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Chapter 5 : Chapter 5: February-May 1982: The Measure of a Heart
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February 27, 1982
Anwen slumped down into the overstuffed chair in the lounge and sighed. Both the boys were finally down for their naps, and she was done with the housework. Her parents would be here in a few hours; they were taking the train from Cardiff to London and would be staying for the week. The guys had gone again, on what they hoped would be their final sojourn to locate Eva and her mum. The plan had been to have the women and children stay together, this time at Longbottom ancestral home, Evergreen Estate. Alice was seven months pregnant with their second child, and her friends knew how difficult Flooing had become for her. Apparating was worse. Their plan would have worked, until Neville came down with the Dragon Pox.
While it would have been good to have both Harry and her boys exposed to the disease, since neither Lily nor Anwen experienced the sickness as children, their getting ill now could be quite dangerous. Harry’s bout of the twenty-four hour stomach illness convinced Anwen to stay at home, and let her parents come to help her instead. Of course her Ma and Da had been excited about coming to see their boys; they often claimed ‘they never saw them’. The Blacks joined the Hodgsons for supper every Saturday night and often went to worship with them the following morning. Anwen’s three youngest siblings: Wyn, Haf and Eira, would be spending the days with their Auntie Eleri and their cousins in Cardiff.
The Black’s little London house was now clean, and momentarily picked up. Anwen was certain it wouldn’t last. Her boys were similar to a cyclone when they hit the ground floor of the home. Thankfully it was warming up nicely this afternoon, and Anwen was more than willing to bundle them up and let them congest her garden rather than the sitting room.
Sirius had charmed the attic of the small house, magically stretching it to accommodate a larger bed as well as an attached loo, just so Anwen’s parents could visit. Since the death of Walburga last fall, they had owned Grimmauld Place, but they hadn’t moved in yet. While neither were exactly happy with everything the house reminded them of, they were outgrowing their small house. It was fine when Sirius, Remus and she were in school. Now, as the boys were growing, they were quickly struggling to be comfortable within the confines of the home. She knew the move was inevitable, and probably sooner than she’d like.
Anwen lifted her hand and wigged her fingers and her tea cup came floating out from the kitchen counter where she’d left it. The warm liquid slid down her throat and helped to relax her. Glancing up at the wall clock, she knew she had at least forty-five minutes until Draco might awaken. His nap time was shortening as he neared his second birthday, but it hadn’t settled into a regular length. Regardless, it was plenty of time for her to close her eyes and possibly catch a rest.
Taking one last sip of her tea, she set the cup down on the small table next to her chair and let her eyelids dip down. Her breathing slowed and her muscles became heavy. Just as she was about to give in to sleep, there was a knock at the back door. Groaning, she opened her eyes and slid into a more sitting position so she could push herself off the arms of the chair and stand.
If it had been the front door, she would have ignored it. Only Muggles came to the front door, and there were few whom she wanted to speak with. Anwen had charmed the window to show an empty room, regardless of what was going on inside. Having Muggles catching her young sons levitating things or animating their toys would be hard to explain. Magical folks came to the back door, since they would have Apparated into their garden, surrounded by it’s eight foot high dogwood hedgerows. Anwen knew it wasn’t Lily, Molly, Alice or Minerva. They would have just let themselves in. She walked through the dining room and into the kitchen, and then to the mud room and the rear door, she thought about who it might be. She silently hoped whomever it was would be quick. She did want to nap. It was her right as a Mum.
The person standing on her small back decking surprised her as she opened the heavy, windowless door.
“Fancy your being here, the day after my husband left the country,” she said somewhat coldly.
“I would like to speak with you, if you would permit me?”
Anwen rolled her eyes and sighed again. “Fine, but if you make me upset, you will be leaving. Sirius would not be pleased with your being here without him.” She stepped aside and let the wizard enter. “Would you like some tea?”
“That would be lovely,” he answered. “Two sugars --”
“One lemon, I remember,” she added. “Time was when we shared tea twice a week.”
“I miss our conversations,” he confessed. Anwen curled her toes inside of her house shoes, attempting to control her aggravation. She wanted to be mature about this. Without replying, she prepared his cup and lead him to their sitting room. The man stopped to look at the pictures of her children on the walls. He also studied the picture of Anwen and Sirius at their wedding.
“It was a beautiful ceremony, both of them were,” he stated. “You made a stunning bride.” Anwen smiled, unable to ignore his formidable charm.
“Thank you,” she quietly answered. “Come, sit down. Draco is likely to be awake in a half an hour or not long after.”
“Motherhood agrees with you,” he said as he sat on the sofa, across from Anwen in her favorite chair. “I have not seen you this genuinely happy in a very long time.” She smiled again and shook her head, hating how effortlessly she fell under his spell.
“Professor, what do you want?” She pensively enquired. She hadn’t spoken with Albus Dumbledore in months, and even then it was only a short, polite, meaningless conversation at the Ministry Christmas party.
“Anwen,” he looked down. “I came to inquire if perhaps we could bury this animosity between us. You are very important to me. I could not have cared for you more if you had been my own daughter.”
“I have a father,” Anwen stated.
“I know you do, and I am ever so pleased you have reconciled with them. However my dear girl, I miss you.” Anwen studied the old man’s face and then ran her hands through her hair, a trait she’d picked up from her husband. Knowing Sirius as well as he did, Albus immediately recognized the action. The young witch studied his face, tempted to probe his mind to find the true reason for his being here. She chose not to, feeding the glimmer of hope inside her which believed he was here for the reason stated.
“You must understand why we haven’t been social these last few years?” She asked. “The fact that you chose to come see me when you knew Sirius was out of the country makes me suspicious as well. He won’t be happy when he learns you’ve been here.”
“I just wanted to speak with you. Mr. Black is very protective of you. Perhaps a bit too --”
“Professor, my husband is protective of me because despite my age, many horrible things have happened to me. He loves me, and I know in his heart he only wants what’s the best for me,” she explained.
“I understand,” Albus acquiesced. “But does he honestly believe I would harm you?” Anwen thought about how to answer him carefully.
“I don’t believe he thinks you would personally harm me, but I believe he’s fearful you would allow me to be in a situation where I could be harmed by others, Professor.”
“Please, call me Albus,” he begged and she nodded nearly imperceptibly. Anwen looked down and exhaled very slowly.
“Albus,” she relented, “the last year and a half have been difficult for us. I haven’t been social with anyone outside our families.”
“Surely you’ve spent time with the Potters -”
“James and Sirius are like brothers, he’s my cousin, we are family.”
“I did not mean to imply ... I am uncertain what to say to you. It’s quite an awkward position I find myself in,” he confessed.
“Let’s skip the small talk then,” Anwen suggested. “How about if we start with your reason for visiting. I’m certain this isn’t entirely social.”
“Perceptive as always,” he complimented her. “My visit here is two-fold. First, I truly did want to put the strain between us behind us. Do you remain angry with me?”
Anwen gripped the arms of her chair and took a cleansing breath as she ordered her thoughts. “Anger implies an active emotion, sir. I’m not angry any longer, more apathetic.” Dumbledore looked crestfallen at her statement. His eyes prodded her forward. She whetted her lips, buying her a little time to consider her words carefully.
“I recognize I am a uniquely skilled witch from a long history of them. Given what was going on in our world at the time we met, I can appreciate your desire to keep someone like me close. However, at some point, you moved from concern for my well being to wondering what I and my skills could for the fight. When that happened, you let me continue to believe you cared about me as your ward -”
“I did child, I still do,” he interrupted.
“That may be, but you also put me into situations I wasn’t prepared for nor was truly mature enough to handle. You kept vital information from me and from my family. Then, when I could have used you most, you weren’t present. Now, I just don’t care. I have survived trial after trial in the last two years, and have changed as a person because of it. While you had been so very dear to me when I was a girl, I’m not one anymore. I am a woman, a mother and caretaker, a wife and lover, and an aunt and friend to my children’s friends. I’m just like every other student you’ve taught over the years; I’ve outgrown my schooling and became an adult.”
“You were never like other students, Anwen,” he quietly replied, not denying what she’d said about her maturity. He couldn’t dispute that she’d become an adult he was proud of. “I suppose I should be happy there is no further animosity between us.” Anwen gently smiled and nodded as he said this.
“You said there were two reasons for your coming today,” she prompted. “What was the second?”
“Have you given an consideration to continuing your schooling?” He asked, she burst out laughing.
“The only books I read now are Tales of Beetle the Bard and Goodnight Moon. Sir, I’m happy if I get a shower everyday and have the chance to sit down for five minutes every hour or so. Education has been the last thing on my mind.” Anwen wouldn’t admit she’d been missing the thrill of learning, but this wasn’t the time in her life to be starting lessons.
“I was hoping to persuade you to consider continuing your studies, in the area of the law,” he explained. “While the threat from Voldemort is gone, there are still many who desire to use blood status as a way to organize our society.” The young mother looked at him incredulously.
“What exactly would I be able to do?” she asked. “For all intents and purposes, I’m Muggle born. Neither of my parents are magical, and my grandmother left the country forty years ago. Why would I make a difference?”
“So you’d consider studying the law?” He asked, hopeful in a way she hadn’t expected.
“No,” Anwen replied quickly. “I was simply gauging your true motivations. I am a wife and mother, and blessedly, my husband is exceptionally well off. I don’t need to work, at least not while my children are this small. We’re hoping to expand our family someday, and I intend to give any future child my undivided attention, just as I’ve given it to Draco and Bastien. Perhaps one day, when they’re old enough, I will consider an advanced degree, but it will not be happening for many, many years. I’m sorry this isn’t what you wanted to hear.” The Headmaster looked down and away, not wanting the disappointment from his face. Thankfully he was spared any further discussion of the matter by the sound of small feet coming down the stairs. Draco had awoken from his nap and was drowsily making his way to his mother’s lap. The little boy didn’t even realize there was anyone else in the room for a few moments. It was Anwen softly brushing aside his fringe which caused him to notice the elderly man.
“Who you?” Draco asked.
“My name is Albus,” he answered in his most gentle tone. “Who are you, my fine man?” Draco smiled at being called a man. His daddy was a man, and he wanted to be just like his daddy.
“I Draco Black,” he said plainly and the old man quirked an eyebrow at Anwen, questioning the change in his last name.
“Draco is insistent regarding his name and we are working on adopting him,” she answered.
“You friends with Mummy?”
“I’ve known Albus for many, many years,” his mother explained. “Albus taught me when I was at school with Daddy.”
“You know my Daddy?” The little boy asked, his eyes wide as saucers. Albus nodded enthusiastically. “My Daddy is the bestest Daddy in the whowe word. Even better than Unca James. Hawwy say I wrong.” Anwen and Albus both smiled at his comment.
“Your Daddy is a very good man. I expect you will be just like him someday,” Albus kindly told the boy.
“I gonna meet a pwetty girw wike Mummy too. She bootiful,” he announced, elongating the vowels at the beginning of beautiful so make the word sound longer.
“Yes, boy, she is.” Anwen blushed and couldn’t help the smile which crept across her cheeks.
Anwen excused herself and her son so that she could check his nappy after his rest and to see if Bastien had awoken yet. Not long after, the toddler bounded back into the sitting room and dragged the wizard onto the floor to play dragons with him. Anwen busied herself in the dining room, setting the table for supper, but keeping a close eye n the pair. She added a place for Albus, even though she’d hadn’t asked him yet. He was having too much fun with Draco for her to realistically ask him to leave.
Bastien awoke and he too joined the merriment on the floor, although Anwen spent her time following her now actively running son, attempting to keep him out of trouble. She’d put a tablecloth onto the dining table, something she had come to regret, since Bas wanted to pull himself up on it. Her parents arrive, and while her Da gave his daughter a look at the Headmaster being in her home, neither said anything. Albus even helped her with the dishes as her Ma bathed the boys and her Da read the paper. She sent him home with some biscuits she’d made for their meal.
“Thank you for today,” he told her as he stood on the threshold of her back door. “I have not had a more pleasurable afternoon and evening in my recent memory. Your children are delightful.”
“Thank you and you’re welcome. When Sirius comes home I’ll speak with him. He’s liable not to be as forgiving, but he will come around. His only concern is whether I’m happy or not.”
“As it always has been,” Dumbledore reminded her. He leaned in and kissed her cheek. “You have made me ever so proud my dear girl, never think that you have not. Will you call and tell me when I may visit your boys again? It would be a privilege to spend another afternoon with them.” Anwen’s eyes flooded with tears, and she felt like she was twelve again, her feet unable to come close to the floor as she sat and drank tea with this man while he enquired about her life. She couldn’t speak, so she simply nodded. Dumbledore closed the storm door and Disapparated halfway to the garage. Anwen closed her back door, locked it for the night and turned off the light which hung over it. She was happy she’d gotten up to answer it’s intrusion this afternoon.
Eight days later, everyone was gathered at Potter Manor to await the return of the men, and the greatly anticipated arrival of Eva and her mother, Mel. They were living in the costal city of São Luis, running a small shop, selling shell trinkets to Muggle tourists. They were both shocked when the four Brits arrived at their shop, lead by Eva’s lost love. They were worried about being found, until it was explained the war was over, and Voldemort had been disposed of. They were now no longer in peril, and the pair were willing to return to England and resume the lives they had abandoned. The men remained to help sell the shop, close out their accounts and pack up the few belongings which would be needed back in the U.K. James used his contacts through the British Ministry of Magic to expedite the return of the Ettinger women.
With the boys all healthy again, the three young mothers had set to arranging a lavish welcome home party for their missing friend and her Mum. Currently they were in the kitchen, finishing up preparations before the guests would arrive. Alice was carrying her pregnancy entirely in front of her, making being on her feet difficult for her. Her petite frame looked like it might burst already, even though she had nearly three months left until her due date. It reminded them all of when she’d been pregnant with Neville.
“All I have to say is if this is another nine pounder, we’re done,” Alice quipped as she sat at the kitchen table, her feet propped up in another chair, her wand hulling strawberries which she then was arranging on a tray with warm chocolate sauce and cold whipped cream, charmed to remain as such.
“How is it that you’re so tiny, and you keep having these huge babies? I’ve got at least six inches in height on you, and Harry weighed just over seven pounds,” Lily rhetorically asked and Alice simply shrugged. Anwen had been exceptionally quiet during the discussion, instead finishing up the marzipan flowers she’d made for the cake. Neither Lily nor Alice wanted to broach the subject with Anwen, not knowing what the final verdict had been from her healers. The accident which had left her right leg damaged might have also left her unable to have children.
A thunderous cavalcade of small footsteps alerted the women to the arrival of the “Fabulous Five”, as their parents had named them. Harry, Ron, Neville, Draco and Bastien were already thick as thieves and were able to leave a wake of chaos behind them. The arrival of the quintet wasn’t good news for the inhabitants of the kitchen or the food being prepared there.
“Eh, eh, walking feet, gentlemen,” Anwen reprimanded, seeing as she was the first to see their approach. “Ron, is your mum here as well?”
“No,” the red head answered. “Ginny pooped when we’s getting to the Floo.” Anwen scrunched up her face a little. She swore that children had an internal indicator which went off when you’d gotten them completely dressed, or bundled for the snow or even just into a new nappy. It seemed that was their opportunity to make a mess. She felt for Molly. The others were laughing as well, all having been there.
“Well, she should be along soon,” Anwen sighed before going back to her cake.
“We’s hungry,” Harry complained to his mum. “We have a snack?” He was reaching for the tray of mini pasties on counter just as Lily reached him.
“No, you may not,” she told him, pulling his hand away from the tray. “Uncle Remus and Auntie Eva will be here soon, and then we can all eat.” Harry looked at her somewhat defiantly before looking away. “Why don’t all of you go play in Harry’s room?”
“‘Kay,” Harry responded and led the group out, again running out of the kitchen, into the marble hallway and up the stairs.
“If they make that much noise as toddlers, what are they going to sound like as teens?” Alice asked. Laughter rang and reverberated among the hanging pots as the trio tried to imagine the little gang as teens.
“Oh, Merlin,” Lily complained. “I don’t know if this house will be able to take it.”
A clamoring through the Floo alerted either the arrival of the Weasley family, or the ladies and their escort entering from their check-in at the Ministry. James’s booming laughter and his impatient calling of his wife told the witches whom it was.
All three young women rushed from the kitchen into the marble hallway, happy to see their husbands and surprised their friend, her mother and Remus weren’t with them.
“Eva and Mel wanted to change their clothes and freshen up,” Frank explained as he moved closer to Alice. “They’ll be here in a moment or two.”
The women went to their husbands, each greeting in their own private way. Frank wrapped an arm over Alice’s shoulder, his other hand going to her expanded mid-section as he leaned down to kiss her. James lifted Lily into a strong hug before gently kissing her. Sirius picked Anwen up, cradled her in his arms and let his forehead rest against hers before passionately kissing her.
“Stop it you two,” James picked on his best mate, “you’re not newlyweds anymore.”
“We’re the closest,” Sirius muttered back. “For now.”
“What do you mean by that?” Anwen asked, her face showing both her excitement and puzzlement.
“You’ll see,” he cryptically replied.
The reunion with their wives was short-lived, as the boys must have heard their fathers return from upstairs in Harry’s room. Neville lead the pack, taller than Harry, his long legs allowed him to quickly descend the stairs.
“Daddy,” he cried just before running to where his parents were together in the hallway. Frank lifted his little boy and hugged him.
“I hear you were sick while I was gone,” Frank stated. “Are you feeling better now?”
“All better, Daddy. Grammy says I good. Swallow icky stuff,” he complained as he wrinkled up his little nose in memory of the potion. Frank looked to Alice, surprised his mother had been called to assist his wife while away.
“Your Mum insisted,” Alice answered his unasked question. “She brought over the bottle of Icklebad’s and insisted he take it twice a day, although I don’t think it has any effect on Dragon Pox. I was thankful for her help, since I can’t see my feet already, and I have nowhere to put Neville when I pick him up.”
“I’m sorry you had to deal with all that alone,” Frank apologized to his wife, gratefully holding is family in his arms again.
The next down the stairs was Harry. Thrilled his father was home again, along with his godfather and favorite uncles, he quickly smiled up at Sirius before going to the now kneeling daddy. James wrapped his son in his arms, holding him close to his chest, sneaking a sniff of the young boys head. There was something very comforting to him about the odor of Harry’s soap and shampoo. These smells, along with Lily’s light perfume and the scent of oil of bergamot were the things which most reminded James Potter of home.
“I's sick while you gone, Daddy,” Harry told James.
“I know, your Mummy told me your tummy was upset. Is it all better now?”
“It is,” Harry explained. “Mummy say I eat a horse.” James looked at his son, confused, and then looked to his wife for clarification.
“I said that Harry is eating like a horse,” Lily explained. “Now that he's feeling better, I can't seem to feed him enough.”
“Ah, well, that makes much more sense,” James answered as he hugged his little family. “And given that you're a Potter, I think it's safer to say you eat like a stag.” Harry didn't get the joke, but Lily did. James earned a playful swat for his silliness.
The last of the boys to arrive were Draco, Ron and Bastien. The first two were helping the last bump down the stairs on his bottom, since he wasn't allowed to walk down the stairs yet. Ron wasn't in a rush, his father hadn't been away. Instead, he was happy to help the youngest of their group down to the entryway. Sirius couldn't wait to see his boys, so he gently put his wife down and took three large steps to where the trio made it to the bottom of the stairs.
“Draco, Bas, I have missed you so much,” he reverently told them as he lifted them into his arms and standing. Both boys laid their heads down on their fathers shoulder and peace filled the mans heart. Two years ago if you'd told him he'd be married and a father by now, he wouldn't have believed it. Now, he couldn't imagine not being so.
“Ron, thank you for being a good friend,” Sirius complimented the red-headed boy.
“Bas is still little,” the nearly two year old commented. “I like to help.”
“You must make a very good big brother,” Anwen commented as she came closer to her little family. Ron scrunched up his face and shook it wildly.
“Not to Ginny,” he corrected. “All she do is scream and poop.”
“Ah, well she's still very little. Fairly soon she'll be more interesting, I promise,” Anwen told him.
“I hope so,” he responded. “Fred and George pick on me because I'm smaller. At least I'll be bigger than Ginny.”
“Speaking of your brothers and Ginny, where are they?” Sirius asked.
“Mum got us all ready, and then Ginny pooped. I didn't want ta wait, so I came over,” he explained. Anwen immediately crouched down to look at the small boy.
“You Flooed over all on your own?” She asked and Ron nodded. “Did anyone know you were coming over by yourself?”
“George said he'd tell Mummy,” Ron explained as he continued to nod.
“I think I'll pop over to the Burrow and tell your Mum you've already arrived,” she replied with a concerned look on her face. “Perhaps we'll need to figure out a way to secure the Floo's a little better?” She suggested to her husband, who was already nodding. Grabbing a handful of Floo powder, Anwen called out her destination and walked through the flames, disappearing from sight. Bastien wasn't happy to see his Mummy disappear, and immediately began to wail.
“Mummy, Mummy, back Mummy,” the toddler wailed.
“Bas, sport, Mummy will be right back,” Sirius tried to console his son. “She just went to see Aunt Molly for a minute. She'll be back, I promise.”
“It okay, Bas,” Draco comforted his brother. “I's still here.” The older Black son was patting his brother on the back, and Sirius couldn't contain the smile which bubbled up from within him. The two were brothers, regardless of their actual biological relationship. Bas began to calm down, his small, chubby hand winding itself into his father's hair and gently holding on and rubbing it between his fingers. It was something the boy had started doing as a baby, and it always made the man sigh with contentment at the tiny act of comforting the child took with him.
As Bas settled down the congregation moved from the hallway into the sitting room. Neville, Ron and Harry went over to the small table and chairs Lily had put in the space so the boys could color. Draco chose to stay with his brother and Dad. Sirius sat down on the sofa, each boy settling into their side of his lap.
“Daddy, I got sec’et,” Draco announced.
“Really, and what would that be?” Sirius asked, wondering what the child could consider a secret.
“I saw somebody ‘pecial when yous away.”
Sirius was sure his son would tell him how his Grammy Rose and Papa Cal had come to visit. Anwen had told him she'd called her parents in Wales and asked for their help. “Who did you see?”
“I met Mr. Awbus.” Sirius thought he knew what his son said, but he couldn't possibly imagine that it was correct.
“What did you say, Draco?”
“I met Mr. Awbus,” Draco repeated. “He tood stories of you and Mummy. He ate dinner wit us.” Anwen had neglected to tell him that Albus Dumbledore had come to visit while he was away. He suspected it was due to the emotions he was currently feeling. He didn't trust the headmaster, especially not with his wife.
“Thank you for telling me, Draco. Why don't you go play with your friends?” Sirius suggested, and the boy slid from his father's lap.
“Bas, you come?” the older boy inquired of the younger, but he declined, shaking his little head even as he held onto his father's hair. Draco ran off and Sirius looked to Lily.
“Did you know?”
Lily nodded. “He showed up, unannounced. Talk with Anwen, Sirius. She isn't helpless.”
“I know that,” Sirius clipped back. “It's him I don't trust.” Before the conversation could go any farther, the noise of the Floo fireplace announced the arrival of the Weasley family. Anwen was holding little Ginny, looking fresh and clean in her little green dress. She limped over to where her husband and son were sitting, Bas interested in the smaller person his Mummy was holding.
“She's all clean now,” Anwen cooed at Ginny as she sat down. One look into her husband's face let her know something was wrong. “What?”
“Draco said you had a visitor.”
“I see,” she responded. “And you've got your pants in a twist over it?”
“Anwen,” he seethed, “I don't trust him with you.”
“I know you don't, and I called him out on his arriving to call while you were away. But, Sirius, it was a pleasant visit.”
“What did he want?”
“He missed me, that's all. He had no other motive,” she explained. “We will discuss this more at home, but put your mind at ease: my parents were there, and my Da is even more protective of me than you are.”
Sirius grunted. “That's for sure. I don't think your Da completely trusts me with you.”
“My Daddy loves you,” she promised as she leaned in to kiss her husbands cheek. “He's just gruff.” Since Anwen was close, Bas launched himself at his mother's face, kissing her. Thankfully Sirius was still holding onto the boy, or he'd have fallen into Anwen's lap and on top of Ginny. “Oh, Bas, sweetie, Mummy can't hold you right now. I've got baby Ginny right now.”
“No baby,” Bas responded.
“Yes, Bas, Mummy is holding the baby. Daddy has Bas right now.” The little boy stuck his bottom lip out so far you could have sat on it. Luckily, his parents were immune to his pouty face.
“Guess I shouldn't give him a little brother or sister anytime soon, huh?” Anwen joked. Sirius looked at her surprised.
“Is that even a possibility?” A gentle smile curled at Anwen's lips and she quietly nodded.
“The Healer thinks so,” she told him quietly. “We're just going to have to see. It might take a while.” Sirius grinned in the way his wife had always described as his “dangerous” way before leaning down to whisper in her ear.
“Damn, we'll need to work hard and long on that project.” Anwen blushed at his insinuation, and was thankfully spared from further embarrassment by the arrival of Remus, Eva and Mel.
Late spring brought life to the gardens at Potter Manor. A large marquee had been erected on the back lawn, and people were beginning to gather. Remus had proposed to Eva even before they'd left Brazil, willing to marry her before they returned to England. She'd chosen to wait, wanting their friends to be with them. James and Lily had offered their home as a location for the wedding, and the pair readily accepted.
There wouldn't be a large crowd to witness the nuptials, neither had any extended family and they shared the same circle of friends. Most of the members of the Order of the Phoenix would be in attendance, as well as a few they knew from their school years. Beyond that, their closest friends would be standing with them.
Upstairs, in the master bedroom, James and Sirius were having a hard time keeping Remus calm. They were used to him pacing when he was in his wolf form, to see him this unhinged when human was rare.
“Moony, man, relax,” Sirius tried to calm him. “Honestly, it's not hard at all to do the wedding. The marriage part, that's what you've got to watch out for.” This earned him a gentle knock to his head from James. “What?”
“Padfoot, the only reason your marriage is difficult is your ability to step in your own shite. Anwen is more than patient with you,” James rebuked.
“Yeah, well...what about the toilet seat thing.” This time Remus swatted him in the head.
“You charm it to go back down,” the werewolf remarked, annoyed they were going over this again. “Who got the O in Charms again?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Sirius grumbled. “Honestly though, what are you worried about?”
Remus walked over and sat down on the bed. “What if I'm not good enough for her? What if she wants children someday? What if she wakes up and decides I'm too much work?” Sirius sat down next to him and put a hand on his shoulder.
“Believe it or not, I had the same worries right before I married Anwen,” he explained and his friend looked at him incredulously. “It's the truth! Anwen did not need to put up with my nasty arse, but she chose to. I never understood why. I still don't know why, but I am lucky she does. Eva loves you, sense or not. Trust she knows her own heart, just like you know yours.”
“That was really insightful, Sirius,” Remus replied, a little surprised.
“Yeah, well, your a depressing mess without Eva,” he rebutted, “so go out there and marry the girl, because she's the one who makes you happy.”
“He's right you know,” James added. “The two of you make each other happy. The rest of it doesn't matter. Don't worry about those other things.”
“Hey, think of it this way. Anwen and I have a family. Even though those boys aren't a bit hers by birth, I wouldn't ever suggest she wasn't their Mum. There's lots of ways to have kids.”
“Damn it, when did you get so mature?”
“You know, I'm more than just a pretty face who likes to chase his tail,” Sirius remarked back.
“Of course you are, Padfoot,” the bridegroom backpedaled. “I don't know what I was thinking.”
“Thank you,” he responded. “Now, are you prepared for the honeymoon? I can give you some pointers if you need?” Remus shook his head.
“I'm glad to know you haven't completely changed.”
Across the hall, in the bedroom Anwen and Sirius used, the bride was getting dressed with her mother. While Mel wasn’t sure about her soon to be son-in-law, she knew her daughter loved him, and for that she was willing to set her concerns aside. Mel had married for love, effectively allowing herself to be shunned by the Siren community; Eva wouldn’t suffer the same fate; her friends already accepted Remus for who he was. The greater wizarding world was even moving to more equality for those infected with lycanthropy. Mel was willing to accept that life might just be okay for her daughter and her new husband.
“You look lovely,” she commented as her daughter turned around. The simple organza sheath dress hugged her daughters curves and made her look etherial. On the curls of her head rested the shell crown Mel herself had worn for her wedding.
“Thank you, Mum,” Eva said as they hugged.
“Are you all ready?”
“I am. I keep thinking I should be nervous, but I’m not. I’m more worried about how Anwen and Lily are doing with the boys.”
“I’m sure they’re fine,” Mel remarked. “The boys all think they’re carrying the real rings, don’t they?”
“Yes,” Eva replied. “Thankfully they have no concept of numbers. There are only two of us, and there will be three rings going down the aisle.” The women laughed. “How could we pick between them? They’re all so important to Remus...and to me. I can’t believe how much I’ve missed.”
“I’m sorry sweetheart,” Mel apologized again.
“Mum, we had to leave. I don’t regret taking you somewhere to be safe. I’ll catch up on their lives, and be involved now. My life is perfect, please don’t feel badly for doing what we did.”
“You my dear girl are a blessing,” Mel said before there was a knock at the door. She walked over and called through it while still closed. “Who is it.”
“It’s Lily,” the witch replied. “We’re ready for you to come out. Anwen and the guys have the boys downstairs.” Mel opened the door and Lily entered, wearing a pale green floral dress in a similar shape to Eva’s. Her hair was pulled back and a spray of flowers held it in place. Lily and Anwen were standing up as Eva’s attendants, just as their husbands were Remus’s.
“Is she going to be alright alone with all three of them?” Eva inquired. Anwen wasn’t always steady on her feet.
“Our Mum’s are down there to help,” Lily explained. “You ready?”
“Absolutely,” Eva replied, not even one doubt in her mind. She’d loved Remus for years now, regardless of what he was. She only knew a man who was kind and gentle and who cherished her above anything else in this world. Whatever would come to them in the future, they would face it together.
The trio of women went down the stairs together, and met Anwen, Rose, Rhosyn and the boys in the kitchen. With both their mother’s there, the grandmothers went out through the kitchen door to the ballroom, using the floor to ceiling door which lead to the patio and then the marquee beyond. This was the cue for the music to begin, so the processional could take place.
When the gentle guitar music began, Anwen and Lily guided their boys to the start of the flower lined path, and urged them forward. Dressed in identical little white pants, pale green shirts and dark green ties, the trio was adorable. Bastien was in the middle, his pillow tipped forward, nearly dragging on the grass in front of him. Draco kept a careful hand on his little brother’s shoulder, making sure he didn’t turn and run like he had at the rehearsal yesterday. Harry was far more concerned with walking at the right speed, and had taken to using an exaggerated stepping form, his upper body scooping through the air as he took each slow step. Everyone in the congregation, including the groom and his attendants, were working to stifle their chuckles at the young boys.
When they arrived at the front, James and Sirius untied the rings from the pillows and pocketed them. Sirius had Eva’s wedding ring on his pinky, while Anwen had Remus’s on her thumb. The boys then went to stand with their father’s. Bastien reached up to hold his daddy’s hand, and Sirius’ heart melted at the action. He could have sworn he heard several “aww’s” from those amassed to watch the nuptials.
Lily came down the aisle first, looking as if she were gliding down the flowered path. James only took his eyes off his wife when their son tugged on his pant leg. He knelt down as to hear his boy.
“Mummy’s beautiful,” Harry exclaimed loud enough for Lily to hear. She blushed at her sons comment.
“She definitely is,” James agreed, winking at his son before he stood back up.
Anwen was slower in her trip down the aisle, but nearly as fluid as Lily. The green of the dress brought out her eyes, and Sirius was certain a tear was forming in the corner. This was the first wedding either had been in since their own ceremonies two years previous. Both of her boys waved, but Bastien decided he wanted to be with his Mum. Breaking free from his fathers grasp, he ran to greet his mummy at the end of the aisle. Anwen gently took his hand and pulled him over to her spot on the opposite side from the men.
Eva was escorted by her mother, and she was beaming as she strode purposefully toward Remus. Neither had eyes for anyone else as they wed, repeating their vows and sealing them with a kiss. For anyone who had known the Marauders in school, this was something which was completely unexpected. All three had matured into respectable men, married to good women and adding to wizarding society. It was a far cry from their days of pranking the residents of Hogwarts castle and spending long hours in detention for it.
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