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Restored by Mutt N Feathers

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Format: Novel
Chapters: 35
Word Count: 201,026
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Mild Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Drama, Romance, AU
Characters: Harry, Lupin, Sirius, Lily, James, Tonks, Cedric, Draco, Ginny, OC
Pairings: Harry/Ginny, James/Lily, Remus/Tonks, Sirius/OC

First Published: 08/10/2011
Last Chapter: 03/23/2012
Last Updated: 03/23/2012

Summary:





 

Set immediately after the end of the war, watch as the Potter, Lupin and Black families attempt to return to 'normal' lives. No one explained that life after war is sometimes harder than the war itself. The sequel to both "Bound" and "Restored".


Chapter 1: Prologue
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Prologue: 

Restored

 

Sirius POV:

 

I watched as her eyes were moving under her eyelids and her face was contorting in pain.  The pain seems to haunt her, even while she’s sleeping, even with the potions coursing through her.  I crawled back onto the bed and held her to me, rocking her gently and whispering in her ear.  Maybe she won’t completely wake up this time, and she’ll get a little more rest.  Anwen settled down after a few minutes, and I laid her back down and slid off the bed again.  In her restlessness, the sheets had become tangled, and the stump of her leg with it’s two metal posts had peeked out.  I straightened the fabric, once again covering her.  She hates for people to see her leg.

 

Anwen couldn’t lie comfortably, not really.  Her back was still healing, and the healer had told me that she would probably carry the remnants of those wounds with her for the rest of her life; the magic had invaded the deep cuts and they refused to heal properly.  She had a difficult time finding a place that her leg didn’t bother her either -- the stump that now held the posts that would attach her artificial leg to the rest of her was still swollen and painful and she could only find some comfort on her side, with her leg nestled against a pillow or a Cushioning charm; or leaning up against me.  I moved away from her, and returned to the large rocking chair that was closest to her bed and took up my vigil, watching my beautiful girl sleep.

 

It was odd to have such a quiet moment, in the middle of the day like this.  Everyone was living at Potter Manor now, and I mean everyone.  Remus, Tonks and little Teddy were in the guest house; James and Lily and their four:  Harry, Evan, Emma and Hope were here, since it was their house.  Hermione had moved in as well, her parents memories had been restored, but they chose to stay in Australia and had sold her family home.  Ginny was often floating around, being as she and Harry were closer now than they were before the war, and Ron was here because of Hermione.  There was usually at least one other Weasley or two floating around the house for some reason or another.  Andromeda was often lonely now, due to the death of her husband; and chose to come over to visit her daughter, son in law and grandson.  Anwen’s parents were still here from Canada, helping out; and we were living in the Ballroom.

 

It’s not as weird as it sounds, James and Lily did an amazing job transforming it into a small flat, three bedrooms and a Sitting Room that was complete with a hospital bed; it’s just, there isn’t much privacy, one wall is open to the Dining Room and another is all windows and doors that open to the terrace and back yard.  We had begun rebuilding our home, Fair Garde,n which had been burned to the ground two weeks before the final battle at Hogwarts.  The only things that were saved were all of the books that Anwen had sent here, and the family heirlooms that were in the safe room in the center of the house.  The goblins were working hard to help secure replacements for our furniture, dishes and art work; but there were things that we’d never be able to replace.  Insurance wouldn’t cover things like the spoon I had carved for Anwen for our wedding or the crib that Moony and Prongs had made for Ethan before he was born.  I already had a painter working on a new portrait of my brother, Regulus; and as a surprise for Anwen, one of her sister Eira.  Anwen rarely spoke of her sister, but I knew that her murder still weighed upon her.  I could remember the tearful reunion she had with her while we were...well wherever that was when our bodies were healing.

 

I looked over and saw little Edmund sleeping in his playpen at the foot of Anwen’s hospital bed -- bottom up in the air, and I smiled as I thought of my son, all of my children really.  Ethan, who turned five in March was getting ready to do his Reception Class this fall at the Muggle primary school in Portree, the same one that Evan Potter attended.  We had already decided that his magic would be obliged later this summer to keep him out of trouble when he was around non–magical children.  Lilyan, four, was the non-related twin of Emma Potter.  Born two days apart, they looked alike, talked alike and were inseparable, often sharing a bed with the other at night, because they had fallen asleep talking in their own coded language.  The twins, John and Jamie -- named after my best friends -- were like night and day.  John was boisterous and outgoing and into everything; Jamie was quiet and reflective and loved to cuddle up to her Mummy and Daddy.  She’s such a little angel.  I mused as I looked over and saw her curled up on the far side of her Mummy’s bed, napping with her.  John too was napping, but in his own room, since he was a “big boy”.  Edmund wasn’t quite a year old, but he was into everything already, with a devilish grin and a wonderful laugh.  And then there was Bastien, my son that I didn’t know I had until the night the house burned down. Seventeen years old, and educated in France where he and his mother had lived after his birth. He broke through the wards of our home, at the urging of his “Aunt” Bella.  It was after the wards fell that my cousin set fire to our home.  The fact that she and her husband are dead is quite a blessing.  I wouldn’t want to be charged with murder.  Bastien's mother, Felicienne, was killed that night as well, knocked over by the magical shock wave that Anwen had sent out to give us time to apparate away and hitting her head on a rock.  The death was being investigated, but we doubted any charges would be brought.  I wasn’t sure where he was, but I had every intention of finding him, and somehow trying to make things right.   I wouldn’t be like my grandfather.

 

It bothered me to no end that I had no memory of his mother, or of being intimate with her.  Kingsley had promised Anwen that he would have the Aurors look into it.  Anwen’s old partner is now the Minister of Magic, and he desperately wants her to come back to work; but she is flatly refusing.  Not just because she’s still recovering, or that she can’t do magic yet; but I think she has no desire to be part of the Ministry any more.  Of course, that didn’t stop King from coming over several times a week to talk things over with her and get her advice on how to handle different situations.  She would be his counsel, whether or not she went back to work or not.

 

The weeks after the final battle at Hogwarts are a bit of a blur for me.  Anwen and I were in comas for over a week, and then hospitalized for a bit longer.  I heard the tales of what happened that night, but the one that blew me away was Harry’s.  What a remarkable godson I have.  He’d allowed himself to be sacrificed in the woods, Voldemort thinking that he had killed him; in reality the blood binding potion worked, and Harry was simply knocked unconscious.  He’d apparently had a delightful conversation with Albus in that time, and then had come back, to finally defeat old Moldy–shorts resoundingly, with a Disarming Spell of all things.  That is what his Aunt Winnie would call creative spell casting.  There were few other injuries, George Weasley had his back crushed when a wall fell on him, but the healers were able to repair it and he and his mother spent two weeks in the Scandinavian Rehab hospital that the Diggory family had Cedric at after his near death at the hands of Voldemort, back at the end of the Triwizard Tournament.  There were some severe cuts and broken bones, but overall, no one had suffered too terribly, and Fleur Weasley had found out, quite by accident, that she was excellent at Healing Spells.  She had taken an apprenticeship with Healer Orlaf to become a Blood Magic Specialist.  She would be over later today to check on both Anwen and me.

 

I was still healing too.  I had been cut from the top of my head down to my chin when the Owlery at Hogwarts exploded the night of the final battle. I would venture out into public for the first time next week, the new Minister was calling a meeting of the Council of 13; and I would be present as the Black family representative.  I was healing well, and the doctors were hopeful that in time I wouldn’t have any noticeable scars; but for right now, my face was a mess.  To be honest, it was a miracle that we were alive, the rest wasn’t that important to me.  

 

Anwen is still so weak though...even when she’s awake, she seems drained and almost lost.  She’d channeled so much magic that night, become a conduit for extreme power, I wonder if it’s changed her somehow?  Then there’s all of the pain she’s in; I wonder if it will ever abate?

 

I watched as she began to stir, her eyelids fluttering open.  Her beautiful green eyes made contact with mine and she smiled at me from her pillow.  She bit her lip and looked away.  I got up and walked to the side of her bed, and sat down, taking her hands in mine.

 

“What made you smile like that?”

 

“You were watching me sleep,”  she said quietly,  “it always makes me smile to know that you’re watching over me,”  she confessed and then bit her lip again.

 

“How could I not watch an angel sleep?”   She rolled her eyes at me.

 

“So what’s the word of the day?”  It was a game that we had started while she was healing.  Anwen slept so much of the day away, she knew that she was missing things, so I tried to sum them up for her, often only using one word.  It seemed to break the tension that would otherwise fill the room.

 

“You won’t like it,” I told her.  The owl post had come while she was napping, and it contained a very important letter, I knew that she wasn’t going to take the news well, but maybe she’d take it better than Harry had taken it.

 

“Tell me,” she said, sounding resigned.

 

“Award.”  She sighed loudly.  “There’s going to be an awards ceremony, on August 15 at the Ministry.  You’re being given the Order of Merlin, Second Class, and...”  I stopped,  knowing the next part is what was really going to bother her.

 

“...and what?”

 

“The Medal of Valor...” I told her quietly, and I saw her shaking her head, “...they want to give it to you and Harry, for the sacrifices that you made that night...”

 

“Harry deserves it, not me.  I didn’t do anything heroic Sirius, and you know it.  I’ll have to talk to King about it,”  she said, shaking her head.  She’s so opposed to being recognized for what she did that night.  What the heck is going on in her head?  Anwen shifted herself around and I watched her wince in pain and hold her breath while she was moving.  She pulled herself into a more sitting position and clenched her fists together, taking several deep breaths.   When she opened her eyes she looked at me sadly and asked: “When do we get to have normal again?”  I didn’t have an answer, so I wrapped my arms around her and brought my lips to hers.

 

“Oh, um, I can come back later...”  I heard Harry’s voice from the entranceway to the Dining Room, and my lips broke away from Anwen’s.

 

“No, Harry it’s all right.  What can we do for you?”  I asked my godson, shifting over so that I was still sitting with Anwen, but I wasn’t embracing her any longer.

 

“I was wondering if Aunt Winnie was up for a walk in the garden?” he said, and I knew that it was their code for ‘I need to talk with her about things’.

 

“I most definitely am.  Can you go and see if your Mum can help me get into my chair?”  she asked, and Harry looked at her.

 

“You know, I can levitate you into it as well as she can,”  he said and Winnie looked at him in a pained way, not wanting to hurt his feelings, but she was so self conscious about her leg that she didn’t want him seeing it.

 

“Harry, she’s only in a nightgown here, she doesn’t want you to see her undressed,”  I told him, and he nodded.  

 

“Right, I’ll got get my Mum,”  he said and left the room.  I watched as he left.  

 

“He was tortured again, wasn’t he?”  I asked Anwen, knowing that this was why Harry wanted to talk with her.  She fluttered her eyelashes and then started speaking.

 

“Please don’t ask me to betray his confidences.  He feels comfortable talking with me, I don’t want to discourage that.”

 

“I won’t love; and you’re right, at least he’s talking to someone,”  I told her, bringing my lips once again to hers.  “Please don’t over do it, the children would like to spend some time with you.”

 

“How about if you bring them out when they wake up, and we can have tea together in the garden?  That sounds like a very normal thing to do,”  she postulated, and I nodded at her.

 

“That it does my love, that it does.” 


Chapter 2: Chapter 1: Stubborn
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Chapter 1:

Stubborn

 

Sirius POV:

 

“I agree King, sorry, Minister,” Anwen corrected herself. She was struggling to remember to call our new Minister of Magic by his title rather than his name. They were both laughing at her misspeaking.

 

“Anwen, we’ve been partners for almost 15 years, as long as we’re alone, call me anything you want,” he teased her back in that big booming voice of his and Anwen’s bell–like chime laugh rang along with it. They sounded like two ends of a carillon. It was good to see her smiling and laughing, but I couldn’t help but feel like she was putting on an act.

 

“Okay, but you’re right, Lisette will be the best to head the department. Let her do the re-admittance interviews and decide who stays and goes. Start with the easiest ones: Tonks, Colleen Dilworth, Carl Braudish, even John Dawlish; although I think that he’s been confunded one too many times to actually be reliable out in the field. Who else is coming in?” Anwen asked him. It was a little odd to be sitting here, listening to them reorganizing the Auror department in the little sitting room of our flat within the Potter house. 

 

“The response has been overwhelming, Anwen. We could have had at least 30 foreign Aurors at our disposal this year, but I’ve narrowed it down to 14. Lisette and Renoir are coming from France, and I feel the most comfortable having Lisette be the Head of the Department for the time being; she’s far more personable than anyone else, and she can smooth over any disagreements with ease,” King said, and Anwen was smiling at him.

 

“Yeah, well being able to do Empathic magic will do that for you. I love doing interrogations with her, she can read someone’s emotions and let us know when they’re lying,” Anwen mused, she was still confined to bed, but later today Healer Orlaf, his apprentice, Fleur Weasley, and the technician from the prosthetics department at St. Mungo’s would be coming to fit her with her “training leg.”

 

“I’m going to let Renoir take the lead on the Seduire case; since you said that he’s already been briefed on some of it,” King said and Anwen looked at me and I nodded at her. “Anwen, none of us expect that any charges will be brought against you, I personally reviewed the memories and read the report, and her death was unfortunate but still an accident.”

 

“I know that you can’t talk about an on-going investigation, but you need to know something that might not have been in the report,” she said quietly and I could see her trying to find the words. I decided that since this was my mess, I was going to tell him.

 

“King, Minister, her son, Bastien...I’m the boys father,” I told him quietly. “I have no memory of fathering this child, but we know that he’s mine. Renoir helped Anwen get his birth records from France. I think that it all needs to be investigated at the same time,” I told him quietly and the former Auror looked from me to his partner and then scribbled something on his notepad.

 

“I understand and I’ll do what I can to keep this quiet...” he started but Anwen quickly cut him off.

 

“It doesn’t matter, we’re not going to ignore him. He was born about the time we were engaged, just, Renoir already knows, and if I could keep others from digging into our personal lives...”

 

“Consider it done, Anwen; the least that I can do is afford you some privacy. Now where was I? Okay, for the rest of them: Franco Savino is coming from Italy,” King told her, and she nodded. The mood in the room seemed to have lightened considerably. “Oscar is on loan from Spain for up to two years, should we need him.”

 

“Good, he’ll be helpful with the trafficking of dark artifacts. The Death Eaters will try to sell off some of the more questionable items in their possession, before the trials begin,” Winnie stated and King agreed with her. Sometimes sitting with them is like missing half a conversation. They talk without actually saying everything.

 

“Germany is sending Karolina Reinard and you’ll be happy, Australia has agreed to let Faatima work with us.” Anwen did indeed smile and nod at the name. “I already told her that she has to cook for us, at least once.”

 

“Sirius, you have to taste her cooking. You’ve taken me to some amazing restaurants all over the world; but I could swear I was in heaven from eating her meat pies,” my wife smiled at me, and I could feel her happiness course through me. Damn, if I feel this much and we’re still supressed, I wonder what will happen when our magic is allowed to course freely again? I can’t get used to the power that we have now.

 

“Kaede is coming from Japan, Madame Grimsdottir from Norway and Auror Kebe from South Africa. Sirius, your friend, Jagjit is coming from India and was quite excited to be able to see you again,” he told me and I nodded at him.

 

“He’s a good man and an excellent wizard; I’ll be quite happy to visit with him as well. Did you know that he’s a Parseltongue?” I asked and they both shook their heads at me.

 

“It’s nowhere near as uncommon in India as it is here, but they do have a much richer heritage with serpents in their culture,” Anwen said. “They’re not likely to hide such a talent, as we are here.”

 

“Mr. Fernandez is coming from Brazil, and he’s bringing back two of our escaped Death Eaters with him. Ran away before the battle was even over, but then used their own names when they entered his country. Honestly, can’t believe how stupid some of Voldemort’s followers were,” King added, but Anwen started laughing at him.

 

“They were followers of Voldemort, it’s not like that would make them geniuses.”

 

“Yeah, yeah, we all can’t be brilliant,” I teased my wife, and she reached behind her on the hospital bed, grabbed a pillow and threw it at me.

 

“Okay, the last few are the most interesting. Brandon Goodman is coming from America,” King told us, and Anwen’s mouth dropped open. 

 

“Their Magical President is sending her own son to help us?”

 

“She is, and she expects us to call us if we need any more help, she would have sent us an entire division, but I really wasn’t sure that we were in a position to be able to use them yet. She’s also said that their schools are open to anyone who needs to brush up on their skills this year, or who is missing areas in their training,” King explained.

 

“I always liked her; and she is one damned powerful witch,” Anwen said, clearly impressed, but she was looking tired and I could feel her unease. I got up and went and put my arms around my wife, sitting on her bed with her.

 

“More powerful than you?” I asked her, nuzzling her neck with my nose.

 

“Yes, Sirius, she’s a Full Elemental -- manipulates fire, air, water and wind. I’ve never seen anything like her; but she’s also so gentle and calming. Remarkable woman.”

 

“Now, for the most interesting assistance: Bulgaria is sending us Galina Krum.”

 

“Is she related to Viktor?” I asked.

 

“She is; it’s his aunt. He is still playing Quidditch there, but he plans on following in her footsteps when he’s done. She will be quite helpful in reclaiming some of the stolen assets that have been hidden there.”

 

“Maybe now that he’s dead we’ll be able to find Voldemort’s money, since we know that he hid it there,” Anwen said, sounding frustrated. “We looked for five years, and we kept hitting a wall. I’m sure that Malfoy had something to do with it.”

 

“Speaking of Malfoy, you do know that Harry asked for leniency for the Malfoys?” King asked Anwen, and she looked down at the sheets.

 

“He told me, and he explained why. We’ll have to see what we uncover about them. I appreciate why he did it, but...”

 

“I know,” the Minister said quietly. “Now, the last two Aurors should be the most interest to you. Canada is sending us Audra Boucher; she begged for the assignment. She was a roommate of your sister, Anwen.” I could see Winnie’s face tighten as she was trying to hold back the tears.

 

“I know, I recognized the name. She was going to be in Eira’s wedding,” she said, putting her hand to her face.  We were all quiet for a minute, letting Anwen get herself back together. “Okay, who’s the last one?”

 

“A young woman by the name of Breda O’Shannon; she says she knows you, something about signing a picture for her right before your wedding at the Three Broomsticks...” Anwen turned her head to look at me.

 

“Oh my goodness, I had forgotten about her. You remember, she was the little girl that I saved and she came up and talked to us while we were eating dinner the night before the binding. She told me that she was going to become an Auror.”

 

“She did, had to go to America for training since Fudge closed our school, but she’s an Auror and by looking at her service record, quite a fine one as well. She begged to come back and help us. I couldn’t refuse her, she’s homegrown,” King quipped and Anwen smiled at him.

 

“Well, it looks like you have a really good start there. Please, let me know if I can be of any other assistance,” Anwen said, leaning back into her pillows. I could see in her face that the exhaustion was overtaking her quickly.

 

“I do have one other question for you. Do you want your office down in the Auror department, or would you rather be up in my suite?” King asked her, and Anwen sat back up.

 

“My office?” she said, sounding utterly confused.

 

“Anwen, you’re going to need an office...”

 

“King, I’ve told you, I’m not coming back to work at the Ministry,” she said resolutely. King looked at her shocked, shaking his head.

 

“Anwen, I don’t understand...”

 

“I can’t go into active duty, I won’t be able to run or well, even walk fast for probably a year, and we still can’t do magic yet. We’re still magically suppressed. Furthermore, I was away from my children for almost six months, they’re home now, I want to be able to hug and kiss and cuddle them. Working wouldn’t...” she said shaking her head and looking down. I pulled her closer to me and kissed her head.

 

“Anwen, I...I need you...I need your counsel,” he said, sounding desperate.

 

“You may have my counsel, anytime that you’d like it, but it won’t be from my office. King, I can’t come back, not now.”

 

“Oh...” he said, realizing that it wasn’t worth pushing her right now. “Well, they’ll all be here by August 15 for the ceremony; many of them have awards and commendations for all of your from their governments, and then there’s the Knighting ceremony with the Queen and the decree from the Muggle Minister...”

 

“You know how I feel about this,” she moaned. 

 

“Anwen, we have to have a ceremony. Not only is it a chance to thank those who gave and sacrificed to defeat Voldemort, but, it’s a chance for healing to start,” he told her quietly and she nodded at him.

 

“Fine, thank Harry and Ron and Hermione and honor those that lost their lives...” she stopped and took a steadying breath, closing her eyes, “...but please, I didn’t do anything...”

 

“Bullshit, Anwen,” King interrupted her, and she looked at him surprised. “You protected every person on that field, we lost no one that night because of you. You were the same way after the first war...” he mumbled and I looked at him and then her.

 

“They gave me the Order of Merlin, third class after the first war, for getting Ewan in and out of the country,” she said quietly.

 

“Yes, well, she made us have a private ceremony in the Minister’s office. Anwen, Albus, Remus, the Minister and I...”

 

“Moody and Amelia were there too,” she added quietly.

 

“Oh, well, there were seven of us, whoopie. Anwen, people are going to make a big deal out of this; it’s not just you and Harry, it’s the whole family and everyone who died and was injured,” he told her, sounding irritated at her. 

 

“Winnie, honey, where’s the medal from the award?’ I asked her.

 

“I think it’s in the family vault at Gringotts. I really don’t know, I haven’t looked at it since I got it,” she told me quietly, busying her hands with the trim on her blouse.

 

“Winnie, you never told me,” I said surprised and shocked. She looked up at me and broke out into tears and crumbled against me. “Okay, okay, it doesn’t matter love. Do you think that we could talk about this another time, she’s...” I trailed off, holding her tightly against me, and King nodded. We’ve got to have this ceremony, she needs it and Harry needs it, whether they want it or not. 

 

“Can I come by in a few days, I need to see that spiffy new leg of yours in action?” he asked, rising from his chair. Anwen looked up at him.

 

“You’re welcome here anytime, you know that. Your godson loves seeing you too,” Anwen told him, and King walked over to the window and looked out where Ginny and Hermione were playing with the children in the yard. He watched for a minute longer and then tipped his head and left the room. Anwen laid down on the bed, curling herself onto her side.

 

“Your back still sore?” I asked her, picking up the salve that needed to be applied four times a day still and walking around the bed to loosen the special blouse that she was wearing so that I could apply it to her wounds. The garment tied along the back, allowing the potion to be applied without her having to undress completely. Even weeks later, the wounds were still looking raw and painful.

 

“If I sit up too long the muscles start pulling on the scar tissue and it hurts,” she said, closing her eyes. I took several finger tips of the medication and started rubbing into her back. “That feels good though,” she said, twisting herself more so that she was nearly lying on her stomach now. Her eyes were completely closed now and she was breathing deeply, and I knew that she’d be asleep soon. I finished with the medication and kissed the nape of her neck. She made a little happy noise and I tied the blouse back up and climbed onto the bed with her, carefully rolling her into my arms.

 

“Go ahead and go to sleep dear, I’ll get you up before the healer arrives,” I told her quietly and she made a little noise, and then I watched as sleep overtook her again.

 

 

Anwen POV:

 

“Wow, that feels, weird,” I told Healer Orlaf, Michael the Prosthetics Technician and Fleur, Trainee Weasley, I have to remember to call her the right thing when she’s here for work; it’s just, she’s Bill’s wife.

 

“I know it does, but that’s good,” Michael started explaining. “That means that the nerve endings are magically connecting to the posts in your leg, and once the swelling has completely gone down, you’ll be able to control the leg.” 

 

“Okay,” I said while nodding. It really was an odd sensation, not painful, but there was pressure and a slight tingling. I could also feel my magic swirling around the posts that were attaching the fake leg to my own. 

 

“This is just your training leg, you’ll have this one for about two weeks, and then you’ll get the mid–level one. On this one, your knee can’t bend, we really just want you to get up and learn to stand and take a few steps on it,” Healer Orlaf explained again, but I remembered all of this from the last visit, where they took the measurements. I looked down at the leg, it really was quite ugly. It was simply a metal post that had a sort of cup at the top that cradled the two posts that stuck out of my stump. At the far end, there was a shoe, a brown lace up shoe that reminded me of the “sensible” shoes that my Grandma Lizzy wore to garden in when I was a little girl.

 

“Zat iz ze pracdecal shoe for you to learn to walk on, Anwen,” Fleur told me. “You can wear prettier ones on ze final leg.” I smiled at her.

 

“Thank goodness, I’d rather not have a leg, than be sentenced to a lifetime of wearing that shoe,” I joked and everyone laughed. Sirius was sitting in the wingback chair and his booming bark laugh filled the room.

 

“Well, let’s get you up and see if this is set right for you,” Michael suggested, and I took a deep breath and nodded at him. I was wearing something resembling real clothes for the first time in weeks. Lily had gotten me a cute pink track suit with a little white tank top to wear underneath, we’d rolled the right leg up to above my knee. I liked wearing the real clothes so much that I wasn’t going to tell anyone that having it rubbing on my back was quite painful. I was thankful that I wasn’t sitting here in my silly nightgown or one of the tie back shirts with Michael here. I’d gotten over the fact that if Sirius wasn’t here or asleep, that someone else, most of the time it was Lily, would have to help levitate me or carry me to the bathroom; but I really didn’t want a complete stranger seeing my knickers.

 

I eased my foot...feet...shoes...whatever… to the floor and with Healer Orlaf and Fleur each taking a firm grasp under my arms, I stood up for the first time in nearly two months. It felt strange, and I was a little light headed, but I was standing. Michael knelt down in front of me and took a few measurements, and then waved his wand over the leg and I could feel it lengthen ever so slightly. He then put his hands on my hips.

 

“Feels good, everything is in alignment. How are you feeling?”

 

“Um, a little unstable, and most definitely a little dizzy, but it feels good,” I told him honestly.

 

“The stability will come with time, and the dizziness is from being in bed for so long; but you’re still two weeks ahead of what we would consider normal, so don’t push too hard,” Healer Orlaf reminded me and I nodded at him.

 

“Well, let’s have you take a few steps, just so that I can make sure that the leg is attached correctly. Since there isn’t a knee joint in this one, you’ll need to sort of drag the leg along, but it’s just temporary. Let’s try for three or four steps, and then turn you around and go back to the bed, or you could sit up for a while, if you preferred,” Michael suggested and I nodded at him.

 

“I’d like to sit if I could, it would be nice to be in a chair for a change,” I told him, and Sirius immediately got up from the wingback and moved to the rocker on the other side of the bed. I closed my eyes and slowly picked up the right leg, at my hip and sort of dragged it a step and then planted it again. “It’s heavy,” I complained.

 

“The first leg is much heavier than either of the other two will be. Stability is what we’re going for here, and it helps to build up your thigh muscles,” MIchael explained. I moved my left, putting all my weight on the right for the first time. As I did, I could feel pain where the implanted posts were. I scrunched my face up from the pain, but continued to walk.

 

“Posts hurting?” Healer Orlaf asked and I nodded at him. “The pain will lessen with time, your body is still getting used to them and there is still a fair bit of swelling.”

 

Two more steps, and I was nearly there. My heart was racing and I was having a hard time breathing deep enough.  Who would have thought that moving three feet could make you this exhausted. How am I ever going to keep up with our children? I reached the chair and I grabbed for it, and Fleur helped me sit down, pushing the little ottoman over to me so that I could rest my leg on it. Everyone was clapping, but I was just breathing heavily.

 

“You did amazingly well,” Michael complimented me, handing me a glass of water, which I greedily drank down.

 

“That was hard,” I confessed, “but it felt good too.” I looked over at Sirius, and he was beaming at me and I could feel his pride rolling off of him.

 

“I don’t ever want you doing that without at least one person, if not two here to help you,” Michael warned me and I moved my head in understanding. “You remember how to detach the prosthetic, right?” he asked and I nodded at him, while pointing at the large yellow button on the side. “Rachel, the therapist, will be here every day at 10:00 to work with you, not just on your walking, but on building your arm strength as well,” he reminded me and then he smiled brightly at me. “You’re an amazing woman, Mrs. Black, the progress you’ve made is nothing short of astounding. I’ll see you next week at the same time,” he said as he was packing up his things. Sirius got up and thanked him and showed him to the door, leaving me alone with the Healers.

 

“Since you’re sitting there, I’ll finish your exam where you are. Mrs. Weasley, will you go and find Mrs. Potter so that I can go over any changes with her?” Healer Orlaf requested, and Fleur went off into the house.

 

“Really, you don’t need to bring Lily into all of this...” I started, but as I was speaking, Sirius came back into the room.

 

“Anwen, stop it. Lily wants to help, and you won’t let me do some of it,” he chastised me.

 

“I just hate being such a burden on people,” I muttered under my breath, hoping no one heard me. Sirius gave me the look that let me know he had.

 

Healer Orlaf waved his wand over me, and made a soft clucking noise with his tongue, and then scribbled something on his parchment. “Your magic is breaking through the suppression again, I don’t know what else to do, beside oblige you completely; which I can’t do because the artificial leg needs the magic to complete the connections,” he mumbled, clearly frustrated. He looked up at me, “Have you tried to do any magic at all yet?”

 

“I did, last night we were out in the yard, and James had me try to summon a stick; I uprooted a tree instead, and it came flying at all of us. Luckily he was able to stop it before I did any damage.” Sirius was chuckling, he was having a much easier time controlling his magic than I was. We ended up with some good firewood however.

 

“I’ll keep you on the potion strength that you’re currently on, but know that your magic is going to break free at some point, probably in the near future. I think that you should start doing as much spell work as you can; just make sure that someone who can quickly bind your magic is always around,” he told me. I cocked my lip up at him.

 

“Around here, that won’t be a problem.”

 

Lily and Fleur came back in and he went about check the rest of me. He indicated that he wanted to see my back, and I leaned forward while he lifted my jacket and shirt and waved his wand over my back, as well as touching several of the scars. “Keep using the salve four times a day, and I’m going to give you some potions and salts for the bath water. I want you to take a therapeutic bath in that whirlpool at least once a day,” he said, summoning another tub of the salve, as well as a jar of the salts from his case. He also wrote down a formula and handed it to Lily. “I assume that you have everything to make this?”

 

“Yes, all of it’s in my work room. How much should she add?” Lily asked.

 

“About a half a cup for each bath, and the same of the salts. Now, let’s see about your internal organs,” the healer said, and Fleur came over and lifted her wand as well. “Well, your blood is nearly replenished fully, but your lungs are still not flushing all of the fluid out and your kidney...what do you think Mrs. Weasley?”

 

“Zey are steel veek, I doubt zhat zey are fluzhzing completely,” Fleur answered.

 

“I agree, continue with the blood cleansing potion, and Mrs. Potter, make sure that you do the emptying charm three times daily. Mrs. Black, you need to keep drinking all the water you can,” he told me and I nodded at him. I hated having Lily do that darned spell. Nothing worse than your best friend having to empty your kidneys and bladder for you. He waved his wand over me again.

 

“How much pain are you in?” he asked me, sounding rather frustrated.

 

“It’s not bad,” I answered meekly. Sirius decided to pipe up.

 

“Don’t let her lie to you, she wakes up from the pain.”

 

“Mrs. Black, you don’t need to suffer so, I’m increasing your pain potion to four times a day. Take it, you won’t get better without it, and we’re going to start you on a stronger Dreamless sleep,” he ordered, and Lily wrote all of these things down. “I’ll leave word at the Apothecary that you can pick up added amounts of the regulated ingredients,” he explained and Lily nodded. “All right there Mr. Black, let’s have a look at you.”

 

As the healer turned his back on me and walked toward Sirius, I shot him a cold stare. We’d talked about this, I wanted to go off the pain potions, not have them increased. I was so tried of feeling like my head wasn’t attached to my body; or worse, simply sleeping the day away. I had been away from my children for too long, now I was back with them, and all I wanted to do was rest. I can’t believe that he intentionally went against what I wanted that way.

 

The healer moved his wand over Sirius and made a few notes. “Your magic is much more stable than your wife’s, I think that we’ll start weaning you off the potions.  Your scar is much better as well. You can grow you hair back now,” he said, and Sirius pumped his fist in the air. “Well, that would seem to be all. I’ll be back next week to check on both of you, good day,” he said as he started to pack his gear up. Fleur came over to me and leaned down to whisper in my ear, “I weel be back later, and ve can talk zhen.”

 

Lily showed them to the door, leaving Sirius and me alone. He went to get up from the rocking chair, but I held my hand up to him. “I’d stay there if I were you.”

 

“Anwen, please don’t be mad at me. You’ve been telling him that the pain was bearable for the last two weeks, when you know that you’ve barely been able to sleep because of it. I’m just worried about you,” he told me, and I rubbed the skin between my eyebrows and the bridge of my nose.

 

“Sirius, I feel so out of it though. The potions make me all loopy and silly and sleepy...I hate spending my days in and out of sleep. The twins’ birthday is next week, and I haven’t done anything, and I don’t want to sleep through their party. I just wish that you’d let me handle this...” I said, nearing tears from the overwhelming sense of exhaustion that was overtaking me. He got up and came over, kneeling down in front of me.

 

“Anwen, let some of us carry it for a while, please, just let yourself get better,” he begged me, and I could feel my eyelids getting heavy. I wanted to protest more, but I couldn’t get myself to do it, it seemed like sleep was calling me again. Damn it...why does he always win these battles?

 

I woke up later, and someone had levitated me to the bed, and released my artificial leg from it’s connection and rested it against the edge of the bed, well out of my reach. I rolled over and was surprised to find Ginny sitting in the rocking chair, her legs tucked up underneath her, reading something.

 

“Hey, I was wondering if you were ever going to wake up,” she said, putting aside her book and letting her legs drop down toward the floor. I gingerly stretched my back out, feeling the scars erupt in pain as they were disturbed. I winced at the pain, and Ginny got up and lifted one of the phials from the bedside table and handed it to me. I groaned at the sight of it. “It’ll help the pain Aunt Winnie,” she said, cocking her head to the side and looking at me with pleading eyes.

 

“It will, but it will also make me sick and not want to eat dinner; make me groggy and listless and eventually, put me back to sleep. Let me go just a little while without it, please,” I begged her. Why the hell was I begging a 16 year old?  She’s not even my child, nor is she an adult.

 

“Fine, but if I see that you’re in any more pain, I’m going to make you take it,” she teased, and then came over and sat down on the edge of the bed. “I need to talk with you about something.”

 

“Sweetheart, you know you can talk with me about anything,” I told her, taking her hand in mine. I watched as she pulled her wand from her pocket and closed the door and sealed it, and then there was a familiar buzz as she cast a silencing spell.

 

“We need privacy? Please don’t tell me that you’re pregnant, because I don’t want to be the one that goes with you to tell your Mum,” I told her and she started shaking her head at me.

 

“No...no pregnancy, not even close,” she said, sounding scared at the mere mention of it. “But it does have to do with Harry,” she said, and I started to protest. “I don’t want you to betray his confidences, I know that he’s talking with you, and he’s told me about the forest...this has to do with the awards ceremony. Why are the two of you so stubborn about this?”  I knew that Harry and I shared the same opinion about this, we just wanted to move on with our lives. Every day the post was filled with thank you letters and notes, and people trying to give us things. I just wanted that night to be over, I didn’t want to think about it anymore; and now they wanted to have a ceremony to commemorate what had happened. I had some rather painful reminders that I couldn’t get rid of. I looked at the young witch who was more like my sister than my husband’s cousin’s daughter to me. I owed her an honest answer.

 

“I won’t speak for Harry, but, I just can’t look back anymore Ginny. The last three years, since Voldemort has come back, have been rather...awful; it was one thing after another ...and it’s finally over...”

 

“I understand, Aunt Winnie. You lost so many people that you were close to, and you nearly lost Uncle Sirius and then you had to send your children away; but don’t you see, even with as bad as it was for you, you never stopped fighting. I remember when Eira was killed,” she said, and I took a ragged breath at her name. I hate when people mention my sister. “You were so lost and upset, but you never stopped taking care of people. You kept teaching and training Harry. The only thing that kept Charlie from just stopping living was the letters that you wrote him, telling him about Eira as a little girl.”

 

I had started crying in earnest, and I was looking at Ginny with amazement.  When did she get so smart. “Uncle Sirius told us all about that night, when you were up the owlery, during the ceasefire. You were so exhausted and drained,” she stopped talking and I could hear her take a steadying breath. “You even said goodbye to him,” she added quietly, “and yet, you somehow went and gave Harry one last lesson. Where did you find the strength?” I just shook my head at her, I really had no idea. I did what had to be done.

 

“Aunt Winnie, when we all saw our magic that night, I knew it was you. That’s when I knew that we were going to make it out, alive. I knew that Harry was going to survive, I knew that I was going to survive and suddenly I understood that I would get to live the rest of my life, and live it with the man I love...” she stopped and looked away, playing with the fraying edge of her cutoff shorts. “He needs one more lesson from you. We all need to say thank you, and we need him to be gracious in accepting our thanks,” she told me, looking up at me again with her glistening eyes. “Teach him one more lesson, Aunt Winnie.”

 

How had I been so stupid? It was like all of those years that I didn’t want to take Sirius’ gifts, never realizing that it was hurting him when I didn’t want to take his gifts. I might not see what the point of the whole thing was, but clearly, someone else did.

 

“When did you get to be so smart, child?” I asked her and she shrugged her shoulders. “I’ll talk with Harry about it, and I promise, I’ll stop being so grumpy about the whole thing. Did Sirius put you up to this, or did you cook it up together?” I asked her, and she just shrugged her shoulders and looked up, trying to be innocent. Oh Lord, if those two are conspiring together, heaven help us all.

 

“Come on, let’s get that funky leg of yours attached, and get you up. Dinner should be just about ready, and I for one, would love to have you at the table,” she said, getting up and walking over to lift my metallic leg and handing it to me.

 

“Go get Harry’s Dad or Uncle Remus to help get me into the Dining Room, please,” I acquiesced, and the young witch trotted off. 


Chapter 3: Chapter 2: Just You and I
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Chapter 2:

Just You and I

 

Anwen POV:

 

“It feels good to be home,”  I said, relaxing my body against the sofa in our little sitting room.

 

“I can’t believe that you did a full session of therapy, and then you went shopping with Lily and the girls today, in Glasgow no less,”  Sirius told me, looking frustrated at me.  “You’re supposed to be taking it easy.”

 

“I was in the damned wheelchair all day, Sirius.  I did take it easy, but we didn’t have any clothes, not really and the twins’ birthdays are in three days, I didn’t have a single gift for them.  It was a fun day, I didn’t overdo it, and I’m fine,”  I pleaded with him and I watched as his face softened and he sat down next to me.

 

“But you went so far away.  I worry,”  he told me, reaching over to take my hand.

 

“Yes, your worrying skills are legendary, but I will not break, love,” I told him in no uncertain terms.  “Anyway, we went to Princess Square and got some great things and then I went into Hamleys and got the twins some birthday presents.  It was nice to not be recognized too,”  I told him quietly.  We had ventured onto Diagon Alley two days ago, and had to leave almost as soon as we got there.  The scene was chaos, people kept coming up, and they nearly knocked me over.  James and Remus apparated Sirius and me out of there as quickly as they could.  We had gone to order more robes -- everyday ones, Sirius needed Council and Wizengamot ones, and we needed dress robes for the ceremony on August 15.  We ended up just sending Madame Malkin our requests, and telling her to use the information and sizing that we had on file.

 

“I’m sure it was.  Did you find everything that you needed?”  he asked me and I smiled at him and bit my lip and nodded at him.  “Anwen, I don’t care how much money you spent.”

 

“That’s good, because I spent a fair amount; I mean, Ma had done well buying the children new clothes, but they didn’t really have any summer items, and I got Ethan a few things for school, since he doesn’t need to wear a uniform to his Reception Class.  You and I have next to nothing, if it wasn’t that Kreacher was able to do cleansing charms I don’t think we’d have enough undergarments to get through the week, and all of our clothes and shoes burned, and I’ve changed sizes again, and then the kids’ birthdays were coming...”

 

“Anwen, stop love,”  Sirius said, leaning over and kissing me.  “Please, tell me that you bought me some jeans at least, I’ve only got the one pair.”

 

“I did,”  I smiled at him.  “Even got the kind that make your bum look particularly nice,”  I teased him and he waggled his eyebrows at me.  “You ever planning on growing up and wearing adult clothes?”

 

“You mean, like wear robes every day and such.  Nope, no intention to look like your run of the mill Wizard my love,”  he teased me.  “What did you get for the kids, for their birthdays?”

 

“I got a little dollhouse for Jamie and a really cool airport playset for John, he’s been obsessed with airplanes since flying on them and for Edmund I got a little rocking horse.  I picked up a few other things as well, but those are their main gifts,”  I told him and he smiled at me.

 

“Who’d of thunk that we’d be buying our children Muggle toys, just to stay away from Diagon Alley?”  he teased me and I could feel my face fall.  “Anwen, it was a joke, I want them to understand the Muggle world, that’s where their Mummy came from,”  he told me crawling over to cover me and kiss me deeply.  “You seem much happier and more awake?”

 

“Yes..well...fine you were right...the lack of sleep was making it very hard on me.  I’m sleeping better, so I’m feeling better during the day.  If I’ve slept, I don’t seem to need the pain potions as much,”  I told him and he looked so smug about it.  “I said you were right, that doesn’t mean you should gloat about it.”

 

“No gloating, it’s just refreshing to see you happy and smiling again,”  he whispered as he kissed me again.  We were both starting to enjoy it too much, so I gently pulled away and pushed him up off of me.  “No point in getting started on something we can’t finish,”  I reminded him and he groaned.

 

“How much longer?”

 

“Didn’t say,”  I answered as I shrugged.  “I can ask Fleur when she comes over later.  It’s actually quite pleasant when she comes over and helps me with the whirlpool; plus we get to gossip in French, and no one knows what we’re saying,”  I said with a bite of my lip and a faraway glance.  Sirius just groaned again.  

 

“Don’t look at me that way.  You know it drives me crazy,”  he complained.

 

“I know,”  I said sounding overly innocent in the matter and then started giggling.  “To be honest, I would love a nap now.  Think you can help me up here love, or should I call Lily or James in?”

 

“Anwen,”  he huffed out, getting up off the couch and standing in front of me, his hands stretched out toward mine.  “I’m your husband, and I’m not an invalid.  Come on, I’ll even put your salve on before you fall asleep,”  he promised, linking his hands in mine and helping me rise from the couch.  

 

“I think you’re just trying to get my shirt off, Sirius Black.”

 

He just looked at me and cocked up his eyebrow and curled his lip, and I remembered why I always thought he was dangerous when we were at school together. I steadied myself, and then he wrapped an arm around my waist and walked very slowly next to me.  He started to steer me toward the hospital bed across the way, but I shook my head at him.

 

“How about if we use our bedroom, it’ll be quieter in there,”   I asked him and he smiled at me.  By the time I reached the edge of the bed, I was breathing heavily, but I was proud that I had made it that far, walking with only his arm around me for support.  I sat down on the edge of the bed, and Sirius released the prosthetic from the rest of my leg, and laid it next to the bed frame.  I used my left leg and arms to position myself more in the middle of the bed, lay down and rolled over onto my stomach.

 

“Love, you have to take the shirt off before I can apply the medication,”  he teased me, and I groaned as I had to sit back up again.  I quickly unbuttoned my blouse and slid it off, and then returned to my stomach.  The feel of his rough hands kneading the flesh of my back soon sent me into a rather blissful sleep.

 

 

 

“So, are you nervous about tomorrow,”  I called to him.  He was getting changed for bed in the dressing area around the corner from our bed, just off of the small loo that was attached to our bedroom.

 

“Not really,”  he said, coming back toward me, wearing nothing but his boxers.  I had to close my eyes and steady myself at the rush of my own lust that suddenly burst into my body.  He stopped and looked at me, sort of shocked, perplexed and amused. “Did you just send that to me?”

 

“I didn’t mean to,”  I said shaking my head.  “You just came in here, looking very handsome and well, gorgeous...and it just sort of happened,”  I tried to explain.   I can’t control my emotions, I’m certainly not going to be able to control my magical responses to them.  “I sort of feel like I did when I looked at you when we first got together,”  I explained, blushing at him.

 

“Anwen, I hardly look like I did when I was in school,”  he told me, his hand running up over his nearly bald head and down to the back of his neck.  He sat down on the bed, his back to me, both hands now resting atop his head.  I sat myself up, and used my arms to pull myself over to him, weaving my arms around him, and laying my cheek against his back.

 

“No, you are more handsome to me now than you ever were then,”  I whispered in his ear, then kissed the side of his face, not far from the scar that ran across it.    I brought my right arm up and traced from the beginning of the mark to the very end, and then the pad of my finger traced along his bottom lip, finally coming to rest on his left cheek, gently pushing him to turn his face toward me.  “That’s just the outward sign of the depth of your devotion to me,”  I told him, and then pulled him to kiss me.  It was awkward, my damaged right leg getting in the way, so that we really couldn’t get that close.  When the kiss ended, I scooted back and he climbed into the bed, and I curled up against him, leaning my head down on his chest, my cheek against the tattoo with my name on it, over his heart.

 

“I love you so,”  he whispered to me.

 

“Not as much as I love you,”  I replied.  “So, about tomorrow, any ideas who will be put forward for the Head of the Council, and therefore the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot?”

 

“The Bones Family is the oldest, but there’s no way that Susan would be made Chief Warlock, she’s only just turned 18.  I really think that James would be the best at it, his family is certainly old enough and he has the brains to do it,”  he told me and I smiled at him.  

 

“I believe that you’re right, you’re just going to have to convince him of that.  Remus and I were talking with him about it the other day, and he seemed hesitant at the idea,”  I told him and Sirius shifted himself, so that we were looking at each other.  He rested his forehead against mine.

 

“You know what would help that?”  he asked me, and I shook my head against him.  “If I told him that he could have the brightest and best Solicitor to be his personal counsel,”  he told me and I closed my eyes and pursed my lips.  “Anwen, stop.  I know that you want to spend time with the children, but they need you, King needs you and James is going to need you; if I can convince him that he’s the best one for this job.  Please, I know that you want to just lead a normal life, but you’re not the “normal life” kind of girl, you never have been,”  he told me and somewhere in my gut, I knew that he was right.  “We’ll do whatever we need to, hire a nanny if we need to, but you need to go back to work,”  he told me, rolling me so that my lips were nearly pressed against his.  “To whom much is given...” he whispered.

 

“That’s no fair, throwing my own grandmother’s words at me,”  I whispered back, closing the distance between us, and gently sucking his bottom lip between mine.  “You’ll have a lot more work at home if I go back.”

 

“Anwen, we’ll make it work,”  he promised me, kissing me again.  When we broke apart, I sighed and dropped my head against his chest.  “I’ll think about it.”

 

Sirius knew enough not to say anything, nor to gloat.  We lay there for a minute, just feeling the wonderful sensation of his skin against mine was enough to make my entire body hum.  “Fleur had an interesting idea tonight, when she was checking my leg after my soak,”  I started.

 

“Oh, and what was that?”  he asked as his fingers traced along my backbone, slipping underneath the thin fabric of the camisole that I had worn to bed with my little silk shorts.

 

“She thinks that if I start doing magic with a wand again, I might have better control over it.  I haven’t used a wand in like 17 years, Sirius, but I can see her point.  I would have to focus the magic through the wand, which would help immensely.  Do we even know where my wand is?”  I asked him, not remembering the last time I had used it, but I thought that it might have been when we were bound together when we were married.

 

“Is it still in the safe at Grimmauld?”  he asked and I made a sort of noncommittal noise at him.  “I’ll have Harry go over and check tomorrow, if it’s not there, I don’t know where it is.  Might have burned down at Fair Garden, since I didn’t find it when I had cleaned out the safe room.  Your jewelry box was in there, I brought it over here and put it in the Manor safe.  Wasn’t sure if you wanted to wear any of it for the ceremony on the 15th?”

 

“Maybe, one of the few times I could get away with wearing my wedding necklace,”  I teased him.  Really, there were few times in life that I could wear a golden lion cradling a ruby the size of my thumb in public, and not be accused of being ostentatious.   He let a little chuckle escape his chest, and I loved the way that it vibrated through my body.  Silence overtook us again, but it wasn’t uncomfortable; we had always been able to simply be in one another’s presence, and not feel the need to fill the silences.

 

“Love, I’d like to take a little vacation this summer, maybe after the ceremony,”  I told him and his hands reached over and hooked my hair behind my ear.

 

“Sounds lovely.  I assume that you want to bring the children?”

 

“I don’t want to be apart from them.”

 

“I didn’t think so,”  he whispered to me.  “Where would you like to go?  The kids enjoyed Madrid, and Paris was wonderful...”

 

“We'll see, I want to go somewhere warm.  The Potters might even want to come along, I'd love to take the kids to an amusement park.”  I told him, feeling my lips curl up at him.

 

“Anwen, what’s an amusement park?”  he questioned me and I propped myself up so that we could look at each other.

 

“Oh, Sirius, how did you make it through childhood without ever going to an amusement park?”  I shook my head at all of the fun things that my husband had missed out on because of his parents’ pure-blood, wizards–first mentality.  “It’s this place where there are all of these fun rides, and lots of really awful food and you eat too much, and play too much, and get too much sun and...I used to love to go with my parents when I was little.  My Da and I would ride every scary, fast ride and I’d hold my hands up off the bar and scream,”  I sighed remembering the fun.  “Ma would let us eat whatever we wanted, and dinner was just horrid, like greasy chips and ice cream, but it was only one day, and we’d leave the park like zombies...”

 

“What’s a zombie?”  He asked me and I broke out into giggles at him.

 

“Oh, darling, you’re going to learn about these things right along with our children.  They’re sort of like Inferi, in the sense that in American horror movies they’re reanimated dead bodies, but they aren’t at all scary or gross like the Inferi; they come off sort of silly.  They walk around moaning, with their arms sticking out in front of them...and they feed off human brains.  We’re going to rent a bunch of old movies, and I’m going to indoctrinate you to the wonders of the horror flick.  Dracula is still my favorite, there’s one that wasn’t made all that long ago, and there are waves of really fake looking blood all over it.”

 

“I read that book, silliest thing I’d ever read.  Real vampires are nothing like that,”  he told me with a very serious face.

 

“Well, I know that now, but as a kid, they were creepy and scary and a little sexy.  You want sex and Vampires, you have to see the Coppola one from a few years ago.  The guy who played Dracula, seriously hot.  Sort of reminds me of you,”  I teased my husband.

 

“How did we get from a family vacation to hot actors who played Dracula?”

 

“Not sure,”  I answered, leaning down to kiss him.  “But really, what do you think about taking a little vacation?”

 

“I think it sounds brilliant.  You sure you can handle your Ma for that long?”

 

“I’ll be fine; she’s really been a great help the last few weeks.  There’s no way she’s going home before the ceremony, anyway.  She’s way too proud, and King told me that Eira is going to be recognized, posthumously,”  I told him quietly, and I desperately wanted to change the mood.  “I’m so glad that I’m married to you, you’re more handsome than any actor out there,”  I gushed, and I kissed him deeply and then settled myself back down into the crook between his arm and chest.  “Sirius, I need you to take me somewhere.”

 

“Anywhere, you know that,”  he told me, and I had to think about how to phrase this.  “I want you to take me where you got your enchanted tattoos.  I think that I’d like another one,”  I said quietly.

 

“Really?”  he sort of coughed out.  I couldn’t look at him, not while I was explaining this.

 

“Yes,”  I told him quietly.  “I, we...we’ve been through hell and back.  It started when you fell through the veil and it only got worse from there...but we came through it.  I just need something on me, something that only you and I know where it is, to remind me that I am stronger, we are stronger, our love is stronger, than anything that the war threw at us,”  I closed my eyes to hold back the tears that were forming against my lids.

 

“Anwen, that’s...of course, I’ll take you,”  he said, holding me closer to him and kissing the crown of my head.  “Maybe we can get matching ones.”

 

“I’d like that,”  I smiled back.

 

“Any thought about what you’d like, or where?”

 

“For the what, no, not yet.  For the where, I’m not sure, but I was thinking maybe on my upper thigh or hip; where you and I are the only ones who would see it.”

 

“Anwen, that would be...well, let’s just say that I can’t think of anything sexier.”

 

“Oh, well then, I won’t tell you about the one that I’ve toyed with for years.  Maybe I’ll do them both,”  I teased him, and then started humming a little tune.

 

“You can’t just tell me that and then say nothing else.  What have you been toying with?”

 

“I’ve often thought that Padfoot needed to leave his paw print on me...just above his favorite place to...sink into his beautiful lake,”  I told him, rolling over so that I was lying on his chest, giving him my most mischievous grin.  He looked at me utterly gobsmacked.

 

“You would want my paw print...on your...Anwen that’s...ohmymerlin that would be...”  Speech seemed to have escaped my husband, and he simply leaned down and kissed me deeply, his tongue dancing in my mouth.  I could feel how much the idea had impressed him, he was ready to jump out of his shorts.  My fingers traced down his chest and I took the matter in hand, as his hands grabbed my bum inside of my shorts.

 

“Anwen, can we...do this?”

 

“Fleur said as long as I’m not too tired, there’s no reason we can’t try,”  I told him slyly, and he crashed down into me again, flipping me over in the bed and covering me soundly with his body.  I couldn’t believe how good I felt to have him on me, touching me, kissing me.  It had been far too long since we had been together, but now, it felt wonderful.

 

His hand slid down my side and caressed my back side and it wasn’t until it slipped lower and touched my right thigh that I got uneasy.  His hand touched the area where the metal nubs stuck out to attach my fake leg and I pushed him away.  “Don’t touch that,”  I said, unable to hold back my tears of anger and disgust.  “Please don’t touch that part of me,”  I whispered.

 

“Anwen, does it hurt?”

 

“No, it doesn’t hurt, not really,”  I told him, looking away.  When I turned my head back to his, he just looked at me confused.  “It’s just ugly and disgusting, and you shouldn’t have to touch it,”  I said through my tears.  I hid my face with my hands.  “You shouldn’t have to touch that,”  I whispered again.  

 

“Love, I don’t understand,”  he whispered, his lips on the crown of my head.

 

“I’m...” fresh tears fell down my face, and Sirius wiped them away, again kissing my temple.  “I’m damaged.  You shouldn’t have to touch that.”

 

“Hey, love, look at me,”  he pleaded with me, but I wouldn’t move my face, so he shifted so that he was directly over me, his hands coming to hold the sides of my face.  “Anwen, I don’t care about your leg; as long as I’m not causing you pain, I could care less whether it’s there or not.  As for it being ugly; I have a scar that runs the length of my face, but I try not to look at it, because my beautiful and courageous wife keeps telling me that I’m handsome.  This,”  he said, his hands leaving my hand and firmly grasping the end of my thigh.  I winced at his touch.  “This is just one more thing that you’ve overcome; and it makes me so proud to be your husband.  I love you, all of you, even this.”

 

I looked up at him, and I couldn’t even form words, I was just overwhelmed by what he had just said.  I wove my arms up around his neck and pulled him down to me, kissing him fiercely.  His right hand left my face, and slid under my camisole, gently playing with my breast; his left continuing to caress what remained of my leg.  I was getting overwhelmed at the feelings, the desire and longing were becoming so strong that it was overwhelming me, and I knew that it was flowing out onto Sirius, as his was looping back on me.  Then I felt it, my hands started to prickle with magic and I was having a hard time controlling it.  I lifted my hands from Sirius, and was able to point them away from him just before the magic discharged from me, blowing a hole in the wall not far from our bed.  Sirius quickly rolled off of me, staring at the hole that led to the yard behind the house.  We immediately heard the kids crying, and little feet hitting the floor as the oldest four got up out of bed.  

 

Sirius quickly got up and went to put something on as we heard adult footsteps in the little hall that all of the bedrooms were off of.  James and Lily were in the doorway of our bedroom, and I could hear my Ma and Da going to comfort the children.

 

“What the hell happened?”  James asked and Sirius came back out to stand in front of his friend.

 

“Anwen had an accidental discharge of magic, sort of blew the wall out,”  he explained and James looked at me, puzzled while Lily came over to sit on the bed next to me.

 

“What were you doing?”  Lily asked me, picking up my hands to look at them.  They were still sort of tingling from the magic.   I looked at her and tried to convey what was going on without having to spell it out.  “Oh, um, did you, um, finish?”

 

“We weren’t even close,”  I told her and she looked at me surprised.  

 

“Um, perhaps you need to talk with the healers about this.  It you can blow a hole in the wall without...um...completion maybe completion isn’t something you should be contemplating just yet,”  she said and I nodded at her, mortified and embarrassed.  Thankfully James chose to say nothing, and instead went about fixing the hole.  I pulled the sheets up tighter around me, given the fact that I wasn’t wearing much more than underwear.  “I think we’re going to have to step up your magical practice; clearly the suppression isn’t working, and if this is what’s going to happen when you discharge, well, I don’t think the house will stand i.,”  I nodded at her, feeling like an idiot.

 

Ma and Da brought the kids in, and we got them calmed down.  Ma and Lily put them all back into their beds for me, and once again I wondered how I would ever keep up with our kids now.  When everyone was gone, I slumped back into the bed, curling up on my side; away from Sirius.  He slid into the bed and put his arms around me.  “Do you want to talk about it?”

 

“No...yes.  I’m just mortified, we were barely doing anything and that much power burst out of me.  Sirius, what am I going to do?  I have no control over my magic.”

 

“There must be someone who can help, maybe you need to go and talk with Albus’ portrait about it,”  he suggested and I shrugged.

 

“Maybe.  I wish Perenelle were here, she’d have some idea what I needed to do,”  I told my husband.  Even though she had been dead for well over five years, rarely did a day go by that I did not miss Perenelle Flamel, my friend and mentor and the only other projecting visualist that I had ever known.

 

“Ssh, don’t think about it now.  We’ll figure something out; your magic was out of control while we were in India, and you were able to get it back then; we’ll figure out a way,”  he promised, hugging me tighter.  My sleep that night was fitful and I awoke several times, always having a dream about where I couldn’t control my magic and I ended up hurting someone that I cared about, usually one of my children.

 

 

 

 

 


Chapter 4: Chapter 3: Summer Winds of Change
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Chapter 3:

Summer Winds of Change

 

Anwen POV:

 

“Hey Aunt Winnie,”  I heard Harry yell as he walked out onto the back patio of the Manor.  I had actually walked myself all of the way out here, Tonks walking beside me, but I walked and was now stretched out on the chaise, watching the children playing in the sandbox that James had built in the backyard.  Tonks was sitting with me, watching both Edmund and Teddy napping in their play yards in the shade.

 

“Over here Harry,”  I called back to him and he and Ginny pulled up chairs to join us.

 

“Here you go, it was in the safe at Grimmauld,”  he said, handing me my wand.  It was still wrapped in the scarf that I had placed it in over a decade ago.  “That’s one really short wand, Aunt Winnie.”

 

“You know, your godfather once picked on me for the size of my wand, and I reminded him it isn’t the size of the wand, it’s the skill of the user.  Given the volume and unpredictability of my magical level right now, I wouldn’t be teasing me, little man,”  I said back with a sly smile.

 

“Yeah, yeah.  I still remember when you repelled Dad halfway across the ballroom when I was a kid.  That was awesome.  Have you heard anything yet?”  he asked me and I shook my head at him.

 

“No, not yet, it’s still early though.  Your Mum’s a nervous wreck in there, baking up a storm to try and quiet herself.  I’m quite sure she was more concerned about the vote than your father was,”  I told him and he nodded at me.

 

“They’re gonna make Dad the new Chief, I just know it, don’t know what all the worry is about.” he said calmly, wrapping an arm around Ginny.  “Aunt Winnie, what’s Ethan doing over there?”  Harry asked me, and I turned my attention to my five–year–old son, who was sitting on the edge of the sandbox, staring at Fawkes the Phoenix, who had taken up residence with us after Albus’ death a year ago.

 

“I’m not quite sure.  He’s always been quite taken with the bird, even when he was a baby.  Albus would often have Fawkes flash him over so that Ethan could visit with his Dumbwy,”  I explained.  “Ethan honey, what are you doing?”  I called over to the little boy.  He got up and grabbed Fawkes by the tail feathers and immediately was flashed over to where we were all sitting.  

 

“Hi Mummy, I was talking with Dumbwy’s bird.  He’s interesting to talk to,”  Ethan explained to me.

 

“Really, you can talk with Fawkes?”  I asked him.  Up until this point, I was the only one who could converse with the bird; and we had all assumed that it was due to my falcon animagus.

 

“Oh yes, he talks to me a lot.  He even comes into my room some nights and tells me bedtime stories about my Dumbwy,”  Ethan explained, petting Fawkes gently on the head.  “He says you need to have him sip, syep, hold on, I can’t remember what he said,”  Ethan turned his head and looked eye to eye at the gold and red bird, and then turned back to me.  “He says you should just talk to him.”

 

I was a bit dumbstruck by the turn of events.  Fawkes hadn’t said a word to me since the final battle at Hogwarts.  He had sung a few times, especially in those first days that I was back here, before the children were home; but he hadn’t talked to me at all.  In the last year I had become accustomed to his presence, albeit silent.   I turned and looked at the bird and heard his gentle voice in my head.

 

“You can siphon off my magic?  Really?”  I asked him, and then I heard him speaking in my head again.  “Um, all right.  Should we wait until James or Lily or someone is here, just to make sure that I don’t accidentally blow up the house again?”  I doubted that I would ever live down the nightmare that was last night.  Honestly, I get a little worked up from kissing Sirius and I blow a hole in the wall.

 

“Okay, I’m sure that they’re agreeable,”  I commented to Fawkes and then turned to Harry.  “Apparently you and Tonks are more than capable of putting a shield around me.  Care to throw a protego over us?  Ginny, would you go over with the kids and make sure that they stay away from us for a few minutes?”

 

“Sure, Aunt Winnie,”  Ginny replied, getting up and walking over to the sandbox, Ethan in tow.  “Okay, Fawkes, let’s get this show on the road,”  I said to the bird, and both Tonks and Harry had drawn their wands and had silently cast the spell around me.   I watched as Fawkes pulled some of the excess magic off of me, and sort of swallowed it down.  We sat there in silence for a minute of so after he was done, and then he told me that it was over; and he’d do it again in another week or so.

 

“He said that he’s finished, and that everything is all right,”  I conveyed to the others, and I watched as their shields disappeared.  Immediately Ethan ran back over, apparently called over by Fawkes.  I turned and looked at the bird again, asking it a rather pressing question through our silent conversation.  I wasn’t sure that I was happy with the answer that I got.  I furrowed my brow and bit my lip.

 

“What’s go you so upset, Win?  Your magic level is nearly normal,”  Tonks said, waving her wand over me in an intricate pattern.  Magical level reading was something that I had taught all of my first year Auror candidates.  I shook her off, this was something that I needed to discuss with Sirius first.

 

We sat and talked for a while longer, and I did my therapy outside when Rachel arrived.  She was quite pleased to see that my magical level was back to near normal, and immediately fire called Healer Orlaf to come and inspect me.  He and Fleur arrive a little while later.

 

“I’ve never heard of such a thing, but then again, most people don’t have a phoenix living in their homes,”  he quipped and I nodded in agreement.  “Let’s have you try and do some basic spell work, shall we?”  he asked me, and I picked up the bundle that held my wand and unwrapped it.  “What is a spell that you’re completely comfortable with?”

 

“Well, if I’m doing it with a wand, there won’t be any; I haven’t used one in like 13 years,”  I explained, and the Healer gave me a rather irritated look.  “Um, I guess my Patronus.  I’ve been doing it since I was 15.”

 

“All right then, let’s see if you can produce a shield,”  he told me, and I looked at Harry and Ginny who had both covered their mouths to keep from laughing at the idea.  I held the wand in my left hand and raised it and thought of the spell, and the message that I wanted to convey.  Immediately a very bright, yellowy gold Griffin burst from the end of my wand and bounded to the ground.  She turned and looked at me, and then took off in flight and soared into the house.  Quickly thereafter, there was the sound of dishes crashing to the floor in the kitchen.

 

“I think Lily might have been surprised there, Win,”  Tonks teased me as the back door flew open and Lily came out, wiping her hands on her apron, flour dusted across her face and hair.

 

“Anwen, was that...you did magic...without destroying anything...” she stammered, and I nodded at her.  She took off in a full sprint across the patio toward me, grabbing me by the shoulders.  “What happened?”

 

“Well, see, Fawkes told Ethan that I needed to let him siphon off some of my magic,”  I explained.  “Siphon off your magic,” was the first part of the sentence that Lily questioned, and I nodded at her, waiting for the second.  “Fawkes told Ethan?”

 

“Yes, I need to talk with Sirius,”  I told her and she nodded at me.  “Wow.”

 

“Like, duh, Mum,”  Harry teased her as he went over and put an arm around his mother.  He now stood a good half foot taller than her, and was lean and willowy; as tall as his father, but less stocky.

 

“Just because you’re bigger than me young man, doesn’t mean that I’m still not your Mother, and I have no problem hexing that mouth of yours.  Soap bubbles are soap bubbles, regardless of how they get there,”  she chastised him.  Savior of the Wizarding world, and he still couldn’t give his mother lip.

“Sorry Mum, didn’t mean to be disrespectful,” he said, knowing full well that his mother wouldn’t take anything from him.  Ginny was working hard to keep from giggling at her boyfriend.

 

“I have no problem washing your mouth out either young lady,”  she said eying Ginny and the young girl immediately quieted herself.  “Now, Aunt Winnie needs to finish her therapy, and your father and uncle should be home soon; at least I hope they will be.  How about if you’re helpful here and get things cleaned up so that we can eat lunch out here?”

 

“Sure Mum, love you,”  Harry said, kissing his mother on the head.

 

“I love you to, my precious boy,” she told him, putting a hand on his cheek.  It was sweet to watch Harry with his parents.  He’s a man, and yet, he’ll always be her little boy and James’ favorite playmate.

 

Rachel made me walk two more laps, only holding onto my cane, and by the time I was done, I was drenched with sweat and exhausted.

 

“Mrs. Black, you’re doing remarkable.  I already told Michael that you’re ready for the phase two leg.  How about if we take tomorrow off, as long as you promise to take a few good laps around the house for me?”  Rachel said, and I nodded at her.

 

“I weel make zure zhe dohse the exzeherzizes,”  Fleur said, and I smiled at her.   You know, she could just come over and we could talk clothes, or who’s dating whom, but no, we get to exercise.

 

“All right then, I’ll see you next week.  Have a good weekend,”  Rachel said, and Lily walked her out.

 

“Anwen, sit down, I want to look over the rest of you, and do a detailed magical reading,”  Healer Orlaf said.  I sat back down on one of the deck chairs, and he passed his wand over me.  “Your lungs look a little better, and your kidney is gaining strength,”  he said.  He passed the wand over me again, and I watched as he scowled.  “Mrs. Weasley, please inspect this area here,”  he said, pointing to my lower abdomen.  Fleur did as she was instructed, and she too scowled.

 

“I zink zhat ve zhould vatch zhat,”  she said.  “Eet may ztill recover.”

 

“What now?”  I said, not liking the looks on their faces.

 

“Nothing to worry yourself about right now.  Your magical level is good, and you seem to be managing the pain.  I’m going to have you go down to pain medication only in the morning and at night, unless you are in need, then by all means use more.  Since you can get up and move around, only have Mrs. Potter clear your kidneys at night,”  I nodded at him with a smile, thankful that I was regaining some sense of dignity.  “I’m also adding the monthly potion back into your mix.  Mrs. Weasley informed me of your conversation, and this way you’re prepared.”

 

“Yeah, we’ll just make sure that you’re out in the open, so that the walls stay up on the house,”  Tonks teased me.

 

“What?”  the healer asked, and I was forced to recount the rather disastrous evening that Sirius and I had.  “With your magical level closer to normal, that shouldn’t be such a problem.  However, to be safe, maybe you should have someone cast a shield over you.”

 

“Great, that will really add to the romance of the event,”  I joked, actually feeling quite mortified at the whole thing.

 

“Okay, let’s just check your back,”  he asked, and I leaned forward.  He looked down the neck of my blouse, gingerly touching a few of the scars.  “I won’t even ask if they hurt, because it’s unlikely that they wouldn’t.  Continue with the salve, and please, only wear loose clothing.  I would hate for the scars that remain to get ripped off, and we’d have to start over.”

 

“I understand.  We went out and did some shopping yesterday, and everything that I bought was loose fitting,”  I explained.

 

“Well, I will be back tomorrow to look at Mr. Black, but it seems like you might be on the mend there, Anwen,”  he said with a gentle smile.   He handed me my paper, with the revised instructions on my care and potions.  “Start doing some basic spell work, or talking Patronuses if it makes you feel better; but make sure that you’ve got another witch or wizard with you, just to be safe.  Phoenix siphoned off the magic, can’t wait to tell Ewan about that one.”

 

I smiled at my healer as he left the house; no one bothered to walk him out anymore; he was here three or four times a week.  It was nearly lunch time, so Fleur decided to stay, and we began talking about what we thought might be happening at the Ministry today, and the latest gossip from Gringotts.

 

“How long unteel zhose two are married?”  Fleur asked, looking over at Harry and Ginny who were now getting their brooms out, and helping the older children with theirs.

 

“Six months,”  Tonks said.

 

“Naw, Molly will kill him if Ginny doesn’t graduate.  Lily and James want Harry to go back too, have a normal year of school before he saves the bureaucratic world,”  I mused.  “I say a year and a half, winter of next year.  Ginny always told me that she wanted to be married on New Year’s Eve, just like Sirius and I were.  Heck, they’ll probably end up with a Ministry wedding as well,”  I joked, shuddering at the thought.  At least she’ll have me to help her through it if they do.

 

Sirius POV:

 

It was mid–afternoon before James and I returned from the Ministry.  He had sent word to the Manor after the meeting, letting them know the news that he had indeed been made the new Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, and that we had accepted a luncheon invitation from the Minister of Magic.  We escaped the prying eyes and ears of London, and returned to the pub in Ireland that Anwen and I had gone to with King and Amelia.  Lily and James were celebrating with Harry and the Lupins in the Sitting Room, and I went to find Anwen.

 

When I reached the doorway to our little flat, what I saw made me pause.  Anwen was sitting on the hospital bed; her eyes closed, left leg crossed as best as she could over her right stump, the artificial leg lying on the bed next to her.  Her back so straight that it looked positively painful given the scars across it.  She had some soft music playing from her CD player, and I recognized the cello immediately.  Her hands were glowing softly with her magic and she was moving them in the air, manipulating them much the way she did when she sang.  I marveled as I watched her magically remove the petals from some daisies from the garden and then made the petals spin and twirl in the air.   I haven’t watched her do elemental magic since Harry was young and she was teaching him.  She and James are both so strong in it, and they were opposites -- she strong in earth and wind; he strong in fire and water.  

 

The music transitioned again, this time to a light and happy tune that I knew Anwen could play on the violin.  I watched as she directed the petals to dance to the music, her own little private botanical ballet.  It was enrapturing to watch her, and I wondered why her eyes were closed, and she wasn’t enjoying the frolic that the petals were playing before her.

 

“You know, I was told as a child that it’s impolite to linger in doorways without announcing yourself,”  she teased me, her eyes still closed.  I took a step into the room, still in my Council robes, but quickly removing the medallion and laying it down on the rocking chair, along with the hat that went with the robes.  

 

“How did you...”  I started as I was unfastening the blue robe, and laying it on the chair as well.  Anwen opened her eyes and smiled her knowing smile at me.

 

“I could feel you there.  It was nice to feel you happy and in awe of me,”  she said with tilt of her head.  “Nice shirt,”  she added sarcastically.  I was wearing an Oliver Wood Puddlemere United Quidditch jersey.  Harry and I had gone down to see his old housemate play last week.  I chose to ignore her comment.  I wore the darned robes Winnie, what’s under them is my business.

 

“Elemental magic?  I haven’t seen you do any in quite a while.  Wait a minute, you’re doing wandless magic, and there isn’t a path of destruction in your wake?”  I asked her, surprised and delighted.  I climbed up onto the bed and gently kissed her hello.  She lowered her hands and the petals fluttered to the comforter, and then she lifted her wand and waved it over the flower parts, and immediately they were restored to their original shape.  She picked the flowers up and put them back into the small vase at the side of the bed.

 

“I had a rather interesting morning, but it’s going to take a while to explain.  Why don’t you tell me about yours first,”  she suggested, but I shook my head at her.

 

“Um, no,”  she just cocked her head at me, and I could tell that she was expecting a report before I got any news from her.  “Fine, James was made Chief, the vote was unanimous, even Augusta couldn’t complain about it.  Spent most of the morning figuring out which of the laws that were passed just before the fall and during Voldy’s reign needed to be overturned immediately.  We passed 72 edicts this morning, only 8 need Wizengamot approval, so the whole assembly will meet tomorrow.  You’ve got your work cut out for you.”

 

“I don’t,”  she shook her head at me.  “At least not until James asks me.  If I’m going to work for him, he’s got to officially employ me, no making assumptions.  How are you feeling?  It’s been a long day for you,”  she said, bringing her hand up to me, and kissing me again.

 

“Winnie, I’m fine.  I want to know how you’re doing magic without, well, any problems.”

 

I watched as she took a deep breath and looked away.  I always love when she’s trying to get her thoughts together.  The music on the CD changed again, and she closed her eyes and allowed herself to be engulfed by the sumptuous sound.  Normally, I would have just let her enjoy her music, it was enthralling to watch her listen to music, but I really wanted answers.  “Uh, Winnie, magic.”

 

“Sorry, well, we were outside, Tonks, Ginny, Harry, all the kids and I.  Harry had brought me back my wand,”  she told me, again picking it up and rolling it between her fingers.  I had always loved the way her wand looked, the handle had a mermaid carved into it, and it appeared to have waves twining their way up the body of it.  The pale Silver Birch wood was stained in such a way that it closely resembled her hair.  That wand just looks like it belongs with my beloved wife.  “It’s strange to have it again,”  she confessed, and I nodded my understanding to her.  “We looked over and Fawkes was in the yard, staring at Ethan.”

 

“Okay, what was Ethan doing?”

 

“Staring at Fawkes.  I asked Ethan what they were doing, and he told me that they were talking and Fawkes said he should siphon off some of my magic,”  she told me and then stopped.  Wait, Fawkes was talking with our five year old?  How was Ethan talking with Fawkes?   I could feel my mouth hanging open, and I was making some rather strangled noises from in my throat.

 

“How was Fawkes talking to Ethan?”  I was finally able to get out.

 

“I’ll get to that in a minute.  I called Fawkes over, and he explained to me that he could siphon the excess magic off.  I was quite gobsmacked at that point, but I went with it.  Harry and Tonks put up shields and I watched as he sort of sucked it off and swallowed it.  Tonks then checked my magic, and it was close to what would be normal.  When the healer came by, he confirmed it.  Who knew the answer to our problem was already in the house?”

 

“Okay, um, has anyone ever tried having a phoenix siphon magic off before?”

 

“Not that I’m aware of, and from the look on Healer Orlaf’s face, I don’t think he knew of it either.  Another medical journal article will be written about me, yeah,”  she said sarcastically.  She had teased that she was now as well written about in the medical field as she was in the educational one.

 

“Wow, that’s...you know, on any normal day that would be the thing that I was impressed with; but I can’t seem to wrap my mind around the fact that our son was talking with Albus’ phoenix.”

 

“That’s the thing,”  she said, exhaling quickly.  “It would seem that he isn’t Albus’ phoenix anymore.  Fawkes told me that he’s chosen Ethan.  He chose even before Albus’ death.  Guess we don’t have to worry that Ethan’s a squib,”  she teased, knowing that Phoenixes will only bond with witches and wizards.   Actually, they have to be powerful witches or wizards.  Wow, what does this say about Ethan’s future abilities?

 

“Anwen, we already knew that.  Do you remember what he did to the kitchen when he didn’t want to eat his spinach?”

 

“Yes.” We both chuckled at the memory of the bowl of spinach all over the walls and ceiling.  The only one not wearing any was Ethan.  “Albus must have known before he died,”  she sighed.  “Yet another thing that he was keeping from us.  What are we going to do?”

 

I shrugged at her, I wasn’t sure what would happen now, I wasn’t even sure I knew that much about phoenixes.  “That’s what the Elemental practice is for?”  She nodded at me.  “I’ll have James test him, see which areas he’s strongest in, and we can start his training sooner rather than later.  I think I need to have a conversation with Fawkes as well.  Knowing Ethan, as soon as he figures out that Fawkes has chosen him, he’ll begin getting the bird to do things for him.  Get him things that he wants, regardless of what we’ve said; and can you imagine what will happen the first time we send him to his room?  He’ll have his phoenix flash him out of there.  I could give Albus a piece of my mind right now.  He could have warned us.”

 

Anwen was getting agitated, and I heard the glass in the windows rattling.  “Winnie, honey, calm down.  James doesn’t want to have to repair every window in the house.”  She groaned and folded herself over on the bed, her head between her legs.  The windows stopped rattling and she pulled herself back into a sitting position.  “The kids napping?”

 

“Yes,”  she told me shaking her head.  “Harry and Ginny had the older ones flying again.  They’re always worn out after they’ve been flying.”

 

“How about you?  You look like you could lie down?”  I asked her with a waggle of my eyebrows.

 

“Sleep, yes; shag, not right now.  How about if you ply my back with that smelly stuff, and I’ll rest as well?  My head is going at a mile a minute now,”  she said and I indicated that I would most definitely do so.  It took no time before she was out too, and I lay there holding her, wondering just how many other surprises we were in for from our children.

 

 

Remus POV:

 

“You’re serious, Winnie?” I needed confirmation here, because it was surreal that little Ethan was chosen by a phoenix, and yet, it was apparently true.

 

“Completely,” she quipped.  Dear Lord in heaven, help us if their children are more powerful than she is, because it’s already obvious that they have their father’s sense of humor.  Everyone was out on the patio, enjoying the night.  Lily had arranged an impromptu party to celebrate James’ ascension to Chief and the whole Weasley family, several Aurors, teachers from Hogwarts and our whole extended family were here.  “You know, I should just get the twins’ gifts out now and celebrate tonight, it seems silly to have everyone else come back in two days.”

 

“No, let them have their day later, anyway, I happen to know that Hermione and Ron have something cooked up for them that has to wait for a few more days,”  I told her and she looked at me through partially closed eyes.

 

“Should I be scared?

 

“Nah,”  I told her shaking my head.  “Hermione did most of it.  So, when do you start work?”

 

“I don’t have a job.”

 

“What?  I thought that part of the deal was if James became Chief, you were going to be his personal solicitor?”  I asked her and she got that Marauder smile that she had adopted from her husband.

 

“Well, the agreement was that I would take the job when it was offered.  However, Mr. Potter has not offered me the job yet, so, I do not have a job.”

 

“Sneaky, Winnie; very sneaky,”  I told her, returning her mischievous smile.  “You look very happy, are you really?  No regrets about your leg?”  I hadn’t ever talked with her about it, not since that first day just after she woke up from the coma.

 

“No,”  she told me, her gentle eyes looking into mine, and I remembered why she had been my confidant all these years, there was never anything but love and respect when I looked at her.  “Do I wish that it hadn’t happened?  Of course, I miss my leg; but they assure me that someday I will walk and run and that things will be nearly normal.  You’re still unsure, aren’t you?”

 

“I hate when you are so perceptive,”  I told her and she cocked her head and shrugged her shoulders.  “I just wish that I’d fought harder to make them save it.  I know that you’re all right with it, and it doesn’t seem to bother Sirius, but...”

 

“Stop it right now, you’re not going to take all the blame for this.  I would have died, of that I am sure.  If you don’t believe me, ask Sirius.  You have to let go of this, you’re making yourself old before your time with all your worrying,”  she ordered me, and I nodded in understanding.  James and Sirius walked over, and pulled up chairs.  Sirius putting a protective arm around Anwen.

 

“So, you’re back to doing magic, huh?  Need me to reinforce the walls in your bedroom?”  James teased her, and Sirius went to say something, but before he could, Anwen raised her hand and James wand flew into it.

 

“James, dear, I’m allowed to do spell work again, but,”  she paused for effect, “I could, however, be a tad unpredictable.  Now, I’m supposed to start with spells that I learned early on, and I seem to remember a hex that I was quite good at in school, one that you have some personal knowledge of.  Seems to be that it makes a certain area of one’s, um, posterior swell to an uncomfortable size.  Now, I might just not quite get my aim correct, or I could do it a little too, uh, vigorously and you’re without your wand...” she stopped and looked at him.  Sirius and I were laughing so hard at her, and Harry and Bill had walked over and heard what she was saying, and they too were laughing as she twirled James wand between her fingers.  “Perhaps, a more prudent path would be one where you are not picking on the little bad ass witch sitting across from you,”  she added with a cocked eyebrow that would make her husband proud.

 

“Fine, fine, no more jokes about blowing the wall out.  May I have my wand back, please?”  he asked, and Anwen suspended it in mid air and then wigged her fingers so that it sailed on the breeze back to him.  “Elemental magic?”  he quizzed her as he put it away in the holster, where he knew it belonged, not in his pocket.  Winnie, always did like to remind us of these things.

 

“I started with a little wind work this afternoon, after the Healer was here.  I think it’s time that we start training the boys, maybe even the girls,”  she added and James nodded at her.

 

“Are you both Elementals?”  Bill asked and I watched as Anwen and James nodded.

 

“You should see the two of them in action, it’s pretty cool.  They taught me how to do it as a kid.  Only time I used it frequently was when I would break into the potions cupboards and move everything around,”  Harry joked and we all looked at him.  “Look, I couldn’t stand Professor Snape in school and I had to do something about it, he was a bloody git; but if I used my wand he would have figured out it was me, so I used my water skills to freeze the lock and have it pop open, and then used wind to rearrange the cabinets,”  Harry said, both proud and somewhat ashamed of what he was doing.

 

“I’m so glad that we spent all that time teaching you,”  his father said rather upset.  Sirius however, was brimming with pride.

 

“That’s my godson -- Marauder through and through,”  he crowed and Anwen slapped his shoulder.  “What?”

 

“Harry, please don’t share that story with your siblings or cousins, please?”  she begged the young Wizard and he nodded.

 

“No problem.  So, when do the two of you start?”  Harry asked and I looked over at Anwen, who had a sly smile on her lips.

 

“We have to meet with Auror Uline tomorrow to see whose case is the closest to being ready for trial.  I think we should be in to the office by nine tomorrow, all right Winnie?”  James said, turning to look at her.

 

“I don’t have a job, James,”  she said calmly.

 

“Wait, whoa, when I agreed to my being elected, it was on the understanding that you would be helping me.  What happened?”  he asked her, clearly upset.  Sirius had turned his head away, obviously in on what Anwen was doing as well.  I pointedly looked at Bill and Harry, who were both confused.  Anwen just sat there looking at him.  “Anwen, come on, I don’t have a mind for this stuff, and I don’t know any of the Aurors at all, and I like the Minister, but I really don’t know him, not like you do; and then there’s all this law stuff...”  he rambled on, and she just kept looking at him, the same sly smile on her face.

 

“I believe that the agreement was that if you were elected, I would consent when asked,”  she said calmly and I watched as James considered what she had just said.  The understanding dawned on him.

 

“Anwen Hodgson-Black, would you please do me the honor of coming to work as my personal solicitor and legal counsel at the Ministry of Magic?” he asked her very formally, and Anwen smiled brightly at him.

 

“Of course, my dear friend, thank you for asking.  I shall be ready to leave a little before nine, but I cannot stay the whole day.  I am far too weak for that.  If it would please you, I shall do the majority of my work from home for the next months,”  she said and James nodded at her.

 

“Winnie, you could do it in your pajamas, from your bed,  while having Sirius paint your toenails for all I care, as long as you promise that you’ll help me,”  he told her and she looked at him mortified.

 

“James, I told you that while I was half drugged out of my mind.  No fair bringing it up in mixed company,”  she yelped at him, a wicked blush creeping up from her neck to her face.  Sirius looked at her surprised and delighted at once, and Anwen hid her head in her hands.  “Never mind,”  she whimpered.

 

“Oh, love, you have to tell me,”  Sirius said, his hand gently caressing the area of her neck at her hairline.  Anwen just kept shaking her head.  “I’ll just ask Prongs, you know he’ll tell me.”

 

“Not if he knows what’s good for him he won’t”  Anwen answered, lifting her head to look at him, her eyes cold and a little scary.  Lily quickly rushed over, interrupting Sirius from trying to figure out how to get this story out of Winnie.

 

“Remus, we have to go.  Betty Weston called, and there’s been a child dropped off at the hospital with a werewolf infection.  James, Hermione and Ginny agreed to help you put the kids to bed.  Sirius, Anwen, she asked if you would come along, your Mum already said she’d take care of the kids.  There’s something Betty needs to ask you.  Her message said that she knew it was late, and that you’re both recovering; but that it’s quite urgent.”

 

I watched as they both nodded, and Sirius helped Anwen up, and held her as she got her balance.  “Do you want your cane, or the wheelchair?”  he asked her and she shook her head.

 

“Between you and Remus I should be fine.  If it gets to be too bad, you can always carry me,”  she teased her husband and he nodded his head greedily to which Anwen just shook hers as we headed toward the Floo fireplace.

 

 


Chapter 5: Chapter 4: Beautiful Star
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Chapter 4:

The Beautiful Star

 

Sirius POV:

 

I heard her gentle voice before I saw her, but I knew what I would find as I padded from our bed as the first glimmers of the golden morning light streamed into the windows. Anwen’s beautiful voice was softly singing the lullaby I had heard so many times before. She was sitting on the chaise, the tiny dark haired baby in her arms, singing her to sleep. I treaded in softly, as to not awaken the resting infant.

 

Who would bite a three month old infant? The question was still rattling around in my brain, had been since we left hospital last night with the little girl. Okay, well we know who, but what would drive a creature to do such a thing? I can’t even call him a man anymore, Greyback was more monster now; looking like a half man-half wolf even when there wasn’t a full moon; but really, a defenseless baby? I sat down across from Anwen and she looked up at me and smiled that beautiful, loving smile that always let me know that she was blissfully happy.

 

“How’s she doing?” I asked quietly, and my wife looked down at the sleeping infant, moving the blanket so that I could see her precious little face, eyes closed, mouth in a little “o”, sucking away on her lip.

 

“She’s doing fine. Slept for about six hours when we got her home last night, and then woke up, took a whole bottle and just fell back to sleep. I was able to slip her potions into her bottle without a whimper,” Anwen cooed at the little girl. “I don’t understand how her parents could have just left her at hospital like that, abandoning her?”

 

“I know honey, but they said that she showed up right after the full moon this month. Her parents probably didn’t know how to deal with her, and thought this would be best,” I reminded her. She’s with us because there aren’t many families who would know what to do with an infant infected with Lycanthropy. Anwen had signed us up to be foster parents shortly after the first war, when we were having trouble getting pregnant. Who knew that it would be ten years later that we would be pressed into service in that role?

 

“I understand that, but I can’t imagine ever leaving one of my children...” she stopped. I never doubted just how much my wife loved our children, or any child she had come into contact with. I think she’d admit that she loved this little girl as well, even though we’d only known her for twelve hours. “But, she’s here now, isn’t she?”

 

“That she is, but, Winnie, honey; she might not stay, you know that, right?” I questioned. She lifted her verdant eyes and smiled at me. 

 

“I know my darling, but for as long as this little star is with us, I will love and care for her as if I gave birth to her myself,” she cooed at the little girl, brushing aside her dark hair and kissing her forehead. “I wonder what the other children will say when they get up?”

 

“Lilyan and Jamie will be thrilled with another girl, Ethan and John won’t care and Edmund will wonder why there’s someone smaller than him on your lap,” I told her and she smiled at me and nodded with a little laugh. 

 

“I don’t doubt that you’re right. We’ve done the right thing, haven’t we? James will be able to control Remus okay on his own for a while, so that you can be with little Stella?”

 

“James will be fine, we both know that Remus is very quiet on the Wolfsbane, in fact, James called this last episode downright dull, Remus just slept through the night. I figure for a while, I’ll just pick little Stella here up by the scruff of her neck and carry her around. Will she even have teeth?” I asked Anwen and she shrugged.

 

“No idea. The youngest case that we have documentation on was a four year old, Stella is so much younger, I know that this sounds, well, improper, but Ewan will have a field day when he finds out we have an infected infant here. I bet you five galleons that he’ll book an international Portkey back for the next full moon to observe her,” she postulated. I agreed. Anwen laid the little girl back down in the bassinet and reached for her potions and the glass of water that was sitting on the small table beside her.

 

“Do you need something to eat with that?” I asked her and she shook her head. 

 

“It’s only the Suppression Potion. I’ll eat when I take the pain ones in a little while. I’d like to eat at the table, with at least some of our children around me. I miss them at meal times, they’re usually so talkative. Only way I can keep up with what they’re really up to,” she mused. Mealtime with our and the Potter children was never dull. I took a deep breath for I needed to address something else with her.

 

“I wish you’d let me stay in here with her last night, you look so tired, and you’re to start at the Ministry today,” I complained at her. She was insistent that she be the one to remain near Stella last night.

 

“I will be fine. I already told James that I was only going to go in for the morning today. I’ll come home and take a nap, but honestly, I feel fine. You’re going to be home with all six children today, love. You needed your sleep more,” she said knowingly.

 

“Yes, but I have your parents here to help,” I reminded her and she nodded slightly at me. “Did you see Remus’ face last night?”

 

“How could I miss it, I haven’t seen him that angry in years. You and James need to talk with him, he can’t go off half cocked, trying to find Greyback himself. He’s liable to get himself killed. Gabriel Fernandez is a tracker, with him on the team I have no doubt the Aurors will be able to bring him in. Remus needs to stay out of this.”

 

“I know, Winnie; but this is personal with him. This is the werewolf that infected him all those years ago, and he’s at least partially responsible for Eira’s death, and there is evidence that he was present at his father’s death as well.”

 

“I understand, but Greyback doesn’t live by our rules, he will fight to the death. I don’t know that Remus has it in him to do that; or if he does, what it would do to his conscience. No, the Aurors need to deal with it, and hopefully, it will mean a trial. I would have no trouble mounting a case against him, and would not weep if he were sent to the new prison for the rest of his existence,” she said coldly.

 

“Do you know how construction is going on the new facility?” I asked her, deciding that we’d discussed Greyback enough. James and I would most definitely need to talk with Remus; I just hoped that the family and more importantly, his wife and child would be enough to keep him from doing something, well, reckless.

 

“The report that I read said it would be complete in three weeks, just in time for the first of the trials. Only Bill Weasley would employ Muggle and Magical means to keep the prisoners inside,” she said excitedly. Bill had been borrowed from Gringotts to head up the warding of the new prison with James. I had consulted on what they would do, as had the Weasley twins with some rather ingenious inventions. Minister Shaklebolt had also spoken with some of his contacts from the Muggle Prime Minister’s office about Muggle security. This would truly be a completely dependable facility -- and no Dementors would be used. I was about to ask her more about it, when a thunder of little footsteps announced that at least two of our older children were awake; and from the sounds emanating from the hall, I suspected that it was all five.

 

“Mummy, Daddy, where are you?” I heard Lilyan call through the hall, and got up and walked over to where they would emerge into the sitting room.

 

“We’re out here, but you need to be quiet, your Mummy has a surprise for you,” I told Lilyan and Jamie, who both smiled brightly at the idea of a surprise.

 

“Okay, Daddy,” Jamie said quietly, and then she wiggled her little finger at me, beckoning me to come down to her, which I promptly did.  When I was close to the almost three year old’s face, she threw her little arms around my neck. “I love you, Daddy,” she told me, and then planted a very wet little kiss on my cheek. She certainly knows how to melt your heart.

 

“I love you too my little angel. Go see your Mummy, you’ll be excited, I promise,” I told the two nightgown–clad girls, and they trotted off toward their mother and Stella. The boys were emerging from their room as well. Ethan was pulling John, as he was most definitely not a morning person. The general rule was we didn’t speak to John directly, until he spoke first. 

 

“Did Lilyan say something about a surprise?” Ethan asked, sort of wiping the sleep from his eyes with the hand that wasn’t holding John’s.

 

“She did. Go out and see your Mummy, she’s in the sitting room,” I told the boys, and they went, with far less enthusiasm than the little girls. I walked into the boys’ bedroom where Edmund was awake, standing up against the side of the crib, holding onto the slats, bouncing up and down.

 

“Dadadada,” he chanted as he bounced, and I couldn’t help the chuckle that left me.

 

“Come on there big guy, let’s get that nappie changed, and then we’ll see what you think of Stella,” I told him, lifting him up and carrying him over to the changing table. While I was changing him, he let a near constant stream of gibberish escape him. I tried to carry on a conversation with him, like Anwen did, but I just felt silly responding to my eleven–month old’s odd verbalizations.

 

I carried him back toward the sitting room, and it was a perfect picture that greeted me. Anwen was sitting on the edge of the chair, Jamie in her lap and the other three gathered around the bassinet peering in at the baby. Edmund saw his mother, and immediately began calling for her, and squirming around to get to her.

 

We explained that Stella’s mother and father weren’t sure if they could take care of her, so the people at the hospital asked if Mummy and I could do it. It wasn’t long before Lily came in to tell us that breakfast was ready, and help get Anwen into the dining room. Everyone was awake, even Harry, which was a rather interesting turn of events. Most days he hadn’t risen before noon since the final battle, and even then it was just because Ginny had come over and gotten him out of bed. None of us asked exactly how she’d done it. Rhosyn was completely enthralled with Stella.

 

“How old did they say she was dear?” the older woman asked, cradling the baby in her arms.

 

“They think she’s four or five months old, Ma. Probably born in January or February, but they aren’t sure, there’s no birth record for her at St. Mungo’s; but few people were going to hospital at that time, it wasn’t safe. She could be a Muggle born as well, but they couldn’t find any birth records either. She was probably born at home, like Edmund and Teddy were,” Anwen told her. “Ma, she might not be staying.”

 

“Aunt Winnie, the little girl’s name means star in Latin, she belongs in your family,” Harry teased, and I watched as hope flickered across Anwen’s face, before she pointedly looked down at her toast and again began eating.

 

“So, are you two ready to take on the Ministry?” I asked James and Anwen, and they had completely different looks on their faces. James was full of excitement and enthusiasm; Anwen looked guarded.

 

“This is a great chance, my friend. King...the Minister really wants to change things, put safeguards in place so that what happened with Voldemort doesn’t ever have a chance to happen again; and we get to be a part of it. We’re humbled that we get to do this, right Winnie?”

 

“Of course, but James, don’t get too far ahead of yourself there. This is still politics that we’re dealing with. Nothing ever happens the way that you plan,” she told him, her enthusiasm clearly guarded. “Well, I should be getting myself up and dressed. Love, I hate to impose...”

 

“It’s no imposition my darling,” I told her, getting up and walking around the table to help her. I helped her get showered and dressed and a little before nine, met James in the entryway of the Manor.

 

“I don’t have any formal robes yet, I hadn’t planned on going back to work. I’ll send an owl over to Madame Malkin later, don’t think that I’m up for a trip to Diagon Alley,” she said apologetically.

 

“Anwen, it’s fine, no one is going to care whether you’re in official robes or not. Have anything you want for your office?” he asked her.

 

“Not yet. Maybe once I’m going to be there more frequently, but for now, no thank you,” she said quietly, and I knew that she was getting nervous about going back to the Ministry. I turned her so that she was facing me.

 

“I am so very proud of you, and when you get home, we’ll take a relaxing soak in your whirlpool and you can rest and play with the children. Don’t overdo it,” I told her, kissing her gently. “Take care of my girl there, Prongs,” I told my best friend and he nodded as he came over and wound his arm around Anwen and walked to the floo with her.

 

 

Anwen POV:

 

The minute that we walked out of the floo, the press was upon us. I felt my feet falter under me, and I was thankful that James had enough sense to leave his arm around me for the entire trip here. He pushed me slightly behind him, keeping a firm hold on me.

 

“Ladies and gentlemen of the press, it’s wonderful to see you all here, and I would love to answer your questions; but I need to get up to work in order to have something to say to all of you. If you would please disperse,” he asked them in a loud, but polite voice. Unfortunately, they really weren’t listening. They continued to pepper us with questions, some of them getting quite personal, about Sirius and my injuries. I didn’t want to cry, but the entire situation was getting far too unruly and they were getting much too close. I wonder if I can detach my leg and beat a path through them with it?

 

A moment later, a booming voice was dispersing the crowd around us, and a very friendly face was standing in front of us. Jagjit Shresth was an Auror who had come to spend the year with our Ministry from India. He stood quite tall, taller than Sirius and nearly as tall as Kingsley with broad shoulders and long hair. He had been to visit us several times while we were living in India, and we had become close to both him and his daughter.

 

“Anwen, it is with great pleasure that I am here to escort you and the Chief Warlock to the Minister’s office,” he said, offering me his arm. “I was much displeased to hear of your injury, but I am delighted to see you up and around. Chief Potter, it is an honor to make your acquaintance. My dear friends speak highly of you. I am Jagjit Shresth, Auror First Class from the Indian Ministry for Magic,” he said while I slipped my hand into the crook of his arm and he reached out to shake James hand.

 

“Sir, the pleasure is mine, and I insist that you call me James, Auror Shresth,” James said to other man.

 

“Then you shall call me Jagjit. Please, follow me to the lifts,” he said and we walked to the one at the end. “This is now designated for Law Enforcement Personnel only,” he explained as we stepped in. “Tell me, how are your delightful children? You’ve had another since I saw you last?” James started laughing under his breath at this statement.

 

“We did,” I confirmed. “His name is Edmund, and he’ll be a year old in about a month. The twins third birthday is tomorrow, Lilyan is nearly four and a half and Ethan is five and a half; he’ll begin his education in the fall. My friend here is laughing, because as of last night, we have another child living with us; a little girl by the name of Stella who was abandoned by her parents at hospital,” I explained, and Jagjit had a bright smile on his face.

 

“Many blessings to you and the child. She could not have found herself in a more loving home with a more attentive father and generous mother,” he told me, and I looked down, blushing.

 

“Thank you my friend. We don’t know if this is a permanent arrangement or not, but we are privileged for as long as we have her,” I told him and I was thankful that we had reached the Minister’s floor. We stepped off the lift, Jagjit still holding my hand and giving me assistance in walking, James beside me now, a protective hand on my back. Kingsley walked out of his office, and picked me up into a great bear hug.

 

“I got my partner back,” he said as he lifted me from the floor. I squealed and started laughing.

 

“Yes, yes, now put me down, King...oh, bugger, sorry Minister,” I said through my giggles.

 

“I guess if you have to call me Minister, I need to call you Solicitor Hodgson-Black?” he asked and I shook my head at him.

 

“How ‘bout if I just call you Mutt,” I suggested and he got a knowing smile on his face.

 

“And I’ll just call you Jeff,” he added and I nodded in affirmation at him, before we both started laughing.

 

“There has to be a story there, because I know that neither of you are deaf,” James said, and I laughed harder because I had forgotten the cockney use of the term. 

 

“Mutt and Jeff is an old American comic strip about these two rather crazy men who enjoyed horse racing; the thing is, Mutt is very tall and Jeff is very short. I found an old book of the strips once before we were to go out on a recon mission. I brought it along and we whiled away our time reading them, so that we didn’t have to think about the fact that it was rainy and we were hungry,” I explained and James just shook his head.

 

“You’re such a Muggle some days, Winnie,” he joked, but I took it as a compliment. Jagjit bid us goodbye, and promised to come and visit soon.

 

The Minister put me down, and we went into his suite of offices. In the middle there were two witches working, both of their desks faced the main door, and they briefly looked up from their work as they were introduced, and then immediately went back to whatever it was that they were working on.

 

“They’re sisters, and they’re efficient, just not really...personable. You’ll get used to them, I promise,” he told me and I smiled at him. The first room that he showed us was a conference room, with a huge table in the middle, three pensieves around the room, five fireplaces with containers of floo powder on the mantles, and a rather strange portrait of an ugly little man. As we stepped in, I noticed that there were pictures of the past Ministers on the back wall, including Scrimgeour and Fudge. I pointed to them.

 

“I hadn’t realized that Fudge had been killed,” I told Kingsley, and he waved his wand in the direction of the picture.

 

“Silencing charm, can’t stand listening to him ramble on whenever he hears his own name. He was killed by someone up in the North Country, didn’t really find much of his body. The odd thing was that there was evidence that he was living with Delores Umbridge,” King told me and I had to fight back the bile that was rising in my throat.

 

“That’s just...wrong,” I finally was able to get out. King and James nodded in agreement.

 

“The fireplaces are for international calling, and the pensieves will project the memories so that they can be viewed by more than one person at a time. That little guy, he’s my go between with the Muggle Prime Minister,” he explained and I nodded at him. Come on, need to show you two your offices,” he said and I just looked at him through a cocked eyebrow.

 

We walked back into the main area, and came to the first office to the right, which had James’ name already on it. We walked into what was clearly an outer office for his assistant, and then through a heavy oak door to what would be his office. The room was huge, with a giant desk in the middle of the room, and portraits of the past Chiefs on the wall, including a grand one of Albus.

 

“I had it brought up from the lowest level. I figured you could use his counsel from time to time,” King said, and James nodded in agreement. Albus was currently dozing in his frame, or at least he appeared to be. I clearly saw his eye pop open, look at us, and then quickly close. I shook my head at his attempt to be evasive and sneaky. He’s just avoiding speaking to me, since he knows I won’t be happy with him. “You will be assigned an assistant very soon, I have an idea of who it will be, but I need confirmation first.”

 

We walked through a door on the far side of the office, into what appeared to be a massive law library. I quickly recognized the room. “This used to be on the Magical Law Enforcement floor. I used it all the time when I worked with Amelia,” I told him and he nodded at me. “The Chief’s offices can move between floors, wherever they are deemed best by the current administration. Amelia needed it to be with MLE; I need you two up here. Your law books come with you,” he explained and I smiled at him. We crossed through the library, to another door, which when we opened looked similar to James’ office, but instead of a desk, it had a grand table in the middle of it. I laughed at the sight of it.

 

“Sirius told you, didn’t he?”

 

“Said you’d never be able to go back to a desk, now that you’re used to spreading out. Thought it would make you happy. Now, my dear partner, I have two surprises for you. First,” he said, handing me a large box. I looked at him puzzled, but lifted the lid. Inside were two sets of robes, one for the Wizengamot, their familiar plum color and silver W on the sleeve. The second set surprised me; they were jet black, the color of the Minister’s, and they had the insignia of the Ministry of Magic on one sleeve and Kingsley’s family crest on the other. I looked up at him surprised.

 

“You are my personal Solicitor, therefore, you have earned the right to wear the robes of my Senior Undersecretary, Anwen. You are among the highest officials in the new order of the Ministry, James will find that there is an identical set hanging behind his door in his office when he returns there. I just wanted to surprise you first,”  he said, sounding just a bit cocky.

 

“You’re sure? My standing when I worked for Amelia was more than sufficient,” I told him, and he shook me off.

 

“I have no doubt in my mind. What you say from now on, carries the weight of this office, as well as the Council of 13,” he said resolutely, and I looked between him and James, and was embarrassed as the tears began to fall down my cheeks.

 

“Thank you,” I managed to eke out, as I reached down and slipped the ebony robes on over the slacks and flowing blouse that I had worn this morning. “My Da will be so proud.”

 

“They all will, Winnie. You’ve earned this, with all that you did, all that you learned. This is a recognition that you deserve,” James told me, putting his arm around me and kissing the crown of my head, like Sirius used to do when we were little. 

 

“Come on, I have one more surprise, it’s out here,” King said, breaking the tension as he opened my door, to what I presumed was my outer office. There was a young man sitting at the desk, working diligently at something and when he heard the door open, he turned around to greet us.

 

“Cedric, what are you doing here?” I asked him as he stood, extending his hand.

 

“I’m going into a career in law, and when the posting for an assistant for the Minister’s personal solicitor came up, I had a suspicion that it was you. I could think of no one that I would rather sit under their tutelage,” he told me and I was awestruck by this turn of events. I took his hand and shook it vigorously.

 

“That’s...Cedric that’s wonderful, I am thrilled to have you,” I told him and both of the men were smiling at me.

 

“One last office, that one over there is mine, and my personal assistant is Wendy, used to work in MLE; sorry, couldn’t share her Win, but, you seem to have done well enough,” he told me and I nodded at him. The clock struck quarter to ten and Kingsley explained that we were meeting with Lisette at ten sharp, and suggested that we get ourselves organized and then meet in the large room in about 10 minutes. I hobbled back into my office, and greedily sat down on the couch that was there, and pulled the mirror from my pocket that Sirius insisted I bring with me this morning. I was now quite thankful that he had. I tapped on it, and he immediately answered.

 

“Hello beautiful, how’s the morning been?” he asked me, his eyes dancing at the sight of me.

 

“Overwhelming. The press hounded us as soon as we set foot in the lobby. Jagjit said hello, and hopes to see you soon, James’ and my offices are in Kingsley’s suite. I have a new assistant, Cedric Diggory and oh, King made me his Senior Undersecretary, I wear his personal insignia on my robes,” I told my husband, as I moved the mirror over to show him the sleeve of the garment. I heard his great howl of appreciation.

 

“That’s bloody brilliant, Winnie. I am so extremely, overwhelmingly proud of you,” he gushed and I dropped my head again.  “Don’t you dare do that, Anwen Llyn Hodgson-Black. You deserve every accolade, every recognition that you get. Few recognized just how gifted you are, and it pleases me to no end that you’re finally being appreciated for it.”

 

“Have I told you just how much I love you today?” I asked him, overwhelmed at my emotions for him in this moment.

 

“Not nearly as much as I love you, my sweet beloved wife,” he gushed back and all I wanted to do was go home and hug and kiss him senseless. “Tell me, how are my babies?”

 

“They’re all fine, Winnie,” he started, shaking his head slightly at me. No matter what else I may ever do in my life, my children are my greatest and best legacy. He told me about their mornings, and that my mother had barely put Stella down. She’d eaten again, and Lily had given her all of her potions without any problems. Remus had come over, and was currently working on brewing her special batch of the Wolfsbane. “I told him that we need a guys night out, so we’re going into town tonight, so that James and I can talk with him. I think I’ll take Harry and maybe call and see if Bill can go too,” he told me and I nodded at him.

 

“I need to go, have a meeting with the Head Auror in a few. Save me a spot of lunch, love?” I asked him and he smiled at me.

 

“As long as I get to sit next to my very prestigious wife,” he cooed back and I smiled at him. “How I ended up with you as my wife...thank you,” he said softly and it brought tears to my eyes.

 

“I love you, with all that I am,” I told him and he looked at me in that way he does, where I know that he’s seeing straight into my soul. I touched the mirror, and I watched as his face evaporated from view. I closed my eyes and steadied myself, knowing that I was headed into a meeting. I shifted myself around on the couch, and put my legs down, but then realized that since my right leg still didn’t bend, I couldn’t quite get myself up from a sitting position. I released my wand from its holder and fired a Patronus to James, who moments later entered through the side door, chuckling.

 

“Guess you shouldn’t sit down in a room by yourself,” he teased me as he came over and offered me his hands. He too was now dressed in the Minister’s officials’ black robes. “How did Padfoot take the news?”

 

“Probably as impressed as Lily was,” I quipped back, never doubting that he too had called home. “Come on, let’s get this meeting over with, I’m tiring quite quickly,” I told him and he nodded at me.

 

“Don’t you dare over-do it. Sirius will kill me if I take you home exhausted,” he confessed as we walked out of the office.

 

The meeting with Lisette was informational; the department had cases against 37 known Death Eaters in varying forms of readiness. We went over the state of each of them, and decided which would be brought first. The international team had been in the country for just over two weeks, and what they had accomplished was impressive. There were three cases that were causing some difficulty, however.

 

“First, we don’t know the current whereabouts of Delores Umbridge, however, she’s wanted on over 150 different charges. I’d like permission to set up a task force just to deal with her; she seems particularly ruthless, especially since she wasn’t obviously aligned with Voldemort,” Lisette explained.

 

“Granted,” Kingsley said immediately. “Use whatever resources you need. What she did up at Hogwarts a few years ago was, well...” he stopped, knowing that it would only upset James and me. “Let Harry know that the statute of limitations on torture is five years, so if he wants to bring charges against her, he can,” Kingsley told James who nodded his head. Knowing Harry, he will ask that we move on and try to forget the entire thing ever happened. His heart is so generous.

 

“I think that I’ll put Audra Boucher in charge. She’s quite something, and her skills of deduction and observation are second to none, if I team her with Braudish, we’ll have everything well covered. Now, as for the werewolf Greyback, I understand that this is somewhat personal to you both,” Lisette said, looking between James and me.

 

“It is,” I told her quietly. “He’s responsible for a good amount of damage to our family, but, I need for us to stay out of it, for legal reasons. I don’t want to provide any opportunity for a mistrial,” I told her and she nodded at me.

 

“Fernandez has been on it since he arrived from Brazil, and he’s working with Colleen Dilworth. They’re both exceptional trackers, but I needed someone who was better at interrogations. I wanted to put Tonks on it, but given...” Lisette said.

 

“No, keep her as far away from it as you can,” James said. “Her husband is far too close, and,” he stopped and looked at me. “For the sake of our family, just use someone else, please. I think that we’re going to have a hard enough time keeping him from getting involved as it is. Especially after finding out about Stella.”

 

“Of course, I’ll find another way. Stella, is the infant that was bitten?” she asked and I nodded at her.

 

“She’s living with us, at least for the time being. It seems to have struck him harder than any of the other children that he’s worked with. Maybe because of his own son, maybe because she’s so small and defenseless,” I told her and Lisette nodded as she looked down at her dossier.

 

“The final case, is the one concerning the Malfoys. The evidence against the man,” she said, flipping through the file. “Lucius, it’s overwhelming. We’ve got proof of torture and murder going back over 25 years. Chief Potter, I know that your son asked for leniency on these people, but, we can’t.”

 

“I understand, and I’ll make Harry see why it can’t be done. He’s an idealistic young man, but he must be able to see that one good action doesn’t erase years of horrific ones,” James said.

 

“Thank you,” she continued. “We’re still compiling the evidence, but we should be prepared for trial soon. The case against his wife is more difficult. Most of her actions were behind the scenes and very secretive. There is one other complication. It would appear that they have another boy living with them now, a young man by the name of Bastien Black.”

 

“That would be Sirius’ son. I had wondered where he was,” I said quietly.

 

“Yes, well, his presence complicates things slightly. There’s a great deal of information that Auror Lanphear was able to collect, and before we proceed, he’d like to speak with you and your husband. Would it be possible to speak with the two of you later today?” she asked.

 

“I don’t see why not, but it would need to be at home. I will need an opportunity to rest, I’m still not at full capacity yet,” I told her and she smiled at me. “Is that a problem, James?”

 

“Not at all, I can adjust the floo when I take you home, later,” he told me.

 

“Then we shall be by later, how does four o’clock sound?” she asked and I smiled at her.

 

“We can have tea and discuss the matter,” I told her with a smile, even though the whole situation made me uncomfortable.

 

We continued to discuss the cases, and then we began setting the trial calendar. We would begin on July sixth, and the Wizengamot would be in session Monday through Thursday in the morning to hear the legal cases and in the afternoon to deal with changes and adaptations in the law. The Council of Thirteen would meet early on Monday mornings, before the Wizengamot; and again on Friday mornings for general business.  I would be meeting with the members of the Magical Law Enforcement Solicitors Department next week to begin assigning cases. I had every intention of refraining from presenting the cases myself, so that I could vote if needed; there were certain higher profile cases that I would be arguing however.

 

It was a little before noon when we decided to adjourn for the day, making plans to meet again on Thursday morning, I wasn’t coming in tomorrow, as it was the twins birthday, and I had every intention of doting on my little three year olds. 

 

I explained my schedule to Cedric, and we worked out a plan of how he would get information to me, and keep me up to date on the progress of cases. Since I would be working only sporadically in the office, at least through the end of the summer; we arranged for time for him to come over to the Manor to work with me on a regular basis in the library there. James agreed that the floo could be adjusted for him as well. As I spoke with him, I was impressed with his mind and how much he had already learned in the short time that he was working in the office.

 

King had one more surprise for us, the private floo that was just off his office. We would be able to floo in and out of work here, completely avoiding the lobby of the Ministry. I kissed the Minister of Magic on the cheek, thanking him for knowing me so well. 


Chapter 6: Chapter 5: The Will of God
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Chapter 5:

Will of God?

 

Anwen POV:

 

“You know, this feels, well, frighteningly normal,” I told the girls as we lounged outside of the Manor. It was a warm, slightly breezy night, and all the men were out at the local pub. Originally, James and Sirius were taking Remus out to knock a little sense into him regarding Greyback; however, Sirius had decided Harry and Bill should go along, and then they invited my Da since he is living here too and then Harry wanted Ron to go along as well. We, the women folk, had decided it made more sense for us to stay home and indulge ourselves -- in a rather obscene amount of chocolate Fleur had brought with her. “Wasn’t sure we’d ever have moments like this again.”

 

“I know, Win, but we do. So, how was work today?” Lily asked me. I knew she had spoken with James after lunch, but I had retired to rest, and then Sirius and I had our uncomfortable meeting with Renoir this afternoon. Thankfully, a dinner table full of children isn’t the place to discuss politics or skeletons in the closet.

 

“Overwhelming,” I told them. “I’m the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic, new title, new robes; very fancy office in his suite at the Ministry. Oh, you three will find this interesting,” I said, indicating all three of the younger women who were sitting together. “My new assistant is Cedric Diggory. He’s decided on a career in law.”

 

“I can’t believe how well he recovered from that horrid accident. I was sure he was a goner,” Hermione said, taking another bit of chocolate from the table.

 

“Eet waz zhat fancy hozpitall zhat he vent to. Zhey saved heem. Almozt like zomeone waz watching out for heem,” Fleur said looking at me, but I didn’t change my face. The only person who knew about my paying for his medical care was Remus; although looking at Tonks, I was sure her husband had confided in her.

 

“Well, I am quite glad, he’s industrious and intelligent, and I feel fortunate to have him working with me. I don’t know how we’re going to do this, I mean, we have six children to care for and with the court schedule, Sirius is going to be busy most days, as will I,” I told them quietly.

 

“Your father and I are here through the end of the summer, as long as the Potters don’t mind the imposition,” my Ma piped up, holding little Stella in her arms. Ginny was rocking Teddy and the rest of the children were in bed, all of their rooms Charmed so we would know if they needed us while we were outside.

 

“Rhosyn, you do half of the cooking here, and you’ve got Kreacher on a strict cleaning schedule, you can stay as long as you want,” Lily joked and my Ma blushed. 

 

“Tell me about the cleaning, he wanted to change the sheets the other day, and walked right in on Harry and me,” Ginny mused, and I watched as Lily cocked her eyebrow at her.

 

“And what were you doing?”

 

“Nothing,” the young red head said, quickly turning a clashing shade of red. “Nothing at all Mrs. Potter.”

 

“Ginny, I have told you and Hermione, you’re too old to be calling me Mrs. Potter. Call me Lily, please.”

 

“Yes, ma’am, Lily, um...that’s gonna take some getting used to,” she responded and we all laughed. We got quiet again, and I just watched the fireflies in the yard.

 

“How did your meeting go this afternoon?” Tonks asked and I looked at her and sort of shrugged my shoulders.

 

“Would it be horrible for me to say eating glass would have been less painful? It’s not that Bastien exists, well, yes partly it is, because I know Sirius wasn’t terribly discriminating before we got together; sorry Ma, but it’s the truth,” I apologized to my mother. I really wasn’t sure how much of his reputation she was aware of, and I hated I might tarnish him in some way for her. “I just can’t figure it out, the timing of it...” I started to feel tears prickling my eyes and I hated that I was breaking down, but if I was going to talk with anyone, it would be these ladies. “Renoir is still digging for information, but there are huge gaps in the reported story of his life and his mother’s and then there is the involvement of Bellatrix and Narcissa. Bastien is living at Malfoy Manor, which bothers Sirius to no end, but it’s not like he can walk up to him and tell him to leave that house; not like we have anywhere to offer him, either. I just keep reminding myself that he’s innocent in all of this, that choices were made for and about him that he doesn’t have any control over. Sirius is going to contact him, soon, and see if they can get together and talk. He’s also set an account at Gringotts for him, transferred twenty percent of his assets into his son’s name.”

 

“Anwen, that’s a lot of money. Are you two sure about that?” Lily asked me, and I nodded at her.

 

“Sirius feels awful that he didn’t know about him, didn’t contribute to his upbringing. He just wants to do what’s right. It’s only money Lily, and believe me, the way that he’s diversified our accounts and invested in them, we could make the sum back up in a matter of years, not even taking into account what I’m now making at the Ministry,” I told them quietly. I hate talking about money.

 

We all got very quiet and suddenly the comfortable and friendly time that we were having seemed to be ruined. Thankfully, the younger girls decided gossip was the way to go to lighten the mood.

 

“So, guess who I heard was pregnant?” Ginny said, and we all shook our heads at her. “Pansy Parkinson, and Draco Malfoy is the father.”

 

“Where did you hear that?” Tonks asked her, clearly excited about some gossip, especially gossip that was about her extended family.

 

“We,” she said, waggling her finger between her and Hermione, “were on Diagon Alley the other day, and we saw them coming out of Madame Primpernelles, and she was saying that she hopes that the potion that they’d purchased there would conceal her growing midsection long enough for her to let her father know that he was about to become a grandfather. Draco looked absolutely ready to strangle her,” Ginny continued with a little laugh in her voice.

 

“Well, yeah, at least Teddy will be a year ahead of that child at school, demon spawn,” Tonks said, and we all laughed.

 

Conversation quickly recovered, and Fleur came over and sat closer to me.

 

“How are you feeleeng, really?” she asked me.

 

“Really, much better, the pain isn’t bad at all and I’m sleeping through the night, well I was until we brought a baby back into the house. We’ll see how it goes, she slept for six hours last night,” I told her and she smiled at me.

 

“Eet iz a wonderful zing zhat you have done. Zhe weel be loved by you,” Fleur said with respect in her voice.

 

“She’s a baby, she didn’t ask for what happened to her. I do love her, the minute I looked at her, I knew that she belonged with us,” I told her quietly, looking over at the little bundle in my mother’s lap. “Sirius is worried what will happen if they ever come to take her away, but, I figure I’ll deal with it when the time comes.” Fleur nodded at me and we sat in quiet peacefulness for a minute. “Hey, I have a question, is there any reason I can’t get another tattoo?”

 

“No,” she said, and when she opened her mouth to say more she was cut off by my mother.

 

“Anwen Llyn, you’re not getting another one of those things. Tramps and women with unsavory reputations get them,” she said and I started giggling at her; as did nearly everyone else at the table.

 

“Ma, I have three already, guess that makes me some sort of a seedy woman,” I teased her and she looked at me aghast.

 

“Three, I knew that you had one...” she said in disbelief.

 

“Three Ma. The one that you know about, my Order tattoo that signifies Shelter; but really, it meant that I was in the Order. The second one was from my handfasting, but it’s invisible most of the time. See?” I said, lifting my wrist to show her Sirius’ name when I ran my finger over it. “Pretty cool, huh? Then, there’s the one that I got on my honeymoon,” I finished and she looked at me in that way that made me tremble in my shoes when I was a child.

 

“Where pray tell, is that one?”

 

“In the small of my back, Ma. I have a griffin there, because Sirius and I share a Patronus of a griffin. Funny though, when you get one there, it’s called a tramp stamp, so I guess that I sort of am a woman of questionable integrity,” I teased, which made everyone else laugh and made my mother seethe. She handed Stella over to Hermione, and stood up.

 

“I thought that I had raised you better than that. I bet that none of the rest of these ladies have such things on them!”

 

“Rhosyn, I have an Order tattoo as well, it’s on the back of my neck, under my hair,” Lily said.

 

“I’ve got three,” Tonks chimed in, “my Order tattoo on my upper arm, an owl with my father’s name on it on my back and a wolf, but I won’t tell you where that one is,” she said and we all looked at her, knowing it was for her husband.

 

“I have a Hieroglyph for etearneel ove ovhear my ‘eart for my ‘usband, and my Ordhear tattoo,” Fleur said. 

 

“I don’t have any, but I really want one. I figure if I wait until after my birthday, my Mum can’t stop me,” Ginny said and I nodded at her. Hermione sat there very quietly, and we all turned to look at her.

 

“Ronald and I were rather drunk one night, just after the war had ended, and we were, blowing off steam, and we decided to...hisnameisonmybum,” she said quickly and clearly embarrassed. We all started giggling, even my mother, and Hermione buried her face.

 

“Do I even want to know where your name is on him?” Ginny asked, and Hermione shook her head. “Oh my,” we all laughed harder.

 

“What is it with you magical people and those things. They’re permanent, when you’re seventy-five will you want them there?” my Ma asked and I looked at her, shaking my head.

 

“They aren’t though, removing them magically or even just concealing them isn’t hard or painful,” I told her and she nodded at me.

 

“Yeah, well, Sirius has everyone beat. How many does he have now?” Tonks asked.

 

“I’m not sure, I think it’s fourteen, but, I could be wrong. I stopped trying to keep track. I think they look...” I told them.

 

“Yeah, yeah, we know about you two, everything comes back to sex with you,” Tonks interrupted and I balled up my napkin and threw it at her. 

 

“Did he take Harry yet? He’s convinced the rest of the guys to get them,” Lily said sounding resigned.

 

“I don’t think so, but I’m pretty sure that Harry wants one, I heard them talking about it one day while they thought I was asleep. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sirius has something tattooed on his head while he doesn’t have any hair, just because he can. Hey, how about if we take you and Harry when we go to get our new ones? We’ll go after your birthday, it’ll be part of your gift,” I asked Ginny and her eyes danced with delight.

 

“You are the coolest, Aunt Winnie,” she said excitedly.

 

“I try, I’m married to Sirius after all. Think about what you want, and if you need any help, I’ve done quite a bit of research on the subject as of late,” I told them and she nodded excitedly at me.

 

We talked for a few minutes about the symbolism of different images and when I told them what I was getting, and why; everyone was impressed and understanding. Stella started to wake up, and my Ma took her to change her nappy and get her a bottle, promising to feed her, and telling us that she would be staying upstairs with her and Da tonight.

 

“Think I’ll ever get her out of my mother’s arms?” I asked and everyone shook their heads at me. We talked for a while longer and then Ginny asked me something rather unexpected.

 

“Aunt Winnie, Harry wants us to go into London, stay in his house, spend some time doing Muggle things in London,” she told me and I nodded at her. 

 

“London is amazing. When Sirius and I were younger, we used to go out all the time. I remember the first time I took him to a Muggle club, and dancing with him,” I told them, remembering how much fun it was to pretend that summer.

 

“Yeah, see that’s it. I can’t dance, I mean, I can dance, like we did at the Yule Ball, but I can’t dance, dance. I keep trying to move my hips the right way, but I just feel like, well, I’m falling off a broom,” she told me quietly and I nodded in understanding.

 

“That’s because you’re trying too hard. The key isn’t to think about moving your hips, it’s about moving the small of your back, the rest of your bottom half just goes with it. Hermione, go and get your CD player and the new CD’s you got the other day, please,” I asked her and the young witch went to get it. “I’ll show you what I mean, believe me, one lesson and you’ll be ready to hit the dance floor.”

 

A minute later Hermione returned and I put on the track of the CD that I knew would work. “Okay, somebody help me up here,” I said, and Ginny immediately stood and gave me her hands. “The key, is to think about moving this part of your back, right here,” I told her, putting my fist in the small of her back. “Think about either making a figure eight with it, okay, gives you the best hip action. Watch what I mean,” I told them, and got the beat of the music and began moving my back in a small figure eight. I held onto the edge of the table, since I knew that my balance wasn’t good.

 

“See when I move that spot, everything else moves with it. If you loosen up your shoulders, they’ll go too. It’s that simple, move your back, keep it loose and feel the music,” I told the girls and everyone was up dancing, even Lily, who wasn’t ever really a fan of dancing. The song ended and the next one started and we continued to dance. I explained that it was possible to stop the motion half way, and then start it again, giving you a little more variation.

 

I changed the CD, and put one on from one of my favorite Muggle bands, and I proceeded to show them a few more steps, moving forward and backward with the same motion, and things that you could do with your arms. We were having a great deal of fun, and I was quite envious of how well Fleur was able to move, and then I felt it, a strong pair of hands on my hips and his hot breath on my neck. I leaned back against my husband and turned my head so that I could kiss him hello, winding my arm up his chest, to grasp him behind his head.

 

“Looks like we got home just in time,” he whispered in my ear as we continued to gyrate against each other. His arm came around my waist, and I released the table, and twined our hands together.

 

“Just giving the girls a dance lesson,” I moaned, and realized that it wasn’t just us that were caught up in the motion. Everyone had coupled off, and we were all dancing on the patio.

 

“And you thought that you wouldn’t ever dance for me again. Winnie, love, you look hot,” Sirius whispered in my ear and he hit me with a wave of lust and longing that nearly knocked me off my feet. I turned around and wound my arms around his neck as he pulled me tightly against him, and I felt what our dancing was doing to him.

 

“Are you too drunk to...?” I whispered in his ear as he bent down to kiss my neck.

 

“Hell no, haven’t drunk anything but soda water, love,” he told me, his eyes dark with desire. 

 

“Do we need to ask someone to reinforce the wall in our room?” I teased him.

 

“Got it covered my love, I can do spell work again, remember?” he muttered back, and suddenly, I couldn’t leave the party soon enough.

 

I kissed the rim of his ear, running my tongue over the lobe. “Then take me to bed.”

 

My husband picked up and cradled me to him, and I couldn’t tear my eyes away from his. He carried me through the house, and into to our small flat within the larger dwelling. We quickly stopped and checked both of the children’s bedrooms, and found them all slumbering quietly. The final few steps to our bedroom seemed to take forever, and it wasn’t until we reached the bed that he finally put me down, then turning and locking and sealing the door.

 

My hands trembled as I reached for him, pulling the tee shirt that he had worn up his chest, and letting him peel it off of his torso. He quickly kicked off his boots and I reached up and undid his belt and began to unbutton the fly of his jeans. I smiled as I loosened them from his hips and they fell to the floor. “You still don’t like to wear anything under those, do you?”

 

“Nah. I like the way they rub on me, reminds me of you,” he said, as he brought his naked body down to kneel in front of me. With gentle fingers he undid each of the buttons of the gauzy blouse that I was wearing, and when he reached the bottom, he slid the flimsy garment from me, and marveled at the silk camisole that I wore underneath.

 

I had on a lightweight skirt that hung to near my ankles and Sirius grabbed the waist and pulled it down from me; and when it had cleared my leg, he removed the sandal from my foot and left it on the floor as well. He then released the button and my prosthetic leg was detached from my body with an odd hiss. Sirius looked at me again, and his jaw dropped open.

 

“What do you call those?” he said, pointing to my knickers. 

 

“They’re boy shorts; I take it you like them?” I asked, knowing full well the emerald green lacy shorts would be a hit with him.

 

“They’re...wherever you bought them, tell me so that I can get us some stock in that company, because they’re all you’re ever wearing from now on,” he joked, but I was sure that he was at least in part serious about what he’d just said.

 

He crawled over me and lay down on top of me, gently taking my face in his hands, he began kissing me at my hairline, down to my eyebrows and my eyes, the tip of my nose, my cheek to my ear and then down along my chin and up the other side to my other cheek, and then finally to my lips. By the time we connected with one another, I could feel myself getting lost in my emotions, and Sirius’ joining in.

 

Our union was slow and passionate, and I realized that for the first time in so long, I felt complete and whole. We lay twined together, and we fell asleep with our hands clasping one another and our mouths only inches apart.

 

 

 

Two days later, I was sitting in the Library with Cedric, going over the stack of files regarding the Death Eaters that were in custody, and were ready for trial. I couldn’t help but look out windows to the driveway, where John and Jamie were learning to ride the bicycles that Hermione, Ron, Harry and Ginny had given the twins for their birthdays yesterday. Hermione was attempting to teach them to ride the little bikes, equipped with training wheels. Sirius thought that it was a wonderful idea, and wanted to rush right out and get the older two their own bikes as well; I suspect that he intended to enchant them so that they can fly. 

 

“Secretary Hodgson-Black,” I heard Cedric calling me, and I my mind came back to the present place and time. 

 

“I swear, if you don’t call me Anwen when we’re working alone like this, I will hex you,” I taunted him. “Sorry, just lost in watching my children out there,” I explained and then brought myself back to my work. “All right, we’ve got these divided up, and figured out who can present them. This is the pile of ready for trial?” I asked him and he nodded at me.

 

“Yes, we could probably send a second year from Hogwarts in there and present these cases cold, and they’d all be locked up, permanently,” he told me, placing a hand on the pile closest to him. “This is the pile of cases that are still being worked on, but are nearly complete,” he said as he touched the middle pile of folders. “A couple of them are going to be tricky, but I doubt that we really will have any trouble. This is the pile that has everything that will be difficult or complicated. The cases that are being worked on are here, as well as the ones where we have overlapping or conflicting claims and information. You may need to present these yourself,” he told me, as he pointed to the pile closest to me. “Most of them contain active investigations.”

 

“I understand. The arrest warrant was served last night on Malfoy Manor, correct?” I asked him and he nodded at me and pulled out a huge set of files and flipped the top one open.

 

“Lucius is in level one security holding in the Ministry, with Auror protection. Narcissa was released on bail, but her wand was confiscated and her magic was obliged. Draco was released on bail as well, and he was allowed to keep use of his magical skills; seeing as we believe that he was forced into servitude of...” he stopped talking to me and looked at me. “You know, I saw that man come back, and I still can’t bring myself to say the name.”

 

“It’s okay; we shouldn’t be afraid to say it anymore. And we don’t need to use it, except to remind people what happens when good people don’t stand up for what’s right. What’s happened to their assets?”

 

“Gringotts has frozen everything and sealed their vault. A stipend is being given to Draco and the other young man living there, but it’s merely enough to live on until the trials are completed,” he told me and I nodded at him.  I need to talk with Sirius about the funds before he signs them over to Bastien. I don’t want Draco being able to steal Bastien’s inheritance.

 

“Just so you know, I am staying as far away from the case against Narcissa Malfoy as I can; I can’t let my personal feeling cloud my judgment,” I told him and he looked at me puzzled. “In 1993 she helped create a poison that was intended to strip Sirius and me of our magical abilities. I was pregnant at the time with Lilyan, and it nearly killed both of us. The two cases of attempted murder that are on there, it’s the two of us. I don’t want you conversing with me about this case any further, and questions that you have, you are to direct to either the Minister or Head Auror Uline.”

 

“I understand Ma’am,” he answered politely, and slid the file into his case. “Do you know who you want to assign these to, or shall I...” we were interrupted by the door to the library flying open and Harry bursting in.

 

“Ced, my Mum told me that you were here, good to see you man,” he said, extending his hand. Cedric rose to greet him, looking back at me. I nodded my head and then looked up at Harry.

 

“I guess when you’re the Boy who Lived you can burst into private meetings without concern for repercussions,” I sallied, and he looked at me wide eyed, dropping Cedric’s hand.

 

“Aunt Winnie, I...I’m sorry...I just haven’t seen him since the battle...” Harry stammered and I stifled a laugh.

 

“Harry, it’s fine, we were wrapping up here anyway. I just like to yank your chain my dear boy,” I said with a smirk on my face. Harry shook his head and looked down at the table, and the piles of files.

 

“Whatcha working on?” he asked.

 

“Getting cases ready for trial. The official cases will be heard beginning on July sixth,” I explained, and he nodded at me. I watched as his eyes raked over the names and they got wide when he saw the pile closest to me.

 

“Aunt Winnie, I asked for one thing, that they be given leniency. She protected me when she didn’t have to. My cover would have been blown and I would have been really killed. Why are you doing this?” He yelled at me. I stood up, holding onto the table for balance.

 

“Young man, you may be of age, but I am still your elder and you will not speak to me in that tone of voice. I understand that you want to reward them, for HER helping you, but Harry, they’ve done too much damage and committed too many crimes to get off scot free. You have to be able to see that?” I asked him, and he chose to stand and stare at me. “Harry, there’s evidence there of twenty-seven murders, the magical signature on all of them belongs to Lucius Malfoy. He has bribed people, tortured people and people have gone missing on his word. He needs to be punished for his crimes.”

 

“Can’t people be given a second chance? Voldemort is gone, can’t we just start over?” he begged me in a terse voice.

 

“No Harry, we can’t just start over. Harry, seven of those murders belong to young girls who were brutally tortured before they died. The things he did to them,” I stopped trying to push down my anger and disgust. “We owe it to them, our government and our society owes it to them not to brush what happened under the carpet. They deserve justice, and what happened to them needs to be part of the public record; so that we never forget.”

 

He looked at me with a curious mixture of intrigue and confusion. “Torture is torture, right? I was tortured, on more than one occasion,” he said naively.

 

“You don’t have to stay for this conversation, if you don’t want to,” I turned and said to Cedric. “You’ve read the files, you don’t need to hear this as well.”

 

“I’ll stay; I’ve read the accounts,” he told me, looking much older than his years. It bothered me to no end that while we had all been tortured, none of us had endured what I was going to tell Harry about.

 

“Harry, have a seat,” I told him, and he pulled the chair out across from me and we all sat back down. “Before I begin, I want you know that I think that your idea of being able to turn over a new leaf and start again, is admirable. I wish that there was some way we could all simply start anew; but we cannot. The forgiveness that you are speaking of can come from God alone, not from society. Society, through the courts, must ensure that justice prevails, that is what will create an honorable future,” he nodded at me.

 

“Harry,” I started and then took a deep breath. “Harry, Lucius Malfoy would kidnap girls, usually between the ages of twelve and sixteen, although we believe he’s attacked as young as eight and as old as twenty. They were usually Muggle girls, although he has been known to take Muggle–born and half–blood witches as well. He would use the Cruciatus Curse on them to break their wills, and often drive them into insanity. He would attack them sexually, and then to humiliate them, and often kill them, he would Charm snakes to do the same. They were generally bitten by the snakes in the course of the attack, and would eventually die of venomous poisoning. He kept them long enough with him so that when they were found, they were either already dead or it was too late to save them. When you were very little, I worked with these girls, I was the Auror called in to hear their cases and take their statements before they would succumb to their wounds. Harry, I held their hands and promised them that the pain would be over soon, and that he wouldn’t ever hurt them again. I need to keep that promise; we as a moral people with a code of ethics need to keep that promise.”

 

“I didn’t...really? Those things really happened? Not that I’m calling you a liar Aunt Winnie, it’s just...I didn’t know,” Harry muttered under his breath, and I could tell that he was deeply affected by what I had said. 

 

“I know that you didn’t, but you do now. Do you understand why we need to move forward? Why justice is so important?” I asked him and he nodded at me.

 

“This is why you want the Aurors to take care of Greyback, isn’t it. You don’t want Uncle Remus going out on his own?” he asked me and I nodded at him.

 

“Vengeance and Justice are not the same things Harry. Going after Greyback, any of us, no matter how justified in the situation we feel we may be, it won’t end anything, we would simply be perpetuating the circle of violence,” I explained and he nodded at me, clearly in thought.

 

“You sure you want a career in law, Cedric? It all seems like it’s so gray,” he said and Cedric nodded at him.

 

“There isn’t anything black and white in the world anymore, Harry. Bad people sometimes do the right thing, but it’s commonly just for their own benefit. Good people are forced to do bad things for just reasons. Anwen killed a woman this spring, but charges aren’t being brought against her, because she was defending innocent lives and her home. I see nothing wrong in that, although I bet that there are those who would disagree with me on that point,” he said, and I nodded at him. “I also know Anwen well enough to know that she regrets that a life was lost,” he said, and I nodded again.

 

We sat in silence for a few more minutes, and then Harry looked up at me, his face coming to an understanding of some sorts. “Please, make sure that justice is done. I’ll do whatever you need me to do to help,” he said and quietly got up from his seat. “I need to go and find my Mum, I need to apologize to her.”

 

Harry walked from the room, looking older than he had when he had come in, and I felt badly that I had put the additional burden on his back, but he needed to start seeing the world as adults do. The war might be over, but the work was far from finished.

 

Cedric bid his goodbyes, and told me that he would be back tomorrow afternoon to finish getting the cases ready for assigning. I sat at the table with my head in my hands, using my Occlumency skills to put away these new memories, as to not give myself nightmares. There was a quiet rap at the door, and I looked up at Remus standing against the door frame, looking at me in wonderment.

 

“I was just part of a conversation about the benefits of Justice versus Vengeance in the kitchen that was quite illuminating. Our young nephew seems to sound a great deal like his Aunt today,” he told me, coming in and offering me his hand so that I could stand. I rose up and I wove my hand into the crook of his arm, and we walked from the room, out into the entryway, and through to the back door, leading to the gardens. When we were outside he began talking again.

 

“You know that what you say is wonderful in practice, but not necessarily realistic?” he asked me.

 

“Remus, this isn’t an intellectual exercise that I did with Harry. I wasn’t teaching him an abstract lesson, I meant what I said. In order for our society to heal, we need to have justice; fair, evenhanded and thorough; anything less will just leave us open for seeds of discontent to take root.”

 

“But Anwen, what if it isn’t enough? What if incarceration, even for life, isn’t enough?” he asked me, and I knew that we were no longer talking about Malfoy, but instead, Greyback.

 

“It has to be. We don’t have the laws to put a person to death, and I don’t want to write them; I will not. Life or death isn’t a punishment that I feel comfortable dispensing, even in small measure,” I told him, my voice getting stern and brittle.

 

“But, what he’s done, to so many children. He’s ruined hundreds of lives,” he argued.

 

“Yes, he did those things, and the people that he willingly infected will have a chance to tell how his actions irrevocably affected their lives and I hope that while he is festering away in prison his mind replays all of those stories over and over again. However, I will not condone the taking of his life,” I told my best friend, stopping and looking at him with steely resolve. “I have faith that God will make him pay more dearly for his actions than we ever could. I have to believe that, to have everything that we went through for the last twenty years make any sense at all,” I told him, tears coming to my eyes.

 

“So, why can’t we take the work of God into our own hands?”

 

“Because,” I said shaking my head, “I would never presume to understand the overarching will of God; I can barely discern it for my own life. Remus, please, for your child and your wife, for my children and the Potter children, for everyone else in your life who looks up to you, but mostly for yourself -- let this go. The Aurors will bring him in, there will be a trial and you will be able to testify against him. For little Stella’s sake, please, I’m begging you.”

 

“Anwen,” he said, his body tense and his face lined and suddenly looking more wolf–like than I had ever seen it, even when he was changed. “I don’t think I can, he’s taken one too many things. Justice isn’t enough.”

 

“Then you have to know what the consequences will be? If you murder him...don’t put me in that position, please?” I begged him.

 

“Anwen, you’d have to have evidence to bring a case,” he said cryptically, and I felt a chill pass through me. I opened my mouth, trying to find a response to that, but there wasn’t one.

 

“Hey you two, what are you doing this far from the house?” I heard Sirius ask as he walked up behind us, and Remus maneuvered us around so that we were looking at him. I hardened my face and looked at my husband with my fake smile.

 

“Just admiring the flowers, and talking. You’ll think about what I said?” I asked Remus, and he curtly nodded and released my hand and walked away.  I reached out for Sirius and nearly collapsed in his arms, the tears that I had been fighting hitting me full force. “Hold me, please?”

 

 


Chapter 7: Chapter 6: Motives
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Chapter 6:

Motives

 

Sirius POV:

 

Get your mind out of the gutter there, man. You’ve got to pay attention, but she looks so beautiful standing there, talking away...and I know what she’s wearing under her damned robes and I just want to take her back to her office and...

 

“...there are still a few cases giving the Aurors some difficulty, those are the ones we have left until the very end of the process. We’ve started with the cases that are the most clear cut, as well as the ones where evidence is the most solid,” Anwen told the Council, and I knew that I needed to pay attention.

 

“Do we need any additional securities in place? For when we bring the prisoners into the courtroom?” Augusta Longbottom asked and Anwen smiled at her gently.

 

“They’ll be shackled and magically bound, each with an Auror escort. Few will be taking the stand, although it is their right to do so. We’ve got several members of the Hit Squad present in the courtroom as well. Security should be tight enough, and, I happen to know that our new Minister isn’t someone you want to tangle with, he’s quite good in a firefight,” Anwen added with a bright smile, and the room had a small chuckle to break the mood. “If there’s nothing else then, I believe that we should be headed in. Thank you Chief Potter,” she said politely, trying not to laugh at having to use James’ title to his face. The rest of the Council left the room, leaving just James, Anwen and me. I wrapped my arms around my wife.

 

“I don’t know if I can sit there and watch you argue the case, and not want to grab you and hold you,” I whispered in her ear. She rolled her eyes at me and looked at my best friend.

 

“Do you think Padfoot’s too old to have him neutered?” she asked. James broke out laughing hard and I looked at her, shocked and unable to form words.

 

“You know you love it, Winnie,” James rebutted. She just smiled that fakely innocent smile of hers.

 

“Darling, it’s too hard to concentrate when I know how beautiful you look under those robes,” I told her, and she turned and looked at me, gobsmacked.

 

“Last time that you’re picking my knickers out,” she told me, and untangled herself from my arms. “Let’s at least attempt to be professional here?”

 

“You ready for this to start?” James asked her, and Anwen took an unsteady breath and nodded.

 

“We need for the trials to begin, it’s the only way to put the last few years behind us, but...I just hope that we’re prepared enough. I know that some of these people are going to mount a rather strong defense, even though what we have evidence of them doing is beyond defending,” she told us quietly. “Come on, let’s go,” she said, starting for the door. I watched as she moved her right leg, slowly but with greater fluidity. She had been given the stage two leg last week and was happy to have a knee that bent again, as well a prosthetic that resembled flesh. Her carved cane was in her other hand, which she used when she was alone; right now, she kept her hand in the crook of my arm.

 

“You’re going to Malfoy Manor this afternoon, correct, to talk with Bastien?” she asked as we walked from the Conference Room to the lifts down the hall. James was walking with us, and Cedric quickly joined, walking behind us when we left the room. Assistants were not allowed in the meetings, so Cedric and James’ assistant, Percy Weasley, would often sit in the outer office area, ready to jump up and get whatever information their bosses might need.

 

“I am, and Andromeda is coming with me; just to make sure that I remain calm and even–tempered. She wanted a chance to talk with Cissy,” I told her, and she smiled gently at me.

 

“That’s good, I’m glad that you’re getting this over with before Narcissa’s trial begins later this week. I feel badly that he’s getting caught up in all of this, so soon after loosing his mother. Do you think that there’s any way you’ll convince him to move out, get his own place?” She asked and I gave her a noncommittal shrug of my shoulders in response.

 

“I don’t know Winnie, I just don’t know. It’s not like I have a lot of sway with him; from what Renoir said, she always told him that I didn’t want him. I didn’t even know that he existed,” I told her quietly and she stopped and reached up to touch my face in the way that always brought me comfort.

 

“My sweet love, we’ll make it better, I promise,” she said before she stood on her tiptoes and gently kissed me. We made it to the lifts and our entourage filed in. We stood quietly for a moment, and then Anwen turned to Cedric. “You’ve brought my Council book, correct? I have a feeling I may need to reaffirm the Council’s role, even though King has stated very clearly that the power of the Wizengamot lies with the Council, not with him.”

 

“I have it, Anw..Solicitor...are we alone or are we with people?” Cedric asked her, and her face burst open with happiness at his question. 

 

“My dear boy, the only person I’m not related to in some way on this lift is you, so there’s no need to be formal. Now, about my tome?” She asked again and Cedric nodded at her.

 

“It’s here, as well as the Magical Law Compendium,” he told her and we were quiet again. As we reached the bottom level, the other three filed off the lift, and then I helped my wife. Before we entered the courtroom, we ducked off to the side, and I pulled her into my arms again.

 

“Have I told you how much l love you?” I asked her, and she shook her head at me.

 

“Not today,” she answered quietly, burying her head in my chest, and I could feel just how small and frail she was. I was still worried about her general health, and whether she was strong enough to be working this hard.

 

“I love you more deeply than I had ever imagined that I could. What you’ve done, what you’re doing, makes me more proud than you could possibly imagine. I love you with every breath in my body,” I told her and she looked up at me with hopeful eyes.

 

“It’s almost over, right? Once these trials are done, it’s behind us. Promise me,” she whispered, and I put my lips to her temple.

 

“It is my love, it is. Come on, let’s get going. It will be pretty obvious if you’re late, sitting between the Minister and the Chief the way you do,” I told her and she nodded and we quickly took our seats.

 

Anwen POV:

 

“You called this meeting, speak,” I said harshly to Lucius, he was sitting across from me in the small conference room on the lowest level of Ministry detention. There were two guards in the room with us, as well as surveillance to the Auror’s desk in the hallway. Renoir was also in the room, disillusioned, just for my greater safety.

 

“Anwen, must you leave me shackled while we speak? We’re family after all,” he asked me, lifting his hands that were in heavy chains and cuffs, to which were also attached chains to his feet. His voice was smooth and even, and it made my stomach turn.

 

“The name is Secretary Hodgson-Black, and we’re not family. My husband and your wife share blood ties, but that does not make us family,” I told him coldly. He’d called this meeting, but I would be damned before I would play into his games. We sat there looking at each other, neither saying anything. “Tell me why you called this meeting, or I’ll be leaving.”

 

“I wanted to discuss legal strategy with you. There are aspects of my case that confuse me,” he told me, and I just continued to stare at him.

 

“That’s the job of your counsel,” I told him quickly and with no affect to my voice.

 

“Yes, well, since my assets have been frozen, securing appropriate counsel has been difficult. Those that I could afford have been, well, less than impressive. I will be arguing my own case,” he told me, and I lightly snorted at him.

 

“You know, the Muggles have an old saying, ‘The solicitor who represents himself has a fool for a client.’ I never took you as a fool, Lucius,” I answered, still unsure why I was here. He banged his hands on the table with a loud clank as the metal of the shackles connected with the thin metal of the table. Both of the guards immediately changed their posture, but I quickly shook them off.

 

“I am not a fool, you insolent little girl,” he told me as he got his hackles up.

 

“I haven’t been a girl in decades, but thank you for the compliment. Now, tell me why I’m here or I am leaving and your one court–provided meeting with the Prosecution has been wasted.”

 

“Tell me what’s happening with my wife and son,” he asked, almost nicely. I took a breath and looked at him, and the slightest twinge of pity hit me.

 

“Narcissa’s trial begins the day after tomorrow. There’s strong evidence against her, and with attempted murder charges in there, prison time is guaranteed. We moved through two lesser Death Eaters in rapid succession today, and neither were given leniency. Draco will be in a few weeks, he may be able to avoid the new prison facility; but he will need to show some remorse; or someone will need to admit that he was forced into his actions,” I told him. We all believed that Draco and to a lesser extent Narcissa were coerced by Lucius. He said nothing, so I got up to leave.

 

“You know, it’s not over,” he said in a sneer, and I turned around to look at him.

 

“What’s not over?”

 

“All of this, the battle to take the Ministry back from those who would pollute it. You and your children aren’t safe, Anwen,” he told me, his voice as chilling and cold as in the memories that I had from girls who had been attacked by him. I stood there, taking in what he was saying. “We will be victorious, order will be restored. Sirius’ son, Bastien, will be the key to that. He will bring about the restoration of the Black Family name, my dear wife saw to that. Anwen, did you really think that your husband was faithful to you? No pureblood can ever just have one woman satisfy him, anyway, it wouldn’t be fair for us to deprive others in that way. Don’t get too comfortable there little girl; you and your kind won’t be in power for very long, and I will make sure that I exact my price on the heads of your little daughters.”

 

I slammed my cane down on the table in front of him and he fell backwards in shock and the slightest glimpse of fear.

 

“Don’t ever threaten my daughters again. This meeting is over,” I told him calmly and turned and went for the door. I held it open long enough that I could feel Renoir slip out by me. We returned to the Auror desk, and I watched on the monitors as Lucius was returned to his cell, still shackled. “Did you get everything?” I asked the Auror monitoring the recording devices. He nodded at me.

 

“Good, make sure a copy is put into the file for his trial, and one gets put into the file of his wife. What an idiot. Renoir?” I called out and I watched as my friend and fellow Auror reappeared in front of me. I indicated the door, and we began to walk away.

 

“Have you found any evidence of Narcissa Malfoy’s involvement in Bastien’s conception and birth?” I asked in French, Renoir immediately began to account what he knew about the situation, also in French, so that others in the hall wouldn’t understand. He hadn’t, but he had decided that it was time to research that angle a little more. I answered him back in his native tongue.

 

“Sirius is there this afternoon, I need to know if there’s more danger than we were anticipating,” I told him and he nodded and trotted off. I quickly went to the lifts to return me to my office. It was early afternoon, and I was ready to head home and take a nap. I also had every intention of removing the memory of today’s meeting from my mind.  I was having enough nightmares, I didn’t need to think about Lucius getting hold on my girls. When I reached the upstairs offices, James was in the outer office, speaking to Percy. He looked up at me, and he must have seen the concern in my face. He walked over to me, and put out his elbow, offering to walk me back to my office. I took his offer, and once we were in the room, I closed and sealed the door.

 

“James, what do you know of the financial state of the Malfoys?” I asked him. Lucius’ comments about the Black family had me worried.

 

“Their assets are frozen. Why?” he asked me. I indicated that we should sit down, and we both did on the long sofa in my office. I rested my right leg on the small ottoman that I kept there for just such a reason.

 

“I was down in the holding area just now, Malfoy had called a meeting...”

 

“Anwen, if Sirius knew that you were meeting with him alone...” James interrupted me, so I did the same to him.

 

“I wasn’t alone, Renoir was with me. Please, let me finish. He said that Bastien was the key to the restoration of the Black family name. I keep thinking that this has to do with the money. So really, what kind of condition are they in?” I asked again, and James shook his head.

 

“I don’t know, not really. I know that they certainly aren’t as well off as either Sirius or I are, but, I doubt that he would ever have invested in Muggle enterprises the way that we have,” James told me proudly. I knew that they both had heavily divested their holdings in both the Magical and Muggle worlds; I just didn’t pay that close attention to the extent of our families’ wealth.

 

“James, follow along with me on this idea. Bastien was conceived and born in 1980, right around the time that things were getting serious between us, but after Regulus was killed. What if this is all about the Black family fortune?”

 

“I’m not following you, but go on,” he said, so I took a deep breath and continued. 

 

“In 1980, the Lestranges had some money, but their fortune was never that great. I remember when we brought them in, and we did a full accounting of their wealth in early eighty–four, Bella had really squandered most of their money. I got the feeling that it was gone for quite some time at that point, plus, they were housing Voldemort and all of his cronies. You know first hand how expensive it is to have a house full of people to feed and take care of,” I told him and he smiled understandingly. We had many an argument regarding their unwillingness to take money from Sirius and me, even though they were feeding our whole extended family.

 

“In 1980, Orion was already dead,” I continued, “Regulus was dead, Walburga wasn’t young, wasn’t healthy and it was unlikely that she would either have any more children or live much longer. There weren’t many other family members, the only younger ones were the sisters. That left Sirius, who was seriously dating a Muggle–born. Bella and Cissy would have been looking at him as the only thing blocking them from the family fortune; but killing him outright could jeopardize the money. They couldn’t inherit if they or their spouses were found guilty of the murder, and then Andromeda would have gotten it all, which would have been worse than Sirius having it. If they couldn’t kill him, they could ensure that there was an heir,” I told him. It was a theory that I had been thinking about for some time, I just hadn’t wanted to mention it out loud. My meeting with Malfoy confirmed my suspicions.

 

“You think that they somehow orchestrated Bastien’s conception? Anwen, you’d have to be very patient, the earliest that they could have gotten at the money would have been at his seventeenth birthday,” he told me, and I nodded at him.

 

“Unless, Sirius met an untimely death at the hands of Voldemort or one of his henchmen,” I suggested, and he nodded at me.

 

“If somehow Bastien was their ward, they would have been executors of his estate,” James added, the plan dawning on him.

 

“Sure, ensure that the child was born properly, have his mother make Bella or Cissy his guardian if something were to happen to her, and then make sure that Sirius and Felli were killed. They didn’t anticipate that Voldemort would go missing a year later and that they would have to live underground to avoid going to jail,” I confirmed. The pieces were fitting together.

 

“Why Felli?” James asked, questioning the use of the young girl that they all knew from school. It seemed out of character for them.

 

“I don’t know how or why they used her, but she was pureblood, and her father was a follower of Voldemort and close to Lucius’ father. I can’t figure out how it happened. Sirius has no memory of her, none whatsoever. He doesn’t even remember her from school,” I told James, who looked at me confused.

 

“How could he not? She was in NEWT Potions and Charms with us, and there were only like 13 or 14 students in the classes. We all worked with everyone else,” he explained, and I remembered from my school days just how small NEWT classes were in some of the harder subjects.

 

“There’s nothing there, which has me worried about his memories. Was she at all pretty?” I asked James and he nodded at me.

 

“She wasn’t Lily, but she was pretty, certainly pretty enough that Sirius would have hit on her...oh sorry Anwen,” he said, realizing that he was talking about my husband and not just his best friend.

 

“James, it was a long time ago. That confirms my suspicions, Sirius was nothing if not predictable. I need a strong, well trained Legilimens to search his mind, but someone who won’t hold some of what they find in there against him. Perhaps King or Auror Kebe can do it?” I muttered aloud and James nodded at me.

 

“Why don’t you?” he asked me, and I closed my eyes and shook my head.

 

“I know that there are things in there that Sirius doesn’t want me to see. It’s one thing to know about them, it’s another to witness them first hand; we had a hard enough time dealing with the memories that I gained when our minds were open to each other when we were...well, in limbo for lack of a better word,” I told James quietly. There were most definitely things in my husbands mind that I didn’t want to see or know about.

 

“Anwen, you’ve got to tell Sirius about your suspicions,” he told me quietly, and I nodded at him.

 

“As soon as I have firm proof, I’ll explain it all to him. I can’t do it right now, he’s...conflicted enough over this. I don’t want to make it worse for him,” I told James and he nodded in understanding.

 

“He does seem to be bending over backwards to make amends for something that he may or may not really be responsible for,” he told me and this time I agreed with him.

 

“There’s some history there James, things I don’t know if he ever told you or Remus about, but this situation, it makes him very uncomfortable,” I told him, trying to be evasive.

 

“You mean about the children his grandfather ignored?” James asked and I looked at him surprised. I hadn’t realized that Sirius had told anyone about them.

 

“Yes, when did he tell you?”

 

“Not long after Ethan was born, we were working on writing his will, so that you and Ethan would be taken care of, and that a fair share went to Andromeda and Tonks. He explained what happened, and why there was a clause written so that the Goblins could come to you, if information was ever found about other children, you or Ethan would have the ability to change the will,” he told me, and I had such awe at my husband in that moment. We were quiet again, lost in thought.

 

“Oh Merlin, Anwen, we need to get out the book of Ancient Wizarding Law; the Malfoys may still be after the money,” he said suddenly, and I looked at him surprised.

 

“What? How? What do you mean?” I stammered.

 

“Anwen, your children, they’re considered half–blood, even though you and Sirius are both Wizards. Ancient Law states that if a pureblood child is born, they are given preferential financial treatment over any half–blood children. It was done in the day when a Wizard would marry a pureblood, but then have affairs and children all over. This way, the pureblood heir would retain the family fortune. Malfoy would know the old laws, as would Bella and Narcissa,” James said, sounding somewhat embarrassed that he knew the pureblood laws. 

 

“James, Sirius has already made a proviso for him. Bastien is getting twenty percent of his holdings. The remainder will be split between the other five, six when Stella’s adoption comes through,” I told him. I had filed her adoption papers before I had gone to do the interrogation of Malfoy.

 

“Anwen, you don’t understand, he can go after it all. Anything that Sirius has inherited or earned since the date of his birth. Bastien can go after all of it,” James told me, and I felt the blood drain from my face and my chest constricting. I put my head in my hands, and suddenly was having trouble breathing.

 

“Anwen, Winnie, what’s wrong?” James said, coming to kneel in front of me, trying to look at my face. I picked my head up, but it felt like it wasn’t attached to my body, and I couldn’t focus my eyes on him.

 

“Can’t” I said, between breaths that were now coming out in pants, “breathe,” I finished the sentence. James laid me down on the couch, and then ran toward the door screaming something as the world turned black.

 

 

Sirius POV:

 

“You’re doing splendidly, my little ladybird. Your daddy is going to be so very impressed,” I heard Anwen say to our oldest daughter. They were sitting on a blanket on the lawn, Anwen, the girls and Edmund.

 

“I want daddy to be happy, he seems so grumpy lately,” she said, and I crept closer to them quietly, not wanting to interrupt the conversation.

 

“He’s just had a lot on his mind. He’s got important work to do with the Wizengamot and the trials, and he and Mummy are working on adopting Stella, and he has to try and take care of Bastien,” she told them gently.

 

“Does daddy love Bastien more than he loves us?” Jamie asked her Mummy, and Anwen gently reached over and put a hand on the little girl’s chin and lifted it so that she could look her in the eyes.

 

“Your Daddy and I do not love any one of you more than any other, it’s just that Bastien needs a little more attention right now. You are, and will always be, your Daddy’s precious angel, just like Lilyan is his ladybug, and Ethan is his Pup and John is his little golden snitch and Edmund is the twinkle in his eye,” Anwen told them, repeating my nicknames for all of them. “Remember when you asked me why everyone wanted to hold Stella so much? What did I tell you then?”

 

“That no one had hugged her that much, so we were all trying to make up for the lack of hugs she had,” Jamie answered and Anwen nodded at her. 

 

“That’s right. Bastien hasn’t had his Daddy to hug him, or play games with him, so Daddy is just trying to catch him up, okay?”

 

My wife had such a gentle manner about her, and the way that she loved and talked to our children, it made for a perfect sight. I leaned against the tree and watched her. Edmund was up and crawling away, and Lilyan would go and get him when he wandered too far, and point him back toward the blanket and his mother. Jamie was holding Stella’s bottle and helping her get fed and the two older boys were kicking the football around, not too close to hit their younger siblings, but close enough that Anwen could keep an eye on them. It all helped to put the nearly disastrous meeting with my eldest son in perspective. Lilyan lifted her head and saw me and screamed.

 

“Daddy,” she yelled as she was running toward me. Edmund began frantically crawling toward me and Jamie had popped up and was on her way over as well. I scooped up my eldest daughter and threw her in the air, her beautiful dark curls flying around her face. “Fly my little ladybird, fly,” I told her as she giggled at the height. I put her down and grabbed Edmund and threw him in the air, listening to his squeals of delight.

 

“Sirius, he just had his afternoon bottle. You might not want to throw him too much,” Anwen said, just before I noticed that Edmund was turning green. I put him down, but not quite soon enough or far enough away as he proceeded to spit up all over my shoes.

 

“Yuckie, Daddy. Don’t throw Eddie like that, he pukes too much,” Jamie chastised me, and I couldn’t help but laugh as I used my wand to clean up the mess.

 

“I guess he does, my angel. How was your day?” I asked as I picked my quiet little girl up and she threw her arms around me, hugging and kissing me. 

 

“It was good. Ginny came and we went on a bug hunt and then we made biscuits with Auntie Lily. Uncle James had to carry Mummy home from work, and then we’ve been out in the garden,” she told me, and I immediately looked over at Anwen.

 

“Why did James carry you home from work?” I asked as I rushed over to her.

 

“I hyperventilated and passed out in my office. It was nothing. Boys, your father is home, come and say hello to him,” she said, trying to change the subject. I wasn’t going to let her off that easy.

 

“Anwen, hyperventilating isn’t nothing. What happened?” I asked quickly as the boys were running over.

 

“I got upset about something and forgot to breathe normal. James woke me up, and brought me home. I took a quick nap while Lily and Ma had the kids and everything is fine. Healer Orlaf even said so when he came to check me over,” she told me, still trying to sound calm.

 

“If it was nothing, then why was your healer here?”

 

“Because, you’re nearly as worrisome as my Ma. Sirius, it was nothing. We’ll talk about it later,” she told me, and I knew that the conversation was over for now. John and Ethan came over, and told me about playing football in the yard most of the day with Harry and Evan. When the conversation died down, Lilyan came and sat down in my lap with her little book.

 

“Would you like me to read to you Ladybird?”

 

“No, Daddy. I’m going to read to you,” she said, and I looked at Anwen, who nodded at me. Lilyan opened the little storybook and proceeded to read the entire thing to me. I looked at Anwen in surprise, she returned it with a knowing and pride–filled smile.

 

“Ladybird, that was...when did you learn to read?” I asked her, flabbergasted that our four year old was reading.

 

“I was watching Evan trying to teach Ethan, and Emma and I decided that we could do that, so we got a book and started reading,” she said, as if it was as normal as the sun coming up.

 

“I am very proud of you. I was nearly six when I learned to read,” I told her. 

 

“What took you so long?” she asked. I sort of stumbled over my answer.

 

“Daddy didn’t go to Muggle school like Harry or Evan, and like Ethan will start in the fall. Pureblood wizarding children used to be taught at home by their Mummys. Ask Ginny, she never went to school before she went to Hogwarts; although I did tutor her a little,” Anwen told them and they looked shocked.

 

“But, they wouldn’t have art class or music class,” Jamie said.

 

“And there wasn’t a library to go and take books from,” Lilyan added.

 

“Did they get to play sports?” Ethan asked.

 

“Daddy, did you ever have fun?” John asked in his very John-like way. Anwen and I started laughing.

 

“No, I didn’t study art or music -- when I met your Mummy she had to teach me. I didn’t get to go to the Library, so I never knew how much fun reading could be. I played a little bit of Quidditch with my brother in the yard, but I didn’t know anything about football or rugby or hockey and I had fun, but I think that you’re having much more fun than I ever had,” I told John as I scooped him up and started tickling him, just to hear his loud, booming laugh. Within moments, the oldest five were on top of me, tickling me to free their brother. When I got to the point that I couldn’t take any more, I heard Anwen say: “That’s enough, why don’t you older ones go and get your brooms and take a little flight before dinner.”

 

They trotted off, leaving us with the youngest two. Anwen handed me Stella, who I held close and gave a big kiss; while she held out her hands to Edmund who crawled over, grabbed onto her fingers and pulled himself to a stand.

 

“I didn’t know that he could do that,” I told her.

 

“He just started today.  He’s going to be walking soon,” she explained as Edmund bounced up and down. “So, how did it really go today?”

 

“It was awkward and difficult. He isn’t thrilled that I want to be in his life, he’s upset that his mother is gone. He’s spending way too much time with Draco for my taste; but, we did have a good talk and he’s agreed to meet the children. I don’t want him coming here, security reasons, so I told him that we’d meet on the Hogwarts grounds. He’s going back to school in the fall, at Hogwarts, to do his seventh year. I stopped by and asked Minerva to come by after dinner to talk about it. I want to pay for his schooling, and his supplies,” I told her and she nodded at me.

 

“Of course. What did you do about the inheritance?” she asked me, and I sighed.

 

“In the end, I took Targnof’s advice, he won’t get it until he’s twenty-one. I did give him a bag of gold though, and told him if he needed anything else just to get in touch with one of us,” I told her and she nodded again. “Winnie, he blames you for his mother’s death, and he’s taking all of his anger out on you.”

 

“I don’t doubt that he is. You don’t want me to go with you when you introduce him to the kids, do you?” she asked in such a soft way, I knew that it was upsetting to her, but I was also thankful that I didn’t have to bring it up.

 

“I think it would be better to leave you home, at least for the first meeting. Winnie, I hate to do this, but...I need to have him like me,” I told her quietly, and my amazing wife reached over and took my hand.

 

“There will be time for him to get used to me, later. Right now, you need to be his father. Who are you going to take with you, because you can’t handle all of these kids on your own?” she said and I nodded at her.

 

“I think that maybe if I introduce him to some students, it might be less threatening. I thought I’d see if Harry, Ginny and Hermione want to come,” I told her and she nodded at me.

 

“No Ron?”

 

“Yeah, him too, but, he won’t be much help; he doesn’t really keep an eye on the kids. Minerva will be there as well. Thank you,” I told her and she smiled at me and looked away.

 

“Will you take Stella?” she asked as she caressed the little girls head.

 

“I think that we’ll start without the adopted sister, who’s a werewolf, this time; going to have my hands full keeping up with the other five,” I told her and Anwen nodded.

 

“Speaking of adoptions, I filed the paperwork to make Stella ours. It will take six months, and when it’s done, there will be a blood and magic binding; but then she’s our daughter. If all goes well, January 7, 1999, this little star will officially be a Black,” she told me and I let out a whoop that scared Edmund and he looked at me with his bottom lip bent down, getting ready to cry.

 

“Come here, little man. Daddy didn’t mean to scare you,” she said, scooping the near one–year old up into her arms and hugging him. We talked for a while longer, but Anwen kept evading telling me what had her so upset that she had passed out over it, so I got nowhere with the discussion. It wasn’t long before it was dinner time, and we were all sitting out on the patio eating. It was decided that since there were ten small children eating, the patio was much easier to clean up after they were done.

 

“So, I went by the new house today,” I said nonchalantly, and everyone turned their heads to look at me.

 

“What? I didn’t even know that construction was moving ahead on the house. There are things that I would like to have in it,” Anwen said, sounding hurt.

 

“Anwen, they’re just working on the outside right now, what happens with the individual rooms will still be left to you. Anyway, I was at the house today, and it’s nearly to the point where you can come and see it. I wanted to build you the perfect home, my love. I think that you’ll be happy,” I told her and I watched as she started to cry.

 

“As long as I’m with you, I will always be happy,” she whispered back before she kissed me.

 

“Oh, come on you two, that’s just...gross. Please stop doing that!” Harry wailed and then Ginny reached over and smacked him.

 

“When we’ve been together for as long as they have, I certainly hope that you’re still doing nice things for me, and making me cry,” she told him, looking at him irritated.

 

“Of course I will Gin,” he told her, leaning in to kiss her.

 

“Wait,” I said. “Look whose being all gross and lovey dovey at the table now. Harry man, you’re whipped and you are only dating!”

 

“Yeah, well, we’re young. You two are just, old. Aren’t you going to be forty this year?” he teased me and I looked at him while I cocked my eyebrow.

 

“Thirty Nine little man, just thirty nine.”

 

“Big difference, Uncle Sirius,” Ginny chirped in, and everyone was laughing at me. 

 

“Maybe we’ll just have to leave the young guy here tonight? What do you say Moony and Prongs? The Pronglet doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut,” I teased. I knew that Harry very much wanted to go with his Dad and Remus and me tonight.

 

“That’s not fair, you promised that I could go with you. I already know what I want and everything,” Harry rebutted.

 

“Make me perfectly happy if he didn’t go,” Lily added, stabbing her green beans with a little too much force.

 

“Fine, Minerva said that she’d be here at quarter after seven tonight, and then we can go after I meet with her, all right?” I asked and everyone nodded. I pulled my pocket watch out and realized that it was already six-thirty. We needed to get dinner finished if I was going to do everything that I wanted to get done this evening.

 

Anwen POV:

 

“That won’t be a problem, Sirius. I can make sure that his tuition bill is debited from your accounts. Now, you two, there is something that I need to talk with you about. I know that you are both busy with the Wizengamot, and with all of your children, but...” Minerva stopped and Anwen and I looked at her.

 

“Minerva, you can ask us anything. We’re never too busy for you,” I said, patting the older woman’s hand.

 

“I was hoping that you’d say that. I find myself with Albus’ perennial problem of not having someone to teach Defense. The position is no longer cursed, but, I still can’t find anyone who is suitable to teach the course. I was hoping to convince the two of you to take it,” she said, and I could feel Sirius’ shock.

 

“You’d want me, in the castle, full time?” he nearly coughed out. 

 

“Well, yes, that would be...we can schedule all of your classes in the afternoons, when the Wizengamot isn’t in session. Sirius, you can teach the younger sections, first through fourth years; and Anwen, you could take the fifth through seventh. There would be more than enough students to sit the children while you’re away or teaching, or if you wanted to hire a full time nanny we could provide them with their own quarters as part of your compensation. I wouldn’t be asking if I wasn’t backed into a hole. The Board of Governors isn’t happy about reopening this fall, and if I don’t find a suitable candidate for Defense, I know that they’ll want to put off reopening the school...” she rambled.

 

“Minerva, you’ve clearly thought about this a great deal; and I am flattered, but I think that this is something that Sirius and I need to discuss. Can we come by for tea tomorrow, once we’ve had time to talk with each other and the rest of the family?” I asked her, and she nodded at me.

 

“Of course, I mean, you’d actually consider? Oh, Anwen, it would...” she told me, hugging me tightly, which was somewhat surprising; but I could feel the tension draining from her body as I held her, and I knew that I had already had my answer. “How about four o’clock? I can come here, it would be easier than trying to bring all the children through the floo,” she said and I nodded at her. 

 

“Now, I promise that we’ll talk about it tonight, but Sirius has somewhere that he needs to get to, and there are several children who have been waiting to see you,” I told her. Minerva nodded and Sirius kissed her cheek as he left for his evening out with the boys, making Minerva blush wildly. She and I went out to the patio, where she was greeted by a rather large chorus of “Grandma Mimi’s” from all of the younger children.

 

Later that night, I was sitting in the lounge of the Manor with Lily and Tonks. Tonks had just finished feeding Teddy, and he was now changing his hair to match whatever color his mother was making hers. It was fascinating to see how quickly they could cycle through the colors. Lily was rocking Stella.

 

“You know, at some point, he’s going to have to settle on one color, or he’s going to confuse the heck out of his cousins. They don’t understand why they can’t change their hair color,” Lily told Tonks, and she laughed.

 

“Yeah, Sirius was always jealous when he was in school that I could do my hair without looking in a mirror. He was funny when he was like eighteen and he’d come to visit my Mum. He’d watch me like I was some sort of a freak, this from the guy who changes into a dog,” she teased and I couldn’t help but laugh.

 

“So, they’re going to stay here for the full moon?” I asked, changing the subject. Tonks bringing up Sirius’ Animagus reminded me that the full moon was only two days away. 

 

“James has reinforced the area in the basement, so that neither Stella or Remus can get out, but honestly, Remus has been so quiet the last few months, James said he had a hard time staying awake. He built a little paddock in the corner that Sirius and Stella can rest in, but it’s still close enough that James will hear him if he’s having problems. Ewan will be here tomorrow morning, in order to watch her and then work on tailoring the Wolfsbane for her,” Lily explained and before I could ask her the question on my lips, we heard a commotion at the floo. The men were home.

 

“You didn’t tell me that it hurt that bad,” Harry complained, and I couldn’t help but laugh at him, we all were. They tumbled into the room, all looking sheepish, and possibly, slightly inebriated. 

 

“Harry, didn’t they put the Healing Charm on you?” his mother asked, getting up to look at him, while laying Stella down in the carrier that was at her feet.

 

“Healing Charm? There’s a Healing Charm?” he said, looking from his father to his godfather to his uncle.

 

“Yes, there’s a Healing Charm. Let me see it,” Lily said, slightly disgusted at the fact that her son had gotten a tattoo tonight. Harry lifted his shirt and turned so that we could see his back. There, across his shoulder blades was the most magnificent Hungarian Horntail dragon, breathing fire across his back. As it did, the flames would form a heart, with Ginny’s name in the middle, and then it would dissipate, and the dragon would lie down, and rest for a while. Lily waved her wand over it, and Harry’s back relaxed as the pain went away.

 

“Can you do this one too?” Harry asked as he lifted his pant leg, revealing a simple word, “Dobby”, just above his anklebone on the inside of his left leg. Lily cast the charm over that one as well.

 

“I can’t believe that they did that to you, and then didn’t give you the Healing Charm,” she said disgustedly at her husband. “Let me see what you got.”

 

“We’re all the same,” James said, and all three Marauders turned their backs to us, and dropped the collars of their shirts down to show the rune for Guardian on the back of their necks, inside of the rune there was a stag, a wolf and dog. I put my hand to my mouth, and had to fight back tears. “They’re perfect,” I whispered, and Sirius came over to me. He ran his hands over my cheeks, wiping away the tears that had fallen from my eyes.

 

“I got two more, I hope that you don’t mind,” he said, and I shook my head at him. He pointed to the top of his head, near where his scar began, and there on his scalp was the rune for strength. My fingers caressed it, and I pulled his head to me and gently kissed it.

 

“You are the strongest man I know,” I told him as I ran my finger down the rest of his scar, letting my hand rest on his cheek.  “Let me see the last one.”

 

He lifted the sleeve of his shirt up, and showed me where he had Bastien’s name on his arm. It was just below his ring of pups for our children. I ran my thumb over it.

 

“Well done, love. Well done,” I said, looking at James, hoping that I was hiding my fears and concerns from my husband well enough. 


Chapter 8: Chapter 7: Fuzzy and Hazy
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Chapter 7:

Fuzzy and Hazy

 

Sirius POV:

 

“You know, you really should be getting some sleep there, love. You’ve got the full moon in two days,” Anwen told me, she was curled up next to me, naked. I was basking the glow of our lovemaking.

 

“Yes, but if I fell asleep now, I would miss just how beautiful you look when you’re all glistening and flushed pink and your hair is rather messy,” I teased her, leaning down to kiss her again.

 

“You’re sure about this? It’s a rather important job,” she asked me again, but I nodded at her with a wild grin. I was ready to take it the minute Minerva asked us. I figured that I would have to persuade Anwen more than I had needed to. This was most definitely something that I wanted to do.

 

“Anwen, she wants me to teach first years, can’t really screw that up. We don’t have a home, not yet anyway, and while I’m sure that Harry would let us move back into Grimmauld, it’s too small. Living at Hogwarts would give the builders time to finish the new house, and for things to be ready when we bring the children home -- their home -- not just the ballroom at our friends’ house. You love teaching, and the students would be lucky to get you as their teacher,” I told her and she blushed. “Minerva has already figured out the schedule, so we’ll be teaching at the same time, but in different classrooms and we can figure out the childcare issues. Anyway, by September 1st, the majority of the Wizengamot cases will be over, you won’t need to be at the Ministry every morning. This is perfect, Anwen. Please, let’s do this,” I pleaded with my wife, and she looked up at me and smiled.

 

“Fine, anything that makes you smile like that again,” she sighed at me, and then pulled me down into another searing kiss.  I doubt that I will ever get enough of my wife. She pulled from me, and closed her eyes, clenching her facial muscles. Something must be hurting her, no matter how much she tries to deny the pain, I know it’s there.

 

“Winnie?” I questioned.

 

“Twinges in my back. Sometimes, I forget that I can’t move the way that I want to all of the time,” she sighed, trying to shift herself again so that she might find some comfort. She rolled onto her side so that her good leg was on the bottom and her stump was on the top. I mimicked her body pattern, facing her. “It’ll be good to have Poppy around too,” she said quietly and I looked at her. For the first time all day, her calm exterior broke apart and I saw the worry on her face.

 

“What aren’t you telling me, Anwen?”

 

“Sirius, it’s nothing to worry about, per se, but...well, there may be some complications from my injuries. Healer Orlaf didn’t really get into it when he was here today, but, it will be better if there was someone to help manage the potions he needs me to be on,” she told me quietly.

 

“Tell me everything he said,” I told her, almost ordering her and I watched as her shoulders sagged.

 

“Sirius, it would appear that there was permanent damage to my lungs, that’s why I hyperventilated so easily today. He wasn’t more specific, but he has another potion that he wants me to take, to help keep things clear and open when I breathe. See, it’s not that bad,” she told me, trying to sound brave. I suspected that there was more, because she wouldn’t look at me in the eyes.

 

“What else, Winnie?”

 

She was quiet for a long while, just running the edge of the sheet between her thumb and forefinger. “I won’t ever have another baby, Sirius. My internal parts were too badly crushed,” she told me, and I could see her beginning to cry. “We have seven children, and that really is more than enough, but, I’ll never give you another baby.”

 

“Oh, Winnie,” I pulled her to me, her tears ran down my chest. “It’s okay. We weren’t sure that we wanted more anyway, after we had Edmund, we thought our family was complete; and then Stella came into our lives, and now I really do think that we’re complete. We’re got our family, Winnie. We’ve got our family,” I told her, rocking her against me. She started to calm herself down, and I thought about what she had said.  “Anwen, you said we have seven children?”

 

“Yes, well, we do,” she told me plainly.

 

“But, you’ve never spoken that way about Bastien.”

 

“Sirius, it’s not his fault how he came to be in this world. I think in the end, we’ll find he was an innocent pawn in all of this. I hope that someday he’s a part of our family, in whatever way he feels comfortable with,” she told me quietly. I pushed her away from me, so that I could look on her face.

 

“You are remarkable. I love you so very, very much,” I told her and pulled her down into another passionate kiss, needing for her to know just how much I loved her.

 

***

 

The next morning, we were surprised to find Harry at breakfast again. Twice in one month, he must be going for some sort of record here. It gave Anwen and me the perfect time to talk with him about Minerva’s offer. We had agreed that we wouldn’t take the jobs, if he objected. This was going to be his only year where he would get to be a kid and have fun at school, even though he was an adult already.

 

“So, Harry. Professor McGonagall came by yesterday, and had an interesting proposition for us,” Anwen said gently and Harry’s head shot up and he looked at her excitedly.

 

“She took my advice and asked you to teach Defense?” he asked, excited over the prospect.

 

“You knew?” I spit out, thankfully my mouth was empty. I was in shock.

 

“I told her that Aunt Winnie would be the best, please tell me that you’re going to take it. We all want you to, Ginny, Hermione, Ron, Neville, Luna; we all want you there,” he told her with a big smile. “The D.A. will be so excited.”

 

“Well, it won’t just be me,” she told him, looking over at me and taking my hand. “Your godfather will be teaching the younger years, through fourth year. I’ll be taking the fifth through seventh years,” she explained.

 

“Thank goodness, we’ll pass our NEWT’s without any problem then, heck, for those of you who are going on into the Aurors, you’ll probably be at an advantage,” Hermione said. “Can you tell me the text early, so I can start reading?”

 

Anwen got a bright grin at the young witch, and shook her head. “Hermione, we’re still trying to decide if this is really the best. We wanted to make sure that you were all going to be fine with it?”

 

“Aunt Winnie, Ginny will be ecstatic, you’re going to have to throw her out of your quarters,” Harry teased, but I knew that it wasn’t far from the truth. We continued to talk, Anwen explaining that there would be two Defense classrooms, because we would be teaching simultaneously. Good thing too, Anwen will keep the place far too neat for me.

 

“What are you going to do with the kids while you’re teaching?” Hermione asked, and Anwen looked at me before answering.

 

“I think that we will be hiring a full time nanny. She’ll have her own quarters at the school, but we need someone who can help teach the older three, while still keeping things under control while we’re at work or in classes. Ethan will need to be Apparated to school and back each day as well,” Anwen explained, and the sheer volume of logistics that this was going to require was overwhelming.

 

“I’m so glad that you’re going to take this,” Harry said happily. It was the most relaxed I’d seen him in a long while.

 

“Hey kid, fancy a ride later?” I asked him. We had discovered some twisty back roads that were perfect for riding the motorbikes.

 

“Can’t today, Uncle Sirius. I’m taking Ginny into London,” he answered as he stuffed more food into his mouth.

 

“Ah, well, that would explain why we’re seeing you before lunch,” I quipped back and he looked at me.

 

“I saved the world, I deserve to sleep in,” he told me and his mother shook her head at him.

 

“You know, we’re only going to take that excuse a little longer there, young man. ‘I saved the world, I don’t need to make my bed.’ or ‘I saved the world, why do I need to take the trash out?’, that excuse is only going to cut it until the end of the summer, mister,” she told him and everyone started laughing.

 

“Don’t think that it’s actually working now,” he muttered under his breath and James and I started laughing at him.

 

“Are you going to show Ginny your new tattoo today?” Anwen asked, changing the subject.

 

“Harry got a tattoo? I want one,” Evan cried.

 

“Me too,” Ethan added.

 

“You will not be getting a tattoo until you’re of age, young man. Now eat the rest of your breakfast, and then you have chores to do this morning. The sheets aren’t going to strip themselves from your beds and the gnomes need to be removed from the gardens,” Lily reprimanded Evan.

 

“Ethan, you and John are to help Evan with the de-gnoming. Girls, there’s a list by the door of herbs and flowers that we need for the potions making. Hermione will help you, but it’s your responsibility to cut the plants. Understand?” I told them, and Emma, Lilyan and Jamie nodded at me. “Jamie, we need two dragonflies as well, think you can handle that?”

 

“Yes, Mummy. I never have problems catching bugs,” she told me brightly.

 

“That’s a good little angel. Grandma Mini is coming over later, so I want all of you down either reading in your beds or taking your naps when I get home from the Ministry. She loves to play with all of you so much,” I told them, and the older ones nodded in agreement.

 

“Well, it sounds like everything will be in order while we’re gone. Shall we be off to the Ministry?” James asked and I nodded at him. I helped Anwen up from the table, and she seemed somewhat unsteady on her feet today.

 

“Are you okay?” I asked her quietly.

 

“I think the new potion may be affecting my balance a little. I’m sure it will go away, I’ll just hold onto you, my love,” she answered as she slipped her hand into my arm. Will I ever stop worrying about her?

 

 

Anwen POV:

 

I had always appreciated the time between when the sun fell below the horizon, and the sky turned dark. It was a beautiful night, warm enough that the breeze was welcome, but not so hot that you felt like you might melt. The blues of the day were giving way to splashes of pinks, yellows and oranges. I had done my time in the whirlpool after dinner, and Fleur had helped me out of the whirlpool, but then she needed to head home; leaving me alone on the patio. I sat down on the chair and put the long loose dress on over my swimsuit and reattached my leg, but when I had stood to go back indoors, my mind felt scattered and my leg felt like rubber. I decided that I would wait here until someone could walk with me back into the house. It was rare that I got a moment alone, and I relished them when they came as of late. I settled down on the chaise and watched the colors of the setting sun.

 

Minerva was thrilled that we had decided to take the jobs at Hogwarts this year. With her new duties as Headmistress, she had asked me to be Head of Gryffindor house as well, which I found both honor-filled and worrisome. She had also let me know what would be happening with the expanded seventh year class, and about the Head Boy and Girl, Prefects and Quidditch captains. I was quite excited about when the Hogwarts letters arrived. Sirius and I would discuss texts tomorrow, so that the booksellers could stock them. I remembered the last time that I went through this, but unlike three years ago, there was no risk that we wouldn’t be starting the school year off as professors. Maybe I can ease myself away from the Ministry, with these new teaching duties. I’m having a much harder time with this than I thought that I would; and I don’t want to tell Sirius, but it’s just too much. I hurt far too much, and I’m having a very difficult time breathing.

 

I didn’t hear any footsteps, and it wasn’t until he began speaking that I realized that someone was standing behind me.

 

“You know, you could make a man paranoid, the way you’ve been avoiding me lately,” Remus said to me, and I turned my head to look at him.

 

“I haven’t been avoiding you, I just haven’t sought you out. I have been avoiding the argument that we’re liable to have,” I told him calmly. Truth be told, I had been missing him; I desperately wanted to talk with him about what I had learned about Narcissa Malfoy’s possible involvement in Bastien’s birth. He really was like my brother now, and I needed his comfort and counsel.

 

“Anwen, I won’t fight with you about this. We just disagree on how Greyback should be handled. Families can disagree and still be part of a family,” he told me and I closed my eyes and shook my head at him.

 

“Please, Remus, not now,” I begged, putting my head in my right hand and leaning it on the arm rest of the chair. “I had an awful day at court, I’m going to have to testify tomorrow; there’s something going on with Sirius’ son that I can’t get my brain around and tonight is Stella’s first full moon. Please, I don’t have the energy to debate ethics with you.”

 

“When have you ever not had the energy to debate?” he asked, but I couldn’t even answer him.

 

He put his hand on my shoulder and it was enough to break me. I had been trying so hard to hold it all together today that this simple act of kindness from my dearest friend brought my carefully constructed wall down. My shoulders began to shake and the tears just cascaded out of me. He didn’t say any more, he just knelt down and enveloped me in his arms and held me as I cried, like he had done so many times before. After a few minutes I was able to pull myself together, and he sat down on the ground next to the deck chaise that I was in.

 

“Why don’t you start at the beginning, and tell me what’s got you so upset?” he asked and I nodded at him.

 

“Narcissa’s trial started today. Draco and Bastien were in the gallery, and he was just shooting daggers with his eyes at me. Sirius was able to speak with him for a few minutes after the morning session, but I don’t see how we are ever going to make things better with him. I am so torn over what we should do with Cissy. From listening to her, I’m sure that Lucius put her up to half of the things that she’s charged with; but she refuses to implicate him. Andromeda tried to plead with her, implicate her husband to save herself; but she won’t do it,” I was rambling, but I knew that Remus was used to my verbal diarrhea when I got upset.

 

“Tomorrow, I have to get up in court and talk about what happened when she created the poison that was used against me when Lilyan was born...Remus, she’s going to be sent away, for a long time. Given the sentences that have been imposed already this week, she’s looking at fifteen to twenty-five years. And then, there’s the information that we’re finding out about Bastien,” I told him quietly.

 

“Anwen, what’s going on? I can see it on your face, you and James look at each other strangely every time Sirius mentions the boy,” he told me, and I exhaled greatly.

 

“Sirius doesn’t know this, yet. James and I were talking the other day, and we don’t want to tell him until we’re absolutely sure. It would appear that Narcissa and Bella may have orchestrated Bastien’s birth...to get at the Black Family fortune; and their plan may indeed work, since he is considered pureblood; and our children are not,” I told my friend quietly, and he sat in stunned silence.

 

“You have to tell Sirius,” he told me, his voice resolute.

 

“I will, I promise. Renoir has gone to France to do some research, as soon as he’s back, I will tell Sirius everything that I know. I wanted to wait until Narcissa’s trial was over, just so that he could be as impartial as possible. He still might be called to speak on her behalf, as the eldest male of her birth family,” I told him and Remus nodded. I hate all of these arcane Wizarding blood laws. 

 

We again were silent as we watched the vibrant colors of the sky begin to dull and darken. The purples and blues were beginning to mix in, and I knew that we needed to get inside. I wanted to hug and kiss Stella, and make sure that she was fed before the Marauders took my little girl down for her first change with our family.  Ewan was here as well, to administer her last dose of Wolfsbane; he had constructed a magical window, so that he could watch her change tonight.

 

“Anwen, don’t worry about Stella. Sirius and James would never let anything happen to that little girl,” he told me and I nodded at him.

 

“I know, it just breaks my heart that she...and you...still have to go through this. Remus, I didn’t give birth to her, but I am her mother. My baby is going to be in pain, and I can’t stop it. My daughter is going to suffer tonight,” I told him, realizing it was the first time that I had called her that, even though in my heart, she had been such since the first time I laid my eyes on her.

 

“Anwen, don’t worry about it. The Wolfsbane really does help, I promise. I wouldn’t lie to you, not about this,” he told me and I nodded at him.

 

“I just wish I could be there, to make sure that she’s not frightened, or hurting,” I told him, tears again streaming down my face.

 

“Sirius will be there. Her Daddy won’t let anything happen to her, he’s pretty ferocious about his pups,” he reminded me and I couldn’t help but smile at the characterization of my husband.

 

“Come on, let’s get inside and get ready for your transformation,” I told him and he stood up and offered me his hands. I slipped mine into them, and as I stood up, the world began spinning and I was thankful he was there because I would have fallen down.

 

“Winnie, are you all right?” he asked alarmed, his arms wrapping around me holding me up.

 

“Um, the new potion, I’m a little lightheaded. It will pass,” I told him, trying to swallow down the pain that standing had caused. I can’t let anyone know just how bad this hurts. Come on girl, were you an actress or not?  After a minute I was able to take steps toward the house, but Remus refused to let go of me until I was in my favorite chair in the small sitting room of our flat. 

 

My mother had bathed all the children, Stella included, and gotten them ready for bed. Ginny and Hermione were reading them stories, while Ma was rocking Edmund, leaving me to feed Stella her last bottle of the night. She was done only minutes before moon rise, and we needed to get her downstairs. Sirius wasn’t happy about my insistence that I come down with them, but I told him that I was going to hold her and tell her that she was loved until I couldn’t be with her any longer.

 

Ewan was in the kitchen with Remus. Tonks barely registered that it was the night of a full moon anymore, but I felt like I was breaking apart inside at what it would do to my precious little girl. Ewan gave her the final dose of the potion and we all traveled down the stairs. James carried Stella, while Sirius helped me. Ewan followed us down so that he could assure that I made it back upstairs.

 

I knew from Remus’ changes that whatever clothes she was wearing would be torn to bits as she changed, so I gently removed her little sleeper, and left her only in her nappy. We had put a change of clothes and other supplies on a shelf for the morning.

 

“We’ll be fine Anwen, she’ll probably just sleep through the night, like she does in her crib upstairs,” Sirius told me, his arms wrapped around me, as I held the tiny little girl. Silent sobs racked me, and my tears fell on the head of our little girl. I couldn’t bring myself to speak, so I just looked up at my dear husband and nodded slightly at him.

 

I heard the alarm go off, letting us know that there were just two minutes until moon rise. I kissed Sirius, and watched as he changed over into Padfoot, nestling himself down on the floor. I took a steadying breath, and kissed Stella. “Mommy loves you, and I’ll see you first thing after sunrise, my sweet girl. Your Daddy is with you, and Uncle Prongs isn’t far away. We love you so much, and we’ll will always protect you, I promise,” I told her as I nestled her down against Padfoot’s fur. The mangy black dog licked my face, and I looked at my husband and shook my head.

 

“I know that I’ve asked you not to do that,” I told him with a laugh, thankful for his breaking the tension of the moment. I looked over at James, who had also changed over, and Prongs nodded his majestic rack at me and Ewan helped me from the room, locking and sealing the door to the secured room behind us. 

 

“Are you going to watch the transformation with me?” he asked me as we were climbing the stairs.

 

“I can’t. I’ve watched Remus all these years, I know what’s going to happen. I can’t watch my little girl go through that,” I told him and he nodded at me, going his separate way at the top of the stairs. I began to hobble toward our rooms, when Lily met me. She gently wrapped her arms around me and held me as I cried.

 

“They’re our children, Winnie. We feel everything that they feel, only ten times more. That’s why we’re mothers. Come on, I’m spending the night in your flat,” she told me and I didn’t even have the strength to protest. She helped me change into my nightgown, and I slipped into my bed, removing my leg and propping it next to the bed.

 

“I’ll be out in the sitting room, and I’ve got the alarm charms set, so if the children need anything, I’ll be awakened. The last thing that we need is you trying to get up in the night and tripping over something. I don’t like sleeping alone on these nights anyway. The bed is far too large,” she told me, and I nodded at her. I had always found sleeping on the night of a full moon very difficult; worrying about the guys. The only reason that you can sleep now, is because of the volume of potions that you’re given. She bid me goodnight and I took my potions and was quickly asleep.

 

 

Sirius POV:

 

I was certain that Anwen was going to bust the door to the little room in the cellar off the hinges when morning came, and was pleasantly surprised when we were able to come upstairs before she took Stella away from me.

 

“How did she do?” she asked as we came up the stairs, and all three of us started laughing.

 

“Well, she’s mobile when she’s a cub; it was...overwhelming,” I told her with a yawn.

 

“What?”

 

“Anwen, she was crawling all over everywhere, up on top of Uncle Prongs antlers and then falling down his back. She was trying to catch Moony’s tail and I think that she nipped at him once or twice. I finally had to pick her up and plop her back down in her little paddock. She finally fell asleep after about two hours of that however,” I told her and Anwen was stroking her face.

 

“She wasn’t in too much pain, was she?” she asked as she kissed her forehead.

 

“I don’t think so, the change didn’t seem to faze her at all,” I told her. “I bet she’s hungry though. Might need to take her a bowl of milk or something next month, she woke up once during the night, and I think she wanted to eat.”

 

“Oh, sweet angel, Mommy has your bottle right her,” Anwen told her, giving her the bottle, which Stella greedily took down. My wife looked up at me with love and devotion. “Thank you,” she whispered. I knelt down beside her.

 

“She’s my daughter too,” I told her as I kissed both my girls. It was still early, but Lily had a full breakfast ready for us. I was half tempted to see what Stella would do with the Black Pudding, but I didn’t think that my mother-in-law would want to clean up after her if she didn’t take well to it. The five adults and Stella sat around the kitchen table, talking quietly, waiting for the rest of the household to wake up.

 

“There’s time, you might be able to catch a quick nap before you have to go into the Ministry,” Lily suggested to James, and I thought that it wasn’t a bad idea. “It was nice of Kingsley, sorry, the Minister to set the time at ten this morning, rather than at nine. Knew that you’d all be up through the night.”

 

“It was, he’s an extraordinary man, and I think that we will all do well under his administration,” James said, and we all agreed.

 

Conversation continued over breakfast, and the morning Prophet arrived. There was the usual drivel about changes at the Ministry, and what new laws had been passed or repealed as the case may be. There was a short announcement about Anwen and me taking the positions at Hogwarts for the fall, and several Board members were interviewed. The most glowing response came from Augusta Longbottom who called Anwen, “ a shining example of what a Witch should be. If we were all half as decent as Professor Black, Voldemort would have never gained power in the first place. I am thrilled that she will be teaching my grandson this year.” I read it aloud, hoping that I had done her voice justice.

 

“Lovely, I’m always so happy when I’m in the papers,” Anwen moaned, rolling her eyes. “Please, tell me there isn’t a picture too?”

 

“Oh, no; there is one. I think that it might be our engagement picture,” I told her, and turned the paper so that she could look.

 

“That it is, at least I liked that one of us. We were darned cute, weren’t we?” she asked me and I cocked my eyebrow at her.

 

“Were? Speak for yourself there old lady. I’m still as young and handsome as I was at school.”

 

“Yes, and your ego still needs the chair next to you to sit upon,” she quipped back and we all broke out laughing. Then, Lily gasped and dropped her spoon.

 

“I don’t believe it,” she said loudly, pointing at the opposite side of the paper. I turned it so that I could see, and there was a rather large picture of Harry and Ginny, ducking into the jewelry store in Diagon Alley. The caption underneath questioned if they were getting engaged.

 

“He would have told us, right? I mean, I expected that they would, at some point, but, he would have told us before he di,?” she mumbled and James put an arm around her.

 

“Yes, dear, he would have. They aren’t there for that, but I can’t tell you what they were there for. Anyway, he wants to use the Potter family ring, the one that my father gave to my mother, when he asks Ginny to marry him. Just like I gave you my grandmother’s ring,” he told her and it seemed to placate her somewhat.

 

“So you know what they were doing in London?” Lily asked James and he nodded at her.

 

“I know some of it, I don’t think that I want to know all of it. I would venture to guess that they were getting a surprise for Molly in that picture, something that the Weasley children had talked about. Harry was helping with it. That’s all that I’m going to tell you,” he answered in his annoyingly calm voice that always bothered me when we were in school.  Hated it when my best friend had to dock me points, and he’d get all calm and quiet about it.

 

“He looks almost as thrilled with the attention as I am,” Anwen remarked, looking at the picture.

 

“You know, for two people who were willing to risk their lives to save others, you’re exceptionally uncomfortable with the spotlight,” Remus teased and all my wife did was nod.

 

“The only recognition that I ever need is from the people who really know and love me, and have it said that I raised my children to be good people,” she said quietly, and I didn’t doubt for a minute that it was true.

 

We were nearly finished with breakfast, Stella had drunk her bottle, and Anwen was giving her a small bit of her porridge when Caldwalder came in, kissed his daughter on the head, and then whisked away our youngest daughter without another word.

 

“Glad that my parents have accepted her and all, but...” Anwen started.

 

“Don’t complain, Anwen. There are far too many people who wouldn’t want Stella in their family,” Remus told her and Anwen cocked her head at him.

 

“That’s why she’s in this family. We’ve already decided that being fuzzy isn’t a problem. We all put up with Sirius shedding all over the furniture,” she teased and I reached over and pulled her into a searing kiss, even though we were both laughing.

 

Our attention was distracted from whatever quick comment I could have come up with by a large Hawk Owl flying in the window of the kitchen. 

 

“That’s King’s owl,” Anwen said, and I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to know how she knew the Minister’s personal owl. The large bird landed in front of my wife, and held his leg out for her to untie the scroll that was attached. She fed him a bit of her toast, and the bird was off. She opened it and I watched as her face fell and she leaned her head down on her hands, he elbows planted on the table, the letter still between her fingers.

 

“What’s wrong?” I asked, rubbing her back. She didn’t say anything, but handed the note to James, who quickly read it and then folded it and put it in his lap.

 

“We’ll head in shortly. I assume you’d like to talk at home, before we get there?” he asked her, and I was rapidly getting more and more concerned, as they were talking in code again.

 

“Yes,” she answered meekly, and held her hand out, requesting the parchment back. 

 

“Winnie, please tell me what’s the matter? What has you so upset? What’s in that note from King?” I begged her. She swallowed hard and looked at me, her eyes filled with sadness and regret.

 

“The Auror Department has uncovered new evidence, and because of it, they can amend the charges against Narcissa Malfoy. They have proof of Sexual Coercion and Extortion, but whether the charges are added or not will be at the discretion of the party whom they were committed against, since neither was a minor at the time,” she said quietly, and I couldn’t help but notice that only Lily was truly shocked by this statement.

 

“Anwen, who’s the party? Who did she do this to?” I asked her, and my wife wouldn’t look at me. She had her hand over her mouth, staring into her coffee cup. “Anwen, tell me what’s going on!”

 

“You,” she whispered. “You’re the party that the crimes were committed against.” 


Chapter 9: Chapter 8: Violated
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Chapter 8:

Violated

 

Anwen POV:

 

I didn’t want to look at Sirius, not with the bombshell that I had just dropped on him, but I knew that I needed to; he needed to know that he could find strength in me. I slowly lifted my head and turned it to look at him. My right hand came up from my lap and caressed his face.

 

“Sirius, it’s a long story, and I had so desperately hoped that I was wrong...” I stopped talking, I wasn’t sure that I could form words, so instead I sent Sirius all of my love and devotion through our bond.

 

“Why don’t you go to the Library? I’ll take care of the children,” Lily said, and I nodded at her. James stood and Remus had started to, but I gently shook my head at him. I would need him later, so that I could weep away from my husband. Right now, I needed to be about calm and strength. I gingerly stood up, not wanting the pain or the lightheadedness from the potions to overtake me. Sirius instinctively reached for my arm to help and I smiled at him. He just looked through me though, his mind clearly not in his actions or our interactions.

 

We walked across the entryway to the Library, and then closed the door and added a Silencing Charm. James pulled a chair over toward the couch, and we all sat down.

 

“Anwen, please explain to me what’s going on,” he said, working so hard to control his voice, but clearly worried and disappointed. I took a deep breath and started.

 

“Three days ago, a request came into my office. It had been requested that I meet with a prisoner regarding their case. Defendants are permitted one meeting with the prosecution, and usually the Barrister for the defense wants to speak with the cases Solicitor from the Ministry high prosecutors office. This meeting was requested specifically of me, and I couldn’t refuse,” I told him quietly. “Lucius Malfoy wanted to meet with me.”

 

“Anwen!” Sirius roared at me, standing up and stamping his foot. “You were alone with him? Why the hell did you meet with him?”

 

“Sirius, I wasn’t alone. He was accompanied by his two guards, there was full surveillance in the room, he was shackled at his hands and feet and Renoir was Disillusioned in the room with me, because we didn’t trust him. There was no way that he could have hurt me,” I told him quickly and he calmed down a little. “Please, sit down, I promise that he didn’t do anything to me.”

 

“All right, I just worry about you, love,” Sirius told me as he sat down, gently taking my hand and stroking the top of it with his thumb.

 

“He didn’t really want any information, and he had nothing of substance to say. He was concerned with Cissy and Draco, but, not really. I wonder if he has any actual affection for them.  I wasn’t planning on taking any more of his stupidity, so I was getting up to leave,” I told him, and he looked at me puzzled. “He threatened me and the girls, not like he’s ever going to get out of the new prison, so it was an unsubstantiated threat, and did him more harm than good in the long run; but, his threats were useless,” I assured Sirius and he nodded at me. “Then he started running his tongue about you, the family fortune and...Bastien.”

 

“What about my son?” Sirius asked, worry wrinkling his face, and making his scar look more pronounced.

 

“He said that Bella and Cissy had arranged for Bastien’s birth, and that he would be the key to your ruin. I wasn’t sure what he meant, but both Renoir and I thought that it was, odd. When the meeting was over, Renoir took off again for France, to try to find some evidence. He must have found some, and returned with it. Sirius, we need to go and find out what he’s learned,” I told him, squeezing his hand for effect.

 

“You knew about this?” he asked James and his best friend nodded at him.

 

“Yes, I saw Anwen when she arrived back in our office suite after the meeting. It was obvious that she was upset, and we talked for a few minutes. We were both hoping that her concerns would be found wrong. Obviously, they weren’t,” James told him quietly, and Sirius simply nodded at him, deep in thought. A moment later he quickly raised his head to look at me.

 

“This is what caused you to hyperventilate?”

 

“Indirectly. Sirius,” I stopped and dropped my head, I couldn’t look at him while I said this. “Bastien can still lay claim to the Black Family wealth. According to ancient laws, he has the right to the fortune, upon your death. He’s a pureblood, because I’m Muggle–born, our children are only half–bloods,” I said quietly, embarrassed of my lineage for the first time in my life. 

 

“No!” he yelled. “I...I want to do right by him, but, not at the expense of our kids...James, there has to be a way around this,” he yelled. I started to cry and he sat back down on the couch and pulled me to him. “Anwen, love, I’m so sorry, we’ll figure out a way around this,” he whispered to my hair.

 

“Oh, Sirius, I’m the one whose sorry. This is going to be horrible, and I can only imagine what evidence they must have if those are the charges that they’re thinking of bringing against her,” I mumbled. Sirius started to ask me something, but James began speaking.

 

“Before we start hypothesizing about what they may or may not have done, how about if we just go in and hear it straight from Renoir? Sirius, I didn’t push Anwen to tell you about what had happened, and I’m sorry for that. We should have told you the other night, when you got home from Malfoy Manor.”

 

“I understand why you didn’t. Thank you for apologizing,” he replied. We all sat there in silence.

 

James turned his head, and looked at the old grandfather clock that was against the wall. “It’s only six thirty-three, we can’t go into the Ministry yet. Why don’t we all change our clothes and then we’ll head in around eight? That will give us time to deal with this before this morning’s session.”

 

We nodded and Sirius stood and helped me up and we left the room.

 

 

Sirius POV:

 

“Are we ready?” James asked as we were gathered around the floo.

 

“I owled back to Kingsley. We’re to meet in the Conference Room in our offices. The only people who will be there are us, King, Renoir and Lisette,” Anwen said quietly. I desperately wanted her to explain what these charges could mean, what exactly Sexual Coercion is; but I was afraid that the answer would make me sick.

 

We walked through the floo, one by one, and were quickly in the Minister’s offices. It was quiet, still an hour before the Ministry was officially open. The Minister was already there, and told us that the Aurors were in the Conference Room waiting. Anwen reached for my hand and held it tight as we walked in. There were no pleasantries between Anwen and her friends, instead there were curt nods of the head and we all took our seats. 

 

“Can I see the list of amended charges that you’re suggesting?” Anwen asked, and Lisette slid a sheet of parchment across the table at her. The list took up at least twelve inches. Anwen scanned down it slowly, she was still holding my hand in hers and it clenched me tighter.  “You have proof of these? Have you spoken with her? Reviewed her memories?”

 

“We went through the Seduiré house,” Renoir started. “There was a Pensieve, and a well–kept catalog of memories. We were able to witness nearly her entire life, going back to her school days. Felicienne was quite thorough in her record keeping.”

 

“I don’t understand, I don’t remember this woman,” I told them, getting frustrated. 

 

“I know, Sirius,” James told me, putting his hand on my shoulder. “Why don’t we start at the beginning, and specifically pay attention to how Mrs. Malfoy plays into this?”

 

“She will be here at half past nine, and I’ve already informed her Barrister that we want a meeting before court this morning. The Defense needs to know if we’re amending the charges before we start for the day,” the Minister explained, and I nodded.

 

“Monsieur Malfoy was, misguided, in his meeting with Anwen on Monday, he thought that he could intimidate her into giving him information,” Lisette started. “Instead, he put a nail into his own coffin. Renoir hastily came upstairs after their meeting, and told me what he suspected. I agreed with him, and told him to head back to France. I fire called our associates in the French Ministry, and told them that he would be there posthaste, and that we needed whatever information we could amass on Ms. Seduiré.”

 

“Once I was in Paris, I met with two agents and together we went to the family home in Vézelay. It must have just been the two of them living there, because there was no evidence of habitation in several months, and nothing to indicate anyone other than the woman and a young man lived there,” Renoir explained. I nodded, urging him on. 

 

“I wasn’t sure that we were going to find anything, and then I happened upon a concealed room, off the sitting room. The door was cut into the wall, and it didn’t have a door knob, you had to press upon it to make it release. In the small room was the Pensieve and the bottles with her memories. I had three officers work through the night to transcribe them,” he told me, and then pushed a stack of parchment across the table; it had to be at least two inches thick.

 

“As interesting as I’m sure reading all of these would be, we don’t have time. Can you please just hit the highlights?” Anwen asked him, and the French Auror nodded.

 

“Ms. Seduiré was quite obsessed with you, Mr. Black. The memories began with a trip off campus, in what would appear to have been your third year; although I am not quite sure. You and she had a brief rendezvous that day, behind a store, and then you were called away by friends; Chief Potter here was one of them,” Renoir started and I sat there racking my mind, but there was no memory of meeting with any girls behind a store.  

 

“Do you remember this?” I asked James.

 

“I guess, but Sirius, you kissing a girl while we were in Hogsmeade, not really an uncommon event,” James said quietly, and I could hear Anwen exhale next to me. What am I doing to her?

 

“After that, she was enamored with you. She saved memories of every interaction that the two of you ever had. When Anwen began school, Ms. Seduiré was convinced that she was the reason that you and she had never gotten together,” Renoir said quietly, and I could see Anwen nodding next to me.

 

“She maintained contact with several Death Eater families, although her father never specifically joined them, he did back them financially. She became quite close to Madame Lestrange and Madame Malfoy. In November of 1979, she was approached over tea by the Black sisters with a proposition,” he said quietly.

 

“What did they offer her?” I asked him, nearly afraid of what he would say.

 

“You. They had come up with a plan for her to lure you away from Anwen. I have the memory here, if you’d like to see it?” Renoir said, holding up a small glass phial that he took from a box that he had on the table next to him. I could see that there were two more phials in it. I looked at Anwen, and she smiled gently at me, and then reached her other hand over to run her fingers down my cheek. I nodded at Renoir. He stood and dumped the memory into the primary Pensieve in the room, and the images were immediately projected onto the walls around us.

 

I watched in horror as my cousin Bella told Bastien’s mother that they had already tried to get rid of Anwen, but that she was stronger than they had expected. Both she and Cissy were bashing my then girlfriend, but when I looked at Anwen, sitting next to me, she was holding her head high. Bella then suggested that they would be able to get me to forget Anwen, by putting me under the Imperious Curse. Cissy assured Felicienne that once I had been with her, I would have no desire to be with Anwen ever again. Felicienne agreed, and the memory faded.

 

“I have two others, from several weeks later. The first is when they were putting the Curse on you. Madame Malfoy did the spell work, and since it was her intention that you be seduced by Mademoiselle Seduiré, the crime of Sexual Coercion should be added to her indictment. Would you like to see this memory?” he asked me, and I wasn’t sure.

 

“Anwen,” I gently said, asking my wife to turn her head and look at me.  She was staring at the edge of the table with great interest. “Anwen do you want to leave? I need to see what happened. I have to know,” I told her.

 

She closed her eyes and gritted her teeth, and I could tell that she was trying to summon her inner strength. She opened her eyes and looked straight on at me. “I love you,” she whispered with conviction.

 

“And I have always loved you, and forever I will,” I told her back. I wrapped my other hand around our entwined ones, and I nodded at Renoir who dumped the silvery filament into the Pensieve, and again, a memory rose up around the room. We were out at what looked like a nightclub. I frequented them when I was getting information for the Order, and on this night, I was alone. The three women were across the room from me. I watched as my cousin kept trying to curse me, and I kept shaking it off. Finally, she and Bella cast the spell at the same time. When they were sure that I was Imperioused, Felicienne came over, and within moments, I was kissing her. I watched through her eyes as we left the club and went to a local hotel. Bella and Cissy were following us. We went inside and up to a room that she had already paid for. My cousins went into the room next door, but I was sure that they had cast a spell so that they could watch and make sure that the spell didn’t wear off me.

 

I was horror–filled as I watched myself undress this woman that I couldn’t remember, and intimately caress and fondle her.  Anwen pulled her hand from mine and rested her elbows on the table, hiding her eyes behind her hands. Her shoulders were shaking from her crying.

 

“Stop, I’ve seen enough,” I said, and quickly Renoir tapped the rim of the Pensieve with his wand and the memory fell. I put my arm around Anwen’s shoulders, but she didn’t move, she just sat there, crying. I could only imagine what this was doing to her. Everyone was quiet, clearly waiting for me to make a move.

 

“What is that last memory there?” James asked, and I was thankful that someone had spoken to keep the meeting progressing. I wasn’t thinking about anything else right now, except my sweet wife, who seemed to be in so much pain.

 

“It’s about six weeks after that last memory, Mademoiselle Seduiré has become pregnant and is trying to tell Monsieur Black that he is the father; however, he has no memory of her and he sends her away. She is heartbroken. I can let you watch it if you would like.”

 

“No, I...we’ve seen enough. What happened then?” I asked Renoir, Anwen still silently crying next to me.

 

“The sisters convinced her to go to France and have the baby there. They had already purchased a house for such a reason, and had set up a small bank account for her. They promised her that they would send you to her, as soon as they had fixed your memory of the night in question,” he told us and I nodded at him.

 

“Thank you for your swift work on this. What I don’t understand is how I don’t have any memories at all of her. I don’t even remember her at school,” I told everyone as I ran my hands over the very short hair on my head.

 

“It’s probably a very strong memory charm,” Anwen said quietly. “The only person who went looking was Remus, and while he’s more than an adequate Legilimens, he isn’t a Master. You’re going to need someone stronger to go in and find the memories.”

 

“You, you can do it.”

 

“I won’t. You asked me two years ago to do it for you, and I told you no then. Both Kingsley and Lisette are Master Legilimens, have one of them do it, please?”

 

“But, love, I trust you,” I told her. I was already feeling vulnerable and disgusted here, I didn’t really want the Minister of Magic or my wife’s friend crawling through my brain.

 

“Sirius, please don’t make me,” she cried at me. “I already had to watch you make love to her from her eyes, I can’t bear to do it from yours.”

 

My heart broke as I watched my wife disintegrate into herself, laying herself down on the table and sobbing. “Fine, Kingsley, will you do this?” I looked at him, and his face was soft and understanding.

 

“Of course. James why don’t you take Anwen to her office, we’ll meet you there when I’m finished here,” he suggested, and James came over and helped Anwen up. She curled herself against him, and it appeared that James half carried her from the room.

 

Kingsley came over and took the seat next to me, and told me to close my eyes and relax. He was as gentle in his probing, and commented that things were much neater than the last time that he had looked through my mind, after I had lost my memories two years ago. It seemed to take him forever to move through my mind, but he finally said that he thought that he might have found them.

 

Suddenly, I was flooded with images. Felli at school, cheering for our Quidditch team, even though she lived in Slytherin. Being in Transfiguration class with her, and making her a rose out of a bent quill. The day in Hogsmeade; another of her throwing herself at me, and begging me to take her to a broom closet. Her pushing Anwen aside so that she could stand next to me, and me sidestepping her and again, taking my Winnie’s hand to walk with her. Seeing her glare at me as Anwen rode on my back out to Hogsmeade our first trip into town her third year. Having her yell at me in our seventh year, because I still wouldn’t take her to one of my favorite broom closets, her promising me things that...I wouldn’t even do them with girls then, and I certainly had no desire to do them with my wife.

 

I could remember that awful night, feeling that I was being cursed, and trying to throw off the Imperious. I could feel myself walking away with Felicienne, even though my mind was screaming that I didn’t want to do this, that I wanted to be with Anwen. I remembered having sex with her, pledging my love to her. I woke up in the middle of the night with her wrapped around me, and was horrified. Bella met me in the hallway and then there was nothing more from that night. I could remember Felli trying to talk with me a few weeks later and being disgusted by her and walking away, and right into Cissy, who must have altered the memory charm because everything went blank.

 

“That was a very strong memory charm that they put on you,” Kingsley said. I just nodded at him.

 

“The rest, we pieced together from bank records and papers we found when the Aurors raided the Malfoy and Lestrange estates in the 1980’s. Bella had been made the guardian of Bastien by mid 1981, in case anything were to happen to his mother. You and Anwen were targeted heavily by Voldemort, with the hope that you would both be killed. Once you were dead, they planned on arranging the death of Mademoiselle Seduiré. They knew that your holdings were extensive already, and that, with you gone, all of your mother’s wealth would go to them, eventually,” Renoir explained.

 

I just sat there, feeling disgusted and sick. I had been forced to be with a woman that I didn’t love, by my cousins, so that they could get at the family money. I had a son from this encounter, and I couldn’t help but think that I never wanted to look at him again; because I wasn’t sure how I would look at his face and not see the memories that had just flashed before me. But, most of all, I wondered how my sweet wife would ever be able to look at me in the eyes after what we had all just seen.

 

“What happens next?” I let stumble from my lips.

 

“You need to decide if you are going to amend the charges, or if you are going to leave things the way they stand. I hate to rush you, but we need to know before court opens today,” Lisette said.

 

Anwen POV:

 

I was thankful that James had gotten me back to my office, and that he’d had the presence of mind to refrain from saying anything. He just sat there, and held me as I wept.

 

“What are we going to do?” I finally mumbled.

 

“About which part?” James questioned me, and I pulled back enough to look at him.

 

“All of it. God, when this comes out in open court...that poor boy will be ruined. He was created not out of love, but out of trickery and as a pawn,” I told him. “And Sirius, he’s, James you’re going to have to help him. He’s going to blame himself,” I told him quietly.

 

“We will Anwen. You’re not angry at him?” he questioned me.

 

“Angry, no. He didn’t willingly go with another woman. I am, again, reminded that if he wasn’t such a man–whore while we were in school, this wouldn’t have even been an issue, but I can’t change who he was. I...just...” I stopped. This was not something that I wanted to talk about now. “James, we have to keep this out of open court. There has to be some way that we can get Narcissa to take a deal, because if we have to call Renoir to testify, if we have to show those memories in court...I don’t know if I’m strong enough. He’s my...please help me,” I pleaded with him.

 

“All right. We’ll talk with Sirius and see what we can do. I don’t want this getting out either, we’re just starting to get things back to normal, it would be hard on all of us. Should I see if they’re done?”

 

“Please,” I asked him and he nodded at me and got up and opened the door. As he did, my rumpled and red–faced husband was in the doorway, looking at me. When I lifted my eyes to his, he immediately dropped his and I could feel his shame. I knew what I had to do. I stood and slowly walked to him. I took his face gently between my hands and lifted it so that he would have to look at me, I opened myself and let all of my love and devotion flow to him.

 

“This changes nothing between us. What was done to you, was done against your will. It’s no different than when I was attacked in Hogsmeade. I. Love. You,” I told him slowly, accenting every word. “I have loved you since I met you, and I will love long after we have died. We will get through this, you and I, together,” I told him, wrapping my arms around him and holding him to me. I could feel him bury his head in my shoulder and begin crying. I tugged him toward the couch and he sat down, and I nestled myself in his lap and held him as he wept. James left us alone.

 

“I’m so sorry,” he whispered over and over and I just told him that everything would turn out all right. When he had finally calmed himself down, I pulled away from him and wiped his face, and then wiped mine.

 

“What have you decided to do?” I asked him.

 

“Anwen, she has to pay, what she did, all of it. I know it will hurt Andromeda, but I think that we can explain it to her, but Cissy needs to pay. She’s as much of a monster as her husband is,” he told me and I nodded at him.

 

“Do you trust me?” I asked him. James and I were going to take care of this, and we were going to do it our way.

 

“Of course,” he told me, a part of a smile creeping from his lips. “I love you.”

 

“And I love you,” I affirmed. “Wait here, don’t talk with anyone about this until I return. James and I are going to handle it.”

 

“Anwen, this is my fight...” he started.

 

“No, it’s our fight, and in this case, I hold all the cards. She is going to be so very sorry that she tangled with me, and the people that I love,” I told him, getting angry now. I wanted to do battle with Narcissa Malfoy. I wanted to get back at her for trying to kill Lilyan and me four and half years ago, I wanted to see her punished for not only tricking my husband, but for the pain that she would undoubtedly inflict on young Bastien. He wasn’t my son, but he needed someone to fight for him, and one day Sirius would want to be his father.

 

“Anwen, please...”

 

“Sirius, just stay here. Please, leave this to the Aurors and James and me. I’ll be back when we’re done. Relax, would you like some Pepper-Up Potion, I have a stock in my desk?”

 

“Why are you keeping a pick me up in your desk?” he asked me, cocking his eyebrow.

 

“Because of days like this,” I told him, only partially lying. 

 

“Fine, it might help. Hurry back, I need you,” he told me as I went to get the potion from my desk. 

 

“I’ll keep myself open to you, if it gets too bad, please let me know and I’ll slip out. Would it help to have Remus here?” I asked him as I handed him the phial and he drank it down.

 

“It would. I assume you told him what was going on?” he asked as he handed the small glass back to me.

 

“Some of it, I’ll tell him to bring the chess set, that might help,” I told him. “I have to go,” I said, looking at my wall clock, letting me know that I only had about eight minutes before we were to meet with Narcissa and her lawyer. I kissed him gently, caressing his face as I did. “Wait here, I’ll have Cedric fire call home and send Remus over. I love you, please don’t doubt that.”

 

“I love you, I just wish I was...” he stopped, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what he was going to say. I quickly left the room and gave instructions to Cedric, who set about completing them.

 

I returned to the conference room, where the rest were waiting for me. 

 

“He wants to go ahead with the charges, but I would like to know if it’s possible for us to make a deal with her, to keep the details from being presented in open court,” I said as I walked in. “What is she looking at if she’s convicted by the Wizengamot?”

 

“With all of these charges, seventy-five to one hundred years. She’ll be an old woman before she’s out. The more serious charges compound since they were committed simultaneously,” James told me.

 

“We can offer her sixty-five years, no chance for parole, it will be better than what she will get in court. I’d be willing to drop it to fifty if we could get her to testify against her husband,” Lisette said and I nodded at her.

 

“Draco will be her weakness. Is there any way that we could exchange her silence about Bastien for leniency on her son?” I asked. The mother in me knew that someone needed to advocate for that poor boy.

 

“If she’s willing to testify that her son was forced into servitude of the Dark Lord, we could keep him out of prison altogether. Give him ten years of probation, magical monitoring for that time to ensure that he doesn’t dabble in Dark Magic, order him to serve community service; but no prison time,” Lisette said and I nodded again.

 

“One other thing, James and King, I need your help here. Is there any way that we can assure that Bastien won’t go after the family fortune?” I asked.

 

“Anwen, the inheritance laws are rather specific and very detailed. We need to have the Goblins look at your accounts,” James told me. “He can’t do anything until Sirius were to die, and that’s not likely to happen for quite some time, so I think that you’re safe. We’ll set up a meeting next week, okay?” I nodded at him.

 

“Well, I think that we’re done here,” Kingsley said. “Once we have a plea agreement with Mrs. Malfoy, I want the files sealed so no one can open them, without my approval, understood? We don’t need my legal counsel’s personal issues made public,” he said and I smiled at my old partner, thankful for his protective nature of me. “I will refrain from getting involved in these negotiations, but if you need me, please send for me. I’ll review the case that’s coming up after Mrs. Malfoy’s so that we can begin deliberations during session today. Anwen, does Sirius need anything?”

 

“Remus was coming over to keep him company, using the private floo. They were going to play chess to pass the time,” I told him and he smiled at me. 

 

“Don’t hesitate to ask...”

 

“I know. Thank you, sir,” I told him, smiling at my friend and partner. Renoir said that he was going to take the files and memories downstairs and secure them himself and the other three of us headed down to the small conference room that was down the hall from the Wizengamot court room.

 

“Let me do the talking,” Lisette asked and I nodded at her.

 

“I’ll try and be quiet,” I told her, giving her the slyest smile that I could. She suppressed a chuckle and smiled at me. Narcissa and her counsel, one of the Nott brothers, were sitting in the hallway. Draco and Bastien were with them, standing. I avoided making eye contact, and James put a protective hand on my back while we walked down the hall.

 

“I’m sorry, but only you and your counsel can come into this meeting,” Lisette told Narcissa and I watched as she nodded.

 

“We object to her presence in the meeting,” Nott said, pointing at me.

 

“She’s the Senior Undersecretary for Legal Affairs, she’s required to be here for such high level plea agreements,” James told them.

 

“What makes you think that I’m going to take a plea?” Narcissa said and Lisette responded.

 

“What I’m holding will. Let’s go in,” she pointed her finger, indicating the room. Narcissa and Nott sat on one side of the table and we sat on the other. Lisette pulled out three scrolls, two memory phials and enlarged a small pensieve that she was carrying in her pocket. She unfurled one of the parchments and slid it across the table.

 

“The charges against you have been amended, please review them and then we’ll discuss your plea deal,” she said calmly, and I knew that she was reading Narcissa’s mood by the way that she had furrowed her brow. It was only obvious to me, because we had done hundreds of interviews together over the years; it was the only outward sign of her empathic abilities. I was watching Narcissa’s magic begin to fluctuate wildly.

 

“These are preposterous charges, you have no evidence of them,” Narcissa said, flinging the paper back across the table for effect. 

 

“That’s where you’re wrong. Your accomplice, Mademoiselle Seduiré kept meticulous records and memory files. We found everything in her home in France,” Lisette said and I watched as Narcissa’s face sagged and she suddenly didn’t look beautiful and haughty; but instead old and broken. “We would like to spare you the embarrassment of having all of this be produced in open court,” Lisette said quietly.

 

“What do you want?” Cissy asked, sounding defeated.

 

“We’re prepared to offer you a straight sixty-five years, no parole in return for ending this today,” Lisette said and Narcissa started shaking her head.

 

“That’s too much time, I haven’t done anything. I’ll take my chances with the full Wizengamot,” she said fearfully.

 

“Based on the crimes here, and how they have been ruling, you could expect seventy-five to one hundred years,” James told here. “There are two counts of attempted murder, one of sexual coercion, several of extortion, not to mention your innumerable counts of possession of controlled potion making supplies and the charges of unlawful imprisonment and kidnapping related to your husband’s activities.”

 

“I had nothing to do with those girls. That was entirely Lucius,” she bellowed at us.

 

“We’re prepared to drop those charges, if you’ll testify against him,” Lisette said calmly. I was curling my hands around the edge of the chair to keep from clapping in glee at the way Narcissa was squirming. 

 

“He’s my husband,” she replied, looking panic–stricken. “If I go against him, he’ll...he would never betray me.”

 

“Interesting that you should say that,” Lisette responded. “I have something that I’d like you to see,” she continued as she lifted one of the phials and I must have gotten a concerned look on my face, because I felt James had on my shoulder and I looked at him and he mouthed “don’t worry” at me.

 

Lisette dimmed the lights in the room and poured the memory into the pensive. The memory rose up like a little three dimensional play in front of us. It was the interview with Lucius from three days ago. I dropped my head and let my hair fall over my face to hide my satisfied smile. The entire scene played out, and I could tell from the angle that it was Renoir’s memory of the events. When it was over, Lisette returned the lights to their previous illumination level and I looked at my husband’s cousin.

 

Narcissa was shaking her head and now openly crying. “I can’t believe...he told you...that...bastard,” she mumbled and then dissolved into tears, laying her head and chest down on the table.

 

“What are you proposing?” Nott asked, seeming disgusted that he was even working on a plea agreement.

 

“She does a full elocution to all the crimes that she alone committed, or those in which she is the only remaining living party. She will be found guilty of the creation of a lethal potion, attempted murder by said potion, aiding and abetting a known criminal, Sexual Coercion, planned extortion, unlawful use of an Unforgivable Curse, and Malfeasance in relation to a member of the Council of Thirteen. The remainder of the charges will be dropped. We will expect her to testify at her husband’s trial,” Lisette said, clearly already having made plans for this. I again gripped the chair to help contain my excitement.

 

“Forty years, with the chance for parole after twenty,” Nott countered.

 

“There’s no way, fifty is as low as I’ll go; she’s done too much, nearly destroyed too many lives. I have no trouble letting the full court hear about what she’s done in her relentless pursuit of her cousin and his family. Sirius and his wife both sit on the Wizengamot, and have a great number of friends there,” Lisette said and I refused to look at Narcissa now. I was suddenly very interested in my manicure.

 

Nott whispered in Narcissa’s ear and she shook her head at him, so he leaned in and whispered again, and this time she relented.

 

“We’ll take your deal. How do you want her confession?” he asked, resigned to the fact that there was no way to keep his client out of prison for a very long time.

 

“We have another deal for her, but I’m going to let my superior propose this one,” Lisette countered and then looked at me.

 

“Narcissa, we have very little in common, but the one thing that I am sure that we share, is a love of our children. None of us believe that Draco became a Death Eater of his own will; and I’m not even convinced that he would have committed any of these acts if he hadn’t been forced into them by his father. Testify on his behalf, and help us convince him to speak against his father. We’ll keep him out of jail, but you both have to help put Lucius away,” I told her, my face staying placid while I talked.

 

She stared at me, I couldn’t read what was going on behind her eyes, but I knew that it wasn’t an easy debate that she was having with herself.

 

“You promise Draco has no jail time?” she asked me and I nodded at her.

 

“Ten years probation, magical monitoring for Dark Magic, community service. He breaks any of those rules, and the deal is null and void and he will be sent to the new Wizarding prison for five years minimum, or whatever time would remain on his probation,” I told her and she nodded at me.

 

“There will be one final clause, no one can speak of what transpired in this room. The crimes that you committed against your cousin, my husband, will never be brought to light. Bastien will never know of the circumstances of his birth, and how you had him created as a pawn in your game to get the Black Family fortune,” I said coldly, only just barely holding my temper.

 

“What happens if she does speak?” Nott asked.

 

“This second phial here, it becomes the possession of her son and young Mr. Black. Watching Mummy watch her girlfriend have sex with an Imperioused Mr. Black will make for interesting viewing; and we will leak the charge of Sexual Coercion to the papers, but give no further information. Can you imagine what the papers will make of it?” Lisette said, calmly.

 

“Also, you cannot make any moves, or tell either of those young men how to steal the Black fortune from Mr. Black and Mrs. Hodgson-Black and their children. Mr. Black has already made provisions for Bastien to be taken care of financially, the rest of your plan is over,” James added, and I had to work hard to hold back my tears.

 

Narcissa stared at me, and I just looked at her, refusing to back down. I hadn’t done anything to feel badly about here, and I would certainly not let her have the upper hand. She finally broke her gaze, and looked down at the table making a disgusted noise. 

 

“Secretary Hodgson-Black, Chief Potter, I will finalize this arrangement, along with the solicitor in her case. Can you please return to the Minister and let him know that the trial of Mrs. Malfoy is over? I will forward copies to your assistants,” Lisette said and I nodded at her, getting up from the table.

 

“The Black name certainly isn’t what it used to be,” Narcissa said under her breath as I was walking away, and I turned and looked at her.

 

“You’re right, it no longer breeds intimidation and fear, but instead commands respect and devotion. Perhaps if you were a Black, you wouldn’t be spending the next five decades in confinement,” I told her quietly and then left the room. As we walked into the hallway, Draco and Bastien stood in front of us.

 

“Your mother has agreed to a plea agreement. She will be going to the new prison posthaste. They’ve also come to an agreement to keep you out of prison, she’ll tell you more about it later,” James told him and then he applied the slightest amount of pressure to my back to get me moving again.

 

“What if I don’t want it?” Draco yelled back at him. “What if I don’t want her to sacrifice herself for me?”

 

“That’s between you and her,” he said as he turned to look at the young man. I turned and looked at Bastien, but I couldn’t find words right now. I just looked down and then, at James’ urging, began walking away again.

 

Once we reached the lifts, I couldn’t wait to get upstairs to Sirius. I could feel him getting agitated, and I needed to give him comfort. I sent him my calmness and relief that this was over, but as we reached the office suite, my need for him became too strong. I quickly stumbled from the lift and moved as fast as I could through the outer office. I didn’t care that Percy and Cedric were talking there, I needed to get to Sirius. He opened the door to my office, and ran the rest of the way to me, scooping me up in his arms and holding me tightly and lifting me from the floor.

 

“It’s over, it’s all over,” I whispered to him. “She can’t ever hurt us again.”

 

Sirius didn’t say anything for a long moment, and then he whispered to me, “But will I ever forget?”

 

Kingsley ended up canceling the court session for the day, to give the Solicitors an opportunity to prepare the next case. Sirius and I were quickly gone from the Ministry, but we didn’t return to the Manor. James promised that he and Lily would care for the children, we needed some time to deal with the aftermath of this experience. I created a portkey, and we were in our small flat in Monaco within an hour of arranging the plea with Narcissa.

 

“What are we doing here?” Sirius asked me, confused as to why I had brought him to our small, second home.

 

“We’re not going back to the Manor until we’ve dealt with some things. Sirius, you need to tell me what you’re thinking and you’re feeling, please. We promised each other, no more secrets,” I reminded him. He grabbed my face between his hands and held it tightly, staring at my face.

 

“What did I do to deserve your love?” he asked me, and I couldn’t help but start to simultaneously smile and cry.

 

“You loved me first.”

 

His lips crashed into mine, and I was overwhelmed with his love and desire for me. I couldn’t continue to stand, I wasn’t sure that my leg would hold me. I pushed him into the overstuffed chinch chair and fell into his lap, kissing him greedily. His tongue danced wildly with mine, and his hands were already unbuttoning my loose blouse, and letting it slide to the floor. My camisole slid aside easily and within moments his lips were on my chest. I couldn’t breathe, and I felt as if I would fly away.

 

“Sirius...” I panted, “...slow down...” I gasped. “I can’t...breathe,” I somehow rasped out, and he immediately released my flesh from his mouth and looked at my face. “I want to do this, but we have...” I paused to gasp again, “...take things a little slower.”

 

His hands wound around my back and into my hair, gently stroking my head to calm me down. “I’m sorry my love, I forgot how fragile you are now,” I whispered as he held me.

 

“I’m not that delicate,” I rebuked him, “just not quite as durable as I used to be. I want to do this love, but we need to take it slower.”

 

“The fact that you want to hold me, let me love you at all...” he started and I stopped him by kissing him.

 

“Sirius, I will always want you, it’s not like she’s the only other one that you’ve been with, she was just the most damaging. I love you darling, please believe me, I love you,” I told him, desperately wanting him to believe me.

 

“Anwen, I’m so ashamed of myself. I let that happen to me,” he told me, and I pulled his face to look at mine.

 

“Sirius, you were cursed, and by the looks of it, they had to work very hard to curse you. Please, don’t think on this anymore. It’s over, it’s all over,” I pleaded with him.

 

He leaned his head down on my shoulder, and muttered, “I don’t think that I’ll ever forget.”

 

I pulled my wand from my holster on the waistband of my slacks and put it to my husbands temple, and pulled the memory strand from him. I wasn’t a copy, it was the whole memory. I wasn’t really surprised at how easily I had pulled it from him, I could see on his face that he was thinking about what he had seen.

 

“Anwen, what did you do? Why?” he stammered.

 

“Sirius, you don’t need this memory, and neither do I. We’ll know that it exists, but on an intellectual level. We don’t need to be able to see it or relive it. Let me destroy it, please. For our happiness, for your sanity and for my self–worth, let me destroy it,” I pleaded and he took my face in his hands again.

 

“You are truly my angel,” he whispered and then he kissed me, deeply and passionately. I tossed the memory into the fireplace, and then lifted my wand and removed the same memory from myself and added it to the grate. I recited the incantation in my head, and the flames roared up around the old coals and the two memories in the small fireplace. Within seconds the white wisps were gone.

 

“You’re breathing seems to be back to normal, may we resume our previous activities?” he asked me with a glint in his eye.

 

“Oh, by all means, if you can remember where you were,” I mocked back and his lips and tongue once again found my soft, pink flesh. I threw my head back in ecstasy and moaned my husband’s name.

 

 

 


Chapter 10: Chapter 9: Ceremonies
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Chapter 9:

Ceremonies

 

Sirius POV:

 

I just gotten word, and I needed to see my wife.  I quickly rushed back to the Minister’s office suite from the canteen where I was sitting with James and Tonks.  She was just back to work this week, from her medical leave, and we were killing time, waiting for court.  We’d both left our robes in his office, hoping that in street clothes we’d draw less attention to ourselves.

 

“Go on in, she’s been in there since she got here this morning,” Cedric said to me, sounding a bit concerned.  I opened the door to Anwen’s office, and I found her, sitting at the end of the table she used as a desk, with a small wooden box in front of her.  The case was ornately carved and lined in deep purple velvet, cushioning and containing small phials, which appeared to contain memories.  I slowed my footsteps as I neared her, not wanting to disturb her; as she appeared deep in thought.

 

“I take it you heard the news?” she asked me, not taking her eyes from the box.

 

“I did, we were sitting downstairs, waiting to see what would happen.  Did he really take a plea?”  I asked her, still somewhat shocked and surprised.

 

“Yes,” she said as she nodded.  “150 years, no chance for parole.  If he doesn’t die in prison, he will be near death when he gets out.”

 

“You don’t seem happy, Anwen,”  I questioned her, and I could hear her stop and take a deep cleaning breath.

 

“Happy, no.  Thankful, relieved, overwhelmed and more, yes.  I’ve been trying to put him into prison for 15 years, Sirius.  I can’t...” she faltered, her voice cracking as she spoke.  “I can’t believe that it’s over.”

 

I watched as my usually strong wife just started weeping, her shoulders rolling forward as she wept.  I was immediately at her side, picking her up and holding her as she cried, settling us down on the couch.  Lucius Malfoy had entered into a plea agreement this morning, clearly unhappy with the way that his trial was progressing, and able to see the writing on the wall. In response, my Anwen just cried and cried, cleansing her body of the memories and pain that she had carried for years.  When she finally stopped, I asked her about the box.

 

“Those are the memories of the girls that I had interviewed, after he had attacked them.   I’ve kept them all these years, one set in my office and another in the family vault.  Targnof was under strict orders that if I were to die, he was to get them to the Auror office immediately, preferably to Kingsley or Tonks.  I didn’t want what they had gone through to be forgotten,”  she explained to me.  “I never forgot them, Sirius.”

 

“I know you didn’t love, I know you didn’t,”  I told her, remembering the nights that she had awoken in a cold sweat, terrified; I too, not forgetting how hard it was for her after Ginny was attacked and after watching Harry being cursed by Voldemort.  She never had to tell me, but I always knew it was there.  These girls were never far from my Winnie’s mind and heart.  “What happens now?”

 

“The Minister is personally handling his plea arrangements, that’s why he called me in so early this morning.  I asked him to make Malfoy have to sit in the court room, and listen while all of his crimes are read aloud.  Then the victims or the families of his victims will get to present a statement about what he did to their lives.  He has to sit there and listen to them,”  she told me, sounding hard and angry.  This may indeed be justice, but I couldn’t help but think that she was exacting a small amount of vengeance in there as well.   “He will also have to clear his son’s name, taking responsibility for those things that he forced Draco to do.”

 

“That’s good, I never got the feeling that he was as bad as his father,”  I told her and I could feel Anwen nod against me.

 

“I don’t believe that he is; in fact, we’ve got evidence that last year, at Hogwarts, he tried to stop the abuses that were going on.  More than one student has come forward to say that he rescued them from the Carrows or from the other junior Death Eaters within the building.  I think that they’re going to add him to the awards ceremony for this weekend,”  she whispered to me. 

 

“Really?”  I questioned her, somewhat shocked.  “I didn’t know that he had it in him,”  I stammered out, shocked by this turn of events.

 

“I think that it might have been the influence of Severus on him.  The Minister was going to call on Ginny and Neville, see if they can corroborate the stories that we’ve gotten, but the students whose accounts they’re going on have nothing to gain from telling us anything but the truth, so...Andromeda was right, there was someone worth saving in that family, she just had the wrong generation,”   Anwen whispered.  She sounded so hollow and weak right now,  I just wanted to take her away from all of this.

 

“Do you need to stay?”  I asked her and she nodded.

 

“I have to sign off on the plea when King is done with it, and then I need to sign the orders that we will be suspending open court until September 14.  The Minister wants to give us a couple of weeks to get settled into teaching at Hogwarts before we resume the trials.  We’re moving through them quite quickly,”  she said what I already knew to be true.

 

I looked at my wife, and she was staring at the box again, her face wistful and contemplative.  “Anwen, love, you never gave up on those girls.  You remembered them, and you did everything that you could to bring him to justice, and you’ve done it.  What he did to them will be remembered and no one will ever get away with it again,”  I told her.

 

“Sirius, I want to believe you...” she started, but I knew that there was a ‘but’ in there.  “I feel like we’ve been in this dark forest, and it was so overgrown that we’d lost the path and the thicket had grown up and nearly swallowed us; and we’re finally moving from it, and I can see the edge, but I don’t know that we’re going to make it.  I keep waiting for something to appear and drag us back there, into the darkness and the terror.  I’m so afraid to believe that it’s really over,”  she confessed, although I had suspected this for a while.

 

“Anwen, my sweet, sweet little one, there’s nothing left lurking in the dark; I promise.  You’ve been haunted by this since you were seventeen.  You’ve been fighting the darkness your whole life, but I swear that there is nothing left to go bump in the night.  We go home, and our little children and their bright smiles are all that is left to greet us.  You’re overwhelmed by it all, why don’t you rest, and when Kingsley gets here, I’ll wake you.  I’ll hold you and guard you so that the monsters of your nightmares can’t get to you, all right?”  I told her, caressing her back as I spoke to her.  She nodded her head at me and stood up, removing her formal robes, revealing the soft, loose sundress that she had on underneath them.  I was again struck at just how thin she was still looking, and I wondered if she would ever look healthy again.  

 

I settled myself against the arm of the couch, stretching out my legs.  Anwen sat down and I heard the hiss as she released her leg from the attachments.  “It’s really very uncomfortable,”  she told me.  Then, using her arms and good leg, settled herself between my legs, and laid herself down, using my lap as a pillow.  I wrapped my arms around her, and brought my leg over her, completely surrounding her little body with mine.   I felt as she succumbed to sleep, and I prayed that it would be her first of many, that would be completely free of nightmares about girls being attacked and bitten by snakes.

 

Anwen POV:

 

“I can’t believe that there are robes this small,”  Lily said, as she was helping to dress Stella.  It was nine-fifteen in the morning and everyone was at their house and getting ready for the ceremony today.  The Weasleys had come over and spent the night, as well as Andromeda.  We’d had a wonderful family dinner, the table having to be stretched and enchanted to fit us all.  The flaw in the plan, was that there would now be many, many people trying to get ready and out of the house by eleven.

 

“They are awfully tiny,”  I commented.  “I couldn’t believe that we had to go and buy six itty bitty sets of dress robes, but...well you know,”  I told her.  It was requested that all the family members of the people receiving awards be dressed formally.  That meant that the ten small Potter, Black and Lupin children would be in dress robes.  

 

“Will Bastien be there?”  she asked me and I nodded at her.  I was sitting watching Lily, still somewhat lightheaded from my morning potions.  I don’t think that my body will ever get used to these...

 

“He will.  Sirius had dinner with him about a week ago, and he and Draco are coming together.  I got the feeling from talking with him that it hasn’t been very enjoyable at Malfoy Manor.  Draco doesn’t really like Pansy, but they’re being forced into a marriage due to his betrothal to her, and her being pregnant.  I think that Bastien is looking forward to school starting,”   I told her and she smiled at me, lifting little Stella up and handing her to me.  My little girl had gone through her second change recently, and I had handled it better this time.  “Lil, where is Sirius?  For that matter, has anyone seen my father?”

 

“They’re around here somewhere.  I bet he went running through the forest to clear his head, it’s quite something to know that you’re going to receive the Order of Merlin, as is your wife and, oh yeah, your wife is being knighted by the Queen for services to the crown,”  she teased me.  Harry and I were both receiving special awards from the Queen, as well as several international delegations before the formal ceremony this afternoon.  This was why everyone had stayed at Potter Manor last night.  The only floo that would be open this morning into the Ministry of Magic was the one into the Executive Suite.  It was a very private ceremony and luncheon this morning; the more public affair was at 2:30 this afternoon.

 

“Well, give me that little girl, and you finish getting yourself ready.   You and Harry need to be at the Ministry in twenty minutes.  There are enough women here to make sure that your husband and children are presentable, Anwen.  Don’t worry about it,”  she said, reaching for Stella.  I kissed my littlest daughter on the forehead, and watched as she was whisked away by my best friend.  I suddenly felt very alone in such a large and busy house.

 

I pulled my wand from my pocket, and summoned the small mirror that I kept on my dresser so that I could check myself one final time.  I had purchased dark blue dress robes to wear for the ceremony this afternoon, complete with the Black family crest on one arm and the Minister’s personal crest on the other; but for the one this morning, I had on a simple black dress with the ornate red stole for the Order of the British Empire.  My wedding necklace fit perfectly with the dress and stole, and the only other jewelry that  I had worn were my rings, my bracelet and a pair of tear drop ruby earrings that I had found in the family vault a few years ago.

 

I heard a gentle knock at the door, and I lifted my head to see my nephew standing there, also in a well fitting black suit and the ornate red stole.  He looked about as comfortable as I felt. “Mum’s pestering me about leaving.  She doesn’t want us to be late, even though we have to be there an hour before everyone else.  You ready to go?”

 

“I guess,”  I told him honestly.  “I had hoped to see my husband before I left.  Have you seen him?”

Harry shook his head at me.  “He and Dad headed off somewhere this morning,”  he told me, and I guessed that Lily was right, that he had gone off for a run.

 

“He’s not really open to me right now,”  I told him, trying to reach my husband through our binding.  “Oh well, I guess that we should be heading out then.  Hand up here, young man?”  I asked him, and Harry walked into the room and offered me both of his hands, and I gingerly stood up.  I wobbled once I was on my feet, and had to fight off the wave of nausea and dizziness that attacked me.

 

“You okay there Aunt Winnie?”

 

“Fine, fine, Harry,”  I brushed him off.  I was resigning myself to the state that my body would be in as a result of my injuries.  It would appear that this was as good as it was going to get.  “I don’t recommend using your body as a conduit for magic, and then having a tower fall on it.  Tends to leave you a little weak and unstable,”  I joked, hoping that he would take the bait.

 

“I’ll keep that in mind,”  he joked back, and I was happy he didn’t press me any further.  We stepped from what was once the Potter ballroom into the hallway, and were surprised that there was no one there to see us off.  “How are there this many people in this house, and there’s not a single sound?”

 

“Because they’re up to something.  Come on, let’s leave the house so they can continue on whatever plan they’ve cooked up,”  I told him, resigned to the fact that I would have a fuss made over me today, whether I wanted it or not.

 

Harry offered me his elbow and together, we flooed into the private area that contained the floo in the Executive Offices suite.  There wasn’t anyone there to greet us, I hadn’t expected any.  We stepped from the hallway into the outer offices, and I could hear voices from King’s office.

 

“I can’t believe what a nightmare this is?”  his booming voice escaped from his office.  “Never again will there be another ceremony while I’m Minister,”  he joked and I had to stifle a laugh.

 

“Now, sir,”  a female voice responded, sounding familiar.  “We knew that this was going to be difficult, but we’re nearly done.  Let’s finish your lesson before the Queen and her entourage gets here.”

 

“I worked for the Muggle Prime Minister for several years, how much more protocol do I need to know?”  King complained.

 

“Just because you can comport yourself around the Prime Minister doesn’t mean that you know what to do in the presence of the Queen.  I have been the Protocol Secretary for five Ministers of Magic.  I know what I’m doing,”  the voice said and I motioned with my hands that we needed to get to my office, a horrified look was plastered on my face.  We got to my office, closed the door and I started to laugh.

 

“I hope that she doesn’t try to talk with Sirius today.  He nearly hexed her when we got married,”  I said between laughs, Harry just stood there looking at me.  “That was Prudence Thomas-Roberts, she helped to plan our wedding for the Ministry, and she drove your godfather barmy in the process,”  I explained.  “Come on, let’s sit down, we’ve got an hour to kill,”  I told Harry, reaching up and removing cloak and draping it over one of the chairs at the table in my office.  Harry followed suit and we both sat on the comfortable couch; I brought my leg up to rest on the space between us.

 

“How does it feel?”  Harry asked, indicating my leg.

 

“If I tell you the truth, are you going to run and tell your Mum or my husband?”  I asked him and he shook his head, realizing that I’d given him my answer already.  “I keep waiting for the pain to completely abate, but it doesn’t.  There are days that I swear my real leg is still there, and it itches or tingles, and I’ll absentmindedly reach down and be surprised that it’s the prosthetic.  My back still hurts, most of the time, because the scars just don’t bend and give, it hurts to breath, I can’t eat much at any time because my digestive system still doesn’t work right, and I’m exhausted, all of the time,”  I sort of rambled, realizing that it was the first time that I’d been honest with anyone about how I really felt.  I looked up at Harry, horrified.  What are you doing?  You just unloaded on your 18 year old nephew.  “Harry, I am so sorry.  I shouldn’t have dumped all of that on you,”  I apologized.

 

“It’s fine, Aunt Winnie.  I didn’t think that you were doing as well as you were letting everyone believe,”  he told me honestly and I tilted my head to the side, staring at him.  “You stop and close your eyes all the time and you clench your face; I think it’s to shove down the pain.  Also, you don’t ever look at my Mum or Uncle Remus in the face.  They read you too well, you’ll stand to their side or sit next to them.  It’s only been that way since the battle, so I figured that you were just trying to hide stuff from them,”  he told me and I shook my head slightly at him.

 

“When did you get so good at reading people?”

 

“Needed to, a year on the run, you have to learn to read people and see when they’re trying to hide things from you.  Hermione can’t pull anything over on me anymore, I can read her moods like a book.  Too bad Ron can’t, it would make his life so much easier,”  Harry quipped and I let a little chuckle escape me as I smiled.  We lapsed back into a comfortable silence.

 

“You’re not excited about this today, are you?” he asked me, and I brought my head up to look at him.  I had to decide, I could try and lie to him, or I could treat him like an adult.

 

“Not at all,”  I confessed.  “We make a pretty unlikely set of heroes here, don’t we Harry?  Neither of us wants to be honored for things we had no choice in.”

 

“I didn’t fight Voldemort because of some desire to save people, or because I’m this all–powerful wizard.  I did it because I was the only one who could,”  he explained to me.  “Sure, I would have been on the Light side, fighting with Dumbledore and the Order; because all of my family was doing that; but to be the one who was sacrificed in the forest?  To give my life to save people, I don’t know.  I did it because it was the only way that this war was going to end.”

 

“I understand.  You’re being recognized because a choice was made for you when you were a baby, and there was nothing else that you could do.  I’m being recognized for something that I was born with.  I couldn’t let people die in the castle, not when I could shield them.  That would have just been...we both did what we had to do,”  I responded to him.

 

“You know, you and Ginny are the only people who don’t look at me like I’m some sort of a superhero.  My parents and uncles, they’re always looking at me like they’re so proud of me.  You look at me like I’m, normal.”

 

“Harry, that’s probably because Ginny and I are the only ones who really know what that trip into the forest cost you.  I assume you told her about what Voldemort did to you, what you endured while you were lying ‘dead’ on the forest floor?”  He nodded at me, but remained silent.  “Harry, your family isn’t proud of you because you sacrificed yourself, they’re proud of you for the young man that you became.  They look at you that way because they love you so very much, and they only want you to have what you desire and what will make you happy.”

 

“You know what I wish?” he asked me, and I shook my head at him.  “I wish that I had a time turner, and I could go back and just stop the attack on the house in Godric’s Hollow.  If I’d never had stopped him when I was a baby, I might have had a normal life.”

 

“Maybe, or things might have turned out worse than they are now.  That’s the funky thing about time travel, you mess with one little thing, and it has huge ripples in everything else.  Drop a pebble in the wrong place in the ocean, and you could cause a tsunami on the other side of the world.  Don’t mess with the space/time continuum,”  I joked and Harry laughed.

 

“That’s from that show that you got Dad and Uncle Remus hooked on, the one with the British guy who plays the French space captain, but he speaks like he’s from London.  Star Hike or something?”  Harry said, and I laughed, really laughed at him.  It felt good to not have to pretend, until something must have caught in my back and the stabbing pain was overwhelming. 

 

“You okay?”

 

“I will be, just another example of how my body doesn’t work right anymore,”  I told him as the pain abated.  “So how many times today am I going to be asked how I’m feeling?”

 

“About as many as I’ll be asked what I’m going to do next.  No one seems impressed with the idea that I want to finish my schooling.  I couldn’t go on and start Auror school anyway, it’s not open!”  he told me, sounding frustrated.  “People want two things from me, to see my scar and then to have me go into politics.  From watching you and Dad these last few months, I want nothing to do with it.”

 

“I don’t blame you. Know what I want?”  I asked and he shook his head.  “I want people to look at my face today when they meet me today, not look down and try to figure out which leg is real and which one is the fake.  I swear, I think I should get a tattoo on the real one that says  “The Real Deal” on it,”  I told him, and Harry started belly laughing.

 

“That would be too funny; and your Mum would have a fit.  Oh, I didn’t tell you, but the one you helped Ginny pick out, it’s...wow,”  Harry said, sounding very impressed.  I had taken Ginny the day after her seventeenth birthday to get a tattoo.  She had a very beautiful white mare that would shake it’s head and gallop across the small of her back.

 

“It fits her, the Mare is an animal of great strength and beauty and will protect those that they care about.  A white horse is a symbol of victory and it is also said that they love life, so, I think you might be stuck with her,”  I teased him but he just smiled.

 

“That is absolutely fine with me,”  he confessed as he blushed and I smiled at him.  “I understand that yours has quite a bit of meaning too.”

 

“It’s not just that it’s my Animagus form, falcons are harbingers of prosperity and strength.  They are fierce in the protection of their young and they often lead one on a spiritual journey.  They’re also symbols of strength, which is why I put it on the thigh of my damaged leg,”  I explained to him.  “Most people won’t ever see it, but I know that it’s there.”

 

“I think that’s probably all that matters, Aunt Winnie.  So, are you ready for school?”  he asked and I smiled at him, ready to change the subject as well.

 

“I think we are.  Sirius is doing a much more conventional set of lessons with the first through fourth years; I’m planning on working the older sections a little harder than they’ve been used to.  The goal isn’t just to get everyone to pass their OWL or NEWT; I really want to train them; plus these are the kids that you had in the DA, some of them already are well versed in rather advanced Defensive spells,”  I explained.

 

“Okay, so what’s going to be different?”  he asked.

 

“Well, each age level will have one double class period with me each week, but they will also be required to participate in, well for lack of a better word, dueling practice.  It will be real–life dueling, much like I did with my students at the Auror school; just limiting the types and severity of the spells that can be used.  Plus, all three years are going to do a single period of elemental magic each week,”  I explained to him.

 

“You’re going to teach witches and wizards who are near the age of adulthood how to do magic that’s usually taught to toddlers and preschoolers?  Are you daft?”  he asked me.

 

“No.  I don’t think that most of your classmates are as well taught in it as you are, and any that were Muggle–born won’t know it at all,”  I reminded him.  “If you lose your wand, being able to manipulate an element may be enough for you to get out of a situation, and that’s the first goal of Defense.”

 

“Wow, sounds like it’s going to be an interesting year.  You going to duel Uncle Sirius?”

 

“Probably at some point,”  I smiled at him, understanding that he loved watching me bring down men twice my size.  Well, at least you used to be able to.  “You have a choice to make, my boy.”

 

“What?”  he asked, looking at me puzzled.

 

“I happen to know that you could pass your Defense NEWT right now, I’ve taught you things that are far beyond what you’ll be learning this year.  If you wanted to, you could take the exam now, get your Outstanding NEWT, and then spend the time in private study this year.  I’m making the same offer to Ron and Hermione.  There are much more advanced things that I could teach you,”  I explained to him.  Sirius and I had already discussed what we could work with him on, and it was quite a list.

 

“LIke what?”  he asked, sounding very interested.

 

“Well, your godfather could teach you about advanced Warding and Curse Breaking, and there are a myriad of things that I could work with you on:  you’re not a Master in either of your elemental magics -- so you could choose to work for that level, we could work on a mastery of Legilimency and Occlumency; you could start working on your Master of Defense work or, your godfather and I could together teach you Animagus transformations,”  I told him, and I watched as his eyes lit up.

 

“Really, do you think that I could do it?”  he asked and I nodded at him.

 

“I do.  Your father was exceptionally young when he undertook it, and then he taught both your godfather and Wormtail.  Sirius was already remarkable at Charms, even when he was in his first year, but it was your Dad that taught him how to be an Animagus.  I think that your grandfather tutored your Dad, the summer after his first year, when they learned what Moony was.  It took another couple of years after that to finally master it.  Your Dad is exceptional at Transfigurations,”  I explained to him.  Conversations with James over the years had helped me put the pieces of this puzzle together.

 

“Granddad was an Animagus?  I didn’t know that?  What form did he take?”  Harry asked me.

 

“He was an owl, a huge barn owl.  I got to see him change over, and flew with him once before he died.  He was a remarkable man, and he would have been so very proud of you,”  I explained to him.  

 

“I would have liked to have known him and my Grandmum.  Dad tells such interesting stories...” he sort of trailed off, thinking about something.  “Is my Dad better at Transfigurations than you?”

 

“Well, no,”  I blushed at him, “but comparing my ability to do Transfigurations with his isn’t fair.  That’s like saying a butterfly is more beautiful than a moth.  One is designed to  be something to look at, the other is designed to hide on a branch.  I can do that magic easily because of skills that I was born with,”  I explained to him.  “But it doesn’t change the fact that your father is amazing.”  Harry had opened his mouth to say something, but a rather noisy commotion in the outer office led me to suspect that our families had arrived.  “I think that the families have arrived.”

 

“Sounds that way.  Need a hand up there old lady?”  Harry asked me as he stood, offering me his hand.

 

“Thank you young man,”  I told him as I stood and hobbled over to the table, where I picked up a cape and began fastening it around my neck, and then realized that it was about a foot too long, while the one that Harry had only came to his knees.  “I think I grabbed yours there, Harry,”  I laughed, handing it back to him.  He was well over six feet now, but still lanky and lean.  I had a feeling that he would always be built more like Sirius than James.  We each fastened our capes, and I straightened out my dress and then opened the door, and nearly fell over at the faces that greeted me.

 

“Liddy, Stephen, Wyn, Haf, what are you doing here?”  I said, looking at my siblings and my little niece and nephews in their arms.  

 

“Sis, you’re being knighted by the Queen, do you think I’d miss the chance to eat the meal that goes with that?”  Wyn teased and I threw my arms around my little brother. Thankfully he bent down and let me reach his neck, because I wouldn’t have made it otherwise.  He hugged me and picked me up off the ground.  “Dang, girl.  Do you eat?  You weight less than my gear bag,”  he said, referring to his hockey bag.  I had crawled inside of it once, just to prove that he could indeed lift me and carry me about.

 

“I’ve had a rough spring,”  I told me him in a mockingly serious voice.  He put me down, and I hugged my littlest brother, my brother–in–law, my niece, Madison and her twin, Tyler and then the baby, little Robert who was not quite a year old.   I finally threw my arms around my remaining sister and didn’t say anything, just relishing having her here, and realizing that I missed the comfort that a sister could bring.  She said nothing, just leaned her forehead into mine, touching them together like we did when we were sharing secrets as children.

 

I broke away from my sister and took a shuddering breath to get myself together.  I met eyes with my husband and father, both of whom looked rather proud of themselves.  “This is what you were up to this morning?”  Sirius shook his head at me, still holding Edmund in his arms.

 

“You needed them to be here,”  he said, walking around to put an arm around me.  “You need everyone that can be here, to be here and to celebrate with you.”

 

I looked at his scarred face and short hair, but for a moment none of that mattered, all I saw was the beautiful man that I fell in love with as a girl.  I was lost in his eyes, and it didn’t matter that the room was full of people who were looking at us.  “I love you so,”  I told him, feeling myself struggling for breath.

 

“Anwen, now isn’t the time to hyperventilate, come on, calm down,”  he said, rubbing my back but I realized that I couldn’t pull in enough breath and the world started getting fuzzy around the edges.

 

“Potion...in my...office...”I told him and I heard him hand Edmund over to one of my brothers.

 

“Lily, they’re in the top drawer of the secretary,”  I heard him yell, still struggling for breath.

 

“I’ve got the case from home right here,”  I heard my mother say, and then Sirius had lifted me up and was carrying me over to the small settee that was in the outer office for people to relax upon as they waited to see one of us.  Sirius tipped my head back and poured the potion down my throat, and held me to him as we all waited for the potion to take effect.

 

“Well, she doesn’t need all of us watching her, come on now, let’s get downstairs.  There’s only one lift from this floor, so it’s going to take a while,”  Molly Weasley said, taking charge.  I could feel my breathing slow and more air was getting into my lungs, but there was still a horrible high wheezing noise as I breathed in and my heart was still racing.  I looked up at Sirius.

 

“You can’t do anything easy, can you Winnie?” he asked me and I shook my head at him.

 

“That’s why you love me.  Need a strengthening potion,”  I whispered to him, and my mother handed him the right bottle.  He helped me swallow this one as well, and I immediately felt it’s warm strength spread through my body.  I opened my eyes fully and looked at the office.  James, Lily, Remus, Tonks and Teddy, Harry, Ginny and King were standing looking at us; my mother was crouched next to me and Sirius was holding me.

 

“You should have just let me pass out, maybe I could have gotten out of this damned charade,”  I joked and everyone laughed.  I looked at Harry, and his eyes conveyed that he knew it wasn’t a joke.

 

Sirius POV:

 

The morning ceremony was beautiful, and even with everything that I had been through with Winnie, there was nothing like the pride of watching her and Harry receive their awards.  Harry wouldn’t let her shy away from the press, even though Anwen had tried hard to make the day about him, rather than both of them.  He finally set the press straight when he announced to them, “I became who I am because my parents, my uncle and my godfather and godmother here,”  he said, putting his arm around Anwen and giving her a squeeze, “taught me how to be a good man.  I had my Aunt Winnie’s example to follow.”

 

The meal after was pleasant enough, although the food was rather fussy.  Who in their right mind plans a meal that will be eaten by children to include crab–stuffed pheasant?  About the only thing that the children ate was the Leek soup, and even then they complained that it wasn’t as good as their Mummy’s.  It was true though, Anwen makes an awesome Leek Soup.  I finally called Kreacher, and had him make some peanut butter sandwiches and cheese sandwiches and had him bring them over.  I wasn’t surprised when many of the teens ended up eating them as well.

 

By the time we were done with the press for the ceremony and then the luncheon, there was only an hour before the second ceremony would start.  People were already lining up to get in, so our family and Anwen’s retreated upstairs.  The Weasleys, with the exception of Ginny, stayed downstairs, as did Andromeda.  The youngest children napped in James’ office, while the adults gathered in the conference room.  Harry went to change his robes in Kingsley’s office, and I convinced Anwen that there was time for her to rest before the ceremony would begin.  She removed the heavy red stole and shimmied out of the black dress, leaving her only in her slip.  I helped her release her artificial leg, and had her settle down, once again lying between my legs. I set the alarm on my watch and rubbed her head and back until she was asleep.  While she lay there, I looked at the scars on her back, and was horrified at them.  She so rarely let me see them, now that we weren’t applying the salve four times a day, and I understood why.  They were still red and quite raw and swollen.  I wondered how she ever tolerated having clothing rubbing on them.  As she lay there, I noticed that she was paler than usual, and I hoped that it was only due to her wearing the black slip.

 

I was able to give her about 20 minutes to sleep before she had to get up and change into her dress robes.  Madame Malkin had designed special robes for her, in the most beautiful dark blue.  The back of the robes was created from a thin, gauzy like material that was completely opaque, but still lightweight.  The trim on the robes was in red, and Anwen asked for the cut of the bodice to accommodate her wedding necklace.  I helped her get into them, and then watched as she waved her hand over her head, and her hair flew up into an intricate set of curls that was pulled away from her face, but still hung over her neck to cover her scars.

 

“You are simply stunning,”  I told her, and pulled her to me and snogged her madly.

 

“So,” she said, when we were done, “are you going to start calling me Dame Hodgson-Black?”

 

“Don’t be daft, Winnie,”  I joked back with her, knowing full well that she’d never use the term in her life.

 

We met up with the rest of the family, and we went back downstairs.  There was a special section for our families to sit in.  The Potters were in the first row, with Hermione, Ginny and Ron.  We were behind with all of Anwen’s family in the row just behind us.  It was a good thing too, since we needed several hands to help with all of the little kids.  The Lupins and Andromeda were behind them, with Ewan and Anelle duChamp and then the Weasleys were in the last row of our section.  Anwen sat on the edge of the row, and I was next to her, since we both needed to get up and receive our awards.  It was only minutes before the ceremony was to start, when I was surprised by Bastien and Draco, standing in the row, next to where Anwen was sitting.

 

“We don’t have any other family,”  Draco said quietly; both his parents were in jail.  I looked up at him, and wasn’t at all shocked to find Andromeda coming to stand by her nephew.

 

“You will always have family, Draco.  Come and sit with Dora, her family and me,”  she told him, gently putting a hand on his shoulder.

 

“Bastien, you are always welcome with us, and in our home,”  Anwen said gently to the boy, and he looked at her, surprised.  “I believe that you know all the children, except little Stella,”  she told him, pointing to the small infant that her mother was holding in the row behind us.

 

“I do,”  my son said quietly.  “Thank you.”

 

“Hey, you can come and sit with me, you’ll make me taller,”  John said, and everyone chuckled at him.  Bastien walked down the row, and John hopped from the chair, let his big half–brother sit down in it climbed up in his lap, and then proceeded to begin talking a mile a minute about the ceremony this morning.  The teen just looked at the three year old in the most peculiar way.  I couldn’t help but smile at them.

 

“See, there’s always hope,”  Anwen whispered to me.

 

The ceremony began, and Kingsley opened it, talking about why we were here, and what had happened to our world.  He talked about the darkness that Voldemort had brought to all of our lives, and how things had changed because of him and his ideas.  Then he started talking about how people had begun to fight back.  He spoke of Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix from the first war, and how Voldemort had been removed from his corporeal body, and how we had a decade of peace, but not real happiness, because there were those of us who knew that he would one day be back.

 

He then read the ‘Roll of the Honored Dead’ from what was being called “The Great Wizarding War.”  It began with the very first deaths, back in 1970.  As the roll was read, the family members of those people would stand.  They were read in chronological order. 

 

Remus stood, with his wife and mother–in–law at his side when his father’s name was read, quite early on in the list.  I remembered that horrible day, and the weeks that followed.  We thought that we knew darkness, it was nothing compare to what would come.

 

Anwen struggled to hold back fresh tears when each of the seven names of the girls who she had advocated for all those years were read.  I put my arm around her and kissed her head.

 

Kingsley choked up as he read Amelia’s name, and when young Susan stood.  When they read Eira’s name, I watched as our family, Anwen’s family and the Weasleys all stood.  It was too late when I realized that Bastien wouldn’t know what was going on, but Ethan took matters into his own hands.

 

“My Auntie Eira was killed by some Death Eaters.  She gave her life to save mine,”  he told his half brother.  “Stand up for Auntie Eira!”  Bastien complied to his command.

 

I smiled at my young son, but wondered how I was ever going to explain to Bastien that it was his “Aunt Bella” that had killed my wife’s sister.  It was hard to witness when there was no one to stand as Albus Dumbledore’s name was read out, so finally Harry stood, claiming the man as his family.  The rest of the Potters soon stood as well, and soon the Blacks, Lupins and Weasleys all followed suit.  I could see other members of the Order stand as well. It came as no surprise that the same treatment followed for both Mad–Eye Moody and Severus Snape.  We stood for Ted Tonks, and I could hear my cousin sob at this.  I turned around to see Draco putting an arm around her shoulders.  

 

When the list was read, the Minister pointed to a veil that was covering something on the far wall of the Atrium.  With a flick of his wrist, the veil fell, and uncovered a beautiful marble monolith, with the names of the honored dead carved into the smooth rock face.  At the top, a simple statement of “Never Forget” had been inscribed and an ever burning flame provided light from the base.

 

After the reading of the names, the program progressed to the awarding of the Order of Merlin awards.  Anwen was surprised when her sister’s name was read to receive a Third class award.  Charlie Weasley stood and escorted Anwen, and after Charlie spoke about how proud he was to have been engaged to her, and how he still missed her deeply, the Minister indicated that Anwen should speak.  Anwen stood at the podium, and looked out over the crowd.

 

“My sister didn’t have to fight in this war.  While she had been born in Britain, she had lived most of her life in Canada, with my family, who were whisked away for their own safety during the first war,”  Anwen started.  “She chose to come back.  Her choice was partly made because she had fallen in love with a wonderful man, who loved her dearly,”  she said, turning and looking at Charlie.  “But she also came back because she believed in what we were fighting for.  My sister and I did not come from a magical family, in fact, we are the only ones who can do magic in all of our family tree; but Eira loved this world so.  In her school in Canada, she learned all about the first half of the war, and was quite indignant with me when she learned that I had played a role.  She believed that every child born with magical ability should be treated the same, and have the chance to develop their skills.  She heroically saved her niece and nephew, as well as our family friends, but gave her life that cold January morning,”  Anwen said, tears overtaking her, and I watched as she started breathing deeply again.  I was fearful that she’d have another breathing attack, but the Minister came over and put a steadying arm around her and whispered in her ear, and Anwen seemed to calm herself down.

 

“Not a day goes by that I do not miss my little sister, I miss her smile and the goofy way that she danced around the house to music that was only in her head,”  she commented, and all of our extended family laughed, as we’d all witnessed this behavior.  “I would only ask that you remember Eira whenever you find someone being beaten down or discarded because of who they are, or the situation that they were born to.  Do what my sister did, and stand up for what’s right.”

 

Anwen leaned against Charlie as she came back down from the stage area, and the ceremony continued with the rest of the Third Class awards.  I wrapped my wife in my arms and held her tightly, openly afraid that she wouldn’t make it through the rest of the ceremony.  Her breathing was thready and weak and I could feel her heart racing in her back.  Her mother handed me the potions box, and I gave Anwen another of her Breathing Potions as well as a Draught of Peace.  I only let go of her long enough to stand and applaud as Draco received his own Third Class award, for the way he had fought against the Death Eaters and helped save students while at Hogwarts last year.

 

When the Second class awards were given out, Ginny, Neville and Luna all went up together to receive theirs, not only for their courageous work at Hogwarts during the last school year, but for their valiant battling in the Department of Mysteries battle in 1996 and the Battles of Hogwarts the following years.  Cedric Diggory was recognized for his battling of Voldemort in the graveyard in Little Hangelton, and for recovering from his wounds.  We all chuckled when he said that “battling Voldemort was easier than battling the inter-department memos that he now dealt with daily in the Minister’s offices.”

 

We were waiting to be called forward, all of the members of our family were slated to receive Second Class Awards. Ewan and Anelle had been thanked for their creation of the Binding Potion, and I assumed that we would be next.  We were surprised when Kingsley went on to call Ron and Hermione forward to receive their awards, which they did with very short words of thanks.  Then the Minister called forward, “Sir Harry James Potter”.  He rose and received his award and was urged to speak.  Puzzled looks passed between James, Remus and me, Anwen was too weak to have noticed anything.  I turned and looked at her mother, hoping she might have some encouragement for me.  She simply looked worried.

 

“I know that you’re all expecting me to say something remarkable, about how this was a hard fought fight, but that it was worth it in the end; but I can’t tell you that,”  Harry stated and I could feel Anwen tense under me at his words.  “I know that you want me to claim the title of savior and hero, but I can’t and I won’t; but before you get upset at me, please let me explain why.  I have lived my life surrounded by real heroes.  I watched as five, and then six adults put their very lives at stake to teach and train me.  They were honest with me, and loved me in a way that no one else could have, and when it was time to fulfill a destiny that I didn’t want and couldn’t control, they were there to tell me that I was capable of doing it, and no matter what would happen, they would love and support me,”  he said.  I could feel Anwen weeping in my arms again, and Lily’s shoulders were shaking as well.  James had wrapped an arm around her, but he was puffed out like a prideful peacock showing it’s plumage at his son.  I could feel both the pride for my godson, as well as hot tears pricking at my eyes.

 

“My parents, my Aunts and my Uncles have sacrificed so much for me, they have all been put in mortal danger more times than I care to count to keep me safe, and used every opportunity to not only teach me about life, but to help me live it, fully.  Love is what helped me defeat Voldemort, but I knew what it was because of these extraordinary people and how much they loved me.  It is my most humble pleasure to present to you my family:  Mr. James Andrew Potter, Mrs. Lily Rose Evans Potter, Mr. Remus John Lupin, Mrs. Nymphadora Louise Tonks Lupin, Mr. Sirius Black and Dame Anwen Llyn Hodgson-Black,”  Harry said proudly and we all stood.  The room erupted in applause, people cheering and clapping.  Anwen stumbled as we approached the stage, so I lifted her and cradled her to me.  

 

When we were on the stage, I tried to set Anwen down, but she shook her head at me.  I knew that it must be very, very bad if Anwen was willing to let me hold her through this.  There were flash bulbs going off and I knew that tomorrow morning the paper would contain a picture of me, cradling my wife to me; and that Anwen would hate it.  I made eye contact with Fleur, and she seemed to understand that Anwen was getting worse, very quickly.  She whispered something in her husband’s ear, and then slipped from the row.  When we were situated in the area near the podium, Harry approached it to speak again.

 

“They are all receiving the Order of Merlin, First Class, for services to the Wizarding World, please join me in again thanking them for their unending service to the Ministry of Magic and to us all,”  Harry commanded and I watched as the room was again on their feet clapping.  I continued to hold Anwen against me, her body feeling so weak and her pulse again racing.  The Minister came to each of us, and pinned the medals on our dress robes.  When he got to Anwen and me, he angled himself so that his back was partially to the crowd, so that he could speak to us without anyone being able to see what was being said in the crowd.

 

“Do you need to get Anwen out of here?”  he asked, clearly concerned about my wife.  Her color was getting poorer, and she felt frail in my arms.

 

“She can’t take much more, it’s just been too much and I’ve given her all the potions I can,”  I told him and he nodded at me.  He quickly pinned the awards on each of us, and  then turned and whispered something in Harry’s ear.  Harry in turn nodded to him and Kingsley returned to the podium.

 

“Another round of applause for all of Order of Merlin First Class Recipients,”  he said, and Harry came to stand between his father and me.

 

“Take Aunt Anwen out of here right away and get her up to her office.  They’ve got enough pictures of us from earlier, and we can take a family photo later.  Dad and I can get the rest of the family upstairs, or even back to the Manor,”  Harry told me, and I couldn’t help but smile at him; it was the first time that he was taking charge of a situation, even with all of us around.  

 

We started to leave the stage, and I watched as a line of Auror’s came, and shielded our exit from the rest of the crowd.  Fleur was standing behind them, holding Anwen’s potions case.  “Zey are going to block ‘er exit from ze rest of ze room,”  Fleur told me.  “ Ze ‘ealer will be in ‘er office.”  

 

“Go on, we’ll be up as soon as we can,”  James told me and I cradled Anwen tighter.  As I did, I felt her start coughing.  I looked down, and there was bright red blood all over the sleeve of my dress robes.  I wouldn’t be taking her to her office or home.  I was taking her to the hospital. 


Chapter 11: Chapter 10: What Muggles Know
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 Chapter 10:

What Muggles Know

 

 

Sirius POV:

 

I was again in the Trauma department at St. Mungo’s. We’ve spent too damned much time here. When Fleur saw the blood on my sleeve, and on the edge of Anwen’s mouth, she immediately took control. She yelled to Lisette, who was one of the Aurors who had come forward to provide Anwen some privacy and block her from the crowd. I don’t know what it was that was said, because Fleur chose to speak in French, but whatever she said, the Head Auror seemed to understand, and then started barking out orders to the rest of the Aurors that were standing there. 

 

Fleur took an emergency Portkey from her pocket and put her arms around Anwen and me, and we were gone. When we got to the Trauma department, Fleur started talking rather rapidly to the Nursing staff there, explaining who she was and what she thought was going on. Healer Orlaf quickly followed us, and he directed me to lay her down on a bed in the private exam room. Fleur helped take her out of her dress robes, carefully laying the gown down on the chair beside me. Anwen looked so small and weak in her slip, lying on the bed. 

 

They examined her, and decided that her magic was again out of control, this time it was manifesting itself in physical ways and wreaking havoc with her already frail body. I also asked them about her emotional state; she’d seemed so weepy and fragile lately. I knew that Fleur had some understanding of what we’d been through and she said that the emotional upheaval would not only hinder her recovery, but it could indeed have set her back. They had obliged her magic, and I hoped that someone would think to get Fawkes over here to siphon her magic again. They had given Anwen a potion to help her sleep, but nothing else had been done yet. 

 

I was alone in the room with my wife now, she had rolled over on her side, her magical leg detached from her body, sleeping.  I couldn’t help but think that maybe there was more going on with Anwen than I had suspected, or really wanted to know. I had wanted her to be well, but I couldn’t help but wonder if she was just acting like it to make me happy. I was surprised when a trio of people walked in, and it was an odd trio indeed.

 

“I brought you a change of clothes, and Lily threw a gown in for Anwen,” Remus said, tossing me a tote. I was thankful for the khaki pants and the shirt that he had brought. I could see that there was a pair of loafers at the bottom as well. Anwen’s little pink nightgown was on top. 

 

“I’ll help her get changed Uncle Sirius. Harry wanted to come, but he and his father are dealing with the press. He’s really worried about her, he thought that they should have canceled the whole thing, after seeing how weak she was this morning. He actually yelled at the Minister for making her be part of this afternoon’s ceremony,” Ginny explained and took the nightgown and waved her wand so that a privacy curtain wrapped around the bed. I looked up at the third person who had come in. Anwen’s brother Haf was standing there, holding a small black bag. I looked at him puzzled.

 

“Sirius, I just finished my second year of medical school at McMaster in Hamilton. If you don’t mind, I thought that I might look at her, see if there’s anything that I can suggest?” Haf asked, and I hadn’t ever thought about using Muggle medicine to treat Anwen, but since we weren’t having great luck with Wizarding medicine, I couldn’t see what it would hurt.

 

“I don’t have a problem with it, but I think that we should tell her Healer. I don’t want to give him the wrong idea; that we think he’s doing something wrong or...” I told him, and he interrupted me.

 

“Sirius, I understand. It’s fine, speak with whomever you need to, I just want to help my sister if I can,” he told me and I smiled at Anwen’s littlest brother. He was certainly quite different from the young man who reveled in chucking cow manure at us before the wedding.

 

I rang for the Medi-Witch and within moments I had asked for Healer Orlaf to be paged and sent down so that we could speak with him. I also slipped out of the room and into the loo down the hall to change into the clothes that Remus had brought me. I was much more comfortable out of the dress robes. When I got back into Anwen’s room, the Healer was there, along with Fleur, and they were speaking with Anwen’s brother.

 

“Mr. Black, I was just talking with your brother-in-law here, and to be honest, I was going to suggest that we consider Muggle medicine. As I was saying, the problem seems to be with her magic somehow affecting her physical body. When her magical reserves are low, her body seems to be functioning much better, it’s when her magic is high that we run into all sorts of problems,” he explained.

 

“What did you do to bring her magic down before?” Haf asked, clearly interested in magical medicine.

 

“We’ve both obliged her magic, and had it siphoned off. The siphoning worked much better,” the Healer confessed.

 

“Can you explain the difference to me?”

 

“The siphoning just took the excess off, when we oblige her magic, she can’t use it at all,” Healer Orlaf said and Remus was nodding his head. I was glad that he was here, his brain was always much better at these things, and it wasn’t his wife lying in a hospital bed, unable to breathe. “Think of it like turning on and off a tap. When we siphon it off, we just take the excess amount, leaving the tank full. When we oblige it, she can’t access it at all, and if it builds up too much, the tank will overflow.” Haf nodded at the explanation.

 

“Do you mind if I examine her? I’m not a fully licensed doctor, I’ve still got two years of medical school, but I can conduct a basic examination. It might give me a sense of what’s going on with her.”

 

“Go ahead, you’re her brother, and you’re not going to cut her open or anything?” I asked him and Haf smiled and shook his head.

 

“No,” he laughed, thinking I was joking, but when he realized that I wasn’t he started speaking again. “I want to listen to her heart and lungs, check her eyes and her mouth, observe her reflexes if I can, that’s it,” he explained and I nodded. I watched as he pulled an odd set of tubes with a stick attached to the end out of his bag and went over and held it to Anwen’s chest. He listened, and then moved it, and then listened again; repeating this several times over her entire chest. He then held the strange device over her heart and stood very quietly. He lifted her arm and pressed his fingers to it, looking at his watch while he did. He next put the odd device away, and took out a small stick with a light on the end and lifted Anwen’s eye lid and looked at her eyes, then up her nose, and then in her mouth. He put the stick away, and grabbed what looked like a small hammer. He hit her joints in several places, and then put it away as well, and then turned to face me.

 

“Her lungs sound wet, which is bad; it means that she isn’t clearing fluid from them and it could lead to an infection. I don’t like the sound of her heart either, there’s a sort of sloshing noise as it beats, and as far as I know, my sister wasn’t born with a heart murmur, although Mom could confirm this for me. Her heartbeat isn’t regular either, and it should be. Her pulse is elevated as well. I have a question for you, how does magic work in the body? You talk about it as if it’s something that can be built up and depleted, is that true?” he asked and I was impressed with the young man’s professionalism.

 

“I get where you’re going with this,” Remus said. “Anwen had said that she thought magic flowed through the body, much like blood does, but that there is a core that houses most of a persons magic. She actually compared it to the eastern idea of chakras, places in the body where it is more condensed. Magic can indeed be built up and drained off, Anwen has always had an immense amount of power in her.”

 

“I’m sorry if these questions seem...basic to you, but I really never talked with either of my sisters about this. When you do magic what does it feel like?” Haf asked, and I had to think about it. 

 

“For me, my wand arm gets tingly and I can feel everything, and then when I do the spell, I can feel the magic move from me into my wand,” Ginny explained, and I had to agree with her, even though I had never thought about it.

 

“Is it the same for all of you?” he asked, and I noticed that we were all nodding our heads.

 

“The only person who I know it feels different for is Harry, but he does magic on a whole other level than most of us. He can concentrate on his magic and intensify it before he does a spell. It’s actually quite frightening sometimes,” Ginny said and I couldn’t help but see the way that she looked at the floor.

 

“Anwen has a different relationship with her magic as well,” Remus started. “Your sister doesn’t need a wand, she has a very, very rare skill call Visualization, and in fact, she’s an even rarer form called a Projecting Visualist. Anwen can make images from her brain become real, having magic spring simply from the pictures in her head. You have to understand, your sister doesn’t work along what even we consider normal, and ...she’s spent much of the last two years trying to control her magic adequately, and it’s been a struggle. She did something that no one thought was even possible, but it was like she altered her magical make up when she did it,” he tried to explain.

 

“Okay, what did she do?” he asked, and everyone’s eyes were on me.

 

“You sister brought me back from the land of the dead,” I told him quietly.

 

“Do my parents know about this?” he asked, dumbfounded.

 

“I don’t think that she ever really explained it to them, they just knew that I had been injured, badly. We had to take time, away, she stopped using magic voluntarily then, and learned some meditation exercises and she eventually got control back; but then, the last months of the war, she was called upon over and over to do very powerful magics. They changed her,” I explained to him. “Then, the night of the final battle, Haf, there was so much magical energy in her that she blew apart the tower we were in. We told your parents that there was an explosion, we didn’t tell them that Anwen was the cause.”

 

“Sirius, would you say that magic is like lighting a fire or instead like flicking a wall switch?” he asked me, and I had to stop and think about the answer.

 

“Definitely the wall switch. When you strike a match there is a flare up, and then it pulls back. It’s more like just...opening to let the magic flow,” I told him and he smiled brightly at me.

 

“I think I might have an idea of what’s happening here,” her brother said and Healer Orlaf nodded. “It almost sounds like magic is akin to an electrical current, when you use it, you’re opening a circuit, and then when the spell is done, the circuit gets closed. Anwen has so much in her, that she can’t keep the circuits closed anymore. It’s so high, it’s short circuiting her normal body functions, the ones that use electrical charges to maintain their rhythms.”

 

“What?” the Healer said, and I was thankful I wasn’t the only one confused here.

 

“The human body has a sort of electrical current in it all the time, in fact, when the heart stops or gets out of rhythm in my world, we give it a little electrical shock to get it back to normal. The brain uses electrical types of currents as well, to transmit messages. I think what’s happened is that Anwen’s magic is making her body short circuit itself,” he explained.

 

“Like what happens to the wiring in the house if it isn’t warded right? Like when she needs to go and fix the fuses?” I asked him. This I understood, sort of.

 

“If warding is like insulation, then yes. Anwen’s magic is triggering her fuses, but her body is having a hard time getting it started again,” he explained.

 

“What should we do about it?” Healer Orlaf asked, and Haf shrugged his shoulders. 

 

“I would say that we should siphon off her magic again, and then see how she is. I’m worried about the way that her heart and lungs sound, I know if she were a patient in the hospital that I do my practical work at, we’d have her on monitors to keep track of it, as well as medication to help flush the fluid and keep her blood pressure under control. There are some fairly bad things that can happen when she’s in the state she’s in now, including infection, heart stoppage and blood clots in the brain; all of which could kill her,” he said honestly, and I looked down at my wife and was again terrified, wondering how we ended up in this place, once again in our lives. “Sirius, I’m not a doctor, not yet; but I’m worried about her.”

 

“What do you want me to do?” I asked, looking from Haf to Healer Orlaf.

 

“I’d like to see if we can siphon off some of her magic, and then I want to call in a Muggle doctor. If what your brother-in-law is saying is true, I think that the Magical cures are triggering her magic, which is in effect making things worse. We may need to keep her from using her magic, and treat her with Muggle cures.

 

“We have a doctor that we work with in one of the large metropolitan hospitals here in London. In fact, she is the one that we work with when a magical case comes into their trauma department, like a Muggle child bitten by a werewolf,” he explained and I watched Haf’s face try and register that. “I’d like her to take over Anwen’s case. If it’s as I suspect, using magical cures on her is only making her magic more unstable, instead of helping calm it,” the Healer said and I nodded at him. I was willing to try anything at this point.

 

“I’d like to stay involved, if I may. I find all of this quite interesting, and perhaps they could use someone who understands both worlds back in Canada, once I have my medical degree,” Haf said and the Healer nodded in understanding.

 

“We’ll have to check with Dr. White, but I have no problems with it. Now, about the siphoning.”

 

“Remus, would you go back to the Manor and see if Fawkes will come back with you, tell him what we need. I believe that he should understand you, but if he doesn’t, talk with Ethan and see if he can tell him that his Mummy needs his phoenix,” I explained and my friend left to return to our home.

 

“Do I even want to know?” Haf asked, and I shook my head at him.

 

“I’m going go and find Harry and update him on what’s going on, he was really worried about her,” Ginny said, giving me a kiss on the cheek and then leaving the room. I was again struck at how the young ones had taken on the mantle of responsibility so well.

 

“You look worried,” a quiet voice said to me, and I saw Anwen’s eyes open.

 

“Well, you worry me, love,” I told her. “Your brother is here.”

 

“Swell, and I’m only half dressed,” she quipped and Haf laughed at her.

 

“Sis, I’ve seen more in my med classes; we’ve got a midwifery program and well...you’re much more covered up,” he teased her and she rolled her eyes. I filled her in on what the Healer and Haf had come up with and she looked skeptical at best.

 

“The last time that I had any Muggle medicine, I found myself with an incision that ran across my abdomen. You’ll understand if I don’t quite trust them,” she said impatiently.

 

“I know, but your brother is involved this time,” I told her, trying to build up her confidence in this matter.

 

“My brother also left a sandwich under his bed to see what kind of mold it would grow, so...” she trailed off.

 

I reached down and took her hands and kneeled so that I could look at her in the face. “I need you to get better, to be here with me, and to stop scaring me like this. Please, please for me, lets try this. I promise I won’t let them cut you up again.”

 

I could see her eyes tear up and she nodded at me. I leaned over and kissed her, and then sat on her bed, putting her head in my lap to wait for whatever would come next.

 

 

Anwen POV:

 

I had spent two days in the Muggle hospital, and I was ready to leave...now! If I thought that I lacked privacy in St. Mungo’s, the Muggle hospital, The Royal London Hospital to be exact, was exponentially worse. Dr. White was nice enough, and I appreciated her bedside manner, but it wasn’t enjoyable to be in this hospital. Someone was always coming in and checking my vitals or poking at me, often not asking me if I’d like to be poked right now.

 

My stump of a leg had been bandaged, and the medical staff was under strict rules that the only person that was to change the dressing was Dr. White. The magical posts for my prosthetic leg had been surgically removed at St. Mungo’s but it looked rather odd, and she didn’t want any questions. I wasn’t happy about it at all.

 

I was also very unhappy with all the wires and tubes that were attached to me. First there was a tube with a needle at the end of it stuck into my hand, and if I moved my hand at all the darned thing hurt. Then there was a tube stuck up my nose that was giving me the right level of oxygen to breath. There were little wires stuck all over my chest and hooked up to some machine that kept track of my heart beat and rate and finally there was some sort of a band on my arm that would squeeze it every fifteen minutes and give another reading. It was only because of the medications that I had slept at all.

 

The medications were barbaric as well. One made me nauseous so there was another one to counteract the nausea, but it had to be injected. There was a medication for the pain, which was quite nice, but I would sometimes zone out while I was speaking and realized that I had no idea what I was saying. They gave me one to help clear my lungs, but it made me need to use the loo frequently, so I had to call someone to help me into the loo not six feet away from me. There were more medications as well, and they had already warned me that I would be loosing some of my hair because of them.

 

I was not a fan of Muggle medicine. 

 

I was unfortunately irritated and petulant when Sirius came to see me; to his credit, he brought Stella and Jamie with him. I couldn’t be angry when I had my girls with me. Their faces lit up as he brought them into the room. “Jamie, oh, come here my little angel, let me see you,” I cooed at her and Sirius placed Stella gently in my arms, and then gingerly lifted Jamie up onto the bed as well. “Hello my little star, Mummy has missed you.”

 

“We missed you too, Mummy. Are you coming home today?” Jamie asked and I smiled at her.

 

“I hope so my little love. Why did the two of you get the privilege of seeing Mummy today? Where are your brothers and sister?” I asked, looking at my husband who leaned down to kiss me.

 

“There can only be two children at a time, so Harry and Ginny are coming in a little while with two more, and taking these two home, and then Lily, Remus and your Mum will bring the last two over. Remus will take two home, and then Lily will take the final two home. Your Mum insisted that she stay until you leave, sorry,” he whispered, but I didn’t care.

 

“So I really will leave today, you promise,” I said, begging my husband. We were supposed to leave on holiday in two days, and I wanted to be able to go away with my family. I was trying to keep from thinking about finishing our move into Hogwarts in two weeks.

 

“You are. Healer Orlaf was already at the house today, going over your instructions with Lily, Ginny, Hermione, Ma and me. You are under some rather strict rules, and we know them all so you can’t get away with anything. Winnie, you’re not out of the woods yet,” he told me, his eyes dark with concern, and I knew that he was alluding back to our conversation from about a week ago, when I felt like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was right.

 

“Mummy, where’s your funny leg?” Jamie asked me, and I looked at her and stroked her face.

 

“Mummy can’t wear her leg for a while, sweetheart. So I’m going to need your help, when I need something fetched for me, can you do that?” I asked her and Jamie nodded her sweet head at me.

 

“I can do whatever you need, Mummy. I’m a big girl,” she said proudly, and I didn’t doubt it.

 

Stella wiggled in my arms, and I nearly dropped her as she hit the line that had the needle in. Sirius saw what happened and quickly grabbed her from me, and then pulled the chair over close to the bed so that I could still see my little baby girl, without her doing too much damage. Within a few minutes, Harry and Ginny were there, bringing Edmund and Lilyan with them.

 

“You left John and Ethan to come together?” I asked Sirius, skeptically.

 

“I promised them that I’d take them flying if they were good,” Harry told me, and I cocked my eyebrow at him. “Aunt Winnie, they’ll be fine, I don’t fly the way you do.”

 

“Very funny, little man. I’ll remember that, Ginny, you going to let him play on your Quidditch team?” I asked the young witch who was wrangling Stella away from her father.

 

“If he’s the best that tries out, then sure. Head Boy or not, he’s still got to make the cut on my team. I don’t care that he used to be the captain,” she laughed at him, and Harry stuck his tongue out at her.

 

“Yeah, yeah, see how much mercy you get when you’re caught out of the dorms after curfew. I have the map,” Harry reminded her. “I want to see Aunt Winnie for a moment,” he told her, and Ginny left the room, carrying Stella and holding Jamie by the hand. Sirius had lifted Lilyan up on the bed, and was holding a very squirmy Edmund. 

 

“Mum, mum, mum,” he kept repeating, and I nodded so that Sirius would put him in my lap. My one year–old leaned himself down on my shoulder, and held onto me. The love of my children was definitely the best medicine there was.

 

“Aunt Winnie, I’m sorry about what happened. If I’d known just how bad you were, I never would have made you come up like that,” Harry started to apologize, but I shook my head at him. 

 

“Harry, I’m an adult. I could have stayed in my office, but I chose not to. What happened was because I overdid it, nothing more. Please, don’t worry about it,” I asked him and he nodded in understanding. Edmund squirmed again, and he must have disrupted one of the wires, because the box on the wall started beeping and buzzing.

 

“Maybe I should take him back home, too?” Harry asked, and I nodded at him. “Come on big guy, you can fly on my broom too,” he promised the little boy and Edmund quickly threw his arms around his neck. Sirius then set about trying to reattach the things before the nurse came in to see what we had done. I had found them less than pleasant when things had been tampered with, even if it was accidental.

 

He got the thing reattached before anyone noticed, and I settled down to have a pleasant conversation with my eldest daughter. She told me about playing with Hermione and Emma after the ceremony, and how Hermione let her touch her special pin, and then they took a picture of all of the children in their fancy robes. 

 

“Mummy, I didn’t like it when you looked so sad in Daddy’s arms. Don’t look sad like that again,” she told me, and it nearly broke my heart. I looked up at Sirius, unable to speak.

 

“She won’t, ladybird. Mummy is going to get better now. Why don’t you tell her about the garden?” Sirius suggested, and Lilyan started in about what was in bloom in the gardens at the Manor. I was shocked at just how much she knew about the flowers.

 

It wasn’t long before Remus, Lily and my Ma arrived and before they had even been in the room for two minutes, Remus decided it was time to take the boys home. He took Lilyan as well, and the room was finally quiet.

 

“You color looks better, you’re nowhere near as peaky,” Lily told me.

 

“It will only get better too, once you get some real food into you,” my Ma told me, and I couldn’t help but laugh at her.

 

“Let me guess, you cooked enough food to feed an army at home?” I asked and Lily nodded.

 

“I don’t know how we’re supposed to eat it all before we leave on holiday. I think I’ll need to ship the leftovers to the Weasleys. Ron will eat anything,” Lily joked and I knew that she was right. We talked quietly for a while, Lily letting me know that she’d heard from Minerva and she had arranged for a nanny for our children and the girl was moving into the castle next week, and would be by to meet the children before we moved in.

 

“She was Head Girl several years ago, and she’s done her training as a pediatric medi-witch, but found the hospital setting too much for her. Harry knew her, um, Patty Stimpson. Minerva spoke very highly of her,” Lily told me, and I nodded at her, not really happy that someone else would be helping to raise my children, but I would need the help and I had every intention of doing as much as I could on my own.

 

The door opened again, and Healer Orlaf, Dr. White and Haf entered. They all came to stand at the end of my bed. “Okay, we’re letting you go today, but here are the ground rules,” Dr. White started.

 

“You are not to do anything. You are not to lift anything, carry anything, no reaching beyond what is at arm’s length. You are not going to wear your prosthetic leg, so you will either be in your wheelchair, carried, or you may use crutches, but your brother here needs to teach you how to use them properly,” she told me and I nodded at her, even though I didn’t like what she was saying.

 

“You are to keep your leg propped up so that the blood doesn’t pool at the end of it, your blood is still thin and it isn’t clotting correctly, but it’s better than it was,” she further explained and I nodded.

 

“Anwen, you need to eat at least six small meals a day. Part of the problem was that your digestive system wasn’t able to handle the heavier meals. You also need to build the bacteria up in your intestines again, so we’ve got you on a special diet. Ma and Mrs. Potter have already worked out what you need to eat and when for the next two days. I checked the bacteria count though this morning, and it’s much better,” my brother told me, and I was grossed out by him.

 

“So that’s what that long swabby thing was for,” I said sarcastically. “Glad to know you were playing with my...”

 

“Don’t finish that sentence if you know what’s good for you Anwen Llyn” my Ma barked back, and everyone broke out laughing that my Mum was trying to control my language at my age.

 

“Anyway,” Haf said loudly. “You also need to drink plenty of water, it will help with the medications that are flushing your system.”

 

“As for your magic, you are to do none. I don’t want to oblige you, because it builds up too quickly that way, but you cannot do any spell work, and you are to keep your emotions under control so that you don’t do any accidental magic. Fawkes will be siphoning you every two to three days, and I hope that when this is done, your body will remember how to regulate itself,” Healer Orlaf told me, and I cringed at him.

 

“How long?”

 

“Two weeks, and then we will re-evaluate,” he told me. I didn’t like it, but I could tell by looking at the faces around the room that I wasn’t going to get him to change his mind, so I nodded to that as well.

 

“You’re going to remain on the pills that you’ve been taking here, and we’re going to send you with two other kinds of medications. One is an inhaled medicine that if you find you’re having trouble breathing you’ll puff into this chamber and then breathe it in,” Dr. White said, demonstrating how the device would work and I nodded at her. “Only use it when you’re having trouble breathing.

 

“The other medication is a different kind of salve to put on the scars on your back. It contains cocoa butter and lanolin as well as a mild analgesic so that you don’t feel as uncomfortable from them. In a few months, I want a plastic surgeon to look at them, and see if we can remove some of the scar tissue, if necessary,” she told me, and I very reluctantly nodded.

 

“Please, Anwen, no exertion or physical excitement. I know that you have six children, but you’ve got to let other people lift them and care for them for the next two weeks, or you’re not going to be any good to them. Now, if you start vomiting too badly, if you get dizzy or pass out or if you start running a fever you are to get in touch with me immediately, day or night. I gave your husband my private number and my pager number. Do you understand?” she asked and I nodded at her, unhappy about what was being said and feeling near to tears.

 

“When will the stupid crying stop? I never used to be this weepy,” I asked her and she smiled at me.

 

“You’ll feel more like yourself shortly. One of the medications that you’re on is a mild anti-depressant. With everything that you’ve been through, it’s natural that you’d feel a little out of whack, and your serotonin levels were all wrong. That medicine will help, give it another week, and you should feel like your old self. Do you have any more questions?” she asked again and nothing came to mind. 

 

“So pretty much, I can’t do anything,” I said and they all nodded at me.

 

“Um, I have a question?” Sirius said, and I looked up at my husband. “Can she and I, um, enjoy each other?” he asked and I groaned and covered my face with my hands. Leave it to Sirius to bring up sex.

 

“Sirius, you can’t shag my sister for at least two weeks, well, let me rephrase that, you can’t do anything with my her that would cause her to orgasm. It would be too hard on her heart and it would elevate her heart rate too much,” Haf said, and I wondered if I had slipped into some alternate dimension where it was perfectly normal for your baby brother to be talking about your sex life in front of your mother.

 

“Well, we’ve now discussed my fecal matter and orgasms in the same conversation, do you have any more ways to humiliate me, little brother?”

 

“Well, I could give you a gynecological exam, but I think that would even gross me out,” he teased back and I was at a loss for words. Thankfully, Lily chose to speak instead.

 

“Is there any reason that she can’t go on holiday?”

 

“None whatsoever, in fact, a nice holiday may be just what she needs. All I ask is that she stick to the small, lower fat meals and take a nap in the afternoon so as to not wear herself out, but with that many children, I would assume that naps are part of your daily schedule,” Dr. White said, and I was glad for the answer. “Let me check your leg and back, and then we’ll get you detached from all these machines and you can get dressed and head home. I just have to sign the final paperwork. Someone brought you some clothes, right?”

 

“Got them right here,” my Ma said and I smiled at her, and noticed that she was still considerably flushed from our earlier conversation.

 

Within an hour I was back at Potter Manor, sitting on the darned hospital bed that was once again in the sitting room of our flat, thankful for the noise and bustle that the house provided. Sirius came and lay down next to me, urging me to curl up against him. He moved my hand so that it was over his heart, and I sighed contentedly.

 

“Now, there’s no reason that you can’t sleep, my love. Rest, and let your body get better. I wouldn’t know how to live in this world without you, and I know that I would follow you wherever you go. Your heart is beating for us both, so please, let it get better,” he asked me, and I thought that it might have been the loveliest thing he ever said to me. His arm stroked down my arm and side and he held me to him.

 

“I love you,” I mumbled as I fell into a comfortable sleep.

 

“I love you too, always my sweet little one.”



Chapter 12: Chapter 11: 'Round 'Em up Partner
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Chapter 11:

‘Round ‘Em Up, Partner

Sirius POV:

 

I walked out of the house we were renting in Nice, and stared at my beautiful wife.  She was sitting on the porch, cradling a sleeping Edmund to her, stroking his face and kissing his head and I could feel her calm contentment undulating off of her.  She was sitting in the rocking chair that we had adapted to accommodate her need to keep her right leg elevated, gently moving back and forth with the sleeping toddler in her arms.  The rental house was on a hill, three blocks from the house that the Potter’s owned, from which we could watch the waves of the Mediterranean Sea roll against the shore.  I carried the fruited iced tea out to Anwen, and set her glass down on the table and then sat in the other rocker.

 

“I don’t even have to ask how you’re feeling,”  I told her as I reached over to stroke Edmund’s head and her hand, “you haven’t been this content or calm in years.”

 

“How about if we leave Britain, and just move here.  Think anyone would miss us?”  she asked me with a dreamy look on her face.  If it makes her this happy, I would move here in a heartbeat.  

 

“Darling, I think that they might want you at the Wizengamot, and the Council would miss both of us,”  I teased her back.  “Plus, Minerva might be a little put out if her Defense Professors didn’t show up for class.”

 

Anwen pouted and looked away from me to stare out at the beach and the sea again.  “Fine, but we’re buying a house here.  Weather is as nice as Monaco, without being quite so...corrupting.  You’re unlikely to loose thousands of pounds here,”  she said, teasing me about my inability to do well at the casinos of Monaco.

 

“Yes, but what about the topless beaches?”  I asked her.  I had been joking that I would go down, whether she came with me or not.  There is no way that I would go, Ginny and Hermione had gone this morning, and the thought of running into either of them with out a top on is enough to scare me away for life.  Anyway, I don’t want anyone else ever seeing the loveliness that is my beautiful wife, that is my pleasure alone.

 

“I’ll cast a glamor to make them all look like they’re wearing tops, anyway,”  she teased.

 

“You can’t do any magic, Anwen.”

 

“Fine, then I’ll tell Lily what I want and she’ll do it for me,  she says that she still owes you for the time that you hexed her at school, and every time she looked at the Marauders, it appeared that all of your clothes were gone and you were just in your knickers,”  she sighed and looked over at me.  “I feel bad for her though, after she saw  all the wonder that is you, she had to settle for James.  I don’t know how she does it.”

 

“Now I know that you’re just picking on me.”

 

She looked over at me and she bit her lip and then said, slowly and deliberately, “You are the most beautiful creature upon this planet, and my body craves yours,”  she told me, passion flaring in her eyes.  I stood up and went behind her chair and leaned down over her and kissed her deeply.  From our positioning, I could stroke along the roof of her mouth with my tongue, and she moaned as I did, and then captured her bottom lip between my teeth and gave it a little nip.

 

“All right you two,”  I heard her mother say from behind us.  “You’re to have none of that, doctor’s orders.”

 

“Your mother is worse than a Dementor, sucks the fun right out of life,”  I teased and kissed her quickly again and Anwen nodded at me.  Rhosyn left the house and I could hear the door closing behind us.  I stood up and sat back down in my chair, and she came to stand in front of us.  “Got dinner started, the seafood at the market was amazing,”  she told us, and Anwen smiled at her.  “Will the kids eat it?”

 

“They should, the only thing that they don’t like are some of the stronger tasting fishes,”  Anwen explained.

 

“Good, I got mussels and shrimp and the vegetables,”  she said, throwing her arms up in the air, “Anwen, shopping at these markets is amazing,”  the older woman said and Anwen couldn’t help but start to quietly laugh.

 

“Ma, you’re the only woman I know who can go to the south of France and get excited about buying produce.  I’m glad that you’re happy, but one night this week, we’re going out so that I can get real bouillabaisse while we’re here, and then some good pastry,”  she said and I smiled at her.  

 

“I am so happy to hear you say you want to eat.  I will make sure that we have time, we’re not leaving to go to this ‘amusement park’ thing until Tuesday of next week,”  I told her.  I was really skeptical of the whole thing, and you could hear it in my voice.

 

“You’ll see, we’re going to have fun, I promise,”  she said again, but I had to be honest, I wasn’t sure about this whole thing, and there had to be something that she, Lily and Hermione weren’t telling the rest of us; they were far too excited about going.

 

“Mummy, Daddy, where are you?”  we heard little Lilyan holler from inside the house.

 

“We’re out on the porch, ladybird,”  I answered and Lilyan came out of the house, followed by Emma and Jamie.  The girls were at our house today, the boys were at the Potter home.  The girls were much easier to keep up with, and quieter, since Edmund, Teddy and Stella still needed to sleep.

 

“Daddy, Grandda said that he would walk us over to Emma’s house, and then we were going to go to the beach with Ginny.  Is it alright if we go now?”  Lilyan asked, and I nearly choked on the words Ginny and beach.  I heard Anwen clear her throat at me.

 

“Of course, sweetie.  Just make sure that you...”

 

“I know Daddy, we walk with Grandda and hold hands and listen to his rules and listen to Aunt Lily when we get there,”  she said, sounding irritated that I was repeating the rules with her.

 

“Missy, you’re four years old and you will not take that tone of voice with your Daddy,”  Anwen reprimanded her.

 

“Sorry, Daddy.  May we go, please?”

 

“Yes you may,”  I told her and the three little girls all looked excited.

 

“You know, I think that I’ll walk with your Da over, so that I can see the boys and make sure that they’re not causing too much of a problem for Lily.  Anything I can do for you before I leave,”  Rhosyn asked.

 

“I think we’re fine, Ma.  Just make sure that Lily puts the sun protection charm on the girls, they’re both so fair,” Anwen asked and her mother nodded.  Her father came out of the house, followed by Remus and Tonks.  We bid the little swimsuit–clad trio and their escort goodbye and watched as they bounced down the hill.

 

“Hope it’s not the same beach they went to this morning,”  I grumbled under my breath.  Anwen couldn’t stifle her laugh.

 

“Yes, well if Ma goes with them, no one will be looking at Ginny, I’m quite sure,”  Anwen laughed.  Remus and Tonks caught on to what was being said, since most of the beaches were topless here; there were a few spots that were labeled as requiring full suits, mostly so that you could take younger children to them.

 

“Anwen, what do you say, should we go down too and take a dip,”  Tonks said with a glint in her eye, and immediately Remus got red and looked away.

 

“My wife is not going topless, dear cousin.  I don’t want the men here seeing what they’re missing,”  I told them and Anwen rolled her eyes at me.

 

“Yes, because nearly non-existent and sagging is such a delightful thing to look at.  Sirius, love, breast feeding four children has not been kind to the girls,”  she told me, motioning to her chest and Remus turned an even deeper shade of red.  “I think we need to end this conversation or poor Moony is going to bust some blood vessels in his face with all that blushing.”

 

“How about if I take that little guy there, and put him down for his nap.  Teddy and Stella are both sleeping, and the house is remarkably quiet without any children here,”  Tonks said, and Anwen nodded at her.  She kissed Edmund’s head and then he was picked up by his aunt and carried into the house.  Remus said down on the wicker love seat that was against the railing.

 

“You look like you’re feeling better, and you’re certainly in good spirits,”  Remus said, looking at my wife, “are you really feeling well?”

 

“I am,”  she said.  “Things seem quite good, and Fawkes skimmed more magic off this morning, and I always feel better when he’s done that.  I wish you’d been there,”  she started and I wanted to stop her from telling the story.

 

“Anwen, please don’t,”  I asked her, but she gave me her wicked little grin, and continued speaking anyway.

 

“Sirius was standing there, stark naked when Fawkes flashed in, scared the you know what out of him, and reflexively swatted at the bird, but of course, Fawkes moved too quickly, so instead, Sirius toppled over into the window, pulled the curtain down, and ended up flashing himself at the woman who owns the house next door,”  Anwen told him and they were both laughing.

 

“What did she do?”  he asked, and Anwen smiled at me.

 

“She gave him a thumbs up sign, and he just stood there, his bits exposed to the neighborhood.  She finally had to wave goodbye to him,”  Anwen continue laughing.  Whatever, we’re in the south of France, it’s not like she hasn’t seen men on the beaches.

 

When the laughter finally died down and Tonks had returned, I watched Moony’s face get more serious.  “Anwen, have you figured out what you’re going to do if you can’t do magic yet, when you head to Hogwarts?” he asked her.

 

“I have. Minerva has decided that even though the students are coming back on the first, classes will not begin until Monday the seventh.  She wants the kids who were there for the battle to have a chance to be in the castle and deal with whatever emotions they’re going through, so that will give me another week.  If after that, I still can’t do magic, I was thinking that I’d ask Harry to help with my fifth and seventh year classes.  He’s decided to take his NEWT when we return from France, as has Ron.  Hermione is worried that she won’t pass, so I’m letting her take my first year Auror Defense exam as practice, just to prove to her that she can pass her NEWT with flying colors.  Their results won’t be in for a few weeks, so he’ll need to sit in the class anyway, and the fifth year class is during his free period.  My only problem will be my sixth year class, but I think that Ron could help me with that one, since he isn’t taking the Ancient Runes NEWT class, and both Hermione and Harry are,”  she explained.  

 

“As for the other two days, it’s dueling practice and elementals.  I don’t need to do magic in the dueling class, more moderate it and the first few weeks of elementals will be testing to see where the students are, and helping them figure out what elements they are strongest in.  James has already said that he would come up and work with me, since he’s a Master as well, as have several other staff members.  I think I’ll be fine,”  she concluded.

 

“What happens if your magic never regulates?”  he asked, and I glared at him.

 

“That isn’t going to happen, so we’re not going to talk about it,”  I told him tersely.  I felt Anwen put her hand on mine, and gently stroke the top of it with her thumbs.  

 

“Sirius, at some point we have to talk about it, but not until we’ve exhausted every other possibility,”  she said quietly, looking out at the sea.  “If I can’t do magic again, then I’ll teach or write; I could always work in the Department of Mysteries doing Runic translations.  I use very little magic working in law as it is.  I’ll be fine if I can’t do spell work.”  

 

“Anwen, do you regret that this happened?”  Tonks asked.

 

“No,”  Winnie said as she turned to face her.  “If the cost of making sure that no one died is losing my ability to do magic, then it was still worth it.  I would have regretted someone’s death or serious injury much more.”

 

We all sat there quietly, and I knew that I was struck at how level–headed my dear wife was about the whole thing.  “Well, I think that we need to change the subject.  What are we going to do while we’re here, hum?  I have no intention of sitting in this house, as lovely as it is, the entire time that we’re here.  Let’s get out and do something, even if it means that I have to be taken out in that damned wheelchair,”  she said, sounding chipper and bright; but I silently prayed that Anwen’s fears wouldn’t be realized.

 

 

Anwen POV:

 

“Anwen, what are you laughing at?”  Lily asked me as I sat on the porch of the house that we were staying in while we were in Nice.

 

“I think the next door neighbor is going to miss Sirius,”  I told her, looking over the gardens at the middle aged woman who lived in the small house next door.  She was looking over at us packing up the cars for the drive to the amusement park with sadness written all over her face.  “Nous reviendrons dans deux jours,”  I yelled over at her, and she smiled at me and returned to tending her gardens.

 

“What did you just tell her?”

 

“I told her we’d be back in two days,”  I said with my most angelic face.

 

“Anwen Hodgson-Black, you are evil.  You know, she’s liable to show up here in some slinky lingerie trying to seduce your husband, and since you and he can’t...you could be playing with fire,”  Lily teased back.

 

“I dare her to try to seduce Sirius,”  I said confidently.  Just then my husband sauntered up the porch looking irritated and frustrated at me.

 

“Tell me again why we’re driving to this place, and not creating a Portkey?”  he asked.  He had been attempting to pack the cars, and was not happy about it.

 

“Because, it’s a Muggle park, and if twenty-two of us just show up to stay for two days, it will look beyond suspicious and I don’t feel like getting in touch with the French Ministry having to explain why the Chief Warlock of the British Wizengamot was confunding people right and left while we were on holiday,”  I explained, and he just growled at me.  “You are going to have a wonderful time, Sirius.  I promise,”  I told him, and I pulled on his shirt to make him lean down and kiss me.  “And if you don’t, I promise I will make it up to you once we’re allowed.”

 

He looked at me and cocked his eyebrow.  “I’m holding you to that.  Let’s start getting these children loaded into the cars,”  he said sounding less than thrilled with the task.  It seemed that whenever we got the kids into the car seats to drive anywhere this week, at least one of them announced that they needed to go to the loo once we were trying to leave.

 

We had to bring four cars with us from Scotland, all shrunk down and put into a crate that then had to be lightened magically so that we could get it through the floo.  Thankfully, the Potter’s house had a garage, and we were able to take the cars out,  one at a time, return them to their regular size, and then drive them out of the garage so that the neighbors weren’t getting suspicious.

 

I was sitting in my rocker on the porch, waiting for Sirius to come and help me get to the caravan all on my own, maybe.  I had been trying the crutches that Haf had taught me to use, but the terrain was less than conducive to my walking with them here.  My wheelchair had already been shrunk and put into a suitcase so that we’d have it while we were staying at the park.

 

We would be going first, as theoretically I had some idea where we were going; I was actually just going to be reading a map, but anyway, our car was leading.  My mother and father were going to be in the caravan with us, as well as Hope Potter, Edmund and Stella.  Hope would sit between the two littler babies, and let us know if they needed anything.  She was also quite proficient at making faces at Stella to keep her from crying.

 

James was driving the next car, his Rover and he and Lily had the dubious task of taking the boys with them.  Evan, Ethan and John had proven to be quite a handful, but thankfully, they didn’t try much with James and Lily to watch them.  I don’t even want to think about what the three of them will be like when they’re at Hogwarts.  They may rival the Weasley twins in the chaos they create.

 

The next car would be my BMW, driven by Hermione, as neither of the Lupins or Ron had any idea how to operate a Muggle car.  We had found out the hard way that we couldn’t put Hermione in the last car in our little parade, or she got separated, since she insisted on driving under the speed limit.

 

Harry was driving his mother’s car behind her, and he had Ginny and the girls with him.  While his mother’s Citroën wasn’t a bad car, it certainly wasn’t his little roadster, however.  Since he couldn’t put anyone else in the car besides he and Ginny, this was a wiser choice.  He and Sirius had talked at length about the awful handing on the car and I just shook my head at them.  I don’t think they’re happy with anything that doesn’t fly or have insane horsepower.  He was behind Hermione to keep her from lagging too far behind the rest of us.

 

Lily and I checked to make sure that they all had Muggle francs to pay the tolls on the road between Nice and the little town on Curge-les-Pins where the park was located.  Once everyone else was in the automobiles, Sirius came and helped me stand on my crutches, and insisted on walking backwards in front of me, his arms outstretched and hovering near me to make sure that I wouldn’t fall.  When I did stumble, he took that to mean that I needed him to carry me the rest of the way to the car.

 

“Don’t get used to doing this,”  I told him, “you are not carrying me around Hogwarts.”

 

“Nope, but there will be students pushing your wheelchair wherever you need to go,”  he told me and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to know what he and Minerva had cooked up.

 

The drive took about two and a half hours, and it was fairly pleasant, at least in our car, since the three littlest ones napped the entire time.  We had planned the trip so that we would leave right after lunch, and arrive before dinner.  We drove past the park, and I had to remind Sirius to keep his eyes on the road, and not on the rides.  He was particularly interested in one that seemed to go upside down over and over again.

 

“Okay Winnie, I take back everything that I said about this place.  That looks like fun,”  he said and I smiled.  We drove around to the entrance of the resort part of the park, and his mouth dropped open.  “You’re expecting us to sleep in those?”  he said sounding rather indignant about the brightly colored tee-pees that dotted the forest.

 

“Welcome to the OK Corral,” I said brightly, and he looked at me as if I had lost my mind.  Lily and I had found a Western United States theme park and resort in the south of France and my parents thought that it was adorable.  We had been to the western United States when we traveled after Sirius’ experience beyond the veil.  I could tell from looking at the brochure that it took all of the cliches and rolled them together.  I figured that we should just embrace it, and have a great time on holiday.  

 

“The kids just spent the better part of a year living in a tent, and what do you do, you arrange for our holiday to be spent in a tent?”

 

“We talked with Hermione, and she was thrilled with the idea.  Get over it Sirius, this is where we’re staying for two days.  Lily is going to go and check us in, and then we’ll get all set up and have some fun.  We can even go over to the park and have supper tonight and maybe catch the fireworks,”  I said brightly, but Sirius was grumbling rather loudly, which made my Ma and Da laugh even harder.

 

We had arranged for five of the little dwellings, and we were thankful that they were all clustered together. Each one had three beds, in its own compartment, and something they called an “efficiency kitchen” as well as indoor and outdoor seating.  It looked like fun, and we had all enjoyed camping while at the Quidditch World Cup three years ago.

 

We put the teens in one together, and Lily told them that the girls were to share a bed and the boys could each have their own, but I refrained from looking at either Ginny or Hermione as she said this, knowing full well that wasn’t going to happen.  We took the little tent next to them, and then the Lupins were next to us, to buffer the teens from Harry’s parents.  They’re all of age, there isn’t much that Lily can do about it, but I still wouldn’t want her finding out. 

 

My parents had already told our older four that they would be taking turns staying overnight with them in their tent, which made it easier for Sirius and me.  We could put Edmund in a bed then, and then put Stella in the portable crib at the end of his bed, using the edge as a changing table.

 

“Anwen, that’s not a kitchen,”  Sirius said as he walked in to see the sink and mini chill box that each tent contained.  “What is that?”  he said pointing at the hot plate.  “That’s it, we’re just going to summon food here.”

 

“Sirius, we need to blend in, love.  Food flying through the air would look, well, odd.  Stop it please, we’re going to have fun, I promise,”  I told him for what felt like the hundredth time.  We got unpacked, and the children were very excited to see the pool that wasn’t far from the tents.  Ginny and Hermione were looking at the map of the place, and thankfully Ginny remembered enough French to be able to do the translations.

 

“Anwen, where is the loo?”  Sirius asked, sounding somewhat disgusted.

 

“In that little brick house over there,”  I said, pointing to the small structures that were behind the teepees.  “They’ve got running water, they’re just detached.”  He shook his head at me, and then took Ethan and John and headed with them over to the building.  I shook my head, knowing that I would need to do something later to brighten his mood.  Just because I can’t get my heart racing, doesn’t mean that he can’t either.

 

We got the strollers and my wheelchair unpacked, and got ourselves ready to head into the park for supper and a few amusements.  We ate dinner at the Mississippi Restaurant, which specialized in something called barbecue.  I was able to find foods that fit into my “low fat, high fiber, not too processed, not too salty, lots of water, not too much sugar, low in dairy” diet that my brother had insisted on.  I was sure that the sauce on my chicken was far too...something not on my diet, but it tasted really good.  It took about a half an hour for Sirius to get into the whole experience, and before dinner was over, all of the kids, including the babies, had their own cowboy hats and boots.  Sirius had also bought hats for the Marauder’s that had their names embroidered into them.  Lily and I just looked at each other and shook our heads.

 

The teens bid us goodbye and went to explore on their own, and my parents decided that they’d had enough for the day, and went back to their tent, saying that they’d like to just sit and read for a little while.  That left the six of us and our ten children.  Lily pushed one stroller with Hope and Stella in it, and Tonks pushed the other with Teddy and Edmund.  James had his hands on the twins and the older four were walking together, but in sight of Remus and Sirius and me.  Sirius was pushing my wheelchair.

 

“You alright down there, ma’am?”  he said, attempting to do a ‘cowboy accent’ or at least what he thought a cowboy accent would be.

 

“Call me ma’am again, and I’ll have your cousin hex your bits,”  I told him and he leaned down and kissed me.  

 

“Okay, but are you all right, your chair comfortable enough?”

 

“Oh yes, I’m getting used to seeing the world at crotch and bum level.  I just wish you were in front of me, rather than behind me; the view would be so much better that way,”  I sighed at him and he threw his head back and laughed.

 

“You are...wonderful my dear wife,”  he said, and then tipped the chair back and zoomed me to catch up with the others who had gotten ahead of us.

 

We took the children on some kiddy rides, and they were quite excited about the dragon carousel ride.  How it was part of a Western Theme place, I wasn’t sure, but it was here nonetheless.  I didn’t think that there were any dragons in the desert southwest, and even if there were, clearly having a ride about them would be against the secrecy statues.  The only problem was that Evan announced, rather loudly, that real dragons didn’t come in these colors, and they certainly weren’t as cool as the one that was on his brother’s back.  It was priceless to watch James try and explain why we couldn’t talk about such things around Muggles, and that he needed to remember this when he went to school in the fall.

 

The children rode several other kiddie rides, little ponies that moved along a metal track, some little bear things that went in a circle and some spinning coffee cups.  We ran into Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione and Harry challenged his godfather to ride “Le Sabre”, the thing that went upside down with him.   Of course, Sirius took the challenge, and we all trekked over to this ride that did indeed look like a huge knife spearing a compartment, and watched as they got into the queue to ride.  Ron and James decided to go with them, and Ethan and Evan would have gone as well, but they were considered too short.

 

“So, should we lay bets on who’ll be sick when they get off?”  Lily asked.

 

“It won’t be Harry,”  I said confidently.  “You have to be able to fly upside down sometimes when you’re seeking, he’s used to this.”

 

“Ron won’t be able to handle it,”  Hermione said with light laughter in her voice.  “He still gets woozy when we apparate.”

 

“My brother is such a wimp,”  Ginny complained with and exasperated sigh.  “Hermione, I have an idea, come with me,”  she said, taking her friend by the hand and heading over to a local shop.

 

We watched them ride, and when they got off, Ron looked positively green, James didn’t look like he’d had any fun, and Harry and Sirius were ready to get back on.  Lily convinced them that instead, it might serve us well to let the children have a quick swim before the fireworks and bed.  Our tents were situated in such a way that we’d be able to see them from our little garden sitting areas, and then we could get them settled down for the night.

 

Sunset was only about a half hour earlier here, but the next morning I was amazed how late I slept in, due to the fact that sunrise was nearly two hours later here.  It was well after seven when I finally rolled out of bed.  I was the last one to get up, and while I got a fair amount of teasing for it, most were happy that I was comfortable enough to sleep.

 

Ma had made an amazing breakfast, by utilizing several of the hot plates in the different tents, and telling people what to do.  Remus had found it amusing how she’d delegated, and begged Tonks to stay out of the kitchen, instead relegating her to slicing apples, with a knife, which did require Lily to do three healing charms on her.  After that, she was given the task of folding napkins.

 

Once everyone was fed, we dressed the children for another swim, and headed over to the pool.  I had kept myself in very long skirts or pants since I wasn’t allowed to wear my prosthetic anymore; the stump was ugly and badly scarred.  Tonks had set the charm on everyone’s enchanted tattoos to freeze them, or they were just concealed.  Remus and I sat at the edge of the pool, watching everyone else in the water, our three feet dangling in the water.  Sirius cradled little Stella and bounced up and down in the water as the baby smiled and shook her head at him in near silent laughter.  I couldn’t take my eyes off him.

 

“It really is over, isn’t it,”  I said silently, mostly rhetorically.

 

“Anwen, why do we have to keep convincing you that this is our life now, that things are better?  Yes, it’s over my dear friend, and it won’t ever happen again,”  he promised and I put an arm around him and gave him a sideways hug.  We talked about his plans for the future, and I was pleasantly surprised when he told me that he was hoping to not only continue to work with the infected children, but to work with the Ministry to re-write the Werewolf legislations that had kept him from work for so long.  The Minister had already approached him about working with the Department for Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.  We spoke quietly and I was hopeful that this meant he had decided to let the Aurors deal with Greyback.

 

We changed the children again, and entered the park shortly after it opened and then Sirius and Harry were off for their upside down ride again, this time Ginny and Tonks joined them.  Ron grumbled when Hermione told him that they would be helping with the children for a while, but he got over it soon enough, turns out that Ethan and Evan had the teen wrapped around their little, mischievous fingers.

 

We stayed in the children’s ride area for the duration of their “who can vomit last” contest -- which was won by Tonks, since she has a stomach made of steel -- and then had lunch, of which Harry ate little for the first time in his life.  After we’d eaten all of the greasy, fried and super sugary park food that we could find, well, everyone else did, I had a salad and some nice baked chicken, yum, we went to see the “Wild West Shootout Show”; and more than once, Harry and I commented that it was staged all wrong.  They weren’t using the terrain to their best advantage, even if their weapons were crude and ineffective.  We also decided that  if they had been using real guns, they all needed to learn to fire them better, since it was obvious that their aim was horrid. 

 

“Aunt Winnie, they need you to teach them about the best offense being a well planned defense,”  he told me, and I smiled that something I had taught him had indeed sunk in.

 

The show ended and it was mid–afternoon, and we decided to head back to let the children nap.  We were almost to the teepees when I realized that it wasn’t Sirius pushing me, Ginny was.

 

“Ginny, where did my husband go?”  I asked him and she smiled at me.

 

“He said that there was something that he wanted to do, he’ll be back.  I have something to show you,”  she said, drawing a flat rectangle from her bag.  “Hermione and I had these done last night.”

 

She handed me a sepia washed photograph of the two of them, dressed as dancing girls, or perhaps as women of ill repute, in low cut, flouncy skirted dresses, complete with fishnet stockings and high heel boots.  They were posed rather provocatively.  I looked up at her, surprised, shocked and delighted.

 

“Ginny, it’s wonderful.  Did you show the boys yet?”

 

“No, we thought we’d do it when we get back to the Manor.  This has been a fun trip, I’ve never seen Hermione let her hair down so,”  the young woman squealed, and I knew that they were having a good time.

 

“I should think not, a topless beach and then this picture, my goodness, who knew that Hermione had it in her?”  I asked her.  Ginny stopped and looked at me, unnerved.

 

“But you thought that I was some sort of a tart?”

 

“No, sweetheart, you misunderstand me.  You’re a free spirit, and it would be very hard for me to be surprised by anything that you do, because you embrace life and love every day.  Hermione on the other hand is rather...repressed.  We’ve seen a whole other side of her on our holiday,”  I explained.

 

“Actually, we’ve just seen more of her,”  she joked, waving her hands over her torso and I laughed with her.  Ginny helped me get the girls and the babies down, feeding Stella her bottle.  Once the kids were all down, the adults came to sit in the gardens again.  It wasn’t long before Sirius loped back, carrying something in a cylinder in his hands. 

 

“What did you do?”  I asked him, not sure that I was prepared for whatever would be inside.

 

“I thought that after the life I’ve led, I needed this,”  he said, sliding a paper out of the tube and unrolling it.  It was a Wild West Wanted Poster, with his face in the middle and the statement “Wanted Dead Or Alive” underneath it.  He was dressed completely in black with a black ‘ten gallon’ hat on his head and he’d snarled his lip so that he looked quite menacing.  He’d even asked them to set the typeface so that it read that Sheriff Fudge was to be contacted if he was seen.  We were all laughing so hard that Lily was concerned that we’d wake the children.

 

“Were there even wanted posters when he was being hunted?”  James asked and I shook my head.

 

“No, the Aurors thought that it was a waste of paper, since they had no intention of ever arresting him.  Fudge and his little Hit Squad were the only ones that would have actually done it,”  I explained between laughs, but the fun came to a close when I started coughing from exertion.

 

The children awoke and we went back into the park, I even rode two rides, a ferris wheel that was quite relaxing and an amazing view of the entire park, and an adult–sized Carousel, with little Edmund in my lap.  There was a roller coaster there, but the whole thing was shaped like a giant snake, and I had no desire to get on it at all.  

 

Sirius took the children onto the Splash Mountain ride, it looked like hollowed out logs that floated along on water, until you came to the end, and then it dipped down into a great ravine.  Sirius got off, soaking wet, his hair plastered to his head.  He wasn’t happy that he couldn’t use a drying charm to fix his hair, and I had to convince him that it would be fine, no one knew him except for the family, and they didn’t care what his hair looked like.

 

We took in a ridiculous show that somehow had ghosts, cowboys, Indians, dancing girls and a singing bear all together in it, and then ate dinner at the ‘Mexican’ place.  Sirius and I had both been to Mexico while I was an Auror, and I was sure that I’d never eaten anything like the food that was served at this place.  The kids enjoyed it however, and I knew that something called “Nachos” would be on the menu at our new home.  How am I ever going to explain to Kreacher how to make these?  I watched in awe as several of the adults rode the thrill rides that spun and twisted rapidly.  We again watched the fireworks from our private spaces, and that night as Sirius and I lay together in bed, I needed him in the worst way.  I snuggled myself against his bare chest, feeling his hands trail up and down my arms and body.

 

“Sirius, I need you,”  I whispered to him.

 

“Anwen, we can’t,”  he reminded me, not wanting to be strong either.

 

“I’ve been thinking about that.  Haf said that I couldn’t get too excited and exert myself, but, if we’re calm and gentle, and I don’t become too rambunctious I don’t see why we can’t.  I need you, I need to feel you, to be close to you.  I miss you so much it hurts,”  I told him and I knew that he was feeling the same way.

 

“Anwen,”  he sighed, “if you get too excited, if you start having problems, how the hell am I going to explain this?  Your Ma will kill me if she finds out that we’ve shagged.”

 

“I won’t get worked up, I promise.  I won’t tell my Ma either, although, we’ve been together for nineteen years and I’ve been pregnant, so she has to know that we’ve shagged by now,”  I teased him and he groaned at me.  “I need you,”  I whined again.  “Please, love me,”  I begged him, which he could never stand.  I knew that I’d won the battle when he brought his lips to mine and they began to move in their slow and delicious dance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Chapter 13: Chapter 12: Everything Old is New Again
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Chapter 12:

Everything Old Is New Again

 

Sirius POV:

 

I had apparated us to the edge of the grounds, where the town met the school property.  We could have flooed right into the school, as Remus, Lily, Ginny and Hermione would be doing with the children in a little while, but Anwen wanted to come this way, and there was no way that I would deny her this.  We stopped at the heavy wrought iron gates and stared at the building in the distance.

 

“You okay there, love?”  I asked her, unsure of what her reaction would be.

 

“We nearly died in there,”  she said quietly, clearly looking at the rebuilt owlery tower on the west side of the building.   I stood behind her and wrapped my arms around her waist, resting my chin on her shoulder.  

 

“Yes, that’s true.  But we didn’t; we are very much alive,”  I reminded her and she turned her head back to look at me, and she smiled warmly as she leaned back against me.

 

“I love you,”  she murmured.  Anwen took a deep breath and then pulled herself from me after a moment, and took my hand and we began our ascent to the castle.  She was wearing a crude non-magical prosthetic, but she was thrilled that she could move on her own again.  About two-thirds of the way up to the castle, she just couldn’t go any farther, so I knelt down and she climbed on my back, much like when we were students here.

 

“Everything old is new again,”  she muttered as we made our way into the castle, anxious to see our living quarters.  Minerva was just inside the front doors, smiling brightly as we entered.  She let us know that everything was in order, and that the house elves had been working to get the quarters ready, since they hadn’t been used in  a century.  When she released the ward on the door, Anwen and I stepped into the rooms and we were both in shock.

 

“Welcome to what used to be the Headmaster’s home,” Minerva said.  “It was created when your great-great grandfather was Headmaster here, since he had children.  We haven’t had a Head that brought their family with them since, so the quarters have remained empty.  When you both agreed to help me this year, I knew that this is where you should live.”

 

There was an expansive sitting room, complete with an upright piano on the far wall and two fireplaces, one with a map of commonly used floo locations above it, which led me to believe that it was the floo one. The room had comfortable furniture, and a large plush throw rug next to what looked like a toy box.  Next to it there was a large dining room with a giant table in it, clearly large enough for our family to eat together when we weren’t taking meals in the great hall. I could see two high chairs against the wall, and it let me know that Kreacher had already moved our things here.  A small kitchen was through a door on the far side of the dining room.

 

“There are two loos on this floor, one for general use and one off the bedroom on this floor.  You can choose to either let Patty stay here with you, and use that as her space, or we can assign her other living quarters.  I will leave that choice to you,”  she told us and I could see Anwen nodding.  “It would make a nice office for the two of you to deal with Ministry things in, also.”

 

A spiral wrought iron staircase was off to the side of the room, between the sitting room and the dining room, and we walked toward the steps up to the second floor.  I don’t understand it, but these rooms cover two floors.  Anwen looked at the stairs skeptically, but as soon as she stepped onto them, they began to rise on their own, spinning like a corkscrew up to the second floor.

 

“The stairs will only allow someone who has done magical training to operate them, and they’re warded so that the babies cannot get up and down on their own.  You can thank James and Bill for that little bit of spell casting,”  the Headmistress told us as we rode our way to the top floor.  Anwen smiled at that.

 

There were five bedrooms and three loos upstairs.  The first bedroom was clearly meant for Lilyan and Jamie as it was all in pink and purple.  Over the beds hung enchanted canopies of flowers with butterflies and ladybugs zooming in and out of the flower heads.  The next one was meant for the boys, and it looked like a train station, with their beds built into flat cars and a replica of the Hogwarts Express painted onto the wall.

 

The next room was smaller, and was painted as if it was a Quidditch pitch.  There was one single bed in the room and a small desk in the corner.  “I thought that since Ethan would be starting Muggle school in the fall, he could use his own room,”  Minerva told us, and she once again proved that she earned the moniker, Grandma Mimi.

 

The next room was also small, and in it were a changing table, Anwen’s rocker, which had survived because it was at Grimmauld at the time of the fire and a crib.  I was shocked when I looked at it, for it was an exact replica of the one that James and Remus had made us for Ethan.  Anwen walked over to it and ran her fingers over the engraving, and put her hand over her mouth.

 

“We have to thank them later,”  she said quietly and I nodded at her.  The rest of the room was done in a soft golden yellow, with a clouded sky for the ceiling.  Off the little room, clearly meant for Stella, we could see the Master bedroom.  In the center of it was a massive canopied bed, the bed linens in a rich, dark gold.  We walked in and were awe struck at the beauty and elegance of the room.

 

“This is...” I didn’t have words for it.

 

“...amazing,”  Anwen finished the sentence.  We thanked Minerva for her attention to details in making sure that this was the perfect home for our family.

 

The children arrived a short time later, and within an hour, the place looked like six small children lived there.  We had dinner for the last time at the Manor that night, with our whole Marauding family, Anwen choked on her words, trying to thank them all, but  her emotions were obviously overtaking her.  That night we lay in bed, reveling in how quiet it was when we weren’t surrounded by other families.  It was nice to make love to my wife and know that there was no chance of anyone walking in, except our own children.

 

We lived in the castle with the rest of the teaching staff for six days before the students were to arrive.  Anwen had seen her healer and doctor again, and while he was pleased with the progress that she was making, it was decided that she needed another two weeks before they would let her do any magic.  At least she was allowed to engage in “limited physical activity.”   I wasn’t going to tell them that she already had been for about a week, at least this way, she wouldn’t be going against doctor’s orders.

 

When the students arrived, we were seated at the head table, as staff were required to do.  Because there was so much that needed to happen before we would partake in the meal, the children remained behind in our quarters with Patty.  Anwen commented upon seeing the disappointed looks on Ginny and Hermione’s faces.  

 

Tonks had sent me a patronus, letting me know that Bastien had indeed made the train, and that Harry and Ron were insistent that he sit with them.  I was thankful for their attempting to make friends with my son, even if he wasn’t reciprocating the gesture.  We made eye contact as he filed in with the first years, looming over them and clearly feeling awkward at standing with all of the young students.  I reached over and took Anwen’s hand, remembering how taken I was with her when it was she that was such a tiny first year.

 

We watched as the students were sorted.  Whispers echoed through the hall when my sons name was read, and Anwen squeezed my hand while still smiling warmly at the boy.  I had silently hoped that he would be sorted into Gryffindor; and prayed that he would not be put in Slytherin.  Neither came to pass, he was sorted into Ravenclaw.  I think that might be a first in the family.  I tried not to let my disappointment show, but it must have for my wife leaned over and whispered in my ear:  “It just goes to show how smart he is, love.  Please be proud of that for him.”  I nodded at her, and smiled at my son.

 

Minerva spoke to the students, explaining that they would not be starting classes until next week, but that there would be time for them to meet in the Great Hall if any of them needed to discuss the events of last spring.

 

The last thing that would happen before we were to tuck in for dinner, was the announcement of the staff.  When Anwen and I were introduced as the new Defense professors, the room erupted in cheering, and many of the students were on their feet.  I watched as the blush spread across my wife’s face and I put a protective hand on her back, feeling just how overwhelmed she was at the response.

 

After the meal, I retired to our quarters to check on the children and relieve Patty of her duties, while Anwen went to the Gryffindor common room to introduce herself, welcome the new students and generally let them know where to find us.  She came back and announced that Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione would be by in the morning, claiming that they’d missed us.  So much for our privacy.

 

Anwen POV:

 

“Well, love, I’m off, well, I’m down the hall,”  I told Sirius, who was preparing for his first class, third years, who were starting off with Grindylows.  I had gone to the Lake and asked one of the merpeople to fetch one for me, which they did happily.    He stopped the notes that he was scribing to the board with his wand, and turned and wrapped his arms around me.

 

“Good luck today, although you won’t need it.  You’re an amazing teacher and your OWL and NEWT students will pass with flying colors,”  he said, gently kissing both of my cheeks and lips.

 

“Good luck to you as well,”  I told him.  Today was the official start to the Hogwarts school year, even though the students had been back for the better part of a week.  We’d been in the castle for almost two weeks, and our family had not only settled into our quarters here well, but we’d also found that Patty was a wonderful help and addition to our lives.   “You’re going to be done in time to go and get Ethan, correct?”  I asked him.  We were alternating days that we  would drop off and pick up our young son from his Primary School in Portree, the same one that Evan Potter attended.  Sirius went alone, I had to take Patty with me.

 

“I’ve only got one period of third years today, so I will be at the gate of his school to meet our son on time, maybe even early,” he said to me and I shook my head at him.

 

“Sirius, if I get on time from you, I’m excited.  All right, here goes,”  I said, my feet still not moving.  “Please explain to me how I was never afraid of the Death Eaters or Voldemort, but a room full of teenagers has me paralyzed with fear?”

 

“Because, my love, several of those teens you've been training for years, and you want to do the best job that you can,”  he reminded me and I nodded my head at him.  “I’ll keep myself completely open to you, and if you need me, please just let me know,”  he promised and I nodded again.  I pulled his lips to mine and kissed him deeply.

 

“Have I told you today that I love you?”  I asked him in a slightly dreamy voice, our foreheads touching.

 

“You have,” he responded the way that I always did, “but I never tire of hearing it.”

 

“I’ll see you at dinner,”  I told him and I hobbled on the crutches and walked slowly on my completely non-magical prosthetic down the hall.  Two more weeks, just two more weeks repeated over and over in my head as I tottered along.  Our classrooms were only two rooms apart, but you would have thought that they were in different castles.  Sirius was in what was considered the Defense classroom and offices, the same one that Remus had used  five years ago.  It doesn’t seem that long ago.  I was in an unused classroom, a bit of irony in that it was the first empty classroom that Sirius and I had broken into on our night wanderings in the castle all those years ago.  I had completely restructured the space, with the help of Sirius and Minerva.  There was an area that was covered in mats and pillows for dueling and another area that contained books for research; many of them from my personal library.  I had the room repainted in a cheery yellow with high, bright windows that were enchanted so that it always looked sunny.  Normally, the owlery would be visible from this side of the castle, I had made sure that it wasn’t.  Finally, the room had stairs that led to the loft area of the room.  Not visible when you were below, the loft could be changed to fit different real life terrains where one might need to defend oneself.  Right now, the space looked like the first floor of a small house.  When it was in use, what was going on in the loft area would be projected down onto three large screens, so that the students could see what was happening.  The desks and chairs were in the middle of the lower level.  I had a large table in one corner that would suffice as a desk and work space.

 

I was greeted at the door by four smiling faces, all of whom were in my class, at least for the time being.  I couldn’t help but smile back at them.

 

“Are you trying to get on your professors good side?”  I asked them.  “Flattery will get you nowhere.”

 

“No, we know you too well, but these will,”  Harry said, and they each whipped a present out from behind their backs.  Harry held an ever–blooming daffodil, Ginny had a large box from Honeydukes, Ron held a large glass of iced tea and Hermione held a defense book that appeared to be written in Latin.  I can’t wait to find out where she got that.

 

“How well the four of you know me,”  I said, indicating that they should put the things over on my table.  “So, how were your morning classes?”

 

“We all had double Potions, it was pretty good.  Professor Slughorn was teaching about the Wolfsbane Potion, we kind of zoned out,”  Ginny said.

 

“Yes, well, most people have never seen a werewolf, let alone seen the potion brewed.  The four of you are at quite an advantage there.  I assume that you all brewed it correctly?”  I asked them and Ron and Harry started to snicker.

 

“Well, we were doing fine, until Hermione decided that she needed to point out that Professor Slughorn was using the old version of it, not the one that Mrs. Potter and Professor Lupin had developed with Mr. duChamp.  Things were great until she had to open her mouth, now we have an essay about the differences in the two versions and why the second one is preferred,”  Ron said with a grumble.  I had to stifle a chuckle at them.

 

“You’d better do well at that one, or your mother will have your hide,”  I told Harry, and Ron began to laugh at him.  “Don’t think that Lily won’t be upset at you if you botch the essay as well there Ron,” I reminded him and he looked at Harry in a rather put out way.

 

“I don’t know that I’m going to be happy having your family here in the castle, Harry.”

 

“Well, I’m glad that they’re here,” Harry said smiling at me.  “Can I come over tonight and see the boys?  I promised them that I would take them out for a fly.”

 

“Of course, why don’t you come right after dinner,”  I suggested.  I could see Ginny opening her mouth to say something and looked at her and nodded my head, “you can come too.  Our door is always open, to all of you, you know that,”  I confirmed and the girls seemed genuinely happy about it.  “Have you seen much of Bastien?”

 

“He was in Potions with us this morning, he didn’t understand why we knew so much about werewolves, but I didn’t think it was my place to explain about Remus and Stella,”  Hermione explained.  “With him being in Ravenclaw we haven’t really had much opportunity to see him, other than mealtimes and such,” she continued and they all nodded. 

 

“For me, if you run into him socially, be kind to him, he’s having a hard time adjusting,”  I  asked, and they consented to do so.  “I can’t imagine starting a new school, just to do your seventh year.”

 

“We’ll be nice Aunt Winnie, except on the Quidditch Pitch, there, well, we’ve gotta win,”  Ginny said brightly and I smiled at her.  

 

“Spoken like a true captain.  How did our team look?”

 

“They’re good, except the Seeker, don’t know what I’m going to do with him,”  she said as she reached over and ruffled Harry’s hair.

 

“You’re going to snog me until you can’t breathe,”  he replied, picking her up and kissing her deeply.

 

“Okay you two, none of that in my classroom,”  I reminded them, and Harry put Ginny down.  “Is Bastien playing for his house team?”

 

“He is, and Luna says that everyone was talking about how good a Beater he was in their common room.  Still won’t be able to throw anything at me,”  she said confidently.

 

“That would be his father in him,”  I sighed quietly, hoping that Sirius would still be excited if our children got his flying prowess.  I shook myself free of the melancholy that often floated over me when I thought of Sirius’ son and looked at Harry.

 

“Are you ready to help me today, teacher’s assistant?”

 

“I am, just let me know when,”  he replied, and then he pulled his Invisibility Cloak out and handed it to me.

 

“Just follow the lesson plan, this should be fun.  All right you four, go stand by the door and turn your backs to the classroom, I don’t want you knowing what comes next,”  I said and they did as they were told.  I shuttered the windows, so that the room was much darker, and made sure that the candles were all lit.  When I was sure that they couldn’t see me, I covered myself in James’ cloak and went and sat on the stairs that led to the loft.

 

After about a minute, Harry turned around and couldn’t find me, and he suggested that they find seats.  I watched as the students filed in and was happy to see Bastien walk in with two other Ravenclaws, Luna Lovegood and Michael Corner; of course, given the history between Michael, Harry and Ginny, the boys sat on the opposite side of the room, Luna went and sat next to Ginny.  There were to be twenty three students in all in my class, larger than most NEWT level classes, but since we really had two years taking the class at once, I knew that it would be expected.  I was pleased to see the number of Gryffindor students who had progressed to NEWT level, and knew that I had a very smart house to help nurture.  When they were all in and seated, I sat patiently, letting them start chatting and getting comfortable.  When it appeared that they had forgotten where they were and why they were there, I reached my hand into my pocket and threw the Brazilian Cloud Dust into the air and watched as the room was instantly taken over by a thick mist.  This stuff is so much better than the Peruvian Darkness stuff, doesn’t leave that thick, chalky residue.  I need to thank my Brazilian Auror friend Gabriel for this.  The students began panicking, and talking loudly, so  I whipped off the invisibility cloak and reached over and opened the shutters.  The sunlight streamed into the room, immediately dissipating the artificial cloud, and the rest of the class was treated to Harry and me, standing at the front of the room, him holding many of their wands.  

 

“All right, who still has their wand?”  I asked, and of course, Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione raised their hands; as did Luna, Susan Bones and Bastien, which pleased me to no end.  “Ten points for each of you.  How exactly did you keep hold of your wands?”  I asked and Hermione raised her hand.

 

“Yes, Miss Granger.”

 

“It was holstered, Professor Hodgson-Black,”  she said, proud that she’d remembered not to call me Aunt Winnie or simply Anwen.

 

“Were you all holstered?”  I asked and the rest of the students nodded. “Very good.  Lesson number one, you cannot defend yourself if you don’t have your wand to do defensive spells.  The wand holster is a standard part of the Auror uniform, as well as anyone who works outside of the offices in the Magical Law Enforcement Department.  They’re inexpensive, and can be picked up either through owl order or when you’re in Hogsmeade.  If you have questions, please feel free to speak with either Professor Black or myself, and we can help you get one.  I expect all of you to have one by the middle of October.  Mr. Potter, would you please return their wands?”  I asked, and I watched as he floated them in midair, and sent them back to their respective owners.  “Show off,”  I muttered under my breath.

 

“Thank you, Mr. Potter,”  I said and Harry gave me a smirk that reminded me of his godfather’s and went back to his seat.  “I am Anwen Hodgson-Black, and I’ll be your professor for this year.  Let me tell you a little about myself.  I graduated from Hogwarts too many years ago to mention.  I was Muggle–born, and didn’t know about the Magical world until Professor Dumbledore came to see me on my eleventh birthday.  I was an Auror, then a Senior Auror, then a Department Head in the Auror Department, in charge of the Financial Crimes Division with the man who is now the Minister of Magic.  I have taught at the Auror school, and then went into a career in the law, being the Legal Advisor to the Chief of the Wizengamot and the Head of the Magical Law Enforcement Department.  I am currently the Senior Undersecretary for Legal Affairs, which is why my husband and I are splitting the Defense Against the Dark Arts Teaching position, and all of your classes are in the afternoon.

 

“In addition to your usual defense class,”  I continued, “you will each be taking a single lesson in dueling with Professor Black and me, weekly.  We’ll be teaching you real life dueling skills, as well as ways to better defend yourself creatively.  Finally, all students are going to be required to study Elemental magic,”  I told them, and I heard several students groan.  “Someone want to tell me what the problem is?”  I looked around for a hand that went up.  I wasn’t surprised that it was Michael Corner.  “Mr. Corner?”

 

“Why do we have to learn magic that they teach to little kids?”  he sort of whined and I wondered in my head what Ginny ever saw in him.

 

“How many of you have mastery in at least one elemental?”  I asked, and the only students who raised their hands were Luna and Bastien.  “Miss Lovegood, what are you Mastered in?”

 

“Air.  My mother insisted on teaching me when I was little.  I can also manipulate the other three, but I haven’t mastered yet.”  

 

“Very good.  Five points to Ravenclaw.  Mr. Black, how about you?”

 

“Fire.  My mother was a Fire Master, as was my aunt,”  he said, getting quiet as the sentence went on.   I figured that he was talking about Bella, and remembering the night  at Fair Garden.  

 

“Thank you Mr. Black, another five points to Ravenclaw.  Now, our two Masters can choose to test out of the class, or they can choose to work on another Mastery; but for the rest of you, the class will be mandatory.”  There were more groans.  “Let me explain why I want you all to learn this.  If you are ever in a situation in which you have lost your wand, your ability to manipulate an element may mean the difference between your being killed and your getting yourself out of a situation.  Summon up a fog, bring a sudden dust storm to be, throw a large rock or make a fire line between you and the person trying to curse you.  It could be enough to apparate away safely.  We won’t be starting for a few more weeks, but I think that you understand the idea now.”

 

The room quieted down, and I nodded to Harry that I was going to start the next part of the lesson.  I had already talked with him and Ron about it, so they were prepared.  “One final area of study that we will be working on this year is something I affectionately call ‘creative spell casting’.  It basically means that we’ll be using spells that you already know and are comfortable with in a way that you might not have thought to use them before.  Someone give me a spell that you don’t think can be used as a common defensive spell?”  I asked, and I saw Meghan Jones raise her hand for the first time.  I was happy to see it.

 

“Miss Jones?”

 

“Could you use a Cushioning spell defensively?”  she asked timidly, and I smiled at her.

 

“You can, ten points to Hufflepuff.  You would usually choose a Cushioning spell to make a surface more comfortable to sit on, or to break someone’s fall from a great height; but it can be used defensively.  Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley, could you please come up and demonstrate?”  I asked and the two rose.  Harry and I had worked on this for years, so I knew that he’d do fine having to defend himself against his friend.

 

“Mr. Weasley is going to attack Mr. Potter, and Mr. Potter can only use a Cushioning Charm to defend himself.  You may not use full strength curses or hexes, half strength only and nothing that is banned by the new Ministry edicts.”  I reminded the boys, and they both nodded.  

 

The class watched as Ron and Harry began dueling, and they laughed as Harry would place the specified charm up in front of him, and cause Ron’s hexes to bounce back toward him.  He was having to jump to miss the rebounds and subsequently forgot to fire at Harry.  Harry remained calm and confident as he began to manipulate his own charm. I could see that Harry was making the charm larger, and eventually he pushed Ron down to the floor, and laid the charm on top of him.  Ron was flailing around, unable to really move his body, just his arms and legs, as if something heavy was squashing him.  I was quite proud of Harry, he'd seen me do the same thing the summer after his first year.

 

“Thank you Mr. Potter, you may release Mr. Weasley,”  I said, starting to clap for them.  “Now, this was prearranged, as Mr. Potter has been tutored by Professor Black and me in defense for years, and I knew that he could handle himself, but as you can see, if you are willing to think creatively, you have another tool at your disposal to get yourself out of a tight spot.  For your next class I’d like 12 inches of parchment on any other Charm that you think you could use creatively, and how it would be beneficial.  Be creative, just make sure you can explain how you would do it.  There aren't any wrong answers and if you have any questions, please feel free to come and see me.  Okay, let’s get down to some practical work.  I want each of you to pair up and work on disarming each other, just to see where you all are.  Then we’ll move on to some other defensive spells.  My goal here is to see where everyone is, you’re not being graded on your abilities.”

 

I watched as the students paired off, and was both pleased and surprised when Harry went over and asked to partner with Bastien, leaving Ginny with Luna and Ron and Hermione together.  We went through disarming, personal shield charms as well as shielding another person, and Patronus Charms.  I was pleased that most of the class could produce a mist; and I had several students that could make corporeal forms.  When we had only a few minutes left to class, I had everyone take their seats again.

 

“That was excellent work, and I must thank the person that taught all of you so well,”  I said with a wink to my honorary godson, for I knew that it was his work with the DA that had made them so proficient, not really any of their teachers.  “I know that some of you have questions for me, if you’d like to ask me anything, now would be the time.”

 

I fielded questions about my specific magical skills, and the fact that I was a projecting visualist.  I told them a little about what had happened and what I had done on the night of the battle here at Hogwarts.  I explained that I had indeed lost my leg, and that for the time being, we were using Muggle medicine to treat me, as my magic was still unstable. I can’t help but think that I might not actually ever be magical again.  The only way I can keep from exploding magic is to not use any at all.

 

“Professor Hodgson-Black, I saw your family in the Great Hall,”  Hannah Abbott said.  “That little table they sit at is so cute.  How many children do you have?”

 

“My husband and I have seven, starting with the youngest, we have Stella, who we’re in the process of adopting, she is seven months old.  The next oldest is Edmund, who had his first birthday in July.  The twins, John and Jamie were three in June.  Lilyan turned four in February and Ethan is five and is in his Reception class in the Muggle Primary School  in Portree, we take him and bring him home each day.  And lastly, there is Bastien,” I said, indicating the young man sitting in the room with us.  “We have no intentions to have any more children, but, who knows with the two of us, children keep finding their way into our family.”

 

There were a few more questions, but soon the period was over.  As I dismissed the students, I noticed that I had five remain in my classroom.  The only one that surprised me was Bastien.  I made eye contact with Harry, and he seemed to understand and whispered to his friends that they should be going.

 

“We’ll see you after dinner, Aunt Winnie,” Harry yelled, cringing at his slip.  “Sorry, Professor Hodgson-Black.”  With that the four youngsters left the room, leaving me alone with Sirius’ son.

 

“I really should put out a jar and make them give me a sickle every time one of them forgets that they have to call me Professor,”  I mused and then looked at Bastien.  “What can I do for you?”

 

“I...I...” he started and then looked at the floor.  “I wanted to thank you.  You didn’t have to include me in your family.”

 

I put my hand on the young man’s shoulder, “You are a part of our family.  Your father is the love of my life, and he is a part of who you are.  You are always welcome with us, please know that.”

 

“Thank you,”  he said quietly.  “I also wanted to talk with you.  I did very well in Defense at Beauxbatons, but, today, they were doing things that I haven’t ever done,” his tone still hushed.  I had noticed that he couldn’t produce a Patronus shield, never mind a full form.  Harry had taken it upon himself to help tutor Bastien.  “I’m concerned that I’ll be behind.”

 

“I appreciate your concern, but you have to understand; these students know how to do those charms, not because of anything that was part of their curriculum, or even because of a Professor.  They were all taught by Harry, as part of a secret club.  He was worried that they’d need to defend themselves during the war.  The most that anyone would ever expect of you for the NEWT is to do a shield.  If it would make you feel better, we can sit down and go over what might be covered on the test.”

 

Bastien smiled at me, and I immediately recognized it as my husband’s cockeyed smile.  “That would be great.  Thank you, Professor.”

 

“Please, when we’re alone, call me Anwen,”  I told him, putting a hand on his shoulder.  “I know you had Potions this morning, how did it go?”  Bastien sighed again.

 

“It was alright, but Harry and his friends knew how to do that Potion, and I've never even seen it done it before,”  he told me and I smiled at him

 

“They know how to do it, because they've seen it brewed for most of their lives.  Harry's mother and his Uncle Remus work with children who were infected with the werewolf illness.  Believe me, if they didn't know how to brew it, there would be problems,”  I explained and then I took a moment to think about what else I should say here.  “Bastien, there’s something else you should know, little Stella is a werewolf as well.  She was bit when she was about three months old and then left at hospital after her first change.  Sirius and I are adopting her because no one else would have known how to take care of her.”

 

“Really?”  he asked and I nodded.  “That's...” he stopped and sighed.  “You're not what I was told, at all.”

 

“I don't doubt that.  Would you like to come and see the children?  John is quite taken with you, and we could go over what will be on the exam, to see where you might need further tutoring.  I know that Harry would be more than willing to help,”  I explained and he nodded yes.  We walked to the family quarters and Bastien was kind enough to offer me his arm as we climbed the few stairs to get to the door.  We were greeted by a cacophony of welcomes and hugs as we entered.  Sirius had already returned with Ethan from school, and he was proud to show me his paper where he had written his name, all by himself.

 

“Ethan, that is wonderful. You are a very smart little boy.  Five points to the boys house for your excellent penmanship,”  I told him and my oldest son burst with pride, running to hang his work on the board that we kept in the sitting room to hold the children's pictures and Ethan's school work.

 

“The boys house?”  Bastien asked me as we sat down on the overstuffed sofa by the fireplace and Sirius brought my footstool up for me to rest my leg upon, then leaned down to kiss me.  He put his hand on his sons shoulder and gave it a squeeze.

 

“They were so taken with the idea of house points and getting them, that we made a girls house and a boys house, and they earn points from their Mummy and me, Patty and even Grandma Mimi,”  Sirius explained.

 

“Grandma Mimi?”  Bastien asked.

 

“The Headmistress, the children get to call her Grandma Mimi when we're alone with her,”  I explained and Bastien nodded, but still looked perplexed.

 

I went over the usual areas of the exam with him, and there were only a few things that he didn't know, so I told him that we could arrange an extra lesson with his father, or I could talk with Harry about it.  He seemed to like the idea of working with Sirius, and I was happy that they'd have some alone time with each other.  Stella awoke from her afternoon nap and Sirius brought me her and her afternoon bottle and I sat her on my lap as she drank it down.  Bastien seemed a little wary of her.

 

“You can't be infected by her when she isn't changed, it's only her blood and saliva, and only when she's in her wolf form.  Even then, she really isn't harmful, a little playful, but not dangerous,”  I told him and the boy just looked confused.  

 

“When she's changed, I'm with her.” Sirius explained.

 

“How?  Aren't you afraid of her?”  he asked

 

“Nope, Bastien, I'm an Animagus, I become a big black dog and I'm completely safe around her,”  Sirius explained, and then turned into his dog form and then back quickly.  “She's just tiring when she's changed over; very rambunctious.”

 

“Wow.  Mama didn't know that about you, she always said you weren't very good in school,”  Bastien explained and Sirius just nodded his head.

 

“I didn't really apply myself to my studies,” he told the boy, sounding rather embarrassed.  “So tell me, how did class go?”

 

“Potions was good, Professor Slughorn was...informative, but strange.  Invited me to a dinner party on Saturday with Harry and his girlfriend and their other friends, but, no one seemed excited to go.  Defense was great, Professor Hodgson-Black is awesome.  The things she told us and had us doing spell work already.  She's better than my professors at Beauxbatons.”

 

“I've always thought that about her,”  Sirius gushed, gently rubbing my leg and I knew I was blushing.

 

“Please, call me Anwen when we're here.  How was your day?”  I asked Sirius, hoping to change the subject.

 

“Pretty good, clearly these kids didn't learn much last year, but I should be able to get them caught up.  Had a problem with three of my Slytherin girls, ”  he told me and I looked at him wanting more information.  

 

“Were the thirteen year olds making eyes at you again?”  I asked, knowing that several girls from all the houses got dreamy looks on their faces when my husband walked by.

 

“Nope,” he told me, shaking his head,  “they told me that I wasn't as cute as Snape,”  he murmured, and I couldn't help but laugh at him.

 

“Which ones?”  I asked through my giggles.

 

“Sophie, Christina and Brittany, I don't remember their last names.  I'll point them out at dinner,”  he told me, and I was still laughing.  Of all of the people to be told he wasn't as good looking as, that will cut the deepest with my dear husband.  I would need to make it up to him later; but after I told Harry and Ginny.  Let them take the mickey out of him a little.

 

“Speaking of dinner, we should be heading over.  Would you go and get the children, love?”

 

“Hey kids,”  Sirius yelled, “supper.”

 

“I could have bellowed dear,”  I told him, shaking my head at him.  Sirius just grinned and me, and Bastien laughed at him.  He felt like he belonged here, which made me so very happy. 


Chapter 14: Chapter 13: Family
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Chapter 13:

Family

 

 

Anwen POV:

 

 

“I'm headed to my office now,” I told Sirius as I walked over to the dining room table, where he had spread out his students’ essays and was grading them.  This is how we spend our evenings now, grading essays.  Who would have thought it?

 

“You sure that you don't want me to come with you?”  he asked me, and I shook my head at him.

 

“I'm the Head of House, it's my responsibility.  How are your essays going?”

 

“Honestly, I think that they all just copied the text directly from the book.  Remind me the next time that I assign an essay to my first years, that I make then have to answer a question, rather than just give me information.  This is so very boring,”  he complained and I smiled at him.

 

“I shouldn't be long, love.  I'll help you when I get back.  We can swap years, my essays are generally more interesting to read,”  I explained and leaned down to kiss him goodbye.  “Have I told you today that I love you?”

 

“You have, but I never tire of hearing it,” he responded, which earned him another kiss.

 

I got up and left our quarters and our slumbering children and went to my office.  It was Tuesday night, and I needed to discuss some rather unfortunate behavior with four of my students.  It didn't really matter to me that they had beaten Slytherin on Saturday.  They're lucky that they're getting off as easy as they are.  I walked into my office, and lit some candles to keep the room from looking quite so dim.  I was seeing my Healer tomorrow, and I was hopeful that I would be allowed to finally use some magic, it had been nearly three months, and I was still restricted on my magical usage.  I sat down on the chair at the end of the table that I worked at and sighed, rubbing the flesh between my eyes.  A knock at the door roused me from my meditation.

 

“Come in,”  I told the quartet and they happily entered the room; Harry and Ginny holding hands, Ron and Hermione arm in arm.  “Why don't you all sit down.”  They slid into the desks and looked at me.

 

“So, we trounced Slytherin Saturday.  How does our Head feel about that?”  Ginny asked, her bright eyes shining.

 

“The team played well,”  I told her, “and I'm always happy when we beat Slytherin, but that's not why I've called the four of you here tonight.”

 

“Do you need help with your classes?”  Hermione asked.  “I really enjoy doing the tutoring with your fifth years,”  she explained but I shook my head at her.

 

“No, you've all got your assignments for this week.  This has to do with an incident last night,”  I told them, and they all looked at me confused.  “Sirius and I did bed checks at 2:30 this morning.”  I watched as all of their smiles faded and Hermione even slumped into her chair.  “Imagine my shock when none of you were in your beds.  Anyone want to tell me anything?”

 

“We were out,”  Harry said, sounding almost like a question, rather than a statement.  He raked his hand through his hair, and it stood up at an even odder angle than before.

 

“Where?”  I asked and he hesitated.  “I know that you weren't on the grounds.”

 

“How do you bloody know that?”  Ron asked, getting incensed.

 

“Is that really the tone of voice you want to take with me?  I'm married to the man who charmed the original Marauder's Map.  We made a new one, let's just say it's an improvement over the one that Harry has.  I know where you were, anyone want to start explaining?”  The quartet wouldn't make eye contact with me, and they had separated from each other.  It was finally Ginny who looked up at me and started to speak.

 

“We went to Grimmauld last night,”  she told me and I exhaled.

 

“What was so important that you had to break about a hundred school rules?”  I asked them.

 

“We wanted to be alone,”  Ginny said with that look on her face.  I shook my head at her and kneaded the bridge of my nose again.

 

“Let me get this straight,”  I said, clenching my fists together.  “You left the castle, after curfew, without telling anyone, so that you could shag?”  I cocked up my eyebrow and pointedly looked at each of them.  This time, no one made any eye contact with me.  “I'll take that as a yes.  As of right now, you are all in detention with Professor Black and me for a week, and the three of you are banned from Quidditch for a month.  Miss Granger, you're banned from the restricted section of the library for the same duration.  Additionally, you have each cost your house 100 points, which will put Gryffindor in fourth place.  Congratulations you four, the first real punishment I have to give out, I had to do against my House, and worse, against my own family.”  The minute I stopped speaking, the four of them started in at the same time.

 

“How am I supposed to do my revisions if I can't go to the library?”

 

“You can't ban me from Quidditch, I'm the captain!  How will the team practice?”

 

“I have to serve detention with Uncle Sirius?  You can't be serious, how bad can that be?”

 

“Aunt Winnie, we're of age.  I went to my own house!  I can't believe how unfair you're being!”

 

“Quiet, all of you!”  I firmly commanded and they were quiet.  “I can and will do all of these things, and if I hear another word out of your mouths about your punishment, there will be more.  I am your professor and Head of House, and you will treat me as such.  Yes,”  I turned and looked at Harry, “you're of age; but you are not allowed to leave school grounds on a weeknight and you may never leave without letting us know where you are.  The school is still responsible for you.”

 

“But last year, you figured out ways that Harry and I could be with each other,”  Ginny whined, and I nodded at her.

 

“What I can facilitate as your Aunt is very different from what I can tolerate as your professor.  The four of you are given a great deal more leniency and freedom than most students would ever enjoy; but you can't be seen openly breaking the rules.  You're Head Boy and Girl,”  I told them, looking from Harry to Hermione.  “You're supposed to set the examples for every other student.  Additionally, Harry, they're going to look up to you,”  I told him and he was about to protest, “I know that you don't want to be a hero, but you are.  You're lucky that you're getting off as easily as you are.  The Headmistress wanted to strip all of you of your positions, but she agreed to let me handle this.”  I explained, thinking that Minerva's reluctance to usurp my authority was based on her experiences with Umbridge three years ago.

 

“I can't believe that I have a week’s worth of detention,”  Hermione moaned, and I smiled at her, understanding her feelings toward this.

 

“Listen to me, if this happens again, the punishment will be much more severe.  There are places that you can be alone within the walls of the castle; on weeknights don't leave the building.  Do I make myself clear?”  I asked and they all nodded.

 

“Good.  Please be in Professor Black’s classroom tomorrow at 7:30 sharp to help him get the Pixies and Doxys ready for his class on Thursday.  I'd wear your gloves if I were you, Doxy bites can be rather nasty.  That will be all, you may go back to your dorms.”  They got up and left and I soon followed suit, returning to our quarters not really any happier than when I'd left an hour ago.

 

Remus POV:

 

I watched as she bounded out of the Healer's office.  I could swear that she was skipping, except that the prosthetic leg wasn't quite that flexible.  There was an effervescence that wasn't with her since the war ended, and it was refreshing to see.  This is the Winnie that I lived with for all of those years.  We made it to the lifts and when we stepped inside, the car was empty.  It would have been a quiet ride down, except that Winnie was humming a hymn that I recognized from going to church with my Mum as a child.

 

“What does your schedule look like for the rest of the day?”  I asked.

 

“I am free until we're to eat dinner with the Potters.  They're coming up to have supper, which Kreacher is making.  I cleared my schedule at the Ministry this morning, and I have my elemental students split up into groups and working with James and Minerva this afternoon.  I made sure that I was clear, not knowing how this visit would go.  Lily is picking up Ethan when she gets Evan at school too.”

 

“May I take you to lunch then?  I don't need to be into my office for a few more hours,”  I told her and she smiled at me.

 

“I love the way “my office” sounds coming from your lips,” she beamed at me.  I didn't doubt that anyone was as happy for me when I was hired by the Ministry as Anwen was.  “I would love to have lunch with you.  I know that I should let Sirius know, but I really want to see his face when he learns that I'm finally able to do magic again,” she beamed.

 

We made our way to the apparition point within St. Mungo's, and decided that a trip into Hogsmeade would draw less attention than one onto Diagon Alley.  “I will meet you there.”  Anwen told me, clearly pleased that she was able to get herself to our location, without assistance.

 

I apparated first, and a moment later, Anwen met me near Hogsmeade station, with a visible spring in her step as she walked.   I don't remember seeing her this happy and healthy in a very, very long time.  Maybe not since the whole veil thing. She chatted brightly as we made our way to the Three Broomsticks and went inside.  It was a weekday, at noontime, on a rather blustery day, there were few people in the establishment and Rosemerta came over and talked with us as we decided what we wanted to eat.  

 

“I'm not even going to ask if you're pleased, you are positively oozing happiness right now,”  I told her and she smiled one of those teeth baring, face engulfing, nearly losing her eyes from the rise of her cheeks smiles that could charm a wild hippogriff into submission with it's brilliance.

 

“I am,” she told me, and then her face fell a little.  “I was getting so discouraged, Remus.  It had been nearly six months since I'd done any real magic.  I was honestly trying to figure out what I was going to do, if I never got to do magic again,” she confessed, and I could see the deep concern that was in her eyes.  “I felt so helpless, my body was waging war with me, and there wasn't anything that I could do about it.”

 

“I could tell, Winnie.  You hid it well from most people, but I could tell how sad you were,”  I told her and she took my hand.

 

“Thank God I don't ever try to lie to you, it wouldn't work out well,” she confessed, while rolling her eyes.  “There were times, when I was all alone, and I didn't have to pretend, even for Sirius...”she started, and then looked down, “...I was beginning to wonder if it was worth it.  If this sacrifice was worth what I was being asked to give up.  I know, that's not right of me, and I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to pick and choose who to shield and who to let go, but...does that make me a bad person?” she asked, looking up at me for assurance.

 

“Anwen,”  I took her hands in mine, “it doesn't make you a bad person that you had doubts, it makes you human.  But it worked out for the best, didn't it?”

 

“Yes it did.”

 

“That's why you brought me along, instead of Sirius or Lily?”  I asked her and she nodded.

 

“You would have let me rage and be upset without trying to console me or even judge me,” she confided, and I was thankful that she trusted our friendship so.  Our meals came, and I was delighted to see Anwen eating.  She'd again lost a fair amount of weight while she was sick, and she'd been putting it back on. In fact, I think with the physical therapy that she's had to undergo with the Muggle prosthetic, she might be in better physical condition than I'd seen her in years.  Her arms had very clearly defined muscles and her left leg was very obviously strong.

 

“So, tell me about your work.  King, Minister, oh bugger I swear I won't ever get that right, anyway, he was thrilled when you said yes,”  Anwen said as we ate and I grinned at her inability to call the Minister by his title.  I think if you've lain in the mud with someone for days on end, you've earned the right to call them whatever you want.

 

“You know about the legislation that we're working on getting passed?”  I asked and she nodded.

 

“Yes, several bits of it have passed over my desk,”  she told me and I looked at her, surprised.  “Just to make sure that we weren't going to need to change additional laws to see it's passage.  I'm not checking your work.”

 

“Oh, well, I suppose that it makes sense then.  We've already been given the go ahead on dismantling the Werewolf Capture Team.  If there are any others out there biting people, the Aurors will deal with it,”  I told her, wording it so that she knew that I was still quite frustrated at the freedom of Greyback.

 

“And how are the support services?”  she queried, clearly trying to change the subject.

 

“We've had a ten–fold increase in what we're able to do for families.  The care that's given to newly infected children, or adults as the case may be; it's based on what Lily and I have been doing for years.  After that, we're setting up mentoring programs, so that as soon as the employment ban is lifted by the Wizengamot, we can help people get back to work.  Fred and George have offered to give several people jobs at their store already, as have several other establishments.  There are a few departments that have stepped forward as well; including the Minister’s, but I’m sure that you knew that.”  I explained and she smiled at me.

 

“That's wonderful, Remus.  James put the debate on the calendar for the Council on Monday of next week, which means that the Wizengamot should be able to debate and vote by the following Friday,”  she explained.

 

“That quickly,”  I sighed, knowing that the bill had a fair amount of work still needed to be done on it.  “I know that you're busy, but would you look at the whole proposal, once it's done, not just the law related parts?  I just want to make sure that we've crossed the t's and dotted the i's.”

 

“Of course I will, you don't even have to ask.  Now, did you have any luck getting the apothecaries to reduce the prices on the potion?”  Anwen asked, knowing that one of the drawbacks of Wolfsbane was the expense.   Most of those who were infected had to have it brewed for them, rather than doing it themselves.  The cost could be quite prohibitive.

 

“I couldn't get them to agree, so I went to King to talk about the Ministry supplementing the cost, maybe paying half, so that it was affordable.  King seemed to like the idea, but there isn't the money right now; the reconstruction from the war has depleted the Ministry coffers.”

 

“Damn, it would really have helped if we had been able to say that the expense of the Wolfsbane would no longer have been an issue,”  she said, and I smiled at her use of 'we', because I could tell that Anwen was going to take the passage of this law personally.

 

“Wait, I haven't told you the strange part yet.  Not two days after the Minister and I had this conversation, a huge financial gift was given to the Ministry, stating that it should be used to help those who had been affected by the war, specifically, those living with long term infections.  The letter was meticulously worded, so that it was clear that it should be used to help those with Werewolf infections, without coming out and saying it.  Do you know anything about this money?”  I asked her, knowing that it wouldn't be out of character for her to have done something like this.

 

“I know nothing, and the money didn't come from my accounts,”  she said, but her answer was too carefully worded to lead me to think that she might know something about it.  “But it sounds like some serendipity there, so be thankful for it.”

 

“I am, believe me I am.  I have a meeting with the two largest apothecaries, the one here in Hogsmeade and the one on Diagon Alley, to see if the Ministry were to purchase large quantities of the potion, if we could get a discount on the whole thing, and then we could sell it  to those who need it at a discounted rate.  Perhaps if they know that they will be selling more of it, they might be willing to cut the cost?”

 

“That sounds like a plan.  Remus, I am so proud of you; you've taken what has been the bane of your existence and make it a strength.  I am so honored to call you my friend,”  she gushed and I could feel a blush cross my face.   Anwen can always make me feel good about myself.  I wonder how she would feel if she knew what I was doing most nights?  If she and Tee ever found out...I was brought back to my present company by Rosemerta bringing the bill, which I was able to grab before Winnie.

 

Anwen didn't complain when I paid the bill, which surprised me, but I chose not to comment.  As we were about to leave, I was stunned to find Draco Malfoy standing near our table, extending his hand toward Anwen.

 

“Mrs. Black, I was wondering if I could talk with you?”  he asked and Anwen nodded at him.

 

“Of course, please, have a seat, and don't call me Mrs. Black.  You knew her I'm sure, and she probably liked you.  Me, however, she tended to swear at and berate my husband for loving me.  You can call me Anwen,”  she told the young man as he sat, putting her hand on his.  “You are family, after all, and you've been kind to Bastien.  That means a great deal to me.”

 

“Draco, if you'd like, I can leave you two alone?”  I suggested, but he shook his head at me.

 

“It's alright, Professor Lupin, you might be able to help as well,”  he confided, looking so much older than his 18 years.

 

“What can we do for you?”  Anwen asked.

 

“Do you know that Pansy is pregnant?”  he asked, and we both nodded.  “I assumed as much, since we saw Ginny and Hermione on Diagon Alley a few months ago.  Her father is pressuring me to marry her, but...” he stopped and ran his fingers through his hair in frustration.  I couldn't help but notice that he was but a shell of the haughty child that I had taught five years ago.  He no longer dressed all in black, but was instead in a simple Muggle jumper and slacks, in shades of brown.  His hair was longer, and no longer slicked back and fell in a haphazard way over his head.  He clearly wasn't eating well either, as his face had a hollow pallor to it.

 

“Look, it comes down to this,”  he started speaking again, “I don't love her, in fact, I don't even like her.  I thought that I did, but it was this horrible arranged marriage that my father set up for me when I was eight.  I'm not even sure that the baby is mine, since I became disgusted with her long before the war ended, and kept my distance.  There was only one night, and I was rather drunk, actually at her insistence,” he added which made alarms go off in my mind.    “I pulled away from her when she kept spouting all of this horrible stuff about other students, little did she know that I was helping to save those same students from the torture and ...” he stopped and a shudder passed through him at what I supposed was the memory of what he’d seen inside the walls of Hogwarts last year.

 

“Why don't you call off the engagement.  There is a clause in the betrothal laws to accommodate such things,”  Anwen offered and Draco shook his head.

 

“I don't know if I can do that either.  I might not love her, but I don't want her disgraced; and what if it is my child, I certainly couldn't turn my back on them.  It would be like Bastien,” he blurted out and I watched as the pain crossed Anwen's face.  “Merlin's beard, I didn't mean to say that.  Please forgive me?”  he asked Anwen and her look softened at him.

 

“It's alright, I wouldn't doubt that your perception would be somewhat different than mine.  Draco, you need to decide what to do, what will be best for you.  There's a Muggle–developed test that can be done before a baby is born to check the DNA and determine if you're the father or not.  I can run it in the lab at the Ministry, we have the equipment.  If I did it, no one else would know,”  she suggested.

 

“I heard about it, but Pansy is against it.  I think she might be afraid that I'll find out the baby isn't mine.  I can't imagine spending my life with someone that I have nothing in common with anymore.  I just,” he paused, “I just don't know what to do.”

 

“Draco, this isn't something that you can decide in one afternoon.  May I make a suggestion?” I asked him and he turned to look at me.

 

“Sure, you're a very smart guy, even if you're married to my cousin,” he joked and I smiled back at him.

 

“Why don't you think about what you want your life to look like in a year, five years, ten years and so on.  Figure out what you want, and then decide how to go about getting it.  Your heart will let you know if marrying Pansy is the right thing or not.”  I offered and he nodded at me.

 

“That's good advice, thanks,” the young man told us.

 

“Draco, you know that your family loves you, right?  Andromeda and Sirius will help you in any way that they can,” she told him and he looked surprised at Anwen's revelation.  “I have an idea, why don't you come over for supper on Sunday, we'll have the whole Black/Tonks/Lupin bunch over and we can talk about what steps you want to take.  How would that sound?”  Anwen suggested, and the young man's face seemed to light up at the idea.

 

“That would be,” he paused, “that would be really good.  If I tell Pansy that I'm having dinner with all of you, she'd never want to come, she'd think that it was beneath her.  I swear, she reminds me of my father some days, and that’s not a compliment,”  he told me, and I smiled at the change in the young man.

 

“Come to the castle around 4:30, Sirius can meet you in the lobby outside the Great Hall, and walk you up to our quarters, they're a little hard to find sometimes,”  Anwen told him and he nodded.

 

“Thanks so much for talking with me, both of you,” he told us, rising and shaking our hands in succession, then leaving the establishment.  Anwen and I both sat for a moment more, commenting on this turn of events, and I promised her that I would talk with Andromeda when I picked Teddy up.  She thanked me for going with her and then headed back up toward the castle, while I apparated back to work.

 

Sirius POV:

 

“Can everyone understand now, why the Unforgivable Curses are labeled such?”  I asked my fourth years, and there seemed to be a fair number of heads nodding their understanding.  “Alright then, moving on to why the Ministry has labeled them such, and what the punishment for using them is,”  I started when a saw a hand go up, about two thirds of the way back in the room.  I was used to this class asking a lot of questions, I had Ravenclaw and Gryffindor students, and they were clearly more inquisitive than the other Houses.  

 

“Miss Langston, you have a question?”  I asked the girl with her hand up.

 

“Yes, Professor, I was wondering, have you ever cast an Unforgivable?”  she asked me, and I was thankful for my answer.

 

“I haven't ever been called upon to do one, but I have been in situations where I would have considered it, if everything else had failed,”  I told then honestly.

 

“Professor, can I ask what would have made you do such a thing?”  she continued, and I went and sat on the edge of my desk, taking a deep breath.

 

“Last year, while the war was still raging, I ended up in several duels with Death Eaters.  They were threatening my friends and my family, but thankfully, I was able to get out of the situations without using an Unforgivable.  However, if everything else had failed, and it meant life or death for me or someone I loved, I would have used one.  I know that my wife had to, while she was working as an Auror, to save other people.  I can tell you that it was never something that she did lightly, and she was remorseful that there wasn't any other choice,”  I finished and another hand went up.

 

“Yes, Mr. Niles.”

 

“Have you ever had one used on you?”  he queried and I nodded slowly.

 

“I've had both the Cruciatus and the Imperious Curses used on me,”  I told them, and then decided that we needed to get back to our lessons before they asked about those instances, it wasn't something that I wanted to share.

 

“The Ministry of Magic outlawed their use due to the extreme control that could be exerted over one witch or wizard on another...” I started when I was shocked by a golden Griffin bounding into the classroom, coming over and kneeling before me before it vanished.

 

“Professor, whose Patronus was that, the color was all wrong?”  one of the girls asked, but I didn't even think to answer her.

 

“Class, write me an essay, twelve inches in length on the history of the Unforgivable Curses.  Class dismissed,”  I told them and there were surprised whispers around the room as they all gathered their things up and exited the room.  I followed my last student out, and when I reached the hall, Anwen was leaning against the far wall, positively glowing as she smiled at me.  Her happiness hit me full force, and I threw my head back and laughed, grabbing her hand and almost pulling her away from the hall.

 

 

Anwen POV:

 

“I don't believe that you let your class out early so that you could take me to bed, Professor Black.  That isn't very responsible of you,”  I whispered in his ear as I ran my tongue along the edge.  Sirius growled in response.

 

“My darling, there was only one way to celebrate this rather momentous occasion, and that involved you, me and this rather large bed while our children are out of the house,”  his hand gently running across my breast.  I pulled myself closer to him and kissed him again, then I took a moment to look around our bedroom.  Robes and other articles of clothing were strewn across the floor, his shoes were near the door and mine was, well I wasn't sure.  My prosthetic leg was propped up on the foot of the bed and I could see my favorite pair of pink satin knickers in tatters on the bedside table.  Good thing that he bought stock in the company, he's been destroying them at a rather impressive rate.

 

“Love, we really should be getting up.  We've only got twenty minutes before Patty will be home with the younger five children,”  I told him and Sirius plastered his cockeyed Marauder's smile on his face and came to lay over me.

 

“Twenty minutes, huh...that seems like just enough time,” he told me as he began kissing his way down my body.  His head disappeared below the covers, and I was helpless against what his mouth was doing to me. 

 

 

Lily POV:

 

I had driven the car today to pick the boys up, it was quite chilly and the wind was brisk, and if I just walked up to pick up the kids, I knew that people would question my sanity.  The car heater was doing a less than adequate job keeping me warm, so I was quite thankful that I'd driven over, instead of having to brave the chill.  I waited for a few minutes, until I saw the doors to the school open up, and the children began to trickle out.  Ethan would be let out first, and then Evan would follow a short time later, since they dismissed by grade.  I turned off the car and opened the door.

 

As I eased myself out, I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck rise and something in me told me that there was danger.  I looked around, but saw nothing out of the ordinary, just other mothers and nannies there to pick up the children from their classes.  No one seemed unfamiliar.  It must be the cold, I mused to myself, sliding my fingers along the wand that was holstered on my slacks.  I saw Ethan leaving the school and his eyes lit up when he saw me.

 

“Aunt Lily,”  he yelled as he ran down the stairs.  “Aunt Lily, I knew all of my numbers today when the teacher asked.  I did them all the way up to twenty-five,”  his exuberance was contagious.

 

“Congratulations Ethan, your Mummy and Daddy will be very proud of you,”  I told him, giving him a little hug and then taking his hand as we waited for my young son.

 

“I hope so, I want to get more points for my house,” he told me and I smiled at the concept.  It was ingenious of Anwen to decide to give her children their own houses, as a unique way of rewarding them for doing well at things.  She is such a good mother.

 

“Well, I should think that if you've done that well on your work, you shall get your points,”  I told him and he continued to smile up at me.

 

“Evan, hey Evan, we're over here,”  Ethan yelled when he saw his cousin leave the building and my son ran up to me and hugged me.

 

“Mummy, I got all my spelling words right,”  he told me, and I took him by the hand as well, leading them to the car.

 

“Congratulations, dear.  I knew that all that hard work you and Daddy put in on them would pay off.  How about some fresh biscuits when we get home?  Lilyan and Hope are home with Daddy, and we can have a little party to celebrate your good work at school before we go up to the castle to have dinner with the Black's,”  I suggested and they both cheered at the idea.

 

“Can we see Grandma Mimi while we're there?”  Evan asked and I tussled his hair at the suggestion.  

 

“I don't see why not, I know that she'd love to see you.”  I confirmed and we headed away from the school.

 

I could feel that same strange sense that we were being watched as I crossed the parking lot and got the boys into the car.  I glanced around again, but still didn't see anything.  Maybe I should tell James and Sirius that what I felt?  Oh Lily, be sensible.  There's nothing about to jump out from behind a tree to hurt the boys; there is absolutely no reason to worry their fathers that way,  I decided as I got into the car and started the engine; I did however, lock the doors as I drove away. 


Chapter 15: Chapter 14: Another Year Over, a New One Just Begun
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Chapter 14:

The Old Year Is Over, and New One Just Begun

Anwen POV:

"Yes, Minister," I spoke into the floo, "I know that he's made sure that there's enough Wolfsbane this month. I believe that the order was tripled over what we had on hand last month; we should be fine. You know I'm going to see you in about an hour, we could just discuss this then."

"Anwen, that will be a ball, and while I am sure that there are a great many people who will want to talk politics with me, I have no intention of speaking about them with you. Please promise me a dance?" he asked and I sighed, closed my eyes and nodded. I have no idea why anyone would want to dance with the gimp, but...apparently I would be dancing quite a bit tonight.

"Of course, now, I have several little girls to get dressed here. I'll see you later," I told him and backed away from the fireplace. Thankfully I was still in my track suit that I had done my physical therapy in earlier, a minute or two later and I would have been dressed only in my knickers. I had a new, high end Muggle prosthetic leg now that required my continued physical training. It was fine with me; I moved better and much more naturally with it, and the training made me feel stronger.

Tonight was the "Family and Friends" Ball at Hogwarts, and as Professors at the school, Sirius and I were required to attend; and since our children were in the castle, it was expected that they would be there as well. Patty had left to spend the holidays with her family, but the rest of our extended family would be attending as well; truth be told, most of Wizarding Britain would be attending. This was something that Hogwarts did after the first war, and Minerva felt that it was important to do it again. We had invited, well Sirius had actually, everyone to our quarters a little early for light refreshments, and the hope that we would finally be able to get a family picture done; we'd missed the opportunity after the ceremony in August due to my collapse.

Lily and Tonks had come over, Lily bringing her daughters, and Ginny, Luna and Hermione had come from their houses so that we could all get dressed together. All of the men and boys were dressing at Potter Manor, so that they could officially come and pick up their dates. Luna was with us due to a surprising move on Bastien's part, he had asked her to attend as his date. He had once confided that he found her 'refreshing and quite engaging', and while I couldn't help but find both of those accurate descriptions of the girl, I did think that it was an interesting choice on his part. Perhaps it's that she doesn't look at him like a freak, she simply lets him be himself?

I could hear everyone moving about the bedrooms upstairs, and the laughter of the little girls was quite contagious. We had purchased dresses for the five girls that coordinated, and they looked quite adorable in their velvet frocks of various hues with their hair pulled up and curled with ribbons. They had all stood at the banister and let me see them once they were dressed, even little Stella was standing and holding on, although Luna had set her upright.

I was having a hard time getting excited to be going to a ball; it wasn't the idea of the party-I thought that was wonderful-it was the fact that there would be dancing, and as hard as I tried the last few weeks at therapy, I just couldn't make my leg move the way that it needed to, even to waltz. Something that was so much a part of me, for so much of my life, had been taken and I must mourn it silently.

I rode the staircase up to the second floor, and slipped into my bedroom to get my dress out. I would have been happy to have worn my dress robes from the ceremony in August, but Sirius insisted that I buy myself something new. We'd turned the shopping trip into a whole day affair, taking the three teens with us, Lily and I returning to the same shopping district that we'd bought our dresses for the Yule Ball so many years ago; however, this time we had a harder time finding something that fit our styles. We gave up on the dress shops after a few hours, and drove to a trendier section of town, where there were vintage clothing shops. I had always enjoyed vintage clothes shopping, and I felt assured that I wouldn't ever see someone wearing the same thing as me.

Our trip was successful and when I got upstairs, I found the girls already dressed. Hermione had found a stunning dark purple cocktail dress that hugged her perfectly and hung to knee length. It had cream colored accents across the top and a large creamy rose of the same chiffon at her waist. Luna picked a strapless bright red 50's style cocktail dress that had a tulle underskirt that made it stand out from her. The bright color against her pale skin was a beautiful contrast.

Ginny had bought a dress that looked as though it was made for her. The strapless white floor length gown was covered from bust to knee with delicate embroidered flowers and butterflies, some had crystals sewn into them so that as she moved, the dress sparkled and shimmered. From her knees down, the skirt was the most delicate pink chiffon. If her hair was dark, she would have made a spitting image of Audrey Hepburn standing there, tending to the children.

Lily came out, looking elegant and refined in the tri-colored drape dress that she had found. The cut and simplicity of the dress, partnered with the jeweled band that ran around the waist gave her an air of sophistication and grace. She gently smiled at me and asked if I was ready to get dressed.

"As ready as I'll ever be," I replied, not really looking forward to tonight. We went into the master bedroom and shut the door, and she helped me get out of my everyday clothes and slip into the gown that I'd found. I wanted something floor length, to cover my leg, as well as fully covering the scars that were still pronounced across my back. I had found a beautiful yellow and cream colored dress that fit the bill. The bodice was made of cream satin and had intricate yellow and green floral stitching all over it, while at the waist the same material was draped in an asymmetrical fashion down to my hips. A gentle flow of yellow chiffon made the skirt of the dress.

Lily slid the dress over my head and zippered the back up, and we slid my foot into the elegant golden slipper that I'd found for my left foot, and she helped me attach the right one to my fake leg. She waved her wand over my hair, and it flew into an ornate twist that still covered my neck. She always was better at hair charms than I've ever been.

"Anwen, that color is amazing on you. Your eyes look almost golden with it. Honestly, Sirius is going to go and find a broom closet with you tonight," she teased and I shook my head at her.

"What time is it?" I asked her and she looked down at her watch.

"Oh, the guys will be here in a few minutes to pick us up for our dates," she said, rolling her eyes. Like our husbands take us out on dates anymore.

We opened the door and went out, and Tonks walked out of Ethan's room, and I stood there with my mouth hanging open, looking at her. She had gotten a white satin cocktail dress that had a spray of red roses that ran from the bodice to the hem. Her hair was a beautiful reddish brown color and hung in loose curls across her shoulders.

"My God Tonks, you look like...a woman," I sort of blurted out at her, and the three of us laughed at the comment.

"It's been known to happen, but don't get used to it, wouldn't want Remus to get bored with me," she teased back and I smiled at her. We all went back downstairs to wait for our gentlemen and there was a nervous energy that pulsed through the room. On time, there was a knock at the door, and I went and opened it. Standing there were all of the guys, the little boys in front with the rest of them clustered around.

"I have never seen a more handsome bunch of men in my life," I told them, and then looked down at my sons and my young nephews. "The five of you are the best looking little men in all of Scotland tonight," I cooed as they walked in, each of them in their little dress robes. Ron looked dashing in his black robes, and I heard his sister comment that they were much better looking than the ones that he'd been forced to wear to the Yule Ball four years ago.

Harry was in a set of black robes as well, but these were lined in Gryffindor red and had his family crest on the sleeve. Bastien looked distinguished in his midnight blue robes and Remus looked younger than I had seen him in years in the dark green that he was wearing, carrying in Teddy, who had changed his hair green to match his and his daddy's robes. James was wearing robes similar to his son's, but lined in silver rather than red. The Potter family crest was prominently displayed on his arm as well. Finally, my husband walked in and my breath caught when I saw what he was wearing.

"Are those?" I asked, running my hand over the delicate material.

"They were in storage at Grimmauld, and when you said you were wearing yellow, I went and got them to see if they would still fit me," he told me as he wrapped his arms around me. Sirius was wearing the robes from our wedding with the hand-dyed silk lining. I kissed him hard and full on the lips and when we were done he pushed me away and motioned that I should spin around for him.

"Anwen, you're...breathtaking. Are you sure that you're a mother?" I could feel the blush cross my cheeks and I brought my hand to his cheek. His hair had begun to grow back in earnest, and it fell near his collar now, although it was streaked with grey, and he had grown back a well trimmed mustache and goatee. The scar was far less visible and the Healer was promised that in another six months, it would be nearly indistinguishable. I shook myself free of the stupor that had set in from the power of my husband's gaze and raised my voice.

"Please, there is punch and biscuits on the table and wassail on the cooktop. Go ahead and help yourselves. The sippy cups for the children are already filled," I told them and people moved to the dining room and I was about to go and sit down when there was another knock at the door. I opened it and was surprised to find Molly and Arthur standing there.

"Molly, you look stunning," I told her, as she was dressed in a light purple and pink floral set of dress robes that made her look a little like the Queen Mum, complete with a rather pronounced hat upon her head.

"Thank you, gifts from my children," she told me as she spun around proudly.

"They have good taste. Pardon my manners, please come in," I said stepping aside.

"Sirius told us to stop by, I hope we're not intruding," Arthur spoke up and I shook my head at him. Ah, that explains why I'm surprised to see them.

"You're always welcome. There are biscuits and punch on the table and wassail in the kitchen," I explained as I closed the door behind them.

"Love your wassail, Anwen. Sirius hasn't spiked it yet?" Arthur asked and I shook my head.

"He'd better not have," I warned and I could see my husband's head above the rest of the crowd shaking it at me. He motioned that he would bring me some and I nodded and took a seat next to James, who was alone and looking into the fire.

"You okay there?" I asked him, putting my hand on his arm. I could see in his face that he was thinking about Christmas Eve last year. He turned his head to look at me and then looked over me at the family gathered around my home.

"I am, it's just...it's been hard to forget today, you know?"

"I do. For years, on the anniversary of the attack in Hogsmeade, I had a hard time getting out of bed. Have you reconsidered telling Lily about everything that happened? It might help your heart heal?" I suggested, but he shook his at me with obvious defiance.

"I can't Anwen, I...I'll be fine, I promise. How could I not? Look around me at all this happiness, what they did...it's long over."

"Yes, it is James. Know that you can talk with me, anytime," I promised him and he put his arm around me and kissed the crown of my head. "You know, if I could have picked a little sister, I would have picked you." Tears pricked at my eyes and I looked up at him. "Thank God Sirius didn't scare you away." With that, instead of beginning to cry, I let a chortle escape me and smiled at him.

"You're going to be just fine, James Potter. Now, no more sadness, got it. We're going to have fun tonight," I told him with a insistence to my voice.

"Then you're going to have to save a waltz for me?" he asked and I took a hesitant breath, looking away and shaking my head.

"I've tried James, but I can't dance, the new leg..." I stopped and swallowed down the tears that I could feel forming from my frustration and regret. "How about if you dance with you're beautiful wife for me, instead?" I suggested with a forced brightness to my voice.

"No, we're going on the dance floor, even if we just sway back and forth, you're not weaseling out there Mrs. Hodgson-Black," he promised, unwrapping his arm from my shoulders. "Now, I need to see about those biscuits, or has Ron eaten them all?"

"There's more to bring to your house later," I promised him and he winked at me in response as he walked away. Once he was gone, Sirius was at my side, his face nuzzling against the side of my cheek and giving me a kiss.

"You're a remarkable woman," he whispered in my ear, "and I couldn't love you more."

I turned my head and went to kiss him, when a squeal from the other side of the room got my attention. Ginny had her hands over her mouth and was looking down at something. As I stood up, I realized that Harry was kneeling in front of her, holding up something in his hands. I didn't even have to guess to know what it was that he was giving her.

Sirius' arms wove around my waist, and he rested his chin on my shoulder. "Like father, like son." My breath caught and I turned to look at him.

"You knew, that's why Molly and Arthur are here?" I questioned him, even as the rest of the family was watching the pair, like they weren't sure what her response would be.

"He told me, and asked for my help. Since I couldn't give him advice on how to seduce her, I figured I could help with this. He knew that his father had proposed before the Yule Ball our seventh year, he wanted to do the same, but he wanted the family here with him."

"I am hopelessly in love with you," I gushed and we heard an emphatic "yes" from the other side of the room and cheers erupted from everywhere. Molly and Lily were immediately at their children's sides and all of the little girls were dancing around, hoping that they would get to be in Ginny and Harry's wedding.

Colin Creevey arrived a while later, and we were able to get one decent picture taken, with all of the little children looking forward at the camera, and none of them screaming or crying. When I looked at the image in Colin's camera, my heart was warmed at the sight of Bastien's arm around his father's shoulders as Sirius stood behind me, little Stella on my lap and the rest of our children standing and sitting around us. Maybe we will get to be a happy family, after all.

The ball was beautiful, and there was no more touching sight than watching Sirius dance with each of our daughters. Lilyan stood on his feet as they danced around the room, while he held Jamie and Stella close to him, and pretended to waltz with them. I had danced with all three of my little men, and it was sweet the way we sort of swung back and forth, holding hands together. I was quite surprised when Evan came over and asked Lilyan to dance, and held her in a proper hold. Sirius glared at his best friend's son, and then looked over at James warily. Lily and I laughed at him. God help the boys who try to date our girls, their Daddy is going to be unbearable. His wariness wasn't abated when Lilyan came and sat down on his lap and announced that she was going to marry Evan someday, just like Ginny was going to marry Harry.

The music changed from a slow waltz to a jig, all of the little girls, with the exception of Stella who was in Molly's arms, got up and danced in a circle, throwing their heads back and laughing as they did and the boys jumped and contorted, for lack of a better word. James and Lily and Harry and Ginny got up and did the dance properly, clearly remembering my lessons from four years ago. I had to fight back tears at the sight, desperately wanting to be up there dancing with them. Sirius was swinging our daughters and his nieces around in turn, and I was thankful that he didn't have to see my face at that moment.

"You don't always have to be so strong," a calming voice came from beside me and I leaned my head over onto his upper arm.

"You should be out there dancing with your wife, she looks beautiful tonight," I told Remus and he chuckled at the suggestion.

"Dress is too tight, she can barely sit down in it; jumping around like that would clearly be out of the question."

"I see," I responded, smiling at him and shaking my head slightly. "There's never a dull moment with her around, is there?"

"There certainly isn't."

"Glad that you know that dear," I whispered, "because then you won't be shocked at what she has on under that dress," I confided and his eyes became wide. I enjoyed lingerie, but I wouldn't have the dexterity to put on the garment that she was wearing. Given her clumsiness, I wasn't sure how she did either. "Have fun later."

I was saved from any further discomfort with this conversation when King came over, shaking Remus' hand and kissing me on the cheek. "You look beautiful. You should dress like that more often," he suggested and I grinned back with a slight giggle to my voice.

"Think that I might have a hard time dueling dressed like this, and it really isn't practical for wearing in front of defendants and their solicitors," I retorted. The music changed again and King offered me his hand and I shook it off. "I'm feeling a little unsteady tonight, maybe the next time?" He looked at me disappointed.

"Of course, the next time that we're at a formal affair with dancing, you owe me."

"I promise, thank you, Minister." Before we could start on another topic of discussion, someone from the MLE came over and asked the Minister to come and meet his cousin, in from Germany or somewhere. King was hauled away, looking forlorn at not being able to enjoy even one night out.

"You're really not going to dance?" Remus asked.

"I can't. I've tried for weeks at therapy, but...I refuse to get up there and make a fool of myself. I'm enjoying watching my children and the others out there, it's like I get to do it vicariously," I told him with false enthusiasm, which I could see on his face he wasn't buying.

"Winnie, no one expects you to dance like you did before..."

"...no one but me. Please, don't," I begged him. "I've lost too many things already, don't make me lose my resolve as well." He said nothing else, just brought his arm forward from where it was stretched along the top of my chair and stroked my shoulder with his hand. We watched several other dances, and I couldn't help but smile at Harry and Ginny wrapped up in each other, so obviously in love, and relishing the new level of their commitment to each other. Every once in a while, Ginny would lift her hand and gaze upon the ring and just glow.

Tonks came over, and said that they needed to be getting Teddy home and to bed. They would be walking over from the gate house to share in Christmas morning festivities with us tomorrow. They bid their goodbyes, and took their nearly sleeping son with them. I took that as my cue that perhaps Sirius and I needed to be getting the children ready to take over to the Potter's, as I could see Stella dozing in Sirius' arms as he talked to James and Lily on the dance floor. Molly had Edmund in her lap, and he looked like he was going to fall asleep as well.

We got all the kids, and returned to our quarters to use the floo to the Manor. I had sent all of our luggage over in the afternoon, and the kids' pajamas were set out on their beds. The gifts were here as well, we just needed to uncrate them, once the children were asleep. It was quite late when we finally had all of the children changed and into bed, and even later still when we got everything ready for the morning, knowing we only had a few hours before the children would be up to see what Father Christmas had left. Harry and Ginny were sleeping at Grimmauld tonight, which surprised none of us.

I changed into a pair of polka dot flannels that reminded me of the ones that I wore years ago when Sirius had proposed to me. At least Ginny was wearing better clothes when Harry asked her. I was sitting on the bed, brushing out my hair when Sirius left the loo and came over and scooped me up and carried me from the room.

"What are you doing?" I asked him, unsure what had overtaken my husband at this moment.

"There's something that we need to do."

"What?"

"You'll see," he responded, and then carried me down the stairs and into the darkened ballroom. He set me down, and took his wand from the waistband of his pajama bottoms and gently lit the chandelier and then waved it at the old wireless that James had found in the attic. It started playing the song that we had danced to at my sixteenth birthday. I was overcome with love for him in that moment, and buried my head in his chest.

"I know that you were afraid that you wouldn't be able to dance," he told me, "but there isn't anyone here, so even if you do stumble, I promise I'll be there to catch you. May I have the honor of this dance?"

"You may," I told him, slipping my hand into his outstretched one. He took me into his arms and we started to dance slowly, but I really couldn't manipulate my leg to dance properly. It felt like I was just dragging it along. I was about to give up, when Sirius put his hands under my arms and lifted me slightly, setting my foot and the prosthetic foot on top of his bare ones.

"I told you, I will always hold you, and catch you and this is the perfect way to dance with you," he muttered in my ear, and I just held him to me, knowing that language would fail me in conveying just how much I loved him right now. I opened myself to him, and bathed him in the sweet caress of my undying affection and gratitude that he knew me so well.

Sirius POV:

Years ago, when Anwen told me what Christmas was like at her house when she was a child, I couldn't fathom how participating in that chaos would feel. Clearly, it must have been exactly this. I looked around the room where there were piles of discarded wrap, empty boxes and packing materials and children playing with new things. The adults were sitting around the room, interacting with the kids or talking together. I felt my sweet wife lean against me, and I lifted my arm so that she could snuggle herself against me, bringing it to rest against her body once she was comfortable. I closed my eyes and savored the luscious emotions that she was sending me.

"Have you been dipping into the reserves of your pain medication?" I asked her and she turned and looked at me confused. "You're so relaxed and tranquil...Winnie, are you really that peaceful?" The smile that crept across her whole face, from her lips to her eyes let me know that she was indeed this satiated.

"My love, everything that I have ever wanted in life is in this room. We have beautiful children who delight and intrigue me. We have a family that loves one another and we have a future that's full of nothing but promise. There is nothing more that I could need in life," she confessed and I agreed with her, but I knew that there was one thing that she still needed.

"I think that I can think of one thing that you'd still like?" I posed and she scrunched her face up, trying to think about what it would be.

"There's nothing...I mean I would like it if my parents were here, but Liddy is due to have another baby soon, so I understood why they didn't come over. Bastien and Draco will be here later, so what's left of your family will be here as well; and the Weasleys are all coming by as well. Love, there's nothing." If she can't think of what it is, I will leave it until later.

"Did you think that we'd ever be here again?" I asked, wondering if the doubt that I saw in the tower ran any deeper in her anymore.

"I feared that we'd never have this, but I didn't doubt that Harry would succeed, I just didn't know if we'd be taken down in the process," she confided and I wrapped both of my arms around her and hugged her tighter to me.

"Mummy, Daddy," Lilyan called as she ran toward us, carrying a box with her. "Look what Ginny gave me. She said that you'd recognize it." Our daughter climbed up into Anwen's lap and opened the lid of the box. Nestled in the paper was a snow globe music box, with the scene from the Nutcracker when Clara gets her gift from her godfather. I looked up at the young woman and grinned.

"Is it the same one?"

"Yes, I've been waiting to give it to her until I was sure that she'd appreciate it." Ginny told me and I could hear Anwen sigh next to me. Ginny and Harry walked over to where we were sitting, and sat down on the floor, Ginny in Harry's lap. "Your Daddy gave that to me when I was a little girl. He wasn't my godfather, but he certainly treated me like he was."

"What do you mean?" Lilyan asked.

"We had gone to see the ballet, and he told me he wanted me to have a gift as pretty as I was. He always made me feel special when I was little," she told me, looking up at me with a wink in her eye. "Your Mummy was very special too, she taught me all sorts of things and listened to me and promised me that everything would be all right."

"She was right, wasn't she?" Lilyan asked and Ginny nodded at her.

"Yes, she was. Everything is perfect," Ginny gushed as she leaned against Harry and kissed him.

"Ewe, isn't it gross to kiss a boy?" Lilyan asked as she scrunched up her little face, and the rest of them started to laugh.

"You go on thinking that Ladybird, until you're oh, twenty-five or so," I suggested and Anwen gave me a slight swap on the chest.

"Someday Ladybird, you're going to find a boy that wants to snog you, go right ahead and enjoy it," Harry corrected me, pulling on the little girl's braids. I glared at my godson.

"Hey, hey, no corrupting the children here," I reprimanded him and they all laughed again.

"That is..." Anwen sighed, "...Sirius, my love, you have no business begging Harry not to corrupt the children, after some of the things I know that you've said to him. Lilyan dear," she added, looking down at our girl, "why don't you put that over by the tree so that nothing happens to it, and then go and find Emma."

"Okay, Mummy. Thank you so much Ginny and Harry," she told them again, kissing them each on the cheek before running off to do as she was asked.

"We had something special for all of them, but I've wanted to give her that since the day she was born. You both made me feel so pretty and special that day. It was one of my favorite days," Ginny told us and I turned to see Anwen looking at the girl with such devotion. "There was something else that I wanted to talk with both of you about. Last night, when we got home, we were talking.."

"Really, he proposed and you went home and talked?" I asked with a cocked eyebrow. Ginny blushed and Harry glared at me. "Because I know that when I proposed to Anwen, talking wasn't the first thing on my mind."

"Sirius Black, that's enough. Let the girl finish," my wife scolded me.

"Thank you Aunt Winnie, anyway, we were talking, and I told Harry that I always wanted to be married the way you two were. He told me about the Handfasting, what he could remember of it; and then there were pieces of your wedding ceremony that I could remember, but we want to hear more." Ginny explained and Anwen leaned forward to touch Ginny on the cheek.

"I think that it would be a lovely thing," Anwen told her, "but you need to go in better prepared than I did."

"Okay," Harry said. "Why?"

I listened as Anwen explained that neither of us had any idea what a full ceremonial wedding was, or what having it at the Ministry would entail. She went on to describe all three of the ceremonies, and I had to stifle a chuckle as she tried to explain how we felt after the magical binding, without getting into rather explicit details. I think that they finally caught on. Anwen also warned them about Pru, and the fact that she was still working at the Ministry. When she was done, I saw Ginny look at Harry with hopeful eyes. He leaned down and kissed her nose.

"Anything you want, wherever you want and whenever you want. I just want to marry you," he promised. After a bit more discussion, it was decided that Harry and Ginny would talk with Kingsley about using the rituals, if not the building for their wedding. Anwen thought that it would be a good compromise, and offered to help them with any details that would need to be worked out.

"Please," Ginny groaned. "If for no other reason than I am going to need someone to remind my Mum and Lily that it's my wedding."

"I'll see what I can do, dear; but those two can be rather formidable when they set their minds to it," Anwen responded.

We finally got the children dressed and Anwen and I showered. While we were upstairs, Anwen gave me her Christmas gift. I was surprised at the smallness of the box, but when I opened it, I understood.

"There are so many things that I could have given you, but I figured after the year that we've had, something symbolic made more sense," she explained. Inside the box was a small silver tube on a long chain, as well as a charm of half of a heart. I looked up at her, and there were tears in her eyes. "Its a bit of the rubble from the tower in the tube. I had Remus go and get a little for me, and I have the other half of the charm," she explained, pulling an identical chain from beneath her jumper. "Our love was strong enough to bring down a building, once again proving that there is nothing more tenacious than our shared heart."

I pulled her to me and held her tightly. There was nothing, in all of the years that we'd been together, that would mean more. I didn't even have words to explain what this meant to me, so I held her. "After supper, I'll give you your gift." I told her and I could feel her nod against me.

By late afternoon, the house was overfilled with people. Draco and Bastien had come over from Malfoy Manor and Andromeda was back after a quick trip home to change her clothing. The whole Weasley bunch was here, including Charlie who'd come home from Romania; there were also a smattering of girlfriends and wives; and our whole family. Six adults, two teens - since we now considered Hermione part of the family as Anwen and Lily had basically adopted her - and the ten little children.

In a move of sheer brilliance, Anwen and Lily had suggested that Tonks take care of the table and enough chairs for us all to sit at. This had kept my cousin busy, and thankfully out of the kitchen. Once we were all seated, James rose and lifted his glass.

"No long speeches, and no depressing talk," he announced and we all chuckled with him. "Instead, to family and friends and the ties that bind, and to the promise of a better year ahead," he concluded as he took a drink from his glass and we all followed. We ate and talked and even the children were well behaved.

It didn't take long after the meal was concluded for our children to begin to tucker out. John fell asleep on his godfather's lap, looking at the children's book about Hogwarts that he'd gotten him for Christmas. Ethan was nearly asleep on Bastien's lap as well, and the young man clearly looked pained, having no idea what to do next.

"Here, I'll take him and carry him up with Remus. I don't think we've really met before. I'm Tonks, Sirius and Draco are my cousins, so we're related somehow." I watched her explain, thankful that her hair was back to its usual vibrant hue and angular arrangement. It was weird seeing her all...normal looking.

"Thanks, children aren't my forte," he explained as I watched Molly, help Anwen and the Lupins put our children to bed. I went and sat on the ottoman in front of the pair, as Andromeda joined me, still holding a sleeping Teddy in her arms.

"I understand that you've decided what you want to do, Draco?" I asked and he nodded.

"I have, and I think that I'm going to need help from both of you. I don't want to discuss this here and now, it doesn't seem right. Can we meet in a few weeks?" he asked and I nodded at him.

"Any day but the seventh; we're adopting Stella that day and Anwen has something special planned after, which you're both invited to." I clarified and they showed that they understood.

"I'm going to have a werewolf half–sister, who would have thought that? Honestly, if my Mum knew..." Bastien said with a slight laugh to his voice.

"I think if my parents knew that I was turning to you for anything," Draco retorted, "they'd want to curse me. Really, thank you so much, you had no reason to treat me kindly..."

"We had every reason. Draco, I had always hoped that I could bring my sister back to me. I knew that Bella was gone when we were young, she was...lost and she only became more evil the longer that she was with Lestrange; but I had hoped that Cissy would return to me. She was my best friend when we were children, we shared our secrets and did everything together. When my father arranged her marriage, I was afraid for her..." Andromeda stopped and I rested my hand on her shoulder. "Sirius welcomed me back into this family, and I am so happy that we can welcome you now. You will always have a place with us, and we will do whatever we can to help."

"That goes for all of us," Tonks said behind me. "Mum, I need to take my son there, and get him back home. You staying overnight?"

"If you don't mind."

"There is always room for you, Mother," Remus added and I could see her blush from the term of endearment. It wasn't long before Draco and Bastien were headed out, but not before Harry invited them over for a Poker night in a few days. What a Muggle way to spend the night. Must be something they got from Hermione. Soon the house was empty, save for James and Lily and Anwen and me and the sleeping children on the floor above.

"Would you like your Christmas present now?" I asked my wife and she looked at me, surprised. "What, didn't you realize I hadn't given you anything yet?"

"It didn't even really cross my mind, to be honest love. I have you and the children and all of our family with us. I didn't need anything else."

"How would you like to go and see our home?" I asked her and I watched as a twinkle cast across her at the idea.

"Really? You've been so very secretive about it and I...oh Sirius, take me home," she pronounced before she threw herself into my arms.

"Go on, we'll keep an ear out for the kids," Lily told her, leaning into James, they were both clearly tired. I stood up and offered my hand to Anwen and as soon as I was sure that she was steady on her feet, I walked her to the floo, and took hold of her, announcing "Fairer Garden" as I threw in the powder.



 

 


Chapter 16: Chapter 15: The Depth of Love
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Chapter 15:

The Depth of Love

 

Anwen POV:

 

“We are going to have to recruit more people to help us next month,”  I announced, watching Cedric close the door.  The next full moon was only four days away, and today was the final day of the “Wolfsbane Clinic” that we’d set up to make sure that anyone who wanted the potion would have it available.  “That was,”  I stopped and took a deep breath, “exhausting.”

 

“It was, but do see how many people needed this.  I can’t believe how many have been suffering,”  Lily said and I agreed with her.  There were nine of us working over the last five days.  Remus and the two people from his department, James, Lily, Percy, Cedric, Sirius, Hermione and I.  Of all of the people who had been here, Hermione was most definitely indispensable.  The girl could probably organize the snowflakes that were falling outside today.

 

“I’ll talk with the Minister.  Maybe we can recruit some people from around the Ministry to give a few hours to work here.  I’ll mention it to Betty as well, there are probably people from St. Mungo’s who could come and check on their wounds and make sure that they’re healing properly,”  I told them and James nodded in agreement.  Remus’ two employees left, carrying the extra potions with them to be put into storage in their offices.

 

“We’ll get it taken care of Anwen.  Now, I believe that you and your husband are supposed to be leaving?”  James remarked and Sirius and I looked at each other.

 

“I’m not sure that this is the best time for us to be going away...” I tried to explain.  Sirius and I hadn’t been away for our anniversary in several years, not since before I was pregnant with Ethan.  This year our family wanted to see us go away, but he and I had discussed it, and we decided that maybe we should wait another year.

 

“Nonsense, the children will be fine, and the two of you should get to spend some alone time,”  Lily reminded me, wagging her eyebrows, which just looked silly on her.

 

“But Lils, the next full moon is soon, and then Stella has her adoption coming up; not to mention that the new term is starting and we both need to work on our lesson plans,”  I was trying to make excuses; the truth was I was fearful of being away from my children.

 

“Really, Lily, we appreciate the offer, but we think that we’d be better off waiting another year...” Sirius tried explaining.  We watched as James started waving his hands.

 

“All right, that’s it you two.  We’re offering you days to go away and do nothing but shag, which is pretty much the perfect holiday, unless you’ve drastically changed your ways,”  he said, and I couldn’t help but look at Cedric and Hermione who were looking at the floor, and Percy was sneaking out of the room. I swear, my embarrassment could not be more complete.  “So please, tell us why you’re so resistant to going away?”

 

Sirius came over and wrapped his arms around me and looked at our friends.  “We’re afraid of being away from the children.  Anwen, I...” he stammered before moving to kiss my temple.  I stroked his hands and sighed.  “Look, we appreciate the offer, but, we both still have a hard time being away from them.  We really thought that we might not ever see them again,”  he confessed and I felt like apparating us away from the thickness in the room.  James hung his head down and Remus slumped against the table; but Lily stood up and walked over to us.

 

“I know that you’re afraid, I feel that way too; in fact I worry about letting Evan go to school, but we’ve got to start living again.  I promise nothing will happen to your children while you’re away, and if there is anything, ANYTHING that makes me feel even slightly concerned, I promise I will fire call you right away.”  Lily reached up and stroked the hair away from my face.  “Go and celebrate your marriage, it deserves it.”

 

“Do you think that you can stand it?”  I turned my head and asked Sirius.  He grinned and nodded.

 

“Days alone with you, I suppose I can be forced to endure that,”  he teased and I kissed him for good measure.  “Okay then, lets get the rest of this stuff cleaned up, and then we can head home for dinner,”  he suggested, letting go of me.

 

“How about if we clean up here, and you and Anwen head back and work on dinner.  I’m afraid that my wife might try and cook if you’re not there soon.”  Remus said and we all thought that it was a great idea, since nobody ever wanted to eat her cooking.

 

Lily and I quickly went to the main lobby and flooed home, finding Tonks rummaging through the kitchen.  Before we could even say anything, she held her hands up, as if she was surrendering.

 

“I did not try to cook,”  she started.  “I did however call for Pizza, I just have to go and pick it up.  I was making sure that we had something for dessert, but I couldn’t find the rest of the biscuits you made, Anwen.”  Lily and I laughed at her, and at the situation.

 

“You won’t find any, the guys devoured them last night while they were playing chess until all hours of the night,”  Lily confirmed.  It was well after two when Sirius had finally crawled into bed, smelling of firewhiskey and cigars.  I wasn’t sure how much chess was really played.

 

“Well then, I will swing by the market and pick up some ice cream to go with it.  Do we need anything else?” she asked, tapping on all of her pockets, clearly trying to find something.  

 

“I don’t think so.  I can throw together a quick salad and we’ll be fine,”  Lily said and then she got the most puzzled look on her face.  “Tonks honey, what are you doing?”

 

“Can’t seem to find my money pouch, I thought I had it when I left the house this morning,”  she said, but I reached into my pocket and pulled out some Muggle cash and gave it to her.  “Here, you dealt with the kids and Patty all day, I’ll pay.”

 

“I don’t know about you and Sirius, Anwen,”  she said, taking the money from me.  “You’d think that money grew on trees for the two of you.  I saw the invoices from the house on his desk and holy smokes he spent a lot of gold,”  she said as she turned and walked out.  Her comment gave me pause, I really didn’t have any idea how much he’d spent, and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to know.

 

“Speaking of the house, you really haven’t told me much,”  Lily said, indicating with her head that we should go and sit down.  We walked back into the lounge and sat on opposite ends of the sofa, facing each other.  It felt good to be able to prop my leg up on the pouf that was there.

 

“Lily, it’s...grand doesn’t even cover it.  I have never seen a house so large, but at the same time, it’s...homey.  Does that even make sense?”  I asked and she nodded at me.

 

“When he knew that we had to rebuild from the ground up, he talked with my Mother about what kind of a house I would like.  Did you ever have a dream house when you were a child, that one place that no matter how many times you drove by it, you couldn’t help but gawk at it?”  I asked her and she smiled.

 

“I did.  There was a big house on a hill at the end of the street where I grew up.  It was made of stone and had an asymmetrical roof, and lots of windows.  I always wondered about the people who lived there, and if they knew they were living in the most beautiful house I’d ever seen,” she confessed.

 

“I had a house like that too.  It was a Tudor that was right on the edge of the village, and we had to drive by it whenever we went into town.  Every year, they would repaint the beams brown and the walls white, and then plant all of these pink and purple flowers in the window boxes.  I loved that house, and I always wanted to live in it.  Anyway, Sirius asked my Ma about my favorite house, and she said that if it wasn’t the farm, then it was this house.  Sirius made her take him to it, and then he took Ian out to see it.  Lily, he build a replica of this house, only, it’s so much larger.”

 

“Anwen, if it had been anyone else, I wouldn’t believe it; but what Sirius does for you...I sometimes get jealous,”  she sighed, and I felt badly for gushing about the lengths that my husband would go to make me happy.  “Did you go inside?”

 

“We did, but there are just empty walls and bare floors.  He wants me to do all of the decorating.  There are also huge parts of the property set aside to be gardens, so we need to talk about what we’d like to grow.  I want a culinary garden as well as a medicinal one,”  I explained.  “He even has a spot for a full Quidditch Pitch in the back, honestly, it may look like my dream home, but I think that Sirius put everything into it that he ever hoped for as well.”

 

“How many bedrooms?”  She asked, and I blushed.  We were currently sitting in a house that 11, including two Master suites, but Fairer Garden dwarfed that.  “Oh, your look is priceless.  How many bedrooms, Anwen?”

 

“There are nine bedrooms in the main house,”  I explained.

 

“Main house?”  Lily interjected.

 

“Yes, and then there is a two bedroom apartment over part of the garage, as well as two guest houses that have four bedrooms each,” I told her abashed.  I watched as she did the math.

 

“Your house has nineteen bedrooms?  My Merlin, the place must be...Anwen, what else does the house have?”

 

“Well, the first floor has offices for each of us, as well as a space for a large library.  The kitchen is partially detached from the rest of the first floor, but it has a breakfast nook in it.  There’s your standard ballroom, dining room and sitting room that any proper English Manor should have,”  I explained, sounding a bit like I was doing a realty commercial.  “Plus, there’s a Media Room, since Sirius needs his Telly, to watch his ridiculous soap opera,”  I said, shaking my head again.

 

“Go on,” she prompted.

 

“The second and third floors are bedrooms and then there’s the Music Room and the Atrium,”  I told her and then dropped my voice, “and you can sit in it on both the first floor, and on the balcony off the Master suite.”

 

“He built you an Atrium that has the balcony off your bedroom in it?”  She sounded incredulous as she spoke.  I just nodded my head.  “Anything else?”

 

“Just the swimming pool in the basement.”

 

Lily’s mouth fell open, and she looked the way I felt when we’d toured the place on Christmas Day.  It almost felt ostentatious to a dangerous degree, but Sirius insisted that he’d wanted a Manor befitting of the Black family heritage, our family heritage.  I conceded that point to him, and understood that it was something that meant a great deal to him.  

 

We talked for a while longer, and not long after the men returned to the Manor, Tonks came back with eight pizzas in her arms and a rather large bag of ice cream slung over her wrist.  I wasn’t sure why she hadn’t shrunk all of it, to make it more manageable, but at least she’d had enough sense to put a warming and cooling charm on the appropriate foods. 

 

 

The following day, Sirius and I went to Monaco, and this would be our last trip here, we had every intention of selling the flat and buying a house near James and Lily’s in the south of France.  This wasn’t somewhere that we could bring the children, and given the atmosphere here, I wasn’t sure that we’d want to.

 

We were barely through the floo when Sirius’ lips and hands were on me.  Having my magic back, after not being able to use it for so long, had an interesting side effect, we were both aroused all of the time.  If it was possible, we needed to be near each other much more than even when we were first bound.  There were times that the sexual tension became impossible to ignore.

 

Within moments, our clothes were strewn around the room, and we were on the settee, Sirius covering my body with his, showering me in kisses.

 

“You know, we could have made it to the bedroom,”  I told him, but he just shook his head at me.

 

“We’ll get there eventually,”  he promised and I threw my head back with a moan, for the way his lips were dancing along my collar bone.  It was going to be an amazing few days away.

 

 

Sirius POV:

 

“Anwen, Anwen where is my tie?”  I yelled downstairs to her.  I couldn’t find the tie that went with the robes that I was wearing, and I knew that our appointment at the Ministry was in twenty minutes, and I was still trying to get dressed.  A golden griffin landed in front of me, and I heard Anwen’s sweet voice:  “It’s hanging on the doorknob.  Why didn’t you just summon it?” she asked, and then the Patronus faded.  Why exactly didn’t I just summon it?  Probably because I’d overslept this morning.  I grabbed the tie and charmed it onto my neck.

 

I arrived downstairs to find Anwen chatting with Kreacher about the final plans for the luncheon that she had planned for our family and friends today.  James and Lily had graciously let us use the Manor, but insisted that she and Kreacher do all of the prep work and food.  All six of the children were sitting in the Lounge, quite quietly and still, clearly told by their Mum not to muss up their clothes.  Molly had knit the older five matching sweaters in dark blue with a bright yellow star on them.  The girls had on little skirts while the boys had on blue trousers.

 

Stella was sitting in her carrier, in the beautiful dress that Andromeda had crocheted for her.  At ten months old, she was too large to fit into the Black family Christening gown, so Andromeda made her a special dress, on which she had duplicated the fine lace work from the gown.  When Anwen saw it, she wept openly, overwhelmed at how accepting our family had been of our new daughter.  Somehow Anwen had tamed her hair this morning, she looks like a little doll sitting there.

 

“You’re finally ready?” my wife asked, looking at me with an understanding grin.

 

“Yes, I am.  Is everyone meeting us there?”

 

“They are, all right children, you’ve done a very good job waiting,”  Anwen complimented our children.  “Come on, let me put the charm on you so that you won’t get dirty while we floo over.”  Anwen tapped each of our children on the head with her hand, and then lifted Stella out of her carrier and cradled our daughter to her chest.  I went through the floo first, and when I arrived in the Minister’s office, I stepped aside and helped each of my children through in succession.  As Anwen stepped through with Stella, we heard the loud voice of Kingsley echoing in the hallway.

 

“Do I hear a godson in the hall?” he said, and Edmund got quite excited at it.

 

“King, King, I hear my King,”  the toddler replied, repeating the little ditty that Kingsley had created for our son.  When Kingsley turned the corner to where the floo was, Edmund took off running, and the Minister of Magic caught him and threw him up in the air.

 

“I wonder what the Wizards of the Wizengamot would think, if they knew that the Minister was skiving off work to play with a toddler?”  Anwen teased her former partner.

 

“I am working.  I am personally officiating over the adoption proceedings today,”  he told her and she tilted her head and sighed.

 

“Thank you, I’m touched my friend,”  she told him.  We followed him into the meeting room, where much of our family was already gathered.  When Jamie saw Ginny, she immediately ran for the girl, throwing her arms around her and hugging her tightly.  The rest of our children ran to their friends or favorite family members, and I hoped that they’d still be clean and presentable in five minutes when the ceremony started.

 

“Secretary Hodgson-Black, I have that report that you requested,”  Cedric said, walking up to my wife, and I was surprised that he would choose now, of all times, to discuss work–related things.  I went over to where the two of them were standing, with their heads pressed together overlooking a file.

 

“You’re certain, there was absolutely nothing to be found, in any Muggle hospital, anywhere in Great Britain?”  Anwen asked, and I understood what it was that they were discussing.

 

“Positive, ma’am,”  the young man answered.  “We even went so far as to put out an inquiry through the physicians network, but no one has brought forth any news on a baby girl, born about the time that Stella was.”

 

“Well then, it would seem that when we get through this ceremony today, then we have nothing to worry about,”  Anwen stated.  I knew that it had always been a concern of hers that one day, Stella’s biological family would want to find her.   In a matter of minutes, Stella would be legally and magically ours.

 

Molly and Arthur rushed in, and with that, all of our family was here.  “I’ll go and get Tonks, and then we’ll get this started,” I said to my wife.  We had asked that Tonks be the legal witness to her adoption, in effect, taking on the role of her godmother.  My cousin was genuinely surprised and honored by the action, but Anwen and I had one more surprise up our sleeves.

 

“You ready there, Tonks?  Everyone is here, and we’d like to get this show on the road,”  I told her and she nodded.  She leaned up to kiss Moony goodbye, and it still struck me as odd sometimes when she did that, even though they’d been together for so long.  I looked around the room at the family and friends gathered there, Andromeda and Tonks--the only real blood relations that I had;  Arthur and Molly, distantly related to both of them, along with Ron and Ginny.  Minerva had come from school, our former teacher whom we’d become so close to that our children called her Grandma Mimi.  Kingsley, Cedric and Patty, people who we worked with who we respected and admired. Hermione, who while she wasn’t family, it now seemed strange not to think of her that way, especially when she was cradling Edmund to her.  James, Lily and Remus, the friends who were more like family and all of their small children.  My godson, Harry, the boy I couldn’t be prouder of, even if he were my own child.  Our six small children, the youngest about to officially become a Black, happily hugging my wife and soul mate.  Most surprisingly, my teenage son, who a year ago I didn’t even know I had, was standing next to my other cousin’s son, Draco, who had somehow seen the light, and chosen a different path than his father.  I was amazed and astounded at the people who were in the room, and how all of our lives somehow fit together. 

 

“Sirius,”  I heard a voice beckoning me, and I turned to see Anwen staring at me.  “Love, are you with us?”

 

“I am darling, I was just, thinking.”  I closed the distance between us, and wrapped my arm around her, while she held Stella.

 

“We’re here today,”  King started, If he ever wants to give up politics, the man could become a preacher.  His voice reminds me of the one at Anwen’s family’s church in Canada.  “To welcome into the Black family, little Stella.  All of the papers have been signed and all that we need to do is the blood magic ceremony and Stella will by all rights and promises, be the daughter of Anwen and Sirius.”  The Minister picked up a small silver ceremonial knife that was on the table, and reached for Anwen’s hand.  Tonks already had her wand out to heal the wounds as soon as the blood was added to the cauldron.

 

The Minister sliced my wife’s finger, and I watched as several drops went into the waiting vessel.  When Kingsley released her hand, Tonks quickly ran her wand over it, instantly healing the wound.  The process was repeated with me, and then finally with Stella.  Our little girl gave out a slight whimper, but Anwen was singing softly in her ear, keeping her calm.  

 

Once the blood was in the cauldron, a phial of potion was added, and gentle ribbons of mist rose up off of the surface.  I recognized the color of the magic, the soft golden hue of Anwen’s and mine. Moments later, a beautiful pale green, not dissimilar to the color of my magic before Anwen and I were bound, rose up and spun into the gold. We had never been certain that Stella was magical, and Anwen had never been able to get an aura from her before.  Seeing the color of her magic combine with ours confirmed that our youngest daughter, too, was a witch.  A ring of the mist formed around us, and then dissipated.

 

“What name is given to this child?”  Kingsley asked.  I was proud to answer for my wife and me.

 

“Stella Louise Black.”  I heard Tonks catch her breath at the name, and I was sure that Andromeda had as well.  We hadn’t told her that we were giving the baby her middle name.  It seemed a fitting way to include her in the Black family legacy, since her first name already meant star.

 

“By the Authority of the Ministry of Magic for all of Great Britain, I hereby declare that Stella Louise Black is the daughter of Sirius Black and Anwen Hodgson-Black.  May you always be happy and well–loved, little one,” he added, putting his large hand over her very small one.  King leaned down and kissed Winnie on the cheek, and then offered me his hand.  When he was done, Tonks was on top of us.

 

“Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked, tears forming in the corners of her eyes.

 

“Because we wanted to surprise you,”  Anwen replied.

 

“Well you certainly did, now hand my goddaughter over,”  Tonks ordered, taking the baby from Anwen’s arms.  I watched as my wife picked up the parchment on the table, and fingered the official seal.

 

“She’s ours, she’s really ours,”  she muttered, no louder than a whisper.  I could feel the relief that Anwen was throwing off, and was so happy that she no longer had this to concern her.  I went and wrapped my arms around my wife.

 

“So, is this it?  Is our family complete?”  I questioned her.  Anwen was wise enough to shrug her shoulders.

 

“I thought that it was complete when we had Edmund, and we’ve added two more since then, so I don’t think that I’ll ever say we’re done.  We have a tendency to pick up strays, must be your influence,”  she added with a sly smile.

 

“You know, I think that you’re right; but if we never have another addition to our family, I think that we’ve got things pretty perfect the way they are.”

 

 

 


Chapter 17: Chapter 16: The Truth Be Told
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Chapter 16:

Truth Be Told

 

Sirius POV:

 

I was sitting in my office at Hogwarts, Andromeda and Draco were sitting with me, and we were working out the final parts of his plan to not only determine if he was indeed the father of the baby that Pansy Parkinson was about to give birth to, but also a way to end their engagement.  Stella had been adopted only days ago, and Pansy’s due date was looming.

 

“Well, it’s fraud if the baby isn’t his,”  Andromeda said.  “The betrothal laws allow you to leave her and take her dowry if she’s deceived you about such things.”

 

“How do you know so much about arranged marriages?”  I asked my cousin.

 

“I was betrothed to Lucius before Cissy was,”  she explained and Draco looked genuinely surprised by this.  “When I wasn’t sorted into Slytherin, my father was livid because the Malfoy’s wanted to break the engagement.  My Dad was able to convince them that they could have Cissy instead.  The whole practice made me...ill.”

 

“That’s just,”  Draco stopped.  “I can’t believe it.  Your father just,”  he stopped to think for a second, “swapped daughters?”

 

“Unfortunately, yes.  It’s a common practice.  My parents tried to do it with my brother and I, when they’d decided that I was such a disgrace to the Black family name that I wasn’t worth marrying a pureblood.  It lead to my brother being killed,”  I told them and Andromeda took my hand and gave it a squeeze.    

 

“All right then, I’m going to request that blood be drawn from the baby, upon it’s birth, to ensure that the child does indeed have Black family blood in it.  If we’re following the old laws, they have to comply.  Works in our favor, can’t pick and choose which customs  you want you want to follow and which ones you don’t.  All in or not at all, right?   Since it’s upon blood that this child  is being added to the inheritance lineage, I can request it, as the head of the family.”  I confirmed, and Draco agreed with a nod of his head.

 

“If the baby isn’t mine, then I can leave her outright, nothing more needs to be done and I can be free of her.  If the baby is mine, then I have some more legal work that needs to be done, correct?”  He asked and both Andromeda and I agreed.

 

“You do, and one of the things that you need to decide is if you want to have the child live with you or not,”  I tried to explain, but I could see Draco’s face fall and it was obvious that it was too much for him.  

 

“Why don’t we see if the baby is mine or not, and then we can figure out the rest if we need to.  I...I can’t even imagine being a father, let alone raising a child on my own, but then, I think about how screwed up the kid could end up if I wasn’t there and...” he put his head in his hands and shook it.  

 

“All right, we don’t need to make the decision right now; just know that no matter what happens, we’re going to support you,”  Andromeda told him and he seemed relieved. 

 

“The only thing that worries me is...if I have to return the money that her father gave mine...I can’t get at the gold in the vault...” he stammered.  I reached over and put my hand on his shoulder.

 

“Draco, money doesn’t need to be your concern.  The vault is only locked while your serving you probation, but I can cover anything that you’d need.  Do not marry Pansy just because you don’t think you can afford not to.”  He looked up at me with hope in his eyes for the first time.  We agreed that we’d wait for her to give birth, and that once Draco had notified me, I would come to the hospital and demand the paternity test be done on the baby.  Wow, get to use the last name to intimidate information out of someone again, lucky me.

 

“Hey,” Draco said, obviously changing the subject, as his face was suddenly lifted.   “I don’t know if you figured it out or not, but Bastien was really touched by the birthday gift.     It meant a lot to him, and he wears it all the time.”  I had given Draco my uncle Alphard’s watch from the family vault.  I know that he was supposed to get it for his seventeenth birthday, but I didn’t know that he was alive then.  Alphard was special to me, gave me the means to leave my parents and strike out on my own.  I wanted Bastien to have something that tied him to the decent people in the Black family.  

 

“I saw it the other day in class, but thanks.  I’m trying to make up for some lost time there,”  I confessed to my blood relations.

 

“Sirius, you’re doing more than that; you’re giving that boy your family life too.  After everything that’s happened, it remarkable.”  Andromeda told me, while she wrapped her arms around me. 

 

The clock on the wall chimed four, which let me know that my guests needed to be leaving, and that I needed to get to Anwen’s classroom to work on dueling with the fifth year students.  I bid my family members goodbye, and while Draco was leaving the castle, Andromeda was headed to our quarters to see the children.  I had only had one section this afternoon, the fourth years had been in immediately after lunch.  The three girls who had pronounced me “not as cute as Snape” were in the class today, and they again begged stories about him from when we were in school together.  I had been able to refuse them thus far, as I didn’t have anything that was pleasant enough to tell.  

 

Anwen was already in her room with the students, and they were readying the room.  They’d come a long way in their ability to predict what their partner might do, and defending themselves appropriately.  Today, they were going to get a chance to try and disable their partner.  I was surprised to see Harry, Ron and Ginny in the classroom as well.

 

“What are you three doing here?”  I asked.

 

“We don’t have class now, and while I could be working on my studies,”  Harry started, and then an impish smile crept across his face, “dueling Aunt Winnie is a whole lot more interesting.”

 

“You know, you’re never going to get your Animagus Transfiguration down with an attitude like that,”  Ginny rebuked, but he silenced her with a kiss.

 

“Let me worry about my Transfiguration, okay love?” Harry whispered when he was done snogging her.

 

Together we walked over toward my wife.  Harry was indeed progressing nicely, and the form of his Animagus surprised me when I first saw what he was becoming.  I couldn’t wait for James to see it, but it would still be a while I was sure.  Prongs didn’t even know that Harry was trying to learn the magic, yet.  Tonight however, James was coming to the castle to work with Winnie on doing hers for the first time since the night of the battle.  She wanted someone with her who could perform the counter spell, if she got herself stuck, and I didn’t trust myself to be helpful.  Prongs always had to get me unstuck when we were younger.  Honestly, I wasn’t sure that I remembered the correct incantation, and I wouldn’t want to leave Winnie in a lurch while I had to run and find Minerva or call over to James.  Better to just let him do it.  I walked past them to greet my wife.

 

“Hello, Professor Black,”  Anwen said with a twinkle in her eye.  She reached out and took my hand and gave it a squeeze.  I knew that she didn’t like displays of affection around her students, but I did come up close enough to whisper to her.

 

“Why hello, Professor Hodgson-Black, you’re looking quite lovely today,”  I added flirtatiously.  We’d arrived back from the Ministry this morning with ten minutes before lunch was due to start, and had enjoyed a rather invigorating interlude in the upper loft of her classroom.  “You’re cheeks have a rather rosy glow to them.”

 

“Yes, well, I tend to glow when I’ve been fully satiated.”  She quipped back, and I could feel the anticipation in my wife’s being.   With that, she turned away from me, and addressed her class.

 

“Ladies and Gentlemen, today we are going to be working on binding your opponent once you’ve disarmed them.  I’ve got Professor Black, as well as some of my seventh year students here to help you.  Once you’ve paired off, I want you to work on disarming your partner, and then subduing them.  The goal here is to keep them from fleeing.  Now, as a special treat, I’m going to demonstrate, with Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley.  Gentlemen, if you will?”  she beckoned them and the three went forward.  “I will be attempting to subdue them both, and leave them tagged so that someone, hopefully an Auror, can come along and take them away to be detained.  Boys, are you ready?”  she asked them and they nodded.

 

I watched as they began the duel, dancing around each other.  In a smart move on the part of Ron and Harry, they went to stand on opposite sides of her, theoretically to make her divide her attention between the two.  However, Winnie’s shield was so strong that it was nearly impossible to do.  She quickly distracted Ron by having his hair begin flying around his face, and then sending a flock of quills from her desk at him.  A jelly legs hex  before she disarmed him did him in and before he could even say anything, she had bound him up and he was sitting against her table.  In a move to slightly humiliate him, she made him glow bright pink and emit a tinkling sound so that the Auror’s could find him.

 

Harry was a different manner, however.  He’d watched her duel his father and I since he was a child, and he knew that Winnie didn’t think like a usual opponent.  He tried to get around her, and he nearly had her, but she simply disillusioned herself and fled to the other side of the room.  In a stroke of brilliance, she charmed a small throw rug that was by her door to the hallway, and wrapped it around Harry.  His arms pinned against him, and barely able to move his legs, he was helpless against her disarming him.  She created a flock of butterflies from a stack of notecards on her desk, and had them fluttering around his head.

 

The entire duel took all of seven minutes.  Her students cheered and Winnie made a quick curtsey.   She freed the boys, who did not look thrilled that they’d been bested by a woman twice their age and a good foot or so shorter.

 

“Now class, I did some fairly unorthodox things there, but, you can see what I mean about being able to use your surroundings to your advantage.  I want you to pair up and see how you do.”  As soon as she was done speaking, her students were on their feet and working.  I loved watching her teach, she did it so naturally and with such ease about her.  She didn’t threaten students the way that we knew Snape had, nor was she intimidating like Minerva; she didn’t even entice them the way Slughorn did.  She taught them with gentle patience and respect. Through the class, we only had a few mishaps, and fortunately, no one needed to go to the Hospital Wing this time, unlike her sixth year class the day before.

 

Time flew, and before I realized it, it was five minutes to five.  Anwen brought her class together one last time, to see if anyone had any questions, or needed any assistance.  There were a few general questions, and just as she was about to dismiss them, a young woman from Ravenclaw that I didn’t know raised her hand.

 

“Yes Miss Rhys, what can I do for you?”  Anwen questioned her.

 

“Professor, do you ever duel Professor Black?” the girl asked.

 

“We used to, in fact, we used to do it regularly.  There were several times that I took on Professor Black and the Minister of Magic at the same time.”  Anwen told her and there were sounds of surprise in the room.

 

“Did you win?”  The girl asked dubiously. 

 

“Every time,”  Harry responded for us.  “Any of you here seen my father in the Prophet?”  There were several nods indicating that they had.  “For those of you that haven’t, my Dad stands as tall as Professor Black, but he’s bigger, sturdier.  Professor Hodgson-Black sent him flying through the air so far that he hit the wall on the other side of the room when they were dueling once.”  There was even more murmuring to that story.

 

“But, she’s so little,”  another student remarked.

 

“Don’t let size be a gauge of skill.”  Ginny warned them, and we who were leading the class, all nodded, wary of the power of her hexes.

 

“Will we ever see you duel Professor Black?”  a voice from the back of the room asked, and Anwen turned to look at me, lifting her eyebrow to let me know that she was game.

 

“I will if Professor Black is up to it,”  she remarked, throwing down the gauntlet.

 

“My dear, it would be my honor,”  I replied and she smiled at me.

 

“Well then, it would seem that there will be a Defense Against the Dark Arts professorial duel.  Shall we say in, three weeks?  Give us both time to get ready?”  she suggested and I nodded in agreement.  “Well there you have it.  Good job today, and make sure that your essays are ready for your next class.  You’re dismissed.”

 

Once the students were gone, I went and grabbed her and picked her up and swung her around.  She giggled loudly in surprise.  “So, we’re going to duel again?  Are we going to let the children watch?”

 

“NO!”  Anwen squawked.  “I don’t know if the kids will understand that we’re not upset at each other, but instead just trying to teach a lesson.  Sirius there is no way that I will allow them to see us duel each other!”  All right, that was certainly definitive on her part.  

 

“That’s fine, dear,”  I said quietly and set her back down, my lips coming to hers gently.  “I can’t wait to duel you.”

 

“Oh, you’re in quite a rush to loose then I guess,”  she retorted.

 

“What makes you think I’m going to loose?”

 

“Sirius, when have you ever won?  Even if I went back to using a wand, I would still cream you.  You’re far too easy to distract.”

 

“Is that a dare?”

 

“Why, is it one that you’d be willing to take?” The look in her eyes was priceless, somewhere between excitement and arousal.  This was most definitely going to be interesting.

 

“Don’t pay any attention to them, they’re getting wound up again.  Honestly, which ones of us are hormonal teenagers here?”  Harry said to the Weasley’s.  They started walking out and I grabbed Anwen again, this time embracing her passionately.

 

“I will take that dare my dear,  we’ll just need to figure out what we’ll be wagering on,”  I promised in her ear, speaking in the way that I knew drove her crazy, my hand gently stroking her neck and the soft spot behind her ear.

 

“Not a problem, love; but you’re still going to loose.”

 

Anwen POV:

 

“So, what do you think will happen to my leg?”  I questioned James as I detached the prosthetic leg from the stump of my real one, and left it sitting on my desk.  I rested my arm against the desk to help prop me up.

 

“No idea, Winnie.  There hasn’t been an Animagus that was missing a limb.”

 

“Great, well, here goes,”  I said halfheartedly.  I just stood there, somewhat paralyzed by fear.  This is just one more thing you’re trying to get back.  Don’t worry so much, Anwen.  Just let go and try.  “You promise that you’re not going to leave me stuck?”  I asked James and he put his arm around my shoulders and smiled down at me.

 

“Winnie, while it would be rather funny to see you sprout a wing or walk around with a beak, no, I will not leave you stuck.”  I slid myself out from under his arm and jumped a few feet away.  Sirius had wanted to watch, but he had been making me too nervous as of late to even attempt this around him.  My balance was much better now, and I was able to stand on one leg without falling over.

 

“Well, here goes nothing,”  I sighed and closed my eyes and thought the incantation.  At first nothing happened, so I pictured myself as a kestrel in my mind.  I could feel my body beginning to change, things were shifting and moving, and there was something frightening and yet familiar about it.  Within moments, I realized that I was a bird, and took off flying.

 

I suddenly remembered why it was my favorite thing in the world to do, and I glided and zoomed around my classroom, buzzing James and making him duck down to avoid being hit by me.  I went and perched myself on one of the candelabras and then flew back down, landing on a desk near James.  I thought about changing myself over, and when I opened my eyes, I was human again, sitting on the desk looking at James.  He had the most perplexed look on his face.

 

“Anwen, how did you feel when you landed?”  His question struck me as a bit odd.

 

“Fine, I was concerned that I would be wobbly, but I wasn’t at all.  Would you mind handing me my leg?”  I watched as he reached over onto my desk and then handed it to me.  He was continuing to stare at me.

 

“Here.  But, when you landed, did anything feel different?”  He continued questioning.

 

“No, what are you getting at James?”

 

“Anwen, you’ve got this...when you landed, you had two legs, you’re right one was like...honestly, it looked like it was made of the same stuff as your Patronus.  It was yellowy and not really solid, but you had another leg.  Wow, I’ve never...”

 

“I had a Patronus leg?”  I asked, disbelieving.

 

“You did.  Is Minerva in the building?  I would really like to have her look at it, she’s an Animagus after all.  Maybe even have Dumbledore’s portrait weigh in?”  James suggested.

 

“Minerva’s fine, but James, Albus is never awake to speak with me.  I think he knows that I have too many questions for him, and he’s been avoiding me.  Minerva thinks that it’s despicable.”

 

“Wait, the Great Albus Dumbledore is avoiding you?”  I motioned my assent to his question.  

 

“Yes, he is.  Come on, let’s go and see if she’s ever heard of such a thing, or if its just another way that I’m a freak,”  I joked as my leg was fully attached and I dropped my skirt down to cover it.

 

 

Minerva had no ideas, and there wasn’t anything in any of the Ministry libraries, either.  Healer Orlaf was excited by this new development, and I could see that he was planning another journal article about me.  In the following days, news of the duel that Sirius and I would be having spread and quickly, we had students from all years wanting to witness our inter-department duel.  It was at breakfast five days after we’d made our agreement, that Minerva cornered us on our way out of the Great Hall about our jointly planned lesson.

 

“I understand that my Defense Professors are planning on dueling one another in a couple of weeks,”  she said with that look that always made me sink into my chair when I had her as a teacher.

 

“Yes, ma’am.  We thought it would be a good demonstration of what unorthodox combat could look like, given the fact that we can’t actually curse one another, because of our shared magic,”  I explained, hoping that it was a good enough of a reason.

 

“I think that it sounds like a rather ingenious teaching opportunity, however, I understand that you have several younger students that want to attend as well?”  She asked.

 

“Yes, we do.  We were going to use my classroom, but I don’t think that it would be large enough, and I am quite hesitant to show them all where the Room of Requirement is and how it works,”  I explained and I could see by her face that she agreed with me.  “Perhaps, we could use the Great Hall.  You don’t think that it would be, um, in bad taste, given what happened here last spring?”

 

“I would talk with Harry about it, and if doesn’t bother him, then please, feel free.  If we can’t do it in here, we can always take it out to the lawn, but I can only imagine what the two of you would do to the grounds,”  she quipped and I looked at Sirius and smiled at him.

 

“Thank you, Headmistress,”  I replied, and she turned and left us alone.  I slapped my husband in the arm.  “Thanks for helping me there, love.”  He leaned down and kissed me.

 

“You were doing just fine, all on your own.  You didn’t need me butting in,”  he told me.

 

“Why do I keep you around again?”  I asked him, and I watched as his face got that ‘I’m going to seduce you now’ look.  “Never mind, this isn’t the place for that answer.”  I added rapidly, hoping to keep his mouth shut.  From across the room, we saw Bastien reading something, and then he got up and walked directly over to us, leaving his books and parchment behind on the table.

 

“Um, Professor Black, and Hodgson-Black,”  he said sounding flustered.  “I really don’t what to call the two of you when we’re not in class.”  He confessed, sounding bemused.  “Look, Draco just wrote me, Pansy had the baby last night.  He asked that I tell you.”

 

“Thank you, Bastien, son; I really don’t know what to call you either.  That’s something that I guess we should figure out.  I was headed into the Ministry, we’re to have testimony at the Wizengamot today from the Aurors tracking Greyback.  I might have time before I have to be here to teach this afternoon...” Sirius said, clearly trying to figure out when to get over to hospital to insist that the paternity test be done.  He had to request it while the baby was still a patient, for the ease of getting hold of a blood sample.  

 

“Sirius, I’m not supposed to do this, but I can sum up their report.  They still don’t know anything.  There have been two sightings, and they were both in the mountains of Scotland.  That’s it.  Go and deal with Draco and the baby, I’ll tell you if anything else interesting happens at Wizengamot today,”  I told my husband and kissed him.  He left the Great Hall quickly, nearly knocking over a little second year boy.  “Wow, he’s really something isn’t he?”  I asked Bastien, sarcastically.

 

“Eh, he’s not so bad.  I wish my Mum had really known both of you, she might not have been so...angry,” he confessed, and I put my hand on his arm.

 

“I wish that we’d known about you as well,”  I returned, feeling rather melancholy about the whole thing.  “On a brighter note, in a little while, Draco should have an answer, or at least a plan about what he’s going to do about Pansy.  I need to be off, I’ll see you in class later, all right?”

 

“Yes, Professor.  I’m also taking Ethan out on his broom today.  I promised him, since he did so well on his reading the other day,”  he told me, and I had one of those, moments that makes the hearts of mother’s melt.  

 

“Thank you, he looks up to you so.  You’re a good boy,”  I told him, and then turned, because I knew that I was once again misting up at the thought of one of my children.

 

 

The weeks before the duel were filled with whispers, and questions in our classrooms.  I finally gave up teaching the day before, and just let them ask me about things they didn’t understand or that had them concerned.  Sirius and I had a fair amount of banter between us as well, and we’d made a wager on the outcome -- but there was no way that we would be telling anyone what we’d bet, it was quite...private.  I arrived at the Great Hall the afternoon of the duel, and all of the tables and chairs had been removed.  I began transforming a section of the room into the same set up as the loft in my classroom, one that looked like a small flat.  I always enjoyed interior fights, there were so many more things to play with.

 

When the space was nearly set, my four favorite students came ambling in.  Hermione had her CD player with her, and the CD’s that I’d requested.

 

“He’s going to hate that song, you do know that?”  She retorted, as she handed me the device.

 

“Oh, yeah.  Part of the reason that I picked it.  He’ll appreciate the second one much more.  So, have the four of you wagered on this little match up between Uncle Sirius and I?”

 

“Aunt Winnie, none of us are stupid enough to bet against you, well except for maybe Ron,”  Harry started and his best mate threw a swing at him.  “The big question is how long will it take before you win.  That we’ve bet on.”

 

“Really?”  I said, surprised.  “So, how long?”

 

“Seven Minutes,”  Hermione said.

 

“Twelve,” Ron added.

 

“Five,”  Ginny said proudly, “because you once told me how you distract him.”  I laughed at her remark.

 

“And I say that you’re going to let it go on longer, because you want to teach from it. I think it will be closer to twenty minutes, not that you can’t take him out earlier,”  Harry responded, and I nodded my head at his astute assessment of me.

 

“Well then, I guess that we’ll have to see,”  I added and then went back to my preparations.  Students were coming in, and there was a nervous buzz to the room.  I wasn’t wearing robes, and I had no intention of doing so, and because I knew that Sirius wouldn’t be either.

 

I was slightly surprised, but in a pleasant way, when Remus, Tonks, James and Lily all came into the Great Hall.  “Hey, what are you doing here?”  I asked.

 

“We’re getting to see you wipe the floor up with Sirius, why would we miss that?”  Tonks said, and we all laughed at her.

 

“You know, it is possible that I could loose.”

 

“Right, Winnie, we know the two of you.  You’re going to beat him, and I would guess that you’ve got a wager on it,”  James stated and I just looked away.  “Oh, you’ve got to tell us,”  he insisted, but I just shook my head at him.

 

“Ah, I was right,”  Tonks piped up, “it is about sex.”

 

“What?”  I squeaked, and I could feel the blush rush across my face.

 

“Knew it,”  Tonks added confidently.  “Anyway, saw Draco yesterday.  He seemed much...happier, relieved.”

 

“Yeah, well, I’d be relieved too if I found out I didn’t have to marry that girl,”  Lily added.  “Honestly, she was going to try and pass off Marcus Flint’s child as Draco’s?  They don’t look anything alike.”

 

“Money can make people do some strange things,”  James reminded us.

 

“Well, he moved all of her things out of the Manor and told her father that she wasn’t to come near him again, or he’d release the results of the paternity test,”  Tonks explained further.  I was about to say something when I noticed Sirius coming in, trailed by our four eldest children.  I shot him a emotional burst of frustration so strong that I saw him stumble from it.

 

“No!  Absolutely not!”  I hissed no louder than my regular speaking voice, but most definitely conveying my emotion.  “I told that I did not want them here.  They are only 3,4 and 6.”

 

“Mummy, we want to see you do magic,”  Ethan said loudly.

 

“Daddy said that you’re really good and that you and he were going to put on a show of how good you are,”  Lilyan told me and I eyes my husband with great distain.

 

“You heard them, love, they want to see Mummy and Daddy put on a show,”  Sirius replied, trying much too hard to sound innocent in all of this.  I glared at him for a moment longer.

 

“You’re not playing fair,”  I told him, enunciating every word.

 

“Neither are you,” he said and I looked at him quizzically.  “Your bum looks far too good in those slacks.”  I made a disgusted sound at him and then looked at our children.

 

“All right, you may stay, but you are to stay with Aunt Lily, Uncle James, Uncle Remus and Aunt Tonks and if you get scared, tell them and they will take you back to our quarters, understand?”  I asked them and they all nodded and then took off for our family.  “You know, when I win, I may just make it so that you not only don’t get to go first, you just won’t get any for a while.”

 

“You’d be punishing yourself as well there, love,”  he quipped back and I knew that he was right.

 

“Go get ready, I’m going to explain what we’re doing here.”  I went and stood in the middle of the room and explained to those who might not understand what was going to be different about the duel that they were going to see.  When I was finished, I walked over to Sirius and pressed my head close to his.  “You know, we’re liable to be hornier than anything when we’re done here?”

 

“I’m counting on it,”  he replied with a smirk spreading across his beautiful face.

 

“I love you Sirius Black.”

 

“I love you Anwen Black,”  he replied softly and then added, “now, let’s get this show on the road,” much more loudly.  I looked over at Hermione and nodded to her, and she started the battery operated CD player.  When Sirius heard the song start, he groaned loudly.  “Really, this is the music, come on Winnie...”

 

“I called the duel, I get to pick the music.”  The opening chords of “Ray of Light” started and put up my strongest shield and walked to face my husband, seductively shaking my hips at him.  I felt I was at a disadvantage in the fact that I couldn’t move as quickly as I would like, but the reality was that he couldn’t get through my shield still. 

 

I watched as he started throwing different curses, but they fizzled before they even got to me.  I assumed that he wanted to prove that it was indeed impossible to curse me.  In a move that surprised me, he charmed a large ottoman to begin walking toward me, and roaring like a lion.  I stood watching it, amazed by the magic that he’d employed, but when it got close, I simply detached my leg, tossed it onto the sofa and changed into my bird form and flew up into the sky.  I couldn’t do a lot of spell work like this, but I irritated the heck out of him, alternating between dive bombing him and then pooping on his clothes.  Yes, what a surprise, Sirius isn’t wearing robes.  Anwen, you knew he wouldn’t that why you didn’t.

 

Sirius finally summoned his broom, and was quickly in the air with me, flying around the Great Hall.  After some cat and mouse chasing, nearly hitting several students, I landed, put back on my leg and turned the sofa so that it was standing on end.  The first song ended and Hermione changed the CD, and put on one of our favorite punk bands.  Seeing that he was distracted by the music change, I charmed the vertical sofa to become a tree growing in the room.  Once it was fully grown, I summoned all of the leaves off of it, using my wind elemental power to create a vortex of leaves that I eventually wrapped around Sirius.  I thought that I had him for about ten seconds, and then he turned into Padfoot and was able to evade the leaves, quickly turning back into himself, charming a fire and burning them up

 

We went through another song and a half this way, and I could tell that he was having a delightful time.  He nearly had me when he turned some envelopes into clams and had them slip under my shield and begin snapping at my foot.  Seeing as I can’t really jump, I was at a distinct disadvantage, but I was finally able to flood them out of my way.  The wet paper just went limp and lumped together.

 

I was tiring, and I needed this to end.  I saw a small pile of raisins sitting on the table, and transfigured them into fleas, and sent them at my husband, knowing that he hadn’t had a flea bath, even as Padfoot, in weeks.  While he was distracted with the sweet fleas, I charmed myself, and then let an emotional tidal wave of lust leave me.  Sirius looked up at me, and I saw his jaw drop. He stopped doing magic altogether, and I was able to use the same trick I’d used on Harry in class the other day.  I charmed the carpet to roll my husband up, and walked over my bound up spouse.

 

“Do you concede?”  I asked sweetly.

 

“Gladly, will you put some clothes on?”  he begged me.

 

“Sirius, I’m fully dressed.”

 

“No, you’re not.  Anwen, you’re...starkers.”

 

“I would think that you’d recognize your own charm,”  I reminded him, saccharinely sweet.  The memory dawned on his and he started laughing.  The Marauder’s had charmed themselves while they were in school so that every time Lily looked at any of them, it appeared that they were only in their knickers.  I had just made it so that it looked like I was naked.

 

“I completely forgot about that.  Well done, Winnie.”  I unwrapped him and the students were cheering, but I all could feel was how badly he wanted to be alone with me.   


Chapter 18: Chapter 17: Out of the Shadows
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Chapter 17:

Out of the Shadows

 

 

Anwen POV:

 

“What are we doing here again?”  Sirius grumbled as we got the children from the van.  We hoped that no one was watching us, as the interior had been charmed to fit all six of them in, as well as the stroller for the littlest two.  It was a pleasant early spring day, the sun was shining and there was a warmth to the air that was welcomed and invigorating.

 

“We’re going to the Primary School’s Family Festival,”  I told him for about the twelfth time today.  “All of the classes have prepared a booth and we’re going to go around and let the children participate in the games and activities.  It’s a way to raise funds for the school library.  Ethan is very excited for us to see what his class put together.  Now, get the stroller out so I can contain Edmund and Stella better.  You’re going to need to keep a hand on John.”

 

“Great,”  he said sarcastically, “nothing like giving me the impossible task.”

 

“I somehow suspect that John, as irrepressible as he is, he’s the cosmic justice for your own childhood,”  I retorted, and it caused Sirius to throw his head back and bark-laugh at the sky.  I watched him through the open doors on the other side of the van, and felt so wonderfully content in our lives.  His head came back down and he smiled warmly at me, and I knew that he’d felt my genuine bliss at our marriage now.  We’d flooed from Hogwarts to Fairer Garden this morning, so that we could drive over, and appear to be just like any other family.  The house was nearly complete, and furnishings and decor were arriving daily.  We were assured that everything would be in place by the time we wanted to move into the house in June.

 

We got the children out and squared away, and gave them their instructions.  Lilyan was to keep hold of Jamie, which we knew wouldn’t be a problem.  Ethan could walk on his own, but I preferred that he held onto the stroller when we were in crowds, which I explained to him.

 

“Not a problem, Mummy,”  he said with a dramatic swipe of his hand at the air.  “I can follow instructions, I’m almost six now,”  our son announced proudly and I returned his bright grin.

 

“Yes, you are, and I expect you to live up to your advanced years.  Lilyan dear, take a good look around, you’ll be here in the fall to do your Reception class, along with Emma,”  I explained and she turned her head and gently smiled.

 

“Yes, Mummy.  Will the Potters be here today?”

 

“Yes, Ladybird.  In fact, isn’t that their car over there?”  I asked as I saw James’ Rover pull into the lot, followed by Harry’s little roadster.  I didn’t realize that he was coming today, but at the same time, I wasn’t really surprised by it.

 

We got the littlest ones in their stroller, it was only days after what we’d settled on as a “birthday” for Stella, and we’d had a party at the castle.  Since we didn’t know when she was born, we could only guess as to her exact age.  For no other reason than that it happened to fall between the two full moons this calendar month, Stella’s birthday was on March 16.  Lilyan and Jamie were holding hands, and Jamie was holding onto the side of the stroller as well.  Ethan was walking up front, talking with Edmund about something.  It still amazed me that my older children understood the language of the younger better than I.

 

When we reached the Potters, Sirius greeted James and then reached out to shake Harry’s hand.  Ginny was already crouched down, hugging our daughters.  Evan and Ethan were talking about something pertaining to school, and Emma had come over and was holding Jamie’s other hand so that she and Lilyan could speak.  Hope was in her stroller, although it was obvious that the two year old would much rather be out and walking.  Hope reminded me of Harry at that age, and I felt so very sorry for Lily if she was half the trouble her oldest brother had been.

 

While we were headed toward the school, I was alarmed at the sudden feeling that we were being watched.  I stopped walking and quickly turned around, looking for anyone suspicious or out of place.  If there were someone else that was magical here, I’m sure that I’d know it.  It’s not like when I’m at work or at the school, there shouldn’t be anyone else like us here; Portree doesn’t have a magical community, other than our extended family.  Sirius must have sensed that something was wrong, because he too stopped and looked at me.  John was pulling on him to keep up with the others, but Sirius held firm.

 

“Anwen, is everything okay?”

 

“Um, I think so, I just...I feel like we’re being watched, and I can sense someone else, like us, nearby,”  I explained to him.  Sirius walked the few steps back to me.

 

“Winnie, James and Lily and their kids are here.  I bet that’s it.  We know that there isn’t anyone like us for miles,”  he explained.  “Come on, love, there isn’t any danger.  I think that you’re just so used to being on alert for all those years, you body doesn’t know how not to be.”

 

“Maybe,”  I responded, once again looking around.  You’re being silly Anwen, there isn’t anyone else here.  Listen to Sirius, there isn’t any reason to be so tense.  “You’re probably right.  Come on, let’s go and have some fun.”

 

Each class had a booth, an activity or game that children could play for a nominal fee.  We traveled between the different stations, and the kids participated, often over and over.  We reached Ethan’s class’s activity, a little fishing pond where the kids got a prize for hooking a magnetic fish on their hook.  It was quite a hit, since it was impossible to lose.  When Evan explained that the class that collected the most money would win a treat for their class, I watched Sirius drop a rather obscene amount of notes into the class till, without the teacher noticing.  I glared at him when our eyes met.

 

“It’s for a good cause, love,”  he attempted to excuse himself.

 

“That’s cheating Mr. Black, and you know it.”

 

“Ms. Zheng will have no idea where the Pounds came from, just think of it as a donation for the cause,”  he retorted.

 

We continued around, and while I tried to steer John away from the messy activities, Sirius promised he’d keep an eye on him.  Under his watchful eye, our middle son somehow ended up wearing a pint of green paint.  I cleaned him up as best as I could, but without using magic, our son looked like a little green bean walking down the halls. 

 

The final activity of the day was a pie auction, in which several parents had donated items.  I had made a pear tart, and to my utter mortification, I watched as my husband, his best friend and godson bid against each other in an attempt to win the darned thing.   By the time we were done, I was quite sure that they should be naming the new library after Harry, as he’d spent about one hundred times more than it had cost me to make the tart in the first place.

 

We walked back to the vehicles, Harry proudly carrying the tart in his hands, Ginny breaking bits of it off and eating it as they walked.  

 

“You know, I would have made you one for free Harry,”  I explained to my nephew.  “You didn’t need to spend some people’s weekly salary on a damned tart.  It was...”

 

“...odious.”  Lily completed my sentence, giving her son the mom look.

 

“Mum, I was helping a worthy cause.  I want the Library to be good, my little brother and sisters are going to school here.  Where else are they going to get the exposure to the important things that they need to know?”  Harry retorted, sounding a tad too confident in his actions.

 

“You’re sounding like Hermione, love.”  Ginny rebuked him, and the adults all started laughing.  I was about to say something, when that same prickling came to the back of my neck again.  I stopped walking, and immediately began looking around.  There is someone else magical here, I can feel it.  I’ve got to be able to find their signature.  Sirius must have felt my apprehension, because he was quickly at my side.

 

“Anwen, what is it?  You’ve got that same look on your face.”

 

“Sirius, there is someone else here, I can feel it.  There’s something very wrong,”  I announced.  I quickly scanned around our family, and my face froze when I saw Harry.  We locked eyes and I could see it in his face as well.  “You feel it, don’t you?”

 

“Yeah.  Like we’re being...watched.”

 

“Sirius, get all of the children into the car, I’m going looking for a magical signature,”  I told him, flexing my fingers in front of me, and imagining a protective bubble over all of our family.

 

“Anwen, I’m not letting you go looking all on your own,” Sirius complained.

 

“I’ll stay with her, Uncle Sirius.  Ginny, help him get the kids in the car, and keep your eyes open,”  Harry commanded, and I was surprised at how self–assured he was.  This clearly isn’t the little boy that I had to reprimand for not putting his wand where it belonged.  This was a poised man who could take control in a situation.  “Do you think that it’s because of my Animagus that I feel something, or do you think that it’s something else?” he asked as we walked away from the rest of the family.

 

“I don’t know,”  I said without looking at him.  He was instinctively patrolling correctly with me, we were at a slight angle, pointed away from each other.  I could tell that he had his hand ready to summon his wand from the holster, should we need it.  “Unlike your Dad and Uncle, we’re both more vulnerable in our animal forms than they are.  Also, they’re used to quite literally running with a werewolf, they don’t sense danger much the same way.”  We continued to patrol along the perimeter.  I kept looking for magic, but I wasn’t seeing any.  “However, even you’re better protected than I am when you’re changed.  Really, I should have picked a larger...” and then I stopped.  I saw magic, just within the thicket, growing on the edge of the playground behind the school.  “Harry, over there,”  I told him pointing.

 

Spindling out from the thick underbrush was the most putrid color of magic that I think I’d ever seen.  I could think of nothing in nature that was this sickening color, tinged with Dark Magic, but not a lot, just enough to make you wonder about the moral fiber of the bearer.  As Harry turned his head to look, it was gone.  

 

“Whoever it was, they’re gone.  Cover me, I’m going to Patronus the Aurors so that they can come and look around here,”  I asked Harry, and I gently lifted my hand and sent the golden griffin away.  I then waved my hand over my head and cast a directional charm over myself, so that the Aurors could find me when they arrived.  “I want to see if there’s any evidence left behind.”  I told him, and walked over to the brambles where I’d seen the magic.  There were footprints, but they were smudged, due to the softness of the ground and the rain that we’d been having.  

 

“Don’t get any closer, we could accidently destroy evidence.  I can’t get any spell readings here, so whoever it was, they didn’t do any casting while they were here,”  I explained.  “But, see, we can tell that they’d been here for a while, there are three separate areas of broken twigs.”  I pointed to each of them in turn, and Harry nodded.  

 

“Aunt Winnie, why are you making a ringing noise?”  Harry asked, looking at me oddly.

 

“Oh, you can hear it?”  I commented, smiling at him.  “I set a direction and location charm on myself.  Usually you put them on someone or something that needs to be collected.  Only trained Aurors can usually hear them.  You’re going to do well when you go to the new Academy in the fall.”

 

I stepped away from the spot in the dirt, and Harry followed suit.  “So, it will be ready?  I haven’t talked with Mum and Dad yet, but I really think that I still want to become an Auror.  I think that I could do good there,”  he explained and I nodded at him.

 

“Harry, I think that your parents would be shocked if you did anything else,”  I explained, honestly.  “However, I do have a question for you.  Quidditch tryout season is fast approaching, are you sure that you don’t want to have a career as a pro for a while?  The Academy will always be there, and there will always be Dark Wizards and people who use magic for the wrong things.  Once you decide not to even try, it’s very hard to go back and change your mind.”

 

“I’ve had a fair number of offers to be honest, but I really don’t think that it’s the right thing for me.  I love Quidditch, but...”  he confessed.

 

“I understand.  The year that I graduated, I got three invitations to training camps.  I only went to the one for the Holyhead Harpies.  Even then, I was only offered a spot on the training squad, and the war was going on, and it wasn’t the right time.” We stood on the edge of the playground speaking, waiting for a member of the Auror squad.

 

“Is that why I had this tiny Holyhead shirt in my closet?  Mum wouldn’t let me throw it out,”  he asked.

 

“Yeah, I bought it for you.  Gave it to you on the day you were born, along with your lullaby box.  Your father wouldn’t let you wear it, said that you were going to be a Portree fan from birth.”

 

“He was right,”  Harry sighed, and then stopped and looked over to where the cars were.  “Ginny’s going up to Holyhead, for the team tryouts.  Gwenog Jones showed up to personally recruit her.  I think that she has a great chance of making the team,”  Harry told me, and I started jumping up and down and hugging him.

 

“That’s...Oh Merlin that’s amazing Harry.  When did she find out?  Why hasn’t she said anything?”

 

“Aunt Winnie, stop,”  he said, putting his hands on my arms.  “You can’t say anything to anyone.  Ginny’s worried about what Mrs. Weasley will say, she’s already pretty strange about the whole wedding and not really being in charge of it, finding out that Ginny is going to play Quidditch for a living, well, it might just make her completely mental.”

 

“I see, well, tell her that I’m proud of her and I believe in her.”

 

“I will.”  We watched the perimeter for a moment longer, and then both Lisette and Renoir showed up, and I showed them what Harry and I had found.  Lisette explained that since it indirectly or maybe directly affected my family, she and Renoir wanted to handle it themselves.  Harry watched quite intently as they did their work, asking me questions about what they were doing and why.  I was impressed with his attention to detail, and could feel that he was making the right choice about his career.

 

Sirius sent me his Patronus, and said that he was taking the kids home, and that Ginny was with him.  He hoped that Harry could either bring me home, or I could apparate, but if he brought me, he could have some alone time with Ginny before they had to be back at the Manor.  Harry smiled at his implication.

 

Renoir requested that we be aware of what was going on around us, and that we keep an eye out for anything else suspicious, and if they found anything, he would let me know.  I thanked him, and before long, we were headed back to Fairer Garden.  Harry was quite distressed to find that there was only one slice remaining of the pear tart that he’d paid so much for, when we arrived.  Ginny promised that she’d give him something sweet in return, and I just turned and walked away; suddenly aware of how our friends must sometimes feel.

 

 

Sirius POV:

 

I watched as Anwen was feeding Stella her breakfast, tonight was the full moon, and Anwen had been bulking the little girl’s meals up, so that she’d be all right when she changed over.  Stella and I went to the Manor, and we all bunkered down in the basement.  I would have a good night’s sleep, if my daughter wasn’t so very active while she was changed over.  Remus simply slept now, but she was wide awake and restless for much of the night.  This is why we ran through the forest as teens.

 

“Winnie, love, she is going to be fine, I think she’s full,”  I told my wife over the top of the Prophet  I was reading.  Anwen would get the spoon with the porridge near her mouth and the little girl would swat it away.

 

“I know, it’s just...”  Anwen sighed.  I dropped the paper and stood up and walked to the other end of the table in our quarters.

 

“She’s your baby, and you hate the night of the full moon.  It’s been a hard month for you, hasn’t it?  Good thing there aren’t many months with two of them in it,”  I teased as I leaned down to kiss her cheek.  “I promise that I’ll take care of her.”

 

“I know that you will.  Padfoot is always protective of his pups.  What are your plans today?” she responded.

 

“I need to go over to the house and check a few things, the gardeners are bringing the final plans over and I want to inspect them.  I also need to check in with Bastien on how his flat is coming along.  I’ll stay over there until it’s time to pick up Ethan from school.  What are you doing?”  I asked her.

 

“I need to go into the Ministry.  There’s been another case of a child bit by a werewolf.  The infection came in about a week ago, but it took a while for me to get the information.  Not being in the Auror department does keep me out of the loop a little.  I’m not going in the rest of the week however.  Since we’re not teaching due to the Easter break, and Ethan will be done with school after today, I want to spend some time as a family.  Do you think that you can be persuaded to go the Zoo with your children and me?”  Anwen beamed at me as she spoke of a day with our children.

 

“Of course, love.  Just let me get a little sleep tomorrow before we plan any activities?”  I asked of her, and her face consented.

 

Not long after, I went upstairs and dressed for the day.  I flooed to Fairer Garden and walked through the house.  I was very pleased with the way that the house had come together.  I walked into the private sitting room that was off the master bedroom, and knocked on the frame of the portrait to the left of the fireplace that was hanging on the wall.

 

“Hey, Reg, you there?”  I called.

 

“About time that you got back,”  my brother remarked as he ambled into the picture.  I was forced to go and hang out in the Crabbes’ house.  Grandmother must have had a portrait created when I died, and it’s still hanging there.  They’re...well they weren’t much fun before little Vincent went and got himself killed; they’re a nightmare now.  So, how are you, and when am I going to get to see my namesake?  It’s been almost a year,”  he complained.

 

“Soon, brother, soon.  Anwen doesn’t know that I had portraits made of you or her sister over there.  I want to surprise her, so I can’t bring the kids by yet.  Edmund is growing like a weed, and he’s into everything now.  Oh, and wait till you meet Stella, she’ll charm your socks off.”

 

“You had another one, dear Merlin, don’t you ever keep it in your pants?”  he asked me and I shook my head at him.

 

“Well, yeah, I do...”  I countered, and then thought about it “...sometimes.”  I shook myself free of the idea of what I couldn’t wait to do with Anwen.  “Anyway, it wouldn’t have mattered with Stella, we adopted her.”

 

“Because you didn’t have enough children of your own, you needed to adopt some more?” he questioned me.  “Sirius, wait, are you telling me that fatherhood really does agree with you?  Where in the world did you learn to be a father?  Ours was...bloody awful.”

 

“It’s all Anwen, Reg.  She’s...she’s just light, and it shines into all of me, and makes me...I want to be a good father to our children, just because she’s around me,”  I explained, feeling a bit foolish for being so emotionally open with my brother, but, he’d asked.  “Look,”  I started, wanting to talk with him about what I really came here for,  “we had a strange experience a week and a half ago, and I need to pick your brain if I can.  Anwen was sure that we were being watched when we were out.  I didn’t want to worry her, but it has me spooked too.  Fenrir Greyback is still out on the loose, and he’s been known to stalk his victims before he bites them.  Just to be sure, did you know of any other Death Eaters who were stalkers as well?”

 

“Um, not really, but brother, I died twenty years ago, most of the people that I knew are, well, dead.”  I looked at his portrait, and knew that he was right, I was just grasping at straws.  There were a half a dozen known Death Eaters still out there, any one of them could have a grudge against Anwen or me, and I feared for her safety.  “You know, from what you told me, you’re wife could kick  their arses, even out of practice.  I wouldn’t worry so; and you’re still living at Hogwarts, nothing can get in there.”

 

I looked at him, trying to take comfort in that, but I didn’t have to think hard to remember that the walls had been breached twice in the last two years.  “There were those that were able to do so.”

 

We talked for a while longer, and I told him about the developments in our family since we’d last spoken.  He told me that he hoped that he’d be able to see the rest of them sometime, and I promised that he would.  I looked over and noticed that Eira was sleeping in her frame.

 

“Any word from her yet?”  I asked Reg, and he nodded.  “She’s been awake a few times, but she’s really disoriented.  I thinking being dead as long as she was, it’s hard to think of this as her existence now.  She’ll come around, I know that it took me a few weeks when I first awoke.  I’ve tried to comfort her, but she’s, well she isn’t too sure about me, the only things that she knows are what you’d told her while I was alive, and I was the guy that orchestrated the attack on her sister.”  He said with regret across his face.  

 

“Thanks for trying, Reg.  I think that when she sees Winnie, she’ll come around.  Hey, I’ve got some people that I need to meet with around the house, but I’ll be back soon, I promise.  We’re moving into the house in about six weeks, so, you won’t be lonely anymore.”  I got up from the seat that I’d pulled over by the portrait and he waved goodbye, and I left the room.

 

I filled my day with plans and meetings.  The gardens would be planted soon, and I could see Anwen’s desires clearly evident in them, if nothing else about the house ever made her happy, the gardens would be her place of calm and reflection.  Ten minutes before I knew that school was to be let out, I slipped out of my robes and draped them over the banister in the entry way of the house, and apparated myself to the forest just a few blocks away from the school, and walked the rest of the distance.

 

James was waiting on the sidewalk as well, it was a pleasant spring day, and the sunlight felt warm on my face.  We chatted briefly about Quidditch and what our wives had planned for the holiday this weekend.  The doors to the school opened, and I watched as the youngest students filed out.  Ethan wasn’t among them, but I didn’t see his teacher either, so I wasn’t terribly concerned.   Wouldn’t be the first time that she had to keep him after class.

 

It wasn’t long before Evan came out, talking a blue streak about school and what he’d learned.

 

“Sirius, do you want me stick around?”  James asked, being tugged away by his young son, wanting to get home and see what his Mum had made for his snack.

 

“No, but thanks.  Get home and let your son eat something.  I’m sure that he’s just late because he’s in trouble again.  That boy takes after me, after all.”  James nodded and started to walk off.  Soon all of the students were dismissed, and I was quite concerned that Ethan still wasn’t out of the school building.  I started walking up the steps when I saw his teacher, leaving.

 

“Mr. Black, it’s quite a surprise to see you here,”  Ms. Zheng said.

 

“I’m here to pick up Ethan.”  She lost the smile on her face, and her coloring became quite ashen.   “Ms. Zheng, what’s wrong?”

 

“Ethan left here earlier this afternoon, with his grandmother,” she told me, and my stomach fell.  “He called her Grandma Mimi.”  There was something very wrong here, because I knew that Minerva had left England to go and spend the holiday with her sister who was now living in Spain with her husband.   There was no way that she would have been at the school to get Ethan, furthermore, she’d never have taken him without telling Anwen and me first.

 

The world stopped, and I knew what I had to do.  I quickly pulled my wand, and sent out three Patronuses, one to Prongs, another to Moony and finally, one to the Auror department at the Ministry.  I turned back to Ms. Zheng, who was staring at me and my wand like I was mad.  I quickly charmed the last thirty seconds from her mind; I wasn’t concerned with the consequences, there was only one thought that raced through my head.

 

Someone had kidnapped my boy.




 


Chapter 19: Chapter 18: Taken
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Chapter 18:

Taken

 

Sirius POV:

 

James was the first to arrive, and though it had only been minutes since I’d seen him, it felt like it took him forever to get back here.

 

“Sirius, what’s wrong?  Where’s Ethan?” he asked and I grabbed his forearms with my hands and held on tightly.

 

“He’s been taken.  Someone was impersonating Minerva and picked him up before school was out.  Where are the kids?  Is someone with Lily?”  I questioned him.  I wasn’t sure if this was a full–out attack on our family, or just an isolated incident with Ethan.

 

“They’re all at home.  Bill and Fleur were there looking through some of Hope’s things that she’s outgrown, for their impeding baby.  Bill said that he’d stay there until I got back in touch with him.  Sirius who do you think it was?”

 

“I don’t know, but it could be any number of Voldemort’s supporters.  Oh, Merlin, someone has taken my son,”  I moaned, and it felt like the world had gotten cold.  James wrapped one arm around me and pulled me to him.  I couldn’t even bring myself to think about telling Anwen.

 

The Aurors arrived next, led by Renoir and Lisette, along with a full compliment, including Jagjit.  I started telling Renoir what I knew, while Lisette went to talk with Ms. Zheng.  Several of the other Aurors were changed into Muggle clothes and had badges on so that they looked like police officers.  Jagjit listened carefully to me as I spoke, writing down notes.  I was about to say something when Remus appeared, Anwen in tow.

 

“I was at your home when I got your message, I couldn’t leave her there,”  Remus explained but before I could answer, Anwen was standing in front of me. 

 

“Tell me what’s happened?  Where is my son?”  Tears were cascading down her cheeks and there was unparalleled fear in her face.  I had never seen Anwen looking this way.

 

“Anwen, my love,”  I told her, wrapping my arms tightly around her so that I didn’t have to look at her while I explained.  “Someone came and took Ethan from school today, he’s...missing.”  As the last word left me, Anwen crumpled to the ground, screaming the most primal noise that I had ever heard come out of her.  It was so excruciating to listen to that everyone stopped and turned to see what was making that noise.  I dropped to my knees and attempted to hug my wife, but she was beyond consolation.  She simply screamed and rocked, clearly unaware of anything that was going on around her.  After about a minute, I watched Jagjit come over and take out his wand, while he placed a hand on the top of her head.  Anwen glowed for a moment, a dark amber color, and then her sobbing and screaming decreased, but did not completely go away.

 

“Is she all right?”  I asked him.

 

“She is, I just lifted some of her despair.  Anwen has always been open to emotional suggestion, it was one of the things I learned about her while I was working with her at my home.  I simply made the pain more manageable for her, but believe me, even I could not take it all away from her.”

 

“Thank you my friend.  Have you found anything?”  I asked.  Anwen had begun whimpering in my arms, and I was as fearful for her as I was for our son.

 

“We have a scrap of torn fabric, but there does not appear to be any magical trace on it.  We have already sent it back to the lab.  What we need is some idea of what direction to head in, but we are at a loss.  It would appear that they left no empirical traces,”  Jagjit explained and my heart fell.   How were we going to find Ethan without any evidence?   “They are forming a search party, basing it on what little evidence Auror Fernandez was able to bring in.”

 

“Then they believe that Greyback took him?”  Anwen mumbled.  I hadn’t even realized she was calm enough to understand what was going on.

 

“It’s the most logical place to start.  Your son would...fit the profile.   Sirius, we need to remove you from the site, we think that it would be best.  Can you take her back to the school?”  he asked me, but it was Anwen that answered.

 

“The other children don’t know what’s going on.  Tonks and Teddy are there with them, and she was sending for Harry and Ginny to come and stay as well.  We can’t go back there, I can’t tell them that their brother...” and she stopped again as fresh tears overtook her.  

 

“What if we go back to the new house?  It isn’t quite completed, but its not far from here,”  I explained and he agreed.  Jagjit went to confer with Lisette and then he went to James and Remus.  Both walked over to where I was still on the ground holding the quivering mass of my wife.  

 

“Sirius, can you make a portkey?”  Jagjit asked me, and I wasn’t sure.  I felt cold inside, and I couldn’t summon the knowledge to do the spell correctly.  I shook my head at him.

 

“It’s all right, I’ve been there and I can do it,”  James said and he picked up an empty milk carton, obviously discarded from someone’s lunch and tapped it with his wand while saying the spell.  I lifted Anwen’s hand and the rest grabbed hold of the trash, and waited for the Portkey to activate; soon we were back in our new home.  James had set it for the Sitting room, and I placed Anwen down on the only furniture in the room, the long blue couch that she’d ordered to fit the length of the room.  She curled herself into a ball, crying and moaning.  Remus went and started gathering other furniture from around the first floor to bring in here while James and Jagjit were discussing something.  I saw a Patronus leave James wand, and I wondered who he’d contacted.

 

I went back to Anwen and lifted her head from the cushions and slid myself underneath, cradling her body to mine.  Her artificial leg was dangling at an odd angle, and I knew that it had to be uncomfortable on her hip.  I reached down and through her slacks released the prosthetic from her body, and then slid it out of the pant leg and laid it on the floor.  Anwen was unresponsive, and her bouts of silence from the past echoed in my mind.

 

A Patronus arrived and spoke to the Auror, and I watched as his face darkened.  James shook his head at whatever the arriving news must have been.  The two men walked over to us.

 

“Head Auror Uline feels confident that we should be searching for Greyback.  If this is who took your son, we are on quite a deadline,”  Jagjit told me, and my heart sank.   Tonight is the full moon.  I couldn’t remember what time moonrise was tonight.

 

“Remus,”  I called my friend over.  He’d just returned with two of the chairs from the Dining Room set.  I felt assured that he’d know how much time we had.  Remus walked over to us, kneeling down and putting a hand on Anwen’s back.  “What time is moonrise tonight?”

 

“The moon comes up at 7:27, but we have until 11:46 before it’s full,”  he explained.  “They think that he’s been taken by Greyback, don’t they?”  I could see the fury behind his eyes.  Never had I seen such raw emotion in Remus.

 

“It is only a theory that we are working on, but there are aspects of this case that are similar to what he has done in the past.  It’s good to know that we have time.  Sirius, I need to talk with Anwen, please,”  Jagjit said, and I unwrapped my wife from me.  She looked drained and dazed, as if someone had dosed her with a strong potion.  Even when I’d seen her drunk, she was never like this.  It was beyond any sadness that I’d ever seen in her.

 

“Anwen, I know that you haven’t used your distance sight since last spring, but I need you to try and use it now, you’re the only person who might be able to find your son,”  he said.  There was no way in hell that I was going to permit this.  Anwen had been allowed to use magic again, but her healers had specifically told her not use the more draining aspects of her abilities.  This included distance sight and shielding, as well as making magic visible and conjuring.  

 

“No, she can’t do it.  The risk is too great,”  I protested, but Anwen lifted her hand weakly to my mouth.

 

“Sirius, it’s my baby that we need to find, I have to do this,”  she whispered, and then closed her eyes.  I watched as her head lolled on her neck, and her eyes were fluttering under the lids.  Her heart rate was increasing and her breathing was becoming erratic the longer that she worked at this.  

 

Minutes passed, and Anwen was still trying to find Ethan.  I could hear her muttering, but I was unable to make out any distinct words or phrases.  I saw James pull a mirror from his pocket and tap on it, turning his back to talk into it.  Anwen continued to frantically move her eyes and scrunch her face up in what appeared to be pain.

 

“Bright green, bright green, but darker than his Daddy’s was,” I finally understood Anwen’s mumbles.   Her body was covered in sweat now, and I could feel her rapid pulse through our intertwined finger tips.  Her eyes flew open and she looked at me in horror.    “Abandoned building, near large ships, maybe shipyards.  He’s chained up to a wall and he’s so scared,” she sobbed.  “Sirius, he’s cold and alone, my baby...” she collapsed against me, and while I didn’t think that she’d passed out, she wasn’t far from it.

 

“Where would we find such buildings?”  Jagjit asked, and I was thankful that Remus was there to answer.

 

“There are ports all over Great Britain, but if she’s talking about really large ships, you can bring the list down to about six.  Most of them are in England,” he said, rubbing his head as he was thinking.  “Dover, Liverpool, Southampton, Harwich, Tilbury and London.”

 

“Don’t forget about Leith, in southern Scotland,” James reminded him and Jagjit was quickly jotting all of this down.  

 

“It will give us somewhere to start.  Please, all of you, stay put, in fact, can you bring your families here?  It would be easier to protect all of you if you’re in one place.  The Minister has asked that you all be put under Auror protection, he’s not sure if this is an isolated incident or something more.  We agree with him.”  he explained and James and Remus both nodded.  “I will be back, please do not leave for anything until I have returned.  Whatever you do, don’t leave Mr. and Mrs. Black alone.”

 

“We understand,” Prongs replied.  Jagjit left the room, and again James was speaking on his mirror.  I felt Anwen get heavy in my arms, and I knew that she’s succumbed to the exhaustion of searching for Ethan.  

 

Within moments I heard Harry in the entrance way, and the voices of our young children.  I thought that I could make out our little children’s voices, but I didn’t want them to see Anwen the way she was.  She was finally really healthy, they don’t need to see her weak and broken again.  Moony must have sensed my distress, as he went to the hallway and sent the family upstairs.  The children’s bedrooms were complete and they would have things to do there.  There were other voices of teens mixed with Remus and Harry’s, and I thought that perhaps Ginny and maybe Hermione had come as well.  They would be helpful with the kids.  

 

Tonks came in holding little Teddy, her hair a dull brown color and lying flat against her head.  Moony had his arm draped around her gently, and he had reached across and was stroking his sleeping son’s head.  I could hear him relaying what we already knew to his wife. 

 

“Remus, you can’t do anything stupid, especially not tonight.  Let the Aurors handle this,”  she pleaded, her voice tense and clipped.

 

“If he took Ethan, he will not live to see another morning.  Tee, I should have gone after him months ago,”  Remus spat, and I wanted to find out more.  I slid out from under Anwen and went to his side.

 

“Moony, what is my cousin talking about?”  He looked away, avoiding eye contact, so I chose to look at her instead.  “Tonks, please, tell me.”

 

“He’s been trying to track Greyback for months.  He’s come close to him twice, but then the beast slipped away.  From what Remus has told me, he’s got to have someone working with him, because the concealment on him is way too good.  He’s even masked his scent,”  Tonks explained and Remus glared at her.  

 

“Wait, there’s a scent?  Why can’t I smell it?  I’m usually the one with the super-smelling ability!”

 

“I think that it might be something that only other werewolves can smell.  I’d questioned how Greyback had found the farm...” he paused and thought about the near catastrophe that day, “...but then things took off with the war, I went to live among the pack and they were all that I could smell and didn’t really think about it again, until Stella came to live with us.  I could tell where she’d been playing and about how long ago she left.  The thing is, I couldn’t smell Greyback at the school, but it didn’t really surprise me.  I’d been trying to track him for months, and I could get so far on a trail, and then it would dry up, like he’d disappeared.  Even if he’d apparated, I would have been able to follow him, he just disappears.  Scent masking isn’t commonly used magic, so whoever is doing it must be really well educated.”

 

Lily came in with her children, followed by Fleur and Bill, the latter holding what I knew to be Lily’s Potions case.  That must be what James wanted, he knew that Anwen would need to be dosed with Potions.  Andromeda followed along with them, and soon the children were all upstairs, and the adults were down.  Bill and James were talking in the corner, while Lily and Fleur were attending to Anwen.  I continued to stand with Remus and Tonks, but images of little Ethan chained to a wall in some dark, abandoned building were flashing before me.  When he was born, I remember thinking that if anyone ever came after my child, I would attack like a lion.  That’s exactly how I feel now.   I started pacing around, feeling a bit like said caged animal.  Harry, Ron and Bastien entered, and I hadn’t even realized that my eldest son was here.  They immediately walked over, and Harry put his hand on my shoulder, while Bastien looked at me oddly, and then wrapped his arm around me, bringing me into a hug.

 

“Tell us what you know.  What’s going on?”  Harry requested, and I started telling him what the Aurors had said.  He explained that Ginny and Hermione were already upstairs taking care of the little kids, they had no idea that anything had happened, he’d simply told them that we were all having a surprise day at the new house.  “I’ve also already talked with Kreacher, and he’s making supper and will bring it over, so we don’t have to worry about food.  Uncle Sirius, we need to think about a place to bunker down for the night.  Uncle Remus is going to change over, as will Stella.”

 

“Oh, I um,”  I knew that it was a full moon, I mean I’d talked with Remus about it, and yet, it didn’t register that we’d need to provide a space for them.  I was so glad that Harry was thinking clearly.  “Uh, the garage, the only thing in there right now is the van and the motorbike, but we can move them out and leave them in the drive for the night.  Will that work?”  I asked him, my brain felt like sludge, and I felt myself pulled back to Anwen’s side.

 

“That’ll be fine.  Where are the keys?  We’ll take care of moving everything and strengthening the space so that they can’t get out.”  Harry told me, indicating the three of them.

 

“On the peg by the back door,”  I replied and Harry nodded and then put his hand on my arm again.

 

 “Uncle Sirius, so help me, we will get him back.”

 

Harry looked so like his Dad right then, that I wondered if I had been transported back twenty years, and was looking at the same man who promised that we would punish the people who had hurt my wife when she was so young.  Just like his father, Harry had become calm and confident in a crisis, and he knew what he needed to do.  I watched the three of them turn and leave through the rear doorway, headed toward the entrance off the kitchen which would lead to the path to the garage.  Ron was talking animatedly, and Bastien was nodding along with Harry.  I turned to head to Anwen, but James and Bill stopped me in my path.

 

“Sirius, we’re going to go and strengthen the wards on the house.  We’ll put two levels on them, the outer level will let light magical signatures in, but then the inner one will need someone to go and release them so that the person can be walked through.  We think that it will be safer this way, especially since we’re all here now,”  James explained.  I nodded at the two men, intellectually responding inwardly that I should go and help them, but the pull to my wife was far too strong to disobey it.  They provided some words that were meant to comfort me, but they just reverberated as hollow, like they were trying to prepare me for something worse.  Don’t think that way, we can’t loose Ethan, it would kill Anwen, her children are...she didn’t want to work anymore, she just wanted to stay home with them and be a mother, and everyone around her had pushed her back into not only one career, but two.  If something happened to one of our children, she’d think it was due to her lack of vigilance.  I know she’ll never forgive herself.  I’m not even sure that she could handle a second child with Lycanthropy, she worries so over Stella, to have to endure Ethan as well...

 

I realized that I was standing in the middle of the room, near no one, with tears falling down my cheeks. I wiped them away, and tried to get a grip on myself.  You need to take care of Winnie.  She’s just... I didn’t think that I could feel my wife, and then I realized that the vacuum of emotions was really the depth of her despair.  Everything else was being sucked into her.  I went to her side, and knelt down on the floor by her face.  She was still lying sideways on the couch, her face pressed to the upholstery, her eyes were clouded and empty, and I hadn’t seen Anwen this way since after her attack.  I was truly afraid that she might be lost in her own mind again.

 

“Sirius, we gave her a Calming Draught, as well as an Invigorating Potion and a Replenishing Potion,”  Lily explained.  

 

“We haeven’t zeen any change,”  Fleur remarked and I nodded at her.  

 

“Can you tell if she’s still in there?  I’m worried it’s like after her attack, when she slipped away...”  I said, but then a soft hand was on my cheek.  I turned to look at Anwen whose eyes were staring at me intently.

 

“I’m here my love, but my heart...oh, Sirius, our boy...” she whispered, speaking as if forming the words were effort for her.  I knew how she was feeling, and the chasm of her pain was enormous.  I couldn’t bring myself to speak to her, knowing how much effort it was taking her to communicate with me now.  I stood and lifted her, and then sat down on the couch, settling her between my legs and surrounding her with my body, trying to let her feel how I loved her.

 

“The Aurors are doing all that they can, love.  They’re going to go and search where there are large ships, looking for abandoned buildings.  You’ve done well my love, you’ve given them somewhere to start.  Why don’t you rest now, please?  I’ll awaken you when something happens,”  I promised her, using up what strength I had left to give a modicum of comfort to my wife.

 

“Sirius, we can’t lose him,” were the last words that she uttered before sleep overtook her.  I looked at Lily for some sort of answers, but her face held none.  I was thankful for the moments of rest that Anwen had earned.  I prayed that when she awoke, I would have something resembling good news for her.

 

Light faded from the sky, and I knew that night was coming on.  Kreacher had indeed brought us dinner, and Andromeda had brought me a plate, and helped me eat a little as I refused to relinquish my hold on Winnie, but I could barely stand the feeling of food in my belly.  “I never knew that I could love someone this much, and now that he’s missing,”  I told her.  “I don’t know how I’d live.”

 

“I know, Sirius.  Hopefully all of this is for naught, and they’ll find him and bring him home, and all of this will be a nasty memory, nothing more,”  she comforted, standing and taking the dirty dish from me, and then leaning down and kissing my head.  It felt oddly right to have her nurturing me in this way.

 

With a ringing sound, we knew that someone had entered the outer wards.  James went to see who it was, while the rest of the adults gathered around.  Anwen was still out of it, but having witnessed how much magic she had used in order to give them the little bit of information that she could, I knew that she’d sleep for a while.

 

James came back with Jagjit, and he walked directly over to me, his face looking placid and without any tell-tale signs of emotion.

 

“We think that we’ve found something, in the old shipyards of Dover.  The Aurors are waiting to see if they can get a better visual confirmation, several curse breakers are on their way from the Department of Mysteries to the site now.  They’d like someone from your family to be there, to help calm Ethan down if it is indeed him,”  the Indian Auror explained.

 

“I’ll go,”  I said, immediately shifting myself away from my wife.

 

“Sirius, we don’t want it to be you or Anwen.  If he’s injured or...it would be better if it were someone else.  Mr. Potter, do you think that you could come along?”  he asked James, and I was immediately again chilled at what they weren’t saying, but was implied with their directions.  They don’t want you there if he’s dead.  They don’t want you to see him that way, just like Kingsley wouldn’t let you see Eira after she’d been...oh God, what if that’s my boy this time?

 

“Of course, I just need to converse with my family for a moment,”  James said, and he knelt down in front of Anwen and me.  Lily, Tonks, Remus, and Harry were close too, as if they were making a little cocoon to protect my wife and me.  “Sirius, will you be able to handle Moony and Stella alone?”

 

“Um, yeah, I mean, I guess I have to,”  I rambled.  I couldn’t even get my mind around changing over into Padfoot, let alone being aware enough to control both of them.

 

“I can do it Dad,” Harry piped up.  “Aunt Winnie and Uncle Sirius have been working with me since October to do it.  I can get changed over just fine, I just sometimes have a little trouble getting out.  You might need to rescue me in the morning,”  he explained and James looked at his son proudly.  

 

“Really, Harry?  What form do you take?”  James asked his son, the obvious pride in his eyes that his son had learned this complex magic as well.  Harry stood and released his wand from his holster and flourished it in the correct pattern, and then standing before us was a lithe and agile lynx.  The large cat trolled the floor, his gentle movements betraying his immense strength and power.  As fast as it happened, Harry changed himself back.  I was proud of how well he’d learned his lessons, and how hard he’d worked on this.

 

“Well, glad that I got out of it without any help.  It’s a lot harder than it looks,” he proclaimed and James was hugging his son.  

 

“I am so proud,”  his father announced.  “I guess that you are prepared to help tonight.  Good, Jagjit, I’ll be with you presently.”  James grabbed Harry again, and I could see him whisper something in his sons ear.  Harry gave a quick nod and then James broke the embrace.  

 

“I’ll come too, if it’s all right,”  Bastien offered, and I was overwhelmed.  “He’s my...brother and I don’t want to see anything happen to him.  We’ve sort of...please let me help.”

 

“Of course, come on,”  James said, quickly kissing Lily and then wrapping an arm around my eldest.  I was overwhelmed at everything that was going on around me, and I couldn’t even form words.  I just laid my head closer to Anwen’s and whispered a promise that everything would be all right again.  I would make sure of it.

 

I must have dozed, because later that night, I was shocked by Anwen rustling against me, her voice murmuring again, her body covered in sweat.  At first I thought that it was a nightmare, but then I heard her whispering.  “No, get away from him, how could you, you foul, ugly toad-faced bitch.”

 

Lily scrambled to Anwen’s side, but I knew from her words who she was seeing.  “Anwen, who is it?  Can you tell me?”

 

“It’s Umbridge, she has my baby boy.”

 

 


Chapter 20: Chapter 19: No More
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Chapter 19:

No More

 

Sirius POV:

 

My mind was racing, which was uncharacteristic for when I was changed over.  Usually as a dog the worries of my human mind were gone, but today, they were still there at the forefront, feeling like a small boat being battered by an angry sea.  Why in the hell would Delores Umbridge take our child?  Was she really that deranged or was she that angry at Anwen?  I knew that they’d never liked one another, but really, taking a six year old boy?  Could she possibly be working with Greyback?  Even that seems sadistic and cruel for her, then again, this is the woman who used a blood quill on Harry.  Sadistic and cruel might be her way of life.

 

I glanced over at Moony, who was awake in his wolf form, a rarity these days.  Our eyes met, and I could still see the anger in them.  For a while last night I was genuinely afraid that he would take off after those who’d taken Ethan.  Only Anwen’s frantic pleading with him and kept him at our house.  Stella was asleep as well, curled up in my fur.  I believed that she’d sensed some of what was going on, because she was placid and still, for her.  Harry had spent the night pacing, ready to pounce if need be.  I looked at the small window on the door, and I could see the sky changing from grey to pink.  Sunrise would be soon, I laid my head back down and tried to reach out for the emotions of my wife.

 

She was wild when I found her, terrified and tumultuous.  Lily had promised if there was news that she would get it to me, good or bad.  I hoped that what Anwen was feeling wasn’t an indication that we’d be getting a visitor soon.  The sky continued to lighten, and I found myself anxious for the sunrise.  When it finally came, I experienced relief like I had never known.

 

I have never been so thankful to see a sun up in my life.  A few moments ago I watched Remus and Stella change back into themselves, and I immediately changed myself back and picked my daughter up and took her back to the main house.  It wasn’t until we were coming into the kitchen that I realized that I probably should have taken the few extra moments that it would have required to put her diaper back on.  I didn’t care that she’d just pissed on me, I could clean it up.  I needed to find Anwen and learn if there had been any new developments during the night.

 

The sight in Lounge made me pause, Anwen was lying prone on the couch, with both Lily and Healer Orlaf hovering over her.  Tonks met me at the door, and put her hands on my shoulders.

 

“She tried to shield Ethan earlier this morning, she took another vision and it freaked her out, so she wanted to protect him.  She’s, Sirius, her body can’t do this.  They’ve given her a dreamless sleep potion to try and get her to relax, but it’s like everything in her body is running at twice the speed,”  she explained and I dropped Stella in her arms and took off for Winnie’s side.  “Sirius, where’s her diaper?”  Tonks questioned, but I didn’t have time to answer her.

 

“Please, don’t do anything to upset her, we’ve just gotten her calmed down,” the Healer told me and I sat down next to her head on the arm of the couch and stroked her forehead.  I could see where there were tiny pools of blood on her cheeks and forehead, just under the surface.  I didn’t know what could have caused them.  I looked up at her physician in concern.  “She broke blood vessels in her face and across her torso and back, trying to contain all the magic she was using.  I’ve done what I can for her while she’s here, and I wouldn’t even try to move her.  I’ll take my leave, and know that she’s in capable hands.  If you need me, please contact me immediately and I will return.”  I watched Anwen’s healer leave, and wondered if we’d be calling him back or if I’d eventually just need to put her back in hospital.

 

Oh my Winnie, please don’t let this kill you, we’re going to bring him home.  I promise you. I ran my hand over her soft skin, and looked in wonder at how little she’d changed since I first met her, and yet, how utterly different she was at the same time.  I leaned down and kissed her lightly, feeling the crackle of her magic coursing between us.  Now that I was human again, I could feel just how jumbled not only her emotions were, but also her magic.  She could barely control it at all, even in her resting state.  I put my hand on her chest, and pulled the magic into me, feeling her confusion and chaos.  She seemed to relax slightly, but only enough for me to feel just how desponded she was becoming. 

 

I looked down to see my hand glowing upon her chest, and I knew that our bond had deepened even more because of this act.

 

“Sirius, what did you do?”  Lily asked, shocked.

 

“I pulled some of her magic into me, now that the bond is fully open, I can do that.  She is usually the one doing the draining, since she requires so much more magic, but I figured that I could help her.  How she’s functioning with this level of magical upheaval, I don’t understand?”  I confessed, not enjoying the sensation of her agitation now part of me.  “Please tell me what they’ve found.  I figured if they had found Ethan last night, someone would have come and gotten me.”

 

“He wasn’t where they thought that he was, but they did catch another renegade former Death Eater,”  Lily explained.  It didn’t make me feel any better.  “James and Bastien only made it home a few hours ago, and they went to go and nap.  Bill took Fleur home, but he said that he’d be back this morning, and he was going to bring Arthur and the twins as well.  We couldn’t decide if Molly would be a help or a hinderance, but I really need her childcare expertise, your kids are aware that something is very wrong.  She came over late last night and is upstairs as we speak.”

 

“Lil, I can’t even begin to thank you...”

 

“Sirius, there’s nothing to thank.  Look at all that she did for Harry all these years.  She’s my sister in everything but name, you and James are brothers.  Stop, there’s nothing to thank,”  she insisted, and I wrapped my arms around her.  When she returned the embrace, the damn of emotions that I had put up just broke and I found myself weeping on Lily’s shoulder.

 

“There, there, they will find him, and everything will be okay, Sirius.  He’s a good boy, and he’s strong, the Aurors will find him.  Heck, the Minister himself was part of one of the search parties, had his security detail livid, but he fought off all of them to go and help find your son,”  she explained, and I chuckled at the idea of him taking down his own protection so that he could help find our boy.

 

“Must be all those years of going up against Anwen,”  I muttered into her hair, and I felt her summon a cloth for me to wipe my face.

 

“I would suspect that it is,”  she said before she released me.  “There’s food in the kitchen, why don’t you go and eat, please, and then get some rest.  James wants to have a family meeting in about an hour, Auror Shresth said that he’d be back, he was called away on another lead a short while ago.”

 

“Thank you, Lily.”

 

“Any time, Sirius.”

 

I walked into the kitchen and found the young men gathered around the table with Remus.  Someone had obviously been to a fair bit of work, there was everything for a full English, as well as fruit, scones, porridge, bagels and lox and muffins spread across the counter tops.  Flagons of juice as well as a pot of tea and a carafe of coffee were there as well.  I must have looked surprised at the spread.

 

“Your ‘ouse welf ‘as izzy,”  Ron said with something half falling out of his mouth.

 

“Ron, try and eat with your mouth closed, it’s really, gross,”  Harry chastised him and I felt myself chuckle.  “Kreacher must be working out his stress by cooking.”

 

“I can see that.”

 

“Has there been any word?”  Remus asked, looking worse than I’d seen him look after a change in a years.  I suspected that being a werewolf last night had nothing to do with his pallor.

 

“None.  Family meeting in an hour, I’d like you all to be there.”  They nodded and I sat down and took a piece of toast, and that was it.  I closed my eyes and felt how desperate Anwen was, even in her rest.

 

“Anwen?”  Remus questioned.

 

“She’s...Moony, it will kill her, if anything happens to him, she won’t be able to take it.  Those kids are everything to her, and...”

 

“Don’t think that way, nothing is going to happen,”  he told me, but I could tell by the look in his eyes he wasn’t sure of his words, himself.  “Really, she saw Umbridge?”

 

“Yeah, I can’t figure out if she is more frightened of Greyback or the Toad.  I knew that there was bad blood there, but really...”  I paused, trying to figure out what would posses someone to strike out at a rivals child.  “Harry, you knew her...”

 

“Sirius, you don’t want my opinion of her, but if she has Ethan, death would be too good for her.  Give me five minutes alone with that...I don’t even have a word for her.  What she did to me, what she did to lots of kids.  If she did this, even having her soul sucked out by a Dementor would be kind,”  Harry raged.

 

“Don’t let your Aunt hear you talking that way,”  Remus said mockingly.  I knew that they’d been having trouble seeing eye to eye on how to handle Greyback, but I felt assured that when the passion of the moment was gone, Anwen would still believe in justice over vengeance.

 

“Yeah, well, how about if they just leave Harry and I in a room with the Toad and then there won’t be a debate,”  Ron added, and I was chilled at just how much anger these young men had in them towards her.  I remained quiet, and they followed my lead.  I ate a little, and then without any further comment, got up and went back to Winnie.

 

She hadn’t moved in the time that I was away from her, and Lily remained at her side, this time she was joined by Tonks.  

 

“She’s been calling for you, but I don’t think that she’s really awake,” Lily explained.  I lifted her little body and slid under it, again holding her to me.

 

“Mummy’s coming,”  she whimpered.

 

“We’ll find him, love.  They’re doing everything that they can to find him.”

 

Time passed, but it felt like we were in some other dimension, where it moved around us, but we were frozen.  Our family started filtering in, and by the time that the Aurors and Kingsley came in, everyone else was assembled.  From the look on his face, I could tell that there was no good news.

 

“They found an abandoned warehouse is Liverpool that had her magical signature in it, as well as that of your son, but by the time the Aurors arrived, they were gone,”  Jagjit said.  Anwen dragged herself into a sitting position, and I could see the horror in her face.

 

 

“What else did you find?”  She asked him sternly.

 

“Anwen, the investigation is still on going...” he started and I could feel the air around Anwen crackling with magic.

 

“Don’t.  I know the line that we give the families of victims, and it won’t work with me,”  she barked back.  Her voice was deep and clipped and I had never heard her like this.  She was barely moving her jaw as she spoke and her lips were in a thinned line.  “Tell. me. now.”

 

“Anwen, please, you don’t want to know...” our friend tried to dissuade her.

 

“DON’T TELL ME WHAT I WANT TO KNOW!”  She roared at him.  At once she had summoned her artificial leg and it flew into her pant leg and I heard the click of it attaching.  She was on her feet immediately.  “DO YOU REALLY THINK THAT IT’S POSSIBLE WHAT YOU WILL SAY TO ME IS WORSE THAN WHAT I ALREADY HAVE GOING THROUGH MY HEAD?”

 

A wind vortex was beginning in the room, and I looked around at the faces of our family and friends and there was fear and distrust in them.  I reached out for her, but I couldn’t touch her, she’d erected a shield around herself, and I wasn’t sure if she even knew that she’d done it.  No one was going to touch her, not unless she wanted them to.  Kingsley stepped forward and walked toward my wife, standing in front of her, he tried to touch her as well, but her shield wouldn’t allow it.  

 

“Anwen, I’ll tell you the truth, just please, let me touch you,”  he said calmly and I could see her body trembling.  He tried again, and was able to put his hands on her shoulders but he could not move her close to him, allowing him to embrace her.  This was all that she was going to allow.

 

“Kingsley, tell me, is my son dead?”  she pleaded with him, her voice breaking with each syllable, and she sounded so very small and fragile.

 

“We don’t know,”  he uttered, and I felt like the world was crashing down.  I stumbled back into the couch, and James was immediately at my side.  They don’t know if he’s alive, there could be a chance that he’s dead, my boy, my sweet strong star.  

 

 

James POV:

 

I watched my best friend, my brother, crumple to the seat, and I knew that he was loosing it.  I went and sat next to him, putting my arm around him, feeling him fall into me, weeping.  It was almost too much to see him this way, I had never thought of Sirius as weak, and right now, he looked broken. 

 

I wasn’t sure how far Kingsley was going to take this, but the Aurors had kept Bastien and I out of the room, and I was now understanding why.

 

“Blood spatter?  Traumatic blood loss?  Pooling?”  Anwen’s voice asked, sounding flat and mono-toned.    Please don’t answer that question, King.  She doesn’t need to know, this is her son.

 

“Anwen, my little Jeff, you don’t need to...”

 

“I don’t need to what?”  She asked him, her voice cracking and breaking with every utterance.  “I don’t need to think about what might have caused it.  I don’t need to determine what forms of abuse she’s heaped upon his little body?  King, I already know.  I saw it with my own eyes!”

 

“Winnie, please,”  Sirius begged her.

 

“No, everyone in this room doesn’t want me to ask the questions, but the fact is that I have carried this knowledge with me for years.  My brain has a catalog of abhorrent human behavior that I cannot leave behind; that I can’t ever get rid of.  I have seen the worst of human nature, people treating others like, animals -- no animals are treated better.  They were treated like rubbish, things that are used and discarded.”

 

“I had to watch them being raped and tortured, over and over again, and then hold those girls as they died.  I was the only one who really knew what happened to them.  How it felt, how their bodies...”  she struggled for breath, and King kept his hands on her shoulder, and refused to look away from her.  You could feel every person in the room weeping with her.

 

“But if that wasn’t bad enough, I became the repository for the memories of everyone that I ever loved who was brutally hurt.  I know exactly what abuse has been heaped upon every person in this room.  I know what Tom did to Ginny in the chamber, probably better than she even does.   I know  what he did to James when he had him, the disgusting, nauseating, humiliating details.  I know how Harry felt to be cursed and possessed.  I know what my husband went through while he was in hell, how he was cursed by his own cousins and coerced into having sex with someone else.  I even know what they did to my baby sister before the mercy of death finally came to her,”  she howled, the emotion in her voice ripping my heart apart.

 

“And then there’s the part of I still feel like a frightened sixteen year old girl who was cut and touched and tortured to the point where I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be in this world.  So, please,”  she shrieked, “what exactly do you think that you’re protecting me from?”

 

“Anwen,”  King started, and his voice was so small and lacking in its usual power and effect.  “Anwen, I don’t want to tell you, because I need to have faith that Ethan is all right.  I need to believe, the way that you do.”

 

The room was silent, save the sounds of people sobbing.  Anwen’s face fell, becoming hard like a stone, not her professional face, but instead one devoid of anything; life, passion, love.  All of it was gone.

 

“I have no faith, King.”

 

“Anwen, I don’t believe that.  You have a faith that runs deeper than any well.  You know a God that loves and cares for you,”  he answered her slowly.  It was true, while we all believed in something to varying degrees, everyone knew of Anwen’s deep belief that there was meaning and purpose in this world.  She’d always seen the pain that she’d endured as a way to help others.

 

“There can’t be a God.  No God would ever ask of me the things that I’ve had to sacrifice.  For twenty years I left everything to a plan that I didn’t understand, and now...God would never ask for the life of my child.  God would never exact the price of my friends and my family, taken while they still had so much life to live.  God would never let an innocent baby be turned into a monster...” she uttered with contempt and I looked up at Moony.  He looked shocked that Anwen had characterized Stella this way.  We’d never heard her ever say anything derogatory about either of them, and yet, here she’d said it aloud.  “No God would leave me in perpetual pain, without a leg to stand on.  Don’t look to my faith King,”  she said, her body beginning to shutter again.  “I. HAVE. NO. FAITH.  I. HAVE. NOTHING.”  She screamed, and the house began shaking around her, and I thought that I felt her pain pass through me.  

 

Sirius slipped out from under my arm and went to his wife, this time he was able to touch her, replacing King’s hands with his own.  He looked at her intently, his eyes boring into her, searching her.  

 

“Then I’ll have faith for us both.”

 

With that, he moved one hand from her shoulder to her chest, and I watched as it glowed and glistened.  Sirius buckled under the increase of the magic inside of him, but refused to let go of his wife.  King put a hand under his arm, helping to steady him.  The room stopped its movement, and Anwen leaned her head forward, resting it on her husbands chest.

 

We all stood there for what felt like hours, just looking at the pair.  I was trying to digest what we’d seen and heard and felt.  Anwen was the first one to move, she pulled herself away from Sirius and looked at his face, obviously trying to figure something out.

 

“What did you just do?”

 

“I,”  he started and then stopped.  “I pulled some of your magic through the bond.  I was afraid of...”

 

Anwen started shaking her head violently, and mumbling.  “ I can’t believe that I didn’t think of it before, how could we not remember?”

 

“Anwen, what are you talking about?”

 

“Fawkes, why didn’t we think of it before,”  she uttered quietly.  “Fawkes,”  she screamed and the silence of the room was broken by the gold and red phoenix entered the space in a burst of flames.  The bird began to sing, and I instantly felt better inside, for the first time since leaving with the Aurors last night feeling the faint glimmer of hope.  The bird traversed the Sitting Room in lazy arcs a few more times before hovering in mid air near Anwen and Sirius, across from Kingsley.  It made for a most odd quartet.

 

“Fawkes, your Ethan has been taken.  Can you take me to him?”  She begged the bird.  Again the faint notes of his calming song could be heard.  “Okay, give me a moment.”

 

“Sirius, I’m going to have him flash me there, and then flash Ethan to Hogwarts,”  Anwen announced, and it was awe inspiring to see her put aside her paralyzing fear to again take charge.  “He’s going to need medical attention, and I don’t want him going to St. Mungo’s.  Harry, go to school and tell Poppy what’s going on, have her contact Healer Orlaf.  Stay with him, no matter what else might happen.”

 

“You can count on me, Aunt Winnie,”  Harry said and took off for the door.  Ron and Bastien were in tow.

 

And then, with no other words, Anwen and Fawkes were gone.

 

“What the hell?”  Sirius blurted out before he took the few steps to the couch and slumped down into it.  No one had moved, unsure of what we’d just witnessed, or what might happen next.  As if on cue, Anwen’s patronus flew into the room, and landed at Sirius feet.

 

“Ethan is at Hogwarts.  I’m near Cheddar, in the Wookey Hole Caves,”  it said, and then dissolved.

 

We were up on our feet, and Kingsley was barking plans, everyone but Sirius, his face was contorted in pain, and his fists were clenched together.  I stopped and looked at him, and then again sat down by his side.

 

“Tell me.”

 

“It’s Anwen, I can feel...rage, James.  Her rage,”  he told me, his body reacting to the emotions that he was getting from her, but his face now ashen and crestfallen.

 

“Sirius, what happened?”

 

“I’m not sure, but, that, wasn’t...”  he stopped, looking devastated.  “Oh, God...”  he stopped speaking, and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to know more.

 

The four Aurors:  Tonks, Uline, Lanphear and Shresth, the Minister of Magic, Bill and Arthur Weasley, Remus, Sirius and I took the Portkey that Kingsley made to the edge of the caves.  When we arrived at the mouth of the cave, where the green grass and the River Axe emerge from the limestone outcropping, Anwen was sitting on the ground, her eyes closed, apparently in deep meditation.  The four Aurors rushed into the cave, and Sirius knelt in front of her.

 

“They’re both in there,”  she said quietly.  “They won’t hurt anyone anymore.”

 

Anwen looked like she was in shock, she wasn’t making eye contact with any of us, least of all her husband.  He voice was devoid of emotion, and her skin had taken on a decidedly grey hue.

 

We looked from one to another, trying to decide what to do next, when Tonks came out and knelt down on Anwen’s other side, putting her hand on her friends shoulder.

 

“Winnie, what did you do?”

 

 

 


Chapter 21: Chapter 20: Harder than War
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Chapter 20:

Harder than War

 

Anwen POV:

 

I was working in my gardens again, as hard as I tried, I can not find peace anywhere else.  There was something soothing about the delicate blossoms on the flowers that I was planting that could give me solace that no other person could.  I would only slip out here, into the Conservatory that Sirius had designed into our new home, and work on the flower beds when I knew that Ethan would not need me.

 

The physical injuries that my young son had endured were not as extensive as we had  believed, but any torture was more than any six year old should ever have to endure.  He had been healed for a few weeks, his body bearing no marks of the depravity that both had heaped upon him.  His emotional and psychological states, however, were a different matter.  Although he’d only been gone for a day and a half, she had played with my son’s mind, trying to convince him that his father and I did not love him.  By the time that we got to him, he was confused and terrified, clinging to Harry and Bastien. 

 

It broke my heart to see my son frightened of me, but part of me wondered if he could see into me, see what I had done to those who had hurt my sweet little boy.  Did he know what a monster his Mummy had become?  That was the question that haunted me day and night.  I suppose it was why I preferred the flowers, they didn’t have eyes that could peer into my soul.

 

Ethan is getting better, I reminded myself.   Auror Kebe came over each day, and helped Ethan sort out what was real and what wasn’t.  He had quickly accepted that his Daddy loved him, but nearly two weeks out, he was still unsure of me.  If I thought that the pain I felt while he was missing was unbearable, this was so much worse.  

 

I reached into the dark soil, and dug a small hole, slipping the iris rhizome into the ground, and then covering it with dead and partially decayed matter, and then finally the dry earth.  I picked up the watering can and drenched the new planting, wishing it to grow.  I’d been working on the beds for days now, making a job that should have taken hours stretch on and on.

 

“You know, you can make it go so much faster if you’d just use your magic,”  I heard a voice beckon to me.  I lifted my head to look at Remus, knowing he was once again here to try and pull me from stupor.  I hated that he would leave again disappointed and rejected.

 

“No.”  I shook my head as I uttered the syllable.  “No magic.”

 

“Anwen, at some point you need to use magic again.  This would be a good place to start,”  he tried to persuade me.  I flatly refused, I hadn’t lifted my hand to do a bit of magic since the cave.

 

“I can’t be trusted.”

 

 He sighed at my indigence. “Anwen, you can’t believe that.”

 

“Why not, you saw them.  I did that, I didn’t even mean to, it just happened.”  I was tired of explaining this to him, to all of them.  My family didn’t understand why I was punishing myself if the Ministry saw no need to do so.

 

“It did just happen, but you were under duress.  No one thinks that it could happen again,”  he tried to explain, but he didn’t understand.  It’s not just what happened in the cave, it’s what I said while we were in the Sitting Room, it was all of it.  I had no control over anything that day, my thoughts, my emotions, my magic.

 

I laid the trowel that I had used down near the basket holding my plantings for today.  I slid my hands from the gloves and laid them down next to the basket and stood, offering Remus my hand.  If I was going to do this, I was going to do it right.  “Walk with me?”

 

He stood and offered me his arm, and we took the few steps to the door that led from the conservatory to the back gardens, and then on to the vegetable and herb ones.  A gentle crushed shell path meandered through them, but it was not a good surface for me to be walking on.  It was a warm day for mid-April, my birthday would be in a few days, but I really had no desire to celebrate it.  

 

“Anwen, I wish you’d talk with me.  You know that you can tell me anything, right?” he started, as our feet crunched the pathway beneath them.  My artificial leg weighed more than the real one, so my footsteps had an odd, uneven timbre to them, almost like a slow, struggling heart beat.  That’s probably an appropriate metaphor.

 

“I can’t.  I was...that day...Remus the things I said, the things I did...I’m horrified by them,”  I told him, as best as I could, hoping that he’d read between the lines.  

 

“Anwen, do you think that we’re upset at you?”  he questioned me, disbelieving.

 

“I betrayed people’s confidences and told secrets that weren’t mine to tell.  I called you and my daughter monsters,” I whispered, horrified that I might have to remind him of what I’d done, even before I’d gotten to that damned cave.

 

“Anwen, stop,”  he commanded, and then stood in front of me, taking my face in his hands.  I looked up at my dear friend’s face, frightened of his eyes.  “Look at me, please.”

 

I tried to look away, stare at his hair or his nose, looking off into the distance, rather than really look into his eyes, but he knew, and he would not relent.  He continued to hold my face, watching as I struggled to not connect with him.  Of all of the people who I had hurt that night, I felt the worst about hurting him.  He was my closest friend, my confidant and my touchstone.  More than Sirius, hurting Remus was unforgivable. I had mocked the thing that caused him the most pain, for no reason other than I didn’t have control.  I finally relented, barely able to make his eyes out through the tears that had collected at the bottoms of my own.  “No one is upset at you, if anything, we’re upset at ourselves.”

 

“Why?”  I uttered, bemused.  What on earth would my family have to be sorry for?  They weren’t the ones who couldn’t control themselves, they didn’t blurt everything out like hot lava, flowing and streaming from them, desecrating and burning the landscape around them.  That was all me.

 

“Anwen, for years we had each taken what you were willing to give, never thinking about the cost to you.  We’d forgotten that you were holding pain for all of us, you had your own memories as well as everyone else’s.  How you made it this long without losing it, none of us were sure.  We knew that we’d done you a disservice.”

 

 I couldn’t believe what he was saying.  My family wasn’t humiliated by my actions that day?

 

“We have been trying to tell you that, but you’ve secluded yourself so.  Anwen, please, talk to me.”   I nodded at him and pointed over to the swinging arbor covered bench, where the wisteria was just beginning to sprout new leaves.  It was one of my favorite places to sit and think.  Remus maneuvered us over and once we were sitting, I used my left leg to start the gentle back and forth motion.  His arm was draped over the back of the swing, trying to protect me like he did when we were kids, and Sirius had done something to upset me again.  He waited patiently for me to begin.

 

“It’s been a year, but it feels like the war only ended days ago for me,”  I confessed.   You haven’t told anyone about this, Anwen, are you sure that you want to?  I paused to gauge my friend’s reaction.  He only nodded.  “When things ended, I was in a fight for my life, and then the brutal recovery.  I...we moved from crisis to crisis, and I figured if I just kept moving, just kept doing all of the things that people wanted from me I would eventually feel normal again, but I don’t.”

 

That’s the first time that you’ve said this out loud.  You haven’t even told your husband yet.  What if they don’t understand?  What if they think that you’re crazy because you can’t seem to know what to do next?

 

Remus didn’t say anything, he just nodded, and took over propelling the swing.  “Remus, I don’t know how to do this.  I don’t know how to wake up in the morning, and think about a wide open future.”

 

“No one tells you that life after war is harder than the war itself.”  The comment took me aback, and I looked at my dear friend intently.  Does he understand this?  Is he feeling the same way too?

 

“W..Wh...What?”

 

“Anwen, our family was preparing and then fighting a battle for twenty years, you were sixteen when you took that mantle on, when I stop to think about it...we were all at least of age.  You’re entire adult life has been spent this way, it’s no surprise that you’re having a hard time.  Do you even know what you want, now that you don’t have to be protecting anyone?”  He asked the question that I’d been ruminating in my head for weeks.  

 

“There are three things that I can say for certain.  I want to be with my husband and my children.  I...I love them so, I can’t even begin to describe how badly I just want to be with them,”  I explained and I saw that gentle smile that he reserved for his wife emerge on his face.

 

“That I understand,” he confided.  “There are times that I wonder how I had fought against Tee and Teddy.”

 

“Told you,”  I remarked, gladly taking the moment to remind him that I had pushed him into his relationship with his wife and to embrace the wonder of his son.

 

“Yes, Anwen.  Gloating doesn’t look good on you.”  The retort lightened the mood, and I felt confident in going on.

 

“Second, I’m tired of fighting.  I don’t want to be an Auror, I don’t want to teach Aurors, I’m not even sure that I want to be part of the legal system anymore.  The conflict, all of the physical and verbal sparring, it’s left me...” I didn’t even have a word to describe the exhaustion.  “I just don’t want it anymore.”

 

Remus nodded, as if he understood what the prolonged discord had done to my heart and soul.  I was just tired, drained of anything good and wholesome, and instead left with scars and broken battlements.

 

“Finally, I need to really understand my magic,”  I confessed.  What happened in the cave had frightened me, shook me to my very foundations.  I had not intended to hurt them, but I did.  “When it was discovered what I was, my mentors began prepping me for war.  I have been a warrior my entire magical life, but,”  my breath caught in my throat and the air around me suddenly felt tight and heavy.  I was afraid to breathe it in, for it felt like it weighed too much, wasn’t right for my lungs.  Remus put a hand on my back, the spot between my shoulder blades that I could never reach on my own, but yet when it was touched I felt so comforted.  His simple act seemed to help me calm myself.

 

“No one bothered to tell me what to do when I wasn’t fighting anymore.  My magic scares me, I’m afraid that I’ll hurt someone with it, Sirius or one of the children,”  I confessed.  I hadn’t said that aloud to anyone.

 

“Anwen, what you did in the cave, to Umbridge and Greyback...”

 

“I didn’t mean to.”  I cut him off.  “A fleeting thought passed through my brain as I went to immobilize them that I wished that they would have to remember the atrocities that they had heaped upon others, and because what’s in my mind can be in my magic as well, it came true.  I…”  The words weren’t there, not for a long moment while I tried to find a word to describe the despicable nature that was me.  “They’re both trapped that way, no one can pull them out of the perpetual loop of their crimes, playing over and over in their minds.  I made that happen,”  I spat the last few words out, repulsed by myself and my abilities.

 

“Anwen, you were...your child had been taken, you’ve lived through more than any of us have, what happened could have happened to anyone in that situation.  If it had been me in that cave, neither of them would be alive,”  he remarked with brutal honesty.

 

“I wanted to kill them,”  I finally confessed.  “I wanted them dead, I wanted to know that the last thing they would ever see was the rage in my face at the pain they had caused my child.  But I couldn’t do it.  What the hell is wrong with me?”  The words tumbled out of me as the tears cascaded from my eyes.   You can’t even get vengeance right, Anwen.  Remus jolted me to the present when he started laughing.  I couldn’t even speak, I was so surprised by his reaction.

 

“Only you, Anwen, could think that there was something wrong with you because you couldn’t kill someone,”  he told me, and I sat there, looking at my best friend, wondering if he’d lost his mind.  “Anwen, the rest of us would have gone in there, curses flaring and worried about the damage later.  Your soul kept you from killing them, and even with what you did, you exacted justice -- a really creative and unique form of it, but it was justice nonetheless.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Don’t you see, every child that Greyback ever bit, every life he ruined or took, it will be remembered by the one person who doesn’t want to remember.  They will live on in the most powerful way that they can.  Umbridge will need to see every cut, every injury, every time she stepped out of line in her pursuit of power.  There is justice in what you did.”  I needed to think about what he said, take in what he was telling me.  I was still struggling with the idea that my family didn’t loathe me for betraying them so. Using that horrifying magic on them to be seen as only evil was too much for me.

 

We sat there in silence for a long while, neither of us feeling the need to say another word.  In the distance I could hear the sounds of my children’s laughter as they played on the climber and swings on the other side of the house.  Remus kept the swing moving in it’s gentle oscillations, and at some point my body fell into his, leaning against him while I worked out not only what my confessions meant, but also his responses to them.

 

“You know, what I did to them, I always believed that was what hell was like, having to relive the worst moments of your life, when you were selfish and hurtful to other people,”  I finally uttered.

 

“If that’s hell my friend,”  Remus replied, “then what is heaven?”

 

“God telling you that you are still worthy of being loved, even with everything that you’ve done.”  I answered.  There was  another digestive silence after that revelation as well.

 

“You are, you know, worthy of being loved,”  he finally told me, but I shook my head at him.  “That’s really what this is about isn’t it?  You think because you were human and had very normal emotions, you’re not worthy of being loved?”  Hearing him say it out loud was heartbreaking for me, and I realized that all of the pain that I had carried within me for years was still there, raw and angry and only below the surface. 

 

 How could I make him understand, all of them, any of them?  I wasn’t the pillar of strength that they believed me to be, I was weak and fragile.  

 

He didn’t respond to me, and I was afraid to look into his eyes and see what was really there.  We rocked along in silence.

 

“Anwen, I need you to listen to me.  We, all of us, we never stopped to think about how hard it must be on you, but we love you.  I think that we might love you more now that we understand what you’ve been carrying all these years.”  I continued to shake my head at him.  He didn’t push me, we simply sat, him propelling the swing back and forth.  The sun was beginning to dip below the tree line, and a cool breeze was picking up, but I wasn’t ready to move yet.

 

“Winnie, I forgive you, but only on one condition,”  Remus said and I turned my head to look at him.  His eyes were red, but bright as well.  “You have to forgive yourself.”

 

“I can’t until I know that Sirius has,” I told him, plainly.

 

“Anwen, Sirius doesn’t see that he needs to forgive you.”

 

“He must,”  I started.  I had been avoiding my husband because of the things that I felt around him.  He was so ashamed of me, disgusted by my lack of control.  “I can feel it when he looks at me.  I’ve let him down so.”

 

Remus removed his wand, and flourished it, sending a blue-white streak away.  I couldn’t imagine who he was sending a Patronus to, or why, but when he was done, he stowed the wand back in its holster.

 

“Anwen, you’ve read his emotions the right way, but the wellspring you have incorrect.  He is ashamed and disgusted, but not at you, never at you.  He feels that he failed you,” Remus explained and I looked at him, horrified.

 

“Sirius has never failed me, even when he couldn’t remember me he never failed me.”

 

I felt desecrated inside, that my dear husband would try to take this onto himself.  He’s always been there, loved me passionately, and now, because of my shortcomings, he’s punishing himself.  I shouldn’t have pulled away from him, but I just couldn’t bear to have him see what a miserable excuse for a woman I really was.

 

“Winnie, what’s the one word that you’d use to describe Sirius while we were at school?”  Remus asked me gently.  I thought about it for a moment, thinking back to those first days, my first impression of my husband was so strong.

 

“Protector,”  I whispered, understanding where his guilt had come from.  “But he didn’t fail me, he never did.  He’s always been the one thing that was firm in my life, how could he?”  I was weeping for the pain that my love was feeling.  “How could he blame himself?”  I muttered, falling into Remus, unable to keep the grief from seeping out of me.

 

“Because, I didn’t keep you or Ethan safe.  I failed the people I love the most,”  I heard a different voice reply, and through my wet veil, I saw him.  He had walked the same path and stood a few feet away, hands in his pockets, shoulders hunched forward, looking small and broken.

 

“No, never,” I stuttered.  Remus sat me up, unwrapped his arm from me and got up from the swing, Sirius taking his place.  My hands went to my husbands hair, caressing his head and face.  “You did not fail me.  I am the one that failed.”

 

“Anwen, please, stop.  The only person that feels that way is you.  Ethan is home and he’s getting better, please, please stop torturing yourself.”  He was begging, crying, shaking all at once.  I pulled him to me, wrapping my arms around his neck and shoulders as he grabbed my waist.  It was awkward and uncomfortable, but so very necessary.  We eventually shifted so that we were lying on the bench, Sirius cradling my body to his, casting a warming charm on us.

 

“I’m so sorry that I disappointed you,”  I finally whispered.

 

“That’s what you’re afraid of, that you disappointed me?  Anwen, I am in awe of you.  James finally told me what really happened when he was in that hovel they were keeping him in.  How did you keep that, for all this time, and never tell anyone?”  He asked and I thought on it for a moment.

 

“I didn’t have a choice.  Who would I tell without breaking his confidence?  It’s why I’ve kept all of it.”

 

“Yes, well, there are no more secrets.”  Silence settled over us again, but it wasn’t maddening, it had become comfortable and welcomed.

“What about the cave?  You couldn’t be proud of what I did there?”

 

“No, proud wouldn’t be the right word,”  he confessed.  “However, you showed greater restraint than any of us would have, and that was commendable.”

 

“Remus told me the same thing.”

 

“He’s a smart man.  I have only ever been concerned about your actions there because I knew what it was going to do to you.  I knew, from the moment that I felt your rage, that you were going to persecute yourself over your actions; and I wasn’t going to be able to stop you.”

 

“You mean, you’re not...”  his fingers went to my lips, stopping me from speaking.

 

“I’m nothing but worried, because you won’t use magic.  I don’t want my badass witch being afraid of her own skills,” he comforted me, and I really contemplated what had been said to me this afternoon.

 

The sun went down, and the garden was dark, but the stars and the moon lit the sky like  fairy lights.  I didn’t want to leave this place, I simply wanted to lie in the arms of my dearest love, and try to believe what he was telling me.  It wasn’t until I heard his stomach rumble, that I felt any compulsion to move.

 

“I think that we should go and find you something to eat,”  I muttered, shifting myself so that I could stand.

 

“Anwen, are we all right?”

 

“I think, for the first time in a very long time, we might be more than all right.  Come on, lets go and eat something, I need to tell you about the things that I want now, what I want to do now that we’re not at war.  I need to see my children as well.”

 

“Good,” he said as he stood, offering me his hand, which I gladly accepted.  “They’re missing their Mummy.”

 

 

Sirius POV:

 

“Hey, you can’t steal the Quaffle from your Daddy!”  I yelled at Ethan.  We were playing a modified pick up match on the school grounds.  Ethan, John, Lilyan, Jamie, Harry, Ginny, Bastien, Ron and I were in the air, Anwen, Patty and Hermione were on the ground with the youngest two.  Edmund was quite upset that he wasn’t flying, but Anwen had caught him flying in the hallways of the school, and had taken his broom away.  Today was the one year anniversary of the end of the war, and I thought it ironic that some of the most important people in making it happen were avoiding the celebrations and parties, and just playing a quiet game with their family.  Minerva was simply having a feast tonight for the students, nothing more.  We were all trying to move on, and the last things that Anwen needed was a reminder of a year ago.  She didn’t even want to spend time with the extended family, the kids were enough.

 

“Yes, I can, Daddy.  You weren’t paying attention,”  he yelled back, while tossing the ball to his older brother.  Bastien easily scored against Ron.  The bond between the two boys had grown stronger, and I was relieved when Bastien had agreed to live indefinitely in the apartment that I had built for him over the garage at Fairer Garden.  Because of this, we would also be getting another house guest when we moved in at the end of term.  Bastien’s long term girlfriend, Laure D’Autry would be moving in as well.  She had been accepted at the Healer School at St. Mungo’s and would be starting her training there in the fall.  Bastien had explained that he intended to ask her to marry him, once she was moved to England with him.  He would also be starting at the Healer School in the fall, but instead of general medicine, he was becoming a Memories Expert.  His exposure to memory extraction and cataloging for most of his life had spurred an interest, and he thought this would be the most productive way for him to pursue it.  He would learn to help people recovery memories that they had lost, usually due to trauma.

 

We flew around more, I generally stayed out of the way of the eight younger ones,  watching the ease with which my children flew and the amazing speed and grace of Ginny’s flying.  She had done well at the tryouts for the Holyhead Harpies, and had accepted their offer to play for them.  In a move that was rarely done, she wasn’t placed as of yet, instead, she would go to training camp being guaranteed a salary,  and they would then decide if she would be on the reserve team or, in an unheard of idea for new recruits, begin playing on the competition squad.

 

Anwen and I had let Minerva know that we wouldn’t be returning to teaching, and Anwen had resigned her position at the Ministry, effective June 1st.  I would continue on the Council and Wizengamot, but Anwen was done with the law.  There were only one or two known Death Eaters still on the loose, and with the entire Auror department on the hunt for them, it wasn’t going to be long before they were all in the new prison.  Several of the international Wizards had agreed to stay on to teach in the Auror school, and Anwen had said that she was willing to consult on the curriculum.  Anwen had another idea of what she wanted to do, something that she’d never have considered a year ago, but now was a dream that she was willing to entertain.

 

Anwen still wasn’t using magic, except when she was working with Jagjit on ways to control it.  It wasn’t a problem while she was teaching, her students were practicing for their examinations when they were with her, and she could correct and refine their spell casting without doing so herself.  She’d confided that she was fearful of her own power, and wasn’t sure that she would ever feel comfortable with it again.  It saddened me that Anwen couldn’t trust herself, but I recognized that this was a journey she was on, and she had to make her amends with what happened that night.

 

I watched Madame Pomfrey briskly walk into the pitch, and stop to talk with Anwen.  My wife quickly stood, nodding at her, and I flew down and dismounted, listening to what was going on.

 

“...there are just too many babies being born at once, and they can’t move Mrs. Weasley.  Please, Mrs. Potter just flooed, asking if you could come and help.”

 

“Of course, I don’t know what I can do, but I guess after giving birth four times, I have some knowledge here,”  Anwen answered and the school nurse started back toward the castle.

 

“Fleur went into labor, but she’s having extreme pain and bleeding and Molly is afraid to try and move her to St. Mungo’s.  They’ve called for a Healer, but there are too many women in labor at the same time to send someone out.  Lily is there helping her, and they asked if I can go,” she explained to me.

 

“Go on, Aunt Winnie.  Ginny and I can take care of the kids.  We don’t want Ron anywhere near that, he...well he wouldn’t handle it well.  Fire call when the baby is born, please?”  Hermione said and Anwen nodded.

 

“I’ll come with you, dear.  Bill might need someone to talk to,”  I added and Anwen and I walked rapidly to our quarters to floo to Shell Cottage.

 

On arriving we were met by Lily who wasn’t masking her concern well.  When Anwen and I stepped from the floo, Lily went and pulled Winnie to the side of the small sitting room.

 

“Anwen, Fleur isn’t doing well.  Her pulse is thready and...I’m worried about the baby.  Anwen, we need to get it out of her, and we need to do it now.”  Lily said, point blank.  We could hear Fleur’s distressed cries from upstairs.

 

“Fine, but what am I supposed to do?  I don’t know half as much about healing as you do,”  Anwen replied.

 

“Winnie, I need you to visualize the baby out of Fleur’s body,”  Lily said slowly and deliberately and Anwen started shaking her head.

 

“No, I will not...I’m not using my magic, not like that...”  she protested.

 

“Anwen, we need you to.  They can’t get a Healer out here to us anytime soon, and we could lose them both.”  Anwen continued to shake her head.  “Would you let them die because you’re afraid?”

 

Anwen stopped her movement, but stared at her girlfriend, anger hardening her eyes and mouth.

 

“I know that what happened in the cave has upset you, and that you think that you can’t control your magic, but we need to do this.  I need you to do this, you have to help them,” Lily pleaded.

 

“But, what if I fail?”  Anwen whimpered.

 

“You won’t love,”  I promised her as I put my arms around her.  “You can do this, you alone can do this.  I’ll be with you, keep you grounded, but you can do this.”

 

Anwen stood still for a moment, but when we heard another cry from the second floor, this one with greater agony, Anwen nodded and we climbed the stairs.

 

Fleur was thrashing on the bed, and there was a light sheet thrown over top of her, stained with bright red blood.  Bill was at one side of her head, sitting on the edge of the bed while Molly was busying herself by sponging off her daughter-in-law’s head.  Both Weasleys seemed relieved at the sight of my wife.  

 

Anwen took a deep breath and didn’t say anything, she just reached for my hand and then waved the other one over Fleur’s abdomen.  She closed her eyes, and was silent for not more than a moment, and then opened them again.

 

“Give me a blanket or something, please?”  Molly got her a large fluffy towel, and Anwen  spread it wide in her arms.  My wife closed her eyes again, and took a deep breath and then, there was a beautiful little girl lying in the towel.  Molly and Bill cheered, while Lily breathed a sigh of relief before going to begin healing Fleur.  I put my one arm around Anwen’s waist, while she wrapped the little girl in the towel, before handing her over to her father.  When the baby was out of Anwen’s arms, she leaned her body back against me.

 

There were words of thanks, but I could see from Anwen’s face that she wasn’t really hearing them.  She needed to sit down and process what was happening.  We went downstairs, and Arthur was in the sitting room, waiting patiently for news.  I don’t remember seeing him when we got here, but that doesn’t mean much.  We told him that his first granddaughter had arrived, and he got up and hugged us both before taking off for the room upstairs.  When we were alone, Anwen and I sat down, and I held her to me, feeling her wonderment that she’d been able to do what she’d just done.

 

After a while, Arthur, Bill and Lily came downstairs, carrying the little girl.  

 

“Fleur fell asleep, she’s doing better, but I would still like us to move her to St. Mungo’s when she awakes, just to have them check her out,”  Lily explained.  “Molly is staying with her right now.”

 

“I wanted you to meet our daughter, Victoire Belle,” Bill said, laying the little girl in Anwen’s arms.  She stared down at her, and then her breath caught and she looked up at him in surprise.  “We need to have the name of the woman who helped her into this world stay with her.”  I knew that Anwen’s name meant beautiful, as did Belle in French, it was their way of honoring my wife.  Anwen held the little girl, smiling at her, crying gently.

 

“Thank you.” 


Chapter 22: Chapter 21: Rebirth
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Chapter 21:

Rebirth

 

Sirius POV:

 

My God, she is amazing... I was standing in the doorway of the ballroom, watching Anwen dancing with our children.  Today was the twins’ third birthday, and it was the first real event that we were having at our house, now that we were really moved into Fairer Garden.  Anwen wasn’t dancing like she did when she was younger, it was really more like goofy movements to the beat of the song, but it was dancing nonetheless, and it made me happier than I could have imagined.

 

Anwen’s family had arrived from Canada yesterday, and right now, her parents were up in our private sitting room, speaking with the portrait of their youngest daughter.  When the shock wore off from seeing a sentient and conversing version of their long lost daughter, they were thankful for the chance to speak with her.  Her parents were staying in the guest house that was nestled at the edge of the gardens, along with her two brothers.  Haf was spending the summer in England with us, as he would be not only sitting in on the surgery that Anwen was scheduled for after Edmund’s birthday in July, but helping to develop the procedure that they were doing.  A plastic surgeon was going to attempt to remove the scar tissue from her back, but they were hoping to heal the scars magically.   Haf was spending the summer learning about Magical Healing at St. Mungo’s.  Wyn had suffered an injury at the end of the last hockey season, and had decided that he would hang up his skates.  At thirty, he hadn’t done anything but play hockey.  His new career would be working for the club that he’d played for, as an assistant defensive coach.  He had the summer off as well.

 

Liddy and Stephen were also here, and staying in the other guest house with their  four children.  This house was out the back of the main house, not far from the play yard and castle that we’d built for the children.  The castle was a miniature version of Hogwarts, complete with a slide inside that went from the top of Gryffindor tower to the lowest level in what represented the Great Hall.

 

“Mummy,”  John called Anwen, “put on the Submarine one again.  I love that song,”  he told her and Anwen smiled and complied to his request.  John had decided that the Beatles were the best band in the whole world, and would listen to their CD’s over and over.  John was ready for her, as he’d put on his  ‘dancing boots’, a pair of bright yellow rubber boots that he said went with the song.  Anwen put on “Yellow Submarine” again and he started dancing around, doing his own interpretation of the lyrics.  It was the worst dancing that I’d ever seen, but he was enthusiastic.  I leaned against the doorway, nearly doubled over with laughter at our son.

 

I heard Lily come through the floo, well honestly, Lily was quiet, it was the three youngest Potter children that were quite loud.  Evan ran off to find Ethan. Lilyan must have had some sort of sixth sense when it came to Emma, because as soon as her feet touched the floor, Lilyan was pulling her best friend away.  Hope came out last, much quieter than both of her siblings, but took off running when she saw Edmund and Stella out on the patio.

 

“Where’s Prongs?”  I asked her, turning my back on Anwen for a moment.

 

“Emergency meeting at the Ministry.  He’ll be here with King as soon as he can get away, but they’re really hurting without Anwen there.  Neither of them know a thing about the law,”  Lily confided.

 

“Please, don’t tell Winnie.  She’s finally relaxing a little, and I don’t want her feeling bad about leaving her job there.”  Lily nodded as I was speaking.

 

“Sirius, none of us wants her like she was ever again.  She’s much more fun this way,”  Lily said, peeking into the ballroom to see Anwen dancing with several of the children again.  Jamie must have asked her to change the music, as she was now playing her favorite song, something about a birdhouse in your soul from a Muggle band named something Giants.  I’d seen a picture of the guys, clearly none of them had any giant blood in them.  Anwen had pulled her hair up into a long ponytail that bounced behind her, and all I wanted to do was go over and kiss the skin underneath it.  “She’s certainly...a breath of fresh air again.”

 

“Yeah,”  I said with a soft smile moving across me, “she is.”  I noticed that Lily had something in her hands.  “What do you have there?”

 

“Besides the kids’ gifts, I have some photo albums for Anwen to look through.  She lost all of your family pictures, and we’ve been going through mine to find pictures that we can copy for her.”

 

“Those look too old to be of us or our kids?”

 

“Well, they are.  They’re Potter family albums, but they’ve got some great pictures of you and James when you were kids.  I thought that she might like to have a few.  Oh, and don’t get any ideas about going in there and taking the ones of you out, James warded them against you,”  she called back and I couldn’t help the swear that escaped my lips.

 

“Hey,” Anwen said as she greeted Lily.  “Everyone is, well, around.  Tonks and Remus are here, and she’s acting strange, even for her.”

 

“Great, do we ever get a few minutes of just, normalcy?”  Lily asked her and Anwen cocked her eyebrow at her.

 

“Lil, we have nine little children between the two of us, and we married James and Sirius, AND our best friends are a werewolf and a free-spirited metamorph.  Who said normal was in our future?  It won’t be quiet until we’re dead.”  We all laughed and went out to the yard to mingle.  I watched as Lily put her box down, and then she and Anwen linked arms through Tonks’ and headed off on the path into the gardens.  Remus walked over to me when he saw the girls headed off together.  

 

“Want to tell me what’s going on?”  I asked him 

 

“I believe that my wife is about to tell her cohorts in crime there that we’re pregnant with our second child,”  he said, a wide smile spreading across his face.  I grabbed him and hugged him at the news.

 

“That’s brilliant.  Blimey, who would have thought that we’d all end up happily married and with children?”

 

“Sirius, it’s...life is good.”

 

“Yes it is, sir.  Come on, this deserves a butterbeer.”

 

It was just family here, the kids didn’t really have any friends beside the Potter and Lupin kids, for years we couldn’t associate with others easily.  Anwen was determined to change that, now that things seemed to be normalizing for our family.  The Weasleys were here; wives, girlfriends and now kids as well.  It was a great surprise for all of us when Charlie Weasley showed up, to surprise John and Jamie for their birthdays.  The bigger surprise was when he landed his dragon on the Quidditch pitch behind the house, and then proceeded to take all the kids for rides on the Hungarian Horntail’s back.  James and Kingsley, along with Lisette and Renoir had arrived just before dinner and we ate once we got Ma away from Eira’s portrait.  Charlie headed up for a chat after we’d finished eating.  HIs father went to get him for dessert.

 

After dinner we had cake and ice cream and then the kids opened their presents, which was a lesson in opposites, given that John was such a gregarious and outgoing boy, while Jamie was such a quiet and very girly girl.  There was only one gift left, and it was for John from Anwen’s brothers.  She was looking at them rather concerned, so I leaned down to whisper in her ear.

 

“What’s going through your head right now?”

 

“I’m worried,” she confided.  “They’re way too excited to be giving him whatever this is.”

 

We watched as he opened the box that was larger than he was, and when the picture on the front was uncovered, I saw Anwen’s face register shock.  “You bought him a drum kit?”  The pitch of her voice was considerably higher than usual.

 

“Yeah, we’ve got everything else, sis.  We need a drummer,”  Wyn told her and she shook her head.

 

“You two had better pray that you never have children, because I am getting them the loudest, most annoying gifts that I can figure out,”  she promised and as soon as his uncles had the thing out of the box and set up, John started banging away on it.

 

“Maybe we can put it up on the third floor, and put a permanent silencing charm on the room?”  I suggested and Anwen sighed while nodding.

 

Eventually, we all ended up on the porch, sitting around the bonfire that James and I had built.  The kids were running around the play area, while the adults were able to sit in clusters and talk.  I saw my wife and Lily corner Kingsley, and I knew what that conversation was going to entail.  I couldn’t wait to hear about his reaction tonight when Anwen and I were alone.

 

Anwen POV:

 

“You left the Ministry to do...what is that you want to do?”  Kingsley asked me and I breathed in deeply, getting ready to explain it again.

 

“Kingsley, my friend and partner all of these years, we want to open a Magical Primary School.  It would be for children between the ages of 5 and 11, and it would be similar to what the Muggles send their kids to, but also have some basic Magical education in there as well,”  I explained.  Lily was nodding her head.

 

“But, we’ve always let families decide how to prepare their children before Hogwarts,” he said and I nodded.

 

“And they still would be able to,” I affirmed.  “However, for families who wanted something other than homeschooling, this would be a choice.”

 

“Why can’t they just send them to Muggle schools?”  He asked us, and I was beginning to get frustrated; thankfully, Lily chose to speak up instead.

 

“Minister, I think that we can both agree that what happened earlier this spring highlights why we can’t ensure our magical children’s safety when they are at Muggle school.”  We’d made provisions that only certain family members could pick up the children, but it didn’t help when Umbridge was able to Polyjuice herself into Minerva and then confund the school administrator into not calling to check this out with me.  Muggles were simply unprepared for what could happen with Magical children.

 

“True, but, do we really need a Magical Primary School?”

 

“Probably the word need is too strong,”  I started.  “However, think of how much better the children would be when they went to Hogwarts.  Many of our Muggle born children know much, much more than their pureblood or even half-blood counterparts.  Lily and I can both attest to things that we knew that our husbands have no idea about.”

 

Kingsley nodded, and rubbed his head in the way that he did when I knew that he was thinking about something.  He looked at me in that ‘protective, I got partnered with the tiniest woman in the department’ way that I recognized from years ago.  “What do you need from the Ministry?”

 

“Very little.  All we’re asking for is a few rooms at the Ministry so that we can have classes there,”  I explained.

 

“Why at the Ministry building?  Wouldn’t it be better to have the classes somewhere else?”

 

“Eventually, we’d love to, but getting a floo set up for all those different houses to a particular school will be difficult in the few months that we have until the fall.  Every floo can connect to the Ministry, without any problem.  Also, if parents wanted to bring their children into work when they came in, they could and then take them home at the end of the day,”  I explained hopefully.  At least he hasn’t shot down the idea immediately.  “We also appreciate the added security that having the school housed within the Ministry would afford us.”

 

“You know that having it within the Ministry will imply that we support this venture?” he asked, and I smiled a crooked smile at him.

 

“That could be implied,”  Lily said back, coquettishly.  “Please, Kingsley, we have five of us that are willing to teach the classes, and all we want is a chance.  It might fail, but I think that we should try.”

 

“They do this in Canada, you say?” he asked me, and I could tell that we were winning him over.

 

“In Canada and the United States, and it seems to work well for them.  My sister had a much broader knowledge base than many of our children do.”

 

“The Ministry doesn’t have any money to give you for start up costs.”

 

“We don’t need any, we’ve got that covered.”  Lily explained.  The Potters and the Blacks would be footing the bill, but since it was our children that would be most benefitting from it, we figured that was only fair.

 

“All right.  I can give you part of the fourth level.  We moved Magical Creatures to five, so there is room on that floor, but you still need to keep the children contained,”  he warned us but I got up and hugged him.

 

“Thank you, King.  We’re going to announce the new school in a few weeks, and Minerva has helped us identify children who are on the roster for Hogwarts letters in the future.  Any chance that you can be there with us when we meet the press?”  I said, putting on my big puppy dog eyes that I learned from Sirius.

 

“Anwen, answer me one question?” he asked and I nodded, letting him know that I would tell him anything.  “Is this really what you want to be doing?  You’ve always been such an active go-getter.  Are you really going to be happy teaching children?”  I cocked my head to the side, and I could see his concern cover his face. 

 

“Kingsley, you didn’t know me before I was an Auror; but if you had, you’d know that there was nothing in my life that gave me more pleasure than being with the people that I loved.  If there hadn’t been a war, if I hadn’t been pressed into service for the greater good, I would have loved nothing more than being with children.  Know that in my heart, I will most definitely be happy.”

 

“Then that was all that I needed to hear.  Let my office know when your press conference is, I’ll be there.  Good luck you two, I think you’re going to have quite a road ahead of you, but, it should be quite thrilling,”  he said, giving us his blessing.  I hugged him again and kissed his cheek.  I looked over to my husband, who was smiling at me and filling me with his pride.  Life is very, very good.

 

 

Remus POV:

 

“Winnie’s going to meet us here, right?”  Sirius asked me, again.

 

“Yes, Padfoot.  She’s running a little late, but she will most definitely be here.  Come on, let’s go and sit down.  I see everyone else over there.”

 

I pushed Sirius through the crowd, over toward where I saw the Potters, Harry and Ginny, Ron and Hermione, Bill and Fleur, Bastien and his girlfriend from France whose name I still couldn’t get right, Anwen’s brother Haf and my wife.  The only reason we got so many seats together was because of our connections.  Sirius sat down, keeping an empty chair next to him.  

 

“Tell me why we’re here again?” he asked me, and thankfully Tee decided to speak.

 

“Sirius, Broken Broomsticks broke up, but most of the core band was still around.  So they got a few new members and reformed, and we’re here to see them tonight, since it’s Winnie’s favorite band, and she’s having that back thing done in two days.  A last night out before she isn’t going to want to wear clothes and sit in a hard chair,”  Tee told an amazing yarn, which sounded completely plausible.  I’m not comfortable with how well she can lie.

 

“Hey, Uncle Sirius, what do you want to drink?  I’m buying,” Ginny said.  She’d just been told that she would be the first reserve for the Harpies this season, still a feat for a rookie.

 

“Yeah, yeah, got a fancy job and now you’re rolling in gold?” he joked and she nodded.  “How about a Firewhiskey?”

 

“How about a bottle?” she quipped back, getting up from the chair and walking away.  I was shocked when I saw what she was wearing.  From the front her blouse looked fine, but from the back you could tell that deep purple top was really a rectangle of fabric that had two small straps across her back, one at the neck and the other across her middle back.  They looked like shoelaces tying the thing to her.  You could see her tattoo galloping across the small of her back. She’d paired it with the shortest skirt I had ever seen.  

 

“Our daughter is never dressing like that,”  I whispered to my wife.

 

“Love, if she’s seventeen and dating the most eligible bachelor in all of England, then she will most definitely dress like that,”  she quipped back.

 

Ginny returned with three bottles of Ogden’s Best Aged Firewhiskey and a whole stack of glasses, as well as bottle of apple juice for Tee.  Pumpkin juice had not been agreeing with her, and it seemed that this was what our daughter was craving.

 

It was only moments before the show was to start, and Sirius was again looking around for Anwen.  He tried to get up and go look for her, but I assured him that she would find us.  “She was coming from a meeting at the Ministry.”

 

Sirius took it as an answer, but then I could see him thinking about it, remembering that it was Saturday.  He opened his mouth to question me, when thankfully the lights went down and the bar was dark.  There was a cheer in the crowd, and Tee was whistling along with them.  She and I had already seen the band, a few weeks ago, and they were great.

 

The band took the stage, but it was still dark when the opening chords of the first song started.

 

“Merlin’s undershorts, look at the lead singer,”  Ron said, and I nearly spit out my drink.  It was still dark, but you could see her silhouette.  “She’s hot.”

 

“I know that body,”  Sirius proclaimed, dropping his glass onto the table.  His eyes were glued to the stage, watching and listening intently.  I wanted to see if anyone else figured it out, but watching Sirius was far too entertaining.  When the chorus of the opening song started, the stage lights flashed on; and there was Anwen, microphone in hands, singing with the band.  Our group starting cheering wildly, well everyone but one...

 

Ron squealed in horror when he realized that he’d just called Anwen hot.

 

 

Sirius POV:

 

Oh my God, that’s my wife!  I couldn’t take my eyes off her.  She was standing on the stage, singing this amazing, rocking song; gyrating her hips and getting the crowd going, and all that I could think is that my effing wife!

 

She looks amazing, I thought as I greedily took her in.  Her hair had been curled and teased up, and honestly if I didn’t know better, I’d say we’d just got done having sex by the looks of it.  She had on a little makeup, mostly just lipstick to make her lips look redder and more pronounced.  She had a skin tight, long sleeve lace blouse on with a tight leather vest over the top.  She was wearing bright red pants that looked like they’d been painted on her, and her lace up black boots and the entire thing was...I can’t even describe it, however, my body certainly knows what it wants to do with her right now.  I had to shift in my chair to adjust things, given how painful my reaction had become.

 

The first song ended and I looked around at our group, and nearly everyone was as surprised as I was, except for Tonks and Moony.

 

“You knew?”

 

“Yeah,” he confessed.  “She needed help with her alibi.”

 

“I’m...speechless.”

 

“I can tell, Padfoot.”

 

We sat back as they started into another song, this one I knew.  It was an old song, recorded by a Muggle band, and when she got going in it, I couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped me, especially when my wife purred on stage “I look inside myself, and see my heart is black”.  I knew that it wasn’t what the song was supposed to be about, but the double meaning with her singing it was breathtaking.  She was amazing and I was in awe.

 

The song ended, and Nigel Nottingham, the guitar player and apparently new singer took over the lead on a few songs, and Anwen went and sat down at the keyboards to play.  She looked over at me and our eyes met, and she smiled the most amazing, heartfelt and tooth-bearing smile that I could remember seeing on her.

 

“How the hell did I not know about this?”  I asked rhetorically.

 

“She wasn’t sure that it would work out, and she was afraid to disappoint you,” Tonks explained and I felt horrible that Anwen was worried about my reaction.  I was thrilled, she reminded me so of the girl that I fell in love with.

 

They played for another thirty minutes or so, Anwen and Nigel going back and forth with the singing duties.  Several of the songs were rather randy in nature, but Anwen’s eyes were always trained on mine.  They did one more amazingly upbeat and danceable song, and then announced that they would be taking a brief break, but that they’d be back for a second set.  Within minutes of finishing, Anwen was at our table, sliding down next to me.

 

“Please, tell me that you’re not upset at me for not telling you about this?” she asked before her bottom hit the chair or I could greet her properly.

 

“Anwen, I am not upset,”  I told her in no uncertain terms.  “That was...you are...I’m blown away.”

 

“Anwen, he’s been eye-fucking you the whole time you were up there,”  her brother announced, and Anwen was gobsmacked at her little brother’s language.

 

“Well, then...um....” she stammered.

 

“Yes, well, my brother announced that you were hot too,”  Ginny blurted out, and Ron reached over to smack her, but Ginny ducked and Ron instead slapped Laure on the chest, rather near her breast.  Bastien did not look amused.

 

“Sorry,” he muttered, turning as red as Anwen’s slacks.

 

“Okay, well, how um, delightful,”  she announced, looking down at the table.

 

“Anwen, you’re really good up there.  How did you end up working with them?”  Lily asked her, thankfully changing the subject.

 

“Their former lead singer and the keyboard player both fled the country last year.  One was Muggle born, the other half-blood and since they could, they chose to leave.  They moved to New Zealand together and took up Emu farming.  They apparently like it so well, they decided to stay.  Nigel had said that he was planning on calling me to do some guest vocals anyway, so when the band was ready to start playing again, he gave it a shot.  I was surprised when I got the owl, but it was something that made sense to me, so I decided to try,”  she explained.

 

“Well, Win, you’re amazing.  That was, really entertaining,”  James told her and Anwen blushed.

 

The family talked for a while, and Haf questioned her on how she was feeling, physically.  Anwen confessed that she generally felt good, but there were times that her back was still tight and she’d move the wrong way and be in immense pain.  She was also a little frustrated at her leg, she didn’t have complete control over it.  The drummer came out and held up three fingers, and Anwen nodded.

 

“Three minutes until the next set, I should go back and check myself.  You’re sure you’re not upset at me?” she questioned again.

 

“Winnie, my dear love, anything that makes you smile like that,”  I told her and she did it again.  “Anything that gives you that much joy, I could never be upset at.  I understand why you chose to keep it from me, and I am not upset.”  I leaned over and kissed her, relishing just how wonderful it was to have my girl back.  

 

“Okay then, the second set is a little slower, especially at the end.  I also took a stab at song writing, like by myself, so be kind.  When you hear it, you’ll know which one it is.  I’ll see you all later,”  she told us, getting up and walking backstage.  I couldn’t help but enjoy the view as she was leaving as well.  It irked me that several men did the same thing.

 

“You really had no idea that my sister was doing this?”  Haf asked me and I shook my head.

 

“I knew that something was making her happy, I could feel that she was joyful and there were times that it was just radiating off of her -- I guess that’s when she was rehearsing, but, I didn’t know it was this.  Your sister has always been able to surprise me,”  I confessed and Haf smiled.

 

“You know, Mom and Dad weren’t sure about you, when you wouldn’t marry Anwen back when I was little, they thought that you were just stringing her along and she was always so sad when she’d come to visit,”  Haf explained.

 

“That was never me,”  I told him.  “I wanted to marry her the day I proposed.”

 

“Really?  My parents don’t know this,” he confirmed, looking perplexed.

 

“I know, it doesn’t really matter now, I hope they like me now?”

 

“Sirius, you’re their son now, no questions asked.  You love my sister, and that’s all they need to know,”  he told me as the lights went down.

 

The band came out and opened with another rousing song, this time, Anwen had her guitar with her.  She looked funny, playing with her left hand, like she was some sort of odd mirror in the middle of the stage.  

 

Winnie stepped up to her mike, and announced that this was a cover of a Muggle song, but it was dedicated to all of the girls who ever had to live with an overprotective man in their lives.  When she roared “I’m just a girl, oh little old me,” Hermione, Ginny, Fleur and Tonks all cheered her on.   Lily was smiling knowingly and even Laure seemed to appreciate the lyrics, although she was quite reserved in her response.

 

They did a few more songs, older ones that I knew from their early days, including the one that I’d played along with for our party the day we were married.  Anwen was sitting on a stool, singing backups at that point, but she smiled brightly at me, several times biting her bottom lip, so that I knew she was feeling the lusty feelings I was having toward her.  We will not be getting much sleep tonight.

 

The music did indeed begin to quiet down, and the younger couples got up and started dancing with each other, leaving me at the table with my best mates and their wives and her brother.  I wanted to say something to them, but I couldn’t take my eyes from Anwen.  They started another song, this one had a tempo that reminded me of the music we’d heard when we were visiting Persian wizards years ago, while she was working as an Auror.  Anwen stood singing, but she was moving her hands, and it reminded me of how transfixed I was when I first saw her dance.  Her hands had their own intricate patterns.

 

The kids were all back by the time Winnie stepped to the microphone and announced that this was their last song, and they thanked everyone for coming.  They would be back in two weeks, and I knew that I would as well.  If for no other reason than the fact that I didn’t like the way some of the blokes in this place were looking at her.  Not that I had anything to worry about, I just didn’t like it.

 

“This song is dedicated to my big brother, who had enough sense to remind me that if I loved someone, that meant I was also worthy of being loved back,” she said, and I could read the startled wonder on Moony’s face.  She remained sitting on the stool as she sang, her voice quiet and almost ethereal, vasty different than the way she’d roared through some of the electric guitar–laden songs of earlier this evening.

 

She looked down as she began singing, and unlike the rest of the night, avoided eye contact with any of us, and as we listened to the lyrics about forgiveness and the power of love, I knew that this must be the one that Anwen wrote.  I could hear several women struggling to contain their tears as she sang about having to keep her secrets hidden for the sake of never making waves; but then replied that there was nothing dark enough in her that forgiveness could not rescue her from.

 

Everyone in the bar knew what she’d endured after the battle, she was as big of a story and hero as Harry had been, and they were all stunned into silence at the poignancy of her musical proclamation that she was still alive and could feel her healing.

 

She finally met my eyes, and hers were damp, as were mine, as she sang about the power of love.  I couldn’t help it, I got up and started walking toward her, never breaking my gaze from her.  By the time the song ended, I was standing right in front of her, nearly breathless at what I’d just witnessed.  How can someone so small have so much strength?

 

The crowd began clapping, and Anwen simply tipped her head at them and then walked off the stage.  It couldn’t have been thirty seconds before she walked herself into my arms.

 

“I don’t have words, my love,”  I confessed.

 

“I did that for me.  I...I’m finally awake, Sirius.  I have been sleep walking though my life this last year, just trying to...I needed to proclaim what I knew to be true.  Love conquers  all.”

 

“That it certainly does,” I muttered to her crown and I could feel her squeeze me tighter.  I kept my arm around her as we made our way back to the family, people stopping to tell her how good the music was, and two even asked for her autograph, which she did even while looking bemused.  The family was still mostly gobsmacked when we arrived to them, Remus having no words, just standing and wrapping his arms around her and hugging her tightly.

 

Anwen had a glass of Elderflower wine, which she didn’t usually do, but Haf promised that one glass wouldn’t interfere with her medications too much.  She also drank down three glasses of water in rapid succession, explaining that she felt horribly dry from sweating on stage.

 

“But, you don’t look like you’re sweating?”  Haf asked her and she laughed at him.

 

“Magic, dear brother, magic.”  She opened her hand and I watched as a ponytail holder materialized there.  It was the first time I had seen her conjure anything in a very long time.  She pulled her hair up and wrapped the small band around it.  Then I saw it, the most beautiful butterfly was spread across the nape of her neck, its wings extending to her hairline, and down almost to her shoulders.  It’s wings were colorful and they glistened and shimmered in the lights of the bar.  Through its body there was a rune.  I gently brought my fingers up to touch it.  Anwen looked at me and smiled.

 

“I got that today, just before I came here.  It’s symbolic of rebirth, which is what the Rune means as well.”

 

“It’s stunning,” I told her.  “Why?”

 

“Butterflies start out life as little caterpillars.  They move among the plants, doing what they have to do to survive.  Then they spin themselves this little cocoon, and they hide inside, letting their magic take hold.  When they emerge, they break free of their hard, confining little house and quite literally spread their wings and take flight.  I though that it was an apt metaphor for me.”

 

“Oh, Winnie,”  I whispered, lifting her off her chair and placing her in my lap so that I could hold her tighter. 

 

She put her hands on my face and leaned her forehead onto mine.  “I was so lost, it was dark and cold and I didn’t even know how much pain I was in until I started letting myself heal.  I refuse to ever be there again, and my butterfly will remind me of that.  I don’t know how I made it through, but I know that it has everything to do with you.”

 

I lifted my head so that I could kiss her, and it was a passionate one.  The depth of what I could feel in her had me far more intoxicated than the whiskey I’d drunk.  I only broke away from her when her brother cleared his throat.

 

“Don’t worry about it, Haf,” Harry said.  “They’re always like this.  Honestly, they’ve been together longer than anyone else at the table, and they still act like they’re newlyweds,” he added, sounding somewhat unnerved.

 

“But your parents were married first?”  Bastien asked and Lily started shaking her head.

 

“Yes, we were, but what you see there, that depth of devotion, that was there from the beginning of their relationship.  Completely freaky,” she added and Anwen swatted her friend lightly.  “You’ll learn to ignore them when they get all wrapped up in each other this way.  We all have.”

 

“So, you gonna show us that new tattoo, Aunt Winnie?”  Hermione asked and Anwen stood, lifted her ponytail up and showed them all.  “How many is that?”  Anwen stopped and I could see her counting in her head, her finger moving as if she was pointing them out, but not really, given where some of them were.

 

“Six.”  Ginny started doing the same mental gestations, and she looked at my wife perplexed.  Anwen sat back down on my lap as the redhead asked.  “Wait, I only get five.  Where are they?”

 

“Okay, in the order I got them.  The first is on my shoulder blade, and its for Shelter.  The second is my magical one of Sirius’ name,” she said, as she stroked it, making it appear from under her sleeve.  “Third, I’ve got the griffin on my back, from our honeymoon.  Fourth is the falcon on my hip,” she said also touching that spot.  “Then there is the butterfly and Padfoot’s paw print,”  she added very quietly and I was shocked she’d included it.

 

“Where is that one?”  Tonks asked her and Anwen just blushed and looked up, trying very hard to feign innocence.

 

“You tattooed your...”she said, and with a slight nod, Anwen had succeeded in surprising my cousin.  “I can’t believe that you...holy...honestly, it really is all about sex with you?”  Anwen just shrugged, which made me want her even more.

 

“You have to be the coolest stepmother on the planet,” Bastien mused, and I could feel how happy the comment made her.

 

“Well, love,” she whispered in my ear.  “Since it’s all about the sex anyway, how about if we head home?”

 

“What a splendid idea, love.” 


Chapter 23: Chapter 22: Fresh Start
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Chapter 22:

Fresh Start

 

Harry POV:

 

I was sitting with my Dad and Uncle Remus, watching Uncle Sirius pace back and forth in the waiting room of St. Mungo's.  Aunt Anwen was having the scars on her back operated on today, and he wasn't taking it well.  I suppose that if it were Ginny, I wouldn't be taking it well either, especially if she'd been as sick as Aunt Winnie had been this year, but really, can't he sit down and wait, rather than making us all anxious?  Which one of us is a cat here again?

 

“Padfoot, sit down, you're going to wear the floor away,” my Dad suggested, but Uncle Sirius wanted nothing to do with it.

 

“I can't sit, they're in there cutting her up, and the last time I let Muggles cut into her...” he said, and I furrowed my brow, not sure what he was talking about.  They hadn't done any surgery on her last summer.

 

“Sirius, you didn't have any control of what happened to her then.  She was fourteen, come on now, this isn't at all the same.  Her brother is in there for Merlin's sake.  Sit down before you make us all barmy,” Dad responded.

 

“What happened when she was fourteen?”  I asked and Uncle Remus turned to me.

 

“You know your Aunt Winnie was an actress, right?”  I nodded at him.  “She developed a serious infection and took ill at the theater.  The wizard that was to watch her while she was in London wasn't there when she took ill, so they took her to a Muggle hospital, and they did surgery on her.  It wasn't pretty, they butchered her body up and she was sick for months afterwards.  Anwen has been leery of Muggle medicine since,” he explained and I nodded at him.  Think I would be too.

 

We sat quietly and waited, well, except for Uncle Sirius.  A little time later, Ginny came in, carrying a big basket.  I wasn't sure what I was more excited about, Ginny or food.

 

“What are you doing here?”  I asked her as I stood to greet her.  “I thought that you had practice today?”

 

“I did, but we got out early when it started pouring in Holyhead.  I need to go back and go to the gym, but I wanted to see how Aunt Winnie was doing; and I figured that you lot would be hungry.  Guess I was right, given how you're eyeing up my basket,” she teased, wiggling her eyebrows.

 

“I love your basket, sweetie,” I responded and kissed her again; then I took the basket and opened it.  Meat pies, crisps, fruit and cookies; there were even a half a dozen bottles of butterbeer in here.  “Perfect, did you make all of this?”

 

“Honestly, Harry, what do you think?”  she asked me, putting her hands on her hips.  “My Mum did it.  She sent a whole buffet over to the Manor.  Honestly, does she think your Mum can't cook?”

 

“I would rather think that she's just trying to help,” Dad explained to her and my beautiful girl gave a non-committed shrug.  I took a moment to look at her, and was again struck at how stunning she was.  Her tee shirt fit just tight enough, and left just a little skin open for me to touch between the end of it and the top of her skirt.  The skirt was short, falling to just above her knees, showing me just how her Quidditch training was helping tone her already lean body.  When she turned around to face Uncle Sirius, I wasn't sure if I was more enticed about what the skirt did for her bum or the way I could just see a little of her tattoo.

 

“How are you holding up?” she asked my godfather, laying a hand on his arm and her head on his shoulder.  It's hard to forget that she's as close to them as I am.  Aunt Winnie has always loved Ginny, almost as if she was her own sister or something.  Uncle Sirius shrugged, and Ginny just stayed there, comforting him.  “She'll be fine, better than fine actually, when this is done.  Just you wait and see.  Come on, eat something, I don't want her or my Mum being upset that I didn't take care of you while she couldn't,” she teased and he leaned down and kissed the crown on her head.

 

“Take care of her there, kiddo.  This one is a keeper,” he said, but before I could respond with something sweet, Ginny answered him.

 

“Actually, I'm a Chaser.”  We all laughed.

 

“You know, your Aunt Winnie used the same joke when she was younger,” he added, not really happy, but not sad either.  Ginny coaxed him into eating and the mood seemed to have lightened while she was here.  She isn't just my sunshine.

 

It wasn't long before Aunt Winnie's Healer came out, and said that it was over and that they thought that they were successful.  Uncle Sirius looked relieved when he was told the news, and then he was taken away, to go and see his wife.  Ginny leaned over and laid her head on my shoulder and took my hand between her two, the other one I wrapped around her.

 

“You think when we've been together that long, that we'll still need each other the way they do?” she whispered.

 

“I have no doubt, Gin.  I will always need you, love you and want you as much as I do right now,” I replied.  She tilted her head up at me, with the most seductive grin on her face.

 

“And, exactly how much do you want me Mr. Potter?  Can we make it home or should we just find an empty broom closet?”  I couldn't believe her question, but I was delighted with it nonetheless.

 

“We can make it home, seeing as you really should warm up before you work out.  Lots of stretching and bending is clearly required,” I said back mischievously.

 

“By all means then, there is nothing better than warming up with you,” she answered and we quickly left my Dad and Uncle Remus behind.  From the looks on their faces, they clearly knew what we were up to.

 

 

Sirius POV:

 

I walked into the recovery room, and saw Haf, sitting with his sister.  Anwen was on her side, and I could tell by looking at her, she wasn't wearing any clothes.  I went to say something, but he stood instead and started talking.

 

“There's some charm or something on her, and no one can see her naked,” he explained and I calmed down a little.  “Things went well and by the looks of it, she's healing as she should.  There may be some faint scarring, but nothing like the welts that she had before.  The muscle layers have been healed as well, so in the long run, her pain will be decreased.  She's going to hurt for a few days, while everything is knitting back together.  Come here and see what they did.”

 

I walked around to the other side of the bed, and looked at Anwen's back and gasped.  It looked like she had thousands of tiny stitches sewn into her back, the thread they had used looked black against her pale skin.

 

“Before you get upset, those are self dissolving stitches.  The plastic surgeon put them in, and then special healing charms were set in place by her regular Healer.  The whole process will take about five days, but when they are gone, Anwen will feel much better,” he promised.  I lifted my hand and gently touched her, her skin felt like it was on fire.  I looked at Haf and then the Healer who’d followed me in, worriedly.

 

“There is so much magic, as well as blood flow to the area that it feels quite warm, but that just means that she's healing,” Haf promised me.  “Sirius, go on and sit down, she isn't going to wake for a while and you look like you're going to pass out, man.”

 

I obeyed his order, and sat down in the chair near Anwen's face.  She looked remarkably peaceful.

 

“Mr. Black, your brother-in-law has done some amazing things here, may have created a whole new branch of medicine – Magical/Muggle Medicine.  You should be quite proud of him, and the lengths that he went to in order to help your wife,” Healer Orlaf said, and I was indeed grateful to Haf.  The Healers left, leaving me alone with Anwen.

 

I stroked the hair away from her beautiful face, and sat and watched her sleep.  It was as enthralling as the first night that I did it in the Gryffindor common room.  I never told her that she’d dozed off that first night, for about 15 minutes, and I just sat there and watched her.  There were other girls that had fallen asleep in various places, after we’d gotten done with our activities; but I had never wanted to watch them sleep the way I did with Anwen.  I never allowed myself to fall asleep with any of them either.  Being that relaxed and safe was something that belonged to my wife alone.

 

The stress of the day seemed to be catching up with me, and now that I knew she was safe, the nervous energy that had kept me awake had drained away.  I took her hand in mine and kissed her sweet lips, and then laid my head down next to her, and let the safety of knowing she was there lull me to sleep.

 

Anwen POV:

 

“Lil, he’s gonna drive me daft,” I explained to my best friend.  We were sitting under the pergola off the ballroom at Fairer Garden.  My surgery had gone well, and we were all pleased with the results.  There were faint scars on my back, still slightly pink and warm, but compared to what I had felt just ten days ago, I was happy.  The new primary school would be starting in three and a half weeks, and we’d had our first staff meeting this morning.  Now, I was complaining about my husband to my best friend.  I really wanted Sirius to go back to his curse breaking and warding business, just to keep him out of my hair.  He was giving me a hard time about it.

 

“Anwen, he’s just…” she started while she was sorting supplies that we’d ordered for the school.  

 

“Do not say worried, or I will hex you Lily Potter.  He needs to get over it.  I am fine.”  I was tired of his constant need to be hovering over me.  I really was getting better.  

 

Lily and I were pleased with the progress that we’d made on the school so far.  We’d subdivided the space the Ministry had provided into five distinct classrooms, as well as a multi-purpose larger space for physical education and lunch.  There was a small room that we’d built as well, a sort of nursery for our children who were too young to come to school.  I got up and walked over to check the individual crates that we’d packed for each room.  Everything seemed to be in order, and while this was my idea and I had been made the coordinator for the whole thing, I really did feel like we were a team that was making this go.  Lily and I had spoken with Eira’s roommate from school, Audra Boucher, about her experience in the Canadian Primary system, and to Brandon Goodman, about his in the American.  We then had taken what we learned, threw in what we knew about our own primary school experiences, and had come up with a plan that worked for the people and space we had.

 

“It looks like we’re ready.  I’ll have Sirius take these over and put them away at the school.  That will give him something to do today, rather than try and ‘take care’ of me,” I sighed and sent my Patronus off.  He was thrilled when I asked him to do something, and went right to work getting it done.  I was thrilled he didn’t see it as busy work.  Lily and I sat back down, and I conjured some very cold iced tea, and we both smiled at the wonderful benefits of having all of my magic back again.  I leaned back against the seat, and then forgot that since I was wearing a halter top that left my entire back open to facilitate healing, the cushions on the chairs would be quite warm.  “Yikes, that stings,” I quipped before I put a cooling charm on the chair and a healing one on my back.  Most of the stitches had indeed fallen out, but there still were a few dotted along on my back.  

 

“Yeah, yeah, we all can’t get away with wearing shirts like that.  Honestly woman, you did have five children, right?”  Lily asked and I just smiled at her.  The physical therapy for my leg had done wonders for my waist and abs.  I wasn’t complaining.

 

“Yeah, I did, you were there for all of them.  Sorry, I’m just built this way, good thing too, since Sirius...”

 

“Don’t even finish that sentence, please,” she begged and I stopped.  “Hey did you get to go through those photo albums yet?”

 

“You know, I haven’t had time...” I started to tell her, and then we heard a commotion in the house, and my name being called.  The children were all out in the play yard with Patty, so I had no idea who was in the house.  I got up as quickly as I could, but there were still motions that were anything but fluid with my prosthetic leg.  One of them was getting up from a sitting position.  Before I was completely standing, Ginny was bursting through the doors from the ballroom, looking liked she’d been arguing with someone; her face was red and swollen and her neck was full of tension.

 

“Ginny honey, what happened?”  I asked her as she came in.  Lily stood and put an arm around her.

 

“What did my son do now?”

 

“It wasn’t Harry,” Ginny told us as she shook her head.  “I had to go to the Ministry today, to make plans for the wedding, and between my mother and that woman in the Minister’s office, I really wish Harry and I would just run away and elope.”

 

Ginny flopped herself down in a chair and looked drained and weak from the whole experience.  Lily and I sat down in the chairs on either side of her, and I conjured her some iced tea.  “I know, sweetheart, I remember how hard it can be,” I soothed her.  

 

“Pru wouldn’t bother me so much, if my mother would just ease off a little.  Why can’t she be more like you, Lily?” Ginny asked Harry’s mother, and Lily and I looked at each other, got the same knowing smile, and then looked at the young witch.

 

“It’s easier for me, dear.  Harry is my son, not my only daughter.  I also knew that I’d lost him to what the public wanted from him years ago.  This is the one chance your Mum has to have a wedding for her daughter, its a completely different thing,” Lily soothed her, stroking the hairs back on her head and rubbing her shoulders.

 

“Why don’t you tell us what the problems are, and we’ll see if we can help?  Lily had to deal with her own Mum and Mrs. Potter when she got married and I had, well, Pru and the whole Ministry.  We’ve been down this road before,” I told her and she wiped the tears from her cheeks and started talking.

 

“Harry and I aren’t stupid,” she started, “we knew that our wedding was going to be a big deal.  He’s the savior of the Wizarding world whether he wants to be called it or not.”  I knew that Harry would hate the term, but she was right, Harry would wear that mantle for the rest of his life.  “We like the idea of what the three part wedding does for a couple, that we’re bound for eternity; it seemed fitting since it was our love that brought him back ...” she seemed lost in her thoughts about that night.  I understood though, Sirius and I would have either come back together, or gone on together.

 

“Everything is good with the first two parts of the ceremony.  Mum and I had a little squabble about something for the handfasting, but when Harry and I explained it to her, she was fine,” Ginny rambled and I looked at her oddly.  There isn’t a whole lot of wiggle room on that ceremony; it’s nearly a thousand years old and really rather short.

 

“Harry and I want you and Uncle Sirius to be the last couple that comes up, the ones who put the final cords around us, seeing as you’re the only bound couple that we know,” she explained and my hand sprung to my mouth as my cheeks were suddenly damp.

 

“Oh, Ginny,” I whispered before I leaned over to hug her.  I looked at Lily and she had a pleased look on her face, as if she already knew this bit of information.  

 

“Harry wants to talk with Uncle Sirius, so could you just not say anything until he does?”

 

“Of course, but given what I just was feeling,” I said while wiping my cheeks, “he’s going to quiz me.”

 

“I’ll get in touch with Harry soon, maybe he can arrange a time to work on his Animagus or something with him, so that they’re alone.  Harry walked around with his hand stuffed in his pocket the other day for like, three hours at home, until I pulled it out and realized that he had a paw there.  Couldn’t get himself out of it, because it was his wand hand.  It was comical,” Ginny said with a giggle and Lily and I joined her, imagining the sight of Harry with a lynx paw.

 

“Okay, well,” I said, trying to get back to the matter at hand.  “If the first two ceremonies aren’t the problem, then it must be the third.”

 

“It is.  We didn’t want to have it at the Ministry, because well, we’d lose a whole lot of control.  Mum wanted us to have it at the Burrow, but it’s New Year’s Eve, and we have no choice but to have it outside at home,” she explained, and I could understand her apprehension about an outdoor wedding in December.  “James and Lily had offered us the Manor, but we thought that it might be a bit too much to ask of my Mum to have it there, she wouldn’t mean to be, but she’d get jealous.  So, we decided to have it at Grimmauld.  The house is beautiful, you and Uncle Sirius did some amazing things with it, and the ballroom would work, but we are somewhat limited in how many people can comfortably fit in there.  This is where the arguments come in.”

 

“I think I see where you’re going.  Pru wants you to invite more Ministry people to the wedding, and your Mum is unwilling to trim family to accommodate them?” I questioned her.

 

“How did you know?”

 

“Sweetheart, I’ve been there, done that.  Maybe you need to find another place to have the wedding.  In order to have the ceremony at Grimmauld, you’re going to have to drop the wards; that’s a rather tall order,”  I told her and she nodded.

 

“I know, but we figured that James and Uncle Sirius could put them back,” she told us and we nodded.

 

“Well, the Manor is still yours to use,” Lily suggested, but Ginny shook her head.  “I have an idea, what about Hogwarts?  You and Harry fell in love there, it’s large enough, and face it, everyone can get in.  Can you imagine walking down the stairs to the Great Hall in your wedding dress?”  Lily asked her and Ginny’s eyes got wide.

 

“Lily, it’s perfect.  Harry loves Hogwarts, and we could be married and then have the dancing and dinner there, I just need to talk with Harry about it, since he has some rather strong memories of that room.  But, let’s be honest, can you think of a better way to bury those memories once and for all?” Ginny asked, popping up.  I didn’t think that either of us could.  “Oh, Lily, it’s perfect,” she added as she hugged her soon to be mother-in-law.

 

“Glad to help, sweetheart.  Go find my son and talk with him and if this works, I’ll help you talk with your Mum and the Ministry lady, and then we can talk with Minerva,” Lily promised, and soon Ginny was off and running back to the floo.

 

“Ah, if all problems were solved that easily,” I quipped and we both laughed.  We talked a while longer, until Sirius came back from bringing all of the boxes over to the Ministry for us.  Granted, he’d shrunk them and carried them all at once, but it took him a while to figure out where everything went once he got there.  Ginny returned a short time later, Harry in tow this time.

 

“Hi, honey.  Where were you today?” his mother asked him as she stood to greet him.  Lily had been having trouble with the idea that Harry was living with his girlfriend, on their own now.  She felt like he’d grown up too fast, she didn’t want to give this summer up.  James had convinced her that she needed to.

 

“Eh, around.  Ron was over,” he said and Lily got that mothering look on her face.

 

“Hermione was wondering where he went.  She was getting all of her things ready to move into her own flat, and had hoped that Ron would help her pack.”

 

“Well,”  Harry started, “he would have, except that she wants things packed a very particular way and Ron wasn’t doing what she wanted, and she was yelling at him yesterday, so he decided to hide in my house, instead of face her.  Honestly, you think it was his mother not his girlfriend.”

 

“Be careful what you say about his mother,” Ginny warned.

 

“Yeah, I know, you love your Mum, just like I love mine,” he told her as he hugged Lily, Harry dwarfed his petite mum now, but she loved that he would still hug her and kiss her and tell her that he loved her.  “Thanks for the Hogwarts idea, it’s great, and it will make things easier on everyone.”

 

“I’m just surprised that no one thought of it sooner.  Why don’t you go and say hello to your little sisters and brother.  They’re all down in the play yard with the Black kids and Patty,” Lily suggested and Harry sighed.

 

“She’s down there with all of them.  Honestly, you should give that woman hazard pay.”

 

We laughed at Harry’s joke, and he took off down the crushed shell path.  Ginny settled back down to talk with us about the wedding plans, and Sirius came and slid behind me in the chaise, and gently pulled me against him.  His arms encircled my waist and his long legs covered mine and I could feel his sensuous love for me.  I closed my eyes, and unfortunately, audibly purred in happiness.  I could hear Sirius chuckle as he put his lips next to my ear and whispered in it.

 

“You know, you’ve never been a kitten for me, but you’re certainly a little minx, aren’t you?  Perhaps we should leave and be alone for a few minutes?”

 

“No, Sirius.  We can wait until the family leaves.”

 

“Damn.”

 

Lily and Ginny had a good laugh at our expense, but they were well aware of our relationship.  I wasn’t going to apologize, there aren’t many couples who are married as long as we have been and still wanted each other this much.  It was nice.

 

 

 

August turned to September and on September first, I found myself standing with Lily, Molly, Andromeda, Patty and Luna Lovegood as we opened the doors to the first ever, Wizarding Primary School in Great Britain.  I couldn’t believe how nervous I was, it was worse than an opening night in the theatre.  We had seventeen children enrolled to be part of the school the first year, which we were pleased with.  Only 6 of them had the last name of Potter or Black.

 

We got the children in and settled into their rooms, only three cases of crying when parents left and one small accident when a child couldn’t figure out where the loo was; so I figured that we were off to a good start.  I had settled in to check on the three owls that had already arrived from parents, asking me how things were going, when a note zoomed in and landed in front of me.  I hate these interdepartmental memos. I thought I was through with them.  I opened it up and was informed that the Minister of Magic would be joining us for lunch today.  I should have known that was coming.  I wonder if he’ll bring the press with him?  The morning went well, and very quickly.  There wasn’t much learning going on today, we didn’t think that there would be, instead the children and teachers were simply getting used to their surroundings and each other, for the little ones, simply being away from Mum and Dad.  We had decided that for the first few weeks, I wouldn’t be teaching anything, just dealing with the administration of the school and the needs of the children.  Since my primary responsibility was languages, it wasn’t imperative that we start right away with them.

 

A half an hour before our lunch time, I heard the chime go off to let me know that there was someone outside the door that didn’t have the password.  Parents of the children were all given the word, but other than staff, no one was allowed in without being escorted, ensuring the safety of our children.  As you entered, there was also a spell detector installed, so that no one could come in while under the influence of a spell or curse.  The detector could also detect strong glamours and other appearance changing spells.  We already had to call James down to narrow the band of Glamour Spell which it would detect when, as one child was being dropped off, the detector went off this morning telling us that the mother was banishing her wrinkles away.  We didn’t comment at the time, but I could tell from the looks on Molly and Andromeda’s faces, there would be sniggers at the de-briefing this afternoon.

 

The last safety precaution that we took was the hardest to develop, but we were able to do it with the help of our favorite Ward Builders.  Sirius, Bill and James had figured out a way to ward for Polyjuice Potion.  The ward detected residual pheromones left over in the blood stream and sweat from the transformation process.  If you had used Polyjuice in the last three hours, it would detect it.  There were people all over Great Britain now clamoring to have this Ward added to their homes, as it was announced as one of our safety measures at the school.  Sirius had hardly been able to keep up with the requests, and thankfully, Draco had offered to come and help him.  I am sure that there were plenty of stares as a former Death Eater was there, helping to set the wards at their homes, to keep out people like those he used to associate with.

 

I walked through the school, quickly assessing everything and then took a deep breath before I opened the door, and was pleased to find only Kingsley and Edie standing there.  

 

“Please, won’t you come in,” I offered and he stepped in and then leaned down and kissed my cheek.  “Trying to score points with the teacher?”

 

“Trying to make nice with my partner, since I need to speak with you about some legislation that’s giving me trouble,” he answered back.  I knew that he was having trouble finding a suitable replacement for me, but it must be bad if he was willing to talk about it on the first day of classes.

 

“Fine, let me show you around and then you can tell me about your problem,” I sighed.  I knew I wasn’t going to get away from the law that easily.

 

We first toured the multi-use area.  The front door was off of this room, and it was also where we had their cloak hooks and cupboards to hold their things that went back and forth from home.  We would also use this space for lunch, as it was set up now with scaled down tables and chairs.  Other uses were: physical education being taught by Ginny on her off days from training at Holyhead and for Music, which I would be starting in the second semester.  The thre– and–four year old class would be taking their afternoon lie downs in this room as well.

 

“The colors are wonderful,” Edie chimed in, her oldest son wasn’t quite old enough for school this year, but she’d put his name on for next fall.  She was due to have another baby in about two months.

 

“Thanks, my kids were the ones who helped pick them out,” I said with pride, looking at the room that was done in bright primary colors with splashes of purple and green.  We went into the center hallway, and the first room on the right was the Infant Care Room.  

 

“Since Lily and I had children that were too young to come to school this year, we decided that we’d build a small nursery into the school.  Teddy Lupin is in there as well, just because, well, let’s face it, he didn’t do well in Ministry Day Care and his Grandma is teaching here full time and his Daddy is part time,” I explained.  Teddy had gone to the Ministry Day care for three days, but he so badly upset the other children when he changed himself over into a lion and started roaring at them that he was asked not to come back.  This was a transformation that my husband was particularly fond of, and would often frolic with Teddy when he was a small lion, and Sirius was a dog.  I knew that Remus blamed him in part for his son’s inability to see that it could be scary for other children.  

 

The Infants Room was small but comfortable, and Patty was playing with the four small children.  Edmund, Stella, Hope and Teddy all waved as we walked by.  Kingsley thought that the little cribs hanging from the ceiling was ingenious.

 

“You know, that was a brilliant idea,” he said as we walked away.  

 

“There wasn’t a whole lot of floor space,” I explained.  “This way, they can be up high when we don’t need them, and then Patty can lower them when the children need to nap and set them swinging to help them fall asleep.  Something I wished I’d come up with earlier.”

 

The next classroom we came to was Andromeda’s Reading and History room.  We had debated about having the children remain stationary and bringing the teachers in, but the amount of stuff that we’d need to move between classrooms, even with magic, was overwhelming.  Instead, each of the classrooms was charmed so that when a particular class came in, all that the instructor needed to do was tap the wall, and it would be configured for their age level.  Right now she had the three nine– and ten–year olds that were registered.

 

Andromeda would be teaching regular reading and English as well as Muggle and Wizarding History.  The interesting thing was, she was teaching the histories concurrently.  Our hope was that the children could begin to see how events in each of the timelines affected the other.

 

“Wow, that’s rather ambitious,” Kingsley remarked as I explained our plan to him.  “I can understand why, though.  Do you realize, these children won’t ever think of one history as more important than the other?”

 

“That’s our hope, we need a generation that won’t look at the world in the old ways,” I told him and he wrapped his long arm around me.

 

“I knew you’d end up changing the world.”  I blushed at his comment.

 

The next room was the Art and Potions room, being shared by Luna Lovegood and Remus.  We decided that they could share a room, so that we only needed to heavily ward one room for messes.  Right now she had the largest class with her, the three– and four–year olds.  We had six of them currently enrolled, and I was meeting with parents of two more girls tomorrow morning.  This class included my twins, and I could see that John had thrown himself into the project, completely.  His hair was covered in some sort of glittering stuff.  I just shook my head at him, there wasn’t anything else that I could do.  John was, well, John.

 

“That’s an interesting choice of teaching staff there,” Edie said, sounding a little hesitant at Luna.  She was flinging her arms around and telling the children to embrace their inner Horgel Moose in order to feel their art project.

 

“She’s...unconventional, but I have to be honest, when I talked with her, I was so impressed with the way that she sees creativity and the world.  When I look through her eyes, I see things that I wouldn’t have ever noticed otherwise.  She sees colors and patterns that I never imagined.  I wish I could be that uninhibited in living, she really is a breath of fresh air,” I explained.

 

“Well, the children seem to be learning, so that would indeed show her success,” Kingsley added and I agreed.  I explained that we would really be spending most of their potions time on potion components and simple common brews, things that were more basic than the first year course at Hogwarts.  Remus was excited to be talking with them not only about magical and medicinal plants; but also magical creatures and their products.  He was still working with the newly re-named Werewolf Liaison Office, as the Director.  Now that Wolfsbane was commonly available, and Greyback was out of commission, things had quieted down for his office significantly.  He was able to give us one day a week here.

 

Across the hall was Lily’s room.  She was teaching Mathematics and Muggle Sciences, just like she’d done with Harry.  She had the seven– and eight–year olds, and her own son was giving her a hard time, she’d just assigned him lines for tonight and he was rather upset about it.  He had the good sense, however, to keep his mouth shut before he ended up with another set of lines to write.  The children were reviewing what they already knew so that Lily could figure out where to begin teaching.

 

The room next to hers would be mine.  I had a smaller table in back, that I used as my desk, and when King saw it, he threw his head back and laughed.  I would be teaching Muggle and Wizarding languages as well as Runes to the older children.  They wouldn’t be starting with languages for a few weeks.  Right now, it seemed most important to be putting out fires.  I knew that this period of paper pushing would indeed end, and I would be able to teach.  I couldn’t wait for it to start.

 

The last classroom was Molly Weasley’s.  She had thrown herself into her area, something we were calling “Life Skills.”  Molly was teaching things that children usually learned at home, cleaning charms, simple repairing skills and such, as well as ways to prepare food and wash clothes, the things you needed to learn how to do to succeed in life.  Molly was planning on baking and cooking with the children, they would all be learning simple sewing projects, and some other useful things as well.  Lily, Andromeda and I were also teaching Molly about Muggle ways of doing some of the same things, so that she could teach her students.  They even had an enchanted vegetable and fruit garden that would be the school project.  Molly currently had the five– and six–year olds, and she was teaching them how to knead bread dough.  My stomach turned as I watched them kneading the dough. Make sure that you do not eat any of that bread, little Christopher has a very runny nose and I just saw some of it drip into his dough.

 

We got back to the main room, and I answered the questions that Kingsley and Edie had, and then she excused herself to go and write a press release on what they’d learned this morning for the evening edition of the Prophet.

 

“You didn’t think I was going to let this go without some press, did you?” I was asked.

 

“No, probably not.  Thank you for having Edie do the reporting, though.  Some of the people who write for that paper are, well, prone to sensationalize the story,” I said as tactfully as I could.  Kingsley started to laugh.

 

“Anwen, they lie,” he corrected me and I smiled at him.

 

Three minutes later the classes started to enter to eat their lunches.  Kingsley chose to sit at the table for the nine and ten year olds, and I thanked him for it, seeing as it would leave an adult to help with one of the younger grades.  There was confusion about where the packed lunches of several children had gone in the few hours since I saw their parents drop them into their cupboards and now, but we found everything and within a short time, the room got quieter as everyone was eating.

 

The afternoon went off without a hitch, Molly didn’t have a class immediately after lunch, so she helped me get all the little ones down for their naps.  Time flew by, and it was soon the end of the day.  The last parent to enter to get their children was my husband, which suited me fine.  I leaned into him, throughly spent but thrilled with how the day had gone.  He hugged me with his strong arms and pressed his lips to my head.

 

“I take it that you enjoyed your day?” he asked and I nodded against his chest.

 

“It was amazing, love.  I could watch them learning and, oh Sirius, this is perfect.  I can’t wait until I can start teaching, really teaching,” I told him and he opened his mouth to say something when his attention was diverted elsewhere.

 

“Daddy,” was called by one of our oldest four, who were running down from their classrooms to greet their father.  Sirius let go of me, and knelt down and opened his arms, and all four of them ran in to hug him.  He pulled them all close in a great bear hug and laughed as they let little peals of excitement roll from their mouths.  Sirius sat down on the floor and crossed his legs and the children piled into his lap and around him.

 

“Tell me about your day?” he asked and they were all talking at the same point, and while they were letting him know what they’d learned, he reached up and pulled some of the glittery stuff from John’s head and looked at me.  I shrugged my shoulders, if I can’t get him clean, Kreacher will be able to.  Patty brought out the youngest two, and Stella leapt into my arms and started chatting away, I could only make out about half of it, but it was fine.  I could tell that she liked her “school” as well.

 

When the kids’ enthusiasm had died down, I let Sirius know that I had some work to do before the next day, the teachers needed to have an end of the day meeting, but that I would be home in time for dinner.  He kissed me and told me that everything would be ready when I got there, we were having the ‘school family’ over -- all of them, Weasleys and Lovegoods included -- for a celebratory cook out on his new Muggle grill.  I looked over at Remus who had come to retrieve Teddy, and he nodded, knowing that I wanted him to secure the darn thing so that it wouldn’t explode like the last one.  Lily and I never did figure out how he’d made it explode, but we suspected it was an experimental charm gone bad.   


Chapter 24: Chapter 23: Two Weddings and a Birthday
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Chapter 23:

Two Weddings and a Birthday

 

Sirius POV:

 

I stretched and moved, and realized that I was alone in bed. It wasn’t an uncommon occurrence, but usually on weekends, she slept late too. However, today wasn’t just any Saturday, and I knew that I should just go along and enjoy the day. Today was my fortieth birthday, and I was sure that Anwen was up to something. Hey the last time that she threw you a birthday party, it was pretty amazing; of course, it was when I turned seventeen. I reached over to the bedside table and my fingers ran over the watch that she’d given me that day.    It still feels warm to the touch, still warms me to the core. I am one lucky, lucky man to have found her when I did.

 

I could hear a rumble of little feet, and I knew that my children were on the way into the Master Suite. I could hear John stopping to talk with the portrait of my brother, and I decided that perhaps I needed to monitor their conversations better. Jamie had stopped to speak quickly with Eira, who it seemed, was our middle daughter’s confidant. The door to the room flew open, and our children came in. Little Stella was nearly knocked over by Edmund, and she started to cry. Anwen picked her up as she walked in, levitating a tray with breakfast on it in front of her. She waved her fingers and the tray sat down on my lap.

 

The children scrambled up on the bed, they were in various stages of dress. Lilyan was completely dressed and her hair done, Stella was in a diaper and a tee shirt and mismatched socks. They all had little packages in their hands, and Anwen gave me that “be nice” look of hers, and I knew that the kids had picked out their own gifts for me. This should be interesting. I looked down at the tray, and it was obvious at least one of them had ‘helped’ make the eggs that I had for breakfast. They looked disgusting, runny in some places and burnt in others. Anwen leaned down and kissed me gently.

 

“Happy Birthday, darling,” she whispered before she slid into bed next to me. “The children have presents for you, would you like to open them?”

 

“Of course I would,” I told them enthusiastically. Anwen had an unreadable smile on her face, so it became obvious that I wouldn’t be getting any help here. She slid the tray over and placed it on her bedside table. “Who would like to go first?”

 

All of them started yelling, except little Jamie. She just sat quietly with her little hands folded in her lap, clearly knowing that her turn would indeed come. I reached over and offered her my hand, which she slipped her little one into and got up on her knees and crawled over to sit in my lap.

 

“Did you pick this out, Angel?” She nodded at me, blushing. I opened the package, and inside I found a big box of Muggle tea. Jamie already had a taste for the brew, and drank it just like I did, one lump and a little bit of cream. “Are we going to have tea today?”

 

 

“Of course, Daddy, and since it’s your birthday, you get to use the pretty cup,” she told me and her matter of fact style made me smile. 

 

“Well, I’m glad that I get to use the pretty cup today,” I said with the faintest smile across my face. Anwen had gotten a tea cup and plate with birthday candles on them, and when it was your birthday, you got to use the special dishes all day, even if you were only two. She’d had to repair them more times than I could count. Jamie kissed my cheek, well above my mustache, since she complained that it tickled her, then she crawled off my lap. I looked around the bed, and then put my hand out to Ethan, who smiled and stood and climbed over his siblings to sit in front of me. Six must be too old to sit in your father’s lap.

 

I looked at the package suspiciously. He clearly wrapped this himself, given the volume of spellotape on it. The gift looked like it was rolled in wrap, and then bound by an entire spool of the tape. I saw Anwen wiggle her fingers over it, and it magically unbound itself, leaving only the wrappings around the gift. I opened it, and inside was a tee shirt, and when I unrolled it, I saw that it said “Black Family Quidditch Team.”

 

“I have one just like it, see,” Ethan said, opening his robe so that I could see the shirt he had on. “We’ve all got them, and in the spring, when the weather is better, we’re going to play the Potters on our pitch.” I looked at Anwen, really excited by this idea.

 

“Seriously, we’re going to play Prongs’ family in Quidditch?” I asked her and she confirmed it for me. “Oh, man, that is going to be so awesome. Did you make the shirts?” I asked Ethan and he shook his head.

 

“I picked out the color and told Mummy what I wanted them to say, but she paid for all of them, except for yours. I bought it myself,” he announced.

 

“I am very proud of you, you’ve done very well.”

 

We went this way through the gifts. Lilyan had selected a very fancy quill for me, so that I could have something to put on my desk downstairs. Edmund had a new collar for “Padfoot.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him that Padfoot didn’t wear one. Little Stella clearly had help in picking out her gift, as she gave me a pair of my favorite jeans. I kissed her and her Mummy, who I knew had really gotten the gift. However, the funniest gift came from John, who gave me a Skiving Snackbox from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.

 

“Why, John? What am I skiving off?” I asked him and he got the biggest smile on his face.

 

“Work of course! Geesh Daddy, we all need to play sometimes and not go to school and work.” Our son had a point. 

 

“I have a gift for you too, but you’re going to have to wait until later to get it,” Anwen whispered in my ear. “Now, enjoy some of that breakfast there dear,” she told me with a rather amused glint in her eye as she gave me back the tray, “and then you get to pick what we do today. We have to be home by three, but I’m not telling you why.”

 

“Really, I think I could get the answer out of you,” I suggested. Anwen quirked her eyebrow and curled her lip.

 

“In front of the children?”

 

I shrugged, and then looked down at the yellow goo that was supposed to be eggs, the burned toast and the tea that looked so thin I wondered if they’d let it steep at all and felt my stomach roll at the idea of eating this. I put some of the egg on the toast and lifted it to my mouth, and willed myself to eat the now chilled mass. Thankfully, my wife intervened at that point.

 

“Oh, look, Daddy likes the breakfast that you made. Why don’t all of you go downstairs and eat up what’s on the table for you, and then we’ll get on with Daddy’s special day. What would you like to do today, dear?” she asked.

 

“I want to take my children to Honeydukes,” I said loudly and they all cheered while Anwen rolled her eyes, “and then I want to go to my favorite pub for lunch and then to the indoor flying park, since it’s November and it’s too cold to fly outdoors.”

 

“Well, then, that’s what we shall do,” she said with a gentle smile, regardless of how she felt about sugared up children. “Lilyan, will you help Stella downstairs please, dear?”

 

“Yes, Mummy. Come on Stella, let’s finish up your porridge and then Daddy is going to feed us chocolates, yummy,” Lilyan told her littlest sister, and then she trotted off with Jamie taking the littlest ones hand as well. When they were all gone, Anwen leaned over and kissed me deeply.

 

“Happy Birthday my darling,” she whispered. “First, let’s um, dispose of this culinary delight.” She waved her fingers over the tray and the meal that the kids had made was gone, I breathed a sigh of relief at not having to eat the rest of it. “Kreacher,” she called gently, and he appeared, holding a tray with a full English on it. I took it, and he left before I could even thank him. “He’s got a lot of work to do today,” she said bluntly, and then nothing more.

 

“Now, your present from me is...” she stopped and kissed me again. “Tonight we will be going into London, where I have the Play Room Suite booked at the Hotel Pelirocco.” I got a wide smile on my face. I had read about this place in the Muggle papers.

 

“Please tell me it’s the one with the round bed...” Anwen was nodding her head. Holy Merlin, I can’t believe my wife.

 

“Now, I can’t promise that I can do anything with the pole in the room, not sure that I can manipulate the prosthetic leg that well, but the giant tub is definitely worth some time. We check in today, and we don’t have to check out until Monday at noon. Lily and James are taking the children, their gift to you; and Lily will make sure that everything is good at school on Monday. Then in January, when my parents are here for their extended holiday, we are going to Capri for a week. You and I, and days at the spa and pool. Does that sound like something that you’d like my love?” she asked me, and my heart nearly stopped at the idea. “Oh, and this weekend, we’re not taking any luggage. I’m looking forward to a naked weekend with you,” she added and my heart did indeed stop. I pulled her on top of me, and even though she was giggling wildly, I kissed her deeply and thanked her for the wonderful gift. 

 

After a few private moments in bed, Anwen and I got up, I showered and got dressed while she took care of the children, and then I went and played with them in their playroom while she quickly showered and dressed. She must use magic, she gets ready way too fast.

 

We spent the morning out, the kids eating so many things from Honeydukes that they didn’t want lunch, but rather than get upset about it, Anwen just remained calm and smiled. We went to the indoor flying park, housed in some old warehouse in Muggle London, and we were all flying for a change, even little Stella, although her broom was only about a foot off the ground. At two-thirty, Anwen said that we needed to go to Aunt Lily and Uncle James’ house to get dressed.

 

The Potters were there, as were the kids’ clean clothes. Anwen made sure that they all looked nice, and I found it very sweet that they all had matching little red sweaters, the boys’ ones had small black dogs on the cuffs and bottoms, while the girls had one large black dog stitched onto the front.

 

We flooed back home to a full house, it honestly looked like everyone that we had ever known was there. Schoolmates from when my wife and I were at Hogwarts, including all of the people we had ever played Quidditch with. The remaining members of the Order were mingling with the Hogwarts staff and quite a few people that we were friendly with from the Ministry. All of the teaching staff from the Primary school was here, but given the fact that we were related to most of them, it wasn’t really surprising. Mr. Silverman, the painter who had created all of the murals at Grimmauld and here at Fairer Garden as well as Ian and Maggie Anderson and several members of his crew that had built our house. Even the rest of Broken Broomsticks was here, and they had brought their instruments to play a little later on. The whole extended family was here as well, the Weasleys, the Lupins, the Potters, Bastien and Laure.

 

Anwen had hired staff to take care of serving the food and drinks, and Patty, Ginny and Hermione were managing all of the children. I walked around chatting with people, catching up with school friends and people I hadn’t seen in a while. I found Harry and Ron and they brought me up to date on how the Auror training was going. Most of the International Aurors who had come to help immediately after the war had decided to stay for another year. Lisette had put in for a permanent transfer, and had even applied for citizenship. She was apparently a rather tough teacher.

 

“Honestly, last year, Aunt Winnie worked me hard, but there was a gentleness to her as well,” Harry explained. “Every once in a while I knew that I’d impressed her. Auror Uline,” he added with a head shake, “I’m not sure she’s ever happy.”

 

“But,” Ron interrupted, “she’s easier than Auror Shresth, I don’t think that man cracks a smile, ever.” I nearly burst out laughing at the characterization of Jagjit, being as when we were alone with him and his daughter, Kanta, he is quite a funny gentleman. Kanta was so impressed with Hogwarts when she was there last year, she talked her father into staying so that she could continue her studies.

 

I learned about Ginny’s training and the prospects for the Harpies season, and she was excited that she’d been able to play the second half of the last game, as one of the starting Chasers had been hit by a Bludger and broken her shoulder. She was glad that the holiday break was coming, and she’d have time to finish planning her wedding. Hermione let me know that while her studies were difficult, she was enjoying learning the law, and was quite thankful that she had my wife to turn to when she didn’t understand what the books were telling her.

 

Food and drink were easy to find, and after a while I settled down with Prongs and Moony, who had provided some excellent imported cigars, and we sat out under the pergola to enjoy them. Firewhiskey, cigars and my two best friends, it was my preferred way to celebrate my birthday. The sun was going down, and we just sat and reminisced. When the glass–paned doors from the ballroom opened, and Lilyan came out, I knew that I would need to go and rejoin my own party.

 

“Daddy, Mummy told me to find you, she wants you to come back inside,” our daughter said, her hand on her hip, tapping her foot in a perfect mimic of her mother. All three of us started laughing at her.

 

“We’ll be right there, Ladybird. Let your Mummy know.” She turned on her heel and almost stomped off, clearly put out that I hadn’t stood immediately and followed her.

 

“That girl is going to be a handful when she gets older. She’s too much like your wife, Padfoot,” Moony told me and I nodded.

 

“I wonder if she’ll entice a boy on her first day of Hogwarts too? You do know that you were never the same after meeting Anwen, don’t you?” Prongs asked, and I nodded at him.

 

“Guys, the first time I really looked at her, when she was sitting there laughing at you, on the train, I knew,” I confirmed as I stood. The cigars were long gone at this point, so I picked up my glass and the nearly empty bottle of whiskey and headed inside, my friends in tow. The food had been cleaned up from the buffet table, and there was a huge cake, in the shape of a motorbike, and not just any motorbike, my old one that I had lost in the fire. I was looking around for Anwen, and then I heard the band tuning up, and I knew why she’d wanted me back in here. I loved watching her perform with the band. Somehow, she’d gotten lots of small round tables, and set them up in the room, surrounded by chairs. There was a large section of the room left open in front of the band as well, to act as a dance area.

 

I settled down at one of the front tables, Lily bringing me Stella, who was happy to see me and threw her little arms around me.

 

“Happy, happy Daddy,” she said as she kissed my cheek.

 

“Yes, little star, Daddy is happy. Mummy is going to sing, won’t that be fun?”

 

“Love Mummy sing.”

 

“I know you do, sweetheart. So does Daddy.”

 

The lights dimmed, and several of the children sat on the floor in front of us, Hope resting in her Mummy’s arms, Teddy in his Daddy’s. Tonks looked horribly uncomfortable sitting there, being as she was only weeks away from delivering their second baby. They didn’t know if it was a boy or girl, but she was more than ready for it to be here. At least this time she isn’t shooting off sparks from her fingers, but she has taken to hiccuping, and having little bits of her anatomy suddenly change forms. Her hair changes color or her nose will suddenly switch.

 

Anwen stepped out in the most figure hugging dress I had ever seen on her. It was black and clung to her, until it hit her knees, and then it fanned out. Her hair was slicked down, and it curled around her face. She looked like a pin-up girl from the forties, it was unreal how gorgeous she was. The band started playing, and I nearly fell out of my seat with laughter at the song. She was singing “He’s a Tramp” from one of the kids’ animated films, about a street dog that falls in love with a pampered pup. 

 

Once everyone got over the initial laughter, I watched her vamp up the song, playing up the part quite well. When it was done, she curtsied and left the stage, making her way over to me, and sitting down on my lap and taking Stella into hers.

 

“Did you like?” she asked, already knowing the answer. I nodded and then leaned to whisper in her ear.

 

“I have never seen you look sexier. You are...” she pulled her head away from me and looked at me coyly.

 

“Well, then,” she said and then leaned close to whisper in my ear. “I won’t tell you that I’m not wearing anything underneath, because if I’ve never looked sexier, then you don’t need to see anything else.” I growled slightly at her. Damn her, she knows how to play me too well.

 

The band played for a while, Anwen had no plans to sing any more tonight, we cut the cake and it was a little before nine when the party broke up. We said goodbye to our children, watching Harry and his friends help Floo them away. Anwen and I closed the house, and Apparated to London. The door to the room had barely shut, when I had the overwhelming need to get my wife out of that dress.

 

 

Anwen POV:

 

Sirius and I were sitting in “Sanctuary” in the special seats for the family members who would be assisting with the ceremony. It felt odd to be the only ones sitting here now, but since Molly and Arthur were with Ginny and Lily and James were with Harry, Sirius and I were alone here. Our children were sitting with the rest of the Weasley children over in the gallery seats, and I was trying to ignore the fact that John was seated between Fred and George, and that Stella was squirming uncomfortably on Hermione’s lap. I looked over at Tonks, and she looked like she was ready to burst.

 

I laid my head on Sirius’ shoulder and let out a contented sigh. “Remember the last time we were here?”

 

“How could I not, Winnie. That night was...you know, I want you as much today as I did then, maybe more. It’s more than just your body now, I want the union with your spirit as well. I can feel you move through me when we make love,” he whispered and I sighed again.

 

“That’s nice to know,” I uttered, my response was inadequate, but it was all that I had to offer right now. How deeply I loved this man sometimes surprised and awed me.

 

We sat there, wrapped up in our love for a minute or two more, until we saw the two sets of parents come out and join us in the set of chairs. I was astonished when the same wizard, who I remembered as being aged fourteen years ago, came out to officiate for this wedding as well.

 

We watched, our fingers entwined, as Harry and Ginny began walking through the labyrinth, leading them to the raised dais in the center. When they reached the center, they took one another’s hands and began the vows, and I remembered them as if I had uttered them just yesterday. 

 

As the little wizard spoke about the winds from the four corners of the earth, I could feel the gentle rush blow across my face, my hair gently moving ever so slightly, and I could feel my deep emotions begin to bubble to the surface. I cannot believe how much I love my husband, how very deep the affection that I have for him has grown. I cannot describe it. Words, all words, fall short when I try to begin to describe what he means to me, how much I love the life that we’ve built and how I need to feel him within my heart. I was overwhelmed that it had begun here, and grateful tears began to break over my lashes, wetting my cheeks ever so slightly.

 

I was broken from my contemplation by hearing Harry and Ginny recite their vows. Thankfully, Harry stuck to the script, which Sirius had not. James and Lily went up, issuing the first cords that wrapped Harry and Ginny’s hands in magic. Lily had tears of love and pride in her eyes, and seeing her this way made fresh ones come to my eyes. I know that part of her was worried that we’d never all make it here, that he’d never make it here. 

 

Harry’s parents left the dais and Ginny’s parents joined them, creating the third and fourth bonds. Molly was doing exceptionally well, but Arthur, sweet Arthur, was struggling to let go of his little girl. I knew that it was nearly time for us to go forward, but I was again struck at how quickly time was moving. We could be here in another 14 years, doing this for our daughter. I’m not ready for them to grow up, I want them to stay little, so that I can mother them longer.

 

Sirius stood, and pulled on my hand within his, beckoning me forward. I stood behind Ginny, Sirius behind Harry. I asked them if they were ready to be equals, to share everything, the good as well as the bad. They both answered that they would, but I wasn’t looking at them, I was staring at Sirius, and I could tell that he was reflecting back on just how good the good had been, and how horribly awful some of what we’d endured was. I lifted my hand and let the golden strand of magic slip from me, waving my fingers to wrap around Harry and Ginny’s entwined hands.

 

Sirius asked them the final question and emitted the last cord, and then he stepped back, knowing what would come back. He walked behind the pair, to once again take my hand. Before we were seated, I did a small bit of visualization magic, something I rarely did anymore, and made the twining magic visible. Harry’s fiery golden-red and Ginny’s brilliant emerald green mixing into the pure white magic of their love. We sat back down, and as the little wizard rose to speak, I lifted my wrist to my lips and kissed it. A contented smile broke across my husbands face, and I knew that he felt the warm embrace of my love.

 

 

Sirius POV:

 

“Did I miss it?” I asked as I hurried down the hall at St. Mungo’s to where my wife was sitting with Lily and James.

 

“Nope, but it should be any minute now. How are the kids?” she asked as she leaned over to kiss me.

 

“Good, keyed up, but Christmas is three weeks away, they’re always keyed up at this time of the year.” Anwen, Lily and James all nodded in agreement. Universal problem of parents everywhere this time of the year, I suppose.

 

We made small talk until we heard a baby cry from within the delivery room, and Lily and Anwen hugged each other and then James and me. I watched as my wife bowed her head quickly, folding her hands; and I knew that she was offering a prayer of thanksgiving. She and Remus had been spending a fair amount of time discussing faith and belief as of late. He was somehow helping her find her way out of her anger at God for all that had happened in the last few years. I didn’t interfere, I knew that he was the only one who had any hope of helping her with this.

 

It wasn’t long before Remus came out, and introduced us to Lara Tucana Lupin, a beautiful little girl with absolutely no hair, and brown eyes.

 

“We’re anxious to see what color her hair is, and if she has her Mummy’s abilities,” Remus said as he held his daughter, and I knew that I recognized that look in his eyes. I got the same one when I stared at my little princesses. I looked over at James, and he smiled back, knowingly. 

 

“Remus, she has your eyes, your soft, understanding eyes,” Anwen cooed at the baby, then looked up at her father. I was always astounded at what my wife and her confidant could convey with just a look between them.

 

“Anwen, Tee and I would be honored if you would be her godmother. I want her to grow up with your faith and understanding as her guide,” he asked her, and Anwen’s lips trembled and she struggled to find words, even though she didn’t need any. She finally gave up, and just nodded her head. Unlike her tears all through last year, these were tears of love and joy, completely different and most definitely welcomed.

 

Remus handed her the little girl, and she stroked the child’s cheek and the baby looked up at her in wonder. “Hello little Lara, I am so very happy to meet you. You’ve got the best Mummy and Daddy, you’re a very lucky little girl.” Anwen kissed her forehead and then handed her back to her father. Then she reached behind her to grab the bag that she’d had sitting on the floor by her chair. “Well, I am quite glad that I could get this to you in a more timely manner than I did with Teddy’s,” she said.

 

“Come on in, I’m sure that Tee wants to see you, and look at that. Everyone, come on in,” he said and we followed him in to see his wife and my cousin sitting there, looking vibrant and yet tired. Tonks hair immediately changed color upon seeing her husband and daughter, a rather lovely shade of pale pink. The color really did seem to suit her best.

 

 

 

 

 

Lilyan POV:

 

“Mummy, Mummy, I can’t find my other shoe,” I called my Mum. I was trying to get dressed for the wedding. I was one of the five girls in the wedding, well it was my cousins and my sisters and I. Little Lara was just too small yet to be part of Harry and Ginny’s wedding. Teddy was the ring-bearer, since he was Harry’s godson, and my brothers and Evan were junior groomsmen. I really wasn’t sure what they were doing, but they were all dressed up, so I guess that it didn’t matter. 

 

I was excited to be a flower girl, just like Ginny had been in my Mummy and Daddy’s wedding. I got to wear a beautiful white dress with a dark green sash. I loved it. Ginny was using all Christmas colors, since they were getting married so close to Christmas, all reds and greens and whites. I liked it.

 

My Mummy walked into the room and raised her hand and my shoe came zooming out of the toy box.

 

“How it get in there?” I asked her and she looked at me in that Mummy way.

 

“Well, since it isn’t my room, I have no idea, dear. Now, put your other shoe on, we need to be Portkeying up to Hogsmeade. A carriage with white horses pulling it will take us up to the castle, won’t that be neat?”

 

“I can’t wait Mummy, it will be like I’m a princess.”

 

“Yes, it will dear, yes it will.”

 

Mummy and Daddy had gone to the ceremony last night, but we’d stayed home with Grandma and Grandda Hodgson. I loved when we spent time with them, and Uncle Haf was here again too, he’s funny. He and Mummy were talking about her bad leg last night, and he made Mummy cry. I don’t like it when Mummy cries.

 

We were all ready, and somehow, John was able to keep clean for a few minutes. Sometimes I think that he’s got a little imp attached to him that just dumps paint on him or something. He gets messy way to easy.

 

We all took the Portkey up to the castle, and just like Ginny promised, there were carriages with white horses waiting to take us all the way up. Mummy sat in one with me and Jamie and Stella and Grandma, and it was beautiful. I can’t wait until I can come to Hogwarts. I’ll be six soon, so it’s only five more years, and then I can come to Hogwarts and be in Gryffindor and play Chaser or Seeker just like my Mummy. Daddy promised that he’d tell me all of his secrets before I come, I am holding him to it.

 

We met in the Gryffindor common room and if I felt like a princess, Ginny looked like one. Her dress is beautiful, all white and just...really pretty.

 

“Ginny, why aren’t you cold?” I asked her. Her shoulders were all bare, and it was wintertime.

 

“I have a charm set on me, sweetheart. I’ll be just fine.” I nodded.

 

It didn’t take long before we were all headed downstairs. Emma and I took little Stella by the hands, we would be walking down together, with Jamie and Hope behind us. We got to walk in right before Ginny, just after Luna and Hermione, who were her Maids. 

 

I watched as my Mummy stood up to sing, I always loved when Mummy sings. She sounds like an angel, or at least what I think that an angel would sound like. It wasn’t long before the Wizard told Ginny and Harry to kiss, and then he said that they were married. I clapped and cheered with everyone else.

 

We walked out, and then there were pictures, but it was getting boring. When the pictures were done, Grandma Mimi waved her wand, and the chairs were gone and there were lots and lots of tables, including a special one up front that we got to sit at. I sat next to Emma on one side, and Aunt Lily on the other. It was really neat.

 

After we ate dinner, which wasn’t very good, there was just too much sauce and stuff on the food; we had dancing. I was dancing with Emma and Jamie and Hope when Evan came over and asked me to dance. He looked very nice in his dress robes. He stood up with his big brother today, and I was so proud of him. Evan is almost nine now, he gets to go to Hogwarts in two years.

 

Mummy and Daddy had taught us how to dance before the ball last year, so I put one hand on his shoulder and he held my other one.

 

“You look pretty, Lilyan.” Evan told me.

 

“Thanks, you look nice too.”

 

“You look better than my sister.”

 

“We look almost the same, everyone tells us that.”

 

“Naw,” Evan said, shaking his head. “You’re eyes are much prettier, and your hair is always curly.”

 

“I have hair just like my Daddy’s.”

 

“I like it.”

 

 I blushed. “Thank you.”

 

We danced quietly, and I could see my Mummy and Aunt Lily pointing at us, and I rolled my eyes and stuck out my tongue at my Mum to get her to stop. I mean, could she be more embarrassing?

 

When the song ended, we just stood there, and then Evan bent over and kissed my cheek. “I think that you’re the prettiest girl in the world Lilyan Black.”

 

I couldn’t move. Evan had walked away, but I was surprised. Evan Potter had kissed me.

 

 

Anwen POV:

 

I was watching my eldest daughter dancing with Lily’s younger son.

 

“I’m really not ready for this, Lil.”

 

“Anwen, they’re just dancing. They’ve grown up together.” I shook my head at her. I knew that there was something there.

 

“No, it’s...oh Lil,” I sighed. She put her arm around me.

 

“They’re all going to grow up and leave us, aren’t they. Harry’s already married. It feels like yesterday I was nursing him and now… We did right with him, didn’t we? We did give him a childhood?”

 

“Lily, listen to me. It would have been so easy for your son to be turned into a weapon, or for him to have been trained mercilessly, or even to have just let him walk into the forest as a sacrificial lamb; but Harry was none of those things. He had a childhood, one full of laughter and Quidditch brooms and dogs and his mother’s love. The last few years weren’t ideal, but I think even Harry will tell you that he is happy with his life now. Lily, you did better than anyone could have ever expected with the situation that you were given. Don’t ever forget that,” I told her rather emphatically.

 

“This is why we’re sisters, Anwen. You know just what to say.” We were silent, there wasn’t anything else to say. I watched as the song ended, and Evan Potter leaned over and kissed my daughter and then whispered in her ear. I sighed and felt a tear in my eye.

 

“I’ve lost her already.”

 

 

 

Sirius POV:

 

This is the perfect place. I could be persuaded to never leave. I’d miss the kids though. Maybe we should just buy a house here?  Anwen and I had returned to our room at the spa in Capri, after having massages this morning. Now we were headed to take a swim. Anwen enjoyed the water, she felt more graceful than she was on the land, however, I thought she always moved with rather remarkable fluidity. She came out in a Navy one–piece suit with panels cut out of the sides, right in the perfect place for me to caress her waist. She had wrapped a long, flowing navy skirt with large flowers around her.

 

As we headed to the pool, she was rather quiet, and I knew that there was something on her mind, but I’d also learned that when she was ready, she’d tell me. We got to the pool and there were a few other people there, and I could watch my wife’s face tense up.

 

“Winnie, love, what’s wrong?” I took her hand between mine, and she looked at it.

 

“I, um, think that I’ll just sit up here and get some sun,” she told me as she moved to one of the deck chairs. She doesn’t want any sun, she put an extra strength sunscreen charm on herself before we left the room when she was charming our tattoos to hold still.

 

‘“Winnie, that’s not true. No one is going to care about your leg.” I knew that’s what this was about. Anwen had been very reserved about it since we got here, well really, since she and Haf had argued about it while he was here for Christmas. She threw things at him because he’d upset her so.

 

“I just...please Sirius,” she begged, but I wasn’t going to let this go. I agreed with her brother.

 

“Anwen, no one cares if your leg isn’t there.”

 

“I care,” she hissed through closed lips.

 

“Why don’t you have the other one put on then?” I was referring to her magical one. There was no reason that the posts couldn’t be reattached and then the magical prosthetic about a month later. It appeared far more natural, and only if you got up and touched the darn thing would you figure out that it was artificial.

 

“Because.” She was getting angry at me, but it was better to have this discussion in an open place, where she’d have to hold her temper. I knew I didn’t want her throwing things at me.

 

“No, Winnie, that isn’t an answer. I think you’re scared.”

 

“I’m not scared!”

 

“Then tell me, tell me what’s bothering you.” She stopped and looked down at her skirt and started playing with it. She took a few deep breaths, and I sat down next to her. “Please, my love, tell me.”

 

“I’ll be in the wheelchair again, and there isn’t any guarantee that it will work this time. They can only put the posts in one more time, if it doesn’t work this time, then there won’t be another time.”

 

“Are you more afraid of it not working, or of being dependent again?” She looked up at me with those big green eyes, brimmed with tears and I watched as her shoulders sagged.

 

“Why do you have to know me so well?”

 

“What kind of a husband would I be if I didn’t know you this well?” I asked her and she smiled. “That’s what this is about, isn’t it. You don’t want to rely on people.”

 

“Can you blame me? Anyway, Bastien’s wedding is coming up in a few months, I don’t want to be learning to walk all over again with that coming up. We don’t even know anything about where we are staying at Beauxbatons. What if there are tons of stairs and we’re on the top floor and the kids’ legs are too little to get themselves up the stairs...” I hadn’t heard her get going like this in a very long time. I stopped her with a kiss.

 

“Then wait until after the wedding. Winnie, don’t put off a better leg just because you’re afraid. Please, for you, let’s plan this for the summer.” She looked at me, her eyes boring into me. “I will love you regardless of what you do, but I think you’ll be happier if you can move better.”

 

She closed her eyes, and I knew that I had won. She wouldn’t owl today, but I knew that she would plan this surgery shortly after we got home. We’d, she’d, finally put this behind her. All of it. 

 

I stood up, and offered her my hand. “No one cares, Winnie. It’s only in and out of the water, and I promise, I will cover you best as I can. You love swimming, and I love that you have to hold onto me. Come on, love, come into the water with me.” She nodded and I let her struggle herself to a standing position. Helping her too much will only make her upset again. She unwrapped herself, and then reached down and detached her leg, while standing on her good one. She looked over to where the stairs were, and realized that she wasn’t going to be able to hop that far.

 

“Go on,” she relented with an eye roll, and I lifted my wife and walked us down into the warm water. 


Chapter 25: Chapter 24: Secret
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Chapter 24:

Secret

 

June 2000

Anwen POV:

 

“I’m quite fine,” I assured Sirius, Haf and Lily, but they were all hovering over me...again.

 

“We know that you’re fine sweetie, it’s just, well...” Lily started but my brother cut her off.

 

“Anwen, you just had major surgery and your body is going to go through some rather wicked changes to get used to those posts they reinserted into your leg there. Please, humor us all and let us help you.” He sounded so sure of himself, but he would always be my little brother, the mold grower, to me.

 

“I know that I can’t do anything. I have two weeks with no standing up, really, since I don’t have a right leg there; and then another two weeks of limited mobility while my body is adapting when they put the new prosthetic on. I get it,” I chirped back. I know what my limitations are, I’m not stupid.  I was sitting on my very comfortable chaise, perfectly charmed by my husband, under the pergola on the veranda. There was a slight breeze, and it was a beautiful day. I looked up at the grin on Sirius’ face, and I knew that I was going to dread the rest of this month. “Don’t even look at me that way, Sirius. I know that you’re reveling in the fact that you get to take care of me, but really, you don’t need to gloat about it.”

 

He knelt down next to me and raised his hand to stroke my cheek. “I won’t, my love.  But I am very glad that you’ve decided to have this done, and that you’re not fighting me on helping you.”

 

“Yeah, well, you were right, this needed to be done,” I admitted. “But, it does not give you the right to think you can carry me everywhere and smother me. I can still do quite a bit for myself, and I’m allowed to use my magic.” He leaned down and kissed me.

 

“I will not smother you, I promise.” He stood up and sat in his own chair. 

 

“Yeah, right.” I muttered under my breath. I was fairly certain that only Lily had heard me.

 

“So, what are you going to do to kill the time while you’re getting better?” she queried.

 

“Well,” I sighed. “I need to go over the enrollment figures for next year, and figure out who is going to teach where. We’ll probably be close to thirty students, maybe more if the requests keep coming in the way that they have been.”

 

“Anwen,” Haf started and I looked over and glared at my little brother. “Your school paperwork can wait. You really do need to relax some. Your body and your magic are being worked very hard by those posts there. You are mapping new neurological pathways, sis.”

 

“Fine, I’ll leave it for a while, but at some point I have to deal with it. I am the school administrator,” I sighed. I hated how much paperwork, fund raising and public relations work that particular title entailed. I wanted to teach, not meet with the press on a monthly basis.

 

“I know what you should be working on,” Lily said excitedly.

 

“What?” I asked her, almost afraid of her answer.

 

“You need to finally go through those photo albums. They’ve been sitting here for a year. I brought them over for the twins’ fourth birthday, last Tuesday was their fifth. Seriously, there are some really good photos in there,” Lily reminded me. I had completely forgotten about the box of albums.

 

“Okay, you’re right,” I admitted. “That would be the perfect way to spend the afternoon. Ma sent a fair number of my childhood pictures back with Haf, as well as some other family ones that she’d had copies made of. It’s kind of nice, I’ve got them up in our sitting room, and when Haf and I went through the box, Eira was there and we were all laughing,” I explained, but talking about it only underscored the reality that it wasn’t my sister I was sharing this with, it was simply a portrait, a flat representation of my sister. I knew that I’d moved on with my life, but I still mourned her. It was hard not to, especially since I saw her every time I went in or out of our bedroom. I stopped and took a deep breath, and I could see Sirius getting up, but my brother reached me first.

 

“I miss her too, every day. She was my first playmate and my best friend,” he explained as he sat in the void of my right leg on the chaise. “She looked up to you so much, she was proud to be Anwen Hodgson-Black’s little sister. It wasn’t your fault, Anwen; but know that I miss her too.”

 

I reached for my little brother and he wrapped me in his arms, this was something that we really did share, we both missed her and knew that there would always be something missing, and it would always be the spot that our little sister held in our hearts. He released me, and I wiped my face. 

 

“Okay, well then, enough of the hysterical crying lady. Um, would you mind going and getting the box from the sitting room broom cupboard. If you press in next to the fireplace, on the left hand side,” I started trying to explain the latch to my brother, but Sirius was already on his feet.

 

“I got it, Winnie,” he said as he went back through the French doors to the ballroom.  Haf moved back onto his own chair, and I closed my eyes and leaned my head back. I could feel the potions that they were giving me coursing through my system, and it was truly making me lightheaded. Sirius returned a short time later, and set the box down at my feet. Lily pulled her chair over to sit next to me, the box next to her.

 

“All right, these are the albums that James said would have the best pictures of his childhood, and were likely to contain Sirius in them. There is one of the two of them with Regulus that is surprising,” Lily was nearly giddy with excitement as she started opening the box and summoning the first book out.

 

“Why so?”

 

“Well, they’re like nine and their shirts are off and they’re...”

 

“What?” I looked at her puzzled.

 

“Scrawny.” She had the most apologetic look on her face, but I knew that it was true, as a general rule, boys were scrawny.

 

“Okay, ladies, if you’re going to pick on me, I’ll go find Patty and the children,” Sirius mock threatened.

 

“Really, that was all that it was going to take? Please, your hair is absolutely ugly and you’re getting a little pudgy, Mr. Black.” I jokingly teased back, but he just shook his head.

 

“You’re not getting rid of me that easily.” I snapped my fingers, like cartoon villains do when their stupid plots are foiled by the good guys. “Darn.” I whispered under my breath.

 

The first album was indeed of the guys when they were boys and would spend their summers together, wherever it was that the families had their summer homes. Lily had gotten some paper and a quill and was taking notes on which pictures I would like copies of. There was a beautiful one of my husband, sitting on the beach, looking at the ocean. I knew that I wanted it for our sitting room, and I might just want a small copy for my desk at work. It reminded me that all of the things that I saw in my husband were there from a young age; his gentleness, his desire to be different, his need to understand the greater world; all of it was evident in this picture. He was tossing shells and stones into the ocean, and his hair was waving in the wind. I thought that he looked stunning sitting there. He was staring at me,while I stared at his image, his gaze made me blush.

 

We flipped through the rest of the book, and there was a picture of James and Sirius, arm in arm, much like the one that I had seen on Sirius’ childhood bedroom wall the first time that we toured Grimmauld. This picture was different from that one, however. This was a wider shot, and in the background was Regulus, scowling, arms crossed. I pointed it out to Sirius, who simply shook his head in regret.

 

“You know, if I’d been even slightly aware of what he was feeling, I might have been able to avoid years of hardship for all of us,” my husband stated, and I caressed his hand.

 

“You were a child, you couldn’t be expected to understand. He made his own choices, and unfortunately, he paid the price for them,” I assured him.

 

“You know, I really don’t know about your brother,” Haf started, and Sirius got up and walked over closer to him, and I could hear him recounting the tale of his younger brother. Sirius didn’t gloss over anything, including the fact that he was behind the attack on me in Hogsmeade and that he was murdered by Voldemort. I watched as my brother tried to take it all in.

 

Lily and I closed the first album and laid it aside, and she got another one out. As soon as we opened it, I recognized it; it contained pictures of her wedding. We flipped through them, laughing at some of the ridiculously staged pictures it contained. There was the traditional one of James and Sirius, looking off in the distance. I swear I could hear the younger, photographic versions of themselves making snide remarks. There was an equally stupid picture of me helping Lily put on her veil, since her sister had refused to come to the wedding and be her Matron.

 

“Have you talked to Petunia lately?” I asked her.

 

“Nope, not in years; I don’t care to either. I really don’t need a fake sister, when I’ve got a much better version right here.” I leaned over and hugged her in thanks. We continued to flip through the book and reminisce, and there were a few pictures that I wanted, and then we got to the end of the book. There was the picture of Sirius and me dancing that I had taken back to Hogwarts with me, when I went for my sixth year. I had my head on his chest, and he was looking at me with such devotion. I was so scared to see it that summer, so afraid of what I was feeling.

 

“You know, he still looks at you that way,” Lily mused.

 

“I know. We look so young, Lily. I was fifteen, you were all eighteen, the war was...it seems like another lifetime.”

 

“I sometimes wonder how we did it, when we were that young. Maybe because we didn’t know that we were young and stupid yet. We weren’t afraid yet,” she suggested.

 

“I would think that it was more that we had no idea what we could lose.”

 

“Maybe you’re right,” she said pensively. I ran my fingers over the picture. “You definitely need a big copy of that one.”

 

“Yes, I most definitely do.”

 

We set aside that book as well, and she levitated the last book out of the box. It looked older than the other ones, but I was anxious to see what was in it. I flipped open the cover, and immediately realized that these pictures were much older than either of the other books.

 

“Darn it,” Lily muttered. “I thought that this was another one from James’ childhood, but I think that these might be pictures of his father instead.” She reached to take back the album, but I held onto it.

 

“I have nothing better to do, and I like to look at pictures. I only met Mr. Potter a couple of times, it would be nice to see more of him. He seemed nice,” I commented.

 

“I was always impressed with him. There was a firm but calm nature to him that I appreciated. James’ mother was just, sweet. I really was so sad when they passed,” she explained and I started flipping through the book. By looking at the clothes, it looked like it might be the late thirties or early forties. It was good to know that Wizarding fashions and robes mimicked Muggle ones. We’d flipped through a few pages, when I saw a familiar face peeking back at me.

 

“Lily, is that Albus?” Lily leaned down to get a better look at the picture, and then sat upright again.

 

“I think that it is. I know his mother moved back there, well, after his father went to prison. His family was from Godric’s Hollow, and I know from his biography that he had lived there for a while as well. His mother, father and sister were all buried there,” she explained.

 

“Huh, I um, saw markers in that cemetery for my Da’s family as well. I assumed that they were for his parents, but when we were there, I couldn’t look real closely,” I explained.

 

“I thought that your father was Welsh?” Lily asked, and apparently our conversation had attracted the attention of my brother and husband, as they were both moving over closer to us.

 

“My father grew up in Wales, but he was born near Bath. He was sent to the country during the air raids,” I explained. 

 

“You know sis, I haven’t ever really heard the whole story. Da doesn’t like to talk about it. He really wouldn’t talk about it after you brought your kids to stay there,” Haf said and I nodded at him. 

 

“Da was born in 1938, and when the bombings started in earnest, they shipped the children away, sending them out to the country. Da and his brother, Quentin, were sent to the Welsh countryside. The family that they were living with received word in 1941 that their parents had been killed. Da was only two. They were both adopted by the Iver family, the ones that they were living with, and lived on a dairy farm, not far from our childhood home. My uncle kept the last name of Iver, but when Da turned eighteen, he went looking for his family. He chose to use the Hodgson last name from then on. I found the graves when we were in Godric’s Hollow on Christmas Eve, 1997. I never saw what the first names were, we were a little busy that night; but I assume that it was my grandparents.”

 

“Wow, it’s odd that they were in that little village, that had a Wizarding community too,” Lily said off-handedly and I nodded at her.

 

“Yeah, but look at some place like Ottery St. Catchpole. There are what, four or five Wizarding families there, and the rest of the town is Muggle. Probably the same thing,” I retorted.

 

“I guess,” she said. I turned the page, and I could feel my heart stop and my eyes grow wide.

 

“Anwen,” Sirius said, putting his hand on my back. “What happened? Are you okay?” I shook my head at him.

 

“Lily, do you know who any of these people are?” I asked, pointing to a picture to the top left of the page.

 

“Um,” she mumbled, looking at the picture. “I think that the boy standing there is James father, and he’s next to his mother. That’s it. Why?”

 

My fingers were running frantically over the photo, hoping that what I was seeing wasn’t real, but the picture didn’t or wouldn’t change. My left hand covered my mouth while my right continued to caress the picture. My breathing was increasing in speed and depth, and the world felt like it was spinning. “Haf,” I whispered and my brother got up and came over next to me.

 

“Anwen, are you okay?” he asked, his voice terse.

 

“Look.” There was a beat, and it felt as if time had stopped. Then I heard him gasp as well.

 

“O..o...oh my God,” my brother stammered.

 

“We’re both seeing this, right? It’s the same, isn’t it?” I asked him.

 

“I think so, I mean, it certainly looks like...oh my God.”

 

“One way to find out,” I said and Haf started to protest.

 

“Anwen you’re not supposed to do...” with that a framed picture from our bedroom mantle was in my hands. “...magic,” he finished, futile in his effort to stop me.

 

I compared the two pictures, and they were the same. The lady was in the same chair, in front of the same house, the same toddler sitting on her lap. The one in the frame was still, a Muggle picture; while the one in the album was moving, the little boy chatting away to the older one.

 

“Winnie, who is that?” Lily asked me, questioning how I would have a picture of James family.

 

“That little boy,” I said, pointing to the toddler on the woman’s lap. “That boy, is my father. He’s being held by his birth mother. It’s the only picture we have of my grandmother. Why is James in a picture with my father and grandmother?”

 

“Anwen, what...um, give me a minute,” she said as she lifted her wand and I watched her Patronus fly from it. My eyes dropped back down to the picture, the one with my father and grandmother sitting next to Mr. Potter and his mother. I couldn’t believe it, they were...we were. My head was spinning, and I was sure that it wasn’t just from the potions any more. Sirius lengthened the chaise with magic, and then slid himself behind me, his arms wrapping around my mid section and his head coming to rest on my shoulder. He knew not to say anything, he just wanted to hold me close and comfort me.

 

Why is James’ grandmother sitting next to my grandmother. It looks like they’re at some sort of a family function or outing, but why would our dad’s both be there? I don’t understand.

 

There was a rustle, and James was with us, presently. He was dressed in his formal work robes, even though court wasn’t in session today. I looked up at him, in shock.

 

“Do you know anything about these women?” I begged him and he looked down at the two photos, the one in the album as well as the framed on in my hand.

 

“That woman,” he said, pointing to the one on the left, “she’s my grandmother, Wilma Potter. The boy standing next to her, that’s my father. He was, oh, about ten I think when this picture was taken. The woman next to her is my great aunt.”

 

“What is her name?”

 

“Anwen, what’s going on?”

 

“Please, James,” I said tersely, “just tell me her name.”

 

“My great aunt’s first name was Violet. I don’t know what her married name was. She and my grandmother were both...”

 

“Parkers.” I whispered, and Haf looked astonished.

 

“How did you know that?” James asked, sinking down to the ground to sit next to Lily, looking up at me.

 

“They were both Parkers, Violet and Wilma. Violet’s last name when she got married became,” I needed to breathe, because as soon as I said it, it would be real, “Hodgson. James your great aunt is my grandmother.”

 

His eyes bore into me, searching me for a lie. I knew that he wouldn’t find one. I could feel the shock passing through us all. We are actually related, James and I are family. I wasn’t Muggle born, I was part of a very old Wizarding family. It felt like too much, my head was spinning and I was afraid that I was going to be ill. I lay back against the strength of Sirius behind me, and closed my eyes. His arms tightened around me and his lips moved to kiss my cheek, but I was still feeling lost, like someone had ripped the rug out from underneath me, but I hadn’t fallen to the floor yet, so I couldn’t get my bearings straight.

 

“H,h,how...” James stuttered and I shook my head at him. “How, after all of these years, did we not know this?”

 

“How could we have? My father hasn’t seen his birth mother since he was a little less than two years old. This is the only picture that we have of her,” I explained, holding up the frame. “We were told, he was told that she died. James, what happened to my grandmother?”

 

“Um, oh, God, I should have figured this out. Anwen, she was a visualist, like you.” My heart fell at his words.

 

“Was, James, is she...dead?”

 

“She died just after you were married. Lily and I had to travel to France for the funeral,” he explained.

 

“Why was she living in France?” I asked. Why, if she was alive, did she let my father believe that his mother was dead? What kind of a woman was she?

 

“She was hidden from Grindelwald. He knew of her talent, and he wanted it, her,” he muttered and I closed my eyes from the weight of it. Grindelwald wanted my grandmother, like Voldemort had wanted me. I shook my head.

 

We all sat there in stunned silence, not sure what to say or do next. This wasn’t something that you came across every day, and I wasn’t sure that I had it in me to deal with this correctly. Tears started to fall, and I wasn’t even sure what was causing them. I was hurt and elated and frustrated and confused and numb all at once.

 

“James, didn’t your father ever put it together, when we met, when he learned my last name?” I asked him.

 

“He might have, but Anwen, I thought you were Welsh, that your family was Welsh. When my Dad asked where you were from, I told him Cardiff, that your family ran a dairy farm there. He asked nothing else,” James explained.

 

“You had no reason to think otherwise, and I didn’t know that my magic was, different, until years later. Oh, God, James, we’re...” I stopped, having to figure out the relationship in my head. “We’re second cousins. We’re actually family.”

 

“We’ve been family for quite a while, Anwen. We just found out that we’re blood relations too. Not all that close, but hell, it would have been close enough to keep you off the Muggle–born registry,” he said quietly. “Someone must have known. There must have been people living near them that helped her go into hiding, as well as hiding her children.”

 

Something in James words made me pause. Living near by. The words echoed over and over again, and a hot fire was replacing everything else that was filling my soul. There was someone living near by, someone who has been known to manipulate situations. Someone who liked to keep secrets. Someone who was the Wizard that finally brought Grindelwald down. I flipped back in the book to the picture of all of the Wizards and Witches, shocked to now see my grandmother standing in the back, next to Albus Dumbledore. I hadn’t recognized her before, but I wasn’t looking for my supposedly Muggle grandmother in a picture of witches and wizards.

 

“James, who do you see standing next to my grandmother?” I asked him. “There,” I said pointing to the man. His face fell when he saw our former Headmaster and Mentor, just as mine had.

 

“He, it can’t be. He wouldn’t keep something like this, not from you...” James was rambling out loud.

 

“Really, you don’t think so? Think of all of the secrets that he kept, think of what he wanted to do to Harry. You don’t think that this would be right up his alley, manipulating something like this?” I sneered at James. I wasn’t angry at him, he had no way of knowing; but I had the distinct feeling that Albus Dumbledore might. “James, I need to speak with him,” I said through pursed lips. “Now!”

 

“I’ll go get his portrait...” James suggested, starting to get up.

 

“I can get it here faster,” I said, and before any of them could object, the portrait had materialized and was sitting in the open chair that Sirius had vacated a while before. The old man looked shocked to see his surroundings, and gave everyone a polite smile, even once he saw the anger that was evident. When the portrait’s eyes met mine, his face fell.

 

“Anwen, what’s wrong?”

 

“You haven’t spoken to me in two years, and you ask me what’s wrong? Honestly, you didn’t think that I hadn’t noticed that you were dozing every time I went to the Headmistress’s office at Hogwarts, or went into James’ office at the Ministry? That is the best that you can do, ‘what’s wrong’?” I roared at him. I had so much pent up frustration at the man, and I could feel the dam burst and the floodgates open.

 

“Well, I knew that you wouldn’t take well to Ethan having Fawkes, I figured that I would give you time to adjust...” he suggested, but I was shaking my head at him.

 

“Don’t even get me started on that. I know that you knew before you died. A heads up there would have been nice, but why would you tell me anything, I’m just the boy’s mother,” I snapped. “But this has nothing to do with my eldest son. This has to do with a very old secret. Tell me, did you ever know Violet Hodgson?”

 

It was strange to see the life drain out of the face of a portrait, but that is exactly what happened. The life drained from Albus’ face, he was ashen and old in the space of a second, and I knew that he did indeed know something, or God forbid, something more.

 

“Tell me, everything. You owe me that much,” I spoke with thick words, dripping with venom for my former teacher. He sighed, folded his hands and began talking. His demeanor spoke of a grandfather telling a nighttime story before bed; but I knew that there was no way this would be a fairy tale for me.

 

“Your grandmother was an uncommonly talented witch. She was a projecting visualist, like yourself, who excelled at Charms work. She could make herself invisible and could manipulate things from across the room. She had married for love, a Muggle farmer from the outskirts of town. Your great-grandparents were none too happy, but they couldn’t deny their daughter her own life.”

 

“When Gellert met her, he was so taken with her. She was enchantingly beautiful and exceedingly talented. She nurtured him, taught him how to manipulate magic beyond what was normally taught to students in school. When he realized just what she was capable of, he became obsessed with her. He wanted her ability to see from far away. He recognized the advantage that it would give one side in an battle,” he said, and it almost sounded as if there was regret in his voice. I shook my head at him, knowing that he felt the same way at one point about me.

 

“Violet began to fear for her children, and rightly so. There were few things that were of any concern to your grandmother, she didn’t need things to make her happy; but she did love her husband and her children. Your grandfather was killed in a machine accident with some farm equipment, but no one ever really believed that it was accidental that he had died, there just wasn’t any proof. Gellert Grindelwald made veiled threats against her, promising more destruction if she didn’t join him. Your grandmother stood tall against him, until he went after her children.”

 

“How were you friends with him?” Lily blurted out, but honestly, we were all thinking it.

 

“I didn’t know any of this until much later, I didn’t know that he’d become obsessed with her, I didn’t know that he was capable of murder. I...I was young and I hid my eyes from things, thinking that if I didn’t know that they were real, then they wouldn’t be.”

 

“So he went after my Da or my Uncle Quentin?” Haf asked.

 

“No, he went after your Aunt Rose,” Dumbledore said and I started to shake my head. “You never knew about her, that’s why you don’t recognize the name. She was...she died before your grandmother went into hiding. It appeared that the house had been bombed while she was inside alone. Your grandmother and the boys were in the yard playing. The truth is that he blew the house up. I didn’t know about it until much, much later.” My hand went to cover my mouth again and I could feel fresh tears falling.

 

“To keep your grandmother and the boys safe, they were shipped out, the boys with the Muggle children who were being sent to the country. It gave them the perfect cover, they were far away and we doubted that anyone from this world would go looking for them. Your grandmother went to France. Her death was faked before she left.”

 

“She knew that they were Squibs?” I asked.

 

“Yes, with her visualization skills...” I nodded in understanding.

 

“Your grandmother went to live in the south of France, near Toulon, where she lived the rest of her life, doing very little magic. She died about 15 years ago.” He ended his tale and he just sat there looking at me. I could tell by the look in his eyes that he was still holding something back.

 

“Tell me the rest of it, now,” I ordered him.

 

“Anwen, there is nothing...” I cut him off.

 

“You’re lying to me, I can see it in your eyes. Tell me now what you’re keeping from me. Why were you involved in all of this anyway?” He refused to answer, instead just sitting there, looking at me. The answer dawned on me. “You’re related to us too, aren’t you. That’s why you were helping her. You felt responsible, like you had brought this down on your own family. Tell me everything!”

 

“I had forgotten how perceptive you can be,” he mused; and I knew that his comment was supposed to diffuse my anger with his kindness. It hadn’t worked. I stared at him, waiting for his answer.

 

“She was my third cousin, my father was her great, great, great uncle. I had brought Gellert into our family, I had introduced them, I needed to help save her and her children,” he said sadly, but I couldn’t feel any pity for him, not right now. “I knew that you were going to find out one day, after I saw your ring. I just never was sure how long it would be.” My ring, what about my ring?

 

“Wait, what do you mean my ring? My engagement ring? We bought it at a second hand store. The woman told us that it was part of a lot that her husband had gotten for them. Sirius’ pocket watch was part of it too,” I said, hearing the pitch in my voice get softer and softer as the reality dawned on me. Where did she say that the estate was?

 

“Anwen, the items were bought from the sale we held when your family fled. The ring and the watch belonged to your great-grandparents, the Parkers. They were both dead by this time as well.” I couldn’t take much more, Sirius had inadvertently bought me back my own family heirlooms, and Dumbledore knew from the time that we were engaged when we were young. I felt sick, that was twenty years ago, he’s known for all that time.  

 

“I don’t believe you!” I roared at him, and it felt like Sirius was holding me down now, which I was quite certain he was. “You have known about this for all of this time. That’s why it was you that came to see me when I was eleven. You wanted to test me, even then. Tell me!”

 

“Yes, it’s true,” he answered quietly.

 

“You, you manipulated all of this. You...oh God, was anything that you told me the truth? I trusted you, completely, and this is what I get for it. You pushed and prodded and made me work beyond what the normal limits could be, all so that you could make me your little plaything? Why, why didn’t you ever tell me the truth?”

 

“I couldn’t Anwen. I needed you where you were.” The tears stopped, and I felt disgusted. I had been used for all of these years.

 

“I don’t believe you, I can’t even begin to think about what must run through that warped, addled brain of yours. I have spent half of my life trying to understand what I was, why I had all this power and these really rare skills, and here, you had the answers all along. Did you enjoy watching me flounder and suffer? Did you get some perverse pleasure in my anguish?” I stopped talking, I couldn’t say any more, I was afraid that I was going to be sick over the whole thing.

 

“Albus, why didn’t you say anything to me?” James asked, and it was a good question.

 

“Because it was obvious by the end of her first year that all of you had grown close, that you trusted each other. You would have told her,” he answered. James didn’t like the reply. He quickly rose to his feet and moved so that he was face to face with the man in the frame.

 

“You really are the manipulator that Anwen has always said you were. I didn’t want to believe you, I didn’t want you to be working all of the angles of the game. I wanted you to be the good guy, doing what was right. How foolish I was. That doesn’t explain why you never told her or me, later. Once she was part of my family, once she was with Sirius and part of our lives, why didn’t you let us know?”

 

“Because, she needed to be in place,” he said quietly.

 

“In place, in place for what?” James bellowed at him.

 

“The final battle, James. He needed me to be where I was for the final battle. What was your plan? Hmm? Shield Harry, or was I the final weapon. If Harry failed, you were sure that I would lose control and blow everything to bits? I was the expendable one, wasn’t I?”

 

He said nothing, but that action spoke volumes. 

 

“You disgust me. I could have met her, I could have known her. Hell, my father could have seen his mother again, but you took all of that away from us, didn’t you? I can’t believe that I ever, ever looked up to you!” I screamed, and my heart was racing within my chest. “Please, don’t ever attempt to make contact with me again. The world may think that you’re a great man, but I know that all you are is a spoiled child who wants to make sure that they win at their game. I have a secret to tell you, no one likes to play with someone who cheats.” I looked away, and turned myself so that I was sitting sideways in Sirius’ lap now, and I buried my face in his chest. My husband comforted me and soothed me, and I listened to James.

 

“I’m removing you from my office, Albus,” he spoke calmly and with resolve, but his voice was forced and I could hear the pain reverberate through him. “Your counsel is no longer needed. You wanted to use my son as a weapon. You never gave Anwen the chance to be reunited with her family, and you denied her a lineage that was rightly hers; but most of all, you lied to us both. Goodbye.” I lifted my head in time to see James flourishing his wand and the portrait disappearing. He came over and knelt before me, taking one of my tear soaked hands in his.

 

“I always knew that there was something very special about you, Winnie. Turns out, that it was just that we were family. Welcome to the Potters,” he said, wrapping one arm around me and then using the other to reach over and grab my brother’s hand. Boy, do I have one interesting call to make to my father.

 

 


Chapter 26: Chapter 25: Wiggle
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Chapter 25:

Wiggle

 

April 2002

Kreacher POV:

 

Whatever would my mistress think if she saw this house now? Children everywhere, children being noisy, making messes, leaving fingerprints on the glass and spilling things. My mistress would be mortified, she would never have her beloved family house treated this way. But, she’s not the mistress anymore, and she hasn’t been for a very long time. Now I have her.

 

It’s not that she’s mean, in fact, compared to my mistress, she is kind. She always talks to me nicely, and says please and thank you, which is strange. House Elves know that our lot in life is to be spoken to harshly. They are Wizards, we are Elves, that is the way of things. She told me that I don’t have to clean this house, that they have a staff to do that, but I want to. This is my house, I am the elf of Grimmauld Place, I should be the one to clean it.

 

But it’s all of these children, everywhere, making such messes; but the house is...

what would I call it? Hum, there’s laughter and bright colors and singing and well...

 

I guess that you would call it happy. Who would have ever thought of Grimmauld Place as happy?

 

Oh, another mess up in the ballroom. I wish that they wouldn’t let them fly in there, it only makes more messes for me to clean up.

 

Anwen POV:

 

“As you can see, we utilize all of the available space here. It helps that the house is charmed, we can add space when we need to, but honestly, we seem to have hit a plateau in registrations,” I explained. Behind me I could hear the familiar pop of Kreacher slipping into what was once the ballroom to clean up a slight mess left when two of the ten year olds collided while flying. It was raining outside, so they were having their recreation inside today.

 

“How many students do you have enrolled now?” a tall woman asked from the back of the small group that I was taking on the tour. They were from the financial disbursements department at the Ministry. These were the people that I needed to impress to get our money from.

 

“We have seventy-eight students in seven age levels. We’ve kept the three and four year old students together, but all other ages have their own class,” I explained.

 

“How many staff do you maintain?” a kindly man in the middle of the group asked me.

 

“Our staff now consists of six full time instructors, eight part time instructors and five people who help with the building and supplies,” I explained, and I knew the next question that would be asked. It was always the next question asked.

 

“I understand that you have a werewolf and Squibs on your staff?” the tall woman again asked.

 

“Yes, Ma’am. Mr. Lupin is still our Potions teacher, just as he has been since we opened nearly three years ago. We have several people on staff who do not possess magical ability. They help with moving children between rooms, the care of the building and supplies, meal preparation. We’ve recently promoted one of them to the assistant teacher in the life skills class. We also have the Black family house elf who can often be found working around the house, a centaur who comes in about twice a month to do lessons on Divination with our older students and a Goblin who teaches about banking and financial matters monthly with the same students.” I was proud of the diversity that the children were being exposed to. I thought that in the end, it would help them see the great things that we could all achieve, together.

 

“Yes, well, Mrs. Hodgson-Black, we thank you so much for your tour, and you truly have grown a remarkable facility here. Grimmauld House is quite a school,” the head of the committee remarked. “We should be returning to the Ministry, so that we can begin our other work for the day.”

 

“I understand, and I have to be heading over there as well. If you’ll follow me to the Floo?” I said, indicating that we should walk down the flights of stairs. I watched as they each went through and then breathed a sigh of relief when they were all gone.

 

“That bad?” Lily asked. She must have been in the supply room, because I hadn’t seen her down here.

 

“It’s just...I really hate doing that part of this job. I’ve never really been good with the whole ‘making nice’ with people thing. Every time they visit, I have to justify that Remus is on the staff. It’s getting rather old,” I explained and Lily nodded.

 

“Oh, you’d better get going, aren’t you supposed to meet with James and King in a few?”

 

“Yes, I am. You sure you’ve got everything under control here?” I quickly checked with her, but I was sure that she did. She knew the school as well as I did.

 

“We’re fine, lunch is in fifteen, and then we move into the afternoon schedule. Hopefully it will stop raining so that we can take the kids outside for a while. We really need to figure out a charm that will repel the rain. Like a huge umbrella over the yard,” she mused.

 

“Well, that sounds like something for Sirius to be working on. Remind me to ask him about it later. Okay, off to the Ministry, you know how to get hold of me,” I said before I grabbed some floo powder and went through the fire. I was going against protocol today, and not going in through the Atrium, but since I didn’t have a wand to check, I technically didn’t have to register with the desk. If anyone threw a fit about it, I figured that King could smooth it over for me. One of the perks of having the Minister as a very close, personal friend.

 

I stepped out of the floo in the Minister’s offices, and walked down the short hallway to the main reception area. Percy was waiting for me.

 

“You do know that proper procedure dictates that you are to enter through the Lobby and register your presence here?” 

 

“Yes, Percy, I do realize that. I also know that the only place that I will be walking through today are these offices, and trust me, neither of the men that I’m meeting with cares that I haven’t registered my presence. It’s nice to see you too,” I replied, and then watched him get flustered at my last comment.

 

“Oh, um, yes, well, it’s, um nice to see you too,” he stammered out. The poor boy, simple niceties still flustered him. “They’re waiting for you in the conference room.”

 

“Thank you, Percy. Have a nice day,” I said as I walked across the outer offices and into the conference room. When I pulled open the door, I was surprised to find more than just King and James waiting for me. Lisette and Jagjit were sitting there, as was Tonks and my husband. “You know, this isn’t a room that most people would want to walk into,” I commented. “Head and Deputy Head Aurors, Senior Training Auror, Chief of the Wizengamot, Minister of Magic and...love what are you doing here?”

 

“Come and sit down, Winnie. We’ll explain everything,” Sirius said, holding his hand out to me. I warily walked over and took the seat next to him, at the end of the table. 

 

“You will understand if this feels a little odd to me?” 

 

“It’s not, these are our friends. There is something that we need to talk with you about,” Sirius again tried to soothe me, but it wasn’t working.

 

“Who died?” I asked, now getting worried.

 

“No one died, Anwen. Geesh, lady, you’re jumpier than a kneazle in a room full of rocking chairs. Sit down and listen to us, we have a proposition for you,” Tonks said, and she made me laugh. She was again pregnant, due to have another baby in mid summer. I didn’t envy her that, being pregnant that time of the year was unbearable.

 

“Really, what would the Auror department be propositioning me about? Want to come and start recruiting the ten year olds at school?” I joked, and everyone chuckled, but I could see their faces get serious again. “Really, what is this about?”

 

“Anwen,” Lisette started, “I will be resigning as Head Auror in a month. Kingsley and I have decided to get married, and the idea of having my husband as my boss doesn’t sit well with either of us.”

 

“Oh, that’s wonderful. Congratulations, when is the wedding?” I gushed. I was so very happy when they had started dating two years ago. It was nice that he was finally moving on, after Amelia's death.

 

“It will be in September, in my native France. We will be living here, but I wanted to get married in my home parish with my remaining family near by,” she explained.

 

“Please, make sure that we know when the ceremony will be. We’d love to come, if you’ll have us,” I told her.

 

“Have you, Anwen, you’d better be planning on singing,” King boomed back, half spoken, half laughed.

 

“Of course, my old friend.”

 

“Who you calling old?” We both started laughing, we were discussing our newest round of aches and pains a few days ago.

 

“No one, absolutely no one,” I said with an innocent smile.

 

“So, we are finding ourselves without a Head Auror. I have every intention of promoting Harry to the position, one day,” King began speaking, “but it’s too soon, he’s too young and he doesn’t know enough about how to work within the department to lead them yet.”

 

“That makes sense,” I agreed. “He’s never really had to work with such a thing, he was always the one in charge, and the only people he let get close to him were Hermione and Ron, and later Ginny. So who are you promoting?”

 

“We’re not promoting anyone,” Jagjit started, and I looked at him oddly.

 

“Well, you’d be the next in line, as the deputy head. Why aren’t you taking it?” 

 

“Anwen, it’s time for me to return to India. Kanta is finished at Hogwart's this summer, it is time for us to return to our home,” he explained, and I smiled at him. I would most definitely miss him.

 

“Is that why I'm here? Do you need my help brainstorming, because I really don't know what people have done in the last few years, since the war...” I rambled. Sirius reached over with the other hand and held mine between both of his, and pushed some calm and contentment at me.

 

“Not exactly, Anwen,” King began, “we know who we want.” I looked at him, and then at all of the faces around the room. They couldn't be stupid enough to be suggesting this, could they? Really? I started shaking my head at them.

 

“No, no way. I haven't been an Auror in eight years. You can't possibly think that this is a good idea!” I questioned my former partner, rather loudly.

 

“I think that it's a brilliant idea. When they came to me with the plan, I realized that this was exactly what the department needs,” he started and I looked at him like he'd lost his mind.

 

“I'm not a Auror anymore. I teach at a primary school,” I protested.

 

“Winnie, love,” Sirius said gently. I turned to face my husband, and his face had such gentle concern on it that it completely disarmed me. “I know that you enjoy your work at the school, but it's not your calling. You excel at what you're working at now, and it does make you happy and leave you with a sense of accomplishment, but its not enough. I know that, I can feel it in you, no matter how you try to hide it. Listen to what they have to say, please. Keep an open mind, and just listen, for me.” With a request like that, how could I refuse? I nodded and he leaned over and kissed me, and then we both turned to look at Lisette.

 

“We have been friends for over twenty years, Anwen,” she explained, “and in that time, I have always known you to be a forthright and dogged advocate for justice. I have enjoyed my years here, but England is not my home, and it never truly will be. I will always be an outsider, someone who was brought here to help organize the department, but I would never really be one of them. Jagjit will tell you the same thing. We have respect, but not because we are respected as people, we only have the respect that our positions have granted us.”

 

“The department needs someone homegrown to lead it now,” Jagjit took up the explanation. “We've taken it as far as it can go, but they need one of their own to shepherd them now, someone that they respect as a person and as a leader.”

 

“Winnie, you're the person that we need,” Tonks told me and I was again shaking my head. “Look, us old guard people, we all worked with you, heck you trained half of us. You were one of the most respected in the department, right up there with Mad–Eye and Kingsley here. When Fudge fired you, there was an uproar, they all felt like they had lost their partner, because they had lost you. The new classes, they had you as a teacher at Hogwarts, and you're the one that saved their lives on the battlefield. There is a level of respect there that none of us can hope to reach.”

 

“Anwen, we're at a crossroads,” Kingsley continued. “I need the new Aurors, the ones that have joined since the end of the war, to work with the ones who have been around since the beginning. I need them to feel like one team, and it won't happen with a foreigner leading them, and I can't put Harry in right away, he's still too young and far too green. We need you, we need someone who can bridge the gap.”

 

“Winnie,” I heard James calling me and I turned to look at him. “Harry will eventually wear this mantle too, but unlike some of the others that he's had in life, this is one that he wants. Please, for me, take the job so that you can train Harry to be the kind of department leader that we will need in the future. Winnie, help get him ready, again.”

 

I looked at James for a long moment. He asked so little of me, never really has. Most of what I had given to him, Lily and Harry had been offered, never asked for, so to have James asking for something, I knew that it must be important. I looked down at the table, studying the intricate swirls in the pattern of the wood. I traced my finger along a lighter band, thinking about what this might mean.

 

“I haven't dueled anyone in three years, and then it was Sirius, and strictly for educational purposes,” I threw out there.

 

“And you wiped the floor up with me, love. The only reason it was even a close fight was because you had the Muggle prosthetic at the time. Your current leg would be hard to beat, and you're getting that spiffy top of the line one in a few weeks,” Sirius told me.

 

“Well, about that, I don't know what kind of recovery time I am going to need from the new leg. What if I'm not physically capable of doing the job right away?”

 

“It's not like I'm falling off the planet. I can remain to fit your schedule, dear,” Lisette said. “You'll need to finish the school year.” She was right.

 

“And you're sure that no one would have hard feelings about this?” I asked Tonks.

 

“Hell, no, they'll probably throw a party to welcome you back,” Tonks said, her hand rubbing over her protruding belly button in the middle of her stomach.

 

“Since they're both leaving, who would be the deputy?” I asked, just covering all the bases.

 

“Carl Braudish wants to leave at the end of the next calendar year. He could be your deputy until then, and after that, we could promote Harry. It would give you a few years to really train him. I'd like him in place in five years,” Kingsley filled in the gaps. Darn, they really had come up with everything. I studied all of their faces, and then came to rest on my husbands last.

 

“You'd be all right if I did this? If I went back? I know that you were happy when I was out of danger the last time.” I asked and he just took his hands and caressed my face.

 

“It's not like before, we're not headed into a war, Anwen. We're all safe, we're all fine, and any danger encountered will only be temporary. I can see it in your eyes that you want to do this.” He affirmed what my head and heart were already thinking.

 

“You know, sometimes I hate that you know me so well,” I muttered back, somewhat amused. “Well, I guess then, that you have a new head Auror; but there is one condition.”

 

“What, Anwen?” King asked, looking a little concerned about what that could be.

 

“If the new prosthetic doesn't work the way that I am hoping, we can revisit this discussion,” I told them.

 

“Deal,” Kingsley said, he was never worried about the new leg. 

 

Kingsley requested that the food he'd ordered be brought in, and we spent the next few hours hashing out details and talking about what I would need to do to get back up to code with everything. Once we really reviewed things, there was very little that I needed to do, and I could have the requirements fulfilled by the first of August, when I would rejoin the department, pending the results of my mid-June operation.

 

 

 

Sirius POV:

 

We were lying in bed, the windows were open, letting the early summer night breeze flood the room. Anwen had planted lilacs along the edge of the house, just under our windows and the fragrant blooms were giving the air a pleasant odor. I was watching Anwen, her face marveling at the slight movement in her right foot. Very slowly, and not particularly smoothly, she was moving her big toe. It would jerk down and then jerk back up, but she was moving it.

 

“Ah, did you see that? I have a toe that moves,” she beamed. “Sirius, you have no idea how weird this feels. It's...oh my goodness, I have sensations in the bottom of that foot. Merlin, I never thought that I would feel anything there again,” she rambled on, but I knew that the fancy prosthetic was making her excited.

 

“What else do you feel?”

 

“It's not like before, there isn't a complete complement of feeling, but I can feel my toes, and when I had the shoe on earlier, I knew it. There's some responsiveness when I walk, like I know that I'm stepping down on it,” she explained. “It's just...wow.”

 

I sat up and went to the end of the bed, sitting near her feet. I had a theory that I wanted to test. I lifted the right leg, surprised at how natural feeling it was. The 'skin' on it felt warm and pliable, just like flesh; but I could also feel the metal that was underneath. I could almost feel the magic coursing through it as well. I started rubbing the calf of her right leg, and a pleasant smile and slight blush crept across her face.

 

“I take it you feel that?”

 

“Uh, huh,” she uttered in a high, breathy voice. I moved my hands down, and massaged her ankle and heel, and Anwen closed her eyes. Her feet had always been very sensitive and my rubbing them had been a turn on for years. When I found that out, I wondered how she had survived my doing it the years before we got together. She finally explained that the action had only become erogenous for her because I had done it for all those years. My hand gently kneaded the bottom of the foot, and she closed her eyes and let a tiny moan escape. I couldn't help but chuckle at her, she was having way too much enjoyment here, but I also knew where this was headed, so I knew that I would too.

 

I softly kneaded each of her toes, and then lifted her foot, and kissed the tops of them. She moaned louder, and her breathing was getting ragged. I was quite interested in seeing just how far along I could get her by manipulating the fake foot, but I wasn't given the chance as she sat up, reached down, grabbed my shirt and yanked me to her. I sort of fell down on top of her, one of her hands going under my tee shirt to my chest, the other slipping inside of my shorts to knead my bum. I knew that she could feel just how watching her get turned on, was turning me on.

 

“Glad to know that you were getting something out of that too,” she mumbled before her lips were on mine and her tongue was in my mouth. “You definitely need to do that more often.”

 

 

Tonks POV:

 

I was sitting at my desk, looking around the office, and thinking about how nicely things were running now. There didn't seem to be any whispering or gossiping. There certainly wasn't any animosity. Everyone seemed to like being at work, it was a rare and wonderful thing. I knew that it had a great deal to do with our new boss, and it wasn't just that I really liked her, and she was like the sister I never had. Anwen is a good boss, fair and evenhanded, she listens to people and encourages them to try things and supports people doing what they do best. We haven't run this well in decades.

 

I looked down at my desk, to the picture of my three little angels. Teddy was four and a half, Lara just turned three and my sweet little Andie was just five months old. The picture was taken the day of Andie's christening, and they were all clean and presentable. It was a rare occasion. We had done something unexpected in asking both James and Lily and Draco to be her godparents. The Potters didn't seem to mind, and Draco was thrilled. All three of my children had star names for their middle names, just like Anwen and Sirius had done with their children. I liked that we were building new family legacies.  I hope that our children will do the same.

 

“Aurors Lupin and Potter, can you please come into my office,” Anwen called and Harry and I both got up from our desks and headed toward the back, where Anwen's private office was. Only she and Carl had private offices, I could as the Head Training Auror, but I liked to be out with the squad; anyway, it helped me keep my place clean, knowing that everyone could see if my desk were a complete mess. Harry and I stepped into Anwen's space, and I could see that this wasn't a family social talk we were going to have.

 

“Close the door,” she asked Harry and he did, and then she indicated that we should sit down. After we were comfortable, she started talking. “We're going to be leaving in a few minutes to go an execute some arrest warrants, and then you're going to be taking the detainees to the Wizarding Prison.” Anwen was cold and detached, and clearly very upset about this.

 

“Who are we arresting?” Harry asked. I knew where his concern was coming from. She usually wasn't involved with assignments, that would fall to the deputy, and they were generally given based on who was available. 

 

“Harry, you're going to be arresting Delores Umbridge and Tonks, you're going to arrest Greyback.” We both looked at her shocked.

 

“Winnie,” I called her by her first name, which isn't something I usually did at work. “We can't arrest them, they're on the special ward at St. Mungo's. They're not going anywhere.”

 

“They won't be for long. We're going together, so that I can reverse the magic on them. I need for them to be arrested and tried and sentenced,” she explained.

 

“Please tell me this isn't about that stupid article?” Harry asked. Someone had written a rather unflattering article about Anwen when she'd first taken the job, claiming that the department shouldn't be run by someone who could be potentially magically unstable. It also insinuated that the only reason she wasn't charged with any crime was due to her relationship with the Minister and the chief of the Wizengamot.

 

“It wasn't the article, Harry, well not completely,” she confessed. “I need to do this, I need to reverse whatever I did to them, and I need for justice, societal justice, to be served. I just think that there is an irony to having the two of you be the arresting Aurors. I want this over before the holidays. It's eating away at me, and not just because of that article. I have thicker skin than that.”

 

“I don't get it, Aunt Winnie. Why worry about it now?”

 

“Because Ethan was asking questions, and I need to give him better answers than the ones that I've been able to lately,” Anwen answered him, but I knew that Harry was still confused. He wrinkled his brow and pursed his lips when he was trying to figure something out. “Harry, this is something very important that you need to understand for when you're sitting in this chair. Your actions will always speak far more than the language that you use.”

 

“I know that. Do you think that we don't think you believe in justice, because of what you did to them? You're wrong if you think that. Most of us are convinced that it was really fair what they're going through. The rest just think that they should be dead. We all suffered at Umbridge's hand, we don't feel pity for her,” Harry explained.

 

“I understand that; but I don't agree. I need to give the power over their punishment back to the people. I need to be able to look my son in the eye, and tell him that it is never the right thing to dole out justice on our own. We should always, always, let society exact its price for wrongs done to others. I can't expect my staff to put their personal feelings aside and to be evenhanded and fair if I am not. Do you understand?” she asked and I could see the wheels turning.

 

“You don't really have a personal life when you're in charge, do you?” he asked after a very long, contemplative pause.

 

“While there are certainly parts of my life that are mine and that I have no intention of discussing with any of you, it is also true that anything that I do or say can be looked at in light of the decisions that I make professionally. I need for my personal life to reflect my professional philosophy. This is a place where the two are incongruent with each other, and I have the power to rectify that, and I feel that I must. Also, Harry, it's what I most regret in my life.”

 

He nodded, almost sorrowfully. There were only a few of us who knew that he would be sitting in her chair in five years, but I could see now that he would be ready, Anwen would make sure of that. I was again impressed by her poise and presence, and wondered how different our lives would be if she weren't in them.

 

We rose, and she grabbed two parchments from her desk, handing them to each of us. “We're going to Portkey to the hospital so we don’t draw attention to what we're doing. Once they are in prison, I will have a press release issued. We should be able to avoid the evening paper, and then I won't be available for comment until after the first of the year.  The Minister and I have already discussed the timing. Their trials have already been set for mid-February, even if they're not on the official calendar yet.”

 

“How do the politics not drive you crazy?” Harry queried.

 

“They do, my boy; I just don't let it get to me anymore. I have far bigger things to be consumed with.”

 

“Perspective, huh?”

 

“Exactly.” She grabbed the tattered file folder from her desk, and told us to grab on, and then activated the Portkey. We landed in the reception area outside the restricted section of the long term rehab floor. Anwen quickly talked to the receptionist and then we were walking in. I watched Anwen remove the magical recorder from her pocket, and set it to record. They were housed in the same room, since their mutterings and screams tended to frighten the other patients. A medi-witch followed us in and was standing near by. Harry, the medi-witch and I had all drawn our wands. Anwen lifted her hand and closed her eyes, and I watched as she wiggled her fingers a little and then her hand began to glow yellow.

 

The pair stopped thrashing, and around them there was a golden light, and then they both began to stir. Greyback opened his eyes first. He saw Anwen and screamed a very unmanly scream, sitting up and then getting off his bed and backing himself into a corner.

 

“You, you did this to me. Get her away from me!” he screamed at her.

 

“You took my son, and I was upset. I'm sorry about what I did to you,” Anwen told him quietly. “However, it doesn't negate your responsibility for what happened. Auror Lupin, if you will?”

 

I walked over to him, and said the binding spell. “Fenir Greyback, you are hereby taken into custody and will be detained by the Ministry of Magic for crimes against the Magical community of Great Britain. Be advised that what you say now could be used against you before the Wizengamot.”

 

“You're going to arrest me, after what she did to me? How is that fair?” he complained.

 

“It's not fair, it's just,” I explained, and then activated the Portkeys that all Aurors carry to take him and me to the Wizarding jail.

 

 

Harry POV:

 

I was surprised just how quickly Aunt Winnie had released them, but I also had always known that it was only going to be her magic that would let them be free. I looked down at the simpering, stupid look on Umbridge's face and had to stifle a laugh. This was a memory that I wanted to cherish for a very long time. She looked terrified of Aunt Winnie, and I guess if I were her, I would be too. I had immobilized her, so she wasn't going anywhere.  Aunt Winnie moved a chair over next to her face, and sat down next to her. This should be good.

 

“Why? Why did you take my son?”

 

“You never should have been in the job you were in. That was mine, I had spent all of my career supporting and cleaning up after that stupid moron, only to have him blow it all on that insolent boy,” Umbridge said, her eyes coming to rest on me. “I lost everything when Cornelius lost favor with the people, and then gave up his job. He was never smart enough to be Minister, I was the one pulling the strings. Things were good for a while, Voldemort wasn't what people had made him out to be, he simply wanted order. What a wonderful thing. But then the two of you, you had to ruin everything. A stupid Muggle–born girl and that half-blood do gooder. Anwen, I took your son because you took everything from me.”

 

Aunt Winnie just shook her head at Umbridge. “How little you know of the world.”

 

“What, and you do, you Mudblood?”

 

 Aunt Winnie started to chuckle at her. “I'm proud of my Muggle heritage. I'm proud that my parents raised me to judge people on who they are, not what they are. I'm proud that I'm raising all of my children, all seven of them, the same way. I'm sorry that I trapped you in your own mind, but I have a feeling that it might be preferable to spending your life in prison. Goodbye Delores, have a nice life,” Aunt Winnie said, and then she gave me a nod.

 

I arrested Delores Umbridge, and I felt so very, very good about it. 

 

 

Anwen POV:

 

I returned alone to the Ministry, and went to the MLE offices to tell them to issue a press release that both of them were in custody, and that the trials would be after the first of the year. I then went to my office, cleared off my desk, locked the room and went to the Minister's suite. I could floo home from there. James and Kingsley were waiting for me.

 

“Feeling better?” James asked.

 

“Yes, needed to be done, and so it has. Hopefully by the time I return after the holidays, the press will have something else to talk about. James, you're sure that Ethan won't have to testify in open court?”

 

“I'm sure. We've got his memories, and we allow those to be used when the offended party is so young. Anwen, he won't have to face them, or even know that this is going on. You'll need to testify, and we'll have to ply Sirius with some potions to keep his temper under control, but Ethan will be kept out of it,” James promised and I nodded. 

 

We talked a bit more, and I handed James the recording device from the encounter in the hospital ward. He promised that he would give it to Cedric, who was now one of his lead prosecutors. We talked a while longer, until Harry's hippogriff Patronus landed in the room, telling me that both he and Tonks were done, and that they were in the Auror offices, but leaving before the press release went out.  I knew that it would change, that he and Ginny were going to have new Patronuses after the binding ceremony, but the hippogriff for them was still taking some getting used to, even after almost three years. Tonks was on vacation for the week, and Harry didn't have to be in until the twenty-seventh. Hopefully four days was enough to make all of this die down. 

 

“Well then, I'll see you at your house later,” I told James, getting up to floo home.

 

“Yes,” he affirmed. “I'm going to get Evan from the station and then we'll be home as well. Lily can't wait to see him, she's been missing him.”

 

“I know she has,” I confirmed. “She's spent long evenings reminding me just how hard it is. Ethan's anxious to hear about Hogwarts as well. What are your holiday plans?” I asked King.

 

“Lette and I are finally going on our honeymoon. We're going to Martinique for ten days, and I will be happy to be leaving all of this behind for a while,” he explained. I loved his nickname for his wife.

 

“Good, enjoy yourselves, drink something with some good rum in it for me, and we'll meet when we all return after the first of the year,” I suggested and then I left the office to head to the floo. There was a gentle sense of peace within my soul, and I was glad that I had been able to put things right. I knew that I would be having a very happy Christmas.  


Chapter 27: Chapter 26: Back to Where it All Began
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Chapter 26:

Back to where it all began

 

August 2004

Sirius POV:

 

I grabbed another butterbeer from the table, and walked over to where James and Harry were sitting on the edge of the patio. This is quite a set up they have here. Who knew that Harry was enough of a golf man that living on the edge of a golf course would be something that he'd get excited about. He and James had been out earlier today, they kept wanting me to go with them, but really, hitting a ball with a stick and then walking around...definitely not a way that I'd want to spend my afternoon. I could at least enjoy rugby when I went with Anwen, golf was far too slow. “This is some place you've built for yourself, Harry.  I'm impressed.”

 

“Thanks,” he replied. “After living in the Manor and Grimmauld Place, I needed someplace larger. I liked the flat we had near Holyhead, but Ginny and I were tripping over each other there. This is our place, our home,” he explained. He had been promoted to deputy head of the Auror department under Anwen at the first of the year. He had no idea that within three years, he would be promoted to be Head Auror. Anwen was going to tell him next spring.

 

“You could have stayed at Grimmauld. It was certainly large enough for you and Ginny,” I told him but he was shaking his head.

 

“Okay, secret here, Ginny hated that place. Said that it reminded her of a tomb. When Mum and Aunt Winnie needed a place for the school, I was more than happy to let them have it. Ginny was over the moon about it, and a happy wife makes for a happy home.” I laughed, he'd learned the lesson already, and only four years in.

 

“That is true. So, how many bedrooms does the house have?” I asked.

 

“Nine, we wanted to have enough room for family to come and visit, and we both have a ton of family,” he replied.

 

I settled down and watched some of the golfers on the course, taking advantage of the last vestiges of summer sun, and when I really stopped to look at them, I couldn't believe what they were wearing. The colors were...loud and the patterns were...louder. These Muggles dressed like...I don't even know.

 

“Harry, when you go out there on the field,” I asked, but he interrupted me.

 

“Links, Uncle Sirius, you golf on a course of links.”

 

“Right, when you're out there on that grass, do you dress like them? I always had better hope for you there boy, you have a bike and everything,” I would really be disgusted if he dressed like that.

 

“Hey, I have some rather swell clothes for when I golf,” James piped up and I just stared at him.

 

“Swell, did you just use the word swell, Prongs? Honestly?” I looked at my best friend and felt ill at the fact that he was, well, old. “Please tell me that I'm not as old as you.”

 

“Actually, Padfoot, you're older. You've got a good two months on me,” he responded.

 

“Okay, chronologically, I'm older, but you're, man, you're a...when did you get old?”

 

“He's not old,” Lily called as the women exited the house, “he's well aged, like some good wine.” She sat down on the arm on his chair and wrapped an arm around him. I was about to say something when Anwen plopped herself down in my lap.

 

“Neither of you are old,” she said, “you just show your age in different ways. However, we should face it, none of us are getting any younger. My baby is leaving for Hogwarts tomorrow,” she reminded us and I could see her bottom lip quivering.

 

“I know, love, but we've still got five more at home that need you,” I reminded her as I kissed her cheek. As if on cue, the Potter children and ours came tearing around from the side of the house.

 

“Harry, can we get our brooms out?” Evan asked his older brother.

 

“Sure,” he replied. “I'll go and set the privacy charms.” All of the kids, even Jamie, went into the house to get their brooms. Ginny remained seated, which I thought was odd; what was even odder was her response when Lily asked her if she was excited to be headed back to Holyhead for training.

 

“You know, I'm weighing my options right now.”

 

I could see Lily considering asking her another question, when Molly and Arthur came through the house, and out onto the porch.

 

“I left the tart you asked me to make on the sideboard dear,” Molly told her daughter. “I like the color that you painted the downstairs loo as well, glad that you didn't go with that yellow you had talked about, it was rather garish.”

 

“Thanks, Mum. That was Luna's choice, not mine. I got the sample home and put it up to the wall, and I knew that it was all wrong. I like the blue, it's much more calming,” Ginny replied. Several of Ginny's brothers and their wives came through, Bill and Fleur brought their two little girls and Percy brought his. You know, for a family that made such a big deal out of having a girl when Ginny was born, they certainly seem to have enough of them now.

 

Dinner was a huge and pleasant affair. Ginny, Molly, Lily and Anwen had all cooked, and many of the wives had brought other dishes along as well. I really think that my wife's statement that I was like a cat, keep me well fed and out of heat and I was happy, was most definitely true.

 

I watched as Hermione tried to corner Anwen about something from work, but she very deftly was able to maneuver around it.

 

“Hermione, child, I am more than happy to discuss this with you in two days, when I am in the office. Right now, I am at a family gathering, and I very much would like to be able to enjoy my family while I can. My son leaves for Hogwarts tomorrow, and I am not doing well with that thought,” she said calmly, and I could see the young witch figuring out what Anwen was saying.

 

“Sorry, um, Winnie. I didn't mean to take your time away from Ethan,” Hermione apologized.

 

“I know that you didn't. Now, how about if we plan on meeting when I'm in the office on the second? I will need a good distraction that day,” Anwen suggested.

 

“That would be fine.” Hermione went off to chase Ron away from the buffet table, and Anwen settled down on my lap again. She really was masking a great deal of apprehension and fear, but not really for Ethan's safety. The threat against him was long gone, I knew that she was simply fearful that our eldest son would no long need her.

 

Lily and Molly’s screeching and crying and hugging across the patio and smothering Ginny broke my concentration from trying to bolster Anwen's emotional state. Lily made eye contact with Anwen and nodded and I watched as my wife began to cry.

 

“Winnie, what's going on?”

 

“Ginny's pregnant. Lily and I have suspected for about a week, but we wanted her to tell us in her own time. When they invited us all over, I knew that it just wasn't to gloat about winning the family Quidditch match this year, again, but instead it probably had to do with this. Oh, Sirius, Harry is going to be a father,” she cooed.

 

“Okay, everyone,” Harry yelled as he climbed up on a chair. “Well, Ginny told the Mums, so I get to tell everyone else. We're going to have a baby, she's due in April. She's also not returning to Quidditch, which is why we've built our house here in Truro,” he announced, and there was great cheering among the family.

 

“I thought that it was just so you could be close to the greens,” Bill yelled back, and there was a few snickers in the crowd. The Weasley family descended upon Harry and Ginny, along with the Potter children and a few of ours as well. It was something to watch Prongs hug his son, knowing that his boy would become a father within a year.

 

“That's a pretty cool thing there, watching one generation move into another. He's not the baby anymore,” Anwen told me. “None of them are, our children or the Potters’. The Lupin's kids are the youngest in our generation, but they're soon going to be pushed aside by another whole new generation. Where did the time go love?”

 

“We lived it, Winnie love; and as our children grow up and move on, we get to move on to new things too. Please, sweetheart, don't be sad,” I asked her. 

 

“You know, this means that you can start calling James grandpa,” she reminded me with a glint in her eyes. He had been teasing me mercilessly about the fact that Bastien was to become a father any day now, Laure was due at the beginning of September.

 

“Oh, you are so very right, I can indeed tease him. Hmm, perhaps a little prank might be in order?” I suggested, and Anwen shook her head.

 

“My love, my darling, just remember whatever you dish out, you're going to need to be able to take as well,” she muttered, and I knew that she was right. I still hate it when she's right.

 

 

Anwen POV:

 

Harry and Tonks were on patrol today, but it was my eyes that kept darting around. It wasn't that I was even worried that anything would happen today, it was just that I was putting my son on the train, and I knew that there were nine threats that had come into the office regarding doing something to the train. None of them were considered credible, but, they were there nonetheless. Sirius teased me that I knew too much, and it was freaking me out.

 

Ethan was pushing his trolley toward the train, Evan in front of him. The elder boy was excited that the younger was finally joining him. I hated to think about what would happen if Ethan wasn't in Gryffindor. His best friend and his father might disown him.

 

“I'm going to get my things onto the train, Mum,” Ethan said and sped off with Evan before I could even say anything. A slight sigh escaped me before I could stop it. Lily linked her arm through mine and Sirius wrapped his arm over my shoulder.

 

“It gets easier, Winnie. Every year it gets easier. I was able to let go of Harry, and now look, I'm going to be a grandmother. I know it's hard, but it's time for him to go,” she told me, knowing what I needed to hear. I started to cry because I knew that she was right. Lily wrapped her arms around me, and hugged me. “You know, thirty years ago today, I had to do the same thing with you. You were so tiny and looked so lost, and look at us now. We're married to the boys I begged you to stay away from, you're the Head Auror, I'm the Administrator of Grimmauld House and we're married to men who are pillars of society; well, James is anyway,” she joked and I could hear Sirius make a clucking noise with his tongue. I loved the way these two bantered back and forth. “Pretty good turn out for two girls who didn't know anything about this world before we stepped on that train.”

 

“You're right, and I can't believe just how different things seem now, it doesn't feel that long ago, and yet, it feels like another lifetime,” I told her.

 

James finally caught up with us, bringing the girls in tow. We had left them behind in the Muggle station, as they were looking at Muggle teen magazines at the newsstand. They wanted to see everything, since they would be going next year. I watched them pointing to things and giggling. Our youngest four and Hope were at our house with Ginny and Patty. School for the rest of them would start in a few days.

 

“Look at them, Lil, they go next year, and then John and Jamie after that, and then Hope and Edmund and then Teddy and Stella and...where did the time go?” I muttered, but no one felt the need to answer.

 

Harry stepped off the train and then walked over to me. “You want the report, or are you too emotional?”

 

“Watch it Little Man, I'm still your boss,” I reminded him and he shook his head at me.

 

“I told you, I've hated that nickname since I was like eight; and how do you get off calling me little? I'm like a foot taller than you are.”

 

“You will always be my little man, the sweet boy that I rocked to sleep when it felt like my world was falling apart,” I told him, the melancholy overtaking me, “and now, you're going to be a father.”

 

“Sweet Merlin, Mum, give her a cheering charm, please. Honestly, Ethan is going to be so embarrassed if you cry all over him. Get it together, and then go home and weep all over my godfather here,” Harry suggested, taking out his wand and doing the charm on me himself.

 

“Thank you,” I said wiping my eyes.

 

“Okay, the train is empty, and there were only about 200 contraband items on it, but since it's Hogwarts rules that they're breaking, not Ministry ones, I let it all slide,” he told me.

 

“You still just don't like Filtch, huh?” Sirius asked him.

 

“Actually, it's the cat that always creeped me out.  Weirdest thing I ever met. Let him deal with the stuff, most of it was Weasley stuff anyway, not like I'm cutting into that business,” He told me and I smiled.

 

“Why yes, how much do you make from every item again?”

 

“Oh, only about 15% now, they keep buying back my ownership, and giving it to the wives as the brothers get married. I figure that I'll keep this part, and sign it over to Ginny, still reap the benefits, but it will be her part of the family business that way,” he told us.

 

“You've run the scans over the platform, correct?” I asked him, reminding myself that I had a job to do here, even if I wasn't technically on duty today.

 

“There's nothing, Ma'am,” Harry replied, knowing that I hated it when he called me ma'am, it made me feel so old. Tonks walked over to us, and Lily wrapped an arm around her. “Good to see you today, we missed you last night. How are the kids feeling today?”

 

“They're getting better, the vomiting has stopped, but they've still got the big purple and blue spots, but my mother promises that it will go down in another two days. I think that they're wearing their dad down,” Tonks told us. All three of her children had gotten the Dragon Pox at the same time. A vaccine had been created for it, by none other that Ewan duChamp, but it didn't work quite right for the Lupin children, and they had all gotten the disease a little over a week ago. Ewan had returned to try and figure out why it hadn't worked for them, and believed that it might have to do with the small traces of Lycanthropy that were present in the children's bloodstreams, it somehow made the vaccination ineffective. Remus, Tonks and Andromeda had their hands full with Teddy, Lara and Andie all sick at once.

 

“I wonder where Bastien is?” Sirius muttered, “He promised Ethan that he'd be here to see him off.”

 

“Laure is nine months pregnant, dear. He's got other things on his mind than Ethan,” I reminded him and he made some odd scrunch of his face. Ethan and Evan came back off the train, and came back over to us.

 

“Dad, it's so cool on there, I got my trunk put away and Evan introduced me to the guys he plays Quidditch with and everything. I wish I could bring my broom,” our son complained.

 

“You know the rules, next year son, then you can take your broom,” Sirius said loudly, and then he bent down to whisper to him, “we'll even go and get you a new one, just like the one Harry uses.” I shook my head at him, Sirius was perpetually about the spoiling of our children.

 

The train let off one whistle, letting us know that they had five minutes before it would depart. Harry and Tonks went to check the train and the platform one more time, and I wrapped my arms around my son.

 

“Aw, Mum, would you stop crying?” Ethan complained as I hugged him. “You're like a leaky faucet.” I released him, but put my hands on his face.

 

“I have never been prouder of you, my boy. I was never a mother, until you came into my life. You are the best thing that I will ever do, loving you and your brothers and sisters. Work hard, have fun, TRY to obey the rules and no matter what anyone says or does, be true to who you are,” I told him and then hugged him again.

 

“Let him go, Anwen,” Sirius whispered in my ear, and I nodded and released my son.

 

“Give that new owl a work out, Ethan, you're Mum is going to need to know how things are going, and if you need anything, just let us know, okay?” Sirius told him, and Ethan nodded at his dad.

 

“Yeah, I'll write. Evan says he writes home about once a week, so I'll do the same thing. I'll let you know what house I get into tonight,” he promised.

 

“You'll be in Gryffindor, I just know it,” Sirius said, but before Ethan could reply I added: “No matter what house you're in, we will be proud of you.”

 

“I know Mum, and I'll go and see Professor Babbling too, and get my work for Runes,” he told me and I started to ask him about his books, “I've got both my translation guides as well. Don't worry.”

 

“I won't. I know that you like your languages, son. Well, say goodbye to your sister, and your Aunt and Uncle and then...” I stopped, I didn't want to cry again.

 

Ethan hugged both Emma and Lilyan, and then James and Lily. He hugged his dad, and I could hear Sirius whisper something to his son, and Ethan nod in return. I wrapped my arms around my son again. “I love you, my sweet strong star.”

 

“I love you too, Mum. I'll write tonight.” Harry stepped back off the train, as Ethan and Evan turned to get on, and he hugged his brother, shook his cousin's hand and then the boys disappeared onto the train. I tried not to cry, but it was hard. Harry made his way over to us.

 

“He'll be fine, Aunt Winnie. They've got insurance that they won't get into trouble.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“I gave Evan the map last year, with the understanding that it has to be passed down to the oldest Potter, Black or Lupin child at Hogwarts. By the time little Andie is done, my kid will be ready to start. Wow, that sounds...odd; my kid.” Harry said and we all chuckled.

 

“The Marauders, the Next Generation,” I quipped.

 

“Oh, please don't say that,” Lily moaned. “I don't think I could handle children that were as difficult as these two.”

 

We watched the train pull out, and made plans for Lily and James and the kids to come over for dinner tonight. I didn't say much, I just watched the train fade away from sight. It was one of the hardest things I had ever done, I wanted to keep him with me, keep him little.

 

As we were leaving the station, we met up with Draco.

 

“Bastien is sorry that he couldn't make it, but Laure went into labor. They're at St. Mungo's and he wanted me to let you know,” he told Sirius. I smiled at the symmetry. Life continues to go on.

 

 

Sirius POV:

 

I was carrying two cups of warmed cider out to the media room for Anwen. We had been in Canada for Thanksgiving last week, and she had decided to take today off to make sure that things were finally put away correctly and to get a little extra sleep. She'd done three nights this week, for work, due to the department shutting down a smuggling ring of counterfeit potion making supplies. I handed her the mug and she smiled at me. We'd spent most of the morning in bed, I was most definitely hoping that we'd have a little more time before the kids returned home after school.

 

“Ethan have anything interesting to say in his letter?” I asked her, seeing the parchment in her hands. His handwriting is way too neat, he writes almost as well as his mum.

 

“Gryffindor won the match against Slytherin over the weekend, and he was impressed with how Evan was flying. He says that he's really strong, and quick. Sounds like another Beater I knew,” Anwen replied.

 

“Why, thank you dear,” I said as I sat down next to her. We'd been trying to watch a little telly, but honestly, there wasn't anything worth spending the time on. We cuddled together, and talked about what we might like to get the kids for Christmas, Anwen always liked to shop early. We also talked about Haf's upcoming wedding. He was marrying a witch that he had met while working at St. Mungo's. Nellie was a kind woman who worked as a Medi-Witch in the trauma department, Haf worked with Healer Orlaf, using his Muggle medical skills to help develop new treatments for difficult cases. 

 

“You know, I think that this may have been one of the most pleasant days we've ever spent,” I whispered at her.

 

“That's because we were in bed most of the morning, and you're always happy when you're satiated,” she murmured back. I leaned down and kissed her, taking her mug from her hands and laying it on the floor, so that I could lay her down on the couch, when we heard a noise in the floo, and then the obvious wailing of a baby. Anwen pushed me off of her and sprung up; she greeted Laure in the doorway.

 

“What's wrong with Eva?” Anwen asked, her hand going to stroke the baby's head. Laure looked awful, her eyes had big bags under them and her skin had taken on a pallor and for someone who was always meticulous about her looks, her hair reminded me of Snape's.

 

“I don't know,” the young witch cried. “She's just screaming and I can't get her to take her bottle and my mama went back to France, and I don't know what to do with her. Help me, please,” she begged.

 

“Of course, Laure, you know you can come to us. Here, let me take her. Come on, Eva, come to Anwen,” my wife cooed as she took the screaming, almost seven–week old. Laure seemed happy to hand her daughter over. Anwen immediately put the little baby up on her shoulder and began to bounce, something that I had seen her do with our own children time and time again. “Now, little sweetheart, what seems to be your problem?”

 

I watched with a faint smile as Anwen moved the baby around, trying different positions to bring the child some comfort, all the while whispering sweet words in the baby's ear and gently rubbing her back. Nothing seemed to work for her. “Has she been like this before?”

 

“She's always cried a lot, but she seemed better with my mama here, I just don't know what to do for her,” my daughter-in-law cried and I put an arm around her. I was surprised when she collapsed into me, crying.

 

“I understand. Do you have a blanket for her, with you?” Laure shook her head, so Anwen raised her hand and one came flying down from the nursery that we had built on the third floor, in hopes that we could have little Eva come and stay with us. So far, she had not. I watched as Anwen draped the blanket over her shoulder, and then over Eva's face. The baby immediately quieted down. Anwen continued walking and comforting the baby, but I could feel Laure look up at my wife.

 

“What did you do?”

 

“She was over stimulated, it sometimes happens with babies, so if you take away some of their stimulus, they calm down; and I played a hunch. Both Ethan and Edmund were blanket babies, liked to have their faces covered while they rested. Not the safest thing, but I only did it when I was with them. Must be something about first names that start with “e”.”

 

“How did I not know that about her?”

 

“You might not have had to ever find it out, she's only just becoming aware of her surroundings. Now, one of the things that is stressing her out, is your being stressed out. Everything that you feel, she's going to feel,” Anwen explained as she settled down next to Laure on the couch. Laure sat up and peeked under the blanket at her daughter, now resting comfortably on my wife's shoulder.

 

“But, it's so hard. She's awake half the night, and I have a hard time burping her, and at least when my Mama was here, she knew what to do, and right now I feel like...” Laure stopped as her breath shuddered.

 

“You wish that she'd come with an instruction book?” Anwen suggested.

 

“Yes!”

 

“Welcome to Motherhood. It does get easier, and you will get the hang of it.”

 

“Really? I don't feel like she's ever going to make sense to me.”

 

“Oh, she won't make sense,” I added, “but you will get better at reading your children. Anwen's an old pro here.”

 

“I guess you would be, with six children,” Laure seemed to remember.

 

“Six children, a step son, seven nieces and nephews on this side of the pond and four on the other; and I was the oldest of five. I could burp a baby before I was six years old; but experience is only part of it.  You need to be able to trust yourself, and that's not going to happen when you're exhausted and overwhelmed. How about if you head home, and take a good long nap, and then come back before dinner? We'll keep Eva today, so that you can get some rest.”

 

“Really? I don't want to impose,” the girl said quietly, but her eyes told me that she was excited by the idea of uninterrupted sleep.

 

“We're sure, Anwen has been itching to take care of that baby, let her enjoy it,” I told her and she smiled.

 

“Let me go home and get her diaper bag, and a couple of bottles, if that's all right? Sleep and a shower sound so good right now,” she confessed and Anwen nodded at her.

 

“Go on, we'll be right here.” Laure quickly got up and went back to the floo, and I watched Anwen holding little Eva, rocking back and forth in her seat, beginning to hum to the baby.

 

“You're in heaven here, aren't you?”

 

“You need to ask? Sirius, I love babies, don't want more of my own anymore, but...I really wish that I was her grandmother. Of course, a grandmother at 41, um, maybe not,” she  quipped.

 

“You're the hottest grandmother on the block, dear.”

 

“Thank you love, and you're the sexiest grandfather around; but I'm not her grandmother. Bastien has never thought of me that way, nor should he. He was very close to his mother, and I don't have any desire to replace her. He never knew you, so accepting you as his father was quite easy, but me, I will always be your wife, not anything other than that. Our children will have their children someday, and I will truly be a grandmother then. For right now, I'm more like an Aunt, I guess,” she said with some sadness.

 

“You're a generous woman, Anwen. I love you.”

 

“I love you too, darling.”

 

We spent the afternoon with little Eva, Anwen got her to take both of her bottles and she rested quite well for us. Bastien and Laure joined us for dinner, and she looked much better having had some sleep and a long soak in the tub. The girls enjoyed having their little niece with them and it was quite a pleasant family evening; only once did I catch Anwen looking at Ethan's empty seat at the table wistfully.

 

As the young couple were leaving, I watched Bastien lean down and kiss Anwen on the cheek, and then hug her lightly. “Our daughter is lucky to have such wonderful grandparents. Eva clearly loves her grandmum.” Anwen just nodded at him but I could see the elation on her face. After six years, he'd really accepted her and the love that she had always freely given him, and felt willing to return it and to let his daughter do so as well.

 

Grandparents in our early forties, not such a bad thing. 


Chapter 28: Chapter 27: Origins
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Chapter 27:

Origin

March 2005

Anwen POV:

 

“Keep concentrating,” I reminded Ginny. “Okay, just work through anything that you might feel, but keep your concentration centered.” I sent a tickling hex at her, but other than a slight smile crossing her face, there was nothing. “Good job. You do that well when you're in the delivery room, you'll be able to bypass most of the potions.”

 

“I hope so, I know that I’ll recover faster without them,” she stated, relaxing her shoulders and reaching for her glass of water. Ginny was only five weeks away from her due date, and trying very hard to learn a modified version of my visualization techniques, like the ones that I had taught Lily when the girls were born.

 

“A little, but if you need them, don't be too proud to take the potions. The goal here is to deliver a healthy baby, nothing else,” I reminded her.

 

“Yeah, but I'm tired of listening to Fleur talk about how she delivered without any help,” Ginny complained.

 

“Well, she was unconscious for Victorie, so, you know, don't think she should be so proud of that,” I reminded her and that made her smile.

 

“I keep forgetting that you were there. I just want to do this right, Harry was telling me horror stories about when Lily gave birth to Evan. He remembers it and it makes him cringe. I don't want to be like that,” she explained.

 

“Yes, well, Lily was a bit of a nightmare when she delivered both Harry and Evan, but to be truthful, I think that had more to do with the rather volatile nature of her relationship with James. They have always bickered as some form of foreplay,” I explained.

 

“Oh,” she replied and then you could watch the bits come together in her head. “Ooooh, I get it, so when she was all wonky about how James put the plates on the table the other night, it meant that they...” I nodded at her. Sirius and I had long ago learned that we had about an hour after one of their bickerfests to get away from them.

 

“Yeah, that's their sort of “tell”. Tonks is always horny, but, if you see Remus pushing the hair around behind her ears, they need to be left alone,” I told her and she blushed.

 

“I still see him like he's my professor,” she explained and I nodded in understanding. “So, what's the tell for the Blacks?” she asked, looking very sweetly at me.

 

“I will trace along Sirius' eyebrows with my fingers, and he will caress the small of my back, but it's quite different with us, as you're well aware. We can be across a room, and make eye contact and...well we need to be leaving, immediately.” I explained and she smiled.

 

“I know that you'd told me that it would be like this, but I honestly thought that it would abate some with time.” I reached over to grab her hand.

 

“It doesn't, it really only intensifies. To be without Sirius now, after we've been bound for almost twenty years, it would...” I stopped to try and imagine it, what I found made goosebumps erupt across my skin. “I wouldn't want to live that way, empty and alone. I don't think that I could live without him.” Ginny and I both contemplated what that meant.

 

“I have one more thing to talk with you about, before Harry and James get back. I still can't believe that they got Uncle Sirius to go with them today. He doesn't strike me as the golfing sort,” Ginny changed the subject.

 

“Oh, he's not. The fact that James and Harry play without magic as well, it will drive my husband nuts. This most definitely will be a one time thing, I can't imagine him ever going back. Now, what did you want to talk with me about?” She took a deep breath and looked away.

 

“I'm worried about my Mum and Lily in the delivery room with me,” she blurted out. I tried very hard to hold back my smile, but I really couldn't.

 

“Yes, I can see that. Lily can be a little overbearing, but in the end I think that she will be an asset. You Mum...” I stopped to think about how to word this. “Ginny, you're her only daughter, and like Lily will undoubtedly do, she has left all of your sisters-in-law when the birthing process really got going, except when Fleur was unconscious. This is her one chance to see her grandbaby being born. She will try and smother you, but your healer and the medi-witch will take care of her, trust me. Your Mum just loves you so much, always has, that she needs to be with you when you're doing this; like I needed to make s