He needs Mr. Bunny Bun-bun,” Althea muttered, sitting over the opened package. “He won’t be able to sleep without Mr. Bunny Bun-bun,” she added, tears streaming down her cheeks. “He needs Mr. Bunny Bun-bun!” she sobbed, throwing her head on her knees.
“Althea…Althea,” Remus said gently, resting his hand on her shaking shoulder.
How could Petunia send this package back to me, she thought, as she pounded her fists against her shins. What sort of cruel woman is she to return Harry’s favorite toy? Petunia did not understand—Harry needed Mr. Bunny Bun-bun. Mr. Bunny Bun-bun was his favorite out of all his countless stuffed animals. He would cry if Lily did not place Mr. Bunny Bun-bun next to him in his cot at night. Who would sing him the Mr. Bunny Bun-bun song before he went to bed? What was Dumbledore thinking sending Harry to Petunia? Petunia did not know the Mr. Bunny Bun-bun song. Althea knew what was best for Harry, and Petunia, Petunia would ruin him. She would keep Lily and James’s memory alive, not squash it as Petunia and her dull husband would.
Althea sat up and roughly rubbed her eyes. “I’ll go there myself,” she said, taking the stuffed toy in her hands. “That way I’ll make sure he has Mr. Bunny Bun-bun.”
“No, you can’t go there,” reminded Remus, resting his hand on her forearm. “Remember what Dumbledore said.”
“Oh, I remember what Dumbledore said—what everyone said,” she replied, her fingers squeezing the stuffed rabbit. “I couldn’t go to their funerals. No, you and everyone else kept me here so I wouldn’t go. Why? I knew there would be whispers. ‘Look at her, she’s the reason Lily and James are dead. What is she doing here? How could they let her come?’ But all of you kept me here. Kept me here for what? For my own good?” she said and laughed bitterly. Sighing sadly, she rested her chin on her knees. “I didn’t say goodbye, Remus. I didn’t have a chance to tell her that I’m sorry.”
“Althea,” he replied softly, stroking her forearm.
“No,” she said, wiping her eyes. “He’s probably so frightened and upset and he doesn’t have his Mr. Bunny Bun-bun,” she said, staring at the blue stuffed rabbit with the yellow bowtie, which rested against the opened package. Looking up, she turned toward Remus, who sat with her on the sitting room floor. “How? How could she send this package back?”
“She must have her reasons,” he replied, rubbing her back. “She’s probably following Dumbledore’s orders.”
“Dumbledore’s orders!” she growled, slamming her fists into the thick rug. “Don’t see Harry. Don’t leave the cottage. Give up Prudence to that bloody Muggle couple!” she spat bitterly, looking angrily ahead of her. “Why—why would he want to take everything from me?” she asked and threw her head to her knees once more. Screaming, she pulled at her unkempt hair and threw herself back against the sitting room floor—her head violently slamming against the floor. Althea blinked her eyes as she realized the pain surging through the back of her head. Staring at the ceiling, she quietly continued, “When I lose Prudence…I have nothing.”
“Althea,” Remus whispered, and out of the corner of her eye, she saw he was shaking his head.
“It’s true, Remus, I will have nothing,” she replied matter-of-factly. “We tried…. Dumbledore was so against our idea…. I can’t lose my baby—I just can’t,” she said and sighed sorrowfully. “Look at me,” she continued, rubbing her forehead. “I’m an absolute mess. I haven’t bathed in three days—three days, Remus. When did you ever know me not to bathe? I can’t stay in here anymore. Everywhere I look, I’m reminded—reminded of him, of Lily and James, of that horrible night. I need a new start with her, somewhere far away from this place,” she finished and sat up. “I’ll go to Bermuda, to London, to Halifax, anywhere.”
Remus moved closer to her and ran his fingers through his own slightly unkempt hair—the past month had not been so well for him either. “I agree with you, you need to leave this house, but Dumbledore might be right about Prudence,” he began and Althea opened her mouth to protest. “No, let me explain. As long as Prudence lives with you, your lives are in danger. Eventually, those in league with Voldemort will discover that she lived. They’ll come after you. If they see you without a baby, you both might have that chance,” he finished, stroking the untidy hair from her eyes.
Althea smirked bitterly. “It’s so easy to say, isn’t it? You’ll never know what it’s like to carry someone for nine months and then give birth to her. All that time, excited about a child you will get to see experience the world in a completely different way than you did…. More than anything, I want her to be safe, but how are we to know she will be safer there? I have magic, Remus…the Parkers don’t. What if Voldemort’s supporters find her there? At least she has a chance with me.”
Remus frowned. “Althea, you might not be alive to give her that chance.”
Rage erupted in Althea. It’s Sirius’s fault, it’s all his damn fault, she thought, clenching her jaw. It would have been better if we died. Keeping me alive…now, I have to go through this? Thank you, Sirius, for giving us life, for making Harry an orphan, and for taking Prudence away from me. At least you think we’re dead—Gran made sure of that, visiting you two weeks ago and shouting at you how horrible you are.
“Damn it! How could he do this to us?” she growled, pounding her fists against the floor. “I don’t care—I want to see him. I want to tell him what an awful man he is…letting me live. I don’t care what you say, it’s my fault Lily and James are dead. It’s my fault Harry lives with Petunia. It’s my fault for not leaving him before any of this happened,” she finished, running her fingers through her unkempt hair.
Remus sighed sadly. “Althea, he wanted you dead. He wanted Prudence dead. Once a wizard turns to the Dark Side, he doesn’t care about his family or friends. He cares about power,” he explained earnestly, resting his hands on her shoulders.
“How can you believe it so easily?” she asked, looking into his pale eyes.
Remus did not reply.
“How can you believe the Sirius we knew is the cold-hearted, power-hungry, evil man that willfully betrayed our friends?”
“Althea, he blew Peter apart…I saw the finger.”
“Why Peter? I don’t understand,” she said and shook her head. “What was Sirius trying to do? Was he trying to kill all of us off?”
“Possibly,” he sighed, frowning. “Getting rid of his old life and starting a new one with Voldemort.”
“So that’s it then? All that time…lying to me…lying to me when we…” she replied, but trailed off as she buried her face in Remus’s shoulder.
Remus held her close to him and let her cry. Isn’t he going to say anything, she thought as she attempted to stop her crying, but failed miserably. Althea continued to cry and wondered how Remus could stay so calm, so strong. I’m falling apart and he’s so calm, she thought, holding him tighter. He’s looked after me this entire time—has he had time to grieve?
Althea sniffed back her tears and sighed into Remus’s worn robes. “Look at us,” she whispered, “I’m a mess and you’re—you’re having to care for me, suspending your own life. I’m so sorry.”
Remus held her tightly to him. “Don’t you think that for one minute,” he replied, resting his head atop hers. “It’s not like I have a job or anything.”
Althea laughed quietly. “Right,” she murmured, lifting her head from his shoulder. “You have to look for a job now, since the war is over.”
“Well, it’s not totally over,” he explained, handing her a handkerchief. “There are still Death Eaters out there that need to be caught.”
Althea wiped her eyes. “Are you going to help catch them?” she asked, folding the handkerchief.
“No, that’s left up to the Aurors now. The work of the Order is done,” he said, standing. “Come on,” he added, offering his hands for her to stand. “You take as long as you need for a nice, long bath, and I’ll watch Prudence.”
“Right,” she sighed as she stood. “You’ll have an easy time watching her though, she’s only sleeping.”
“No matter,” he smiled, shrugging his shoulders. “Now go, take your bath.”
Althea placed her fingers under the tap, letting the water run between her fingers until she found the right temperature. How had she let herself go? Three days without a bath, and she only took the last bath when Gran threw her into it. Gradually, she lowered herself into the warm water and sighed as the water lapped against her body. It had only been a month since Prudence’s birth and her body had slowly begun to return to its former shape before pregnancy. The scars from the Cruciatus Curse on her side would stay with her forever though—curses like that are not easily covered with a simple spell. Her breasts, swollen with milk, still took time to grow accustomed to, and she laughed in spite of herself when she thought Sirius would find her enlarged breasts amusing. He’d probably be trying to poke them constantly, she thought, smiling to herself. She imagined Sirius sitting closely to her as she fed Prudence, wondering how such things worked and continuously asking her questions about breastfeeding.
Resting her arms on the sides of the bathtub, she remembered how inquisitive he was during her pregnancy. He would ask her the most specific and sometimes, bizarre, questions about her pregnancy. Was it all an act, she thought, did he want us dead? When she returned to the cottage, she searched it twice, looking for the goodbye letter he wrote. Maybe it would give her the answers she needed to explain the events of Halloween and the day after; however, in her searching, she never found that letter—that letter, which detailed his reasons for why he left her and their daughter. The lack of a letter made the Sirius as Death Eater a more plausible alternative.
Voldemort’s supporters had approached Sirius, not just the one time she knew about, but also multiple times she later discovered from her talk with Dumbledore. The supporters wanted him; Voldemort wanted him, or rather, his name. A Black not in league with Voldemort? Unbelievable, but she had believed it—James had believed it. How could she not have known? Faced with her death, he must have made a deal with Voldemort. A part of her understood why Harry could not live with her—he could not live with the woman that brought about his parents’ deaths.
“They would have killed me anyway, Sirius,” she sighed, briefly closing her eyes.
Althea sank lower into the warm bath. Her eyes drifted to the cupboard underneath the sink, which housed the latest contraband magazine article about Sirius. She could read about the woman in Chelsea that claimed to have spent the night with Sirius before he killed Peter and the Muggles. He was fantastic, but two places at once—that’s bloody unreal, she thought and laughed. Thankfully, left alone by the papers and magazines, Althea went about her days unnoticed—except by those that cared for her. Remus and Gran tried their best to hide magazines and newspapers from her, but she found them—just where she found her deposition about the whereabouts of Sirius—in the dustbin. Women, from all corners of Wizarding Britain, had come forth to tell their sorrowful tales of their tragic love affairs with Sirius. Tragic love affairs, which rendered the women heartbroken and knowing that something, something was amiss with him and now they knew why. I wonder if he left them with something besides heartache, she thought, dunking her head under the warm water. With slightly bitter amusement, she wondered how many black-haired, grey-eyed, bastard children there would be in Prudence’s Hogwarts class. At least they’d get to keep their children, she thought darkly, taking a large breath as she surfaced.
The whole situation was a circus and a mockery—a mockery of three dear friends she lost. She was not particularly close to Peter, but he was a friend. He was dependable, kind, and the two had sat together in a café on a few occasions. Lacking the confidence of Sirius and James, surprisingly, he was quickly moving up the ranks in his low-level Ministry job in the Department of Magical Transport. What was he thinking, cornering Sirius in the street like that, she thought, running her hands through her wet hair. Sirius is a better dueler—I know that from experience. However, if I knew what he had done at the time, it would have been me cornering him in the street…. I wouldn’t have used a wand either, I would have used one of my Grand’s rifles. Althea smiled wickedly at the thought of shooting Sirius in the head with one of Grand’s rifles.
“God, what James must have been thinking,” she muttered, shaking her head.
No, no, she had to think of something else. She did not want to end up where she was last week—screaming and crying in the middle of her yard, during a thunderstorm, praying for lightening to strike her. She had gone insane then, and now she had to take her mind away from those things that led her to the point of breakdown. She had a daughter to take care of and Prudence needed her at her best. Althea sat up as she heard Prudence cry; however, she heard the gentle voice of Remus ask what was wrong and the crying ceased. Is that Remus singing, she thought smiling and listening intently. Althea wished she could leave him with Prudence longer, but she noticed her hands had begun to prune. I think I’ll take a while to dress, she thought, stepping out of the tub and wrapping a towel around her.
After slowly dressing, drying her hair, and applying make up for the first time in days, she walked toward Prudence’s nursery. She smiled as she entered, for she found Remus asleep in the rocking chair, holding a sleeping Prudence. He’s so exhausted, she thought, looking at the sleeping pair. He had no one this last transformation. Careful not to wake her, she picked up Prudence and gently placed her in her cot, covering her with the blanket Lily had made. She is absolutely beautiful, she thought, gazing at her sleeping daughter. As her daughter grew, her features became more distinguishable. She had Althea’s hair, nose, and face shape, but she had Sirius’s eyes, eyebrows, and mouth. She was not able to determine Prudence’s ears, but it was probably a combination of the two. Suddenly, an overwhelming feeling of sadness enveloped her. As she grows I will be able to see more of Sirius’s features in her, she thought, stroking her daughter’s cheek. God, how will I be able to tell her who her father is and what he did? She’ll know, she’ll find out somehow, but will Harry know? God, I’d never want there to be any hatred between our children—that’s not what we wanted at all. I’m sorry, Harry, but I can never look after you like you need me to…maybe it’s best if I never see you again.
Althea turned around and smiled. “She fell asleep. You know, you should sing more often,” she whispered, walking to the rocking chair.
Remus smiled tiredly.
“Now, you need some rest. Here, sleep in my bed,” she added, pointing to the bed she had brought into the nursery. Since returning to the cottage, she had not been able to sleep in the bed she shared with Sirius.
“No, no,” he yawned, stretching his legs forward. “I’ll be all right. I have to leave,” he added, standing.
“You’re not going anywhere, you’re too tired,” she replied, steering him toward the bed. “Please stay.”
“I reckon I could sleep for awhile,” he replied, eyeing the bed.
“Good,” she whispered and smiled. “Pleasant dreams.”
“Thanks,” he whispered as he pulled the bedclothes back from the bed.
Quietly closing the door, she wondered what she would do next. I suppose I could read that magazine article about the woman in Chelsea, she thought, walking toward the bathroom. Grabbing the magazine, she walked back to the drawing room and sat on the sofa. Her name was Linda Pringles, a twenty-seven-year-old witch that lived in Chelsea. She was a local barmaid at the Zodiac Tavern, who had met Sirius that night. He had flirted with her, bought her a few drinks, and the two headed upstairs to her flat above the tavern. She could prove her meeting with Sirius by remembering certain significant marks on his body.
“What could these significant marks be?” she asked herself and bit her lip to keep from laughing. “A mole on his chest? He doesn’t have a mole on his chest,” she said dismissively. “He has a mole two inches below his bellybutton, and he doesn’t have a tattoo of a snake on his bicep—he has a tattoo of a crescent moon on his right shoulder blade,” she said and made a face as she continued to read. “Of course, you’re not going to bloody Azkaban to verify.”
Bloody hell, maybe I should write an article, she thought, throwing the magazine onto the floor. At least it would be truthful, then. Let’s see, Sirius hates porridge, the word no, and waiting…for anything. He loves sweets, motorbikes, Butterbeer, and sex. He has a habit of biting the inside of his cheek when he’s angry, and when he’s happy, he whistles, hums, or sings to himself.
“Oh, that would sell loads,” she said and sighed, lying back on the sofa. “Unfortunately for them, I’ll never write it.”
Suddenly, she heard someone furiously knocking at her front door. Who could this be, she thought, puzzled, as she stood and walked toward the door. Althea looked through the peephole and gasped.
“What is she doing here?” she whispered—her eyes widening. Taking a deep breath to regain her composure, she opened the door. “Good afternoon, Mrs. Black.”
Mrs. Black looked much older than when Althea saw her last. Her graying hair framed her sallow skin and her elegant black robes hung upon her thin frame. Still, she was impeccably dressed and the clasp that held her cloak was made of the finest goblin silver, no doubt. She eyed Althea with an air of disdain and, for the first time, Althea realized Sirius inherited that look from his mother.
“Please, won’t you come in?”
Althea watched, partially open-mouthed, as Mrs. Black entered her cottage.
“So, he lived here with you, then,” she said curtly, turning her nose up at the modest cottage.
“Yes,” she replied as she closed the door. “Please, have a seat,” she said, offering the sofa.
Mrs. Black frowned as she looked at the sofa. “I’d rather stand,” she sneered, folding her arms.
“Well, then,” Althea replied quickly. “May I ask why you’re here, then? I know this isn’t a pleasant visit.”
“Where is she?” she asked, looking around the drawing room.
“Where’s who? Gran?” she asked and raised an eyebrow. “Come for tea?”
“No, her,” Mrs. Black said and shoved a letter in Althea’s hand.
Puzzled, she opened the letter, and staring back at her was a picture taken in her seventh month—waving and smiling as Sirius sat behind her, with his arms around her and her stomach. You’d teased that you’d send her a photograph, she thought, refolding the letter. I can’t believe you actually did it. Sirius in the photograph nuzzled Althea’s cheek. How could one fake such happiness?
“You mean our daughter—”
Mrs. Black winced.
“She’s dead,” she said and handed the letter back to Mrs. Black. “Your dear disinherited son sought about that.”
“Dead? I don’t believe you. How?”
“I don’t want to go into specifics, but I was tortured by Death Eaters and she was born a day later, stillborn,” she explained, folding her arms.
A small perceptible something—something Althea could not figure out—flickered across Mrs. Black’s face.
“Now, you don’t have to worry about anyone else attempting to claim your precious fortune—”
Althea paused, aware of the imperceptible cracks in Mrs. Black’s coolness that betrayed her true sadness. Her eyes narrowed, realizing Mrs. Black’s true motives. Regulus dead, Sirius in Azkaban, and Prudence is all your lot has…funny about that.
“You’re not worried about your fortune, are you?”
Mrs. Black did not respond.
“Well, I’m sorry to tell you that any joyful meeting with your granddaughter will never happen because she’s dead.”
Mrs. Black sneered at Althea. “How do I know she was even his?” she questioned, stepping forward.
Althea did not back away. “Oh, she was his,” she replied with a small smile, “and you didn’t want to die a lonely, old woman.”
Mrs. Black narrowed her eyes. “Insolent girl—”
“You chucked a bag of Galleons at my feet, you’ve tried to have my wand broken, threatened me with Azkaban, and dissolved our marriage,” she said, suppressing the urge to raise her voice as not to wake Prudence. “You have never shown me kindness.”
Mrs. Black’s thin nostrils flared.
“Your eldest son ran away and your spare probably killed himself because he was sick of you.”
Mrs. Black held her wand at Althea’s chest. Althea did not falter.
“Maybe if you spent more time with your son, you’d never be in this mess, would you?” she remarked, and realized every word she spoke registered on Mrs. Black’s face. “Lost both your sons…could have had a lovely daughter-in-law to care for you in your old age…a couple of grandchildren.”
“That blood traitor ruined it of his own accord,” she said, her lips thinned.
“Reckon you’re so proud, too,” she said as Mrs. Black quickly retracted her wand.
“He never cared for anything but his own pleasure,” she said, slipping her wand into her robe pocket. “You are keenly aware of that.”
It was Althea who took a step forward. “You ruined it for yourself, you know. The Black name will die with you, and you can do nothing about it.”
Prudence’s loud, hungry cry could be heard from the nursery. Althea’s stomach somersaulted as Mrs. Black’s expression transformed into one of satisfaction.
“What was that?” Mrs. Black asked with a triumphant smile.
“That noise,” she said and pretended to strain to listen as Prudence cried. “It sounds of a baby’s cry.”
“Likely,” she muttered, stepping forward.
Althea held up her hand to stop her. “Don’t—don’t—”
“Do not order me,” she said, pulling her cloak from Althea’s grip. “Show me her.”
Althea cringed as the nursery door opened and Remus stepped out, holding Prudence. “Althea, I think she’s—oh—”
Remus stopped in the nursery doorway and gulped. He held Prudence closely to him.
“Not the half-breed.”
Althea quickly walked ahead of Mrs. Black and grabbed Prudence away from Remus. Prudence, why did you have to cry, she thought, as Prudence sucked on her robes. Oh, my little one, we almost had her fooled. Now she knows about you, and I don’t know what she is capable of—damn it!
“I’ll have you respect my friends as long as you’re in my home,” she said as Remus rested his hand upon her back.
“I’ll make this visit brief, then,” she replied, attempting to hide her curiosity of the infant. “Let me see her.”
“What?” she laughed, holding Prudence closer to her.
“Yes,” she replied curtly, peering at the baby, “show her to me.”
Althea motioned with her eyes for Remus to watch Mrs. Black, and he did—standing behind Mrs. Black as she moved forward. Althea positioned Prudence so Mrs. Black could see her, and waited for Mrs. Black’s response. Mrs. Black looked at Prudence and wrinkled her nose.
“She has his father’s eyes and his father’s mouth,” she replied as Prudence kept her focus upon her mother. “Let me hold her,” she said, holding out her arms for Althea to place Prudence.
Althea quizzically looked at Mrs. Black. “You’re joking, right?”
“According to that blood traitor, I do not have a sense of humor,” she said, her arms still outstretched. “Give her to me.”
Althea raised an eyebrow and looked at Remus, who looked as completely confused as she did. Remus shook his head.
“I can’t do that—”
“I am her grandmother and you will offer me this courtesy,” she said and lifted her arms once more.
Althea blinked. Grandmother? Timidly, she handed Prudence over to Mrs. Black much to Remus’ silent protests. Mrs. Black first held her with some awkwardness, but grew accustomed to the wiggling baby. Althea caught her breath as Mrs. Black touched Prudence’s cheek. The tender act unnerved Althea as Mrs. Black continued to hold her grandchild. Did she truly care for Prudence? Mrs. Black nodded to herself as she looked upon Prudence and her cool demeanor had warmed.
Mrs. Black nodded.
Althea quickly retrieved her daughter from Mrs. Black.
“What is her name?” she asked, straightening her sleeves.
“Prudence,” she replied, allowing Prudence tiny hand to grasp her pinky finger.
“So…Muggle,” she sneered as though the word tasted bitter on her tongue. “Ariadne is more suitable—”
“Ariadne?” she laughed and made a face. “Prudence Rosemary is a fine name,” she added, smiling as Prudence started to make sucking noises. “Beautiful.”
“The Rynne influence,” she murmured with contempt. “Never mind, I will call her Ariadne.”
Althea, puzzled, raised an eyebrow.
“My grandmother’s name. Sirius was fond of her,” she said, nodding toward Prudence. “I will return for her things.”
Althea held Prudence tighter as Prudence’s hands clung to her robes. “What do you mean ‘return for her things’?” she asked, stepping away from Mrs. Black.
Mrs. Black frowned. “Must I spell it out for you?” she whispered, her thin fingers massaged her temple. “This brings me no pleasure, I can assure you. I’d hoped and searched that Regulus—but he was such a good boy—”
Althea let out an inappropriate laugh.
Mrs. Black let her hand fall to her side and Althea quieted at her weary look. She inhaled a quiet, ragged breath and spoke, “I’m dying.”
Althea’s eyes widened slightly.
“As a Black, I can give her what you cannot…protect her if need be,” she said, her eyes focused upon Prudence. “She will be well provided for—”
“She will live with me. Now, I dare say it won’t take you long to pack her things,” she said, and looked around the cottage with contempt. “So, you will have optimum time to say your goodbyes.”
“She will not!” she said as Remus stepped to Althea’s side.
Mrs. Black sighed with great annoyance. “You are an unfit mother, and no matter how much I despise you and that blood traitor, she’s still a Black; therefore, she belongs with me,” she explained and reached for the door.
“No, she isn’t!” Althea replied heatedly. “She doesn’t carry his name—you made sure of that—and he’s not on her birth certificate,” she explained as Remus rested his hand on her shoulder. “You have no proof!”
Mrs. Black laughed as she turned the doorknob. “Do you really believe that would stop me?” she asked with the utmost condescension as she opened the door. “You’re nothing but a Muckblood—”
“Your son is a murderer!”
Mrs. Black laughed cruelly. “You foolish girl.”
Althea’s body started to tremble. “Birth certificates are magically binding…it’s impossible to alter them,” she said as Remus squeezed her shoulder. “He has no claim to her, and neither do you! You’re mad!”
“I’ll return shortly,” she replied, ignoring Althea. “I will leave my house-elf to look after her until I return.”
“You will certainly not!”
Suddenly, that odious house-elf appeared and bowed low to his mistress.
“Tend to Ariadne, will you.”
The house-elf bowed lower to the ground. “Yes, my mistress.”
Althea swallowed as she looked from the hateful house-elf to Mrs. Black as she closed the door. Her body still trembled—Dumbledore was correct. It was not an unnamed spy that betrayed her; it was Sirius. Sirius had written a letter to his mother and had sent a photograph. Did he send that information out of spite before the incident on Halloween? He had joked about sending a baby photograph in hope that it would kill her. Althea lowered her head and looked at Prudence. Had he sent it out of spite or out of something more malicious? He wanted us dead, she thought, stroking Prudence’s soft curls. Did he return to his family? Is that why he sent the letter…just in case I escaped? No, I don’t believe it. I can’t....
“She can’t take her,” she said quietly. “She has no right to her.”
Althea eyed the house-elf warily as it studied the mother and baby. If that elf tries to touch my daughter I will not hesitate to deliver his head back to Mrs. Black for more wall decoration, she thought and kissed her daughter’s forehead.
Remus sighed. “Legally no, but it wouldn’t stop her,” he replied, stroking her back. “She’s done everything to ruin you and Sirius. He promised me not to tell you, but I don’t care anymore. His family,” he began and furrowed his eyebrows, “barred him from any sort of Ministry job. Outstanding on all his O.W.L.s and passed every N.E.W.T., but it didn’t matter. His application was rejected for every department he applied for…even the Centaur Liaison Office.” Remus's face shifted into a peculiar expression. “He had nothing but the Order,” he murmured and frowned.