Chapter 30

Wolfman

Harry waited nervously in the salon. Emily had called to ask him what he wanted to do, and — reluctantly — he told her to escort Remus in. He was in no way prepared for this encounter, though.

Both Sirius and Minister Bones had tried to find Remus while they were in Britain, but had come up empty. Harry simply wrote it off as bad timing, and planned to look the man up the next time they were there. He didn't want to exclude the man from his life, but…

…well, the air needed clearing.

Madam Bones' assertion that he might have been tampered with by Dumbledore certainly had merit. That didn't make it hurt any less though. As far as Harry knew, Remus was the only one of his parents' friends who could have helped him when he was stuck with the Dursleys.

And he hadn't.

Ginny wandered into the room next and quickly settled in next to him, her hand coming to the nape of his neck. He was thankful for the comfort. It was yet another time when he wondered what he would ever have done without her.

"Relax, love," she said softly. "Whatever happens, it will be fine in the end."

"As long as he didn't tell anyone that he found us," frowned Harry.

Unable to counter that argument, Ginny just sent a burst of love and comfort over the bond they shared. It was probably the most effective thing she could have done for him just then. Even that, though, could not quell his nerves.

And finally, his time was up.

Harry rose as the door opened, and he wasn't surprised when Remus came in first. Like Harry, Emily hated having people at her back. Remus stepped a few paces in, and smiled what seemed a genuine smile upon seeing Harry. Emily slipped in behind him and closed the door, taking up a spot of wall next to it.

The two men stared at each other for a long moment, neither seeming to want to make the first move.

"This is a bit of a surprise, Remus," said Ginny quietly, taking the matter out of their hands. "How did you find us? And for that matter, why were you even looking when everyone thinks Harry is dead?"

Remus chuckled and waved a hand at a nearby chair. "May I?" he requested.

"Feel free," she nodded, her voice still strictly neutral.

Harry and Ginny both sat back down, even as Remus made himself comfortable. He was remarkably calm all things considered. That seemed unfair somehow, but Harry put it aside.

Emily stayed by the door, but didn't leave the room.

Remus finally shrugged. "It was too neat," he began. "We all know that Skeeter is never honest, and the fact that the Ministry never confirmed your death told me they didn't have the evidence to prove it."

He sat back then, and smiled a little. "That meant that you might have run, which I really couldn't blame you for given the life you were leading. And then I asked myself, where would he go where he could stay hidden for so long? There was really only one obvious answer to that question."

Shaking his head in amusement, he continued, "It took me more than a year to save enough money, and then I came to America. The government, of course, would confirm or deny nothing, which told me they might actually know something.

"I've been here for about six months now, moving from place to place. Two months ago I realized that you hadn't finished school, and that you might be attending somewhere. So I started calling schools and doing a bit of social engineering."

Ginny frowned. "Social engineering?" she wondered.

"Basically," explained Remus, "making people think they had a good reason to give me the information I wanted."

"Which was whether or not I was enrolled there," realized Harry.

"Exactly," nodded Remus. "That you would use your real name seemed like a long shot, but I had to try. And that eventually led me to the Academy here, and through them to your address. Of course, there was no boat here, so I asked the manager, and he said you were supposed to be back soon. I came back today, and lucky me, here you are."

"That… is kinda scary," frowned Ginny.

"I doubt anyone else in England could have managed it," he shrugged, "but I'm not normal as you're well aware. I've had a lot of odd jobs over the years, and one of my favorites was as a private investigator. I learned how to do this sort of thing a long time ago."

Harry nodded; it made some sense at least. And he could no longer say that Remus hadn't made any effort, when clearly he had. Not that it erased the past, but it certainly made him more willing to listen, and to give Remus the benefit of the doubt.

Of course, that didn't mean he would make it easy.

"And now that you've found us?" he asked quietly.

Remus turned completely serious in the face of the question, all trace of levity vanishing in a blink. "My main purpose is to make sure that you're okay," he said seriously. "From what I can see so far, you clearly are. Beyond that? That's up to you, Harry. I want to be part of your life if you'll have me, and being in America is certainly no hardship anyway."

Harry wasn't planning on turning him down, but he was finding it hard to find the words to say what he was thinking. Of course, mostly that was because he wasn't sure what he was thinking. He still had concerns.

Which Ginny, of course, realized.

"Before he can really answer that," she said quietly, "I think we need to know something else."

Remus' eyebrows went up. "Okay," he nodded.

"Where were you when he was stuck in hell at the Dursleys?" she asked softly, not sugar-coating it. "You're the only one who could have helped him to the best of our knowledge, and you never did."

Remus sighed heavily. "I've been asking myself that question for more than a decade now," he said. "I was truly dedicated to your parents, Harry, and I would never have abandoned you willingly. It's not a part of me."

He put his head in his hands for a moment, and Harry could easily see that the subject was more than just touchy for him.

"For the longest time I asked myself that," he said into his hands. "I can remember wanting to go see you more than once, and then deciding not to for reasons I can't even remember. I started questioning what kind of person I was. Was I the good person I always tried to be, or was I somehow lying to myself? I swore to look after you if anything happened, and yet I was totally unable to keep that promise."

When he finally looked up, there was anger in his eyes. "And then Albus' trial happened, and I asked myself: if he could throw Sirius in Azkaban for ten years just to keep him away from you, wouldn't he keep me away as well?"

He shook his head again. "I don't think we'll ever know the truth unless someone questions him again," he sighed, "but I honestly believe he interfered. It would explain why I can't remember even a single reason, good or bad, that I had for not checking on you. It just… didn't happen. And that's not like me."

Harry slowly nodded. In the back of his mind, he felt Ginny's agreement with his own position: it was probably true. Any presence by his parents' old friends would have seen him removed from the Dursleys, or at least made Dumbledore have to work harder.

It was a risk Dumbledore wouldn't have been willing to take.

"I think you're probably right," sighed Harry.

"I agree," nodded Ginny.

Emily finally unstuck herself from the wall and cautiously sidled over. She settled down quietly next to him, and he smiled faintly at her. If he was reading things rightly, she had been waiting to see if they were going to accept him, and preparing to watch their backs if they didn't.

As incongruous as it was, she was exceptional in Self Defense as they called it here. And she was surprisingly protective of them.

Once she was settled, Harry decided it was time to make his decision. And there was really only one possible answer. And one of these days, he would hopefully have the chance to piss on Dumbledore's grave.

"Are you planning on going back to England?" he asked first.

But Remus just shrugged. "Depends on you," he said honestly. "And I might just stay in America regardless. The laws regarding werewolves are much better here. We have to be safe of course, which you know I try hard to be careful about, but other than that we're just people. I can probably even hold a long-term job here because I won't have to hide what I am."

Emily blinked at his admission of being a werewolf, but otherwise didn't react at all. Werewolves really were treated better in America. She was probably just surprised that he was one.

"Having spent a couple of years here," said Ginny, "we can tell you that you should definitely stay. We know Sirius and Amelia are trying to fix things, but it's still far saner here."

Remus chortled. "Saner than Magical Britain is not a very high bar, Ginny," he noted.

Harry smiled a little at that, and then sighed. "We're not going to turn you away, Remus, but you can't tell anyone I'm alive. My life is over if the public finds out."

"That's your call," said Remus seriously. "I have no reason to tell anyone anything. Though you should talk to Sirius. He's extremely worried."

"Already done," reported Ginny. "Had you waited a while longer before coming here you would have met with us over the summer. We took a cruise up there so I could reunite with my family, and Harry reconnected with Sirius as well."

Remus laughed. "Go figure!" he breathed. "Oh well, still totally worth it."

Harry nodded. "If you're going to be around, though, there's something you need to understand," he said seriously. And then he revised it, "A few things, actually."

"Go on," nodded Remus.

"First, Ginny and I are adults in this country," he said seriously. "Age doesn't matter. We're in control of our own lives, and anyone trying to take that control away from us will never know what hit them, assuming they even survive the attempt. I will never live under someone else's thumb, ever again."

Remus slowly nodded. "I would only interfere with you if I thought you were going to hurt yourself or someone else anyway," he said with clear honesty. "So no worries there."

"Second," said Harry, "I'm a married man. Ginny is my wife. If you can't deal with that, tell us now."

Remus blinked hard. "You two got married?" he breathed.

"It's not that simple," said Ginny. "We'll tell you about it later, but the important thing for now is that we're married and we're happy. It's not negotiable."

Remus shook his head as though to clear it. "That's fine, it's just surprising," he said a little blankly.

"Third," continued Harry, indicating the girl next to him. "This is Emily Park. She's family. We're also her legal guardians until she turns eighteen, but that's just a technicality. She's important to us, and we take a very dim view of anyone messing with her in any way, shape, or form."

Emily blushed prettily at his honest statement. The look she shot him was one full of suppressed emotion, but mostly she was just plain grateful. Harry simply smiled back.

"It's nice to meet you, Emily," smiled Remus.

Emily just bobbed her head and maintained her trademark silence — though Harry suspected she would warm up to Remus faster than most. He just had something about him that made people trust him.

"That's really about it, I think," he said, looking to Ginny.

Ginny nodded. "Do you have a place to stay?"

"I'm staying in a hotel right now," he shrugged.

Harry felt her query him, and he immediately replied with agreement. As much as they could talk in their heads, emotions were often communication enough.

"We can give you a cabin here on the Artist until you figure out what you're doing and get on your feet," Ginny offered. "No sense in wasting any more money on hotels."

"You would do that?" asked Remus in honest surprise.

"Of course," nodded Harry. "We may have had issues thanks to Dumbledore, but you're still family. And depending on what you want and what decisions we make, we may even have a job for you after we graduate."

Remus blinked again. "What kind of job?" he wondered.

"We're thinking of starting a small charter business," shrugged Ginny. "Not with the Escape Artist of course, this boat is too expensive to run to be profitable, not to mention it's our home, but we're thinking of getting a smaller one for the business."

Emily shot an interested look at both of them, and Ginny caught it instantly. "You don't even have to ask, Emmie," she grinned. "You want a job, you've got one. We'll figure it out later if we do this."

Emily bobbed her head happily; she looked thrilled and satisfied.

"I would think you would want a bigger boat, not a smaller one," frowned Remus thoughtfully.

"We're not thinking of long-range stuff," explained Harry. "Probably trips to Catalina, San Diego, the San Francisco Bay, that sort of thing. This thing costs a few hundred dollars an hour in fuel alone to run, but smaller boats don't cost nearly that much."

The werewolf's eyes widened. "A few hundred an hour?" he breathed.

"It's a big boat," grinned Ginny. "And it's pretty fast for its size, too."

Remus shook his head in wonder. "Well, I'll take you up on the room for now at least," he said thoughtfully, "but we'll revisit it in a month or so and see if you're still okay with it. As newlyweds, I would think that having me around would cramp your style a bit."

Emily snorted. "N-newlyweds?" she grinned.

Remus blinked.

"We've been married for more than two years now, Remus," smirked Harry.

"What?!" he yelped.

===[~]===

A/N: And now Remus returns to the fold! Would have been odd if he hadn't turned up sooner or later…

Urgazhi: I chuckled when I read your review. Nope! Remus found them all on his own. =)

GinnyPotter6891: There will be an epilogue, though it will be short and not in the same style as Champions' was.

PunksterNL: Only for a day. =)

Thanks again for all your reviews, folks! I do appreciate knowing that my writing is entertaining you. Makes it even more worth doing! See you tomorrow…