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Chapter 1

  It was a fine, bright morning, and summer sunlight poured through the kitchen window. It glinted off the chrome toaster and a wall-mounted set of cooking utensils. The polished pine tabletop glowed in the warm light...until the back door opened and Remus Lupin staggered in, depositing several heavy shopping bags on it with a sigh of relief.

'Wingardium Leviosa. If only...' he murmured wistfully, rubbing the sore red welts that the plastic carrier bag handles had left in his hands.

Most of the time he managed to get along quite well without magic. In that respect he had adapted far more easily than Sirius had, although he still missed it at times. But they both understood the importance of fitting in with the Muggle community while Harry was in their care.

Remus filled the electric kettle and switched it on. Electricity still impressed him, and he quite enjoyed using Muggle appliances. So did Sirius, although he could be a bit over-confident in his knowledge of how they worked. Even after nine months of living like a Muggle, he could sometimes still be caught trying to dry his socks in the toaster.

Dumbledore had insisted that he and Sirius get used to doing everything the Muggle way right from Day One. He wanted Harry to be brought up well away from the Magical World and the hordes of morbidly fascinated admirers who would undoubtedly plague the child's existence. He also wanted him shielded from the knowledge of the horrors in his past for as long as possible. At least, until he was old enough to understand...if he would ever be old enough.

Remus extracted a box of teabags from the pile of groceries and began to brew a pot of tea. This was one of the things he liked doing the Muggle way. It was quite therapeutic, and a bit like potion making, only easier...and unlike potion making the results were nearly always very satisfactory. He took two faded and well-loved mugs from the crockery cupboard. One had a Gryffindor shield on it. The other had a picture of Snoopy and the words "Top Dog".

His keen ears detected the sounds of laughter coming from the meadow behind the house. He smiled and poured the tea, then made a weaker, milky brew in a small plastic beaker with two handles and a spout. He had just begun washing up the breakfast dishes when the door burst open and a small tornado wearing grass-stained dungarees blasted into the kitchen.

'Unca Moony! Look!'

Remus grinned down at the toddler, who was brandishing a miniature home made broomstick. It had training wheels attached to the twig end.

'Wow, Harry! That's really fabulous. What's it for?' he said, feigning innocence.

'Voom!' said Harry, thrusting the broom into the air.

Sirius appeared in the doorway, looking breathless but exhilarated. Remus raised an eyebrow at him.

'I thought we agreed on Muggle toys only?' he said pleasantly.

'It is a Muggle toy. It's not as if it can actually fly,' said Sirius with a dismissive wave of a hand. He downed his tea in three gulps and sank onto a chair with a satisfied sigh.

Remus returned his attention to Harry and ruffled his wild mop of black hair affectionately. 'So what did Uncle Sirius do to get all puffed out?'

Harry pointed at Sirius gleefully. 'Doggie!' he shouted.

'Ah. Been chasing crows again, have we? If I'd known I would have served your tea in this...' said Remus, lifting a heavy earthenware bowl out of the soapy dishwater. It had 'DOG' written on the side.

'Oh, give it a rest, will you? He likes running around with his Uncle Padfoot. Don't you, Harry? Grrrr...Rrrrruf! Rrrruf!'

'Woof!' yelled Harry. He dropped the toy broomstick and skipped over to Sirius, then climbed into his lap and barked some more.

Remus laughed in spite of himself. 'Right,' he said. 'When he starts nursery school and goes round telling everyone that his godfather is a dog, we'll have some explaining to do.'

'We'll think of something,' said Sirius absently. He was dangling Harry upside down by his ankles. Harry was shrieking with delight.

'Maybe we should get a real dog. Then at least we could say he's just got an over-active imagination...and we could pretend that's why there's always dog-hair on the sofa.'

If Sirius had been in canine form at that moment, his ears would have pricked up. 'A real dog? Male or female?'

'Don't be disgusting.'

Sirius grinned mischievously and turned Harry the right way up. He handed him his beaker, and Harry slurped his tea noisily.

'So,' said Sirius. 'What have you got planned for this fine summer's day? I hope you're not going to spend it with your nose in a book again. We could go somewhere for a picnic. How about we go to the...' he glanced at Harry and put a hand to his mouth, whispering conspiratorially. 'B...E...A...C...H?'

Remus pondered the idea. 'Well, maybe tomorrow. There's too much to do today. You, for example, are going to put this shopping away...and don't look at me like that. I'm the one who had to carry it all the way up the hill.'

'Well, if you'd let me get a car--'

Remus didn't let him finish that sentence.

'You must be joking. You can't even work the vacuum cleaner.'

Sirius scowled. 'Go on, then, what else have you got lined up for me?' he muttered.

'You can make us lunch, and then you can mow the lawn. And this time, try not to steer the lawnmower into the pond.'

'Yessir!' said Sirius with a mocking salute. 'What are you going to do?'

'I am going to call a carpenter and arrange to have some bookshelves put up. Then I'm going to give Harry a bath and take him to Toys 'R' Us. We're going to get a paddling pool.'

'How come you get to do the fun stuff?'

'Because you spent all morning playing in the meadow while I did the shopping!'

Sirius scowled. Then his expression changed to one of thoughtful consideration. Remus tensed. Sirius was having an idea. It was time to run.

He missed his chance. Before he could make his escape, Sirius jumped to his feet. 'I've got a better idea - no, hear me out. It'll save us time, and money, and we'll both get to go to Toys 'R' Us.'

Remus took a swig of tea. He had a feeling he was going to need every ounce of fortitude he could muster.

'How about this: You make lunch and give Harry his bath, then cut the grass, and by the time you're done with all that, I will have finished putting the shelves up.'

Silence filled the kitchen. Harry gave Remus a worried look.

'Ooh?' he said, nervously.

'You said it, Harry,' replied Remus.

'Oh, what now?' whined Sirius. 'I can do it - I've got all the tools in the shed...and I've got the DIY book that Arthur Weasley lent me.'

'DIY: Destroy It Yourself,' muttered Remus.

'Oh, cut it out. That joke is getting really old,' snapped Sirius.

Remus smiled apologetically and patted him on the back.

'Sorry. But you have to admit that your record in the home-improvement department is not flawless. Remember the time you tried to fix the frame on the big mirror? I had to go up the attic and find my wand so that we could unglue your head.'

'Shut up.'

'What about the first time you wired up a plug?'

'I know, but it was only a small fire...'

'And don't even get me started on the wallpapering job you did in Harry's bedroom.'

'Will you stop going on about it? How was I supposed to know that the whirly things on helicopters go at the top?'

'Alright, granted that was a new one on you. But you can understand my concern when it comes to the combination of you and Muggle power-tools. I'd quite like you to make it to the end of the day with all your fingers still attached, that's all.'

'I know,' admitted Sirius. 'But you don't need to worry. I'm getting used to all this machinery now. I used the drill to put the pictures up didn't I? No, don't wince like that! I know where there are electric cables in the walls now. I'll be careful. Promise.'

Remus and Harry looked at each other doubtfully.

'What do you think, Harry?' said Remus.


'There, see?' said Sirius smugly. 'He thinks you should make lunch. If anyone wants me, I'll be in the shed.' With that, he turned on his heel and headed down the garden path.