harry had never been so shocked in his life. The only thing that had ever come close was Hagrid's blunt announcement that he was a wizard.
Mrs. Figg covered her mouth when she saw how wide his eyes had grown. "Oh! I never told you, did I? I'm a Squib, child. Dumbledore asked me to come keep an eye on you until you went off to Hogwarts."
Neither of them realized Violet was standing just out of sight, listening intently with her hand over Sunny's mouth.
What in the world was a Squib? Or Hogwarts? Who was Dumbledore?
And why did Harry need to be looked after?
A/N: Literary necromancy. Definitely my specialty. Though I have to wonder how many times you can raise a story from the dead…
Meh. Anyway, this chapter is dedicated to shkspr 1048, for making me look at the last chapter and think, 'hey, it could go this way…'. All written in one day, to boot...
Hugs to everyone who reviewed and is still out there waiting.
20 March 2007