Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, though I wish I did.
Warnings: There aren't any warnings for this chapter. It's more of a plot necessity than anything else. I also apologize for taking so long to update. I don't have an explanation, so my apology is gonna have to cover it.
All was silent in both Harrys' room, and Ron's room at the Burrow. He and Hermione were waiting for their friend to do something… anything, really. Ever since he had stumbled as fast as he could from the kitchen, he had been sitting in the rickety, hard wooden chair at the even less stable looking desk he had. Some time ago, he flinched when the locks on the outside of his door had been locked, the few quiet snicks that were loud in the slowly dimming room. Now it was nearing dinner in the Burrow, and afterwards, the adults would floo to an order meeting at the Black family home, 12 Grimmauld Place.
At first, when Ron heard this would happen, he'd thought about trying to get his parents to let Hermione and him go also. But Hermione had quietly vetoed his idea when he voiced it out loud to her, sad eyes still watching Harry through the screen.
When Molly Weasley shouted up the stair for everyone to go down for dinner, neither Ron nor Hermione moved at first. They continued to watch their once fierce friend as he continued to sit, holding his scabbed hands close, slumped forward, eyes staring unseeingly out the window through the bars. It wasn't until Ginny had been sent up to fetch them and knocked on Ron's door and Hermione jumped up to shut down their beetle, which broke the daze he'd been in.
They were uncertain how to break the news that they had been spying on Harry, let alone how severely mistreated by his Aunt he was. Hermione knew it was wrong of them not to tell anyone. It sometimes drove her nuts that neither she nor Ron had mentioned something to someone. But then reality set in again.
Not only was Harry safe from Voldemort there (if not his family), but if word of his treatment spread even in the slightest rumors, his home-life would be spread out over the whole of the wizarding world. He had it horrible now, and she became nauseous at even the thought that it could be worse, and it could be her fault. The press would rip him to shreds. All those who held a grudge against him either would not hold back in their cruelty, or use the information to their advantage in manipulating him. Letting his suffering become common knowledge was the absolute worst possible thing to go wrong.
No, this had to be handled as delicately as possible.
"Ron," Hermione began uneasily, hoping that they wouldn't be missed at the kitchen table for a while, "I've been thinking…"
Ron turned to look at her tiredly from where he had jumped to in front of the lone window in his room. Outside was a beautiful day, with the sun slowly setting in a colorful sky, warm breeze, and the scent of flowers drifting along gently. He saw none of it.
"We need someone who can help us protect Harry, someone who will do anything in their power to keep him safe, even if that means hiding him from everyone, even the Order."
By this point, Ron was facing her fully, intent eyes watching her.
She nervously looked into his face for a moment, before she quickly sat down on the edge of the bed, and lowered her head.
"We obviously can't go to Dumbledore with this. Remember how he always refuses to let Harry stay at Hogwarts over the summers? Every year he asks, and every year he is forced to return to his family." She angrily spit the last word as if it were a curse. Hermione took a deep breath before continuing.
"He should've at least suspected something was wrong based on that. But either he knows, and doesn't care, or doesn't care enough to check for himself."
She paused again, then after a glance at Ron to see if he was following, continued slowly.
"That's why I think we should tell someone who has only ever looked after Harry, and who isn't completely influenced by Dumbledore."
Ron had moved to sit next to Hermione on the bed, facing the screen showing Harrys' room. He was sitting at his desk still, with a ratty tee shirt wrapped clumsily around his palms, staring down blankly at the empty birdcage on the floor near the window. Hedwig had been living in the tree in the front yard since he had returned to the muggles' house.
He contemplated her words, and she let him think in silence. She obviously had someone in mind, but was waiting for him to come to his own conclusions.
After a few minutes, she spoke again.
"I think Remus can help us."
Ron understood her reasoning, and likely it was the only logical option, but he wasn't too sure.
"He could help Harry, but what about Sirius? He cared for Harry enough to risk himself getting the dementors' Kiss to be around Hogwarts. He's skilled enough in self defense, and so he could keep him safe!"
"I've already thought about that, but he is practically a prisoner in his own home right now! And he's grateful to Dumbledore for his protection, so he may think he's helping Harry by handing him over. We don't know what Dumbledore would do, and that a risk we cannot afford. And he isn't really sane after Azkaban. What Harry needs is a rock; someone who will not falter, no matter what the situation."
Ron had been ready to jump to Sirius' defense when she began speaking, but as Hermione continued to explain herself, he found himself agreeing with her. He still thought Sirius wouldn't hurt Harry, but understood that he wasn't what Harry needed.
Hermione continued her explanation quickly, barely taking time for breaths in-between sentences.
"Also, Remus has his own home, and it's incredibly warded for when the full moon comes around. It's practically in the middle of nowhere for the same reason. He's loyal to Dumbledore, yeah, but he has always questioned his decisions instead of just going along with them. If we can get him to understand the situation, how horrible it is, then I'm sure he will do all he can to help us, and Harry."
She had finished in a rush, and her cheeks were pink from the slight exertion. Ron saw this with a slight flutter in his stomach that he quickly pushed away and ignored. This wasn't the time at all to be thinking of anything other than helping his friend.
He focused again on Hermione.
She looked pleased with her reasoning, but nervous he still wouldn't agree.
He instinctually knew she was right (as always), but he still had one more issue with the almost-plan.
"If we get Remus' help, and everything works out, then Harry will never have to go to those damn muggles again. But I doubt he could be left alone at all once he's safe. Remus is a werewolf. At least three days every month, he wouldn't be able to help him. What then?"
Hermione hadn't actually thought of that, and couldn't think of a suitable answer. She looked at him sadly.
"It's the best option there is. We'll have to figure out what to do then once it becomes an issue. That's it."
He took a deep breath, and held it for a moment. Releasing it slowly, he turned toward her, and nodded solemnly.
The outside sky was in its final stages of sunset. Just a purple hue on the horizon.
It was silent for several minutes before Molly shouted up the stairs that they were missing dinner, and if they didn't hurry up and get moving she would get them herself.
They stood and went quickly downstairs after shutting off the beetle, only to see that almost everyone had begun eating already a while ago, if the half empty dishes were anything to go by.
To their surprise, Dumbledore was seated at the table as well, looking very much out of place surrounded by redheads. At their approach he turned to them and smiled genially, blue eyes twinkling.
"Ah, Mr. Weasley and Ms. Granger, if I could have a word with the both of you once this delicious dinner has been finished, I would be most grateful."
"Albus," started Molly crossly, "You know how I feel about inviting them…"
"Ah, Molly, it shall all be fine. I merely need to have them dispel some rumors within the Order."
Hermione and Ron had already sat at the table, and shot a look at each other. They had an inkling of what rumor they needed to 'dispel.'
The Weasley matriarch was still put off that they would be involved in the Order in anyway, but trusted the headmaster to know what he was doing.
Seeing her unspoken acceptance, Albus nodded toward her gratefully. Turning toward Author seated next to him, he picked up the conversation that had obviously been dropped when they walked into the kitchen.
They stayed mostly silent for the remainder of the meal, thoughts often on Harry.