Note: this idea just jumped out at me when I was trying to figure out a time travel gimmick that hadn't been done before. No omniscient traveler, sorry. I don't know if the story will go on, but the first chapter was fun enough to share, and I have some ideas for where to go next. :)

July 31, 1999

"Okay, we need to figure out who, and what."

"Let's make a list. Who first?"

"Can't be me, can't be you. The cui bono paradox would kick in. Best if it's someone dead."

"Can't it be me, if you send it?"

"Nope. Interconnectedness. We're too entangled, cui bono still applies."

"Bother. Okay. What about Padfoot?"

"Too risky."

"But won't we know if it works?"

"Define works. If we send something to Padfoot and it butterflies, that doesn't mean it worked, but it still means that we aren't here to know that it didn't work."

"Shit, so we're just shooting blind?"

"Pretty much. We need something that is either going to fizzle completely or butterfly like fuck."

"Okay. Who. Fred? Tonks?"

"Your brothers? Can't count on them to take it seriously. Percy would stick his head in the sand. Tonks isn't bad, but what could she do?"

"Dumbledore?"

"Too sure of himself. He won't listen, or he'll listen and adjust his plans a little, but he never understood entanglement. Never understood that the group is what thinks. Always wanted to believe his thoughts were his own."

"Too bad 'Dromeda's not dead..."

"Ginny Potter! For shame!" Hermione grinned.

"Oh please. A little graveyard humor seems appropriate, don't you think?"

"Indeed. But we need to get serious. I don't know how long the air supply will last, and the ritual takes an hour. And if it really fizzles, we'll need to do more than one."

"Right. What about Amelia?"

"Same problem as Tonks. I don't know what she'd do."

"McGonagall?"

"Dumbledore would talk her out of any hunch she couldn't explain. She let him ditch Harry with the Dursleys."

"Not Snape, too much of an asshole to see what's in front of his face."

"Maybe we're going about this the wrong way. We need a message that's going to get someone emotionally charged up enough to do something, and we have at best a sentence we can send. Who's free at the right time and pissed off enough to actually take action?"

"I dunno. Lupin, maybe?"

"Okay, let's game that out. What could we tell Lupin to get him to intervene before things go completely to shit?"

They both thought for a moment. Ginny's eyes brightened. "How about 'Dumbledore left Harry with Petunia?'"

Hermione thought for a minute. "On the one hand, his self-hatred would be tough to overcome. On the other, if he believed it, he'd definitely act. He knew Petunia. He probably knew what was in the will. Okay, that's a good one. We might be able to cram a bit more in. What should we add?"

"Did he know where Petunia lived when Harry was there?"

"I don't know. The address is too much. Petunia Dursley. That would be enough, I think. It's an unusual name."

"OK. Left or abandoned?"

"Ooh, abandoned, definitely."

"Okay. Should we try it, or keep brainstorming?"

"Tick tock. Better try it."

"Okay. Got any parchment?"

"Do I look like I have any parchment?"

"What's parchment made of?"

"Sheepskin."

"Well, we have skin, anyway."

"Fuck. Okay. Let's do this. How are you at episkey?"

"Good, actually. Lots of practice, you know."

"OK. Diffindo! FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK"

"Episkey!"

"Wow. Thanks. Let's try to get this right the first time. Whoops, don't vanish the blood! We need something to write with."

"Where's Umbridge when we need her?"

"Tosh."

"Okay. Dumbledore abandoned Harry with Petunia Dursley. Got it."

"Good. Let's get started."

Hermione and Ginny began the ritual, with the "parchment" in the center of the ritual circle. Hermione meticulously carved the runes around the circle while Ginny recited. After what seemed like a very long time, the two young women ceased their activities. Looking Ginny in the eyes, Hermione nodded.

"ecce, tempus mutatum est"

A brilliant flash of light, then nothing.

July 31, 1987

The house wasn't much to look at. Well kept, pretty much identical to the other houses in the neighborhood. Lupin had walked the neighborhood, canvassing for anything out of the ordinary. There seemed to be some magic in a house on Wisteria Walk; Lupin's notice-me-not appeared to have held there, and now a new ward line around that house would warn him if anybody came outside to follow him. No-one did.

The wards around Number 4 Privet Drive, however, were quite different. No chance of entry. So this confirmed his hunch. There was no chance that Petunia Evans' house would be warded like this. This was Dumbledore-level warding. If Lily had left wards, they'd be down by now.

Lupin had come in the early morning hours, so as to get in a good day's surveillance. The thirty first of July. Harry's seventh birthday. A good time to see what was going on, to see whether his hunch was anything worth worrying about, or whether Dumbledore knew what he was doing.

If not for the wards, he would have been able to go up and knock on the door, and wish Harry a happy birthday. But clearly this was not an option. Still, a birthday card should reveal all. Lupin settled patiently to watch.

"Boy! Get the post!"

"Yes, Uncle Vernon!" Harry went to the front door and picked up the letters that had just dropped through the slot. His eyes bulged. "Harry J. Potter, 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, TW18 1AP" A letter! For him! How?

"Hand it over, boy. I've not got all day."

Harry handed Vernon the rest of the letters, still staring agog at his own letter.

"All of it!"

Harry looked up at Vernon. "This one's mine! It's from R. J. Lupin."

"No it's not. Hand it over."

"Will not!"

Vernon didn't see the point in arguing—he just reached out and took the letter from Harry's hand.

"GIVE IT BACK!" Harry grabbed the letter in Vernon's hand and started tugging. The envelope tore in half, and a festive card fell to the ground. "Happy Seventh Birthday, Harry!" with a cake and six candles.

"I have a birthday?!" Harry asked.

"FREAKS DON'T GET BIRTHDAYS GET IN THE CUPBOARD!"

Harry grabbed the card and fled, diving into the cupboard and pulling the door shut behind him. Vernon gave it up as a bad job and locked the door behind him. Deal with it later, he would, after work.

"Freaks?" thought Lupin.

Just then Vernon Dursley walked out the front door, briefcase in hand, and got into his very proper little brown Cortina. Starting the car, he backed out of the driveway and began his drive to work. As soon as the car crossed the ward line, there was a pop.

"Hello, Vernon," said a brown-haired man in rather shabby robes who was for some reason sitting to Vernon's left in the passenger seat.

"AAAH!" said Vernon. He swerved wildly, knocking over a rubbish bin before recovering.

"We need to talk."

"AAAH!"

"Are you feeling unwell? I can offer you a calming draught if you would like."

"AAAH!"

"Mind the stop sign!"

Vernon looked up in time to see that he was about to enter an intersection without stopping, which would no doubt attract attention, if knocking over the rubbish bin (which he only vaguely remembered doing) hadn't already.

"Get out of my car."

"I don't think so. We need to have a conversation. About 'freaks.' And birthdays."

"It was you who sent the letter?"

"I needed to know if you and Petunia were handling your new charge properly or not. He's rather dear to me. I would take it unkindly if he were mistreated IN ANY WAY AT ALL." The man didn't have to raise his voice much at all to make it clear how very much he was not fucking about.

"We're barely making ends meet. The boy is eating us out of house and home."

"And you don't receive a stipend from the family?"

Vernon looked about shiftily and said nothing.

"It would be unfortunate if the stipend came to an end, wouldn't it?"

"We'd chuck him on the street in a heartbeat."

"Works for me. Shall I ask the goblins to stop it then?"

Vernon looked alarmed, and then a bit constipated, as if the math he was apparently doing in his head was affecting his digestion. "That won't be necessary," he conceded.

"Very well. Here is how it will go. Harry will no longer be sleeping in a cupboard."

Vernon blanched. "How...?"

"I am a werewolf, Mr. Dursley. I have extremely good hearing."

Lupin wouldn't have thought it possible for Vernon to become still paler, yet somehow he did.

"Please don't kill us."

"I have no intention of killing you. Are you familiar with the concept of a preceptor?"

"I think the vicar might have said something about it a few months back. Not sure."

"The idea is this. You agree to a certain set of rules that you will follow. For the vicar, this would be the ten commandments, and the catechism. Your vicar is then your preceptor, the person you speak to when you are having trouble following the rules, and who you know is paying attention: who will notice if you don't follow the rules."

"That sounds familiar."

"From now on, I am your preceptor. Your rules are these. Harry will be treated respectfully. I do not ask you to love him, but you will no longer call him 'freak' or 'boy.' Harry will do no more chores than your own son, and no harder chores. Every day when I am available, you will send Harry out to me, or else to school. I will not be available on the day before or after the full moon. You do not want me to come visit you on those days, do you understand?"

"Y-yes."

"This is for your protection and Harry's protection, but trust me, you are a tastier morsel than Harry, and the werewolf will be happy to protect a member of the pack."

"O-okay. You don't need to threaten me."

"I wish that were so. Still, I wish you to understand that I mean you no harm. I am greatly displeased by what I overheard this morning, and I will take action if I am required to do so, but I have no wish to interfere in your life or that of your family. My sole interest here is in protecting Harry. Do we understand each other?"

"We do."

"Very well. When you get to work, call Petunia and instruct her to bring Harry out to meet me. We can meet at that cafe over there." Lupin pointed to a small cafe. "Do you know it?"

"Yes. I can do that."

"Tea will be my treat. I look forward to it. You can let me off here."

When Harry, Dudley and Petunia walked up to the cafe, Lupin was sitting at a table outside, drinking a steaming cup of tea and enjoying a scone with clotted cream. "Take a load off, Petunia!"

Petunia frowned, but sat down, putting herself between Lupin and Dudley, letting Harry sit opposite to form the other barrier. "Vernon is in a bit of a froth, Remus. What is going on here? Is Dumbledore not happy with the arrangement anymore?"

"Dumbledore is our mutual enemy, Petunia. He lied to me. He assured me that Harry was safe and well-cared for. I believed him, until one day I realized that he'd given me far too little information. 'With family,' he said. 'In a loving home,' he said. I assumed that he meant 'Dromeda. Who else could it be? Not Alice and Frank. Not the traitor. Bones was on the list, but she's not family.

"And then I had a terrible thought. You're family. None closer. Could he have meant you? I assumed I was just imagining trouble, but the thought wouldn't leave me. Finally I decided to check. Imagine my surprise when I decided to go have a little visit with 'Dromeda, only to discover that she's one sprog short. What other family could it be? Surely not Narcissa.

"You were hard to track down. I don't know when I heard Vernon's name, but I must have. Petunia Dursley. Not many of those in the UK. It still wasn't easy tracking you down, but you hadn't gone that far from Cokeworth, and the marriage announcement told me what I needed to know.

"But surely, I thought, Dumbledore wouldn't have outright lied to me, would he? If he said Harry was with a loving family, perhaps you'd matured. Perhaps you'd become a better person. Perhaps Lily's loss had woken you up, I imagined.

"So I devised a test. Send Harry a card, on his birthday. If he were in a loving family, the card would not be remarked upon. There would no doubt be a party, with cake, perhaps a few friends. And then I could fade back into obscurity, leaving Harry protected, safe, and loved.

"Unfortunately, Petunia, you failed the test. You failed your nephew. You failed your sister. And that is what we are here to discuss."

"Who's Dummledorp?" interjected Harry.

"That's a long story, Harry. Your parents and I were close friends. I knew you when you were a child. You were born into a war, of sorts. Your parents fought in the war, as did I. Dumbledore was our leader, the 'Leader of the Light.' I considered him a friend and a mentor."

"What's a mentor?"

"Someone who teaches you, whose advice you rely on, who looks out for you."

"So like a kung fu master?"

"Well, sure, if you want to be a samurai! Do you want to be a samurai?"

"Yeah!" Harry grinned enthusiastically.

Lupin grinned back, his face relaxing. "I guess we'll have to find you a kung fu master, then."

"Do you know kung fu?"

"No. I could learn, I suppose. Are you looking for a mentor?"

"Maybe?" Harry looked uncertain.

"I don't want you around him," said Petunia. Harry frowned in rebellion.

"Why ever not, Petunia?" asked Lupin.

"Dumbledore promised that there would be no freakishness, that we would be left alone."

"I hope you realize that at this moment what Dumbledore wants could not be of less importance to me."

"I am getting that sense. But I think if I alerted Dumbledore to your presence, he would force you to leave."

"Let me be clear, Petunia. You are presently protected by wards that prevent me from entering your house, or even your property. Dumbledore installed these wards. They are a powerful magic that relies on two things: the familial bond between you and Harry, and the presence of a house in which the family resides.

"There are a number of ways that I could take down the wards if I should need to. I know that you have not raised a hand to Harry, because if you had, the wards would have fallen immediately. They will not tolerate physical harm. They do seem to tolerate verbal abuse, and they also seem to tolerate you starving him and working him like a dog.

"So in a sense, these wards protect you as you abuse my friends' dear son. When I say we have a mutual enemy, I am serious. If you were to call in Dumbledore's help, he would discover why I am here. That would go poorly for you. You do not want that kind of attention from Dumbledore.

"Of course, Dumbledore will not harm you, and he will ask me to leave. He might even try to force me away. But unlike Dumbledore, I am no stranger to the muggle world. There is no shortage of ways that I can arrange for there to no longer be a house inside the wards. If you call on Dumbledore, I will rescue Harry from you, even if I have to burn your house down around your ears."

Petunia looked around, expecting people at neighboring tables to be alarmed by Lupin's declaration, but nobody was paying attention.

"A lovely charm, muffliato. No-one is going to come to your rescue, Petunia. But I am not threatening you because I wish you ill. I do not. I understand your antipathy for the magical world."

"Magical?" asked Harry weakly.

"One moment, Harry, let me finish. I understand your antipathy for the magical world, Petunia. You lost your parents (your grandparents, Harry) to the war. How could you not hate us? Dumbledore was a fool to ask this of you when he could have asked Andromeda instead. She would gladly have helped. This is what I mean when I say that we have a mutual enemy.

"What I want is not for us to work against each other, but rather to help you, to lighten your load. If you entrust Harry to me (assuming he is willing), during the day, when I am able, I will teach him what he needs to know so that he won't be a danger to you. I will give him the love that you aren't able to give him. All I ask is that you allow this, and that you do your best to be cordial. Harry must spend each night under your roof. He need not spend each day. If you work with me, your life will be better, and Harry's life will be better as well. Can you accept Harry's improved lot, or must you cut off the nose to spite the face?"

Harry was looking a bit agitated at this point, but waited for Petunia to respond. Petunia, in turn, grew more and more tense as Lupin spoke, but did not respond immediately. Instead she looked at Lupin, searching his face for deception. Finally, she relaxed. "Very well, I can live with that."

Lupin turned to Harry. "How does this arrangement sound to you, Harry? Would you be willing to try me out as a mentor for a while?"

Harry grinned. "You have to teach me kung fu!"

"That sounds like a fair deal."

Dudley, who had been busying himself with scones and clotted cream, and made quite a dent in the plate of them, looked up and said "what about me? do I get a mentor?"

Petunia frowned. "Dudley, you have your father."

"But I want to learn kung fu."

Before Petunia could respond, Lupin spoke up. "I propose a compromise. There is a kung fu studio in town, just off the High Street. If you will bring Dudley there, I will pay the cost. I do not think Dudley would really appreciate my tutelage, but this way he's not missing out."

"That sounds good. Dudley, if you're going to learn kung fu, you have to really work at it, okay?"

"Okay, mum." Dudley still seemed a bit resentful, but did not press the point.

July 31, 1991

"Dudley, get the mail," Vernon intoned, hearing the flop of letters falling to the floor through the mail slot.

"Make Harry do it! I'm in the middle of a level!"

"Harry, do you mind?"

Harry was practicing an occlumency meditation in his bedroom, but in the interest of peace he got up and went to get the mail. On top of the mail was a letter addressed to "Harry Potter, Bedroom at the top of the Stairs, Number Four Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey, England." Harry tossed the letter surreptitiously behind the sitting room couch before handing the rest of the pile to Vernon to sort. "My second letter," he thought. "Very auspicious."

Once breakfast was done, the Dursleys went off to visit Aunt Marge, as had become their tradition on Harry's birthday. Harry fished the letter out from under the couch and opened it eagerly. Hogwarts! Finally! Harry packed his day bag, stuffed the letter inside, and went off to visit Remus in his house on Magnolia Crescent.

"Big day, Harry! Did the letter come?"

"Got it right here!"

"Excellent. We have a busy day ahead of us. It's time for you to make your debut."

"Oy. Not looking forward to this."

"It's for the Greater Good!"

Harry rolled his eyes. Dumbledore's catchphrase had become Harry and Remus' private codeword for "something that must be done, but that we are not going to enjoy doing."

"Remember, polite but firm. Look people in the eye, take their hand, thank them, listen to them, try to remember their names. Be modest, DO NOT correct them when they thank you for killing Voldemort. Ask them about themselves."

"Genuine engagement, not palliative engagement. Got it."

"You've got this Harry. Ready?"

"As I'll ever be."

Remus tossed some powder in the floo and intoned "Leaky Cauldron." Taking Harry's hand, they both stepped through.