In Sirius’s opinion, the time to return to Hogwarts and for him and Mia to go back to work had come too soon. It wasn’t that he didn’t like the idea of starting his new job there as the Quidditch coach but he knew he’d miss having Mia to himself all day long like he’d had in the previous year. Even though he had a rather light schedule and she’d merely be working mornings, it felt sort of strange. Well, at least we work at the same place, he thought. It could definitely be worse.
In fact, knowing he and Mia would be back at Hogwarts in a regular basis from that day on, made him feel rather nostalgic – it was like they were going right back to the beginning… this time with kids on a tow.
When he felt his wife stirring by his side on the bed and preparing to get up, he reached for her and pulled her back to him. “You’re not going anywhere.” He informed her, wrapping his arms around her.
“I have to,” she moaned, resting her head in his chest. “The Hogwarts Express leaves at eleven and you know it’s always a mess before the kids have to leave. I have to go make sure the mess doesn’t turn into a catastrophe. And don’t forget that the Weasleys are here – it wouldn’t be nice to sleep late.”
Right, he thought. He’d nearly forgotten that all the Weasleys, except for Bill, Charlie and, obviously, Percy, had stayed the night at Grimmauld Place so they could get to King’s Cross train station more easily.
“It’s still…” he glanced at the clock on his bedside table to check what time it was “…seven in the morning. I doubt anyone will be awake this early to cause anything similar to a catastrophe or to be offended because the host is still asleep, which, by the way, you know very well none of the Weasleys would mind in the slightest – they’re practically family. Besides, we keep Kreacher around for some reason, don’t we? Let him handle the house – that’s what he’s here for.”
“… never wakes up before eight,” he finished for her. “And, like I said, Kreacher’s here for something.”
She sighed. “I just want to be sure…” But she couldn’t finish what she was about to say as her husband’s lips crashed on hers. In fact, a second or two later, she could barely remember why exactly she’d wanted to get up at all. He truly made her stop thinking every time those lips touched hers.
He smiled in the inside as soon as he felt her responding to the kiss – yep, that had been definitely a good idea. His right hand cupped her cheek as their lips moved together. At some point, they switched positions and he was trapping her behind him before any thought of leaving the bed might cross her mind.
“Hum, you were saying…” he murmured against her lips, supporting his weight on his elbows.
“Never mind,” she replied, looking intently in his eyes and giving him a smile. “I think I can live with another hour here in bed.”
Sirius grinned. “I thought you might say that.”
“It really isn’t fair you kissing me out of the blue when I’m trying to leave,” she pointed out. “You know I can’t resist it.”
“Oh, don’t I know?” he said, still smiling down at her before pressing a kiss to her forehead and rolling off her to his own side of the bed, confident she wouldn’t leave now. “Haven’t you ever heard that all is fair in love and war?”
She chuckled. “I guess I have.” Then, for a moment or two, she just lied there on her side, looking into his eyes.
“You’re nervous,” he said, rubbing her cheek with his thumb. He could see it in her eyes- they couldn’t hide a thing from him. “Why? Is it a about going back to teaching? I don’t know about your classes but I can tell you that, back when we were students, you were the only person I was able to do History of Magics assignments with and not get bored to death. You actually made it sound interesting when you explained things.”
Mia smiled. “That’s something, considering Remus had to keep stabbing you with his elbow to keep you awake during classes. But it’s not my teaching skills that I’m worried about – it’s… remember when Dumbledore asked you to be the Quidditch Coach? He mentioned something about the ministry taking liberties filling the free positions at Hogwarts.”
He looked thoughtful for a moment. “Hum… yeah, now that you mention it, I remember that. Do you think they’re trying to, well, mark territory? Or spy?”
“Maybe,” she said. “I’m not sure. But it doesn’t sound well. Going back to Hogwarts is going to be tough on itself to Harry because most of his classmates have been reading the trash that the Daily Prophet has been publishing – and probably believing it. And I just know it will be tough on Izzy too: last time Harry’s name was in the mud, back in his second year with the chamber thing, she was so upset that she had a massive row with Ginny just because she thought Ginny believed in the stuff they were saying. They didn’t speak with each other for months. Of course, when she found out that Ginny had been possessed by Voldemort, Izzy felt terrible and they made amends but still… she was miserable all that time. So, this idea of the ministry having someone inside the school plotting Merlin-knows-what…”
“Well, we’ll be there as well,” Sirius told her. “If anything, we’ll do all we can to make it easier on the kids. But let’s not think of it, Mia – it’s pointless now that we don’t know a thing.”
She sighed. “Yeah, I guess it is.”
“Then stop worrying, woman,” Sirius told her in a mock-firm tone before brushing a strand of hair from her face. “You worry way too much.”
“I know I do… but I just can’t help it,” Mia told him.
“Then how about we change the subject?” he suggested, making her smile at him. “Did you notice that tonight it will be exactly twenty-four years since we’ve met?”
Mia was amazed for a moment. “Twenty-four years,” she mumbled.
“Seems like a lifetime, doesn’t it?” he asked. A lifetime with a thirteen-year-wide hole in the middle of it, he added in his mind. It sounded so unfair they’d been robbed more than half the time they’d known each other…
“It sort of makes me feel old,” Mia confessed.
He chuckled. “We were eleven back when we met, Mia. People older than us have known each other for less time. And tonight we’re going to be at the same sort of banquet where we’ve met, watching kids being sorted from the opposite side of the staff table. How strange is that?”
She smiled. “I wouldn’t call it strange – ironic, maybe. Twenty-four years. You were the first person who talked to me after I was sorted… maybe it was a sign.”
“Maybe,” he said, rolling on top of her again and stranding her under him. Mia chuckled as he leaned down again to kiss her lips one more time before making his way to her chin and then to her neck. “Maybe this is a sign we should start celebrating this date early,” Sirius murmured against her skin before looking up at her. “Should we follow the signs?”
She sighed, feeling his lips kissing her neck again. “We’ve done well enough following them before,” Mia whispered as his lips made their way back to her face. “Make love to me.”
He grinned down at her. “Oh, yes, I will.”
She was the one to capture his mouth with her own before he started tugging her thin nightshirt off in order to feel her skin. The kisses grew deeper, longer… warmer. And before they knew it, they were sinking… sinking down to their own happy place.
Instead of one more hour in bed, they’d spent nearly two, Mia noticed later, to her own disbelief. It was just incredible how time seemed to stop whenever she and Sirius were together that way…
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Sirius told her when Mia voiced her thoughts as she got dressed after a shower that had taken longer than expected, once again, his fault for having joined her there. “You know, maybe one of these days maybe we’ll actually be able to stop time. We may just have to try harder.”
She raised an eyebrow at him, finishing buttoning her shirt. “You do realize it is impossible to stop time that way, right? You just don’t get tired of trying to find excuses to get laid – horndog.”
“Aw, that’s such an ugly label,” he told her in a mock-hurt tone. “‘Madly in love with my wife’ sounds more fitting.”
Mia chuckled. “And they say marriage makes things boring,” she mumbled to herself. “Well, we’d better leave this room – I can only imagine the mess outside.” One could never know what was going on with Harry, Izzy and four Weasley kids, Fred and George most certainly among them, unleashed – hopefully, Hermione, Molly and Arthur were putting some sense in them.
“Well, the house is still standing,” Sirius told her. “That has to be a good sign.”
“Yeah, at least we can say that,” Mia agreed as the two of them, now fully dressed, made their way to the door.
They could feel the madness as soon as she stepped outside the room… even hear it: Molly angrily yelling someone downstairs, Hermione one floor below them scolding Harry for not checking if he’d packed everything until the last minute as he asked Ron to go look for his Firebolt, which, Mia knew, was down at the kitchen, and, finally, they could also hear Izzy turning her room upside down, searching for something.
“Mom!” they heard their daughter calling from her room.
Yeah, it really is the first of September, she thought as she turned to Sirius. “Can you…?”
“Yes, I’ll take care of Alex – you go ahead and save the world,” he told her in an amused tone before she could even ask him anything.
Mia smiled and planted a kiss on his cheek as a way of thanking him before she made her way down the stairs, making Sirius chuckle.
Truth was he loved the mess that came along with the first of September. He loved it mostly because, despite the fight against time to find this and that and the shouting from room to room, it showed warmness and, well, family life, which was something he’d never seen in that house back when he lived there with his parents. It was ironic how the house he’d hated so much in the past had turned into one of his favourite places in the world.
He entered his youngest son’s room with a grin on his face and found the baby already awake and sitting up in his cot. Alex gave his father a little frown as soon as he laid eyes on him, as if knowing that the long wait for someone to come and take him out of his little cage was Sirius’s fault. It kind of is, Sirius thought for a moment. If he hadn’t put such an effort in convincing his wife to ignore the madness outside and… have a little fun with him, she might have come to get the baby earlier.
“I know, know,” he told his son. “It’s my fault you had to stay there, being bored for longer than usual. But Daddy wants Mummy just for himself every once in a while, okay? Maybe one of these days I’ll convince her to give you a little brother or sister to keep you entertained, alright?” Sirius ruffled the baby’s hair and pout didn’t last much longer as Alex let out a squeal and raised his arms up at him, telling him in his own baby language that he wanted to be picked up.
Sirius grinned at the little boy and lifted him to his arms. “So, you really want a brother or a sister, don’t you? Any chance you’ll tell that to Mummy?”
Alex replied with some unintelligible baby talk and promptly rested his head against his father’s shoulder.
He chuckled and rubbed his son’s back. “We can always hope.” He carried the baby out of the room and down the stairs in direction to the kitchen, where he found Molly still scolding Fred and George as Arthur sat by the table, reading the newspaper.
“…you could have caused your sister a serious injury!” Molly was telling them, shooting daggers with her eyes.
“We’ve said we’re sorry, Mom,” one of them, Sirius wasn’t really sure if it was Fred or George at the moment, said. “But it’s not like Ginny actually did get hurt or anything…”
Molly narrowed her eyes at them and kicked Arthur’s chair so he’d back her up. He coughed before saying anything, showing he’d stopped paying attention a while ago. “Now, boys… hum, listen to your mother. What you did was… very bad.”
Sirius raised an eyebrow, not really getting what that was all about. “What happened?” he finally asked as Alex started to squirm in his arms.
All four redheads turned to him at the same time but Molly was the only one to actually speak. “Oh, Sirius, there you are. Well, these two,” she glanced at the twins to glare at them, “decided to make their trunks fly down the stairs just to show they can do magic outside school now and ended up knocking Ginny down two flights of stairs.”
“Oh, is she okay?” he asked, a little alarmed.
“Yes, fortunately. But she might not have been,” Molly told Sirius as she made his way to him, in order to coo the baby. “And how is this little angel this morning?”
Pleased with Molly’s attention, Alex giggled and reached out for Molly with his little arms. Sirius could have called the baby a little traitor for abandoning his dad as he passed him to Molly. But then again, the kid was way too young to weight those facts.
The following hour and a half was rather frantic but, between himself, Mia, Molly and Arthur, the crises were averted and, by quarter past ten, they were just waiting for the guard Mad-Eye had arranged to escort them to King’s Cross to arrive, which Sirius found incredibly pointless as they’d be apparating there.
Kingsley was the first one arrive, followed by Tonks, who, as always, carried a good moon and innate clumsiness that made her trip on the coat-hanger by the door and then Remus. Mad-Eye, on the other hand, remained outside making sure they weren’t watched.
As the wards of the house had been reinforced ever since Voldemort’s return, they couldn’t apparate in and out of it, so they had to leave the house and walk into a deserted alley a block or so away before side-along apparating with the kids into platform 9 ¾.
They left the house in groups of four a few minutes apart from each other, trying not to call too much attention on themselves and it took them all a total of ten minutes to reach the alley and apparate into the train station. It was as packed as ever, with groups of students reuniting, parents leading their kids into the train and small first years not sure of what to do. Moody, Kingsley and Tonks took care of taking the luggage to the train while the others said their goodbyes.
“I’ll miss you terribly, Izzybel,” Sirius told his daughter jokingly as he gave her a hug by the train’s entrance, a few minutes before it was to leave.
“We’ll, see each other tonight at the banquet, Daddy,” Izzy told him with a chuckle, pulling away. “And probably every day as well.”
He faked a disappointed look. “Oh right – I guess I’d forgotten. A bloke can’t just send his kids to school and hope not to lay eyes on them until Christmas. No fair.”
“Try the other way around,” she said him, matching his look. “A person can’t just go to school and not see her parents until Christmas. Now I have to be more careful when spending all day long snogging in broom closets so you and Mom won’t walk out on me.”
“Hey!” he said, narrowing his eyes. The prospect of his daughter ever dating was something that he wouldn’t welcome so easily in his mind. “Don’t even think of it.”
She smiled defiantly in a way that would make anyone doubt what she was about to say. “Of course not. Well, I’ll just go say goodbye to Alex – you’d better bring him to Hogwarts every once in a while, by the way.” Then, she reached for her father’s face to kiss his cheek. “See you later.”
He sighed as he watched his daughter leave. She was growing up fast and he just couldn’t bring himself to like that idea… she was supposed to be his little girl, after all.
“A little protective, aren’t you?” Remus asked his friend as he approached him and stood by his side. “I couldn’t help hearing the conversation.”
Sirius groaned, watching Izzy cooing her baby brother in the stroller. “Why can’t they just stay little forever?”
“Aren’t they usually a handful when they’re little?” Remus replied.
He shrugged. “Sort of. But it’s worth it. And at least they don’t think of dating, them. You’ll know when you have one of your own.”
Remus sighed. “We both know that’s not going to happen.”
Sirius turned his face to his old friend. “The hell it won’t, Moony. You do realize I won’t rest until I find you a girl, right?” He looked around the platform, searching for a woman to prove his point. “Like that one,” Sirius told him, nodding at a busty brunette sitting on a bench.
The werewolf raised an eyebrow. “That one is sitting right by a guy and has a couple of children with her. I’d say she’s taken.”
“I dunno. The guy looks pretty old – maybe he’s her father,” Sirius pointed out.
“Fine.” He looked around the platform again and found another woman with long, straight black hair and her back turned to them. She did look nice from behind… not that he really admired anyone’s behind but his wife’s. He was doing a favour to his oldest mate, after all. “Maybe that one, then.”
Remus huffed – he knew Sirius wasn’t about to let it go. “She’s …hum,” he tried to find some sort of obvious flaw on her that would convince Sirius to leave him alone. That was, until he finally saw her face and knew immediately there was just no way in a million years he’d even consider her. “Well, she is Barbara Lasher.”
“Barbara La… Wait, Babs?” Sirius asked in surprise, staring at the woman. That was unmistakably Barbara Lasher, their certainly not beloved Slytherin classmate, wearing a very-expensive looking black muggle pantsuit, probably bought with her third or fourth husband’s money, and looking just as cold and mean spirited as she always had. How hadn’t he noticed it before? He should have smelled the venom in the air as soon as he’d stepped into the platform. “What is she doing here? Don’t tell me she’s seeing her kid off – the poor child…”
“I don’t see any other reason for her to be here,” Remus pointed out.
“Let’s make sure we stay away from that part of the platform just in case,” Sirius suggested. “Right, so where was I? … oh, yeah, you’re off the hook with Babs – no way in hell I’d want her having Christmas dinner at my place as your plus-one. I guess we can leave the girl-hunting for another day – she’s ruined my inspiration.”
Remus rolled his eyes. “How about to never?”
“Not a chance, Moony,” Sirius replied with a grin.
After the Hogwarts Express left, Sirius and Mia made their way to Lulu’s place in order to drop Alex there with her and Gabriel and the apparated into Hogsmeade, from where they walked to the castle.
“This place never gets old,” Sirius said with a sigh, looking at the castle as they approached.
Mia smiled – she knew he Hogwarts just as much as she did – that had been the place where they’d found home back when their family lives were not so good. “It really doesn’t. All the stuff that we lived here…”
“Speaking of which,” Sirius said, remembering Barbara’s sighting back in the train station, “our beloved Barbara Lasher was at the train station earlier.”
Mia stopped walking and raised an eyebrow at her husband. “Barbara Lasher? You mean that… that little bitchy gold-digger from Slytherin?”
He grinned at the way she’d described her. “The one and only. Moony saw her himself – I accidentally tried to hook him up with her.”
She made a face as they resumed walking to the castle. “Accidentally?”
“I didn’t see her face at first. Obviously she wouldn’t be my pick for his girlfriend,” he explained quickly. “And then all I wanted was to get off the train station without running on her – I might feel too compelled to hex her if she was horrible to you… again.”
Mia chuckled. “Remember the hives?”
He grinned. “How could I possibly forget? One of my masterpieces.”
They entered the castle still smiling seconds later only to see Dumbledore and McGonagall in the Great Hall talking to a short, plump woman dressed in a horrible green tweed outfit with pink frills all over it. All together, she looked similar to a toad.
“Ah, Sirius, Amelia,” Dumbledore said in his usual welcoming tone. “Let me introduce you to our new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Dolores Umbridge.” At the same time he voiced the woman’s name, the headmaster also gave them a warning look, which they understood – she worked for the Ministry. They’d seen her name in several articles of the Daily Prophet against Harry and Dumbledore. “Professor Umbridge, these are Sirius and Amelia Black, our Quidditch Coach and History of Magic teacher.”
The woman gave them a smile that was so fake and forced that Sirius wondered if she was in pain as she did it. “How nice to meet you,” she said in high, girlish voice whose sound could be classified as poisoned honey. “I am sure it will be a pleasure working with you two.”
“I think exactly the same,” Mia replied, forcing a smile back – better not show her enemy she thought of her as an enemy. “Well, we’d love to stay here and chat but there are so many things to do before the students arrive. If you don’t mind, we’ll just get going.”
“Not at all,” Umbrige said immediately.
Mia nodded. “Professors,” she said with, giving Dumbledore and McGonagall a nod before reaching for Sirius’s arm and leaving with him. They waited until they were at least a floor above the others and several hallways away before saying anything about Umbridge.
“So that’s the bitch who’s called you cold and neglectful in that article,” Sirius said though his teeth. “Dolores Umbridge.”
“Apparently,” Mia replied. “Hopefully, she’s just talk… or else this is worse than I thought.”
He sighed. “I have a feeling it won’t be long before we figure it out.”
A/N: Fifth year starts and Umbridge appears. The countdown for the battle of the Department of Mysteries has officially started... Hope you liked the chapter - especially the all-Sirius/Mia first part. Hoping for some feedback. Review!