“I'm headed to my office now,” I told Sirius as I walked over to the dining room table, where he had spread out his students’ essays and was grading them. This is how we spend our evenings now, grading essays. Who would have thought it?
“You sure that you don't want me to come with you?” he asked me, and I shook my head at him.
“I'm the Head of House, it's my responsibility. How are your essays going?”
“Honestly, I think that they all just copied the text directly from the book. Remind me the next time that I assign an essay to my first years, that I make then have to answer a question, rather than just give me information. This is so very boring,” he complained and I smiled at him.
“I shouldn't be long, love. I'll help you when I get back. We can swap years, my essays are generally more interesting to read,” I explained and leaned down to kiss him goodbye. “Have I told you today that I love you?”
“You have, but I never tire of hearing it,” he responded, which earned him another kiss.
I got up and left our quarters and our slumbering children and went to my office. It was Tuesday night, and I needed to discuss some rather unfortunate behavior with four of my students. It didn't really matter to me that they had beaten Slytherin on Saturday. They're lucky that they're getting off as easy as they are. I walked into my office, and lit some candles to keep the room from looking quite so dim. I was seeing my Healer tomorrow, and I was hopeful that I would be allowed to finally use some magic, it had been nearly three months, and I was still restricted on my magical usage. I sat down on the chair at the end of the table that I worked at and sighed, rubbing the flesh between my eyes. A knock at the door roused me from my meditation.
“Come in,” I told the quartet and they happily entered the room; Harry and Ginny holding hands, Ron and Hermione arm in arm. “Why don't you all sit down.” They slid into the desks and looked at me.
“So, we trounced Slytherin Saturday. How does our Head feel about that?” Ginny asked, her bright eyes shining.
“The team played well,” I told her, “and I'm always happy when we beat Slytherin, but that's not why I've called the four of you here tonight.”
“Do you need help with your classes?” Hermione asked. “I really enjoy doing the tutoring with your fifth years,” she explained but I shook my head at her.
“No, you've all got your assignments for this week. This has to do with an incident last night,” I told them, and they all looked at me confused. “Sirius and I did bed checks at 2:30 this morning.” I watched as all of their smiles faded and Hermione even slumped into her chair. “Imagine my shock when none of you were in your beds. Anyone want to tell me anything?”
“We were out,” Harry said, sounding almost like a question, rather than a statement. He raked his hand through his hair, and it stood up at an even odder angle than before.
“Where?” I asked and he hesitated. “I know that you weren't on the grounds.”
“How do you bloody know that?” Ron asked, getting incensed.
“Is that really the tone of voice you want to take with me? I'm married to the man who charmed the original Marauder's Map. We made a new one, let's just say it's an improvement over the one that Harry has. I know where you were, anyone want to start explaining?” The quartet wouldn't make eye contact with me, and they had separated from each other. It was finally Ginny who looked up at me and started to speak.
“We went to Grimmauld last night,” she told me and I exhaled.
“What was so important that you had to break about a hundred school rules?” I asked them.
“We wanted to be alone,” Ginny said with that look on her face. I shook my head at her and kneaded the bridge of my nose again.
“Let me get this straight,” I said, clenching my fists together. “You left the castle, after curfew, without telling anyone, so that you could shag?” I cocked up my eyebrow and pointedly looked at each of them. This time, no one made any eye contact with me. “I'll take that as a yes. As of right now, you are all in detention with Professor Black and me for a week, and the three of you are banned from Quidditch for a month. Miss Granger, you're banned from the restricted section of the library for the same duration. Additionally, you have each cost your house 100 points, which will put Gryffindor in fourth place. Congratulations you four, the first real punishment I have to give out, I had to do against my House, and worse, against my own family.” The minute I stopped speaking, the four of them started in at the same time.
“How am I supposed to do my revisions if I can't go to the library?”
“You can't ban me from Quidditch, I'm the captain! How will the team practice?”
“I have to serve detention with Uncle Sirius? You can't be serious, how bad can that be?”
“Aunt Winnie, we're of age. I went to my own house! I can't believe how unfair you're being!”
“Quiet, all of you!” I firmly commanded and they were quiet. “I can and will do all of these things, and if I hear another word out of your mouths about your punishment, there will be more. I am your professor and Head of House, and you will treat me as such. Yes,” I turned and looked at Harry, “you're of age; but you are not allowed to leave school grounds on a weeknight and you may never leave without letting us know where you are. The school is still responsible for you.”
“But last year, you figured out ways that Harry and I could be with each other,” Ginny whined, and I nodded at her.
“What I can facilitate as your Aunt is very different from what I can tolerate as your professor. The four of you are given a great deal more leniency and freedom than most students would ever enjoy; but you can't be seen openly breaking the rules. You're Head Boy and Girl,” I told them, looking from Harry to Hermione. “You're supposed to set the examples for every other student. Additionally, Harry, they're going to look up to you,” I told him and he was about to protest, “I know that you don't want to be a hero, but you are. You're lucky that you're getting off as easily as you are. The Headmistress wanted to strip all of you of your positions, but she agreed to let me handle this.” I explained, thinking that Minerva's reluctance to usurp my authority was based on her experiences with Umbridge three years ago.
“I can't believe that I have a week’s worth of detention,” Hermione moaned, and I smiled at her, understanding her feelings toward this.
“Listen to me, if this happens again, the punishment will be much more severe. There are places that you can be alone within the walls of the castle; on weeknights don't leave the building. Do I make myself clear?” I asked and they all nodded.
“Good. Please be in Professor Black’s classroom tomorrow at 7:30 sharp to help him get the Pixies and Doxys ready for his class on Thursday. I'd wear your gloves if I were you, Doxy bites can be rather nasty. That will be all, you may go back to your dorms.” They got up and left and I soon followed suit, returning to our quarters not really any happier than when I'd left an hour ago.
I watched as she bounded out of the Healer's office. I could swear that she was skipping, except that the prosthetic leg wasn't quite that flexible. There was an effervescence that wasn't with her since the war ended, and it was refreshing to see. This is the Winnie that I lived with for all of those years. We made it to the lifts and when we stepped inside, the car was empty. It would have been a quiet ride down, except that Winnie was humming a hymn that I recognized from going to church with my Mum as a child.
“What does your schedule look like for the rest of the day?” I asked.
“I am free until we're to eat dinner with the Potters. They're coming up to have supper, which Kreacher is making. I cleared my schedule at the Ministry this morning, and I have my elemental students split up into groups and working with James and Minerva this afternoon. I made sure that I was clear, not knowing how this visit would go. Lily is picking up Ethan when she gets Evan at school too.”
“May I take you to lunch then? I don't need to be into my office for a few more hours,” I told her and she smiled at me.
“I love the way “my office” sounds coming from your lips,” she beamed at me. I didn't doubt that anyone was as happy for me when I was hired by the Ministry as Anwen was. “I would love to have lunch with you. I know that I should let Sirius know, but I really want to see his face when he learns that I'm finally able to do magic again,” she beamed.
We made our way to the apparition point within St. Mungo's, and decided that a trip into Hogsmeade would draw less attention than one onto Diagon Alley. “I will meet you there.” Anwen told me, clearly pleased that she was able to get herself to our location, without assistance.
I apparated first, and a moment later, Anwen met me near Hogsmeade station, with a visible spring in her step as she walked. I don't remember seeing her this happy and healthy in a very, very long time. Maybe not since the whole veil thing. She chatted brightly as we made our way to the Three Broomsticks and went inside. It was a weekday, at noontime, on a rather blustery day, there were few people in the establishment and Rosemerta came over and talked with us as we decided what we wanted to eat.
“I'm not even going to ask if you're pleased, you are positively oozing happiness right now,” I told her and she smiled one of those teeth baring, face engulfing, nearly losing her eyes from the rise of her cheeks smiles that could charm a wild hippogriff into submission with it's brilliance.
“I am,” she told me, and then her face fell a little. “I was getting so discouraged, Remus. It had been nearly six months since I'd done any real magic. I was honestly trying to figure out what I was going to do, if I never got to do magic again,” she confessed, and I could see the deep concern that was in her eyes. “I felt so helpless, my body was waging war with me, and there wasn't anything that I could do about it.”
“I could tell, Winnie. You hid it well from most people, but I could tell how sad you were,” I told her and she took my hand.
“Thank God I don't ever try to lie to you, it wouldn't work out well,” she confessed, while rolling her eyes. “There were times, when I was all alone, and I didn't have to pretend, even for Sirius...”she started, and then looked down, “...I was beginning to wonder if it was worth it. If this sacrifice was worth what I was being asked to give up. I know, that's not right of me, and I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to pick and choose who to shield and who to let go, but...does that make me a bad person?” she asked, looking up at me for assurance.
“Anwen,” I took her hands in mine, “it doesn't make you a bad person that you had doubts, it makes you human. But it worked out for the best, didn't it?”
“Yes it did.”
“That's why you brought me along, instead of Sirius or Lily?” I asked her and she nodded.
“You would have let me rage and be upset without trying to console me or even judge me,” she confided, and I was thankful that she trusted our friendship so. Our meals came, and I was delighted to see Anwen eating. She'd again lost a fair amount of weight while she was sick, and she'd been putting it back on. In fact, I think with the physical therapy that she's had to undergo with the Muggle prosthetic, she might be in better physical condition than I'd seen her in years. Her arms had very clearly defined muscles and her left leg was very obviously strong.
“So, tell me about your work. King, Minister, oh bugger I swear I won't ever get that right, anyway, he was thrilled when you said yes,” Anwen said as we ate and I grinned at her inability to call the Minister by his title. I think if you've lain in the mud with someone for days on end, you've earned the right to call them whatever you want.
“You know about the legislation that we're working on getting passed?” I asked and she nodded.
“Yes, several bits of it have passed over my desk,” she told me and I looked at her, surprised. “Just to make sure that we weren't going to need to change additional laws to see it's passage. I'm not checking your work.”
“Oh, well, I suppose that it makes sense then. We've already been given the go ahead on dismantling the Werewolf Capture Team. If there are any others out there biting people, the Aurors will deal with it,” I told her, wording it so that she knew that I was still quite frustrated at the freedom of Greyback.
“And how are the support services?” she queried, clearly trying to change the subject.
“We've had a ten–fold increase in what we're able to do for families. The care that's given to newly infected children, or adults as the case may be; it's based on what Lily and I have been doing for years. After that, we're setting up mentoring programs, so that as soon as the employment ban is lifted by the Wizengamot, we can help people get back to work. Fred and George have offered to give several people jobs at their store already, as have several other establishments. There are a few departments that have stepped forward as well; including the Minister’s, but I’m sure that you knew that.” I explained and she smiled at me.
“That's wonderful, Remus. James put the debate on the calendar for the Council on Monday of next week, which means that the Wizengamot should be able to debate and vote by the following Friday,” she explained.
“That quickly,” I sighed, knowing that the bill had a fair amount of work still needed to be done on it. “I know that you're busy, but would you look at the whole proposal, once it's done, not just the law related parts? I just want to make sure that we've crossed the t's and dotted the i's.”
“Of course I will, you don't even have to ask. Now, did you have any luck getting the apothecaries to reduce the prices on the potion?” Anwen asked, knowing that one of the drawbacks of Wolfsbane was the expense. Most of those who were infected had to have it brewed for them, rather than doing it themselves. The cost could be quite prohibitive.
“I couldn't get them to agree, so I went to King to talk about the Ministry supplementing the cost, maybe paying half, so that it was affordable. King seemed to like the idea, but there isn't the money right now; the reconstruction from the war has depleted the Ministry coffers.”
“Damn, it would really have helped if we had been able to say that the expense of the Wolfsbane would no longer have been an issue,” she said, and I smiled at her use of 'we', because I could tell that Anwen was going to take the passage of this law personally.
“Wait, I haven't told you the strange part yet. Not two days after the Minister and I had this conversation, a huge financial gift was given to the Ministry, stating that it should be used to help those who had been affected by the war, specifically, those living with long term infections. The letter was meticulously worded, so that it was clear that it should be used to help those with Werewolf infections, without coming out and saying it. Do you know anything about this money?” I asked her, knowing that it wouldn't be out of character for her to have done something like this.
“I know nothing, and the money didn't come from my accounts,” she said, but her answer was too carefully worded to lead me to think that she might know something about it. “But it sounds like some serendipity there, so be thankful for it.”
“I am, believe me I am. I have a meeting with the two largest apothecaries, the one here in Hogsmeade and the one on Diagon Alley, to see if the Ministry were to purchase large quantities of the potion, if we could get a discount on the whole thing, and then we could sell it to those who need it at a discounted rate. Perhaps if they know that they will be selling more of it, they might be willing to cut the cost?”
“That sounds like a plan. Remus, I am so proud of you; you've taken what has been the bane of your existence and make it a strength. I am so honored to call you my friend,” she gushed and I could feel a blush cross my face. Anwen can always make me feel good about myself. I wonder how she would feel if she knew what I was doing most nights? If she and Tee ever found out...I was brought back to my present company by Rosemerta bringing the bill, which I was able to grab before Winnie.
Anwen didn't complain when I paid the bill, which surprised me, but I chose not to comment. As we were about to leave, I was stunned to find Draco Malfoy standing near our table, extending his hand toward Anwen.
“Mrs. Black, I was wondering if I could talk with you?” he asked and Anwen nodded at him.
“Of course, please, have a seat, and don't call me Mrs. Black. You knew her I'm sure, and she probably liked you. Me, however, she tended to swear at and berate my husband for loving me. You can call me Anwen,” she told the young man as he sat, putting her hand on his. “You are family, after all, and you've been kind to Bastien. That means a great deal to me.”
“Draco, if you'd like, I can leave you two alone?” I suggested, but he shook his head at me.
“It's alright, Professor Lupin, you might be able to help as well,” he confided, looking so much older than his 18 years.
“What can we do for you?” Anwen asked.
“Do you know that Pansy is pregnant?” he asked, and we both nodded. “I assumed as much, since we saw Ginny and Hermione on Diagon Alley a few months ago. Her father is pressuring me to marry her, but...” he stopped and ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. I couldn't help but notice that he was but a shell of the haughty child that I had taught five years ago. He no longer dressed all in black, but was instead in a simple Muggle jumper and slacks, in shades of brown. His hair was longer, and no longer slicked back and fell in a haphazard way over his head. He clearly wasn't eating well either, as his face had a hollow pallor to it.
“Look, it comes down to this,” he started speaking again, “I don't love her, in fact, I don't even like her. I thought that I did, but it was this horrible arranged marriage that my father set up for me when I was eight. I'm not even sure that the baby is mine, since I became disgusted with her long before the war ended, and kept my distance. There was only one night, and I was rather drunk, actually at her insistence,” he added which made alarms go off in my mind. “I pulled away from her when she kept spouting all of this horrible stuff about other students, little did she know that I was helping to save those same students from the torture and ...” he stopped and a shudder passed through him at what I supposed was the memory of what he’d seen inside the walls of Hogwarts last year.
“Why don't you call off the engagement. There is a clause in the betrothal laws to accommodate such things,” Anwen offered and Draco shook his head.
“I don't know if I can do that either. I might not love her, but I don't want her disgraced; and what if it is my child, I certainly couldn't turn my back on them. It would be like Bastien,” he blurted out and I watched as the pain crossed Anwen's face. “Merlin's beard, I didn't mean to say that. Please forgive me?” he asked Anwen and her look softened at him.
“It's alright, I wouldn't doubt that your perception would be somewhat different than mine. Draco, you need to decide what to do, what will be best for you. There's a Muggle–developed test that can be done before a baby is born to check the DNA and determine if you're the father or not. I can run it in the lab at the Ministry, we have the equipment. If I did it, no one else would know,” she suggested.
“I heard about it, but Pansy is against it. I think she might be afraid that I'll find out the baby isn't mine. I can't imagine spending my life with someone that I have nothing in common with anymore. I just,” he paused, “I just don't know what to do.”
“Draco, this isn't something that you can decide in one afternoon. May I make a suggestion?” I asked him and he turned to look at me.
“Sure, you're a very smart guy, even if you're married to my cousin,” he joked and I smiled back at him.
“Why don't you think about what you want your life to look like in a year, five years, ten years and so on. Figure out what you want, and then decide how to go about getting it. Your heart will let you know if marrying Pansy is the right thing or not.” I offered and he nodded at me.
“That's good advice, thanks,” the young man told us.
“Draco, you know that your family loves you, right? Andromeda and Sirius will help you in any way that they can,” she told him and he looked surprised at Anwen's revelation. “I have an idea, why don't you come over for supper on Sunday, we'll have the whole Black/Tonks/Lupin bunch over and we can talk about what steps you want to take. How would that sound?” Anwen suggested, and the young man's face seemed to light up at the idea.
“That would be,” he paused, “that would be really good. If I tell Pansy that I'm having dinner with all of you, she'd never want to come, she'd think that it was beneath her. I swear, she reminds me of my father some days, and that’s not a compliment,” he told me, and I smiled at the change in the young man.
“Come to the castle around 4:30, Sirius can meet you in the lobby outside the Great Hall, and walk you up to our quarters, they're a little hard to find sometimes,” Anwen told him and he nodded.
“Thanks so much for talking with me, both of you,” he told us, rising and shaking our hands in succession, then leaving the establishment. Anwen and I both sat for a moment more, commenting on this turn of events, and I promised her that I would talk with Andromeda when I picked Teddy up. She thanked me for going with her and then headed back up toward the castle, while I apparated back to work.
“Can everyone understand now, why the Unforgivable Curses are labeled such?” I asked my fourth years, and there seemed to be a fair number of heads nodding their understanding. “Alright then, moving on to why the Ministry has labeled them such, and what the punishment for using them is,” I started when a saw a hand go up, about two thirds of the way back in the room. I was used to this class asking a lot of questions, I had Ravenclaw and Gryffindor students, and they were clearly more inquisitive than the other Houses.
“Miss Langston, you have a question?” I asked the girl with her hand up.
“Yes, Professor, I was wondering, have you ever cast an Unforgivable?” she asked me, and I was thankful for my answer.
“I haven't ever been called upon to do one, but I have been in situations where I would have considered it, if everything else had failed,” I told then honestly.
“Professor, can I ask what would have made you do such a thing?” she continued, and I went and sat on the edge of my desk, taking a deep breath.
“Last year, while the war was still raging, I ended up in several duels with Death Eaters. They were threatening my friends and my family, but thankfully, I was able to get out of the situations without using an Unforgivable. However, if everything else had failed, and it meant life or death for me or someone I loved, I would have used one. I know that my wife had to, while she was working as an Auror, to save other people. I can tell you that it was never something that she did lightly, and she was remorseful that there wasn't any other choice,” I finished and another hand went up.
“Yes, Mr. Niles.”
“Have you ever had one used on you?” he queried and I nodded slowly.
“I've had both the Cruciatus and the Imperious Curses used on me,” I told them, and then decided that we needed to get back to our lessons before they asked about those instances, it wasn't something that I wanted to share.
“The Ministry of Magic outlawed their use due to the extreme control that could be exerted over one witch or wizard on another...” I started when I was shocked by a golden Griffin bounding into the classroom, coming over and kneeling before me before it vanished.
“Professor, whose Patronus was that, the color was all wrong?” one of the girls asked, but I didn't even think to answer her.
“Class, write me an essay, twelve inches in length on the history of the Unforgivable Curses. Class dismissed,” I told them and there were surprised whispers around the room as they all gathered their things up and exited the room. I followed my last student out, and when I reached the hall, Anwen was leaning against the far wall, positively glowing as she smiled at me. Her happiness hit me full force, and I threw my head back and laughed, grabbing her hand and almost pulling her away from the hall.
“I don't believe that you let your class out early so that you could take me to bed, Professor Black. That isn't very responsible of you,” I whispered in his ear as I ran my tongue along the edge. Sirius growled in response.
“My darling, there was only one way to celebrate this rather momentous occasion, and that involved you, me and this rather large bed while our children are out of the house,” his hand gently running across my breast.I pulled myself closer to him and kissed him again, then I took a moment to look around our bedroom. Robes and other articles of clothing were strewn across the floor, his shoes were near the door and mine was, well I wasn't sure. My prosthetic leg was propped up on the foot of the bed and I could see my favorite pair of pink satin knickers in tatters on the bedside table. Good thing that he bought stock in the company, he's been destroying them at a rather impressive rate.
“Love, we really should be getting up. We've only got twenty minutes before Patty will be home with the younger five children,” I told him and Sirius plastered his cockeyed Marauder's smile on his face and came to lay over me.
“Twenty minutes, huh...that seems like just enough time,” he told me as he began kissing his way down my body. His head disappeared below the covers, and I was helpless against what his mouth was doing to me.
I had driven the car today to pick the boys up, it was quite chilly and the wind was brisk, and if I just walked up to pick up the kids, I knew that people would question my sanity. The car heater was doing a less than adequate job keeping me warm, so I was quite thankful that I'd driven over, instead of having to brave the chill. I waited for a few minutes, until I saw the doors to the school open up, and the children began to trickle out. Ethan would be let out first, and then Evan would follow a short time later, since they dismissed by grade. I turned off the car and opened the door.
As I eased myself out, I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck rise and something in me told me that there was danger. I looked around, but saw nothing out of the ordinary, just other mothers and nannies there to pick up the children from their classes. No one seemed unfamiliar. It must be the cold, I mused to myself, sliding my fingers along the wand that was holstered on my slacks. I saw Ethan leaving the school and his eyes lit up when he saw me.
“Aunt Lily,” he yelled as he ran down the stairs. “Aunt Lily, I knew all of my numbers today when the teacher asked. I did them all the way up to twenty-five,” his exuberance was contagious.
“Congratulations Ethan, your Mummy and Daddy will be very proud of you,” I told him, giving him a little hug and then taking his hand as we waited for my young son.
“I hope so, I want to get more points for my house,” he told me and I smiled at the concept. It was ingenious of Anwen to decide to give her children their own houses, as a unique way of rewarding them for doing well at things. She is such a good mother.
“Well, I should think that if you've done that well on your work, you shall get your points,” I told him and he continued to smile up at me.
“Evan, hey Evan, we're over here,” Ethan yelled when he saw his cousin leave the building and my son ran up to me and hugged me.
“Mummy, I got all my spelling words right,” he told me, and I took him by the hand as well, leading them to the car.
“Congratulations, dear. I knew that all that hard work you and Daddy put in on them would pay off. How about some fresh biscuits when we get home? Lilyan and Hope are home with Daddy, and we can have a little party to celebrate your good work at school before we go up to the castle to have dinner with the Black's,” I suggested and they both cheered at the idea.
“Can we see Grandma Mimi while we're there?” Evan asked and I tussled his hair at the suggestion.
“I don't see why not, I know that she'd love to see you.” I confirmed and we headed away from the school.
I could feel that same strange sense that we were being watched as I crossed the parking lot and got the boys into the car. I glanced around again, but still didn't see anything. Maybe I should tell James and Sirius that what I felt? Oh Lily, be sensible. There's nothing about to jump out from behind a tree to hurt the boys; there is absolutely no reason to worry their fathers that way, I decided as I got into the car and started the engine; I did however, lock the doors as I drove away.