“Lily! I can’t just…use your husband, like he’s some kind of prize stud horse!”
“Why not?” Lily Potter replied calmly, with a shrug. “Muggles do it all the time.”
“Because!” Narcissa sputtered, scandalized, though she kept her tone lone and her movements steady as she took a calming sip of tea.
Witches of the blood always conduct themselves with decorum and grace. Her mother’s haughty, crisp voice lectured in the back of her mind. No matter the circumstance or news.
Ophelia Black obviously had never had an acquaintance like Lilian Evans-Potter to deal with, Narcissa thought resignedly, although with a glimmer of reluctant amusement. Sometimes she believed that the vibrant Muggleborn witch said outrageous things just to try to get a reaction out of her, although in this case she could see that the redhead was deadly serious.
Even after over a year of working together, the blonde still wasn’t quite sure what to call her fellow mediwitch. Co-worker was the most obvious choice, but she had become more than that. Former class mate and fellow graduate of the class of ’79 from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, though they might as well have gone to rival schools for all that they actually associated with each other; at most they could possibly claim a mutual, vague, ‘friend of a friend’ relationship, but even then that wouldn’t have applied at school. Lily had been in the same year as Narcissa at Hogwarts, and a brave and bold Gryffindor to boot. Narcissa Black, on the other hand, had been her absolute opposite – pureblood Slytherin princess, almost literally; as the youngest daughter of one of the oldest wizarding families in the magical world, the Blacks could claim lineage leading back to the royal blood of Britain. Lily, by contrast, was a Muggleborn witch, which meant that her parents – and possibly her grandparents on one side – had no magical ability whatsoever.
It was below the dignity of a Black daughter to associate with someone of such common, peasant, low born lineage, but Lily had ended up dating and eventually marrying James Potter, who, although he was very much a brash Gryffindor as well, also came from a pureblood family on par with the Blacks, as well as actually being a blood relation directly. James and Narcissa’s cousin, Sirius, had been best friends from their first meeting and thus inseparable, so James was there for the various family gatherings, parties, and celebrations. All young pureblood witches and wizards were required to attend the same lessons of etiquette and social decorum, dancing, airs and graces, and the other useful things lords and ladies needed to know to effectively run a household and make a successful marriage.
Step one: produce an heir, Narcissa thought sourly. Even though James had mucked it up by choosing to take a Muggleborn to wife, their child would still be a half blood of decent magical ability, strength, and heritage. Of course, that was due to James’s lineage, not Lily’s, but even she could see what had attracted James to the other witch-even if she was prone to saying absolutely wicked things without a shred of decent modesty.
Which brought her full circle and back to the redhead in question now patiently sipping her tea, emerald green eyes sparkling with amusement as she waited for Narcissa to process her thoughts. She deliberately took a sip of her coffee, closing her eyes in bliss as Narcissa’s lip curled slightly. “Don’t say it.” the redhead warned without opening her eyes. “I can be British and still enjoy coffee more than tea. Coffee is what got us through our magic medical boards last year. Do not insult the coffee. And don’t be bitchy because you might actually be considering my suggestion.”
“Cheeky bint.” Narcissa muttered, but there was no venom in her tone. “Why do I associate with you again?”
Lily opened her eyes just enough to give a lazy, smug cat smile. “Because we are complete opposites, so we somehow balance each other out, and everyone else in our cohort are all idiots and wankers anyway?” she replied sweetly.
The other woman rolled her dark brown eyes, but let a tiny smile curve her lips. “True.”
Although, there were still moments where she seriously questioned her sanity and how she had come to this crossroads in her life. As a pureblood witch, Narcissa had grown up with wealth, prosperity, and the absolute ideology that her blood status put her in a higher class – socially, magically, and politically – than those born with Muggle, or non-magical parentage. Lily, on the other hand was the only witch in a house full of Muggles, which put her socially somewhere just above the common rabble. She had enough magic in her blood from somewhere, though, to be accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the most premier magical school in all of wizarding Britain.
Somehow they had survived Hogwarts relatively unscathed, and would have gone their separate ways, but for a mutual interest in the medical field. Narcissa originally was due to marry Lucius directly out of school, but she had prettily appealed to her father to be allowed to train as a mediwitch before committing to starting a family. She had cited wanting to know what to do herself for the inevitable problems that happened along with pregnancy and through raising children, to which her father had immediately blustered and hastily agreed, mainly in order to forestall a possible description of some of those problems.
Lily had also married James almost immediately after graduating Hogwarts, but there had been no pregnancy rumors before during or after, and Lily herself had stated vehemently multiple times how she wanted to wait a year or two before starting a family.
James was now an Auror in charge of his own unit, for all that he had been an arrogant little prat for as long as Narcissa had known him; nearly all her life. James was a pureblood, with a lineage and heritage nearly as old and powerful as her own. For that reason alone, he had been briefly considered by Narcissa’s parents as a potential match for her, before Lucius had made his own offer.
It was just as well; James had ran in the same social circles as she had as a child; inevitably becoming best friends with her favorite cousin, Sirius, so it was only natural that she would consider James to be an annoying cousin as well. Which they might well be anyway, distantly, with Sirius as a common factor perhaps. And it was for that reason – one of many, though she couldn’t think of them – that she couldn’t possibly consider Lily audacious suggestion. No matter how desperate she might be.
She said as much out loud to her companion. “Lily. James is your husband. Sirius’ best friend. Possibly my fifth cousin, second removed or some nonsense like that.” She began.
“Yes, and he is very definitely pureblood, which is your husband is also, and fertile, which your husband is most definitely not.” Lily finished, placing a gentle hand on Narcissa’s arm. “You ran the tests and did the diagnostics, ‘Cissa. You know I’m right. Lucius is a Death Eater. He may keep his Mark covered with a glamour, but he has willingly bent the knee to the Dark Lord, and accepted his touch. Therefore, he has been rendered sterile. ”
“We don’t know if there is a correlation between the two!”
“Dammit, Narcissa, listen to yourself! How much more evidence do you need? You are running out of time! Your marriage contract, which you and Lucius both signed, states that you agree to producing a magical pureblood child by the end of your third year of marriage! We graduated in 1976. Two years of medical school, and an year of interning. It is now May of 1979. You have less than a year to successfully get pregnant and carry to term.” Lily said levelly. “How many times have you come to work and stayed late, doing research on sex magic and fertility rituals and potions? Yet nothing has worked!”
“He is not sterile because of the Mark! The Dark Lord wouldn’t punish his faithful like that!”
They glared at each other, each breathing hard as the air rang with Narcissa’s outburst. Hard, dark brown eyes met narrowed evergreen before they both pressed their lips tightly together and glanced away, avoiding the other woman’s gaze. Though they had spent many hours in philosophical and ideological discussions, this was the first time they had truly directly and verbally insinuated their allegiance to one side or the other. Pride and training forestalled the apology that wanted to race past Narcissa’s lips, so she remained quiet, letting her companion make the next move.
“Beliefs – all else aside.” Lily said quietly after a moment, her eyes still closed. “The Dark Mark is a symbol of death and dark magic. Creating a child is one of the most powerful and magical acts and ancient symbol associated with love and life and light. It is not magically possible to willingly accept and go through a rite of darkness and death, and then try to create the complete opposite. The balance of magic itself won’t allow it. I’m so sorry, Narcissa.”
The blonde sat perfectly still for a long moment, her eyes closed, though her body vibrated with tension. A single crystal tear fell from her eyes, down her pale cheek to drip off of one too sharp high cheekbone. Dashing it briskly away, she breathed deeply, pushing the emotions down, down.
Ladies don’t cry, Narcissa.
“Very well. What reasonable solutions do you suggest, then? And please don’t bring up that dreadful Muggle method, or James again–!”
“No. That will be our next conversation. I know that you want desperately to believe me, and for the sake of your happiness and future, I hope that I am somehow wrong.” Lily replied briskly. “So, I propose a test. I want you to go home and try to seduce your husband. Pull out all the stops – the skimpy nightgown, candles, coming on to him, whatever it takes.” She held up a hand at the blonde witch’s scandalized look. “And if, after all of that, he merely brushes you away with some excuse of paperwork or being too tired, or knowing his type, insinuates that you are the one who is too needy and clingy, and blames you for his sexual disinterest, then we will return to this restaurant, and speak candidly once more about other, yes, Muggle, solutions to your problem.”
Narcissa simultaneously cursed and admired her friend’s tactics, wording her challenge so that the Slytherin had no choice but to accept; pride prevented her from doing anything else. Despite her unfortunate parentage and those she chose to associate with in school, the redhead really could have done extremely well in Slytherin. “Lucius loves me.” She said fiercely. “He is everything that a pureblood wizard should be, virile and strong. I will accept your challenge, and then you will cease with this madness at once!
“Then we will still meet for lunch here as usual, but I will never speak of any of this again.” Lily shrugged, taking a delicate sip of her coffee and grimacing. “Ugh. Should’ve just gone for an iced mocha.”
“Snob. So, do we have an agreement?” She raised her brows, waiting.
“I really don’t know why I associate with you.” Narcissa sighed after a moment, yielding with a silent nod. “Crazy witch.”
Lily tapped her cup with her wand, hidden in her sleeve, before saluting her with it. “Because I’m the most Slytherin Gryffindor you will ever meet, and you can’t help but respect me for it. Admit it. You like me.” She smirked. “Now, are you all caught up on reviewing for our practical next week? I still can’t for the life of me remember what ingredients go into a bone bruise poultice…”
The next evening, Narcissa approached Lucius’s study with a bit of trepidation. Taking a deep breath, she knocked sharply on the door, waiting for his call before entering the room.
“Good evening, my lord,” she said demurely, stopping just inside the door and waiting for him to look up and acknowledge her.
Resentment and anger rose like bile in her throat as he deliberately waited a few moments before lazily lifting his gaze from the document in front of him, but she forced it back down to offer a pretty, coy smile.
“Narcissa.” He said, and though his flat grey eyes travelled over her body, showcased to perfection in the sheer dressing robe and lacy nightgown in a mint green that accentuated her curves and her coloring, there was no flicker of interest – or anything – in his expression. “I thought you had already retired. Did you need something?” There were no inflections in his cultured, cold, drawling tone as he returned his gaze to his paper, dismissing her as of no importance before she even had a chance to answer.
“The Mark kills everything related to life and love.” Lily’s voice sounded in her head. “He will show no sign of sexual or personal interest in you, will not seek to touch or take. The only emotions left to him are of anger, resentment, pride, and arrogance.”
“He is still the man I married, the one who courted me so persistently!” Narcissa had protested. “You are wrong about him, Lily.”
“Again, I hope that is true, for the sake of your heart, happiness, and future.” The redhead replied quietly as they had gathered their things to leave. “But we are both Slytherin and female enough to know better than to trust solely our heart’s hopes and wishes, when our heads and magic know the truth. Enough time has passed that, were there other reasons, they would have revealed themselves already…”
The courtship and marriage of the golden couple was the talk of wizarding society. Rumors abounded of Narcissa being pregnant out of wedlock, although there was never talk of them marrying for love. Nine months passed, then another nine, and the whispers began, along with the sidelong looks and patronizing tones. It never occurred to anyone to blame Lucius, but Narcissa went through months of ‘helpful’ suggestions and remedies, all couched in false sympathies and a covetous eye on her husband.
Now, as Narcissa stood looking at Lucius, really seeing him for the first time, she felt nothing. No guilt or remorse, or longing of what might have been between her and this cold, stoic, merciless creature before her.
“I…was coming to see if you needed anything before I retired.” She said finally into the silence.
“Don’t be silly, Narcissa, you’re not a house elf.”
“No. Of course not. How…silly of me, indeed.” She murmured. “Good night, then, my lord.” Not waiting for his reply, if he even bothered to make one, she strode out of the room, head high. As soon as she had returned to her own quarters, she summoned a quill and parchment.
You were right.
P.S. You’re buying drinks tomorrow.
AN: Thank you to mamapotterhead2492 (AO3) for the use of ‘hufflepuff’s hoo-ha’. It still makes me giggle!
“That complete and utter fucking bastard!”
Lily stifled her laughter, refilling her friend’s shot glass with more Firewhiskey. Having predicted that something like this was going to happen, she had warned James that Narcissa would be coming over for a girls night in. James, smart man that he was, had opted to stay with Sirius at his flat and watch football, as they both conveniently had the night off for once.
“He’s a…a Hufflepuff’s hoo-ha!”
That was the last straw though. Lily completely lost it, howling with laughter, barely remembering to put the bottle down as she laughed until she cried.
Narcissa ignored her and threw the drink to the back of her throat, relishing the burn and the corresponding smoke along with the heady rush of alcohol, before falling back onto the couch. Her eyes fluttered, then focused on Lily, as she waggled her finger at the other witch.
“Thank you.” She said. “I didn’t want to believe, but now I know. And all that…shite my family spouted about how I was the last hope to continue the family bloodline, and how it all fell to me, and Lucius was the perfect match, was utter and complete dragon shite. And now look who has the last laugh! Ha!”
“As much as I’m enjoying this,” Lily giggled. “I think it’s time to put the alcohol away for a bit. It was just to take the edge off.” She shook her head fondly, her voice sad. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you like this, Selina.”
“’s cuz I can’t. Have to be the perfect society princess, the ice queen. Prissy Cissy. If you touch her, you might get frost bit.” Narcissa sing songed. “Hands off in Slytherin House. They knew better. But Potter, he never could resist a challenge, could he?”
Lily froze. “What?”
The blonde rolled her head to look over at her. Her gaze was glossy, far away. “Purebloods always have summer gatherings, parties. Everyone who’s anyone is invited. And you know what happens when a bunch of teenagers get together…’s Sirius’s fault though.”
“Of course it is.” Lily muttered with a sigh. “What happened?”
“Seven minutes in heaven. He dared Potter n’ me.” Narcissa leaned close to the other woman, as if imparting a great secret. “Potter’s a really good kisser.”
“That he is. Don’t tell him though, he’s already got a big enough head.” Lily replied dryly, the absurd humor of the situation beginning to break through. She had been so focused on the future – her future, and Narcissa’s – that she hadn’t given any thought to the idea that Narcissa and James already had a past and connection. Could she really still go through with this crazy plan to have James sire Narcissa’s child?
She studied the blonde woman, now dozing lightly next to her, pale gold hair loose and falling all around her head like a waterfall. She was all sorts of shades of silver and gold, down to her creamy skin and the pale green silk sleep pants and shirt she had deigned to change into. It was why Lily called her Selina, even before she had learned that it was actually Narcissa’s middle name, for the Goddess of the Moon; from a distance remote, cold, but up close she radiated and reflected warmth and life. It had taken a few months for Lily to break through the icy façade, but she had been persistent, intrigued by seeing the ice queen at medical school, of all places. Like at Hogwarts, they had competed fiercely for top rankings, eventually bonding over mutual animosity towards the other arrogant male twits in their class who thought that having a cock automatically made them superior over women. Surprisingly similar in personality and outlook, they had gotten on well, and Lily now considered her to be like another sister.
Which meant that, personal history with James or not, she was still going to do her best to protect Narcissa and ensure her future. Even though it meant getting pregnant through Muggle means by a man who was not her husband. Lily could be jealous over a teenage moment, or she could protect her family and take another subtle step in silently defying Voldemort’s rhetoric.
That conversation would have to wait until morning, it seemed though. Lily got up, easing her friend down to lie on the couch properly, and found a blanket to cover her. Brushing some hair off of her cheek, she lightly touched her lips to Narcissa’s forehead, before extinguishing the lights with a soft Nox.
The Slytherin witch woke the next morning to obnoxiously cheerful, male, loud, humming.
“James Alexander Potter! Stop with the bloody fucking noise, you absolute fucking flobberworm!” She snapped, one hand immediately going to her head. ”Fuck!”
“Such language.” James’s amused baritone voice sounded from behind her. “Whatever would your mother say?”
“You and Sirius are the ones who taught me those words!”
Although she was older than both boys by a few months, they had been close enough in age to often be lumped together at the family and social gatherings when they were younger, usually under the watchful eye of a house-elf. Narcissa suspected that the real reason that she was put in charge of the boys was that she at least had some method of control over them; future Gryffindors or not, they had no defense against crocodile tears or feminine charm, when she chose to turn it on.
They had been stuck in the children’s room at Grimmauld place one summer night while their parents conducted business or whatever the adults did all the time. James had bought a book entitled, ‘101 Creative Curses to Stun Your Friends (and Enemies)’, thinking it might actually contain some spells, but to eight year old Narcissa’s dismay, it had contained a list of swear words and phrases. James, of course, had dared her to read one of the phrases out loud, never believing that she would do it, and that had been the end of that. That had led to a contest of coming up with or combining the most creative and outrageous phrases, which she had ironically won with last night’s ‘Hufflepuff’s hoo-ha!’. She still had silly paper crown that they had made up for her, somewhere in her memory books.
“Yes, and the student has very nearly surpassed the teacher. Sirius would be so pleased.” He adroitly dodged as she swung her arm to swat at him. “Be nice, Selina, or else I won’t give you a Sober up potion.”
She opened her eyes enough to blearily glare at him. “Give it to me, or I’ll tell Lily about the time you were skinny dipping in my uncle’s pond, and you and Sirius had to run for it after – “
“Fine! Here.” He grumbled, handing her the cup. “You swore an oath not to tell anyone about that.”
“Slytherin.” She said sweetly, downing the liquid. “And we were nine. What did we know about oaths? Hey, this isn’t half bad. You didn’t brew it, did you?”
“Don’t be silly.” Lily snorted, joining the conversation and plopping down on the edge of the couch. “How are you feeling?”
Narcissa took stock, considering. “Fine. Better.” Lighter, she realized. Last night had been like the lancing of a wound, opening it to the light and air. Now maybe she could start healing, and looking towards the future.
James sat in the armchair across from them, his blue eyes serious. “Are things resolved, then?”
Lily looked at her silently. Narcissa nodded. “Yes.”
“Very well. Lil, you have been doing all of the research on this mad idea of yours. What exactly does it entail?”
“Muggles have advanced their technology to the point where they can help any woman increase their chances of getting pregnant – without actually having sex.” Lily sighed. “The details of it all are a bit too technical to explain without going into extensive detail, but essentially they have a way to take a male’s sperm and a female’s egg and combine the two outside of the body, and then once the process is started, so to speak, put the woman’s egg back.”
Narcissa mutely shook her head, her mind whirling. How could a person get pregnant, without having sex? What magic was this, that the Muggles of all people had discovered?
“It does not ensure pregnancy.”
“What?! Lily, if it doesn’t ensure that I will get pregnant, then what’s the point – “
“Muggles have not reached that point in their technology and experimentations,” Lily interrupted crisply. “However, we as mediwitches, and you specifically, since you know your body and magic better than anyone, I would presume, can use magic to increase the odds so that you are virtually guaranteed to get with child. It is how things are done normally. Our problem always lay in the fact that any sperm Lucius produces would be sterile, and thus useless. He’s shooting blanks.” She shot the other woman a hard look, forestalling that argument before it started. “Even were you able to convince him to donate, it’d be pointless.” She took a deep breath, let it out slowly. “The first step is to meet with the Muggle doctor…”
“Why?” The single word question rang sharply through the air of the small Muggle private waiting room.
Lily looked up distractedly from where she had been studying the various medical instruments and gadgets. “Hm?”
“Why are you doing this? Why me?” Narcissa burst out. She should’ve asked the questions months ago, she realized, but she had been so distracted and unwillingly fascinated by her conversations and experiences with the Muggleborn witch that she hadn’t ever really stopped to consider the underlying motivations behind their odd friendship in the first place.
Lily’s green eyes sharpened with interest and mischief as she took a seat in the other chair. “Ah, yes. This is a bit of an awkward place and time for this conversation, but I suppose it is best to have all the cards out on the table, as it were.” She said, leaning back and crossing her legs primly.
As always, she was the picture of elegant sophistication. Today she wore a silk, ice blue blouse with slate grey trousers and a matching suit jacket. Her dark red hair was pulled back into a fashionable twist, and sapphire jewelry sparkled from her ears and throat, setting off the diamond wedding ring on her hand. Her make-up was subtle, and only served to further enhance her natural beauty. If Narcissa hadn’t known better, she would have assumed just by physical appearance that Lily was a pureblood witch, and her social and monetary equal, which didn’t make any sense, since she knew how adamant the redhead was about keeping her money and James’s gold separate. So how was she doing it?
Lily smirked when Narcissa’s gaze finally finished her perusal, unperturbed by the frank assessment.
“A bit of backstory first.” She began. “I am the youngest daughter of a former prominent Muggle politician and military adviser; my father, who was quite high up, as far as political hierarchy goes. His military background was in strategy and tactics, so believe me when I say that I understand better than most how dangerous and powerful the pureblood rhetoric truly is. Even at age eleven, I could see the parallels and ramifications to the Muggle world and their own history.” She smiled grimly. “The Dark Lord is not original in his belief that power and bloodlines somehow make you superior to others. Unlike Dumbledore and others, mostly wizards who, in the traditional way of males, are convinced that this as yet undeclared war will be won through sheer magical muscle, no matter the casualties and cost, James and I chose a more subtle method of defiance.” She raised her brows, her gaze knowing. “After all, what more perfect way to quietly defy Voldemort’s vitriol than by having the half sibling of the pureblood Black family heir be the son or daughter of a Mudblood, and also be the Potter heir? And the wizarding world will know that they are siblings, equals, and family. I have not asked anything of you, Narcissa, for the use of my husband’s seed, but this is the one stipulation that I will not yield on.”
The pureblood witch was too busy trying to catch her breath, awed -and quite frankly, a bit terrified – at the simplistic brilliance of Lily’s admission and plan. Of the Sacred Twenty Eight Families, the Potter and Black families were near the top of the social hierarchy, considered to be near magical royalty with family tapestries that proved relations directly to the wizard Merlin Emrys and the Lady Morgana le Fey! And now, those already mighty Ancient and Noble houses would be forever allied and united by shared blood of their father. That would have been a coup for the purebloods, except for two things: first, James Potter came from a decidedly light and progressive family, one who had profited from business dealings in both the Muggle and magical worlds and therefore had a personal stake in fighting against Voldemort and his Death Eaters. If their children were to indeed grow up as siblings, Narcissa had no doubt that James would have an active hand in making sure that his children were well versed and comfortable in both worlds.
Second, and this was where Lily’s sadistically brilliant and simple plan really came into play long term – as she had pointed out, the children would be social equals, despite their mothers being of pure and of ‘mud’ blood. And if – though a better was when, given the magical strengths of their families – the children started to show equally strong magic power, people would begin to talk…and question. The truth of it wouldn’t matter. Nor would the fact that with James as the common element, the argument for basis of power coming from a pureblood was actually strengthened, not weakened. People only saw what they wanted to see, and the British wizarding world was more willfully blind than most. Dumbledore, wily old vulture that he was, would take full advantage and manipulate public opinion in his favor even more.
And all Lily’s child would have do was be himself.
All of these thoughts flashed through Narcissa’s mind like quicksilver, leaving her dizzy and breathless.
“How were you not Sorted into Slytherin the moment the Sorting Hat touched your head?”
Lily threw her head back and laughed. “You mean, besides the fact that I would be shunned – or worse – for the insult to the House of Snakes?” She said drily. “Probably because I asked for Gryffindor specifically.” Her smile faded. “Look, we’re nearly at the point of no return here, but you can still change your mind, you know. We’ll find another way, someone else to sire your child, if you don’t want to agree to my terms.”
Narcissa’s face hardened, and she let the silence stretch to almost a breaking point, before she smiled broadly. “I don’t want to change my mind. Let’s do this.”
“Yes, really. I also agree to your terms, Lady Potter. Should this child be born healthy and whole, he or she and your child will grow up as family…no matter what the consequences.”
“Great!” Lily squealed, throwing her arms around the other woman in a hug. “Oh, I’m so pleased! And just in time, because here comes the doctor.”
Right on cue, there was a polite knock on the door before it opened without prompting.
“Mrs. Black? My name is Dr. Marigold Evans.”
Narcissa did a double take, looking from her to the redhead, who was muffling her laughter, and back again. “Pardon?”
“Lily! Did you not think to mention that she was going to be seeing your sister?” Dr. Evans scolded. “That might have been a bit awkward – !”
“Relax, Mari. It was just a little joke.” Lily soothed. “And Narcissa is a friend from school, so I thought you were the best person for the job. Since you understand both sides of things, as it were.” She raised her brows, shooting her sister a look.
Mari glared back, before turning to Narcissa. “She’s an evil witch for springing this on the both of us, but she does have a point. I am well aware of your particular…talents and inherited traits.” She said delicately. “You are not my first magical patient, even for this particular procedure, so I also have a better idea than most as to how your body may react to our medicines and drugs. However, if you are not 100% comfortable with me as your surgeon, then we will find another solution.”
The blonde studied her for a long moment. “I can see the similarities now.” She mused. There weren’t many physical ones; Mari was tall and slim, with dark hair and deep chocolate brown eyes, while Lily was very much a redhead; petite and pale, with intensely green eyes.
Lily laughed. “Mari is my older sister, by about ten years. Our parents got divorced when we were little, and she went to live with Mum while I stayed with Dad. Then he had to go and get shackled to the harpy and her twit of a daughter, Petunia.” Her voice turned sulky. “I still can’t believe that he found a step-daughter named after a flower…”
“Convenient that you discovered you were a witch, and had to leave for school right around the time he got remarried, isn’t it?” Mari teased, making her sister scowl. “Back to the point, though, Mrs. Black; are you willing to continue on with me as your surgeon?”
Narcissa took the moment to consider, heart, mind, and magic. “Yes. I am willing to continue.”
It was as if a giant invisible weight had been lifted from her shoulders and heart. She knew exactly what she had agreed to with her choice, and which side she had chosen. In every conflict, there is always a third side…I do not follow Voldemort, but nor do I follow Dumbledore’s Order. I will instead follow my own path and heart, and put my future in the hands of the most courageous witch I have ever met…
“Now.” The doctor began briskly. “This is mainly a preliminary appointment, so you know what to expect for the procedure itself…”
Lily settled back to listen, inwardly satisfied. Everything was starting to fall into place, just as she had hoped. She hadn’t been truly worried about Narcissa changing her mind or questioning her motives; only wondered why it had taken so long for the Slytherin witch to ask.
James, on the other hand, had nearly sent the whole plan crumbling down – “You want me to go to some strange doctor’s office and do what?!? Are you fucking out of your mind?!?” – but she had managed to talk him down (and seduce him into compliance and distraction, all in the name of “proper motivation”, as she had laughingly teased). Appeased, he had successfully “made his deposit” at the sperm bank without issue, and standard testing had revealed a high sperm count and no major Muggle genetic illnesses or diseases to pass on, so his part was now complete. Two weeks later, Narcissa had returned after hours, and Mari had done the surgery.
The procedure itself had gone smoothly as expected, and all relevant personnel and staff had been subsequently Obliviated, so there was no evidence. Lily’s father had taken care of any records and paperwork, through Muggle methods and connections (one of the perks of being a former politician; while many knowing looks were exchanged, very little questions were asked when things like this were ‘requested’). Now they were in the most tedious part of the process – the waiting game…
Two months later
“I can’t believe that the all-knowing Lily Potter didn’t plan for this!” Narcissa teased, as her friend paced. “Congratulations, mama!”
The redhead shot her a disgruntled glare. “Ugh – I wanted to wait until next year to get pregnant!” She grumbled. “James is on track to make Captain at work, which would mean more delegating and less field work directly, but he’s not expecting that promotion for a while yet.”
“Poor, poor Gryffinclaw.” The blonde still wasn’t done teasing, her chocolate brown eyes sparkling merrily. “You can’t control everything, minx.”
“It would make things so much more convenient if I could.” Lily sighed, before laughing. “Oh, who am I kidding. Of course I’m thrilled about this! And terrified, to be honest, and all sorts of other things, and I really want some pumpkin pie and treacle tart right now, and bloody fucking hell why can’t I stop yammering on?”
Narcissa got up, impulsively pulling the younger woman into a hug. Lily stiffened for a moment, before relaxing into the embrace, her body vibrating with tension. “Oh, minx. It’s going to be okay. You’re going to be just fine. I promise.” She murmured. “Celebrate this moment, my friend, and let me enjoy it with you and cherish it for what it is. Then…we need to talk.”
She felt the smaller woman squeeze tighter for a moment in silent protest, before reluctantly letting go and taking a deep breath. “Talk first, and then celebrate.”
“Very well.” Narcissa gently pulled her over to the couch. “Lilian…”
“This is our last meeting.” The redhead finished, with a wan smile. “No need to sugarcoat or soften the blow; we both have known this was coming since the beginning. And now here we are – you, two months pregnant with your son, and me, a month behind and didn’t even know it until recently. I know we can’t associate with each other, even in secret, Selina; I’m not blind. You must maintain appearances, now more than ever, and Lady Malfoy certainly would not have a mere common born witch tending to her and her heir with her unclean hands.”
“I’m sorry. I wish things could be different.” Narcissa said softly, her gaze dark with remorse and sadness. “However, I have been indulged long enough, according to my husband, in this healing and learning nonsense and foolishness.” She deliberately strove for a lighter tone as she added, “How convenient that he took a renewed interest in attempting to fulfil his marital duties right about the time I got pregnant. Muggles are certainly much more clever than I ever gave them credit for, although they do have some strange names for their medicines. Viagra.” She wrinkled her nose delicately. “One night and one tiny blue pill was more than enough; he now believes that he is the father of my child, the arrogant fool.”
“And so the balance of power within your household has shifted.” Lily smirked, glad for the lighter subject. “Lucius will never see you coming.”
“No, which is exactly how I like it.” Narcissa returned the smirk, thinking of all the plans she had laid in place. The last of her loyalty towards Voldemort’s cause had evaporated upon hearing the muffled sound of her son’s heartbeat at the Muggle doctor’s office, and seeing the grainy image of the life growing inside her on the monitor had only reinforced her newfound disdain and hatred towards the man her husband so revered. Muggle science and succeeded where magic and pure blood had failed, and she could not hate the world that had helped to give her her son – or the witch in front of her that had come from that world.
She would not actively and publicly betray her husband – she was too Slytherin for that bold, emotion laden, Gryffindor type reaction – but she had no qualms about passing along information about known Death Eater personas, raids, and other malicious events to James and Sirius, both Aurors, to use the information as they would.
“A toast, then, before I take my leave.” She announced, moving to pour two glasses of apple cider. She handed one to Lily and raised the other. “To our sons, our future, and the culmination of the best of both of our worlds. May they forever stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder, and traverse through life as bold as a lion, as cunning as a snake, as observant as a raven, and as fiercely as a badger.”
“So mote it be.” Lily said quietly. They drank in silence, prolonging the moment and delaying the inevitable.
“It is time.” Narcissa finally said gently, standing.
Lily followed her to the fireplace. “Be careful, Selina. You and your son come first. Promise me.”
“Silly witch.” Narcissa said affectionately, leaning over to brush her lips against the other witch’s cheek. “Snakes attack best from the shadows. You keep your head down. I want my son to know his godmother and aunt.”
The women exchanged one last heartfelt embrace, before the blonde moved back to the fireplace. Calling out her destination, she disappeared in a swirl of green fire.
All Hallow’s Eve, 1981.
“Goodbye and good luck…Harry Potter.” Albus Dumbledore said softly, stepping back from the baby basket. His companion, Minerva McGonagall, made sure the note was tucked securely under the blanket where the infant couldn’t reach, and stepped back as well with a faint sob. With a soft pop! they vanished into thin air, secure in the belief that the child’s relatives would find him in the morning and take him in…
Unless someone else found him first. The huge wolf waited until the humans were gone before slinking out of the shadows. Ears pricked and all senses on alert, it padded cautiously over to the bundle of blankets and nudged it with its nose. Annoyed at being roused, Harry grumbled a protest and snuggled deeper into his blankets, shivering slightly as a cool breeze washed over him.
The wolf’s ears pricked as the familiar scent washed over his acute senses. This was the pack’s pup! He growled softly, not at all liking that it was out of the safety of the den.
It took a couple of minutes, but he finally managed to carefully wrap his jaw around the basket’s handle and lift it, although it wobbled terribly. Harry slept on. The wolf took a few steps, getting a feel for how the basket would move, senses on alert for any unknown dangers. Satisfied that there were no other potential threats to stop him, he melted back into the shadows with his precious bundle.
Back at the pup’s den, he was met with fire and devastation. Frantic with worry, the wolf still had the presence of mind to set his charge safely out of the way before leaping in among the ruins. Blood, fear, and death hit his senses like a blow, staggering him back. Vigorously shaking his head to clear his nose of the clogging smells, he nearly tripped over the body of his pack mate. Whining under his breath, he warily moved around it and returned outside. If the male was dead, then so was his mate, for she would’ve fought with every breath in her body to protect her child.
Picking up his young remaining pack mate one more, he settled into a long, mile-eating lope, covering ground with ease. As long as there were no other complications he could make it to the safe den by dawn. The pup was quiet, very little fuss or movement coming from him even as he was prodded and scratched by passing limbs and bushes. Although somewhat concerned at the lack of response, there was nothing he could do about it right now. There wasn’t much time, and he had to reach their destination by dawn. Fuzzy with exhaustion, he only had enough energy to set his bundle down in a nest of blankets, curling protectively around it and nuzzling and licking in an effort to comfort both the pup and himself. The metallic taste of blood hit his senses, and for a moment he concentrated his efforts on his young companion’s forehead, until the baby settled. With one last whine at the loss of his pack-mates, he found sleep.
Remus Lupin woke to the realization of three things: one, he was shirtless, which wasn’t unusual after a full moon. Two, he was curled up around a bundle of blankets that was warm and squirming, and three….whew! Whatever was in said bundle desperately needed airing out.
His eyes shot open as a baby’s angry squall rent the air.
“Harry?” He gasped, and frantically unwrapped the infant, who was furious. “Alright, alright, shh…just a minute.” He soothed, rummaging around and managing to come up with a spare baby bag. His throat burned with unshed tears even as he went through the motions of diaper changing and warming a bottle. Lily had stocked both his and Sirius’ houses with extra diapers and baby supplies, ‘just in case’, as she said. “Stop laughing, Lils, you were right – as always.” He murmured, hearing her snicker in the back of his mind.
Glancing away from the now quiet child in an effort to gain control over his emotions, he noticed an envelope lying close by, partially covered by the blanket Harry had been tucked in.
Frowning, he picked it up. It was from Dumbledore, telling the Dursleys’–whom Remus now remembered were relatives of Lily’s (despite the fact that she and her sister mutually denied the other’s existence) who Harry was, how he had come to them, and requesting that they take care of him. He would check back with them when the boy turned eleven to start the boy’s magical education.
Remus growled angrily. How dare Dumbledore! He knew of the mutual resentment between the two sisters. Why would he knowingly send Lily’s child to live with people who hated everything that he was?
All thoughts of taking Harry back and explaining the situation to Dumbledore had vanished. His eyes narrowed in determination. “Well, Harry my lad, looks like it’s just you and me now.” He murmured, smiling down at the baby, who stared back at him with wide green eyes. Fragments of the night before were slowly filtering back into his rapidly clearing brain. “I guess this is one time I can actually be thankful for some of my baser instincts. Enough about that though. Let’s get this house cleaned and baby-proof, and then I should set about making some plans…”
Those plans had been extensive, and yet ridiculously simple. The first plan was to visit Albus Dumbledore, for Remus had easily recognized the familiar scrolling script of the letter to the Dursleys. Why would the Headmaster leave a toddler—any child—on the doorstep in the middle of the night in cold, windy November? There had not been a heating charm or any kind of temporary sleeping spell on Harry to ensure that he would stay warm and quiet until the Dursleys discovered him. And why leave Harry with Petunia in the first place? Yes, she was technically Lily’s sister, but that was by marriage, not blood, and it was a tenuous link that both women only acknowledged under extreme duress. Surely Andromeda Tonks, Remus himself, or even Narcissa Malfoy would have been a better choice, even temporarily. Andi and Narcissa were sisters, originally of the Black family, and thus were cousins to Sirius Black on one side, and James himself on the other, which made them technically family.
Those were only a few of the questions Remus had for the old wizard. He had left early, leaving Harry under a light static sleeping spell and monitoring charms, which were Lily’s equivalent of a Muggle baby monitor. The static spell ensured that he would remain peacefully in the healing sleep that his little body needed to recover from the trauma of being left out in the cold on a damp November night. The monitor charm was in the form of a watch, much like a Wizarding family clock, and revealed Harry’s physical states – sleeping peacefully, fussy, hungry, wet diaper, etc. Even with the precautions and his own formidable wards, Remus had been reluctant to leave, but it couldn’t be helped.
Dumbledore had been delighted to see him, twinkle in full force. The werewolf had gotten straight to the point, as any Marauder would– asking about Harry, if he was safe, if he could at least visit.
“I’m sorry my boy, so sorry.” The old wizard said somberly. “But after Sirius’ betrayal, and the subsequent attacks on Frank and Alice, I made the decision to hide the young Mister Potter in a place where most in the wizarding world would not bother – or care – to look. He is safe, and with family. The wards I have placed around his home, along with the blood protection that Lily herself enacted with her sacrifice, will deter any with ill intent towards him, as well as repeal any Dark Creatures of any sort.”
Remus gritted his teeth. Petunia Dursley was not Harry’s family! She abhorred everything about the wizarding world! Placing a potentially strong young wizard like Harry in her care was a cruel disaster waiting to happen. Remus had no doubt that she would have done her best to poison Harry against his parents and magic, in her lifelong campaign to be considered normal. He was also doing his best to ignore the subtle slur and hint against him personally—yes, he was a werewolf, and therefore automatically classified as a Dark Creature, but that didn’t mean that Dumbledore, as powerful as he was, couldn’t modify the wards to let Remus through if he had actually wanted to. The full moon was only a few days out of the month, after all, and he had more than proved his trustworthiness over and over again.
“But sir-“ he tried anyway, knowing he was fighting a losing battle.
Dumbledore’s eyes narrowed, losing a bit of their twinkle. “Enough, Remus. He is safe.” He peered shrewdly at the werewolf over the top of his half-moon glasses. “Voldemort is gone, yet times will remain turbulent for werewolves and other Ministry defined Dark creatures, regardless of which side they chose to fight on or not. Perhaps it would be prudent for you to do some travelling. See the world. Deal with your own grief and losses.” He said gently.
Remus felt the Confundus charm bounce off of his shields, and dropped his head, presumably yielding to the gentle hint, but really to hide his anger, knowing that the wolf would show in the flash of gold in his eyes. “Yes. Perhaps that would be best. I do have friends in Italy that I have not seen in a long time…” He murmured, and sighed heavily. “Thank you, Albus. If you don’t mind, I will take my leave and go make my preparations.”
“Go and be safe, Mister Lupin. You are the last of an era, one that sacrificed too much. Go, and find your peace.”
Remus inclined his head slightly, unable to respond, and quickly left.
It took half an hour after he had returned home and taken care of Harry to soothe the wolf, which was furious at Dumbledore and his subtle barbs and manipulations.
“Easy, Moony.” he murmured. Despite his inherent fear of the wolf, he had found that the beast eventually responded to his voice and logic. In the lonely nights spent spying on the Were packs, he had started having one sided conversations, mostly to alleviate the boredom and loneliness. It was strange, but there were moment where he had the sense that someone was trying to respond to him, connect on a mental level. He had shied away from the tentative, faint contact though, and strengthened his mental shields, afraid that someone had discovered his true goals. That person had never tried again though, so he had brushed it off as a figment of his over active imagination.
“I saw it, felt it, heard it too. He used to hide his disdain much better when we were in school. However, I – we – are not harmed by one man’s dislike. He is not Pack. He is of no consequence right now…”
The wolf subsided, grumbling. Remus gently picked up a still slumbering Harry, burying his nose in the toddler’s hair and breathing deeply, letting the familiar scents of contented baby mixed with Lily’s hint of lavender and James mixture of forest and wind take over his senses and calming both him and Moony further. Pack. Home. Safe.
He moved to the rocking chair in the corner and carefully sat down, closing his eyes with a heavy sigh. Lily had insisted on replicating her favorite objects – the rocking chair, Harry’s crib, and the changing table were only a start – at both Sirius’ and Remus’ houses, so when they came to visit or when one of the men had to baby sit, Harry wouldn’t be uncomfortable.
Frowning, he recalled the underlying emotions emanating from his former Headmaster – remorse, regret, frustration, anger, resentment, dislike… That had hurt far more than he wanted to admit. The Headmaster was one of the first adults that Remus had come to trust, since it was Dumbledore who had allowed Remus to attend Hogwarts in the first place; something that the older wizard had no problems holding over the younger man’s head as needed.
Shaking his head, he decided that he didn’t want to over analyze anymore. The important thing was that Dumbledore still believed that Harry was with the Dursleys, and now assumed that Remus would be out of the country for some time.
Harry whined and squirmed in his sleep, and Remus shushed him, smiling as the boy snuggled deeper into the crook of his neck, soft breaths ruffling the hair at his nape. The wolf was also content, and slumbering lightly. Remus had a sudden vision of a tawny gold male, curled protectively around a small pile of black fur that twitched and shivered in his sleep. The wolf pup whimpered and moved his head, revealing a jagged white lightning bolt shaped patch of fur on his forehead – exactly where Harry’s was. The adult wolf raised his head, opening gold-brown eyes to meet his gaze.
Remus’ eyes shot open, and he yelped as he jumped up, startling Harry in the process. Startled rudely awake, the baby responded with a squall, protesting such treatment. The next few minutes were spent appeasing him. A bottle, clean diaper, and an especially loud and content burp later, and a now wide awake Harry was in his walker, pocking and prodding the various bright balls, and gadgets, and warbling in delight as they changed in shape and color with each touch.
Remus’s stomach rumbled loudly, reminding him that he had not eaten since early that morning. A storm had rumbled in, inspiring his rainy day meal of hot soup and bread. Full and sleepy once again, he settled on his couch after renewing the monitoring charms on Harry. He thought about getting up to grab a book, but was too comfortable and relaxed to make the effort. Letting his mind drift, but resolutely not thinking about the wolf or that voice in his head, he had almost succumbed to sleep completely when it spoke again.
Remus. You can’t ignore me forever.
His eyes shot open again, as it snapped, Be STILL! You’ll scare Harry. I am not going to harm you. I merely want to talk. You are quite the strong and stubborn young man, you know, it continued huffily. It took this long to break the walls and chains you set around me so I could actually speak to you.
Remus didn’t dare to move. “Who are you?” he breathed, eying his wand on the coffee table nearby.
Relax. The voice sighed. You haven’t figured it out yet? I’m you. The wolf. Moony.
“What?” This time he managed a hissed whisper instead of yelping like a pup. “You can’t be! Werewolves can’t…talk to their wolf half!”
Moony huffed again, his voice now filled with amusement. The tawny wolf in the back of Remus’ mind panted as well, his tongue lolling in a canine grin.
Of course we can. Most wizards are too terrified to even begin to listen though.
“Oh.” Seven years of being confronted with the various ‘impossible’ situations that James and Sirius had inevitably dragged him into made his reaction a bit more pragmatic than most would have been. The ever present scholarly side was also taking over, as he calmed slightly and curiosity won over. “How can you talk? You’re – pardon – “
– Just an animal? Moony finished wryly. Yes…and no. We are bonded, two halves of a whole. You are a strong, powerful wizard, and I don’t just mean magically. I am the spirit of a Luna Alpha. We were compatible, which is why you survived the Change, even at four years old. Selina is a harsh mistress, but she protects her children as much as she can.
“I don’t understand.”
Moony sighed heavily, his voice somber. One day I will share the full story of our ancestors, but simply put, Lunar wolves are Children of the Moon. We were once shapeshifters, shamans, warriors and guardians. We were able to change at will, not unlike what you wizards refer to as Animagi.
But times changed. A new sect of man arrived, one that could not believe, and therefore did not see. We were massacred, hunted and slaughtered. So we retreated to our sanctuaries, and became part of mists and legends. Once, we joined with our animals spirits joyfully, for to do so meant a bond unlike any other. Wizards with enhanced senses, instincts, and understanding of Mother Earth. Animals, with compassion and human intelligence and the conscious capacity to love. Our shamans gathered under a full moon to pray and appeal to the Goddess Seline, that we might retain this ability once again. But no appeal granted is without sacrifice, and for that we were tied to the turnings of the moon, so that our powers and abilities wane and grow as the moon treks across the sky. In this way, we are forever reminded of our blessing, that we are Her children, the Children of the Moon.
But I digress.
Children, especially magical children, often show signs of their potential and affinity at a young age. Like attracts like. Whatever their animal guardian is usually seeks them out, so that they may bond and grow together. You, Remus Lupin, were an extremely strong magical child. I was already close when the Betrayer found you. I was not in time to spare you completely.
“What?” Remus whispered.
You showed an affinity for Beast Speaking before you could walk. Your parents indulged you, often taking you for walks in the woods near your home. Your mother was a Healer, your father a hunter and trapper. The Betrayer found you, and struck.
Moony closed his gold-brown eyes for a long moment. Traditionally, the Change occurs through a ritual of blood, magic, and intent. Both parties must willing accept the bond, and all that comes with it. I…forced it on you in order to save your life. I cannot say that I regret the intent behind my actions, only the method in which they were implemented. You were far too young, and the trauma too much, for you to begin to understand that the horrible monster from your nightmares was not the same as the one you were bonded with. I…am so very deeply sorry for what our bond has caused you, Remus.
The wizard lost his breath at the emotions assaulting him and instinctively reacted, reaching out to soothe and comfort.
“Moony. Moony. It’s okay. I…forgive you. You did what you had to, and I am grateful to you. Easy does it…We’re both fine. We survived. We’re here now…” He didn’t know how long he talked, or whether it was out loud or in his head, all of his attention focused on reducing that storm of emotions. When it was finally quiet in his head once more, he let out a slow breath, giving them both a few moments, before changing the subject.
“What happened on Halloween?” He said quietly. “ I woke up and Harry was here! How did you seize control, if I wasn’t listening to you yet?”
Moony growled low. “One of the reasons, Remus Lupin, why we are so compatible is because of your instincts, not mine. We remained at this house, near Godric’s Hollow, instead of your shack by Hogwarts because you suspected that something might happen to James and Lily. You didn’t tell anyone – not even Sirius – that you were back from spying on the feral packs. So when the moon went blood red, you knew, even with the Change. I was able to appeal to that worry and those instincts, and take control. I – we – arrived to the Potter’s house too late, but I smelled Sirius, Dumbledore, and Hagrid—with Harry. I followed.
“But the Dursleys live in Surrey!” Remus sputtered. “How did you—“
Harry is our Pack, by blood, magic, and intent. The Moon Goddess herself has recognized it. Pack members can gather where one is already, no matter the distance between them. It is a gift. Moony said quietly. That, and I can use your magic to Apparate. We are one, Remus – or nearly. Again, like having an Animagus form as a sentient being in your mind. Magic is done through intent and ability. A wand is merely a focus point, although it has become a crutch for too many.
“Bloody hell.” Remus breathed, closing his eyes as the full weight and implications of the entire night sunk in. It was too much to take in, so he decided to focus on the present. “So, what now?”
Now, we make plans. The viper is not dead, Remus. He is no longer on this plane, because I can sense his magic still, but he still has anchors that will lead him back. Moony said bluntly. However, we cannot hunt what we cannot see, so it is of no consequence right now. The first step, then, is to confirm that James and Lily are truly dead. They… the wolf trailed off. They were Pack, more so than Harry, and the links are still strong. Look.
Remus felt a light tugging in his mind, and followed it until he stood in a forest clearing. Golden, sparkling paths darted away from him in different directions. Some were bright and strong, others faded. Two were dark and went off into the mist to disappear.
The paths represent your Pack bonds. Moony said quietly. The two that are completely dark are those of your parents.
Remus swallowed hard.
The thin footpath is to Harry. It will broaden and strengthen as he grows and matures. I don’t know where the other footpath goes to. These four, however…he leaned down and sniffed at the paths before them. Two were faded, dull, nearly completely dark. The third was dark as well, misty, and had been reduced to a footpath, riddled with holes and rough spots, and nearly completely obscured by brambles and brush. The fourth was still bright, but the path itself was eroded, as if chunks were missing.
“Sirius.” Remus said.
Yes. Moony agreed. As the trust between you erodes, so does the bond.
Not wanting to face that at the moment, or what the related significance of the third dark path meant, he looked at the other two. “James and Lily?” he frowned. “But…they’re dead. Why would the bond still be alive?”
I don’t know.
“Unless….do you think that they could’ve survived, like Harry did?’ Remus breathed, eyes wide.
I don’t know, Remus. Moony repeated gently. We will find out tomorrow. That is more than enough for tonight. It is past time to sleep, for both of you.
Remus felt the wave of exhaustion hit his body with the words. He barely had the energy to go through the motions of checking on Harry and changing them both into sleep wear, before he collapsed on the couch again, near Harry now asleep in his play pen.
The next morning, Remus was up early. Harry was safe and content, back under the charms. The toddler was slowly becoming more resistant to the charm over all, which meant that these little excursions would have to end soon, but there were two more trips that were needed to complete before he could settle down with his young adopted nephew to raise him right. If all went well, then he wouldn’t have to face such a momentous task alone…
It was time to figure out what really had happened two nights ago.
*Relax.* Moony murmured. *Let down your walls. This won’t hurt, I swear to you. Focus on the sensations you feel during the Change–running through the forest, the earth underneath your pads, the wind in your face…*
It was like falling, boneless, to the ground, only to land on his hands and … paws? He glanced down in surprise to see two very large, furry paws with lethally sharp claws curving out of the ends.
Ignoring Moony’s amused huff of laughter, he padded into his bedroom, where he had a full length mirror on the back of his door.
A young adult wolf stared back at him. Tawny gold, to match his own burnished locks. Warm dark brown eyes laughed back at him, almost almond shaped and tilted slightly at the corners, rimmed by dark pigment and enhanced by molten gold flecks. He was rather on the lanky side still, Remus thought critically, and lean, although the potential to broaden out was there.
*Yes, yes. We are gorgeous and we’ll have all the she-wolves lining up, bitches and witches thought they may be.* Moony teased. *Shall we go?*
Remus snorted, mentally rolling his eyes at himself and his counterpart, and left.
They covered the twenty miles between his cottage and the Potter’s in no time, using that ground-eating lope that was inherent to wolves. Moony got them inside, leaping neatly over the detection and barrier spells, and allowed Remus to take over, but kept them in wolf-shape.
James was still there, and Remus assumed Lily would be too, under a preservation spell as part of the crime scene. He knew the Aurors had already been through, and would return to complete clean up when then received instructions as to burial details.
James had been an Auror; Lily, a mediwitch and Trauma Healer attached to his unit. As such, they had been required to write up a will and fill out the necessary forms in the event that they were killed in the line of duty. James also had additional paperwork, as was his responsibility as the Head of House Potter; but Gringott’s had control of all of that, so it wasn’t a concern for Remus. Yet.
While he had been lost in his thoughts, Moony had taken back control briefly, using their enhanced senses to scan the room in ways humans wouldn’t have thought of.
*Remus. Go to James’ body, near his head. There’s a scent there, that I almost recognize…*
The wizard complied, crouching gingerly and trying to push the overwhelmingly sense of grief back as he let the wolf take over to lean in close, inhaling deeply. James looked like he was merely sleeping, sprawled out in a position that would probably be extremely uncomfortable to anyone else.
*Do you smell that? It’s a potion of some sort, I know it is. Slughorn always started off with it in Advanced Potions. Draught of death or something…”
“Draught of Living Death.” Remus breathed, finally recognizing the repugnant smell of the dangerous potion from their days at Hogwarts. “The Sleeping Beauty potion. Suspends everything – heart rate, breathing, vitals – slows them all down so that people believe you’re dead. Lily told me that they use it for extreme cases in the hospital, like for dragon pox patients. Diseases can’t spread if the body isn’t functioning and doing the work. Gives the healers time to create an antidote to at least slow it down, enough to give families a chance to say goodbye.” he rattled off absently, lost in thought.
*But why would James have taken it in his duel against Voldemort?*
Remus frowned down at his friend, thinking. “The Killing Curse does the opposite of what the Draught does; speeds everything up, so essentially you die of an aneurysm. Blood vessels bursting in your brain.” He mused. “James, you crazy bastard…What if he took the Draught to counteract the effects of the curse?”
*That’s…absolutely mental.* Moony breathed.
“Desperation. A wild card play. Something no one knew about, not even Sirius–but maybe…Lily?”
*We’ll check in a minute.* Moony ordered. *Lean down close, check for his heartbeat. A normal witch or wizard wouldn’t be able to hear, would assume he was dead, but we can hear it…*
Remus lightly rested his head on his friend’s chest, holding his breath. Seconds ticked by, infinitely slow. But then…
“He’s still alive!” Remus breathed.
*Go check Lily!*
They raced upstairs, frantically scanning underneath and around her body for another vial…to no avail.
“Dammit!” Remus slumped against the wall, closing his eyes in renewed grief.
Moony was quiet, letting him grieve for the bright, vibrant, kind young witch who had been his first friend, even before James and Sirius.
*Dumbledore said something about her sacrifice, and Petunia’s blood protecting Harry.* The wolf said quietly after a few moments. *You don’t think he meant a blood ward, do you?*
“It’s possible.” Remus responded tiredly. “Knowing Lily, she sacrificed herself to save Harry’s life, which means any protections activated would be through her blood.” He cursed vividly. “It wouldn’t have worked if Harry had stayed with Petunia, though. She and Lily are sisters by marriage, not by blood. Lily’s mother remarried when Lily was young and her blood sister Marigold was out of the house; their father was a Muggle politician; he died of cancer, I believe. Mari was also a witch, but she was three years older than us, so we never ran in the same crowds. And she stayed with her mother’s maiden name after she remarried, so no one made the connection to Lily Evans. Only a couple of people knew anyway…I don’t think even James was one of them, actually.” He stood up, wincing at the stiffness. “We should probably tell Dumbledore…”
Startled, the wizard frowned. “Why not?” he demanded. “We may not trust him as much, but he’s still a great wizard–”
*–Who is playing a much bigger game in which we are all pawns.* Moony finished flatly. *We trusted Sirius, and he betrayed us–*
“Sirius!” Remus growled, instantly distracted. “I still don’t believe it, but then I never thought that he would accuse me of the same things, either.”
*Easy.* Moony warned. *One thing at a time. So. James is not dead. We don’t know what the potion does in reaction to the curse. Therefore, we need to let the wizarding world assume that they’re dead, and the funerals need to commence as planned.*
*Yes. The potion will preserve him, and pureblood tradition requires that they both be entombed in the Potter family crypt, not the graveyard. His body will be preserved and safe. The world must believe that they’re both dead. For now. Including Dumbledore.*
Remus growled again, low and rumbling.
*Yield, wolfling.* Moony said gently. *You know that I am right.* He waited, watching as the wizard’s emotions slowly subsided. *Let us return home, check on Harry, and make plans.* He continued quietly. *We will not allow our pack mate to remain unprotected, Remus. But now is not the time.*
They apparated back home, in no mood to take the long way. After taking care of Harry and himself, Remus sat at his table with some parchment, thinking.
“I should probably get in the habit of talking to you in my head.” He said wryly. “I’m considered to be mental enough as it is by the rest of society.”
Moony snickered, accepting the unspoken apology. *A problem for another day. You think better out loud, Professor.*
The wizard grunted at the teasing nickname, which had been bestowed upon him by James and Sirius within the first month of their friendship, but let it go. “So, since we have to wait, I might as well make plans for what we’re going to do once we have him.” He mused, pulling out some parchment and a quill. “ I can come back after the funerals and get his body with no one the wiser.”
“Sirius needs to know about James, yes. I owe him that much. But first, I need to know the truth.” He ‘looked’ at his companion. “Can we wolf-Apparate to Azkaban?”
*Yes. Sirius is still Pack, though the bond is weak. Stay in wolf form when we get there though; the Dementors won’t affect you as much, and we can force Sirius to shift to Padfoot if need be. We are dominant, and can talk in either form.*
“Good. Let’s not waste any time then.”
Remus wolf-apparated directly into Sirius’s cell at Azkaban. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the dank dimness of the barren space. He staggered as the violent sea winds shoved him a few more steps inside, towards the back wall.
What he had believed to be a leftover, forgotten or discarded pile of rags rustled and moved. A long legged, shaggy, coal black dog emerged from the darkness, stiff legged and growling, head lowered in warning as it glared at Remus.
“Change, Black.” Remus ordered, letting Moony rumbled through his voice and eyes, which were full gold. “We need to talk.”
The dog held his gaze balefully for a long moment, before slowly morphing, lengthening, changing to the man whom Remus had once called his best friend and brother.
Sirius had always been roguishly handsome, with his coal black hair and clear ice blue, almost silver, eyes, and his aristocratic features. Three days in Azkaban under the devastating effects of the Dementors had aged him twenty years, though fire and awareness still burned in his eyes.
“Why?” Remus demanded fiercely. “Why are they saying that you betrayed James and Lily, that you killed Peter? What happened, Sirius?”
“Peter. Murderer. Rat. Secret betrayer. Ickle little Wormtail, who would’ve ever thought the rat was truly a rat? A rat, with the heart of a worm and the colors of a Gryffin!” Sirius cackled. “Dead men tell no tales. Switch the secret, no one will ever know!”
“Sirius!” Remus cried desperately. “Focus! Tell me what happened!”
“S’all my fault. I killed them. Dead, all dead, cuz of mee! Should’ve known, shouldn’t of told…” Sirius cackled again before descending once more into mumbling and nonsense. After a moment, he melted down, until the large black dog was once more standing before them. He bared his teeth warningly before moving back into the shadows and lying down, his back pointedly to the world.
*Remus. The Dementors are too strong. I fear it’s too late. We may never know the truth.* Moony said sadly.
“Padfoot…” The wizard pleaded one last time, to no avail. Gritting his teeth, he let the wolf Apparate them away, back home.
Remus took solace in Harry, cuddling the boy and breathing in his scent, so comforting and soothing and familiar. They were in the rocking chair, the motion soothing to them both. The boy was dozing lightly, one chubby hand clutching a lock of Remus’s hair tightly, even in his sleep. The wizard angled his head, carefully working the strands out.
“Grip like a lion, this one.” He chuckled, though his throat was tight with tears. “James would be so proud.”
*He will have a chance to experience it for himself, in two days.* Moony replied lightly. *Is everything set? Do you have the antidote?*
The wizard nodded, careful not to rouse the sleeping child on his chest. “Yes. They were wary about accepting all of us, but are willing to at least give us sanctuary until we can figure out our next move. I never would have thought of that particular location.”
*Wolf Haven Sanctuary in Washington State has long been a haven for magicals of all types who just want to live in peace by the old ways, instead of being governed. That includes werewolves and a father and son pair who somehow have both done the impossible and survived the Killing Curse.* The wolf said drily. *The main difference is that they will not ask questions, and will not reveal our location.*
“I sure hope so.” Remus murmured sleepily. “Else we’re all fucked…”
Ten years later.
“Harry James Potter, stop bouncing so much!” Remus laughed, placing gentle hands on the ten year old’s shoulders.
“But I’m just so excited, Uncle Remus!” Harry replied, still bouncing on the balls of his feet, anxiously trying to peer around the people standing in front of them in line. “How does the airplane stay up in the sky? Does it flap its wings like a bird? How many people can fit inside? What–mmmph!”
A long arm slipped between Remus and the boy, wrapping around his head in a playful headlock that muffled the rest of his excited questions.
“Breathe, Mini Me,” James said fondly, ruffling Harry’s already messy black hair affectionately. “At least give us – or the nice lady – a chance to answer your first ten questions before spouting off twenty more, hmm?” He winked at the stewardess.
The ‘nice lady’, whose name tag read ‘Bridgit’, smiled back at him, her eyes bright with laughter. “You must be Harry.” She said cheerfully, right on cue. “If you gentlemen would follow me, we will get you settled into your seats. If you would like, young Harry, the Captain has invited you and your dad up to the cockpit, where he will be happy to personally answer your questions.”
“Can I, Dad?” Harry immediately wheedled, turning wide green eyes beseechingly on his father, as Remus snickered. Although the lad was a carbon copy of his father, the eyes and some of the mannerisms were pure Lily. And, just like with his wife, James had no defense against that pleading look from those green eyes.
Accepting his fate, James sighed dramatically. “Are you sure you aren’t Remus’s kid, with that puppy dog face?” He teased.
“Not a chance. Lily is somewhere watching and giggling like crazy.” Remus retorted. “As are your mother and grandmother, both of which I believe, blessed you with the popular, ‘may you have a child just like you’ when you told them Lily was pregnant.” He poked Harry in the side, making him squirm away with a giggle. “Have I taught you nothing? Save that face for your birthday and Christmas!”
James rolled his eyes. “Lead the way, Miss Bridgit, please. I guess we’re off to see the captain.”
“So, how does the airplane stay up in the air?” Remus greeted them, amused, as they returned. He was already settled comfortably into his seat in the middle – they were flying first class – and had taken the liberty of ordering both himself and James a drink, knowing it would be appreciated.
“Magic.” Harry answered with a straight face, before breaking into laughter at his uncle’s obligingly exasperated groan. “I don’t really know–the captain said something about lift and aerodynamics, but I didn’t really understand it, so my theory now is a modified levitation charm, like on flying carpets.”
“So then not by flapping its wings like a bird?” Remus teased, as James settled in beside him near the aisle.
Harry stuck his tongue out at the older man, turning pointedly to look out the window instead.
“Ah, the pre-teen years.” The werewolf murmured, still highly amused. “Like the calm before the storm. Is that the distant rumble of hormones I hear in the distance?”
James snorted, slumping down in his seat as much as the still upright position would let him. “Shut it Moony. You’re the favorite uncle, remember? So guess who he’s gonna come running to play mediator and sympathizer when dear old dad becomes the bad guy. You, that’s who.”
“Lucky me.” Remus drawled. “Are you sure I can’t stay in the States?”
He bit back his instinctive initial response, that it would be like Hogwarts all over again, with him usually as the logical voice of reason (and tie breaker) between the more hot headed James and Sirius. Even after ten years, the mere mention of Sirius’ inexplicable betrayal still brought a dark shadow to James’s eyes and mood. Sirius had been his family, more like a brother than the cousin he technically was. The Potters had brought Sirius into their home after he was kicked out and disowned from his own family for not adhering to the Black family values, beliefs, and traditions, especially those that aligned with Voldemort.
The only person Sirius had loved instantly more than James had been young Harry himself. He had often teased Lily about having to share the two men in her life. She had responded by giving him a certificate stating that he had shared custody and ownership of the Potter males, as well as a co-ownership contract that required a mandatory boys’ weekend once a month (so she could get things done), and at least one night every other week babysitting his godson (that night become the Potter date night, although most of the time they came home early, or spent the night in watching movies and reminiscing.) She also gave him a bill for 15,000 Gaellons in owed child support. She was just teasing about the money, but Sirius secretly started a vault in Harry’s name, and made a deposit faithfully, every month.
So then why had Sirius betrayed them to Voldemort? Remus still didn’t understand, and suspected that he never would.
His friend had raised his brows and shot him a thoroughly unamused look. The blonde relented, his tone holding a hint of apology for the tease. “Only teasing. You know I’m with you to the end, no matter what.” He stated quietly.
James held his gaze for a moment, and nodded. “I know.”
Shaking off the melancholy thoughts, both men turned to watch Harry, who had missed the byplay in his own enthusiastic running commentary of the slow progression of the airplay, as they finally departed the gate and joined the line for liftoff.
“Why did we decide to take a Muggle airplane instead of an international Portkey?” James muttered, gripping his arm rests as they climbed into the sky.
“Because none of the identifications we had would be applicable for getting through international customs. There’s also the little fact that to the wizarding world, James Potter has been dead for ten years, so seeing your name on a passport might raise some questions we don’t want answered yet.” Remus answered too patiently. “And there’s also the fact that the Supreme Mugwump of meddlers, Albus Dumbledore, believes that your son, the Boy Who Lived, has been staying with his Muggle relatives, tucked away, but still on the same continent this whole time, so we don’t want to rile the old man up any more than we already have either.”
The werewolf smiled sympathetically. “C’mon, Potter. You were the Captain and lead Chaser for the Gryffindor Quidditch team, yet you can’t handle flying in a plane, with nice padded seats and plenty of protective mental between you and the outside world?”
“I know how my broom works, and I’m in control of it and thus my life. This way, I’m entrusting Muggles to keep us safe.”
“They have plenty of magic of their own, in a way.” Remus shrugged. “Relax, James. Look at your son. He loves this! Besides, we’ll be in Britain before you know it.”
“From one land of mist and rain to another. Will you miss Haven?”
The other man glanced away. “It doesn’t rain in Washington nearly as much as people assume. Britain is far worse.” Feeling his friend’s knowing gaze, he relented. “I will miss Haven, yes. I…learned a great deal among the Lunar packs.” He felt Moony’s pleased agreement wash over him, and smiled faintly.
*You did well, wolfling. You are beginning to show the potential that I saw in you from a young age. You will make a great alpha someday. The wolf said quietly, overriding the wizard’s automatic protest. You are an Alpha, a leader. It is instinctual. There will come a point where you will have to decide to challenge for control of the packs. You know it as well as I. The viper is still linked to this middle plane. When he returns, he will recruit again. The packs would follow you, Remus. And you, in turn don’t have to follow Dumbledore or Voldemort. There’s always a third path.*
*I know.* Remus replied quietly. *We will follow that trail when we cross it.* He settled back in his seat, closing his eyes. “Try to get some sleep, Prongs. We’ve hours yet.”
He dozed lightly despite his advice to his friend, trusting Moony to keep track of their companions and surroundings.
“Draco, please stop dawdling. Let’s finish up at Madame Malkin’s, and then you can go look at brooms.” Narcissa said impatiently.
The eleven year old reluctantly followed her up the street, away from the broom shop, pouting only a bit. His mother sighed; she loved her son, but honestly, he was becoming more like Lucius every day. She would have to limit the time they spent together, and hopefully the effect would lessen by the time he went off to Hogwarts.
They stepped into the surprisngly empty shop as the cheerful tinkling of the bell alerted the shopkeeper of new guests.
“Another one for Hogwarts?” A clerk called as she bustled by. “Come right in; we’ve a bit of a lull before the afternoon rush.”
Pleased, Narcissa gently urged Draco to follow the clerk, and settled into a plush royal blue chair near his fitting area to wait. Madame had measured Narcissa for her first set of school robes, so the old witch certainly knew what was needed without prompting. The chair was in a prime location to people watch, with sight lines to both the door and the fitting areas. The door chimed again on the tail end of that thought, alerting the store to another guest. Narcissa glanced over, idly, only to freeze in shock.
The boy was Harry Potter.
He was small, scrawny, even for an eleven year old, but James had been the same way as a child, eventually topping out at just under six foot. His messy black hair was short, enough that the lightning bolt scar on his forehead showed clearly. Wide, bright green eyes peered around him as he chattered excitedly at the man smiling indulgently down at him.
“Aw, c’mon Uncle Remus! Just a short visit? I won’t tell the others!”
The shop was small enough that she could see the lively mischief and humor in his gaze and hear it in his voice.
“Harry James Potter, no!” His uncle laughed. “We are not going to look at brooms. Your aunt would kill me, for one, and you can’t have a broom until next year, no matter how much you hint, whine, or beg!” He tapped his nephew on the nose. “I dare you to try that that face on Professor McGonagall. You’ll have about as much success as your dad did.”
Harry stuck his tongue out at his uncle in reply, making him throw his head back and laugh, the sound joyous and echoing through the shop and causing the other patrons to look up with a smile.
Except for Narcissa. The amused smile she had worn during the byplay disappeared, and her eyes narrowed at the pair.
Remus Lupin had been a Gryffindor and close friend of both James and Lily, so there had not been much cause for formal interaction with him, at Hogwarts or after. But she remembered him; a quiet, intelligent boy with an easy smile and tired amber eyes. He had been a prefect, Narcissa remembered, along with Lily – prefect to Lucius’s Head Boy. She remembered working on the patrol schedule for both Lucius and Bella, who both felt that it was beneath them to attend to such menial duties. Lupin had always thanked her when she played errand girl and delivered the schedule to him, and offered that quiet smile, but she couldn’t ever remember hearing him laugh so exuberantly.
A certain best friend of his, however…but no. James was dead, just as Lily was, murdered by the Dark Lord, who was in turn vanquished by the boy currently still in animated conversation with his uncle. Brushing aside her thoughts, she continued to watch the duo, but the nagging sense of familiarity only remained and grew.
Remus Lupin had been contained energy, contained on the surface but a volcano underneath. Narcissa wasn’t dumb or blind; Lupin had been one of the cutest boys in Hogwarts in her year, and even the Slytherin girls had held discussions about what was really behind his hard control and easy demeanor. He caught their attention because of all that control, of which most of the girls in the school admitted(by secret, anonymous poll) that they had tried, and failed to break. Granted, over a decade had passed since she had seen him last, but this Lupin was so opposite of her mental image of him that it was almost off-putting; happy, animated, openly affectionate as he ruffled Harry’s hair. The complete 180 in personality and mannerisms was too much of a coincidence to ignore.
Narcissa sat in thought for a moment, then asked a passing clerk for a cup of tea, which was soon delivered. Glancing automatically first at Draco to make sure he was still doing fine, she made her way casually across the room to where Harry and his uncle were at the cash register to check out, ‘accidentally’ bumping into Lupin and spilling her tea all over him.
“Oh! I am so sorry! Are you all right?” She exclaimed, wide eyed.
“Fine, fine.” Lupin grumbled, pulling his shirt away from his skin and grimacing.
“May I buy you and your son a cup of coffee, or maybe an ice cream to make it up to you?” She pressed, hand on his bicep to hold him in place. It is the least I could do – ”
“Yeah! C’mon Da-Uncle Remus!” Harry called cheerfully, Draco now beside him. “And we can go check out the brooms next door!”
“Sorry, Selina. We should probably return home.” Lupin said distractedly, glaring a silent warning at Harry.
It took everything in her to not react to the slip, but years of training held true. Her jaw clenched, she conceded silently with a bow of her head, watching them hustle out of the store and out of sight. Such a little thing, calling her by her middle name instead of her first. Except for the tiny fact that most people didn’t know her middle name, or that it didn’t follow the Black family tradition of naming their children after constellations or flowers. Selina was the Goddess of the Moon, remote and beautiful and merciless in all of her phases.
James had started calling her Selina from nearly the first moment they had met, declaring that it was prettier than Narcissa and suited her much better. Lily had picked up the habit as well, but it had been an affectionate thing between the three of them; one more shared secret.
Draco followed her to the register, still bubbling with his own excitement. “Mother! I just met Harry Potter! Did you see him? He’s going to Hogwarts this year, just like me!”
She smiled affectionately at him, her heart suddenly overflowing with fierce love. “Yes, my dragon. I saw him. Are you all done with your fitting? Will you have everything you need for school?” She said, glancing up at the clerk at the counter.
The clerk smiled cheerfully, handing her a slip of paper. “All done, Mrs. Malfoy, and charged to your account. Your order will be delivered in about seven to ten business days.”
Narcissa nodded her thanks over her shoulder as her impatient son pulled her away. “Now can we go look at brooms?” He sounded so much like Harry in that moment that she stopped dead, staring at him. He looked at her inquisitively. “Mother? Are you alright?”
She took a breath, refocusing. First, to look at brooms. There would be plenty of time to start plotting and planning her confrontation with Remus Lupin…who was a Polyjuiced James Potter.
James barely waited until they were out of sight before he started cursing. Harry listened, wide-eyed and enthralled. “Er…don’t repeat any of those around your uncle.” His father said sheepishly after a moment.
“Sorry, Dad. I didn’t mean to – it just slipped!” the eleven year old exclaimed earnestly. “I don’t think Mrs. Malfoy or Draco heard us anyway, or else they would’ve said something, right? If I promise I won’t bug you about going to look at brooms anymore, can we go get lunch before we go home? The Polyjuice won’t wear off for another hour…”
The automatic denial died on James’s lips as Harry stared up at him. Damn those green eyes… “Just a quick bite.” He conceded. “And not at the Leaky Cauldron – too many people may recognize Remus for me to pull off being him. C’mon, there’s a place ‘round the corner…”
They took off down the street, never seeing the wizard who Apparated silently in behind them, or the silent spells that hit them both in the back, knocking them unconscious.
“Dear, dear me.” Albus Dumbledore murmured, shaking his head. “Remus Lupin, you naughty boy. Didn’t I tell you to leave young Mister Potter where he was, all those years ago? And James, dear boy, however did you survive? No matter. I can’t have you two marauding and mucking about, messing up my plans.” He chuckled in delight at his word play, before waving his wand over each of them. “You’ll understand someday, James. Your son has a destiny, a fate that will not be denied. This is the only path forward…”
It was a good thing that one of the silver gadgets on his desk monitored a tracking charm that he had placed on Harry before leaving him at the Dursleys. It had taken a few days to acclimate, then stopped responding all together, but he had assumed that there was too much interference, between the distance and the bit of magic surrounded by all of the Muggle technology. He had thought nothing more of it, confident in the fact that Harry was exactly where he had left him – until the gadget had started spinning and sputtering again that morning, eventually giving him the coordinates, right in Diagon Alley.
He was intensely curious about how James had survived the Killing Curse, especially since Dumbledore himself had confirmed his death, but that was not enough to alter his course.
Searching carefully in his pockets, he finally found an empty Chocolate Frog wrapper and an equally empty box of Bertie’s Every Flavour Beans, which he spelled into two Portkeys. He tucked one into James’s pocket and one into his own, watching in grim satisfaction as James’s body disappeared, before gathering Harry in his arms and Disapparating, leaving the alley empty once more.
Two weeks later, he was in his office, staring broodingly into the fire, when there was a soft knock on the door.
“Enter.” He called. “Ah, Minerva. Please, come in.”
“No need; I’m on my way to visit a Muggleborn and her parents. Just wanted to check with you before I left. Harry Potter’s letter is addressed to go out. Do you want me to deliver it personally as well? Those awful Muggles…”
“No, no. If it comes to that, I will take care of it.” He replied firmly. “Safe travels, Minerva.”
She looked as if she wanted to protest but didn’t, sweeping out of his office in a swirl of green wool. Dumbledore watched her go, his eyes hooded; he knew exactly where that letter was addressed.
Mr. H. Potter
The Cupboard Under the Stairs
4 Privet Drive
Little Whinging, Surrey
Three years later.
Thirteen year old Harry Potter was in danger – probably the most he had been in all year – and that was saying something, considering that his first, eleventh, and twelfth years of life had all concluded with someone trying to kill him.
As a toddler, just over a year old, the Dark wizard Lord Voldemort had murdered Harry’s parents, and almost succeeded in killing Harry too, only to have the curse backfire somehow, leaving Voldemort as less than a wraith. He would retain enough of an anchor in the world somehow to use the years of relative peace and prosperity to regain his strength and hone his madness and obsession.
Eventually, Professor Quirrell, Harry’s first year Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher (ironically enough) would stumble across the wraith and be possessed by it, allowing Voldemort to live off of him like a leech, and picking up where he had left of in his attempts to murder Harry.
Harry, at eleven years old, would again face down his parent’s murderer, although this time with help from his best friends, Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley.
Last year, Harry’s second at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Voldemort was much more creative and subtle – although less choosy in his targeted victims. This time he refocused his goal to eliminating Muggle-born students, using a giant basilisk which he commanded via a sixteen year old version of himself trapped in a diary. It was all very complicated and convoluted, but Harry prevailed once again, escaping with his life.
Now, well into his third year at Hogwarts, Harry was once more staring into the face of possible death. Literally.
This time however, although it was in the form of his Defense professor again, Professor Lupin was decidedly not possessed by Voldemort. He did happen to be a werewolf though, and had mentioned that he had been Harry’s father’s best friend, although that wasn’t really relevant at the moment because it was a full moon and there was no hint of the gentle, soft spoken man in the hard gold eyes of the tawny wolf snarling at him and Hermione.
It had tracked them into the Forbidden Forest, following the fake wolf howl that Hermione had done to save their lives – well, their lives from three hours earlier. Harry had a mild headache still from trying to understand it, so he just put it up to magic when Hermione had pulled the Time-Turner from under her shirt and thrown it over his head.
Unlike the first confrontation with the werewolf, Buckbeak the hippogriff was nowhere to be seen, so they were on their own.
“Professor?” Hermione stepped out from behind Harry, cautiously meeting the wolf’s gaze. “Professor Lupin?”
“Hermione.” Harry warned in a low tone, grabbing her by the arm to stop her. “Let me try. He – Remus knows me. Maybe Moony will too.” He stepped forward and directly in front of her before she could protest, drawing a rumbling snarl from the wolf.
“Easy, Moony.” he said calmly. “C’mon, you know me. I’m your cub, remember? You and Remus used to visit nearly every day. You gave me a stuffed rabbit that I used to carry everywhere, even over that dog plushie that Sirius – Padfoot- gave me.” He felt a slight probing at his mind, and absently followed the link, even as he kept talking. “I used to call you ‘ Mooey’, cuz I couldn’t pronounce my ‘n’s. You were so thrilled and smug, because I said it before Padfoot.” He stopped in surprise. How did he know all that? He had been a year old when his parents were killed, and his best memories were more of emotions, rather than tangible pictures.
The tugging on his mind stopped, and information flooded his brain. Images flashed by, too fast to see, but all immersed with scents: peppermint and sage, mixed with the sweet scent of baby powder and lavender. These were Moony’s emotions- and memories. Harry had never realized that memories and emotions and could have scent, but for a wolf, he supposed it would make sense.
“Moony?” he murmured.
The wolf relaxed and laid down in front of him, deliberately putting himself in a submissive position. Cub. It’s been a very long time.
Harry’s eyes widened as the rich, deep voice sounded in his head. “Did you just…”
*You are Pack, and therefore bonded. There is much that is unknown about werewolves because of fear and ignorance. Most dismiss us as heartless, mindless stupid beasts. I – we – have been away, as well, and that weakens the bond. I have also been deeply hampered by that poisonous potion Remus insists on drinking from that cobra that he trusts. The wolf cocked his head. I can see that there are blocks in your mind, Cub. Would you like me to remove them?
“Harry.” Hermione whispered frantically, tugging on his sleeve. “Harry, the Dementors are coming!”
He swore as he felt the familiar burning cold creep nearer. “Moony, run! Get out of here – find a place to hide! Hermione, we’ve got to go!” He exclaimed, grabbing her by the hand and pulling her away.
Wait, young ones. I will go with you.
“No! You can’t! I don’t know how the Dementors will affect you.” Harry snapped. “If you can keep your mind, then help Padfoot. Find the rat. Wormtail. You know these woods far better than we do. Just remember, we need him alive!” He let Hermione tug him away, and they ran deeper into the forest.
“Well, that just took a strange turn.” Hermione called as they fought their way through the trees.
“So much for your ‘we can’t be seen’ mandate!”
“Shut it! Now is not the time!”
“Did you just make a time joke?”
It was a sign that they had run from danger one too many times, Hermione thought wildly, when they could joke and snark at each other as they ran.
They found the pond where earlier!Harry and Sirius, Harry’s godfather, were already collapsed by the water’s edge. The Dementors had found them too and were circling ever lower, intent on their prey.
“Right there.” Harry said, pointing to a break in the woods nearby. “That’s where I saw my dad.”
“Harry…” Hermione replied sadly, transfixed by the scene before them. The Dementors had completely engulfed the two bodies, shielding them from sight. “No one’s coming.” She choked back a sob as the wraith like beings retreated, revealing Sirius and Harry once more. A white orb drifted out of Sirius’s mouth, hovering just above his body. “He’s dead…”
Harry burst into action, running a few steps forward and drawing his wand. “Expecto Patronum!” He cried, putting every single happy thought he could muster behind the spell. Silver light streamed out of his wand, quickly forming into the shape of a stag, which immediately charged into the horde of Dementors, forcing them back from the bodies of his earlier self and Sirius.
He watched for a moment, slightly in awe, before heading back into the trees to go back to where Hermione was waiting a few yards away.
He stared as a figure stepped out of the shadows.
James took a few more steps towards his son, drinking him in. “Yeah. It’s really me.” He breathed, darting forward to pull the boy into a crushing hug. Harry never saw the wand in his hand, or heard the counter spell for the memory blocks Moony had mentioned earlier, but he felt the results as the memories of his true childhood flooded his brain.
“You’ve been alive all this time…Dumbledore! But why—I’ll kill him myself!”
“Whoa! Harry, calm down and listen! You can’t kill the headmaster.” James exclaimed, grabbing the struggling teen by the arms and forcing him to a standstill.
“But he made me believe you were dead! And I didn’t even recognize Uncle Remus all year! And he made me go live with the Dursleys!” Harry snarled, still struggling.
“Harry James, control yourself. Now.” James ordered. “Enough!”
The teen subsided, sulkily. James blew out a breath, cursing his own stupidity. Part of Harry’s extreme reaction was just teenage hormones and adrenaline, but some of it was a result of the overstimulation caused by the memory blocks being removed. He waited a few more moments.
“Harry!” A young female voice called, making James blink, because it sounded a lot like a young Lily Evans.
The young woman who stepped warily out of the trees, wand drawn and pointed steadily at James, was similar enough in height and build that it made his heart jump for a minute. Her hair was brown though, where Lily’s had been red, though her voice still had that familiar cadence and tone.
“Hermione!” Harry exclaimed, moving over to her. “It’s okay! This is my dad! I really did see him!” He glanced over to where his earlier self and Sirius were still slumped. “It was just a glimpse, before I passed out. I thought it was before the Patronus, but that was me casting it. He came after.”
“Son, you’re rambling.” James said fondly, though he didn’t move; Hermione still hadn’t lowered her wand. “Miss Hermione, I really am James Potter.” He let a small smile curl his lips. “I so solemnly swear, on my honor as a Marauder.”
That got her to lower her wand. “But – you’re dead!”
“Right to the brink and back again.” He replied cheerfully. “Twice, actually. But that’s an extremely long story and we don’t have time for it yet.” He looked across the pond. The bodies were gone now, having been picked up by a small group of people that included Dumbledore, if the sparkly magenta robes were any indication. He made an educated guess. “Unless you want to use your time-turner again?”
“Oh!” Hermione jumped, as if stabbed with a pin. “Harry, we have to go – Sirius should be in the Tower soon.” She glanced back into the wood. “I’ll go get Buckbeak. He found me while you were…otherwise occupied.” She waved her hands, encompassing the clearing, pond, James. “I’ll be right back.”
“Sirius? Sirius Black?” James demanded. “How’d he escape from Azkaban! He’s a traitor!”
“No, he isn’t.” Harry protested. “He switched being Secret Keepers with Pettigrew! It was a double blind – no one was supposed to know. He wanted to keep the focus on him and even set up a trap, but Wormtail betrayed us to Voldemort!”
James stared at him, absolutely dumbfounded. “He…tricked us? He never actually turned Dark?” he breathed, his mind racing as the missing pieces fell into place and the sense of absolute betrayal faded away. “I’m going with you to get him.”
“You can’t.” Harry shook his head. “Dad, Sirius was in Azkaban for thirteen years, under the influence of the Dementors, all while believing that you and mum died believing that he had betrayed you. The shock of you being alive might just send him back over the edge after all!”
“Besides, sir, we have to get up to the North Tower. And while there’s room on Buckbeak for the three of us on the way up, there won’t be enough room for all four of us on the way down.” Hermione added as she led the hippogriff out of the trees.
“Fine.” James said heavily. “Harry, you said something about Remus being here?”
The teen nodded. “He’s our DADA teacher this year.” He revealed with a grin. “But tonight he’s out somewhere, presumably hunting for Wormtail. Or Moony is, anyway.”
James thought for a moment. “Okay, when you go to rescue Sirius, you tell him – and Remus when you see him – that they need to spend some time in Muggle London. They’ll both know what that means, even if Remus doesn’t yet remember my being alive.”
Both teens nodded seriously, their eyes wide. James braced himself. Now came the hard part.
“I need you both to pretend like nothing else happened tonight, that you don’t know I’m back. You can’t tell anyone.” He blew out a breath. “And Harry, that means that you have to go back to the Dursleys.”
“Just for a day or two at the absolute max.” He interrupted, though his heart was breaking. “We want to keep the advantage son, and that means making sure that Dumbledore still believes that everything is going to his plan.”
“You really don’t trust the Headmaster, do you?” Hermione frowned, watching them.
“No. I don’t. He is playing chess, has been for generations, where the rest of us are playing checkers.” He answered grimly, not looking away from his son. “Promise me, Harry. Keep your head down, and your temper leashed.”
The teen grimaced, but sighed. “I promise.”
“Good lad.” He pulled him in for another hug, savoring the feel, before stepping back. “No more than a day, Harry. We’ll be together again soon. I promise.” Stepping back, he smiled at Hermione. “It was nice to meet you, Miss Hermione. I’m sure we’ll see each other again soon.”
“Erm, yes…” she said faintly, suddenly shy. “You too…”
She and Harry watched as he transformed into Prongs, who snorted at them and shoved Harry hard with his nose before leaping off into the forest.
“Well.” Harry said after a moment. “Let’s get back to our rescue mission, shall we?”