Alessa and Remus walked back towards the castle from Hagrid’s cabin. They had played hooky for the rest of the morning and lunch and were now heading towards Defense Against the Dark Arts.
Upon reaching the hallway, arms went about her waist and swung her up and around, where familiar lips awaited her.
Pulling away from the kiss, Sirius asked Remus,
“You feeling okay, Moony? I know tonight’s the big night and all. We wondered if Alessa took you to the hospital wing…”
“No, Alessa took me to meet her scaly friend and we spent the morning with Hagrid.”
Remus had been hoping to elicit a jealous reaction from Sirius, so that Alessa would see it and hopefully start to see Sirius for how he truly was: unworthy of her.
Unfortunately, Sirius just smiled at him and punched him in the arm,
“Sounds like a good morning then. Any time with this minx is time well spent. And it sounds much more entertaining than the story we made up for old Sluggy to keep you two out of detention. Thanks for looking after her, you really are a good friend.”
Then Sirius walked into the Dark Arts room, his arm around Alessa’s waist and whispering into her ear. She smiled at him in such a way that Remus felt himself flush hot with envy.
When they entered, they saw Lacey was sitting at a table with Lily. Leaning up, Alessa whispered to Sirius,
“Don’t do anything to get detention. I’m still claiming you for Friday night and Saturday, all day.”
“Whatever you order, dear.” Sirius leaned down and kissed Lacey’s head as he walked by her, then sat at the table behind her, with James and Remus at his side.
The Professor looked more nervous than usual, and that was saying something. Having started the term confident, the Slytherin and Griffindor rivalry had slowly stripped Professor Moriarty of his good nature and ease. Alessa looked him over and wondered if Madam Pomfrey was treating him for his case of nerves.
“Today, we will be doing something unorthadox, given that there are a lot of things going on in the world outside, and that you have witnessed one curse in my class, Dumbledore feels that it is only right that I teach you of the things that you shall be seeing in the world outside of Hogwarts.
These are things I had hoped never to teach, but seeing as how the world is quickly changing… I have decided I am inadequate and am handing over the responsibility of teaching to someone who has more experience in these kinds of things. Meet your new Dueling Instructor and my temporary teaching replacement, Dorcas Meadows.”
A short, stout woman stood from a chair in the corner, two young wizards flanked her.
“Good afternoon. I am Auror Meadows, there will be no calling me Professor, because I will not be giving tests. I will be teaching you to protect yourselves and to identify those who mean to do you harm.” Her eyes rested on several at the Slytherin tables and surprisingly, paused at one of the Griffindor tables.
“These are my assistants, Aurors Edgar Bones and Dearborn Cardoc. They will be aiding me in teaching you how to stay alive and possibly tear apart some dark wizards while saving your own hide.” She walked up and down the aisles, staring each student in the eye. She stopped next to Sirius and glared at him,
“Stand,” she growled. Edgar Bones took him by the arm and led him to the opposite side of the room. Walking among the desks she looked down at Lacey and asked, “You’re the Peters girl are you not?”
“Yes.” Lacey responded carefully, wondering what the woman wanted of her.
“Stand!” the woman ordered. Lacey was about to stand, but Lily and Alessa were on their feet pushing her back down.
“I volunteer!” Lily offered quickly.
Dorcas turned around, looking both girls up and down in evaluation,
“Sit, you silly girls. I did not tell you to stand, I told your friend to stand, and I see she is still sitting.”
“And will remain so! Lacey has no need to duel today.” Alessa added in, both she and Lily shielding their friend from the Auror, who suddenly appeared much more daunting than her short stature should have allowed.
The class held its collective breath as Dorcas walked up to the table,
“If she cannot learn to fight through her grief, then she shall die quickly out there.”
“How can you be so cruel?!” Lily demanded, but Lacey stood and said,
“It’s alright, thank you. I’m quite fine to duel.”
Her eyes blazed as she walked by several Slytherin who were smiling at her in a cruel manner. Stopping at one table with a girl named Breanna, she leaned over and whispered,
“Smile while you can, because I’m going to destroy you the second I get a chance.” There was so much hatred and fury in her whisper that Breanna blanched and sank in her seat.
With that, Lacey turned and allowed Auror Dearborn to lead her to her dueling position.
Meadows, without warning, cast a hex at Sirius which he barely had time to deflect. Unsure what to do, he just stood on guard, but Dearborn shot another hex at him. Soon, he and Lacey were fighting against the two Aurors, with Dorcas joining in when she felt like it.
“You see, students. In the real world, the world where I and these two fine young men work, there are no warnings, no count downs, and no second chances. Things just happen, and you need to be able to react.” She threw another spell at Sirius.
Lacey was fighting with an energy behind her that Alessa and Lily had never seen before. The two Aurors were actually fighting them back, not just lazily hexing students, as they had expected. Dorcas threw another curse and Sirius decided he had had enough.
Running at the two men throwing curses, Lacey joined him. Sirius ran at Caradoc, then swerved to the right and launched his elbow into Bones’ temple as Lacey shot a full body bind onto Caradoc. Then Sirius continued on towards Dorcas and Lacey circled with him. The woman smiled and she began throwing more complex curses at them.
Unable to stand it any longer, James and Remus exchanged a glance, which Cassie and Lily caught sight of and all of them launched themselves at Dorcas at the same time.
The woman laughed and threw a disarming spell that none of them had ever seen. Their wands went flying from their hands and she went on to brag,
“Now you have no wands. What will you do with an Unforgivable Curse coming…?” Alessa saw her level the wand at Lacey. Sirius and James were closest to Dorcas and dove for her, but Alessa threw herself right in between, hugging Lacey to her.
The curse left Dorcas’ wand, but hit some sort of a shield, that glowed briefly for a second then dissipated.
Sirius manhandled the wand from Dorcas’ hand and pointed it at her.
Laughing, the woman surprised them all,
“Excellent, excellent. You will not be the waste of my time that I had predicted when Dumbledore asked me here. You… you all I can work with. Everyone else is dismissed to go with Professor Moriarti. You all will stay with me.” She held out her hand and her wand whipped from Sirius’ back into her own. Their own wands flew into their hands, as startled students shuffled from the room, along with a much relieved looking Moriarti.
“Now that was a fight!” Dorcas went on.
“What in the hell do you think you were doing?!” James demanded.
Dorcas looked him over then said,
“That hair… you must be James Potter. Your father told me you were a brave idiot. I’m glad to see he was right about the brilliant part as well. You all have shown…” she looked over to where her own Aurors were still on the ground,
“Oh, get up, you oafs. You were just slapped around by some children. You’ll be fine.” She undid Lacey’s bodybind, then continued with her speech,
“Shown great bravery and unpredictability: qualities severely lacking in the Auror administration. Though, I have to say, I’ve never seen someone throw themselves in front of an Unforgiveable for a friend before. Those violet eyes make you the Grindelwald girl. Dumbledore warned me that you’d be a pain in my arse, but worth the effort. We shall see. How did you do that last bit of magic without your wand?”
“I don’t need my wand for all magic. My mother made me practice without it, saying that only a weak wizard would rely on one trick alone.”
“Aye, and Mister Black seems to have implemented that. That was creative, physically attacking Bones. Never saw it coming. I’ve been told that you don’t share you family’s alliances and that you can be trusted. We shall see with you as well.”
She turned her attention on Remus Lupin who she nodded at and said,
“I know well who you are. And I just want you to know that there is a job at the Auror’s office awaiting you, should you decide you want it upon graduation.” Remus couldn’t wipe the shock off of his face.
A job, a real job. He had a job offer, which meant he had a future after all. He had never thought beyond Hogwarts because he knew that, most likely, he’d have to work in the muggle world, where they knew nothing of werewolves.
But a job at the Ministry! And as an Auror; well, maybe Black didn’t always get things he himself couldn’t have.
Turning back Dorcas faced Lily,
“And you are the muggle born: Evans. Dumbledore uses you as an example every time he comes to the Ministry. I figured it must have been exaggeration,”
James bristled and moved over to Lily’s side, putting his arm about her waist. Dorcas just smiled,
“But I can see that it’s not. You, my dear, are the reason this war is going to succeed. Power doesn’t live in purebloods, and you are our banner child for that. Now, formalities are out of the way. I’ve some reading for you. Reading that hasn’t been distributed to students… well, ever. I’m going to dismiss you for the day, because it is your brother’s last day here, Miss Peters. But read up, and from now on, during your Defense class, you will report to the dueling room where we shall practice. Bones! Caradoc! With me.” The two young men cast curious glances over the students again then left the room with their mentor.
Lily and Alessa hugged Lacey who smiled at them softly and said,
“I just overpowered a fully trained Auror.”
Everyone laughed in relief and sat on the ground, all sprawled out and exhausted.
“Lily and I will go with Lacey to say good bye to her brother. Sirius, will you come get me when it’s time for detention? We can go together. You know how Hagrid hates me walking alone along those woods at night.”
“Yeah, I’ll get you in plenty of time for detention.” Sirius said, looking over at Remus with a nervous look in his eye.
He’s scared of me for the first time, Remus realized, But for her, not for himself. He’s worried that I’ll hurt her. Gods, what if I do hurt her?
Remus excused himself to go early to the Shrieking Shack so he could be alone.
Lily and Alessa sat in the waiting hall while Lacey said good bye to her brother.
Brian walked out and shook Lily’s hand and said,
“Take good care of her.” Then when he turned to look at Alessa, he smiled as one would at an old friend, “Would you mind if I spoke to you alone for a moment?” Alessa nodded at Lily, motioning for her to stay with Lacey.
Brian took her arm and led her off down the hall a ways and said,
“I never got to thank you properly for everything. For my sister, for me, for making sure that she’s safe…” Brian leaned down and kissed her cheek, then added, “I know that you have a boyfriend, so I will not ask improperly if I may write to you. But may I correspond with you on account of Lacey? She’s all that I have left now, and I want to make sure that she’s never in need of anything because she doesn’t want to burden me. She looks at you like a sister. I know you’ll look after her as well, but I still worry.”
“Of course, Brian. Call, floo, do whatever you wish. You’re Lacey’s brother, that makes you family by association.” Alessa smiled, then saw Brian blush and he added,
“And… if anything were to happen with that boyfriend of yours… you’d let me know?” Alessa felt as if she had been hit with an icy breeze,
“I’m… I’m sorry? I don’t quite understand…”
“Well, you know--- if something were to happen, I would want to know that you were alright, of course. And I would love to take you out to dinner sometime…”
“I’m sorry, Brian, if I ever gave you the wrong impression. But I am with Sirius.”
“Of course. I’m sorry for mentioning it…” they were interrupted by Sirius, who stood even taller than the man his senior.
Alessa noticed immediately the storm of anger in his eyes,
“I understand your grief and your loss, Peters. But it is still considered rude to ask out another man’s girlfriend.”
Brian blushed and said,
“I’m sorry, Sirius. That did come out improperly. I didn’t mean to offend anyone. Alessa, thank you again for everything, and I’ll write. Take care of my sister, and yourself.” Then Brian cast one last look at her and walked off, giving Sirius a wide berth.
“Bloody hell, does every man who meets you have to fall in love with you?” Sirius whined as he turned to walk out the door.
Alessa strung her arm through his and teased,
“I can’t help it that I’m intoxicating… irresistible… sending out a call like some sex crazed Siren…”
Sirius grabbed her face and kissed her harshly with that claiming kiss of his.
When he pulled away he held her face in his hands and said,
“I love you, Alessa.”
“I love you too, Sirius. And just so you keep things in perspective, you have more women chasing you than I have men… so you just calm down. If I can trust you around these hormone charged demons we call females then you can trust me around full grown men, I should think.”
Sirius kissed her again then added,
“Especially since once they anger you, they’ll be too terrified of you to be attracted to you.”
“Why thank you, my loving boyfriend.”
“Well, I’m not scared of you… that much. But then again, I’m a Black. We’re nursed with cursed milk and weaned on hexed formulas. Fighting for the forces of evil since I was in swaddling clothes. So I can handle you… I’m just saying, no other man would be able to.”
Smiling wickedly Alessa jabbed,
“You do have a younger brother…” then she shoved him and darted out of reach.
As James slammed the door on the werewolf, all three transformed back from their Animagi to human form.
“Merlin’s gilded balls! Was that just me or did Remus seem a bit more… wolfy than usual tonight?” Sirius asked as he leaned back against a wall and thumped to the floor.
Alessa bent over him and looked at the amount of blood loss he had. Pulling a bottle of dittany solution from the cabinet in the wall, she began patching him up as best she could.
“He did seem to have it out for you tonight, mate.” James added, noticing how, out of all of them, Alessa had the least amount of cuts on her.
But that was ridiculous, it was because she was a giant panther that she was less hurt than they were, and she still had a giant gash across her back where Remus had swiped her. There couldn’t be any of Remus in that creature. Werewolves had been known to tear their own babies to shreds. No, it was that she had a better Animagus for fending off Were attacks.
There was a banging on the door and an exhausted Remus Lupin called out,
“Would you lot like to let me out now? I’ve decided against eating any of you at this time and Alessa seems to have decided to use me as a cat scratch post, so I would appreciate some medical attention.”
They made their way up to the hospital wing, using the Marauder’s Map and James’ Invisibility Cloak to hide them from view.
Collapsing onto separate beds, Madam Pomfrey came out and started assessing each of their wounds and who should be taken care of first.
When she reached Alessa, she applied a new tincture she was trying out, then bandaged her back.
“This should eliminate any sign of scarring. The up side of war is the advances in medicine.” Poppy looked like she regretted saying that the moment the words came from her mouth.
“Anyhow, you two are fine enough and can go to your rooms. I’m going to keep Mister Lupin overnight.”
Alessa hugged Remus good night and then limped over to Sirius, who threw an arm around her, and James on the other side, they headed back towards the dorms.
“James, after classes tomorrow would you mind collecting Remus, Lacey, and Lily? Meet Sirius and me at the passageway to the Three Broomsticks and make sure you have things for an overnight trip and casual muggle clothes for Saturday. We’re still going out for Sirius’ birthday. We’re going to go and get drunk and try and forget about all of the misery around us, just enjoy each other.”
James smiled at her,
“That’s my girl. Go tell Lils to get packed for her and Lacey and I’ll have them there.”
“Sirius, will you wait here for me?” Alessa asked as she headed up the stairs. She didn’t hear him respond,
“I’ll always wait for you, Alessa.”
Alessa let Lily know that everyone was alright and saw that Lily had slipped Lacey a draught for dreamless sleep. Alessa told Lily of her plans to take them all to the Ministry on Saturday for their first apparition class, so that when everyone turned 18, they would already know how to apparated and wouldn’t have to waste time taking the test.
Coming back down the stairs, Alessa grabbed Sirius’ hand and led him up the lengthy course to the Astronomy tower and more importantly, to their room.
Alessa climbed out of her grimy clothes and showered, thinking to herself how showers were almost magical themselves. Pulling a robe on, she turned the shower over to Sirius, who kissed her and drew her close to him,
“Maybe one of these days you’ll share that shower with me?” he asked hopefully. She laughed and retorted,
“Oh, Mister Black, your charms do not work so easily on me.”
When Sirius came out, Alessa had piled pillows and blankets before the fire and was already almost asleep. Quietly, he climbed in behind her and drew her close to him. Turning to face him, she kissed him softly and said,
“Happy birthday, Sirius.” And she handed him a small box.
“Alessa, you didn’t have too…” She silenced him with a kiss then demanded,
“Now hurry up and open it. I’m exhausted from fending off werewolves.”
“Don’t exaggerate. There was only one.” Sirius joked, but opened the box. Inside was a beautiful pocket watch.
Opening it he saw it was inscribed,
“Amor Sempiternus AG&SB”
“Eternal love,” Sirius translated.
“No, Love Everlasting. And, once you learn to Apparate, which I have arranged for on Saturday, no matter where I am, this watch will lead you to my side.” Sirius kissed her passionately, thinking of how lucky he had gotten to get this amazing woman.
Their kiss heated up and soon he was having to pull away to keep from ripping her robe from her body,
“Thank you, Alessa. It is my most treasured object.” He held it in his hand as he pulled her against her and they fell asleep in one another’s arms.
Somewhere far away from Hogwarts, a green light flashed out and hit one of the masked figures.
“How is she screening herself from me?!? I have more Death Eaters here tonight, I should be able to break through her barriers…”
Alessa snuggled closer to Sirius, knowing that she was safe in the arms of the man who truly loved her.
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