Disclaimer: I am borrowing from the creative mind of J.K. Rowling.
Summary: This story circulates around one of my pet peeves. Why would you bother to keep someone in protective custody or under surveillance without an able keeper? Mrs Figg was a member of the Order of the Phoenix and could have been a formidable Auror watching over Harry Potter. What if Mrs Figg decided to intervene?
Warning: This story is rated as T for a reason. There is a scene of violence and character death.
Thank you to my beta Trucklesinthetree. If you have not read Remembering Me and the sequel Remembering Me: Into the Serpent's Lair, you should check it out. It is listed as a favourite on my profile page and in my community, Melverne's Picks. I am looking for stories to add to the community, if you have a suggestion PM me.
Chapter 1: Living with the Dursleys
A persistent rapping at the door roused the Dursleys from their sleep.
"Who the bloody hell is beating on the door?" Vernon growled as he got up. "Some damn fool doesn't know how to use the doorbell. It's nearly midnight. I should call the Bobbies!" The box springs protested loudly when Vernon pushed himself off the bed.
"It's probably Mr Vandart. The man can't find his own home after a few drinks. You know the Jordans found him passed out on their front yard last spring. Mrs Vandart will be embarrassed to death about this," Petunia remarked with a sanctimonious glint in her eye as she pulled on her robe. She held a smug look on her face as she thought of gossiping about the neighbourhood drunk's latest exploits.
Vernon felt a little stab of sympathy for Mr Vandart because he still had trouble himself finding the house they lived in. Petunia had wanted a new home to start a family in and the only thing they could afford at the time was one of the cookie cutter homes in a sprawling suburb. It wasn't as nice as they would have liked but it was new. More importantly, it made Petunia happy and kept her off his back. With his fairly recent promotion to director at Grunnings Drills, they could upgrade to a nicer neighbourhood in a few years.
Vernon pulled his dusty cricket bat from the closet on the way downstairs while Petunia looked in on their little Dudley. Fortunately, he still slumbered deeply. A growing boy like our little man needs all the rest he can get, Petunia thought after closing the door to the nursery.
The hammering at the door started in again even louder than before.
"I'm coming. I'm coming. Keep your shirt on!" Vernon bellowed angrily. Better to put the scare into him before I open the door. Then I can just wave the bat around a little and chase the miscreant off.
He unlatched the dead bolt and closed his meaty fist around the doorknob. Vernon looked up at Petunia on the landing of the stairs and confidently nodded to her before opening the door.
"Now what the bloody hell do you want?" His voiced dropped off at the sight of the unusual visitors at his door.
A sinister looking man with long, black hair stood outside. He appeared to be in his early twenties. The black robes he wore were trimmed in dark green. In a different era his apparel would have been considered elegant. His arms were crossed against his chest. One hand held a little stick, which he tapped irritably against his shoulder.
Is he an orchestra director? Vernon wondered.
When the gothic stranger saw the cricket bat Vernon held ready to swing, his lip curled back in a contemptuous sneer that would have curdled a bowl of milk. His eyes rolled down from the bat to menacingly meet Vernon's glare. Their eyes locked as if the dark stranger were daring Vernon to attack. Vernon's arm quivered, losing its strength and then slowly lowered until the bat hung limply at his side.
"Ah, Mr Dursley. How very nice to meet you," the other stranger greeted good-naturedly.
Vernon studied the other man. He was dressed in royal purple robes, which looked expensive but utterly ridiculous to Vernon. He did not recognize the gold embroidery around the hem of the robes but knew it was more than just a simple pattern. The man's hair was snowy white and a long beard tumbled down his chest nearly to his waist. The pointed, purple cap with matching gold embroidery was like a crown on his head. Wizened blue eyes peered out through gold-framed glasses. He appeared to be very old but not decrepit. Vernon could not deny the strength of command emanating from the old gentleman. He could have been dressed as a pauper and there still would have been no mistaking the venerable man's powerful demeanour.
In the crook of the old stranger's arm was the unmistakable bundle of a baby. The black hair of the baby poked out of the red and gold blanket that swaddled the tiny child.
Vernon stood in the door at a complete loss. He eventually made the connection that these men were the type that his infrequently mentioned in-laws kept company with.
"We... we don't want any," Vernon stammered lamely and tried to close the door.
The door froze open. Vernon could not get it to move another inch.
"We would like a word with your lovely wife Petunia, if you please." No matter how politely the purple robed stranger asked it was not a question. Vernon backed into the hall as the strangers entered his house.
Petunia now stood at the bottom of the stairs, watching in terror as her home was invaded by the people of her hated sister. She glared at the two men and nearly choked when she recognized the one in black. Petunia felt a sense of rage build up in her. The presence of the boy that had befriended Lily in their childhood flamed her hatred.
"You!" Petunia spat angrily and pointed an accusing finger at Severus Snape.
"Petunia," Severus acknowledged as he mockingly tipped his head to her. The door drifted shut behind Severus and locked itself.
The old man walked to the living room and made himself comfortable. He checked on the baby in his arms as he waited for the others to join him. Petunia and Vernon dumbly followed behind and sat down together on the couch. Petunia nervously clutched Vernon's hand in hers.
"Mr and Mrs Dursley it is indeed a pleasure to meet your acquaintance. I am Albus Dumbledore."
Severus strode to the front window to watch the street outside. The Dark Lord had fallen and more blood would be shed this night. The Death Eaters had not given up the fight and were looking for revenge. Glasses were being raised in celebration and voices cried out in good cheer. But in the shadows there were also wands being drawn and dark curses were muttered.
"Now is not a good time for pleasantries, Headmaster."
"Thank you for reminding me, Severus. Petunia, I'm afraid our time is short and I must be blunt. I am truly sorry to bring you this terrible news but your sister, Lily, and her husband James, have died." He paused, waiting for the information to sink in.
Petunia blinked and stared at Albus.
"You could have just sent a letter," she answered coldly. She watched the baby in his arms curiously, not wanting to look Albus in the eye. Being a nosy person, Petunia couldn't resist asking, "How did they die?" Dread crept up her spine, knowing what the answer would be.
"They were murdered by Lord Voldemort," came the inevitable reply.
The Dark Mark sparked sending the sensation of pins and needles up Severus' arm. The man hissed at the mention of the Dark Lord's name from his station. "Headmaster, I must implore you to speed this up." Fool send up a flare and scream we are here. The Dark Lord's name draws the attention of his followers and when he calls none of us can refuse.
Rage intensified in Petunia at the man before her and all of their kind. It was their fault. Lily and James Potter had come to Petunia after their wedding day with similar news. Apparently there had been an altercation at the ceremony. There was some resentment in their society over Lily marrying James. It had ended badly for their parents. Evidently they were unable to defend themselves and had become casualties of the deadly dispute.
Lily had tried to explain what was going on but Petunia wanted to hear nothing about it. Petunia had disowned Lily that day and asked to never see her again. When Lily chose to attend Hogwarts it had set the course for an early grave for their parents. It was only fitting, in Petunia's eyes, that Lily met the same fate.
"Is that all?" Petunia asked ready for Albus and Severus to leave.
Albus looked at Petunia a little taken back by her callous reaction.
"There is another small matter I must bring up," Albus replied and pointedly looked at the baby in his arms. "Little Harry here is the sole survivor of the attack. You are the only family he has left."
Petunia looked at the boy with loathing on her face when she asked, "Is he going to be like her, like you?"
"Yes. Even now when he is just over a year old I can feel the magic in Harry."
"Send him to the orphanage or whatever it is you do with parentless children. Maybe one of your kind will adopt him, but don't you dare ask this of me."
Getting his wits about him and sensing the burden about to be placed on them Vernon found his voice.
"We will not take in that unnatural child. Let your kind care for him. We do not need an unwanted child in our family."
Stealthily, Albus eased into their minds, probing for their fears and desires. Petunia is still bitter about Lilly being special. She had to stay at home while her younger sister was whisked away to a secret society to learn things most people only dream of. It had hurt her deeply to be told that she could not go. To make matters worse the Evans were so very proud of Lilly and how well she did in school. When James and Lilly were married she had turned a cold shoulder to her sister refusing to be a bride's maid. Then tragedy struck when some Death Eaters assaulted the wedding party and their parents were slain. Vernon is as ordinary as they come and has no imagination, only ambition.
"I assure you he will not be a burden to you," Albus soothed and slyly added, "I would not expect you to take on this challenge without some help for the family. A monthly stipend to help with the extra mouth to feed."
Greed immediately glinted in their eyes when they looked at the bundle cradled in the Headmaster's arms and the income it represented.
"We do not have the room for two growing boys," Vernon answered shrewdly knowing a deal was being negotiated. It was all he could do to keep from rubbing his hands together greedily.
"Headmaster, there is not much time left," Severus called out impatiently. I knew it. Someone else has felt the summoning. Anyone speaking of the Dark Lord tonight is likely to receive a visit.
"I think one of the new homes on Privet Drive in Little Whinging would give us the space we need for our boys,' Vernon continued. 'Of course Petunia would be giving up her career to take proper care of the children and she was on the fast track with the firm. She is due for a promotion any time now," he hinted. The man warmed up considerably now that they were in his arena. He did not become a director of Grunnings for nothing.
"Yes, I am sure she is quite successful," Severus said sarcastically from his post. "Just give them what they want, Headmaster." To his chagrin he had inadvertently conveyed the desperation of their situation.
"We will provide you with everything necessary to raise Harry that is befitting a Potter. The monthly stipend will be very generous," Albus assured the Dursleys.
"They're here. Two maybe three incoming hostiles," Severus shouted.
Before they could react further the front door was blasted off its hinges. Petunia screamed as a Death Eater did an impressive roll through the door trying to get the drop on his targets.
"Confringo!" Severus shouted, blasting the crouching assailant through the wall. "Only an imbecile would come through the front door."
Severus shook his head. One thing he had strongly disliked about being among the Death Eaters was the lack of qualifications. Men such as himself and Lucius Malfoy were far too few. The inner circle was composed of the greatest of their ranks and the Dark Lord carefully watched them all. The rivalry among the Death Eaters to rise in rank was startling. Only the most devious and powerful held their positions for long. Death and deceit courted every meeting. The Dark Lord encouraged constant discord and mistrust among his followers.
As the most accomplished potion master among Lord Voldemort's followers Severus enjoyed a certain level of protection, but he had never relied upon it. The numerous duels with those wishing to rise in rank had honed Severus into a fine weapon. He was able to defend himself against the other megalomaniacs' challenges.
The healing potions were useful to the injured but it was the subtlety of poison that the Dark Lord cherished. To be able to brew the toxins and creatively deliver them to the victim was Severus Snape's true value - A silent assassin in Voldemort's employment.
"Dudley, our little Dudley is upstairs!" Petunia shrieked.
Vernon held her back from blindly running up the steps. Sucking in his gut and summoning his courage Vernon struck a heroic pose. "I'll get him," the big man bugled.
"Don't be ridiculous you fool." Snape sneered at the man. "I will get your child."
"Be careful, Severus," Albus cautioned. "Grab the boy and apparate to the designated point. We will leave from there in five minutes from my mark." The wand tips glowed as the time was synchronized. Albus stepped up to the Dursleys who were huddled together and apparated away with them in a show of his tremendous magical strength.
I have only seen two wizards do a side along apparation with more than one person. One is quite likely deceased and the other just left. Severus shook his head in wonder and turned off the downstairs light with a wave of his wand. With the lights out he would not be as easily seen. The man in black melted into the shadows to wait for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. With the wave of his wand Severus cast a localized silencing charm on his feet so he could move about soundlessly.
Spying on the Marauders throughout school, and later the Death Eaters, taught him to use spells creatively in his dangerous pursuits. Many of the spells in his arsenal had been sufficiently mastered to be cast without a wand or verbal component, a few required nothing more than his intent.
After using a sensory spell to insure the second floor hall was not an ambush, Severus magically expanded his senses to listen at the doors, searching for the Dursley boy. His keen sense of smell, developed from brewing potions, allowed him to sniff out the scent of dirty diapers and baby powder. He could feel the ever so faint presence of magic in the room, indicating an opponent had found the nursery as well.
Carefully, Severus crouched down against the wall then slid his wand under the nursery door.
"Lumos!" A brilliant flash of light burst from the tip of his wand and lit the room on the other side of the door. He pushed the door open letting it bang against the wall and waited for the defensive fire.
The temporarily blinded Death Eater in the nursery panicked as predicted and started firing blasting curses rapidly in the direction of the door. Between shots Severus cast a curse at his adversary then waited for it to take effect.
The Death Eater's robes darkened as a lump bulged against the front. He pressed his free hand against the foreign mass questioningly. It squished and rolled around his belt line. Startled, he pulled his hand away. His fingers were hot and sticky from the blood clinging to his hand.
He backed against the wall in astonishment. Using an incantation he cut his robes down the front looking for the wound. Once the incision reached his navel, grey sausage like tubes spilled out the front and onto the floor. His abdominal wall was gone, hexed away by his opponent.
The wand tumbled from his fingers into the pile of steaming entrails. In shock he dropped to the floor and tried to gather his innards and put them back where they belonged. Through his hazy vision the Death Eater saw the movement of Severus entering the room.
Severus picked up the sleeping baby and turned to the incapacitated Death Eater. He pointed his wand in the other wizard's face.
The cutting curse blew a neat round little hole through the dark wizard's skull. His head tipped back slightly in response. The Death Eater's eyes were glazing over with shock as he looked up at Severus. The attacker blinked at the blood and grey jelly like matter oozing over his right eye. His eyes rolled back and he slumped against the blood-splattered wall before his body gave a final spasm and then lay still.
When Severus apparated to the meeting place Vernon was in an uproar. "That boy is going to be a trouble magnet. It couldn't have been more than five minutes before we were attacked, in our own home! We do not want anything to do with your kind. I will not live my life in fear!"
Petunia was at Vernon's side doing her best imitation of a bobble head. She was nearly as red in the face as Vernon. How could they expect them to get wrapped up in her thrice-damned sister's affairs? Her head turned to Severus as he joined them.
"Dudley!" She cried, snatching her precious baby boy from Severus like he had the plague. Dudley sensed the stress and promptly started to wail.
"Thank you for the daring rescue, Severus," Albus emphasized for the benefit of the ungrateful Muggles. "Let's be on our way so we can talk in peace. Gather round please. It is best if we hold on to each other for this. We don't want to leave anyone behind."
Vernon grumbled about the unnatural method of travel but the Dursleys could not resist the compulsion to do as Albus asked. The Dursleys shuddered with a deep revulsion as they held on to the wizards. Petunia deliberately placed Dudley between her and Vernon to keep him as far from the deviants as possible.
A swirling moment of chaos later and they were in the Headmaster's study at Hogwarts. Once again Severus was amazed by the casual display of might from Albus. As the Headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus could bypass the anti apparation wards around the school. So the man had transported three adults and a child to the school at an even further distance than the previous trip. I am considered powerful by my peers but Albus Dumbledore and the Dark Lord are giants among men.
"Now we can be candid and get down to the point," Albus stated. "As you have surmised, your nephew may have a few individuals with an unhealthy interest in him. This is precisely why you were sought out Petunia."
Severus barely suppressed a snort. That is an understatement. The boy will be hunted. Petunia could give a hag a bad name. If I had an ounce of compassion for the woman, I would warn them.
Petunia glared at Albus, not wanting to even entertain the earlier proposition no matter how financially beneficial it may be. It was just not worth getting involved with their sort. It had had a fatal ending for her parents and now for her sister and that bastard of a husband. Vernon was of a similar disposition and they comforted one another gathering their courage to tell the wizards to sod off.
Before they could voice their discontent, however, Albus began his explanation.
"Harry could be placed with another family. There would be no shortage of volunteers, for that I assure you."
Severus smiled covertly, thinking of the turmoil a custody war would bring. The Wizengamot would be swarmed with people seeking to claim the Potter spawn for fame, fortune or the possibility of revenge. Already they were referring to him as 'The- boy-who-lived'.
Even from across the room Severus could feel Albus exerting a calming influence over the Muggles. The essence flowed over his tightly shielded mind leaving a faint smudge that few would have noticed. The Headmaster may have taught him the art of Occlumency but it was the Dark Lord who had honed it.
Albus continued, "However, there is the matter of his wellbeing. Only the oldest wizarding families would have strong enough wards on their property to protect the boy from harm, but you have the strength of blood. If you accept Harry into your home, the defences would be impregnable. Not even the old estates could compete with this ancient magic. Furthermore, our world does not mix with the mundane. Harry would be unknown and sheltered from his ill-gotten fame. He would blend into your society, safe from those who would seek to hurt him."
With a look of scorn on her face Petunia looked Albus straight in the eye.
"No I will not have that abomination in..." She stopped in mid-sentence, drawn to his eyes like a moth to an open flame, never once suspecting the danger lurking there.
"Petunia," Albus reasoned with her, "he is of your family's line; A grand child of your parents whom perished tragically. Would they want him or Dudley to be without the love of family?"
Petunia sighed and her shoulders slouched in defeat. She answered reluctantly.
"We will take the... boy. Under the condition that we are well protected and provided for in return."
"Of course my dear, of course," Albus Dumbledore replied comfortingly.
The Dursley were settling in to their new home at Number 4 Privet Drive in Little Whinging Surrey nicely. The immense two-story home had three big bedrooms. The master bedroom suite had a private bath and walk in closet. The other two bedrooms upstairs shared a second full bathroom. The fourth room on the main floor made a nice office with a hideaway bed for visitors. The yard was huge and had extensive landscaping. The Dursleys debated the necessity of hiring a housekeeper and gardener. The house had truly exceeded even their lofty expectations. The only problem was Harry.
At first Petunia had been worried when Harry began crying for no apparent reason. She had fed him, changed his nappy several times and even resorted to carrying the loathsome boy around with her. He didn't look sick and the thermometer reading didn't show a high temperature. Harry's behaviour was wearing Petunia down.
Even worse, Dudley was being neglected. She had been ecstatic at the prospect of being a full time housewife and taking care of Dudley. However all of her time seemed to be spent trying to appease Harry.
Vernon was suffering as well. The incessant crying was interrupting his sleep and as a result he was quick to anger. Vernon was more irritable at work and verbally assaulted his staff for even minor grievances. His appetite was diminishing and he started staying out late at the pubs, drinking by himself.
This had to stop. The first thing Petunia did was to move Harry's crib to the living room down stairs and turn off the baby monitor. With the bedroom doors closed they couldn't hear Harry most of the time. To keep the crib out of the way when it wasn't being used Petunia would wheel it into the cupboard under the stairs.
After one particularly taxing day, however, Petunia was too tired to roll out Harry's crib. Instead she just walked in and put him to bed. When he started to cry she shut the door and went upstairs. Over the next few weeks it became her answer to the constant crying. The minute Harry started to cry he was put into the cupboard. When he eventually quit Petunia would bring him out. It was a much easier way of dealing with the child of her dreadful sister.
Petunia could tell Harry did not like being in the cupboard by the way he would fiercely cling to her as she put him in the crib. Most of the time his crying was reduced to little sniffles by the time Petunia carried him to the cupboard. Eventually all Petunia had to do was ask Harry if he needed to be 'put away' and he would quiet himself down.
Dudley was fascinated with Harry being 'put away'. He would deliberately poke, prod or hit his cousin trying to make him cry just so Dudley could watch Harry get shut in the cupboard. Not long after that discovery Dudley figured out that Harry would also be taken away if he cried.
By the time spring arrived Harry had almost quit crying entirely. Now he only cried when he was hurt badly. He had been trained to quietly wait for attention. It was this unusual discipline that caught Mrs Figg's attention the afternoon she finally met Petunia.
Mrs Figg had moved into her home the same day as the Dursleys to assume a vigilant watch over Harry Potter. After a few months of closely observing the Dursleys, Mrs Figg was prepared to introduce herself into their lives.
Petunia had established the habit of walking her double stroller down to the park every afternoon, so Mrs Figg began the strange Muggle custom of checking her mail during the Dursleys' afternoon walk. Eventually she timed it just right to meet Petunia.
With her copy of the Muggle magazine, Feline Fancy, in hand, Mrs Figg turned and admired the nearly two-year-old boys in the stroller. She leaned over for a better look and was rewarded with a glimpse of the lightning bolt-shaped scar beneath the black haired boy's bangs. His sparkling green eyes warily regarded her in return. Mrs Figg couldn't contain her excitement and tactfully misdirected it to the bigger boy.
"My what a handsome little man you are," Mrs Figg exclaimed. "Is he two maybe two and half?"
"Dudley is twenty one months old," Petunia replied proudly.
"Oh, you are a big boy. I bet your proud father is planning your athletic career." Mrs Figg smiled at Dudley.
Dudley blew a nice wet raspberry in return and clubbed Harry as he flailed his meaty fists about showing off. Harry's mouth opened ready to cry out but when his eyes moved to Petunia's watchful glare he sniffled once, twice and then gave a heavy huff. Harry was hit twice more by Dudley and shrugged the blows off. After the last hit Harry leaned away from his cousin's antics.
Mrs Figg attentively watched how the family interacted. Petunia never discouraged Dudley from hitting Harry. She didn't even seem to be bothered by it. What amazed her was that Harry had not cried when his brute of a cousin hit him. The brat had swung hard enough that she heard him hit Harry. Albus had mentioned there might be some contention between Harry and his relatives, she thought grimly.
"Look at those blond curls, you are going to be quite the ladies' man," Mrs Figg continued praising Dudley. "I am so sorry. I didn't mean to get so caught up with your little boys," Mrs Figg stated as she turned to face Petunia and held out her hand. "I'm Arabella Figg."
"It is nice to meet you, Arabella. I am Petunia Dursley," Petunia greeted in return. Her thin, manicured hand reached out to shake Mrs Figg's.
"Who is that other child? He doesn't seem to be as high spirited as Dudley."
"That is Harry Potter my orphaned nephew. He is a bit dull in comparison to Dudley," Petunia agreed.
Subdued would be a better description for the boy.
"That is very noble of you. Not everyone would willingly take on another child especially at that demanding age. I don't envy you. Raising them will be quite a task. Don't be afraid to ask for help. I raised three boys of my own and know they can be a hand full. Well I won't hold you up from your walk any longer. I will have a pot of tea on shortly. You are welcome to stop in on your way back."
"Thank you for the invitation, Arabella. It would be nice to talk with another adult for a little while," Petunia nodded, her bony hands moving back to grasp the handles of the stroller again.
After walking through the park Petunia stopped at Arabella's home for tea as invited. She wheeled the stroller to the front door noting two cats peering out the window watching her. Before she could knock the door was opened. Arabella smiled warmly at Petunia and held the door open for her.
"Come in, come in," she happily invited.
Petunia's nose twitched disdainfully as she counted the cats prowling the house. Four of the lowly beasts, the filthy curs must be on everything!
The cats watched the visitor loftily, ignoring Petunia's disdainful look. Their eyes were glazed with indifference, as if Petunia was not worthy of interest.
"These are my cats," Arabella announced noticing Petunia's cool reaction. "They are an exotic pedigree known as the Kneazle. Their fur is more like human hair and is not likely to trigger allergic reactions. They are considered to be the most intelligent breed of domestic feline and are fiercely loyal to their owner. As a hobby I breed them and attend cat shows. Each one has earned at least one 'Best in Show'. As a notable breeder, I have purchasers who pay for the privilege of being on a waiting list for a kitten."
Petunia's shallow attitude instantly changed towards the cats once she realized that they were coveted and valuable.
"They are very fine looking," she praised.
Dudley whacked the arms of the stroller in frustration now that he was inside and no longer moving. He was getting ready to start a tantrum when one of the cats sniffed at Harry inquisitively.
A pure white cat with long hair had stood up on the stroller placing one paw on Harry's little leg and sniffed at his face. Harry cooed happily in return. His little fingers curled gently around the soft fur.
Dudley suddenly swatted at the cat, causing it to spit and hiss in irritation at the brat before sauntering off to lay in the sunshine.
Tea in the afternoon with Mrs Figg turned into an everyday occurrence over the next few years. When the boys were old enough to be enrolled for school Mrs Figg and Petunia joined a bridge club.
Albus had made the suggestion to Arabella that she might want to be better acquainted with Petunia to keep a closer watch over Harry. While it sounded like a good idea, Mrs Figg was not sure she could keep up the charade for long. It had surprised her that the two of them had grown into steadfast friends despite Mrs Figg's reservations about the woman. She had heard plenty about Petunia from James Potter when they had worked for the Order of the Phoenix together. There were very few people whom James was unable to get along with or whom he did not give the benefit of the doubt to - Petunia was one of them.
Thank you for reading the chapter. A great deal of time and effort has been committed to this story. The biggest reward you can give is a review. All comments are welcome.