Chapter 1 : Introduction
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“Of course,” said Remus, putting his arm around his charge’s shoulders. He had been her protector since Fenrir Greyback had bitten her at age two, and her mother had left her to him. It was hard to believe that she was almost sixteen; to him, she was as good as his daughter.
The door opened, and a plump redheaded woman said, “Remus, is that you? Who have you brought?”
“I thought you would like to meet my daughter,” said Remus, smiling at Shealin, who was nearly as tall as he was.
“Well, my ward, at least,” corrected Remus. “And could you let us in, please?”
“Oh—I’m sorry,” said the woman, blushing. “Come right in.” She opened the door wide and they stepped through. “We’ve been expecting you. I’m Molly Weasley—”
“Well, well, well, Remus—you’ve been naughty, haven’t you?” said a sneering voice. Remus broke into a huge smile.
“She’s not what you think, Sirius,” he said, as a tall man with long black hair and grey eyes emerged from the shadows. He was very handsome and muscular. “This is my ward, though she’s my daughter in all but birth. Shealin Lupin.”
The man, Sirius, frowned curiously as he studied her. “Welcome to the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, Shealin,” he said pleasantly. “You’ll be rooming with our other female Hogwartians.”
“But I’m not going to Hogwarts,” said Shealin.
“Really? Why not?” Sirius threw at Remus.
“The same reason I was not allowed to teach, even though Dumbledore wanted me to stay,” said Remus.
Sirius’s face darkened. “You’re not saying…”
“I’m a werewolf,” said Shealin, her mouth tightening.
“Oh,” said Sirius, clearly taken aback. “Well, I’ve no problem with werewolves, if you want to know. I became an Animagus just to help Remus with his transformations. What else d’you do?”
Shealin looked up at Remus, who gave a slight nod and said:
“Shealin seems to have certain powers concerning Divination and the like. She and I have spent the past two years refining those gifts.”
“A Seer,” said Sirius thoughtfully. “Like—oi!”
The door slammed open, narrowly missing him. Behind it stood a pretty red-haired girl, with a slightly clumsy gait, and a redheaded boy who looked similar to her. “Sorry, Sirius. Hi, Mr Lupin. Hi, Shealin. I’m Kierra Prewett. I’m going to be a fifth year. This is Jake, my brother.”
“Kierra!” said Mrs. Weasley, with an exasperated sigh. “How many times have I told you not to eavesdrop?”
“I’ve lost count, actually,” said Kierra, straight-faced; Sirius chuckled. “Anyway, Fred and George and Ron want to know when supper is, and when Harry’s coming home.”
“Those boys,” said Mrs. Weasley, sighing again, “are always hungry. You’d think I never fed them. As for Harry, Arthur should be here in about an hour or so.”
Another girl appeared behind Kierra. “Hey, Professor!” she greeted Remus. To Shealin she said, “And you must be Shealin. Mrs Weasley said you were staying here for a bit. I’m Angel Granger. You’re going to share a room with us.”
“More than just us,” said Kierra. “Ginny and Hermione too. I’m glad Katia’s not here.”
“The room’s really starting to get cramped,” said Angel, grimacing.
“Yes, but as there are only five relatively clean bedrooms in the entire house, you haven’t got much of a choice,” said Mrs. Weasley.
And then yet another girl came, this one a striking beauty with jet-black hair, flawless alabaster skin, and dark pools for eyes. “Did I hear my name?”
“When did you arrive?” asked Angel.
“About four minutes ago,” said the girl. “Papa sort of snuck me in. I was just coming up to say hello.”
“Oh, this is Ekaterina Dumbledore. Professor Dumbledore’s daughter,” said Kierra. “But you can call her Katia. We do.”
“Are you coming to Hogwarts with us, Shealin?” said Angel.
Shealin shook her head. “I can’t. It isn’t allowed.”
“Why not?” said Kierra.
Remus spoke, noting Shealin’s discomfort. “Lycanthropy,” he said.
Angel, who had started to leave, slammed in her tracks. “You’re a werewolf? Blimey!”
“Angel!” said Mrs Weasley.
“It’s not that I’m against werewolves per se,” said Angel, scrambling to correct herself, “but I didn’t realise—you don’t look like a werewolf.”
“And Remus does?” said Sirius mildly.
Angel turned bright red. “I mean…”
“Sirius, stop pestering her,” said Mrs Weasley. “Or Anne’ll deal with you later.”
“I’d like to see her try,” Sirius retorted, but he grinned sheepishly. “Point taken. I’m going upstairs to feed Buckbeak. Nice meeting you,” he said to Shealin.
“Who’s Anne?” said Shealin questioningly, once Sirius had tromped up the stairs, looking at Remus.
“There she is now,” said Remus, breaking into a smile.
A woman with short choppy auburn hair and near-gold eyes let herself into the house, hanging up her lightweight coat on the rack. “Remus,” she said shortly. “Has the meeting started yet?”
“No,” said Mrs Weasley, answering for Remus. “Not for another ten minutes. Instead of running off why don’t you meet our latest addition?”
Anne’s eyes narrowed at her, but she acquiesced. Evidently she held a great deal of respect for the older woman. She didn’t extend her hand to Shealin, but said, keeping her distance, “Anne Pettrew. I live here—regrettably.”
“Shealin Lupin,” said Shealin.
Those piercing eyes widened slightly. With a look at Remus, Anne said, “We’ve not got enough room here for even half a person. Isn’t this bloody house crowded enough besides?”
“Apparently not,” said Sirius, poking his dark head over the railing on the second-floor landing. “Glad you could make it, Anne. Anything on the Ministry?”
Anne inclined her head in the direction of the dining-room. “We’re not allowed to discuss it in front of minors, as you very well know.”
Sirius trotted down the steps and put an arm round her shoulders. “And people say you never follow the rules.”
She smiled slightly. “The times have changed, haven’t they, Siri?”
“Glad some things haven’t,” said Sirius. He gave her a quick affectionate kiss on the forehead; she rolled her eyes and stepped away. “Met any men who’ve caught your fancy lately?”
A strange look crossed Anne’s face at the question: She didn’t respond, merely looked down and fiddled with a ring on her finger, a simple gold band.
Shealin watched as Remus threw Sirius a fierce glare—though for what, she didn’t know. Sirius blanched, as though remembering something, and opened his mouth to speak, but Anne strode into the dining-room without a second glance.
* * *
“Why did Anne have that look on her face?” said Shealin to Remus, softly, when they were alone.
He shouldn’t have been surprised. Shealin was unusually perceptive.
Like her mother.
He banished that thought from his mind and turned to his ward. “She lost her husband in the First War. Sirius should have known better than to mention it.”
“But she likes Sirius,” said Shealin. “Aren’t they…?”
Remus stared at her, then chuckled. “Anne and Sirius? Merlin, no. They’re better off as friends. Sirius is a confirmed bachelor, and Anne is a widow. She won’t marry again. She refuses to.”
“She must miss him—her husband,” said Shealin, choosing the safest thing to say.
Remus nodded. “Very much. He’s been dead fourteen years, but still she mourns him. I knew her husband—we attended Hogwarts together. There was something between them, a bond no one else could even come close to. It destroyed her, his death. She’s never been the same since…” He lapsed off into silence. “And I would appreciate it if you didn’t ask her about it,” he added. “You saw her reaction when Sirius teased her, the pain is still raw.”
“After fourteen years?” said Shealin, a bit amazed.
“There are people who can learn to love again. Anne isn’t one of them.”
“You sound like you fancy her too.”
“Shealin,” said Remus, with a half-smile. “You make too many assumptions. Although I am fond of her, Anne’s love will forever remain with her husband.”
She noticed he did not deny the statement.
“What about you?” said Shealin, before she could stop herself, although she knew Remus never talked about his past.
A look very similar to Anne’s, a shadow of pain, travelled across his face. “Two women,” he said quietly. “One, an attraction. The other, my damnation.”