Plot Summary: This is an AU story, which centres on what would have happened if Petunia Dursley had not been Harry's only living relative. What would have happened if his father had not been an only child? I know it's been done before but this is just my take on it. Hope you enjoy it.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Everything belongs to Jo Rowling. Except Elizabeth. She is my own creation.
Author's Note: Some speech from this chapter has been taken directly from the book, as I think Jo Rowling writes Dumbledore so well that there is no way I can get rid of this :)
Thanks to toujours tu for reviewing! This chapter's for you :)
"I should really go and speak to Poppy and thank her for keeping my secret so well," Elizabeth said, contemplatively. "She was pretty much my only correspondence when I was travelling."
"Of course. But first, we dine." he said, simply, going on to add, "After all, the house elves have been eagerly anticipating the end of the summer so that they may create a brilliant meal for us. We cannot deprive them of the opportunity any longer."
Chapter III - Those Darn Eyes
Elizabeth spent the next few days relaxing, after a long time. She had been provided with an room on the third floor, from where there was not only a stunning view of the grounds, but also easy access to the library, which she had been a frequent visitor of, during her time at the school.
Poppy had been delighted to see her. Elizabeth had spent hours telling her about all she had learnt, and Poppy had been genuinely interested. Elizabeth had not, however, decided whether to stay on at Hogwarts. It was not that she was afraid Poppy would say no. On the contrary, Poppy herself had made her the same offer Albus had, but she was reluctant to accept. The reason she wished to stay was her nephew, and what if he didn't wish her to... No, she decided. She would first ascertain how he felt about her and then she would take further action.
She had also greeted all her teachers, who were a little surprised, but pleased all the same, by her arrival. In fact, all the professors, (except Snape, naturally) had considered it their duty to tell her every little detail of Harry's time at Hogwarts, so that by the end of her second day, Elizabeth no longer felt as though she had not seen her nephew in twelve years. According to their accounts, Harry had remained humble and kindhearted through everything. This was encouraging, and it allowed her to hope that he might find it in his heart to forgive her for leaving him all those years ago.
The fact was, her nephew's reaction had been a matter of great concern for her, and Elizabeth was becoming increasingly anxious. She had been disheartened when, half way through dinner, Albus had told her that Harry was not even aware of her existence, and with Snape in the background making snide remarks, she had burst into tears refusing to eat, out of anxiety. That was, until Minerva had threatened to have Snape make a Strengthening Solution for her if she refused to eat. At that point, she had decided that she at least wanted to survive to see her nephew, and hastily consumed the remnants of her plate.
Despite her worry, the days passed quickly, and before Elizabeth knew it, the Start-of-Term Feast was upon them. She had decided with Albus that she would allow Harry to have some time at school before she revealed her true identity to him.
She was about to make her way to the Great Hall, when a silver cat Patronus came in through the doors. "Come to my office immediately, Poppy. A student has taken ill. And perhaps Elizabeth had better come too."
Poppy and Elizabeth looked at each other in astonishment, and quickly made their way across to Minerva's office.
As the two entered, Poppy immediately made her way over to the students sitting in of Minerva, but Elizabeth froze as soon as she caught sight of who it was.
From where she was stood, only part of his face was visible, but truly, she only needed to see that messy hair to know. At the mention of Dementors, she was enraged, and wondered how the Headmaster could have allowed such a thing.
"I'm not delicate!" she heard Harry say, indignantly, and smiled inspite of herself. He was just like James. She was lost in thought for a moment, and so did not notice Minerva telling her to wait outside, until Poppy gently shook her shoulder. She saw that Harry was now standing in front of her and looking at her questioningly, so she hurriedly went outside. Poppy told them that she would not be attending the feast, and so the two of them were left standing there.
"Harry," she said. quietly, and he looked up at her. "How do you feel?"
"Alright," he muttered, and then added "How do you know my name?" Never mind Albus Dumbledore. She would tell him the truth. That she was his aunt.
"I knew your father, Harry. He..." she began, and looked at him. But when she saw the green eyes, suddenly full of joy, she could not bring herself to tell him. He would hate her. She knew it. "We were friends at school." He smiled at this, and she told herself she had done the right thing, if only to see him smile once.
"Were you friends with my mum too?" he asked, shyly.
She began saying "I was" but at that moment, Minerva came out of her office, with a beaming young girl.
"Come and speak to me later, Harry." Harry grinned at her and the four of them proceeded to make their way to the Great Hall.
The Great Hall was covered with a sea of black, and it invoked a lot of memories for Elizabeth. She watched Harry make his way to the Gryffindor table, while Minerva put one hand on her back and gently led her to the staff table. Minerva took her place next to the Headmaster, and Elizabeth moved towards an empty seat, right next to...
"Elizabeth?" She looked around.
"Remus," was all she could muster the courage to say. Remus looked like he was about to say more, when suddenly the hall went quiet, and Albus stood up. Everyone, students and teachers alike, listened carefully as he spoke about Dementors guarding the school. He advised great caution, and then added something about Invisibility Cloaks, which she didn't understand at first, but then it dawned on her. James had an Invisibility Cloak, and after him, it would naturally pass to his son. She looked towards Harry, who, along with his friend, seemed to have realised that Albus was implicitly talking to him.
Albus paused for a moment. "On a happier note," he continued, "I am pleased to welcome two new teachers to our ranks this year. Firstly, Professor Lupin, who has kindly consented to fill the post of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher." She looked at Remus, but he avoided her gaze, looking around and smiling. She noticed that Harry and his friends were cheering particularly enthusiastically, but they were looking at the other end of the staff table. As she followed their gaze, she caught sight of Snape, who was looking at her and Remus, with an expression of pure contempt on his face. At least this time, she knew it wasn't directed solely at her.
As the scattered applause came to an end, Albus continued. "As to our second appointment, well, I am sorry to tell you that Professor Kettleburn, our Care of Magical Creatures retired at the end of last year in order to enjoy more time with his remaining limbs. However, I am delighted to say that his place will be filled by none other than Rubeus Hagrid, who has agreed to take on this teaching job in addition to his gamekeeping duties."
Elizabeth was surprised to hear this, as Hagrid had not been present in the castle over the last week, and she smiled to herself as she saw him, red in the face, dabbing his eyes. She would have to speak to him later. She enthusiastically joined in the applause, which was especially tumultuous at the Gryffindor table, as the redheaded twins sitting near Harry gave loud wolf whistles.
"And finally, I would like you all to join me in welcoming Healer Elizabeth, who will be assisting Madame Pomfrey , certainly for the next few weeks, and if we are lucky, even longer." There was polite applause, and she caught Harry give her a small smile, before Albus finished. "Well, I think that's everything of importance. Let the feast begin!"
And suddenly, the whole room was filled with the chatter of the students, and the gently clanging of knives and forks. The sight of the food made her mouth water, and she was just about to help herself, when she got the distinct feeling that she was being watched.
Passing it off as a figment of her imagination, she began to eat.
"Why did you go, Elizabeth?" The question was asked so quietly that she almost didn't hear it. She looked around at Remus, her fork half way to her mouth, and for the first time, she realised how different he looked. His clothes were shabby, his face looked worn out and his amber eyes held no emotion but pain. He was no longer the man she knew.
He had never been young. His youth had been snatched away from him at an early age. He had been outcast until he came to Hogwarts. There, he had James, and Peter and Sirius. But now after Sirius had betrayed James and murdered Peter, it was Remus who had lived. And it was Remus who had died. Remus had always been an inspiration to Elizabeth. His resilience, how he got back on his feet and faced adversity head-on.
He had always been there for her, supported her, taken care of her. All this without ever letting her realise what he was going through. Yet, whenever he had needed her, she had not been present. Albus had thought that Remus was the spy, and she had agreed. When it came out that Remus was not, she had been too ashamed to face him, and had run away. She had not even considered how alone he would be.
"Remus, I..." she began, but could not continue. Or rather, she would not continue. She wanted to apologise for leaving him, for not trusting him, for being just like the others, and judging him. But she would not do that. Because the moment she said the word, he would forgive her. That was Remus Lupin. He would be wronged a thousand times, but he would allow anyone a second chance. Even those who didn't deserve it. And she did not deserve it. Because of those darn eyes, and the story they told.
She turned her head and saw that he had resumed eating, as if he had almost expected her to not answer. She cleared her throat and proceeded to do the same. The rest of the meal passed in silence.
Althea sits on her bed, under the covers, with her laptop sitting in front of her. Outside it is snowing, and she decides she might as well make use of the time in the house to write more. Now that she finishes a chapter, she humbly beseeches any readers to please review. Thanks :)