This story's an Alternate Universe because it doesn't fit the canon. I wondered why Remus never contacted Harry… well, the Dursleys and his lycanthropy are considerable deterrents. Enjoy!


ROME WASN'T BUILT IN A DAY

~ kittykittyhunter ~


He was a nine-year-old boy whose slight frame was emphasised by his old, baggy clothes; he had a head of untidy black hair, bright green eyes, framed by his glasses – there was nothing special about him, except for a scar on his forehead, shaped like a lightning bolt.

Harry Potter was dreading going home. He disliked his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon intensely, but their son, who was a little older and much bigger than Harry, was the worst. Dudley enjoyed making Harry miserable. Today, he had twisted Harry's arm at school, forcing Harry to relinquish the chocolate bar he'd earned by spelling 'onomatopoeia' correctly. It wasn't really the loss that made Harry angry, but the indignity – once again, he'd been powerless.

He loitered on the doorstep of Number Four, Privet Drive. Harry sighed, poising his fingers to ring the bell so that he could retreat to his cupboard under the stairs… wait. Why could he hear Uncle Vernon, when it wasn't the director's day off?

If Harry stayed where he was, Dudley would waddle down the path and find a ready punch-bag. But if Harry announced his arrival, Uncle Vernon would open the door and strangle his nephew.

In the end, there was no need to make a choice. A calm voice in the hallway said clearly, "I'll be taking my leave." But there was a peculiar quality to the man's tone… as though he was pushing himself to be polite. Wondering what kind of horrible person would want to stick around at the Dursleys, Harry sprang backwards – and the door opened.

"Harry?"

Curiosity defeated the boy. He glanced up at his name, and to his surprise, found himself looking at a smiling man. Though he was young, he was very tired: there were shadows under his eyes and creases across his forehead. Harry spied grey hairs among the light brown. Most remarkable of all were the man's clothes; they were rather shabby. He was sort of… unDursleyish.

"ABSOLUTELY NOT!" boomed Uncle Vernon. "YOU MAY NOT SPEAK TO HIM! I WON'T LET YOU!"

Harry swallowed a laugh as the man rolled his eyes. He called over his shoulder, "Really Vernon - the neighbours can hear you. Wouldn't it be best if I spoke to Harry? I'd rather not get… angry."

Something about these words had an astonishing effect on Uncle Vernon. Two minutes later, Harry was amazed to find himself sitting on the living room sofa, the man opposite. Aunt Petunia was probably fuming in the hallway, anxiously snooping.

"I've been granted twenty minutes," the stranger began. Harry observed him curiously. "I'm sure that your – guardians – have your best interests at heart. There is only so much I can tell you…"

He frowned at the window, watching Dudley come into view. Harry found his voice and queried, "Um… who are you?"

"What?" The man's head snapped back. He blinked – and laughed. "Sorry Harry! My name is Remus Lupin." He smiled, and Harry smiled too: he decided that he liked this kind man whom even Uncle Vernon feared, though for no reason that Harry could see.

"Remus," Harry repeated, thinking back to a lesson from a few weeks ago, where the class had studied Ancient Rome. "Like… Romulus?"

"I suppose so," said Mr Lupin pleasantly. "Do you like History?"

"A little bit," answered Harry, shifting his weight. "I don't really have a favourite lesson."

Mr Lupin looked sympathetic. "When I was your age," he went on, "I didn't really enjoy school either. It was only when I turned eleven, and I became friends with your father –"

Harry's mouth went dry. "You knew Dad?"

"Yes," said Mr Lupin quietly.

Harry did not know what to say. He had never met any of his other relatives – never mind any of his parents' friends. Sometimes, strangers in the street would wave unexpectedly, but this –

"I apologise that I didn't visit sooner," continued Mr Lupin, and Harry felt he was genuinely sorry. "I don't blame you for not remembering me. When we last met, you were a tiny baby…" He shook his head, as though dislodging memories. He reached into his jacket and brought out a huge bar of chocolate, which he passed to Harry. "This is for you. It's poor manners, I know, to show up all this time without even a gift – yet there's so little I can give you…"

"Thank you," Harry whispered. He knew that he wasn't supposed to take sweets from strangers – but this wasn't a stranger, this was his dad's friend. Harry didn't have time to worry about looking greedy – he snapped a chunk of chocolate and offered it to Mr Lupin, but the man declined.

It was the most delicious treat Harry had ever tasted. He looked down at the name on the wrapper: Honeydukes Best Chocolate. They weren't kidding!

Swallowing, Harry ventured, "Mr Lupin… can I ask you about… Dad?"

"Of course."

An explosion thudded in Harry's stomach – he was allowed to ask questions! The clock chimed, announcing that half of his precious time was gone. But where to start? "What did he look like?" Harry asked eagerly.

"You've… never seen a photo?"

Harry shook his head.

A shadow crept over Mr Lupin's face, but he chuckled: "Exactly like you! Well, a bit taller – but James' hair was about as tidy as bird's nest, and he wore glasses, like you. You have your mother's eyes though, Harry – Lily's were green."

Harry's mind was spinning. He was piecing the information together, like a jigsaw, trying to form a snapshot. Untidy hair, like his! Green eyes, like his!

"And – and – what were their jobs?"

Mr Lupin hesitated. Harry wondered whether he was lying, but chose to shove aside his doubts.

"They were a bit like… special police officers. They were very brave people, Harry, and they fought against a lot of bad people. I was very proud – and still am – to call myself their friend."

There was a silence as Harry debated what to ask next. He took another bite of the tremendous chocolate, warmth flooding through him – he vaguely realised that he was shivering.

And Harry knew what he wanted to ask most, and hated that he would sound like a baby, but didn't care. As long as he heard the words from someone, anyone…

"Did they," Harry whispered, "did they – love me?"

Mr Lupin closed his eyes briefly. "More than I could ever explain. You were their pride and joy. Yes, Harry. They loved you very much."

Harry wiped his eyes while Mr Lupin examined the clock on the wall. Then the door slammed open, and Uncle Vernon pointed at Mr Lupin, growling – "Alright – said your bit – go."

Mr Lupin raised his eyebrows but stood up, indicating for Harry to walk with him – Uncle Vernon seemed about to disagree, but a twitch of Mr Lupin's pocket had the huge man shrinking.

Harry accompanied Mr Lupin down to the garden gate, where Mr Lupin said abruptly, "We will meet again, Harry. I cannot be certain of when, and if I had my way, I would see you more often…" he glanced back at the house, where the three Dursleys were visible in the doorway. "I'm glad I was able to see you – very glad."

"It was nice meeting you," said Harry in a small voice. He could not believe that his only link to his parents was leaving so soon. "Th-thank you…"

"You're welcome," murmured Mr Lupin, placing a gentle hand on Harry's head and ruffling his unruly black hair. "Take care now…"

Then he smiled once more and opened the gate, walking quickly down the street. Harry watched his father's friend leave, hoping that he would stay safe and that, one day, they could meet again.


I've written about the other Marauders, so it's time that Remus gets a story.

The title's basically... "You can't ask every question in one sitting."