Growing Up Black
Disclaimer - Harry Potter belongs to J. K. Rowling, not to myself. I have written this story for sheer pleasure, not out of any pecuniary interest.
Summary: What if Harry had been taken from the Dursleys to live with a different aunt and uncle? AU.
Marius Black pulled his Aston Martin to an easy stop directly in front of number four, Privet Drive. He let out a deep sigh.
'For heaven's sake, Marius,' his wife chided him. 'If you didn't want to come this evening, why on earth did you accept the Muggles' invitation?'
'Bentley says that Dursley has talent,' Marius replied. 'He thinks we should give the account to Grunnings.'
Clytemnestra Black sniffed haughtily. Marius chuckled. Squibs they both might be—a disgrace to their families—but his wife had never lost her pureblood pride.
'I hardly see why we should trouble ourselves to meet with him,' she said. 'Why didn't you send Bentley?'
Marius sighed again. His wife refused to understand how these things worked.
'The Dursleys invited us, my dear,' he replied evenly. 'Would you have me insult the Muggle?'
His wife grinned maliciously. 'Do you really want to know what I should prefer to do to the audacious Muggle? Really, for some middling Muggle scum to presume to invite Marius Black to dinner…it boggles the mind.'
That was enough. Marius turned on his wife with a ferocious gleam in his eye.
'Fine,' he spat. 'Why don't we pay a visit to Malfoy Manor, then? I'm sure Abraxas will be simply delighted to see his dear Squib sister.'
Clytemnestra turned pale, but she said nothing more as she gathered her mink about her and exited the car. Marius' heart sank. He cared for his wife deeply, and it hurt him to cause her pain, but every now and then she needed to be reminded exactly what they were. She tended to forget why it was that they had to put up with all these miserable Muggles in the first place.
Marius got out of the car and offered his arm to his wife. She refused to take it, but marched ahead to the Dursleys' door. He followed her and rapped smartly on the door three times with his silver-topped cane. Dursley opened the door.
'Good evening, Mr and Mrs Black!' he exclaimed. 'What an honour for us to have you in our humble home. Allow me to present my lovely wife, Petunia, and our son, Dudley.'
Marius forced himself to smile as he raised the horsey-faced woman's over-large hand to his lips and ruffled the hair of her whale of a son.
'Charmed,' Marius said drily. 'You have a fine family, Mr Dursley.'
Clytemnestra cleared her throat loudly beside him. Marius ignored her.
'May I take your coats, Mr and Mrs Black?' the fat boy asked. Marius could hear the boredom in his tone, and wondered how much the brat was being paid to act appropriately this evening. He removed his overcoat and hat and placed them in the boy's outstretched arms.
'Thank you, my lad,' he said, then turned and glared at his wife until she removed her mink and dropped it over the boy as carelessly as if he were a house-elf.
'Won't you step into the parlour, Mrs Black?' the woman asked Clytemnestra, who was visibly suppressing a great many snide remarks.
'Thank you, Mrs Dursley,' she drawled.
'Oh, please, call me Petunia,' the woman replied.
Marius stifled a chuckle. Clytemnestra looked at the woman as though she were a bit of manure that had appeared on the tip of her shoe.
'I prefer Mrs Dursley,' she said coldly.
Dursley laughed nervously at that and began to wave them all into the parlour.
'What would you care to drink?' he asked.
Before they could leave the hallway, Marius heard a loud sneeze. He turned around. It seemed to him that it was coming from the cupboard under the stairs. Then he heard a small voice berating himself in a harsh whisper. If Marius hadn't been so surprised, he would have laughed. It sounded just like a house elf. But how could there possibly be a house elf in this Muggle home? He decided to investigate.
'If you'll excuse me, Mr and Mrs Dursley,' he said, stepping briefly into the parlour. 'I was wondering where I might freshen up.'
'Oh!' Mr Dursley exclaimed, as though stunned that such an important man as Mr Black might need to relieve himself occasionally. 'In the hallway, right across from the cupboard under the stairs.'
'Excellent,' Marius replied with a wry smile. 'I shall return presently.'
The haughty Squib then slid quietly over to the cupboard and knocked on the door. No one responded.
'It's no use hiding, you know,' he whispered. 'I heard you.'
He heard a quiet gasp.
'What is your name?' Marius pressed.
'Harry,' a small voice murmured.
Marius' face went white. That was a boy locked in the cupboard. What did the Muggle oaf think he was playing at?
'Are you Dursley's boy?' he demanded.
'No, sir,' the timid voice whispered. 'I'm Harry Potter. Please don't tell Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia you heard me. I'll get in really bad trouble.'
Marius' eyes went wide. Harry Potter? The Harry Potter? He stood up in a fury.
'DURSLEY!' he roared. 'GET YOUR WORTHLESS HIDE IN HERE!'
The large man came blustering in. His face was purple. Clearly Marius had crossed some sort of line.
'What's the meaning of this?' Dursley demanded. 'You can't just stride into my home, insult me, and order me about.'
'You have a boy locked in that cupboard,' Marius said simply. 'He says his name is Harry Potter.'
Clytemnestra let out a small gasp.
'It's our nephew,' Dursley said smoothly. 'He's very disturbed. Dangerous, really.'
'And that's why you keep him locked up in a cupboard?' Marius asked incredulously. 'Let him out. I wish to speak with him.'
Dursley began to bluster again. 'What right do you have…?'
'Let him out,' Marius repeated calmly. 'Or I shall be certain to bring this matter up at our dinner with the Prime Minister next Thursday.'
Dursley shut up quickly. He took out his key ring and fiddled around with the keys until he found the one that unlocked the cupboard. He swung open the door, but the boy did not come out. Marius knelt down in the opening and looked at the boy closely. His eyes narrowed. There was no doubt that this was his great-nephew. He looked exactly like Dorea's son. If anyone could see that, it was Marius. After all, his sisters were the only members of the family besides Uncle Phineas who had bothered to keep up with him after his involuntary exile. Marius' eyes shot up to the boy's forehead. There it was, as plain as day—the infamous scar. Marius stood up and glared at Dursley.
'You filthy Muggle!' he snarled. 'You dare to keep Harry Potter locked up in a cupboard?'
'He's a freak,' Dursley mumbled. 'He's dangerous.'
'Is it really him?' Clytemnestra asked her husband quietly. Marius nodded at his wife, who then proceeded to slap Dursley across his bloated face. 'That boy is no freak,' she scolded. 'He may well be the greatest wizard the world has ever known!'
Mrs Dursley gasped. 'You're part of their lot, aren't you?'
Marius turned his angry glare on the hideous woman. 'I'll not put up with this nonsense for another moment. From this point forward, Mr Potter will come live with me.'
'Now hold on,' Dursley began to protest, but shut up when Clytemnestra slapped him again.
Marius knelt down again in the doorway of the cupboard.
'Harry,' he said gently, holding out his hand. 'Would you like to leave this horrid place? You can come live with me, you know. I'm your dad's uncle.' He chuckled softly. 'You look just like him.'
Harry hesitated for a moment, but then he took the elderly man's hand and came out of the cupboard.
'Oh, that poor boy,' Clytemnestra moaned, and rushed over to his side. She pulled Harry into an affectionate, but respectably distant embrace. 'He doesn't even have proper clothes, Marius.'
'We'll fix that,' Marius said firmly. 'Take Harry out to the car, my dear.'
Clytemnestra took Harry's hand and led him outside. Dursley made no protest.
'I have a deal to make with you, Muggle,' Marius spat. 'You tell no one about what happened here tonight, and I'll not report you to the authorities for child abuse.' He paused and considered, then smiled nastily. 'Or turn you all into frog spawn.'
Mrs Dursley fainted at that. Marius took the opportunity to collect their coats and slip out the door, a wide smile on his handsome face. After all, the Dursleys didn't know he was a Squib.
That evening was the best Harry had ever experienced. First off, his dream had come true. He really did have a rich uncle, and that uncle at long last had came to rescue him from the Dursleys. Then he got to ride in a magnificent car next to his new Aunt Clytemnestra, who doted on him while Uncle Marius explained a bit about how they were related to Harry. They drove to a magnificent country estate. When they got there, Harry's new aunt ushered him into the house, where a maid named Dawson had given him a wonderfully hot bubble bath before dressing him in silk pyjamas that almost fit. They were a bit threadbare, but they were far better than anything Harry had ever worn before.
'These belonged to Master Castor,' Dawson explained as she helped Harry get dressed. Harry didn't know who that was, but he was grateful that Master Castor had been a bit closer to his size than Dudley. Then Dawson took Harry down to the kitchen, where the cook served him an enormous supper together with Uncle Marius and Aunt Clytemnestra. Not only did they let him eat as much as he wanted, they even gave him ice cream afterwards.
But the best part came when Aunt Clytemnestra led Harry up to an enormous bedroom filled with beautiful antique furniture.
'This is your bedroom, Harry,' Aunt Clytemnestra said.
Harry's eyes went wide. There must be some mistake. All this couldn't be for him. But Harry made no objection as his new aunt led him over to the gigantic four-poster feather bed with loads of fluffy pillows and actually tucked him in and patted him gingerly on the head.
'Good night, Harry,' his aunt said.
'Good night, Aunt,' Harry whispered back, and Aunt Clytemnestra left the room and turned out the lights.
It took Harry a very long time to fall asleep. That was partly because he wasn't used to being so warm, comfortable, and well-fed. But mostly it was because he was absolutely certain that he was dreaming, and he never wanted it to end.