Chapter 33 : Legal Guardianship
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When Astoria, Luna, and the children finally arrived back at Hogwarts, they had time enough to unpack and take naps before dinner in the Great Hall. Because so many of the staff was married with children, the staff table had been enlarged and the left end of it was where the children sat. Severus raced into the hall and quickly jumped onto the dais and claimed seats for himself, Lily, and Alby. Cory sat next to Alby and Frankie sat on Lily's other side, with Severus between Lily and Alby. Teddy, Jamie, and Sirius came in with some of the older students, and they claimed the seats opposite Severus, Lily, and Alby. Teddy was next to Frankie and they had left the seat on Alby's other side for Rose. Only Rose did not walk in with Hermione when she arrived.
"Aunt Hermione! Aunt Hermione!" Frankie bellowed, waving her hand as if she were in class rather than at dinner. "Where's Rose? I wanna introduce her to Lily."
Hermione came over and smiled at Frankie and introduced herself to Lily. "Hello, Lily. I'm Hermione Granger, the Charms professor."
Lily looked delighted and said, "I like Charms! They're my favorite subject . . . along with potions." She shook hands with Hermione. "Frankie says you have a daughter around my age."
Hermione, who knew that this was Harry's mother, couldn't help marveling at how adorable Lily was. "That's right. Rosie is four, she'll be five on November 25th." She turned and said to Frankie, "Rosie wasn't feeling well, so I had to bring her to Madam Pomfrey. She seems to have a touch of the flu, and Uncle Ron is with her now. Perhaps when she's well, she can meet Lily. I'm sure all of you girls will have great fun together." After she had greeted all the other children, she moved to sit down beside Luna.
Frankie looked upset. "Aww, I wish Rosie hadn't gotten sick. She's great fun to be with and she has nearly the same color hair as you, Lily."
"The color of fire?" Lily asked.
"Umm . . . it's more like strawberry blond," Severus said. "She likes to brew potions too, and bake, and she's very smart."
"And a know-it-all," remarked Sirius.
"Like her mother," Severus agreed. "But that's not really a bad thing."
Teddy stood up and stretched out a hand to Lily. "Hi, I'm Teddy Lupin, and these are my little brothers, Sirius and Jamie." He poked Sirius and Jamie in the ribs. "Say hello, you muffinheads! Don't just stand there."
"Hi, Lily," Jamie said, he felt rather shy around girls.
"Hello, Lily," Sirius said. "Remember me?"
Lily nodded sharply. "I remember you liked to prank me and Severus."
Teddy rolled his eyes. "Big surprise. How did you two meet?"
"We went to the same primary school," Severus improvised. "Lily and I were neighbors back when our parents were alive."
"So . . . where are you living? With the Weasleys?" asked Sirius.
Before Lily could reply, Cory interrupted. "She's my big sister and she lives with me!"
Sirius looked shocked. "You do?"
"Yes," Lily answered. "Draco and Astoria agreed to take me in."
"Huh. That's a switch. A Malfoy daughter who's a Muggleborn. What's old Lucius think about it? Bet he's fit to be tied." Sirius said.
"I don't know. I haven't met him yet," Lily answered, beginning to grow nervous. This was the second time someone had mentioned that Lucius Malfoy wouldn't like her. She recalled snippets from her old life of a tall aristocratic blond prefect wearing Slytherin green and silver, looking down his nose at her and some other Gryffindor girls. She bit her lip hard. If he didn't like her, would Astoria and Draco be made to send her away?
Severus touched her shoulder lightly. "Don't worry, Lil. Lucius' changed, he's not the way he used to be."
"A prejudiced git," put in Sirius.
"Hey!" Cory objected. "My grandpa's not a git, Sirius! You take that back!"
"Your grandfather used to be a criminal. He was put in Azkaban."
"That's the pot calling the kettle black," Severus reminded the other boy.
Sirius flushed, but said nothing. There was nothing he could say to that.
"What's a Muggleborn?" asked Frankie.
"It's a magical kid who has non-magical parents," replied Teddy. "Aunt Hermione's Muggleborn."
Frankie looked at Lily. "Your mum and dad don't have magic?"
"No, they didn't." Lily replied, wondering if this was going to be an issue the way it had in her old life.
"My father didn't either," Severus spoke up. "But my mother did, which makes me a half-blood, like Harry. And anyway, who cares what blood status you are? It's not like it matters."
"It mattered to Lucius Malfoy," Sirius insisted.
"That was then." Severus said. "If I remember correctly, Black, it mattered to your mother too. She was always going on about the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black."
Sirius stiffened. "My mother was a nasty hag. I'm not like her."
"Then why'd you bring up the fact that Lily's a Muggleborn?" Severus demanded.
"Because it just seemed . . . I don't know . . . strange . . ." Sirius said.
Lily stared at her plate, her mind awash with memories. She recalled Sirius as a teenager, handsome but with a cruel streak, mocking Severus and calling him a greasy dungeon bat. She remembered another messy haired boy with hazel eyes and glasses, laughing and telling Severus to wash his hair, and then smiling at her. Evans, why are you hanging about that grease ball, Snivellus? Surely you can find a better looking kid to be with? She recalled Sirius and another, smaller boy, named Peter, howling with laughter at Potter's gibe. Memory after memory cascaded through her mind of the wicked pranks Sirius, Potter, and Peter played on Severus mostly, but on occasion she was also a target and so were other kids in her year, those who were misfits.
She drew in a deep breath and reached for her glass of pumpkin juice. She drank it quickly. One thing she did know . . . she could not let what had happened to Severus then happen again. She would need to make that clear to the dark-haired boy sitting across from her. But not now. After supper.
"Lily, is something wrong?" Severus asked, seeing her look pensive.
"No. I'm just . . . remembering," she replied.
"Oh. Well, if you don't like the memories, you can always use a Pensieve and take them out. That's what I did to a lot of mine."
"That's a good idea, Sev. But right now I need to keep them. For a little while." She smiled at him. He was always so concerned over her, but then . . . he was her best friend. And he always knew when she was upset and tried to cheer her up.
Soon dinner was served, succulent roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, salad, mashed potatoes and gravy and honey drizzled carrots. All the children ate without complaining, even Jamie and Frankie, who normally disliked most vegetables.
Before the dessert was served, Draco came down and took Lily around to meet the rest of the staff. Lily only remembered Remus and Minerva, everyone else was new to her. She greeted everyone politely, then Draco let her go and sit down with the rest of the children.
Dessert that night was a warmed chocolate brownie with vanilla or chocolate ice cream and a cherry on top.
All the kids ate heartily of the dessert, and Teddy and Jamie even had seconds. Lily only ate half of hers, she was still full from dinner, and from having ice cream with Severus at Fortescue's. Pretty soon, the talk at the children's end turned to how many sweets they'd gotten for Halloween and which ones were the best.
"What sweets did you get, Lily?" Frankie inquired ingenuously.
"I . . . I didn't go trick-or-treating, because I was coming here," Lily said.
"Oh! Well, I can give you some of my sweets. I've got lots." Frankie offered generously.
"I can too," Severus added, not to be outdone.
"Thank you," Lily said.
"I'll ask Harry or Ginny to Summon them for me when they're done drinking their coffee and you can pick out whatever you want," Severus said. He felt slightly ashamed for not remembering that Lily wouldn't have gotten sweets on Halloween.
"I heard you went shopping at Diagon Alley, see anything interesting?" asked Jamie of Cory.
Cory told him about going to the toy store and then about the mean lady who was insulting his mother and how they had all called her names because she was so nasty.
"Boy, I wish I'd been there. I'd have told her off!" Jamie said. "I wish I didn't have school sometimes. I miss all the fun stuff."
"Sometimes I wish I had school," Cory said. "Staying home is boring."
"What? You get to sleep late and go to Diagon Alley and everything." Jamie said. "That's way better than going to Miss Patil's."
Cory looked unconvinced. "I still want to go to school. Miss Patil looks like she's a fun teacher."
"Sometimes she is. But she gives too much homework," Jamie said. "Like my dad."
Teddy was talking with Alby about being a Beast Master, having a lively conversation about birds and what they liked to eat and what materials they built their nests with.
Severus was keeping an eye on the staff table where Harry was talking to Neville and Ginny was discussing something with Hermione. As soon as he saw Harry finish his coffee, he stood up and went over to Harry.
Frankie also ran off to her father, and it was then Lily saw her chance to speak with Sirius alone.
"Psst . . . Sirius!" she beckoned the older boy over. "I need to ask you something."
Sirius followed her over to the back of the dais. "Okay, what do you want to know?"
She put her hands on her hips and glared at him. "I want to know if you plan on treating Severus like dirt the way you did in your last life? Because if you are, you're going to deal with me."
Sirius gaped at her. "What . . . what are you talking about?"
"You know what I'm talking about, Sirius Black, don't play dumb! I remember every nasty and stupid prank you ever played on Sev, me, or anyone else! You called him a horrid name and every chance you got, you sneered at him for being a Slytherin and better than you at potions. And if you deny it, then you're nothing but a filthy rotten liar!"
Sirius took a half step backwards. "I . . . I wasn't going to deny it, Lily. I know that I was a prat to him before . . ."
"You were worse than that," she snorted.
"Okay, fine! But I . . . I thought all Slytherins were bad then."
"Now I . . . know better," Sirius admitted sheepishly. "Severus . . . he . . . saved me from some bullies at the bonfire, they were gonna beat me up and he played a trick on them . . . and that's when I realized that I was wrong about him."
"Good. You keep on remembering that. If you forget, I swear to Merlin I'll remind you. I'll . . . I'll hex your bum off!" Lily said fiercely.
The threat might have been ridiculous, coming from a five year old girl who didn't even have a wand yet, but Sirius remembered a fiery witch whose aim with or without a wand was dead on target. And he still had command over some of his magic, and so did Severus, so it stood to reason Lily might too. And if that were so . . . he would be very stupid to anger her. Lily had always had a temper, and no patience for fools. And there was something in her green eyes that was fierce and wild, not like the empty threat of a child, but the fierce promise of a woman.
He held up his hands. "Lily, calm down. Snape can take care of himself and I already promised I'd leave him alone."
Lily eyed him up and down. She could see he wasn't lying. "Okay then. I'm glad you finally realized the truth."
She turned when she heard Severus call her. "Excuse me. Sev needs me," she said, then hurried over to where Severus was standing with a large sack of treats. She hid a smile. Now that she had straightened Sirius out, she could relax a little, knowing that she had protected Severus from the misery of his former schooldays with the Marauders. It was something, anyhow.
She knew there were more memories yet to be explored and confronted, and that some of them were ones where she had done something to Severus that had hurt him, but right then she could not face them, and sent them back to sleep. There would be time later to deal with them.
She rushed over to Severus and began eagerly to sort through the bag of sweets, joined a moment later by Frankie. Lily still remembered liking chocolate frogs, Sugar Quills, Ice Mice, and Luscious Rock Candy sticks.
"I like peppermint toads too," Severus told her.
"So do I!" Frankie exclaimed. "Do you like sherbet lemons?"
Severus smirked, for that had been Dumbledore's favorite sweet. "No, too sour. But I like the Cherry Drinkable Cauldrons." That was a new sweet this year, and it was a chocolate cauldron filled with a fizzy cherry drink. George Weasley had invented it.
"I never heard of that," Lily said.
"That's cuz they're new," Frankie said. "Weasley Wizard Wheezes makes 'em."
"I might have one left, I can check for you, Lil. Unless Alby or Harry ate it, it should still be there."
"Well, if it's not, don't worry. I can always try one later." Lily said. "I have plenty of sweets now."
Since it was only seven o'clock, and none of the kids were ready to go to sleep, Cory asked if they could play his Marble Shooter game at the table. Draco agreed and Summoned the game from their quarters and all the kids split up into teams. Jamie and Sirius, Frankie and Teddy, Severus and Lily, then Cory and Alby. The game was won by whichever team managed to score the most marbles into the goal. Since the holes for the goal kept shifting about, it was a challenge to see who could aim the best or get lucky.
The game grew very heated, as Jamie and Sirius were very competitive and tended to argue over shots, and once or twice an adult had to come over and threaten to shut the game down and send them to bed because of all the noise they were making. But finally the score was tied, between Severus and Lily, and Teddy and Frankie.
"You gotta go for a tie breaker, Teddy!" Jamie shrilled.
But his brother shook his head. "No, if it's tied, it's tied. It doesn't matter."
"But then . . . nobody wins!"
"So? It's just a game, Jamie. Who cares?" Teddy snorted. "The important thing is having fun."
Jamie looked at him askance. "Where's the fun if nobody wins?"
"Never mind. You're too little to understand," Teddy sighed.
By then it was time to go to bed, and their respective parents took them back to their quarters and had them get ready to sleep, for tomorrow was another day.
As Lily was tucked in on the couch, since Draco hadn't had time to make a new room for her, she grasped Draco's hand in hers and asked plaintively, "Could I . . . ask you a question, Draco?"
"Of course, sweetie," Draco smiled encouragingly at her.
"Tomorrow . . . we're going to Malfoy Manor to meet your parents, right?"
"Yes, we figured it'd be best for Father and Mother to meet you in person, instead of just hearing about you in a letter. Are you nervous about that, Lily? You shouldn't be. I promise my father doesn't really eat little children or whack them with his cane, the cane's mostly for show." He winked at her.
"But . . . but what if he doesn't like me? Or want me in his family?" Lily sniffled, this had been bothering her all night. "Will you . . . send me away to someone else?"
"Send you away?" Draco was astonished. He sat down beside her and drew her on his lap. "Little one, nothing and no one will ever make us send you away! Especially not my father! You're my child now, and you're going to stay right here where you belong." He hugged Lily tight. "Now, who's been telling tales about my father to you? Or do you remember from before what a twit he used to be?"
"I . . . I remember a little, but I didn't really know him in school, he was almost finished when I was a first year. But I know that he . . . was pureblood and didn't like Muggleborns very much . . . and Sirius said he was a prejudiced git and even Pansy made fun of me and said he wouldn't want a redhaired foster child in his manor." Lily's bottom lip trembled and she had tears in her eyes. "I don't want to cause problems, Draco."
"Shh . . . you won't," Draco gently wiped away the tears with his thumb. "While it's true that a long time ago Lucius was prejudiced and narrowminded, he's changed a lot since those days. He realized he was wrong and he's content to live and let live. Why, he even went over the Weasleys' house on Victory Day and had a civilized conversation with Arthur Weasley and that's like a miracle right there. Don't listen to what that punk Sirius and that snotty Pansy tell you, Lily. They don't know my father half as well as they think. He's going to love you, Lily, he's always wanted a granddaughter, and it won't matter that you're not a pureblood. Trust me."
"And your mum too?"
"Mother will be so happy that she has a little girl finally, she'll spoil you rotten," Draco reassured. "Us Malfoys usually run to boys, so a little girl is precious to us." He gently laid her back on the couch and kissed her on the forehead, handing her Bella to snuggle with. "Now close your eyes, Lily-kitty, and go to sleep. Everything will work out, you'll see."
Lily obeyed, she felt much better after Draco's little talk and supposed that he would know better than anyone what his own father was like. Soon she had drifted off to sleep.
Draco left her and went to check on his son and then headed to bed himself.
Lily wanted to wear her new green and lavender robe to Malfoy Manor, even though it was a mite too fancy for everyday. Astoria and Draco understood, however, and allowed her to wear it along with a pretty dress beneath it and her new matching green leather shoes. Then Astoria brushed her fiery hair till it shone and gave her a crown of braids, letting the rest of her hair hang loose down her back. She tied a pretty lavender bow in it.
"There, Lily! You look beautiful. Do you like how I did your hair? That's how my mum used to do mine when we went out," Astoria said. She turned Lily about to face the mirror in her room.
Lily squealed with glee. "Astoria, I look like a . . . princess! I love it!"
"I agree! I have two of the most beautiful women in the castle," Draco proclaimed. He was standing there in a more casual set of gray slacks, a collared charcoal shirt and shoes. "Right, Cory?"
Cory was wearing his favorite blue shirt, black pants, and black trainers. His soft golden hair set off the outfit perfectly. "Uh huh. My mummy's the prettiest witch ever an' so's my new sister." He grinned at them sweetly, holding his stuffed snake, Sir Hiss, under his arm.
"Aww, you're sweet, Cory!" Lily hugged him.
Astoria was wearing a royal blue knit top with rhinestones on it and a matching skirt with heels, she looked like a grand lady, or so thought her children. "All right, are we all ready?" she gave her family the once over. "Everyone looks presentable."
Lily sprinted over to the couch and grabbed her stuffed kitty. "I almost forgot Bella!"
"Can't have that, now can we?" Draco said, then he bent and picked up Lily, and Cory held Astoria's hand.
Since it was a nice day, they walked down to the gates and then Apparated once they were outside them.
When they reached Malfoy Manor, Cory bolted for the safety of the steps, because Lucifer had come around a corner of the walk, his ivory tail spread, and his red eyes gleaming, hissing ferociously.
Lily, who had never seen a peacock like him before, shrank back into Draco's arms and whimpered. "What's wrong with it? It looks like it wants to . . . bite me."
"He does. That's Lucifer, the nastiest bird you ever want to meet. Keep away from him, Lily."
"Lucifee bit me. And he bit Alby and Sevvy too," Cory reported. He scowled at the peacock. "Bad Lucifee!"
Draco stamped a foot at the albino peacock and growled, "Get, you nasty old thing! Before I pluck you and throw you into a stew!"
Lucifer drew himself up haughtily and let out a sharp cry, he opened and shut his tail feathers, and then he turned and marched across the lawn like a petty despot, his hens trailing him.
"Draco, you shouldn't provoke him," Astoria said.
Draco snorted. "No, he shouldn't provoke me, dear. I'm the one with the wand, after all." He walked up the stairs and knocked with the brass knocker.
The door swung open and there stood Lucius, a smile on his face. He was wearing a casual quilted day robe of green trimmed with silver, black tailored trousers, silver loafers and a white shirt. He looked exceedingly handsome and cultured. "Draco! I was wondering when you would arrive. Your mother's been pacing about hoping her canapé 's didn't get cold, though there's always a Warming Charm of that does happen. " He stepped back to let Draco and the rest of the family come inside.
He embraced Astoria and picked up Cory and spun him around. "How's my favorite grandson?"
"Good! Grandpa, I got a new sister." He pointed to Lily, who was standing quietly, pressed against Draco's knees. "Isn't she pretty?"
Lucius turned to regard the child. While he agreed with Cory's assessment, he also thought Lily look rather scared. Unsure of how to deal with a shy little girl, Lucius knelt so he could be on her level, and said softly, "And you must be Lily. Your robe looks fit for a queen, little one. My name is Lucius, but you can call me Grandpa like Cory if you prefer." He held out a hand for her to shake.
Lily's stomach had been feeling funny ever since she had arrived at the Manor, she had never done well with Sidelong Apparition, but had forgotten that fact until now. It had started aching as they walked up to the house and the peacock encounter had only made her tummy more upset. Her nervousness at meeting the formidable Malfoy patriarch merely escalated the feeling. She had meant to ask Draco where the loo was, but then Lucius had come over, and suddenly it was too much. Before she could do anything, she threw up . . . all over Lucius!
Now Lucius Malfoy was known as a fastidious individual, Draco could count on one hand the times he'd seen his father look anything but immaculate. He stared in horror as vomit coated his father's chest and ran down his leg. "Father! Oh, Merlin!"
Lily started to cry, she was so ashamed and embarrassed. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean it!"
"Of course you didn't, dear," Narcissa knelt and picked up the little girl. "Did the Sidelong Apparition make your tummy upset? Draco was always like that too at your age. Remember, Luc?"
Lucius, to his credit, only grimaced and did not bellow or otherwise display a temper. "Yes, I do. Cissy . . . would you, ah . . ."
"Here, Dad," Astoria said, and she cast a cleaning charm on him. "I should have remembered to give her a Stomach Soother before we came here."
Cory couldn't believe what had just happened. "Wow! That was like wicked and gross!"
"Indeed." Lucius sighed. He was still a little damp from the cleaning charm. He turned to Cissy, who was still trying to comfort Lily, and said, "Here now, there's no need to cry. Look, my robe's not even damaged."
Lily peered up at him through red-rimmed eyes. "But I . . . got you all yucky."
"True, but Cory did worse when he was a baby," Lucius chuckled.
"You're not . . . mad?"
"Why would I be? It's not like you did it on purpose." Lily's woeful expression completely melted him. He snapped his fingers and a vial of Stomach Soother appeared. "Come here, child." He took her from Narcissa and held her on his hip expertly. "Now, you just sit here with your old grandfather and sip this potion," he went into the den and sat down with Lily on his lap, helping her hold the vial and drink the potion, which tasted like mint.
As she slowly sipped the vial, her stomach calmed and she actually began to enjoy the tall man holding her. He smelled like cinnamon and sandalwood aftershave and that reminded Lily of her father and grandfather. She still felt embarrassed, but since Lucius hadn't yelled at her, she didn't feel as bad as she could have. She leaned her head against his shoulder and finished the potion. "That nasty Pansy was wrong about you," she stated artlessly. "You're not mean and nasty and going to kick me out of your house 'cause I'm a Muggleborn redhaired foster child, after all."
Lucius gaped at her. Then he said, half-growling, "Certainly not! You're my granddaughter and the only person I'd be kicking out of my house is Pansy, that ill-mannered b—err—brat," he declared, substituting a word hastily for the one he'd meant to say. Narcissa would have had his head if he used foul language in front of the grandchildren, especially this adorable girl.
Lily leaned her head on his shoulder and sighed in relief. "Madam Malkin nearly kicked her out of her shop yesterday because she was behaving like a brat . . . and the other word you didn't say too."
Lucius began to laugh. "Oh, child! You are too smart. I can see I'm going to have to watch my step with you, minx. Muggleborn you may be, but you've the pert attitude of a true Malfoy. And that's just the way I like it." Then he tweaked her nose and winked at her.
"Tori, she's adorable! Finally, a girl at last for me to buy clothes, shoes, and have tea parties with," Narcissa said ecstatically. "Oh, we're going to have such fun together. Would you like some bread with butter, Lily? Something that won't be too hard on your tummy, darling?"
"Yes, please. And some milk too . . .Gran."
"Coming right up," Narcissa said, and she beamed before turning to call her house elf. Lucius, she thought, was going to spoil Lily rotten. She knew he had always longed for a baby girl, and now at last he had his wish. Narcissa silently thanked the Powers That Be for sending Lily to them. She knew, of course, that Lily used to be Harry's mother in her former life, but somehow that didn't matter. All that mattered was that she had a granddaughter to love, and she would be happy to make Lily's second life as fulfilling as possible.
When the elf returned with a tray with pieces of soft white bread slathered generously with sweet butter and two cups of cold milk for the children and coffee for the adults, Lily was giggling at a story Lucius was telling about Draco as a little boy, trying to catch a frog in the garden, and falling into a big mud puddle. Cory was leaning on his other knee, his eyes wide as saucers.
Narcissa sent the tray hovering in front of her husband, and announced, "There you go, dears! Eat up."
Lily and Cory reached immediately for the bread and milk, and then so did everyone else.
Astoria put an arm about her husband and smiled after she had taken a bite of her bread with butter. "All's well that ends well, love. She's got him wrapped about her little finger."
Draco smirked. "And how! Father was never this patient with me."
"That's because you weren't his grandchild. He's learned since then," Narcissa laughed. It was amazing how the presence of one small girl could turn men into soft plushie bunnies.
Lily and Cory spent a very rewarding day with their grandparents. They picked flowers for the table with Cissy and fed the koi, Lucius played ball with them and also checkers. Over lunch, Lucius discussed the issue of guardianship with both Draco and Astoria. "I know you say you're her guardians, but you need something more to go on than that. You need to make it official and legal. Otherwise some Ministry idiot in Child Services could come and take her from you."
"Why? We've done nothing wrong for them to do that!" Astoria protested.
"That has nothing to do with it. It's called following proper procedure." Lucius said.
"But Father, how can we explain that Lily's . . . err . . . returned through the Veil? If people find out, they'll be trying to get interviews and ask questions and everything. None of us want the children exposed to that."
"You swear Shacklebolt to secrecy and whoever else he has as his witness. Then you sign papers making you Lily's legal guardian and set up a trust fund for her and a vault. That way no one can contest your authority. You can reveal her true identity when she comes of age . . . or she can be Astoria's cousin forever. The choice is yours."
"You're right, Father. We should have thought of that before. I'd better tell Harry and Remus about this too."
Lucius nodded. "That would be wise. Only they have a bit of a stickier problem."
"Why do you say that?"
"Because Sirius Black and Severus Snape are the last of their name still living. They can't assume a different name if they want to perpetuate their lineage. Or have title and deed to their inheritance. So Lupin and Harry will have to falsify a background for them as to why they're named the same as their . . . earlier counterparts."
"Oh. I see." Draco frowned.
"That's easy!" Astoria said. "Remus could tell people that Sirius is Regulus Black's love child, named after his uncle, and his mum gave him to Remus to raise because she had no money and no opportunity for him to have a good home."
"Hmm . . . that's a good one, Tori. But what about Severus? He had no brothers."
"True, but what about cousins on his dad's side? Nobody in our world would ever know whether or not Tobias Snape had brothers. Sev could be an orphan cousin named after his dad's favorite nephew or something. After all, Severus was so secretive about his personal life, who's to say he didn't keep in touch with his Muggle relatives?"
"Tori, that's brilliant! But why should we reveal the truth at all then?" queried Draco. "Wouldn't it be safer if no one knew but us?"
Astoria shook her head. "No, Draco. A secret like that has ways of coming back to bite you sooner or later, and it's better to have the Minister in on it. If something should go wrong, and someone else finds out the truth, he could help us. But he might not want to if he's kept in the dark."
Again, Draco could not refute her logic. "All right. We should talk to Harry and Remus as soon as possible and arrange a time to go to the Ministry and speak with Kingsley."
Ministry of Magic:
Two days after Draco had discussed the topic of legal guardianship with Lucius, and passed on the older wizard's advice to his colleagues, all three families stood in Minster Shacklebolt's office along with Severus, Sirius, and Lily.
Draco had requested the meeting and had warded the office with every privacy and Anti-Eavesdropping Charm he knew of before they discussed their situation with Kingsley. King, along with his second, Vice Minister Aurielle Bagnold, relative of former Minister of Magic Millicent Bagnold, and also Director of Wizarding Child Services, looked astonished at the level of security Draco and his friends were insisting upon.
"Draco, would you please tell us what is so important that you must ward my office as if you have to guard against Voldemort himself?" Kingsley queried. "And who are these three children?"
"Sorry, Minister, but we have to make sure nothing of what we're going to tell you leaks out to anyone not in this room." Draco began. "That's why we also must ask you to swear Wizard's Oath never to reveal to anyone what you hear."
Aurielle raised an eyebrow. "Mr. Malfoy, surely you are being . . . overdramatic."
"Surely I'm not, Vice Minister. What we're about to reveal to you is going to forever change how you look at the world and what you believe in. Please, swear the oath."
Aurielle and King drew their wands and swore.
Draco looked at Harry. "Since Harry was the one who first discovered them, I think I'll let him start."
Harry cleared his throat. "Well, I know you're going to find this extremely hard to believe, it was for me too, but please hear me out, this isn't a hoax . . . on May 2nd, Victory Day, I visited the graves of two of the most influential people in my life—my godfather, Sirius Black, and my Potions professor, Severus Snape . . . Now, I have done this every Victory Day since the war ended, but this time something strange and miraculous occurred . . ."
Harry went on to explain their return through the Veil and Lily's more recently. Both Kingsley and Aurielle were shocked to the core of their beings. But they listened without interruption until Harry had finished. Then they looked at the three children and back at their new guardians.
Finally, King said, "Harry, if I didn't know better, I'd say you were drunk or on drugs."
"And if I didn't see them with my own eyes, I'd say you were insane and needed to be committed," Aurielle added. "I cannot believe it! These children have . . . returned from the dead! How is that possible? And why only them?"
Harry shook his head. "Minster Bagnold, if I knew the answer to that, I'd be God-"
Suddenly Lily spoke up. "It's because our regret at our past lives was so great and we sacrificed more in our lives than we were supposed to, that the Creator and the heavenly host decided to grant us a second chance to live our lives again. To be reincarnated, in a way, and so learn from our mistakes and know at last the peace and joy we crave. It's sort of . . . an experiment . . . or at least that's what I was told." Her eyes glowed with an eerie eldritch light for a moment, then it faded.
Kingsley gaped at her. "Is she a medium of some sort, Harry?"
"In a way," Lily replied, smiling. "I was beyond the Veil the longest, and the seraphim know me best. So sometimes they choose to speak through me."
"Simply amazing!" Aurielle exclaimed. She reached out and touched Lily's cheek reverently. "Do you remember what it was like . . . beyond the Veil?"
"Not really. Just that it was beautiful and serene. I don't think I'm meant to remember. Not now."
Aurielle sighed. "Oh, well. It was worth a try. Guess I'll know when it's time, huh?"
Lily nodded. "And everyone's experience is different." She turned and hugged Harry. "I want you to know that I'm proud to be your mother, Harry. You brought me nothing but joy and if necessary, I would give my life for you again. I love you more than words. But in order for me to be happy and fulfilled in this lifetime, I need to forget that part of my past. I cannot be both mother and daughter. I don't want to have memories of two husbands either, should I marry in this life. That wouldn't be fair. I am Lily Evans now, that is who I need to be."
Harry hugged her back, tears in his eyes. "I understand, Mum."
"Good. I had a feeling you would. Now . . . Obliviate me, son."
"Lily, wait!" Sirius cried. "How can you do that? You loved James."
She looked at him. "I did . . . then. But that life is past. And James has been reborn with no memory of his previous life, as it should be. He has a second chance too, and another to belong to, another maybe even more suited than I was. It is given me to know that much. I make this choice of my own free will, Sirius. Harry, do it now."
Harry knelt down beside her, and whispered, "Mum, I love you too."
"I know. And I shall always be with you, in one way or another." She kissed him.
Harry placed his wand to her temple and concentrated. Then he spoke the spell. "Obliviate!"
Lily's eyes went blank for a moment. Then she blinked and said, "Did I miss something?"
Everyone shook their heads.
Finally, Aurielle said, "I realize that you didn't all come here just to tell us this, extraordinary as it might be. You have another reason, correct?"
"We do," Draco said. "We wish to file for legal custody of our wards, and either restore or open a vault for them to use and hold it in trust until they come of age."
"Very good, Mr. Malfoy. That makes perfect sense. Let me get the forms for you to fill out." She went over to a large filing cabinet and pulled out some parchment. She handed a form to each family. "Know this, these guardianship forms are a magically binding contract, as binding as a blood adoption in their way. Once you and your ward signs it, you will all be members of the same family for as long as you live. However, because Mr. Black and Mr. Snape are the last of their lines, they must keep their legal names in order to retain their original heritage of titles, money, and so forth. Thus, Mr. Black shall retain his family title, vault, and possessions, and Mr. Snape shall retain his vault, possessions, and title."
"But Minister Bagnold, I don't have a title. My mother repudiated her right when she married my father," Severus said.
"Your mother did, but you are still the last heir to the Prince line. And as such, you inherit your grandfather's title, land, and whatever money and possessions he had. It's down in the records. You never knew of this before?"
"No. I always assumed . . ." Severus sounded dazed.
"Well, now you do," Aurielle smiled. "You are now Severus Tobias Snape, Lord Prince."
"Merlin's arse!" Sirius cried. "Now he's a lord?"
"Sirius!" reproved Dora. "Watch your mouth!"
"I had control over Sirius' vault, and Severus' too," Harry said then.
"Yes, I'm aware of that. Since it was a bequest, you can now deed it back to them, Mr. Potter," Aurielle said. She gave him another form. "Sign there."
"What about Lily?" asked Draco. "Does she have to keep her legal name?"
"Lily is different. As a woman, she can choose to either stay an Evans or to hyphenate her name and become Evans-Malfoy. But she does not have to make a decision until she comes of age. In the meantime, her vault will be in trust to the Malfoy family. Now, please read over the terms and sign the documents when you are ready."
It took about ten minutes for everyone to read the document, including the fine print, then one by one, they signed their papers. First Remus , Dora, and Sirius, then Harry, Ginny, and Severus and finally Draco, Astoria, and Lily. Once they had done so, they felt a quivering tingle rush up their arms and settle somewhere in the vicinity of their hearts. A feeling of utter peace and contentment washed over them.
"'Tis done! You are all family now," declared Aurielle, grinning broadly. "Congratulations! Now let me file these away in the Top Secret Cabinet. Those are where all the secret documents go, and the cabinet can only be opened or seen by King or myself, of our own free will."
Suddenly everyone was smiling and laughing and crying. Ginny and Dora were doing all three, and hugging their boys. Astoria and Draco were both hugging Lily.
Aurielle had made a copy of the guardianship papers that would be kept in the public records room, with an attached paper of the false history Astoria had created for each of the UnVeiled children. This way it looked as though they had nothing to hide.
Kingsley clapped Harry, Draco, and Remus on the back and grinned. "Now I have just one question for you all. Who's hungry? All this secrecy makes me starving!"
"Let's go out to lunch then," suggested Harry.
"Ah, Harry. I can hardly stir to use the toilet without an entourage," King laughed.
"So we go to a Muggle restaurant," Harry said. "There's lots of them in London."
And that was what they did.
A/N: So who liked Lily and Sirius' talk? How about Lily and Lucius? Maybe it might seem weird for Lucius to go all mushy with her, but from what I've seen with my own dad and his granddaughters . . . that's just the way it is, especially if you only have grandsons and this is the first granddaughter in the family for years! Next up, more fun with the kids and the Weasley family and Lily meets Rose.
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