Re: The Real World!
Olivia glanced at her watch for the fourth time in as many minutes. It wasn’t like Dana to be late. No, that wasn’t quite right – Dana had taken to always coming late in the weeks since her marriage to Aidan. What had marriage done to her?
Even as the thought went through Olivia’s head, Dana appeared, hurrying around the corner. Her face was flushed when she finally reached her friend.
“Sorry,” she panted. “I got held up in class. Unfortunately, the Healers don’t think of mealtimes as set events. I ran all the way here.”
“You should have Apparated,” Olivia offered.
Dana rolled her eyes. “Into a Muggle neighborhood? Are you trying to get me expelled from the wizarding world, or just Healer training?”
Olivia laughed. “Sometimes I forget where we are.”
“Sometimes I worry about you,” Dana replied. “Come on, let’s find a place for lunch. I’m starving! And we both need to be back in time for our afternoon classes.”
They quickly found a café that had tables open. They studied their menus in silence for several moments; it wasn’t until after their order was taken that they began their conversation in earnest.
“So, how are you?” Dana asked.
“I should be asking you!” Olivia replied. “How’s married life?”
Dana looked at her closely, watching the shadow that fell across her friend’s eyes. “It’s great,” she said carefully. “Aidan’s a sweetheart. You know, it’s odd – how many people can honestly say they married the person they fell in love with at the age of fifteen?”
“It seems to be a trend among our friends.”
Dana folded her hands on the table. “Olivia, answer me this time. How are you?”
Olivia sighed. “I’m ashamed to even say how I feel.”
“Liv, we’ve been friends since we were little girls. There isn’t shame between us anymore. You, Lily and I know each other better than sisters. We don’t judge one another. You know that. Just say what’s on your mind.”
Olivia drew a deep breath. “I miss having you around at home. When Lily left, it was all right because you were there, but now I’m all alone.”
Dana frowned. “That’s nothing to be ashamed of, and we both know it. You would never be afraid to admit that to me, or to anyone else. I would think that you would value our friendship enough to be honest with me, and to tell me what really has you so upset.”
Olivia smiled sheepishly. “Well, I do miss you. That isn’t a lie. It just isn’t the whole truth.”
“And what is the whole truth?”
Her smile faded. “I’m jealous of you, Dana.”
Dana’s eyes widened in shock. “What?”
“Yes, I really said that. Not just of you. Of Lily, too, and of Laura. I’m jealous because you’re all getting married and starting lives with the men you love. What I said before about when it was just Lily leaving was true. When Lily and James got married, I was fine with it. Everyone had always known that they would get married. Even when we were little girls and Lily proclaimed that she hated James on a daily basis, we knew that she loved him – you, Kathleen and I.”
Dana’s eyes momentarily clouded. “Yes, we knew. But what has changed now, Liv?”
“Everything! Remus and Laura are within weeks of their wedding, and you and Aidan just got married . . . Everyone is growing up except for Sirius and I.”
“Have you spoken to Sirius about this?”
“I’ve tried, but he just says that we’re too young.”
“But you don’t agree?”
“Clearly we aren’t,” Olivia replied in annoyance. “Look at the three couples I just listed – you and Aidan included! Do you think we’re too young?”
“That’s a tough question, Liv,” Dana said slowly. “I don’t think it has anything to do with age. It’s all about being ready for the responsibility.”
“Well, I am.”
“Yes, I can see that you are – but is Sirius?”
“He should be.”
“You can’t make him be ready if he isn’t.”
“Liv,” Dana sighed, “don’t push him on this. You might end up pushing him away.”
“He should realize that he’s going to push me away if he won’t consider this.”
Dana’s eyes widened again. “Liv, are you saying . . . Do you love Sirius?”
“Yes, of course I do.”
Dana leaned forward, her eyes bright. “Then hold on to that love. Don’t let it go, and don’t forget it. Don’t throw what you have with Sirius away because you two can’t get yourselves together to talk about this. And you do need to talk about it. Sit him down and make him listen.”
Olivia shook her head. “I’m through trying to talk to him about it. He’s the man. It’s his job to propose to me.”
“Liv . . .”
“No, Dana. He needs to figure this out on his own.”
James’s feet shook slightly as he climbed the stone steps to the massive front doors of Hogwarts. He grasped the banister to steady himself, and continued his journey.
He walked through the front doors, into the silent entrance hall. It was no longer odd to see it completely devoid of students. During his evening sessions with Professor Prewett over the summer, he had become accustomed to the emptiness. But he was still nervous. This wasn’t a session with Professor Prewett. Those had ended. Today was different. Today would set the pattern for all the days to come. He glanced around warily, wondering what to do and where to go.
“Potter, you’re here early.”
James turned to his right, and saw Professor McGonagall striding toward him. “Good morning, Professor.”
She nodded. “We have a staff meeting at nine. Until then, I’m sure you have some work to do.”
James nodded, trying to pull together his scrambled thoughts. “I do. Where will the meeting be?”
“In the staffroom.”
James nodded again, and smiled. “I’ll see you at nine, then.” He turned to walk down the hall to his classroom.
“Don’t be late,” Professor McGonagall cautioned.
James turned to face her again, feeling once again every inch her student. “I won’t be.”
He walked briskly through the corridors to his classroom. He opened the door and walked inside, closing it behind him. He leaned against the cool wood of the door for a moment, and exhaled deeply. He closed his eyes, and gave himself a mental shake. He had to get his nerves under control He couldn’t very well teach a class in defense if he was afraid of his very job.
“Come on, James,” he whispered to himself. “You’re a Gryffindor. Start acting like it.”
He opened his eyes, and surveyed his classroom. It was dark and imposing, as it had always been during his own schooldays. It was still Professor Prewett’s classroom.
As Prewett himself had said, it was time for change. James waved his wand, and the shutters over the windows banged open. At once, the room was flooded with sunlight. James nodded. Things were already improving.
After an hour and a half, the classroom was beginning to feel more like “his” room. He had removed most of Professor Prewett’s dark creature artifacts, replacing them with cases full of books about defensive spells and dark magic. He had cleaned out a cupboard and filled it with cushions, which would be useful when his students were practicing spells that resulted in their partner tumbling to the floor. He had rearranged the desks in a semicircle, which would make demonstrations and practice sessions easier. James looked around the room and nodded. He was ready to meet his students. He was ready to be a teacher.
“Welcome back to all of you.”
The noise in the staffroom died down as Dumbledore greeted them. All the teachers turned to him with smiles. They looked as eager as he did to begin the new school year.
“Our first order of business is to welcome our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher,” Dumbledore smiled. “As I’m sure you will recall, William Prewett decided to end his teaching days at the end of last year. James Potter will be stepping into his position. Please, James, stand up, and remind us all of who you are.”
Flushing slightly, James stood while the other teachers clapped. When he took his seat again, Professor Sprout gave him a wink. He smiled at her. Looking around the room, he realized that the entire staff was smiling at him. He smiled as well, remembering Professor Prewett’s words. This staff worked together, and would be there to help him.
“Now,” Dumbledore smiled, “on to our opening procedures. All teachers are to be here on the first at three o’clock to assist with the student arrival. Our students will arrive at the school on six in the evening, as usual. Hagrid will bring in our first years, and Minerva will handle the Sorting. All other teachers will assist the Head Boy and Girl and the prefects as they bring the upperclassmen into the Great Hall. Once the students have been seated, you will take your places at the staff table.” He glanced up from his notes with a smile. “As you can see, nothing has changed.
“Minerva has your class schedules and rosters ready for you. Remember, attendance must be taken every day, in every class. Minerva will take your weekly attendance and lesson plans on Fridays. Remember, those are your plans for the upcoming week, not the week you just finished – and your plans should change every week.” His eyes twinkled as they scanned the room, and he didn’t quite manage to hide his smile.
James nodded. Professor Prewett had told him all of this, and had taught him how to record attendance and write lesson plans He had been a bit surprised that Professor McGonagall was in charge of so much, but Prewett had shrugged off the question.
“When Dumbledore was Deputy Headmaster, he did the same,” he had said. “If he ever leaves and McGonagall takes his job, she can shove those tasks onto her Deputy. The Deputy Headmaster – or Headmistress – works harder than anyone in this school, James. They know it when they take the job.”
“I trust that you have your curricula and syllabi in place for the year,” Dumbledore said. “Copies of each will need to be submitted to me by Friday.”
Again, James nodded. Prewett had made him duplicate everything they had written in anticipation of Dumbledore’s request.
“I believe that’s all I have for you right now. Lunch will be served at noon in the Great Hall. Heads of House, I will need you to stay for a moment. Everyone else, I will see you at noon.”
James took one last careful look around the staffroom as he stood to leave. Sirius would be sure to want a complete description. He smiled, thinking of the hours he and his friends had spent speculating about what might be in the teachers’ staffroom. It was somehow ironic that he was now invited into the room as an equal.
I would never have imagined myself to be a teacher, he thought to himself as he walked back to his classroom. Never.
A trembling little girl – the last in a long line of students – made her way to the stool in the front of the Great Hall. She sat down, and McGonagall placed the Sorting Hat on her head. There was a moment’s silence, and then –
James applauded with the other teachers, wishing that he could cheer with the Gryffindors. Audra grinned as she took her seat at her new House table; James knew he had a matching grin on his own face. Professor Flitwick leaned closer to him.
“Don’t favor them, James.”
James turned to him in confusion. “What?”
“The Gryffindors – don’t favor them because it’s your House. All the students will notice, and it certainly won’t make them respect you.” Flitwick smiled, and patted James’s hand. “That’s the best advice I can give you, Professor Potter. Treat them all equally.”
“Thanks,” James smiled.
Dumbledore stood, ending all conversations. James and Flitwick both straightened up in their chairs. McGonagall appeared, taking her position next to the Headmaster.
“Welcome to Hogwarts,” Dumbledore beamed. “Before we begin the serious business of eating, I’d like to inform you of our staff changes. Professor Prewett left us at the end of last year after a long run as our professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts. He will be replaced by Professor Potter. Welcome to Hogwarts, Professor!”
James smiled as he stood to be recognized. The students applauded; several cheered. He grinned again, and sat down. At once, Flitwick leaned closer to him again.
“Be firm with the upperclassmen,” he whispered. “They’re the ones who cheered. They know you, and they think you’ll be more their friend than their teacher. You have to show them that you’re in charge.”
James swallowed, and nodded. For some reason, he was beginning to dread the first day of class.
It was the first day of school. James walked into his first class – Gryffindor seventh years – with a smile. He could handle this. He knew these students. He had given them orders during his tenure as Head Boy. How much harder could teaching be?
The students were lounging around the classroom when James walked in. Four girls were reading magazines and talking. A group in the back was playing Exploding Snap. One girl was chewing Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum and blowing bubble after bubble. A boy had wireless, and was blaring his music.
“Can I have your attention?” James called.
“You’re not Head Boy anymore, Potter,” a boy called. “We don’t have to listen to you!”
“I’m your teacher,” James replied. A bubble from the girl’s gum popped on his shoulder, covering his robes with gum. “Stop it!”
“You’re our friend, James,” a girl giggled. She flipped a page of her magazine. “You’re the cool teacher.”
“No,” James said, panicking. “No, I’m not your friend.”
Professor Flitwick flew in on a broomstick. “Don’t be their friend, James. Make them respect you.”
James woke up with a gasp. He lay still in bed for a moment, trying to slow his racing heart. The sense of panic gradually left him. He was still at home, in his bed. School hadn’t started yet. He didn’t have the Gryffindor seventh years until his NEWT class on Tuesday. His first class would be the Hufflepuff third years.
He rolled over to look at the clock. It was only ten after six. Even so, he didn’t want to sleep again. He didn’t want to chance another nightmare. Trying to be quiet, he climbed out of bed.
He turned to see Lily blinking her sleep-heavy eyes. “I’m right here, love.”
“What time is it?”
“A little after six.”
Lily frowned. “What are you doing up so early? You don’t have to be at school until eight.”
“After the dream I just had, I think I’m going to need the extra time to prepare for my classes.”
“What dream?” Lily propped herself up on her elbow. Now fully awake, she pushed her hair out of her face.
“It was silly. Don’t worry about it.” James glanced at the clock. “Why don’t you get some more sleep? There’s no reason for you to be up this early.”
“There’s every reason,” Lily replied, sitting up straight. “This dream obviously has you upset. Tell me about it.”
James sighed, and sat down on the bed. “The general idea is that I was teaching the Gryffindor seventh years, who were being horribly disrespectful. They wouldn’t listen to me, they kept saying that I was their friend, that I was the cool teacher . . .” He trailed off. “Dumbledore trusted me enough to offer me this job, Lil. I don’t want to let him down.”
“You won’t let him down, James,” Lily said, taking his hand in hers. “It was just a dream. You were Head Boy; you know how to command respect. You’re going to be a fantastic teacher. Dumbledore believes in you, and I believe in you, too.”
James smiled, and leaned in to kiss her. “Thank you,” he whispered against her lips.
Her lips stretched into a smile against his. “I love you, James.”
“I love you.”
“You don’t like the food as much now as you did when you were a student?”
James looked up from picking at his breakfast to smile at his former Divination professor. “I had breakfast at home with Lily. I’m not really hungry anymore.”
Professor Turner nodded. “It’s good that you decided to sit down here. It’ll help the students get to know your face.”
“A lot of them already know it.”
“You’ll do fine, James.” She gave him the same mysterious smile he remembered from his days as a student. “I can say without a doubt that you’ll be a good teacher.”
“Thanks, Professor,” James smiled, thinking that if she kept being so nice, he might have to forgive her for being the Head of Slytherin House. “Are you excited for the first day?”
“Ah, James,” she sighed. “No, I’m not. I think it may be time for me to retire. When you aren’t nervous and excited for the first day of class, you shouldn’t be teaching anymore.” She shook her head. “Don’t say anything just yet. I haven’t made my final decision.”
Resisting the urge to make a smart comment about her lack of divination skills, James nodded. “I won’t,” he promised as the bell rang, commanding everyone to their first class.
Professor Turner smiled her mysterious smile again. “I know you won’t. That’s why I told you.”
Maybe she could See some things. James gave her one last half smile, and rose from his chair. He was sure he would never understand her.
Professor Turner was the farthest thing from his mind as he walked into his classroom. His students were already there, seated at the desks he had arranged. They all stared at him as he walked to the front of the room. Shoving aside his nerves, he smiled at them.
“Good morning,” he said. “I’m Professor Potter, and this is Defense Against the Dark Arts. I want to explain the class to you, but first I want to know who you are – so I’ll know who I’m talking to.” He pointed his wand at his desk. “Accio Hufflepuff third year roster!”
Several students’ eyes widened as the parchment zoomed toward him. He smiled slightly, sure that those students were his Muggle-borns. All wizarding children had seen a Summoning Charm before, even if they didn’t learn it until fourth year. It was a favorite of all mothers.
James went down the roster, trying to match the students’ names with their faces. He hoped to learn their names quickly. Once he was done with the class attendance, he placed the list on his desk again.
“Right. Now, we’re here to learn defense. From what I understand, you’ve learned quite a bit about dark creatures, correct?”
The students’ heads bobbed up and down in agreement. James nodded with them.
“That’s great. I’m glad to know that you have a strong base in defense against dark creatures. However, this year, we’re going to go a slightly different route. We’re going to learn about dark magic.”
Several students gasped. James smiled.
“I think I said that wrong. We’re going to learn how to fight dark magic – defensive spells and so on. Understand?”
The students nodded again. Some faces showed excitement, some showed relief, and a few looked nervous. James nodded.
“Good. Now, let’s start by brainstorming. Everyone find a partner.”
Slight chaos ensued as the students all scrambled to work with their friends. One group had three people, due to the uneven number of students in the class. They all chatted as they sat down again and pulled their desks together. James frowned as he watched. There had to be a better way of doing this.
“Right. I need your attention again.”
The students gradually stopped talking and shifted their attention back to James. He frowned slightly at the continued delay.
“We are going to look at four questions. You will discuss them with your partner. There is no wrong answer right now, but everyone needs an answer – we will discuss each group’s answers as a class. For your first question: What is dark magic? Talk with your partner for five minutes, then we’ll look at your answers.”
After five minutes had passed, James requested the groups’ answers. They ranged from brilliant to absurd, but James wrote each of them on the board. He then asked them to discuss the curses they knew, the defensive spells they knew and the point of learning defensive magic.
“Now,” he said at last, “what is the reason for studying defense? Why are we all here? Who can tell me?”
A timid hand went up in the middle of the room. James smiled encouragingly.
“Yes, Miss Davies?”
“We’re learning to fight You-Know-Who,” she said in a voice just above a whisper.
James flicked his wand at the board. Cara Davies’s words appeared their, shimmering slightly. She flushed at the look of pride that James gave her.
“You are absolutely right. That is the reason we’re here, everyone. Because Voldemort doesn’t discriminate.” He sighed as many students flinched at the sound of the Dark Lord’s name. “He has killed many people, and destroyed many lives. He has killed some of my own friends and family members. But we’re going to learn to fight him, because someday, somehow, Voldemort must be stopped.” He paused. “And I’m going to call him by his name, so get used to hearing it right now.” He glanced at his watch.
“We still have some time left today. Let’s start with the Disarming Spell. Notebooks out, please. We’ll start with the theory, the practice the spell itself.” He gave them a smile. “By the end of the week, I want you to be able to disarm one another. By the end of the term, I want you to be able to disarm me.”
Lily took her best knife out of the chopping block, and began rapidly slicing carrots. Every once in awhile, she liked to make dinner the Muggle way – the ways her mother had taught her when she was a little girl. She hummed to herself as she worked, remembering afternoons spent in the kitchen with her mother.
A crack spilt the air, shattering her from her dream-world. The knife fell from her hand with a clatter.
“Sirius!” she exclaimed.
“How did you know it was me?” Sirius laughed as he walked into the kitchen.
Lily gave him an exasperated smile. “Who else makes that sound when they Apparate?”
“You know my Apparition sound? I’m touched.” Sirius took a piece of carrot from the cutting board, and tossed it in his mouth.
“Touched in the head,” Lily laughed. “Stop eating my carrots, or I won’t have enough food to invite you to stay for dinner.’
“Oh, I’m getting an invitation, then?”
“As if you’d be anywhere else the night of James’s first day of school!”
“As if you’d try to keep me away,” Sirius replied with a grin.
Lily smiled. “I know how much it means to James to have you here. It means a lot to me, too. The bond that you two share is amazing.”
“He’s my brother,” Sirius said simply. “I’d do anything for him – and I’d do anything for you, Little Flower.”
Lily smiled again. “I’m glad you’re on our side, Sirius.”
Sirius dripped into a chair at the table, his cocky smile back in place. Obviously, the conversation had gotten a bit too heavy for him. “So, when will the man of the hour be home?”
“It’s the first day, so I’m not sure yet.” Lily eyed the amount of carrots she had chopped. “Is Olivia coming over as well?”
Lily frowned, and looked straight at Sirius. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
His face darkened, his features nearly a scowl. “It means that I don’t know her every move. She doesn’t report back to me every hour.”
Lily’s frown deepened. She crossed the room, and sat down at the table across from Sirius. “All right. Out with it. Tell me what the problem is.”
“Lils, I don’t know what the problem is! Everything was fine, and now . . .”
“And now?” Lily prompted.
Sirius shrugged. “Something’s different. I don’t understand it, and I don’t know how to fix it. How can I even try to fix it when I don’t know what’s wrong?”
“Did you have a fight?”
“No! I think that’s part of the problem.” He grinned sheepishly. “You know how we are. We were famous for our rows at Hogwarts. But for the past two weeks, we haven’t fought over anything. Olivia’s been upset, though. I just don’t know why.”
“Did you ask her?”
“Yes, of course. She just gave me this look, and said she didn’t want to talk about it. But we haven’t talked about anything!” He ran his hands over his face. When he lowered them, he gave Lily a hopeful look. “Do you know what’s going on with her? Has she said anything to you?”
“She hasn’t said a word to me,” Lily answered honestly. “I wish I could help you, Sirius, but this is the first I’ve heard of it.”
“It’s not your fault,” Sirius sighed. “I’ll just have to try to talk to her again, that’s all.”
A pop sounded, and Lily gave Sirius a beaming smile.
“That’s James!” She jumped up, eager to greet her husband.
“Indeed it is,” James said as he came into the kitchen. He pulled Lily close and kissed her. He pulled his head away, but kept his arms around her. “Well, Padfoot, what brings you over?”
“I came to see the professor, of course,” Sirius grinned. “I think I could use some extra help with my defensive spells.”
“You need some help, all right,” James grinned. “I’m just not sure that it’s within my area of expertise.”
Sirius laughed. “How was your first day of school?”
“Sit in here to talk,” Lily said, stepping away from James. “I want to hear everything, but I need to finish cooking.”
“It was stressful,” James said as he took the seat that Lily had vacated. “I never realized how hard just learning the students’ names would be! But I liked it – teaching. I think it got a little easier with each class.”
“Do you have Slytherins?” Sirius asked.
“Of course,” James laughed. “Who else would teach them? I only had the Slytherin first years today. They didn’t seem too awful – but they’re fist years, so they’re still afraid of everything. I have my seventh year NEWT class tomorrow morning, though, which will have Slytherins in it. That’s one of the ones I’m worried about.”
“It’ll have Gryffindors, too, right?” Sirius asked.
“Right,” James replied, exchanging a glance with Lily.
Sirius looked from one of them to the other. “All right, what am I missing?”
James sighed. “I’m just worried about teaching the seventh years, that’s all. They’re the ones who will remember me as a student.”
“So?” Sirius frowned slightly. “They’ll remember you as Head Boy. They’ll know they have to respect you.”
“I wish I could be so sure.”
“What makes you so sure they won’t respect you?”
James smiled, flushing slightly. “I had this dream last night about teaching the Gryffindor seventh years. It was basically awful. They wouldn’t listen . . . they were just disrespectful.”
“James, it was just a dream!” Sirius said bracingly. “I’m sure actually teaching them will be completely different.”
James shook his head. “Dreams are a powerful thing. They can tell you quite a bit. Don’t you remember Divination?”
“I remember the awful marks I got in it. Are you telling me you actually believe in that rubbish now?”
“I’m just saying that my dream could have meant something.”
“Or it could have meant nothing.”
“Can you two suspend the debate?” Lily asked. “Dinner’s ready.”
“Yeah, I need to save my debate skills for tomorrow,” Sirius said.
“What’s tomorrow?” Lily asked.
“Liv and I are going shopping for a wedding present for Remus and Laura.”
James looked up sharply at his friend’s tone. “Are you and Liv having problems?”
Sirius sighed. “Do you want the full story or the abridged version?”
It doesn't End! It never will...I will keep coming back for more. The books will always remain a part of who I am!
I cried, when I saw the "It all ends!" banner!!
But now I know, it never will....
Re: The Real World!
Dreams and Nightmares
And yes some dreams come true,
And yes some dreams fall through . . .
Belle, A Muppet Christmas Carol
James drew a deep breath as he left his office. This was it. With the ring of the bell, his seventh year NEWT class would begin.
He walked into the classroom as the bell was ringing. His students – twenty of them – were already seated at their desks. They had their book and quills out, and were chatting amongst themselves.
“Good morning,” James said as he shut the door.
“Good morning,” the students replied. They lapsed into silence.
He walked to the front of the room, his “game face” securely in place. It was the face he had always won when disciplining students during his days as Head Boy – the face that made it clear that he was the one in charge, and that he would not tolerate being spoken to with anything but respect.
“I am Professor Potter, and this is NEWT level Defense Against the Dark Arts,” he said. He glanced around the room. “I think I know most of you already, but let’s be sure.” He picked up his class list, and began taking role.
The students were respectfully quiet as he went over their names. He had been right about remembering them – there were only three students whose names he had forgotten. His class held ten Ravenclaws, five Gryffindors, three Slytherins and two Hufflepuffs. He wasn’t surprised by the skewed numbers; all the NEWT level classes were always Ravenclaw-heavy.
“Right,” he said once he had placed the roster back on his desk. “Before we begin, I want you to understand that this year will be a bit different than your other Defense classes. We are going to focus completely on fighting dark magic. I know that you have done some work with this in the past, but this year will take your abilities to a new level.”
A hand went up to his left. James nodded at Jacob Kent, a Ravenclaw that he remembered as being particularly studious.
“How will this affect our chances to do well on our NEWTs?”
“It will only increase them,” James assured him. “Nearly every spell, charm and counterjinx that you learn this year will show up on the NEWTs. And even more than doing well on your exams, you’ll be better prepared to defend yourself once you’ve graduated from Hogwarts, which is perhaps the most important thing of all.”
The students all nodded. They were aware of the events taking place in their world. Many of them had already lost loved ones to the war. Judging by the fires burning in their eyes, they were ready to help in the battle efforts – on which side, James wasn’t sure. He didn’t want to know. He merely wanted to prepare them for what they would encounter in the future.
“You should all know before we begin that this is not going to be an easy class,” James stated. “You will do your homework and required readings. You will come to class prepared, and you will participate. You will achieve top marks on all your assignments. If you fall behind, you will work incredibly hard to catch up. I will not go slowly to coddle you. We have a lot of material to cover, and we need to finish it before your NEWTs in the spring. If you feel that you can’t keep up, there is the door. Go ahead and leave now.”
No one moved. The twenty teenagers stared at him with wide eyes. Professor Prewett had never threatened them with difficult work like this.
“Today, we’re going to assess your abilities,” James continued. “I want to see where you are in this realm of defense. So, one by one, you are going to come to the center of the room. I am going to try to hex you – and you are going to defend yourselves.”
A collective gasp ran through the room. A girl in the center of the room looked terrified.
“Isn’t that illegal?” she gasped.
“No,” James smiled. “I’m not planning to use Unforgivable Curses on you. I’m actually not going to use anything that could do any lasting damage. Besides, you’ve been studying advanced Defense for a year already. You should be able to defend yourselves, right?”
“Of course we can,” a Slytherin sneered. “He’s just trying to scare you, Patti.”
“And you, Mr. Malfoy, can be my first victim,” James smiled, trying to keep his tone light. He wanted desperately to make this one squirm, if only for the reason that he was the younger brother of Narcissa’s husband. If only Sirius could see this . . . James quickly stopped that thought. If Sirius were in the class, he wouldn’t go nearly as easy on this cocky young man as James was about to.
Elton Malfoy nearly swaggered as he stepped into the middle of the room. James shook his head.
“You seem rather confident, Mr. Malfoy,” he said.
“I’m not worried,” Malfoy replied easily.
“That’s good,” James said. “It’s a good idea not to be too worried, but I think a healthy amount of fear can be a good thing.”
Elton laughed. “I’m not afraid of you, Professor Potter. If you hurt us, you’ll be fired.”
James smiled. “Have you spoken with Professor Dumbledore about this, then?”
“I don’t need to,” Elton replied. “I mean, we all know how it works. If a teacher –“
He was suddenly silenced as James hit him with a jelly-legs jinx. The other students gasped, then began to laugh. James removed the jinx, and gave Elton a hard look.
“Don’t be over-confident,” he said.
“You didn’t warn me!” Elton exclaimed. “I didn’t know – I wasn’t ready!”
“Do you think for a minute that the person you’re dueling in battle is going to wait for you to be ready?” James asked incredulously. “We’re preparing for war, ladies and gentlemen, not a classroom drill. I am not going to let you know when I’m going to hex you, I’m just going to do it. You need to be ready, and you need to deflect anything that I throw at you. Now, Mr. Malfoy, let’s try this again.”
An hour later, the bell rang. James smiled at his class.
“Well done, ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “We’ll work more on deflecting unfriendly spells next time. For homework, please read the chapter in your book on basic deflection spells.”
“Do we need to give you a summary?” one of the Ravenclaw girls asked.
James looked at her in surprise. “No,” he said. “We’ll work with it in class. I trust that you will read it. If you don’t, you’ll be lost next time.”
The Ravenclaws immediately wrote the homework in their planners. James grinned.
“I’ll see you on Thursday, everyone.”
He walked back to his office, still smiling. That had gone rather well – and he had been able to nearly humiliate a Malfoy. He was going to like teaching the NEWT students.
Sirius Apparated into Olivia’s flat with a crack. He looked around the empty living room with a slight frown.
“Liv?” he called.
He followed the sound of her voice to her bedroom, where she was curling her hair in front of the mirror. He smiled, and leaned in to kiss her cheek.
She gave him a slightly strained smile. “Hey.”
Sirius wanted to sigh. Apparently, things had not managed to work themselves out. He decided to try again for a civil conversation. “So, after we find Remus and Laura’s present, do you want to go out for dinner?”
Olivia looked at him in the mirror for a moment, then put down the wand she had been using to curl her hair. “Sirius, what are we doing?”
Sirius frowned. “We’re going to find a wedding present for Emus and Laura. After that, we’re potentially going out for dinner. That part is only if you want to.”
“No, I don’t mean right now.” She turned to face him. “I mean, what about us? Our relationship? Where is it going?”
Sirius looked at her blankly. “We’re together, Liv. We’re a couple. We love one another. What more do we need?”
“What more do we need?” Olivia exploded. “Is this what you’re content with, Sirius? Just being my boyfriend?”
In spite of his confusion, Sirius was trilled that she was yelling at him. They were finally going to be able to get everything out in the open. Besides, there was something about the fire that snapped in her eyes and the color that rushed to her cheeks that he absolutely loved.
“I love being your boyfriend, Liv,” he said slowly. “And I love that you’re my girlfriend.”
“Sirius. We’ve been dating since seventh year. Don’t you think it’s time that we moved on? Don’t you think it’s time that we at least talked about marriage?”
Sirius choked. “Marriage?” he squeaked. “You want to get married?”
“Yeah – someday. But we’re way too young!”
“Oh, are we really? Is that why all our friends are getting married? Because we’re too young?”
“We aren’t our friends, Liv,” Sirius said, trying to keep his temper in check.
“No,” Olivia conceded, “no, we’re not our friends. But I think that we love each other as much as Lily and James love one another, or as much as Laura and Remus love one another. I thought . . .”
“You thought what?”
“That we were headed for marriage,” she said simply, shrugging her shoulders. “If I didn’t think you were the man I would marry, why would I waste my time with you now?”
“Is that what this is to you?” Sirius yelled, completely losing control of his temper. “Is this whole relationship just a waste of time to you?”
“Sirius, that’s not what I meant!”
“Well, that’s what it sounded like!”
Olivia’s eyes began to snap fire again. “Well, you would be the expert at wasting time in relationships, wouldn’t you? You ran through more girlfriends in a month at Hogwarts than most people do in a lifetime!”
“You criticize me for my dating habits after you dated my best friend, knowing full well that he was in love with your best friend?”
Olivia flinched. “James and I have been over for years, Sirius. And I never loved him – not the way that I love you.”
“I love you, too, Liv,” Sirius said. “It’s just . . . I’m not ready to be married. Can’t you understand that?”
“No,” Olivia said coldly. “No, Sirius, I can’t. I love you, and I want to marry you. I don’t understand how you can say you love me, yet not want to marry me.”
“I never said that I don’t want to marry you,” Sirius said, an icy edge creeping into his voice. “I just said that I don’t want to now. I don’t see why you can’t respect my wishes.”
“And I don’t see why you can’t respect mine!”
Sirius slammed his open palm down on her dresser. “Damn it, Olivia!”
“Don’t talk to me that way!” Olivia spat.
“Fine,” Sirius said coldly. “I think we’re through talking for now anyway. Good night.”
“Sirius!” Olivia yelled.
But it was too late. He was gone.
James stared at the stack of essays on his desk. They were three feet of parchment each, except for the one that had been handed in by the over-achieving student who had written more. He sighed as he picked up the first one. He really needed to start assigning shorter essays.
A rapid knock sounded on his door. He looked at it blankly for a moment, trying to remember if he had an appointment with a student.
“Come in,” he called.
The door opened, revealing Sirius. James looked at him in confusion.
“What are you doing here?”
“Oh, that’s a nice way to greet your best mate.”
James grinned. “Sorry. Let me try again.” He cleared his throat. “Sirius, mate, how good of you to drop by!”
“You’re a prat, Potter,” Sirius grinned. He sat down across the desk from James. “My God, James, how long are those essays?”
“Three feet,” James replied with a grimace. “I have no one to blame but myself.”
“That’s the truth.”
James looked at his friend intently for a moment. “Why are you here, Sirius?” he asked. “I mean, it’s great to see you, but this is really unusual. Even when I worked in the Ministry, you rarely came to see me.”
Sirius sighed, and ran his hands over his face. “I came straight from Olivia’s flat.”
James glanced at his watch. “Yeah, shouldn’t you be shopping for a wedding present right now?”
“We never made it,” Sirius replied. “We had quite the argument.”
“What was it about?”
“She wants to get married, James.”
James’s eyes widened. “She said that?”
“And what did you say?”
“That we’re too young. But you and Remus ruined that one for me. Couldn’t you have waited a bit longer before marrying Lily?”
James grinned. “Not a chance. Not even for you, Padfoot.”
“Well, she threw you and Lily up to me, believe me. So, I said that we aren’t you and Lily, or Remus and Laura. I said that I wasn’t ready for marriage.”
“How did she take that?”
“The opposite of well,” Sirius said dryly.
“Where did you leave things?”
“A mess,” Sirius admitted. “Nothing is resolved, and neither of us is about to give in.” He shook his head. “I love this girl, James. I don’t want to lose her.”
“Not to take her side, but if you love her and want to be with her, why not marry her?”
“For the same reason I told her – I’m not ready. It’s true. I’m not read to be a husband. It would be awful – our marriage would fall apart before it even started. We’re far better off dating.”
“But she doesn’t agree with you?”
Sirius shook his head. “What should I do, James?”
“Make up fast,” James advised. “Remus’s wedding is in a week, and you don’t want to come to that fighting.”
A ghost of a grin flitted across Sirius’s face. “At this point, I’ll be lucky to show up with a present.”
“Does she need help?”
Lily shook her head as she stepped out of the church’s bridal room, closing the door behind her. “She has her mother and her sisters helping.”
Olivia smoothed the deep blue satin of her skirt over her hip. “Why did she need us here so early again?”
“We’re bridesmaids,” Lily laughed. “It’s our job to be here early.”
“She went to give her purse to Aidan.”
Olivia nodded. “Should we go back inside?”
“Let’s give them a few minutes to make sure she’s dressed,’ Lily grinned. “They’re going to need maneuvering room to get that gown on her!”
Olivia grinned. “I think it’s even bigger than yours was!”
“Hey! I thought you loved my wedding gown!”
“Oh, I did. I’m just saying that it was a lot of dress.”
Lily shook her head. “Are you saying you won’t have much dress when you get married?”
Olivia bit her lower lip. “You say that like I’m getting married.”
“Oh, Liv . . .”
Olivia shook her head. “Sirius doesn’t want to marry me, Lils.”
“That’s not quite right,” Lily contradicted. “He said he’s just not ready to get married now.”
“I don’t see the difference.”
“It’s a huge difference! He does want to marry you, Liv, just not yet.”
“Well, he could at least ask me to marry him! Then we’d be a bit closer. It could be a long engagement.”
“Engagements can be broken, you know,” Lily said softly. “Just because you’re engaged doesn’t mean you’re going to get married. And, for as long as you two have been together and as much as you love one another, I’d say you’re pretty close right now.”
Olivia looked at her with sorrow written plainly on her face. “I don’t know, Lils. Everything’s so confused right now.”
Lily opened her mouth to ask Olivia what she meant, but was cut off as a pair of arms encircled her from behind. She smiled at Olivia, and leaned against her captor’s chest.
“How did you know it was me?” James asked, turning her around to face him.
Lily rolled her eyes. “Who else does things like that to me?” She smiled. “You look fantastic in that tux.”
“You look quite gorgeous yourself, love.”
Olivia grinned mischievously. “I’m wearing the same dress as she is, James. Do I look gorgeous, too?”
James laughed. “Of course you do.”
Lily looked up at James with a smile. “Not that I’m not happy to see you, but shouldn’t you be keeping Remus calm right now?”
“Sirius is on it,” James said easily. “To be honest, I’m supposed to be looking for the ring bearer. Have you seen him? Short little guy in a tux? About five years old?”
Lily laughed. “You lost the ring bearer?
“Technically, Peter was supposed to be watching him,” James grinned. “But once the little guy ran off, I volunteered to help find him.”
Olivia shook her head. “Well, I know two guys I’ll never ask to babysit my children.”
Lily laughed again. “Hey, one of those guys is going to be the father of my children!”
“I guess you’re never going to be away from your children, then,” Olivia laughed.
“Shhh,” James whispered.
“Are you insulted?” Olivia asked, raising her eyebrows in surprise.
“No, I think I see him! I’ll see you girls later, all right?”
Lily and Olivia watched him hurry off after the rogue ring bearer, then turned to each other. As soon as their eyes met, they both burst into laughter.
“Come on,” Olivia said, taking Lily’s hand. “Let’s go see how Laura’s doing with that dress.”
“Are you ready for this?”
Remus nodded, and straightened his tie.
James grinned as he looked at his friend’s reflection in the mirror. “You look a little nervous, mate.”
Remus nodded again. “I am nervous. This is the rest of my life.”
James raised his eyebrows in an unasked question.
“Yes,” Remus said. “Yes, I want to marry her. I love her.” He turned to look James in the eye. “Laura is my life.”
“Then there’s no reason to be nervous.”
“Yes, because you were the picture of calm before your wedding,” Sirius laughed. “And I seem to remember us having a similar conversation then.”
“Well, now I speak from experience,” James grinned. “And now, as the old married man of the group, I must offer some advice.”
“Oh, boy,” Sirius grinned. “This should be good.”
“Now, I’m trying to be serious here,” James laughed. He calmed down, and turned to face the nervous groom. “They say that this is the greatest day of your life, Remus, but I disagree.”
Remus raised his eyebrows. “What is, then?”
“Tomorrow,” James replied. “The morning after the wedding, when you wake up and realize that she’s your wife forever. That’s the greatest day.”
“Would that be the morning after you’ve shagged her all night, and realized that you can shag her all night, every night for the rest of your lives?” Sirius grinned.
“Padfoot, you really know how to ruin a moment,” James laughed. “That’s a benefit, too, Moony, but not the one I was talking about.”
“I know what you were trying to say,” Remus smiled. “And thank you.”
The door opened, and Peter appeared.
“It’s time, guys. Let’s go.”
Remus took a deep breath, and straightened his shoulders.
“I guess I have to live through today to get to tomorrow.”
Laura looked around the bridal room as she absently fingered the ends of her veil. It had been her mother’s, and her older sisters had worn it before her. After today, it would be carefully packed away, waiting to be worn again when her younger sister was married.
Hannah was with her, along with her other sisters and her friends. They would all stand up as her witnesses when she married Remus. She looked at her older sisters, and at Lily. Had then been as nervous on their wedding days as she was now?
A knock sounded on the door, and it opened slowly. Laura’s oldest brother, George, peeked around the corner.
“Is everyone decent?”
“Yes, you can come in,” Cassie, one of Laura’s sisters, replied.
George stepped into the room. “I came for Mum. I need to seat her now.”
An unexpected panic filled Laura. She didn’t want her mother to leave her yet. Mrs. Bond nodded at her son.
“Can you wait a moment? I need a minute with my daughter.” She crossed the room to stand in front of Laura, and took her daughter’s face in her hands. “Oh, Laura. My little girl. You are a beautiful bride, and you are going to make a wonderful wife. And, Remus is going to be a wonderful husband.”
Laura smiled. “I love him, Mummy.”
“I know you do,” Mrs. Bond smiled. “And we all love him, too. We’re so glad that you brought him into our family. You father and I are proud to call him our son-in-law.”
“Thank you,” Laura whispered, fighting back tears.
“We’re proud of you, Laura,” Mrs. Bond continued. “We’re proud of the powers you have, and the way you’ve chosen to use them. We’re proud of the woman you’ve become.”
“I love you, Mummy,” Laura managed to utter. She swallowed hard, and wiped at the tears that were now falling.
“We love you, baby,” Mrs. Bond replied, blinking back tears of her own. She took out a tissue, and wiped Laura’s tears away. “Go fix your makeup while George seats me.”
“Okay,” Laura laughed.
Mrs. Bond touched her cheek again, and kissed her forehead. Then she left, following her son out of the room.
Laura glanced at her reflection in the mirror and gasped. “Help! I’m a mess!”
Lily, Dana, Olivia and Hannah glanced at one another. Hannah nodded.
“Girls, let’s let Dana help her. She’s the best at quick beauty fixes,” she said, leading her sisters to the door.
Cassie rolled her eyes. “If you want to do . . . whatever it is that you do without us, just say so.”
Hannah laughed. “Well, there are these laws, and –“
“We know,” Cassie laughed. “We’ll go outside. You girls make Laura presentable again.”
As soon as the door was shut behind them, the girls pulled out their wands. Laura eyed them a bit dubiously.
“Just close your eyes,” Dana advised. “It’ll all be over in a minute.”
Remus closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He felt a gentle pressure on his shoulder, and turned to his father with a smile. This was why he had chosen his father to be his best man. He had been one of the most supportive people in Remus’s life since his birth. As much as he loved and trusted his friends, his father was the one man he had complete, absolute trust in.
Strains of music began, and the bridesmaids began to make their way down the aisle. Hannah grinned at Remus, who winked back. He could hardly wait to call her his little sister.
Then Laura appeared in the back of the church, on her father’s arm, and all thoughts of Hannah flew out of Remus’s mind. The only thing his eyes could see or his mind could focus on was Laura.
She looked like an angel in her white gown, with her lacy veil obscuring her face. As she drew closer, he could see her broad smile, and smiled even wider in return. All doubts, all nerves were gone. This was right.
The music stopped as she reached Remus. Her father kissed her cheek, and shook Remus’s hand, then joined their hands together. Remus looked down into Laura’s misty eyes, and felt tears pressing the backs of his own. This was it. This was their moment.
Their eyes remained locked throughout the entire ceremony. Laura couldn’t have taken her eyes away from Remus’s even if she had wanted to. It was as if he held her with some invisible force. It was the same force that kept them together everyday: Love.
They both cried as they repeated their vows. No one who heard the emotion in their voices as they swore their undying love could leave the ceremony unaffected. James lifted his eyes from the bride and groom to look at Lily. She looked at him and smiled, blinking back tears. He smiled back, realizing anew exactly how much he loved her.
Like Lily and James, Remus and Laura had elected to have a Muggle wedding. Laura had chosen the reception hall and DJ because her siblings had used them for their weddings, and highly recommended them. Remus had accepted her decisions, conceding his limited knowledge of the Muggle world.
Before dinner began at the reception, the DJ handed Mr. Lupin the microphone. Sirius leaned closer to James and Peter.
“Do you think he knows how to use that thing?”
Peter laughed, and James rolled his eyes.
“Probably, since his mother was a Muggle,” James stated.
Peter laughed again. Sirius grinned as he watched Mr. Lupin easily turn on the mike.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I only need a moment of your time,” he promised. “I just want to say how proud I am of my son. Remus has overcome many obstacles in his life, and he’s had to make many difficult decisions. As parents, we only want the best for our children. We want them to suffer as little as possible.
“I know my son has suffered. But even if I had the power to do so, I don’t think I would change anything about his life. The suffering he has endured has made him stronger. It has made him the person he is today. It’s made him the man that Laura fell in love with.
“Laura, I want to thank you.” Mr. Lupin raised his glass in her direction. “Thank you for loving Remus, and for making him so happy. Thank you for coming into our family, and for sharing your love, your strength, and your vitality with us. Our lives are richer for having you in them.
“Remus and Laura, I wish you all the happiness in the world. I wish you strength for the harder times, and laughter when laughter seems impossible. Rely on one another for your happiness, your strength and you laughter. Your love has brought you this far. Let it take you through the rest of your lives.”
Tears stood in Remus’s eyes as he stood to hug his father. He barely heard his guests applauding as he father held him tightly.
“I love you, Dad.”
“I love you, Remus,” Mr. Lupin replied. “And I meant what I said. I am so, so very proud of you.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming our bridal party to the dance floor!”
Sirius smiled, and went in search of Olivia, his partner for the wedding. He found her just as the DJ announced their names; they walked out onto the dance floor together. Sirius cringed at the cold smile Olivia gave him.
“Would it kill you to at least look happy?” he asked. “This is for Remus and Laura, you know.”
“They’re the only reason I’m dancing with you,” Olivia replied in a syrupy-sweet voice.
“Liv, we seriously need to talk about this.”
“About what?” she asked, her eyes wide with feigned innocence.
“This!” Sirius exclaimed. “This rift that’s developed between us! We need to talk it out.”
“I don’t see what more there is to talk about.”
Sirius looked deeply into her eyes. “So this is it, then? We’re going to end our whole relationship?”
The song ended, and Olivia dropped her arms from their position around Sirius’s neck. She turned to walk away, but Sirius caught her arm.
“Don’t you walk away from me, Olivia. You’re not going anywhere until we’ve talked this out.”
“Do we have to do this now?”
“Yes,” Sirius said through clenched teeth. “Come with me.”
He led her out of the ballroom, out of the building, into the cool evening. He stopped outside the door, and dropped her hand.
“All right,” he said. “Let’s talk.”
Olivia sighed. “Sirius, I don’t know what you want me to say. It’s like I said before – I think we need to move forward with our relationship. Obviously, you don’t agree.”
“I want our relationship to continue,” he said. “I love you, Olivia. I don’t want to lose you.”
“You don’t want to marry me, either.”
“Not right now,” he conceded.
Tears gathered in her eyes. “If we don’t want the same thing from this relationship, it’s not going to work, Sirius.”
“Are you saying . . .?”
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, her tears spilling over. “If we’re not in the same place, this has to be over.” She stood on tiptoe to kiss his lips. “Good bye, Sirius.” She turned to go back inside.
“Olivia, wait,” Sirius said, his voice cracking. Was she really leaving him?
She stopped, and turned to face him again. “Yes?”
He drew a shaky breath. “I love you.”
“I know,” she said, giving him the saddest smile he had ever seen. “I love you, too.”
She turned again, and walked back into the building. She tried her best to remain calm as she made her way to the ladies’ room. Once inside, the tears began in earnest. She clutched the sink to stay on her feet, letting the sobs shake her body.
Sirius hadn’t moved from his spot outside. He stared up at the starry sky, feeling the tears press against the backs of his eyes. He blinked rapidly. He couldn’t cry. Not here. Not now.
The door opened again, and James and Peter came out, both gasping with laughter. They stopped short when they saw Sirius.
“Padfoot, you missed it!” Peter exclaimed. “Laura’s family has this tradition . . .” His voice died in his throat at the sight of Sirius’s anguished face. “What happened?”
Sirius just looked at them for a moment, then drew a shaky breath. “Olivia has decided that we’re not in the same place anymore.” He cleared his throat, and blinked several times. “We broke up.”
“Oh, man, Sirius, I’m sorry,” Peter said.
“Are you all right, mate?” James asked.
Sirius shook his head, and sank down to sit on the sidewalk. He rested his elbows on his knees, and buried his face in his hands.
James and Peter looked at one another, then sat down on either side of him. The three friends sat in silence as the minutes ticked past. Between friends, words aren’t always necessary.
Thrice Defied next
It doesn't End! It never will...I will keep coming back for more. The books will always remain a part of who I am!
I cried, when I saw the "It all ends!" banner!!
But now I know, it never will....
Last edited by Vig; April 29th, 2008 at 8:22 am.
Re: The Real World!
Why weren’t we able
to see the signs that we missed?
And try and turn the tables?
“ALEXANDER! Watch what you’re doing!”
Olivia jumped at Moody’s voice, and gripped her wand more tightly. “Sorry.”
“Don’t apologize to me,” Moody growled. “If this had happened in the field, you’d have to apologize to the coworker you killed!”
“Moody, it’s just a practice drill,” Frank said in an attempt to smooth the situation over.
“What happens in practice will happen in the real thing,” Moody said. “And that dummy just lost its head! You’re supposed to go for the captor, Alexander, not the one who has been captured!”
“I know that,” Olivia said, trying to keep her tone even.
“I know you do,” Moody said. “If you didn’t, you would have been out of Auror training a long time ago. Now you are within months of becoming a full-fledged Auror. This is not the time to get sloppy. You need to keep your head on straight.”
“Yes, sir,” Olivia said.
Moody gave her a hard look, and stalked away to bark at another Auror trainee. Olivia sighed, and pushed her hair out of her eyes. She wasn’t thinking straight, and she knew the reason why. It was the same reason she hadn’t been able to concentrate on anything since Remus and Laura’s wedding.
She glanced across the room as Sirius accepted advice from Longbottom about how to refine his skills. She sighed again. She missed him – terribly. But she couldn’t take him back. It just wouldn’t work.
She needed desperately to talk to someone about the whole situation. But talking to Lily, Dana or Laura seemed silly – of course they would all want her to get back together with Sirius. She needed someone who would be on her side. But who could she talk to?
She smiled as the idea came to her, and glanced at her watch. Only an hour to go, and then she had a visit to make.
Olivia smiled sadly. “Hi, Mum.”
“What are you doing here?” Mrs. Alexander hugged her daughter close. “It’s wonderful to see you!” She pulled back, holding Olivia at arm’s length. “You look pale, darling. Are you feeling all right?”
To her surprise, Olivia burst into tears.
“Olivia!” Mrs. Alexander exclaimed. “What’s wrong, sweetheart?”
“Everything,” Olivia sobbed as her mother pulled her close again. “Everything’s wrong, Mummy.”
Mrs. Alexander finally calmed her enough that she could talk sensibly, and led her to the table. She waved her wand, and mugs of tea appeared before each of them.
“Now,” she said, “tell me what’s happened.”
“It’s Sirius,” Olivia managed to sigh before the tears began to fall again.
Mrs. Alexander’s eyes narrowed. “What has he done to you?”
“Nothing,” Olivia replied, brushing her tears away. “We broke up.”
“Really?” Mrs. Alexander said, her eyebrows shooting up. “When?”
“At Remus and Laura’s wedding,” Olivia said. “We had been having problems for awhile, and everything sort of came crashing down that night.”
“Olivia, I’m sorry that you’re so upset,” Mrs. Alexander said, reaching across to put her hand over Olivia’s. “You know that I would do anything to take away your pain. But, darling, I think this is for the best. Sirius Black was trouble from the very beginning, and he’s just not good enough for you.”
“He’s a good person, Mum,” Olivia said tiredly. “He’s just . . . In the end, we just couldn’t make it work.”
“Do you want to tell me what happened?”
“He didn’t want to get married,” she said simply.
“And you do?”
“Oh, yes,” Olivia sighed. “I love him, Mum. I want to spend the rest of my life with him. But he said he’s not ready – and I’m not ready to wait.” Tears threatened to fall again. “I love him, but I can’t be with him right now.”
“Oh, Olivia,” Mrs. Alexander sighed. “There are so many men who would love to marry you. There’s no sense in saying that you love the one who won’t.”
“But I do love him, Mum.”
“You left him, Olivia. Even if he did love you before – and I can’t say that I trust that he did – there’s no way he will anymore.”
“He did love me,” Olivia said quickly, hot tears tracing patterns down her cheeks. “I know he loved me – and he may still! If he hadn’t loved me, there’s no way he would have . . .” She trailed off, and glared at her mother. “I came here for support, not to have to defend Sirius again. I know how you and Dad felt about him, but I thought maybe you could back off attacking him now that I’ve left him.” She stood to her feet. “I’m sorry that I was wrong about that.”
“Olivia, wait, sit down.”
“No,” Olivia said. “I’ve had enough.”
She Disapparated, leaving her mother alone in the kitchen.
James shuffled stacks of parchment across his desk. Maybe if he started cleaning it, he could postpone the inevitable task of grading the fifth years’ essays.
His fireplace sprang to life, and he looked up in surprise. This was an odd time for Lily to come to visit, and he knew she was the only one who knew his password.
To his surprise, Lily didn’t appear in his grate. A thud sounded as someone reached his password barrier. He raised his eyebrows. Maybe Dumbledore was right – they did need all the extra security measures. He stood to his feet and picked up his wand, debating whether or not he should call for help.
“Blood hell!” came from the fireplace. “James! Are you in there? What’s your bloody password?”
“Sirius?” James asked incredulously.
“Yes! Now give me the bloody password so I can get in!”
“How do I know you’re really Sirius?” James asked, his eyes narrowing.
“Has Moody affected your brain? Of course I’m Sirius!”
“Answer this question for me – Who figured out Remus’s condition?”
“Peter and I did, you prat. Now let me in!”
James put his wand back on his desk. “The password is February.”
Sirius repeated the password, and appeared in the fireplace. He glared at James as he dusted off his robes.
“What kind of security is that? Anyone could figure that password out. Everyone knows you and Lily got married in February.”
“You didn’t figure it out. Besides, we change the passwords once a week,” James replied. He sat down behind his desk again. “So, what brings you to Hogwarts today?”
“Olivia,” Sirius said, sitting down across from James.
“Did you talk to her?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Sirius replied. “She won’t even look at me in class. It’s like I don’t exist to her.”
“Have you tried -?”
“Of course not,” Sirius cut in. “I’m not about to go begging her to take me back. She’s being ridiculous about this whole thing. If she would just realize that we’re not ready to get married, we could get back together. But as long as she only wants to get married, we’re stuck the way we are.”
“So you’re not willing to talk to her?”
“I am – if she’s willing to talk to me.”
James ran his hand through his hair. “I don’t know what to tell you, Padfoot. Lily and I didn’t have problems like this – and I don’t think my other Hogwarts romances count as real ‘couple’ experience.”
“Maybe that’s my problem, too,” Sirius sighed. “I want to be with her, Prongs, but I don’t have a clue how to fix this.”
“I say wait, then,” James said. “There’s no sense in try to talk to her if you don’t know what to say.”
“Yeah, I’ll probably just end up making it worse,” Sirius grinned. “I just never thought it would end this way, you know? I always sort of thought she was the girl for me.”
“So did I,” James admitted. “I guess it’s like Lily always says about stuff like this – if it was meant to be, it’ll happen.”
“And if not?” Sirius asked.
“You have to learn to live without her.”
“Is Lily Potter in?”
“She’s in her office,” the receptionist replied, jerking her head back to indicate Lily’s closed office door. “Is she expecting you?”
Olivia smiled, and shook her head. “It’s a surprise.”
The receptionist looked at her dubiously. “Mrs. Potter doesn’t receive unexpected visitors. Would you like to make an appointment to meet with her?”
“I just wanted to have lunch with her,” Olivia said, feeling a bit annoyed.
“You wanted a lunch meeting, then?” the receptionist asked, pulling out a date book.
“No!” Olivia exclaimed. “I’m a friend of Lily’s! I just wanted to see if she had time for lunch today!”
Lily’s office door opened, and she walked out. A smile lit her face when she saw Olivia.
“Liv! What brings you over here?”
“You know her, Mrs. Potter?” the receptionist asked.
“Yes, Olivia is one of my best friends,” Lily affirmed. “From now on, please give her the same access as James, Sirius, Remus and Laura.” She glanced at her watch. “Did you want to go get lunch?”
“I’d love to,” Olivia replied.
“Just let me get my purse,” Lily said. She walked back into her office for the bag, and then knocked on Minnie’s door. She pushed it open without waiting for a reply, and stuck her head in the room.
“Hey,” Minnie greeted her.
“I’m going to grab lunch,” Lily said. “Olivia’s here, so we’re going out somewhere in the area. Do you want to come?”
“No, I’m going to stay here to work on something,” Minnie replied distractedly.
“Can I bring you something, then?”
“No, I’m fine . . .” She looked up from her desk with an odd expression on her face. “Just hurry back, all right? I really need to discuss something with you.”
“Do you want to talk now?”
“No, it can wait . . . just hurry.”
Lily nodded. “I’ll see you within an hour. Tell Dorcas where I am if she asks.”
Lily looked at her friend again, then backed out of her office, closing the door behind her. She was still wearing a puzzled expression when she made it back to Olivia.
“Everything all right?” Olivia asked.
“Aside from that being the oddest conversation Minnie and I have ever had, yes,” Lily replied.
Olivia grinned. “And knowing the two of you, that’s saying something.”
Lily laughed. “I guess I’ll have to allow that one.” She turned to the receptionist. “I’ll be out for about an hour. Minnie already knows.”
The woman nodded. “See you in an hour, then.”
Olivia followed Lily through the maze of hallways leading away from her office. When she thought they were far enough away, she giggled.
“What’s with the security dog?”
“Oh, Peg’s harmless,” Lily smiled. “She gives all our visitors a hard time. Because of our work, we have to be careful about who comes into the office – especially now, when Minnie and I are working on all the Death Eater stuff. Peg has a list of people for each of us who are allowed in without question.”
“And yours is just the guys and Laura?”
“Well, they’re the only ones who ever visit me at work. James was on the list from day one, of course. Laura went on quickly, too, since I see her here all the time. She’s always in giving statements from her office. Remus and Sirius had to go through the same thing you did.”
Despite her best attempts not to show emotion, Olivia’s face changed when she heard Sirius’s name. Lily noticed in an instant.
“Olivia, why can’t you just go talk to him?”
“I can’t, Lils.”
“What do you mean? Of course you can!”
“What good will it do? What will it change?”
They made their way back to street level. Lily led Olivia across the street to her favorite café. The girls were seated quickly, and placed their orders.
“Now,” Lily said, folding her hands in front of her on the table, “you are going to tell me exactly what’s going on with you and Sirius. And don’t even try to tell me that’s not the reason you came to have lunch with me today. We both know that you need to talk, and we both know that I’m going to listen.”
Olivia smiled. “How do you know me so well?”
“Being friends for nearly a decade will do that for you,” Lily smiled. “Please, Liv, tell me what’s going on. Let me help you, if I can.”
“All right,” Olivia said slowly. “But before I start, I need you to promise me something.”
“Please try to be as impartial as possible.”
“Liv, you know –“
“I know that you’re one of my best friends, yes,” Olivia interrupted. “I know that you are always there for me, and that you always support me. But I also know that Sirius is another of your best friends. I know that he and James are closer than brothers. I know that it’s going to be very hard for you, because you want us back together. You want us to be happy like you and James.” She sighed. “But we aren’t you and James.”
“I know that, sweetie. I don’t expect you and Sirius to be the same as James and I. You are very different people from us.”
“Exactly,” Olivia replied. She drew a deep breath. “Well, you know that we’re broken up. And you know that that was my decision.”
Lily shook her head. “I still can’t believe that you did that.”
“Because before the wedding, you were talking about wanting to marry him, and after the wedding, it was over between you. I just don’t understand how you can go from wanting to marry someone to not even wanting to date him.”
“I still want to marry him, Lils,” Olivia said softly.
Lily’s eyes widened. “What?”
“I love him,” Olivia said, smiling sadly. “Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? I love him and I want to marry him, yet I broke up with him.”
“Liv, why? Why on earth would you put yourself and Sirius through all this if you still love him?”
“Because he doesn’t want to marry me,” she said simply.
“No,” she said slowly, “no, he said just not yet.”
Lily looked at her for a moment. “Wait. Let me make sure I’ve got all this. You love Sirius. You want to marry Sirius. Sirius wants to marry you – just not yet. But, sometime in the future, he’s all for marrying you. Yet you still broke up with him?”
“Yeah, that’s pretty much it.”
“Well, you’re going to have to forgive me for being a bit confused.”
Olivia gave her an accusatory look. “You’re taking his side.”
“No, I’m taking your relationship’s side,” Lily argued. “Liv, can you honestly tell me that you can see yourself marrying someone else?”
To Lily’s surprise, Olivia’s eyes filled with tears. “I love Sirius, Lily. No, of course I can’t see myself marrying anyone else. And I know that he loves me – at least, I think he does. But we just can’t be together right now.”
“Liv, you’re both miserable! Why don’t you just try to talk this out? I’m sure you can make it right!”
Olivia shook her head, letting a single tear fall. “Right now, we can’t. Maybe someday . . . I just can’t do it now, Lils. I’m not going to change my mind about this, and I don’t think he’s going to change his.”
“But if he’s the one you want to marry, can’t you just date him until he’s ready?”
“The ball is in his court now. He knows what I want. He has to come to me to fix this.”
Lily shook her head. “You and Sirius are the two most stubborn people I know. No wonder you fell in love.”
Olivia smiled sadly. “No wonder indeed.”
Exactly one hour later, Lily rushed into Minnie’s office. She dropped down into a chair, and brushed her long, red hair back from her face.
“Sorry that took so long,” she said a bit breathlessly. “Liv is in a bit of a crisis.”
“That’s fine,” Minnie replied. She waved her wand to close the door. “Lil, we need to talk.”
Lily frowned. “What about him?”
Minnie drew a deep breath. “I’ve been looking over our research, and I don’t think we have enough to prove that he’s a Death Eater.”
“What?” Lily cried. “But after all the research, all the interviews – we did it all for nothing?”
“I wouldn’t say that.”
“I think we still can prove it.”
“How? You just said . . .” Lily frowned.
“I know. But I’ve thought of a way to prove it. I want us to track him. I want him to lead us to a Death Eater meeting.”
Lily gasped. “You want us to go to a Death Eater meeting?”
“We’ll go undercover,” Minnie affirmed. “What better way is there to collect information?”
“Yeah, it’s going to be informative, but it’s incredibly dangerous!” Lily said. “Min, do you have any idea what we’d be getting ourselves into? If we’re discovered, we won’t just be up against some Death Eaters, we’ll be fighting Voldemort.”
“I know,” Minnie said. “But, Lil, this is the best way for us to do our job!”
Lily shook her head. “I don’t know. Is this job work risking our lives?”
“The job?” Minnie repeated. “No, it’s not. But defeating them is, isn’t it? Isn’t that what you do every day with the Order of the Phoenix?”
Lily looked at her for a long minute. “You’re right. It is what I do. But, Minnie, I never wanted to drag you into that. It was my decision to join, and it’s my life that I risk. I can’t risk yours, too.”
Minnie shrugged. “It’s too late now,” she said simply. “You’re not dragging me or forcing me, Lils, this is something I want to do.” She shrugged. “So, what do you say? Shall we do it?”
Lily realized exactly how serious her friend was. Minnie understood the risks, and was willing to take them. Lily slowly nodded. “Let’s do it.”
Minnie’s face lit up. “Really? You want to do it?”
“I do,” Lily said with determination. “If we can make this work, we’ll be able to save so many lives. Because if we go in there, Minnie, we’re taking out far more than just Rodolphus Lestrange.”
A hint of fear crept into Minnie’s eyes. “What do you want us to do, Lily?”
“I want to destroy them,” Lily said simply. “I want to destroy them before they can do to anyone else’s family what they did to mine.”
“Lil, I don’t think . . .”
“Not then,” Lily said quickly. “I don’t want the two of us to wage war on them while we’re there. But I want to be able to take enough information back to the Order that we’ll be able to end this once and for all.” She sat up straighter in her chair. “Where shall we begin?”
“We need to put a tracking charm on Lestrange,” Minnie said. “You’ve always been better at Charms than me; will you do it?”
“Of course,” Lily replied. She frowned slightly, and looked off into space, searching her memory for the appropriate charm. “We’re going to need something pretty powerful, though. Who knows where he’ll go?” She tapped her fingertip against her lips. “We need . . . we need . . .” Her face suddenly lit up as she remembered lines spreading like spider webs across a piece of parchment. “I’ll be right back!” She sprang out of her seat.
“Where are you going?” Minnie cried.
“To get help from the master!” Lily flung over her shoulder as she ran back to her own office.
She threw open the bottom drawer of her desk, and picked up a small bag. She grabbed a handful of power from the bag, and threw it into her fireplace.
“James Potter’s office, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!”
“We’ll get our essays back tomorrow, right?”
James smiled patiently. “Yes, Nicole, I’ll have them ready tomorrow.”
“I’m sorry to bother you, Professor, but this our OWL year, and I want to make sure that my essay is at least at that level. You do grade them at OWL level, don’t you?”
“I have since the first day of class,” James replied. “And when have I not given you an essay back the next day?”
“You always do,” Nicole smiled. “But I worry . . . I really would feel better if I knew my grade.”
“Your work is always excellent,” James said. “I’m sure this essay won’t be any different.” He glanced at his watch. “You’d better hurry, or you’ll be late for your next lesson.”
“Can I come back later today to see if you have my essay done?”
James laughed. “Sure. I’ll mark yours first.”
She grinned. “Thanks, Professor Potter!”
“You’re welcome,” James replied, opening the door to his office.
Nicole rushed off to her next class, clutching her stack of books. James turned, and stepped into his office.
He stopped short, and a slow smile spread across his face as he saw the person sitting behind his desk. He stepped closer, putting his books down on a shelf as he crossed the room.
“Well, well,” he smiled. “What brings you over this way?”
Lily smiled. “Would you believe that I just wanted to see you?”
“I’d like to,” James said, leaning down to kiss her. “However, common sense intervenes. You would never leave work in the middle of the day without a good reason. So, what might that reason be?”
“Well,” Lily smiled, “I needed a criminal mastermind, and you were the first person I thought of.”
“Hey, now,” James laughed, “whatever you may have heard, I gave it up when I became a professor.”
“But, I’m sure there are still things you remember how to do.”
“I can remember seeing a certain map . . .” Lily said slowly
“Lil, Filch confiscated that map. I wish I could show it to you again, but I don’t have it, and there’s no way for me to get it, unless I want to lose my job.”
“I don’t want that map,” Lily replied. “I want you to teach me how to do tracking charms like the ones you used to make it.”
James raised an eyebrow. “What do you need a charm like that for?”
“Minnie and I want to track Rodolphus Lestrange,” Lily replied.
“Why do you need to track him?”
“We want him to lead us to the Death Eaters so we can uncover more information.”
“Are you two insane?” James exclaimed. “You can’t do that! Do you realize how dangerous that is?”
“Yes,” Lily said evenly, looking James straight in the eye. “I’ve fought every battle with you, James. I know what this means. But, by doing this, I can make sure that no one else has to battle this evil ever again. Please, James, help me. Teach me how to do this.”
James drew a deep breath, and exhaled slowly, running his hand through his hair. “All right,” he said slowly. “I’ll teach you, but I have a condition.”
“Name it,” Lily said with a gleeful smile.
“When you go in there, I’m going with you.”
“What?” Lily cried. “No way, James. I’m not letting you –“
“Risk my life?” James finished. “What makes you think I want to let you risk yours? You said it yourself, Lil – we’ve fought every battle together. We’re not going to stop now.”
Lily looked deeply into his eyes. “All right,” she said at last. “If I’m going to do this, I want you there beside me.”
“Good,” James smiled. He kissed her. “We have a deal?”
“We have a deal,” she smiled, reaching up to kiss him again.
“And we’re ready for action,” Lily said as she walked into Minnie’s office the next morning.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Minnie asked, putting down her mug of coffee.
Lily laid a piece of parchment on her friend’s desk. “This will show us where Rodolphus Lestrange is at any point in time, and tell us where that is, as well as identify those around him. It’s password protected, so not just anyone can use it.”
Minnie looked from the parchment to Lily in disbelieve. “Are you making this up as you go along?”
Lily smiled. “Watch.” She took out her wand, and touched the parchment with it. “I solemnly swear that I want to destroy Voldemort.”
“That’s the password?”
“So we have to say his name?” Minnie had become accustomed to hearing Lily use the name, but wasn’t quite comfortable with using it herself.
“Cuts down the number of people who will figure it out, doesn’t it?” Lily smiled. “Watch this – it’s the best part!”
Ink lines spread across the top of the parchment, and formed themselves into the words “The Daily Prophet Offices.” Tiny dots appeared, each labeled with a name. Lily’s eyes swept across the parchment until they fell on the red dot.
“There he is,” she said, touching the parchment. “He’s right in his office.”
Minnie raised eyes the size of saucers to meet Lily’s. “This is bloody brilliant! How did you do it? I’ve never seen anything like this before!”
Lily grinned. “Well, I must confess, I had some help. It’s actually a more sophisticated version of a map of Hogwarts that James, Sirius, Remus and Peter made while we were in school.”
“They made something like this at Hogwarts?”
“Yeah, but it only showed the castle and the grounds. This will change location with Rodolphus, and let us know where he is at all times.”
Minnie shook her head. “Those four were far too intelligent for their own good.”
“You don’t know the half of it,” Lily muttered, seeing in her mind’s eye three boys transform into animals in a dormitory. “I did have to make a deal with James to get him to agree to help me with this, though.”
“Do I even want to know?” Minnie grinned.
“No, it’s nothing like that,” Lily laughed. “I just had to promise that he could come to the Death Eater meeting with us.”
Minnie’s eyebrows shot up. “You told him?”
“He wanted to know why I need this map,” Lily said. “When I told him, he pretty much went crazy – he said he wasn’t letting me do this without him. And he had a point – I wouldn’t let him do this without me, either.”
Minnie sighed. “Well, I guess I need to tell Adam, then – you know, extend the invitation for him to come along, too. If he finds out about this, and that James went and I never told him, he’ll kill me.”
A knock sounded on the door. Lily grabbed her wand, and touched it to the parchment again.
Minnie shook her head in amazement as the lines of the map disappeared. “Come in!”
The door opened, and Dorcas stepped into the office.
“Good, you’re both here,” she said, closing the door behind her. “I’ve just received intelligence suggesting that the next Death Eater meeting will be tonight or tomorrow, if you’re still up for some undercover work. I didn’t get the location, though, so you’ll have to find that out somehow.”
“We’re on it,” Lily replied.
“You still want to do it, then?” Dorcas asked, looking back and forth between them. “This is very serious, girls, and I don’t want to force you into it . . .”
Lily and Minnie exchanged a glance, and nodded.
“We’ll be there.”
James, Lily, Minnie and Adam sat at the Potters’ kitchen table. They each had a cup of tea, which they occasionally took absent-minded sips from. All four of them had centered their attention on the piece of parchment in the middle of the table.
“How long can he stay in that house with Bella?” James asked, scrunching up his face. “I could barely handle the amount of her that I saw in a day at Hogwarts, and he actually married her?”
“You should like Sirius,” Lily smiled.
“He’d be glad to hear it,” James grinned.
“Someone else is coming in!” Adam exclaimed. He leaned over to read the names next to the new dot. “Barty Crouch? As in the Head of Magical Law Enforcement?”
“It can’t be,” Minnie said, leaning closer. “Could the map be wrong?”
“No chance,” James said firmly. “The map doesn’t have the ability to lie. It can’t show anything other than what’s there.”
“Then how -?”
“They’re gone!” Adam exclaimed, cutting Minnie off.
Immediately after the three dots had disappeared, the map wiped itself blank. A moment passed, and then it began to redraw itself. This time, it showed a ballroom of an abandoned house. Almost innumerable names began to appear, forming a circle.
“We couldn’t read all of these if we tried,” Adam said.
“We only need two, and they’re color-coded,” James replied. “The red – it’s right there – is Lestrange. And the green . . .”
“Is Voldemort,” Lily finished, touching the green ink. She shivered slightly, and pulled her hand back.
“That’s all we need,” James said as a new dot labeled “Peter Pettigrew” appeared. Without noticing it, he touched the parchment with his wand. “Destruction planned!”
The map instantly went blank. The names of all the Death Eaters were now invisible.
“Everyone ready?” Minnie asked.
All four wore equal looks of determination as they nodded at one another. They took out their wands in preparation for their arrival in the ballroom.
“Let’s do it,” Minnie said.
With four pops, they Disapparated.
They Apparated just outside the ballroom. Sounds of various pops and cracks met their ears as the Death Eaters continued to Apparate into the meeting.
“Well, we haven’t missed anything yet,” James said. “Let’s get inside now, while everyone’s still grouping up. That way no one will notice us.”
“When you get inside, stay close to the wall,” Lily added. She pulled the hood of her cloak over her head to hide her bright red hair. “Ready?”
“Let’s go,” James said, pulling up his own hood.
With one last nod, they entered the ballroom. James had been right; confusion still reined inside. The Death Eaters were robed and masked; it would be impossible to identify them. James and Lily went to one side of the room, while Adam and Minnie went to the other. They pressed themselves against the walls as they crept through the room, trying to find Rodolphus, or to hear anyone else referred to by name.
The Death Eaters completed their circle, and James, Lily, Adam and Minnie crouched down, trying to avoid being seen. An eerie silence fell, only to be broken by a high-pitched voice.
“My friends,” Voldemort said softly, “welcome. There are plans to be made tonight, plans that will bring those who are against us to their knees. It is only a matter of time until the Ministry will be begging us for mercy, and I will be the one in control of our world.”
A murmur of assent ran throughout the room. Lily felt her heart pounded in her chest, and prayed that no one else could hear it.
“But how very foolish of me,” Voldemort continued, “to begin our meeting before welcoming our guests.”
Lily gasped as an invisible forced pulled her to the center of the circle. She willed herself to remain calm as she looked at James, Adam and Minnie, who were all standing with her. She glanced past them to the Death Eaters, wondering if their eyes really were glinting maniacally behind their masks, or if that was just a figment of her imagination. She and her friends were standing in the middle of a circle of people who were united against them.
Horror filled Peter’s being as he looked at the captives in the middle of the room. What were they doing in the meeting? Didn’t they know how dangerous it was? Why did James always have to know everything, to get in the middle of everything? Couldn’t he just take his orders from Dumbledore and be happy with it?
Voldemort surveyed the four young adults with mounting dislike. “How very foolish of you,” he hissed, “to assume you could be in this room without me knowing it. Has our past together taught you Potters nothing? Have you not learned that I am always aware of what is happening around me?” He gave them a twisted smile. “Well, I assume you are here representing Dumbledore and his followers. Let’s see what he has taught you!”
Another invisible force made them all stumble backwards. They all managed to stay on their feet, amid the jeers of the Death Eaters. Invisible ropes bound their hands and feet together, holding them in place. James tightened his grip on his wand.
“Let them go,” James said firmly. “They aren’t the ones that you want. They don’t have anything to do with this, and they don’t answer to Dumbledore. It’s Lily and I that you want. We’ll stay and fight, but let Adam and Minnie go.”
Peter’s heart hammered in his chest. What was James doing? Was he trying to get himself and Lily killed? Why was he seeking a battle with the Dark Lord and a roomful of Death Eaters?
“No,” Adam said at once, his voice every bit as firm as James’s. “We’re not leaving without James and Lily.”
“Gryffindors,” Voldemort said softly. “Always so brave. Always so loyal to their friends. Always so selfless. Very well. You have made your choice. None of you will leave tonight without my special . . . blessing. But I will allow you the dignity of dying like Gryffindors.” He waved his hand, and they were freed from the force binding them.
James looked at Lily, his face full of determination. “Shall we give it one more go, then?”
She nodded, and gripped her wand tightly. “I love you, James.”
“I love you, too.”
Lily turned, and pointed her wand directly at Voldemort. “Reducto!”
Voldemort raised his wand, sending her curse into a wall. “I expected better of you, Lily. Perhaps marriage has made you weak. Crucio!”
The curse rebounded off Lily’s Shield Charm, and struck a Death Eater, who screamed in pain. James picked up the battle, and hurled another curse at Voldemort, who deflected it.
“Do what you like with the other two,” he hissed. “Leave the Potters to me!”
The battle began in earnest, with Death Eaters attacking the four young adults from all sides. Peter backed up against a wall, watching in horror as his friends fought for their lives. He clutched his head, trying desperately to decide what he should do. Should he help his friends, and risk exposing himself? Or should he remain still, and protect them from the knowledge that he was a Death Eater?
Peter gasped as he watched James’s face go blank. “Fight it, James,” he whispered. “I know you can! Fight it!”
The battle came to a standstill as all eyes turned to James. Peter tore his eyes from his friend for a moment to look at the others. Adam and Minnie had been tied up again. Lily was still standing, but a Death Eater held her firmly in place. Judging by the look in her eyes, it was only a matter of time before she tried to break free.
“Kill Lily, James,” Voldemort said lazily.
James obediently turned to face Lily. Peter gasped again. Surely James wouldn’t . . .?
“Kill her,” Voldemort hissed.
“James,” Lily begged. “James, please! Can you hear me? I love you, James. I love you, and you love me! Please, James!”
“Kill her!” Voldemort yelled.
James raised his wand, and pointed it at her.
“JAMES!” she screamed. “JAMES, IT’S ME! PLEASE, LOVE, LISTEN TO ME!”
“NO!” James shook his head, and his eyes came back into focus. He rounded on Voldemort. “Crucio!”
Taken by surprise, Voldemort didn’t have time to deflect the curse. He screamed in pain as it hit him. The Death Eater holding Lily released her in shock as he watched his master falling victim to the curse.
“Lil, get Adam and Minnie!” James yelled.
Lily raced toward her friends, shouting curses at the Death Eaters who tried to block her path. She freed Adam and Minnie, and looked around wildly.
“Disapparate!” she yelled. “Get out of here! James and I will be out soon, I promise!”
“Lils . . .”
“GO!” she screamed. She took off again, charging forward to help James in his battle with the Dark Lord. Two pops assured her that Adam and Minnie had followed her orders.
James looked at Lily as she approached. “On three,” he said. “One . . . two . . . three . . .”
“CRUCIO!” they both yelled.
Voldemort screamed in pain, and a round of cracks filled the room.
James and Lily both stopped as the Aurors took over the battle with the Death Eaters. Voldemort took advantage of their dropped guard, and gave them his twisted smile.
“We’re not through,” he hissed. “And we won’t be until I’ve killed you both!”
“I’d like to see you try,” James sneered.
Voldemort smiled again, and Disapparated. Lily looked at James helplessly.
“We let him escape again!”
“But look at those we’ve caught,” James replied, indicating the Death Eaters who were being arrested. He pulled Lily close, and kissed her temple. “Let’s go home.”
She nodded, and they Disapparated. Peter breathed a sigh of relief, then he, too, Disapparated.
Adam and Minnie were pacing back and forth in the Potters’ living room when James and Lily arrived. As soon as she saw them, Minnie gave a strangled cry, and flung herself at Lily. Lily held her close, clinging to Minnie as much as Minnie was clinging to her.
“We’re all right,” Lily said softly. “We’re all right.”
“I was so scared!” Minnie exclaimed, pulling back enough to look into Lily’s face. “I never knew – I never thought . . . You do things like that all the time, don’t you?”
“Well, maybe not exactly like that, but similar,” James said, sitting down on the couch. He closed his eyes, then opened them again. “Are you two all right?”
“Yeah,” Adam said, sitting down next to him. “But we didn’t take nearly as much as the two of you did. Did the Aurors get there in time?”
James nodded. “You sent them?”
Adam nodded. “All Ministry employees now have emergency access to the Auror department. That’s where we went first.”
Minnie shuddered. “I can’t believe people do things like that as a career.”
“Some of us do it out of a sense of duty,’ James said softly.
Minnie sat down, shaking her head. “I will never understand how you find the strength to do it, but . . . thank you.”
Lily and James looked at her blankly. “What?” they asked in unison.
Tears filled her eyes. “You do things like that – fight like that and risk your lives like that – to save our world. So thank you – thank you for all that you do to help all of us.”
Lily and James nodded. No words seemed adequate.
Adam rose to his feet. “Will you be all right?”
“Yeah, we’re fine,” James said.
Adam nodded. “Let’s go home, Min.”
She nodded, and gave Lily another fierce hug. Then, with two pops, they were gone.
James smiled at Lily. “And so we’ve cheated death once again.”
She gave him a half-hearted smile and nodded.
“What’s wrong, love?”
Lily drew a shaky breath. “That’s three times, James. Three times that we’ve faced him and lived, and three times that he’s gotten away. What happens next time? When will this end?”
James crossed the room, and pulled her close. “Don’t think like that,” he said. “Be happy that we’re alive, and that we’ve lived to fight another day. We can’t think about the ‘what ifs.’ We have to live –“
“Like there’s no tomorrow,” Lily finished, tipping her head back to smile at him. “So I’ve heard before.”
James smiled, and leaned down to kiss her. “Thank God we made it,” he whispered. “I don’t know what I’d do without you. When I think about what he tried to make me do to you . . . You know I love you, don’t you?”
“I know,” she replied. “And I knew you’d never do it. I knew you would be able to break through his control.” She smiled. “I love you, too, James. So much.”
He smiled, and kissed her again.
It doesn't End! It never will...I will keep coming back for more. The books will always remain a part of who I am!
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Re: The Real World!
Olivia walked quickly through the streets of London, hurrying back to Diagon Alley. Not for the first time, she was leaving the Auror Academy late. Since the day Moody had reprimanded her for her lack of concentration, she had taken to staying later, working furiously to improve her skills. She was determined to be the best Auror the Ministry had seen since Moody himself. The solitary walks home were the best way for her to put the hard work behind her, to relax enough to sleep peacefully at night.
Even though she had left the Academy for the day, Moody’s directives of constant vigilance stayed with her. A sense of uneasiness fell over her, and her eyes swept the street, searching for what was out of place. Her fingers closed around the wand in her pocket, ready to defend herself.
“Show yourself!” she commanded. “Who’s there?”
A man stepped out of the shadows to her right. She rounded on him, ready to pull her wand out at the first warning.
“Who are you?” she demanded. “What do you want?”
“I want to talk to you, Olivia.”
She narrowed her eyes. “How did you know my name?”
“I was sent to find you,” he said, stepping closer. “We knew this is where we would find you.”
“Who is ‘we’?” Olivia asked warily.
“I’m the only one here,” the man replied.
“But you said we,” she said, her eyes searching the area behind him, looking for his accomplice.
“Yes, I did. I was referring to my master and I.”
Her eyes instantly focused on his face again. “Your master?” she repeated. “Who . . .” Everything clicked in her mind. It was a story she had heard too many times. “Do you mean Voldemort?”
The man flinched. “Yes,” he hissed. “And you would do well not to use his name so casually!”
“I’ll use whatever name I want to use,” Olivia said defiantly. “Why has he sent you to find me? To try to recruit me, like he did my friends?”
“Of course,” the man replied. “With your skills as an Auror, you would be a welcome addition to our ranks. The Dark Lord has even considered asking you to be a spy for him.”
Olivia laughed. “After you failed with my friends, you honestly thought that I would join you? Don’t be ridiculous!”
“Failed with your friends,” he repeated with a smile. “If that’s what you think, you must not know your friends very well.”
“Remus lost his job because he refused you,” she snarled. “And if Sirius had wanted to join you, he would have done so years ago. They’re the only ones you’ve approached.”
“Far be it from me to correct you.”
Olivia waved her hand dismissively. “You and your mates live to lie. We are through. Tell Voldemort that I refuse, and that he’s wasting his time with my friends and I. We’ll never turn.”
“Very well,” the Death Eater replied. “But one word of caution: Things aren’t always what they seem, and the people who seem trustworthy can’t always be trusted.” He smiled. “If you ever change your mind . . .” He held out a business card.
Olivia laughed again, and knocked the card out of his hand. “Never.”
“As you wish.” With a crack, he Disapparated.
Olivia stared at the spot where he had been standing. What had he meant about trusting people? And what had he meant about her friends?
She shook her head. “He was just trying to scare me,” she whispered. “None of my friends would ever become Death Eaters. It’s impossible!”
She started walking again. This time, her fingers stayed clamped around her wand until she was inside her flat.
Peter listened attentively as an older witch told him about her son, who was in his last year at Hogwarts. He nodded as he placed the items she had purchased into a bag.
“You’re sure you didn’t know him?” she asked. “He’s in Hufflepuff.”
“I don’t remember him,” Peter admitted. “But I’m terrible with names, so I may have known him and just not known his name. Do you have a picture? I may remember his face.”
“No, not with me,” she said a bit regretfully. “I’ll bring one next time I’m in.”
“Yes, do,” Peter said pleasantly, handing her the bag.
Without warning, a burning pain struck his arm. He sucked in a quick breath of air, and grabbed his arm as the location he was to Apparate to filled his mind.
“Are you all right?” the witch asked.
“Fine,” Peter gasped. “I fell off a broomstick when I was little . . . sometimes it still bothers me.”
The witch shook her head. “Those old injuries can be the worst. You should put something on that.”
“I will right now,” Peter replied. “Excuse me . . .”
He stumbled into the empty storeroom, and took a calming breath. Once he felt stable again, he Disapparated.
The Dark Lord sat behind the desk of a richly appointed office. Several other Death Eaters were in the room with him, silently waiting. They all looked up at Peter as he Apparated into the center of the room.
“Ah, Mr. Pettigrew,” Voldemort greeted him. “Welcome to my headquarters.”
“Your headquarters?” Peter repeated with a slight frown.
“But of course. Every good military operation has a headquarters. Unfortunately, I can’t let you see more of it than this room. No one has seen any other part of the building. It would be too much information, and too much of a temptation to sell it to the Ministry.”
“I haven’t given any information to the Ministry,” Peter said defensively.
“Yes, I know,” Voldemort said slowly, resting his fingertips together. “But the fact remains that your friends found their way into our meeting a month ago.”
“I never said a word to them!” Peter exclaimed, feeling panic take hold of him. “They don’t even know that I’m a Death Eater!”
Voldemort looked directly into his eyes, and nodded slowly. “I know that you didn’t tell them. It’s all clear in your mind. We are still trying to determine how they found us.”
Peter breathed a sigh of relief. “I don’t know how they found out, my Lord.”
Voldemort waved his hand. “Really, we can leave that topic. It is not the reason I summoned you here.”
“No.” Voldemort sat back in his chair. “You have spent a considerable amount of time in my service, and have had knowledge of quite a few plans. Yet, at the same time, you have served Dumbledore.”
“I can’t leave the Order,” Peter said at once. “Everyone will know that something isn’t right. It would arouse suspicion.”
“I wouldn’t expect you to leave the Order. In fact, I am proposing that you keep both memberships. I just want you to make better use of your time with Dumbledore.”
“I want you to spy for me.” He waved his hand to indicate the others in the room. “These are my current spies. When the Aurors took some of my Death Eaters during the meeting last month, they imprisoned several of my most valuable spies. I would like for you to help fill in the gaps their absence has created in my communication system.”
“You – you want me to be a spy?”
“Very eloquent, Pettigrew,” Voldemort said sarcastically. “But, yes, that is what I am offering.”
“Can I think about it?”
“Oh, very well. But I want an answer soon. These games of guilty conscience are wearisome.” He narrowed his eyes. “You must commit yourself to our cause, Peter, or be prepared to face the consequences.”
“I am committed.”
Voldemort nodded. “I expect your answer in three days.”
James was getting ready for the seventh year ball. He couldn’t find his dress robes. They weren’t in the closet where he had left them. Remus floated through the room, and James calmed down. Remus would help him.
“Remus, I can’t find my dress robes!” he exclaimed.
“Can’t you keep track of your things?” Remus asked.
“We don’t have time! Lily’s waiting . . . Lily’s waiting!”
James was jerked awake. He took a steadying breath. What an odd dream. Maybe working at Hogwarts was finally starting to make him crazy. He blinked, wondering what had awoken him. He rolled over to see if Lily was still sleeping. No, she wasn’t even there. She was gone?
“Lil?” he called into the semi-darkness of the room.
A strangled cough was the only response he heard. Frowning, he got out of bed, and walked out of the bedroom. He glanced down the hall, and saw a light peeking out from under the bathroom door. His frown deepened. Lily never turned on the bathroom light at night; she said the light hurt her eyes. He walked quickly down the hall, and tapped on the bathroom door.
“Lil? Are you all right?”
“I’m coming in, all right?” Without waiting for a reply, he pushed the door open.
Lily was sitting on the floor with her knees drawn up to her chest. Her face was streaked with tears and sweat, and her hair was a tangled mess.
“Lil?” James knelt down next to her, and brushed her hair back from her face.
“Remember that flu I had seventh year?”
“I think it’s back. I swear, James, that was the last time I felt this awful.”
“Well, love, one good thing came out of that experience,” James smiled.
“Oh, really? Would that have been the part where half the Gryffindors caught it from me?”
James grinned. “I forgot how sarcastic you can be when you’re sick. And, no, the good thing wasn’t everyone getting sick with you. It was that it made me realize that I love you.”
Lily made a face. “You’re so sappy, Potter.”
He laughed. “Oh, cheer up. Maybe something good will come of this, too.”
“I can’t see that happening,” Lily groaned. “Can you help me up? I want to brush my teeth.”
“All right,” James agreed, helping her to her feet. “But then you’re going back to bed, and you’re staying home from work today.”
“Sure, Mum,” she replied, making a face.
James handed her her toothbrush. “Don’t be ridiculous, Lil. There’s no way you could go to work like this.”
“I suppose you’re right,” she said. “Minnie will be fine without me for a day.” An odd look crossed her face, and she shoved the toothbrush back into James’s hand before lunging toward the toilet.
“Maybe more than a day,” James said, making a face.
Dumbledore tapped the letter of resignation he had just received against his desk. He had expected that his Potions teacher would be leaving him soon; Professor Dahl had been at Hogwarts longer than Dumbledore himself. He just had never anticipated that it would be in the middle of the year. He didn’t have much time to find a replacement for him before the second term began. The Christmas holidays were less than a week away.
Tapping the letter against the desk again, he nodded. It was time. He picked up a quill, and began to compose a letter.
Lily tossed aside the magazine she had been reading, and burrowed down under her afghan. After two days off work, she was bored. She wanted to go back, but her stomach seemed to disagree with that idea. Every time she was convinced that she was cured, she would find herself running to the bathroom again.
She glanced at the clock. James should be home soon. To save her from having to watch him eat while she was sick, he had stayed at Hogwarts for dinner the past two days. Lily suspected that he was secretly excited to be able to eat at the school again.
Two pops sounded, shaking her from her thoughts. She looked up in surprise, wondering who was coming into her house.
“Hey, love,” James said cheerfully. “I brought someone to entertain you this evening!”
“Olivia!” Lily exclaimed. “I’m so glad to see you! But – I don’t know if you should be here. You don’t want to catch this flu.”
Olivia shrugged, and sat down next to her on the couch. “James lives with you, and he hasn’t caught it.”
Lily rolled her eyes. “He swears he’s immune. I’m actually starting to believe him. This is the second time I’ve been on death’s door with the flu while he stayed completely healthy. It’s totally unfair, if you ask me.”
“Don’t listen to her, Liv!” James called from the kitchen.
Olivia giggled. “So, James tells me you’re getting bored?”
“I’m beyond bored,” Lily moaned. “I just want to leave the house again! Please, Liv, give me some news from the outside world! You must have something exciting to share!”
James came in with a tea tray, and handed each girl a cup before sitting down. “She’s begging for entertainment here, Liv. Can you sing and dance for her?”
Olivia smiled, and took a sip of her tea. “Actually, there is something I wanted to talk to you two about.”
“What is it?”
“A couple days ago, a Death Eater approached me on my way home from the Academy.” Seeing the looks of horror on their faces, she quickly continued. “He didn’t attack me! He wanted to recruit me.”
“You, too?” James asked. “When will they give up on us?”
“That was my thought, too,” Olivia replied. “I asked him why he had come for me after my friends had refused him.”
“He implied that I was wrong,” she frowned. “He said something about not trusting the trustworthy, or something like that.”
“How odd,” James frowned. “How could you be wrong? The only two who have been approached, aside from you now, are Sirius and Remus, and we all know what happened there.”
“I know,” Olivia said in exasperation. “It was all so odd! Why would he say that?”
“He was lying,” Lily replied. “He was lying to convince you to join him. We’re not talking about honorable people here, Liv. They’ll stoop to any level to achieve their goals. You know that.”
“I know,” Olivia said again. She shook her head. “I suppose I’m just upset that they targeted me. Watch out – you two might be next.”
James smiled grimly. “We’re ready.”
“Good.” She glanced at Lily, who was toying with her still-full teacup. “You know, you really should see a Healer. You don’t look good at all.”
Lily smiled. “Thanks, Liv. That was inspirational.”
“No, I’m serious! You need to get better!”
“All right. I’ll go to a Healer if I don’t get better.”
“If you don’t get better by when?” Olivia pressed.
“Er . . .”
“Tomorrow,” Olivia said decisively. “If you’re not better in the morning, you go to a Healer.”
Lily smiled. “All right, Mum.”
“Lils, I’m serious. Promise me that you’ll go see a Healer if you’re not better in the morning.”
“All right! Calm down! I’ll go.”
Promptly at six, a knock sounded on Dumbledore’s office door. He waved his wand to open it, and gave his guest a cheery smile.
“Very punctual, Severus,” he said.
“Your letter said the matter was urgent,” Snape replied.
“Indeed it is,” Dumbledore agreed. “Please, sit down.”
Snape took the offered chair silently.
“Severus, allow me to be very direct with you,” Dumbledore said, his face completely serious. “I’ve received notification that our Potions teacher will not be returning after the holidays, and I would like to offer you the position.”
Snape’s eyebrows shot up so high that they were nearly lost in his hair. “What?”
Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled in amusement. “I expected you to be surprised, but you shouldn’t be. You were always an exceptional Potions student.”
“Yes, but . . . I thought you were opposed to my . . . shall we say, lifestyle choices?”
Dumbledore observed him for a moment before responding. “Severus, if I only surrounded myself with people who thought exactly like me, I would have a very boring group of friends. If I only allowed teachers who thought exactly like me to teach in my school, I would have a school full of boring staff and students. I believe in looking at things from others’ points of view.” He paused, and gave Snape a grave look. “I also believe in second chances.”
“Is this my second chance, then?” Snape asked with a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
“No,” Dumbledore replied seriously, “this is your opportunity to earn your second chance. If you meet my expectations during the time between now and June, I will ask you to return next year. If not, I will be searching for a new Potions professor. The outcome is entirely up to you and the choices you make for the remainder of the academic year.” He sat back in his chair. “Will you accept my offer, Severus?”
Snape looked thoughtful for a moment. “Yes,” he said at last. “Yes, I will join your staff.”
Peter winced as the burning pain stung his arm. He wanted desperately to ignore it, and to carry on with washing the dishes in his mother’s kitchen. But even as that thought went through his head, the pain grew stronger. He closed his eyes, and allowed the destination to fill his mind. He placed the last dish in the cupboard with a sigh.
“Mum, I’m going out!” he called.
“So late?” she replied.
“I won’t be long,” Peter said, praying he was right.
“But . . .” His mother walked into the kitchen with a frown. “You’re sure you want to go out so late?”
“I’m sure,” Peter nodded.
Before she could protest again, he Disapparated.
He found himself in the same location where he had met with his master three days before. The Dark Lord was once again seated at his desk. This time, he was alone.
“Welcome back, Peter,” he said. “I expect you have had sufficient time to consider my proposal.”
“Yes,” Peter replied.
A thousand reasons not to do it flew through his mind.
“Yes,” Peter said. “I’ll do it.”
“You’ll do what?”
“I’ll be a spy for you.”
Voldemort sat back in his chair, and brought his fingertips together. He surveyed Peter for a moment. “Yes,” he said. “Yes, you will be one of my spies. We will need to train you. Await my summons.” He smiled his twisted smile. “Your time is coming, Peter. I am sure you will prove yourself valuable to us all.”
James looked uncertainly at Lily as he prepared to Disapparate. She gave him a half-hearted smile.
“I’ll be fine,” she said.
“You’ll go to see a Healer?” he asked.
“Yes. I promised both you and Olivia. What more do you need?”
James smiled. “To go with you to prove that you actually did it.” He leaned down to kiss her. “Our end of term meeting is tonight, but I’ll come home as early as I can. I want to know everything the Healer says.”
“Yes, sir,” Lily said, kissing him again. “Now get to work before you’re late. We have to make sure that one of us isn’t in danger of unemployment.”
James rolled his eyes. “The Prophet isn’t going to sack you for being ill. I think that’s illegal.”
“Well, this Healer had better get me back to work tomorrow,” Lily stated. “Have fun with your students, James.”
He smiled. “Thanks, love. I’ll see you tonight!”
Once he was gone, Lily pulled herself out of bed. Her fingers shook as she chose clothes for the day. She was already quite sure of what the Healer would tell her – she just wasn’t sure what to think about it. Delaying the moment when she would have to react seemed like the easiest thing to do. She took a long, hot shower.
Lily lay as still as death on the Healer’s table. She had never felt so nervous in her entire life. Right now her suspicions were still just suspicions, and they would remain that way until Healer Lewis told her otherwise. He didn’t seem to be in any hurry as he pointed his wand at her over and over, performing different tests. Oh, why did these Healers have to move so slowly?
Healer Lewis aimed his wand at the chart beside the table, recording all the information it had taken from Lily. He gave her a smile.
“All right, Mrs. Potter, you can sit up now.”
Lily smiled back nervously, and slowly raised herself to a sitting position, willing her stomach to stop churning. “Well?” she asked.
He gave her a beaming smile. “Congratulations, Mrs. Potter. You’re pregnant!”
Lily stared at him, telling herself not to panic. After all, this was what she had expected to hear. Ever since the first morning she had been sick, she had suspected that this might be the reason. She hadn’t let herself say anything to James for fear that she might be right. She was afraid that he might feel the same way she did – that they were far too young to become parents.
“Mrs. Potter? Are you all right?”
Lily focused on the Healer’s face. “When?” she asked. “When will the baby be born?”
“Early August,” he replied. “Maybe late July. If you’d like, we can do an image right now to get the exact date.”
Lily shook her head. She wasn’t ready for that yet. An image – an actual picture of the baby – would make it real.
“You want to wait for your husband?”
“Yes,” she said. “I want to wait for James to be here for that.”
Healer Lewis nodded. “I want to do the image by the end of the month, so you’ll need to schedule your appointment before you leave today. After that, I’ll need to see you once a month until May, when we’ll start increasing your appointments.”
Lily nodded, feeling the panic she had been fighting take hold. This was really happening. She was going to be a mother.
“Do you have any questions?”
She shook her head wordlessly.
He handed her a vial of potion. “Take this once a day for a week, and you should be fine in terms of morning sickness. If not, come back and see me.”
Lily gave a hollow laugh. “It’s far more than ‘morning’ sickness. I’ve been sick at all hours of the day and night!”
Healer Lewis smiled sympathetically. “Well, this should cure you of all illness. We want you feeling well again. You need to be strong for the baby.”
She nodded. The panic was now firmly in place.
The Healer smiled at the expression on her face. “I take it this was a surprise?”
Lily smiled sheepishly. “Well, it certainly wasn’t planned.”
His smile broadened. “Don’t worry, Lily. The best things in life never are.”
“I know you are all anxious to get home to begin celebrating the holiday season, but please bear with me for one more announcement.”
James smiled tolerantly. He knew that only respect for Dumbledore had kept the teachers attentive this long. They were all clearly ready to begin “celebrating the holiday season.” Judging by the expressions on some faces, a few had already begun their celebrations.
“I’m afraid that I must give you the sad news that Professor Dahl will not be returning to us after the holiday.”
Shock rippled through the room. James reminded himself half a second too late to close his mouth. Fortunately, everyone else in the room was in equal disbelief.
“He’s leaving his OWL and NEWT students halfway through the year?” Professor Sprout whispered to Professor McGonagall. “You know how difficult the Potions exams are!”
“He says they’d be better off without him,” McGonagall whispered back.
“Have you found a replacement for him?” Professor Flitwick asked.
Dumbledore smiled. “I’m glad you asked. I would like to introduce you to the newest member of our teaching staff: Severus Snape.”
Snape walked confidently into the room, giving the teachers his usual scowling expression. This time, James didn’t even bother to close his mouth.
I cried, when I saw the "It all ends!" banner!!
But now I know, it never will....
Re: The Real World!
The Christmas Gift
Lily trembled slightly as she looked at the clock. James would be home any minute, and she still hadn’t decided how to give him the news that they were to become parents. She ran her hands over her flat abdomen, trying to imagine what it would feel like over the course of the next several months. She was in for quite a few changes.
She flopped down on the couch, and picked up a magazine. After flipping through it without seeing a word, she flung it aside. She frowned as she tried to come up with a new way to kill the time until James came home.
“We need a television,” she muttered to herself. “What house doesn’t have a tv? We need one – especially with the baby. I can’t imagine my child not having the opportunity to watch cartoons, or movies, or . . .” She trailed off, considering what she had just said.
The panic began to return. It was true. She was going to become a mother. Before the summer ended, she was going to have a child of her own.
“I’ve always wanted to be a mother,” she told herself. She sighed. “I’m sorry, Baby. I just didn’t expect to have you so soon. I’m not sure how to be a mother. But I’ll try. I promise that I’ll do my best to be a good mother to you.”
The fireplace jumped to life, startling Lily out of her seat. James rarely Flooed home. But who else would come in at this time of day? Could it be . . .? She didn’t know, but she didn’t feel safe, either. She edged slightly away from the fireplace, one hand reaching for her wand, while the other protectively covered her abdomen.
She gave an audible sigh of relief when James stepped out of the fireplace. He brushed the soot off his robes as he straightened up. It was just James . . . But that meant that he was home, and she had to tell him about the baby.
“Flooing home?” Lily asked lightly, trying to push down the butterflies in her stomach.
“I was in no mood to Apparate,” James replied. “You won’t believe what Dumbledore’s done!”
“What?” Lily asked, not sure if she was glad for the delay or not. He had bought her a few extra minutes, but the wait was only making her more nervous.
“I’ll tell you and Sirius together,” James said.
“Sirius?” Lily asked faintly. Was he saying that they would have a guest?
“Yeah, I told him to come over for dinner tonight. He’s going to need to hear this news in person.”
“Oh. . .”
James suddenly stopped, and looked at her intently. “Oh, man, Lil, I’m sorry. I didn’t even think – you’re sick – I shouldn’t have –“
“It’s all right,” Lily interrupted, remembering a previous conversation with Sirius, promising that he would be the first to know if she was pregnant. “I’m feeling much better, and I have something to tell Sirius, too. Both of you, actually.”
“Do you want to tell us together when he gets here?”
“No-o,” Lily said slowly. “No, I want to tell you now.”
“All right,” James said, sitting down in his favorite armchair. He spread his hands out, palms up in an open gesture. “Tell me.”
Lily took a deep breath, and knelt down in front of him. She took his hands in hers, and looked up into his hazel eyes, searching for the right words to tell him. As she watched him without speaking, a shadow of fear fell across his face.
“Lily, you’re okay, aren’t you?” he asked, his voice tight with concern. “The Healer didn’t tell you . . .?”
“Oh, no!” Lily exclaimed. “No, it’s nothing like that!” She took another deep breath, hating herself for scaring him. “No, James, it’s just hard because it’s not something we planned . . . it’s just . . .” One last deep breath. “James, I’m pregnant. We’re going to have a baby.”
James looked at her for a long minute, then blinked. “What?”
He stared at her a moment longer, then smiled. He leaned forward, and kissed her forehead. “Thank God.”
Tears sprang into Lily’s eyes. This was the last reaction she had expected. “What?”
“My God, Lil, I was so scared! You’ve been so ill, I thought something was seriously wrong with you . . . I thought after all we’ve done, after all the battles we fought, I was going to lose you to some sickness . . . but this . . . this . . .” He slid off his chair so that he was kneeling with her, and pulled her close, gently kissing her. “Thank God you’re all right. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
The tears began to fall down her cheeks. “Oh, James,” she whispered.
“Hey,” he said softly, brushing away her tears, “what’s this?”
“I was so scared to tell you!” she exclaimed. “I still am scared! James! We’re going to have a baby!”
“I know,” he said, kissing her again. “And it scares me, too. How can anyone expect me to be a good father? But, Lil, if we can face Voldemort three times and live to tell the tale, I’m sure we can handle a baby.”
Lily smiled. “I suppose. I do want this baby. I’ve always wanted to be someone’s mummy. It’s just such a surprise.”
“If we had been able to choose, we probably would have waited,” James agreed. “But don’t you think that makes our little baby even more special?”
“I guess it does,” Lily replied, smiling wider. She ran her hand through James’s hair. “I hope the baby has your hair.”
James smiled. “I certainly don’t. This hair and I have been in constant battle for years!” He traced his finger over her lips. “I hope he has your smile.”
Lily smiled. “He?” she repeated. “Why not she?”
James smiled, and kissed her again. “In that case, I hope she looks exactly like you. I want her to have your red hair, and your green, green eyes.”
Lily smiled. “What are the chances that she’ll look exactly like me?”
James laughed. “About as good as the chances that a boy would look exactly like me. But we can dream until . . .” He trailed off, and laughed again. “When will this little one join us?”
“In July or August. We have an imaging appointment on Christmas Eve. We’ll get the exact date then.”
James nodded, and kissed her again. “Well, that gives me plenty of time to take care of you both.”
“Oh, James, I’m fine now! Healer Lewis gave me a potion so I won’t be so sick anymore, and he said I can go back to work within a week. I don’t need you babying me. I can take care of myself.”
“Please, Lil –“
His statement was cut off by a crack. Sirius looked around for a moment, then saw his friends together on the floor.
“Hello,” he said with a knowing grin. “Should I come back at a more convenient time? You two look a little . . . busy.”
James grinned as he stood up. “Padfoot, you have the dirtiest mind.” He held his hand out to help Lily to her feet.
“Hey, I just said that you looked busy. Whatever meaning you gave that came from your own dirty mind.”
“Honestly,” Lily sighed. “You two will be the death of me.”
Sirius grinned, and crossed to kiss her cheek. “How are you feeling, Little Flower? James tells me that you’ve been sick.”
“I have been,” Lily agreed. “But I’m much better now.”
“You went to a Healer, then?”
Lily glanced at James, who took her hand. “You tell him,” she smiled. “You’ve been friends with him longer.”
James grinned. “Well, Padfoot, I hope you’re prepared to do a lot of babysitting in the near future.”
Sirius frowned. “Babysitting?” he repeated. His eyes widened and his mouth dropped open as understanding hit him. “Are you – are you -?”
Lily nodded with a smile. “I’m pregnant.”
“Congratulations!” Sirius exclaimed. He grabbed Lily, and pulled her into a bear hug that lifted her off the ground. He set her down again, and hugged James. “I can’t believe you two!” he exclaimed. “What made you decide to do this so soon?”
“Well . . .” James smiled, exchanging a glance with Lily.
Sirius laughed. “Even better. Surprises are great!” He grinned. “I can’t wait to be Uncle Sirius. When will my nephew be born?”
“July or August,” Lily replied, certain that a battle over gender with Sirius was a waste of her time.
“That’s a bit long to wait,” Sirius said. “Can’t you hurry it up a bit?”
Lily rolled her eyes. “And you’re going to be a role model for my child?”
Sirius grinned, and touched Lily’s stomach. “Remember, kid, I’m on your side. I’m the fun uncle.”
James laughed. “Oh, this little guy is in for an interesting life.”
It was late when Sirius left that night. James looked at Lily, who had circles under her eyes.
“You need to sleep, love. I’ll clean up.”
Lily didn’t even bother to protest. She smiled, and kissed James’s lips. “Thank you.”
She started to leave the room, but stopped in the doorway. “James?” she asked, turning to face him again.
“Are you really happy? About the baby?”
“Lil . . .”
“No, James, I mean it. I know we both said we’re happy about it, and I am okay with the idea now that the shock has worn off a bit, but really . . . We’ve never talked about having children so soon. It’s always been something we wanted to do later, when we’re more established . . . And we’re in the middle of this war, when our world is so dangerous. This isn’t the best time to have a baby.”
James crossed the room to stand in front of her, and tipped her chin up to look into her eyes. “Do you want this baby?”
“Yes, of course!” she exclaimed. “I’d never do anything to hurt the baby! I guess it just doesn’t seem real – or maybe I don’t want it to be real . . . I don’t know!”
“Lil . . .”
She sighed. “I know, James. I know. I know that this is our child, and I know that I’m going to love and adore it. But I just . . . I just need some time to get used to the idea.”
James nodded. “It is weird to think about it, isn’t it? You’re right. It doesn’t seem real. I mean, I know in my head that we’re going to have a baby, but I can’t seem to convince myself that I’m actually going to be a father.”
“It’s just such a scary thing. And this is such an unstable, scary time . . .”
“I know all that. Everything you’ve said is all I’ve been able to think about all night. You’re right; this is the worst possible time for this. We’re too young, and we aren’t ready. We don’t have a clue how to be good parents.
“But we have to get ready. This isn’t about us anymore, Lil. This is about our baby now. I know you’re scared. I’m terrified. But I also know that if we work together, there’s nothing we can’t do. And that includes being parents. We will love our child, and we will be the best parents we can. We’ll teach him and protect him, and we’ll watch him grow up and go to Hogwarts and . . .” He smiled. “I know you’re going to be a fantastic mum.”
Tears filled Lily’s eyes as she kissed her husband. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.” He kissed her again. “We only have a few months to get over ourselves, Lil. We’d better start trying to think like parents.”
Lily clutched James’s hand as they walked into the Healer’s office. James smiled at her.
“Not nervous, are you?” he asked.
She gave him a glare. “We’re about to see images of the small person who is currently living inside my abdomen. Yes, I’m a bit nervous!”
James smiled, and squeezed her hand. “Don’t worry, love. I’m sure the baby is fine. And I’m sure you’re fine, too.”
“Are you still going to say that once I weigh as much as a killer whale?”
James laughed. “You’re not going to gain that much weight. And even if you do, you’re still going to be beautiful.”
She rolled her eyes at him as the receptionist called her name.
“Let’s go,” James said, ushering her ahead of him.
“I can’t believe you’re so calm about this.”
He shrugged. “One of us has to be. Besides, we’re going to see our child for the rest of our lives. We might as well start now.”
Lily rolled her eyes again as the receptionist showed them into an examining room. She handed Lily a gown.
“Please take off your clothes and put this on,” she said. “Healer Lewis will be in shortly.”
Once she was gone, Lily changed and hopped up onto the examination table. James frowned slightly.
“What?” she asked.
“I could have helped you up.”
“But I made it up fine on my own.”
“But you could have fallen.”
“James, please! You can’t follow me around and try to do everything for me until August! It’s going to make me crazy!”
“I know that you’re concerned, but I’m really fine.”
James smiled. “I know. And I know how strong you are. I’m just going to have to work harder to remember it now.”
The door opened, and Healer Lewis stepped into the room. “Well, hello!” he said cheerfully. “How are you? Feeling any better, Lily?”
“Much, thank you,” she replied. “I’m going back to work after the holidays.”
“That’s great! And you’re here today so we can get our first look at the baby, right?”
He nodded. “Excellent. Now, Lily, just lie down, and we’ll get started.”
Lily did as she was instructed, and held her hand out to James. He stepped over to stand next to her, and took her hand firmly in his.
“Now, you’ll want to look over there,” Healer Lewis said, indicating an open space in the center of the room. “We’ll be able to see a three dimensional image, and I’ll be able to give you picture to take home with you.” He pointed his wand at Lily’s abdomen, and muttered a spell, then aimed the wand at the open space, saying another incantation.
A bright jet of white light erupted from the tip of his wand. For a moment, thousands of specks of light sparkled in the air. Then they began to move, coming together to form an image of the tiniest baby Lily had ever seen. As she looked at the little baby – her little baby – tears began to form in her eyes.
“There we are,” Healer Lewis smiled. “You can see the head here – the feet here – arms and hands . . . Congratulations. So far, it looks like your little one is healthy and developing right on schedule.”
Her tears beginning to fall, Lily looked up at James. He was staring, mesmerized, at the image of their baby. Tears stood in his eyes, and his mouth was slightly open. Lily gently squeezed his hand.
“James?” she whispered.
He looked down at her. A tear fell from his eye, and dropped down onto her cheek, mingling with her own tears. For once, words failed him. He leaned down and kissed her lips.
Healer Lewis moved his wand, and the image disappeared. Lily gave a cry of dismay.
“Don’t worry,” he smiled. “I’m giving you three pictures to take with you. And . . .” He looked down at his clipboard, where his wand was recording information. “Your baby will be born on August 4. Would you like to know the gender?”
Lily and James looked at each other for a moment, then shook their heads. The Healer nodded.
“We’ll let it be a surprise, then. You’re done for today. You’ll just need to make an appointment for next month.” He smiled, and handed them the pictures. “And you’ll want to take these.”
As the Healer silently left the room, Lily looked down at the pictures in her hands, holding them as if they were an incomparable treasure. James kissed her forehead.
“My God, Lil,” he whispered hoarsely. “That’s our baby.”
“Our baby,” she repeated. She looked up at James with starry eyes. “You were so right. We can do this! We can be parents. We don’t have to be scared!”
James looked a bit dazed. “I was right,” he said softly. He touched the picture, tracing the baby’s head.
Lily beamed at the picture. “Look at our little angel.”
James kissed her again. “I love you, Lily. I love you so much.” He leaned over even farther, and kissed her still-exposed abdomen. “And I love you, my little angel.”
James Apparated with a pop into Sirius’s living room. He looked around, searching for any sign that his friend was home.
“Hello?” he called. “Sirius? Are you here?”
“Right here,” Sirius said, coming out of the kitchen with a puzzled look on his face. “What brings you over to my bachelor abode?”
James grinned. “I needed to talk.”
Sirius sat down on the couch. “Well, I’m your man. What’s up?”
James sat down in the chair across from him, and ran his hand through his hair. “I just went to the Healer’s office with Lily. We had an appointment to check on the baby.”
“Is he all right?” Sirius asked, concern already showing on his face. “The Healer didn’t tell you --?”
“No, nothing like that,” James said quickly. “The baby is fine. Perfect, actually.” He grinned. “I got to see him, Sirius. I got to see my baby.”
“It was an imaging appointment. The Healer took an image of the baby, and showed it to us. We got to see him! It was the most amazing thing . . . The Healer just pointed his wand at Lily, then at the room, and there was the baby. He’s still so tiny, Sirius. It was amazing! I’ve never seen anything like that . . . I’ve never felt anything like that! I just . . . I just . . . I love this baby so much, Sirius. So much. To see it there like that, so little and . . . And it made me love Lily even more. If you had told me last week that I could possibly love her more, I would have laughed. But I do. Right now, I love her so much that I can’t even describe it . . . She’s my child’s mother, Sirius. That’s our baby she has inside of her! Can you even imagine?”
Sirius had sat silently during James’s speech, his eyes never leaving his friend’s face. He swallowed before responding.
“No,” he said a bit hoarsely. “No, I can’t.” And thanks to Olivia, I may never be able to experience any of what he’s talking about.
James drew a deep breath. “Look, I have to tell someone, and I can’t let Lily know, so it has to be you.”
“What can’t you tell her?” Sirius asked with a frown, bringing his thoughts away from his lost love.
“When Lily first told me she was pregnant, the first thing I felt was relief,” James said. “I was worried about how ill she had been, and I was afraid something was really wrong with her. But after a bit, when the excitement of her being well was over . . . I was scared, Sirius. No, not scared. I was terrified! I had never been so scared in my life, not even when I was fighting Voldemort.”
“You were scared of being a dad?”
“Yes! The idea of someone’s life being in my hands is rather frightening, don’t you think?”
Sirius grinned. “I’m sure McGonagall would agree.”
James laughed. “Yeah, she probably would.”
“Did you tell Lily you were scared?”
“No, of course not. She was already completely terrified, and I didn’t want to add any more nervousness to her. So, I’ve been pretending to be fine with everything, and telling her that it’s all going to be all right.”
“Very good of you,” Sirius commented.
“I didn’t know what else to do! I couldn’t make her more scared. I had to do something to reassure her. So that’s what I tried to do.”
“You’re talking in the past tense,” Sirius observed. “Does that mean you’re not scared anymore?”
James shook his head. “I’m still a little nervous,” he admitted. “But after seeing my baby today . . . I feel different. I feel . . . I can do this. I can be a dad. And I want this baby, Sirius. I want her more than I’ve ever wanted anything.”
Sirius grinned. “Her?”
James waved his hand. “Either way. I just want to have my baby, to teach it, to love it . . . I want to be its Daddy, and to always be there to take care of it.”
Sirius shook his head. “This may be the saddest day of our lives, Prongs.”
He grinned. “You’ve officially grown up. You’re not thinking of yourself anymore.” He shook his head. “The old James is gone, and the new, responsible, Dad James has taken his place! What am I going to do without my friend?”
James grinned. “I’m still your friend, Padfoot.”
Sirius sighed. “You know, I almost envy you.”
Surprise crossed James’s face. “You want to be an old, married dad?”
Sirius shrugged. “What you described when you came in . . . everything about how seeing the baby made you feel . . . I sort of want to know what you’re talking about.”
“You will, someday.”
“Will I?” Sirius looked away for a moment, then looked back at his best friend. “The only woman I’ve ever even considered marrying and having kids with is Olivia. The only way she’ll be with me is if I marry her now. The only way we could stay married is if we wait – there’s no way I’m ready to be married now. How exactly does that translate into me having kids?”
James sighed. “I don’t know, mate. I wish I had some advice for you, but I don’t.”
“Neither do I,” Sirius replied. He shook his head. “Maybe I should do what you did to get over Lily when she wanted nothing to do with you.”
James’s eyes widened. “You mean . . .?”
Sirius nodded, a slow grin crossing his face. “I think Sirius Black may go back to being a swingin’ bachelor.”
“God help the women of London,” James laughed.
“London?” Sirius laughed. “Why think so limited? I’m thinking all of England!”
James laughed again, and shook his head. “You’ll never change.”
“If I did, you wouldn’t find me so irresistible!” Sirius laughed, his eyes twinkling.
“You’re sure this is a good idea?” Lily asked as she curled her hair.
“I’m positive,” James replied. “They’re going to be so excited!”
Lily bit her lip. “They won’t think we’re too young?”
James came up behind her, and kissed her cheek. “My mum was nineteen when I was born. If they say anything about us being too young, that’s just hypocritical. And this is definitely the best way to tell them.”
Lily smiled uncertainly. “If you’re sure . . .”
“I’m sure. Now, hurry and finish your hair, or we’re going to be late.”
Lily nodded, and went back to curling her hair. James squeezed her shoulder, and left the bedroom.
Ten minutes later, Lily and James Apparated to the Potters’ house. James’s parents and Hetty were all there to greet them; they all exchanged hugs and kisses. Mrs. Potter took Lily’s face in her hands, and looked deeply into her eyes.
“You look a bit tired, Lily,” she said with concern in her voice. “Are you feeling all right?”
“Yes, I’m fine,” Lily smiled.
“She was under the weather for a bit, but she went to see a Healer,” James added. “She’s fine now.”
“Good,” Mrs. Potter replied, patting Lily’s cheek. “Are you both hungry? We have dinner ready, and if we don’t eat soon, we’ll be late for Mass.”
“Mum, it’s seven o’clock,” James protested. “Mass doesn’t start until midnight! We have five hours!”
“We can’t be late on Christmas Eve, James!”
“Let’s go sit down before the food gets cold,” Mr. Potter interjected. He took Lily’s arm. “You stay with me,” he advised in a loud whisper. “We’ll let the two of them fight it out.”
Lily giggled, and James and his mother both laughed. The two couples walked into the dining room together, where Hetty was waiting to serve the first course of the meal.
“Sit down, Hetty,” Mr. Potter said as they all took their seats. “You know Christmas is a time for family to eat together.”
“But who will serve?” she squeaked.
“We can all take care of ourselves,” Mrs. Potter said confidently.
Hetty was about to protest again when James pulled out a chair for her.
“Have a seat, Hetty,” he smiled. “I never get to eat with you anymore.”
Her protests silenced, Hetty sat down.
James looked at Lily, who nodded. He reached into his pocket, and cleared his throat.
“Before we start, Lily and I would like to give you a Christmas present.”
His parents exchanged surprised glances, then looked back at the younger couple.
“All right,” Mrs. Potter agreed. “I am a bit surprised, James. You normally don’t want anything to do with presents before Christmas morning.”
“I know,” James replied, taking the carefully wrapped package from his pocket. He handed the small box to his mother. “This one is special. We hope you like it.”
Giving them a curious look, Mrs. Potter took the box from James. She untied the ribbon and ripped open the paper, then lifted the lid off the box. For a moment, she started into the box as if dumbstruck. Then, with trembling hands, she took out the picture.
“Is this – is this --?”
“Yes,” James grinned, taking Lily’s hand. “That’s your first picture of your grandchild.”
“James . . . Lily . . .”
Lily smiled. “You have to wait until August to actually hold her, but that’s the best we could do for now.”
“You mean you two . . .?” Mr. Potter asked, swallowing hard.
Mrs. Potter gave a cry, and jumped from her chair. She pulled both Lily and James into hugs as tears streamed down her cheeks. As soon as she released them, Mr. Potter hugged them close. He let Lily go, and looked down at her.
“I didn’t hug you too hard, did I?” he asked. “You’re both all right?”
“We’re fine,” Lily smiled, loving saying “we” to include her baby.
Hetty flung herself at Lily. “Oh, how will we wait until August?”
Mrs. Potter laughed. “You’ll be amazed by how quickly the time goes. You said ‘her,’ Lily – Are you having a girl? Is this my granddaughter in this picture?”
“We don’t know,” Lily admitted. “James and I want to be surprised. We’ve been using ‘he’ and ‘she’ interchangeably.”
“It’s better to be surprised,” Mrs. Potter agreed. She smiled, and wiped the tears from her cheeks. “Well, this is by far the best Christmas present I’ve ever received!” She held up the picture, and gently touched the baby’s head. “I can hardly wait to meet you, my little one.”
“I can’t believe we’re using the same trick twice,” James said as they prepared to Disapparate.
“It was your idea,” Lily replied.
James laughed. “Maybe, but you agreed to it.”
Lily rolled her eyes. “Oh, let’s go. We’re going to be late for Dana’s party.”
“Yes, ma’am,” James laughed.
Everyone had already arrived at Dana and Aidan’s flat by the time James and Lily Apparated. Dana, Olivia and Laura were laughing together, while Sirius, Peter, Remus and Aidan were talking. James and Lily both noted that Sirius and Olivia were carefully avoiding each other’s eyes.
“They still love one another, don’t they?” Lily whispered.
James shook his head. “It’s obvious to everyone except them.”
James laughed. “Happy Christmas, Padfoot!”
Sirius crossed the room to join them, and shook James’s hand. “Running a bit behind today?”
“When aren’t we?” Lily smiled.
Sirius kissed her cheek. “How are you feeling?” he asked in a low voice, knowing that they had not yet shared their news with the others.
“Fine,” she replied with a smile. “James has been taking good care of me.”
“Thank goodness!” Dana said as she appeared behind them in time to hear Lily’s comment about James. “We were all worried about you with that flu. Liv said you looked like death!”
“Liv!” Lily laughed.
Olivia shrugged with a grin. “Well, I tell it like it is. You looked awful, Lils! But you look much better now.”
“I feel much better, too,” Lily smiled.
“Aidan just opened a bottle of wine,” Dana said. “Can I get you a glass?”
“Thanks,” James smiled. “That sounds great.”
Dana nodded. “Lily?”
“I’ll just have water,” she replied.
Dana nodded again. “We don’t want to tax that stomach,” she said as she went to retrieve the wine and water.
“We certainly don’t,” James said, putting his arm around Lily.
“Any new death-defying assignments at work, Lils?” Laura asked with a grin.
“Not recently,” Lily laughed. “I think we actually scared Dorcas last time. She keeps telling us to back off.”
“Well, it was scary,” Laura said. “Of course, all I heard about at work was the thousand ways the Prophet could have been sued if something had happened to you girls while you were at the meeting.”
Lily laughed. “If I had died, I wouldn’t have been able to sue anyone.”
“I think they addressed that, too,” Laura grinned. “Believe me, there was a way somehow.”
Dana reappeared, and handed James his wine and Lily her water. James looked down at Lily with raised eyebrows. She gave him a beaming smile and nodded, feeling her face grow warm.
“Everyone!” James called. “Can I have your attention?”
Everyone stopped and looked at James and Lily. Lily looked up at James again with a confident smile. She could hardly wait to share this news with their friends.
“Lily and I just got this picture developed, and we wanted you to see it,” James said as he pulled the picture from his pocket.
“What is it?” Peter asked.
James grinned, and passed the picture to Remus. Laura stepped closer to him, trying to see the small paper over his shoulder. Remus studied the picture for a moment, his eyes growing round. A grin spread across his face.
“When do you need me to babysit?”
A shriek rang throughout the room as the others rushed forward to see the picture of James and Lily’s baby. Laughing and crying, the girls hugged them both. Remus hugged James, then Lily.
“How do you feel?” he asked, looking at her with the eyes that should have belonged to a Healer.
“Fine,” she answered honestly. “I was sick at first, but I’ve been taking a potion to make me healthier.”
“Good,” he replied. He kissed her cheek. “Congratulations. You’re going to be a brilliant mother.”
“I hope so,” she smiled.
“I know so,” Remus replied confidently.
He stepped aside as Dana flung herself at Lily again. Looking to his right, he noticed Sirius watching the excited congratulations with a smile.
“You knew, didn’t you?” he asked quietly.
Sirius turned to him, his smile dimming slightly. “Yeah, I knew.”
Remus nodded silently.
“Look, Moony, it’s nothing personal,” he said. “I just happened to visit them the day they found out. Of course, they were excited, and they had to tell me – not because I was me, but because I was there. They wanted you to know first today. James gave you that picture, didn’t he?”
Remus nodded again. “They do seem happy,” he said as Peter hugged James.
“I think they are,” Sirius grinned. “It’s going to be fun to have a baby in the group, isn’t it?”
Remus shifted his attention from the conversation between Peter and Lily to Laura, who was talking excitedly with Olivia. “Yes,” he agreed, still watching his wife, “yes, it’s definitely going to be fun.”
Laura waved her wand to illuminate the dark sitting room of her house, and turned to Remus with a smile.
“Can you believe Lily’s pregnant?”
Remus grinned as he hung up his cloak. “It’s brilliant. She and James are going to have so much fun with that baby.”
Laura smiled, and came up behind him with her own cloak in hand. “They’re really excited, aren’t they?”
“Wouldn’t you be?” Remus asked, taking her cloak from her and hanging it beside his.
Laura’s smile faded somewhat. “Yes,” she said softly. “I would be incredibly excited.”
Remus turned to face her, and tipped her chin up so he could look into her eyes. “You want a baby, too, don’t you?”
“Remus . . .”
“No, Laura, tell me the truth. The waiting is killing you, isn’t it?”
“Remus, we’ve only been married a couple months. Lily and James have been married nearly a year. I think it’s a bit early to get impatient, isn’t it?”
He shook his head, and kissed her. “I don’t want to wait anymore.”
“What?” she asked in shock. “But what about everything you said about the Healers and it not being safe and --?”
He silenced her with another kiss. When he finally broke it, he smiled at her.
“I’m going to make an appointment with the specialists tomorrow. I mean, it takes about a month to get in to see them, so I won’t have clearance right away, but it’s a start.”
“But you said you wanted to have a job . . .”
“I have a job.”
Laura gave him a reproachful look. “Being the ‘house-husband’ does not qualify, love, and you know it. If I stay home with the baby, who’s going to go to work?”
“Who said you have to stay home with the baby?”
“Laura, look. You love your job. You have so much ambition, and you want to move up in the Ministry. You’re already well on your way to becoming a prosecutor. But . . .” He shrugged, and smiled helplessly. “I don’t have the kind of drive to work. Or, more accurately, the rest of our world doesn’t want me to have a stable career – at least not one that will support a family. I can stay home with the baby, and you can go back to work.”
Laura’s eyes widened. “What?”
“You don’t like that idea?”
“It’s not that I don’t trust you with the baby,” she said. “It’s just so different, so not what people do! The mother always stays home with the baby.”
Remus smiled. “Who says we have to be like everyone else?”
“You’ve really thought about this, haven’t you? You really want to do this?”
“I really do. Do you?”
Laura smiled, and bit her lower lip. “I really do, too.”
Remus grinned. “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” she smiled, leaning up to kiss him again. “When can we get started on our baby?”
Remus laughed, and pulled her even closer. “I still haven’t talked to the Healers, so we can’t start on the baby yet . . . but we can still practice tonight.”
Laura laughed, and kissed him again. “I definitely think practicing is a good idea.”
“So he really hired Snape?” Sirius asked in a low voice, nodding in Dumbledore’s direction.
James nodded. At the Order New Year’s Eve party, he had finally found the opportunity to tell Sirius about his newest coworker. “Shocked doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel,” he said, taking a sip of his drink. “You should have seen my face when Snivelly walked into the room!”
Sirius laughed. “You’ll have to give him hell, you know. You can’t be in that school with him without making his life miserable.”
“I’m a teacher now, Sirius,” James laughed.
“That just means you’ll have to be more covert,” Sirius replied, giving him a wink. “Come on, Prongs! I know there’s still plenty of marauding left in you!”
James opened his mouth to answer, but was cut off by a loud call from Frank Longbottom.
“Could everyone make sure they have a drink?” he called. “I’d like to make a toast!”
Lily made her way over to James and Sirius, and took a place between them. “Do you guys know what’s going on?”
“No,” James replied.
“Got me,” Sirius said. He eyed the glass in Lily’s hands suspiciously. “What are you drinking?”
“Cider,” she replied defensively. “And Remus got it for me, so stop assuming that someone is trying to slip me alcohol.”
“Did I say that?”
“You didn’t need to. I know what kinds of things go through your mind, Black.”
Sirius laughed. “If that were true, you’d be in a scary place, Little Flower.”
“Does everyone have a drink?”
A hush fell over the group as all eyes turned to Frank. He held out his hand for Alice, pulling her to the center of the room with him.
“As you know, Alice and I have been focused on our careers as Aurors for quite some time now,” he said. “We have dedicated our lives to ensuring the safety of our world, and to fighting Voldemort. But, our lives are about to change.”
“They aren’t quitting?” Sirius muttered, the color draining from his face. “We need them on our side! They’re two of the best Aurors the Ministry has!”
“Shhh,” Lily cautioned.
“Alice and I recently received some news that we have been waiting for for a long, long time,” he continued, a grin lighting up his face. “I’m not sure that everyone will be excited, given the current events of our world, but I hope you can all be happy for us as we look forward to the birth of our first baby this summer.”
A cry of joy went up around them as everyone rushed forward to congratulate the couple. Sirius looked at Lily and James with a smile.
“They’ve wanted a baby forever,” he said. “They’ve been married for years, and they’ve spent so much time working . . .” His smile faded as his voice trailed off. “I’ll bet Moody’s not too happy about this. He didn’t even like the idea that they were married.” He shook his head. “So, are you two going to announce your happy news now?”
James looked at Lily, and they both shook their heads.
“Let’s let them have their moment,” James said. “They’ve waited for it far longer than we have.”
After the party, when they had come home to change the calendar to 1980, Lily took out a sheet of paper and a pen. James looked at her curiously as she sat down at her desk, shoving her parchment and quills aside.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
Lily smiled at him. “Completing my first New Year’s resolution.”
She thought for several moments, then began to write.
“I know it’s been a long time since our last communication – too long. I respect all that you said in your last letter, and all that you feel. Even so, you must understand that I cannot apologize for being the person I am, or for living the life I live. But, I wish that things could be different between us, especially now.
“I just found out that I’m pregnant! I know we’re young, but James and I are very excited. The baby will be born on August 4, and Petunia, I want you to be there with me. You are my baby’s aunt, and I want you to be a part of his or her life. I want my baby to know my family – you and Vernon.
“I know that things have been wrong between us for a long time, but I’m ready to make them right. Please help me fix our relationship, Petunia. If not for me or for you, do it for our children. They deserve to know one another. They deserve to know their mothers’ family.
“I hope to hear from you soon. You and Vernon will always be in my thoughts and prayers.
She read the letter twice, then carefully folded it into an envelope. She sealed and stamped it, and put it on her desk. She would mail it as soon as the post office opened. She wasn’t sure why, but she felt an odd desire – no, need – to reconnect with her sister. Something told her that it was imperative that she fix this rift with Petunia before it was too late.
I cried, when I saw the "It all ends!" banner!!
But now I know, it never will....
Re: The Real World!
“I can’t believe you,” Petunia muttered.
She read the letter through for the fourth time, trying to get her mind around what was happening. She had received this letter from the most unlikely of people. How could this have happened? She had asked for space, and for an end to their relationship. She didn’t want to continue this pointless contact. Thing could not be like they were before – not now, and not ever.
She looked at the letter again without actually seeing it. Her sister’s neat, precise script represented words that she was sure would have been screamed had they been spoken. There was something about Lily’s letter that had a desperate tone to it. What could have happened to make Lily, her powerful, fearless sister so scared?
“Petunia? Where are you?”
“In here,” Petunia called from the kitchen, where the mail was scattered across the table.
“Hello,” Vernon said as he came into the sunlit room. He kissed her cheek. “What’s that you’re reading?”
“Yes, I can see that,” Vernon chuckled. “Who is it from?”
Vernon’s eyes widened in surprise. “Your sister?”
“What does she want? Money?”
“No,” Petunia said quickly. “She wanted to let me know that she’s pregnant.”
“Pregnant? Their kind can have children?”
“Yes, of course,” Petunia replied.
“But the baby will be like them?”
“I’m sure. They’re too powerful not to have a – a child like them.”
Vernon shook his head. “We’d better keep our baby away from them.” He reached down to touch Petunia’s expanded midsection. “We don’t want him or her to have to deal with that. God only knows what this little cousin would do to our baby.”
Petunia nodded, but remained silent.
Vernon looked at her with narrowed eyes. “You’re not thinking of writing her back, are you? You’ve always said . . . Well, we’ve always acted as though she doesn’t exist.”
“I know,” Petunia said. She thought for a moment, then put Lily’s letter down on the table. “No, I’m not going to write her back. It’s because of her and that awful husband of hers that I don’t have parents. It’s because of them that our baby won’t have grandparents.”
Vernon nodded. “Too right it is.” He picked up the mail, and began leafing through it.
Petunia rose to her feet, and picked the letter up again. “I’m going to go lie down for a minute before dinner.”
“Rest well,” Vernon said, his eyes never leaving the bills in front of him.
Petunia walked out of the kitchen, and up to her bedroom. She closed the door behind her, and leaned against it for a moment. With trembling hands, she raised Lily’s letter to eye level again.
“You killed them,” she said to the paper as if it were Lily herself. “You killed our parents, and you spent your entire life being a reminder to them of everything they were not – of everything they never could be. I will not let you and your family hurt Vernon and my baby the way you’ve hurt me. No, Lily, I will not help you make this relationship ‘right.’ As far as I’m concerned, it’s fine the way it is.”
She nodded to herself in satisfaction. Even so, she did not throw the letter away. She folded it into a tiny square, and put it in her jewelry box.
James smiled as Dumbledore stood to address the teachers. He was seated between Professors Flitwick and Turner, who were both watching Dumbledore attentively. Even though the entire staff’s attention was trained on the Headmaster, he felt as though someone was watching him. He turned quickly, and saw Snape sitting behind him.
Irritated, he turned back to face Dumbledore. How could the Headmaster have appointed Snape of all people as a professor? For some reason, it made James’s own position seem cheaper, like it wasn’t worth as much. If he was willing to hire people like Snape, people who were practically known Death Eaters, what did that say for his opinion of his staff? James didn’t have a chance to dwell on this further; Dumbledore was continuing with his speech.
“I’m glad to see that you all made it through the holidays successfully, and have returned to Hogwarts in fine form. Our students will be doing the same in just a few hours. As usual, we will be running this as any other day. Dinner will be served at the usual times, and classes will resume tomorrow. Your revised syllabi for the second term, as well as your lesson plans for both this week and the next, will be due by Friday.
“Before I leave you to the work that I’m sure you have waiting for you, I would like to again welcome Professor Snape to our staff. He brings great expertise in the area of Potions, and I am certain that he will contribute greatly to our students’ success.”
James refrained from laughing, realizing that the Headmaster was serious. Dumbledore honestly thought that Snape would be a good teacher. James pitied the students that would be in his Potions classes. With a jolt, he realized that those students would include his own child. Unless Snape left or lost his job in the next eleven years, the newest Potter would be learning Potions from him.
“No,” he muttered.
Flitwick and Turner looked at him in surprise.
“Professor Potter?” Dumbledore asked.
“Sorry,” James said quickly. “Too many thoughts running through my head at the same time, I suppose.”
The Headmaster smiled. “I’m sure we can all understand that. And on that note, I will let you all get back to work. Good luck, and enjoy your classes tomorrow.”
James was relieved to stand up. He could hardly wait to leave the meeting, and to put as much distance between himself and Snivellus as possible. He was extremely thankful that the Potions class was in the dungeons, far from his third-floor classroom.
Inwardly groaning, James stopped at the sound of Professor McGonagall’s voice. He turned to face her, giving her the same smile that he had used in attempts to get himself out of trouble during his schooldays.
“We need to talk.”
James sighed. That smile had never once worked on her. “Yes, Professor?”
She took his arm, and led him to a secluded corner of the staffroom. “Potter, I know you’re not happy about having Snape here working with us, but you’re going to have to get over it.”
James’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Professor?”
“Do you think that my memory is so short that I don’t remember the feud that raged between you and Snape during your time here as a student? James, I had you in detention more times than any other student in my career, save Sirius Black, and the majority of those detentions were for dueling with Severus Snape. I’m sure that seven years of battle and dislike can’t be forgotten easily.”
“It wasn’t just dislike, Professor,” James said, his eyes skipping over to where Snape was disappearing through the doorway. “I hate Severus Snape, and all that he stands for. I may have just begun teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts, but I’ve believed in it all my life. I despise the Dark Arts, and I have always done everything I can to fight them. Snape, on the other hand, embraces them. He has always been obsessed with the Dark Arts. When he started here as a first year, he knew more curses than half his seventh year Housemates.” He paused. “You do realize that he’s a Death Eater, don’t you?”
“Potter, I will be completely honest with you,” McGonagall said wearily. “I don’t like having him teach here any more than you do. But it was Dumbledore’s decision to offer him the Potions position, and we must respect that. The Headmaster believes in second chances, and in giving everyone the chance to prove him or herself. And he may be right; the day may come when we are thankful we have Snape on our side.”
“But he isn’t on our side.”
“He may come around.” She gave James a severe look. “You must treat him with respect, and as your equal. Remember, it’s because of Dumbledore’s second chances that you became Head Boy, and had the chance to prove to us that you deserved your own teaching position.”
“There’s a difference there, Professor. I was never a threat to the student body.”
“Be respectful, James.” She paused, and shadows of amusement danced in the back of her eyes. “Don’t make me give you detention for hexing a staff member in the corridors.”
James grinned in spite of himself. “All right, Professor. I’ll behave – but only for you and Professor Dumbledore.”
“I suppose I’ll have to accept that for now.”
James went to dinner that night with the other professors. He had told Lily in advance that he wanted to eat at school the first night back, to prove to the students that he was still there. He took his usual seat between Professors Flitwick and Turner, who quickly included him in their conversation.
“Well, James, I suppose you’ll be the second to know, now that you’re here,” Professor Turner said.
“The second to know what?”
“I’m retiring at the end of the year.”
James’s eyes widened. “Are you seriously? I know you had mentioned it before . . .”
She nodded. “It’s time for me to allow someone else to teach the art of Divination. I’ve had enough.”
Professor Flitwick sighed. “I don’t know where Dumbledore is going to find someone to replace you!”
She smiled. “Oh, there are plenty of Seers out there – and I know that the one he will find has talent.”
“You’ve already met your replacement?” James asked.
“No, and neither has the Headmaster. But she is a talented woman – her personality is odd, but she does indeed have the Gift.”
James nodded, trying not to laugh. “Well, that would make her qualified.”
Professor Turner sighed. “It’s exciting to be preparing for this new adventure, but sad at the same time. I believe I’ll go prepare my lessons for tomorrow now.”
James watched her go, and shook his head. “She’s a little off, isn’t she?”
“All Seers are,” Flitwick sighed. “It’s in their nature. I do wish Dumbledore luck finding a replacement for her, though. Most Seers find their calling to be working somewhere other than a school. He was very lucky to find Professor Turner to begin with.”
“Very lucky indeed,” James said, remembering all the Divination lessons he had nearly slept through. He hoped the next teacher would be slightly more exciting.
Snape entered the Great Hall. James glanced up and down the staff table, wanting to see the other teachers’ reactions to their new colleague.
“You’re not happy about working with him, are you?” Flitwick asked.
“Not particularly,” James replied.
“That is one of the benefits of teaching,” Flitwick smiled. “You can go into your room and close your door. If your colleagues bother you, you really never have to see them!”
James laughed in spite of himself. Flitwick had a good point.
“I need to go, James. I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”
James nodded. “Good night, Professor.”
As soon as Flitwick left, James realized with a sinking feeling that he had open chairs on either side of him. It was time to leave the Great Hall before Snape decided to sit down next to him.
He walked away from the staff table in the same path Snape was taking toward it. Snape gave him a scowl.
“Watch where you’re going, Potter,” he sneered. “Wouldn’t want to have a collision, would you? I don’t believe the Defense professor is allowed to hex his coworkers.”
James glared. “Actually, since I do teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, I believe I would be well within my rights to hex you. I am teaching my students to defend themselves against dark wizards. I think that a live demonstration would be most beneficial to their learning.”
Snape’s hand twitched as though he wanted to grab his wand. “Careful, Potter.”
“Or what? You can’t do any more to me than I can do to you.” Knowing that McGonagall was watching him, James grinned. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning, Snivellus.”
He walked away, knowing very well that he had left Snape fuming behind him. He made it all the way to his classroom before he began laughing.
James picked up the mirror he had left on his desk. “Hey, Sirius.”
“What are you doing?”
“Well, leave them. You, Remus, Peter and I are meeting at the Three Broomsticks.”
“Why are we going to Hogsmeade?”
“We need a guys’ night out.” Sirius grinned. “Come on, now, you can’t tell me that you don’t need a drink after your first day working with Snivellus.”
James laughed. “Well, you got me there. He’s the same as he always was.”
“Did you expect him to change?”
“No, I suppose not.”
Sirius grinned. “Just hex him to death. I know you’re good at that.”
James laughed again. “I’d like to keep my job, thank you very much.”
“Well, at least come out for a drink, then.”
“All right. I need to talk to Lily, though.”
“Oh, fine, tell your wife where you’re going.”
James laughed. “What time are we meeting?”
“Is 7:30 all right with you?”
“Great! See you there!”
James shook his head, and grabbed his Floo powder. He hoped that Lily wouldn’t be upset about this.
Lily looked up in surprise as he stepped out of the fireplace. She was stretched out across the couch, looking completely relaxed.
“You didn’t Apparate,” she said, stating the obvious.
“No, I came straight from my office. You can’t –“
“Apparate or Disapparate within the castle, I know,” Lily interrupted. “I’m glad you’re home so early.”
He smiled, and leaned down to kiss her. “How are you feeling?”
He put his hand on her stomach, which was still flat and trim, hiding her condition from the world. “How’s the baby?”
“Fine. He hasn’t complained to me, at any rate.”
James smiled, and sat down with her on the couch.
“You’re not telling me something,” Lily said, pulling herself into a sitting position. “What’s going on? Did something happen?”
James laughed. “No, nothing major. I’m just not sure how you’re going to take this.”
“Well, tell me, and we’ll both find out.”
“I’m going out with the guys tonight.”
Lily’s face immediately relaxed, and she laid back down. “Is that all? Honestly, James, you practically scared me to death!”
“You’re not angry?”
“Why would I be?”
“I don’t know,” James shrugged. “You always hear stories of guys begging their wives for permission to go out with their guy friends, and we haven’t had a guys’ night out since you and I were married, so I wasn’t sure how you’d take it.”
Lily looked at him as if he had grown a second head. “James, if you want to go out with your friends, I’m fine with that. Just don’t get completely drunk, and then come back here and throw up all over me.”
He laughed. “Believe me, that wasn’t in my plans.”
“Good.” She smiled. “Have fun.”
“Thanks,” James grinned. He kissed her again. “I won’t be too late.”
“Yeah, well, I won’t wait up.”
Laughing, James Disapparated.
He, Sirius, Remus and Peter arrived at the Three Broomsticks at the same time. Sirius grinned at the sight of them all.
“It’s been far too long since we’ve done something like this,” he said. “Did our married men have any trouble getting out for the evening?”
James laughed. “Lily was appalled that I was afraid to ask her.”
“Laura told me to warn her next time so she could organize a girls’ night,” Remus said.
Sirius looked at Peter with a grin. “We’re lucky we don’t have such issues leaving home.”
Peter laughed. “Well, my mum did tell me not to be out too late.”
“We need to get you out of that house, Peter,” Sirius sighed. “Come on, guys. Let’s go inside.”
They made their way into the Three Broomsticks, and took seats at the bar. Madam Rosmerta’s eyebrows shot up at the sight of them.
“Well, if it isn’t my four favorite customers!” she said as she came over. “I had started to think that you had forgotten about this place!”
“We could never forget you,” Sirius grinned, giving her a wink.
She shook her head. “You are a hopeless flirt, Black. But you do amuse me. What will you gentlemen be drinking tonight?”
“We’re going to start with shots of firewhiskey,” Sirius said promptly.
“Coming right up.”
Remus looked at Sirius with raised eyebrows. “Shots of firewhiskey?”
“What? I know you’ve done them before.”
“Yeah, but it was usually for a reason . . . you know, to celebrate, or to drown our sorrows.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“So? What’s the occasion tonight?”
“There’s always something to celebrate,” Sirius said as Madam Rosmerta returned with four shot glasses and a bottle of alcohol.
“Here you are gentlemen,” she said, pouring their drinks. “Now, if you need refills and you can’t find me, talk to Rebecca. She’ll take care of you.”
She pointed across the bar, indicating the young girl who was serving a group of boys and girls who had clearly sneaked out of Hogwarts for the evening. James frowned slightly.
“Those are seventh years,” he muttered. “I should say something to them.”
“Prongs, come on,” Peter laughed. “Think of the number of times we did stuff like that! Don’t ruin their fun!”
“Or mine,” Sirius muttered.
“Your fun? You’re completely legal to be here,” James said.
“That Rebecca is cute, don’t you think?”
James looked away from the students to the barmaid. She was pretty, with dark curly hair and laughing eyes. He looked back at Sirius, who was still staring at her.
“Why don’t you just go talk to her?”
“I think I’ll wait until she’s done with your students,” he grinned. “No sense drawing attention to you. It’ll just give them all heart attacks.”
“We really need to find another place to hang out,” James sighed.
Sirius grinned. “Moony, you had asked what we are celebrating tonight. Well, let’s toast to new beginnings, then! I think we’re all ready to start something new. Personally, I’m ready to find someone to help me get over Olivia. Peter is clearly ready to move out of Mummy’s house. James is nearly a dad. And Remus . . . ?”
Remus grinned. “I guess I can tell you. Laura and I are going to try for a baby.”
James grinned. “Really? Remus, that’s great! Our kids can be friends!”
“They can be troublemakers together,” Sirius grinned. “I was concerned that little Potter would have to break the rules all alone. You know the Longbottoms’ kid won’t help him with that.”
Remus grinned. “Yeah, our kids are going to get along great.”
“Is Laura pregnant?” Peter asked.
“Not yet,” Remus replied. “But we’re working on it.”
Sirius laughed. “I’ve always said you were a beast, Remus. I’m sure Laura will be .....” He grinned.
Remus laughed, flushing slightly. “You have such a way of putting things, Sirius.”
Sirius grinned. “If you want pretty words, listen to James. I just tell it like it is.” He turned to Peter. “And I was serious about you moving out of your mum’s house. I think it’s time.”
Peter laughed. “And where exactly would I go?”
“You could live with me.”
“Sirius . . .”
“No, really,” Sirius said earnestly. “It hasn’t been the same since Moony left. Come on, Peter! I’m lonely! Come and live with me!”
Peter smiled, realizing that his friend was serious. “Really?”
“Would I offer if I didn’t mean it?”
Peter grinned. “All right, then. I’ll see what I can do.”
Sirius grinned, and raised his glass. “To new beginnings!”
“To new beginnings!” the others echoed.
All four threw back their shots, and put their glasses back down on the counter. Sirius glanced down the bar, looking for Rebecca.
“Well, Prongs, I think your students spotted you,” he said.
“Why?” James asked, his head snapping around.
“I just saw them all run out of here. Looks like you’re in the clear for another drink!”
James laughed. “I think I’m allowed to drink. They’re the ones who should be worried.”
Rebecca made her way over to them, and cleared away their empty glasses. Sirius gave her a grin, and she smiled back.
“Can I get you guys something?”
“Just butterbeers,” Remus said before Sirius had a chance to respond.
“Coming right up.”
Sirius gave Remus a glare. “What did you do that for?”
“Look, Padfoot, you are obviously going to go after this girl tonight. If you want to do that successfully, it’s best not to be drunk off your ***. Believe me, a sober Sirius will impress her far more than a drunken Sirius.”
Sirius grinned. “I suppose I’ll have to admit that you’re right.”
“Good. Now, I think I get automatic best man status at the wedding as thanks for keeping you sober.”
Sirius rolled his eyes. “ Tell you what. I’ve already decided that James and Lily are having a boy, so you have a girl, and they can be the ring bearer and the flower girl.”
“Yeah, I’ll get right on that,” Remus grinned.
They were all still laughing when Rebecca returned with foaming tankards of butterbeer. She put them down in front of then with a smile.
“I understand you guys used to be regulars here,” she commented. “Madam Rosmerta just told me to take good care of you.”
“Yeah, we were regulars in our younger days,” Sirius replied. “But I don’t ever remember seeing you here. Are you new to the area? You didn’t go to Hogwarts, did you?”
“No, I went to Beauxbatons,” she said. “My mother is French; I grew up in France.”
“Your English is fantastic,” Sirius said. It was true; Rebecca spoke with only the slightest accent.
“My father is British,” she replied. “My parents lived here until I was born, then we all moved to France. My mother died three months ago, and my father and I moved back here together.”
“So you haven’t been here very long, then?”
“No, not at all.”
Sirius grinned. “Well, if you need someone to show you around, I’m your man.”
Rebecca smiled, flushing slightly. “All right, then. Does my willing tour guide have a name?”
“Sirius Black,” he replied with a grin.
Her eyes widened. “Are you related to Bellatrix Black? Well, I guess Bellatrix Lestrange, now.”
Sirius could barely understand his cousin’s new surname through Rebecca’s perfect, thick accent as she said the French word, but knew that there was no question as to who she was thinking of.
“Yes,” he said shortly. “I haven’t spoken to her in years, so I can’t give you any information about her.”
“I didn’t want any,” Rebecca said. “I just knew her husband, Rodolphus, at school.”
Sirius nodded, remembering Lily telling him that his cousin’s husband had attended Beauxbatons. “Right. Well, I generally don’t associate with my family.”
Rebecca nodded, realizing that Sirius’s family was a sore subject. “We weren’t friends or anything, I just knew who he was.”
Sirius nodded. “So, when are you free? Does Rosie give you time off?”
“How about Saturday?” Rebecca asked.
“Perfect,” Sirius replied, giving her the smile that had made half the girls at Hogwarts fall in love with him. “I can hardly wait to give you the insider tour.”
“Neither can I.”
Lily looked up from her desk in shock as her door was thrown open, colliding with the wall. “Olivia!”
Olivia walked fully into Lily’s office, slamming the door behind her so hard that the wall shook. “What the bloody hell does he think he’s playing at?”
“Sirius! Who else?”
Lily frowned. “Not to be stupid, Liv, but what are you talking about?”
“Please! You can’t tell me that James didn’t tell you about Sirius and his new girlfriend!” She spat the last word with such venom that Lily nearly jumped.
“Are you talking about Rebecca?”
“Oh, so that’s her name?”
“Yes.” Lily sighed, and ran her hands over her face. “Sit down, Liv.”
Olivia glared at her, and sat down. “How long have you known?”
“I haven’t had very long to know. They just met this past week. How did you find out?”
“How could I not? Sirius was talking to the other guys at the Academy about her. Apparently, they spent all day Saturday together, and are going out this weekend.” She glared at Lily again. “And you, wife of his best friend, are going to tell me every last detail about the little idiot.”
“I don’t really know much to tell you, Liv.”
“You must know something. You can’t make me believe that Sirius hasn’t told James anything about her.”
“Even if he has –“
“James has told you everything. I know you two. You can’t not share things. It’s how your relationship works.”
Lily sighed again. “Her name is Rebecca Malone. She’s eighteen years old. She grew up in France, and went to Beauxbatons. Her mother was French, and died three months ago. Her British father brought her back here after her mother’s death. According to Sirius – and to James, who met her for all of fifteen minutes – she’s a sweet girl. I haven’t met her myself, so I can’t give you any firsthand information.”
“Is she pretty?”
“I have no idea. I told you, I’ve never met her.”
Olivia rolled her eyes. “Lils, come on. What did James and Sirius say?”
Lily screwed up her face. “James said she’s cute.”
Olivia exhaled. “That bloody *******! How can he leave me for her?”
“Liv, you broke up with him,” Lily said gently. “You set him free. What did you expect him to do?”
“Come back!” Olivia yelled. “He was supposed to realize how much he loved me and that he can’t live without me, and come running back to me with an engagement ring to rival yours!”
Lily smiled sadly. “I’m sure he still loves you, Liv.”
“Then how can he be with her?” Her eyes widened.
Lily’s face registered her surprise at the question. “He hardly tells me things like that.”
“But he must have told James?”
“If he did, James hasn’t told me. I don’t know.”
Olivia’s eyes narrowed. “I’m going to get him back for this, Lils. He’s going to regret ever looking at this girl.”
“What exactly are you planning to do?”
“I’m going to find myself a new man!”
Remus stood to his feet, and followed the nurse back toward the examining rooms. He could feel others’ eyes on him as he walked across the waiting room. He wondered if he looked as nervous as he felt. He hoped not. He liked to think that he had gotten fairly good at hiding his emotions over the years.
The nurse showed him into a room, and began taking his temperature and blood pressure. “You’re just here for a consultation today, right?”
“That’s right,” Remus agreed as the woman made notes on his chart.
“How have your transformations been?”
“No problems at all?”
“No.” Remus knew what the innocent question was really asking: Had he bitten anyone? As much as he knew they question was necessary, he hated and resented it. They always acted as though he had no control over himself. Then again . . . During the full moon, he didn’t.
“Good.” She finished her preliminary work, and gave him a smile. “The Healer should be with you shortly.”
The woman smiled again, and left the room, closing the door behind her.
Remus almost wished that she would come back. He hated waiting alone to see the Healer. It made him even more nervous. Maybe he should have given in to Laura’s offer to skip a day of work to come with him. No, it was better this way. Good or bad, he wanted to be able to give his wife the news himself. He didn’t want her to have to hear it from a Healer that she had never met.
A knock sounded on the door, and it was pushed open. Healer Jones, the man Remus had been dealing with since he had received the bite that had turned his life upside down at the age of six, walked in with a smile.
“Remus, it’s good to see you,” he said, reaching out to shake Remus’s hand. “How have you been?”
“Fine,” Remus smiled. Of all the people he dealt with at St. Mungo’s, Healer Jones was the one person that he trusted and respected. He was the one person who treated Remus like a man, rather than a monster. “How are you?”
Healer Jones smiled. “Well, that’s unusual. No one usually asks me how I am. I’m fine, thanks.”
Remus grinned. “You don’t usually see people who are happy.”
“That’s true enough. So, what brings you in today?” The Healer took a seat, and looked at Remus, his eyes already taking in quite a bit about his condition and state of mind.
“Well, I had a few questions for you.”
“Go right ahead.”
Remus took a deep breath. “Well, I know that Laura and I have only been married for a few months, but we’ve started talking about children.” He smiled faintly. “We really want to try to have one of our own, but I was concerned . . .”
The Healer nodded. “You were right to come to us first. You’re a cautious man, Remus, and one who is very responsible about his condition.”
“Is that no, then?” Disappointment flooded his being. He hadn’t realized exactly how much he had wanted a child of his own until it was taken away from him.
“No, it’s not a no,” Healer Jones replied. “It’s a ‘you have to be careful.’”
Remus’s hopes surged back up. “Really? Careful how, exactly?”
“Well, to be perfectly honest, we’re not sure if you can pass your condition to your child through genetics. All our research suggests that it’s not hereditary, but it’s a chance that we’re not willing to take.”
Remus frowned. “Sir, you’ve been studying this for decades. Forgive me, but how can you be unsure?”
Healer Jones smiled. “Remus, you are one of the few werewolves I know who is married. You are one of the few who even became close enough to a member of the opposite sex for children to be a concern at all. We aren’t sure because we simply haven’t had enough couples to study to find reliable results.”
Remus exhaled. “So, what are you telling me? Can Laura and I have children or not?”
The Healer nodded, and stood. He moved to a cabinet, and began rummaging through it, searching for a particular potion. “You can. But you have to take this potion before . . . shall we say, the conception. It will ensure that your child will not inherit your condition, should it be passed genetically.”
“And if it cannot be passed genetically?”
“The potion will not hurt the baby, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“That’s what I was asking.”
“Just be sure that you take it once a week until your wife conceives.”
“The affects will last a week?”
The Healer grinned. “Yes, the affects will last a week. You can . . . try to get pregnant as many times as you want to in that week.”
Remus grinned, flushing slightly. “Thanks, Healer Jones.”
“You’re welcome.” A frown creased his brow. “When your wife does become pregnant, please bring her in for a check up with me.”
“I thought you said there was no risk with this potion.”
“There isn’t. But, as I also said, couples such the two of you are rare. I’d like to examine her, if she’ll consent.”
Remus nodded. “I’ll talk to her.”
Laura wasn’t home when he got there. He smiled. This was perfect. He’d have plenty of time to get ready.
Over an hour later, a soft pop sounded as Laura appeared in the house. She looked around the silent living room in confusion. Certainly Remus would be home from St. Mungo’s by this time.
“Remus?” she called.
“Upstairs!” he called.
Laura began to climb the steps. “Did you talk to the Healers?” she called as she walked. “Did they give you a definitive answer, or do they need to run tests?”
“No, I talked to them.”
“What did they say? Where are you?”
“In the bedroom.”
Laura changed directions, and pushed open the door to their bedroom. She gasped, her hand still on the doorknob.
“Remus!” she gasped. “What is all this?”
Remus grinned as her eyes took in the dozens of candles, and the rose petals he had strewn across the bedspread. She looked up at him in shock.
“Do you like it?”
“I love it!” she replied. “But why did you do this?”
“Well,” he said slowly, crossing to pull her close, “I thought that in light of the news I got today, you might want to start on our baby immediately.”
Laura’s face lit up as a beaming smile spread across it. “You mean --?”
“They said it’s fine. I just have to take a potion to make sure I don’t pass on any . . . genetic defects. But I took it an hour ago, and we are clear to make a baby.”
Laura stood up on tiptoe to press her lips against his. “I love you.”
Remus grinned, and kissed her back. “I love you, too.”
I cried, when I saw the "It all ends!" banner!!
But now I know, it never will....
Re: The Real World!
The post below is propably my best chapter until now! I hope you like it...
I won't be posting for the next fifteen days, starting from tommorrow...My sister had a daughter and I will be busy with the naming ceremony and officialization of my Godfather status! I will post one chapter tommorrow!
Shock and Horror
“You’ve done well for me, Peter.”
Peter managed to keep from smiling at his master’s praise. “Thank you, my Lord.”
“I’m impressed with your ability to play both sides. It’s something not everyone can manage.” Voldemort leaned back in his chair, and rested his fingertips together under his chin. “As you know, we are currently planning Friday’s attack on Hogsmeade. Have you heard it mentioned by Dumbledore or his followers?”
“No, my Lord.”
“Very well. I will ask my Ministry connections if the Aurors have heard of our plans. You may go, Pettigrew.”
Peter left the office silently. Once in the hall, he allowed his face to light up in a smile. He had managed to do something for the Dark Lord that he never had for his own father: to make him proud. He would have to continue his work to keep the approval of his new master. He knew his job. This attack must remain a secret. The Dark Lord trusted him – needed him – to keep his secret. He would never let him down.
“James, we need to talk.”
James looked up from the essays he was correcting with concern on his face. “This doesn’t sound good.”
Lily smiled as she sat down next to him on the couch. “It’s not bad,” she said. “I’m just afraid it could start a serious debate.”
“Well, let’s start debating,” James replied as he put down his quill. “What is our topic tonight?”
“We need a name for the baby.”
James’s eyebrows shot up. “You’re right. That is a loaded topic.”
Lily giggled. “I think we can handle it. Besides, we need to have something for when your parents come for dinner tomorrow.”
James rolled his eyes. “Mum needs to give it a rest. We still have over six months before the baby is born! That’s plenty of time to choose a name.”
“Well, we have to at least have a couple of names that we’re considering. Come on, James, this is her first grandchild! I think your parents are more excited than we are!”
“That’s not possible,” he smiled. “How are we going to do this? We don’t know if we’re having a boy or a girl!”
“We’ll have to pick a name for a boy and one for a girl.”
“All right, then. You start.”
Lily nodded, apprehension sneaking into her eyes. “If we have a girl, I’d rather like to name her for my mum.”
“Brenna?” James asked.
Lily nodded again, still nervous that he wouldn’t like the idea. She wanted so much to name her daughter after her mother, but if James didn’t agree, they’d have to come up with a different name. “If that’s all right with you?”
James smiled, and touched her cheek. “I think it’s brilliant. Do you have a middle name chosen for her, too?”
She shook her head, feeling happiness flood through her. “No, not yet. Any suggestions?”
James thought for a moment, then nodded slowly. “Can we use my aunt’s name? Elizabeth?”
A picture of thirteen-year-old James struggling to be strong as he returned to school following the Death Eater attack that had killed his aunt raced through Lily’s head. Tears began to form in her eyes at the very thought.
“If you don’t like it, we can use something else,” James said quickly. “I just thought it might be appropriate, you know?”
“Of course,” Lily said softly, blinking back her tears. “It’s perfect. Absolutely perfect.” She closed her eyes, and placed her hand over her abdomen. “Brenna Elizabeth. I love it. She’s going to be a tough little girl, with namesakes like those.”
James smiled, thinking of how pleased his father would be to know that they would name their daughter for his sister. “And what if we have a boy instead of a girl? Have you chosen a name for him, as well?”
“Not yet. But I picked the girl’s name. You pick the boy’s.”
His eyes widened. “That’s a pretty tall order, Lil.”
“You can do it.”
“Well . . .” James trailed off in thought. After several moments, he looked at her with an apologetic smile. “I have no idea. Can we get back to this later?”
Lily laughed, and kissed his cheek. “Of course. Like you said, we have six months. And now we have one name to give your parents tomorrow. I think that should placate them for awhile.”
“A very little while,” James replied with a grin. “But it’ll buy us some time.” He leaned over to kiss her lips. “But I’m sure we can find something to do with our time now.”
He kissed her again, lowering her down on the couch. She shifted her position so that he could lie down with her, and giggled.
“What?” James asked.
“I don’t know . . . I guess I would hate to think of my parents in this position – and we’re almost parents now.”
James laughed. “Well, as you are one of two children, your parents were in this position more than once. And if you want more children than little Brenna Elizabeth or . . . whatever name I pick, we’re going to be in this position more than once as well.”
Lily ran her fingers through his hair, and kissed his neck. “I hope we are for more reasons than just that.”
James looked down at her for a moment, then kissed her again. For the time being, all thoughts of their baby were forgotten.
Lily fluttered around the house, throwing spell after spell at the dining room table. James watched her with a grin.
“You know, my mum already knows that you can cook,” he commented. “There’s no need to throw the perfect dinner party at this point.”
Lily gave him a tolerant smile. “You are such a man. Every dinner party has to be perfect.” She brushed a strand of red hair back from her face. “And as much as your mother loves me and I love her, I will always feel the need to impress her.”
James frowned. “I don’t see why. You’re right; she does love you already.”
Lily smiled again. “James, I took you away from her. You were her little boy, and now you’re my husband. However much she loves me, I’ll always have to live up to her expectations of me.”
James shook his head. “You women are ridiculous. You know that, don’t you?”
Lily giggled, and kissed his cheek. “We just love you, that’s all.”
“Well, I love you, too.” He kissed her lips.
Two soft pops sounded, and James stepped back from Lily. He grinned as his parents appeared in the foyer, and went to join them.
James hugged and kissed his mother, and shook his father’s hand. Lily put down her wand, and entered the room, where she was greeted with hugs and kisses from both of James’s parents.
“How are you feeling, darling?” Mrs. Potter asked, touching Lily’s cheek.
“Fine,” Lily replied with a smile. “James has been taking very good care of me.”
“And that’s no easy task,” James grinned. “I can barely convince her to sit still for more than five minutes at a time!”
“You need to rest for the baby, darling,” Mrs. Potter said with concern in her voice. “You haven’t been doing any more dangerous assignments for the paper, have you?”
“Oh, no, not at all!” Lily replied. “When I told Dorcas about the baby, she relegated me to desk duty. Minnie has been doing all the reconnaissance work on her own recently.” She made a face. “As much as I love writing, I really wish I could be out there, gathering information on my own.”
Mr. Potter chuckled. “You and James truly are perfect for one another, you know. I think half the reason he never wanted to be an Auror was that he didn’t want to have to follow orders about his missions.”
James laughed. “Your other son is the family Auror trainee, Dad.”
Mr. Potter laughed. “Well, Sirius won’t be in training much longer. Moody and Frank have told us that the trainees will be ready to move into full Auror status by the end of March.”
“So soon?” Mrs. Potter asked, concern darkening her eyes again. “I don’t like the idea of Sirius and Olivia putting their lives on the line like that.”
“To be fair, they do it already,” Mr. Potter said gently. “The trainees we’ve brought in the past few years have been shorted the ‘training’ part of their program. We need everyone we can get to fight.” He sighed, and ran a hand over his face. “It isn’t right, but it’s what has to happen. And, to be completely honest, the trainees we’ve had move up during the war have been better trained than any I’ve seen in my career.”
An uneasy silence fell as everyone thought of exactly how the Aurors had received that training – through difficult, firsthand experience. Lily cleared her throat, hoping to clear the mood.
“If you want to come into the dining room, dinner is ready.”
Her comment worked; easy conversation began as they took their seats around the dining room table. James said grace, and they began eating the meal that Lily had prepared.
“This is delicious, dear,” Mrs. Potter said, giving her a warm smile. “You have wonderful cooking abilities.”
Lily smiled, and flushed. “I made this meal the Muggle way – no magic.”
“Really. It’s how I learned first, so it’s what I know best.”
Mrs. Potter smiled. “You’ll have to teach your daughters Muggle cooking tricks.”
“Of course,” Lily replied, thinking of how much fun she would have with her little girls in the kitchen, teaching them how to cook.
“Which reminds me,” Mrs. Potter said, looking at both Lily and James, “have you two considered baby names at all?”
“We have a name chosen for a girl,” James said quickly. He had to admit that it felt good to tell his mother that much. Lily had been right to insist that they come up with a name.
“We chose Brenna Elizabeth,” Lily said softly.
“Brenna for your mother?” Mrs. Potter asked.
“Yes,” Lily said, blinking back tears as she thought of how excited and proud her mother would be to know that she would be a grandmother.
“And Elizabeth for . . .?” Mrs. Potter’s eyes swung to her son’s face.
James nodded. “For Aunt Liz.”
Mr. Potter cleared his throat, and blinked several times. “That’s a beautiful name,” he said with feeling. “Beautiful. Aunt Liz would be proud to know that your daughter has her name.”
Mrs. Potter reached under the table to squeeze his hand. He gripped her fingers firmly, fighting for control. It had been so long since his sister had died . . . so long since he had even spoken of her. Even so, it was still painful to think of her, and to hear her name. But, somehow, it was healing to know that James’s little girl – his granddaughter – would bear her name.
“Do you know for sure that you’re having a girl, then?” Mrs. Potter asked.
“No,” James said. “Lily chose Brenna and I chose Elizabeth for a girl. We haven’t decided on a boy’s name yet.”
“I told James he has to come up with a first name,” Lily added. “Once he does that, I might help him out with the middle name.”
“You’re lucky you still have almost seven months, dear,” Mrs. Potter laughed. “James can deliberate forever!”
Their laughter was cut off by a buzzing sound. Mr. Potter looked surprised, and released his wife’s hand to reach into his pocket. He pulled out a clear globe that looked almost like a small crystal ball. Words were running across it in purple, and it was humming softly as it vibrated.
“What is that?” Lily asked curiously, leaning across the table to see the device.
James and his mother exchanged glances. Mr. Potter looked at them all apologetically.
“It’s a summoning globe,” he said. “All Aurors carry them. They are used to call us to situations. See the script? It gives me my Apparation point and a brief description of what to expect.”
“So you have to go, then?”
“I’m sorry, Lily,” he said, his expression showing that he truly was sorry. “I didn’t expect to be called for duty tonight; in fact, I’m not even an on-call Auror this weekend.” He frowned slightly. “This could be a bad situation. Margaret, stay with James and Lily as long as you want, then just go home. I’ll come back there instead of coming here” He gave Lily a smile. “We have to get our new mother off to bed early.”
Mrs. Potter forced a smile. “You’ll be careful, won’t you, Harold?”
“I always am,” he smiled. He kissed her gently. “I’ll come back to you.”
“I know,” she said, kissing him again. “Good luck.”
“Thank you.” He pulled away from his wife, and smiled at James and Lily. “We’ll try for a nice dinner next weekend, shall we?”
“I insist,” Lily smiled. “I’ll even let you pick the menu.”
“Deal,” he grinned. He stood, and walked around the table to kiss her cheek. “Thank you for a lovely evening – or what would have been a lovely evening.”
He put his hand down on James’s shoulder. “Take care of my two favorite girls, all right?”
“I always do.”
With one last smile at them all, Mr. Potter Disapparated. Mrs. Potter sighed.
“That Ministry,” she said. “They always call him away at the most inconvenient times! And poor Lily, you even did all this without magic!”
“Well, that was just the food,” Lily laughed. “Getting everything on the table like this involved quite a bit of magic.”
“I was afraid to come in for a bit,” James added with a laugh.
Mrs. Potter shook her head with a smile. “Oh, you two.”
“Lily made a fantastic dessert, too,” James said. “Shall I go get it now?”
“Let’s let our food settle first,” Lily said. “We can wait a minute before we start it.”
James nodded, and started to say something else; his words were cut off by a flash of white light. A golden phoenix feather fell in the middle of the table. They all stared at it for a moment. Mrs. Potter sighed, and picked up the parchment that accompanied the feather.
“It is a difficult situation,” she said tensely. “We’ve been called in to assist the Aurors.”
James was around the table in a flash to read the parchment bearing their instructions.
“I’m going to help Harold,” Mrs. Potter said, standing up. She looked at Lily. “You take care of that baby,” she said earnestly.
“Of course,” Lily replied, taken aback.
“I’m serious, Lily,” she said, the tension returning to her voice. “No chances, no heroics. Take care of your baby.” She looked at James. “And you take care of them both.”
“I will,” James replied.
Mrs. Potter surprised him by pulling him into a tight hug. “I love you, James.” She looked over his shoulder at Lily. “I love you, too, Lily. You and the baby.”
Lily nodded, surprised by the desperation in her mother-in-law’s demeanor. She normally didn’t panic like this. James was obviously having the same thoughts.
“Mum, are you all right?” he asked.
“Fine,” she said tensely. “I just – I have an odd feeling about this battle. But I have to go help your father.”
With that, she Disapparated. James looked at Lily, then back down at the parchment.
“There’s been an attack in Hogsmeade,” he said.
“Just let me get my wand, and I’ll be ready,” Lily said. “What’s the Apparation point?”
“No, Lil, you’re not going.”
She turned to look at him as though he had lost his mind. “What did you just say?”
“I said you can’t go.”
“Since when do you make statements like that?” she asked angrily. “The Aurors are in trouble! They already called your dad out on his day off, and now they’re summoning us! They need all the help they can get!”
“Not your help,” James said firmly. He put his hands on her shoulders. “Lily, you can’t go into battle tonight. You need to take care of yourself.”
“I’ve always taken care of myself. I’m a good fighter, James.”
“I know you are. You’re one of the strongest fighters I know. But I also know that in battles like the ones we fight, anything can happen. You and I have both taken Unforgivable Curses, and we’ve both spent time in St. Mungo’s as a result of battles with Death Eaters. You can’t take those chances, Lil. Not now. You need to protect the baby.”
“The baby,” she muttered, reaching down to touch her stomach.
“Yes, the baby,” James repeated. “You stay here and take care of Brenna . . . or . . . whatever name I pick.”
Lily giggled in spite of the seriousness of the situation. “You’d better get on that.”
“I will,” he smiled. He kissed her. “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” she replied. “Take care of yourself.”
“I will,” he promised. “You take care, too – of both of you.”
James put his wand into his back pocket, and closed his eyes to Disapparate. As she watched him, panic unlike any she had ever known filled Lily’s being.
His eyes flew open. “What?”
She kissed him again, hard. When she pulled back, tears stood in her eyes.
“Hey,” he said, reaching up to brush away a tear that slid down her cheek. “What’s this?”
“I just want to be there to know that you’re all right,” she said, her voice shaking. “I love you, James.”
“I’ll come home to you, Lil,” he promised. “I love you – both of you.”
Another tear fell. “We love you, too.”
He smiled, and touched her cheek, then Disapparated. Lily sank down onto her chair, and let herself cry.
“Oh, God, protect him,” she whispered. “I don’t think I can live without him. I need him.” She put her hand over her midsection again. “We need him.”
“Potter, what in God’s name do you think you’re doing?”
James jumped at the growling yell. “Apparating as instructed,” he replied.
Moody glared at him. “Get that wand out of your pocket! Are you trying to maim yourself?”
Sirius grinned. “Think of the conversation starter that would be. James would be able to tell the story of how he blew off his arse at every party he went to for the rest of his life!”
“Black, you are within months of becoming an Auror! Now is not the time to start taking things lightly!”
The grin instantly slid off Sirius’s face. It was replaced by the emotionless Auror mask that James had known all his life. Although he had seen it on his father’s face more times than he could count, it was incredibly odd to see it on the face of his best friend.
“Where’s Lily?” Moody asked.
“At home,” James said. “She can’t fight now. The baby could be hurt.”
Moody nodded. He looked as though it cost him no small effort to hold his tongue.
“How did she take that?” Sirius asked, his eyes beginning to twinkle again.
“Not well,” James said, seeing in his mind the tears swimming in his wife’s eyes, “for more reasons than one.”
“Well, let’s get to it, then,” Moody growled. “We didn’t come here to chit-chat. Black, you and Potter go secure the south end of High Street. Remember, send up red sparks if you need help.”
Sirius nodded, his Auror mask back in place. “Let’s go, James.”
James nodded, and followed his best friend into danger, knowing there were very few people on earth he trusted as much as he trusted Sirius Black.
“All right,” Lily muttered to herself. “Sitting her crying isn’t going to help anyone. I need to calm down.”
She waved her wand at the dining room table, sending dishes and leftover food into the kitchen. She followed them in, and, with a few more spells, put the food away and left the dishes washing themselves. With that accomplished, she went back into the living room, and sank down on the couch. She noticed James’s essays on the coffee table, and picked on up. She smiled as she read the title.
“’Practical defense against common jinxes,’” she read aloud. Her eyes skimmed the heading. “Fourth year. That seems a bit late for this topic, with his new curriculum. I wonder . . .”
Her musings were cut short by a soft pop. She gasped, and jumped to her feet, tossing the essay aside. She looked around wildly, desperately trying to remember where she had left her wand.
She frowned, trying to place the familiar voice. “Yes?”
Alice Longbottom walked into the living room. Relief instantly flooded over Lily.
“Oh, thank goodness,” she sighed. “I was afraid you were . . . I don’t even know who. I was just afraid.”
Alice smiled. “That’s why I came over. I couldn’t stand being alone in my house, just waiting . . . I thought you might need some company, too.”
“I know exactly how you feel,” Lily said, lowering herself onto the couch again. “Please, sit down. Can I get you anything to drink?”
Alice shook her head as she sat down next to Lily. “I’m too jumpy to even consider sipping tea right now.” She smiled apologetically. “This is the first time Frank has gone into battle without me. I don’t know how to sit at home and wait for him. I want to be there, helping in the fight.” She sighed, and touched her midsection. “I guess I’d better get used to it.”
Lily smiled. “When is your due date?”
“Really?” Lily exclaimed, a grin lighting up her face. “Mine is the fourth of August!”
“That’s fantastic!” Alice exclaimed. “Our babies will practically share a birthday! They can bond over that long before they become dorm-mates at Hogwarts.”
Lily grinned. “If you’re a little early, they can share a birthday.”
“Oh, no,” Alice laughed. “This one is coming late, if anything. I’m going to need every day I can get to make sure I have everything ready for him.”
“You know it’s a boy, then?”
“Yes. Frank and I couldn’t stand the wait.”
Lily giggled. “Does he have a name yet?”
“No, not yet,” Alice sighed. “We’ve been debating the past few days, but we can’t seem to agree. I have a feeling one of us will have to give up on a name we love in the end.”
Lily giggled again. “I can’t wait for them to get to know each other.”
“They’re going to be great friends,” Alice smiled.
“The best,” Lily agreed. “Hopefully, without our penchant for throwing themselves into dangerous situations. If I’m this worried about James, I don’t even want to think about my baby fighting Voldemort.”
“Hopefully, they won’t have to,” Alice said. “Hopefully, this whole war will be over by the time they’re born.”
“This isn’t really the best time to be pregnant, is it?” Lily asked softly.
“There never is a good time,” Alice replied, her eyes taking on a far-away look. “Something is always happening. When Frank and I were first married, we had just become Aurors. You can’t have a baby when you’re just starting your career, can you? So we agreed to wait until we were established. Then, when we first started talking about trying to have a baby, Voldemort surfaced. The entire Auror department was thrown into chaos. We knew we couldn’t start a family then. We didn’t even discuss it; we just dropped the topic.”
She smiled sadly, and continued. “Then, about five years ago, we realized that Voldemort wasn’t going away in the foreseeable future. But part of what he’s doing to take over our world is to force us to stop living our lives. Frank and I are Aurors and Order members. We can see his game plan better than anyone. We decided that we weren’t going to let him stop us from having the life had always wanted. So, we started trying for a baby.” Her smile faded. “For five years, we couldn’t get pregnant. Five years. Can you even imagine? We went to Healers, to specialists . . . I thought it was hopeless. We had given up when I realized that I was pregnant.”
She smiled again, and leaned forward, taking Lily’s hand in hers. “No, Lily, this isn’t the best time to be pregnant. But after five years of thinking this was impossible, I don’t care about finding a good time anymore. I wouldn’t trade the chance to have a baby for anything. After all these years of waiting, trying, hoping, and crying, I will never take my little boy for granted.”
“James, to your left!”
Without thinking, James swung left. “Stupefy!”
The sound of a thud told him that his stunner had hit its target. He turned back around just in time to duck a jet of red light.
“Stupefy!” he yelled again.
James screwed up his face at the sound of breaking bones as the Death Eater’s legs snapped. He looked at Sirius, who shrugged.
“Moody has me trained to do worse. And it was effective, wasn’t it?”
“I’ve used it before,” James admitted. “We’ve all done worse. But that doesn’t mean that I like it.”
“This is war, James. That’s what it’s all about. None of us like what we’re doing – but we do it.”
A crash split the air as the window behind them shattered. Both young men jumped out of the way of the flying glass, and spun around, their wands held steadily in front of them.
To their surprise, no one came charging into the store they had been trying to secure. James glanced at Sirius with raised eyebrows.
“They’re trying to bait us out,” Sirius said. “They want us to come outside.”
“We have to go,” James replied. “We’re not doing anyone any good staying in here.”
“I know that. But we have to be smart about this. There could be hundreds of them out there.”
James raised an eyebrow. “Hundreds?”
Sirius rolled his eyes. “All right, dozens. Is that better?”
“My point is, we can’t just go running out there. We need to go slowly, to make sure we’re prepared to battle whatever we have to.”
“I never thought I’d see the day that you planned ahead for anything, let alone battle.”
“Blame Moody,” Sirius grinned. He gripped his wand. “All right, I’ll go first. Cover me.”
“Are you sure you want to go first?”
“You have a family, James,” Sirius replied. “You have Lily and your baby to think about. I just have me. Yeah, I want to go first.”
Without even leaving James time to reply, Sirius kicked down the door and stepped out into the darkness.
Lily looked up from the chess board with an apologetic smile. “I’m sorry, Alice. I just can’t seem to concentrate.”
“You have to,” Alice replied simply. “You need to take your mind away from what’s happening in Hogsmeade.”
“How can I think of anything else when James is in danger? How can you be so calm about Frank being there?”
Alice ran her hands over her eyes. “James is a good fighter, Lily. He’ll be fine. He and Frank will come home to us in no time.”
Lily sighed. “It’s different for you, Alice. Frank is an Auror. No, not just an Auror. He’s one of the best Aurors the Ministry has. You know that he can take care of himself.”
Alice looked away for a moment, and wrapped her arms around herself. “I know that Frank is one of the best fighters we have on our side. And I know that he will do his best to come home to me. I also know that some fantastic fighters have fallen to Voldemort.” She shivered slightly. “Frank and James have the Aurors and the Order on their side, Lily. I know they’ll all take care of one another to the best of their ability.”
Lily nodded slowly. Yes. James did have some incredible allies. She knew that Sirius and Olivia were there, fighting as Aurors with all they had in them. She knew that Laura, Remus and Peter were there, fighting with the Order. Their friends would protect James. She also knew that his parents were there, and that they would give their lives to protect their son – the same way she would give her life to protect her own child.
James slammed his body flat on the ground as the Killing Curse flashed over his head. It continued on, striking a Death Eater. Without a sound, the victim fell to the ground. James winced. That could have easily been him.
“Reducto!” he shouted, pointed his wand at the Death Eater who had tried to kill him. He heard bones breaking, followed by the thud of a body hitting the ground.
“How many are there?” James asked as he jumped to his feet again.
“At least ten,” Sirius replied. “****, James we should have stayed in the house! Stupefy!”
James’s Shield Charm went up just in time to save Sirius from the pain of the curse. Sirius turned to him with a smile.
They separated again, each doing battle with as many Death Eaters as they could. James wondered if Sirius had been low-balling it with his estimate of ten Death Eaters. Every time one fell, it seemed that there was another to take his or her place. Would the supply of evil never run out?
James looked up at the sound of a new voice. His father was running at them, his wand out in front of him.
A Death Eater fell, and Mr. Potter made his way over to his son.
“Why didn’t you send up red sparks? You and Sirius are in way over your heads!”
“We didn’t exactly have time,” James replied. “Impedimenta!”
“You two will be the death of me,” Mr. Potter said.
He jumped into the battle with them, helping the two younger men to stop and contain the Death Eaters. James felt energized with the arrival of his father. Now, with three of them, they stood a better chance of making it. He turned around, and began dueling with another Death Eater.
As they circled one another, firing curses at rapid speeds, a new shout filled the group.
James turned to see a jet of green light rushing toward Sirius’s back. Deep in battle, Sirius had no idea that there was even a Death Eater behind him.
“SIRIUS!” James bellowed, feeling his throat close.
Sirius turned in time to see the jet of light. His face registered surprise, but he was frozen, unable to move.
A figure charged at him, knocking Sirius of the way of the Killing Curse. While Sirius rolled out of the way, his savior took the curse, and fell to the ground with a sickening thump.
“NO!” James screamed.
Lily rose from her seat, and crossed to the window. She looked out on the calm evening with a slight frown.
“It’s hard to believe, isn’t it? That there could be a battle raging somewhere right now? I mean, this street is completely peaceful. There’s nothing going on. There’s not even a stray dog wandering around. How could a world that is so peaceful be in such upheaval?”
Alice stood to join Lily at the window, and shook her head. “I don’t know, Lily. I really don’t. But this is how it is. Battle can’t be everywhere at once. For every battleground in the world, there’s a street just like this one.”
Lily sighed. “I just want this to be over, Alice. I just want to live a normal, calm, war-free life. Is that so much to ask for?”
“No, of course not.” Alice put her arm around Lily’s waist, drawing her against her side. “You’re helping that to happen, Lily. That’s why you joined the Order.”
Lily shook her head. “I joined the Order because one of my friends was killed by Death Eaters. If Kathleen was still with us, I don’t know that I would have done this.”
“Yes, you would have. I know you, Lily. You fight for what you believe in. And this – stopping this evil that is trying to dominate our world – is something you believe in.”
Lily nodded. “I just wish there was another way. I wish this could be fixed without so many innocent people dying.”
“We all do,” Alice said, hugging her close. “We all do.”
Sirius held his wand up over his head, and shot up red sparks. Within seconds, Aurors arrived, working to contain the Death Eaters. The situation under control, Sirius limped over to his best friend.
“James?” he asked softly.
James looked up at him with a tear-streaked face. “He wasn’t supposed to die.”
“I know.” Sirius dropped down to his knees next to James. His hand shook as he reached out to grip James’s shoulder. He carefully averted his eyes from the sight of the body that James was holding in his arms.
“Damn it, Sirius! This is my dad! The one man who was supposed to be invincible! The one who was always supposed to be there for me! He wasn’t supposed to die! He wasn’t supposed to leave me!”
“I know,” Sirius said again, tears welling in his eyes.
He finally brought himself to look down at Mr. Potter. The man who had been like a father to him since he was twelve looked back up at him, his eyes unseeing, his face frozen in the surprised expression that was characteristic of victims of the Killing Curse. Sirius choked back a sob, and gripped James’s shoulder even harder.
“James . . . I’m so . . . It should have been me.”
James rounded on him, his eyes flashing. “You’re right. It should have been you.”
Sirius flinched at the cold anger in his friend’s eyes. “James . . .”
“You killed him!” James yelled. He shook Sirius’s hand off his shoulder, and reached up to grab his throat. “You killed my father!”
“No!” Sirius choked. “James, I didn’t want your dad dead! I didn’t even see him coming, I swear! I don’t know how he got there so fast, I don’t know why he threw me out of the way, I don’t know why he took that curse for me, I don’t know . . .” Tears began to fall down Sirius’s cheeks. “I would take the curse to bring him back for you, James. You know that. I would never do anything to hurt your family.”
“Why did you let him do that?” James whispered. He released his grip on Sirius’s throat, and began to sob uncontrollably, leaning over his father’s body.
“James,” Sirius muttered. He put his arms around his friend, trying to pull him away from the body.
“Oh, God,” James moaned. “How could this happen to my dad?”
Giving in to the sobs that were shaking his body, and let himself slump against Sirius. Sirius held him tightly, his own tears sliding down his cheeks.
Remus looked up from Healing the arm of a little girl to see Peter running toward him. Even though he had been kicked out of Healer training, he had learned quite a bit, and the Order and Aurors weren’t so quick to quibble about details like certification. Remus found his expertise, lacking though it was, to be much appreciated at battle scenes.
“Peter?” he asked.
“We have a situation,” Peter said tensely. He looked close to breaking down.
“What is it?” Remus asked, gripping his wand tightly, already mentally preparing for battle.
Peter shook his head. “It’s not a fight. The – the Death Eaters are pretty well contained.”
“What is it, then?”
Tears formed in Peter’s eyes. “It’s James.”
The color drained from Remus’s face. “James?” he whispered. What is going to happen to Lily? And the baby? James shouldn’t have come, he shouldn’t have tried to fight. He should have stayed home with Lily.
“He’s all right,” Peter said quickly, realizing that he had scared unintentionally Remus to death. “But – his dad took a Killing Curse.”
“Are you saying -?”
Peter nodded. “Mr. Potter is dead.”
Remus swallowed with obvious effort. “Where are they?”
“Come on. I’ll take you there.”
Remus nodded, and got to his feet. He absently patted the head of the little girl with the newly-healed arm.
“You’re fine now, sweetie,” he said. “You can go find your mum.”
The girl smiled, and bounded of in the direction of her mother, who was waiting to welcome her with open arms. The woman laughed as her daughter ran to her, and swept her up, crushing her against her chest. Remus watched the scene, and blinked. That was how it was supposed to be. Parents were supposed to be there for their children.
“Let’s go,” he said to Peter in a hollow voice.
Peter nodded, his eyes wide and haunted. Without a word, he began to walk toward the scene where Sirius was trying to comfort James. Remus silently fell into step beside him. He wasn’t any more inclined to talk than Peter was.
Peter stopped as they drew closer. “There,” he said hoarsely, pointing at the place where James was leaning on Sirius’s shoulder. A body lay in front of them.
Remus sucked in his breath quickly. Even though he had believed Peter from the first, he could now see for himself that this was real. Mr. Potter was truly gone. He shook his head as though trying to clear it.
“Come on,” he whispered. “They need us.”
Peter nodded, and followed Remus to their friends. Remus dropped to his knees in front of James.
James looked up, his face streaked with tears and misery. “My dad, Remus,” he whispered.
“I know,” Remus said softly. “Peter told me.”
James swallowed. “My dad’s been fighting for years, Remus. He’s been an Auror longer than I’ve been alive. How could he die?”
Remus shook his head. He didn’t have the answers James so desperately needed. He reached out to grab James’s shoulder.
“You know we’re here for you, right?” Remus looked at Sirius, then turned to look at Peter, who was standing behind him. “Sirius, Peter and I aren’t going anywhere.”
“I know.” James cleared his throat, and ran his hand over his eyes. “I need to tell my mum. She’s here somewhere . . .”
“I’ll find her,” Peter volunteered at once.
James looked up at him, and tried to smile. “Thanks, Wormtail.”
Peter nodded, and stepped back from his friends.
Peter walked across the empty battlefield that had been a bustling village only hours before, searching for Mrs. Potter. If he was honest with himself, he would have to admit that finding her sounded like torture. He didn’t want to take her back to James. He didn’t want to be the one to show her the body of her dead husband. He didn’t want to be the one who broke his friend’s family apart – the one who smashed it to pieces.
But he was. Everything that had happened – this attack, this battle, this death, this shattered family – it was all his fault. He had known that this would happen. Well, not that Mr. Potter would die, but he had known that the Death Eaters would attack Hogsmeade. He was a spy for the Dark Lord. He had information that others could only dream of acquiring. He had known!
And yet he had done nothing – nothing – to stop it. He had remained silent, keeping the details of the attack a secret, not going to Dumbledore with all that he knew. Dumbledore could have stopped this. He could have prevented the senseless death of one of the most well-respected, powerful wizards in their world.
But could he? Dumbledore hadn’t saved so many people. He hadn’t saved Dana’s father. He hadn’t saved Lily’s parents. He hadn’t saved Kathleen.
Tears began to roll down Peter’s cheeks. He stopped, leaning against a tree for support. Would it have done any good if he had told Dumbledore what he knew? Would it have made a difference?
If he had gone to Dumbledore, he would have had to admit his Death Eater status. How could he admit that to Dumbledore? How could he tell the most powerful wizard aside from the Dark Lord that he had joined the ranks of his most bitter enemy? How could he stand to see the disappointment that would flood Dumbledore’s eyes?
Peter began to sob, sliding down the trunk of the tree to the ground. He pulled his knees up to his chest, and clutched his hair in a gesture reminiscent of James.
James. What had he done? How could he make it right?
“Yeah?” James asked, lifting his head from his hands.
Remus swallowed. “I don’t know where Peter is, mate, but your mum is coming.”
James was on his feet in a second. “Where is she?”
James followed Remus’s pointing finger to see his mother walking toward him. He swallowed, and ran his hand through his hair. “I have to go meet her. She can’t see my dad like this – not without knowing first.”
Remus nodded. “Sirius and I will be right here.”
Sirius looked at James with haunted eyes. “Do you want me to come with you, mate?”
James considered him for a moment, then shook his head. “No, I want to be alone with her right now. I know she’ll want to talk to you, though.”
Sirius nodded in understanding, and gripped James’s shoulder. “Good luck, mate.”
James nodded, and left them. As he walked toward his mother, he tried desperately to come up with a good way to tell her what had happened. In his mind, he remembered doing the same thing as he had crossed Lily’s parents’ backyard, preparing to tell her that her mum and dad had died. He had managed to do that successfully. Could he do the same this time?
“James!” Mrs. Potter rushed toward him, and pulled him into an embrace, crushing him against her. “I saw the red sparks over here, and I was so worried that it was you! Are you all right? Who were you fighting with? Where’s Lily?”
“Mum, I’m fine,” James said, pulling away from her arms. “But there’s something I need to tell you.”
“Who was your partner, James? Not Lily?”
“No, I made Lily stay home,” James said quickly. “She’s fine.”
“Thank God. I was so worried about her and the baby.”
“Mum, please, you have to listen to me for a minute.”
Something in his tone made her stop her line of questioning. She looked searchingly into his face, tears already beginning to gather in her eyes.
“James, something terrible has happened, hasn’t it?” she whispered. “What is it? Tell me!”
James drew a deep breath, and put his hands on her shoulders. “Mum, Sirius and I were fighting the Death Eaters over there. They had baited us outside the store, and were attacking us – it was awful. We didn’t even have time to shoot up red sparks for help. There was nothing we could do. I thought we had lost for sure.
“Then Dad appeared out of no where. He started fighting with us, and I thought we had a chance. I thought we could beat them.”
Mrs. Potter’s eyes widened, and a tear slid down her cheek. “Did something happen to Sirius?”
“Almost,” James said, drawing another deep breath. “A Death Eater shot the Killing Curse at him. I saw it, but it was too late – I thought he was dead for sure. It was going straight at him, and he didn’t have time to react, he couldn’t jump out of the way –“
“But you said he’s all right,” Mrs. Potter interrupted.
“Yeah,” James said. “Yeah, Mum, Sirius is all right. But that’s because Dad – Dad – well, he jumped in front of Sirius, and knocked him out of the way.”
“Thank goodness,” Mrs. Potter breathed. “So they’re all right, then.”
“No, Mum,” James said, his own tears beginning to fall again. “Sirius is all right because Dad knocked him aside, but Dad . . . Dad took the Killing Curse for Sirius.”
Mrs. Potter blinked. “What?”
James nodded, his tears falling faster. “Dad died, Mum.”
“James . . .” An odd expression crossed her face. Was it disbelief?
“Come with me,” James said, taking her hand.
He led his mother, who was now completely silent, across the street to the place where his father lay. She held his arm with her free hand, clinging to him as though afraid he would leave her. Sirius and Remus were standing guard over Mr. Potter’s lifeless body, their faces ashen.
One look at the faces of two of her son’s best friends should have been all the confirmation she needed. But she let her eyes drop, and fall upon the body of her husband. As she looked at the man she had loved for the majority of her life, she began to shake. She gripped James’s arm, her nails biting into his flesh through his robes. James winced, but did not say a word. He knew he couldn’t fault her any emotions that were running through her.
Without a word, she dropped to her knees, releasing James’s arm. He knelt down next to her as she reached out a shaking hand to touch her husband’s face.
“You’re so cold,” she whispered, tears beginning to run down her cheeks. “You’re so – Harold! How can you leave me like this? How can you leave James? He’s your son, Harold, he needs you! Your grandchild needs you! You can’t leave us! You can’t!”
James grabbed his mother’s shoulders, turning her face back to him. She looked at him for a moment, and, with a heart-wrenching cry of misery, buried her face into his chest. James held her tightly as she sobbed against him.
A stricken man looked up at Laura. “Yes?”
“Hi,” she said. “I’m Laura Lupin, a member of the Magical Law Enforcement division of the Ministry. If it’s all right with you, I’d like to get a statement about today’s attack.”
“Will this be in the paper?” he asked warily.
“No, sir, I’m not a reporter,” she clarified. “I just need statement to help in the prosecution of those responsible for today’s attack.”
The man nodded. “All right, then.”
Laura smiled, and took out her quill and parchment, trying to ignore the nagging feeling that something wasn’t right. She wasn’t exactly sure what was wrong with her, but she felt incredibly odd.
“Are you all right, miss?” the man asked. “You look a little pale.”
“I’m fine,” Laura said.
The man nodded. “All right. Where do you want me to begin?”
“Well . . .” Laura’s voice died as spots of light appeared before eyes. “Maybe I’m not all right,” she admitted, lowering herself to a sitting position.
“Listen, is there someone I can get for you?” the man asked, concern showing on his face.
Laura looked up, and realized how obscured her vision had become. Feeling panic take hold, she gasped. “My husband – Remus –“
Blackness filled her field of vision, and her eyes rolled back her head as she fainted.
Remus, who had been sitting with Sirius a short distance away from the Potters, jumped to his feet. “Right here!”
A man he had never seen before ran over to him. “Your wife . . .” he panted.
“Laura?” Panic seized Remus. “Is she all right? What happened?”
“I don’t know,” the man said. “She was going to get a statement from me, and just passed out! I don’t know what happened to her!”
“Where is she?”
“Over there,” the man said, indicating the general direction. “I can show you . . .”
But it was too late. Remus was off at a run.
Laura opened her heavy eyes to see Remus standing over her. She had never seen him like that – he looked almost panicked.
“Hey,” she said hoarsely.
“Thank God,” Remus muttered. “How do you feel?”
“Like I’ve been hit by a truck.”
Laura tried to smile. “I thought your grandmother was a Muggle.”
Remus smiled, relief showing on his face. “Thank God you’re back.”
“You passed out.”
“I’d like to know the same thing,” Remus said grimly. “Where you hit by any spells today?”
“Nothing abnormal. Nothing that slowed me down.”
Remus nodded tensely. That didn’t make his job of diagnosing her any easier.
Laura looked thoughtful, then her eyes lit up. “Remus! Could I be pregnant?”
Remus smiled sadly. “No. I already did a spell to test for that.”
“Just before you woke up. I’m sorry, love.”
Laura smiled. “Well, I guess we’ll just have to try harder, then.”
Remus shook his head. “Not until we know for sure what happened to you, love. We’re not doing anything that could put your health in danger.”
Remus turned from Laura to see Sirius standing uncertainly in the entrance to the medical tent. He crossed the make-shift room, and stepped outside with his friend. “Yeah?”
“I’m going to take James back to Lily,” he said. “I just wanted you to know.”
“What about Mrs. Potter?”
“She’s going to St. Mungo’s. James wanted her to be checked over. Once we tell Lily, James wants to go there. I’d imagine Lily will, too.”
Remus nodded. “All right. Let them all know they’re in my prayers.”
“Will do,” Sirius said, running his hand over his eyes. “I’ll see you later.”
Sirius turned to face Remus. “Yeah?”
“Are you all right, mate?”
Sirius shrugged. “I have to be, don’t I?” He turned around again, and walked away.
Remus watched him disappear, wondering how Sirius himself was going to cope with this tragedy. He was being so strong for James, but he was going to have to deal with this as well. Mr. Potter had been like a father to him, and, no matter how much everyone denied it, Remus was sure that Sirius would blame himself for his mentor’s death. It was only a matter of time before the emotion took over and Sirius exploded. But, after his break up with Olivia, who would be there to pick up the pieces?
I cried, when I saw the "It all ends!" banner!!
But now I know, it never will....
Re: The Real World!
“Are you ready, mate?”
James nodded slowly, then shook his head. “Sirius, I really don’t know how I’m going to tell her this. Lily loves – loved my dad. Ever since her parents . . . my parents have been like a replacement family for her. I don’t know how I can put her through this again.”
Sirius gripped his shoulder. “Lily is strong, James. With everything that she’s dealt with over the course of her lifetime, I know that she’s strong enough to deal with this, too.” He looked at his friend sharply. “Can you deal with it?”
“I have to, don’t I?” James replied, unknowingly repeating the same words Sirius had used earlier. “I have to be strong for my mum. She’s the one who’s really going to need support to get through this.” He smiled slightly. “She and my dad always had this perfect marriage, you know? They were always so good together – they made me want to have that with someone.”
“And you do,” Sirius said.
“I know. Without them and the example of their marriage, of the love they have always had for one another, I don’t think I would have been able to love Lily the way that I do. It’s the same way that my parents love one another. And the way that I love her . . . Sirius, I don’t think I could make it if something happened to her. How is my mum going to survive this?”
“Your mum has you,” Sirius said. “She has you, and she has Lily, and I know that the two of you will help her through this. And, if she’ll let me, so will I.”
“Sirius,” James said slowly. He exhaled, and ran his hand through his hair. “About what I said earlier – I know this wasn’t you fault. You didn’t ask to have the Killing Curse shot at you, and you didn’t ask my dad to jump in front of you. It was wrong of me to even suggest that this was your fault. I’m sorry, and I hope you know that I’m so grateful to you for being here for me right now.”
Sirius smiled faintly. “I know, James.”
“Good.” James glanced around. “What happened to Remus and Peter?”
“I don’t know where Peter is.”
Sirius sighed. “He’s with Laura in the medical tent.”
James’s eyes widened. “What happened?”
“They’re still not sure. Laura passed out or something. She’s all right now, I guess.”
James ran his hands over his face again. He couldn’t deal with this. “Remus can fix her,” he said confidently. Remus would deal with it, and everything would be fine.
“Right.” Sirius glanced at his watch. “We’d better get you home. We have to let Lily know what’s happened before the Prophet shows up, asking her for a statement.”
James paled slightly. “This can’t wind up in the paper.”
“James, your dad was one of the Ministry’s top-ranked Aurors. It’s going to be all over the press.”
James sighed, and nodded. “All right, let’s go tell Lily.”
Lily was sitting by herself when a pop and a crack told her that someone was entering her house. She jumped up off the couch, clutching her wand in front of her. She lowered it with a sigh of relief when she saw the faces of her husband and friend.
“Where have you two been?” she asked. “Frank came to get Alice ages ago!”
Sirius frowned. “Frank and Alice Longbottom?”
“Yes. Alice came over so that we could keep each other company while we waited for our husbands to come back. She left Frank a note at home, so he knew to come here to find her.” She smiled, and crossed the room to hug James. “I’ve missed you. Are you all right? I was so worried the entire time you were gone!”
James responded instantly to her touch, and wrapped his arms around her, holding her tightly. He bowed his head over her shoulder, and let the tears that had been bottled up ever since he first saw his mother fall down his cheeks, wetting the red strands of her hair. Fear filled Lily, and she held him even tighter, looking at Sirius with questions in her eyes. He shook his head silently.
“James, what is it?” she asked softly, pulling back enough to look into his eyes. She kept her arms around his neck, sensing that he needed to feel physically close to her.
James looked at her for a moment, unable to stop the tears. He opened his mouth, but couldn’t find the words. He had told her that her parents were dead, but now couldn’t string a sentence together to tell her of his own father’s death. He shook his head mutely, trying in vain to stop his tears.
“James, you’re scaring me,” she said, trying to keep the panic out of her voice. “Please tell me what’s happened.”
“Lil . . .” The tears fell even harder. He hadn’t meant to scare her.
“Please, James,” she said, tears filling her own eyes.
He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t look into her green eyes anymore, watching them fill with fear and tears. He couldn’t stand to be the one who made her cry. He released her, and stumbled backwards, out of the room. Lily looked after him in shock as his footsteps sounded on the stairs.
“****,” Sirius muttered as they heard the bedroom door slam. “This is worse than I thought.”
Lily looked at Sirius, the tears still standing in her eyes. “Please tell me what’s happened.”
Sirius ran his hands over his face. “You shouldn’t hear it from me.”
“Well, I have to hear it from someone!” Lily exclaimed, anger beginning to take over. “Damn it, Sirius! James is an emotional wreck, which is something I’ve never seen before, and you won’t tell me why? What is wrong with you?” Tears slid down her cheeks. “What happened out there?”
Sirius drew a deep breath, and took Lily’s hand. “Come on, Little Flower. Sit down with me for a minute.”
With a shaky gasp, Lily followed Sirius to the couch. “What’s happened?” she asked in a terrified whisper, her eyes open wide.
“It’s James’s dad,” Sirius said slowly as they sat down side by side. “Lily, he – he died tonight.”
“What?” she gasped, her hands flying to her face.
Sirius nodded, an incredible sorrow filling his eyes. “I know,” he said heavily, “I know.”
“He was one of the best Aurors in the Ministry! He’s been fighting against the Death Eaters since they were organized. If anyone out there knows what they’re doing, it’s him! How could this have happened?”
Sirius drew another deep breath. “James and I were fighting a group of Death Eaters. We were seriously outnumbered when Mr. Potter showed up to help us. It was still only three of us, but he definitely helped a lot. Then – I don’t know what happened exactly. One minute I’m fighting this Death Eater, and the next James is screaming my name. I turned around, and saw this jet of green light. Well, you know as well as I do what that means. I thought I was dead for sure. All I could think was that I never got to tell. . .” He trailed off, knowing that he’d never tell Lily the thoughts that had gone through his mind – the thoughts of one of her best friends.
He sighed, and continued. “At the last second, this person came flying out of nowhere, and slammed into me. I fell, and the curse missed me. But it hit the person who had run into me.”
“James’s dad,” Lily said. It wasn’t a question. She already knew what Sirius would say.
Sirius nodded. “God, Lily, I wish he hadn’t done that. I wish it had been me, and that James and his mother could still have their family.”
“Sirius,” she said gently, laying her hand on his arm, “do you think that’s what they think? That you should have died in place of James’s dad? Do you think that they’re blaming you?”
Sirius shook his head slowly. “James told me that it’s not my fault, and I know that his mother would never . . . Well, I know that the person she was before this would blame his job, or the Death Eaters.”
“It was the Death Eaters, Sirius. They’re the ones who killed James’s father. Not you.”
Sirius tried to smile and failed. “Yeah, I know that.”
“Do you? Do you really?”
Sirius sighed. “I’m not the one you should worry about right now, Little Flower. James is.”
“James . . .” she muttered, looking up toward the stairs.
“Get him down here,” Sirius said. “I want to take him to St. Mungo’s. That’s where his mum is now.”
Lily flinched. “Did his mum --?”
“No,” Sirius said quickly. “She’s fine – well, physically, at any rate. But James wanted her to go to be checked over.”
Lily nodded. “That makes sense. All right. Wait here a minute, and I bring him down.”
Lily stood up, then looked down at Sirius. “Thank you for telling me,” she said softly. “You’re a good friend, Sirius, both to James and to me. We’re lucky to have you.”
He smiled. “I’m lucky to have you.”
Lily smiled back, and leaned down to kiss his cheek. Then she straightened up, and went to find her husband.
Lily climbed slowly to the top of the stairs, trying to think of some words that she could use to ease the grief that James was feeling. What could she say to him? How could she help him? She knew better than anyone what it was like to lose a parent. She forced herself to think back the worst time of her life. What had helped her the most during those dark days after her parents’ deaths?
Drawing her memories and courage up, she knocked on the closed bedroom door. There was no response, which she took as permission to enter. She pushed the door open slowly, wanting to give him a moment to recognize that she was coming into the room.
James was standing by the window, looking outside. He turned to face Lily as she walked into the room; the vacant look in his eyes told her that he had not seen anything of the world outside the window.
“Did Sirius tell you?” he asked hoarsely.
She nodded silently, slowly crossing the room.
“Did he tell you how it happened?”
Again, she nodded. She had made her way across the distance between them, and was now standing close enough to touch him.
“It’s not his fault, you know.”
“I know. I told him that.”
James sighed. “I tried to tell him before, but I guess . . . I hope he listens to you.”
“So do I.”
“My mum’s not taking it well.”
“I’m all right.”
She shook her head. “James, this is me. Lily. You don’t have to be strong for me.”
The gently spoken words were enough to begin breaking down the barriers he had tried to construct around his heart. “God, Lil,” he said, tears filling his eyes again. “How am I going to make it without him?”
As his face crumpled, Lily was there. She grabbed him, putting her arms around him to draw him close. The action was enough to break away the last of the barriers. As he felt her arms around him, her cheek against his chest, her hair under his chin, he knew that her kindness was too much. The tears fell slowly at first, and then gathered speed. He clung to her and sobbed, letting the grief drain from his body. Lily held him tightly, gently rocking him back and forth, just as she would have done with a small child.
“It’s all right,” she said softly. “I’m here. I’m here.”
James’s only response was to continue sobbing. He clutched her to him, almost as if afraid to let her go.
Lily wasn’t sure how long they stayed like that, but eventually became aware that James had stopped crying. She pulled back, and looked at him critically.
“I know you’re not all right, so I won’t ask,” she said. “But you know that I’m here for you, right? I’m not going anywhere.”
“Between you and Sirius, I’ll never be alone again.”
She smiled slightly. “That’s the idea.”
James gently kissed her lips. “Thank you.”
“You don’t have to thank me,” she replied. “You did the same for me.”
James’s eyes darkened. “Yeah, I guess I did. But you had to endure so much more than me. I still have my mum . . . ”
Lily shook her head. “You can’t compare the two, so don’t even try. Every loss is horrible, no matter who or how many people it is.”
James nodded. “We have to go to St. Mungo’s. I sent my mum there, and I need to go make sure she’s all right.”
Lily nodded. “Sirius told me. Do you want to go now?”
“Let’s go, then.”
Lily took his hand, and led him down the stairs. Sirius was still sitting on the couch where Lily had left him, holding his head in his hands. He looked up when they entered, his eyes skipping from James to Lily. Lily nodded, and tightened her hold on James’s hand.
“We’re ready to go to St. Mungo’s.”
“All right,” Sirius replied. “Are we Apparating or Flooing?”
“Let’s Floo,” James said at once. “I don’t think I have the mental capacity to Apparate anywhere right now without splinching myself.”
Lily crossed to the fireplace, and picked up a sack of glittering Floo powder. “You go ahead first, James. Sirius and I will follow.”
James nodded, and took a handful of the powder. “St. Mungo’s!” he yelled as he tossed it into the fireplace.
As he swirled out of sight, Sirius took the sack from Lily. “You go next,” he said. “I’ll be right behind you.”
Lily nodded her agreement, and was soon gone. Once she had disappeared from sight, Sirius took a handful of the glittering powder.
“God, give me the strength to do this,” he muttered. “St. Mungo’s!”
When Sirius stepped out of the grate at the hospital, James and Lily were brushing soot off their robes. Sirius followed their example, trying to remove some of the dust that was now clinging to his clothing. He hated traveling with Floo powder. He should have just told Lily that he would Apparate to the hospital to meet them.
“Do you know where your mum is?” Lily asked James.
He shook his head. “We have to go ask at the desk.”
Sirius followed his friends, who were holding hands again, drawing strength from one another. He shook slightly, feeling as though he was trapped in a surreal world. How could this really be happening? What had James done to deserve this? Then again, what had Lily done to have her parents taken away? What had Peter done to merit the loss of his father, and, going back even further, the love of his life? It wasn’t right, but neither was it something that could be explained. Sirius shook his head slightly, and clasped his hands together to still their shaking.
They arrived at the information desk, where several people were already waiting to talk to the receptionist. They waited their turn in silence. None of them had the strength to discuss what had happened, or the mental alertness to start a meaningless conversation.
At last, they made it to the receptionist. She gave them a smile, but looked at them a bit warily, almost as if trying to decide what exactly was wrong with one or all of them.
“May I help you?”
“I’m looking for my mother,” James said. “She came in about two hours ago.”
The woman nodded. “Her name?”
“Here she is. It says that only family may visit. Your name, please?”
She nodded as she checked her list, and looked behind him at Lily and Sirius. “Will they be visiting as well?”
“Are they family?”
James sighed in exasperation. “Lily Potter and Sirius Black.”
She frowned slightly, her eyes never leaving the list. “That last one isn’t a Potter.”
“Yes, I’m aware that he has a different last name, but he’s still family,” James said angrily. “Are you going to tell me where my mother is or not?”
Her eyes widened. “There’s no need to shout, sir.”
“There is every need to shout!” James yelled, the last of his tolerance snapping. “I just want to see my mother, and you’re bothering me with questions about the two people with me – the two people who are more family to me that some people’s blood relatives ever could be! Just tell me where my mother is and I’ll leave you alone!”
“James,” Lily said softly, stepping up next to him and putting a hand on his arm. She looked at the receptionist, whose eyes were widening with surprise and a bit of fear. “My husband has suffered a terrible loss today. If you could please simplify this for us, we’d appreciate it. Just tell us Mrs. Potter’s room number, and we’ll be off.”
“She’s in 1066,” the woman said, still looking rather shaken.
“Room 1066,” Lily repeated. “Thank you.”
James turned to join Sirius, who was standing off to the side. Lily made to follow him, but was stopped by the receptionist.
“It’s all for security,” she said. “I have a list of people who are allowed to visit Mrs. Potter, and I can’t let anyone else have her room number.”
“We understand,” Lily said.
“They said only family, and I was surprised to see Sirius Black on the list. I know he’s not a member of the Potter family.”
“How do you know that?” Lily asked, intrigued in spite of herself.
“I worked with his mother for years,” the woman replied. “When he was little, she always talked about him. Then, she stopped. I asked about him once, and all she said was that he was a blood traitor, whatever that was supposed to mean.”
Lily smiled sadly. “Well, thanks.”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“I wasn’t aware you had asked one,” Lily said, beginning to get annoyed.
“Why is he listed as a family member of the Potters?”
“Like my husband said,” Lily said, “sometimes friendship can be deeper than family.”
With that, she followed James and Sirius toward room 1066.
They reached the room without further incident. They paused uncertainly outside the door, not wanting to wake Mrs. Potter if she was sleeping.
“You should go in regardless, James,” Lily said. “Even if she is sleeping now, I’m sure she’ll want to see you when she wakes up.”
“Right,” James said.
“You go, too,” Sirius said to Lily. “I’ll wait out here for you.”
“Are you sure you want to do that?” James asked. “I’m sure my mum will want to see you, too.”
“I’ll wait,” Sirius said again. “If she asks for me, come and get me.”
“All right,” James agreed reluctantly. “Come on, Lil.”
Lily took his hand, and followed him into the darkened hospital room.
“Mum?” James replied.
James and Lily crossed the room as quickly as they could in the dim light. Mrs. Potter was lying in bed, looking up at them. Her eyes were red rimmed and bloodshot, and her face was pale, but she looked to be in good health. Lily found herself unconsciously breathing a sigh of relief. She had been worried that something would happen to James’s mother. She wasn’t sure how he would handle dealing with another tragedy on this day.
“Lily and I are here,” James said softly.
Tears filled Mrs. Potter’s eyes. “Thank you both so much for coming.”
“Where else would we be?” James asked, sitting down on the edge of the bed.
“Lily’s been taking good care of you, hasn’t she?”
James smiled slightly, and took his mother’s hand. “Of course. She always does.”
“You’re a good girl, Lily. I’m so glad that James found you.”
“I’m glad he did, too,” Lily smiled.
She drew a shaky breath. “We have a lot of arrangements to make . . .”
“I’ll take care of it,” James said quickly.
“You don’t have to do that. I can help.”
“Do you want to?”
She looked down, then up again. “I want to, James, but I’m not sure if I can.”
“I do it, then,” he said confidently. “Don’t worry about a thing, Mum. I have it under control.”
She smiled, and stroked his hand. “You’ve always been such a good boy, James. You’ve made us so proud. You do know that your father was proud of you, don’t you?”
“Even though I’m not an Auror?” James said with a slight smile.
“Maybe even more than he would have been if you were an Auror. You followed your own path, even though you knew that it wasn’t what he wanted for you. You had the strength to make yourself happy, and the initiative to follow your dreams. You built the life you wanted for yourself, even though it wasn’t in his plan for you. And that, James, made him the proudest of all.”
James blinked back tears. “I never knew.”
“He loved you, James.”
“I loved him so much, Mum.”
“He knew that. He gave you so much love, James. Now you’ll be able to give that love to your little one.” She smiled sadly. “He was so excited to meet his first grandchild.”
“I think that somehow, he already knew the baby,” Lily said softly. “Even though he had never seen the little one, I’m sure he could feel its spirit. I’m sure they were kindred souls.”
“Yes, I’m sure they were, too,” Mrs. Potter smiled. She reached out with her other hand to take Lily’s. “You take good care of yourself, darling. We have to make sure that Harold’s grandson makes it into this world safely.”
“Grandson?” Lily smiled.
“Or granddaughter. It doesn’t much matter, does it? Either way, this baby will have more love that it knows what to do with.”
“Yes,” Lily said, putting her hand over her stomach. “He will have plenty of that.”
When Mrs. Potter fell asleep, Lily stood from her chair. James looked at her questioningly.
“I’m going to walk around a bit,” she explained.
James nodded. “I’m going to wait here, just in case she wakes up.”
Lily leaned down to kiss his lips. “I love you.”
James smiled sadly. “I love you, too.”
Lily walked out of the room, blinking in the bright light of the hallway. Sirius stood from the chair he had been sitting in while he waited.
“How is she?”
Lily ran her hands over her face, and through her hair. “All right, all things considered. She’s sleeping right now.”
Sirius nodded. “I need to get out of here, Lil. Will you and James be all right without me?”
“I suppose. Where are you going?”
Lily’s eyes widened slightly. “Really?”
“She’s my girlfriend, Lily. Is it that odd that I want to see her? She probably thinks I was killed in that battle at this point.”
She smiled. “I’m sorry. I’m just not used to her being your girlfriend yet.”
He sighed, unaware of the sadness that crept into his eyes. “Olivia and I are over, Lils.”
“I know that.” Lily noticed the sorrowful look, but chose not to comment on it.
“I’m allowed to have another girlfriend.”
“I never said you weren’t.”
He looked at her for a moment. “You don’t like Rebecca, do you?”
“Well, that’s hard to say, since I’ve never met her.”
Sirius grinned for the first time since the battle. “We’ll have to fix that. I’ll bring her over sometime soon so that you can meet her.”
Lily smiled. “If she makes you happy, Sirius, then I like her. Get out of here. Go let her know that you’re alive.”
Sirius grinned and winked, then Disapparated.
“Sirius?” Rebecca came out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on a towel. Her eyes lit up when she saw him. “Thank God!”
She dropped the towel and launched herself across the room, throwing herself into his arms. Sirius smiled as he held her tightly.
“Are you all right? I was so scared! I was in France with my father when the battle started. I hadn’t heard anything about it, but when I tried to come back, I couldn’t Apparate in. I had to go around by the longest route possible, still not knowing what was going on. When I finally got here, I saw all these Aurors, but I couldn’t find you. I was so scared, Sirius! I thought you were horribly injured, or dead, or . . .”
“I’m fine,” Sirius replied, kissing her forehead. “I’m right here, see? I’m fine!”
“Were you in the battle?”
“But you weren’t injured, were you?”
“No more than cuts and bruises,” Sirius replied.
She looked at him critically. “What’s wrong, Sirius?”
“What makes you think something’s wrong?”
“Your eyes . . . they look haunted.”
Sirius sighed. “My best friend’s dad died, Rebecca.
She gasped, her hands flying to her face. “What happened?”
“A Death Eater shot a Killing Curse at my back, but he took it for me.”
“What?” she whispered, her hands falling slowly.
“He pushed me out of the way, and the curse hit him. It was supposed to be me, Rebecca. I’m the one who’s supposed to be dead, not him.” He pounded his fist into the top of the couch. “This is more than just my best friend, Rebecca. James Potter has been my brother since we were eleven and met on the Hogwarts Express. His parents have been more parental to me that mine ever were. And now I’ve torn apart their family.”
“It wasn’t –“
“I know it wasn’t my fault!” Sirius yelled. “Everyone keeps telling me that, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m the one who’s supposed to be dead right now!”
“You’re not dead,” she said softly, touching his face. “Don’t think that way. You’re right here with me.”
Tears gathered in his eyes. “I shouldn’t be.”
She kissed his lips hard. “Yes, you should be. I need you here with me, Sirius. I can’t stand the thought of anything happening to you.”
“Why are you so good to me?” Sirius whispered, feeling the tears press against the back of his eyes. “Why do you care so much?”
“Because I love you.”
Sirius looked at her in wonder. No one had said that to him since the last time Olivia had said it the night of Remus and Laura’s wedding, when she had ended their relationship and broken his heart. He didn’t stop to think or to analyze his feelings. He let his jumbled emotions take over, and kissed her again, this time deeply and tenderly.
Lily wandered aimlessly around the hospital for a while, not sure of where she could go. She didn’t know anyone there other than James and his mother, for which she was grateful. She couldn’t bear to think of any more of her friends in this place. But still, she needed a destination, or she would find herself in some restricted section of the building.
With a smile, she redirected her steps to the maternity ward. She was surprised she hadn’t thought to go there sooner. Just seeing the babies, the new little lives, would help her. It would be as therapeutic for her as the conversation about her baby had been for James’s mother.
She stopped in front of the nursery, and looked in at the babies. There were ten of them, all sleeping peacefully, wrapped in pink or blue blankets. She smiled, realizing that as long as they were wizards, these children would be her baby’s classmates.
“What do you think?” she whispered to her child. “Who will be your best friend? Let me see . . .”
She looked at the babies, smiling as her eyes fell on one little boy. Red hair peeked out from under his blue blanket. She wondered if her baby would have red hair as well. Picking up a strand of her own hair from her shoulder, she acknowledged the likelihood of it. Perhaps this little boy and her baby could bond over their red hair as children. She stepped closer to the window, trying to read the baby’s name.
“Ronald Weasley,” she whispered. “What do you think? Does that sound like someone you’d want to befriend?”
“Talking to yourself?”
Lily jumped, and looked at James in surprise. “What are you doing here?”
“Looking for you. I knew I’d find you here.”
“You were looking for me? Is something wrong with your mother?”
“No, nothing’s wrong. I just decided something, and I wanted to run it by you.”
“All right,” she agreed.
He smiled, and looked at the babies sleeping in the nursery. “I think this is the perfect place for this conversation, too.” He ran his hand through his hair, his face forming into the same nervous look that had accompanied the gesture when he had asked her for dates at Hogwarts. “I’ve chosen a name for a boy.”
Lily’s eyes widened. “Oh? What is it?”
“Well, after what happened today, I want to name him for my dad.”
James made a face. “Here’s the problem. That’s an old man’s name, not a baby’s.”
Lily smiled. “I think your dad would have had a problem with you calling him an old man.”
“Well, all my life, I’ve associated it with him, and he’s always been old in my eyes.”
“I know what you’re trying to say. So, not Harold?”
“Well, I want to do a variation of it. So, I thought that if we have a boy, maybe we could call him Harry.”
“Harry,” Lily smiled. “It’s perfect.”
“You really think so?” James asked, his face relaxing into a relieved smile.
“I really do. Harry is a brilliant name.”
“Did you choose his middle name as well?”
“Well, I decided that since you left the girl’s middle name up to me I’d leave the boy’s up to you.”
Lily looked at him for a moment, thinking. “Well, I want to give him the name of the man I admire the most.”
“If you say Sirius . . .”
Lily laughed, relieved to hear James joking. “No, not Sirius.”
James’s eyes widened. “Me?”
“Yes. I want him to be Harry James.”
“Harry James Potter.”
Tears sparkled in James’s eyes as he pulled her to him. For the second time that day, he found himself incapable of speech.
Lily smiled against him. “You shouldn’t be so surprised, you know. I love you and I married you. Of course I admire you.”
James kissed her forehead. “I hope it is a boy. I think that Harry James Potter is a brilliant name.” He smiled, and touched Lily’s abdomen. “But if you’re a girl in there, Brenna Elizabeth Potter is brilliant, too.”
I cried, when I saw the "It all ends!" banner!!
But now I know, it never will....
Re: The Real World!
An ok chapter I guess...My brains aren't working properly in the high altitude [Am posting this at the highest cybercafe in the world!]...Enjoy!
Con tu adiós, te llevas mi corazón (With your good bye, you take my heart)
- Como la flor, Selena
“How are you feeling?”
“Fine,” Laura replied, annoyance finding its way into her voice. “You’ve asked me that at least fifteen times today, and we’ve only just finished breakfast!”
Remus smiled. “Sorry. It’s all that Healer training. It’s bothering me that we don’t know why you passed out yesterday.”
“Isn’t stress a good enough reason? We were in a battle situation, you know.”
“It would be if you hadn’t been in similar situations before. Face it, love. You’re a seasoned soldier at this point. I expect you to be able to handle it.”
Laura smiled, and stuck her tongue out at him. “Well, I’m fine now.”
She looked down at the cup of tea in front of her for a moment, then up at Remus. “Have you heard from James?”
“No, not since I saw him with his mum on the battlefield.”
Laura shuddered. “I can’t even imagine watching one of my parents die.”
“God-willing, you’ll never have to.” He ran his hands over his face. “I want to check on him, but I don’t want to intrude, you know? Maybe I could go over later today. He and Lily should be all right with visitors, right?”
“I should think so. I’m sure they have a million things to do, though.”
“I know. But I can’t wait to just say a few words to him at the funeral. This is James, Laura. He’s my brother. I have to be there for him.”
“Then you should be. Go visit today.”
A crack split the air, and Sirius appeared in their kitchen. Laura and Remus both looked at him in surprise.
“Is everything all right, Sirius?” Remus asked.
Sirius gave him a lopsided smile. “No new tragedies, if that’s what you’re asking. I just . . . I need to talk to you, Moony.”
Laura picked up her teacup, and stood to her feet. “I’ll just leave you alone, shall I? If you need me, I’ll be in the living room.”
Sirius smiled as he watched her go. “You’re a lucky man, Remus. She bounced back from yesterday pretty quickly.”
“Yes,” Remus said slowly, indicating that Sirius should sit down with him. “I’m still not satisfied, though. I need to know what happened to make her faint.”
“Have you talked to Dana?” Sirius suggested as he took the chair that Laura had just vacated. “She might be able to help.”
Remus shook his head. “I haven’t had a chance. That’s a good idea, though. Even if she doesn’t know what caused her collapse, she can bring Laura up in class as a hypothetical case.” He smiled. “But what did you come to talk to me about?”
“I slept with Rebecca last night.”
Remus’s eyes widened, surprised by the abruptness of Sirius’s confession. “As in shared a bed, or . . .?”
“More than just sharing a bed,” Sirius grinned.
Remus exhaled a long breath. “Well, congratulations, I suppose.”
Sirius laughed. “I’m not here to ask for advice in that department, if that’s what you’re thinking. We did quite well on our own.”
Remus held up a hand. “I don’t need details.”
“Moony, Moony, always such a prude. You were the first among us if I remember correctly.”
“And I’m married to her,” Remus replied a bit harshly. “Not exactly something I can say of you.”
“I might marry her.”
Remus laughed. “Sure, Padfoot, I can see that. You’ve already proven yourself not to be a marrying man. Don’t you remember Olivia? She wanted you to marry her, and you practically sprinted in the opposite direction!”
Sirius waved his hand. “Remus, you’re jumping ahead of me.”
“All right, bring this to where you want it.”
Sirius ran his hand through his hair. “Rebecca told me that she loves me.”
“Before or after?”
Remus’s eyes widened again. “What did you say?”
“Nothing. I couldn’t think of a good reply, so I just kissed her.”
“The king of the cover story couldn’t think of anything to say?”
“Yeah, I guess that’s about it. Don’t tell anyone, though. I don’t want my reputation slandered.”
“Be serious for a minute. This is a major issue.” Remus looked at his friend as though he could see right through him. “Do you love her?”
Sirius looked down at the table. “I’m not sure.”
“I know. I have this beautiful girl who is absolutely fantastic in every way telling me that she loves me, but I can’t say it back! What is wrong with me?”
“Didn’t you have this same problem in seventh year with Olivia?” Remus asked. “You have issues with getting in touch with your feelings, Padfoot.”
“True though that may be, I think the issue is greater than that.”
Sirius finally looked up. “I think I’m still in love with Olivia.”
Remus closed his eyes. “So just to make sure that I’m keeping up, you could potentially love one of these girls, both of them, or neither of them.”
“Yeah, that’s about it.”
He opened his eyes again. “Padfoot, I hope I never have as many issues as you.”
“Since you’re married, I hope you never have this problem, too.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know! That’s why I’m here. I need some advice.”
“Have you talked to James about this? What does he think?”
Sirius shook his head. “I can’t put this on him with everything that he’s dealing with right now. Maybe when this whole situation gets a little less convoluted, or when things settle down with his family, I’ll tell him.”
“I haven’t seen Peter since he left us last night. Have you seen him?”
“No, I haven’t.” Remus frowned slightly. “I tried to talk to him over the Floo network this morning to make sure he was all right, but his mother said he wasn’t home.”
Sirius frowned. “Odd. I wonder what happened to him.”
Remus shrugged. “It’s Peter. He’s been like this since we left Hogwarts. I always thought it was just because he didn’t live with us anymore, but now none of us live together.”
“He’s been on his own longer, though,” Sirius rationalized. “He’s more used to spending time without us. You, James and I are still nearly joined at the hip.”
Remus grinned. “Yeah, we are, aren’t we?” His grin faded. “How is James?”
“I left him with Lily and his mother at St. Mungo’s last night,” Sirius replied. “They’re all dealing as well as they can. Lily’s being a rock for James. She’s great, you know? You should have seen the way she just jumped in there and became the strong one for him.”
“You didn’t think she could?”
“I don’t know. I mean, don’t you remember how she fell apart after her parents died? I was a little worried about how she’d take this. But she’s doing really great.” He sighed. “And James is doing the same for his mother. He’s totally there for her, being the supportive son. I’m just worried that he’s not going to take care of himself.”
“He has Lily to worry about him.”
“I guess so.” Sirius ran his hands over his face. “I just wish there was some way that none of them had to support one another like this. I wish this had never happened. I wish they could all be whole again.”
“It’s not –“
“I know, Moony” Sirius said wearily. “If one more person tells me that it’s not my fault, I’m going to explode! I’m not blaming myself, okay? I’m not.”
“I know exactly who to blame.” A hard glint shone in his eyes. “The Death Eaters caused this. Mr. Potter’s death was their fault. His blood is on their hands.” He smiled grimly. “I become a full Auror next week. I’m going to spend the rest of my life making the Death Eaters pay for what they’ve done.”
Peter walked slowly around the snow-covered village, wondering idly if winter would ever end. As he looked at the clean white snow that surrounded the homes of his neighbors, he thought back to the night before – the night of the battle.
There had been snow there, too. It hadn’t been white like this, though. Not after the battle had ended. The snow had been trampled, dirty. It had compounded with loose earth to create mud. It had been flung from one side to the other as feet ran across it. It had been stained red by the blood of those who had fallen in battle.
One of those was James’s father. Every time he thought of it, Peter felt as though his chest was being torn apart. He knew what it was like to lose a father. He knew the pain that James would be going through. He knew of the sorrow that would haunt his friend’s mother’s eyes. He knew of the trials that lay ahead for them. He would never have wished this on them.
Yet, he could have been the one to prevent it. He had known what would happen – he had known! Well, not that James’s father would die, necessarily, but he had known that lives would be lost. It was one of the costs of war, wasn’t it? People died in all battles. They just weren’t always the people close to him or to those he loved. But this time – this time it had been his best friend’s father.
Peter stopped outside the village and leaned against a tree for support. A dry sob shook his body as he thought of what he had done. He had started this whole thing to help his friends. He wanted to save them, not to bring them more harm. Maybe he should just quit. Maybe he should forget the Death Eaters and the Dark Lord, and move on with his life. He could renew his commitment to Dumbledore, and fight solely for his side.
Even as the thought went through his head, he felt a burning sensation on his arm. He was being summoned. Did he really want to go? Could he really continue doing this?
The burning grew stronger, and Peter sobbed again. He had no choice, and he knew it. Once one became a Death Eater, there was no way out. He had seen people try to leave before. They had all been given two options: remain a member of the organization or face death at the hands of the Dark Lord or one of his minions.
Peter shuddered. He couldn’t die. He remembered a long-ago conversation with his father, in which the older man had told Peter how much he hurt his mother by putting his life in danger. He didn’t want to hurt his mother. He didn’t want to hurt his friends. He wanted to live, to be able to help them all in any way that he could.
His choice was made. He would serve his master.
Closing his eyes, he Disapparated to the location that filled his mind.
When Lily opened her eyes, bright sunshine filled her bedroom. Panic filled her as she reached for her watch. If the sun was so high in the sky, she was very late for work.
As quickly as it had come, the panic subsided. She had taken the day off work. She needed to be with James. She turned her head, expecting to see him sleeping next to her. She was surprised to see his side of the bed empty. Surely he hadn’t gone to work? How could he go to work today, the day after his father had died?
It still didn’t seem real to her, even in her thoughts. Her father-in-law had died.
Tears filled her eyes at the thought. Though he had not been related to her by blood, Mr. Potter had truly been a father to her since she had first met him. He had cared about her, and had treated her as his own daughter. She would miss him.
The tears began to escape, falling quickly down her cheeks. She sucked in her breath in a gasp, and caught her lower lip between her teeth. She didn’t want to sob uncontrollably. She needed to stay in control. She needed to be the strong one for James. He was always the strong one for her. She wanted to return the favor. But, for the moment, she needed to be weak. She needed to have a chance to grieve.
She let herself cry for several moments, taking time to be alone and feel the pain that was rushing through her body. There was something very therapeutic about tears; once they were spent, she felt more ready to begin the day, to face the sun that was shining despite the sorrow that now filled her world.
She climbed out of bed, and went to the bathroom. After a hot shower, she felt renewed. She wrapped herself in a warm robe, and made her way downstairs.
James was in the kitchen, sipping coffee and reading the paper. He looked up when she entered, and smiled.
“How are you, love?”
Lily was a bit taken aback by his rather positive attitude. “How are you?” she replied.
“Much better today,” he said. “Listen, I think I want to finish this week out at work, so I’m going to set the funeral for Saturday or Sunday. Which do you think would be better?”
Lily blinked, and crossed the room. She slowly lowered herself into the chair across from him, trying to choose her words with care.
“James,” she said, reaching out to touch his hand, “you can’t make this go away. Not that easily.”
“Lily, I’m asking for your advice,” he said impatiently. “What day do you think would be better for the funeral?”
She flinched slightly. Had he truly become so callous to what had happened? “I – I – Why don’t you ask your mother?”
He shook his head. “I promised my mum that I’d handle everything. I really don’t think she’s up to it, you know?”
“Of course I know,” Lily said softly. “She’s just lost her husband, James. You have to give her some time to grieve. You should give yourself some time, too.”
James shook his head. “I need to keep going, Lil. That’s the only way that I’m going to get through this. I just need to move on with my life.”
“Don’t you even want to think about ?”
“I don’t want to think about anything except these funeral arrangements and what I’m going to do in class tomorrow,” he interrupted.
Lily looked at him for a moment, then nodded. “All right, then,” she said as she rose from her seat. “Did you make tea, too, or just coffee?”
“I heated some water for you,” he replied, lifting his paper again. “It’s on the stove.”
Lily nodded, even though he couldn’t see her. She shook her head as she poured the hot water into a mug. She was shocked by the change in his attitude from yesterday. He had gone from a lost little boy who couldn’t even find the words to tell her what had happened to a man who was completely calm and collected. What had happened to him overnight?
The emotional James of yesterday she could handle. This new James was completely outside her realm of understanding.
Lily stood in the kitchen, making dinner. She was once again using Muggle methods to cook. This time it was to give herself the satisfaction of using sharp knives to take out her anger and frustration on the food she was preparing. James had retained his “nothing has changed” attitude throughout the entire day. She had spent hour after hour watching him act as though nothing was wrong. Even when he spoke with the funeral director and priest, he remained eerily calm. She didn’t necessarily want him to break down again, but she was sure that it would be helpful for him to at least discuss his feelings about what had happened.
But any time that she broached the subject, he shut down. A closed, guarded look came over his face, and he refused to say a word, letting Lily talk herself in circles as she tried to get him to open up about his emotions.
The only time he had acknowledged that something had happened in their lives had been when his mother had stopped by for a visit. She was still clearly shell-shocked over the loss of her husband; James had immediately become the devoted, supportive son. Lily had been thrilled to see him so tender with his mother, certain that he was within moments of opening up to her.
But she was disappointed. As soon as his mother had left, the barriers had gone up, and the smile was back in place. James was detaching himself from his emotions.
She had finally given up and retreated into the kitchen, where she was preparing a huge dinner. The size of the meal actually had more to do with the amount of time she had given herself to cook it anything else, but she was rather proud of what she was creating. She was sure that James would appreciate her efforts. And if he didn’t, he would learn to, given the number of days they would be eating leftovers.
A rapid succession of pops and cracks broke through her thoughts, and she dropped her knife. She heard James’s voice, quickly followed by several others. She was sure that she recognized one voice as Sirius’s, but hadn’t heard enough of the others’ voices to identify them. She put the knife down properly, and wiped her hands on a towel before making her way into the living room.
Sirius was there, as she had assumed, joined by Remus and Laura. She smiled at them in greeting.
Laura crossed the room instantly, and pulled Lily close. She held her for a moment, then pulled back to look at her. “How are you?”
“I’m all right,” Lily smiled, knowing that Laura asked the question in honest concern. “We’re making it.”
Laura nodded. “James seems . . .”
“He’s doing pretty well today,” Lily said haltingly.
Remus hugged her next. “Is there anything we can do for you?”
“Talk to James,” she whispered. “He’s really going to need you, Remus. You, Sirius and Peter may be the only ones who can get through to him.”
Remus nodded, and squeezed her hands. “We’ll try. I can’t make any promises, but we’ll do our best.”
Sirius made his way to them, and pulled Lily close. “What’s wrong with James?” he whispered against her hair.
“If only I knew,” she muttered back. “He’s been like this all day.”
Sirius pulled back from her, and looked searchingly into her eyes. “I don’t like it.”
“Neither do I, but I can’t get him to talk,” Lily replied. “Maybe you and Remus will have better luck than I’ve had today.”
Sirius nodded. “We’ll try.”
Lily smiled. “I know you will.” She looked around at the group, and raised her voice. “Well, you’ve picked an excellent time to drop by. I was just making dinner, and I’m currently on my way to having enough food for an army, so you may have saved James and I from a week of leftovers.”
“Excellent!” Sirius laughed. “You know I’m always up for food.”
“Indeed,” Lily replied. “Laura, will you help me finish with everything?”
“Of course,” Laura replied, following Lily into the kitchen.
James looked at his friends with a smile, and sat down on the couch. “Well, gentlemen, I think she’s telling us to stay out of the kitchen.”
“It’s better this way,” Sirius grinned as he sat down next to James. “I’ve never trusted Lily with a knife in her hands.”
“Laura seems all right,” James said, turning to face Remus, who had sat down across from them in Lily’s favorite chair. “Sirius told me that she collapsed yesterday?”
“Yeah,” Remus replied. “It was a little scary for awhile there, but she seems better today.”
“But you’re not satisfied?” James inferred, raising his eyebrows.
Remus smiled, and shook his head. “I just need an explanation, I suppose.”
“Do you think she could be pregnant?” James asked. “Lily was really sick at first with this pregnancy, and we had no idea why until she saw a Healer.” He grinned sheepishly. “We weren’t exactly trying for a baby, so it didn’t occur to me to think that she might be pregnant. But you and Laura . . .”
“No, I already did a pregnancy-detecting charm,” Remus replied. “That was my first thought, too, honestly. I was a little disappointed when it came up negative . . . But if she’s sick, it’s better that she’s not pregnant.”
“You think she’s sick?” James asked, concern filling his eyes.
Remus waved his hand as if to dismiss the possibility. “I’m sure she’s not. I’m just the product of years of living in a Healer’s house, followed by time in Healer training.” He shrugged. “I worry, but I’m sure it will be fine. Like you said, she’s fine today.”
James nodded. “Good.”
“How are you, James?” Sirius asked, his face uncharacteristically serious.
“I’m fine,” James replied. “I made the funeral arrangements today, so if you guys are free on Saturday, I’d really appreciate it if . . .”
“We’re there,” Sirius said instantly. “You know we’ll be there.”
“Thanks,” James said, relieved. “I need to tell Peter . . .”
Remus frowned. “We’ve been trying to get a hold of him all day, but we can’t seem to track him down. Have you heard from him?”
“No,” James replied, frowning slightly. “I know he was with me for awhile last night, but then he left to go find my mum and disappeared.”
Sirius nodded. “How is your mum, James?”
James shook his head. “She’s not dealing with this very well. When I told her all the arrangements I had made, she just started crying. She said she can’t handle the idea of putting my dad in the ground. I don’t like the idea myself, but we have to do it, right?”
“Yeah, James, but she just lost her husband,” Remus said carefully. “You can’t expect her to just bounce back from that. She was married to him for over twenty years.”
“Twenty-three,” James said automatically.
“Their anniversary was last month,” James said. “They were married for twenty-three years.” He sighed, and ran his hands over his face. “I know she’s hurting. I can’t imagine losing Lily, and we’ve only been married a year. But we have to do this, don’t we? We have to accept what’s happened and move on.”
“You don’t have to accept it within a day,” Remus said gently. “It’s all right to give yourself some time to get used to the idea.”
“That’s time I should be using to get over it,” James said harshly. “I may not be dealing with this the same way you would, Remus, but it’s the only way I know how.”
“We’re not saying it’s wrong, mate,” Sirius said quickly. “We’re just worried about you, that’s all. Yesterday you were a different person, and this quick transition is a little scary.”
“I like myself better this way,” James said stubbornly.
“Do you, really?” Remus asked, still in the same gentle voice.
James sighed, and ran his hand through his hair. “I just don’t want to cry anymore. I want to feel normal again. I want to live my life again.”
“Yeah, but James . . .”
“I’m dealing with this the best way I can, guys. Now let’s just drop it.”
“Dinner’s ready,” Lily said, stepping into the living room.
“Excellent,” James said, practically jumping up from his seat. “I’m starving.” He kissed Lily’s cheek as he walked past her on his way into the dining room.
Lily looked at Sirius and Remus with raised eyebrows. They both shook their heads.
“He’s determined that he needs to move on,” Remus said. “And he’s going to do that at all costs.”
Lily nodded. “That’s what I was afraid of.”
Remus, Laura and Sirius left soon after dinner. Although they all professed exhaustion, Lily was sure that they didn’t want to watch James try to act normal anymore. She didn’t want to herself, but didn’t have a choice. With a sigh, she began to gather up the dishes.
“Want to dry?” she asked James.
“You’re really into Muggle methods today, aren’t you?” he smiled, picking up a stack of dishes to carry into the kitchen.
“Every once in a while I like to change the way I do things,” she replied.
James smiled, and placed the dishes on the counter. “All right,” he agreed, picking up a towel. “But if I pull a muscle from all this manual labor, I expect a massage.”
“I’m carrying around your child, and you’re whining about drying dishes?”
“Ouch,” James laughed. He touched her abdomen. “You know, that’s going to be more effective when you can actually tell you’re pregnant just by looking. But, I’ll give you a massage, if you want.”
“Excellent,” she said, filling the sink with water and soap. “I’ll expect that as soon as we’re done here.”
She plunged several glasses into the sudsy water, and began scrubbing them. James stood waiting with a towel in his hands. When she finished the first one, she bypassed the dish rack, and handed it straight to him.
Unfortunately, James didn’t get a good grip on the glass; he had no more than started to dry it when it slipped from his hands, crashing on the floor. Lily jumped back, trying to avoid being hit by the flying glass.
“****!” James exclaimed.
“It’s all right,” Lily said, grabbing her wand to do a quick cleaning charm. She collected the shards of glass, and banished them to the bin. “No harm done.”
“But I broke our glass!” James exclaimed. “Damn it!”
“James, it was just a glass,” Lily said easily. “We have others.”
“But now we don’t have a complete set!”
Lily raised her eyebrows. “James, it’s fine. We still have plenty of glasses.”
“No, it’s not fine!” he yelled, slamming his palm down onto the counter. “I can’t believe I broke that glass!”
“It’s really not a big deal.”
“Yes, it is a big deal!” Tears gathered in his eyes. “How could I have been so stupid?”
“James . . .” She had a feeling they weren’t talking about a glass anymore.
“I brought his attention to what was going on,” James said in a choked voice. “If Sirius and I hadn’t gone out of the store the back way . . . They baited us out. We could have gone around to the front and gotten help, but I wanted to see what was going on, I wanted to fight, I thought we could take them on our own. Sirius wanted us to think it through first, but I wouldn’t let him. I said we should just get to it. He went out first, you know. He said that I have a family to think about now, so I couldn’t go first.”
He paused, and drew a shaky breath. “There were so many Death Eaters out there, Lil. So many. Sirius and I were doing our best, but we couldn’t fight them all off. And then my dad came flying out of nowhere to help us. He’s not just the reason that Sirius is alive; he’s the reason that we’re both alive. He truly saved us.”
Tears began to fall, but he didn’t seem to notice. “If I had just listened to Sirius, we wouldn’t have put ourselves in that situation. If we hadn’t been there, my dad would never have come over to rescue us. I’m the reason he’s dead, Lil. It’s my fault.”
“It’s not your fault,” Lily whispered, tears filling her own eyes. “Those Death Eaters would have been there regardless, James. And your dad was an Auror. His job was to fight Death Eaters, to bring them to justice. Regardless of where you were, he would have done just that. Either way, he would have found himself in that situation.” She paused, and drew a shaky breath. “And, James, you and Sirius gave your father a wonderful gift last night.”
She touched his cheek, letting her hand push back his hair. “You let him save your lives. He died knowing that because of his actions, you and Sirius, two of the people he loved most in the world, would live.”
James’s face crumpled completely as he began to sob. Lily pulled him close, crying with him. Maybe now, they could begin to heal.
“How did you know Harold?”
“He was my mentor my first year as an Auror. You?”
“We were in Gryffindor together. I shared a dormitory with him for seven years. I never imagined I’d be at his funeral – especially not when he was so young.”
“He died doing what he loved, though.”
“And look at the number of people whose lives he touched.”
The two men paused their conversation to look at the line of mourners that stretched around the funeral home, waiting to get inside to pay their respects to the fallen Auror and his family. They were sure that Harold Potter would have been proud to know how many souls he had touched during his lifetime.
Inside the funeral home, James and Lily stood next to Mrs. Potter, receiving those who had come to say farewell to Mr. Potter. Lily was amazed by how well her mother-in-law was holding up. Although tears sparkled in her eyes and she clung to James’s arm for support, she did her best to speak to each person who took her hand.
So many people had come. Lily had never realized exactly how popular the Potters were until she saw the number of mourners who made their way into the funeral home. Aside from nearly the entire wizarding world, Muggle friends, neighbors, and acquaintances from church made their way through the line to say a few words of comfort to the grieving family. Mr. Potter’s coworkers were out in full-force. She was certain that the entire Auror department had come, each member wearing a black armband. They had all been at events like this one before; each knew the pain the family would be have to endure during the coming days and weeks.
James’s friends were there, of course. All those he had played Quidditch with at Hogwarts were there, as well as many students Lily barely remembered, but who knew her and James as Head Girl and Boy. Many Hogwarts professors had come, including Professors Dumbledore, McGonagall and Flitwick. Danny, James’s childhood friend that Lily had met on several occasions was there with his parents, his face stricken. She knew that he, like Sirius, had seen the Potters as a second set of parents; like Sirius, it was almost as if he was losing his own father.
Sirius, of course, was there. All their friends had made it, including Peter, who had been absent from their lives for several days. Lily was surprised to see a girl she assumed to be Rebecca hanging on Sirius’s arm. She looked up at him with love and admiration in her eyes. Surprised the first time she noticed this look, Lily had searched for Olivia. She was standing with her former Quidditch teammates, nodding along with something that Eric was saying. Judging by the look on her face, she wasn’t actually listening to a word that came out of his mouth. Lily was sure that Olivia, too, had observed the way Rebecca obviously felt about Sirius; she was glaring at them with something akin to hatred in her eyes. Lily prayed that she wouldn’t make a scene at the funeral, and turned back to the woman who was trying to take her hand.
The funeral that James had organized took the form of a celebration of his father’s life. Several people had been commissioned to give eulogies. An Auror spoke first, imparting words of praise regarding Harold Potter’s long and prestigious career. A church member spoke next, discussing his generosity and compassion. A friend from school gave humorous anecdotes describing the way he would always remember his childhood friend.
Once that man took his seat again, Lily was surprised to see Sirius make his way to the front of the church. She had not known that James had asked Sirius to speak. She looked at her husband with raised eyebrows, but he did not meet her eyes. He stared straight at his friend, blinking repeatedly.
Sirius cleared his throat, and looked down at the paper he was holding, which shook slightly. “When James asked me to speak about his father, I was rather surprised. All right, I was shocked. When it comes to eloquence, I’m not usually anyone’s first choice.
“But I did love his father, and I think that’s the reason James asked me to do this. Mr. Potter truly was a second father to me. No, that’s not right. He was more of a father to me than my own father ever was. My family never really formed a true family unit the way the Potters did. Everything I know about how to be part of a family and how to love, I learned from time spent with them.
“The Potters have always been there for me at the lowest points in my life. They have always taken me in and loved me. From the very first time I met them, they treated me as one of their own. In Mr. Potter I found for the first time a man I could truly look up to. He was everything I wanted to be – loving, just, caring and kind. He genuinely loved his family, and he wasn’t afraid to show it. He was a strong, powerful man, but he only used those qualities to help others, never to harm them.
“He inspired me in so many ways. Without ever giving me a single traditional lesson, he taught me how to be a good person – he taught me how to be a man. It’s because of him that I chose the career that I did, and because of him that I’m the person that I am today. He saved my life both figuratively and literally; it’s because of him that I’m standing here today at all.
“The Potters took me in at a time when my own parents wanted nothing to do with me. They became like parents to me, to the point that James often referred to me as their ‘favorite son.’ Well, I don’t know about that, but I do know that their love and kindness have meant the world to me. I know that I love their family like it is my own. I know that I’m grieving right along with them today.” He paused and swallowed, blinking rapidly. “I know that –“ His voice broke, and he swallowed again. “I know that I feel like I’ve lost my own father.” He drew a deep breath. “I hope that Mr. Potter had some idea of how much he meant to me, of how much of a difference he made in my life. I never really told him, but I hope . . .”
His voice broke again, and this time he chose not to continue. He made his way down from the pulpit, stumbling slightly, only to be met in the aisle by Mrs. Potter. She put her arms around him, hugging him fiercely.
“He knew,” she whispered. “He knew, and he loved you, too.”
She released Sirius, both of their faces wet with tears. Sirius looked past her to James, who was also crying. Without saying a word, he threw his arms around his friend.
They stayed like that for a long moment, unashamed of being two men locked in a tight embrace. They were brothers, comforting one another after the death of their father.
I am using this chapter especially the Sirius-Remus conversation as a filler! Hope you liked it...Feedbacks please...
I cried, when I saw the "It all ends!" banner!!
But now I know, it never will....
Re: The Real World!
Coming to Terms
“Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to welcome our newest Aurors to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. I am certain that they will serve us well in times of battle and in times of peace, and will do their best to uphold the law as it has been written. Congratulations to you all, and welcome to our department.”
Barty Crouch, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, sat down to thunderous applause. Laura made a face. Dana, who saw the look on Laura’s face, bit her lips to keep from laughing.
Lily smiled at the exchange between her two friends, and took her husband’s arm. James looked down at her with a smile. Studying the faces of all her friends, Lily was certain that they were as proud of Sirius and Olivia as she was. Finally, after all their hard work, they were about to become Aurors. Even though she had had to take yet another day off work to attend their induction ceremony, Lily wouldn’t have missed it for anything. After the sorrowful events of the earlier part of the week, a celebration was a welcome change.
The ceremony continued as Moody made his way up to the podium, limping heavily. The last battle, the one that had taken Mr. Potter’s life, had cost Moody one of his legs. He was obviously still adjusting to walking on the wooden one that had been fashioned for him. Because physical ability was a vital part of his work, he had every reason to be bitter. Looking at him, it was obvious that he was not. His face shone with pride as he looked first at the new Aurors, then at the audience.
Olivia watched the man who had taught her everything she knew about battle make his halting progress across the stage. She knew that his job had been his life from his first day of Auror training on. He loved what he did, and she was certain that, given the chance, he would change nothing. Even his new disability, a souvenir of his work, could not deter his enthusiasm for his work. That in itself was an inspiration to her.
Was she the only one who felt this way? She looked from Moody to the Auror trainees who sat with her, knowing that these were her new colleagues in the professional world. There were so few of them – only fifteen. Fifteen remained of the fifty who had begun the program together after graduation from Hogwarts. Fifteen had made it through the rigorous training program. Fifteen had passed the inspections Moody and Frank Longbottom had devised. Fifteen had been proven worthy. Yes, they all had been touched by Moody’s dedication, and they all now shared in some part of it. All fifteen would give their lives to defend their world.
Olivia glanced down the row, past every face until Sirius’s came into focus. He, too, was watching Moody. She couldn’t help noticing that her former boyfriend looked incredibly handsome in his new Auror robes. She bit her lips, trying to fight the sigh that wanted to escape. As much as she hated to admit it, even in her thoughts, she still loved him. She supposed that a part of her always would. She looked away from him, forcing her thoughts to safer ground. They were not meant to be, and that was that. She needed to get over him, to move on with her life.
“In recent years, our world has come in contact with an evil that at times seems unstoppable,” Moody said, his voice uncharacteristically soft. “It had been through the dedication of soldiers such as those you see before you that we have been able to fight the battle for as long as we have. Many have fallen over the course of the war, and many more will follow them to a premature grave. Yet they all profess a desire to rid our world of dark magic, and they all stand behind those words with some of the bravest actions I have ever seen.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to recognize our new Aurors,” Moody growled, his usual demeanor returning. “I have trained them all since they joined the program, and can confidently say that I trust them to defend me in a battle situation, provided that they practice constant vigilance.”
Sirius grinned, a bit grateful that Moody had moved away from his emotional words. His oft-repeated mantra of “constant vigilance” brought all their thoughts to safer, happier ground. And he had to admit that the advice of “constant vigilance” had its benefits. It had saved his life more than once.
Still trying to keep himself from ill-timed laughter, he looked across at Olivia, wanting to see if she found their mentor’s word choice as entertaining as he did. She was staring straight at Moody as if hanging on his every word. She wasn’t looking at Sirius, trying to catch his eye as she might have, once upon a time. He blinked, realizing that she was no longer his to stare at. He shook his head slightly, and searched the audience for Rebecca. She was sitting alone, looking straight at him. He smiled at her, and received a beaming smile in return.
“All the young men and women you see here before you have passed through their training with great success, and are ready to begin their careers,” Moody continued. “For the first year of their careers, they are required to work with a mentor, who will help them adapt to life as Aurors. Each new Auror will now be introduced with his or her mentor.”
A ripple of emotion went through the new Aurors. They had all been waiting eagerly for notification of their mentors, whose identity remained a mystery until the ceremony. Both Olivia and Sirius were silently thankful that they had names at the beginning of the alphabet; they wouldn’t have to wait much longer to learn their mentors’ identities.
Moody took out a piece of parchment, and smoothed it out on the podium. “Auror Olivia Alexander; mentor, Frank Longbottom.”
Olivia beamed as she stood to her feet. This was it; she was now an Auror! And Frank Longbottom would be her mentor. With his guidance, she would learn so much. She would be able to advance in the ranks, perhaps even becoming a top Auror. Frank grinned at her as he shook her hand, obviously infected by her excitement and enthusiasm.
While she applauded Olivia, Lily leaned over to James. “I wouldn’t think Frank would want to take a mentee, since he’s in charge of training and does so much for the Order.”
James’s jaw clenched. “He normally doesn’t,” he replied. “Olivia’s mentor was supposed to be my dad.”
“Oh,” Lily said, feeling as though she had been slapped. She reached down to take his hand, lacing her fingers through his. “I didn’t know.”
“No, he wanted to keep it a secret. They don’t find out who their mentors are until now.”
“Oh,” Lily said again.
She forced her attention back to the ceremony just in time to hear Moody call Sirius’s name.
“Auror Sirius Black; mentor John Alexander.”
Sirius felt the bottom drop out of his stomach as he heard his mentor’s name. He fought to keep himself from closing his eyes as he stepped forward to greet his new adviser. They had assigned him to Olivia’s brother, even knowing all that had happened between them? He was in for a rough year. Still, though, he was now an Auror. If he, Sirius Black, member of a family of dark wizards, could manage to become an Auror, he certainly could survive a year of having his former girlfriend’s older brother as his mentor.
Lily just managed to stop her jaw from dropping, and began applauding her friend. Moody had assigned Olivia’s brother as Sirius’s mentor? Had he completely lost his mind? She looked at John, who would have obviously known of his new assignment to work with Sirius long before Sirius discovered it today.
John was looking at Sirius with what James called the “Auror mask.” His face was completely void of discernable emotion. Sirius, on the other hand, was looking at his new mentor with a bit of trepidation. Even so, Lily could see the defiant glint in Sirius’s eyes. He would prove himself a worthy Auror despite what John might think of him. He wouldn’t let a difficult situation keep him from attaining his dream.
After the ceremony, the Department of Magical Law Enforcement threw a party to welcome the new Aurors. Laura grinned as she looked around the ballroom.
“Well, I will give the department credit,” she said, her eyes taking in the lavish decorations and extensive tables of food. “They certainly know how to throw a party.”
“That they do,” Olivia said as she joined them. The beaming smile she had been wearing during the ceremony was still firmly in place.
“Congratulations, Liv!” Lily exclaimed, throwing her arms around her friend.
“Thanks,” Olivia grinned.
As soon as Lily released her, Dana and Laura hugged her, followed by James, Remus, Peter and Aidan. She beamed, accepting congratulations from them all.
“I can’t believe we’ve actually made it,” she said. “It’s been a long, difficult road, but I’m glad to be here.”
“I always knew you could do it,” James grinned. “After the way you managed to lead our Quidditch team to winning the Cup during seventh year, I’m sure you can do anything you put your mind to.”
Olivia laughed, and waved her hand. “That was a group effort.”
“But it was your determination that motivated the group,” James countered.
She flushed, a bit uncomfortable with the praise, and changed the subject. “I still can’t believe that Frank Longbottom is my mentor!”
“Does it make you nervous?” Dana asked.
“Sort of. I mean, I know him, which is good, but I also know how tough he is on his students, which isn’t good. But we’ll see how it goes. Most of the new Aurors are meeting with their mentors right now, but he said we’d meet later, since he has some official duties to attend to. I’m not sure if the suspense will kill me or not!” She giggled. “Shall we get something to eat, then?”
As they made their way toward the tables laden with food, Dana grabbed Lily’s arm.
“Does that mean that Sirius is meeting with John right now?”
“I suppose,” Lily said reluctantly.
Dana bit her lower lip. “I hope they both make it out alive.”
“Right,” John said. “We need to discuss our relationship for the next year. Now, I’ve never been a mentor before, so I’m going to base this on the way things worked between my mentor and I my first year.”
“All right,” Sirius said. He was waiting for John to start berating him for not wanting to marry his sister. He would rather get that part over with sooner rather than later.
“We’ll going to set up professional goals for you to achieve this year, and we’ll meet once a week to discuss your progress toward achieving them. During our meetings, we’ll also discuss any difficulties or odd cases you’ve encountered. I’ve been an Auror for awhile now, so I’m sure I’ll be able to offer you advice if you need it.”
“Okay,” Sirius said, still apprehensive.
“I think that’s about it for right now,” John said. “We’ll set up meeting times on a week-by-week basis; you never know when something crazy will happen or a crisis will arise to disrupt our schedules. We’ll set up your goals during our third meeting. I want you to get a feel for the profession before we do that.”
“Okay,” Sirius said again.
“Now, there should be good food at this party. Let’s get over there before it’s gone.”
So they weren’t going to even approach the issue? Sirius felt uneasy leaving it untouched. “John, wait.”
“You have a question?”
“Sort of. About me and Olivia –“
John held up his hand to stop the flow of words. “Don’t. Here we are both Aurors. Emotions and love lives are irrelevant to our work. That will be your first goal. You have to leave your personal life and anything that has happened to you outside of work at home. None of it comes to work with you. Understand? I am John Alexander and you are Sirius Black. We are two Aurors who work together, and who have a mentor-mentee relationship. As far as our current relationship goes, you never dated my sister, nor did you break her heart. Our personal feelings stay in a different realm.
“Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s get to the party.”
Sirius blinked, and followed him to the ballroom. He hoped that John had meant what he had said. Judging by the comment about Sirius breaking Olivia’s heart, he clearly had not forgiven him for not marrying her. He hoped that his mentor would be able to take his own advice, and leave his personal feelings outside of their working relationship.
As soon as he stepped into the ballroom, Rebecca threw herself at Sirius.
“Congratulations!” she exclaimed, standing on tiptoe to kiss him. “I’ve never been so proud of you!”
“Thanks,” Sirius said with a grin, pulling her close to kiss her again. “Thanks for coming, too. It means a lot to me that you’re here.”
“Where else would I be?” she laughed. “I was so excited to see you up there. You looked so tall and so powerful.”
Sirius grinned again. “What, not handsome?”
“You know you’re gorgeous,” she said dismissively. “I refuse to feed your ego anymore.”
“Fine,” Sirius laughed. “Let’s go find my friends, shall we? It’s definitely time that you met them. I should have introduced you long ago.”
“I met some of them the night that I met you in the Three Broomsticks.”
Sirius laughed. “Can you remember even one of their names?”
“James,” she said defensively.
“Cheating,” Sirius laughed. “You can’t use him.”
“And why not?”
“Well, first, he’s my best mate, so I talk about him all the time. And second, we were just at his dad’s funeral, so his name is right there in your mind.”
She sighed, a hurt expression creeping into her eyes. “You know, you could have introduced me to them at the funeral. They were all there.”
“Rebecca, you know I couldn’t do that,” Sirius sighed. “It was an awful day. I didn’t want them to meet you there. Then they’d always associate you with James’s dad’s funeral.” He smiled, and touched her cheek. “And, you, sweetheart, should never been associated with anything negative or sad.”
She smiled, and put her small hand over his hand on her face. “All right. I forgive you. But I do want to meet them.”
“Good,” he said, taking her hand in his. “I know they want to meet you, too.”
They crossed the room hand-in-hand, walking toward James and Lily, who were talking quietly to one another. James noticed them approaching first, and nudged Lily, nodding in their direction. Once Lily recognized Sirius, she gave them a glowing smile. Sirius dropped Rebecca’s hand as they reached their friends, and grinned at them, preparing for the hug he knew would be forthcoming from Lily.
“Congratulations!” Lily exclaimed, throwing herself into Sirius’s open arms.
Sirius grinned, hugging her close. “Thanks, Little Flower. I can’t believe you took a day off work to come to this!”
Lily laughed. “Oh, yes, a day away from so much. Since I told Dorcas that I’m pregnant, she won’t let me do anything fun!”
“And by that she means anything dangerous or stupid,” James grinned. “Congratulations, Padfoot. I know my dad would be proud of you.”
“Thanks,” Sirius said, shaking James’s hand. “That means a lot to me.”
James nodded. “It’s true. He was so excited for you.”
Sirius smiled, and blinked quickly. He couldn’t cry. Not again. Not here. Not now. He smiled instead, and took Rebecca’s hand, pulling her forward.
“Rebecca, this is James Potter, who has been my best friend since I was eleven years old – in fact, he’s more my brother than anything else. And this is his wife, Lily, who is also one of my best friends.” He grinned. “I guess you could call her my favorite sister-in-law.”
“He only says that because I feed him,” Lily smiled, shaking Rebecca’s hand. “It’s wonderful to finally meet you, Rebecca.”
“And you,” Rebecca replied. “I feel like I know you both already, with all that Sirius has told me about you.”
“Well, that can be good or bad,” James laughed, taking her hand. “From what I can see, you’ve made Sirius very happy. I hope he’s doing the same for you.”
“Oh, he is,” Rebecca replied, looking up at Sirius with adoring eyes. “He’s a very special person.”
In that moment, both Lily and James realized that Rebecca was clearly in love with Sirius. They glanced at one another, both a bit alarmed, neither knowing how Sirius felt about this sweet girl who had found her way into his life.
Remus, Laura and Peter approached, and Sirius began the introductions again. While Laura and Lily talked to Rebecca, James grabbed Sirius’s arm.
“We need to talk soon, all right?” he asked.
Sirius nodded, his eyes betraying nothing. “Yeah, we do.”
Sirius looked up, and saw Dana and Aidan coming toward him. He smiled, and waved them over, wanting to introduce them to Rebecca. It wasn’t until they had reached him that he realized that they weren’t alone.
Olivia was with them. He sucked in his breath quickly. This could be a very awkward situation.
“Rebecca, these are my other friends,” he said, trying to speak quickly. “This is Dana, who has been one of our group since Hogwarts, and her husband, Aidan, who was dragged into this mess because of her. And this is Olivia, who has also been with us from the beginning, and is now one of my coworkers.”
“It’s so nice to meet you all,” Rebecca said, shaking all their hands. “Sirius talks about you all so much.”
Peter quickly turned his laugh into a cough. James and Remus looked at him, beams of understanding passing between the three of them. Did Sirius truly talk about all of them? Judging by her lack of reaction, Rebecca didn’t know very much about Olivia. And judging by Olivia’s narrowed eyes as she looked at the younger girl, it was only a matter of time before she erupted in anger.
Lily paced around the first floor of the house, going from room to room as she waited for James to come home from work. He had taken to coming home earlier in the days since his father had died, and she had rearranged her schedule accordingly so that she could arrive home around the same time. Today he was later than usual. She wasn’t exactly worried, but she was anxious to talk to him.
True to his opinions immediately following the attack, James had thrown himself back into everyday life. Lily knew that Professor Dumbledore had told him to take off all the time he wanted, but she also knew that he didn’t want to take time off. He honestly felt that the best way to heal was to stay busy.
She happened to disagree. She knew that he needed time to think about what had happened, and to adjust to it. And she knew just the way to help him do that.
A pop sounded in the living room, signaling that James had come home. She smiled, and left the kitchen to greet him.
“James, I have an idea.”
“Hello to you, too,” James grinned, putting his schoolbag down on the floor. “My day was fine, thanks. How was yours?”
In truth, his day had been fine. Everyone had been wonderfully nice to him at school since his father’s death. His students had, naturally, heard what had happened, and had been unusually studious. Several of his fifth year girls had gone together to purchase a floral arrangement for him. Although the last thing he needed was more flowers, he appreciated the gesture. Many of the other teachers had given him cards telling them that they would always been available to talk. Even Snape had ignored him recently, a welcome change from the usual evil looks and taunts he threw at James.
Even so, going to work, teaching, wasn’t the same as it had been. He had over a hundred essays to grade, but couldn’t motive himself to do it. Ever since his father had died, all his desire to work had disappeared. As much as he loved his job, he couldn’t seem to reclaim his passion for it.
Lily giggled. “Hi. My day was fine.”
He winked at her, and sat down on the couch, looking at her expectantly.
“I believe you said you have idea?”
Lily nodded, clutching her hands together in a nervous gesture. She wasn’t sure how he would take this idea. “Well, the Easter holidays are coming up,” she said. “And I know that you have time off work while the students are on their break.”
“Thank goodness,” James grinned. “I’m going to need the time to get myself in order. The number of essays I’ll have to mark is staggering.”
“Well,” Lily said, crossing the room to stand behind him, “I was thinking that you might like a change of scenery while you mark those papers.”
“What are you talking about?”
She leaned down from behind the sofa, and ran her fingers through his hair. “I was thinking that maybe I could take some time off work, and the two of us could get away for awhile. You know, we never really did much to celebrate our first anniversary, so I thought we could celebrate it a little late with a second honeymoon.”
James turned his head to look up at her. “What?”
“We loved the Canary Islands before,” Lily said. “What do you say we go back?”
“You’re serious about this?”
“Very serious. I think it would be good for both of us, don’t you?” She kept moving her fingers through his hair. “We could just relax, and forget about everything except each other. You know, it could be the last chance we have for awhile to be alone together.”
James closed his eyes, letting her fingers continue to massage his head. He could already hear the ocean in his mind and see Lily lying on the beach next to him. “Yes,” he murmured. “It would definitely do us good.”
“Are you saying yes?” She had never dreamed that it would be so easy to convince him to go.
He opened his eyes, and smiled at her. “I’m saying yes.”
He sat upright, and kissed her. She responded instantly, kissing him back. He smiled against her lips, and rose up onto his knees on the couch. Putting his arms around her waist, he lifted her over the back of the couch, pulling her down onto him.
“James!” she exclaimed as she fell on top of him, sending both of them sprawling across the couch.
“Did I hurt you?” he asked with concern.
“No,” she said, ignoring the bruises that she was sure were forming all over her body where it had been dragged across the top of the furniture. “Did I hurt you? I’m not as light as I used to be, you know.”
James laughed. “You’re not that heavy.”
She made a face. “Wait until you see me in a bathing suit.”
He smiled, and kissed her again. “I love you, Lil. You’re gorgeous, and you always will be. I can’t wait to see you in a bathing suit.”
But before he could see his wife model her swimsuit, James had important business to attend to with his friend. He and Sirius had agreed on a day and time to meet to discuss all the changes that were taking place in Sirius’s life. At the appointed time, James Apparated to what had once been their shared flat.
When he arrived, Remus and Peter were already seated in the living room. James raised his eyebrows.
“Hey, guys,” he said.
“Hey,” they replied in unison.
“Good, James is here,” Sirius said, coming in from the kitchen. He tossed each of his friends a butterbeer. “We can get started.”
“I would have come sooner if I had known you were calling together a tribunal,” James said, sitting down and opening his drink. “I didn’t think punctuality was all that important today.”
“Punctuality is always important,” Sirius replied, taking his own seat. He glanced around at his friends. “All right, so we’re here to discuss my screwed up love life.”
James grinned. “Are we running this like an official meeting? If so, we’d better start by taking attendance.”
“Sod off, Potter,” Sirius grinned. “We’re going to start by making sure that everyone is up to speed.”
“Well, from what I’ve observed, you and Rebecca have been together for quite awhile,” Peter said. “Personally, I’m impressed. You generally don’t stay with girls this long. I guess your long-term relationship with Olivia really did affect you positively.”
Sirius smiled painfully. “Ah, Wormtail. Well, yes, I have been with Rebecca for a while. And, as with most relationships, ours has progressed in many ways . . .”
James’s eyes lit with understanding.
James ran his hand through his hair. “How long?”
“Since – since the day your dad died.”
James shook his head. “Is that the only way you know to deal with tragedy?”
“What are you talking about?”
“The night that Dana’s dad died, you and Olivia....”
Sirius’s head snapped back a bit, and his eyes widened. “Did I? How do you remember that if I don’t?”
“Because I was with Lily at the girls’ flat that night. You and Olivia were there, too, obviously – Lily and I left pretty quickly, but it was still the most uncomfortable moment of our friendship.”
Sirius laughed. “Yeah, I do remember that now. You guys didn’t have to actually leave the flat.”
“Yeah, we really wanted to hang around and listen,” James said, his face disgusted.
“Let’s focus on the present, please,” Remus interrupted. “Sirius is far from through with the confessions for tonight.”
Sirius grinned. “Moony became my confessor last week, so this is a bit of a repeat for him.” He drew a deep breath. “Well, here goes. Rebecca told me that she loves me.”
“Yeah, I knew that,” Peter said at once.
“Me, too,” James agreed.
“What do you mean?” Sirius asked. “You only met her for about an hour, and I know she wasn’t confessing her deepest feelings to you – or to your wife, James.”
“No, she didn’t have to say anything,” James said. “It was written all over her face.”
“The way she looked at you – it was very obvious,” Peter added.
Sirius’s eyes looked ready to pop out of his head. “Do you think that Olivia saw it?”
“Unless she’s blind, yes,” Remus said.
“Why so worried about Olivia?” James asked. “I mean, Padfoot, that relationship is over. Done. Olivia is your past. Rebecca is your present, as well as your indefinite future.”
Sirius dropped his head down into his hands. “You’re an arse, Potter.”
James sighed. “You still love Olivia, don’t you?”
Sirius looked up. “I don’t know! I don’t know who I love and who I don’t!”
Peter exhaled and looked pointedly at Sirius.
“I care about her,” Sirius said defensively.
“But, Sirius, if she loves you, don’t you think you’re doing her a disservice? I mean, I’m sure she thinks that you love her as much as she loves you,” James said.
“Do you think so?” Sirius frowned. “I’ve never actually said the words.”
“If you’re sleeping with her, I’m not sure you’d need to,” Peter said hesitantly. “Don’t girls take that as a sign of how you feel or something?”
Sirius dropped his head down into his hands.
“Look, Sirius, don’t you remember seventh year, when one of your many girlfriends left you because she wanted more than a snogging buddy?” Remus said.
“Yeah,” Sirius said, looking up with a frown. “I don’t see what that has to do with this, though.”
“It’s the same effect,” Remus said. “You always cared about the girls, but never as much as they cared about you – not until Olivia, at any rate. You kept them around, used them as snogging buddies, then got rid of them. Right now, you care about Rebecca, but not as much as she cares about you.”
Sirius flinched. “ I’d take up with one of the girls at the Academy – believe me, she’s offered. I’d sleep with her whenever I wanted, but our relationship would be just that. At least, that’s the way she outlined it when she told me what she wanted from me.”
“Some girl actually offered you that?” Peter asked in shock.
“Ages ago,” Sirius said dismissively. “It was right after Olivia and I broke up.”
“And you’re just now telling us?” James asked.
Sirius shrugged. “It seemed irrelevant. I wasn’t about to take her up on it,” he finished, giving Remus a pointed look.
Remus held up his hands. “I’m just saying that that’s what it looks like to the casual observer.”
“You’re more than a casual observer, and you know it,” Sirius said. “All of you are. You’re my friends. You’re involved.”
“Sadly, we are,” James grinned.
“So, advise me,” Sirius said. “What should I do?”
“The first thing you need to do is to decide what you want,” James said. “Then go from there.”
“Decide what I want?”
“You need to choose,” Remus said. “Would you rather be with Olivia or Rebecca?”
“Remember,” Peter added. “You know that Rebecca wants you, so no matter what you do, you have to be careful about her feelings. And, you’re not sure if Olivia wants you, so if you choose her, you have to be careful of yours.”
Lily took her favorite sundress out of her closet, holding it up and looking at it critically. Would it still fit her? She held it up against her body, sighing as she smoothed it over her stomach.
“You know, you really are limiting my wardrobe,” she said, running her hand over her curved stomach. “Can’t you wait until we get back from the Canary Islands to grow more? If you could try to tuck yourself up to be smaller until we get back, I’d appreciate that, too.”
“Talking to yourself is a sign of insanity, you know.”
Lily screamed and jumped, clutching her dress tightly against her body. She whirled around to see Olivia standing in her bedroom doorway. “Olivia! You scared me to death!”
“You’re still standing,” Olivia said dismissively. “Who were you talking to?”
Olivia grinned, and crossed the room to touch Lily’s abdomen. “Do we have a name yet?”
“Either Brenna or Harry,” Lily said.
“Those are great names,” Olivia said quietly, knowing that they honored the baby’s fallen grandparents. She blinked, and looked away from Lily’s serene face.
Lily smiled. “Thanks. But somehow I doubt that you came all the way over here to discuss baby names.”
“No,” Olivia admitted. “And, I might add that you are nearly impossible to find! Why aren’t you at work? You know I hate dealing with your guard dog!”
“I’ve told you before, she’s harmless,” Lily laughed. “James and I are leaving for Spain tomorrow. I took today off to pack. Although, judging by the way that nothing I own will fit me anymore, I took today off to shop. Why aren’t you at work?”
“I’m a new Auror, so I get the most bizarre shifts known to man. Today I’m working from four in the afternoon till midnight.”
“Well, that’s fun,” Lily said sarcastically. “But if you went to the Prophet to look for me, braving our secretary, I’m guessing you weren’t just in the mood for idle chit-chat.”
Olivia shook her head. “I need to talk to you, Lils.”
“All right,” Lily said, sitting down on the bed. “What’s on your mind?”
“Sirius.” She sighed, and ran her hands over her face. “He’s sleeping with Rebecca, isn’t he?”
Lily’s eyes widened. “Liv . . .”
Olivia nodded. “I thought so. I could see the way that she was looking at him during the induction party. She’s in love with him. She was looking at him like she belongs to him completely – and, knowing Sirius’s reputation, that can only mean one thing.”
Lily shook her head. “You’re not giving Sirius enough credit.”
“Not giving him enough credit?” Olivia exploded, her calm demeanor gone. “I dated him, Lil! I know what he’s all about!”
“Liv, you just referenced his reputation. He and James had pretty much the same reputation at Hogwarts, and we both know how wrong everyone was about them. Yes, they had lots of girlfriends, but they weren’t sleeping with them.”
“We’re out of Hogwarts now,” Olivia replied. “And can you honestly tell me that he’s not sleeping with this girl?”
Lily sighed, wishing she had never asked James how his conversation with Sirius had gone. Then maybe she would be able to honestly claim ignorance. “No, I can’t.”
Olivia’s face fell. “He is?”
Lily nodded slowly. “That’s what he told James.”
Without warning, Olivia burst into tears. Lily was off the bed in an instant, pulling her into a comforting hug.
“Oh, Liv,” she sighed. “It’s going to be all right.”
“How, exactly?” Olivia sobbed. “I still love him, Lils! My God! I love him so much! I never wanted to break up with him! I wanted us to be together forever. But he didn’t want that then, and he clearly doesn’t now!”
Lily remained silent, hugging her friend tightly. She didn’t know what to say. She had never been in this position. She had never lost the man she loved to another woman.
“Does he love her?”
“What did James say?” Olivia sniffed. “Or Sirius himself, for that matter. You two have always been close. What did he tell you? Does he love her?”
“I don’t know,” Lily said honestly. “But I know that he does care about her a lot.”
Olivia pulled away from Lily, and wiped angrily at her tears. “Then it’s time for me to get over him.”
“How do you intend to do that?” Lily said, hating that she and James were leaving in the morning. Olivia clearly needed her.
“Do you remember when he first started dating that whore, and I said I was going to find a new man?”
“Yes,” Lily said, ignoring the insult to Rebecca. “You dated quite a few different men, as I recall.”
“Yes,” Olivia acknowledged. “Now it’s time to find a permanent one.”
“If he can fall in love again, so can I,” she said stubbornly. “I’m going to find someone who will love me as much as Sirius did.”
“Liv . . .”
“No,” Olivia said quickly. “He’s going to love me even more than Sirius did. He’s going to want to marry me.”
“You’re going to find someone to marry?” Lily asked nervously.
Olivia looked at her with wide-eyed innocence. “Isn’t that what everyone’s looking for, Lily?”
Lily sucked in her breath quickly. “But if that someone isn’t Sirius?”
“He doesn’t want me,” Olivia said, blinking quickly to hide her tears. “So I’m going to find someone who does.”
“But if you still love Sirius . . .”
“I’m sure I can love someone else just as much.”
“But, Liv, if you think that Sirius is the one for you . . .”
Olivia smiled sadly. “Lils, I know you believe that there’s one perfect person out there for everyone. I did, too. But I don’t anymore. I think that you can love many different people at many different points in your life. I loved Sirius for a long time. But he doesn’t love me anymore. So, it’s time for me to find someone else to love.” She smiled her sad smile again. “And maybe you’re right. Maybe there is one specific person for everyone. If that’s the truth, then Sirius clearly isn’t the one for me, not if he’s fallen out of love with me. I need to stop wasting my time wishing that I was still with him, and to find the one I’m meant to be with.”
She gave Lily a triumphant smile. Lily tried to smile back, but failed. Her emotions were swirling around almost as much as Olivia’s. Should she tell her friend that Sirius could still love her? That he wasn’t sure of his own feelings?
No, she couldn’t. She’d only get Olivia’s hopes up, and if Sirius decided that Rebecca was the love of his life, Olivia would have her heart broken again. Lily couldn’t do that to her. She held her tongue, and prayed that her friends would work everything out. Whether they ended up together or apart, she only wanted both of them to be happy.
I cried, when I saw the "It all ends!" banner!!
But now I know, it never will....
Re: The Real World!
Some dance to remember,
Some dance to forget
- Hotel California, The Eagles
“Do you have everything?” James asked as he did a shrinking charm on their luggage in preparation to Apparate to the Canary Islands.
Lily grinned. “This was the easiest packing job ever. I took everything straight from the bags from the stores and put it in my suitcases.”
James laughed, and shook his head. “Was an entire new wardrobe appropriate for a week-long vacation?”
“Yes,” Lily said a bit defiantly. “Nothing I used to wear fits me anymore! And this is all your fault, you know – you’re the one who got me pregnant.”
James laughed again. “As I recall, you were a very willing participant in that.”
Lily flushed, and smiled. “Guilty as charged.”
He smiled, and looked at her closely. Even though she was teasing him as much as he was teasing her, he could tell that her heart wasn’t in it. Something wasn’t quite right with her.
“Are you all right?”
Lily looked at him with a smile. “Yes,” she said.
“Are you sure?” He knew that she was lying, and she knew that he knew it.
“I’m just a little worried about Olivia,” Lily admitted.
James sighed. “Lil, Olivia and Sirius have to come to terms with this on their own. We can’t tell them how to live their lives, and we can’t force them to get back together.” He smiled, and pulled her close. “We’re only going to be gone for a week. Let’s take that time to focus on us, and only us.”
Lily smiled, and snuggled close to him. “I like that idea.”
“Good.” He kissed the top of her head, and released her. “Besides, how much trouble can they get into in a week?”
“We’re going out. Meet me at the Three Broomsticks at ten tonight, and dress for a night on the town!
After sending an identical message to Laura, Olivia knew she was ready for her evening activities. It was time to put her plan into action. She was as deserving of a man who loved her as anyone else – and it was time to find him. Both Dana and Laura were married, but that didn’t matter. They would still have fun. Besides, her friends’ martial status would cut down on her competition for the single men. She grinned in anticipation. She could hardly wait.
“I want to make you dinner tonight. Come over after work.
“See you then!
Sirius sighed as he read the closing. His friends were right. She truly did love him. Did he love her?
Well, there was only one way to find out, and that was to spend more time with her. If she wanted to cook for him, then that was an added bonus. He quickly scribbled a reply promising to visit, and sent it off with her owl. He smiled to himself, knowing that the excitement he felt over seeing her in just a few hours was probably an indication of how much he cared about her.
“I love this hotel,” James grinned as they entered their room.
He immediately crossed to the double doors that led to the balcony, and threw them open. He stepped outside, and watched the surf rolling in across the beach. Children ran across the sand shrieking with laughter, older couples walked arm in arm, and newly-weds splashed one another in the surf. His eyes barely saw any of them as he let his thoughts wander, carrying him a million miles away from the tropical paradise before him.
Lily followed him outside, and put her arms around him from behind. “Are you all right?”
He turned to her with a smile. “Of course. Why wouldn’t I be?”
“James . . .” She sighed. “You’ve been through a lot recently, that’s all. You know I’m here for you if you want to talk, right?”
He turned around fully, and wrapped his arms around her. “I love you, Lil. I love you for your concern, and for how much you love me. But I really need to deal with this on my own, all right? I know you’re here for me, and I know that I can always talk to you.”
“Good,” she smiled.
He kissed her gently. “What do you say we go down to the beach? We still have plenty of daylight left.”
Lily wrinkled her nose. “That means I have to put on my bathing suit already.”
“Yes,” James grinned. “And I can’t wait to see you in it.”
“Sirius? Are you ready for our meeting?”
Sirius nodded, and rose from his desk. He had nearly forgotten about his meeting with his mentor – at least, forgetting about it had been his objective. It wasn’t that he wanted to miss the meeting; it was more that he didn’t want to let the overriding dread of it occupy his thoughts for the entire day.
But now there was no more putting it out of his mind. It was eight-thirty, their appointed meeting time. Gathering his binders and papers, he followed John to his office.
John’s office was much more impressive than Sirius’s. As a new Auror, Sirius shared his office, which was one of the smallest the department had to offer, with two other new Aurors. Fortunately, neither of them was Olivia. He didn’t know if he would be able to handle that amount of awkwardness. Having her brother serve as his mentor was awful enough.
“Have a seat,” John invited, indicating one of the chairs in front of his desk. He sat down behind it, and looked at Sirius expectantly. “How was your week?”
“Fine,” Sirius said.
John raised an eyebrow. “Really?”
“A bit boring,” Sirius admitted. “I had rather thought that I’d begin with field work right away. I didn’t expect to be doing all this paperwork.”
“That’s half of being an Auror,” John replied. “Everyone just thinks they can jump right into the difficult missions, but you have to work your way up to that.”
“Even now?” Sirius asked bluntly.
“What do you mean by that?” John asked. “Why should the rules be any different for you? I know that you don’t necessarily abide by the accepted way of doing things in all facets of your life, but you have to expect to follow the norms here.”
Sirius took a deep breath, reminding himself that he would treat John the same way if their roles were reversed. Not for the first time, he thought of Lily, who was as much his sister as James was his brother. If someone had broken her heart, he would never have been as kind to him as John was being to Sirius.
John looked at him with raised eyebrows, taking his silence for agreement. “Do you see my point, then?”
“Yes, I understand what you’re trying to say,” Sirius replied. “But, what I was asking was more if we have the manpower to allow any of us to sit around in the office. We’re in the middle of a war, battling an evil that appears to be impossible to destroy. With the number of Aurors who are lost everyday, doesn’t it make more sense to use everyone we have in the field?”
John shook his head. “Not unless you know what you’re doing.”
“I’ve just gone through an incredibly intense training program! I should think that I do know what I’m doing!”
“Nothing can prepare you for real battle,” John said softly. “Don’t be too eager to rush into it. You have your entire career to put your life on the line. Enjoy the less-dangerous work that you’re doing now, and enjoy being safe.”
Sirius was about to protest that he did know what real battle was, but held his tongue. As an Order member, he had been thrown onto the battlefield. As an Auror trainee, he had been assigned practice drills. His life was not the same as that of a normal new Auror, but that was something that John could never know. Order members did not publicize their identities. Dumbledore and Moody insisted on secrecy for the protection of all those involved in the Order.
John sighed, and ran his hands over his face. “Look, do you mind if we cut this short tonight? I’ve worked late every night this week, and I’d really like to get home in time to tuck my girls into bed.”
“That’s fine,” Sirius said, as eager to leave the office as John was. “When shall we meet again?”
“Let’s say next week at this time,” John replied. “If something comes up, we can change it.”
Sirius nodded. “Fine.”
“Good.” John rose to his feet. “If you need anything, let me know.”
Sirius nodded again. “I will. Thanks, John.”
Sirius made his way out of the office, barely suppressing his smile. He wondered if anyone would notice if he slipped out early. John would be gone, so he would never know. And Rebecca was waiting for him . . .
Sirius refrained from jumping in surprise, knowing that if he did, Moody would hex him on the spot. Sirius had learned that “constant vigilance” meant not showing surprise when his name was bellowed down a corridor from behind him.
“Yes?” he asked, turning to face his teacher.
“I need a word with you,” Moody growled. He grabbed Sirius’s arm, and dragged him into his office, which was even nicer than John’s. “Have a seat.”
Sirius sat down in front of Moody’s desk, feeling the familiar dread of having done something wrong. He felt as though he had been transported back in time, and was about to be reprimanded by Professor McGonagall.
“Why the frightened face?” Moody asked, sitting down heavily. “Not a guilty conscience, I hope?”
“No, sir,” Sirius said, looking Moody in the eye. “I just can’t think of why you have called me here.”
“Well, let me start by telling you that you’ve shown impressive restraint since you began with us as a full Auror,” Moody said. “I know you don’t like to sit and watch the action pass you by, yet you have managed to do just that. You also have had the rather difficult situation of working closely with Miss Alexander’s brother, and you have managed to do that with success. You have impressed both Frank and I.”
“Thank you, sir,” Sirius replied, wondering where this was going.
“Let me get to the point,” Moody continued. “Normally, our new Aurors are required to do desk work for six months. However, we are going to make an exception for you.”
Sirius raised his eyebrows. “John’s not going to like that. He just gave me a speech about all Aurors needing to follow the rules.”
“Yes, a dose of rule-following wouldn’t hurt you,” Moody said with a slight chuckle. “However, we need good Aurors more than you need to learn respect for regulations. You have more than proven yourself in the past, and we need you out in the field. Don’t worry about your mentor. I’ll talk to him.”
“Are you going to tell him . . .?”
“He doesn’t need to know of your extracurricular activities,” Moody said, as close as any of them ever came to referring to the Order at work. “As with all our field Aurors, you will be assigned a partner.”
“Who will that be?”
Moody looked deeply into his eyes. “Miss Alexander.”
Sirius’s eyes widened. “Sir, I know I can’t tell you what to do, but . . .”
“I know all about what has happened,” Moody said. “I know that the two of you were in a very involved relationship, and that it has ended. I don’t know any more details than that, and I don’t want to. However, I also know that you are both gifted Aurors, and that you work very well together.” He leaned forward. “In order to do our best work, in order to win this war, we sometimes must align ourselves with those we would rather not. Part of assigning Mr. Alexander as your mentor was to teach you to work with those you would rather not. Consider that experience training for this one.”
Sirius nodded dumbly. “Does Olivia know?”
“Not yet. She has today off, so I’ll tell her tomorrow when she comes in. Please don’t mention it to her until I’ve had a chance to talk to her.”
Sirius nodded again. “When will we begin?”
“Next week. I’d advise you to be prepared.”
When Laura walked into the Three Broomsticks, Dana was already there. She breathed a sigh of relief as she crossed the bar to sit down with her friend. She had hoped that they would both beat Olivia there.
“Hi,” she said, taking an empty seat at the table Dana had managed to secure.
“Hi,” Dana replied with a smile. “I’m glad you got here early. I was hoping that we could beat Liv here. We need to talk.”
“I was thinking the same thing,” Laura grinned. “What is going on? Why are we here?”
“I don’t know anything for sure,” Dana admitted, “but I’ve been friends with Olivia since we were eleven years old, and I can tell you from experience that she’s flying off the handle. She’s upset over Sirius and Rebecca, and she wants revenge.”
“Revenge?” Laura repeated with raised eyebrows.
“Well, in a sense. She wants to get back at Sirius for his relationship with Rebecca by finding a new man.”
“But Sirius has been with Rebecca for a long time now. Why would she wait this long?”
“Because until she saw them together at the ceremony, Rebecca was just a fantasy. She was some woman that Sirius was seeing in the abstract sense. But when she actually met her, Rebecca became a real person – or, to put it in perhaps more accurate words, she became a real rival.”
Laura shuddered involuntarily. “She’s not going to do anything to hurt Rebecca, is she?”
“Not physically, if that’s what you mean. But if she manages to get Sirius back, she is certainly going to hurt her emotionally.”
Laura nodded, remembering what Remus had said about Rebecca’s love for Sirius. “Does Olivia consciously want to hurt her?”
Dana shook her head. “She’s not the type to consciously hurt anyone. I think she truly does want to move on, and to get over Sirius. But I think that this is also a way of hurting him as much as he’s hurt her, you know? She wants him to see her with someone else – to see her happy with someone else.”
“What are we going to do?” Laura sighed.
“We’re going to be supportive friends,” Dana said firmly. “If she wants to find a new man, we’re going to help her find him.”
“All right,” Laura said a bit uncertainly.
“It’ll be all right,” Dana assured her. “We won’t let her do anything stupid. That’s why we’re here.” She smiled. “That’s what friends are for, right?”
Laura smiled, too. “Right.” Her smile faded as a slight frown crossed her face. “But why is she doing this without Lily?”
Dana shook her head. “I don’t know. Maybe she’s afraid she’ll talk her out of it. Lily’s always been closer to Sirius than you or I – they were good friends even before she started dating James. She probably doesn’t want to have someone that close to Sirius around to watch her play the field, as it were.”
Laura shook her own head. “This could be harder than we thought.”
“Lil, honestly, your hair looked fine before!”
Lily stepped out of the bathroom with a strand of red hair curled around her wand. She looked at James with wide-eyed innocence. “I thought you liked it curly.”
“I love it no matter what you do to it,” he said. “Right now, I’d really like to eat dinner. This country’s food schedule is ridiculous! Who waits until after nine o’clock for dinner?”
“Spain,” Lily replied, releasing her hair from her wand. “Don’t you remember how late we ate every night during our honeymoon?”
“I don’t remember much other than how much fun we had,” he admitted. “If I had remembered that they try to starve their tourists here, I would have suggested that we go to France instead.”
Lily laughed. “You’ll live, love. Just let me finish curling my hair, and we can go get something to eat.”
James sighed, and sat down on the bed, prepared to wait. In his opinion, Lily’s hair maintenance always took far too long.
The hands of the clock had never moved so slowly. As the end of his shift approached, Sirius found himself checking the timepiece every three minutes. He just wanted to leave, and to visit Rebecca. The more he thought about her, the more he couldn’t wait to see her.
Finally, the clock struck ten. The long workday was finally over. The only thing standing between him and Rebecca was the amount of him that it would take him to Apparate to her flat. Grinning to himself, he Disapparated.
Olivia walked into the Three Broomsticks promptly at ten. Dana and Laura were already there, sitting at a table in the center of the room. Both girls were, as instructed, dressed for a night out. Olivia grinned, and readjusted the straps of her shimmering silver tank top. They were going to have fun.
“Hey, ladies,” she said, sitting down with them.
“Well, I see you took your own instructions to heart,” Dana grinned. “You look great, Liv.”
“Thanks,” Olivia smiled. “So do both of you.”
“You’re lucky I decided not to throw out my clubbing clothes when I got married,” Laura said, toying with the zipper on the side of her skirt. “My sister got rid of hers, and she told me to do the same. But, for some reason, I didn’t want to.”
“Every girl is entitled to a night of dancing, regardless of her marital status,” Olivia replied.
“That’s true,” Dana said, fluffing up her hair. “But what brought about this idea?”
“We can’t have a girls’ night out?” Olivia asked.
“Without Lily?” Laura asked, consciously avoiding looking at Dana. “Unlikely. What’s going on, Liv?”
“First of all, Lily probably wouldn’t want to come. She’s been very careful about what she does since she found out she’s pregnant. And that means that she wouldn’t want to be in smoky bars and clubs, and that she certainly wouldn’t drink. So, it makes sense to do this while she and James are gone.”
“All right, I agree that Lily wouldn’t want to do this,” Laura said, nodding her head.
“But that still doesn’t answer the why of it all,” Dana added.
Olivia smiled. “Well, you’re both married, so I know you won’t want to be a part of this, but I want to find a new man.”
“So we’re going clubbing?” Laura laughed. “Liv, a club is not the place to meet a potential boyfriend!”
“Yeah, she’s right,” Dana agreed. “Clubs are pretty much full of men who are looking for a girl for the night, if you understand what I’m trying to say.”
Olivia rolled her eyes. “We’re perfectly nice, respectable girls, and we’ve been to clubs before. Who’s to say that men don’t do the same?”
“Men who go dancing for the sheer love of dancing?” Laura asked incredulously. She giggled. “I don’t think they’re interested in you, love, regardless of what you wear.”
Olivia waved her hand with a grin. “Not every man who dances for the fun of it is gay!”
“The percentage is a bit high for the odds to be in your favor,” Dana said. “Let’s hang around here for awhile, though. The Three Broomsticks brings in a pretty respectable clientele. We might be able to find you a man in here somewhere.”
“You do work with men, you know,” Laura offered. “Why not look for someone there?”
Olivia looked horrified. “Date an Auror? No way! I can barely handle living with my own schedule. I can’t even imagine trying to deal with mine as well as someone else’s!”
“Okay, bad suggestion,” Laura replied, biting back the remark that she wanted to make about Sirius being an Auror. Olivia hadn’t had much trouble working her schedule around his. “I’m just trying to think of alternatives to the bar scene, I guess.”
“It’s all right, Laura,” Dana said. “We can find Olivia a man here. Or, at least, we can try. And now that she has this new attitude, we can be on the look-out for her.”
“Don’t talk about me like I’m not here,” Olivia said peevishly. “And what do you mean by ‘new attitude?’”
“You’ve been a bit preoccupied with Sirius,” Dana said delicately. “Which is fine, considering how long you dated him, and how in love you two were. You needed time to get over him. But, if you’re ready to move on, we’re here to help.”
Olivia’s eyes widened. “Lily didn’t seem too excited about the possibility.”
Dana smiled. “We all wanted to see you and Sirius married, Liv. It seemed so perfect. I mean, Lily and James, Laura and Remus, me and Aidan . . . we all were marrying our sweethearts from Hogwarts. We all assumed that you and Sirius would follow suit.”
“But that wasn’t meant to be,” Laura said, her eyes a bit sad. “And if you’re ready to move on, we’re ready to help you do that.”
Olivia smiled. Could she ask for better friends?
“All right,” Lily said, stepping out of the bathroom. “I’m ready when you are.”
James put down the paper he had been reading, and looked at Lily questioningly. “I thought you were curling your hair?”
Lily laughed, and brushed a straight lock back from her face. “Well, it ended up looking ridiculous, so I straightened it. I think it’s been acting weird because of all the hormones that are going crazy in my body – which makes this your fault, too.”
James shook his head. “I am far too hungry to see the humor in this situation.”
Lily smiled. “All right, I’ll stop, then. Where would you like to go for dinner?”
“The hotel has three restaurants. Shall we try one of those?”
“All right, then.”
Lily took James’s arm as they made their way to the lobby. “I’m sorry I took so long to get ready.”
“It’s all right,” he said, giving her a smile. “Waiting didn’t kill me.”
She grinned, and ran her hand over his arm. “I should say not.”
They found one of the restaurants, and stepped up to the host. James spoke to him quietly for a moment, and then they were quickly shown to a table by the window, overlooking the ocean. Lily looked out for a moment, watching the light from the half-moon dance across the waves. She turned to James with a beaming smile.
“This is perfect. How did we manage to get this table?”
James smiled. “Well, since you took so long to get ready, I thought I’d make sure we had a nice meal.”
“You organized this?”
He nodded. “You deserve a special dinner.”
“Why? Because I took so long with my hair?”
“No,” he said, looking deeply into her eyes. “You deserve this because of all you’ve done for me since my dad died. If it weren’t for you and your idea to come here, I’d still be at home, trying to force myself back into life. But now I’m here with you in this paradise, remembering why I’ve always loved everything about my life – remembering why I love you so much. So, we’re here at this fantastic table so I can thank you for all you’ve done to help me.”
Lily flushed. “I’m not doing anything you didn’t do for me once upon a time,” she said softly. “And I’m doing this because I love you, James.”
He smiled. “Thank you.”
“Yes. Thank you for reminding me of our wonderful honeymoon and our wonderful past together. Thank you for reminding me of the future that lies before us. Thank you for loving me. I love you, too.”
Sirius Apparated into Rebecca’s flat, and opened his eyes. It appeared to be empty, which made him a bit nervous. Was it some sort of a trap? If so, what had happened to Rebecca and her father? His chest tightened at the thought. He was an Order member; he was used to having dark wizards after him. He had never thought that he could bring that danger into another’s life. Please, please don’t let her be in danger because of me. He reached for his wand as he looked around with the eyes of a trained Auror.
“Rebecca?” he called. “Are you here?”
He breathed a sigh of relief as she came out of her bedroom, still trying to attach a silver earring to her ear. “Hey,” he smiled, releasing his wand.
“Hey, yourself,” she replied, making her way across the room to him.
She put her arms around his neck, and he responded by snaking his arms around her waist, his fingers loving the feel of the black silk of her dress. He leaned down to kiss her, but let his lips hover above hers for a moment.
“Where’s your father?”
“Out for the night,” she said. “He’s playing cards with some old cronies, which means he won’t be back until well after midnight.”
“Good,” Sirius said, lowering his lips to hers.
She responded instantly, letting her lips caress his. She moaned softly as his hands began to move over her body, and pulled away.
“What’s wrong?” Sirius asked, his eyes a bit glazed.
“I made you dinner, and I expect you to eat it,” she replied with a smile. “We can talk about dessert later.”
Laughing, Sirius nodded. “All right. What have you made us for dinner?”
“A traditional French meal,” she said proudly, leading him to the table, where everything was already laid out.
“I’ve never eaten French food before,” Sirius admitted.
“Really?” she asked incredulously. “How is that possible?”
Sirius shrugged. “I’ve never had the opportunity, I suppose.”
“Well, you are going to love this,” Rebecca said. “Let’s start with some French wine.”
“I love it already,” Sirius said, watching her pour the wine into their glasses.
She smiled as she handed a glass to him, then took the other in her own hand. “Shall we make a toast?”
Sirius nodded, and raised his glass. “To you,” he said simply.
“Yes,” he grinned. “For making me this wonderful dinner tonight, and for caring about me everyday. For making me feel special.”
“You are special,” she said, a slight flush creeping across her cheeks.
“So are you,” Sirius said.
“In that case, let’s make this toast to us,” Rebecca said. “To us, and to our relationship.”
Sirius nodded, and clinked his glass against hers. “To us.”
“What do you think of the selection?” Dana asked, taking a sip of her butterbeer.
“I think I’m never going to find a man here,” Olivia replied. “Look, those four over there are clearly married. I can see their rings from here. Those three there are far too old for me. Those six over there look like they sneaked out of Hogwarts to be here. And those two over there . . . Well, I think they’re sitting a bit close together.”
“Ha,” Laura said triumphantly. “See? I told you.”
“We’re not even at a club yet,” Olivia said, rolling her eyes. “You said the guys in the clubs would be gay, not the ones at the bars!”
Olivia looked at her sharply. “Are you all right, Laura? You look a little pale.”
Laura waved her hand impatiently. “Have you been talking to Remus? I’ll tell you the same thing I’ve been telling him – I’m fine! I just couldn’t fall asleep last night, that’s all. I’m a little tired.”
“All right, all right,” Olivia said, holding up her hands. “I was just a little worried, that’s all. You’re not normally so washed-out.”
Laura shrugged. “I had intended to catch up on my sleep tonight, but someone decided we needed a night on the town.”
“All right,” Olivia laughed. “Let’s give it half an hour, then we can give up and go home. We’ll skip the clubs tonight. What do you say?”
“Fine by me,” Laura replied, trying not to let her relief show. She was rather tired.
“Good plan,” Dana agreed.
“Good,” Olivia said, scanning the crowded bar again. She placed her empty glass on the table. “I’m going to get another. Can I get you girls anything?”
“I’m fine,” Dana said, shaking her half-full beverage.
“Me, too,” Laura said, lifting her own glass.
Olivia nodded, and made her way to the bar. She stood there for several moments waiting to catch the bartender’s attention. She didn’t see Madam Rosmerta anywhere, which she assumed was the reason she had to wait. The owner was always very adamant about taking good care of any friend of James, Sirius, Remus and Peter. She let her thoughts tumble around, remembering all the times they had come to this bar during Hogsmeade weekends while they were at Hogwarts. They had always had so much fun. She smiled slightly to herself as the memories washed over her.
“Am I missing a joke?”
Olivia’s head jerked up at the sound of the deep voice so close to her. She looked up – way up – to look into the dark, laughing eyes of the stranger. Dark hair fell across his forehead, and his smile revealed straight, white teeth. Her breath caught in her throat. He was absolutely gorgeous! And the appropriate age!
“Ah, I’m sorry,” he said with a teasing smile that displayed a dimple on his left cheek. “Do you not speak English?”
Olivia laughed. “No, I speak English. You just surprised me, that’s all.”
“Well, I’m sorry,” the man replied. “I just saw you standing here alone, and thought maybe you could use some company while you waited for service.”
“And wanting a drink yourself had nothing to do with it?” Olivia asked with a teasing smile of her own.
“Got me there,” he laughed. “But, considering the amount of people here right now, it looks like we’re going to be waiting for awhile. We might as well wait together.”
“Sure,” Olivia replied, leaning on the bar. “And who am I waiting with?”
“I’m Greg Wilson.” He smiled, his eyes twinkling. “I think I know who you are, but I could be wrong. What is your name?”
“Olivia Alexander,” she said, shaking his offered hand. “But I don’t know how you know me. I don’t remember ever seeing you around here before.”
“You don’t remember me?”
“Should I?” she asked with a frown.
“Maybe,” he laughed. “We went to Hogwarts together. I was in Ravenclaw – I think I was about four years ahead of you.”
“And you remember me?” she asked, taken aback.
“Of course,” he said with a grin. “How could I forget one of Gryffindor’s unstoppable Chasers? Ravenclaw had an unbeatable side put together the year that you and James Potter joined your team. If it hadn’t been for you two we would have won the Cup that year. Even my amazing Seeker skills couldn’t compete with the two of you.”
Olivia laughed. “Sorry to have cheated you – just in case you were wondering, winning the Cup felt great.”
“Just rub a little salt in that wound,” Greg laughed.
Olivia grinned. “I just wanted to make sure you knew how it felt to win. Did you ever win during your time at Hogwarts?”
“No,” he said with an exaggerated sigh. “Well, actually, Ravenclaw won my first two years, but I wasn’t on the team then. By the time I joined, Slytherin had put together one of the best teams Hogwarts had ever seen. Then you and Potter started playing, and it was all over. Are the two of you playing professionally now?”
Olivia laughed. “Hardly. James is actually teaching at Hogwarts, and I’m an Auror.”
“Really? You’re an Auror?”
“What? You don’t think I can do it?” she asked with a teasing smile.
“No, I’m just impressed,” he said. “I can’t believe you’d want to get into that with all that’s going on right now.”
Olivia nodded. “Yeah, I’ve heard that before. But, I think this is the best time to do it. I mean, someone has to defend us all.”
“That’s true.” He looked into the distance for a moment, then brought himself back to earth. “And you said James is teaching at Hogwarts?”
“That’s right,” she smiled. “He’s teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts.”
“Good for him,” Greg smiled. “I can’t imagine going back and being a teacher. I mean, all your old teachers would be your coworkers!”
“I know,” Olivia said. “But he seems to love it.” She paused. “And what are you doing post-Hogwarts?”
“It’s not as impressive as being an Auror,” he said. “I work in the Ministry with the Department of Magical Games and Sports.”
“Oh, then you work with Adam!” she exclaimed.
“Of course,” he said. “He’s a great guy. His wife’s a sweetheart, too. They were both in my year at Hogwarts.”
“Yes, I guess they would have been,” Olivia agreed. “They are great people.”
“There’s a bunch of us who graduated together who still stay in touch,” Greg said. “They’re part of the group, obviously. They told me that Potter had married one of the girls from your year.”
Olivia nodded. “Lily Evans.”
“Cute little redhead, right?”
“But you’re not married, are you?”
Olivia laughed. “I’m as far from married as I can get!”
He smiled. “So I am I.” He paused, and a nervous shadow fell over his eyes. “Hey, listen, are you here alone? I’d love to buy you a drink.”
“I’m actually with a couple of girlfriends,” Olivia said, her eyes filling with regret. “I promised them we’d only stay a little longer – they both have to work in the morning.”
“Well, look, I don’t want to keep you from your friends,” Greg said. “But can I see you again? I’d really like to get to know you better.”
“I’d like that, too,” Olivia said with a grin.
“Great,” Greg said. “Can we meet here Friday night? Say eight-thirty?”
Olivia ran through her schedule in her mind. “That should be fine,” she said.
“Excellent. I’ll see you then.”
“See you then,” she echoed.
“Well? What do you think of French food now?”
“You were right,” Sirius grinned. “It’s fantastic! But, I’m sure the chef had a lot to do with that.”
Rebecca flushed. “There’s not much to cooking. Anyone can do it if they have a good recipe in front of them.”
“You say that now,” Sirius laughed. “You’ve clearly never seen me try to cook!”
“Oh, come on. You can’t be that bad!”
“The first time I tried to cook dinner after we moved into our flat, it took James, Remus and I to put out the fire – and we were using our wands.”
“You’re making that up.”
“No, I’m being completely honest!” he exclaimed, holding up his hands. “After that, any time I ‘cooked’ it involved bringing home Chinese food or pizza.”
Rebecca laughed, and pushed back from the table. “Well, come with me.”
“Where are we going?” he asked, rising from his seat.
“You are going to have a cooking lesson,” she said, taking his hand to lead him into the kitchen.
“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” he asked with a grin as she released his hand. He leaned against the counter, watching her pull cooking utensils from her cupboards.
“I’m sure,” she said, rummaging around in the cupboards for ingredients. “I’ll have you cooking in no time. I’m a very good teacher.”
“I’m sure you are,” Sirius said. Unable to resist her, he came up from behind her, and put his arms around her waist. “Can’t you teach me something that involves heating other things?” he asked, kissing her neck.
“Sirius,” she murmured. She closed her eyes, then pulled away. “Cooking lesson first.”
“All right,” he agreed, stepping back.
She spun around with a grin, holding two thick bars of dark chocolate. “How do you feel about fondue?”
Olivia wasn’t sure how she found her way back to the table where Dana and Laura were laughing and talking. She sat down with them, her eyes still a bit dazed.
“Whoa,” Dana said. “Liv? Weren’t you supposed to be getting a drink?”
“I got much more than a drink,” she grinned.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Laura asked apprehensively, exchanging a glance with Dana.
“Do either of you remember Greg Wilson from Hogwarts?”
“Of course,” Laura said at once. “He was in Ravenclaw with me. He was one of the fifth year prefects our first year, so he pretty much took care of us. He’s a great guy – a real sweetheart. Why do you ask?”
“Because I just met him at the bar.”
“He’s here?” Laura asked eagerly. “I’d love to say hi!”
“Well, hopefully, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do that in the future,” Olivia grinned. “I have a date with him for Friday night!”
I cried, when I saw the "It all ends!" banner!!
But now I know, it never will....
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