As weeks passed, the environment at the school became heavier and heavier with Umbridge’s powers over the school increasing visibly: after a ministry decree was published barely a week after the school had started, she’d been appointed High Inquisitor of Hogwarts, a new and rather made up position that allowed her to inspect her fellow teacher’s classes and to see if they should be allowed to remain teaching.
Umbridge had been more than happy to use it as an opportunity to harass a few teachers that were not to her liking – namely Sirius and Mia – and to try and find some dirt on them. She’d been not so happy, however, to realize she hadn’t been able to squeeze a single thing out of it that could get them sacked and out of her way.
At the same time, her newfound influence over the school and lack of improvement in teaching, worried several students. Ever since his detention, Harry had endured the possible and the impossible just not to get another one of those with her again, considering Umbridge had looked more than enraged whenever he was in her office doing lines – sometimes he felt like she wanted to stab him with that ‘special quill’ of hers that she kept clutching in her hand.
His biggest comfort while attending her pointless classes full of snide comments about Voldemort’s ‘alleged’ return was knowing that he, Ron and Hermione had their own side plans to take matters in their own hands. Teaching defence against the dark arts themselves secretly had been Hermione’s idea that, after a lot of discussing, they decided to put in practice with a recruiting meeting at the first Hogsmeade weekend, which was scheduled for the fifth of October. The days that took for it to come felt like they had twice the normal size but, finally, in a rather sunny morning, the day of the visit finally came.
It was just after ten-thirty in the morning when Sirius and Mia arrived at the village – completely oblivious to their godson’s plans –, after leaving Alex with Elizabeth for the day. Though they usually spent weekends at home, knowing that the kids wouldn’t be within the castle’s protection wards that day didn’t make them feel so comfortable staying away.
“Besides, it’s been a while since we’ve had a Hogsmeade date, hasn’t it?” Sirius reasoned as they walked along the village’s High Street.
Mia turned to him with an eyebrow rose. “So this is a date, hum?”
“Why wouldn’t it be? We’re walking all cosy in Hogsmeade, I’ve kissed you at least twice already and…” he couldn’t think of more. “Well, unless you’d rather call this ‘being here because we’re afraid Death Eaters will attack our kids out of nowhere’, which sounds rather depressive and paranoid, a date would be the closest hit. If you want to go to Madame Puddifoot’s Tea Shop later to make it official…”
She elbowed him. “I’ve only stepped foot on that lacy nightmare once and swore never to come back. Although, I guess a date sounds better than that other label you gave this,” she agreed with a smile. “But why is it that I can’t remember you asking me on this date at all, Mr. Black? How very rude of you!”
He chuckled. “Well, if that’s the problem…” they stopped walking and he turned on his side to face her, “will you give me the honour of going on a rendezvous to Hogsmeade with me?”
Mia made a thoughtful face. “Oh, I don’t know. There was this other guy I wanted to go with… ”
“Hey!” He showed her his wedding ring. “Married here. That deal says I get dibs on you, remember? Tell that other bloke to go watch the clouds or something.”
“Okay, okay,” she said with a chuckle. “I guess I’ll have to say ‘yes’ to you, after all, as you get dibs. But I hope you realize this won’t be a very… orthodox date. It’s likely we’ll run into loads of people we know, the children included.”
Sirius snorted, wrapping one arm around her shoulders as they resumed walking. “We’ve managed a honeymoon with kids there… I’m sure we’ll manage a date like this too.”
“If you say so…” She leaned her head against his shoulder and sighed, watching the gold, russet and red leaves spattered like a fiery carpet on the floor. Autumn looked good on Hogsmeade, Mia thought. It always had. And now it made her feel sad. “This is so different but, at the same time, just the same,” she whispered.
He raised an eyebrow at her. “What do you mean?”
“You said it had been a long time since we’d last been on a date here in Hogsmeade. I meant that now things are so different but at the same time so similar to what they were before,” she explained. “We’ve grown – maybe not as easily as we might have imagined –, lived our lives, got married, created a family… but the world is nearly back to where it was. We know we can’t be here at Hogsmeade without looking over our shoulders to see if there’s anyone suspicious around.” Mia took a deep breath. “We have no idea of what You-know-who is planning right now but I think we all know where it is going to end: a war. Just like before.”
There were a few moments of silence when they both contemplated her words.
“The world is a messed up place,” Sirius replied simply. He wouldn’t bother denying it to her – if he did, he’d just be patronizing her. He knew as well as she did that, ever since Harry had announced Voldemort’s return, a war was the nearly unstoppable end. And speaking of Harry… he thought as he saw his godson approaching him and Mia with a serious look on his face.
Sirius’s arm stopped surrounding Mia and came down to simply hold her hand – he knew Harry was at that age when he didn’t care much for someone else’s public displays of affection – especially not his godparent’s.
“Hey,” Harry greeted his godparents as he reached them. “I… hum, I needed to talk to you guys… privately.”
As it was only the three of them, Sirius assumed the ‘privately’ part meant Harry wanted to have the conversation somewhere more secluded. “Follow us, kid.”
Harry nodded and didn’t say another word until they reached their destination – a little meadow near the Shrieking Shack, where not many people dared to go, due to its alleged haunting.
“Well, what do you need to talk to us about, Harry?” Mia asked him calmly.
“I… I‘m not sure of how to say this… I’m mostly just telling you because I promised that communication would go both ways between us but I don’t want to get into too much detail in this,” Harry started. “The least you know, the better for you…”
She grimaced at his hesitation. “Harry, you’re starting to scare me. Look if you’re not telling us something to protect us but you feel like you need to let it out, just go ahead and say it. We’ll deal with it.”
Harry shook his head. “No, it’s not that.” He sighed. “I’ll just go to the point: Ron, Hermione and I came up with this idea. In a way, it is against Umbridge. We’re not planning to take her down or anything, we just… we want to make sure everyone gets their chance of learning how to defend themselves. We want to do the job she’s not doing. It’s not dangerous itself, but she won’t like it at all if she finds out. That’s why we’ll keep this a secret. I just don’t want to get into the details so she won’t be able to use it against you.”
Mia was pretty sure that all the trouble Harry had gotten himself into had started out as non-dangerous but he was fifteen already – she couldn’t protect him from all potential sort of danger forever. He wasn’t a little boy anymore – he hadn’t been for a while. “Okay, before you say anything more, a few questions. Do you think this is necessary?” Mia asked him honestly.
He nodded without doubt. It might be vital for all of them, even.
“Do you think you can handle it?” she asked him
He sighed. “I hope I can. I’m not sure but Ron and Hermione are positive I can.”
Sirius coughed, calling their attention. “Will Izzy be in it too?”
Harry sighed and nodded. “Probably – I haven’t told her yet but I’d say she’ll step in without a doubt. I think she should.”
“Good,” he said – he had a feeling that was something he wanted both his oldest kids to take part in.
“Will you be watching out for her like the big brother you are?” Mia asked, just to confirm what she believed.
“Of course. I always do.”
Mia gave him a smile before her husband sighed and spoke. “Last question.” He made a little moment of suspense before breaking into a grin. “Will this be a figurative kick in the arse of that frog-faced banshee you call a teacher?”
Harry laughed this time. “More like repetitive kicks.”
“Alright. We don’t need to know anything else,” Sirius told him. He was more or less getting the picture already and he believed Mia was too. He pictured the plan as creating some sort of group and study or train DADA together. He wasn’t sure of how big or what the methods would be used but those could be classified as details. The idea itself was… brilliant.
“Do you need help with anything?” Mia asked him.
“I want to see if this will work first,” Harry replied. “But thanks. So… you guys are okay with it?”
Sirius snorted. “I can tell you that, as a marauder, I’d be pretty disappointed if you, a marauder’s son, didn’t do a thing to make sure that woman wouldn’t have her way. I’m more than okay with this.”
Mia bit her lower lip before speaking. “I’m okay too but… Harry, you have to promise us you’ll be careful. You’ve earned our trust already but I need to hear you saying it to me.”
“I will be careful,” he promised firmly. “I have to… it’s probably not all that dangerous but I will be, if not for my own sake, for the other’s.” He glanced at his watch and grimaced. “I really need to get going. There’s this meeting…”
“Go,” Sirius told him with a grin. “But before… I think you should know that James would be proud of you.”
Harry’s face beamed like a light at hearing that. “Thanks.” And then, he turned around and ran in the town’s direction before he was late for that meeting of his.
Mia sighed and rested her head on her husband’s shoulder. “He’s all grown up.” She wasn’t sure if she should be happy or sad for that. Deep down, what she really felt was happiness, though it would take her a while to get used to it
“Kids can’t stay kids forever,” Sirius told her, rubbing her arm before he placed a kiss on the top of her head. “Come on – how about we go to the three broomsticks? I feel like having a butterbeer now. No place for sulking in a date, Mrs. Black.”
They entered the Three Broomsticks to find it already packed with students and other teachers. Madam Rosmerta barely had time to breathe, between serving the orders at the counter and yelling at the other bartenders to do something.
Though the whole environment inside the pub made them nostalgic, they couldn’t help wondering where on Earth they’d sit. They looked around, trying to find a free table, which seemed to be inexistent, when, suddenly, their eyes landed on none other than Remus sitting at one of the tables by the window with an explosively red-haired Tonks.
Sirius and Mia looked at each other with eyebrows rose for a moment.
“Is that…?” Mia mumbled.
“Should we go say ‘hi’ or something?”
“Absolutely.” Sirius responded with a grin. That would give him an excuse to tease old Moony a bit…
They made their way through the packs of students until they reached their friend’s table.
“Well, well, what do we have here, Moony?” Sirius said with a grin when he and Mia reached the table. “Hey, Tonks. Nice hair.”
The auror smiled. “Thanks – I was trying a new colour for today. Ended up Weasley-ish,” she said cheerfully. “How’s it going?”
“Pretty good,” Sirius said. “You?”
“Always up,” she replied. “You guys wanna join us? This place is pretty packed.”
“Oh, I don’t know. We could wait for another table if you guys would rather be here alone,” Mia said with a smile. “I’m sure it won’t be that long before we can get one.”
Sirius nodded, still grinning widely. “Exactly. We wouldn’t want to get in the way of Moony finally discovering the art of socializing without us making him.”
Remus narrowed his eyes at him. “We’re here in order business, Sirius, not socializing.”
“Well, if that’s the case, then,” Sirius said, before taking a seat by his old’s friend’s side. “But you know you can do both things at the same time, right? Socializing and working. ”
“Oh, give him a break, Sirius,” Mia said, shooting him a warning look, before taking a seat by Tonks’s side. “So, you two are here to watch over the kids?”
“Yeah,” Tonks said. “Dumbledore obviously doesn’t want the students out of the castle unwatched, especially after what happened to Harry over the summer. Bill and Charlie are doing the street patrol for now – we’re supposed to switch places with them in about twenty minutes.”
“Anything strange going on, so far?” Sirius asked. For a moment, he thought it had been stupid of him and Mia not to think that the order might provide some protection.
Remus shook his head. “Nothing but a bunch of kids goofing around and trying to sneak into the Hog’s Head to get firewhiskey. Nothing you and James have never tried to do.”
Sirius grinned. “I recall you being with us at the time, Remus. Good times, hum?”
“Yeah, well, it wasn’t so great when Lily caught you guys smuggling a full bottle into your dorm,” Mia pointed out.
Tonks snorted. “Really?”
She nodded. “The only adjective I can think of to classify her reaction is ‘loud’.”
“Those redheads have some lungs,” Sirius mumbled.
Mia smiled at the memory one more time before turning to their old friend. “So, Remus, how are you doing? We’ve barely heard of you outside the meetings lately.”
Remus sighed. “I’m alright, thanks. I got a job, actually, down at Cornwall – that’s mostly why I’ve been missing lately. A muggle one, though. Not the best but it’s something, at least – with this new anti-werewolf legislation, nobody in the wizarding world seems to be willing to employ one.”
“That’s horrible,” Mia said in disgust. “Whoever’s written that law should be bitten in the arse by one – no offense, Remus, but that would be poetic justice in its best. I’d like to see the roles reversed.”
“No discussion there,” he said under his breath.
“You two have actually met the person who’s written that law,” Tonks informed them, looking rather upset about it. “We’ve ran into Izzy and Ginny earlier and they had quite a bit to tell Remus about her crappy classes.”
Sirius raised an eyebrow. “Umbridge, hum? Well, that explains why the whole thing smelled so muddy.” He gave Remus a sympathetic look. “Sorry, man.”
Remus shrugged. “I’m already getting used to it.”
“Well, you shouldn’t,” Tonks said. “That’s like publishing a legislation against… deaf people or something. Just because they have a problem, it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the same opportunities as everyone else.”
“I’d drink to that but I’m dry,” Sirius with a grin before poking Remus with his elbow and getting up. “Come on, Moony. Let’s be gentlemanly and get us and the ladies some drinks.” He winked at his wife. “Maybe that way some of us will get lucky later.”
Mia rolled her eyes at him. As if he needed to get her drinks to get lucky, these days.
Remus sighed and got up, going after Sirius to the mob that surrounded the counter. It would probably take them a few minutes before they would even be able to touch the counter’s surface, considering how packed it looked.
“Well, Moony, I’ll confess that for a moment when I saw you sitting at that table with Tonks, I thought I could stop trying to get you a girl,” Sirius told him with a chuckle. “She’s pretty great, hum?”
His friend huffed. “Padfoot, don’t get started.”
“Oh, come on, Moony, I’m not trying to fix you up or anything but don’t tell me you don’t see it too,” Sirius said in disbelief. “She’s colourful, always cheerful. Nobody can be depressed when they’re with her. Not even you.”
“Sirius,” Remus nearly hissed just as the managed to step forward, towards the pub’s counter. “Just stop it.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Merlin, aren’t you touchy today, Moony? What’s gotten into you? A guy can’t even talk about a g…” Sirius stopped, being hit by realization. “Wait a minute. You like her. That’s why you’re all touchy. You have a crush on Tonks.”
“A crush? What are you? Twelve?”
“Moony, don’t try to change the subject. Come on. This is great. She’s perfect for you,” Sirius told him honestly. “What’s keeping you from trying? Doesn’t she like you back?”
The werewolf didn’t respond for several seconds. He really wasn’t looking forward to keep feeding the conversation but the cat was out of the bag... he knew Sirius would never give him a rest. “Maybe. I’m not sure.” There had been a few looks, words, actions… but nothing certain yet. Or maybe there had but he’d made an effort to ignore it. “But it doesn’t matter. It will never happen.”
Sirius narrowed his eyes. “Well, that’s just bullshit, Moony. Why the hell wouldn’t it happen? Because of your…” he lowered his voice to avoid the crowd’s attention, “furry little problem? Sorry, mate, that only serves as an excuse during full moons.”
Remus shook his head. “It’s different this time. I… I’m too dangerous, too poor… I have way too much baggage.”
“You’ve been with girls before and you already had that problem. And you’ve just heard her – she doesn’t care you’re… you know.”
“I’m over a decade older than her.”
“Oh! Shame on you, you cradle robber. Mothers, lock up your daughters,” Sirius said sarcastically. “You think I’d care if Mia was much younger than me? When it hits you, it hits you. If you’re making such a big deal out of denying being with her, it is because you really care. I’m warning you, mate, if you really like her, even love her, letting her go will be the worst mistake you’ll ever make.”
“She deserves someone young and whole,” he mumbled.
Sirius shrugged and patted his back. “Tonks is related to my dear old family – if there’s one thing the blacks were, apart from evil, it’s persistent. If she really wants you, good luck trying to get away,” he said just as they reached the counter. He decided to drop the subject with Remus and just let him cook for a while, as he ordered the drinks. “Madam Rosmerta, long time no see.” He thought back of the time when he and James would flirt shamelessly with her, trying to get her to give them some firewhiskey… never successfully.
The woman looked at him and chuckled, while serving a pint to one of the costumers. “Sirius Black, you haven’t showed your face here in a while. What can I get you?”
“Four butterbeers,” he ordered. “Place is full today.”
“It always is when Hogwarts has Hogsmeade weekends,” Rosmerta told him as she served the mugs. “Your girl was here earlier with her friends. You’ve missed her by a few minutes.”
“Ah, we can find her later,” Sirius said with a chuckle, receiving the mugs she’d passed him and paying. “Thanks.” He turned around to Remus, who was still standing behind him, looking rather melancholic now. “Still thinking? Well, take a couple of these pints while you do it, would you? Or else it’s likely they’ll end up splattered on the floor.”
Remus sighed and took the two mugs. “Wait, before we go back… You’re not going to start dropping hints on Tonks now, are you? Just leave it alone, okay?”
Sirius sighed. “I won’t tell her a thing. But remember what I’ve told you: let her go and you’ll be doing a huge mistake.”
He nodded silently right before they made their way through the mob and then back to the table, where Mia and Tonks were talking.
“…Alex probably won’t want to go back home after all the spoiling he’ll get from his godmother,” Mia was saying with a chuckle before she looked up and saw them. “Hey, I was just telling Tonks about how Elizabeth must be spoiling our son rotten.”
“Oh, yeah,” Siruis mumbled. “Well, I guess it’ fine, as long as she gives him back.”
They kept on talking, rather lively, with Sirius always keeping an eye on Remus and Tonks. By the time they left to replace Bill and Charlie in the patrol, he was pretty sure his old friend wasn’t the only one of the pair that had a thing for the other. Now, those two were a work in progress.
“So, what were you and Remus talking about when you went to get your drinks?” Mia asked, looking at him as she took a sip of her butterbeer. “I could see by your faces it was serious. Anything about the order?”
“The Order? No,” he said. “Let’s just say, Moony’s eyes have finally landed on a girl.”
She smiled widely, putting the mug down. “Really? Do we know her?”
“We’ve just been with her, actually,” he informed her, grinning back. “How oddly perfect is that?”
Mia stared in amazement. “Tonks? Really? I mean, I don’t think I’d have thought of it anytime soon but… you’re right, it’s strangely perfect. She’s exactly the sort of woman he needs to keep him from sulking all the time. Remus does need more colour in his life.”
“Exactly. He’s all depressed about having the hots for her, though,” Sirius told her. “Says she deserves someone better than him, younger than him, etc, etc.”
“Oh, that’s rubbish!” Mia said.
“That’s sort of what I’ve told him. The bloke has a large roll of issues about himself, I’ll tell you. But I reckon Tonks likes him too – hopefully, she’ll take the first step and he’ll end up going along with it,” he said, thoughtful.
She sighed. “Hopefully. But facing your feelings for someone is a pretty hard thing to do sometimes, I’ll give him that. I mean, just look at me. I had a crush on more or less since we kissed that day by the lake when we were thirteen – it took me until our seventeenth birthday to actually say something to you about it.”
“Worth every minute of the wait,” he told her, grinning at the memory.
“Do you think they have a shot at ending up together?” Mia asked him. “Having a bright shinny future?”
Sirius thought for a moment. “If Moony keeps that hard head of his from getting in the way, I’d say they could have. And, of course, if we put some sense in him from time to time.”
“Obviously,” she said, smiling. “You’re sort of amazing, you know?”
He grinned. “Does that mean I’ll get lucky later?”
She chuckled. “Maybe.”
A/N: I hope you liked this early Christmas present today (4k words again...). Some of you were pretty much looking forward for a bit of Remus/Tonks for a while and, well, who am I to refuse a canon relationship? This was pretty nice to write. So, send some feedback. Review!
Happy Christmas for you all! (I won't wish you a Happy New Year yet because I'm hoping to post again before 2010 :D)