Chapter 1 : Where's my welcome back party?
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Harry stood in middle of the dingy front hallway of Number Twelve Grimauld Place, unsure of what he should be doing. Ron and Hermione weren't there to help keep his mind off Cedric, and with Sirius being the moody git that he was, he wasn't helping any either.
And I thought being at the headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix would be interesting! he thought. Sure, more often than not there was an abundance of witches and wizards coming and going, but none of them stayed for very long. But Harry was pulled out of his thoughts as a light knock came from behind him. He whipped around and looked at the door curiously before inching toward it, his arm out.
"Don't you dare, Harry!" came Mrs. Weasley's stern voice. Once more, Harry found himself whipping around. Crowded around the bottom of the staircase was Mrs. Weasley, Remus, Sirius, and a middle aged man that Harry didn't know. "I'll be getting that. But I wonder who it could be. We aren't expecting anyone…"
Harry tried to see who was on the other side of the door, but Mrs. Weasley blocked the person with impressive skill. A soft, feminine voice floated into the room, and he felt someone move to stand behind him.
The next few events happened in such rapid succession that it took Harry quite a few moments to compose himself.
Mrs. Weasley opened the door and stepped to the side, a pretty woman around the same age as Remus and Sirius stepped inside and let her eyes roam the dark hall before letting them rest on him. Oh, great, he thought sourly, moving a hand up to pull more hair down over his famous scar, another admirer.
Harry noticed the woman hesitate, still looking at him with her unnatural looking eyes. But the hesitation only lasted a minute because the next thing he knew, the woman was rushing forward, looking like she was going to tackle him in a hug.
What the bloody—Harry quickly stepped to the side, hoping to avoid the collision, and watched as she continued forward and hugged Remus tightly. "Oh, Remus," she moaned happily, burying her face in his neck.
Oh… he thought, realizing that the woman was never looking at him to begin with. Harry had never seen Remus get that close to someone, let alone give them such an intimate hug, except for the time in his third year when Remus was reunited with his best friend in the dingy Shrieking Shack.
"I've missed you, Remus," Harry heard her whisper.
Remus pulled away and held the woman out at arms length. The fond look in his eyes was not something Harry would be forgetting anytime soon.
"It's been so long," she continued, her voice still soft. "I meant to come back sooner…"
The woman trailed off as the loving look Remus held suddenly turned hard. "It was nice seeing you again, Tally, but I'm afraid that I have to be going. I'm a very busy man, you know."
"Remus!" she pleaded, her surprise evident. Harry noticed that her smoky grey eyes had dulled slightly and that they were a bit shinier than when she entered. He was starting to feel awkward.
But Remus didn't pay attention to her calls. He slipped through the kitchen doors, most likely to floo home. The woman –Tally, as Remus had called her –bowed her head and sniffled before looking back up at the others in the hall. Not even a moment later, Mrs. Weasley had Tally wrapped in a comforting embrace; they too disappeared into the kitchen.
"So…" Harry said slowly, scratching the back of his head self-consciously. Sirius just grinned at him.
He wanted to know who that woman was and what her connection to Remus was, but the look on his godfather's face was enough to shut him up. "Maybe later, okay?" Sirius said as he also went to the kitchen.
Harry rolled his eyes and climbed the stairs to his room. Maybe the presence of Tally would be enough to keep his mind off of Cedric.
The next day, Remus sat dejectedly in an uncomfortable chair trying to focus on what Albus Dumbledore was saying; a simple task that was becoming increasingly difficult as his thoughts kept straying to the woman sitting only a few chairs away.
"And last but not least," Dumbledore began, he smile reappearing, "I would like to welcome back Talia Merks, who has been in France for the past sixteen years."
So that's where she's been, Remus thought shrewdly.
"After learning of her transfer to St. Mungos, I sought her out and asked for her help. As you know, some of the injuries we acquire are a tad suspicious and we can't risk anyone asking questions. Having a healer within our little circle will make a few things easier." Dumbledore paused to smile at everyone and then turned his attention on the subject of his little speech. "Talia, is it safe to assume that you have a place to stay?"
"Actually, sir, I don't." A blush crept its way onto her cheeks. "I had planned to get a small flat yesterday as soon as I arrived, but the task is proving itself more difficult than I had planned."
"Not a problem, dear, not a problem at all. Let's see… I would suggest you stay here, but seeing as how most of the rooms are either taken or uninhabitable, that won't work. And we can't have you living at Hogwarts, too many questions for my liking." He scanned the faces of the people sitting before him. "Does anyone have any ideas?"
Sirius grinned wickedly. "Remus has room. Actually, he has lots of room."
Remus was so busy willing Sirius to suddenly explode that he didn't notice Tonks grow slightly flustered. "I have lots of room too, sir!"
Dumbledore smiled happily. "So it's settled then." Tonks looked around smugly. "Talia will be staying with Remus until she can find a place of her own."
Remus blanched and finally allowed himself to look at his old friend. On the surface, her face was blank and impassive, but Remus knew the woman better than anyone and could see just how apprehensive she really was.
Well, that makes two of us…
A/N: Ah. First chapters are always the hardest. But I want you to be brutaly honest if you review -- which you should! :]
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