A/N: OK. Never thought I'd do this. Try to avoid them. But there just doesn't seem any way around it. An Author's note. Here we go, folks. This is post GoF. Harry's Summer. Sirius is staying with Remus while they work together on helping Dumbledore contact 'the old crowd'. This story has nothing to do with Family Life. They are independent stories. The ***** that appear either indicate a change in time, location, or POV. Sorry, but it a rough draft, really. The story is complete. It will be posted in chapters as time permits. I hope to have it done by late November-early December. Or at least not to long after that.

Chapter One: Fever

Sirius Black anxiously paced about the small livingroom of his friend, Remus Lupin's, home. From a chair by the fire, Lupin watched him over the top of the book he was trying to concentrate on. But Sirius constant pacing made it impossible. Finally Lupin snapped the book shut in his lap.

"Honestly, Sirius!" He stated. "You're starting to drive me crazy now."

"It's been a week." Sirius grumbled. "He never lets a week go by without writing. And what about yesterday? My letter came back undelivered. Hedwig always delivers my letters. Always. Something is wrong, Remus. I can feel it."

"Sirius, the muggles may not have let Hedwig in the house to deliver the letter. And I thought you were going to try and resend it today?"

"Something is wrong, Remus. I'm telling you. I've felt it for the past few days. Like something...a feeling...that just won't go away."

"So what are you going to do? Apparate into their livingroom? The Ministry wizards would be there before you could introduce yourself. If you're that worried, owl Dumbledore. Tell him what's happened and let him sort it out. At least then you'll know one way or the other."

Sirius paused in his pacing, then finally nodded in agreement and headed for his room upstairs.

*****************

The Week Before

Harry got out of bed that morning with a horrible headache. Aunt Petunia pounding on his door wasn't helping.

"Get up!" She yelled through the door. "Do you hear? Do you think you're going to sleep all day? You have chores to do if you're going to live here."

Harry slowly pulled himself out of bed. As he sat up, something felt like it was rolling around in his stomach. He thought about the day ahead, which started, as usual, with trudging downstairs and getting breakfast. But the thought of food made the feeling of whatever was rolling around in his stomach spin around that much faster. With a soft moan at the thought of food, Harry promised his stomach he would skip breakfast that morning.

Fifteen minutes later Harry slowly made his way into the kitchen. As usual, none of the other occupants already seated at the table paid him so much as a seconds notice. The only recognition he got from anyone was Aunt Petunia handing him a piece of paper on which she wrote down the list of things she needed done.

"And I expect those done by the end of the day." She stated sharply.

Harry looked briefly over the list. It wasn't as long as the one yesterday, but with the way he was feeling it still seemed an insurmountable work load.

"Umm...Aunt Petunia?"

Harry's aunt turned to him with a look that suggested he had just called her some dirty name. Or maybe it was just the fact that he had spoken to her, forcing her to acknowledge his presence.

Harry didn't wait for her to say anything. He knew she wouldn't. Aunt Petunia kept their conversations to a bare minimum.

"I'm not feeling well today." Harry said quietly. "Can I just stay in my room today?"

Uncle Vernon's head appeared from behind the paper, which he usually kept raised through most of breakfast to avoid looking at Harry.

"What are you talking about?" He stated gruffly.

"I don't feel well." Harry repeated. "I think I'm coming down with something."

"Likely a bad case of shirking your fair share of work around here. No indeed. I think, in fact, that your aunt has been far too lenient with you the past month. And this is the thanks you give her. You get out in that yard and start your chores, boy. And I don't want to hear another word about feeling sick."

Harry turned away from the table and slowly made his way out the back door.

The sun was already heating the air and the humidity was building rapidly. Harry felt the heat surround him as soon as he stepped outside. The feeling in his stomach seemed to react to the heat as well as it felt like it tightened its grip and began to squeeze. Grateful he hadn't had anything to eat, Harry headed for the tool shed.

What happened after that Harry had no recollection of later. The next thing he remembered was a solid slap in the face.

"What do you think you're doing?" He heard Uncle Vernon's voice roar in his ears.

Harry opened his eyes to find himself sitting on the floor of the tool shed.

"Why are you sitting about when there's work to be done?"

Harry looked about bewildered. "I...I don't remember..."

Another slap.

"Don't be cheek with me, boy. I've had enough out of you for today. Now get up and get to those chores."

Harry pulled himself up slowly. It was a fight to make it to his feet. One Harry wasn't sure he would win. But somehow he managed it and, grabbing a few tools, headed for the garden.

Getting to his feet was a small task compared to the rest of the day. Several times Harry would suddenly seem to wake out of a daze only to find himself somewhere in the garden he had no recollection of how he got to. The one benefit of these occurrences was they seemed to make the day pass quicker.

At noon he only had a glass of water. That being all his stomach told him it would accept. By six o'clock he felt as though he had been out in the garden for days on end without any sleep. All he wanted was to go to bed and rest.

Aunt Petunia was perfectly happy to excuse him from dinner. And even more pleased to be done with him for the rest of the evening as well.

Harry gratefully made his way up the stairs and fell onto his bed without bothering to get undressed. His stomach rumbled a little in protest, apparently feeling a bit better. Harry reached under his bed and pulled up the loose floor board. The day before the Dursley's had gone into town. To Harry's surprise, Uncle Vernon had insisted he come along. This was highly unusual, as that Uncle Vernon hated having Harry seen with the family in public. But Harry soon realized the reason for the unexpected trip. While the rest of the family leisurely shopped through the stores, Harry was hurried off on errands to various shops to pick up different items for the Dursleys.

Among the errands was a stop in a bakery for a bag of cookies for Dudley. A new bakery had opened that Dudley had seen on his way home from the train station. He had wailed about it for a week before Uncle Vernon gave in and agreed, despite Dudley's continued diet, that he could have a bag of cookies from the bakery. After all, Dudley had lost a few pounds, and that deserved a reward, was Uncle Vernon's reasoning.

At the bakery the friendly man behind the counter had talked with Harry for a few minutes. They talked about the weather and things in general. The man had started talking about various soccer teams and their performances so far that year. But to Harry it didn't seem that the man knew a great deal about soccer at all. He kept making references to different aspects of a game he had watched recently in terms like 'hitting the little ball-thingy into the net' and how the players 'kept missing the ball and getting hit in the head with it a lot'. The man had inquired if Harry were buying the cookies for himself or as a present. Harry explained they were for his cousin. The man looked sympathetically at Harry and quickly slipped him an extra bag of cookies. Whereas Dudley's cookies were chocolate chip, (with extra chips), the man had offered Harry a bag of sugar cookies. With a friendly wink he told Harry that sugar cookies were his specialty and that he was sure Harry would agree they were the best he'd ever had.

For once Dudley's oversized cloths that Harry was forced to wear at home came in handy. The bag of cookies was easy enough to hide in one of the pockets.

Harry had been delighted at the gift. And once he had tried one of the cookies, he agreed that they were indeed very good. He had only eaten a few of them so far, rationing the treat as best he could and hiding the remainder under the loose floor board. But now he quickly opened the bag and took out another cookie. Holding it between his teeth, he put the rest back in their hiding place, and then settled back on his bed to enjoy the cookie.

When he finished, he quickly crawled under the covers and laid his head down on the pillow. In minutes he was sound asleep.

The next morning Harry awoke feeling somewhat better. Convinced he had picked up a virus or so, he made his way downstairs and fixed himself a couple of pieces of toast and some juice. No one else was in the kitchen at that hour, which suited Harry as much as the Dursley's. Usually he ate his breakfast early simply to avoid them. Again, a solution that satisfied all parties involved.

Harry stood at the window, eating his toast and staring out at the paling sky, wondering what Aunt Petunia had on her list for him to do that day.

"What's the matter with you, boy!"

A sharp slap was the next thing Harry remembered. It was like being snapped out of a daydream. He opened his eyes to his uncle's reddening face leaning over him. Harry looked about quickly. He was sitting on the floor of the kitchen. Aunt Petunia and Dudley were standing behind Uncle Vernon, his aunt eyeing his suspiciously.

"Well?" Uncle Vernon stated.

Harry had no idea what to say. "I...I was just having breakfast." Harry stammered, looking about again quickly. "What happened?" The kitchen was now brightly lit by the rays of sunlight coming in through the windows. Harry quickly covered his eyes. For some reason the light hurt his head.

Uncle Vernon grabbed Harry by the shoulder and yanked him to his feet. "Fell asleep by the looks of it. Well, this family isn't suffering because you choose not to sleep when you should, boy." Harry found himself dragged to the back door and tossed out it. "The back fence needs painting. Get to it."

Harry barely made it down the steps on his feet. Under his uncle's watchful gaze he headed once again for the shed out back to get some paint and brushes. A few seconds later Harry heard the back door slam shut.

As the day wore on Harry gratefully noted that there seemed to be no recurring instances of his losing track of time or where he was and what he was doing. From time to time he would get a bit dizzy. But in the mid-day heat, that wasn't uncommon, and to Harry it was a marked improvement from the day before.

'It must have been the heat yesterday.' Harry managed to convince himself as he headed back for the house that evening. 'It was much hotter yesterday. And today I feel much better.'

'Better', Harry thought. But something was still definitely wrong. That night he hardly ate at all and again found himself so tired he nearly fell asleep at the table. Uncle Vernon yelled at him for being rude to the family and told him to go to his room, which Harry gratefully did. Five minutes after he closed the door to his room he was sound sleep.

The next day went by as normally as ever. No strange occurrences at all. Harry decided whatever he had had, he must be pretty well over it by now. He had a good breakfast that morning and even managed to eat lunch, which he had skipped the last two days. Dinner was equally unremarkable and Harry decided he had best spend the evening working on some of his homework up in his room. But no sooner lay down on his bed with his book propped up in his lap than he fell asleep.

The next three days passed as normally as ever with the exclusion of the fact that each night Harry found himself falling asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. He never even remembered falling asleep. Just waking up with one of his school books, which he had tried to read the night before, laying on the bed next to him. But Harry shrugged the incidents off as his simply being tired.

The sixth day after he had woken feeling ill, Harry came downstairs to his usual list of chores. But added to the list was washing Uncle Vernon's new car.

"The family is going to dinner tonight with some clients of mine." Uncle Vernon told Harry. "And I need the car washed and waxed and ready to go by six o'clock. Is that clear?"

Harry nodded. He didn't bother to asked if he was going with 'the family'. That term always meant he was not included in the plans, since Uncle Vernon did not regard Harry as a member of his family.

Finishing his other chores, Harry left washing the car till last. The day hadn't really been so bad. He was actually looking forward to being left alone for the evening. Something Uncle Vernon had taken to doing that summer, figuring Harry was old enough to know what he would get in trouble for doing.

Harry set the sponges in the bucket and began spraying the car down with water. He had just reached for one of the sponges when a blinding light shot across his vision, completely blinding him. A shooting pain bore its way into his skull, unlike anything he had ever felt before. At first Harry thought the light and the pain were from his scar. But as he focused on the pain, he discovered it wasn't coming from his scar at all. Instead it was centered somewhere behind his eyes.

Next the thing Harry knew Uncle Vernon was storming out of the house, headed right for him and looking madder than Harry had ever seen him. Squinting though a haze of light and pain, Harry saw that the hose he was holding was directed at Uncle Vernon's car, spraying right through an open window.

"What do you think you're doing?" Uncle Vernon raged. "Did you think this was funny? One of your stupid tricks? Do you have any idea what it'll cost to have this cleaned up."

Uncle Vernon shut off the water, grabbed Harry by the shoulder, and dragged him into the house.

Harry's first thought was he was grateful to be out of the light. It seemed to help with the pain if he wasn't in bright light. But a new pain erupted in his head as he felt Uncle Vernon suddenly strike him with a solid blow to the side of his head.

"You idiot!" He roared at Harry. "You stupid boy! That car was practically brand new!"

Another blow nearly knocked Harry off his feet. The third one did.

"Please, Uncle Vernon," Harry gasped. "I didn't mean it. I don't even remember it happening."

"Is that your best excuse?" This time it was a kick that caught Harry in the ribs.

"Please," Harry cried. He couldn't believe his uncle would go this far. He fought to keep his voice under control. Explaining, he felt, was the only way out. "I told you I wasn't feeling well. I've been having headaches."

"There's nothing wrong with you!" Uncle Vernon shouted so loud Harry felt it must have rattled the windows around the house. Another blow, this time to his side in the back.

"Please!" Harry cried again. But he never got any further before the next blow came. Another hit to his ribs.

Suddenly Harry felt his arm grabbed and he was yanked to his feet so fast he was afraid Uncle Vernon was going to break his arm.

"I've had enough of you for one week, boy." He yelled, dragging Harry with him down the hallway toward the cupboard. "I'm sick of your excuses and your lies and this nonsense about headaches and not feeling well."

Harry felt himself abruptly thrown forward with such force he slammed into the wall in front of him. Behind him a door slammed shut and the whole world went black.

At first Harry thought maybe he had passed out. But then he heard his aunt's hushed voice on the other side of the door.

"He has been acting strange this week, Vernon." She told her husband. "Maybe there is something wrong with him. Maybe he is sick. Maybe its some weird illness that 'their' kind gets."

"If he's sick then he's better off in there." Harry heard his uncle say as a lock snapped into place. "Away from the family."

Harry let his body slowly sink to the floor of the cupboard. How he wished his little cot was still in here. Something softer than the floor to lay on.

For several minutes Harry sat in the dark, listening to the sounds from beyond the locked door. Eventually he heard the front door slam shut and the house fell into silence. Only then did he let the tears come.

****************

"Harry?"

Harry stirred slightly to the sound of his name. The voice didn't sound like Uncle Vernon, or anyone else in the house. It was soft and full of concern.

"Harry, can you hear me?"

Harry tried to think back to where he was and what was going on. Everything was a horrible blur. His body was laying on something hard and cold. The hard wasn't so good, but the cold was a blessed relief. Everything around him felt hot except that wonderful floor.

He opened one eye. The other one didn't seem to want to open, and trying just made it hurt. But all he could see was darkness anyway. Well, there wasn't much point in that. So he closed his eye again.

"Harry?" The voice called again.

It was a nice sounding voice, Harry decided. He liked it for some reason. His brain started to work on it. He knew the voice from somewhere. He was fairly certain the voice didn't want to hurt him.

"Harry?"

Harry felt himself being moved, and the movement brought pain. Harry cried out in reaction to the pain that shot through his whole body. He had been wrong about the voice.

"Shhh!" The voice hissed.

Harry settled back down.

"What's wrong?" The voice sounded concerned again.

"Hurts." Harry moaned, hoping the voice heard him. If it did maybe it wouldn't try and make him move again.

"Where does it hurt?" The voice asked.

Oh. Now that was a good question, Harry thought. Where did it hurt? He search around his body and found that an easier question to answer seemed to be where didn't it hurt. So Harry worked on that instead.

"My arm." Harry replied. He tried to say his left arm, but that took too much effort. The right one was stiff. Probably from being slept on.

"Your arm hurts?" The voice asked.

Harry tried to shake his head. "No. Doesn't."

"Doesn't hurt?" The voice sounded confused now. "Where does it hurt, Harry?"

"Not my arm." Harry replied. God, he was tired. Why wouldn't the voice go away? Maybe the voice didn't know he was tired. Easy to fix. "Tired." He mumbled, hoping the voice understood and would go away then.

"Well, you can sleep later." The voice said. "Right now I need to get you out of here."

Something in that phrase alarmed Harry, but he wasn't sure just then why. But seconds later he realized the 'why' all to clearly. Someone was trying to lift him. To move him again. And movement hurt.

Wave after wave of pain shot through his body. Down his arms and legs and across his chest. All culminating, it seemed, at that central point in his skull.

Harry let out a scream of agony.

From somewhere else Harry heard other voices. Ones that seemed to upset his voice, which swore softly and set him back down. Harry heard the door to the cupboard close and the lock snap shut again.

Footsteps came thundering down the stairs above him. Someone fumbled with the lock again, and suddenly the door was yanked open.

Light flooded into the cupboard and Harry brought his hands up to shield his eyes.

"What in the name of decency is going on in here?" Uncle Vernon bellowed.

Harry fervently wished the voice was back. He forced his one eye open just in time to see Uncle Vernon's silhouetted figure raising its hand.

Harry gave a cry of panic. One followed shortly there after by Uncle Vernon's own.

As though it had heard his silent plea, Harry's voice was back. But it wasn't quiet and comforting now. Instead the voice came as a low growl. One that frightened even Harry.

"How dare you lay one hand on that boy?"

Uncle Vernon's silhouette suddenly disappeared from in front of the door, followed by a strangled cry.

"You dare to beat my godson and think I wouldn't have something to say about it, Dursley?" the voice went on.

Again Harry heard Uncle Vernon's strangled cry. "You...you're that murderer!"

"And you be thankful that getting Harry away from the likes of you means more to me right now than bothering with a great stupid muggle like yourself. Or they'd be adding one more murder to my name."

Harry heard a loud crash, and then a silhouette appeared in the door again. But this one was much thinner than Uncle Vernon's.

"All right, Harry." The voice came again. "We're leaving now."

Harry cowered back in his cupboard. Leaving meant moving, and moving meant pain.

Two arms worked their way under his back and legs and lifted him gently off the floor. But despite the obvious care they took, the pain still came back, and Harry cried out again from it.

"I'm sorry." The voice whispered in his ear. "I don't mean to hurt you. But I have to get you away from here."

***********************

Sirius turned and headed for the back door with Harry in his arms. From behind him he heard a slight scraping noise. One most might have ignored. But two years on the run make you a bit more cautious than most.

Sirius turned around just in time to see Uncle Vernon lifting a large vase off the hallway table behind him. Needing to get to his wand quickly, Sirius let go of Harry, dropping him to the floor. He pulled his wand out with lightening speed, forcing himself to ignore Harry's cry of pain, and with a single, perfect aim, blasted the vase out of the air as Uncle Vernon hurled it toward them.

Sirius was on Uncle Vernon before the other man could think to try and run. A wide, evil grin spread across Sirius' face as he stared down at the ghostly pale man he now had by the throat.

"Oh, now you've done it." Sirius said quietly. "That little blast of magic is going to light up the ministry headquarters like fireworks. You see, they'll know it was my wand that did it. My guess would be that in less than three minutes you're going to have a house full of wizards for guests. And they're going to crawl all over every inch of this house."

Unfortunately, although it was a good scare tactic to use on Uncle Vernon, Sirius knew what he was saying to be all too true. What he desperately needed was some way to make the situation work for him. Some distraction for Ludo Bagman and his bumbling band of ministry misfits that would give Sirius and Harry time to escape. As Sirius stared down at the man in his grasp, the most perfect idea came to him.

"And do you know why they're coming here?" He asked as his smile grew wider.

Uncle Vernon suddenly felt something pressed into his hand.

"Because it's against wizarding law for a muggle to use a wand." Sirius said.

And with that Sirius turned and, grabbing Harry up from the floor, ran for the cupboard. The perfect escape had caught Sirius' eye the moment he open the cupboard door. Harry's Firebolt was leaning against the back corner. Sirius snatched the broom from the cupboard and ran for the back door. With any luck everything would work just as he hoped and he and Harry would have enough time to escape.

With a well practiced leap, Sirius had them both on the back of the Firebolt and soared into the sky without once looking back.

As they flew into the clouds for cover, Sirius tried to imagine how things were going back at Privet Drive. The Ministry wouldn't have taken long in arriving. Likely he and Harry got out just in time to not be seen. Uncle Vernon, with Sirius' warning ringing in his ears, would likely be too scared to tell the ministry wizards much of anything, certain he was going to be punished for being found with Sirius' wand in his possession and believing the wizards would think he had done magic with it.

His wand.

Sirius sighed at the thought. He had hated leaving it behind. Nothing had given him such comfort in a long time as when he first held it in his hand again after fourteen years. It had taken a good bit of trickery to get it away from the old ministry wizard that was guarding it along with other 'evidence' from various crime cases. But he had managed it and had kept it close by him ever since. Even if he couldn't use it too often. If he ever did, he had to move far from the area. His wand was as good as any homing beacon for the ministry. Every time he used it, they could use the signature magic traces to track him. And just as he had told Uncle Vernon, nothing short of fireworks probably went off in the ministry offices every time he used it.

But it was a comfort having it just the same. A simple, familiar item that helped remind him of who he was and what he was fighting for.

Now it was sitting in that filthy muggle's fat little hand.

Well, Sirius had set the rules, so he had to play by them. And he had stated clearly enough to Uncle Vernon that nothing was more important to him than seeing to Harry's safety. And that had meant having to leave his wand behind.

Sirius flew on until they came to the small familiar cave outside of Hogsmeade. Not the best place to take Harry, most likely. But it was the safest he could think of. He needed time to think. Time to sort things out and come up with a plan that would allow him to keep Harry with him as well as keep himself out of the hands of the Ministry.

Laying in Sirius' arms as they sat on the floor of the cave, Harry began to shake from the cold. It was late in the evening now, but Sirius didn't want to risk a fire. The smoke might be seen. But nor did he have his wand to make any light. They had no food, or water, or supplies of any kind. And Harry had looked like he was in need of some sort of medical care. Even in the dim hallway light Sirius had seen the bruises on his godson's face. But he couldn't risk taking him to a doctor.

Harry's body continued to shake as Sirius wrapped him tighter in his embrace, trying to use his own body heat to help keep his godson warm. Never in his life had he felt so helpless.

Closing his eyes, Sirius began to feel the first pangs of despair begin to grab hold of him.

'Well, you've certainly planned this out, haven't you, Black?' he admonished himself. 'You're stuck back in the bloody cave without food or water, and to top it all off now you've got Harry stuck in here with you. Boy will likely die from your care of him long before the ministry finds you.'

Sirius tried to fold the loose material of his robes about Harry's body to act as a blanket. But there wasn't enough material to do much good. He knew he desperately needed to check Harry's condition. Some of the bruises had looked serious. He couldn't just leave things till morning.

Just as he was beginning to weigh out the risk factors of a small fire, a dim light illuminated the entrance of the cave.

"Well, you've certainly done it now, haven't you?" A voice called from the cave entrance.

Sirius instinctively brought his hand up to shield his eyes from the sudden light. Although the light was actually quite dim, after sitting in the dark for so long, to Sirius it seemed impossibly bright. His first thought was that the Ministry had found them. But how? There was nothing to lead the ministry to the cave. And surely they hadn't been followed on the Firebolt. Sirius would have seen anyone coming after them.

Sirius tensed as he saw the light move into the cave. But a rush of relief came to him as he realized only one figure was standing before him in the cave now. And a wide grin came to his face when he realized who the lone figure was.

Remus.

Lupin crouched down on the cave floor next to Sirius, handing him the blanket he had brought which Sirius immediately wrapped about Harry.

"Do you have any idea what's going on out there?" Lupin asked sternly, pointing to the cave entrance.

Sirius made a face as though he were thinking hard for a moment. "Oh, let me guess." He said. "The entire ministry is out turning over rocks because Harry Potter is in the hands of the murderer, Sirius Black. How's that?"

"This isn't funny, Sirius." Lupin stated firmly. "You are up to your ass in trouble this time. You might have at least had the chance to tell them your side of it before. But now...Sirius, the minute they find you with Harry they're going to start blasting first and ask questions a long time later. Honestly, this is the rashest thing you've ever done. What was so drastic that it called for these measures?"

Sirius grabbed Lupin's wrist and directed the dim light at the tip of his wand at Harry's face.

"How is this for starters?"

Lupin gasp as he nearly fell backwards. Slowly he brought his wand forward again and moved it over Harry's face, dimly illuminating the bruises. Finally Lupin shook his head and got to his feet.

"I need to see better than this." He stated. Raising his wand, he spoke a few words, then cried, "Lumos!"

The cave sudden burst into light.

Sirius covered his eyes. "Remus! Have you lost your mind? Someone will see this!"

Lupin was already back at Harry's side. "I put a dampening spell on the cave entrance. No one will see any light at all. Just the dark entrance to the cave, if they even know it's here." He reached out for Harry. "Let me see him."

Sirius held back. "He not big on movement, Remus. It causes him a lot of pain."

Lupin nodded slightly and settled with allowing Sirius to hold Harry while he peeled back the blanket and what clothing he could.

Even having expected some degree of injury, Sirius was shocked at the extent. A large black bruise covered Harry's side just under the ribs, and another one had formed around the shoulder and partially across his chest. His face had several bruises on it while his left eye was swollen shut.

Sirius fought back his tears with little success as he buried his face in his godson's hair, gently wrapping his hand about his face.

"Oh God, Harry," He cried softly, "I am so sorry this happened. I should have come for you sooner. I should have been there for you."

"You couldn't have know this was going to happen, Sirius." Lupin said quietly as he continued to check Harry's injuries, glancing momentarily at Sirius. "For fourteen years they've never hit Harry. How could anyone have guessed something like this was coming?"

Sirius took little comfort in Lupin's words. All that matter to him was that someone had been able to do this to his godson and he hadn't been there to stop it.

"Getting him medical care wouldn't be too difficult if it wasn't for the fact that the ministry is likely watching Hogwarts. Otherwise we could take him to Madam Pomfrey. I'm sure there's nothing here she couldn't handle."

"Couldn't you bring her here? Kidnap her or something?"

Lupin frowned at the suggestion. "I do hope you aren't sincere about that."

"Well, there has to be some way to get her here."
Lupin shook his head. "Even if we could Sirius, it would only solve one of a list of problems we have right now. You can't keep Harry in a cave the rest of the summer. You have no provisions, no way of taking care of him properly....."

"You could bring what we need." Sirius suggested quickly.

"Right. No one would think anything of seeing someone starting to make regular trips to this cave over the next few weeks. Especially not the ministry wizards that are crawling all over this area. And what if you are discovered? Then what? You'll take Harry and run? Where? To another cave? And what'll happen to Harry if you are caught? He'll likely go back to his aunt and uncle's."

Lupin stopped as he watched the light start to fade behind Sirius' eyes. He knew he had made his point. He had hated to make things seem so desperate, but the situation was desperate. Sirius had acted rashly, good intentions or not, and now they needed to fix things...for Harry's sake.

"He can't go back to the Dursley's." Sirius said dully. Turning back to his godson, Sirius carefully pulled Harry's shirt back about him and covered him with the blanket as he began to shake again from the cold.

"No, of course not." Lupin agreed.

"What about taking him to Dumbledore?" Sirius suggested quickly. "Surely he wouldn't turn the boy away. You can take him."

"Two problems with that, Sirius. One, if I show up with Harry, the ministry will know for sure you're in the area and this place will be swarming with Dementors before you know it. Secondly..., Dumbledore's not at the castle right now."

"Not there? He's always there."

"Not right now. He's been away on business for the past three days. He's not expected back until the end of the week."

"That's five days away!"
"Good to know you can count."

Sirius looked back at Harry. For all intents and purposes, the boy looked like he was sleeping peacefully, oblivious to the two men discussing his future.

"There has to be somewhere, Remus. Some place safe."

Lupin thought over the problem. "Well, lets see. You can't come back to my house. It's being watched. And they're likely watching Hogwarts as well. The problem is to find someplace no one would ever think of. Some place that's a permanent shelter. Some place that's it's unlikely that anyone would just walk in accidentally. Some place preferably close to my house or Hogwarts just in case there is trouble, but not too close that the ministry would get suspicious. And some place we could get Harry some medical care." Lupin stopped suddenly as an expression of inspiration spread across his face. "Of course!" He cried suddenly. "That's it! It's perfect!"

"What is?" Sirius asked, looking at Lupin like he had just gone mad.

"Where you and Harry can go. No one would ever think to look for you there. You'll be perfectly safe. You have an escape if you need it. And Harry can be looked after properly."

"And this would be...?" Sirius asked skeptically.

Lupin look as pleased as if he were just about to give the winning answer on a game show. "The Shrieking Shack."