Melora made a face at herself in the mirror as she fixed her blonde hair back with a clip.
"I look awful," she declared.
Behind her, her mother rolled her eyes. "You look lovely," Maryanne corrected her.
A slight cry bubbled up from Maryanne's arms and Melora rushed over to take her baby girl from her mother. "It's okay Emma," she said soothingly, "Mummy will be back soon."
"How are you ever going to have a full-time job if you can't leave her for one hour?" Maryanne sighed taking Emily back.
Melora frowned. "I'm just worried," she replied, "Healer Jacoby said she might be more susceptible to illness on account of being born early and she felt warm last night."
Maryanne smiled at her daughter fondly. "She's fine sweetie. You just focus on your interview."
At the mention of her dreaded interview, Melora returned to the mirror to check herself over again. Although she was thinner, she hadn't quite lost all her baby weight and her face was still quite round.
Still, she looked nice in her professional robes with her hair pulled neatly back and she took a deep breath, reminding herself no one at the Prophet was going to magically be able to tell she'd just had a baby.
You know, unless they were a legilimens.
"I'm meeting Sirius for lunch at the Leaky Cauldron after my interview," Melora told her mother, trying to shake her worries from her head, "So I'll be back around two."
"Hey! How'd the interview go?"
Melora beamed as Sirius gave her a peck on the cheek and settled across the table from her.
"Real well," she said, "I think I got it, but I'll find out for sure in a few days."
"That's brilliant," Sirius told her.
"What about you?" she asked, "Find any jobs that catch your fancy?"
A nervous look flicked over Sirius's face and he turned to the bar, signaling Tom, the barkeeper, for a butterbeer.
"Sort of," he admitted.
Melora frowned. "What d'you mean?"
"Ok," Sirius took a deep breath, "I wanted to tell you about this a while ago, but then we had NEWTs and the baby and you've been so busy, I didn't want to bother you…" He trailed off as Tom brought over their drinks, and then took a long gulp of his.
"Sirius? You're sort of freaking me out," Melora said lightly.
"What I'm about to tell you," Sirius said in a hushed tone, "You have to keep quiet, okay? No one's supposed to know."
Melora hesitated, but agreed and Sirius launched into an explanation of what had happened from receiving his letter from Dumbledore to going to the meeting in his office to attending Order meetings over the summer.
When he finished he looked at Melora expectantly. She leaned back and gazed around the bar, staring at the patrons, too stunned to reply.
"Mel?" Sirius reached out to put his hand on top of hers, but she yanked it away.
"You can't seriously be doing this," she said softly.
"I have to," Sirius replied.
"You're going to get yourself killed!" Melora hissed, meeting his eyes with a glare.
"No I'm not," Sirius protested.
Melora shook her head. "I can't do this right now," she said, "I can't- everything is good Sirius, everything is finally okay and I can't." She stood up abruptly, nearly knocking over her drink in the process. "Don't come over for a while okay?"
"What?" Sirius stood up as well.
"Just, I need a few days to think about this," Melora grabbed her cloak and shoved her arms through the sleeves hurriedly.
"You can't keep Emma from me because of this," Sirius said.
"I'm not!" Melora exclaimed, "I just- I just need time to think about this."
Sirius tried to protest again, but before he could get a word out, Melora apparated on the spot, leaving him talking to air.
"So did you get it?"
Melora beamed into the fireplace and flashed her newly printed employee badge at the flames. Beatrice's face grew bigger as she leaned into the fire to see it.
"Oh!" she squealed, "Brilliant!"
"Thanks," Melora tucked the card into her pocket, "So how goes things across the pond?"
"Good," Bea tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear, "I mean they're different here, but I like it." She paused for a moment, considering her words, "I have a date Friday."
"Really?" Melora clapped her hands together, "Was it the dishy healer from the maternity ward?"
"No he had a girlfriend," Bea's cheeks flushed, "It's a bloke I met here."
"An American?" It was Melora's turn to lean farther into the fire, "What's he like?"
"He's just a bloke!" Bea exclaimed.
Melora rolled her eyes, "Come on Bea, I've got a baby! I can't very well date."
"Especially considering the whole having a boyfriend thing," Bea pointed out. Melora ignored her and continued.
"I have to live vicariously through you, so tell me about this guy. Do you work together?"
Bea frowned, "Melora, did something happen between you and Sirius?"
Melora looked away. "I'd rather not talk about it Bea."
"Lora, what happened?"
Melora sighed. "We just had a… disagreement last week after my interview."
"He…" Melora groaned, "He and Remus and James and Lily and Peter they all joined some sort of, well he told me it's some sort of secret organization to fight You-Know-Who, I'm not supposed to talk about it."
"The Order of the Phoenix?" Bea asked in a hushed whisper.
Melora's eyes widened. "How'd you know?"
"Dorcas joined," Bea explained, "She told me about it before we graduated."
"It's just," Melora shook her head, "From what Sirius told me it sounds so dangerous. I'm afraid if he spends time with Emma, she'll be in danger too."
Bea bit her lip, "I don't know what to tell you Lora. But I don't think you can stop Sirius from seeing Emma. I'd just try to be as safe as possible. Maybe put some shield charms on your house?"
Melora nodded. "That's a good idea, Bee," she sighed again and then perked up, "So now tell me about this American bloke!"
Meanwhile, on the edge of a sleepy town in the middle of nowhere, there were three sharp cracks and a loud shout.
Suddenly, a young man appeared out of thin air. He ran a hand through his already messy hair nervously and adjusted his glasses.
"Sorry," James muttered to the air next to him, "We're clear."
Sirius and Lily appeared next to him, wands at the ready.
Since they'd first begun their active Order of the Phoenix duties, it had been fairly boring. Attending meetings, listening to plans they weren't part of, and practicing dueling with Alastor Moody, who had a habit of barking 'Constant Vigilance!' at them when they least expected it.
But several days ago, the teenagers had received their first official mission. Admittedly, it was only to scope out a few small towns that the Order believed one of would be the sight of a Death Eater attack in a few days. But it was exciting nonetheless.
Remus and Dorcas Meadows had been sent to one, Peter and Benjy Fenwick to another, and James, Lily and Sirius had been sent to the third.
"Looks to be about 23 houses," Lily said, counting the homes from their vantage point on top of the small hill overlooking the village they'd apparated on. She marked the number down on a scrap of parchment with a muggle pen.
As Lily continued to scribble down her observations, James and Sirius flopped down on the grass.
"How's Emma?" James asked quietly.
"Good," Sirius said, "Haven't seen her in a while though."
"Melora's still mad about the Order?"
Sirius shrugged, "She says she just needs time. She was less than pleased about the idea of me fighting."
James nodded and looked over at Lily. The redhead was consumed in her work, paying little attention to the boys.
"Listen I have to ask you a question," James said in a low voice.
James opened his mouth to ask his question, but he was cut off by Lily's sharp gasp.
"What?" Both boys jumped to their feet.
Lily pointed wordlessly at the village where the three could see several hooded figures apparating in.
James let out a stream of swears. "They're not supposed to attack for three days."
"We have to do something," Sirius said
"We should call for back-up," Lily replied, "They outnumber us two to one. Expecto Patronum." She waved her wand and a silver doe emerged. "South Hollow's being attacked. Send reinforcements immediately," she told the doe. It nodded and took off leaving a silver mist in its path.
There was a loud scream in the town below and the boys exchanged a glance. "We can't just wait," James said, pulling his wand out.
Sirius nodded. Lily looked slightly hesitant, but she too pulled out her wand. This was, after all what they had signed up for. They looked at one another once more, as if waiting for one of the others to point out how insane what they were about to do was.
Then, they disappeared with a crack.
The message came just before she left for work.
Melora was just about to grab some floo powder when the fire lit green and a woman's face appeared.
"Melora Jones?" The woman said in a dull tone.
"Yes?" Melora knelt down in front of the fire.
"We have a patient here named Sirius Black and you're listed as his emergency contact?"
"What?" Melora shrieked. The witch in the fireplace just shrugged and Melora jumped up and scrambled to find a piece of parchment. She scribbled a quick note to her boss explaining she had a family emergency and sent it off with the family owl. When she returned to the fire, the face was gone and Melora grabbed a handful of floo and stepped into the flames.
"St. Mungo's!" she yelled.
Melora stumbled into the waiting room and ran up to the window.
"Sirius Black?" she asked, panting.
"Spell Damage," the Welcome Witch said in a bored tone. She went on to give directions, but Melora was already gone through the doors.
Sirius was waiting in the hallway, slumped down in a seat. But when he saw Melora dashing towards him, he popped up. His face was cut up, he had a black eye, and he winced as he stood, but he was okay.
"What are you doing here?" he asked. Melora ignored his question and threw herself into his arms.
"Ow," he moaned, "Broken ribs Melora, broken ribs."
"You idiot," she said into his shirt, "You bloody idiot."
"How'd you know I was here?" he asked as she released him.
"You listed me as your emergency contact," Melora replied.
"Oh yeah," Sirius rubbed his neck, "I'd forgotten about that."
"Is that James?" Melora asked nervously, peering into the room Sirius had been waiting outside of.
"He's okay," Sirius sighed, "Caught the nasty end of a slashing jinx and hit the side of a wall at the same time, but the healer says he'll be alright in a few days."
"You know this only makes me worry more, right?" Melora said softly.
"Melora," Sirius rubbed the bridge of his nose, "You don't understand. I'm doing this for you, for Emma. I'm doing this to make a better world for her, a safer world."
"But would it really be a better world if you weren't in it?"
Sirius was taken aback by her point, but before he could formulate an answer, Melora grabbed his hand and pulled him into James' room with her.
James was lying in bed, Lily standing over him. Lily, like Sirius, was cut up and bruised, but other than that looked fine. James on the other hand had bandages wrapped around his head and chest. There were several burns peeking out of the bandages on his shoulders and he had two black eyes and a swollen lip.
"How're you doing?" Melora asked.
James grinned weakly. "Fine. It was way scarier when you just threatened to hex me Melora."
Melora rolled her eyes, but smiled as well. "The bad news is the impact to his head doesn't seem to have fixed anything Lily."
The redhead chuckled, "We'll just have to keep trying."
The two girls exchanged idle chit-chat about Melora's new job and Emily for a few minutes. It felt odd to be talking about such normal things while James was lying in a hospital bed between them, but Melora didn't know what else to do.
Finally, they ran out of things to talk about. Melora considered excusing herself, but she didn't want to leave Sirius's side and she knew it would be fruitless to try and get him away from James.
Lily's stomach growled loudly and she looked down at it embarrassed. "I haven't eaten anything since before the mission," she admitted.
Melora chuckled, "Do you want to go down to the cafeteria and find something to eat?"
Lily nodded, but before she could turn to leave, James grabbed her hand.
"Lily wait," James looked up at his girlfriend, "I was going to wait a little longer to ask you this, but after everything we just went through. I don't think I can wait another day."
Lily cocked her head, "What is it?"
"I love you Lily Evans. I've loved you since our fourth year and from the moment you finally reciprocated my feelings," Lily's eyes widened as she realized what James was about to do, "I wanted to make sure I got to spend the rest of my life showing you just how much I love you. Because without you Lily Evans, I'm nothing."
"Oh James," tears welled up in Lily's eyes.
"So Lily," James grinned widely, "Will you marry me?"
"Oh my god, yes!" Lily threw herself on top of James who let out a surprised cry of pain followed by laughter.
"Of course," Lily leaned in to give him a long kiss.
"I have a ring," James said when they broke apart, "It's at the flat, I have it I swear."
Lily laughed, "I don't care about a ring you idiot."
Sirius snaked him arm around Melora's shoulders as they watched the newly engaged couple celebrate. But she shrugged him off. He pouted and she gave him a light kiss on the lips. "I'm going to let my mum know where I am," she explained, "I'll be right back." She paused and then smiled shyly, "Do you want to come over for dinner tonight? I know Emma misses you."
Sirius beamed, "I'd love to."
"Congrats you two," Melora told Lily and James who nodded in thanks.
When the blonde was gone, Lily and James turned to Sirius curiously.
"Did you tell her what happened?" James asked.
Sirius shook his head. "I couldn't," he said weakly.
Lily and James both gave him disapproving looks and Sirius looked away uncomfortable.
"It's not an easy thing to bring up," he protested, "Hey Melora by the way, we were attacked by Voldemort himself, but don't worry after we refused to join him and he tried to kill us, the rest of the Order showed up and scared him off?"
"It's better than saying nothing," Lily pointed out.
Sirius shook his head. "I wouldn't be too sure."
A/N- Sorry for taking so long with the update, but look at how long the chapter is! And how much stuff happened!