DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of this, and if I ever make any money writing, I hope to do it honestly.
A Real Home
Chapter 1: April
"Harry? What are you doing? Where are Ron and Hermione?"
Harry looked up at Lupin, who was standing framed in his office doorway. "Hogsmead," he answered.
"Oh," said Lupin. Then, "Well, it so happens that I was just coming to look for you."
"You were?" asked Harry suspiciously.
"Yes," said Lupin. "Dumbledore wants to see both of us. Would you come with me, please?"
Curiously, Harry followed his teacher back down the hall. They were silent for a long time, and Harry was starting to feel uncomfortable.
"Is something troubling you, Harry?" ask Lupin kindly.
"No– yes...er, Professor Lupin? Why didn't you let me face that boggart?"
Lupin stopped walking and turned to peer down at him. "I would have thought that was obvious, Harry."
When Harry didn't respond, he continued. "I assumed that the boggart would take the shape of Lord Voldemort. Clearly I was wrong, but I didn't think it a good idea for Voldemort to materialize in the classroom. Some of the students might have been frightened."
Shocked not only at this answer, but at the frankness of its delivery, Harry explained about the dementor. Lupin listened carefully, and they started walking again. Lupin told Harry he did not believe he was weak, just suffering from a lack of happy memories, an essential weapon against the effects of dementors.
Before he knew it, they were standing outside the gargoyle that guarded Dumbledore's office.
"Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans," Lupin told the gargoyle, and it swung aside. Behind it was a moving spiral staircase that carried them gently up to Dumbledore's office door. Lupin knocked.
"Come in," came Dumbledore's calming voice.
Lupin opened the door, then stepped aside to let Harry through first. Harry's eyes took in the headmaster, his desk, Fawkes the phoenix, and the portraits of old headmasters and headmistresses that lined the walls, then finally came to rest on the woman seated in front of Dumbledore's desk.
The first thing Harry noticed about her was that he'd seen her before. She was tall, pale, and held her back straight. Unruly black hair was caught up in a messy sort of bun behind her head, strands of it escaping to wisp about her face, which, Harry noted, had a shape very similar to his own. Her eyes were grey and piercing, and as they looked at him Harry saw them fill with wonder. It was then that he realized where he'd seen this woman before. The Mirror of Erised.
"Oh, my," said the woman softly.
He felt Lupin move into the room behind him. He glanced up at his teacher, whose face had broken into a warm smile.
"April," he said, and crossed the room swiftly. The woman stopped staring at Harry, rose, and embraced Lupin firmly.
"Old friend," she said, pulling away. "It's good to see you again." Then they both turned to face Harry, who was still standing there, bewildered.
"Harry," said Dumbledore, who was watching the scene from behind his desk. "Allow me to introduce your father's cousin, April Showers."
"I..." Harry stammered, "Er...hello."
The woman – April – smiled gently down at him. "Hello, Harry," she said. "Sorry if I've given you a shock."
"No, it's not that," said Harry, realizing he was being rude. "It's just...why have I never seen you before?"
The smile faded. "I am sorry, Harry. Really, I am. But you see, it is only partly my fault. My job unfortunately requires me to be out of the country for long periods of time. I tried to visit you when you were younger, but your aunt and uncle weren't exactly keen on you having contact with any of your wizarding relatives..."
"I can believe that," said Harry, annoyed.
"...And since you've been at school, I'm afraid I've been away in Iceland," April continued. "I should probably have written you a letter though."
"That's alright," said Harry. "It might have been odd, getting a letter from someone I didn't even know."
April smiled gratefully. "Anyway," she said, "I'm going to be at Hogwarts for at least a few days..."
"I was actually hoping it would be longer," Dumbledore broke in. "Severus could definitely use your help, and I have a feeling Professor Sprout would also welcome some help with those herbs you brought back."
"We'll see about that," said April. Harry wondered what it was she did that made his teachers, whom he always thought of as perfectly capable, need her assistance. "Anyway, as I was saying, Harry, I was hoping you'd have tea with me? It won't make up for twelve years, but at least it'll give us a chance to get to know one another a bit."
"Er...sure," Harry said awkwardly.
"Good," said April. She turned back to Lupin. "You'll join us, of course, Remus?"
"Of course," said Lupin. "In fact, I'll make you both some in my office if you'll join me."
"Perfect," said April. "If you'll excuse us, Dumbledore?"
Twenty minutes later, Harry was sitting in an office with his Defense Against the Dark Arts professor and...well, his second cousin, he supposed. He regarded her as she talked, asking him questions, reminiscing with Lupin. It seemed they were old friends. April had a firm, no-nonsense manner about her that in some ways reminded him of Mrs. Weasely. But she also had a spring in her step and the shadow of a twinkle in her eye that brought Fred and George to mind. Harry considered this combination for moment. Then, overhearing something Lupin said to April, something hit him.
"You knew my dad then?" he asked Lupin.
Lupin sighed. "Yes, I knew him. We were friends at school. April here tagged along."
April glared at him. "I did not 'tag along,'" she retorted. "I reigned you in, kept you out of trouble."
"When you weren't causing it yourself."
"Don't be ridiculous, Remus, we both know who the real troublemakers were."
A heavy silence seemed to settle over the room. Something hung in the air, something unsaid, something cruel that took the joy out of their reminiscing. Harry, not knowing what it was, caught the expressions on both their faces and shivered.
"What were you doing in Iceland, Miss Showers?" he asked suddenly.
"April, Harry," said April, coming abruptly out of her reverie. "Only people I don't like call me Miss Showers. To answer your question, I work for the Ministry, Department of Historical Magic, International Division." Seeing Harry's confused look, she went on. "Basically I run around the world looking for old spells or forms of magic that have fallen into disuse or been forgotten completely. It's amazing what we've forgotten over the years."
"Spells we've forgotten?"
April nodded. "It's quite fascinating, really. I look for old wizard haunts. You've lived with Muggles, let's say I'm a sort of Magic Archeologist."
Harry laughed at this, fascinated. "Do you travel all over?"
"All over," said April. "I love it. Keeps me on my toes, and I never know what I'll find."
"So you won't be here long?" asked Harry, a note of disappointment leaking into his voice. He had never had the chance to meet any of his dad's family. He didn't want to loose this opportunity so soon.
"If Dumbledore gets his way, I'll be here all year," said April. "I live– when I'm here– in London, though. I haven't been given a new assignment yet, so I can pop over here once in a while, to see you and Remus."
She had caught on quickly. Harry wondered if she, too, relished this time with family.
"And now that we've met," April went on, "I don't suppose letters would be so awkward."
"I suppose not," said Harry smiling.
April muttered something indistinguishable, but Harry was fairly sure he caught the word "Dursleys."
There was a knock at the door.
"Come in," said Lupin.
Snape entered. Seeing Harry and April, he stopped in the doorway.
"Severus," said April in a light-hearted tone.
"Miss Showers," said Snape, glaring at Harry.
"Now, now, Severus, no need for all that," said April. "Been a long time."
Snape turned his sneer on her now. "Not nearly long enough, I'm afraid."
Harry gasped at the complete rudeness of this declaration. April didn't seem to care.
Snape stepped forward and handed a large goblet to Lupin. "You should drink that immediately," he said. "I made an entire cauldron."
"Thank you very much, Severus," said Lupin, taking a sip and shuddering. "I should probably take some more tomorrow."
Snape left, but not before directing another glare at the three of them. April was looking at Lupin, her brow furrowed.