Chapter 5: Petunia's Promise

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August 1881

Marge awoke with a raging headache. Between her unexplainable allergic reaction, her brother being arrested, and her sister-in-law’s heathen nephew making a scene the previous day, she had enough to deal with. And now, atop all of that unseemly drama, she would have a house full of teenagers as well seeing Dudley off to school for another year. That is, if anyone showed up after the news broke about Vernon in the papers. 

“Best to face the crisis early,” she muttered, sitting up and looking at the small gold-inlayed clock on her bedside table. “What the – MARIE!”

Marge reached past the clock and yanked hard on the cord to summon the lady’s maid. She threw aside her blankets and stumbled out of bed, gripping her forehead in pain.

“Yes?” Marie asked dryly, entering the room.

“Don’t you say ‘yes’ to me in that ungrateful tone, wench! Why in god’s name haven’t you woken me yet!? It’s half past nine!” Marge demanded.

“The doctor said to let you rest,” Marie said simply. “Is that all?”

Marge stood up straight and curled her lip furiously at the insolent maid. “IS THAT ALL!?” she repeated. “How dare you speak to your mistress this way!?”

“I don’t have a mistress,” Marie claimed, grinning. “Well, not until the young master marries, that is.”

“You insufferable brat!” Marge snapped. “Get over here and help me dress – I’ll deal with you later!”

“You can dress yourself,” Marie said cheerfully before laughing and seeing herself out.

Marge stared at the door in horror before snarling at it and snatching up her dressing gown. She stormed out to the loft and leaned over the staircase rail. “ALFRED!” she barked.

The butler slowly appeared at the bottom of the stairs and looked up at her lazily. “Yes, Ms. Dursley?”

“Miss—How dare you call me that!? What is the matter with you all!?”

“Do keep your voice down, miss,” Sean the footman said from the landing above her. “The young master is sleeping.”

“Well then wake him up!” Marge said, stomping up the stairs to the smirking footman. “Dudley!”

“Young Mr. Dursley never wakes this early. Do keep your voice down, Ms. Dursley, or the young master might have you removed from his premises.”

“WHAT IN GOD’S NAME ARE YOU ON ABOUT, YOU FOOL!?” Marge exploded.

“Harry,” Rose said, leaning lazily on the banister above, illuminated by the skylight. “You know – the one whose inheritance paid for this house? And therefore, the one who actually hired the staff?”

“Nonsense!” Marge scoffed. “Vernon’s money pays for this house, and mine pays for the household. You work for us, not that useless brat!”

“I’m afraid the law doesn’t support your position, Ms. Dursley,” Alfred said, seeming to take great pleasure in putting the abusive woman in her place. “With Mr. Dursley in prison, the house goes back to its owner – and since the house was purchased with Harry's inheritance from his father, that means that he is now the rightful master of this house and everyone in it. Afterall, you’re a woman. You can’t inherit directly before a man. And since Mr. Dursley is in prison and not dead, Mrs. Dursley can’t take over either.”

Marge faltered a step, looking around frantically. That couldn’t be true…could it?

Dong. Dong.

They all leaned over the banister to listen as the first footman answered the door. A moment later, Petunia appeared on the stairs with Vernon, looking haggard and whispering frantically to each other. Sean and Marie looked extremely annoyed while Alfred looked down at his feet in disappointment.

Marge, on the other hand, beamed proudly. “Well,” she said, standing up straight. “Seems you were a bit premature in your change of loyalty. Marie, Sean, take care of your Master and Mistress while I have a word with the butler.”

Rose glanced worriedly at Alfred before hurrying down the stairs and into the Northwest room, closing the door behind her. She couldn’t help but smile at the bed.

There lay her cousin, just as sweet-looking as the innocent child he’d been five years ago before the zoo incident had shackled him. Only now, he showed the years of abuse and neglect. His skin, which had once been fair, was tanned from work and dirty in places from his strenuous week. His hair was thick and rough. His clothes were uncared for. His shoes were un-mended. Most concerning was the red bandage on his wrist.

Rose took his hand in hers, gently removing the bandage to check on the bite mark.

She gasped in surprise. The bit mark was gone – as was the familiar three-leaf clover birthmark. In its place, spread across the back of his wrist was a scar of dark lines like Indian ink. It branched out like the coral she’d seen in the aquarium of the zoo, edges sharp like the veins of a leaf. It was as if it had been struck by lightning!

Harry gently roused, his long lashes fluttering open, his beautiful green eyes turning to match Rose’s own. “Hey,” he said hoarsely.

“Morning,” Rose smiled. Harry seemed confused as he looked around the room.

“What am I doing back in here?” he asked.

“You fainted yesterday,” Rose revealed. “After the letters came down the light well, we found you unconscious on the floor of the hall. I was so worried about you.”

“I’m okay,” Harry said, sitting up. “I was just tired. I didn’t sleep much the past few nights.”

Rose grinned. “Well, you’ve slept well now. Come on – let’s take care of the rest of you.” He opened his mouth to protest, but she interrupted. “I’m in charge. Let’s go, young man. Into my bath with you.”

Harry's lip twitched as he shook his head and stood up. “Rose, you’ll get into so much trouble.”

“They have enough trouble on their hands. They won’t even notice. Come on – quickly now.” She took his hand and dragged him out of the room and back up the stairs, glancing down as she went because she could hear voices on the floor below. Harry frowned at the sound of them and turned to Rose as soon as they were in the nursery.

“What’s going on?” He asked.

“Never you mind,” Rose said, dragging him into the scullery. “Just some household business. Off with those filthy clothes now. You’ve been wearing them for days and they smell like a dead cat.”

Harry sighed but surrendered to her indominable will. There was no point in arguing with Rose when she was this determined. Trouble or no, he hadn’t been able to wash in days and he wasn’t about to miss a chance for a real bath. However, Harry had only removed his shirt when he found himself staring at his strange new scar.

“It was there when you woke up,” Rose informed him, attempting to brush his knotted hair. “Your birthmark is gone as well.”

“But how?” Harry asked. “It doesn’t make sense. None of this makes any sense.”

“I think your parents are watching over you from heaven,” Rose said spiritually. “I think that they caused these revelations to help you. And I think that you should see them through.”

“What do you mean?” Harry asked, turning to face her.

“The letters – have you read them?”

“Read – Rose, they’re blank.”

“They’re funny, those letters,” Rose said, setting the brush down on the vanity. “When daddy opened them, they were blank. Same for mummy and Marge and Dudley. But when I opened one, it had writing on it. It said, ‘This letter is for the eyes of Henry Potter.’ Of course, I didn’t know who that was until you said so yesterday at lunch, that your dad was James Potter. It’s almost as though the letters know who’s opening them, and they change their message depending on it. Like ma—”

“There you are.”

Rose gasped at Marge sneering in the scullery doorway. She stepped in front of Harry as if to shield him. “It’s my fault,” she announced. “I told the servants to do that. It had nothing to do with Harry.”

“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” Marge asked, pushing Rose out of the way and grabbing Harry by his already bruised forearm. “Do you like relishing in Rose’s suite, pushing the limits of her influence?”

“I’ve been awake less than an hour and you’re already accusing me of doing something?” Harry said tiredly. “What is it now, Marge? Did the sun not rise high enough for you?”

Her hand snapped to his neck, making both Harry and Rose flinch. “That’s Madam Marge to you, boy.” She glanced at Rose before smirking, dropping her hand. “But I suppose, if you want to play family, that can be arranged.”

Harry glared in suspicion. “What are you talking about?”

“Well, you certainly won’t fit any of Dudley’s things – but I’m sure we can find something of Rose’s to fit you just fine since you’re such a shrimp.”

“What!?” Rose scoffed. “Harry's a boy—”

“No one will be able to tell with that girly face of his,” Marge taunted, “and I’m sure at least Piers Polkiss will enjoy seeing just how…flexible…you can be.”

She grabbed him tightly by the back of the neck and forced him into the nursery.

~~~

“Ah, Mrs. Polkiss!” Petunia greeted happily from the drawing room as her guests were shown in. “It’s so wonderful to see you and Piers again.”

“Yes,” Mrs. Polkiss said tightly. “Wonderful. Where is your husband? Does he not deem us worthy of greeting today?”

Petunia smiled tensely, blinking quickly and standing up straighter. “Of course, he’s here. He’s just resting after a long night at work. There was a crisis that he had to deal with.”

“Really?” Mrs. Polkiss asked as Piers joined Dudley by the window. “I thought it was because he’d been at the police station all night. At least, that’s what I heard.”

“Oh, he was there for a time,” Petunia nervously nodded. “He was helping them find a criminal who sabotaged the testing.”

“Oh, is that what it was?” Mrs. Polkiss asked animatedly. “Well, that’s quite noble, isn’t it?”

“Yes, of cour—”

“Nothing like the rumour that he’d been arrested.”

The women looked curtly at each other, both smiling falsely before laughing in a forced way. The forced nature of the conversation became more and more apparent as Dudley’s other friends arrived, and they all wanted to know from him if it was true about his dad.

“It was just a mistake,” Dudley kept telling them. “They cleared it up. It’s fine.”

“Come on, Dud,” Piers insisted. “You can’t actually think that’s true.”

“My dad wouldn’t steal anything,” Dudley sneered at him. “There’s no way.”

“Maybe someone’s setting him up, then,” Piers suggested. “I think it’s interesting.”

“Well, what I think is interesting is my accompaniment tonight,” Dudley said. “Sarah O’Connell is going to finishing school this year and I hear she’s hoping to enjoy her last night with guys.”

“Nice!” Gordon laughed.

“Way to go, Dud,” Malcolm cheered.

“What about you, Piers?” Dennis asked. “You found someone to escort?”

“I thought I’d just enjoy the pickings,” Piers shrugged confidently.

“Are you sure?”

They all looked over at the door to see Marge grinning darkly. “I found you a perfect escort.”

“I’m flattered, Madam Dursley,” Piers smiled, “but I would rather take someone closer to my age than Rose, if you don’t mind.”

“Don’t worry, she is.” She reached behind the door and grabbed the hand of a shy girl that made all five of the guys stand up and grin. A tan skirt with a green and brown striped polonaise reached up to a tiny waist, tied at the back with a wide bow. The white blouse was thin enough to show an illusion of skin on her arms, and the hue of the light green layer underneath. Piers smirked at the green silk choker and matching green pearled snood tying back dark brown hair.

But the girl didn’t look at all happy to be there. In fact, she looked pale and clammy as if about to faint, despite the red streak across her nose and cheeks under familiar green eyes – very familiar eyes.

Piers broke into a wide smile and approached, taking the visitor’s hand and kissing it to no response. “Well, well. I always knew you’d look better in a skirt, Evans.”

Dudley’s smile collapsed and he felt a little sick. “WHAT?”

“Something wrong, Dud—”

Petunia froze and stared before looking up at Marge. “What on earth—”

“Piers needed an escort,” Marge shrugged. “Miss Evans is more than happy to acquiesce. Isn’t that right?”

No response again, because Harry was too busy focusing on his breathing so that he didn’t collapse from the pain and stress on his ribs from the tight-laced corset. He was quite certain that Marge had broken at least two of his ribs, and his lungs were struggling to take air from the top of his chest instead of his diaphragm. The instability to being forced to walk in heeled shoes and the pounding pain of his hair being yanked tightly into the snood made it hard for Harry to focus on what was going on around him.

He didn’t resist when Piers pulled him by the hand across the hall to the Salon. The noise downstairs showed that other guests had started to arrive, leading the ladies to go down to greet them. The Salon had been set up for dancing, but they were the only ones in it for the time being. The boys led Harry to a corner and crowded around him.

“Is that really Evans?” Dennis asked curiously while Malcolm struggled to catch his breath between peals of laughter.

“What a fine little waist, Evans,” Gordon teased, feeling the silk band. Harry flinched and backed away but had nowhere to go.

“Are these real?” Piers asked, reaching toward the padded chest.

“Don’t touch me, pig,” Harry hissed.

They all cooed in amusement. “The kitten has claws,” Piers sniggered.

“Where’s Rose?” Dudley demanded.

“Ask your demented aunt,” Harry returned.

~~~

This is what I had in mind for what Marge put Harry into. This is the "carriage dress" from Vampire Diaries shown in early season 1 during a flashback sequence. This skirt is fuller than what would have been worn in 1880 since it's based on an 1860 design, but according to the images that I can find of girl's dresses, they tended to be fuller and more "princess like" so it's surprisingly not so much of a stretch. I wanted the dress to be as feminine as possible because Marge thinks that dressing a boy in a dress is the highest form of humiliation while Harry really doesn't care. He's more worried about his ribs because the corset is tight-laced. Most women did not wear tight-laced corsets, and as a woman who has worn a corset for a week, I can tell you that a properly fitted corset is extremely comfortable and supportive. You can even do sports like horseback riding and archery in one. Underneath this, Harry is wearing about twice to three times as many layers as a normal girl would in order to create the silhouette and fool people into thinking he's a girl, as well as just to torture him more because Marge is a freak. ~~~

CRASH! Rose panted at the effort that throwing her dollhouse at the door had had, but when she tried the door, she found that it had had no effect at all. “DAMNIT!” she growled, yanking on the handle. “Let me out! Elinor! Alfred! Sean! Marie! SOMEONE!”

Rose turned and looked desperately around her room. She had to get out of there and save Harry soon. There was no way he would make it through whatever torment Marge had put him through. She’d heard him yelping in pain from the day nursery—

Green eyes flickered to the window. There was a small balcony between the night and day nursery, but the window had long been painted shut. Rose searched her vanity for something sharp enough to cut the paint but couldn’t find anything. Out of desperation, she grabbed a silver brush and closed the window curtains before smashing the glass as hard as she could with the back of the heavy brush.

CLITINK! CRUA! CRUA!

She used the curtain to protect her as she exited the window onto the balcony and carefully looked over the edge. Guests were arriving in troves. She turned her brush to the day nursery window, shattering it as well, but louder without the curtain to muffle the sound of the silver on glass.

Rose as a bit clumsy getting into the day nursery but managed it without cutting herself and hurried to the door. “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?” She demanded as she tugged at the locked handle.

Tap. Tap.

The blonde looked over at the window next to the door leading to the staircase. Gasping, she ran over and yanked it open. Sure enough, it was unlocked, allowing her to drop uncoordinatedly onto the top stair.

But there was no one on the other side. Who had tapped on the glass?

“Ahem.” Rose looked up at the landing to find the officer from before who had been kind to Harry smiling at her. “Well – you’re a tenacious one, aren’t you?”

“Who are you?” She demanded, holding her brush as a weapon.

“Ah-ah!” He said, holding up his hands defensively. “No need to swing. I’m no threat.”

“That’s not an answer.”

He smiled. “I’m Harry's fairy godfather come to whisk him away from his evil family to a better life. Care to help me out?”

Rose’s lip twitched upward.

~~~

“Come on,” Piers chuckled. “Just let me lead.”

“Get off me, rat-face,” Harry snapped quietly, pushing Piers’ hand off his waist and putting his own on his aching diaphragm. Colours were starting to blend into each other. It was hard enough to see without his glasses, but this was different. He had a bad taste in his mouth that had a copper tone to it, and he couldn’t seem to keep his vision centred.

“Fine, then let’s go somewhere else, huh?” Piers suggested, getting a chuckle from the other boys.

“Seriously, what are you going to do?” Gordon asked, almost worriedly.

“What do you think, idiot? I’m going to find out what he’s wearing under this. I wish we had a camera.”

“But my escort’s here,” Malcolm complained.

“They all are, except Sarah,” Piers said, glancing around. “Come on, Dud. We’ll be back.”

Harry tried to resist, but he had no strength to put up against Dudley and Piers, who steel-handedly drove him out of the Salon and up the servant staircase to Marge’s suite. It took Harry a minute to register that they were alone, and he tried to push against them, but it just made him dizzier.

“Hey, hey,” Piers said as Harry touched his wrist to his brow. “Don’t pass out now.”

“Hold him,” Dudley said wickedly. Piers leaned against the poster of the bed and pulled Harry flush against him, resting his hands on Harry's hips.

Harry tried to shake his head clear but balked as he felt Dudley’s hand on his ankle. He kicked his cousin away from him, but Piers grabbed his wrists. “None of that, love.”

“I’m not your love!” Harry growled, yanking at his hands.

“Come here,” Piers said, dragging Harry to him by the waist and looking down at him mischievously.

“Get off me!” Harry gasped.

A rush of freezing cold seem to echo through Harry, and his skin felt like it was crawling.

“What the hell?” Piers asked, releasing Harry suddenly.

“What are you doing!?” Dudley asked, stagging back.

Harry didn’t know what he was doing, but he desperately wanted out of those clothes.

PHWIT!

The choker flung off of Harry's neck and latched onto Piers’, making him struggle with it as if it were trying to strangle him. The snood was likewise repelled, latching onto Dudley’s face, causing him to stumble blindly, clawing at it. The polonaise removed itself next, ripping off of Harry's bound torso and capturing Piers’ instead inside-out like an apron.

“WHAT’S HAPPENING!?” Piers panicked, grasping at it.

The rest of the garments followed suit – the skirt attacked Piers, causing him to fall back onto the bed. The lace blouse flew backward onto Dudley, buttoning up his back where it had been in Harry's front. The tiered petticoat made Harry stumble by flinging over his head and onto Piers, nearly trapping the boy’s hands to his sides.

“STOP IT!” Dudley screamed tearily.

But Harry had no control over it. The bustle pad stuck onto Dudley’s waist, flapping onto his pelvis like a loin cloth. The camisole slapped onto Dudley’s chest and pulled it, causing him to fall over. The lace petticoat flipped onto Piers, causing him to struggle as the garment tried to conquer his arms. The force of the princess petticoat unbuttoning itself made Harry turn, and it, too latched to Piers, covering his bizarre inside-out look and keeping him from removing anything, much to his frustration.

“MUMMY!” Dudley whined in fright, crying as he tried to stand. However, the corset finally unlaced itself, freeing Harry and snapping onto Dudley’s oversized stomach. Harry collapsed onto the ground as the corset strangled Dudley’s gut, its laces crawling around him to retie at his back like a spider. He struggled frantically, but it managed to reconnect, and –

ZREAK!

- the laces yanked closed, causing Dudley to gasped shrilly as he was quite suddenly restrained to the point of breathlessness just as Harry had been.

Harry tried to stand, but the shoes made him trip before they clinked off of his feet and walked away, jumping at the bed like dogs trying to reach Piers’ feet. The last item to remove itself was the simple petticoat that slipped off of Harry's legs and onto Dudley’s, immobilizing him on the carpet, gaping like a fish out of water.

Finally, able to breathe but badly bruised from the abuse, Harry panted and yanked off the bust enhancer, tossing it aside and pushing his hair out of his face. The enhancer slinked away like a snake up the bedrail and Piers let out a final yelped as it attached itself to him, leaving Harry in a set of combinations, stockings, and a delicate bodiced petticoat.

A still moment passed as Harry focused on the ground in front of him, only to frown as it became amazingly clearer, as though his glasses were back on. He blinked before standing up with a stumble. The boys were still struggling against their binds, but he was free.

“DIDDYKUMS?” Petunia called downstairs, apparently searching for the guest of honour for the party. Harry tentatively opened the door to the room and peaked out. There was no one on the landing, but Petunia would be there if she kept ascending.

Harry glanced back at Dudley and Piers before slipping out of the room, closing the door and hurrying over to the one to the left leading into the servant stair. He latched the door behind him as quietly as he could before glancing over the banister down.

HWIPHT!

Gasping, Harry startled back from the rail and looked down at himself. Gone were the girl’s clothes. The rich muslin, lace, and silk had been transformed into socks, trousers, a long-sleeve shirt that tied at the side with wide sleeves, fastened comfortably with a cloth belt.

“That’s better, isn’t it?”

Harry turned to the stairs up to find Rose chipperly descending along with the officer who had saved Harry on the ship. The officer was looking strangely at Harry, as though he knew him somehow.

A noise behind drew a glance from Harry. “Your mother’s looking for Dudley and…I made a bit of a mess about him, I’m afraid.”

“Not to worry,” the officer said, passing Harry and opening the door to find Petunia on the landing of the main staircase. “Mrs. Dursley. May we have a word?”

Petunia looked a little startled, but nodded and turned around, leading the way into her bedroom. Harry and Rose exchanged a look before following.

“What’s this about—” Petunia inhaled sharply at the sight of Harry, staring at him intently as if she were confused by his appearance.

“Incredible how clothing and accessories can disguise a person’s appearance, isn’t it?” the officer commented innocently. “Harry almost doesn’t look like himself now that he’s properly attired and no longer hidden by those horrible spectacles. And you didn’t even recognize me.”

All three turned to look at the man. Harry assessed him for the first time. He had brown hair tied back in a plait down his back. His face had soft features, but something about them seemed artificial, as though it were a mask. His brown eyes were tired and old despite his apparent youth.

Slowly, Petunia sat down on the edge of her bed and gaped at the man. “You.”

“I have a name, you know,” the officer said.

“You said you’d be back in ten years,” Petunia said.

It’s him! Harry realized, looking at the man once more in awe. This is the man! This is the man who brought me to the Dursleys ten years ago after my parents died?

The words that he’d heard in his strange dream floated back to him - It has to be with you, the mysterious man had said to Petunia in a dark hallway. He’s only safe with you. You can’t send him off. They’ll find him in an instant.

“Eh, who are you?” Rose asked in confusion.

The man smiled kindly at her before bowing. “Remus Lupin. Pleasure to meet you.”

“Officer Lupin—”

“Actually, I’m not an officer,” he said, removing the jacket. “You can just call me Remus.”

“Wait – you’re not an officer?” Harry asked, frowning.

“No. It was a convenient disguise – as were your glasses. It’s a little remarkable, really – how much you look like your father. But you do have your mother’s eyes.”

Questions exploded in Harry's mind so quickly that he couldn’t voice any of them. He’d wanted to meet this man for as long as he could remember, but now that he was before Harry, he didn’t know what to say.

Rose was not restrained in this way, though. “Are you really Harry's fairy godfather?” she asked. “Is that why you can do magic?”

“What!?” Harry asked.

“Your clothes – he did that with magic,” Rose revealed. Harry looked down at the ensemble and up at the man again. He had done that?

“Magic? Is that how—”

“Enough!” Petunia yelped. “Stop it! Just take him and go!”

“Did you really think it would be that easy?” Remus asked her. “You thought I would just sweep in here after ten years, abduct a teenage boy, and then disappear from your life forever? You thought your sins would never be judged?”

“What sins?” Petunia snapped. “I did what you asked.”

CRACK!

Petunia’s vanity mirror split, making them all jump. “What I asked?” Remus repeated. “What I asked was for you to keep him safe and sound in your home. What I asked was for you to use the money that I gave you and the house that I gave you and the jobs that I gave you and the husband that I gave Marge, and raise him as one of your own. What I asked was for you to love him and protect him. You are delusional if you think that you can claim to have succeeded in that.”

“You can’t make someone love another person,” Petunia argued nervously. “I did my best—”

PING! PYING! CLINK!

Her bottles on her vanity shattered as though shot by a riffle. Remus stepped closer to her, causing her to cower away from him. “Did your best?” he repeated in disgust. “Putting your nephew – your flesh and blood – in a cupboard and letting your sister-in-law abuse him and break his spirit and ribs is your best? I’d hate to see your worst.”

“What are you going to do?” Petunia demanded shakily. “You already falsely arrested my husband – you sent that portrait – you’ve terrorized us. Isn’t that enough!?”

“Terrorized you?” Remus laughed, but it was a very cold laugh. “Those minor pranks? Oh, Petunia, you poor sheltered crone. You haven’t seen anything yet. I had planned to take Harry in May, but when I saw the state that you had raised him in, I couldn’t very well just leave you here like this. I’ve been working for months on my revenge. Did you honestly believe that I would just ignore the state that you returned Harry to me? Are you really that stupid?”

“Rev—what revenge?” Petunia asked, losing her colour.

“Well, I started with Vernon,” Remus revealed, walking over to the window. “Vernon loves his job. It’s very important to him. It’s the centrepiece of his little fantasy of normalcy. So, I took that from him. I took up a position under him and changed his order forms, switching higher quality goods for lower quality, and I put all the money into a separate bank account under his name. I then reported the discrepancy when it was convenient – when it was time for the show to begin. And I was here to see it climax with his arrest. You’ll find that your case for his defence is pointless. I covered my tracks perfectly. He’ll spend the next ten years in prison – to match the time Harry's been mistreated here in your care. And just like Harry, he will suffer long-term damage from this abuse, unable to ever get a proper respectable job again – that is, if he survives the British prison guards.

“Then I moved on to Marge. The husband that I arranged for her died of rabies, so it seemed a fitting brutal death for such a disgustingly brutal woman. I’ve been infecting her dogs with a symptomless version of the disease for over two months. And half an hour ago, she was informed that there was a problem at the kennel and went off to face it. Instead, she’ll face an entire unsecured kennel of infected dogs, desperate for a bite of her to seal her fate.”

“NO!” Petunia said, horrified. “You’ll kill her!”

“No,” Remus said, facing her again. “I’ll let her die. There’s no cure for rabies in humans, after all. I’m sure that by now, she’s already infected, languishing in hospital from the bites and cuts, with no idea of what’s to come for her. You remember how her husband died – slowly, painfully, losing control of his body, then his mind, until he became a ravenous beast himself who had to be put down.”

“NO! You have to save her!” Petunia insisted, crying and clutching his shirt.

“Why? She never saved Harry. She broke his ribs today – and for what? Because he rightfully owns the house? Because she’s jealous? She’s torn down all of his confidence, all of his will, tried to subordinate him and abused him the most. She deserves death.”

“You’re not allowed!” Petunia desperately claimed, sobbing. “Your people—”

“Oh, Petunia,” Remus said, kneeling in front of her, “who do you think helped me infect the dogs and is clearing them right now? Who do you think made sure that she was found quickly enough to suffer? I’m not acting against my laws – I’m aided by them, because her actions against Harry are worthy of execution, and this fate keeps such a death from drawing attention to people like me.”

“Why!?” Petunia gasped. “Why death!? Can’t you just—”

“You don’t know,” Remus realized. “You didn’t see Harry before Piers and Dudley removed him from the room, did you?”

“I—”

“Ah, you did. Tell me, Petunia, how do you think she got Harry into those clothes? Do you really think that she just told him to wear them, and he did? She threatened Rose and then she forced them onto him. Use your head. Forcing clothes – undergarments – onto a teenage boy?”

Harry closed his eyes and looked away from them as Rose tightened her grip on his hand and arm in silent moral support. Petunia looked ill now, covering her mouth in disgust.

“Which leads me to your son, who has followed her example, and tried to then remove those clothes from him. Luckily for us both, though, Harry reacted brilliantly.”

But Harry gasped in realization and hurried from the room across the hall to Marge’s bedroom again. Both Piers and Dudley were unconscious. Harry checked Piers’ pulse while Petunia rushed to Dudley.

“They’re fine,” Remus said. Harry looked to him, only to find that he’d mysteriously – magically? – changed his appearance. His hair was now down with bangs framing his temple. His officer’s uniform had been exchanged for a maple-brown silk robe with wide sleeves and a mahogany sash. He seemed very composed and sagely now. “They’re just unconscious. And Dudley has four broken ribs.”

Petunia sobbed, hugging her oversized son to her chest and trying vainly to remove to garments. “Help me!” She appealed.

“I’m afraid this is out of my expertise, but someone will be along shortly to handle this little accident. I would be more worried about his future if I were you.”

“Why?” Petunia demanded, sniffling miserably.

“Because he’s spoiled,” Remus said, crossing his arms, the long robe sleeves smoothly layering to show a maple-leaf design on their breadth. “He won’t handle poverty well.”

“WHAT!?” Petunia cried. “What are you—”

“Vernon’s going to prison. Marge is going to die. Where do you think the money is going to come from, Petunia?” She froze and slowly looked up at him. “Especially when I take the house and sell it with everything in it, and your bank accounts – to recoup the money that I gave you to raise Harry with that you instead spoiled your own children with?” Her lips shook and her eyes widened frighteningly. “With Vernon in prison for such an untrustworthy crime, and what with all of this coinciding with Dudley’s debut at this party…well…you’re a smart woman, Petunia. I’m sure you can figure out what the social reaction will be – which brings me to your punishment.”

Harry stared at Remus in awe. It really was the perfect revenge – each of the Dursleys had lost the thing that they valued most and were left right back where they’d been when Harry had arrived or worse. But Harry had just one question about this perfect revenge plan.

“What about Rose?” he asked.

“Rose was your friend through all of this,” Remus smiled. “She was your confidant and protector when she could be. She opened her heart to you – unlike the rest of the Dursleys – and treated you as her cousin and family. Such kindness deserves reward, not punishment. Fortunately for us, her reward is easily apparent and attainable, and it contributes to her mother’s sorrow. She’s coming with us.”

“Why?” Petunia whispered.

Remus faced her fully and smiled. “Rose was born just like you – ordinary with no special powers. However, her kindness to Harry and her love for him created a bridge between the two of them. You were all supposed to take part in that bridge, and the love between you would act as a conduit for Lily’s magic. You see, when Lily died, she knew that she couldn’t save her son. But she tried. She gifted all of her magic to him to try to give him the strength to survive. But Harry didn’t need such an inheritance. When I brought Harry to you, I told you that you were the only one who could protect him. That’s because of that magic – it was to flow to you from Harry through that bridge of love, or rather, it would overflow into you all, protecting you and giving you good fortune. You would have all had good lives and all of your dreams would have come true like you’d always wanted.

“However, your own bigotry and fear of Harry and his magic cut you off from that bridge, and your cruelty and disregard for him went the other direction. You all grew ugly inside and out because of your rejection of Harry, which led to a vicious cycle. All you had to do was open up to him and let him in your heart and you would have had the perfect life.

“Rose was the only one who opened up to him, and so was the only recipient of Lily’s magic through her connection to Harry. She was the heir of that overflow. Normally, if she’d been an adult, that would have resulted in simply good fortune, perhaps some minor magical ability such as seeing ghosts. But instead, because she was a baby when the transfer began, and because of Harry's own generosity and open heart, she has enough magic to be magical herself, just like Lily was. She is in every respect Lily’s heir – all because she loved Harry like I asked you to.”

“I….” Rose said. “I have magic?”

“You do,” Remus nodded. “I first felt it when you released the Boa Constrictor at the Belfast Zoo five years ago.”

“I – I did that!?” Rose stammered.

“Indeed. You saw Dudley bullying Harry and you reacted to save him. You did the same thing when you inflated your Aunt Marge the other day. She was hurting Harry, so you saved him. You are a good witch.”

“AHHHHHHHHHH!” Petunia screamed.

Harry and Rose jumped away in fright and Remus looked at her in surprise. She was completely distraught, tears pouring from her eyes onto her son’s unconscious form. She screamed again in a sound that echoed with so much pain, it was surely heard throughout the house.

“We have to go,” Remus said, urging the children out of the room.

They could hear people climbing the stairs, but Remus urged them to continue up and into Rose’s nursery. From there, he opened the corner window into the light well and looked down carefully before waving a hand at the rooftop. A ladder appeared out of thin air, and he led them down it all the way to the bottom.

Another wave of his hand opened Alfred’s bedroom window, and they snuck through his room to the servant passage while the servants gazed up the staircase in wonder. They took the back stairs into the stables, and Harry was surprised to find Sean and Marie there waiting.

“Harry!” Sean greeted happily, embracing the teen, who flinched in pain. “Sorry! Sorry!”

“It’s okay. I’m glad you’re alright, too,” Harry nodded.

“Is my carriage still ready?” Remus asked.

“Yes, sir.”

“Then let’s go before someone comes looking for us all.”

Rose smiled at the servants. “You’re coming with us?”

“Aye,” Marie nodded. “Come on, this way.”

They slipped out the back into the alley where a hansom carriage was waiting along with a saddled horse. Harry and Rose were ushered into the cab while Marie and Sean shared the driver’s seat and Remus mounted up. They pulled out of the alley quickly and passed around in front of the house for one last look.

Harry stared up at the brick terrace, wondering vaguely if he would ever see if again, and if he ever wanted to. Rose looked hesitantly at it for a moment before tightly gripping Harry's hand and settling back in the seat with him.

“I’m sorry,” he said gently as they turned the corner.

Rose sighed. “I never felt at home with them,” she admitted. “I hated Marge for what she did to you, and never cared about Dudley. And I think that my feelings for mum and dad had more to do with how they treated me than who they were. They were nice to me. But nice isn’t love.” She took a deep breath. “I wonder if they were even capable of love. I know one thing for sure, though. I always cared more for you than I ever did for them. You’re my real family now, Harry.”

Harry felt tears well up, but suppressed them, smiling wetly at her and returning her grip while biting the inside of his lip. She smiled at him kindly and laid her head on his shoulder as the carriage rode away into the sunset.  

~~~

This is my version of Sirius' motorcycle - 19th century style. It's called a "hansom cab" and was often used as a taxi for gentlemen in the city. Remus wasn't expecting to take Sean and Marie with him, or he would have brought a bigger carriage.
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